There is almost a month left until the calendar officially turns to winter, but anyone at Gill Stadium could be forgiven for forgetting that fact between the frigid temperatures and the one, last high school football game of the year.
Manchester Central defeated Manchester West by a score of 47-22 in a Thanksgiving showdown marking the first time the two teams had met in years.
Central, the only Division 1 team with a winning record that did not make the playoffs, stood in contrast to West, a Division 1 team with only one win on the season.
Early on, it appeared that gulf in talent would prove prophetic, as Central quarterback Alex Hawkorn found the end zone on the Little Green’s first drive: a three-yard dash ending a six-play, 60-yard series.
Central sophomore tight end Kyle Gauthier added a second touchdown run on the Little Green’s next drive on another short yardage run, but Central’s junior varsity backups would be unable to add to the lead before halftime.
Hawkorn returned in the second half, immediately connecting with McHale Nmama on a 30-yard strike, setting up a third touchdown run. This score came from senior Javell Desir, ending any doubts on which side might win the game officially.
After that point, the motivation on both sidelines shifted toward squeezing every last moment of a quickly ending season, and for some players, a rapidly ending high school football career.
Central’s junior varsity team and other backups returned to the field and slowly, the tightly clustered five-man wildcat formation West had been using all year began to make some offensive progress.
In particular, Jaymeson Maheux led the way for the Blue Knights, ending the contest with 166 yards on 29 carries. He also finished with three touchdowns in the second half.
(Mayheux’s) a great player, they’ve got a lot of great players,” said Central head coach Ryan Ray. “Their coaching staff is building the program in the right direction and they’ll be a force to reckon with in a few years.”
Central added four more touchdowns in the second half as well, getting a five-yard rushing score from Jeremy Chandler, a 10-yard passing score from Matt Gilroy to Alex Guillemette, and a pair of kickoff returns to the house by Chandler and Nmama.
Chandler, Gilroy, Guillemette and Nmama, all seniors, were joined in this final celebration by fellow senior Sidi Hassan, an offensive lineman who added the first two-point conversion of his high school career to the third touchdown.
While Ray noted that this win didn’t relieve any of the pain felt after Central came one game short of making the playoffs in the final game of the regular season against Bedford, but it was still a satisfying day.
“It was fun, we had more fun than (West) did obviously, but we got to help the seniors go out on top, and it helped end a great year,” he said. “We’ve had a month to put (the Bedford game) to bed, get some guys some reps and have some fun.”
CORRECTION: Kyle Gauthier scored the second touchdown, not Matt Rivard.