Friday, November 2, 2018

MIAA Football: Div. 8 Central, Div. 7 and 8 West Tournament Preview

Can Hoosac Valley get back to Gillette after last year's magical run?
By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612), Featuring Joe Parello (@HereWeGoJoe)

At long last, SuiteSports editors Matt Feld and Joe Parello are ready to unveil their breakdown of the Division 8 Central and Divisions 7 and 8 West sectionals to conclude all of our postseason preview coverage.

On Monday, we began with a look at Division 3, moved over to Divisions 4 and 5 on Tuesday, dove into Division 6 and Division 7 Central on Wednesday, and are now here with an overview of the remaining Central and Western Mass sectionals today.

Make sure you check out our scoreboard throughout the weekend for the results of all the sectional semi-final matchups across Massachusetts and stay tuned to SuiteSports for recaps and thoughts from the top games on the docket.


Favorite: Wahconah (8-0)

Top Player to Watch: Tim Clayton, Sr., QB, Wahconah 

Key Difference Maker: Connor Noyes, Sr., RB, Wahconah 

Wahconah and its high flying offense enters the Div. 7 West Tournament as the clear favorite to take home the sectional title.

The Warriors finished a perfect 8-0 during the regular season while knocking off some of the top competition the West has to offer including Minnechaug 48-25 earlier this year. Wachonah faced off against its first round opponent, No. 4 Tacnoic, in the regular season with the Warriors cruising to a 43-0 victory.

Leading the offense is dual threat quarterback Tim Clayton. Clayton has 822 passing yards, 202 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns. Receivers Tom Burris is Clayton's primary option, finding him for 347 yards and four touchdowns. At running back, Connor Noyes has piled up 903 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.

In all, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by a 306 to 114 margin.

Elsewhere in the section, second-seeded South Hadley hosts No. 3 Frontier. South Hadley had a solid regular season, finishing with a 6-2 record  and already surpassing their win total from all of the 2017 season. After dropping their first two, the Tigers have won six straight heading into the tournament scoring 28 points or more in each win.

Hunter Borowksi, Hunter Carey, and Liam Dawson are the focal points of the South Hadley offense. Carey was the star of the show in the Tigers' win over Chicopee in the final week of the season that sewed up a playoff berth finishing with over 300 all purpose yards.

Frontier enters the tournament on its heels a bit after dropping two out of three games to close the season.

Feld's Pick: Wahconah has been so dominant this season that its almost inconceivable to see another team emerging from this bracket. I think South Hadley advances to face the Warriors in the sectional final, but all expectations are on Wachonah to get back to Gillette Stadium.


Parello's Pick: Ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, ma my Wahconah!

Awesome song aside, Wahconah knows how to win in November, and this team looks to be Gillette-bound.


Favorite: Lunenburg (6-2)

Top Player to Watch: Anthony Iannacci, Jr., RB, Lunenburg

Key Difference Maker: Damian Comeau, Sr., QB, Narragansett 

You will not have to travel very far to capture all of the action in Div. 8 Central, with all four teams located in North Worcester County.

Top-seeded Lunenburg enters as the favorite but heads into opening round play versus No. 4 Murdock searching for its first postseason win since 2007. The two met during the regular season with Lunenburg coming away with a 21-6 win.

Murdock, in fact, is in search of its first postseason win in program history.

Running back Anthony Iannacci is the star of the show for the Blue Devils. He ran for a pair of scores in the aforementioned win over Murdock and has 10 touchdowns in all on the season. Quarterback Christoper Costich has had a solid season under center throwing for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns.

Defensively, Lunenburg has played well for the most of the season. Donovan Powell has had a standout season in the secondary with four interceptions while Joe Rivers and Samuel Thibbets both have three sacks.

In order for Murdock to pull off the upset, they will have to receive ample production out of its three back attack in Richard Swanson, Lewis Maldonado, and Logan Hawkins.

No. 2 St. Bernard's hosts third-seeded Narragansett in the other sectional semi-final matchup. These two also faced off during the regular season with St. Bernard's cruising to a 58-26 victory, though Warriors running back Matthew Corbeil was out with an injury.

Leading the Bernardians offense is a dynamic running back duo in Walter Morales and Xavier Marty. The two have combined for 1,135 yards and 17 touchdowns. Defensively, St. Bernard's has been better than any team in the section surrendering 99 points through eight games.

Narragansett certainly has the pieces for a tournament run. Along with Corbeil, quarterback Damian Comeau has thrown for 11 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards while Myles Jacques and Ryan Welch are two top options in the red zone.

Feld's Pick: I think Narragansett will turn in a far better effort versus St. Bernard's than the score indicated the first time around, but I think Bernardians rushing attack is the difference here setting up a sectional final showdown with Luneburg. This is where St. Bernard's defense makes itself known, keeping the the Blue Devils offense at bay to give the Barnardians a district title.


Parello's Pick: A savvy pick taking St. B's, Matty, but I'm gonna take the top-seeded Blue Knights and their powerful ground game. There will be some pads popping in this bracket.


Favorite: Lee (7-1)

Top Player to Watch: Ben Harding, Sr., WR/FS, Lee

Key Difference Maker: Liam Feeley, Sr., RB/OLB, Hoosac Valley 

While Lee enters as the top seed and the rightful favorite in this bracket, it's fair to say that third-seeded Hoosac Valley has as good a shot as anybody to win the section.

The 2017 Div. 8 Super Bowl finalists dropped a pair of games this season, but both were against higher division teams in Chicopee Comp. and South Hadley. Hoosac posted a pair of shutouts this season, while letting up seven points or fewer in two other games.

Offensively, Liam Feeley is the focal point for the Hurricanes. The running back had 240 yards on the ground and three touchdowns in his team's win over Pittsfield late in the season.

Hoosac opens on the road versus a Turners Fall team that finished 7-1 largely on the heels of its offense. Quarterback Kyle Dodge has nearly 500 yards through the air and six touchdowns. Receiver Andy Craver has three touchdowns,

As for Lee, they open up with No. 4 Ware who has struggled offensively for most of the season. After putting up 1,995 yards of offense a season ago, Ware has just 340 so far this year.

Lee, meanwhile, has picked up quality wins over Ludlow and aforementioned Turners Falls. Homer Winston has had a solid season at quarterback with Ben Harding a reliable option in the slot.

In Lee's opening night, 21-7 win over second-seeded Turners, Harding was the story coming up with a pair of interceptions and a key 30-yard reception that set up the go ahead score.

Feld's Pick: Lee has some solid weapons on offense, but I really like the experience that this Hoosac team has following its 2017 run to Gillette Stadium. Its a tough road, but I think Liam Feeley and the Hurricanes get the job done.


Parello's Pick:  Geez, you're going against the grain with these picks. Lee is as explosive a small-school team as there is in Western Mass, and I don't see that stopping now. 


No comments :