Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Your MIAA EMass Football Playoff Preview: Divisions 1-4

King Philip has won 20 in a row, and is dreaming of making it back to Gillette Stadium for a state title defense.   Photo by Joe Parello.
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

For MIAA football programs across Eastern Mass, Friday marks the beginning of a brand new season.

Everett is in pursuit of its second straight Division 1 crown, and so far has met preseason expectations.

King Philip is in a similar position. Coming off the first state championship in school history, the Warriors responded with a perfect regular season to push their state-wide best winning streak up to 20 games.

Elsewhere, Dennis-Yarmouth has taken the Atlantic Coast League by storm, blowing out Marshfield en route to a league title and the top spot in Division 5 south.

Lynn Tech is off to a blistering start, while St. Mary’s (Lynn) and Mashpee appear to be on a collision course in Division 7.

Now, with the regular season in Eastern Massachusetts behind us, let’s take a look at how we expect Divisions 1-4 to play out. Stay tuned later this week for when we preview Divisions 5-8.

Division 1

Ed. Note- Click any bracket to enlarge.

Everett entered the season as the favorite to win their second consecutive state title and, up to this point, the Tide has only solidified those expectations. Quarterback Jake Willcox (13 TDs) has become one of the more complete quarterbacks in the Bay State, while weapons Jason Maitre, Anthony Norcia, Isaiah Likely, and Mike Sainristil form an unstoppable offensive attack. Defensively, Lewis Cine and Duane Binns spearhead a unit that makes keeping up with the Tide’s offense a near impossibility.

The road back to the Division 1 title game won’t be easy for the Tide. They open with No. 6 St. John’s Prep, who is certainly eager for revenge from a week three 42-28 loss. Eagle quarterback Matt Crowley impressed in the second half of that contest, helping the Prep put up 21 unanswered points. If the Tide can get past St. John’s, No. 3 Lexington with dynamic quarterback Sal Frelick is expected to be chomping at the bit. Senior-laden top seed Central Catholic is Everett’s biggest threat.

BC High is the perceived top dog in D1 South behind running back Danny Abraham and a powerful offensive line. Four-time defending south sectional champ No. 3 Xaverian should not be counted out as long as its defense performs as well as it did down the stretch. No. 6 Attleboro, led by quarterback Cam Furtrado is a sleeper.

Division 1 North Pick: Everett

Division 1 South Pick: BC High

Division 1 North Sleeper: Methuen

Division 1 South Sleeper: Attleboro

Players to Watch: Sal Frelick, Sr., Quarterback, Lexington; Cam Furtrado, Sr., Quarterback, Attleboro

Division 2

Coming off its 20th consecutive victory, King Philip has earned the labeled as “favorite” in D2. Shane Frommer has developed into one of the premier players in Massachusetts on both sides of the ball, and quarterback Brendan Lydon has played well as of late. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they find themselves in a loaded south bracket.

Three seed Bridgewater-Raynham played as well as anyone down the stretch, finishing off the regular season on a five-game winning streak. The most impressive victory of the streak was the most recent, a 20-13 road win over St. John’s Prep.

Arguably the best first round game across the state pits No. 4 Mansfield versus No. 5 Marshfield with the probable right of traveling to King Philip in the second round. No. 2 Natick cannot be overlooked, as the Redhawks finished a perfect 6-0 sweeping through the Bay State Herget in style.

If the Warrors hope to repeat as state champions, they very well could have to follow the same path they did last year – defeating Marshfield in round two only to face Bridgewater-Raynham in the sectional final.

In the North a new team is likely to emerge after Reading reigned supreme for a pair of seasons. No. 1 Lincoln-Sudbury has a ferocious running attack, highlighted by James Dillon while No. 2 North Andover posted more than 30 points in four of seven games this season.

Division 2 North Pick: Lincoln-Sudbury

Division 2 South Pick: King Philip

Division 2 North Sleeper: Chelmsford

Division 2 South Sleeper: Braintree

Players to Watch: James Dillon, Sr., Running Back, Lincoln-Sudbury; Shane Frommer, Sr., RB/LB, King Philip; Bryce Shaw, Sr. RB/LB, Bridgewater-Raynham

Division 3

A lot of attention will be paid to the top two divisions, but Division 3 South may end up being the most entertaining section.

No. 5 Whitman-Hanson at No. 4 Stoughton is a terrific first round matchup. Stoughton holds key road wins over Catholic Memorial and Milford, while Whitman-Hanson proved to be competitive against the Patriot League Keenan’s best in Duxbury and Hingham.

Speaking of the Patriot League Keenan, if No. 2 Duxbury and No. 3 Hingham each take care of business in their respective opening rounds, the Harbormen will have a shot at revenge after falling in the League’s title game last week.

Many began to dismiss No. 1 North Attleboro after their opening week loss to King Philip, but the Red Rocketeers have responded with six straight wins to finish the season, including a 35-21 win over Stoughton. Quarterback Chad Peterson is one of the most valuable players in the tournament with 14 touchdowns for North Attleboro this season.

In the North, No. 2 Tewksbury looks to have a leg up on the competition. The Redmen compiled statement victories over Merrimack Valley Conference foes Methuen and Chelmsford, and allowed less than 14 points in three of their final four games. Brandon Winn is an explosive back, while quarterback Jim Connolly has been clutch.

No. 6 Danvers certainly has the potential to make noise. The Falcon defense showed muster in their mere three-point loss, 10-7, in the final week of the regular season against undefeated Marblehead.

Division 3 North Pick: Tewksbury

Division 3 South Pick: North Attleboro

Division 3 North Sleeper: Danvers

Division 3 South Sleeper: Whitman-Hanson

Players to Watch: Brandon Winn, Sr. Running Back, Tewksbury; Chad Peterson, Sr., Quarterback, North Attleboro

Division 4


If seeds hold true in Division 4 North, an instant classic would take place with perfect Melrose and Marblehead going at it.

Melrose came out of the gate on fire, outscoring Masconomet and Waltham by a combined 74-13 before proving their worth with a win over Watertown. The quick Rey Guity headlines the Red Raiders offense, while defensive lineman Patrick Byrnes creates havoc for opposing quarterbacks.

Marblehead, meanwhile, has allowed more than seven points on just one occasion this season, and that was a 21-12 win over Gloucester. In total, the Magicians have surrendered just 41 points, and pitched a pair of shutouts.

No. 4 North Reading has the ability to derail Melrose if it gets the opportunity. Senior Alex D’Ambrosio has given defenses fits, as highlighted by his 165-yard performance to close out the regular season versus Newburyport.

In the south, Hopkinton and Milton are ahead of the pack. Hopkinton picked up a monumental end of the season win over Holliston, while Milton closed out with three straight victories over Wellesley, Walpole and Norwood.

Division 4 North Pick: North Reading

Division 4 South Pick:

Division 4 North Sleeper: Gloucester

Division 4 South Sleeper: Dartmouth

Players to Watch: Rey Guity, Sr., Running Back, Melrose; Alex D’Ambrosio, Sr., Running Back, North Reading

No comments :