Every year, we hand the football championship previews off to the people who know these teams better than anyone, the coaches who face them during the regular season.
We asked two opposing head coaches to break down Saturday's championship game using blind quotes.
Ben Conant and I will be at Stellos Stadium in Nashua, bringing you all the highlights and the post-game interview/celebration with the winning team.
Our scouting report preview is brought to you by partners at Buffalo Wild Wings in Manchester, Nashua, and Concord.
We'll be hosting watch parties for the Division champions!
(1) Pelham vs. (2) Plymouth
The two teams did not meet in the regular season.
Tom Babaian's Pythons last defeat was on Saturday, November 9th, 2019, in a game we covered. A 14-12 quarterfinal loss to….drum roll please…..the Plymouth Bobcats.
Since then, Pelham has won three championships in a row (two in Division III and last season in Division II), a run that includes a 63-14 blowout victory over Plymouth in the first round last season.
We asked two head coaches to break down the two teams and the match-up, beginning with the champs.
"Their physicality is what stands out most about them," said one of the head coaches. "I don't mean this as a knock, but they have the intention to intimidate you. They will talk, push you off your spot, and beat you. There is a confidence and a swagger that comes with all those wins, and they certainly have that."
A fellow coach agreed.
"They are very aggressive on defense and do a nice job of eliminating big plays. They tackle well in space and know their defensive assignments."
"Tom is a very good coach. He and his staff do an excellent job."
"They have two very good backs in Dom Herrling and Connor Travis, who run behind an excellent offensive line. They won't try to trick you. They just run what they run and do it very well."
"When you play Pelham, you must stop their big plays; you just can't allow them. They'll hit you with the waggle play or a counter-cross with Herrling, and next thing you know, they have gone for a 60–yard touchdown, and your defense feels defeated."
"Their offensive line has been together for three years. They're tough to go up against, even when you know what they're running."
What about the Pelham defense?
"Memphis Patterson is a terrific football player. He and Diego Jiminez sort of go together, and when we played them, we ran away from wherever Patterson lined up. We practiced it all week."
"You need to take some of the air out of the ball when you play them. We were in the huddle until the back judge raised his hand that there were ten seconds left on the play clock, then we would rush to the line and snap the ball. I think that frustrated them a little bit."
"When you win that many games in a row, you expect to win. They'll be big favorites again on Saturday, but I think Plymouth can keep it close and frustrate them at times."
"They have put up over four hundred points this season. So you don't want them getting into a rhythm."
"Their linebackers are very aggressive. They are not making reads, they are hitting the gaps hard, and they tackle very well."
What about Chris Sanborn's Plymouth Bobcats?
"Very well coached by Coach Sanborn, and Coach Lamb is excellent with their defense. I think they work well as a staff. Chris handles the offense, and Tom handles the defense while (Coach Sanborn) manages everyone."
"They are one of the most improved teams in our division from the beginning of the season to now. Having to face St Thomas and Sanborn at the end of the season forced them to get into playoff mode early, which has benefited them."
"They had an outstanding back last season (Dylan Welch), but now it's several backs, and they are all very good."
"Gabe Kean (who was injured and did not play last week against Souhegan) is really good when running counter. Robbie Thorne is a big physical back who can turn two yards into four just by pushing the pile, and Ben Valenti has really emerged for them."
"Tyler Mederios was a player on their line who really gave us trouble, along with Emmitt Nossaman and Tyler Dekutoski. They play very disciplined, and that (defensive line) unit seems to have good chemistry."
"They usually play 4-4 with man coverage. You can get them with a big play, but they adjust very quickly if you find something for you that's really working."
A fellow coach agreed.
"What Plymouth does better than any team we played is, they take away what your best option is."
"They are like Pelham in that they don't do anything fancy; they just execute and grind you down. Look at the final four teams in Division I, and who is in the championship for our division; they are all teams that run the football."
" Might not be 'sexy,' but that's what wins a lot of games at the high school level."
"Chris is an outstanding coach, and Tom has that defense playing very well. Souhegan is a difficult team to hold to twenty points."
So, how do you see the game going on Saturday?
"Both teams want to force the other to throw the football. Not that Luke Diamond and Nick Muise aren't good quarterbacks, they are. You just don't want them to play to their strengths, and that's running the football."
"I think Souhegan beats Plymouth on a neutral field, but I think Plymouth matches up better with Pelham."
"You do not want to run east-west against Pelham; you must go right at them."
"I think it's going to be a very competitive game."
So who wins?
"You can't pick against Pelham until someone beats them. I'll go with Pelham by a touchdown or two. It will be a good game.
"I'm going with Pelham, but I think it's going to be a close game."
My pick: I'm going with the champs in a very good game. Either team can win this game.