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I-L takes Divison VI crown in only second year



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Thomas Rees grabs Coach Paul Lavigne in a bear hug after receiving a medal representing the Lakers' NHIAA Division VI Chamionship for 2009. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
November 25, 2009
MEREDITH — It was 30 years to the day since Coach Paul Lavigne won his first football championship, but it was just as sweet as the first when Lavigne brought a 2-year-old football team to its first NHIAA Division VI championship last Saturday.

The Lakers scored early and played a tough defensive game to hold that lead as an equally tough Winnisquam Regional High School team tried to turn things around. Quarterback Josh Guilmette went to senior Kyle Brady play after play, but the Bears managed to keep him to just one nine-yard touchdown run that happened seven seconds into the second quarter. The Bears tightened up on Brady and prevented him from scoring again, but that one touchdown proved to be all the Lakers needed as their equally tough defense held the Bears at bay.

"It came down to one key factor today- the team who made the fewest offensive mistakes and had the strongest defense won," said Lavigne.

The scoring he felt was indicative of how the game went. They only managed the one touchdown, but also managed to prevent any scoring from the other side of the field.

Time and again Brady took the hand-off from Guilmette and did what he could to march his team down the field but, despite 36 carries, the Bears shut him down and the second touchdown never came.

"I wouldn't change a thing if I had to do it over again," said Coach Lavigne after the game.

With the ball in Brady's hands, the defense did its job in holding off the Winnisquam big guns, seniors Pat Sanborn and Alex Evangelo along with juniors Kyle Pratt and Jordan Riberdy.

As the clock wound down and a jubilant Laker team swarmed the field in victory, their fans got their money's worth out of the day.

"To win 6-0, that's a hard fought game ... we're lucky six points did it for us," Brady later said.

Brady also credited a tough Bears' defense for keeping the score so low. The Lakers got some great assistance from seniors Lee Irwin, Conor Donovan and Leonard Kerr offensively, while Kerry Seely, Thomas Rees and Tanner Quinney stepped up big for the defense with some key plays as well.

Ending a perfect Division VI season with 11 wins and no losses, Lavigne was glad the championship came when it did.

"Next year will be a rebuilding year for us as I lose 12 seniors this year. I'm glad we got this win when we did," he said. "Everyone went home after seeing some really good football today."

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