Friday, December 2, 2016

MIAA Football Championships: Our Expert(?) Picks!

Familiar foes Xaverian and Everett will again square off for the Division 1 championship.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

We here at SuiteSports generally shy away from picks.

All they do is make people mad, and convince parents that we're rooting against their kids (we're not). But, with eight massive state championship games on tap for this Saturday, the SuiteSports Staff just couldn't help itself.

Here are my (unofficial) lines for each of Saturday's games, followed by picks from each of our reporters and editors.

Ed. Note- We are obviously not condoning gambling on high school kids, so calm down before you send me that nasty email. Also, keep in mind that most of these teams don't play each other regularly, thus making my lines pointless, and only for fun/most likely way off the mark. Finally, some our guys have chosen to justify their picks with a few lines, while some have not. Enjoy!

Division 1: Xaverian (-1.5) vs Everett
Division 1A: King Phillip (-2.5) vs Reading
Division 2: Duxbury (-7.5) vs Shrewsbury
Division 2A: Marblehead (-4.5) vs Falmouth 
Division 3: Hanover (PK) vs Grafton
Division 3A: East Bridgewater (-3.5) vs St. Mary's
Division 4: Mashpee (-6.5) vs Wahconah
Division 4A: Millis-Hopedale (-4) vs Maynard

Anyways, on with the picks.

Joe Parello, Editor-in-Chief

D1: Xaverian 17, Everett 14

We've seen this one before, haven't we? The Hawks edged the Crimson Tide by this score earlier in the year, and I see a similar game unfolding in Lynn. The only thing that makes me nervous about this pick is Everett's recent offensive explosion, but that Hawk defense rarely has a letdown.

D1A: King Phillip 28, Reading 21

The Warriors have the feel of a team of destiny, though admittedly, Reading's redemption after last year's disappointment is a pretty good story too. I'll go with KP scoring a last-minute touchdown for the win.

D2: Duxbury 31, Shrewsbury 28

I have this game a lot closer than people think, mostly just because I've seen Shrewsbury play multiple times, and know how tough those kids are. The Colonial secondary will give Duxbury's high-powered passing game a test, but in the end, Bobby Maimaron's historic career ends on the highest of notes.

D2A: Marblehead 26, Falmouth 21

I have no idea what to expect in this battle of unbeatens, but it seems to be that Marblehead is the more balanced team, so I'll take the Magicians in a close one.

D3: Grafton 27, Hanover 20

Hard to pick against Ifeatu Melifonwu. The Syracuse commit has been one of the most unstoppable players in the state, and Gillette seems like the perfect stage for his final big act as a high school player.

D3A: East Bridgewater 17, St. Mary's 16

I expect these two familiar foes to play another close game, but in the end it will be the Vikings breaking through to redeem themselves after a close loss at Gillette last year.

D4: Mashpee 35, Wahconah 24

Mashpee is one of the most underrated programs in the state, and all that speed will be hard for physical Wahconah to contain… Or the Warriors could dominate in both trenches and pull off the upset, as they did against West Boylston. Who knows.

D4A: Maynard 21, Millis-Hopedale 20

Call me out for my Central Mass bias all you want, but Maynard has been an unbelievable story this year, and I can't bring myself to pick against the Tigers. With a physical run game and hard-hitting defense, I think they'll keep the Mohawks just in check enough to pull off the upset of the day.

Nate Weitzer, Assistant Editor

D1: Everett 22, Xaverian 14

D1A: King Philip 37, Reading 18

D2: Duxbury 42, Shrewsbury 21

D2A: Falmouth 24, Marblehead 20

D3: Grafton 28, Hanover 26

D3A: St. Mary's 27, East Bridgewater 6

D4: Mashpee 28, Wahconah 13

D4A: Millis-Hopedale 30, Maynard 19

Brendan Hall, Guest Editor

D1: Everett 17, Xaverian 14

D1A: King Phillip 19, Reading 12

D2: Duxbury 42, Shrewsbury 0

D2A: Falmouth 28, Marblehead 20

D3: Grafton 26, Hanover 24

D3A: East Bridgewater 30, St. Mary's 28

D4: Mashpee 38, Wahconah 14

D4A: Millis-Hopedale 33, Maynard 6

Matt Feld, Reporter

D1: Everett 31, Xaverian 14

Go big or go home baby! Everett is playing as well as anyone in Massachusetts right now, trucking through Haverhill and Central Catholic to reach the Division 1 State Final. Xaverian's defense is one of the best once again in 2016, but the Crimson Tide's offense is too quick and athletic for the Hawks to keep up.

D1A: King Philip 27, Reading 7

The Warriors' strength of schedule will pay dividends, as regular season road wins over North Attleboro and Mansfield, as well as playoff wins against Marshfield and Bridgewater-Ranyham have them more prepared for the state's biggest stage. Expect King Philip's secondary and linebacker corps to give Reading's potent offensive attack fits.

D2: Duxbury 28, Shrewsbury 10

I expect this game to be relatively competitive for the first three quarters, but Bobby Mairmaron and Ryan Regan are simply going to be too much for the red-hot Colonials defense to handle.

D2A: Falmouth 20 Marblehead 12

Nick Couhig leads the Clippers to their first undefeated season in school history, as a late touchdown pass to Jean Vasquez seals the victory.

D3: Hanover 30, Grafton 14

Grafton has had quite a year, breaking the school record for victories in a single season. Hanover's offensive attack, however, has been unstoppable all season long, and I expect that to be no different on Saturday night.

D3A: East Bridgewater 16, St. Mary's 12

The Vikings' highly-touted defense, which has allowed one touchdown or less in seven games this season, cracks the code that is the prolific St. Mary's offense.

D4: Mashphee 21, Wahconah 13

Mashphee's two-headed backfield, comprised of Devaun Ford and Jason Andrade, salts the game away late after Wahconah's defense gives the Warriors' a strong run for their money.

D4A: Millis-Hopedale 22, Maynard 7

Maynard's rushing attack will allow the Tigers' to keep Millis-Hopedale off the field and keep the game within striking distance, but Brian Espanet is poised to have a big day to push the Mohawks over the top.

Tom Joyce, Reporter

D1: Xaverian 21 Everett 14

This one should be another instant classic -- like the first time they met up earlier in the year. In recent years, it's been tough to pick against Xaverian. Not going to do it now either.

D1A: King Philip 26 Reading 20

Reading played their starters on Thanksgiving and lost to Stoneham, 28-13. If that proves anything, it’s that their defense isn’t immovable. It’s hard to pick against King Philip and their power run game on the inside, especially when they’re playing 10 minutes from their school.

D2: Duxbury 35 Shrewsbury 12

Shrewsbury has had quite the Cinderella story this year, coming into the D2 Central bracket as the No. 4 seed among four teams. After starting the year 3-3, they’ve rattled off six straight wins. But simply put, Duxbury is the No. 1 team in the state this year. It’s just a shame for everyone else the best team is in a mid-sized division.

D2A: Marblehead 29 Falmouth 19

Two undefeated teams. Someone is going down. Time to invoke the old “defense wins championships” clause. Marblehead’s defense has allowed under 10 points per game all year, while Falmouth has allowed 66 in their past four games. Plus, I’ve never played a team who talks more trash than Falmouth -- especially when they were down 35-0 -- so it’s hard to view them in a favorable light anymore.

D3: Hanover 26 Grafton 15

Warning: Clear Eastern Mass. bias here. The only times I’ve seen Hanover play, they obliterated. They’re massive up front, and I’m going to assume they played a tougher schedule to get here, which does not discredit the great year Grafton has had, shutting out five teams.

D3A: St. Mary’s 34 East Bridgewater 14

Here’s a rematch of last year’s D5 Eastern Mass final. No one has figured out how to stop the Spartans high-powered offense, led by running backs Calvin Johnson, Abraham Toe and James Brumfield, yet. One has to wonder why that would change Saturday. East Bridgewater has the best chance of any competitor yet, but it would take a special performance to pull it off.

D4: Mashpee 36 Wahconah 8

My senior year at Marshfield (2014), we played a Western Mass. powerhouse (Longmeadow) and were up 39-0 at the half on them. Since then, I just haven’t viewed Western Mass schools the same way. Definitely think the Longmeadow game was an anomaly, but it certainly influences my opinion here.

D4A: Millis-Hopedale 28 Maynard 22

It's a shame this co-op is coming to an end. Millis-Hopedale has done some wonderful things over the years and there would be no better way for them to end their partnership than with a win. Let's say it happens.

Nate Rollins, Reporter

D1: Xaverian 28, Everett, 22

The two-time defending state champion Hawks will prove too much for Everett to handle Saturday. Crimson Tide signal-caller Jordan McAfee has had a remarkable season, but since Xaverian’s week two loss to Bridgewater-Raynham, the club has let up just 48 points in nine games. Let’s not forget, Xaverian took down Everett 17-14 to open the season, behind a late interception from Colin Lama. They’ve greatly improved since then.

D1A: King Philip 27, Reading 21

KP may be the most underrated team in the state, and the Warriors can play with anyone. On the defensive side of the ball, the Warriors have suffocated opponents—racking up 14 takeaways and 14 sacks and is allowing an average of 11.5 points against. KP has held its opponent to seven or fewer points five times so far. Corey DiLoreto, Nick DiNapoli and Jack Geirger are going to put up some points for Reading, but it will be KP’s defense that makes the final stand.

D2: Duxbury 32, Shrewsbury 21

The Dragons one blemish on the season came during their blowout loss to Marshfield, where they rested their starters on Turkey Day. If either wide receiver Ryan Reagan (foot) or running back Devin DeMeritt (shoulder) can’t play Saturday, then the Colonials have a shot, albeit a long shot, but still a shot.

Colonial losses to Nashoba, St. John’s and Algonquin should make anyone weary of picking them, as they go up against a far superior Dragon club, led by one of the best under center in Bobby Maimaron.

D2A: Falmouth 26, Marblehead 22

This clash between North champ Marblehead and South champ Falmouth may go either way. The Clippers' most impressive statement win came earlier in the season over Marshfield, 20-14. Their 53-19 slashing of a strong Milton squad in the second round of the playoffs must not be forgotten either. The one advantage I give Falmouth its offensive line play, it has some big bodies up front that have carved big holes all season long. 

D3: Hanover 42, Grafton 18

Hanover has just dominated every team that’s stepped in its way so far. After an opening drive that saw Holliston’s Jack Barret move the ball with ease in the Division 3 South championship, the Indians adjusted to shut him out the rest of the way, en route to a 40-7 victory. Grafton’s Ifeatu Melifonwa may be a non-factor against a Hanover team that has been preparing for the past two weeks.

D3A: St. Mary’s 35, East Bridgewater 22

EB is perhaps the most consistent team from the south, having posted seven-plus wins in seven straight seasons. We saw EB edge the St. Mary's 26-18 last season to earn a trip to Gillette. However, since graduating signal-caller Ryan Graham (62 completions for 1,357 yards, 21 TDs in ’15), running back Jared Vargus (1,500 yards, 10 TDs in ‘15), wide receiver Jake Peterson (24 receptions for 713 yards, 13 TDs and 558 rushing yards, eight TDs in ’15), along with almost its entire offensive line, we just haven’t seen the same firepower from the EB offense. Can EB contain Calvin Johnson, Abraham Toe and James Brumfield?

D4: Mashpee 30, Wahconah 21

Mashpee’s 1-2 duo on the ground of Devaun Ford and Jason Andrade may pose a series issue for Wahconah. The explosiveness of the Falcon offense was on true display in their 42-38 comeback win over Brighton in the state semifinals, a game where Mashpee put up 28 unanswered points. Mashpee is in line to claim back-to-back Super Bowls.

D4A: Millis-Hopedale 27, Maynard 20

M-H is a squad playing with an immense amount of emotion since the passing of one of its freshman coaches just a few weeks back. I’m not taking anything away from Maynard, but this Mohawks team is on a mission. The do-it-all Brian Espanet and lightning-fast receiver P.J. Adams headline the weapons surrounding quarterback Bryce Latosek for M-H.

Connor Evans, Reporter

D1: Everett 21, Xaverian 14

Everett's offense is looking strong heading into their final game of the season. I expect it to be a one-score game all day though, with the Hawk's defense trying to hold back the Tide.

D1A: King Philip 28, Reading 17

KP is strong on both sides of the ball. They've created a mountain for Reading to climb. Maybe they're up to that task, but KP is going to try to take the lead and run with it. Can't wait to see how this plays out.

D2: Shrewsbury 31, Duxbury 28

When trying to win a picks competition, sometimes you have to take risks. Duxbury should win this one on paper. However, Shrewsbury this season hasn't been too big on proving the paper right. They've played up in big games. As good as Duxbury is, you can't rule out the heart of these Colonials.

D2A: Marblehead 30, Falmouth 24

How do you pick a game between two unbeaten teams? You listen to your editor. Marblehead's balanced attack is what keeps them afloat and carries them to the title.

D3: Grafton 26, Hanover 24

This will easily be the toughest game Grafton has played all year. We will finally see a team that can really test their secondary, and the Hanover receiving core may just prove to be too much for the Indians.

Plus, any Hanover players who spin a lacrosse ball around in the spring haven't forgotten a dramatic state semifinal loss a few months ago that will just add fuel to their fire. That being said, I can't pick against Coach McMahon. He and the Grafton boys have gotten it done all year, and to pick against them in the Championship? That's just asking for trouble.

D3A: St. Mary's 30, East Bridgewater 24

The St. Mary's three-headed-monster backfield will be too much for the EB defense, and I don't anticipate the younger offense being able to keep pace with the St. Mary's rushing attack.

D4: Mashpee 28, Wahconah 14

Mashpee's running dynamo will absolutely wear out Wahconah. Despite Waconah's defense performing all season, I just don't see them hanging with Mashpee for all four quarters.

D4A: Maynard 28, Millis-Hopedale 16

Maynard's Alex Longo said to me after their fireworks display on the scoreboard against Turner's Falls, "we are making Maynard history and we are taking it all the way."

Something tells me I should probably believe him.


Anonymous said...

Joe, which games are at Gillette?

Joe Parello said...

All of them, except for the D1 and D4A games. You can find the full schedule here:

Anonymous said...

Thanks is that last pick supposed to say Falmouth 20? And do you think they really have a shot?

Anonymous said...

Well, four of you picked wrong! Hanover played a phenomenal game and won 21-0!