Saturday’s contest between the Concord and Pinkerton Academy of Derry football teams will determine this year’s Division I champion. It will likely determine the No. 1 team in this year’s final Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll as well.
Concord (11-0) and Pinkerton (9-2) are ranked first and second respectively in this week’s poll, which was released Monday morning. Concord advanced to this year’s championship game by beating No. 5 Exeter (7-4) 22-10 in Saturday’s Division I semifinals. Pinkerton moved on with a 44-20 victory at No. 3 Keene (8-3) in the other semifinal.
Concord beat Pinkerton 21-14 in overtime during the regular season. That ended Pinkerton’s eight-game winning streak against the Crimson Tide.
The regular-season game was played in Derry. Saturday’s contest will be held in Concord.
Nashua South (8-2), which will face Nashua North (3-6 ) on Thanksgiving, is No. 4 in the poll. South’s state championship hopes ended with a loss to Keene in the Division I West championship game.
Portsmouth (10-1) and Plymouth (10-1), teams that will meet in Saturday’s Division II championship game, are both in the second half of the poll. Portsmouth is No. 6, and Plymouth is No. 9.
Although the teams have the same record and Portsmouth beat Plymouth during the regular season, Saturday’s game will be held in Plymouth.
Each of Plymouth’s 10 victories have come by at least 19 points. Portsmouth, which posted a 27-22 victory at Plymouth earlier this year, has won its last three games by a total of 10 points.
Bedford (7-2) is ranked No. 7. The Bulldogs are the only Power Poll team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
Manchester Central is No. 8 and Trinity of Manchester is No. 10. Those teams will meet on Thanksgiving at Manchester’s Gill Stadium.
STEVENS of Claremont (8-2) will play at Bow (9-1) in Saturday’s Division III championship game. Bow beat Stevens 28-14 in Bow during the regular season.
Stevens will be playing with Ralph Silva — the father of Stevens coach Paul Silva — in mind. Ralph Silva, who coached baseball and football at Stevens, died last month.
Ralph Silva was the program’s head coach in 2005, the last time a Stevens football team played in a state championship game. The Cardinals lost to Hanover in the Division IV title game that year. He won 363 games as a varsity baseball coach (228 at Stevens) and was inducted into the NHIAA Hall of Fame in 2006.
Stevens will be trying to win the school’s first state championship in any sport since 1989, when the boys’ soccer team won the Class I title. Stevens hasn’t won a championship in football since 1962.
EACH of Saturday’s three state championship games will be live streamed by PlayOn Sports on the NFHS Network.
Fans can watch these games live online with a subscription at http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/channels/new-hampshire. The games are also available on mobile devices at m.nfhsnetwork.com and subscribers can download the NFHS Network app from the iTunes store.
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.