Sunday, August 29, 2010

NH Notebook Football Power Poll - Week 1


Each week of the high school football season starting today I'll be posting my top 10 teams in the state. My Power Poll is how I rank the top teams at that particular time, not necessarily the order I feel they will end the season in. In other words, if at any given time you took two teams and they played each other at a neutral site, the team ranked higher in the poll would be the favorite.

Back in May I released my Preliminary Power Rankings. You will notice that other than a couple exceptions, my rankings haven't changed a whole lot. Without any further ado, here is the NH Notebook Football Power Poll - Week 1.

1) Salem
Yes, they lost to Division III Goffstown the other night in the Queen City Jamboree. And while they didn't look terribly impressive in that game they are still the state's top team on paper and until they get beat in a real game I intend to keep them in this spot. In fact losing that game to Goffstown is the best thing that could have happened to Coach Gati's team. Why's that you ask? Because this team has so much hype around them entering the season. ESPN even has them as the #8 ranked team in New England, the only NH team in the top 10. Plus these are high school kids after all. Anytime kids get that kind of hype swirling around it's understandable if they get a little complacent. Their loss on Friday night is just what they needed to humble them, bring them back down to earth and get them re-focused heading into the regular season. There's also a chance that the graduation losses of Darren Brown, Dillon Cohen and Alex Sobrado will hurt the team more than people think. Friday night's results don't knock Salem off the top of my rankings. The Blue Devils might still be the favorite, but not as big a favorite as before. North, Central and even Pinkerton are breathing down their necks.

2) Nashua North
Karkhanis, Williams and Co. are rearing to go. The Titans had a heartbreaking loss in the D-I title game last year to Salem. They have most of the team back and you can bet they want revenge this year. Look for their offense to be even more efficient this season now that they will only have 1 QB. Last year Brandon Karkhanis and Dylan Brodeur took turns under center seemingly every other possession. Sometimes North even switched their QB mid-drive. Both players threw the ball differently and had didn't rapport with their wideouts, had a different rhythm with the backs and a different cadence when calling plays, demeanor in the huddle, etc. So while switching the QB's constantly certainly kept opposing defenses off balance it kept the other North players off balance as well. This year they will just have the one QB in Karkhanis, plus stud running back Andre Williams and do-it-all playmaker Jahmar Gathright and wideout Anton Marinchik. They also return more talent on their offensive and defensive lines than any team in the state. And most importantly...who ISN'T rooting for this team right now? I would personally like to wish the best of luck to North's Cooper Doucette with his health and a speedy recovery. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.


3) Manchester Central
I think most people would agree that if there was one team that looked the best at Friday night's Queen City Jamboree it would be Central. The Little Green definitely struggled out of the gate in 2009, but judging by their play vs. Timberlane the other night that will not be the case this time around. Junior QB Jared Chandler looked very sharp, as did senior running back Khari Halliburton. Last year Chandler was a 5'6" sophomore QB who didn't practice with the first team offense until right before the season started. This year it's his team. He took his lumps at the beginning of the year, but got better as the season went on. Then he had a full summer practicing with the first unit, and with his favorite weapons in Halliburton, WR Junior Brown and Mr. Versatility Curtis Bayne. All of this showed on the field Friday night, when the whole team was in sync and on a mission. That was a scrimmage though. Now, Coach Ray's team must prove that they're the real deal when it counts.

4) Pinkerton
Pinkerton looked solid against BG Friday night at the QCJ. They beat the Cardinals and that was without starting QB Chris St. Onge. St. Onge will be ready to go on Saturday when the Astros host Timberlane, and so will the tough defense and stable of running backs who Coach O'Reilly has to play with this season. Look for freshman Manny Latimore, Kevin Davies, Mike Mazzola and Emmitt Smith to all get carries this year for Pinkerton. I was giving Trevor Knight some hype before, but it now looks like Latimore is likely the state's top 9th grader. Anyone who can not only make the varsity team but start at a school with 3,500 kids deserves some props. On the lines, the Astros aren't as big as they were last year but they are quicker. And Luke Somers returns as a playmaker on both sides of the ball. Somers and Mazzola give the team two of the state's hardest hitters on the same defense. For them to be ranked #4 is pretty good considering they graduated their starting QB (Ryan Simpson), RB (Eric Guinto), plus two lineman who are now playing Division I college football (Ben Proulx and CJ Trieb).

5) Bishop Guertin
BG is not used to losing. Even though it was only a scrimmage, you know that their loss on Friday night to Pinkerton must have left a bad taste in the mouths of coach Tony Johnson and his team. Guertin had their whole team there on Friday and they lost to a Pinkerton team that was without their starting QB. This shouldn't come as a complete surprise however. The immense number of key seniors they the Cardinals graduated this spring has been well documented. Still, they still have Steve Cuipa at QB, the electrifying Mike Kelley in the backfield along with returning starters Nick Cooke and Kyle Karaska. Senior Kyle Remillard also showed that he can make some plays out there as well. Everyone knows BG won't be as dominant as they were last year. But they are still good enough to be a top 5 team in NH.

6) Nashua South
Ok, so last year South had a high powered offense but no defense. By season's end they finished a disappointing 6th place in the division after winning the title in 2008. So how is this year going to be any different than 2009? Well for one, I have them ranked as the #5 team in the division, which is only 1 spot better than last year. Also, the defense simply CANNOT get any worse than it was last season, especially at a football school like South. If I know Coach Knight he won't allow it to happen. They have nowhere to go but on that side of the ball. And offensively they will be right there with Salem as the top 2 offenses in the state. Senior QB Keith Farkas led the Purple Panthers to the title as a sophomore. He's ready for a big year, and he has 3 talented weapons at his disposal in Armond McRae, Nilsson Basora and Derek Paradis. These guys will put up A LOT of points. If their defense can turn things around they will move up in the rankings very soon. If not they could once again be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

7) Winnacunnet
QB Steve Cronan enters his 3rd year starting under center for the Warriors. For the past couple years though, his favorite receivers were Harry Knowles, Jesse Gould and Jason Busfield. All 3 players have graduated. And judging from their play in scrimmages, the side of the ball where Winnacunnet needs the most work is actually on defense. Still, this is a very well coached team led by Ron Auffant. They have a certain toughness and grittiness that I really enjoyed watching last season when I covered their games. Cronan is in for a big year, as is running back Bret Taylor and linebacker Mike Trainor. The Warriors have enough other players back from last year's squad to make them a tough opponent for anyone. I have them ranked #2 in D-II behind BG, but the gap between the Cardinals and them is definitely smaller than it was a year ago. If there's one D-II team that's actually happy Guertin that stayed put it's Winnacunnet, because now they get a chance to get some revenge and finally beat their rival.

8) Souhegan
For the 3rd year in a row Souhegan has the talent to be able to compete with the big boys in Divisions I and II. Last year was clearly the best team, and it would have been VERY interesting to see how they would have done against a team like BG, Salem or North. The Sabers graduate key players Steven Jellison, DJ Petropulos, Sean Cultera, Colin Cray and Tyler Wing and had lineman Wes Crowell transfer to Worcester Academy. But as they showed Friday night they still have plenty of talent. They only beat Manchester West by a touchdown, but they still showed some signs of their dominance from the past couple years. Plus they played that game without stud WR Brendan McKenna, a possible Division I player at the next level. The one concern for them from that game has to be stopping the run. West QB Aaron Martin ran for nearly 150 yards in just 2 quarters of play.

9) Exeter
It is a credit to the program that Coach Ball has put together over at Exeter that virtually every player who got significant playing time last year has graduated and his team still makes the top 10. This will be Exeter's first season in Division I after moving up from D-II. With their track record, nobody is doubting that the Blue Hawks can handle the switch. But with how much they lost, and how little amount of starters they have returning, this is not expected to be one of the stronger Exeter teams in recent years. So while Coach Ball welcomes the challenge of playing in D-I, I'm sure if there's one season he'd pick to not be the team's first in it's new division it would be this one. Two players in particular who are returning for Exeter are OL/DL Brad Tiernan, a fierce pass rusher and solid offensive lineman and Jamie Tymann, who started 6 games last year in place of Carson Cross (who was out with mono). Tymann did a very nice job of running the offense when he was in there. Both Tiernan and Tymann are only juniors, so watch out for them in 2012!

10) Alvirne
After years of being a struggling program, Coach Nimblett has really done some positive things to get them headed in the right direction over the last couple years. They made the D-II playoffs last year and I expect them to be an even stronger team this season. Alvirne returns playmakers like Jesse Horn, Jonathan Baldwin, Sean Sipsey and Evan Anaya. These are all guys who help the team on both sides of the football. The Broncos get the nod for the #10 spot over Londonderry. The Lancers graduated nearly all of their key players from a team that missed the playoffs last year. So Alvirne gets the nod for now. They have a tough test week 1 though against #3 ranked Central.

Just missing the cut: Londonderry, Plymouth

43 comments:

  1. I will play it safe and wait until after week 1 to make my predictions. Good luck everyone!!

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  2. MY THOUGHTS ON YOUR THOUGHTS,division 1 is loaded this year.Memorial is my sleeper team to make some noise,they are very big up front.Exeter is also going to surprise some people with how physical they are.It will be a dogfight every week in division 1.I will be surprised if Salem runs the table,cuz central,pinkerton,and north can play with anybody.I see Londonderry and Concord struggling this year.When it is all said and done,SALEM,NORTH,CENTRAL,AND EXETER make the playoffs.

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  3. One thing we won't hear this year is division 2 is better then division 1, that ship has sailed.West got dropped from d1,and I don't see them making the playoffs in d2.This years Bg team certainly has holes,but should have enough talent to hold off Winnie whose defense looked suspect.I am not sold on Alvirne,Merrimack can't pass,Spaulding rebuilding,dover not much.Keene,who knows.I see alot of 4-4 teams battling it out for the 3rd and 4th spots.I forsee some ugly games coming out of this division this year.

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  4. Agreed 10:37 AM
    D2 is down this year.

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  5. Kudos Jeremy,very few {if any} sportswriters put in as much effort as you do with these power rankings.You do your homework and should be commended for it.Keep up the good work.

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  6. Nashua south most underrated team this season mark my words. You will be absolutely SHOCKED. STATEMENT. 8/30/10.

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  7. South is not underrated they were State Champs two years ago and are considered one of the true threats to win this year. I was at the Jamboree and folks I spoke to said they look very good in their scrimmagers. I think D1 is wide open this year with some great teams going at it.

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  8. Actually most everyone is picking Souths Offense as 'maybe' second to only Salem. I guess if anything the defense could be underrated. Time will tell.

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  9. South's offense will be good if they have a great running back like Zocco two years ago. if not the defense can put too many people back in pass coverage. That s why they were not great last year. Souhegan might have same problem if not a great back there as well.

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  10. South will definitely be good. I don't think the kids or the coaches will allow a repeat performance of last year.

    There hasn't been much talk about Londonderry either. They just missed the playoffs last year, and are a perennial contender. Not much mention of them on this blog.

    Don't know much about Concord, but South, North, Salem, Exeter, Memorial Londonderry, Pinkerton and Central are all playoff caliber teams. 3 of these teams won't make the playoffs, and that won't be because they had a bad season, it's the gruel of this year's Division 1, easily the best division in the stat. Any of these 7 would beat the best from D2 or D3!

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  11. I will try to be objective but I will state right out front that I am a Pinkerton fan. I think that Jeremy has it right and obviously he sees more teams than I do (No disrespect Alvirne) I just don't know anything about anyone but D1 and some of D2 aside from Souhegan from reading here. Until Salem loses they have to be the favorite, North because they return so many people has to be up there and I thought that at the end of the season last year Central was playing at a high level, not sure who they returned. South should have a good offense but I think the last poster is right, they might be missing the running back that can keep good defenses honest. Pinkerton is young but they are very balanced and have great depth at some positions. I think the O line will be OK as they get game experience and the D is very solid. BG will be good as always but won't be able to live up to last year’s team, that was a special team and would have beaten Salem handily. I am not really sure where Exeter is but nothing would surprise me there as they run a great program and always play hard as does Winni. With that being said I am predicting, Salem, Pinkerton, North, and Central in the playoffs and not necessarily in that order.

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  12. South may not have a Zocco, but they do have talented backs. No team not named Salem can match Paradise and McRae. Jeremy has them ranked 7 and 8 in the entire state. I'd put them both in the top 6. And if this wasn't such a unusual year for running backs, they'd be higher! I agree with what Jeremy. They play defense and they're a top 3 team. By the way, my compliments Jeremy.

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  13. Besides Salem, Pinkerton has the best backfield this year, with Davies, Mazzola, Latimore, Smith, and Somers. They are not speed demons but they are bruising. They won't be the best tandem in the state but they will be the best combo platter and they will always be fresh, mark my word defenses will get worn down early in games by this backfield.

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  14. South has plenty coming back, 9:44 only mentions 2 out of the many in South's talent pool.

    The dark horses in this year's D1 race are Exeter and Londonderry. Not much talk about what they have. We'll all find out on Friday, assuming the hurricane doesn't wreck things for the kids.

    Best of luck to all players and coaches! Stay healthy players!

    Finally, to all posters, please keep Cooper Doucette in your thoughts this season and let's all pull for this kid. If you'd like to know how to help Cooper, please visit

    www.supacoop.org.

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  15. your report is so much better then the union leaders,he mailed that in,he is usually better then that.

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  16. Souhegan is showing a lot of depth at running back. Between seniors Dwinell and Calvetti and juniors O'Connell and Doheny they have plenty of depth, all are tough runners that are fast in the open field

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  17. All four of those kids are not good running backs and Dwinell is the only good football player you mentioned. He is tough and one hell of a linebacker I would view him more as a defensive player not a running back

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  18. Calvetti is excellent, Dwinell is great, and O'Connell and NELSON are explosive and should be entertaining next year. Wrong, 7:20.

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  19. Nelson moved to Chicago, Doheny took his place. And although Dwinell is not a "true" running back, he sure is one hell of an athlete and very versatile on the field. He showed last year playing running back, guard, and backer. Calvetti can juke and cut, O'Connell is a mixture of speed and power and is a tough runner for his size, and the new kid Doheny seems to be about power and open field speed.

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  20. Winnacunnet will be the division 2 champs. It's their year with the talent their seniors have. No doubt about it

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  21. Londonderry completley shut alvirne down last friday.....

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  22. Re: 7:06

    There you go, no one should not look past Londonderry on the schedule this year. They will compete.

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  23. North picked by WMUR/UnionLeader as number one team in their first poll. I am sure coaches from Salem, Pinkerton, Central and South are just fine with that. Good Luck to all the teams "Great to be talking football"

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  24. 9:24 Winnacunnet might have something to say about that before tonight is over!!

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  25. 9:21
    Naw, you don't take a spanking by a div 3 team and compete in div 1.

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  26. Souhegan just smacked a D 1 on their home field without much difficulty - moving on up the power ratings...

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  27. Remember this note:
    Don't know much about Concord, but South, North, Salem, Exeter, Memorial Londonderry, Pinkerton and Central are all playoff caliber teams. 3 of these teams won't make the playoffs, and that won't be because they had a bad season, it's the gruel of this year's Division 1, easily the best division in the stat. Any of these 7 would beat the best from D2 or D3!

    Well the two best of D1 got beat by the two Best of D2 - Maybe D2 is still better than D1........

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  28. Time for a ralignment of the Power Pole don't you think?

    BG, Winni, Souhegan - 1-2-3 in some order.....

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  29. LEts set the Thanksgiving day game between the winners of D1 and D2.....

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  30. Your right, Only Pinkerton and Man Central took care of D1 Business this week and in the QCJ. I still think that Man Central is a team to watch. I am not saying that Salem, North, and South are not very good teams but the pre-season hype might have been a bit much

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  31. OK,
    Week 1 is over. This week Pinkerton #1. Salem was exposed in the Jamboree they have not jelled yet, BG beat nobody. Central is #2. BG #3 not because of the Salem game but because they hung in with Pinkerton at the Jamboree. In the end however, I think that Salem will win D1, Winny will win D2 and SHS will win D3.

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  32. RE: 8:35

    The top two of D2 definitely got the better of D1. I thought that BG/Salem would have been competitive.

    North/Win. was competitive as Win. on the last play of the game. Nonetheless, Win. should be credited for playing a good game.

    However, to say that D2 is better than D1 is silly. D1, as a whole now, not just 1 or two teams, is better because it's deeper. D1 has 6 teams capable of winning the title. D2 has only two title contenders, BG and Win. Neither team will lose a game until they play each other.

    D3 is even weaker in that there's one dominant team, Souhegan, and they will not have any competition. Their only threat is Portsmouth who got completely skewered by South.

    In my mind, Souhegan, BG, and Win. all made good cases this weekend to be included in D1 and play a full D1 schedule.

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  33. Salem has no defense, their coach admitted this in an article from the Salem newspaper. After yesterdays spanking by BG I have to agree.
    Light em' up D-1 !

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  34. Pinkerton makes a statement; Beats a D2 team by 26! When was the last time a D1 team has done that to a D2 team?

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  35. Trinity for D4 and Windham for D5. Who cares about D6, but probably Inter-lakes.

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  36. Also Bedford has some potential in D3

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  37. Yeah, Souhegan may have some trouble with Bedford and Goffstown, but I don't imagine it'll be much tougher than the Londonderry game to be honest. Portsmouth is just a facade of the past two years and should finish fourth in D-III. Souhegan over Goffstown is my guess in the ship by two scores probably. D-III is on the rise this year a bit after hitting rock bottom last year, the exception being that ridiculus Souhegan team.

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  38. I'm 3:21, forget what I just said. Goffstown got drummed pretty good by Concord 22-7. Souhegan will roll just like the past two years through D-III if they can find a way to stop Garron over in Bedford. My B, lol

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  39. As a Souhegan fan, I do think Bedford poses a major threat. Hines knows Coach B better than anybody, and Garron, a phenomal runner, will give their D fits. I expect an offensive high schoring game and the difference will be if Luks can both move the ball and kill clock to keep an explosive kid like Garron off the field.

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  40. PINKERTON BEAT A BOTTOM TIER DIVISION 2 TEAM BY 26,WHOOPIE.lET'S SEE HOW THEY DO AGAINST SOUTH THIS WEEK.

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  41. When is your new power poll coming out? I look forward to yours more then the union leaders.

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  42. South is loaded and Pinkerton will have their hands full. Should be a great test for both teams.

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