With Week 1 of the high school football season in the books, we now have a bit of a better idea of who we’re dealing with this fall. Newburyport looks much crisper on offense, Amesbury can still run the ball, Georgetown’s defense is much better and Triton showed signs of improvement despite a tough loss.
The same can’t be said for the three Cape Ann League teams who were idle last week, Pentucket among them, and that makes this week’s first pick a bit tricky.
1. Newburyport at Lynnfield
I really wish Lynnfield had played last week, because I honestly don’t know what to make of them. The Pioneers have traditionally ranked among the top programs in the league and are almost always a factor in the playoff picture, and yet last year Lynnfield took a huge step back and finished 3-8 overall.
Word around the league is that Lynnfield should be much better. The Pioneers return six or seven starters on each side of the ball, including quarterback Clayton Marengi, running back Anthony Floramo and three-year starting receiver John Lee, but we really won’t know how much improvement there is until the Pioneers take the field. Newburyport, on the other hand, looked really good last week. Much more polished on offense with a variety of playmakers, and the defense was solid as usual.
THE PICK: Newburyport 28, Lynnfield 21
2. Pentucket at Ipswich
This is going to be a different looking Pentucket team. After years of running it down opponent’s throats with a Wing-T offense, the Sachems are getting ready to spread things out and shift to a more passing oriented approach. Newly bulked up quarterback Peter Cleary has earned rave reviews through the preseason, and receiver Jake Etter may be the most explosive player in the conference after missing most of last fall with a broken leg.
The Sachems also return defending CAL Defensive Player of the Year in Jacob Codair, and if the team lives up to its potential this could be an exciting season. Ipswich, for what it’s worth, may also be among the top teams in the conference, so this has the potential to be a heavyweight clash.
THE PICK: Pentucket 21, Ipswich 14
3. Northeast at Amesbury
Amesbury was one play away from a thrilling comeback win against an excellent Ipswich team, and if not for a couple of unlucky bounces the Indians could have had two to three fumble recoveries that likely would have turned the game decisively in their favor. Northeast, meanwhile, got blown out by North Reading last weekend, so expect the Indians to get back in the win column with authority.
THE PICK: Amesbury 42, Northeast 13
4. Triton at Weston
Triton lost fairly handily to Newburyport last week, but watching the game you got the sense that was more because the Clippers played really well than because Triton played particularly poorly. After a season where Triton just couldn’t compete in any aspect of the game, the Vikings looked much better last Friday, moving the ball through the air successfully while showing signs of life on defense. Kyle Odoy is a two-way force at quarterback and safety, and the Vikings look like they really have something with freshman Chris Colby.
The key now will be getting the running game going and cutting down on missed tackles, but at the rate Triton is going, the Vikings will definitely win some games this year. Will that be this week? Perhaps, but I’d rather see it first before I pick it.
THE PICK: Weston 28, Triton 21
5. Georgetown at Lowell Catholic
Stephen MacDonald threw for three touchdowns and 288 yards and the Royals rolled on offense. That wasn’t a huge surprise. Holding Tech Boston to eight points while recording three interceptions and two fumble recoveries? Now that was something. Defense was Georgetown’s Achilles heel last fall, and if the Royals can keep opposing defenses out of the end zone, they could turn out to be a real factor in the Division 7 North playoff picture.
THE PICK: Georgetown 31, Lowell Catholic 21
6. St. John’s Prep at Haverhill
With Governor’s not set to begin until next weekend, we revisit St. John’s Prep as this week’s bonus pick. The Eagles rolled over Bridgewater-Raynham without much trouble in their opener and are ranked as the No. 2 team in EMass. Haverhill, meanwhile, isn’t as strong as it’s been in the past. It could be a rough one for the Hillies.
THE PICK: St. John’s Prep 42, Haverhill 0
2019 Six Picks
Last week: 3-3
Season record: 3-3