Who is the boss?
In the Merrimack Valley Conference, there are two trains of thought.
"Any team in the Merrimack Valley Conference with a kid going to play at Wake Forest (Central Catholic's 6-11 Carson Desrosiers) has to be the favorite," says Andover High coach Dave Fazio.
Central coach Rick Nault countered, "Andover beat us and dominated in Hoops for Hope this summer. They have to be the favorite."
For the tie-breaker we'll go to Haverhill coach Mike Trovato.
"Central is the favorite with Carson alone,'' he said. "But Andover is going to be very, very good."
The Raiders feature Desrosiers and 6-foot-7 junior Jimmy Zenevitch but must find a way to replace All-Scholastic guard Billy Marsden.
The debate should be settled with two leagues games, a potential Greater Lawrence Christmas Tournament final and a possible date in the Division 1 North tourney all ahead in the coming months.
Desrosiers, currently checking in at No. 75 on the ESPNU Top 100, might be the cover boy, but he's not the only player in this grudge match.
Zenevitch has attracted notice from the mid-majors at the Division 1 level down into the Division 2 ranks.
Golden Warrior junior Joe Bramanti looks improved from last year, when he was an Eagle-Tribune All-Star, while junior forward Brian Miller might go down as the most heavily recruited football player this region has seen in a decade.
Both teams sport talented freshmen - Central's Joel Berroa and Andover's 6-foot-3 Sam Dowden.
Around the Valley
Methuen earned a signature win a year ago when the Rangers locked down the MVC Small title on Dracut's home floor. Methuen will again look to build on the momentum gained in a strong football season.
Four projected starters were impact gridders, including the dynamic passing duo of Cal Carroll and Raudy Minaya plus ends Jason Doyle and James Staples, while key reserve Steve DiZazzo started in the trenches.