Francis honored as Conference Coach of the Year

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

ILMA football coach Jon Francis was named the North Conference Coach of the Year after guiding the Lakers to the title this fall. File Photo. (click for larger version)
December 26, 2013
REGION In the first year of the North Conference, the Lakes Region schools proved to be very evenly-matched this fall. While the five teams in the division routinely knocked each other off on a week to week basis, it was Gilford High School and Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough that emerged as the top two squads by season's end, meeting in the inaugural North Conference title game last month.

Despite losing in the regular season matchup at home in Meredith, the Lakers rebounded to take an exciting 27-14 win over the Golden Eagles for the championship on the strength of six turnovers from Gilford. With the season now in the rearview, the Division III All-North Conference team was announced last month, honoring the standout players from this season.

Leading the way was I-L/MA head coach Jon Francis, who led the Lakers to the conference championship in his second year in charge of the program. I-L/MA rebounded from a one-win season in 2012 to capture the crown and advance to the state semifinals where it eventually fell to state champion Bow. Francis was honored as the North Conference Coach of the Year for his efforts.

"Since taking over a couple of seasons ago, Jon has done a great job with the program," said Inter-Lakes athletic director Jeff Cloos. "He and the rest of coaching staff have high expectations and the athletes have risen to the challenge. Jon has been great to work with. He works well with the boosters, parents, and administration of the school. We are lucky to have him."

The Lakers were well-represented on the All-Conference team, with two players on offense and four players on defense. Senior tailback Devante Carter was one of three running backs on the squad, while classmate Derek Rossetti was the All-Conference center.

On defense, I-L/MA senior Nick Hurd (linebacker), juniors Nick Galietta (defensive line) and Kodey Converse (defensive back) and sophomore Nick Brothers (defensive back) were all selected to the All-Conference squad.

The Lakers had four of those players on the Division III All-State teams, as Galietta and Converse were on the defensive Second-Team. Carter and Rossetti represented I-L/MA on the Second-Team offensive squad.

Gilford had six players selected to the All-Conference team after finishing with the best record during the regular season, five on offense. The Golden Eagles had the top-scoring offense in the North, led by senior quarterback Jack Athanas, who was named to the team. Junior tailback Max Troiano was also on the squad after a strong season, as was junior wide receiver Kyle Gaudet. Seniors Seth Rowley (guard) and Drake Parker (tackle) helped pave the way up front and were also All-Conference performers.

On defense, junior Zach Poisson was the lone Gilford player selected after a strong season pacing the linebacker corp.

Parker was Gilford's lone First-Team All-State selection on offense as well, as the tackle joined the best in Division III. Athanas and Troiano were both named to the All-State Second-Team offensive unit.

Winnisquam Regional High School was in contention for a slot in the North Conference title tilt until late in the season, when the Bears were knocked off at home by I-L/MA for the runner-up spot. Coach Pat Riberdy's team was still highly talented, with senior Dakota Van Tassel (guard) earning the lone All-Conference spot on offense for his team. Van Tassel was also a Second-Team All-State selection on offense.

Three Bears earned selections on defense, as the unit proved to be very stingy at times. Senior Jacob Gove (defensive line) led the way, while juniors Richard Mills (defensive line) and Andrew Serrano (defensive back) were also honored. Sophomore Christian Serrano, who also had a solid season running the ball, was the All-North Conference punt/kick returner. Mills joined Van Tassel as an All-State pick, as the junior was on the First-Team as a defensive tackle.

Four Newfound players and two Franklin players were also selected to the All-Conference team.

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