Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NH Notebook Football Power Rankings - Week 5

Here's the updated Power Rankings for week 5. It's no coincidence that the top 3 teams listed are also the 3 best defensive teams in the state. 4 of the top 5 come from Division I, and there are actually more D-III squads in this week's top 10 than D-II.

Without any further ado, here are this week's top 10 football teams in the NHIAA.

1) Pinkerton - Another week, and another win over one of the top football teams in the state. I already wrote this in the story about their win from this past weekend over Salem, but in 4 games this season the Astros have outscored their opponents 170-28 - yikes! These guys are a machine, and simply on another level compared to the rest of the state. Exeter might be able to give them a game, and the Brockton game in a couple weeks could be VERY interesting. In Saturday's blowout win over Salem, the Astros defense held Jerickson Fedrick to just 50 yards rushing on 11 carries, while Kevin Davies ran for 142 yards and a TD, Emmitt Smith ran for 72 yards and a TD, Manny Latimore had 35 yards rushing and a TD, QB Chris St. Onge threw 2 TD passes to Ryan Coombs (who also played DB, returned punts and did all of the kicking duties). Brett Liporto, Adam Olson and Jesse Trottier all came up big as well. Folks, if you haven't gotten a chance to see Pinkerton yet, do it - they're a special team.

2) Exeter - There's no question Exeter is playing some great football right now. They have outscored their opponents 139-13. However they haven't exactly played the toughest schedule. With Spaulding, Concord, Londonderry and Winnacunnet being their victims so far, Exeter has played the weakest schedule so far of any D-I team. That continues this week when they take on 1-3 Memorial. Whether the Blue Hawks will continue to steamroll the competition when they play better teams remains to be seen, but the bottom line is Exeter lost to Concord, Londonderry and Winnacunnet last year. So the fact that they not only beat those teams this season but they blew all 3 of them out tells you that they are a MUCH improved football team.

3) Bishop Guertin - With every week that goes by, and Pinkerton beats another good team by 30 or 40 points it makes BG look better and better since they only lost to the mighty Astros by 16. Yes, Pinkerton did come up empty 3 times in the red zone that game, so they could have won it 37-0 instead of 16-0. But that has as much to do with BG stepping up and making plays defensively as it did Pinkerton's lack of execution on offense. Bottom line, nobody has been able to slow down the Astros offense this season except for BG. And on Saturday night vs. Merrimack the Cardinal's offense was also able to kick it into high gear, especially in the 2nd half when they scored 28 of their 37 points. Sophomore speedster CJ Boykin returned from injury and went off for 216 total yards and 2 TD's. QB Tommy Vailas (filling in for injured starter Bob Fahey) threw for 119 yards and 2 TD's, and he found receiver Nate Chartrand for most of those yards. So the defense (led by Jimmy Carver) is stopping everybody and the offense is just now really starting to click. Not only that, but they're also started to get healthy. Boykin and linebacker Blake Boudreau both returned to the lineup vs. Merrimack, and RB/DB Nick Marino is also expected to return soon. That just leaves Fahey and WR/DB Brody Smith as the remaining injured Cardinals. Once they get back, watch out. With Keene losing to West and Timberlane losing to Alvirne over the weekend it looks like BG is in a class of their own in D-II.

4) Nashua South - South took care of business on Friday night with a 31-6 win over Memorial. They've now beaten 3 good teams in Memorial, Lowell (MA) and Dover, beating 2 of those teams by 3 scores or more and with 2 of those wins coming on the road. Of course the only blemish was a blowout loss to Pinkerton. But everyone has gotten blown out vs. Pinkerton (except BG which is why South is 1 spot behind BG). And in the Pinkerton game, South was actually only down 21-14 at halftime before they had 3 of their best players (Derek Paradis, Julier Rivera and Trevor Knight) get injured and leave the game. Those guys have all been back for the last couple weeks, and this is a Purple Panther tam that is no doubt a top 4 team in NH.

5) Salem - Salem is definitely a top 5 team, with quality wins over Keene, Central and Memorial. But South gets the nod over them because they played Pinkerton tougher and also Memorial is another common opponent that Salem and South both have - South beat Memorial by 25 while Salem only beat them by 10. The Blue Devils have one of the best backfields around with Jerickson Fedrick, Abner Rodriguez and Rasheed Adigun, but in the Pinkerton game on Saturday the defense was really exposed and they will have to work on that if they hope to beat teams like Exeter and South. Mike Downing is a good defensive back, but other guys will have to step up on defense, especially the front 7.

6) Hollis-Brookline - Hollis is a great story so far. They really flew under the radar in the preseason (except for their season preview video that was featured on this site). In D-III all the talk was about Souhegan going for a 4th title in and row, Portsmouth was once again a top challenger, Bedford was bringing a lot of talent back and some were even predicting the Bulldogs to win the title, Goffstown had a new coach and a talented new QB and Milford had a nationally ranked girls soccer player as their kicker. Meanwhile Hollis flew under the radar, despite the fact that they brought back the majority of their starters from a team that not only made the playoffs last year but gave Souhegan all they could handle in the semi-final. So what have they done? They beat D-I Memorial in week 1 (the school's first ever game vs. a D-I team) and then in their first 2 games of D-III play the Cavaliers have outscored their opponents 78-14, including a 35-0 shutout of Souhegan. Portsmouth and Goffstown have also beaten Souhegan already, but only by 1 score, Hollis beat them by 5 TD's! The Cavs are led by their veteran offensive line - Robert Boiven and Zach Mignault are both 4-year starters, and Glenn Morgan is a 3-year starter. Those guys open up holes for senior running back Colin Pellerin, who rushed for 1,006 yards last year, including 223 rushing yards vs. Milford. Senior Nate Ferenczhalmy has also been a play maker for this team.

7) Manchester Central - Central got another good win this weekend, beating North 34-6. Their win over Portsmouth in week 1 was also a quality win. They showed in their 50-28 loss to Salem that they're not quite in that top tier of teams with Pinkerton, Exeter, BG, South and Salem, but North is not a bad football team and they crushed them, and they beat Portsmouth but just barely. So Central is once again, ranked right where they should be. It looks like Coach Ray's decision to move Riley QB to the starting role and Jared Chandler from QB to WR was a good one, as both players have really started to thrive in their new roles.

8) Portsmouth - I went into pretty great detail in last week's Power Rankings article explaining why I had Portsmouth, Goffstown and Dover ranked in the order that I did. And nothing happened last weekend to change that order. Portsmouth took care of business with a 41-7 win over a struggling Pelham team, Goffstown had a bye week, and Dover beat Spaulding 19-0. I was a little surprised Dover didn't beat Spaulding by more, especially considering they beat Winnacunnet 28-0. But hey, that's why Portsmouth and Goffstown are ranked ahead of them (although I still maintain all 3 of these teams are VERY close as far as how good they are).

9) Goffstown - see Portsmouth.

10) Dover - see Portsmouth.

Just missing the cut: Keene, Trinity

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