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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Plenty of changes as high school season get underway

Joe Marchilena

Is it really time to start talking about the fall sports season?

Didn’t we just put the spring season to bed, like, two weeks ago? ...

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Is it really time to start talking about the fall sports season?

Didn’t we just put the spring season to bed, like, two weeks ago?

No, I guess it really only just feels like it was two weeks, after a summer dominated by baseball leagues and football all-star games.

So are you ready for high school football? And also golf, soccer, field hockey, cross country and girls volleyball, the first of which started Wednesday and the second begins on Friday.

A lot has changed since the end of the last school year, and definitely since the end of the last fall season.

The change starts way at the top, where Jeff Collins has taken over for Patrick Corbin as the NHIAA’s executive director. The other big change was put in place before Collins took over, but could already be considered the crown jewel of the NHIAA’s sports season – Super Saturday, when all three football championships will take place on Nov. 23 at the University of New Hampshire.

Could we see championship days for other sports? Maybe. Boys soccer is currently scheduled for the same day and location – Nov. 8 at Southern New Hampshire University – and the three girls volleyball championships are tentatively scheduled for the same Saturday, all at Pinkerton Academy.

There are lots of questions to ask about how the local teams will fair, starting first with the area’s football teams, all of which will, when the season starts, have a new starting quarterback from last year at this time.

Will the Alvirne soccer teams continue their resurgence? The boys made it all the way to the Division I final, where they lost to Hanover, and return two of the best players in the state, while the girls finished in the top four in Division II, but moved back up to D-I this season.

Can the Nashua North field hockey team improve on the program’s best season? The Titans finished one spot out of the D-I playoffs last year, and have taken steps forward in each of coach Kristine Tingley’s first three seasons.

Two teams that have arguably two of the best players in the state in their respective sports will try to get over the hump after coming close the last couple of years.

At Hollis Brookline, the boys soccer team, led by senior Cole Owens, has dropped the last two D-II titles to Windham and has been to at least the final four in each of coach Rick Carvalho’s first three seasons. The Cavaliers will be young this year, but Owens just might be good enough to carry HB to another semifinal appearance. Once there, anything is possible.

At Merrimack, the girls volleyball team, with senior Jen Coffey, leading the way, has played in at least the semifinals in each of the past three seasons. Word is Coffey has improved since a year ago, when she was the Telegraph’s Player of the Year, and if the Tomahawks can put enough around here, it just might be their time.

And who will be the area’s pleasant surprises? There’s always at least one team that comes out of no where to put together a season to remember.

Just like everything else, we’ll have to wait and see which team that is.

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478 or
jmarchilena@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Marchilena on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeM).