New Hampshire Football Report

The State of Football: Week 2

football logoWhich of the four Division I conferences is the strongest, both this year and on     an annual basis?

That’s a question that has been bandied about by Division I head coaches and   media members quite a bit already this season. Maybe that’s because we’ve completed a full cycle since the NHIAA went to three divisions in 2013. With the exception of Portsmouth, which was moved to Division I in 2014; and Timberlane, which was moved from the East to the South after the 2013 season, every current Division I team has played every other team in the division at least once during that three-year span.

Before we go any further, it should be noted that the best conference doesn’t always produce the best team. You could argue that last year Division I South was the toughest conference (it was the only conference that sent three teams to the playoffs), but the Division I champion — and perhaps the two best teams in the division — came from the North conference (Goffstown and Bedford),

This year it appears that the teams in the North/South scheduling cluster will have to play a tougher schedule than the teams in the East/West cluster, but that’s still up for debate and we’ll have to see how things play out.

In the meantime here are some facts to help you form your argument regarding the question at the top of the page:

• It’s important to remember that two teams from each conference made the playoffs in both 2013 and 2014. This meant that some teams that deserved a playoff spot (better record) did not reach the postseason.

• Of the 20 teams currently in Division I, 16 have made the playoffs. The programs that haven’t reached the postseason: Dover, Winnacunnet, Memorial and Merrimack.

• Division I West is the only conference in which each of its five members has earned a playoff spot.

• Exeter and Pinkerton are the only Division I teams that have reached the playoffs in each of the last three years. Pinkerton had to beat Exeter in its final regular-season game to extend its season last year.

• The The Division I champion has come from the North in two of the last three seasons.

Here’s how things looked in each of the last three years:

2013 Playoff Teams

East: Exeter, Spaulding.
North: Concord, Central.
South: Pinkerton, Londonderry.
West: South, Keene.

Quarterfinals: Exeter over Spaulding; Concord over Central; Pinkerton over Londonderry and Keene over South.

Semifinals: Pinkerton over Keene; Concord over Exeter.

Championship: Concord over Pinkerton.

2014 Playoff Teams

East: Exeter, Portsmouth.
North: Bedford, Concord.
South: Pinkerton, Londonderry.
West: Alvirne, Bishop Guertin.

Quarterfinals: Exeter over Portsmouth; Bedford over Concord; Pinkerton over Londonderry and BG over Alvirne.

Semifinals: Bedford over Exeter; Pinkerton over BG.

Championship: Pinkerton over Bedford.

2015 Playoff Teams

East: Exeter.
North: Bedford, Goffstown.
South: Pinkerton, Salem, Timberlane.
West: BG, North.

Quarterfinals: Exeter over Salem; Bedford over BG; Goffstown over North; and Pinkerton over Timberlane.

Semifinals: Exeter over Pinkerton; Goffstown over Bedford.

Championship: Goffstown over Exeter.

Make of this what you will.

At any rate, with the utmost confidence, this week’s selections …


Portsmouth 34, Dover 19

The Clippers surpass their victory total from last season.

Exeter 42, Spaulding 14

The Red Raiders surrendered 62 points in the first half against South last week. Now here come the Blue Hawks …

Winnacunnet 35, Alvirne 6

Winnacunnet learned a hard lesson last week: Gotta finish strong.

Bedford 28, Timberlane 13

Matchup between two teams in the Power Poll. A Timberlane victory would raise some eyebrows.

Salem 14, Concord 13

In honor of Rockingham Park, Salem wins it at the wire.

Pinkerton 21, Goffstown 14

The state’s longest winning streak ends at 15 games..

Londonderry 20, Central 14

By all accounts the Lancers deserved a better fate last weekend.

Merrimack 42, Memorial 14

A slow start cost the Tomahawks a victory last Friday.

Bishop Guertin 27, Nashua South 21

Both teams looking for improvement on the defensive side.

Nashua North 28, Keene 20

This is the first of three straight road games for the Titans. North will have to bring its offense.


Hanover 21, Merrimack Valley 12

Gotta stop the run in high school football, and Merrimack Valley had a hard time doing that last weekend..

Laconia 33, Kingswood 13

Laconia rebounds with a road victory.   

Lebanon 36, Pembroke 0

It looks like Lebanon might be a factor in Division II.

ConVal 36, West 12

That ConVal offense is a handful.

St. Thomas 36, Pelham 6

The Saints didn’t have a problem scoring last weekend. The Pythons did.

Souhegan 28, Trinity 6

The Sabers get to celebrate after winning the first game played on their new turf. Souhegan 28-6.

Bow 21, Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton 13

The Redhawks breezed to victory in their first varsity game last week, but things won’t be as easy Saturday.

John Stark 36, Gilford/Belmont 6

There used to be plenty of room on the John Stark bandwagon.

Plymouth 35, Kennett 12

It’ll take a team’s best effort to beat the Bobcats this season.

Sanborn 20, Hollis/Brookline 14

The key here will be how well Sanborn defends Hollis/Brookline’s passing attack.

Windham 27, Milford 21

Good early test for both teams.


Stevens 33, Somersworth 19

The Toppers will have to put up a lot of points to win this one.

Raymond 28, Fall Mountain 12

The Rams bounce back after a rough opener.

Kearsarge 20, Franklin 12

How many times do you think the name Max Joyce was mentioned during Kearsarge practices this week?

Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough 35, Bishop Brady 20

Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough will need a big game from Andrew Brothers. Bishop Brady will be looking for the same from Moses Murenzi.

Farmington/Nute 18, Mascoma 6

Andy Gray collected his first victory as a varsity head coach.

Epping/Newmarket 20, Newfound 0

Epping/Newmarket left plenty of room for improvement in their effort last weekend. That would be a nice way to put it.

Winnisquam 14, Newport 12

The Bears get things done even without fullback/linebacker Jacob Snow (knee).

Monadnock 35, Campbell 20

The Huskies may be a cut above every other team in Division III.


Last week: 21-8
Record to date: 21-8

The State of Football, a commentary on New Hampshire high school football, appears each Thursday throughout the season. Follow Roger Brown on Twitter @603SportsMedia.

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