Roger Brown's First & 10: And then there was one (unbeaten)
TWO unbeaten teams were upset Saturday, leaving Concord as the only undefeated high school football team in the state.
Turnovers, including three interceptions, plagued Monadnock of Swanzey during an 18-9 loss to Sanborn of Kingston in the Division II West championship game. Monadnock was 9-0 entering the contest, which was the first playoff game for the Sanborn program.
Injuries to quarterback Joe Slattery (knee) and running back Chris Medeiros (shoulder) helped derail Pelham in the Division III South championship game, where Bow advanced with an 18-6 triumph. Pelham went 8-0 during the regular season.
Concord kept its unblemished record alive by beating Manchester Central 53-14 in the Division I North title game. To remain unbeaten, Concord will have to beat Exeter in Saturday’s semifinals. Exeter, which won the Division I East championship by beating Spaulding of Rochester 24-14, has won the last two Division I state championships.
Exeter held Spaulding to 179 yards of offense (65 yards rushing) in the victory. Spaulding running back Trey Scott entered the game with 1,532 yards rushing this season, but was limited to 21 yards on 12 carries. Exeter had a 59-36 edge in offensive plays.
Exeter and Concord did not meet during the regular season.
“All I know is they’re still the state champions until someone knocks them off, and we’re looking to do that Saturday,” Concord wide receiver Seimou Smith said.
No. 4 Exeter (7-3) at No. 1 Concord (10-0)
No. 3 Pinkerton Academy (8-2) at No. 2 Keene (8-2)
No. 4 Sanborn (6-3) at No. 1 Plymouth (9-1)
No. 3 Trinity (8-2) at No. 2 Portsmouth (9-1)
No. 4 IL/Moultonborough (5-4) at No. 1 Bow (8-1)
No. 3 Epping-Newmarket (5-4) at No. 2 Stevens (7-2)
STRONG DEFENSE, particularly in the second half, has been a strength for Keene this season, and that was the case in Saturday’s 38-21 triumph over Nashua South. Keene outscored South 21-7 in the final two quarters, when the Blackbirds collected four of their five sacks.
Keene has allowed 40 points in the second half of its 10 games this season. Nashua South completed its season with an 8-2 record, and both losses came against Keene. The Blackbirds limited South to seven second-half points in their 42-28 victory during the regular season.
“You can run all of the scout team offense you want, but having your third-string tailback in there or an assistant coach at quarterback isn’t the same as when you’re in it for real,” Keene coach John Luopa said. “Our guys do a pretty good job once they understand the speed of the game.”
Keene’s matchup with Pinkerton will be the first time the programs have met since Luopa took over as Keene’s head coach in 2005.
This week’s New Hampshire Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll will be announced this morning during Kelly Brown’s 7:30 sports report during “The Morning Buzz” radio show on WGIR-FM, and posted on UnionLeader.com shortly thereafter. For more on the Power Poll, see Tuesday’s “First & 10” column in the New Hampshire Union Leader.
TRINITY of Manchester’s game at Portsmouth will be the second time the Pioneers have traveled to the Port City this season. Trinity posted a 58-37 victory in Week 1.
Portsmouth has won nine in a row since that loss.
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.