Monday, October 18, 2010
NH Notebook Football Power Rankings - Week 8
Ok, so I have changed the title of the post to NH Notebook Football Power Rankings. Like a commenter said, it's only me voting so I shouldn't call it a poll. Touché.
Where I have some of the teams this week is going to surprise some people. But I've seen all 11 of these teams play, most of them multiple times (who else can say that?). I'm taking into account injuries, and also how the teams are playing RIGHT NOW. So I put more weight into a team's recent games than I do their early season performances.
Last week I ranked 13 teams. But the #11 team (Keene) and the #13 team (Portsmouth) both lost last weekend to get bumped from the list. Keene got blown out by Dover and Portsmouth lost to a Goffstown team that might not even make the D-III playoffs.
So now we have 11 teams. Here's how I have them ranked and why.
I had Pinkerton ranked #1 last week, and they gave me no reason to take them down last weekend. Yes, they did lose their most recent game. But if anything I think even more highly of Pinkerton now than I did a week ago. They went toe-to-toe with Brockton High, who is one of the best teams in the entire state of Massachusetts and a team that would beat anybody in NH. The Astros only trailed 13-8 at halftime and only lost 21-14. They even made it into the Brockton red zone in the game's final moments, coming VERY close to tying the game up before QB Chris St. Onge threw an INT. After playing that game on Friday night, going back now and playing NH teams will be a breeze. I wouldn't want to be Concord this Saturday.
I feel good about Pinkerton in the #1 spot, especially since Salem lost to Pinkerton just a couple weeks ago. But the Blue Devils are definitely NOT far behind the Astros. It is really looking like these two teams are a step above the rest of D-I right now. Salem has scored a whopping 157 points in their last 3 games. This is THE best offense in the state. And while they were having some problems on defense before they have allowed just 20 points in the last 2 games. Coach Gati's team has lost 2 games. But one of them was to BG who then jumped to #1 in my rankings. And the other loss was to Pinkerton, who is #1 right now. No reason Salem should be any lower than this right now.
This ranking might come as a surprise to some, but I am 100% certain that this is where they belong. Yes, I know they started off the season with losses to Exeter, Winnacunnet and Merrimack. But they were all VERY close losses. And also, that was then and this is now. The Green Wave are a completely different football team right now. And that how I rank teams, on how they're playing RIGHT NOW. Nobody outside of Salem or Pinkerton is playing better football right now. In the last 4 games over has outscored their opponents 141-7. During that stretch they went on the road and beat Bishop Guertin, becoming the first NH team to beat them in 2 years. Then last week they walloped previously undefeated Keene 52-7. They're playing as good of defense as anyone right now, and Kyle Wilson is making a case for being the state's best defensive player. I give a ton of credit to Coach Osbon, his staff and team. Nobody thought Dover would be the best team in D-II this year. Right now that's exactly what they are. They just have to keep it up.
4) Manchester Central
I'm not completely sold on this team. Afterall, they got hammered by both Salem and North, they've only beaten one good team so far and they have just BARELY beaten Memorial and Londonderry over the last couple weeks (neither team is in the top 10). That being said, Memorial is a D-I team with a 4-3 record (they're not horrible) and Londonderry just beat South. So the Little Green have beaten 3 pretty good teams in the last 3 weeks. I also can't justify putting any other team in the #4 spot. There are just more reasons to rank the teams below Central lower than there are for central to be lower. Keep reading to see what I mean.
Souhegan lost to Central just a couple weeks ago. And while they have won their 2 games since that loss and outscored their opponents 95-14, neither win came against a top 10 team while Central hasn't lost since beating Souhegan. The Sabers still have not beaten a team ranked in the top 10. They're a good team, and with Portsmouth losing this past weekend Souhegan is the clear cut favorite in D-III. But I can't justify putting them any higher than this.
6) Bishop Guertin
BG is a very good team, with lots of talent, speed and one of the best defenses in the state. That being said, they've lost 2 of their last 3 games, and the one team they beat in that span was a team (Manchester West)that belongs in Division IV. The Cardinals have A LOT of injuries. And they have only beaten 1 team ranked in the top 10 without Mike Kelly. The 1 team was Timberlane. I have Guertin ranked ahead of them, but can't justify putting them any higher right now. Big game with Winnacunnet this weekend. he winner of that game could definitely be a top 5 team in my rankings at this time next week.
Big win over Winnacunnet on Friday night 26-14. I had the Owls ranked #12 last week, then they beat a Warriors team I had ranked #3. So they move up 5 spots to the #7 spot. I can't justify moving them up higher, since 2 weeks ago they lost 48-7, albeit to a very good Salem team. Also a question mark for them is the health of Nate Lawrence who was injured vs. Winnacunnet and didn't return. He is important to their team not only on offesne but on defense as well. There were a lot of backs who were getting more hype before the season than Timberlane's Nick Lawrence. But right now he is playing as well as anybody. The Owls game in 2 weeks with Dover should be VERY interesting.
Winnacunnet was my #1 ranked team for a couple weeks, and last week they were #3. But they haven't beaten a team with a winning record in over a month, they have 2 key players (RB/LB Mike Trainor and lineman Bryce Paster) out with injuries and neither is expected back this week and they just lost by 2 touchdowns to to a team that was ranked #12 last week. They fumbled 10 times in a game earlier in the year, and they fumbled 5 times in Friday night's loss. The Warriors are still a good team, with a lot of fight in them. But they don't belong any higher than #8 right now. They have a HUGE game with Bishop Guertin this Friday night (Yes, I WILL be covering it). Both teams are hampered by injuries right now, but both still have plenty of talent. Should be a fun evening in Hampton.
9) Nashua North
Their 17 point loss to South looks even worse now that The Purple Panthers just lost to Londonderry. I have North ahead of South because the Titans rebounded with a win over Concord while South lost to a 1 win Lancer team. Also, South has 2 key injuries and if the 2 teams played again this weekend my money would be one North. South is my #10 team due to injuries and loss to Londonderry. I can justify ranking North ahead of them, but just barely. Thus, North is my #9 team right now.
10) Nashua South
South goes from a big 38-21 win over a good North team to losing to a 1 win Londonderry team. What gives? Well 2 of the Purple Panthers' best players were injured in the Londonderry game. Speedy and athletic wideout Nilsson Basora suffered a shoulder injury just one player after catching a 60 yard pass. He didn't return and is out for 3 weeks. Also, defensive stud Allen Odell sprained his ankle and didn't return. Odell is VERY important to a South defense that already has trouble stopping people from scoring. Both players will be out for the team's game this Friday night vs. Salem.
I just can't justify putting them above the 10 teams above them. The teams ranked ahead of Trinity simply face a MUCH tougher schedule from week to week. Still, these guys do deserve credit. They had a better team last year than they do this year, yet this still moved up a division, from D-V to D-IV. And yet they still have managed to beat up on everyone they've played. The Pioneers have outscored their opponents 94-6 over the last 2 weeks, including a blowout win over a decent Kennett team. It's been over a month since anyone has even come within 3 touchdowns of this team. Did I mention how much I'm looking forward to the Trinity/Lebanon game on October 30?
My god, I used the phrase, "right now" so many times in this article you would have thought I was Van Halen! (Kids, ask your parents if you don't get it).