Boston High School: Pat Corbin

Trinity, Central ready for Sunday matinee clash

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18
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For New Hampshire sports fans, it’ll serve as an appetizer before Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

Manchester Central and Trinity of Manchester, widely considered to be the two best high school boys basketball teams the Granite State has to offer, will clash Sunday (1 p.m.) at Trinity’s McHugh Gym. Each team is 5-0, and the winner will have sole possession of first place in the Division I standings.

“It’s nice to be 5-0, but we have a lot of work to do,” said Trinity coach Dave Keefe, who guided the Pioneers to last year’s Division I championship. “We’re still a work in progress.

“I know a lot of people are saying it’s going to be a Central-Trinity final, but I don’t prepare my kids like that. Our goal is to finish in the top four. Central has five kids who can hurt you, not one, two or three like most teams.”

The regular-season matchup between Trinity and Central was originally scheduled for Dec. 17, but the contest was postponed by bad weather. The game began the following night, but was suspended because moisture on the floor at Trinity made playing conditions unsafe.

The game will resume today with the score tied, 13-13, and 2:13 remaining in the first quarter.

Trinity has a clear size advantage. Central will have to contend with Wenyin Gabriel, a 6-foot-7 center; and Carmen Giampetruzzi, a 6-foot-4 forward. Giampetruzzi is headed to Boston College to play baseball.

“Their size is absolutely a concern,” Central coach Doc Wheeler said. “We’re physically smaller than our opponents in most of our games. Slowing down Carmen will be a big deal.

“We share the ball real well and we work real hard, but to be honest we have a lot of things to clean up. That (tournament) game showed both teams what we have to work on. We both have an idea how to do it better.”

The teams also met in the semifinals of the Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament in December. Central received a career-high 38 points from junior guard Brett Hanson and posted a 66-55 victory that night, but the non-league game does not count in the Division I standings.

Keefe called today’s matchup between city rivals the kind of game the players will be talking about when they grow old.

“These are special games,” he said. “It should be fun for the kids.”

COURT CONTROVERSY: Pembroke Academy is appealing the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s ruling that made two of the school’s boys basketball players ineligible for the 2013-14 season.

Rob Wilson, a 6-foot-7 junior, and Adam Presutti, a 6-foot-8 senior, both transferred to Pembroke before the start of the current school year and were practicing with the team until the NHIAA announced its decision in December. The ruling came before Pembroke’s first game.

Wilson played at Londonderry High School last season, and Presutti spent last season at Merrimack Valley in Penacook.

Pat Corbin, the NHIAA’s executive director, said each player violated the NHIAA by-laws regarding transfers.

The NHIAA handbook states that students are not allowed to transfer schools for primarily athletic purposes. If it is deemed that a player does transfer for athletic purposes, the player will be ineligible for 365 days.

“In my judgement there were other issues that did not make either of these an appropriate move,” Corbin said. “I can’t get into specifics because there are now attorneys representing both young men.”

Corbin’s ruling was upheld by an NHIAA eligibility committee, a group that includes principals, athletic directors and coaches from high schools throughout New Hampshire.

“The final level of due process is our appeals board,” Corbin explained. “We’re trying to put something together for next week.”

The controversy stems from the fact that Wilson and Presutti both played for the Granite State Raiders, a Concord-based AAU program run by Frank Alosa. Former Providence College and University of New Hampshire guard Matt Alosa, Frank’s son, is Pembroke’s head coach, and an assistant coach with the Granite State Raiders. Both have heard accusations that they steer their AAU players to Pembroke, but have denied the accusations.

“My dad does coach the older kids in the (AAU) program and I’m in the gym when I can get there to help out,” Matt Alosa said. “It’s not our practice to get kids to move. Whether it’s high school or AAU, I’m here to help the kids get better.”

According to Pembroke Academy headmaster Mike Reardon, both Wilson and Presutti live in the Pembroke Academy school district.

“We’re a school, not an investigative unit, but our process convinced us that both boys are here legitimately,” Reardon said. “They’re not here (just) to play basketball, although basketball is part of their identity.

“Obviously we’re hoping both boys can play this year. That’s why we’re doing this.”

BREAKING BAD: The Timberlane of Plaistow boys basketball program had its losing streak reach 70 games with Friday night’s 58-39 loss to Manchester West.

The West program had lost 22 of its previous 23 Division I games. Its only victory during that span came against Timberlane.

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

Lenahan's legacy draws to close at Plymouth (N.H.)

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
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Chuck Lenahan's 43rd season as Plymouth (N.H.) Regional High School's head football coach will also be his final season as the Bobcats head coach.

New HampshireLenahan, 70, recently made it known that he will step down as the school's football coach and athletic director after the current school year. He's also in his 43rd year as Plymouth's athletic director.

“This is my last year,” Lenahan said. “I'm going to miss it for sure, but this will allow me to go see a lot of games and do a lot of things I haven't done in a while. I haven't seen UNH play in a long time.

“I made up my mind last year. I talked it over with the administration and they said they wanted some notice. I want to go out by doing a good job.”

Lenahan, 70, has twice been named the national high school football coach of the year. He'll enter the 2013 season with a career record of 345-69-1. He collected victory No. 343 last season, which set the record for career victories by a New England high school football coach.

Plymouth won its 19th state championship under Lenahan last season, when he guided the Bobcats to an undefeated season for the 13th time. Plymouth has strung together 46- and 57-game winning streaks during Lenahan's tenure. The latter streak was the longest in the nation in 2010.

“The one thing that stands out to me about Chuck is his attention to detail and his organizational skills,” longtime Plymouth assistant coach Chris Sanborn said. “There's no limit to the amount of time and effort he'll put in.

“He'll do all of the little things – we all do. But he's definitely a guy who leads by example.”

Lenahan, who is also known for his dry sense of humor, is currently a member of the NHIAA football committee. He said that's a position he may retain.

“I'll have to talk that over with (NHIAA executive director) Pat Corbin,” he said.

Lenahan was one of the committee members who helped realign New Hampshire football in the offseason, when the Granite State went from six divisions to three. Plymouth, which had been competing in Division IV, is now one of 20 teams in Division II.

“It's going to be a challenge, but we're looking forward to it,” Lenahan said. “We'll get to play some new teams like Portsmouth. We'll have three state champions this year. That'll make things a lot tougher.”

Lenahan grew up in Mechanic Falls, Maine, and graduated from Plymouth State University. He was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in June.

Lenahan's first Plymouth team finished 0-6-1 in 1971, but he guided the Bobcats to a state title in his second season. Sanborn and Jon Bownes, another Plymouth assistant coach, are among the candidates who could replace Lenahan.

“It's a tremendous school and administration,” Lenahan said. “I'll miss the relationships you have with the coaches and administrators. There's a lot of camaraderie there with the people you work with. One thing I've realized is how lucky I am to coach the kids that I have – that's what I'll miss the most.

”We've had a great run here. It's time to let somebody else do it.”

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, 4, 2013
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Shelby Herrington won her battle with the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association.

New HampshireHerrington, a junior, has played for the Bishop Brady (Concord) boys hockey team for the past two seasons, but the NHIAA ruled that Herrington could no longer skate for the boys team when Bishop Brady formed a cooperative girls team with Trinity High School of Manchester this year.

NHIAA bylaws state: “Interscholastic athletics involving mixed [boys and girls] competition is prohibited except in those instances where the member school does not offer equivalent activities for girls.”

Herrington has been centering Bishop Brady's second line.

Herrington's parents filed a suit against the NHIAA, and on Dec. 19 Merrimack County Superior Court judge Richard McNamara ruled that Herrington could continue to play for the boys team.

At issue is whether or not boys and girls hockey are considered “equivalent activities.” The Bishop Brady girls team doesn't practice as often as the boys team, and the girls team also has many players from Trinity, a school located 20 miles away. The boys teams has no players who do not attend Bishop Brady.

McNamara wrote: “This finding, though, does not lend any support to the [NHIAA's Council Appeal] Board's conclusion that the two teams provide 'equivalent activities' for each gender but, rather, lends support to the opposite conclusion.”

NHIAA executive director Pat Corbin expressed concern with the judge's decision, and the effect it night have on other NHIAA sports. He said the ruling could allow a boy cut from his team to play for a girls team.

“A concern is if this becomes a precedent for all other sports,” Corbin told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “All those things come to light.”

MERRIMACK'S BATTISTA RESIGNS
Joe Battista's five-year tenure as Merrimack High School's head coach ended Dec. 17, when he submitted his letter of resignation. The Tomahawks have a 15-40 record over the last five seasons.

“I feel I gave Merrimack everything I had,” Battista said. “A lot of kids gave me a lot. I just couldn't turn the program into a consistent winner.

“I started thinking about it [resigning] toward the end of the season. I thought it would be best to see what else is out there for me. I'm energized and motivated. I'm really looking forward to seeing what's next. I will be coaching somewhere next year.”

The highlight of Battista's five years with the program came in 2010, when the Tomahawks finished 7-4 and were one victory shy of making the Division II playoffs. Merrimack will compete in Division I next season, when NHIAA football will shrink from six divisions to three.

Merrrimack was 0-11 last season, a season that ended with a 41-14 loss to Souhegan on Thanksgiving. Battista, 42, wasn't on the Merrimack sideline on Thanksgiving for reasons that are still unclear.

“No comment on that,” Battista said. “I left Merrimack on good terms. There are no bitter feelings.”

KERSHAW AMED SHRINE COACH
There was talk that the Mascenic Regional (New Ipswich) football program might fold because of low participation numbers when Ray Kershaw became the team's head coach. Three years later Kershaw had the Vikings in the Division VI championship game.

Kershaw, a 46-year-old Springfield resident, was rewarded for his team's 2012 season by being named New Hampshire's head coach for this summer's Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl. New Hampshire will face Vermont on Aug. 3 at Dartmouth College.

“It was very exciting for me when I found out I'd be New Hampshire's coach,” Kershaw said. “It's a great honor because of what the game is all about.”

Proceeds from the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl benefit Shriners' Hospitals for Crippled and Burned Children.

Both teams will being practicing for this year's game on Aug. 27.

MASCENIC ENDS LOSING STREAK
When the 2012-13 girls basketball season began no player on the Mascenic Regional girls basketball team had won a varsity game.

That changed when Mascenic beat Hillsboro-Deering 41-34 on Dec. 14. The victory ended the program's 94-game losing streak that began in the 2006-07 season. Mascenic has had five head coaches in the last six years.

Sarah Sharp scored a team-high 11 points in the win.

SHERBURNE SELECTS NIAGARA
Jamie Sherburne, a junior on the Bishop Guertin girls' basketball team, recently committed to play college basketball at Niagara University, a Division I program that competes in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

She is the second BG player who has committed to a Division I school. Meghan Green announced last July that she will continue her career at Boston University.

Sherburne and Green helped BG win the program's first state championship last March.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader, and publishes the New Hampshire Football Report: www.nhfootballreport.com.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

October, 28, 2011
10/28/11
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Show of hands: Who's surprised by Spaulding High's success this season on the gridiron?

New HampshireAsk that question in Rochester and, truthfully, throughout New Hampshire. You'll find the team's head football coach is among many with an arm stretched high to the sky.

"Kind of. I didn't think we'd win three in a row," head coach Dennis Fontaine said shortly before his Red Raiders added a fourth straight win to their resume Oct. 21. "For the kids to grasp the new systems on offense and defense, they picked it up quick. They're executing what we showed them."

Those new systems on both sides of scrimmage are the result of Fontaine's appointment to the head coaching post this fall. Spaulding's once-proud program is under new leadership for the second time in as many seasons.

Fontaine is the fifth head coach since 1998, the first season after legendary Hugo Bolin retired with a 198-127-3 career record and five state titles.

The post-Bolin era hasn't been pretty.

Spaulding went 28-107 from 1998-2010, a span that included time in Divisions I and II. The program celebrated just one playoff season in those 13 campaigns. Jim Keays, known for his championship success at Somersworth High years ago, led the '06 Red Raiders to the Division II semifinals.

Considering the coaching turnover and run of football futility, there was nothing in the preseason that indicated Spaulding (4-4 overall, 3-3 Div. II) would compete for the playoffs.

There weren't any signs in September, either.

The Red Raiders went 0-4, including three consecutive setbacks to perennial contenders in league play. They suffered three shutout losses. They were outscored, 125-8.

Then came the turning point. Rather than fight the formula for winning -- from yet another head coach -- the players bought into it.

“They're realizing it's not just a bunch of hot air. They're taking it and applying it on the field,” said Fontaine, previously a longtime assistant for recently retired Rod Wotton, who owns New England's record for career wins (342), and led Maine's Marshwood High and Dover's St. Thomas Aquinas High to a combined 21 state titles.

Spaulding rattled off four straight wins from Sept. 30 to Oct. 21.

The Red Raiders stunned Keene High, 25-17. They whacked Manchester West High, 47-14. They slammed Merrimack High, 39-0, for the program's first shutout win since the '06 season.

Handling Hudson's Alvirne High with ease, 39-13, Spaulding celebrated its first four-game win streak since 1999, when Dave Keller was at the helm.

Fontaine said the turnaround has been a team effort.

There are, however, standouts in the group. The Scott brothers, Tyrone and Trey, are running the football with purpose. Linemen Dillon Couture and Ben Lafond are providing push up front.

Safety Nate Zriny “is playing fantastic defense,” Fontaine said. “He'll play anything for us. He'll play nose tackle if we ask him to.”

Fontaine's gridders have two regular-season games remaining, though they close their league slate Oct. 28 at Hugo Bolin Field against Plaistow's Timberlane Regional.

A win for the Red Raiders earns them the No. 3 playoff seed.

Surely, Fontaine is excited by his squad's stunning second half to the season. Right?

“Yes and no. I've been there before from prior coaching. You can't get too excited in front of the kids,” he said. “We just do our normal practice, work on what we need to do on offense and defense.”

Spoken like one very focused head football coach.

(Read full post)

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