Here's the first of our weekly blog posts highlighting 10 games to watch in Eastern Mass., along with predictions.
No. 1 Everett at Leominster, Friday, 7 p.m.:
Anthony: Replacing Jonathan DiBiaso won’t be easy, but the Division 1A Super Bowl champs will open the season the same way they did last year – with a win over Leominster. Everett 35, Leominster 14
Mastro: I’m expecting big things out of second-year quarterback Garrett DelleChiaie and his favorite target, Neil O’Connor. That kid can really fly. But John Montelus and the Everett line will make craters out of Leominster’s defense. I hate agreeing with you to start off the new segment, but this one is all Everett. Everett 38, Leominster 12
No. 13 Mashpee at Austin Prep, Saturday, 11 a.m.:
Anthony: Like many, I’m eager to see Mashpee running back Jared Taylor, who had a 300-yard performance at Gillette Stadium in last year’s Division 4 Super Bowl win. Likewise, expect Mashpee to roll over Austin Prep. Mashpee 40, Austin Prep 20
Mastro: Easy math: Cardinal Spellman crushed Austin Prep, 41-14 last season. Taylor ran for a record 308 yards and Mashpee rolled over Spellman in the Super Bowl. This one is going to be ugly. Mashpee 44, Austin Prep 14
North Andover at No. 15 Andover, Friday, 7 p.m.:
Anthony: Town bragging rights are at stake in this early-season matchup, and the Golden Warriors high-powered offense will be too much for North Andover. Andover 35, North Andover 16
Mastro: North Andover has a great core of linebackers. So CJ Scarpa will pick apart the Scarlet Knights’ secondary instead. A rough welcome to the MVC is in store here. Andover 33, North Andover 15
Lawrence at No. 14 Reading, Friday, 7:
Anthony: Reading quarterback Drew Belcher enters the season lauded as one of the best QBs in the area. His 2012 campaign begins with a win over Lawrence. Reading 28, Lawrence 15
Mastro: Reading's Matt Comeford might be a game-changer on the offensive line. He’s 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, and he can actually move pretty quickly, as those who watched him play goalie on the lacrosse field remember. I think Lawrence is in this game till the end, but the Rockets get some revenge after last year’s opening day debacle. Reading 30, Lawrence 20
No. 24 Lynn English at Gloucester, Friday, 7:
Anthony: Is there any shore better than the North Shore? My money is on English raining a perfect storm on the Fishermen to start the season with a victory. Lynn English 28, Gloucester 10
Mastro: Every football coach needs at least one year. I give Tony Zerilli a free pass for last season’s 2-9 effort and fully believe the Fishermen will be competitive this year. But there might not be anyone in Eastern Mass. who can run with English receiver Josh Batista. Lynn English 32, Gloucester 13
Concord-Carlisle at No. 20 Beverly, Saturday, 2:30:
Mastro: OK, I’m picking against the 2011 freshman of the year, Concord-Carlisle's Will Blumenberg, and I don’t feel good about it. This kid is an athlete. But taking over at quarterback on a team that will need to rely on its passing game without George Craan is not an easy thing to do. Beverly returns 10 seniors and they won’t want to go down in front of their home crowd on opening day. Beverly 28, C-C 14
Anthony: Beverly has exactly what Concord-Carlisle doesn’t and that’s a strong running game. Last season, C-C rolled over Beverly 26-7 in the opener as Crann and Tim Badgley rushed for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns. Come Friday night, Beverley’s duo of Brendan Flaherty and Kenny Pierce will exact revenge. Beverly 31, C-C 17
No. 7 Duxbury at No. 6 Bridgewater-Raynham, Saturday, 4:
Mastro: I’m not a fan of streaks, Anthony. You know that about me. And 26 games just seems like a good number for Duxbury to end on. Yes, B-R needs to replace its entire backfield, but for once it actually has some size on the offensive line, and a healthy Ryan Murphy at tight end could go a long way. Bridgewater-Raynham 22, Duxbury 15
Anthony: Twenty-six? I like 27 better. Duxbury keeps the streak going with a win over Bridgewater-Raynham and running backs John Hurvitz and Khai Perry will carry the Dragons. Bridgewater-Raynham tight end and linebacker Dan Noviello will try his best to disrupt Duxbury’s ground game, but his team comes up short in this ax-grinding battle. Duxbury 21, Bridgewater-Raynham 18.
No. 2 BC High at No. 12 Brockton, Friday, 7:
Mastro: Do you believe in the Boxer Resurrection? In the words of George Costanza, they’re back baby! Rocky Marciano Stadium is renovated and ready to go for opening day and Micah Morel leads an incredibly tough defense that will give rookie BC High quarterback Brendan Craven and his rookie head coach Joe Gaff nightmares. Brockton 14, BC High 7
Anthony: Don’t let Brendan Craven hear you call him a rookie. It wasn’t often, but when Bartley Regan wasn’t under center last season, Craven kept the BC High offense running like a well-oiled machine. He’s learned from Regan the last three years and is primed to command the Eagles spread offense. His mechanics are on point, and he’ll have fun airing it out to his 6-4 wide receiver Lincoln Collins to spoil the Boxers housewarming. BC High 27, Brockton 14
Chelmsford at No. 19 Westford, Friday, 7:
Mastro: Westford's Justin Mount. That’s really all that needs to be said. A 6-2, 205-pound quarterback who can fly is someone I want on my team. Chelmsford will be missing linebacker Tim Joy (Boston College). Westford 35, Chelmsford 14
Anthony: Chelmsford graduated key players from last season in Joy, quarterback Colby Emanouil and running back Eddie Sheridan, and it will show in Week 1. Hard to go against Justin Mount, who racked up 1,200 rushing yards and 12 scores in only seven games last season. Westford 24, Chelmsford 12
Nantucket at Pope John Paul II, Saturday, 1:
Mastro: If you’re down on the Cape hoping for one final weekend of sun, check this one out. I think Bill Manchester is on the right track with Nantucket and I loved the way he had his team playing at the end of last year. Losing Taylor Hughes hurts, but Bryan Depass appears to be ready to take over at QB. Nantucket 32, Pope John Paul II 23
Anthony: Manchester returns at the helm for his second season with the island club fresh off a Division 5 Super Bowl victory. Nantucket is reloading after losing 13 seniors from last year’s 10-2 squad, and plenty of talent remains in Depass and tight end Terrell Corella. Also, is there any better last name for a quarterback than Depass? Nantucket 28, Pope John Pal II 16
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.