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

Home » Sports » High School Sports

November 15. 2012 9:39PM

NHIAA Div. III Football Championship Preview: Defense, QBs right formula for Portsmouth


Portsmouth at a glance

Record: 7-2 Division III, 8-2 overall

Win streak: 2 games

History: Defending champions make their fifth consecutive appearance in the final; defeated Bedford in last year's championship, 41-6.

Coach: Bill Murphy, 17th season, 82-96 record; 8 playoff appearances, one championship

Captains: DT Ricky Holt, C-DT Kurtis Leonard, RB-DB Dillon Crosby, WR-DB Colin MacDonald

Other key players: QB Donovan Phanor, RB Mike Toar, WR Jake Becker, WR Taylor Henschke, QB Travis MacDonald, DB Chris Main, QB Nate McFarland

Portsmouth's run to the Division III football championship is a story of defensive excellence and a quintet of quarterbacks. Yes, five of them.

The season took a dramatic turn when projected starting QB Travis MacDonald, a senior, suffered a broken collarbone in preseason. Junior Donovan Phanor and Nate McFarland filled in admirably but also missed significant action with injuries. Connor DiCesare and sophomore Dillon Crosby have also taken snaps for the defending champion Clippers (8-2), who host Goffstown (6-5) on Saturday at 1 p.m.

"We've weathered some storms," said Portsmouth coach Bill Murphy. "We have some depth, and we have some kids who've really worked hard as a group and filled in for each other."

MacDonald re-injured his collarbone on Oct. 26 and is listed as "doubtful" for Saturday's game - the fifth straight championship appearance by Portsmouth. Phanor, a junior, will get the start at quarterback. He missed the final two games of the regular season with a knee injury but returned last week for the semifinals, rushing for 100 yards and throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jake Becker in Portsmouth's 7-0 win over Milford.

Murphy has spent equal time studying his play chart and depth chart.

Crosby, a dynamic tailback, has filled in to briefly run his version of a "Wildcat" offense. DiCesare, the fourth-string QB, played against Milford and completed eight of 21 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. MacDonald returned from his collarbone injury and relieved Phanor (knee injury) against Pembroke on Oct. 19. MacDonald's touchdown pass to Taylor Henschke at the end of the first half was the play of the game in Portsmouth's 24-8 home win at Daubney Field.

"Dillon probably had the hardest transition (at quarterback) because he's always been a natural running back," Murphy said. "All of a sudden, he stepped in there out of necessity (against Pembroke) and did the job, and we won the game. My coaches have done an exceptional job keeping everyone on the same page."

Portsmouth's defense, led by senior lineman Ricky Holt, has posted two straight shutouts and yielded the fewest points (125) in the division this season. Holt earned a taste of varsity football as a freshman and will play in his fourth consecutive championship game. The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder plays tackle on both sides of the ball. He is being recruited by schools in the Colonial Athletic Association, including the University of New Hampshire.

Portsmouth easily handled Goffstown during the regular season, posting a 56-22 home win. In that game, McFarland tossed four touchdown passes and had a 17-yard touchdown run.

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

Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk, right, tangles with Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask in the first period of Game 1 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals hockey playoff series in this 2013 file photo.

NH-based insurer sues NHL to limit its defense in players concussion lawsuits

A's claim former Fisher Cat Marcus Walden

Mariano Rivera's son to pitch for NH squad

Kevin Davis, CEO and president of Bauer Performance Sports, displays Bauer Hockey's latest innovation in hockey skates — the Vapor APX 2 with easily changeable skate blades in this 2013 file photo.

Exeter-based Bauer continues to expand beyond hockey with $330M purchase of baseball firm Easton-Bell

Hollis-Brookline head football coach resigns unexpectedly

New owners for Waukewan Golf Club

Matches announced for USA v. Cuba clash at Rockingham Park this weekend

Boston Marathon victim Jeff Baumann throws out the first pitch prior to the start of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Fenway Park last year.

Service's creed on display in support of airman affected by Boston bombing

40-year-old Manchester mechanical engineer wins MMA decision

New Hampshire Motor Speedway touts viability of casino site in Loudon

USA Knockouts Tamed in Cuba

U.S., Cuba boxers clash in Havana, U.S. bouts set for Rockingham Park in Salem

Lee USA Speedway opens season April 13

Newmarket woman plans world-record cross-country run for charity

CHIP KELLY

Is Chip Kelly racist?

World Series of Boxing event moved to Rockingham Park - USA vs. Cuba

Manchester man in top 30 candidates for Padres public address announcer

NH man helps MLB players deal with stresses on, off the field

Review of the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook

New Hampshire Motor Speedway may run Sprint Cup race in 2015 under the lights

How Boston lost the Patriots and 'New England' grabbed the NFL's 'Gold Standard'

Twin State Speedway gets new manager

Yale promotes former UNH coach to offensive coordinator

Bulldogs sign UNH's Nick Sorkin

Flyers Notes: Flyers sign speedy New Hampshire forward

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!