Monday, October 21, 2013

CMass HS Football Power Rankings: 10/21/13

Many are sleeping on the Rockets, but Auburn RB Mark Wright is one of the region's premier players.
By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

As I said last week, my wedding was this past weekend, so I obviously didn't get to make the CMass rounds. That being said, here are my final absentee Power Rankings, a Game of the Week and an updated Player of the Year Watch List for before I get back out onto the trail this weekend.

Power Rankings

1. Leominster: 6-0, 2-0 Mid Wach A. Division 2

Last Week: Ranked No.1. Defeated Nashoba 40-15.

Nashoba isn't the same juggernaut we've come to know over the past few years, but beating up on the Cheiftains is still highly impressive.

2. Doherty: 5-1, 2-0 Inter-High. Division 4

Last Week: Ranked No.2. Defeated Worcester North 28-0.

Doherty is head and shoulders above everybody else in Inter-High, so I wouldn't think too hard about these blowout wins over teams like North. Still, the Highlanders emphatically closed the door on the Polar Bears' upset bid, and did it all before halftime.
3. Hudson: 6-0, 3-0 Mid Wach B. Division 4

Last Week: Ranked No. 3. Defeated Algonquin 38-13.

Hudson is starting to get healthy, as Dan Bothwell returned to form in a blowout of the better-than-you-think T-Hawks. Getting Dan Mendes back from injury will be key for Hudson, but Andrew Wienan has picked up the slack on the ground, rushing for a pair of touchdowns against Algonquin.

4. Marlborough: 6-0, 4-0 Mid Wach B. Division 2

Last Week: Unranked. Defeated North Middlesex 20-6.

I haven't written about Marlborough much, mostly due to my own ignorance, but I feel it's time to give the Panthers their due. They first caught my eye with a 28-24 win over Nashoba last week, but I wanted to see if they could avoid a letdown against scrappy North Middlesex. Two John Rumney touchdown passes and four quarters of stellar defense later, and I had no choice but to put the Panthers in the Top-5.

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

Last Week: Ranked No.5. Defeated Wachusett 34-9.

All of the hype around St. John's and its up-tempo attack has gone to quarterback Drew Smiley and athlete Davon Jones, and rightfully so. But, without Michael McGillicuddy catching passes and returning kicks, the Pioneers probably lose to Fitchburg earlier this year, and aren't nearly the threat they are in Division 2. McGillicuddy was back at it Friday against Wachusett, pulling in a pair of TD grabs, and returning a kickoff 78 yards for another score.

In the Hunt: Shepherd Hill (5-1), Littleton (6-0), Blackstone Valley Tech (6-0), St. Peter-Marian (5-1), West Boylston (5-1), Leicester (5-1), Auburn (5-2), Uxbridge (5-1), Shrewsbury (4-2)

How many regions in across the country can legitimately say that their smallest division's playoffs are going to be amazing? CMass D6 can say that, as BVT, Littleton and West Boylston are all legit, and have state title aspirations. In D5, Leicester appears to have the upper hand after wins over Auburn and Uxbridge, but I wouldn't count either of those teams out yet either.

SPM suffered its first loss of the season, a last-minute defeat at the hands of always physical Shepherd Hill. The win nearly thrust the Rams, whose only loss is to powerful Leominster, into the Top-5. Still, fans on the Hill will have to wait a little longer to see their team in our Power Rankings.

And how about Shrewsbury? After coming out of the gates 1-2, the Colonials have won three in a row, including wins over powerful Fitchburg and speedy St. John's. Add in their dismantling of Westboro this past weekend, and you have a team that is not to be slept on, even in brutal Division 2.

Game of the Week: Marlborough at St. John's: Saturday at 2:30

Are the Panthers for real? We'll find out this week when their impressive defense takes on the Pioneers' "Blur" offense, led by QB Andrew Smiley and receiver Michael McGillicuddy.

On the other side of the ball, Marlborough and QB John Rumney will find things a little tougher than expected against an improved Pioneers front, and deep completions are hard to come by with Davon Jones roaming the secondary. Still, balanced offenses have been able to exploit St. John's, and if the Panthers can get William Cowdrey going on the ground, this could be one of the better games in the state this weekend.

CMass Player of the Year Watch List

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

O'Connor is starting to run away with things at this point, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another against the stout Nashoba defense.

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

Yiadom is still the region's most feared receiver, but he took to the ground for a 35-yard touchdown run against North. Add in his game changing abilities at safety, and he may be the most complete athlete in the state.

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

The Navy lacrosse commit threw a pair of touchdowns, and ran for another pair (including a 70-yard sprint) to help St. John's knock off Wachusett. The most physically imposing QB in the region has not disappointed this year.

4. Dylan Kierman, Sr. QB, Quabbin

His team fell to St. Bernard's 62-47 in the highest scoring game in CMass history, but Kierman was once again special, throwing for four touchdowns and running for another three. The Panthers haven't been able to stop anybody lately, but don't let that diminish the season Kierman is having. He currently leads Smiley for the CMass passing crown by over 800 yards.

5. Mark Wright, Jr. RB, Auburn

Everybody is sleeping on Auburn, but what Wright is doing in his first year starting is nothing short of spectacular. He leads CMass in rushing yards by over 130 yards, and is tied for the lead in TDs with 12. All this, while averaging over 6.5 yards per carry for the Rockets.

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