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.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vailas Shines in Bedford Win Over Portsmouth

Michael Vailas solidified his status as one of the top players in NH high school football, Bedford showed that they're arguably the best team in the state, and the Bulldogs avenged their 2011 championship game loss. The result was an emphatic 37-7 win for Bedford over Portsmouth on Friday night in Division I.

Vailas was an absolute beast in this game, rushing for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 carries, passing for 1 TD and on defense he intercepted 2 passes, one of which he returned 45 yards for a score. Vailas also returned punts, which helped Bedford in the battle of field position, which they won throughout. Great players make big plays and Vailas did just that. Additionally, senior running back Colin Cashin stepped up, rushing for 126 yards and 1 TD.

"We wanted redemption" said Bedford head coach Kurt Hines. "I'm pleased with how we played. Mike Vailas is a very versatile player, that' why I put him at quarterback. We had difficult circumstances, with starting running back Mike Collins breaking his leg in four places during Wednesday's practice. But the kids responded and I'm proud of them."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Concord Earns Road Victory at Winnacunnet

By: Ross Laorenza
Concord and Winnacunnet headed into Friday night’s game both looking to start the season 2-0. Winnacunnet defeated Dover handily last week 55-0, while Concord was coming off a 26-20 win over Goffstown. The Crimson Tide would be victorious, gritting out a 33-21 win.

Concord won the coin toss and elected to differ. An early interception by George Tarwo (#42) looked to give his team good field position, but a fumble on Concord’s first offensive play gave the ball back over to Winnacunnet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spartans Fall Classic 2014 Coming Soon!

One of the biggest tournaments of the fall AAU basketball season is coming to New Hampshire on October 11-12. It's the 2014 Spartans Fall Classic, and it will take place at The Rim, a state of the art basketball facility in Hampton, NH.

The tournament is being run by the NH Spartans AAU program. There will be both girls and boys divisions, for grades 3-12. There have already been over 40 teams signed up. More teams are welcome to enter though, as they are expecting closer to 100 total teams or more. Each division will have a championship, and each team will play a minimum of 3 games.

The NH Notebook will be in the house, providing exclusive coverage of the tournament's high school divisions. We'll have in depth analysis and evaluations of the tourney's top prospects.

For more information or to sign your team up, visit: http://nhspartans.com/

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ESPN NH's Friday Night Lights Football Poll - Week 2

Friday Night Lights on ESPN NH is back for another season of high school football coverage, bringing live coverage of the games on Friday nights and a recap show on Saturday mornings. Once again the program's staff, along with the Nashua Telegraph put out their weekly statewide top 10 teams.

Here is this week's poll...
1. Pinkerton
2. Concord
3. Exeter
4. Bedford
5. Winnacunnet
6. Portsmouth
7. Londonderry (Tie)
Windham (Tie)
9. Salem
10. Merrimack

Others Receiving Votes
Goffstown (3)
Plymouth (3)
South Nashua (3)
Trinity (2)
Milford (1)
BG (1)

Here is what my ballot looked like...
1. Pinkerton
2. Concord
3. Bedford
4. Exeter
5. Winnacunnet
6. Portsmouth
7. Londonderry
8. Windham
9. Salem
10. Merrimack

Just missing the cut on my ballot was St. Thomas, who impressed in a 48-0 win Saturday over Sanborn. Concord @ Winnacunnet and Bedford @ Portsmouth are 2 big games on Friday night, which are sure to shake up the rankings. Trinity vs. Windham is a big early season showdown in D-II. We'll have all 3 games covered here on the NH Notebook.

Also, for anyone opposed to the 3 division format, it should be noted that only 2 of the top 6 and 4 of the top 10 teams in this week's poll were D-I teams when there were 6 divisions. Back when there were 6 divisions, D-II was typically just as strong and just as deep as D-I and we're seeing that again this year.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Prep School Breakdown

It's no secret that more and more of the NHIAA's top players are leaving for prep school. The most competitive prep school basketball league in the country is right here in New England. Better competition, more exposure, smaller classroom sizes, easier access to basketball gym / weight room - it's tough for the NHIAA schools to compete with that.

Here's a list of boys basketball players who have transferred from the NHIAA to prep school over the off-season.
Trevon Maughn - Manchester Memorial to Hyde School (Class of 2016)
Brett Hanson - Manchester Central to Tilton School (Class of 2016)
Jourdain Bell - Bishop Brady to Lee Academy (Class of 2016)
Joseph Bell - Bishop Brady to Lee Academy (Class of 2017)
Luke Rosinski - Pinkerton to Kimball Union Academy (Class of 2016)
Wenyen Gabriel - Trinity to Wilbraham & Monson (Class of 2016)
Caleb Green - Londonderry to Proctor Academy (Class of 2017)
Matt Glassman - Bedford to Lawrence Academy (Class of 2018)
Josh Joyce - Gilford to Holderness School (Class of 2015)
Zach Bergeon - Campbell to New Hampton School (Class of 2016)
Ben Swett - Exeter High to Phillips Exeter Academy (Class of 2017)

Other local kids who will be playing at prep schools this year...
Collin McManus - Northfield Mount Hermon - former Bedford High player (Class of 2015)
Ian Sistare - Northfield Mount Hermon - former Trinity player from Dublin, NH (Class of 2016)
Tim Preston - Lawrence Academy - former Nashua High South player (Class of 2015)
Max Kirsch - Phillips Exeter Academy - from Atkinson, NH (Class of 2016)
Mitchell Kirsch - Phillips Exeter Academy - from Atkinson, NH (Class of 2017)
JT Thompson - Phillips Exeter Academy - from Stratham, NH (Class of 2016)
Tschiefu Ngalakulondi - Proctor Academy - former Manchester Memorial player (Class of 2017)
Patrick Welch - Notre Dame Prep - former Pembroke player doing PG year (Class of 2015)
Robert O'Brien - Cushing Academy - former Conant player doing PG year (Class of 2015)
Julien Buffalino - St. Paul's School - from Peterborough, NH (Class of 2017)
Keegan Kirby - Brooks School - from Hampton, NH (Class of 2017)
Chad Knighton - Holderness School - from Lisbon, NH (Class of 2015)
Quentin Bullen - Worcester Academy - from Exeter, NH (Class of 2015)

Maughn Transferring from Memorial to Hyde School

Another kid is transferring from the NHIAA to prep school - and it's arguably the most improved player in the state over the past year. After leading Manchester Memorial to the Division I Final Four last season, Trevon Maughn is transferring to the Hyde School, a prep school which has campuses in CT and ME. He will repeat his junior year and reclassify to the Class of 2016.

"I report to school and will start moving in there on Friday" Maughn told the NH Notebook. "I'll be attending their Woodstock, CT campus. The paper work and financial aid all went through, but I thought I wouldn't be able to go there until next year. But then I got a call that a spot opened up for me to go there this year. I'm excited because this will help me get better as a player; but also nervous because I don't know anyone there."

Maughn is a 5-foot-10 guard who can play the 1 or the 2. He can flat out shoot the lights out, with the ability to hit shots from all over the floor, off the catch or the dribble. Maughn can score in bunches but is also an underrated passer and defender. He had a breakout junior season last year at Memorial, and continued to play well over the spring / summer on the AAU circuit with the DC Blue Devils, receiving recruiting interest from George Mason, Old Dominion and multiple D-II schools.

"In my opinion he's the most improved player in the state" said Maughn's AAU coach with the DC Blue Devils, TJ Thompson. "He went from a player no one wanted to the leading scorer in NH. It's been a pleasure to coach Trevon. He's bought in to what I've been teaching him and has worked his tail off."

By leaving Memorial, Maughn gives up a chance at an NHIAA state title his senior year. If he had stayed, the returning core of Maughn, Kabongo Ngalakulondi, Wade Gop, Malo Roumraj and Craig Preston would have made the Crusaders the favorites in D-I.

"He can play the 1 or the 2, but I think he'll play mostly point at the Hyde School" said Coach Thompson, a former standout at George Washington University. "He led the state in scoring, but he also has good leadership and the ability to run a team."

Saturday, September 6, 2014

St. Thomas Pounds Sanborn in Opener

St. Thomas and Sanborn were two fairly evenly matched teams last season. In fact Sanborn made the playoffs and St. Thomas did not. But that was last year and this is this year. Clearly they are no longer an even match up, as St. Thomas clobbered Sanborn 48-0 on Saturday on a hot, muggy afternoon.

St. Thomas returns 19 starters. One of the few positions where there's a new starter is at quarterback. How did junior Stephen Hedberg do in his first career varsity start? He was 7/8 passing for 199 yards, 3 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions. He completed passes to 6 different receivers and also rushed for 26 yards and 1 TD. Hedberg did all of that in just 1 half of football, because his team was up 42-0 at halftime so St. Thomas sat their starters the whole 2nd half. Did I mention it was Hedberg's first career varsity start at QB?

"This was definitely a confidence boost" said Hedberg, who beat out Trevor Martin for the starting QB spot even though Martin was the starter the past 2 years. "I put in a lot of work over the summer, because I knew me and Trevor would be battling it out."

Fairweather & Ryan Return From Injury, Lead Londonderry Past BG

Sometimes when an athlete is returning from a serious injury that caused him to miss either all or most of the previous season, he will hold back and play tentatively, afraid to get re-injured. Other times however the player will be so pumped to get back on the field they will go out there and play amazing. What happened in Friday nights Londonderry vs. BG game was definitely the latter.

QB/DB Eric Fairweather connected with RB/DB Michael Ryan on a 42 yard touchdown pass. Fairweather rushed for 111 yards and 2 TDs, including an 80 yard TD run. Plus Fairweather and Ryan intercepted 2 passes apiece on defense, leading the Lancers to a 28-6 win over Bishop Guertin in the season opener.

Ryan missed the entire 2013 season with a knee injury, and QB/DB Eric Fairweather missed the majority of last season with a hand injury as well as a knee injury. Londonderry still made the playoffs despite those injuries. Now they are both back and healthy for their senior season. The Lancers also have a new head coach in Jimmy Lauzon who has brought a new sense of optimism and energy to the program.

Merrimack Rolls Over Keene in Opener

By: Ross Laorenza
The Merrimack Tomahawks got off to a great start with their 35-0 shutout of the Keene Blackbirds. Coach Laurendi said it was a “good start” for his club but they have a “steep climb ahead.”

Sophomore quarterback Justin Grassini (#15) shined in his debut, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for a third. “He showed great composure, Laurendi added after the game.

The Tomahawks opened the scoring with a 64 yard touchdown strike from Grassini to senior wideout Andrew DeGregorio (#11). After DeGregorio got separation for the Keene cornerback Grassini hit him in stride for the score.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

2014-2015 Preseason Address

With the start of a new school year, and our sixth year of high school sports coverage here at the New Hampshire Notebook, I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to the hundreds of loyal readers across the state who have helped make this website a success. We wouldn't be able to do it without the support of you, the readers - thank you.

I would also like to thank our contributing reporters - DC, Tuesday & Friday, and Ross Laorenza. They have donated hours upon hours of their time, driving out to games all over the state, staying up late at night writing articles, etc. I thank each of them very much for their valuable contributions to the site.

Since July 2009 when I started this website from scratch the goal of the site has not changed - to promote and recognize the hard working high school athletes of NH, and to inform readers of relevant stories pertaining to NH high school sports. Our aim is to promote, recognize and inform - it is not to make money. With that being said, sponsorships and donations are certainly encouraged and that's why my last thank you goes out to all of the folks who have donated or done a sponsorship in the past six years. Every little bit helps, and for more information you may email me at: jeremy.leveille@gmail.com.

Thanks again to everyone. Now let's have another great year!

Jeremy Leveille
New Hampshire Notebook
"The way high school sports should be covered"

Saturday, August 30, 2014

2014 Queen City Jamboree - Event Recap

The annual Queen City Jamboree took place on Friday night at Gill Stadium in Manchester, kicking off the 2014 NH high school football season. Here are the final scores, followed by a recap of each game.

Merrimack 21 Souhegan 0
Salem 21 Trinity 8
Memorial 20 West 12
Goffstown 15 Timberlane 0
Bishop Guertin 27 Central 0
Pinkerton 14 Concord 0

Friday, August 29, 2014

Granite State Games Coming in 2015

Bragging rights will be on the line, the state's top athletes will be on display as players from all regions of the state will compete in seven different sports - and it will all be done for a great cause. It's the first annual Granite State Games, and it take place June 25-28, 2015 at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. The event is for athletes in the Classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018.

"There's already a lot of excitement building around the event" said Roger Dunning, the Granite State Games Director of Basketball. "The games are all about character and integrity, but they're also about giving back. It's a non-profit event, so any money that is collected goes directly into a scholarship fund for NH athletes."

June 25 will be the opening ceremony, with the games taking place June 26-28 at SNHU. A statewide tournament will take place for the following seven sports - basketball, soccer, track & field, tennis, lacrosse, volleyball and field hockey. For each tournament there will be a boys division and a girls division. The state will be broken into 4 regions - Monadnock Region, South Region, Seacoast Region and Lakes Region. Each division will have 1 team from each region.

Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 Sam Carey All-Star Classic - Event Recap

BST Basketball and the Rock On Foundation teamed up for the third annual Sam Carey All-Star Classic on Friday night at Central High School in Manchester to honor the late Sam Carey. Carey was a standout forward at Central and then at SNHU and was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. This event serves to honor Carey's memory and raise money for the Rock On Foundation which is run by Matt and Luke Bonner to renovate local basketball courts.

It was a first-class event that run to a tee. You had a standing room only crowd. Two great games with a ton of talent on display, touching speeches by Luke Bonner and David Cooper, a halftime performance by Boston Celtics mascot Lucky and music provided by JAM'N 94.5. It was a great night for NH basketball.

There was an alumni game played, which featured a collection of players who either played with or against Carey in high school and / or college, or were personal friends of his. This year a second all-star game was added to the event, consisting of local players from NH who are either headed off to play college ball or at a prep school next season. Both games were played at a high level.