MANCHESTER — Jack Byrne has been on the Windham High football team staff for so long that it does not matter to him who is credited with the win as head coach. When the Jaguars defeated Manchester Memorial, 35-7, in Division I play Friday night at Chabot-McDonough Field, he cared more that it was Windham’s first win of the season than his first ever leading the program.
“I know it sounds corny but that’s really how I feel,” said Byrne, who previously served as Windham’s defensive coordinator for 10 years under former coach Bill Raycraft. “It feels good and we got it with the right kind of kids. We really have good kids who are doing things right and that’s the team I want to win with.”
Bobby DiCicco did his best to make sure Byrne and the Jaguars (1-2) captured their first victory by scoring three times in the first half, helping Windham take a 28-0 lead into halftime. The senior scored on runs of 1 and 9 yards and also stripped Memorial’s Jevohn Collier before dashing 59 yards for a touchdown.
DiCicco ran for a game-high 87 yards on nine carries.
“Bobby is a coach’s dream,” Byrne said. “To have him as a senior in my first year as a head coach, that’s what you sign up for and he’s carrying us on the field. The kid’s doing everything right in class, doing everything right in the hallways. He’s just taking care of people throughout his whole day.”
The Jaguars’ took a 14-0 lead with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter, when junior quarterback Stephen Mague connected with Cole Peterson for a 45-yard TD pass and Adam Burke followed up with his second of five extra-point kicks.
The Jaguars forced running time following freshman Tom Maloney’s 2-yard touchdown run with 2:17 remaining in the third quarter. The Crusaders (1-2) got on the board and trimmed Windham’s lead to 35-7 on the ensuing kickoff, which sophomore Kai Colson returned 88 yards for a touchdown.
Memorial never moved the ball inside the Jaguars’ 39-yard line over its nine drives. Byrne credited his defensive staff for taking the unit on as its own, which has allowed him to focus on his head coaching duties.
Memorial coach Rob Sturgis said his offense had trouble finishing drives.
“We’d gain 20 yards then go backwards 10 yards,” Sturgis said. “You’ve got to be able to be consistent to be a good football team. That’s the key. We’ve got to get consistent.”
In addition to DiCicco’s rushing efforts, the Jaguars also had Riley Desmarais gain 40 yards on 13 carries and Mague run for 44 yards on 16 attempts. In his first start under center, Mague went 1 of 6 passing, with his one completion being the 45-yard score to Peterson.
Rob Fuller ran for a team-high 23 yards on 10 carries, Jeffrey Josefik went 4 of 11 passing for 45 yards and Collier logged two receptions for 32 yards for the Crusaders.
“It was awesome for us to rebound from two different types of losses,” Byrne said. “To regroup this week and go get it against a team that already has a win this year and has been playing really hard....We knew we had to work, we had to push to earn our first one so hopefully that gets some momentum going.”