Boston High School: Bishop Guertin

Recap: Bishop Guertin 9, No. 6 L-S 8

May, 4, 2014
May 4
1:44
AM ET
NASHUA, N.H. – It was a battle fitting of two of the top teams in New England and in the end it was Bishop Guertin holding on to defeat Lincoln-Sudbury, 9-8, at Rivier University.

The Cardinals held the ball for the last four minutes to seal the win. Bishop Guertin rode its endless depth to the victory. Six different Cardinals scored, and Guertin coach Chris Cameron was liberal in his substitutions from start to finish.

Nick Prunier, Dom St. Laurent, and Charlie O'Brien each had two goals for Guertin.

“Nick Prunier, who came in off the bench, had two big ones right away,” Cameron said. “We run seven middies, two faceoff guys, three LSMs, we have five long poles who can play. We have a lot of depth down the line, and I think we needed that today.”

Lincoln-Sudbury came out of the gate rolling, jumping to a 5-1 lead early in the second quarter. Eric Holden had two of his three goals in the opening barrage. Greg Roder scored the first of his three during the run as well.

The Warriors were able to consistently move the ball in the opening period and put up more shots in that quarter (10) than in any other quarter. However, a slew of penalties allowed the Cardinals to get back in it.

“We didn't execute little things,” Lincoln-Sudbury coach Brian Vona said. “We didn't deserve to win. They're a very good team; they're best players executed some big moments and played big the whole game.”

The Cardinals flipped the script the last 11 minutes of the second quarter. Guertin utilized its substitution advantage and scored six goals to into halftime up 7-6.

St. Laurent, who scored both of Guertin's second half goals, said that once he and his team worked out the jitters they were able to get down to business.

“I think we came out a little bit timid, a little bit nervous,” St. Laurent said. “But once we pulled ourselves together the sky's the limit when we're playing our brand of lacrosse.”

The Guertin offense was aided by solid defense and even stronger goaltending. Jake Sonberg turned aside eight shots for the Cardinals including a pair in the fourth quarter that preserved the lead.

“It was definitely a new experience,” Sonberg said. “I honestly haven't been shot on by poles that well. The biggest thing for me was watching the ball the whole way and addressing the defense because they really stepped up today.”

Lincoln-Sudbury was able to reel in Guertin's attack in the second half and chip away at the lead. Roder scored a goal midway through the third and again in the fourth quarter to keep the Warriors within a goal.

“When Greg was dodging up top he was patient,” Holden said. “He didn't rush things or take too many bad shots. He waited for the third or fourth dodge; he waited for a good time to go and capitalized on his shots.”

A penalty with 1:41 left doomed Lincoln's attempts at tying the game as the Cardinals were able to salt away the win.

Guertin, who has beaten its five New Hampshire opponents 96-29, relished the challenge of playing another of the Commonwealth's best teams. The Cardinals beat Needham, 10-9, on April 22.

“I live for it,” Sonberg said. “It's no fun playing those 15-2, 18-2 games. I don't get anything out of that. This game experience is what really drives and is what I play for.”

Recap: No. 4 Xaverian 15, La Salle (R.I.) 12

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
6:20
PM ET
PROVIDENCE, R.I . – Granted, defending MIAA Division 1 boys’ lacrosse champion Xaverian Brothers and two-time defending Rhode Island Division 1 champion La Salle Academy play in different leagues as well as in different states.

But what if the Hawks and the Rams either played in the same conference or played each other more than once per season?

“Obviously, ‘O.D.’ (La Salle coach Steve O’Donnell) has them fired up, they run good patterns and they know what they want to do,” Xaverian coach Tim Gardner said on a frigid, rainy Saturday after the Hawks beat the Rams, 15-12.

“They have a heck of an athlete in No. 22,” he said of the Rams’ Joe Manown, who scored three goals and assisted on two. “I think they’d fit right in the Catholic Conference with us. If we played them a couple of times a year, it would be a tough game every time. I think that’s what every Catholic Conference game is like.”

Xaverian’s 1-2 punch of Jake Cox (five goals, one assist) and Jack Wheeler (three goals, one assist) paced the Hawks while Manown’s younger brother, Matt, also scored three goals and recorded two assists.

Lukas Buckley contributed one goal and two assists for the Hawks (6-2) while Evan McGreen scored twice for the Rams (3-2).

As far as O’Donnell is concerned, the tougher the non-league opponent the better.

“My philosophy here is we have a league and then we go out of league,” O’Donnell said. “We’re going to challenge ourselves in our league and out of our league. As for Xaverian Brothers, you’ve got to beat the best to be the best.

“The same is true with Medfield and Bishop Guertin. They’re three of the best teams I think in New England. But I think we’re a very good team. We’re young. But I think the difference today was discipline.”

For the first seven minutes, the Hawks gave every indication that they would blow the Rams off the field since they grabbed a 4-0 lead on goals by Cox, Peter Thorbahn, Cox again and Nick Shaw.

La Salle battled back and recorded unanswered goals by Matt Manown, Joe Manown and Drew Edwards (his goal came after a half-field pass from Matt Manown). But Xaverian scored a killer of a goal with exactly two-tenths-of-a-second left in the first quarter when Zach Bloom whipped home a shot from a good 40 yards out.

“We got up and we’re seeing it a little bit,” Gardner said. “The weather plays into a lot of the things we do. I think we got the better of that first quarter. But they chipped back. They have a lot of good athletes all over the field and were able to make some good plays on groundballs … unsettled situations … and climbed back into it and made it closer.”

La Salle pulled within 5-4 on a Matt Manown goal 52 seconds into the second period. And the Rams tied it when McGreen scored a man-up goal at 6:33.

Then, after Wheeler and Joe Manown traded goals to make the score 6-6, Xaverian’s Shayne Kaminski scored a key goal – 10 seconds after Manown’s goal to put Xaverian ahead for good at 7-6.

“We certainly have a lot of guys that are capable of scoring,” Gardner said. “I think defense is a little tough because of the weather and the ball’s skipping around. There were a couple of wild situations with the penalties and being multiple-men down a couple of times.

“It was a weird game in that sense. But Cox is a great shooter. Wheeler can take over a game by carrying the ball from midfield. He’s just a tremendous athlete. They’re seniors and we depend a lot on those guys.”

Wild finish: To say the final two minutes of regulation were bizarre would be an understatement.

Seemingly in an eye blink, Xaverian was whistled for three consecutive penalties. And during a span of 47 seconds, La Salle was playing with a two-man advantage. But either Mike Toomey (11 saves) made a save or La Salle missed the cage.

“I think at the end, when push came to shove, it was a close game (McGreen’s goal pulled La Salle within 15-12 with 3:17 remaining) and we had some man-up opportunities and we imploded,” O’Donnell said. “We made some bad decisions. But I have some seniors and juniors who can play.

“For whatever reason, it didn’t come our way today. Our goal with these games is to get better. I think it was a very winnable game. I’m sure they thought at one point it was a 50-50 game. We made some mistakes early and a let them jump on us quickly which probably was the difference in the game.”

Recap: No. 3 AC 2, Bishop Guertin (N.H.) 1

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
7:30
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Mass. -- Arlington Catholic may have skated away from Monday afternoon's non-conference hockey tilt with a feeling it deserved better.

For the record, the Cougars held off Bishop Guertin, 2-1, inside Ed Burns Arena, but for their effort, the belief here was this one should not have been that close.

But in the game of hockey, even if you are dominating your opponent, a win is still a win no matter how you attain it. The No. 3 Cougars will take it and move on.

"Hey, a win is still a win right?" said Cougars longtime coach Dan Shine, who picked up career victory No. 499 with a chance for 500 when AC hosts Austin Prep Saturday night. "We'll take the win."

The Cougars controlled the offensive end for much of the 45 minutes, putting up 38 shots, including 19 in the second period. Had it not been for the brilliant performance by Cardinals goaltender Griffin Scanlon, it's anyone's guess what the finally tally could have been.

"I thought their goalie played real well and I thought they did a good job closing up gaps in the middle of the rink," Shine said. "We did have a lot of nice clean shots that were blocked by their defensemen. That's just good defensive play by our opponent because I felt we did a lot of things right. We've been harping on our kids to move the puck, get in space and create opportunities. At times today we were doing that but again, it goes back to their goalie playing very well for them."

The Cougars, which suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday against St. Mary's of Lynn, improve to 8-1-1. BG, whose roster is made up primarily of underclassmen, drop to 2-8-1.

Throughout the season, the Cardinals have found life difficult once they have the puck inside an opponent's defensive zone. Scoring goals has been a premium. However, against AC, the offense was able to strike first.

Just 1:39 in, and with his team already on the power play, sophomore winger Mike Barrett pushed back a rebound from the right point to give BG the early 1-0 lead.

It lasted for approximately three minutes. The Cougars defensemen had been doing an admirable job moving the puck around the perimeter just inside the blue line and hardly receiving any pressure from the Cardinals. While all this was going on, the AC forwards and center were switching in an out in front of the crease in an attempt to screen Scanlon on a long shot or re-direct anything coming from outside. The latter of two came into play after junior Ivan Mikhaylov deflected a shot in front that sailed over Scanlon and into the net, knotting things at 1-1.

Following the first intermission, AC took its game up a notch. Perhaps not happy with their play over the opening 15 minutes, the Cougars picked up their speed and skill strengths. Passes had become much tighter and more direct, and their ability in handling the puck across the neutral zone and along the half walls was more precise. Throughout the period, the Cardinals found themselves often chasing any Cougar with the puck on his stick or getting caught out of position.

It took AC all but 1:10 into the frame to take the lead. After two hard shots were stopped by Scanlon in succession, the goalie was unable the corral the second attempt. The puck slid out to the front of the net where sophomore Andrew Somerville was standing all alone. The forward flipped it into the net.

"We're just looking to capitalize on any chances that we can get," Somerville said. "We try to work the puck deep and play our game. Ugly wins like this do happen but we still got the win. We do need to start coming out better to begin games. It seems in the first period we come out a little slow and then we tend to catch up later on. It's been working for us so far but that's not always going to be the case so we need to focus on coming out to start games on a better edge."

AC was resourceful throughout the second period, attacking Scanlon virtually on every shift down ice. Scanlon, however, proved his worth. After giving up Somerville's marker, he never flinched and stoned the Cougars the rest of the way in keeping his team in this contest.

"Griffin played really well for us," said Gary Bishop, now in his 22nd year with the Nashua, N.H. based school. "He's been a very good goaltender for us in all of his four years here. He doesn't panic and made some great stops today. This could've been a 4-1 game at the end of the second period. We're happy with our goaltending. We just need to find ways of getting the puck into the back of the net. We've been struggling all year long to convert. We don't get plenty of chances but we do get some chances. We just haven't been able to finish. We're not bearing down around the net."

The Cardinals put up a much-better effort in the third period. At both ends of the ice, they were matching the Cougars stride-for-stride. On two occasions, they had solid opportunities to notch the equalizer.

However, AC senior netminder John Richard (17 saves) came up a pair of big stops when he needed to help keep the Cougars in front for good.

Previewing the Mt. St. Charles Holiday Face-off

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
2:36
PM ET
With snow hampering some of the early schedule across the region’s ponds, let’s take a look at one of the premier holiday tournaments coming soon.

Per tournament director Larry O’Donnell, here’s a look at another loaded 8-team field at this year’s Mount St. Charles (R.I.) Holiday Face-off Tournament. Some of the best programs in the Ocean State, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania will be on hand for what should be a highlight to the New England high school hockey calendar.

This year’s entrants:
Mount St. Charles
Franklin (Mass.) High School
Bishop Hendricken (R.I.)
La Salle Academy (R.I.)
Bishop Guertin (N.H.)
Fairfield Prep (Conn.)
St. Joseph’s (N.Y.)
La Salle College (Penn.)

First-round schedule:
(Games scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 26)
Fairfield Prep vs Bishop Hendricken High School, 2 p.m.
Bishop Guertin vs LaSalle College, 4 p.m.
LaSalle Academy vs Franklin, 6 p.m.
Mount St. Charles Academy vs St. Joseph's, 8 p.m.

Second round games (Friday, Dec. 27):
Matchups and face-off times, TBA

Championship and consolation games (Saturday, Dec. 27):
Matchups and face-off times, TBA

Tournament notes: Mounties head coach Bill Belisle enters the RIIL season with more than 900 career wins and 31 state championships. … Fairfield Prep head coach Matt Sather has accumulated more than 230 career wins in 14 seasons at the helm. … Matt Barnaby, son of the former Buffalo Sabre of the same name, plays for St. Joe’s of Buffalo. Also, there’s another Sabres connection, as St. Joe’s head coach Richard Crozier is the son of former Sabres coach Joe Crozier. … La Salle Academy (R.I.) coach Mike Gaffney served under New Jersey Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello while at Providence College. … Guertin head coach Gary Bishop was on the staff of former UMass-Lowell coach Billy Reilly.

New Hampshire Week 6 football preview

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
1:38
PM ET
There are plenty of people who figured the Concord High School football team would be good this season, but it’s unlikely anyone expected the Crimson Tide to be this good.

New HampshireConcord is 5-0, has won each game by at least 28 points and is averaging 50 points per contest.

Two Crimson Tide running backs are averaging more than 13 yards per carry: Mark Gaudet (13.5) and Walters Ndi (13.2).

“They’ve had their way with everybody,” Pinkerton Academy coach Brian O’Reilly said when asked about Concord, a team Pinkerton will face Friday night in Derry. “No one has been able to stay with them so far, so we’ll see. If we’re not able to stop their offense it’s going to be a long night.”

The Astros are having a pretty good season as well, Pinkerton has won four in a row since opening with a 14-12 loss at unbeaten Bedford.

Pinkerton has the top offensive threat in the state in senior running back Manny Latimore, who has run for 955 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

Concord coach Eric Brown said the No. 1 thing on his team’s to-do list tonight is preventing Latimore from having a huge night.

“Manny Latimore is in a class by himself,” Brown said. “It’s not just his runs from scrimmage. It’s his punt returns, kickoff returns and the other things he’s done. Hopefully they’ll have to go to someone else.

“We’ve been really strong against the run, but I think Pinkerton’s offense is a different level than some of the teams we’ve been playing. This is going to be a big challenge for us.”

Elsewhere in Division I this weekend:

Spaulding (Rochester) will meet Bishop Guertin (Nashua) on Saturday (4 p.m.) at Nashua’s Stellos Stadium. The game features two teams that are battling to get into the playoffs. BG (4-1) suffered a one-point setback against Winnacunnet (Hampton) in its opener, but has won four in a row since then. Spaulding (3-2) thrust itself into the playoff picture by beating Winnacunnet 42-29 last Friday.

Keene (3-2) will play at Winnacunnet (3-2) in a game that will all but eliminate one team from the playoff hunt. Keene is in third place, behind Nashua South (5-0) and Bishop Guertin (4-1), in Division I West. Winnacunnet is in a three-way tie for first place with Spaulding and Exeter (3-2) in Division I East. Two teams from each conference will qualify for postseason play.

DIVISION II

Even though St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover is about a 15-minute ride from Portsmouth High School, it’s been more than 40 years since the schools played each other in football. That will change Friday night, when the teams will meet in Portsmouth.

St. Thomas is 5-0, Portsmouth is 4-1. The winner will have sole possession of first place in Division II East. Each team runs a spread offense.

“We’re very similar in terms of style,” St. Thomas coach Eric Cumba said. “It could be a very high-scoring game, or the longest game in history.”

St. Thomas has allowed 41 points in its five victories, two of which were shutouts. Portsmouth has scored at least 35 points in each of its five games, and has put up at least 41 points three times.

Portsmouth has won the last two Division III championships, and St. Thomas enters the weekend as one of seven unbeaten teams in the state. Concord, Bedford, Nashua South, Plymouth, Monadnock and Pelham are the others.

“The first thing that jumps out at you is that they carry that Portsmouth High School aura,” St. Thomas coach Eric Cumba said. “There’s a lot of tradition going on there.

“Then when you pop in the film you see that they get the ball to a lot of different guys all over the field. They might be the most explosive team I’ve coached against. They’re a lot like Trinity (Manchester) and Plymouth in terms of their ability to score points, they just do it in a different way.”

DIVISION III

Pelham, the only unbeaten team in Division III, will try to extend its winning streak to five games when it plays at Epping-Newmarket (2-2) Saturday. Despite its 4-0 record, Pelham has little room for error, since the three other teams in its conference -- Bow, Campbell and Somersworth -- each have three victories.

Pelham’s defense has allowed 20 points in its four games. Division I Bedford is the only team in the state that has allowed fewer points (12).

In terms of playoff position, the most meaningful game in Division III this weekend is Saturday’s matchup between Gilford (3-2) and Newfound (2-2) in Bristol. Gilford is tied with Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough for first place in Division III North. Newfound is alone in third.

(Read full post)

New Hampshire Week 5 football preview

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
11:21
AM ET
Even though his team is off to a 4-0 start, Nashua South coach Scott Knight said he still doesn’t know how good his Panthers are. Why? Because Nashua South has yet to play any of the heavyweights in Division I.

New HampshireSouth’s victories have come against Spaulding (2-2), Alvirne (1-3), Timberlane (1-3) and Nashua North (0-4).

“We could use a signature win this year,” Knight said. “We really don’t have one.”

The Panthers could get one Friday night when they face Exeter (3-1) at Nashua’s Stellos Stadium. Exeter has won the last two Division I titles, but is coming off Saturday’s 21-14 overtime loss to Bishop Guertin.

“We got what we deserved against Guertin,” Exeter coach Bill Ball said. “We have to get better.”

Exeter’s biggest challenge tonight will be stopping Nashua South quarterback Trevor Knight (Scott’s son), who has completed 32 of 56 passes for 449 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Knight, who has committed to play at the University of New Hampshire, missed one game and half of another with a dislocated thumb.

“He makes it interesting because he’s a run-pass threat,” Ball said. “He can beat you long or with the underneath stuff. Plus he’s probably the best athlete in the state with his feet.”

Senior fullback Jay Inzenga is the top threat for Exeter. Inzenga has rushed for 534 yards on 72 carries, but was kept out of the end zone in last weekend’s loss to BG.

“It’ll be a tall order, but we have the size to compete with them up front,” Scott Knight said. “We’ll find out where we’re at for sure. It’s not a playoff game, but it’s a big one.”

Saturday’s contest between neighboring Bedford (4-0) and Goffstown (1-3) is another interesting Division I game on this weekend’s schedule. The game will be a family feud of sorts, since Bedford head coach Kurt Hines will be calling plays against a Goffstown defense that includes his son, Brockton, a defensive end.

“It’s going to be an emotional one,” Hines said. “Not only am I the head coach, I’m the offensive coordinator, so I’ll be game-planning against my son. After the game, win or lose, there’s going to be tears.”

DIVISION II

Monadnock (4-0) enters the weekend as one of three unbeaten teams in Division II -- Plymouth and St. Thomas are the others -- but will be without linebacker/kicker Mischa Hoffman (concussion) for Friday night’s game against Laconia (2-2). The Huskies may also be without quarterback Isaiah Prince, who suffered a leg injury in last weekend’s victory over Sanborn.

“He was in such pain on the field I thought for sure it was a fracture, but our trainer is fairly certain it’s not an injury to the bone, it the muscle,” Monadnock coach Linwood Patnode said. “My gut tells me he’ll go, but he won’t be 100 percent. He’s been a real treat to watch on offense.”

Saturday’s contest between Milford and Windham will likely go a long way toward sorting out the playoff picture in Division II South. Milford, Trinity and Windham are each 3-1 entering the weekend, but only two teams from that conference will qualify for postseason play.

DIVISION III

Talk about parity. Fourteen of the 17 teams in Division III are 2-2 or better.

In terms of the playoffs, this weekend’s most meaningful games are Friday’s matchup between Winnisquam (2-2) and Pelham (3-0), and Saturday’s contest between Stevens (2-2) and Mascoma (2-1).

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL

1. Concord (4-0)

2. Bedford 4-0

3. Nashua South (4-0)

4. Pinkerton (3-1)

5. Exeter (3-1)

6. Bishop Guertin (3-1)

7. Winnacunnet (3-1)

8. Plymouth (4-0)

9. Keene (2-2)

10. Trinity (3-1)

(Read full post)

New Hampshire Week 4 football preview

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
11:47
AM ET
It's usually a big deal when the Plymouth Regional and Trinity football teams meet on the field, and Saturday night's contest will be no exception.

New HampshireTwo of the last four meetings between Trinity and Plymouth came in the Division IV championship game. The two others were regular-season games that ended up determining the No. 1 seed (and home-field advantage) for the playoffs.

Each team is now in Division II, and each will enter Saturday's matchup at Manchester's Gill Stadium (4:30 p.m.) with a 3-0 record. Monadnock (3-0) and St. Thomas (3-0) are the only other unbeaten teams in Division II.

“They're outstanding on offense and defense,” Plymouth coach Chuck Lenahan said when asked about Trinity. “A lot of people have stepped up for us. We're getting a little better (defensively) every game. I think turnovers could be a big, big factor in this one.”

Plymouth beat Trinity, 7-0, in last year's championship game. Trinity defeated Plymouth, 30-14, in the 2011 championship game.

“They're a well-coached team with a ton of good athletes,” Trinity coach Steve Burns said. “They're very, very good, and very, very big. They're solid on both sides of the ball, and their skill kids are fantastic. We have our work cut out for us.”

Trinity has outscored it opponents 130-63 this season. Plymouth has surrendered seven points in its last two games and has outscored its three opponents 131-36.

“I think they were bigger and more physical last year,” Lenahan said. “They have more speed and a lot more finesse this year. After Saturday we won't have to wonder how good we are.”

DIVISION I

Saturday night's game between Exeter (3-0) and Bishop Guertin (2-1) at Nashua's Stellos Stadium is this weekend's marquee matchup in Division I.

These two programs were the class of Division II until Exeter moved to Division I following the 2009 season. The Blue Hawks and Cardinals met in the Division II championship game seven times from 1997 to 2008. BG won four of those seven meetings.

BG, which is in its first season at the Division I level, has won two in a row since opening the season with a one-point loss to Winnacunnet. Exeter received a scare from Winnacunnet last weekend, but prevailed, 35-34, when Winnacunnet missed a point-after attempt in overtime.

The rivalry game between Londonderry (2-1) and Pinkerton Academy (2-1) is another noteworthy Division I contest this weekend. The game is part of Mack Placque weekend, the athletic rivalry between the two schools that is contested each fall.

The teams will meet Saturday night (6:45 p.m.) in Derry.

DIVISION III

When the NHIAA chose to reduce the number of football divisions in the state from six to three earlier this year, it also altered the playoff format in each division. There are four conferences in each division, and two teams from each conference will qualify for postseason play.

Some have been critical of the playoff format since it may not allow deserving teams to make the playoffs. If the three best teams in a division happen to come from the same conference, one of those teams will not be in the eight-team playoff field.

That scenario could play out in Division III South, which is clearly the strongest conference in that division. Pelham (3-0) and Campbell (2-0) – the only unbeaten teams in that division – both compete in Division III South, which also includes Bow (2-1) and Somersworth (1-2). Although Somersworth is off to a slow start, there are coaches who insist the Toppers are capable of beating anyone in the division.

Somersworth can prove it is playoff material when it faces Campbell on Saturday in Somersworth.

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL

1. Exeter (3-0)

2. Concord (3-0)

3. Bedford (3-0)

4. Nashua South (3-0)

5. Pinkerton (2-1)

6. Winnacunnet (2-1)

7. Trinity (3-0)

8. Bishop Guertin (2-1)

9. Plymouth (3-0)

10 (tie). Londonderry (2-1)

10 (tie). Portsmouth (2-1)

10 (tie). Spaulding (2-1)

(Read full post)

New Hampshire Week 1 football preview

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
2:15
PM ET
Pinkerton Academy football coach Brian O'Reilly had three quarterbacks competing for the starting job throughout the preseason, but few people outside of the O'Reilly household know who will be behind center when Pinkerton opens its Division I season at Bedford on Friday night.

New HampshireThe candidates are all juniors: Jack Hannaway, Conner Holland and Jake Froehlich. Hannaway and Holland were with the Pinkerton program last season. Froehlich transferred to Pinkerton from the Tilton School, where he threw for 1,492 yards and 13 touchdowns in eight games last season.

Choosing from three talented quarterbacks is a problem many coaches would welcome.

“But it is a problem,” O'Reilly said. “They're all pretty good.”

Regardless of who it is, Pinkerton's quarterback will be handing the ball to running back Manny Latimore often Friday night. Latimore, who is widely considered to be the top offensive players in the state, rushed for 1,504 last season. He'll likely have a larger role in the Pinkerton offense this season.

“Based on his senior year, it's possible that Manny could be one of the best running backs we've ever had here,” O'Reilly said. “When you have that kind of weapon you have to use it. I will use it. Trust me.”

Bedford is playing in its third division in as many years. The Bulldogs lost to Portsmouth in the 2011 championship game, and to Winnacunnet in last year's Division II championship game.

The Bulldogs, who have 125 players in their program, made to move to Division I in the offseason.

“This is where I would prefer to be,” said Bedford coach Kurt Hines, who has been Bedford's head coach since the school first fielded a varsity team in 2008. “We're going to find out where we fit in the division Friday night.”

***


Winnacunnet at Bishop Guertin is another interesting Division I matchup on this weekend’s schedule. The Warriors and Cardinals are scheduled to meet Saturday night (7 p.m.) at Nashua's Stellos Stadium.

Both programs competed at the Division II level last season, but each was placed in Division I when the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association reduced the number of divisions for football from six to three.

Winnacunnet defeated BG in last year's Division II semifinals.

“As long as we stay healthy I think we should be in the playoffs,” BG coach Travis Cote said. “We should be in that first round (quarterfinals) and who knows after that.”

(Read full post)

New Hampshire football preview

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
5:46
PM ET
New Hampshire's high school football season will kick-off Wednesday, when teams are allowed to hold their first practice in preparation for the 2013 season.

New HampshireFootball in the Granite State has a drastic new look this year. The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association scrapped the six-division format it had used since 2008 in favor of three larger divisions that have four conferences in each division. The divisions are still based on enrollment and here's how the teams were divided:

Division I
  • East: Exeter, Winnacunnet, Dover, Spaulding and Timberlane.
  • West: Keene, Nashua North, Nashua South, Bishop Guertin and Alvirne.
  • North: Concord, Manchester West, Manchester Central, Manchester Memorial and Bedford.
  • South: Pinkerton, Salem, Londonderry, Goffstown and Merrimack.
Division II
  • North: Kennett, Hanover, Plymouth, Laconia and Lebanon.
  • South: Milford, John Stark, Windham, Souhegan and Trinity.
  • West: Monadnock, Con-Val, Hollis-Brookline, Sanborn and Kearsarge.
  • Central: Portsmouth, Pembroke, Merrimack Valley, Kingswood and St. Thomas.
Division III
  • South: Pelham, Campbell, Bow and Somersworth.
  • Lakes: Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough, Gilford, Winnisquam, Franklin and Newfound.
  • West; Raymond, Epping-Newmarket, Bishop Brady and Farmington/Nute.
  • East: Mascoma, Newport, Fall Mountain and Stevens.

“From the conversations I've had, more coaches like the new alignment than don't like it,” Manchester Memorial coach Peter Colcord said. “I''m just not happy that we've gone down from tenB (regular season) games to nine. That's a lot of work, and you want to play as many games as possible.

“I also understand that you can't please everybody.”

New Hampshire teams will no longer have room for a non-league game, so the Pinkerton-Brockton rivalry is among the casualties of the new alignment.

Eight teams will make the playoffs in each division (two from each conference), so the number of playoff teams (24) is the same as it was last year, when four teams qualified from each of the six divisions. The top two teams from each conference will meet in the quarterfinals. Teams will be reseeded for the semifinals using a point-rating system that will factor in each team's record and strength of its victories. A victory over a strong team is worth more that a victory over a lesser opponent.

“I like it,” Nashua South coach Scott Knight said. “I'm not one of those guys who's afraid of change.

“The only thing I don't like is the two teams in one conference playing in the (quarterfinals). I don't see why you have to play a team twice in a 20-team division. I'd like to play different teams in the playoffs.

“After this year I'm sure they'll tweak it, but we're definitely headed in the right direction.”

TEAMS TO WATCH
Here are 10 teams that should be in the hunt for a championship this season:
  1. PINKERTON ACADEMY -- The Astros have the state's premier running back in senior Manny Latimore, who rushed for 1,477 yards last season.
  2. NASHUA SOUTH -- South quarterback Trevor Knight, a three-year starter, has committed to the University of New Hampshire.
  3. EXETER -- The Blue Hawks are seeking their third straight Division I title.
  4. WINNACUNNET -- The Warriors won last year's Division II championship. They make the move to Division I this year.
  5. CONCORD -- If there's a surprise team in Division I this season it will likely be the Crimson Tide.
  6. PORTSMOUTH -- Clippers are also stepping up in class (to Division II) after winning the last two Division III championships.
  7. TRINITY -- Quarterback Carmen Giampetruzzi is headed to Boston College … to play baseball.
  8. PLYMOUTH -- Plymouth coach Chuck Lenahan has guided the Bobcats to 19 state titles.
  9. BISHOP GUERTIN -- There's plenty of talent left over from a team that reach the Division II semifinals last fall.
  10. BEDFORD -- The Bulldogs competed in Division III two years ago, moved to Division II last year and are in Division I this season.
MEET THE NEW BOSS
First-year head coaches this season: Mark Phillips (Alvirne), Dante Laurendi (Merrimack), Rob Pike (Salem), Jeff Hunt (Spaulding), Rich Bergskaug (Hollis-Brookline), Brian Pafford (Portsmouth), Mike Lochman (Souhegan), Greg Gush (Campbell), Vance Sullivan (Manchester West), Jeff Kaplan (Franklin) and Chris Marden (Gilford).

NIGHT VISION
Pinkerton Academy in Derry has added lights around its football field and, with one exception, will play its home games on Friday nights this season. Pinkerton's game against Londonderry will be played in Derry on a Saturday night, Sept. 28.

Last year, Pinkerton was the only Division I school without lights.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and publishes the New Hampshire Football Report. Follow him on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

January, 28, 2013
1/28/13
12:24
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The Division I girls basketball season is more than halfway over, and the question many people are asking is this: Just how good is Pinkerton Academy?

New HampshirePinkerton wasn't mentioned among the favorites when the season began, but the Astros are the lone unbeaten team in the division. Pinkerton raised its record to 10-0 by beating Manchester Central, 71-43, Friday night.

Pinkerton leads a pack of contenders that includes Bishop Guertin (9-1), Nashua North (9-1), Bedford (10-2) and Londonderry (8-2).

“The reality is we have not played any of the top four teams – BG, Londonderry, North and Bedford,” Pinkerton head coach John Barry said. “So not playing the top four teams makes the (10-0) record a little deceptive. We have some serious weaknesses that may show up when we play those teams.

“I'd be stupid not to like (the 10-0 start). We felt it was attainable, but I'm a realist and I'm practical about things.”

Senior point guard Samantha Breslin is the only senior on the Pinkerton roster. The Astros have been winning with a balanced offense, and a defense that has held seven of its 10 opponents to less than 40 points.

“If any one of my players tries to do too much by themselves we have problems,” Barry said. “When they play together, they're good. We're not a team based on one star.”

Any question about where Pinkerton fits in Division I should be answered in the first half of February. On Feb. 1 the Astros begin a four-game stretch that features games against Londonderry, Nashua North, BG and Bedford.

“They will play the top teams tough,” Manchester Central head coach Mike Wenners said. “They're more than capable of beating anybody.”

GAGNE HEADED TO WESTFORD ACADEMY
Adam Gagne has resigned as Salem High School's football coach to become the head coach at Westford (Mass.) Academy.

Salem was 0-11 last season, Gagne's only season as the program's head coach. Gagne teaches and coaches freshman basketball at Westford Academy.

"While I thoroughly enjoyed my time coaching at Salem, the opportunity to teach and coach at Westford Academy was something I had to take advantage of," Gagne said. "I am very grateful for this great opportunity and I'm excited to get started."

Gagne, who lives in Haverhill, Mass, was an assistant coach at Westford Academy under Rich McKenna for three seasons before he was hired to replace Jack Gati as Salem's head coach. Gagne was also an assistant coach at Merrimack College from 2003 to 2009.

McKenna recently became the head coach at Billerica (Mass.) High.

Gati resigned following the 2011 season, after guiding Salem to a 121-77 record and two state championships during his 18 seasons at the school. Gati has also served as the head coach at Trinity (1978-85) and Concord (1986-93). He has a 221-138 career record with four state championships (1987, 1989, 1995 and 2009).

BERLIN MEETING LITTLE RESISTANCE
No New Hampshire high school hockey team has a stronger pedigree than Berlin, which has made 27 championship game appearances and claimed nine titles since 1947. Lack of participation prompted Berlin to drop from Division I to Division III following the 2011-12 season, however, and the Mountaineers have established themselves as the clear team to beat in their new division.

At 11-0, Berlin is the only unbeaten team in Division III. The Mountaineers have outscored their opponents 79-13, and six of their 11 victories have been shutouts.

Connor Jewett is the team's offensive leader. Through 10 games Jewett led the state in scoring with 30 goals and 19 assists.

JENNESS NOTCHES RARE FEAT
White Mountains Regional girls basketball coach Gary Jenness collected his 600th career victory Friday night when White Mountains defeated Berlin, 47-20. White Mountains improved its Division III record to 12-0 with the win.

Jenness, who is in his 39th season as a head coach, guided White Mountains to a 56-51 triumph over Campbell in last year's Division III championship game. The victory ended Campbell's 39-game winning streak and handed White Mountains its first state title since 1999.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader, and has been covering high school sports throughout New England since 1992.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
8:48
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We're more than a month into the Division 1 boys basketball season, and you'd have to dig deep into the league standings before you found a team not capable of winning this year's state championship.

New HampshireEntering Friday night's schedule eight teams are above .500, and all of them seem to have legitimate title hopes.

“Obviously some teams are better than others right now, but there are quite a few teams that could put things together by the end of the year and they could be real dangerous,” Salem coach Rob McLaughlin said. “I see a lot of teams that could cause problems.”

Even Manchester Central (7-0) and Trinity (6-0) – the only unbeaten teams in league play – have a non-league loss against a Division I opponent. Trinity lost to Central in the Queen City Invitational, and Central lost to Manchester Memorial in the same tournament.

Memorial (5-1) is one of four teams with one loss. That group includes Bishop Guertin (6-1), Nashua South (6-1) and Spaulding (6-1). Merrimack (4-2) and injury-plagued Winnacunnet (4-3) round out the top eight.

“Right now I'd have to say Trinity and Central are the two best teams,” said McLaughlin, who has faced five of the top eight teams in the standings. “At least they're the best teams we've played. Then there are a bunch of teams that aren't that far behind.”

GIVING DEVILS THEIR DUE
No NHIAA hockey team is playing better than Salem, which is 6-0-1 since opening the season with a 1-0 loss to Bishop Guertin. The Blue Devils stretched their winning streak to five games when they beat Exeter 6-1 Saturday.

Salem has been winning with defense. Goaltender Nick Phair has a 1.16 goals-against average – the lowest among Division I goalies – and a .949 save percentage in 233 minutes. Cody Soucy (nine points) and Jake Pappalardo (seven points) lead the offense.

The Blue Devils have outscored their opponents, 29-11.

STAR GAZING
Rosters for the second CHaD New Hampshire East-West All-Star Football Game were released earlier this month. This year's game will be played June 29 at the University of New Hampshire's Cowell Stadium, and will benefit Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (ChaD).

Former Manchester Central coach Jim Schubert will coach the West, and former Concord coach Bob Camirand will serve as the East's head coach. The East roster includes five players from Division I champion Exeter and five from Division I runner-up Pinkerton Academy of Derry.

“As is the case with any all-star game there are some people who are worthy who won't be selected,” Camirand said. “We looked at people who were familiar with the 4-4 defense and running the football from under center out of the Wing-T or the Double-Wing, which is what I hang my hat on.

“The Pinkerton kids and the Exeter kids are familiar with the offense we'll be running so it makes for an easy transition.”

The West won the inaugural game, 44-12, last summer.

“This is an all-star game,” Schubert said. “These are the best senior players in New Hampshire in the eyes of the coaches.”

EAST-WEST ALL-STAR ROSTERS
West players:
David Cannone (RB/LB) Bedford; James Capparell (QB) Bedford; Brian Collins (WR/OLB) Bedford; Dylan York (RB/DB) Bedford; Blake Boudreau (FB/LB) Bishop Guertin; Nick Marino (RB/DB) Bishop Guertin; Seth Gosse (OL/DL) Concord; Tolbert Nemo (RB) Concord; Kody Benwell (FB/TE/LB) Franklin; Nathan Grevior (OT/DT) Franklin; Connor Benjamin (QB/RB/WR) Goffstown; Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris (WR/S) Hanover; Mitch Frick (WR/CB) Hollis/Brookline; Lucas Luopa (QB/DB) Keene; Dylan Drew (RB/LB/DE) Lebanon; Zach Hileman (C/DL) Manchester Central; Troy Pelletier (WR/DB) Manchester Central; Pierre Noel (WR/S) Manchester Memorial; Jared Ombati (RB/DB) Manchester Memorial; Zach Ziemba (QB/DB) Manchester West; Chris Sanborn (TE/DE/MLB) Mascoma; Joe Albina (RB/LB) Milford; Nick Patterson (G/LB) Monadnock; Mike Lynch (OT/DT) Nashua North; Deric Wagner (TE/RB/LB/DE) Nashua North; Stephen Choate (WR) Nashua South; Christian Stack (OL) Nashua South; Matt Tremblay (RB/OL/LB) Newport; Brandon Goodale (FB/HB) Plymouth; Chase Wyman (OG/DT) Plymouth; Tyler Ford (QB/WR/DB) Souhegan; Jake Kennedy (OT) Souhegan; CJ Gosselin (OT/LB) Stevens; Colin Bouchard (OL/DL) Trinity; Ryan Carrier (FB/DL/LB) Trinity; Romeo Masuku (RB/WR/LB/DB) Trinity; Russ Pallas (OL/DL) Trinity.

West coaches:
Jim Schubert (head coach), Mike Bombardier, Eric Brown, Dante Laurendi, Jimmy Lauzon, Paul Lavigne, Bob Leclair, Gerry Tautkus.

East players:
Matt Dow (OL/DL) Dover; Kyle Seawards (RB/WR/DB) Dover; Eric Wilson (TE/LB) Dover; Zach Bosen (TE/DT) Exeter; Tyler Grant (HB/TB/SS) Exeter; Logan Laurent (P/K) Exeter; Jamie Vogt (HB/LB) Exeter; Jameson Whiteley (TE/OLB) Exeter; Conor McDonald (LB) Kennett; David Mahoney (RB/LB) Laconia; Graham Nyhan (TE) Laconia; Troy Ward (FB/DE) Londonderry; Chadd Loring (C/DL) Pelham; Chris Ford (OG/DT) Pembroke; Jake Bernaiche (G/DL) Pinkerton; David Hansen (G/LB) Pinkerton; Chris St. Onge (HB/QB/S) Pinkerton; Matt St. Onge (FB/LB) Pinkerton; Brett Stuart (HB/DB) Pinkerton; Dillon Crosby (RB/OLB) Portsmouth; Rick Holt (DT) Portsmouth; Kurtis Leonard (C/DE) Portsmouth; Drew Francoeur (QB/DB) Somersworth; Tyler Kretschmar (OL/DE) Somersworth; Kyle Hall (OL/DL) Spaulding; Ryan Monette (RB/WR/CB/S) St. Thomas; Joe Richard (G/LB) St. Thomas; Joshua David (RB/WR/DB) Timberlane; Ryan McCarthy (WR/DB) Timberlane; Danny Cannone (RB/TE/OLB/DE) Windham; Kevin Cooney (FB/OLB/DE) Windham; Joe Lorenz (QB/S) Windham; Jordan Cutting (G/OT/NG) Winnacunnet; Christian Dyer (OT/DT) Winnacunnet; Ben Franzoso (RB) Winnacunnet; Ben Gareau (WR/DB) Winnacunnet; Mason Taylor (G/OL) Winnisquam.

East coaches:
Bob Camirand (head coach), Peter Bergeron, Dave Bernaiche, Dan Fallon, Dave Malay, Ken Sciacca.

NHL EYES SANFORD
Zach Sanford, who helped Pinkerton Academy win the 2012 Division I ice hockey championship, was among the players listed on the NHL Central Scouting Bureau's mid-term rankings, which were released on Jan. 15.

Sanford, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound forward, was listed at No. 83. He is currently playing for the EJHL's Islanders Hockey Club, and had three goals and 15 assists through 24 games.

Sanford, an Auburn resident, had 69 points in 21 games last season – he collected at least one point in every game -- and collected a goal during Pinkerton's 3-2 triumph over Manchester Memorial in the Division I championship game.

EPPING'S STANLEY JOINS ELITE GROUP
Senior Frank Stanley became the seventh Epping High School boys basketball player to score 1,000 career points when he tossed in 25 during a 66-29 victory over Wilton-Lyndeborough on Jan. 11.

Stanley, an undersized center, finished the game with 1,001 career points.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and publishes the New Hampshire Football Report. He has been covering high school sports throughout New England since 1992.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
6:50
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Maybe Mount St. Charles will win a record 43rd state boys’ hockey championship. After all, the Mount returns 13 players from last season’s team that posted a 21-8-0 overall record and lost in a pulsating, best-of-three finals to Bishop Hendricken.

Rhode IslandBut the Mounties were unable to win their own Holiday Face-Off Tournament.

In fact, the Mount didn’t even reach the finals of this season’s tournament because it was eliminated in the semifinals, 6-5, by Delbarton School of Morristown, N.J.

The Green Wave swamped the Mount by scoring four first period goals, including a hat trick by John Balocco, which trumped a two-goal, two-assist performance by Dan Glod.

But in the finals, Fairfield Prep (Conn.) edged Delbarton, 4-3, on Matt Wikman’s goal at 5:50 of a second overtime period.

LaSalle College finished third by blanking La Salle Academy, 5-0, with Ryan Williams also recording a hat trick.

The only Rhode Island team to finish in the top five was Hendricken, as the Hawks beat Bishop Guertin (N.H.), 3-1, with Matt Creamer (the son of head coach Jim Creamer) scoring one goal and assisting on another.

TIGERS CRAWL INTO THE NIGHT
While Mount St. Charles made news (albeit of a negative type) on the ice, Tolman also made news that essentially was disturbing.

Tolman, which has won six Division III state championships, will be dropping boys’ hockey after this season because, quite simply, it’s going to lack enough players.

The current team dresses only 13 players – eight of whom are seniors. And for the second season in a row, there are zero freshmen on the team which also is minus any sophomores.

Nevertheless, the Tigers are 6-1-1 in their first eight games.

Ironically, Tolman’s cross-town rival in Pawtucket, Shea, dropped hockey in 1987 – after winning its only then-Met C title – because of a lack of players.

DRIBBLING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS
Like most states, Rhode Island featured numerous holiday basketball tournaments.

Following are the results of the more prominent ones:
  • Ben Bradley poured in 27 points as Cumberland beat Woonsocket, 68-58, in the finals of the long-standing Cumberland/Lincoln Boys & Girls Club Holiday Tournament. Bradley, who was voted MVP honors, scored 13 points and dished out eight assists as the Clippers beat Tolman, 62-46, in the semifinals. The Villa Novans advanced to the finals by beating Lincoln, 53-46, with Nicholas Jusczszyn scoring 20 points.
  • Kody Greenhalgh clinched MVP honors after scoring a game-high 23 points to lead West Warwick to a 67-57 victory over Scituate in the finals of the West Warwick Holiday Tournament.
  • Justin Pratt keyed a rally that saw North Kingstown overcome a double-digit deficit and defeat Shea, 74-63, in the Barrington Boosters Holiday Tournament championship game. Pratt scored 26 points – 18 coming on six 3-point shots.
  • Mackenzie Ramsay and Sarah LaMountain scored five points apiece in overtime and West Warwick converted five free throws in the final moments of regulation as the Wizards beat Coventry, 68-60, in the Coventry Credit Union Classic title game. Coventry’s Sarah McGrath forced the extra session when she drained a 3-point shot with seven seconds left in regulation.
  • Juanita Sanchez boasted the MVP in Elfreda Hoff as it captured the City of Providence Holiday Tournament by outlasting Classical, 37-25, in the finals. Hoff scored 31 of her team’s points against the Purple after notching 25 in a 53-19 romp over Hope in the semifinals.
  • Just before the holidays, Prout’s Eric Ramelka surpassed the 1000-point mark for his career as the Crusaders beat Lincoln, 61-46.
EAGLES, PURPLE REIGN
Division I champion Barrington and Division II champ Classical combined to place a total of five players on the First Team All-State Soccer Team.

Eagles earning First Team honors were keeper Andrew Jones (who also was named an All-American); midfielder Christian Egglin; and fullback Carson Hall.

Classical was represented by midfielder Asa Sohn (he played on three consecutive state championship teams, two in Division III and in Division II last season) and forward Julio Jimenez (he led all Interscholastic League players with 27 goals and 11 assists for a total of 38 points).

Rounding out the first team were midfielder Dan Apajee and fullback Greg Forgue from La Salle; forward Christian Rodriguez (21 goals) and midfielder Stiven Montiero from Central Falls; midfielder Brandon Jumoas and keeper Justus Heinstchel Von Heinegg from Portsmouth.

SIGNING ON THE DOTTED LINE
La Salle Academy’s All-Everything running back Josh Morris has announced he’ll be attending Brown University next fall.

Morris, who led the Rams to the Division I regular-season title, rushed for 2,725 yards and 36 touchdowns over his junior and senior seasons.

Hendricken’s Mike King will play his baseball at Boston College, after earning Second Team All-State honors last spring for Division I state champ Hendricken.

Alex Perreault, a First Team All-State selection last spring in lacrosse for Hendricken, opted for perennial power Johns Hopkins.

St. Raphael Academy’s Nicholas Karalekas, who received the Carl Yastrzemski Scholarship (a four-year scholarship endowed by the Red Sox Hall of Famer), will enroll at Merrimack College and play baseball.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
4:07
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The high school ice hockey season arrived last week, and with it came controversy.

New HampshireThe issue that created headlines involved Shelby Herrington, a junior at Bishop Brady High School in Concord. Herrington has played varsity hockey for Bishop Brady's boys team the last two years, and intended to do so this season as well. Bishop Brady formed a cooperative girls hockey team with Trinity High School in Manchester this year, however, and the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association declared Herrington ineligible to play for the boys team.

Herrington challenged that decision and a court order allowed her to begin the season with the boys team. A final ruling on whether or not the NHIAA is within its rights to prevent Herrington from playing with the boys team is expected later this month.

Robert Carey, Herrington's attorney, has argued that the NHIAA is attempting to deny Herrington a spot on the boys team solely on the basis of her sex.

If the court rules in Herrington's favor there is concern that other talented girls will attempt to play for boys teams – thereby weakening the girls sport -- and that some boys may even attempt to skate with the girls.

According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, NHIAA executive director Patrick Corbin sent a letter to Bishop Brady that included the following:

“If a sport is offered for boys and a comparable sports is offered for girls, then the girls must play on the team of their gender. There is no consideration or provision that accounts for competitiveness or ability in the by-laws.”

Another female, Danielle DiCesare, played for the St. Thomas Aquinas (Dover) boys team in 2007-08, the first season the NHIAA offered girls hockey as a varsity sport. DiCesare women's college hockey at Princeton.

FOOTBALL CHANGES SHAPE
New Hampshire high school football will have a different look next season, when the state will scrap the six-division format that has been used for years and place its 57 varsity teams in three divisions.

Eight teams from each division will qualify for postseason play, which will create an additional round of playoffs. Four teams from each of the six divisions advanced to the playoffs last season.

Critics of the old alignment argued that there was no need for six divisions – and six state champions – in a state the size of New Hampshire.

“We already have teams that are not very happy with it, but we have to give something a shot here,” said Plymouth coach Chuck Lenahan, who is a member of the NHIAA football committee. “Hopefully it works out well. We have a lot more flexibility with it. Maybe we'll have to tweak it a little, but I think it's good that we're trying something.”

Student-athletes transferring from one school to another is not uncommon, but in no sport has player movement been the major focus of a season preview as it is in high school basketball.

HAWK TALK
Guard Dimitri Floras returned from prep school (Kimball Union Academy) to lead Merrimack to the Division I boys basketball championship last season. If the Tomahawks win another title in 2012-13 they'll have to do it without Floras, who is now suiting up for Vermont Academy.

Although Manchester Central is the consensus favorite in Division I, Merrimack's backcourt will make life tough on Merrimack opponents. Sophomore point guard Austin Franzen has transferred from Bishop Guertin and will team with junior Eric Gendron to form one of the best guard combinations in the state.

ANOTHER TITLE IN THE CARDS?
Bishop Guertin of Nashua won last year's Division I girls basketball state title, and the Cardinals entered this season as the overwhelming favorite as well.

BG returned five starters from its 2011-12 championship team, including junior point guard Jamie Afterburner and Boston University-bound forward Meghan Green.

BG opened its season with a 91-36 victory over Salem. Last year's championship was the school's first in girls basketball.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader, and has been covering high school sports throughout New England since 1992.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

September, 2, 2012
9/02/12
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Talk of an obscure rule in the NHIAA football policies and procedures manual -- and, more specifically, one prominent head coach's violation of it -- dominated the 2012 preseason.


New HampshireMike Beliveau made statewide news Aug. 21 when the story of his infraction broke in the New Hampshire Union Leader. The longtime leader at Division III power Souhegan said he unknowingly violated the manual's 15th point of emphasis, which prohibits filming or scouting opponents before their final scrimmage or jamboree of the preseason.


Beliveau attended the Aug. 17 scrimmage between Division I Nashua South and host Winnacunnet, a Division II program doubling as Souhegan's season-opening opponent.


“I did not know the policy. As a 20-year veteran coach, I should have,” Beliveau told the Union Leader. “Because I did not know the policy, I violated the policy when I went scouting. I've recommended to my school, my team, the NHIAA, that I be unavailable to coach the first two regular-season games.”


School officials, not the NHIAA, handle disciplinary issues involving coaches. But the state's governing body for interscholastic athletics must approve of the school's recommended sanction.


All parties agreed a one-game penalty was sufficient, meaning Beliveau will serve a Week 1 suspension on Aug. 31 while his Sabers face the team he scouted.


“For the nature of the infraction, in football, two weeks is a good chunk of the season,” NHIAA executive director Patrick Corbin told the statewide newspaper. “The AD and myself agreed that one game was adequate for this situation.”


Beyond the initial statement provided, Beliveau has declined to comment.


Many of his coaching colleagues, however, spoke openly about the matter. They did so during, of all events, the 23rd annual Queen City Jamboree on Aug. 24 at Gill Stadium. The QCJ has long been considered football's final dress rehearsal before the regular season kicks off.


The overwhelming majority of football coaches at the jamboree said they did not know the rule existed – until Beliveau's misstep brought it to light.


Brian O'Reilly, entering his 35th year at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, is among them.


“I'm not surprised he didn't know and, I think, most coaches didn't know,” O'Reilly said. “And to be honest with you, I never really looked at (the manual) either.”


The fact the rule was enforced opened eyes. Several coaches said, for years, representatives of opposing teams attended their scrimmages.


Justin Hufft, the second-year grid boss at Goffstown, said opposing coaches routinely caught peeks of Souhegan's scrimmages. Hufft spent 11 seasons as an assistant to Beliveau.


“When I was around him, I always saw him be nothing but gracious to other coaches … So, I'm disappointed when I see people treating him in a different manner,” he said.


Of course, the fact that the violation occurred at Winnacunnet didn't help Beliveau's cause. The Hampton school's athletics director, Carol Dozibrin, is also the NHIAA football committee chair.


Beliveau was spotted in plain sight, supporting his assertion that he didn't know the rule existed. If he intended to knowingly ignore the policy, why not make himself less visible?


Regardless, this much seems clear:


“In the future,” Bishop Guertin head coach Travis Cote said, “I don't think many guys will make those mistakes after what's happened to Mike this year.”


PRESEASON NO. 1

Unlike August 2011, the Exeter Blue Hawks won't enter this Division I football regular season with modest expectations.


The spotlight shines brightest on them.


Exeter wears the bull's-eye as defending champion, status earned after last year's 23-13 championship upset of Pinkerton. The stunner capped a storybook worst-to-first turnaround, as the Blue Hawks went winless in their 2010 Division I debut.


Which explains this: Exeter earned New Hampshire's preseason No. 1 ranking in the fifth-year Power Poll, the weekly statewide high school football top 10 as voted by media members from the Union Leader, WGIR-Radio and WMUR-TV.


“Any time your school's name is being tossed around with any of those programs, it's great,” Exeter head coach Bill Ball said about being joined in the top three by No. 2 Pinkerton and No. 3 Manchester Central. “It says a lot about the quality of football in New Hampshire.”


Ethan Joyce is among Exeter's senior leaders. He'll take the snaps in the program's signature straight-T offense. Halfbacks Tyler Grant and Colby Swane provide the blend of power and quickness.


Defensive tackle Zach Bosen and linebacker Jamie Vogt anchor Exeter's hard-hitting defense. Placekicker Logan Laurent, offered a scholarship by the University of New Hampshire, returns to give Exeter a decisive advantage on special teams.


“We have some experience back, guys that have been in the fray,” Ball said. “It's incumbent upon them to let the new guys know what's expected.”


DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Offensive linemen are often overlooked. But Souhegan's 6-foot 4-inch, 290-pound left tackle Jake Kennedy will be tough to miss this season.


Kennedy already has seven verbal scholarship offers to play college football at either the Football Bowl Subdivision or Football Championship Subdivision levels.


The list of schools includes Massachusetts (FBS), and Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.


“I'm not focused on (the scholarship offers) right now. I'm focused on this team,” Kennedy said. “I want to help these guys win a championship.”


NEW FACES

All six of NHIAA football's divisions feature at least one new head coach. Here's the rundown:


Brad Archer (Gilford) and Art Jacobs (Farmington-Nute) walk through the door in Division VI. Ryan Clark (Pelham), John Francis (Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough), Ross Salovitch (Epping-Newmarket) and John Welch (Sanborn) join Division V.


Steve Burns leads defending Division IV champion Trinity. He takes over after five years as an assistant on Gary Leonard's coaching staff.


“Is it any different for me? A little bit. Anything that goes wrong for me is my fault. I don't get to blame Gary anymore,” Burns deadpanned.


Ryan McCartney – whose uncle is former University of Colorado head coach Bill McCartney – guides Division III ConVal. Claude Gagnon calls the shots at Division II Spaulding.


Former Westford (Mass.) Academy assistant Adam Gagne secured the job at Division I Salem.


Gagne replaces New Hampshire coaching legend Jack Gati, who amassed a 221-138 career record (four state titles) in 34 years at Trinity, Concord and Salem. The new coach scrapped the Salem staple straight-T for the spread.


“I have the utmost respect for Jack and what he's done. If anything, it's made (the coaching transition) easier for me because (the players) know football,” Gagne said. “That's a true testament to Jack.”


Marc Thaler is a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader. He co-hosts the “N.H. High School Football Show” on WGIR-AM 610. Follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.

New Englanders fill up Power 100 ranking

August, 13, 2012
8/13/12
1:58
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An interesting read today by Inside Lacrosse's Geoff Shannon in the magazine's recruiting issue, ranking the 100 top incoming freshmen in the nation.

The New England region is well represented in the list with 15 players, including the top-rated overall prospect, attack Case Matheis of Darien, Conn., a Duke signee. In addition, there were four MIAA-based players in the rankings, led by ESPN Boston Mr. Lacrosse Max Randall of Duxbury (No. 50 - Dartmouth).

Here's how the locals ranked:

(The entire list can be found here.)

1. Case Matheis A Darien (Conn.) Duke
12. Mikey Morris A Salisbury School (Conn.) Johns Hopkins
17. Henry West M Darien (Conn.) Cornell
22. Ian Ardrey A Deerfield (Mass.) Harvard
23. Sammy Davis M Governor's Academy (Mass.) Penn State
29. Luke Aaron G Deerfield (Mass.) Duke
37. Tony Britton D Darien (Conn.) Cornell
39. Will Ryan G Avon Old Farms (Conn.) Johns Hopkins
50. Max Randall D Duxbury (Mass.) Dartmouth
65. Bob Fahey D Bishop Guertin (N.H.) UMass
75. Tommy Labidini M Salisbury School (Conn.) Loyola
77. Reilly Naton D Duxbury (Mass.) Yale
82. Paul Hellar A Duxbury (Mass.) Fairfield
90. Sean Connors A Deerfield (Mass.) Princeton
99. Greg Stamatov G Foxborough (Mass.) Villanova

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