Sept. 6 Friday pick 'em


Our first week did OK. The Twitter fan polls beat us by one game, as we went 2-1 by going out on a limb with UMass, while the realistic ones of the bunch went 3-0.


This week, we are adding Division 2 and 3 games into the mix, so hopefully the bigger slate can reap bigger rewards.


Let's get to it.


High schools


No. 3 Springfield Central at No. 2 Everett


For all we know at this point, these could actually be the two best teams in the state. Both are fast, physical, and swarming on defense. Also, both have a lot of young players on the field, so nerves could be an issue before everyone settles in. You could make an argument for either team, but we will go with the Crimson Tide, who don't have to make that long trek on the Pike.


Prediction: Everett 28, Springfield Central 21


No. 6 Xaverian at No. 14 Barnstable


In some respects, these teams will be mirror images of each other. Both will have big offensive lines that can push forward and run the ball effectively. This will be power football for 48 minutes. The question will be whether or not someone can throw the ball effectively enough to complement the bruisers. We feel like both can, but since Xaverian is bringing back its starting quarterback in Michael Berluti, we like the Hawks, even with the long bus ride down to the Cape.


Prediction: Xaverian 17, Barnstable 16


No. 11 BC High at No. 8 Mansfield


A year ago, these teams battled in Dorchester, and Mansfield won, 21-7. We know this is an oversimplified analysis, but even though the Eagles have gotten better than last year, we think Mansfield has, too, and is playing on its home turf. Mansfield is also older and more experienced at key positions. We'll ride with the Hornets on that.


Prediction: Mansfield 20, BC High 16


No. 16 Duxbury at No. 18 Brockton


Right now, this is a case of not putting too much emphasis on 7-on-7. Duxbury has looked sharp in the preseason, while the Boxers have appeared sloppy at times and not quite ready for prime time. Brockton has not lost a home opener since 2014 (14-6 to St. John's Prep). This is the toughest opponent the Boxers will have faced since then.


Prediction: Duxbury 24, Brockton 13


No. 17 North Attleboro at No. 9 King Philip


This is one of the hardest picks of the weekend, but we keep coming back to one thing: North Attleboro ended King Philip's 25-game winning streak last year. You can bet the score of that game (14-7) has been beaten into the heads of the Warriors over and over all offseason. Here it is again, just turned around.


Prediction: King Philip 14, North Attleboro 7


Bridgewater-Raynham at No. 7 St. John's Prep


We liked what we saw from B-R in the preseason, and the future is bright for the Trojans with so much young talent on the roster. That said, the Prep is a lot further along, and while this game should be closer than a year ago, the Eagles feel like the better team right now.


Prediction: St. John's Prep 20, Bridgewater-Raynham 10


Needham at No. 15 Natick


Things have been quiet when it comes to Needham. Maybe a little too quiet. The Rockets will have a big offensive line and a receiver in Odahri Hibberts who is as good of a skill player as anyone on that field. Still, we went in on Natick as the best team in the Bay State Conference leading up to this game, and we'll stick to that.


Prediction: Natick 17, Needham 14


Hingham at Braintree


Both teams should be able to run the ball fairly well, and each has height at either the wide receiver or tight end positions. The host Wamps did lose a lot to graduation, especially the dynamic Billy Silvia, who stood out on offense, defense, and special teams. The Harbormen lost a lot, too, but bring back enough to come away victorious.


Prediction: Hingham 14, Braintree 13


Bishop Feehan at Milton


The Shamrocks have a lot going for them and we consider them one of the top teams in Division 3 South. Milton is flying under the radar a little bit and playing at home. Still, we're going with a Shamrocks team that had trouble winning the close ones a year ago get one here.


Prediction: Bishop Feehan 30, Milton 28


St. John Paul II at West Bridgewater


This features two of the best teams in Division 8, and there are some interesting storylines here. St. John Paul II has a very experienced roster, while West Bridgewater welcomes in the Justin Kogler era after the ousting of the legendary Bill Panos. We feel like Kogler will do well at his new job. We just think the Lions are a little bit further along.


Prediction: St. John Paul II 32, West Bridgewater 26


Dartmouth at Falmouth


By this time next year, Dartmouth will be in the Southeastern Conference with the likes of New Bedford, Brockton, Durfee, and Bridgewater-Raynham. That's a natural fit, and Falmouth has already made its jump to the Cape & Islands Large. Dartmouth is a bit of a sleeper in Division 4, so we are going to take the Indians to leave the Cape with a "W."


Prediction: Dartmouth 33, Falmouth 22


Acton-Boxboro at Lexington


The Colonials lost a lot to graduation, and even though we did not throw them in our countdown, this is still a good team. Lexington is breaking in new coach Mike Hill, who comes over from Matignon. We like A-B on the road here.


Prediction: Acton-Boxboro 34, Lexington 21


Rockland at Nantucket


The running back talent in this game is about as good as you'll see anywhere in this state. Rockland returns Dante Vasquez, while Nantucket counters with Torane Burton and Devonte Usher. That boat ride to Nantucket is one of the best home field advantages around, and we think that makes a difference here.


Prediction: Nantucket 32, Rockland 28


Plymouth South at Chicopee Comp


A year ago, Plymouth South came away from this game victorious, but in the other EMass-WMass battle of the night, we are going to go with the home team again. Comp brings back more and should be much improved.


Prediction: Chicopee Comp 35, Plymouth South 32


Colleges


New Hampshire at Holy Cross


Given the circumstances around the health issues with UNH coach Sean McDonnell, this is an emotional game for the Wildcats. We feel like interim head man Ricky Santos, though, is the right person to guide this group through the pain and channel it into a strong performance.


Prediction: New Hampshire 37, Holy Cross 27


Southern Illinois at UMass


We know this could be a very nightmarish thing to imagine the Minutemen losing to a Football Championship Subdivision team. We think UMass catches that first win after the Rutgers game got away from the Minutemen after that mirage of a first quarter.


Prediction: UMass 45, Southern Illinois 27


Richmond at Boston College


The Eagles are most likely pretty physically drained after that win over Virginia Tech. But we just don't see any real upset potential here.


Prediction: Boston College 45, Richmond 14


Merrimack at Central Connecticut


Merrimack's jump to the FCS level got off to a nice start last week, but this will be a process that takes a lot longer than a couple games to get moving in a true positive direction. Central Connecticut should win this.


Prediction: Central Connecticut 40, Merrimack 17


Assumption at Kutztown


This is the best matchup out of all the Northeast-10 non-leaguers this weekend. Both of these teams are receiving votes in the AFCA poll. However, we feel like the NE-10 may be a little bit down this year on the whole, and will go with the hosts here.


Prediction: Kutztown 38, Assumption 27


Springfield at Western New England


This rivalry never really gets old, and these two make for a great way to kick off the Division 3 season in New England. We don't know how these teams will finish the year, but it's never easy to stop an option team that executes it as well as Springfield does.


Prediction: Springfield 30, Western New England 21

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