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.
A couple of surprise games last weekend had a significant impact on this week's poll. Just one week after getting hammered by Keene 40-0, (previously unranked) Spaulding bounced back to beat (previously ranked) Winnacunnet by 2 touchdowns. In the other game it wasn't a surprise that they won, but it was definitely surprising that they won by 3 TDs - of course I'm talking about Nashua South's win over Exeter. There's still a long way to go - we're only halfway through the season. But here's how things stand right now...
Rank Team (1st) Record Previous
1 Bedford (4) 5-0 2
Concord (3) 5-0 1
3 South (1) 5-0 3
4 Pinkerton 4-1 5
BG 4-1 6
6 Plymouth 5-0 7
7 Exeter 3-2 4
8 Keene 3-2 9
9 Trinity 4-1 10
10 Spaulding 3-2 NR
Also Receiving Votes: Winnacunnet (4) Central (1)
Here is what my ballot looked like...
3. Nashua South
4. Bishop Guertin
Here's why I voted that way...
1. Bedford - the Bulldogs just keep on winning. I've had them #1 on my ballot fr the past few weeks, and they beat Goffstown 50-0 last Saturday so no reason to move them down.
2. Concord - another blowout win for the Crimson last weekend, this time over Londonderry. It's enough to hold on to the #2 spot on my ballot.
3. Nashua South - let's be honest here folks. We have three #1 teams in the state right now. As long as Bedford, Concord and South keep winning, each of them is worthy of the #1 ranking. South definitely made a statement by outscoring Exeter 28-0 in the 2nd half on Friday night to win it 28-6.
4. Bishop Guertin - speaking of teams who can make a case for #1 how about BG? Like I wrote in last week's column, not only did BG beat Exeter but they have just 1 loss on the season and that was only by a field goal and came when they were playing without standout linebacker John Miller. They're unbeaten since he has rejoined the team. While Guertin can make a case of the top spot, I can't put them higher than #4 on my ballot for now because even though they were missing Miller the fact is they did lose that game to Winnacunnet and whereas South, Concord and Bedford are all unbeaten.
5. Pinkerton - the Astros are right behind BG on my ballot. The only loss for Pinkerton was a 2 point loss on the road to the team I have ranked #1. They get a chance to move up by playing Concord this Friday night in the statewide game of the week.
6. Plymouth - speaking of teams that can make a case for #1, how about Plymouth? Yes, they're in Division II, but they're undefeated and they beat the second best team in their division by 3 touchdowns (they were up by 4 TDs when they took their starters out).
7. Exeter - for now at least, this is where Exeter belongs in the rankings. With the 2 losses (one of them being by 3 TDs), I can't justify them being higher than this. But at the same time, Keene is the clear cut #8 team and Exeter and Keene are both 3-2 but Exeter beat Keene head to head. Hence, Exeter is #7 and Keene is #8.
8. Keene - it's crazy to think that either Keene, South or BG will miss the playoffs. Only 2 of them can make it since they're all in the same conference. This is why we should have just 2 conferences per division rather than four. Either go with a North and South, or an East/West conferences within each of the 3 divisions. Then have the top 4 teams from each conference make playoffs. Then we would be much less likely to have a situation like this.
9. Trinity - tough call for the last 2 spots on my ballot. You can debate the order, but there's no debate that the top 8 teams in the state as of right now are Bedford, Concord, South, BG, Pinkerton, Plymouth, Exeter and Keene. What about the last 2? Candidates for the final 2 spots are: Spaulding, Trinity, Windham, St. Thomas, Manchester Central, Winnacunnet and Monadnock. All 7 of those teams really can make a case for a top 10 ranking. I went with Trinity in the #9 spot because I've had them in the top 10 all year, they have the size, the speed, the athletes to play with anyone and other than the loss to a very good Plymouth team they have been dominant. Spaulding gets the final spot, because of their 3-2 record in D-I play and impressive win over Winnacunnet last weekend.
10. Spaulding - see Trinity