Monday, November 14, 2011

NH Notebook Football Power Rankings - Week 12

In last week's article it was kind of a combination of a Power Rankings column with a preview of the semi-final games in Divisions I, II and III. This week however, I will be doing a separate article later in the week where I will preview each of the championship games in those divisions. So for this article I will strictly be listing the top teams in the state and give my reasoning for why I have them ranked where I do.

So here goes. Once again, there are 2 teams ranked who missed the playoffs. And there's also one team who makes the rankings for the first time all year. My rankings might go against the grain a little, but that's fine with me. There's 13 teams ranked this week and I've seen ALL of them play, and 12 of these 13 teams I've seen play 2 times or more.

1) Pinkerton - The Astros have been the #1 team in the state this season and deservedly so. This past weekend in the D-I semi-finals Salem played them closer than most people (including me) thought they would. But Pinkerton was still able to take care of business. This is simply their year (as was last year).

2) Exeter - There's nothing wrong with the #2 spot. The Blue Hawks have not only beaten everybody they've played this season except for Pinkerton, but all of their wins have been by 2 scores or more. They're the EASY choice for the #2 spot, and that's something that deserves a lot of recognition since they went 0-8 in the division just last season.

3) Manchester Central - How does Central actually move up 1 spot despite the fact that they missed the playoffs? Simply put, they're the third best team in the state RIGHT NOW. I went into pretty good detail over the last couple weeks explaining why I had the Little Green ranked where I did. They move up one spot this week after last week's #3 team Bishop Guertin just BARELY escaped with a 29-26 win over an un-ranked Timberlane team. No way they should be ranked below Nashua South, since Central just beat South head to head a couple weeks ago, and right before that Central played #2 ranked Exeter much tougher than South did.

4) Nashua South - They are just BARELY behind Central. Even though the Purple Panthers did get blown out by Exeter the first time the two teams met 45-7 you have to give them credit for coming back just a couple weeks later and making it much closer this time, as they only lost to the Blue Hawks 17-7 in the D-I semi-finals on Saturday. South is ranked right where they should be. Right behind Central but also they're playing better football than BG and Dover right now.

5) Dover - Ok, so why is Dover ranked ahead of BG even though BG won 21-6 when the two teams played each other? Well for one, that first meeting was a long time ago now. Second off, both Dover and Spaulding dismantled Timberlane during the last 2 weeks of the regular season, yet BG was only able to beat Timberlane by 3 points, 29-26. I was at the Dover vs. Spaulding on Saturday and even though they needed a last second field goal to beat Spaulding I was very impressed with the way the Green Wave played on both sides of the football. First off, Dover may have won by more but starting running back Joe McKee got injured in the 1st quarter and did not return. As a result, the Green Wave were forced to pass the ball more, and QB Tyler Zabkar responded with possibly the best game of his career, throwing for 186 yards and 1 touchdown, to go with 62 yards rushing. 41 of those rushing yards came on play which set up another TD. Taylor Curry emerged as a play maker at receiver, Colin Shaughnessy stepped up in the back field running the ball in McKee's absence. And the defense was very good as usual, led by Matt Brown, Matt Dow, Kyle Seawards and sophomore Eric Waddington. These guys are playing some good football right now. Will I pick them to beat BG in my D-II title game preview in a couple days? Well, you'll just have to wait and see!

6) Bishop Guertin - I have BG ranked behind Dover, but just barely. Like I said, even though BG did bat Dover earlier in the year there is reason to believe the Green Wave are the team playing better football right now. Not only did Dover CRUSH a Timberlane team that BG just BARELY beat, but BG also lost to a non-playoff team in Keene in the regular season and they also needed to make a 2nd half comeback in order to beat another non-playoff team in Winnacunnet late in the year as well. Still, Guertin is too good of a football team to be ranked any lower than the #6 spot that's for sure.

7) Salem - Salem gave Pinkerton a pretty good game on Saturday in the D-I semi-finals. They also beat #3 ranked Central early in the year, they crushed the same Timberlane team that BG just barely beat last week and they beat Londonderry by 3 scores during the last week of the season and that was a Lancers team that had been playing some pretty good football since getting Sean O'Gorman back (they beat Dover in a non-division game). So while Salem isn't quite at the level as some of the teams ranked ahead of them, they still had a very good team this year and the combination of Jerickson Fedrick and Abner Rodriguez is one that NOBODY wanted to play against.

8) Trinity - Congrats to Trinity for winning the Division IV title. I can't justify putting the Pioneers any higher than this, considering they didn't play another ranked team all year. But they are still a team well deserving of the recognition, they went undefeated, 11-0 on the year. They dominated Monadnock in the semis 43-7 and they beat Plymouth in the final 30-14. Their QB Carmen Giampetruzzi really developed as the year went on and the RB/LB combo of Josh Hughes and Ryan Carrier was simply too good for the other D-IV teams to handle. They also had play makers on the outside like Adam Chambers and Romeo Masuku. They're a ball control team that played smash mouth football but could also spread you out and throw it and had a dominating defense.

9) Spaulding - You could argue that the Red Raiders belong even higher, since Dover is #5 and Spaulding only lost to the Green Wave on a last second field goal. Still, it's my opinion that BG, Salem and Trinity are better football teams. No question Spaulding would give any of those 3 teams a run for their money, just like they gave Dover all they could handle on Saturday. What a great story the Red Raiders are. They are an inspiration to any program around the state that there is always hope and if you believe you can turn your program around you will. These guys went 3 straight years without winning a divisional game and this year started off with 4 straight losses. Yet they made the playoffs and came within a field goal of making it to the championship game. If they can do it ANYONE can. Any athletic program around the state (not even just football) should look at what they did this season as inspiration that they too can turn it around!

10) Souhegan - Souhegan holds on to the #10 spot, as they didn't play last week. The other 2 teams in D-III that are ranked are the teams that will be playing in the title game on Saturday. Souhegan is ranked ahead of Bedford because the Sabers squashed the Bulldogs 36-14 on the last week of the regular season and they ended the season on a 5 game win streak. Bedford is ranked ahead of Portsmouth because they beat the Clippers by 2 scores late in the season and plus the Bulldogs will also have FB/LB David Cannone back in the lineup for the championship game after sitting out the last couple weeks with a concussion.

11) Bedford - See Souhegan.

12) Portsmouth - See Souhegan.

13) St. Thomas - Even though they're in Division V, there is no question they're one of the best teams in the state. Not only did they win the D-V title with a perfect 11-0 record, but they crushed Somersworth in the semi-final 50-15 and they beat Windham 49-28 in the championship game. That kid of dominance cannot be ignored. Coach Cumba did a great job in his first year at the helm. They had the speed, the weapons and they had the spread offense to put up a ton of points. QB Scott Munroe and RB's Ryan Monette and David Rogers all had BIG years. And they defense was also exceptional, led by Tom Cifrino, Sam Quirk, Jared Dickie and Andrew Kahr. They were as good a D-V team as you'll see, and they would have competed just fine with the teams in the upper divisions as well.

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