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slides: 10 Things to Watch in Central MA Rivalry Week

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Thanksgiving is nearly here, and that means it's time to start talking rivalry football games in Central Massachusetts. This year's slate of games promises to be a good one, so click through our slideshow for everything you need to know about rivalry week.

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Auburn Dominance

The Rockets have hardly been challenged this season, and it's hard to see that changing this week against Oxford. Still, it's a Thanksgiving Day game, so Auburn will have to make sure it focuses on the task at hand, and not the turkey to come later in the day. A steady diet of running back Tyler Desjardins should be enough for the Rockets, as the talented halfback has already rushed for over 1,500 yards this season.

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St. John's Surging

The Pioneers have reeled off back-to-back wins after a mid-season four-game losing streak. St. John's has one of the state's best offenses, led by sophomore quarterback Drew Smiley (pictured), but keeping momentum will not be easy against a motivated St. Peter-Marian squad. The Guardians have had an up-and-down year, but a win over the rival Pioneers would secure a winning record for SPM.

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Game of the Day

While neither of these teams get much attention, the game of the day is undoubtably the matchup between undefeated Tyngsborough and 9-1 Groton-Dunstable. G.D. brings one of the region's more underrated players in quarterback Mack Eberhardt (pictured) to this one, and it will be interesting to see how the Tigers deal with his ability to beat opponents through the air and on the ground.

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Must Win?

Reigning Division I Super Bowl champion Leominster is postseason-bound, but the Blue Devils really need a win over rival Fitchburg to gain some momentum heading into the postseason. Leominster's thrilling 37-34 win over St. John's seems like ages ago now, and the Blue Devils need all the positive vibes they can get.

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Inner-City Rivals

South has enjoyed a comeback year, posting four wins, while North has struggled a bit, coming in to this game at 2-8. None of that will matter, though, if the Polar Bears are able to knock off rival South and earn some Inter-High respect. This game actually takes place the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday, at 6 pm at Foley Stadium.

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Dominating Defense

Coming into the year we knew that Nashoba, with all its talented skill players, would be able to score points. But, it has been linebacker Zack Hume (pictured) and the Chieftain defense that has turned heads lately. Nashoba has pitched shutouts in its last two games, and has held opponents to one score or less in seven out of 10 games this season. Nashoba goes for a perfect 11-0 Thursday against rival North Middlesex.

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Doherty Rolling

The Highlanders of Doherty certainly think they can take out Nashoba in Division II, and their diverse offense should have little trouble with Inter-High rival Burncoat Thursday. Quarterback Luke Brennan has enjoyed a breakout season, and running back Abdulla Webster is one of the more explosive players in the region.

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Shrewsbury Passing Game

The Colonials have already achieved many of their goals this season, namely knocking off cross-town rival St. John's and taking out Leominster in thrilling fashion, but Shrewsbury still believes it can win a Division I Super Bowl. If they are going to do it, the Colonials will need to rely on the arm of quarterback Mike Coggeshall (pictured), and the play making abilities of receivers Ryan Dube and Jay Reynolds. They face an interesting test Thursday against Milford.

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Points Galore

There should be plenty of scoring in this game between West Boylston and Quabbin. West Boylston has scored 38 or more points six different times this season, while Quabbin's Dylan Kierman (pictured) comes into the game as the region's second-leading passer with nearly 2,500 yards. Could be a busy day for the score keeper.

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Ground Games

Wachusett and Holy Name come into their game with two of the best rush offenses in the region. While Wachusett does it with a stable of capable running backs, Holy Name has leaned heavily on star running back Quron Wright. The speedy back has not disappointed, as he became the leading rusher in Central Mass history earlier this year. But, will he be enough for the Naps to pull off the upset?


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