Josh Luciano takes off on a 60-yard run to the end zone.
The Somersworth defense actually didn’t do too bad of a job holding Pelham’s All-State back Bruce Vieira to only 75 yards rushing, but if you added in a 40-yard touchdown that got called back and two other long gains that were nullified by Python penalties, he would have had 150 yards for the night. Pelham’s defense stiffened every time Somersworth went on a long drive, and interceptions by Josh Luciano and Vieira killed two other scoring drives. The Pythons had 27 kids that were dressed and healthy to play for this game, as sophomore back Timmy Schaffer got the Pythons on the scoreboard when he scored on a five-yard run and, with 7:13 left in the first period, Wayne Parisi added the extra point to give Pelham an early 7 - 0 cushion. Pelham’s defense stuffed the Hilltoppers on the next possession, but there was also another half-hour delay when a Hilltopper player injured his collarbone and an ambulance had to be called to the field. The Pythons looked like they would add on to their lead but a 40-yard touchdown run by Bruce Vieira was called because of holding, and Pelham’s drive ended on Somersworth’s 45-yard line. Pelham’s offense came to life again on the last play of the first quarter when junior Josh Luciano took off on a 57-yard jaunt to the Hilltopper nine-yard line. Two plays later, Schaffer scored his second touchdown of the game from five yards out and, after a missed extra point, Pelham led 13 - 0 with 11:47 left in the first half. Somersworth drove down to Pelham’s 10-yard line with eight minutes left in the half, but Josh Luciano came up with a clutch interception to kill that threat, and Pelham took over on their own 20-yard line. Luciano and junior Joe DeAngelo had been swapping at quarterback and receiver or running back throughout the game, and Luciano, Vieira, Schaffer, and fullback Corey Peterson took turns lugging the ball down the field, until, with 3:59 left in the first half, Luciano called his own number and scored from 12 yards out to make it a 19 - 0 game. Following the kickoff, Somersworth fumbled the ball three plays later, and the ever-alert Vieira pounced on the ball at the Hilltoppers 27-yard line. DeAngelo hit Luciano with an 11-yard pass before Vieira bolted 16 yards into the end zone. Parisi’s extra point gave Pelham a 26 - 0 cushion that would hold up through halftime.
Neither team had any kind of drive until Somersworth again threatened late in the third period, but Bruce Vieira picked off a pass at his own 17-yard line and returned it 43 yards to the Hilltopper 40-yard line. Pelham pounded the ball on the ground with Peterson, Schaffer, Luciano and Vieira picking up big chunks of yardage until Vieira closed out the scoring on the day with an 11-yard touchdown run. Pelham’s J.V. defense came on for the final eight minutes and kept the shutout going, and the offense did very well for the second game in a row, as freshman quarterback Johnny Bourk took the team right down the field behind some bruising running from Warren Greenhalgh as they took it down to the four-yard line. Sean Sweeney made a touchdown saving tackle in the final minute to give the Pythons the 32 - 0 shutout and a 3-0 record. Pelham will have a week off due to a bye in their schedule, but coach Tommy Babaian says that his team still has plenty of things to work on in practice before they head north to play Bow next week. Babaian said, “We definitely have to get off the stupid penalties that really cost us. We got a kid like Vieira going to be one of the leading scorers in the area and a couple of big gainers get called back because of dumb penalties, and one of them was a 40-yard touchdown run. We have to think more, too, because with 10 minutes left in the first half, I already had to use all three of my first-half timeouts and that stinks. Conor McColgan played another outstanding two-way game at center and linebacker, and Vieira was tremendous both ways, as was Josh Luciano. Joe DeAngelo threw the ball very well for us, going 10 for 12 for 120 yards, and I thought Timmy Schaffer and Corey Peterson ran the ball well. Billy Joyce had a very good game on offense grabbing four passes for 40 yards, including two beauties setting up our last score, and he had two big hits on the special teams. Andy Keegan was all over the field for us on defense, Peter Chanelle played very well, as did sophomore tackle Mike Lombard and defensive end Wayne Parisi. We’ve got a week off, but we have two very important games coming after that and they are both on the road against Bow and Bishop Brady. We have to practice hard during this time to keep things going smoothly.”
Noelle Reiss in action after returning from an injury
Coach Jen Nugent and her Pelham Python volleyball girls came ever-so-close to knocking off mighty Saint Thomas last Saturday morning at the Python’s Homecoming Weekend, which saw Pelham sports teams playing all day long, right up until coach Babaian’s football team slammed Somersworth 32 - 0 Saturday night. The Pelham girls jumped right out of the starting gate and had some big plays up front from juniors Jacqui Perry and Rachael Fournier, sophomore Sara Jo Fuller, and freshman Kathryn Mostone. They had early leads over the Saints and were still leading 21 - 20 late in the first game before St. Thomas was able to squeak out a 25 - 23 win. Pelham then dropped the second game 25 - 12 and lost the third game 25 – 16, but there was a world of improvement against the mighty Saints. After the game, coach Nugent said, “I thought our girls were really pumped up today and we came out on fire. Our serving was better today than it had been the past two matches, but St. Thomas was able to wear us out at the end.”
Pelham senior Noelle Reiss returned to action after being out with a leg injury, and she played very well, as did senior outside hitter Nicole “Bear-BooBoo’ Souza, who had some nice assists and digs while she was on the floor. Seniors Christine Downs, Jordan Fleckenstein, and Jacque Moore all played well for the Pythons in this big match. The Python girls spikers will host Hollis/Brookline early this week before traveling north Saturday September 27 for a match at Hanover, and they head to Hollis/Brookline Monday September 29 for a 6 p.m. match.
Pelham’s J.V. team was very much excited about their performance on the day as coach Rehab Bagegni had her Pythons all fired up against the Saints. The Python J.V.’s were able to knock off St. Thomas 2 – 1, and it took ten straight serves in the final game by Kathryn Demitri to nail down the victory. Jen Negron had a bunch of kills up on the front line for Pelham, as did Simone Fournier, and Casey Harrington did a sensational job of setting for the Python J.V.’s. Following the game, Coach Bagegni said, “We showed a lot of teamwork out there today, and I think that carried us, especially in that all-important last game.”
The Pelham Python golf team split a pair of matches last week and entered the final week of match play with an 8 - 9 record. Coach Todd Kress thinks his young team has a pretty good shot at making the post-season if it can get everybody back healthy, and especially No. 2 golfer Corey Couilliard. Last Tuesday in Amherst, the Pythons lost to Hollis/Brookline, who shot a 191 for their top five golfers, while Pelham shot 215, which was more than enough to beat Milford’s score of 240. Pelham’s No. 1 golfer, Sophomore Jessie Vaiknoras, was on his game again as he fired a round of 37 for the nine holes, while senior Grant Hebert was next in line with 42. Corey Couilliard was able to play and shot a 43, but hopefully a week of rest will have him ready for the Pythons last three matches this week
Pelham then split a tri-meet with St. Thomas and John Stark last week, when the Saints scored a 204 and the Pythons placed second with 208, and John Stark took third with 214. Vaiknoras was the top dog for Pelham with 38, but the Pythons got bailed out by the clutch performances from the Paichell Brothers. Nate Paichell shot a best ever 39 while brother E. C. fired a 44. Freshman Trent Austin also had a career day as he shot a best ever 44. This week the Pythons had three meets at Hollis/Brookline and at Bow to determine if they could qualify for the post-season. On Wednesday, October 1, the Class I JV tournament will be held at Buckmeadow in Amherst and on Thursday, October 2, White Mountain Country Club will host the Class I varsity state meet.
Kally Riddinger, left, fights for the ball
By the time you get this newspaper on Friday, September 26, coach Linda Koehler’s Pelham Python field hockey team probably will have beaten John Stark during the week and will be looking forward to hosting the Bedford Bulldogs. I can definitely see these girls going on a mini-winning streak of anywhere from two to four games in the next two weeks. The Python girls lost a tough game Saturday to a veteran Hollis/Brookline team when they gave up three goals in the first half, but completely shut down the Cavaliers high-scoring line in the second half. Sophomore goalie Alex Catalano had to make several outstanding saves to keep this game close, and Pelham midfielders Emily Koehler, Gina Guimond, Stephanie Winn and Kally Riddinger were all over the Hollis-Brookline forwards continuously pushing the ball up field, deep in the Cavaliers end. Kellie Chadwick, Laurie Costa, Kelsi Lynde, Molly Smith, and Keri Foley pressured the Hollis-Brookline goaltender and did everything imaginable but put the ball past her.
After the game a couple of Python field hockey players walked by and stopped to talk on the way over to the girls soccer game. Forward Smith said, “Hey we are so much improved over last year, we know that we’re going to put together a nice winning streak, and I actually thought it was going to start today against Hollis/Brookline.” A few minutes later sophomore goaltender Catalano sat down for a drink while watching the soccer game and said, “They came out strong and got two nice goals, but as I’m watching the action down the other end, I saw a couple of times when I thought we were going to score just before halftime, and a lot more times in the second half. We have to do a better job of finishing in front of the other net and we’ll be all right.” As I said earlier in this article, look for this team to run off some big wins in the next two weeks against John Stark, Bedford, Oyster River and a couple others at the end of the season.
EJ Baker No. 29, Mike Woonton No. 8 and Richie Sullivan No.24
This was a very physical game right from the start as coach Mattie Regan’s kids would not back down to the favored Coe-Brown team, and while they did trail 1 - 0 at halftime, the Pythons had outplayed, outshot and out-hustled the visitors for the first 40 minutes of the game. Coe-Brown had to earn a very tough goal against the Pythons, but the Pelham kids shut them down for the remainder of the half and had far better scoring chances. Matt Miller, Richie Sullivan, and even senior Ryan Ormsby (who usually plays goalie) were knocking on the door for a goal, while C. J. Ziogas, Jim Bourk, E.J. Baker, and sophomore Peter Soonthornprapuet were all playing the men very tightly. Freshman Brian Phinney didn’t do a bad job between the pipes either, but they couldn’t come up with a goal. Following the game, Regan came off the field and said, “We played our hearts out for the first half, and while we were only down 1 - 0, I don’t know if our kids were calling it a minor victory already or what, but we didn’t play with the same intensity in the second half.”
11-0 Pythons Win State Title over Gilford - 2007 State Division V Football Champions
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