Tuesday, August 28, 2018

MIAA Football: Top Five Games to Watch in Week One

Braden O'Connell Hopes to Begin Lincoln-Sudbury's run back to Gillette on Opening Night 

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

We are officially within 10 days of the 2018 MIAA High School Football season kicking off. 

This year, there won't have to be much waiting around for the top matchups of the season with a plethora of high profile games getting underway in week one. 

SuiteSports will have highlights from all of the opening weekend's action, but before then let’s take a look at our top five games for week one of the regular season.

1. Springfield Central at Lincoln-Sudbury

As our Editor Joe Parrello stated – this is the place you should want to spend the first Friday night under the lights. This cross-state matchup pits two teams who came up just shy of Super Bowl dreams in 2017 and have rightful aspirations of fulfilling them this time around. 

Springfield Central fell in the Div. 3 State-Semi Finals and is loaded at the skill position highlighted by wide receiver Myles Bradley. The Golden Eagles also have an electric secondary courtesy of Elijah Ayers and Keshuan Dancy Jr. 

Lincoln-Sudbury, meanwhile, came minutes away from a Div. 2 Super Bowl title only to fall to defending champion King Philip. The Warriors support some of the top line play in the state led by Mike Ciaffoni and Cal Kenney. James Dillon has shined on both sides of the ball as a running back and linebacker, while Braden O’Conell is one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the Bay State.

This has all the makings of an early season instant classic.

2. Everett at Xaverian

Nothing quite like an oldie-but-a-goodie to get the 2018 season started. Every Everett-Xaverian matchup carries with it its own place in Massachusetts’ high school football history and this season opener is sure to be no different.

A rematch of the previous two Division 1 Super Bowls, Everett is looking to defeat Xaverian for a fourth consecutive time. The Crimson Tide will have to adjust to quarterback Jake Willcox’s transfer to Milton Academy under first year head coach Theluxon Pierre. Still, Everett possesses superstar playmaker Mike Sainrsitil, running back Isaac Seide, and linemen Jalen Smith and Wilson Frederic.

Xaverian looks to be back to their own ground and pound ways, grinding past opponents with stalwart defensive play. Linebacker Michael Masse and defensive back Cooper Deveau lead the unit. On the offensive line, Lucas Ferraro and Grant Laws are two to watch as the Hawks look to get back to their fifth consecutive Super Bowl.

3. Mansfield at BC High

Mansfield at BC High usually meet up in a preseason scrimmage, but this season they will change course and face off against one another to open the season.

It is also a tale of two teams starting off at different points. Mansfield enters with a solid core coming off a run to the Div. 2 South Semifinals in 2017. Do-it-all running back Vinnie Holmes and quarterback Damani Scott are the stars. 

BC High, meanwhile, seems to be retooling under first year head coach John Brillo. Defensive tackle Keith Henderson, defensive back Kaleb Moody, and offensive playmaker Carter Rice lead the young Eagles team.

With both teams facing brutal overall slates, including non-league tilts versus Everett, this result could loom large come the end of the regular season.

4. Catholic Memorial at St. John’s Shrewsbury

There is plenty of drama surrounding this opening week matchup. Legendary coach John DiBiaso will be head coaching his first game as a member of the Knights while St. John’s Shrewsbury hopes to begin its Div. 3 Super Bowl defense.

The Knights are buoyed by strong line play highlighted by Luke Folan and Hunter Salmon. Sophomore Owen McGowan is ready to emerge as one of the top under classmen in the state and Hunter Tully and Khari Johnson star in the secondary.

St. John’s Shrewsbury graduated a strong part of its core that took home the title last December but still returns one of the most dangerous playmakers in the state in Eamonn Dennis. Liam Daly and Andrew Stolberg steward the line with Jay Brunelle developing into a significant threat on the outside.

This has all the makings of a premiere early season test for both teams as they look to cement themselves as statewide contenders for 2018.

5. King Philip at North Attleboro

North Attleboro is hoping to accomplish what nobody else has in 25 tries – a defeat of King Philip. After falling in the Div. 3 Super Bowl, the Red Rocketeers will look to begin their journey back against the two time defending champion Warriors.

Both teams have lost critical components on of the offensive side of the ball from last season. King Philip is likely to rely on Ryan Halladay and David Morganelli on offense. Defensively veteran linebacker Jack Webster and defensive back Aiden Bender lead the way.

Ryan Clemente promises to be one of the more highly touted players in the Bay State this fall as he captains the Red Rocketeers’ line play. Nick Raneri is a threat both on the ground and in the passing game with Jonathan Jones one of the league’s top pass catchers.

There may be no bigger week one statement than if North Attleboro is able to halt King Philip’s two season-long winning streak on the opening night of Ray Beaupre Field. 

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