Perhaps no player had a bigger breakout performance at last year’s Super 8 hockey tournament than Springfield Cathedral freshman forward Riley Prattson.

The Tolland, Conn. native was a key cog on the Panthers’ vibrant power play and blossomed in the second half of the season to finish fourth on the team in points with 46 (16 G, 30 A).

Last week, Prattson announced his verbal commitment to Providence College via his Twitter account. We caught up with Prattson to talk about his decision:

On choosing PC: “When I was visiting schools, it was overwhelming at first because I would get the same feeling from all of them – that I liked the school, but It didn't give me a definite feeling of if I wanted to go there or not. But when I visited Providence, as soon as I got in the rink and met with the coaches, I got a feeling that I wanted to come to this school. The coaches and I really connected, I got a great feel from the campus, and the combination of great academics and great athletics really sealed the deal on my decision.”

On when he’ll arrive at PC: “As to when I'm targeted to go, we're just going to take it year by year, because in the end I need to keep getting better as a player and hold up my end of the bargain if I want to play college hockey at such a high level.”

On where he fits in PC’s system: “It's kind of hard to tell if my game would fit with the team’s system because systems are always changing as teams develop and get better. But that being said, I feel I would fit well into whatever is thrown at me because adapting to certain conditions and changing aspects of my game is something I feel that I'd be able to do well. So I feel I my game would fit into the Friars’ systems, or I could make it fit.”

On summertime hockey: “For the summer, I've done a tournament with the U-16 Springfield Rifles, the New England player development camp at UNH and the Select 15 National Camp, which I feel is enough for me because no matter how much I miss playing it, it's always good to take a break from playing in the offseason. Other than that just working out with my brother [Cathedral forward Zac], trying to get bigger, stronger and faster. [I’m] also working on my shot and stick-handling, and trying to become a better player.”

On next season at Cathedral: “For every season, my goal as a player is trying to get better. I'm really excited for next season because we have a special team with lots of skill and talent and dedicated players that we're all hoping will all do their part to take us to the Super 8.”

On his Super 8 experience last year: “Personally, I have gained confidence because I have experience with what playoff, Super 8 high school hockey is like. The atmosphere gets more intense and the play gets faster the further you go into the tournament. It's also great to have almost every player on the team returning, because we all know what needs to be done to get to the Super 8 and go deep into the tournament. And we're hoping to do just that.”

Northeast 7v7: Chelmsford takes East title

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
10:50
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PEABODY, Mass. -- It’s not always easy to stay focused and remain competitive during the sweltering heat of summer, but that’s exactly what the Chelmsford Lions did on Saturday at Bishop Fenwick as the team captured the East Regional title of the Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 Tournament.

“Everything we do the whole offseason, from weight lifting, going to clinics to competitions like this, is about preparing us for us the real deal in the fall. It’s all about competition,” said Chelmsford head coach Bruce Rich.

The Lions rolled through pool play with a perfect 4-0 record before advancing past Billerica and Lowell, two Merrimack Valley rivals in the semifinal and final. It was sweet retribution for Chelmsford after going 1-3 last weekend in a similar tournament.

“Our kids really stepped up today. We had a tough weekend last weekend, not even making the playoffs. The kids got together and did a great job this week,” said Rich. “I’m happy with the outcome. We tell the kids, no matter what game it is, even if it’s chess, competition is competition.”

Chelmsford’s defense was in midseason form for most of the day. The Lions’ pass coverage was so stealth in the semifinal victory over Thanksgiving Day rival Billerica, that it forced the Indians three-and-out one possession without a pass even being thrown.

Chelmsford’s defense was up to the task once again in the finals when the Lions picked off three Lowell passes, including two that were run back for scores.

Michael Russo, Alex Palermo and Jackie Jillett were the defensive heroes. Senior quarterback Jack Campsmith didn’t have his best day, but he came up with several key conversions when his team needed it most.

It was an all-Merrimack Valley Conference final four as Chelmsford and Billerica squared off on one side of the field and Lowell and Haverhill did battle on the other half. It was two previews of Thanksgiving Day games, a point of pride for many around the valley.

“It’s impressive. It’s too bad because of the playoff system our league was broken up. It’s what it is. The Merrimack Valley has always been a good league,” said Rich.

Chicopee Comp surprises: Chelmsford wasn’t the only team that had a good day on Saturday. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was from the boys and girls of Chicopee Comp.

Yes, boys and girls. Senior wide receiver Emily Doiron and her teammates went 4-0 in pool play, including a 26-7 victory over Lowell, before falling to Billerica in the quarterfinals.

Spurred on by her family’s interest in the sport, she took up football at the Pop Warner level and has been playing ever since.

“This is my tenth season. I’ve been playing since Pop Warner. I had family growing up with football so I just got into it,” said Doiron. “My mom said I could play.”

Dorion said her teammates have been very welcoming, and that she’s been around many of the same boys for a decade now since pop warner.

“Growing up I had the same team so they were all brothers. It’s been the same thing at Comp. My cousin was two years older than me and all the older guys took me under their wing,” said Doiron.

“I think it’s really good for our team. It’s different, but it shows that not only males can play this game. It shows that females can too,” said captain and senior quarterback Michael Whitsett.

Doiron works primarily as a slot receiver and made several nice catches on short routes through the middle of the field on Saturday.

“That’s my go-to play. I really work on footwork and I have the mental game down,” said Doiron.

Coming off a 3-8 season, expectations for Comp weren’t too high at this event, but the Colts have capitalized on the momentum of winning their final two games of 2013 with a solid offseason.

“We’ve been working together in the weight room. We had the chemistry. We executed well today,” said Doiron.

“We wanted to come together and build some chemistry. We wanted to get some experience for the season,” added Whitsett.

The highlight of the day was the big win over Lowell, a favorite of many to win the state championship, led by star linebacker and Syracuse commit Shyheim Cullen.

“We watched Lowell the first few games and saw that they were definitely a fundamental, good team. We executed that game. We were focused and got it done,” said Doiron.

“It gives us some extra confidence. They underestimated us. We just played our game and came out with the victory,” said Whitsett.

One player that really stood out on Saturday was junior wide receiver and defensive back Cam Kagan, who starred on both sides of the ball. He made several nice breakups on long passing plays for the opposition and came down with a few real nice catches on long balls.

“He did an excellent job on both sides of the ball. He’s a well-rounded player,” said Whitsett.

Doiron and her teammates hope that Saturday’s success is just the beginning of bigger and better things to come for the Colts.

“Hopefully this is a preview of our season. We’d love to put it all together and have a great fall,” said Doiron.

“We have high expectations. We have the same team as we did last year. We have a lot more experience. All the seven-on-seven tournaments have really helped us out and will make us better,” added Whitsett.

Ramming ahead: Lynn Classical, coming off a 5-6 season and having to replace a lot of starters, might not have been a team many were expecting to have an impressive showing, but the Rams had just that. Despite a first round exit in the playoffs, Classical had many positives to take away from Saturday’s tournament.

“We lost a lot of talent last year in key positions. It’s nice to see guys making plays and doing things the right way today. We just need to fill in some gaps and we should be alright,” said Classical head coach Tim Phelps.

Eli McConney did a good job making the deep throws, and showed good composure behind the center.

“This will be his first year as a varsity quarterback starting for us. He throws a really good deep ball, but it will be interesting to see how he transitions from a passing league to when there are guys rushing at him,” said Phelps.

Wide receiver Jakeel Brown made several highlight reel catches and was a player singled out by Phelps for his solid performance on Saturday.

Despite the successful day, Phelps doesn’t want to get ahead of himself.

“As coaches and players we have to make sure to keep things in perspective. It’s a passing league. We were relatively successful. It was nice making the playoffs, but it doesn’t mean much for our season,” said Classical head coach Tim Phelps.

Westfield's McLean commits to UMass

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
4:36
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Westfield High senior lefthander Kenny McLean verbally committed to UMass yesterday, he announced on his Twitter account.



McLean was efficient this spring for the Bombers, registering a 5-1 record with a 0.90 ERA, striking out 37 batters in 42 innings with a WHIP of 1.10. Westfield earned a top seed in Division 1 West, and was in contention for a berth in the inaugural MIAA Division 1A "Super Eight" Tournament.

According to MassLive.com, McLean also held an offer from Merrimack at the time of his commitment.
Xaverian senior defensive back Damion Wood has verbally committed to Coastal Carolina University for the 2015 season, he announced tonight on his Twitter account.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Wood is the third Hawk to commit to a Division 1 program in the last four months, joining defensive end Joe Gaziano (Northwestern) and offensive tackle Joe Parsons (UMass). He is one of the state's top returning safeties on a squad that returns 15 starters from last year's Division 1 state finalist run.

The Chanticleers, from the FCS ranks, were the only Division 1 program to offer Wood at the time of his commitment. UMass, Rhode Island and Central Connecticut State were among the other D1 schools showing varying degrees of interest.

"I just thought Coastal Carolina was the right place for me, and I feel very comfortable with the decision I made," Wood told ESPNBoston.com.

Wood's commitment comes with a local connection. The Chanticleers' recruiting coordinator, Cory Bailey, is a Xaverian grad and former head coach at Worcester's Assumption College.

Coastal has been very active this offseason with Massachusetts recruits. They were the first to offer Parsons, as well as Boston College-bound St. John's of Shrewsbury safety Davon Jones. They were also among the first to offer Mansfield tight end Brendan Hill, who currently holds close to a dozen offers and told ESPNBoston.com last weekend he's leaning towards UConn.

"He helped a lot," Wood said of Bailey. "He likes kids from Xaverian because he knows how hard we work. He's a big factor on why I'm going there."

Wood demonstrates some good ball instincts, and is known to lay a stick or two, as shown in his highlight tape below:

URI offers D-Y's Mike Dunn

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
1:26
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Dennis-Yarmouth head coach Paul Funk confirmed tonight to ESPNBoston.com that rising senior athlete Michael Dunn received his second Division 1 FCS offer yesterday, from the University of Rhode Island.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Dunn was a jack of all trades in 2013 for the Dolphins, who lost to Doherty in the MIAA Division 4 State Championship. He lined up at every skill position on the offensive side of the ball; defensively, he established himself as one of the state's premier cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage.

Dunn is also a cousin of former D-Y quarterback Matt Montalto, who made ESPN Boston's All-State Team in 2011 after leading the Dolphins to their first MIAA Super Bowl Championship.

New Hampshire was the first D1 program to offer Dunn, back in May. UMass, UConn, Boston College, South Florida, Colgate, Cornell, Brown and Villanova have also expressed varying degrees of interest in his services, at a variety of positions -- cornerback, safety, slot receiver, running back, and even outside linebacker.

Below is Dunn's highlight tape from 2013:

SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. -- We continue our annual "Summer Snapshot" tour tonight with the Dolphins of Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, another favorite to contend for the MIAA Division 4 state title.

Since the turn of the century under head coach Paul Funk, the Dolphins have become a small-school powerhouse, capturing the Division 2A Super Bowl title in 2011 and reaching the inaugural Division 4 state championship last December. Routinely undersized, the Dolphins like to play fast, operating a high-octane read option offense that is known to put up points in a hurry.

In 2011, it was the year of Matt Montalto, an All-State quarterback who shattered school records en route to the Super Bowl. In 2013, and again this fall, it's the era of his cousin, Mike Dunn, a true Swiss Army knife that was a threat from wherever he lined up on offense. Considered one of the better coverage corners in the state, Dunn -- who just received his second Division 1 offer today, from Rhode Island -- is fully taking the reins of quarterback this fall.

Can the Dolphins return to Gillette and take care of unfinished business? We caught up with them tonight in our photo shoot:

On Saturday, Aug. 2, some of the best male and female high school shooters in Massachusetts will gather at Hanover’s University Sports Complex for the second annual A Shot for Life Challenge. The 32 shooters will compete to determine the “Best Shooter in Massachusetts” and continue the A Shot for Life Foundation (ASFL) pledge to raise money for brain cancer research.

At last year’s event, Walpole shooting guard Scott Arsenault took home the title by hitting a remarkable 90.6 percent of his shots and overall the event raised more than $10,000. But, ASFL founder Mike Slonina is not one to rest on his laurels and he was already making plans for expansion in year two.

“The growth is awesome. It’s accelerating in the right direction really quickly,” said Slonina, a rising senior at Quinnipiac University and Catholic Memorial graduate.

In 2011, Slonina, then a senior at CM, shot for 24 hours to raise money for Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Children’s Hospital. The event was in honor of his mother, a cancer survivor.

That day, the A Shot for Life Foundation was created and now he is inviting other shooters from across the state to help further the cause by shooting for two hours. The players will move to different spots on the floor, including mid-range jumpers, free throws, and three-pointers, and will only get a 10-minute break at the midway point.

The shooter with the best percentage at the end gets to be named the top shooter in the state.

He explained, “They’re going to get hot; they’re going to get cold and I want to see who can push through that barrier of exhaustion. Two hours of shooting constantly is hard.”

Heading into year two, Slonina has added a girls’ division to the competition. He admitted that there was initially supposed to be one last year as well, but there was not enough time to find shooters as the event was being organized.

He also noted that the girls recently outshot the boys (“They crushed them!”) at a workout at University Sports, so he is expecting an impressive performance from the players that have been invited.

The other major addition to year two is a dunk contest featuring five players. Slonina said, “I’m really interested to see how that goes. We’re going to keep doing it [each year], but we’ll tweak it as we go. I’m really excited for it.”

The dunk contest will be judged by four players that were competitors in last year’s A Shot for Life Challenge (Sam Bohmiller, Nick McKenna, Tyler Gibson, and Shiraz Mumtaz). This is one of the core ideals of what Slonina calls “the A Shot for Life family.” He wants the players to feel invested in ASFL and to support it beyond their participation in the competition.

Slonina said, “This is such a personal cause for me. It is the most important thing to me by far and I tell them this at the first welcome meeting. The second they put on the A Shot for Life logo, I am in their corner 100 percent for whatever they need.”

He added, “We send out emails and the kids can say yes or no and that’s the end of the recruiting process. If I need to convince you to be a part of it then you’re not the right fit.”

One of the keys to the success of the A Shot for Life Challenge has been the support that Slonina has received in his quest to take ASFL to the next level. From the committee that chooses the shooters to Jungle Ink making the shooters’ jerseys and gear to University Sports Complex giving up its facility for the day, he is quick to give credit to those who have lent a hand.

“The ‘U’ is the reason that we’re able to function the way that we do,” he said. “They donate 100 percent of the space. The ‘U’ has been great to us and I see a long relationship with the ‘U.’”

Even though he has watched the players during the season, at shootarounds and workouts, and even promotional photo shoots, Slonina will not give any hints to who he thinks will be the next Scott Arsenault. His only admission is that the event “favors a set shooter.”

He added, “The awesome thing about this event is that it is completely impossible to pick a favorite. It’s really whoever steps up that day and that’s who’s going to take home the title.”

Already, Slonina is making plans for more expansion in year three. He wants to add a point guard skills competition and he would love to add a game between prep school stars and players from the MIAA. There is no backing down from his promise to make ASFL national because he knows that there is still a need for more money and more research.

“I get emails almost every single day from someone that has lost a loved one [to cancer] or who has cancer themselves...That’s all the motivation I need,” Slonina reflected.

“A Shot for Life is like my baby; it runs my life and I’m okay with that. This is not a project for me; this is a passion and what I think I’m meant to do in life.”

For those interested in making a donation to A Shot for Life, visit www.gofundme.com/a9mxjo.

The full roster of shooters for the second annual A Shot for Life Challenge is as follows:

Female Roster:
Kelly Fogarty #1 (Walpole)
Hayley Wardwell #22 (Cardinal Spellman)
Sam Hyslip #21 (Westford Academy)
Infiniti Thomas-Waheed #45 (Newton North)
Alana Gilmer #22 (Archbishop Williams)
Katie Nelson #4 (Bishop Feehan)
Bridget Herlihy #15 (Braintree)
Ashley Russell #10 (Braintree)
Emma Forbes #2 (Bishop Feehan)
Vanessa Edgehill #15 (Rivers)

Male roster:
Joey Downes #3 (Sandwich)
Brandon Twitty #1 (Catholic Memorial)
Mike Nelson #2 (Bishop Feehan)
Ryan Boulter #23 (Mansfield)
Matt Kelley #12 (Canton)
Tommy Mobley #12 (Newton North)
Denis Tobin #31 (Catholic Memorial)
Ryan Roach #21 (Cardinal Spellman)
Jake Foote #20 (Duxbury)
Efthim Butka #31 (North Quincy)
Ben Judson #99 (St. John’s Prep)
Paul Calobrisi #21 (Westwood)
Chris Rodgers #12 (Franklin)
Matt Hanna #22 (Catholic Memorial)
Jack Loughnane #5 (BC High)
Drew Myers #33 (Quincy)
Shaquan Murray #3 (New Mission)

Dunk Contest Roster:
Anthony Green (North Quincy)
Guillien Smith (Catholic Memorial)
Nick George (Cardinal Spellman)
Nick Lynch (Lawrence Academy)
Sidney Limage (Archbishop Williams)
Tags:

Basketball

ESPN's Scouts Inc. division has completed its evaluations and rankings for the top high school players in the 2015 class for Massachusetts. While there are no four-star recruits in this year's class, there are certainly some intriguing picks.

Milton Academy kicker Justin Yoon is ranked as the top overall player in Massachusetts, with grades of 78 and three stars. This is the first time a kicker has ever top ESPN's player rankings in Massachusetts. With range up to 60 yards and a hang-time as much as 4.4 seconds, Yoon is considered by most scouting services as one of the nation's top kickers. Scouts Inc. regards Yoon, a Notre Dame commit, as the best at his position in the nation.

Once again, Boston College has cleaned up locally. Of the top 10 recruits in Massachusetts, seven are currently committed to the Eagles. Syracuse, UConn, UMass and Northwestern also have commitments represented in the rankings.

To see the complete rankings, CLICK HERE.

Here is the current Top 10 for Massachusetts:

1. Justin Yoon | Milton Academy | K | 78 | Notre Dame
2. Aaron Monteiro | Brockton | OG | 75 | Boston College
3. Davon Jones | St. John's | S | 74 | Boston College
4. Lukas Denis | Everett | CB | 74 | Boston College
5. Joe Gaziano | Xaverian | DE | 74 | Northwestern
6. Shyheim Cullen | Lowell | OLB | 73 | Syracuse
7. Chris Garrison | Lawrence Academy | TE | 73 | Boston College
8. Chris Lindstrom | Shepherd Hill | OG | 72 | Boston College
9. Jake Burt | St. John's Prep | TE | 71 | Boston College
10. Taj-Amir Torres | Amherst | ATH | 70 | Boston College

Matignon's Alberts recognized by NIAAA

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
10:19
AM ET
Matignon High School Athletic Director Tim Alberts was recognized by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) as a Certified Athletic Administrator.

Here is the official press release from the NIAAA:



INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 24, 2014) -- The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) is pleased to announce that Tim Alberts, Director of Athletics at Matignon High School, has been recognized by this association as a Certified Athletic Administrator.

To earn this distinction, Tim has demonstrated the highest level of knowledge and expertise in the field of interscholastic athletic administration. The voluntary certification process included a thorough evaluation of the candidate's educational background, experience and professional contributions, as well as a rigorous, comprehensive written examination.

Tim is one of an elite group of interscholastic athletic administrators nationwide to attain this level of professionalism.

The NIAAA is a national professional organization consisting of all 50 state athletic administrator associations and more than 7,600 individual members. It is dedicated to promoting the professional growth of high school athletic administrators and preserving the educational nature of interscholastic athletics and the place of these programs in the secondary school curriculum.


Luke McInnis: BC 'suits my game well'

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
1:58
PM ET
It's been a good summer for Hingham native Luke McInnis.

First, the slick-skating defenseman was named to the United States national team at the Five Nations tournament in Germany. Then, last week, McInnis followed in the footsteps of his father -- former Bruin, Marty -- to the Heights, giving his verbal commitment to Boston College.

McInnis will transfer to Dexter School next year, joining Dan Donato's squad, after playing two varsity seasons at Hingham High. As a sophomore last year, McInnis put up 4-11-15 totals with the Harbormen.

We caught up with McInnis to talk about his commitment:

On his decision to go to BC: "It has run through my family starting with my dad's dad. And also the history the school of being a competitor every year."

On his father's impact on his decision: "My dad did not have a big impact. He wanted me to make the decision and go where I think I would be the best that I can be."

On how Coach York's philosophy suits his game: "I think it suits my game well he likes to have his defenseman jump up in the play but make sure to take care of their own zone as well. He likes to coach the game the way I like to play."

On what he's working on this summer: "I work out all summer with Edge Performance Systems and play in many tournaments such as the Chowder Cup and the pre-draft [tournament] with the East Coast Kings."

On moving on to Dexter next year: "I am excited for next year it will be a challenge. I will need to work harder to keep my grades up. I am excited to have a coach such as Coach [Dan] Donato and to play along side great players."

Rivers' Sullivan commits to Dartmouth

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
11:25
AM ET
Rivers School senior infielder Sean Sullivan has verbally committed to Dartmouth for the 2015-16 school year, his father told ESPNBoston.com this morning.

The 5-foot-11 Sullivan, a Hopedale resident and left-handed hitter, batted .370 with 17 RBI out of the leadoff spot this spring for the Red Wings, who finished 7-6 in the ISL. He's currently hitting .360 with the East Cobb New England Expos club on the summer circuit.

Sullivan was also considering Duke, Harvard, Columbia, Kent State and Georgetown at the time of his commitment.
Tags:

Baseball

This is the third in our annual "Impact Player" series, taking a closer look at some of the state's top players as we draw closer to the start of MIAA football season. To see past Impact Players, CLICK HERE. As always, the names of opposing high school coaches commenting are withheld.


There's lots of creative adjectives that tend to accompany Shepherd Hill offensive guard Chris Lindstrom. But however you want to dress him up -- wiry strong, country strong -- the operative theme with him is raw power.

The son of one NFL veteran and Boston University Hall of Famer, and nephew of another, Lindstrom was the first in-state offensive lineman to commit to Boston College's 2015 recruiting class last March. He's coming off a brilliant junior season last fall in which he was a finalist for ESPN Boston's Lineman of the Year award, and was named to its annual All-State Team, as the Rams earned a top seed in MIAA Division 4 Central.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder's ability can be summed up in one play:



Add 30-40 pounds to that frame, without compromising mobility, and you can understand why BC might be excited about his potential.

Athletically, Lindstrom is a unique breed. It's not uncommon for offensive linemen to dabble in basketball during the winter -- most coaches consider it resourceful for footwork development -- and Lindstrom excelled as a power forward this winter for the Rams, who reached the Division 2 West Final in March. But it's rare for said linemen to take up tennis during the spring (just envision a 300-pound high school kid lumbering back and forth on a cross-court volley).

Scariest of all, Lindstrom could end up being the lightest player this year on an offensive line that's expected to average around 270 pounds across. That, combined with the impressive speed of dual-threat quarterback Drew Jean-Guillaume, has many pegging the Rams as a favorite across the state for Division 4. There's a mound of hype behind these guys this fall, a spot they're not accustomed to, but so far Lindstrom and Co. appear to be handling it well.

Player: Chris Lindstrom
School: Shepherd Hill Regional High School
Hometown: Dudley, Mass.
Listed Height/Weight: 6-foot-5, 240 pounds
Scouts Inc. Grade: 3 stars (74 overall)
Scouts Inc. Rank: 6 - Mass.
College: Boston College
Key 2013 stat: Behind Lindstrom, Rams ballcarriers averaged 6.4 yards per carry and totaled 38 rushing touchdowns.
Workout stat: Recorded a 4.68-second 20-yard shuttle.

Highlight Film:

Opposing Coaches: "Chris I have known forever. Not only is he a great player now, but he has the upside that could lead to playing on Sundays. Not many linemen have the athletic ability to play basketball and tennis while lifting weights at the same time. He has studied the game and blocking schemes to the point where he is a coach on the field. Chris is also a very, very nice young man who BC will love having on campus. . . If you look at his technique, it’s nearly flawless for our level, and he generates a lot of power because of it. He’s not as big as Ron Brace [Burncoat High alum and former New England Patriots defensive tackle] was at the same age, but he has that same athletic ability. Combined with his size, it’s a force. . . He is a bruising run blocker with great footwork. He literally pancaked at least six or seven of our front seven players over the course of the game. Tough, tough kid, but if there was one thing he has to improve, it’s blocking in space."

Scouts Inc.: "Developmental prospect physically with very good height, but lacking in ideal bulk at this stage and will need to add more mass to his frame though does have room to support additional size. Displays adequate playing strength which should continue to improve as he physically develops. . . . Flashes ability to come off low and deliver an adequate pop and roll hips at contact and generate some movement. Doesn't consistently roll hips and can get top heavy and can fall off blocks. Can wash defenders when asked to block down. Displays adequate pull/trap ability and displays good awareness and can get a hat on second-level targets with good angles. . . . Looks to give good effort to get job done and stay with blocks and displays a physical and aggressive nature. . . . Lindstrom is a developmental prospect who needs to continue to fill out his frame as well as develop and round out his game. He will likely need at least a red-shirt and will need to work to maintain mobility as he adds needed size, but displays some tools to work with. Could be developed at multiple spots along the line, though remaining as an interior player likely his best fit."

Bottom Line: As intimidating and violent on the gridiron as he is polite and articulate off of it, you can make a good case for Lindstrom as the state's most athletic lineman. Considering the depth of this year's line class -- five Bay State linemen currently hold FBS offers or are committed -- that should say something. Lindstrom has reportedly bulked up since the end of basketball season, when he dropped down to 230, so it will be interesting to see how he looks this fall. Under head coach Chris Lindstrom Sr., the Rams have been one of the most prominent Double Wing offenses. This year, they'll have the added pleasure of a target on their back, though it's easy to see why.
St. John's of Shrewsbury rising junior lineman Sean Ragan received his first Division 1 FBS offer today, from the University of Miami (Fla.), offensive coordinator Chris Moriarty told ESPNBoston.com this afternoon.

The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Ragan started at offensive guard this season for the Pioneers, who went 9-4 with a No. 4 finish in ESPNBoston.com's final statewide poll after reaching the inaugural MIAA Division 2 State Championship. Behind Ragan, the Pioneers averaged 379 yards of offense and 34.2 points per game. He will also play some defensive line this fall.

Local FCS program Holy Cross was the first Division 1 college to extend an offer to Ragan, back in April. Ragan's father, John, played tight end at Boston College from 1987-90.

Renowned offensive line coach Art Kehoe extended the offer to Ragan, impressed with his film and his projectable frame, though it is unclear whether Ragan would fit at either guard or tackle.

The Hurricanes rarely come to the Bay State for prospects, but they have slowly begun to dabble more over the last few years.

Back in the summer of 2009, when Wakefield native Paul Gonnella was the program's director of player personnel, the Canes plucked burly tight end Andrew Tallman out of Boston College High, with plans to convert him to offensive tackle. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Tallman, who ran sprint hurdles for BC High's track and field squad, had made just two varsity starts at the time of his commitment. He lasted one redshirt season at Miami before transferring to Richmond.

In March 2010, the Canes received a commitment from four-star defensive back Albert Louis-Jean of Brockton High, but he switched his pledge to Boston College nine months later, after the Canes fired then-head coach Randy Shannon. Miami also offered two-time All-State offensive tackle John Montelus in 2012. Montelus, one of the Northeast's top 2013 line prospects, signed with Notre Dame and redshirted last fall.

Ragan demonstrates some great punch, as seen in his highlight tape below:

NORTH EASTON, Mass. -- Some leftover notes from today's Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 South Regional tournament, from the campus of Oliver Ames High School:

Hill recovering well, favoring UConn: It's been a long recovery for Mansfield two-sport star Brendan Hill, who's been reduced to gritting his teeth in frustration on the sidelines for most of the last nine months.

The 6-foot-5 Hill was an ESPN Boston All-State selection last fall for the Hornets, who captured the inaugural MIAA Division 2 State Championship at Gillette Stadium. But the tight end didn't play a snap in that game; a week and a half prior, he tore up his knee in the Hornets' Thanksgiving contest with archrival Foxborough.

Where his impact might have most been felt was on the hardwood. Hill was named MVP of the Hockomock League as a sophomore in 2012-13, and also an ESPN Boston All-Stater, as the Hornets reached the Division 1 State Final for the first time in school history. He missed his entire junior season this winter as the Hornets, a preseason favorite, fell to Catholic Memorial in a triple-overtime D1 South semifinal that was regarded as one of the state's most thrilling playoff games in years.

The good news is Hill appears to be on schedule. He was cleared to make cuts and other conditioning-related moves this summer, though he was held out of today's action. He goes back to the doctors for re-evaluation next month, and says he anticipates being cleared for contact.

"I feel perfect right now, I’d be surprised if it was anything else," Hill said.

The recruitment for Hill hasn't simmered. If anything, it's picked up. In addition to UMass and UConn, a slew of Division 1 FCS schools have extended an offer, among them New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Holy Cross, Coastal Carolina, Lafayette, Monmouth, Colgate and Villanova.

Hill says he currently favors UConn, though he says he doesn't have any timetable yet on when he'll make a commitment, or when he'll make visits.

Each school is offering Hill as a tight end, though UConn has said they may also try him at outside linebacker. Hill pulled double-duty at defensive end last fall, registering 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

"Their facilities are really great. I went and visited a couple weeks ago and their staff was awesome," Hill said of UConn. "Just talking to the different coaches . . . I really like [head coach Bob] Diaco too. It seems like he has a great program, great philosophy, I really like his philosophy. When I went on the visit, everything was great. It’s definitely my No. 1, but a lot of other schools have told me they want to wait and see how I do this fall."

Hill operated mostly as a "move" tight end last season, creating mismatches in the slot or opposite strength of the formation, for some big gains. He led the Hornets in every major receiving statistic last season, catching 53 passes for 811 yards and 10 touchdowns. With a number of talented skill players graduated from a year ago -- including quarterback Kyle Wisnieski, running back Miguel Villar-Perez, and UNH walk-on receiver Mike Hershman -- Hill hinted that he may play a little more in-line this season.

Either way, it's good to be back. There appears to finally be an end in sight to the long-drawn frustrations.

"That was obviously some of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do," Hill said. "But I think at the end of the day it made me a better person. I learned a lot throughout the whole process and stuff like that, so as tough as it was I just can’t wait to get back at it. It’s a lot more motivation."

Merit-ing attention: In our summer football preview last week, we discussed the wide cornucopia of skill sets from this year's crop of running backs, from the bullish to the diminutive to the slippery. Another name to keep an eye on is Pope John Paul II tailback Diego Meritus, who looks like he's put on some more muscle after a dedicated offseason.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Meritus looked solid at middle linebacker today as the Lions advanced to the round of 16. A number of schools from each level of college football have taken interest in the Yarmouth resident's services, from Division 1 (Brown, Harvard, Dartmouth, New Hampshire) to Division 2 (Stonehill, St. Anselm) to the traditional local NESCAC schools that dot Division 3.

With his powerful frame, Meritus proved tough to tangle with on inside runs last fall. But he also flashed some finesse at outside zone plays, accelerating quickly to the edge to stretch the defense and exploit an over-pursuit.

The Lions are licking their chops after a frustrating end to the 2013 season. Despite having the fourth-best power ranking in Division 6 South, they failed to get one of the district's eight playoff spots by virtue of league automatic qualifiers awarded other member schools. As a result the Lions -- who finished third in their league, the Catholic Central Small, disqualifying them from an automatic bid -- were one of just two teams in Eastern Mass. not to make a postseason tournament despite posting a record above .500 during the regular season.

"We feel like we have a lot to prove," Meritus said. "We want to show the MIAA that we should have been in the state tournament last year."

If they are to get their vengeance, it will be behind Mertius and quarterback Ryan Barabe, a potential Division 2 prospect who demonstrates above-average arm strength and a quick release.

"I’ve known him pretty much my whole life,' Meritus said of Barabe. "I mean, he’s such a great quarterback, and one of my best friends off the field. He can go anywhere. He’s a great quarterback."

Northeast 7v7: Natick claims South title

July, 20, 2014
Jul 20
9:15
PM ET
NORTH EASTON, Mass. -- It is his team now, and just try and take it away from him.

Having played the role of understudy the past couple of seasons, this is now Nick Olson's time. The Natick senior quarterback is up for the challenge that lies ahead in replacing record-setting signal-caller Troy Flutie, who has since taken his talents to Boston College.

Olson showed off his precision-like passing talents during Sunday's Under Armour 7-on-7 South Regional tournament at Oliver Ames, highlighted with a 20-14 victory over East Bridgewater in the title game.

[+] EnlargeOlson
Brendan Hall/ESPNQuarterback Nick Olson looked promising as he led Natick to the Northeast 7-on-7 South Regional title.
"This pumps us up a lot," said Olson. "We have a real well-rounded team and don't rely on just one person. It was really nice to see all of our team that was here working together as one."

Throughout the course of this event, Olson was able to connect regularly with all of his receivers. The Red Hawks defeated Dighton-Rehoboth, Foxboro, Dover-Sherborn and Brockton in pool play before upending Oliver Ames and Stoughton in the quarter and semifinal rounds, respectively, to reach the championship game. Their only loss of the day came against an up and coming Quincy squad. Natick will now partake in the 7-on-7 New England championship, along with East Bridgewater, on July 30 at Bishop Fenwick High School.

Olson understands with the position of quarterback at Natick comes great expectations. He says it is something he relishes and is ready for.

"You do expect a lot here, especially coming in behind Troy," he said. "But I really believe that I can perform here. I don't look at myself as Troy's backup anymore. I'm a starter now and ready to bring a state championship to our school. To be a leader of a team now and not have that backup mentality feels awesome."

Among the weapons Olson had before him was wide receiver Brian Dunlap. The senior, who has committed to Harvard University, missed the entire 2013 season due to a torn ligament in his left foot he suffered in a pre-season scrimmage against Holliston. Dunlap says he now feels 100 percent and is ready to pick up where he left off as a sophomore, catching 86 passes for 1,550 yards and 23 touchdowns.

"It's fun being out here and competing again," Dunlap said. "That is probably what I missed most during that process. I'm just trying to have a lot of fun and obviously we are focused and our mindset is going to the Super Bowl. I had a lot of support, especially from my family (father Peter, mother Carolyn, brother Mike and sister Katie). Others were supportive as well texting me or coming over to me and saying something. Little things that people don't realize how much it meant to me."

Dunlap attended all Natick games last season, acting on his own as a coach for the other Red Hawk receivers.

"I was giving guys tips of what I saw or stuff they couldn't see that I could see from the sideline," he said. "I was just trying to be a receiver's coach and help out as much as I could when I could. The last game I played in was the Super Bowl (in 2011) and just having that sour taste in my mouth that I haven't gotten to play a game in that long drives me. I still want to a player-coach too and help the younger guys who don't have much experience and give them tips that I've learned.

Dunlap blanks out the injury when he is on the field, giving zero thought that it could happen again. He considers only a hinderance if you think about it.

"I haven't really thought about it at all," said Dunlap. "If you do think about it, it will only hinder how you play. Just knowing it was a freak accident the last time I'm not worried about it. If you are playing scared to get injured then you won't play as well."

Amherst looking to change direction: Last year, as injuries mounted, Amherst endured a season worth forgetting. The Hurricanes trudged through a 1-10 season despite having one of the premier players in the state. It didn't matter though as one person could not lift this program's fortunes alone, as the team lost all three of its quarterbacks through injury a year ago.

Taj-Amir Torres returns for his season season, ready to bring Amherst to the forefront -- not only in Western Mass., but state wide. The receiver/defensive back has already made a verbal commit to Boston College, choosing the Eagles over offers from UMass and UConn.

"His determination is to be great," Hurricanes head coach David Thompson said. "He leads by example and works hard all the time. He's one of those kids who is first in the weight room and the last one to leave. You wish you had 10 more of him out there. He has earned everything he has received."

Torres will most-likely be a slot receiver or cornerback at the college level. His ability to create space on the offensive side and shutdown an opposing team's best receiver defensively has been put on display a multitude of times throughout his career. Torres says he will start thinking about college once high school is finished. As for now, the 5-foot-9 senior's thoughts remain squarely on the upcoming Hurricane season.

"This year I feel like we can win every single game," said Torres, also a prolific track and field star having won the New England championships in the 100-meter dash. "I never think we can lose. It's all about hard work, executing and discipline. For me, my teammates and coaches have pushed me harder and harder since my freshman year. They don't act like I'm anything different, they all treat me like one of the guys. No one is better than anyone else on this team."

Torres is correct in that regard. Amherst held its own during the 7-on-7 event, winning a couple of games and getting key contributions from Brandon Rivera, Jamie Carey, Mac Rogers, J.J. Sylla and Joseph Tavares.

Brockton on the rebound: When Brockton stumbled to an uncharacteristic 5-6 season a year ago, many came away shocked. It is a rarity anytime the Boxers finish below .500, and it's possible you probably won't see it again anytime soon.

Brockton head coach Peter Colombo has put the ills of a year ago away for good. He is focused on the now and expects the Boxers to be back where they belong, among the state's best. Brockton's running game was hampered throughout the past season. But that appears to be no longer the case. Keep a watchful eye on 6-foot, 215-pound tailback Kerry Raymond to alter the direction of the Boxers for the next couple of years.

Raymond, a downhill runner, is a beast and will certainly be a major obstacle for opposing teams to bring down.

"I feel we can dominate," said the soft-spoken Raymond. "I want the ball and I love running downhill. I feel we have plenty of experience here so it is just a matter of all of us working together. We are focused on going to the Super Bowl this year."

Colombo fathoms a similar belief, realizing he has a running back who with the ability to render havoc on opposing defenses.

"Physically he has always stood out and he has worked hard to get stronger," Colombo said. "He runs track so he has been able to get faster. He's a nice package and has all the tools. We're going to give him the ball and try to wear teams out. We'll compliment him (receiver) Jon Derolus and quarterback Aaron Williams. I think we'll be multi-faceted.

"Being 5-6 at Brockton is not something we come to expect and certainly we want to correct that. It wasn't like we weren't in games last year but it's a very fine line from being 5-6 and what could be a good season considering the type of schedule we play. I think that speaks to the nature on how competitive football has gotten in this state. I'm proud of the football that is being played in this state."

Dunn hoping to bring D-Y back to bowl: Mike Dunn can pretty-much play every position asked of him. Presently the Dennis-Yarmouth senior is looking to handle the quarterback duties and play strong safety on the defensive side. Dunn and the Dolphins are determined to make a second consecutive trip to the Super Bowl. Last year, D-Y put forth an incredible rally only to fall short 28-26 to Doherty in the Division 4 Super Bowl.

"You don't forget that game," Dunn said. "All of us are working hard in the weight room thinking about that game, wanting to get better and win a Super Bowl. We have a lot of strong players coming back and I feel we'll be good again."

Dunn has already received an offer from UNH but is also being look at by Boston College, UConn and UMass.

Lam igniting Quincy: Although they fell short in moving on in pool play, Quincy played exceptionally well throughout the 7-on-7. Last year the Presidents finished a respectable 7-4 in the Patriot League. This year, behind quarterback James Lam, Quincy has the potential to become a playoff-caliber program.

"A ton of us are in the weight room every day, we have a big line up front and our skill positions look solid," Lam said. "We definitely can make the playoffs this year. I know there are a lot of good teams out there, especially in our conference, but I feel like we are competing right up with them."

Lam's ability has already caught the attention from the likes of Boston College, UNH, Central Connecticut State and Colgate.
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