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Close call, but Pingree bowl bound

By Bob Holmes
Globe Staff / November 14, 2011

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Chris Powers doesn’t know that much about his opponent in Saturday’s NEPSAC Bowl game, Rye Country Day. But one thing he does know . . . he’s happy to have an opponent.

After Pingree lost to New Hampton, 35-7, last month, Powers wasn’t sure his team would make NEPSAC’s post-season lineup. There’s no win-loss percentage than insures you get in, it’s more like being a college football player hoping to hear your name on draft day.

“That’s exactly what it is. Like college days, you’re just sitting there waiting, hoping to get picked,’’ said Powers, Pingree’s coach all seven years of the program’s existence. “The way it’s set up you have a terrific season and they reward you, but one loss can stop you.’’

Powers didn’t have to wait long, getting the call early yesterday afternoon. The Highlanders (7-1) will face Rye Country Day (9-0) in the Dan Rorke Bowl next Saturday at Loomis Chaffee in Windsor (Conn.). Time is TBA.

“We’re pretty excited. We graduated 16 very talented kids,’’ said Powers of last year’s 10-0 team that beat Rivers in a NEPSAC bowl game played at Gillette Stadium. “We knew we had a couple returning guys but you just don’t know. The nice thing for us is that the returning kids were talented, and we had four returning starters on the offensive line.’’

Pingree isn’t new to success. The South Hamilton school is 24-2 over the last three years. This year’s team is led by running back Kenny Adinkra. The Lynn resident has run for better than 100 yards each of the last four games, including a 230-yard, five-touchdown effort in a 59-39 win over Vermont Academy.

“He’s had a tremendous season,’’ said Powers of his 5-8, 200-pound senior.

Adinkra isn’t alone. Junior Jerome Cappdona starts at quarterback, and Powers said he’s “a real threat to run, and at the same time has a tremendous knack for reading the defense, and hitting the open receiver.’’ Nick Antenucci, a running back and middle linebacker from Saugus, is the team’s leading tackler and second leading rusher.

As for Rye Country Day?

“We know they’re undefeated,’’ said Powers. “They have a terrific running back, and he’s averaging about 200 yards a game. They’re certainly a strong team. You look at the numbers they put up and it’s intimidating.’’

The Wildcats clinched their first undefeated season with a 35-6 win over Hackley Saturday.

The matchups for four other NEPSAC Bowls were announced yesterday with two Friday, two Saturday.

Norm Walker Bowl: Kent School (6-0) at Taft (7-0), Sat., at 1:45. The only matchup of unbeaten teams is a game that should have already happened. The two were scheduled to meet Oct. 29 but the Halloween snow storm canceled the game and it was never made up.

Arthur Valicenti Bowl: Choate (7-2) at Cheshire (8-0), Fri., at 7. Cheshire finished unbeaten for the first time in 48 years and is making its third postseason appearance in four years. Choate won its last four to make the postseason.

Jack Etter Bowl: New Hampton (7-1) vs. Governor’s Academy (8-0) at Cushing, Fri., 6 p.m. The Gov’s clinched the ISL title with a win over Belmont Hill.

Tom Flaherty Bowl: Suffield (7-1) vs. Belmont Hill (7-1) at Worcester Academy, Sat., time TBA. Belmont Hill coach Kevin Fleming gets a second chance to win his final game with a selection to the postseason.

Playoff picture: A wild three days of conference games produced this: Of the 34 leagues in EMass, 23 of them have been decided with the rest up for grabs on Thanksgiving. Only Divisions 3A, 4, and 5 are set.

Hockomock Kelley-Rex tiebreaker: As explained to us, in the event of a three-way tie, the team that gave up the most points to the other two teams is eliminated, and then it returns to head-to-head competition between the remaining two. Therefore, if North Attleboro beats Attleboro on Thanksgiving, and King Philip beats Franklin, then there’s a three-way tie between NA, KP, and Mansfield. Mansfield gave up the most points, so the defending league champs would be eliminated. KP beat North Attleboro head-to-head, so that eliminates North Attleboro. The Red Rocketeers’ only hope is for Franklin to beat KP.


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