CASTLETON >> Plans for the 63rd annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl are well underway and the Board of Governors is pleased to announce the 2016 head coaches. Justin Leonard, head coach for the Epping/Newmarket Blue Devils high school football team, will serve as the New Hampshire Head Coach, while Brian Grady of the Fair Haven Union High School Slaters will lead the Vermont Shrine team.
The summer classic brings together some of the finest high school football players from New Hampshire and Vermont, but the real winners are the kids in the Shriners Hospitals for Children. The 2016 game will be played at Castleton University on Saturday, Aug. 6, with the pageantry of the parade starting at 3:30 p.m. and kickoff scheduled for 5:30 p.m..
In accepting the New Hampshire Head Coach position, coach Leonard says; "The Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl has always been a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved. I have wanted to be a part of this game since I was a player at Concord High School. Many great players and coaches have taken part in this game and to be included in the same category is truly a great honor. My grandfather was a Shriner, and every time Shrine season comes up I am reminded by multiple people that my grandfather was a part of this great organization."
"I want to thank the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl for the privilege to coach this year's Vermont Shrine team," stated Grady. "It is a real honor. Having been part of the Shrine game six times previously, I have developed a real appreciation for the mission of the Shrine game,"
Coach Leonard attended Utica College and graduated from Plymouth State in 2006 where he was a student assistant coach in 2004. He has football coaching experience at Concord High, Cienega High (AZ), Cambridge Rindge and Latin and Spaulding high schools before landing the head coaching position of the Epping/Newmarket High School cooperative team in 2014.
Coach Grady has been the head coach at Fair Haven Union High School for the past four years. Previously, he was the Offensive Coordinator for Castleton University in 2009 and 2010. He was head coach at MSJ for 15 years and has the fortune of being part of 11 State Championship teams — two as head coach at MSJ in 1998 and 1999. Grady was also the head coach of the last Vermont team to win the Shrine game, which was in 2000.
Approximately 200 players from Vermont and New Hampshire have been nominated by their respective head coaches and the screening committees, chaired by the two head coaches, will select the two 36-person teams in January.