Boston High School: Merrimack

New Hampshire football preview

August, 14, 2013
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.”

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.
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).

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

January, 18, 2013
We're more than a month into the Division 1 boys basketball season, and you'd have to dig deep into the league standings before you found a team not capable of winning this year's state championship.

New HampshireEntering Friday night's schedule eight teams are above .500, and all of them seem to have legitimate title hopes.

“Obviously some teams are better than others right now, but there are quite a few teams that could put things together by the end of the year and they could be real dangerous,” Salem coach Rob McLaughlin said. “I see a lot of teams that could cause problems.”

Even Manchester Central (7-0) and Trinity (6-0) – the only unbeaten teams in league play – have a non-league loss against a Division I opponent. Trinity lost to Central in the Queen City Invitational, and Central lost to Manchester Memorial in the same tournament.

Memorial (5-1) is one of four teams with one loss. That group includes Bishop Guertin (6-1), Nashua South (6-1) and Spaulding (6-1). Merrimack (4-2) and injury-plagued Winnacunnet (4-3) round out the top eight.

“Right now I'd have to say Trinity and Central are the two best teams,” said McLaughlin, who has faced five of the top eight teams in the standings. “At least they're the best teams we've played. Then there are a bunch of teams that aren't that far behind.”

No NHIAA hockey team is playing better than Salem, which is 6-0-1 since opening the season with a 1-0 loss to Bishop Guertin. The Blue Devils stretched their winning streak to five games when they beat Exeter 6-1 Saturday.

Salem has been winning with defense. Goaltender Nick Phair has a 1.16 goals-against average – the lowest among Division I goalies – and a .949 save percentage in 233 minutes. Cody Soucy (nine points) and Jake Pappalardo (seven points) lead the offense.

The Blue Devils have outscored their opponents, 29-11.

Rosters for the second CHaD New Hampshire East-West All-Star Football Game were released earlier this month. This year's game will be played June 29 at the University of New Hampshire's Cowell Stadium, and will benefit Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (ChaD).

Former Manchester Central coach Jim Schubert will coach the West, and former Concord coach Bob Camirand will serve as the East's head coach. The East roster includes five players from Division I champion Exeter and five from Division I runner-up Pinkerton Academy of Derry.

“As is the case with any all-star game there are some people who are worthy who won't be selected,” Camirand said. “We looked at people who were familiar with the 4-4 defense and running the football from under center out of the Wing-T or the Double-Wing, which is what I hang my hat on.

“The Pinkerton kids and the Exeter kids are familiar with the offense we'll be running so it makes for an easy transition.”

The West won the inaugural game, 44-12, last summer.

“This is an all-star game,” Schubert said. “These are the best senior players in New Hampshire in the eyes of the coaches.”

West players:
David Cannone (RB/LB) Bedford; James Capparell (QB) Bedford; Brian Collins (WR/OLB) Bedford; Dylan York (RB/DB) Bedford; Blake Boudreau (FB/LB) Bishop Guertin; Nick Marino (RB/DB) Bishop Guertin; Seth Gosse (OL/DL) Concord; Tolbert Nemo (RB) Concord; Kody Benwell (FB/TE/LB) Franklin; Nathan Grevior (OT/DT) Franklin; Connor Benjamin (QB/RB/WR) Goffstown; Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris (WR/S) Hanover; Mitch Frick (WR/CB) Hollis/Brookline; Lucas Luopa (QB/DB) Keene; Dylan Drew (RB/LB/DE) Lebanon; Zach Hileman (C/DL) Manchester Central; Troy Pelletier (WR/DB) Manchester Central; Pierre Noel (WR/S) Manchester Memorial; Jared Ombati (RB/DB) Manchester Memorial; Zach Ziemba (QB/DB) Manchester West; Chris Sanborn (TE/DE/MLB) Mascoma; Joe Albina (RB/LB) Milford; Nick Patterson (G/LB) Monadnock; Mike Lynch (OT/DT) Nashua North; Deric Wagner (TE/RB/LB/DE) Nashua North; Stephen Choate (WR) Nashua South; Christian Stack (OL) Nashua South; Matt Tremblay (RB/OL/LB) Newport; Brandon Goodale (FB/HB) Plymouth; Chase Wyman (OG/DT) Plymouth; Tyler Ford (QB/WR/DB) Souhegan; Jake Kennedy (OT) Souhegan; CJ Gosselin (OT/LB) Stevens; Colin Bouchard (OL/DL) Trinity; Ryan Carrier (FB/DL/LB) Trinity; Romeo Masuku (RB/WR/LB/DB) Trinity; Russ Pallas (OL/DL) Trinity.

West coaches:
Jim Schubert (head coach), Mike Bombardier, Eric Brown, Dante Laurendi, Jimmy Lauzon, Paul Lavigne, Bob Leclair, Gerry Tautkus.

East players:
Matt Dow (OL/DL) Dover; Kyle Seawards (RB/WR/DB) Dover; Eric Wilson (TE/LB) Dover; Zach Bosen (TE/DT) Exeter; Tyler Grant (HB/TB/SS) Exeter; Logan Laurent (P/K) Exeter; Jamie Vogt (HB/LB) Exeter; Jameson Whiteley (TE/OLB) Exeter; Conor McDonald (LB) Kennett; David Mahoney (RB/LB) Laconia; Graham Nyhan (TE) Laconia; Troy Ward (FB/DE) Londonderry; Chadd Loring (C/DL) Pelham; Chris Ford (OG/DT) Pembroke; Jake Bernaiche (G/DL) Pinkerton; David Hansen (G/LB) Pinkerton; Chris St. Onge (HB/QB/S) Pinkerton; Matt St. Onge (FB/LB) Pinkerton; Brett Stuart (HB/DB) Pinkerton; Dillon Crosby (RB/OLB) Portsmouth; Rick Holt (DT) Portsmouth; Kurtis Leonard (C/DE) Portsmouth; Drew Francoeur (QB/DB) Somersworth; Tyler Kretschmar (OL/DE) Somersworth; Kyle Hall (OL/DL) Spaulding; Ryan Monette (RB/WR/CB/S) St. Thomas; Joe Richard (G/LB) St. Thomas; Joshua David (RB/WR/DB) Timberlane; Ryan McCarthy (WR/DB) Timberlane; Danny Cannone (RB/TE/OLB/DE) Windham; Kevin Cooney (FB/OLB/DE) Windham; Joe Lorenz (QB/S) Windham; Jordan Cutting (G/OT/NG) Winnacunnet; Christian Dyer (OT/DT) Winnacunnet; Ben Franzoso (RB) Winnacunnet; Ben Gareau (WR/DB) Winnacunnet; Mason Taylor (G/OL) Winnisquam.

East coaches:
Bob Camirand (head coach), Peter Bergeron, Dave Bernaiche, Dan Fallon, Dave Malay, Ken Sciacca.

Zach Sanford, who helped Pinkerton Academy win the 2012 Division I ice hockey championship, was among the players listed on the NHL Central Scouting Bureau's mid-term rankings, which were released on Jan. 15.

Sanford, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound forward, was listed at No. 83. He is currently playing for the EJHL's Islanders Hockey Club, and had three goals and 15 assists through 24 games.

Sanford, an Auburn resident, had 69 points in 21 games last season – he collected at least one point in every game -- and collected a goal during Pinkerton's 3-2 triumph over Manchester Memorial in the Division I championship game.

Senior Frank Stanley became the seventh Epping High School boys basketball player to score 1,000 career points when he tossed in 25 during a 66-29 victory over Wilton-Lyndeborough on Jan. 11.

Stanley, an undersized center, finished the game with 1,001 career points.

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

Laxachusetts announces latest commitments

September, 18, 2012
The Laxachusetts lacrosse club has seen a group of its 2013 and '14 players give college commitments during the last week.

Here's a look at the team members and their college destinations:

Class of 2013
Brendan Altieri, Norwood - Skidmore

Brendan Fitzgerald, Duxbury - Beloit

Jon Gomer, Duxbury - Sacred Heart (Will PG at Brewster Academy)

Conor Hilton, St. Sebastian's - Providence College

Andrew Melvin, Medfield - Bates

Bobby O’Brien, Duxbury - Merrimack

Class of 2014
Shane Rinkus, Dexter - UMass

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

October, 13, 2011
The Little Green cross country machine didn't take long to hit high gear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

August, 2, 2011
Among golfers his age, who's better than Keene's Chelso Barrett?

New HampshireNobody in New Hampshire, that's for sure.

Nearing the start of his junior year at Keene High, Barrett finished runner-up at the 64th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship from July 18-23. The 16-year-old's sensational run in Bremerton, Wash., ended with a 6-and-5 setback in the tournament's 36-hole final at Gold Mountain Golf Club.

Barrett's dream finish on the 7,111-yard, par-72 Olympic Course was denied by Dallas 17-year-old Jordan Spieth, also the 2009 champion.

“It was disappointing coming in second. But at the same time, it was really big because I got (three) exemptions for USGA events in the future,” Barrett said from Fort Wayne, Ind., on the eve of the Junior PGA Championship Aug. 2-5. “I lost the tournament, but it wasn't really a loss.”

Spieth last year eliminated Barrett in the Round of 64. This summer, the Texas teenager became just the second golfer in the championship's history to win multiple titles. He joined Tiger Woods, a three-peat junior amateur champ from 1991-93.

Securing a spot in the final required Barrett bump considerable competition from the bracket. Taking lessons last February from Craig Shankland at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., paid off.

In just his second Junior Amateur, Barrett started strong. He carded a 36-hole, 1-under-par 143 (69-74) during stroke play. It lifted him to the Round of 64, where the tourney's format turned to match play.

Andrew Bonner of Ripon, Calif., was the first foe Barrett sent packing. The final score was 1-up.

The next win really fueled the teen's momentum.

Barrett defeated defending champion Jim Liu, 2-up. The Smithtown, N.Y., native was attempting to join Woods as the only other repeat king.

“After he beat the defending champion, I was shocked,” said Chelso's father, Hugh, New Hampshire's 1980 state amateur champ. “It's done so much for him. He was basically unknown (in major college golf) before that.”

But the upset was an attention-grabber. Barrett, whose surname is well known at Keene's Bretwood Golf Course, ousted Liu with birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.

The first of those back-to-back birdies applied the pressure. Barrett sank a 6-foot putt after striking a wonderful approach from 165 yards.

The second birdie cemented Barrett's victory. Liu needed a final-hole win to extend the bout. His tee shot proved troublesome, however, forcing him to concede No. 18.

“Basically, my bad shots weren't that bad,” Barrett said of the key to his near-No. 1 finish. “I didn't hit it great in the finals, but up until that point, I hit it solid. I kept the ball in play.”

He beat William Zalatoris of Plano, Texas, 2-and-1, in the Round of 16. Thus, he met his goal to reach the Round of 8.

Then, he exceeded personal expectation. He beat William Starke of Chapin, S.C., 1-up, in the quarterfinals.

He also beat Colombia's Nicholas Echavarria in 19 holes to survive the semifinals.

In the final, Barrett built a 2-up lead through two holes. But a double-bogey on No. 3 combined with Spieth's birdie on No. 6 squared the match.

Spieth took his second lead by winning the 13th hole. He didn't trail again.

Losing to Spieth, competing in his last junior event, wasn't a complete downer for Barrett. Advancing to the final match earned him exemptions to the 111th U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 22-28 in Erin, Wisc., and next year's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship July 9-14 in Midway, Utah.

But he's most excited about the third exemption – earned by achieving his goal to make the quarterfinals cut.

He's assured a spot in next year's Junior Amateur, which takes place July 16-21 at the Golf Club of New England.

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

June, 13, 2011
The resume: Seven consecutive appearances in the Division I boys' lacrosse final.

The crown count: Four.

The program celebrating those staggering statistics: Nashua's Bishop Guertin High.

New HampshireGuertin tightened its grip on the sport June 8 with a first-time feat for the program. Coach Chris Cameron and his Cardinals clinched their second straight title with an 11-8 win.

“This one feels good,” said Cameron, whose team finished 14-1 in league play. “This one feels good.”

Success was indeed sweet, considering second-seeded BG beat its fiercest rival. Top-seeded Pinkerton Academy of Derry entered the tournament final undefeated (20-0 overall) and perfect in NHIAA finals since 1997 when boasting an unblemished record (3-0).

Roughly 1,500 fans filed in to Stellos Stadium for the much-anticipated matchup played in extreme humidity. The final marked the fourth time BG and Pinkerton fought to finish No. 1 since 2005.

BG now owns a 3-1 record in those colossal clashes.

What prepared BG's young and inexperienced squad for this giant win? Try six grueling out-of-state games that left the team linked to an uncharacteristic 0-6 record.

Cameron annually schedules the most unforgiving non-league schedule of any team playing NHIAA lacrosse. After his team topped No. 3 seed Hanover High in the semifinals, 15-6, the eighth-year coach said this spring's out-of-state slate was the toughest to date.

The Cards lost to Massachusetts squads Lexington (6-4), Needham (14-11), Cohasset (7-4) and Duxbury (15-3). New Jersey's St. Joseph Metuchen (11-3) and Rhode Island's La Salle Academy (6-5) also beat BG.

There was also an 8-7 loss to the Astros, which snapped BG's 48-game regular-season win streak against in-state foes. Guertin had as many losses this spring (seven) as the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons combined.

Shut-down junior defenseman Bob Fahey said team confidence took a hit. But the losses served a purpose.

“It got us ready for this exact game, right here,” said Fahey, who has already committed to UMass. “Coach Cameron gives us that great out-of-state schedule to get ready for these games.”

Cameron's club took control of the final after halftime. The teams took the field for the third quarter knotted at 6-apiece.

BG's midfield- and close-defense – operating without defensive slides – caused all kinds of problems for Pinkerton. Fahey, Kyle Karaska and Jay Krzyston forced the Astros to shoot from the perimeter. Long-stick midfielder Brody Smith locked off lanes to the cage. Colin Delea (14 saves) made the necessary stops between the pipes.

“You've got to give credit to them,” said Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly, noting his offensive-minded club was contained to four goals in 6-on-6 play. “It's not like we were missing the cage. It's just the shots didn't seem to be there.”

(Read full post)

Tewksbury's Arcari signs with Merrimack

May, 10, 2011
Tewksbury three-sport star Anthony Arcari has signed a National Letter of Intent to play both football and indoor/outdoor track and field at Merrimack College starting next fall, his father wrote in an email to tonight.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Arcari ran for 700 yards and 13 touchdowns this season for the Redmen, and was a two-time Merrimack Valley Conference All-Star at running back. On the track, he has established himself as one of New England's fastest sprinters, holding the school record in the 55-meter dash as well as capturing the MVC title. Last spring, he placed second in the state in Division 2 for the 100, and took fourth overall in the same event at New England's.

Regarded for his speed, Arcari garnered varying degrees of interest from several Division 1 FCS schools before settling on the Division 2 Warriors. He has run the 100 in as fast as 10.8 seconds; last summer at the Reebok All-American Showcase in Canton, he reportedly ran a hand-timed, 4.36-second, 40-yard dash.

At Merrimack, he will run sprint events in the winter and spring, and will push for time at running back, safety and returner during football season.

Westford's Ingalls commits to Merrimack

March, 30, 2011
Westford Academy senior running back/linebacker Zach Ingalls has committed to Merrimack College for the fall of 2011, he wrote in an email to

Ingalls was a two-time captain for the Grey Ghosts, who went 15-7 over the last two seasons and won the Dual County League's Large Division title in 2009.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

March, 25, 2011
Gatorade's Granite State Player of the Year can sum up his team's season in 10 words.

New Hampshire“Despite our lack of size, we were the bigger opponent,” said 6-foot 5-inch senior Connor Green, a season-long stat sheet stuffer for Nashua's Bishop Guertin High.

Case in point: the Division I boys' basketball final March 19 at UNH's Lundholm Gym. Top-seeded BG overcame a significant height disadvantage to top Manchester's Trinity High, the No. 2 seed, 54-46.

Green, who transferred from Division II Bedford High after his sophomore season, didn't disappoint in the final. He shook off a cold first half from the field to finish with 22 points and 11 rebounds. The double-double was his 21st of the season. BG closed its campaign 20-2.

Senior-laden and pegged as the preseason favorite, the Cardinals erased a two-point halftime deficit. They also erased the memory of last year's semifinal setback, in the process clinching the school's first hoop crown since 1983.

The championship pairing marked the first all-Catholic school final in the tournament's 89-year history.

BG opened the playoffs with a 63-50 win over No. 16 seed Concord High. Guertin punched its ticket to UNH with a tough 62-59 quarterfinals decision against No. 8 seed Spaulding High of Rochester.

The team treated its return trip to the college campus with a businesslike mentality.

“We had to be totally ready to play. We knew we had to play smarter,” fourth-year BG coach Jim Migneault said of the lesson learned from the previous Final Four appearance. “Both games up at Durham this year, we were very smart. I thought we played within ourselves the whole time.”

(Read full post)

Oakmont QB Bakanowsky signs with Merrimack

March, 22, 2011
Oakmont Regional senior quarterback Luke Bakanowsky has signed a Letter of Intent with Division 2 Merrimack College.

Bakanowsky, a 6-foot-1, 188-pounder, led the Spartans to a Division 3 Central Mass Super Bowl appearance this past fall, where they lost to Narragansett Regional in a 36-35 thriller. Bakanowsky was also garnering interest from several Division 1 FCS schools at the time of his signing, including UMass, Delaware, Bryant, Rhode Island and Sacred Heart.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

February, 9, 2011
Mike Kelly's dream of playing Division I college football turned nightmarish before the high school campaign built any momentum.

New Hampshire“When it happened (last September), I got down. Like anyone else would,” Kelly said of the Week 2 foot injury that ended his senior season for Nashua's Bishop Guertin High, the eventual Division II three-peat champion. “It just didn't seem possible.”

Nor did this: Verbally accepting a partial scholarship offer on Jan. 27 to play football for the University of New Hampshire, which competes in the Football Championship Subdivision's super-competitive Colonial Athletic Association.

“Knowing most colleges go off senior tape, I didn't think it would be enough for colleges to assess me,” said the 5-foot 9-inch, 176-pound talent, a projected slot receiver, kick- and punt-returner, and possible cornerback for the Wildcats. “I was nervous about that. In one game, to seemingly have (my dream) taken away, it was a hard thing to come to grips with.”

Good thing Kelly, a Merrimack resident, enjoyed a career contest in the season-opener. Guertin routed defending Division I champ Salem, the heavy preseason favorite to repeat, 48-21.

Kelly was impossible to contain.

The top weapon in BG's spread-option attack totaled 310 yards of offense and five touchdowns. His 17 carries generated 193 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 117 yards, including a 65-yard catch-and-run TD on the season's first play from scrimmage.

Running a crossing pattern toward the left sideline, Kelly snared in stride Steve Cuipa's 20-yard toss and hit high gear. He burned past Salem's secondary for the final 45 yards.

It was vintage Kelly, who a year earlier scored three touchdowns in Guertin's Division II title-game clincher.

“He's gifted. He's got tremendous speed. And on the football field, speed is everything,” BG athletics director and head football coach Tony Johnson said, noting Kelly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds before injuring his foot. “(UNH coaches) looked at his ability to change directions, excel quickly, sustain speed for a long period of time. They were interested in him in spring of his junior year.”

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

January, 12, 2011
Watching game film Sunday night allowed Dan Legro to analyze his undefeated team with nearly one-third of the boys' hockey season now history.

New HampshireMerrimack High's fourth-year coach, during a brief break from studying tape, discussed why his team is 5-0 in Division II.

“You can beat a team that's better than you, if you refuse to lose for 45 minutes,” Dan Legro said. “I think it's a mental thing.”

Mental toughness certainly fueled the team's two league wins since returning from the holidays.

Far from sharp at winless Bedford High on Jan. 6, the Tomahawks worked a 4-3 comeback victory at St. Anselm College's Sullivan Arena. Legro said his team was lucky to beat the first-year Division II Bulldogs.

Yet the real eye-opener took place two days later.

Merrimack hosted perennial power and preseason favorite Dover High, then 3-1, at Manchester's West Side Arena on Jan. 8. The Tomahawks orchestrated a 3-2 overtime win.

The score alone, however, doesn't do Merrimack's most recent win justice. It's all about the details.

Legro's boys twice trailed by a goal. That put the pressure on Merrimack to keep its deficit from doubling. Dover entered the matchup with per-game averages of 5.5 goals scored and two tallies allowed.

Standout senior Erik Glendye (team-high 13 points) twice set up Merrimack's equalizing goals by classmate Casey Bourque and junior Chris Fortin. Glendye also buried the game-winner just 2 minutes, 32 seconds into OT. Glendye's sophomore sibling, Brett, stopped 35 shots in net.

There's more.

Legro carries 18 skaters, including three goaltenders, on his varsity roster. Under ideal circumstances, that leaves him with 15 skaters to call upon.

Injuries reduced the coach's depth chart to 12 skaters for the matchup with Dover. First-line center Chris Kinney, who's second on the team in points, did not play.

But wait. There's still more.

Tapping into his team's mental toughness and superb conditioning, Legro shortened his bench after the first period.

He played only three defensemen – Bourque, and juniors David Downie and Rutger Tupper – for the second period, third period and OT.

He played six forwards in that same span. Glendye, Fortin, sophomore Dom Valluzzi and freshman Connor Powell were mainstays on the ice. Senior Marcus Poudrette and freshman Mark Feeney split time.

Considering Merrimack is the league's lone remaining unbeaten, has it sent a message?

“I don't know,” Legro said. “We just happened to win five games. We have a lot of improvements to make."

One such area is the power play. Merrimack is capitalizing with less frequency than last year's team that opened with seven straight wins.

And as the Tomahawks move closer to matching last season's strong start, Legro is preaching the need to play with even greater focus. Despite starting 7-0 last winter, the 'Hawks finished 11-7. They were a first-round playoff casualty.

“Our goal is to be playing in the Verizon,” Legro said, referring to Manchester's Verizon Wireless Arena, site of the Division II title game. “Right now, I don't see us as a championship team. Yet.”

The boys' basketball team at Jaffrey's Conant High rarely loses. That's what made the team's 47-43 Jan. 7 setback at Mascoma Valley Regional of Canaan such a shocker.

It snapped Conant's 46-game league win streak.

The five-time defending Division III champion Orioles last lost to a league rival in the season-opener of the 2008-09 campaign. Stevens High of Claremont ended Conant's state-record 63-gamer.

Katie Cullerot, a senior guard for the girls' basketball team at John Stark Regional of Weare, connected for her 1,000th career point on Jan. 4. She needed just four points and recorded them all in the first quarter of her team's 58-23 Division II home win over Pembroke Academy.

Stark's 21-year coach, Wayne Thomson, said Cullerot joined Beth Chartier (Class of 1993) and Justine Nims (2004) as the program's 1,000-point scorers.

“Katie had over 200 points as a freshman and she averaged 350 her next two years,” Thomson said. “All three (1,000-point scorers) played pretty good roles as freshman. I think you need to do that these days to get to 1,000 points.”

Set to play women's hoop at Assumption College, Cullerot first sank two free throws. She hit quadruple figures for her career with an “And 1” bucket resulting from a baseline drive.

Prior to Stark (4-2) playing in a holiday hoop tournament, Thomson knew Cullerot needed 52 points to reach the magic mark. He said she closed within 16 points during Stark's third game of the tourney.

As she moved closer, Thomson brought the matter to the team. The options were to let Cullerot reach 1,000 points on the road or pull her from the game and celebrate at home.

The vote was unanimous.

“You have to be pretty consistent for four years,” Thomson said of the formula for scoring 1,000 points. “You have to be good enough to get quality playing time – and score.”

Plenty of basketball teams like to push the pace. But the boys' squad at Goffstown High is hitting another gear altogether.

The Division II Grizzlies (4-1) are averaging 93.8 points per league win. In their four victories, they twice cracked 100-plus points in regulation.

They beat ConVal Regional of Peterborough, 102-65, in the Dec. 17 season opener. They beat Hanover, 108-94, on Jan. 7. They also netted 101 points in a holiday tourney win over Kennett of Conway.

Here's what makes Goffstown's point production most impressive: Regulation games are just 32 minutes (8-minute quarters).

That means the Grizzlies are netting a shade more than three points per minute.

“It goes back to the Loyola Marymount days in the 1980s,” said second-year Goffstown coach Justin Gorham, a 20-year hoop mentor from California. “It's one pass, two passes and shoot. You're taking as many shots as you can get. We try to get 80 to 90 shots a game.”

Eleven Grizzlies earn playing time in the fast-paced system Gorham installed this season. Goffstown, which dropped from Division I, doesn't have much height. But it has plenty of scorers.

Seniors Alex Wageling and Ryan Lange, junior Connor Shaw, and sophomore Jake Mount average double-figures in Gorham's high-octane offense.

“Everybody gets to play and everybody gets to shoot. Everybody gets a green light,” Gorham said. “Our goal is to run everybody down and outscore you.”

The graduation of three-time Gatorade New Hampshire Player of the Year Tiffany Ruffin (Boston College) and fellow Division I women's college hoop recruit Emily Siegart (St. Francis), along with several other key contributors, certainly hasn't slowed Winnacunnet.

Hampton's four-time defending Division I girls' basketball champion continues to win – and win big.

The Warriors are 6-0 in league play. Their average margin of victory is 23.8 points.

All told, the Warriors have won a state-best 54 consecutive NHIAA games.

Returning starter Samantha Corcoran, a 6-foot senior forward, is fueling Winnacunnet's continued dominance. Corcoran and Kirsten O'Neil are averaging double figures.

In a span of four days, the Division I boys' hockey team at Trinity High of Manchester recorded two wild wins. Tyler Theodoulou contributed mightily to the back-to-back improbable comebacks.

Trinity's junior forward scored the game-winning goals in both contests.

The Pioneers stunned Salem, 2-1, on Jan. 5. Joe Libby's point-blank shot knotted the game with 5.3 seconds remaining in regulation. Theodoulou delivered the dagger with a redirected shot in OT.

Then, on Jan. 8, the Pioneers erased Nashua North's three-goal lead in the game's final 6 minutes and won, 6-5, in OT.

Libby pulled his club within 4-2. Theodoulou struck for three goals that gave Trinity a 5-4 edge with 90 seconds to play. North netted the equalizer, but Theodoulou struck for his fifth goal of the game in the extra session.

Did the Pioneers use a season's worth of good fortune in those games?

"I don't think of it that way," Trinity coach Mike Connell said. "I think of it in terms of the team finding ways to win, which will help us down the road. We can call on (these experiences) when needed. But I hope we don't need it too often this season."

Marc Thaler is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News and He can be reached at

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

September, 29, 2010
When Smith Center, Kan., lost last year's Class 2-1A title game, the nation's longest active win streak in high school football instantly became property of New Hampshire's Plymouth Regional.

New HampshireSmith Center was tackled in overtime, ending the program's 79-game run. And Plymouth – two weeks earlier crowned a champion for the 18th time – inherited pressure previously placed upon the Redmen.

But, after five consecutive 11-0 championship campaigns and two more wins to open this season, Plymouth's state-record run ended at 57 games. Kennett High of Conway, a decided underdog at home, snapped the streak with a shocking 20-9 Week 3 win on Sept. 17.

“We didn't play very well. That's not a trademark (of Plymouth football),” said Plymouth head coach Chuck Lenahan, whose program's previous state-record 46-game win streak was also snapped by Kennett, a 6-0 winner in the 2004 season's third week.

“We felt we had the kids that matched up well with those guys,” first-year Kennett head coach Mike Holderman, an assistant on last year's team that was Plymouth's state-record-breaking 47th straight victim, told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “We believed we were stronger.”

Lengthy win streaks aside, Lenahan's Bobcats are best known for playing disciplined, mistake-free football.

Four turnovers and nearly 100 yards in penalties, however, prevented a 58th straight victory.

“Everything that could go wrong did. Nothing came together for us. Kennett had a lot to do with it. They certainly deserved to beat us that day. It would've been nice to play them better,” said Lenahan, whose team lost at Trinity High of Manchester, 39-6, in Week 4, marking the first losing streak for the small-school powerhouse since 1991.

Plymouth's 57-game run spanned three seasons in Division III (2005-07) and two-plus years in Division IV (2008-present). Two wins, in particular, stand out.

Lenahan & Co. beat Laconia, 14-7, in the 2008 Division IV title game. Clinching the crown required the host Bobcats to erase a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit in the final eight minutes at muddy Zoulias Field.

But Plymouth's “free kick” win at Souhegan High of Amherst in 2007 may top the list.

Trailing by a point with 10 seconds to play, the Bobcats called for a fair catch on Souhegan's punt. An obscure rule allowed the Bobcats to attempt a game-winning 47-yard field goal using a kick-off tee.

Souhegan's defense, forced 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, couldn't pressure the kick.

Kyle Underwood split the uprights, lifting Plymouth to the 11-9 win.

“We had some great games,” said Lenahan, who, in his 40th season at Plymouth, owns a career record of 322-65-1 and the most New Hampshire high school football wins in state history. “You have to be a little lucky. But it's a lot of hard work.”

For all the drama packed into those wins, Plymouth mostly pummeled foes during the streak. The average margin of victory in the 57 games was 26.2 points.
Such dominance wasn't universally celebrated across the state. When Plymouth moved down a division for the 2008-10 classification cycle, the program and streak became hotly debated topics.

Plymouth competes in the appropriate league based on the school's student enrollment, which Lenahan, also the athletics director, said was 714 as of Sept. 20. For some time, though, Plymouth has fielded teams considered vastly superior, in talent and coaching, to opponents of comparable school size.

The proof: From 2000-09, the Bobcats went 106-3 with nine undefeated championship seasons split between Divisions III and IV.

Why not seek a tougher challenge?

“We're right where we should be (based on enrollment),” said Lenahan. “We're pretty happy with what we are.

“I know a lot of people use words like 'Pride and Tradition,'” he added, referring to Plymouth's signature phrase. “But that takes a lot of time and hard work to build. A lot of intangibles go into it.”

Granite State cross country runners dominated the varsity races at the 35th annual Manchester Invitational, which draws many of the Northeast's top talents, on Sept. 25. Five of the six 5K (3.1-mile) races at Derryfield Park were won by local athletes.

Jeff LaCoste, a senior at Nashua's Bishop Guertin High, won the elite boys' race. He was the only runner to record a sub-16 minute time (15-minutes, 53 seconds). Chloe Maleski, a senior at Keene High, placed first in the elite girls' race (18:30).

Merrimack High junior John Conlin topped the field in the boys' large school run (16:17). Exeter High senior Kelsey Smith earned the win in the girls' large school event (18:42).

Marina Slavin, a senior at Durham's Oyster River High, posted a winning time of 18:30 in the girls' small school race. Hopkinton High won the girls' small school team title with 74 points, well ahead of second-place Hanover High (112 points) and 20 other schools.

Golf will soon crown champions in Divisions I, II and III. Postseason tournaments for each tier tee off Sept. 30 at courses throughout the state.

Bretwood Golf Course of Keene hosts the Division I competition. Paced by sophomore Chelso Barrett, top-seeded Keene High (27-0) has the luxury of playing on its home turf.

Bedford High (22-0) is the team to beat in Division II. Standout senior Jake Nutter and the Bulldogs seek to top the leaderboard at Concord's Beaver Meadow Golf Course.

In Division III, Moultonborough Academy (23-0), Gilford (22-0) and Mascenic Regional of New Ipswich (21-0) take perfect records to Owl's Nest Resort and Golf Club in Campton.

Defending Division I champion Exeter High improved to 9-0 in girls' soccer with its 7-2 win on Sept. 28. The team used a different starting lineup in every match.

“What's leading to our success is the depth of our team,” said 10th-year Exeter coach Megan Curran, who guided the Blue Hawks to Class L crowns in 2006, 2007 and 2009. “We go about 15 (players) that can start on any given night. Whoever performs gets that starting role.”

In the nine contests, the Blue Hawks outscored the opposition, 28-6. The champs allowed more than two markers just once.

First-year goalkeeper Micaela Janowski, a senior, is making the routine and difficult saves. Classmates and defenders Alison Wilson, Anna Grant and Connie Boutilier help limit quality scoring chances for the competition.

Center-midfielder and four-year varsity contributor Ally George is the catalyst on offense. Sophomores Aby Short (team-high eight goals) and Aly Day (six goals) consistently finish on the attack.

The best part of Exeter's start? Five of the team's first nine wins were by one goal.

“That's always good, to see the type of character a team has. Pressure situations make you grow a little faster,” said Curran. “You don't learn much from killing a team. I do think it'll help us out in the long run.”

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