The 2018 CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game, powered by Bedford and Nashua Ambulatory Surgical Centers, is proving to be a record year. With final numbers still trickling in, this year’s football fundraiser has raised a record $275,000 for the kids and programs at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. And it’s only fitting that the banner fundraising year was matched by the drama on the field as Team West rallied late to secure a 24-20 victory over Team East at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium.
The funds were generated in myriad ways, including sponsorships; ticket, merchandise, and raffle sales; and player fundraising. While not a requirement for participation for the players, this year’s group of 86 All-Stars followed this year’s theme of smashing records. They collectively generated over $93,000, a total surpassing the previous high of $72,000 set by the 2016 stars. Team West won the team fundraising battle by raising over record $52,000, led by Milford High School’s Michael Boucher as the top individual fundraiser at $8,751. Team East’s total was also a new high of almost $42,000. In total, 33 players topped $1,000 in individual fundraising for the cause.
On the field, Team West, sponsored this year by AutoFair, built an early lead before their Eastern counterparts rallied for a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to take a 14-7 half-time advantage. East, presented by Northeast Credit Union, carried a three-point lead into the final frame before an Andrew Duval (Goffstown High School) touchdown run put West ahead with 4:28 to go in the game.
Hanover High School’s Moises Celaya earned Bo Dickson MVP honors by kicking a key field goal in the third quarter and routinely pinning Team East deep in its own end with several excellent punts. He bested East quarterback Cody Graham (Portsmouth High School) who became just the second player to throw three touchdown passes in the event (Jason Hughes, East, 2016). Team East RB Josh Sibanda (Salem) set a new record with 220 all-purpose yards, just ahead of Duval’s 181 yards for West. Defensively, Kyle Gleason (Timberlane) led East with five tackles and a forced fumble. West’s Colby Moore (Plymouth) and Peter Thibault (Newport) combined for 12.5 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss of yardage by Thibault.
Eric Brown (Concord High School) earned the win in his debut as Team West’s head coach. Craig Kozens (Laconia High School) saw his East team come a few plays short from giving him a third CHaD victory.
The pre-game ceremonies were notable as well. CHaD ambassador Brycen joined the captains for the coin toss. During the national anthem, sung beautifully by Miss Littleton Area’s Outstanding Teen Kayleigh MacFarland, DH’s very own DHART team provided a flyover with a DHART chopper!
The football game capped off this year’s All-Star festivities which began June 12 with the CHaD All-Star Football Golf Tournament presented by generous partners at Oliver Mechanical Inc. and iHeart Media. At Stonebridge Country Club, over 120 golfers came together for a fun day on the links. Several All-Star players and CHaD ambassadors were also on hand to connect with golfers and sponsors throughout the day. The winning team consisted of a pair of golfers each from Surgi-Care and CLD | Fuss & O’Neill. Photos from the day are available on the CHaD All-Star Football Facebook page.
After the final practices June 29, the teams got together for the player BBQ inside UNH’s Victory Club the night before the game. They enjoyed a top-notch meal, generously donated by Tuckaway Tavern. The annual All-Star awards were handed out, highlighted by the Dan Duval Community Service Award (and $1,000 scholarship thanks to the Dan Duval Foundation) earned by Team East’s Royce Belsky (Windham). Boucher was presented with a $500 award as the game’s top fundraiser. The coaches also recognized their Riddell CHaD Warriors, the players who stood out during practice week for their dedication and teamwork. Kozens recognized East’s Bobby Cliche (Exeter) and Liam McIlveen (Exeter). Brown honored West players Derek Downing (Nashua South), Gavin Moody (Concord), and Mike Tessier (Manchester Central).
The success of the game wouldn’t be possible without the dozens of sponsors and partners who generously support CHaD, many through multiple events and endeavors. This list includes the title sponsor of the event, Bedford and Nashua Ambulatory Surgical Centers; Team West partner, AutoFair; Team East partner, Northeast Credit Union; and New Hampshire Steel Fabricators.
Special kudos are deserved for the athletic trainers and doctors from Safe Sports Network who kept the players fit and healthy all week long. The Safe Sports team battled hot weather to keep players on the field, especially on game day. Thanks go to Dr. James Vailas and PA Scott Evans, plus Laura Decoster, Amy Hollingworth, Eric Gelinas, Dave Moreton, Bethany Roun, Katelyn Metzger, Jenn Gaudet, and Austin Dykes.
Lastly, this year’s game marked a return to the University of New Hampshire’s renovated Wildcat Stadium. The gem of a facility was only bested by the wonderful UNH staff who were a constant support for months leading into the game. Thanks in particular are due to UNH director of athletics Marty Scarano, executive director of athletics Jon Danos, associate athletic director for operations Carrie Kimball, and their entire athletics staff. CHaD is also grateful for the services provided by the UNH Polic Department under the guidance of chief Paul Dean. We look forward to working with them again for future games!