For all of the twists and turns that this season has provided, the destination suddenly looks pretty familiar. Three of the four Division 5 North semifinalists from last year are back in the final four this year, with Swampscott looking to defend its sectional crown with a semifinal rematch against Pentucket while Amesbury aims to make it back to the final after a stunning upset of undefeated Bedford. Lynnfield, the lone newcomer, isn’t exactly coming off a long drought either, so what can we expect as the playoffs continue this weekend?
1. Amesbury at Lynnfield
All along I’ve felt that Amesbury is a better team than it’s record showed, but for whatever reason the Indians weren’t ever able to put it all together in the regular season. That why I wasn’t shocked when the Indians pulled off the biggest upset of the state tournament last weekend, decisively beating previously undefeated Bedford to advance back to the Division 5 North semifinals.
Can Amesbury do it again? Well, we’ve already seen this matchup in the regular season, and that game was cause for encouragement even though the Indians lost 34-24. The Indians took an early lead before the Pioneers buried them with a series of big plays, and in the second half Amesbury (3-5) recovered and finished the game strong. Lynnfield’s (7-1) cadre of offensive weapons is formidable, but if the Indians can make adjustment and keep an early lead, they have the talent to pull it off. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty big ‘if’ given how well Lynnfield’s been playing recently.
THE PICK: Lynnfield 35, Amesbury 28
2. Swampscott at Pentucket
Pentucket is going into this game with a huge chip on its shoulder. The Sachems feel slighted that they aren’t getting to play on their own home field, and they’re no doubt still looking for payback after last year’s 34-0 playoff drubbing. Pentucket (7-1) is a much better team this year, however, and even though Swampscott (6-2) is built to play on a turf field like the one at Haverhill Stadium, the Sachems have some explosive playmakers of their own. This will be a great game, one I suspect may come down to the wire.
THE PICK: Pentucket 31, Swampscott 28
3. Newburyport at Weston
Here are two teams looking to get back on track following humbling first-round losses. Newburyport (2-5) managed just three points against Lynnfield last Friday and barely moved the ball all game, while Weston (4-4) seemingly was down by a thousand before anyone knew what hit them in last weekend’s 55-6 loss to Swampscott. Last year these two teams also played in a non-playoff game, which Newburyport won 3-0, and Weston also won a 7-6 battle over Triton earlier this season. The bottom line is expect a low-scoring game, one that could easily be determined by kicker Walker Bartkiewicz’s leg.
THE PICK: Newburyport 10, Weston 7
4. Saugus at Triton
For the second year in a row, Triton (1-7) hasn’t been able to catch a break with injuries. Luckily the Vikings still have Ethan Tremblay and Chris Colby, who have given Triton a big-play element on offense that a team like Saugus (1-7) might struggle to match.
THE PICK: Triton 21, Saugus 14
5. St. Mary’s at Georgetown
St. Mary’s (4-4) is having a down year after winning three consecutive sectional titles, and on paper these two teams seem pretty evenly matched. Georgetown (4-4) can absolutely win this game, but for whatever reason the big, statement win has proven elusive from the Royals this year. Even if only because of St. Mary’s brand, this would definitely be a statement win.
THE PICK: St. Mary’s 28, Georgetown 21
6. Belmont Hill at Governor’s
What could have been if not for that blocked game-winning kick against Milton Academy? This season-ending showdown between Governor’s Academy and Belmont Hill, originally thought to be a de facto ISL title game, won’t have quite the same implications as expected. That being said, Governor’s Academy (6-1) can still wrap up a fantastic season and most likely assure itself a bowl invite with a win over a strong Belmont Hill (5-2) squad.
THE PICK: Governor’s Academy 34, Belmont Hill 21
2019 Six Picks
Last week: 4-2
Season record: 35-19