Some quick-hit thoughts from last night's MIAA football action:
1a. Watching the winning touchdown from Friday night’s thrilling finish between Barnstable and Bridgewater-Raynham, it’s pretty clear by now that Barnstable never ceases its flair for the dramatic.
The play call from offensive coordinator Andre Lee was a simple inside zone read play out of a trips formation. The Raiders like to run perimeter players off the line of scrimmage on zone plays, as I noted earlier this week; that was the case here, as Colby Blaize backpedaled off the line of scrimmage to set up a potential screen. B-R’s backside defensive end crashed hard towards Hayden Murphy, with linebacker Arcel Armstead scraping over the top. By rule, quarterback Kristian Lucashensky should have pulled the ball and taken off up the alley. And the way B-R sold out on the run, leaving a three-on-two matchup for Blaize on the backside, Lucashensky could have likely had a touchdown pass going that way as well.
But you should always expect the unexpected with Barnstable. Nobody seems to reel off home-run plays at a moment’s notice this fall quite like the Raiders, and that was evident once again Friday night. Regardless of how Murphy’s career ends up in Hyannis, he’ll go down in Raiders folklore as the guy who broke B-R’s back three straight years. If the Trojans are the Boston Celtics of the Old Colony League, rich with one of the state’s deepest and most storied traditions, then Hayden Murphy is most certainly their Andrew Toney.
1b. I feel as though Barnstable’s administration deserves some credit here for the way the Raiders program has taken off these last three years. Back in 2010, when Doug Crook Sr. suddenly resigned right before Thanksgiving, then-defensive coordinator Chris Whidden was elevated to interim head coach status. With the size of the school, strong youth program and the brand of athletes bred on Cape Cod, Barnstable is a Top 10 type of job. They probably could have had their pick of the litter, but the decision to go in-house and remove the interim tag on Whidden looks like a home run call in hindsight. An innovative, bright young mind like Whidden, however inexperienced he may have been, was the shot in the arm this program needed.
2. It cannot be overstated enough how crucial Alex Hilger’s return is for Natick, especially with rival Walpole on tap this next week. Troy Flutie has proven this year that he can keep this offense’s Ferrari engine running with seemingly anyone, throwing touchdown passes to five different receivers and putting up video game numbers (1,360 passing yards, 22 TD, 5 INT through six games), Hilger plays at a different speed. He is a big target at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, with a gazelle-like stride, able to take the top off the defense as a deep vertical threat. In three games this season, including last night’s win over Milton, Hilger has 23 catches for 357 yards and five touchdowns. And, to boot, he’s got a heck of a kicking leg.
3. The biggest statement win last night may have come from Arlington, which made mincemeat of Woburn last night, 40-6, in what was supposed to be a far more competitive game. And that’s even with losing senior quarterback Seth Coiley early; the Spy Ponders simply did not skip a beat. Frank Roche looked like a natural fit under center in Coiley’s absence, while Zach Thomas might be one of the more underrated linebackers in Eastern Mass. Arlington has clinched its first postseason berth since 1995, its last title as a member of the Greater Boston League, and if this trend of dominant play continues John Dubzinski should be in Coach of the Year consideration.
4. As it stands today, Catholic Memorial is in fifth place in Division 1 South at 2-4, jumping up from ninth place, and would have to visit Thanksgiving Day archrival BC High in the first round of playoffs. Just goes to show you how unpredictable this new playoff format is, from week to week.
5. I don’t think it’s any coincidence I suffered a huge popsicle headache after the MIAA unveiled the automatic qualifier and tiebreaker rules for each Eastern Mass league (If you haven’t seen it yet, CLICK HERE). There is going to be mass confusion after the regular season is completed, and I’m sure there will be more than one party dissatisfied and feeling short-ended. There are a few tweaks I’d like to make to this system, great as it has been so far, but the glaring one should be doing away with the second automatic qualifier per five-team league. Every league should get one automatic qualifier; beyond that, leave everything else to the power rankings.
I understand we probably won’t be able to have a setup like Central or Western Mass., which is going purely off of power rankings, because there is a strong sentiment in Eastern Mass to protect the sanctity of a league championship. But having one automatic qualifier certainly eliminates a good fraction of the turmoil.
6. Junior running back Robert Andrade's stat line for Mashpee last night, in its 56-38 win over rival Monomoy, read like this:
17 carries, 146 yards, 2 TD
1 reception, 29 yards, TD
1-for-1 passing, 79 yards, TD
4 kickoff returns, 229 yards, 3 TD
7 tackles, 1 INT
If you count the eight yards returned on his interception, that's a grand total of 491 all-purpose yards. I don't know what the state single-game record is for all-purpose yards by a non-quarterback, but if that isn't the best it is certainly in the Top 5 (just a guess). I don't care what level of football it is, you are simply not going to get any better than that performance this season. Period. Tip your hat to the kid.