Winners Dyer, Bertrand roll into winter

Alvirne's Jamie Bertrand

HUDSON –They are walking, well running, advertisements for high school athletics.

Coach’s dreams. Program cornerstones.

And there’s no coincidence that in the resurgence of each school’s football team this past fall, Alvirne’s Jamie Bertrand and Merrimack’s Jared Dyer played monster roles.

Tuesday night, each gridiron all-conference choice took to the hardwood for the first time this winter, armed with a successful fall campaign and a hunger to make the same kind of noise this winter. Alvirne got the “W” but the Tomahawks have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

And it starts with these two.

“The transition has gone really well,” said the Broncos’ senior Bertrand, who was making it for the time of his life as this past fall was his first-ever try at football.

“We had a heck of a football team, but this basketball team is so close-knit. It’s going to be a very good season.”

Dyer, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound mountain of a “point forward” was a game-changer at defensive end for the South Conference champion Tomahawks this fall.

He’s used to the change in gear from fall to winter. He knows what to expect and the junior loves what he sees so far.

“We have a lot of guys playing basketball, coming out of football,” said Dyer, noting stars like Ben Eichman among them. “We learned about leadership and commitment in football, and we’re just trying to bring it over here. It’s definitely carrying over.”

Bertrand is all about making new adjustments this time around. A natural at receiver this fall, he developed into a big-play guy quickly, both as a pass-catcher and a threat on the jet sweep.

Don’t think the accolades have changed this blue-collar guy.

“I feel like we have Joey Canelas, Ryan Weston and Paul Manzi, and they’re really good scorers,” said Bertrand, who is actually contemplating football at the college level and has been in contact with the folks at Plymouth State. “My role here is more about defense and getting the ball to the playmakers. And I’m more than OK with that.”

There’s bad news for opposing guards around Division I. The football grind, complete with the three extra playoff weeks on the road to the D-II title game, did nothing detrimental to Bertrand’s body. In fact, it may have made him even more of a pest.

“Football definitely has made me see the court more. It’s really slowed things down for me,” said Bertrand. “With my body now, I feel a lot more comfortable taking contact, driving to the hoop and things like that.”

Dyer’s crossover is more about maturity. Talk about a kid who understands things. Specialization? Forget it.

“I play multiple sports because it makes you a better athlete,” said the Tomahawks’ top discus/shot put man in the spring. “All my coaches want me to play other sports, so I do.”

And he does it well. Football coach Kip Jackson expects the college coaches to be all over Dyer next fall, but he’s not about to pigeon-hole himself.

“It’s a seasonal thing for me,” said Dyer. ” like both football and basketball a lot, but I definitely have the body of a football player.”

Only one team picked up a win last night. But walking out of the gym, you have to figure both coaches, Merrimack’s Tim Goodridge and Alvirne’s Marty Edwards, left with a feeling that things could be all right this winter.

It’s pretty simple, watching Bertrand and Dyer leading their troops into battle, to understand why.