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Roger Brown's H.S. Football: Rivalry gets dialed up a notch

September 20. 2018 11:10PM

THE ANNUAL football game between Londonderry High School and Pinkerton Academy is special every season, but there are some years when the game fits into the extra-special category. This appears to be one of those years.

Not only is the Londonderry-Pinkerton rivalry the equal of any in the state, tonight’s game at Lancer Park will have an atmosphere as good as an NHIAA venue can provide. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 fans could be in attendance to watch the Lancers tangle with the Astros.

What gives this year’s game a little more juice than most Pinkerton-Londonderry contests is the fact that both teams are 3-0. Pinkerton is the No. 1 team in the Union Leader Power Poll, and Londonderry is in the No. 5 spot.

“No matter whose field you’re playing on you’re playing in front of about 5,000 people,” Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly said. “That gives you the intensity factor you want.”

Jimmy Lauzon said he didn’t fully understand how much interest there is in the Londonderry-Pinkerton game until halftime of regular-season matchup in 2014, which was his first year as the Lancers’ coach.

“I couldn’t get through the people to get to the locker room,” Lauzon recalled. “That’s when I realized how many people go to this game and how many people care.

“You could play Division II or Division III college football and you may not play in a game this big in terms of the number of people watching. Both teams should take a moment to take it in.”

The rivalry was born from the fact that until the late 1970s, students from Londonderry attended Pinkerton. The programs have met in one championship game: Pinkerton beat Londonderry 21-0 to win the 1993 Division I title.

“Back when it was really going good we had fathers who attended Pinkerton watching their sons play for Londonderry,” O’Reilly explained. “Londonderry-Pinkerton has always been a big deal. Always will be a big deal.”

As good as the rivalry is, it’s also been one-sided. Pinkerton leads the series 30-6 and hasn’t lost to Londonderry since the 2001 season, when the Lancers posted a 35-0 victory over a Pinkerton team that entered that game with a 5-0 record.

Tonight’s matchup will be a New Hampshire Tackles Hunger game, which means spectators for both teams are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to Lancer Park. The items collected will be donated to a local food pantry.

Londonderry built its 3-0 record by beating Portsmouth (49-7), Salem (28-21) and Timberlane (44-14). Pinkerton has victories over Spaulding (49-0), Dover (56-28) and Exeter (17-7) “Their speed is probably my main concern,” Lauzon said. “They are fast. Defensively we have to keep stopping the run.”

The winner of tonight’s matchup will be the only unbeaten team remaining in Division I South.

“We knew they had a lot of people coming back (from last season),” O’Reilly said. “They have good skill-position people. They have a big line. They throw the ball well. Run the ball well. That’s why they are what they are right now.”

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Colby Quiet, a junior running back/outside linebacker, is among the reasons Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton is off to a 2-1 start in Division III. Quiet was limited by a hip injury last season, but has scored six touchdowns (four rushing, two receiving) so far this season.

“He’s not that big (5-foot-9, 170 pounds), but he’s a very strong kid,” H-D/H coach Jay Wood said. “He commits himself to the weight room. He’s a gamer.”

Quiet, who lines up at both fullback and tailback for the Redhawks, has run for 364 yards on 46 carries, and has five receptions for 115 yards this season. In addition to his six touchdowns, he’s also scored a two-point conversion.

His contributions on the other side of the ball include eight solo tackles, 18 assisted tackles and one interception.

“He hasn’t been a surprise at all because I knew his potential — he just wasn’t healthy (last season),” Wood said. “And a healthy Colby Quiet is a good addition to the team on both sides of the ball.”

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Close games have been a rarity in Division III this season. Only two of the 18 Division III games played so far were decided by seven points or fewer.

Five games were decided by at least 41 points, four games have been decided by at least 33 points and two games were decided by at least 22 points. The margin of victory was at least 13 points in four other contests. The only other Division III game played so far was Laconia’s 27-18 victory over Kearsarge/Mount Royal.

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Two of the three unbeaten teams in Division IV will meet this weekend when Winnisquam plays at Newfound of Bristol on Saturday. Both teams are 2-0.

Putting up some resistance against the Newfound offense may be the key for Winnisquam, since Newbound has scored 117 points in its two games. The Bears breezed to victories over Bishop Brady (61-13) and Raymond (56-28). Winnisquam’s wins came against Farmington-Nute (39-7) and Fall Mountain (20-12).

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Plymouth (No. 6) and Hanover (No. 10) are the only Division II teams in this week’s Power Poll. Both teams are 3-0, and are the only unbeaten teams in Division II North. St. Thomas, which competes in Division II South, is the only other unbeaten Division II team.

Plymouth and Hanover will meet on the regular season’s final weekend in Hanover.