New Hampshire Football Report

Redhawks reach varsity status

The Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton football co-op will enter the varsity ranks this season.

HDHopkintonHD/Hopkinton spent the last two seasons as a “pilot” program at the junior varsity level, but will compete in Division II in 2016. The program’s petition to be placed in Division III was rejected by the NHIAA.

“If everybody on our roster who is eligible to come back does return we’ll have 29 on our roster, plus any new players,” HD/Hopkinton coach Jay Wood said. “In terms of fielding a Division II team at the varsity level we are low on numbers, but we do have some talent.”

The Redhawks posted a 14-1 record during their two JV seasons, including a 7-0 record last fall.

The program stems from a club team that was formed in 2007. The club team donated its uniforms and equipment when HD/Hopkinton was sanctioned as a JV team in 2014. Wood, who is also the athletic director at Hillsboro-Deering, said the program has benefited from donations made by the New England Patriots. According to Wood, those donations included jerseys, pants and cleats.

“We are completely booster funded,” Wood said. “The boosters are a strong bunch, and they’re getting stronger.”

The team practices in Hillsboro, but will play its home games at Hopkinton’s Houston Field.

Wood said of the 29 players eligible to return from last year’s roster, 17 attend Hopkinton High School and 12 attend Hillsboro-Deering.

“This is the first time Hopkinton has had more kids,” he said. “The combined enrollment of the two schools is 656, and the cutoff (to play in Division III) is 590.”

Wood has a lengthy coaching resume, which includes a four-year stint as the head coach at Lawrence (Mass.) High School. He also served as an assistant coach at UMass-Lowell before that program was eliminated.

The Redhawks 2016 schedule includes home games against Bow, Hollis/Brookline, St. Thomas and Souhegan; and road games against Manchester West, Windham, Trinity, Pelham and Sanborn.

“The kids are definitely looking forward to the varsity move,” Wood said. “That’s what they’ve worked for. We came in as a pilot, so if we didn’t have some success we wouldn’t even be here.”


Follow Roger Brown on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.

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