No. 13 WESTFIELD (4-0) at LONGMEADOW (2-2), Friday 7 p.m.
Scott Barboza: This will be made by free word association: ground-and-pound, ball control, black and blue. Westfield, 14-7.
Brendan Hall: The Longmeadow defense I saw last Friday was a much different feel from the one that got crushed by Agawam in its opening week. The defensive ends put a lot of pressure on the Springfield Central tackles, and the secondary was pretty physical with the receivers. Besides Central, this will be Westfield's best test to date, and I think both sides bear all the requisite tools to create a muck-it-up type of game. Expect a low-scoring affair. Westfield, 10-6.
NASHOBA (3-1) at MARLBOROUGH (4-0), Friday 7 p.m.
Barboza: As one team’s unbeaten streak comes to an end, the other attempts to build another win streak. Nashoba, 27-17.
Hall: Obviously St. John's of Shrewsbury is among the elite spread offenses, but it looked like the Pioneers exposed some flaws in the Nashoba defense last week with their 49-21 win. Marlborough is a quiet 4-0 riding the hot hand of quarterback John Rumney and Jose Caquias. Expect big contributions from both. Marlborough, 28-24.
No. 25 PLYMOUTH SOUTH (3-1) at NAUSET (3-1), Friday 7 p.m.
Barboza: Revenge is a dish best served cold. Nauset, 22-21.
Hall: This one hinges on the health of All-State tailback Dylan Oxsen. If he's a go, they are a wagon in the running game, riding his sturdy shoulders. If he's out, the Panthers seem to look mortal, as evidenced by last week's loss to Dennis-Yarmouth. Also factor in last year's incredible ending, when Oxsen converted a 62-yard hook and ladder in the final eight seconds to win their first ACL title. Vengeance figures to be heavy on the minds in Eastham. Nauset, 14-12.
AUSTIN PREP (4-0) at BISHOP FENWICK (4-0), Friday 7 p.m.
Barboza: A couple weeks back, AP slowed down perhaps the CCL’s most potent rushing attack at St. Mary’s. They’ll need another similar effort to stop the Crusaders and Rufus Rushins. Fenwick, 31-21.
Hall: Anybody catch the number of that train that ran through Cardinal Spellman last week? Bishop Fenwick, 30-21.
FRANKLIN (2-2) at No. 18 KING PHILIP (4-0), Friday 7 p.m.
Barboza: The Panthers spread can give even the best units fits, but this KP defense is game. KP, 20-7.
Hall: Franklin's offense has been helter skelter, looking brilliant some weeks (see: Framingham) and stagnant in others (see: New Bedford). Not sure which Panthers team shows up on Friday night, but this KP linebacking corps is among the state's best. Schematically, you just know Brian Lee is going to cook up something freaky for this one. It is a traditional Thanksgiving rivalry, after all. KP, 21-7.
No. 6 LEOMINSTER (4-0) at No. 17 DOHERTY (4-0), Friday 7 p.m.
Barboza: How will the Blue Devils match up with Isaac Yiadom? That’s the most interesting aspect (and there are many) leading into Friday’s duel. Leominster, 27-21.
Hall: In its first two games, Leominster's secondary bottled up elite receivers Davon Jones and Jack Galvin until the lead was in hand. And it wasn't by matching up its best defensive back against their best receiver. I don't imagine the Blue Devils will match up here, but Boston College commit Isaac Yiadom presents a different look for Doherty, having a hand in the run game as well. The Highlanders would send shockwaves throughout the region if they can escape Foley Stadium with a win here; but they're matching wits with an offensive wizard here in Dave Palazzi, which thus far has proven a tall task. Leominster, 34-24.
No. 15 BROCKTON (2-2) at No. 5 XAVERIAN (3-1), Saturday 1 p.m.
Barboza: Special teams come to bear in a matchup such as this, and the Hawks have been so consistent in that regard in the early going. Xaverian, 13-10.
Hall: Brockton could use the points here if they want to get a first-round home playoff game in D1 South, but they need to have a much better showing offensively than last week's dud, when they put up just 112 yards from scrimmage. While Xaverian presents a similar matchup to that BC High team that shout out Brockton last week, they are a bit more creative, and are unafraid to dial up a home run play early. I think that's the difference here. Xaverian, 20-6.
BB&N (3-0) at LAWRENCE ACADEMY (1-2), Saturday 1:30 p.m.
Barboza: Power football prevails. BB&N, 14-7.
Hall: On paper, Lawrence Academy has the decisive edge. But this is a big rivalry within the ISL, and somehow BB&N coach John Papas thrives as the underdog in these games. BB&N, 23-20.
METHUEN (4-1) at No. 14 TEWKSBURY (4-0), Saturday 1:30 p.m.
Barboza: Using the template of Haverhill’s win over the Rangers from a week ago, the Redmen are able to exert the same kind pressure with their ground game. Tewksbury, 17-14.
Hall: Matovu. Sullivan. Aylward. Dick. Pick your poison. Tewksbury, 24-10.
HYDE (MAINE) (1-2)At DEXTER (3-0), Saturday 2 p.m.
Barboza: Check out some of the highlights from our Player of the Week interview with Dexter QB Luke Cuneo from earlier this week...Dare I say, Flutie-esque. Dexter, 31-27.
Hall: Excited to see a few former MIAA guys at Hyde, namely Sean Smerczynski and Chris Collins, and how they've progressed. But the fun is in this Dexter offense, with two bookend FBS-bound tackles allowing Luke Cuneo to dart around the pocket and create plays. Boy can this kid throw. Dexter, 36-28.
MILTON ACADEMY (3-0) at ROXBURY LATIN (1-2), Saturday 2 p.m.
Barboza: Another game to prove why the Mustangs are the class of the ISL thus far. Circle Saturday, Oct. 26 for the deciding game for the league crown, against still undefeated Governor’s. Milton Academy, 24-17.
Hall: I'm predicting another big day for Drew Jacobs. Milton Academy, 17-7.
GAME OF THE WEEK – No. 16 LOWELL (3-1) at No. 12 CENTRAL CATHOLIC (3-1), Friday 7 p.m.
Barboza: I think if Lowell’s able to dictate the pace here (i.e. turn the game into a track meet), it favors them. Central can match their athletes pound-for-pound, but I think Lowell brings more big strike capabilities. Plus, it’s not time to waffle on my earlier season MVC pick. Lowell, 41-36.
Hall: Tempo will be a factor here only if Central Catholic, which can slow the clock with some ground and pound, allows it to be. Leominster laid out a unique blueprint for stalling this frenetic Lowell offense, taking the Red Raiders by surprise with a "double wing" package and holding on to the ball for over 17 of the game's first 22 minutes. Still, I think Central has the horses to win a track meet here, but the key will be picking up Lowell's 3-5 defense and its crafty blitz schemes, which sometimes seem to border on the exotic. Central, 38-35.
Last Week’s Picks:
Barboza: 8-5 (39-21 overall)
Hall: 9-4 (40-20 overall)