October 30, 2014

The State of Football: Week 9

Roger Brown

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Whether you're in favor of it or not (we're not), there's no denying that the four-conference format has put some added juice into the regular season's final weekend.

There are several make-or-make games in Week 9 that otherwise would have had little meaning in the big picture. Londonderry at Salem tops the list.

We'll set the scene for you: Both teams are 7-1 in Division I South. The winner of Friday night's matchup will play Pinkerton Academy (8-0) in the Division I South championship game. The Salem/Londonderry loser will not make the playoffs, even though at least two teams with no more than five wins will be in the eight-team Division I playoff field.

The top two teams from each of the four conferences in Divisions I and II qualify for postseason play, which opens the door for a deserving team to be left out of the playoffs. Last year it was Bedford (7-2). This year it will be either Salem or Londonderry in Division I, and possibly Trinity in Division II.

"This will be the start of the playoffs for us," Londonderry coach Jim Lauzon said. "That's how we'll treat it."

"I'm OK with the system," Salem coach Rob Pike added. "Look at how much hype this game is getting that it wouldn't have had otherwise. It's made this a very big game."

Friday night's marquee matchup will be the Londonderry offense (36.0 points per game) against the Salem defense (10.7 ppg.).

Here are a few other notes about Friday night's contest:

  • Inside linebacker Doug Maroun leads Salem with 52 tackles.
  • Six of Salem's eight opponents have failed to score more than 14 points.
  • Londonderry quarterback Eric Fairweather enters the game with 1,147 yards passing (nine touchdowns), and 1,082 yards rushing (16 TDs).
  • Former Londonderry coach Jon Rich is an assistant coach on the Salem staff.
  • Londonderry has scored at least 21 points in each of its games, and has scored at least 28 points in six of those contests.
  • Pinkerton handed each team its only loss. The Astros beats the Blue Devils 14-7, and defeated the Lancers 41-21
It should be noted that Londonderry made the playoffs last year with a 4-5 record (over Bedford and others).

At any rate, with the utmost confidence ... this week's selections: 
Salem 21
Londonderry 20
Ask 100 people who they think will win this game and 40 will say Salem and 40 will say Londonderry. The other 20 will tell you it's too close to call.

Alvirne 21
Timberlane 14
The Broncos can secure a home game for the Division I West championship game by beating the Owls.

Nashua South 21
Bishop Guertin 20
The rivalry is back, at least for this week. Winner makes the playoffs, The loser doesn't.

Bedford 21
Central 7
Think Central has nothing to play for? Think again. The Little Green may need a victory to earn a spot in the Manchester Thanksgiving Day game. A Bedford victory will make the Bulldogs the top overall seed in Division I.

Portsmouth 35
Dover 13
The Clippers will likely hold out some key players with the hope of being close to 100 percent healthy for next week's playoff game against Exeter.

Exeter 20
Concord 14
Concord clinches a playoff spot with a victory. An Exeter victory increases the attendance for Saturday's Goffstown/Memorial game.

Pinkerton 42
Merrimack 14
The Astros are among the many who will be keeping close tabs on that Salem-Londonderry contest.

Nashua North 26
Keene 7
Last chance for the Blackbirds to pick up a victory.

Memorial 28
Goffstown 27
Memorial makes the playoffs with a victory here coupled with an Exeter victory over Concord. 

Spaulding 19
Winnacunnet 14
Winnacunnet will be a team to keep an eye on in 2015.

Lebanon 26
ConVal 14
Even with a win the Raiders won't get in.

Kennett 35
Kingswood 13
The Eagles wrap up an unbeaten regular season.

Milford 28
West 7
A Milford win plus a Trinity loss equals a playoff berth for the Spartans.

Laconia 27
Kearsarge 14
The winner gets Kennett in the Division II North title game.

Souhegan 34
Pelham 20
The Sabers are still alive, but need both Milford and Trinity to lose this weekend.

Merrimack Valley 29
Pembroke 14
It'll be Merrimack Valley at St. Thomas next weekend.

St. Thomas 28
Trinity 24
A St. Thomas victory would erase any chance Trinity had of making the playoffs and playing on Thanksgiving.

Plymouth 34
Hanover 6
When you start 0-3, 4-4 is a pretty good season.

Windham 42
Monadnock 6
Earning the top overall seed in Division II is a very big deal.

Sanborn 26
John Stark 14
A victory this weekend means Sanborn will be at home when it plays Hollis/Brookline in the Division II West championship game.


Gilford 34
Stevens 14

Gilford still has a chance to finish on top in Division III North.

Campbell 35
Raymond 12

A Campbell victory plus a Somersworth loss means the Toppers will travel to Litchfield next weekend.

Winnisquam 33
Bishop Brady 12

The playoffs start a week early for these teams as well. Winner extends its season.

Mascoma 36
Fall Mountain 14

Mascoma's still in the mix in Division III North

Bow 28
Somersworth 20
The Falcons extend the state's longest winning streak to 18 games.

Epping-Newmarket 33

Farmington-Nute 22

Note to the underclassmen: The 2015 season starts right after Thanksgiving. 

Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough 36

Franklin 20

Lakers would earn the No. 3 seed with a victory.

Newport 37
Newfound 7

Tigers have their sights set on the top seed in Division III North.

Last week: 23-4
Record to date: 161-48

The State of Football, a commentary on New Hampshire high school football, appears each Friday throughout the season. Follow Roger Brown on Twitter: @603sportsmedia.

Continue reading The State of Football: Week 9.

Here's the top comeback in high school football history ...

It's always worth watching the greatest comeback in high school football history, especially if you've never seen it before:

New York lineman picks UNH

Roger Brown

Nick Velte, a two-way lineman from Aquinas Institute in Rochester, N.Y., has given a commitment to the University of New Hampshire.

Velte, a 6-foot-1, 301-pound senior, plays left tackle on offense. He also had a scholarship offer from the University of Albany.

Aquinas was recently forced for forfeit a playoff victory for using an ineligible player. A ruling is expected to be issued Friday that will determine whether or not Aquinas can return to the Section V Class AA tournament.

October 29, 2014

Balsamo selects UNH

Roger Brown

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Mike Balsamo, a safety at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Mass., has given a verbal commitment to the University of New Hampshire. Balsamo is expected to join the UNH program next year.

Balsamo, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, also had offers from Bryant and Wofford. He is an Atkinson resident.

Balsamo is the second Central Catholic player to commit to the UNH program in as many years, joining defense back D'Andre Drummond-Mayrie, who is in his freshman season with the Wildcats.


October 28, 2014

Jones, Kozens named CHaD coaches

Roger Brown

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Milford High School's Keith Jones and Laconia High School's Craig Kozens will serve as head coach for the 2015 CHaD New Hampshire East-West High School All-Star Game, which will be played June 28 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. Kickoff for this year's game is 7 p.m.


Jones, who has been Milford's head coach since 2001,  coached the West All-Stars to a 44-12 victory in the inaugural CHaD All-Star Football Game in 2012.


Jones and his family have a special connection to CHaD.  Jones' son, Harris, was involved in a serious snowmobile accident in 2009, leaving him critically injured and in need of the best care.  Keith and his wife, Kelly, made the decision to bring Harris to CHaD where a team of Orthopedic Pediatric surgeons worked to save Harris' leg.

 "My wife Kelly and I will never be able to repay the hospitality, affection, and gracious care provided to our son Harris by the team at CHAD," Jones said. "It is not only an honor to coach this game, but a tremendous opportunity to give back to a great organization that provides a level of care to children unlike any other.  I again look forward to coaching the best players in the state and raising money to improve the lives of pediatric patients."


Kozens is also the athletic director at Laconia. Prior to his time with the Sachems, he coached at New Hampton Prep from 1992-2001, where he won two New England Prep titles. Kozens coached Laconia to a state title in 2007, and New Hampshire to a Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl victory in 2008. He also helped raise over $1,000,000 towards Laconia's new football stadium.

 Kozens has been an assistant coach on the East staff for each of the last two CHaD games.


"I am both humbled and grateful for the opportunity to participate in an event that supports CHaD, an institution that cares for the most vulnerable members of our community, our children," Kozens said. "The CHaD team is there to lighten the burden of families in moments of desperation, fear, and helplessness. As I coach, I am hoping to teach these young athletes that there is nothing more uplifting than helping a child and family in need."

St. Anselm played host to the game for the first time last summer. The 2015 game will be the first one played at night.

"Everyone at Saint Anselm was extremely helpful and welcoming in 2014," says game founder Nick Vailas. "We are thrilled to give the all-star players the opportunity to play under the lights, and we are grateful that Saint Anselm was more than willing to accommodate the time change."


"Saint Anselm College is delighted to host the CHaD All-Star Football Game to benefit the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock," says Dr. Steven R. DiSalvo, president of Saint Anselm College. "The collaboration represents a wonderful way in which two institutions can work together to help raise awareness and funds for a worthy cause.  We look forward to a competitive game filled with school spirit."


Nominations are being accepted from New Hampshire high school coaches for all-star players until Dec. 17. Each coaching staff will then have time to deliberate over the nominated players before making the final selections alongside the event's football committee.


NHIAA schedule: Stakes are high on final weekend


October 27, 2014

FCS Top 25: UNH is second-best

The Sports Network FCS Top-25 College Football Poll

Team (First-place votes)RecordPointsPrevious Rank
1. North Dakota State Bison (157)8-03,9251
2. New Hampshire Wildcats6-13,6163
3. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers8-03,5824
4. Villanova Wildcats7-13,5165
5. Jacksonville State Gamecocks6-13,2546
6. Eastern Washington Eagles7-22,9962
7. Illinois State Redbirds7-02,9249
8. Montana State Bobcats6-22,70810
9. McNeese State Cowboys5-22,53411
10. Fordham Rams7-12,43312
11. Youngstown State Penguins6-22,05817
12. Montana Grizzlies5-32,0257
13. Richmond Spiders6-21,98616
14. Chattanooga Mocs5-31,84815
15. Southeastern Louisiana Lions6-31,7588
16. Eastern Kentucky Colonels7-11,47219
17. William & Mary Tribe5-31,45318
18. South Dakota State Jackrabbits5-31,16013
19. Indiana State Sycamores5-31,04422
20. Harvard Crimson6-088721
21. Bethune-Cookman Wildcats6-273814
22. Northern Iowa Panthers4-450423
23. Albany Great Danes6-239325
24. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks6-2320NR
25. Bryant Bulldogs6-1249NR
Others receiving votes: Southern Illinois 247, Northern Arizona 245, Cal Poly 203, Liberty 191, Western Carolina 160, James Madison 58, North Carolina A&T 54, Sam Houston State 53, South Carolina State 51, Central Arkansas 47, Dartmouth 44, Alcorn State 33, Bucknell 32, Grambling State 31, Jacksonville 29, Sacred Heart 26, Charleston Southern 23, Presbyterian 20, Missouri State 16, Idaho State 16, Wofford 13, Eatern Illinois 8, Samford 7, Yale 6, Lamar 4, Delaware 4, Duquesne 1.

Goffstown's Gervais was more than Spaulding could handle

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Casey Gervais (Goffstown)
Quarterback ran for 115 yards and three touchdowns, and completed 13 of 17 pass attempts for 273 yards and three TDs in a 44-10 triumph over Spaulding.

Kyle Cushion (Bishop Guertin)
Cushion did a little bit of everything in BG's 32-14 triumph over Alvirne, when he accounted for 210 all-purpose yards. Cushion ran for 46 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, caught three passes for 87 yards and a TD, returned a punt 54 yards and had a 23-yard pass completion. He also intercepted two passes.

Brandon Bell (Stevens)
Despite an injured shoulder, senior running back ran for 70 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries to help Stevens snap a five-game losing streak by beating Fall Mountain 38-10.

Eric Fairweather (Londonderry)
Ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns, and passed for 136 yards and a TD in a 22-13 victory over Nashua South.

Zach Matthews (Sanborn)
Rushed for 217 yards and two TDs in a 19-7 triumph over Pelham.

T.J. Urbanik (Pinkerton)
Gained 148 yards and scored three touchdowns on seven rushing attempts in a 57-9 victory over Keene.

Jason Hughes (Timberlane)
Kicked a 23-yard field goal, scored on a 5-yard run, tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass and made two interceptions in a 16-7 triumph over Merrimack.

Matt Swormstedt (Laconia)
Quarterback completed 19 of 32 pass attempts and threw for two touchdowns, and rushed for a team-high 93 yards on 22 carries in a 30-20 loss to Kennett.

Justin Robinson (Plymouth)
Ran for 188 yards and three TDs on 44 carries in a 28-18 victory over Merrimack Valley.

Evan Martin (Merrimack Valley)
Had nine receptions for 185 yards in a 28-18 loss to Plymouth.

Elyjah Dejoie (Somersworth)
Running back rushed for 247 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries in a 35-6 win over Epping-Newmarket. Dejoie leads the state with 1,799 yards rushing and 24 TDs this season.

Matt Ehrenberg (Bow)
Ran for 180 yards on 14 carries and had an interception in a 32-28 victory over Winnisquam.

Andrew Downey (Raymond)
Rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries and caught a TD pass to help Bow defeat Farmington-Nute 32-28.
Coaches who would like to submit candidates for Helmet Stickers can do so by emailing the player's name, position and statistics from the most recent game to rbrown@nhfootballreport.com. The information must be received no later than 9 a.m. on the Monday following the game.

Power Poll: Top teams still fighting to extend season


1. Pinkerton (8-0)
Astros have a special interest in Friday night's Salem-Londonderry game.

2. Bedford (8-0)
Bulldogs will face either Concord or Manchester Memorial in conference championship game.

3. Salem (7-1)
I'm told the Blue Devils have a big game this weekend.

4. Londonderry (7-1)
Lancers made the playoffs with a 4-5 record last year. This year they won't get in if they're 7-2.

5. Concord  (6-2)
Defending champs are in a precarious position, but all is well if the Tide beats Exeter.

6. Exeter (6-2)
Exeter has secured home-field advantage for the conference championship game, but in case you're wondering, Concord will get Exeter's best shot..

7. Windham  (7-0)

The Jaguars have lived up to some lofty preseason expectations.

8. Kennett (7-0)

Top seed in Division II will have a much easier path to the championship game than the team that's No. 2.

9. Portsmouth  (5-3)

Don't read to much into Portsmouth's lopsided loss to Concord. Clippers were short-handed because of injuries to several key players.

10. Memorial (5-3)

Crusaders need Exeter to beat Concord, then they have to take care of business against Goffstown.

Also receiving votes: Bow (7-0) and St. Thomas (6-1.

October 25, 2014

Planting Division I playoff seeds

Division I playoff pairings:

DIVISION I EAST: Portsmouth at Exeter

DIVISION I WEST: Bishop Guertin/Nashua South winner vs, Alvirne (site TBD)

DIVISION I NORTH: Concord or Memorial at Bedford

DIVISION I SOUTH: Londonderry/Salem winner at Pinkerton