WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Battles between Bridgewater-Raynham and Xaverian football have become rites of fall in recent memory.
Yet, that non-league rivalry has taken root in the teams’ annual passing scrimmage on the first weekend of the MIAA preseason calendar.
The Trojans and Hawks got back to work again Saturday morning at the Hawk Bowl, with Xaverian taking a slight edge in play. But after a nearly two-hour work through, both teams emerged with a lengthy list of both dos and don’ts.
“As a coach, looking down my list of notes here, there’s more negative than positive,” Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said, “but I thought there times defensively we played really well and we put good pressure on them.”
Trojans boss Dan Buron emphasized the fact that it’s very early, saying “I told the kids we made mistakes, but it’s nothing that isn’t correctable. “
Xaverian, ranked third in our preseason statewide Top 25 poll, got several big plays early from the arm of senior quarterback Austin DeCarr, including a 70-plus yard bomb for a touchdown.
The Hawks also came away with several interceptions in the early going, but B-R (No. 8 in preseason poll) settled into its offense behind incoming senior quarterback Jordan Cohen before long.
Here are a couple of observations and notes from this morning:
ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE
There was plenty of room for improvement on both sides, but both head coaches held their offensive lines in high praise.
Only once was B-R able to force DeCarr into a “sack” against Xaverian’s No. 1 offense.
Meanwhile, an experienced Trojans group held their own while facing off with a physical Hawks defensive front.
“I thought they did a good job today,” Buron said of his group. “Both teams know that have an advantage on defense because they know the pass is coming, but I thought our protection was good. They’re in good shape and we have some depth there.”
ANOTHER TO WATCH
Xaverian’s big bodies on the defensive line, as in Mo Hurst and Ray Gobbi, and linebacker Hunter Taute get plenty of attention. They’re also players opponents’ offensive coordinators will surely point out on film in the week leading up to playing the Hawks.
But what could make Xaverian dynamic on defense is the work of defensive end Elijah Jolly.
Stevenson singled out Jolly’s work on Saturday as the rangy, 6-foot-3, 215-pounder was able to establish the rush off the edge. If Jolly can keep up the pressure through the regular season, along with the Hawks solid interior defense, they could be very hard to beat.
MIXING IT UP
The Hawks have some bona fide targets in the passing game with Joe Bettinelli, Joe Denucci, D.J. Pagliuca and Greg Petrucci. But Stevenson primarily used Saturday to mixing up his personnel groups.
Denucci was also out nursing an injury, but Stevenson believes he’ll return for the Hawks’ opener at Malden Catholic.
While the scrimmage format slowed down the pace of play, Stevenson tried to turn out a bit of a new offensive identity for the Hawks, looking to go no-huddle.
Don’t fret though, the Hawks’ “500 pound” backfield combo of Hurst and Taute will see their time, as well.
“We have some players who can still run the ball, too,” Stevenson said. “We’ll put them to use.”
The Trojans will be breaking in a lot of skill players this preseason with the graduation of quarterback Brad Deluliis and running backs Nick Schlatz and Branden Morin.
Cohen exhibited nice touch on several of his passes out of B-R’s bread-and-butter QB Waggle play.
While the running game was not featured, look for junior tailback Arcel Armstead to take on a bulk of the carries.
“They’re good,” Buron said of his running backs, “we just don’t have any game experience.”