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January 02. 2013 10:28PM

Coaches react to Shrine restrictions

Added restrictions have been placed on how New Hampshire can select players for the 2013 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl. New Hampshire coach Ray Kershaw (Mascoma Regional) must select six players from each of the six NHIAA divisions, meaning fewer players from New Hampshire's larger schools will participate in the game.

In past years New Hampshire's initial selections featured nine players from Division I, eight from Division II, six from Division III, six from Division IV, four from Division V and three from Division VI. Kershaw can select no more than two players from any one team.

New Hampshire stretched its winning streak to 12 games by beating Vermont 62-24 last year.

Here's how current and past Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl coaches feel about the new selection rule:

Lebanon coach Chris Childs (NH coach in 2011): "They're trying to make it competitive. I understand that part of it, but I think they should have waited a year and gone 12, 12 and 12 when we'll have three divisions. It's an all-star game and they're taking less kids from the two best divisions. That isn't right."

Laconia coach Craig Kozens (NH coach in 2008): "I can see both sides. The game has gotten one-sided in the last decade. I'm all for making the game more competitive, but I'm not sure you should have the same representation from a division that has 20-25 kids on each roster and a division that has 80 kids on some rosters.

"You don't want the game to die either. It's such a great fundraiser. If this is what works it's what they'll have to go with."

Milford coach Keith Jones (NH coach in 2007): "It does not sound like an all-star game anymore. You're handcuffed. You're not getting the best kids and it's going to water the game down. I still don't think it's going to make a difference from a competitive standpoint.

"Nothing against the Vermont folks, but I think we have to find a new opponent. There has to be somebody else we can play to raise money for the Shrine cause."

Former Souhegan coach Mike Beliveau (NH coach in 2000 and 2012): "If there wasn't an East-West all-star game (in New Hampshire) I'm not sure I'd be in favor of this Shrine configuration, but I think it's worth a shot. A lot of my stronger players last year were from Divisions IV, V and VI. It's one of the measures that could be taken to make the game competitive, so I understand what they're trying to do.

"The East-West game will provide an ample opportunity for Division I kids to have an all-star experience, so I guess I'm for it."

Burr and Burton coach Jason Thomas (2013 Vermont coach): "To be honest, I don't care about New Hampshire's selection process. I want their best against our best. We're small, but we have some good football players here. It seems like it gives them an excuse if we do beat them. It doesn't seem fair to me, but I don't make the rules."


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Roger Brown may be reached at rbrown@unionleader.com.


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