Next up in my positional previews is the wideouts. They will be followed by defense and offensive line rankings and then after that I will post my current top 10 football teams in NH.
Here are the Rankings
1. Mike Kelly - Bishop Guertin - 2011
2. Brendan McKenna - Souhegan - 2011
3. Junior Brown - Manchester Central - 2012
4. Nilsson Basora - Nashua South - 2011
5. Kevin Cheam - Pelham - 2013
6. Billy Lane - Portsmouth - 2012
7. Armond McRae - Nashua South - 2012
8. Sean O'Gorman - Londonderry - 2012
9. Evan Anaya - Alvirne - 2012
10. Luke Somers - Pinkerton - 2011
11. Sam Graham - Manchester Central - 2011
12. Mike Lorenz - Salem - 2011
It Shouldn't Be a Surprise...
That one the list is short and two there are many players on the list who also play halfback. It shouldn't be a surprise because let's be honest, this is high school football - there isn't a ton of passing. Look at Pinkerton, Plymouth and Exeter, three of the top football programs in the state over the last 10 years. They almost never pass the football. Salem won D-I last season, and did so averaging less than 5 pass attempts per game. So if you're a playmaker you're probably running the ball for your team, and also being used occasionally when your coach decides to throw the ball. That's why this list is short, and many of the players on it are threats to not only catch the ball, but run it as well.
There Are Always Exceptions of Course
Yes, it's true. There's not a lot of passing in high school football, especially in NH. And it's not like this is earth shattering news either, it's pretty well known. However there are 3 teams in particular who are bucking the trend. Nashua South, Pelham and Souhegan.
Souhegan: These guys had the best running back in the state last season. If any other team had a kid like Steven Jellison they would have handed him the ball 30-40 times a game. But the Sabers actually had one of the state's best passing attacks, with quarterback DJ Petropulos and wideouts Tyler Wing and Brendan McKenna.
Nashua South and Pelham: Only Pelham threw the ball more than the Purple Panthers a year ago. The thing that both South and Pelham have in common is that they both graduated star backs in 2009 (David Zocco for South and Bruce Veira for Pelham). Both teams were also returning QB's who led them to state titles in 2008 (Keith Farkas for South and Joe D'Angelo for Pelham). So I suppose it was simple for these coaches. You no longer have a star back to hand the ball off to. Your best returning player is the QB, so why not let him throw it?
As for the Players Themselves...
The top 7 kids on this list have tremendous upside. Mike Kelly can flat out fly. I mentioned this in my article on the running backs, but it will be interesting to see how BG uses him this season. The same can be said for O'Gorman, Lane, McRae and Somers. The top "Pure wideouts" this year will be McKenna, Brown, Basora and Cheam. Let's take a closer look at them...
McKenna left Souhegan's basketball team mid-season to focus on football. Not sure what exactly he was doing instead of basketball though. You would think it would be lifting, but the kid was already jacked early in the basketball season when he was still on the team. He was probably doing some speed training. Coach Heaney tells me that McKenna is being recruited pretty heavily by colleges for football though. The kid is extremely big at 6'4", extremely strong and has good speed. He's in an offense that likes to throw the football, and has a good QB to throw him the ball in Luks. McKenna should see plenty of passes come his way and should have a big year.
This kid is a heck of an athlete. He's 6'2", so not as tall as McKenna and not as strong, but he is definitely faster and more athletic. He missed the first few games last season for Central, but as the season went on, Brown really came into his own as a receiver and developed good chemistry with QB and fellow sophomore Jared Chandler. Hard to believe him and Chandler are both just sophomores, especially with the way they both played in the Salem game last week of the regular season. That will be a VERY scary combination in 2011 when they're both seniors.
One of the most athletic kids in NH, regardless of class, regardless of sport. I saw him make some very acrobatic grabs last year, turning his body around in mid-air or flipping around and still hauling it in. Despite playing in a pass-happy offense and with Farkas at QB, Basora didn't put up huge numbers though. One reason is because Farkas also had Nick Haskell and Armond McRae to throw to, the other reason was because he was inconsistent. McRae is still there, but Haskell is graduating. And Farkas will be a senior of course. So if Basora can be more consistent he will also have a big year.
It is true that they both played in lower divisions, but Cheam and Tate Jozokos from Kingswood had the two biggest seasons of any freshman in the state last year. Cheam should the ability to catch the ball in traffic and blazing speed in the open field. With the way this kid played as only a freshman last year, the sky is the limit for him if he keeps getting better. Last year Pelham had 2 excellent wideouts with Josh Luciano in addition to Cheam. Luciano is graduating, so you would think Cheam would get more opportunities. However the kid who made that whole offense go last year was QB Joe D'Angelo and he was a senior last year. Cheam could struggle unless someone steps up as D'Angelo's replacement under center. You could see more of a conservative offense this year for the Pythons.