In times of joy, and times of grief, football has been a major presence in Pinkerton lineman Allen Gault III’s life.
In the best of times, he celebrated Pinkerton’s back-to-back state title game berths each of the last two seasons.
And as tragedy struck, when Gault unexpectedly lost his father in the fall of 2017, it was the game he loved that helped him smile again.
“When I was on the field, I didn’t have to think about anything but football,” he remembered. “I needed that distraction. And having my whole team supporting me, that meant the world.”
Gault closed out his high school football career Saturday, as a top lineman for the East squad in the CHaD All-Star football game at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Field.
In his final game, he helped lead the East to a 17-14 win over the West.
A two-year starter on Pinkerton’s offensive and defensive line, the 6-foot, 270-pound Gault helped lead the Astros to a 19-5 record and two straight Division 1 championship games in the last two falls.
“Allen is one of the hardest working men I know,” said his longtime Pinkerton teammate and fellow CHaD All-Star Gannon Fast. “That directly translates to the football field, and that put myself and all the other running backs in the position to win.
“He’s a great player with an even better personality. Running behind him was more than fun to say the least.”
FOOTBALL RISE, THEN LOSS
Growing up in Derry, surrounded by the stories of the powerhouse Pinkerton football team, Gault was intimidated to join the Astros as a freshman.
As he worked to establish himself on the field, it was his father — Allen Gault Jr. — that was always there to help him overcome the early bumps and bruises.
“My dad supported me so much,” Gault III remembered. “I would come home upset and frustrated with myself after a practice, and he would be there to talk. He would tell me to keep going and keep pushing. He would remind me that, if I kept putting the work in, it would work out in the end.”
That work did pay off, as Gault III earned a starting job for the Astros as a junior.
Tragedy, however, would hit on Sept. 13, 2017, when Allen Jr., passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack at just 48-years-old.
“It was the toughest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life,” said Gault III. “It just happened so out of the blue. It was terrible.”
In need of an outlet during that difficult time, Gault turned to the gridiron.
“I had taken a week out of school, and it had been an extremely long week,” he said. “It was awful being at home. So I asked the coaches if I came back to practice on Thursday, could I still play that Friday?”
Gault did return, to help lead the Astros to a 35-7 drubbing of archrival Londonderry. That time on the football field proved to be just what Gault needed.
“Coming back, having so many people there to support me, helped me so much,” said Gault, who also credited his mother Danielle and grandparents. “On the field, I just had to get my job done. I just had to play football and not let my teammates down. That was what was on my mind, nothing else.”
PLAYING FOR DAD
Despite his loss, Gault continued to star for Pinkerton in 2017, leading the Astros (10-2) to the Division 1 title game and anchoring an offense that averaged 42.4 points per game.
He was even better this spring, earning All-New Hampshire Division 1 South honors as the Astros (9-3) averaged 31.2 points on offense and again advanced to the title game.
Gault turned in one of the biggest plays of the Division 1 semifinals, blocking a punt against Salem that Fast recovered for a touchdown.
It is in those moments, Gault’s mind goes to his father.
“He pops into my head on the field,” said Gault. “Like when I blocked that punt, or when I open a hole for a big touchdown. I really wish he was here to see it.”
But Gault was able to end his high school career with a bang, on the same UNH field where he lost two state championship games.
“This is my third time playing on this field and I’ve lost twice,” he said with a laugh. “It gets a little annoying. We’ve worked hard and I’ve made some new friends. It’s been fun.”