Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WGAM / Telegraph Power Poll - Week 1

The latest WGAM / Telegraph Power Poll has been released. As I'll do every week this season I will post the rankings, followed by my ballot and then I will give the reasoning for my picks.

WGAM "The Game"/NashuaTelegraph.com Wk 1 High School Football Poll

1. Exeter (7)
2. Pinkerton (2)
3. Manchester Central
4. Bishop Guertin
T5. Bedford
T5. Keene
7. Winnacunnet
8. Nashua South
9. Portsmouth
10. Trinity

(first place votes in parentheses)

Others receiving votes: Nashua North (4), Dover (4), Goffstown (3), Concord (3), Spaulding (1)

Poll voters are Chris Shuker – WGAM’s “FNL Saturday” co-host, Sean Sendall – WGAM’s “FNL Sturday” co-host, Chris DeTurk – WGAM’s “ Friday Night Lights” host, Nick Montecalvo – Host of WGAM’s “NH Sports Central”, Tom King – Nashua Telegraph sports writer and co-host of WGAM’s “Christian and King”, Gary Fitz – Nashua Telegraph sports writer, Joe Marchilena – Nashua Telegraph high school sports writer, George Scione – Nashua Telegraph sports writer, Jeremy Leveille – publisher of NHNotebook.com

Now, here is what my ballot looked like...

1. Exeter
2. Pinkerton
3. Manchester Central
4. Bishop Guertin
5. Winnacunnet
6. Dover
7. Keene
8. Nashua South
9. Spaulding
10. Concord

Now, here's why I voted that way...
1) Exeter - I had them #1 in the preseason and after they beat a good Dover team 42-7 on Friday night so it is safe to say they are still the #1 team on my ballot. The Blue Hawks beat Dover by much more than Pinkerton beat BG by. Also, Exeter did didn't commit one penalty all game vs. Dover whereas Pinkerton had a number of holding penalties, false starts, turnovers and a costly personal foul call. Bottom line, Exeter is a more disciplined team. They also had a number of players step up on defense including Brian Henry, Ron Spaulding, Jacob Boria, James Vogt, Ryan Kelly and Jameson Whitely. Tyler Grant and Galen Antolino were dominant running the ball. The Blue Hawks were able to cruise past Dover without RB Colby Swane and K Logan Laurent in the lineup (coach's decision), but will they be able to beat Pinkerton this Saturday without those guys?

2) Pinkerton - a solid pick for the #2 spot. They beat a very good BG team 20-3 on Saturday, and they would have won by even more if they didn't fumble the ball in the end zone. The Astros defense was led by linebackers Matt Madden and Matt St. Onge, and teams are not going to score many points on this squad. Pinkerton looks to avenge their loss in last year's title game vs. Exeter, so you know they're going to come out extra fired up for this one. Don't be surprised if Pinkerton wins it on their home field, especially if Swane and Laurent are again out of the lineup.

3) Manchester Central - it's Exeter, Pinkerton, Central and then everyone else. I had Central in the #3 spot (just barely behind Exeter and Pinkerton) because their defense wasn't as good as those other 2 teams. Well they get a couple of chances to prove that statement wrong over the next couple of weeks, as the Little Green go up against 2 of the top running backs in the state in Concord's Tolbert Nemo this Friday night and next Friday night they face Tyler Grant and Exeter. You just know that Central is chomping at the bit to take down one of the teams ranked ahead of them. Only time will tell how it goes, but I have a feeling it will be VERY fun to watch these 3 teams battle each other. The question is, can anyone stop the Cote-to-Pelletier passing game?

4) Bishop Guertin - ok, so I know what you're thinking. I had BG ranked in the #6 spot and they lost last weekend so how could they possibly move up 2 spots? Simply put, last Saturday BG gave Pinkerton a tougher game than anyone in the state would have except Exeter and Central. That's why they're #4. The fact is, Guertin actually had more yards from scrimmage than Pinkerton did (179-169), and that is pretty significant considering they were playing without their most explosive offensive threat (CJ Boykin) and had a QB who was making his first ever varsity start (Tommy Hurley). Hurley is only going to get better, and the team as a whole will get MUCH better once Boykin returns. Not to mention the BG defense did a great job against the a Pinkerton backfield that is going to run over everyone this year. Blake Boudreau, John Miller, Kevin Kiczuk and company did a great job and there is no question they are one of the state's top defenses. Also, the teams I had ranked in the #4 and #5 spots last week (Dover and Spaulding) also lost. So let's look at strength of schedule, here. Spaulding lost to a team (Nashua South) that I didn't even have ranked last week, so they slide down a few spots. And as for Dover, well they just didn't look as good on Friday night as BG did on Saturday.

5) Winnacunnet - wow, quite the jump for the Warriors! They move up from the #10 spot to #5 on my ballot as a result of their 41-7 win over a Souhegan team I had ranked #7 last week. Senior running back Ben Franzoso had a big game in that one with 187 rushing yards vs. the Sabers. This Friday Winnacunnet takes on Bedford and if they win that game they are definitely a top 5 team.

6) Dover - had them #4 last week, so the Green Wave move down 2 spots following their 42-7 loss to Exeter. I can't justify moving Dover down anymore than that though, because there is no shame in losing to Exeter. After all, the Blue hawks are the #1 team in the state! Plus the game was MUCH closer than the final score indicates - Dover was only down 14-0 at halftime, and they were only down 28-7 with 10:00 left in the game when both teams pulled their starters. Most other teams would have gotten beat much worse by Exeter than Dover did. The Green Wave are still very much in the hunt in D-II.

7) Keene - impressive win for the Blackbirds on Friday night. They were my #9 ranked team last week and they hung a whopping 62 points on Salem in a 62-27 win. QB Lucas Luopa led the way with a BIG game throwing the football. And truth be told, there's a pretty good chance I would have Keene ranked in the #5 or #6 spot right now. However Luopa is the most valuable player they have and right now he's injured. Luopa injured his ankle in the Salem game, and his status for this weekend is up in the air. The good news though for Keene is their schedule. If they choose they could sit Luopa for the next couple of weeks. They could probably beat Merrimack this weekend without him, and then next week they play D-III Goffstown (doesn't count in the standings. It will be interesting to see if he sits these 2 games, because the Blackbirds will definitely want him healthy for the 4 games that follow that when they play Bedford, Spaulding, Dover and Winnacunnet.

8) Nashua South - I didn't have South ranked last week, but after they beat Spaulding (previously ranked #5 on my ballot) last week they definitely deserve the spot. Trevor Knight, Patrick Goff, Steven Choate and company are playing some good football, and it looks like them and Concord are the main contenders for that fourth playoff spot in D-I.

9) Spaulding - even though they lost by a couple touchdowns to South last Friday night, this is still a very good football team and is deserving of a spot on the list, no question about it. By all accounts the Red Raiders treated last Friday night's game like a scrimmage and NOT like a real game. They were my #5 team last week, and I can't possibly put Spaulding any lower than this.

10) Concord - Hollis-Brookline is definitely a little down this year, but still you had to be impressed with the 41-0 pounding the Crimson put on them. Nemo is in for a big senior season. Concord gets the slight nod over Bedford for the #10 spot. Why? Well Concord beat Hollis 41-0, Bedford meanwhile beat Milford 48-7. So that's pretty much a wash. But Bedford has 0 returning starters on their offensive line, so that's enough for Concord to get the slight edge.

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