WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Sean Mayo arrived at Holliston High School at approximately 3:45 p.m., warmed up with his Panther teammates, hopped on the team bus and arrived at Westwood High just in time to see Norton's Brendan Curtin haul in a 40-yard touchdown pass to go up 12-0 on Medway in the first half of this Tri-Valley League first-round playoff -- "Saw a couple plays here and there, but nothing big," the senior quarterback shrugged.
But with the Mustangs mounting a comeback, and Mayo (11 of 16 passing, 156 yards, two total touchdowns) making yet another up-tempo Panthers blitzkrieg look effortless, he now gets his dream matchup in next week's TVL Finals against the lone team to take down Holliston this season.
"Everything we asked for we got," Mayo smiled. "We've got to take advantage of this, though. We can't take anything for granted, and we've got to have the best week of practice we've had all season, and just get back on track and get the win."
The Panthers (7-1) found themselves repeatedly marching downfield in the same surgical, no-huddle spread fashion that had them coming into this game averaging nearly 42 points per game. With Mayo directing the offense, and speedsters Kevin Curry (130 all-purpose yards) and junior Jake Frechette (89, four total touchdowns) threatening through the air and ground, they racked up 340 yards of offense on their archrivals.
Perhaps most impressive, though, was the execution of Holliston's defense. The Wolverines were held to 83 yards of offense in the first half, and leading rusher Sean Amaru mustered just 76 yards on 23 carries, well below what he's accustomed to rushing for. The back seven, led by Curry at linebacker and Dan Barone and Dan Miller in the secondary, swarmed on angle pursuit and sealed off the outside edge quickly for most of the night.
"Defensively, I'll tell you what, we are gelling at the right time," head coach Todd Kiley said. "And it's not just one or two guys. It's all 11. We feel very good about where our defense is at this point."
The Panthers' night was kick-started by a fortunate bounce in their favor, midway through the first quarter. Bryant-bound senior tight end Ryan Barrett fell on a muffed Westwood punt return at the Wolverines' 25 yard line, and after hauling in a 15-yard pass from Mayo a play later, Mayo would punch it in three plays later on a seven-yard scramble up the left hash marks.
Westwood drove all the way to the Panthers' 35 on the ensuing drive. But on fourth down, and the 12th play of the drive, a fumbled snap was landed on by Holliston's Alex Greenberg to give the Panthers possession again. They wasted little time scoring again, following up a 19-yard Mayo shovel pass to Frechette with a 33-yard Curry run that gave them first and 10 at the Westwood 11. That's when the Panthers went to their "war" package, a tight-split double-wing formation run exclusively in the red zone. Two plays later, Frechette plowed in from three yards out for his first of four scores on the night.
The Panthers followed this pattern on their next two scores, both Frechette runs out of the "war" package, before closing out the scoring with a 35-yard pass from Mayo to Frechette midway through the third to essentially seal it.
"When you have Kevin and Jake in the backfield, it's really tough for defenses to key on one guy," Mayo said. "But if you key on Kevin, like when we go to our 'war' set, we've got Jake over there too. And those two are great athletes, some of the best athletes on our team, and we're just happy to have them both in full stride."
And, barring injury this week in practice, the Mustangs will get their first glimpse of Frechette next Saturday -- the running back was out with injury in the Mustangs' 28-16 win over Holliston back on Oct. 1. That's just one of the many things both teams are looking forward to these next seven days.
"We're going to need to play our A-game," Kiley said. "The kids know that, we'll have a great week of practice. There's going to be some adjustments made; the beauty of this from a coaching standpoint, we love it. It's a little bit more of a chess match, we're going to make our adjustments, they're going to make their adjustments, and that's what makes it exciting."
HOLLISTON 35, WESTWOOD 0
WES 0 0 0 0 --- 0
HOL 7 14 14 0 --- 35
H - Sean Mayo 7 run (Christian Baker kick) 4:57
H - Jake Frechette 3 run (Baker kick) 6:55
H - Frechette 9 run (Baker kick) 3:16
H - Frechette 5 run (Baker kick) 9:32
H - Frechette 35 pass from Mayo (Baker kick) 5:49