BEDFORD – It wouldn’t be a football season at Bedford High School without some change.
The Bulldogs’ program is entering its fifth year of existence, and through the first four, it took a step forward in each season. In 2010, Bedford had its first winning season; in 2011, it made it to the Division III championship game.
Now, in 2012, the Bulldogs are taking another step, but this time, that step is up.
Enrollment numbers pushed all but a few of the school’s athletic programs up a division, and that included football, will play in Division II this season against the likes of Bishop Guertin, Dover and Winnacunnet.
Head coach Kurt Hines believes his team is ready to face the challenge, and that the Bulldogs have the key ingredient needed to be competitive against the bigger schools.
“I think the biggest difference in D2 is going to be the speed of the game,” Hines said. “The kids are all ready to step up. I truly think we have the skill kids to compete at D1 and D2 this year.”
Every year, the Bulldogs have to complete a conditioning drill that includes 16 sprints of 110 yards. Not only were the players finishing the drill in satisfactory times, a lot of them were doing it consistently, which surprised Hines.
“Each year, we’ve increased the speed that they need to complete those under,” he said. “This year, we had the skill guys running under 15 seconds, which is ridiculous. A great majority of them completed all 16 in under 15 seconds.”
But it hasn’t all been good news for Bedford this preseason. Hines found out on the first day of double sessions that senior Will McInerny, his starting left tackle who is drawing interest from Division I schools, will miss the entire season.
“He has to have surgery on both knees,” Hines said. “It’s devastating for him and heartbreaking to miss his senior year as a captain. The good news is that the colleges said they’d honor their scholarship offers. That’s a great thing for him.”
Bedford will move on with an offensive line that doesn’t have a player who has started a single varsity game.
“Our entire offensive line is new, as far as the starters,” Hines said. “We had a scrimmage against Londonderry (on Wednesday), and after watching film, we did a lot better – we have a lot to improve on – but we did a lot better than we had expected going into it.”
The Bulldogs will scrimmage again on Saturday at New Hampton before hosting former division rival Souhegan on Aug. 22.