New Hampshire Football Report

Fear the Cougars

Division III 
2017 Preview

North Conference: Fall Mountain, Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough, Kearsarge, Mascoma, Monadnock, Newfound, Newport and Stevens.

South Conference: Bishop Brady, Campbell, Epping/Newmarket, Farmington/Nute, Franklin, Raymond, Somersworth and Winnisquam.

2016 Division III champion: Stevens. The Cardinals won the program’s first state championship since 1968 by beating Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough 46-20 in the Division IIL championship game.

Top storyline: Can I-L/M end its season with a playoff victory? The Lakers have reached the last two Division III championship games, but left the University of New Hampshire disappointed each time. I-L/M could be in the hunt for the title again this season.

Player to Watch: Campbell running back Ryan Yanuszewski, who rushed for 1,103 yards last season, will be running behind an offensive line that features five returning starters. “The O line is all back and that’s probably the strength of the team,” Campbell coach Greg Gush said. “(Yanuszewski) proved himself durable last season. He’s in great shape and seems faster than he was last year. We’re not a team that’s going to spread you all over the place. We’ll try to jam it down your throat.”

Key game: Campbell at Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (Sept. 9). These teams could meet in the Division III championship game.

Noteworthy: The biggest offseason change in Division III was the decision to scrap the division’s playoff format. Instead of four teams from each conference (North and South) qualifying, the top team from each conference will receive an automatic berth and those two teams will be the top two seeds in the playoffs. The six other teams will be selected based on the football point-rating system  regardless of conference. “I’m sure there will be some years where a fourth-place team doesn’t make it, but you want the best teams playing in November, right?” Gush said. … Stevens suffered some major losses from last year’s team. Running back Richard Bell (955 yards rushing, 19 touchdowns) and wide receiver Parker Smith (1,294 yards rushing, 15 TDs) both graduated. In addition, quarterback Henri Bourque opted to leave Stevens for a prep school. Bourque completed 125 passes for 2,010 yards and 20 TDs as a sophomore last season. “We have most of our linemen back, but we’ll have some growing pains at the skill positions,” Stevens coach Paul Silva said. … Campbell returns nine starters on each side of the ball from a team that went 6-2 during the regular season before losing to Stevens in the quarterfinals. On paper, the Cougars look like the best team in Division III South. Somersworth and Winnisquam are two other teams from the South that could contend for a playoff spot. … Franklin (Jeff Davis), Raymond (Tona McCarthy), Fall Mountain (Orion Binney) and Monadnock (Ryan Avery) have first-year head coaches. … Kearsarge returns 14 starters (seven on offense and seven on defense) from a team that won five games last season. … Running back Chris Bashaw is the only senior on Fall Mountain’s 31-player roster, which includes five juniors and 25 freshmen and sophomores. … Newport figures to be among the favorites in Division III North. Monadnock and  I-L/M also look like potential playoff teams from the North.

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