New Hampshire Football Report

The State of Football: Week 10

New Hampshire Football Report’s NHIAA Playoff Primer:


No. 4 Nashua South (6-3) at No. 1 Exeter (8-1)
No. 3 Bishop Guertin (6-3) at No. 2 Nashua North (7-2)

No. 4 Salem (6-3) at No. 1 Bedford (9-0)
No. 3 Goffstown (7-2) at No. 2 Merrimack (8-1)

Footnotes: Three of Saturday’s four Division I matchups feature teams that met last weekend: BG at North, Salem at Bedford and Goffstown at Merrimack. … The higher-seeded team won the regular-season matchup in all four pairigs. North beat BG 67-36; Exeter beat South 35-14; Bedford beat Salem 12-7; and Merrimack beat Goffstown 39-16. North scored touchdowns on its final 10 possessions in last Friday’s victory over BG. All 10 TDs came on the ground. … Merrimack quarterback Justin Grassini needs one touchdown pass to own sole possession of the state record for TD passes in a season. Grassini currently shares the record with former St. Thomas quarterback Stephen Hedberg, who is currently playing at Phillips Andover. … Merrimack is seeking its first playoff victory since it beat Pinkerton in the 1995 Division I semifinals. … Bedford is one of three unbeaten teams remaining in the state. The others are Division II Windham and Division III Monadnock. … Salem went 0-3 against playoff teams during the regular season. Salem running back Josh Sibanda enters the postseason with 1,471 yards and 21 touchdowns (19 rushing) this season. … Goffstown won last year’s Division I title. Exeter was the last program to win consecutive Division I championships (2011-2012).


No. 8 Hollis/Brookline (7-2) at No. 1 Windham (9-0)
No. 7 Bow (7-2) at No. 2 John Stark (8-1)
No. 6 Lebanon (5-3) at No. 3 Hanover (8-1)
No. 5 St. Thomas (7-2) at No. 4 Plymouth (7-2)

Footnotes: Windham is seeking its third consecutive trip to the Division II championship game and enters the playoffs as the favorite in Division II. The Jaguars were the only team with an unblemished record during the regular season and won each of their nine games by at least 17 points. Windham beat Hollis/Brookline 40-14 in Week 1. … John Stark is hoping to have senior Drew McQuarrie behind center for its game against Bow. McQuarrie suffered a sprained rotator cuff in the middle of October and was pulled in the fourth quarter when Bow beat John Stark 14-6 on Oct. 22. … Lebanon has one of the top offensive threats in the state in senior running back Ryan Milliken, who has rushed for 1,257 yards and 17 TDs (7.7 yards per carry) and has caught 14 passes for 321 yards and three TDs. … Tailback Reed Winter has missed Hanover”s last three games. The Marauders beat the Raiders 34-8 in Hanover during the regular season. … Plymouth and St. Thomas did not meet during the regular season. Plymouth fullback Garrett Macomber is the state’s No. 2 rusher with 1,911 yards and 22 TDs on 221 carries. Both St. Thomas losses came when the Saints were without starting quarterback Shawn DeKorne. Tim Bouchard is the Saints’ big-play threat. Bouchard, who played some cornerback when DeKorne was out, caught 19 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns, and has run for 387 yards and seven TDs on 57 carries. St. Thomas beat Windham in last year’s title game.


No. 4S Somersworth (4-4) at No. 1N Monadnock (8-0)
No. 3S Winnisquam (5-3) at No. 2N Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (6-2)
No. 2S Campbell (6-2) at No. 3N Stevens (6-2)
No. 4S Newport (5-3) at No. 1S Bishop Brady (7-1)

Footnotes: Monadnock dropped from Division II to Division III in the offseason and ran the table during the regular season. The Huskies shut out five of their eight opponents and won each of their games by 14 points. Somersworth, which overcame a 0-2 start, did not play Monadnock during the regular season. … Winnisquam battled through injuries throughout the season, but won three of its final four games to earn a playoff berth. The Bears will be facing an I-L/M team that was without quarterback Ryan Kelly for last weekend’s 37-14 loss to Kearsarge because of an ankle injury. I-L/M coach Jon Francis said Kelly will play Saturday. … Despite being a No. 2 seed, Campbell is on the road for the quarterfinals because Stevens has a higher point rating. Campbell dropped a 36-0 decision to Monadnock in its only game against a team from the North during the regular season. The Cougars enter the postseason on a three-game winning streak. Stevens won its first five games, but then dropped two of its last three. The Cardinals scored at least 37 points in five of their six victories. Stevens has some of the best skill-position players in the division in running back Richard Bell, quarterback Henri Bourque and wide receiver Parker Smith. … Newport, which won last year’s Division III title, has won three of its last four games and scored at least 42 points in each of the victories. The loss in that stretch came against unbeaten Monadnock. Bishop Brady has won six in a row since suffering a Week 2 loss to I-L/M (35-7). The Green Giants haven’t allowed more than 12 points in any of their victories. Bishop Brady running back Moses Murenzi is among the top offensive players in the division.

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

Exeter 35, Nashua South 21

South is playing its best football of the season, so if the Panthers can grab an early lead this one might be interesting. Exeter is the team to beat in the East/West bracket. 

Nashua North 34, Bishop Guertin 27

Love the BG offense. Don’t love the BG run defense. North may have more depth in its offensive backfield than any team in the state.

Merrimack 33, Goffstown 24

These teams will hook up for real Saturday after playing a meaningless game last weekend. Goffstown will have to keep Merrimack’s point-after attempts to a minimum, and that won’t be easy. The TD record won’t mean much unless a victory comes with it.

Bedford 28, Salem 14

Bedford beat Salem 12-7 last Friday. Expecting more offense from each team this week. 

St. Thomas 22, Plymouth 21

While Plymouth stumbled down the stretch, losing two of its last three games, the Saints enter the playoffs with a four-game winning streak and plenty of momentum.

Windham 42, Hollis/Brookline 20

The Cavaliers may score a lot, but they won’t score enough.

John Stark 28, Bow 12

When John Stark coach Rod McQuarrie tells his players they’ll get beat if they don’t play well, they should know he’s telling them the truth.

Lebanon 21, Hanover 17

An upset is certainly possible here since the Raiders are playing well. They’re also playing a road game close to home.

Monadnock 35, Somersworth

Forget this silly spread stuff. Monadnock runs a real offense.

Stevens 26, Campbell 20

In the history of NHIAA football, a No. 3 seed has never lost to a No. 2 seed at home.

Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough 34, Winnisquam 14

The Lakers ended the Bears’ season a year ago, and they’re going to do the same Saturday. I-L/M, 34-14.

Bishop Brady 26, Newport 21

Gave some serious thought to picking Newport, but have to go with the Green Giants because of how well they’ve been playing on defense.


Last week: 25-4.
Record to date: 218-45.

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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