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H.S. Football Power Poll: Debate in the middle

Staff report
September 24. 2018 10:38PM

If you’re no worse than 3-1 in Division I, you’re in this week’s New Hampshire Union Leader High School Football Power Poll.

But where?

While Pinkerton Academy, Bedford and Winnacunnet remained 1-2-3 in this week’s poll, and Division II Plymouth Regional jumped two spots to No. 4, the rest of the top 10, with one exception, is a collection of 3-1 units from the state’s top division. All five members of the “3-1 club” are in postseason contention, and most have wins over another member of the “club,” leading to a wide disagreement from the poll’s six voters.

Take Nashua North, for instance. The Titans who outscored then-No. 4 Manchester Central at Gill Stadium last Friday, received a fourth-place vote, two fifths, a seventh, an eighth and a ninth from voters. Add the numbers and the Titans are sixth, up from ninth, in this week’s poll, and they battle Gate City rival Nashua South on Friday night at Stellos Stadium.

Londonderry, despite its one-sided loss to Pinkerton, remained No. 5. The Lancers play a rare Saturday afternoon home game this week, against new Division I rival Windham.

In order, Salem (3-1), Central (3-1), Exeter (2-2) and Merrimack (3-1) follow North in the rankings. Only Merrimack lacks a win over a ranked team.

“... Most of the 3-1 clubs on my list will show their true colors in the next two weeks,” said Joe Duball of the Union Leader. “Central and Salem will be undefeated teams (Central at Bedford, Salem at Pinkerton) this week, while Londonderry tangles with another undefeated (Winnacunnet) next week. I could see Central ending up as the best of these middling teams and give them a shot to upset Bedford if their defense comes to play.”

No. 1 Pinkerton actually gained ground this week by earning all six No. 1 votes for a perfect score of 60. The Astros had 59 last week.

“The fact Pinkerton changed its offensive game plan to a ground-heavy attack on the fly and used that handily beat a strong Londonderry team solidified that the Astros are the best team in the state,” said the Union Leader’s Alex Hall.

Added Hall, “I’m interested to see how Manchester Central responds to its shootout loss to Nashua North when it travels to unbeaten Bedford, which has yet to really be challenged. The Little Green have scored at least 21 points in every game while Bedford has not surrended more than seven to any of its opponents.”

Said Pete Tarrier of NH High School Football Radio Show (99.9 FM/1370 AM), “It seems to me that both Pinkerton and Bedford have separated themselves from the rest of the pack as the best teams in the state at this point. Winnacunnet is close, but I have them just a notch below the Astros and Bulldogs because they don’t have as much depth.”

Thirteen teams received votes this week, including Division III Campbell (4-0), which battles Trinity (3-1) on Saturday night in Litchfield under portable lights.