With Division III on a collective bye week this week we will take a look at the division as a whole and the growing trend of 44-0 halftime scores.
We’ll also preview four games from Division I & II as playoff seeding’s will become more clear in the next two weeks. Friday night we will be in Peterborough when unbeaten Con Val hosts 3-1 Hollis-Brookline in a huge Division II match-up.
We also want to welcome Milford, Exeter, Portsmouth & Stevens as our newest Gold Level programs. The coaching staffs of these teams have complete access to every full game video we produce across all three divisions.
They also chose to support the free content our six person team provides so thank you to Keith Jones, Bill Ball, Brian Pafford & Paul Silva and their booster clubs for their support.
Each of our Gold Level Teams is listed above the Division standings. If you’d like to become a Gold Level program with full access to our produced full game videos reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today's column is sponsored by our longtime partners at Sentinel Title Services in Rye, NH.
Manchester Central (4-1) at Dover (3-2)
Two teams that have been flying a bit under the radar square off in Dover Friday night.
Those back to back losses to open the season by Ken Osbon’s team don’t look so bad now do they? Dover hung with Winnacunnet for a half on the road before losing 46-18, the next weekend they trailed Goffstown 28-0 before scoring 21 straight to end the game. Those two teams have only one loss between them and that’s because they played each other last weekend in Hampton.
That second half against the Grizzlies was about the time Dover switched from Carson Webb (coming off a very good season at quarterback) to John Cantwell. Dover has run off three wins in a row since as Cantwell has developed very good chemistry in the passing game with wide receiver Ty Vitko (215 receiving yards on the season).
For Central QB Alex Hawkom has been impressive spreading the field to a bevy of athletes, and an offensive line that includes Justus Brady, Josiah Francis, Mike Tessier, Joseph Martinez & Cam Varney has gained confidence each week paving the way for 3 different 100 yard rushers.
Bedford (3-2) at Goffstown (4-1)
Facing a Goffstown defense who has allowed the second least amount of points per game in the division at 11.8 ppg. (Winnacunnet is #1 at 10.6) would be tough enough with a veteran quarterback ; with Connor Robert possibly sidelined it becomes a major hurdle.
Robert has battled injuries for most of the season and although Thomas Morgan is a very capable back-up he threw two picks against Exeter last weekend and will face an even better defense on Saturday in Goffstown. On Saturday he will face a Goffstown team with designs on another run to Durham in November.
Unlike the Championship team from 2015 that was just flat-out more talented than everyone else in the state, this Goffstown team seems to play with a chip on their shoulders and a toughness that can’t be taught. The one constant in GTOWN is Coach Justin Hufft whose calm demeanor (at least he’s that way with the media) and attention to detail really seems to work with this group. It’s also been fun watching kids like Andrew Duval, Joey Poisson & Adam Moses who were contributing sophomores on that title team and how they have grown up into the leaders. You also have to give credit to QB Charlie Keith who reminds me a lot of Casey Gervais with his ability to fake a handoff and then take the ball up the middle for big gains. (by Pete Tarrier…my Goffstown correspondent)
Hollis-Brookline (3-1) at Con Val (4-0)
The stretch run for these two teams begins here in a game Pete Tarrier & The Great Jon Kesty will bring you coverage of.
Con Val is off to an undefeated start but they still have some work to do to make it to the post-season; after the Cavaliers they’ll finish with a game at Pelham and then a tough closing stretch of St Thomas at home and a trip to fellow unbeaten Windham.
Dan Curran has been terrific at defensive tackle for the Cougars, leading the team with 45 tackles, 11 for a loss, in four games. Dan Spezzaferri has been all-state worthy at quarterback (507 yards and 6 TDs to only one interception) while Makeen Wilson ranks 3rd in Division II in receiving yards and Scott Stanley ranks 8th in rushing.
Chris Lones’ Cavaliers lost a very good quarterback in Joey Delaney but have not skipped a beat with Sander Wimmer at the helm. Wimmer leads all of Division II with 940 yards passing but the Con Val defense is going to pose a big test for the first year starter. Expect Wimmer to lean on the best receiver in the division Matt Simco (541 yards and 9 TDs) heavily. The 6’3 senior is a redzone nightmare for teams because of his ability to win jump balls for the football in the end zone.
A win here sets Con Val up for a long awaited post-season appearance. For Hollis-Brookline a victory and the fact they will be favored in two of their last three games makes a return appearance to the playoffs more likely.
St Thomas (4-1) at Milford (2-3)
This will be the Spartans last stand if they can’t get a win over St Thomas this weekend. With games at Sanborn (John Welch’s team always plays hard) and at Plymouth still remaining Keith Jones’s team has little room for error.
It’s been a frustrating season of ‘what ifs’ for Milford as they lost an overtime battle with Con Val in the opener ( in a game we covered), were within 14-0 at halftime to undefeated Windham and have taken care of business in wins over Pelham & Manchester West. Last weekend was more frustration as Milford carried the play for good chunks of the game against a good Souhegan team but turned the ball over several times, taking points off the board.
Ryan Brown’s Saints come out of last weekend’s home loss to Windham ( a game we covered LIVE & with highlights as well) knowing that if the Jaguars are the standard, along with Plymouth, in the division they can go toe to toe with anybody. St Thomas moved the ball between the 20’s on nearly every possession but struggled to score in the redzone against Windham’s defense.
Shawn DeKorne made good throws & smart decisions with the football, Tim Bouchard was every bit as good as advertised and in receivers Jake Benelli, Edwin Estevez & Tim Banaian there are enough weapons to score consistently against elite defenses in the post-season.
With a big test looming in the season finale at Con Val the Saints need a win against Milford if they want to guarantee themselves a home playoff game in November
Your Division III Snapshot
The blowouts are so prevalent in Division III that I wasn’t even sure where to start.
Campbell 81, Bishop Brady 9? (Bishop Brady is a 3-2 football team by the way).
Epping-Newmarket 72, Farmington Nute 0? ( E-N LOST 61-9 the week before)
Somersworth 50, Franklin 6? Monadnock 48, Newfound 8? How about the fact Campbell was leading 44-0 after the FIRST QUARTER in one game?
The point is it’s not working for these teams and I respect the fact that they are going back out there every weekend knowing what is coming. Farmington-Nute plays Somersworth in two weeks, how do you see that one going?
So I’ve come up with a possible solution that works for everyone..including the teams on the winning end of those lopsided scores.
What if there was a sub-division like we have at the college level? A division for small schools with very low numbers. Teams that could petition up or down after the season based on who is graduating and the 8th grade class coming in.
Sub-division (or call it anything else you want) teams would not compete for a spot in Durham but a championship played on the home field of the higher seed.
This would allow a coach like Matt Shaw at Bishop Brady to say ‘ I’m going to have 18 kids on the roster…we are going to play in the sub-division next year,’ or a Coach like Orion Binney at Fall Mountain to say ‘ We’re building something here and I’d rather have my young guys take their lumps for a year in Division III.’
Fine, scheduling won’t be an issue because teams would declare which division to play in the following year in November. The NHIAA could even make a rule that a team with 25 or fewer players has to submit their reasons for feeling they can compete in Division III with schools like Newport and Campbell who have over 45 players. Bishop Brady competed a year ago but they did that with three big time playmakers, giving them enough talent & coaching to overcome their low numbers for a season. That won’t be the case ever year.
Re-alignment might look something like this;
Notes: Instead of a North/South alignment you would play eight games against the other nine teams in the division, with a rule that playoff teams from the year before must face one another. This balances out the strength of schedule.
Six teams make the playoffs and the top two seeds get a bye.
Notes: You can also add club teams from towns like Berlin into the sub-division and again, if you have over 25 players in the program you can choose to play in Division III. No one is forcing you here but at the same time no one is going to feel bad for you if you petition up.
This would create competitive games week to week and as a direct result more kids would come out for the team.
I’m open to comments from our readers……….let’s talk this out…..tell me why this couldn’t work or any tweaks you would make to the alignment?