Thursday, October 3, 2013

FNL Football Poll - Week 5

The government might be shut down, but not the NH Notebook! Here is this week's statewide football poll, as voted on by the members of ESPN NH's Friday Nights and Nashua Telegraph sports dept.

Quite a bit of movement this week. Keene proved anyone who may have doubted they were a top 10 team by crushing Spaulding on Friday night. Plymouth moves up and Trinity moves down after the Bobcats cruised past the Pioneers 35-14 on Saturday, and Exeter was unseated as the state's #1 team when they fell to BG on Saturday night 21-14.

Here is this week's poll...
Rank Team (1st) Record Lst Wk
1. Concord (4) 4-0 3
2. Bedford (4) 4-0 2
3. South (1) 4-0 4
4. Exeter 3-1 1
5. Pinkerton 3-1 5
6. BG 3-1 8
7. Plymouth 4-0 9
8. Winnacunnet 3-1 7
9. Keene 2-2 10
10. Trinity 3-1 6

Week 4 Capital Auto Auction Player of the Night: QB Trevor Knight Nashua South

Here is what my ballot looked like...
1. Bedford
2. Concord
3. Nashua South
4. Bishop Guertin
5. Exeter
6. Pinkerton
7. Plymouth
8. Winnacunnet
9. Keene
10. Trinity

Here is why I voted that way...
1. Bedford - I've had them in the #1 spot on my ballot ever since they knocked off Pinkerton in week 1. They've kept on winning (most of the time in blowout fashion), so I've had no reason to move them down. On October 18 it's Concord vs. Bedford, we'll find out then who's better.

2. Concord - Let's take a quick second and look at the teams listed in the top 10 (it's been essentially the same 10 teams in here all season so far). 9 of them are perennial playoff or at least playoff contending teams - except Concord. That's why the Crimson are a great story. They haven't sniffed the postseason for the past several years, so give credit to head coach Eric Brown, his staff and team. Did I mention they put up a whopping 69 points last week?

3. Nashua South - everyone is voting for either Bedford or Concord for the top spot, so South is flying under the radar as they too ere 4-0 in D-I play. The Purple Panthers can also make a case for the #1 ranking and are definitely deserving of some recognition. They only beat winless Nashua North by one score, but North also played Winnacunnet very tough so you can't discount them too much for that game. South's first game vs. a winning team is this Friday night in a big one vs. Exeter. We'll have a better idea of where they're at after that game.

4. Bishop Guertin - looks like I have BG ranked higher than most of the other voters. It also looks like most of the other voters have Exeter ranked ahead of BG for some reason. Let's see here, BG and Exeter both have identical 3-1 records and BG just beat Exeter last Saturday night 21-14 in OT. Exeter was at full strength, while BG was playing without playmaker CJ Boykin and BG still won. And while it's true that Exeter beat Winnacunnet whereas BG lost to Winnacunnet, but when BG lost to the Warriors they played that game without star linebacker John Miller. Miller led the Cardinals in tackles vs. Exeter and makes a huge difference to their defense. Guertin is undefeated since he has returned to the team. You could actually make a case that Coach Cote's team belongs in the #1 spot. I mentioned how on October 18 Concord is playing against Bedford, right? Well on that same day it's BG vs. South. Talk about a big night of football in NH!

5. Exeter - Just one loss for Exeter on the season, and it was in overtime on the road to BG. So it's appropriate that I have the Blue Hawks one spot behind Guertin.

6. Pinkerton - Only loss for Pinkerton was by 2 points on the road to the team I have ranked #1. Pinkerton is a very dangerous #6 team. Don't be surprised if they're the last team standing when it's all said and done. That's how deep D-I is this year. Some were voting for Londonderry as a top 10 team, but Pinkerton cruised past them 35-14 on Saturday night in the Mack Plaque game.

7. Plymouth - A statement win for the Bobcats by easily defeating a very good Trinity team 35-14. It was 35-6 Plymouth when the Bobcats took their starters out. Plymouth is 4-0 and there's no question they'd be able to compete if they were in Division I.

8. Winnacunnet - The Warriors are definitely deserving of a ranking this high considering they are 3-1, they beat BG (who I have ranked #4) and they took Exeter to overtime. With that said BG was playing without Miller when they beat them, and in Winnacunnet's 3 wins they have only won by a total of 10 points. This could help them come playoff time since they'll have more experience in close games, but for the time being other teams are ranked slightly higher in part because they're winning by larger margins.

9. Keene - A pretty easy pick here. Simply put, with 2 losses I can't justify Keene being any higher than this. But at the same time even though Keene lost to BG and Exeter they gave both teams a very tough game. Plus, North and Spaulding have proved to be very worthy opponents to some of the state's other top teams, yet the Blackbirds have beaten North and Spaulding by a combined score of 74-0. Don't sleep on this squad.

10. Trinity - Tough choice here. Central, Londonderry, St. Thomas and Monadnock can all make a case for this spot. Trinity gets my vote, even though they lost to Plymouth on Saturday by 3 touchdowns. I still think the Pioneers are a very formidable team. If they make the proper adjustments and if they play Plymouth again in the D-II title game don't be surprised if it is a much closer game the next time. Plus, Trinity's week 1 blowout win over Portsmouth (a preseason top 10 team) is still a higher quality win than any of the other teams I mentioned as candidates for this spot have.

This week on ESPN NH's Friday Night Lights...
#4 Exeter @ #3 South - Jeremy Leveille (Peter's Kia Game of the Week)
Londonderry @ #1 Concord - Brett Ferrell
#5 Pinkerton @ Memorial - Tom Rowe
#6 B.G. @ Alvirne - Tom King
#8 Winnacunnet @ Spaulding - Steve Craig
Central @ Merrimack - Chris Shuker
John Stark @ Souhegan - Joe Marchilena

Photo credit: Exeter BlueHawk Photos

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