|Can Shrewsbury continue its magical run? The Colonials are just one win away from Gillette Stadium...|
Ed. Note- Our Massachusetts football guru John Sarianides is back to preview each of this weekend's state semifinal matchups… Well, except for two of the Central/West ones. Those he left for editor Joe Parello, who's a bit more versed in all things west of 495.
Also, you can find all game locations and times here, and please note that in Divisions 2A and 3A, there are no Western Mass teams, so there is only one semifinal. That means that in D2A, Marblehead has a bye to the state championship game, and that St. Mary's (Lynn) has a bye in D3A. Lucky them :)
Beverly vs. Duxbury
Beverly has been one of the feel good stories of these playoffs, but if they want to advance to the Division 2 Super Bowl, they’ll have to get through Bobby Maimaron and the Duxbury Dragon.
It won’t be easy, but Beverly has a shot. Coach Andrew Morency’s Panthers play good defense and they can run the football. That’s the key against Duxbury. Keep the Dragon offense off the field. If Beverly can do that, they can pull off the upset.
I expect a great game between two teams that are vastly different philosophically, but similar in their approach and toughness.
Shrewsbury vs. Westfield
Shrewsbury has been the darling of Central Mass this season. The Colonials weren’t supposed to be here, but they outlasted a crowded D2 Central field for the right to play in this game.
Defense has been the Colonials calling card and they will need to play well defensively if they want to beat a Westfield team that is balanced, and plays well in all three phases of the game.
This should be a great game between two teams that have greatly exceeded expectations.
Falmouth vs. Marlboro
The winner of this game will face the high flying Marblehead Magicians in the 2A Super Bowl. Falmouth has been a juggernaut in 2A South this season. The Clippers run the Flexbone Triple Option, and they run it well.
Marlboro, conversely, has been just as good in 2A Central. The Panthers will have their hands full with Falmouth’s offense, but if they can get some stops early and score first, they could put pressure on Falmouth and get them out of their game plan.
I think this will be a battle. Both teams are tough and athletic. They’ll get after it.
Triton vs. Hanover
On paper, Hanover would be prohibitive favorites in this game, but Triton has exceeded expectations all season long. They are a good football team. It is imperative, however, that the Vikings get off to a good start. As we’ve seen with Hanover, once they score first and carry the play, it’s over.
Hanover will look to wear Triton down. Triton has to find a way to get Hanover into second and long and third and long situations and force them to throw the football. The Indians throw the ball well but they would prefer to be a ground and pound team.
This will be a closer game than people think. Don’t doubt Triton.
Grafton vs. Taconic
Grafton has rolled all season long. Ifeatu Melifonwu and company have been explosive on offense and opportunistic on defense.
While it’s easy to just assume they’ll beat Taconic, don’t sleep on the Braves. Taconic has an explosive offense and they can score points in bunches.
This should be a great game between two teams that are athletic and rely on the big play.
East Bridgewater vs. Nipmuc
I have been friends with both of these coaches for a long time, and I can tell you that both teams will be well prepared. EB runs the spread option offense well, and Vikings coach Shawn Tarpey is patient. He’ll take what the defense gives him.
The Vikings make big plays offensively and they will need them in this game because Nipmuc will look to bleed the clock offensively and keep the potent EB offense on the sideline.
This will be a great X and O battle game. Whichever team executes their game plan and protects the football will end up at Gillette Stadium.
Brighton vs. Mashpee
Mashpee is looking to make a return trip to the Division 4 Super Bowl. Head Coach Matt Triveri has quietly built a good program on the Cape. Mashpee doesn’t get the attention of a Barnstable, Dennis-Yarmouth or Nauset even, but the Falcons are good and they’ll look to prove that by defending their Division 4 title.
West Boylston vs. Wahconah
I’ll let my Suite Sports peeps break this one down. It's their area of expertise. GET ON IT JOE!!
Joe: Geez, so demanding, but I guess I can help you out.
Look, if you like hitting, you'll want to check this one out, because Wahconah is always one of the toughest, most physical teams in Western Mass, and they're going to be colliding with a freight train from West Boylston named Cole McCubrey.
McCubrey is committed to UMass, and may be one of the top two or three running backs AND linebackers in the state. No matter which side of the ball he's on, he's always the one delivering punishment, but this will be the most physical team WB has faced since going against Grafton earlier this year.
Pads will be a'poppin.
Latin Academy vs. Millis-Hopedale
Millis coach Dana Olson’s Mohawks have been knocking on the door for the past two years but now they have a chance to kick the door down and get to the Super Bowl.
The Mohawks are led by Maine commit Brian Espanet who is one of the best dual athletes in the state. Espanet and the Mohawks massive offensive line will look to wear down a tough Latin Academy team that could struggle to match up.
Maynard vs. Turners Falls
GET ON IT JOE! Again, your area of expertise.
Joe: I guess I can bail you out again.
You know that comment I made earlier about WB not facing a team like Wahconah since playing Grafton... I lied, because Maynard actually beat WB earlier in the year, and the Tigers have been the story of the season so far in Central Mass, firmly asserting themselves as the small-school group to watch.
Led by two-way stars Eric Kiley and P.J. Falzone, Maynard's 26-kid team plays well beyond its numbers, something Turners Falls is used to doing as well. If you're looking for an experience edge, give that to TF, because this program has been here before, and I'd expect that could be an equalizer as these two teams play on a big stage.