By Ed Niser eniser@nashobapub.com

Panthers looking to restore pride in home tilt with Lions

West Boylston (6-0, 2-0 Mid-Wach D) @. Ayer-Shirley (1-5, 0-2 Mid-Wach D) 7 p.m Friday

Nashoba Publishing--

The Ayer-Shirley Panthers face a tough task at home tonight when they square off with undefeated conference foe West Boylston at 7 p.m. The Panthers have taken a turn for the worse, after their crushing defeat the hands of the Murdock Blue Devils a week ago. The Panthers come into Saturday's meeting licking their wounds after falling to Oakmont by a score of 47-25. West Boylston battered the Assabet Valley Aztecs 45-14 at home last week.

If Ayer wants to at least gain some pride, and momentum going into their three-game road swing, a win against West Boylston is huge. The Lions are a run-first, pass-second type of team. West Boylston has three horses in the stable that have accrued just under 1,000 yards rushing.

Pacing West Boylston is Mike Pace with 59-carries for 414-yards and nine touchdowns. Pace is averaging seven-yards-per carry. Just behind him is David DeSaulteis with 22 carries, 281 yards and six touchdowns. DeSaulteis is averaging just under 13-yards-per-carry.

Ben Tasker is the other end of the three-headed Lions' rushing attack with 40 carries totaling for 27-yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers linebacking core is spearheaded by Luke Snyder and Mike Montoya who consistently chip in top performances. Head coach Jason Rivers needs to put the game in the hands of his stud linebackers in order to put a stop to the three-pronged Lions' ground game.

West Boylston:

*QB Steven Gould is 37-of-60 with 783 yards passing and seven touchdowns.

*WR Bryan Hayes is second in Central Mass. Football with 23 catches amassing 554 yards with 6 touchdowns. Hayes is a secondary nightmare, averaging 24 yards-per-catch.

*Hayes(third in Central Mass. 69.5 tackles) and Matt Louirerro(61.5 tackles) anchor the Lions' defense.

Ayer-Shirley

*Panthers quarterback Zak Walker is a dual-threat both on the ground and through the air. In last week's loss to Oakmont he totaled 169-yards, and two rushing touchdowns on 37 carries.

*WR Justice Wallace is Walker's top target catching nine passes for 126-yards, averaging 14-yards per catch. Wallace has reached the end zone four times this season.

Patriots playing for a cure when they host Hudson

Hudson (3-3, 2-0 Mid-Wach B ) @ North Middlesex (3-3,1-1 Mid-Wach B) 7 p.m. Friday

Friday night means more than just your standard run-of-the-mill game for North Middlesex. The Patriots football players, coaches and cheerleading squad have all been scurrying to gather funds to help find a cure for breast cancer. October is breast cancer awareness month, and everyone involved with the program are doing their best to make a positive impact on future treatments with their fundraising. As for the match-up Friday, the Patriots are coming off a win a 31-13 win at Fitchburg.

The Hudson Hawks dropped to 3-3 after being embarrassed on their home field against local football power Groton-Dunstable, 21-0. North Middlesex sits with a .500 record following the big win against a depleted Red Raiders team.

In the past decade, wins aren't something that football fans in the Townsend area have been accustomed to. Senior running back Brandon Lambert rushed for 131 yards on nine carries.

Quarterback John Boutwell threw for two touchdowns in the win, with 113 yards passing. The Patriots are riding a hot streak with two straight wins over Westborough and Fitchburg. Hudson is paced by their quarterback Dan Mendes who poses as a dual threat.

Look for the Hawks to utilize him for a majority of the downs on Friday night. North Middlesex's defense needs to be aware of the Hawks' tendency to go with the quarterback boot frequently. The Patriots appear to be the favorite in this one due to the circumstances surrounding the breast cancer fundraiser and the fact they are at home. Just do not count out the Hawks. 

Hudson:

* Mendes has 79 attempts totaling for 474-yards rushing averaging 6 yards-per-carry with two touchdowns.

* RB Darnell Butler has 57 carries for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Butler is averaging 5.4 yards-per-carry.

* WR's Bobby Brisbois and Alex Peckam lead the team in receptions. Brisbois has hauled in eight catches for 169-yards averaging a daunting 21 yards-per-catch. Peckham has six catches for 168-yards and two touchdowns.

North Middlesex:

* Lambert has 96 carries for 664 yards and nine touchdowns. He is averaging just under seven-yards-per-carry.

* Boutwell is 29-of-57 for 551 yards passing,and five touchdowns.

* The wide receiver trio of Bryan Croteau, Ben Ferro and John Dolciotto are always players to watch when Lambert or Dylan Woods are not running the ball.

Groton Dunstable taking things one game at a time

Groton-Dunstable (5-1, 2-0 Mid-Wach C) @. Oakmont (3-3, 0-2 Mid-Wach C) Saturday 2 p.m.

Groton-Dunstable pummeled Hudson last Friday on the road by a score of 21-0. Quarterback Mack Eberheart threw and ran for a touchdown in the rout. Head coach Derek Asadoorian's squad is beginning to come together at the right time. The defense is beginning to click on all cylinders thanks to the leadership of Coleman and Charles Hill. If you're a Groton-Dunstable fan, there are a lot of things to cheer about.

The Crusaders are second in the Mid-Wach C just behind Tyngsborough who has yet to lose a game. Groton-Dunstable is undefeated in the conference and stand at 2-0. The Crusaders look like a team on a mission. Asadoorian told his players after their win at Hudson, to take things one step at a time, and never be satisfied. Groton-Dunstable is a team on a mission, and they don't seem to care who they go through to get to the playoffs.

As for the Oakmont Spartans, they are coming off a win over Ayer-Shirley who just can't manage to put all the pieces together. The Spartans are a tough gritty team, who rebounded nicely after their 21-20 defeat at the hands of Clinton two-weeks ago. Oakmont has an overall mark of 3-3, but still has yet to register a win against the tough Mid-Wach C slate they are up against this season.

The Spartans battled back from a 13-0 deficit to fend off the hungry Panthers. Running back Jacob Zagwyn amassed 283-yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns in the win. It will be a nice test for Oakmont to see if they are able to put together a strong four quarters against a worthy tough opponent like Groton-Dunstable.

The Crusaders need to stick to the course, and give the Spartans a steady dose of Eberheart on the ground, and through the air. Do not underestimate the talents of wide receiver Drew Moore, who had a huge reception in the win over Hudson.

Groton-Dunstable:

* Eberheart has 44 carries totaling 430 yards, with seven touchdowns. He is averaging just under 10-yards per carry. Passing, he is just as lethal 21-of-45 with 576 yards passing.

* WR Joey Orlando spearheads the receiving core with 24 catches totaling 209 yards. On average Orlando is gaining 8.7-yards per catch.

* Watch out for the push by the defense, as they will be hungry for another bang-up performance in Ashburnham.

Oakmont:

* Zagwyn is among the area's top running backs with 52 carries totaling for 628 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is also averaging a whopping 12.1 yards-per-carry.

* Oakmont doesn't put the ball in the air much with Zagwyn, but when they do its quarterback Derek Andrews under center. Andrews is 8-of-18 passing with 138 yards and one touchdown.