Tuesday, November 4, 2014

NHIAA Football Tournament Schedules Released

The football tournament schedules for Divisions I, II and III can be found here: http://www.nhiaa.org/tournaments.cfm

Notice the following time changes:
Alvirne @ Bishop Guertin - Saturday 3 pm
Concord @ Bedford - Saturday 3 pm
Kearsarge @ Kennett - Saturday 2 pm

All other games are Saturday at 1 pm. Here's a few other things to note...

Props to Sanborn...
This program has definitely not gotten the recognition it deserves over these past 2 years. For over 20 years they didn't even have a football team. Then they brought the program back and for the first few years they were a doormat. It's a soccer school. Yet here they are, back in the playoffs for a second straight year. Last year they beat Monadnock in the first round of the playoffs, and that was a Monadnock team that went undefeated during the regular season. Now this year they get to host a playoff game, as Hollis-Brookline comes to town. It's a credit to head coach John Welch, his staff and the players for how far they've come.

Salem will be back...
Salem suffered a heartbreaking loss to Londonderry last Friday night with a controversial ending. Not only is that a tough way to lose a game but it's an even tougher pill to swallow since the loss also ended the Blue Devils' season. Making it even more difficult to accept is that fact that Salem (7-2) is out of the playoffs while BG (4-5) and Alvirne (4-5) both get in. The good news for Salem is that they may have the strongest core of junior players in the state which means they may be the favorites to win it all next year. Charles Sibanda, the tailback with a good combination of speed and power and also plays DB? Only a junior. Fullback Johnny Bartose who is a bull running the football up the middle and fights for those extra yards and makes big plays? Only a junior. Sean Nartiff, a physical lineman with good size and toughness in the trenches, battles on every play and shows good leadership? Only a junior. The speedy Nick Shumski, who uses his speed to gain big yardage on the edge in the passing game, running the ball or returning kicks? Only a junior. Doug Maroun who plays a key role as a blocking back on offense and at linebacker on defense? Only a junior. These guys return some of their best players next year, and they'll have a chip on their shoulder bigger than anybody.

Championship Saturday on November 22 at UNH...
At least here's one thing the NHIAA got right. Having the championship games for D-I, D-II and D-III all played on the same day on the same field. They'll have the D-III final at 11 am, D-II at 2:30 and D-I at 6. That will be a great day of football. It's about time the NHIAA got this done.

Brendan Johnson vs. Bow defense...
The game Bishop Brady QB Brendan Johnson had last weekend vs. Winnisquam has been well documented and deservedly so. With a playoff spot on the line, Johnson threw for 424 yards and a whopping 8 touchdowns to tie the state record with 30. He'll have a tough challenge in the playoffs this Saturday if he wants to get his team to the next round and break the record. He'll be facing an undefeated Bow squad who has 4 shutouts and their 'D' has only given up 25 points all year.

Pinkerton vs. Londonderry is the marquee match-up this weekend...
As far as statewide team rankings are concerned, the consensus is that going into the playoffs it's #1 Pinkerton and #3 Londonderry. This should be a state semi-final or title game, but instead it's a conference championship game. Plus you have one of the state's biggest rivalries. Pinkerton is on a mission to redeem themselves after getting blown out of last year's title game. Londonderry meanwhile is on a mission to prove all of those doubters wrong who say this isn't a rivalry since Pinkerton always wins.

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