Merrimack’s James Murray pumped up for CHaD football game

Staff photo by TOM KING Merrimack's James Murray, talking with fellow West lineman Michael Boucher of Milford, is exctied for family reasons to play in Saturday's CHaD All-Star East-West Football Game at UNH.

MERRIMACK – James Murray was sky high this past January when he found out he was going to play for the West squad in this Saturday’s annual CHaD East-West All-Star Football Game.

That’s because it helped him heal from a three-time low.

The just graduated, 6-foot-1, 263-pound Merrimack High School lineman suffered some tough family losses over the last 10 years. Three of his cousins were infants at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth that despite great care didn’t survive.

“I got the email and I got the letter and I showed my parents and they were ecstatic,” Murray, who is headed to play football at Dean College in Franklin, Mass., in the fall. “Then I called all my family members as well to break the news to them. And they’re all excited.”

Thus, Murray is expecting a large family contingent at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Try perhaps as many as 20, or even more.

“I have a lot of family support, which I’m really excited about,” said Murray, who raised about $1,100.

For Murray, the game is certainly more special than any one he has played in the past, with so much meaning.

“It’s a different mentality, us playing for them, than the regular Friday Night Lights,” he said. “It holds a special place in my heart playing for my cousins. That’s why I wanted to play in it.”

Murray has a great affection for the CHaD organization because of all the help it gave his family through all of the ordeals. “It’s just so special to me so I’m real excited,” he said. “I got a little emotional at first, but now I realized it, and could take in what I could do for my friends and family.”

Murray will be super motivated when he takes the field. The West team has some strong linemen – such as Milford’s Michael Boucher and Bishop Guertin alum Sam Colantuoni – so he will fit right in.

“Hopefully, I can help put on a good show for my friends and family and for CHaD,” Murray said. “They do such a good job with this, it’s just a great honor to be a part of it.”

Murray is going to major in business and sports management at Dean, a Division III school that recently hired former Patriot back Sammy Morris to be a position coach, so it’s a place that takes its football – as Murray does – seriously. But he knows what he wants for his future.

“Hopefully I’ll be a coach some day,” he said. “They recruited me pretty hard and the campus is really nice so I had to go with it. It’s just one of those moments.”

Just like Saturday will be as well, given the cause, given Murray’s family history with CHaD.

One of those special moments.