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Roger Brown's State of Sports: Trinity set for varsity football

By ROGER BROWN
August 20. 2018 12:11AM
10/8/2016 --BRUCE TAYLOR/UNION LEADER-- Windham hosted Trinity football Saturday afternoon. Trinity head coach Rob Cathcart talks to his players. 



THERE WERE at least two rumors circulating about the Trinity High School football program in the offseason. One said Trinity would not field a varsity team again this year, and the other said Trinity was hoping to have a varsity team but would have to join forces with another school, perhaps Bishop Brady of Concord, to do so.

Neither rumor proved to be true. Trinity, which announced last August that it would play only a junior varsity schedule in 2017, will have a varsity team this season, and Trinity head coach Rob Cathcart said the program is much healthier now than it was a year ago. There were 39 players in uniform at Trinity’s practice last Friday.

“Last year we didn’t have a numbers problem, we had an experience problem,” Cathcart explained. “That’s why we dropped the varsity schedule and played at the junior varsity level, because all we had were young football players.”

Cathcart, who coached the JV team last season, went through a similar process when he helped start the football program at Goffstown. He had the Grizzlies play a junior varsity schedule in 2001 and the school put a varsity team on the field a year later.

“Dropping the varsity schedule (at Trinity) was 100 percent my idea, and it was really for player safety,” Cathcart said. “I looked at our team last year and I was lining up the same kind of kids I had when we played a JV schedule at Goffstown.

“We were a better-than-average JV team, but a worse-than-average varsity team. We won more than we lost, but we didn’t win them all.”

Trinity retained all but two players who played in the program last season. The Pioneers have four seniors, and added junior running back John Thibault, a transfer from Newport High School. Thibault was an impact player at Newport in each of the last two seasons. James Thibault, John’s younger brother, will also be on the Trinity roster this season.

Trinity competed at the Division II level in 2016, but will be a Division III team in the NHIAA’s four-division format this year. Campbell, Epping-Newmarket, Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton, Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough, Kearsarge/Mount Royal, Laconia, Lebanon, Monadnock, Newport, Somersworth and Stevens are the other teams in Division III.

“We feel like we’re playing in a division that’s appropriate for us, so we should be able to hold our own,” Cathcart said. “I have no regrets about what we did last year. None. We knew all along it was a one-year deal. If I had to do it over, I’d do it again.”

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WITH the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in first place with a little more than two weeks remaining in the Eastern League regular season, here’s a refresher on the Eastern League playoff format: The top two teams from each division (Eastern and Western) will qualify for postseason play. The playoff teams from the same division will meet in a best-of-five series. The second-place team will be at home for the first two games, and the first-place team will be at home for the remainder of the series.

The two teams that advance out of the first round will meet in a best-of-five series to determine the Eastern League champion. The Eastern Division champion has home-field advantage in even-numbered years, so if the Fisher Cats make it to the championship series this season they would be on the road for the first two games and at home for the remainder of the series.

The Fisher Cats entered Sunday’s game against Trenton with a 1½-game lead over the Thunder and a 10-game lead over third-place Reading in the Eastern Division.

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IT APPEARS homegrown talent will have a significant role in the University of New Hampshire football team’s kicking game this season. Drew Sanborn (Amherst/Bishop Guertin), Jason Hughes (Atkinson/Timberlane) and Hayden Middleton (Dover/St. Thomas) are among those competing to contribute on special teams.

“I know Drew Sanborn is going to be our starting punter,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said. “He’s head and shoulders above everybody else. Right now, in this competition that we have, out of the spring Jason Hughes was the No. 1 kicker. He and Mitch McPike are battling for the No. 1 spot right now and are doing a good job. Hayden Middleton has had a good camp. He’s in there in the mix too, but he’s behind those two guys. … Sean Coyne gives us another guy. He has a powerful leg for kickoffs.”

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ICYMI: Londonderry’s Ryan Callahan will join the University of Vermont men’s hockey program as a volunteer assistant coach for the 2018-19 season.

Callahan played college hockey at Plymouth State, where he was an assistant captain for two of his four seasons with the Panthers. Callahan, who was a forward, helped Plymouth State win the MASCAC championship during his sophomore year. Following his senior season (2016-17) Callahan received the Webster Award, which is given to a member of the Plymouth State team for his dedication and leadership throughout the season.

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THE INAUGURAL Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship will be held Aug. 29-30 at Kingswood Golf Club. The event will feature 36 holes of stroke play and is open to female golfers 25 or older with an active New Hampshire GHIN Handicap.

rbrown@unionleader.com


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