Tuesday, October 23, 2012

WGAM / Telegraph Football Poll - Week 9

So the big news with regards to the football poll this week was the huge upset Manchester West pulled off Friday night by not only beating Keene, but defeating them easily 36-14. This of course came just one week after the Blackbirds beat previous #1 ranked Winnacunnet.

The only other team ranked in last week's top 10 to lose was Manchester Central, who fell 35-28 to Souhegan in a game that was started on Friday night in Amherst and then finished on Saturday night at Gill Stadium in Manchester.

Other than that all of the other top teams won. So Keene and Central both move down this week, while all of the other teams move up. Here's a look at this week's poll, followed by my ballot and the reasoning be hind my votes.

WGAM / Telegraph Football Poll - Week 9
1. Exeter (5)
2. Pinkerton (3)
3. Bedford
4. Winnacunnet
5. Souhegan
6. Bishop Guertin
7. Nashua South
8. Plymouth
9. Keene
10. Portsmouth

(First place votes)

Other receiving votes: Manchester Central (4), Goffstown (1), Dover (1)

My ballot...
1. Exeter
2. Pinkerton
3. Bedford
4. Winnacunnet
5. Bishop Guertin
6. Nashua South
7. Souhegan
8. Keene
9. Manchester Central
10. Dover

Here's why I voted that way...
1. Exeter - not much to say here. I already explained last week why I had them at #1. And they won last week 38-14 over Londonderry. No reason to move them down. Their last 2 games of the regular season are vs. Nashua North and Memorial. They should easily win both of them which would make them 8-0 in D-I on the season. Exeter is 18-2 in their last 20 games.

2. Pinkerton - the Astros meanwhile are 17-3 in their last 20 games. 2 of the 3 losses have come to Exeter and the other one was last season vs. Brockton. Pinkerton has a much tougher end of the season schedule than Exeter, as the Astros have to play Central followed by South. This could actually work in Pinkerton's favor as they will be more battle-tested going into the playoffs.

3. Bedford - easy choice here for the #3 spot. Bedford was #4 last week but they move up one spot because Keene lost, so they move up a spot even though they had a bye last week. There's still a long way to go, but all of a sudden the Bulldogs are looking like the favorites in D-II since Keene lost to West, Winnacunnet still has injury woes and BG lost to Bedford by 2 TD's.

4. Winnacunnet - like I said last week, the Warriors are still undefeated with Auffant on the sidelines and they're still undefeated with RB Ben Franzoso at 100%. Because of that there's no way I can rank them any lower than this. They only beat Timberlane 7-0 last week but Franzoso didn't play (groin injury). He is also expected to sit this week vs. Merrimack with the hopes of being back to 100% for BG the last week of the season. That game will have major playoff seeding implications in D-II.

5. Bishop Guertin - definitely a team you have to watch out for in D-II. Bedford might be the new favorites, and Winnacunnet when healthy can beat anyone, but you can't forget about the 4-time defending champs. They're finally healthy now with CJ Boykin and Pat Bilodeau back in the lineup and they have won 5 of their last 6 games. 4 of those 5 wins have been by 20 points or more. Big games loom for this team over the next 2 weeks though as they finish up with Keene this week and Winnacunnet next weekend. These 2 games will tell us a lot about where things stand in D-II going into the playoffs.

6. Keene - ok, so there's no debating who the top 5 teams are. It's Exeter, Pinkerton, Bedford, Winnacunnet and BG, no question about it. The next 3 spots are a tough call though, with South, Souhegan and Keene. Which order do these 3 teams belong in? Well each of them has lost just 1 game vs. a NH team, and they were all bad losses. Keene got smoked by un-ranked Manchester West. South lost by 17 to un-ranked Concord. And Souhegan lost to a very good Winnacunnet team, but they got crushed in that game 41-7. However Nashua South is the only 1 of the 3 teams who has lost a second game, with the Purple Panthers' other loss being a blowout defeat to Lowell High. Lowell is not even ranked in the top 35 teams in Massachusetts. So that gives South 2 bad losses compared to just 1 for Souhegan and Keene, which makes South the #8 team and means the #6 spot goes to either Souhegan or Keene. Now this is definitely a tough call. Although Keene's loss to West was bad, I think it was an anomaly. And Souhegan's loss to Winnacunnet came when Sabers coach Mike Beliveau was suspended and not on the sideline so neither loss is as bad as they seem. But I'm going to give Keene the nod since they have the most impressive win of the 2 teams (a 20-7 win over a Winnacunnet team that was ranked #1 at the time). Yes the lost to West was a bad loss, but I've got a feeling it was an anomaly. Why? Because Keene was just coming off that big win over Winnacunnet so they have a letdown. Not only that, but they were looking past West to their game vs. BG this weekend (the game the Blackbirds get up for the most every year). It was a classic trap game for Keene. They deserve to drop in the rankings, but not that much.

7. Souhegan - see Keene

8. Nashua South - see Keen.

9. Manchester Central - they drop one spot with the loss to Souhegan over the weekend. So far they have beaten the un-ranked teams and lost to the ranked teams. But they have also lost to South and Souhegan by just 1 score and both games went to the last minute, so I can justify putting them lower than this.

10. Dover - I think by now I have stated my reasons for having Dover in this spot plenty. They won 40-0 over the weekend, so no reason to move them out. Yes I know that Plymouth beat them in a preseason scrimmage. But the key words in that last sentence are preseason and scrimmage. I just that with the grueling schedule over has played week in and week out, including non-league games vs. Exeter and King Phillip (MA) that if the 2 teams were to play today that Dover would win. That's not to take anything away from Plymouth. The Bobcats are a VERY good football team, and I was impressed when I saw them in person on Saturday in a 38-0 win over St. Thomas. They're a very good Division IV team, and I enjoyed getting a chance to meet RB/DB Brandon Goodale and QB Collin Sullivan after the game and chatting with Coach Lenahan before the game as well. If the poll included 11 teams then Plymouth would be on my ballot, and if we ranked 12 teams Portsmouth would be on there too.

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