The pressure is on this week for Methuen and North Andover, two teams that have taken very different paths.
Methuen, which won its first four games, has lost two straight, while the Knights have won their last two to move back into the playoff race. Both have one thing in common, however — they must win this game if they want to participate in the playoffs.
In the MVC Division 2, Tewksbury is looking nearly invincible and Haverhill currently has the upper hand for the second spot. North Andover, however, will be in a good position if it knocks off the Rangers.
With Austin George-Williams for Methuen and Casey Walsh for North Andover, both teams have skilled quarterbacks, with at least one capable running back available for each QB. It may come down to depth at receiver and the Knights may have an edge in that department.
Whoever gets the hot hand and avoids turnovers should decide it:
PREDICTION: North Andover 21 Methuen 14
La Salle, R.I. (4-1) at Andover (2-3)
With running back Jack Sylvester back and going for over 200 yards last Friday, Andover looked much better. But they face a tough task in Rhode Island power La Salle.
Prediction: La Salle 27, Andover 14
Haverhill (4-1) at Tewksbury (5-0)
Hillie coach Tim O’Connor will be more than happy to have me pick against him. Tommy Maguire and Haverhill are red hot, but I just don’t see how Tewksbury will lose to anyone in the MVC Division 2.
Prediction: Tewksbury 21, Haverhill 10
Timberlane (1-5) at Winnacunnet (3-2)
The Owls have not had good luck recently and it’s not likely to get much better.
Prediction: Winnacunnet 28, Timberlane 17
Pinkerton (4-2) at Manchester West (0-6)
This could get ugly, but hopefully not until area rushing king Manny Latimore puts up some big numbers.
Prediction: Pinkerton 49, Manchester West 7
Londonderry (3-3) at Manchester Central (3-2)
Manchester Central has improved a ton since the start of the season, and even another big game for Lancers back Dennis Bishop (312 yards last week) might not be enough.
Prediction: Manchester Central 34, Londonderry 20
Merrimack (3-3) at Salem (1-5)
Salem showed some real grit last week, losing by just a single score, and could pull off an upset.
Prediction: Merrimack 26, Salem 16
Central Catholic (4-1) at Billerica (0-5)
Central is surging, and there is virtually not chance Billerica, after being crushed by Andover a week ago, can win this game.
Prediction: Central 41, Billerica 14
Lawrence (0-5) at Dracut (0-5)
This should be a duel of quarterbacks and Lawrence’s Nelson Valerio is healthier than Dracut’s Tyler Bassett and very hungry to break into the win column.
Prediction: Lawrence 26, Dracut 16
North Reading (2-3) at Triton (3-2)
The Hornets are banged up, including top back C.J. McCarthy.
Prediction: Triton 26, North Reading 8
Saugus (1-4) at Pentucket (4-0)
Red-hot QB Ryan Kuchar and the Sachems will lose eventually — or so I think — but not this week.
Prediction: Pentucket 28, Saugus 14
Windham (5-1) at Hollis-Brookline (1-5)
Behind the ever growing confidence of QB Brendan McInnis, the Jaguars rarely lose when they’re favored.
Prediction: Windham 33, Hollis-Brookline 13
Amesbury (2-3) at Georgetown (0-5)
The Indians have too much depth for the banged up Royals.
Prediction: Amesbury 27, Georgetown 7
Gr. Lowell (0-5) at Whittier (3-2)
Greater Lowell’s defense leaves a lot to be desired and the Wildcats have shown some pop, scoring over 30 points three times.
Prediction: Whittier 39, Gr. Lowell 13
Fall Mountain (2-4) at Pelham (6-0)
All year long, Pelham’s defense has risen to the occasion.
Prediction: Pelham 29, Fall Mountain 6
Kearsarge (2-4) at Sanborn (3-3)
The Indians have an excellent chance of finishing at or above .500, but it’s far from automatic.
Prediction: Sanborn 20, Kearsarge 14
Brooks (1-3) at Governor’s Academy (6-0)
Governor’s hasn’t lost a game since 2010 and it won’t start now.
Prediction: Governor’s Academy 38, Brooks 14
Northfield Mt. Hermon (0-4) at Phillips Academy (4-0)
This is good scheduling for Parents Weekend.
Prediction: Phillips Academy 41, Northfield Mt. Hermon 14
Season record: 64-24