The other 10 teams in Division 4 North will include Greater Lowell, Watertown, Weston, Swampscott, North Reading, Stoneham, Ipswich, Hamilton-Wenham, Lynnfield and St. Mary’s. While there are some unfamiliar schools in that bunch, in most cases, at least one local school has a standing rivalry in place.
For instance, Newburyport played Hamilton-Wenham in the playoffs last year. Hamilton-Wenham, Ipswich, North Reading and Lynnfield all have standing CAL rivalries with each of the local schools. Swampscott already plays Pentucket every year. St. Mary’s hosted Newburyport this season at the Manning Bowl.
As for Greater Lowell, Watertown, Weston and Stoneham, none of those schools has much of a standing rivalry with the local schools. Although, who’s to say a rivalry can’t form quickly? Winthrop and Saugus served as unfamiliar foes to local teams as recently as last season, but now multiple local coaches and athletic directors have discussed maintaining those rivalries in the future.
On to the picks.
Pentucket at Newburyport, 7
It’s hard to believe this is Newburyport’s first home game under the lights since its opener against Lynnfield Sept. 7. Last week, I wrote that I was anxious to see Newburyport quarterback Connor Wile work himself back into playing shape after missing the first six weeks due to a shoulder injury. He went on to complete 8 or 9 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown last week in a 35-15 victory over Triton. So ... that happened fast. The key will be the Newburyport defense, which has been the team’s strength all season. Pentucket running back Cody Rothwell has rushed for 403 yards and eight touchdowns in the last two weeks.
The pick: Newburyport 21, Pentucket 19
Triton at Winthrop, 7
Both teams are coming off lopsided losses last week, so it will be a matter of which coach was more effective in steadying the ship this week. Triton seems to be a team in transition with many new names showing up in the box scores each week. When in doubt, I’ll take the home team.