As we prepare for tomorrow's Super 8 seedings meeting in Franklin (2 p.m.), here's one man's opinion of what might unfold.
Much like we did last year, we're going to strive to be at every single moment of the Super 8 tournament, capturing all the action on the High School Sports Blog and taping all the highlights for relaunched Super 8 Central.
Also, we'll have live updates in this space tomorrow afternoon during the meeting. Stick with us for all the latest from Franklin.
We admittedly didn't see as many regular-season games as we would have liked (blame the Patriots' question for perfection in part for that), but here's what we've gleaned from everything we've seen and read this winter:
1. Catholic Memorial: Do we even need to offer a reason here? The Knights were clearly the best team in the region this winter and, once again, they're the clear-cut favorite entering the Super 8 tournament. Now, we thought the Knights were a wrecking ball last year when they rumbled into the tournament at 14-2-2, so there's always upset potential.
2. St. John's Prep: Two wins over BC High make the Prep a virtual lock, even if they only mustered one other win in Catholic Conference play. Heck, that was good enough for second place in the league. The Eagles can score in bunches (ask Waltham or Austin Prep) and have a rock-solid goalie in Kyle Pettoruto to compliment.
3. BC High: Can we just point out that the Eagles, defending Super 8 champs, entered last year's shindig with a 12-4-4 record. This year? They're 11-4-5 and boast a goalie who's only given up more than two goals to St. John's Prep in the new year.
4. Reading: That 20-1 record sure is glossy, but color us skeptical until the Rockets win a Super 8 game. Last year was a massive disappointment after Reading, seeded sixth, lost three games in round-robin play by a combined score of 15-5. As one person in Reading told us recently, "The Rockets are a little better this year, so who knows what could happen?" It's true that Reading brings back much of its talent, but will they emerge as true contenders this year? We'd feel more confident if the locals were telling us they were, "a lot better" this winter.
Pleading for top 6 seeding
5. Waltham: The Hawks probably wish they could hit the reset button on a couple of games this winter. A loss to Westford back on Dec. 19 won't help their cause tomorrow, nor will a 1-0 blanking at the hands of Medford on Feb. 13. But their only other loss came at the hands of St. John's Prep (a lopsided defeat at that). Taking home the Cape Cod Classic title, punctuated by a shootout victory over Austin Prep, will help the Hawks as well.
6. Hingham: This year's Weymouth? We'd say there's far more hype about the Harbormen than Weymouth enjoyed at this time last year. I remember a lot of "wow"s when the Wildcats earned the fifth seed last February and I don't think it'll surprise a lot of folks to see Hingham seeded in top 6 this year. Some struggles down the stretch (falling to BC High, tying Duxbury), as well as a midseason loss to Waltham, might leave the Harbormen fighting for that top seed, but a convincing win over the Prep certainly helps that cause.
7. Malden Catholic: Take away a late season hiccup against St. Mary's of Lynn on Feb. 12 and the Lancers are probably a slam dunk for a top spot, right? They boast quality wins over teams fighting for Super 8 berths (Westford, St. Bernard's, and Xaverian), while also skating to two ties with BC High. But don't let the number in the loss column fool you. Remember that the Lancers also lost two games to Catholic Memorial, one to the Prep, and one to Rhode Island's Bishop Hendricken. Not too shabby.
8. Needham: Yet another team that would love a mulligan. The Rockets had ripped off 12 straight wins before enduring a shocking 1-0 loss to Chelmsford Wednesday night at the Cahoon Tournament. Skating to a tie with Hingham will help their cause, as will playing a one-goal game with BC High. But a 2-0 loss to Xaverian certainly begs the question of whether Needham deserve a berth over the Hawks, a team fighting for one of the last spots.
Plan for a play in... at best
9. Xaverian: The Hawks stumbled their way through a 2-5-1 month of January, falling to BC High (twice), Westford, Malden Catholic, and Catholic Memorial in that span. On the positive side, the wins included a 3-0 blanking of St. John's Prep (one of two wins over the Eagles), and the tie came in the rematch with MC. The Hawks finished up the regular season strong and many considered Friday night's scheduled matchup with Coyle-Cassidy a potential Super 8 play-in play-in at the South of Boston Shootout in Bridgewater. Mother Nature preferred to keep us in suspense as the game has been canceled due to the weather. That leaves the fate of the Hawks up in the air, just like...
10. Coyle-Cassidy: Unbeaten in its last 17 games, you could make the case that no one has played better or more consistent hockey (other than CM) than these Division 2 upstarts. The Warriors put themselves on the map with a 2-1 upset of BC High back on Feb. 6, but there's not a heck of a lot to go on besides that. Even coach Dave Borges admitted that he thought the lone reason his team was still being considered was a potential matchup with Xaverian. A win there could have vaulted his team into a Super 8 play-in game. Undoubtedly, fellow competitors in Division 2 South are rooting for Coyle to land a spot with the big boys (even if it's just temporary).
11. Westford Academy: Another team that tripped up against Chelmsford late in the year (those Lions were party crashers for Super 8 contenders in a winter otherwise dotted with struggles). The Grey Ghosts also let one slip away when they gave up a late goal against Winchester Wednesday night at the Irish-American Shootout. What's working in Westford's favor is a win over Andover earlier in the week, along with triumphs earlier in the year over Waltham and Xaverian.
12. St. Bernard's: As a Central Mass. native and someone who spent too much time in Fitchburg, I'm quietly -- yet objectively -- rooting for the Bernardians. As champs of the Catholic Central League, they'll get plenty of consideration from the committee. We're simply not sure the resume will support their candidacy. The positives: Undefeated in February, the Bernardians have won eight straight. Earlier this season, they also skated strong against Malden Catholic before falling, 3-2. But there's no eye-catching win on their schedule, What's more, they're probably not the best team in Central Mass. (that's reserved for 15-1-4 Gardner, who dropped the Bernardians, 6-3, in late January).
Hoping for a miracle
13. Austin Prep: Shootout win over BC High at Cape Cod Classic (it's a tie in the books) looks nice, but late-season loss to St. Bernard's really hurt them. If the Bernardians aren't getting in, neither are the Cougars. They also fell to Westford earlier in the year (handily, too).
14. Andover: Falling to Westford (a common theme in these miracle teams) on Monday night pretty much sealed the Warriors' fate. Andover also tied its previous two games (against Central Catholic and Arlington). Even with wins there, we're not sure it was enough to gain Super 8 consideration.
So, if someone asked us to put together the Super 8 seedings, here's our best guess (with teams 7-10 not seeded by winning percentage, as they will be following the selection meeting).
1. Catholic Memorial
2. St. John's Prep
3. BC High
5. Malden Catholic
10. Westford Academy
The only debate, in our minds, comes down to whether Coyle-Cassidy did enough to play its way into the tournament. A single win over BC High probably isn't enough and Westford gets the nod based on wins over Waltham and Xaverian.
We're excited for tomorrow's meeting and we're excited for the tournament. We look forward to bringing it all to you.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail email@example.com.