Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Eastern Mass HS Football Power Rankings: Week 5

Marshfield's front seven had been dominant in the early goings of the season, but did it show some vulnerability against B-R?
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

It was an odd week for high school football in the eastern portion of the Commonwealth. Unlike in Central Mass, where regional powers were returning to their former glory, a pair of EMass mainstays took tough losses, and may need to go back to the drawing board offensively.

Meanwhile, a trio of Division 3 teams are impressing, as Milton continues its hot start and both Tewksbury and North Attleborough make their debuts in our Power Rankings after big wins.

Check out our complete Top-10 below.

Power Rankings

1. Marshfield: 4-0, Division 2

Last Week: Ranked No. 1, defeated Bridgewater-Raynham 40-28.

Marshfield has looked darn near perfect thus far this season, but Bridgewater-Raynham may have shown a chink in the Rams' armor, putting up over 400 yards of offense and possessing the ball for nearly 30 minutes. Still, Marshfield's talent and big-play ability on both sides of the ball won out, as a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns redeemed the Ram defense, and an offensive barrage made sure that even with B-R's sustained drives, the Trojans never really had a shot.

Still, the question remains, can you ground and pound the Rams? With as well as their front seven had been playing to start the year, that would have been a ridiculous question until Friday night, and the thought here is Marshfield rediscovers its defensive identity behind the play of do-it-all star Danny Dalton and linebacker Freddy Allen.

2. Xaverian: 4-0, Division 1

Last Week: Ranked No. 2, defeated Catholic Memorial 13-3.

It's hard to fathom a team in the Commonwealth playing better defense than Xaverian right now, as the Hawks continue to dominate with a speedy and experienced secondary, plus a physical front seven that has learned very well on the job this year.

Xaverian's defense bounced back from a 3-0 deficit on CM's first drive, plus three turnovers and a pair of missed field goals to gut out a win. The X's two quarterback system has worked thus far, but CM's physical defense gave the Hawks fits on Friday. Getting things right on offense will be the next step for a team looking to repeat as D1 state champs.

3. St. John's Prep: 4-0, Division 1

Last Week: Ranked no. 3, defeated Malden Catholic 14-0.

But if you want to talk about great defenses, you can't leave St. John's Prep out, as the Eagles pitched a shutout against MC to remain unbeaten. Despite only scoring 14 points, SJP still flexed its muscles offensively, as the offensive line paved the way for physical running back Dillon Preston to rush for over 260 yards, and receiver Hayden Rockett recorded another 100-yard receiving day.

Coach Brian St. Pierre was far from satisfied with his team's performance, however, citing costly penalties and a general lack of timing offensively as reasons for its "off-night." Still, if this was an off-night for the Eagles, that's a pretty good sign.

4. Holliston: 4-0, Division 4

Last Week: Ranked No. 4, defeated Westwood 19-12.

The Panthers continue to find ways to win, this time emerging victorious from a slugfest at rival Westwood to claim first place in the Tri-Valley League Large. While wet conditions and a few untimely turnovers held the Holliston offense in check early, the Panthers defense shined, stifling Westwood and forcing a pair of turnovers to help build a 19-6 lead going into the game's final five minutes.

Things are rarely perfect in rivalry games, but Holliston's knack for making big plays in big moments should serve it well again come playoff time.

5. Central Catholic: 3-1, Division 1

Last Week: Ranked No. 8, defeated No. 10 Everett 24-0.

The Raiders simply dominated Everett in the trenches defensively, keeping the Crimson Tide on its side of the 50 the entire first half, and harassing quarterback Jordan McAfee all night. Linebacker Nick Janco was particularly impressive, recovering a fumble and snatching an interception.

Offensively, Central Catholic enjoyed a breakout game from receiver Steven Jackson, who hauled in an early touchdown pass, then later ran in a 42-yard score on a play designed for him to pass out of a reverse. Instead, the speedster kept it himself and outran the entire Crimson Tide defense for a "nail in the coffin" type touchdown.

The road gets no easier however, as a huge test awaits CC next week in Division 3 power Tewksbury.

6. Milton: 4-0, Division 3

Last Week: Ranked No. 7, defeated Natick 14-7.

The Wildcats followed up their impressive demolition of Walpole with a close win against a Natick program they've historically struggled against. It was another breakthrough win for coach Steve Dembowski's squad, and they'll need another next week at Norwood.

7. Tewksbury: 4-0, Division 3

Last Week: Unranked, defeated No. 5 Andover 29-12.

The Redmen are starting to look like a true contender, if not favorite, in Division 3 after an impressive takedown of previously unbeaten Andover. A win over a Division 1 contender is impressive enough, but to dominate at the point of attack in a decisive victory shows just how good Tewksbury can be.

They'll need another big performance from running back Troy Carey next week when they face off with Central Catholic.

8. Andover: 3-1, Division 1

Last Week: Ranked No. 5, lost to Tewksbury 29-12.

The Warriors can score with anybody, but defensively showed some weakness against the run in that loss the Tewksbury. The Redmen's ball control limited Andover's offensive effectiveness, and that's certainly something it will look to get corrected in a trip to Lowell next Friday.

9. BC High: 3-1, Division 1

Last Week: Ranked No. 9, defeated No. 6 Brockton 7-0.

The Eagles were banged up on offense, so they turned to their defense in a physical battle against Brockton. Out-hitting the Boxers is no small feat, and it served as the perfect bounce back to giving up 38 in a loss to Andover last week.

10. North Attleborough: 4-0, Division 3

Last Week: Unranked, defeated Franklin 28-6.

The Red Rocketeers boast one of the state's best defenses, led by play-making linebacker Nick Rajotte, who returned both an interception and a fumble for scores in their win over Franklin. Rival Attleborough awaits next week, but it seems the Rocketeers are here to stay in D3.

Dropped Out: Brockton (Ranked No. 6 Last Week), Everett (Ranked No. 10 Last Week)

The Boxers only lost 7-0 to a very good BC High team, but it now looks like star running back Kerry Raymond will be out for the season with an ankle injury. Without Raymond in the backfield, the Boxers are a completely different team on offense, and will have to work to find something new to hang their hats on before playoff time.

Everett dropped to 1-3 with a shutout loss at home to Central Catholic. It was the first time the Crimson Tide had been held off the board at Everett Memorial Stadium in 22 years, and raises questions about the Tide's offensive identity.

In three games against Division 1 powers Xaverian, St. John's Prep and Central Catholic (all teams Everett will need to compete with for a state title), the Crimson Tide has scored a combined 20 points. Clearly there is talent there with quarterback Jordan McAfee and group of speedy skill position players, but so far the pieces aren't coming together for this perennial contender.

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