HS Football Power Rankings: Who Finished the Year on Top?
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
This past week was the busiest of the year for high school football players in the Commonwealth, and many of the teams in our Top 10 played two games in a five day span. With that many games being played, there was bound to be some shake up. New champions were crowned and some old powers jumped back to the top of their respective divisions. So, let's take a look at how things shook out in 2012.
1. Auburn (13-0, Division 3 Champion) Last Week: 1
The Rockets actually got a bit of a scare early on against Tantasqua in the Super Bowl. But, in the end, the Auburn offensive and defensive lines took over, and quarterback Drew Goodrich opened up the Rockets offense on a snowy night. The debate can rage on between Auburn and Nashoba but, at the end of the day, the Rockets played more playoff teams, and beat teams by a far wider margin than the Chieftains.
2. Nashoba (13-0, Division 2 Champion) Last Week: 2
Nashoba shined under the brightest of lights at Gillette Stadium Saturday. The Chieftains have won a variety of ways this year, and this this time around it was the Chieftain defense stepping up. Senior Brady Schartner picked off a pass in the fourth quarter and ran it back for pull-away touchdown. That would seal the deal against Shepherd Hill, clinching a second consecutive Super Bowl for the Chieftains, and continuing a winning streak that now stands at 26 games.
3. Shepherd Hill (10-3, Division 2 Finalist) Last Week: 6
The Rams scored an impressive win over Doherty in the semifinals, crowding the line of scrimmage and daring the short-handed Highlanders to throw. The Ram ground game also thrived in the snowy conditions. But, it was a different story against Nashoba at Gillette, as the Chieftains forced the Rams to put the ball in the air late. It led to the interception mentioned above.
4. Leominster (9-4, Division 1 Champion) Last Week: 7
How many times did we count out Leominster this season? I can count at least three- First, when the Blue Devils were blown out by Everett on opening night. Second, when Wachusett stymied the Leominster offense in week 5. Third, when Shrewsbury knocked off the Blue Devils in a shoot out to begin November.
All that, and it doesn't matter. Leominster avenged their loss to Shrewsbury in the semifinals, then proceeded to outscore St. John's in the Super Bowl. Give senior quarterback Garrett DelleChiaie credit for rallying the troops and playing his best football down the stretch.
5. Shrewsbury (9-3, Division 1 Semifinalist) Last Week: 4
The Colonials had an offense that could score with anybody in the state, but quarterback Mike Coggeshall and company were slowed by snowy conditions and an aggressive Leominster defense in the semifinals. Still, it was a magical season for the Colonials, who were able to defeat Doherty, rival Fitchburg, Leominster and cross-town rival St. John's all in the same year.
6. St. John's (8-5, Division 1 Finalist) Last Week: 9
Those Pioneers always seem to find their way into the Super Bowl. Sophomore quarterback Drew Smiley was the breakout player of the year in Central Mass this season, becoming the first player ever in the region to throw for 3,000 and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. Add in the remarkable year Shadrach Abrokwah had running back, and there was certainly a lot to talk about on offense.
Unfortunately, it was the defense that couldn't find answers against Leominster. The Pioneer defense surrendered 30 or more points to opponents seven times this year, despite stellar a stellar year from senior linebacker Barron Dandridge.
7. Grafton (10-3, Division 4 Champion) Last Week: Unranked
Not to toot my own horn, but I did say that the Grafton defense could give Northbridge some trouble. Still, nobody saw the dominant performance the Indians had coming. Grafton shut out Northbridge 21-0 on the way to a Division 4 crown, and that's good enough to crack the Top 10. Time to give Grafton its due: That defense is one of the best in Central Mass, and the offense is brutally efficient.
8. West Boylston (12-1, Division 5 Championship) Last Week: Unranked
The Lions broke through and knocked off defending champion Leicester in the Division 5 Super Bowl. The West Boylston defense had come through all year, and it answered the bell again. With less than three minutes remaining, the Lions held Leicester on fourth down to seal the game. It may have been the early game at Worcester State Saturday, but this effort by West Boylston left a lasting impression, and showed they will be a force to be reckoned with from here on out.
9. Wachusett (8-4, Division 1 Semifinalist) Last Week: 5
Wachusett had been running the ball well and playing great defense, but the Mountaineers were unable to make any progress on the ground against St. John's. It was the unfortunate end to an otherwise successful season. Other than a head-scratching loss to Westborough, Wachusett had been great this year, beating Shrewsbury, Leominster, St. Peter-Marian and Holy Name. But, in the end, Wachusett just couldn't punch in a two-point try against St. John's, ending their season with a 21-19 defeat.
10. Doherty (9-3, Division 2 Semifinalist) Last Week: 3
The Highlanders had to face Shepherd Hill without star running back Abdulla Webster. This led to the Highlanders relying on the pass more heavily and, with heavy snow and an even heavier Ram pass rush, Doherty fell in the semifinals 34-8. Still, quarterback Luke Brennan had a remarkable year, and tight end/linebacker Noah Robinson proved to be one of the best players in the region, on both sides of the ball.
Just Missed Out: Blackstone Valley Tech (12-1, Division 6 Champion), Northbridge (10-3, Division 4 Finalist)
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