Thursday, October 14, 2010
NH Notebook Football Power Poll - Week 7
Another week, another Power Poll. Here's how I see it this week. Last week I had an honorary 11th team. This week I can't help but recognize 13 teams.
Injuries are really starting to play a role here. Like I have said in the past, this Poll shows how good each team is RIGHT NOW. If at any given time, 2 teams played each other on a neutral field the team ranked higher would be the favorite. So if a player's star player is out for a month they will move down in the poll until they're healthy.
Without any further ado, here's how I see it.
Winnacunnet would remain #1, but they have a key injury right now. Pinkerton is the next best team. They have just 1 loss on the season, and that came with Luke Somers (arguably their best player) out of the lineup with an injury. Somers (pictured above) is healthy now and the Astros are back to playing well, although they did only beat Exeter by a touchdown. They're not exactly a dominating #1 team. Just shows the parity we have in the state right now. This Friday night the Astros get a chance to prove they're worthy of this spot when they take on Brockton, one of the top teams in Massachusetts.
Salem has had a roller coaster year so far, and has 2 good wins in the last 2 weeks. They beat Nashua North a couple weeks ago, in a game they led 34-0 at one point and last week they blew out Timberlane 48-7. Two good wins against 2 teams who were both ranked in my top 10 at the time. Still, the #2 spot is normally going to be a tad high for a team that has 2 losses at this point in the season. Again, it shows the parity we have.
I know that one player doesn't make a team, and that's why Winnacunnet only drops 2 spots for me. But Mike Trainor is a very important player for the Warriors. He's their leading rusher, their best defender and he's the team's second best player after QB Steve Cronan. Trainor suffered a dislocated shoulder this past weekend vs. Alvirne. He's out for at least 2 weeks if not more. The Warriors had a nice win week 1 over North, but since then the combined record of the teams they've beaten is 6-24. Still, this is a good football team that is still unbeaten. They will miss Trainor more on defense than they will on offense. They still have Ben Fee and Bret Taylor to carry the ball (along with Cronan running the option), but defensively Trainor is one of the hardest hitters in the state and they'll miss that. As long as they can have him back for the playoffs though they should be fine.
4) Nashua South
Big win for the Purple Panthers last week over a struggling Nashua North team. Going into that game I think most people thought the top 3 teams in D-I were Salem, Pinkerton and North (in any order) with South and Central a notch below fighting for the 4th spot. But South proved those people wrong by winning easily over North. After seeing South play vs. Memorial thought they'd have trouble beating Concord, but they clearly got better since then as they ran through the Crimson. Are they for real or not? Their game vs. Salem in 2 weeks should tell us.
5) Manchester Central
I called them out before the Souhegan game and said how the only times they've played good teams this year they have lost and lost badly. So beating the Sabers was a big win for them. They just barely beat a Londonderry team that is 1-5. I'm still not completely sold on this team. But they have been traditionally better during the second half of the season.
The Sabers were #6 before the loss to Central and then dropped to #8. But with the issues that BG and North are having right now they are back in the #6 spot, right behind the team that beat them. Souhegan is a talented team, and the win they had over Portsmouth is looking more impressive by the week.
They might not be an offensive juggernaut, but there's no denying the Green Wave are one of the hottest teams in the state right now. Don't look at the record, because I don't. I look at how teams are playing RIGHT NOW. The Green Wave are coming off one of the biggest wins the program has had in the last 5 years, as they beat Bishop Guertin on Saturday night 7-0. They have won 3 in a row, outscoring their opponents 89-0 in the process. And yes, they do have 3 losses, but that was in the beginning of the year, and each of them were just a 1 possession game. Who knows, they might go winless the rest of the way. But right now Dover is a top 10 team. Anyone who disagrees is crazy.
8) Bishop Guertin
After their week 1 blowout win over Salem they were my #1 team in the state. But after losing to Dover last week they're now at #8. Injuries have played a HUGE role in Guertin's fall from grace. A total of 14 players are injured right now, including key players like Mike Kelly, Kyle Karaska and Peter Fucci. QB Steve Cuipa continues to lead the way, and the Cardinals got an outstanding effort on both sides of the ball on Saturday from Alex Eaton. A game this weekend vs. Manchester West is just got the doctor ordered for this team. Then we'll find out how good BG and Winnacunnet both really are in 2 weeks when they square off in Hampton.
9) Nashua North
My how the mighty have fallen. Just a couple weeks ago North was riding high and sitting pretty atop the poll after blowout wins over both Pinkerton and Central. But over the last couple weeks they haven't been able to stop anybody on defense. They were down 34-0 to Salem, and then they lost by 3 scores to a South team that wasn't even considered a title contender at the time. Luckily for them, they end the season with games vs. Concord, Memorial, Merrimack and Exeter, all teams who will likely miss the playoffs. We know the Titans can put up points, but they will have to fix their defense if they want to get back to the D-I title game.
Trinity continues to roll past everybody they play in Division IV, winning their last 3 games by a 129-23 margin. Their date with Lebanon looms in 3 weeks in a game where both teams could be undefeated. But the Pioneers shouldn't look past their opponent this weekend or else they've get beat. Kennett is a good team, and Trinity has a long bus ride to play them. Although the Eagles did have a disappointing blowout loss to Monadnock this past weekend.
Tough injury for the Blackbirds. If they were healthy I would have them ranked higher, right around where Dover and BG are. But they lost starting running back Chris Lacroix on Friday night with a dislocated patella. They injury happened right at the beginning of the 2nd half of their game with Merrimack, and to Keene's credit they were still able to persevere and pull out the win. They were able to beat Merrimack without Lacroix, but they just barely beat them. Whether they can beat teams like Dover, Timberlane, BG and Winnacunnet without their senior captain is a whole different story. Lacroix is out for at least 2 weeks, possibly more. This team definitely has some good talent though, on both sides of the ball. Players like Jimmy Boulay, Lucas Luopa, Taylor Russel and Matt Cunningham will keep this team competitive.
They get knocked out of my top 10 by losing to Salem this past Saturday 48-7. This is till a good team, though. And they get a chance to prove it on Friday night vs. Winnacunnet. Before that game the Owls won 3 in a row, all by double digits. But none of those 3 teams they beat have winning records. Friday night is a big game for this team. They're at home, and they're facing a Warriors team playing without Trainor. If they want to be considered a top 10 team then they will win that game.
Coach Murphy, his staff and his players deserve some credit. Every year they graduate talented seniors and every year they continue to compete. Bedford and Goffstown were both more highly touted going into the year, and both teams seemed to be better on paper. But there's no question that right now Portsmouth is the second best team in D-III. Milford is not a bad team (they beat Bedford easily), but the Clippers stomped them, 40-0. Bill Lane, Quinn McCann and Co. are playing some very good football right now. Portsmouth has won 3 in a row, outscoring their opponents 141-27. Yikes! They only lost to Souhegan by 9, and you can bet the Clippers are salivating for a rematch.
Best of luck to both Trainor and Lacroix, as well as Kelly with their recoveries. Especially since they're all seniors, you hate to see serious injuries like this happen and hope for a quick recovery so they're able to hopefully come back healthy for the playoffs.
And yes Lebanon, if there was a 14th team in the poll it would be you. But I have to cut it off somewhere!