Roger Brown's First & 10: This year, No. 1 is a no-doubter
AT THE END of the 2012 NHIAA football season two teams — Winnacunnet of Hampton and Exeter — could each make a strong case that they deserved to be No. 1 in the final Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll.
Exeter won the Division I championship, and Winnacunnet won it all in Division II. Spicing up the discussion was the fact that Winnacunnet had beaten Exeter during the regular season.
There’s no such debate this year. Concord ran the table and finished the season as the only unbeaten team in the state (12-0). Concord punctuated its season by beating Pinkerton Academy of Derry 42-14 in Saturday’s Division I championship game. Concord entered that game ranked No. 1 in the poll. Pinkerton was No. 2.
It’s hard to picture Concord not being ranked No. 1 when the season-ending Power Poll is released this morning.
“This has been a long time coming for us,” Concord running back/linebacker Marc Gaudet said. “Our goal has always been to be the best team in New Hampshire. People said Bedford was better than us. Pinkerton was better than us. We proved them all wrong.”
Concord completed a season unbeaten and untied for the first time in school history, and won its first state championship since 2000. Concord turned in such a dominant performance Saturday that running time kicked in after quarterback Robbie Law tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Nicholas Comeau with 6:28 left in the third quarter.
“We lose a lot of seniors, but we’re hoping to build the program so we’re reloading every year, not rebuilding,” Brown said.
The 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.
HOW even was Saturday’s Division II championship game between top-seeded Plymouth and second-seeded Portsmouth? Plymouth had a 319-315 edge in total offense, and needed overtime to post a 21-14 victory. Plymouth coach Chuck Lenahan said of the 20 championships he’s won at Plymouth, this was the only one decided in overtime.
“We traded punches pretty good there,” Lenahan said. “What a hard-fought high school football game.”
It was Lenahan’s final game as Plymouth’s head coach, and he will also retire as the school’s athletic director at the end of the school year. He said a new athletic director will likely be hired before the next head coach is selected.
“I’m not going to demand anything, that’s for sure,” Lenahan said. “That’s the great thing about our high school — it has a tremendous administration. They’re the ones who will have to work with him (the new coach).”
Lenahan said there are strong candidates in the school for both positions.
“Hopefully we stay in-house,” he said. “I don’t think it will be that difficult.”
TOP-SEEDED Bow used a familiar formula to beat second-seeded Stevens of Claremont 20-6 in Saturday’s Division III championship game: stingy defense, exceptional special teams and a dominant running game.
The Falcons had a 257-213 advantage in total offense, and Bow picked up all of its yardage on the ground.
Bow’s first two kickoffs pinned Stevens deep in its own territory. The Cardinals started their first possession on their 7-yard line, and their second possession began on their 14. Bow had to travel only 19 yards for its first touchdown.Ryan Tanguay’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Bell was the first TD Bow had allowed in nine quarters.
Bow finished the season with a 10-1 record. It’s the first time the Falcons have won as many as 10 games in the program’s 17-year history.
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.