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School football advance

Watertown sizes up first playoff berth

By Ryan Mooney
Globe Correspondent / October 21, 2011

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The last time Watertown won the first six games of a football season it went on to finish undefeated, yet failed to qualify for the playoffs.

The Yankees won the World Series that year, Apple introduced a new operating system to the world, and “Star Wars’’ became the highest-grossing movie of all time. The year was 1977.

Fast-forward 34 years, and as Halloween draws near the Red Raiders (6-0, 1-0 Middlesex Small) are once again unbeaten. But the best season in more than three decades is not the only goal within reach. With the realignment of the MIAA prior to the season, the Middlesex Small champion is now guaranteed a playoff spot.

“I think it’s in the back of our minds,’’ Watertown coach John Cacace said of making the MIAA postseason for the first time in school history. “But we’re a team that, we don’t talk a ton about wins and losses, and we don’t talk about records. We really talk about doing the little things . . . and if we do those things, the wins and losses kind of take care of themselves.’’

The Red Raiders head to Woburn tonight to take on Melrose (5-1, 0-1). With a new field under construction, Melrose has been playing its home games in neighboring towns. Melrose, also known as the Red Raiders, is off to a similarly hot start, winning its first five games before falling to Burlington last Friday.

After playing beyond Thanksgiving twice in recent years (2004 and 2007), coach Tim Morris feels the best way for his team to go about business is to not get too far ahead of themselves.

“We try to keep the guys focused on the game at hand, and not look further than the game itself,’’ Morris said.

Watertown won last season’s tilt, 35-28.

“We’re going to have to be tough up front and slow them down a little bit,’’ Cacace said. “No one’s really been able to completely shut them down. I think that’s the challenge for us, if we can slow them down defensively.’’

Elsewhere on the weekend slate, three top-20 games take place, starting tonight when No. 12 Walpole (6-0) visits No. 14 Needham (5-1). Tomorrow, top-ranked Everett (6-0) hosts No. 3 BC High (4-2), and No. 5 Xaverian (4-2) hosts No. 10 Bridgewater-Raynham (4-1).

Hopkinton (6-0) will attempt to remain undefeated tonight hosting Holliston (4-1) in a Tri-Valley League matchup. Both are 1-0 in league play. The Panthers have won their last three games.

Also tonight, Oliver Ames (4-1, 1-0 Hockomock) visits Mansfield (5-1, 2-0 Hockomock). Though technically not a league game, this is an interesting one with the Tigers currently holding first place in the Davenport division, while the Hornets sit atop the Kelley-Rex division.

Tomorrow’s games will go a long way in deciding the Catholic Central Large winner. After setting the league record for career wins last Saturday with his 237th (over East Boston, 14-8), Austin Prep coach Bill Maradei will attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when his Cougars (2-3) host undefeated Arlington Catholic (5-0, 1-0 Catholic Central). Later Saturday, unbeaten Cardinal Spellman faces St. Mary’s (5-1).

Speaking of wins, with Auburn falling to Shepherd Hill two weeks ago, Pingree (4-0) now holds the longest winning streak in Massachusetts at 20 games. Pingree plays at New Hampton (4-0) tonight.