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Shrine Game Notes: Hanover Grad Looks Ahead to UNH

Hanover High's Shawn Cavallaro chats with New Hampshire teammates prior to an afternoon workout during Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl training camp at Castleton State College on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Cavallaro will play slotback and may also return kicks for New Hampshire in Saturday's game at Dartmouth College's Memorial Field.

Valley News -- Greg Fennell

Hanover High's Shawn Cavallaro chats with New Hampshire teammates prior to an afternoon workout during Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl training camp at Castleton State College on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Cavallaro will play slotback and may also return kicks for New Hampshire in Saturday's game at Dartmouth College's Memorial Field. Valley News -- Greg Fennell Purchase photo reprints »

Castleton, Vt. — Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl coaches don’t get every kid they want. Hoping to lure all of the Twin States’ top football talent to raise money for Shrine hospitals, the game sometimes loses high-caliber athletes bound for college gridiron programs that don’t want recruits risking their bodies in what is essentially an exhibition.

Hanover High’s Shawn Cavallaro never thought he’d be such a casualty. He can thank his future coaches at the University of New Hampshire for that.

The Marauders’ do-everything quarterback will most likely line up in the slot on offense, return kicks and possibly play some defensive backfield against Vermont in Saturday’s Shrine Game at Memorial Field. Less than 24 hours later, his car already packed, Cavallaro will report to Durham to begin workouts with the Wildcats.

“I’ve really been preparing for this game, because it’s important for me to play for my home state and be able to play to the best of my ability,” Cavallaro said prior to New Hampshire’s Tuesday afternoon workout at Castleton State College. “Getting ready for UNH, I’ve been doing a lot of lifting, conditioning, stuff like that; talking to coaches, talking to some other players that are playing here and getting ready.

“We report the day after the game, Aug. 3, so it’s gonna be a quick turnaround. We’ve got to be ready for it.”

Cavallaro has had plenty of UNH-bound company at Castleton. Nashua South’s Trevor Knight and Plymouth’s Jared Kuehl, like Cavallaro, committed to the Wildcats on national signing day in February. Plymouth’s Kyle Reisert and Salem’s Jason Martinez, two other Shrine teammates, are expected to join UNH as walk-ons.

“We all kind of talked about it and we said a lot of people have passed (on the Shrine game) in the past, but this is a great opportunity for us to play a game,” Cavallaro said. “You never know how long until we’re going to actually play a game there (at UNH), so it’s going to be fun to play a game with each other.

“For me, it was never even a choice not to play. I’ve been looking up to the Shrine game for many years, and it’s my hometown. It should be a lot of fun.”

New Hampshire coach David Jackson, of Merrimack Valley, has employed Cavallaro mostly as a slot receiver this week. Given Jackson’s hurry-up offensive plans — on Tuesday, he reminded the Granite Staters his goal of snapping the football in no more than 20 seconds — Cavallaro is anticipating plenty of touches on Saturday.

“If you’re running no-huddle, there’s really no comparing that if you’ve huddled up before,” he said. “We ran a lot of spread (at Hanover), but I was playing quarterback a lot of the time, so it’s real different. I’ve been throwing with Trevor and getting ready to play receiver, because he told me in the spring that I’d probably play receiver here.

“I’m trying to get ready for it and adjust on the fly. Like I’m probably going to be doing at UNH.”

Brother in Arms: Woodstock brothers Sam and Zach Cole stood to be one of the rare sets of twins to suit up in the Shrine Game when Vermont coach Mike Williams of BFA-Fairfax selected them for his initial roster. Only Sam will hit the field on Saturday, however; Zach left this week for Parris Island, S.C., to begin Marine Corps basic training.

Zach Cole told the Valley News in May that he’d wanted to join the military since he was 10. Both Coles hoped that basic wouldn’t begin until later this summer; the Marines had other ideas.

“He was able to make it here for the first day, then he had to leave in the afternoon that day because he had to leave for basic training for the Marines Sunday,” Sam Cole said after Vermont’s Tuesday afternoon practice. “Hot, humid. And we think it’s hard here.”

Zach Cole signed his enlistment papers prior to the start of his senior year at Woodstock, where he, his brother and fellow Vermont Shrine selections Oliver Kaija and Tom Baumann all contributed to an undefeated state championship. According to Sam Cole, his brother had only a limited number of days before he would be ordered to South Carolina; the notice just happened to coincide with the start of Shrine camp.

Both Coles were together at Castleton long enough to join in the team photograph.

“We don’t really talk about it much; it’s just that he says it sucks that he can’t play,” said Sam, who is bound for a diesel tech school in Ohio soon. “He’s doing what he wants to do. He likes his decision, and I’m all for it.”

Tattoo You: Kaija’s first body art came Sunday in the form of an autograph on his left biceps.

Kaija and a group of Vermont teammates were meeting with a young girl during a visit to the Shrine’s hospital in Springfield, Mass., when one suggested the group sign the girl’s cast. That led Kaija to seek a reciprocal signature, using a so-called permanent marker that had faded somewhat after two days of workouts.

“We were at the end of our visit and we were really hoping to see some patients, because the last time they visited they didn’t get to see patients,” Kaija recalled. “We actually saw a girl … I think she’d just gotten done in the orthopedics division. She had a cast on her leg, she was in a wheelchair, and all the guys — it was (Lyndon linebacker) Miguel Collazo’s idea —started signing her cast. So I asked her to sign my arm.”

The girl’s name, accompanied by a heart, was marginally readable on Tuesday. Kaija hoped to have someone touch up what was left for any would-be Granite State tackler to notice.

“Hopefully, some New Hampshire kid will give me crap for it,” Kaija smiled. “And I can tell him to back off.”

Audibles: Hartford High’s Greg Shinn hasn’t spoken to former Hurricanes coach Mike Stone since the latter resigned from the school earlier this summer, the only connection being a wave when he spotted Stone in the school parking lot. It’ll be a strange autumn without Stone, who left Hartford after 28 years: “Losing Coach Stone is going to be huge for the program,” Shinn said. “Now that he’s moved on, it’s going to be something different.” Shinn is headed in less than two weeks to New York’s Utica College, where he’s been recruited as a cornerback. “I’m gonna stop by his house; I live right by him,” Shinn said of his high school coach. “I’m gonna stop before I leave and talk to him.” … Two other Upper Valley players have breaks planned, of sorts. Stevens High’s Donald Pellerin will take the year off from athletics at Plymouth State University, although he’s talked to the coaching staff about trying out for the team in the future. Woodstock’s Baumann is simply taking a break: He’ll spend the winter in Jamaica before returning to enroll in Green Mountain College’s agriculture and business programs. “I was going to go to New Zealand,” Baumann confessed, “but a $3,000 ticket compared to a $600 ticket, y’know, can’t beat that. Gonna go in the mountains, the beaches, just walk around.” … Both Baumann and Pellerin have been working in the defensive backfield for their teams. Hartford High’s Patrick McGrath is looking to possibly play defensive end for Vermont, playing there regularly during defensive drills at Castleton this week. … Whether he recognizes it or not, Stevens High’s Kai Kleyensteuber has been involved in a reunion this week. Like Kleyensteuber, Alex Parenteau participated in Keene High’s unified basketball program last winter. Parenteau’s Blackbirds topped Kleyensteuber’s Cardinals in the unified state final last season. The two are New Hampshire Shrine teammates this week. … Both teams named captains on Thursday. Woodstock’s Kaija joins Lyndon’s James Shufelt and Middlebury’s Josh Stearns and Sam Smith as Vermont captains. New Hampshire’s players elected Salem’s Martinez, Keene’s Parenteau, Concord’s Marc Gaudet and Dover’s Eric Waddington.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.