Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Your MIAA EMass Football Playoff Preview: Divisions 5-8

The Millis Mohawks, led by star quarterback Bryce Latosek, a physical offensive line, and experienced skill position players, will look to repeat as state champions.
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

Yesterday we brought you our preview of Divisions 1 through 4, highlighting the favorites, sleepers and teams to watch in Eastern Mass' largest divisions. Today, we continue our preview of the MIAA EMass football playoffs with a breakdown of Divisions 5 through 8.

Note that you can click any bracket image below to enlarge.

Division 5 

Coming into the season, many saw Marshfield as the team to beat in the Atlantic Coast League. Dennis-Yarmouth had other ideas. The Dolphins surprised most by coming up with a dominating home win over the Rams en route to an undefeated regular season. All season long the Dolphins offense has been explosive, outscoring opponents by a whopping 315-89 margin.

The quarterback-running back combination of Jacob McCarthy and Rob Evans makes Dennis-Yarmouth the favorite to beat in the South, with No. 3 Scituate the most notable threat if they can hold serve versus No. 6 Holliston. A first round battle between No. 4 Somerset Berkley and No. 5 Foxboro is one to watch.

Lynnfield may hold the top spot in the North, but Somerville is the team to beat. The Highlanders impressed many in week six by knocking off Division 3 North power Lynn Classical, as well as competing with Lynn English earlier in the season.

No. 6 Watertown finished below .500 at 3-4, but has the offensive weapons behind wide receiver John Korte to make noise.

Division 5 North Pick: Somerville

Division 5 South Pick: Dennis-Yarmouth

Division 5 North Sleeper: Watertown

Division 5 South Sleeper: Holliston

Key Players to Watch: Rob Evans, Sr., Running Back, Dennis-Yarmouth; John Korte, Sr., Wide Receiver, Watertown

Division 6

If seeds hold true in Division 6 North, a sectional final would take place between undefeated Hamilton-Wenham and battle tested Stoneham.

Despite coming up just short, No. 2 Stoneham proved its worth in a week four road trip to Melrose, taking the undefeated Red Raiders to overtime.

Shawsheen is a dangerous three seed, winning its last five games, while No. 4 Greater Lowell limited Lynn Tech’s prolific offense to just 13 points in a week seven matchup.

Norwell enters the South side of the tournament as the class of the section. They captured the South Shore League Sullivan Division title with a 34-32 win over Middleboro back on October 13th, powered by Ben Bostrom, a physical back who paces the offense.

No question that No. 5 Middleboro would love another shot at the Clippers, and they may get that if they can get past No. 4 Dover-Sherborn. Evan Gwozdz can beat opponents both through the air and on the ground for the Sachems, while Isaiah Cobbs provides speed.

Division 6 North Pick: Stoneham

Division 6 South Pick: Middleboro

Division 6 North Sleeper: Greater Lowell

Division 6 South Sleeper: Cardinal Spellman

Key Players to Watch:
Tre Pignone, So., Running Back, Stoneham; Evan Gwozdz, Sr., Quarterback, Middleboro;

Division 7

There may be no two clearer favorites in their respective divisions than St. Mary’s (Lynn) in Division 7 North and Mashpee in Division 7 South.

Both teams torched their competition for most of the season.

One strong commonality between the two sides is a single player that can dominate for all four quarters.

Calvin Johnson has been that guy for St. Mary’s all season long. Beating teams with both his arms and his legs, Johnson is the focal point of a Spartans offense that scored 308 points over the course of the regular season.

No. 2 Brighton is the leading candidate to meet St. Mary’s in the sectional final, behind Coastal Carolina bound receiver/tight end Jerrod Clarke.

On the flip side is one of the best running backs in the state in Mashpee’s DeVaun Ford, the centerpiece back of a Mashpee team coming off consecutive state titles.

In last year’s state championship game versus Wahconah, Ford ran for three touchdowns and 120 yards. So far this year, despite missing time, he has picked up right where he left off.

The elusive back finished off the regular season with four touchdowns to lead Masphee to the South Shore League Tobin title, in a 49-27 win over Abington.

Division 7 North Pick: St. Mary’s (Lynn)

Division 7 South Pick:

Division 7 North Sleeper:
Greater Lawrence

Division 7 South Sleeper: Abington

Key Players to Watch:
Calvin Johnson, Sr., Quarterback, St. Mary’s; Jerrod Clarke, Sr., Wide Receiver, Brighton; DeVaun Ford, Sr., Running Back, Mashpee

Division 8

While a majority of sections find themselves with solid competition but still a clear favorite, that cannot be said for Division 8 South.

All three top seeds in No. 1 Wareham, No. 2 St. John Paul, and No. 3 Millis have proved that they have the wherewithal to reach the state semifinals. Millis, for its part, is the reigning state champion in Division 4A (essentially, what D8 was called last year), and brings to the table sophomore uber-recruit Kevin Pyne, as well as star quarterback Bruce Latosek. The senior has been remarkably efficient this season, throwing for nearly 1,900 yards and 19 touchdowns, compared to just two interceptions this season.

Just two years removed from a coaching change, the Vikings of Wareham have found themselves on top of the section. They knocked off previously undefeated Somerset Berkley to close the season, and came up just short against Division 6 power Old Rochester to open the season.

St. John Paul handled the competition from start to finish, and the aforementioned Millis Mohawks capped off a resounding 6-1 season with wins over Dover-Sherborn and Ashland.

The North features up and coming Lynn Tech. The Tigers stormed their way into the state title conversation this year, largely behind the play of Steffan Gravely. The prolific running back set the school record for career rushing yards (4,870) in Lynn Tech’s final regular season contest with Greater Lowell, where he ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

Just one week prior, Gravely scored four times in Lynn Tech’s win over Northeast.

Still, Cathedral’s offense makes them a threat to steal the title from Lynn Tech. The Panthers posted more than 40 points in each of their final three games.

Division 8 North Pick: Lynn Tech

Division 8 South Pick: Millis

Division 8 North Sleeper: New Mission

Division 8 South Sleeper: West Bridgewater

Key Players to Watch: Bryce Latosek, Sr., Quarterback, Millis; Steffan Gravely, Sr., Running Back, Lynn Tech; Harry Smith, Sr., Running Back, Old Rochester; Isaac Nascimento, Sr., Running Back, Wareham

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