Perhaps it's fitting that the East team that will play in Saturday's CHaD New Hampshire East-West All-Star Game practiced at Exeter High School, because it sounds like the East's game plan is similar to the one Exeter used to upset Pinkerton Academy in the Division I championship game two years ago.
East head coach Bob Camirand watched Exeter beat Pinkerton 23-13 that day thanks in large part to a kicker named Logan Laurent, who happens to be on the East roster. Laurent, who will kick on scholarship at the University of Massachusetts, made three field goals in that game (13, 35 and 40 yards) and booted four of his six kickoffs into or out of the end zone.
“Ball control, move the chains, field position –- same M.O. as Exeter beating Pinkerton a couple years ago,” Camirand said. “They have some scary athletes who can score on any play. I think we what we have to do is try to minimize big plays. We have to minimize that and keep the ball away from them.”
Saturday's game will be played at the University of New Hampshire's Cowell Stadium (1 p.m. kickoff) and features players from throughout the state who graduated from high school this year. Proceeds will benefit Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
The inaugural game was played last summer. The West prevailed 44-12 in that contest.
“Special teams have always scared me,” West coach Jim Schubert said. “They scare everybody. A blocked punt, a punt run back, a kickoff run back -– they change the atmosphere of the game.
“It'll come down two two things: turnovers No. 1. Secondly, it's field position. I'm a little anxious about that because they have the kicker (Laurent). A great kicker can put you in field position where it closes down your offense –- you can't open up your offense like you want to open up on certain part of the field. I'm a great believer in field position.
“It's who the gamers are. Who shows up for the game? They're all all-star players and all-state players. Hopefully they show up.”
The East defense includes Portsmouth defensive lineman Ricky Holt, who is headed to UNH. The West offense includes Rhode Island-bound quarterback James Caparell from Bedford.
Holt led Portsmouth to the Division III championship in his junior and senior seasons. Caparell completed 147 of 228 passes for 2,104 yards and 25 touchdowns last year. He also ran for 458 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Caparell is expected to share time at QB with Keene's Lucas Luopa.
“We've been throwing the ball very well,” Schubert said. “I'm very happy with that. Hopefully it's a good day. If it's a day where we can throw we're gonna throw.”
The East will be without Winnacunnet running back Ben Franzoso, who will miss the game because of a shoulder injury suffered in practice. Franzoso rushed for 1,432 yards as a senior even though he missed three games because of injuries.
“If we're gonna win this game we have to win it up front offensively and defensively,” Camirand said. That's our mindset. Maybe catch them by surprise throwing the ball. Going into the game, defensively I'm feeling pretty good. Offensively we have to get first downs. We have to move the ball. If they're gonna score we have to make them earn it. We can't give them easy ones.
“I think what the game comes down to is which team executes the best? Which team does what they've been coached to do for the last nine or 10 days better than the other team? We'll see how it plays out.”