Boston High School: Portsmouth (N.H.)

Concord rolls in N.H. state football championships

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
10:42
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Saturday’s NHIAA Division I championship game provided something no one expected to see: running time.

NHIAA rules require running time on the game clock once a team builds a lead of 35 points or more, and that’s what happened during top-seeded Concord’s 42-14 triumph over third-seeded Pinkerton Academy.

Concord led 42-7 after Robbie Law connected with Nicholas Comeau for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 6:28 left in the third quarter. Law completed 8 of 11 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the victory, which improved Concord’s record to 12-0.

“Our goal has always been to be the best team in New Hampshire and we achieved that today,” Concord running back/linebacker Marc Gaudet said. “We definitely had the confidence coming in that we would be able to handle them, but not like this. Four or five touchdowns? We couldn’t have pictured that. We were playing on a different level today.”

Law also threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Gaudet, and a 27-yard score to Seimou Smith. Top-seeded Concord received two rushing touchdowns from tailback Walters Ndi and a 27-yard touchdown run from Leo Sudeih.

Third-seeded Pinkerton (9-3) committed three turnovers (two fumbles) and had a punt blocked, and Concord turned each miscue into a touchdown.

T.J. Urbanik (5-yard run) and Manny Latimore (11-yard run) scored for Pinkerton, which has lost each of the last three Division I title games. Latimore finished the game with 91 yards on 16 carries.

“They earned it today, obviously,” Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly said. “Having the clock run on us in the second half? I’m not sure that’s happened to us before. That’s a credit to them. They did whatever they wanted to today. They’re undefeated for a reason.”

DIVISION II
Plymouth 21, Portsmouth 14 (OT)
Chuck Lenahan won his final game as Plymouth’s head coach when his Bobcats scored in overtime and then kept Portsmouth out of the end zone on its overtime possession.

Plymouth (11-1) took the lead for good when quarterback Collin Sullivan scored on a 13-yard run in overtime. Sullivan also had a 1-yard touchdown run earlier in the game.

Top-seeded Plymouth’s other touchdown came on a 29-yard run by John Thomas.

Second-seeded Portsmouth received a 10-yard touchdown pass from Donovan Phanor to Loden Formachelli, and 19-yard touchdown run from Phanor. Portsmouth (10-2) beat Plymouth, 27-22, during the regular season.

It was Plymouth’s 20th state championship in Lenahan’s 43 years as the program’s head coach. Lenahan, who announced his plans to retire earlier this year, improved his coaching record to 356-70-1.

DIVISION III
Bow 20, Stevens 6

Top-seeded Bow turned in another dominating defensive performance and won its first state championship since 2004.

Bow allowed 12 points in its three playoff games, and held eight opponents to seven points or less this season. The Falcons posted four shutouts.

Chris Robbins ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns for Bow, which raised its record to 10-1 and ended the season on a 10-game winning streak. Robbins scored on runs of 1 and 10 yards. The Falcons also received 123 yards rushing on 20 carries from Matt Ehrenberg, who set a school record with 1,503 yards rushing this season.

Bow’s other touchdown came on a 1-yard run from Gavin Lacourciere.

Second-seeded Stevens (8-3) scored on a 5-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Tanguay to Brandon Bell. Donald Pellerin led the Cardinals with 127 yards rushing on 23 carries.

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

New Hampshire football playoff preview

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
9:45
PM ET
The regular season is in the rear-view mirror, and the high school football playoffs in New Hampshire begin this weekend with 12 conference championship games -- four in each of the three divisions. Each game is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.

New HampshireThe conference champions will advance to next weekend’s semifinals. Here’s a look at this weekend’s matchups and the teams to beat in each division:

DIVISION I:
  • East: Exeter (6-3) at Spaulding (6-3)
  • North: Central (7-2) at Concord (9-0)
  • South: Londonderry (4-5) at Pinkerton (7-2)
  • West: Keene (7-2) at Nashua South (8-1)
Analysis: Concord is the only Division I team that navigated through the regular season without a loss, and is clearly the favorite in this division. The Crimson Tide has more offensive weapons than any other team in the division, and has put those weapons to good use. Concord scored at least 34 points in eight of its nine games, and held five of its opponents to seven points or less.

Manchester Central will be Concord’s first hurdle. Concord beat Central 35-6 in Week 1, but Central has won seven in a row since its 0-2 start. Central running back Jesiah Wade has rushed for 2,074 yards this season, and gained 556 yards -- the single-game rushing record by a running back from New England -- against Merrimack earlier this year.

Keene, Nashua South and Pinkerton Academy also look like teams capable of winning this year’s title. Keene has won six of its last seven games and handed Nashua South its only loss two weeks ago (42-28). Nashua South is led by University of New Hampshire-bound quarterback Trevor Knight, and Pinkerton also has a big-play threat in running back Manny Latimore.

It would be a surprise if Londonderry, Exeter or Spaulding advanced past the semifinals, although Exeter is averaging 38 points per game since moving Joey Jones to quarterback. The Blue Hawks have won the last two Division I titles.

DIVISION II:
  • East: Merrimack Valley (7-2) at Portsmouth (8-1)
  • North: Kennett (5-4) at Plymouth (8-1)
  • South: Trinity (7-2) at Windham (8-1)
  • West: Sanborn (5-4) at Monadnock (9-0)
Analysis: There’s a good chance Chuck Lenahan will end his coaching career with his 20th state championship. Lenahan, who has announced his will retire after this season, has a 353-70-1 record in 43 seasons as Plymouth’s head coach. His Bobcats will be at home as long as they last in the postseason.

Plymouth’s biggest threat may be Portsmouth, which used a late rally to post a 27-22 victory at Plymouth earlier this season. Portsmouth lost to Trinity in its opener, but enters the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak.

Monadnock is the only unbeaten team in Division II, but seven of its nine regular-season opponents finished under the .500-mark. Monadnock posted a 27-19 victory over Sanborn, the only playoff team it faced.

Saturday’s Trinity-Windham winner may be the only other team capable of making a deep playoff run. Windham is a junior-laden team that made huge strides in the second half of the season. Windham’s only loss came against Plymouth, but it was a 41-7 setback. Trinity may have more talent than anyone in the division, but will have to win a rematch with Windham to advance. Windham beat Trinity 52-20 two weeks ago.

DIVISION III:
  • East: Bishop Brady (4-4) at Epping-Newmarket (4-4)
  • North: Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (4-4) at Gilford (6-2)
  • South: Bow (7-1) at Pelham (8-0)
  • West: Newport (6-2) at Stevens (6-2)
Analysis: The two best teams in Division III may be on opposite sidelines Saturday, when Bow meets Pelham. The winner of that contest will be the clear-cut favorite to capture this year’s title.

Bow’s only loss was a 7-0 decision against Pelham in the opener for each team. Bow has won seven in a row since then, and posted three shutouts along the way. Pelham ended a 30-game losing streak last year, but was the only Division III team to finish the regular season unbeaten. The game will feature two of the best running backs in the division in Bow’s Matt Ehrenberg and Pelham’s Chris Medeiros.

Stevens may be the best of the rest. The Cardinals have a do-it-all running back in Donald Pellerin, who is also a threat as a receiver and kick returner.

The legitimate contenders for the Division III championship may end there since Newport and Giflord, the only other teams with at least six wins, were overmatched by the top teams during the regular season. Pelham beat Newport 56-6 and Bow defeated Giflord 42-7.

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

N.H. football squads eye postseason play

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
3:00
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The final weekend of the New Hampshire high school football season is upon us.

New HampshireEight teams from each division -- two per conference -- will advance to next weekend’s conference championship games, which will serve as the postseason’s quarterfinal round.

Here’s what’s still at stake in each division:

DIVISION I

Four teams have already qualified for postseason play in Division I: Concord (8-0), Nashua South (7-1), Pinkerton Academy (6-2) and Londonderry (4-4). Londonderry will play at Pinkerton Academy in next weekend’s Division I South championship game.

Keene (6-2) can clinch a playoff spot by beating Alvirne (1-7) Friday. If Keene wins, it will play Nashua South in the Division I West title game. Keene handed Nashua South its only loss (42-28) last weekend.

Spaulding (5-3) and Exeter (5-3) will be the two teams that move on from Division I East if each wins Friday. Spaulding plays at Dover (2-6), and Exeter is home against Nashua North (3-5). If either Spaulding or Exeter loses Friday, the door will be open for Winnacunnet (5-3) to reach the postseason.

The winner of Friday’s game between Manchester Central (6-2) and Bedford (7-1) will face Concord in the Division I North title game.

DIVISION II

Seven of the eight playoff teams have been determined in Division II: Monadnock (8-0), Portsmouth (7-1), Plymouth (7-1), Windham (7-1), Trinity (6-2), Sanborn (5-3) and Kennett (4-4).

Sanborn will play Monadnock in the Division II West title game, and Trinity will face Windham in the Division II South title game.

Merrimack Valley will clinch a postseason berth if it beats Plymouth on Saturday, or if St. Thomas (6-2) loses to Trinity. A St. Thomas win and a Merrimack Valley loss would make it possible for St. Thomas to advance, depending on results of other Division II games this weekend. Either Merrimack Valley or St. Thomas will face Portsmouth in the Division II East championship game.

Kennett will face Plymouth in the Division II North championship game.

DIVISION III

The matchups in two of the four Division III conference championship games are set in Division III: Epping-Newmarket (3-4) will face Bishop Brady (3-4) in the Division III East title game; and Bow (6-1) will meet Pelham (7-0) in the Division III South championship game.

Stevens (5-2) and Gilford (6-2) have also qualified. Stevens will face the winner of Saturday’s game between Mascoma Valley (5-2) and Newport (5-2) for the Division III West title, and Gilford will meet either Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (4-3) or Winnisquam (3-4) in the Division III North championship game. Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough will advance if it beats Epping-Newmarket on Saturday, or if Winnisquam loses to Newfound (2-5).

NHIAA WEEK 9 SCHEDULE
DIVISION I
Friday
Spaulding at Dover
Nashua North at Exeter
Bishop Guertin at Timberlane
Winnacunnet at Nashua South
Manchester Central at Bedford
Goffstown at Concord
Manchester West at Manchester Memorial
Salem at Londonderry
Pinkerton at Merrimack
Alvirne at Keene
DIVISION II
Friday
Kennett at Kingswood
Pembroke at Mondadnock
Hanover at Portsmouth
St. Thomas at Trinity
Milford at Laconia
Lebanon at Kearsarge
Hollis/Brookline at Souhegan
Sanborn at Windham

Saturday
Merrimack Valley at Plymouth
Con-Val at John Stark

DIVISION III
Friday

Raymond at Stevens

Saturday
Franklin at Bishop Brady
Epping/Newmarket at IL/Moultonborough
Pelham at Farmington-Nute
Winnisquam at Newfound
Campbell at Bow
Fall Mountain at Somersworth
Newport at Mascoma Valley

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL
1. Concord (8-0)
2. Bedford (7-1)
3. Pinkerton (6-2)
4. Nashua South (7-1)
5. Keene (6-2)
6. Manchester Central (6-2)
7. Bishop Guertin (5-3)
8. Portsmouth (7-1)
9. Exeter (5-3)
10. Plymouth (7-1)

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

New Hampshire Week 6 football preview

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
1:38
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There are plenty of people who figured the Concord High School football team would be good this season, but it’s unlikely anyone expected the Crimson Tide to be this good.

New HampshireConcord is 5-0, has won each game by at least 28 points and is averaging 50 points per contest.

Two Crimson Tide running backs are averaging more than 13 yards per carry: Mark Gaudet (13.5) and Walters Ndi (13.2).

“They’ve had their way with everybody,” Pinkerton Academy coach Brian O’Reilly said when asked about Concord, a team Pinkerton will face Friday night in Derry. “No one has been able to stay with them so far, so we’ll see. If we’re not able to stop their offense it’s going to be a long night.”

The Astros are having a pretty good season as well, Pinkerton has won four in a row since opening with a 14-12 loss at unbeaten Bedford.

Pinkerton has the top offensive threat in the state in senior running back Manny Latimore, who has run for 955 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

Concord coach Eric Brown said the No. 1 thing on his team’s to-do list tonight is preventing Latimore from having a huge night.

“Manny Latimore is in a class by himself,” Brown said. “It’s not just his runs from scrimmage. It’s his punt returns, kickoff returns and the other things he’s done. Hopefully they’ll have to go to someone else.

“We’ve been really strong against the run, but I think Pinkerton’s offense is a different level than some of the teams we’ve been playing. This is going to be a big challenge for us.”

Elsewhere in Division I this weekend:

Spaulding (Rochester) will meet Bishop Guertin (Nashua) on Saturday (4 p.m.) at Nashua’s Stellos Stadium. The game features two teams that are battling to get into the playoffs. BG (4-1) suffered a one-point setback against Winnacunnet (Hampton) in its opener, but has won four in a row since then. Spaulding (3-2) thrust itself into the playoff picture by beating Winnacunnet 42-29 last Friday.

Keene (3-2) will play at Winnacunnet (3-2) in a game that will all but eliminate one team from the playoff hunt. Keene is in third place, behind Nashua South (5-0) and Bishop Guertin (4-1), in Division I West. Winnacunnet is in a three-way tie for first place with Spaulding and Exeter (3-2) in Division I East. Two teams from each conference will qualify for postseason play.

DIVISION II

Even though St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover is about a 15-minute ride from Portsmouth High School, it’s been more than 40 years since the schools played each other in football. That will change Friday night, when the teams will meet in Portsmouth.

St. Thomas is 5-0, Portsmouth is 4-1. The winner will have sole possession of first place in Division II East. Each team runs a spread offense.

“We’re very similar in terms of style,” St. Thomas coach Eric Cumba said. “It could be a very high-scoring game, or the longest game in history.”

St. Thomas has allowed 41 points in its five victories, two of which were shutouts. Portsmouth has scored at least 35 points in each of its five games, and has put up at least 41 points three times.

Portsmouth has won the last two Division III championships, and St. Thomas enters the weekend as one of seven unbeaten teams in the state. Concord, Bedford, Nashua South, Plymouth, Monadnock and Pelham are the others.

“The first thing that jumps out at you is that they carry that Portsmouth High School aura,” St. Thomas coach Eric Cumba said. “There’s a lot of tradition going on there.

“Then when you pop in the film you see that they get the ball to a lot of different guys all over the field. They might be the most explosive team I’ve coached against. They’re a lot like Trinity (Manchester) and Plymouth in terms of their ability to score points, they just do it in a different way.”

DIVISION III

Pelham, the only unbeaten team in Division III, will try to extend its winning streak to five games when it plays at Epping-Newmarket (2-2) Saturday. Despite its 4-0 record, Pelham has little room for error, since the three other teams in its conference -- Bow, Campbell and Somersworth -- each have three victories.

Pelham’s defense has allowed 20 points in its four games. Division I Bedford is the only team in the state that has allowed fewer points (12).

In terms of playoff position, the most meaningful game in Division III this weekend is Saturday’s matchup between Gilford (3-2) and Newfound (2-2) in Bristol. Gilford is tied with Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough for first place in Division III North. Newfound is alone in third.

(Read full post)

Week 2 New Hampshire football preview

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
11:34
AM ET
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)

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

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
2:52
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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 Hampshire football preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NH going for baker's dozen in Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl

August, 2, 2013
8/02/13
4:35
PM ET
It's a different year with different players and different coaches, but the storyline leading up to Saturday's 60th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl hasn't changed: Can Vermont find a way to upset New Hampshire, or at least make it a competitive game?

New Hampshire will bring a 12-game winning streak into Saturday's contest, and has outscored Vermont 433-145 in those 12 games. New Hampshire leads the overall series 44-13-2.

New Hampshire head coach Ray Kershaw (Mascoma Regional) said he has warned his team about the danger of being overconfident.

“They do know not to take them lightly,” Kershaw said. “I tell them that every single day. I tell them it's not going to be handed to them.”

Saturday's game will be played at Dartmouth's Memorial Field. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., and all proceeds benefit the Shriners' Hospitals for Children.

“Different set of circumstances,” Vermont coach Jason Thomas (Burr & Burton) said. “I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't have my guys ready to go and believing they could win.”

Goffstown's Connor Benjamin will lead the New Hampshire offense. Benjamin played running back in the New Hampshire CHaD All-Star Game, but will be New Hampshire's starting quarterback Saturday. He was a quarterback during his junior and senior seasons at Goffstown.

Exeter's Tyler Grant, Concord's Tolbert Nemo, Trinity of Manchester's Romeo Masuku and Manchester Memorial's Jared Ombati are among New Hampshire's running backs.

“Our backfield has a lot of speed and a lot of depth,” Benjamin said.

Vermont will have to deal with a New Hampshire defense led by Portsmouth defensive lineman Ricky Holt, who will play at the University of New Hampshire.

Vermont fans are hoping quarterback Jake Stalcup can guide their team to victory.

Stalcup, a three-year starter for Thomas at Burr and Burton, was named Vermont's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011, when he tossed 31 touchdown passes as a junior. Stalcup passed for 2,613 yards and 31 TDs last fall. He will play for Middlebury College this season.

Stalcup will direct a fast-paced spread offense that Thomas learned from Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly while both were assistant coaches at UNH.

“I think the game will be won or lost up front,” Thomas said. “If we can't protect the QB, keep him upright so he can get the ball off, the skill kids aren't going to matter.

“We feel like we have to score points against these guys for sure. New Hampshire is big and athletic. I imagine they'll be a very difficult team to stop.”

New Hampshire set a record for points scored by one team when it won last year's game 62-24.

“Both teams have been working hard and it's going to be a tough game,” Benjamin said. “Regardless of who wins, this game is all about fund-raising. It's for kids who can't do what we do.”

N.H. All-Star Football: West 13, East 7

June, 30, 2013
6/30/13
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DURHAM, N.H. -– Very little separated the teams in Saturday's CHaD New Hampshire East-West All-Star Football Game at the University of New Hampshire's Cowell Stadium.

The West prevailed 13-7 when Goffstown tailback Connor Benjamin scored on an 8-yard run in overtime.

“I wanted to get in and score more than anything,” Benjamin said. “I ran my hardest and it paid off. We worked hard all week for this.”

The West had an opportunity to win the game in regulation, but Portsmouth's Rick Holt blocked Zach Ziemba's 41-yard field goal attempt as time expired. The East fumbled on the 1-yard line on its overtime possession.

“I feel bad for the kid who fumbled, but what are you going to do –- that's part of the game,” West coach Jim Schubert said. “I thought our kids played real hard, and that's all I cared about.”

The game raises money for Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. The West won the inaugural game 44-12 last summer.

“Real good football game,” East coach Bob Camirand said. “Obviously we were disappointed losing, but I can live with this. It was a great effort on both sides. Two quality teams and I thought two well-coached teams.”

The East trailed by seven until St. Thomas Aquinas running back Ryan Monette scored on a 1-yard run with 10:48 to play. Monette rushed for a game-high 102 yards on 25 carries. He also caught a 15-yard pass and gained 22 yards on two punt returns.

The only scoring in the first half came on a 1-yard pass from quarterback James Caparell to former Bedford teammate Brian Collins with 3:42 left in the first quarter. The scoring drive covered 60 yards in six plays. The big play was a 47-yard pass from Caparell to Collins, who had three catches for 53 yards in the victory.

Benjamin, who was a quarterback during his junior and senior seasons at Goffstown, led the West's running game with 57 yards on 14 carries.

DEFENSE DOMINATES
Holt, a defensive tackle who will play at the University of New Hampshire, was named the game's Most Valuable Player. In addition to blocking what could have been a game-winning field goal, Holt had 8-1/2 tackles, including a sack.

“I knew (UNH coach) Sean McDonnell was here and I wanted to leave it out on the field to the best of my ability, and I think I did that,” Holt said. “Thankfully he let me play in this.”

The West averaged 3.6 yards per play. The East averaged 3.5.

Nashua North linebacker/defensive end Deric Wagner recorded a game-high 10 tackles. The West received 9-1/2 tackles from Bedford linebacker David Cannone and 7-1/2 from Stevens linebacker C.J. Gosselin.

“We were a little undersized, but the kids really stuck in there on defense,” Schubert said. “No. 71 (Holt) was by far the best player on the field. We couldn't handle him. He disrupted our three-step drop and our five-step drop so we had to start sprinting out in the third quarter.

“When you only have 10 days (to prepare) defense is always going to dominate. If you can look at film of a defense then that's different.”

MONEY MATTERS
According to CHaD officials, the game raised $301,500, which included $48,000 in in-kind donations (uniforms, food, etc.)....Souhegan's Tyler Ford had a 74-yard punt....Caparell, who is New Hampshire's leader in career passing yardage (5,389), completed 8 of 12 pass attempts for 97 yards. He will play for the University of Rhode Island....Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, a former assistant coach at UNH, was among those in attendance.

Recruiting Notes: Boyle opts for UConn

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
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From a New England standpoint, perhaps the most noteworthy item on national signing day was Tim Boyle's decision to remain in his home state and sign with the University of Connecticut.

Recruiting NotebookBoyle, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound quarterback, led Xavier High School (Middletown) to its third consecutive Class LL state championship last fall. He passed for 2,483 yards and 24 touchdowns during his senior season.

Boyle originally committed to Boston College, and remained committed to BC after Connecticut native Steve Addazio replaced Frank Spaziani as BC's head coach. Addazio's offense requires a dual-threat quarterback, however, and although he ran for 295 yards and five touchdowns on 60 carries last season, Boyle is considered to be more of a pro-style passer.

He decommitted from BC and gave a verbal commitment to UConn earlier this month, and made things official on national signing day.

“This is a good day for me,” Boyle said after signing his National Letter of Intent. “It's been a long process because BC was the first school to offer me a scholarship back when I was a sophomore. I'm happy it's over.”

Boyle is one of five Connecticut residents in the Class of 2013 who signed National Letter of Intent to play at UConn. The others are linebacker Cory Jasudowich (Cheshire Academy), tight end Thomas Myers (Coventry), defensive end Cole Ormsby (Windsor) and fullback Matt Walsh (Daniel Hand).

BLOCKS OF GRANITE
The University of New Hampshire brought in a small class – 11 players – but three of them were in-state linemen: Portsmouth defensive tackle Rick Holt, Souhegan offensive tackle Jake Kennedy and Bedford offensive tackle Will McInerney.

Holt and Kennedy have been playing against each other since they were freshmen.

"There was some trash-talking between us when we were freshmen and sophomores, but we developed a level of respect for one another during our junior year," Holt said. "We've played against each other for a long time, but it's pretty cool that we're both going to UNH as friends and teammates."

McInerney, who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 290 pounds, may be the most intriguing prospect of the three. He had surgery on both knees last year, and did not play during his senior season.

"It was unfortunate that he missed his senior year, but he was very impressive in our camps and clinics last spring, so we knew he was the right fit for us," UNH coach Sean McDonnell said.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Bangor (Maine) wide receiver Matt Cosgrove is one of three players who signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Maine. Cosgrove's father Jack is Maine's head coach.

“It’s exciting, I think, for both of us,” Jack Cosgrove told the Bangor Daily News. “It’s something we talked about up front. Matt gets it -- he knows what we’re all about. He’s seen it growing up with big eyes as a little boy and with small eyes as a big boy.”

Defensive back Spencer Carey (Lawrence) and tight end Dakota Tarbox (Thornton Academy) were the other Maine players who signed with the Black Bears.

DELAY OF GAME
Running back Jerickson Fedrick, who grew up in Lawrence but played high school football in Salem, N.H., said he has accepted a scholarship from the University of Maine, but will redshirt next season.

Fedrick graduated from Salem in 2012 and played prep school football for Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn., last season. He ran for a team-high 1,268 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall.

Fedrick, who was also a track standout in high school, rushed for 4,568 yards and scored 75 touchdowns for Salem.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR
Five of the top recruits from New England in the Class of 2014:
  • Jon Baker, OL, Millis/Hopedale
  • Manny Latimore, RB, Pinkerton Academy (N.H.)
  • Arkeel Newsome, RB, Ansonia (Conn.)
  • Connor Strachan, LB, St. Sebastian's
  • Jon Thomas, RB, St. John's Prep

Strachan and Thomas are both on the ESPN Watch List.

Information about high school or prep school recruits in New England can be sent to Roger Brown at rbrown@nhfootballreport.com.

New England Roundup: Maine

December, 3, 2012
12/03/12
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Nick Janes remembers how it used to feel to be a Marshwood football player, and he remembers when that changed.

MaineAt one time, the Hawks had one of the best football programs in the state. But Marshwood hadn’t been to a state title game since 1989, and finished 2-6 and out of the playoffs in 2011.

“You felt secluded,” said Janes, a senior running back and defensive back on this year’s Marshwood team. “Like, everybody knew you were, but no one really cared.”

Marshwood hired coach Alex Rotsko before this season. In addition to coaching at American International College and Ithaca, Rotsko had won 11 Super Bowls in 19 years as coach of Longmeadow High School in Massachusetts.

“The first practice, you looked at him, he just looked confident,” Janes said. “You didn’t want to lose for him.”

For Janes, the moment he realized things were different came in a preseason scrimmage against Portsmouth (N.H.) High. Marshwood struggled to move the ball, and Rotsko told his players what was wrong and how to fix it.

“The next play, we ran for like a 20-yard gain,” Janes said. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Marshwood eventually made it to the Class B state championship game, losing 44-42 to Mt. Blue. It was clear Marshwood is back.

“You could feel the whole community coming around you,” Janes said.

Rotsko, who was also athletic director at Longmeadow, was friends with former Marshwood coach John Caverly, so he was aware when the Marshwood job became open.

“My wife and I own a home at York Beach, and we were coming up here anyway after I retired,” Rotsko said.

As usual, Rotsko installed the Wing-T offense, a run-based system built of multiple weapons.

“We ran it at Longmeadow,” he said. “The 19 years that I was there, we ran it 18 years and had 18 winning seasons. You can guess what happened that one year.”

“We used to run the spread offense,” said Dan Lizotte, a senior fullback/linebacker. “I thought we had the size to run a tighter offense. We just powered it up the middle. I liked it.”

With his favorite offense in place, Rotsko said there were two clear differences for him between Maine and Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, you have to play three games in 12 days at playoff time, including the annual Thanksgiving rivalry, while Maine simply has a game each week. The other notable difference is the size of the rosters.

“The school that I came from was not a real big school,” Rotsko said. “We probably had 500 boys, and 100 played football. I was used to dealing with 105, 110 kids. I came here, we had about 60 kids at the first practice. Out of those 60, 40 or so were freshmen and sophomores.”

Marshwood’s first two games in the regular season were against York and Mountain Valley. York was returning 18 starters from a playoff team, and Mountain Valley is a perennial powerhouse. Rotsko said he was told those were the two teams that Marshwood had no chance to beat, but the Hawks won both games, defeating York 28-12 and Mountain Valley, 19-12.

“It was unbelievable,” Janes said. “Everybody was really excited. It felt surreal.”

Less than a month after its second win, Marshwood lost a former teammate. Troy Pappas, the quarterback in 2011 and a freshman at Bates College, died Oct. 5, six days after falling down a stairwell.

“I’ve thought of him every day,” Janes said. “It’s tough to go through something like that, so he’s always on my mind. Playing with him for three years, you get used to him being there.”

The Hawks took the field just a couple hours after Pappas’ death, and defeated Cape Elizabeth, 20-0, to run their record to 5-1. They did not lose again in the regular season, and after beating Cape Elizabeth again in the quarterfinals, knocked off Wells, 15-13, and York, 21-20 to win the Western B title.

“I feel like Troy was there watching over us, making sure we won by the skin of our teeth,” Lizotte said. “Everyone felt that was it.”

A lot of key players are back for Marshwood next season, like quarterback Cameron Roll, running back Brett Gerry, and linemen Tyler Gagnon and Beau Blanchette.

“I thought it was a great season,” Rotsko said. “It couldn’t have gone any better. I think everybody’s already excited for next year.”

(Read full post)

Recruiting Notes: It's BC for Montgomery

December, 3, 2012
12/03/12
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The uncertainty regarding the Boston College coaching situation didn't make the school any less attractive to Tabor Academy's Tevin Montgomery, who committed to BC on Sunday.

Recruiting NotebookMontgomery said BC's location was a huge factor in his decision. Although Montgomery's mother lives in Texas, he lives with his guardians in Boston.

ESPN lists Montgomery as a three-star offensive lineman, but he said he was recruited to play defensive tackle. He is the first recruit to commit to BC since the school fired coach Frank Spaziani last month.

“I knew it was a possibility [Spaziani would be fired], but coaches shouldn't be the deciding factor,” Montgomery said. “I chose BC for the school, not for the coach. I liked talking to the other recruits. They seem like good guys. I also like the fact that I'll be around my support system [in Boston].”

Montgomery, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound senior, also had scholarship offers from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Rutgers, Temple, Vanderbilt and Virginia. BC was the first school to extend him a scholarship offer.

He narrowed his choices to BC, Vanderbilt and Virginia, and said he final decision was a choice between BC and Vanderbilt.

Montgomery grew up playing basketball, and didn't start to play organized football until last year. He is the No. 3 prospect from Massachusetts in the Class of 2013.

“I didn't finalize things until [Sunday],” Montgomery said. “I called coach Devine [Sean Devine] and he confirmed everything with the AD, since they don't have a head coach.

“It was a hard decision. If it wasn't then I would have committed already. I didn't rush it, but I didn't want to procrastinate because that could have been dangerous for me too. I finally decided BC would be best for me.”

HOLT HAS DEFENSIVE ATTITUDE
New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Fordham, Colgate, Holy Cross and Marist are among the schools pursuing Ricky Holt, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive lineman from Portsmouth (N.H.) High School.

Holt, who is also a pitcher/first baseman on Portsmouth varsity baseball team, has led the Clippers to the Division III championship in each of the past two seasons. Holy Cross and Colgate visited Portsmouth High School last month, and Maine is scheduled to stop by this week.

“He's matured greatly since last year,” Portsmouth coach Bill Murphy said. “This year he became a leader. He led by example more than anything else. I think if you talked to any coach we played against they would tell you that they had to know where he was first and foremost.”

ACADEMIC EXERCISE
The 25th annual Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire college football recruiting night will be held Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Tewksbury Country Club in Tewksbury.

Representatives from colleges throughout the Northeast will be in attendance. There is no cost to players.

For more details, contact Brian Hickey (978) 640-7834 or Ed Harrison (978) 694-6065.

Recruiting information about high school or prep school football players in New England can be sent to Roger Brown at rbrown@nhfootballreport.com.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
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Whenever the Pinkerton Academy football team generated some momentum in Saturday's Division I championship game, Exeter took it away.

New HampshireThe Astros scored three touchdowns in the game, and Exeter answered with a touchdown on its ensuing possession each time. The Blue Hawks delivered the knockout blow when quarterback Ethan Joyce connected with halfback Colby Swane on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 4:47 remaining in Exeter's 31-21 victory.

The touchdown pass came shortly after Pinkerton's Manny Latimore returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown that helped the Astros pull with three points, 24-21, with 9:22 to play.

“We could not get p[the Exeter offense] off the field,” Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said. “We worked really hard for our offense today – sometimes too hard. We worked and worked and worked, and then they go right down the field and score on us. We couldn't make them give the ball back to us.”

Top-seeded Exeter completed its season with an 11-1 record (10-0 in Division I). Second-seeded Pinkerton finished 10-2 overall, and 8-2 in Division I. Both Pinkerton losses came against Exeter.

“Every time I thought we were in a little danger, we came back and responded offensively,” Exeter coach Bill Ball said. “Offensively we probably executed as well as we have all year – against a very good team. A lot of third-down and fourth-down conversions. Just a real solid effort by the guys.”

The Exeter-Pinkerton contest was one of three championship games played Saturday. Winnacunnet defeated Bedford 21-13 to win the Division II title; and Portsmouth beat Goffstown 54-27 in the Division III championship game.

The Astros received a strong performance from Latimore, a junior running back who opened the scoring with an 84-yard touchdown run.

Exeter answered when Jamie Vogt scored on a 7-yard run, and then took its first lead when fullback Galen Antolino scored on a 4-yard run with 7:51 left in the first half. The PAT was blocked, which left Exeter with a 13-7 advantage.

Pinkerton quarterback Sean Conroy capped a 13-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the third quarter, but this time it took the Blue Hawks three plays to retake the lead. Senior halfback Tyler Grant scored his 20th rushing touchdown of the season and added the two-point conversion to give Exeter a 21-14 advantage with 5:41 left in the third.

Grant, who entered the game with 1,138 yards on 151 rushing attempts, finished with 96 yards on 22 carries.

After Logan Laurent's 32-yard field goal extended Exeter's lead to 10 points, Latimore kept things interesting by returning a Laurent punt for a touchdown. Latimore rushed for a game-high 177 yards on 22 carries.

Any hope for a Pinkerton victory was erased when Joyce hooked up with Swane for a touchdown pass that helped Exeter push its lead to 10 points.

It was the second time Exeter has beaten Pinkerton to win the Division I championship in as many years. The Blue Hawks prevailed, 23-13, in Derry last season.

“I'd say this one feels a little better,” Grant said. “It's my senior year and to go out on top is unbelievable.”

DIVISION II: Winnacunnet 21, Bedford 13
Junior quarterback Ing Hao Veasna turned in what may have been the best game of his varsity career and led top-seeded Winnacunnet to its first state championship since 2000.

Veasna completed 8 of 11 passes for 163 yards and scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter. Carly Gould made her second of three point-after kicks following Veasna's touchdown to give the Warriors (11-1) a 14-7 lead.

Gould, who played girls' soccer for Winnacunnet, will play college soccer at Brown.

Quarterback James Caparell scored on a pair of 2-yard runs for Bedford (9-2). His second TD made it a 14-13 game with 56 seconds left in the third quarter, but the PAT failed.

Caparell gained 106 yards on 13 carries, and completed 11 of 14 passes for 94 yards.

Seth Edwards scored the game's final touchdown on a 14-yard run with 1:14 to play.

Running back Ben Franzoso opened the scoring with an 8-yard run. Franzoso picked up 80 yards on 26 carries and finished the season with 1,431 yards rushing.

Winnacunnet beat Bedford, 14-6, during the regular season.

DIVISION III: Portsmouth 54, Goffstown 27
Injuries forced fourth-seeded Portsmouth to use four different quarterbacks this season, but junior Donovan Phanor looked healthy Saturday.

Phanor passed for 192 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 178 yards and two more touchdowns to help Portsmouth repeat as the Division III champion.

Portsmouth wide receiver Colin MacDonald caught six passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

Portsmouth (8-2) also won last year's championship as the No. 4 seed. Third-seeded Goffstown (6-4) trailed 20-14 at halftime, but the Clippers scored on each of their first five possessions in the second half.

Goffstown quarterback Connor Benjamin passed for 150 yards and gained 143 yards on the ground in the loss.

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

June, 27, 2012
6/27/12
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Fundraising totals between the teams competing in the inaugural New Hampshire East-West High School Football All-Star Game couldn't have been much closer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

May, 13, 2012
5/13/12
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Every win streak, no matter its length, has an expiration date.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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