Yes, the Sox may squeeze into the playoffs despite themselves. Yes, the Fisher Cats still have plenty of home baseball remaining. And yes, it’s warm these days.
But you’re probably thinking football, right? Admit it. And maybe even a little hockey and hoops, too?
Without further ado ...
• The UNH football team starts practice on Friday, Aug. 9. The Blue-White intrasquad game is Sunday, Aug. 25, at 10 a.m. Yes, that’s a bit earlier in the day than usual, but nothing that a medium iced coffee (black, please) can’t overcome.
The intrasquad game is free and open to the public.
If the Wildcats are to prosper this season, they’ll have to do it against a formidable schedule. Five of their eight CAA foes were picked to finish ahead of them. The ’Cats were tabbed for seventh.
Two of their non-league foes had memorable seasons in 2018: Duquesne, which drubbed CAA member Towson in a first-round FCS game before being eliminated at South Dakota State, and Florida International, an FBS team that won a bowl game (Bahamas Bowl, over Toledo).
UNH opens Saturday, Sept. 7, at Holy Cross, which is said to be improved. The home opener is two weeks later against Rhode Island. Manchester’s Tony Trisciani and his Elon Phoenix (ranked No. 12 nationally by Athlon Sports) come to Durham on Saturday, Oct. 5.
On Monday, it was announced that Amherst’s Drew Sanborn, a senior at UNH, was named to the 2019 FCS Punter of the Year Award Preseason Watchlist. Sanborn is a Bishop Guertin grad.
• Dartmouth cornerback Isiah Swann on Tuesday was named to the STATS Preseason FCS All-America Team. Swann was the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year as a junior after leading all of Division I (both FBS and FCS) with nine interceptions in 10 games. You don’t have to be a graduate of the Tuck School of Business to calculate that’s an average of almost one interception per game.
Between Swann and senior linebacker Jack Traynor, who ranked second in the Ivy League in tackles (98) last season, the Big Green could be tough to score on.
• The rivalry games in NHIAA football are distributed across multiple weekends this season, thankfully. In chronological order, Londonderry at Pinkerton on Friday, Sept. 27; Nashua South vs. Nashua North on Friday, Oct. 4; Winnacunnet at Exeter on Saturday, Oct. 5, and Manchester Memorial at Manchester Central (Gill Stadium) on Friday, Oct. 18.
In recent years, that Central-Memorial game was a Saturday daytime affair.
• Londonderry High grad Ryan Griffin, who was signed by the New York Jets, gave some good first impressions last week, according to nj.com. The tight end had what was described as a “throat issue” and didn’t practice on Monday, but was expected to return to the field Wednesday.
• If I were the Hockey East commissioner, rivals UNH and Maine would play at least once at each’s other’s rink every season. Unfortunately, that’s not the case this coming season.
What’s that you say? The commissioner’s job is about to come open?
Seriously, Joe Bertagna, whose last year as commissioner will be this upcoming season, is a big reason why Hockey East is the beast that it is. He will be missed.
Possible successors, according to uscho.com, include Steve Metcalf, deputy director of athletics at UNH. Metcalf is the chairman of the NCAA Division I Ice Hockey Committee.
• Congrats to Concord’s Buzz Gagne, who won his 14th (14th!) USATF Masters Championship in the javelin with a throw of 45.22 meters. The competition was held at Iowa State University. Gagne competes in the 70-74 age group.
• Back to hockey. There’s a local group, with a Facebook page called “Save Manchester Hockey,” that says it is dedicated to returning hockey to our fair city, specifically to the SNHU Arena. Exactly what level of hockey they’re hoping for is unclear, but we wish them well in their quest.
Yes, this will be the arena’s first winter without a regular tenant. If you want to see an ECHL game in New England, you’ll have to drive to Portland or Worcester. If you want to see an AHL game, your choices are Providence, Bridgeport, Hartford or Springfield.
• Kudos for Division I Dartmouth and Division II SNHU for scheduling a soccer game. It’s Friday, Aug. 30 (5 p.m.) at the Big Green’s Burnham Field. It’s an early-season non-leaguer for both, but it should be interesting considering both programs are always very good at their respective levels.
• As the NECBL nears its end, the Keene Swamp Bats rank second in league attendance with an average of 1,301 fans over 20 games. Newport, R.I., with all those summer tourists looking for a night ballgame to watch, leads the league at 2,389.
• Flicked on NESN at 1 a.m. the other night and there was a recast of the Cape league game between Bourne and Brewster. And there was Stratham’s Cody Morissette drilling a two-run triple to the right-center gap. Morissette, who plays for Bourne (and Boston College) ran to third like his feet were on fire.