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In CHaD games, big plays happen on the defensive side of the football

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 28. 2018 10:42PM
Defense Nolan Farina of Plymouth, practicing with Team West, second from left, at the NH Sportsplex on Thursday afternoon. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader.)

MANCHESTER — Talk all you want about the elite offensive players who will participate in Saturday’s CHaD East-West All-Star Football Game, but history suggests this year’s winner will be determined by defense.

In each of the previous six games, the winning team has turned in a dominant defensive performance, or, at the very least, come up with a game-changing play on defense. Heck, Portsmouth defensive tackle Ricky Holt was named the MVP of the 2013 game and he played for the losing team.

Last summer, the West intercepted two passes in the third quarter and returned one for a touchdown to pull away for a 25-14 victory. The losing team has never scored more than 15 points in the game.

“The offense is always behind the defense in a game like this,” said Laconia coach Craig Kozens, who is coaching the East for the fourth straight year. “The timing of the offense takes a while to get there. (Defensive coordinator) Kevin Hebert has done a wonderful job with our defense in the past. That’s what kept us in the game last year.

“We know they’re the favorite. We know they have many weapons. They have two Gatorade Players of the Year (Goffstown’s Andrew Duval and Plymouth’s Garrett Macomber) and two guys going to UNH (Duval and Merrimack’s Joe Eichman). Duval and Eichman are two great players. We’re just hoping our (defensive) guys are in the right place … hoping they’re where they need to be. I’m worried about big plays. They have big-play players.”
CHaD Game rosters

CHaD rosters page

For a downloadable .pdf of the CHaD East-West All-Star Game rosters, click the image above.

Saturday’s game, which features some of the top New Hampshire high school players from the Class of 2018, will be played at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium (1 p.m. kickoff). General admission tickets are $10 and $20 and are available at the website until 4 p.m. today. Tickets may also be purchased at the gate Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.

Proceeds will benefit Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD).

Some of the game’s top defensive performances came in 2012 — the first year the game was played — and in 2014. The West scored 21 points off turnovers and recorded a safety en route to a 44-12 triumph in 2012; and the East was limited to 131 yards of offense and had four passes intercepted in a 24-7 loss in 2014.

How does Concord’s Eric Brown, the West’s head coach, feel about his defense? “Really good,” Brown said. “We’ve shown steady improvement every day. I can’t really pinpoint one area on our defense that’s stronger than the others, but our defensive leaders so far have been our safeties — Farina (Plymouth’s Nolan Farina) and Duval. Those are the guys making all the calls.”

The biggest challenge for the West defense may be bottling up Salem running back Charles Sibanda, who ran for 1,269 yards and scored 14 touchdowns last season despite missing significant time with a leg injury.

“Sibanda is the real deal,” Kozens said. “I wasn’t involved (as a coach) the first year, but since then he’s the best back the East has had.”

Portsmouth’s Cody Graham is expected to take most of the snaps for the East. Brown said the West will use both Bedford’s Connor Robert and Nashua South’s Sean Holland at quarterback.

“It doesn’t matter who starts (at any position) in my opinion,” Brown said. “We have 41 starters on the team. We’re going to play everybody.”

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The West captains for Saturday’s game: Robert, Holland, Duval, Michael Boucher (Milford) and Moises Celaya (Hanover). The East captains are Nate Hunt (Spaulding), Ryan Hanson (Winnacunnet), Billy Powers (Winnacunnet), John Cantwell (Dover) and Tim Bouchard (St. Thomas). Powers, a running back, is injured and will not play. …

Each team will have a walk-through practice at UNH today. The East will practice from 11:40 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the West will practice from 1 p.m. to 2:20 p.m. …

The West has a 4-2 edge in the series. 2012

Score: West 44, East 12

West head coach: Keith Jones

East head coach: Bill Raycraft

Bo Dickson MVP Award: Thaddeus Brown Jr. (Manchester Central)

Dan Duval Community Service Award: Stephen Grzywacz (Manchester Central)

Highest fund-raiser: Stephen Grzywacz (Manchester Central)


Score: West 13, East 7

West head coach: Jim Schubert

East head coach: Bob Camirand

Bo Dickson MVP Award: Rick Holt (Portsmouth)

Dan Duval Community Service Award: Danny Cannone (Windham)

Highest fund-raiser: Dylan York (Bedford)


Score: West 24, East 7

West head coach: Paul Lavigne

East head coach: Tony Johnson

Bo Dickson MVP Award: Marc Gaudet (Concord)

Dan Duval Community Service Award: Brad Rhoades (Trinity)

Highest fund-raiser: Nicholas Vailas (Bedford)


Score: East 29, West 15

West head coach: Keith Jones

East head coach: Craig Kozens

Bo Dickson MVP Award: Eric Fairweather (Londonderry)

Dan Duval Community Service Award: Nate Arnold (Kennett)

Highest fund-raiser: Brendan McInnis (Windham)


Score: East 28, West 14

West head coach: Paul Lavigne

East head coach: Craig Kozens

Bo Dickson MVP Award: Jason Hughes (Timberlane)

Dan Duval Community Service Award: Patrick Hume (Windham)

Highest fund-raiser: Bobby Heald (Bedford)


Score: West 25, East 14

West head coach: Jim Schubert

East head coach: Craig Kozens

Bo Dickson MVP Award: Justin Grassini (Merrimack)

Dan Duval Community Service Award: Liam Viviano (Winnacunnet)

Highest fund-raiser: Tim Ramsay (Exeter)

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