Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NH Notebook Football Power Rankings - Week 10

Here's how I see it right now. Once again, my rankings differ from the norm quite a bit.

For the first time in a few weeks I only have 10 teams ranked on here. Although Timberlane, Trinity, Keene and Londonderry are all good teams, the 10 teams listed here are a notch above right now.

Without any further ado, here are the top 10 teams in NH as of today, broken up into four tiers.

The Consensus #1

1) Pinkerton
This is the 4th straight week I've had Pinkerton ranked #1. They just keep on winning, and against good teams too. The Astros did have a close call on Friday night vs. Central, but prevailed 20-13 (although there has been some controversy over one of their TD's in that game). Some teams win by 30+ points one week and then get blown out the next. Pinkerton meanwhile just wins games. No superstars. Last year's team with Ben Proulx, Eric Guinto, Ryan Simpson and CJ Trieb had more talent. But that team lost 5 games and lost in the D-I semi-finals. This year the Astros have a more balanced, well rounded team and as a result they're the current #1 team in the state. I know that some people will say that with a school that has over 3,500 kids and has the facilities they do that Pinkerton SHOULD be the best the best team. But you still have to give them credit for doing more this year than they did last year when they had more talent.

3 Teams No One Wants to Play Right Now

2) Dover
Dover continues to be on a roll. They've won 6 games in a row, and no other team in D-I, D-II or D-III can say that. They've won games against good teams (BG, Keene and Londonderry), they've won games despite starters being injured (QB Tyler Zabkar), and they've allowed a total of just 15 points in their last 5 game against D-II opponents. Senior Kyle Wilson is possibly the best defensive player in the state. Is that enough reasons to justify putting them in this spot? I thought so.

3) Nashua South
South is really starting to hit their stride. They've won 5 of their last 6 games. And the one loss came in overtime, and with 2 starters being injured. Nobody is scoring points at as high of a clip or as consistently as this team. The Purple Panthers have scored at least 38 points in each of their last 6 games, and have scored a total of 252 points during that span. When I saw them play the only weakness I saw in their team was their pass defense, which looked very shaky. Fortunately for them their biggest competition for D-I supremacy is Pinkerton, and the Astros very rarely throw the football. One team that has a pretty good balance between the run and the pass is Central, who travels to Stellos Stadium to play South on Friday night. South is looking to lock up home field advantage, while Central needs a win to get into the playoffs. Should be an exciting night of football in Nashua.

4) Bishop Guertin
BG is ranked #4, and Keene isn't even ranked. But if Keene beats Guertin on Saturday night then Keene will actually be a higher seeded team in the D-II playoffs. Go figure. That being said, the chances of that happening are looking very slim right now considering the way the two teams are playing right now, and also considering Keene has the long bus rise to Stellos. BG is playing good football right now, and they keep getting healthier by the week. They're a scary team right now, and you know that they are just praying that they get another shot at Dover in the playoffs to avenge their loss to the Green Wave a few weeks ago.

The Order For These Next 5 is Up For Debate, but Here's How I See It

5) Nashua North
Lost to Merrimack Friday night, but they were up 7-6 when both teams removed their starters from the game after 1 quarter of play. Not really a game you can take anything from. A game that was case in point for why the NHIAA is dropping the ball as far as scheduling and division alignment goes. I said it last season and I'll say it again. Please NHIAA, no more meaningless inter-division games in the middle of the season...PLEASE. Back to the Titans. They've rebounded with 2 straight wins after losing 2 games in a row to Salem and South. And I know it was awhile ago now, but this is also a team that has beaten Pinkerton, Londonderry and Central...by 3 scores each. As long as they avoid an upset and beat Exeter this Saturday North is a shoe-in for a playoff spot. Earlier on this season they looked like the best team in the state. But when they lost back to back games you had to wonder if they were a playoff team. So which team are they? We'll find out over the next couple weeks. Last time I saw them play was when they beat Pinkerton 33-7. They sure as heck looked like the #1 team in NH that day. That was a long time ago though. Like Salem, North is an excellent team on paper. Their offense has been good all year. But their defense has gone downhill as the season has gone on. If Coach Robie can get the "D" back on track watch out for this squad.

6) Manchester Central
If that touchdown got called back, and if Central ended up beating Pinkerton on Friday night who knows what these rankings would look like right now. That was a big game for Central, because they showed they could play with the big boys after they got blown out by both North and Salem earlier in the season. The Little Green are still the only team to beat a very good Souhegan team. Still, unless they can beat #3 ranked South on Friday night these guys will likely be on the outside looking in come playoff time. South has a high powered offense, the question will be whether Central can keep up with their team speed. South's weakness is their pass defense, so look for QB Jared Chandler to air it out downfield and test those Purple Panther DB's.

7) Souhegan
The Sabers continue to beat up on their Division III opponents. Offensively and defensively this team is really hitting on all cylinders right now. It is tough to see anyone in the division giving them a game. Portsmouth is the only one to give them a game, but since then the Clippers lost to a Goffstown team that might not even make the playoffs. As long as Souhegan stays healthy and stays focused they should easily win their 3rd straight D-III crown. And once again we will have an entire off-season to debate just how they would stack up if they were in D-I or D-II. Since we'll never know for sure, all you can do is give credit to Coach Beliveau for the program he has built over there. As others have pointed out on this site, there are other talented players who are Amherst residents who play for other teams like Andrew Crane (BG), Blake Boudreau (BG), CJ Boykin (BG) and Trevor Knight (South). The fact that Souhegan doesn't have any of these guys, they graduated A LOT of talent over the last 2 years and their school has less than 900 students and they are STILL able to dominate is VERY impressive.

8) Winnacunnet
The Warriors got a good 26-9 win over Keene this weekend, but it was a costly one. Grant Hamel is out for the season with a broken leg. Hamel has been a key member of the team, emerging as one of QB Steve Cronan's favorite targets. He is also important for the Warriors on special teams, returning kicks. In the loss to BG a couple weeks ago Hamel ran a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. It was one of only 2 TD's Winnacunnet scored that game. They were just starting to work Trainor, Paster and Taylor back into the lineup, so this injury really hurts. This is still a dangerous team, but right now Dover and BG are a notch above the rest in Division II.

9) Salem
This is a good team, and they have as much individual talent as anyone in NH. But I can't justify ranking them higher than this. I just got a chance to watch the film from their game vs. Concord last weekend. Concord isn't a bad team, but they're also not even a playoff contender and a team that the Blue Devils should have beaten. Instead they lost by 2 touchdowns, their second loss in a row. Salem has given up a total of 80 points in their last 2 games, after it seemed like they were starting to fix their defensive woes when they smothered the offenses of both Timberlane and Exeter. They now have a MUST WIN game on Friday night vs. Londonderry if they hope to make the playoffs. In Salem's defense, they have gotten everybody's best game this year because of all the preseason hype they got. All of that being said, they still have a shot at the title if they can beat the Lancers and win 2 playoff games. They have the talent to do it. But the games aren't played on paper.

Best Story in NH Football This Year is...

10) Lebanon
For the last several weeks it has been Trinity getting the love, as they've been placing somewhere between 9th-11th in my rankings each week. Lebanon was also undefeated in Division IV though, and they had beaten all the same teams that Trinity had. The Pioneers got the nod though, because their wins were by a larger margin and also because they were a bigger, faster team than Trinity. But on Friday night that didn't matter. Trinity might have been bigger and faster, but Lebanon was more disciplined, they played harder and they competed for all 4 quarters. As a result, they went on the road to play Trinity and won 14-6. Even though Pioneers fullback Ryan Carrier suffered a concussion halfway through the game it was a very impressive win for the Raiders. Before this Friday night Lebanon was the best kept secret in NH football, but now the secret is out. Now everybody knows just how good Cody Patch, Alexander Morrill, Chris Barker, Dylan Drew, Jon Roth, Micah Morton and the rest of this Lebanon team is. They are clearly the favorite this Saturday in their semi-final game vs. Monadnock, and a possible rematch with Trinity looms in 2 weeks.

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