As we welcome a new year, ESPN Boston writers have checked their crystal balls and are making some bold predictions. Here are three for Boston-area high schools:
1. The new statewide football playoff plan takes effect and is a smashing success. There will be some kinks to iron out, but the first year determining six state champions will win over its prior critics once the drama of Week 7 hits. It gets more teams to the table, so what's not to love?
2. A team other than Malden Catholic and Duxbury will win the respective state championships in hockey and lacrosse. Both programs have some serious bona fides, with both winning back-to-back titles heading into 2013. But both are vulnerable and the Lancers (BC High, Springfield Cathedral, Hingham) and Dragons (Lincoln-Sudbury and Needham) will see the field tighten around them.
3. Central Catholic will win the boys basketball Division 1 state championship in March. Following the Red Raiders' near-upset of famed national powerhouse St. Anthony (N.J.) this past Friday, our good friend Malcolm Smith made a bold prediction: Central will hoist state championship hardware at season's end (it's third state championship in six seasons, and fourth since 1999).
After digesting that statement, we're going out on the same limb. There was no trickery to Central's game plan on Friday night -- they matched both tempo and physicality with the Friars. They are the most well-conditioned, versatile, and complete team in Massachusetts. The 4-point loss to one of the nation's most dominant high school programs reinforced all of these things.
Check out ESPN Boston's 13 predictions for 2013 by CLICKING HERE.