Concord High School senior runningback Walters Ndi rushes for a touchdown in the second quarter of Concord's football game against Goffstown High School. Concord went on to beat Goffstown 35â7 at Memorial Field in Concord on Friday, November 1, 2013. (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
It had happened just once before in 116 years of Concord High football, the Crimson Tide going undefeated and untied in the regular season.
Now, make that twice.
Concord dominated Goffstown, 35-7, last night to complete a 9-0 regular season, duplicating the feat of the 1982 squad. The victory also wrapped up home field for as long as the Tide is alive in the playoffs, which start next weekend when Concord hosts Manchester Central in the Division I quarterfinals for the North Conference title. Central got the playoff nod when it beat Bedford, 20-16, last night. It will be Concord’s first playoff appearance since 2004.
“It took a lot of work, a lot of preparation. It was all practice. We couldn’t have done it if we didn’t have a good practice session,” said junior lineman Kris Skinner, who had two sacks and another resonating tackle for loss of yardage. “We finished 9-0, but tomorrow’s a new season. Tomorrow we’re 0-0.”
It was the culmination of a process begun five years ago when Coach Eric Brown took over the reins of the program. Concord went 0-10 his first season, but began laying the groundwork for what’s happening now at Memorial Field.
“I say this to every freshman class: Make a commitment and stay together as a class, and these guys did,” Brown said. “It’s more than just staying together, though, it’s a pretty talented group of kids that really worked hard at it to be a good football team.”
The seniors played a huge role last night. Walters Ndi scored three touchdowns and rolled up 156 yards on 17 carries in just a little more than one half of play, surpassing 1,000 yards rushing for the season. Marc Gaudet got things started with a touchdown reception. Six seniors had receptions in the Tide’s balanced passing game. And no fewer than nine seniors rotated through a defense that shut out the Grizzlies (3-6) until Goffstown scored late in the game against the Tide’s bench.
“It was just a special game for the seniors and we all wanted to make it memorable for them,” Skinner said. “This is their last home game on Friday night under the lights and this is the first year they haven’t had this their last game.”
After quarterback Rob Law (7-for-12, 88 yards) found Gaudet for an 11-yard touchdown pass on the game’s first series, Goffstown responded with a 68-yard kickoff return to the 20-yard line. On the next play, Wyatt LaBombard stripped the ball and Gaudet scooped it up and returned it the length of the field. But the apparent touchdown was called back due to a facemask penalty. Instead of deflating, the Tide defense stiffened. Seimou Smith nearly intercepted a pass at the goal line and LaBombard and Skinner combined on a sack.
Then, when Goffstown’s 35-yard field goal attempt turned into a line drive into the line, LaBombard – a 250-pound lineman – plucked the loose ball and rumbled untouched about 70 yards for a touchdown and a 15-0 Tide lead.
“They really answered the bell. They really stood tall and made big plays when it really counted,” Brown said.
A 32-yard punt return by Leo Sudieh set up the Tide’s next one-play drive, with Ndi running it in from 18 yards out. Ndi added a 9-yard TD run to start the second quarter, and Kevin Condict’s third PAT made it 29-0.
Twice in the second quarter Goffstown went for it on fourth down in Concord’s half of the field, but both times came up empty, once when quarterback Casey Gervais (12-for-29, 136 yards) overthrew his receiver and a second time when Skinner wrapped up Connor Bourque at the line and body-slammed him to the turf for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-1.
Four plays later, Ndi wove his way through the defense for a 42-yard touchdown and a 35-0 lead heading into the half.
All that was left was for Ndi to eclipse 1,000 yards (he did it on his third carry of the second half, then came out) and for the Tide to finish off its perfect regular season.
“We’ve got the big picture in mind. 9-0 is great, but without 12-0 …” Brown said, then paused. “That’s what our goal is.”
(Sandy Smith can be reached at 369-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Monadnock 27, Pembroke 19
The Spartans (3-6) had a positive end to their season, taking undefeated Monadnock (9-0) to the limit on the road.
Pembroke led for most of the first half until a late touchdown run by the Huskies tieD the game at 13 going into halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Monadnock scored two straight TDs to go ahead 27-13. The Spartans made a comeback bid, with a late 75-yard passing TD from quarterback Vinny Dustin to Adam Gelinas. Pembroke failed its subsequent onside kick attempt but forced a quick three-and-out from Monadnock to get the ball back but ran out of time to make a final push.
Dustin (126 yards passing, 66 rushing, one rush TD, one passing TD) and Gelinas (158 yards receiving, TD, two field goals) starred for the Spartans offensively. Thirty-four of Gelinas’s receiving yards came from a pass by Chris Cushing.
Dean Dustin, Shane Gillen, Keenan Abbott, Vinny Dustin, Mike Patnode, Zach Wiggin and Troy Wallace played well on the defensive end.
Lebanon 14, Kearsarge 0
The Cougars (2-7) ended their season getting shut out at home by Lebanon (4-5). Kearsarge lost five straight games to close out the year.
No details were reported.