PLAYOFFS: Eight teams from each division will qualify.
It is a year of change in New Hampshire High school football, with division realignment, conference play and the number of state champions reduced from six to three.
But don’t be surprised if Division 1 is deja vu all over again — and again.
For the third straight season, it appears New Hampshire’s top division could very well come down to perennial powerhouse Pinkerton and two-time defending Division 1 state champion Exeter. The Blue Hawks beat the Astros in the title game each of the last two years.
Pinkerton, of course, returns the state’s most dynamic player in Eagle-Tribune All-Star running back Manny Latimore. Also a dynamo on kick and punt returns and a contributor at defensive back, Latimore scored 29 touchdowns last season. But he is far from a one-man team.
The Astros also sport one of New Hampshire’s top defensive players in returning Eagle-Tribune All-Star linebacker Matt Madden, who made 82 tackles last year despite missing two games with a torn ACL. Nick Liporto is also an ace at getting after the quarterback and 321-pound Phil Harper is a force inside.
Another challenger in Division 1 is Nashua South. The Panthers sport star QB Trevor Knight, who has committed to play his college football at UNH and also received an offer from UMass. Knight rushed for 1,180 yards and 18 touchdowns and threw for 1,780 yards and 13 scores last season.