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Scouting reports on the eight MIAA high school football Super Bowls Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough (tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com or at Gillette Stadium; $17 for adults; $14 for students/senior citizens):
Catholic Memorial (9-2) vs. St. John’s Prep (9-2)
What: Division 1 Super Bowl.
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV, radio: NECN, WBZ-FM HD2.
Coaches: St. John’s Prep — Brian St. Pierre (fifth season, 37-18); Catholic Memorial — John DiBiaso (first season, 9-2; 304-75-1 at St. Patrick’s, Weston, and Everett).
Scoring: St. John’s Prep — 32.4 ppg; Catholic Memorial — 32.9 ppg.
Defense: St. John’s Prep — 12.7 ppg; Catholic Memorial — 19.7 ppg.
The heavies up front: St. John’s Prep — James Taylor (6-0, 350); Catholic Memorial — Hunter Salmon (6-3, 285).
Stat check: St. John’s Prep junior quarterback Matt Crowley surpassed the program record of 1,061 passing yards in a season in a 21-0 win over Central Catholic in the D1 North final. Since Aise Pream’s midseason injury, senior Trent Tully has compiled 634 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns over five starts. In Catholic Memorial’s six-game winning streak, sophomore Darius LeClair has 9 rushing touchdowns and junior quarterback Barrett Pratt has thrown 11 touchdown passes. CM is averaging 35.6 points per game during that span.
The captains: St. John’s Prep — RB/DB Aise Pream (Sr.), WR/DB Wes Rockett (Sr.), G/DT Kevin Dewing (Sr.), G/DT James Taylor (Sr.), LB/FB Colton Tangney (Sr.); Catholic Memorial — WR/DB Hunter Tully (Sr.), WR/DB Khari Johnson (Sr.), DE/TE Lucas Folan (Sr.), C Gerard McDermott (Sr.), OT/DT Hunter Salmon (Sr.)
Seniors on the roster: St. John’s Prep — 26; Catholic Memorial — 19.
Last Bowl appearance: St. John’s Prep — 2013; Catholic Memorial — 1976.
Both teams are capable of putting points on the board in a hurry or winning a low-scoring slugfest. Look for CM to mix up its formations and try to use the Eagles’ size in the trenches against them, a formula that worked in a 25-14 win over Xaverian in the D1 South final. The key matchups may still be on the outside, with Prep’s elite receiver tandem of Wes Rockett and Max Freedman facing off with the Knights’ excellent secondary. Khari Johnson and Hunter Tully anchor that unit, while sophomore Zach Mitchell has emerged as a two-way star. Both Prep’s Matt Crowley and CM’s Barrett Pratt have made tremendous strides as junior quarterbacks and could be asked to carry their teams in a pro-style shootout.
Motivated by a frustrating loss to rival Xaverian on Thanksgiving, Prep wins the battle in the trenches and controls the line of scrimmage. The Knights use their speed to battle back in a competitive, high-scoring affair, but Prep prevails on the strength of its defensive line, which can create pressure without blitzing.
St. John’s Prep 28, Catholic Memorial 22
North Andover (11-0) vs. King Philip (9-2)
What: Division 2 Super Bowl.
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Streaming: NFHS Network.com.
Coaches: North Andover — John Dubzinski (fourth season, 53-35); King Philip — Brian Lee (14th season, 97-16).
Scoring: North Andover — 38.5 ppg; King Philip — 20.7 ppg.
Defense: North Andover — 11.3 ppg; King Philip — 10.6 ppg.
The heavies up front: North Andover — Raphael Usuomon (6-3, 250); King Philip — Nolan Gunning (6-4, 250).
Stat check: The North Andover quartet of senior quarterback Jake McElroy, senior wideouts Gabe DeSouza and Darren Watson, and junior running back Freddy Gabin has fueled one of the top-scoring attacks in the state. The four have combined for 62 touchdowns this season. The key component behind King Philip’s back-to-back state championships is defense. KP is back at Gillette looking for the three-peat and will rely heavily on junior Ryan Halliday on both sides of the ball.
The captains: North Andover — RB/S Darren Watson (Sr.), QB/S Jake McElroy (Sr.), TE/LB Ryan Slattery (Sr.), WR/S/K Gabe DeSouza (Sr.), C/LB Matthew Samenuk (Sr.); King Philip — LB Jack Webster (Sr.), RB Conor Galvin(Sr.), WR David Morganelli (Sr.).
Seniors on the roster: North Andover — 20; King Philip — 25.
Last Bowl appearance: North Andover — 1996; King Philip — 2017.
The Warriors have leaned on their defense time and time again. Still featuring one of the top units in the state, KP runs into a Scarlet Knight team that has been on a mission since Week 1. North Andover is explosive, so KP will face its stiffest test of the three bowls. It could be a long game if the Warriors can’t control the clock.
Defense wins championships, right? And it certainly will Friday night — along with a high-flying offense. The Scarlet Knights have been just as explosive on the defensive side of the ball throughout the year, and that will again spill over to their offensive attack.
North Andover 28, King Philip 13
Springfield Central (10-1) vs. Tewksbury (11-1)
What: Division 3 Super Bowl.
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
TV, radio: NECN, WBZ-FM HD2.
Coaches: Tewksbury — Brian Aylward (22nd season, 150-90-1); Springfield Central — Valdamar Brower (10th season, 85-29)
Scoring: Tewksbury — 28.1 ppg; Springfield Central — 48.2 ppg.
Defense: Tewksbury — 12.7 ppg; Springfield Central — 10.0 ppg.
The heavies up front: Tewksbury — Justyn Lester (6-3, 275); Springfield Central — Collin James (6-3, 285).
Stat check: Tewksbury’s lone loss (40-20) came in Week 4 at the hands of league foe North Andover, a team that is 11-0 and playing in the Division 2 Super Bowl. After blowing out Billerica in the first round of the D3 North tournament, 35-6, each of the Redmen’s next three victories (over Beverly, Danvers, and Duxbury) were one-score games. They got by the Dragons, 29-21, in the state semifinal. Since a blowout loss to Lincoln-Sudbury (35-7) in Week 1, Central has reeled off 10 wins. That includes a 5-0 mark in league play, during which the Golden Eagles outscored opponents by a staggering 280-14 count.
The captains: Tewksbury — QB Jay Connolly (Sr.), FB/LB Jack Kelly (Sr.), G/LB Trace Trant (Sr.), C/LB Zach Weitz (Sr.), RB/DB Kyle Zervas (Sr.); Springfield Central — WR Myles Bradley (Sr.), DL Andrew Carroll (Sr.), DB Keshaun Dancy Jr. (Sr.).
Seniors on the roster: Tewksbury — 21; Springfield Central — 23.
Last Bowl appearance: Tewksbury — 2013; Springfield Central — 2012.
It’s Tewksbury’s balance vs. Springfield Central’s front-running firepower. The Redmen had 12 players on defense with more than 20 tackles in the regular season, meaning they have plenty of depth to match up with a Golden Eagles team that hasn’t won a game by fewer than 22 points all season. Central isn’t used to playing in close games.
After coming up short in the state semifinals a season ago, Tewksbury finishes the job this season. Springfield Central’s gaudy numbers on each side of the ball are noteworthy, but there’s something to be said for the gauntlet the Redmen have had to go through to reach Gillette.
Tewksbury 35, Springfield Central 28
Dighton-Rehoboth (9-2) vs. Nashoba Regional (11-1)
What: Division 4 Super Bowl.
When: Friday, 5 p.m.
Streaming: NFHS Network.com.
Coaches: Dighton-Rehoboth — Dave Moura (second season, 13-9); Nashoba — Jamie Tucker (sixth season, 54-16).
Scoring: Dighton-Rehoboth (29.2 ppg); Nashoba (22.8 ppg).
Defense: Dighton-Rehoboth (10.6 ppg); Nashoba (10.8 ppg).
The heavies up front: Dighton-Rehoboth — Jake Enos (5-11, 235); Nashoba — Eil Batchell (6-4, 225).
Stat check: Nashoba features a balanced attack. Quarterback Sam Bolinsky has 1,673 yards passing, 22 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. Senior back Alex Childs has rushed for 644 yards and nine touchdowns and junior Aidan Lee has contributed 324 yards and six touchdowns. Senior Matt Johnson leads the team with 94 tackles. Junior Jack Bonazzoli and senior John Duros have three interceptions apiece.
Dighton-Rehoboth senior quarterback Harrison Pray has passed for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior Reis Foley (712 yards, 7 TDs), senior Chase Carroll (615 yards, 8 TDs), and senior Joe Carrera (464 yards, 10 TDs) lead the Falcons’ ground game. Senior Owen Arden has five interceptions.
The captains: Dighton-Rehoboth — OL Mason Cadorette (Sr.), TE Matt Moura (Sr.), LB Dylan Iodice (Sr.), FB/LB Chase Carroll (Sr.); Nashoba — QB/DB Sam Bolinsky (Sr.), TE/LB Matt Johnson (Sr.), RB/LB Brendan Lee (Sr.), C/DL Jack Wood (Sr.).
Seniors on the roster: Dighton-Rehoboth — 20; Nashoba — 18.
Last Bowl appearance: Dighton-Rehoboth — 1999 Nashoba — 2017.
This matchup features two of the top defenses in Division 4. Nashoba is making its second consecutive Super Bowl appearance and third in four seasons. It rattled off six consecutive wins to start the season before a 35-0 loss to Wachusett. Since then, Nashoba has outscored opponents, 117-59, allowing just 9 points per game during the postseason. Dighton-Rehoboth was a surprise out of the South despite earning the top seed, knocking off a loaded Milton team in the sectional finals before holding Gloucester’s potent running team to just 14 points in the state semifinals.
This game will be decided by defense. The team that limits big-yardage plays and forces turnovers will come away with the trophy. Dighton-Rehoboth’s defense is stingy but Nashoba has experience on its side.
Nashoba 20, Dighton-Rehoboth 16
Nipmuc (10-1) vs. Scituate (11-1)
What: Division 5 Super Bowl.
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM HD2.
Coaches: Scituate — Herb Devine (11th season, 80-43); Nipmuc — Shawn Hill (fourth season, 25-11).
Scoring: Scituate — 34.1 ppg; Nipmuc — 23.5.
Defense: Scituate — 14.2 ppg; Nipmuc — 7.1.
The heavies up front: Scituate — Joshua Comeau (5-8, 225), Miles Bowker (6-3, 250); Nipmuc — Bretton Loftus (6-2, 345), Joe Carlson (5-10, 290).
Stat check: Scituate quarterback Aidan Sullivan has thrown for 2,127 yards and 24 touchdowns, completing 66.3 percent of his passes this season. On the ground, junior Will Sheskey (1,560 yards, 22 TDs) is averaging 7.2 yards per carry. Defensively, linebacker Joshua McKeever set a program record with 234 career tackles, including 112 this year. Nipmuc relies heavily on a defense that has recorded four shutouts. Injuries have stifled the offensive production at times this season. With all players healthy, the Warriors can launch a clock-eating offense behind juniors Richard Broni (869 rushing yards) and Nathaniel Gould (638 receiving yards).
Captains: Scituate — QB Aidan Sullivan (Sr.), WR Dan May (Sr.), LB Joshua McKeever (Sr.), C Joshua Comeau (Sr.); Nipmuc — DB Preston Dougherty (Sr.), TE Matt Richards (Sr.), LB Jon Hilton (Sr.), DT Thomas Chesters (Sr.).
Seniors on the roster: Scituate — 16; Nipmuc — 15.
Last Bowl appearance: Scituate — 1979; Nipmuc — first appearance.
Nipmuc has allowed 78 points in 11 games, gutting out a trio of postseason wins. But Scituate advanced through the toughest sectional bracket in EMass with an attack that is known for big plays. The game could present a similar matchup to one Scituate had in its South semifinal win over Holliston.
Sullivan, Sheskey, and the Sailors make a statement on the opening drive and don’t look back, staving off a late comeback attempt to capture the program’s first state championship.
Scituate 27, Nipmuc 19
Stoneham (11-1) vs. Old Rochester (11-0)
What: Division 6 Super Bowl.
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM HD2
Coaches: Stoneham — Bob Almeida (25th season, 175-99-1); Old Rochester — Justin Kogler (fourth season, 54-23).
Scoring: Stoneham — 41.8 ppg; Old Rochester — 34.5 ppg.
Defense: Stoneham — 13.8 ppg; Old Rochester — 11.1 ppg.
The heavies up front: Stoneham — Mike Driscoll (6-1, 315); Old Rochester — Nick Thayer (6-2, 265).
Stat check: Stoneham senior back Christos Argyropoulos and junior back Seth Russell have been the best 1-2 punch in the state, with the former rushing for 1,787 yards and 32 touchdowns on 173 carries and the latter racking up 1,084 yards and 21 touchdowns on 134 carries. Old Rochester doesn’t feature one player, or even two, on offense; it has four players who have rushed for at least 750 yards: seniors Will Garcia and Desmond Dias, junior Jackson Cote, and senior quarterback Cole McIntyre.
The captains: Stoneham — RB Christos Argyropoulos (Sr.), FB/MLB Kevin McShane (Sr.), S Tommy Pizzi (Sr.); Old Rochester — CB Anthony Childs (Sr.), QB Cole McIntyre (Sr.), LB Drew Johnson (Sr.), OL Nick Borsari (Sr.), RB Will Garcia (Sr.).
Seniors on the roster: Stoneham — 14; Old Rochester — 22.
Last Bowl appearance: Stoneham — 1994; Old Rochester — 1993.
From the very start of the season, both teams have looked unstoppable. With Old Rochester outscoring its first three opponents, 123-0, and Stoneham running roughshod with the highest-scoring offense in EMass, this will be the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. Both teams prefer to keep the ball on the ground the entire game, so this one could come down to clock management.
The Bulldog defense has been nearly impregnable this season, but it hasn’t faced anything like Stoneham. Argyropoulos and Russell have yet to be slowed down, and even the stout Old Rochester defense won’t be up to the task. Meanwhile, Stoneham has had some experience playing stiff competition and was just one game away from the Super Bowl each of the last three years. Take the more battle-tested team in this one.
Stoneham 38, Old Rochester 19
Blackstone Valley (11-0) vs. St. Mary’s (8-4)
What: Division 7 Super Bowl.
When: Saturday, 11 a.m.
TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM HD2.
Coaches: Blackstone Valley — Jim Archibald (eighth season, 80-16); St. Mary’s — Sean Driscoll (first season; 63-60 in 12 seasons at Winthrop).
Scoring: Blackstone Valley — 30.6 ppg; St. Mary’s — 27.9 ppg.
Defense: Blackstone Valley — 6.8 ppg; St. Mary’s — 23.5 ppg.
The heavies up front: Blackstone Valley — Ethan Blake (5-9, 255); St. Mary’s — D.J. DiCenso (6-1, 285).
Stat check: Blackstone Valley — Junior J.D. Antaya (900 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns/200 reception yards, 5 TDs/3 interception-return TDs); St. Mary’s — Senior Jalen Echevarria (1,194 rushing yards, 16 touchdowns/337 reception yards, 5 TDs).
The captains: Blackstone Valley — QB/FS Scott Mackay (Sr.), TE/DE Jordyn Amero (Sr.), G/DT Dawson Potter (Sr.), G/NG Ethan Blake (Sr.), C/DE Nick Reed (Sr.), G/DE Justin Sauter (Sr.); St. Mary’s — RB/CB Jalen Echevarria (Sr.), G/DT D.J. DiCenso (Sr.), OL/DL Jack Maguire (Sr.), S/RB Connor Donahue (Sr.), MLB/RB George Freeman (Sr.).
Seniors on the roster: Blackstone Valley — 2; St. Mary’s — 14.
Last Bowl appearance: Blackstone Valley — 2017; St. Mary’s — 2016.
Blackstone Valley returns to the Super Bowl for a second straight year, after falling to Mashpee, 22-16. The Beavers return 17 starters from that team and combine staunch defense with a ground-oriented offense. The Spartans counter with an explosive, athletic team that attacks with speed. This game will be won at the line of scrimmage. The Spartans are looking for their first Super Bowl title since 2005. The Beavers won the Central Mass. Super Bowl in 2012.
One big play could break open the game for either team. In its return to the Super Bowl, Blackstone Valley settles in after some early chaos.
Blackstone Valley 21, St. Mary’s 20.
Pope John (12-0) vs. St. Bernard’s (11-1)
What: Division 8 Super Bowl.
When: Saturday, 9 a.m.
TV, Radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM HD2.
Coaches: Pope John — Paul Sobolewski (first year, 11-0; 73-69 at Pope John, Winchester, Georgetown, and Cathedral, and first stint at Pope John); St. Bernard’s — Tom Bingham (15th year, 82-72).
Scoring: Pope John — 34.6 ppg; St. Bernard’s — 35.0 ppg.
Defense: Pope John — 7.5 ppg; St. Bernard’s — 10.7 ppg.
The heavies up front: Pope John — Rivency Jeudy (6-1, 265); St. Bernard’s — Matt Smith (6-1, 245).
Stat check: Pope John’s spread offense put up some huge numbers utilizing a 1-2 punch of speed and power. Sophomore speedster John Smith-Howell led the team with 1,216 yards and 15 touchdowns on just 100 carries. When they needed a bruiser, they handed the ball to 6-2 230-pound sophomore Greg Smith (64 carries, 778 yards, 10 touchdowns). Senior wide receiver/defensive back Jesus Rivera is a triple threat with three receiving touchdowns, six interceptions and three pick-sixes, and two special teams touchdowns. The stats of St. Bernard’s two-headed rushing attack out of the Wing T almost mirror those of Pope John. Junior Walter Morales has rushed the ball 88 times for 1,016 yards and 15 touchdowns while senior Xavier Marty has put up 716 yards and 8 touchdowns on 80 carries. Junior quarterback Dom Cuevas has also been a touchdown machine, with eight scores through the air and nine on the ground.
The captains: Pope John — WR/DB Roshad John III (Sr.), QB/DE Anthony Mejia (Sr.), OL/LB Ajan Nelson (Sr.), OL/DL Marcus Parara (Jr.); St. Bernard’s — RB/DB Max Bigelow (Sr.), OL/DL Ben Jacoby (Sr.), TE/LB Ben Shaw (Sr.), RB/DB Dom Valera (Sr.).
Seniors on the roster: Pope John — 6; St. Bernard’s — 11.
Last Bowl appearance: Pope John — 1998; St. Bernard’s — 2015.
Both teams ran through Division 8 destroying just about every team in their path. The Pope John offense scored more than 40 points on five occasions, producing a 27.8-point average margin of victory. However, St. Bernard’s has been equally impressive, putting up 40 points seven times — hitting 50 twice — and boasting a 32.4-point average margin of victory.
One category where Pope John holds an advantage is defense. The Tigers’ defense, led by Catholic Central League Player of the Year Ajan Nelson, had three shutouts this season, and it will prove to be the difference.
Pope John 34, St. Bernard’s 24
Compiled by Nate Weitzer, Jake Caccavaro, Karl Capen, Brandon Chase, Dan Jake Levin, Dan Shulman, Lenny Rowe, and Nate Weitzer.