Breaking down Saturday’s NHIAA football semifinal-round playoff games:
Note: All games are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
No. 4 Exeter (7-3) at No. 1 Concord (10-0)
Concord is the only unbeaten team in the state and has scored at least 43 points in six of its 10 games. The Crimson Tide offense has overshadowed a defense that has held eight of its 10 opponents to 14 points or less. … A late-season quarterback change (senior Joey Jones now starts behind center) has paid off for Exeter, which has won the last two Division I championships. Jones led Exeter to an upset over Spaulding in Saturday’s Division I East championship game. … Jay Inzenga is the top threat in Exeter’s run-based offense. Inzenga has rushed for a team-high 1,236 yards and 11 touchdowns on 172 carries this season. … Concord running back Marc Gaudet scored three TDs in the second quarter of Saturday’s 53-14 victory over Manchester Central, but was limited to one series in the second half because of a leg injury. … The Crimson Tide and Blue Hawks did not meet during the regular season. … Concord is seeking its first state title since 2000.
No. 3 Pinkerton Academy (8-2) at No. 2 Keene (8-2)
Keene lost two of its first three games, but has been playing as well as anyone in the state since moving Alex Parenteau from fullback to quarterback during a loss to Bishop Guertin in Week 3. Parenteau has completed 71 of 109 passes for 1,084 yards and 17 TDs this season. He’s also rushed for 1,050 yards and 16 touchdowns. … Pinkerton’s two losses came by a total of nine points. The Astros dropped a 14-12 decision to Bedford in their opener, and lost to Concord in overtime (21-14). … Pinkerton isn’t lacking star power. Manny Latimore is arguably the best running back in the state, and linebacker Matt Madden may be the state’s best defensive player. … It’s been more than 20 years since these programs last met on the field. … The Blackbirds haven’t won a state championship since 1970. Pinkerton won its last title in 2010. … This will be Keene’s first home playoff game since 1993.
No. 4 Sanborn Regional (6-4) at No. 1 Plymouth Regional (9-1)
Sanborn, which first fielded a varsity football team in 2008, earned the program’s first playoff victory by knocking off previously unbeaten Monadnock 18-9 last weekend. Running back Mike Rich has become one of Sanborn’s top offensive threats. His 56-yard TD run in the third quarter gave Sanborn the lead for good against Monadnock. He also had five catches for 107 yards in that contest. ... Plymouth is trying to win its 20th state championship under head coach Chuck Lenahan, who is in his 43rd and final season as Plymouth’s head coach. The Bobcats have reached the championship game in their division in four of the last five years. Their only loss this season came against second-seeded Portsmouth (27-22). … Jared Kuehl, Plymouth’s leading rusher, missed Saturday’s victory over Kennett of Conway with an injury. … These teams did not meet during the regular season.
No. 3 Trinity (8-2) at No. 2 Portsmouth (9-1)
Trinity and Portsmouth met in Week 1, when the Pioneers posted a 58-37 victory in Portsmouth. Trinity quarterback Carmen Giampetruzzi completed 11 of 15 passes for 358 yards and four touchdowns in that win. Austin Chambers also had a big night with five catches for 240 yards and two TDs. … The Clippers have won nine games in a row since losing to the Pioneers. … Portsmouth running back Mikel Toar was at less than full strength in Saturday’s 37-34 triumph over Merrimack Valley and is still nursing an ankle injury. Portsmouth coach Brian Pafford said Toar will likely see limited playing time. … Portsmouth quarterback Donovan Phanor has completed 80 of 147 passes for 1,354 yards and 15 TDs this season (four interceptions). He has run the ball 98 times for 640 yards and 11 TDs. … Portsmouth won the Division III championship in each of the past two years. Trinity won its last title in 2011 (Division IV).
No. 4 Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (5-4) at No. 1 Bow (8-1)
Bow relies heavily on junior running back Matt Ehrenberg, who holds the school record for yards rushing in a season (1,338). He gained 226 yards on 22 carries in Saturday’s 18-6 triumph over previously unbeaten Pelham. … Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough reached the semifinals with a 27-14 come-from-behind victory over Gilford in the Division III North title game. Nick Brothers scored two fourth-quarter TDs in that victory. … Bow has scored at least 28 points in seven of its eight victories, and is allowing an average of 9.3 points per game. … The Falcons, who won the regular-season meeting 33-0 in Meredith, last won a state championship in 2004. Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough won its last title in 2011. … Six of Bow’s opponents failed to score more than seven points.
No. 3 Epping-Newmarket (5-4) at No. 2 Stevens (7-2)
Stevens enters this contest on a six-game winning streak. … Stevens running back Donald Pellerin has rushed for 1,332 yards and 20 touchdowns on 237 carries this season. … Epping-Newmarket has allowed 34 points in its last three games -- all victories. Epping-Newmarket’s Jacob Valinski, a senior, is the program’s all-time leading tackler (421). … Joe Leclerc is Epping-Newmarket’s top offensive threat. He gained 169 yards on 22 carries in a 28-0 victory over Bishop Brady in Saturday’s Division III East championship game. … Epping-Newmarket has never won a state championship. Stevens is seeking its first state title since 1962 (Division III). … These teams did not meet during the regular season.
Roger Brown covers high school football for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Follow him on Twitter: @603sportsmedia.