Plenty at Stake for Area Teams
We’re just over the midway point in the fall season. How did that happen? And it’s time to take a gander at the records of our local non-football teams to see what they need to make the postseason.
The good news is that as of Saturday morning, none of our local teams have been eliminated from playoff contention; one, though, might as well be. Several teams are on the verge of qualifying. Let’s take a look:
Almost there: Monty Tech (7-3-1), Ayer Shirley (6-3-1)
With seven matches to play, the Bulldogs only need two more wins -- or four more draws -- to punch their ticket. It’s conceivable that their playoff life will come down to the Paper City matchup with the Red Raiders on Oct. 26, but it could be settled with positive play before then. Ayer Shirley is also within striking distance and leads Mid-Wach E (5-0-1) with the Panthers riding a three-match winning streak headed into Monday’s game with Gardner.
Work to do: Fitchburg (3-6-0), Leominster (3-0-5), North Middlesex (5-4-1), Oakmont (4-6-0), Gardner (5-5-1), Lunenburg (4-5-0), Sizer (3-1-2).
Fitchburg has nine matches to play and needs to win six of them; unfortunately, FHS has had to forfeit three earlier wins, including a win over Ayer Shirley, which puts the Red Raiders under the cosh for the last three weeks. Steve McCaughey’s Blue Devils are certainly scrappy and have put together some impressive performances over on the Doyle pitch this fall -- and looking down the schedule, it’s entirely possible that the difficult portion of their fixtures is over for the time being. I figure LHS needs seven points to qualify, and it can certainly achieve that.
November futbol for the Granite Streeters. The Patriots of NM have plenty of toughies left, but they, too, need seven points to qualify with eight matches left. Same with Gardner. Lunenburg has dropped four in a row but can right things with a win against Narragansett on Wednesday. The Knights play Oakmont twice, and the Spartans are in the thick of things: ORHS needs to win four of its last six or the equivalent of eight points. And Sizer sits second in the WCAC right now with six, possibly seven, matches remaining.
In the rear-view: Nashoba (1-7-0).
Fair play to the Chieftains, who have a killer schedule. But with 10 matches left, Nashoba is on the verge of elimination. Three more losses will knock the Route 117ers out.
We have a qualifier!
Qualified: Oakmont (8-0-1).
Randy Jepson’s Spartans qualified this past Thursday with a 3-1 win over Tyngsboro, and with seven matches remaining in the regular season, it’s now time to boost their seeding. I would be lying if I said I weren’t salivating over the thought of Oakmont playing Sutton on Sunday, Oct. 21. Really solid test for the South Ashburnhammers.
Almost there: North Middlesex (5-3-3), Nashoba (4-1-3), Ayer Shirley (7-1-0).
With seven matches to go, the Patriots are within striking distance and need seven points to qualify. NM handed scrappy Nashoba its only loss , and the two will play each other Oct. 16. NM should make it, but needs to play its best football this week to make its road easier. For the Chieftains, they have nine remaining and have some toughies coming up, including Mid-Wach B leaders Westboro twice. But first, dispatching Leominster on Tuesday should be no problem. The Panthers of Ayer Shirley are tied for first in Mid-Wach E at 5-0-0 with Tahanto, and with nine matches remaining, need two wins to qualify via 50 percent. If both Ayer Shirley and Tahanto win their next two league games, then Monday, Oct. 22 is for the league title.
Work to do: Gardner (4-6-1), St. Bernard’s (3-6-0).
The Wildcats can really do themselves a favor with at least two wins this week, and we figure they’ll get them as they take on Lunenburg on Monday and Fitchburg on Tuesday. They would then need six points in the last five, with toughies against Littleton, Tyngsboro and Bromfield on the docket. St. Bernard’s has a tough schedule and needs six wins out of its last nine; the Bernardians could be in the rear-view depending on what they do this week.
In the rear-view: Fitchburg (0-5-1), Leominster (0-8-1), Monty Tech (1-6-1), Lunenburg (0-7-2).
Leominster, Lunenburg, and Monty Tech will more than likely be eliminated by the end of this week; Fitchburg in two.
Qualified: Nashoba (10-0-0).
Jamie Mariani’s Chieftains have run roughshod over everyone and have only allowed four goals. The closest game was a 3-0 win over Oakmont. Nashoba will have two solid tests in the final week of the regular season leading into the tournament.
Almost there: Oakmont (4-1-5), North Middlesex (4-3-3), Lunenburg (6-3-2).
With six games remaining including four league games, Oakmont (3-0-1) leads Mid-Wach C and if it performs well enough in the next four (all league games), the Spartans will be in; two, possibly three, more wins should wrap the league up. North Middlesex has two toughies this week in Oakmont and Lunenburg; I see three gimmes in the remaining seven. Winning those should be enough. Jen Biery’s Blue Knights should get in and need six points to do so; Lunenburg has Bromfield on Tuesday, and the Trojans were 1-0 winners the last time. A positive result for LHS on Monday should keep the ship in the right direction.
Work to do: Monty Tech (4-6-0), St. Bernard’s (2-5-1).
With seven left, Monty Tech needs 10 points. I think the Bulldogs are assured of eight, and it may come down to the game against the Bernardians on Oct. 25. St. B’s beat MT the last time they played. St. Bernard’s is still in play thanks to the way the CMC is playing out: all four teams have one win.
In the rear-view: Fitchburg (1-8-0), Leominster (1-7-1), Gardner (1-7-1).
A loss Friday to Marlboro, who already beat the Raiders, 11-0, earlier this year, will eliminate the Red and Gray. And despite Leominster’s record, the Blue Devils are scrappy and haven’t been blown out. With Gardner’s remaining schedule, it’s possible it has already been eliminated.
Qualified: Nashoba (11-2).
The Chieftains have only dropped seven sets all year.
Almost there: North Middlesex (7-5), Leominster (5-3), Fitchburg (4-6).
In the rear-view: St. Bernard’s (1-9), Monty Tech (3-7), Ayer Shirley (3-5).
Things that have me excited: October baseball, Chris Sale pitching a solid six frames, Giancarlo Stanton Golden Sombreros, hearing Bon Jovi’s “This Is Our House” ring out repeatedly over Gillette, the end of the Revolution season, Kyrie Irving staying on Causeway Street, almost the high school playoffs, Fitchburg two wins in a row, getting back to work with the Fitchburg High Hall of Fame, Monty Tech football getting off the schnide.
Things that have me dismayed: Leominster football (they aren’t that bad, folks), Aaron Judge at-bats, the end of the Revolution season, the fact Boston doesn’t have an NWSL team any longer, that the Stanley Cup is seemingly going through Washington again, having to mow my lawn one more time.