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Football Knights wrap up season with awards night

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by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers

JACKSON MCCULLOUGH was presented the Tom Lovett Award by coaches (l to r) Phil Estes, Tom McCullough and Paul Landry. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
November 19, 2020
WOLFEBORO — Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, "the measure of who we are is what we do with what we have."

For Kingswood football coach Paul Landry, it made sense to open the end of season awards ceremony with that quote on Sunday afternoon in the Kingswood Arts Center.

"That (quote) resounds with our season very well," said the Knight coach. "The kids gave everything they have to this program.

"Our efforts (moving forward) will be in building, building a culture of character," Landry said. "The back bone is one of communication, dedication and heart."

Longtime Exeter High School football coach Bill Ball was the keynote speaker. Ball was one of Landry's high school coaches and Landry also coached with Ball before coming to Kingswood.

Ball noted that he got a chance to come and see the Knights play in the opening week of the season and he said things seem to be in place, as he watched the sideline in addition to watching the game.

"You hustle all the time, play hard and don't quit," he said. "That's what I saw out there.

"Everything has changed, but the game of football is still a tremendous tool," Ball continued, noting there are plenty of lifelong lessons to be found in the game, including caring about your teammate and your team.

He also relayed a story about his early days as head coach when one of his captains passed away of what turned out to be a heart defect. He said the aftermath taught him about the importance of communication and relationships.

"Coaching is relationships, getting to know people," he said. "If you have the relationship, people will do anything you ask."

The first awards of the night were for the middle school program, with coach Scott Meserve taking the podium and each player was introduced to the socially-distanced audience in the

"It was a great experience this year," Meserve said. "The kids worked together very well as a team. It was great to see them start to become football players."

He then presented the middle school Player of the Year awards to Garrett Burke and Rylan Bourdeau.

Landry then went through and introduced each of the high school players, class by class, before getting to the seven seniors, who he shared a little bit about as they were introduced.

"This night is about the seniors," Landry said. "The seven seniors are quality young men, there's no quit in any of them."

Landry noted Atley Corson was a quiet leader, but when he spoke, people listened and gave 100 percent effort to the program for all four years.

"We had him in every position except bus driver," Landry said.

Joe Day played football for the first time this year and Landry said the team was lucky to have him.

"He created havoc for centers with his quickness and strength," the Knight coach said.

Lance Gouthier played all four seasons and should be looked to by the younger players for the hard work he put in to get to his senior year, according to his coach.

"He worked extremely hard to get stronger and made himself a better football player," Landry said.

Ryan Harrington returned to football after taking his junior year off and was willing to do whatever was needed.

"He was willing to do whatever we asked of him, he's a selfless person," Landry said.

David Hartley played all four years and was looked to as a vocal leader.

"He's a terrific leader, a great example of achievement, both academically and athletically," Landry stated.

Jackson McCullough also played four years and earned his coach's praise as a throwback player.

"He earned every varsity letter and then some, he never came off the field and never once complained," Landry said.

Pat Runnals played two years of football and Landry praised his athleticism.

"He's a quiet, no-nonsense kid who leads through is actions, Kingswood needs more student-athletes like Pat," Landry said.

Next up, Harrington, Day, Tom Geissler, Andrew Keniston and Robbie Hotchkiss were all presented with their varsity jackets by their mothers.

Coaches Phil Estes and Tom McCullough joined Landry to present letters to Damien Gavell, Jeremy Jones, Aiden Brierley, Riley Saxby, Keniston, Day and Harrington with letters and pins and the presented pins to Hotchkiss, Quinn Lucas and managers Abby Hossack and Lillian Howard.

The five major awards were up next, starting with the Most Improved Player Award for the player who showed the most growth in the season, voted on by players and coaches.

"He has given everything to our program for four years," Landry said in presenting the award to Gouthier. "He taught us coaches that hard work, effort and dedication really pay dividends."

The Knight Award was next, presented to a player that shows academic excellence and plays at a high level on the field.

"He is a quality young man from a terrific family," Landry said in presenting the award to Runnals.

The Teammate Award was next, given to a player who the team could not see getting by without.

"He's a trusted and dependable player the whole team respects," Landry said, presenting the award to Corson.

The 12th Player Award is given to the player that was willing to do whatever was asked of him.

"He did any task for the betterment of the team," said Landry, presenting the award to Hartley.

The final award of the night was the Tom Lovett Award, presented in the name of the longtime coach, who was known to do anything for anyone at any time.

"He was the best all-around player on our team, he gave everything he had for four years," Landry said in presenting the award to McCullough.

McCullough, Corson and Hartley then took the podium to present gifts to a number of parents who were helpful to the team throughout the year, as well as the coaching staff and the two managers, Hossack and Howard.

Landry closed out the ceremony at the podium noting that for things to move in the right direction, it takes everyone working together.

"It takes all of us," Landry said. "Not just the coaches, not just the players, not just the parents, not just the community.

"We all have to become a cog in this," the Knight coach concluded.

The evening concluded with a slide show put together by Hossack and Howard.

Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or josh@salmonpress.news.

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