6 must-have games for 2021


The 2021 high school football season kicks off Friday with Seacoast teams in action in New Hampshire and Maine.

There are games that will be good, games that will be better, and games that will be a must-have for any high school football fan, even if they have no direct connection to either team.

Here’s a look at six must-see games across the coast this high school football season.

Goffstown at Exeter, Friday, September 3, 7 p.m.

What better way to start the season for the Blue Hawks than facing Goffstown?

The Grizzlies return plenty of starters on both sides of the ball from a team that beat Winnacunnet in the Division I semifinals last year, then lost to Nashua South in the Championship game.

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“We didn’t talk about anything other than Goffstown, period,” Ball said. “It was all Goffstown.

Even Winnacunnet head coach Ryan Francoeur will take a look at this result shortly after his team’s opener against Bedford is over.

“We’re definitely going to have our eyes on that one,” Francoeur said. “I’m quite interested in this one.”

Dover and Spaulding is New Hampshire's oldest public school football rivalry, dating back to 1906. The two teams did not meet last year due to COVID, but will resume the legendary rivalry on Friday, September 24 in Dover. .

Spaulding in Dover, Friday September 24, 7 p.m.

The great rivalry between these schools dates back to 1906. The 2020 season was the first year since 1918 and 1919 that the two schools did not meet on the grill.

“Historically, we are starting a new chapter this year,” said Spaulding coach Kevin Hebert.

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Dover leads the series with 69 wins, 47 losses, 8 draws. Spaulding beat Dover, 24-21, in triple overtime in 2019.

“For both schools this game is the highlight of their seasons,” said Hebert. “One way or another, this game is always remembered. I know we’ll be at the top for this one, and I’m sure Dover will be too. ”

The two schools were originally scheduled to meet last September in Rochester, but a positive COVID-19 case in Spaulding the previous week forced the Rochester school district to cancel all athletic competitions for the week of September 21, including including the Friday night football game.

The rivalry resumes in week four of the regular season.

“With a rivalry game like this, you’re always looking to see where it is (on the schedule),” Hebert said. “The level of excitement for this children’s game is at a much higher level.”

Winnacunnet High School head coach Ryan Francoeur chats with his team following last year's loss to Goffstown in the Division I semi-finals. Goffstown visits Exeter on Friday at the opening of the season for both schools.

Winnacunnet in Exeter – Saturday, September 25, 1:30 p.m.

The final chapter in this historic rivalry has not been written as Exeter was forced to forgo last year’s Division I quarterfinal game due to COVID-19 protocols.

Exeter head coach Bill Ball, entering his 29th season as head coach of the Blue Hawks, says the Winnacunnet game is “still the most important game of the year”.

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“It brings out the best in both teams, both schools, everyone, it’s the ultimate rivalry,” Ball said. “The fourth game of the year will be a very good week for both teams to prepare to compete here this Saturday afternoon.”

This will be the third regular-season game in the rivalry for Winnacunnet’s Ryan Francoeur as head coach.

“I’m biased, but that’s the best part of high school sport here,” said Francoeur. “It doesn’t get any better than that. You don’t need to bring the kids up, they are all looking forward to it. It’s a very strong rivalry, but respectful. We really love what they are doing there and how they behave. I think they feel the same for us. It’s a great rivalry to be a part of.

Darian Lopez-Sullivan of Dover, second from left, scores the winning touchdown in last year's game against Portsmouth / Oyster River.

Portsmouth / Oyster River in Dover, Friday, October 15, 7 p.m.

Portsmouth coach Brian Pafford says games against Dover have always been close, whether it was during his playing years in the 1980s or since joining Clipper’s coaching staff in 1997. “At the time, Dover was considered our great rival,” Pafford mentioned. “One year, we had a game that ended in a secondary fight. It seems these games against Dover are always very competitive and come down to the last minute. ”

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It certainly happened at the last minute last season as Dover quarterback Darian Lopez-Sullivan scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 4-yard goalie with eight seconds left, giving the Green Wave a victory. from 13-7.

“If we’re 4-2 (when we face them this year) it’s probably going to be a lot more meaningful than if we’re not,” said Pafford.

The teams also played seven times on Thanksgiving, with Dover holding a 4-3 advantage in the series.

“It looks like all of those Thanksgiving games ended with extra time or a last second touchdown,” Pafford said. “These are always the most competitive games.”

The Marshwood High School football team, featured here in 2019, will face Kennebunk in the regular season finals on October 22.

Marshwood at Kennebunk, Friday, Oct. 22, 6 p.m.

The two teams have traditionally faced each other in the final week of the regular season, as they will every year.

“It’s a great way to end the regular season, and it usually means something too,” said Marshwood head coach Alex Rotsko.

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The Hawks and Rams met in the Class B South Championship game in 2018, as well as in 2019. Marshwood won by one point, 14-13 in 2018 and 32-6 in 2019.

“The first thing is you know it will be an exciting football game to watch (when we face each other),” Rotsko said. “It’s always very competitive. We went back and forth with each other. They won and we won. I think it has become a good rivalry. The last five or six years (going to the state championship) is down to one of us, it’s been great.

Rotkso knows that there is no need to make sure his players are motivated when playing Kennebunk.

“We know Kennebunk will be one of our toughest opponents of the year, and I guess they feel the same,” Rotsko said. “It’s a game that you always look forward to. These are just two great programs that go head to head each year, it’s a lot of fun.

York at Wells, Friday, October 22, 7 p.m.

York swept away neighboring Wells’ seasonal series in 2019, including a 28-8 victory in a Class C South semi-final.

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“The reason this is such a big rivalry is obviously the proximity between the two schools and the similarities between the two cities,” said head coach and former York student Matt Nelson. “Many alumni of the two schools still live in the city. There are parents who were gamers and grandparents who were gamers.

York and Wells usually meet in the last game of the regular season.

“There is no need to remind our kids when York and Wells are playing, and I’m sure they feel the same a few miles down the road,” Nelson said. “The two schools are very proud to compete with each other. ”

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