Thursday, September 14, 2017

10 Sneaky Good MIAA Football Games this Weekend

Junior quarterback Drew Campanale will lead Shrewsbury against Grafton Friday night.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Our Matty Feld has already broken down the three biggest games of the weekend in our MIAA football primer, but this week is packed with great matchups, so I figured some of them deserved mention as well.

While none of these games will garner the hype of a St. John's Prep vs Central Catholic, Bridgewater-Ranyham vs Xaverian, or a Marshfield vs BC High, they're definitely worth keeping an eye on.


Holliston at Lincoln-Sudbury, 7 pm

If you're looking for an under-the-radar quarterback duel that should deliver, look no further than Holliston's Ryan Benco against L-S' Braden O'Connell.

Each signal-caller made their starting debut last week, and both impressed in big wins. Both can beat you with their legs as well as their arms, so expect an entertaining chess match between coaches, and some school-yard playmaking from both quarterbacks.

Marlboro at Algonquin, 7 pm

The Panthers are hoping to be Central MA's road warriors. Having dominated powerful Leominster at historic Doyle Field last week, Marlboro turns it attention to a re-tooled Algonquin team in Northboro.

This one should be decided in the trenches, but both teams have more speed and skill position talent than they get credit for.

Shrewsbury at Grafton, 7 pm

The Colonials are coming off a close win against Shepherd Hill, and are looking to build another playoff resume as they fight to get back to Gillette Stadium. Junior quarterback Drew Campanale is a true dual threat, and Grafton will present another challenge for the returning starter.

The Indians are also looking to get back to Gillette, but without Ifeatu Melifonwu, Jack Fontana and a host of others, Grafton will lean on its veteran offensive line and deep stable of backs to wear down the Colonials.

Braintree at Mansfield, 7 pm

Braintree had the look of an offensive juggernaut in its season-opening win against Quincy last week, and I wouldn't bet on the Wamps being a one-hit wonder.

But it's not like Mansfield's offense, which dropped 34 on Walpole last week, is chopped liver either, and the Hornet defense looks as as solid as ever. As always, Mansfield will come in as the favorite, but Braintree looks like it has the firepower to hang.

Stoughton at Catholic Memorial, 7 pm

We've been high on Stoughton's potential since before the season started, and this week brings another opportunity to make a statement for the Black Knights, after they doubled up Franklin last week.

CM, on the other hand, is licking its wounds after a blowout loss to St. John's (Shrewsbury). The Knights are breaking in some new faces, and made some critical mistakes in all three phases. But, if the old adage is true that teams improve the most from game one to game two, then there is enough talent on the CM roster to play with anyone.

West Springfield at Longmeadow, 7 pm

The premier matchup in Western Mass pits this year's preseason darling of West Springfield, against the most successful program in the region in Longmeadow. The Lancers host what should be a hard-hitting affair, as was the case last year when West Springfield snuck out a touchdown victory at home.


Springfield Central at St. John's (Shrewsbury), 1 pm

These two squads opened their respective seasons on the opposite ends of beat downs. After St. John's traveled east to dismantle Catholic Memorial, Central hosted Virginia Beach-based national power Bishop Sullivan, and took it on the chin from one of the nation's most talented teams.

Expect the Golden Eagles to be mad, and better for having played that game, but don't expect St. John's to come in overconfident. With senior quarterback Steven Bucciaglia calling the shots, and a veteran defense anchored by senior linebacker Liam Doran, this is an experienced team that knows its potential.

Natick at Newton North, 1 pm

Natick made short work of Needham last Friday, and the Redhawk defense might just be one of the most underrated units in the state. Newton North, meanwhile, is coming off a heartbreaking three-point loss to border rival Waltham, and badly needs a victory to avoid falling into an early hole.

These two teams know each other well, and the Tigers have been stymied by this Natick defense recently. Still, it's already desperation time for an explosive North offense, so expect the unexpected.

Methuen at Tewksbury, 1:30 pm

Tewksbury held on late against Malden Catholic last week, thanks in no small part to senior athlete Brandon Winn, who rushed for over 100 yards, and a late touchdown, while also hauling in a fourth quarter interception as defensive back. The Redmen now open things up at home against a Methuen team they handled last year, but who also finished 2016 on a three-game winning streak, and blasted Malden last week to open 2017.

Expect a much closer game this time around, but the Redmen still come in as favorites in their home opener.

Westfield at Falmouth, 4 pm

The reigning Division 2 West champion Bombers make the long drive to Falmouth for an interesting showdown with the reigning Division 2A state champions. Despite graduating a number of top players, including star quarterback/defensive back Nick Couhig, the Clippers opened their season with a dominating win against Bishop Feehan.

Westfield is also replacing its quarterback, after the graduation of standout Austin St. Pierre, but junior receiver Baley Collier should be one of the best pass catchers in the state. Basically, this is a totally revamped team playing its first game of the year far on the road. Who knows what to expect.

Don't Sleep On…

Andover at Billerica, Friday at 7 pm

Can the Golden Warriors bounce back against a physical Billerica squad?

Holy Name at Doherty, Friday at 7 pm

Always a fun battle between two Worcester schools.

Dartmouth at Attleboro, Friday at 7 pm

Expect a slugfest as both teams desperately try to pick up their first win.

No comments :