NO. 3 BC HIGH (4-2) AT NO. 1 EVERETT (6-0)
The Skinny: In what has to be the matchup of the year, the No. 3 Eagles head north to Everett to avenge what was an easy win last season for the No. 1 Crimson Tide. By no stretch will this be any easier this time around. Expect a classic quarterback duel between BC’s Bartley Regan and Everett’s Jonathan DiBiaso, the latter of whom could break the state’s all-time TD pass record this weekend. Defensively, the Tide will have to figure out how to solve the matchup problem in tight end Jameson McShea, get good angles on shifty running back Preston Cooper, and the neutralize receivers Lincoln Collins and Gordon McLeod – and they’ll be doing it all without star linebacker Chris “Buck”McCarthy. Meanwhile, the Eagles will have to take care of the short passing game and respect the run; or else, as Xaverian learned last week, Vondell Langston and Kenny Calaj will make you pay.
Scott Barboza: This game is so close, it comes down to which team can hold onto the football. I see a last-minute field goal for the "upset." BC High, 27-24.
Brendan Hall: This is going to sound weird, but bear with me. It’s going to be an ugly game, but a high-scoring one. Everett, 35-31.
NO. 17 WALPOLE (6-0) AT NO. 16 NEEDHAM (5-1)
The Skinny: The 5-1 Rockets were one of the season’s biggest surprises until quarterback Drew Burnett went down with a broken ankle in last week’s rout of Milton. Now? We know Ian Riley, Mark Riley and Nico Panepinto are creative and athletic in space; but with a rotation of three kids expected to handle quarterback duties tonight, can the offense stay in fifth gear? We do know this: Walpole is one of the stingiest defensive fronts in Division 2A, having allowed just 8.5 points per game (with two shutouts) and going the last 14 quarters without surrendering a rushing touchdown.
Barboza: The Rockets do it for Drew. Needham, 28-20.
Hall: As much as we've raved about Mark Riley's skills as a pass-catching tight end, it's been Ian Riley and Mike Vespa in the run game that have kept things honest for the Rockets. Needham, 20-13.
HOLLISTON (4-1) AT HOPKINTON (6-0)
The Skinny: In his second year as head coach, the defensive-minded Jim Girard has the Hillers off to one of their best starts in years (6-0) and playing an aggressive, bend-but-don’t-break defensive front, allowing 12.6 points per game. Quarterback Mike Decina will be out with mononucleosis, however, so the D will have to hold up its end. That’s no easy task against a Holliston offense averaging 35 points and 380 yards of offense, led by quarterback Dan Barone (964 total yards, 16 TD) and running back Jake Frechette (68 carries, 744 yards, 7 TD).
Barboza: He doesn't get a whole lot of attention, but Dan Dubin will be a force to reckon with on defense. Holliston, 27-14.
Hall: We saw this in his previous stops at Wayland and Dover-Sherborn. Plain and simple, Girard knows how to defend the spread as good as any coach in the TVL. Hopkinton, 28-24.
ABINGTON (4-2) at ROCKLAND (2-4)
The Skinny: Why is this one of our games on tap? Quite simply, it’s one of the South Shore’s fiercest rivalries. The 2-4 Bulldogs will be looking to halt a three-game losing skid, after upsetting Dighton-Rehoboth in Week 3. To do it, they’ll need strong running from Bill Brady and Zach Kimball. Meanwhile, the 4-2 Green Wave can’t afford to fall behind another game in the South Shore League, after dropping a dramatic 24-22 decision to league leader Mashpee last week.
Barboza: In honor of my old college friend who played for the Bulldogs back in the day, I'm going with the Green Wave. Abington, 20-18.
Hall: I got some crap from my family and cousins after picking Rockland to win last year, so naturally I’m sticking with The Rock. Rockland, 12-6.
ACTON-BOXBOROUGH (4-2) at No. 8 CONCORD-CARLISLE (6-0)
The Skinny: The Patriots made yet another statement to the rest of the DCL last week, hanging 61 on a pretty good Westford Academy team. C-C showed off its backfield depth with Tyquan Culbreath running for two touchdowns on his first three touches. Of course, you always have to contend with George Craan and Tim Badgely as well. A-B will counter with Kyle Sweeney running out of the backfield.
Barboza: This is yet another statement game and win for the Patriots. C-C, 34-21.
Hall: Within the DCL sphere of influence, A-B is the Academy of Football. But in 2011, C-C is the gold standard. C-C, 28-17.
No. 5 BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM (4-1) at No. 6 XAVERIAN (4-2)
The Skinny: The Hawks are coming off two straight losses to Duxbury and Everett, and return home to face another Top 10 challenge in B-R, a team that dealt them an overtime loss at the Hawk Bowl last year. Austin DeCarr has made a smooth jump to taking charge of Xaverian's offense at quarterback, while Chris Calvanese has been moved out wide to receiver. The Trojans took a win over Rhody's best team in La Salle Academy last week with Nick Schlatz compiling another 100-yard game, in addition to Branden Morin's tough running in the fourth quarter.
Barboza: I like the way this B-R ground game is running right now, especially with Morin getting going. B-R, 17-14.
Hall: I love this new offensive gameplan the Hawks are rolling with, and I think they should continue to fly Chris Calvanese all over the field. Hey, worked for Jeremy Maclin at Missouri. Xaverian, 13-10.
OLIVER AMES (4-1) at No. 11 MANSFIELD (5-1)
The Skinny: Can Mansfield avoid a second huge upset from a Hockomock Davenport power? The word this year, as in the past, has been parity in the Hock, but the small division has also represented well this year, including Stoughton's win over the Hornets. The Tigers took a key Davenport win over Foxborough last week with running back Sam Langston (168 yards) leading the way. Meanwhile, Mansfield knocked off Attleboro last week with another big game from tailback Greg Donahue (3 TDs).
Hall: As a consolation prize, Keith Sullivan gets style points for passing the renowned "Are you legit taller than Scott Barboza" test. Mansfield, 21-20.
Barboza: Yes, I can confirm that Sullivan is, in fact, 6-foot-9. Oliver Ames, 21-14.