Former WLC coach helps lead Epping to 1st title in 22 years

If it hadn’t been for the experience of the 2008 basketball season, Sean Young isn’t sure he would have won a championship in 2014.

Young, the current boys basketball coach at Epping High School, helped lead Wilton-Lyndeborough to the then-Class S championship game in 2008. The Warriors went into that game against Colebrook at 21-0 on the season, but fell way behind early and could never really get back in the game.

On Saturday, Young had the Blue Devils in their first championship game in 22 years, and faced a similar dilemma in the first quarter.

“My best player (Jimmy Stanley) picked up his third foul late in the first quarter,” Young said. “I was able to keep him calm. That 2008 experience probably helped us win because I was so prepared going into it this year.”

No. 3 Epping rallied in the second half to knock off No. 4 Sunapee 74-70 to win the school’s first title since winning back-to-back titles in 1991-92.

“Words can’t describe it,” Young said. “It’s the most amazing feeling. You run through your head at times, if you ever won it, what would it be like. You just can’t.

“What prepared me for this moment was that 2008 season. Had I been to a championship game before that, we would have won. This year here, I was keeping them calm and keeping them relaxed.”

This was Young’s first year at Epping after a bit of moving around the last few seasons. He left WLC after the 2010-11 year after his wife was diagnosed with cancer during the season.

“I resigned because I needed to be at home and be with her,” Young said. “Right before the start of the next season, a former player of mine, Matt Regan, asked if I’d want to coach with him (at Pelham). He asked me to be an assistant and I did with the blessing from my wife.”

While she has a clean bill of health, Young returned to being a head coach, taking the job at Merrimack Valley for the 2012-13 season, but stayed just for that year.

“It wasn’t what I was looking for,” he said. “They wanted to go in a different direction and so did I. (Epping) was a tremendous opportunity. We have unbelievable support from the administration and the community.”

The Devils faced adversity mid-season, when Stanley missed some games for an undisclosed reason, but Epping righted the ship to become one of the few Southern schools in the division to win the championship.

Since Epping’s last title in 1992, only five times has a school south of the White Mountains won the Class S/Division IV title. Two of those schools – Laconia Christian (1994) and Calvary Christian (1995) – don’t field a team anymore, or don’t exist. Moultonborough (1996, 2009, 2012) won the other three.

Aside from Epping and Calvary, which was located in Derry, no school south of Concord has won a small-school title since Derryfield in 1983.