Monday, December 8, 2014

Central Mass HS Football Power Rankings: End of the Line

Darius Flowers and Fitchburg shocked Central Mass with a run to the D2 Central title and state semifinals.
 By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

New stars emerged and records fell during an eventful 2014 for Central Massachusetts high school football. While no CMass team was able to come away with a state championship Saturday, a pair of squads made return trips to Gillette Stadium, and the region as a whole saw tremendous competition and growth.

I'll have my CMass All Star team out later this week, but here are my postseason Top-10 teams.

1. Northbridge: 12-1, 1-0 SWCL B

Accolades: Division 5 Central Champs, Division 5 State Finalist, SWCL B Champs

While their season did end with another disappointing trip to Gillette, the Rams were still the class of CMass, dominating regional play and capturing the state's all-time wins record for longtime head coach Ken LaChapelle. Expect Division 5 to again run through Northbridge next season, as the Rams lose just six seniors from a junior-heavy team.

2. Fitchburg: 6-6, 1-3 Mid-Wach A

Accolades: Division 2 Central Champs, Division 2 State Semifinalist

The Red Raiders weren't on anybody's radar before the playoffs began, but a memorable postseason run that saw Fitchburg upset St. John's and rival Leominster shoots them all the way to No. 2. With a tremendously talented defense and bruising running game, the only thing that amazes me is that Fitchburg lost so many games early in the season.

3. Leominster: 8-3, 4-0 Mid-Wach A

Accolades: Division 2 Central Finalist, Mid-Wach A Champs

The Blue Devils' loss to Fitchburg in the D2 Central final is one folks around Leominster won't soon forget, but the team did get some measure of revenge against the Red Raiders on Thanksgiving. Despite a bitter end, Leominster can take solace in the fact that this team's best days are probably ahead of it, with sophomore Noah Gray coming back for two more years under center.

4. Shepherd Hill: 10-2, 2-0 SWCL A

Accolades: Division 4 Central Champs, Division 4 State Semifinalist, SWCL A Champs

The Rams came up short against high-powered Wahconah, but the powerful Shepherd Hill ground game and defense were still among the region's best. With a dominant regular season that only saw them lose to Leominster, the Rams certainly deserve a spot in the Top-5.

5. Littleton: 11-2, 5-1 Mid-Wach D

Accolades: Division 6 Central Champs, Division 6 State Finalist, Mid-Wach D Champs

The Tigers couldn't complete the repeat as state champs in Division 6, but they further entrenched themselves as one of the very best small school teams in the state. Sophomore quarterback Connor Bassett is a great piece to build this offense around for the future, and Littleton's creative coaching staff seems to always push the right buttons offensively.

6. St. John's (Shrewsbury): 8-3

Accolades: Division 2 Central Quarterfinalist

The Pioneers' season ended far sooner than anybody anticipated, but the way St. John's responded was impressive. After a surprising loss to Fitchburg in the first round of the playoffs, the Pioneers went on to defeat their next three opponents by a combined 67 points, including a 39-8 route of rival St. Peter-Marian on Thanksgiving. With junior quarterback Tim Cassidy and beastly guard Sean Ragan returning next year, St. John's should again contend, despite the loss of star WR/S Davon Jones and RB Shane Combs.

7. Uxbridge: 8-3, 5-1 SWCL C

Accolades: Division 5 Central Finalist

Uxbridge seemed to hang around all year long, but a 17-point loss to Bartlett just before the playoffs began placed doubts in the minds of many. Forget that. The Spartans rode the arm of quarterback Jake Taparausky to a 31-7 route of Bartlett in a playoff rematch, and gave Northbridge everything it could handle on Thanksgiving.

8. St. Peter-Marian: 6-5

Accolades: Division 4 Central Finalist

The Guardians entered 2014 young and unproven, and leave it with established leaders and budding stars. A playoff win against Doherty avenged a defeat from 2013, and put the region on notice for next year. With Shepherd Hill losing a ton of talent and senior leadership, D4 could go through SPM in 2015.

9. Blackstone Valley Tech: 10-2, 6-0 Colonial

Accolades: Division 6 Central Finalist, Colonial Champs, State Voke Runner-Up

The Beavers again couldn't get past Littleton, but once again dominated the Colonial league and ranked among the best Vocational School teams in the Commonwealth. Running back Ben Reiffarth had a monster season, allowing the Beavers to score of 30 points per game.

10. Doherty: 6-5, 3-0 Inter-High

Accolades: Division 4 Central Semifinalist, Inter-High Champs

The Highlanders were bounced from the playoffs by SPM and didn't recover emotionally for the next week's game against Grafton, but this team still rallied to capture the Inter-High title, and again factored heavily into the race in Division 4 Central. Despite injuries and unfairly high expectations, the Highlanders were still a team nobody wanted to face.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Grafton crushed Doherty