PAUL LANDRY will be coaching the New Hampshire Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl team this summer. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
February 24, 2021WOLFEBORO — The Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl brings together some of the top seniors from New Hampshire and their counterparts from Vermont to do battle in one final football game before they head off to college and their lives after high school.
Kingswood football coach Paul Landry was honored to be part of the New Hampshire Shrine Team back in 1986 (following in the footsteps of his father, who played in the game in 1958) and now 35 years later, he is getting the opportunity to coach the New Hampshire team.
"I know what it's all about," he said. "It's such an honor to be recognized to play and to be on the other side coaching, I am just thrilled.
"It's an All-Star game for football, Vermont's best against New Hampshire's best," he added.
Landry noted that he was thrilled to get to watch Kingswood graduate Cam Mann participate in the game a few years ago, when he turned in a big game in the New Hampshire running attack. He was also excited to watch Kingswood graduate Matt Drew in last year's game, but that ended up being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"And I have 20-plus years watching kids play from Exeter," Landry noted. "I'm accustomed to watching the games from the stands, this will be a different viewpoint."
For the Shrine Game, coaches from around the state nominate players and Landry can get the chance to see the players on film, talk to coaches and find out what each player is all about.
"It's been fun watching all the talent in the state," Landry said. "We've got a lot of talent in this state."
As of last week, the New Hampshire team had all but about five or six of the positions filled, with good representation from schools from Division I, Division II, Division III and Division IV.
"It's been fun to talk to the kids and I am looking forward to being on the sideline with them all," Landry stated.
A few faces on the sideline will be especially familiar to Landry, as Kingswood senior Jackson McCullough has been selected for the team and assistant coaches Tom McCullough and Scott Meserve will be joining Landry at Castleton State College. Coaches from Exeter and Plymouth are also on the list for the New Hampshire coaching staff.
Landry has also been doing his research on what he could possibly be facing from the Vermont side, and with the Brattleboro coach at the helm, he anticipates a spread offense from the Green Mountain State.
"On offense, we're planning on running the ball and according to the line we have, we should be able to move the ball," Landry said.
The Shrine Team will meet at Castleton State College the first week in August, doing three practices a day for the week. After many years at Dartmouth College, the Shrine Game has found a home at the Vermont college.
"I'm really excited about it, excited for so many reasons," Landry said. "It's a chance to be able to give back to the game, to be head coach is unfathomable."
He notes that a number of the players who played with him in the 1986 game have been reaching out with words of congratulations.
And part of the appeal for Landry about coaching the Shrine Team is the hope of bringing some positive attention to the Kingswood football team.
"Bill (Ball, Exeter head coach) talked to me about the possibility of doing it," Landry said. "And he thought it might be a good opportunity to help the local community see what they have.
"Our numbers have been low and we want to build this program," Landry added. "I want to put Kingswood back on the map, I want to get kids playing this game again."
Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.