Wednesday, October 24, 2018

MIAA Foootball: Eastern Mass. Division 5 and 6 Tournament Preview

One season after winning the Div. 6 crown on the road, Stoneham is hoping to celebrate at home.

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612), Featuring Joe Parrello (@HerewegoJoe)

On Monday, we began by breaking  down Divisions 1 and 2 in Eastern Mass, and and yesterday, we continued with all four sections in Divisions 3 and 4.

Now, we are set to unveil our preview and picks for Divisions 5 and 6. Continue below for breakdowns from our Matt Feld, and picks from each of our editors.

Check in back in tomorrow as we preview Divisions 7 and 8 and also give our picks for the top games on tap this weekend.


Favorite: Swampscott (6-1)

Contender: Amesbury (6-1)

Sleeper: Weston (4-1)

Best First Round Game: No. 5 Newburyport at No. 4 Saugus 

Top Player to Watch: Graham Inzana, Jr., QB, Swampscott 

Key Difference Maker: Patrick Birmingham, Sr., RB/DB, Amesbury 

There has been a lot of talk about Div. 5 North over the last few days and for all the wrong reasons.

The most notable aspect about the section is that the bottom two seeds - Bedford and Triton - are a combined 1-13.

There's nothing they can do about it except play the games, and Triton's opening round opponent is a Swampscott team that is clearly the favorite in this section. The Big Blue have two legit wide receivers in Andrew Augustin and Jonathan Oriakhi who are matchup nightmares for other teams in the section. Junior quarterback Graham Inzana has been terrific in his first year as a starter totaling over 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns.

One potential obstacle for Swampscott could be No. 2 Amesbury if they are able to get past a likely matchup with No. 3 Weston in the sectional semi-final.

The Indians are having their best regular season since 2012, relying heavily on a strong rushing attack centered around Jacob Robinson and Patrick Birmingham. Their defense, meanwhile, has let up less than 10 points per game.

Feld's Pick: Once the first two weeks pass, Amesbury and Swampscott could be a very entertaining sectional final with the Indians stingy defense going up a legit Swampscott offense. The Big blue, however, have just too much talent on both sides of the ball and are head and shoulders above everyone else in the section.


Parello's Pick: Much ado will be made about high-flying Swampscott, but as the weather gets less predictable, give me a team that plays great defense and can run the football. Amesbury fits the bill, despite a sneaky tough draw from the semis on.



Favorite: Falmouth (6-0)

Contenders: Holliston (6-0), Scituate (6-1), Canton (6-1)

Sleeper:  Dennis-Yarmouth (4-3)

Best First Round Game: No. 6 Dennis-Yarmouth at No. 3 Scituate 

Top Player to Watch: Scott Elliot, Sr., OL/DL, Holliston

Key Difference Maker: Aidan Sullivan, Jr., QB, Scituate 

The most unpredictable section in the state this season belongs to Div. 5 South. There is no clear-cut favorite but there are plenty of contenders.

Falmouth enters as a well deserved one seed coming off a perfect regular season in which they claimed the Atlantic Coast League title, including a dominating performance over defending Div. 5 Super Bowl champion Dennis-Yarmouth. The Clippers have a bevy of options highlighted by running back Jack Murphy, quarterback Kyle Connolly, and wideout Kyle Cardonza.

Second-seeded Holliston has the makeup of a top dog. The Panthers dominated the TVL Large this season, capped off by a 48-0 win over previously unbeaten Ashalnd that gave them the league title. Scott Elliot anchors both sides of what is terrific line play by Holliston while Billy Nash, Dylan Ibbitson and Tristan Benson feed off one another with their incredible speed.

Yet the depth of this section does not even come close to stopping there.

Scituate finished the regular season with just one blemish, and that came in a highly competitive, 35-23 loss to Duxbury. The Sailors high-octane offense all goes back to quarterback Aidan Sullivan who is completing over 70-percent of his passes. Will Shesky complements Sullivan's play as a potent runner out of the backfield while Daniel May is a weapon on the outside.

The Sailors won't be in any position to take a breather in the opening round, however, as they are set to host the aforementioned No. 6 Dolphins. While Dennis-Yarmouth may not have its usual firepower from past years they are more than capable of turning it on this time of year. With the Dolphins having posted at least 30 points or more in four games this year, its all about this team's defense. Dennis-Yarmouth allowed 46 points to Falmouth and 25 versus Marshfield.

And then, there is No. 4 Canton who surprised many by beginning the season 6-0 en route to claiming a share of the Hockomock Davenport title. Linebackers Brendan Albert and Robbie Gallery have been the fulcrums of a strong defensive unit while Brian Campagna has been a standout playing both ways on the line. Junior quarterback Johnny Hagan has largely played mistake-free football.

Feld's Pick: The easiest way to pick a winner in this section is by picking out of a hat, with all four top seeds more than capable of taking home the sectional crown. I am going to roll with Scituate, however, as I think the Sailors have flown under the radar for most of the season and are ready to show off their offense for all of the state to see.


Parello's Pick: In the most wide-open field in the state, give me the best offensive lineman in Massachusetts to get behind. Holliston's offense is humming like past great Panther teams, and I can see this group running all the way to Gillette.



Favorite: Stoneham (7-0)

Contender: Hamilton-Wenham (5-2)

Sleeper: Northeast Regional (5-2)

Best First Round Game: No. 7 Austin Prep at No. 2 Hamilton-Wenham 

Top Player to Watch: Christos Argyropoulos, Sr., RB, Stoneham 

Key Difference Maker: Zach Sanderson, Sr., RB, Northeast Regional 

One season after winning the sectional crown on Hamilton-Wenham's turf, Stoneham will have a chance to repeat at home.

The Spartans cruised through the regular season, winning their seven regular season games by an average score of 40-12 behind veteran running back Christos Argryopoulos. Argryopolous' most notable performance so far in 2018 came in week three versus Burlington where he rushed or 220 yards and four touchdowns in a 44-14 Spartans win.

Argryopoulos is not the only running back to keep an eye on in this section. Northeast Regional's Zach Sanderson broke the school rushing record as a junior and has had an equally impressive senior year in leading the Knights to a 5-2 record and the third overall seed. Sanderson has even become Northeast Regional's quarterback out of the wildcat formation. To close out the regular season, the five-foot-11 back rushed for 263 yards on just 11 carries in a win over Whittier Tech.

Hamilton-Wenham would certainly love another shot after falling a mere quarter short last season. The Generals have a tough road back, however, and it starts when they take on an Austin Prep team that's been steadily improving.

Since starting the season 0-2, the Cougars are 4-1 including a win over St. John Paul II in the final week of the season that got them into the playoffs.  Lucas Gebolys cannot be overlooked out of the backfield.

Feld's Pick: Northeast Regional is a team to watch, with Zach Sanderson giving opponents fits for nearly two years now. For the second consecutive season, however, Stoneham is simply the class of the section with Christos Argryopoulos too tough to bring down.


Parello's Pick: Stoneham hasn't really been challenged all year, which is both encouraging (the Spartans are winning games by an average score of 40-12), and also a bit disconcerting. There's no way the Spartans get through this bracket without somebody, probably H-W or Northeast, pushing them, but I'll still pick Stoneham to get through, behind do-it-all star Christos Argyropoulos.



Favorite: Old Rochester (7-0)

Contender: Ashland (6-1)

Sleeper: Apponequeut (4-3)

Best First Round Game: No. 5 Apponequet at No. 4 Dedham 

Top Player to Watch: Tyler Noe, Sr., WR, Old Rochester 

Key Difference Maker: Ryan Flaherty, Sr., QB, Dedham

While a fair amount of teams in the state are known for its offense, Old Rochester is all about their defense.

Heading into their week seven game versus Case, the Bulldogs allowed just under six points per game including posting four shutouts. Linebacker Dylan DeWolfe is the centerpiece of it all while Cam Berzinkski is back in the fold after missing time due to injury.

The key, however, is Tyler Noe who has been a do-it-all playmaker for Old Rochester. Noe's value was never more noticeable than in the win over Case in which he ran back a kick-off 78 yards for the game winning touchdown to give the Bulldogs the South Shore Conference crown.

No. 2 Ashland is dangerous with a dual-quarterback system that has the Clockers frequently alternating between Jackson Hornung and Dom Cavanaugh.

One interesting matchup will certainly be the opening round showdown between No. 5 Apponequet and fourth-seeded Dedham. The Lakers are heavily reliant on the ground game with Brent Dixon leading the charge while Marauders quarterback Ryan Flaherty is capable of carrying his team to victory.

Third-seeded Medway would love another crack at Ashland in a sectional semi-final showdown after falling to the Clockers this season, 21-20.

Feld's Pick: Old Rochester has done it all this season, between allowing less than six points per through the first six weeks, to winning in thrilling fashion over Case to capture the South Shore Conference crown. I think Ashland is much better than what they showed versus Holliston, and Apponequet and Dedham could be threats to pull off an upset, but I think wideout Tyler Noe is the 'X-factor,' as evidenced by his kick return for a touchdown last week, that puts Old Rochester over the top. 


Parello's Pick: If not for running into a Holliston buzzsaw last week, Ashland would be one of the most buzzed about teams in the state. One game doesn't change my opinion of the Clockers, who have been lock down on defense in their six other games.


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