Boston High School: Anton Marinchik

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

May, 13, 2011
5/13/11
1:29
PM ET
It's a head-scratcher of the highest order.

New HampshireTony Johnson, among the Granite State's most successful head football coaches, will not return for his 18th season at powerhouse Bishop Guertin High, the three-time defending Division II champion.

Also the Nashua school's athletics director for the past four years, Johnson announced his stunning decision on May 6. He first broke the news to his assistant coaches and student-athletes.

Word spread quickly.

Pinkerton Academy head football coach Brian O'Reilly – whose Division I champion Astros play yet another much-anticipated season-opening crossover contest with BG this fall – said his reaction was complete disbelief.

“Tony has obviously done an exceptional job at Bishop Guertin,” said O'Reilly, entering his 34th season at the helm in Derry. “When I think of Bishop Guertin football, I immediately think of Tony Johnson.”

O'Reilly, whose program is a 10-time Division I king, isn't alone.

On this topic, easily obtainable answers exist to four of journalism's five W's: Who?, What?, When?, and Where? The fifth question is much tougher to explain.

Why?

“My passion is coaching,” said Johnson, who will remain BG's athletics director. “But really, (BG officials) wanted me to focus on being AD.”

Four years earlier, Johnson became AD in addition to coaching football. He said his performance in both roles has been reviewed annually.

Johnson, a Guertin graduate (1977), simply said the powers-that-be wanted him to focus more attention on all sports programs.

Minus any details, which haven't emerged from behind Guertin's doors, this move is baffling. Guertin fields championship-caliber teams in a variety of fall, winter and spring sports.

Let's see how much longer Guertin football remains a force. Johnson and his loyal assistants are a big reason for BG's stranglehold on Division II.

Johnson took over in 1994, fresh off a winless campaign. BG reached the final in 1997, the first of 10 title-game trips under Johnson's tutelage.

The Cardinals finally finished No. 1 in 2004, securing their first crown since Johnson starred for the school's 1975 title team as a junior.

Johnson's juggernaut has won six of the seven state championships since 2004. All that separates the Cards from seven straight titles is, quite possibly, a controversial pass interference penalty late in the 2007 final against Exeter High. The infraction gave Exeter life, and led to a 14-13 comeback decision.

“It will not be the same,” O'Reilly said. “Whoever follows (Johnson) is behind the 8-ball.”

That's because the successor will work in a giant shadow cast by the former coach, still serving as AD.

“We'll open this thing up. We're going to do an open search,” Johnson said. “I owe it to my kids to find the best coach I can.”

JOHNSON'S PREPARED STATEMENT
BG's former head coach read this statement to select media members after informing the football team of his decision to leave the sideline:

“My heartfelt thanks goes to the thousands of young men I have had the honor of coaching and teaching over the past 17 years. I want to thank my loyal coaches, thousands of great parents, alumni and friends of BG for their contributions in achieving an unparalleled record of winning football games, developing outstanding scholar-athletes, and to their dedication of the highest principles of good sportsmanship and citizenship.”

CLIPPERS CLOSE TO RECORD
Portsmouth High's baseball team (10-0) is close to tying the national record for consecutive wins.

The three-time defending Division II champion won its 73rd consecutive game on May 11. The Clippers beat Amherst's Souhegan High, 9-3.

But it was Portsmouth's 70th straight win that stands out. It certainly qualified as nail-biter baseball. The Clippers clinched a 4-3 comeback win against Dover's St. Thomas Aquinas High on May 2.

Pitching ace Keegan Taylor was tagged for a first-inning home run that placed the Clippers in a 2-0 hole. Jordan Bean, STA's top hurler and Taylor's teammate on the celebrated Portsmouth Little League squad that reached the national semifinals of the 60th World Series in 2006, belted Taylor's third toss of the game.

Portsmouth's third-inning four-spot erased the deficit.

Bill Hartman cracked an RBI double. Matt Feeney ripped a two-run single. Taylor tripled to plate Feeney with the game-winning run.

Taylor threw a four-hitter on 100 pitches. Northeastern's recruit recorded 10 strikeouts and walked one.

The current win streak record-holder is Michigan's Homer High, which beat 75 teams in a row, according to the National Federation of State High Schools Association.

If the Clippers defeat Durham's Oyster River High on May 13, they'll play for a share of the record on May 16 at Kingston's Sanborn Regional.

The potential record-breaker game is May 18 at Pembroke Academy.

LANCERS LOCKED IN
Londonderry High survived a fierce five-game stretch from April 30 to May 11, which kept its state-best girls' lacrosse win streak alive. The streak reached 48 straight games with a 14-4 Division I win over arch-rival Pinkerton on May 11.

It was Londonderry's lone lopsided win in the 12-day span.

The Lancers (11-0) edged the Bay State's Duxbury High, 12-11, on April 30. They worked a 10-8 comeback win at Pinkerton on May 3.

Three days later, Londonderry beat Concord High, 8-6. The Lancers kept the Crimson Tide off the scoreboard for the final 22 minutes, and erased a 6-2 second-half deficit.

They again faced Concord on May 10, and topped the Tide, 12-9.

From front to back, the Lancers displayed their balance. Attackers Leah Walter and Julia Wasserman, midfielders Jenny Thompson and Alexa Bedell, defenders Amy Johnson and Lindsay Conroy, and goalkeeper Crystalle Parent all made critical contributions.

“All the stuff we've been trying to teach throughout the year is just starting to come into place,” Londonderry coach Bob Slater said. “This is when we wanted it. This is when we needed it.”

SCHOLAR-ATHLETES HONORED
Twenty-nine seniors from schools throughout the state were the honored guests at the 24th annual Joe Yukica New Hampshire Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame scholar-athlete dinner on May 4.

The number of standouts – celebrated by 200-plus members of the state's football community at the Executive Court in Manchester – tied the record set last year. At least one school from each of the six New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) football divisions was represented.

A five-man selection committee from the Yukica foundation chose from nearly 50 candidates nominated by their coaches. Prerequisites for consideration included football talent, good grades and high character.

This year's winners included:
  • Chris Almeida, Souhegan (Amherst)
  • Jared Barczak, Trinity (Manchester)
  • Nick Kepka-Calvetti, Souhegan
  • Matthew Cannone, Salem
  • Sam Carney, Hanover
  • Tim Croteau, Nashua North
  • Stephen Cuipa II, Bishop Guertin
  • Joseph DiPalma, Salem
  • Keith Farkas, Nashua South
  • Benjamin Fee, Winnacunnet (Hampton)
  • Dan Folger, Bishop Guertin
  • Nick Hession, Souhegan
  • Jake Holmes, Laconia
  • Max Jacques, Salem
  • Brandon Karkhanis, Nashua North
  • Jim Kemos, Bishop Guertin
  • Kevin Kosiorek, Mascoma (Canaan)
  • Doran Logsdon, Laconia
  • Anton Marinchik, Nashua North
  • Sam McClain, Bedford
  • James Murphy, Nashua North
  • Cody Patch, Lebanon
  • Jack Pearl, St. Thomas Aquinas (Dover)
  • Jonathan Roth, Lebanon
  • Michael Seaman, Epping
  • Luke Somers, Pinkerton
  • Matthew Sullivan, Winnacunnet
  • Michael Sullivan, Winnacunnet
  • Nicholas Sullivan, Newport
STARS TO SHINE
The Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) recently announced plans for New Hampshire's first East-West high school football all-star game. The inaugural contest is June 23, 2012, at the University of New Hampshire's Cowell Stadium.

The game will benefit CHaD and the Kristen's Gift fund for pediatric oncology.

Each team's roster will include 36 players based on nominations made by their head coaches. Players must compete for schools recognized by the NHIAA.

Every division will be represented by, at minimum, one athlete. A maximum four players may be chosen from a single team.

Route 3 and Interstate-93 are the dividing lines that create the “East vs. West” matchup.

“The team of organizers that we’ve assembled will do a masterful job in premiering the state's only all-star football game,” event founder Nick Vailas said in a written statement. “New Hampshire football will be elevated by this platform, and players should aspire to make the teams' rosters in order to showcase their skills in an event that will raise awareness and funding for CHaD and Kristen’s Gift.”

GRANITE STATE GREATS
  • Bedford High goalkeeper Austin Lauzier made at least 20 saves in consecutive Division II boys' lacrosse contests on May 7 and 9. He stopped 21 shots in a 17-10 loss at Souhegan on May 7. He made 20 saves in an 11-8 win over Portsmouth two days later.
  • Jack Dowst, a midfielder at Manchester's Derryfield School, totaled seven goals and three assists on May 9. His 10-point effort paced the defending Division III boys' lacrosse champion in a 13-10 win over Lebanon High.
  • Pinkerton's Ryan Feney was a double threat on the baseball diamond May 9 at Rochester's Spaulding High. He struck out nine batters and hit a two-run homer in his team's 5-3 Division I win.
  • Mickenzie Larivee and Meggie Whitney each recorded five goals and an assist in Souhegan's 19-3 Division I girls' lacrosse win over Manchester Central High on May 10.
  • Julia Nolan led Litchfield's Campbell High to a 1-0 Division III softball win over Conant High of Jaffrey on May 11. She fanned 14 batters and celebrated her 100th strikeout of the season.
  • Oyster River girls' basketball star Danielle Walczak, a scholarship recruit for the University of Maine, secured a spot on Parade Magazine's 35th annual All-America high school team. The 6-foot 1-inch center will be profiled in the publication's May 15 issue.
Marc Thaler is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He can be reached at marc.thaler@gmail.com. You can read his blog, "New Hampshire GameDay" and follow him on Twitter @marc_thaler.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

October, 13, 2010
10/13/10
2:42
PM ET
There were two ways — for one game, anyway — to view the reigning Division I football finalists after their first meeting since last year's title game.

New HampshireDefending champion Salem and Nashua North could have conducted a seminar on scoring, or they needed to take a course on tackling.

The latter best described these talent-rich teams in Week 5. Each squad's defense did a disappearing act in Salem's 67-54 home win at Grant Field.

“It was a great basketball game today. Great basketball game,” North head coach Jason Robie said with supreme sarcasm on Oct. 2, before attempting to explain how his then-No. 2 Titans posted 54 points and lost by 13.

No, several overtime sessions didn't help produce this points pile-up. All 121 points were scored in regulation (12-minute quarters in New Hampshire).



Save for one play – a 103-yard interception return for a touchdown by North's Andre Williams – defense was sub-par. And that's being kind.

Salem set single-game program records for points scored and allowed. North set a record in the points-allowed department.

“I, never in my life, in all my coaching years, would believe we played an ugly game and scored 67 points,” said Salem's defensive-minded head coach, Jack Gati, after his then-No. 5 Blue Devils won the tough-to-stomach contest.

How ugly was it?

Nine of the 15 offensive scoring drives, including five for North, lasted five plays or fewer.

Salem scored the game's first 34 points in the opening 13 minutes, four seconds. It led at halftime, 54-28.

The preseason picks to again meet in the league final combined for 1,356 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns. Salem gained 712 all-purpose yards and tallied 10 touchdowns. North notched 644 yards via the run, pass and return game.

Salem's Max Jacques, the New Hampshire Union Leader Player of the Year last season, recorded 338 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns. The senior halfback's totals included 224 rushing yards and four scores, and a program-record 90-yard punt-return to paydirt.

Jerickson Fedrick added 169 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Matt Cannone threw for 120 yards. Abner Rodriguez took a kickoff 83 yards to the house.

North's Williams stopped the 34-point blitz with his pick-six. He also rushed 21 times for 181 yards, including a 49-yard burst to the end zone.

Brandon Karkhanis accounted for six scores, two on QB keepers and four through the air. Anton Marinchik (five catches for 109 yards, two TDs), Eric Muite (four catches for 72 yards, TD) and Jamar Gathright (two catches for 66 yards, TD) combined for four touchdown grabs between 20 and 47 yards.

"I think when you don't have an experienced group like we had last year, it's difficult going in and out of your base defense to a special defense for spread (offense) teams," Gati said. "We've just got to get better at that because we face spread teams and we face traditional teams."

Gati's group rebounded in Week 6 with a 48-7 win over Division II Timberlane Regional of Plaistow. Salem, currently No. 3 in New Hampshire, stands at 4-2 overall and 3-1 in Division I.

Now No. 6 in the state, North (3-3, 3-2) faced a tougher foe. The Titans lost to current No. 4 squad Nashua South, 38-21, in Week 6, meaning this statement from Robie after the Salem game still applies:

“We can do one of two things: We can keep reading the articles saying we're a terrible defense,” Robie said. “Or we can say 'This one's behind us,' let [the media] talk about that, and try and fix what's broken. We'll do the latter.”

GANG GREEN
Manchester Central dominated the Manchester Cross Country Championships at Derryfield Park on Oct. 12. Alexandra Conway won the girls' race, and Sam Gagnon, Zack Chabot and Sean Brown recorded the same winning time in the boys' run.

Central, as a result, clinched girls' and boys' XC city titles for the third straight season, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Conway ran the 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes, 45 seconds. She finished 68 seconds ahead of her closest competitor. Gagnon, Chabot and Brown completed the run in 17:02. Teammate Matt Becker was one second off the pace.

MONUMENTAL MARKER
Striker Eric Jayne scored his 10th goal of the season on Oct. 5. The tally helped Hanover beat Concord's Bishop Brady, 5-0, in Division II boys' soccer.

Jayne's marker was significant. It was the 43rd goal of the senior's career, which set a new program record. The previous career goal-scoring record stood since the mid-1960s.

Hanover (11-0-0) and Division III Gilford (13-0-0) are the state's only unbeaten/untied teams.

CHAMPIONS CROWNED
Golf was the first fall sport to finish its season, making it the first to crown champions.

Keene (Div. I), Bedford (Div. II) and Moultonborough (Div. III) celebrated team titles. Keene's Chelso Barrett, Bedford's Jake Nutter and Gilford's Chris Houston won boys' individual crowns in Divisions I, II and III, respectively.

Lebanon's Colette Schmidt (Div. I) and Newmarket's Chelsea Walker (Div. II) won girls' individual championships.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Londonderry won its final 13 matches last season to clinch the program's first Division I girls' volleyball championship.

The Lancers, now senior-laden, are poised to repeat in their 15th varsity campaign.

Coach Peter Willis and his powerhouse squad are 14-0 this season. They take a 27-match win streak into their showdown tonight (Oct. 13) with reigning runner-up and fellow 14-0 force Spaulding of Rochester.

“One of the big factors in us (winning) last year was this group really played to the moment,” said Willis, who leads eight seniors and two juniors. “They wouldn't get too up, they wouldn't get too down. They were very business-like on the court. In that sense, they really deal well with pressure.”

The breakdown of Londonderry's 14 wins includes 11 three-game sweeps. The remaining matches went four games. That means the defending champ played 45 games, just three games over the minimum.

Identical twins and outside hitters Katie and Megan Schwarz lead the Lancers along with setter Amy Johnson.

The 5-foot 10-inch Schwarz sisters are “both the total package,” Willis said. They consistently lead the team in kills per match. Katie averages 14 per contest. Megan's per-match average is 17.

They're the program's only members of the 500-kill club.

Johnson recently became the second Lancer to record 1,000 career assists. She averages 30 per match.

Lyssa Winslow, Nicole Williams and Shay Collins split time as middle-hitters. All are difference-makers.

“We've certainly met a lot of people's expectations so far. The trick is do we meet our own expectations?” Willis said. “It's a very self-aware group.”

CENTURY MARK
Campbell's Shawna Trunca tallied her 100th career goal in girls' soccer on Oct. 12, according to the school's athletics director, Dan Kiestlinger. Trunca, a senior striker, helped lead the Litchfield-based squad to a 6-0 Division III win over Hillsboro-Deering.

Campbell is 14-0-0 and the only remaining unbeaten/untied team in the state's four soccer divisions. Trunca & Co. have one regular-season game remaining on Oct. 18.

DOUBLE DUTY
Play-calling for Laconia is territory of head football coach Craig Kozens, who serves as offensive coordinator for the Sachems.

In Week 6, however, Kozens doubled as defensive coordinator. Longtime assistant Bob Ewell was recovering from surgery. Ewell's appendix burst one day before Laconia hosted Plymouth Regional, winner of five straight titles between Divisions III and IV.

“It was hectic. I had a lot of help from my assistant coaches,” Kozens told the New Hampshire Sunday News after Laconia beat Plymouth, 30-20. “Because we have a consistent staff of 11 guys, everyone helped me keep my thoughts together.”

Laconia hadn't beaten Plymouth since 1999. The 10-point win on Oct. 8 also marked the first time Kozens, in his 10th year as Laconia's head coach, led the Sachems past the Bobcats.

THE 400 CLUB
Mike Ackerman readily admits he can't recall the details of his first career coaching win.

The reason is understandable. Ackerman, the head coach at Division IV Woodsville since 1977, has won more than 400 boys' soccer matches.

He reached the 400-win milestone when the Engineers defeated Groveton, 9-0, on Sept. 23. His career record through Oct. 12 was 404-134-36, according to UnionLeader.com.

“It's a few,” Ackerman, 57, said while chuckling about the whopping total. “I'm just worried about the team playing well, what the kids are learning from playing, and that they're good people and graduating from high school.

“Four hundred wins is four hundred wins,” he added. “But the important stuff is what they're getting out of their experience, and that it's making a difference in their lives.”

Gilford's Dave Pinkham is the lone member of the 500-win club. Exeter's Jim Tufts has 300-plus wins. They both began coaching boys' soccer the same year as Ackerman.

Longtime Hanover coach George Merrill retired two wins shy of 400. Ackerman said he once asked Merrill why he called it a career with 398 wins on his resume.

“He said, 'You'll know when it's time,'” Ackerman said. “It isn't time yet for me.”

Woodsville won consecutive championships in the former Class S under Ackerman. He also coached his sons, Ryan and Matt, in the late 1990s. His wife, Glenna, never misses a match.

At a recent school assembly, Ackerman said he was presented with a game ball. It marked the accomplishment three-plus decades in the making.

To think, it all started when his original team manager from the '77 season announced during a booster club banquet that Ackerman was close to clinching his 400th win.

“I was just going to let it slide by if I could,” Ackerman said. “But (this year's players) loved dumping a big bucket of ice water over my head.”

Marc Thaler is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News and UnionLeader.com. He has been the high schools reporter for football and lacrosse since joining the statewide newspaper in 2006. A graduate of Syracuse University (2000), he wrote about the state's football history for an exhibit at The Hall at Patriot Place. The Bedford, N.H., native has covered the Little League World Series, NCAA men's lacrosse championships, UNH athletics and New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball. He can be reached at marc.thaler@gmail.com.

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