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HS Football Power Rankings: Auburn on Top After Statement Win

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


The massive Auburn offensive line is making life miserable for opposing defensive fronts.

It was a weekend full of upsets in Central Mass high school football. But, amid all the top-tier teams being toppled, Auburn reasserted its dominance over rival Shepherd Hill, rolling over the Rams 35-6 and grabbing the top spot in our rankings.

Make no mistake about it, though, last week's No. 1 Nashoba did nothing to lose the top spot, the Rockets just did something amazing to take it. Then, with Shrewsbury upsetting cross-town rival St. John's and Wachusett shocking Leominster, the top-10 got turned upside down this week.

Add in a respect-earning win for Doherty over Holy Name, and we officially have a massive shakeup in this week's power rankings with last week's No.'s 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 all losing. So, without further ado, here are our top-10 in Central Mass, with records and positions last week.

1. Auburn (5-0, 1-0 SWCL A) Last Week: 2

Did you hear that Shepherd Hill ended Auburn's 41-game winning streak last season? Well, the Rockets did, and they played like they had heard about it an awful lot over the past year. Auburn physically dominated the Rams from the opening kick, and that massive offensive line looks like it may be the most dominant force in the region.

2. Nashoba (5-0, 2-0 Mid-Wach B) Last Week: 1

Nashoba continued their winning ways last week, taking out Marlborough 28-14 at home, but didn't look quite as dominant as the Rockets. At this point, you're splitting hairs between these two talented teams, but the Cheiftains' star running back John Ojukwu may be the most explosive player in Central Mass.

3. Northbridge (5-0, 2-0 SWCL A) Last Week: 5

Northbridge scored a tremendously impressive win over a salty Grafton team on the road last week. The Rams offense continues to impress after putting 28 on a previously immovable Indians defense. The Rams were the biggest beneficiaries of last weekend's two massive upsets.

4. Shrewsbury (4-1, 1-0 Mid-Wach A) Last Week: 9

Up until Saturday, Shrewsbury probably felt like it was playing second-fiddle in its own town to St. John's. Then the Colonials exploded for 51 points on the Pioneers, led by four touchdown runs from Zach Dionis. An 80-yard kickoff return by Jay Reynolds helped Shrewsbury erase a late 25-point rally by St. John's and claim the unofficial title of best team in town.

5. St. John's (4-1, 1-0 Central Mass) Last Week: 3

The good news is, the offense still looks great. Once again, quarterback Drew Smiley and running back Shadrach Abrokwah excelled, but the defense remains inconsistent, and giving up a kickoff return for a touchdown after your offense clawed you back into the game is hardly what the doctor ordered. Still plenty of talent and plenty of good teams to face, so don't be surprised to see the Pioneers moving back up the rankings before the season is through.

6. Leominster (3-2, 1-1 Mid-Wach A) Last Week: 4

At this points, the defending Division I Super Bowl champions are being granted the benefit of the doubt. They have yet to score a signature win and were upset by league foe Wachusett on the road last week. Much like St. John's, the talent is there to rebound, and we will see which of these two teams does just that when they face each other in Shrewsbury two weeks from now.

7. Doherty (4-1, 0-0 Inter-High) Last Week: Unranked

Everyone knew Doherty had talent coming into the year, but most were shocked to see the Highlanders fall to Shrewsbury early. Well, that game was close and, uh, Shrewsbury has proven it's more than just chopped liver. Quarterback Luke Brennan has been efficient for Doherty, and Noah Robinson has been getting it done on both sides of the ball. Add in the explosiveness of Abdulla Webster, and this team has the talent to give a team like Nashoba a run for its money later in the year.

8. Tyngsborough (5-0, 2-0 Mid-Wach C) Last Week: 10

Still undefeated, but a close win over a mediocre Gardner squad doesn't have people raving about the Tigers right now. Still,  they have beaten everybody placed in front of them, and have the inside track to a Mid-Wach C crown. The schedule is kind to them for the next few weeks before they have to face an explosive Quabbin offense and a tough Groton-Dunstable squad.

9. Shepherd Hill (4-1, 1-1 SWCL A) Last Week: 6

There is hardly any shame in losing to a team like Auburn, but the Rams just didn't look like they could physically matchup with the Rockets at all. Still, few teams can, and Shepherd Hill has scored quality wins over Grafton and St. Peter-Marian, so don't count the Rams out yet.

10. Wachusett (3-2, 2-0 Mid-Wach A) Last Week: Unranked

The other big underdog to come through last weekend was Wachusett. Facing Leominster, the Mountaineers held onto a 19-14 lead for the entire fourth quarter to seal the upset. While Wachusett is only 3-2, they have faced, arguably, the three most talented teams in the region in Nashoba, St. John's and Leominster, and were able to pick up a win against one of them. They also have a nice win over Fitchburg to their name, so give the Mountaineers their due.

Dropped from Rankings: Grafton(7), Holy Name(8)

Grafton had been winning games with defense, but lost a close one to Northbridge. While that defeat was by no means a "bad loss," it did drop the Indians to 0-2 in SWCL A with a game at Auburn looming in two weeks. Holy Name had a chance to earn some respect against Inter-High favorite Doherty, but inconsistent defense doomed the Naps again as star running back Quron Wright was not enough to overcome 38 Highlander points in the loss.

In the Hunt: Blackstone Valley Tech (5-0), West Boylston (5-0), St. Peter-Marian (3-2)

BVT and West Boylston remain unbeaten, but their schedules keep them on the outside looking in. Still, another week or two of convincing wins and it will be tough to hold the Beavers and Lions out of the top-10. St. Peter-Marian picked up a nice win over Milford last week, but the next five games bring three tests against top-10 teams as Wachusett, Doherty and St. John's loom, along with a still dangerous Holy Name squad.


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