High School Football Playoff Matchups: North’s Harris out this week

Telegraph file photo by TOM KING Nashua North's Curtis Harris, the state's leading rusher, won't play in Saturday's Division I quarterfinal vs. Merrimack due to a left knee injury. "He's week-to-week," North coach Dante Laurendi said.

Division I



WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Stellos Stadium.

RECORDS: Nashua North 9-0, Merrimack 6-3

REGULAR SEASON: Nashua North 31, Merrimack 19

FYI: It’s the second year in a row these two are meeting in the quarterfinals, but this one is on the slick surface of Motta Field. Unfortunately for the Titans, the player – Curtis Harris – who burned the Tomahawks at Stellos for 180 yards rushing and three TDs while also throwing for 76 yards and a score in a 31-19 win two weeks ago won’t be playing. Titans coach Dante Laurendi has said Harris’ injured left knee will keep him out of this game and that he is “week to week”. Without him last week, North scored only seven points against Portsmouth, a Jayden Espinal TD toss to Sam Nicholls. But defensively, the Titans held their own for a shutout. Can they do it again against a skilled Merrimack team? The Tomahawks in that North game two weeks ago also lost their QB/RB, James Dowling, to an ankle injury. In his place, sophomore Kyle Crampton last week vs. Winnacunnet threw for 331 yards and four TDs, all of them to the Tomahawk’s tight end/defensive end beast, senior Jared Dyer. Right now, without Harris, the Titans would be challenged to match points with the Tomahawks and will hope their defense has an immense game – always possible. North’s ability to avoid a second straight playoff ouster at the hands of the Tomahawks may rest on that side of the ball.



WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Exeter High School’s Bill Ball Stadium.

RECORDS: Nashua South 6-3, Exeter 8-1

REGULAR SEASON: Exeter 30, Nashua South 14

FYI: Last Friday was the warmup act, and this one is the main event. However, the venue change is key as the Blue Hawks are nearly invincible at home. The Panthers really hurt themselves last Friday night at Stellos by giving Exeter a short field that led to three fairly easy scores (turnovers, special team mistakes). But what the Panthers should be wary of is what they saw Exeter do on the opening drive of the second half: 14 plays, 70 yards, chewing up 8:47 on the clock. South can’t get the ball in the hands of QB Chris Keefe and backs Jason and Josh Compoh if they can’t stop the Exeter running attack paced by Jaedon Cliche, Derek Edmiston and QB Ryan Grijalva. The best way to beat Exeter is to get a lead and force them to play from behind, or you may never see the football. Easier said than done.

Division II



WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Bow High School

REGULAR SEASON: Bow 41, Souhegan 31

RECORDS: Bow 9-0, Souhegan 5-4

FYI: History bodes well for the Sabers, who drove north and found playoff bliss in Bow last November. Still, as coach Robin Bowkett noted, the mistakes his football team has been prone to lately, have to disappear if the upset is at hand. No secrets here as the teams met seven days ago. Mark Guerrette scored five TDs to lead Bow, the only Division II unbeaten, in that one. The Sabers can score, averaging 30.9 points a game for the season. Can Alex Karpawich, Mike Maroun and the Souhegan defense do the tighten up and slow the Falcons down? That’s the question. Turnovers will be huge in this one. Souhegan lost that battle and the war because of it, despite leading 17-14 at halftime.



WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Milford High School

RECORDS: Alvirne 6-3, Milford 8-1

REGULAR SEASON: Milford 28, Alvirne 27

FYI: Two of the true, gritty quarterbacks in the state here. It’s been a natural rivalry since November of 2018. Alvirne’s Kyle Gora and Milford’s Gavin Urda again tangle, with Urda holding the ever-so-slight 2-1 edge head to head. One Division II coach called Milford two-way lineman Colton Burrows a game-changer this week. Alvirne’s going to have to find a way to keep him occupied. Weapon for weapon, Milford might hold the edge, but Alvirne has history, having beaten the Spartans in last year’s quarterfinals and rolling into the state title game.


WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Kennett High School, Conway

RECORDS: HB 7-2, Kennett 7-2

REGULAR SEASON: Did not play

FYI: Sander Wimmer’s dream senior year continued a week ago as he eclipsed the 2,000-yard passing mark. He is now 138 of 181 for 2,171 yards with 22 TDs and 5 picks. He’s also run for 529 yards and 13 TDs — that’s 35 scores total if you are keeping track at home. Has there been a better receiving duo anywhere this year than Blake Bergerson and Quinten Wimmer, who have caught 15 of those touchdown passes? Kennett has been more balanced, but QB Parker Coleman has pieced together a nice year with 998 passing yards and 10 TDs with just one interception. Kyle Perry and Dominic Jones are the playmakers, who Cavalier linebackers Quinn Connors and Salvatore Fabbio will be eyeing intently.

Division III



WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Campbell High School, Litchfield

RECORDS: Campbell 8-1, Stevens 5-4

REGULAR SEASON: Did not play

FYI: Coach Paul Silva’s crew keeps it simple and always comes to play, as the Cougars found out in a rugged state semifinal win over Stevens a year ago. The Cardinals bring a major threat into this one in 1,200-yard rusher Keeghan McAllister, who has ripped it up for 20 touchdowns this fall. Big play men Carter Vedrani, Cam Barrett and Conor Sweeney will again be called upon to deliver for Campbell. Interesting note that through the finished with the same record as Lebanon, actually beating the Raiders in the season finale, only to be given the third seed behind Trinity and Lebanon for the playoffs.