Boston High School: Londonderry

New Hampshire football playoff preview

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
9:45
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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
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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.

New Hampshire Week 4 football preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIVISION I

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

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

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

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

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

DIVISION III

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

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

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

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

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL

1. Exeter (3-0)

2. Concord (3-0)

3. Bedford (3-0)

4. Nashua South (3-0)

5. Pinkerton (2-1)

6. Winnacunnet (2-1)

7. Trinity (3-0)

8. Bishop Guertin (2-1)

9. Plymouth (3-0)

10 (tie). Londonderry (2-1)

10 (tie). Portsmouth (2-1)

10 (tie). Spaulding (2-1)

(Read full post)

New Hampshire football preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
6:10
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White Mountains Regional won last year's Division III softball championship, but there's a lot to like about this year's White Mountains team as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

October, 31, 2012
10/31/12
7:04
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In the rich history of New England high school football, there isn't a head coach with more career wins than Plymouth (N.H.) Regional's Chuck Lenahan.

New Hampshire“How do I put this? It's a great honor, especially for the school and the program. That's the important thing,” said Lenahan, 69, who clinched career win No. 343 with a 35-21 Division IV decision over John Stark Regional on Oct. 27.

The 14-point win pushed Lenahan's career mark to 343-69-1. He moved past Rod Wotton (342-81-3), who retired in 2010. Wotton enjoyed successful stints at Maine schools South Berwick and Marshwood, and New Hampshire's St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover (111 NHIAA wins).

Lenahan, of course, has never left Plymouth. As if his .831 winning percentage over 41-plus campaigns doesn't cut it, consider these football feats:


-- 29 state championship appearancesar


-- 18 state championships


-- 12 undefeated seasons


-- NHIAA's longest win streaks (57 games from 2005-10; 46 games from 2000-04)

On the strength of those win streaks – the 57-gamer a nation-best early in '10 -- Plymouth went 106-2 (nine titles) from 2000-09.

“Unparalleled success. A level of consistency that is so uncommon it's incredible,” said Bill Ball, the athletics director and 20-year head football coach at Division I Exeter. “To year-in and year-out put out the quality that he does on the football field, yet maintain a high level of sportsmanship, (the record is) an incredible accomplishment by Chuck, his coaches, his players and the Plymouth community.”

The gap between Lenahan and his peers, in terms of career NHIAA wins, is considerable. Brian O'Reilly of Division I Pinkerton Academy is second (249-102). Recently retired Jack Gati, who split time at then-Division I Trinity, Concord and Salem, is third (221-138).

To think, Lenahan didn't crack the win column as a 27-year-old rookie head coach in 1971. After settling for a season-opening 14-14 tie with Hanover, the Bobcats lost their final six games.

“We lost a lot of close games, I'll tell you that. We had injuries all over the place,” Lenahan said. “But I don't believe I had much of a clue what was going on anyway.”

If Lenahan was ever truly clueless, he quickly corrected the coaching flaw. The Bobcats celebrated their first undefeated championship season in '72, the first year the NHIAA adopted a playoff format.

Lenahan's first win was an 18-12 triple-overtime triumph against Newport on Sept. 9, 1972. The OT format, like postseason play, was new to the state's football landscape.

More milestone moments from Lenahan's legendary career:


-- Win No. 100 – Plymouth 22, Littleton 0 (Nov. 3, 1984)


-- Win No. 200 – Plymouth 34, Monadnock 12 (Oct. 10, 1998)


-- Win No. 217, NHIAA record – Plymouth 14, Kennett 0 (Sept. 16, 2000)


-- Win No. 300 – Plymouth 41, Kingswood 7 (Sept. 13, 2008)


Plymouth is again in a familiar position. Lenahan & Co. are the top playoff seed and two wins from a perfect season.

"A big part of our program has been consistency. I'm pretty proud of that," Lenahan said. "Our kids come to play no matter what we have for talent."

XC CHAMPS CROWNED
Northwood's Coe-Brown Academy collected considerable hardware at the NHIAA Cross Country Championship on Oct. 27.

Hannah Parker paced the girls' team to its third consecutive Division II title at Derryfield Park in Manchester. The sophomore finished the 3.1-mile run in 18 minutes, 58 seconds to lead the field. Junior Jeremy Brassard earned an individual title with his time of 16:08.

Parker and Brown became Coe-Brown's first individual winners.

Parker and her teammates were particularly dominant. The underclassman-laden squad was responsible for the first-, third-, fifth-, seventh- and ninth-place finishers. The team tallied a championship-low 25 points.

In Division I, Bedford's boys (57 points) and Londonderry's girls (89) finished No. 1. Concord's B.J. Smith (16:06) and Manchester Central's Elizabeth Conway (18:45) were the individual champs.

Souhegan's boys (44 points) won the Division II title.

In Division III, Hopkinton's boys (65 points) and girls (41) celebrated a No. 1 finish.

Fall Mountain's Levi Frye (16:12) paced the boys. Laconia's Sami Hicks (19:38) was first to finish for the girls.

DEJA VU
Manchester Memorial's Jared Ombati gained more than 300 yards on the ground for the second time this season on Oct. 26. The senior running back totaled 354 yards (three touchdowns) on 31 carries in his team's 29-14 win over Division II Manchester West.

Ombati shredded Division I foe Londonderry on Sept. 21. He ran for 330 yards (five TDs) in a 33-25 win.

“All week, we said the only one that would beat us was 20,” said West head coach Jim Lauzon, referncing Ombati's uniform number. “We had guys (in practice) pretend to be him. One of our coaches dressed and was him. We thought we were really ready to stop him.”

West's defense did stop Ombati – through two carries. He was stuffed for no gain on his first rush. He moved the ball 1 yard on his second touch.

Ombati finished the quarter with four carries for 139 yards, including 55- and 83-yard TD runs that capped one-play drives. His final TD, a 42-yard burst, also finished a one-play possession.

“He's one of the fastest kids in the school,” Memorial head coach Peter Colcord said. “I've been waiting for this for four years. He's really turned it on this year.”

Marc Thaler can be reached at marc.thaler@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

September, 18, 2012
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“V” is for Victoria – as in Victoria Arlen.

New Hampshire
Arlen won four medals – including gold – during a highly successful journey to London for the 2012 Paralympic Games from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9. Swimming for the U.S. national team, the 17-year-old competed in five events at the Aquatics Center and, in addition to grabbing gold, won three silver medals.

She placed second in her first three events, and closed out her run with a gold medal-winning time of 1 minute, 13.33 seconds in the women's 100-meter freestyle on Sept. 8.

The time set a world record. Arlen broke the previous mark, which she owned, by 1.41 seconds.

The Seacoast star celebrated second-place finishes in the 50-meter freestyle (35.32), 400-meter freestyle (5:20.18) and 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay (4:24.57).

Arlen missed by less than 1 second qualifying for the eight-swimmer final in her fourth event, the 100-meter breaststroke. She completed the race in 1:59.67. Hungary's Fanni Illes (1:58.83) edged Arlen for eighth place.

The fact Arlen participated in competitive swimming – on a world stage, no less – is nothing short of miraculous. She was diagnosed as an 11-year-old with transverse meylitis, which affects the spinal cord. The disorder resulted in Arlen's paralysis from the waist-down.

“I succumbed to a vegetative state for three years, and I couldn't walk, talk, eat, move or communicate,” Arlen told New England Cable News in June. “And I was told I wasn't (going to) make it.”

Shortly before the Games, Arlen was briefly ruled ineligible to compete. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) questioned the severity of her disability.

The ruling, appealed by U.S. officials, was overturned. And Arlen returned home with a handful of hardware.

Here are four messages Arlen recently posted to her Twitter page (@Arlenv1), one for each of the medals she earned:

– Sept. 8: “Gold medal and world record in the final race tonight! #pumped #cannotbelieveit”

– Sept. 10: “That moment when (you're) bringing your carry on through security with 4 London 2012 medals and they stop you & search your bag #uncommon”

– Sept. 11: “Officially have 1,001 followers!!! Woohoo #thanksforthesupport #MuchLove”

– Sept. 13: “That awkward moment when (you're) stopped in the Grocery store to take a picture and you have nothing but junk food in your cart..;) #dontjudge”

NEW LEAGUE, NEW COACH
Bedford is moving up to Division I this winter for boys' basketball – and Mike Fitzpatrick is going with the Bulldogs.

A fixture on Manchester's high school hoop scene since 1991, Fitzpatrick spent the past four seasons at Manchester Memorial. But, he told the New Hampshire Union Leader that player commitment waned. Fitzpatrick cited the decision several players made to forgo summer-league games for AAU.

It didn't sit well with Fitzpatrick, who decided to find another opportunity.

The Bulldogs, Division II finalists last season, opened their doors.

“Everything happens for a reason, and I'm happy to be in Bedford,” Fitzpatrick told the statewide newspaper. “I like the challenge of taking a program that's entering its first season in Division I. They've got good talent, and it's going to be fun coaching those players.”

It isn't unrealistic to think Fitzpatrick could fuel for Bedford a first-year Division I run to the final. His first season at Memorial produced a runner-up finish. City rival Trinity won the 2009 title, 50-25.

Fitzpatrick led another Manchester rival, Central, to state championships in 1996 and 2000.

GREAT GET
Southern New Hampshire University recently hired Bob Slater as an assistant coach for the women's lacrosse team.

Slater spent the previous seven seasons as a high school head coach at Londonderry. He turned the NHIAA Division I Lancers from punching bag into the state's premier program.

From 2006-12, Slater amassed a record of 108-25-1 (three championships). The Lancers reached the state semifinals six times and appeared in four consecutive finals from 2009-12.

Londonderry celebrated a championship three-peat from 2009-11. The program also set state record win streaks for consecutive overall triumphs (51) and consecutive victories versus NHIAA opponents (59).

While Slater was at the helm, more than 30 of his players continued their careers in college.

SIZZLING SIGNAL-CALLERS
Four of the state's top quarterbacks in NHIAA football wasted no time dissecting opposing defenses. Senior QBs Connor Benjamin (Div. III Goffstown), James Caparell (Div. II Bedford), Riley Cote (Div. I Manchester Central) and Lucas Luopa (Div. II Keene) were on point in their Week 1 games Aug. 31.

Benjamin had the biggest game, though his Grizzlies lost at Manchester Memorial, 33-32. He erupted for 278 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. He also completed 15 of 27 passes for 229 yards and a score.

Caparell completed 13 of 20 passes for 276 yards and four TDs, as the Bulldogs blasted Milford, 48-7. Bedford's field general finished his night after three quarters. But he did the bulk of his damage before halftime, completing 12 of 17 passes for 267 yards and the four scores.

Cote connected on 12 of his 17 pass attempts. Four of those tosses went for TDs. He finished with 239 yards through the air, and the Little Green unloaded on Timberlane, 32-0.

Luopa was also a dual threat in a 62-27 thrashing of Salem. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 279 yards and four scores. His 12 rushing attempts generated 168 yards and two TDs.

“You keep your eye on it definitely,” Keene head coach John Luopa, the father of his club's QB, said when asked if he's aware of the statewide talent under center. “The way (high school) offenses are going these days, that position is key.”

In Week 2, Caparell added a TD toss to his count. Cote's TD total reached seven.

It was expected Lucas Luopa and Benjamin would duel in Week 3. But the coaches decided to protect all starters from injury by resting them. NHIAA non-league game don't count toward postseason qualification.

It's too bad. Check these two-week totals:

Lucas Luopa – in five quarters of play – is 23-for-37 with 434 yards and six TDs. He ran 17 times for 233 yards and three scores.

Benjamin – in six frames of action – is 24-for-40 with 359 yards and three TDs. He ran 23 times for 421 yards and six scores.

Marc Thaler is a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader. He co-hosts the “N.H. High School Football Show” on WGIR-AM 610 and WQSO-FM 96.7. Read his blog at NewHampshireGameDay.com and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

June, 8, 2012
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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

May, 13, 2012
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Every win streak, no matter its length, has an expiration date.

New HampshireLearning the life span of record runs for Portsmouth High baseball (89 games) and Londonderry High girls' lacrosse (59 games) ended in the same week, however, was certainly unexpected.

The Clippers run of consecutive NHIAA wins on the diamond, currently a national record, was snapped April 30 by Seacoast rival St. Thomas Aquinas High. The Dover club celebrated a comeback 5-4 home win.

“This year's group, 2012, is the most different of all the five teams (that contributed to the streak),” Portsmouth head coach Tim Hopley said. “Ten of the 18 guys had never been in a varsity game before the season started, and they weren't necessarily invested in what had happened in the past.

“Yet our best players, our leaders, pointed us in the right direction and they went out and were able to get the record back,” added Hopley, referring to Martensdale-St. Mary's (Iowa) High, which briefly broke the Clippers' record last season. “Whether it be for a few weeks or longer is irrelevant. It really is."

The Lancers' state-record streak of NHIAA wins was stopped by visiting Concord High. The date was May 5. The score was 14-12.

“I told the girls, 'Now it's done. You've set the bar for the state. You've done something that's going to be awfully hard to do again. Now you can focus on the next game. As long as we don't lose the last one, that's what matters,'” said Londonderry coach Bob Slater, whose program owned one of the nation's longest overall win streaks, a 51-gamer, until last season's 12-9 loss at Andover (Mass.) High.

Portsmouth, the four-time defending Division II champion, last lost an NHIAA contest in the 2007 quarterfinals. Hollis/Brookline High eliminated the Clippers, 4-3.

Londonderry, the three-time defending Division I champ, hadn't lost to an in-state foe since the 2008 title game. Amherst's Souhegan High scored a 15-7 win.

Both streaks were snapped by teams that nearly won a state title last spring. STA and Concord closed their 2011 campaigns in heartbreaking fashion.

The Saints were four outs from hoisting hardware. Pitching ace and star slugger Jordan Bean -– less than a calendar year before scoring the streak-snapping run -– was tagged for a two-out, two-strike bases-clearing double in the home sixth. It was the critical blow in a four-run inning for the Clippers, 9-6 winners.

The Crimson Tide erased a five-goal halftime deficit and had the chance to tie the championship at 10-apiece with 21 seconds to play. But goaltender Sarah Ford clinched the 10-9 win for the Lancers by stopping Jenna Tewksbury's free-position shot.

Here's how the win streaks came to a halt:

STA rallied for four runs in its last at-bat. Chris White ripped the game-winning single back through the box. White's winner scored Bean, who belted a two-run, game-tying double in addition to scattering eight hits and allowing two earned runs over six frames.

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for the entire Portsmouth program and all that they have accomplished over the past five years. I think this year's victory went a long way to dispel the myth in the minds of our players that we simply cannot beat them,” said STA coach Marc Schoff, whose program entered the showdown 49-15 since 2009, with eight of those losses to the Clippers.

“One of our players said after the St. Thomas game that most people never have the opportunity to set a significant national record once in their lifetime," Hopley said. "But we were fortunate enough to be able to accomplish it twice.”

Concord quickly surrendered four goals, but rebounded to take a 7-5 halftime lead. Late in regulation, Jane Symmes ensured the game's seventh tie didn't materialize. Winning the draw with her team protecting a 12-11 lead, she scored Concord's critical 13th goal.

“They got down, 4-0, at the beginning and that was a wake-up call. After that, they got back into the game and took charge,” Concord coach Terry Anderson told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “This was an intense and competitive game, and the difference was ball control, just getting the draw and making good decisions.”

MORE WITH HOPLEY
What else did Portsmouth's baseball coach say about the national record-setting streak?

On the post-game message after losing: “First, standing in short right field 3 minutes after the game, we told them that it was bound to happen at some point, and that we really did do everything that day to win.

“The next day was the second step, more reflectionary. We told them how proud we were of them for what they had accomplished and for how they handled themselves through everything. It had to be said, and it will be said to every player who's been a part of this crazy ride. But we also reminded them that the seventh game of the season wasn't going to, couldn't, and shouldn't define who we were as a group.”

On winning while in the national spotlight: “The fact that the last two groups had to deal with the circus of media attention was probably fun at the time. But in hindsight, for 15-, 16-, 17-year-old high school kids who have to worry about a Calc test, their girlfriends, and cleaning up their room so mom and dad stop yelling, dealing with something like that is pretty heady stuff.

“And I'm sure we'd all do it again in a minute if we had the chance.”

NOTEWORTHY
– Holly Kathios, a freshman pitcher for the softball team at Nashua's Bishop Guertin High, threw a complete-game no-hitter on May 10. She notched nine strikeouts, worked around three walks, and contributed a fourth-inning RBI single. The Cardinals beat Hampton's Winnacunnet High, 2-0.

– Jake Kennedy, a soon-to-be senior at Amherst's Souhegan High, was nominated for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5, 2013. Offered a scholarship by the University of Massachusetts, the offensive and defensive lineman is one of 400 football players nationwide, and the only one from New Hampshire, to receive a nomination. Ninety players will be selected later this year for the East vs. West matchup televised on NBC.

Marc Thaler is a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He co-hosts the “N.H. Sports Show” on Manchester's WGIR-AM 610 and the Seacoast's 96.7 FM every Saturday morning. Read his “New Hampshire GameDay” blog and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

April, 28, 2012
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In a six-day span, the three teams perched atop the statewide rankings for NHIAA boys' lacrosse – all of them perennial powers in the Granite State – suffered setbacks.

New HampshireNo. 1 Bishop Guertin High of Nashua, No. 2 Pinkerton Academy of Derry, and No. 3 Exeter High actually combined to lose five contests between April 16 and 22.

Bishop Guertin lost just once. But it was the biggest stunner. BG wasn't expected to lose an in-state matchup this spring. The two-time defending Division I champion is extremely talented and very, very deep.

But BG isn't invincible. Hanover High – No. 1 as a result of its 14-9 upset win April 20 – proved it.

“They beat us in two state finals (2007, 2009). Other than Hanover, nobody has beaten us, in New Hampshire, in the playoffs since 2007,” BG coach Chris Cameron said. “There was no reason for us to take them lightly because they're a quality program.”

Cameron's club was without UMass recruit Bob Fahey. BG's shut-down close defender sat out the second half of Guertin's previous game, a 14-8 win at highly ranked Needham (Mass.) High, with an ankle injury.

Guertin's coach, however, didn't use Fahey's absence as an excuse. BG still boasted four other close defenders recruited to play college lacrosse.

The Marauders led at the end of every period. Attackman Alex Krass (two goals, three assists) and midfielder Christian Wolter (four goals, assist) played with purpose. Christian Johansen and Ryan Brigham (11 of 25 faceoff wins) added three goals apiece.

Goaltender James Washington settled down nicely after BG scored the game's first goal in the opening 30 seconds. The senior made 15 saves.

“They were pretty happy. But (their post-game reaction) wasn't like they won the state championship,” said Hanover coach Jeff Reed, whose club from the state's Upper Valley was blasted by BG, 15-3, in the April 10 season-opener at Nashua's Stellos Stadium. “They reacted like it was a big win, but not 'the win.' They know there's a bigger goal at the end.”

No. 2 Pinkerton twice lost to teams known as the Lancers.

The Astros started their three-game week with an 11-9 league loss April 16 at arch-rival Londonderry High. The tough stretch closed with a 14-9 home loss April 21 versus Longmeadow (Mass.) High.

Maintaining focus was an uncharacteristic problem for Pinkerton in both losses.

Furthermore, offensive production almost exclusively came from the attack. Josh Gallant tallied three goals and three assists at Londonderry; Dom Corsetto went for three goals and an assist against Longmeadow.

“Maybe a little of it is conditioning. We could not get our faceoffs in the second half and we could not pick up ground balls,” Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said after the Astros lost to Longmeadow, which erased a 4-1 first-period deficit. “It's the same thing as the Londonderry game.”

Exeter's defeats, in a sense, were understandable. The Blue Hawks, in a four-day span, lost competitive contests to the teams ranked ahead of them: BG (9-6 on April 16) and Pinkerton (8-6 on April 19).

Goaltender Jake Pleadwell (18 saves) stood tall against an early Pinkerton onslaught. Close defenders Jamie Vogt, Joe Moser and Zach Adler also enabled the Seacoast squad to pull within striking distance.

“The fact that we went down to BG, 3-0, and they never quit, and then we were down, 5-1, against Pinkerton and made it a game, it shows their resilience,” Holly said. “That's the one thing you can take out of it.”

Here's one lesson, stressed by BG's coach, that is applicable to every power program:

“There are too many good teams out there,” Cameron said. “We can't just show up and expect to win.”

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
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Plain and simple: You can't have a true conversation about New Hampshire's rich history of hockey unless the discussion includes Berlin High.

New HampshireThe small-school Mountaineers, representing a tight-knit town at the base of the White Mountains, have long competed at the highest level of NHIAA hockey.

“Our community is a hockey community. They love us and support us,” said second-year Berlin coach Mike Poulin, the face of a program that has made 27 championship appearances since 1947 and nine times finished No. 1.

But this season, there was buzz about Berlin for a different reason: the program was making its final go-round in Division I.

The Mountaineers next season will skate in Division III. Poulin cited the program's consistent decline in participation as the reason for such a precipitous drop. Tough economic times in a town long known for its lumber and paper mills hasn't helped.

Berlin's 2011-12 team featured just 20 skaters, including a mere four seniors. Ten skaters played almost every minute of the varsity team's 18 regular-season games.

“It's a numbers thing,” said Poulin, a 1993 Berlin graduate. “Our youth hockey, we have to continue to build. We're only pulling (athletes) from the Berlin area. It's not like we have a co-op school.

“We have a school of (517) students,” he added. “We're pulling kids out of the hallway to play JV, or kids cut from basketball to play JV. It's difficult to turn around and put them in a Division I game.”

Which makes this story, though sobering, remarkable, too.

Poulin's team – led by co-captains Ethan Dorval and Jeremy Rivard – very nearly qualified for the Division I tournament. Berlin's bid to punch the 10th-and-final tourney ticket came down to the regular-season finale Feb. 25 at Salem.

Know this: Berlin won only three of its first 10 contests. Yet it entered Salem's Icenter with a 7-10-0 record.

The Mountaineers extended their late-season win streak to four games Feb. 22. In their final Division I home game at Notre Dame Arena – Senior Night for the co-captains, goaltender Steve Martin and forward Curtis Riendeau – they celebrated a 5-4 decision against playoff-bound Londonderry High.

“Those kids worked super hard in that game. They were down, 2-0, and they battled. They struggled through their year, but they were right in it until the end,” said Londonderry coach Peter Bedford, whose Lancers secured the No. 8 seed, won their first-round game and advanced to the quarterfinals. “That's an attribute everybody should recognize.”

Tournament qualification required Berlin beat Salem for the second time in seven days. The Mountaineers won a 7-6 affair Feb. 18 against the Blue Devils.

Berlin's bubble, however, burst with a 6-0 setback.

Should the six juniors and seven sophomores on this year's roster return next winter, the Mountaineers figure to be very competitive in Division III.

Poulin said he hopes to someday see the Mountaineers again skating in Division I.

He isn't alone.

“I wish them nothing but the best,” Bedford said.

TIMBERLANE TRIUMPHS – AGAIN

Twenty-six-year coach Barry Chooljian said he spent this season guiding his youngest team in some time. Youth, though, didn't hurt the state's premier wrestling program a lick.

Timberlane Regional locked up its ninth straight Meet of Champions crown Feb. 25 at Londonderry. The Plaistow program celebrated its 18th state championship, and 17th title in the past 20 years.

That's a run that dates to 1993.

Ten Owls were place-winners, and nine of them advanced to the championship match in their respective weight classes.

Those efforts fueled the team's 280-point performance. Second-place Manchester Central High earned 134 points.

Four Owls celebrated individual championships. Juniors Adam Corey (120 pounds), Josh Burnham (132) and Harry Denoncourt (182) survived their brackets.

But senior Zach Bridson, a Division I scholarship recruit for Tennessee-Chattanooga, was the big winner. He captured the crown at 113 pounds. The three-time MoC king was also named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.

“Coming out of the Division I championships (Feb. 18), we did really well, but we're so young the question was if we could repeat (the effort),” Chooljian told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “Then we took nine out of 10 matches in the semis and we knew we had it.

“That's hard enough to do in a local tournament,” he added, “let alone the state one.”

So, only one question remains. Can the Owls win their 10th New England championship, and fifth in a row?

They'll have their chance March 2 and 3 at the Providence (R.I.) Career and Technical Center.

SHRINE ROSTER RELEASED

New Hampshire's roster for the 59th annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl was released Feb. 21. The Granite State seeks to extend its series-record win streak against Vermont to 12 games when the teams meet Aug. 4 at Dartmouth College.

All-Stars from the 603 area code include:

Bedford: Jordan Garron, LB; Nate Harrington, DT

Bishop Guertin: Nate Chartrand, SE

Dover: Eric Miller, DT

Epping-Newmarket: Dustin Jarosz, CB

Exeter: Adam Morin, OG; Brad Tiernan, OT

Franklin: Brian Pickowicz, DE

Hanover: Dan Gorman, SE

Hollis/Brookline: Colin Pellerin, S

Inter-Lakes: Conor Donovan, LB

Laconia: Raige Hollis, OG

Lebanon: Alexander Morrill, OG

Manchester Central: Junior Brown, SE; Jared Chandler, Slot

Manchester Memorial: Cody Dalton, DB

Merrimack: Jackson King, Slot; Sam Prive, OT

Milford: Jordan Gaudette, OG

Nashua South: Jon Bieren, OC

Pinkerton: Kevin Davies, TB; Emmitt Smith, Slot

Plymouth: Nick Reisert, DE

Salem: Jerickson Fedrick, TB

Sanborn: Dylan Spence, DB

Souhegan: Tim Beliveau, SE; Chris Chininis, Slot; Rob McCormick, QB

Spaulding: Dillon Couture, DE

Stevens: Cam Blewitt, CB

St. Thomas Aquinas: Tom Cifrino, LB

Timberlane: Evan Bidgood, QB

Trinity: Josh Hughes, LB; Mike Leonard, LB

Winnacunnet: Matt Myers, DT

Marc Thaler is a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He co-hosts the “N.H. High School Sports Show” on Manchester's WGIR-AM 610 and the Seacoast's 96.7 FM every Saturday from 7-9 a.m. Read his “New Hampshire GameDay” blog and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

January, 5, 2012
1/05/12
3:54
PM ET
This had to be Merrimack High's mantra for the holiday tournament season: Why settle for just one title?

New HampshireIn the days after Christmas, the Tomahawks rolled to championships in arguably New Hampshire's top tournaments for boys' basketball and hockey.

The school's Division I hoop team, on the strength of a last-second 3-pointer from star guard Dimitri Floras, won the 48th annual Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament at Manchester Memorial High. The Division II hockey club, thanks to a fourth-round shootout goal from forward Chris Fortin, copped the Bauer Classic crown at Manchester's JFK Coliseum.

Talk about a wild week.

The hockey team's four-day run to the crown was the more surprising story. The reigning state runners-up, the Tomahawks were considered a mystery when the season started shortly before the holiday break. They graduated one of the state's top snipers (Erik Glendye) and said goodbye to their coach (Dan Legro).

They're a mystery no more.

After starting 3-0 in league play, the Tomahawks won four games at JFK. They beat three Division I teams, including defending champion Trinity High of Manchester, 3-1; reigning runner-up and perennial power Hanover High, 4-3 (shootout); and then-No. 1-ranked Memorial, 2-1 (shootout), in the final.

Goaltender Brett Glendye -- who made 45 title-game saves -- was named tournament MVP. Teammate and forward David Downie also earned a spot on the all-tourney team.

"I looked at (the holiday tourney) as a 'prove it' opportunity for the kids," Merrimack coach Kurt Mithoefer said. "Thus far, the kids have proven the naysayers wrong in terms of offensive ability and being a mystery team."

On the hardwood, the Tomahawks ended the feel-good story of the QCIBT.

Floras hit the big bucket that lifted Merrimack a 57-54 win over upstart Manchester West High. The 6-foot 2-inch junior guard -- named the tourney MVP -- drained a lead-changing 3-pointer from the left corner with 7 seconds to play. He finished the contest with 20 points, six assists and four rebounds.

"I missed a lot of easy ones tonight and felt like I let my team down. But I got the one that mattered most, I guess," Floras told the New Hampshire Union Leader after the Dec. 28 title-game win.

Merrimack's path to the title round included wins over Seacoast squads Dover High, 59-51, and Exeter High, 58-39.

But in the high-stakes round, it took a charging violation to clinch the win. Jeff Giannelli, a 6-foot-7 tower, held his ground as West's Jocarl Bureau drove the lane for a potential game-winning layup. The pivotal play came with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

The QCIBT runner-up a year earlier, Merrimack reached the championship game for the ninth time in the last 12 years. This year's title was the program's fourth in that span, and first since a three-peat from 2000-02.

"We played good. But my hats off to West," Merrimack coach Tim Goodridge told the statewide newspaper. "They made it come down to one shot."

(Read full post)

Tags:

Football, Basketball, New Hampshire, New England Roundup, Ice Hockey, Wrestling, Hanover (N.H.), South Kingstown, Manchester West, Manchester Central, Exeter (N.H.), Concord (N.H.), Nolan Cornell, Jerickson Fedrick, Lebanon, Londonderry, Emmitt Smith, Jesse Trottier, Bay View Academy, Kevin Davies, Steve Riker, Manchester Trinity, Barry Chooljian, Zach Bridson, Amra Elezovic, Allie Hartford, Dan Legro, Erik Glendye, Chris Fortin, David Downie, Andrew Lauderdale, Brendan Murphy, Milford (N.H.), Dimitri Floras, Merrimack (N.H.), Dover (N.H.), Windham (N.H.), Chris Anderson, Alexander Morrill, Jimmy Carver, Josh Hughes, Mike Leonard, Aaron Martin, Timberlane Regional, Armond McRae, Dillon Couture, Colin Pellerin, Billy Lane, Anthony Kurylak, Cole Brooker, Scott Priestly, Brad Tiernan, Conor Carrier, Zach Mailloux, Nick Reisert, David Rogers, Tanner Quinney, Dustin Jarosz, Tyler Briand, Riley Leavitt, Travis Smalley, Tyler Zabkar, Kurt Mithoefer, Jeff Giannelli, Jocari Bureau, Tim Goodridge, Rob Markusic, Sam Boivee, Peace Kabari, Mt. Anthony Union, John Houston, Chris Maglaras, Eric Miller, Adam Morin, Jake Pleadwell, Tim Stackhouse, Connor Donovan, Michael Lautenschlager, Dustin Stewart, Raige Hollis, Billy Mahoney, Tyler Veilleux, Brett Liporto, Justin Lozowski, Dan Stacey, Ryan Morris, Dylan Spence, Mike Estes, Tom Cifrino, Evan Bidgood, Efrain Rolon, Matt Myers, Nate Harrington, Nate Chartrand, Ryan Belleville, Dan Gorman, Parker Hausen, Oakley Singer, Will Ansah, Junior Brown, Jared Chandler, Stephen Grzywacz, Sean Collins, Cody Dalton, Jackson King, Sam Prive, Andrew Bellantoni, Jordan Gaudette, Nick Dragon, Austin Bauer, John Bieren, Derek Paradis, Shannon Tucker, Logan Merritt, Tim Beliveau, Chris Chinnis

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