DURHAM, N.H. — As Gannon Fast prepared for the CHaD All-Star Game, knowing he would soon step onto the same UNH football field where he lost two state championship games, the recently-graduated Pinkerton star couldn’t shake a nagging feeling.
“The whole week leading up to the game, every time we were at UNH, I had this weird feeling in my stomach,” he said. “Being 0-2 here, I didn’t like the place. I dreamed of winning here every single night.”
On Saturday, him and his Astro teammates made that dream of victory a reality.
Fast was the workhorse the offense was built around, fellow Pinkerton star Gennaro Marra scored the go-ahead touchdown and another Astro, Nick Lombard, recovered the fumble that all but clinched the win as Team East downed Team West 17-14 in the annual CHaD All-Star Game at UNH’s Wildcat Field.
“I love it!” said Lombard. “All the Pinkerton boys made big plays and we got the win. It was awesome. Losing two years in a row here, to finally get the win is so nice.”
Fast eared CHaD MVP honors.
He carried 23 times for a game-high 139 yards as the starting running back. And on defense he chased down the West QB for a sack on the game’s final drive.
“I planned on doing everything I could to get the win,” said Fast, who will play for East Coast Prep in the fall. “It felt amazing running the ball. There is nothing better. It’s an amazing way to end my high school career to say the least.”
That type of production from Fast is exactly what his Pinkerton teammates came to expect as he ran for exactly 1,200 yards and scored 22 touchdowns last fall.
“I’m used to seeing this from Gannon,” said Marra with a smile.
“He played so well. He was able to pound the ball up the middle and that tired out the defense.”
It was Marra, however, that gave the East the lead.
Starting at wing back, he took a reverse pitch going left and sprinted to the pylon for a 4-yard touchdown with 10:59 left in the game.
“We knew they were keying on Gannon,” said Marra. “So we called the play to get outside off his fake up the middle. It was just a race to the pylon after that. I had an idea I could get in. I saw it and just sprinted. It was so exciting.”
The West had one more major threat, driving to the East 18-yard line with just over six minutes left.
But the ball was knocked loose, and Lombard was there to scoop it up and return it all the way to the West 16-yard line.
“I saw the ball stripped and I picked it up and started running,” said Lombard, who made a game-high seven tackles, one more than fellow Astro Jackson Clark.
“We had been doing drills for that all week, so I was prepared for that. It was so exciting. Big momentum shift. We needed it, and I just wanted to do it for my team.”
After a turnover on downs, the West had one last chance with less than a minute to play. But Fast sacked the QB on second down, and on third down Salem’s Jordan Labossiere stuffed a screen pass. A final Hail Mary was incomplete, and the East celebrated the win.
“Such an exciting win,” said Marra.
“Maybe it’s because we were on the opposite sideline from the two losses. It feels so amazing to get it done.”
Cormier shines at QB
Londonderry’s Evan Cormier was the primary quarterback for Team East, and the graduated senior delivered.
He went 7 for 12 passing for 73 yards and a TD, tossing a 4-yard strike to Winnacunnet’s Joe MacDougall to make put his team up 10-7 in the first quarter.