Friday, October 24, 2014

Central Mass HS Football Preview: Week 8

Star middle linebacker Sam Norton and the St. John's defense will look to bounce back this week against a physical Marlborough running game.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

As we enter the final week of the regular season, much is still to be decided. Many teams are fighting for playoff positioning, but several squads need a win to get into the postseason at all.

Here's everything to watch for in your last regular weekend of CMass football for 2014.

Game of the Week

Nashoba at Fitchburg, Friday at 7 pm

We have an unofficial playoff game on our hands in Fitchburg.

The Top-8 teams (according to CMass' "Power Points" system) make the postseason in each division, and wouldn't you know it, Fitchburg currently sits in 8th place, a half-point ahead of Nashoba.

These are two of the better programs in the region, but each has struggled with consistency this season. Fitchburg is on a roll, however, knocking off surprising North Middlesex and Groton-Dunstable the last two weeks behind the play of quarterback Darius Flowers and breakout sophomore running back Alex Marrero.

Nashoba scored a huge win over Marlborough two weeks ago and gave Leominster everything it could handle last Friday. Quarterback Drew Schartner has combined with fullback Kraig Arsenault to give the Chieftians a "thunder and lighting" backfield combination, but will they find room to work against a physical Fitchburg defense?

This one could come down to a pair of physical offensive lines. Whichever one creates more space for its team's skill players will likely be the one playing meaningful games beyond Friday.

Sneaky Good Game of the Week

Tyngsborough at Northbridge, Friday at 7 pm

It's not an elimination game, but this battle of unbeatens, where the winner can seize the top seed in Division 5 Central, is a pretty big game too. Northbridge comes in as a heavy favorite, behind the stellar play of quarterback Koby Schofer (Who is criminally underrated statewide. Seriously, it's getting a little silly) and running back Jake Wood.

Even the defense has put things together in Northbridge, blanking Grafton a week ago, but Tyngsborough's defense leads the region with only 7.5 points allowed per game. If the Tigers can force Schofer to throw (he's lethal with his feet), pick artist Jake Keenan could become a factor in the Tyngsborough secondary.

If nothing else, this is a matchup of the region's most prolific offense (Northbridge averages a CMass best 40.5 points per game) against its stingiest defense. Something has to give.

Other Games to Watch


Leominster at Shrewsbury, 7 pm
St. Peter-Marian at Doherty, 7 pm
Lunenburg at Littleton, 7 pm
Uxbridge at Bartlett, 7 pm
St. John's (Shrewsbury) at Marlborough, 7 pm
Holy Name at Shepherd Hill, 7:30 pm at Nichols College

We've got potential playoff previews on the docket when the Blue Devils travel to Shrewsbury and when St. Peter-Marian heads to Worcester for a date with the Highlanders. Littleton was pushed to the max against Maynard last week, and they'll look for a 20th consecutive win against equally impressive Lunenburg.

Uxbridge and Bartlett battle for a Top-3 seed in Division 5 Central, while St. John's hopes to bounce back against a desperate and physical Marlborough squad. The Pioneers just weren't the same on defense last week against Wachusett without star safety Davon Jones, and it appears they'll have to go another week without the BC commitment's services. Jones has been suspended for a violation of team rules, but is expected back for the playoffs.

Finally, Holy Name looks to keep its momentum after upsetting Auburn last week, hoping to pull another upset against D4 Central favorite Shepherd Hill at Nichols College.


Assabet at Worcester Tech, Noon

Tech has all but locked up a postseason berth, and the Eagles could knock Assabet out of the playoffs with a win at Foley Stadium Saturday. Look for a hard-hitting affair, and you know a proud group like the Aztecs isn't going down without a fight.

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