The conference races are starting to heat up across the North Shore football landscape, and the sports writers at The Salem News delve into what's happening on the gridiron this weekend and the effect it'll have on our local teams moving forward.

Matt Williams takes a deep dive into the battle of the top two rated teams in Massachusetts in this week's 'Moving The Chains' football notes column, as St. John's Prep hosts their Catholic Conference rivals from Catholic Memorial this Saturday afternoon in Danvers. St. John's Prep took down the Knights twice last season, including in the Division 1 state Super Bowl, but it's CM that is ranked No. 1 in most polls this season while the Eagles will look to stay unbeaten with a win at Glatz Field. He also takes a look at other weekend games across the landscape and the histories behind them.

The Northeastern Conference North standings are tight at the top, and Executive Sports Editor Phil Stacey looks at the three league matchups that will take place Friday night — Peabody at Marblehead, Danvers at Swampscott, and Beverly at Gloucester — along with some unheralded players from each team that have allowed their squads to achieve success to this point.

As usual, we've got plenty of other football tidbits and factoids to prepare fans for this weekend's contests, including our Football Friday list of games, leaders in rushing, passing and receiving yards, Games to Watch, and as always, our popular high school football predictions, with scores and an upset pick chosen by each of our sportswriters.

You can follow the plethora of weekend football action on our Twitter feeds (@salemnewssports, @PhilStacey_SN, @MattWilliams_SN, @NickGiannino_SN @JeanDePlacidoSN, @StephenTobey1, @MacCerullo), and make sure to check our website for updated game stories, photos and updates throughout the weekend.

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