HAMPTON — The plan for Ryan Francoeur is to simply watch and assess what he sees from his Winnacunnet High School football team at Saturday’s annual Northeast Regional Under Armour 7-on-7 passing tournament at Exeter High School.
“The best part, for me, is that I am going to be able to sit back and observe our kids competing,” the first-year Winnacunent head coach said Wednesday morning. “It will be good to get our kids to be competitive in situations against players that aren't on our own team. I'm sure everything will not go perfect, but we’ll see who emerges in a leadership role.”
Winnacunnet is in Pool 4 and will play Bonny Eagle (Standish, Maine), Winchester (Mass.) High School, David Prouty High School (Spencer, Mass.) and Saugus (Mass.) High School.
The Warriors will play Bonny Eagle at 10 a.m., Saugus at 11, Winchester at 12:30 p.m., and David Prouty at 2.
“Bonny Eagle has been a solid program up in Maine for a number of years,” Francoeur said. “That will be a good first test for us.”
The top two teams in each of the eight five-team pools will advance to the Round of 16 which starts at 3:10 p.m.
“As far as ability-wise we definitely have the ability to (advance), I don’t think there is any doubt about that,” Francoeur said. “Our skill guys can play. They can all catch the ball, and we have good speed. I think talent-wise we can advance, it's just, will you be able to put it all together?”
Other teams scheduled to appear include New Hampshire schools Exeter, Bow, Timberlane, Trinity, Dover, Concord, Goffstown, John Stark Regional, Raymond and Souhegan. Maine schools include York, Thornton Academy, Marshwood, and Wells. Massachusetts teams include Methuen, Groton-Dunstable, Woburn, Haverhill, BB&N, North Middlesex, Greater Lawrence, Amesbury, Swampscott, Triton, Westford Academy, Milton, Malden, St. John’s Prep, Andover, St. Mary’s, Lynn Classical, Sauguas, ?Narragansett, and Tewksbury. Coventry (R.I.) is also scheduled to compete.
Rising juniors Pat Britton and Elliot Beals and sophomore Dom Gould could all get reps on Saturday. Britton is the lone one of the three who saw varsity time last season.
“We’ll see how it works out,” Francoeur said. “(Britton) will get the initial reps and then (Gould) will get some reps as well. Hopefully, we’ll get some reps for (Beals) as well. All three of those are kind of competing for that quarterback spot. I don't think anything will be determined until we get pretty close to the week before the season, and even then it doesn't mean something couldn't fluctuate as the season goes on.”
Francoeur says the quarterback position is “as wide open as it has been in a long time.”
“I think our biggest goal as a team is just to compete and play hard,” said Britton after Wednesday’s morning workout. “We’ve all been working hard building chemistry this summer, but at the end of the day the 7-v-7 play style isn’t what we do best at Winnacunnet. I’ve been working a lot on my throwing mechanics this offseason and staying consistent with my throws and I hope to show that on Saturday.”
Senior captain Rich Camarato will be one of Winnacunnet’s ‘go-to’ guys on Saturday.
“We have a lot of young kids," Francoeur said, "but (Camarato) is a leader on both sides of the ball, and one of our better players."
Senior wideout Whit Sanborn, along with junior Ben Chase, and sophomores Matt Alkire and Chris Capezzuto, amongst others are expected to get reps on both sides of the ball.
The winner of Winnacunnet’s pool will face the second place team from Pool 3; and the second place team in Winnacunnet’s pool will face the winner of Pool 3.
Pool 3 consists of Concord, Bow, Wells, Andover and a team to be announced.
The quarterfinal round is scheduled to start at 3:40 p.m., the semifinals at 4:10 p.m., and the championship game at 4:35 p.m.
Pool 1 consists of York, Exeter, Methuen, Lynn Classical and Coventry.
Pool 2 consists of Timberlane, Amesbury, Milton, Raymond and Swampscott.
Pool 5 consists of Marshwood, John Stark, Narragansett, St. John’s Prep and Malden.
Pool 6 consists of Dover, Triton, Trinity, Tewksbury, and Groton-Dunstable.
Pool 7 consists of BB&N, Greater Lawrence, North Middlesex, Thornton Academy and Westford.
Pool 8 consists of Goffstown, Souhegan, Woburn, St. Mary’s and Haverhill.
The three regional champions - North, South and East - all qualify for the New England Championship on Saturday, July 24 at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody, Mass.
In addition, there were five wild-card teams who advanced last year, as well as two other regional finalists to set up a 10-team championship field.
Suffield Academy (North), Scituate, Mass. (South) and BB&N (East) were the three regional champions last year. Dennis-Yarmouth (South finalist) and Milton (Northeast finalist) also qualified for the New England Championship; the five wild-card teams were all from Massachusetts — Lynn English, Barnstable, Bishop Fenwick, Lynn Classical and Masconomet Regional.