Pelham Pythons Football '08

Sat, Nov 22, 2008 01:00 PM @ Pelham
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Playoff Game
St. Thomas Aquinas 0 0 0 0 0
Pelham 6 0 8 8 22

King Bruce fuels Pelham to repeat crown

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Saturday, November, 22 By Dave Dyer
Staff writer

PELHAM, N.H. — The Bruce Vieira era ended with a rousing and climactic final chapter yesterday in the Division 5 state championship game.

With Vieira rushing for 135 yards and scoring every point in the game, Pelham captured its second straight state crown, and won its 22nd consecutive game, with a commanding 22-0 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas in front of a frigid crowd of about 1,000 fans.

“To end my career like this is unbelievable,” said Vieira. “I couldn’t have planned it any better. Not a lot of teams can do what we did. ... It’s a great feeling.”

The rock-solid 5-foot-8, 175-pounder finishes the season with 1,205 yards and 22 touchdowns to cap his four-year career with 3,957 yards and an astounding 78 touchdowns.

Vieira showed he meant business from the start of the game as he gained 11 and 5 yards on his first two carries in a dominating 19-play, 80-yard opening drive that chewed up 10:02 of the clock and ended with a 9-yard score on a draw play.

“That was a heck of a drive and took a lot out of us,” said St. Thomas coach Rod Wotton. “I can’t remember a drive taking so much time off the clock. And to overcome those penalties (three for 30 yards) is a real credit to them.”

Strong at the start, Vieira was unstoppable in the fourth quarter. Ahead 14-0, the Python rode Vieira to a final TD to ice the game. On a 71-yard drive that ate up 5:29 off the clock, Vieira carried 10 times for 69 yards.

Despite the 25-degree temperatures, and a wind chill of less than 15, Vieira said he didn’t feel the cold at all, and he “felt stronger in the fourth quarter than all game.”

Overall, Vieira ran the ball 29 times, which was five more than the entire St. Thomas backfield.

“That was our plan all week, to pound the rock as much as we could,” said Pelham coach Tom Babaian. “We wanted Bruce to be a workhorse. He’s a champion and you win championships with champions.

“He can do everything, and he’s at his best in big games. I’m not going to have another like him as long as I coach.”

And yet, Vieira had plenty of help in Pelham’s domination of the Saints (8-3), including on the momentum-fueling opening drive, that put the Pythons ahead 6-0. Quarterback Joe DeAngelo was effective on option runs up the middle, rushing for 23 yards on four carries, and he completed 2 of 3 passes for 38 yards, including a nifty 26-yarder to Wayne Parisi.

Defensively, Pelham came up with big play after big play all afternoon.

Holding St. Thomas to just four plays in the first quarter, the Pythons relied on clutch plays in the second quarter, first on a Josh Luciano interception on the 1-yard-line and, just before halftime, on a  fumble recovery (forced by Vieira) in the end zone by Michael Lombard.

Two more interceptions, by Luciano, and Andrew Keegan, and a fumble recovery by Parisi in the second half, helped keep the Saints off the board.

The Parisi fumble recovery came following a mammoth 26-yard sack of St. Thomas quarterback Jack MacNevin. A quartet of Pythons, led by sophomore Warren Greenhalgh  and senior Bill Helliwell, had MacNevin turning and twisting for 25 yards before he finally was tackled and coughed up the ball.

That gave Pelham the ball on the St. Thomas 16-yard-line late in the third quarter and led to its second touchdown. Four plays later, Vieira went five yards through a big hole cleared by Dave Wesson for his second TD. He then ran in the extra points for what proved to be an insurmountable 14-0 lead.

“I couldn’t have asked for more from my team today,” said Babaian. “This ends a great year and a great two years. Both teams were champions, but this was probably my best team. The kids came up big whenever they needed to.”

Game Statistics:

First Quarter

P — Bruce Vieira 9 run (kick failed), 1:55

Third Quarter


P — Vieira 5 run (Vieira run), 1:45

Fourth Quarter

P — Vieira 5 run (Vieira run), 6:16



RUSHING: P (49—198) — Bruce Vieira 29-135, Josh Luciano 4-8, Cam Robidoux 5-19, Joe DeAngelo; ST  (24-19) — Zach Merrigan 5-6, Dave Tovey 8-9, Evan Simone 2-16, Jack MacNevin 7-(-17), Zach Duffy 2-5 

PASSING: P — DeAngelo 2-3-0, 28; ST — MacNevin 9-18-3, 136

RECEIVING: P — Wayne Parisi 1-26, Luciano 1-12; ST — Merrigan 1-13, Joshn Foster 1-18, Tovey 3-21, Paul Brown 3-58, Daniel DiCesaro 1-26

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