ESPN Boston football sectional final picks



No. 2 Westfield at No. 1 Springfield Central, Friday 7 p.m.

Scott Barboza: Closer the second time around, but this is still the Golden Eagles’ to win. Central, 32-21.

Brendan Hall: Central is the most talented team I’ve seen across Division 2 this season, and they made pretenders out of Westfield (52-13) in their first meeting two weeks ago. That Bombers squad is not as bad as the one that showed up in that first battle, but Central is just simply that good. The Golden Eagles win out, setting up the Game of the Year next week out in Westfield, for the D2 Central/West state semifinal. Central, 30-17.


No. 2 Agawam at No. 1 Wahconah, Friday 6 p.m.

Barboza: Before the West playoffs started, I predicted the Warriors to come away with the ‘W’ in the battle of undefeateds. Wahconah, 21-16.

Hall: The Brownies’ feel-good story continues. Agawam, 22-14.


No. 2 Hoosac Valley at No. 1 Easthampton, Friday 7:15 p.m.

Barboza: With the Eagles averaging over 350 rushing yards a game throughout the season, I’m going with the top seed holding serve. Easthampton, 26-14.

Hall: What an impressive display by Easthampton last week, putting up 56 points on Springfield Cathedral, close to a Western Mass. record. I like them rolling here, building off of last week’s momentum. Easthampton, 28-10.


No. 4 Turners Falls at No. 2 Mohawk, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: The Warriors needed overtime to avoid Franklin Tech’s bid last week. It’ll be close again, but same result. Mohawk, 20-14.

Hall: This bracket hasn’t gone as predicted. Mohawk coach Doug McCloud wasn’t afraid to admit luck was on their side after beating Franklin County Tech in overtime last week, but sometimes luck, as Billy Beane might say, is where opportunity meets preparation. Mohawk, 18-12.




No. 2 St. John's (Shrewsbury) at No. 1 Leominster, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Expect the Pioneers offense to come out firing after a sluggish start in the teams’ first meeting, but the Blue Devils claim their sixth straight. Leominster, 32-28.

Hall: As I wrote about earlier this week, St. John’s was pretty successful hitting the screens in the first meeting, a 33-22 Leominster win. Still, this Leominster secondary has stifled some of the state’s top passing attacks all season long. As long as Neil O’Connor and Jarell Addo are back there, I don’t see the Blue Devils surrendering this game. But it will be much closer. Leominster, 28-26.


No. 3 Doherty at No. 1 Shepherd Hill, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: As prognosticated from season’s start, the Highlanders are another step closer to the state title. Doherty, 27-20.

Hall: Shepherd Hill has the advantage in the trenches, but Doherty is going to try and take this game out of the tackle box. We know Drew Jean-Guillaume will be up to the task, but the biggest question will be if the Shepherd Hill secondary is deep enough to hang with the Highlanders’ perimeter athletes. I say no, contrary to what our friend “Aidan From Worcester” may tell you. Doherty, 34-22.


No. 6 Bartlett at No. 4 Northbridge, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Is this the one when Ken LaChapelle installs his elusive pass-only playbook? Northbridge, 34-24.

Hall: Rams hold the advantage at the line of scrimmage, with Tom Tabur and Connor Gallo leading the point of attack. Hard to believe Northbridge quarterback Coby Schofer is only a sophomore –- boy, is he going to be fun to watch these next few years. Northbridge, 27-20.


No. 2 Blackstone Valley Tech at No. 1 Littleton, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Don’t call it an upset. Blackstone Valley Tech, 7-6.

Hall: If we did an All-Lunch Pail Team, BVT quarterback Nic Wojnar would be first ballot. Blackstone Valley Tech, 17-7.




No. 2 Central Catholic at No. 1 Everett, Saturday 1:30 p.m.

Barboza: It’s going to be close, but I can’t pick against Everett now, can I? Not even I can be that crazy. Everett, 21-17.

Hall: If Isaiah Davis isn’t a go at running back for Everett, that changes the whole offensive dynamic. Still, this defense has improved a lot since the Xaverian loss in September, with last week’s shutout of Lowell one of its hallmarks. Central has plenty of weapons to go to, but bottom line I just don’t see John DiBiaso getting out-coached here. Everett, 16-14.


No. 4 Lincoln-Sudbury at No. 3 Waltham, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: It’s a de facto changing of the guard, spurred on by Dana Parello. Waltham, 14-13.

Hall: Two Dual County League rivals going at each other for a district title. Again, please tell me how this is a bad thing. Gimme L-S’ playoff experience in this battle. L-S, 18-10.


No. 5 Woburn at No. 2 Melrose, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Malik Garrett continues his terrific multi-faceted play under center. Melrose, 20-14.

Hall: Melrose’s offense has gone nuclear in these playoffs, averaging 48 points per game with Malik Garrett (549 offensive yards, 7 total TD) using his quick feet to slickly operate a fluid zone read triple option scheme. I don’t see the Red Raiders slowing down this week. Melrose, 35-21.


No. 2 Marblehead at No. 1 Tewksbury, Saturday 1:30 p.m.

Barboza: A backfield of three beats a backfield of one. Tewksbury, 32-28.

Hall: Tewksbury’s defense will have to watch for the draw play – Brooks Tyrrell, one of the state’s leading rushers, has been pretty successful with it. But going the other way, the Redmen’s offense is so difficult to scout on a short week, and the ability to go to three or four different athletes complicates it further. Whereas the Magicians have had a letdown or two, Tewksbury hasn’t let off the gas pedal since the first day of the preseason. This is the Redmen’s year. Tewksbury, 35-20.


No. 3 Bedford at No. 1 Pentucket, Saturday 1:30 p.m.

Barboza: This one feels pretty even, but Olan Abner’s the difference. Bedford, 21-20.

Hall: Olan Abner might be the most talented running back Bedford has had since the Carter brothers, Woody and Ryan. Pentucket is about to find out just what that means. Bedford, 23-17.


No. 2 Northeast Regional at No. 1 Bishop Fenwick, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: It’s Nick Bona’s time to shine with Rufus Rushins on the mend. Fenwick, 28-21.

Hall: Rufus Rushins might be hobbled, but Fenwick hasn’t skipped a beat, with Nick Bona just taking games over so far. The Crusaders were my pick to win state going into these playoffs, and I won’t back down now. Bishop Fenwick, 29-14.


No. 4 Boston Latin Academy at No. 2 St. Clement, Saturday 6 p.m. (at Dilboy Stadium)

Barboza: Got an email from an Anchormen fan earlier in the week, wondering why we doubted them at each turn. Well, I guess I’ll do my public service of continuing to provide bulletin board fodder. Latin, 14-6.

Hall: Suddenly Khaneil Bruce and St. Clement are the darlings of the tournament with its upset of state title favorite Cathedral last week, but they’re still going to have their hands full trying to solve Kyle Dance –- on both sides of the ball. Latin Academy, 22-12.




No. 2 Attleboro at No. 1 Xaverian, Saturday 1 p.m.

Barboza: Tommy Burns, a consistent doer of all the little things that contribute to winning football, is the difference. Attleboro, 28-27.

Hall: Attleboro loves to take big shots downfield, with big-play QB Tim Walsh, and Damon Belin has had himself a breaking out party these playoffs at tailback. If the Blue Bombardiers can put Xaverian on its heels early, I feel they have the strength to close this one out and deliver a big upset that isn’t actually that big. Attleboro, 30-20.


No. 2 Barnstable at No. 1 Mansfield, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: I’ve dreaded making this pick all week long – two immoveable objects coming to head. In this scenario, I’m deferring back to my original pre-playoff state championship pick. Mansfield, 30-27.

Hall: The screen game, which Barnstable showed signs of progress with last week, could be a big factor here. I hope everybody appreciates what a special matchup this is, two of the state’s best game planners matching wits with two of the state’s most elite (and versatile) athletes. Barnstable, 20-17.


No. 2 Stoughton at No. 1 Oliver Ames, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: I guarantee this game will not be the rout it was in the first go-around. I see the same result, however. Oliver Ames, 30-24.

Hall: I know the first meeting ended up pretty lopsided, but this Stoughton squad has taken on a different dynamic since Malachi Baugh went down. I think it will be much tougher to take down the Black Knights this time around. Stoughton, 24-17.


No. 3 Plymouth North at No. 1 Plymouth South, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Not a whole lot of secrets to hide here; it simply comes down to execution and winning the point of attack. South, 16-14.

Hall: There might be eight possessions total in this game. And on top of that, I expect an unreal crowd. Plymouth South, 14-13.


No. 4 Holliston at No. 2 Dennis-Yarmouth, Friday 6 p.m.

Barboza: Athletes galore and plenty of fireworks set to display here. Sit back with popcorn in hand. D-Y, 34-31.

Hall: Holliston impressed me last week with the way they systematically dismantled archrival Westwood, after a classic double-overtime loss earlier in the season. The question, in my opinion, is whether they can handle D-Y’s tempo. What’s that? Holliston plays fast too? Awesome, should be a ton of points in this one then. D-Y, 38-35.


No. 2 Abington at No. 1 Old Rochester, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: The Green Wave keep cresting with the return of Matt Kilmain to game action last week. Abington, 30-26.

Hall: The Green Wave’s three horses are better than Old Rochester’s one. As a side note, I’d like to express my disappointment that the “Joey Glynn Burger” is no longer on the menu at Abington Ale House. Touching tributes notwithstanding, it was just plain good. Abington, 18-12.


No. 3 Millis/Hopedale at No. 1 Cohasset, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Mohawks complete their sectional championship run after premature reports of demise in Jon Baker’s absence. M/H, 26-20.

Hall: Remember how we all wrote off M-H following the season-ending injury to Jon Baker? How they’d fall back to earth? Credit to Dale Olmsted and his coaching staff, the Mohawks haven’t skipped a beat. What a statement a win here would make about program depth, and the perceived lack of it in Millis following the loss of Baker. M/H, 31-21.


Last Week’s Picks:

Barboza: 8-5 (82-34 overall)

Hall: 9-4 (84-32 overall)