Roger Brown's First and 10: Playoff picture comes into focus
THE FINAL pieces of the Division I playoff puzzle were put in place Friday night, when Pinkerton Academy of Derry defeated Nashua South, 40-20, at Nashua's Stellos Stadium.
Pinkerton earned the No. 2 seed and a home playoff game with the victory. Pinkerton (9-1 overall, 7-1 in Division I) will meet third-seeded South (6-4, 5-3) again in Saturday's semifinals.
Top-seeded Exeter (9-1, 8-0) will face fourth-seeded Manchester Central (6-4, 5-3) in Saturday's other semifinal. Exeter beat Central 49-0 during the regular season. Central committed six turnovers in the loss.
Central went 0-3 against the other teams in this year's playoff field, and was outscored 126-28 in those three contests.
"The first game was an aberration to say the least," Exeter coach Bill Ball said. "Everything fell our way. We know what we're in for. They have a potent offense, they're good up front and they've moved the ball on everybody they've played."
If Exeter and Pinkerton advance, the Blue Hawks and Astros would meet in the Division I championship game for the second consecutive year. Exeter won last year's game, 23-13, in Derry.
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There's a chance a doubleheader will be played at Exeter on Saturday. Following Friday night's Division II game between Winnacunnet and Bishop Guertin of Nashua, Winnacunnet coach Ron Auffant and BG coach Travis Cote discussed the possibly of moving the location of their playoff game if weather makes Winnacunnet's home field unplayable.
Auffant said Exeter's Eustis Field would be his first choice if the game can't be played in Hampton.
Ball said if there are two games played at Eustis Field on Saturday, the second game would likely start at 7 p.m. The Exeter-Central game is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m.
"It's been talked about, but it's not something I expect to happen," Ball said.
Winnacunnet (9-1 7-1) secured the No. 1 seed by beating BG, 28-14, Friday. The Cardinals (5-4, 5-3) will enter the postseason as the No. 4 seed.
Saturday's other Division II semifinal will feature two of the state's top quarterbacks in Bedford's James Caparell and Keene's Lucas Luopa.
Caparell completed 21 of 30 passes for 331 yards when second-seeded Bedford (8-1, 7-1) beat third-seeded Keene (8-2, 6-2), 25-24, during the regular season. Luopa ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. He also completed 8 of 18 passes for 104 yards and one TD. He was intercepted twice.
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The playoff seedings in Division III were not finalized entering Saturday night's game between Souhegan of Amherst and Goffstown at St. Anselm College.
Souhegan has already wrapped up the No. 1 seed and will play either Goffstown or Portsmouth in the semifinals. Goffstown needed to beat Souhegan to land the No. 2 seed and a home playoff game against Milford.
A Souhegan victory over Goffstown would create the following semifinal matchups: No. 4 Goffstown at No. 1 Souehgan, and No. 3 Portsmouth at No. 2 Milford.
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Roger Brown may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.