Alvirne QB Gora wrestling with greatness
HUDSON — The Alvirne High School football team heads into uncharted territory Saturday, its first-ever championship game.
Don’t expect the Broncos sophomore quarterback to be swept up in the magnitude of the moment when Alvirne and Plymouth collide (2:30 p.m.) at UNH’s Wildcat Stadium.
Gora has been there and done that already, rolling to both the Division I and Meet of Champions finals in wrestling as a freshman last winter. That experience, a pair of hard-fought defeats to Salem steamroller Tristen Cabinta, should prove quite beneficial Saturday.
“I can’t wait (for Saturday),” said Gora before Thursday’s Alvirne practice on the turf here at PMA. “It’s tough to compare. Both (title matches) are pretty scary. “(Last winter) definitely taught me how to lessen the pressure, not be in the moment, and just know what I need to do. I know what it’s like to lose in a state final. Say we were to get in a position where we could lose, I don’t think I’d get as worried as if I was without it.
“It takes a lot to get me worried, because I just trust in my guys.”
A two-way football starter for two years, Gora has played with a savvy of a seasoned veteran, especially down the stretch.
He dominated the quarterfinal win over Milford with 330 yards of offense, rushing for two scores and throwing for a third. In the semis, he made the plays when it counted late, hitting Morgan Williams for 35 and then scoring the game-winner with 23 seconds to play.
In between there was a 9-yard sweep that has to be the hottest video on social media with Gora shaking off defenders, nearly hitting the turf but managing to stay alive and reach inside the St. Thomas 10, more importantly getting out of bounds to save the precious seconds on the clock.
“That was all about wrestling right there,” said Gora, who calls himself a “wrestler who plays quarterback.”
Balance and toughness, they are mat requisites, and Gora, who took third at nationals in Virginia Beach this summer, oozes both.
“Wrestling takes a different kind of toughness, but you can bring that out onto the football field and it’s going to benefit you in every way,” said the QB/safety/defensive end. “You have to be strong in each sport.”
So much has been said about Alvirne football’s offseason commitment, the drive to take the program to totally new heights that began in the weight room last December.
Gora has been there every step of the way, despite a massive wrestling commitment as well.
“I wrestled when there were big tournaments coming up,” said Gora, who toiled profusely at the famed Smitty’s Barn in Plaistow regularly with his training partner (You guessed it!) Cabinta. “Once it came to a certain point in the summer, it was strictly football. I won’t let the two sports interfere with each other. You figure ways to manage both.”
Clearly, he’s done the job this fall, throwing for 1,143 yards and 7 TDs, while rushing for 516 yards and 14 more touchdowns. Defensively, he’s played wherever coach Tarek Rothe has needed, moving from safety to linebacker and defensive end when called upon.
Preparation this week has taken an odd twist for Gora. The Broncos’ wrestlers took to the mat for the first practice of the year on Tuesday.
Gora, meanwhile, can only plan for the winter season, at least until late Saturday afternoon.
“Obviously, I’ve been thinking about it,” he said, noting that he’s still not sure if he’ll return to the 160-pound weight class or bump up to 170. “Wrestling season is already here. Football’s just not over yet.”
Gora and the Broncos wouldn’t have in any other way.