The time for reflection is over. The time to take charge is now for the Haverhill and Lawrence football teams.
Both teams, who had last week off, badly need a victory when they square off tomorrow night in Lawrence. Haverhill needed to regroup after being whacked by Central Catholic and Lawrence needed to find a way to break the ice after opening the season with two losses, at least one of which the Lancers could have won.
Haverhill may boast a superior running game, paced by sophomore Ian Kessel (224 rushing yards, 3 TDs), and has an opportunistic defense, but Lawrence has a potentially explosive air attack and can score points in a hurry thanks to talented quarterback Nelson Valerio (411 passing yards, 5 TD).
This comes down to a game of breaks and the odds are that Lawrence is due to get a couple.
PICK: Lawrence 26, Haverhill 20
Central (2-1) at Andover (1-1)
Even though it’s not Thanksgiving, this should draw a huge crowd. If running back Jack Sylvester is healthy, Andover’s offense can score points, but Central should be ready after facing Johnny Thomas last week and the Raiders’ offense has looked terrific led by QB Mike Milano (393 passing yards).
PICK: Central Catholic 26, Andover 17
Tewksbury (3-0) at North Andover (0-2)
Tewksbury has its best team in years — which is saying something — and North Andover needs some answers quick.
PICK: Tewksbury 39, North Andover 22
Georgetown (0-2) at Manchester (1-1)
If only the Royals could clone Colby Ingraham, they’d be much more successful.
PICK: Manchester 21, Georgetown 14
Salem (0-3) at Bedford (3-0)
The Blue Devils are working hard and battled Pinkerton to the finish last week, but the schedule isn’t being kind to them.
PICK: Bedford 35, Salem 14
North Reading (2-0) at Newburyport (1-1)
The Clippers are usually tough to beat at home but, if they can avoid costly turnovers, I like the Hornets’ chances. North Reading running back C.J. McCarthy (322 yards, 4 TDs in two games) has been a force.
PICK: North Reading 20, Newburyport 16
Sanborn (2-1) at Monadnock (3-0)
This is a winnable game, and would be a huge boost for the Indians, but the home team rates an edge.
PICK: Monadnock 26, Sanborn 20
Dracut (0-2) at Methuen (3-0)
Dracut only lost by a point to Reading last week and is far better than its record indicates. But Methuen is red hot led by QB Austin George-Williams (417 passing yards, 4 TDs).
PICK: Methuen 24, Dracut 20
Whittier (2-1) at Gr. Lawrence (1-2)
The Reggies would like to get back on track after last week, but it won’t happen against Whittier and running back Jesus Sanchez (424 yards, 2 TDs).
PICK: Whittier 26, Gr. Lawrence 20
Triton (2-0) at Pentucket (1-0)
Triton has its best team in years — beating Amesbury and Swampscott by a combined 73-14 margin — and it had a week off to prepare for the Sachems. Pentucket looked great last week (297 rushing yards) but its run defense worries me a bit.
PICK: Triton 28, Pentucket 17
Timberlane (1-2) at Dover (0-3)
This is a must-win game for the Owls. It beat Alvirne on the road while Dover fell to Alvirne.
PICK: Timberlane 27, Dover 24
Londonderry (2-1) at Pinkerton (2-1)
The Astros have made up for their loss in the opener with convincing wins over Manchester Central and Salem, and may have learned a lot to help them the rest of the year. Jack Hanaway (3 TD runs) seems to have taken the QB job.
PICK: Pinkerton 31, Londonderry 20
Windham (2-1) at John Stark (1-2)
John Stark barely nipped Pembroke (14-13) last week.
PICK: Windham 27, John Stark 7
Phillips (1-0) at Kent (1-0)
Kent defeated Brunswick in a barnburner, 40-29, last week. Phillips won huge in its opener.
PICK: Phillips Academy 35, Kent 33
Nobles (1-0) at Brooks (1-0)
Brooks has a decent shot at going 2-0.
PICK: Brooks 20, Nobles 16
Season record: 27-12