Catholic Memorial the boss til proven otherwise – Boston Herald

Twenty-nine teams have tried to knock off Catholic Memorial. All 29 left the field on the short end of the scoreboard.

Despite some heavy graduation losses, the Knights have enough back in the fold to get the nod as the preseason No. 1 ranked team in the Boston Herald’s 31st annual preseason Eastern Mass. Sweet 16 rankings. It won’t be easy for Catholic Memorial to remain atop the heap as the Knights open the season with an excellent Mansfield team, play a pair of out-of-state teams (Cardinal Newman of Florida and St. Francis of New York) as well as fellow Catholic Conference powers St. John’s Prep and Xaverian.

St. John’s Prep shut down Springfield Central to capture the Div. 1 state title and will be among the contenders once again. Xaverian returns some quality players on both sides of the ball and are hungry to make a statement.

King Philip has been as consistently successful as any school in Eastern Mass. And can’t see that changing any time soon. The Eason brothers give Methuen plenty of reason for optimism, while Mike Redding’s Mansfield team will be in the mix for a Div. 3 state championship.

Sweet 16

1. Catholic Memorial (12-0): The defending Div. 2 state championship will be very good upfront as highly touted Guerby Lambert leads a returning group which includes Harvard-bound Brandon Sullivan, James Mullin and Jack Holland. Peter Bourque takes over at quarterback and he will look to running back Mekhi Dodd, wide receiver Isaiah Faublas and tight end J.D, Rayner. On defense, the Knights return Colin Murphy, Joao Pires and Rayner on the line, Will Claude and David Timson at linebacker and Eric Perkins in the secondary.

2. Xaverian (7-4): The Hawks return a healthy dose of talent on both sides of the ball led by Michigan State-bound quarterback Henry Hasselbeck and Liberty-bound wide receiver Jonathan Monteiro. The hope is that wide receiver/defensive back Charlie Comella (BC commit) can return from a collarbone injury at some point. Other returning players include offensive linemen Greg Celestin, Andrew Dufault (headed to Penn State as a long-snapper) and Brendan Berube, defensive lineman Nick Angelini, linebacker Vincent Busa, defensive backs Mike O’Connor amd Caleb Brown.

3. St. John’s Prep (11-2): The defense rose to the challenge in the Div. 1 state title game victory over Springfield Central and expect more of the same this fall. All four linebackers return (John Droggitis, Marquese Avery, Jackson Tucker and Matt Callahan) along with nose guard Alex Bajoras and defensive end Mason McSweeney. Quarterback Deacon Robillard will work behind a talented line consisting of Jack DiFilippo, Graham Roberts, Wells Gillett and McSweeney.

4. Methuen (9-3): Quarterback Drew Eason and running back Shane Eason returns for a Rangers’ team which advanced to the Div. 1 state semifinalists. The receiving corps is solid with Aiden O’Shaughnessy, Adrian Blake and Kian Greeley return to the fold, while the offensive line will be keyed by Brady Gourley and Matt McCormick. On defense, Methuen will be solid in the secondary as Josh Kwakye, Ibrahima Ba, Aaron Chiocca and Joey Bolduc are back along with linebackers Marcel Kekedi and McCormick.

5. Mansfield (9-2): The Hornets have a good nucleus of returning players and should be among the favorites in Div. 3. Connor Curtis takes over at quarterback for Conner Zukowski and he will lean on wide receivers Trevor Foley and Brandon Jackman along with running backs Tommy Smith and Brian Butler. The offensive line should be solid as Aidan Gleavy, Matt Tryon, Jason Riley, Chris Holts and Colin Gill are back. On the defensive side of the ball, Jackman and Foley are the defensive backs, Mason Bordieri and Butler are the linebackers and Gleavy is the most experienced returning defensive lineman.

6. Lincoln-Sudbury (7-4): The Warriors return a solid group of seniors on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Cooper Tarantino, running backs Darius Braithwaite and Jenson Martin, wide receiver Jake Haarde and offensive linemen Reese Sinclair, Henry Lowery, Jake Leverone and Kieran Fagan. Defensive linemen Abdulraheem Kareem and Peter Abair, linebackers Luke Ohler, Logan Umbach and Calvin Pendergast and defensive backs Eric Siegal, Ollie Reinhardt and Haarde are back.

7. Duxbury (12-0): The defending Div. 4 state champions lost some key parts, but there are plenty of players back to try and defend their title. The defense should be solid as defensive backs Finn Carley, Rob Heppenstall, Sam Wien and Trevor Jones, linebackers Thomas Sheehan, Jack Rees and Joe Barberia along with defensive linemen Ryder Thomas and Jon Rovegno return. Standout running back Alex Barlow is back and he’ll run behind an offensive line keyed by Brent Watts. Spencer Moore and Jack Johnson. Zach Falls and Adam Barr will be the top receivers.

8. King Philip (9-3): Two-time Div. 2 finalist will be among the best of a loaded Hockomock League field. Quarterback Tommy McLeish will operate behind a solid line keyed by Sean King, Luke Danson and Logan Van Vaerenewyck along with tight end Dan Silveria. King and Danson return on the defensive line along with lineback Aiden Astorino and defensive back David Constantine.

9. Central Catholic (9-3): New coach John Sexton will rely on quarterback Blake Hebert (Clemson commit), wide receiver Max Frediani and linemen Thomas Galusha and Sedwin Vasquez on the offensive side of the ball. Defensive end Presley Titus is back with safeties Mason Bachry and Jaxon Pereira.

10. Everett (8-2): Justin Flores takes over and will look to BC-bound Christian Zamor (wide receiver/defensive back) to be one of the leaders. Other players looking to make an impact include offensive linemen Seajae Gaskill and Carlos Cornejo, wide receivers Pedro Rodrigues and Jayden Prophete. For key players on defense, Matthew LaMonica and Dominic Papa are the linebackers, Aidan Duclos and Shane MacKenzie on the line and Rodrigies and Prophete in the secondary.

11. Billerica (10-1): Indians are loaded with returning players on both sides of the ball. On defense, they have linemen Dan Moore, Tyler Bornstein, Logan Mueller and Xavier Mosley, linebackers Cole Dillon, Matt MacLeod, Steven Gentile, Aidan Gibbons and Jizaiah Candelario along with cornerbacks Judd Dorival, Gus O’Gara, Mike Murnane and Gryffin Bordeau. On offense, Brendon Ganley, Moore, Bornstein, Mueller and Mosley are on the line, Gentile will play quarterback, Dorival is the top returning back, while the receiving group will consist of Dillon, Gibbons, O’Gara amd Bordeau.

12. North Attleboro (8-3): Red Rocketeers should be able to score some points this fall as standout quarterback Chase Frisoli is back as well as tight end Ryan Bannon, wide receiver Bryce Kiser and linemen Nolan McLaughlin and Lucas Matson. On defense, the leaders should be lineman Patrick Hamilton, Bannon at linebacker and Chris Hanewich and Kiser in the secondary.

13. Andover (10-1): The Golden Warriors return 14 starters from a team which won the Merrimack Valley Conference Large title. Leading the way on offense are wide receivers Chris Dessin and Andrew Walles, tight end Brian Hnat, offensive linemen Ryan Zannoni, Brady Carlson, Liam Finn and Jamyl Figueroa, running back Dante Berger and Connor Acheson. On defense, take note of linebackers Brian McSweeney, Will Dever and Sammy Joseph, and defensive backs Patrick Cote, Connor Lebrun, Hnat and Dessin.

14. Milford (10-2): Yet another in the crowded field of Hockomock League contenders, the Scarlet Hawks are ready to soar again. Milford is solid at wide receiver with Aidan Watson, Andrew Rivera and C.J. Farrell back as well as linemen Keith Lee, Tony Dew and Oliver McKee on both sides of the ball. Watson and Farrell will be in the secondary, while Rivera and Nick Araujo are back at linebacker. Araujo, who is slated to play running back, is also one of the top kickers in the state.

15. Milton (11-1): Fresh off another successful season, the Wildcats will need a slew of players to step up to maintain the recent level of excellence. The defense should be solid as Griffin White and Anderson Perez-Ruiz return up front along with linebackers A.J. Cicerone and Ben Caledonia and defensive backs Patrick Miller, Ferris Collins and Luke Haley. Miller takes over at quarterback and has three linemen back in Josh Ricciardi, White and Perez-Ruiz.

16. Barnstable (3-8): Red Raiders played a tough schedule last year and that will play dividends this fall as many of those players are back, The offense will be led by quarterback Aiden Kundel, running backs Tajardo France and Brandon Silva, wide receivers Chevy Shakespeare and Darren Thomas along with linemen Ian Mulcahy, Mauricio Duran and Harry Ellis. On the other side of the ball, Spencer LaValley, Kurt Campbell and Ellis return up front along with linebackers Cole Raposo, Jadus Roderick and Silva and defensive backs Andrew Lovell, Eric Lovell, Karon Ford and France.

ON THE BENCH: Franklin (7-3), Brockton (9-2), Chelmsford (8-3), North Andover (5-6), Marblehead (8-2), Tewksbury (7-4), Marshfield (7-4), Plymouth South (10-1), Reading (9-2), Woburn (7-4), Walpole (9-2), Peabody (10-1), Scituate (5-5), Shawsheen (12-1), Bishop Fenwick (9-3), Hanover (9-3)

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