Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Summertime Snapshot Series: D-VI Football

Today we take a look at Division VI, it's the last stop in our tour of the six divisions in NHIAA football. Also this week we will have our NHIAA football season preview article and I will be posting my thoughts on the new 3 division realignment that will be implemented starting in the 2013 season. Also the preseason WGAM/Nashua Telegraph Power Poll will be released and I will be revealing my ballot and giving my explanation for why I have each team ranked where I do.

Then this weekend we will be kicking off week 1 of the season by covering 2 games on Friday and 2 more games on Saturday. I'll be covering Dover @ Exeter on Friday night and Bishop Guertin @ Pinkerton on Saturday, and our northern NH correspondent 'DC' will be covering 2 games in the lower divisions.

It's an exciting time in the Granite State and on the NH Notebook! Also check out our friends at NH Sportspage and NH Football Report who are also providing some great coverage.

Now, back to Division VI football! So this is another division that had some teams moving around. Just like in D-V, the two teams who met in last year's championship game are moving up a division as both Interlakes-Moultonborough (the D-VI champ in 2011) and Epping-Newmarket (the runner-up) are both moving up to D-V. Taking their place is Campbell and Bishop Brady, who both missed the playoffs last season in D-V.

This is a Wide Open Division!
So Interlakes-Moultonborough and Epping-Newmarket both left the division, which means we are guaranteed to have 2 new teams in the title game in 2012. Not only that, but think about all of the big games in Division VI football from last year - Conor Donovan, Logan Merritt (Newport), Connor Smith (Franklin), Brendan Murphy (Gilford), Dustin Jarosz (Epping-Newmarket) and Shannon Tucker (Newfound). Those guys have all graduated. So it will be very interesting to see who steps up this season and takes the place of those guys as the new stars in D-VI.

This also means that this division will be very wide open. Campbell is the preseason favorite, but they are by no means a lock to win this thing. Franklin and Newport are the most consistent teams in the division and should once again contend for a playoff spot. Gilford and Winnisquam could also make some noise. Look for Malcom Benavides from Gilford and Winnisquam's Patrick Sanborn to be among the division's top players once again.

And you also can't count out Newfound and Bishop Brady. Mascoma also has some good young talent coming up, although they have struggled in recent years. Raymond went 0-9 last year but had an undefeated JV team, and Farmington has now merged with Nute High and giving them the highest enrollment in the division. Like I said, it's wide open!

Wade Makes Campbell the Favorite
Campbell's junior play maker Jesiah Wade is hands down the best player in Division VI this season. He was a 1st team all-state player last season in Division V, and there is definitely a big difference between D-V and D-VI. The scary thing is he was just starting to scratch the surface of his potential last season, so I expect him to really blow up in 2012. And in a down year for D-VI where the 2 finalists from last year move up a division and guys like Merritt, Smith, Murphy and Tucker all graduate, having a kid as talented as Wade on your squad is enough to make you the favorite. So yeah, Campbell's the favorite.

The 5-foot-9 Wade is one of the most athletic players in the entire state, let alone in D-VI. He has incredible speed, strength and elusiveness and has the ability to take it for six anytime he touches the football. Look for the Cougars to move him around the field - sometimes have him line as a WR and either throw it to him in the flat or have him go down field for deep passes, sometimes have him run the ball off tackles or on sweeps, sometimes come out of the backfield to catch screen passes, etc. The bottom line is Coach Prindiville is going to try and get Wade the football out in space as much as possible and moving him around the field will keep defenses off balance. Not to mention he is a very dangerous return man on kickoffs and punts. Oh yeah, and on defense he is also a fierce, hard-hitting DB who can cover opposing receivers and also help out on run defense.

What to Expect from Franklin and Newport?
Franklin and Newport are the only two teams in Division VI who made the playoffs last season. Newport won the Division title in 2010, and Franklin won the first ever D-VI championship back in 2008 (over Campbell). These are two programs who are ALWAYS competitive, and that is largely due to their coaches. Larry Carle (Newport) and Greg Husband (Franklin) have both been around for a long time and have established their programs as consistent winners.

With that being said, both coaches definitely have their work cut out for them. They both have very young teams. Franklin for example has a whopping 16 sophomores on the team, while Newport only has 7 seniors.

Under Coach Husband, Franklin has been known as a run-oriented team who very rarely threw the football. But over the past couple years they had a QB with a good arm in Connor Smith so they threw it a little more. Well now that he as graduated look for them to go back to run, run, run. Look for opposing defenses to get a healthy dose of Korey Parent running the ball at them. Parent was a 2nd team all-state selection in 2011.

Newport may also have one of their weaker teams in recent years. Not only did they graduate Logan Merritt, but they also graduated Cole Boone, Justin Beauchaine and Zebulon Swenson. That's right folks, Newport graduated a whopping FOUR linemen who were 1st team all-state players last season, ouch! Coach Carle is going to need some other guys to step up to fill these big shoes if the Tigers hope to return to the playoffs. They also graduate key contributors Greg Beaulieu and Devin Burnham.

Return to Power for Brady?
Bishop Brady has struggled for the past couple years and had zero all-state players last season, but they were in the D-V championship game in 2005, 2006 and 2009 so it wasn't too long ago when they were very good. Moving down a division this year should be just what Brady needs to turn their program around.

And head coach Greg Roberts is certainly doing what he can do motivate his players, as he posted the following on the Bishop Brady website:

"We are determined to re-establish our physical presence as a top football program. We can be the best in Division VI with gains in leadership, knowledge of the game, skills, strength and speed. This will only be accomplished by a willingness to make a strong commitment and sacrifice. The coaching staff look forward to the challenges ahead and making history in 2012. GO GIANTS"

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