On to the picks.
Amesbury at Manchester Essex
If the Amesbury football team has a gripe about the new system, it’s that the Indians will be punished with a low seed in the Division 4 North tournament because their strength of schedule won’t be as strong after playing CAL Baker Division opponents. It’s a legitimate complaint. Amesbury had to play the games on its schedule, even if it wasn’t going to help with its strength-of-schedule. However, the Indians didn’t match up well in their non-league games against Triton and Pentucket, and they’ll likely have to play one of those teams eventually if they want to win a Super Bowl, so seeds aren’t really that important.
The pick: Amesbury 28, Manchester Essex 21
Triton at Masconomet
Triton’s average margin of victory is 26.5 points, and its average margin of defeat is 6.0 points. So the concern heading into the postseason is that the Vikings haven’t pulled out any close games at the end. Granted, it’s a small sample size when you’re talking about a six-game season so far, but tonight’s game offers Triton the perfect opportunity to come away with a victory in a close game. I know Triton coach Pat Sheehan has been scouting Masconomet enough to know the Chieftains’ trends. We’ll see if it pays off.
The pick: Triton 21, Masconomet 20
Pentucket at North Reading
As the Sachems size up the potential Division 4 North bracket, they have to be feeling pretty good about their chances. Not only will they earn the top seed with a victory tonight, they will have beaten three of the other seven tournament teams in Amesbury, Newburyport and Triton. That leaves Lynnfield, Bedford, Watertown and Stoneham if the bracket remains as it is right now. Since a team will need only three victories in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl, there is no way Pentucket can beat every Division 4 North playoff team at least once this season.