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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Division I highlights old-school matchup

New Hampshire native Chip Kelly is a leading figure in the revolution of football at the University of Oregon, with his fast-paced, no-huddle offense.

As offensive coordinator at the University of New Hampshire, Kelly was creating converts among the state’s high school coaches before he left for the West Coast five years ago. ...

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New Hampshire native Chip Kelly is a leading figure in the revolution of football at the University of Oregon, with his fast-paced, no-huddle offense.

As offensive coordinator at the University of New Hampshire, Kelly was creating converts among the state’s high school coaches before he left for the West Coast five years ago.

But if you want to see how football used to be played, you don’t have to travel very far. Just take a trip to Exeter on Saturday for the noon Division I final between Pinkerton Academy and Exeter High School.

Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly will run the wing-T formation he adopted when he took over the program in the late 1970s. It’s a conservative offense by today’s standards, but it is wide open compared with the straight-T formation preferred by Exeter coach Bill Ball.

Both coaches have been extremely successful doing what they do year after year. Pinkerton is playing in its 14th Division I title game since winning it all for the first time in 1985. This is the eighth time in the last nine years Pinkerton has played in the final. Exeter has won six titles since Ball became head coach in 1993, five of them in Division II. It moved up to Division I two years ago and upset Pinkerton 23-13 in last year’s title game.

Exeter beat Pinkerton in Derry again, 24-20, during the second week of the regular season. Senior halfback Tyler Grant, the MVP of last year’s postseason, ran for 196 yards in that game. Incredibly, running a grind-it-out offense, Exeter has turned the ball over just three times all season, and two were interceptions.

Pinkerton has its own game breaker in Manny Latimore, who rushed for 206 yards and scored five touchdowns in last week’s 41-3 semifinal victory over Nashua High School South.

“It should be a great game,” Nashua South coach Scott Knight said. “Two very evenly matched teams. If there’s any edge, it might be Exeter’s special teams.”