Hello 2021.

To many, the best thing about 2020 was seeing it in the rearview mirror. It was a year that started out with such promise and optimism with winter sports kick off the year with a number of great games and exciting finishes. Unfortunately, one day, Friday, March 13, of all days, changed the high school sports landscape and that landscape still looks different in 2021.

2020 was a sports year we’ll never forget.

On Jan. 17, the Kennett High girls’ basketball team put the defensive clamps on high-scoring visiting Bishop Brady to win a 58-55 thriller at the Peter Ames Gymnasium.

“It was an awesome game to win,” said Larry Meader, Eagles’ head coach. “The girls executed the game plan almost to perfection, especially in the first half. Brady likes to run and shoot the first three-pointer they get. We did a great job of limiting their second and third scoring opportunities. If we had an easy fast-break we took it otherwise we tried to limit (Brady’s) possessions. To hold a team like that to just 17 points in the first half was impressive.”

Liz Cote finished with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. Sierra Parsons added 12 points; Sydnie Chin, 10; Olivia Scribner, seven; and Ella Chandler, six.

Over 90 people turned out on Jan. 20 for an exciting Unified basketball game that went right done to the wire when Kennett High hosted Kingswood in its second game of the season.

The visiting Knights came out on top with a 50-46 win in an entertaining contest, but everyone was a winner on this day, including the players, who were beaming from opening warm-ups to the final whistle and post-game pizza party for both schools; proud parents, some with tears in their eyes; faculty members cheering throughout for both teams; and the casual observer who might have just dropped by the Peter Ames Gymnasium to see what one of newest New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association's sport was all about and immediately became hooked.

It was the final game of Leah Jones’ career. The energetic, wide-smiling Leah turned 21 in December and left the nest four days later. She had a grand time on the hardwood, scoring 16 points, and with each basket, her grin got even wider.

On Jan. 23, Kennett High boys’ basketball team rallied from an 8-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Laconia in an overtime thriller 62-59 at Peter Ames Gymnasium sending fans of the hometown flock home with smiles on their face but emotionally drained.

“It’s the way they like it,” Coach Jack Loynd said following the win. “(Laughing) I don’t think anyone who knows our basketball team doesn’t know why I have high blood pressure.”

Trailing 46-38 after three quarters, the Eagles clawed their way back and drew level with 44 seconds to play when Grady Livingston calmly sank two clutch foul shots. Free throws proved to be the difference on the night, especially in overtime, knocking down all four attempts. Kennett was 14-19 from the line (73.7 percent), while Laconia shot 14-25 (56 percent). Seniors Wyatt Arriaga and Justin Olson led all scorers with 17 points apiece in the win.

On Feb. 3, the Kennett High boys’ basketball team shot the lights out against longtime rival Berlin. The Eagles made seven of a season-high 14 three-pointers in a 31-point first-quarter outburst and went on to beat the Mountaineers 70-22. Wyatt Arriaga canned four three-pointers; Justin Olson, Grady Livingston, Riley Fletcher and Nick Houghton-LaClair hit two three-pointers apiece, while Braeden Bailey and Matt Nordwick also tickled the twine from way downtown.

For years the Fryeburg Academy boys’ alpine team struggled to field enough skiers to post a team result in meets. That’s not the case anymore — the Raiders are the 2020 Western Maine Alpine team champions after a fantastic day on the slopes at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, Maine on Feb. 5. The Fryeburg boys scored 69 points to win the championship, topping runner-up Greely (104).

The Fryeburg Academy boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams hosted the Western Maine Conference Championships the first week in February. FA sophomore Alanna Nataluk had a great showing, winning the skate race, placing third in the classic and second overall in the pursuit.

In the GS, Fryeburg junior Will Marshall was fourth after the first run but turned in the fastest second run (40.36) by more than a second to win the race in 1:21.20. He was joined on the podium by fellow Raider Matthew Gunther, who was third in 1:24.15.

The season came to an end for the Kennett High boys’ and girls’ indoor track team with the boys’ 4X200-meter relay team competing in the Division II State Championships at Dartmouth College on Feb. 9. The Eagles — junior Bryce Hill, senior Jack Wheeler, senior Ben Klementovich and sophomore Jack Martin placed 10th overall out of 16 schools, finishing in 1:41.21, setting a new personal best time.

“All four guys really showed tremendous improvement — they all set PRs,” Bernie Livingston, Eagles’ head coach said. “The handoffs were outstanding. I was really happy with how well they all performed.”

After Hanover snapped Kennett High girls’ alpine team’s record-setting six-year run as champs at Pats Peak in Henniker in 2019, the hometown Eagles were all business on Feb. 10 at Cranmore Resort and took care of business, too, winning the morning GS and the afternoon slalom team events to win the championship. Kennett won the overall title with 761 points, topping Hanover, 720.

Individually, Kennett’s Ashley Garside is the state giant slalom champion, while teammate Mackenzie Carr was the runner up in GS. Skyler Sayers also had a podium finish for the hometown flock, placing third in the slalom.

Kennett High girls won their sixth consecutive Division II State Cross-Country Skiing Championship at windy Great Glen Trails in Pinkham Notch on March 4.

Individually, three Eagles landed on the podium twice during the day. Seniors Helen Badger and Grace Castonguay finished first and second in both the morning classic and afternoon freestyle (skate) races. For the boys, sophomore Theo Castonguay was third overall in both races.

“It was a great day of high school ski racing,” said Steve Vosburgh, Eagles’ head coach. “Everyone competed to the best of their abilities. I’m proud of them all.”

On March 5, Coach Jack Loynd’s cardiac kids went down to the wire again, beating the Kingswood Knights 70-66 in overtime in Wolfeboro.

“Six overtime games this season, what’s new,” Loynd said, laughing. “Kingswood is a good team. While we’re not the most physically-gifted group, what I love is that they compete. They never feel like they’re out of a game.”

Overtime seemed like a popular theme for Kennett teams during the winter. The KHS hockey team went to overtime in the Division III quarterfinals when the No. 6 seeded Eagles scored a 4-3 victory over No. 3 Hollis-Brookline-Derryfield at Conway Arena in Nashua on March 7. Senior Miles Woodbury scored 3:21 into overtime sending the hometown flock to their 11th Frozen Four in 13 years.

“This was a big win for our program and I’m really happy for this team,” Coach Michael Lane said. “They overcame a lot of adversity this winter with our injuries and they fought through it. I wouldn’t say it was puck luck, we earned this.”

Woodbury continued to have the hot hand in the playoffs when he lit the lamp four times in an 8-0 semifinal victory over ConVal-Conant at Plymouth State University Ice Arena on March 11.

A day after announcing that postseason hockey and basketball games would proceed with some attendance restrictions, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association on Friday, March 13 suspended all tournament games.

On March 20, Kennett High senior Liz Cote was named to the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Organization’s Division II All-State, Second-Team roster. She led the Eagles in scoring, assists, minutes played and was second in rebounding.

Also, on March 20, three members of the Kennett High ice hockey — seniors Connor Tofflemoyer and Miles Woodbury along with junior Bryson Wrobleski — were named to the Division III All-State Second Team.

“It’s the first time on All-State for all three of them,” said Michael Lane, Eagles’ head coach. “I’m happy for Connor, Miles and Bryson, they’re all very deserving of the honor.”

While both Berlin and Kennett High would have preferred to settle the Division III State Hockey Finals on the ice, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association announced on March 23 that due to the final game being called off, the Mountaineers and Eagles will be co-champions.

Meanwhile, the No. 7 Kennett boys’ basketball team, which had reached the Elite 8 in Division II and was scheduled to play No. 2 seed Bow in the quarterfinals on March 12, has been bestowed state runner-up honors along with five other schools (Oyster River, Hollis-Brookline, Hanover, Pelham and Lebanon). Bow and No. 1 seed ConVal, which had identical 18-1 records, were crowned co-champions.

Michael Lane, head hockey coach for Kennett High, reacted by saying, “That’s some good news amid all this chaos.

“I’m happy for our seniors. They did all they could, and to see them go out on top means a lot. No one wanted to win the championship this way. We all wanted to see the championship settled on the ice. It’s no one's fault. The NHIAA was put in a tough spot and made the best decision it felt it could."

Thirty-seven Kennett High seniors were to be among those honored April 6 at the annual New Hampshire scholar-athlete awards ceremony in Concord, but the ceremonies for Division II and IV athletes (and Division I and III on April 7) was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Maine Principal’s Association announced the cancellation of the 2020 spring athletic season in the Pine Tree State on April 9.

April 16 was a rough one for student-athletes around the Granite State. Within an hour that afternoon, they learned remote learning will continue through the remainder of this school year, and that spring sports are officially canceled.

The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Executive Director Jeffrey Collins announced on the NHIAA website just before 3 p.m. on the heels of Gov. Chris Sununu announcing remote learning is extended beyond the planned date of May 4 to the end of this school year.

“In response to the recent Executive Order by Gov. Chris Sununu to continue remote instruction in New Hampshire schools throughout the remainder of the school year, the NHIAA Council has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 spring sports season and championships,” NHIAA Executive Director Jeffrey Collins stated. “This decision was not made lightly given what athletics mean to the participants, parents and communities across the state.”

The news hit hard for coaches and athletes alike.

“Today is the day we dreaded,” Josh McAllister, head baseball coach at Kennett High, posted on the team’s Facebook page. “My heart is broken. The entire Eagles baseball coaching staff will continue to work with our players to help prepare our players for these tough circumstances and life outside of baseball. Hang in there, boys!”

April 18, Kennett High senior Grace Castonguay is the New Hampshire winner of the New Hampshire Athletic Directors Association/New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s essay contest winner. Grace, who lives in Jackson, was selected as the Division II essay winner and then was awarded overall honors for the state. As the Division II winner, Grace received a $500 scholarship.

On June 1, the annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic, which had been scheduled for July 18, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fryeburg Academy seniors Jack Campbell and Calvin Southwick had been selected to play in the game.

On June 16, a record 15 Eagles closed the book on their athletic careers at Kennett High School, having played three sports all four years of their high school years.

Honored Eagles were Keith Badger, cross-country, Nordic skiing and outdoor track; Julian Brochu, cross-country, alpine skiing and outdoor track; Grace Castonguay, cross-country, Nordic skiing and lacrosse; Eva Drummond, field hockey, alpine skiing and outdoor track; Will Eaton, football, basketball and baseball; Riley Fletcher, golf, basketball and baseball; Grace Jarell, cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track; Ben Klementovich, cross-country, indoor track and tennis; Trevor LaRusso, football, ice hockey and lacrosse; Madelyn Marcotte, cross-country, Nordic skiing and outdoor track; Reilly Murphy, soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse; Justin Olson, football, basketball and baseball; Connor Tofflemoyer, golf, ice hockey and lacrosse; Nadia Van Dyne, soccer, ski jumping and outdoor track; and Jack Wheeler, football, indoor track and tennis.

On June 18, the White Mountain Milers presented the first annual Bernie and Eileen Livingston Coach’s Award to Kim Bowles of Wonalancet, who is a standout three-sport athlete at Plymouth State University.

“We’re thrilled with the choice,” Bernie Livingston said. “Kim was completely surprised when we showed up and presented her with the award. Eileen and I both think she’s a fantastic first recipient.”

The award will be presented every spring to a Kennett High alumni. Kim, who will be a junior at PSU this fall received a $3,000 scholarship to continue her studies in education. he Livingstons coached Kim, a 2018 KHS graduate, in cross-country and track.

White Mountain Milers’ Half Marathon officials announced on July 7 that the race's 35th annual running would not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The health and well-being of our running community are of the utmost importance,” said White Mountain Milers President Theresa Struble.

“Due to coronavirus-related health and safety concerns for runners, spectators, volunteers, staff and the many partners that support the event, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event,” she said.

In the first week in July, Tara Watt, who grew up on the links of North Conway Country Club, returned to play in the New England Women’s Amateur Golf Championship at NCCC. She was the clear fan favorite as a host of community members came out to cheer her on. She finished fifth overall.

The summer was saved on the local diamonds by Greg Allain and Josh McAllister for baseball and Dave Caputo for softball.

The Home Run Bulldogs, founded by Allain, fielded three tournament teams (U10, U12 and U14) and also the Bulldogs Summer Baseball League made up of five local teams, three from within Mount Washington Valley, a team from Fryeburg and Sacopee Valley in Maine, and a squad from Denmark, Maine, allowed youngsters to play our nation’s favorite pastime.

Coach McAllister, not only coached the U10 Bulldogs but had a high school team play in the New England Independent Baseball League over the summer. The Eagles were one of 20 teams around the Granite State to field a team.

“The No. 1 goal for me was to see what I have coming back next year,” said McAllister. “I know we have Harrison Keeler to pitch, and he’ll be a legit No. 1, but who else? This is a great opportunity for our younger guys to get innings on the mound, at-bats and have fun. Of the graduating class we had 183 career hits, and only have 40 career hits returning. For me, it’s fun to get a glimpse of what we might look like next spring.”

In this new challenge with the COVID-19, McAllister, who helped write Gov. Chris Sununu’s COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Amateur and Youth Sports with DJ Bettencourt, director of policy for Sununu, and Rep. Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location), said people are adjusting.

“Having helped write the guidelines, I had some idea of what the challenges might be,” he said. “We have very little contact between players and coaches. We play with our own game ball, and our opponents have their own game ball. All the parents sit in different pods, and we have a designated area by the dugout where the players spread out in their lawn chairs.”

He added with a grin: “It’s hard to coach without spitting sunflower seeds. (Laughing) The guys just get to hear me talk a lot more.”

The Mount Washington Valley Soccer Club and Seacoast United proved that where there was a will there was still a way to play the beautiful game by providing opportunities for children of all ages.

On July 17, NHIAA Executive Director Jeffrey Collins hoped there would be sports in the Granite State in the fall.

"The state has opened up to allow sports to play. We're trying to roll with that and put the pieces together to allow that to happen. Schools make informed decisions about what's best for them moving forward,” he said, adding, “there are a lot of moving pieces to this whole thing and I understand people are chomping at the bit. They want to know what's going on. It's going to take more time to flush all these things out moving forward.”

On July 21, the Maine Principal’s Association announced it would push the start of fall practices from Aug. 17 to Sept. 8, with games to start no sooner than Sept. 18.

Fryeburg Academy Track Coach Kevin McDonald received word on July 24 that he was one of nine people chosen for the Maine Running Hall of Fame.

“I am overjoyed with this honor,” McDonald stated on his Facebook page.

Team Conway successfully repeated as SummerFest champions in the 18U midget division in Waterville Valley July 25-26. Team Conway, Coached by Dave Woodbury, went 3-0-2 in the tournament and topped the Icehawks of Northwest, Conn., 3-2 in the championship game.

“We played well,” Coach Woodbury said. “It was nice to get back on the ice. For a lot of them, it had been a while.”

Members of Team Conway included Miles Woodbury of Conway; Reilly Murphy, Kobi Lees of North Conway and Wade Volo of North Conway; Eddie Thurston of Fryeburg, Maine; and Liam McGibbon (his Dad, Bill, grew up in North Conway).

For Woodbury, Murphy, Thurston and Lees, the Sun's senior hockey writer Pat Murphy referred to the tournament as “The Last Dance,” as they had been teammates since Mites, “have gone separate paths in high school, but always find their way back together each July!”

The annual summer classic — the Bulldogs Summer Baseball League All-Star Game — was everything players and spectators hoped for and more on July 31 at Whitaker Field in North Conway. Pitching dominated the bulk of the evening along with stellar defense at Team Pepin topped Team Keaten 8-1.

“What an awesome night,” said league president Greg Allain. “From the player introductions to the national anthem, everything went great. The event itself was good but the game was even better. It was good, clean baseball, and the pitching was awesome. Looking around Whitaker Field you could tell everyone was pleased with how it went.”

On Aug. 2, the late Bob Burns, who coached Kennett High baseball for 42 years, was selected among the first class to be inducted into the Baseball Coaches Association of New Hampshire Hall of Fame. Joining Burns in the first class were is good friends Tom Underwood, Bill Dod and John Cummings along with Warren Doane.

Kennett High graduates Dominic Jones and Justin Olson had been looking forward to one more high school football game in their fine careers, but it didn’t happen. The talented athletes had hoped to suit up for the Granite State in the 67th annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl Game against Vermont, but the game has officially been canceled for this summer on Aug. 3 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tara Watt can now add a three-time state amateur champion to her golfing resume. The former Kennett High (2001) standout now of Manchester and playing out of the Derryfield Country Club, captured the 2020 New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association Championship at Bretwood Golf Club in Keene on Aug. 3-5, winning the tournament by three strokes, 7-over 223.

Powerlifter Wayne Grenier of Ossipee went a perfect nine for nine in a record-breaking performance at the APA’s Cam-Am (Canadian-American) open in Brattleboro, Vt. on Aug. 4. His best squat was 185 pounds, best bench press was 195 pounds, and best deadlift was 340 pounds for a lofty total of 720 pounds. Grenier, 70, weighs 198 pounds, and is now ranked fourth in the APA world rankings.

Although the COVID-9 pandemic forced the cancellation of high school sports this spring in the Granite State, the summer was a different story. Sports were played with social distancing being adhered to, and the MWV Eagles softball teams made up for lost time by playing lots of ball. The team, coached by Dave Caputo along with Chris Kroski (Kennett High varsity softball coach), Larry Meader (KHS JV coach) and Ed Alkalay, has a ton of girls participating this summer and found no shortage of opponents.

“The MWV Eagles summer softball team started in 2018, grew in 2019 and, once we got the go-ahead from the state youth sports COVID guidelines, grew again in 2020,” Caputo, who founded it at the request of softball players who didn’t want their season to end so quickly, said. “There are 23 girls from eighth-grade to 11th-grade that have been practicing since June.”

The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Council met on Aug. 7, set the game days for fall sports, and also agreed to have schools seek regionalized schedules. The committee also recommended an open tournament for multiple sports. The NHIAA set the first day of practice as Sept. 8 with games on Sept. 18.

“When you don’t have something and it comes back, you realize how much you missed it,” Bernie Livingston, the dean of coaches at Kennett High, described the first day of optional practice for the KHS boys’ and girls’ cross-country running teams on Aug. 17 at Livingston Oval.

Assistant Coach Eileen Livingston, wearing a mask, greeted athletes and their parents as they arrived alongside the track. She then had to have each athlete fill out a daily health form. The pens had to be sanitized, and the next step saw Coach Bernie Livingston take each Eagles temperature with a scan of their forehead.

“It’s different,” Bernie said of the procedure which added 20-minutes to practice time.

“The end of the 2020 Bulldogs Summer Baseball League has come and gone,” League President Greg Allain posted on Facebook on Aug. 17. “The Navy Seals edged out the Mainiacs in the final best-of-three series, 2-1. A well-played final series! Congratulations to all the players and coaches.”

On Aug. 22, Terry (Livingston) Ballou became a virtual world champion. She had been looking forward to representing the United States by competing against the top runners in the world at the Master's World Championships in Toronto, Canada, in July, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person meet was canceled. Instead, the championships took place virtually with athletes running on their own and then submitting their times during a worldwide virtual challenge held July 18-Aug. 2.

Competing in the 50-54 are group, Ballou won the 400 meters and placed third in both the 800 and 1,500-meter runs.

Ballou also competed in the USA Track and Field Master Virtual Summer Challenge, winning both the 400- and 800-meter runs.

“The virtual races definitely kept me motivated through this trying time, and I ended up running faster than I’ve run in two years,” said Ballou. “So all in all, a great experience.”

On Aug. 24, the Mount Washington Valley Eagles U14 softball team wrapped up the summer season on a positive note by going 3-1 to finish as runner-ups in a tournament held at the Nick in Wolfeboro.

A summer where it looked like there would be no baseball due to the COVID-19 pandemic has turned out pretty well for the Mount Washington Valley All-Stars, who on Aug. 25 were crowned Cal Ripken U12 District 3 champs. MWV played dynamite baseball over three days, including beating the previously undefeated Berlin-Gorham All-Stars 1-0 on Aug. 24 and Aug. 25, in two games worthy of any title contests, to win the championship.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this group,” said Coach Andy Pepin. “I’ve been lucky to be around this great group for four years. We’ve won the district title three times and made it to states and been runners up. I have no doubt if we had had states this year, we would have been one of the teams to beat.”

The 2020-21 local hockey season got underway in mid-August with the Mt. Washington Valley Youth Hockey's North Conway Nordiques 18U/16U program taking the ice at Chalmers Ice Arena on the campus of Bridgton Academy in Bridgton, Maine, while Ham Arena undergoes repair work.

Bridgton Highlands traveled to the Jackson Tennis Club on Aug. 22 and Aug. 29 to play the annual Challenge Cup tournament between the two state-line neighbors and took the trophy to the Pine Tree State, winning 6-3.

“This is a fun tournament because it really emphasizes the comrade between the clubs and feels like a Davis Cup match,” said Justin Chaffee of Bridgton Highlands. “It is great to see the balance of respect and passion with Jackson and Bridgton playing a game we all love.”

The start of the fall sports season for athletes in the Pine Tree State was pushed back at least another week, and, so too, was the decision on whether state officials will sign off on sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Sept. 7.

“We will be conditioned machines by the time we start,” joked Fryeburg Academy Athletic Director Sue Thurston.

It was a different route and not nearly as crowded, but it still counts and Linda Parrish’s streak of 31 Boston Marathons in a row is still going.

“On Sept. 12, I completed my 31st consecutive although ‘virtual’ Boston Marathon running a double out and back on West Side Road with support from my husband Bob and family in a time of 4 hours and 19 minutes,” Parrish, who lives in Albany said. “I was a registered participant through the BAA to keep the spirit of the marathon alive despite the pandemic.”

On Sept. 18, the Kennett Eagles field hockey team (1-0, Division II) reopened the high school outdoor athletic fields at the Redstone campus for the first time since June 2019, posting a thrilling 2-1 victory over arch-rival Berlin (0-1, Division III) on Friday at Centola Field.

The home opener also served as Senior Day, with seniors and their parents recognized with flowers and gift bags before the game.

“We look at every day as a gift,” said Coach Vaughn Beckwith when talking Sept. 22 about the 2020 football season, and the fact Kennett High can play games amid the COVID-19 pandemic is great news. Although it will only be a five-game regular-season, provided the Eagles and their opponents can remain virus-free, the hometown flock opened the fall in impressive fashion with a 38-0 victory over Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough in Center Harbor on Sept. 24.

Kennett scored on its first five possessions and six of seven in the opening half to put the contest away early. While putting up 38 points in the first half, the KHS defense also looked dominant, holding the Lakers without a first down over the first 24 minutes.

The Kennett High boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams laced up their running shoes for the first meet of the season on Sept. 23 with a trek to Berlin High to run head-to-head against the Mountaineers. The Berlin boys took top honors on the day, while the girls from Conway left town with bragging rights with a team win.

The Kennett High boys’ soccer team opened its win account with a 3-0 shutout victory over Moultonborough Academy in Moultonborough on Oct. 2. The win was the first for new Coach Camden Clark.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, we could have finished a little better, but at the end of the day, I’m happy for us to get the first win,” Clark said. “We did a lot of things well, but the boys will agree we have a lot of room for improvement.”

The Kennett High cross-country team hosted its lone meet of the season on Oct. 3 at the Kennett Middle School, and by all accounts, it was a day of great competition capped off by a glorious rainbow over the field as the Eagles honored their seniors.

This was the 20th year Kennett has run its meet at the middle school, and while this one was a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic — spectators wore masks and there was plenty of social distancing — it still felt like the cross-country meet, which everyone was hoping for.

It was quick, but at least the Kennett High golf team was able to get out onto the links this fall for a few matches due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Eagles, the defending Division II state champs, played just five regular-season matches over 20 days.

“I think we’re all just grateful that we were able to get in a season, even it was a short one due to the late start,” Coach Ed Bradley said.

The Kennett High girls’ soccer team has found the road to its liking, notching four wins during a four-match two-week stretch away from Eagles’ Way.

The Eagles returned from Meredith Sept. 29 with a 3-1 victory over Inter-Lakes; on Oct. 2 with a 4-0 victory in Bristol over Newfound; beat Berlin 3-1 in Oct. 5 after a trip through the foliage in Pinkham Notch and weathered high winds, rain and thunder delays to score four second-half goals to win under the lights 4-0 at rival Kingswood on Oct. 7.

The wins lifted Kennett to 5-2 on the season and into seventh place in the Division II standings.

The Fryeburg Academy boys’ soccer team (2-2) kicked right into its regular season with plenty of explosive offense, which seems to be a bit ahead of the defense following extended summer and fall training where technical ball skills received plenty of attention, but defending was not allowed due to social distancing protocols.

The Raiders dominated Sacopee Valley (0-2) in an 8-1 victory on Sept. 26. This was followed by a disappointing 4-3 overtime loss at Lake Region (4-0) Oct. 2. The Raiders, extended into overtime twice more, coming off the field at Oxford Hills (1-1) with a 5-4 win on Oct. 4, but dropping a 3-2 decision at home on Oct. 6.

Two Eagles — sophomore Ben Dougherty and senior Colby Hall — have qualified for the New Hampshire Boys State Golf Championship after helping guide a rebuilding Kennett High team to a sixth-place finish in the Division II Team State Championships on Oct. 15.

Dougherty was the medalist, topping 64 other golfers with a round of 77 for 18 holes.

Hall, the team captain, tied for third with two other golfers with a 79.

The two Eagles went on to finish in the top 15 individually.

The Fryeburg Academy girls’ soccer team (1-1-1) capped its first week of regulation play in this COVID-19 safety protocol shortened season with a 3-1 victory over Sacopee Valley (1-1) on their Senior Day home-opener on Oct. 15.

Earlier in the week, the Raiders battled to a 2-2 tie in overtime at Oxford Hills (1-0-1). This followed on an opening game 2-1 road loss in Hiram, Maine, to the Sacopee Valley Hawks.

It’s awfully hard to beat a good team three times in a row, but the Kennett High field hockey team did exactly that on Oct. 19, scoring a 3-2 overtime victory on the road over rival Plymouth. Senior co-captain Maddie Stewart, who this time last year was a spectator for the playoffs after sustaining a season-ending knee injury, scored 28 seconds into overtime to give the Eagles the win after the hometown flock rallied from a 2-0 deficit.

“Maddie’s not even a year post-surgery, it’s amazing to me how well she’s playing,” Cassie Daley, Eagles’ head coach, said by phone following the win.

She added: “It was a crazy game. We always have good close ones with Plymouth. It was definitely not our best game, but the girls made it count when we needed to.”

The Kennett High girls’ soccer team continued its sizzling form in the opening round of the playoffs on Oct. 15 in the rain with a convincing 3-0 victory at home against rival Kingswood in the opening round of the Division II tournament.

Coach Ron Krieger’s team improved to 9-2 on the season with its eighth straight win. In reaching the Elite 8, the Eagles eventually fell 3-1 to state runner-up Merrimack Valley, but it was easily the program’s most successful season yet. Freshmen and sophomores combined to score 34 goals with Aida Wheat setting the single-season goal mark with 15, while teammate Shannon Abrams added 10 goals and nine assists.

“What a season,” Coach Krieger posted on Facebook. “I’ve always enjoyed soccer, always enjoyed coaching soccer; never has a team made me love being part of soccer more!”

The Kennett High football team (5-1) was all business on Oct. 31, and took care of business against Gilford-Belmont, winning the opening round of the Division II playoff game 46-10 at Gary Millen Stadium. On a 42-degree day with little to wind and a blue sky, the Eagles soared and scored early and often.

The Kennett High field hockey team capped off an undefeated season in style by winning the school’s second state championship in the sport on Nov. 1 with a thrilling 2-0 victory over previously unbeaten Souhegan at Centola Field. Senior Kathryn Hawkes scored both KHS goals with successful penalty stroke conversions in each half to make it the Eagles’ Day on Eagles’ Way.

“You guys played out of your minds,” Coach Cassie Daley told her team just seconds after the horn sounded. “This was it, you so deserved this. We went from winning the play-in (game) to winning the whole frigging thing.”

It was a Division II State Championship meet like no other for the Kennett High cross-country running team at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Nov. 7. No spectators, including parents of the athletes; no one was allowed to pre-walk the course, each school had its designated porta-potties and athletes ran in waves to decrease the interaction of the competitors.

This was racing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and KHS junior Amy Burton qualified for the prestigious Meet of Champions the following weekend and finished 68th overall out of 120 athletes.

In a matchup of two of the best teams in Division II, the host Plymouth Bobcats got second- and fourth-quarter touchdown passes to top Kennett High 14-6 in the quarterfinals on Nov. 7 to advance to the Final Four. It was a game that went right down to the wire, with the boys from Conway twice driving inside the Plymouth 30-yard line in the fourth quarter but were unable to put points on the scoreboard.

“I’m not saying we didn’t play well, but could we have played better, yes,” said Vaughn Beckwith, Eagles’ head coach. “Plymouth was just a little bit better than we were.”

He added: “I’m sad for the team for the season to be over but I’m also really happy that we were able to have a season. Every day we were on the football field this fall was a gift. I think we all felt that way.”

Kennett High had three players earn All-State honors for field hockey in Division II on Nov. 20. Ella Chandler and Maddie Stewart, co-captains of the defeated state champions, were named All-State, First-Team, while fellow senior Kathryn Hawkes was selected All-State, Second Team.

Coming off it most successful season in three decades, the Kennett High girls’ soccer team had three athletes received Division II All-State honors on Nov. 30 Junior Emily Kenny, a standout defender, was named to All-State, First-Team. Freshman Aida Wheat, a forward, was selected to All-State, Second-Team. Sophomore Marissa Caputo, a midfielder, was chosen to All-State, Honorable Mention.

U.S. biathlete Sean Doherty capped his first two weeks of the 2020-21 Wold Cup season in Finland with a near-perfect performance in the opening leg of the team 4X7.5K relay on Dec. 6. Doherty was flawless on the range, going a perfect 10-10, and had the lead for a good portion of the final lap. He entered the transition area in fourth, putting the United States just 8 seconds out of first.

The U.S. was unable to build off Doherty’s performance and went on to finish 18th overall, but Doherty was the story of the day and provided a glimpse of better things to come.

The Kennett High football team had nine players earn individual post-season accolades by being selected to All-State for the Northern Cluster of Division II this fall on Dec. 12.

Five Eagles landed on offense, including quarterback Parker Coleman, a senior; running back Tanner Bennett, a junior; offensive lineman Braden Santuccio, a senior; slot receiver Cole Salyards, a senior; and wide receiver Kyle Perry.

Four KHS players were selected for honors on defense, including senior defensive end Bobby Graustein, sophomore defensive end Evan Koroski (the lone sophomore or freshman bestowed First-Team accolades; senior linebacker Gaven Gagne; and junior defensive back Isaiah Scharnowske.

The Conway School Board voted unanimously to begin winter sports seasons at Kennett High School and Kennett Middle on Dec, 14. Practice started after school the following day for the Eagles.

On Dec. 27, Fryeburg Academy is waiting for the green light to begin winter sports. Oxford County has been under a “yellow” designation for more than three weeks, which has resulted in a delay for teams to begin workouts. The state gives weekly designations on the status of the virus in a county with green being the best, yellow in the middle and red is the worst. Yellow indicates “a moderate level of community risk,” says the Maine CDC.

As of Jan. 7, Oxford County was still listed as yellow, putting the start of sports further on hold of the winter.

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