Roger Brown's First & 10: Lenahan's finale should be a doozy for Plymouth
PLYMOUTH REGIONAL will try to earn Chuck Lenahan his 20th state championship as Plymouth's head coach Saturday, when the top-seeded Bobcats (11-1) face second-seeded Portsmouth (11-1) in the Division II championship game.
It will be Lenahan's final game as Plymouth's coach. Earlier this year he announced that this season — his 43rd with the Bobcats — would be his final one. To go out with a win, Lenahan will have to guide his team to victory against the only opponent that beat Plymouth this year.
Portsmouth trailed 22-7 in the fourth quarter of that regular-season meeting, but rallied to post a 27-22 victory. Portsmouth also came from behind to defeat Trinity of Manchester 18-14 in Saturday's Division II semifinals.
The Clippers took their first lead against Trinity with 3:54 to play, when quarterback Donovan Phanor connected with Nate McFarland for a 54-yard touchdown pass.
"That's one thing about the players on this team — they won't quit," Portsmouth coach Brian Pafford said following Saturday's game. "They play hard to the end. I think this is the third game where we've had to score late to win."
Saturday's championship game will likely be Portsmouth's last contest in Division II. The Clippers are expected to replace Manchester West in Division I next season.
Lenahan, who was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in June, will enter that game with a 355-70-1 record as Plymouth's coach.
"It'll be a gut check again, that's what it comes down to," Pafford said. "In the game against us we saw some offense that they hadn't run all year because they hadn't had to. I'm sure they have a few (more) tricks up their sleeve they don't show if they don't have to."
FANS will be in for a treat if Saturday's Division I championship game is anything like the regular-season meeting between top-seeded Concord (11-0) and third-seeded Pinkerton Academy of Derry (9-2).
Concord won that contest 21-14 in overtime, even though Pinkerton outplayed Concord for much of the second half. Concord trailed 14-6 late in the fourth quarter, but put together an eight-play, 76-yard scoring drive capped by Robbie Law's 12-yard TD pass to Jacob Szulc with 51 seconds to play.
The Crimson Tide added the two-point conversion, and then received a 1-yard touchdown run from Walters Ndi on fourth down in overtime. The Astros failed to score on their overtime possession.
Concord will by trying to win its first state championship since 2000, when it beat Manchester Central 38-0 to win the Division I title. Pinkerton is 10-4 in Division I championship games. The Astros' last title came in 2010, when they beat Nashua North, 14-7.
POINTS won't come easy in Saturday's Division III championship game between top-seeded Bow (9-1) and second-seeded Stevens of Claremont (8-2).
Stevens, which advanced by beating third-seeded Epping-Newmarket 13-0 in the semifinals, hasn't allowed more than six points in any of its last five games.
Bow's 42-0 semifinal triumph over Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough of Meredith was the team's fourth shutout of the season. The Falcons haven't allowed more than 14 points in eight of their 10 games.
Bow won the regular-season meeting 28-14, but the Cardinals have won seven games in a row since that loss.
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.
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.