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Mass. high school football playoff preview

DIVISION 1

ST. JOHN’S PREP (9-1) vs. ANDOVER (10-1)

at Cawley Stadium, Lowell, 7:45 p.m.

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The rundown — The easy way to look at this is Andover wants a high-scoring game, St. John’s Prep does not. If Andover’s CJ Scarpa (32 TD passes), Will Keikkinen Heikkinen (9 TD receptions), and Cam Farnham (11 TD receptions) add to their totals, it will be one and done for the Eagles. But one thing should make Andover fans nervous: Prep had little trouble beating Central Catholic, the same team that went to the wire with the Golden Warriors on Thanksgiving.

WEYMOUTH (8-3) vs. BROCKTON (8-3)

at Weymouth, 7:45 p.m.

The rundown — Two teams, finally healthy, but with plenty of concerns. Has anyone forgotten Weymouth’s loss to 2-8 Norwood? And that Thanksgiving mashing at the hands of Walpole wasn’t pleasant. But with David Harrison and a healthy Ozzy Colarusso, the Wildcats are dangerous. The Brockton losses have been easier to swallow. Reading (11-0), St. John’s Prep (9-1), and Pinkerton (10-2) are talented teams. Led by Austin Roberts, the Boxers have won five in a row.

DIVISION 1A

MASCONOMET (9-2) vs. EVERETT (9-1)

at Manning Field, Lynn, 7:45 p.m.

The rundown — The almost three-week layoff will hurt Everett. The almost three-week layoff will help Everett. Which sentence you agree with will determine your feelings on this one. Except for the rain-soaked loss to Barnstable, the Crimson Tide have overcome a long list of injuries and had another great season, led by Greater Boston League MVP Jakarrie Washington. As for Masco, the Chieftains have a lot of guys who contribute to an impressive puzzle.

LINCOLN-SUDBURY (10-1) vs. BARNSTABLE (10-0)

at Taunton, 5:15 p.m.

The rundown — If offense wins games and defense wins championships, who would you pick in this one? No. 1-ranked Barnstable has scored 50 or more points three times and has the highest scoring offense in the division at 37.6 points per game. No. 12 L-S has the best defense in the division, allowing just 8.1 points per game. Last season in this same game on this same field, L-S handed Barnstable a 13-0 lead before scoring the next 14 points to take the surprising win. If it’s low scoring again, the answer to the that first question should be L-S.

DIVISION 2

TEWKSBURY (7-4) vs. READING (11-0)

at Reading, 7:45 p.m.

The rundown — Reading should not be deceived by Tewksbury’s record. The Redmen beat 9-2 Lowell, and almost beat L-S (15-12), Andover (51-42), and Central Catholic (16-7). And of course, Tewksbury beat Reading last fall in the playoffs on the Rockets’ home turf. Although Tewksbury may not need a GPS to get to Reading, it will need to find a way to stop Middlesex Liberty MVP Drew Belcher and score against a Rockets defense that was the best in EMass (4.7 ppg).

DUXBURY (11-0) vs. MANSFIELD (7-4)

at Bridgewater-Raynham, 7:45 p.m.

The rundown — With 37 straight wins and facing an opponent with four losses, including two of its last three games, it would be easy to write in Duxbury as a Super Bowl participant. But just in case, better to use a pencil. For starters, Mansfield must shore up a defense that gave up 183 yards on the ground on Thanksgiving to Foxboro’s Kiivone Howard. Even if that happens, Duxbury quarterback Sean McCarthy directs an offense that is relentless and diverse.

DIVISION 2A

BEVERLY (11-0) vs. BURLINGTON (10-1)

at Burlington, 7:45 p.m.

The rundown — Except for Burlington’s 22-15 loss to unbeaten Reading, this could be a matchup of unbeatens. No. 7 Beverly is led by CAL/NEC Division 2 MVP Brendan Flaherty and an offense that checks in at 37.2 ppg. No. 8 Burlington is led by Middlesex Freedom MVP Anthony Cruz (1,302 yards rushing, 383 yards receiving) and Marcus Odiah (1,727 yards rushing). Cruz and Odiah, also the school’s career rushing leader, can wear you down. Beverly beat Division 1A powers Masco (9-2) and Lynn Classical (7-3) by a combined 72-21.

NATICK (10-1) vs. PLYMOUTH SOUTH (8-3)

at Braintree, 7:45 p.m.

The rundown — Maybe you’ve heard, Natick has another Flutie. But the interesting note about junior quarterback Troy Flutie isn’t his impressive offensive numbers (29 TD passes), it’s his recent work on defense. Playing defensive back, he has interceptions in his last two games. But that may not be as important against Plymouth South, which prefers to grind it out, led by Dylan Oxsen and his school-record 35 touchdowns and 211 points. South’s three losses were all in September. Since then, the Panthers have won seven straight.

DIVISION 3

WAYLAND (8-3) vs. WESTWOOD (8-3)

at Reading, 5:15 p.m.

The rundown — For Wayland, it starts with defense. Led by captain Matt Devlin, the Warriors have the best unit in Division 3 and are one of only nine in EMass that has held opponents to fewer than 10 points per game. And that’s good, because Westwood can light up a scoreboard, led by brothers Alex (24 TD passes) and Bo Berluti (13 TD receptions). Wayland’s biggest win this fall was over Division 1A Lincoln-Sudbury, and considering it was L-S’s lone loss, that’s impressive. And Wayland beat Millis, a Division 4 school that beat Westwood.

PEMBROKE (7-3) vs. SHARON (8-3)

at Braintree, 5:15 p.m.

The rundown — Not sure what this means, but Sharon is the only team in EMass that scored the same number of points that it gave up, 197. Brad Schiff leads the Eagles and earned Hockomock Defensive Player of the Year honors. This is Sharon’s first playoff appearance. Pembroke is making its second straight. Pembroke’s offense isn’t impressive unless you dig deep. The first five weeks, the Titans averaged 12.8 ppg; the last five weeks, it was 34.6 ppg.

DIVISION 3A

LYNNFIELD (8-2) vs. AMESBURY (9-2)

at Cawley Stadium, Lowell, 5:15 p.m.

The rundown — These teams met in the second week of the season, with Lynnfield scoring the last three touchdowns to beat the Indians, 31-27. Matt Talbot threw 15 TD passes for Amesbury, including one in the first matchup. His passing ability gives Amesbury an edge on offense, but defensively Lynnfield has a significant upper hand, allowing almost a touchdown less per game. If the unofficial Cape Ann Super Bowl comes down to one player, it could be Kyle McGah. The junior back scored three times for Lynnfield in the first game.

DIGHTON-REHOBOTH (9-1) vs. BISHOP FEEHAN (8-2)

at Taunton, 7:45 p.m.

The rundown — Don’t be surprised to see Matt Allen selling programs and taking tickets before the kickoff. The Bishop Feehan senior kicks field goals, scores via runs or receptions, and his kickoffs are impressive. But even more impressive is the Feehan defense, which gives up just 6.5 ppg. On the other sideline, D-R didn’t expect to be here after heavy graduation losses. The Falcons don’t score a lot (20.7 ppg) or play great defense (13.4 ppg). Led by QB Nathan Kowalski, they just win.

DIVISION 4

SHAWSHEEN (9-1) vs. ST. MARY’S (10-1)

at Manning Field, Lynn, 5:15 p.m.

The rundown — The Mike O’Hearn to Devonn Pratt connection is one reason Shawsheen is scoring more than 35 ppg. Paul DePlacido’s running is another. The Commonwealth Large had some of the top offensive teams in EMass, so don’t be deceived by the 20 ppgs the Rams allowed. St. Mary’s can score in bunches, too, led by Jordan Collier’s 20 touchdowns. The Spartans can also play defense, as evidenced by holding the high-powered Cambridge offense to 6 points — the same offense that scored 30 on Everett.

ABINGTON (11-0) vs. MILLIS-HOPEDALE (8-3)

at Bridgewater-Raynham, 5:15 p.m.

The rundown — If this is Jim Kelliher’s last year at Abington, it’s certainly a good one. The Green Wave are led by Babila Fonkem (13 TDs). Abington’s defense had the best numbers in the South Shore League, giving up just 11.8 ppg. Millis-Hopedale is back in the postseason for a second straight year and if you like good line play, check out TVL Small lineman of the year Jon Baker. Bay Tangney earned TVL Small MVP honors and Ian Strom was Offensive Player of the Year.

DIVISION 4A

NORTH SHORE (8-3) vs. CATHEDRAL (9-2)

at Burlington, 5:15 p.m.

The rundownThough not undefeated like last fall, Cathedral is still a force, led by its dominating lineman and CCL Small Player of the Year Mohammed Braimah. Offensively, Kadeem Edge (13 TDs) and Kejonte Hickman (18 TD passes) help Cathedral click at 29 points per game. North Shore is led by Ross Murphy (17 touchdowns). It’s an offense that produced 60, 46, and 44 points. North Shore turned heads in beating Blue Hills in September and has benefited from playing strong Commonwealth Large teams.

BRISTOL-PLYMOUTH (5-6) vs. MADISON PARK (7-4)

at Weymouth, 5:15 p.m.

The rundown — B-P earned the Mayflower Large title with a stunning, 28-26 victory over heavily-favored Blue Hills on Thanksgiving. The only team in the postseason with a losing record, the Craftsmen scored 21.5 ppg and allowed 21.6. The B-P defense forced Blue Hills into six fumbles and quarterback Colin McGrath took care of the B-P offense, scoring twice. MP has the best defense in the division, allowing just 7.6 ppg, pitching six shutouts. But the Cardinals sometimes struggle offensively, including a 6-0 OT loss on Thanksgiving.

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