Boston High School: Plymouth Regional

New Hampshire Week 4 football preview

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
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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)

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
4:07
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The high school ice hockey season arrived last week, and with it came controversy.

New HampshireThe issue that created headlines involved Shelby Herrington, a junior at Bishop Brady High School in Concord. Herrington has played varsity hockey for Bishop Brady's boys team the last two years, and intended to do so this season as well. Bishop Brady formed a cooperative girls hockey team with Trinity High School in Manchester this year, however, and the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association declared Herrington ineligible to play for the boys team.

Herrington challenged that decision and a court order allowed her to begin the season with the boys team. A final ruling on whether or not the NHIAA is within its rights to prevent Herrington from playing with the boys team is expected later this month.

Robert Carey, Herrington's attorney, has argued that the NHIAA is attempting to deny Herrington a spot on the boys team solely on the basis of her sex.

If the court rules in Herrington's favor there is concern that other talented girls will attempt to play for boys teams – thereby weakening the girls sport -- and that some boys may even attempt to skate with the girls.

According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, NHIAA executive director Patrick Corbin sent a letter to Bishop Brady that included the following:

“If a sport is offered for boys and a comparable sports is offered for girls, then the girls must play on the team of their gender. There is no consideration or provision that accounts for competitiveness or ability in the by-laws.”

Another female, Danielle DiCesare, played for the St. Thomas Aquinas (Dover) boys team in 2007-08, the first season the NHIAA offered girls hockey as a varsity sport. DiCesare women's college hockey at Princeton.

FOOTBALL CHANGES SHAPE
New Hampshire high school football will have a different look next season, when the state will scrap the six-division format that has been used for years and place its 57 varsity teams in three divisions.

Eight teams from each division will qualify for postseason play, which will create an additional round of playoffs. Four teams from each of the six divisions advanced to the playoffs last season.

Critics of the old alignment argued that there was no need for six divisions – and six state champions – in a state the size of New Hampshire.

“We already have teams that are not very happy with it, but we have to give something a shot here,” said Plymouth coach Chuck Lenahan, who is a member of the NHIAA football committee. “Hopefully it works out well. We have a lot more flexibility with it. Maybe we'll have to tweak it a little, but I think it's good that we're trying something.”

Student-athletes transferring from one school to another is not uncommon, but in no sport has player movement been the major focus of a season preview as it is in high school basketball.

HAWK TALK
Guard Dimitri Floras returned from prep school (Kimball Union Academy) to lead Merrimack to the Division I boys basketball championship last season. If the Tomahawks win another title in 2012-13 they'll have to do it without Floras, who is now suiting up for Vermont Academy.

Although Manchester Central is the consensus favorite in Division I, Merrimack's backcourt will make life tough on Merrimack opponents. Sophomore point guard Austin Franzen has transferred from Bishop Guertin and will team with junior Eric Gendron to form one of the best guard combinations in the state.

ANOTHER TITLE IN THE CARDS?
Bishop Guertin of Nashua won last year's Division I girls basketball state title, and the Cardinals entered this season as the overwhelming favorite as well.

BG returned five starters from its 2011-12 championship team, including junior point guard Jamie Afterburner and Boston University-bound forward Meghan Green.

BG opened its season with a 91-36 victory over Salem. Last year's championship was the school's first in girls basketball.

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

November, 27, 2011
11/27/11
9:35
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Bill Ball and his Exeter High Blue Hawks, in their second season competing against the state's largest schools, took the express elevator from cellar to penthouse.

It's one way to explain Exeter's voyage.

New HampshireAs is this: "It's just the ultimate roller-coaster. That's what it is," massive lineman Brad Tiernan said after his team stunned heavy favorite and statewide No. 1 Pinkerton Academy, 23-13, for the Division I championship at Memorial Field in Derry.

The Division I final on Nov. 19 was supposed to be a formality. The Astros, after all, topped the statewide poll since the preseason, securing every first-place vote in the process. They were one win from completing the first wire-to-wire run at No. 1 in the four-year era of rankings.

They were facing a former Division 2 power, but a program that went 0-8 in its Division I debut (1-9 overall) last season.

The Blue Hawks (11-1 overall, 9-1 Div. I) didn't forget those season-long frustrations. But they didn't dwell on them, either.

This team was confident. This team was composed. This team was clutch.

How else to explain the title-game comeback? Exeter erased a 13-3 second-quarter deficit.

Conor Carrier scored the fourth-quarter touchdown that placed Pinkerton in panic mode. The senior's big run off-tackle went for 37 yards and six points. The score snapped a 13-all tie with 7 minutes, 10 seconds left in the season.

Touchback-machine Logan Laurent added the extra point. He also iced the contest with his 23-yard field goal -- a kick preceded by 35- and 40-yard boots -- in the final minutes.

Tyler Grant touched the rock 31 times. He totaled 120 yards in Exeter's old-school straight-T offense.

Jamie Tymann tossed a second-quarter touchdown to Lucas Gajewski. The 15-yard strike sparked the 20-point run to the title.

The toss was the second of Tymann's five attempts. Exeter's senior signal-caller entered the final with just 29 pass attempts on the season.

But defense was the biggest difference-maker. Grant, Carrier, Ethan Joyce and Brian Henry led Exeter's disciplined perimeter defense. It surrendered 77- and 78-yard touchdown runs to Emmitt Smith in the second frame, but little else.

Exeter celebrated its sixth championship under Ball, who capped his 19th season at the helm. The coach previously won five Division II championships in 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2007.

"To get this done is just amazing," Ball said. "It's amazing."

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

November, 10, 2011
11/10/11
6:13
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In his 41st year at the helm of Plymouth Regional's storied football program – a span that's produced a state-record 334 wins and 18 championships – Chuck Lenahan has surely experienced it all.

New HampshireYet it was the manner in which the Bobcats won their most recent matchup that had the gruff-voiced grid coach admitting, “I'm kind of numb.”

It's understandable. Lenahan approved the call for a fourth-quarter fake punt that produced the game-winning touchdown. Plymouth celebrated a 21-14 Division IV semifinal win Nov. 5 against longtime rival Laconia High.

The scenario: Plymouth was forced to punt from its 32-yard line in a 14-all game. The game clock showed less than nine minutes remained in regulation.

Special teams coach Chris Sanborn persuaded Lenahan to fake the punt. The Bobcats desperately needed a spark. Their rushing attack, which generated two lengthy first-half scoring drives capped by Cole Brooker touchdown runs, was stifled after halftime.

Standout senior Taylor Newberry (37 carries for 205 yards) was asked to fake the punt for the first time in his career. It worked out better than even Lenahan could have expected.

Newberry gained the three yards necessary to extend the drive. He also picked up 65 more yards, cutting left-to-right across the field, dodging would-be tacklers, and ultimately celebrating a 68-yard TD run.

“We actually just set that up (in the week leading up to the semifinal). We were 50-50 on it,” Newberry said. “I guess it worked.”

Plymouth – a year removed from missing the playoffs on a three-team tiebreaker – actually plays the role of underdog in the Nov. 12 final.

The second-seeded Bobcats (9-1) travel to Manchester's Gill Stadium for a showdown with No. 1 seed Trinity High (10-0). The Bobcats were stunned at home in Week 4 by the Pioneers, allowing a pair of late-game touchdown passes in a 12-7 loss.

It snapped Plymouth's 40-game home win streak.

“Another week,” Lenahan said. “The kids wanted it bad. What the heck. We might as well take a trip to Manchester.”

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

June, 13, 2011
6/13/11
2:10
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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.”

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Baseball, New Hampshire, Lacrosse, New England Roundup, Tennis, Track and Field, Softball, Lexington, Pinkerton Academy, Portsmouth (N.H.), Hanover (N.H.), Hopkinton (N.H.), Bishop Guertin, Souhegan, Duxbury, Brian O'Reilly, La Salle Academy, Needham, Manchester Central, Gilford, Stefan Defregger, Plymouth Regional, Merrimack, Exeter (N.H.), Concord (N.H.), Cohasset, Eric Muite, Bedford, Londonderry, Amy Johnson, Bow, St. Thomas Aquinas (N.H.), Lebanon (N.H.), Dover (N.H.), Max Goudreau, Andre Williams, Molly McCabe, Dylan Stohrer, Bob Fahey, Jenny Thompson, Jenna Tewksbury, Jane Symmes, Kingswood Regional, Julia Keenan, Alex Burbine, Mark Hosang, Cathy Liebowitz, Sarah Ford, Brody Smith, Chris Cameron, UMass-Amherst, Kyle Karaska, Jay Krzyston, Colin Delea, Paul Spinney, Brendan Laine, Emily Whitney, Devon Parker, Lauren Perry, Nicole Pelletier, Erin MacLean, Matt French, Christian St. Cyr, Tre Galligan, Brian Scala, Nika Mosenthal, Rachel Schwaner, Kelsey Rogers, Andrew Xiao, Chris Prothro, Anthony Delpizzo, Aaron Wang, Chris Diesare, Alison Murphy, Lauren Hawward, Elizabeth DiCesare, Julie Filler, Myles Utell, Jim Delahunty, McKinley Grimes, Taylor Summerville, Katie HoSang, Jacinda Williams, McKenzie Phelps, Steph Johnson, Jenn Cutliffe, Ellen Wheeler, Parker Raus, Mike Workman, Max Fisher, Sunday Swett, Berlin (N.H.), Emily Zbehlik, Liz Rogers, Holly Stewart, Kirk Liberty, Samson Horne, Cecilia Barowski, Betsy Garnick, Nick Athanasopoulos, Berthlyne Browne, Casey Geddes, D'Mahl McFadden, Merrimack Valley Regional, Shannon Veilleux, Sarah Burke

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
1:30
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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."

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

September, 29, 2010
9/29/10
2:25
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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.”

RUNNING AWAY WITH 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.

TOURNEY TIME
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.

(BLUE) HAWK TALK
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 UnionLeader.com. 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 marc.thaler@gmail.com.
<img src="http://a.espncdn.com/espncitysites/boston/prod/assets/hs_hampshire_110.jpg" alt="New Hampshire" class="floatright" />

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