Jack Belichick, er Belcher

Woburn High football coach Jack Belcher does not like to give much information away during preseason. Tonight, at Wilmington, his Tanners will be on display for all the world to see.

The start of the local high school football season is like Christmas morning around here. All the preseason speculation and the “coach speak” we have to wade through just to get whatever crumbs these coaches want to part with is finally over. We get to see for ourselves what our teams have beginning tonight.

I know, Winchester and a few others ML teams have already “jumped the gun” and played last week, but I wasn’t really paying attention so that doesn't count. It was still summer for me last weekend.

Here are the picks for the games we care about.

Woburn at Wilmington, Friday, 7 p.m. — Not sure what to expect from the Wu tonight. Getting Intel out of third-year coach Jack Belichick, er, Belcher, is never easy, especially in preseason. We get a lot more out of No. 45’s tweets from the Oval Office than I do from my local guy. Heck, I couldn’t even find out what time they were scrimmaging Masco a few weeks back.

Now we get eyeballs on them tonight.

On paper you would think Woburn over Wilmington is a no-brainer. “Tanner Pride” with a bigger enrollment against “poor little” Wilmington which was welcomed into the Middlesex League in 2011 with open arms because some coaches and A.D.’s (as well as an area sports editor who will not be named) who all thought it would be the “Watertown of the north.”

Not so on many occasions.

The ’Cats looked good against Billerica by most accounts last week. It has a pretty good senior quarterback in Tristan Ciampa and a stud player in RB/LB Bailey Smith.

Woburn should be sound defensively this year, but the offense has pretty much an entirely new cast without “offensive” varsity experience.

Would love to pick Wilmington here, but the Woburn “honk” I am won’t let me, even though most people in the Wu think of me as “that Reading guy.”


Woburn 12, Wilmington 6

Lincoln-Sudbury at Reading, Friday, 7 p.m. — This was an absolute great playoff game and a heartbreaker at the same time for the Rockets a year ago.

L-S is usually no pushover, but cannot see Reading losing on “Nelson Burbank Night” which will provide a special backdrop to this game. Burbank, the noted athletic benefactor in Reading (the rink and YMCA have his name attached thanks to generous donations), passed away recently at age 98.

Reading 21, Lincoln-Sudbury 14

Burlington at Lawrence, Saturday, noon — Lawrence is a big school and the Devils will have to be ready for speed and physicality. Expecting this to be a wide open game thanks to the Red Devil passing attack.

Lawrence 28, Burlington 21

Winchester at Newton South, Saturday, 1:30 — I am pretty high on the Sachems this season. Think coach Wally Dembowski has the right mindset to coach in Winchester and “Touchdown Tommy” is a flat-out great nickname for QB Tommy Degnan.

I know I will also call junior RB Jimmy Gibbons, “Billy Gibbons” on occasion since I am a ZZ Top fan.

Winchester 21, Newton South 7

(Steve Algeri's picks appear during the high school football season.)

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