Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Five-Pack: 5 HS Football Games to Watch in MA

Holliston quarterback Jack Barrett has the Panthers poised for another state title run.
By John Sarianides (@xnojoe)

Ed. Note- SuiteSports is thrilled to welcome John Sarianides to the team. John also contributes to ESPN Boston and Boston Herald Radio, and has an extensive teaching and coaching record in Massachusetts. Each Friday, John will give us his games to watch, then each Monday he'll give us his biggest takeaways from the week that was.

Welcome aboard
, John!

Billerica at Andover

This will be a great game coached by two of the best spread coaches in the state. Both teams run the spread offense, but the two offenses are philosophically different. Billerica runs a physical version of the spread. Indians coach Duane Sigsbury loves to pound the ball and control the clock.

Conversely, Andover likes to play fast and throw it all over the yard with quarterback E.J. Perry and wide receiver Dan Gemmell.

As we saw last week against BC High, however, playing fast can be a problem if you're not converting third downs and scoring points. Andover had issues with BC High's physicality last week, and I think they'll have a tough time with Billerica up front. If the Warriors don't score first and get Billerica out of their comfort zone, they could be in for a long night.

Holliston at Lincoln Sudbury

Holliston was impressive last week in their 28-6 win over Millis/Hopedale. Quarterback Jack Barrett was once again the catalyst of the Panthers spread offense, both as a passer and a runner. He factored into all four touchdowns. Barrett has the potential to be the best quarterback Todd Kiley has had in his tenure at Holliston.

As for Lincoln-Sudbury, If they want to pull off the upset, they'll need to keep Barrett and company on the sideline by running the football. L-S coach Tom Lopez runs the Wing-T for a reason. He likes to run the ball and play good defense. The Warriors will have to excel in both areas if they want to beat the high flying Panthers.

Xaverian at Bridgewater-Raynham
Xaverian survived a scare last week against Everett, winning 17-14. The Hawks will look to get back on track offensively this week against a B-R defense that struggled against Duxbury last week in a 35-14 loss.

If Xaverian can get its passing game going to complement the running game, it should be in good shape in this game. For B-R, Coach Dan Buron returns after a one-game suspension. The Trojans usually want to ground and pound, but they might be better off spreading Xaverian out and trying to see if they can run the ball inside. That way they can get the ball out to the perimeter. Either way you slice it, beating Xaverian will be a tall order for the Trojans.

Central Catholic at St. John's Prep

The Prep survived a scare last week against Haverhill, but I don't see them repeating last week's performance this week. Sure, the Prep is young, but coach Brian St. Pierre has talent, and the skill is in place to make St. Pierre's multiple pro-style offense work.

The game plan for the Prep this week has to be to pound the ball and take shots down field off play action to wide receiver Owen Rockett and tight end and Declan Burt. St. John's has to win the time possession in this game, and keep Bret Edwards and the high flying Central Catholic offense on the sideline. The last thing St. John's Prep wants to do is get in a shootout.

There is a lot at stake for both schools in this game. The winner doesn't just win on the field. They win off the field as well when it comes to marketing their respective schools and attracting student athletes.

Leominster at Oakmont

Dave Palazzi's Blue Devils are back on the road this weekend as they battle Oakmont Regional. Leominster beat Doherty last week 28-20. For the Blue Devils it's all about Duke commit quarterback Noah Gray. Gray proved last week that he is the premier dual threat in the state, and that he can impact a game in a variety of ways. Oakmont will have its hands full trying to stop Gray and the Blue Devils' multiple offense.

The Spartans have a potent offense themselves. Head coach Charlie Raff installed the spread offense last season, and the Spartans experienced a revival of sorts. They beat Lunenburg 42-18 last week. Raff scheduled up this season, and that's why the former Leominster assistant reached out to his former boss Palazzi to schedule this game. I think this game has the potential to be a shootout, but it's hard picking against the Blue Devils. Offensively, they are tough to stop. Oakmont will have to play a complete game in all three phases to win this one.

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