Boston High School: Exeter

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

October, 15, 2012
10/15/12
7:41
PM ET
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, 8, 2012
6/08/12
1:46
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Bishop Guertin High's wealth of talent, particularly on defense, is best illustrated by this fact related to the 2012 NHIAA Division I final:

New HampshireMinus one of their best close defenders the Nashua powerhouse in boys' lacrosse still clinched a championship three-peat.

Kyle Karaska, a University of Massachusetts recruit, broke his hand in the state semifinals. But given the depth at the position, BG still broke the spirits of Hanover High's Marauders with a 10-5 title-clinching win June 6.

The final score doesn't do BG justice, either. This contest, played at Bedford High, was never in question.

“I thought we outplayed them better than 4-0. But that's been the story of our season,” said BG coach Chris Cameron, referencing the halftime score and his club's ability to dominate play despite what the scoreboard suggested. “We were just so good defensively.”

UMass commit Bob Fahey, the coaches' association pick as defensive player of the year, spearheaded yet another dominant defensive performance. The state's No. 1-ranked club finished 14-1 in-state, and 18-3 overall.

The out-of-state setbacks were by a combined two goals. Guertin lost to La Salle Academy (R.I.), 7-6, and nationally ranked Duxbury (Mass.) High, 6-5.

The Cards also avenged their only in-state loss. After thumping Hanover, 15-3, in the season-opener, Cameron's boys were stunned 10 days later by the same team, 14-9.

“After our (April 20) performance up in Hanover, I thought, 'Maybe they're just better than us,'” Cameron said. “But I could tell right away (in the final) that our kids were ready to play.”

Fahey said he and his teammates “loved our matchups” for the title game. New Hampshire's top close defender took away attackman Christian Johansen.

Long-stick midfielder Brody Smith stayed glued to the other half of Hanover's top scoring tandem, midfielder and Michigan recruit Christian Wolter.

Johansen and Wolter, the sparks to Hanover's up-tempo game, did not score in the season-opening loss. They struck for seven goals and an assist in the win.

“We wanted to slow them in transition,” said Fahey, well aware Hanover's snipers combined for one goal in the rubber match.

R.I.T.-bound Jay Krzyston and Karaska's replacement, Endicott commit Sean Fenn, completed BG's dominant defensive unit. They helped take away the middle and force shooters to fire from the perimeter.

Goaltender and Harvard recruit Colin Delea (eight saves) took a shutout deep into the third quarter, which ended with BG boasting a 10-2 lead.

That's because Blake Boudreau owned the faceoff X after halftime.

BG's junior midfielder won 8 of 9 third-quarter faceoffs. It translated to lengthy possessions and a back-breaking 6-2 frame.

The fourth quarter? It was merely a formality.

Appearing in its eighth straight Division I final, BG became the first program since Pinkerton Academy of Derry (1999-2002) to celebrate a three-peat.

The Cards clinched their fifth crown since emerging on the scene as a surprise winner in 2005.

“They like to push in transition. But, 6-on-6, that's not their game,” Cameron said of the Marauders. “That took them out of their game – and (forced them) to play from behind.”

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

October, 13, 2011
10/13/11
8:39
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The Little Green cross country machine didn't take long to hit high gear.

New HampshireBoth the boys' and girls' teams for Manchester Central High, fresh off last year's NHIAA championship campaigns, served notice in the season-opening race Oct. 11 that they're still the squads to beat.

Dylan Lafond led the boys and Elizabeth Conway paced the girls as Central swept the Manchester City Championship at Derryfield Park.

“This race was the first step (in the championship season),” Lafond told the New Hampshire Union Leader after posting the lone sub-17-minute time of 16 minutes, 55.6 seconds. “Our goal is to win states, and if we make New Englands, even better.”

Central's boys secured the top three finishes on the 3.1-mile course. Sean Brown and Matt Becker finished second and third, respectively, with times of 17:06.5 and 17:11.2.

Those times helped the Little Green record 26 team points. Manchester Memorial High's Adam Vargas (17:18.1) finished fourth. The Crusaders placed second with 40 points, followed by Manchester West High (70) and Trinity High (74).

Central's girls were equally dominant. Elizabeth Conway had a lot to do with it.

Conway crossed the finish line in 18:54.7. Teammate Laurel Gagnon (20:03.8) finished second – exactly 1:09.1 after Conway. Megan Brockett clinched third with a time of 20:48.5.

Kaitlin George-Blay led the Crusaders. Her time of 21:09 was good for fourth place.

Gang Green scored 20 team points to distance itself from Memorial (56), Trinity (68) and West (102).

“It was scorching on those hills,” Conway told the Union Leader. “Our team is looking pretty strong, though we do have a couple of girls fighting injuries.”

The division championships take place Oct. 29. Central certainly seems posed to, yet again, dominate Division I.

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

April, 13, 2011
4/13/11
2:48
PM ET
There was a time when, before the season's first face-off, predicting the champion in Granite State boys' lacrosse was a pointless exercise.

New HampshireEven in the preseason, Pinkerton Academy always had the crown locked up.

The Derry program's rich lacrosse history dates back decades, well before the NHIAA sanctioned the sport in 1994.

Coach Brian O'Reilly – who began his 30th season April 12 with a 400-122 career record – led his Astros to the first four NHIAA titles from 1994-97. O'Reilly & Co. won eight of the first nine championships through the 2002 campaign.

But in the eight seasons since that time, the Astros have won just one title (2006). They last played for the Division I championship in 2008.

“We need to get back to where we were. That's been taken from us the last several years in lacrosse,” O'Reilly said. “We're not the defending champions. We haven't been the defending champions in a while.”

Yet the Astros are this spring's preseason favorite. They narrowly edge Nashua's Bishop Guertin High, the defending champ that's appeared in six consecutive league finals and won three titles since 2005.

It's unknown whether the Cardinals consider their preseason position a slight. But this much is clear: Depth in Division I is lacking this spring. Pinkerton and BG are the runaway favorites to clash for the championship in June.

“I doubt anybody is talking about us as a top team right now, which is fine by us. It gives us a little more incentive to work hard and be there at the end of the year,” said Exeter High coach Gerry Holly, whose reigning runner-up Blue Hawks rank behind Hanover High, the third-best club exiting the preseason.

Several teams, starting with Exeter, were senior-laden a year ago. Pinkerton was an exception. They boast experience, roster depth, speed, toughness and, perhaps most important, balance.

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

January, 1, 2011
1/01/11
2:27
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You can't ring in the New Year without a countdown.

New HampshireIn the spirit of the time-honored Dec. 31 tradition – counting down the final 10 ticks of the calendar year – here are the top items this reporter contributed to ESPNBoston.com High Schools since its launch in August 2010:

10. The 6-0-3 sets record. New Hampshire extended its win streak in the annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl to a series-record 10 games.

The Granite State's recent high school graduates topped Vermont in the 57th all-star football game, played at Windsor (Vt.) High's MacLeay-Royce Field, in early August, 34-20. The previous record for longest win streak was a nine-gamer set by New Hampshire from 1989-97.

New Hampshire's 14-point win makes it sound like the game was somewhat competitive. Guess again.

Despite committing seven turnovers, including four in the first quarter, and amassing 165 yards on 18 penalties, New Hampshire never trailed. The 2010 team did, however, twice lead by 20 points and ultimately improved the state's all-time record in the series to 42-13-2.

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