Salem Blue Devils Football '18

Pinkerton rolls past Salem, into state title game

SALEM — Covered from head to toe in mud for the second straight week, Pinkerton’s Gannon Fast raised his arms and let out a shout of excitement as he walked towards the screaming crowd.
“There’s nothing better than winning a game like this,” said Fast. “We went to the state title game last year and lost, so there is nothing better than earning another shot. And we have it now.”
Leading by just six points at halftime, No. 4 Pinkerton scored on its first four possessions of the second half and rolled to a 30-7 victory over No. 3 Salem in the New Hampshire Division 1 semifinal.
The victory sends Pinkerton back to the Division 1 state championship game, on Saturday at the University of New Hampshire (6 p.m.) The Astros (9-2) will face Bedford (11-0), the No. 1-ranked team in New Hampshire.
“It feels so good!” said senior Gennaro Marra. “Our goal all year was to go back to the title game. We want to earn some redemption after last year. But we have a lot of work to do.”
Pinkerton returns to the Division 1 title game after falling to Winnacunnet last season at UNH. It’s the Astros’ 10 trip to the championship game in the last 12 years. They last won the title in 2014.
“What we’ve wanted all season was another chance at a state championship and a championship jacked,” said senior Nick Lombard. “Most of this team were starters last year, and we have grown a lot. Now we are going to see what we need to do to win.”
Saturday’s win also marked the second straight season that Pinkerton beat Salem in the semifinals after falling to the Blue Devils in the regular season. The Blue Devils won a 15-14 thriller on Sept. 28.
“When we played Salem earlier in the year it was hands down our worst game of the season,” said Fast. “Going into this game, the amount of anger and preparedness was indescribable. We were hungry for this win.”
Fast looked hungry to start the game. On Pinkerton’s fourth play from scrimmage he broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run.
But Salem’s defense responded after that and kept the score 6-0 at halftime. The Blue Devils delivered a huge defensive stand right before the break, stopping Pinkerton four times inside their 3-yard line. Owen Gormley, Will Michaud and Beau Dillon each made a stop on the stand.
“We said to each other that at halftime it was either step up now or go home,” said Lombard. “And all we wanted was another shot at a state title. So put left it all out there and got it done.”
The Astros wasted no time taking control after the break.
Four plays into the third, Lombard broke a 48-yard touchdown run. After forcing Salem into a turnover on downs, Pinkerton went on a 14-play drive that ended with a Marra 12-yard score.
Salem was then forced to punt from its 1-yard line, and Pinkerton’s Allen Gault blocked the punt in the end zone and Fast recovered it for a touchdown. 
Fast then capped the scoring a possession later with a 16-yard TD run. He finished with 163 yards rushing on 22 carries. Lombard added 92 yards on 12 rushes.
Meanwhile, the Pinkerton defense dominated. 
The Astros allowed Salem just 168 yards for the game, 62 of those — and the Blue Devils’ touchdown — coming on the final two possessions after the Pinkerton starters had left the game.
Jackson Clark led the Astros with eight tackles, Fast and Evan Wilson each had six tackles and Marcus Terrio knocked down two passes.
“Our linemen really stepped up,” said Lombard. “And our linebackers were all over the place making plays. We did what we needed to do.”
Pinkerton will now look to earn an upset at UNH.
“Bedford is a great team,” said Fast. “They’re undefeated and haven’t played a close game. But I’m excited for a shot at a great team, and another shot at a state championship.”

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Football, 11/10/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Michaud sends Salem into semifinal showdown with Pinkerton

HAMPTON - The defending New Hampshire Division 1 champions had more than its fill of Will Michaud down the stretch.

Three weeks after the Salem running back went to Winnacunnet and ran for a season-high 118 yards in a Blue Devil regular-season win, the senior almost doubled that total in a game that mattered even more.

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Football, 11/03/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Salem heads into postseason with rout

DOVER — Salem needed a win to secure a playoff spot, and win it did.

The Blue Devils rolled over Dover Friday night, opening up a 35-0 halftime lead to cruise to a 35-14 win.

Salem (7-2) finished as the No. 3 seed in South/East bracket, and will play at No. 2 Winnacunnet (6-3), which won the East Division, in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs. A date and time are to be determined. The Blue Devils won at Winnacunnet, 20-13, two weeks ago.

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Football, 10/26/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Salem, Spaulding

SALEM – A week after knocking off the defending state champ to put itself in control of its playoff destiny, Salem remained squarely in the Division 1 postseason hunt with a dominating 54-0 victory over Spaulding.
The victory moved the Blue Devils (3-2 in the South, 6-2 overall) into second-place in the South, half a game ahead of Pinkerton (2-2, 6-2), which lost to Salem last month.
“If we win next week (against 4-4 Dover), we’re in,” Salem coach Rob Pike said. “The kids know that any week anything can happen. We got a few lucky breaks tonight, and we executed. The kids prepared all week like they knew it was going to be a game. And they came out and did well.”
After building a 40-0 halftime lead, the only remaining question Friday night was whether Zachary Gibbons and his right leg would get a school record. After missing a couple extra-point chances in the first half, the senior kicker connected on his fifth of the night and the 102nd of his career late in the third quarter. That kick eclipsed the previous mark set by Chris Saulnier, who finished his high-school career in 2009 – the last time the Blue Devils won a state title.
“I was pretty mad at myself for missing those (in the first half) because prior to that I’d only missed two all season,” said Gibbons, who also had one of Salem’s five fumble recoveries. “One was a muffed snap and the other one was blocked, so I think the nerves got to me. It feels great to have (the record). It’s a lot of pressure off my shoulders, and it felt good.”
Salem gave Gibbons plenty of chances, scoring eight touchdowns against a winless Spaulding squad that has won only 45 games in the past 21 years, according to its longtime statistician.
“There’s a lot that goes into that (extra-point) operation with the snap and the hold,” Pike said. “Everything has to be perfect … (Gibbons) has been great his whole career and he’s been consistent.”
The Blue Devils scored five times on the ground with runs by Riley Mulvey (17 yards), Daniel Johnston (6), Brandon Wall (25), Aidan McDonald (1) and Jackson Burns (23). Only one of Salem’s seven scoring drives lasted more than four plays or 75 seconds.
Linebacker Connor Chute scored his first career touchdown with a 38-yard fumble return that provided a 33-0 lead with 5:25 left in the first half.
Kyle Poulin, who attempted only three passes, threw a pair of touchdown passes of 33 yards to Michael Ference and 75 yards to Mulvey en route to a season-high 108 yards. Poulin now has seven scoring tosses against only one interception.
“Really, all year, Kyle has been doing well for us,” Pike said. “He executes well and does an excellent job for us. And we have guys who can go get it like Michael Ference, Alex Weston and Donovan Abraham, so we will need that (in the postseason) probably.”
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Football, 10/19/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Ferences save Salem in dramatic win over defending champs

HAMPTON, N.H. — The Ference brothers did it all and Salem registered a huge 20-13 win over defending Division 1 champion Winnacunnet. Junior Michael Ference caught scoring passes of 4 and 15 yards from Kyle Poulin. Senior James Ference picked off two passes including late in the game at the Salem 12. Both clubs are now 5-2.

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Football, 10/12/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Windham, Salem


SALEM — What a way to start a rivalry!

At least for Windham.

In the first football game ever played between the neighboring rivals, Windham scored last to win a thriller, 31-28, to improve to 3-3 and knock Salem (4-2) out of a tie for first in the Division 1 South.

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Football, 10/05/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Paci (3 TDs) bulldozes Salem past Timberlane

SALEM - Salem coach Rob Pike has been living with a "next man up" mentality with his running backs all season.

Injuries have forced new, unexpected faces like Brandon Wall, Will Michaud and Jackson Burns to step into prominent roles in the backfield.

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Football, 09/22/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Blue Curtain: White, Salem shut down Exeter

SALEM - Exeter is a tough football program.

The Blue Hawks haven't missed the playoffs since 2010, and a recent article by Seacoast Online billed this year's offensive and defensive line as the strength of the team.

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Football, 08/31/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars