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Roger Brown's First and 10: Something's gotta give in Memorial vs. Central

Manchester Central and Manchester Memorial each will enter Saturday's Division I matchup (1 p.m.) with their collective tails between their legs.

Memorial (1-1) scored seven touchdowns in the first three quarters Friday night, but that wasn't enough to beat Merrimack. The Tomahawks erased a 20-point second-half deficit and posted a 53-47 victory.

"We could not stop their power run, and they just blew us back," Memorial coach Peter Colcord said. "We're just not tough enough on defense. We're very undisciplined on defense.

"Obviously we have a lot of skill kids (on offense). They think they can score 100 points and do Madden football."

Merrimack scored twice on Memorial turnovers — the Tomahawks returned an interception for a touchdown in the first half and scored on a Memorial fumble in the third quarter — and Merrimack's final TD was set up by a bad snap from punt formation.

"We got careless with the ball," Colcord said. "That's what I'm talking about with undisciplined kids. They fall behind or they get in a pressure situation, and they try to press instead of staying within the system."

Central's situation is a bit more dire. The Little Green opened with a 35-6 loss to Concord then dropped a 37-20 decision to Pinkerton Academy of Derry.

"I didn't think that we played that well in either of our games," Central coach Ryan Ray said. "We're showing the signs of a young team, and that's what we are.

"Every time we play a city school, there's a heightened sense of urgency because it's a rivalry game, whether you're 0-2 or 2-0."

If there's a silver lining for Central it's this: Each of the team's losses came against an opponent ranked among the top five in this week's Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll. Concord is tied with Bedford at No. 2, and Pinkerton is fifth.

Saturday presents the Green with another tough test.

"Memorial has some of the best athletes we've seen," Ray said. "Their skill guys are right up there with what we saw from Pinkerton and Concord.

"We have to improve on everything. We have to worry about ourselves and get better."

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THERE ARE two Division I games this weekend featuring a pair of unbeaten teams in the Power Poll: No. 2 Bedford will play No. 9 Londonderry tonight (7), and No. 6 Winnacunnet of Hampton will play at Exeter on Saturday (1:30 p.m.).

Exeter, which has won the last two Division I championships, leads its series with Winnacunnet 54-25-2. Winnacunnet, last year's Division II champion, was the only team that beat Exeter last season.

"We'll have to play tough against the run," Winnacunnet coach Ron Auffant said. "Like all of our Exeter games, this one will be won in the box."

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MERRIMACK VALLEY of Penacook didn't win a game last season, but will bring a 2-0 record into Friday night's Division II game at Portsmouth (1-1).

Merrimack Valley has received significant contributions from slot receiver/safety Caleb Tipton and running back/safety Tucker Burt, two players who were in the program two years ago but didn't play last season. Tipton, a senior, moved to Florida after his sophomore season before returning for his senior year, and Burt, a junior, played prep school football for New Hampton last year.

Dave Jackson is in his third season as Merrimack Valley's head coach. The Pride finished 1-8 in 2011 and 0-9 last season, but this year they've beaten John Stark of Weare (48-26)and Kearsarge of North Sutton (39-0).

"What a difference," Jackson said. "It was a battle getting the kids to wear their jerseys to school on game day last year. They weren't proud of it. This year they are."

Merrimack Valley first fielded a varsity team in 2002. The program's only winning season came in 2008, when the Pride finished 5-4 under head coach Sean O'Brien.

"This Portsmouth game will tell us a lot because they're better than anybody we've played, that's for sure," Jackson said. "We're trying to get the program back to the level it was at when Sean O'Brien was the coach."

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PELHAM is another team that likely will learn a lot about itself tonight. The Pythons (2-0) will play Division III foe Somersworth (1-1) at home.

"I think Somersworth is the best team in the division," Pelham coach Ryan Clark said. "They have a very strong winning tradition."

Senior running back Chris Medeiros, the team's leading rusher last season, has been Pelham's go-to guy on offense. The Pythons ended a 20-game losing streak in Week 2 last season.

"Medeiros is a four-year starter," Clark said. "Because the numbers in the program have been so low, basically all my starting seniors right now have been four-year starters — two of those years in (the old) Division III.

"This Friday will tell us a lot."

Roger Brown covers high school football for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @603sportsmedia.

High School Football Grid Chart
TeamOAPFPAThis WeekLast Yr.
Exeter2-0619Winnacunnet, Saturday, 1:3024-27
Winnacunnet2-04339At Exeter, Saturday, 1:3027-24
Spaulding1-15148Nashua North, Friday, 7DNP
Timberlane1-13441At Nashua South, Friday, 4:30DNP
Dover0-22690At Alvirne, Friday, 7DNP
Bedford2-07512At Londonderry, Friday, 7DNP
Concord2-08719At Merrimack, Friday, 7DNP
Man. Memorial1-16760Central, Saturday, 113-42
Man. Central0-22672At Memorial, Saturday, 142-13
Man. West0-214110At Goffstown, Saturday, 1:30DNP
Londonderry2-08548Bedford, Friday, 7DNP
Merrimack2-010067Concord, Friday, 7DNP
Pinkerton1-14934At Salem, Saturday, 235-7
Goffstown0-25483West, Saturday, 1:30DNP
Salem0-22072Pinkerton, Saturday, 27-35
Nashua South2-06924Timberlane, Friday, 4:30DNP
Keene1-13713At Bishop Guertin, Saturday, 720-7
Bishop Guertin1-16443Keene, Saturday, 77-20
Alvirne0-21455Dover, Friday, 7DNP
Nashua North0-21754At Spaulding, Friday, 7DNP
TeamOAPFPAThis WeekLast Yr.
Merrimack Valley2-08726At Portsmouth, Friday, 712-44
St. Thomas2-07526John Stark, Saturday, 746-7
Pembroke1-14937At Sanborn, Saturday, 3DNP
Kingswood1-16762Laconia, Friday, 76-22
Portsmouth1-17258Merrimack Valley, Friday, 744-12
Plymouth2-08936Kennett, Saturday, 1:3040-7
Kennett1-12853At Plymouth, Saturday, 1:307-40
Lebanon1-14120At Trinity, Friday, 70-52
Hanover1-23249forfeited to KearsargeDNP
Laconia0-22371At Kingswood, Friday, 722-6
Trinity2-08857Lebanon, Friday, 752-0
Milford1-16853ConVal, Friday, 741-6
Windham1-13548Souhegan, Saturday, 1:30DNP
John Stark1-14061At St. Thomas, Saturday, 77-46
Souhegan0-22865At Windham, Saturday, 1:30DNP
Monadnock2-06014At Hollis-Brookline, Saturday, 2DNP
Sanborn1-14455Pembroke, Saturday, 3DNP
ConVal0-21472At Milford, Friday, 76-41
H/Brookline0-22137Monadnock, Saturday, 2DNP
Kearsarge1-21475def. Hanover on forfeitDNP
TeamOAPFPAThis WeekLast Yr.
Bishop Brady1-15335At Campbell, Saturday, 1:307-49
Epping-Nwmarkt1-14628At Raymond, Friday, 4DNP
Farmington-Nute0-1020At Winnisquam, Saturday, 1:306-12
Raymond0-25581Epping-New., Friday, 4DNP
Int.-Lakes-Moult.1-15176Gilford, Saturday, 2:3034-8
Winnisquam1-15768Farm.-Nute, Saturday, 1:3012-6
Gilford1-15247At Int.-Lakes-Moult, Saturday, 2:308-34
Newfound1-13666At Franklin, Saturday, 30-28
Franklin0-22676Newfound, Saturday, 328-0
Pelham2-0636Somersworth, Friday, 77-35
Campbell1-02120Bishop Brady, Saturday, 1:3049-7
Bow1-1497Stevens, Saturday, 1:307-20
Somersworth1-12531At Pelham, Friday, 735-7
Fall Mountain2-06828Newport, Saturday, 6DNP
Newport1-13262At Fall Mountain, Saturday, 6--
Stevens1-15245At Bow, Saturday, 1:3020-7
Mascoma Valley1-16260Idle


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