Here's this week's top 10 NHIAA football teams regardless of division, as voted on by the members of ESPN New Hampshire's Friday Night Lights staff.
1) Pinkerton, (5-0) next opponent- vs. Nashua North
2) Bedford, (5-0) next opponent- vs. Goffstown
3) Salem, (4-1) next opponent- vs. Bishop Guertin
4) Portsmouth, (4-1) next opponent- @ Exeter
5) Londonderry, (4-1) next opponent- @ Merrimack
6) Windham, (5-0) next opponent- BYE
7) Concord, (4-1) next opponent- vs. Spaulding
8) South, (3-2) next opponent- @ Alvirne
9) Goffstown, (3-2) next opponent- @ Bedford
10) Memorial, (3-2) next opponent- @ Winnacunnet
Other teams receiving votes...
Exeter (3-2) next opponent- vs. Portsmouth
Kennett (6-0), BYE
Bow (4-0) next opponent- vs. Farmington-Nute
Alvirne (3-2) next opponent- vs. South
Milford (4-1) next opponent- @ Trinity
Here's how I voted...
7. Manchester Memorial
A few thoughts with regards to my ballot...
-I hate to beat a dead horse here, but on my ballot I have 0 teams from Division I West, and 4 teams from D-I North, even though the NHIAA's flawed playoff system is set up so that 2 teams from each conference will make the playoffs. It seems to be a consensus that Salem and Londonderry are both top 5 teams in the entire state (if not top 4), yet only 1 of them will get in to the playoffs with this flawed system. If Salem falls to Londonderry during the last week of the season (and right now that game looks like a tossup), then there's a good chance the Blue Devils will miss the playoffs and Alvirne will get in even though Salem EASILY beat Alvirne 36-14 last Friday night.
-Meanwhile, as it stands right now Exeter is a playoff team while Goffstown is out. But they're both 3-2 and Goffstown beat Exeter head to head - by 2 touchdowns. That makes no sense.
-The first 6 spots on my ballot are pretty straightforward, and think it's a consensus among the voters that for now at least, that (in some order) Pinkerton, Bedford, Salem, Londonderry, Portsmouth and Windham are the state's top 6 teams. Here's why I voted the way did for spots 7 - 10.
7) Manchester Memorial - Yes, they are 3-2 and Concord is 4-1. But Memorial has played a tougher schedule so far and they also beat Concord head-to-head. Memorial's 2 losses are to Portsmouth (only by a TD) and to Bedford (undefeated and consensus top 2 team in NH). Both Portsmouth and Bedford are rated higher than anyone Concord has beaten so far (Concord's best win is over Goffstown, a team Portsmouth beat). Plus, Concord only barely beat Manchester Central yet Memorial beat Central 34-8. This appears to be Memorial's best team in years, they've turned it up a notch since Isaac Velez has taken over at QB, and Concord doesn't appear to be the same team as the championship squad of last year.
8) Concord - Can't justify Concord being any lower than this. After all, they only have 1 loss and that was only by 1 point (to the team ranked 1 spot ahead of them on my ballot).
9) Goffstown - Pretty straightforward here. As mentioned above, both Exeter and Goffstown are 3-2 but Goffstown won the head-to-head meeting 28-14. Goffstown also beat Winnacunnet by 16, while Exeter only beat them by 12.
10) Exeter - the only team on my ballot who yet yet to beat a winning team. I still think the Blue Devils are a top 10 team, though. They nearly pulled off the upset Saturday night vs. Bedford. I gave consideration to Nashua South for the #10 spot, but the Purple Panthers also have yet to beat a team with a winning record. Milford got a vote, but I left them off since they lost to a team with a losing record (2-3 Hollis-Brookline). Kennett can definitely make a strong case, but I just think we'll have a better idea of how good they are after upcoming games vs. Lebanon and Laconia. Bow also got a vote, but I just couldn't justify putting a D-III team in there with the difference in week to week competition they face, not with so many deserving teams in D-I and D-II. Perhaps Bow could play against fellow Capital City area school Concord High on Thanksgiving for the Capital City Cup? If they win D-III and beat Concord, I promise they'll be on my year-end ballot.