We are back with the Thursday Thoughts, ranking the best teams from all four divisions and looking ahead to the last two games of the regular season.
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We will be out covering two games this weekend:
Spencer Coronis, Brandon Bojarsky & Jennifer Chick-Ruth will be in Pelham tomorrow night when the defending champion Pythons take on Monadnock in a Division III showdown.
On Saturday I will be out at my alma mater Gilford high school when the Golden Eagles take on the Plymouth Bobcats.
We’ll have all the highlights plus the post-game with the entire team!
Division I Standings & Statistical Leaders
Week 8 Power Rankings
1. Winnacunnet- The Warriors' defense has been immense, with Bodey Reed & Lebron Miller playing a big role up front. One cause for concern though, this team tends to turn the ball over a lot. The fact that they remain dominant with a turnover issue tells you just how good this football team is.
2. Londonderry- Time to recognize a few Lancers who have flown under the radar; Nate Defazio has been excellent on the defensive line, while the linebackers get most of the attention, Londonderry is winning the battle in the trenches. Sophomore Jake Schena has stepped up into a bigger role at running back and has responded with five touchdowns in the last three weeks.
3. Pinkerton Academy- The defense stepped up in the 22-12 win over BG. On our Sunday morning podcast, Pete Tarrier & I named the teams we could see winning the title, and the Astros made both of our lists.
4. Bishop Guertin- John Trisciani's team hung in there without Charlie Bellavance last week (Matt Santosuosso has been immense for the Cardinals). The remaining games are Alvirne and at Windham. Pinkerton/Bishop Guertin II seems like a foregone conclusion.
5. Bedford- The signature win of Zach Matthews short tenure at Bedford was a big one. The Bulldogs matched up very well with Exeter and earned a 15-13 win on Joe Mikol's clutch field goal in the final seconds.
6. Exeter- They have exactly no time to feel sorry for themselves with a trip to Portsmouth tomorrow night. Win, and they are very likely in, lose and it's coming down to tie-breakers & ratings for a chance to get in.
7. Goffstown- The gap between the Blue Hawks and the Grizzlies was pretty demonstrative on opening night..we were there..but it's closed since Week 1. The Grizzlies still control their destiny, even with the two games they missed. If they beat Dover and Portsmouth-Oyster River, they are in.
8. Salem- Last week in this column, I wrote of Bedford: 'If the Bulldogs are a bona fide title contender, they have to prove that this weekend against Exeter.' Salem (who hosts Londonderry tomorrow night) your turn….
9. Portsmouth-Oyster River- I came away impressed with the Clipper Cats. Max Lalime was terrific, the play on the line was much better than it was a year ago, and although Will Hindle is a running QB first & foremost, he made every big thrown last Friday night when he needed to. The Exeter game tomorrow night is essentially a playoff game.
10. Dover- Keene, Nashua North, Nashua South & the Green Wave in a post-season tourney would be an entertaining watch….Dover fought hard last week, and head coach Eric Cumba sure knows how to dial-up some fun plays on offense
Dropped out: Keene
Division II Standings and Statistical Leaders
- Lebanon- The play-makers get all the headlines but don't underestimate how indispensable Zack Whitcomb is at center. Head coach Chris Childs told me its like having another coach on the field.
- Timberlane- The Owls likely get some key starter's second-half rest this weekend before a showdown with Milford next Friday night.
- Milford- We talk about the running game every week but head coach Keith Jones raves about the play of his secondary; Logan Barnhill, Trice Cote, Charlie Urda & Michael Lima have all been excellent.
- St. Thomas- The Saints' steady climb continues after a 28-21 win over Plymouth last weekend. The running game gets most of the headlines, but it was the defense that really stepped up against the Bobcats.
- Plymouth- The Bobcats are in the rare position of still having their playoff status up in the air with two games to go. A win Saturday at Gilford-Belmont would lock up a spot.
- Bow- They're coming together, and if you ask me who is playing the best right now between Souhegan, Hanover & the Falcons… I'm going with Bow. Ryan Lover has been a beast (193 yards rushing last week against Hollis-Brookline) this season.
- Souhegan- Robin Bowkett's team needed a quality win on their resume, and they earned it with a 27-20 win over Hanover.
- Hanover- They are going to have to beat #1 this weekend to halt the 3-game slide. The running game was effective against Souhegan...can they run on the Raiders?
- Manchester West- The Blue Knights stay at #9 but missing two straight games makes a playoff push very difficult.
- Gilford-Belmont- They feel like they have to win either one of their last two games against Plymouth on Saturday or at St. Thomas in Week 9 to get in.
Dropped out: None
Division III Standings and Statistical Leaders
- Pelham- Remember last week when I wrote that the Pythons were finally playing a competitive game? Not so much….Kevin Bodenrader had a big game, and the defense was dominant once again in a 41-0 victory. We get our first look at the champs this Friday night against Monadnock.
- Trinity- You can get dizzy playing the, ‘ Well, we beat them by 14, but they lost to get that team by 40..’ game...I wouldn’t recommend it, but it is fair to say we look destined for a Pelham/Trinity final..and is there a big gap between #1 and #2?
- Campbell- The Cougars will dust themselves off and head to Stevens this weekend to face Paul Silva’s Cardinals, who have suffered one significant injury after another.
- Monadnock- The Huskies usually step up in games like this one; how will they fare against the champs tomorrow night after having a week off?
- Kearsarge- If the Cougars can win out, Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough followed by a trip to Manchester to play Trinity, they are in the playoffs.
Dropped out: None
Division IV Standings and Statistical Leaders
- Newport- The champs answered the bell once again last weekend and should be the top seed when the playoffs start in two weeks. Those kids are always good in the post-game interview/celebration.
- Somersworth- Since losing to Newport in their opener 24-7 the Hilltoppers have outscored their opponents 236-27. (I needed a calculator for the points scored...I did not for the points allowed).
- Epping-Newmarket- They lost at Newport but they can take enough from that effort (a 24-12 final score) to give them confidence next week when they square off with Somersworth. The winner will be the #2 seed.
- Fall Mountain- They will beat Franklin this weekend before a play-in game against Mascoma to close the regular season.
- Mascoma- They get their measuring stick game against the champs on Saturday.
Dropped out: None