Perhaps the most important thing about the Londonderry High School football squad’s season-opening, 28-6 win over the Bishop Guertin Cardinals at LHS last Friday night, Sept. 5 was that it handed the Lancers some positive reinforcement following the hard work they’ve been putting forth under new coach Jimmy Lauzon.
While it may not win too many style points – as few first games of any team’s season ever will – the lopsided defeat of the Nashua-based Guertin group began the Lauzon coaching era at LHS in fine fashion and left the Lancers and their fans grinning widely.
The visitors turned the football over five times – including four interceptions – and their hosts reeled off several plays to both increase their lead and frustrate the Cardinals mightily.
The big plays included a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by senior Dennis Bishop and an 80-yard scoring sprint by senior quarterback and defensive back Eric Fairweather, who was also one of two Londonderry defensive players with two pass interceptions in the win. Senior defensive back and running back Mike Ryan also managed the impressive interception feat, and he and Fairweather also connected on a pass play which covered more than 40 yards and tallied points.
One of the rough parts of the Lancers’ performance came from the fact that the hosts turned the football over four times, with three fumbles and one pass interception. But the winning side’s defensive unit stymied the BG offense when the Cards weren’t shooting themselves in the foot by turning the ball over.
When asked about what starting their campaign with a pretty distinct success like the busting of BG would mean to his players, Lauzon said, “They realize that we do have something good here, and if we keep working hard we can have a special season.”
Fairweather’s first interception set up the 42-yard pass connection from him to Ryan which got the Lancers a 7-0 lead with just 1:19 left in the first quarter.
Guertin got six points of its own with 4:28 left in the first half, but the point-after kick attempt failed and the hosts retained a slim lead of 7-6.
Just a moment later Bishop took the ensuing kickoff back 92 yards to pay-dirt, and Londonderry had the 14-6 lead it would carry into halftime.
Guertin enjoyed a significant statistical advantage in the first half (nine first downs, 147 offensive yards) over the Lancers (three first downs, 79 offensive yards), but the Cardinals also turned the ball over three times and they trailed by the aforementioned 14-6 tally at the break.
The hosts added to their lead in the second half with Fairweather’s 80-yard scoring run during the first minute of the fourth quarter and the quarterback’s 2-yard scoring jaunt with a mere 1:18 to go in the game.
While the four interceptions they snared were big plays for the Lancers, arguably the biggest defensive play of the night for the host side came midway through the third period when senior linebacker Anvar Bieler blitzed and sprinted untouched toward BG quarterback Jordan Hiscoe. Bieler absolutely crushed the Cardinals’ signal-caller with a hit to the chest, and Hiscoe fumbled the football, which was recovered by LHS lineman Sean Psaledas.
Along with his defensive successes, Fairweather rushed for 111 yards and those two touchdowns on 14 carries. He also passed for 57 yards and the one scoring connection with Ryan. All in all, the victors rushed for 177 yards.
BG collected 176 rushing yards – but lost standout backs Kelvin Rivera and Jackson Housman to injuries in the process – and passed for 64 yards for a total of 240 offensive yards. But the Londonderry defense bent but refused to break much in a truly strong effort in kicking off a new campaign in memorable fashion at home.