Nov. 9 Friday pick 'em

OK, a better week last time than our worst effort of the season from the previous one, so there is improvement.

Kind of.

We are certainly not holding ourselves to too high of a standard when we say we want to get back over 70 percent for the season, and right now we are under that by a little over a point.

So as the MIAA playoffs continue and the college season rolls into its home stretch, we need to get going fast.

Let's do that. On to the picks.

High School

Central Catholic at St. John's Prep

Central Catholic certainly did not seem like a team that would make it to the Division 1 North final at the beginning of the year, but here the Raiders are after stunning Everett last week. The Prep, though, has given us no reason to doubt it, and we see the Eagles booking their trip to Gillette Stadium.

Prediction: St. John's Prep 24, Central Catholic 16

Catholic Memorial at Xaverian

Although it was a little more expected this time, we have the same teams from last year's Div. 1 South final squaring off again. The Hawks are pretty banged up, and that may have shown in their close win over Franklin, but we are hesitant to go against a program that has won the section every year since the current format was introduced in 2013.

Prediction: Xaverian 15, Catholic Memorial 14

King Philip at Mansfield

We are not always crazy about rematches from the regular season in the playoffs, but this is these first three picks all represent those, so we have to deal with it. King Philip's defense impressed everyone by holding an explosive Natick team to one score, but this still feels like Mansfield's year in Div. 2 South.

Prediction: Mansfield 27, King Philip 24

Lincoln-Sudbury at North Andover

This might be the game of the night in some respects. North Andover has been one of the most consistently dominant teams in the state, while Lincoln-Sudbury proved last week against Reading that it is never truly out of a game. We picked L-S to win the bracket when the Div. 2 North pairings came out, so we will stick with that.

Prediction: Lincoln-Sudbury 35, North Andover 34

St. John's (Shrewsbury) vs. Shrewsbury at Doyle Field

It probably would have made more sense if this game were played in Worcester. OK, it would have made a LOT more sense. Still, Leominster's Doyle Field may be the best venue in the state to see a high school football game. Wherever this was going to be played, you'd see a lot of points. Expect a ton Saturday, and for the Pioneers to get just a few more to win Div. 3 Central.

Prediction: St. John's (Shrewsbury) 42, Shrewsbury 39

Springfield Central at Westfield

The Golden Eagles have been the dominant force in Western Mass. ever since wresting it away from Longmeadow. Westfield is either the second- or third-best team in the area, depending on how good you think Wahconah is. That said, the incumbent candidate is the smart play here to advance in Div. 3.

Prediction: Springfield Central 45, Westfield 14

Hingham at Duxbury

Yet another rematch from a regular season game where the host Dragons played one of their best games of the season in a 38-20 win. Both of these teams are excellent up front with good size and athleticism, but we feel Duxbury's passing attack will put it over the top to take Div. 3 South.

Prediction: Duxbury 31, Hingham 21

Danvers at Tewksbury

These teams met up a year ago in the Div. 3 North semifinals, and Tewksbury emerged with a one-point win. Each of these teams has experience winning tight games this year, and the coaching on both sides is terrific. Expect a close, low-scoring game, with Tewksbury advancing to the state semifinals again.

Prediction: Tewksbury 20, Danvers 19

Nashoba vs. Tantasqua at Foley Field

Tantasqua is a team that has flown a little under the radar, but anyone that can sweep a two-game series with Grafton in one season deserves attention. That said, Nashoba has only had one bad game, where it was smothered by Wachusett. Otherwise, the Chieftains have looked every bit the Div. 4 Central favorite we have expected all year long.

Prediction: Nashoba 23, Tantasqua 20

Canton at Scituate

Div. 5 South has lived up to its billing as a sort of "Group of Death," MIAA football style. These two teams knocked off the top two seeds, and you are looking at two tremendous offenses, but out of unique sets. We love what Canton has been able to accomplish this year, but the Sailors are at home and feel like one of those teams that can just put up points all night long.

Prediction: Scituate 45, Canton 42

East Longmeadow at Longmeadow

Out in Div. 5 West, you might not find a more intriguing matchup in that part of the state. These are two teams that have not abandoned the Wing-T, and each has run it successfully this season. Neither squad has been a model of consistency this year, but we feel the host Lancers have a little more balance.

Prediction: Longmeadow 25, East Longmeadow 23

Ashland at Old Rochester

These are two teams that have been steady performers all season, and even though Old Rochester is undefeated, the Bulldogs have not necessarily dominated as much as they did earlier in the fall. Ashland has a lot of experience in close games, as well, but we feel Old Rochester's ability to run the ball and stop the run wins out here in this Div. 6 South showdown.

Prediction: Old Rochester 26, Ashland 21

Hamilton-Wenham at Stoneham

Right now, it does not look like anyone can stop Stoneham in Div. 6 North. The Spartans' double-wing attack has simply overwhelmed opponents. Hamilton-Wenham has played a difficult schedule and fared well against it, but we just think Stoneham is operating on a different level right now.

Prediction: Stoneham 35, Hamilton-Wenham 18

Wahconah vs. South Hadley at Westfield State

Out in Div. 7 West, South Hadley is looking to knock off what many believe could be the second-best team in that part of the state. Wahconah has only had one slip-up all season, and this feels like a team that is on a mission to not only just make it to Gillette, but win the whole thing.

Prediction: Wahconah 37, South Hadley 17

Governor's Academy at Belmont Hill

Belmont Hill scored a huge win over previously-unbeaten St. Sebastian's last week. What made it even more impressive was the manner in which the Hillies pulled it off, rallying late to pull it off. Governor's has one of the top backs in the state in Quin Stott. but we see Belmont Hill continuing its upward trajectory.

Prediction: Belmont Hill 31, Governor's Academy 27


Clemson at Boston College

At the beginning of the season, if you asked most BC fans if they would take a 7-2 record with ESPN's College GameDay in attendance for the Clemson game, they'd have gladly accepted it. That's exactly where the Eagles are. There's little in the way of logic to expect the upset to happen here, though, as Clemson is every bit as good as its No. 2 ranking and improving each week. We can see BC making it a game, but the Tigers are the superior outfit.

Prediction: Clemson 34, Boston College 21

UMass vs. BYU at Gillette Stadium

BYU has basically been all over the map this season. The Cougars peaked with a win over Wisconsin, but have looked fairly average the rest of the way. UMass is riding high off its first two-game winning streak of the season. Still, we feel that BYU is a little more well-rounded at this point and should come away victorious.

Prediction: BYU 30, UMass 28

Harvard at Penn

Harvard's passing attack got back on its feet in a big way last week against Columbia, which bodes well for this game against a Penn team that may be a little inconsistent, but is still pretty strong defensively. We like the Crimson in a low-scoring game.

Prediction: Harvard 20, Penn 16

Fordham at Holy Cross

Holy Cross is another team that seemed to find its passing attack last week, and the Crusaders played one of their best games of the season in crushing Lafayette. Fordham has not seen much success this season, and Holy Cross should take care of business here.

Prediction: Holy Cross 38, Fordham 7

Southern Conn. at Merrimack

The game of the day in the Northeast-10 will no doubt be when LIU-Post takes on New Haven for the conference title, but we will obviously keep it in Massachusetts for this pick. Merrimack has won three out of its last four, with its only loss of the stretch a one-point setback to Pace. We'll roll with the Warriors here.

Prediction: Merrimack 28, Southern Conn. 21

Springfield at MIT

This one has major NEWMAC title implications, as Springfield, MIT, and Merchant Marine all have one league loss, and Coast Guard, which is playing the latter this week, has two. It's been a crazy season with the parity at the top of the standings, but we will side with the team that we thought would be the best Div. 3 team in Mass. all year, and that's the Pride.

Prediction: Springfield 22, MIT 20

Last week: 15-7

Season: 171-79