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2021 HS football preview: Teams back to renewed challenges

  • Lebanon center Zach Whitcomb bears down on a tackling bag during practice in Lebanon, N.H., on Aug. 18, 2021. Categorized by population, Lebanon is the smallest school in Division II football. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley news photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • Lebanon head coach Chris Childs watches his team run through blocking drills at practice in Lebanon, N.H., on Aug. 18, 2021. Lebanon was undefeated and headed to the state semifinals when their season was derailed by COVID-19 in 2020. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

  • Lebanon running back/linebacker Hunter Grant grabs a toss from line coach Rich Rogers during a conditioning drill at practice in Lebanon, N.H., on Aug. 18, 2021. The team opens their season on the road against Manchester West on September 4. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

  • From left, Avery Bean, Evan Burke, Vance Martin and Jonathan Dexter set up for a drill during the first football practice of the season at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Monday, August 16, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Keegan Batchelder, left, hands the ball off to Ben Gilbert while they run a drill during the first football practice of the season at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Monday, August 16, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dylan Carpenter, left, and Luke Bartlett kneel as they talk with their teammates after conditioning at Newport High School's football practice at in Newport, N.H., on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Aaron Fellows throws a pass during practice at Newport High School in Newport, N.H., on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Gabe Howe carries pads back to the field from a storage shed during practice at Newport High School in Newport, N.H., on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 9/2/2021 12:01:49 AM
Modified: 9/2/2021 12:01:57 AM

Upper Valley high school football teams are returning to normalcy for the 2021 season. Last fall was far from typical, as both Vermont and New Hampshire employed regional scheduling as a strategy to limit the transmission of COVID-19.

Bus-ride durations were curtailed, and local teams got to face off against different opponents, but the contests were often one-sided due to discrepancies in school sizes. Green Mountain teams experienced an additional change in format by playing seven-man touch rather than tackle football. Better-than-nothing seemed to be the consensus among players and coaches, but a conventional season would have been preferred.

The current season began with late-summer workouts and a sense of optimism across Upper Valley training camps.

Hanover

Coach: Sam Cavallaro (7).

Last year: 4-2, lost in first round of playoffs to Lebanon.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Taj Bagnato (WR/DB), Josh Bucci (TE/LB), Connor Chambers (OL/DL), Jack Crandell (OL/DL), Seamus Murphy (RB/LB), Colin Pierce (QB/S). Juniors — Matt Brock (RB/OL), Patrick Elder (OL/DL), Montana Hanchett (OL/DL), Brendan Logan (WR/DB).

Newcomers: Seniors — Declan Flynn (WR/LB), Ethan Gailey (OL/DL), Ian Hedgepeth (WR/DB), Jerad Mercado (OL/LB). Juniors — Cam Bonner (TE/DE), Tom Mosdal (OL/DL). Sophomores — Caleb Buskey (TE/LB), Iain Fielder (WR/DB), Nels Jones (OL/DL), Roger Lucas (QB/DB), Teddy Sumner (WR/S), Mateo Trimble (RB/WR/LB/DB), Jeffrey Vidou RB/LB. Freshman — Keegan Murphy (OL/LB).

Analysis: “This team is the hardest-working team I have ever coached,” Cavallaro said. “Our captains, Seamus Murphy, Colin Pierce, Josh Bucci and Jack Crandell, have done a great job to set an example for all of our players. Our goal, like every year, is to get into the playoffs. We will need everyone on the above list, and I feel really good about this team.”

Hartford

Coach: Matt Trombly (8).

Last year: 8-2, lost in first round of playoffs to Windsor.

League: VPA Division I.

Returnees: Seniors — Colin Vielleux (QB/LB), Devin Sinclair (OL/DL), Jacob Seaver (WR/DB/P), Brandon Potter (RB/DB), Harry Gaudet (OL/DL). Juniors — Connor Tierney (OL/DE), AJ Aldrich (OL/DL), Nolan Morse (RB/DB). Sophomores — Brody Tyburski (DE/FB), Ezra Mock (RB/DB).

Newcomers: Seniors — Noah Arsenault (TE/DE), Drew Boyce (WR/DB), Tarin Prior (WR/DB). Juniors — Trenton Bird (RB/LB), Zeb Broder (OL/DL), Rocco Clough (OL/DL), Hunter Colson (OL/LB), Derik Dickinson (OL/DL), Austin Guilbault (OL/DL), Ethan Jacobson (OL/DE), Sean Kelliher (RB/LB), Nic Larose (RB/DB), Cole Lucas (OL/DE), Justin Robinson (RB/LB). Sophomores — Gavin Brown (TE/DE), Jesse Dunham (OL/DL), Matt Franklin (OL/LB), Andrew Keenan (OL/LB), Evan Lynds (WR/DB), Brady Olmstead (RB/LB), Ben Shepard (OL/DL) Ryan Spaulding (OL/LB), Braden Trombly (QB/DB), Cole Withington (OL/LB). Freshmen — Nick Daniels (RB/LB), Brandon Driver (OL/DL), Colby Tierney (TE/DE), Aidian Harrington (OL/DE), Gavin Jones (WR/DB), Austin St. Peter (RB/LB), Aaron Lyon (WR/DB), Zane Peach (QB/LB), Tyler Piper (RB/LB), Ezekiel Warfel (RB/LB).

Analysis: “It is our goal every year to be a playoff contender,” Trombly said. “Hartford has a rich football tradition, and we hope to meet expectations. While we have some inexperience and youth at the skill positions, the talent is high there. Up front, we hope to rely on players who have been tested. For Hartford, our success comes down to whether we can win the battle in the trenches and play solid defense. With a meat grinder of a schedule, staying healthy will be the key to success.”

Lebanon

Coach: Chris Childs (15).

Last year: 6-1, forfeited D-II state semifinal game to Plymouth due to COVID-19 contact tracing issue.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — CJ Childs (RB/LB), Jack Stone (QB/DB), Cole Shambo (RB/LB), Zack Whitcomb (C/DE), Justin Decarlo (WR/LB), Hunter Grant (RB/LB), Nyoti Punni (RB/LB/DB), Steve Miller (T/T), Sebastian Yates (G/T), Cam Davio (G/DE), Connor Brown (G/DE). Juniors — Sawyer Beaulieu (RB/DB), Tanner Ames (TE/DE),

Newcomers: Juniors — Morgan Melendy (QB/DB), Richie Gatto (RB/LB), Noah Lamontagne (G/DT), Keegan Fredette (T/T), Ethan Price (WR/LB), Dustin Jarvis (T/T), Josh Ball (RB/LB), Reed Powell (G/DE), Logan Rafter (T/T). Sophomores — Talan Patkul (RB/DB), Ryan Neu (RB/LB).

Analysis: “This group is one of the largest senior classes I have had at Lebanon,” Childs said. “They have had a lot of success over the years, and we are looking to bring the younger teammates up to their level. The aim is to be playing our best football at the end of the season and have a chance at the playoffs.”

Mascoma

Coach: Kyle Colburn (4).

Last year: 1-4, lost to Newport in D-IV quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division IV.

Returnees: Seniors — Tyler Mekus (WR/LB), Ethan Gelinas (K/LB), Roman Farnsworth (RB/DB), Joshua Williams (RB/DB), Owen McKinney (OL/DL), Hawkens Barton (OL/DL). Juniors — Asa Michetti (RB/LB), Leigham Tetreault (WR/DL). Sophomores — Connor Hobbs (RB/DB), Tyler-Jay Mardin (QB/LB), Damian Nestle (RB/LB), Tyler Stark (OL/DL).

Newcomers (positions TBD): Senior — Logan Mallet. Freshmen — Anthony Figuero, Brody Goelette, Colin Smith, Ryan McKinnely, Gareth Brow.

Analysis: “We are starting a lot of young players who didn’t get much experience last year,” Coburn said. “Our goal is to compete in our division. Win or loss, to get the program back to where it was, it’s going to be one step at a time. As talented as we are, especially with our incoming freshmen, we still have long ways to go, but we are all excited to get back at it.”

Newport

Coach: John Proper (3).

Last year: 7-1, defeated Somersworth in D-IV state championship.

League: NHIAA Division IV.

Returnees: Seniors — Devyn Heino (FB/DE), Dylon Carpenter (G), Kaiden Seymour (OT). Juniors — Karter Pollari (LB), Makyi Matheson (OT). Sophomores — Logan Ash (OT).

Newcomers: Seniors — Jayden Conroy (WR/CB), Cameron Howard (TE/DE), Bryce Ashley (TE/LB), Liam Almstrom (OT/DT), Luke Bartlett (C), Jackson Dame (LB). Juniors — Tyler Gobin (RB/LB), Darren Janicke (CB), Garion Lacasse (TE/LB). Sophomore — Kyle Ashley (QB/S).

Analysis: “Last year’s team was built on speed, where this year’s team is built around its size,” Proper said. “We lost nine starters from last year, but a lot of returning kids saw game time last season. Our goals coming into this season are the same as last year: Run the football on offense and be aggressive on defense, and we should be very competitive.”

Oxbow

Coach: Chad Wescott (3).

Last year: 0-6, lost to Spaulding in first round of playoffs.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Greg Tilton (OL/DL), Dana Blair (WR/CB), Gavin Tellier (OL/LB). Juniors — Cooper Mardin (RB/LB), Ben Knehr (OL/DL), Ryland Begnoche (OL/DE), Chase Lund (QB/LB), Calvin Carbee (OL/DL), Will Ilsley (WR/CB), Nick Schwarz (RB/LB), Xavier Beaudin (WR/CB). Sophomores — Kody Schwarz (RB/S), Hunter Fahey (TE/DL).

Newcomers: Seniors — Zach Dukette (OL/LB), Logan Protzman (TE/LB). Sophomores — Tyler Marsh (QB/S), Caleb Smith (OL/DL), Alford Manning (RB/LB). Freshmen — Ethan Davis (WR/CB), Garrett Danforth (QB/CB), Christian Ditcheos (OL/DL), Chase Fischer (OL/DE), Owen Bailey (WR/S), Isaac Craig (RB/LB), Isaac Russ (OL/DE).

Analysis: “Expectations are to win football games,” Wescott said. “Goals are to build a culture of winning, have stability and sustainability within program and win the first playoff game in school history.”

Stevens

Coach: Paul Silva (11).

Last year: 3-4, lost to Pelham in D-III championship game.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Zack Bundy (QB/DB), Nicholas Burke (WR/LB), Hunter Christian (RB/NG), Pascal Lemieux (RB/LB), Tobyn Von Kahle (G/DT), Liam Williams (T/DE). Juniors — Robbie Inglee (G/DT), Evan Lee (WR/DB), Cam Oxton (T/NG), Jai-Lique Ribeiro (RB/CB), AJ Rozzell (T/DE), Colby Shepard (G/DT), Lucas Smith (G/DE), Kaden Thyne (WR/S), Carson Vielguth (C/DT), Aiden White (WR/LB). Sophomores — Aiden Barry (RB/LB), Wyatt Burke (G/DT), Kurtis Chaloux (WR/DB), Tyler Christian (TE/LB), Braeden Parry Pignatiello (G/DT), Brayden Rostron (T/DT).

Newcomers: Juniors — Devin Genes (WR/DB), Blake Pond (TE/LB). Sophomores — Kevin Brand (G/DT), Cameron Cummings (TE/LB). Freshmen — Kaine Daniels (WR/DB), Cullen Neathawk (T/DE), Steven Rheaume (T/DT), Austin Simoneau (G/DE), Hunter Watson (T/DT), Christopher West (TE/LB).

Analysis: “We graduated most of our skill-position players, so we will be inexperienced at some key positions to start the season,” Silva said. “This group of kids has bonded, and I really like how hard they worked in the summer conditioning program, seven-on-sevens and so far in the preseason. I am anxious to see how their work pays off in a very tough, competitive division and a very tough opening game on the road at Pelham.”

Windsor

Coach: Greg Balch (8).

Last year: 11-1, defeated Brattleboro in Southeast Division seven-on-seven championship game.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Austin Gauld (TE/DE), Ben Gilbert (RB/LB), Dalton Clifford (OL/DL), Kaleb Swett (WR/DB), Richie Young (OL/DL). Juniors — Rodger Petermann (TE/DE), Logan Worrall (RB/LB), Maison Fortin (QB/DB), Bradley Bowers (OL/DL), Vance Martin (OL/DL), Jordan Hart (RB/LB), Travis McCallister (RB/DB).

Newcomers: Seniors — Keegan Batchelder (RB/DB), Jonathan Dexter (OL/LB). Juniors — Will Scalese (OL/DL), Tydus Percy (OL/DE), Evan Burke (OL/LB). Sophomores — Carter Hodgdon (OL/DL), Avery Bean (OL/DL), Trevor LaGrow (OL/DL), Brody Osgood (WR/DB), Jonah Meadows (WR/DB), Tanner Moody (OL/LB), Corey Lockwood (QB/DB), Bradley Adams (RB/DB), Landon Mas (OL/DL).

Analysis: “We have a relatively small roster but some excellent returning players as well as promising new players,” Balch said. “I am very impressed with the offseason conditioning as well as the effort and attitude of this team. They are already coming together as a close-knit group and show a willingness to work hard and learn. Our expectations are always high, and I am looking forward to seeing how we progress through the season.”

Woodstock

Coach: Ramsey Worrell (9).

Last year: 0-9, lost in playoffs to Bellows Falls.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Senior — Wyatt Begin (RB/DB), Memphis Begin (OL/DL), Eric Blanchard (LB/TE), Colby Eaton (QB/DB), Robby Macri (WR/DB), Otto Nisimblat (WR/DB), Alexander Rice (OL/DL), Corey White (RB/DB), Ryan Leonard (RB/DB), Ryan Runstein (TE/LB). Juniors — Cody Bartlett (OL/LB), Hudson Maxham (OL/DL), Izaiah Moses (OF/LB), Willie Underwood (FB/DL). Sophomores — Meridian Bremel (OL/DL), Brooks Ruderman (RB/DB).

Newcomers: Senior — Aidan Herguth (RB/DB). Juniors — Conner Dinn (FB/LB), Simon North (OL/DL). Sophomores — Josh Hough (RB/DB). Freshmen — Caden Smith (TE/LB), Caeden Perreault (RB/DB), Chance Palmer (OL/DL), Colton Kowalski (OL/DL).

Analysis: “We have a lot of new players,” Worrell said. “These kids have never played in a football game, ever, and we’re asking them to be starters and play big roles on this team. There’s definitely some excitement, but also some nervousness because it’s going to take time.”




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