action:article | category:SPORTS21 | adString:SPORTS21 | zoneID:40

Home » Sports » High School Sports

November 13. 2012 8:32PM

NHIAA Div. I Football Championship Preview: Backfield in motion


Pinkerton Academy coach Brian O'Reilly talks with players Chris St. Onge, left, and Sean Conroy, center, during practice Tuesday afternoon in Derry. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)


Pinkerton at a glance

Record: 8-1 Division I, 10-1 overall

Win streak: 9

History: 10 titles, including 2010

Coach: Brian O'Reilly, 251-102 career record

Captains: QB Sean Conroy, RB Chris St. Onge, FB Matt St. Onge, DL Jake Bernaiche Other key players: RB Manny Latimore, DL Matt Madden, TE Andrew Ong, DT Phil Harper, DL Camden Crowell, DL Jacob Whorf, OL Chris McDade, K Kyle Cantalupo

Within days of losing the 2011 Division I football championship to Exeter, Pinkerton Academy of Derry coach Brian O'Reilly was ready to overhaul the offense - and it wasn't a tough decision.

Chris St. Onge, a two-year starter at quarterback, would move to running back, and Sean Conroy would take over as QB for the 2012 Astros. The changes would give Pinkerton a two-headed monster in the backfield - St. Onge and Manny Latimore - and allow Conroy to blossom at quarterback.

"It was like a two-for-one deal," O'Reilly said. "We needed another running back in the backfield, based on what we had coming back. It was obvious Chris would be that other running back because he's that good. Both kids switched roles and became leaders of the team."

Conroy and St. Onge were elected captains by their teammates. So were St. Onge's twin brother, fullback/linebacker Matt St. Onge, and lineman Jake Bernaiche. From there, the Astros won 10 of 11 games, including a 20-14 victory at traditional Massachusetts power Brockton.

Exeter handed Pinkerton its only loss, 24-20, in the second week of the season.

On Saturday, the top-ranked teams in the weekly New Hampshire Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR poll meet again for the Division I championship at 1 p.m. at No. 1 Exeter.

Conroy, also a captain on the Pinkerton lacrosse team coached by O'Reilly, has thrown 10 touchdown passes and just one interception. The senior signal caller was picked off on his first throw against Exeter on Sept. 8, but that pass actually went through a Pinkerton receiver's hands.

For the past two weeks, Conroy has been dialed into his receivers, completing 11 of 17 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns.

The Astros are built on the running game, but they tend to burn opponents with dagger passes. In the final regular-season game at Nashua South, Conroy lofted a deep sideline pass to James Toohey for a 49-yard touchdown. The play gave Pinkerton a 26-14 lead and broke the spirit of Nashua South in what ultimately became a 40-20 contest at Stellos Stadium.

"We are known as a running team," O'Reilly said, "but I don't know many quarterbacks who have a ratio of 10 touchdowns to one interceptions. Sean does a great job taking care of the ball, and he makes good decisions. He really is the key for us."

A year ago, Conroy played starting safety for the Astros and served as backup QB. Latimore, who rushed for five touchdowns and 203 yards Saturday in the Division I semifinals, last year was considered the team's third option on offense.

Pinkerton enters its third straight championship as a far different team from the one that lost to Exeter in September.

"Our offense wasn't where it needed to be after two games. I thought it was erratic," O'Reilly said. "I knew the defense was there. It was just a matter of time before the offense started to jell."


 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Jason Saltmarsh: Runners should never have to pay for their race photos

Ex-official pleads guilty to embezzling thousands from Pembroke football nonprofit

Former New Hampshire goalie DeSmith tells his side of arrest, dismissal from team

NH hockey team moving to Maine could be worth at least $1 million in economic activity say city officials

New owners of Claremont plan to put speedway back on track

Speedway in Claremont bought for nearly $519,000

Lebanon marathoner qualifies for US Olympic Trials

Matt Bonner talks about the end of the run, making the simple play, and playing until he's 40

Ex-UNH goalie agrees to diversion,receive counseling, avoids jail

Wildcats will face Chattanooga in prime time

New England Revolution forward Charlie Davies teaches supporters how to believe

Helmetless Football? Its the new practice at UNH

CASEY DeSMITH

DeSmith officially dismissed from New Hampshire team, but can return to class as of Dec. 20

San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner (15), of Concord, N.H., shoots the ball against Boston Celtics center Tyler Zeller (44) during the second half at TD Garden.

Rapper Lil B gives shoutout to…Matt Bonner?

Manchester Central's Tyler Stratton watches his shot get by Spaulding High School (Rochester) goalie Derek Scott during a shootout at the 2012 Bauer Christmas Hockey Classic hosted at JFK Coliseum in Manchester.

VFW downsizing threatens Spaulding hockey due to loss of venue for Bingo fundraisers

Eagles notes: Kelly committed to current job

5 face riot charges in beating incident at football game

Ayotte rips top sports league commissioners for snubbing hearing on domestic violence

Manchester Monarchs sign Josh Gratton to AHL contract

Can football without helmets lead to fewer concussions?

Trial date set for former UNH hockey coach accused of assaulting player

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!