IT TOOK a six-game winning streak to get there, but Manchester Central has played its way into the Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll.
Central, which improved to 6-2 with its 42-30 triumph over Salem on Friday night, is No. 6 in the latest poll, which was released Monday morning.
Central is facing a must-win game against No. 2 Bedford (7-1) on Friday night in Bedford. The winner will secure a Division I playoff berth and will face No. 1 Concord in the Division I North championship game. The loser will not qualify for the playoffs.
Central opened the season with losses to No. 1 Concord and No. 3 Pinkerton Academy of Derry before it collected the first of six consecutive wins. None of those victories came against a team currently above the .500-mark, however. Bedford’s only loss came at Concord.
Nashua South, which dropped a 42-28 decision at Keene, slipped from No. 2 to No. 4. South’s loss left Concord (8-0) as the only unbeaten team in Division I. Keene moved from No. 7 to No. 5 with the victory.
Bishop Guertin of Nashua dropped from No. 5 to No. 7 after it was upset by Nashua North, 14-7. BG will need to beat Timberlane of Plaistow this weekend and have Alvirne upset Keene to qualify for the playoffs.
Division II Portsmouth fell from No. 6 to No. 8 despite its 51-7 victory over Pembroke Academy on Saturday.
Exeter moved from No. 10 to No. 9 after beating Timberlane 41-14, and Plymouth dropped from No. 9 to No. 10 even though it defeated Hanover 42-14.
Division II Trinity of Manchester (6-2) dropped out of the poll after it suffered a 52-20 loss against Windham (7-1).
ENTERING the regular season’s final weekend, three teams are still fighting for the two playoff spots in Division I East. Spaulding of Rochester (5-3), Exeter (5-3) and Winnacunnet of Hampton (5-3) are tied for first place.
Spaulding and Exeter can each advance with a victory this weekend. Spaulding plays Dover (2-6), and Exeter will face Nashua North (3-5). If the Red Raiders or the Blue Hawks lose, Winnacunnet would qualify with a win against Nashua South.
SANBORN of Kingston clinched the first playoff berth in the program’s history when it beat Kingswood of Wolfeboro 28-14 Saturday. Sanborn, which has been playing varsity football since 2008, improved its record to 5-3 and will play Monadnock of Swanzey (8-0) in the Division II West championship game.
Mike Rich gained 170 yards and scored three touchdowns in the victory over Kingswood. Monadnock beat Sanborn 27-19 earlier this season.
A DIVISION III playoff berth will be on the line when Newport (5-2) plays Mascoma Valley (5-2) in Canaan on Saturday. The winner will play Stevens of Claremont (5-2) in the Division III West title game.
Roger Brown covers high school football for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @603sportsmedia.