NO. 23 CENTRAL CATHOLIC (6-1) AT LOWELL (6-1)
The Skinny: Both teams enter with a 1-0 MVC record, coming off their first league games last week. Lowell rolled over Billerica 56-34 while Central Catholic slipped past Chelmsford 28-21. Cam Latta has picked up where R.J. Noel left off at quarterback this year for Lowell at quarterback, throwing for 12 touchdowns and running for seven more. Central Catholic running back Santino Brancato leads the Raiders with eight touchdowns on the season, none bigger than his final score last week with 41 seconds remaining which was the game-winner over Chelmsford.
Scott Barboza: This will be high-scoring, but relatively tame by MVC standards. Central, 34-28.
Brendan Hall: Because Lowell can score in bunches, and because it's the MVC, take the over. Central Catholic, 38-31.
NO. 13 ANDOVER (7-0) AT CHELMSFORD (4-3)
The Skinny: After a hot start, Chelmsford is trying to snap a three-game losing streak and risk falling behind in the competitive Merrimack Valley Conference's large division. They'll have their hands full against one of the state's most prolific offenses, averaging nearly 400 yards and 39 points per game, between quarterback C.J. Scarpa and receivers Andrew Deloury, Will Heikkinen and Cam Farnham.
Barboza: I think the Lions will try to play ball control for a while, but that can only last so long against the high-octane Andover offense. Andover, 42-31.
Hall: Do you see a recurring theme with our MVC picks? Offense, offense, offense. Andover, 40-35.
LINCOLN-SUDBURY (6-1) AT WESTFORD (6-1)
The Skinny: Like several other key league matchups this weekend, this matchup can potentially put one team in the driver's seat for the Dual County Large title. It's no secret what L-S brings to the table, but workhorse Chris Giorgio is among the league's toughest running backs. Westford counters with jack-of-all-trades athlete Justin Mount, who fills multiple roles on both sides of the ball.
Barboza: Picked the Warriors to win the DCL Large in the preseason and I'm not about to step back now. But the Warriors get it done by a chin. L-S, 14-13.
Hall: Flip a coin in this one. I landed on the Ghosts. Westford, 24-17.
NO. 9 BROCKTON (4-3) AT NO. 14 LEOMINSTER (5-2)
The Skinny: Each of these teams received a boost in different ways last week. The Boxers saw the return of their starting quarterback and emotional leader Auggie Roberts in a drubbing of Big Three rival Durfee. Meanwhile, a Blue Devils offense that has had its troubles in recent weeks, shook off the rust to muster a gut-check, two-minute drive to pull out a last-second victory at Central Mass. rival St. John’s of Shrewsbury, led by quarterback Garrett DelleChiaie. Now, both teams meet in a non-league, late-season measuring stick game to see just how far these offenses have come. Not to mention, both teams can really lay the lumber on defense.
Barboza: Blue Devils ride the wave of momentum. Leominster, 28-20.
Hall: It won't be a shutout, but it won't be as shocking an upset when the Blue Devils take two straight for the first time in...help, anyone? Leominster, 21-14.
HINGHAM (6-1) AT NO. 6 DUXBURY (7-0)
The Skinny: An eagerly awaited battle for the inside edge at the Patriot League Keenan division title, the competition should be as fierce at the tailgate as it will be on the field when the Dragons put their Eastern Mass. best 33-game winning streak on the line. A stout Duxbury defense, led by Mr. Football Award challenger Marshall McCarthy will have its hands full with the Harbormen’s wing-T and backfield led by Ricky Sullivan.
Barboza: The Dragons run their streak to 34 games, but it won’t be without difficulty. Duxbury, 13-7.
Hall: As usual, the Dragons will pull something together in the second half and do just enough to win. Duxbury, 20-17.
NEEDHAM (5-2) AT NO. 10 NATICK (7-0)
The Skinny: After a solid start to the season, Needham is now looking to avoid a two-game losing skid and dropping three of its last five. What better an opponent to try to snap the skid than against one of the state's prolific offenses, led by quarterback Troy Flutie (1,477 passing yards, 19 TD, 4 INT; 555 rushing yards, 7 TD) and receiver Brian Dunlap (41 catches, 784 yards, 11 TD). Needham is also coming off a 31-0 shutout loss to a Walpole squad that was missing its top running back to injury.
Barboza: No chance the Red Hawks aren't undefeated setting up a winner-take-all against Walpole. Can't wait. Natick, 31-17.
Hall: Every time we predict a high-scoring affair involving a Bay State team, it never goes as planned. So I'm going with something fairly pedestrian. Natick, 21-12.
NO. 19 MANSFIELD (5-2) AT NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH (4-3)
The Skinny: The Red Rocketeers will need a win to keep pace with Mansfield (2-0) in the Kelley-Rex division race. The X-factor will be the availability of senior running back and defensive back Alex Jette. While it’s expected Jette will play, the extent to which he’ll be able to contribute is very much up in the air. Still, North is readily able to move the ball on the ground thanks to a physical offensive line anchored by left tackle Eric Beckwith. Mansfield got off to a great start in last week’s blowout of King Philip and the Red Rocketeers’ secondary will have its hands full with playmakers Brendan Hill and Mike Hershman. The Hornets have seen junior linebacker Alexander Ruddy (team-leading 55 tackles, 8 TFL) embrace a larger role this year.
Barboza: In each of the team’s last four meetings, the AWAY team has collected the victory. Not about to buck the recent trend. Mansfield, 26-21.
Hall: Per tradition, the away team wins this one with an epic possession in the final five minutes. Mansfield, 20-13.
NO. 22 KING PHILIP (6-1) AT ATTLEBORO (4-3)
The Skinny: King Philip was soundly delivered a rude awakening a week ago at Mansfield, in a 46-33 loss, and now looks to avoid falling behind in the Hockomock's Kelly-Rex division by extending Attleboro's losing streak. The skid currently stands at three games for the Bombardiers after a 4-0 start, and can't seem to get over the hump -- take, for instance, Malique Clark's nearly 300-yard rushing performance in a 44-41 loss to Franklin last week. An Attleboro win would surely create even more confusion at the top of the division.
Barboza: Warriors defense gets back on track, but it won't be easy against Clark. KP, 21-14.
Hall: I'm all for chaos when it comes to Hockomock bracketology. Get out your TI-83's, folks. Attleboro, 30-20.
WAKEFIELD (6-1) AT STONEHAM (7-0)
The Skinny: It's been a long time since Stoneham has had this good of a start, but the Spartans still face questions about a perceived weak schedule. This is their chance to prove doubters wrong, with defensively-sound Wakefield coming off a 33-0 shutout loss to Burlington.
Barboza: In a word, "SPARRRTAAAHHHHHH!" Stoneham, 20-16.
Hall: Because what the heck, I love rolling the dice, and I want to keep my boss and resident Stoneham-ite Dave Lefort happy. Stoneham, 17-13.
MILTON ACADEMY (3-2) AT BELMONT HILL (3-2)
The Skinny: The Mustangs and Hillies are looking to break free from a logjam of 3-2 teams in the middle of the ISL standings. Milton Academy is led by junior Drew Jacobs, who already has four multi-touchdown games this season. The Mustangs also have one of the biggest offensive weapons in the ISL on the foot of place kicker Justin Yoon.
Barboza: Yoon’s foot provides the difference. Milton Academy, 13-10.
Hall: Let me preface this by saying Justin Yoon can kick for anyone any day of the week. Belmont Hill, 14-10.
ROXBURY LATIN (4-1) AT BB&N (3-2)
The Skinny: Its hopes of an undefeated season no more, Roxbury Latin looks to get back on the saddle and stay in contention for the ISL championship and a NEPSAC Bowl berth. A win here over the Knights, with its solid line and elite target in Wake Forest-bound tight end Brendan O'Neil, would bolster those odds. And the Foxes have the horses to do it, led by Boston College-bound quarterback MacKay Lowrie.
Barboza: Knights can take advantage of the matchup along the line of scrimmage. They'll win the point of attack battle. BB&N, 28-27.
Hall: I'll never count out a John Papas-coached team as long as the guy is in the business, but Latin can win track meets. Roxbury Latin, 35-30.