Thursday, October 24, 2013

FNL Football Poll - Week 8

Here are this week's statewide football team rankings, as voted on by the members of ESPN NH's Friday Nights and Nashua Telegraph sports dept.

Lots of changes in this week's rankings. This should come as no surprise though, as last weekend there were not 1 but 4 different games with major Power Poll implications - South vs. BG, Bedford @ Concord, Exeter vs. Spaulding and Portsmouth @ Plymouth. It was the biggest weekend of the NH football season so far, and South, Concord, Spaulding and Portsmouth all came away with huge victories. As expected, those teams moved up this week while the teams they defeated moved down.

Without any further ado, here is this week's poll:
1. Concord (7)
2. South (1)
3. Bedford
4. Pinkerton
5. Bishop Guertin
6. Keene
7. Portsmouth
8. Spaulding
9. Plymouth
10. Manchester Central

Here's what my ballot looked like:
1. Concord
2. Nashua South
3. Bedford
4. Pinkerton
5. Bishop Guertin
6. Keene
7. Portsmouth
8. Plymouth
9. Spaulding
10. Monadnock

Here's why I voted that way...

1. Concord - last week's game vs. Bedford featured the 2 teams who had been ranked #1 and #2 in the state for the past several weeks. Concord not only won, but they led by 2 TDs 3 different times in the 2nd half. So even though it did go down to the last play it was a convincing win at the same time. Plus they won it without Leo Sudieh, who was out for the 3rd straight week (suspension). QB Robbie Law and RB/LB Walters Ndi (among others) have really stepped up in the absence of Sudieh.

2. Nashua South - South is #2 on my ballot but they can make a pretty good case for being #1. Afterall, they too are unbeaten in Division I play. Not only that, but BG and Exeter are the 2 best teams they've played and South has beaten both of them by 3 touchdowns. Concord gets the slight nod for now though, due to a tougher schedule (2 wins over top 4 ranked teams while South has 0). Big game for South on Friday night when they travel to Keene - that could end up being their toughest game of the year.

3. Bedford - easy pick here. Can't justify putting Bedford higher than the 2 unbeaten D-I teams. And you also can't justify the Bulldogs being lower than this, since the next 3 teams on my ballot have 2 losses each (plus Bedford beat Pinkerton).

4. Pinkerton - Pinkerton gets the slight nod over BG here. Both teams have 2 losses, but Pinkerton only lost to Bedford by 2 (on the road and way back in week 1), and the other loss was in OT to #1 ranked Concord. Meanwhile BG just lost to #2 ranked South by 3 touchdowns.

5. Bishop Guertin - pretty simple here. BG is ahead of Keene because they have identical 5-2 records but BG beat Keene head-to head (14-12 in week 3). No reason to make it more complicated than that.

6. Keene - Their 40-0 win over Spaulding a few weeks back looks even more impressive now, doesn't it? Big game for the Blackbirds on Friday night vs. South. They need a win to have a shot at the playoffs. That's too bad, though. They're definitely a playoff team. I hate to beat a dead horse here, but...3 divisions = good, 4 conferences within those 3 divisions = bad. Got it, NHIAA? Good.

7. Portsmouth - big win for the Clippers last Saturday, going on the road and coming from behind to beat a Plymouth team that most (myself included) thought was on another level compared to the rest of D-II. ow I've got Portsmouth 1 spot ahead of the Bobcats, and deservedly so. The 2 teams have the same record, Portsmouth won head-to-head so they are ranked 1 spot ahead. Yes, I know Portsmouth lost to Trinity and Plymouth beat Trinity. But clearly, Portsmouth is a much different team now than they were back then, especially now that Donovan Phanor, Nate McFarland and Pat Glynn are healthy (all 3 missed at least half if not all of the Trinity game).

8. Plymouth - you can beat these guys are dying to see Portsmouth again in the playoffs for a rematch.

9. Spaulding - not sure how anyone could rank Exeter higher than Spaulding. Clearly one team is playing better football than the other right now. Spaulding has turned the corner since their 40-0 loss to Keene. Since then they beat Winnacunnet by 2 TDs (Exeter needed OT to beat Winnacunnet), they only lost by 1 score to #5 ranked BG and then last Friday night they beat Exeter head-to-head by not 1 but 2 scores. The Blue Hawks are a good football team, but the fact is they have lost 3 of their last 4 (2 of those 3 losses by 2 or more scores) and the only win in that stretch came against 1-6 Alvirne.

10. Monadnock - finally I am giving the Monadnock Huskies some love. This is the most underrated team in the state - apparently Rich Flerra and myself are the only ones voting for them. Up until last week they were undefeated in D-II and winning by some very impressive margins but they had played a weak schedule. But I finally put them on my ballot in the #10 spot this week after they destroyed a good Milford team (who was 4-2 coming in) by a final score of 56-14. That win opened my eyes - these guys deserve to be here. Can't wait until playoff time so we can see how they do against the likes of Portsmouth, Plymouth and Trinity.

Just missing the cut on my ballot: Exeter, Manchester Central, Trinity

Week 8 FNL Coverage:
Pelham @ Campbell - George Scione
Hollis-Brookline @ ConVal - Brett Ferrell
Souhegan @ Milford - Joe Marchilena
Dover @ Winnacunnet - Jeremy Leveille
Exeter @ Timberlane - Ryan O'Leary (Unconfirmed)
Alvirne @ #8 Spaulding - John Doyle
North @ #5 BG - Tom King
Goffstown @ #4 Pinkerton - Chris Shuker
#3 Bedford @ Merrimack - Tom Rowe
#2 South @ #6 Keene - Brian Schnee (Peter's Kia Game of the Week)

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