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October 29. 2012 9:55PM

Exeter, Pinkerton riding highest in NHIAA football Power Poll

Exeter's tenacious defense posted its third shutout in Division I, and the Blue Hawks maintained sole possession of the No. 1 spot in this week's New Hampshire Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll.

The Blue Hawks pounded Nashua North, 38-0, impressing enough voters to gain some ground on No. 2-ranked Pinkerton of Derry. Exeter (8-1) received six of eight first-place votes and 78 of a possible 80 points in the Week 8 poll.

Pinkerton (8-1) manhandled Manchester Central in a 42-0 contest on Saturday in Derry. The Astros received two first-place votes while racking up 73 points in the poll. Central (5-4) dropped out of the poll after ranking fifth last week. The Little Green, still in position for a playoff berth, have been shellacked by both teams atop the poll. Exeter beat Central, 49-0, in Week 3.

So which team is better, Exeter or Pinkerton? (Exeter posted a 24-20 win at Pinkerton in Week 2).

“They're both tremendous teams and tremendous programs. We didn't score a point against either one of them, and we gave up 91 points against them,” Central coach Ryan Ray said.

And if Ray could vote in the poll?

“I probably wouldn't submit a vote,” he said. “I just know we have a lot of work to do at Central.”

Bedford (7-1) and Winnacunnet of Hampton (8-1) stayed at third and fourth, respectively, while Bishop Guertin of Nashua slipped four spots to No. 9 after losing, 20-7, at home against Keene. This week, BG has a chance to rebound with a strong showing against Winnacunnet in a regular-season finale.

Top-ranked Pinkerton, taking on No. 5 Nashua South (6-3) this week, also faces a tough challenge before entering the playoffs. Keene (7-1) improved two spots and stands at No. 6 after the big win at BG.

Seventh-ranked Souhegan of Amherst (8-1) owns a comfortable eight-point cushion over No. 8 Plymouth (9-0), which gave coach Chuck Lenahan a milestone 343rd career victory on Saturday against John Stark of Weare. With the win, Lenahan stands alone as the all-time winningest high school coach in New England.

Former St. Thomas of Dover coach Rod Wotton, who retired in 2010, posted 342 career wins during stops at three high schools.

Tenth-ranked Trinity of Manchester (8-1) suffered its only loss of the regular season to Plymouth.

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