Friday, November 17, 2017

Breaking Down the MIAA Eastern Mass Football Finals (Divisions 5, 6 & 8)

Star senior quarterback Bryce Latosek will look to lead Millis back to a state championship game.
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

Earlier today, we linked to a MassLive article where our editor Joe Parello and MassLive's Mark Chiarelli broke down all four of the Central vs West state football semifinals.

Now, our Matt Feld examines the battle between the North and South sectional champs in the Eastern part of the state. Note that Central and Western Mass do not participate in Divisions 1 or 2, so Division 1 sectional champs Everett (North) and Xaverian (South), along with Division 2 sectional champs Lincoln-Sudbury (North) and King Philip (South) have already advanced to their respective state championship games.

Let's take a look at a few of the biggest matchups on tap for this weekend.

Eastern Mass Division 5

Watertown (6-4) vs. Dennis-Yarmouth (10-0)

The Division 5 State Semifinal matchup between Watertown and Dennis-Yarmouth pits two programs against one another that have reached this point in completely different ways. Watertown has become the master of late, heart-stopping victories. They have come through with game winning drives in each of their last two tournament games.

Last week against Lynnfield, the Raiders scored 14 points in the final 1:15 to claim the Division 5 North title. Nick McDermott has played as well as he has all season at quarterback, using both his legs and with his arm, while wide receiver John Korte has been nearly unstoppable.

Most impressive about the Raiders' run up to this point is their ability to win despite a lack of numbers. Watertown currently only has 27 kids on the roster with multiple players playing multiple different positions on the same side of the ball. Perhaps most notable is senior Ben Landry. who moved from left tackle to the backfield due to an injury to fullback Matt Muldrew.
On the flip side is Dennis-Yarmouth, which dominated teams during the regular season and has shown little signs of letting up in the tournament. En route to the Division 5 South crown, the Dolphins outscored their opponents 130-47, posting over 40 points in all three games. Running back Rob Evans has become one of the top skill players in the Bay State, and exploded for 425 yards in the Dolphins' sectional final win over Scituate.

Make no mistake though, this is a team loaded with talent all over the field. Quarterback Jacob McCarthy is dangerous in both the passing game and on the ground, while wide receiver Michael Gurney has become a top weapon on offense.
Watertown has played well offensively so far in the tournament scoring over 20 points in all there of its games. Due to the proficiency of the Dolphins offense, the Raiders will probably need to break 30 or force a few Dennis-Yarmouth turnovers if they hope to come away with another upset victory.

Feld’s Prediction: 39-27, Dennis-Yarmouth

Eastern Mass Division 6

Stoneham (8-2) vs. Middleboro (8-2)

For the second time in three years, Stoneham finds itself in the state semifinals. The Spartans are certainly hoping for a better result this time and, if they have proven anything up to this point in the tournament, it is that they can win in a variety of ways.

After bulldozing its way to the sectional final, Stoneham was methodical in its 20-18 sectional final win over Hamilton-Wenham. The Spartans rely on their triple option offense, spearheaded by Tre Pignone and Christos Argyropoulos, as well as a stout offensive line.
Middleboro, meanwhile, knocked off top seeded Norwell as well as Old Rochester to claim the Division 6 South title. The Sachem offense has heated up, scoring over 30 points in all three tournament games. Running back Jeremy Soule Jr. runs the show as highlighted by his 187 yard and three touchdowns performance against the No. 1 Clippers in the sectional semifinals.

Quarterback Evan Gowzdz, meanwhile, displayed that he is more than capable of putting the Sachems on his back, accounting for all four touchdowns in the sectional final win over Old Rochester.
This has the makings of a shootout, with Stoneham’s prolific ground game going up against the duo of Gowzdz and Soule Jr. The first one to 30 may very well come out victorious

Feld’s Prediction: 35-31, Stoneham

Eastern Mass Division 8

Cathedral (9-1) vs. Millis (9-1)

Millis may have not held one of the top two seeds in Division 8 South, but it is a surprise to no one that Dana Olson’s group is on the verge of heading back to another Super Bowl. Quarterback Bryce Latosek has been fantastic throughout his senior season, pacing the Mohawks through the air, while Kurt Hopkins keep opposing defenses on their toes out of the backfield.

It was Hopkins' performance, after all, that led Millis to a 31-8 win over Wareham in the sectional final, as he ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Dom Zonfrelli, meanwhile, has been dynamic on both sides of the ball.
Cathedral squashed Lynn Tech’s hopes of an undefeated campaign, defeating the Tigers 20-6 in the Division 8 North Sectional Final. Khalil Blair has been a force to be reckoned with once again for the Panthers. Blair scored a pair of touchdowns, the latter of the two being a 91-yard run, to give Cathedral the aforementioned win over the Tigers.

But if Millis can stop the run like it did this last weekend versus Wareham, the Mohawks should be headed to Gillette Stadium.

Feld’s Pick: 24-12, Millis

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