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April 13. 2014 6:09PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Already, Wildcats' offensive skills are evident

THE University of New Hampshire football team is due to hit the halfway point of spring football during practice early on Thursday morning.

Coach Sean McDonnell and his staff conducted practice No. 6 of the 15 allowed by the NCAA, in a session that included about an hour's worth of scrimmage time, on Saturday morning in Cowell Stadium.

"We moved the ball a little bit," McDonnell said after the scrimmage.

"I think they threw and caught the ball a little better than they had been doing. The good thing was it was a chance for us to go live and get on our game field and spread out a little bit. It's good to see these guys in a live situation. We've been semi-live a couple of times, but not live all the way."

McDonnell cited sophomore-to-be offensive lineman Tad McNeely, whose brother Shane is a senior starting linebacker, and senior wide receiver Jimmy Giansante as players who have had impressive springs so far on the offensive side of the ball.

"We've moved Jimmy Giansante into the slot and we're moving him around some," McDonnell said. "He's done a nice job."

Giansante caught 31 passes for 306 yards and a couple of touchdowns last year. The hope is he can pick up some of the production lost with the graduation of Justin Mello, who had 73 catches for 1,038 yards and 10 scores last year.R.J. Harris, who had 76 catches for 1,004 yards and five TDs despite missing three games to injury, will also be a senior in the fall.

McDonnell said sophomore linebacker Kevin McNally and junior defensive tackle Rashid Armand have played well on defense.

Senior Rob Bowman has moved from right tackle to left tackle on the offensive line to take the place of Seamus O'Neill of Manchester, who manned the position most of the last four years.

Several players, including Alex Blane, a 6-foot-4 and 290-pound senior, Austin Heter, a 6-foot-4 and 277-pound junior, and sophomore Andrew Lauderdale of Concord are in the mix for the starting job at right tackle.

Lauderdale is 6-foot-6 and about 260 pounds and played at Trinity High School in Manchester.

"We have got guys who have not played yet, but are going to get a lot of work this spring," McDonnell said. "Andrew Lauderdale is a terrific athlete. The thing he needs to do is gain weight and get stronger.

When he does that, he'll be a very good football player in the program."

Spring football concludes with the annual Blue-White game on May 3.

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JOCK MACKENZIE, an early and longtime voice of the Wildcats, died last week in Florida at the age of 88.

He was a sports reporter at WTSN in Dover and was the founder of the UNH Sports Network, which he later donated to the university.

MacKenzie was the voice of men's hockey and football at UNH for years.

"He put the entire network together," said Jim Jeannotte, who worked as an analyst with MacKenzie for several years in the mid-1970s and later succeeded him with play-by-play. "He did it all. He got the stations, sold the advertising, ordered the phone lines and did the play-by-play."

MacKenzie had a style popularized by Johnny Most with the Boston Celtics.

"He was a real homer, like Johnny Most," Jeannotte said. "UNH could do no wrong. That was some of my style, too. We all had that style in a way. People loved him. He was very good."

MacKenzie won the New Hampshire Sportscaster of the Year award several times, received a Profile of Service Award from UNH and was named Dover's Citizen of the Year for his role in getting the Dover Ice Arena built.

MacKenzie began his broadcasting career by covering the Berlin Maroons for 10 years while he worked for radio station WMOU in that city.

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THE women's track team finished first and the men were second in the Wildcat Invitational meet in Durham in Saturday.

The women scored 165 points to the 139 of Dartmouth Collge and 71 of Maine.

Junior Virginia Lavallee of Kingston won the 100 and 200 meter hurdles, sophomore Brianna Boden of Keene won the 10,000 meter run and senior Caroline Bonsaint of Hampton was first in the long jump.

Sophomore Lauren Perrodin took the 100-meter dash in a school record time of 12.08 seconds and was also on the winning 4-by-100 and 4-by-400 meter hurdles teams.

Maine was tops for the men with 152 points, UNH had 123 and Dartmouth 113.

Sophomore D'mahl McFadden of Penacook and Merrimack Valley High School won the 110-meter hurdles and was third in the 400-meter hurdles.

Senior George Jumpp of Manchester won the hammer throw and junior Duncan Cromwell of North Conway was first in the pole vault.

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THE lacrosse team evened its overall record at 7-7 and improved to 2-1 in America East with an 18-5 win over Binghamton on Saturday.

The Wildcats are at Stony Brook on Saturday and close out the regular season with a home game against Albany on April 26.

alesssels@unionleader.com On Twitter: @AllenLessels


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