Boston High School: Travis Cote

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

September, 2, 2012
9/02/12
9:04
PM ET
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

October, 13, 2011
10/13/11
8:39
PM ET
The Little Green cross country machine didn't take long to hit high gear.

New HampshireBoth the boys' and girls' teams for Manchester Central High, fresh off last year's NHIAA championship campaigns, served notice in the season-opening race Oct. 11 that they're still the squads to beat.

Dylan Lafond led the boys and Elizabeth Conway paced the girls as Central swept the Manchester City Championship at Derryfield Park.

“This race was the first step (in the championship season),” Lafond told the New Hampshire Union Leader after posting the lone sub-17-minute time of 16 minutes, 55.6 seconds. “Our goal is to win states, and if we make New Englands, even better.”

Central's boys secured the top three finishes on the 3.1-mile course. Sean Brown and Matt Becker finished second and third, respectively, with times of 17:06.5 and 17:11.2.

Those times helped the Little Green record 26 team points. Manchester Memorial High's Adam Vargas (17:18.1) finished fourth. The Crusaders placed second with 40 points, followed by Manchester West High (70) and Trinity High (74).

Central's girls were equally dominant. Elizabeth Conway had a lot to do with it.

Conway crossed the finish line in 18:54.7. Teammate Laurel Gagnon (20:03.8) finished second – exactly 1:09.1 after Conway. Megan Brockett clinched third with a time of 20:48.5.

Kaitlin George-Blay led the Crusaders. Her time of 21:09 was good for fourth place.

Gang Green scored 20 team points to distance itself from Memorial (56), Trinity (68) and West (102).

“It was scorching on those hills,” Conway told the Union Leader. “Our team is looking pretty strong, though we do have a couple of girls fighting injuries.”

The division championships take place Oct. 29. Central certainly seems posed to, yet again, dominate Division I.

(Read full post)

Recap: No. 13 CM 42, Bishop Guertin (N.H.) 0

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
11:17
PM ET
NASHUA, N.H. – Fifteen players on the 2011 Catholic Memorial football roster were on the team two years ago, when the Knights suffered a 39-point loss to Bishop Guertin.

If you thought those players had put that loss behind them, well … you'd be wrong.

“Revenge” is what the CM players shouted when they broke their team huddle after Friday night's 42-0 victory over BG.

“When you lose 52-13 on someone's field and you're coming back there you know you want revenge,” CM quarterback A.J. Doyle said. “We had 15 guys playing as sophomores when we came up here and got destroyed, so winning 42-0 feels pretty good. This is a team that, when we're on, it's something special.”

Wide receiver Armani Reeves, who was injured in the first half of that loss to BG two years ago, scored three touchdowns Friday night. He opened the scoring by grabbing an 8-yard touchdown pass from Doyle on CM's opening possession, and scored on a 41-yard run the second time CM had the ball.

Reeves, who will play defensive back at Penn State, also scored on a 69-yard run on the first play of the third quarter. Running time was used after Michael Keane made the fifth of his six PAT kicks to five CM a 35-0 lead.

“We were sophomores then and it was embarrassing,” Reeves said. “We wanted to come out here and prove that we're not the team of two years ago. We're much improved. I was happy with my performance and with the team. We played hard the whole game.”

CM's other touchdowns came on a 69-yard TD run from Donovan Henry, a 26-yard pass from Doyle to Penn State-bound Camren Williams, and a 5-yard run by backup quarterback Pat Shore with 23.3 second left. Henry will play college football at Boston College.

“They just dominated us [two years ago],” Williams said. “They ran up the score by passing the ball when they were up 40 whatever it was to 13. They wanted to score and keep going. They kept the starters in the whole game so it was kind of like a big revenge thing on this field.”

The victory improved CM's record to 2-1. BG, which has won six of the last seven Division II championships in New Hampshire, dropped to 3-2.

The Cardinals played without starting quarterback Bob Fahey (ankle) and defensive back/split end Brody Smith (broken leg).

“I don't think we played hard,” first-year BG coach Travis Cote said. “We wanted to show them that we have good teams here in New Hampshire, but after they scored the first touchdown I could see the heads down and that was it. We didn't get a good effort the rest of the night.

“I'm not so disappointed that we lost, it was the way we lost. We didn't compete as hard as we should have.”

Reeves gained a game-high 110 yards on his two carries, and Doyle completed 12 of 16 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

““He's a playmaker, plain and simple," Doyle said. "He can take it to the house on any play.

“I had plenty of time and the receivers were wide open. They did a great job running their routes. It was an easy night.”

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
3:58
PM ET
A year ago, underclassmen-laden Pinkerton Academy wasn't supposed to win its 10th Division I football championship since the celebrated 1985 season. But the young Astros, facing foes with far more experience, beat those odds.

New HampshireThis time around, the odds of repeating are overwhelmingly in their favor.

"Our focus doesn't change at all, even when we're not the favorites," Pinkerton head coach Brian O'Reilly said. "We simply strive for championships. That's our goal, otherwise it's not a successful year."

Quite simply, there isn't a more complete team, at present, than the one residing in Derry.

The Astros return almost everyone. Twelve of the team's 20 seniors are returning starters.

Bulldozer Kevin Davies and speedy Emmitt Smith are the focal points of Pinkerton's Wing-T offense. But there's also junior quarterback Chris St. Onge and sophomore Manny Latimore that round out the returning starting backfield.

Andrew Curran, exclusively a top-line defensive back in 2010, will reprise that role this season. But he's expected to earn touches on offense, too.

On a team stacked with superb athletes, Ryan Coombs could prove most dynamic. The 5-foot 11-inch, 178-pound senior kicks, punts, catches passes and patrols the defensive secondary.

“He's a big-game player. He can be a difference-maker. He's got some outstanding athletic ability that other kids do not have,” O'Reilly said of Coombs. “He just turned 17 for his senior year. He really doesn't come off the field.”

Linebackers Branden Rodgers, Davies and Matt Madden, last year the team's second-leading tackler as a freshman, were huge reasons the Astros excelled in red-zone defense. The linebacking corps added depth with the return of Matt St. Onge, sidelined in '10 with an ACL injury.

Understandably, the Astros were unanimously voted No. 1 in the preseason edition of the fourth-year statewide poll, a joint effort involving the New Hampshire Union Leader, WGAM-Radio and WMUR-TV.

Based on history alone, Pinkerton is the preseason pick.

Since O'Reilly's fabled Ryan Mihalko- and Joe Segreti-led 1985 team surprised everyone to win it all (the program's debut season in Division I) the Astros have always won championships in chunks.

The Astros went back-to-back in 1985-86, copped four straight crowns from 1991-94, and rattled off a three-peat from 2005-07.

But don't talk championship pep rally with O'Reilly just yet. Pinkerton's 34-year head coach knows a grid king isn't crowned in the preseason.

“We might be pegged as favorites. But we weren't pegged as favorites last year – and we won,” he said. “Our focus is 'Don't allow newspaper clippings to influence hard work.'”

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

June, 22, 2011
6/22/11
8:43
PM ET
Considering the contest's national significance and how the seven-inning bout played out, there's just one way to sum up the Division II baseball final.

It was sensational.

New HampshirePortsmouth High prevailed in a thriller – a game played in 2 hours, 8 minutes but over the course of two days – to stun Seacoast rival St. Thomas Aquinas High of Dover. The Clippers clinched a 9-6 win at the home of Double-A baseball's New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

The last title game of the NHIAA's “Super Saturday,” a June 18 quadruple-header at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, ended with No. 1 seed Portsmouth (20-0) celebrating a fourth consecutive crown and national record-extending 83rd straight win.

“What the program has accomplished and what we've gone through, and the attention (the win streak) has earned, to get to this point and not finish it with a win, that wasn't something I was prepared to deal with,” Portsmouth coach Tim Hopley said. “It was a real important game for us.”

Three storylines from the much-anticipated matchup:

Strange time to start. The game was scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m. Portsmouth ace and Northeastern-bound Keegan Taylor didn't fire the first pitch until 10:23.

The last out wasn't recorded until 12:45 Sunday morning.

STA-Portsmouth followed the Division IV final, delayed 50 minutes by thunder. Weather was just one factor contributing to the lengthy game that pushed back the main event's scheduled start time.

“We gave both teams the option of coming back (to play Sunday). It was late. But everybody preferred to get it in,” NHIAA executive director Pat Corbin said. “We had a tremendous crowd. For the kids, they'll always be able to say, 'We're the ones that played the latest game in the history of New Hampshire.'”

Dueling aces. Five summers ago, they were the Nos. 1 and 2 pitchers for Portsmouth's Little League World Series team that reached the U.S. semifinals. As the clock approached 1 a.m. Sunday, STA ace Jordan Bean and Taylor squared off in the game's key sequence.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES