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Mascoma Football Coach Ends Successful Run

Mascoma High football coach Ray Kershaw talks to his Royals following their Sept. 1, 2012, win over Franklin. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

Mascoma High football coach Ray Kershaw talks to his Royals following their Sept. 1, 2012, win over Franklin. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »

West Canaan — Ray Kershaw told Mascoma High officials when they hired him as football coach that he expected to be on the job for no more than three to five years. So his decision to depart is simply a case of keeping his word.

The Royals’ program was still in its formative stages, still fighting for numbers and enjoying little on-field success, when Kershaw joined the team four years ago. He leaves Mascoma capable of fielding varsity and junior varsity rosters, competitive on a weekly basis and receiving an enviable level of community support.

“The biggest reason is I’m at a point now where I feel that the program is now up and running,” Kershaw said this week. “Last year (2012), we had a great season; this year, we went 5-3. I said it was a good time to move on.”

A veteran coach whose past stops included Proctor Academy and Kearsarge Middle School, Kershaw saw an opportunity to help when he learned of Mascoma’s season-ending 71-0 loss to Franklin to close the 2009 season. The Royals had only 12 healthy bodies available for the game.

Mascoma now is among the more competitive teams in NHIAA Division III. Kershaw guided the 2012 team to the state’s D-VI championship game, success that eventually led to nomination as New Hampshire coach for the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl. Kershaw guided two of his players from that squad, running back-linebacker Spencer Pierce and lineman Nick Farnsworth, in the Shrine Game, while tight end-defensive end Chris Sanborn made the CHaD East-West Game.

“I saw the coaching spot open up, and I felt it was an opportunity where I could do those kids some good,” Kershaw said. “Whether it’s Pop Warner or high school, nobody should have to go through losing like (71-0). I felt I could help.”

Whoever succeeds Kershaw should have a decent shot at competing in whatever NHIAA D-III looks like next fall. A good portion of Mascoma’s line will be back, and junior Andrew Cashe developed into a viable running option as this past season evolved.

More than anything, however, the Royals will know they have an interested community behind them. That will be the thing that stays with Kershaw the most.

“The numbers they’ve got — next year, they’ll have 36 kids and quite a few will be coming up from middle school — they should be fine,” Kershaw said. “The biggest thing is the community. The support is just overwhelming.”

Beast of the Northeast: Hanover High boys soccer coach Rob Grabill has been selected as the New England Division I coach of the year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Grabill has known little other than success since taking over the Marauders’ reins eight years ago. This past autumn saw Hanover roll to its first NHIAA Division I state championship with a 19-0-1 march capped by a 2-0 title-game defeat of Alvirne last month.

He owns a 134-9-10 record during his Hanover tenure, winning five straight D-II championships prior to the Marauders’ elevation to D-I in 2012. Additionally, senior Daniel Hazlett — one of Hanover’s top scoring threats — was named to the NSCAA’s All-New England and All-America teams following a campaign in which he scored 16 goals during the Marauders’ run to the title.

Twin Valley boys soccer coach Buddy Hayford, a Hartford High graduate, was named the NSCAA New England Division II coach of the year.

No Lack of Lax: With three more athletes committing to college programs in recent weeks, Hanover High girls lacrosse coach Chris Seibel will have no fewer than four future NCAA players on his roster next spring.

Seibel learned in the past week that two Marauders, Evie Keating and Liesel Robbins, are bound for the Middlebury women’s lacrosse team in the fall, while Rachel Boghosian has cast her fate with Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg College.

They join Seibel’s eldest daughter, Georgetown-bound Hannah, as Hanover’s college core.

“Their ability to be athletic and compete is probably what the coaches are looking for,” Chris Seibel said. “They realize that the kids they’re recruiting are going to have some holes in their games as far as skills, but that’s something they can coach. But if they don’t have a kid that can compete or isn’t athletic, even if they’re strong skill-wise, it’s hard to get that edge you need to go to the next level.”

Like Hannah Seibel, Boghosian has dedicated significant time to developing her lacrosse skills through the Boston-based Revolution girls club program. Not so with Keating and Robbins, however, which makes their recruitment all the more interesting.

Both are committed multi-sport athletes whose lacrosse is usually limited to the high school season. One of Seibel’s assistant coaches, Lyllah Martin, has a sister connected to Middlebury who passed the word on the pair to longtime Panthers coach Missy Foote, who then met the two at a Hanover practice.

Both possess skills that will be helpful at the D-III college level. Robbins is one of the state’s better draw winners; with the NCAA reducing the number of players in the draw circle from 10 to six last year, a rule that will trickle to the high schools next spring, Robbins’ abilities will become even more important. Keating offers a level of athleticism and anticipation that will serve her well both on offense and defense.

“From what Missy told me, they only recruit four girls a year; if they need a goalie, they’ll recruit a fifth,” Seibel said. “They have a substantial roster, maybe 35-40 women, but the majority are walk-ons.”

Hannah Seibel signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Georgetown last month. Athletes recruited to D-III colleges aren’t required to sign an NLI.

Bits-n-Pieces: Four area athletes made the NHIAA Division II all-state football team released earlier this week. Lebanon’s Austin Pelletier was the only area representative on the first team, earning a spot at defensive back. Three others — Lebanon safety Ian Girdwood, Raider kicker Grayson Hardy and Hanover return man Shawn Cavallaro — all made the second team. … According to its website, Hanover High is no longer charging admission to athletic events, save for home games in holiday or state tournaments. Date night, anyone?

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