Oct. 14—Two weeks ago, I might have picked Methuen for Friday night's MVC showdown against Central Catholic at Nicholson Stadium.
The Rangers' offense was unstoppable, with quarterback Drew Eason throwing beautiful passes and JP Muniz doing the job running the ball, and the defense was certainly respectable.
Central Catholic, meanwhile, while prolific on offense, was giving up yardage and points on defense and didn't look like the preseason No. 1 team in Eastern Mass.
But things change and the Central defense — led by Preston Zinter, Jaden Wiggins and Sean Mercuri among others — has stiffened the last two weeks, looking downright impressive last week while blanking Lowell and its standout back Aaron Morris, 41-0. Plus, the Raiders' offense, fueled by QB Ayden Pereira and overlooked receiver Justice McGrail, keeps getting better.
With that in mind, I've got to go with the Raiders Friday even though I feel that Eason will test Central's secondary mightily.
Prediction: Central 42, Methuen 30
Andover (2-3) at Haverhill (0-5): This is a perfect game for the Warriors to get back on track.
Prediction: Andover 41, Haverhill 20
North Andover (2-3) at Dracut (0-5): All of a sudden, the Knights look quite formidable.
Prediction: North Andover 35, Dracut 7
Essex Tech (1-4) at Gr. Lawrence (0-5): The Reggies are improving, but is it enough?
Prediction: Essex Tech 24, Gr. Lawrence 20
Lowell (0-5) at Lawrence (4-1): This will be closer than you might think.
Prediction: Lawrence 27, Lowell 20
Salem (3-2) at Nashua North (3-3): This won't be easy by any means.
Prediction: Salem 27, Nashua North 24
Pembroke (1-5) at Timberlane (6-0): The Owls need a test before the playoffs, but this won't be it.
Prediction: Timberlane 42, Pembroke 10
Campbell (5-1) at Pelham (5-0): After having last week's game called off, the Pythons are hungry to get back on the field, which is bad news for Campbell.
Prediction: Pelham 42, Campbell 14
Windham (1-5) at Merrimack (2-4): The Jaguars could very well pull this one out, but I don't have the courage to pick them.
Prediction: Merrimack 28, Windham 27
Sanborn (2-4) at Kennett (1-4): If the Indians weren't banged up, I'd go with them.
Prediction: Kennett 22, Sanborn 14
Greater Lowell (1-4) at Whittier (3-2): Not another close one!
Prediction: Whittier 26, Gr. Lowell 22
Pinkerton (5-1) at Bishop Guertin (5-1): This should go down to the wire and I'm really not sure who will prevail.
Prediction: Pinkerton 24, Bishop Guertin 21
Brooks (0-3) at Rivers (1-2): Brooks is improving, so I'll go with a mini-upset.
Prediction: Brooks 28, Rivers 24
Season record: 57-15