Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Central Mass HS Football Power Rankings: The End of the Regular Season

St. John's has been chasing Wachusett in both the playoff race and our Power Rankings. Have the Pioneers finally caught up? Photo courtesy of Ryan Bowman.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

The playoffs begin this week, and with them come our final edition of the Central Mass HS Football Power Rankings, at least until after the state championship games on December 3rd.

Also, be on the lookout for our complete Central Mass playoff preview a little later this week.

Now, without further ado, here are our Top 10 teams in Central Massachusetts at the end of the regular season.

1. St. John's (Shrewsbury): 6-2, Division 2.

Last Week: Ranked No. 2, defeated No. 4 Algonquin 41-14.

The Pioneers jump back into our top spot after cooling off red-hot Algonquin. The thought here is that the Pioneers are the only team in the region that has shown the ability to win games running the ball, throwing the ball, and by completely shutting down opponents. Saturday brings a home playoff game against rival Shrewsbury, a team that gave the Pioneers fits the first time around, so remember that anything can happen, especially in a crazy D2 Central.

2. Grafton: 8-0, 5-0 SWCL A. Division 3.

Last Week: Ranked No. 3, defeated No. 5 Auburn 34-0.

The Indians' defense may be the most underrated unit in the region, and they dominated a pretty good Auburn offense Friday. Offensively, we know Ifeatu Melifonwu is one of the most dangerous players in the state with the ball in his hands, and Grafton has as good a shot as anybody in CMass of making it to Gillette Stadium.

3. Wachusett: 7-1, 2-1 Mid-Wach A. Division 2.

Last Week, Ranked No. 1, defeated Groton-Dunstable 37-13.

Wait, the Mountaineers won by 24 and dropped TWO SPOTS in our rankings? Yep, but that mostly has to do with how dominant St. John's and Grafton looked against superior competition (yes guys, I remember Wachusett beat St. John's, hence the picture at the top).

Don't take it too hard Wachusett fans, your team will get the chance to prove it on the field (again) Friday night when it hosts Algonquin. A win there would send the Mountaineers to the D2 Central final, and a date with either St. John's, or Shrewbury.

4. Marlboro: 6-2, 4-0 Mid-Wach B. Division 2A.

Last Week: Ranked No. 6, defeated Doherty 43-8.

As punishing and physically imposing a team as you'll find in Central Massachusetts, Marlboro is just running roughshod over people lately. The Panthers enter the Division 2A Central playoffs as the top seed, and will host Tantasqua Friday night.

5. Algonquin: 5-3, 2-2 Mid-Wach A. Division 2.

Last Week: Ranked No. 4, lost to No. 2 St. John's 41-14.

The T-Hawks ran into a buzz saw against St. John's, but still enter the playoffs with some momentum, and a ton of pride. Algonquin will travel to Wachusett Friday night, and will be considered the underdog by almost everybody, despite the fact that the Tomahawks are the only team to beat the Mountaineers this season.

6. Maynard: 8-0, 7-0 Mid-Wach D. Division 4A.

Last Week: Ranked No. 7, defeated Ayer Shirley 42-20.

All the Tigers do is win and, despite only dressing 20-some odd players, Maynard is as balanced as they come, on both sides of the ball. The Tigers will face a unique test this Friday night, as Assabet comes to town for a D4A semifinal.

7. Auburn: 7-1, 4-1 SWCL A. Division 3.

Last Week: Ranked No. 5, lost to No. 3 Grafton 34-0.

The Rockets were Grafton's latest victims, but fell to the Indians largely without the services of star quarterback Steve Saucier. If Saucier is good to go for the playoffs, expect the Rockets to be a completely different team offensively when they host St. Peter-Marian in a must-see D3 Central semifinal.

8. Nashoba: 5-3, 3-1 Mid-Wach B. Division 2A.

Last Week: Ranked No. 8, defeated Westboro 55-6.

The Chieftains made short work of Westboro to hold onto the No. 2 seed in Division 2A Central, and will not host an explosive, but young Doherty team Friday night.

9. Shrewsbury: 5-3, 2-1 Mid-Wach A. Division 2.

Last Week: Ranked No. 10, defeated No. 9 Leominster 14-6.

The Colonials defeated Leominster in a de facto playoff game Friday night to lock down the final postseason slot in D2 Central. Things will get no easier for Shrewsbury, however, as it travels to crosstown rival St. John's Saturday for its playoff opener.

10. West Boylston: 6-2, 6-1 Mid-Wach D. Division 4.

Last Week: Unranked, defeated Littleton 38-26.

The Lions sneak into our Top 10 in time for the playoffs, thanks to six touchdowns by senior Cole McCubrey in a victory over fellow small-school power Littleton. West Boylston will now open up the Division 4 Central playoffs as the top seed, and host Bartlett Friday night.

Dropped Out: Leominster (4-4. Ranked No. 9 LW)

In the Hunt: St. Peter-Marian (6-2), St. Bernard's (7-1), Quabbin (6-2), Littleton (6-2), Blackstone Valley Tech (7-1), Nipmuc (5-3), Doherty (4-4), Assabet (7-1), Uxbridge (5-3), Sutton (5-3)

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