Boston High School: Campbell

New Hampshire Week 6 football preview

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
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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)

Historic night for Manchester Central's Wade

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
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When the game was over, no one on the Manchester Central sideline seemed sure of what they had just witnessed.

New HampshireCentral coach Ryan Ray knew running back Jesiah Wade had a big night, but said he had no idea Wade had just turned in a record-setting performance.

“What’s the state record for rushing in a game?” Ray asked after Wade numbers were totaled.

“I think it’s just under 400 yards,” came the reply.

“Not anymore,” Ray said.

Wade, a senior, rushed for 556 yards and six touchdowns on 31 carries during Central’s 56-35 triumph over Merrimack on Friday night.

“I was shocked,” Wade said. “I had no idea (what the rushing total was). I just wanted the win because a loss would have really hurt our playoff chances.

“Have to make sure I give credit to my offensive line. They did all they could and I just put my shoulder down when I got to the second level. It was too slick to be putting any juke moves on.

According to the National High School Record Book, Wade’s total is the 12th best all-time rushing performance nationally (in 11-man football), and the best rushing total ever recorded by a New Hampshire player.

“It was all kind of a blur,” Ray said. “I really had no idea where he was at in terms of yardage during the game.

“We weren’t trying to get him a record. We weren’t trying to to get him a big night. We were trying to do other things so they couldn’t just send 11 guys to get him, but he was our best option on every play call.

“He’s a pretty special player, and a great kid too.”

John Giannantonio of Netcong, N.J. holds the national single-game rushing record. He gained 754 yards against Mt. Lakes in 1950.

Giannantonio rushed for 4,756 yards in eight games that season. That total is the national record for yards rushing in a season.

Wade, who transferred to Central from Campbell High School in Litchfield after his junior season, led the state in rushing with 2,204 yards last season. He had six runs of at least 40 yards against Merrimack and ran for 319 yards in the first half.

“It was an unforgettable night,” he said.

According to the National High School Record Book, here are the top single-game rushing performances in 11-man football:

1. John Giannantonio (Netcong, N.J.): 754
2. Paul McCoy (Matewan, W.Va.): 661
3. Tanner Wood (Conway Springs, Kan.): 659
4. Tony Diaz (Paint Rock, Texas): 621
5. Ronney Jenkins (Oxnard Hueneme, Calif.): 619
6. John Bunch (Elkins, Ark.): 608
7. Rudy Rudison (Houston Marian Christian, Texas): 599
8. DeAndre Hooper (Chicago Austin Community Academy, Ill.): 593
9. Leonard Jones (Denver, Montbello, Colo.): 584
10. Monquantae Gibson (Louisville Moore, Ky.): 574
11. Cory Davis (South Park, Colo.): 564
12. Jesiah Wade (Manchester Central, N.H.): 556
13. Dallas Bernstein (Vallejo Bethel, Calif.): 555

New Hampshire Week 4 football preview

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
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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 football preview

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
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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

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
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White Mountains Regional won last year's Division III softball championship, but there's a lot to like about this year's White Mountains team as well.

New HampshireThe Spartans, who improved their Division III record to 13-0 by beating Kennett, 5-1, Monday, are the only unbeaten high school softball or baseball team in New Hampshire. White Mountains has dominant pitching and a .460 team batting average.

"We have some unrecognized girls who have been playing pretty good defense too,” White Mountains coach Forrest Hicks said. “I feel we’re a complete team. These girls have played together a lot."

White Mountains has 10 players on its roster who played in more than 100 games for the Way North summer league team last year. Junior pitcher Erica Millett is among those players. Millett is 11-0 with a 0.56 ERA this spring.

White Mountains, which beat Stevens of Claremont to win last year's title, has surrendered 13 runs in its 13 games.

"If Erica’s not the best pitcher in the state, she’s probably very close," Hicks said. "She throws multiple pitches, she throws hard and she has great control."

All but one player in the White Mountains starting lineup is batting over .400. Rebecca Hicks (Forrest's daughter) is batting a team-high .547, followed by Kaylee Savage (.523) and Chelsea Payer (.517).

Forrest Hicks said he expects Gilford and Campbell to be among the major obstacles between White Mountains and another state title.

"I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I’m really not surprised by how the girls have been playing," he said. "We were competitive against a lot of good teams in the summer. The only real surprise has been the consistency of our defense."

LET THERE BE LIGHTS
Pinkerton Academy football fans will have their Saturdays free this fall.

Lights are scheduled to be installed at Pinkerton Academy's football field and track in time for the Astros to play their 2013 home games on Friday nights. Last season, Pinkerton was the only Division I football program without lights.

"I've been told that we are good to go," Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said. "They have announced it to the public. The lights will go up in May and June."

Pinkerton's first home night game will be Sept. 13 against Manchester Central. The Astros will also play Londonderry, Concord and Goffstown at home this season.

COACHING CAROUSEL
Claude Gagnon's tenure as Spaulding's football coach was a short one. Gagnon resigned in late April after spending one season as the the Red Raiders' head coach. Spaulding athletic director Kevin Hebert said Gagnon, who is self-employed, had to make some commitments in his personal life that prevented him from returning for a second season.

“He's a builder and things have been pretty busy for him, and his son is in the military and heading back to Afghanistan, so he'll have to help take care of his grandson while he's gone,” Hebert said

Spaulding was 3-8 overall and 2-6 in Division II last season. Gagnon's replacement will be Spaulding's fifth head coach in as many years.

TOUGH TO BEAT
The Bedford boys' lacrosse team extended its winning streak to 33 games by posting a 13-6 Division II triumph over Bow on Monday.

Bedford's winning streak, which began last season, includes victories over three Division I opponents this season: Exeter (11-10), Hanover (11-7) and Londonderry (16-6).

PITCHING IN
Hanover's Joe Cravero tossed a no-hitter against rival Lebanon on May 8. Cravero, who will play for Holy Cross next season, struck out 16 – including 11 of the last 12 batters he faced – in Hanover's 8-0 victory.

MEMORABLE MILESTONE
The Alvirne baseball team's 11-1 triumph over Salem on Monday was career victory No. 300 for Mike Lee, who is in his 30th season as Alvirne’s head coach.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and publishes the New Hampshire Football Report.

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

October, 15, 2012
10/15/12
7:41
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The 17-year series between regional football heavyweights Pinkerton (N.H.) Academy and Brockton (Mass.) High ended the way it started in 1996.

New HampshirePinkerton celebrated a six-point road win.

The 10-time NHIAA Division I champion from Derry forced five turnovers and left Marciano Stadium on Oct. 12 with a 20-14 triumph. The Astros snapped a five-game losing streak in the series, and earned a share of New Hampshire's No. 1 ranking as a result.

If the Boxers feel they lost the finale more than their opponents won it, that has been Pinkerton's belief the past four years. Turnovers – often at critical times – haunted the Astros.

It still burns Pinkerton head coach Brian O'Reilly that his 2008 team lost, 28-27. Those Astros coughed up a 27-7 lead, thanks largely to problems protecting the football.

“This game was more like the last four years,” O'Reilly said of the 2012 contest's up-for-grabs nature. “Only this time, we were able to make plays in the fourth quarter.”

Brockton dominated the series, finishing with a 12-5 record. Those 12 wins were by a 15.8-point margin. The Boxers created separation with a 9-1 mark from 2002-11.

Before Brockton's run, the series was knotted at 3-3. The '96 Astros, led by junior Mac Gassman, stunned the Peter Harris-led Boxers, 26-20, in the inaugural meeting.

O'Reilly's current players were aware the series was ending. NHIAA football will undergo significant realignment for the 2013 season. The changes include adding an extra round of playoffs, which leaves the Astros without an open date to conduct business with the Boxers.

“(The players) were told, 'This is a playoff game. We're going to Brockton and this is playoff intensity. Anybody that can walk is playing. We’re not just going down there to go through the motions,'” O'Reilly said. “You have to (make that clear) with kids every now and then in football.”

Captain Matt St. Onge best illustrates how badly the Astros wanted to finish strong. A leg injury sidelined the senior during practice in the days leading up to kick-off.

St. Onge played one snap on offense before the coaches decided to find another alternative at fullback. St. Onge, however, did not miss a play at linebacker. He and junior Matt Madden (interception, six solo tackles) were instrumental in the outcome.

“Our linebackers, I can't speak enough about them,” O'Reilly said. “Matt St. Onge essentially played on one leg.”

Normally a halfback, junior Manny Latimore moved to St. Onge's position on offense. Latimore rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.

St. Onge's twin brother, Chris, averaged 4 yards per carry (11 rushes, 44 yards). Senior quarterback Sean Conroy tossed a 33-yard scoring strike to James Toohey.

Ryan Day's 1-yard run shortly before halftime snapped a 14-14 tie. O'Reilly lauded assistant coaches Bryon Murphy and Mike Gooden for making adjustments to the defense's coverage scheme that helped the Astros pitch a second-half shutout.

O'Reilly admitted feeling a sense of satisfaction over winning the finale. But he quickly placed the win in perspective.

“Even though it was a playoff atmosphere,” he said, “it wasn't a championship.”

100 GOALS
Milford senior Morgan Andrews, the reigning Gatorade National Girls' Soccer Player of the Year, scored her 100th career goal on Oct. 5. The milestone marker was one of her five goals that fueled Division II Milford's 8-0 win over Manchester West.

Andrews – a member of the U.S. Under-17 team that recently competed for the Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan – also kicks field goals and extra points for the Division III football team.

Hours after hitting the century mark in soccer, she drilled the game-winning 33-yard field goal that lifted the Spartans past Division I Nashua North, 24-21.

“I am actually home for the rest of (the NHIAA) season,” said Andrews, who missed high school games to play international soccer. “After the World Cup, we're allowed a bit of a break.”

100 WINS
Exeter defeated Concord, 3-0, in Division I field hockey on Oct. 10. The decision earned head coach Deb Grott her 100th career win.

Erin McKenna threaded a pass that led to Kelly Poncelet's first-half goal, the game-winner. Lexi Grott doubled the lead before halftime, and assisted on McKenna's late-game goal.

“What has been great about this achievement is the incredible group of girls I've had over the years who have all been a part of this run,” said Deb Grott, Exeter's leader since 2003. “I hope that the lessons they have learned on the playing field will serve them well outside of high school.”

Exeter has qualified for the Division I tournament in every year Deb Grott has guided the program. The 2006 team reached the state final, a game it lost to powerhouse Salem.

“I am extremely proud of all my teams and feel incredibly lucky to have had the coaches who have been next to me along the way,” she said.

RUNNING TO THE RECORD
Jesiah Wade set Division VI Campbell High's single-season rushing record on Oct. 13. He gained 274 yards (five TDs) on 19 carries, pushing his seven-game rushing total to 1,511 yards.

The junior's five touchdowns lifted his season total to 28 rushing TDs, also a program-record.

Wade entered the season's seventh week just 175 yards off the pace set by previous record-holder Dave Levesque (1,412 in 2003).

Perhaps most impressive is Wade has only played two full games to date. Campbell head coach Marc Prindiville pulled his quick-strike threat in five games because the team was in complete control.

“It's outstanding. I'm pretty sure he's leading the state – all six divisions – in touchdowns and rushing yards,” Prindiville said. “That's not even (including) his all-purpose yards.”

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 and WQSO-FM 96.7. Read his blog at NewHampshireGameDay.com and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

June, 27, 2012
6/27/12
2:07
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Fundraising totals between the teams competing in the inaugural New Hampshire East-West High School Football All-Star Game couldn't have been much closer.

New HampshireThe game itself? That's a different story.

West's all-stars – widely considered underdogs for the June 23 contest at the University of New Hampshire – proved too tough. The combination of overpowering offense and dominant defense led to a 33-point halftime lead and 44-12 final score.

Thaddeus “Junior” Brown was toughest to cover. Manchester Central High's 6-foot 3-inch, 180-pound receiver made all four of his catches for 87 yards in the first half. Three receptions went for touchdowns, including a 50-yard down-the-right-seam dagger that helped Team West build a 37-6 halftime lead.

“This means a lot. I worked hard for it,” Brown, the game's first Bo Dickson MVP, said of the trophy he was handed for his efforts. “The coaches helped me out a lot. I just busted my butt for 10 days. The outcome was this MVP.”

Off the field, the outcome of Brown's efforts, as well as the 73 other all-stars, was even more impressive.

Teams East and West combined to raise $51,301.21 for Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) in Lebanon.

Team East was designated the home team. It earned use of UNH football's locker room for winning the head-to-head fundraising contest. Coach Bill Raycraft's players raised $25,751.21 – a mere $201.21 more than West's standouts.

In total, $301,000 was raised for CHaD.

HS All Star Game
BASCTBD by editorial
“These kids came together and did a heck of a job for a great cause,” said Team West coach Keith Jones, whose 6-year-old son, Harris, a CHaD patient, participated in the pre-game coin toss.

Harris was involved in a freak snowmobile accident three years ago. His father has said many times if not for CHaD, right-leg amputation would have been required.

On gameday, the soon-to-be first-grader made an appearance in Team West's locker room prior to warm-ups. It gave the players an additional boost, which carried over to kickoff.

Several playmakers fueled Team West's 37-point first half.

Brown caught a pair of 9-yard TD passes from Manchester West High's Aaron Martin, who also used his speed to sneak inside the left pylon for a 2-yard rushing score.

Merrimack High's Jackson King returned an interception 19-yards for a TD.

Nashua South's Johnny Bieren was crucial to posting a second-quarter safety. He also forced and recovered a fumble on one of his three quarterback sacks.

Central's Stephen Grzywacz – who raised a players-best $5,965 for CHaD – converted five extra points (6-for-6 overall).

East's all-stars committed five of the game's eight turnovers. The favored squad fell behind, 30-0, before Salem High's Jerickson Fedrick returned a kickoff 96 yards to paydirt.

Fedrick, and Pinkerton Academy of Derry stars Kevin Davies and Emmitt Smith, were all neutralized. Combining to rush for 4,649 yards and 57 TDs last fall, the trio managed 99 yards – 28 through two quarters.

Conor Donovan of Division VI cooperative team Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough scored East's second TD early in the third. Derek Paradis of Nashua South answered with an up-the-gut run.

“The first series, I thought we did pretty well. We stopped them (but) right away turned the ball over,” Raycraft said. “That's not the way you want to start an all-star game. From there, we pressed a little bit more than we probably should have and, because of that, created more turnovers.

“But, like I told the kids, I had a blast these last (10) days,” he added. “I couldn't have asked for a better group of kids. It's going to be fun watching where they go from here. The score will fade, but they set the tone for fundraising.”

BASEBALL CHAMPS
Division I: Dillon Emerson's extra-inning hit snapped two droughts, including a lengthy one for Concord High.

The senior's single down the right-field line scored Pat Cannon and gave the top-seeded Crimson Tide a 5-4 walk-off win over No. 3 seed Merrimack High in the state final June 16 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, home of Double-A baseball's New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Emerson's hit snapped an 0-for-4 skid in the title game and earned Concord (18-4) its first crown since 1980. The Tide lost the state final in 2011.

“I was in the dugout upset over all the missed opportunities I had when coach [Scott Owen] came up to me and said, 'Stick with it. You'll get your at-bat and you'll come through.' He was right,” Emerson told the New Hampshire Sunday News.

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
4:49
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Pinkerton Academy's greatest strength this winter can be summed up in two words: potting pucks.

New HampshireYet a defensive play in the closing minutes of the Division I boys' hockey final helped the preseason-favorite club from Derry hold on for a nail-biting 3-2 win.

“The crowd was so loud, it was (about) settling them down (during a time out),” Pinkerton coach Casey Kesselring said. “I said, 'Hey, we're up one. We're in the driver's seat. All we need to do is play a solid 5 minutes and bring it home.”

Ryan Hall – in front of an estimated 3,000 fans – made the stop that cemented the victory March 10 at Verizon Wireless Arena.

The senior defenseman disrupted a golden chance for Manchester Memorial High to pull even with a furious third-period comeback. Brady Bilodeau on a mini-breakout charged toward netminder Matt Marchman with three minutes, 25 seconds left in regulation.

Hall, trailing the play, stretched and poke the puck away. Bilodeau never had the chance to launch the potential game-tying bid.

“That was big. He's going in to tie it. Ryan gets all puck,” Kesselring said. “He probably would tell you, honestly, that he got caught out of position a bit. But he made up for it. That was the main thing.”

The top-seeded Astros (19-2-0 Div. I) controlled play for the majority of the contest. They built a commanding three-goal lead with markers from J.D. Dudek (first period), Zach Sanford (second period) and Dominic Corsetto (third period).

But, as the clock dipped below the 7-minute mark, the second-seeded Crusaders (16-5-0 Div. I) erupted for two goals in a 25-second span.

“We got down three goals. We talked to the kids,” Memorial coach Mark Putney said. “There was no quit in this team.”

Colin Williamson one-timed Bilodeau's back-door feed. Jacob Boylan, on the next shift, lofted a backhand shot from the slot.

The comeback was on. Memorial – seeking its first hockey title since 1995 – was within striking distance with 6-plus minutes to play.

Then, the bid to tie emerged. Memorial's senior captain, the club's heart-and-soul leader, had the puck on his stick with the game up for grabs.

But he never pulled the trigger. Hall didn't allow it.

“We definitely put on the pressure,” Bilodeau said. “We fought hard. They played a great game defensively, even offensively. Great coaching. You really can't say anything bad about them.”

Division II – Sophomore goaltender Stevan Tempesta made 26 championship-game saves, the last 11 stops nothing short of sensational. Top-seeded Bedford High, also on the strength of Kurt Mitchell and Jason Campbell goals, dethroned defending champion and 3-seed Dover High, 2-1.

Bedford (17-3-0 Div. II), as a result, skated to its first hockey crown March 10 at Verizon Wireless Arena. Dover, unable to bury the equalizer in the final minute, finished 14-6-0 in league action.

Tempesta turned back multiple game-tying bids with the state title at stake. Dover's odd-man rush generated a golden chance. A scrum for the puck in heavy traffic also gave the Green Wave hope.

“You hold on for that final 10 seconds and it's the longest 10 seconds in your life. I just didn't want to blow it,” Tempesta told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “That was probably my best game all season.”

Division III – Kennett High of Conway claimed its third championship, each of them won during an unprecedented run of league dominance. The top-seeded Eagles, appearing in a league-record fifth straight final, edged No. 2 seed Alvirne High of Hudson, 4-3, in overtime.

Anthony LaRusso locked up the win. The junior forward buried a feed to the back door with 26.3 seconds remaining in the extra session March 10 at Verizon Wireless Arena.

The goal was LaRusso's second of the contest. Kennett capped its campaign at 20-1-0 overall (19-1-0 Div. III) and secured hardware to go with the 2009 and 2010 NHIAA plaques.

Alvirne, playing for its first hockey championship, finished with an 18-2-0 league record.

Division I (girls) – The first line of Maddie Dewhirst, and twin sisters Madison and Tessa Hill all closed their careers as 100-point scorers.

The senior trio also factored in all five goals of the final, fueling second-seeded Hanover High's 5-1 championship win over Upper Valley rival and top seed Lebanon High March 10 at Verizon Wireless Arena.

Hanover (16-2-0 Div. I) celebrated its third consecutive championship, and fourth No. 1 finish in the five years of NHIAA girls' hockey. Lebanon ended its season 16-2-0 in league play.

Madison Hill struck for a title-game hat trick. Dewhirst delivered two goals and two assists. Tessa Hill tallied five assists.

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

February, 7, 2012
2/07/12
2:30
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Too often powerless on the power play and generally struggling to generate offense during the hockey season's first half, Hanover High tinkered with its top line.

New HampshireIf the first game with captain Peter Bensen centering Connor Gordon and Ryan Brigman was any indication, hovering-around-.500 Hanover could pose problems in Division I.

“In any sport you play, in any season, there's going to be a turning point … I think this is going to be our turning point,” Bensen said Jan. 28 after he paced the reigning state-runner-up to a commanding 5-2 road win over No. 2-ranked Manchester Memorial High at JFK Coliseum.

Perennial power Hanover owned a 4-4 record when it faced the league's only 10-win team. Losing 13 players from a year ago contributed to the club's mediocre mark.

Coach Dick Dodds felt change up front was needed.

Brigman moved from the blue line to right wing. It didn't take the long for Dodds' decision to pay off.

Hanover's senior winger buried a first-period rebound. The goal erased Memorial's early 1-0 lead, served as the first of Hanover's two power-play strikes, and set off a run of three unanswered goals.

“He created a lot of havoc in the offensive zone,” Dodds said. “It really helped. That group works well together. They had a nice game for us.”

Bensen (two goals, two assists), Gordon (goal, three assists) and Brigman (goal, two assists) factored in all five goals for the Marauders.

But Brigman's equalizer was significant for another reason: The goal was a quick response to falling behind midway through the opening frame.

Hanover trailed for a mere 3 minutes, 28 seconds.

Roles were reversed in the club's previous contest, a 3-2 home loss to Nashua North High. The Marauders twice surrendered markers within 50 seconds of tallying their goals.

“We just pointed out to our kids how important the next shift is,” Dodds said. “We worked on it in practice. So, it was encouraging to see us come back and score.”

The Marauders were oh-so-close to clinching a comeback win Feb. 1 against Concord High. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.

Hanover's three goals in the final frame erased a two-goal deficit. The club's third connection, a shorthanded goal with 73 seconds left, was offset by Concord's ability to capitalize in 5-on-3 play.

Five league games remain on the regular-season schedule for Hanover (5-5-1 Div. I).

New Hampshire's club from the Upper Valley starts the stretch with four straight road games. Defending champ Trinity High of Manchester (Feb. 11) and another bout with Concord (Feb. 15) are on the slate.

“I think that our team really thrives in a tough environment when we're under pressure,” Bensen said.

Hanover won't lack chances to prove it.

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
12:19
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The immediate goal for Pinkerton Academy's Astros is straightforward: Finish atop the regular-season standings this winter in Division I boys' hockey.

Sounds cliché, right?

New HampshireTurns out this very dangerous squad from Derry – the preseason pick to finish as rink royalty – has yet to earn a No. 1 playoff seed under nine-year coach Casey Kesselring.

“We've never finished first,” Kesselring confirmed before adding that his 2008-09 title team emerged from the bracket as the No. 4 seed.

Kesselring's club a year ago earned the No. 2 seed. But the Astros were a quarterfinals casualty, stunned at home by arch-rival Londonderry, 3-2.

Considering the talent returning on Pinkerton's roster, expectations are extremely high.

First-line wingers Zach Sanford and J.D. Dudek fuel Pinkerton's high-octane attack. Sanford, a junior, and Dudek, a sophomore, led the team in points a year ago.

Further illustrating the talent this team possesses: Freshman Devin Moore centers the top line.

There's no drop-off with the second line. Junior center Dominic Corsetto skates with classmate Connor Brady and sophomore Brendan Philippon.

Kesselring believes the trio would be the top line for most clubs in the state.

Clearly, Pinkerton's strength is potting pucks. Offensive output should provide insurance for the team's junior goaltenders. Nate Mitchell and Matt Marchman are first-year varsity stoppers.

Of course, the coach isn't the least bit worried about the lack of varsity experience his goalies possess. Nor is he concerned about the preseason bull's-eye painted on Pinkerton.

“It doesn't bother me. It gives the school recognition. It gives the kids recognition,” Kesselring said. “But they don't hand out rings in the preseason.”

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

November, 10, 2011
11/10/11
6:13
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In his 41st year at the helm of Plymouth Regional's storied football program – a span that's produced a state-record 334 wins and 18 championships – Chuck Lenahan has surely experienced it all.

New HampshireYet it was the manner in which the Bobcats won their most recent matchup that had the gruff-voiced grid coach admitting, “I'm kind of numb.”

It's understandable. Lenahan approved the call for a fourth-quarter fake punt that produced the game-winning touchdown. Plymouth celebrated a 21-14 Division IV semifinal win Nov. 5 against longtime rival Laconia High.

The scenario: Plymouth was forced to punt from its 32-yard line in a 14-all game. The game clock showed less than nine minutes remained in regulation.

Special teams coach Chris Sanborn persuaded Lenahan to fake the punt. The Bobcats desperately needed a spark. Their rushing attack, which generated two lengthy first-half scoring drives capped by Cole Brooker touchdown runs, was stifled after halftime.

Standout senior Taylor Newberry (37 carries for 205 yards) was asked to fake the punt for the first time in his career. It worked out better than even Lenahan could have expected.

Newberry gained the three yards necessary to extend the drive. He also picked up 65 more yards, cutting left-to-right across the field, dodging would-be tacklers, and ultimately celebrating a 68-yard TD run.

“We actually just set that up (in the week leading up to the semifinal). We were 50-50 on it,” Newberry said. “I guess it worked.”

Plymouth – a year removed from missing the playoffs on a three-team tiebreaker – actually plays the role of underdog in the Nov. 12 final.

The second-seeded Bobcats (9-1) travel to Manchester's Gill Stadium for a showdown with No. 1 seed Trinity High (10-0). The Bobcats were stunned at home in Week 4 by the Pioneers, allowing a pair of late-game touchdown passes in a 12-7 loss.

It snapped Plymouth's 40-game home win streak.

“Another week,” Lenahan said. “The kids wanted it bad. What the heck. We might as well take a trip to Manchester.”

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
3:58
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A year ago, underclassmen-laden Pinkerton Academy wasn't supposed to win its 10th Division I football championship since the celebrated 1985 season. But the young Astros, facing foes with far more experience, beat those odds.

New HampshireThis time around, the odds of repeating are overwhelmingly in their favor.

"Our focus doesn't change at all, even when we're not the favorites," Pinkerton head coach Brian O'Reilly said. "We simply strive for championships. That's our goal, otherwise it's not a successful year."

Quite simply, there isn't a more complete team, at present, than the one residing in Derry.

The Astros return almost everyone. Twelve of the team's 20 seniors are returning starters.

Bulldozer Kevin Davies and speedy Emmitt Smith are the focal points of Pinkerton's Wing-T offense. But there's also junior quarterback Chris St. Onge and sophomore Manny Latimore that round out the returning starting backfield.

Andrew Curran, exclusively a top-line defensive back in 2010, will reprise that role this season. But he's expected to earn touches on offense, too.

On a team stacked with superb athletes, Ryan Coombs could prove most dynamic. The 5-foot 11-inch, 178-pound senior kicks, punts, catches passes and patrols the defensive secondary.

“He's a big-game player. He can be a difference-maker. He's got some outstanding athletic ability that other kids do not have,” O'Reilly said of Coombs. “He just turned 17 for his senior year. He really doesn't come off the field.”

Linebackers Branden Rodgers, Davies and Matt Madden, last year the team's second-leading tackler as a freshman, were huge reasons the Astros excelled in red-zone defense. The linebacking corps added depth with the return of Matt St. Onge, sidelined in '10 with an ACL injury.

Understandably, the Astros were unanimously voted No. 1 in the preseason edition of the fourth-year statewide poll, a joint effort involving the New Hampshire Union Leader, WGAM-Radio and WMUR-TV.

Based on history alone, Pinkerton is the preseason pick.

Since O'Reilly's fabled Ryan Mihalko- and Joe Segreti-led 1985 team surprised everyone to win it all (the program's debut season in Division I) the Astros have always won championships in chunks.

The Astros went back-to-back in 1985-86, copped four straight crowns from 1991-94, and rattled off a three-peat from 2005-07.

But don't talk championship pep rally with O'Reilly just yet. Pinkerton's 34-year head coach knows a grid king isn't crowned in the preseason.

“We might be pegged as favorites. But we weren't pegged as favorites last year – and we won,” he said. “Our focus is 'Don't allow newspaper clippings to influence hard work.'”

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

June, 22, 2011
6/22/11
8:43
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Considering the contest's national significance and how the seven-inning bout played out, there's just one way to sum up the Division II baseball final.

It was sensational.

New HampshirePortsmouth High prevailed in a thriller – a game played in 2 hours, 8 minutes but over the course of two days – to stun Seacoast rival St. Thomas Aquinas High of Dover. The Clippers clinched a 9-6 win at the home of Double-A baseball's New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

The last title game of the NHIAA's “Super Saturday,” a June 18 quadruple-header at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, ended with No. 1 seed Portsmouth (20-0) celebrating a fourth consecutive crown and national record-extending 83rd straight win.

“What the program has accomplished and what we've gone through, and the attention (the win streak) has earned, to get to this point and not finish it with a win, that wasn't something I was prepared to deal with,” Portsmouth coach Tim Hopley said. “It was a real important game for us.”

Three storylines from the much-anticipated matchup:

Strange time to start. The game was scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m. Portsmouth ace and Northeastern-bound Keegan Taylor didn't fire the first pitch until 10:23.

The last out wasn't recorded until 12:45 Sunday morning.

STA-Portsmouth followed the Division IV final, delayed 50 minutes by thunder. Weather was just one factor contributing to the lengthy game that pushed back the main event's scheduled start time.

“We gave both teams the option of coming back (to play Sunday). It was late. But everybody preferred to get it in,” NHIAA executive director Pat Corbin said. “We had a tremendous crowd. For the kids, they'll always be able to say, 'We're the ones that played the latest game in the history of New Hampshire.'”

Dueling aces. Five summers ago, they were the Nos. 1 and 2 pitchers for Portsmouth's Little League World Series team that reached the U.S. semifinals. As the clock approached 1 a.m. Sunday, STA ace Jordan Bean and Taylor squared off in the game's key sequence.

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

May, 28, 2011
5/28/11
1:37
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Round-trippers that clear the fence at Campbell High are a rarity. They're so rare, in fact, that nobody associated with the Litchfield school's softball program remembers a single batter going yard.


Correction: Nobody remembers a single batter going yard before May 13.


New HampshireThat's when sophomore designated hitter Chelsea Caynon slugged her way to a career-defining contest. Her 3-for-4 day at the dish included three towering home runs tagged in consecutive at-bats.


“I kind of thought all of them were lucky because nobody has done it before,” Caynon of her Friday the 13th fireworks, the last of which was a walk-off that clinched a 13-1 Division III mercy win over Alton's Prospect Mountain High.


Caynon said she was mobbed by teammates after circling the bases for the third time. Her last blast, in the fifth inning, capped Campbell's 13-run outburst over three frames.


Campbell's No. 3 hitter connected in the third, fourth and fifth innings and knocked in five runs. The lasers all landed in the same spot, well beyond the left-field fence stationed 250 feet from home plate.


Coach Laurie Gatherum, in her sixth year at the helm, estimated the shots sailed 260 feet.


“When Chelsea comes up to bat, I get as far away from the third-base box as I can. She's come close to killing me. She's a dead-pull hitter,” Gatherum said. “I get as close to the out-of-play line as possible.


“I almost want to warn the third baseman to back up. If she gets a piece of the ball, it's going.”


Caynon's powerful performance actually carried into her next game. She went 1-for-3 with a homer against Hopkinton High, giving her four taters in a span of seven at-bats.


But Caynon isn't a stereotypical all-or-nothing power hitter. She closed the regular season with one strikeout in 64 plate appearances.


She also posted a .500 average (28-for-56) with eight walks, five home runs, one triple, 10 doubles, 25 runs scored and 32 RBI. Her production helped the Cougars clinch first place with a 15-1 record.


“I would say she is the best hitter that the program has ever had, as far as consistency and power,” Gatherum said.


That's saying something. Caynon is, after all, just a sophomore.


“I wasn't really trying to hit three in row,” she said. “I was just waiting for my pitch.”

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