Concord pounded the ball on the ground against the Salem Blue Devils last Friday night, and Crimson quarterback Colin Brown ran for 135 yards and a touchdown, as Concord took an 18-0 halftime lead before breezing to an easy 31-6 victory over Coach Jack Gati’s Blue Devils. The loss gives Salem a 3-5 record overall, with a 2-4 mark in Division 1 play, eliminating them from any post-season berth.
Concord needed just over four minutes to open the scoring when Kyle Starr found pay dirt from four yards away, buy Salem stuffed the two-point run to make it a 6-0 game early. The Blue Devils couldn’t move the ball on offense, as apparently the big number of injuries to starters over the last three weeks, has finally caught up with them. The Blue Devils had to punt out of their own end zone and because Concord deflected the ball while slamming into Salem punter, Darren Brown, there was no penalty assessed against Concord. The Crimson Tide took over on the Salem 21-yard line and three plays later, Alex Smith ran it in from four yards out to put Concord up 12-0 with 3:58 left in the first quarter.
Salem back Alex Sabrado ripped off a long run to put Salem at Concord’s 47-yard line and senior halfback Mike Rocheleau ran for 17 yards to the Crimson 28-yard line, but a Salem penalty and a quarterback sack had the Blue Devils punting the ball back to Concord. Four minutes into the second quarter, Concord quarterback Colin Brown rolled out to the right and pranced 57-yards down the sidelines for the score that gave Concord an 18-0 lead, which they would take into the half.
Salem lost senior back, Mike Rocheleau as he injured his knee on a punt return and may be done for the season. The Blue Devils got on the scoreboard late in the third quarter when Alex Sabrado was able to bust into the end zone from two yards out, but Concord would add two fourth period touchdowns, by Starr and John Hall to come away with the 31-6 verdict.
The Blue Devil girls’ volleyball team didn’t have too many problems coming up with two sweeps last week in their final two matches of the regular season. The Blue Devils earned the No. 3 seed heading into this week’s Division 1 tournament as they finished 16-2 thanks to big wins over Keene Wednesday night and at Merrimack Friday night. Wednesday night was also Senior Night for many of Coach Dan Young’s Salem girls, and it was ironic, that Young let senior Becca Weiss pick up her 500th career service point against the Blackbirds. Salem took the three games 25-14, 25-12, and 25-10 as Young played every one of his Blue Devil players that night.
Friday night the Blue Devils swept the Merrimack Tomahawks by scores of 25-13, 25-16, and 25-13 to head to the playoffs with a 16-2 record. Senior Amanda Saab had nine kills for her short time on the court, and juniors Nicole Boucher and Erica Began tied in blocks at the net. Sophomore Sarah Scott continues to impress as she handed out 22 assists, while senior Casey Peters was superb with her serving as she collected 16 points (8 aces).
Heading into the playoffs, the Salem girls are two-time defending champions, and Coach Young doesn’t even know who his girls will be hosting at the No. 14 seed Wednesday night in the first round. Young said, “I feel pretty good about the way that we’ve been playing recently and I hope the girls continue to build on this for the next two weeks. I made up a line-up back in mid August about what I thought our team should be like with starters, but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to use it because of injuries and other things. Now, it looks like I may get to use it sometime this week.”
Salem senior Amanda Saab is one of the very few premier players in Division 1 on both ends of the court, and she has some great support from senior Becca Weiss. Coach Young said, “Sometimes it’s very hard for me to take Becca off the court, because other teams won’t serve to her because she never makes errors. Saab is just very tough at the net, and is a super blocker, but also rattles other teams with her ‘Jump Serves’. Casey Peters and Melissa Paris have been doing very nice jobs for us, and sophomore Sarah Scott continues to pick up her 20-25 assists per game. Nicole Boucher was a great surprise for us this fall, and now we have junior Erica Began back healthy after missing three quarters of the season. Melissa Ouellette and Kerry White have given us a big lift at the net for a sophomore and a freshman, and Erica Tilton and Erica Gallo come through for us every time I call on them. This might be the best line-up I’ve ever had from top to bottom, but we must be playing our best ball starting Wednesday night when the playoff bell sounds.”
Phantom Gymnastics of Hampstead is on top at the state qualifying meet and the entire team qualified for the state meet in the first sectional of the year! Results of local gymnasts:
Level 5, 7- to 8-year-old division:
Jessica Shatford of Pelham placed first all around, 34.850; second on vault, 8.450; first on bars, 8.85; first on beam, 8.95; and third on floor, 8.6
Level 4, 6- to 8-year-old division:
Olivia Champagne of Salem placed first in the all around with a score of 36.925; third on vault, 9.375; third on bars, 9.15; and first on beam, 9.2
Sydney Bartlett of Salem was first on bars, 9.275, and Leah Faber of Salem placed second on bars with a 9.175.
For the first time in her five years as the head coach of the Blue Devils field hockey team, coach Carol Merchant will not be taking her team on to a Class L championship game like she did from 2003 to 2007 and winning four titles. After defeating Keene 1 - 0 last Tuesday in the opening round of the Class L tournament, the 10 - 3 - 2 Blue Devils had to play at Exeter last Friday afternoon as the Blue Hawks got the number three seed and Salem the number six seed. Exeter and Salem did not meet in the regular season, but everyone was expecting a high-energy game between the two teams and that’s exactly what they got. As the clock wound down it was pretty apparent that these two teams would go into overtime, but Exeter was awarded a penalty corner in the last couple seconds. Five seconds later a Salem player was called for a foul, allowing Exeter another penalty corner with no time left on the clock and they were able to finally slip the ball past Salem’s sophomore goalie, Ally Bretton. Bretton played a tremendous game for the Blue Devils making 12 eye-opening saves along the way to keep her team in it while it was only her third varsity start of her career.
The Blue Devils had the advantage in scoring chances during the first half as they had a couple of breakaways and two or three rallies deep in the Blue Hawks end, but couldn’t close the deal. Taylor Healey and Jenn Azarian were once again pestering the Blue hawk goalie, but she was able to stop some close-in shots when she had to. Exeter started getting an edge around the midway part of the season half, as Leeann Vadala had to come up with a couple of goal line saves with her goalie out, to keep the game scoreless, as Lauren Meissner, Katie Foyle, and Carly Federico staved off some late Exeter rushes too.
Following the game, coach Merchant said, “We played very well in the first half, and looked like we may have begun to tire at the end of the game, but every time I thought we were tired we’d come up with another big defensive stop. Last year we scored 72 goals in 17 games, and this year we scored 38 goals in 16 games. It does make a little difference when you had a Carolyn Molloy who scored 30 goals and Kyleigh Keating, who transferred to Phillips Academy, had another 22 goals. That’s 52 goals that you can’t replace, and we only had Erica DePinto returning as a starter. The rest of this team were subs from last years team, on the JV team like Healey and Azarian, or on the freshman team, and we still put together a pretty good season at 10 - 4 - 2 I think. Becky Ford’s Salem JV team only lost one game and Tiffany D’Amour’s freshmen girls only lost two games so I know that this program is still heading in the right direction.”
E. J. Perry and his incredible Blue Devil boys’ volleyball team ran their unbeaten streak to 91 in a row last Thursday at Davis Gymnasium in Salem when they annihilated Souhegan in three straight games in the quarterfinals. The Blue Devils swept the Sabres with scores of 25-6, 25-10, and 25-14, with Coach Perry giving plenty of playing time to his reserves who worked so hard this fall to get to this point. The Blue Devils have advanced to the state semi-finals which were held on Tuesday October 28 as they faced number 4 seed, Keene.
The Blue Devils have won all four state volleyball titles under Coach Perry, since 2004 when volleyball was recognized as a NHIAA sport. Before this season started Perry was asked if he thought his team this year had a chance at winning Salem’s fifth crown in as many years. Perry replied, “I know we lost a host of seniors and some All State players, including Dan Kinney, but these kids all practiced with, and played with those guys in practice, and that’s what has made them that much better this year. Before camp I asked the kids if they thought they could continue on in our winning ways, and they all said yes, so how can I not believe them?”
Salem was led by Kyle Ruffen, who had his best outing of the season with 11 kills, and junior Dan Tiner who pitched in with nine kills, with Meme Okeke coming up with seven kills. Kinney also added eight blocks, while Okeke and Corey Forrest had six blocks apiece. Junior Chris Barnes handed out 19 assists for the Blue Devils with Timmy Sullivan adding 11 assists. Okeke topped all servers in the game with eight, and co-captain Sean Stewart added four service points.
Salem’s Blue Devil soccer team gets back to Class L playoff action for the first time in a few years, because they ended the season with a 6 - 9 - 1 record and can upset any major school at any time. Coach Tony Karibian’s kids get their first chance to do that this Wednesday when they are scheduled to head to Nashua to take on the Bishop Guertin Cardinals as Salem lost to them 2 - 1 in the regular season, but would surely like to avenge that loss here.
Last week the 10 - 5 Goffstown Grizzlies came to town for a game and they got a quick goal just four minutes into the game from their All-State performer Ian Downing to make it a 1 - 0 game. Salem came right down the field and appeared to score off a corner kick when Marc Baroni kicked it past the Grizzlie goalie in the air, but five seconds later one of the referee’s negated the goal because he said some Salem defender interfered with the goalie, and that brought loud roars and boos from the big gathering there. Downing came back with 10 minutes left to go in the half and took a pass from Tyler Ellis to make it a 2 - 0 game and that stood up until 17 minutes into the second half when senior Aaron Mackey scored a nifty goal that cut the lead to 2 - 1. Now instead of being tied, (after that first goal had been negated), Salem was forced to push nine of their men up front in order to try and force a 2 - 2 tie, and Ian Downing got loose one more time and scored to make it a 3 - 1 final in favor of Goffstown.
Salem’s Chad Eller only needed 35 seconds to score a goal up at Exeter last Friday, but the Blue Hawks came back to tie it at 1 - 1 three minutes later. Exeter then got another goal seven minutes later and made it 3 - 1 with 25 minutes left in the first half and that’s all the scoring their would be in this game. Coach Karibian’s crew will be looking for great scoring opportunities from Brett Miller, Tyler Rutledge, Peter Ventrone and others Wednesday against Guertin, as Nick LaRochelle, Marcus Baldwin, Mackey and company will try and hold off the Cardinals scorers.
Salem High School’s 12 - 2 - 2 girls soccer team is enjoying their most winning season ever so far, but this talented bunch is waiting to host their first game Wednesday afternoon when the Goffstown Grizzlies come to town, and Salem might have a little extra something for them. The Blue Devil girls played at Goffstown last week putting 14 shots on net and plaing through an overtime but could only come away with a 0 - 0 tie, which they weren’t too happy about. Salem goalie, Sarah Raye, only had to make two saves at Goffstown while her teammates peppered the Grizzlie goalie with shot after shot.
Salem finished up their regular season last Friday afternoon hosting a very good Exeter team, as this would see the winner get the number three seed heading into the tournament. Exeter scored first midway through the first half when one of their players boomed a kick towards the Salem goal. Sarah Snyder came out but looked like she lost the ball in the sun and it bounced right past her and was kicked into the net. That didn’t get these Salem girls down for long though. About eight minutes later Sarah Raye, (sporting that nice looking black eye) centered a ball in front of the Blue Hawk net to Amanda Vaudrieuil not wasting any time putting it into the net to tie the game at 1 - 1. Exeter would score a late goal to give the Salem girls only their second loss of the season.
This team got a real big boost last week when sophomore defenseman McKenzie Miller was cleared to play again and she was all over the Exeter forwards in helping out Hannah LaRochelle and Caitlin Peters in keeping the Blue Hawks scorers at bay. Look for coach Kendrick Whittle’s talented crew to come out in an angry mood in their first game against Goffstown and get some high-powered scoring from Cassie Chase, Sarah Raye, Gina Righini, Courtney Russell, Liz Edgerton and others as they’ll look to move on against the winner of the Pinkerton/Manchester Memorial game which will be played Saturday November 1 beginning at 2 p.m. at Salem High School.