Friday, October 3, 2014

Central Mass HS Football Preview: Week 5

St. Peter-Marian quarterback Seamus Leary will look to lead the Guardians past rival Holy Name Saturday.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

We've already looked back on Week 4 of Central Mass high school football in my latest Power Rankings, so let's move right onto previewing this weekend's games.

Game of the Week

Leominster at Wachusett, Friday at 7 pm

The Blue Devils got back on track last week with a huge home win over Shepherd Hill, but must beware of a let down against dangerous Wachusett. The Warriors sit just outside our Power Rankings, checking in as my No. 6 team in the region, and a win here would surely shoot them up the ranks.

The Warriors' balanced offense, led by quarterback Mitchell Driscoll and running back Connor Gill, will present Leominster's stingy defense with some challenges, but I'll be interested to see how Leominster's truly "multiple" offense deals with the solid Wachusett D.

Last week against SH, Leominster busted out a "Wildcat" package with shifty running back Eddie Rivera taking snaps. It worked to the tune of 148 yards and three touchdowns for Rivera, on only 12 carries. Now that the Wildcat is out of the bag, will Leominster be able to generate big plays against one of the better defenses in CMass?

Both teams have relied on their defenses and timely big plays to come up with wins thus far, so it could come down to a play maker getting it done in a big moment. If that's the case, advantage Leominster, but the Warriors have played well enough that you can call this one a toss up.

Sneaky Good Game of the Week

Holy Name at St. Peter-Marian, Saturday at 1 pm

Here are two teams heading into a rivalry game both in desperate need of a win. SPM has to be smarting from the 33-7 beating it endured at the hands of Shrewsbury last week, but quarterback Seamus Leary and the young Guardians should be ready to bounce back against HN.

The Naps, meanwhile, have run things up on Quabbin and Worcester South, but fell just short of a statement win over Doherty two weeks back. The Holy Name defense, led by tackling and pass rushing machine Fodee Kromah, has held opponents to just over 13 points per game, and have suffocating potential if their opponent is one dimensional.

Look for the Naps to feed running back Max Cerasoli and hope their defense can salt things away, but don't sleep on a Guardian offense that features big-play receiver Pat Leary.

Other Games to Watch


North Middlesex at Groton-Dunstable, 7 pm
Northbridge at Lunenburg, 7 pm

North Middlesex has been the surprise of the young season in Division 2, but G-D is also 2-1 and sits just behind Doherty in the Division 4 power ratings. This game has huge playoff implications for both teams, something I don't think anybody thought was possible before the Patriots upset Doherty in week one.

Northbridge is coming off a statement blowout win over rival Auburn, but the Rams have little time to rest with a trip to Lunenburg. Quarterback Jeremy Nash and the Blue Knights are coming off a huge win over West Boylston, and know what this game means for playoff positing in Division 5.

This one has "playoff preview" written all over it.


Nashoba at St. John's (Shrewsbury), 1 pm
David Prouty at Uxbridge, 2:30 pm
Burncoat vs Worcester North at Foley Stadium, 3 pm

The Chieftains have dropped back-to-back one score games against Shrewsbury and Wachusett, two of the best teams in Division 2, but don't count them out against St. John's. The Pioneers wore down Fitchburg last week, but Nashoba will present more offensive firepower for them to deal with. SJS comes in as a big favorite, but this one could be closer than many think.

Prouty and Uxbridge is another potential playoff preview in D5, and both teams are coming off narrow wins. David Prouty may not be quite as strong up front, but the Panthers have one of the most explosive players in the region in Tyler Golden. The kid is just a threat to score every time he touches the ball, whether it be a hand off, catch or kick return, but Uxbridge's strength in both trenches could present problems for the Panthers up front.

Finally, the Inter-High battle at Foley means a bit more to North, who has serious playoff aspirations, but a win here for either team would keep them alive in the race for the league title. Look for a heavy dosage of Polar Bear running back Tony Sanchez as North looks to stay alive in the D4 playoff hunt.

Player to Watch

Seamus Leary, Jr. QB, St. Peter-Maria

St. Peter-Marian is less experienced and probably a little smaller than Holy Name across the board, but when Leary is on, he can make up for that.

A fleet-footed runner with a strong arm and a knack for big plays, this junior signal-caller has struggled to find consistency this season, but look for the Guardians to unleash him as a passer, and runner, in a must-win game against the rival Naps.

If Leary can find his rhythm, SPM could jump right back into the Division 4 playoff hunt.

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