New Hampshire Football Report

Merrimack Valley turns to Raycraft

The Merrimack Valley football program will have plenty of experience on the sideline this fall.

Joe Raycraft, who guided the Merrimack High School football program to its only state championship — a 27-13 victory over Londonderry in the 1987 Division II championship game — was hired last week as the school’s head coach.

Raycraft, 71, is a Penacook resident and lives about one mile from Merrimack Valley’s football field.

“It’s not going to be a 10- or 15-year stint, but hopefully we can get the program going in the right direction,” Raycraft said. “If I didn’t feel I had the energy to do it I wouldn’t have applied.”

Raycraft played baseball and basketball at Southern New Hampshire University and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003. He has a lengthy NHIAA resume that includes time as the varsity football coach at Bishop Brady High School in Concord.

Raycraft has also coached varsity softball, varsity girls basketball and served as Merrimack’s athletic director as well as the athletic director for the city of Manchester. In addition, he has served as an assistant coach at numerous schools in a variety of sports, and is currently working as an assistant with the Merrimack Valley softball program.

Raycraft’s son, Bill, is the head football coach and athletic director at Windham High School. Raycraft has helped out the Windham staff in recent years, mostly scouting and working with QBs, and last year he was the head coach at Merrimack Valley Middle School.

Merrimack Valley hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since 2014.

“When I left Bishop Brady to go to Merrimack it was a challenge because they were just starting a program (at Merrimack),” Raycraft said. “I didn’t hesitate to apply for this job because it was a challenge.

“It’s a good football situation. There’s a great facility here, I have great assistants and there’s good support in the community.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login