Thursday, September 25, 2014

Central Mass HS Football Preview: Week 4

Auburn quarterback Steve Saucier may have to make some big throws for the Rockets to get past Northbridge Friday night.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

We've already looked back on Week 3 of the CMass high school football season in my latest Power Rankings, so let's move onward with everything you need to know about this weekend's slate of games.
Game of the Week

Northbridge at Auburn, Friday at 7 pm

This Division 5 showdown pits reigning D5 Central Champion, and state runner-up, Northbridge against perennial power Auburn. Many across the state have declared the Rockets and star running back Mark Wright the favorite to win the entire state in Division 5, but Northbridge has looked, perhaps, even more impressive than Auburn so far.

Two players will draw headlines in this one, and with good reason. Auburn running back Mark Wright leads the state with 962 yards rushing, good for an average of 321 a game and over 13 yards per carry, while Northbridge quarterback Koby Schofer has rushed and passed for a combined 753 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The game may simply come down to which defense can get a stop, or at least force the opposing offense to ask someone else make a play.

Sneaky Good Game of the Week

Shepherd Hill at Leominster, Friday at 7 pm

Hard to call this game sneaky when the current top team in the region is taking on a traditional power, but Leominster comes in 0-2, forcing the contest to lose a little luster. Still, expect a classic with the Blue Devils backed into a corner and in desperate need of a win, plus the Rams looking to prove they are indeed the best team in Central Mass and a player statewide.

There should be some good popping in both trenches, and Shepherd Hill quarterback Drew Jean-Guillaume will hope his highly-touted line, led by BC commit Chris Lindstrom, can open up holes against the toughest run defense they've seen yet.

On the other side, Leominster will look for sophomore quarterback Noah Gray to have a break out game against a physical Ram front and deceptively speedy secondary. SH wants to be considered a favorite statewide in D4 and the best team in CMass. Here's their chance to prove both of those things.

Other Games to Watch


Wachusett at Nashoba, 7 pm
Bartlett at Leicester, 7 pm
Tyngsborough at Grafton, 7 pm
Tantasqua at Doherty, 8 pm

Wachusett sits just outside our Top-5, behind Shrewsbury, and the Mountaineers face a tough road test against solid Nashoba. The Chieftains are looking for a bounce-back win after a close loss to Shrewsbury last week, and the winner here will remain in the running in Mid-Wach A, with Wachusett being in excellent shape if it can pick up the win.

Expect some pads thumping when the physical lines of Bartlett and Leicester get together in this potential Division 5 playoff preview. Leicester needs a win badly, while Bartlett is trying to prove it's for real and a threat beyond SWCL C.

Tyngsborough hits the road and puts its undefeated record on the line against a dangerous Grafton team looking to prove itself after a let down against St. Peter-Marian last week. Finally, Tantasqua's explosive passing game, led by the region's leading passer Zach Edwards, will battle Doherty's speedy secondary, and try to contain do-it-all running back Jahkari Carpenter on the other side.


St. Peter-Marian at Shrewsbury, 7 pm

SPM scored a much-needed win over Grafton last week, and if the Guardians want to be taken seriously throughout the region, a solid performance against Shrewsbury will go a long way. The Colonials have the size and experience advantage up front, but look for SPM quarterback Seamus Leary to be the great equalizer with his arm and his legs.

Shrewsbury is the favorite, but the Guardians have the look of a team that will get exponentially better each week, so don't count them out.

Player to Watch

Steve Saucier, So. QB, Auburn

Auburn's basic strategy this season has been "unleash Mark Wright," but the Rockets will be faced with the stingiest run defense they've seen yet against Northbridge.

While Wright will surely be the most important player on the field for Auburn, lefty sophomore quarterback Steve Saucier could be the X-factor. If he's able to get out of the pocket and hit some early throws it will force Northbridge to respect the back-side bootleg, and pay more attention downfield.

If Auburn is able to throw the ball, it could be a long day for the Rams defense.

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