Roger Brown's First & 10: On any given Thursday
Trevor Knight catches the ball Tuesday night during Nashua South's last practice before their Thanksgiving Day game against rival Nashua North in Nashua. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
Thanksgiving Game CapsulesLawrence, Mass. (3-7) vs. Salem (3-6)
Wednesday (6 p.m.) at Salem High School
This is the fourth meeting between the Blue Devils and the Lancers, and Lawrence leads the series 2-1. Salem won the first meeting 44-38, but Lawrence posted a 46-28 victory in 2011 and a 28-0 win last year. … Junior quarterback Nelson Valerio is a player Salem will have to keep a close eye on tonight. Valerio threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns in Lawrence's last game, a 28-26 victory over Peabody. Junior wide receiver Justin Rivera had eight receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns in that contest. … Senior running back Jason Martinez is Salem's top playmaker. Martinez has rushed for 1,140 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. … Salem split end Jake Poore has 706 yards receiving and six TD catches.
Nashua North (3-6) vs. Nashua South (8-2)
Thursday (10 a.m.) at Stellos Stadium
This will be the 10th game in the Thanksgiving Day series, and South holds a 6-3 advantage. … South finished first in Division I West, but lost to Keene in the conference championship game. North did not qualify for the playoffs, but won three of its final four regular-season games. … South won the regular-season meeting, 35-27. South quarterback Trevor Knight passed for three touchdowns and ran for another in that victory. North QB Brendan Martin threw for two TDs and ran for two TDs in the loss. … North erased a 13-point deficit to win last year's game 14-13. Martin hooked up with Christian Filonow for a 13-yard touchdown pass that tied the game with 1:31 to play, and Kyle Regan added the point-after kick.
Manchester Central (7-3) vs. Trinity (8-3)
Thursday (10:15 a.m.) at Gill Stadium
This is the 33rd Annual Manchester Turkey Bowl, and the fourth time Central and Trinity of Manchester have met on Thanksgiving in as many years. Central had won the last four city championships until Trinity posted a 27-21 victory last year, when it turned four Central turnover into 20 points. It was the first time the Pioneers won the city title since 1997. … Both teams made the playoffs this season. Central lost to Concord 53-14 in the Division I North championship game. Trinity dropped an 18-14 decision to Portsmouth in the Division II semifinals. … Trinity scored at least 36 points in six of its eight victories. … Central running back Jesiah Wade rushed for 2,204 yards this season.
Nashua South has perhaps the best offensive player in the state in quarterback Trevor Knight, and South beat North 35-27 during the regular season in a game that was more one-sided than the eight-point margin would indicate.
North didn't make the playoffs last season and dropped a regular-season game to a South team that made the Division I semifinals, but overcame a 13-point deficit to stun Knight-led South, 14-13, on Thanksgiving.
Thursday's game will be the 10th Thanksgiving Day contest between North and South. South, which used to play Bishop Guertin of Nashua on Thanksgiving, leads the series 6-3, and has beaten North in 13 of 20 overall meetings.
"We're not going to have a problem getting them ready to play," Scott Knight said. "That's a non-factor. This is usually our second meeting (in the same season), so for one team it's a redemption game."
Robie said keeping the South offense off the field and limiting the number of big plays the Panthers produce are among the things North will have to do to give itself a chance to win.
Rob Pike will conclude his first season as Salem's head coach with a home game against Lawrence, Mass., tonight (6 p.m.). Salem went 3-6 during the regular season after going winless in 2012.
"I wish we had done better from a record standpoint, but the kids continued to work hard to get better," Pike said. "We probably played our best game against Londonderry, and that's a good sign.
Lawrence finished with a 3-7 record, but won three of its final five games after an 0-5 start.
Manchester Central (7-3) will face Trinity of Manchester (8-3) in Thursday's 33rd Annual Manchester Turkey Bowl. Trinity knocked off Central 27-21 last year to win its first city championship since 1997. Here is each Manchester school's record in the Turkey Bowl:
Three Thanksgiving Day rivalries ended last year. The Merrimack/Souhegan of Amherst, Dover/Portsmouth and Spaulding of Rochester/Somersworth games that have been played on Thanksgiving in past seasons will not be played this year.
Roger Brown covers high school football for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @603sportsmedia.
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