EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 21, 2013

Concord rates the edge, but ...

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Dave Dyer

---- — One question looms big for the New Hampshire Division 1 state title game tomorrow at Concord: Who has more to play for?

The Astros (9-2) have revenge on their mind, having lost to Concord 21-14 in overtime last month, and would like to get back on top of the heap after finishing second all too often recently while the host Crimson Tide (11-0) are chasing history.

Concord already has the most wins in its history and would like to become the first Crimson Tide team to win the state title since 2000.

All in all, it looks like the psychological and emotional battle should be a draw, which means that it’ll be the team with the most talent that prevails.

Both teams have a featured back, Manny Latimore for the Astros and Walter Ndi for the Crimson Tide. In their first meeting, Latimore rushed for 176 yards and Ndi — who is an outstanding wrestler — responded with 147.

Since that meeting, Pinkerton has gradually given more carries to promising sophomore T.J. Urbanik (480 rushing yards in the last three weeks) and other backs. That has been a big help and partially explains how the Astros have put 55 and 44 points on the board the last two weeks.

But Concord has gone more with Marc Gaudet and Leo Sudieh of late and may have an edge in the passing game with quarterback Rob Law (1,400 passing yards, 15 TD passes) and wide out Seimou Smith (32 catches, 620 yards, 7 TD catches), who Concord coach Eric Brown calls “one of the top, if not the top receiver in the state.”

It’s this balance that makes me inclined to go with Concord. Hopefully, I’ll be proven wrong, but at this point, I can’t view it any other way.

PREDICTION: Concord 24, Pinkerton 21