LAST SEASON, Zach Matthews had one football player on his Kearsarge Regional roster who weighed more than 200 pounds. Things will be different with his new team.
His new team, in case you haven’t heard, is Bedford High School. Bedford director of athletics Corey Parker announced Saturday the school has hired Matthews as a physical education teacher and varsity football coach. Matthews also coaches varsity lacrosse at Kearsarge, but it appears his days of coaching lacrosse will end after the current season.
“That will be going away with the Bedford job,” Matthews said. “Time to focus on football.”
High expectations come with the Bedford football job. Matthews will replace Derek Stank, who resigned as Bedford’s head coach last month to become the head coach at San Marcos (Calif.) High School. Bedford qualified for the Division I playoffs in each of Stank’s four years as the program’s varsity head coach. He led the Bulldogs to the Division I championship twice (2016 and 2018) and Bedford reached the Division I semifinals in his two other seasons.
Matthews played at Plymouth State and got into coaching when he served as Utica College’s wide receivers coach during his first year out of college. He spent five years as the offensive coordinator at Merrimack Valley and took over as the defensive coordinator at Kearsarge in 2010, when the Cougars beat St. Thomas in the Division V championship game. He became Kearsarge’s head coach in 2011.
“I enjoyed my time at Kearsarge, but there are some challenges that come with coaching at a smaller school,” Matthews said. “When I took over at Kearsarge, we had about 750 students. I think last year we were under 550 students. When you lose an offensive lineman, it’s tough not knowing who you’re going to put there.
“To make a move, I was looking for the right school … a football program you’d want to work with and a teaching position, and for me that’s physical education. I feel with my head coaching experience, it was a good fit. I’m looking at this as a long-term situation.”
Matthews, 39, is a Wilmot resident. He said he plans to sell his house and move his family to Bedford. His record, by season, at Kearsarge:
2011: 7-3, lost to Windham in Division V semifinals.
2012: 7-2, lost to Monadnock in Division V semifinals.
2013: 2-7 in Division II.
2014: 5-5, lost to Kennett in Division II semifinals.
2015: 6-3, lost to Kennett in Division II semifinals.
2016: 5-2 in Division III.
2017: 4-5, lost to Monadnock in Division III semifinals.
2018: 1-8 in Division III.
Matthews won’t start teaching at Bedford until the 2019-20 school year. He’ll continue to coach Kearsarge lacrosse this season, but said he will also work with the Bedford football program on nights and weekends when his schedule allows.
He said Bedford fans shouldn’t expect to see a lot of changes with regard to how the Bulldogs look on the field.
“I definitely know what I want to do,” he said. “We’re still going to be a spread team. Bedford has been a spread team for years. They played defense at a high level last season. Not a whole lot of changes there, either.”
Matthews met with his former players on Friday, and spoke to his new team for the first time Saturday.
“The biggest difference between a Division II or Division III team and a Division I team is talent level and depth of roster,” he said. “My new team makes me feel small.”
Bedford wasn’t the only NHIAA school that filled a football vacancy last week. Newport hired John Proper to replace Dennis Borcuk as its varsity head coach. Borcuk resigned after one season as the school’s varsity coach. Proper, 41, is Newport’s fourth head coach in the last six years.
Proper, 41, played center and defensive end on Newport’s 1995 team, which won the Division IV championship. He’s Newport’s fourth head coach in the last six years.
First basema Grant Lavigne was batting .267 through nine games with the Asheville (N.C.) Tourists, Colorado’s Class A affiliate in the Class A South Atlantic League. Entering Sunday’s game at Hagerstown, Lavigne had struck out 14 times in 30 at-bats.