Boston High School: Pelham (N.H.)

N.H. football squads eye postseason play

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
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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.

Pelham's Kearney making mark on pitch and gridiron

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
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PELHAM, N.H. –- Harley Kearney's feet have had a hand in many of his successes.

The senior at Pelham High is a star of on the Python's soccer team with a team-record 26 goals so far this season. He's also the starting kicker for Pelham's undefeated football team and has converted on all but two of his kicks this season.

How does he handle it? With a smile, and coaches that are willing to let his skills flourish.

“Last year I couldn't [kick for both sports],” Kearney said. “This being my senior year though I said why not.”

Kearney practices full-time with the soccer team and only puts on the shoulder pads during games. Football coach Ryan Clark said that Kearney is embraced by his team even though he doesn't practice with them full time. He said everyone's happy because Kearney's an extra weapon on the field.

“A single kid didn't make an extra point at tryouts,” Clark said. “When Harley shows up and is banging them from 40 yards everyone's like 'we're all good'. Everyone knows him from school so there's no issues whatsoever.”

Soccer coach Matt Miller said he was fine with Kearney going out for football, as long as he didn't stick his nose into the pile.

“All I thought was as long as you don't try to make a tackle or get hurt you can do that and get the most out of your senior year,” Miller said.

Soccer, by his own admission, is Kearney's first love. Having played the game his entire life Kearney developed a scorer's touch and has been able to show it off during his four-year varsity career.

Kearney scored two goals as a freshman before improving to 10 as a sophomore and a then-school record 22 goals last year. Kearney has six hat tricks this season and rang up a season-high five goals in a 10-0 win over Franklin on Sept. 30.

Miller said he's amazed by some of the things Kearney can do with a ball at his feet.

“Sometimes it's just crazy to watch him; it's unreal,” Miller said. “Even when he's being double-covered, he's still finding a way to control the ball and burst into an opening.”

Aside from starring on the pitch, Kearney's also just 28 points away from joining the 100-point club in lacrosse, and he runs track during the winter for conditioning.

Standing just 5-foot-8, Kearney isn't the biggest or strongest player on the field but he uses his speed and guile to get past his opposition in situations big or small.

In last year's state lacrosse semifinal game, down a goal to Hollis-Brookline in the waning seconds, Kearney got the ball and rifled home a goal to tie the game.

His then lacrosse coach Matt Regan said that Kearney has “it.” Regan stepped down after the season to concentrate on coaching the Pelham boys basketball team.

“He's got a knack for being in the right spot and putting the ball in the back of the net,” Regan said. “He has great determination; no matter what's going on he just keeps persevering and fights all the time.”

As far as his future goes, Kearney has gotten looks from Plymouth State to play both soccer and lacrosse as well as Springfield College for soccer. Kearney said that his choice will come down to a simple decision.

“Whoever gives me the most money for college; I'll come play for anyone for the right number,” Kearney said with a smile and a laugh. “If I had my choice I'd play soccer just because I've been around it my whole life and my dad loves watching me.”

THE HAIR
As October is the breast cancer awareness month numerous teams and athletes at all levels of competition do what they can by going pink for the month. Kearney wanted to help spread the message ,and he did so in a unique and strange way; he cut his hair into a mohawk and dyed it a deep pink.

“I just love the mohawk,” Kearney said with a smile. “I feel like it's very vibrant; people ask about it all the time.”

Kearney said that he wanted to imitate New England Revolution star Diego Fagundez.

“It's definitely a good conversation starter,” Kearney said.

EXCITED AND EBULLIENT
Not only is Kearney a star of the field, but he's also a clown in the locker room. From the mohawk to his constant smile, Kearney looks as if he genuinely would rather be nowhere else than with his teammates. His coaches echo that sentiment.

“He's got a very childlike attitude when it comes to playing,” Miller said. “ He just loves being out here competing. It's awesome to watch him all the time.”

“He's just a goofball,” Regan said. “He doesn't have to be serious all the time, but when the whistle blows he's ready to go. He's always been the guy who lightens the mood no matter the moment [but] as soon as it's live he's all business.”

Kearney and many of his teammates have been playing together for years and suiting up together is about much more than wearing the same uniform.

“It's just a family environment,” Kearney said. “I've been around these kids forever, and it's just going to be sad seeing them go. I'll have new friends in college, but these are the kids I grew up with.”

New Hampshire Week 5 football preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIVISION II

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

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

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

DIVISION III

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

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

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL

1. Concord (4-0)

2. Bedford 4-0

3. Nashua South (4-0)

4. Pinkerton (3-1)

5. Exeter (3-1)

6. Bishop Guertin (3-1)

7. Winnacunnet (3-1)

8. Plymouth (4-0)

9. Keene (2-2)

10. Trinity (3-1)

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Week 2 New Hampshire football preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The fourth quarter? It was merely a formality.

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

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

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

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
5:53
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MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Manchester High School West's Valentine's Day victory made basketball coach Nick Moutsioulis wish his wallet could support a team trip to the Magic Kingdom.

"If I could pay for every one of the girls to go, I'd do it in a heartbeat," said Moutsioulis, his reference to Disney World and the visit made by the Super Bowl MVP after winning the biggest of games.

New HampshireYou see, West entered its Feb. 14 girls' hoop contest lugging a 77-game losing streak that dated to the 2007-08 season opener. But after three consecutive winless campaigns, and another 14 straight losses this winter, the Blue Knights stopped the frustration-filled skid with a 38-33 Division II road win at Pelham High.

"I'm still processing it. I don't even know how to react to a win," said 5-foot 8-inch forward Emily Colon, one of three seniors on West's varsity team that features just eight active players.

West's low participation in athletics isn't limited to girls' hoop. The loss of Bedford student-athletes to the opening of Bedford High in 2007 has affected most sports programs at the school.

The exodus that eventually shrunk West's population from 2,000-plus students to roughly 1,100, took place over several years. But West's ability to compete in most sports quickly declined.

Colon and classmate Brooke Brown were freshman call-ups to the varsity in 2007-08, West's first winless campaign. Routinely losing was a foreign feeling to these stars of the streak-snapping win; as ninth-graders they led their freshman team to a 12-4 record.

"We tried not to think about the negative," said Brown, a 5-foot-11 center, noting the team became the punchline to jokes that spread throughout the school.

Over time, however, staying positive proved tough. One winless season grew into two, which reached three last winter.

But worse than the lopsided losses -- and jokes generated by them -- was the sinking feeling caused by looking into the stands during home games.

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