EDITORS NOTE: This is a corrected version of the story. The original story did not factor in Triton’s previous four wins, meaning Masconomet can earn 20 points with a win Friday not eight and still has a chance to move into the No. 4 seed and ahead of Gloucester.
The short but confusing Massachusetts high school football regular season is coming to an end this weekend with the sectional quarterfinals looming the following week.
After seven weeks of number crunching, Gloucester and Manchester Essex’s playoff picture is starting to come into focus, sort of. With just one week to go before the playoffs start there is still much to be ironed out in both Division 3 Northeast, where the Fishermen play, and Division 5 North, where Manchester Essex plays, and the possibilities are endless.
Here’s a look at where each team stands, what it needs to do, and who it needs to watch in Week 7.
With 91 points, the Fishermen currently sit in third place in Division 3 Northeast. It’s power rating (points per week), however, is 13 which puts it in a tie for the No. 4 seed with Beverly. With 89 points and a favorable matchup against Winthrop on Friday, Danvers (5-1, 14.83 power rating) will most likely move past Gloucester and into the No. 3 seed, while Tewksbury (6-0, 21 power rating) and Marblehead (5-1, 16.33 power rating) have essentially locked up the No. 1 and No. 2 spots respectively as long as each team takes care of business this weekend.
Gloucester has locked down a playoff spot but its opponent and seed are still up for grabs. Beverly (3-3, 13 power rating) or Masconomet (4-2, 12.83 power rating) are still in the running for that No. 4 seed depending on several scenarios this weekend. Here is where things get really complicated.
Although Gloucester has a bye this week and has to sit back and watch teams pick up points, it can still gain points of its own and its power rating can only go up this weekend. The Fishermen can earn three points with wins from Lynn Classical over Revere, Lynn English over Marblehead, Salem over Peabody and whichever team wins the Beverly vs. Swampscott matchup. Gloucester can also earn a point with a Marblehead win over Lynn English or a Masconomet win over Triton.
So with a week off, Gloucester can still earn up to 13 more points which would move its power rating up to 14.85, but that’s if everything goes Gloucester’s way. The Fishermen do have an outside chance at the No. 3 seed if Danvers falls to Winthrop, but it is an unlikely scenario.
The Fishermen will be watching Beverly closely as the Panthers also have a rating of 13 heading into Week 8 against Swampscott. The Panthers can earn 11 points with a win over the Big Blue and three more points from the Marblehead vs. Lynn English game regardless of which teams wins. The North Andover vs. Haverhill matchup this weekend is also key for Beverly. A North Andover win gives the Panthers three important points while a Haverhill win will give them just one point. Beverly can also earn one point with a Danvers win.
The Panthers can earn up to 17 points this week, giving it an optimal power rating of 13.57. The Panthers can not pass the Fishermen and move into the No. 4 seed regardless of what happens this weekend, their best case scenario is the No. 5 spot.
Masconomet is still in the mix for a home game in round one and can earn 20 points with a win over Triton this weekend, eight for the win and 12 due to Triton’s four previous wins. The Chieftains will earn three points no matter which team wins the Newburyport vs. Saugus game this weekend, and they can also earn three points with a North Reading win over Pentucket. A Pentucket win over North Reading will give Masconomet one point.
The Chieftains can earn as many as 27 points this weekend, giving them an optimal power rating of 14.85 meaning it can move up as high as the No. 4 seed and host a first round home game, which could be against the Fishermen.
No matter how the cookie crumbles in Week 8, there will be a rematch in the sectional quarters as Gloucester already has a 14-12 win over Beverly and a 27-0 loss at the hands of Masconomet.
Manchester Essex (3-3)
The Hornets have a lot more on the line than Gloucester this weekend, but their playoff scenario is much more simple. If the Hornets beat Amesbury on Friday night at Hyland Field they will earn 12 points and a top eight seed. A loss will most likely put the Hornets on the outside of the playoff picture.
Currently the Hornets have 55 points, good for 10th in the section, but its power rating of 9.17 is good for the No. 8 spot with 3-4 East Boston (8.86 power rating) and 4-2 Madison Park (8.86 power rating) right behind them.
The Hornets can earn three points this weekend with an Ipswich win over unbeaten Lynnfield, highly unlikely, a Georgetown win over Hamilton-Wenham, also highly unlikely, and the unlikely scenario of a Greater Lawrence win over Northeast.
Manchester Essex can earn a point with wins from Northeast, Lynnfield and Hamilton-Wenham. The can earn up to 21 points this week with a win and if the three aforementioned teams can each pull off upsets, giving it an optimal power rating of 10.8.
The Hornets will probably not get much help from teams they already beat, so their playoff prospects ride on their shoulders against a 3-3 Amesbury team that has won three in a row and is also playing for its playoff life.
The Hornets can still sneak into the playoffs with a loss as East Boston is idle this week and can gain three points with wins from Dorchester, Boston English and Charlestown. Madison Park plays unbeaten Brighton and can earn three more points from the winner of the Burke vs. South Boston game and a win from Charlestown over West Roxbury.
All in all, East Boston can earn an optimal power rating of 10.57 and Madison Park can earn an optimal rating of 9.85.
If Manchester Essex qualifies, its most likely opponents for the Division 5 North Quarterfinals will be Bishop Fenwick or Northeast.
With a win, Manchester Essex will be heading to the playoffs. If the Hornets fall to Amesbury on Friday (7 p.m.), however, that’s when things get really complicated, too complicated to sort through at this time, as there are several scenarios where it can still get in and several scenarios where it can fall out of the top eight.
No matter what happens this weekend one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be fun seeing how things play out in Week 8 and it’s going to be nerve racking monitoring the scores from countless teams around the state.