Div. II: 'Business as usual' as Bobcats gird for Portsmouth and Lenehan's finale
Plymouth Regional High School coach Chuck Lenahan celebrates the school's first NHIAA championship with players and cheerleaders after the 1972 Division III title game. (COURTESY)
At a glanceDIVISION II
Portsmouth (10-1) at Plymouth (10-1), 1 p.m.
This is the end of the line for Plymouth Regional coach Chuck Lenahan, who will retire after this contest. Lenahan has a 355-70-1 record in 43 seasons as Plymouth’s head coach. He has guided the Bobcats to 19 state championships and 13 unbeaten seasons. … Second-seeded Portsmouth enters this game on a 10-game winning streak and is the only team that beat top-seeded Plymouth this season. The Clippers posted a 27-22 victory in Plymouth on Oct. 19. Portsmouth trailed 22-7 in the fourth quarter of that contest before rallying. … This game features the program that won last year’s Division III championship (Portsmouth) against the program that won last year’s Division IV title (Plymouth). … Portsmouth has reached the championship game in its division in each of the last six years. … Plymouth will look to run the ball out of its wing-T with Jared Kuehl and John Thomas, both of whom have gained more than 1,000 yards on the ground this season. Thomas has run for 1,011 yards on 149 carries and has scored 12 touchdowns (11 rushing). Kuehl has gained 1,021 yards on 119 carries with 21 TDs (17 rushing, three receiving, one interception return). Plymouth quarterback Collin Sullivan has completed 47 of 73 passes for 842 yards and nine TDs. He’s also run for seven touchdowns. Kyle Reisert has a team-high 22 receptions for 602 yards and five touchdowns. … Senior quarterback Donovan Phanor is the player who makes Portsmouth’s four-wide, no-huddle offense go. Phanor has completed 89 of 166 passes for 1,478 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. He’s been intercepted six times. Phanor has also run for 719 yards and 11 TDs on 114 carries. … Fullback Mikel Toar is Portsmouth’s leading rusher (110-748).… This is the fourth meeting between these programs. Plymouth has a 3-1 record in those games, which includes a 35-20 triumph in the 2006 Division III championship game.
Roger Brown's pick: Plymouth 20, Portsmouth 14
Legendary Plymouth Regional High School coach Chuck Lenahan will lead the Bobcats one final time in 43 years at the helm when No. 1 Plymouth hosts No. 2 Portsmouth at 1 p.m. for the NHIAA Division II championship.
"It's not about the coaches," he said of the approach he and his staff are taking toward Saturday. "It's business as usual. The championship game — that comes first. It's the seniors' last game, and that matters more than anything."
He prefers not to discuss any of that, choosing to let his accomplishments speak for themselves. It's been that way pretty much since Lenahan became head coach in 1971.
"I don't see us being the bad guy," Pafford said. "I just see two good football teams trying to play against each other. We're trying to keep (Lenahan's retirment) to the side because this is about two teams. It's a state championship game."
"I think I'll leave that alone," he said. 'We've got some good candidates in house, and hopefully we get someone in house and we keep it going. We'll worry about that after Saturday."