Game 1: Concord 7 Merrimack 0
Game 2: Salem 27 Goffstown 13
Game 3: Trinity 29 Campbell 14
Game 4: Souhegan 27 Manchester West 0
Game 5: Manchester Memorial 14 Timberlane 7
Game 6: Bishop Guertin 34 Manchester Central 0
Like expected, this was an ugly game. Lots of turnovers. The first three possessions of the game were turnovers. Merrimack threw an interception, Concord coughed up a fumble, and then Merrimack turned it over on downs. Then in the second quarter, Concord threw an interception and Merrimack again turned it over on downs. Both teams have QB situations that they're still trying to figure out. Concord rotated Drew Bolton and Graham McIntire in and out and Merrimack played both Zach Harris and Chase Distasio. Interestingly, Tyler King, the Warriors' incumbent starter, did not play. Bolton threw the only TD pass of the game on a 30 yard strike to WR Ken Hart. With the TD catch, Hart made up for his earlier fumble. Andy Jalbert also played well for Concord, he had an interception and a few nice catches. Zach Lanman is also a speedy WR for the Crimson Tide, so they have do have some decent weapons on offense. But both of these teams will struggle this season. Concord might finish 6th in D-I, but that's it. Merrimack might also finish 6th in D-II, but that's only because Keene, Dover and Spaulding will also be bad. Both of these teams have to figure out their QB situation. Not sure why Tyler King didn't play, Merrimack will need him in there to finish 6th. As for the Crimson Tide, Bolton had the TD pass, but he also had the INT. Still, he played better overall than McIntire did.
Salem/Goffstown - That score was also pretty much what I figured would happen. However, the game really wasn't that close. I think it was 21-0 Blue Devils after the first quarter, and Goffstown got a couple of TD's late to make it respectable. At that point Salem had their second string defense in, or at least I hope that was their second string defense because of how small they were. Then again, Max Jacques keeps showing why size isn't everything. He's only 5'6" but is lightning fast and is also tough. They use FB Darren Brown as the power rusher, and is a nice compliment to the speed of Jacques. Cannone also played well for Salem, making some nice throws. One of the better hits on defense all day long came from the Blue Devils' Tyler Kelley, a senior DB. Salem is a decent team, I have them 5th in D-I right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if they leap over Londonderry and steal the 4th playoff spot. What will likely decide that battle is in week 2 when the Lancers visit Salem for what should be a very good football game. If both teams defeat all of the lower teams in D-I and lose to "The Big 3", then that week 2 game will decide the 4th spot in the playoffs!
Trinity/Campbell - This was a D-V vs. D-VI matchup, but these are two good teams. Campbell is probably the favorite in D-VI, and Trinity right there with Pelham for preseason #1 in D-V. Before the game I overheard a Trinity coach pumping up his players, telling them how Canada had his picture in the paper, but he can't throw from his back. The Pioneers did a good job of holding him in check for the most part. Campbell was conservative early on offense, and then when they opened it up, he threw a pair of INT's before going on some big runs in the second quarter. It looked like it was going to be a complete blowout early; Trinity went up 16-0, and then Canada had his 2nd INT. But then Zack Miller recovered a Trinity fumble for Campbell and the Cougars scored 2 of the next 3 TD's from there. Connor Lyons was the story for the Pioneers; between him and Canada you had two of the fastest, best athletes that I saw all day. Oh by the way, Trinity and Pelham square off in week 1. As if week 1 wasn't already stacked with matchups with all of the D-I/D-II crossover games!
Souhegan/West - This was expected to be a blowout, and it was. West is a bad team, a very small team in number of players, and a program that might be gone in the next couple of years. Souhegan's program is going strong of course. The story of this game was that Jellison was a no-go. He was walking around on the sidelines, and looked like he was healthy. If anyone knows what the deal is with him or Tyler King let us know. The other story was the clinic that DJ Petropulos put on at QB. He showed both arm strength and pinpoint passing. And he has some very big WR targets at his disposal too, including Brendan McKenna (6'3") and Matt Schagrin (6"2"). Souhegan showed what we already knew, that they're going to cruise through their D-III schedule, and are one of the top 5 or 6 teams in the state.
Memorial/Timberlane - Here's one game that did not go as expected. I certainly considered Timberlane to be the favorite. Yet, until the last couple of minutes, the Owls were down 14-0. Their new QB, Nate Lawrence, started slow but got better as the game went on. The offense started to really click late in the 2nd quarter for the Owls, and it started to look more like the game I expected going in, but it was still too little too late. Jared Diorio played well at WR for Timberlane, and looks like he might be able to fill the shoes of Matt Caiazzo, who graduated after a very good senior season last year. While the offense got better as the game went on, the Timblerlane defense was bad the whole time. They miust have lost a lot of starters on that side of the ball, because last season they were a very good defensive team, especially against the run. That wasn't the case Friday night. The worst came in the 2nd quarter. After their defense was already looking shaky, they gave up a 56 yard TD run to Memorial. In the end, it looks like the Owls will likely start the season off slow, especially weak one when they play Nashua South at Stellos Stadium. Meanwhile, Memorial might not be as bad as anticipated, and they, along with Concord and Nashua North will all battle for 6th place in D-I.
Central/BG - Obviously this was the most anticipated game of the day. Unfortunately it didn't get started until 8:30 and was raining the whole time. What resonated with me about this game was how good BG is, on both sides of the ball. Their offesnive line created some big holes in the Central defense for the Cardinal backs to run through. Most of the rushing work was done by the speed of Mike Kelley and Adam Hall, and the power of Nick Philips. It's understandable that Philips is tough to bring down. He's the same height as I am, but he has over 55 lbs on me. Meanwhile Hall had a 61 yard TD run, a play that made the Little Green defense look horrible, and I could see the fumes rising out of Coach Ray's baseball hat. It actually looked initially like it would be a close game; after the first three possessions it was still 0-0. But then BG took over. Central struggled on offense, as sophomore QB Jared Chandler made some plays, but could never get into a rhythm with his receivers. He also wasn't given very much time in the pocket by his o-line. Mike Cavanaugh showed his speed at some points, and actually lined up as the QB for a couple of plays and ran the option. Central was trying everything to move to move the ball on the Cardinals, but it wasn't happening. As for the other new QB in the game, BG's Steve Cupia, a junior played well. He relied mostly on his line and his backs to do the work, but he made some nice throws in the pocket and showed decent speed running the ball as well. He didn't run the option at all that I saw, and that was the team's bread and butter last season with Andy Vailas at the helm. BG might be the best team in the state. For now I have them right behind Pinkerton, meaning the week 1 showdown between the Cardinals and Astros should be an incredible ballgame. For Central, they drop down a coouple spots in the rankings. They'll still be a good team this year, but they'll start off slow. Don't be surprised if they lose at home to Exeter this upcoming Friday night.