Sports

MIAA FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS

An inside look at the 2016 high school football playoffs

Westwood, MA 09/10/16 Everett and Xaverian high school football.....................(George Rizer for the Globe) for SPORTS XAVERIAN BACK #33 DEVON PICCININ BREAKS TWO ARM TACKLES AND FOLLOWS BLOCKING UP FRONT...
George Rizer for the Globe
Xaverian running back Devon Piccinin (No. 33) and his teammates, shown here plowing through Everett, hope to gain some traction in the 2016 MIAA football playoffs.

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The MIAA Football Committee unveiled its North and South playoff brackets Sunday afternoon. Eight divisions, from Division 1 to 4A. There are 128 teams (34 with losing records).

Every program, from Abington to Xaverian, has one goal: to be playing on Saturday, Dec. 3, representing its division in a Super Bowl.

Let the games begin (Friday and Saturday). Here’s a breakdown of each bracket.

Division 1 North

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Possibly the deepest its ever been, the North features six teams with legitimate hopes of making it to the Super Bowl. In a first-round matchup for the ages Saturday night, top-five powerhouses Haverhill (6-1) and Everett (5-2) clash. Hillies running back JC Laguerre heads a group of 22 starting seniors who’ve won six straight while scoring over 32 points per game. Seeded seventh, Andover may prove to be a tough out, traveling to Lexington in what may be the first high school game to feature nary a single defensive stop. While Central Catholic (5-1) projects as the favorite, look for Prep to emerge behind the impressive exploits of junior quarterback Mike Yarin (13 touchdown passes) and senior wideout Hayden Rockett (7 touchdown receptions).

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The pick: St. John’s Prep

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Andover at Lexington, 7.

Saturday

Everett at Haverhill, 6; Acton-Boxborough at St. John’s Prep, 1:30; Central Catholic vs. Methuen at Burlington High, 1:30.

Division 1 South

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While Division 1 North appears wide open, No. 2 Xaverian (6-1) has had the South on lock since the inception of the current MIAA playoff system. Top seed for four straight years and winners of two straight Super Bowls, the Hawks are strong as ever fresh off a 17-0 win over No. 11 BC High (4-2). Seniors Mekhi Henderson and AJ Ryan lead a defense that has pitched three shutouts in its past five contests. BC running back Danny Abraham and Newton North wide receiver Bryce Adam may make noise in the bottom of the bracket, and seventh-seeded Brockton (4-3) could prove to be a difficult out, but nobody is stopping the Westwood winning machine here.

The pick: Xaverian

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Franklin at Xaverian, 7; Needham at Catholic Memorial, 7; Braintree at BC High, 7.

Saturday

Brockton at Newton North, 1.

Division 1A North

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Look for defending Division 2 North champion Reading to bring home some more hardware this season. The second-seeded Rockets (5-2) lost to Central Catholic and Lexington, but ride the momentum of a 31-0 win over Arlington in their season finale into the playoffs. Lincoln-Sudbury (6-1) should roll into the North final, but Reading’s experience and schedule gives the Rockets the advantage.

The pick: Reading

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Cambridge at Lincoln-Sudbury, 7; Peabody at Westford, 7; Malden Catholic at Reading, 7; Revere at Chelmsford, 7.

Division 1A South

Undefeated King Philip (7-0) holds the top seed and Wellesley (7-0) takes the second seed, but the strength of Bridgewater-Raynham’s schedule sets up the Trojans for success. Sixth-seeded B-R finished the regular season 4-3, but its losses came against Duxbury, Dartmouth, and St. John’s Prep. And don’t forget: the Trojans also ended reigning Division 1 Super Bowl champion Xaverian’s 25-game win streak with a gritty 22-21 victory.

The pick: Bridgewater-Raynham

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Attleboro at King Philip, 7; Bridgewater-Raynham at Natick, 7; Marshfield at Mansfield, 7.

Saturday

Hingham at Wellesley, 1.

Division 2 North

Following their 20-7 victory over the No. 2 seed Billerica on Saturday, the Redmen of Tewksbury look as the favorite in Division 2 North. Though, I still wouldn’t count out the Indians. If Beverly can find a way to put together a full game with a healthy Hugh Calice, they could be a sleeper.

The pick: Tewksbury

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Concord-Carlisle at Billerica, 7; Waltham at Masconomet, 7.

Saturday

Somerville at Beverly, 1; Medford at Tewksbury, 1:30.

Division 2 South

Duxbury and its high-powered offense might be the top seed, but Dartmouth is the two-time defending state champs and have surprised in the playoffs before. A rematch of Hockomock foes Stoughton and Milford will face off in the first round following the Black Knights’ 28-0 win over the Scarlet Hawks on Friday.

The Pick: Dartmouth

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Pembroke at Duxbury, 7; Milford at Stoughton, 7; Whitman-Hanson at North Attleborough, 7; Walpole at Dartmouth, 7.

Division 2A North

The first round features two of the division’s leading scorers in senior classmates Mike Pedrini from Melrose and Gloucester’s Christian Sanfilippo, each of whom have racked up 96 points. Sanfilippo could help the Fishermen in the second round against undefeated No. 1 seed Marblehead, which has outscored opponents, 240-63. The Magicians are the pick to come out of the North side of Division 2A, but North Reading senior back Matt McCarthy (2A scoring leader with 111 points) could help put up a fight for the Hornets in the 2A North finals.

The pick: Marblehead

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Wayland at Marblehead, 7; Melrose at Gloucester, 7; Bedford at North Reading, 7; Wakefield at Danvers, 7.

Division 2A South

Two first-round matchups feature teams with identical records. Milton could pull off a small upset between the 5 and 4 seeds, but won’t be able to topple the undefeated and top-seeded Falmouth Clippers in the second round, due to the presence of D-2A’s second-leading scorer, senior Michael LaFrange. Falmouth will have its hands full in the South finals with Westwood’s Antonucci brothers, senior Robbie (68 points scored) and junior Jake (48 points). Still, Falmouth will prevail due to senior signal-caller Nick Couhig who ranks third in scoring in the South.

The pick: Falmouth

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Norwood at Falmouth, 7; Somerset Berkley at Westwood, 7; Scituate at Silver Lake, 7.

Saturday

Milton at Medfield, 7.

Division 3 North

In Week 4, a failed 2-point conversion late in the fourth quarter was all that separated Newburyport and Pentucket in a 21-19 Sachems win. Newburyport hopes homefield advantage makes the difference in the playoffs. Triton (5-2) lost two tough matchups to high-ranking, higher-division teams in Masconomet and North Reading, but remain stout against Division 3 opponents. Bishop Fenwick (6-1) may pose a threat, but the Vikings’ rushing attack behind Liam Spillane makes them the favorite.

The pick: Triton

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Austin Prep at Watertown, 7; Swampscott at Triton, 7; Amesbury at Bishop Fenwick, 7; Pentucket at Newburyport, 7.

Division 3 South

Hanover running back Brad Rogers, the leading scorer in Division 3, and a stingy Indians front seven might be enough to avenge a 21-0 loss in last year’s sectional final to Holliston. The Panthers (6-1) seem more vulnerable than years past. If you’re looking for an underdog, Old Rochester (7-0) has flipped the script from a 0-5 start last year.

The pick: Hanover

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Norton at Hanover, 7; Middleborough at Holliston, 7; Dighton-Rehoboth at Old Rochester, 7; Dennis-Yarmouth at Ashland, 7.

Division 3A North

The first round of the Division 3A North playoffs features a high-powered matchup between the Northeast Golden Knights (5-2) and the Lynnfield Pioneers (4-2). Northeast averages 30 points per game while the Pioneers have put up the same amount of points over their four-game winning streak. While St. Mary’s (7-0) is the favorite to come out of the North, it could face resistance from the Shawsheen Rams (6-1), whose stiff defense has allowed just over a touchdown a game. While the Spartans are chock-full of weapons, the player to watch is Greater Lawrence running back Ojany Belliard who leads the Reggies (5-2) with 16 touchdowns on the year.

The pick: St. Mary’s

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Northeast at Lynnfield, 7; Winthrop at St. Mary’s, Lynn, 7:30.

Saturday

Ipswich at Greater Lawrence, 10:30 a.m.; Stoneham at Shawsheen Tech, Billerica, 6.

Division 3A South

The East Bridgewater Vikings (6-1) enter the Division 3A South playoffs as the clear favorites after capturing the South Shore League Sullivan Division last week. East Bridgewater could face a difficult test in a potential second-round matchup with Wareham (5-2), which is lead by junior running back Isaac Nascimento. Nascimento has been a force this year tallying 19 touchdowns during the regular season. If you’re looking for an entertaining first-round game look no further than Norwell (6-1) hosting Rockland (3-4), which played the Clippers tough in their Week 5 matchup.

The pick: East Bridgewater

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Dover-Sherborn at Archbishop Williams, 6; Fairhaven at East Bridgewater, 7; Bellingham at Wareham, 7; Rockland at Norwell, 7.

Division 4 North

Cathedral (7-0) has been a well-rounded team that has gotten better as the season progressed. Senior wide receiver Khalil Blair is a star on both sides of the ball, with 19 touchdowns this season. Brighton (6-0) is led by quarterback Nate Hall (10 TD passes) and running back Erick Brown (eight TDs). Mystic Valley (5-2) is another team that could make a run.

The pick: Cathedral

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Lynn Tech at Brighton, 6:30; Essex Tech vs. Cathedral at East Boston Stadium, 8.

Saturday

Lowell Catholic vs. East Boston at Chelmsford High School, Chelmsford, 4; Mystic Valley vs. Georgetown at Malden Catholic, Malden, 4.

Division 4 South

Nantucket (7-0) and Mashpee (6-1) figure to be the forerunners in this bracket. Both teams rely on a ground game, but can air it out when needed. Nantucket relies on a powerful line that includes 6-foot-4-inch, 290-pound Cory Ryder. For reigning Division 6 champion Mashpee, quarterback Nick Carpenter returns in his fourth year as a starter and Devaun Ford has been a prime target out of the backfield. Nantucket beat Mashpee, 31-26, this season.

The pick: Mashpee

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Cohasset at Nantucket, 5; Bristol-Plymouth at Mashpee, 7.

Saturday

Bishop Connolly at Diman, 1; Case at Seekonk, 2.

Division 4A North

O’Bryant has won six straight games and is entering the Division 4A North playoffs with a 6-1 record, the best in the bracket. But based on the power ratings, the Tigers will be entering the playoffs as the No. 2 seed behind the 5-1 Latin Academy Dragons. As the top seed, the Dragons may see a semifinal rematch with Boston English. Latin Academy squeezed past English with a 2-0 win in Week 5 on a costly penalty in the end zone resulting in a safety. Ultimately, the 4A North final will pit Latin Academy against O’Bryant.

The pick: O’Bryant

FIRST ROUND

Friday

West Roxbury vs. Latin Academy at White Stadium, Boston, 3:30; New Mission at Boston English, 5; St. Clement vs. O’Bryant at Madison Park High, Boston, 5; Burke at Tech Boston, 5.

Division 4A South

St. John Paul II vs. Upper Cape is Round 1’s juciest matchup, featuring a great offense against a top defense. St. John Paul II scored an average of 37 points per game this season, while Upper Cape only allows 15 points per contest. Upper Cape can keep up on offense, too, as the Rams have put up more than 30 points in their last four games. If St. John Paul II can figure out the Upper Cape defense, this one has the potential to turn into a shootout. Millis is the top-seeded team and came through a tough schedule with games against No. 12 Holliston and Tri-Valley champs Westwood. Its experience against tough opponents will pay huge dividends come tournament time.

The pick: Millis

FIRST ROUND

Friday

Sacred Heart at Millis, 7.

Saturday

Abington at West Bridgewater, 12; St. John Paul II at Upper Cape, 12; Blue Hills at Old Colony, 12.

Emily McCarthy, Karl Capen, Cole McNanna, Mike McMahon, Josh Schrock, Lenny Rowe, and Brandan Blom also contributed to this story.