High school football preview: Concord, Bow see roster changes; Redhawks move up to D-II

  • Bow’s Nicholas Aubrey (center) runs through a huge hole as Cooper Larrabee (80, left) throws a block during a game against Hanover in Bow last season.

  • Bow’s Andrew Robbins kicks an extra point out of the hold of Nicholas Aubrey during a 2019 game against Hanover in Bow. Robbins, Aubrey and Cooper Larrabee are senior captains this year for the Falcons, who open their season on Saturdat at home against Hillsboro-Deering-Hopkinton. RICH MIYARAfile photo / NH Sports Photography

  • Concord’s Kody Rasheed (center) bulls through the line during a game against Goffstown last season. Rasheed was one of the Crimson Tide players who missed time last season with injury as Concord went 2-7. Rasheed is healthy now as the Tide prepares to open its season Friday night in Manchester against Trinity. RICH MIYARA file photographs / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 9/25/2020 8:11:53 AM

The start of practice was delayed, there were no preseason scrimmages, regular-season schedules are short and the four division tournaments will be open to all teams that want to go … as long as they make it through the fall without coronavirus canceling something else.

This year’s high school football season won’t look like anything coaches, players or fans have seen before, but all of them are ready for the games to begin.

“First, we’re just pleased to have the opportunity to represent the town of Bow this autumn on the gridiron,” Bow coach Paul Cohen said. “The spring semester was trying, to say the least, with no training, no on-site education, etc. Truly, 2020 will be remembered as a unique season. Players have worked within accepted guidelines for months and are ready for competition.”

All seven local football teams open their seasons this weekend, six of them against each other as teams have moved to regional schedules. Here’s an outlook for each of those seasons:

Concord

Injuries, inexperience and a tough schedule led to a 2-7 record for the Crimson Tide in 2019 under Eric Brown, who is entering his 11th season as Concord’s head coach. The Tide is still young with 23 sophomores and 16 freshmen on the 60-person varsity roster, but Concord is healthy as it heads into Friday night’s season-opener in Manchester against Trinity. The Pioneers were the 2019 Division III champs, but this year they’re playing a D-I team (Concord), two D-II teams and two D-III teams, which is about right for 2020.

Zack Doward, one of the Tide’s many sophomores, begins the season as the Concord’s starting quarterback. Doward will have three experienced running backs to work with in juniors Kody Rasheed (one of the Tide’s key injuries last year) and Luke Champney and senior Jacob Halleck. Senior Jarrett Lamoureux and juniors Hunter Jeffers and Jaycee Haskell, along with senior tight end Kevin McDonough, will lead the offensive line.

Seniors Peter Sargent and Augustine Twine return at defensive end for the Tide, while McDonough and fellow senior Tommy Sargent anchor a solid group of linebackers for a fast and aggressive Concord defense. Junior Tyler Clark-Toy, a standout for the Tide basketball team, joins the football team this year and will be part of Concord’s secondary and receiving corps.

Bow

The Falcons went 10-1 last year, their only loss coming in the D-II semifinals to eventual champion Hollis Brookline. Bow then lost a ton of players to graduation, including the unanimous 2019 D-II Player of the Year Steven Guerrette and the bulk of the offensive line. But Cohen has created a winning tradition in his 20 years as the team’s head coach and that kind of culture could go an especially long way during this strange season.

Bow does return six starters, including 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior Cooper Larrabee, a 2019 First Team D-II North tight end who is also a playmaking defensive end, and senior Andrew Bliss, a 2019 Second Team D-II North defensive back. Larrabee is one of the team’s three senior captains, along with Andrew Robbins (6-0, 220) and Nicholas Aubrey. Bliss, Robbins, junior Evan Provost and promising sophomore Logan Gordon will be a backfield by committee behind the new starting quarterback, junior Alex Boisvert.

Senior Ryan Nicholls (5-11, 205) brings some varsity experience to the offensive line, which will also get a boost from the addition of senior tight end Shaun Lover (6-2, 230), a basketball standout and football newcomer. Nicholls also returns to the defensive end spot opposite Larrabee. Senior Ethan Krueger is back at inside linebacker, where he’ll be joined by sophomore Hollis Jones. Bliss will anchor a secondary that includes sophomore Ryan Lover, Gordon, Provost and senior Matt Cardarelli, another addition from the basketball team.

Hillsboro-Deering-Hopkinton

The Redhawks move up to D-II this year and will immediately face the division’s elite in Saturday’s season opener at Bow. Fifth-year head coach Jay Wood returns 11 starters from last year’s team that went 7-4 after losing in the D-III semifinals to Lebanon, which is also moving into D-II this season.

HDH has size, talent and experience in the trenches with the return of seniors Alex Brown (6-2, 260, 2019 Second Team D-III), Vincent Waddell (2019 Second Team D-III), Tucker Card (6-2, 235), Jonathon McMahon (6-1, 205) and Aidan Hudak (5-11, 220). The Redhawks will certainly miss star running back Colby Quiet, but they still have plenty of talent and experience in the backfield with the return of senior captain quarterback Mike Oberheim, senior fullback Dylan Barrett and tailbacks Jack Morrall and Eli Tanuvasa. Oberheim has a pair of tall passing targets in seniors Cooper Coldwell (6-3, 195) and John Jacobsen (6-0).

Coldwell and Brown both return to HDH’s defensive line, which looks to have plenty of depth. Waddell, McMahon and Barrett form an aggressive pack of linebackers, while Morrall and Tanuvasa lead the secondary.

Pembroke Academy

After taking over a winless team, Will Moher went 1-8 in 2018, his first season as PA’s head coach, before pushing that record to 3-6 in 2019. The upward trend could continue this season as the Spartans have a dedicated core of players led by a group of six returning senior starters.

Pembroke should have a balanced offensive attack with senior running back Nate Quinn (2019 Second Team D-II North) and junior Logan Longacre on the ground and senior quarterback Ryan Casey looking for seniors Jack Schaefer (2019 Second Team D-II North) and Scott LaChance through the air. They’ll all have the benefit of an offensive line that returns four starters - Devin Bourget (2019 Second Team D-II North), Cody Montambeault (3-year starter), Shawn Burrows and Cody LeClair.

Bourget will also be a defensive cornerstone for Pembroke, as will Schaefer. The Spartans open their season at John Stark on Saturday at 1 p.m.

John Stark

The Generals have a strong senior class with returning talent at some key positions and experience up front. They don’t have much depth, so, “the key to this season is staying healthy,” third-year coach Kevin McGinty said, “if we can do that we have a chance,” to improve on last year’s 3-6 record.

Stark looks solid on all three defensive levels with seniors Chris Audet and Ryan Plamondon returning to the line, seniors Thomas Johnston (a three-year starter) and Cam Fortin at linebacker and senior Thomas Quinn at safety. Johnston, Quinn and junior Cody Sutkus also will power the running game behind senior quarterback Nate Tower, a legitimate passing threat who has a pair of returning targets in seniors Jaxson Wood and Jake Parsons.

Merrimack Valley

The Pride will be young this year under third-year head coach Joe Raycraft, but the team does have some nice building blocks coming back from last year’s 3-6 quad – junior linemen Jake Currier (2019 First Team D-II North Offense) and Seth Baylus (2019 First Team D-II North Defense) and junior running back and defensive back Travis Knouse (2019 Second Team D-II North Offense).

Seniors Noah Miller (quarterback/defensive back) and Jeff Hollins (center/linebacker) also return to the starting lineup for MV and will serve as the team’s captains along with Currier and Knause. Junior Kalvin Maier and sophomore Aiden Monaghan give the Pride two more experienced underclassmen in the trenches along with Baylus and Currier.

Raycraft will be looking all over his roster for players to fill in around those returning starters when the Pride opens its season against Bishop Brady on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Memorial Field.

Bishop Brady

Former Bishop Guertin coach Tony Johnson is taking over at Brady this year. Johnson was the BG coach from 1995-2011 and led the Cardinals to six championships, and 10 finals appearances, in those 17 years. He left BG to take over the program at Worcester (Mass.) Academy but returned to New Hampshire to become the athletic director and football coach at Brady.

The Giants won their final game of the 2019 regular season to make the four-team D-IV playoffs before losing to eventual-champion Winnisquam in the semifinals. The Giants lost quarterback Pat Brust, the team’s driving offensive force last year, to graduation, but junior Matt Wiley looks ready to step up and fill Brust’s shoes. Senior wide receiver/defensive back Darren Earley and junior guard/linebacker AJ Partington will serve as captains along with Wiley.

Senior running back Connor Treybig returns to the backfield, where he’ll be joined by sophomore John Thomas. The Giants have some decent size up front in senior linemen Joey Bergeron (240), Cole Weaver (230), James Carroll (190) and Nathan Peck (175) and sophomore Greg Watson (200).

“We are pretty young and our numbers are low, But I think we have a lot of speed and the kids have really done a great job preparing for the season,” Johnson said. “They are hungry and ready to go.”




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