New Hampshire Football Report

The State of Football: Week 3

football logoThree divisions. Three different playoff formats. That’s what NHIAA football gives us.

Division I awards an automatic playoff berth to each of the four conference champions, and fills the eight-team playoff field with two wildcard teams from each scheduling “cluster” (East/West conferences, and North/South conferences). As has been the case in the past, teams compete within their cluster until the championship game, which will feature one team from the East/West and one from the North/South.

Note: The scheduling clusters rotate each year.

Division II audibled this year after shrinking from four to two conferences. The conference champion — based on the NHIAA football point-rating system — from the North and South will be seeded  No. 1 and No. 2. The rest of the eight-team field is filled by the teams will the best point rating, regardless of which conference they are from. The No. 8 seed will meet No. 1 in the quarterfinals, No. 7 will play No. 2 and so on.

Division III moved away from the four-conference format in favor of two conferences after the 2013 season, when some of the top teams in the division failed to qualify for postseason play because they were all in the same conference. Pelham (8-0), Bow (7-1), Campbell (5-3) and Somersworth (4-4) each competed in Division III South, for example. Six of the eight losses those teams suffered came within the conference.

After the 2014 season Division III made another improvement when it decided to make teams “cross over” for the quarterfinals. Four teams from each conference qualify, and the No. 1 seed from the South plays the No. 4 seed from the North, No. 2 South plays No. 3 North, etc. The teams with the highest point rating faces the team with the lowest point rating in the semifinals.

If the two best Division III teams are in the same conference, this allows for the possibility of those teams meeting in the championship game rather than earlier in the playoffs.

The move to allow crossover games in the playoffs looks particularly wise this year, since Division III North appears to be much stronger than Division III South. After two weeks, each of the eight teams in the South has at least one loss, and four of the eight teams in the North are 2-0. The North has a 6-2 record against teams from the South.

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


Nashua North 34, Dover 20

The Titans raise their record to 3-0.

Exeter 42, Keene 14

The Blue Hawks also improve to 3-0, but, as is the case with Nashua North, their toughest regular-season games are still to come.

Bishop Guertin 42, Spaulding 20

Have to figure BG scores at least three touchdowns in each half. BG, 42-20.

Winnacunnet 34, Portsmouth 19

Winnacunnet should probably be getting some attention in the Power Poll.

Bedford 35, Londonderry 21

The Bulldogs are No. 1 for a reason.

Concord 28, Memorial 13

Concord collects its first victory.

Merrimack 33, Central 21

Interested to see how the Central defense holds up against Merrimack’s pass-happy offense.

Pinkerton 21, Salem 14

Salem hasn’t beaten Pinkerton since 2009. The Astros are 8-0 against the Blue Devils since then.

Nashua South 42, Alvirne 19

No team has scored more points than South this season.

Goffstown 32, Timberlane 20

The Grizzlies extend the state’s longest winning streak to 17 games.


Bow 43, Gilford/Belmont 12

Both of these teams were in Division III last season. Right now, Bow is better equipped to handle a Division II schedule.

John Stark 26, Lebanon 20

This is the game of the week in Division II. The winner will be 3-0.

Kennett 19, Merrimack Valley 14

The team that scores last, wins.

ConVal 41, Kingswood 20

The Cougars certainly don’t have any trouble scoring.

Plymouth 26, Laconia 14

It’s time people started paying attention to Plymouth again.

Windham 43, Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton 12

This is Windham’s annual Blackout Cancer Game, so please do what you can to help.

Sanborn 27, West 7

West is the only team in the state that hasn’t found the end zone this season.

Milford 28, Pelham 6

Milford rebounds from last weekend’s lopsided loss to Windham.

Hanover 34, Pembroke 0

Keep an eye on the Marauders, who should be 3-0 entering next week’s game against rival Lebanon.

Hollis/Brookline 26, Trinity 13

This much we know: The Cavaliers can sling it.

Souhegan 21, St. Thomas 20

We’ll have a better feel for where these team fit in Division II after this contest.


Kearsarge 36, Fall Mountain 6

Kearsarge running back Justin Norris has been putting up some big numbers.

Stevens 41, Newfound 18

The Stevens offense appears to be as good as advertised.

Bishop Brady 26, Raymond 14

The winner here will be 2-1, and two wins gives you a share of first place in Division III South.

Franklin 28, Winnisquam 26

Neighbors don’t always get along.

Newport 20, Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough 14

These programs met in last year’s Division III championship game.

Monadnock 45, Mascoma 6

Monadnock still hasn’t allowed a point.

Campbell 36, Fall Mountain 14

The Cougars were good in Week 1, and not so good in Week 2.

Somersworth 27, Epping/Newmarket 19

The Toppers enter the win column.


Last week: 23-6
Record to date: 54-14

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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