New Hampshire Football Report

The State of Football: Week 7

The high school football season’s seventh week has arrived. Some teams have already qualified for the playoffs, some have been eliminated from playoff contention and some are somewhere in between.

Let’s examine the situations regarding those teams that are on the playoff bubble:

Division I: Exeter appears to be the only team that’s safe. Even Bishop Guertin, which is 5-1, could wind up 6-3 and out of the top four in the East/West bracket. Still, BG is in a much better place than Dover, Portsmouth, Nashua North or Nashua South. Those four teams enter the weekend at 4-2.

The situation is the same for each of the four “bubble” teams at 4-2: A 7-2 record will be good enough to qualify, but any team that ends up at 6-3 will likely have to win a tiebreaker to advance. The rest of the East/West regular season is filled with meaningful games.

Pinkerton (3-3) and Manchester Central (3-3) are the bubble teams from the North/South bracket. Each must win this weekend or be eliminated. Pinkerton plays Merrimack (5-1) in Derry tonight, and Central will travel to Goffstown (5-1) on Saturday. The last time the Astros failed to qualify for the playoffs was 2002.

Division II: Division II looks like the “The March” in the State Am. There are 10 teams playing for eight playoff spots. Even at 5-1 ConVal has some work to do, since it still has to play St. Thomas (4-2) and Windham (6-0). Entering the weekend the bubble teams are the ones at 4-2: Lebanon, St. Thomas, Milford and Hollis/Brookline. Lebanon is in the toughest spot because of its remaining schedule, which includes games against Windham, Plymouth (6-0) and Bow (5-1). Any team that finishes at 7-2 will be safe, but a 6-3 record means it will likely come down to a team’s point-rating.

Division III: The pieces appear to already be in place here. Monandock, Stevens, Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough and Newport are in good shape in the North, and Bishop Brady, Winnisquam, Campbell and Somersworth look like the teams that will represent the South.

The bubble teams are Kearsarge, which is 3-2 in the North, and Epping-Newmarket, which has a 2-3 record in the South. Both teams have some tough teams left on their schedule. Kearsarge’s remaining opponents include Monadnock (5-0) and I-L/M (4-1), and Epping/Newmarket’s final three games include matchups against Bishop Brady (4-1) and Winnisquam (3-2).

Since Division III uses the point-rating system to select its eight-team playoff field, head-to-head results aren’t as important here. The Cougars and Blue Devils could qualify if they pull off some upsets in the next three weeks. Otherwise, the playoffs will feature the eight teams listed above.

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

Dover 26, Keene 20

Most remaining games in the East/West half of Division I have playoff implications. This is one of them.

Exeter 35, Nashua South 14

This would be a huge victory for South, but the guess here is that the Blue Hawks aren’t going to lose another regular-season game.

Nashua North 28, Portsmouth 27

The loser of this game will be in a dicey position. Very dicey.

Winnacunnet 41, Spaulding 28

This game may resemble a 7-on-7 matchup.

Bedford 36, Memorial 6

The Bulldogs are the only Division I team without a loss. The Crusaders are the only Division I team without a win.

Timberlane 27, Concord 21

Jacob Post may be the difference.

Salem 28, Londonderry 14

With Goffstown and Bedford left on its schedule, Salem can’t afford to slip up here.

Merrimack 35, Pinkerton 13

The last time Merrimack beat Pinkerton? Anyone? Bueller?

Bishop Guertin 42, Alvrine 14

The Cards certainly can move it through the air.

Goffstown 42, Central 21

If Central plays like it did against Bedford, the Little Green might have a chance. Otherwise, the Grizzlies will earn their sixth win.

Hanover 38, Kingswood 12

An unbeaten team is going to lose this weekend, but it won’t be Hanover.

Kennett 29, Laconia 28

You could make a case for either of these teams in this game. Kennett remains in the playoff picture with a win.

ConVal 27, Pelham 7

The Cougars may need to win two of their final three games to extend their season.

Hollis/Brookline 46, Manchester West 12

The Cavaliers don’t have a team with a winning record left on their schedule.

Milford 36, Trinity 14

Milford’s Week 1 victory over ConVal may be the difference between the Spartans playing nine games or at least 10.

Bow 35, Merrimack Valley 6

The Falcons have allowed 26 points in their five victories.

Gilford-Belmont 22, Pembroke 14

Gilford-Belmont collects its first Division II victory.

John Stark 26, Plymouth 14

Two unbeatens meeting here. The winner will be in good position to earn the No. 1 seed for the postseason.

Windham 41, Lebanon 14

Not sure which is more impressive: The fact that the Jaguars have scored 271 points this season, or the fact that they’ve limited their opponents to 43.

St. Thomas 35, Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton 6

The Saints cleared a high hurdle when they beat Milford on Saturday night. 

Souhegan 27, Sanborn 7

The Sabers might be able to finish the season with four straight victories.

Monadnock 35, Kearsarge 13

The Cougars would make things very interesting if they pull off an upset here.

Newfound 24, Fall Mountain 14

The Bears pick up their second win in as many weeks.

Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough 26, Stevens 21

Stevens suffers its first loss.

Newport 34, Mascoma 6

The fourth seed from Division III North might be a stronger team than the No. 1 seed from Division III South.

Bishop Brady 22, Franklin 14

The Green Giants have surrendered 27 points in their four games against opponents from Division III South.

Campbell 20, Somersworth 14

The team that wins the fourth quarter wins the game.

Epping-Newmarket 32, Raymond 14

Spotted turtle stays with the Blue Devils.

Winnisquam 38, Farmington/Nute 0

Have a feeling that Winnisquam will be playing its best football in October.


Last week: 19-2.
Record to date: 143-33.

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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