Monday, September 22, 2014

ESPN NH's Friday Night Lights Football Poll - Week 4

This week's top 10 teams in NHIAA football, regardless of division. Voted on by the members of ESPN New Hampshire's Friday Night Lights program and the Nashua Telegraph.

1) Pinkerton (1.1)
2) Bedford (1.7)
3) Concord (2.6)
4) Londonderry (3.1)
5) Windham (5.1)
6) Salem (5.1)
7) Goffstown (5.9)
8) Exeter (6.5)
9) St.Thomas (8.1)
10) Portsmouth (8.1)

Others Receiving Votes
Nashua South (4)
Plymouth (1)
Trinity (1)
Alvirne (1)
Merrimack (2)
Winnacunet (2)

Here's what my ballot looked like...
1. Pinkerton
2. Bedford
3. Concord
4. Londonderry
5. Salem
6. Windham
7. Goffstown
8. St. Thomas
9. Exeter
10. Nashua South

A couple things to point out...
-Two huge games this weekend are Pinkerton vs. Londonderry on Friday and Exeter vs. Winnacunnet on Saturday. Two of the biggest (if not the biggest) rivalries in the state. Both are conference games, and both will have implications on the top 10 football poll. Yes, the NH Notebook will be at both of them.

-We've only played 3 weeks but injuries are already starting to take their toll. Merrimack Valley star QB/DB and recent UNH commit Ivan Niyomugabo is having surgery on his wrist and Concord WR/DB Jacob Szulc has suffered a broken leg (according to NH Football Report's Roger Brown). Meanwhile Bishop Guertin has been missing running backs Jackson Housman (knee) and Kelvin Rivera (wrist) to injury since week 1, Bedford has been playing without RB Mike Collins (broken leg) and LB Thomas O'Rourke (broken jaw). Pinkerton RB TJ Urbanik went out with a shoulder injury during Saturday's game vs. Salem. And it's not an injury, but Portsmouth is still awaiting the return of FB/LB Mikel Toar. Meanwhile on the other side of the coin is Londonderry. The Lancers are 3-0 with 3 dominating wins, in large part because of two guys who have returned from injury. Michael Ryan missed all of last year and Eric Fairweather missed most of last year with injuries. They're back and so are the Lancers.

-Goffstown's win over Exeter on Saturday was their biggest win since moving to D-I, and the biggest win for the program since their D-III semi-final win over Souhegan a couple years ago which got them into the title game. It was a big win for the Grizzlies but I don't consider it an upset, because going in that game was a tossup. I still consider Exeter a top 10 team, but they'll likely need a win over a tough Winnacunnet team on Saturday to stay there.

-Even though Salem and Winnacunnet both lost over the weekend their place in the polls shouldn't suffer much. The teams they lost to are the two best teams in the state. Salem played Pinkerton very tough, it was an even game. The Blue Devils were stopped on 4th down at the 1 yard line twice in the last five minutes. And Winnacunnet played Bedford very tough, as the Warriors out-gained Bedford in total yards 268-220 and won time of possession 29 minutes to 17. Ask Bedford who gave them their toughest game so far and I'll guarantee they say it was Winnacunnet, and not Portsmouth.

-We could have some thrilling playoff chases in D-I. Portsmouth, Exeter and Winnacunnet look like they could be neck and neck in the seacoast conference. One of them will miss the playoffs. In the South Conference you have 3 of the top 5 teams in the entire state right now (in my opinion), with Pinkerton, Londonderry and Salem, yet 1 of them will miss the playoffs. And in the North Conference it's the same thing as well, as either Goffstown, Bedford or Concord will be left out of the dance. You could argue the top 9 teams in D-I right now are in those 3 conferences, yet the West Conference only has 1 team above .500 (Alvirne) and their conference will still get 2 playoff teams. This is a flawed system. What the NHIAA needs to do is have the top 8 teams in the division make playoffs, regardless of conference.

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