Boston High School: Steve Cuipa

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

March, 25, 2011
3/25/11
5:02
PM ET
Gatorade's Granite State Player of the Year can sum up his team's season in 10 words.

New Hampshire“Despite our lack of size, we were the bigger opponent,” said 6-foot 5-inch senior Connor Green, a season-long stat sheet stuffer for Nashua's Bishop Guertin High.

Case in point: the Division I boys' basketball final March 19 at UNH's Lundholm Gym. Top-seeded BG overcame a significant height disadvantage to top Manchester's Trinity High, the No. 2 seed, 54-46.

Green, who transferred from Division II Bedford High after his sophomore season, didn't disappoint in the final. He shook off a cold first half from the field to finish with 22 points and 11 rebounds. The double-double was his 21st of the season. BG closed its campaign 20-2.

Senior-laden and pegged as the preseason favorite, the Cardinals erased a two-point halftime deficit. They also erased the memory of last year's semifinal setback, in the process clinching the school's first hoop crown since 1983.

The championship pairing marked the first all-Catholic school final in the tournament's 89-year history.

BG opened the playoffs with a 63-50 win over No. 16 seed Concord High. Guertin punched its ticket to UNH with a tough 62-59 quarterfinals decision against No. 8 seed Spaulding High of Rochester.

The team treated its return trip to the college campus with a businesslike mentality.

“We had to be totally ready to play. We knew we had to play smarter,” fourth-year BG coach Jim Migneault said of the lesson learned from the previous Final Four appearance. “Both games up at Durham this year, we were very smart. I thought we played within ourselves the whole time.”

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
5:53
PM ET


MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Manchester High School West's Valentine's Day victory made basketball coach Nick Moutsioulis wish his wallet could support a team trip to the Magic Kingdom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tags:

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

February, 9, 2011
2/09/11
3:10
PM ET
Mike Kelly's dream of playing Division I college football turned nightmarish before the high school campaign built any momentum.

New Hampshire“When it happened (last September), I got down. Like anyone else would,” Kelly said of the Week 2 foot injury that ended his senior season for Nashua's Bishop Guertin High, the eventual Division II three-peat champion. “It just didn't seem possible.”

Nor did this: Verbally accepting a partial scholarship offer on Jan. 27 to play football for the University of New Hampshire, which competes in the Football Championship Subdivision's super-competitive Colonial Athletic Association.

“Knowing most colleges go off senior tape, I didn't think it would be enough for colleges to assess me,” said the 5-foot 9-inch, 176-pound talent, a projected slot receiver, kick- and punt-returner, and possible cornerback for the Wildcats. “I was nervous about that. In one game, to seemingly have (my dream) taken away, it was a hard thing to come to grips with.”

Good thing Kelly, a Merrimack resident, enjoyed a career contest in the season-opener. Guertin routed defending Division I champ Salem, the heavy preseason favorite to repeat, 48-21.

Kelly was impossible to contain.

The top weapon in BG's spread-option attack totaled 310 yards of offense and five touchdowns. His 17 carries generated 193 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 117 yards, including a 65-yard catch-and-run TD on the season's first play from scrimmage.

Running a crossing pattern toward the left sideline, Kelly snared in stride Steve Cuipa's 20-yard toss and hit high gear. He burned past Salem's secondary for the final 45 yards.

It was vintage Kelly, who a year earlier scored three touchdowns in Guertin's Division II title-game clincher.

“He's gifted. He's got tremendous speed. And on the football field, speed is everything,” BG athletics director and head football coach Tony Johnson said, noting Kelly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds before injuring his foot. “(UNH coaches) looked at his ability to change directions, excel quickly, sustain speed for a long period of time. They were interested in him in spring of his junior year.”

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

November, 24, 2010
11/24/10
4:08
PM ET
On the eve of coaching Pinkerton Academy to its 10th Division I football championship in his 33rd year at the helm, Brian O'Reilly had a conversation that triggered some great gridiron memories.

New Hampshire“The phone call came to me at my house from Ryan Mihalko, down in North Carolina, wishing us good luck,” O'Reilly said on Nov. 20, after his statewide No. 1 Astros shut down Nashua North, 14-7, in front of 2,500 wind-chilled fans at Memorial Field. “It was like, 'There's my 1985 guy who won the national championship at Notre Dame in '88.'

Mihalko, along with Joe Segreti, also led Pinkerton's legendary '85 team to the program's first title under O'Reilly. The group is among the four greatest single-season teams of New Hampshire's 38-year schoolboy football playoff era.

It's arguably the top team of the quartet, too. O'Reilly's '85 team is held in such high historical regard because, just one year earlier, it was a Division II program.

And 25 years after Mihalko helped Pinkerton manhandle the competition en route to a surprise undefeated season, O'Reilly's Astros reached rarefied air.

“We've had a lot of great players over the years. We don't do it with smoke and mirrors here,” said O'Reilly, who improved to 10-2 in Division I title games (10-3 overall) and bumped his career record to 240-98. “We have 3,400 kids (at Pinkerton), although that's recent. We didn't have that back in the old days.

“We are a large school. We have a lot of athletes. We have great feeder programs. We do it with players, and I've had great, great players over the years,” he added, specifically naming Mihalko, Segreti and early '90s star Matt Jordan, a national champion at UMass. “All those championships are a testament to all those players that we've had.”

O'Reilly's 10th title team didn't have individual stars. But the collection of talent, particularly on defense, powered Pinkerton (10-2 overall, 9-1 Div. I) to its first crown since 2007.

Co-captains Luke Somers and Mike Mazzola, among just 10 seniors listed on this year's roster, paced a defense that delivered in crucial spots.

Certainly capable of scoring points, these Astros won by preventing them. They allowed an average of 16.5 points to league foes. The average dropped to 14.8 points after their lone league loss, a 33-7 drubbing in Week 3 by the very Titans they tackled for the title.

In the semifinals, Pinkerton held defending champion Salem, the league's high-scoring team (413 regular-season points), to a TD in each half. It resulted in a 21-14 win, decided on Emmitt Smith's 12-yard run with 21 seconds remaining in regulation.

The bend-but-don't-break defense sure delivered in the championship game. Three times in the second half, including its last two possessions, North was stopped cold in the red zone.

Linebacker Kevin Davies, whose game-high 94 rushing yards and TD were critical, deflected a fourth-down pass attempt at his team's 4-yard line. The play ended North's second-to-last drive. Somers and cornerback Ryan Coombs made key plays in the final minute to keep the Titans out of the end zone.

“We've had a lot of experience stopping (offenses) on the goal line,” said Mazzola, a running back and defensive end whose 15-yard TD with 7-plus minutes to play erased Pinkerton's 7-6 title-game deficit. “We take pride in that. We like to dig deep and we don't want to give up.”

PERCHED ON TOP
Bishop Guertin's Cardinals are again a three-pete champion in Division II.

The Nashua program survived a staggering number of injuries throughout the season to reach its 10th championship game in 14 years. It also claimed its sixth title in seven seasons with a 14-13 comeback win over Winnacunnet of Hampton at Stellos Stadium on Nov. 20.

“This was probably the most challenging team I've coached since '99,” BG head coach Tony Johnson said in reference to the season-long injury bug that ravaged his roster.

Thirty-four players suffered injuries this season, ranging from minor to season-ending. But BG (10-2, 9-1 Div. II) overcame the many changes in personnel.

The defense – anchored by linebacker Jim Kemos – forced a critical late-game turnover in each playoff game. Jim Carver recovered a fourth-quarter fumble against Keene and returned it 30 yards for the game-winning score. The play erased a one-point deficit in BG's 28-21 semifinal win.

Brody Smith pulled down an interception inside BG's 10-yard line in the final minute of the title game. It ended Winnacunnet's potential championship-winning drive and preserved the clutch TD connection between quarterback Steve Cuipa and Nick Pyzocha.

“We had two common denominators through the whole season, one on offense and one on defense,” Johnson said. “'Coop' (Cuipa) on offense, Kemos on defense. Everything else, we were moving parts.”

SUPERB UNDER PRESSURE

Souhegan celebrated a Division III three-peat on Nov. 20. The Amherst squad – trailing by five points late in the fourth quarter – needed an 85-yard drive to do it.

Known for quick strikes through the air, Souhegan (11-1, 10-0 Div. III) orchestrated an uncharacteristic 14-play march. Senior signal-caller Mike Luks capped the drive with a 3-yard run and Denny Desserault added the two-point conversion that lifted the host Sabers past Portsmouth, 24-21.

“There was a lot of drama in the drive. We did it in a pressure-packed situation,” Souhegan head coach Mike Beliveau said. “The best part is we left (Portsmouth's) high-powered offense only 51 seconds to counter.”

Luks completed 31 of a program-record 54 pass attempts for 305 yards and two TDs. But Dessereault and Matt Schagrin made season-saving plays that sustained the drive.

Dessereault pounced on a loose ball that Souhegan fumbled forward after Luks completed a pass to midfield. Schagrin converted a critical third-down pass by launching himself horizontal to the turf.

“The thing about this year's group of seniors, and there are 20 on the team, is they believe they're never out of a game,” Beliveau said. “That's been their M.O. since they were in youth football.”

SECOND-HALF SURGE

The boys from New Hampshire's Upper Valley reached the mountaintop for the first time.

Twenty-four unanswered points erased a 14-point deficit and earned Division IV Lebanon (11-0) its first NHIAA football crown on Nov. 13. The Raiders topped Trinity of Manchester, 24-14.

Star senior Cody Patch scored Lebanon's second and third touchdowns in the second half. Patch's key runs were sandwiched between Chris Barker's short-yardage scores in the second quarter and Justin Judd's fourth-quarter field goal.

Mark Davidson delivered the big blow. The lineman blocked Trinity's third-quarter punt that set up Lebanon's go-ahead score.

“They never give up,” Lebanon head coach Chris Childs told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “They kept plugging along and fighting adversity. That second half was just phenomenal.”

STORYBOOK SEND-OFF
Kearsarge Regional of North Sutton completed an undefeated Division V season on Nov. 13. The Cougars doubled up Dover's St. Thomas Aquinas, 12-6.

The six-point decision earned Kearsarge its first football championship. It also proved the perfect goodbye gift for retiring head coach Dennis Hoffman, who started the program in 1994.

“It's just unbelievable,” Hoffman told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “To be (11-0) in my last season, it just doesn't get any better. What a story.”

Doug Gregory was the difference on offense. Kearsarge's quarterback cracked the 100-yard rushing mark, which included 10- and 7-yard TD runs. His second score snapped a 6-all tie early in the final frame.

BACK ON TOP

Division VI Newport ended its title drought on Nov. 13. The second-seeded Tigers gutted top-seeded Gilford, 35-0, in the championship round.

The championship win was Newport's first since claiming the Division IV crown in 1995.

Newport (9-2) offered a steady diet of Harrison Wade, whose 134 rushing yards and three TDs helped avenge a 40-20 regular-season loss to the Golden Eagles two weeks earlier.

3-FOR-3

Manchester Central's boys won the team title at the New England Cross Country Championships. The trend that started with wins at the Division I meet and Meet of Champions concluded with another solid effort at Thetford (Vt.) Academy on Nov. 13.

Sam Gagnon led the Little Green. He placed 18th overall with a time of 17-minutes, 15.9 seconds. Dylan Lafond (32nd, 17:31.1), Matt Becker (45th, 17:42.8), Zach Chabot (72nd, 18:06.4) and Max Tucker (96th, 18:20.4) also scored points for the winning squad.

DIAMOND NOTES

Keep tabs on Salem seniors Nick Poore and Josh Treff after they graduate. Both will play Division I college baseball.

Poore, a 5-foot 11-inch, 170-pound left-handed pitcher, signed his Letter of Intent to join Boston College. Treff, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound catcher, signed with Northeastern.

Last season, Poore went 8-2 with 1.23 ERA. In 62 2/3 innings pitched, he struck out 90 batters. Seven of his 11 appearances were complete-game efforts. Six times he amassed double-digit strikeouts.

“Nick put himself with an elite group of pitchers that have come through New Hampshire,” Salem head baseball coach Dan Keleher said. “He earned the respect of BC before his junior year started, and then went out and backed it up. The two playoff games against Exeter and (Nashua) North he was dominating, winning both games 2-1.”

Treff last spring hit .378 (28-for-74) with four homers and 16 RBI. He also worked 10 walks and scored 23 runs. He hit safely in 19 of Salem's 23 games. Eight times he recorded multiple hits.

“Josh came into his junior year needing to improve his offensive production; he was already the best defensive catcher in the state,” Keleher said. “He came through to lead the Salem offense, highlighted by his walk-off home run against Timberlane in the (Class L) quarterfinals.”

Marc Thaler is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News and UnionLeader.com. He has been the high schools reporter for football and lacrosse since joining the statewide newspaper in 2006. A graduate of Syracuse University (2000), he wrote about the state's football history for an exhibit at The Hall at Patriot Place. The Bedford, N.H., native has covered the Little League World Series, NCAA men's lacrosse championships, UNH athletics and New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball. He can be reached at marc.thaler@gmail.com.

Reeves blazes No. 8 CM past Guertin

October, 2, 2010
10/02/10
10:09
PM ET
WEST ROXBURY, Mass. -- A.J. Doyle looked across the line of scrimmage early in the second quarter of tonight's battle with New Hampshire power Bishop Guertin, and saw the outside linebackers creeping up.

"They're coming! They're coming!" screamed an assortment of his Catholic Memorial teammates and coaches from the sidelines. Doyle adjusted accordingly so, shortening up to a three-step drop and slinging a laser to the right slot, right into chest of John Gorman, who then sprinted 59 yards to paydirt and the game's initial lead.

For the No. 8 Knights, it was that kind of stuff all night. The Cardinals threw some aggressive defensive packages, and CM responded with its most valuable export -- speed, and a whole lot of it in the form of junior athlete Armani Reeves. The highly-regarded junior totaled 193 all-purpose yards on returns, receptions and carries, and had three scores to carry the Knights to a 26-14 win, avenging last season's 52-13 beatdown at the hands of the Nashua, N.H. school.

With the win, the Knights (4-0) also ended Guertin's 20-game win streak.

Greeting reporters following the win, CM head coach Alex Campea clutched his hand on the shoulder of Reeves and patted him, with an ear-to-ear grin.

"This guy can make it happen, this guy can make it happen," he beamed. "Listen, we have some good players, and tonight in a big game they shone through -- making big catches, big plays, offensively and defensively. But I'm glad we have him. He competes every snap of every game."

And just what does a win like this do for the much-hyped program's profile?

"It gives us alot of motivation headed into the Catholic Conference and our other schools," said Reeves, who currently holds offers from Penn State, Wake Forest, UConn and UMass. "We wanted to come out and show that we are a caliber team, that we can play with anybody around here. And it was a good motivation for us and ourselves, because alot of people say we're not there yet, we're not close, we can't beat those other teams.

"But we just showed that we can compete with any team out there. It was a good statement for us as a team."

The Cardinals marched all the way to the Knights' five yard line on the game's opening drive, but quarterback Steve Cuipa was tripped up by his own man coming out of the snap, causing a fumble that CM's Dimitri Claude covered up. After CM capitalized with the game's opening score to Gorman, Guertin fired back with another long drive. Aided a by a pass interference call on third and 18 that spotted the ball on the CM five with first and goal, Cuipa scored from three yards out on third down, gliding around the right with ease on an option keeper.

The Knights promptly responded in the form of Reeves. First, he returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards to give the Knights the ball at the Guertin 45. Then, after moving the chains behind draws from Will Earl (13 carries, 93 yards) and a 22-yard Josh Charles catch, Reeves punched it in from five yards out. Taking a Doyle flare pass at the right sideline, he cut up and bulldozed through two defenders, falling over the near pylon to make it 12-7 with 22 seconds to go in the first half.

Reeves picked it up again with a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown midway through the third, bursting through a seam at the right hashmark and spinning through an armtackle from the punter en route to paydirt.

"I saw my guy push a guy to the outside, and then I saw two linemen and I'm like 'Oh, this is it'," Reeves said. "The punter made a good effort, but it wasn't good enough. I got past him, and it was a good team effort...it was alot of blocks that the team made, an extra effort. All-around, that was a pretty good effort."

Ahead 19-14 with 4:30 to go in the game, Doyle called Reeves' number again for a score. On third and 22 from the Cardinals' 25, Doyle scrambled out of an armtackle, rolled left and lobbed it to the near left pylon, where Reeves easily grabbed the jump ball.

Guertin head coach Tony Johnson came away disappointed with the result -- "It upsets us to no end, we did not play very well," he said -- and commended Reeves' speed while shouldering some of the blame.

"He's a very, very good back. He's very elusive," Johnson said. "Quite frankly, I thought we did a very good job containing him -- you need to contain him -- (but) I thought we did a very poor job tackling, and I thought we did a very poor job in third down situations. We just gave them too many third down situations."

CATHOLIC MEMORIAL 26, BISHOP GUERTIN (N.H.) 14

BG 0 7 7 0 --- 14
CM 0 12 7 7 --- 26

Second Quarter
C - John Gorman 59 pass from A.J. Doyle (run failed) 10:07
B - Steve Cuipa 3 run (Ryan Card kick) 2:05
C - Armani Reeves 5 pass from Doyle (run failed) 0:22

Third Quarter
C - Reeves 75 punt return (Tom Byrne kick) 5:38
B - Alex Eaton 1 run (Card kick) 2:12

Fourth Quarter
C - Reeves 25 pass from Doyle (Byrne kick) 4:37

Guertin prepares for Mass. bout with No. 8 CM

September, 30, 2010
9/30/10
2:27
PM ET
NASHUA, N.H. — As if the challenge isn't already immense, the fact Bishop Guertin drubbed Catholic Memorial a year ago makes beating the Bay State squad a second time doubly difficult.

“They are going to be out for revenge,” BG senior quarterback Steve Cuipa said without the slightest hint of a smile during Tuesday's rain-soaked practice behind the high school.

Riding a state-best 20-game win streak and ranked No. 3 in New Hampshire, the Cardinals certainly don't expect Friday's 7 p.m. rematch in West Roxbury to resemble last October's laugher. BG blasted Catholic Memorial, 52-13, at Nashua's Stellos Stadium.

The Knights, currently ranked eighth in the ESPNBoston.com Mass. Top 25, haven't forgotten. Their 121 yards of total offense were dwarfed by BG's 450.

“The results last year weren't very pleasing to our side,” CM head coach Alex Campea said by phone. “There's no mincing words. They took it to us pretty good on offense, defense and special teams. If that's a motivating factor, that's a good thing.”

BG – last year's runaway No. 1 team in New Hampshire – scored the game's first 24 points. The rout helped cement the '09 squad among the Granite State's four greatest single-season teams in the schoolboy football playoff era (1972-present). Guertin joined Manchester Memorial (1972), Derry's Pinkerton Academy (1985) and Manchester Central (2004).

But the group Guertin (4-0, 3-0 Div. II) brings into this game bares little resemblance to last year's undefeated Division II champion. Thirty-four seniors graduated from the title team. For that matter, CM (3-0) also features several new faces.

The signal callers, however, are back.

A.J. Doyle leads CM's spread offense. The 6-foot 3-inch, 220-pound junior connected with wideout Armani Reeves for a game-winning 67-yard touchdown in CM's season opener against Lynn Classical.

Cuipa guides Guertin's spread-option attack. The 6-foot-2, 178-pounder threw for 198 yards and three TDs in BG's Week 1 rout at Salem. He also rushed for 51 yards.

Quarterbacks aside, BG's linebackers versus Catholic Memorial's multiple playmakers may be the most pivotal matchup.

Senior Jim Kemos, junior Nolan Cornell and sophomore Andrew Crane are BG's second-level stoppers. The trio is tough on plays between the tackles. But can it prevent junior running backs Donovan Henry and William Earl, along with Reeves, from making plays in the open field?

“They are big and they are fast,” BG head coach Tony Johnson said of the Knights. “If these kids get into space … we'll be chasing a lot of people.”

Campea's focus is making sure momentum this season continues to build for Catholic Memorial. His team last year left Nashua with its first loss in five games. CM went 1-4 after the Guertin game, the four losses coming against league rivals in the super-competitive Catholic Conference.

“We're going to be ready to go,” Campea said. “We're always excited about playing on Friday night. We're always excited about playing at home. That doesn't change when the opponent is a non-league opponent.

“There's a memory of how we didn't perform (last year),” Campea added. “But I want them thinking about how we need to perform.”

Catholic Memorial, though, isn't the only team prepared to make a point.

“This, to me, is as big a game as we're ever going to have,” said Johnson, who feels BG is representing New Hampshire's 57 schools fielding varsity football teams. “We all feel pretty compelled to make sure that people realize that this brand of football is pretty good. And despite the fact we're only 45 miles north of Boston, we do have a very talented group of kids in the state of New Hampshire.”

Or, as Cuipa said during Tuesday's downpour: “We want to go down there, play our best and win.”

Marc Thaler is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News and UnionLeader.com. He has been the high schools reporter for football and lacrosse since joining the statewide newspaper in 2006. A graduate of Syracuse University (2000), he wrote about the state's football history for an exhibit at The Hall at Patriot Place. The Bedford, N.H., native has covered the Little League World Series, NCAA men's lacrosse championships, UNH athletics and New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball. He can be reached at marc.thaler@gmail.com.

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