The season has flown by and as the weather gets colder, the playoff races start to heat up. It is the second to last week of the regular season and it is about time that a few playoff races got cleared up.
There are great games on the docket in all the divisions this weekend. Many of those are must-win games for certain teams. Tonight, Walpole plays Natick for the chance to play in the playoffs. Tomorrow, Duxbury meets Hanover for a playoff berth. Bishop Feehan is in a position to make it back to the playoffs, as is Masconomet. Here are some thoughts on Divisions 2 and 2A:
DIVISION 2 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Matt Carini, Franklin – Carini had a career day on the ground for the Panthers. On 17 carries, Carini rushed for 213 yards and three scores to lead Franklin past Sharon, 35-8.
DIVISION 2A PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Evan Bunker, Masconomet – Bunker was up to his same old tricks against Pentucket. The junior running back rushed for 214 yards for the Chieftains and recorded three touchdowns. The Chieftains need North Andover to lose this week in order to clinch a playoff berth.
DIVISION 2 GAME OF THE WEEK
Mansfield 13, North Attleboro 7 – I was fortunate enough to be at this game. Both teams played hard and with intensity. All of the scoring came in the first quarter as Mansfield scored two quick touchdowns and North Attleboro had a sustained drive that ended with a score. The rest of the game was a chess match. North Attleboro was able to move the ball but couldn’t capitalize in Mansfield territory. Mansfield couldn’t do much against the Red Rocketeer defense but managed to control the ball a little when it needed to.
DIVISION 2A GAME OF THE WEEK
Hanover 7, Rockland 0 – With the opportunity to play for the opportunity to play in the playoffs, it was Hanover that pulled out a hard fought victory over Rockland. Nick Hocking caught an 11 yard touchdown pass from Matt Johnson in the third quarter for the games only score. Hanover will now play Duxbury for the chance to play in the MIAA playoffs.
DIVISION 2 SUPER EIGHT
1. Walpole (9-0) – The Rebels had a little trouble with Needham last week. They took a 21-0 lead but the Rockets came back and scored 20 straight points after that. A pair of Ryan Izzo fourth quarter touchdowns cemented a Rebel victory and sets up this week’s battle against Natick.
2. Natick (9-0) – Natick is sputtering into its match-up against Walpole. The Red and Blue managed 21 points against Weymouth and have only averaged 14 points per game the past two games. Scott McCummings is still a little banged up and will need to be able to run against Walpole to lead his team to victory.
3. Mansfield (8-1) – Mansfield dispatched North Attleboro in a heated defensive battle. The Hornets are back in the playoffs and hope this year, they have a better result. Mansfield faces Norwich Free Academy before finishing off the season against Foxboro.
4. Reading (9-0) – The Rockets took care of business and trounced Belmont 39-0. Now they face Melrose with a playoff berth on the line. Reading, however, will be without the services of Tino Perrina for the foreseeable future due to a finger injury that required surgery.
5. Bishop Feehan (7-1) – The Shamrocks can return to the MIAA playoffs and defend their Super Bowl title with a victory this week over Somerset. Last week, Feehan trampled Durfee 35-0.
6. Melrose (8-0) – The Red Raiders cruised to an easy victory over rival Malden last week, 29-0. Jack Pizzotti is unstoppable at quarterback. He is able to run the ball effectively and has options in the backfield to hand off to. This week, Melrose travels to Reading. If the Red Raiders are victorious, all that stands in the way of a playoff berth is a game against Wakefield on Thanksgiving.
7. North Attleboro (6-1) – North Attleboro fought valiantly against Mansfield but couldn’t convert on its numerous chances on the Mansfield side of the field. This week, The Red Rocketeers close out their Hockomock portion of their schedule against Canton.
8. Wakefield (6-1) – A week after losing to Reading, Wakefield got back on track with a 34-13 victory over Winchester. Wakefield has to take care of business against Lexington this week because the Warriors still have a chance to take the Middlesex League crown.
On the outside looking in: Coyle & Cassidy, Norwood and King Philip.
DIVISION 2A SUPER EIGHT
1. Duxbury (9-0) – The Dragons improved to 9-0 with a big win over Silver Lake. This week, Duxbury heads to Whitman-Hanson to take on Hanover in the Patriot Bowl. The winner of the game will represent the Patriot League in the MIAA playoffs.
2. Apponequet (9-0) – The Lakers keep rolling along even without two of their better players. Apponequet beat Greater New Bedford 42-6 last week and got an impressive performance out of Michael Wojtkonski. This week, the Lakers play Case in a game they should win.
3. Gloucester (8-1) – Gloucester is heading back to the playoffs and is able to defend its Super Bowl title from a year ago. The Fishermen steamrolled Lynn English 35-7 behind Taylor Burbine’s three touchdown runs. The Fishermen finish their Northeastern Conference portion of the schedule this week against Salem.
4. Masconomet (6-3) – Due to Lawrence forfeiting its wins because of an ineligible player, Masconomet didn’t clinch the Cape Ann Large last week with its 35-13 victory over Pentucket. In order to clinch, the Chieftains need a North Andover loss this week. If North Andover wins, then Masco will play the Scarlet Knights on Thanksgiving for a playoff spot. This week, Masco plays a non-league game against Ipswich.
5. Wilmington (8-1) – Due to Lawrence forfeiting its wins, Wilmington moves to 8-1 and only has one league loss. Last week the Wildcats came from behind to beat North Andover. This week, the ‘Cats take on Triton in a must win game. They need North Andover to win out as well to have a chance at the CAL title.
6. Silver Lake (6-3) – Silver Lake lost to Duxbury last week 17-7. That ended the Lakers hopes of a playoff berth. But there is a lot to be pleased with, like their defense holding an explosive offense to 17 points. In the Patriot Bowl this week, Silver Lake faces North Quincy.
7. Scituate (7-2) – The Sailors trounced Whitman-Hanson last week, 34-14. Scituate faces Rockland in the Patriot Bowl this week. The only two losses for the Sailors were to Duxbury and Silver Lake.
8. Hanover (6-3) – Hanover cracks the Super Eight for the first time this season after clinching the Fisher Division’s top spot last week with its victory over Rockland. The Indians have the enviable task of facing undefeated Duxbury for the Patriot League’s playoff berth. The two teams met earlier in the season with Duxbury winning 35-6.
On the outside looking in: Old Rochester, Lynn English and North Quincy.
DIVISION 2 GAME TO WATCH
Walpole at Natick: Friday at 7 p.m. – This game has been circled on the calendar since the beginning of the season. We all knew it would come down to this. Whichever team wins this game will be heading to the playoffs. Walpole has had strong offensive play lately. Sonny Mastromatteo has been playing well at quarterback and it gives Walpole another dimension on offense. Unfortunately for Natick, Scott McCummings is still banged up and is a game time decision for the Red and Blue. If McCummings can’t run, then it will be a long day for Natick.
Another good game to see is Melrose at Reading on Friday at 7. Both teams are undefeated. The teams are closely matched, with Reading averaging one point per game more than Melrose and both teams giving up the same amount of points. If Reading wins, then it is in the playoffs. If not, then Melrose has to beat Wakefield on Turkey Day to advance to the playoffs.
DIVISION 2A GAME TO WATCH
Duxbury vs. Hanover at Whitman-Hanson: Saturday at 5 p.m. – This game will decide which team represents the Patriot League in the playoffs. Duxbury beat Hanover soundly in the first meeting between the teams.
DIVISION 2 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Martin Hyppolite, Wakefield – After having his worst game of the season against Reading, Hyppolite came back with a vengeance against Winchester. On 11 carries he rushed for 176 yards and four touchdowns.
Doug Graham, Milton – Graham threw three touchdowns in a losing effort against Framingham. His touchdown passes went for 50 yards, 28 yards and 82 yards.
Conor Henry, Coyle & Cassidy – Henry did it with his arm and his leg against Somerset. He passed for 155 yards and three touchdowns and added a 33 yard field goal.
DIVISION 2A PLAYERS TO WATCH
Taylor Burbine, Gloucester – Burbine rushed for 114 yards in the first half against Lynn English. He also added three touchdowns as the Fishermen clinched a playoff berth.
Mike Wojtkonski, Apponequet – In the Lakers drive for perfection, Wojtkonski has been a steadying factor at quarterback. He passed for 190 yards on 7-11 passing against Greater New Bedford. Three of the seven passes went for scores.
Kyle Crowley, Scituate – Crowley rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a touchdown pass as the Sailors improved to 7-2.
Travis Lowery, Old Rochester – After missing a couple games due to injury, Lowery is back where he left off. The running back rushed for 130 yards and two scores against Seekonk. Old Rochester needs to win out to earn a playoff berth.
Duxbury is the only team in Division 2A that gives up less than 10 points per game…Franklin has lost three games on the season. Those losses were to Mansfield, North Attleboro and Attleboro.
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- 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 @ZuriBerry for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Alex Hall | @AlexKHall | Baseball
- Colleen Casey | @ColleenCasey226 | Softball
- Mike Giesta | Boys lacrosse
- Catherine Calsolaro | @catrenee13 | Girls lacrosse
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Boys volleyball
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