EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 19, 2013

Central's added weapons provide edge over Prep

Grid Picks
Dave Dyer

---- — It’s time for the heavyweights to shine in prime time.

Central Catholic hosts St. John’s Prep tomorrow in a battle of archrivals and two of the top-10 teams in Eastern Mass, who both have legitimate postseason hopes when the new playoff format begins.

No. 4-ranked St. John’s (1-1) was the preseason No. 1 team in Division 1 and is coming off a convincing win over Brockton while No. 9 Central Catholic (2-0) looked mighty impressive last week in its 40-0 pasting of Haverhill and is busting with confidence.

The Prep is led by All-Scholastic running back Johnny Thomas, who is committed to Maryland and ran for 1,794 yards and 15 touchdown last season while leading the Prep to the Division 1 Super Bowl title. The Eagles also boasts some strong linemen and a potentially solid defense.

But Central seems to have more weapons. Quarterback Mike Milano is looking terrific and backs UNH-bound D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie, Mike Balsamo and Markus Edmunds are more than capable. That’s why, if the Raiders can hold Thomas to, say a touchdown and 135 yards or so, I like Central’s chances.

PICK: Central Catholic 26, St. John’s Prep 24

TOMORROW’S GAMES

Somersworth (0-1) at Pelham (2-0)

We should know if Pelham — which has gained 678 yards in two games — is for real after this one. The two wins have been promising.

PICK: Somersworth 22, Pelham 16

Pentucket (0-0) at Amesbury (0-1)

Finally, the Sachems open their season. They’d better win this one against an Indians team that lost 40-7 to Triton, because the schedule down the road looks tough.

PICK: Pentucket 20, Amesbury 14

Bedford (2-0) at Londonderry (2-0)

Bedford is currently ranked No. 2 in the state behind Exeter, but the Lancers have scored 85 points and rushed for 887 yards in two games.

PICK: Bedford 30, Londonderry 14

Hamilton-Wenham (0-1) at North Reading (1-0)

Based on last week, there should be a lot of points scored in this one as normally tough Hamilton-Wenham was torched for 54 points by Bishop Fenwick.

PICK: North Reading 32, Hamilton-Wenham 30

North Andover (0-1) at Beverly (0-2)

The Knights were a late rally away from upending Andover win Week 1 and Beverly has lost two games by a combined six points. They will probably lose another close one.

PICK: North Andover 28, Beverly 20

Timberlane (1-1) at Nashua South (2-0)

Nashua South’s offense is tough to stop, with UNH-bound Trevor Knight at QB.

PICK: Nashua South 39, Timberlane 20

Saturday’s GAMES

Pinkerton (1-1) at Salem (0-2)

Pinkerton’s offense, led by prolific Manny Latimore and crew, should start getting stronger. Salem is suffering growing pains.

PICK: Pinkerton 38, Salem 14

Cambridge (1-1) at Methuen (2-0)

Cambridge is better than it’s been in years, but the Rangers are improved, too.

PICK: Methuen 20, Cambridge 19

Manchester (0-1) at Gr. Lawrence (1-1)

If they avoid turnovers, the Reggies should roll to their second straight win.

PICK: Gr. Lawrence 33, Manchester 22

Souhegan (0-2) at Windham (1-1)

Souhegan isn’t terrible, but it lost to Hanover, which fell to the Jaguars in the season opener. Windham’s rough Week 2 loss was to a powerhouse Plymouth squad.

PICK: Windham 34. Souhegan 22

Pembroke (1-1) at Sanborn (1-1)

Except for one bad quarter, the Indians have played well so far.

PICK: Sanborn 21, Pembroke 20

Loomis Chaffee (0-1) at Phillips Academy (0-0)

Your guess is as good as mine. Loomis lost a close one to Avon Old Farms last week.

PICK: Loomis Chaffee 27, Phillips Academy 24

Brooks (0-0) at Thayer (0-0)

Brooks should be able to score points, but can it play defense? This is a game the Green and White could win for its new head coach.

PICK: Brooks 30, Thayer 24

Season record: 18-7