THE first Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll of this season has a similar look to the final Power Poll of last year — at least at the top.
Exeter, which finished as the poll’s No. 1 team in 2012, received all six first-place votes to debut at No. 1 in this week’s poll, which was released Monday morning.
The Blue Hawks, who also finished first in final poll of 2011, opened their season by beating Dover, 48-6, on Saturday. Exeter didn’t punt during its victory.
“We have all new backs, and we didn’t turn the ball over, which is always a concern,” Exeter coach Bill Ball said. “The defense is getting there. I thought we tackled pretty well.
“Let’s face it: Getting out of the gate with a victory is huge. Now we have to go over to Keene on Saturday night. That’s going to be a physical game.”
Keene, which is coming off a 34-0 thrashing of Nashua North in its season opener, is No. 7 in the Power Poll.
Bedford is in the No. 2 spot, thanks to its 14-12 triumph over traditional Division I power Pinkerton Academy of Derry on Friday night. It was Bedford’s first game at the Division I level after it spent last year in Division II and the season before that in Division III.
“Pinkerton’s a great program, and I feel confident that when they watch the film, they’ll realize they didn’t play a very good game,” Bedford coach Kurt Hines said. “I think both teams could have played better.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. At the same time we have a lot to work on, obviously.”
Three other Division I teams — Concord, Nashua South and Pinkerton — round out the top five.
“Not very good on offense, “ Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly said following Friday night’s loss to Bedford. “We’re missing something in the running game. We could not run the ball between the tackles consistently. Skill people were dropping like flies in the secondary and the offensive backfield.
“I knew that Bedford could toss the ball all over the place. It’s what they do. Considering the fact that we had no offense to keep them off the field consistently, I thought we did a decent job defensively.”
The rest of the poll, in order, includes Winnacunnet of Hampton, Keene, Trinity of Manchester, Londonderry and Plymouth Regional. Trinity and Plymouth are the only non-Division I teams in the poll. The Pioneers and Bobcats both compete in Division II.
Two other Division I teams, Merrimack and Bishop Guertin of Nashua, also received votes but did not crack the top 10.
NASHUA SOUTH fans had to temper their celebration after Friday night’s 34-24 victory over Spaulding of Rochester, since South quarterback/defensive back Trevor Knight left that game early in the second half with a dislocated thumb.
Knight had X-rays on Friday and a medical evaluation Monday.
“There are no chips or cracks or breaks,” said South coach Scott Knight, who is also Trevor’s father. “That’s a real big thing.”
Scott Knight said no additional damage was discovered when Trevor was evaluated Monday.
“Everything looks good,” he said. “He’s only out one or two weeks.”
Trevor Knight, who has committed to play for the University of New Hampshire, passed for 132 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 82 yards before he suffered the injury. He also intercepted two passes.
Scott Knight said junior Malik Langa will start at quarterback when South plays Alvirne of Hudson in Nashua on Thursday night.
“He’s going to be pretty good,” Scott Knight said of Langa. “We like him. He’s going to be our guy next year.”
In the meantime, he’ll have to be South’s guy this year for at least a week or two.
“It’s a great challenge for our team,” Scott Knight said.
LAST WEEKEND’S most dramatic finish took place in Meredith, where Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough beat Franklin, 27-26, at home.
I-L/M trailed 26-19 until wingback Kodey Converse scored on a 4-yard run with no time remaining. Wingback Nick Brothers added the 2-point conversion that handed the Lakers the victory.
“It was the same play,” Inter-Lakes coach Jon Francis said of the TD and conversion. “There wasn’t even a question that we were going for two. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of guy.”
Franklin led 20-19 and added to that lead when Corey Parent intercepted a pass and returned it for a TD with 2:39 to play. Parent also rushed for two touchdowns.
The loss came in Jeff Kaplan’s first game as Franklin’s head coach. Kaplan replaced Greg Husband, who guided Franklin to a victory over Mascoma in last year’s Division VI championship game but was fired in the offseason. After losing to the Golden Tornadoes in the final, Mascoma Valley Regional of Canaan filed a complaint with the NHIAA, alleging that Franklin players acted in an unsportsmanlike manner at game’s end.
“I’ve been coaching at Inter-Lakes since 2008, and that’s the classiest, most disciplined Franklin team I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Francis said. “Coach Kaplan will do a good job with that team.”
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.