The New Hampshire high school football season is just about over, and it has not been a great one for Manchester. Still, there’s plenty of fascinating scenarios out there when it comes to the playoffs.
So, let’s take a break from the horrific Celtics news and look at the scenarios as of today, October 18.
Just a quick caveat on the NHIAA’s “point system”, teams get 10 points for a win as well as two points for every win and one point for every tie accrued by a team they defeat during the season.
So, for example, if Team A defeats Team B and Team B was 5-0 coming into the game, Team A gets 20 points (10 points for the win, plus 5 x 2 from Team B). If Team B then wins the next week against a different team, Team A gets another two points and so on until the end of the season.
In Division I, that only matters in the finals, with one side of the quarterfinals for the North and East Conference winners as well as the two best other teams from the North and East Conferences respectively and the other side of the quarterfinals for the West and South Conference winners as well as the two best other teams from the West and South Conferences respectively.
The old Class L has been gone for a few years now and in its place, there are 20 teams in four “conferences”: East, South, North and West. Conference winners get into the playoffs with the top four seeds, and the best remaining four records regardless of conference also get into the playoffs.
Here are the remaining teams that have not been eliminated from playoff contention.
- Winnacunnet (7-0-0, 114 points – East Conference Leaders)
- Salem (7-0-0, 106 points – South Conference Leaders)
- Goffstown (6-1-0, 102 points – North Conference Leaders)
- Nashua South (5-2-0, 70 points – West Conference Leaders)
- Pinkerton (6-1-0, 98 points – South Conference)
- Londonderry (6-1-0, 82 points – South Conference)
- Exeter (5-2-0, 80 points – East Conference)
- Manchester Central (5-2-0, 66 points – North Conference)
- Nashua North (4-3-0, 54 points -West Conference)
- Bedford (4-3-0, 50 points – North Conference)
Winnacunnet, Salem and Goffstown are in and are currently jockeying for the top seed in the playoffs. In the West, South defeated North 34-15 in the Battle of the Bridge on Sept.22. Between that result and the weak opposition elsewhere in the conference, South is safe unless the North can score an upset against Salem this Friday.
Pinkerton, Londonderry and Exeter also in, but the conference titles are out of their control.
That leaves Central, North and defending champion Bedford jostling for the final spots in the North/East and South/West brackets.
Central holds that last spot for now, but they face a steep climb this week against Winnacunnet while Bedford plays a very beatable Dover (3-4). Central defeated Dover on Oct. 6, and if Bedford defeats Dover, that would mean Central’s wins and Bedford’s wins would be against identical teams.
North is guaranteed four extra points, as the four teams they’ve beaten this season (Timberlane, Merrimack, Bishop Guertin and Alvirne) are playing each other, but as previously stated, they will have a tough challenge against the Blue Devils.
That could transform the Oct. 27 showdown between Central and Bedford in Bedford into a defacto play-in game.
In Division II, the North and South Conference champions also get automatic berths as the top two seeds in the playoffs, with teams holding the next six best records regardless of conference.
There are 22 teams in Division II this year including Trinity, which has suspended its varsity program for the season. Here are the teams still in playoff contention according to the current unofficial NHIAA records.
- Windham (6-0-0, 98 points – South Conference leaders)
- Plymouth (6-0-0, 86 points – North Conference leaders)
- Thomas Aquinas (6-1-0, 90 points)
- Hanover (6-0-0, 72 points)
- Hollis-Brookline (5-1-0, 68 points)
- Bow (5-1-0, 62 points)
- John Stark (5-1-0, 60 points)
- Souhegan (4-2-0, 60 points)
- ConVal (4-2-0, 50 points)
- Pelham (3-3-0, 42 points)
- Kennett (3-3-0, 40 points)
Here, there is slightly less ambiguity. Souhegan is likely going to defeat Hillsboro-Derring-Hopkinton this weekend and there is two more probable coming amongst the teams Souhegan has defeated so far (Sanborn can probably beat Milford).
That would leave Souhegan with 72 points coming into the final week of the season against Hollis-Brookline, and a likely 74-point minimum even after a loss against Hollis-Brookline, as Sanborn is also likely to defeat Hillsboro-Deering-Hopkinton to finish the season.
So, ConVal would have to score large upsets against St. Thomas Aquinas and Windham to remain in contention and hope that Souhegan falters this week.
Division III has the same format as Division II, only with schools smaller than 590 students that don’t have a program that was strong enough to petition into Division I.
There are no Manchester schools in Division III, which has 16 teams, but there are some schools nearby.
Here are the teams still in playoff contention according to the current unofficial NHIAA records.
- Campbell (6-0-0, 92 points – South Conference leaders)
- Monadnock (6-0-0, 86 points – North Conference leaders)
- Newport (6-0-0, 84 points)
- Somersworth (5-1-0, 74 points)
- Stevens (4-2-0, 56 points)
- Epping (4-2-0, 50 points)
- Bishop Brady (4-2-0, 48 points)
- Kearsarge (3-3-0, 40 points)
- Inter-Lakes-Moultonbourgh (2-4-0, 24 points)
- Newfound (2-4-0, 24 points)
- Franklin (2-4-0, 22 points)
Unfortunately, there is even less suspense here than in Division II. If Kearsarge can defeat Mascoma Valley this weekend, then their final game against Inter-Lakes will just be a playoff warmup.
And even then, if Inter-Lakes cannot defeat Newfound this week, it wouldn’t matter what Kearsarge does.