We are back with year sixteen of the Thursday Thoughts.
We will rank the contenders in all four divisions and bring you notes on each team.
We'll also begin to highlight teams outside the rankings as the season goes along.
We will be covering three football games beginning tonight.
Pete Tarrier and Ian Melewski will be in Concord when the Crimson Tide take on the Salem Blue Devils.
On Friday night I will be in Portsmouth with Austin Grass when the Clipper Cats host Dover. Former colleague and UNH play by play voice Justin McIsaac may join me on the call of the game.
Finally, Pete Tarrier and Ben Conant will be out at one of our favorite spots to call a game when they travel to Swanzey for a Division III showdown between Monadnock and Inter Lakes Moultonborough.
We'll have all the highlights of each game plus the post-game interview/celebration with the entire winning team!
As a team, we also want to announce something we came up with this summer that will get more kids exposure on the website while supporting our website.
If you would like to have a picture on a player's profile page, you can have that done for ten dollars.
The picture will be on their page and the statistical leader page, and $10 covers every sport we cover (basketball and baseball) this year.
It’s a low-cost way to support the player in your home and our team.
Here is an example: JJ Bright of Souhegan
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your player name and the picture you’d like to use, and I will send you a Venmo or Paypal request and get the image on the page.
Our column today is brought to you by our longtime partners at Core Physicians, with over twenty locations on the seacoast and in Plaistow.
Look for our new commercial from the Sports medicine team at Exeter Hospital coming soon!
Bedford- Zach Matthews watched the formula work a year ago, and he won’t go away from it; take care of the ball, ride an elite defense, and twenty-one points should get you the win. Quarterback Danny Black threw nine interceptions in his first year as a starter last season but has only one through two games. Kevin Sheridan has been tremendous at defensive end for the Bulldogs, while Dylan Soden has led a very good linebacking group.
Londonderry- The 41-0 win over Chelmsford (MA) may not count in the standings, but it was another dominant performance by the Lancers' defense. Devin Boles is off to a terrific start, leading a unit featuring Cam Brutus, Ty Parsons, Alex Villa, and all-state performer Seth Doyon.
Pinkerton Academy- Three running backs, Caden Michaud (201 yards rushing), Ryan Catineau (161), and Matt Morrison (159), have led the way behind one of the best offensive lines in the state. Timberlane is up next, and we’ll be there next week when they host Londonderry on Mack Plaque weekend.
Portsmouth Oyster River- The Clipper Cats have been as good as advertised and maybe even a little better defensively than we anticipated. I’ll be there on Friday night when Dover comes to town.
Exeter- The Blue Hawks are spreading out the carries and wearing teams down. They have rolled to wins over Timberlane (45-14) and Nashua North (31-7) behind the running backs by committee of Evan Delorie (152), Daniel Batstone (124), and Jack Kavanaugh (114).
Salem- The offense has a passing dimension you don’t always see from the Blue Devils, as Nolan Lumley has thrown for four touchdowns in two games. We’ll be there tonight when they travel to Concord.
Dover- This group needs and is capable of a marque win. They can get that when they travel to Portsmouth tomorrow night.
Windham- The Jaguars won't take a much improved Alvirne team lightly this weekend. Expect a steady diet of Tiger An running the football in that one.
Nashua North- The Titans have a lot of new faces and have been rotating Gavin Flynn (176 yards passing) and Jon Canaway (146) in at quarterback. Big test against rival Bishop Guertin on Saturday night.
Concord- The Tide has a chance to round into playoff form quickly. The schedule begins to ease up after opening with Londonderry. Tonight’s game is one of those 50/50 games you need to have to improve your playoff seed (both teams are going to the playoffs). The match-up with Salem will be one of their biggest games of the season.
Pelham- Memphis Patterson and the Pythons defensive line will get a good look at John Stark’s running game on Friday night. The Generals are going to be a playoff team, so let’s see how they stack up against the champs.
Souhegan- With apologies to Madux McGrath, who was outstanding last season for Robin Bowkett’s team, are the Sabers even better offensively than they were a year ago when they averaged 42 points a game?? If Romy Jain (335 passing with seven touchdowns in a game and a half) has time to throw…it’s over for your defense.
Plymouth- The Bobcats will beat you from the trenches out, as both the offensive and defensive lines have been dominant early on. The defense has only given up seven points with their starters on the field, as Zach Carter and Emmitt Nossaman have led a deep and talented group.
Kennett- The Eagles effectively pounded the football on the ground a year ago, but this is a more diverse offense in 2023. Deven Bailey is a big-time weapon at wide receiver, Brody Nagle looks more comfortable in Year 2 at quarterback, and Tyler Walcott is doing everything but running the 50/50 raffle at halftime for Scott Stearns’ team.
St Thomas- I’ll give the Saints a slight edge over the Generals. Ed McDonough’s team competed with Pelham last Friday night, trailing 14-0 at halftime before the game was called. Were they going to beat them? No, they very likely were not, but the Saints can take some confidence in their ability to compete with the champs.
John Stark- There is a very good vibe to this team. You can feel it when you talk to the players and the coaches. This team is happy to share the workload and believes in one another. Wins over Milford and Hanover are going to inch them up the standings all the way into November. When they needed to convert against Hanover, players like Joey Dykstra, Tim Lacharite, Weston Haartz, Donnie White, and Blake Sutkas stepped up.
Hanover- I expected them to throw the ball more with Roger Lucas back at quarterback (he attempted four passes against John Stark), but they went with Jeff Vidou (an outstanding football player, by the way) out of the wildcat for most of the second half. The defense played pretty well; they just got worn down by the heat and a ton of snaps on that side of the ball. They get a chance to get right and move to 2-1 against Milford this weekend.
Gilford-Belmont- That was a big (42-35) win over a good Sanborn team, and that opening weekend loss to Kennett that went down to the game's final possession looks pretty good right now. They can open up the running game by featuring Logan Grant down the field. If there is a better receiver in the division, I haven’t seen him yet.
Campbell- Scott Hershberger is averaging 18 yards a carry through two games this season. I don't really follow sports, but that seems pretty good to me…
Trinity- They answered their first challenge of the season emphatically, going up to Meredith (a tremendous spot to watch a football game) and beating a good Lakers team 42-0. In the win the Pioneers rushed for 279 yards (Alex Oyaronbi (81 yards) and Paul Thibault (78) led the way) and passed for 177.
Monadnock- The Huskies defense pitched a shutout last weekend against Stevens, and that unit will be the key tomorrow night against Inter-Lakes Moultonborough. Rob Lotito’s defense has been led by Ben Dean, Nick Ball, Tucker Johns, Braydon Dion, and Chase Elliott.
Inter-Lakes Moultonborough- The Lakers offense was held to just 65 yards in the loss to Trinity, but they can bounce back in a hurry Friday night in Swanzey. Time of possession is going to be the key. The Huskies wear teams down with eight minute/keep moving the chains drives. To earn the win, Guy Donnelly’s team must get their defense off the field.
Fall Mountain- I’m sticking with the Wildcats here while noting Con Val is 2-0 after wins over Kearsarge and Epping-Newmarket. Eric Franklin gives Orion Binney’s team a passing dynamic they have lacked at times in the past. He’s thrown for 228 yards and five touchdowns through two games.
We are going to begin ranking the contenders next week. We are only a week into the season (we just previewed the division last week). With two-time defending champion, Somersworth apparently going to be the last team in America to begin their season. They begin their title defense this weekend.