Monday, September 29, 2014

FNL POLL WEEK 5

Here's this week's top 10 NH football teams in the state, regardless of division. The poll is voted on each week by the members of ESPN New Hampshire's Friday Night Lights program.

1. Pinkerton (6) 4-0
2. Bedford (2) 4-0
3. Concord 4-0
4. Londonderry 3-1
5. Windham 4-0
6. Portsmouth 3-1
7. Salem 3-1
8. Alvirne 3-1
9. Exeter 3-1
10. Goffstown 2-2

Others receiving votes: South (3), St. Thomas (3), Merrimack (1), Winnacunnet (1), Trinity (1), Plymouth (1), Bow (1)

Here's what my ballot looked like...
1. Bedford
2. Pinkerton
3. Concord
4. Salem
5. Londonderry
6. Windham
7. Portsmouth
8. St. Thomas
9. Goffstown
10. Exeter

A couple things to point out...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Exeter Beats Wounded Warriors 15-3

It's definitely rivalry weekend. Pinkerton vs. Londonderry and Nashua North vs. South last night and Exeter vs. Winnacunnet today. During Saturday's game Winnacunnet just couldn't seem to get their offense clicking. They struggled to move the football throughout the contest and only managed to score 3 points. As a result, Exeter got the win 15-3 to improve to 3-1 in Division I play. The Blue Hawks defense was able to contain Warriors QB Brian Auffant, son of head coach Ron Auffant. Brian Auffant has been playing with a back injury.

"We were limited with on offense with what we can run due to injuries" said Coach Auffant. "Our quarterback isn't at 100%, he hasn't been all year. This could be his last game this year. We'll find out this week. We're hoping it's not a stress fracture."

Brian Auffant was 4/11 passing for 52 yards and 12 rushing yards. He threw 2 interceptions - one led to an Exeter touchdown and the other led to a Blue Hawks field goal. Winnacunnet also fumbled the ball 5 times on either snaps or option pitches.

Pinkerton Outlasts Londonderry to Capture Mack Plaque Trophy 41-21

When two teams overall are evenly matched, often times it's the big plays that decide it. That was the case on Friday night's Division I showdown between arch rivals Pinkerton and Londonderry (both 3-0 coming in). On the first play from scrimmage, Pinkerton junior RB/DB TJ Urbanik (who was limitd to just 8 yards on 3 carries last week vs. Salem with a shoulder injury) took the hand off, bounced it to the edge and raced 70 yards up the left sideline for a 70 yard touchdown.

"Before the game I told TJ he was going to score a touchdown on the first play of the game" said Pinkerton head coach Brian O'Reilly. "He's a track star with great speed, as fast as anyone in the state. He was cleared by the doctors to play on Thursday."

Soon after that came the biggest play of the game. It was 2nd and goal for Londonderry on the PA 2 yard line. Lancers QB Eric Fairweather pushed forward, looking for the end zone and it looked like he may have gotten in there. Then the ball came loose, Pinkerton's Riley Cahill recovered the fumble on the 1 yard line and ran 99 yards for the touchdown. Just like that it was 14-0 Astros and the Lancers faithful were stunned at what had just happened.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

HS Insiders on ESPN NH Podcast - 9/23

Earlier tonight I joined Rich Flerra on his show, 'HS Insiders' on ESPN New Hampshire to talk high school football. We recapped some of this past weekend's big games, looked ahead to this weekend's games and also broke down the Week 4 Football Poll. Thanks to Rich for having me on the show. Take a listen to our discussion by clicking below!


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Two clarifications I would like to make regarding what Rich and I discussed on the air...

Monday, September 22, 2014

ESPN NH's Friday Night Lights Football Poll - Week 4

This week's top 10 teams in NHIAA football, regardless of division. Voted on by the members of ESPN New Hampshire's Friday Night Lights program and the Nashua Telegraph.

1) Pinkerton (1.1)
2) Bedford (1.7)
3) Concord (2.6)
4) Londonderry (3.1)
5) Windham (5.1)
6) Salem (5.1)
7) Goffstown (5.9)
8) Exeter (6.5)
9) St.Thomas (8.1)
10) Portsmouth (8.1)

Others Receiving Votes
Nashua South (4)
Plymouth (1)
Trinity (1)
Alvirne (1)
Merrimack (2)
Winnacunet (2)

Here's what my ballot looked like...
1. Pinkerton
2. Bedford
3. Concord
4. Londonderry
5. Salem
6. Windham
7. Goffstown
8. St. Thomas
9. Exeter
10. Nashua South

A couple things to point out...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Shorthanded Pinkerton Escapes With Close Win Over Salem

One of the marks of a championship caliber team is depth, and being able to still win games even when key players are out of the lineup. We've seen it from Bedford, and on Saturday night in Derry we saw it from the Pinkerton Astros.

Junior TJ Urbanik had gotten off to a tremendous start the first two weeks of the season, emerging as one of the top running backs in the state. But against Salem he had 8 yards on 3 carries on the game's opening drive, then left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return.

Pinkerton was able to overcome that loss however and still pull out the win. QB Jack Hanaway and FB/LB Jason Hansen had touchdown runs, and Salem failed to score inside of Pinkerton's 10 yard line twice in game's final 5 minutes. Both times they were stopped just short, at the 1 yard line. As a result, Pinkerton hung on for the 14-7 victory to improve to 3-0 in Division I. Salem falls to 2-1

St. Thomas Wins Close, Hard Fought Battle over MV 17-12

By: DC
It's still very early in this years football season but Saturday's game between the Pride of Merrimack Valley and the Saint Thomas Saints could have a big impact on playoff seeding in Division II. Both teams had preseason plans to play well into November on the road to a state championship. MV already has one loss in the seasons first week to Kennett, another team with preseason championship ambitions. The Saints come into the game undefeated with 2 impressive early season blow outs. The winner of this game puts themselves in the drivers seat in the East conference of Division 2.

Both teams have high powered offenses running from spread formations. They have no fear of putting the ball in the air. St. Thomas scored 103 points in their first two games and MV has the very talented UNH bound quarteterback Ivan Niyomugabo.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Goffstown Notches Its Biggest Win Since Joining D-I

Saturday afternoon's Division I showdown between Goffstown and Exeter was a tossup coming in. Exeter was 2-0 with a pair of close wins, while Goffstown had a blowout win and a close loss to defending champs Concord. And overall it was a fairly even game, but Goffstown has more speed on the edge and a more explosive offense, and they defeated the Blue Hawks at home 28-14 in front of a good crowd. Goffstown has kids who are tough and can make plays at all positions.

Connor Bourque ran for 105 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 47 yard scamper which put the Grizzlies on top 28-14 with just 2:35 left in the 4th quarter. Bourque also caught 5 passes for 19 yards. Goffstown QB Casey Gervais also had a big game, completing 17/22 passes for 122 yards, including a 38 yard TD pass to Christian Marquis.

"I'm not surprised by how good they were, I saw the film" said Exeter head coach Bill Ball. "We put the ball on the grass a little bit, but that was due to them. They're a good team, they were the better team today."

Black and Blue Kearsarge 27-20 Win Over Hanover

By: DC
Friday night in North Sutton the Kearsarge Cougars and Hanover Marauders rekindled an old I-89 rivalry. These two programs have had some classic match ups over the years but because of the new alignments it's been several years since they have played each other. They were scheduled to play last season but the game got cancelled. Last night's game didn't disappoint as the rivalry picked up right where it left off with a hard fought back and forth thriller that the outcome wasn't decided until the last 2 minutes of the game.

Bedford Moves to 3-0, Beats Winnacunnet

By: Jeremy Leveille
Bend but don't break. It may be a cliche in football but it was certainly the case for the Bedford Bulldogs defense on Friday night. Winnacunnet had four drives deep into Bedford territory. Two if them ended in turnover on downs and two of them ended in interceptions. As a result, the Warriors lost to Bedford 21-0 despite out-gaining Bedford in total yardage 268-220 and winning the time of possession battle 29 minutes to 17.

"Bend but not break, it's what we preach" said Bedford head coach Kurt Hines.

"We need to work on our red zone offense" commented Winnacunnet head coach Ron Auffant. "A lot of that falls on me."

Friday, September 19, 2014

Portsmouth Guts Out Win at Memorial

By: Ross Laorenza
After trailing 21-7 with five minutes left in the first half, Portsmouth turned things around to earn their second win of the season, 28-21 at Memorial, Friday night.

“We realize we can play with these guys; we can hang with these teams,” said Coach Pafford post game. Portsmouth improves to 2-1 on the season after moving up to Division-I at the start of the year.

Clipper’s running back Joey Auger was incredible in the game collecting two touchdowns on the ground and a third in the air.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

HS Insiders Podcast on ESPN NH

On Thursday I joined Nick Anastos and Rich Flerra, hosts of High School Insiders on ESPN New Hampshire. We previewed this weekend's big games. Take a listen!


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Thanks to Nick and Rich for having me on the show. Make sure to tune in to them tomorrow for their Friday Night Lights coverage.

ESPN New Hampshire’s Week 3 Friday Night Lights Weekly Top 10

This week's top 10 NHIAA football teams, regardless of division. It was voted on by the members of ESPN New Hampshire's Friday Night Lights, which airs every Friday night during the high school football season plus a Saturday morning coach's show from 9-11.

1. Pinkerton
2. Concord
3. Bedford
4. Exeter
5. Salem
Windham (TIE)
7. Goffstown
8. Londonderry
9. Merrimack
10. Winnacunnet

Others Receiving Votes
Portsmouth(3)
St. Thomas(3)
Plymouth(1)
Trinity(1)
Bishop Guertin(1)

voters: Rich Flerra (ESPN NH); Nick Anastos (ESPN NH); Joe Marchilena (Nashua Telegraph / NH HS Sports); Tom King (Nashua Telegraph); Jeremy Leveille (NH Notebook); Tom Rowe (ESPN NH); Mike Beliveau (ESPN NH); Sean Sendall (ESPN NH); Chris Shuker (ESPN NH)

Here's what my ballot looked like:
1. Pinkerton
2. Bedford
3. Concord
4. Exeter
5. Londonderry
6. Salem
7. Windham
8. St. Thomas
9. Merrimack
10. Goffstown

Some things to make note of:
-It's very hard to rank these teams and to get a read on who is better than who, given the fact that of the 10 teams on my ballot 9 of them are 2-0. The one team I voted for who isn't 2-0 is Goffstown and their loss was only by 6 points and came against the defending champs Concord. Given the fact that Exeter has the smallest margin of victory among the 2-0 teams on the list, one could argue that Goffstown is the favorite in the Goffstown vs. Exeter game on Saturday. Bottom line - until these teams start playing more games against each other it's tough to say who's better than who. This weekend should clear some of that up for sure, since for match ups we have:

Goffstown vs. Exeter
Salem vs. Pinkerton
Bedford vs. Winnacunnet
Merrimack vs. South

And don't forget about St. Thomas vs. Merrimack Valley in on Saturday. We've had a few big early season match ups in D-II. Kennett beat Merrimack Valley, Windham beat Trinity, Lebanon beat Plymouth, Hollis-Brookline beat Milford. This week's big game in D-II is MV vs. St. Thomas. The Saints have been simply dominating the first 2 weeks, outscoring their opponents 103-0. This week will be a good measuring stick game for them, we'll be able to get a better idea of how good they really are and if they belong in the top 10. It's a possible playoff preview game. Plus MV quarterback Ivan Niyomugabo just committed to UNH, and St. Thomas is coached by Eric Cumba, who started at offensive guard for UNH.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Niyomugabo Accepts Offer to Play Football at UNH

We have our first local football player commitment for the Class of 2015, and he's staying close to home. Merrimack Valley High senior Ivan Niyomugabo announced on Tuesday that he has accepted a scholarship offer from the University of New Hampshire. The 6-foot-2, 187 lbs. QB/DB has put MV football back on the map. Last year as a junior he threw for 1,455 yards and 16 touchdowns, while also rushing for 722 yards and 11 TDs.

"In early August I received offers from UNH and the next day from Central Connecticut State" Niyomugabo told the NH Notebook. "For both schools I was the first QB they offered. I'm choosing UNH because they made me work very hard for the offer - from camps to multiple workouts and challenges in the classroom, as well as being in touch with them since 8th grade."

New Hampshire competes in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), a highly competitive Division I conference. The Wildcats are annually one of the top FCS teams in the country, and have been known to recruit some of the state's top local high school talent. They're ranked as the nation's #7 team in the latest FCS top 25 poll.

Maughn Returns to Memorial

With all of the NHIAA basketball prospects leaving for the NEPSAC, there's also the other side of the coin where some kids are returning to their local high school from prep school. And there's nothing wrong that. Every situation is different and every kid is different. Most important is the kid attending school where it's the best fit for them.

The best girls basketball player in the state, Madison Springfield, is returning to Conant High after a year at Marianapolis Prep. Explosive point guard Geo Baker is now at Pinkerton after attending Buckingham Brown & Nichols last year. And now, just a week after his transfer to the Hyde School became official, Trevon Maughn (who led the NHIAA in scoring last year) is returning to Manchester Memorial. This was first reported by Tuesday & Friday on the NH Sports Forum.

"I was at Hyde for a couple days but I didn't really like it there" Maughn told the NH Notebook. "I didn't fit in there, I wanted to go home."

Maughn enrolled at Hyde last Friday and moved in over the weekend. It wasn't the first time he had visited the school, though.

"I first visited there at the end of the summer" said Maughn, a 5-foot-10 senior guard. "At the time I didn't think it was that bad. But then when I went back this weekend and moved in I didn't like it and realized it wasn't a good fit."

So now Maughn is looking to put that experience behind him and move on. He's happy to be back at Memorial with his friends. And now the Crusaders have to be considered the favorite to win the NHIAA Division I title in 2014-2015. They'll have arguably the division's two best players with Maughn and Kabongo Ngalakulondi. And with Wade Gop, Malo Roumraj, Craig Preston and Brandon Scott, Memorial's top six players return from a team that made the Final Four last season.

"I think we're going to win the championship this year" Maughn concluded.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Evans Transfers from Londonderry to St. Andrew's

That's right folks, yet another top NHIAA basketball prospect is headed off to prep school. Casey Evans has started for the Londonderry High girls basketball team since she was a freshman. She is an all-state player and helped lead the Lancers to the Division I state championship last year as a junior. But rather than returning to Londonderry for her senior year, Evans has transferred to the St. Andrews School and will reclassify to the Class of 2016. St. Andrew's is a prep school in the NEPSAC which is located in Barrington, RI.

"It was really last minute when I went to tour the school and interview at St. Andrew's" said Evans, a 5-foot-11 forward. "I play AAU with my friend Macy (her brother is Michael Carter-Williams) and her mom saw me play in Chicago and suggested that I look into St. Andrew's. Michael graduated from this school before he went to Syracuse and he is an awesome mentor! When I toured the St. Andrew's, I instantly fell in love with the school. The campus is gorgeous, and the ocean is a block away! It was where I wanted to go."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Windham Avenges Playoff Loss, Runs Over Trinity

Windham had extra motivation for their home game vs. Trinity on Saturday afternoon, since the Pioneers knocked the Jaguars out of the playoffs each of the past two years. Windham got their redemption, defeating Trinity 49-12. The Jaguars used a slew of big plays. QB Brendan McInnis ran for a 78 yard touchdown, RB/DB Kellin Bail had TD runs of 66 and 47 yards, Kurtis Jolicoeur ran for a 52 yard score and McInnis threw a 33 yard TD pass to Joe Frake. Windham has good talent at the skill positions but they also got some great blocking up front.

"Our line doesn't get enough credit, they did a great job" said McInnis, who passed for 90 yards and 2 TDs and also rushed for 90 yards and 1 TD.

"It's easy to run when our line opens up the holes" Bail concurred.

Windham solidified its status as one of the favorites in Division II. They're big, they're fast, they're physical and they have playmakers on both sides of the ball. They're also a veteran team led by a strong group of seniors.