NHIAA Div. II Football Preview: Title road still runs through Plymouth
Division II Football ScoopWhat's new: Manchester West, a Division I program last season, dropped to Division II East. West replaced Portsmouth, which moved up to Division I. Pelham moved up to Division II from Division III and was placed in Division II South. John Stark moved from Division II South to Division II West, Kearsarge moved from Division II North to Division II West and John Stark shifted from Division II South to Division II West. In addition, the Division II championship game will be played Nov. 22 at UNH's Cowell Stadium (2:30 p.m.). All three NHIAA title games will be held at UNH that day.
East: Kingswood, Manchester West, Merrimack Valley, Pembroke and St. Thomas.
North: Hanover, Kearsarge, Kennett, Laconia, Lebanon and Plymouth.
South: Milford, Pelham, Souhegan, Trinity and Windham.
West: ConVal, Hollis/Brookline, John Stark, Monadnock and Sanborn.
Players to watch: Mitchell Bailey Sr. OL/DL (Laconia); Saikou Bah Jr. RB (Trinity); Ryan Bennett Jr. RB (St. Thomas); Evan Bolognani Jr.OL/DE (Plymouth); Jack Cavallaro Sr. TE (Hanover); Jacob Cameron Sr. OL (Kennett); Kyle Chiasson Jr. HB/DB (Laconia); Nick Graziano Sr. DB/WR (Kennett); Kurtis Jolicoeur Sr. LB (Windham); Trevor Martin Jr. QB/WR (St. Thomas); Brendan McInnis Sr. QB/DB (Windham); Liam Morris Sr. DE (Monadnock); Jason Murray Jr. OT (Plymouth); Ivan Niyomugabo Sr. QB/DB (Merrimack Valley); Joey Porter Sr. RB (Hanover); Nick Sherwood Sr. DE (Kennett).
Change at the top: Paul Landau (ConVal), Chris Lones (Hollis/Brookline), Vaughan Beckwith (Kennett), Jim Coll (Merrimack Valley), Ray Connolly (Pembroke) and Chris Sanborn (Plymouth).
Circle this date: When Plymouth travels to Conway to face Kennett on Sept. 19 it will be a game that features two new coaches as well as two of the top programs in Division II. The winner of that contest will have cleared a huge hurdle in its attempt to secure home-field advantage for the Division II North playoffs.
Trending: Plymouth will be trying to advance to the championship game in its division for the sixth time in the last seven years. The Bobcats have won four state championships during that span.
Sanborn is a former Plymouth player who spent 15 seasons on Lenahan’s staff. He’ll have to fill the voids left by tight end/defensive end Kyle Reisert and running back/linebacker Jared Kuehl — both of whom are now playing at the University of New Hampshire — but will build around offensive lineman/defensive end Evan Bolognani, offensive tackle Jason Murray and defensive back Justin Robinson.
Kennett of Conway, St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover and Windham are among the teams that could unseat Plymouth.
One person who didn’t return to Kennett is former head coach Mike Holderman, who took a head coaching job at the high school level in North Carolina. Vaughan Beckwith, an assistant on the Kennett staff last season, was hired as Kennett’s interim head coach this season.
“There are a lot of linemen, but we had to replace our entire offensive backfield,” Milford coach Keith Jones said.