DERRY, N.H. — If karma, kismet, fate and the alignment of the moon and stars mean anything, Exeter High School doesn’t stand a chance tomorrow afternoon in the Division 1 state title football game.
Brian O’Reilly doesn’t believe in any of that stuff.
The Pinkerton Academy head coach will tackle this weekend like he has most every day of the past 35 years — meticulously, methodically and most enthusiastically with due diligence.
He’ll leave nothing to chance.
O’Reilly is in line for what could be one of the great weekends of his coaching life.
Saturday afternoon in Exeter, his Astros shoot for his 11th Division 1 state title against the top-seeded Blue Hawks. Sunday night, the teacher/coach, now 59, will be inducted in the NHIAA Hall of Fame.
“I didn’t expect it, and I’m also very pleased, whether it was coincidence or not, that I’m going in when (former Astros legend) Ryan Mihalko goes in,” said O’Reilly. “He exemplifies best, the main reason I am going in to the Hall ... my players.
“I’ve been so blessed with great players, in both (football and lacrosse).”
One of the winningest coaches in state history, O’Reilly takes a 259-101 career football mark and a 434-128 lacrosse record into the weekend.
But numbers, as amazing as they are, hardly tell the Brian O’Reilly story.
As longtime former Pinkerton athletic director Bob Royce noted in his nomination letter, O’Reilly “served as a model for his student athletes and others by consistently promoting good sportsmanship and maintaining a positive approach at all times.”
From the sideline, win or lose, as competitive a son of a gun as you’ll find, O’Reilly finds a way to keep things positive and fun. Honestly, he has since the first high school game I ever covered, on the road at Portsmouth High back in 1991.