Lowell Red Raiders Football '15

Haverhill, Lowell

HAVERHILL — On a morning in which J.C. Laguerre ground up 247 yards, piling up 1,164 for his junior season, that final yard loomed largest.
Facing a 3rd-and-1 from the Haverhill High 21 with just over a minute to play,
Laguerre plowed off right tackle for his 40th and final carry on the day, lowering the boom and picking up the first down …
By four inches.
That was enough to kill the remaining clock and reward the Hillies with a hard-fought 35-28 Turkey Day win here at Trinity Stadium before about 700 fans.
“There wasn’t much room, but I knew we needed it,” said Laguerre, who took over as the lead back in Week 8 when Pedro Santiago went down with an injury. “I just dipped my shoulder and drove through.”
With the win, Haverhill put last year’s Thanksgiving disappointment, an 8-6 loss to the Red Raiders, to rest and it locked up the fourth straight winning season for the Hillies at 6-5.
The last time the Hillies had at least four straight winning seasons was 1971-75 (five straight).
Laguerre, the busiest of the Hillies’ heroes on this day with 40 carries, scored on TD runs of 2, 7 and 13 yards for Haverhill, which ate clock all day long, chewing up 375 yards on 62 carries.
“There’s a reason we gave him the football all three times on that last possession. He’s our horse,” said Haverhill coach Tim O’Connor. “He showed his toughness there. What a huge yard that was. He’s really grown up this year, emotionally, physically, just in every way possible.”
Still, with Laguerre’s monster effort, the Hillies had to have more.
Trailing by a TD late, the visitors moved to the Haverhill 9 for a first-and-goal.
QB Matt Smith, who had three more TD passes yesterday to finish with 23 on the season, threw a pair of incompletions.
And on third down, Hillie junior defensive tackle Josh Gendron swatted his pass away at the line.
Facing 4th-and-goal, Lowell (3-7) was sure to go to its top weapon, slot receiver Keith Lynch (3 catches, 108 yards).
Hillie corner Aaron Brooks knew it, too.
“He hurt us all day, and they had to look to him,” said Brooks. “I just followed him on the wheel (route) and made a play.”
That play, very similar to Brooks’ game-saving pick in the playoffs against Reading in the 2014 playoffs, denied Lowell for the last time.
“This one is big, just because it let’s the seniors go out winners on our own field,” said Brooks, one of a slew of talented juniors who carried the Hillies as injuries mounted.
Gendron was another, and if yesterday’s effort is a harbinger of things to come, folks had better prep for No. 67 in the 2016 season.
What didn’t Gendron do yesterday?
He excelled on the offensive line — along with classmates Ryan Panici and Kirk Murray who’ll return next year, plus seniors Nehemiah Jerez and Brandon Ray — that decimated Lowell up front.
Defensively, he came up with six solo tackles, that late swat, a sack, and a forced fumble/recovery in the third quarter.
That play in the third, when he basically snatched a draw handoff right out of Smith’s hands before the running back got there, allowed the Hillies to build a 14-point lead. It was just huge.
“We had been scouting that play all week. I just read it and got there a little too early for them,” said Gendron.
Senior Luc Chretien, battered around with a charley horse and a pair of bloodied elbows, ended his career in style, anchoring the defense with Jason Tufts at linebacker and carrying seven times for 50 yards and a TD.
Junior Jacob Dion had 8 rushes for 62 yards, including his 35-yard score.
“All year long this is the way it has been with younger kids stepping up for us,” said O’Connor. “And now we get to look forward to having everyone back. We finished this year with nine underclassmen on offense and nine underclassmen on the defense."

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Football, 11/26/15 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Raiders clinch another title

LAWRENCE — The outcome, an easy 49-14 romp over Lowell, was expected but it still held special meaning for Central Catholic and standout sophomore quarterback Bret Edwards Friday night.
The victory lifted Central to 6-1 heading into next week’s Division 1 playoffs and, more important, 4-0 in the MVC large, which clinched its fourth straight league title and third straight outright.
“We’ve never done that (won three straight) before so this is pretty special,” said Central coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “That was our motivation during the week.
“I’m thrilled that we could do this. At the beginning of the year, having lost all our lineman and our quarterback, I didn’t know what we had. I really wasn’t expecting this.”
Edwards, of course, has fit in quite nicely as the new QB and, as a Lowell resident, Friday night’s win was special for him.
“I was looking forward to it and this was definitely great to play against them and do so well,” said Edwards. “I know a lot of the kids on the team and until the eighth grade I always thought I’d be going to Lowell. But Central is a great fit for me.”
Edwards was 6 of 12 with two touchdowns and 75 yards, which aren’t great numbers but two passes were dropped and a 54-yard TD pass was called back by a penalty.
Besides, after a slow start in which the Raiders struggled on their first two possessions, they had plenty of other offense. Omar Deschamps rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns (19 and 38 yards) and Robert Fitzgerald matched him with two TDs, one a 63-yard inside burst, and 77 yards on four carries.
Despite the slow start, Central led 21-0 after the first quarter, thanks partly to a recovered onside kick and a blocked punt by Matt Thomas that gave the ball to the Raiders on Lowell’s 1-yard-line.
Mathias Villafane had a 24-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring in the first quarter and his 38-yard punt return set up Central’s last score of the half, a 15-yard pass to Steven Jackson, which made it 35-0 at the intermission.
After the Raiders took a 42-0 lead after three quarters, the final frame was left for the reserves, which included backup quarterback Matt Horgan, who gained 22 yards on four carries and scored the last TD on a 6-yard scamper.
“We had a sluggish start, but I liked the way we played after that,” said Adamopoulos. “We’re pretty excited ... now it’s onto the playoffs and we’ll see how we do.”

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Football, 10/24/15 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Jenkins big in comeback win for Lawrence

LOWELL — For nearly a century these teams, Lawrence High and Lowell High, finished their seasons going head-to-head on Thanksgiving Day before packed stadiums.

Some things have changed, including the smaller crowds, and last night the rivals met on opening night in Massachusetts.

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Football, 09/11/15 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars