Winnacunnet defense will only get better
Notes, quotes and observations after Week 2 of the New Hampshire high school football season:
What did we learn this weekend?
We learned that Winnacunnet is back to playing the kind of defense that propelled the Warriors to the Division II championship game in 2004, 2009 and 2010.
Winnacunnet has surrendered 13 points in its two games, and six of those came on the final play -- an untimed down -- of Friday night's 13-6 triumph over Bedford. The Bulldogs, it's worth noting, scored 48 points in their season-opening win against Milford.
"We played really good defense against Bedford," Winnacunnet coach Ron Auffant said. "Real pleased with that. We were able to match up with their skill kids Teams that don't match up with their skill kids are gonna have trouble."
Winnacunnet held Bedford to 166 yards, and the Bulldogs didn't have a play that gained more than 16 yards.
"They were big up front on both sides of the ball," Bedford coach Kurt Hines said. "Very powerful team. I haven't seen big cats like that up front who can move that well in a long time."
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Winnacunnet's defense is this: The Warriors have been playing without middle linebacker Nyles Connor, who suffered a knee injury in Winnacunnet's final preseason scrimmage. Connor, an all-state player last season, is expected to return in two weeks, when Winnacunnet plays rival Exeter.
"We're hoping he'll be back for the Exeter game," Auffant said. "He's a captain and the leader of our defense. Just an excellent football player."
HELMET STICKER: This week's decal goes to Exeter running back Tyler Grant, who ran for 196 yards and two touchdowns in Exeter's 24-20 triumph over Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Saturday.
The game featured the top two teams in the state, according to the Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll. It also featured the two programs that met in last year's Division I championship, which Exeter won 23-13.
Exeter may be part of another No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown Friday, when Manchester Central travels to Eustis Field. Central was ranked third in last week's poll, and is coming off a 35-21 victory over Concord.
HOME AT LAST: That probably what the Newfound coaches, players and fans were saying Saturday, when the Bears played their first "true" home game in the program's 11-year history (nine at the varsity level).
Newfound made its home debut a winning one, as the Bears posted a 42-19 victory over Winnisquam at Morrison Field.
With the exception of a couple of games that were played at nearby field, Newfound has played all of its games on the road.
FOOTNOTES: Hines said senior Will McInerney, a 6-foot-7, 275-pound tackle, has taken on an assistant coach's role with the Bedford program. McInerney will not play this season because of knee problems (he had surgery on one, and will require surgery on the other). The good news, Hines said, is that the four schools that have made scholarship offers -- UNH, Fordham, Wagner and Colgate -- have said they will honor those scholarships as long as McInerney passes a physical in the spring. ... Somersworth quarterback Drew Francoeur returned a punt for a touchdown, tossed a TD pass and kicked a field goal in Somersworth's 23-14 triumph over Kearsarge on Friday. ... This year's Exeter-Winnacunnet game was scheduled to be played on Sept. 22, but has been moved to Sept. 21 (Friday). The game will be played in Hampton, and is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.