Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Eastern Mass HS Football Power Rankings: Week 1

Quarterback Oliver Eberth (10) and FB/LB Jack Lambert should help St. John's Prep again contend for a Division 1 state championship.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

The 2015 high school football season begins in Massachusetts this weekend, and dozens of teams around the Commonwealth are dreaming of making it to Gillette Stadium for the state championship games.

We kicked things off with our Central Mass Power Rankings yesterday, but now we turn our attention to the Eastern section of the state, where teams will compete across all six divisions for a shot at going to Foxboro.

Again, preseason rankings are usually worthless, but here is our best guess as to which teams rank among the best in Eastern Mass.

Power Rankings

1. Marshfield

Last Year: 12-1, Division 2 State Champion

The Rams captured the Division 2 state title in dominant fashion last year, and return a ton of talent, including Penn State-bound tight end Danny Dalton, Boston College-bound center Shane Leonard and star quarterback Jack Masterson.

Dalton may be the most lethal weapon in the state, and the Rams' defense should be among the state's best with a savvy and athletic linebacking corps. Anything less than a D2 state championship would be a huge disappointment, and Marshfield has a chance to make a big statement regionally when they hit the road to face New Jersey's Ridgewood this Friday.

2. Everett

Last Year: 9-2, Division 1 State Runner-Up

When the D1 field is as wide open as it is this year, many will point to the always great Crimson Tide as a title favorite. But this year's Everett squad will ride more than reputation, it will be propelled by the arm of junior quarterback Jordan McAfee.

With the help of John Sarianides, I broke down what makes McAfee so special on ESPN Boston, and the thought is there is enough speed in the pipeline at receiver and tailback to make McAfee even more dangerous. Experience, particularly at the skill positions, is an issue, but this is Everett. Those kids always seem to grow up quickly.

3. St. John's Prep

Last Year: 8-3, Division 1 North Runner-Up

St. John's Prep just might bring back the most balanced attack in the state, and a great defense to match. Led by quarterback Oliver Eberth and linebacker/fullback Jack Lambert (with a name like that, you know he's tough), second-year coach Brian St. Pierre certainly has the talent and experience to improve upon last year's D1 Final Four run.

4. Xaverian

Last Year: 12-0, Division 1 State Champion

Many are talking about what the Hawks lost from last year's state championship team, and that certainly makes sense. After all, replacing two-way All-American lineman Joe Gaziano, All-State two-way player Kenny Kern, All-State lineman Joe Parsons and a host of others is never easy, but Xaverian will again have the talent to contend in the state's toughest division.

With explosive receiver Coby Tippett back making plays on the outside, and a potentially dominant line featuring Nick Allsop and Elijah Pierre, both committed to play at Brown next year, the Hawks will still be able to move the ball.

Questions abound in the offensive backfield and at linebacker, but coach Charlie Stevenson feels good about his underclassmen that are coming up.

5. Brockton

Last Year: 7-4, Division 1 South Quarterfinalist

The Boxers were shut out by BC High in the first round of last year's playoffs, and lose current Boston College lineman Aaron Monteiro and starting quarterback Aaron Williams. So, why do I have the Boxers ahead of BC?

Simple, Kerry Raymond.

The bruising tailback has the potential to be the state's best offensive player, and has the ability to put Brockton on his back, with the help of a typically physical Boxer line, of course. Brockton should be strong in the trenches on both sides, and if you're going to grind it out, Raymond seems like the best guy in the Commonwealth to do it with.

In the Hunt:
BC High, Central Catholic, Duxbury, Walpole, Millis/Hopedale

BC enters 2015 with some palpable momentum, and should continue its upward trajectory thanks to Brown-bound guard Phil Lynch (does Brown recruit linemen outside the Catholic Conference?) and star wideout Nick Gill. Central Catholic, meanwhile, will look to get back on track after a promising season came to an abrupt end against St. John's Prep.

Duxbury comes in with state title hopes after moving down to Division 3, and their prolific passing attack, led by Bobby Maimaron, could be unstoppable at that level. Walpole came up just shy of Gillette last year, falling to Dartmouth 20-16 in the state semifinal. The Rebels return plenty of speed and experience at the skill positions, but will need to break in some new faces on both lines.

Millis/Hopedale comes into 2015 as the favorite in Division 6 after falling to Cohasset the last two years in the D6 South final. The Mohawks return Villanova-bound guard Peter Fallon and All-State running back Josh Pierre-Charles. Forget about taking it one week at a time, M-H is flat-out saying it's their time to capture a state final.

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