With the playoffs nearly here in the newly realigned MIAA football scene, a true favorite has yet to establish itself in the Merrimack Valley Conference Division race.
Central Catholic appears to have the upper hand but, just two weeks ago, Chelmsford looked awfully strong while defeating Andover. Then, last week, Lowell knocked off the Lions to put their name back near the top.
Andover, meanwhile, seemed lost a couple of weeks ago, but it looked rejuvenated the last two weeks and seems to be getting its act together. It can get into the playoff picture Friday at Lowell.
But first things first. Central must take care of business tomorrow by winning the MVC outright and, if the Raiders can establish a running game to supplement Mike Milano, they’ll do just that.
PREDICTION: Central Catholic 24, Chelmsford 16
Andover (3-3) at Lowell (4-2)
Wow, was I off the mark about La Salle last week. Jack Sylvester and Will Eikenberry (combined 6 TDs) led a dominant Golden Warrior victory. But I’m pretty confident about Lowell.
Prediction: Lowell 24, Andover 20
North Andover (3-3) at Haverhill (4-2)
If Haverhill can contain Casey Walsh and the North Andover’s passing attack, the Hillies should be able to grind out a pivotal victory with their gritty defense and three-headed running game. But it won’t be easy.
Prediction: Haverhill 21, North Andover 20
Pentucket (5-0) at North Reading (2-4)
The unbeaten Sachems aren’t powerful enough to coast, but led by Jeff Porter (2 TDs last week) and linebacker Josh Wesolowski they’re too good for the banged-up Hornets.
Prediction: Pentucket 28, North Reading 7
Billerica (0-6) at Lawrence (1-5)
Lawrence won a thriller last week on a late Kenny Richards touchdown and it may just win another.
Prediction: Lawrence 26, Billerica 20
Manchester Central (5-2) at Salem (2-5)
The Blue Devils are improved, but they’ll have a hard time stopping star Manchester back Jesiah Wade.