ESPN Boston's Week 8 Picks

Let's get straight to this week’s action with picks from ESPN Boston's Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall.

NO. 5 MANSFIELD (6-1) at NO. 10 NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH (7-0), 7 p.m.

The skinny: Once again, the Hockomock title is on the line when these two rivals meet at Community Field for the 81st installment in the series. Mansfield and its backfield led by quarterback George Busharis and running back Jamel Marshall, has outscored the opposition 109-13 over its last three games. Meanwhile the host Red Rocketeers are boasting one of the state's stingiest, most flexible defenses, giving up just 4.9 points per game and never allowing more than one touchdown in any contest.

Barboza: We know how good the Hornets defense can be, but I'll be interested to see how they react to Big Red's passing attack led by Paul McCarthy. Mansfield, 20-16

Hall: Nights like these are Christmas for traffic cops in North Attleborough. With parking so limited at Community Field, expect alot of tickets for the randomly-parked vehicles strewn about in the wildest of places. Oh, about the game? For all the talk about Mansfield's running game and the tweaking of the offense, this one comes down to the Hornets' defense. I was impressed by the methodical way they handled KP, and for that I'm giving them the edge here. Mansfield, 20-13


The skinny: Heading into a game with big Dual County Small implications, Weston quietly sits at the top of the league undefeated and allowing a Division 2A-best 6.9 points per game. Jarrett Rowe has emerged as a go-to guy the last few weeks for the Wildcats, with eight rushing touchdowns in the last three games. Concord-Carlisle answers with a stalwart back of their own in George Craan.

Barboza: I'm calling on a changing of the guard of sorts in the Dual County League. The Wildcats will also have Ian Bromfield back on the field to bolster the defense. Weston, 27-20

Hall: Win one for Walden Pond. Sounds cool, don't it? Nothing against Weston, but the Patriots' 28-9 win over Lincoln-Sudbury is by far the most impressive win on either team's schedule. C-C, 17-14

NO. 24 WALPOLE (7-0) AT NATICK (4-3), 7 P.M.

The skinny: The Red and Blue are smarting over last week's 32-26 loss to Weymouth, in addition to a three-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Rebels hold the Bay State Herget destiny in their hands. It will be interesting to see if Mark Mortarelli sticks with the latest Flutie to don the Natick uniform, freshman Troy, who threw for 190 yards and three touchdowns last week in his first career start. Walpole's offense enters the game averaging a robust 33 points per game.

Barboza: With a playoff berth on the line, you have to side with the Rebels to rise to the occasion. Walpole, 16-10

Hall: I really believe Troy Salvatore and Kenny Woods might be two of the fastest kids in the Bay State Conference. Certainly given the way Walpole's offense is clicking right now, I'm not betting against them. Walpole, 28-13


The skinny: The visiting Flyers, just as they did a year ago, appear to be picking up steam in the second half of the season. After starting the season 0-2, they've reeled off five straight wins, their last three by a combined 11 points. Needham has shown success through the air, whether it's Kevin Brennan or Drew Burnett, but has sputtered since beating Natick three weeks ago for the first time since 2004.

Barboza: The Flyers are dealing with the hot hand in the BSC, but I think the Rockets will be motivated after dropping one to Walpole last week. Needham, 24-17

Hall: Maybe this game doesn't have nearly as much significance if Weymouth takes care of business down the stretch. But the Flyers have shown a lot of grit these past few weeks. Framingham, 27-24.


The skinny: As if A.J. Doyle (11 touchdown passes) need any more weapons with Armani Reeves by his side, Camren Williams made his return to the lineup last weekend. That only multiplies the things Jim O'Leary's squad will have to worry about defensively on Saturday. Of course, when you have Tyler Coppola, who ranks fifth in Division I Eastern Mass ranks in scoring, anything is possible between these Catholic Conference rivals.

Barboza: I think the young Eagles' secondary will have a tough time dealing with the Knights' speed outside. But I've been proving wrong by them before. CM, 28-17

Hall: Gotta give the edge to the Prep in the trenches, but the Knights are also balanced on offense and can move the ball quickly when they put their athletes in space and stretch the defense. I think Cam Williams entering the fold will have a larger effect this week. Now I know CM is the higher-ranked team here, but given past history would this one qualify as an upset? CM, 14-13


The skinny: Joe Colton, Chris Tamasi, Mike Muir and the rest of the Xaverian defense have a tall task at hand if they are to avoid the program's first three-game losing streak in two decades. St. John's is clicking on all cylinders in what has been a balanced offense (345 yards per game), getting the bulk of its production from stalwarts Richard Rodgers (30 catches, 531 yards, 9 TD) and Dan Light (1,315 passing yards, 530 rushing yards, 29 total TD) but also solid contributions from running back John Vassar and receivers Chris Dulmaine and Efraim Montalvo.

Barboza: Hawks. Three-game losing streak. Those two ideas don't seem to mesh, but I think it's going to become reality. St. John's, 27-14

Hall: Sorry, just too much firepower for the Hawks to handle here. St. John's, 31-20


The skinny: Nobody's underestimating the visiting Eagles' defense after an impressive handling of Falmouth last weekend, and after what impressive showings the run game has had between Matt Walsh and Cody Merritt. But the secondary will be key as Barnstable will look to air it out behind junior quarterback D.J. Crook (1,909 passing yards, 23 touchdowns) and a stable of receivers led by seniors Jordan Henderson (42 catches, 726 yards, 8 TD) and Matt Delaney (41 catches, 664 yards, 8 TD).

Barboza: The Eagles have to play keep away with long sustained drives to keep Crook and Co. off the field. Plymouth North, 28-21

Hall: What's better than a Saturday night on the Cape? Great question. Anyways, the Eagles are going to be a tough matchup on defense and in the trenches, but we all know the Red Raiders can score in a hurry. And I do mean hurry. Barnstable, 35-28


No. 3 Brockton 28, Leominster 14

No. 4 Gloucester 31, Lynn English 17

No. 6 Reading 31, Burlington 13

No. 7 Methuen 24, Tewksbury 10

No. 11 Duxbury 21, Silver Lake 3

No. 15 Dracut 30, Andover 28

No. 17 Auburn 16, Shepherd Hill 0

Fitchburg 21, No. 18 Wachusett 19

No. 19 Falmouth 18, Marshfield 12

No. 25 Somerset 21, Durfee 7

Central Catholic 22, No. 23 Chelmsford 20

Cardinal Spellman 25, Bishop Fenwick 23

East Longmeadow 27, Holyoke 17

Franklin 20, Foxborough 14

Governor's Academy 21, Brooks 6

Lincoln-Sudbury 16, Westford 13

Lowell 42, Billerica 35

Martha's Vineyard 27, Bishop Feehan 16

Medway 24, Westwood 20

Milton Academy 13, Belmont Hill 0

Rivers 28, St. Mark's 12

Somerville 24, Malden 7