New Hampshire Football Report

Yukica Profile: Nolan Pafford

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.

Portsmouth High School

Portsmouth High School guard/defensive end Nolan Pafford stands out among the 39 recipients of the 2020 Joe Yukica New Hampshire Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar/Athlete Award for this reason: He’s the only member of this year’s Scholar/Athlete class who played high school football for his father.

“I wouldn’t say it was hard coaching him because you think I’d get some back talk being his dad and there wasn’t any of that,” Portsmouth coach Brian Pafford said. “But there were times when I was way harder on him because I knew he could take it. And beyond that I didn’t want anyone to think he was getting any special privileges. He took it all in stride.”

Nolan was a two-time Division I East All-Conference selection in football, and also participated in lacrosse and track and field (winter and spring) during his high school career. He earned 12 varsity letters. 

As a goaltender in lacrosse, he helped the Clippers finish as the Division II runner-up to Derryfield 

as a sophomore. Portsmouth lost to Winnacunnet in the Division II semifinals during his junior year.

“He’s slightly dyslexic,” Brian said. “He knows he has to work harder to get decent grades. (Academics) is probably where I’m the most proud of him. He’s not the scholar that some of the other kids are who got this award, but every grade that he has he’s worked for it. That’s where I was the most pleased with him — his work ethic in the classroom.”

Nolan is a member of the National Technical Honor Society and plans to enter the Air Force later this year.

“He wants to go in and get the GI Bill, and while he’s in he’ll get his associates degree in engineering,” Brian said. “He’s 6-foot-2 and he can’t weigh more than 204, so he’s lost about 20 pounds and he has about 12 more to go.” 

Portsmouth High School culinary arts instructor Beth Brown wrote the following about Nolan in support of his nomination for the Scholar/Athlete Award:  

“Nolan has demonstrated great commitment by practicing for and participating in the culinary competition team for two consecutive years. He has spent many hours volunteering for culinary events both before and after school, including superintendent breakfasts, career technical education award banquets and school board dinners. … Nolan is a positive role model who is constantly offering guidance to underclass students in the kitchen and classroom.”

Nolan also maximized his ability as a football player, his father said.

“He wasn’t the hardest worker in the offseason because he loves lacrosse, but he did pretty much everything you asked him to do,” Brian said. “He ran with the linemen all summer on the beach, and he would watch film with me and then go watch more. As far as football preparation he was really good, and he probably got the most out of his ability on the field. 

“He’s not the athlete that some of the kids we’ve had, but he worked hard to become a decent football player.”

Q and A with Nolan Pafford

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

A: My most memorable moment from football was going to summer workouts. Whether it was going to run on the beach or summer 7-on-7s, I would always be the first one there.

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

A: My significant influence would be my coach, Keith McFarland. I have been playing for him since seventh grade. He is one of my favorites coaches I have ever played for. It breaks my heart I will never play for him again.

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

A: I love physics. I love it because it comes kind of naturally to me.

Q: What life lessons have you learned from football? 

A: Football has taught me how to be mentally tough and that I can do anything I set my mind to.

Q: What is your dream job?

A: I want to be an aerospace engineer at SpaceX in California. 


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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