SHS Footballers Face New Schedule
Cardinals Open Season Against Epping
Are you ready for some football?
Yup! It's here. Football season, that is.
Equipment issue for the Stevens football team takes place Thursday and Friday of this week with double session tryouts scheduled for the following Monday. Those sessions will take place at Monadnock Park at 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
So, what can we expect from the 2018 Stevens Cardinals high school team this year? Another playoff season? Perhaps, but if that is to come to fruition, head coach Paul Silva just might have to come up with a few tricks up his sleeve. You see, he won't be able to focus on the same teams he has been playing the past few seasons.
The Cardinals will play nine games this year. There will be no bye week, as has been prominent in the past.
Stevens will open its season August 31 at home playing against Epping. New teams on the schedule include Laconia, Lebanon, Hopkinson-Hillsboro, and Trinity, a Catholic school out of Manchester. Tough trekking for the Redbirds will include a Friday night game on the road at Somersworth and a two-game stretch that has the Cardinals playing Lebanon and Laconia back to back on the road.
“We will do as we always do and prepare for the team we play that week,” reported Coach Silva in an e-mail correspondence.
Silva, who had absolutely no say in putting the schedule together, knows he has a huge task in front of him.
“In Division III, if you start allowing yourself to look at this team, or that team, and saying anything like it should be an easy week, you will find yourself in big trouble,” the Stevens coach cautioned. “With the teams and coaches we are going up against, you better be well prepared or it will be a long game. We will watch film on each opponent and put together a game plan we think will give us the best chance to try and win the game.”
Laconia and Lebanon are said to be strong teams, according to Silva, but the strength of the schedule doesn't stop there. “We also have to play Newport in week two, always a difficult opponent, as Kearsarge will be, and we haven't seen Hopkinson-Hillsboro or Trinity, so we will have to watch a lot of film to be ready for them.”
Silva, fresh off a weekend that saw two Stevens players participate in the annual Shrine classic, a 23-14 win by Vermont over New Hampshire, takes extreme pride in his grid program and its players at the Claremont school.
“I enjoy seeing young players develop into great young men and I get my satisfaction seeing them rewarded for their hard work with a big win, or a well-played game,” he stated in his e-mail report. “I have had great pleasure to see Stevens' players in the past, and this year, Aidan Cahill and Nick Stone, get to represent their school, team, and community in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl Game, while raising money for such a great cause. That is very rewarding. We have had some success in recent years because of some great coaches and players that I am very fortunate to get to work with on a daily basis during the season. They work very hard for what they have gotten.”
Silva is fortunate he is not losing any of his coaching staff entering the 2018 season. “Eric Anderson, who I really rely on a great deal and who runs my defense, will be back, as will Matt Bean, who is great to have on the staff and does a great job with the younger linemen and the JV defense, and Pete Lynch, who came on board last year, and calls the offense for the JV's and works the tower on varsity game days, will also be returning and I am very fortunate to have these coaches,” Coach Silva lauded.
In addition, it is believed former player and Shrine participant Logan Batchelder will return as a volunteer assistant.
To be sure, it should be a very interesting fall on the turf at Barnes Park this season. “Our goal every season is try and win enough games to get into the playoffs,” Silva said. “If you can get in, you have a chance. That goal won't change. We will need to replace some very good linemen, as we lost three All-State linemen, on both sides of the ball. That being said, part of the enjoyment of coaching in high school is that while it is disappointing to lose players, they graduate and get to go on to the next chapter in their lives, and I am happy for them. The younger players then get their opportunity to start and develop just as those who graduated had their chance. It really is a cycle, and very rewarding when you see those younger players get their chance to start and play regularly. I am hoping that we can find those players and be competitive each and every week.”
(H) 8/31 7:00 p.m. vs. Epping Barnes Park
(A) 9/8 1:30 p.m. at Newport
(H) 9/14 7:00 p.m. vs Interlakes Barnes Park
(A) 9/21 7:00 p.m. at Somersworth
(H) 9/28 7:00 p.m. vs Kearsarge Barnes Park
(A) 10/5 7:00 p.m. at Laconia
(A) 10/13 6:00 p.m. at Lebanon
(H) 10/19 7:00 p.m. Trinity Barnes Park
(A) 10/27 1:00 p.m. at Hillsboro-Hopkinson