We are back with our 14th season of the Thursday Thoughts…with a bit of a twist.
Last year I changed the format I had written the first twelve years, breaking down the weekend's biggest games to doing Power Rankings with commentary on each team, followed by a notes section covering other teams in each division.
With all the uncertainty and cancellations last season it would have been ridiculous to break down games you were only fairly certain were even going to be played.
In feedback from readers and coaches, I found that people really enjoyed the new format.
So, this year we'll be using the same format again.
A couple of programming notes before we get to the column:
Every Monday, we'll have the Player Locker Room/Recruiting Report featuring our members.
These are players from families who choose to support the coverage of these kids and our team at NHsportspage. Each will receive a custom NHsportspage jersey, be featured in our' 8 Questions videos (see one of the videos above) and have their performances re-capped every Monday.
You can become a Gold Level member and Locker Room athlete here:
On Friday night, we will be out at two more games:
Spencer Coronis, Brandon Bojarsky & Ian Melewski will bring you all the highlights and the post-game interview/celebration when Inter-Lakes Moultonborough travels to Manchester to face Trinity.
Pete Tarrier & 'The Franchise' Jennifer Chick-Ruth will be in Londonderry for a match-up between the Lancers and the Nashua South Panthers.
Today's column is brought to you by our friends & partners at NHTI in Concord.
Click on the link below or any of the NHTI banner ads on our website for more information about registration, open house dates and how you can earn a 2-year degree or credits towards a 4-year degree.
Division I Power Rankings
1. Salem- It was Aidan McDonald last week, and I feel like every other week, it will be a new Blue Devils back leading the attack.
2. Exeter- If their defense is as good as it looked against Goffstown…The Blue Hawks might be the best team in the state.
3. Winnacunnet- I meant what I said in our Sunday morning podcast; this might be a better defense than the Warriors team that won the title in 2017.
4. Pinkerton Academy- Not sure we are learning much about the Astros this week against Keene…a showdown with Salem looms in Week 3 (and we'll be there)
5. Dover- The Green Wave can go a long way towards a playoff berth with a win at Bedford Friday night.
6. Londonderry-Are the Lancers as good as they looked on Friday night against Merrimack? If so, they are a year ahead of schedule.
7. Goffstown-I'm not concerned about their passing attack, but if they can't run the ball….that could end up being a fatal flaw. Still way too early to tell, and I think you'll see more of Peyton Strickland (he's a beast) in the Wildcat.
8. Bedford-Week 1 usually gets overblown; a win over Dover at home on Friday night puts the Bulldogs right back on track.
9. Nashua South-There's a chance Salem might be really, really good….they also need to keep Josh Compah healthy.
10. Nashua North-They edge out Portsmouth-Oyster River for the last spot. A big one, this week against a dinged-up Merrimack team.
Notes: Tarek Rothe's Alvirne Broncos looked much improved in a Week 1 battle with Nashua North…..watch out for Bishop Guertin, that team seems a year away, but they should contend for a playoff spot this season….
Division II Power Rankings
1. Lebanon-Coaches around the division seem to unanimously feel like Chris Childs' Raiders are the team to beat.
2. Timberlane-I did not see the totality of their win over St. Thomas (43-0) coming….and there isn't one player to key on. There is talent on both sides of the ball on Kevin Fitzgerald's team.
3. Milford- HUGE two-game stretch for Keith Jones' Spartans; defending champion Souhegan this week and Lebanon in Week 3 (I will be there for that one)
4. Souhegan- Now that's how you begin a title defense. The 37-0 score against Kennett shocked me and jumped them up to #4. Rivalry game Friday night. The Sabers don't necessarily have to win; if they go to the wire on the road at Milford, they'll have proven they are a true contender.
5. Plymouth- The Bobcats don't have the superstars they have had in the past, but they are tough, intelligent, well-coached, and there is no team above them that they won't think they can beat.
6. Hanover-Yes Hanover! How long can Sam Cavallaro's team ride this momentum? They'll be favored in their next four games…
7. Bow- That was a gut-punch loss, but the Falcons have little time to feel sorry for themselves. The next four games are HD-Hopkinton, Plymouth, Souhegan and Lebanon. That's 3 of the Top 5 teams.
8. Kennett- Let's see how they do against a very good Timberlane team this week.
9. St. Thomas- It's going to take this team time….I think they'll be pretty good by the end of the season. They just can't put themselves in too big of a hole.
10. Gilford-Belmont- Yes, I am biased towards my alma mater, but there was a good buzz around this team, and that was a good road win at Sanborn, who is always tough. Remember the name Isaiah Reese……the kid is legit.
Notes: Nice start to the season for Merrimack Valley, who should handle John Stark this weekend..it’ll be in Week 3 against Timberlane that will tell us how far they have come….Salem & Nashua South combined for 98 points while Hollis-Brookline & Hillsborough-Deering Hopkinton combined for 18…let’s chalk it up to good defense.
Division III Power Rankings
1. Pelham-The champs are a mile ahead of everyone else in the division today, but teams like Monadnock, Trinity & Campbell always improve by the week..and it’s a long way to November.
2. Monadnock-We are excited to be back in Swanzey on Friday night. The same system under Rob Lotito with a lot of new faces. (Ed note: the game was canceled but we will back out in Swanzey soon!)
3. Trinity-James Thibault and Devohn Ellis look like a two-headed monster at running back for Rob Cathcart’s team.
4. Campbell-Well Glen Costello knows if his team will fight until the end. It took a considerable comeback to earn a good win over Kearsarge.
5. Laconia-The Sachems had to be disappointed not to beat Monadnock, but their 12-7 result has to be encouraging to head coach Craig Kozens, who always does a terrific job with the Sachems.
Notes: After Inter-Lakes Moultonborough’s 30-0 opening weekend win over Winnisquam (the Bears lost a TON of seniors), we get to see how they stack up against a legitimate contender when they go to Trinity on Friday night.
Division IV Power Rankings