Thanksgiving Day will come a little early in West Roxbury.
Traditional Turkey Day rivals Catholic Memorial and BC High will meet tonight for the right to compete for a Division 1 South sectional title. The winner faces the survivor of the Franklin-Brockton matchup for the crown next weekend.
“It's going to be a big game, we know there is going to be a big crowd and that will make for an exciting atmosphere,” said Catholic Memorial coach John DiBiaso. “The way we are approaching it is that this is one game and it is a chance for us to get to the sectional final for the third straight year.”
Catholic Memorial (8-0) ended Xaverian's five-year stranglehold on the sectional title in 2018 and used that run to the Super Bowl final as a launching point for this season. The Knights have defeated a pair of defending Super Bowl champions (St. John's Prep and Springfield Central) along with Central Mass. power St. John's (Shrewsbury) to earn the top spot in the latest Boston Herald rankings.
“To me, they seem just like the teams John coached in Everett when we were playing them then,” said BC High coach Jonathan Brillo. “They have a lot of speed, they're very athletic and they are well-coached.”
BC High might enter the contest with three losses on its resume, but DiBiaso is quick to warn anyone within earshot that the 5-3 mark is rather deceiving.
“They played a tough schedule and lost to three good teams,” DiBiaso said. “Mansfield is ranked second in the Herald, Tewksbury is always very good and St. John's Prep is an excellent team. They definitely did not play an easy schedule.”
Brillo points to one of those losses as a springboard of sorts for his team. Since the 18-14 loss to Tewksbury, the Eagles have gone 4-1 and not allowed more than one touchdown in each of those five contests.
“We started out fast against Tewksbury and then we slowed down in the second half,” Brillo said. “Since that game, we changed a few things around. We're using more kids on defense, not having as many of them going both ways. Other than Ozzy (Trapilo) on the line and Carter Rice, pretty much everyone is going one way and it's helped us.”
In other key sectional semifinal contests tonight, St. John's Prep will host Andover in a Div. 1 North semifinal. Defending Div. 2 state champion North Andover has a tough task ahead of them as they travel to Reading for a Div. 2 North semifinal.
In the Div. 2 South gauntlet, Mansfield faces Hockomock Kelley-Rex rival King Philip in one semifinal, while Bay State Conference powers Wellesley and Natick meet in the other semifinal. Defending Div. 3 South champion Duxbury hosts a dangerous Stoughton team, while undefeated Melrose squares off with Marblehead in a Div. 4 North semifinal.
A pair of unbeaten teams, Ashland and Rockland, meet in a Div. 6 South semifinal. A sneaky good game could very well be Randolph at West Bridgewater in a Div. 8 South semifinal.
The marquee matchup on Saturday takes place in Lawrence as Central Catholic hosts Everett in a Div. 1 North semifinal. The teams met in this round a year ago with the Raiders winning the game, 23-20, on a late field goal by Nick Mazzie, the son of the current chief of police in Everett.
Fresh off a solid opening-round win over Beverly, Concord-Carlisle hits the road to face Tewksbury in a Div. 3 North semifinal. Swampscott faces off with Pentucket in a Div. 5 North semifinal in Haverhill, while red-hot Nantucket travels to Cohasset in a Div. 7 semifinal.
The big game in the ISL is Belmont Hill at Governor's Academy. The winner clinches second place in the ISL-6 and virtually guarantees themselves a berth in the NEPSAC Bowl. Milton Academy looks to cap off an undefeated regular season when it hosts Noble & Greenough.
In the Evergreen League, Dexter Southfield puts its perfect 7-0 record on the line when it travels to Pingree.