Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Week 10 Football Preview

This is clearly a HUGE week in the NH High school football season. Divisions III, IV and V are having their semi-final playoff games, and for Divisions I, II and VI it's the last week of their regular season with some big games being played.

Friday

Timberlane @ Alvirne - 7 PM
This is pretty simple to figure out. The winner of this game will be D-II's #4 seed, and for the loser their season ends here. Who they play next Saturday in their semi-final matchup is directly dependant on who wins the BG/Exeter game.

On the field you have to consider Timberlane the favorites in this one. Both of these teams recently got blown out by Winnacunnet. But Alvirne was at full strength when they played the Warriors, whereas Timberlane played them with starting QB and punter Nate Lawrence and top WR and place kicker Jared Diorio both on the sideline in crutches. Both players suited up for the Owls last week in their win over Spaulding. Alvirne meanwhile, after looking horrible with all of their players against Winnacunnet, then had their starting QB Jonathan Baldwin suffer a concussion the following week vs. Merrimack. Baldwin did not play last weekend against BG, and he's questionable for the game Friday vs. Timberlane. If he doesn't play, the Broncos have no shot in this game. I'm sure Coach Nimblett knows that, and if Baldwin is anywhere close to 100% I expect him to play.

Even if Baldwin does play, I'll be surprised if they beat a healthy Owls squad. Coach Fitzgerald knows that this could be the last high school game in the great career of Derek Furey. He's going to run Furey into the ground. I expect him to get at least 25-30 carries. How many yards Alvirne's defense can hold him to with thsoe carries will be a HUGE factor in who wins this game. If they hold him to only 65 yards or less it's a Bronco win. If Furey goes off for 200 yards or more the Owls will fly high. If it's somwhere in between we'll see.

Central @ Salem - 7 PM
This game features two squads in very different situations. Salem has already clinched the top seed in Division I, and homefield throughout the playoffs. They have nothing to play for in this game. And The Blue Devils could also see Central again next week in the semis. If I'm Coach Gati, I don't give Central anything. The only way Salem won't win the D-I title is if one of their key players gets injured. I wouldn't risk that happening in a meaningless game. I would play my starters very sparingly, if at all. And I would use very little of my playbook.

Central on the other hand, needs to win this game in order to make the playoffs. They can't hold anything back, all hands on deck, throw everything they have at Salem. A lot of the Little Green seniors have underachieved this season, but they know that this could be their last game. I expect them to play with the same sense of urgency they played with vs. Pinkerton. And you know Chandler and Cavanaugh are always going to give it their all.

Saturday

Saturday is a big day. There are two more regular season games with playoff implications, and 6 playoff games. First I'll break down the big D-I and II games.

Nashua North @ Pinkerton - 2 PM
Ok, the playoff situation in D-I is still pretty cloudy. If North wins this game they clinch the #2 seed. Pinkerton then would have three losses and would be the #4 seed, as long as Central beats Salem. But if Central loses to Salem then Londonderry, Pinkerton and Central would all have three losses. They would also all be 1-1 in the tie-breaker.

But if Pinkerton wins this game, then Pinkerton is the #2 seed, North is #3 and Londonderry is #4...unless Central beats Salem, then there would be another three-way tie for the #2 seed, with North, Pinkerton and Central all with 2 losses and all 1-1 in the tie-breaker.

Confused yet? Bottom line, both North and Pinkerton WILL be in the playoffs, but depending on what happens here and in the Salem/Central Contest, they could be seeded anywhere from 2nd-4th.

On the field you have to like North to win, especially since Eric Guinto is expected to be out once again for the Astros. Pinkerton still has other capable backs, but they are clearly not the same team without Guinto. We saw that last year in the playoffs, and we saw that last Friday night against Central.

North is healthy, except for Kevin Rosenberg of course, and they're playing well right now. They have to be the favorites to win this one, especially with Simpson and Proulx also banged up. But don't count out Pinkerton. They've certainly played in more playoff-type games than the Titans have.

Exeter @ Bishop Guertin - 7 PM
Well it's finally here. This game has already been broken down plenty on this site and others. But here goes. The winner gets the top seed in D-I and will play either Timberlane or Alvirne next week. The loser is the #2 seed and will host Winnacunnet next Saturday.

The health of Carson Cross will greatly affect this game. He is the Exeter starting QB who has missed the last 3 games with Mono. Sophomore Jamie Tymann has done a good job filling in, but Cross is a better runner and passer. The Blue Hawks base offense is the Tight T, with three backs lined up behind the QB. The defense knows that there's a 95% chance that it will be a running play, but they don't know which one of the four players will be running it. With Cross in the lineup, he would carry the ball at least 3-4 times a game out of this formation, often times for big gains. In the three games Tymann started, he ran the ball a total of 1 time. So that shows you how when Cross is in the lineup you have to worry about 4 different guys who might run it, rather than just 3 with Tymann in there. Cross also attempted more passes than Tymann, so Cross keeps defenses more honest. Still, if Cross does play how rusty will he be after sitting out for the last month?

Bottom line, without Cross I see Exeter having a lot of trouble moving the ball on the lightning quick BG defense. But for Exeter it's all about ball control. They want to put points on the board, but for them it will be more important to run the ball, keep the clock moving, keep the chains moving, slowly but surely, and to keep the Cardinals offense off the field. They want this to be a low scoring ball game.

BG on the other hand, wants to spread the field, mix the run and pass, build a quick lead and cruise from there. Exeter has good DB's and they're lines are tough and physical on both sides of the ball. And the Blue Hawks won't make silly penalty and turnover mistakes that their previous opponents did. This won't be a cakewalk for Guertin. They are more explosive however, on both sides of the ball, than Exeter is. They can flat out score more points. But will they?

Should be a great football game. Two of the top 3 teams in the state going at it. Listen to my call of the game on 1540 AM, or online at 1540wxex.com. Saturday night at 7.

Now, for the playoff games, all being played Saturday...

Division III

Con-Val (3) @ Portsmouth (2) - 7 PM
I think Milford is the third best team in D-III and not Con-Val, but Con-Val gets the spot because they beat a shorthanded Spartans squad early in the season, before Milford went on their winning streak. I will be very surprised if Portsmouth loses this game, especially since the Clippers are healthy again, with QB Nate Jones, WR Mike Montville, RB Billy Lane and Co. all playing well. They did have trouble stopping the run in the first half last week vs. Milford, so look for Con-Val to try and expose that weakness on Saturday. It's the only way they'll have a chance.

Milford (4)@ Souhegan (1) - 3 PM
We'll dub this one as, "The Rematch." Souhegan on't be able to make any excuses if they lose this time. Their team is healthy, and they already had their wake-up call last time they played Milford that brought them back down to earth.

Souhegan knows that Milford can't throw the football. The Spartans have three capable running backs for the Sabres to worry about. But Milford is one dimensional on offense. The last time these two teams met that's where this game was won, in the trenches. Milford's offensive line is big and stong, and they overpowered the defensive front of Souhegan. Even though Milford ran the ball everytime, the Sabres still couldn't stop it.

Milford wants to prove that their win earlier in the year wasn't a fluke, Souhegan wants to prove it was. Plus these schools are big rivals, all the kids know each other, and that should make it even more fun.

Division IV

Hanover (3) @ Laconia (2) - 1 PM
Up until this past weekend, I think everyone assumed that in D-IV it would be Plymouth/Laconia once again in the title game. But after Laconia lost to a bad Monadnock team, that is no longer a given. The Sachems still have to be considered the favorite here, but don't be surprised if Sam Carney leads Hanover to the upset.

Kennett (4) @ Plymouth (1) - 2 PM
Laconia was considered the only team that had a chance to beat Plymouth in D-IV. But after their loss to Monadnock, will this be a cakewalk for the Bobcats? Let's remember that Laconia had already locked up the #2 seed, and had nothing to play for in the Monadnock game. I still think they could beat Plymouth if it comes to that. Especially if Bobcats RB Kyle McAuliffe doesn't play or is limited by his hand injury. Plymouth still has Colin Hay at RB, and I think even without McAuliffe, they will win this game and next weekend in the D-IV title game.

Division V

Bishop Brady (3) @ Pelham (2) - 5 PM
Now this should be a fun football game. Two good football teams. Both teams like to throw the football. And both are playing some good football going into the playoffs. Plus Bishop Brady has a tendancy of playing games thta go down to the wire. They have won 4 games in a row, two of which were won on the very last play of the game. Pelham meanwhile, has won 5 games in a row, and two of those wins were decided by just one score.

With teams who pass who like to pass the ball so much, I think this game could come down to turnovers and who can get more defensive pressure on the opposing quarterback. I think Pelham will win, but I think this will be a close one and Bishop Brady has a legit shot to win. Keep an eye on Pelham's receivers Josh Luciano and Kevin Cheam, and Eric Feehan of Bishop Brady.

Bow (4) @ Trinity (1) - 2 PM
We already saw this matchup last Saturday night. And even though Trinity had already clinched the top seed in D-V and therefore had nothing to play for, and Bow was still jockeying for playoff position and certianly had more to play for, the Pioneers won 59-0. It was 44-0 at halftime.

Now I don't expect the game this week to be that big of a blowout, I mean can it really get any worse than that? But I'd be a fool to think the Falcons had a shot in this one. But hey, give Bow credit. They've already had a better season than anyone expected, including their thrilling win in Pelham earlier in the year. This season at least, it seems like Trinity is just simply too good for Division V. They've played each of the other D-V teams, and no one came within 2 TD's of them. Will they move up to D-IV, or even D-III next year? Or is this season just one special year for Pioneer football? Or will the Pelham/Bishop Brady winner pull an upset next weekend in the title game? Only time will tell...

Well that's a wrap. Boy, I'm exhausted after writing all of that. I think I'll buy lunch for everyone who read the entire thing!

38 comments:

  1. RE Guertin vs. Exeter -
    Sounds like the Exeter "fans" are busy making excuses for why they might lose...
    BG is much, much more talented with or without Exeter's very average "starting" QB. Cross is not very good - period.
    So, when Guertin wins by 35 points please don't blame it on the QB situation. If you started Kukesh this year, it wouldn't matter.
    Two great programs with great coaching. The team with the most talent wins 90% of the time. This year, BG wins by 35.

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  2. Jeremy, Laconia was missing 4 players in there game to Monadnock by the way. Starting QB was suspended and 3 other starters we're out. Not taking anything away from Monadnock's win but Laconia wasn't playing full strength and Laconia will come ready to play this week and roll over Hanover.

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  3. The Nashua Telegraph is saying that BG is officially staying in D2 for next year. From my perspective that means D2, D3 and D4 will be virtually uncontested every year. How can that be good for NH football? I say a heal point system for the entire state with one championship.

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  4. I'm not an Exeter fan. Yes, I've seen and done play-by-play for all of their games, but I try to be as objective as possible. Just pointing out how Cross's health will be a factor in the outcome of the game, not making excuses. I wouldn't be surprised if BG beats Exeter, but I will be VERY surprised if they win by 35 points.

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  5. I will be surprised if they don't win by 50. Very disapointed that BG is staying in d2.They will roll teams in that division again next year.50-0 games by halftime are getting old.Get ready to be shocked Jeremy,you are about to see one hell of a football team.It would have been great to have BG play both Nashua teams,Pinkerton,Exeter,etc...Instead they will play Spaulding(they should be d4,they are that bad),Alvirne{talent challenged),Merrimack(far and away the worst coaching staff in d2.to many dads coaching.)Timberlane is bad with Guinto,imagine next year.Dover,(see Alvirne).Wow I am depressed.

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  6. To say Salem will only lose if one of their players gets hurt is ridiculous. Obviously they are the favorites but there are other things such as turnovers, coaching decisions, weather and just other teams stepping up. We are talking about 17 and 18 year old kids here. Jeremy you usually know what you are talking about but to make statement like that is ridiculous. It is why they play the games!

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  7. Pinkerton has set themselves up to be in trouble without Guinto. They have plenty of other talent on that team as demonstrated last year when Guinto was in & out all year, and finally went down for good, but they chose to stay one-dimensional this year, and ride Guinto, which has backfired on them now that Guinto's once again down. Throw a ten yard pass in the first half of a game just once & a while Well; too late now! They just cannot sustain drives & muster enough offense aginst good teams to hang in the playoffs. Just too predictable.

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  8. Speaking of making excuses, that's what it sounds like Tony Johnson is doing to stay in D2 and be the uncontested champion for the next two years. It's obvious to me that all he cares about is his spot in history. He'll never be a Lenehan or Ball. Any coaching staff would win with the talent that's been acquired at BG.

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  9. 6:06, you say I should get ready to see one hell of a football team. But I've already seen BG play a couple times. Yes, BG probably has more depth and overall talent than Exeter, and have to be considered the favorites. But both of these teams are undefeated. Neither team had a game where they won by less than 2 scores. The Blue Hawks are a tough, physical, disciplined squad. I'm just saying I don't think it will be a blowout.

    And 8:37 I know other factors could come into play for Salem, but I just don't see it happening. The only team in D-I that can beat Salem is Salem. If they have someone get hurt, or beat themselves with turnovers, poor play calling, etc.

    I'm pumped, can't wait for the games to start!

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  10. I meant flurrey at timberlane,not guinto,my bad.Jeremy you do a fantastic job keeping everyone informed,keep up the good work.wish the game was friday not saturday.

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  11. jeremy, Salem is the favorite but you are over rating them. They definitely have the best backs but after that they are are similiar to the other teams in the playoffs. It is not like they are physically better at every position. Salem is not the only team that can beat Salem. That is crazy!

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  12. Jeremy, North played salem without williams....that's a one touchdown game with him. when it's that close, anything could happen..

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  13. If it's true that BG is staying in D2 next year, I think the teams left in D2 should get together and refuse to play BG...that would turn the tables on BG...all those kids without any game time or stats.. I think the following year BG wouldn't be getting all those ma kids. johnson is a loser in my mind if he really stays in D2...

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  14. The NHIAA should step in and tell BG where they are going to play.It is ridiculous that they are staying in d2.

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  15. Settle down folks, why don't we wait until we get all the facts. Bottom line: BG wants to play in DI next year. Give it a little time before you jump to conclusions. Enjoy this weekend's game. In the end, everything will work out.

    You're right. Those MA kids are superior athletes. I can't imagine poor little NH kids strapping on pads and taking on kids from the mean streets of Groton, Dunstable, Westford, etc. Scary! The people who think BG excels at sports do to MA kids are pathetic losers.

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  16. BTW - the NHIAA did step in...they put BG in DII!

    An idiotic move.

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  17. Wrong again BG fans.....Bg petitioned to stay in d2, ultimately forcing nhiaa to move Exeter up with the enrollment criteria. If BG wanted to they could have gone up,NHIAA asked them tooo..FACT........Exeter relishes the opportunity to play wear ever they put'em. Have fun beating up on Spaulding BG............

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  18. Just to bring some attention to something here. I mean this to not be a fight starter here, but this is what I've found out in the past week or so.

    Souhegan SR Commits:

    Jellison - Amherst (had a full ride to UNH)
    Petropulos - Amherst
    Comstock - Leaning towards Bates
    Daigneau - Leaning towards one or two particular NESCACs that I don't have names on

    Other Souhegan SR's Getting Recruited:

    Cray
    Cultrera
    Wing
    *These are just the kids I know of that are getting recruited by asking around. There may be one or two more that I'm missing though.

    How can people not say that Souhegan can play with the big programs in the state this year? They have 7 future college football players in their senior class alone! Can any other teams say that? I'm not saying that they would beat BG or Salem, but is it fair to say that they could at least give them a game? I suppose we will all be able to tell for sure this weekend, but this stat is just mindboggling for me. As an outsider, I have no idea how this team lost to Milford on the first go 'round. Feel free to attack this comment now, but I just thought this should be brought to some people's attention. Good luck to all of the teams this week(end)!

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  19. Your "facts" are incorrect - you have bad information. Exeter wants to stay in D2 in order to keep their precious "Seacoast" rivalry's intact. BG, with under 900 students, is willing to go D1 but the NHIAA does not want 10 teams D1. That's fact.

    BTW - no one cares about Souhegan.

    See everyone at Stellos Saturday night!

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  20. BG is staying in D2 because they technically should be in D3 or4. The current system is based on admissions and BG only had 800 kids in the school. They are talented enough to move up, and schedule games with top D1 teams every year. The fact of the matter is until the rules change or BG enrolls more students, they will stay D2

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  21. If NHIAA truly wants parity and to eliminate the teams who only want a soft schedule to maintain their uncontested champion status they do have an option. Select 12 teams to play in D1 and only D1 has a state championship. The other divisions can be championship subdivisions like in college and have "bowl games" at the end of the season. That way we'll really see who is tops in the state and anyone who wants a championship will have to play the toughest competition. Those who want to continue to run their program like an intramural program can continue to do so without being humiliated on a regular basis. Like someone else said earlier nobody wins when the score is 50-6.

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  22. Change the rule - change the system!
    BG must be D1!

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  23. BG is staying in D2 because they technically should be in D3 or4. The current system is based on admissions and BG only had 800 kids in the school. They are talented enough to move up, and schedule games with top D1 teams every year. The fact of the matter is until the rules change or BG enrolls more students, they will stay D2

    Look at the private schols in other states. Please, what is he scared oof??

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  24. Facts are right on and true, actually Coach Ball has said no problem to moving up. as for your seacoast rivalry theory....look for a Thanksgiving tradition to start on the seacoast in the near future. BG PETITIONED TO STAY IN D2 FACT.

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  25. I guess you were in the room. Sorry.

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  26. What is your problem with Monadnock? They still went to Laconia and played a very good game. It's not like that was their first upset win either they beat ConVal earlier this year and if you want to call the Merrimack Valley game an upset they beat them the week before Laconia.

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  27. Uhhhh... guys, were we just discussing Monadnock, or BG and Exeter? Not trying to be rude, but I don't think anyone mentioned Monadnock in the past few days.

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  28. Central over Salem 45-7, and the one TD that Salem did score was in garbage time at the end of the game.

    Alvirne over Timberlane 32-7, earning the #4 seed in D-II playoffs. Furey did not play.

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  29. "Salem is the only team that can beat salem" Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy, Wow is D1 totally up in the air. salem still has to be the favorite but this can't be the way you want to head into the playoffs

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  30. What can I say? Salem made me look bad tonight. That's what I get for having a strong opinion. Maybe I should be more like other reporters. Just stick to reporting facts and stats, be a robot with no personality and don't make any bold predictions or be opinionated.

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  31. Hello Jeremy,

    Are you unfamiliar with KENNETT? Why call Monadnock a bad team? They were fairly decent beating D III playoff team Conval.

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  32. 1:10 I didn't mean to offend anyone, but Monadnock is a Division IV team that only went 3-5 in their division. That's certainly below average. When I mentioned them in my original post, the message that I was trying to convey was that Monadnock is a team that Laconia should be able to beat and beat easily if they want to have a chance at beating Plymouth in the playoffs.

    And as for Kennett, no I have not seen them play this season. But I suppose I should give them more of a chance vs. Plymouth, considering they only lost by one touchdown to the Bobcats in the regular season. Boy, I'm eating all kinds of crow tonight, good thing I skipped lunch today!

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  33. I think you will see the real Laconia show up today. Last week the team had nothing to play for and several starters gave up their positions so the seniors who were not starters could play a bit.
    Laconia racked up over 428 yards rushing when the 2 teams met at the start of the season and shut down Carney in the second half.
    Both teams have improved over the season and it should be another great Hanover/ Laconia slugfest as in the past.

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  34. What can I say? Salem made me look bad tonight. That's what I get for having a strong opinion. Maybe I should be more like other reporters. Just stick to reporting facts and stats, be a robot with no personality and don't make any bold predictions or be opinionated.

    Just giving you a hard time. Everything you do is greatly appreciated. Just saying in NH anything can really happen on any given day. Any of the four teams in D1 can win it all!

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  35. 37-0, Souhegan over Milford. Talk about revenge with a healthy team, eh?

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  36. BG 42 Exeter 0. Jeremy, how surprising do you really find that to be?

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  37. small correction...Tymann ran the ball 5 or 6 times in his three games for like 25 yards. he also completed 4-4 for 80 yards.

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