Boston High School: Exeter (N.H.)

Exeter (N.H.) senior offensive/defensive lineman Neil Vorster gave a verbal commit to Holy Cross for the 2015 season, he announced earlier today on his Twitter account.



The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Vorster was a three-year starter for Exeter at center and defensive end/outside linebacker. When he arrives in Worcester, he is expected to compete at defensive tackle.

According to ESPN Boston correspondent Roger Brown, Holy Cross and Dartmouth were the only Division 1 FCS schools to extend a scholarship offer. The Dartmouth offer, according to Brown, was conditional upon him doing a post-graduate season at prep school and joining the Crusaders in 2016.

"I like the defense part of it," Vorster told Brown. "That, plus I won't have to spend a year in prep school.

"Holy Cross had been in contact with me for a while, then things dropped off. Last Wednesday they stepped up their offer. It seemed like the right decision for me."

New Hampshire football playoff preview

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
9:45
PM ET
The regular season is in the rear-view mirror, and the high school football playoffs in New Hampshire begin this weekend with 12 conference championship games -- four in each of the three divisions. Each game is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.

New HampshireThe conference champions will advance to next weekend’s semifinals. Here’s a look at this weekend’s matchups and the teams to beat in each division:

DIVISION I:
  • East: Exeter (6-3) at Spaulding (6-3)
  • North: Central (7-2) at Concord (9-0)
  • South: Londonderry (4-5) at Pinkerton (7-2)
  • West: Keene (7-2) at Nashua South (8-1)
Analysis: Concord is the only Division I team that navigated through the regular season without a loss, and is clearly the favorite in this division. The Crimson Tide has more offensive weapons than any other team in the division, and has put those weapons to good use. Concord scored at least 34 points in eight of its nine games, and held five of its opponents to seven points or less.

Manchester Central will be Concord’s first hurdle. Concord beat Central 35-6 in Week 1, but Central has won seven in a row since its 0-2 start. Central running back Jesiah Wade has rushed for 2,074 yards this season, and gained 556 yards -- the single-game rushing record by a running back from New England -- against Merrimack earlier this year.

Keene, Nashua South and Pinkerton Academy also look like teams capable of winning this year’s title. Keene has won six of its last seven games and handed Nashua South its only loss two weeks ago (42-28). Nashua South is led by University of New Hampshire-bound quarterback Trevor Knight, and Pinkerton also has a big-play threat in running back Manny Latimore.

It would be a surprise if Londonderry, Exeter or Spaulding advanced past the semifinals, although Exeter is averaging 38 points per game since moving Joey Jones to quarterback. The Blue Hawks have won the last two Division I titles.

DIVISION II:
  • East: Merrimack Valley (7-2) at Portsmouth (8-1)
  • North: Kennett (5-4) at Plymouth (8-1)
  • South: Trinity (7-2) at Windham (8-1)
  • West: Sanborn (5-4) at Monadnock (9-0)
Analysis: There’s a good chance Chuck Lenahan will end his coaching career with his 20th state championship. Lenahan, who has announced his will retire after this season, has a 353-70-1 record in 43 seasons as Plymouth’s head coach. His Bobcats will be at home as long as they last in the postseason.

Plymouth’s biggest threat may be Portsmouth, which used a late rally to post a 27-22 victory at Plymouth earlier this season. Portsmouth lost to Trinity in its opener, but enters the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak.

Monadnock is the only unbeaten team in Division II, but seven of its nine regular-season opponents finished under the .500-mark. Monadnock posted a 27-19 victory over Sanborn, the only playoff team it faced.

Saturday’s Trinity-Windham winner may be the only other team capable of making a deep playoff run. Windham is a junior-laden team that made huge strides in the second half of the season. Windham’s only loss came against Plymouth, but it was a 41-7 setback. Trinity may have more talent than anyone in the division, but will have to win a rematch with Windham to advance. Windham beat Trinity 52-20 two weeks ago.

DIVISION III:
  • East: Bishop Brady (4-4) at Epping-Newmarket (4-4)
  • North: Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (4-4) at Gilford (6-2)
  • South: Bow (7-1) at Pelham (8-0)
  • West: Newport (6-2) at Stevens (6-2)
Analysis: The two best teams in Division III may be on opposite sidelines Saturday, when Bow meets Pelham. The winner of that contest will be the clear-cut favorite to capture this year’s title.

Bow’s only loss was a 7-0 decision against Pelham in the opener for each team. Bow has won seven in a row since then, and posted three shutouts along the way. Pelham ended a 30-game losing streak last year, but was the only Division III team to finish the regular season unbeaten. The game will feature two of the best running backs in the division in Bow’s Matt Ehrenberg and Pelham’s Chris Medeiros.

Stevens may be the best of the rest. The Cardinals have a do-it-all running back in Donald Pellerin, who is also a threat as a receiver and kick returner.

The legitimate contenders for the Division III championship may end there since Newport and Giflord, the only other teams with at least six wins, were overmatched by the top teams during the regular season. Pelham beat Newport 56-6 and Bow defeated Giflord 42-7.

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

N.H. football squads eye postseason play

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
3:00
PM ET
The final weekend of the New Hampshire high school football season is upon us.

New HampshireEight teams from each division -- two per conference -- will advance to next weekend’s conference championship games, which will serve as the postseason’s quarterfinal round.

Here’s what’s still at stake in each division:

DIVISION I

Four teams have already qualified for postseason play in Division I: Concord (8-0), Nashua South (7-1), Pinkerton Academy (6-2) and Londonderry (4-4). Londonderry will play at Pinkerton Academy in next weekend’s Division I South championship game.

Keene (6-2) can clinch a playoff spot by beating Alvirne (1-7) Friday. If Keene wins, it will play Nashua South in the Division I West title game. Keene handed Nashua South its only loss (42-28) last weekend.

Spaulding (5-3) and Exeter (5-3) will be the two teams that move on from Division I East if each wins Friday. Spaulding plays at Dover (2-6), and Exeter is home against Nashua North (3-5). If either Spaulding or Exeter loses Friday, the door will be open for Winnacunnet (5-3) to reach the postseason.

The winner of Friday’s game between Manchester Central (6-2) and Bedford (7-1) will face Concord in the Division I North title game.

DIVISION II

Seven of the eight playoff teams have been determined in Division II: Monadnock (8-0), Portsmouth (7-1), Plymouth (7-1), Windham (7-1), Trinity (6-2), Sanborn (5-3) and Kennett (4-4).

Sanborn will play Monadnock in the Division II West title game, and Trinity will face Windham in the Division II South title game.

Merrimack Valley will clinch a postseason berth if it beats Plymouth on Saturday, or if St. Thomas (6-2) loses to Trinity. A St. Thomas win and a Merrimack Valley loss would make it possible for St. Thomas to advance, depending on results of other Division II games this weekend. Either Merrimack Valley or St. Thomas will face Portsmouth in the Division II East championship game.

Kennett will face Plymouth in the Division II North championship game.

DIVISION III

The matchups in two of the four Division III conference championship games are set in Division III: Epping-Newmarket (3-4) will face Bishop Brady (3-4) in the Division III East title game; and Bow (6-1) will meet Pelham (7-0) in the Division III South championship game.

Stevens (5-2) and Gilford (6-2) have also qualified. Stevens will face the winner of Saturday’s game between Mascoma Valley (5-2) and Newport (5-2) for the Division III West title, and Gilford will meet either Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (4-3) or Winnisquam (3-4) in the Division III North championship game. Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough will advance if it beats Epping-Newmarket on Saturday, or if Winnisquam loses to Newfound (2-5).

NHIAA WEEK 9 SCHEDULE
DIVISION I
Friday
Spaulding at Dover
Nashua North at Exeter
Bishop Guertin at Timberlane
Winnacunnet at Nashua South
Manchester Central at Bedford
Goffstown at Concord
Manchester West at Manchester Memorial
Salem at Londonderry
Pinkerton at Merrimack
Alvirne at Keene
DIVISION II
Friday
Kennett at Kingswood
Pembroke at Mondadnock
Hanover at Portsmouth
St. Thomas at Trinity
Milford at Laconia
Lebanon at Kearsarge
Hollis/Brookline at Souhegan
Sanborn at Windham

Saturday
Merrimack Valley at Plymouth
Con-Val at John Stark

DIVISION III
Friday

Raymond at Stevens

Saturday
Franklin at Bishop Brady
Epping/Newmarket at IL/Moultonborough
Pelham at Farmington-Nute
Winnisquam at Newfound
Campbell at Bow
Fall Mountain at Somersworth
Newport at Mascoma Valley

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL
1. Concord (8-0)
2. Bedford (7-1)
3. Pinkerton (6-2)
4. Nashua South (7-1)
5. Keene (6-2)
6. Manchester Central (6-2)
7. Bishop Guertin (5-3)
8. Portsmouth (7-1)
9. Exeter (5-3)
10. Plymouth (7-1)

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader, and publishes the New Hampshire Football Report. Follow him on Twitter: @603sportsmedia.
Newton North girls' soccer is the latest local squad breaking the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Top 25 polls this week.

The Tigers made their debut at No. 20 in the girls' poll this week. Exeter (N.H.) remained in the top spot for the third straight week, while ESPN Boston MIAA No. 1 Central Catholic moved up a spot to No. 7 this week.

On the boys' side, ESPN Boston No. 1 New Bedford slipped to No. 12 this week, down four spots from last week.

New England is well represented as well with Greenwich (Conn.) checking at No. 8 this week and Joel Barlow (Conn.) joining the poll at No. 24, representing the Nutmeg State.

Here's are this week's full rankings:

GIRLS' NATIONAL TOP 25

1 Exeter (Exeter, N.H.) 1 12-0-0
2 Northport (Northport, N.Y.) 2 9-0-0
2 Houston (Germantown, Tenn.) 5 16-0-1
4 Maria Carillo (Santa Rosa, Calif.) 3 12-0-1
5 Northern Highlands (Allendale, N.J.) 3 10-0-0
6 Rocky River (Rocky River, Ohio) 6 15-0-1
7 Central Catholic (Lawrence, Mass.) 8 12-0-0
8 Cumberland Valley (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) 7 17-0-0
9 Monroe Woodbury (Woodbury, N.Y.) 13 14-0-0
10 Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville, Ky.) 15 15-0-3
11 Twinsburg (Twinsburg, Ohio) 10 15-0-1
12 Neshaminy (Langhorne, Pa.) 13 14-0-0
13 Champlain Valley Union (Hinesburg, Vt.) 19 12-0-0
14 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) NR 7-0-0
15 McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.) 20 9-1-2
16 St. John the Baptist (West Islip, N.Y.) NR 8-0-2
17 Tigard (Tigard, Ore.) NR 8-0-1
18 Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) 9 9-0-4
19 Honeoye Falls Lima (Honeoye Falls, N.Y) 22 13-0-0
20 Newton North (Newton, Mass.) NR 10-0-1
21 Fishers (Fishers, Ind.) NR 15-0-1
22 Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) NR 8-1-1
23 Central Bucks East (Doylestown, Pa.) NR 13-0-3
24 Winfield (Winfield, W.Va.) 25 16-1-1
25 Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) 11 8-0-2

BOYS' NATIONAL TOP 25

1 St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.) 1 14-0-0
2 Mason (Mason, Ohio) 3 15-0-1
3 Jesuit (Carmichael, Calif.) 4 17-0-3
4 Arlington (LaGrangeville, N.Y.) 2 12-0-1
5 Hinsdale Central (Hinsdale, Ill.) 7 16-0-2
6 Troy Athens (Troy, Mich.) 13 19-0-0
7 Salesianum School (Wilmington, Del.) 5 10-0-1
8 Greenwich (Greenwich, Conn.) 21 11-0-1
9 Upper St. Clair (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 10 15-0-1
10 McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.) 11 13-0-0
11 Columbus North (Columbus, Ind.) 12 17-0-1
12 New Bedford (New Bedford, Mass.) 8 10-0-2
13 St. Dominic (O'Fallon, Mo.) NR 16-0-0
14 Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) 15 8-1-1
15 Brookfield East (Brookfield, Wis.) NR 14-3-3
16 St. Anthony's (Melville, N.Y.) 22 13-1-1
17 Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York, N.Y.) 9 10-0-1
18 Avon (Avon, Ind.) 18 18-0-1
19 Cumberland Valley (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) 17 16-0-1
20 Analy (Sebastopol, Calif.) 20 15-0-1
21 Providence Day School (Charlotte, N.C.) RV 17-0-0
22 Marquette University High (Milwaukee, Wis.) 6 13-1-2
23 St. Charles East (St. Charles, Ill.) 14 14-0-4
24 Joel Barlow (Redding, Conn.) NR 12-0-0
25 Father Judge (Philadelphia, Pa.) 25 15-0-0

New Hampshire Week 5 football preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIVISION II

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

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

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

DIVISION III

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

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

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL

1. Concord (4-0)

2. Bedford 4-0

3. Nashua South (4-0)

4. Pinkerton (3-1)

5. Exeter (3-1)

6. Bishop Guertin (3-1)

7. Winnacunnet (3-1)

8. Plymouth (4-0)

9. Keene (2-2)

10. Trinity (3-1)

(Read full post)

Exeter (N.H.) girls' soccer takes national No. 1

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
8:46
PM ET
The Exeter (N.H.) High School girls' soccer team is ranked No. 1 in the National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America poll that was released earlier this week.

Exeter improved its Division I record to 8-0 and stretched the program’s winning streak to 32 games by defeating previously unbeaten Bedford, 3-0, Tuesday. Bedford entered that contest with a 7-0-1 record and had surrendered two goals in those eight games.

“I think [the ranking] is built on your reputation and your record,” Exeter coach Megan Young said. “It’s a reflection of the program, not of this individual team. We have to establish our own identity. It is nice, but at the same time we’re keeping it in perspective.”

Exeter has outscored its opponents 33-4 this season. Six of the team’s eight victories have been shutouts. Junior Casey Estey, who collected two goals in Tuesday’s victory over Bedford, is the team’s leading scorer with 17 goals.

Young, who played soccer at Exeter and for Norwich University, is in her 13th season as the program’s head coach. This year’s Exeter team has eight seniors, 10 juniors and one freshman.

The Blue Hawks were ranked No. 1 in the Sept. 17 NSCAA poll, but dropped to No. 2 on Sept. 24. Exeter moved back to the top spot after Houston High School of Germantown, Tenn., slipped into a tie for No. 2 this week.

There are three other New England teams in this week’s poll: Massachusetts No. 1 squad Central Catholic is No. 7, Falmouth, Maine is No. 13 and Champlain Valley Union of Hinesburg, Vt. is No. 21.

Exeter, which has won the last four Division I state championships, hasn’t lost a game since the 2011 season. The Blue Hawks have won six of the last seven Division I titles. The program has a 130-8-3 record since the start of the 2006 season.

“Quietly, I think the girls do get excited by it (the national ranking),” Young said. “I think they enjoy the publicity that it’s gotten. At the same time I have to remind them to stay level-headed.”

Exeter will try to pass another tough test Thursday, when it plays Pinkerton Academy (8-0-0) in Derry, N.H.

NSCAA Top 25 national poll:

1. Exeter (Exeter, N.H.) 7-0-0
2. South Side (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) 6-0-1
2. Houston (Germantown, Tenn.) 12-0-1
4. Maria Carillo (Santa Rosa, Calif.) 9-0-1
5. Northern Highlands (Allendale, N.J.) 6-0-0
6. Rocky River (Rocky River, Ohio) 11-0-1
7. Cumberland Valley (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) 12-0-0
7. Central Catholic (Lawrence, Mass.) 8-0-0
9. Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) 6-0-3
10. Northport (Northport, N.Y.) 7-0-0
11. Immaculate Heart Academy (Township of Washington, N.J.) 7-0-0
12. Twinsburg (Twinsburg, Ohio) 11-0-1
13. Falmouth (Falmouth, Maine) 6-0-0
14. Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) 6-0-1
15. Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville, Ky.) 11-0-2
16. Arlington (LaGrangeville, N.Y.) 7-0-0
17. Neshaminy (Langhorne, Pa.) 9-0-0
18. Gig Harbor (Gig Harbor, Wash.) 5-0-0
19. Carmel (Carmel, Ind.) 11-1-2
20. Winfield (Winfield, W.Va.) 14-0-0
21. Champlain Valley Union (Hinesburg, Vt.) 8-0-0
22. Massapequa (Massapequa, N.Y.) 7-0-0
23. Montgomery (Santa Rosa, N.Y.) 9-1-0
24. Zionsville (Zionsville, Ind.) 11-2-2
25. Alta (Sandy, Utah) 10-1-0
25. McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.) 5-1-1

New Hampshire Week 4 football preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIVISION I

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

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

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

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

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

DIVISION III

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

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

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

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

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL

1. Exeter (3-0)

2. Concord (3-0)

3. Bedford (3-0)

4. Nashua South (3-0)

5. Pinkerton (2-1)

6. Winnacunnet (2-1)

7. Trinity (3-0)

8. Bishop Guertin (2-1)

9. Plymouth (3-0)

10 (tie). Londonderry (2-1)

10 (tie). Portsmouth (2-1)

10 (tie). Spaulding (2-1)

(Read full post)

New Hampshire Football Preview

September, 20, 2013
9/20/13
3:07
PM ET
How much interest is there in Saturday's Division I game between Exeter and neighboring Winnacunnet of Hampton?

Put it this way: If 4,000 fans show up for Saturday's contest there will undoubtedly be some who will label the turnout a disappointment.

The Exeter-Winnacunnet rivalry has become the fiercest in the state.

“It's the biggest game of the year,” Exeter coach Bill Ball said. “Always has been. Always will be.”

This year's game will have even more meaning since both programs are in Division I. The programs battled in Division II until Exeter moved to Division I after the 2009 season. Winnacunnet moved to Division I after last season.

Both teams will enter this year's matchup with a 2-0 record. Winnacunnet has won close games against Bishop Guertin of Nashua (23-22) and Nashua North (20-17). Exeter has beaten Dover (48-6) and Keene (13-3).

“Like all of our games against Exeter, this one will be won in the box,” Winnacunnet coach Ron Auffant said. “Their offensive line is big and they come off the ball well, so our kids will have to be tough against their running game. Defensively, the key against Exeter is first down. You have to take them out of their comfort zone.

“We'll have to pick our spots (on offense) and try to make some big plays. They're physical, but I like our athletes.”

Exeter has won the last two Division I championships. Winnacunnet, which won last year's Division II title, is the only team that beat Exeter last season.

“It's always huge when we play Exeter,” Auffant said. “We'll have to bring our A game.”

DIVISION II
Merrimack Valley of Penacook is off to a 2-0 start and may be the most intriguing team in Division II.

Merrimack Valley first fielded a varsity program in 2002 and has had one winning season since then (5-4 in 2008). Pride quarterback Ivan Niyamugabo has drawn some FCS interest, and Tucker Burt has added some punch to the running game after playing for New Hampton Prep last season.

Merrimack Valley, which didn't win a game last year, will get its stiffest test to date when it plays at Portsmouth (1-1) on Friday night.

“They're better than anybody we've played, that's for sure,” Merrimack Valley coach Dave Jackson said. “Everywhere I look I see athletes who can catch the ball.

“I think for us to win it'll have to be a high-scoring game. We have some speed too. We have some play makers.”

DIVISION III
Pelham is one of three unbeaten teams in Division III –- Fall Mountain (Langdon) and Campbell (Litchfield) are the others -– and will try to raise its record to 3-0 when it plays Somersworth (1-1) in Pelham on Friday night.

“I think Somersworth is the best team in the division,” Pelham coach Ryan Clark said. “They have a strong winning tradition. We'll need our play makers to step up.”

Running back Chris Medeiros is the leading rusher in the team's double-wing offense. He's one of several four-year starters on the team.

Pelham finished 3-6 last year, Clark's first season as the program's head coach.

“I felt like we finished last season strong, and we didn't really lose much,” Clark said. “This Friday is going to tell us a lot.”

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL
1. Exeter (2-0)
2. Bedford (2-0)
3. Concord (2-0)
4. Nashua South (2-0)
5. Pinkerton Academy (1-1)
6. Winnacunnet (2-0)
7. Keene (1-1)
8. Trinity (2-0)
9. Londonderry (2-0)
10. Plymouth (2-0)


WEEK 3 SCHEDULE

Division I

Friday
Dover at Alvirne
Nashua North at Spaulding
Timberlane at Nashua South
Bedford at Londonderry
Concord at Merrimack

Saturday
Winnacunnet at Exeter
Manchester Central at Manchester Memorial
Manchester West at Goffstown
Pinkerton at Salem
Keene at Bishop Guertin

Division II

Friday
Laconia at Kingswood
Merrimack Valley at Portsmouth
Kearsarge at Hanover
Lebanon at Trinity
Con-Val at Milford

Saturday
Pembroke at Sanborn
John Stark at St. Thomas
Kennett at Plymouth
Souhegan at Windham
Monadnock at Hollis/Brookline

Division III

Friday
Epping-Newmarket at Raymond
Somersworth at Pelham

Saturday
Bishop Brady at Campbell
Farmington-Nute at Winnisquam
Newfound at Franklin
Gilford at Inter-Lakes/Moultonboro
Newport at Fall Mountain
Stevens at Bow

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

Week 2 New Hampshire football preview

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
11:34
AM ET
Keene football coach John Luopa won't be walking into the unknown this weekend. He's very much aware of what his team will be up against when it faces Exeter on Saturday night (7 p.m.) in Keene.

New HampshireExeter has won New Hampshire's last two Division I championships and is considered by many to be the team to beat again this season. The Blue Hawks have a roster of more than 100 players and have won their last 17 games against Division I competition.

“It's a daunting task playing Exeter,” Luopa said. “They're hands down the best team in the state – and the best program. When you've won the last two Division I championships I think it's fair to say that.

“It's the same Exeter team. They've just changed the names and numbers.”

Keene is coming off a 34-0 triumph over Nashua North. Exeter received three touchdowns from fullback Jay Inzenga in Saturday's 48-6 triumph over Dover.

“I thought we tackled well and we didn't turn it over, which is always a concern when you have all new backs,” Exeter coach Bill Ball said. “Getting out of the gate with a win is huge. It gives you momentum heading into the next week.

“The road gets tougher. Keene is a lot like us – physical. It'll be a physical game."

Luopa said slowing down Exeter's running game and cashing in on scoring opportunities will be the keys for his team Saturday night.

“Offensively you have to find a way to get it in the end zone,” he said. “In years past we've moved the ball well from the 20 to the 20. Inside the 20 is where they really buckle down.

“I think we match up well with teams that run the spread because defensively we can run with the spread teams. The big question entering this game is how will our defense hold up against a big, powerful team that runs the ball?

“It will be interesting to see if we do have the horses to give them a game.”

DIVISION II
Trinity (Manchester) and Plymouth were the best teams in Division IV last season, and they may be the two best teams in a reconfigured Division II this year.

Plymouth, which beat Trinity 7-0 to win last year's Division IV title, rolled over Kingswood, 49-28, last weekend. The Bobcats will play at Windham on Saturday. Windham, which lost to Trinity in last year's Division IV semifinals, opened its season with a 28-7 triumph over Hanover.

“I saw their film (against Kingswood) and they flow to the ball real well,” Windham coach Bill Raycraft said. “(Plymouth coach Chuck Lenahan) has 11 guys who make it look like they have 13 out there. Plymouth will be one of the top teams in the division.”

Perhaps no team posted a more impressive victory last weekend than Trinity, which made a statement by beating Portsmouth, 58-37, Friday night. Portsmouth has won the last two Division III championships and was a preseason favorite to win this year's Division II title.

Trinity may get a stiffer test from Milford tonight. The Spartans returned their entire offensive backfield from last year's Division III playoff team, and showed plenty of offensive punch in Saturday's 48-23 victory over Sanborn (Kingston).

“Obviously it was nice to get that win, but we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do,” Trinity coach Steve Burns said.

DIVISION III
Fall Mountain (Langdon) played a junior varsity schedule last season because of low participation in the program, but will have a chance to improve its Division III record to 2-0 when it travels to Raymond tonight (7 p.m.).

Fall Mountain is coming off a 40-8 victory over Newfound, and Raymond dropped a 53-35 decision to Bishop Brady (Concord) in its opener.

Tonight's game between Newport and Pelham is this weekend's only Division III matchup between teams that each won last weekend.

(Read full post)

New Hampshire football preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shrine Bowl: NH shuts out Vermont for 13th straight

August, 3, 2013
8/03/13
11:12
PM ET
HANOVER, N.H. -– Vermont may have run a prettier offense Saturday night, but New Hampshire's Double-Wing was much more effective.
New Hampshire outgained Vermont 460-162 and rolled to a 43-0 triumph in the 60th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl at Dartmouth's Memorial Field.

It was the 13th consecutive victory for New Hampshire, which has a 45-13-2 lead in the series.

Trinity running back Romeo Masuku ran for a game-high 113 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Goffstown quarterback Connor Benjamin tossed a 55-yard TD pass to Laconia tight end Graham Nyhan –- New Hampshire's only pass completion in the game –- and also ran for a 36-yard TD.

New Hampshire operated out of a Wildcat formation for much of the second half, when it scored 28 of its 43 points.

“We wanted to save that for the second half so they couldn't prepare for it at halftime,” New Hampshire coach Ray Kershaw said. “The Double-Wing is designed to wear teams down in the second half, and that's what happened. That's what my offensive linemen were telling me.”

New Hampshire also received a 9-yard TD run from Concord's Tolbert Nemo, a 1-yard TD run from Exeter's Tyler Grant and a 42-yard field goal from Souhegan's Tyler Ford. Ford also made four point-after kicks.

Vermont's no-huddle spread offense was limited to 40 yards rushing on 22 carries, and 13 completions in 34 pass attempts. Vermont committed six turnovers, five of which were interceptions.

“We just make too many mistakes,” Vermont coach Jason Thomas said. “We had our chances – I really believe that – I just don't think we executed very well.”

New Hampshire led 6-0 after one quarter, 15-0 at halftime and 29-0 entering the fourth.

Vermont has lost 23 of the last 25 games.

LINE DANCING
New Hampshire's defensive line, which featured University of New Hampshire-bound tackle Ricky Holt, recorded four sacks.
“We had one of the most dominant defensive lines you could have put together in our state,” Holt said. “We did a really good job of getting after the quarterback.”

New Hampshire's defensive line included Exeter defensive end Zach Bosen, Pembroke Academy defensive tackle Chris Ford and Stevens defensive end C.J. Gosselin.

“We knew they'd be really good up front, and when they're really good up front it makes it challenging,” Thomas said. “Their defensive line was outstanding putting pressure on our quarterbacks all day. Made it difficult for them to throw it to the open guy.”

It was the first time Vermont was shut out since 2008, when New Hampshire posted a 42-0 victory.

“They did throw us off our game a little bit,” Vermont quarterback Jake Stalcup (Burr & Burton) said. “It's tough to make a full-field read when there are guys coming at you.”

EXTRA POINTS
Ford's 42-yard field goal came as time expired at the end of the first half, and is the longest field goal in the game's history. Spaulding's Scott Sanborn held the previous record. Sanborn made a 41-yard field goal in 1982. ... New Hampshire attempted six passes. ... Woodstock's Ed Doton was Vermont's leading rusher with 38 yards on six carries. ... Vermont's Chris Redding (Burr and Burton) caught five passes for 53 yards. ... Logan Batchelder (Stevens) had two of New Hampshire's five interceptions. ... It was the first time the game has been played at night.

NH going for baker's dozen in Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl

August, 2, 2013
8/02/13
4:35
PM ET
It's a different year with different players and different coaches, but the storyline leading up to Saturday's 60th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl hasn't changed: Can Vermont find a way to upset New Hampshire, or at least make it a competitive game?

New Hampshire will bring a 12-game winning streak into Saturday's contest, and has outscored Vermont 433-145 in those 12 games. New Hampshire leads the overall series 44-13-2.

New Hampshire head coach Ray Kershaw (Mascoma Regional) said he has warned his team about the danger of being overconfident.

“They do know not to take them lightly,” Kershaw said. “I tell them that every single day. I tell them it's not going to be handed to them.”

Saturday's game will be played at Dartmouth's Memorial Field. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., and all proceeds benefit the Shriners' Hospitals for Children.

“Different set of circumstances,” Vermont coach Jason Thomas (Burr & Burton) said. “I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't have my guys ready to go and believing they could win.”

Goffstown's Connor Benjamin will lead the New Hampshire offense. Benjamin played running back in the New Hampshire CHaD All-Star Game, but will be New Hampshire's starting quarterback Saturday. He was a quarterback during his junior and senior seasons at Goffstown.

Exeter's Tyler Grant, Concord's Tolbert Nemo, Trinity of Manchester's Romeo Masuku and Manchester Memorial's Jared Ombati are among New Hampshire's running backs.

“Our backfield has a lot of speed and a lot of depth,” Benjamin said.

Vermont will have to deal with a New Hampshire defense led by Portsmouth defensive lineman Ricky Holt, who will play at the University of New Hampshire.

Vermont fans are hoping quarterback Jake Stalcup can guide their team to victory.

Stalcup, a three-year starter for Thomas at Burr and Burton, was named Vermont's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011, when he tossed 31 touchdown passes as a junior. Stalcup passed for 2,613 yards and 31 TDs last fall. He will play for Middlebury College this season.

Stalcup will direct a fast-paced spread offense that Thomas learned from Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly while both were assistant coaches at UNH.

“I think the game will be won or lost up front,” Thomas said. “If we can't protect the QB, keep him upright so he can get the ball off, the skill kids aren't going to matter.

“We feel like we have to score points against these guys for sure. New Hampshire is big and athletic. I imagine they'll be a very difficult team to stop.”

New Hampshire set a record for points scored by one team when it won last year's game 62-24.

“Both teams have been working hard and it's going to be a tough game,” Benjamin said. “Regardless of who wins, this game is all about fund-raising. It's for kids who can't do what we do.”

Northeast 7v7: North Regional cut short, but stars impress

July, 21, 2013
7/21/13
12:01
AM ET
EXETER, N.H. -- The first of four Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 football tournaments commenced this morning with the North Regional, at Exeter (N.H.) High, where over three dozen squads from high schools in New Hampshire, Maine and Northern Massachusetts squared off.

Due to inclement lightning, the tournament was called in the early afternoon, with one game left in pool play, and will not be re-scheduled. Instead, what was initially supposed to be a 10-team "New England Championship" on July 30, at Bishop Fenwick High, will expand to potentially as many as two dozen; any team that had a chance at advancing from their pool in today's tournament is invited to participate in the de facto title game.

Some notes and observations from pool play of the shortened tournament:

Air Javier: Lynn English is always an intriguing program to watch, because it's never short on athletes at the skill position. And if Jordan Javier's performance today is any indicator, the Bulldogs should have a lot of fun in the preseason figuring out how to optimize their personnel.

Javier transfers into English as a junior from Haverhill High, and at 6-foot-4 and 198 pounds he is an obvious matchup problem at wide receiver. In the Bulldogs' final game of pool play, Javier lined up wide for the first offensive series and made a tight grab near the sidelines.

After that first series, Javier moved to quarterback and was impressive, demonstrating a quick release, above-average arm strength and playmaking ability when flushing out of the pocket. Utilizing interlocking square-in routes at different depths, Javier made a handful of completions to senior receiver Chris Lessard for quality gains.

His most impressive throw might have been his deep ball to junior receiver Lucas Harris early on in the game. Running a deep corner route to a first down marker some 35 yards down field, Javier let it rip with a simple flick of the wrist, a high-arching floater that dropped softly into the bread basket as Harris planted and turned 45 degrees northeast, his feet coming along for the ride as he fell just over the marker.

Simply put, Javier can make the difficult look effortless. English will have an interesting time figuring out what to do with the quarterback spot -- Harris and Lessard also split time at the position last season -- and obviously it's a whole different look when the pads are on. But the Bulldogs should have fun figuring themselves out in August.

Juniors on the rise for Prep: St. John's Prep was without Maryland-bound running back Johnathan Thomas, the state's No. 1 Class of 2014 prospect, who was having minor cosmetic surgery on his right temple. He might have been missed, as the Eagles dropped their first contest and was trailing by two scores to Winnacunnet (N.H.) when play was halted.

That said, two juniors impressed for the defending Division 1 Super Bowl champs, who could potentially enter the preseason as the top-ranked team in Massachusetts. Wide receiver Owen Rocket excelled in the open field, running great routes and making tight catches in traffic.

Folks over on Spring St. are excited about the potential of tight end Jake Burt as well. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Lynnfield resident didn't see a lot of time behind All-Conference tight end Anthony Bongiorno last year, but expect him to be an integral part of the offense this season. With a powerful frame that still has some maturing to do, he is an ideal player for these 7-on-7 type tournaments, able to box out his defender in goal line situations.

Hillies have some promise: It's going to be tough for Haverhill to replace quarterback Tommy Morgan and running back Chance Brady from last year's dynamic record-setting offense, but there are some pieces in place to potentially have another good season.

The Hillies went 3-0 in their pool before play stopped, and senior Shane Finn made some good throws at quarterback. Utilizing a pistol set with trips and 2x2 formations, Finn made some quality reads and while he may need to improve his arm strength, had a few frozen ropes deep for scores.

On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Michael Kwegyir-Attah will be one of the more interesting prospects to watch in the Merrimack Valley Conference this season. Originally hailing from Ghana, last year was Attah's first year ever playing organized football. Still, his junior highlight film is impressive, filling gaps adequately in run support and squaring up well at the point of attack.

At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Attah is a tweener prospect, getting varying amounts of interest from FCS programs such as New Hampshire and Albany. He has long arms, and in pass coverage today he used them well, delivering a good punch in press coverage and staying in front of his man, though he did give up a touchdown.

Warriors roll: Winnacunnet was among the more impressive looking squads from the Granite State today. Quarterback Ing Hao Veasna, he of the heroics in last year's run to the Warriors' first state championship in 12 years, proved his mettle and is set for another terrific season.

Meanwhile, senior wideout/safety Alec Boucher, who caught a handful of nice balls against Prep, should be in for a bigger campaign this fall. Standing 6-foot-1 with a 6-foot-4 wingspan, and also a basketball star during the winter, he is another tweener prospect who is getting looks from UNH, Fordham, Assumption and Merrimack. If there's anything that speaks to his athleticism, it's this: Last spring, he picked up a third sport -- track and field -- for the first time in his life, and finished third in New Hampshire in the high jump.

Exeter (N.H.) ready to host Northeast 7v7

July, 19, 2013
7/19/13
9:50
PM ET
Some of the best high school football talent in New England will gather at Exeter (N.H.) High School on Saturday, where the third annual Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 tournament will kick off with the North Regional.

Exeter is one of three tournament sites. The South Regional will be held Sunday at Oliver Ames High School in North Easton, and the East Regional will take place July 27 at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody. Each site will feature 40 teams.

“These 7-on-7 tournaments are really big in other parts of the country, and they're starting to grow here,” Dover (N.H.) coach Ken Osbon said. “If other teams are doing it, you have to do it or you're going to be left behind.”

The finalists from each regional and four wildcard teams will advance to the New England 7-on-7 championship, which will be held July 30 at Bishop Fenwick.

Three states -– Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire -– will be represented in Exeter. Each team is guaranteed four games in pool play, and then two teams from each pool will advance to the single-elimination portion of the event. The first games are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

St. John's Prep of Danvers and Exeter are among the teams that will compete in the North Regional. St. John's Prep, which won last year's Division I Super Bowl, has the top-ranked recruit from Massachusetts in running back Johnathan Thomas. Thomas has committed to the University of Maryland.

Exeter has defeated Pinkerton Academy of Derry in New Hampshire's last two Division I championship games. For Exeter, which runs a Straight-T offense, competing in 7-on-7 tournaments is as much about defense as it is the passing game.

“There are a lot of spread teams out there,” Exeter coach Bill Ball said. “It helps your linebackers and the secondary.”

The field also includes Methuen, which defeated The Pingree School of South Hamilton to win last year's North Regional.

Marshwood High School of South Berwick, Maine, reached the Class B championship game last season and is also entered. Former Longmeadow coach Alex Rotsko is entering his second year as Marshwood's head coach. Rotsko guided Longmeadow to 11 Super Bowl championships in 19 seasons.

“We came last year and the kids loved it,” York, Maine, coach Randy Small said. “It allows your quarterback and his receivers to work on their timing. The competition is great. Makes you better.”

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
6:10
PM ET
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.

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