MANCHESTER CENTRAL’S 14-0 victory over Manchester Memorial on Thanksgiving Day marked the end of the 2019 fall sports season. Next fall, high school football here will have a much different look.
The NHIAA will stick with a four-division format, but the number of teams in Divisions III and IV will change, and many teams will be playing in a new division. Timberlane of Plaistow, for example, will move from Division I to Division II, while Alvirne of Hudson will return to Division I after a two-year stay in Division II. For those wondering, Memorial’s attempt to move from Division I to Division II was denied.
Division II will still have 18 teams, as it did for the last two-year cycle, but those teams will be grouped into six-team clusters for scheduling purposes.
Despite the addition of Winnisquam of Tilton, which won the last two Division IV titles, Division III will shrink to 10 teams. Three teams will move from Division III to Division IV, which will also feature 10 teams next season.
Here’s a look at which teams will be where next year, with school enrollment in parentheses:
DIVISION I: Pinkerton (3,283), Portsmouth/Oyster River (1,958), Nashua South (1,901), Nashua North (1,735), Exeter (1,649), Concord (1,530), Bedford (1,505), Dover (1,474), Londonderry (1,458), Memorial (1,430), Keene (1,382), Central (1,331), Spaulding (1,308), Merrimack (1,226), Salem (1,175), Alvirne (1,115), Winnacunnet (1,087), Goffstown (1,071), Windham (997) and *Bishop Guertin (793).
DIVISION II: *Timberlane (1,110), Hollis/Brookline (857), Gilford/Belmont (847), Milford (833), Manchester West (804), Merrimack Valley (795), Kingswood (794), Pembroke (763), Souhegan (751), Hanover (743), Kennett (739), Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton (687), Sanborn (651), Plymouth (644), Bow (638), John Stark (618), Lebanon (606) and *St. Thomas (402).
DIVISION III: Pelham (605), Kearsarge/Mount Royal (555), Stevens (555), Laconia (542), Monadnock (479), Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (473), Winnisquam (448), Campbell (439), *Trinity (324) and *Con-Val (718).
DIVISION IV: *Epping/Newmarket (531),*Fall Mountain (465), Somersworth (433), Newfound (391), Farmington-Nute (387), Raymond (351), Mascoma (345), Newport (316), Bishop Brady (304), Franklin (278).
*-Petitioned up or down.
Some Thanksgiving leftovers:
• Central improved to 7-1 against Memorial on Thanksgiving with its 14-0 victory.
• Central’s other Thanksgiving wins against Memorial came in 1996 (50-14), 1999 (19-14), 2003 (26-7), 2004 (32-12), 2008 (47-6) and 2009 (27-7). Memorial prevailed in 2014 (41-14).
• This year’s game was the 68th overall meeting between the Crusaders and Little Green. Central leads the series 48-20-0.
Derry’s Geo Baker is one of the main reasons the Rutgers men’s basketball team is off to a 6-1 start this season. Baker, a 6-foot-4 junior guard who played at Pinkerton Academy and then Proctor Academy, scored a team-high 17 points and contributed four assists and four steals in Rutgers’ 82-57 triumph over UMass on Friday. Baker has scored in double figures in six of his team’s seven games.
Baker leads Rutgers in points per game (13.6), minutes per game (32.1), assists (29) and 3-point field goals (11).
Each of the Scarlet Knights’ six victories have come at home (the loss was on a neutral court), so how good is Rutgers? We’ll probably find out during a 10-day stretch that includes games against Pittsburgh, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Seton Hall. That stretch begins Tuesday at Pittsburgh in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
In the news conference that followed the UMass victory, Baker said he’s aware there are plenty of skeptics saying Rutgers built its 6-1 record against a soft schedule.
“I guess they’re not really wrong,” he said. “We haven’t played anyone big yet, but we love stuff like that. Every player wants to play on a big stage, so we’re really excited for it (Tuesday’s game).”
MLB Pipeline recently released a list that featured the top prospect in each MLB organization, and St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover graduate Ryan McKenna was selected as the Baltimore Orioles’ top prospect. Here’s what the story said about McKenna, who spent last season with the Eastern League’s Bowie BaySox (Double A):
“A fourth-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft out of the New Hampshire prep ranks, McKenna, 22, can do a little bit of everything, though he stands out most because of the pure athleticism that makes him a plus defender in center field and a candidate to steal 20-plus bags in a given season. Offensively, McKenna has a hit-over-power profile, with the ability to both hit for average and get on base at a solid clip, and enough pull-side pop to produce double-digit home runs.”
McKenna was added to Baltimore’s 40-man roster last month, a move that protects him from being selected by another organization in the MLB Rule 5 Draft.
It appears Paul LaPolice will have a second opportunity to be a head coach in the Canadian Football League. LaPolice, who is currently the offensive coordinator for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers — he helped Winnipeg win this year’s Grey Cup — is expected to interview for the head coaching position with the British Columbia Lions, the Ottawa RedBlacks and the Edmonton Eskimos.
LaPolice, who played football at Nashua High School when it was one school and then Plymouth State, had a 16-28 record as Winnipeg’s head coach from 2010 to 2012. He guided the Blue Bombers to the Grey Cup in 2011. LaPolice was the receivers coach at the University of New Hampshire in 1995 and 1996.
Former Nashua South and UNH quarterback Trevor Knight, an Amherst resident, was on Winnipeg’s practice squad this season.