Today we announce our pick for NH Mr. Football, Defensive Player of the Year, Select our Game of the Year and take an early look at next season's favorites.
Our top candidates for NH Mr. Football are...
Elyjah Dejoie, Somersworth High - led the entire state in rushing yards and TDs.
Connor DiCesare, Portsmouth High - the Clippers' first year in D-I, thy had a ton of injuries and DiCesare was forced to shoulder the load and throw the ball a ton despite it being his first year as starting QB. He still managed to put up outstanding passing numbers and lead Portsmouth to a playoff berth.
Eric Fairweather, Londonderry High - his Lancers team finished as arguably the #2 team in the state. Fairweather was easily his team's most valuable player, amassing a whopping 28 total touchdowns. He was always a threat to score a TD, either passing or rushing. Was a hard-hitting DB capable of picking off passes and also returned kicks.
Stephen Hedberg, St. Thomas - threw a state record 35 TD passes, led his team to D-II finals where he threw 4 TD passes.
Brendan McInnis, Windham High - led Jaguars to undefeated championship season in D-II, throwing 5 TD passes in the title game.
TJ Urbanik, Pinkerton Academy - Pinkerton was hands down the best team in the state. They won the D-I title going undefeated and Urbanik was their most explosive player, going off for 247 yards and 2 TDs in final. Also a weapon on defense and special teams.
Michael Vailas, Bedford High - Bedford went undefeated with Vailas in the lineup. He had the ability to score a TD on any given play, whether it be rushing or passing. Also a ball hawk on 'D' and threat to score a TD at any time on special teams.
Our pick for Mr. Football? Eric Fairweather. The top 5 teams in the state this year were Pinkerton, Londonderry, Salem, Bedford and Windham. Salem is the one team in that group that doesn't have a candidate on our list for Mr. Football. That leaves Urbanik, Fairweather, Vailas and McInnis. The other 3 guys besides Fairweather had more talent around them. Scroll down to our picks for Defensive Player of the Year. You have Glassman from Bedford, Joliceour from Windham and Poitras from Pinkerton. If I extended the list I could have also included Pizzoti from Windham, Belz from Bedford and Pacocha from Pinkerton. These teams also had other play makers on offense, like Kellin Bail from Windham, Colin Cashin from Bedford and Jack Hanaway from Pinkerton. Bottom line, they were stacked with more talent than Fairweather had at Londonderry. Not only that, but Fairweather was coming off a junior season where he was injured for most of it and then comes into this year having to adapt to a new head coach and new system. He still put up excellent numbers, helped his team in every phase of the game and led them to a win in every game they played except when they played a loaded Pinkerton team.
Defensive Player of the Year - Eric Glassman (Bedford High)
Other candidates - Neil Vorster (Exeter), Justin Poitras (Pinkerton), Kurtis Jolicoeur (Windham), Jesse Quintero (St. Thomas), Justis Mattis-Clark (Portsmouth)
Candidates for Game of the Year...
-Bedford over Concord - Robert Law engineered a great drive late, ending with a TD to force overtime. Bulldogs held on for the win.
-Londonderry over Salem - a controversial ending, a ton of big plays and 2 evenly matched teams with a playoff spot on the line
-Windham over St. Thomas in D-II title game - a thriller. Windham blew a big early lead but came back to win the title
Our pick? Windham over St. Thomas - of the 3 games, this one had the most at stake and was played on the biggest stage.
Early Favorites in 2015?
Division I - Pinkerton, Salem and Goffstown. All 3 of these teams have a ton a talent coming back. Pinkerton has Urbanik, Hayden Sturdevant and Mike Curley returning. Salem has Nick Shumski, Sean Nartiff, Doug Maroun, Charles Sibanda and Johnny Bartose. Goffstown returns their 2 biggest play makers QB Casey Gervais and RB Connor Bourque, plus the Comeau twins, Damian Jackson, Justin Wanner, Christian Melanson and Cameron Bond are all only juniors.
Division II - St. Thomas has to be the early favorite. Hedberg is back at QB after his record-setting junior year. Other underclassmen are Tommy Bennett, Nate Grunbeck, Liam Middleton, Ryan Bennett and Trevor Martin. Kennett returns all-state QB Will Pollard and Windham loses a lot of talented seniors but returns the hard-hitting Victor Pizzuti and speedy backs Shane Lafond and Matt Shea.
Division III - Newport could be the early favorite. They were the runners up this year and their top 2 backs Noah Wade and CJ Lawrence are only juniors. They'll also return other starters, including Tyler Hall and Christian Lawrence.