Nothing can top Thanksgiving football in Massachusetts, but we truly can't remember a slate of games this close to Turkey Day that could be more exciting than the one we've got this weekend. Just look at all those "-0's" littering the records of teams in our top games of the week below. This weekend could take much of the drama out of Thanksgiving battles, but it shouldn't take any of the luster.
- No. 5 Walpole (9-0) over No. 6 NATICK (9-0) --We've said it many, many times that in battles of offense vs. defense, we nearly always side with the defense. So while this matchup features Ryan Izzo and a potent Walpole offense (35.3 points per game) vs. a stingy Natick defense (6.1 ppg), let's not forget that the Rebels have been no slouches on defense themselves (11.6 points per game). We expect a few fireworks early in this one before the teams dig in. If Ryan Izzo goes over 150 yards, Walpole wins.
- No. 12 READING (9-0) over No. 15 Melrose (8-0) -- Neither of these teams have been involved in a game decided by less than 16 points since Week 1 of the 2008 season. Think about that. It'll be interesting to see how both sides respond if the score remains close into the second half (a time that many starters probably haven't seen much action lately). We'll give the edge to the home squad.
- No. 19 Mashpee (9-0) over No. 18 ABINGTON (9-0) -- We pulled a last-minute flip-flop on our pick here (so we'll be kicking ourselves if Abington pulls this one out), but looking at Mashpee's schedule we're struck by how consistent this team has been. The Falcons' defense has been phenomenal and our eyes fall immediately upon that win over Coyle & Cassidy in October. We do like Abingtnon's experience to help it in this one.
- Xaverian ( 5-4) over No. 11 CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (8-0) -- You could make a pretty strong case that Xaverian could easily be 8-1 right now with tough losses to Everett, BC High, and Duxbury (three top 7 squads). And despite last week's ultra-disappointing loss to BC High, the Hawks still have a glimmer of a playoff hope. Can Xaverian bring the same intensity that the Knights undoubtedly will boast? Therein lies the key to this game. If Xaverian comes out spreading the ball around like it did against the Eagles, it should boot CM from our undefeated bus.
- BB&N (7-0) over Lawrence Academy (7-0) -- The perfect quarterback rating is 158.3 and we're fairly certain that, with a 27-2 TD to INT ratio, BB&N's Mike DiChiara has a passer rating close to that mark. That adds up to a perfect season for the Ampersanders.
And now this week's extended version of the quick-picks (with a focus on games that could decide league champions):
- No. 7 Duxbury (9-0) over Hanover (6-3) -- No offense to Hanover, but, to us, the Patriot League championship game was held last week when the Dragons topped Silver Lake.
- No. 10 MARSHFIELD (8-1) over Sandwich (6-3) -- Plymouth North took some of the fun out of this one by topping Sandwich last week. It probably doesn't matter. Marshfield is playing chess, while the rest of the Atlantic Coast League is playing checkers.
- No. 2 Everett (7-1) over Malden (4-5) -- I know what you're thinking, "Hey Forsberg! Quit running up your record." To be fair, it's a clash for the Greater Boston League title and we're all about spotlighting title games.
- No. 14 BROCKTON (6-3) over New Bedford (2-7) -- See also: Everett over Malden.
- AUSTIN PREP (8-1) over Arlington Catholic (6-3) -- The Cougars have five shutouts and one game in which they gave up only a safety. Yielding only 3.8 points per game, Prep takes the first step towards locking up the Catholic Central Large title.
- Medway (9-0) over NORTON (8-1) -- The number of first-half points given up by Medway this season? 20. The Mustangs could use an early lead if they are going to prevail on the road.
- Georgetown (8-0) over NEWBURYPORT (4-5) -- The Clippers have won four in a row and have a bit of momentum, but the Royals are the class of the Cape Ann League Small.
- Holbrook (6-1) over TRI-COUNTY (6-2) -- The Bulldogs' only loss came against a Martha's Vineyard team that won the Mayflower Large Large in Division 3A. Good enough for us.
Last week: 9-1
Year to date: 87-24 (.784)
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our fall correspondents:
- Anthony Gulizia | @gulizia_a | Div. 1 football
- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.