(2-3) Patriots set to march into (0-5) Fitchburg seeking second straight win

North Middlesex travels to Crocker Field to take on the winless Fitchburg High School Red Raiders. The Patriots are fresh off a 31-28 overtime thriller of a victory over the Westborough Rangers Saturday afternoon on the road. The Patriots offense is headlined by their two prized stallions in the backfield, Brandon Lambert and Dylan Woods. Lambert rushed for 28 attempts, 141-yards, and two touchdowns, including the game winning score in the overtime period. Woods had a great day himself with two touchdowns on 13 carries, amassing a total of 143-yards on the ground. Sophomore quarterback, John Boutwell was six-of-10 on passes for 170-yards and a touchdown.

Fitchburg has yet to register a win in their first five games this year, falling last Friday on the road at Brockton to the Boxers, 33-6. The Red Raiders are a young team desperately trying to claw their way to a win. Sandy Ruggle's Patriots need to feed the workhorses on offense in Lambert and Woods if they want to continue to bring victories home to Townsend. Ruggles after the game with Westborough felt that the Patriots played as a full team for the first time this season, and was very impressed with their performance. North Middlesex will be tested by the young Fitchburg team playing in a hostile environment. Fitchburg is 5-0 all-time against the Patriots. The Red Raiders defeated the Patriots in Townsend 31-0 last year. North Middlesex looks to change their fortunes tonight at 7 p.m. One has to think that Fitchburg's luck will change at some point this season; it just won't be against the Patriots.

Players to Watch/stats:

North Middlesex:

* Brandon Lambert Season Stats- 87 carries for 534 yards, he is averaging 6.1 yards-per-carry with 8 touchdowns this season

* Quarterback John Boutwell- 24-of-50 passing for 439 yards and 3 touchdowns.

* Running Back Dylan Woods- four carries for 83 yards, averaging over 20-yards-per-carry.

Fitchburg: The Red Raiders have been outscored by a combined margin opponents 148-25 in 2012.

Panthers (1-4) set to Claw back in road contest with Oakmont(2-3)

The Ayer-Shirley Panthers were shocked at home against Murdock by a score of 22-8 last Friday. The only points the Panthers managed to score were off a 72-yard interception by John Elysee that he took to the house in the second quarter. Ayer-Shirley looks to rebound from a dismal performance on offense and defense collectively when they travel to Oakmont to take on the Spartans. Oakmont rebounded in resounding fashion last Saturday when they blanked South, by a score of 34-0.

The Spartans come into today's action with a record of 2-3 on the season. Ayer-Shirley and Oakmont meet in a conference tilt in Ashburnham at 7 p.m. The Panthers need to play more collectively as a team, more so than they did against the Murdock Blue Devils. This game should be a close one, as Oakmont has proven to be a tough place to play over the years.

Players to watch/series notes

Ayer-Shirley:

* Receiver Justis Wallace is nine-of-16 on receptions totaling 126 yards and he averages over 16 yards-per-catch with three TD's.

* Quarterback Zak Walker is 19-of-26 passing this season with 246 yards and three touchdowns.

* Ayer-Shirley lost to the Spartans at home last year 15-14.

Oakmont:

* Jacob Zagwyn- 30 rushes for 390 yards averaging 13 yards per carry with 7 rushing touchdowns this season.

* Camden Brown- 23 carries for 152 yards and three touchdowns; he averages just over three yards-per carry.

* Quarterback Derek Andrews is eight-of-18 for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Crusaders(4-1) travel to Hudson for conference matchup with a tough Hawks(3-2) bunch

Groton-Dunstable defeated Clinton by a score of 35-6 at home last Friday. Now the Crusaders set their sights on a Friday night division matchup with the Hawks at the Bowdoin Bowl. Head coach Derek Asadoorian's squad proved that they fixed the turnover bug against the Gaels, now they have a true test at hand with Hudson. The Crusaders have a 4-1 record, with their only loss coming at the hands of a thumping by Westford Academy.  If the Crusaders think that they can just roll past Hudson like they did Clinton, they need to think again. Quarterback Mack Ebbheart leads the Crusaders with 44 carries totaling to 430 yards with three touchdowns and an average of just less than 10 yards-per-carry. He is a dual threat, as a passer Ebbheart is 21-of-45 passing with 576-yards and seven touchdowns.

If you notice a trend on the stat sheet, the Crusaders have three backs with over 200 yards rushing this year in Quinton Forbes and Joey Orlando. Forbes has also been productive in receiving with six catches for 133-yards averaging over 22-yards-per-catch. Drew Moore has also been a key catalyst receiver with three receptions for 120 yards.

Hudson is 3-2 on the season coming off a 34-20 win over Algonquin, the Hawks only two losses this season game to Central Mass. powerhouse Leominster, and Nipmuc. The Hawks will be ready to defend their home field, and the Crusaders have to be on their A-game when they travel Hudson.

Quick Hits:

Groton-Dunstable:

* The Crusaders are 2-0 in road games this season.

* Groton-Dunstable's defense is paced by Coleman and Charles Hill who combine for 31 tackles this season.

* Groton-Dunstable is tied for first place in the Mid-Wach-C Division with Tyngsborough (2-0)

Hudson:

* Quarterback Dan Mendes is 28-of-57 for 429 yards throwing for four touchdowns this season.

* Mendes also is a dual threat on the ground, averaging just over six yards-per-carry on 65 carries for 402 yards for two touchdowns.

* Alex Peckham has hauled in the most yards catch for the Hawks this season averaging 39.5 yards-per-catch. Receiver James Adams has 13 catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns.

* Hudson tied for first place behind Nashoba in the Mid Wach B conference.