All 3 of these should be outstanding games. Exeter, Winnacunnet and Portsmouth (the 3 home teams) are the favorites going in. But they're only slight favorites. Bottom line, there won't be any shockers today. I wouldn't even call any game an upset, as each game involves 2 evenly matched football teams. The only shocker would be if any of these games is decided by more than 2 scores.
With that being said, here's a quick look at each game and another Mr. Football Watch.
Division I: Pinkerton @ Exeter
Game story from their first meeting - click here
The first meeting in a nut shell - no Swane, no Laurent, no problem. Exeter was playing without 2 of their best players, but still pulled out the win thanks to a huge game by Tyler Grant. Grant rushed for 197 yards and 2 TDs. His 2 long TD runs were the difference in the game. Pinkerton did a good job of clogging up the middle, but on his 2 long TD runs Grant showed his versatility by bouncing it to the outside, turning the corner and going for 6.
What will decide this one - both teams are better now than they were back in week 2 when they met up before. That's a scary thought considering that week 2 game was played at such a high level. Exeter is at home now and they have Swane and Laurent this time, they're the favorites. But it's not by much. If Pinkerton wins it won't be an upset. Expect this to go down to the wire. Whoever wins this oen will really have to earn it.
Division II: Bedford @ Winnacunnet
Game story from the first meeting - click here
First meeting in a nut shell - Winnacunnet just had too much size up front, with guys like Christian Dyer, Jordan Cutting, Renaldo Gordon and Zach Williams. Not only were they much bigger up front than Bedford, but their big guys were also quick. On defense they got after QB James Caparell, forced him to threw too early, they sacked him, forced him out of pocket and to throw on the run, etc. And on offense they opened up holes for RB Ben Frannzoso (136 yards) to run through.
What will decide this one - just like in the first meeting it will come down to the big guys up front. Bedford had to replace a lot of starters on the line this year. Back in week 2 when they played each other before those new starters were still getting experience. They're a much improved unit now. Have they improved enough for
Division III: Goffstown @ Portsmouth
Game story from first meeting - click here
First meeting in a nut shell - complete domination by Portsmouth. Big games for Nate NcFarland, Colin McDonald, Donovan Phanor and Rock Holt. Tough day for Connor Benjamin, but a very tough day for the Goffstown defense.
What will decide this one - Goffstown is clearly a much different team now than they were the first time they played Portsmouth. Otherwise how else do you explain them beating Souhegan last week? Goffstown needs to protect the football, bottom line. If they can limit turnovers, they'll put a lot of points up and will have a chance.
Mr. Football Watch
Going into Championship Saturday, the top 4 candidates are Tyler Grant (Exeter), James Caparell (Bedford), Ben Franzoso (Winnacunnet) and Manny Latimore (Pinkerton). It is no coincidence that their respective teams are the 4 best teams in the state.Each of them are playing for a state championship on Saturday, and each of them carried their teams to semi-final victories to make it there.
The other main candidate for the award would be Goffstown's Connor Benjamin. Even though Benjamin plays for the #10 team in the state as opposed to a top 4 team, he doesn't have the supporting cast that the above 4 players do either. Benjamin has put up some staggering numbers this season, and is also playing for a state title on Saturday.
This is the closest Mr. Football race in years, with all 5 of these kids having a legit shot at winning the award. It is way too close to call right now, so we'll just have to sit back and see how things go on Saturday.