Wednesday, October 31, 2018

MIAA Football: Div. 6 and 7 Central Tournament Preview

Maynard and Littleton have already played a classic this season. Will we see this pair of Tigers go round two in the D6 Central final?
By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612), Featuring Joe Parello (@HereWeGoJoe)

Throughout the week, SuiteSports editors Matt Feld and Joe Parello have been previewing and making their picks for each section across all divisions for Central and Western Mass.

On Monday, the two started with Division 3, while yesterday the two took a dive on Div. 4 Central and Div. 5. Now, both Matt and Joe are ready with an overview and of course picks for both Div. 6 and 7 Central.

Check back in Friday when the two cap all of our postseason preview content with a look at Div. 7 West and Div. 8 in its entirety.


Favorite: Maynard (8-0)

Top Player to Watch: Tommy Smith, Sr., QB, Maynard 

Key Difference Maker: Mitch Beaudoin, Sr., MLB/RB, Littleton

Maynard and Littleton head into the Div. 6 Central tournament as the top two seeds and its easy to see why. Not only are the two the most complete teams in the section, but they went toe-to-toe with one another only for Maynard to escape with a narrow 22-20 victory.

Outside of its two point win over Littleton, Maynard has wiped the floor against the rest of the competition. Overall, they are scoring on average over 40 points per game and have scored 44 points or more on five separate occasions. 

Quarterback Tommy Smith is leading the Tigers charge to reach a second Super Bowl in three years. Smith is one of the more electric dual-threat quarterbacks in Central Mass. compiling 869 passing yards and 13 touchdowns to go with 825 rushing yards and 10 more scores on the ground.

The Tigers are also led offensively by the running back duo of Johnny Sforza and Peter Jordan. Sforza and Jordan have combined for 1,344 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. 

Defensively, Tim Lawton and Axum Semakula lead the way for the Tigers. They each have over 63 tackles on the season to go with six sacks apiece.

Littleton's only two losses are to the aforementioned Tigers and Div. 7 Central favorite West Boylston. Outside of that opening night loss to West Boylston, 24-6, the second-seeded Tigers defense has been terrific. They have allowed just 63 combined points over their last seven games including holding Maynard to its lowest single-game output of the season.

Mitch Beaudoin leads Littleton on both sides of the ball with his play at linebacker and at running back. Defensively, Beaudoin has 54 tackles and out of the backfield he has 647 rushing yards to go with seven touchdowns. 

Quarterback Braden Lynn has 1,101 passing yards and nine touchdowns while receiver Austin Lynn is averaging 18 yards per reception.

Millbury will get the first chance to knock off Littleton as it enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed. The Woolies finished with a regular season record of 6-2 including wins over Div. 7 Central contenders Assabet and Blackstone Valley. 

If the Woolies are to have any hopes of emerging from this bracket it starts with Xzavier Robles. Robles has been one of the top running backs in all of Central Mass. this season compiling 1,128 rushing yards and finding the end zone 16 times.

Fourth-seeded Blackstone-Millville has a highly touted back of its own in Robbie Siefring. 

Feld's Pick: After their regular season matchup, look for Maynard and Littleton to meet up again in the district final in what is sure to be another instant classic. I think Littleton has the tools to repeat as district champions, but Maynard and quarterback Tommy Smith are just one step ahead of everybody else.


Parello's Pick: It seems inevitable that we will see these Tigers (Maynard and Littleton) battle again, but it's pretty much a coin-flip proposition for picking a winner. Maynard took round one, but I'll take Littleton this time around to exact revenge and take a step toward getting back to Gillette.



Favorite: West Boylston (8-0)

Top Player to Watch: Corey Shea, Sr., RB/DB West Boylston

Key Difference Maker: J.D. Antaya, Jr. RB/DB, Blackstone Valley  

Heading into the tournament, top-seeded West Boylston should be considered the favorite but not by much. 

All four of these teams have a chance to make some noise and it starts with fourth-seeded Leicester taking a trip to West Boylston in the sectional semi-finals. Outside of Div. 3 Central, we have not seen a ton of No. 1 vs. No. 4 matchups that, at face value, appear intriguing, but earlier this season Leicester lost only 30-26 to the Lions, and would certainly love to exert some revenge.

In that regular season showdown, Leicester led 14-10 late in the third quarter only to see West Boylston take a 30-20 lead with five minutes remaining. 

It all starts on defense for the Lions who have posted three shutouts and given up seven points or less in two other games. David Rizzuto leads the unit with 50 tackles, Corey Shea has three interceptions and Jake Florio has tallied six sacks.

Both Shea and Rizzuto have also been critical to the Lions offense. Shea has 898 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns while Rizzuto has added nine more scores.

If Leicester is to pull off the upset the second time around, they will have to do what they were unable to the first time which is stop the Lions ground game. Leicester's defense has been better as of late surrendering 20 points or less in four of their last five games. 

Quarterback Daniel Mero is second in Central Mass. in passing yards with 1,608 and 13 touchdowns.

The other sectional semi-final matchup pits worthy contenders Assabet and Blackstone Valley against one another. These two also faced off during the regular season with Blackstone Valley escaping with a 24-10 victory. This time, however, Assabet will get a shot at the Beavers on their home field.

That won't be easy as Blackstone has plenty of options on both sides of the ball. J.D. Antaya leads the Beavers rushing attack and also has three interceptions while Scott Mackay has 847 passing yards and nine touchdowns. 

Alex Tahjisan is fifth in Central Mass. with 69.5 tackles and Jordyn Amero is tied for second in sacks with eight.

Feld's Pick: Leicester gave West Boylston all it could handle the first time around, but I expect the Lions to be ready for the rematch with its ground attack too much to handle. Blackstone Valley is certainly a formidable team based on their regular season resume but I think the Lions are able to barely squeak out of the section and remain undefeated heading into the state semi-finals.


Parello's Pick: This West Boylston team is legit, with a big win at Littleton to open the year, and the Lions haven't really been challenged since the aforementioned contest against Leicester. Still, if last season's playoffs taught me anything, it's not to count out Blackstone Valley Tech. The Beavers lost some key pieces from last year's Gillette-bound squad, but still have plenty of talent, and know what it takes to win deep in the postseason.


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