Roger Brown's First and 10: Concord proves it's the state's best
When the final Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll is released Monday morning, there will be no surprise at the top. Concord cemented its position as the No. 1 team in the state by whipping Pinkerton Academy of Derry 42-14 in Saturday's Division I championship game.
Concord prevailed by playing dominant defense, and by making good use of its significant depth at the offensive skill positions. Five players scored for the Crimson Tide in the victory.
Concord began the day as the Power Poll's No. 1 team. Pinkerton was No. 2.
"This is really what our goal has been," Concord running back/linebacker Marc Gaudet said. "It's been to be the best team in New Hampshire, and we achieved that today. It's great for our senior group."
The victory improved Concord's record to 12-0. It's the first time in school history that a Concord team has finished a season unbeaten and untied. Concord also completed the season as the only unbeaten team in the state.
Concord had a 320-225 edge in total offense, even though Pinkerton ran 54 offensive plays to Concord's 46. Pinkerton running back Manny Latimore had 91 yards on 16 carries.
"Can't say enough about the defense," Concord coach Eric Brown said. "Awesome. The defense really responded, as they did throughout the entire year."
Pinkerton turned the ball over three times and had a punt blocked, and Concord scored on the ensuing possession each time.
Concord also scored a touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter, after it opened the second half with a successful onside kick.
"We thought it was a good opportunity to take a shot," Brown said. "It worked out pretty well."
Pinkerton has played in nine of the last 10 Division I championship games, but has come up short in each of the last three.
"I thought the turnovers hurt early in the game and took us right out of it," Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said. "But honestly in the end they pretty much had their way with us. They were a really, really good team today. Everything that could go wrong went wrong today, but a lot of times a team causes those mistakes. They're undefeated for a reason."
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It will be interesting to see where the voters place Plymouth Regional in the final Power Poll after the Bobcats beat Portsmouth 21-14 in overtime Saturday to win the Division II championship.
Plymouth was ranked No. 9 in last week's poll, and beat a Portsmouth team that will likely move up to Division I next season. Portsmouth entered Saturday's contest ranked No. 6.
Plymouth (11-1), Portsmouth (9-2) and Trinity of Manchester (8-3) are the only non-Division I teams that were among the top 10 last week. Plymouth's only loss this season came against Portsmouth (27-22).
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Much of Bow's success this season can be attributed to how well the Falcons played on the defensive side of the ball.Bow won the Division III championship by beating Stevens of Claremont 20-6 Saturday. The Falcons (10-1) allowed 12 points in their three postseason games.
Bow held its opponent to seven points or less in seven of its 10 victories, and also allowed seven points in its only loss - a 7-0 setback against Pelham. The Falcons entered Saturday's title game allowing an average of 8.4 points per game and finished the season on a 10-game winning streak.
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.