Boston High School: Spaulding

New Hampshire football playoff preview

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
9:45
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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 5 football preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIVISION II

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

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

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

DIVISION III

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

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

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL

1. Concord (4-0)

2. Bedford 4-0

3. Nashua South (4-0)

4. Pinkerton (3-1)

5. Exeter (3-1)

6. Bishop Guertin (3-1)

7. Winnacunnet (3-1)

8. Plymouth (4-0)

9. Keene (2-2)

10. Trinity (3-1)

(Read full post)

New Hampshire football preview

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
5:46
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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.

New England Roundup: Vermont

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
6:38
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The Rochester girls’ softball team was outscored 50-2 on May 4, when it lost both ends of a doubleheader against West Rutland. Rochester dropped the first game, 27-1, and lost the second contest, 23-1.

VermontA 19-2 loss to Rivendell Academy on Monday dropped the team's Division IV record to 0-7, but the news hasn't been all bad.

The doubleheader against West Rutland marked the first time Rochester had played a game at home since Hurricane Irene ruined the school's softball field in 2011.

“It was awesome to be out there,” Rochester coach Lisa Blair told The Burlington Free Press. “The players were just so excited to finally play there. The girls get a better field.”

Rochester, which won the Division IV state title in 2011, traveled to each of its games last season while a new field was constructed. Rochester's field now features a new electronic scoreboard.

LAMOTHE RETURNS TO HOME FIELD
Former Lyndon Institute pitcher Buddy Lamothe was honored before Lyndon's baseball game against Montpelier last week.

Lamothe, who led the Vikings to the Division II state title in 2009, suffered a spinal cord injury during a swimming accident two years ago that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Lamothe was playing for San Jacinto College in Texas when he was injured.

Lamothe had a 0.77 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings for San Jacinto. He was drawing interest from professional teams before the injury, and the Houston Astros picked Lamothe in the 40th round that year after the accident occurred.

MOVING UP
Girls’ lacrosse will likely have a new look next season.

The Vermont Principals' Association has proposed that BFA-St. Albans, Burr and Burton and Rice move from Division II to Division I starting in 2014. Rice and U-32 were both unbeaten after six games this season. Rice was 4-1-1.

If the proposal is approved, those three teams would join Brattleborough, Burlington, Champlain Valley Union, Essex, Middlebury, Mount Anthony, Mount Mansfield, Rutland, South Burlington and Spaulding in Division I.

Division II would have 15 teams: Chelsea, Colchester, Green Mountain Valley, Hartford, Harwood, Lamoille, Montpelier, Oxbow, Randolph, St. Johnsbury, Stowe, Stratton, U-32, Vergennes and Woodstock.

REPEAT PERFORMANCE?
The Essex softball team won the 2012 Division I state championship, and may be the team to beat again this season.

At 7-0, Essex is the only unbeaten team in Division I. The Hornets have outscored their opponents 83-17 in their seven victories.

TOUGH TO HIT
"Kayla Wood didn't allow a hit through nine innings of the Brattleborough softball team's season opener against Hartford, but the scoreless game was suspended in the 10th inning. Wood will try to complete her no-hit pitching performance when the suspended game resumes on May 29.

"Randolph Rachel Johnson had thrown two no-hitters through her team's first four games this season. Johnson, a sophomore, didn't allow a hit in victories over South Royalton and U-32.

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

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
6:10
PM ET
White Mountains Regional won last year's Division III softball championship, but there's a lot to like about this year's White Mountains team as well.

New HampshireThe Spartans, who improved their Division III record to 13-0 by beating Kennett, 5-1, Monday, are the only unbeaten high school softball or baseball team in New Hampshire. White Mountains has dominant pitching and a .460 team batting average.

"We have some unrecognized girls who have been playing pretty good defense too,” White Mountains coach Forrest Hicks said. “I feel we’re a complete team. These girls have played together a lot."

White Mountains has 10 players on its roster who played in more than 100 games for the Way North summer league team last year. Junior pitcher Erica Millett is among those players. Millett is 11-0 with a 0.56 ERA this spring.

White Mountains, which beat Stevens of Claremont to win last year's title, has surrendered 13 runs in its 13 games.

"If Erica’s not the best pitcher in the state, she’s probably very close," Hicks said. "She throws multiple pitches, she throws hard and she has great control."

All but one player in the White Mountains starting lineup is batting over .400. Rebecca Hicks (Forrest's daughter) is batting a team-high .547, followed by Kaylee Savage (.523) and Chelsea Payer (.517).

Forrest Hicks said he expects Gilford and Campbell to be among the major obstacles between White Mountains and another state title.

"I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I’m really not surprised by how the girls have been playing," he said. "We were competitive against a lot of good teams in the summer. The only real surprise has been the consistency of our defense."

LET THERE BE LIGHTS
Pinkerton Academy football fans will have their Saturdays free this fall.

Lights are scheduled to be installed at Pinkerton Academy's football field and track in time for the Astros to play their 2013 home games on Friday nights. Last season, Pinkerton was the only Division I football program without lights.

"I've been told that we are good to go," Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said. "They have announced it to the public. The lights will go up in May and June."

Pinkerton's first home night game will be Sept. 13 against Manchester Central. The Astros will also play Londonderry, Concord and Goffstown at home this season.

COACHING CAROUSEL
Claude Gagnon's tenure as Spaulding's football coach was a short one. Gagnon resigned in late April after spending one season as the the Red Raiders' head coach. Spaulding athletic director Kevin Hebert said Gagnon, who is self-employed, had to make some commitments in his personal life that prevented him from returning for a second season.

“He's a builder and things have been pretty busy for him, and his son is in the military and heading back to Afghanistan, so he'll have to help take care of his grandson while he's gone,” Hebert said

Spaulding was 3-8 overall and 2-6 in Division II last season. Gagnon's replacement will be Spaulding's fifth head coach in as many years.

TOUGH TO BEAT
The Bedford boys' lacrosse team extended its winning streak to 33 games by posting a 13-6 Division II triumph over Bow on Monday.

Bedford's winning streak, which began last season, includes victories over three Division I opponents this season: Exeter (11-10), Hanover (11-7) and Londonderry (16-6).

PITCHING IN
Hanover's Joe Cravero tossed a no-hitter against rival Lebanon on May 8. Cravero, who will play for Holy Cross next season, struck out 16 – including 11 of the last 12 batters he faced – in Hanover's 8-0 victory.

MEMORABLE MILESTONE
The Alvirne baseball team's 11-1 triumph over Salem on Monday was career victory No. 300 for Mike Lee, who is in his 30th season as Alvirne’s head coach.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and publishes the New Hampshire Football Report.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
8:48
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We're more than a month into the Division 1 boys basketball season, and you'd have to dig deep into the league standings before you found a team not capable of winning this year's state championship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New England Roundup: Vermont

October, 23, 2012
10/23/12
2:34
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The playoff pairings for Division I football were released this week, and there was no surprise at the top.

VermontHartford, which punctuated an unbeaten regular season by defeating Rutland 47-37 last weekend, earned the No. 1 seed. The Hurricanes own a 23-game winning streak and have won four of the last five Division I titles.

Hartford, which went 8-0 during the regular season, has outscored its opponents 284-100 this year. The Hurricanes will face eighth-seeded South Burlington in Friday's quarterfinals. It will be the fifth time in the last six years that the teams have met in the postseason. Hartford is seeking its third consecutive state championship.

Friday's quarterfinals, (all games at 7 p.m.):

No. 8 South Burlington (4-4) at No. 1 Hartford (8-0)
No. 7 Champlain Valley (5-3) at No. 2 BFA-St. Albans (7-1)
No. 6 Colchester (5-3) at No. 3 Essex (6-2)
No. 5 Middlebury (5-3) at No. 4 Rutland (5-3)

The six teams that did not qualify for postseason play will play consolation games this weekend:

Friday:

Spaulding at Mount Anthony, Friday (7 p.m.)
St. Johnsbury at Burlington, Friday (7 p.m.)
Brattleboro at Mount Mansfield, Saturday (1 p.m.)

Note: The Division II and Division III playoff pairings will be released next week.

TOURNAMENT TIME
The playoffs in each of the state's four divisions for boys' soccer, girls' soccer and field hockey begin Tuesday. A look at the contenders in each division, by sport:

Boys' soccer: Middlebury earned the No. 1 seed in Division I, but second-seeded Champlain Valley (12-1-1) may be the team to beat. CVU's Shane Haley scored 20 goals during the regular season. … Montpelier and Burr and Burton were the preseason favorites in Division II, and both will enter the postseason unbeaten (14-0-0). Burr and Burton, which won last year's championship, is the top seed. … Defending champion Peoples Academy (10-2-2) earned the No. 1 seed in Division III, and didn't allow a goal in eight of its 14 regular-season contests. … Proctor (12-1-1) is the No. 1 seed in Division IV, but lost to second-seeded Twin Valley (11-3) earlier this season.

Girls' soccer: Top-seeded Essex (13-0-1) is the first Division I team to enter the postseason unbeaten in seven years. Second-seeded Champlain Valley (12-1-1) returned many key players from the team that won last year's Division I championship. … Montpelier is the top seed in Division II. The Solons (10-2-0) earned a first-round bye. … Peoples Academy (13-0-0) will be attempting to win its fifth Division III title in the last seven years. The Wolves have outscored their opponents 75-4 this season. … Proctor (13-0-1) is the top-seeded team in Division IV, and is one of three unbeaten girls teams in the state. The Phantoms allowed eight goals in their 14 games.

Field hockey: Top-seeded South Burlington (12-1-1) lost to Middlebury in last year's Division I championship game, and will be looking to take another step forward this year. … Division II might be the most competitive of the three divisions. Windsor (13-0-2) and U-32 (13-1-0) are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams, respectively, but third seeded Mt. Abraham (9-4-1) is the only team that beat Division I South Burlington this season. Harwood (9-4-1), the No. 4 seed, won last year's championship. … Top-seeded Rice (12-0-1) is the clear favorite in Division III. The Green Knights won 11 of their 12 games by shutout, and have allowed one goal during the regular season.

WEBB SIGHTING
Mount Anthony Union junior Jesse Webb earned himself another trophy Sunday when he won the 285-pound (heavyweight) wrestling championship at the Super 32 Challenge in Greensboro, N.C.

Webb won the title by posting a 9-4 victory over Pennsylvania's Luke Fleck in the 285-pound final. He became the first Vermont representative to win a championship at the event, which featured wrestlers from 26 states.

Webb earned state championships in his weight class as a freshman and a sophomore. He had a bye Saturday, and won three matches Sunday to earn the title.

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: Vermont

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
12:00
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So much for all of the hype. The marquee high school football game played in Vermont last weekend was decided before halftime.

VermontWoodstock, last year's Division III state champion, built a 40-point lead in the first half and breezed to a 47-6 road triumph over Poultney.

Each team entered the contest with a 4-0 record, but the game was so one-sided running time was used in the fourth quarter. Poultney was coming off a 55-34 victory over Division II Fair Haven, an outcome that had many believing the Blue Devils could upset the Wasps.

Woodstock fullback Ed Doton rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries – all in the first half.

Poultney's lead grew to 47-0 when Tom Bauman returned the second-half kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown and Hunter Schmell added the point-after kick.

Woodstock has scored at least 42 points in each of its five victories, and is averaging 43 points per game.

“We have to put it behind us,” Poultney coach Dave Capman told the Rutland Herald. “We know we are a good team, but once it started pouring we couldn't stop it. And Woodstock is a very good team.”

Poultney fullback Tyler Rice rushed for 111 yards on 16 carries. Rice ran for four touchdowns and had a touchdown catch in Poultney's victory over Fair Haven.

Vermont High School Football Standings
Each team's record and Quality Point Rating (QPR), which determines playoff seedings in each division, is listed in parenthesis.

Division I
Hartford (5-0, 8.750)
Rutland (4-1, 7.750)
BFA-St. Albans (4-1, 7.750)
Essex (4-0, 7.000)
Champlain Valley (3-2, 4.500)
Colchester (3-2, 4.500)
South Burlington (3-2, 4.500)
Middlebury (3-2, 4.375)
Mount Mansfield (1-4, 2.250)
St. Johnsbury (1-3, 1.500)
Burlington (1-4, 1.500)
Mount Anthony (1-4, 1.500)
Brattleboro (1-4, 1.500)
Spaulding (1-3, 0.875)

Division II
Rice (5-0, 6.222)
Lyndon (5-0, 5.222)
Bellows Falls (4-1, 4.667)
Milton (3-2, 3.222)
Fair Haven (3-2, 2.778)
Burr and Burton (2-3, 2.111)
Otter Valley (2-3, 1.778)
U-32 (1-4, 0.778)
North Country (0-5, 0.000)
Springfield (0-5, 0.000)

Division III
Woodstock (5-0, 5.667)
BFA-Fairfax (4-1, 3.556)
Mill River (4-1, 3.556)
Poultney (4-1, 3.556)
Mount Abraham (3-2, 2.333)
Windsor (2-3, 1.333)
Oxbow (1-4, 0.778)
Winooski (1-4, 0.778)
Mount St. Joseph (1-4, 0.556)
Montpelier (0-5, 0.000)

TEAM EFFORT
The Colchester boys' soccer team won its first eight games, and balanced scoring was one of the main reasons for the team's early success.

Through those eight games nine different players had scored at least one goal, and there were 14 played who had collected at least one point.

The team's balanced attack was never more evident than when seven different players scored in a 7-1 victory over Mount Mansfield.

'CAT WOMAN
Camille Rainville, a senior on the Missisquoi field hockey team, has committed to play field hockey at the University of Vermont. The Catamounts are a Division I program that competes in the America East Conference.

Rainville finished the 2011 season with 21 goals and 14 assists. She helped Missisquoi win the Division III state championship. She is also a member of Missisquoi's girls' ice hockey team.

When Missisquoi defeated Stowe 2-1 in last year's Division III championship game it gave the school its first Division III championship in any sport.

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

New England Roundup: Vermont

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
12:36
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It’s been a long time since David Ball has heard the roar of the crowd at Spaulding High School’s Pendo Field, but he’s hoping the home fans will have plenty to cheer about Saturday.

VermontBall, a three-sport athlete at Spaulding who went on to a record-setting football career as a wide receiver at the University of New Hampshire, was hired as Spaulding’s varsity football coach in July.

Spaulding was winless in 2011, but Ball guided the Crimson Tide to a 28-16 season-opening victory over North Country last Friday. Up next: Saturday’s home opener against Colchester in Barre.

“I knew I would coach, but I didn’t know when,” Ball said. “And I didn’t know I would start as a head coach. Some top candidates fell through, and some other candidates were in the picture, but [the school] wanted more. They knew I was there – I was in town.

“I haven’t coached anywhere but camps. My experience has been my coaching 101.”

His experience includes a four-year career at UNH, where he broke Jerry Rice’s FCS (I-AA) record for career touchdown receptions. Ball, 28, left UNH with 304 career receptions, 4,655 receiving yards and 58 touchdown catches (Rice’s record was 50).

UNH wasn’t on Ball’s radar when he graduated from high school in 2002. In addition to playing football at Spaulding, Ball was a 1,000-point scorer in basketball and a record-setting high jumper on the track and field team. He planned to participate in those three sports at Division III Worcester State College until a few of his friends persuaded him to join them for a year of prep school at Worcester Academy.

His time at Worcester Academy – former Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan was his QB there -- led him to UNH, where he earned a scholarship from head coach Sean McDonnell after his second practice.

Ball spent time with the Chicago Bears, New York Jets and three Canadian Football League teams before he turned his attention to teaching, and landed a physical education position at Spaulding. A short time later he added “varsity football coach” to his resume.

Spaulding is running a spread, no-huddle offense similar to the one Ball played in at UNH. Quarterback Jon Kilian scored four touchdowns – three rushing and one on an interception return – in Spaulding’s victory over North Country.

“The heart my boys went out there with was impressive,” Ball said. “It was one of the top highlights of my career.”

Ball, who has two assistant coaches, said among his biggest challenges is convincing more students to join the football team. Spaulding, a Division I school, currently has 46 players on its roster (JV and varsity). Of course it helps when the head coach played in the same program and is one of the most famous athletes the state has produced.

“I have players come up to me and say, ‘Do you remember signing an autograph for me when I was 11?” Ball said. “There’s no doubt it helps when you’ve had a lot of success inside those walls.

“It’s our job to put a team on the field that can compete.”

BIG-GAME HUNTING
Week 2 of the high school football season could provide two of the best matchups of the year. Hartford, which has won the last two Division I championships, will face BFA-St. Albans, and Middlebury will meet Essex. Both games will be played Friday night.

These are the top four teams in the state, as ranked by the Burlington Free Press.

Hartford had a scare in its opener, but posted a 13-7 victory over Colchester. The Hurricanes will be facing a BFA-St. Albans team that received two rushing touchdowns from Doug Saffo in a 26-6 triumph over St. Johnsbury Academy last weekend. These programs met in the 2010 Division I state championship game.

Quarterback Tyler Provencher passed for two touchdowns to lead Middlebury to a 28-6 victory over Mount Mansfield last Friday. The Tigers will be up against an Essex team that performed well in the Northeast 7-on-7 tournament in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in June. Essex opened its season by beating Brattleboro, 48-7.

CHAMPIONSHIP SITE MOVED
Vermont's three state championship football games will be played at South Burlington High School this year.

The championship games have been held at Castleton State College in each of the last two years, but the Castleton State football team has a home game scheduled for Nov. 10, which is when the football tripleheader is also scheduled to be played.

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

September, 2, 2012
9/02/12
9:04
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Talk of an obscure rule in the NHIAA football policies and procedures manual -- and, more specifically, one prominent head coach's violation of it -- dominated the 2012 preseason.


New HampshireMike Beliveau made statewide news Aug. 21 when the story of his infraction broke in the New Hampshire Union Leader. The longtime leader at Division III power Souhegan said he unknowingly violated the manual's 15th point of emphasis, which prohibits filming or scouting opponents before their final scrimmage or jamboree of the preseason.


Beliveau attended the Aug. 17 scrimmage between Division I Nashua South and host Winnacunnet, a Division II program doubling as Souhegan's season-opening opponent.


“I did not know the policy. As a 20-year veteran coach, I should have,” Beliveau told the Union Leader. “Because I did not know the policy, I violated the policy when I went scouting. I've recommended to my school, my team, the NHIAA, that I be unavailable to coach the first two regular-season games.”


School officials, not the NHIAA, handle disciplinary issues involving coaches. But the state's governing body for interscholastic athletics must approve of the school's recommended sanction.


All parties agreed a one-game penalty was sufficient, meaning Beliveau will serve a Week 1 suspension on Aug. 31 while his Sabers face the team he scouted.


“For the nature of the infraction, in football, two weeks is a good chunk of the season,” NHIAA executive director Patrick Corbin told the statewide newspaper. “The AD and myself agreed that one game was adequate for this situation.”


Beyond the initial statement provided, Beliveau has declined to comment.


Many of his coaching colleagues, however, spoke openly about the matter. They did so during, of all events, the 23rd annual Queen City Jamboree on Aug. 24 at Gill Stadium. The QCJ has long been considered football's final dress rehearsal before the regular season kicks off.


The overwhelming majority of football coaches at the jamboree said they did not know the rule existed – until Beliveau's misstep brought it to light.


Brian O'Reilly, entering his 35th year at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, is among them.


“I'm not surprised he didn't know and, I think, most coaches didn't know,” O'Reilly said. “And to be honest with you, I never really looked at (the manual) either.”


The fact the rule was enforced opened eyes. Several coaches said, for years, representatives of opposing teams attended their scrimmages.


Justin Hufft, the second-year grid boss at Goffstown, said opposing coaches routinely caught peeks of Souhegan's scrimmages. Hufft spent 11 seasons as an assistant to Beliveau.


“When I was around him, I always saw him be nothing but gracious to other coaches … So, I'm disappointed when I see people treating him in a different manner,” he said.


Of course, the fact that the violation occurred at Winnacunnet didn't help Beliveau's cause. The Hampton school's athletics director, Carol Dozibrin, is also the NHIAA football committee chair.


Beliveau was spotted in plain sight, supporting his assertion that he didn't know the rule existed. If he intended to knowingly ignore the policy, why not make himself less visible?


Regardless, this much seems clear:


“In the future,” Bishop Guertin head coach Travis Cote said, “I don't think many guys will make those mistakes after what's happened to Mike this year.”


PRESEASON NO. 1

Unlike August 2011, the Exeter Blue Hawks won't enter this Division I football regular season with modest expectations.


The spotlight shines brightest on them.


Exeter wears the bull's-eye as defending champion, status earned after last year's 23-13 championship upset of Pinkerton. The stunner capped a storybook worst-to-first turnaround, as the Blue Hawks went winless in their 2010 Division I debut.


Which explains this: Exeter earned New Hampshire's preseason No. 1 ranking in the fifth-year Power Poll, the weekly statewide high school football top 10 as voted by media members from the Union Leader, WGIR-Radio and WMUR-TV.


“Any time your school's name is being tossed around with any of those programs, it's great,” Exeter head coach Bill Ball said about being joined in the top three by No. 2 Pinkerton and No. 3 Manchester Central. “It says a lot about the quality of football in New Hampshire.”


Ethan Joyce is among Exeter's senior leaders. He'll take the snaps in the program's signature straight-T offense. Halfbacks Tyler Grant and Colby Swane provide the blend of power and quickness.


Defensive tackle Zach Bosen and linebacker Jamie Vogt anchor Exeter's hard-hitting defense. Placekicker Logan Laurent, offered a scholarship by the University of New Hampshire, returns to give Exeter a decisive advantage on special teams.


“We have some experience back, guys that have been in the fray,” Ball said. “It's incumbent upon them to let the new guys know what's expected.”


DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Offensive linemen are often overlooked. But Souhegan's 6-foot 4-inch, 290-pound left tackle Jake Kennedy will be tough to miss this season.


Kennedy already has seven verbal scholarship offers to play college football at either the Football Bowl Subdivision or Football Championship Subdivision levels.


The list of schools includes Massachusetts (FBS), and Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.


“I'm not focused on (the scholarship offers) right now. I'm focused on this team,” Kennedy said. “I want to help these guys win a championship.”


NEW FACES

All six of NHIAA football's divisions feature at least one new head coach. Here's the rundown:


Brad Archer (Gilford) and Art Jacobs (Farmington-Nute) walk through the door in Division VI. Ryan Clark (Pelham), John Francis (Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough), Ross Salovitch (Epping-Newmarket) and John Welch (Sanborn) join Division V.


Steve Burns leads defending Division IV champion Trinity. He takes over after five years as an assistant on Gary Leonard's coaching staff.


“Is it any different for me? A little bit. Anything that goes wrong for me is my fault. I don't get to blame Gary anymore,” Burns deadpanned.


Ryan McCartney – whose uncle is former University of Colorado head coach Bill McCartney – guides Division III ConVal. Claude Gagnon calls the shots at Division II Spaulding.


Former Westford (Mass.) Academy assistant Adam Gagne secured the job at Division I Salem.


Gagne replaces New Hampshire coaching legend Jack Gati, who amassed a 221-138 career record (four state titles) in 34 years at Trinity, Concord and Salem. The new coach scrapped the Salem staple straight-T for the spread.


“I have the utmost respect for Jack and what he's done. If anything, it's made (the coaching transition) easier for me because (the players) know football,” Gagne said. “That's a true testament to Jack.”


Marc Thaler is a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader. He co-hosts the “N.H. High School Football Show” on WGIR-AM 610. Follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
12:35
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Salem High's Nicole Gubellini notched eight strikeouts, but primarily pitched to contact.

New HampshireThe problem for Concord High hitters taking their cuts? Gubellini never allowed them to get the barrel of the bat on the ball.

The end result, aided greatly by strong infield defense, was a no-hitter for the senior hurler and 5-0 Division I softball win April 11. Two days earlier, she threw an abbreviated no-no in Salem's season-opening 14-0 mercy-rule win at Rochester's Spaulding High.

Concord's Lindsey Stevenson reached on an infield error to open the game. Then, Gubellini retired 21 outs in a row. Her complete-game masterpiece took 65 minutes to complete.

“I can feel it, when things are good,” said Gubellini, a four-year pitcher for the Blue Devils and scholarship recruit of Quinnipiac University. “Some days, some pitches are better than others.”

Gubellini claimed her changeup – among an array of pitches she throws with accuracy and confidence – wasn't consistently sharp against the Crimson Tide.

She could have fooled Concord coach Duke Sawyer. She did fool her share of hitters.

“She's tough. Salem's tough,” said Sawyer, who took last year's Tide team to the state final. “She pitched against us last year a little bit. She did well last year, too.”

In addition to fanning eight, Salem's ace induced 12 outs via grounders or weak infield pop-ups.

Everyone in the infield – from catcher Amanda Biron, third baseman Hannah Latham, shortstop Samantha Cloutier, second baseman Sarah Frahm and first baseman Emily O'Brien to Gubellini herself – played a part in recording at least one of those 12 outs.

Only one fly ball reached the outfield. Center fielder Stephanie Long tracked it down.

Strong pitching is nothing new at Salem, where Granite State legend Harold Sachs has led the Blue Devils to 14 state titles.

But last year's quarterfinal-round exit was a stunner. The Blue Devils, as the top tournament seed, were beaten by Nashua's Bishop Guertin High.

“We won the regular-season league last year. We believed we were the best team last year. That has not changed in our thinking,” said Sachs, who won his 500th career game last May. “And we just think we're better this year. I don't know what that's going to mean down the road.”

Should Gubellini give Salem a season worth of strong starts, it might mean trouble for the opposition.

MORE DIAMOND DOMINANCE
NHIAA baseball's April 9 Opening Day included a pair of mercy-rule-shortened no-hitters.

Jordan Bean tossed one for Division II St. Thomas Aquinas High of Dover. Nick Massa celebrated the other for Division II Kennett High of Conway.

STA beat Division I Dover High, 10-0, in five innings. Bean, a senior, tallied seven strikeouts and set down 14 batters to close the contest after issuing a one-out walk in the opening frame.

He also had the game-winning hit: a first-inning solo home run.

Kennett defeated Division III Berlin High, 10-0, in five innings. Massa, also a junior, fanned seven, walked one and contributed a run-scoring hit.

STILL GOING STRONG
Portsmouth High began taking aim at its fifth consecutive Division II baseball championship April 9. Coach Tim Hopley & Co. opened with an 11-1 win at Wolfeboro's Kingswood Regional.

The six-inning, 10-run mercy decision marked the 84th consecutive win for the Clippers.

Briefly the national record-holder late last spring, Portsmouth opened the 2012 campaign with an active win streak that ranked second to Martensdale-St. Mary's High (87) of Martensdale, Iowa.

Billy Hartmann ripped three hits, the biggest being an RBI double in the fifth. Hartmann's key hit snapped a 1-1 tie and sparked a seven-run outburst.

Rick Holt, the team's pitching ace this season, helped his cause with a two-run double. Dillon Crosby connected for a three-run, sixth-inning homer that capped the onslaught.

"I was pleased with the way we handled ourselves in the first week," said Hopley, whose club won its 85th straight game, a 12-1 decision at Northwood's Coe-Brown Academy, on April 13. "Our pitching was good, offensively we were okay. But we've got to do a better job on the defensive side of the ball. Our timing and judgment were off, and we'll have to pay more attention to that in the immediate future so that it doesn't become a problem."

'MID-SEASON FORM'
Since boys' lacrosse was first sanctioned by the NHIAA in 1994, only two programs in New Hampshire have celebrated a championship three-peat.

Bishop Guertin this spring aims to join Division I rival Pinkerton Academy of Derry (1994-97, 1999-2002) and Division II Bow High (2002-04, 2008-10) in accomplishing the feat.

Guertin's Cardinals, heavy preseason favorites to win a fifth overall title, started strong in their Division I opener April 10. The state's No. 1-ranked team in the New Hampshire GameDay top 10 (“X-factors: April 9-15, 2012”) overpowered No. 3 Hanover High, 15-3.

“They're, like, in mid-season form. We're still in preseason, I think,” quipped Hanover coach Jeff Reed, whose Marauders, Division I champs in 2007 and 2009 have teamed with the Cards to win all five titles from 2007-11.

Midfielder Paul Spinney powered BG's offense with a game-high four points (three goals, assist). His assist, on a dish to Hunter Allen late in the opening period, snapped a 1-1 deadlock.

It also set off a six-goal run to close the first half. Guertin's defense, when challenged, answered the call.

Close defenders Bob Fahey and Kyle Karaska, and long-stick midfielder Brody Smith, led the lock-down effort on Hanover's top threats. Attackman Christian Johansen and midfielder Christian Wolter didn't post a point.

“Our challenge to these guys is to come every day to practice, practice hard, get better by the time we leave the field,” BG coach Chris Cameron said. “And show up for every game.”

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 from 7-9 a.m. Read his “New Hampshire GameDay” blog and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.

New England Roundup: Vermont

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
1:55
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The Mount Mansfield boys' basketball team raised its Division I record to 7-0 by beating Spaulding 63-39 Friday night. Anyone looking for the secret to the Cougars' success this season need only look at the defensive end of the court.

VermontThe Cougars are allowing an average of 31 points per game through their first seven contests. Six of Mount Mansfield's seven opponents have failed to score more than 39 points.

“Right now I'm very happy with how we're doing things defensively,” Mount Mansfield coach Jeff Davis said. “We're doing things very well in that end.

“We don't do a lot of trapping and gimmicky stuff. We just play solid man to man. The guys realize that playing good defense is as important as executing in the offensive end.”

Mount Mansfield reached the Division I semifinals last season, and returned seven of the top eight players – including four starters – from that team. There are seven seniors on this year's roster, five of whom start.

The leaders are forward Tom Lacy and 6-foot-8 center Eric Suder, both of whom have started since their freshman season. Lacy is averaging a team-high 13 points per game – no other player is averaging more than seven – and Suder is averaging three-and-a-half blocks and eight rebounds per game.

The other starters are point guard Troy Springer, guard T.J. Wesson and guard Cody Sharrow. Springer and Wesson shared a starting job last season. Davis, who is in his 13th season with the Mount Mansfield program, called Sharrow the best defender he's ever coached.

“He's a great athlete – he's going to play baseball at South Dakota State next year – and if size allows it we always put him on the other team's best player,” Davis said

Rutland entered the week as the only other undefeated team in Division I, but Davis said he considers Rice Memorial – last year's Division I champion – the team to beat. Mount Mansfield beat Rice, 45-32, in the opener for each team.

“In Vermont it's such a short preseason,” Davis said. “We have a veteran team, which has helped, and Rice was at a point where they were still figuring things out. We felt pretty good about things coming into the year because of what we had coming back and going to the Final Four last year.”

Davis said as well as his team has been playing, he does have some concerns. Chief among them is the team's lack of height.

“We're small, so if Eric [Suder] gets in foul trouble that would be a problem,” he said. “That's my biggest concern. Also, we're not a team that's going to score in the high 70s or 80s, but we do need to score more.”

The Cougars won back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005, when they allowed an average of 37 and 45 points per game, respectively. It appears defense could earn Mount Mansfield another state title this year.

“It's a group of tough kids who like to defend,” Davis said. “They enjoy it.”

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New England Roundup: Vermont

January, 2, 2012
1/02/12
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Having lost to New Hampshire in each of the last 11 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowls, Vermont turned to one of the few coaches who has beaten New Hampshire in the annual all-star football game.

Vermont“Rutland High School's Mike Norman has been selected to coach Vermont in next year's game, which will be played Aug. 4 at Dartmouth's Memorial Field.

“I'm excited about the opportunity and looking forward to the challenge,” Norman said.

Norman coached Vermont to a 21-13 victory in the 1998 Shrine Game, and also served as Vermont's head coach when it dropped a 21-0 decision to New Hampshire in the 2001 game.

New Hampshire won last year's contest 45-21 and holds a 43-13-3 edge in the all-time series.

Souhegan High School's Mike Beliveau was selected to coach the New Hampshire team. Beliveau has guided Souhegan to three of New Hampshire's last four Division III championships.

Like Norman, Beliveau has also been a head coach in the Shrine Game before. He was New Hampshire's coach in 2000, when Vermont posted a 47-40 victory. It was the highest-scoring contest in the game's history.

Norman, who graduated from Norwich University, took over as Rutland's head coach in 1994. He has guided Rutland to seven state titles in the last 18 seasons. He is also Rutland's athletic director.

Norman has also coached at the college level as an assistant at Norwich and Dartmouth.

The 36-player roster for each state will be announced in February. Practice for the game will begin July 26 at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H.

The game has raised more than $4.5 million for the Shrine Hospitals.

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New England Roundup: Vermont

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
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It was not the outcome Bob Davis was hoping for in his final game as a high school football coach, but Davis said the South's 35-8 victory over his North team in the 11th Annual Senior Bowl was a memorable experience nonetheless.

Vermont“It was a great experience,” Davis said. “These games are what they are: an exhibition to get the kids out there for [college coaches] to see. But more importantly it's about having fun, and the kids did.”

Davis, who announced that he wouldn't return as North Country's coach next season after the Falcons lost in this year's Division II semifinals, watched the South score on each of its first four second-half possessions to build a 28-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Hartford running back Troy Bell rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Bell scored on runs of 20 and 62 yards.

Mill River’s Adam Mackey opened the scoring with a 1-yard run 5:04 into the third quarter.

Bell’s 20-yard TD run made it 13-0, and then Fair Haven quarterback Robert Coloutti hooked up with Levi Ellis, one of his Fair Haven teammates, for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 2:39 left in the third quarter. Hartford quarterback Tucker Stone connected with Middlebury’s Marshall Hastings for the two-point conversion and a 21-0 lead.

Bell’s 67-yard TD run extended the South's lead to 28-0 34 seconds into the fourth quarter.

The North got on the scoreboard on a 2-yard touchdown run by North Country quarterback Tre Sanville early in the fourth quarter. Sanville hooked up with Winooski’s Devon Rollins for the two-point conversion.

The South capped the scoring on an 18-yard touchdown sprint by Windsor’s Matt Rafus.

“Our offense never found a rhythm,” Davis said. “You have different players coming in on every series so it's not like the regular season.

“I've been running on adrenaline since August. Now the reality [of retirement] is going to settle in.”

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