Having impressed in enemy territory to open the season, the Leominster High football team will have a chance to shine on its home field tonight.
The Blue Devils’ home opener will see LHS welcoming Doherty to Doyle Field at 7 p.m. in a clash of teams whose results in Week 1 couldn’t have been much more different.
Leominster comes off a 48-6 thumping of archrival Fitchburg High at Crocker Field, handing the Red Raiders the 500th loss in program history in the process. Last Thursday’s contest saw the Blue Devils put up 41 points in the first half, the most points ever in a half in the storied rivalry, according to historian Mark Bodanza.
Meanwhile, Doherty is coming off a 20-0 blanking at Algonquin Regional.
The Highlanders will have their collective hands full with a Blue Devils team that played smothering defense last week and showcased an impressive offense led by a poised freshman quarterback.
Osiris Lopez looks cool and calm under center last week in enemy territory and while some of that likely comes as part of the freshman’s disposition, having the players Lopez has around him certainly can’t hurt either.
While Lopez showed the ability to take open space when it’s presented to him, he also had no problem fitting throws into tight windows for receiver Kaiden Drinkwater and getting the ball into the hands of powerful running back Ma’Kai Stinson Newton and all-everything weapon Ricky Encarnacion.
With the time the Leominster offensive line gave the skill position players last week, there were plenty of gaping holes to exploit and the Blue Devils did just that.
And speaking of milestones, Leominster is inching closer to becoming just the third program in Massachusetts history to reach the 800-win plateau. Last week’s victory over the Red Raiders was win No. 793.
Only Brockton and Everett have reached that mark.
Tough runners to be tested
St. Bernard’s opened with a rout of Blackstone Valley Tech last week, cruising to a 30-0 win at the Bernardian Bowl.
And while the venue will be the same for tonight’s tilt, the outcome will likely be a bit different as the Bernardians welcome a potent Stoneham side to Fitchburg. The Spartans, playing out of the Middlesex League’s Freedom Division, opened with a 24-16 victory over Winthrop.
The guest Spartans will be tasked with slowing down the two-headed running attack of Antonio Mancini and Damien Jones, a pair of seniors who combined for over 300 yards on the ground last week.
Keep it rolling
Coming off a 28-7 win at Littleton to start the Jordan Murphy era, North Middlesex Regional faces a tall task in the quest to start 2-0, traveling to Auburn to face a solid Rockets team.
Meanwhile, Oakmont Regional, a 38-12 winner over Narragansett Regional last week, heads to Clinton hoping to remain unbeaten.
Looking to rebound
Several local ties will look to get back to .500 on the young season after dropping their openers. While falling to 0-2 wouldn’t spell the end of a season, it’s certainly an uphill climb to the playoffs from such a hole.
Fitchburg looks to shake off the aforementioned drubbing it took last week when it travels to Holden tonight to face Wachusett Regional. Likewise, Nashoba Regional — on the wrong side of a 27-7 decision to Grafton — will look to get a win when it hosts Longmeadow and Lunenburg — which fell at Oxford, 31-25 — plays host to Quabbin Regional looking for win No. 1 on the season.
Ayer Shirley, which dropped a 22-20 game in overtime at Worcester Tech last Friday, hosts Worcester North on Saturday afternoon.