Nov. 2 Friday pick 'em

Hoo-boy. So, we were hoping to bounce back last week and put together one of our best of the season, but the opposite happened. We had our worst effort, thanks mostly in part to games in Central and Western Mass. going sideways on us.


That leaves us firmly at 68 percent, well below where we want to be.


But at this time of year, if you start to lose hope, then you're really in trouble. So on we go, picking away and looking to finish with a flourish as we enter November.


We basically said the same thing last week, though, and look what happened.

However, the picks must go on. Let's get to them.


High School


Everett at Central Catholic


Everett has not faced a true challenge in a while, and Central Catholic, while young, has begun to hit its stride. This has become one of those games we see in the postseason about every year now, with Everett holding the upper hand lately. We're going to stick with the top-ranked Tide.


Prediction: Everett 30, Central Catholic 21


Acton-Boxboro at St. John's Prep


The Prep has been hit hard by the injury bug, but still is playing at an extremely high level. It feels like A-B has been underestimated all year long, despite running the table so far against a very difficult schedule. We still feel the Prep has the advantage in the trenches, so we'll lean toward the Eagles here.


Prediction: St. John's Prep 27, Acton-Boxboro 20


Catholic Memorial at Needham


In this Division 1 South semifinal, the host Rockets have one of the best passing attacks in the bracket. But the Knights can throw well themselves, and we feel like this game will be decided by which team can run the ball most effectively. In our opinion, that team will be CM.

Prediction: Catholic Memorial 34, Needham 27


Shrewsbury at Doherty


As we pointed out in our playoff primer, Doherty has not played as difficult a schedule as the other three teams in the Div. 3 Central section. That said, the Highlanders are still maybe the most complete team there, anyway, and we've felt confident in that assessment for a while now.

Prediction: Doherty 28, Shrewsbury 27


St. John's (Shrewsbury) at Wachusett


This is one of the top games of the weekend, and not just because the first time these teams played it could have gone either way. The visiting Pioneers are coming off a loss to Marlboro, while Wachusett has playing some of its best ball of the season. We'll go with the hosts to keep it up.


Prediction: Wachusett 35, St. John's (Shrewsbury) 34


Westfield at Minnechaug


This is one of the most intriguing games out west this weekend, as most of the top teams there have already played each other, but these two have not. The visiting Bombers were stung by Longmeadow last weekend, but we still feel they are on a collision course with Springfield Central next week.


Prediction: Westfield 26, Minnechaug 23


Reading at Lincoln-Sudbury


The visiting Rockets, even though they are ranked in most polls, may be a little underrated. Still, despite an uncharacteristic down year in 2017, you're talking about a team that has only lost to unbeaten Acton-Boxboro. Still, L-S — which has also only lost to A-B — looks like it's on a mission to square off against a loaded North Andover team for the Div. 2 North final.


Prediction: Lincoln-Sudbury 20, Reading 14


King Philip at Natick


This is another one of those games that could easily be a sectional final. Natick has one of the premier quarterbacks in the state in sophomore Will Lederman, but this King Philip defense always stiffens up when it matters. We're going to side with the latter coming through again.


Prediction: King Philip 17, Natick 14


Marlboro at Nashoba


These teams always seem to produce a close game, so expect another one Saturday night. Marlboro is riding high off a major win over St. John's (S), while Nashoba got back on track after its loss to Wachusett with a win over Shrewsbury. This could obviously go either way, but we like the host Chieftains to defend their home field here.


Prediction: Nashoba 16, Marlboro 15


North Attleboro at Duxbury


This is one of the best rivalries that has emerged from the current playoff format. This will mark the fourth consecutive time these teams have met in the playoffs. Last year, the Red Rocketeers dominated at home, but Duxbury has simply been the more consistent squad this year.

Prediction: Duxbury 28, North Attleboro 14


Dracut at Wayland


As everyone has come to realize by now after its win over Marblehead last week, Dracut is not your typical No. 8 seed. Wayland has been steadily progressing over the course of the season, but we have a feeling that Middies quarterback Devin Lambert and Co. will keep rolling here.


Prediction: Dracut 30, Wayland 22


Canton at Falmouth


This is one of two mammoth showdowns in Div. 5 South, where we feel like any of the four teas remaining can win the state title. The visiting Bulldogs have probably played a slightly tougher schedule, but when in doubt, we always tend to side with the team that can run the option as well as Falmouth is doing this year.


Prediction: Falmouth 24, Canton 20


Scituate at Holliston


This, like the Canton-Falmouth game, is a Div. 5 South matchup that could really go either way. Scituate survived a classic against Dennis-Yarmouth last week, while Holliston has remained dominant throughout the season. We didn't flip a coin, but since we picked Scituate to win the bracket in our primer, we will stick with it.


Prediction: Scituate 21, Holliston 20


Dedham at Old Rochester


Like Div. 5 South, the two Div. 6 South games this weekend also feature teams that we see as about on the same level. As of late, Old Rochester has been playing in games that have been a little tighter than the beginning of the season. The visiting Marauders have been playing with good balance, but we feel like Old Rochester's ability to run the ball might be the difference in a close one.


Prediction: Old Rochester 29, Dedham 27


Lynn Tech at Pope John XXIII


Yet another game that could see either team winning out from this point, these are two teams that have been among the favorites in Div. 8 North all season long. At the end of the day, Pope John has not given us any reason to doubt its legitimacy, so we will roll with the top seed here.


Prediction: Pope John XIII 33, Lynn Tech 23


Belmont Hill at St. Sebastian's


This is a matchup between two teams that have made terrific turnarounds from a season ago. Belmont Hill's only loss this season was to BB&N, while St. Sebastian's has been the unquestioned best team in the ISL. We feel no reason to think that changes.


Prediction: St. Sebastian's 20, Belmont Hill 17


College


Boston College at Virginia Tech


Lane Stadium has been a house of horrors for visitors over the years, and the Eagles definitely felt that their last trip to Blacksburg, a 49-0 loss. But Virginia Tech simply has not played up to its potential this year, and the Eagles seem to be peaking.


Prediction: Boston College 35, Virginia Tech 24


Liberty at UMass


There is just too much working in UMass' favor here. Since the bye week, the Minutemen have looked better on defense, and they are coming off a compelling win over UConn on the road. Everything points to a second straight win, which would mark the first time the Minutemen pulled the feat this season.


Prediction: UMass 41, Liberty 21

Columbia at Harvard


Harvard has lost two in a row, but both to ranked teams in Princeton and Dartmouth, and each game was very competitive. The Ivy League has both parity and top-level teams, and this one highlights the former, so expect a close game. But we are going to side with the hosts and their defense to pull this out.


Prediction: Harvard 24, Columbia 16

Holy Cross at Lafayette


Holy Cross is coming off a dominant win over Lehigh. Milford native and Milton Academy alum Domenic Cozier had another terrific effort in the victory. Still, it has been hard for the Crusaders to build much momentum this season, and Lafayette is playing well, so we will side with the hosts here.


Prediction: Lafayette 31, Holy Cross 30


Assumption at Bentley


This should be one of the better games of the weekend, as Bentley is fresh off two straight wins, while Assumption could not overcome the two best teams in the league in New Haven and LIU Post. Still, we like the Greyhounds to bounce back here on the road.


Prediction: Assumption 24, Bentley 16


WPI at Coast Guard


This game has major NEWMAC title implications, as each team is still in the running, especially after WPI handed MIT its first league loss last week. Five different teams are about on the same level, and these two count in that group. We feel that Coast Guard coming off a bye week, plus home field, might tip the scales in its favor.


Prediction: Coast Guard 17, WPI 13


Last week: 12-9

Season: 156-72

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