Clippers seeking repeat performance
NHIAA DIVISION III PREVIEW
The League: Goffstown, Alvirne, Portsmouth, Con-Val, Milford, Pembroke Academy, Hollis-Brookline, Souhegan and Merrimack Valley.
Defending Champion: Portsmouth beat Bedford 41-6 in the Division III championship game.
Top Story Line: Can any team knock off Portsmouth? Bedford, who may have been the biggest hurdle between Portsmouth and another state title, has moved to Division II.
Player to Watch: Souhegan offensive lineman Jake Kennedy (6-foot-4, 280 pounds) has seven Division I scholarship offers: Fordham, Rhode Island, UMass, UNH, Maine, Holy Cross and Colgate.
Game to Watch: Portsmouth at Souhegan (Sept. 7). Portsmouth has reached the Division III championship game in each of the past four years. Souhegan has won three of the last four Division III titles.
Noteworthy: The consensus among Division III coaches is that Portsmouth is the favorite to win it all in Division III this season, but the Clippers were already dealt a blow when quarterback Travis MacDonald suffered a broken clavicle. MacDonald is expected to miss five weeks.Junior Donovan Phanor, an elusive runner, will likely be the starting QB. ... Souhegan missed the playoff last season, but may have enough talent to return to the title hunt this season. Senior QB/WR/DB/PK Tyler Ford will lead the Sabers. ... Goffstown earned the No 1 seed in Division III and has one of the state's top quarterback in senior Connor Benjamin. ... Expect improvement from both Milford and Pembroke Academy this season. Milford returned 11 starters, and Pembroke Academy returned 16. ...No team was hit harder by graduation than Hollis-Brookline, which made the program's second playoff appearance last season. ... Alvirne and Merrimack Valley are the new teams in the division. Alvirne dropped from Division II, and Merrimack Valley moved up from Division IV. Pelham, which went winless in each of its two Division III seasons, has dropped to Division V. ... Ryan McCartney replaced as Con-Val's head coach. Former Colorado coach Bill McCartney is his uncle, and former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is his stepfather.
Coming Thurssday: Division I and II previews.