Monday, October 5, 2015

Central Mass HS Football Power Rankings: Week 5

Senior quarterback Robby Atwood and the Nashoba Chieftains have re-asserted themselves as one of Central MA's top teams.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Another week, and another slate of fantastic games in Central Massachusetts. While some teams were winning overtime games against out-of-state foes, others were flexing their muscles against teams within their own leagues and divisions.

Check out our complete Power Rankings below.

Power Rankings

1. Leominster: 4-0, Division 2

Last Week: Ranked No. 1, defeated No. 8 Wachusett 7-6.

The Blue Devils stay atop out rankings another week with a narrow win over physical Wachusett, aided by Kyle Jackson's block of a Mountaineer extra point.

There may be some cause for concern, as Leominster was held to just a single score while playing without star receiver Derek Franks, but much of that can be chalked up to going against a very good Wachusett defense and ball-control Mountaineer offense. On the bright side, the Blue Devil defense played out of its mind, and Leominster seems like a team that just knows how to win.

2. Northbridge: 4-0, Division 5

Last Week: Ranked No. 2, defeated Grafton 40-0.

Northbridge has now outscored its opponents 182-0 this year. Not much else to add, as the Rams are looking unstoppable in their quest to get back to Gillette Stadium.

3. St. John's (Shrewsbury): 3-1, Division 2

Last Week: Ranked No. 3, defeated Xavier (CT) 34-28 (OT).

Senior quarterback Tim Cassidy was fantastic against one of Connecticut's better teams, throwing for three scores and rushing for another pair, including the game-winner in overtime.

Next up for the Pioneers is a tricky cross-town rivalry game at streaky Shrewsbury.

4. Nashoba: 4-0, Division 2

Last Week: Ranked No. 4, defeated Shepherd Hill 27-10.

I think we can officially say the Chieftains are back. After a pair of good, not great seasons, Nashoba football seems poised to again contend for a Super Bowl berth in Division 2.

The Chieftains have long been known for their great defense and punishing ground game, but they've gotten a boost from senior quarterback Robby Atwood, who's 40-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter gave Nashoba a two-score lead it never relinquished.

Things get no easier from here on out as Nashoba hosts Marlboro next week, then takes a trip to top-ranked Leominster.

5. Doherty: 4-0, Division 4

Last Week: Ranked No. 6, defeated No. 7 St. Peter-Marian 14-0.

In a battle for Worcester bragging rights, the Highlanders got the best of the short-handed Guardians. Senior Aaron Adu continues to impress  in all phases, and classmate Ricky Webster has become one of Central MA's biggest play makers on defense and special teams.

Doherty will look to continue its long-running success in Inter-High play next week against Worcester North.

6. Littleton: 4-0, Division 6

Last Week: Ranked No. 5, defeated Quabbin 40-0.

As great as Northbridge has been, Littleton has been every bit as impressive, and makes it hard for you to declare one team the best "small school" squad in the region.

This past week, the Tigers shut down the region's second-leading passer, Quabbin's Jordan Kierman, while the offense helped put things out of reach by the end of the first quarter.

7. Tantasqua: 4-0, Division 4

Last Week: Ranked No. 9, defeated Auburn 25-14.

The Warriors put on an offensive show behind quarterback Jordan Choquette's four touchdown passes and 270+ yards. Star receiver J.J. Howland opened the scoring with a pair of touchdown catches, and Tom Molnar caught another pair in the third quarter to close the deal against Auburn.

Tantasqua has emerged as an intriguing contender in D4, and a trip to St. Peter-Marian will tell us a lot more about how the Warriors stack up.

8. Wachusett: 2-2, Division 2

Last Week: Ranked No. 8, lost to No. 1 Leominster 7-6.

Only a blocked extra point separated Wachusett from the region's top team, so it's hard to drop the Mountaineers very far (or at all). With a bruising defense, and the ability to methodically move the ball down the field, Wachusett isn't going anywhere in Division 2.

A trip to desperate, but equally physical Shepherd Hill is up next.

9. Leicester: 4-0, Division 5

Last Week: Ranked No. 10, defeated Burncoat 22-0.

The Wolverine defense played well all night, and a stellar second half from quarterback Nick Mackie (2 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD) was enough to get past the overmatched Patriots.

While it hasn't exactly played a brutal schedule, Leicester continues to get the job done, and will continue its quest for a high seed in the D5 Central tournament next week against 3-1 Millbury.

10. Marlboro: 3-1, Division 2

Last Week: Unranked, defeated Westboro 41-0.

The Panthers have bounced back nicely from a season-opening defeat at the hands of Milford by getting back to running the ball and playing aggressive defense.

With running back Owen Cappadona running behind one of the region's best, and biggest, offensive lines, it would be foolish for anyone to look past the Panthers. Next week's trip to Nashoba should be a hard-hitting affair.

Dropped Out: St. Peter-Marian (Ranked No. 7 Last Week)

Hard to punish the Guardians, who battled Doherty without the services of senior quarterback Seamus Leary and running back Anthony Baldino, but somebody had to take the fall out of our rankings. Despite back-to-back losses, SPM is still a legit contender in Division 4, and a big divisional home game against Tantasqua could get it back in the rankings sooner rather than later.

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