Division I Player of the Year: Evan Cormier of Londonderry
Division II Player of the Year: Owen Brickley of Plymouth
Division III Player of the Year: Keegan Mills of Campbell & Chandler Matson of Monadnock (tie)
Division IV Player of the Year: Phil Nichols of Winnisquam
Division I Coach of the Year: Derek Stank of Bedford & Kip Jackson of Merrimack
Division II Coach of the Year: Tarek Rothe of Alvirne
Division III Coach of the Year: Ryan Avery of Monadnock
Division IV Coach of the Year: Pat Riberdy of Winnisquam
Division I Player of the Year:
My thinking: This was a hard ballot to fill out, as there are some very good players outside my Top 3 like Will Michaud (Salem), Cody Potter (Windham) and Curtis Harris (Nashua North). Cormier is the pick after a terrific season, his ability to run & throw gave the Lancers offense a double threat they’ve missed in recent seasons. Toscano was as good a linebacker as he was a running back and Gannon Fast is the Astros go-to guy when they get to the red zone.
Division II Player of the Year:
My thinking: For me Brickley was an easy pick, talking to Plymouth coaches all season long you get an appreciation of how valuable he was on both sides of the ball. DeKorne and his Tecmo football statistics was an easy second choice as well…terrific career. Jake Cole was the diesel for that John Stark rushing attack. John Lohnes (Souhegan), Steve Guerrette (Bow), Sander Wimmer (Hollis-Brookline) and Gavin Urda (Milford) are all worthy of a spot in the top 3.
Division III Player of the Year:
My thinking: I have a very hard time not giving Matson my player of the year vote for a second straight season. My reasoning…I felt like the guys around him like Lincoln Blodgett, Tim Santaw, Tim Hart & Joey Joslyn all stepped up their games this year and they were a true unit. Mills put up ridiculous offensive numbers while also being one of their leading tacklers from the linebacker spot week to week. Thibault had a terrific year for the surprise team in the division. Other very worthy candidates include Colby Quiet (HD-Hopkinton) and Wade Rainey (Lebanon).
Division I Coach of the Year:
My thinking: In my mind, after 50-plus preview calls with coaches, Merrimack was a 5-4 football team. Jackson led them to the West Conference crown and in the end, they were not better than Bedford, joining 18 other Division I teams in that distinction. Year to year Salem is as good a staff as there is in the state, Rob Pike deserves a lot of credit for the job he does. Lauzon is often brought up by his peers as one of the best young minds in the game. He’s a deserving choice as the new CHaD head coach for Team East.
Division II Coach of the Year:
My thinking: Sanborn deserves a ton of credit, along with his terrific staff that includes Tom Lamb & John Sullivan, for how the program never seems to skip a beat. The team that just won the title had a lot of new faces and to go back to back, and undefeated in doing so is very impressive. Rothe helped lead Alvirne to a season they will talk about for a long time at the school. Bowkett led the Sabers to the semifinal after a lot of us had begun to write them off.
Division III Coach of the Year:
My thinking: Terrific job by Avery and his staff. The Huskies had a dominant regular season and then had to battle from behind to beat Campbell for the title. For a new program Jay Wood has done a great job with the Red Hawks and to get that team to the semifinals was a terrific building block. Dan Hodsdon is a terrific coach and a better guy, the team that lands him as their next coach will have made a Home Run hire.
Player of the Year
Division 1 Player of the Year
1. Evan Cormier-Londonderry QB
2. Ryan Toscano-Bedford RB/LB
3. Gannon Fast-Pinkerton RB/DL
I give my Player of the Year vote to Evan Cormier of Londonderry. The senior QB drove the ship for a Londonderry team that went 8-1 during the regular season and won the toughest conference in D1. Cormier's run/pass ability helped make the Lancers a legitimate threat to win the State Championship...and that hasn't happened a lot in Londonderry over the last several years. Toscano & Fast were also worthy of Player of the Year consideration even though they didn't have huge stat lines compared to other candidates. A big reason why they don't put up fantasy-type numbers is not their fault. It's because their teams like to spread things around more on offense so Toscano & Fast didn't get nearly the same amount of touches other teams' stars get.
Division 1 Coach of the Year
1. Rob Pike-Salem
2. Jimmy Lauzon-Londonderry
3. Kip Jackson-Merrimack
I'm not sure any other coach had to deal with as many injuries to key players than Salem's Rob Pike. Pike lost Josh Maroun at the start of the season and then Dom Paci went down in the Pinkerton game. The Blue Devils kept getting bit with the injury bug, and they kept on winning, making the playoffs out of the super competitive South/East conference postseason bracket and advancing to host a D1 Final Four game. Coach Lauzon had his best year yet at Londonderry and if it wasn't for Pinkerton they would have probably been playing at UNH this past weekend. As for Kip Jackson, not many people had them pegged as a Top 4 team in D1 before the season started, but that's exactly where they ended up and Coach Jackson is the main reason why.
Division 2 Player of the Year
1. Owen Brickley-Plymouth RB/DB
2. Shawn DeKorne-St. Thomas QB
3. Gavin Urda-Milford QB/DB
Brickley gets the nod in a tight battle with DeKorne on my ballot. I went with the Plymouth playmaker Brickley because he does it on both sides of the field and led his team to the State Championship, plus Plymouth beat DeKorne's team head to head in Dover with Brickley starring. That said, DeKorne put up some crazy numbers passing for just over 3,000 yards with 29 touchdowns this season. Milford's Urda doesn't wow you with his ability to throw the ball, but he's got pretty good speed and moves when he runs with it and he's simply a winner.
Division 2 Coach of the Year
1. Tarek Rothe-Alvirne
2. Keith Jones-Milford
3. Robin Bowkett-Souhegan
Who can argue with Rothe winning this award after leading the Broncos to their 1st ever playoff wins and the 1st Championship Game appearance in program history? Just ask my runner-up pick, Milford's Keith Jones who he would pick for this award. I bet he would agree with Rothe after Alvirne took down the Spartans in back to back weeks at the end of the regular season and then in the playoffs. Some people might have thought Coach Robin Bowkett was a little wet-behind-the-ears for vowing to jump in the river if his team pulled out a win, but his team certainly responded, making it to the D2 Final Four.
Division 3 Player of the Year
1. Chandler Matson-Monadnock RB/LB
2. Tim Hart-Monadnock RB/LB
3. Keegan Mills-Campbell RB/LB
Matson & Hart were the heart & soul of the Monadnock Huskies for the last 2 years leading the team to a 23-1 overall record and 2 State Championship Game appearances, capped by the undefeated title run on Saturday. I give the nod to Matson because if you ask D3 coaches they would probably tell you they were a little more concerned with game planning around him than anybody else on the team. It's too bad Mills was injured and couldn't play in the game at UNH because if he did play things might have turned out different.
Division 3 Coach of the Year
1. Ryan Avery-Monadnock
2. Glenn Costello-Campbell
3. Rob Cathcart-Trinity
There were a number of worthy candidates in D3 this season. Guys like Chris Childs from Lebanon & Jay Wood from Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton certainly should be considered for what their teams did. But I went with Coach Avery because they were able to shake off the memories of last year's crushing title game loss and get the job done this year. Costello also deserves a lot of credit for getting Campbell back to UNH in his 1st year as head coach. As I said before in the D3 player voting if the Cougars had a healthy Keegan Mills against Monadnock things might have been different. As far as Cathcart at Trinity is concerned, just 1 year after the Pioneers couldn't field a team because of low numbers they went 7-2 in the regular season and finished with the #2 seed in the Division.
Player of the Year
Comments: This by far the hardest category for me to decide. There were about 10 athletes I could have put in here but I guess I have to pick 3. I went with Evan Cormier number 1 because he was one of the best quarterbacks I saw all season and he led his team to one of the best seasons in Londonderry history. Pinkerton always seems to have a bunch of great backs but Fast took his opportunities when they came and ended with 912 rushing yards in the regular season and 285 for the playoffs. Cody Potter won the regular season passing crown with 1424 yards just beating out my guy Ty Vitko who was also very close to being nominated by me.
Comments: They must grow runner backs on trees in Plymouth because here we are nominating another Bobcat running back for the player of the year. Brickley not only made the offense go but he also flies around the field on defense and he made a ton of great tackles last Saturday and all season. Shawn DeKorne threw for 2333 yards in the regular season and 298 in the playoffs. I say that's a pretty good year. Jake Cole was a machine when I saw him play earlier this year and that was obviously what he did all year as he had 1302 rushing yards on the season.
Comments: Matson led his team to an undefeated season and a state championship in his senior season. I don't think there is a better way to end your high school football career. Keegan Mills was once again Keegan Mills and put up monster number this season. It was a bummer he didn't get to play in the championship game but Mills is only a junior and I don't think anyone will be surprised to see Campbell at UNH again next season. Colby Quiet was the constant force for the Red Hawks offense and led his team to their first ever playoff win.
Coach of the Year
Comments: Derek Stank's team seemed to crush any opponent that came their way this season and cruised to an undefeated championship season. That program will continue to be a force in Division 1 for years to come. No, I didn't just pick Kip Jackson because they were my team this year. Jackson took a team that no one was talking about in the preseason to a Final Four. Even though Windham did not make the playoffs, what a great first season for the Jaguars with wins over Salem and Pinkerton.
Comments: Chris Sanborn found ways all season to motivate his team (including a lie about my staff picks) and it worked. Once again Plymouth Bobcats are the champs. Tarek Rothe might have suffered a few heart attacks this season but Alvirne was able to pull out a lot of close games to get to the championship. Robin Bowkett jumped in the river for this team!. How can I not nominate him??
Comments: Ryan Avery has quickly become one of the favorite coaches and his team was the best team all season. A great first season for Glen Costello. Like I said before I feel like this won't be Costello and Campbell's last trip to UNH. H-D/H's Wood took his team to new heights this year making it to the Final Four.
1. Thomas Morgan, Bedford
2. Gannon Fast, Pinkerton
3. Jaylan Pacheco, North
Pretty tight here, 26 total passing TD's between playoffs and the regular season is the difference for me. Ty Vitko, Cody Potter, Zach Miles were all worthy candidates as well
1. Shawn DeKorne, STA
2. Owen Brickley, Plymouth
3. Jake Cole, John Stark
Razor thin here as well, you could also talk me into Jaymeson Maheux of West
1. Keegan Mills, Campbell
2. Colby Quiet, Hillsborough-Deering-Hopkinton
3. Chandler Matson of Monadnock
I thought Mills was the most dominant this year, maybe the title game is different if he's healthy?
D1 COACH OF THE YEAR
1. Derek Stank, Bedford
2. Brian O'Reilly, Pinkerton
3. Rob Pike, Salem
I have a rule (which I'm going to break in D2), which is that when your team goes unbeaten and wins the title, you get Coach of The Year. Brian O'Reilly does a tremendous job every year, and Rob Pike had that Salem team running like a machine most of the year.
D2 COACH OF THE YEAR
1. Tarek Rothe, Alvirne
2. Chris Sanborn, Plymouth
3. Robin Bowkett, Souhegan
I have ANOTHER rule, which is: When you win the programs first 2 playoff games and give the 2x defending champs a heck of a championship game, you get COTY. Chris Sanborn has kept the Plymouth dynasty going, and Robin Bowkett had the Sabers hot as a pistol at the end of the year
D3 COACH OF THE YEAR
1. Ryan Avery, Monadnock
2. (Tie) Paul Silva, Stevens & Glenn Costello, Campbell
3. Dan Hodsdon, Free Agent
My unbeaten rule stands here, Paul Silva almost got that Stevens team to the finals, Coach Costello had that Cougar team playing like monsters, and Dan Hodsdon is the smartest hire you can make this off season.