Tuesday, October 23, 2018

MIAA Football: Eastern Mass. Division 3 and 4 Tournament Preview

Old rivals Duxbury and Hingham seem to once again be on a collision course in D3 South.
By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612), Featuring Joe Parrello (@HerewegoJoe)

Yesterday we broke down Divisions 1 and 2 in Eastern Mass, and today we continue with all four sections in Divisions 3 and 4. Continue below for breakdowns from our Matt Feld, and picks from each of our editors.

Check in back in tomorrow as we preview Divisions 5 and 6.


Favorite: Tewksbury (6-1)

Contender: Lynn English (6-1)

Sleeper:  Beverly (4-3)

Best First Round Game: No. 6 Belmont at No. 3 Danvers 

Top Player to Watch: Jay Connolly, Sr., QB, Tewksbury

Key Difference Maker: Matt Severance, Sr., QB, Lynn English 

This section is all about the quarterbacks.

Tewksbury has proven its the real deal from the opening week behind senior slinger Jay Connolly, with its only loss coming against North Andover who is currently ranked No. 2 in our latest top 25 poll. The Redmen have come up with clutch road wins over Methuen and BC High, and held serve at home versus the likes of Billerica and Dracut. They have posted three shutouts on the season, and have a dangerous weapon on both sides of the ball in Shane Aylward.

No. 2 Lynn English, meanwhile, has scored 27 points in all seven of its games including at least 41 in each of its last four games. Matt Severance has been one of the top quarterbacks up north posting up monster numbers on a weekly basis.

Third-seeded Danvers has become a bit of an afterthought after losing its final two games of the year, but that is a mistake with quarterback Brendan Treacy slated to return after missing the last two weeks of the season. Treacy's return cannot be underestimated with his capabilities opening up the field for star running back Matt McCarthy.

A potential sleeper could be No. 5 Beverly. The Panthers won three in a row to close the season, including a 19-14 road win over the aforementioned Falcons.

Feld's Pick: Battle tested from last year's postseason run and a tough regular season slate, and filled with talent on the offensive side of the ball, I think this is Tewksbury's section to lose. Severance and the Lynn English offense are noto be overlooked and I'm not discounting Danvers ability to regain its form from the first five games. But, the Redmen have shown all season long they can win a variety of ways and that pays off come October and November.


Parello's Pick: This seems like the year the Redmen get back to Gillette, as the Redmen have proven themselves in big wins over BC High, Methuen and Dracut. With an explosive offense and more than capable defense, the Redmen have the most balance, and play making potential, in the bracket.



Favorite: Duxbury (7-0)

Contenders: Walpole (5-2), Hingham (5-1), North 
Attleboro (5-2)

Sleeper: Plymouth North (4-3)

Best First Round Game: No. 5 Whitman-Hanson at No. 4 North Attleboro

Top Player to Watch: John Roberts, Sr., QB, Duxbury

Key Difference Maker: Spencer Cassell, Sr., TE, Hingham

The only thing certain about Div. 3 South is that Duxbury is the favorite.

The Dragons, spearheaded by a three-headed offensive monster in quarterback John Roberts, running back Tim Landolfi, and wideout Will Prouty have torched the competition for most of the season. They've had one, one-score game all season and that came back in week three - a 12-6 win over Plymouth North. Over the last three weeks, they've scored at least 35 points in every game while their defense has only gotten stronger.

Who give Duxbury its best shot, however, is anyone's guess.

The section is home to arguably the best first round game in the state when No. 5 Whitman-Hanson pays a visit to Community Field to take on No. 4 North Attleboro. Behind defensive end Ryan Clemente the Red Rocketeers have had a terrific pass rush for most of the season while first-year quarterback Nick Raneri can be a nightmare for opposing defenses with his dual-threat capability.

Whitman-Hanson, meanwhile, has carried a new look since Ethan Phelps moved to running back and has the added benefit of knowing the Harbormen and Dragons well from regular season matchups.

Elsewhere, a potential sectional semi-final showdown between No. 2 Walpole and third-seeded Hingham would be well worth the price of admission. The Rebels have surged during the second half of the regular season winning their final three games including a 51-26 win over Division 1 foe Needham.

Jim Connor has done a terrific job in his first year as head coach for a Harbormen team that has been badly plagued by injury. Hingham most notably lost quarterback Jack Johnson to a broken collar bone versus Whitman-Hanson and has heavily relied on the play of Kevin Shea at running back and its defensive line.

Feld's Pick: While Duxbury is definitely the team to beat, I could see this section going in multiple different directions. No. 7 Plymouth North and its tough defense could certainly give Walpole and run for its money and North Attleboro is experienced having made it to Gillette last season. Hingham has arguably the best blocking tight end in Massachusetts in Spencer Cassell, and Whitman-Hanson holds the luxury of familiarity in playing both the Dragnos and Harbormen this season. After a wild three weeks, I see Duxbury emerging once the dust settles knocking off last year's sectional champ North Attleboro and Patriot League Keenan foe Hingham in a bruising sectional final.


Parello's Pick: Duxbury looked vulnerable for about a week, when its offense stalled at Plymouth North, but since then the Dragons have laid waste to everything in their path, including rival, and biggest threat, Hingham. With quarterback John Roberts doing a little bit of everything, it seems like Duxbury has the juice to make a run at its second state title in three years.



Favorite: Marblehead (7-0)

Contenders: Gloucester (6-1)

Sleeper: Burlington (5-2)

Best First Round Game: No. 5 Wayland at No. 4 Burlington

Top Player to Watch: Jake Doherty, Sr., RB, Burlington

Key Difference Maker: Chris Gally, Sr., QB, Marblehead 

All one has to do is look at the final few weeks of the season to see why Marblehead is the clear favorite in this bracket. The Magicians easily handled second-seeded Gloucester, 37-6, in week six before knocking off Danvers, 10-7, courtesy of a Mason Poisson field goal. Chris Gally runs the offense using both his arm and legs to break down opposing defenses while Ryan Freiberger and Sean McCarthy are reliable options.

The difference, however, comes from Marblehead's defense. The unit has allowed double digit points just one time this season.

The Fisherman hope to have a shot at revenge, but the path to reaching a potential sectional final matchup will not be easy. Melrose is a tough first round game with the Red Raiders experienced from a season ago while North Reading and Revere is an intriguing first round game. The Patriots have their fair share of surprising wins on the season including over Peabody and Lynn Classical.

The Magicians could be in store for a battle of their own if No. 4 Burlington can win its opening round battle with Wayland. Red Devils running Jake Doherty can take over a game by himself out of the backfield as his evidenced by his 434 yard rushing performance back in week six.

Feld's Pick: Burlington is incredibly dangerous, and there is no question that Gloucester is eager for a shot at revenge after getting beat big at home in week six, but Marblehead is the superior team in this section. Chris Gally's ability to break teams down with his legs is the difference as the Magicians advance to the Div. 4 semi-finals. 


Parello's Pick: Let's not over think this one. Marblehead is undefeated, and handled the No. 2 team in the bracket when they met on the field earlier this season. The Magicians seem to have a clear path to Gillette. 



Favorite: Milton (5-2)

Contenders: Dighton-Rehoboth (5-1)

Sleeper: Nauset (4-3)

Best First round Game: No. 6 Nauset at No. 3 Hopkinton 

Top Player to Watch: Luke McMenamin, Sr., QB, Milton

Key Difference Maker: Smith Charles, Sr., RB, Milton

A week ago, Milton looked as though it was cruising towards the one seed following a huge win over Needham on senior night. That all changed, however, on Saturday when the Wildcats were upset by Newton North propelling Dighton-Rehoboth to the top overall slot.

The Falcons have had quite the season in their own right, suffering their only home loss to a highly regarded Canton team. Harrison Pray runs the offense under center while Joe Carrera does most of the heavy lifting out of the backfield.

Dighton-Rehoboth is unlikely to be challenged in its opening round showdown, but could be in for a bit of a ride if they draw North Quincy in the quarterfinal. Raiders quarterback Tim Layden set the school record for passing yards this past week.

All that said, Milton remains the favorite. When at its best the Wildcats' spread, high-tempo, quick-strike offense is one of the hardest top stop in Eastern Mass. Luke McMenamin is one of the top decision makers in the area while Smith Charles provides premiere speed both in the passing game and out of the backfield.

Feld's Pick: I attribute the late season loss as simply the Wildcats looking too far ahead way too soon. Luke McMenamin has been dynamite all season long, and I don't see Milton passing up a golden opportunity to get back to Gillette Stadium.


Parello's Pick: Even though the Wildcats are coming off a loss to Newton North over the weekend, it's still hard for me to bet against Milton. After all, this team slowed down a high-flying Needham offense enough to score the upset, and we always know coach Steve Dembowski's offense will find ways to score points. They'll have to go through either Hopkinton or scrappy Nauset just to reach the finals, but the Wildcats are my pick to get it done.


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