Tom King’s top local sports stories for 2018
The end of any sports year brings the toughest job of that year – choosing the best and most memorable of the best and most memorable.
It’s purely a subjective exercise, and almost every time after “send” is hit, another possible addition to the list is recalled.
But we’ll go with this one for the Top 10 local sports stories of 2018. So many great achievements, and a little drama to go with it. It’s just about success but also impact.
Here’s a look at one scribe’s list, and you can argue for and against a lot of them:
1. NASHUA SILVER KNIGHTS
The season may be just two and a half months, but the drama, despite no Futures Collegiate League title this year, can sometimes be year round. From the hiring of general manager Rick Muntean in January to the hiring of his successors, Victoria Cookson and Michael Broderick, to owner Drew Weber selling off a minority share to a group headed by local banker Frank Teas, this team was constantly in the news. A record attendance season, but there will certainly be more in store for 2019 both with the team and the Futures Collegiate League. Stay tuned.
2. BILL DOD SAYS GOOD-BYE TO A STELLAR 50-YEAR CAREER.
Amazing. The area will never see another high school baseball coach like Dod, who wrapped up an incredible baseball career, which began at Sanborn Regional, moved to Bishop Guertin, then Milford, and finally an amazing stretch of parts or all of three decades at Souhegan. Simply put, no one stays in coaching that long anymore, not with today’s pressures and demands. But Dod found a way to conquer all that and make a difference in so many young people’s lives. And, as they’ve grown, still does today.
3.HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SEASON.
Nothing captures the attenion of local high school fans like football. The 2018 fall featured two teams, Alvirne and Campbell, that made it to the Division II and III title games, respectively, the first time the area has had two teams in title games in quite some time. For the Broncos, it was their first title appearance ever. Curtis Harris, a Nashua North sophomore, became a dynamic player. Merrimack reached the Division I semis after an epic overtime mud bowl win over North. Souhegan made a semifinal appearance as well. Let’s see what 2019 has in store.
4.HOLLIS BROOKLINE RULES DIVISION II BASKETBALL
The Cavaliers captured both the Division II boys and girls championships. When will we see one school rule like that again? The HB girls looked strong during the regular season , finished as the third seed and beat an upstart 13th seeded John Stark team in the finals behind the leadership of senior Joanna Balsamo. The boys? They were the top seed, had a group of friends that had been together for awhile led by senior Matt Simco, and had three games to glory. This just doesn’t happen that often, so you know Cavalier Country will savor it.
5.NASHUA’S TIM NEVERETT LEAVES THE RED SOX RADIO BOOTH
This just happened recently, and was somewhat of a shock as Neverett kept mum about any issues he had with WEEI management until early December, when he decided he wouldn’t fullfil the fourth year of his contract after contract negotiation and other differences with the station. But he has reportedly landed in a great spot, doing both radio and TV next season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. A shame he wasn’t going to be able to stay in his dream job,but he’ll always savor the moments of broadcasting a World Series champion.
6.BG GIRLS BASKETBALL WINS AGAIN.
It just shows you what a busy year it was for winning a third straight Division I title to get nudged out of the Top Five, doesn’t it? The Cardinals didn’t even finish in the top four, as head coach Brad Kreick opted for a schedule that contained some tough out-of-state competition, as it was all about timing: Be better in March than in January. It worked, as the Cards upset Bedford in the semis in a classic and then more or less coasted past Pinkerton in the finals. Good way for their lone senior, Caroline Hoffer, to finish her athletic career
The biggest single local night/event in area sports, the 80th birthday celebration for Holman Stadium, all done around the Futures Collegiate League All-Star Game. The unfortunate part was the event had to be postponed a day due to heavy rain, which caused a lot of the day-long planned festivities to be eliminated from the schedule. But the following night it was a smash hit, the game was great, and the fans left with a little piece of history.
8.HOLLIS BROOKLINE’S GIRLS VOLLEYBALL FOURPEAT
Speaking of history, the Cavaliers are making their own, taking their fourth straight Division I title, topping Bedford. Becky Balfour has just outpaced the competition, building a program that now others in the state aspire to. The underlying story was that Nashua South was having a superb year, clearly gunning for the Cavs until the Bulldogs got in the way. For HB, , can their be a successful Drive For Five? We’ll see.
9.CAMPBELL WINS DIVISION III BOYS SOCCER CROWN
Just amazing. The Cougars didn’t even have a head coach at the start of the preseason, until the Miller family – headed by former college head coaches Bill and Aaron – came forward and were hired a day or two into practice. What followed was the re-tooling of a good team into a champion. But how about soccer; the Cougars did not score a single goal in 200 minutes of regulation and overtime soccer in the semis and finals – but won both in a shootout. Amazing.
10.MATT LAPSLEY AND SOUHEGAN BOYS TENNIS.
Sure, not on everyone’s mind but when you can consider what Lapsley did over the years, he finally got Souhegan a team championship, beating rival Hollis Brookline in the heat in Bedford, and then won a great singles match for the state singles title 10 days later over Bedford’s Rohitt Yerram. He just missed out on the trifecta in the the doubles tourney.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Merrimack’s Mickey Gasper gets drafted and signed by the Yankees, advancing up a level during the summer; another Merrimack alum, Tim Schaller, leaves the Bruins to sign with Vancouver as a free agent; Bishop Guertin wins a stunning girls lacrosse title; Souhegan girls edge Milford for the Division II girls indoor track crown, Bishop Guertin’s Cameryn Nichols wins her third gymnastics crown in four years, Campbell takes the Division III outdoor track crown, Bryce Zimmerman wins Division I boys golf title, and so many more. Sure, we’ve probably left a lot out, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t important. It means that 2018 was quite a year to remember, as we’re sure 2019 will be.
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, firstname.lastname@example.org., or @Telegraph_TomK.