Exeter and Pinkerton could tangle again
NHIAA DIVISION I PREVIEW
The League: Exeter, Pinkerton Academy, Nashua South, Salem, Manchester Memorial, Manchester Central, Nashua North, Concord, Londonderry.
Defending Champion: Exeter. The Blue Hawks defeated Pinkerton 23-13 in last year's Division I championship game..
Top Story Line: Exeter, Pinkerton, Manchester Central and who? The rest of the division may be competing for the last playoff spot.
Player to Watch: Pinkerton Academy running back Manny Latimore will be in the spotlight now that the Astros no longer have tailback Emmitt Smith or fullback Kevin Davies.
Game to Watch: Exeter at Pinkerton (Sept. 8). Rematch of last year's championship game. These may be the two best teams in the division this year as well.
Noteworthy: The conversation has to start with Exeter and Pinkerton. Both teams return experienced skill-position players, but will be inexperienced up front. Pinkerton lost all but two starters on last year's offensive line. Exeter didn't return any starters on the offensive line. ... Pinkerton has moved quarterback Chris St. Onge to running back. St. Onge was Pinkerton's starting QB as a sophomore and a junior. ... Exeter will hand the quarterback duties to Ethan Joyce, who started at defensive back last season. Joyce, Exeter's starting shortstop last spring, is one of the fastest players on the team. The Blue Hawks also return running back/defensive back Tyler Grant, who was at his best in Exeter's two postseason games last year. ... Central has as much offensive talent as anyone in the division. The Little Green have one of the state's top passing quarterbacks in Riley Cote. The question surrounding Central is this: Will the Little Green play any defense? Division III Goffstown scored 28 points against Central in the Queen City Jamboree (two quarters). ... Besides Exeter, Concord was the only other Division I team that participated in the Under Armour Northeast Regional 7-on-7 tournament, which was held at Exeter High School in June. If there's a surprise team in this division, it may be the Crimson Tide. ... Salem has a new coach in Adam Gagne, who spent last season as an assistant at Westford (Mass.) Academy. Gagne has installed a spread offense. ... Nashua South and Manchester Memorial each graduated several key skill-position players from 2011. ... Londonderry will again run the Single-Wing offense, and has an interesting opener against Portsmouth, which won last year's Division III championship.
-- Roger Brown