High School Notebook: Putting the foot in football
It’s called football, so finding someone to put his foot on the ball should be a snap, right?
That’s not the case for many New Hampshire high school teams, who’ve historically had difficultly finding a consistently successful placekicker.
At Concord, which currently sits atop Division I with a 5-0 record, the quest for a kicker came down to pregame warmups before the season opener, when Kevin Condict won the job.
But why is it such a struggle to develop kickers?
“I don’t know. We’re not a huge football state,” Condict said. “I think people here play football to hit, not kick.”
Concord Coach Eric Brown had considered asking someone from the soccer team if they’d like to pull double-duty – something he’s done in the past – but admits, “I’m not crazy about that. You don’t want them to get hurt and have it affect the soccer team.”
So Condict, a junior split end and defensive back, decided to give kicking a try at a JV practice a week before the opener. Then, the morning of the first varsity game, at another JV practice, Condict said Coach Jim Corkum noticed him making his kicks and suggested he go out for the specialist spot for the varsity game. So on the field in pregame warmups later that night, he won the job.
His experience playing soccer as a youngster may have helped, but, as Coach Brown said: “It’s totally different to kick a football than a soccer ball.”
“It’s a lot harder to kick a football,” Condict added.
That difficulty has shown on occasion. Condict struggled some in an early-season game when the opponent was getting consistent pressure around the edge, and he’s had to concentrate on mechanics, but that work translated into a perfect 5-for-5 effort on extra points this past Friday night, bringing his total to 26-for-35 (74 percent) on PATs, on pace to challenge the school’s single-season record.
“I’m pretty comfortable kicking now,” Condict said.
Speaking of football, with the season half over, it’s time to make a few predictions on the playoff fields under the new three-division alignment.
In Division I, it looks like Concord and Bedford, both at 5-0, have the inside track in the North, with Nashua South (5-0) and Bishop Guertin (4-1) in the West. I’m predicting Londonderry (2-3) will be the second team out of the South along with Pinkerton (4-1). The East is anyone’s game, but two-time defending champion Exeter (3-2) and Winnacunnet (3-2), last year’s Division II champ, are the picks here.
In Division II, Merrimack Valley (4-1) is battling St. Thomas (5-0) and Portsmouth (4-1) for one of two spots in the East. St. Thomas and Portsmouth have playoff experience on their side, but if MV can pull out a win over either St. Thomas or Plymouth in the final two weeks, the Pride could slide on in. Plymouth (5-0) should ease in in the North, along with Kennett (3-2), which has only one opponent left to play with a winning record. Trinity and Windham, both 4-1, should make it out of the South, while the winner of the Sanborn (3-2)/Kearsarge (2-3) game will likely join Monadnock (5-0) in the West.
In Division III, Bishop Brady and Epping-Newmarket, both 2-2, look to make it out of the East, while Newport (4-1) and Stevens (3-2) should prevail in the West. The North and South are up for grabs. Pelham (4-0) has the edge in the South, while Somersworth (3-2) has the weaker schedule left, but if Bow (3-1) can navigate the brutal schedule ahead of it, the Falcons could make it in. I’m picking Gilford (3-2) and Winnisquam (2-3) to emerge from the logjam in the North.
A pair of area schools received the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Sportsmanship Award for the 2012-13 school year at the recent NHIAA annual meeting.
Merrimack Valley was voted the top sportsmanlike school in Division II, while Belmont shared the Division III award with Gilford. It was MV’s fourth time winning the award since it was established in 1991-92. It was Belmont’s second time winning.
Exeter won in Division I, with Sunapee taking Division IV accolades. The award is voted on by all schools in each division.
High school golfers take over the links at three nearby courses this Thursday for the team championships in four divisions.
In Division I, to be played at Canterbury Woods, Concord enters tied for the top seed with a 24-6 record along with Bedford and Bishop Guertin, who accounted for three of the Tide’s losses.
In Division II, to be played at Beaver Meadow, Bishop Brady is the No. 6 seed with a 14-6 record and the luxury of playing on its home course.
Divisions III and IV are both being played at Ridgewood. At 22-0, Bow is looking to capture a second straight title in D-III. Kearsarge (15-9) is the No. 6 seed. Hopkinton (18-3) is the second seed in D-IV, behind undefeated defending champion Derryfield.
The top golfers on Thursday move on to the individual championships on Saturday.
Games of the week
∎ Tomorrow is Division III soccer showdown day, with No. 2 Bow (10-1) at No. 1 Hopkinton (10-0) at 4:15 on the boys’ side, and No. 2 Belmont (10-1) at No. 4 Hopkinton (7-1-2) at 4 p.m. on the girls’ side.
∎ Friday is loaded with action, with No. 2 Pembroke (8-1) hosting No. 3 Lebanon (8-2) in D-II boys’ soccer at 4; No. 4 Hopkinton (7-1-2) traveling to No. 1 Bow (9-0) for a 4:15 girls’ soccer game; Gilford hosting the Central Lakes cross country championships at 4:30; and Concord (5-0) heading to Derry to take on Pinkerton (4-1) in a D-I football clash at 7.
(Sandy Smith can be reached at 369-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)