Here are the must-see matchups for Week 6, plus our predictions:
■ Leaders of the MVC Large
Central Catholic (3-2, 2-0) is not the power it has been in years’ past. But the Raiders are still the reigning champions of the Merrimack Valley Conference’s Large division. Methuen (4-1, 3-0) hosts the Raiders Friday night in a tilt that will almost assuredly decide the MVC Large winner in 2018. Pick: CENTRAL CATHOLIC
■ Bay State shootout?
In recent weeks, no team has been able to hang with Needham (5-0, 2-0). The Rockets have outscored opponents, 136-28, since edging Natick in Week 1, but now face a Milton team (4-1, 2-0) that averages 36.6 points per game to lead all D4 programs. The host Wildcats will look to spoil Needham’s hopes for a Bay State Herget title and the top seed in the D1 South state tournament. Pick: NEEDHAM
■ Can Attleboro stop Mansfield?
Mansfield (4-1, 3-0) has handled business within the Hockomock League, defeating Franklin and King Philip at home and winning a key road game at Taunton last Friday. This week the Hornets host a formidable league foe in Attleboro (4-1, 2-1), which allows just seven points per game and is hitting its stride offensively behind senior back Justin Cote. Pick: ATTLEBORO
■ NEC battle
Both Gloucester (5-0) and Marblehead (5-0) are perennially strong on defense, but this season, the Northeastern Conference division leaders are lighting up the scoreboard. Host Gloucester (NEC North) leads D4 North with a 15.6 power rating, but Marblehead (NEC South) is right behind at 15.4 and has only allowed a total of 19 points through five games. Pick: MARBLEHEAD
■ Deciding Division 8
Saturday afternoon, Bishop Feehan (2-3) hosts Coyle & Cassidy (4-1) in an Eastern Athletic Conference showdown. If Coyle wins and Pope John (5-0, 2-0) defeats St. John Paul II (5-0, 3-0) in their Catholic Central Small showdown Saturday night, Coyle could earn the top seed in the D8 South tourney. Picks: BISHOP FEEHAN, POPE JOHN
■ Can Falmouth keep rolling?
Falmouth fullback Jake Murphy ran over defending D5 champion Dennis-Yarmouth for 301 yards and four touchdowns last week.. Will the senior continue to lead the 4-0 Clippers at home against a tough nonconference foe in Hanover (4-1)? Pick: FALMOUTH
■ Unstoppable Scarlet Knights
Coming off its first loss, Dracut (3-1, 2-0) hosts a North Andover (5-0, 2-0) team that has been unstoppable in pursuit of another MVC Small title. The Scarlet Knights are averaging 35 points per game, yielding just 9.6, and lead all Division 2 teams with a 16.8 power rating. They’ll look to solidify their position as the top seed in the D2 North tournament. Pick: NORTH ANDOVER
■ Rebound on the road?
After being dealt consecutive heartbreaking losses at home to conference foes Xaverian and St. John’s Prep, Catholic Memorial (3-2) ventures outside the Catholic Conference to face Division 3 mainstay Billerica (2-2) on the road Friday. Pick: CATHOLIC MEMORIAL
■ Eagles host Eagles
The BC High Eagles (2-3, 0-0) are looking to preserve their playoff hopes by winning one of their final two road games, but the schedule does them no favors. This Saturday, they’ll visit the fifth-ranked St. John’s Prep Eagles (4-1, 1-0) in a Catholic Conference showdown. Pick: ST. JOHN’S PREP
■ Immovable defense?
St. Sebastian’s (3-0) dominated ISL co-leader Buckingham, Brownee & Nichols in a 23-3 victory last Friday, the only points the Arrows have yielded this season. They’ll take that immovable defense on the road Saturday to face a high-flying Governor’s Academy offense that produced 91 points the first two weeks. Pick: ST. SEBASTIAN’SNate Weitzer can be reached at email@example.com.