By Dave Dyer and David Willis
---- — CONCORD — Because of long lines at the ticket gate waiting to see Pinkerton face Concord in the Division 1 championship game, there were many fans who didn’t get into the Memorial Field stadium until well into the first quarter yesterday afternoon.
Next year, they’ll know better, and there very well may be a championship rematch next year.
While each team is losing standout players, there are also key returnees coming back and stellar feeder systems.
The top player returning for Concord is quarterback Rob Hall, who was 8 of 12 for 206 yards and three touchdowns yesterday and, amazingly, didn’t throw an interception all year.
“He just has a lot of composure and got better every week,” said Concord coach Eric Brown. “It’ll be really nice to have him back.”
Hall will definitely miss star receiver Seimous Smith, but junior Walter Szuic (55-yard reception) is a talent and sophomore running back Leo Sudieh is a standout in the making.
“We think we have a pretty good nucleus, and we had a very good JV team,” said Brown. “We’d like to be this competitive every year.”
The Astros also return their quarterback, Jack Hanaway, promising sophomore back T.J. Urbanik, their entire secondary and some key players up front. The Astros’ freshman team lost just one game, although it was their first loss in eight years.
“We’ll be back, I’m not worried about it, but we don’t think about next year yet,” said O’Reilly.
Concord coach Eric Brown has been saying all year that his senior receiver, Seimou Smith, is the best at his position in the state. He lived up to that billing yesterday with four catches, 101 yards and a touchdown, showing great hands.
But Smith also displayed talent at halftime, staying on the field as a member of the band, playing the saxophone. A regular in the press box said that Smith is the best saxophone player in the band. He was joined in the band at halftime by senior linebacker Bradley Rucker.
Battle of the bands
One of the best matchups — albeit a friendly one — in yesterday’s Division 1 state title game was between the bands from Pinkerton and Concord.
The “battle” culminated in the third quarter, when both bands began playing the same song at the same time. After a few verses, the two bands began playing the song together in classic “call and response” style, with one band playing a second of the song before the other band played the next second. It went on for a few minutes.
Part of the fun was the conductors and cheerleaders, who were left to do their work in slow motion.
Odds and ends
The crowd, when it finally filed in, was announced as 5,684. Many of the fans were circling the field and not in the stands, which were limited. ... During warmups, some observers were saying that the respective uniforms made it look like Alabama (Concord) was playing Ohio State (Pinkerton). ... During their careers at Pinkerton, the seniors experienced four trips to the championship, but only one title.
In other state title games yesterday, perennial power Plymouth clipped Portsmouth 21-14 in Division 2 and Bow tripped Stevens 20-6 in Division 3. Bow, which lost to the Pythons early in the year, defeated Pelham 18-6 in the first round of the playoffs.