EXETER – Londonderry High School head football coach Jimmy Lauzon received two texts shortly before he entered the Lancer locker room ahead of Saturday’s Division I state championship game against Winnacunnet.
One text was from Judi Narr, the other was from her husband, Reggie. Judi and Reggie are the parents of Jake Narr, a Londonderry football captain who was killed in a car crash last March just three months ahead of his high school graduation.
Lauzon then walked into the locker room and delivered his pre-game speech.
“I am not really an emotional guy, but I teared up during that speech,” Lauzon said. “Jake was looking over us today; this win is for him. We’re thinking about Jake today, and we know he’s looking down on us.”
Narr served as Londonderry’s captain last season and was a junior on the team’s 2019 state championship team. He was selected to represent the East in this past summer’s ninth annual CHaD New Hampshire East-West High School All-Star football game.
“This means so much to me and all the players on this team to win this one for Jake,” said Londonderry junior quarterback Drew Heenan who threw for 199 yards and two touchdown passes in Londonderry’s 24-14 win over Winnacunnet. “This season was dedicated to him and to go out and win a championship, I couldn't have wished for anything better.”
'Remarkable' senior class
Saturday’s loss ended Ryan Francoeur’s third season as head coach of the Warriors. Coincidentally, his first year as head coach saw many of this year’s seniors starting as sophomores. Winnacunnet went 1-8 that year and 6-2 last season, reaching the Division I semifinals.
"It's a remarkable (senior) group, love every one of them" said Francoeur, who is now 18-1in his three years as head coach.
The Warriors will lose 20 seniors, including captains Zach Fredericks, Nico Zaino, Tucker McCann and Matt Alkire.
Two-way junior starter Jake Fredericks leads a talented group which will return next season.
"We've got a lot of great kids in that junior and sophomore class and I'm sure they are going to work," Francoeur said. "They know they are going to have to put in a lot of work to try and fill these shoes here, so it'll be a lot of work ahead of them.”
Londonderry strikes early, often in third quarter
After being held off the scoreboard in the first half, the Lancers quickly struck for three touchdowns in the third quarter.
"We played a bad quarter of football, not really, we just played a handful of bad plays,” Francoeur said. “I think the teaching moment is that sports are cruel, that losses hurt more and wins are good sometimes. I don't know if there's a lesson. This team played their hearts out all year."
Lancers put the game away in fourth
Londonderry, after recovering a fumble at its own 10 with 10:29 left in the game, came up with four plays which gained 14 or more yards on the ensuing drive, taking precious time off the clock as it marched down the field.
Heenan and Colby Ramshaw hooked up for a 15-yard reception on second-and-10, and Heenan ran for 14 yards on the very next play. After Jake Schena was stopped for no gain on first down, Heenan ran for 15 yards and then connected with Ramshaw again for a 22-yard gain, giving the Lancers a first down at the Winnacunnet 23 with 7:20 left.
Four plays later, Dylan Wrisley’s 31-yard field goal gave Londonderry a two-score lead, 24-14, with 5:33 left to play.
Sophomore joins family business
The Warriors had three generations of Magris this season with assistant coaches Steve and Steve, Jr., and sophomore Jake Magri.
Jake Magri served as the team’s punter this season and got off a booming kick on his lone attempt on Saturday.
The Warriors were faced with a fourth-and-5 from their own 15 with just under 9 minutes left in the third quarter. Magri handled a high snap near the 5-yard line and was able to get off a kick as pressure was mounting; the Lancers took over at midfield.
McCann reaches end zone for 13th time
Tucker McCann's game-tying touchdown in the third quarter of Saturday's championship game was his 13th rushing score on the season.
McCann, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior, scored a touchdown in all of Winnacunnet's 12 games except in Week 2's 42-7 win over Concord.
He scored two touchdowns against Spaulding and Portsmouth/Oyster River.
McCann carried the ball 17 times for 60 yards against Londonderry, snapping a streak of seven consecutive games of more than 100 yards. McCann, who had eight games of more than 100 rushing yards, finished the season with 1,322 yards. His high was a 158-yard performance against the ClipperCats in Week 6.
State title game history
Winnacunnet is now 5-6-1 all-time in state championship games, and is now 1-1 in Division I.
Winnacunnet won the Division IV title in 1959, and shared the Division III crown with Stevens in 1968. The next eight championship games were in Division II, beating Exeter in 1983 (19-7) and 2000 (10-9), and Bedford in 2012 (21-13).
The Warriors lost in the Division II final to Exeter in 2003 (24-6), and Bishop Guertin in 2004 (21-7), 2009 (31-0) and 2010 (14-13).
Winnacunnet beat Pinkerton in the Division I final in 2017 (41-21).
For Londonderry, it was its eighth championship in program history. The Lancers won the Division II title in 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1994; and the Division I crown in 1996, 1998, and 2019.
- Staff writer Brandon Brown contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Londonderry High School dedicates its championship season to Jake Narr