Our Division II semifinal preview is sponsored by Concord Orthopaedics, the official sponsor of the football & basketball programs from Concord, Bow, John Stark, Kearsarge & Bishop Brady.
On our Saturday morning radio show I remember telling Pete, ‘ I feel like there is going to be a lower seed that wins on the road today in Division II but I just can’t pinpoint where.’
I can tell you now I had no idea it was going to happen in Windham..
The Bow coaches waited all season for a team littered with seniors who were on the field at UNH in last year’s Division II championship game to put it all together for four quarters. They finally did that in a shocking 20-15 win over top-seeded Windham in a game that wasn’t decided until a Cody Potter led drive stalled in Bow territory in the final minute of regulation.
Plymouth and Bow are one win away from a Division II title game rematch last seen two years ago when St Thomas and Windham split the 2014 & 2015 championship contests.
Standing between them are the two most overlooked teams in the division; undefeated Hanover and once-beaten St Thomas.
Jennifer Chick-Ruth & I will be back in Plymouth to bring you all the highlights & the post-game interview with the entire winning team when St Thomas battles Plymouth.
St Thomas (8-1) at Plymouth (9-0)
The Bobcats beat the Saints last season in the quarterfinals on their way to Durham. They’ll have to beat them again on Saturday to get back.
Ryan Brown’s Saints are going to have to be able to run the football in order to win this game, that means a productive afternoon out of Tim Bouchard who rushed for 100 yards last weekend against John Stark.
St Thomas is the rare team with very good balance between their ability to throw the football with Shawn Dekorne (1,405 passing yards and 13 TDs on the season) and running it with Bouchard & Edwin Estevez. Plymouth has maybe the best secondary in the division, if not the state, with Nolan Farina, Jordan Docen, and Colby Moore all back from last year’s title team (Farina did miss significant time with an injury in 2016).
Upfront Dylan Hixon, Steven Shute (he of the INT for a touchdown last Saturday) and Cam MacDonald have all been essential to the 9-0 start. Their task Saturday is to try and make St Thomas a one-dimensional football team. Chris Sanborn and his staff of thirteen assistant’s (13!!) know that if Dekorne has to drop back to throw 40 times not only is the vaunted secondary very likely to get their hands on a few throws but it allows players like Garrett Macomber to pin their ears back & rush the passer at will.
The St Thomas defense is underrated; Bouchard is as good as any football player in the state and they get pressure in the backfield routinely from their defensive line. Saturday they will need to play their best game of the season to pull the upset in Plymouth, but they are a veteran crew fully capable of doing it.
Bow (7-2) at Hanover (9-0)
The Bow Falcons played their best game of the year in order to stun undefeated Windham on the road last weekend.
Now all they need to do is do it all again.
Jack Corriveau was a beast in rushing for 158 yards on 22 carries while also making several big plays from the linebacker spot. The Falcons defensive front led by Nolan Filteau, Justin Porath & Matt Nicholls was able to hold the Jaguars offense in check and nearly finished off a fourth-quarter goal-line stand that saw Windham get in on 4th & goal.
If there is one advantage for Bow, who has to go on the road to face a team they haven’t played all season, it’s that Sam Cavallaro’s team will run a similar Wing-T offense to the one Bow saw last weekend. Alex Mosenthal will line up under center and distribute the ball between Caleb Putnam & Griffin Young for an offense that averaged 34.2 ppg.
Hanover’s defense will be tasked with slowing down Corriveau and an offense that converted their game-winning drive with the season on the line last weekend. Nick Putnam, Mike Staiger, Bobby Putnam, Jake Licht, Caleb Putnam, Jeffrey Holt and….wait for it….Elijah Putnam will lead the Marauder defense. Yes, two sets of Putnam brothers because frankly, you can never have enough Putnam’s.
Hanover puts the ‘ Yeah but they didn’t play that tough of a schedule’ comments to rest with a win Saturday. For Bow, they would take the toughest road possible to a possible rematch with Plymouth.