Thursday, November 10, 2011
Title Game Previews for Divisions IV, V and VI
For whatever reason, Divisions IV, and VI finish their season a week sooner than Divisions I, II and III. They only get 9 games while the majority of the teams in the upper divisions play 10. Well you can just add that to the list of things the NHIAA has to get fixed.
So while it's the semi-finals in Divisions I, II and III this weekend (I touched on these games in this week's Power Rankings column), they're playing for ALL of the marbles in D-IV, V and VI.
We bring in our northern NH corespondent 'DC' to preview all 3 title games being played this weekend.
Division IV Championship Game: #1 Trinity (10-0) vs. #2 Plymouth (9-1)
This year's Championship game in Division IV is between two teams that are dead even on paper. The first match up at George C. Zoulias Field in Plymouth on September 24 was a good old fashioned blood and guts battle at the line of scrimmage with two teams hammering away at each other for most of the game. Plymouth who owned the state's longest home winning streak had made more plays and were in excellent position to close out the game and extend their streak. But With 4 minutes to go in the game Trinity quarterback Carmen Giampetruzzi brought his team back with two Tom Brady like touchdown passes to running back Josh Hughes and tight end Andrew Lauderdale. Trinity snaps the streak while pulling a rabbit out of the hat winning 12-7.
Now the Bobcats of Plymouth have to travel to Manchester and beat Trinity on their home field - historic Gill stadium. I am having a tough time predicting a winner in this game. Both teams are very even. Trinity has an edge in size and weapons. Plymouth has in my opinion the MVP of D-IV in Taylor Newberry. No one player has meant more to his team's success than Newberry. He has literally put his team on his back and carried them the whole season. Plymouth is coached by arguably the Vince Lombardi of New Hampshire high school football in Chuck Lenahan. No one with have a brain would pick against Chuck in a title game!
Hear we go with my prediction. Trinity was very impressive last week in their playoff win over Monadnock 43-7. They are playing on their home field and they were able to go to Plymouth and beat a team that just doesn't lose at home. They have to be feeling very confident from that comeback win. All that being said I have come to the conclusion that somehow Coach Lenahan and all his years of experience will find a way to win this game. Plymouth was not ready when Trinity went to the spread at the end of the last game. The Bobcats will be ready for any new Trinity surprises this time around! Plymouth in an overtime thriller 28-21. I can't wait, this one has the potential to be a classic!
Division V Championship Game: #1 St. Thomas (10-0) vs. #3 Windham (8-2)
There's no better Cinderella story this year than the Jaguars from Windham. In only their second varsity season Coach Raycraft has gotten his team into the Division V state championship. I saw Windham's varsity and JV's play last year and I am amazed in how far they have come in such a short period of time. I assume that a lot of their kids have Pop Warner experience. Even if that is true you have to take your hat off to Coach Raycraft and his staff. Raycraft got them to buy into the smash mouth double wing concept which teaches kids the fundamentals of the game. They learn how to block and tackle, plus how to run low and hard with the ball. Air Force and Navy run a very similar concept at the college level which allows them to compete against teams that are a lot bigger and faster. Windham has been averaging almost 38 points a game this season with an offense that highlights the running attack. They have a balanced backfield of Kevin Cooney, CJ Di Parima, and Kenny Padin. What makes them really dangerous is that they can sprinkle in a passing game with quarterback Joe Lorenz who has completed 70% of his passes for 904 yards. If you put 8 or 9 in the box to stop the run they will burn you!
Cinderella is a wonderful kids fairy tale with a fairy tale ending. Unfortunately football in the real world has endings based on young men flying around the gridiron with the eventual winner decided by the best team on the field. I don't think any one could argue that the St. Thomas Saints have been the best team in D-V this year hands down. First year coach Eric Cumba has brought over quite a few chapters from his college playbook at UNH. They are running the spread offense which at a high school level creates several challenges in trying to run. His staff has to understand what will work and not work with high school level talent. There is no doubt that Coach Cumba knew his personnel and designed a scheme that played to the strengths of his athletes. Scott Munroe, the St. Thomas quarterback went from a shaky turnover prone junior quarterback to a slam dunk all-state throwing machine. He is one of the top passers in the state, throwing for over 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. He spreads the ball around to 4 different receivers. Tylor Buckley, Andrew Kahr, David Rogers and Ryan Monette are the top 4 receivers in D-V and on a decent weather day are just about impossible to stop. Once they have you spread out and on your heals Monette finds seams out of the backfield that allowed him to go over 1,000 yards rushing this season.
Fairy tales make for great reading and visits to the movie theater, but if they play Saturday's game on a gridiron 100 yards long and 53 yards wide St. Thomas walks away with a 45-28 win!
Division VI Championship Game: vs. #1 Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough (10-0) vs. #2 Epping-Newmarket (8-2)
The D-VI title game is the battle of the hyphens! This demonstrates how popular high school football is in New Hampshire. The smaller schools know how important football is to the overall spirit of the school and how it brings communities together to celebrate a fall ritual in this country. This Saturday in Meridith 4 different schools combine Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough and Epping-Newmarket to play for a state championship. Congratulations to all who helped make it possible for these young men to create memories that will last for a lifetime.
ILM (10-0) is the #1 seed and they host Epping-Newmarket in a rematch of a 3-0 defensive battle played earlier this year. These are by far the two best defensive teams in the division and defense wins championships. That being said either team has a shot at pulling off the big win. I don't think anyone will be predicting a high scoring game. If Epping-Newmarket can pull off the upset they need running back Dan Espo and quarterback Tyler Young (pictured at top of page) to come up big. They also need their top notch defense to play like they did earlier this season.
There is no doubt that ILM has to be the favorite coming in undefeated and playing on their home turf field. They have more weapons with hands down the best player in D-VI Conor Donovan at tailback, Mitchell Jurius at quarterback and Tanner Quinney at fullback. I have seen Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough play twice and they are solid in every phase of the game. Donovan is on the short list of the best kickers in the state regardless of division. His kickoffs usually make the end zone, I saw him hit a 66 yard punt in the rain, and he is capable of kicking a 50 yard field goal. ILM is just to good and will beat Epping-Newmarket in a close one 2 hyphens to 1!