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Capsule previews of local high school football games

PORTSMOUTH

AT NASHUA SOUTH

WHEN: Friday, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Stellos Stadium.

LAST YEAR: Did not play.

FYI: Season openers are always interesting because so little is known about how a team will perform. The Panthers, coming off a 5-5 season, will have an offense likely centered around junior back/receiver Jason Compoh, and have been working together for months. Portsmouth, 1-8 a year ago, returns running QB Jacob Boutin and a strong offensive line led by 290-pound Harvard-bound Thor Griffith.

MERRIMACK AT

SPAULDING

WHEN: Friday, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Spaulding High School in Rochester.

LAST YEAR: Did not play.

FYI: The Red Raiders have simply struggled in Division I, going 1-8 last season and haven’t been a playoff team since 2013. However, this year they have 21 seniors compared to seven a year ago, which should count for something. It’s a core group that has been together for awhile, and the guess is that senior Logan Gadbois, in a big preseason compettion, will win out as the starting QB. The Tomahawks are coming off a successful 8-3 season that saw them reach the Divsion I semis, feature the talented tight end/defensive end Jared Dyer, one of the state’s best players, and prolific QB Jason Dowling, both seniors.

NASHUA NORTH AT

WINNACUNNET

WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.

WHERE: WHS in Hampton

LAST YEAR: Did not play.

FYI: The Warriors will be entering a new era after coach Ron Auffant (14 years, two state titles) stepped down after a 6-4 playoff season (loss in quarters), replaced by Ryan Francoeur. They’ll likely have a new look in junior QB Pat Britton and senior lead back Rich Camarato. Of course, anyone prepping for the Titans, 7-4 last year, knows the key is somehow trying to stop dynamic junior QB Curtis Harris. A key for Harris will be how he’s improved in the passing game .

BISHOP GUERTIN AT

EXETER

WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Exeter’s Bill Ball Stadium.

LAST YEAR: Did not play.

FYI: Ah, years ago this great rivalry would always be circled on the Division II calendar, and even when both began competing in Division I. Both teams are looking to bounce back from tough seasons as the Blue Hawks went 4-5 and missed the playoffs for the first time in several years. It’s reportedly a smaller team in terms of size than many have been used to, but a lot of experience up front plus a deep backfield starting with senior fullback Derek Edmiston and second year starting QB Ryan Grijalva. Guertin went 2-7, lost some key athletes as transfers, but back is QB Hayden Moses, senior speedster Joey Lupo and talented tight end Kyle Baker., plus a ton of returning linemen.

HOLLIS BROOKLINE AT MILFORD

WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.

WHERE: At Milford High

LAST YEAR: Hollis Brookline 28, Milford 21

FYI: Milford certainly was the talk of the Queen City Jamboree, dominating Manchester Central, 28-7, in one half of action.

QB Gavin Urda had TD runs of 77, 50 and 45 yards in the demolition.

With a strong line and devastating fullback Emmanuel Ughu, Milford, a 6-4 quarterfinalist last year, is a definite threat in D-II.

Hollis Brookline should be tough up front, too, with four starting offensive linemen returning. Of course, the Cavaliers mean wide-open offense led by senior twins Sander Wimmer at quarterback and Quinten Wimmer at receiver.

PELHAM AT ALVIRNE

WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.

WHERE: At Alvirne High School in Hudson

LAST YEAR: Alvirne 14, Pelham 6

FYI: Most had Pelham pegged for the playoffs in 2018, only to see the Pythons end up as the odd team out with a 5-4 mark. With 11 starters back from that group, they remain right in the mix at the top.

Senior Ian Hoey comes backoff a huge year, in which he hit 70 of 122 passes for 1,123 yards with 17 TDs and only one pick. But,it’s bruising Charlie Katin (33 carries,409 yards) who really makes Pelham go.

Alvirne carved out its spot in Division II South nicely a year ago. You have to think the Broncos,with 27 seniors back and junior Kyle Gora returning at quarterback, will have the targets on their backs as the team to beat this fall.

SOUHEGAN AT ST. THOMAS

WHEN: Saturday, 2 p.m.

WHERE: At St. Thomas High in Dover

LAST YEAR: St. Thomas 27, Souhegan 20

FYI: The Saints have beaten Souhegan three straight years, and this time around each is looking to replace a cornerstone quarterback. Souhegan has options at the spot where California transfer Austin Jain and Luke Manning,both receivers, have shared time in the preseason, Manning, who caught 53 passes for the state semifinalists last year, is a multi-threat as he proved in the 13-0 Queen City Jamboree win over Concord. Manning moved the team well through the air, clicking twice for big gains with senior HB Ryan Hauser. He also caught a TD pass from Jain.

SOMERSWORTH AT

CAMPBELL

WHEN: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: At Campbell High in Litchfield

LAST YEAR: Campbell 39, Somersworth 6

FYI: New coach Jeremy Lambert takes over at Somersworth after the Hilltoppers went 4-5 a year ago. Campbell rolled,39-6,when the teams met.

The Cougars are a consensus choice to return to UNH for the Division III title game with the likes of four-year senior starters Keegan Mills and Carter Vedrani leading the way. One spot to watch is the QB slot where Conor Sweeney slides over from halfback to fill the shoes of Adam Breton.