Tuesday, September 25, 2012
What We Learned: Week 3
RIGHT NOW, QURON WRIGHT IS WITHOUT PEER At least, statistically speaking. In a blowout of Arlington Catholic last weekend, the Holy Name senior tailback needed just five carries to rack up 216 yards and three touchdowns. Two weekends ago in another blowout win, this one over Westborough, Wright carried six times for 160 yards and three scores. So after garnering a Yeoman's workload in a Week 1 shootout loss to parochial rival St. John's of Shrewsbury (28 carries, 282 yards, 4 TD), Wright's stat line looks like this: 39 carries, 658 yards, 10 touchdowns, for a ridiculous average of 16.5 yards a carry.
Forget the opponents. That, folks, is just insane. Especially considering the Lilliputian scatback's generously-listed size of 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, and the Naps' brutal double wing scheme that predicates itself on an intense measure of physicality at the point of attack.
But sometimes, it's the little guys that are the most durable -- just ask Ray Rice or Darren Sproles. And perhaps even moreso, Wright has the benefit of a particularly huge offensive line. Basit Dennis (6-foot-2, 290 pounds) gets the most attention on account of being the lone senior, but from tackle to tackle this is a unit that moves people off the ball, aided by junior Joe Fitton (6-foot, 245 pounds), freshman Liam Perry (5-8, 235) and sophomores Antonio Paulino (6-0, 255) and Nick Geneva (6-4, 310). Throw in the one-inch splits and convoy-style sweeps, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Last year, we were spoiled with unheard-of performances by running backs, between Melquawn Pinkney's 2,900 rushing yards for Putnam, Jared Taylor's 308 yards at Gillette Stadium for Mashpee, and Armani Reeves averaging a touchdown almost every three touches for Catholic Memorial. It's still a bit premature to stack Wright up against any of these guys just yet, but none of them have averaged 16.5 yards a carry over a full season.
As it stands, Wright is on pace to break his school's record for career rushing yards, held by current Philadelphia Eagles fullback Emil Igwenagu. If Wright keeps it up at this clip, though, he could be in for a lot more accolades.
CAN ANYONE SCORE ON READING? Through the first three weeks of the season, No. 6 Reading has kept its opponents' offenses pin-drop quiet. But allow Jaddiel Polanco to break the silence with some self-awareness.
"Hey @BHallESPN just want to say I think I'm the only person to score on Reading #4 #LawrenceHigh #JustSaying", the Lawrence High senior cornerback wrote to ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Brendan Hall in a tweet early Monday evening.
There has been some stout defense demonstrated by some of the state's top teams in the first month of the season. Nashoba, Beverly, and Everett come to mind so far, either locking up in crucial moments or -- in the case of the former two -- never letting the opponent get out of first gear. But nothing compares to what Reading is doing right now. Since Polanco's safety in the third quarter of Reading's 46-2 blowout of the aforementioned Lancers, the Rockets have pitched nine straight quarters of shutout football, outscoring the opposition 80-2 so far in 2012. That includes a very nice 12-0 shutout of Brockton on the Rockets' home turf.
We can credit a lot of things for the stifling start to Reading's season, as it looks to win a sixth straight outright Middlesex League title. But most importantly, it starts at the line of scrimmage, and few players in the state have been as dominant in the interior as senior Matt Comerford. The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has surprising agility for a player his size (blame his skills in net as a lacrosse goalie, if you must), and that trait has been contagious.
Where does it go from here? The Rockets figure to have an interesting time slowing Burlington running back Marcus Odiah when they meet the Red Devils on October 5. Last year's 32-27 Reading win will surely be on Burlington's minds, as Odiah quietly crossed the 100-yard plateau but was held in check for good stretches of the game.
TAKING OFF, OR GROUNDED AGAIN? The injury woes that have beset BC High in the early season are on par with a Greek tragedy, or at least a comedy of errors on par with NFL replacement referees. A seemingly impossible string of seven starters missed BC High's Week 2 loss to North Attleborough.
While the Eagles were fortunate to get a few bodies back for Friday night's non-league matchup with Dartmouth, including run-stuffing defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, they suffered yet another potential big blow. In the midst of running away with a 31-0 win over the Indians, BC High saw starting running back Brandon Owens go down with a high ankle injury. While the Eagles got into the win column on the season, the road doesn't get easier with a trip to New Jersey and St. Peter’s Prep.
But, as Eagles head coach Joe Gaff sees it, things are only getting better.
Gaff cited last year’s game against St. Peter’s as a formative experience in the Eagles eventual run to a Division 1 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl title. After Friday’s win, Gaff had positive memory of last year’s encounter, despite a loss. Having to play against the speed of the New Jersey powerhouse (ask Xaverian about competition in the Garden State), Gaff said the Eagles were better prepared to take on their Catholic Conference and playoff schedule.
Plus, there’s another pot of gold coming in Week 5 for BC High – a bye.
“That will be an important week for us,” Gaff said, “it’ll give us a chance to get some bodies back hopefully and let us regroup a little bit.”
The Eagles have done their best plugging holes in the interim. Dan Collins has effectively taken the reins of the offense from Brendan Craven in his absence and Skyler Evans showed good instincts running the ball during the second half at Dartmouth, filling in for Owens.