Our preseason rankings of the best teams in the state, as selected by our panel of staff writers and correspondents. (Updated 9/19)
1. Duxbury (2-0; Last Week – 3) Say what you will about a Division 2 program being ranked above the top names in the state, but Duxbury did dismantle D1 power Bridgewater-Raynham one week before the Trojans snapped Xaverian’s 25-game winning streak on the road.
2. Xaverian (1-1; Last Week – 1) The defending champs wound up on the wrong side of a second consecutive close contest, losing 22-21 to Bridgewater-Raynham last Friday night. There doesn’t seem to be the same air of invincibility surrounding this year’s Xaverian team.
3. Everett (1-1; Last Week – 2) After taking care of business with a 51-20 win over New Bedford in Week 2, Everett will prepare to run a gauntlet with games against St. John’s Prep and Billerica scheduled over the next two weeks.
4. Central Catholic (2-0; Last Week – 4) With a stellar defense to compliment Bret Edwards and a capable offense, the Raiders are true D1 State Title contenders. A narrow 21-14 victory at St. John’s Prep last Saturday proved as much.
5. Billerica (2-0; Last Week – 5) Another team with an impressive win in Week 2, the Indians shut down a high-powered Andover offense for three quarters before holding on in the face of a late comeback effort.
6. BC High (1-0; Last Week – 6) Idle from game action this week, the Eagles will prepare for a tough stretch against Leominster and Brockton in Weeks 3 and 4. Star running back Danny Abraham will look to follow up a breakout game that helped him earn an offer from Boston College.
7. Bridgewater-Raynham (1-1; Last Week – 22) With head coach Dan Buron back on the sidelines, the Trojans pulled off an incredible upset to down Xaverian 22-21 last Friday night.
8. St. John's (Shrewsbury) (2-0; Last Week – 10) The Pioneers dominated the second half to down Shepherd Hill 44-20 last Friday in a reverse of their second half collapse during a narrow win over Catholic Memorial in Week 1. This team is capable of great things if they can put together 44 minutes of solid football.
9. Leominster (2-0; Last Week – 8) Blue Devils survived a scare at the hands of regional rival Oakmont, and held on for a 30-20 victory last Friday. Up next is a huge road test at BC High.
10. St. John's Prep (1-1; Last Week – 7) The future is bright for Prep with junior quarterback Mike Yarin flashing plenty of upside, but the Eagles struggled at home against another elite opponent, as they fell 21-14 to Central Catholic last Saturday.
11. Springfield Central (1-1; Last Week – 14) After losing in a 48-40 shootout against La Salle Academy (R.I.) in their opener, the Golden Eagles took out their frustrations with a 53-6 drubbing of East Longmeadow.
12. Catholic Memorial (1-1; Last Week – 12) Knights rode the momentum of a strong finish at St. John’s (Shrewsbury) last week, as they steamrolled Hartford (Vt.), 34-6, on the road last Friday.
13. Holliston (2-0; Last Week – 14) The Panthers played up against Division 1A program Lincoln-Sudbury this week and handled the Warriors by a final of 30-20.
14. Brockton (2-0; Last Week – 11) Managing just 14 points in a narrow overtime win over Weymouth certainly raises some red flags for the Boxers, who will lean on a solid running attack all year, but might not have the versatility to compete with the state’s elite.
15. King Philip (2-0; Last Week – 18) With convincing wins over two conference rivals in North Attleborough and Foxborough, the Warriors are proving that they’re not just contenders for the Kelley-Rex Division Title, but a potential Division 1A South Title this year.
16. Tewksbury (2-0; Last Week – 17) Brian Aylward’s creative offense continued to put points on the board, but the Redmen were even more impressive defensively during a 21-0 shutout of Methuen last Friday.
17. Reading (1-1; Last Week – 16) The Rockets couldn’t get much going against Central Catholic’s loaded defense in Week 1, but they found plenty of running room during a 37-13 victory over Acton-Boxborough this past Friday.
18. Andover (0-2; Last Week – 9) Strength of schedule must be considered, but the Golden Warriors’ inability to stop the run or get much of a ground attack going over their first two contests should be quite disconcerting for Andover fans.
19. Milton (2-0; Last Week – 19) “Demball” appears to be alive and well, as Milton pasted Quincy 34-0 in another impressive offensive performance. Up next for the Wildcats is a tough test at Walpole.
20. North Attleborough (1-1; Last Week – 20) Chad Peterson and company found their rhythm in Week 2 with a 34-0 pasting of regional rival Bishop Feehan.
21. Mansfield (1-1; Last Week – 23) The Hornets bounced back in a big way after dropping an out-of-state tilt, as they handled an excellent Braintree team 34-10 on the Wamps home turf.
22. Haverhill (1-1; Last Week – NA) Utilizing a couple of transfers from North Andover along with a stocked senior class, the Hillies dominated the Scarlet Knights 34-7 in a tough road environment last Friday.
23. Melrose (1-1; Last Week – 15) The Red Raiders had Waltham’s offense pinned down throughout most of their Week 2 tilt, but a 92-yard kick return touchdown from senior Anthony DiGenova in the game’s final minute handed Melrose a stunning 15-14 defeat.
24. Danvers (2-0; Last Week – 24) The Falcons continued to pile up yards on the ground in a 30-14 win over Lynnfield in Week 2. They’ll host rival Marblehead next Friday in a litmus test for both programs.
25. Marshfield (2-0; Last Week – NA) While the Rams graduated a ton of talent last spring, one constant remains in head coach Lou Silva, and so far he’s guided this young group to a huge win over Cranston (R.I.) and a 21-13 victory at Stoughton.
Last 10 Out: Braintree (1-1), Dartmouth (2-0), Falmouth (2-0), Grafton (2-0), Hanover (2-0), Marblehead (2-0), Nashoba (1-1), Natick (2-0), Shrewsbury (1-1), Westford Academy (2-0)