Wednesday, November 7, 2018

MIAA Football: Sectional Final Picks

If Lincoln-Sudbury is to get back to Gillette, quarterback Braden O'Connell and the Warriors will need to get past a North Andover team that has been absolutely dominant this season.
By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612), Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Sectional final weekend across the state is officially here and with it editors Joe Parello and Matt Feld are here to make their picks for the top matchups on the slate.

Throughout the weekend, SuiteSports will be there to provide coverage from all the top games including recaps, top highlights, video content, and more. Make sure to stay up to date on the results as we update our sectional scoreboard as results come in.

Here is how our editors stack up heading into the 26 sectional final games slated for the weekend:

Feld: 64-20
Parello: 56-28

Now for this week's picks!

Div. 1 North: No. 4 Central Catholic at No. 2 St. John's Prep, Saturday 1pm

Feld's Pick: Central Catholic had the upset of the season when they went into Everett and knocked-off the Crimson Tide. Chuck Adamopolous has done nothing short of a tremendous job with a young Raiders team that will be a favorite again next year. But I've said since about week two this season that I thought St. John's Prep was the team to beat in Div. 1 and they have only strengthened my willingness to make that claim in recent weeks. Too many weapons, too much speed, too much size for the Prep.

33-16, St. John's Prep

Parello's Pick: CC has as much momentum as anybody in the state after last week's win in Everett, but you just get the feeling this may be the Prep's year.

24-20, St. John's Prep

Div. 1 South: No. 3 Catholic Memorial at No. 1 Xaverian, Friday 7pm

Feld's Pick: If last week proved anything, its that Xaverian refuses to go down at home. No matter how much a team has pushed them to the brink, whether it be Attleboro in 2013, Catholic Memorial in 2016, or Franklin last week the Hawks always seem to find that one winning play that has kept them spotless in south sectionals since 2013. One caveat here is the emergence of Catholic Memorial's offense this postseason, but I refuse to pick against Xaverian when they play on Clapboard Tree Street.

24-19, Xaverian

Parello's Pick: Another week, and another round of me clinging to the CM bandwagon. Xaverian is probably deeper, but the Knights' top line talent is as good as anyone's, and in a one game scenario, I'll take CM to pull it out and finally send Xaverian home before Gillette.

20-14, Catholic Memorial

Div. 2 North: No. 2 Lincoln-Sudbury at No. 1 North Andover, Friday 7pm

Feld's Pick: I've been on the North Andover bandwagon from early on and there is nothing I have seen that makes me regret that sentiment. Lincoln-Sudbury is physical up front, has a stout running game, and an experienced quarterback in Braden O'Connell, but this Jake McElroy and the Scarlet Knights time to shine. North Andover sets the tempo early, and pulls away late.

40-31, North Andover

Parello's Pick: Nobody has been able to hang with or slow down North Andover this year, but if any team can, it's L-S and this brutally efficient ground game and stout defense. Methinks the Warriors put just enough pressure on Jake McElroy to slow the Scarlett Knights down, and L-S guts one out in OT.

36-34 (OT), Lincoln-Sudbury

Div. 2 South: No. 3 King Philip at No. 1 Mansfield, Friday 7pm

Feld's Pick: Mansfield is at home, they're undefeated and they are hungry to end their rivals two-year run. Unfortunately for the Hornets, King Philip has played its best football as of late using Ryan Halliday out of the backfield to dictate tempo and using a strong front seven defensively to wear opponents down. In a game that lives up to the hype, Robert Jarest plays one of his better games of the season and Tyler Bartlett comes through with a key interception late as the Warriors head to their third straight Super Bowl.

27-17, King Philip

Parello's Pick: No way I'm betting against the Hornets at home, especially against a rival they still have something to prove against. In a juicy rematch of Mansfield's win from earlier this year, the Hornets cement their status as the team to beat in D2 with another win over the two-time defending state champs.

24-20, Mansfield

Div. 3 South: No. 3 Hingham at No. 1 Duxbury, Friday 7pm

Feld's Pick: Considering the injuries they have had to deal with, I have been awfully impressed with Hingham's play this season. The Harbormen have a legitimate chance on Friday with the way their defense has played and their ability to run the ball. Duxbury's multi-dimensional offense, however, is simply way too much to overcome. John Roberts continues to add to his player of the year candidacy with a big night as the Dragons advance to the state semis.

30-17, Duxbury

Parello's Pick: John Roberts and this Duxbury offense are playing at a championship level, and that's all I really need to know right now. This is as good a Hingham team as I can remember, so don't count the Harbormen out, but this is another elite Duxbury unit.

42-34, Duxbury

Div. 3 Central: No. 4 Shrewsbury at No. 3 St. John's, Saturday 2pm (Doyle Field)

Feld's Pick: It's almost more appealing to try and set the over/under for this game (84.5, I am taking the over) than determine the winner. While anything can happen when these two get together, the way St. John's came out on fire offensively last week was impressive when considering how Wachusett had played for most of the season. Shea Gallo-Koleague was a thorn in the side of the Colonials the first time around and that was without Eamonn Dennis fully in the equation. When considering the amount of options Colin Schofield has to choose from I just do not know if Shrewsbury can get into the 40s and a win a full-on track meet with the Pioneers.. 

49-36, St. John's

Parello's Pick: Ok, I need to start making up some ground on these picks, and I was leaning toward Shrewsbury anyways, so screw it, I'll take Drew Campanale and the Colonials in a (minor) upset against their cross-town rivals.

41-38, Shrewsbury

Div. 3 West: No. 3 Westfield at No. 1 Springfield Central, Friday 5pm (Holyoke)

Feld's Pick: Expect Westfield to put up a better fight than the first go-around, but Springfield Central is simply a runaway train. They have talent, speed, and athleticism all over the field making it nearly impossible to keep them below 40 points. Until they face a team that is able to match their output punch-for-punch, there is no reason to expect Central to falter.

48-24, Central

Parello's Pick: See above.

55-28, Central

Div. 4 Central: No. 3 Tantasqua at No. 1 Nashoba, Saturday 2pm (Foley Stadium)

Feld's Pick: While Nashoba is not outstanding in any one particular field, they are simply an overall solid team. With Sam Bolinsky leading the way the Chieftains have a formidable offense while defensively they have continuously made the key play when necessary. Lookout for another rock-fight this weekend, but Nashoba survives once again to advance to the Div. 4 state-semis.

20-14, Nashoba

Parello's Pick: Tantasqua is as tough as they come, but Nashoba knows how to win at this point in the tournament. Championship experience and depth lift the Chieftains to another sectional crown.

28-21, Nashoba

Div. 5 South: No. 4 Canton at No. 3 Scituate, Friday 7pm

Feld's Pick: Canton's defense has been terrific for most of the season, and the Bulldogs ability to go down to Falmouth and handily defeat the Clippers cannot be overlooked. I picked Scituate to pick the section, however, and I am sticking with it. Led by Aidan Sullivan and Will Shesky the Sailors offense has been firing on all cylinders and they do just enough against that aforementioned Bulldogs front to emerge with a sectional crown.

27-19, Scituate

Parello's Pick: Matt's been telling me all year that this Scituate team is the real deal, and I guess it's time I started listening. 

35-24, Scituate

Div. 8 West: No. 3 Hoosac Valley at No. 1 Lee, Friday 6:30pm (Williams College)

Feld's Pick: Experience in games like this can never be discounted. Hoosac Valley may have come up short in last year's Div. 8 Super Bowl, but they still have key pieces from last years team that know what it takes to get there. Lee's offense has been terrific this season, but the Hurricanes defense finds a way to muck it up and squeak out a victory late.

19-16, Hoosac Valley

Parello's Pick: Hoosac Valley is slightly more battle-tested and experienced, but these two squads are pretty even talent-wise. So, why not go with a Lee team that has been consistently explosive offensively, and stout on the other side of the ball?

28-21, Lee

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