A solid week has us thinking we can make a bit of a comeback now.
Still, we are under that elusive goal of 70 percent, even though we made up a little ground with our last time through.
So we are looking for a similar output this time around, and hopefully maybe even better. There is, after all, always room for improvement.
On to the picks . . .
Duxbury at Tewksbury at Cawley Field
This one pairs two of the most consistent programs in the payoff era. Duxbury has the size, speed, and experience to enjoy the role of the favorite here, while Tewksbury has proven over the years that it can hang with anyone. This could be a low-scoring game that Duxbury pulls out late in the fourth quarter in this Division 3 state semifinal.
Prediction: Duxbury 20, Tewksbury 16
Springfield Central vs. St. John's (S) at Westfield State
Springfield Central earned a win over the Pioneers earlier this season, but it would ring hollow if the Golden Eagles didn't do it again to make it to the Div. 3 state title game. This is sure to be another high-scoring affair from these two, but we feel Central has the weapons to survive it.
Prediction: Springfield Central 49, St. John's (Shrewsbury) 42
Gloucester vs. Nashoba at Woburn
This seems like an even matchup, and both teams have the capability of not just winning this weekend, but on the first Saturday of December. Both teams are hot, but Nashoba feels like it may have figured something out after the Wachusett loss, so we are going to go with the Chieftains in this Div. 4 semifinal.
Prediction: Nashoba 24, Gloucester 17
Scituate vs. Swampscott at Westwood
We have not had a chance to check out Swampscott in person this season, so this Div. 5 semifinal pick might be slanted toward Scituate. We just came away so impressed with the Sailors in their win over Canton. Scituate has a diverse offense with solid players on defense, so it is hard to pick against a team like that.
Prediction: Scituate 34, Swampscott 27
Cohasset vs. St. Mary's at Hormel Stadium, Medford
Div. 7 South was such a deep section, but like most people, we assumed Mashpee would emerge. But Cohasset knocked off the Falcons and Abington back-to-back to advance. St. Mary's always seems to be in this position, but we are going to ride the hot hand of the Skippers here.
Prediction: Cohasset 28, St. Mary's 20
Longmeadow vs. Nipmuc at Foley Field
Both of these Div. 5 teams hurdled over some quality opponents to get to this point. Longmeadow is riding a pretty big hot streak, as the Lancers beat Westfield to end the regular season. Nipmuc avenged its only loss last week by beating Northbridge. This could go either way, but we will side with the Western Mass. squad to get it done.
Prediction: Longmeadow 28, Nipmuc 27
Stoneham vs. Littleton at Foley Field
The winner of this game earns the right to play Old Rochester in the Div. 6 state title game. Both of these teams have offenses that can wear down opponents in the running game. We feel that Stoneham has been the more consistently dominant team, so we are riding the Spartans.
Prediction: Stoneham 36, Littleton 13
Wahconah vs. Blackstone Valley at Westfield St.
This Div. 7 semifinal features two teams that have dominated their schedules, for the most part. Although we are impressed by Blackstone Valley's two wins each over Assabet Valley and Leicester, we feel like this Wahconah team has been on a mission to make the state finals for a while now.
Prediction: Wachusett 23, Blackstone Valley 20
Pope John XXIII vs. W. Bridgewater at Holbrook/Avon
Since the beginning of the season, we've touted Pope John as the team to beat in Div. 8. Although we love how West Bridgewater was able to emerge out of a tough South bracket, we feel the Tigers just have a few too many weapons.
Prediction: Pope John XXIII 31, West Bridgewater 21
St. Bernard's vs. Hoosac Valley at Foley Field
These are two teams that have proven they can play with higher division teams over the course of the season. Hoosac Valley is coming off a close win over Lee, while St. Bernard's has been perfect other than its loss to Nipmuc. We feel St. Bernard's is just playing better football at the moment.
Prediction: St. Bernard's 27, Hoosac Valley 15
Belmont Hill at Suffield Academy
We got a decent look at what type of skill position players Suffield has during the 7-on-7 circuit this past summer. It's safe to say that team has some size and speed. We like what Belmont Hill has done this year, but feel Suffield is just too strong.
Prediction: Suffield Academy 30, Belmont Hill 17
Avon Old Farms at BB&N
There should be a lot of talent on the field when this game kicks off. BB&N has relied on its massive offensive line all season, while Avon Old Farms has won a slew of close games recently. It's rare to pick an ISL team over one with post-graduates, but that's what we'll do here, anyway.
Prediction: BB&N 34, Avon Old Farms 30
Taft at St. Sebastian's
Again, an ISL team going up against one of these Class A programs is always a tough matchup for the former. The Arrows have the firepower to stay with Taft, but we feel the latter still has the advantage here.
Prediction: Taft 23, St. Sebastian's 21
Thayer at Dexter
This has been a bit of a breakthrough season for Thayer, while people at Dexter knew this was going to be a special team at the beginning of the year. In this matchup, we just feel that Dexter has a little bit more high-end talent.
Prediction: Dexter 35, Thayer 21
Nobles at Kingswood-Oxford
This has been an excellent season for Nobles coach Panos Voulgaris in his first year in Dedham. Kingswood-Oxford has some impressive wins on its resume, but we feel like Nobles has the skill players and linemen to match up here.
Prediction: Nobles 28, Kingswood-Oxford 27
Boston College at Florida State
With the injuries to Anthony Brown and AJ Dillon, two of the best players for the Eagles are day-to-day. Obviously, if either one of those misses this game, it makes a difference. That said, Florida State is in a bad place right now, and it feels like BC can win regardless of the injury report.
Prediction: Boston College 35, Florida State 13
UMass at Georgia
UMass saw its bowl hopes fizzle out with last week's loss to BYU, so this will be the last game for the careers of many Minutemen. But even though UMass has nothing to lose here and can throw caution to the wind, Georgia is simply a beast of an opponent.
Prediction: Georgia 42, UMass 13
Harvard vs. Yale at Fenway Park
You could not pack any more tradition into this game if you tried. A classic rivalry in one of the truly unique places in the world to see a game will not lack for atmosphere. This is a coin flip game, but we think the Crimson have the motivation from last year's loss to Yale to get that little extra push.
Prediction: Harvard 20, Yale 17
Holy Cross at Georgetown
Both of these teams got off to relatively slow starts, but have rebounded nicely in Patriot League play. The Crusaders have found their rhythm on offense lately, and we think they can continue that upward trend this weekend.
Prediction: Holy Cross 31, Fordham 21
MIT at Johns Hopkins
The Engineers have had a terrific year, and last week's win over Springfield College was a nice bow on the regular season. Still, we feel that Johns Hopkins can battle through what is a relentless MIT defense.
Prediction: Johns Hopkins 17, MIT 13
Last week: 17-4