New Hampshire Football Report

UNH set for scrimmage

DURHAM – Preseason camp and the time for full-scale evaluation is nearing an end.

The University of New Hampshire football team takes to Wildcat Stadium on Tuesday at noon for the annual Blue-White scrimmage that brings camp to a close.

The Wildcats will then quickly turn to preparation for their 2017 opener against bitter rival Maine in the “Thursday Night Throwdown” – scheduled for Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. — in Wildcat Stadium.

“It’s a huge day to find out how much some of the kids have progressed from last Monday when we scrimmaged at night, seeing how they’re doing,” UNH head coach Sean McDonnell said. “Still a lot of positions that need to be solidified.”

Finding a backup to starting quarterback Trevor Knight, a junior out of Amherst, remains a top priority for McDonnell and his staff. The candidates are sophomore Ivan Niyomugabo and redshirt freshmen Christian Lupoli and Will Pollard.

“Those three guys are battling for the position,” McDonnell said. “It’s a work in progress with them. Ivan had a great start to camp. Lupoli’s shoulder was a little tweaked and he wasn’t playing. Now he’s been playing a little bit. And Will Pollard every day seems to be getting better. So you’ve got three guys there and the last couple of practices and this scrimmage are going to be huge for them.”

On defense, junior Jared Kuehl and sophomore Quinlen Dean have grabbed starting spots at linebacker and again a focus has been on finding backups to them.

Sophomore Michael Balsamo started at safety as a redshirt freshman last year and has been moved to linebacker – he’s put on about 10 pounds and is 6-foot, 216 pounds. Sophomore Cameron Brusko and Steven Harper are also in the mix.

“I think Balsamo’s solidified himself as the No. 3 guy in there,” McDonnell said. “I feel really comfortable with him, Kuehl and Dean. Then you’ve got Brusko and Harper, who have been playing pretty well and figuring out what they’re doing there.”

The competition has been tough at tight end with sophomores John DiCaro, Justin Malone-Woods and Brendan Hill, junior Nick Derocher and redshirt freshman Jack Cavallaro.

“John DiCaro’s had a heckuva camp, done a really good job,” McDonnell said. “You have Justin Malone-Woods. We’ve got Derocher. We’ve got Torrey. We’ve got Hill and Cavallaro. We’ve got kids who can play so I feel good about that.”

Jake Kennedy at center and Will McInerny at right tackle are the seniors expected to start on the offensive line. They’re joined by junior Dayne Herron at left tackle, sophomore Nick Velte at right guard and redshirt freshman Jack Carroll at left guard.

Redshirt freshman Matt Mascia, sophomore Matt Matulis and sophomore Noah Robison are among the offensive linemen vying for time.

“Back at the offensive line, the great thing is we’ve got Velte healthy now,” McDonnell said. “You’ve got Mascia, you’ve got Matulis, you’ve got Robison. You’ve got three or four guys who can push some starters and go on from there. We’ve got to find out where that’s going.”

Soon, they’ll find out where it’s all going.

After Tuesday, the focus turns to Maine and the regular season.

The Wildcats finished 8-5 overall and were 6-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association last season. They played in the FCS tournament for the 13th straight season, which is the best such streak in the nation.

UNH hits the road for a couple of games after the opener. The team plays at Georgia Southern, an FBS school, on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. and is at Holy Cross on Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.

The Wildcats return home to play Rhode Island for Homecoming on Sept. 23 at 3:30 p.m. and face Bryant at home Sept. 30 at 6 p.m.


Allen Lessels is the UNH Insider. Follow him on Twitter: @UNHInsider.



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