Monday, September 23, 2013

CMass HS Football Power Rankings: 9/23/13

Leominster's Jarell Addo delivered several big hits from his safety spot in the Blue Devils' win over Lowell.
By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

While Leominster and St. John's both made trips to test their mettle in Eastern Mass, plenty was being decided back in the heart of the Commonwealth. Nashoba kept its winning streak alive with an impressive performance, while Shepherd Hill, Tantasqua, St. Peter-Marian and Quabbin all made their case to be ranked among the best in CMass.

Oh yeah, and Hudson proved that it's no fluke. Check out the rankings, along with our Player of the Year watch list, and Game of the Week, below.

Power Rankings

1. Leominster: 2-0, 0-0 Mid Wach A. Division 2

Last Week: Ranked No. 1. Defeated Lowell 33-20

The Blue Devils made the trip east to Lowell and notched a statement win over ESPN Boston's 9th ranked team in the state. For a full recap and highlights, click here.

2. Doherty: 2-0, 0-0 Inter-High. Division 4

Last Week: Ranked No. 2. Defeated Holy Name 19-12

Senior quarterback Luke Brennan and star receiver Isaac Yiadom rallied the Highlanders from a 12-point second half deficit, but the defense also showed some signs of improvement, clamping down on the physical Holy Name rushing attack after intermission.

3. Nashoba: 2-0, 1-0 Mid Wach A. Division 2

Last Week: Ranked No. 4. Defeated Shrewsbury 21-7

The Chieftains jump into the top-3 with a dominant win over Shrewsbury. New coach Jamie Tucker appears to have his dad's knack for building defenses, and the backfield combo of running back Eli Williams and fullback Frankie Chiodo combined for three touchdowns to give Nashoba its 28th win in a row.

4. St. John's (Shrewsbury): 1-1, 0-0 Central Mass. Division 2

Last Week: Ranked No. 3. Defeated Catholic Memorial 42-24

The Pioneers drop one spot, mostly due to the dominance of Nashoba, but star quarterback Drew Smiley was back to his old tricks, torching Catholic Memorial for four touchdowns through the air, and another on the ground. If the Pioneers feel slighted by the drop, they do face Nashoba on the road in two weeks.

5. Hudson: 2-0, 1-0 Mid Wach B. Division 4

Last Week: Ranked No. 5. Defeated Groton-Dunstable 41-7

The Hawks continue to roll with suffocating defense and a brutal ground game led by quarterback Dan Mendes and running back Dan Bothwell. The two of them combined for over 250 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, while Mendes added a 52-yard passing score to senior receiver Bobby Brisbois.

In the Hunt: Shepherd Hill (2-0), Quabbin (2-0), Tantasqua (2-0), St. Peter-Marian (2-0), Leicester (2-0), Auburn (2-1), Blackstone Valley Tech (2-0).

The Rams ran over Gardner, but things get much tougher with top ranked Leominster coming to town Friday night. Another week, another big-time performance for Quabbin quarterback Dylan Kierman, who threw and rushed for a touchdown in the Panthers' demolition of Tyngsborough.

Tantasqua scored the biggest win in this pack, shocking Northbridge 40-3 with big plays from Spencer Duncan and Mike Nichols. SPM now has two dominating wins over physical teams in Wachusett and Grafton, and Leicester's defense is proving it is more than just star Tom Rodrick. But offensively? Yeah, Rodrick powers the Wolverine attack on the ground.

Auburn bounced back after the thrashing it took last week at the hands of Hudson, and junior Mark Wright again looks like one of the top backs in CMass, rushing for 260 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Oakmont. Finally, BVT made short work of Assabet, proving for a second consecutive week that it is the small school to beat in Central Mass.

Game of the Week: Leominster at Shepherd Hill, Friday at 7 pm

We know the Rams love to run the football, and they're going to need a big day on the ground to keep up with the high-powered Blue Devil attack. Not only has Leominster proven to be lethal in it's spread-option attack, coach Dave Palazzi dusted off the old Double-Wing last week to run the ball down Lowell's throat.

Still, Ram quarterback Drew Jean-Guillaume has been impressive running Shepherd Hill's packed in offense, and running backs Brady Ravenelle and Jake Gelb should be able to find running room against Leominster's speedy, but somewhat undersized front.

It's tough to see No. 1 Leominster going down in this one, but it's no easy task to win on the Hill. If the Rams can take the air out of the ball and limit star Blue Devil QB Neil O'Connor's opportunities, they have as good a shot as anybody. Plus, after back-to-back games against rival St. John's and Eastern Mass power Lowell, you have to worry if the Blue Devils are primed for a letdown.

CMass Player of the Year Watch List

1. Neil O'Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster

O'Connor was once again brilliant, throwing a pair of touchdowns and running for another against Lowell.

2. Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/S, Doherty

Yiadom is living up to his billing as the region's biggest play maker, hauling in a 44-yard bomb to put the Highlanders up for good in their come-from-behind win over Holy Name.

3. Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John's

Smiley's five total touchdowns reminded us that, at his best, he's practically unstoppable as a runner and passer in the St. John's "Blur" offense.

4. Luke Brennan, Sr. QB, Doherty

Brennan jumps up a spot this week because, as much credit as we give Yiadom, somebody has to put the ball there. The senior QB has done that and more, adding a TD on the ground, and never letting Doherty lose its cool, even when falling behind by two scores early.

5. Dylan Kierman, Sr. QB, Quabbin

Kierman is going to finish as one of CMass' leading passers, and he's already got Quabbin playing well above the level we've grown accustomed to. Here's a crazy thought: With the way the Panthers are playing and their remaining schedule, they could easily go from a 4-win team in 2012, to an undefeated team this year.

In the Hunt: Jarell Addo, Sr. TE/S, Leominster. Dan Mendes, Sr. QB/DB, Hudson. Nic Wojnar, Sr. QB/LB, BVT. Mark Wright, Jr. RB, Auburn. Davon Jones, Jr. WR/S, St. John's.

Addo made some big hits from his safety spot against Lowell, but he just doesn't get the touches offensively to put up eye-popping numbers. Mendes is known as a runner, but he showed he could throw this past weekend as well. Wojnar may do more for his team than anybody in the region as both a dual threat QB and pass rushing LB.

Wright got back on track with a huge game against Oakmont, but his candidacy will rise and fall with the performance of the Rockets. Jones is the Pioneers' best defensive player, but with so many weapons on offense, his numbers will never be off the charts.

No comments :