MORGAN FRANCIS may not care for the spotlight, but that’s where he’ll be Friday afternoon.
That’s when Francis, a 36-year-old Windham resident, will be presented with the Youth Coach of Distinction Award at the Big New England Football Clinic in Newport, R.I. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will present the award to the winners, one from each of the six New England states.
Francis, who moved to New Hampshire from Oklahoma in 2016, has coached in the Windham Wolverines youth football program for each of the past three seasons. He has a son in the program and a daughter who is a Wolverines cheerleader. In addition, his wife, Bethany, is the program’s co-cheer director.
“Windham football is a community for sure and I feel like although I’m receiving this award it’s for the Windham program,” Francis said. “It’s not an individual thing. I don’t necessarily like the spotlight on things like this, and I appreciate the honor, but this is more so a trophy for the program itself. The president (John Oliveira) and director of football operations (Dennis Brearley), both those guys are absolute first class, care about the program and have been involved in it a lot longer than I have. I feel like I’m just the fruits of that labor.”
According to the Big New England Clinic, an event that attracts high school coaches from throughout the country, the Youth Coach of Distinction Award is presented annually “to a coach with a love of the game of football and who is dedicated to the betterment of the game and the development of its young athletes. The recipient is inspiring and encouraging, as well as patient and compassionate. He/she is a role model who teaches the game with dignity and sportsmanship, and who ultimately leaves an indelible mark on the lives of the players he/she mentors.”
Windham High School varsity football coach Jack Byrne nominated Francis.
“It’s a commitment that he shows a huge passion for,” Byrne said. “There’s so much good that football can bring because it teaches so many life lessons, but it’s also a sport that can go wrong if you don’t have the right people running things. What stands out most about Morgan is his passion and enthusiasm for teaching the game of football. I think it’s unlikely that the players he’s worked with will ever forget the impact he’s had on them personally or in terms of their football development.”
Jaylen LeRoy’s college basketball career concluded when third-seeded Plymouth State lost to second-seeded UMass-Dartmouth 84-71 in the semifinal round of the Little East Conference men’s basketball tournament Thursday night. LeRoy, a Manchester resident who played high school basketball for Central, scored 20 points in the loss and completed his career as the No. 4 scorer in the program’s history (1,811 points). Each of the players ahead of Leroy on Plymouth State’s career scoring list collected at least 2,000 points: Moses Jean-Pierre (2,483), Nick Pelotte (2,111) and Adam DeChristopher (2,090).
LeRoy was the NHIAA Division I Player of the Year during his senior year at Central. He scored a game-high 25 points during a 60-58 overtime victory against Merrimack in the 2016 Division I championship game.
Hooksett resident Matt Paradis earned his first professional victory Wednesday when he won a mini-tour event on the West Florida Golf Tour. Paradis, who played college golf at Southern New Hampshire University, posted a two-stroke victory at Moccasin Wallow Golf Club.
Paradis won the 2018 New Hampshire Amateur Golf Championship by beating Pat Pelletier, 6 and 5, at Hanover Country Club. Paradis finished as the State Am runner-up in 2016 and 2017.
While we await the playoff pairings for some NHIAA sports, the Division III and Division IV girls’ basketball tournaments will wrap up this week.
The Division III semifinals will be played Wednesday at Keene State College, where No. 3 Hopkinton (17-3) will take on No. 2 Fall Mountain (17-3) at 5:30 p.m., and No. 4 Newfound (17-3) will face No. 1 Conant (19-0) at 7:30 p.m. The winners will meet in the Division III championship game, which will be played Saturday (4 p.m.) at Keene State.
The Division IV semifinals will be held at Plymouth State University on Wednesday. The same four programs reached the semifinals for the third consecutive year: No. 3 Hinsdale (18-2) will play No. 2 Woodsville (18-1) at 5:30 p.m.; and No. 5 Littleton will meet No. 1 Colebrook (19-0) at 7 p.m. The Division IV championship game will be played Friday night (7) at PSU.
There’s been no official announcement on the location for the semifinals and championship games for the NHIAA Division I and Division II girls’ basketball semifinals and championship games, or the Unified championship game, but the guess here is most (perhaps all) of those games will be held at the University of New Hampshire, assuming there is no conflict with the UNH men’s and women’s teams playing in the America East tournament.
The Division II girls semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, and the Division I semifinals are scheduled for Thursday, March 12. Neither will conflict with the America East semifinals, which are played at campus sites on Tuesday, March 10 (men), and Sunday, March 8 (women).
The Division I and Division II championship games, as well as the Unified championship game, are penciled in for Saturday, March 14.
The America East championship games, which are played at the home of the highest remaining seed, will be held Friday, March 13 (women) and March 14 (men).