Yarmouth’s varsity football program isn’t very old and it isn’t very big, but the Clippers continue to make their mark.
Yarmouth won the 2010 and 2011 Class C state championships and three members of those teams who went on to play huge roles as leaders and stars in 2012 and 2013: Thomas Lord, Brady Neujahr and Matthew Woodbury, will all play in college this coming fall.
Few programs, even longtime, bigger powers, can make a similar boast.
“It means a lot to our program to have that many players go on to play at the college level,” said Yarmouth’s new head coach Jason Veilleux, who coached Lord, Neujahr and Woodbury in middle school and in high school. “Brady, ‘Woody’ and Tommy are all perfect examples of what we are trying to create in our program. Good football players, but even better young men.
“What makes them all so special is their leadership ability. As freshman and sophomores, all three contributed to the two state championship teams. As juniors and seniors, they were the leaders. What was nice to see is that they didn’t always lead by just being vocal, they led by example, which is the type of leadership any coach would want in his players.”
Neujahr was a four-year starter at quarterback. He will play at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. Neujahr is a Minnesota native and looks forward to going home.
“I spent the first 10 years of my life in Minnesota,” said Neujahr, who is leaning toward studying economics. “They wanted me. I went out there and I liked it. It’s a small liberal arts school with a good football program.”
The Knights have a strong tradition, with 11 conference championships, 57 winning seasons and more than 450 victories. Last year, Carleton went 5-5.
Neujahr is a quarterback, but he could be used elsewhere.
“I was recruited as a quarterback, but I can play somewhere else,” Neujahr said. “I’m just excited to get there and see what happens.”
“We’re super-excited about Brady,” said Carleton coach Bob Pagel. “He’s a great athlete who could play a couple different positions if needed. He’s going to start out as a defensive back, as that’s a big hole for us right now. He’s a tremendous competitor and winner.”
Lord was a bruising running back, nose guard, linebacker an defensive lineman in high school. He’ll matriculate at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.
“I decided late in the process that I wanted to play football,” said Lord, who originally was thinking about playing lacrosse in college. “Union was always on my list. I got a tour and really liked the school. It’s what I wanted academically.”
The Dutchmen went 3-7 in 2013, but behind a large recruiting class, hope to turn things around quickly.
Lord, who plans to study economics, was recruited as a fullback, but he’s prepared to see time on the defensive side of the ball as well.
“Thomas is a hard-nosed player who has great desire and determination,” said Union coach John Audino. “We believe he can compete at our level of football. He has a high motor and is a physical player with a very good technique as a blocking back. We’re looking forward to Thomas contributing for our team. We believe he’s a high character young man and we look forward to having him develop into a fine college player in the years to come.”
Woodbury was a top running back and linebacker in high school. He will take his skills to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn.
“I chose Dickinson without the idea of playing football,” Woodbury said. “I know a lot of people there and I like the location. Then, I decided I’d miss football if I didn’t play.”
The Red Devils, who also boast former Yarmouth running back standout Anders Overhaug, went 3-7 a year ago.
Woodbury plans on playing defensive back, but could see time at running back.
“I’m open to anything,” said Woodbury, who is undecided on a major. “I’m not expecting anything.”
“We’re excited to have Matthew on our roster,” said Dickinson coach Darwin Breaux. “His competitive drive and athletic ability impressed our staff. He’s slated to be a running back for us. He understands the rigors of combining challenging academics and competitive athletics. We’re excited to have him with us.”
The Yarmouth program has stressed a certain approach which Veilleux feels has helped make talented players even more desirable for colleges seeking all-around quality young men.
“The coaching staff works hard to teach our players not only football skills, but life lessons taught through football as well,” Veilleux said. “We try to develop both good football players and high character young men which is what D3 football programs look for in recruits. I think with our smaller roster size we’re able to give each player more one-on-one instruction, which is something larger programs may not have the luxury of. It’s probably one of the only perks of having a smaller football program. We’re also lucky to have good natural athletes in Yarmouth, something our program has relied on to make up for smaller roster sizes each year.”
While Yarmouth is rightly proud of the three athletes, the players credited former coaches Jim Hartman and Chris Pingitore and their time with the Clippers for helping them get to the next level.
“Yarmouth wasn’t a football town until recently, when we started to win,” Woodbury said. “We’ve had some great coaches, definitely.”
“It’s pretty cool for a small program to (have players play in college),” Lord said. “This has been a dream for ‘Woody,’ Brady and me. Even though Yarmouth is a soccer town, a lot of people love football and have gotten behind it. The coaches, community and players.”
“We’ve had a good program from the beginning,” Neujahr said. “We’ve had very good coaches who prepared us for the next level and good support from the boosters and the school. We’ve had camaraderie and success. We had the time of our lives. It’s been an awesome ride.”
And the fun (times three) will continue.