NO. 2 DUXBURY (4-0) AT NO. 4 XAVERIAN (4-0)
The Skinny: In potentially one of the games of the year, the No. 2 Dragons return to the Hawk Bowl for the first time since 2008, when Shane DiBona and Co. took down Xaverian en route to the Division 2A Super Bowl title. Quarterback Matt O’Keefe (70 percent completions, 12 TD, 3 Int.) has been about as efficient as you can ask for in leading the Dragons, with scoring strikes to six different receivers. They will have to find a way to solve the Xaverian front four, which has seen a monster breakout from junior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. Also look for the Hawks to two-platoon at quarterback between junior Austin DeCarr and senior incumbent Chris Calvanese, the latter being used in a variety of positions.
Scott Barboza: Man this is a murderer's row type schedule for the Hawks with No. 1 Everett on the horizon next week. Duxbury, 24-21.
Brendan Hall: The best way to slow down an uptempo spread scheme is through the middle – remember Nick Fairley in last January’s BCS title game? – and The X has the horses up front to do it. Xaverian, 17-13.
NO. 19 NASHOBA (4-0) AT MARLBOROUGH (3-1)
The Skinny: The No. 19 Chieftains head to Kelliher Field to take on a Panthers squad viewed as somewhat underrated. Austin Garvey and Paul Goulet shoulder the load offensively, but Marlborough shares the wealth through the air as well, running Sean Mahoney’s spread scheme. Nashoba uses a platoon of backs to shoulder the load as usual, but it’s the defense that has been most impressive. Led by rising junior linebacker Zack Hume, the Chieftains haven’t been scored on in eight quarters.
Barboza: The Chieftains maintain their claim as the first best team in C-Mass behind St. John's and Auburn. Nashoba, 27-21.
Hall: I’m an Oakmont guy, but I can’t bring myself to pick against the Chieftains when their defense is rolling like this. Nashoba, 14-0.
BOSTON LATIN (3-1) AT NO. 9 CONCORD-CARLISLE (4-0)
The Skinny: Boston Latin – yes, seriously, Boston Latin – is in the conversation for a league title for the first time since…help us out here, will you? Junior tailback Jhalen Bien-Aime has been the catalyst so far, with 10 rushing touchdowns through the first month, while junior quarterback Miles Wright could be a gem (we did a double-take when ESPN analyst Billy Tucker mentioned him over the summer). But as has been customary since the Dual County League went to two tiers, the Small division goes through the Patriots, who are scoring nearly 36 points per game. George Craan is a potential All-Stater as the feature back, but six different rushers scored in last week’s 40-14 rout of Newton South.
Barboza: I think the folks over at Ocean Spray should get something started with George Craan. Maybe Craan-raspberry? Maybe not. C-C, 31-20.
Hall: I love a good story, and the Wolfpack are good peoples, but they’re going to turn into a pumpkin in the second half of this one. C-C, 35-14.
NO. 5 AUBURN (4-0) AT SHEPHERD HILL (2-2)
The Skinny: The trapper’s trap game. Auburn puts its 41-game win streak on the line against a Rams squad that has been up and down. The Rams shut down Grafton’s Obi Melifonwu in Week 3 only to lose a tough one to Gardner last weekend. But with their patented double-wing scheme, they are always a tough out. Meanwhile, the Rockets feature one of the state’s best offensive lines, and one of the best running back tandems in Dan Flink and Fred Taylor.
Barboza: Keep the wagon rolling, No. 42. Auburn, 20-13.
Hall: Any time you get a chance to talk about line splits, you do it. Both of these teams go foot to foot, which means two things: 1. Little blitzing. 2. Low scoring. Auburn, 10-7.
READING (1-3) AT BURLINGTON (3-1)
The Skinny: A month ago, when Reading was still ranked in our statewide MIAA poll, this was looking like potentially the matchup of the year in the Middlesex League. It’s lost some of its luster due to the Rockets’ stumble out of the gates, but we expect an evenly-played matchup here. Burlington is led by its tandem of running backs Kyle Shields and Marcus Odiah; the two combined for 313 yards rushing in last week’s shootout win over Woburn, including 213 and four scores by Odiah.
Barboza: The changing of the guard is made official. Burlington, 21-14.
Hall: The Red Devil rears its ugly head, with a grin. Burlington, 28-25.
TEWKSBURY (2-2) at BILLERICA (3-1)
The Skinny: Tewksbury followed up their shocking upset over Andover with a quality win over Central Catholic to prove they’re for real. A win over the Indians would just be another feather on the Redmen’s collective hat. Meanwhile, the Indians are looking to extend their own win streak to three games after a tough loss to Woburn.
Barboza: We saw the vaunted Indians’ offense come back to life last week against Dracut. Will it last? I say no. Upset special. Tewksbury, 13-12.
Hall: That Billerica defense impressed us last week, though they're going to have their hands full decoding this Redmen offense. But I like some late Nick LaSpada magic winning this one. Billerica, 35-28.
No. 12 ST. JOHN’S OF SHREWSBURY (3-1) at SHREWSBURY (2-2)
The Skinny: The Pioneers have really started to click on offense lately with quarterback Connor Kurtz throwing for three touchdowns last weekend. It’s been an up-and-down year for Colonials, who have needed to battle Marlboro and Doherty for win, thus far. However, with this backyard rivalry, you mind as well throw everything else out.
Barboza: The Pioneers are just able to do a little bit more on offense. St. John’s, 24-17.
Hall: Because it's a slim week, and we've got to keep things interesting over here. Shrewsbury, 20-19.
NORWOOD (3-1) at No. 22 WALPOLE (4-0)
The Skinny: After some rather one-sided blowouts, the Rebels play their first of a couple paramount Bay State Herget games with a visit from the Mustangs. While Walpole’s quest for a division title may ultimately run through Natick, once again, This is yet another early October matchup that could have December implications. It doesn’t hurt that this is one of the better backyard rivalries in the state.
Barboza: Sure the Rebels can move the ball on the ground, but they can air it out too behind quarterback Tom Donnellan and wideout David Thibault. Walpole, 17-13.
Hall: Classic backyard brawl. I'm guessing the fans will be entertaining. Walpole, 20-14.
BARNSTABLE (3-1) at NEW BEDFORD (2-2)
The Skinny: Both of these teams will enter with a chip on their shoulder as the Red Raiders fell short of an upset bid of No. 1 Everett while the Whalers went down in their second straight defeat to a Top 10 opponent in Bridgewater-Raynham.
Barboza: I think the Whalers’ persistent defensive line pays dividends in this one and is able to keep down D.J. Crook just enough. New Bedford, 34-31.
Hall: I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this Red Raiders squad continues to live on the edge, but they'll be in good shape come Old Colony League play. Barnstable, 28-25.
No. 16 KING PHILIP (3-1) at OLIVER AMES (3-0)
The Skinny: In any other year, matchups between the Hockomock League’s large and small division wouldn’t register on the radar, but particularly after Stoughton’s upset of Mansfield, all bets are off. The injury to KP running back Charles Ruffin bears watching in this game, but John Dillon’s development at quarterback should keep the Warriors rolling no matter what. Tigers quarterback Jared Snyder can sling it with the best in the Hock as well.
Barboza: The swarming KP defense catches the Tigers by their toes. KP, 21-14.
Hall: You almost wonder if Brian Lee was a little too deliberate in propping up the Tigers so soon after losing to Mansfield. But this Oliver Ames team is not to be taken lightly. OA, 30-21.
HOW WE'RE DOING
Last Week: 5-5
Last Week: 7-3