Step aside trick-or-treaters, the porch light is off, there is no candy coming from the Niser residence this Halloween.
Not because I am greedy and want all the candy for myself, no, I will be at Wachusett covering the opening round of the Division 2 Central Mass football playoffs.
North Middlesex has proven all season long that it’s no Cinderella.
Sure the Patriots suffered tough losses at Algonquin and Fitchburg, but I don’t think the Patriots are going to turn into a giant pumpkin when the clock strikes midnight tonight in Holden.
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving bar-none for the fact that I get to enjoy football and a big feast, but playoff football on Halloween is a close second. If you have been to enough football games over the years, you start to notice that the fans will do whatever it takes to get noticed.
This is why tonight’s game is going to be interesting.
I expect the North Middlesex and Wachusett students to be decked out in their best costumes. North Middlesex announced Tuesday morning via Twitter that it will be sending a fan bus for students to Friday’s game.
I will be scanning the stands looking for North Middlesex with awesome costumes– I’m calling you out Trench! — maybe I will take your picture, or just laugh.
Either way, covering football on Halloween is going to be a blast.
But, let’s get back to the game at hand tonight.
North Middlesex (5-2, Midland B champions) heads in as the No. 6 seed, while the No. 3 Mountaineers (4-2) locked up third place in the always tough Midland A division behind Shrewsbury and front-runner Leominster.
North Middlesex has key victories over Doherty, Groton-Dunstable and Marlboro, but none were bigger than last Friday night’s 28-14 win over Hudson, which finds itself on the outside looking in.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, they will have to wait until Thanksgiving morning to learn if they are the outright Mid-Wach B champs, or have to share with Algonquin. Either way, it is still the best North Middlesex season since I was in kindergarten … hint, the year was 1995, when the Patriots won their last league title.Expect head coach Sandy Ruggles and his staff to have the troops ready to go, and hopefully the stands will be filled with positive spirits.
Will the Patriots be able to ward off the Mountaineers on their chilly home turf with a kickoff temperature of 39 degrees expected?
One thing I have learned in my three seasons of covering North Middlesex football is that you can never count out a team coached by Sandy Ruggles.
Coach Ruggles told me following Friday night’s game that the 1995 team had the talent and experience it needed to win, but the 2014 installment of the Patriots have a grit and never say die edge about them — and sometimes that can trump talent.Wachusett has allowed 23.3 points per-game on average in its six games this season.
If North Middlesex can bring the hard-hitting defense it did against Marlboro and Hudson, it should have a good chance at winning tonight. But, it is never an easy task to win a playoff game on the road, let alone on Halloween night when everyone is going to be jacked up on sugar — including me.
For those of you wondering what I will be dressed as this Halloween, it’s the same thing I go as every day, a sportswriter.
Sorry guys, no funky chicken costume.
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser