NHsportspage 2017 Player and coaches of the Year plus our ballots with comments
Division I Player of the Year: Josh Sibanda of Salem
Division I Coach of the Year: Ron Auffant of Winnacunnet (Unanimous)
Division II Player of the Year: Garrett Macomber of Plymouth (Unanimous)
Division II Coach of the Year: Chris Sanborn of Plymouth
Division III Player of the Year: Chandler Matson of Monadnock
Division III Coach of the Year: Greg Gush of Campbell
Division I Player of the Year
1.Josh Sibanda of Salem
2. Sean Holland of Nashua South
3. Andrew Duval of Goffstown
Comment: I’m not crazy about the idea of giving the Player of the Year to someone who missed 33% of the regular season with an injury but Sibanda was the most dominant offensive player in the state. He won the rushing title with 1,121 yards rushing despite missing those three games and he averaged a Bo Jackson Tecmo Bowl like 15.6 yards per carry on the season.
Holland is second because of all he did for that Panther offense with his arm & legs while Duval, who is going to have a great career at the next level, was a player constantly coming up when I spoke to Division I coaches. Ty Hicks of Pinkerton deserves mention, as does Alex Hawkom of Central, John Cantwell of Dover and Jeff Wiedenfeld of Londonderry.
Winnacunnet was easily the best team in the division but they won with a bunch of playmakers and a phenomenal defense.
Division I Coach of the Year
1. Ron Auffant of Winnacunnet
2. Rob Pike of Salem
3. Justin Hufft of Goffstown
Comment: This is as easy as any award we’ll hand out in this column. We knew Winnacunnet was going to be good (I picked them to make the playoffs in our Division I preview) but they were beyond good. The Warriors were terrific on defense, executed their veer/triple option offense flawlessly at times and went undefeated against a very tough schedule; beating Goffstown & Bedford twice.
We’ll wonder ‘what if’ for a long time about Salem. What is Josh Sibanda had played in the semifinals against Pinkerton?
Division II Player of the Year
1.Garrett Macomber of Plymouth
2.Tim Bouchard of St Thomas
3.Matt Simco of Hollis-Brookline & Jack Corriveau of Bow
Comment: When you’re the champ (Macomber was our 2016 POY) someone has to take the belt away from you and after Plymouth’s run through Division II Macomber retains the belt. His regular season statistics (606 YDS, 10 TDs and a gaudy 9.2 yards per carry) don’t blow you away but that’s simply because Plymouth decided to go for the sportsmanship award in addition to a second straight Division II title.
Macomber, Nolan Farina & a host of all-state and future CHaD performers rarely played in the fourth quarter. This award goes to the most valuable player and for a second straight year that’s Garrett Macomber. Tim Bouchard is outstanding and has been for years (I hear he is on UNH’s radar and he should be) and Jack Corriveau (huge second half of the year), as well as Matt Simco, deserve consideration. All four were outstanding in a very fun Division II campaign.
PS: Find a spot on the CHaD roster for Chris Hanna of Sanborn….the kid is a player.
Division II Coach of the Year
1.Chris Sanborn of Plymouth
2. Robin Bowkett of Souhegan
3.Tom Babaian of Pelham
Comment: It’s really hard to repeat as champions, especially in a division with 21 teams, Chris Sanborn and his staff did a terrific job again. Souhegan snuck up on a lot of us (guilty) and Robin Bowkett, a young, innovative and energetic head coach, was a big part of that. Veteran head coach Tom Babaian did a terrific job with the Pythons, tossing shutouts for most of the month of October.
PS: I might be getting a little bit of money for Christmas…who do I have to pay off to get Gilford back in Division III? I’ll steal McIsaac’s checkbook if I have to….let’s talk numbers.
Division III Player of the Year
1.Chandler Matson of Monadnock
2.Keegan Mills of Campbell
3.John Thibault of Newport
Comment: This was the hardest of any of the six categories. Mills and Ryan Yanuszewski are sort of like deciding if Leo DiCaprio or Matt Damon was better in ‘The Departed’. They both were huge for the champs. Thibault is one of the most exciting players in the state and only a junior next season, but he was bottled up in two meetings with Monadnock. Ray Mills of Somersworth deserves mention here as do Tim Hart of Monadnock and Keaghan McAllister of Stevens.
Matson is the pick because of the effect he has on the game on both sides of the ball. He was terrific in the Division III title game (the best game of the day) and was invaluable to Ryan Avery and very good Huskies coaching staff.
Division III Coach of the Year
1.Ryan Avery of Monadnock
2.Paul Silva of Stevens
3.Greg Gush of Campbell
Comment: The Monadnock roster had nearly a complete turn-over after a terrific senior class graduated last June. Avery and his staff were smart enough to groom their underclassman last year so that Monadnock never missed a beat. In Avery’s first year he helped guide his team 20 yards from a state title, in a re-configured Division III Monadnock will be in the mix every year because of the program they have built-in Swanzey.
Pick against Stevens in the playoffs at your own peril. My trip with The Great Jon Kesty to Claremont for Stevens/Newport was one of my favorite experiences this season. We’ll be back next year!
D1 Player of the Year
1. Josh Sibanda-Salem...it's crazy to think what might have been for Salem & Sibanda had he actually been available for the entire season. The speedy running back missed 3 regular season games & the semifinal playoff game vs Pinkerton, but still managed to rush for 1109 yards & score 17 total TDs in only 6 games played for a Blue Devils team that put up a whopping 429 points on the year, the 2nd most in school history.
2. Andrew Duval-Goffstown...the Grizzlies senior capped off a great career in Goffstown that saw him win a Championship as a sophomore and become one of the best 2-way players in New Hampshire. Ask any coach that played against him this year and you can bet they will name him as the guy they feared the most.
3. Ty Hicks-Pinkerton...the senior RB was a touchdown waiting to happen, and even with limited touches because of a stacked backfield at Pinkerton, Hicks reached the end zone 20 times. Late in the season, the Astros started throwing him the ball football which made things even tougher for opposing defenses.
D1 Coach of the Year
1. Ron Auffant-Winnacunnet...not many people saw his Warriors as a serious contender coming into the season, but they came out of nowhere and blitzed through the entire division on their way to an undefeated State Championship. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy and a lot of people are very happy for him!
2. Rob Pike-Salem...the Blue Devils coach had his share of adversity to overcome this season, but there was no shortage of talent in Salem as they advanced to the D1 Final Four where, without their best player, they lost to Pinkerton in a game that was closer than the 45-28 final score would indicate.
3. Bill Ball-Exeter...the man with the stadium named after him made the coaching move of the year in the semifinals against Goffstown when realizing they probably couldn't run the ball in the 2nd half with their top RB out with an injury, he did the unthinkable(for Exeter) and let his QB Cody Morissette sling it 25 times and almost came away with a victory.
D2 Player of the Year
1. Garrett Macomber...it was almost like they tried to limit his carries in his senior season after he basically carried the load for the Bobcats over the last 2 years. He didn't have eye-popping numbers during the regular season...but when it mattered most in the playoffs, he ran for 440 yards and 5 TDs in the 3 games leading Plymouth to a 2nd straight Championship.
2. Tim Bouchard-St Thomas...this kid is very similar to Andrew Duval from Goffstown, an absolute stud on both sides of the football who opposing coaches are always worried about. He finished with just under 1500 yards rushing/receiving on the season with 16 total TD for the Saints.
3. Sander Wimmer-Hollis-Brookline...the sophomore QB wasn't even the starter on Opening Day, but he was thrust into action after an injury to Joey Delaney in Week 1 and ended up throwing for 2,413 yards and 26 TDs.
D2 Coach of the Year
1. Paul Cohen-Bow...after a very successful 1st year in Division 2 last season that saw the Falcons make it to the Championship Game, Cohen had Bow back at UNH this year...as the 8th seed! They shocked previously Windham in the 1st round of the playoffs and then took out another unbeaten in Hanover in the semifinals before succumbing to Plymouth on Saturday.
2. Chris Sanborn-Plymouth...everyone knew they had a loaded team this year and back to back Championships in Plymouth are not out of the ordinary, but to do it after some "down" years(for Plymouth standards) following the retirement of legendary coach Chuck Lenahan truly shows how great a coach Sanborn is.
3. Ryan Brown-St Thomas...the Saints may have been the 2nd best team in the Division, losing only to Windham in the regular season and Plymouth in the semifinals, and they kept both games a lot closer than most teams did against those teams. Brown also replaced a very good coach in Eric Cumba who stepped down at STA prior to the season.
D3 Player of the Year
1. Chandler Matson-Monadnock...the junior running back for the Huskies was part of a dynamic duo at Monadnock with Tim Hart, but it was Matson that the opposition was most concerned about on offense & defense.
2. Keegan Mills-Campbell...another super talented sophomore, the Cougars 2-way player makes punishing opposing ball carriers on defense a priority and then hands out more hits going the other way on offense as a running back who went over 1000 yards rushing this season. Mills scored the game-winning TD for Campbell on Saturday taking a direct snap out of the shotgun and racing 33 yards to paydirt.
3. John Thibault-Newport...speaking of super sophs, Newport has a good one in John Thibault who amassed over 1300 yards rushing with 24 TDs.
D3 Coach of the Year
1. Greg Gush-Campbell...Gush picked up his 2nd State Championship in 4 years...and it was his switch to the spread offense in the 4th quarter of title game vs Monadnock that opened up the offense and allowed his team to score the game-winning TD.
2. Ryan Avery-Monadnock...another 1st-year head coach that did a tremendous job taking over a perennial power program and didn't miss a beat. Watch out for the Huskies again next year as they return a bunch of good players including Matson, Hart & QB Tim Santaw.
3. Paul Silva-Stevens...with all the graduation losses from last year's Championship Cardinals team and then the transfer of their thought-to-be-returning starting QB before the season, Silva somehow coached his team back into the Final 4 in D3.
Division I Player of the Year:
1.Ty Hicks of Pinkerton
2.Alex Hawkom of Central
3.Josh Sibanda of Salem
Comment: Not gonna lie, this award probably should be Sibanda's, but getting yourself removed from a playoff game should mean something. Hicks and Hawkom both had outstanding years, but Pinkerton's push to the title game gives him the edge.
Division II Player of the Year:
1.Garrett Macomber of Plymouth
2. Tim Bouchard of STA
3.Jack Corriveau of Bow
Comment: Macomber is such a beast on a loaded team, I wanted to give this to Bouchard because of my rampant seacoast homerism but if there was a D2 Draft I think Macomber goes first.
Division III Player of the Year:
1. Keegan Mills of Campbell
2. John Thibeault of Newport
3. Ryan Yanuszweski of Campbell
Comment: Yanuszweski had better regular season numbers than Mills, but Mills had a monster playoff run - Newport really rode Thibeault this season, a terrific campaign from him.
Division I Coach of the Year:
1.Ron Auffaunt of Winnacunnet
2.Justin Huft of Goffstown
3.Brian O'Reilly of Pinkerton
Comment: When you go unbeaten and win the title, I give you the coach of the year award - especially when your school only has 1100 kids to draw from. Goffstown only lost to Winnacunnet this year, and Coach O'Reilly got his squad to Durham perhaps a year early
Division II Coach of the Year:
1. Chris Sanborn of Plymouth
2. Paul Cohen of Bow
3. Ryan Brown of Saint Thomas
Comment: Back to back titles for Coach Sanborn, another great run from Bow knocking off two unbeaten teams on the road, Coach Brown did an excellent job stepping in after Eric Cumba departed
Division III coach of the Year:
1. Greg Gush of Campbell
2.Ryan Avery of Monadnock
3.Dan Hodsdon of Somersworth
Comment: A dominant run from Greg Gush ending with a classic win in the finals, there's no shame in coming up 4 points short of a title in year 1 for Coach Avery, if you knew the things Coach Hodsdon dealt with every year, he'd win this award outright every season