Roger Brown's First & 10: One tough loss for Bedford
BEDFORD is No. 6 in this week’s Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll, but the Bulldogs are the only ranked team that won’t be participating in the playoffs.
In dropping a 20-16 decision to Manchester Central on Friday night in Bedford, the Bulldogs (7-2) failed to qualify for postseason play. Bedford finished behind Concord (9-0) and Central (7-2) in Division I North, and only two teams from each conference qualify for the postseason.
“If they do change (the playoff selection process), it won’t be because of me,” Bedford coach Kurt Hines said. “As much as this hurts, this will serve us well next year. We didn’t do enough to win. We didn’t get off the field as well as we should have. (Central) converted a lot on third down.”
Central, which needed to beat Bedford to qualify for the tournament, will play at Concord in Saturday’s Division I North championship game. Concord, the only unbeaten team in Division I, is the poll’s top-ranked team.
No. 2 Nashua South (8-1), No. 3 Pinkerton Academy of Derry (7-2), No. 4 Keene (7-2) and No. 5 Central round out the top five.
Central has won seven in a row since opening the season with losses to Concord (35-6) and Pinkerton (37-20).
“Bedford had an amazing year, and it’s very unfortunate for them they had to run into us tonight,” Central coach Ryan Ray said after Friday’s game. “I’m not trying to sound arrogant. Our guys are on a mission. We didn’t play great all the time, but we played hard.”
After Bedford, the poll includes No. 7 Portsmouth (8-1) and No. 8 Exeter (6-3). Plymouth (8-1) and Spaulding of Rochester (6-3) tied for No. 9.
HERE ARE the match-ups for this weekend’s conference championship games. All games are scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m., but game times could change:
East: Exeter at SpauldingNorth: Central at ConcordSouth: Londonderry at PinkertonWest: Keene at Nashua South
East: Merrimack Valley at PortsmouthNorth: Kennett at PlymouthSouth: Trinity at WindhamWest: Sanborn at Monadnock
East: Bishop Brady at Epping-NewmarketNorth: Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough at GilfordSouth: Bow at PelhamWest: Newport at Stevens
After the conference championships are settled, teams will be seeded for the division semifinals based on the football point-rating system.
KEENE IS the only lower-seeded team in the playoffs that beat its conference’s No. 1 seed during the regular season. Keene handed Nashua South its only loss, a 42-28 setback in Keene. The Blackbirds have won six in a row … Londonderry (4-5) is the only team that made the playoffs without finishing .500 or better … Concord, Monadnock (9-0) and Pelham (8-0) are the only unbeaten teams in the state … In addition to Bedford, Bishop Guertin of Nashua (6-3), Winnacunnet of Hampton (5-4), St. Thomas of Dover (6-3), Milford (6-3), Campbell of Litchfield (5-3) and Mascoma Valley of Canaan (5-3) all finished with a winning record but failed to qualify for postseason play.
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.