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October 31. 2013 10:14PM

Roger Brown's First and 10: Playoffs really start tonight


ROGER BROWN'S GRID PICKS

DIVISION I
Spaulding 27, Dover 14
Exeter 28, Nashua North 7
Bishop Guertin 26, Timberlane 7
Nashua South 28, Winnacunnet 26
Bedford 28, Manchester Central 14
Concord 42, Goffstown 13
Manchester Memorial 36, Manchester West 6
Londonderry 21, Salem 20
Pinkerton 49, Merrimack 14
Keene 21, Alvirne 0



DIVISION II
Kennett 27, Kingswood 14
Mondadnock 28, Pembroke 12
Portsmouth 42, Hanover 14
Trinity 26, St. Thomas 21
Milford 27, Laconia 6
Lebanon 20, Kearsarge 6
Souhegan 20, Hollis/Brookline 14
Plymouth 36, Merrimack Valley 20
John Stark 12, Con-Val 0
Windham 35, Sanborn 14

DIVISION III
Stevens 33, Raymond 12
Bishop Brady 21, Franklin 0
IL/Moultonborough 20, Epping-Newmarket 12
Pelham 42, Farmington-Nute 6
Winnisquam 26, Newfound 20
Bow 28, Campbell 21
Somersworth 35, Fall Mountain 14
Newport 28, Mascoma Valley 22


Record last week: 19-9
Record this season: 167-42

The situation couldn't be any clearer. The winner of tonight's game between Manchester Central (6-2) and Bedford (7-1) will qualify for the Division I playoffs. The loser will not.

Bedford, the No. 2 team in the Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll, has been ranked among the top teams in the state since a Week 1 victory over Pinkerton Academy of Derry. No. 6 Central played its way into the poll by winning six straight after an 0-2 start.

"Pressure makes the good fold and the great focus — that's always been one of my favorite quotes," Bedford coach Kurt Hines said. "To know we have to win, that's good pressure. Like I told my kids, (Central has) the exact same amount on the line that we do."

Bedford, which will be at home tonight, has allowed the fewest points among Division I teams this season (67). Central has scored at least 33 points in five of its six victories, although none of those wins came against a team that currently has a winning record.

Tonight's winner will face No. 1 Concord (8-0) in next week's Division I North championship game.

"It goes without saying the playoffs start Friday," Central coach Ryan Ray said.

Bedford's biggest challenge tonight may be containing Central running back Jesiah Wade, who is closing in on his second consecutive season with more than 2,000 yards rushing. The Little Green, however, likely will have to have some success through the air to prevent the Bulldogs from paying extra attention to Wade.

"Wade is their biggest weapon," Hines said. "He's definitely a threat and someone we have to wrap up, but when we did a good job shutting down Concord's run (in a 34-27 loss), they hurt us with the passing game.

"It's going to be a terrific fight."

- - - - - - - -

NO. 5 Keene (6-2), Spaulding of Rochester (5-3) and No. 9 Exeter (5-3) are the other Division I teams that can secure a playoff spot with a victory tonight. Keene will host Alvirne of Hudson (7-1), Spaulding will be at Dover (2-6) and Exeter will meet Nashua North (3-5).

Besides Concord, No. 3 Pinkerton (6-2), Londonderry (4-4) and No. 4 Nashua South (7-1) are the Division I teams that already have earned an invitation to the postseason.

- - - - - - - -

THERE'S one playoff berth still up for grabs in Division II, and it will go to Merrimack Valley of Concord (7-1) if the Pride defeat No. 10 Plymouth (7-1) on Saturday. Merrimack Valley also will qualify if Trinity of Manchester (6-2) defeats St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover (6-2) tonight.

- - - - - - -

THE WINNER of Saturday's game between Mascoma Valley of Canaan (5-2) and Newport (5-2) will earn the second playoff spot in Division III West and face Stevens of Claremont (5-2) in the conference championship game. Mascoma, which will be playing at home, has won three in a row and has scored 157 points in those three games.

- - - - - - -

NHIAA football fans can help the "Tackles for Hunger" program by donating a non-perishable food item this weekend. There will be collection points at all football games played tonight and Saturday.

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

NH High School Football Grid Chart
DIVISION I
TeamOAPFPAThis WeekLast Yr.
EAST CONFERENCE
Exeter5-3219151Nashua North, Friday, 738-0
Spaulding5-3204175At Dover, Friday, 710-31
Winnacunnet5-3212196At Nashua South, Friday, 7DNP
Dover2-6168280Spaulding, Friday, 731-10
Timberlane1-7131239B. Guertin, Friday, 713-42
NORTH CONFERENCE
Concord8-0357114Goffstown, Friday, 7DNP
Bedford7-130167Central, Friday, 7DNP
Man. Central6-2263211At Bedford, Friday, 7DNP
Man. Memorial1-7188339West, Friday, 729-14
Man. West0-856385At Memorial, Friday, 714-29
SOUTH CONFERENCE
Pinkerton6-2305125At Merrimack, Friday, 7DNP
Londonderry4-4220233Salem, Friday, 721-13
Merrimack3-5217328Pinkerton, Friday, 7DNP
Goffstown3-5186233At Concord, Friday, 7DNP
Salem2-6161219At Londonderry, Friday, 713-21
WEST CONFERENCE
Nashua South7-1268141Winnacunnet, Friday. 7DNP
Keene6-221693Alvirne, Friday, 7DNP
Bishop Guertin5-3179158At Timberlane, Friday, 742-13
Nashua North3-5134192At Exeter, Friday, 70-38
Alvirne1-7148254At Keene, Friday, 7DNP
DIVISION II
TeamOAPFPAThis WeekLast Yr.
EAST CONFERENCE
Portsmouth7-1341164Hanover, Friday, 7DNP
Merrimack Valley7-1242136At Plymouth, Sat., 1:30DNP
St. Thomas6-2264137At Trinity, Friday, 70-38
Pembroke3-5183243At Monadnock, Friday, 6:30DNP
Kingswood1-7151261Kennett, Friday, 712-37
NORTH CONFERENCE
Plymouth7-1317102Merr. Valley, Saturday, 1:30DNP
Kennett4-4146184At Kingswood, Friday, 737-12
Laconia3-5154304Milford, Friday, 7DNP
Lebanon3-5146183At Kearsarge, Friday, 7DNP
Hanover1-7117212At Portsmouth, Friday, 7DNP
SOUTH CONFERENCE
Windham7-1252151Sanborn, Friday, 7DNP
Trinity6-2270169St. Thomas, Friday, 738-0
Milford5-3268158At Laconia, Friday, 7DNP
Souhegan2-6171219Hollis/Brookline, Friday, 735-13
John Stark1-760294ConVal, Saturday, 6DNP
WEST CONFERENCE
Monadnock8-0333131Pembroke, Friday, 6:30DNP
Sanborn5-3211153At Windham, Friday, 7DNP
Kearsarge2-661208Lebanon, Friday., 7DNP
H/Brookline2-6150155At Souhegan, Friday., 713-35
ConVal0-821294At John Stark, Saturday., 6DNP
DIVISION III
TeamOAPFPAThis WeekLast Yr.
EAST CONFERENCE
Bishop Brady3-4207200Franklin, Saturday, 326-32
Epping-Nwmrkt3-4133174At IL-Moult., Sat., 2:3020-25
Farmington-Nute1-670233Pelham, Sat., 1:30DNP
Raymond0-7139266At Stevens, Friday, 7DNP
NORTH CONFERENCE
Gilford6-2256210Idle
Int.-Lakes-Moult.4-3128162Epp.-New, Sat., 2:3025-20
Winnisquam3-4142149At Newfound, Sat., 119-42
Newfound2-5194240Winnisquam, Saturday, 142-19
Franklin0-783292At Bishop Brady, Sat., 332-26
SOUTH CONFERENCE
Pelham7-023746At Farmington, Sat., 1:30DNP
Bow6-122878Campbell, Saturday., 1:30DNP
Campbell5-2237167At Bow, Saturday, 1:30DNP
Somersworth3-4209190Fall Mtn, Saturday, 7DNP
WEST CONFERENCE
Stevens5-2200120Raymond, Friday, 7DNP
Newport5-2230121At Mascoma, Sat. 1:3021-14
Mascoma Valley5-2283198Newport, Sat, 1:3014-21
Fall Mountain2-5106198At Somersworth, Sat., 7DNP


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