BELMONT — Uniforms were being handed out Friday morning in the weight room at Belmont High School to a group of athletes preparing for their first season ever of playing football at the high school level.
But the uniforms weren't the red and white that Belmont teams wear. Instead they are the blue and gold of Gilford, a long-time arch-rival of BHS teams in a number of sports: soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball.
The two schools, who already field a cooperative program in ice hockey, are embarking on a similar venture in football this fall which could ultimately see the joint team move up to NHIAA Division II in a few years and become a regular opponent for Laconia High School.
For this year, Belmont athletes are eligible to play at the junior varsity level only, But starting next season they'll be eligible to play at both the JV and varsity level, which leads Gilford High School coach Shawn Garrett to believe that within a few years his team will be moving from Division III into Division II.
''Once Belmont players can pay at the varsity level, I'm sure we'll be moving up due to the increased enrollment of combining a program for the two school districts,'' says Garrett, who is in his first year as head coach after having served as assistant coach last year.
He says that about 27 Belmont students have expressed interest in playing football and 15 have been showing up for pre-season conditioning sessions.
''It's mostly freshman and sophomores and I expect that before long we''ll be seeing about 40 players from each school district, which should give us a very strong program in the years ahead.''
He says that participation by Gilford students peaked at around 50 several years ago but was down to 27 last year, which meant that there weren't enough to hold separate practice sessions for the JV squad.
''This year we expect to have about 50 kids in uniform, which means that the freshman won't be going up against the seniors in practices. The younger guys will practice against guys in their own skill set which should allow them to have success sooner and keep them active and involved,'' says Garrett.
He noted that may of the Belmont players already know the Gilford players, having taken part for the last several years in the Gilford Youth Football League and helping contribute to championship seasons at the middle school level.
Many of those players, like Dillon Gansert, Tanner Wood, Brandon Scheffer, Mark Forgione and Austin Simonds are among those who have already turned out for conditioning workouts and took part in a recent 7-on-7 camp against Laconia High School on Laconia's artificial turf field.
Gansert, a freshman, says he's ''ecstatic'' about the opportunity to play football at the high school level and says that the cooperative team venture came about through the efforts of the Friends of Belmont Football, a group of parents who joined together three years ago in an effort to find a way for their sons to be able to play football at the high school level.
The group raised over $10,000 and still is working on raising additional funds for next year. The agreement negotiated between the school districts calls for Belmont to pay $7,500 this year and $15,000 next year, After the second year both school districts will share equally in the costs of the football program.
Belmont Sophomore Austin Simonds, says he's excited about the chance to play football this fall. ''It's my favorite sport. I wish we had our own team but this works for me.''
Garrett says he's working with both Gilford and Belmont players on conditioning and noted that its not just about lifting weights but also about developing core stabilization and flexibility in order to avoid injuries.
He says that instructors at Gilford Hills Tennis Club have donated their time to work with the players on conditioning exercises and that regular practices for all players will get underway on August 20 at the Meadows field in Gilford. A football camp will be held starting August 13 at the Meadows with voluntary participation.
Tanner Wood does a pull-up in the weight room at Belmont High School as Dillon Gansert (34) and Cody Watson and Brian Sliva, seated, look on. The Belmont students are looking forward to their first ever football season as members of the Gilford-Belmont junior varsity team. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Last Updated on Saturday, 09 August 2014 12:04
MEREDITH — A young man was released to the custody of his grandparents yesterday after his appearance in the 4th Circuit Court for one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault.
Police affidavits say that Timothy Brown, 21, of Daniel Webster Highway lured a 10-year-old into a spot near M&M Salvage on Jenness Hill Road and enticed the boy to perform oral sex on him.
The victim, according to affidavits, said it happened recently because it was during the end of his fourth grade school year and before summer vacation.
Brown's public defender, Kate Geraci, said her client has significant cognitive difficulties and little to no impulse control and she would be filing a motion for a competency hearing. She told the judge that he has no ability to assist in his own defense and likely doesn't understand much of what is happening to him.
Geraci said he is terrified of being in jail and, with what his family said is the cognitive ability of a 10-year-old, he also doesn't understand why he's being confined. She said he is receiving services from the Lakes Region Community Services and many members of his family were in the court room to support him.
Police Prosecutor Lt. Keith True had asked for $5,000 cash bail. He said that if Brown were to be released he would ask for no contact with anyone under the age of 18.
Geraci said one problem with True's request was that Brown didn't drive and one of his 16-year-old cousins often took him places he needed to go. She also said she was under the impression he could continue getting services from LRCS even though his grandfather lives in Holderness.
Judge Jim Carroll ordered that he be released on $25,000 personal recognizance bail and that, with the exception of his cousins, he cannot not have any contact with people under 18.
Carroll said that Brown's ability to see his cousins does not include transportation and ordered that only an adult over the age of 20 could drive him around.
He also ordered Brown to stay out of Meredith except when seeking medical or mental health treatment and to abide by a curfew that confines him to his grandfather's home from 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
Last Updated on Friday, 08 August 2014 12:50
LACONIA — Horace Joyner is lucky to be alive — and he knows it.
Joyner, and Army veteran, was visiting during Motorcycle Week and while on his was back to his hotel in Tilton, crashed his red, white, and blue Trike 3-wheel Harley-Davidson after hitting a pot hole on Parade Road.
He was taken by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital and then flown to a Boston Hospital for treatment of a head injury.
He on the mend and is grateful to everyone who helped him but has one wish — to find the hat he was wearing at the time of accident.
"It just blew off in the crash," he said.
Joyner's hat is a special one — it's a Head-n-Homes Rio Topper — a black 7/8-inch top hat with rattlesnake inlays and two rattlesnakes wrapped around the brim.
Given to him by one of his best friends 18 years ago, Joyner said yesterday he has traveled all over the country riding his motorcycle and wearing his hat.
He said his friend of 35 years bought it while attending Daytona Bike Week but has since moved on from Joyner's home town of Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
"His mother got cancer and he had to move away to take care of her," Joyner said.
Joyner said the cherished hat is also irreplaceable. While Head-n-Homes still make the Rio Topper, he said the one he had was made with a hard suede and the newer ones are made with a soft suede.
He said that when he woke up in the Boston hospital he had everything with him except his hat. Joyner said his traveling companion went back to the area and tried to find it but couldn't.
He said he called Laconia Police Officer Mike Armstrong, who he thinks investigated his accident. He said Armstrong went back to the area to search for the hat but he too was unable to find it.
"He was real nice about it and I want to thank him for trying to help me," Joyner said.
Joyner said he would offer a small reward to anyone who finds and returns his hat.
To reach him, call 252-904-1248 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
Last Updated on Friday, 08 August 2014 12:25
LACONIA — "I'm watching the government get out of control and our liberties diminishing," Kathleen Lauer-Rago of Franklin, the Republican candidate for the New Hampshire Senate in District 7, told the Laconia Rotary Club yesterday. "I'm running as a conservative."
Lauer-Rago is the lone GOP candidate for the seat and will face Andrew Hosmer of Laconia, the Democratic incumbent, in the general election in November.
A native of Texas, where she was raised in the Rio Grande Valley, Lauer-Rago, with her husband and three children, has lived in New Hampshire for the past 15 years. She is a graduate of Texas A & M University-Kingsville and, like her husband, is a certified public accountant. In 2010, Lauer-Rago was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, where she served on the Education Committee. She is director of the Lakes Region branch of the Network for Educational Opportunity and a champion of offering parents wider choices in schooling their children.
Lauer-Rago chose not to seek re-election to the House in 2012.
Lauer-Rago told the Rotarians that the state economy, after thriving in the 1980s and 1990s, has slumped since 2000 under the weight of rising taxes and fees, increased government spending and proliferating regulations. She recalled that during her term in the House, where Republicans held a three-to-one majority, the budget was reduced by 11 percent and the New Hampshire business climate ranked 19th among the states. Since then the state has fallen to 30th in the rankings, she said. To restore prosperity, Lauer-Rago called for reducing government spending and regulation while lowering energy costs.
Responding to questions, Lauer Rago said she does not favor the introduction of casino gambling, fearing that the proceeds would not be applied to education as intended but diverted to other purposes. Asked about her position on the Northern Pass project, she remarked "I live in Franklin," where the converter terminal would be built. "We really like Northern Pass." However, she tempered her support for the project by saying that the 40 miles of line in the North Country should be buried.
Although she considered granting tax incentives to attract businesses "a good idea," she added that other unspecified priorities took precedence.
During her term in the House, Lauer-Rago was affiliated with the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, which "works to advance the principles of limited government, individual liberty and free markets" within the GOP and supports a slate of candidates challenging incumbent Republican lawmakers. The organization scored her voting record a "B". She stood with the House Republican Alliance, a group of representatives who uphold the GOP platform, on 94 percent of roll call votes and received a grade of 88 from Americans for Prosperity, another conservative advocacy group.
District 7 consists of the city of Laconia and towns of Belmont,and Gilford in Belknap County and the city of Franklin and towns of Andover, Boscawen, Canterbury, Northfield, Salisbury, and Webster in Merrimack County.
Last Updated on Friday, 08 August 2014 12:22
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