EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 13, 2013

Everett's defense may make the difference

Grid Picks
Dave Dyer

---- — Central Catholic will take on a new challenge Saturday afternoon at Everett.

For the first time in the playoffs, the Raiders will be on the road and, for one of the first times this year, they’ll be a definite underdog.

Everett, which is traditionally at or near the top of the ladder, has been ranked No. 1 in Eastern Mass. much of the season and is coming off a 21-0 pasting of Lowell. It’s switched from a spread offense to a run-first scheme with success, averaging 31 points a game, but its defense is what has really stood out.

Against Lowell, University of Wisconsin-bound defensive back Lubern Figaro had two interception and, except for one play early, the Red Raiders could not run the ball.

Central’s offense is much more balanced than Lowell, and quarterback Mike Milano is playing his best ball of the season. But it still may be difficult for the Raiders to score much on a defense that is giving up just eight points a game.

If this game were in Lawrence, I’d pick the Raiders, but it’s not. Prediction: Everett 21, Central Catholic 14

TOMORROW’S GAMES

Chelmsford (5-4) at Andover (5-4)

This is a good chance to see how much Andover has improved in the last few weeks And it’s a chance for redemption after Chelsmford beat the Warriors 43-22 earlier in the season.

Prediction: Chelmsford 30, Andover 28

Lynn Classical (5-4) at North Andover (4-5)

The Knights still have a chance for a winning season. That should be ample motivation.

Prediction: North Andover 34, Lynn Classical 28

Lawrence (2-7) at Peabody (3-6)

Playing for pride is what this game is all about, and Lawrence has done that while winning two of its last four.

Prediction: Lawrence 36, Peabody 29

Weston (3-6) at North Reading (5-4)

C.J. McCarthy (264 yards, 5 TDs last week) and the Hornets continue to make a statement.

Prediction: North Reading 33, Weston 19

Reading (6-2) at Haverhill (6-3)

The Hillies need to get healthy and fine tune their passing game in order to get back on track. Is there enough time for both?

Prediction: Reading 20, Haverhill 17

St. John’s Prep (5-4) at Methuen (5-4)

Has Methuen ever played St. John’s Prep? This would be a great win for the Rangers if they can pull it off against a bruised and battered Prep team missing, among others, Penn State-bound running back Johnny Thomas.

Prediction: Methuen 21, St. John’s Prep 20

SATURDAY’S GAMES

Pinkerton (8-2) at Keene (8-2)

Keene has its best team in years and would love nothing better than to knock off the Astros. But Pinkerton is coming on strong and is relatively healthy. A healthy Manny Latimore likely means a big Astro victory.

Prediction: Pinkerton 28, Keene 14

Sanborn (6-4) at Plymouth (9-1)

Plymouth has tradition, good talent and the home field advantage. What more does it need?

Prediction: Plymouth 35, Sanborn 14

Bedford (8-1) at Pentucket (7-1)

Bedford’s defense has only given up five points a game. But Pentucket has plenty of weapons including emerging D.J. Engelke and QB Ryan Kuchar.

Prediction: Bedford 17, Pentucket 7

Brighton (7-2) at Whittier (5-4)

Traditionally, Whittier fares well against Boston-area schools, but this one won’t be so easy.

Prediction: Whittier 36, Brighton 34

Georgetown (2-7) at Gr. Lawrence (4-5)

Both teams have won two straight, but the Reggies won in Georgetown when the Royals still had Colby Ingraham, so ...

Prediction: Gr. Lawrence 28, Georgetown 14

Phillips Academy (8-0) vs. Brunswick (7-1)

Brunswick is averaging 46 points a game on offense. But, assuming there’s no letdown after knocking off arch-rival Phillips Exeter, I like the Big Blue’s chances.

Prediction: Phillips Academy 38, Brunswick 35

Season record: 122-36