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UNH Wildcats. Courtesy photo.




Opening games

University of New Hampshire: Saturday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. vs. Holy Cross at Wildcat Stadium, unhwildcats.com
Plymouth State: Saturday, Sept. 10, at 1 p.m. vs. Mount Ida at Currier Field, plymouth.edu 
Saint Anselm College: Saturday, Sept. 10, at 4 p.m. vs. Bentley, saintanselmhawks.com
Dartmouth College: Saturday, Sept. 17, time TBA, vs. UNH at Memorial Field, dartmouthsports.com




Ready for some football?
Plenty of action at NH colleges

08/11/16
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 Even if you don’t like football, New Hampshire’s colleges and universities make it hard not to like going to football games. For your viewing pleasure, they’ve built new stadiums, encouraged tailgating and hosted trivia, bounce houses and fan dances. 

 
Wildcat way
The 2016-2017 season is the first chance for University of New Hampshire football fans to check out the school’s new stadium, which hadn’t been updated since 1936 and sported few amenities.
“It was somewhat embarrassing, for the quality of the school and the program we have. We have built a new stadium, and the team will take occupancy in three weeks. It’s a gorgeous state-of-the-art facility, and we’ll go from a capacity of 7,000 to 11,500,” said Marty Scarano, athletic director for UNH, via phone.
The new Wildcat Stadium includes a 30- by 50-foot high-definition video board, elevators, premium seating for its new Victory Club program (where patrons will have access to a full buffet lunch and halftime adult beverages), plus other affordable premium box seats. Students will get their own section of 2,000 wooden tiered seats close to the field (nicknamed “The Dungeon”).
Previously, food service was provided by mobile trucks, but now the school’s dining services will feed the crowds, with more tasty varieties than before, from $2.50 hot dogs to meatballs and bread sticks. 
“UNH has seen necessity for a new stadium for a long time,” he said. “But clearly, we would not have had momentum unless we had a very successful football program.”
Since the 2007 season, UNH has a 47-6 record (an .887 winning percentage) at home, and it has qualified for the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs for 12 consecutive years, the longest streak in the country. It also reached the NCAA national semifinals in back-to-back seasons, from 2013 to 2014.
The team breaks in the new stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. during its opening night game against Holy Cross, which will be nationally televised. The stadium lights went in a few years ago, but this represents one of the few times this season audiences can see them lit. 
During daytime home games, Boulder Field alongside the stadium is available for tailgating, which is especially busy during homecoming (Saturday, Oct. 1, against The College of William and Mary). The whole experience, Scarano said, represents classic New England football. 
“The fall leaves are changing, it’s a quintessential Saturday tailgating scene. It’s a wild affair, but it’s a good kind of chaos,” he said.
 
Go Big Green
Dartmouth is the other Division I football team in the state and, like UNH, has seen recent successful seasons. It’s the reigning Ivy League champ, and of all the Ivy football teams, it has the best record, with 18 championships to its name, one ahead of both Harvard and Penn.
Its home opener on Saturday, Sept. 17, against UNH, is one of the biggest games of the year and will be played under the lights, and its homecoming is against Harvard on Saturday, Oct. 29. 
Laura Sgrecci, assistant athletic director for marketing at Dartmouth College Athletics, said game day is fun for both football fans and families, and that Big Green fans travel from all over the Upper Valley to attend.
Pre-game activities might include face-painting and bounce house jumping, and during the game there’s often trivia, fan dances, T-shirt tosses and pizza deliveries.
Stands were renovated last year, with wider, more comfortable seats, a new press box and working elevators, and for this season there’s an upgraded turf field and track.
Stay for the end of the game; it’s when the team comes on the field and sings the Dartmouth alma mater, “Dear Old Dartmouth,” standing shoulder to shoulder.
 
Hawk and Panther fans
The Saint Anselm Hawks and Plymouth State Panthers games aren’t quite as enormous as those at UNH and Dartmouth (they’re Division II and Division III teams, respectively), but they still draw their fair share of fans.
The Saint Anselm College team will be starting the season afresh with a new coach, Joe Adam, who was the offensive line coach at Syracuse. Also new to the Saint Anselm staff are Charley Loeb, the new quarterback coach, and Mike Heffernan, who will be the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. 
Saint Anselm’s Grappone Stadium fits about 2,500 in the grandstand seats but allows for a capacity of 4,500. Overlooking the stadium is a brand-new scoreboard, and during halftime there’s often music or performances. The big games of the season are the opener on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 4 p.m., vs. Bentley, and on Saturday, Sept. 24, at noon, vs. Stonehill.
The most intimate crowds can be seen at Plymouth State, just off Interstate 93 an hour north of Manchester. Its football team plays on Currier Field and features a lineup of locals, about of half of which, Plymouth State Sports Information Director Kent Cherrington estimates, are from New Hampshire. It has concession stands with hot dogs, popcorn, soda and coffee, and its biggest games are the opener — Saturday, Sept. 10, vs. Mount Ida — and homecoming, on Saturday, Sept. 24, vs. UMass-Dartmouth. 





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