Boston High School: Chris Childs

Jacques delivers NH 11th straight Maple Sugar win

August, 7, 2011
8/07/11
12:33
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WINDSOR, Vt. –- Some years the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl is won with size. This year it was won with speed.

The Vermont defense spent much of Saturday's game chasing New Hampshire running back Max Jacques, and didn't have much luck catching him. Jacques, who can run a sub-4.5 40-yard dash, set a Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl record by rushing for 265 yards on 26 carries in New Hampshire's 45-21 triumph.

Jacques, who scored three TDs, broke the record set by former Plymouth High School standout Mike Boyle, who ran for 206 yards in the 2004 game. Boyle went on to play at the University of New Hampshire.

“I can just say without my line I couldn't have done that,” Jacques said. “I saw yesterday in the Shrine book that the record was 206 (yards) and I told the line, 'Guys, let's go break a record. It's your record too.

“I just tried to keep my feet moving. Keep the legs pumping and when I saw daylight I took off.”

Jacques, who led Salem High School to the Division I championship as a junior, will play at Marist College in the fall. He gained 178 yards on 16 carries in the first half.

“He's just outstanding,” Vermont coach Jim Provost said. “Every time he touched the ball my heart was in my throat – for good reason. We just couldn't get our hands around him. He knows how to follow his blocks and when you have a line like that to run behind, that's what happens.”

It was the 11th consecutive victory for New Hampshire, which now holds a 43-13-2 edge in the series.

Vermont was within seven, 21-14, at halftime, but New Hampshire took control by scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter.

The first second-half TD came on a 66-yard pass from Winnacunnet quarterback Steve Cronan to Bishop Guertin running back Mike Kelly on New Hampshire's opening drive in the quarter. Kelly will play at UNH this season.

Following a Micah Morton interception, Timberlane's Nick Lawrence capped a 12-play, 87-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run. Laconia's Kyle Behan made the the fifth of his six point-after kicks to make it 35-14 with 4:07 left in the quarter.

Jacques followed with a 43-yard touchdown run –- his third of the game –- on New Hampshire's next possession.

“Can't say enough good things about Max,” New Hampshire coach Chris Childs said. “At halftime the kids said, 'Let's pound the rock, coach.' That's what our attitude was in the second half. You could see late in the third quarter that their defensive linemen were starting to hang their heads. They were starting to get worn down.”

Vermont quarterback Christian McCormick (Rice Memorial) completed 22 of 48 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted four times. Vermont, which took a 7-0 lead on the game's opening possession, ran the ball six times for 18 yards.

Vermont wide receiver Troy Davine caught seven passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Kareem Hines (South Burlington) scored Vermont's other TD on a 64-yard catch.

Lawrence scored New Hampshire's other TD on a 3-yard run with 30 seconds left in the first quarter. New Hampshire led 21-7 at that point.

Cronan rushed for 69 yards on five carries, and completed three of six pass attempts for 92 yards.

Jacques set the rushing record with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. His three touchdowns tied a Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl record held by seven other players.

Jacques also holds the Salem High School record for career rushing yardage (4,559).

New Hampshire also set the record for team rushing yardage (441).

“At halftime I thought we were in the game,” Provost said. “Then we didn't do the one thing we said we needed to do, and that's stop them on their first drive (in the second half).”

“I hoped that we could have controlled the ball by having a little bit more of a possession-type of game, so we could get more first downs, tire the defense out and keep 22 (Jacques) on the sideline.”

NH going for 11 straight in Maple Sugar Bowl

August, 6, 2011
8/06/11
5:26
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MERIDEN, N.H. -- New Hampshire will enter Saturday's 58th Annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl in a familiar role: as the heavy favorite.

Vermont hasn't beaten New Hampshire since 2000, and Vermont's offense and defense can share the blame for the current 10-game losing streak. New Hampshire's last 10 victories have come by an average score of 32-10.

Containing New Hampshire's running game may be the key to an upset Saturday. New Hampshire has completed two passes in the last two years – one TD pass in each game – but has won those games 40-6 (2009) and 34-20 (2010).

“Generally speaking, if we can force them to throw the ball that's a win for us,” Vermont coach Jim Provost (Champlain Valley Union) said. “Absolutely, I think New Hampshire is a run-oriented offense. If we can contain their running game that's gonna bode well for us.

“The key for us defensively against what we anticipate seeing from New Hampshire is to be disciplined in our assignments. We really need to play team defense and try to force some turnovers. Make them uncomfortable as early as possible.”

Making the New Hampshire offense uncomfortable is coach speak for making New Hampshire pass the football. New Hampshire has attempted nine passes in the last two years and although two were good for touchdowns, two others were intercepted.

New Hampshire will run the Wing-T offense, and Winnacunnet's Steve Cronan has been named the team's starting quarterback.

“I think it's gonna be awfully tough to completely shut them down,” Provost said. “The only way we're gonna be able to do that is to keep their offense on the sideline. We gotta control the ball.”

Saturday's game will be played at Windsor (Vt.) High School. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

New Hampshire has won 27 of the last 30 games and leads the series 42-13-2.

New Hampshire has three running backs on its roster who will play Division I (FCS) football this fall: Bishop Guertin's Mike Kelley (UNH), Salem's Max Jacques (Marist) and Lebanon's Cody Patch (Dartmouth). Patch suffered cracked ribs during practice at Kimball Union Academy, but has been cleared to play.

“I think running back is our deepest position,” New Hampshire coach Chris Childs (Lebanon) said. “We've got three Division I kids back there. We'll just have to see how Cody feels.”

Provost tried to run the ball against New Hampshire when he was Vermont's head coach in the 1990 Shrine Game. New Hampshire prevailed 35-0 that year.

Vermont will run a spread offense Saturday. Among Vermont's key weapons will be Rice Memorial quarterback Christian McCormick and Hartford fullback Trevor Wood. McCormick, Vermont's Gatorade Player of the Year, completed 262 passes for 2,619 yards and 37 touchdowns last fall, when he guided Rice to the Division II championship. He was intercepted three times.

“I really think the key for us is getting pressure on the quarterback,” Childs said. “We expect them to throw the ball all over the place and we can't let him sit back there and pick us apart. From what I've been told he can really throw the ball.”

Proceeds from the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl benefit the Shrine Hospitals in Boston, Montreal and Springfield, Mass.

“We're the underdog obviously,” McCormick said. “We haven't won in 10 years, but we're a new team and they're a new team. It's not like it's the same teams playing every year, so as a team we think we're in a good enough position to try and win. The confidence is there.”

New England Roundup: Vermont

August, 2, 2011
8/02/11
2:06
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Rice Memorial quarterback Christian McCormick knows all about Vermont's drought in the annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl.

VermontHe knows Vermont hasn't posted a victory since 2000, and that only one of New Hampshire's 10 victories since then has come by fewer than 14 points (New Hampshire won 23-20 in 2007).

He also knows that just about everybody is picking New Hampshire to win again when the teams meet Saturday (2:30 p.m. kickoff) at Windsor High School. Vermont trails in the series 42-13-2.

“We're the underdog obviously,” McCormick said. “We haven't won in 10 years, but we're a new team and they're a new team. It's not like it's the same teams playing every year, so as a team we think we're in a good enough position to try and win. The confidence is there.”

Vermont will rely heavily on McCormick, Vermont's Gatorade Player of the Year. He completed 262 passes for 2,619 yards and 37 touchdowns last fall, when he guided Rice to the Division II championship. He was intercepted three times.

Vermont is expected to use primarily an air attack on Saturday. That's the offensive strategy that produced a 47-40 triumph in 2000. Since then, however, Vermont has failed to score more than seven points in the game six times and has been shut out twice. The average score of New Hampshire's last 10 victories has been 32-10.

“They're a little bigger obviously, but we're gonna use what we have,”McCormick said.

What Vermont has is a bunch of good receivers for McCormick to throw to, and a big back in Hartford's Trevor Wood.

“We're expecting them to throw the ball all over the place,” New Hampshire coach Chris Childs (Lebanon) said.

It seems likely that Vermont will have to score a lot to win, but the key to a Vermont victory may be how well the Vermont defense performs. New Hampshire has scored at least 34 points in six of the last 10 games.

“The key for us defensively against what we anticipate seeing from New Hampshire is to be disciplined in our assignments,” Vermont coach Jim Provost (Champlain Valley Union) said. “We really need to play team defense and try to force some turnovers. Make them uncomfortable as early as possible.”

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New England Roundup: Vermont

July, 14, 2011
7/14/11
2:15
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Practice for this year’s Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl won’t begin until July 28, but what was already a steep climb for Vermont has become even steeper.

Vermont, which hasn’t beaten New Hampshire in the all-star football game since 2000, recently had two players opt out of the game: wide receiver Mike Triller (Rutland) and wide receiver Mike DiMambro (Essex).

VermontTriller won’t participate because he’s scheduled to play baseball at Clemson next season, and DiMambro accepted a track and field scholarship from the University of Rhode Island.

“I guess [DiMambro] was getting a little bit of heat [from Rhode Island] about playing in the game,” Vermont coach Jim Provost said. “We’d like to have both of them, but we had replacements within half an hour, so we’re at 36 strong.”

DiMambro caught 39 passes for 609 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. His 19 career TD receptions rank second in school history. Ben Price (St. Johnsbury) has replaced DiMambro on the Vermont roster.

Triller caught 37 passes for 630 yards last fall. Lance Elithorpe (Mount Anthony) has replaced Triller.

This year’s game will be played Aug. 6 at Macleay-Royce Field in Windsor, Vt. New Hampshire stretched its winning streak to 10 games by posting a 34-20 victory last summer and leads the series 42-13-2.

Provost served as the head coach at Rice Memorial for 14 seasons, and completed his third season at Champlain Valley Union last fall. His Redhawks lost in the 2009 Division II championship game, and reached the Division II semifinals in 2010.

Provost also served as Vermont's head coach for the 1990 Shrine Game. New Hampshire posted a 35-0 victory that year.

“I’ve tried to run the ball against them and that didn’t work,” Provost said. “Whatever the plan is it boils down to mistakes and turnovers. It would help if we could find a way to keep New Hampshire from scoring a lot of points.

“I don’t see us playing a lot of kids two ways, but we do have a couple kids we’d like to see on both sides of the ball at some points.”

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Tags:

Football, Vermont, Lacrosse, New England Roundup, Ice Hockey, Softball, Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, Mount Abraham, U-32, Spaulding, Brattleboro, Montpelier, Hartford (Vt.), Colchester, Mount Anthony, South Burlington, Essex (Vt.), Mike DiMambro, Rutland, Middlebury, Champlain Valley Union, Jim Provost, Rice Memorial, Burlington (Vt.), BFA-St. Albans, Lebanon, Woodstock, Ashley McDonald, Sarah Reid, Lance Elithorpe, Chris Childs, Mariah Lesure, Mike Triller, Ben Price, Lamoille, Burr and Burton, Jamie Panton, Brooke Panton, Eric Palmer, Josh Cassarino, Jesse Burke, St. Johnsbury, Katie Ritter, Oxbow, Lyndon, Whitney Ladd, Poultney, Chelsea (Vt.), Nathaniel Wells, Kim Liberty, Sawyer DeVries, Michelle Upham, Alyssa Amos, Sara Till, Morgan Tullar, Tory Chouinard, Lawrence Dee, Nick Schmell, Abel Warden, Sam Polis, Jake Marston, Travis Elliot-Knaggs, Mike Maloney, Owen Walsh, David Barrett, Bea Teasdale, Jon Sullivan, Jeff Lawler, Marty Harrison, Hayden Hoelscher, Cavan Little, Tyler Jarvis, Lucas Zelazny, Dillon Robinson, Connor DeVarney, Marty DiVenuti, David Sartorelli, Harry Foreman, Noel Kerr, Brendon Malone, Deagan Goodman, Tim Bryan, Martin Chandler, James Bean, Mike Flynn, Nathan Smith, Mack Yandow, Hans Halvorsen, Ben Nussbaum, Kyle Mackenzie, Myles McGowan, Mitch Grimmer, Jake Jansen, Derrick McGrath, Kyle Paganelli, Max O'Leary, Dan Bell, Kate Kurchena, Halley Fisher, Olivia Steimke, Chrissy Ritter, Lis Kelley, Amanda Kinneston, Anne-Marie Farmer, Allie Flaherty, Melissa Gfeller, Grace Wright, Amber Legacy, Linnae O'Neil, Emma Oliver, Paige Levesque, Molly Higgins, Mattea Ringey, Annie Barker, Madison Davis, Mercedes Godin, Kaleigh Heath, Kate Raszka, Brandi Whittemore, Tess Bugbee, Erin LeBlanc, Dana Nelson, Maria Ploof, Ashlyn Raymond, Jasmine Braman, Kasey Flynn, Reilly Johnson, Meghan Hart, Willow Smith, McKenzie Garone, Kate Murphy, Aria Robinson, Brooke Sabol, Casey Snyder, Emma Cummings, Paxton Boyer, Emily Speck, Piper Perrone, Haleigh Carbone, Green Mountain Valley, Susan Campbell, Chelsea Stanclift, Machaela O'Brien, Katy Ranaldo, Christine Skeffington, Maya Tracey, Felicia Neuhof, Rory Halligan, Kate Montague, Amanda Bowen, Mariah Palmer, Leilani King, BFAS-St. Albans, Kate Dillon, Courtney Sanford, Taylor Kresconko, Allison Hayes, Taylor Kerylow, Ashley Watson, Rainey Paquette, Hannah Ruede, Jillian Emery

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
5:53
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MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Manchester High School West's Valentine's Day victory made basketball coach Nick Moutsioulis wish his wallet could support a team trip to the Magic Kingdom.

"If I could pay for every one of the girls to go, I'd do it in a heartbeat," said Moutsioulis, his reference to Disney World and the visit made by the Super Bowl MVP after winning the biggest of games.

New HampshireYou see, West entered its Feb. 14 girls' hoop contest lugging a 77-game losing streak that dated to the 2007-08 season opener. But after three consecutive winless campaigns, and another 14 straight losses this winter, the Blue Knights stopped the frustration-filled skid with a 38-33 Division II road win at Pelham High.

"I'm still processing it. I don't even know how to react to a win," said 5-foot 8-inch forward Emily Colon, one of three seniors on West's varsity team that features just eight active players.

West's low participation in athletics isn't limited to girls' hoop. The loss of Bedford student-athletes to the opening of Bedford High in 2007 has affected most sports programs at the school.

The exodus that eventually shrunk West's population from 2,000-plus students to roughly 1,100, took place over several years. But West's ability to compete in most sports quickly declined.

Colon and classmate Brooke Brown were freshman call-ups to the varsity in 2007-08, West's first winless campaign. Routinely losing was a foreign feeling to these stars of the streak-snapping win; as ninth-graders they led their freshman team to a 12-4 record.

"We tried not to think about the negative," said Brown, a 5-foot-11 center, noting the team became the punchline to jokes that spread throughout the school.

Over time, however, staying positive proved tough. One winless season grew into two, which reached three last winter.

But worse than the lopsided losses -- and jokes generated by them -- was the sinking feeling caused by looking into the stands during home games.

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Tags:

Basketball, New Hampshire, New England Roundup, Plymouth Regional (N.H.), Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, Hanover (N.H.), Salem (N.H.), Nashua North, Bedford (N.H.), Jeff LaCoste, Trinity (N.H.), Concord (N.H.), Steve Cuipa, Bishop Guertin (N.H.), Max Jacques, Eric Muite, Steve Cronan, Pinkerton (N.H.), Cody Patch, Ryan Moran, Luke Somers, Mike Mazzola, Chris Childs, Doug Gregory, Newport (N.H.), David Madol, Barry Chooljian, Zach Bridson, Matt Morris, Nate Lawrence, Ben Tammany, St. Thomas Aquinas (N.H.), David Owens, Mike Kelly, Milford (N.H.), Dimitri Floras, Matt Sullivan, Manchester West (N.H.), Nick Moutsioulis, Pelham (N.H.), Emily Colon, Brooke Brown, Sarah Soucy, Lebanon (N.H.), Windsor (Vt.), Kimball Union (N.H.), Taylor Russell, Keene (N.H.), Zach Hunnewell, Joel Pacheco, Joe DiPalma, C.J. Woods, Matt Ammann, Tyler Baulier, Merrimack (N.H.), Nick Corbett, Dover (N.H.), Winnacunnet (N.H.), Kyle Wilson, John Forte, Max Goudreau, Nick Hession, Souhegan (N.H.), Brian Liamos, Hollis/Brookline (N.H.), Sam McClain, Brendan McKenna, Kyle Behan, Laconia (N.H.), Sam Carney, Jeff Gratiano, John Doran Logsdon, Jonathan Roth, Thomas Baxter, Kearsarge (N.H.), Zachary Knight, Stevens (N.H.), Robert Ramirez, Brendan Demo, Gilford (N.H.), Jacob Ford, Franklin (N.H.), Josh Stout, David Boisvert, Todd Bircher, Al Miclovic, Brandon Lahaye, Gary Mayo, David Pfeifer, Oyster River (N.H.), Alex Jones, Joe Lane, Ellie Thompson, Jahmar Gathright, Andre Williams, Molly McCabe, Monadnock Regional (N.H.), Gubby Naronha, Cathly Leibowitz, Timberlane Regional (N.H.), Jake Kappler, Andrew Tanner, Shane Tremblay, Londonderry (N.H.), Dan Roger, Tanner Burke, Dominic Farrar, Tyler Elworth, Manchester Memorial (N.H.), Dave Garcia, Goffstown (N.H.), Zach Schofield, Mike Sarette, Peter Shea, Mal Shea, Caleb Cejka, Zach MacPherson, Casey Quinn, Ryan Cohen, Mike Ponchak, Mike Sullivan, Jeremy Nault, Randy Cleary, Tyler Dustin, Dakota Simula, John Stark Regional (N.H.), Josh Medeiros, Warren Greenhalgh, Carleton Kleinschrodt, White Mountains Regional (N.H.), Windham (N.H.), Tyler Siverhus, Gage Fenton, Bow (N.H.), Pete LaRiviere, John Lefebvre, Jeff Cole, Ryan Manasian, Jonathan Scheidegger, Sanborn Regional (N.H.), Eddie O'Malley, Newfound Regional (N.H.), Dan Mak, Campbell (N.H.), Olivia Bogaczyk, Courtney Thompson, Alex Halle, Abby Clark, Spaulding (N.H.), Liz Rowan, Cody Bond, Colton Castonguay, Madison Goldstein, Josh Paige, Chris Moquin, James Montgomery, Josh Morgan, Mascenic Regional (N.H.), Pittsburg (N.H.), Colebrook (N.H.)

New England Roundup: Vermont

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
2:00
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Champlain Valley Union football coach Jim Provost likes what he sees when he looks at the Vermont roster for this summer’s Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl.

VermontProvost, who will coach Vermont in the all-star game against New Hampshire, sent out invitations to 36 players and all 36 committed to play in the contest. Vermont wasn’t able to put its best team on the field last year, when Essex quarterback Max Librizzi – the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year  declined to participate while he prepared to begin his college career at Holy Cross.

“We were 36 for 36,” Provost said. “I was very happy about that. I like our depth at the receiver position. We’re hoping that will be a position of strength for us. We like the backs we took too.”

Rice quarterback Christian McCormick and Hartford running back Trevor Wood are among the players on the Vermont roster, which was announced last Friday. McCormick, who guided Rice to last year’s Division II state championship, was named the 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year. Wood helped Hartford win the Division I state title.

“Picking the linemen was the toughest part,” Provost said. “New Hampshire has more kids to pick from, so hopefully our depth will be as good as their depth. I think our starters have been comparable to their starters the last few years. It always comes down to that second group.”

New Hampshire extended its winning streak to 10 games when it posted a 34-20 victory over Vermont last year. New Hampshire leads the all-time series 42-13-2.

This year’s game will be played Aug. 6 at Windsor High School.

This is the second time Provost has served as Vermont’s head coach. He was also Vermont’s head coach for the 1990 game. New Hampshire prevailed 35-0 that year.

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New England Roundup: Vermont

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
1:40
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It’s been a long time since a Vermont football team beat New Hampshire in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, and Champlain Valley Union coach Jim Provost is hoping that drought will end this summer.

VermontProvost has been named Vermont’s head coach for the 2011 Shrine Game, which will be played Aug. 6 at Macleay-Royce Field in Windsor, Vt. New Hampshire stretched its winning streak to 10 games by posting a 34-20 victory last summer.

“The timing has a lot to do with it staff-wise,” Provost said when asked why he applied for the coaching position. “My staff will all be CVU coaches. Plus sometimes you just get the itch.”

Provost served as the head coach at Rice Memorial for 14 seasons, and recently completed his third season at CVU. His Redhawks lost in the 2009 Division II championship game, and reached the Division II semifinals last fall.

Provost also served as Vermont’s head coach for the 1990 Shrine Game. New Hampshire posted a 35-0 victory that year.

Lebanon coach Chris Childs was named New Hampshire’s head coach for next year’s game. Childs guided Lebanon to an unbeaten season and the Division IV state championship last fall.

New Hampshire leads the series 42-13-2.

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
1:30
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Concord High caught a few teams by surprise during its postseason run to the Division I boys' hockey championship a year ago.

New Hampshire"We certainly got hot in the tournament," said Concord coach Duncan Walsh, recalling his team's run to the title as the No. 4 seed. "I don't think anyone thought Concord was going to win it."

The Crimson Tide's rink rivals won't be fooled this time around. The Tide is the preseason team to beat.

"You've got to start with Concord. They've got a lot of guys back," said Pinkerton Academy of Derry coach Casey Kesselring, whose Astros, as defending champs last season, were ousted in a wide open semifinal round that also featured Nashua's Bishop Guertin and Exeter. "They lost a key piece in (Division I Player of the Year) Kevin Marceau. But they have the Lacasse brothers back."

Pat Lacasse is Concord's top returning playmaker. Nick Lacasse leads a veteran defensive group. The twin brothers are among 16 of 20 returning players from the program's first title team since 1999.

"Goals are going to come harder than last year," Walsh said. "Last year, we had a dominant first line. There weren’t many games they didn’t get two or three goals. I don’t think we’ll get four or five goals (per game), but we might get two or three."

Concord's first line projects to be Pat Lacasse, the lone returning first-liner from last season, and Chris Acres and Pat Cannon. It's on the other end of the ice where the Tide has fewer question marks.

Nick Lacasse, Taylor Lebell and Dustin Walsh earned the bulk of ice time along the blue line during the 2009-10 campaign. Goaltender Brendan Garrett is also back from the surprise squad that ousted top-seeded BG, 4-3, in the semifinals and blanked No. 3 seed Exeter, 1-0, in the final.

"In my opinion, it's Concord, Hanover, Pinkerton and Bishop Guertin. Those are the usual suspects," Exeter coach Jim Tufts said. "But Concord is the defending champ. Their starting goalie is back, and those twins are really good."

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

November, 24, 2010
11/24/10
4:08
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On the eve of coaching Pinkerton Academy to its 10th Division I football championship in his 33rd year at the helm, Brian O'Reilly had a conversation that triggered some great gridiron memories.

New Hampshire“The phone call came to me at my house from Ryan Mihalko, down in North Carolina, wishing us good luck,” O'Reilly said on Nov. 20, after his statewide No. 1 Astros shut down Nashua North, 14-7, in front of 2,500 wind-chilled fans at Memorial Field. “It was like, 'There's my 1985 guy who won the national championship at Notre Dame in '88.'

Mihalko, along with Joe Segreti, also led Pinkerton's legendary '85 team to the program's first title under O'Reilly. The group is among the four greatest single-season teams of New Hampshire's 38-year schoolboy football playoff era.

It's arguably the top team of the quartet, too. O'Reilly's '85 team is held in such high historical regard because, just one year earlier, it was a Division II program.

And 25 years after Mihalko helped Pinkerton manhandle the competition en route to a surprise undefeated season, O'Reilly's Astros reached rarefied air.

“We've had a lot of great players over the years. We don't do it with smoke and mirrors here,” said O'Reilly, who improved to 10-2 in Division I title games (10-3 overall) and bumped his career record to 240-98. “We have 3,400 kids (at Pinkerton), although that's recent. We didn't have that back in the old days.

“We are a large school. We have a lot of athletes. We have great feeder programs. We do it with players, and I've had great, great players over the years,” he added, specifically naming Mihalko, Segreti and early '90s star Matt Jordan, a national champion at UMass. “All those championships are a testament to all those players that we've had.”

O'Reilly's 10th title team didn't have individual stars. But the collection of talent, particularly on defense, powered Pinkerton (10-2 overall, 9-1 Div. I) to its first crown since 2007.

Co-captains Luke Somers and Mike Mazzola, among just 10 seniors listed on this year's roster, paced a defense that delivered in crucial spots.

Certainly capable of scoring points, these Astros won by preventing them. They allowed an average of 16.5 points to league foes. The average dropped to 14.8 points after their lone league loss, a 33-7 drubbing in Week 3 by the very Titans they tackled for the title.

In the semifinals, Pinkerton held defending champion Salem, the league's high-scoring team (413 regular-season points), to a TD in each half. It resulted in a 21-14 win, decided on Emmitt Smith's 12-yard run with 21 seconds remaining in regulation.

The bend-but-don't-break defense sure delivered in the championship game. Three times in the second half, including its last two possessions, North was stopped cold in the red zone.

Linebacker Kevin Davies, whose game-high 94 rushing yards and TD were critical, deflected a fourth-down pass attempt at his team's 4-yard line. The play ended North's second-to-last drive. Somers and cornerback Ryan Coombs made key plays in the final minute to keep the Titans out of the end zone.

“We've had a lot of experience stopping (offenses) on the goal line,” said Mazzola, a running back and defensive end whose 15-yard TD with 7-plus minutes to play erased Pinkerton's 7-6 title-game deficit. “We take pride in that. We like to dig deep and we don't want to give up.”

PERCHED ON TOP
Bishop Guertin's Cardinals are again a three-pete champion in Division II.

The Nashua program survived a staggering number of injuries throughout the season to reach its 10th championship game in 14 years. It also claimed its sixth title in seven seasons with a 14-13 comeback win over Winnacunnet of Hampton at Stellos Stadium on Nov. 20.

“This was probably the most challenging team I've coached since '99,” BG head coach Tony Johnson said in reference to the season-long injury bug that ravaged his roster.

Thirty-four players suffered injuries this season, ranging from minor to season-ending. But BG (10-2, 9-1 Div. II) overcame the many changes in personnel.

The defense – anchored by linebacker Jim Kemos – forced a critical late-game turnover in each playoff game. Jim Carver recovered a fourth-quarter fumble against Keene and returned it 30 yards for the game-winning score. The play erased a one-point deficit in BG's 28-21 semifinal win.

Brody Smith pulled down an interception inside BG's 10-yard line in the final minute of the title game. It ended Winnacunnet's potential championship-winning drive and preserved the clutch TD connection between quarterback Steve Cuipa and Nick Pyzocha.

“We had two common denominators through the whole season, one on offense and one on defense,” Johnson said. “'Coop' (Cuipa) on offense, Kemos on defense. Everything else, we were moving parts.”

SUPERB UNDER PRESSURE

Souhegan celebrated a Division III three-peat on Nov. 20. The Amherst squad – trailing by five points late in the fourth quarter – needed an 85-yard drive to do it.

Known for quick strikes through the air, Souhegan (11-1, 10-0 Div. III) orchestrated an uncharacteristic 14-play march. Senior signal-caller Mike Luks capped the drive with a 3-yard run and Denny Desserault added the two-point conversion that lifted the host Sabers past Portsmouth, 24-21.

“There was a lot of drama in the drive. We did it in a pressure-packed situation,” Souhegan head coach Mike Beliveau said. “The best part is we left (Portsmouth's) high-powered offense only 51 seconds to counter.”

Luks completed 31 of a program-record 54 pass attempts for 305 yards and two TDs. But Dessereault and Matt Schagrin made season-saving plays that sustained the drive.

Dessereault pounced on a loose ball that Souhegan fumbled forward after Luks completed a pass to midfield. Schagrin converted a critical third-down pass by launching himself horizontal to the turf.

“The thing about this year's group of seniors, and there are 20 on the team, is they believe they're never out of a game,” Beliveau said. “That's been their M.O. since they were in youth football.”

SECOND-HALF SURGE

The boys from New Hampshire's Upper Valley reached the mountaintop for the first time.

Twenty-four unanswered points erased a 14-point deficit and earned Division IV Lebanon (11-0) its first NHIAA football crown on Nov. 13. The Raiders topped Trinity of Manchester, 24-14.

Star senior Cody Patch scored Lebanon's second and third touchdowns in the second half. Patch's key runs were sandwiched between Chris Barker's short-yardage scores in the second quarter and Justin Judd's fourth-quarter field goal.

Mark Davidson delivered the big blow. The lineman blocked Trinity's third-quarter punt that set up Lebanon's go-ahead score.

“They never give up,” Lebanon head coach Chris Childs told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “They kept plugging along and fighting adversity. That second half was just phenomenal.”

STORYBOOK SEND-OFF
Kearsarge Regional of North Sutton completed an undefeated Division V season on Nov. 13. The Cougars doubled up Dover's St. Thomas Aquinas, 12-6.

The six-point decision earned Kearsarge its first football championship. It also proved the perfect goodbye gift for retiring head coach Dennis Hoffman, who started the program in 1994.

“It's just unbelievable,” Hoffman told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “To be (11-0) in my last season, it just doesn't get any better. What a story.”

Doug Gregory was the difference on offense. Kearsarge's quarterback cracked the 100-yard rushing mark, which included 10- and 7-yard TD runs. His second score snapped a 6-all tie early in the final frame.

BACK ON TOP

Division VI Newport ended its title drought on Nov. 13. The second-seeded Tigers gutted top-seeded Gilford, 35-0, in the championship round.

The championship win was Newport's first since claiming the Division IV crown in 1995.

Newport (9-2) offered a steady diet of Harrison Wade, whose 134 rushing yards and three TDs helped avenge a 40-20 regular-season loss to the Golden Eagles two weeks earlier.

3-FOR-3

Manchester Central's boys won the team title at the New England Cross Country Championships. The trend that started with wins at the Division I meet and Meet of Champions concluded with another solid effort at Thetford (Vt.) Academy on Nov. 13.

Sam Gagnon led the Little Green. He placed 18th overall with a time of 17-minutes, 15.9 seconds. Dylan Lafond (32nd, 17:31.1), Matt Becker (45th, 17:42.8), Zach Chabot (72nd, 18:06.4) and Max Tucker (96th, 18:20.4) also scored points for the winning squad.

DIAMOND NOTES

Keep tabs on Salem seniors Nick Poore and Josh Treff after they graduate. Both will play Division I college baseball.

Poore, a 5-foot 11-inch, 170-pound left-handed pitcher, signed his Letter of Intent to join Boston College. Treff, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound catcher, signed with Northeastern.

Last season, Poore went 8-2 with 1.23 ERA. In 62 2/3 innings pitched, he struck out 90 batters. Seven of his 11 appearances were complete-game efforts. Six times he amassed double-digit strikeouts.

“Nick put himself with an elite group of pitchers that have come through New Hampshire,” Salem head baseball coach Dan Keleher said. “He earned the respect of BC before his junior year started, and then went out and backed it up. The two playoff games against Exeter and (Nashua) North he was dominating, winning both games 2-1.”

Treff last spring hit .378 (28-for-74) with four homers and 16 RBI. He also worked 10 walks and scored 23 runs. He hit safely in 19 of Salem's 23 games. Eight times he recorded multiple hits.

“Josh came into his junior year needing to improve his offensive production; he was already the best defensive catcher in the state,” Keleher said. “He came through to lead the Salem offense, highlighted by his walk-off home run against Timberlane in the (Class L) quarterfinals.”

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

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