New Hampshire Football Report

Yukica Profile: Braden McDonnell

NOTE: The 2020 Joe Yukica New Hampshire Chapter of the National Football Foundation Scholar/Athlete banquet was cancelled this year because of COVID-19. Each Scholar/Athlete will be recognized with a commemorative program, a plaque and a personal profile that will appear in the program, on the New Hampshire Football Report, the Joe Yukica/New Hampshire Chapter web site ( and the Joe Yukica/New Hampshire Chapter Facebook page. This is one in a series of 39 profiles. Once published, each profile can be accessed by clicking on the athlete’s name at the bottom of the page.

Nashua South

You could argue that Nashua South’s Braden McDonnell was one of the most underrated high school football players in the state last season. Such is the life of an offensive lineman.

McDonnell was a three-year starter at center for the Purple Panthers. He was also a standout at defensive end.

Nashua South coach Scott Knight said McDonnell isn’t someone who seeks the limelight for his performance on the field or in school, where he was an Honor Roll student throughout his high school years.

“Most unassuming kid you’ll ever meet,” Knight said. “Doesn’t say a whole lot, but every now and then he’ll say something funny. Good sense of humor. A lot of people don’t watch linemen play, but what he did for us — he was good. Really good.

“He’s probably 6-feet, 220 (pounds),  and it’s a solid 220. He’s a kid who’s put together real well. He worked really hard and anchored our offensive line the last couple years. Just a real rugged kid. Good player.”

McDonnell, who also played varsity baseball for South, is one of 39 NHIAA football players who received the 2020 Scholar/Athlete Award presented by the Joe Yukica New Hampshire Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

“Braden is unique because he strives to be the best he can both in sports and in the classroom,” Nashua South baseball coach James Gaj said. “The classroom is where Braden impressed me the most.”

McDonnell was a two-year captain for South in football, was selected to receive the Coach’s Award following his senior season and was chosen to play for the West in the CHaD New Hampshire East/West All-Star Game. He was also a Division I West First Team All-Conference selection in his junior and senior seasons.

McDonnell was ranked 35th in a class of 500 at the time of his nomination for the Yukica Scholar/Athlete Award. In addtiion to playing center for three years, he started some games at linebacker as a sophomore, was a full-time starter at that position as a junior and moved to the defensive line last season.

“Outstanding player for us on both sides of the ball,” Knight said. “Moved to the defensive line out of necessity this past year. Changed positions … no problem. Just a good kid. Always willing to do what it takes to help the team. Probably one of our best defensive linemen I would say.” 

“Just a super smart kid who does all the right things. He just does his work. Same thing in the weight room. He comes in, does what he’s supposed to do and gets out. Never misses a day. That’s who he is.

“Works hard on and off the field in sports and academics. He’s all business.”

Q and A with Braden McDonnell

Q: Please describe the most memorable moment of your high school football career. 

A: The most memorable moment of my high school football career was winning my first varsity game during my sophomore year against Merrimack. It was a tight game that came down to the last second.

Q: Tell us about someone who has had a significant influence on your life.

A: My dad is someone who had a significant influence on me because he got me into playing football when I was younger and always coached my youth teams.

Q: What is your favorite subject in school and why?

A: My favorite subject in school is social studies because you’re learning about why the world is the way it is today and how it happened.

Q: What life lessons have you learned from football? 

A: The life lessons that I have learned from football are the importance of perseverance, commitment and accountability.

Q: What is your dream job? 

A: My dream job is to own my own business. 


2020 Scholar/Athletes: Keith Albergo (Winnacunnet), Thatcher Allen (Exeter), Cole Ames (Lebanon), Mason Belsky (Windham), Patrick Brust (Bishop Brady)Jaedon Cliche (Exeter), Riley Desmarais (Windham), Bobby DiCicco (Windham), Jared Dyer (Merrimack), Casey Gladu (Portsmouth), Owen Gormley (Salem), Jack Grogan (Bedford), Steven Guerette (Bow)Evan Haskins (Pelham), Samson Hodges (Milford), Ethan Holt (Bishop Guertin), Jack Jones (Bedford), Charlie Kneissl-Williams (Bedford), Hunter Lassard (St. Thomas), Joseph Lupo (Bishop Guertin), Jake MacInnis (Pinkerton), Braden McDonnell (Nashua South), Will MacLean (St. Thomas), Hayden Moses (Bishop Guertin), Riley Mulvey (Salem), Kyle O’Connor (Nashua South), Nolan Pafford (Portsmouth), Wade Rainey (Lebanon), Ismael Rivera (Bishop Brady), Oceanne Skoog (Newfound), Caleb Smith (Lebanon), Rolando Sylvain-Stott (Newfound), John Thibault (Trinity), Zach Twardosky (Merrimack), Gavin Urda (Milford), Carter Vedrani (Campbell), Jacob Wenger (Trinity), Jon Willeman (Lebanon) and Devin Wood (Merrimack).

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