Fundraising totals between the teams competing in the inaugural New Hampshire East-West High School Football All-Star Game couldn't have been much closer.
The game itself? That's a different story.
West's all-stars – widely considered underdogs for the June 23 contest at the University of New Hampshire – proved too tough. The combination of overpowering offense and dominant defense led to a 33-point halftime lead and 44-12 final score.
Thaddeus “Junior” Brown was toughest to cover. Manchester Central High's 6-foot 3-inch, 180-pound receiver made all four of his catches for 87 yards in the first half. Three receptions went for touchdowns, including a 50-yard down-the-right-seam dagger that helped Team West build a 37-6 halftime lead.
“This means a lot. I worked hard for it,” Brown, the game's first Bo Dickson MVP, said of the trophy he was handed for his efforts. “The coaches helped me out a lot. I just busted my butt for 10 days. The outcome was this MVP.”
Off the field, the outcome of Brown's efforts, as well as the 73 other all-stars, was even more impressive.
Teams East and West combined to raise $51,301.21 for Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) in Lebanon.
Team East was designated the home team. It earned use of UNH football's locker room for winning the head-to-head fundraising contest. Coach Bill Raycraft's players raised $25,751.21 – a mere $201.21 more than West's standouts.
In total, $301,000 was raised for CHaD.
“These kids came together and did a heck of a job for a great cause,” said Team West coach Keith Jones, whose 6-year-old son, Harris, a CHaD patient, participated in the pre-game coin toss.
Harris was involved in a freak snowmobile accident three years ago. His father has said many times if not for CHaD, right-leg amputation would have been required.
On gameday, the soon-to-be first-grader made an appearance in Team West's locker room prior to warm-ups. It gave the players an additional boost, which carried over to kickoff.
Several playmakers fueled Team West's 37-point first half.
Brown caught a pair of 9-yard TD passes from Manchester West High's Aaron Martin, who also used his speed to sneak inside the left pylon for a 2-yard rushing score.
Merrimack High's Jackson King returned an interception 19-yards for a TD.
Nashua South's Johnny Bieren was crucial to posting a second-quarter safety. He also forced and recovered a fumble on one of his three quarterback sacks.
Central's Stephen Grzywacz – who raised a players-best $5,965 for CHaD – converted five extra points (6-for-6 overall).
East's all-stars committed five of the game's eight turnovers. The favored squad fell behind, 30-0, before Salem High's Jerickson Fedrick returned a kickoff 96 yards to paydirt.
Fedrick, and Pinkerton Academy of Derry stars Kevin Davies and Emmitt Smith, were all neutralized. Combining to rush for 4,649 yards and 57 TDs last fall, the trio managed 99 yards – 28 through two quarters.
Conor Donovan of Division VI cooperative team Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough scored East's second TD early in the third. Derek Paradis of Nashua South answered with an up-the-gut run.
“The first series, I thought we did pretty well. We stopped them (but) right away turned the ball over,” Raycraft said. “That's not the way you want to start an all-star game. From there, we pressed a little bit more than we probably should have and, because of that, created more turnovers.
“But, like I told the kids, I had a blast these last (10) days,” he added. “I couldn't have asked for a better group of kids. It's going to be fun watching where they go from here. The score will fade, but they set the tone for fundraising.”
Division I: Dillon Emerson's extra-inning hit snapped two droughts, including a lengthy one for Concord High.
The senior's single down the right-field line scored Pat Cannon and gave the top-seeded Crimson Tide a 5-4 walk-off win over No. 3 seed Merrimack High in the state final June 16 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, home of Double-A baseball's New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Emerson's hit snapped an 0-for-4 skid in the title game and earned Concord (18-4) its first crown since 1980. The Tide lost the state final in 2011.
“I was in the dugout upset over all the missed opportunities I had when coach [Scott Owen] came up to me and said, 'Stick with it. You'll get your at-bat and you'll come through.' He was right,” Emerson told the New Hampshire Sunday News.
Division II: So close to winning the 2011 championship, St. Thomas Aquinas High of Dover celebrated a No. 1 finish it its return trip to the title game June 16. Josh Terry's sacrifice fly in the last of the 10th was the difference as the Saints outlasted Lebanon High, 4-3, at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
The game featured four lead changes. Both teams had golden chances to score before the 10th inning.
In the top of the eighth, the Raiders loaded the bases with one out. In the frame's home half, the Saints moved runners to second and third with one out.
Two innings later, Arran Maran scored the game-winning run. AlI four STA runs were unearned.
Division III: On the strength of a two-out, fourth-inning rally and a complete-game pitching effort from Sam Bonifant, Hopkinton High secured the state title June 16 with a 4-0 win.
The top-seeded Hawks scored four unearned runs in the fourth at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium and finished the season 20-1. Defending champion Campbell High of Litchfield managed just four singles against Bonifant, who struck out two and walked one.
Bonifant also had the big hit in the fourth: a two-run single that gave the Hawks a three-run lead.
Division IV: Sunapee High celebrated a championship repeat June 16 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Troy Fowler fueled it.
Sunapee's senior hurler went the distance, tossing a three-hitter in a 13-1 win against Newmarket High. Fowler's final pitching line included 10 strikeouts and just two free passes.
He also went 2-for-2 with four RBIs.
Division I: The offense for Hudson's Alvirne High scored three times in the June 9 title game's top of the first inning. It was plenty of run support for standout Taylor Carbone, who pitched the Broncos to a 5-1 win over top-seeded and undefeated Salem High at Southern New Hampshire University.
Chelsey Drew delivered the big hit, a first-inning home run. Carbone set down 15 of 17 batters during the contest.
Alvirne (18-4) celebrated its second consecutive championship. Salem, a 14-time champion under coach Harold Sachs, finished 22-1.
Division II: Fourth-seeded Portsmouth High pushed across the game's lone run in the visiting seventh. Starting pitcher Mariah Crisp made the run she drove home stand for a 1-0 win over Conway's Kennett High, the No. 3 seed, June 9 at SNHU.
Sarah Winchell, two innings after making a sensational diving catch in center field, scored on Crisp's single. Portsmouth finished 16-4.
Division III: White Mountains Regional of Whitefield enjoyed a 13-run outburst in the June 9 final at Plymouth State University and celebrated the program's first championship with a 13-4 win over No. 3 seed Stevens High of Claremont.
Freshman Rebecca Hicks was a title-game hit machine for the fourth-seeded Spartans (18-2). She belted three doubles and finished the game 4-for-5 with four RBIs.
Division IV: Sam Broderick delivered in the final at-bat of her career. The senior cracked a two-out single in the last of the ninth, lifting top-seeded Wilton-Lyndeborough High to a 1-0 championship win over Profile High of Bethlehem June 9 at PSU.
Lacrosse: U.S. Lacrosse recently released its list of New Hampshire All-America honorees.
Nine standouts were recognized in the boys' game. The group included five from Bishop Guertin High of Nashua: Close defenders Bob Fahey and Kyle Karaska, midfielders Paul Spinney and Blake Boudreau, and attackman Casey Burnett.
Midfielders Christian Wolter and Ryan Brigham (Hanover High), Nate Larrivee (Bedford High) and Peter Field (Pinkerton) rounded out the group.
Five girls earned first-team honors, including midfielders Jenny Thompson (Londonderry High), Madison Crutchfield (St. Paul's School of Concord), Emily Pollard (Merrimack), Campbell Probert (Phillips Exeter Academy) and Gemma Bready (Kearsarge Regional of North Sutton).
Four girls received honorable mention: New Hampton School's Anna Menke, Merrimack's Lauren Perry, Exeter High's Erica Estey and Hollis/Brookline High's Caitlin Sweeney.
Track and field: Guertin junior Betsy Garnick was recognized as a nationwide talent June 9 at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.
Garnick finished fifth in the heptathlon at North Carolina A&T State University. She placed second in the 100-meter hurdles (14.27 seconds) and 200-meter dash (25.56).
Marc Thaler is a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He co-hosts the “N.H. Sports Show” on Manchester's WGIR-AM 610 and the Seacoast's 96.7 FM every Saturday morning. Read his “New Hampshire GameDay” blog and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.