Week 5 preview and picks: Duxbury vs. Xaverian

The biggest game on the schedule takes place tomorrow on Clapboardtree Street in Westwood, as No. 2 Duxbury travels to meet No. 3 Xaverian. This is a huge opportunity for Xaverian, as the Hawks are also set to take on No. 1 Everett next week. That's a pretty clear path to the top spot — win both games and Xaverian will be the top team in the state. But that's much easier said than done. Duxbury has the kind of passing attack that could give the Xaverian defense some problems, as the Hawks' greatest strengths (size up front, run defense) could be neutralized.

I think this will come down to the final drive, with the deeper, better-conditioned team pulling ahead late.

The Game:

No. 2 Duxbury at No. 3 Xaverian

Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

The Players:

Duxbury — Senior quarterback Matt O'Keefe has been better than anyone could have hoped for this season, completing a high percentage and tossing 12 touchdowns through the first four games. He's also a playmaker, using his scrambling ability when his initial options are covered. Against the surging Xaverian pass rush, that could be a key factor in this game.

Xaverian — The Hawks will try to disrupt Duxbury's passing game by turning its defensive line loose to get after the QB. Defensive ends Colby Enegren and Matt Stapleton and defensive tackle Matt Hurst should have the green light to pin their ears back.

The Stakes:

Duxbury won't play another team as good as Xaverian, so a win for the Dragons would leave a wide open path to a Super Bowl title and a possible No. 1 ranking if Everett falters at any point. Xaverian, on the other hand, can control its own destiny — a win this week and a win next week against No. 1 Everett would leave the Hawks on top of the rankings.

The Prediction:

The Xaverian defense has allowed just 12 points this season, and I like their deep defensive line. I can see the pass rush disrupting Duxbury's timing just enough to cause frustration and more punts than the Dragons are used to. I think Xaverian jumps ahead early on the strength of a turnover, and by the time the Duxbury O figures things out and starts clicking in the second half, the rally will come up short.


Other notable games:

No. 5 Auburn at Shepherd Hill

Dan Flink goes nuts to the tune of 150-plus rushing yards and the Rockets roll.

Auburn 35, Shepherd Hill 6

Tewksbury at Billerica

Billerica's offense has been inconsistent, but QB Nick LaSpada makes enough plays to win this one.

Billerica 21, Tewksbury 14

Taunton at No. 1 Everett

Look for the Crimson Tide to fire up the running game and put this one away early.

Everett 38, Taunton 12