Week 1 of the football season is finally upon us. Here are five games we're looking for, with predictions from staff writers Brendan Hall and Scott Barboza, along with predicted scores on the other games you should be paying attention to.
BC HIGH AT BROCKTON, 7 p.m.
The skinny: Annually one of the best games of the opening weekend, both teams enter the 2010 season with loads of hype. Last season, Brockton beat the Eagles 27-3, breaking their back in the third quarter with a 92-yard kickoff return score from Miami-bound Albert Louis-Jean. He’s back, but BC High should be more prepared this time around, and have a stellar defensive line led by UConn-bound Obum Obukwelu.
Hall: Boxers have enough speedy personnel to wear down the Eagles’ secondary late in the game. Also look out for unheralded Brockton receiver Jerrod Shelby, also known as “Bubba”. Brockton, 20-14
Barboza: While it wouldn’t be prudent to take our preseason No. 4, BC High, over our preseason No. 1, Brockton and it’s not because I don’t think the Eagles aren’t capable of going toe-to-toe with the Boxers, I just think Brockton has the ability to put more points on the board than BC High does — bar none. But it will be interesting to see how the Boxers offensive line holds up against a rather big Eagles D-line. Brockton, 16-7
EVERETT AT LEOMINSTER, 7 p.m.
The skinny: Another time-honored traditional gathering between two of the state’s elite programs. Last season, the Blue Devils traveled to Everett and almost came away with the upset, losing 14-6, in what was undoubtedly a down year for the Crimson Tide. Manny Asprilla, Matt Costello, Jonathan DiBiaso Jr. and Shaquille Taylor are all a year more mature under a new spread scheme; but Leominster has several quality weapons themselves in tight end Kevin O’Connor and tailback Cortez Ludden.
Hall: Last year was Leominster’s best chance to beat the Tide. Everett, 28-10
Barboza: As much as I like Everett’s offense entering this year, the spread attack requires good timing between quarterback and receivers. So I think the Crimson Tide might be a little sluggish to start in game No. 1, but ultimately have enough to topple Leominster. Everett, 24-10
DUXBURY AT BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM, 4 p.m.
The skinny: A match-up of last year’s EMass Division IA runner up and Division IIA playoff entrant from last year. The Trojans took it to the Dragons in last year’s meeting on opening night, with a 28-7 win at B-R. However, Duxbury returns an more experienced team this year and quarterback Kane Haffey and Matt O’Keefe will offer a tough test for the young Trojans secondary.
Hall: Two well-coached, consistent programs. But I like Dan Buron’s play-calling moxie late in this one. B-R, 14-10
Barboza: A game that will truly be won and lost in the trenches. How will Duxbury move on from life with Aaron Kramer? And how does B-R cope with the loss of Julius Allen? We’ll find out soon enough. This one’s a squeaker. Duxbury, 10-7
SWAMPSCOTT AT GLOUCESTER, 7 p.m.
The skinny: Gloucester kicks off its Division 1A title defense with a visit from the Big Blue, who are never afraid to chuck the ball and maintain a pretty capable stable of wideouts to prove it. A.J. Baker and Peter Yasi can pose matchup problems to many a secondary, but the Fishermen are ready with playmaking defenders like Chris Unis, Andrew Mizzoni and Anthony LaTassa.
Hall: Steve Dembowski sees his personnel and will make this a shootout, but the Fish have weapons, too.
Barboza: Dembowski makes terrific in-game adjustments, but the Fishermen will simply be too much for Swampscott.Gloucester, 21-14
HOLY NAME AT ST. JOHN’S, 7 p.m.
The skinny: All the hype in Central Mass is in Shrewsbury, where Cal-bound wideout/defensive end Richard Rodgers has been putting on a clinic seemingly since he first arrived on campus. Dan Light takes over full-time at quarterback, while the Pioneers will also feature a quality defensive line again. Holy Name is forever short on numbers, but long on toughness; the Naps always give St. John’s one of their toughest games of the year.
Hall: Rodgers hauls in a miracle bounce late to win it, just like in ’08. St. John’s, 9-8
Barboza: Brendan thinks they’ll grind it out. I’m looking for the Pioneers to open it up some. St. John’s, 28-14
Billerica 28, Burlington 7
Chelmsford 24, Waltham 10
North Attleborough 21, Dartmouth 7
Taunton 28, Dennis-Yarmouth 21
Dracut 30, Marshfield 25
Methuen 21, Plymouth North 14
Falmouth 10, Foxboro 7
Franklin 17, Milford 0
Hingham 31, Christ the King (N.Y.) 21
King Philip 35, Wayland 31
Lynn English 31, Lawrence 28
Westford 21, Lexington 0
Lincoln-Sudbury 14, Tewksbury 10
Masconomet 24, Lowell 7
Catholic Memorial 24, Lynn Classical 20
Mansfield 27, Aquinas Institute (N.Y.) 20
Central Catholic 28, Marlborough 10
Apponequet 20, Middleborough 10
Northbridge 34, Millbury 21
Walpole 17, Newton North 3
Andover 28, North Andover 14
New Bedford 21, Wareham 3
Framingham 31, Wellesley 17
Acton-Boxboro 21, Woburn 7
Barnstable 27, Durfee 7
Medway 21, Norton 17