Roger Brown's First and 10: Semi sweet Saturday
The best day New Hampshire high school football has to offer is almost upon us. Six semifinal-round playoff games — two in each of the three divisions — will be played Saturday to determine the matchups for next weekend's three championship games.
Each semifinal is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., and will be played at the home of the higher-seeded team. Here's a look at each contest:
No. 4 Exeter (7-3) at No. 1 Concord (10-0): Concord is the No. 1 team in the Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll and is the only unbeaten team in the state. The key for No. 5 Exeter will be keeping the Crimson Tide offense off the field. Concord has scored at least 43 points in six of its 10 games. … Concord running back Marc Gaudet scored three TDs in the second quarter of Saturday's 53-14 victory over Manchester Central, but was limited to one series in the second half because of a leg injury. Concord quarterback Robbie Law completed 12 of 17 passes for 201 yards in that victory. His top target was wide receiver Seimou Smith, who caught four passes for a season-high 110 yards in that game. … Exeter has won the last two Division I championships. … Exeter's Jay Inzenga has rushed for a team-high 1,236 yards on 172 carries this season. Inzenga has run for 11 touchdowns. … Concord is seeking its first state title since 2000. … The teams did not meet in the regular season.
No. 3 Pinkerton Academy (8-2) at No. 2 Keene (8-2): This game features teams ranked No. 2 (Pinkerton of Derry) and No. 3 (Keene) in the Power Poll. … Keene caught fire shortly after Alex Parenteau was moved from fullback to quarterback in Week 3. Parenteau has completed 71 of 109 passes for 1,084 yards and 17 TDs this season. He's also rushed for 1,050 yards and 16 touchdowns. … The Astros are a couple of plays away from an unbeaten record. Pinkerton suffered a two-point loss at Bedford, and lost to Concord in overtime. … Pinkerton has one of the top players in the state on each side of the ball in linebacker Matt Madden and running back Manny Latimore. Latimore is also a dangerous kick returner. … The Blackbirds, who enter this contest on a seven-game winning streak, haven't won a state championship since 1970, when they shared the Division I title with Manchester Central. … The teams did not meet during the regular season.
No. 4 Sanborn Regional (6-4) at No. 1 Plymouth Regional (9-1): Sanborn picked up the program's first playoff victory by knocking off previously unbeaten Monadnock 18-9 last weekend. The Indians began playing varsity football in 2008. … The No. 9 Bobcats are seeking their 20th state championship under head coach Check Lenahan, who is in his 43rd and final season as Plymouth's head coach. The Bobcats have reached the championship game in their division in four of the last five years. … Jared Kuehl, Plymouth's leading rusher, missed Saturday's victory over Kennett of Conway with an injury. … Running back Mike Rich has come on strong for Sanborn during the second half of the season. His 56-yard TD run in the third quarter gave Sanborn the lead for good against Monadnock. … The teams did not meet during the regular season.
No. 3 Trinity (8-2) at No. 2 Portsmouth (9-1): These teams met in Week 1, when No. 10 Trinity posted a 58-37 victory in Portsmouth. Trinity of Manchester quarterback Carmen Giampetruzzi completed 11 of 15 passes for 358 yards and four touchdowns in that win. Austin Chambers was Giampetruzzi's top target that night. Chambers had five catches for 240 yards and two TDs. … No. 6 Portsmouth has won nine games in a row since losing to the Pioneers. … One of the biggest questions entering this game will be the health of Portsmouth running back Mikel Toar, who was at less than full strength in Saturday's 37-34 triumph over Merrimack Valley. … Portsmouth quarterback Donovan Phanor has completed 80 of 147 passes for 1,354 yards and 15 TDs this season (four interceptions). He has run the ball 98 times for 640 yards and 11 TDs. … Portsmouth played in the Division III championship game in each of the last five years. Trinity reached the Division IV title game in each of the last three seasons.
No. 4 Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (5-4) at No. 1 Bow (8-1): Bow knocked off previously unbeaten Pelham 18-6 in Saturday's Division III South championship game. Matt Ehrenberg, who holds the school record for yards rushing in a season (1,338), gained 226 yards on 22 carries in that victory. … Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough of Meredith advanced with a 27-14 come-from-behind victory over Gilford in the Division III North title game. Nick Brothers scored two fourth-quarter TDs in that victory. … Bow has scored at least 28 points in seven of its eight victories, and is allowing an average of 9.3 points per game. … The Falcons won the regular-season meeting 33-0 in Meredith.
No. 3 Epping-Newmarket (5-4) at No. 2 Stevens (7-2): The Cardinals lost two of their first three games, but have won six in a row since then. … Stevens of Claremont running back Donald Pellerin has rushed for 1,332 yards and 20 touchdowns on 237 carries this season. … Defense has been the key recently for Epping-Newmarket, which has allowed 34 points in its last three games — all victories. Epping-Newmarket is coming off a 28-0 victory over Bishop Brady of Concord in the Division III East championship game. Joe Leclerc gained 169 yards on 22 carries in that contest. … Epping-Newmarket has never won a state championship. Stevens is seeking its first state title since 1962 (Division III). … These teams did not meet during the regular season.
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The NFHS Network will be live streaming two NHIAA semifinal football games this weekend and each of next weekend's three championship games.
The Division I contest between Exeter and Concord, and the Division II game between Sanborn and Plymouth are the semifinal games selected for live streaming.
These games will be lived streamed by PlayOn Sports on the NFHS Network. Fans can watch these games live online with a subscription at http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/channels/new-hampshire.
The events are also available on mobile devices at m.nfhsnetwork.com and subscribers can download the NFHS Network app from the iTunes store.
Roger Brown covers high school football for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @603sportsmedia.