Marc Thaler's First and 10: Memorial coach faces blitz
Manchester Memorial head coach Peter Colcord spent the back half of this past week in distraction-prevention mode.
News of a potential eligibility violation involving a player on his roster — and possible sanctions that may result from it — forced Colcord to answer many questions.
Talk about facing a blitz. It came from players and assistants alike.
“First of all, there's nothing we can do if (a punishment) comes down (from the NHIAA). Everything is out of our hands,” Colcord said before Saturday's game against No. 6 Central, the school from which the player transferred last April. The Little Green triumphed, 42-13.
Colcord said he believed the likelihood of Memorial receiving a multiple-year ban from the Division I postseason — certainly a worst-case scenario for any program — is unlikely. As for forfeiting wins, or receiving another sanction entirely, Memorial's mentor said he is practicing what he is preaching.
“We've got to keep the faith, that good things will happen and our players will be allowed to participate,” he said.
Colcord stressed that his team could only control how it played in Week 5 against Central, a squad widely considered one of the league's top high school teams.
No sense in wasting energy contemplating off-the-field scenarios that may — or may not — play out.
“We're talking about kids. They bounce back from a lot of things,” Colcord said. “These kids, they trust me and believe in me.”
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SEVENTH-RANKED Concord faced arguably the toughest Week 5 test: defending champion and No. 2 Exeter, coming off a three-point loss to fierce Seacoast rival Winnacunnet of Hampton.
“It didn't seem like they had any let-down at all,” said Concord head coach Eric Brown, whose team lost, 28-0, Friday night on the Seacoast. “They are tough. And very physical.”
Concord (3-2 overall, 2-2 Div. I) played with similar toughess — at times.
Defensive linemen Dylan Naylor, Alex Cohen, Kris Skinner, Seth Gosse and Wyatt LaBombard applied pressure, though it wasn't consistent.
Brown said Exeter (4-1, 3-0 Div. I) extended drives with third- and fourth-down conversions. Quarterback Ethan Joyce, and running backs Tyler Grantand Jamie Vogt were difference-makers.
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NASHUA SOUTH on offense routinely faced managable down-and-distance situations Friday night at Stellos Stadium in Nashua.
It was the biggest reason head coach Scott Knight said his Purple Panthers returned to their point-scoring ways, and recorded a 30-17 win over Gate City rival Nashua North.
“We were second-and-10, third-and-11 the whole game (at Concord). We could never run our offense,” Knight said while explaining South's three-point scoring output from Week 4. “We need those second-and-5's, third-and-4's, so we can do what we do.”
What No. 10 South (3-2, 2-1 Div. I) can't continue to do is commit penalties, particularly while waiting for big boys Bobby Manganello and Christian Stack to return from injuries.
“We had 35 yards in penalties on the first two drives (against North),” Knight said. “You can't move the ball if you're going backwards.”
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SOMETHING FOR voters to consider as they fill out their Week 6 Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll ballots: No. 1 Winnacunnet needed two overtimes Saturday to survive sub-.500 Dover, 31-24.
The Green Wave (1-4, 1-2 Div. II) previously lost to No. 2 Exeter and No. 4 Bishop Guertin of Nashua by a 27.5-point average. Are the Warriors (5-0, 3-0 Div. II) still No. 1-worthy?
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TORRENTIAL RAIN Friday night in Rochester didn't keep No. 8 Keene from shutting out host Spaulding.
Despite losing four of eight fumbles, the Blackbirds (4-1, 2-1 Div. II) scored a 6-0 win on the strength of disciplined defense. Linebacker Hunter Wilkinson held his ground, particularly when the Red Raiders (1-4, 1-3 Div. II) ran the bootleg.
Cornerbacks Matt DelVecchio and Tom Galanes provided containment on the edges.
Keene head coach John Luopa said Spaulding's offense advanced inside the 30-yard line once in the second half.
“Our defense, which didn't play well at different points the previous week (in a 25-24 home loss to Bedford), stepped up,” Luopa said. “We were physical. It was a physical game. And the conditions were awful.”
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Marc Thaler covers high school football for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He co-hosts the “N.H. Sports Show” Saturday morning on WGIR-AM 610 and the Seacoast's 96.7. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.