NH in an unfamiliar Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl spot -- underdog | New Hampshire
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NH in an unfamiliar Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl spot -- underdog

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 04. 2017 12:44AM

New Hampshire will enter Saturday’s Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl in an unfamiliar role. Not only is the Granite State not the favorite in this year’s game, it may be a significant underdog.

New Hampshire’s dominance in the game seemed to be growing until 2015, when a rule was put in place that prevented players from participating in both the CHaD New Hampshire East/West All-Star Game and the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl. That rule has clearly reduced New Hampshire’s competitive edge.

New Hampshire trailed Vermont entering the fourth quarter of the 2015 game before it pulled out a 27-12 victory, and then saw its 15-game winning streak end when it lost 50-2 last summer. Vermont’s victory last year was the widest margin of victory in the game’s history.

“They’re bigger than we are and they have some great offensive weapons, that’s for sure, but I can’t control what Vermont puts on the field,” New Hampshire coach Rob Cathcart said. “We’re scrappy and athletic everywhere. These kids have a willingness to compete and that’s what I was looking for when I picked this team — kids who wanted to compete.”

New Hampshire and Vermont will meet Saturday night (5:30) at Castleton (Vt.) University. New Hampshire has a 47-14-2 edge in the series.

Vermont failed to score more than seven points in a game eight times during New Hampshire’s 15-game winning streak. New Hampshire outscored Vermont 147-30 in the three games leading up to the 2015 contest.

Cathcart , the head coach at Trinity High School, said Evan Martin (Merrimack Valley), Joe Bernard (Bishop Brady of Concord) and Jeff Baldassari (Nashua North) will all be used at quarterback.

“We plan to play all three kids in the game, that’s probably the best way to put it,” Cathcart said. “They all have their strengths. Without naming names, we have one who throws the ball better than the others, one who runs the ball better and one who does both.”

The Vermont roster includes Tom Kourebanas, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman from Essex who will play Division I college football at Sacred Heart. Frank Brown, the former head coach at Fall Mountain Regional in Langdon, is Vermont’s offensive coordinator.

Defensive lineman Noah Fioravante (Sanborn Regional of Kingston), defensive end Brennan French (Windham), running back Richard Bell (Stevens of Claremont) and tight end Liam Flanagan (Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton) are New Hampshire’s captains for this year’s game.

Tickets for the game are $12 if purchased in advance, and $15 on game day. Tickets are available online at www.shrinemaplesugarbowl.com and will also be sold at the gate. All proceeds from the game benefit Shriners Hospitals.