New Hampshire Football Report

Shrine teams report Sunday

Shrine logoIf New Hampshire fails to win the 63rd Annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl it won’t be from a lack of preparation.

Even though New Hampshire and Vermont won’t begin formal practices until Sunday, New Hampshire coach Justin Leonard has been guiding his team in 7-on-7 competition this summer.

“Obviously not everyone shows up, but I still like the bonding aspect of it,” Leonard said. “The guys on my staff who have coached in this game before told me it took a day, a day and a half for the kids to really get comfortable with one another (at Shrine camp). The goal was to get the kids to know each other before camp starts. We’re practicing how to practice, so we can hit the ground running.”

This year’s game will be played Aug. 6 at Castleton State University (5:30 p.m.). New Hampshire extended its winning streak to 15 games by posting a 27-12 triumph last summer, and leads the series 47-13-2.

Leonard resigned as Epping/Newmarket’s head coach following the 2015 season to become the head coach at Kingswood Regional. Fair Haven coach Brian Grady guide the Vermont team. Grady also served as Vermont’s head coach in 2000, the last time the Green Mountain State prevailed in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl.

Grady said he selected his team after scouting Vermont’s North/South All-Star Game.

“I was looking for two things,” Grady said. “Playing ability, and how well did they compete. Regardless of the score I wanted to see what kind of effort the kids were giving. I kind of targeted those two things.”

The New Hampshire roster took a hit when St. Thomas Aquinas receiver Liam Middleton had to pull out of the game because of a commitment to the Coast Guard Academy. Middleton has been replaced by Winnisquam’s Cody Varney.

Stephen Hedberg (St. Thomas), Ian Curtain (Merrimack Valley) and Mike Mancini (Souhegan) are the three quarterbacks on the New Hampshire roster.

“We’re fast all over the field as it pertains to the skill positions,” Leonard said. “I haven’t seen the offensive line in person, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a weak point. I think we’ll be more than fine there.”

Leonard said six of the running backs he selected chose to play in the CHaD East/West All-Star Game. Blake Barbin (Spaulding), Nick Brothers (Inter-Lakes) and Riley Antle (Kearsarge) are among the running backs on the New Hampshire roster.

“It’ll be running back by committee,” Leonard said. “We looking forward to August 6th. We’re ready to be the bad guy.”


Tickets for this year’s game are $12 if purchased in advance and $15 on game day. More information about the game can be found at the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl web site.

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