Roger Brown's First & 10: Portsmouth vaults to No. 6 in poll
THERE WAS plenty of movement in this week’s Power Poll, and no team moved more than Portsmouth.
The Clippers jumped from No. 10 to No. 6 after knocking off previously unbeaten Plymouth, 27-22, Saturday in Plymouth.
Portsmouth trailed 22-7 with less than 10 minutes to play, but took the lead when quarterback Donovan Phanor hooked up with Jake Becker for a 50-yard touchdown pass with 1:23 remaining. Phanor completed 15 of 17 passes for 206 yards and four touchdowns in the victory.
Phanor did most of his damage in the second half, when he connected on 11 of 12 pass attempts and tossed each of his four TD passes. Becker made six catches for 113 yards and two TDs.
“Looking back at it, we probably should have started throwing sooner,” Portsmouth coach Brian Pafford said. “When we took the lead my concern was we scored too early.”
Portsmouth forced a fumble on Plymouth’s final possession, however, giving Portsmouth the program’s first victory over Plymouth in four meetings.
The loss dropped Plymouth from No. 6 to No. 9. Portsmouth, Plymouth and No. 8 Trinity of Manchester are the only Division II teams in the poll, although unbeaten Monadnock of Swanzey did receive votes this week.
Concord remained at the top of the poll after fending off Bedford 34-27 Friday in a matchup between the top two teams in last week’s poll. It was the 11th time the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the poll have met on the field, and the top-ranked team is 7-4 in those contests.
Bedford dropped to No. 3 following the loss, and Nashua South moved up one spot to No. 2. Nashua South upended Bishop Guertin of Nashua 35-14 Friday in the first meeting between the city rivals since 2003.
Pinkerton Academy of Derry and Bishop Guertin of Nashua remained in the No. 4 and No. 5 spots respectively.
Bedford may have to beat Manchester Central in two weeks to make the playoffs. After Friday night’s game against Merrimack, Bedford will play Central (5-2) in a game that could determine the second playoff team (in addition to Concord) from Division I North. Central is unranked, but has won five games in a row. Central is at Salem on Friday.
“I’m not going to say we’re going to see Concord again because we have to take care of business the next two weeks, which is good ,” Bedford coach Kurt Hines said. “Pressure is a good thing.”
Exeter fell from No. 7 to No. 10 after a 17-7 loss to Spaulding of Rochester. It was Exeter’s third loss in the last four weeks.
Keene is the other team in this week’s poll. The Blackbirds moved from No. 8 to No. 7 by beating Winnacunnet of Hampton, 33-19 .
MERRIMACK VALLEY of Penacook and St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover are each 6-1 entering Saturday’s game in Dover, but the loser of that contest is unlikely to make the Division II playoffs.
Both teams trail Portsmouth in the Division II East standings, and each will conclude the regular season against a tough opponent. Merrimack Valley will finish with a game at Plymouth, and St. Thomas wrap up its regular season at Trinity.
Friday night’s game between Laconia (3-4) and Kennett of Conway (3-4) in Conway is another contest that will probably determine a Division II playoff berth. The winner will likely face Plymouth in the Division II North championship game.
THIS WEEK’S lone game that involves two Power Poll teams will take place Friday night, when Nashua South travels to Keene. Keene must win to keep its playoff hopes alive.
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.