Div. III Preview
Div. III Football Preview: Stevens, Somersworth among the favorites
Campbell High School's new head coach, Greg Gush, gathers with returning standouts Vinny Bucci, left, and Trevor Duquette before Tuesday's practice in Litchfield. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
Division III glanceWhat's new: Division III is now a 17-team league made up of programs that competed in Division V and Division VI last season. The division features four conferences. Two teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs.
Here's how the teams are grouped by conference:
East: Bishop Brady (of Concord), Epping/Newmarket, Farmington/Nute (of Milton) and Raymond.
North: Franklin, Gilford, Inter-Lakes (of Meredith)/Moultonborough, Newfound (of Bristol) and Winnisquam.
South: Bow, Campbell (of Litchfield), Pelham and Somersworth.
West: Fall Mountain (of Langdon), Mascoma Valley (of Canaan), Newport and Stevens (of Claremont).
Players to watch: Jack Athanas, QB (Gilford); Eddie Bianco, RB (Mascoma); Vinni Bucci, MLB/OT/TE (Campbell); Elyjah Dejoie, RB/LB (Somersworth); Trevor Duquette, PK/TB/OLB (Campbell); Jamen Gunnison, RB (Farmington-Nute); Andrew Houde, QB (Newport); Kyle Kosoriek, RB (Mascoma); Hunter Kretschmar, DE/OT (Somersworth); Noah Ladd, DL (Stevens); Justin Marsh, DB (Mascoma); Nathaniel Napen, DL (Bow); Korey Parent, RB (Franklin); Donald Pellerin, RB/DB (Stevens); Shane Pierce, RB/DE (Mascoma); Mike Rich, SE (Sanborn); Joe Slattery, DB (Pelham); Jacob Valinski, LB Epping/Newmarket; Tyler Smith LB (Farmington/Nute).
Change at the top: Four teams will enter the season with first-year head coaches: Campbell (Greg Gush), Franklin (Jeff Kaplan), Gilford (Chris Marden) and Newfound (Shane Tucker).
Circle this date: Somersworth will play at Mascoma on Oct. 19. Each team finished as the runner-up in its division last year, and this game will likely have playoff implications for both.
Trending: The Fall Mountain program returns to the varsity level after playing a junior varsity schedule last season.
Why? For starters, no one will have to worry about Monadnock Regional of Swanzey, last year's Division V champion. The Huskies appear to be strong again but were moved to Division II even though they are a Division III program by enrollment.
"People can say what they want, but we're in a tough conference. Anybody who underestimates Mascoma is making a mistake. (Kershaw's) got the 11 players he needs to run the (double wing) offense that he does."
"Until we can prove ourselves on the field, I'm not going to say we're the team to beat," Hodsdon said. "We have a small junior and senior class. Right now I have no idea what kind of team we're going to be."
"Our line was our strength last year," Kershaw said. "This year we have a lot of youth up front. The team strength is in the offensive backfield."
"Four of our five offensive linemen are back," Kaplan said. "We're solid up front. Defense will be more of a challenge."
"It's going to be a little bit tougher to win a championship," Kershaw said. "And it's going to be quite a process to get there."