New Hampshire Football Report

More ‘Dog days ahead?

Division I 
2017 Preview

East Conference: Dover, Exeter, Portsmouth, Spaulding and Winnacunnet.

North Conference: Bedford, Concord, Goffstown, Manchester Central and Manchester Memorial.

South Conference: Londonderry, Merrimack, Pinkerton, Salem and Timberlane.

West Conference: Alvirne, Bishop Guertin, Keene, Nashua North and Nashua South.

2016 Division I champion: Bedford. The Bulldogs went 12-0 — the first unbeaten season in the program’s history — and defeated Exeter 7-0 in the Division I title game.

Top storyline: It looks like it could be Bedford’s year again. Can anybody beat the Bulldogs?

Player to Watch: Merrimack running back/slot receiver Joe Eichman, who received his first Division I scholarship offer (Bryant) in early August.

Key game: Exeter at Bedford (Sept. 30). These team met in last year’s championship game, and the winner of this contest will likely be the No. 1 seed from Division I North/East.

Noteworthy: The Division I non-conference games this season will feature teams from the South against teams from the West, and teams from the North against teams from the East. … Bedford, which owns the state’s longest winning streak (12 games), returns 12 starters and is the trendy pick to win it all this season. The returning starters include Connor Robert, a three-year starter at quarterback. … Keene (Bill Hope) and Alvirne (Tarik Rothe) are the only Division I programs with a first-year head coach this season. … Exeter, which is seeking to reach the Division I championship game for the third consecutive season, has 143 players in its program. Exeter tackle Willem Froumy accepted a scholarship offer from Syracuse over the summer. … There is rarely a Division I championship game that doesn’t include either Exeter or Pinkerton Academy. At least one of those programs has played for the title in 11 of the last 12 years. … Injuries have already hit hard this season. Dover will be without top running back Caleb Bolden and Timberlane’s running back Jacob Post suffered a knee injury in the Queen City Jamboree. … Other players to watch this season include Bedford’s Noah Chaberek (WR), Exeter’s Bobby Cliche (TE/LB), Bishop Guertin’s Sam Colantuoni (OL/DL), Goffstown’s Andrew Duval (LB/WR), Bedford’s Josh Koellmer (C), Winnacunnet’s Billy Powers (RB), Bishop Guertin’s Sam Raitt (QB), Salem’s Josh Sibanda (RB), Dover’s Erik Stephens (TE) and Keene’s Jamie Therrien (LB). … The group of  teams that could make the playoffs is a large one. Expect Nashua South and Salem to be strong. Both teams have three-year starters at QB (Nashua South Sean Holland and Salem’s Matt Soldano). … The surprise teams in Division I could be Manchester Central and Winnacunnet.

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