Friday, October 17, 2014

Central Mass HS Football Preview: Week 7

Doherty has dominated Inter-High in recent years, but will face a talented and motivated North squad Friday night.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

We've already looked back on Week 6 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

Worcester North vs Doherty at Foley Stadium, Friday at 5 pm

There is a great piece from the Telegram & Gazette explaining the history of Worcester's Inter-High athletic league, and how long it's been since someone OTHER than Doherty has won a league football game. Basically, none of the kids from North were born the last time Doherty lost an Inter-High football game in 1994, but the Polar Bears have their eyes on a win Friday night and, potentially, a league crown.

If they are to do it, much will fall on the shoulders of North running back Tony Sanchez, who is currently averaging  over 6.5 yards per carry. Whether or not he'll be able to find running room against the Highlander defense remains to be seen, and the Polar Bears will have to deal with Doherty's star back Jahkari Carpenter on the other side.

There will be plenty of play makers on both sides of the ball for both teams, but North has as good a shot as they've had in the last few years to knock off the Inter-High bullies.

Sneaky Good Game of the Week

Littleton at Maynard, Friday at 7 pm

A battle of unbeatens will present Littleton with its toughest test of the season, but the reigning Division 6 state champions appear up to the challenge. With as good a backfield as any in the region, led by quarterback Connor Bassett and running back Elijah Pyram, the Tigers have defeated opponents by an average margin of 33.6 points per game this year.

Maynard, on the other hand, is coming off a nail-biting 36-34 win over Lunenburg, and the "other" Tigers have come a long way since finishing 5-6 in 2012. After a 7-4 finish last year, Maynard now sits at 5-0 and hopes to finish with a Top-3 seed in Division 6 Central. With some positive mojo, the outstanding play of breakout junior running back Stephen Peterson and the relentless pass rush ability of Alex Martinec, Maynard will look to make this year's game a lot more competitive than last season's 30-point Littleton victory.

Other Games to Watch


Holy Name at Auburn, 7 pm
No. 1 Northbridge at Grafton, 7 pm
Marlborough at North Middlesex, 7 pm
No. 3 Leominster at Nashoba, 7 pm

Holy Name faces a pair of stiff tests to end the year, as historic running back Mark Wright and Auburn await them Friday, then the brutal Shepherd Hill Double Wing welcomes them to town the following week.

After opening the year 2-1, the Naps need a win in the biggest way to end the regular season with some positive vibes.

Northbridge and star quarterback Koby Schofer appear to be rolling, but Grafton has enough speed, particularly on defense, to present some problems. Both Marlborough and surprising North Middlesex sit at 3-2, and hope to make a run at the D2 Central playoffs, but only one of these two underdog stories can take home the win Friday.

Leominster has been rolling after a slow start, but Nashoba bounced out of its funk last week with a win against previously surging Marlborough. The Chieftains' combination of power, speed and skill in the backfield will be a great test for a suddenly stingy Blue Devil defense.


No. 4 Shepherd Hill at St. Peter-Marian, 12 pm
Wachusett at No. 2 St. John's (Shrewsbury), 1 pm

When both St. John's and Shepherd Hill are playing well, it seems like no team can stay within several scores of them. Meanwhile, Wachusett has underperformed in a few regionally relevant games the last couple weeks and SPM's young group seems to have grown up a ton.

With the way St. John's is running the ball with Shane Combs and defending, it's hard to see physical Wachusett playing with them, but the Mountaineers are tough, and could make things interesting if their running game is able to get going. Physically, SH is far more imposing than SPM, but the Guardians have a ton of speed, and a bunch of kids that don't know they should fear the Rams' brutally efficient running game.

There are two clearly defined favorites in these games, but don't be surprised if one or both of them bring drama.

Player to Watch

Tavian Vassar, Jr. RB/DT, Doherty

Ed. Note: I listed Tavian as my player to watch this week, but was unaware he recently suffered a season-ending knee injury. I regret this error and wish Tavian a speedy recovery. Hopefully I will get to cover his comeback season next fall.

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