Let's start with the two games we covered this weekend for the Boston Herald: Xaverian at Catholic Memorial and Stoughton at King Philip.
The Xaverian-CM game, a 23-19 Knights win, lived up to every billing. We expected a classic, and that's what we got.
We're not going to lie. We felt when Catholic Memorial took a 23-6 lead in the third quarter that this thing may be on its way to being over.
However, that's when Xaverian dug in behind its dominant offensive line and pumped in two more touchdowns before the third quarter was over.
Xaverian had its chances to win the game, but Catholic Memorial defensive back Devon Marshall slammed the door shut with a late interception.
The Knights had plenty of injuries heading into this game, including starting running back Datrell Jones, who had a sprained ankle, according to CM coach John DiBiaso.
But more than one player stepped up for CM to help secure the victory. The player who made the biggest impact was sophomore running back Carson Harwood. The 6-foot, 215-pounder impressed with both his hard running and his speed. He left the Xaverian secondary in the dust on a 73-yard touchdown run, and also had an 8-yard scoring jaunt at the beginning of the third quarter.
For the game, Harwood had 172 yards on 18 carries. On a day where the Knights were really missing Jones, Harwood's play made up for Jones' absence.
It was a great game, and when the state has no postseason for football in Fall II, this was a nice replacement.
Although the Stoughton-KP game did not have the same stakes, it was still an exciting take with another terrific comeback.
KP jumped out to a 13-0 halftime lead in the cold, wet, and windy conditions. But as they have so many times throughout their careers at Stoughton, the Ais brothers took over.
Christopher Ais had a 14-yard touchdown run, and Christian Ais had touchdown runs of 66 and 14 yards as the Black Knights came roaring back for a 20-13 win.
We've seen the Ais brothers now three times this season, in wins over Foxboro and KP and a loss to North Attleboro. In each game, win or lose, the Ais brothers have made big plays on both sides of the ball.
No doubt opposing coaches will be happy to see those two graduate.
Two other big wins for the weekend came from St. John's Prep and St. John's of Shrewsbury.
The Prep earned a big, 49-27 win over a previously-unbeaten Tewksbury team. It has been been an up and down year for the Eagles. They are 3-3 with losses to Catholic Memorial, BC High, and Xaverian. In some ways, the victory over Tewksbury is the best of the season for the Prep.
We expect the Eagles to be right back in the mix for a state title when the fall rolls around, as there are plenty of junior contributors there.
The Pioneers grabbed a 17-6 win over BC High. St. John's also has a 44-7 win over Fitchburg, and we feel like this team will be able to compete with the top teams in the Catholic Conference going forward.
Rob Pike has done an excellent job with Lowell in his first year as the head coach.
Over the weekend, Lowell earned a 16-14 win over a very good Milford team. For the season, Lowell also owns victories over Methuen, Chelmsford, and Lawrence. The only two losses are to very good Central Catholic and Andover teams.
You have to like what Lowell has been able to accomplish in Fall II, and bigger things may be on the way soon.
While the best team in Central Mass. for Fall II has to be Wachusett, along with St. John's, you cannot overlook what Doherty has done.
The Highlanders in the last two weeks have beaten Shepherd Hill and Leominster. The only loss is to Wachusett, and there are also victories over Shrewsbury and Algonquin.
The Highlanders have just been solid all Fall II, and this is a program that is on solid footing heading into the fall.
Another CMass team that is playing well is St. Bernard's.
Over the weekend, the Bernardians earned a 42-19 win over West Boylston. The Lions, you'll remember, are the only team to defeat Plymouth South this season.
St. Bernard's is one of the top small school programs in the state, and they've been living up to that reputation this spring.
Big showdown looms
There will be another major tilt next week when Marshfield visits Mansfield.
Like the Xaverian-CM game, this will have the feel of a state title game. Both teams are undefeated, and these are two of the best programs in the area.
We'll make Mansfield the favorite for this one, but this could be another classic on the way.
Getting it in
Springfield Central defeated Minnechaug, 39-17, this weekend. That is just the second game of the Fall II season for Central, which beat Minnechaug, 55-14, several weeks ago.
Even though it is the same opponent, it was worth it for Central to get another game in with Minnechaug. It has been difficult for Central to get games, and you just want the kids to have as many opportunities as possible.
No matter what, though, Central will be right there with all the Div. 1 favorites in the fall. This team is loaded with talent.
Holy Cross took care of business in the Patriot League championship game with a 33-10 win over Bucknell.
Now it is off to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, where Holy Cross will travel to face South Dakota State on Saturday, April 24 at 3 p.m.
No matter what happens next week, it has been an excellent season for Holy Cross just to get to this point. Bob Chesney is getting it done in Worcester.