Story lines and predictions for Friday’s and Saturday’s EMass sectional football finals.
■ Knight moves in Westwood
Xaverian (7-1) hosts Catholic Memorial (7-2) Friday night in a rematch of last year’s D1 South final. This meeting promises to be closer than the Hawks’ 35-7 win last November. John DiBiaso’s Knights built a 17-0 lead over the Hawks on Sept. 28 before yielding 25 unanswered points in an overtime loss. Pick: CATHOLIC MEMORIAL
■ Central casting?
After stunning two-time defending champion Everett, Central Catholic (7-2) faces another monumental task at St. John’s Prep (8-1) Saturday. With senior receiver Wes Rockett back in the fold, the Eagles’ attack soared in the semis against Acton-Boxborough, 55-28. Even with starting back Aise Pream sidelined, Prep has weapons all over the field. Pick: ST. JOHN’S PREP
■ Kings of the South?
A year ago, King Philip defeated Mansfield in the regular season and in the D2 South semis en route to a second consecutive state title. On Sept. 28, Mansfield (7-2) denied KP’s 2-point conversion with 39 seconds left in a 28-27 win over the Warriors (7-2). Pick: MANSFIELD
■Showdown at last
North Andover (9-0) and Lincoln-Sudbury (8-1) seemingly have been on a collision course for a rematch in the D2 North bracket all season long. Thanks to a successful Hail Mary against Reading, L-S is marching to the sectional final and a showdown against the undefeated Scarlet Knights. Pick: NORTH ANDOVER
■ Rivals clash on big stage
Duxbury swept Hingham in both the regular season and D3 South semis last year. Since 2007, the Dragons (9-0) have won 12 straight in the series, but many of those games have gone down to the wire. Hingham (7-2) has won four straight since its 38-20 loss to Duxbury on Oct. 5. Pick: DUXBURY
■ Another classic at Doucette?
Danvers fell to Tewksbury in a 21-20 classic in last year’s D3 North semifinals. In 2015, Tewksbury edged the Falcons, 14-13, en route to a sectional title. Will the third meeting at Tewksbury’s Doucette Field provide more late-game drama Saturday between Danvers (7-2) and the host Redmen (8-1)? Pick: DANVERS
■ Clicking at the right time?
Milton (7-2) started slowly in the postseason but rallied to defeat Westwood before handling Hopkinton, 34-7, in the D4 South semis. Can the second-seeded Wildcats, led by the cool hand of senior QB Luke McMenamin (25 TD passes), stay hot on the road against top-seeded Dighton-Rehoboth (7-2)? Pick: MILTON
■Return to glory?
After dispatching Revere for the second time this season, Gloucester (8-1) tackles Wayland (7-2) in the D4 North final. The Fishermen have been relatively quiet since going 50-2 with three state championships from 2007-10, but hope for a return to glory by moving one step closer to a Super Bowl appearance at Gillette Stadium. Pick: GLOUCESTER
■Can Scituate complete gauntlet?
The D5 South bracket was as balanced as any in the tournament this year, but Scituate (8-1) has managed to survive shootouts against Dennis-Yarmouth and Holliston. The Sailors’ reward is home-field advantage in the South final against one-loss Canton (8-1), which recorded an emphatic 35-6 win over previously unbeaten Falmouth. Pick: SCITUATE
■ Aiming for an upset
The top seed in D5 North, Swampscott (8-1) has been dominant in the postseason. Second-seeded Amesbury (8-1) may not have played as challenging a schedule as the Big Blue, but the Indians are capable of pulling out a win Saturday afternoon at Blocksidge Field. Pick: SWAMPSCOTT
■ Noe lack of offense
With senior wide receiver/kick returner Tyler Noe adding a dynamic element to the offense, Old Rochester (9-0) is averaging 35.2 points per game. Can second-seeded Ashland (8-1) contain the Bulldogs’ versatile attack in the D6 South final? Pick: OLD ROCHESTER
Stoneham (9-0) produced a game-winning drive in the final minutes to edge Hamilton-Wenham, 20-18, in the D6 North final last year. In the rematch, can H-W (7-2) keep pace with a Spartan attack averaging 42.3 points per game? Pick: STONEHAM
■ Against the odds
A small vocational school, Nashoba Valley Tech (6-3) appealed to the MIAA to remain in D8 after shifting from the Colonial Athletic (Central) to the Commonwealth Athletic (North). Its plea was denied, but the second-seeded Vikings will host the D7 North final against St. Mary’s (6-3), an extremely talented private school team. Pick: ST. MARY’S
■ Can West Bridgewater stop the triple option?
With 33-year-coach Bill Panos calling the shots, top-seeded West Bridgewater (8-1) should be prepared for anything in the D8 South final Friday. Visiting Coyle & Cassidy (7-2) presents a unique challenge, however, with a triple-option offense led by junior QB Jackson Murray. Pick: COYLE & CASSIDY
Boston English/New Mission (8-0) is one of six undefeated teams left in EMass and is gunning for a sectional title in its first season as a co-operative program. However, unbeaten host Pope John (9-0) is also looking for hardware. Pick: POPE JOHNNate Weitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.