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New Hampshire Wk. 8 football preview

It’s Week No. 8 of a nine-week regular season in New Hampshire high school football, and things have become dicey for several teams.

New HampshireSome teams must win this weekend to keep their playoff hopes alive. Others will remain mathematically alive with a loss this weekend, but only by the smallest of fractions.

Here are this weekend’s pivotal games in each division:

DIVISION I

Nashua South (7-0) at Keene (5-2): Keene may be the reason the NHIAA scraps its four-conference format in each division next season. Why? The Blackbirds could finish 7-2 and not make the playoffs, even though at least one Division I team with at least four losses will advance. Keene trails Nashua South and Bishop Guertin (5-2) in Division I West, and must win this one to maintain any realistic hopes of reaching the postseason. Nashua South could earn the overall No. 1 seed for the Division I playoffs if it finishes the regular season unbeaten.

Manchester Central (5-2) at Salem (2-5): Not much at stake for Salem, but Central must extend its winning streak to six games to set up a winner-take-all matchup with Bedford (6-1) next weekend. If Central defeats Salem, the Central-Bedford winner will play at Concord in the Division I North championship game.

DIVISION II

Merrimack Valley (6-1) at St. Thomas (6-1): These teams are part of a three-way logjam with Portsmouth at the top of the Division II East standings, but Portsmouth holds the tiebreaker edge because it has already beaten Merrimack Valley and St. Thomas. The winner will likely meet Portsmouth in the Division II North championship game. The loser will become the longest of longshots to make the playoffs, and would need several unlikely things to happen next weekend to extend its season.

Laconia (3-4) at Kennett (3-4): Each team is under .500, but one will reach the postseason and face Plymouth (6-1) in the Division II North title game. The winner of this contest will almost certainly be that team.

DIVISION III

Pelham (6-0) at Campbell (5-1): Pelham is the only unbeaten team in Division III, and would lock up first place in Division III South by beating Campbell. A Campbell victory could create a three-way tie for first between Pelham, Campbell and Bow. Campbell and Bow will meet next weekend.

Stevens (4-2) at Newport (5-1): Newport is at the top of the Division III West standings. Stevens is in second, tied with Mascoma. Only two of the three will advance to the postseason, and Mascoma will meet Newport next weekend.

Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (3-3) at Winnisquam (3-3): These teams are tied for second place in Division III North. Gilford (5-2) has already secured a playoff berth and the winner of this game will likely be the second playoff team from that conference.

NHIAA WEEK 8 SCHEDULE

DIVISION I

Friday

Manchester Central at Salem

Exeter at Timberlane

Nashua North at Bishop Guertin

Londonderry at Manchester Memorial

Bedford at Merrimack

Goffstown at Pinkerton

Dover at Winnacunnet

Nashua South at Keene

Concord at Manchester West

Alvirne at Spaulding

DIVISION II

Friday

Hollis/Brookline at Con-Val

Laconia at Kennett

John Stark at Lebanon

Kearsarge at Monadnock

Plymouth at Hanover

Souhegan at Milford

Saturday

Merrimack Valley at St. Thomas

Trinity at Windham

Kingswood at Sanborn

Portsmouth at Pembroke

DIVISION III

Friday

Epping-Newmarket at Bishop Brady

Bow at Somersworth

Pelham at Campbell

Farmington-Nute at Raymond

Saturday

Gilford at Franklin

IL/Moultonborough at Winnisquam

Mascoma Valley at Newfound

Stevens at Newport

UNION LEADER/WGIR/WMUR POWER POLL

1. Concord (7-0)

2. Nashua South (7-0)

3. Bedford (6-1)

4. Pinkerton Academy (5-2)

5. Bishop Guertin (5-2)

6. Portsmouth (6-1)

7. Keene (5-2)

8. Trinity (6-1)

9. Plymouth (6-1)

10. Exeter (4-3)

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and publishes the New Hampshire Football Report. Follow him on Twitter: @603sportsmedia.