2013 EMASS Football Preview

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Merrimack Valley - Division 2

Dracut

  • Last year's record: 2-9
  • Strength: Passing game; defensive secondary.
  • Concerns: Depth, running backs.
  • Coach: Jason Houston (4th season)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

With returners in the secondary, receiving, and quarterback positions, both passing offense and defense should be a strength for the Midshipmen.

Haverhill

  • Last year's record:
  • Strength: Defensive secondary and LB core, as well as O-Line
  • Concerns: Defensive line and experience at the skill positions.
  • Coach: Tim O'Connor (4th season, 13-20 in first 3 seasons with the Hillies.)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Haverhill had an excellent season last year, going 8-1 and coming in second place in the MVC Small behind only Tewksbury. A very physical defensive team, the Hillies should ride their 17 returning starters to another good record, but rookies at the quarterback and running back positions may slow them a bit on offense.

Lawrence

  • Last year's record: 3-8
  • Strength: Offensive line.
  • Concerns: Youth, lack of depth.
  • Coach: Mike Yameen (9th season, Entering his 9th season, 27-61.)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

With three returners on the offensive line protecting him, a lot of pressure has been placed on returning junior QB Nelson Valerio, who threw for over 2,000 yards last season. Should Valerio and the other young Lancers continue to improve, expect last season's 3-8 record to improve with them.

Methuen

  • Last year's record: 3-8
  • Strength: Offensive chemistry.
  • Concerns: Defensive experience, offensive line.
  • Coach: Tom Tone (3rd season)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

With an influx of seniors, the Rangers look to improve upon a dismal 3-8 campaign last fall. Overall depth may pause that quest for the time being, though.

North Andover

  • Last year's record: 4-6
  • Strength: Offense, particularly QB/WR.
  • Concerns: Four rookies on defense, including two in the secondary.
  • Coach: John Rafferty (13th season, Enters the season with a career 82-48 record in 12 seasons with North Andover.)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

If the defense holds strong, this senior-laden, experienced squad might make some noise. "Three returning starters on the offensive and defensive lines gives us experience there," said coach John Rafferty." Third-year starting quarterback Casey Walsh is a strength as well as returning starting receivers Matt Iannone and Robert Shkliew. Tom Stabile will hold down the running back position.

Tewksbury

  • Last year's record: 7-5
  • Strength: Experience on offense.
  • Concerns: Inexperience on defense.
  • Coach: Brian Aylward (17th season, 90-81-1 in 16 seasons)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

The Redmen should win some battles at the line for a strong offense with four returning players on the offensive line. The defense, however, will be a work in progress, according to longtime coach Brian Aylward. Last fall the Redmen won the league and fell to Reading in the Division 2 semifinals. With a spot in Division 3 this fall, the postseason is a realistic goal.

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3 games to watch

Sept
6

Duxbury comes in with a 42-game regular-season winning streak, while Abington went 13-0 and won a Div. 4 Super Bowl last year.

Sept
20

This is Dorchester's first home game ever on the newly renovated Roberts Field. LA brings All-Scholastic QB Kyle Dance.

Oct
25
Natick at Walpole

These two preseason Top 10 teams tied for first in the Bay State Herget last year. This game could well decide the title again.

Preseason Top 20

Rank Team Last year
1 St. John's Prep 11-1
2 Everett 11-1
3 Natick 11-2
4 Reading 13-0
5 Brockton 9-4
6 Lowell 9-2
7 Barnstable 11-1
8 Duxbury 11-1
9 Walpole 10-1
10 Mansfield 8-5
11 Bridgewater-Raynham 5-6
12 Central Catholic 9-2
13 Xaverian 4-7
14 Needham 8-3
15 Plymouth South 8-4
16 King Philip 10-1
17 BC High 4-6
18 Bishop Feehan 10-2
19 Weymouth 8-4
20 Andover 10-2