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FOOTBALL FINALS: Grizzlies pose tough challenge for Titans

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Nov 20, 2020

Telegraph photo by TOM KING The Nashua North's defense hopes to have a grasp of Goffstown's key players in Saturday's Division I title game the way Titan Jack Peters does of Salem's Aidan McDonald with teammate Anthony Greene joining in during last weekend's semis win.

NASHUA – The toughest challenge awaits.

Championship games aren’t supposed to be easy, and that will certainly be the case for the 6-0 Nashua High School North football team when it takes on 8-0 Goffstown on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Bedford High School’s Bulldog Stadium.

The fact that Goffstown is going to be the opponent is no big surprise. You have to play the games, but the Grizzlies, under first-year head coach Nick Hammond (a one-time North assistant), have been consistent all season.

Their offense has averaged 34.8 points a game, compared to 34.0 for North. Defensively, Goffstown has allowed just 10.2 ppg., the most being 21 vs. Bedford in the season opener. North has given up just 11 points a game, the most being last Saturday’s 28 vs. Salem in the semis.

Can’t get much closer than that. Both teams are led by dynamic quarterbacks, North’s Curtis Harris-Lopez and Goffstown’s Jarrett Henault. Harris-Lopez, the generational talent bound for Holy Cross, is a shifty burner, who once gets to the outside or has a step on you is gone.

Both led their teams in last weeks semis – Harris-Lopez with 202 rushing yards and four TDs, while Henault with two rushing TDs, plus a 14-yard TD pass to his brother, Jeremy. He is big, strong and elusive.

“They were kind of a preseason team I think everybody expected to be good,” Laurendi said, “and they’ve lived up to it.”

The Titans will be prepared defensively.

“They’re very well balanced as far as what they do, running and throwing the ball,” Laurendi said. “They have size and they have speed. They are big up front.”

“I’ll tell you what, we’ve got to tackle,” North defensive coordinator Kyle Tave said. “We didn’t tackle as good last week, and now you’re looking at two strong backs and a good quarterback in Henault.

“I think he’s one of the better players around. He runs the ball really well. But you can see he’s kind of the leader there, he kind of gets things going. And he can hit the deep ball.

“We’ve got to tackle no. 1, and then we’ve just got to keep them from making big plays down field on us.”

Laurendi feels the same about Henault, who is likened to former Grizzlies standout QB Casey Gervais, who guided Goffstown to its only state football title in 2015.

“He’s a big, strong kid who runs the ball very well, throws the ball very well,” he said. “He’s a reminder of Gervais, the kid they had a few years ago. He’s tough to tackle.

“And he plays defense, too. They fly around defensively, a tough, scrappy team.”

But North may be back in its comfort zone, after struggling with Salem’s Wing-T, now facing Goffstown’s spread.

Or maybe not.

“Yeah, well, be careful what you wish for,” Laurendi said. “What we have to do is we have to limit the big play, we can’t have self-inflicted wounds that we’ve had in the past – penalties, turnovers. We can’t dig ourselves a hole or get off to such a slow start because of those things.”

Fundamentals, Laurendi said. It’s what his senior-dominated team has relied on all season, and needs to do one more time.


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