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Cardinals Are in Need of a Few Good Men

Claremont — Football practice may have seemed a little lonely this week for Stevens High head coach Paul Silva.

That’s because Silva finds himself the sole returning coach on the Cardinals grid staff.

For the past four years, Silva headed a staff that included his father, Ralph, as the offensive coordinator and Bill Gobin as the defensive leader. However, neither will be with the team this year.

The elder Silva is dealing with a lingering illness, while Gobin has stepped aside for family reasons.

The lack of assistants, and assistance, will naturally make Silva’s job more difficult. Football is a sport that having assistants in key positions is not only vital on game day, but during daily practice sessions as well.

To fill the breach, Silva will step into the role as offensive coordinator and call the plays. After that, some help is on the way.

Erik Anderson, a middle school physical education teacher who once coached football at Merrimack Valley, has agreed to be the defensive coordinator.

“He’s going to be a big help,“ said Silva.

Then there’s former All-State receiver Josh Duford, who graduated from Stevens four years ago, who will also be on the sidelines.

Larry McElreavy will be back for his third season as coach of the middle school football team.

At the same time, Silva has talked to athletic director Aaron House to try to increase the coaching staff.

“The more coaches, the better,” he said.

Football in New Hampshire has made some big changes for the upcoming season. The six-division format used through 2012 has been abandoned for a three-division system, with two conferences in each division, that has Stevens in Division III with 16 other teams. As a result of those changes, Stevens is in a conference that includes regional neighbors Fall Mountain, Mascoma and Newport.

Stevens’ non-conference foes are Somersworth, Campbell, Farmington-Nute and Raymond. The Cardinals will play an eight-game schedule with on open date on Oct. 12.

Silva is still undecided whether he is happy with the alignment, but realizes that it is just a one-year experiment.

“We’ll just deal with it,” he said. “It is what it is.”

One area he is happy about is that the school is hiring an athletic trainer.

“We’ve been kind of lucky in that area in that we’ve had some very bad injuries and we were at places where there were medical types on the job instantly,” Silva said.

Silva noted that when standout QB Logan Batchelder broke his leg at Kearsarge last season, he was impressed with the immediate attention Batchelder got. “The same with Billy Brooks last year at Inter-Lakes with his shoulder injury and Andrew Brousseau with his broken hand in Somersworth.

“Now we can offer the same immediate attention. I think a trainer is often the first thing I get asked about when a visiting team comes to town.”

Stevens has 40 players practicing, with the first game scheduled Sept. 6 at home with Somersworth. There will be an alumni game at Barnes Park on Saturday.

Stevens was 5-4 in the regular season last fall, losing in the first round of the playoffs at Somersworth.