Sectional Crowns on the Line for Area Teams
LOWELL -- The local region will be well represented in the Massachusetts high school football sectional finals this weekend.
Tewksbury, Littleton, Nashoba Tech and Central Catholic will play for North sectional crowns in their respective divisions.
The sectional champions in each North, South, Central and West division will continue the quest for an MIAA state championship.
Division 1 North
Central Catholic (7-2) at St. John’s Prep (8-1) Saturday, 1 p.m.
Central Catholic pulled off the biggest upset of the playoffs last weekend, knocking off-two-time defending Div. 1 state champion Everett, 23-20, on a 33 yard field goal by Nick Mazzie with 57 seconds left to play.
The loss snapped Everett’s 27 game win streak. Mazzie’s father, Steven, is Everett’s Police Chief.
After the win of a lifetime, the Raiders must regroup and play an even bigger game against a St. John’s Prep club they lost to, 31-12, in the second game of the season.
Since losing back-to-back games to St. John’s Prep and North Andover, the fourth-seeded Raiders have ripped off six straight victories, including a convincing, 40-9, win over Lexington in a Division 1 North quarterfinal.
Running back AJ Caggionelli and quarterback Jared Silverio have been leading the way on Central Catholic’s potent offense.
Linebacker Cam Boes is a fixture on the Raiders’ defense.
St. John’s Prep is the second-seed and has posted postseason wins over Haverhill, 41-0, and Acton-Boxboro, 55-28.
Quarterback Matt Crowley and receiver Max Freedman have hooked up for seven touchdown passes in St. John’s Prep two playoff wins.
Division 3 North
Danvers (7-2) at Tewksbury (8-1), Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
For the second straight season Tewksbury, the defending Division 3 North champion, is meeting up with Danvers in the postseason.
Last November the Redmen withstood a late Danvers rally while posting a thrilling, 21-20, victory in a Division 3 North semifinal. Tewksbury preserved the win by stopping a Danvers 2-point conversion attempt with just over a minute left to play.
No. 1 seeded Tewksbury has playoff wins over Billerica, 35-6, and Beverly, 21-14. Third-seeded Danvers knocked off Belmont, 50-35, and Lynn English, 28-7, in the postseason.
Tewksbury’s offense is directed by quarterback Jay Connolly, a three-year starter, who has passed for 1,299 yards and 13 touchdowns this fall. Connolly has also run for four TDs.
“He’s kind of an unheralded guy,” said Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward. “He manages our offense and he just makes big plays. He’s made a bunch of big plays at crucial times, throughout his career, from the time he was a sophomore. He’s a great on the field leader.”
Junior Shane Aylward has made plays running and catching the football. Shane Aylward has rushed for 386 yards and four TDs, and caught 38 passes for 877 yards and eight TDs.
Other big play performers on offense for Tewksbury include Kyle Zervas (6 TDs), Jack Kelly (517 yards rushing, 4 TDs), Kyle Darrigo (4 TDs), Josh Sughrue (2 TD receptions) and Connor Brincklow (1 TD reception).
The Redmen have a proven kicker in Tyler Keough, who has kicked 28 PATs and a game-winning field goal against Methuen.
Defensively, Tewksbury’s swarm to the ball defense is led by Kelly, Trace Trant, Zach Weitz, Derek Graffeo, Colby Wilson, Connor Nugent, Justyn Lester and Brincklow.
The focal points of Danvers’ explosive offense are quarterback Brendan Treacy and running back Matt McCarthy. Former long-time Chelmsford head coach, Bruce Rich, is Danvers’ offensive co-ordinator, and his son, Tim, is a Falcons’ assistant.
“Danvers is really good,” said Brian Aylwad. “There are some familiar faces with Bruce and Timmy Rich are over there working that offense. They look scheme wise like the great teams Chelmsford had over the years.
“They’ve got a good tradition over there. They’ve been in the thick of things every single year that we’ve had this playoff format.”
Division 6 Central
Blackstone-Millville (5-4) vs. Littleton (7-2) at Doyle Field, Leominster, Saturday, 5 p.m.
Under the leadership of head coach Mike Lynn, Littleton, the defending Div. 6 Central champion, has emerged as one of the premier programs in the state.
The Tigers have been regulars at Gillette Stadium on the first Saturday in December. Littleton lost to Middleboro in last year’s Division 6 state final.
Littleton beat Cohasset in the 2013 state title game, and then lost to Cohasset in the 2014 final.
The second-seeded Tigers beat Millbury, 37-22, in last week’s semifinal.
Will Scott had TD runs of 79 and 5 yards while rushing for 130 yards. Mitch Beaudoin scored on a 75 yard run, while Ty Price returned a kickoff for a score.
“We weren’t as methodical as we would like, but we found a way to score points last Friday,” said Lynn. “We scored on offense as well as special teams. It was great to see Ty Price running in the open field like that on our kickoff returns. He’s a newcomer that is really developing into a great player. Millbury was tough on defense. Other than a couple big plays, they really kept us in check.”
Beaudoin has been leading the way on the ground for Littleton, rushing for 627 yards and eight TDs. He has also caught 10 passes, three of which were TDs.
Scott has rushed for 461 yards and eight TDs, and has scored one TD among his 16 pass receptions.
Austin Lynn has been a major contributor on offense, rushing for 284 yards, five TDs and five 2-point conversions, while hauling in a team-leading 27 receptions for 459 yards and four scores.
Evan Lyons has caught 10 passes and 3 TDs.
Quarterback Braden Lynn has passed for 1,220 yards and 11 TDs.
Beaudoin (62 tackles), Brendan Collari (60 tackles), Tucker DeCoste (51 tackles), Tim Kelleher (42 tackles), Price, Kerr Boyle and Luke Tornell are the leaders of the Tigers’ defense.
Blackstone-Millville Regional earned its berth in the sectional final by upsetting No. 1 seed and previously unbeaten Maynard, 23-22. Maynard beat Littleton, 22-20, during the regular season.
Blackstone-Millville’s offense is led by Robbie Siefring, who has rushed for 1,096 yards and 10 TDs.
“We’ve had several players really emerge this year for us on defense,” said Mike Lynn. “Kerr Boyle, Ty Price, Luke Tornell and Timmy Kelleher are all guys that weren’t varsity starters last year, but have really contributed to our success on defense this year.
“We are not as explosive on offense as we’ve been in past years, so defense has been a major point of emphasis for us. We need to keep Blackstone-Millville’s playmakers contained on defense and be opportunistic on offense and special teams in order to win.”
Division 7 North
St. Mary’s (6-3) at Nashoba Tech (6-3), Friday at 7 p.m.
One year after winning the Division 8 Central crown, Nashoba Tech is playing for the Division 7 North title.
The Vikings have made an extremely positive first impression in their first season in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Small School Division.
With Eli Norton and Jose Soba leading the way, Nashoba Tech has posted playoff wins over O’Bryant, 34-14, and Latin Academy, 41-27.
Soba has passed for 1,061 yards and 11 TDs, rushed for 546 yards and nine TDs and caught two touchdown passes.
Norton has run for 664 yards and seven TDs, thrown three TD passes and caught two TD passes.
Tyler Alden is Nashoba Tech’s big-play receiver, hauling in 28 receptions for 542 yards and six TDs.
“A lot of our success has to do with the experience we gained last year,” said Nashoba Tech coach James Creed, whose Vikings are the second seed. “They go out and play relaxed. These playoff games are just like any other game for them.
“I find that in playoff football a lot of times teams go away from their normal approach. They treat it like a special game and really it’s usually the team that doesn’t turn the ball over and treats it like any other game that will succeed.”
Fourth-seeded St. Mary’s has plenty of playoff experience. The Spartans are the defending North Sectional champs and advanced to the state final in 2016. St. Mary’s has posted playoff wins over Georgetown, 49-6, and Greater Lawrence, 30-24. Jalen Echevarria had 218 yards of total offense for St. Mary’s in the win over Greater Lawrence.
“Honestly, you look at them on paper and they have some big tough kids,” said Creed. “They have a complete team. We have to hope we can frustrate them and slow them down a bit. We’re going to need some breaks. We have to create some turnovers. We’re going to need to play our best game of the season.”