Boston High School: A.J. King

D1 final: Central Catholic 34, Xaverian 17

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
8:11
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns to lead Central Catholic to its third Super Bowl title and first since 1998. The Raiders held off Xaverian, 34-17, in the Division I championship game at Gillette Stadium.

Central Catholic head coach Chuck Adamopoulos noted that his team has the belief that it can beat anyone in the state and showed that it can by beating Everett in the DI North final and then Xaverian on Saturday.

“They just keep pulling out games and they’ve gotten better as the year has gone on,” explained Adamopoulos. “They have a lot of confidence and they believe that they can play with anyone. We had to beat two really good programs to win this; two of the marquee programs in the state.”

The Raiders jumped out to a great start, scoring on their first two possessions. Junior quarterback Michael Milano (6 of 13, 81 yards, 2 TD) capped a 10-play, 64-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Manning.

Central Catholic forced a second three and out on the next Hawks possession and Blades Shields raced into the backfield to block the punt, which set up the Raiders at the Xaverian 24. Two plays later, Drummond-Mayrie scored the first of his touchdowns on an eight-yard run.

“That was huge … at that point it was definitely a huge factor to getting that two touchdown lead,” said Adamopoulos. “Letting us play with the lead was big.”

Xaverian’s offense kicked into gear on its next possession with an 11-play, 71-yard drive that ended in a Noah Sorrento touchdown that made it 13-7, but the Raiders did not allow the Hawks to have momentum for long.

Drummond-Mayrie, a University of New Hampshire-commit, took off on a 52-yard touchdown run that restored a two-score lead for Central Catholic.

“There was a huge hole and then I just saw the corner come up one-on-one and I knew if I made a move that I would get tackled,” described the senior. “I got yelled at earlier this season for putting a move on, so I just ran him over and looked at the screen to see how close they were and just sprinted.”

His head coach admitted that he is going to miss the running back both on the field as a presence in the locker room.

“He’s one of my favorite kids that I’ve ever coached,” remarked Adamopoulos. “I said to him that this was going to be his day and he responded on offense, on defense…UNH is getting a great player.”

A Joe Gaziano 30-yard field goal made the score 20-10 at the half. Xaverian then made a stop on the Raiders opening possession, but a Hawks player unnecessarily tried to cover the punt and the Raiders grabbed the loose ball to regain possession at the Xaverian 32. Three snaps later, Drummond-Mayrie scored again and made it 27-10.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Xaverian looked like it may have some more magic like it had in the second half comeback against Attleboro in the semifinal. An interception by D’Aundre Holmes gave the Hawks the ball at the Raiders 22. On the next play, Jake Farrell (6-19, 80 yards, 10 carries for 47 yards) hit A.J. King for a touchdown to bring them back within 10 points.

Xaverian would get the ball back, but the Raiders defense made several key plays to force another three and out. The Hawks offense, playing without stars D.J. Sperzel and Shayne Kaminski, could not sustain drives and struggled against the hard-hitting Raiders.

“Well, I would’ve liked to have an offensive turnaround right there,” said Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson about the fourth quarter sequence. “The clock was kind of against us and, you know, we give them credit. They made the plays on both sides of the ball when they needed to.”

He added, “I thought they were a good football team; they outplayed us. I congratulate them; they deserved to win the game tonight. We had a hard time matching up with them all over the board.”

Central Catholic wrapped up the victory with a highlight-reel catch by senior wide receiver Cody Demers for a 19-yard touchdown with just 2:33 remaining.

Drummond-Mayrie noted, “We’re kind of used to it but we kind of like it - being the underdog, coming from behind, picking everybody off one-by-one and it just makes the win that much better.”

Recap: Xaverian 28, St. John's Prep 22

November, 28, 2013
11/28/13
3:50
PM ET
DANVERS, Mass. -- Xaverian fought through adversity on Thanksgiving Day to hold off a fierce upset bid by Catholic Conference rival St. John’s Prep. The Hawks lost four players, including star running back Shayne Kaminski to injury in the first half, but prevailed in the second half for a 28-22 victory over the Eagles, securing the Catholic Conference title.

“The Prep came out hard like we expected them to. It was just a matter of who wanted it more and today we wanted it more,” said Xaverian junior quarterback Jake Farrell.

Kaminski got the Hawks off on the right foot as the senior jolted up the sideline for a 90-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage for the Hawks. The score stood 6-0 after a failed extra point attempt.

“The [second] play of the game we had a big play from Shayne [Kaminski],” Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said. “He went 90 yards for a touchdown and then after that things went a little south for us in terms of injuries. We lost some key guys early on in Shayne, Kenny [Kern] and John Dean, and were playing with a lot of subs out there.”

The tide quickly turned as injuries mounted for Stevenson’s team. After forcing a St. John’s fumble on the goal line, Xaverian fumbled the ball one play later, leading to a safety.

Michael Fawehinmi returned the ensuing free kick 75 yards for a touchdown and all the momentum had swung the way of the Eagles. St. John’s running back Cody Harwood broke free for a 46-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to extend the Eagles lead to 10.

“Whenever something bad happens, it just tumbles out of control,” said Farrell. “They had us on our heels. It was a matter of whether we could pick ourselves back up.”

Pick themselves up they did. The turning point in the game was a 60-yard touchdown bomb from Farrell to Damion Wood to cut the St. John’s Prep lead to three heading to halftime. It allowed the Hawks to gain some confidence and get back in the game before the second half.

“We’ve been trying to get that going for a couple weeks now,” said Farrell. “[Wood] is a great athlete and we finally got him going. I just threw it up there and he jumped up, hauled it down and took it in.”

Billy Leroux gave the visitors the 20-16 lead after the break with a five-yard score on the ground, but Jim O’Leary’s team answered back.

Eagles quarterback Mike Geaslen capped off a nice drive by rolling out to the right and finding Jack Lambert for the touchdown. The Eagles failed to convert the extra point, but the Prep had taken the 22-20 lead with just over two minutes to play in the game.

Xaverian would not be deterred as Farrell led his team down the field with a beautiful series. The junior signal-caller was a perfect 5-for-5 on the drive. His touchdown pass to A.J. King with just 28 seconds left gave the Hawks a 28-22 lead after a successful two-point conversion.

“Everyone was counting on me to get it done and I didn’t want to let my teammates down and they didn’t want to let me down. It was a group effort. The offensive line – that last drive was a credit to them. They were amazing,” said Farrell of the game-winning march down the field.

“At the end of the game we were playing with our fifth, sixth and seventh linebackers, but they gave us enough to win the football game,” Stevenson said. “I guess that’s what being a good team is all about. That was a great win for us. I’m really proud of our guys overcoming adversity, sticking with it and bringing the win home for us.”

Despite the loss O’Leary recognized what a great game it was: “It was back and forth. It was one of the classic games we have with Xaverian every year. It’s why people come. It was a very physical game today.”

The season is over for St. John’s Prep, but Xaverian has one last game against Central Catholic at Gillette Stadium to decide the Division 1 state title.

“We just have to work with what we have,” Farrell said. “Obviously, we hope that Shayne [Kaminski] and Kenny get better. They might be back or they might not, but we had a bunch of guys step up today and play really well. We got to see what we can do with that.”

Recap: No. 4 Xaverian 19, No. 11 BC High 0

October, 25, 2013
10/25/13
11:57
PM ET
BOSTON - Before Kenny Kern ever played a game for the No. 4 Xaverian football team, and before he was even born, the school was already a big part of his family as both his dad graduated from there.

On Friday night, he added a page of his own to the family history, powering the Hawks to an impressive 19-0 win over No. 11 BC High, clinching the Catholic Conference and likely sealing the top seed for the Division 1 South playoffs in the process.

The junior tailback paced the offense, rushing 16 times for 91 yards and notching the first score of the game for the Hawks (6-1). Kern also scooped up a fumble deep in Eagles’ territory in the fourth quarter to set up Shayne Kaminski’s first touchdown.

“Kenny’s a great player right now and gives a lot to us,” said Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson. “Not only is he a good running back, a good blocker, a good linebacker, he really bleeds gold and blue. His dad went to Xaverian, as did some of his uncles. Kenny is a really special player.”

It was the Eagles (4-3) though who looked like they might steal the show early on. After receiving the opening kick, BC High picked up three first downs and marched into the red zone.

When a third down pass slipped the hands of a wide-open Eagles wideout, BC High was forced to try a 33-yard field goal. Jack O’Brien’s drive fell just short and the Hawks took over.

"The biggest thing was missed chances," said Eagles coach Joe Gaff. "We move down the field on the first drive and drop a pass that probably goes for a touch down then we miss a field goal, you can't drop those.

"We had a couple other chances later on, but in all those key spots we just shot ourselves in the foot."

Xaverian’s defense seemed to flip a switch going forward, completely bottling up the Eagles offense. They allowed just another four yards of offense in the first half, held BC to just 68 total yards in the game and didn’t surrender another first down until the fourth quarter.

“A lot of it was just on the field and in the huddle,” Kern said. “Our captains, Shayne Kaminski was pumping us up and A.J. King was pumping us up. In the huddle, we just told each other, ‘They planted us for three first downs. We have to pick it up.’ And we did.”

It took the offense a little bit longer to figure things out, but it was Kern who kick-started thing for the Hawks in the second quarter.

After a BC High punt resulted in Xaverian starting at the 50-yard line, Kern took a handoff up the middle for three yards on the first play. The next play, he ripped off a dive right up the gut for 16 yards. One play later, Kern was slicing through the middle again, this time going 31 yards to paydirt.

“We knew against the four-four, if we got our blocks the middle would be open and we just got it done,” Kern said. “If you do a play and it goes for big, you want to do it again. It was coach’s call, and it was a great call.”

Kaminski made it 12-0 with 9:19 to go in the game plowed into the end zone from two yards out after Kern scooped up a fumble and rumbled down to the 10-yard line.

On the first play following the kickoff, BC High quarterback Sean Holleran broke off a 25-yard run up the middle, but fumbled the ball when he was hit from behind at the end of the play. A slew of Hawks collapsed on the ball and put them back on the offensive.

They ran more than five minutes off the clock over the next nine plays before Kaminski (12 carries, 77 yards) plunged in once again, this time from three yards out, to seal the win.

A quick three-and-out for the Eagles resulted in a punt, and Xaverian was able to run out the clock and complete the shutout of their rival.

“In a game like this, the defense was big for us all night long,” said Stevenson. "There was a few times where the offense put them in tough situations and they came through every time and made the play we needed them to. It really was a great defensive effort. Coming in, everyone was talking about the BC High defense and how great they were, but we're not too bad ourselves."

Recap: No. 5 Xaverian 43, CM 7

October, 5, 2013
10/05/13
11:31
PM ET


WESTWOOD, Mass. – It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.

And one week after a rough finish in a loss at Barnstable, No. 5 Xaverian learned its lesson heading into Saturday’s Catholic Conference matchup with Catholic Memorial.

The Hawks hadn’t played their finest half against the Knights and held just a slim three-point lead (10-7) at the intermission. But Xaverian showed up for the second half, outscoring the Knights 33-0 en route to a 43-7 win.

Xaverian (3-1, 1-0) pounded the ball in the second half behind a trio of running backs in Shayne Kaminski, Kenny Kern and Noah Sorrento. Meanwhile, the Hawks defense produced points as well, as junior defensive back Damion Wood returned two interceptions for touchdowns, turning a once competitive struggle into a manhandling.

“We weren’t really making the plays we needed to, we hurt ourselves a little bit there,” Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said of his team in the first half. “We took some bad penalties.”

In fact, the Hawks were so generous they accounted for three of CM’s five first downs in the first half, with one leading up to the Knights’ lone touchdown of the day – a 15-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Claflin to Kevin Bletzer roughly a minute before the break.

Xaverian’s defense would be much more stingy in the second half.

After the Hawks extended their lead to 23-7 following a 1-yard touchdown run by Kaminski (11 carries, 79 yards), Wood collected his first pick-six with a 90-yard return with 22 seconds remaining the third quarter.

On the ensuing Knights possession, Ernest Simon collected the second of three Hawks interceptions during the half. That set up a six-play touchdown drive, culminating in a 4-yard touchdown by Sorrento (15 carries, 66 yards).

CM (1-3, 0-1) then committed its third straight turnover with Wood taking a 67-yard interception to the house, providing Xaverian with its final margin of victory.

“I just saw an opportunity and I took it,” Wood said of his pair of scores.

Meanwhile, the Knights were left asking, what went so very wrong?

“Xaverian’s a good football team, they can score without us helping them,” CM head coach Alex Campea said. “I think they just decided that they were going to wear us down and were kind of pounding us [in the second half].”

Next man up: Xaverian’s ball-hawking secondary was a major factor Saturday, forcing three turnovers. But what’s most surprising is how the group came together so quickly, especially considering the loss of senior captain D.J. Sperzel for the foreseeable future.

“ D.J. being out, that’s a big loss for us,” Wood said postgame. “But we practiced well, got all aspects together … everything’s fine with our defense even though we’re missing [Sperzel].”

Sperzel, who was lost to injury during the Hawks’ loss to Barnstable last week, had quarterbacked the secondary along with fellow captain and corner A.J. King (36-yard TD reception in the third quarter). But the group can still be a strength for the Hawks, with Wood making such a bold statement. Along with sophomore Peter Thorbahn, who slotted into Sperzel’s spot for most of Saturday’s contest, and freshman standout Mekhi Henderson, the newly formulated group has come together quickly.

“I think they’re good young players, but they’re young,” Stevenson said. “So you never know what you’re going to get.”

Give it up for the Big Man: The Hawks held their first-half lead thanks to senior offensive lineman Jeff Perez.

Xaverian opened scoring at 3:42 of the first quarter, when the 6-foot-1, 220-pound guard fell on a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, pulling his best impression of Logan Mankins in the 2006 AFC Championship Game. After Kern ran up the middle for 24 yards on a fullback draw, he was stripped from behind. The loose ball bounded into the end zone, and Perez, who was trailing the play, alertly fell on the ball for the score.

ESPN Boston Week 5 football picks

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
2:53
PM ET
No. 14 PLYMOUTH SOUTH (3-0) at DENNIS-YARMOUTH (1-2), Friday 6 p.m.

Scott Barboza: I think Dylan Oxsen could play on one leg, with arm tied behind his back and the Panthers will be just fine. Plymouth South, 14-7.

Brendan Hall: I think South’s archrival, Plymouth North, laid out a good game plan for shutting down D-Y after the Dolphins looked like world-beaters in Week 1. Like their cross-town enemies to the North, much of South’s running game is predicated on power and counter sets; spliced in with all of the misdirection element the pistol offense brings, and I think the Panthers can stay in control here. Plymouth South, 24-14.

No. 7 BROCKTON (2-1) at BC HIGH (1-2), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: I like the Boxers’ chances at controlling the line of scrimmage behind Aaron Monteiro and Co. Brockton, 30-21.

Hall: Given BC High’s difficulties defending the pass, but stout ability at defending the run (for the most part), the Eagles can pull off the upset here as long as they stay disciplined. The bye week has been pretty kind to teams looking to re-charge the batteries or clean up some deficiencies – just look at what it did for Everett, Barnstable and Springfield Central. BC High, 18-16.

LONGMEADOW (2-1) at No. 3 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (2-1), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: The Lancers are wont to play ball-control and keep the Golden Eagles’ offense off the field; it’s just a matter of whether they can keep pace with them. Central, 21-14.

Hall: I think the Lancers end Central’s shutout streak, but the Golden Eagles have made a habit lately of dispatching opponents early in the game. This is the premier non-Thanksgiving rivalry in Western Mass. right now, but if the Lancers get into a track meet with these guys this could get untracked. Central, 35-21.

No. 11 ST. JOHN’S OF SHREWSBURY (2-1) at NASHOBA (3-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Credit to the Chieftains who simply reload year after year, but the streak comes to a halt at No. 29. St. John’s, 34-28.

Hall: I have a feeling this could be a high-scoring game, with the amount of possessions St. John’s offense surrenders to the opposition. Andrew Smiley and Co. do just enough to stay ahead of the Chieftains, and end their state-best 29-game win streak, but this Wing-T offense for Nashoba is fluid. Helps that the coaching staff went from one Tucker to another this past offseason – continuity is pivotal. St. John’s, 40-30.

HAVERHILL (2-1) at METHUEN (4-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Hillies RB Ian Kessel can play foil, but the Rangers keep sailing along. Methuen, 28-20.

Hall: Just because it’s the MVC, let’s set the over/under at 65 total points scored in this one. Haverhill, 35-30.

BISHOP FENWICK (3-0) at No. 21 CARDINAL SPELLMAN (3-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: The Crusaders do not have an answer for Rory Donovan. Spellman, 32-27.

Hall: Talk about adapting to your talent. It wasn’t too long ago the Crusaders’ leading receiver caught 106 passes. Now, they have a bull in the backfield by the name of Rufus Rushins, and they are unleashing him thoroughly. Fenwick, 28-17.

No. 1 MANSFIELD (3-0) at No. 23 ATTLEBORO (3-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: If the Blue Bombardiers can force turnovers the way they did last week against Franklin, the Hornets could be in for a real fight. But otherwise … Ding, dong, the curse is dead. Mansfield, 42-38.

Hall: Not sure if my brain can process the spectre of having a sixth straight week with a new No. 1. Mansfield, 20-13.

No. 12 DUXBURY (2-1) at HINGHAM (2-1), Friday 7 p.m. (At Scituate H.S.)

Barboza: This was supposed to be the Harbormen’s night to shine, with a new field, new attitude and all. But the karma just sides with the Dragons somehow. Duxbury, 13-10.

Hall: Every year we keep saying the same narrative: “The Dragons still have one more good run in them”. At some point, we’re all going to have to accept the fact that these guys just re-load every year. Still, this has always been a difficult matchup for the Dragons. Duxbury, 10-7.

CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (1-2) at No. 5 XAVERIAN (2-1), Saturday 2:15 p.m.

Barboza: Think the bounce-back factor is in play here, after the Hawks saw their No. 1 ranking go up in smokes at Barnstable. A.J. King will come in even greater focus in Xaverian’s attack with the loss of D.J. Sperzel. Xaverian, 34-21.

Hall: Even with the loss to D.J. Sperzel, the Hawks have more than enough in the tank to stay ahead of CM in this one. Xaverian, 24-10.

No. 25 WALPOLE (2-1) at WELLESLEY (1-2), Saturday 2:30 p.m.

Barboza: I think the Rebels’ defense is better suited to shutting down Wellesley’s offense, as opposed to Needham a few weeks ago. Walpole, 16-10.

Hall: Upset City, part 2. We saw what a team with spread packages like Needham can do to the Walpole defense, and the Rebels are going to have their work cut out for them trying to solve Wellesley quarterback John Fadule. Like Chris Sarni last year, Fadule is a gunslinger who is as unpredictable as he is creative. Good luck, gents. Wellesley, 31-28.

LAWRENCE ACADEMY (1-1) at MILTON ACADEMY (2-0), Saturday 3:30 p.m.

Barboza: Justin Yoon comes in clutch with the last-minute field goal. It’s formulaic but effective. Milton Academy, 23-20.

Hall: Good start to the season for Milton, but I like LA’s athletes on the perimeter a little bit more. LA, 20-7.

GOVERNOR’S ACADEMY (2-0) at ST. SEBASTIAN’S (1-1), Saturday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Akin to Nashoba, the streak ends this week. St. Seb’s, 14-10.

Hall: Arrows are looking mighty impressive after that commanding win over Roxbury Latin, but the Governors just continue to cruise along. Will they ever lose again? There is some voodoo going on up there in Byfield. Govs, 27-17.

GAME OF THE WEEK – HOLLISTON (4-0) at No. 20 WESTWOOD (2-1), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Wolverines head coach Ed Mantie really likes his linebacking corps, led by Scott McManus, this year. They’re the difference. Westwood, 31-27.

Hall: Zach Elkinson is averaging a touchdown for every 2.8 touches, and 21.3 yards every time he gets the ball. That’s just insane, I don’t care who the opponents have been. Holliston, 28-24.

Last Week’s Picks:
Barboza: 8-4 (31-16 overall)

Hall: 9-3 (31-16 overall)

Recap: Barnstable 15, No. 1 Xaverian 14

September, 28, 2013
9/28/13
12:58
AM ET


HYANNIS, Mass. – Trailing 14-12 to No. 1 Xaverian and facing a fourth-and-5 from the Hawks 15-yard line with less than two minutes to go, Chris Whidden had a choice: try to pick up the first down or trot out his place kicker for a 32-yard field goal try.

Barnstable place kicker Dereck Pacheco had already missed an extra point and a 28 yard attempt. And so the Red Raiders head coach called timeout and brought on his field goal unit.

Seconds later, the Red Raider faithful erupted as the 32-yard field goal split the uprights and proved to be the game winner in an emotional 15-14 comeback victory over No. 1 Xaverian, the fourth consecutive week that the top ranked team has been upset.

“Kicking to me, I learned from last year, is all about confidence,” said Pacheco. “You have to have confidence in yourself, just clear your mind.“

Barnstable quarterback Kristian Lucashensky had the team on his back in the fourth quarter, throwing for 90 of his 138 yards in the final period.

“This win has changed the morale of the team completely,” said Whidden. “Going back to BC High, once the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown our morale was down. We have seen a change in what this team is about and you can see that in the last seven and a half quarters.”

Xaverian (2-1) scored with 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter after A.J. King came down with a 33-yard pass from Jake Ferrell (4 of 9, 99 yards), setting up a 5-yard touchdown run from senior Shayne Kaminski, giving the Hawks a 14-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But it was all Hayden Murphy (13 rushes, 51 yards; 4 catches, 50 yards) and Lucashensky after that.

Barnstable answered with a 10-play 69-yard drive that was capped off with an athletic 15-yard touchdown catch from Derek Estes. Lucashensky fumbled on the two point conversion and the score remained 14-12 with 6:38 remaining.

“With Kristian, he’s so good with putting the ball in a spot where it going to be caught or incomplete,” said Whidden. “Estes went up and made a play.”

The Red Raiders defense rose to the occasion and forced the Hawks to punt, giving Barnstable the ball at their own 39 with 2:21 left to play.

Two plays later, Lucashensky hit senior Colby Blaze down the right sideline for a 39-yard gain down to the Xaverian 15-yard line. Barnstable picked up five yards before calling on Pacheco for the game winning field goal.

Meanwhile, Kaminski was a force all game, rushing for a game-high 135 yards on 20 carries. He drew first blood with 4:16 remaining in the second quarter when he was on the receiving end of a 54-yard screen pass.

The Hawks got a scare midway though the fourth quarter when Kaminski stayed down after a three-yard rush. Kaminski limped off the field under his own power but the following two plays resulted in fumbles and the drive ended with a punt.

The turning point: With 1:28 remaining in the second quarter and already up 7-0, the Hawks A.J. King fair caught a punt at his own 19-yard line. On the next play, Kaminski coughed up the football and the Red Raiders recovered at the 25-yard line.

On the next play, Lucashensky found Colby Blaze on a deep slant across the middle so give the Raiders some life heading into the half.

“It swung momentum going into halftime,” said Whidden. “Our halftime was full of life and the kids were excited.

While Xaverian had the only scoring in the third quarter, the Raiders defense had a jump in their step. On a punt midway through the third quarter, Junior Clyde Perry broke through the line and partially blocked a punt.

The defense forced two fumbles in the fourth quarter and while they didn’t recover, stalled out the Hawks offense. Xaverian only mustered up 26 yard off offense in the final quarter (266 in first three quarters), compared to 114 from the Red Raiders.

The Hawks were uncharacteristically sloppy all game. Xaverian had two turnovers and put the ball on the ground three times. They were also called for six penalties for 50 yards, including a big pass interference call on the opening drive and a huge personal foul on the Raiders first possession of the fourth quarter.

The final drive: With the opportunity to knock off the top team in the state for the second year in a row (Everett, 2012), Lucashensky took the field like it was any other drive.

When he stepped into the huddle trailing 14-12 on his own 39-yard line and 2:21 to play he calmly addressed his teammates.

“On the first play, I came to the huddle and said ‘listen, we got to win this game, got to win this game,” said Lucashensky. “They all looked me in the eye and shook their heads.”

Lucashensky called his own number on the first play, picking up two yards. On second and 8, he found Blaze who had his man beat for a 39 -yard gain, already in field goal range.

“We had run that earlier with Blaze and got him over the top, said Lucashensky. “So we knew if we needed a big play we’d come back to it. And we went over the top of the safety and I rolled out and hit him. He was wide open.”

Barnstable went conservative for the next three plays. Hayden Murphy rushed up the middle for two, an incomplete screen pass and Murphy to the left for three set up fourth and 5.

“We ran the toss because he likes to kick from the left hash,” said Whidden. “We ran the toss and if he (Murphy) broke he broke it if not were on the left hash for him to kick it.”

Pacheco split the uprights on the next play to polish off the perfect drive and improve Barnstable to 2-1 with New Bedford up next.

Perfect time for a bye: When Barnstable’s schedule was released this summer, Chris Whidden was unsure how a Week 2 bye week would effect his. As it turns out, that bye week seems to have saved the Red Raiders season.

The Raiders were dismantled by Dennis-Yarmouth, 37-9, in Week 1 and BC High returned the opening kickoff back for a touchdown in week three. Since then, Barnstable has been a different team.

“The bye week let us get back to square one to really break down what wasn’t working and why it wasn’t working,” said Whidden. “And we had film to prove it. That bye couldn’t have come at a better time.

Coming off two huge victories, teams will be gunning for Barnstable, starting next week at New Bedford. With Friday night’s win, the Raiders will almost certainly jump back into the Top 25 poll.

“It puts a target on our back just like we had one last year,” said Lucashensky. “Now its back, a big fat bull’s-eye.”

Barnstable 15, Xaverian 14

X 0 7 7 0 --14

B 0 6 0 9 --15

Second Quarter

X-Shayne Kaminski 54 pass from Jake Farrell (Matt Rogers kick) 4:16

B-Colby Blaze 25 pass from Lucashensky (kick fail) 1:17

Third Quarter

X-Kaminski 5 run (Rogers Kick) 0:10

Fourth Quarter

B-Derek Estes 15 pass from Lucashensky (run fail) 6:38

B-Dereck Pacheco 32 field goal 1:28

 

Roundtable: Bigger things to come for Xaverian?

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
1:59
PM ET
1. SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYED A MAJOR FACTOR IN XAVERIAN'S 49-13 DRUBBING OF BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM, RETURNING TWO BLOCKED PUNTS FOR TOUCHDOWNSW, BUT A.J. KING (2 TDs) DIDN'T HAVE A BAD DAY EITHER. IS THIS XAVERIAN SQUAD CAPABLE OF ROUTINELY PUTTING UP BIG NUMBERS?

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: If this were 2012, or any other recent year for that matter, I would lean towards labeling that game an anomaly. Xaverian squads typically aren't known for blowing up the scoreboard, instead moving the chains rather steadily behind a conservative multiple offense and relying on change-of-pace backs to grind out the tough yardage. I've been in this for 10 years, and this year's Xaverian team feels like one of the more unpredictable squads that I can recall. And when I say that, I mean you just don't know that they're going to throw at you. Certainly, Jake Farrell brings about an escapeability intangible they typically haven't had with quarterbacks, and there is some promising sophomore talent.

By the way, whoever the special teams coach is at Xaverian, give that man a raise. If you think the B-R game was an aberration, ask the BB&N coaches how their scrimmage with the Hawks went.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: I know we all thought the Hawks’ defense would be ahead of the offense entering the season, but this looks like a much-improved group thus far. I like the one-two punch Shayne Kaminski and Noah Sorrento provide in the backfield. They have some legit targets in the passing game with King and D.J. Sperzel and Jake Farrell has looked great at quarterback. If the offensive line keeps creating holes and pass protecting the way they have in the first two weeks, I don’t foresee a slowdown.

John McGuirk, ESPN Boston correspondent: With the talent Xaverian has they should continue to put up decent numbers. They have four 'big' games left on the schedule in Barnstable, Brockton, BC High and St. John's Prep. All four of those programs are outstanding but all have issues on defense as well which should work in the Hawks' favor.

2. NASHOBA OWNS THE STATE'S LONGEST ACTIVE WIN STREAK (28 GAMES), BUT TWO TOUGH OPPONENTS LAY AHEAD IN WACHUSETT AND ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY. DO YOU SEE THE CHIEFTAINS MAKING IT TO 30 STRAIGHT?

Hall: Wachusett matches up evenly on paper with Nashoba, but watch out for St. John's. Andrew Smiley is heating up (380 passing yards the last six quarters), and the running game seems to be hitting a groove with St. Louis transplant Shane Combs taking over the feature role. The "blur" offense is a whirlwind to handle when all is going right, and you always have to watch where Davon Jones lines up. I see the Pioneers stopping Nashoba's streak at 29.

Barboza: I think it’ll end at No. 29. The Chieftains will get by Wachusett, but I think the Pioneers’ athletes, particularly on the perimeter, will prove too much to handle.

McGuirk: I see Nashoba reaching 30 straight wins. Wachusett is going through a down year, having already lost to St. Peter-Marian and Fitchburg. And what has been noted many times, St. John's biggest weakness the last couple of seasons has been its porous defense and inability to make tackles consistently. If you look past those next two games, the Chieftains will face a pair of unbeatens (Marlborough and Leominster). That is where the streak could possibly come to a close.

3. BETWEEN THE SUPERB STARTS FROM BROCKTON, TAUNTON, TEWKSBURY AND WESTFIELD, THE TRIPLE OPTION IS MAKING A COMEBACK. WHICH TEAM RUNS IT BEST?

Hall: It's tough to argue against Westfield's ridiculous numbers -- there are running backs that will go a whole season not putting up as many rushing yards as the Bombers have their first two games of the season. But it's hard to argue against Brockton's talent. Aaron LeClair and Jamal Williams get to the perimeter quick, and the Boxers can steamroll you inside with counters and dives. All four of these teams have a dynamic playmaker in the backfield -- LeClair, Tewksbury's Eddie Matovu, Westfield's Ben Geschwind and Taunton's Domingo Jenkins -- but I will give Brockton the edge here because of what they have in the trenches. Aaron Monteiro, the Boxers' prized prospect at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, is a road grader at left guard with a pretty high ceiling.

Barboza: As of right now, I don’t see how you can argue with Westfield. The Bombers are running roughshod over opponents behind senior fullback Ben Geschwind. After running for 348 yards and six touchdowns as a team during last week's 49-20 win over West Springfield, Westfield has scored 109 points in two games, with Geschwind averaging more than 150 yards per game.

Josh Perry, HockomockSports.com: I can’t say whether or not Taunton runs it better than other teams in the state, but I can say that the Tigers do make it look fun. With Gerald Cortijo and Steven Harrison giving star back Domingo Jenkins some help in the backfield, the Tigers have speedy and shifty runners. It’s almost enough to make you forget just how good the ground game would have been without Jamal Williams’ move to Brockton. Taunton’s ability to run the triple option will of course get a much tougher test this week against King Philip and its strong defense, but the Tigers are unique among the other Hockomock teams and it can be fun to watch.

McGuirk: The way Westfield is dominating the competition (109 points in two games), I would say the the triple option is working best for them. They have the right personnel to execute it and coach Bill Moore is very good at putting the right players in place to keep it rolling effectively, especially his tandem of Ben Geschwind and Jake Toomey, who are both averaging over 10 yards-per-carry.

4. TWO OF THE MERRIMACK VALLEY CONFERENCE'S BEST SQUADS, CENTRAL CATHOLIC AND LOWELL, SURRENDERED A COMBINED 73 POINTS AGAINST NON-LEAGUE TOP 10 OPPONENTS LAST WEEKEND. ARE WE HEADED FOR ANOTHER SEASON OF HIGH SCORES IN THE MVC?

Hall: Tough to tell, because Tewksbury has more than pulled its weight in the defensive end so far. If there's one team that can avoid track meets, it's the Redmen. Everyone else, good luck. We anointed the MVC "Death By 1,000 Shallow Crosses" a year ago, and with the amount of spread offense and no-huddle tempo deployed in this league, we could very well be in for another season of Wild West scores.

Barboza: I'd take my chances with the defensive units of Andover, Central Catholic, Lowell and Tewksbury against just about any offense in the state, but what comes into play in the MVC is the teams' offensive style of play. With so many teams in its ranks adopting the spread offense, the big numbers put up seemingly on a weekly basis are more a function of the pace of the game, with shortened drives as opposed to rushing-oriented, ball-control styles of play. But as long as MVC teams continue to live and die by the sword (or the spread), I think we'll continue to see some lopsided numbers.

Mike Abelson, ESPN Boston correspondent: Yes and no. Central and Lowell, when the blur is working as advertised, can drop basketball scores on lesser teams because of the athletic talent. That being said, through three weeks there are only two MVC teams averaging 30 or more points. Central is one, and the other, North Andover, hasn't won a game. The only two remaining undefeated teams, Tewksbury and Methuen, are averaging 27 and 18 points a game, respectively, and winning games without all the flash and dash of putting up buckets of points. Yes, the MVC will have it's share of high-scoring contests (I'll put the over/under for Central-Chelmsford at 90.5), but it won't consistently translate to W's.

5. AFTER A ROUGH FIRST WEEK, HAS BARNSTABLE FIGURED IT OUT? CAN THEY KNOCK OFF NO. 1 XAVERIAN?

Hall: I feel like this is a sneaky good matchup. Let's not forget Barnstable was our preseason No. 12 before getting shell-shocked by Dennis-Yarmouth in the opening weekend. There is talent, between versatile athlete Hayden Murphy, shutdown corner Derek Estes and elusive scatback Justus Chafee.

Defensively, Barnstable typically likes to stretch vertically and keep everything in front of them, which can be a bad matchup against spread teams like Dennis-Yarmouth. Last week against BC High, they looked like they cleaned up a lot of their mistakes. Xaverian's offense, while a bit more creative, has some similarities to BC High's. Going the other way, the Red Raiders use some funky misdirection in the run game to prevent linebackers from filling gaps. On their first touchdown against BC, for instance, a receiver backpedaled off the line of scrimmage, feigning a bubble screen, putting several defenders on their heels as Chafee came up the gut on a zone read.

That kind of stuff can keep even the best defenses on their toes. Expect some fireworks, and some dynamic playcalling, in this one.

Barboza: This is a yes-and-no proposition to me. I think the Raiders righted ship after an embarrassing loss to Cape rival Dennis-Yarmouth in Week 1, going on the road to beat another Catholic Conference foe in BC High. But I think Barnstable would need to play a near perfect game, while forcing the Hawks into some turnovers in order to make it four straight defeats of an ESPN Boston No. 1 squad. I'm not saying it will not be a close game, I just like Xaverian a little bit more.

Perry: In a preseason roundtable, I said that Barnstable was a team that was getting overlooked because of the players that it lost from last year. I’ll stick by that and say that the Raiders give Xaverian a run for their money. The No. 1 ranking has been more of an albatross than an honor this year, so I’ll say that Barnstable has a good chance of causing the Hawks problems.

McGuirk: Barnstable is good but Xaverian is playing with a lot of confidence, especially following the huge win over B-R last week. The Hawks should take care of the Red Raiders who gave up 37 points to D-Y in Week One but did bounce back nicely last week against BC High.

Abelson: In Hayden Murphy I trust. In the ESPN Boston poll curse I believe. Barnstable, 27-21.

6. THE HOCKOMOCK LEAGUE'S KELLY-REX DIVISION MIGHT BE THE STATE'S MOST UNPREDICTABLE RACE THIS FALL. AS LEAGUE PLAY OPENS UP THIS WEEK, PROJECT YOUR CHAMPION AND DARK HORSE.

Hall: Mansfield was the prohibitive favorite in most minds heading into the season, and so far they've done little to suggest otherwise. Consider that nearly three weeks out from their shocking upset of Dunbar (Md.), the Hornets are still without five starters. They're already a dynamic offense, between quarterback Kyle Wisnieski, 6-foot-5 flex tight end Brendan Hill, and space-carving tailback Miguel Villar-Perez. Hard to go against that.

For dark horses, I like Attleboro. I think it's understated how big their line is, particularly at defensive tackle, and there are plenty of weapons on offense between quarterback Tim Walsh, tight end Luke Morrison and receiver Brendan Massey. This program has long been a sleeping giant, and new coach Mike Strachan has re-awakened those sentiments.

Barboza: All along, I've penciled in Mansfield as the team to beat in the Kelley-Rex. I believe they had the most complete group of talent on either side of the ball, and also had the most upside. The scary part is that, due to injury, the Hornets might not have yet hit their apogee and will continue to strengthen as the season progresses.

Now, for the sleeper, I know we've talked up Attleboro up a lot in the early going -- to the point that I really think they're a threat in Division 1 South. Seeing that the Blue Bombardiers are for real in the first two weeks of the season, I'm going to go with Taunton. I don't think Chris Greding has gotten enough credit for the job he's done turning around the Tigers program in short order. Of course, an infusion of talent led by Domingo Jenkins helps, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Taunton knocks off one of the Hock's "Big Three" -- King Philip, Mansfield, North Attleborough -- at some point this season.

Perry: The favorite heading into the Hockomock League season is defending champions Mansfield and its new spread attack that takes advantage of its great weapons like senior quarterback Kyle Wisnieski and junior tight end Brendan Hill. Attleboro has gotten a lot of hype from media, me included, in the preseason as a sleeper in the Hock. A new coaching staff, a new field, and new schemes on both sides of the ball have made the Bombardiers a much more confident crew and better utilize the weapons that it has. The Bombardiers were only a few mental mistakes from beating Mansfield last season and Tim Walsh is on fire running the spread formation – watch out for Attleboro. Of course, watch out for KP, Franklin, and North Attleborough, too. It really is up for grabs

McGuirk: The Kelly-Rex Division is solid with four teams still unbeaten (Mansfield, Attleboro, North Attleboro and Taunton). When it is all said and done. I believe it will come down to Mansfield and North Attleborough for the title because of their high-octane offenses. Attleboro has to be considered the darkhorse here because of its stingy defense which could carry them through. It will be interesting to watch all four of these team beat up one another during the season and see who survives.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 3

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
2:35
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Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 3 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS*

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
The Boston College commit completed 14 of 21 passes for 282 yards and five scores, and added 32 yards on the ground, in a 41-6 win over Acton-Boxborough.

Jack Galvin, Sr. WR, Lowell
Caught two passes for 90 yards and two scores in the Red Raiders’ 33-20 loss to Leominster.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils’ 33-20 defeat of Lowell, threw for 156 yards and three touchdowns, and added 66 yards and a score on the ground.

Dylan Oxsen, Sr. RB, Plymouth South
Carried 18 times for 256 yards and three touchdowns in the Panthers’ 21-7 win over Sandwich. In the first two games, he has 418 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
The UMass lacrosse commit ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns in the Rockets’ 26-6 win over Walpole.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
In the Pioneers’ 42-24 win over Catholic Memorial, the Navy lacrosse commit completed 20 of 25 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns, and added 47 rushing yards with a fifth score.

Johnathan Thomas, Sr. RB, St. John’s Prep
The Maryland commit carried 27 times for 228 yards and two scores, and added a spectacular 107-yard pick-six that made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, in a 40-21 win over Central Catholic.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
In the Golden Eagles’ 49-0 rout of East Longmeadow, the Monmouth commit completed 8 of 9 passes for 148 yards and three scores, and added 37 yards and a score on seven carries on the ground.

Ju’an Williams, Sr. WR/DB, Springfield Central
Was a factor in all three phases of the game in the Golden Eagles’ 49-0 blanking of East Longmeadow. He caught three passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns, recorded four tackles and a 92-yard interception return for a third score, and was a perfect 7-for-7 on extra point field goals.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
The Boston College commit caught four passes for 92 yards and a score, and recorded 13 tackles defensively, in the Highlanders’ 19-12 win over Holy Name.

FIVE ON THE RISE*

Zach Elkinson, Jr. ATH, Holliston
Registered 232 yards and three scores in three different methods – rushing, receiving and punt return – in the Panthers’ 43-7 win over Milford. Through three games, he has 514 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns by four different methods.

A.J. King, Sr. WR, Xaverian
Blew the doors open for the Hawks in their battle with Bridgewater-Raynham, catching four balls for 129 yards and two scores in the first half en route to a 49-13 rout.

Jimmy Sullivan, Sr. QB/S, Nauset
In the Warriors’ 34-8 win over Falmouth, carried 10 times for 167 yards and two scores, and added 38 passing yards and a third score, as well as four tackles on defense. Through two games, he has 419 all-purpose yards, five touchdowns, 13 tackles and an interception.

Olan Abner, Sr. RB, Bedford
Carried 38 times for 262 yards and two touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ 34-13 win over Belmont. Through two games, he has 398 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Ricardo Edwards, Sr. RB, Brighton
Had a record six touchdowns in the Bengals’ 44-22 win over East Boston. He ran for 233 yards and five scores, and returned an interception for a sixth.

TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Johnathan Thomas, Sr., St. John’s Prep – 652 yards, 8 total TD
Christian Perez, Sr., Northeast – 574 yards, 5 TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 558 yards, 6 TD
Isaiah White, Sr., Beverly – 558 yards, 5 TD
Brooks Tyrell, Jr., Marblehead – 453 yards, 6 total TD

Passing
Jordan Bolarinho, Sr., Billerica – 872 yards, 7 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 604 yards, 5 TD
Brendan Smith, Soph., Seekonk – 575 yards, 6 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 571 yards, 8 TD
Ryan Barabe, Jr., Pope John Paul II – 497 yards, 5 TD

Receiving
Kevin Casey, Jr., Billerica – 309 yards, 2 TD
Jack Galvin, Sr., Lowell – 283 yards, 6 TD
Jeff Trainor, Soph., Billerica – 254 yards, 3 TD
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 252 yards, 7 total TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 244 yards, TD

Dual Threat QB*
Cameron McMillian, Sr., Cambridge – 397 passing yards, 437 rushing yards, 10 total TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 604 passing yards, 118 rushing yards, 7 total TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 571 passing yards, 99 rushing yards, 9 total TD
Tyler Bassett, Sr., Dracut – 355 passing yards, 312 rushing yards, 4 total TD
Kyle Dance, Sr., Latin Academy – 373 passing yards, 237 rushing yards, 10 total TD
*Not including teams who were idle last weekend.
**To qualify, quarterbacks must have rushing yards account for at least 15 percent of their total offensive production.

Player of the Game: Xaverian's A.J. King

September, 21, 2013
9/21/13
10:49
PM ET
WESTWOOD, Mass. -- In our "Game of the Week" at the Hawk Bowl, sponsored by Sports Authority and the Bay State Games, Xaverian High senior wide receiver A.J. King dazzled in the first half to blow the game open. He had four catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter, as the No. 10 Hawks upset No. 1 Bridgewater-Raynham before a packed home crowd.

For his efforts, King was honored as the Player of the Game. ESPN Boston High Schools editor Scott Barboza caught up with King after the game:

Recap: No. 10 Xaverian 49, No. 1 B-R 13

September, 21, 2013
9/21/13
8:20
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WESTWOOD, Mass. – Let there be no doubt who’s No. 1.

At least for another week, that is.

For the third straight week to begin the MIAA football season, the No. 1 team in ESPN Boston’s Top 25 poll suffered a sound defeat. This time, on Saturday in the grand unveiling of the extensive renovations to Xaverian’s Hawk Bowl, Bridgewater-Raynham became the most recent squad to be dethroned.

No. 10 Xaverian systematically beat the Trojans in each and every facet of the game, administering a 49-13 beat-down of yet another No. 1.

It also marked the second straight week in which the Hawks (2-0) beat the poll No. 1 after a road victory at Everett last week.

“Playing two No. 1 teams, that’s what we aim to do here,” Hawks senior running back/ linebacker Shayne Kaminski said. “There are high expectations at this school. Playing a No. 1, it’s just a whole different situation – that just gets you pumped up for the game.”

Kaminski, who missed Xaverian’s opener due to injury, celebrated his return to game action with a 31-yard touchdown run at 5:02 of the first quarter, providing the Hawks with an early 7-0 lead.

On B-R’s ensuing possession, Kaminski also announced his return, defensively, falling on a fumble created on a strip-sack from defensive end Joe Gaziano. Two plays later, fellow running back Noah Sorrento rumbled in from 13 yards out for a quick two-score lead.

However, the Trojans (2-1) would respond on their next possession with Matt Clement hitting Ryan Martin in tight coverage for a 29-yard touchdown pass.

After the teams exchanged a couple of fruitless drives, the Hawks began pulling away just before the half – thanks to quarterback Jake Farrell and senior wideout A.J. King.

Inside the final two minutes of the first half, Farrell and King linked up for two quick-strike passing plays. First, King came down with a ball, despite bracketed coverage, and raced 62 yards for a score. Then, with two seconds remaining, Hawks head coach Charlie Stevenson eschewed taking the knee and, instead, dialed up a dazzling 47-yard connection with Farrell hitting King in stride along the left-hand sideline on a fly route.

And the Hawks took a 28-6 lead to the locker room.

Xaverian’s special teams had their chance to shine in the third quarter, when the Hawks blocked two punt attempts with one turned for a touchdown and another setting up a first-and-goal situation.

After B-R’s opening drive of the second half sputtered out, Gaziano got his mitts on a punt, allowing freshman Mekhi Henderson to pick up an easy scoop and score from 30 yards out.

Then, following a Trojans’ three-and-out, Xaverian sophomore lineman Elijah Pierre registered a second block. B-R’s recovery set up the Hawks at the Trojans’ 2, setting up Kaminski (10 carries, 138 yards) for his second of three rushing scores.

Kaminski later added a 54-yard run, providing the Hawks with a 49-6 lead.

“I felt like every guy today wanted to get in there and make a contribution,” Kaminski said, “And we did that.”

Run differential: Aside from some padded stats B-R tacked on once the game was out of reach, Xaverian lopsidedly won the battle of the rushing attacks.

While holding Trojans preseason All-State running back Brandon Gallagher under 40 yards rushing for the game, the Hawks consistently dominated the point of attack against a depleted B-R offensive line.

“We really did a good job of stopping their run, I thought,” Stevenson said. “[Gallagher] is tough and I was really worried about us being able to match up with him and stop him.”

Meanwhile, the Hawks’ offensive line continued to create holes. And, with the additional shot in the arm Kaminski injected along with Sorrento, Xaverian’s off and running.

Star in the making: During the preseason, Stevenson highlighted freshman cornerback Mehki Henderson as a player to watch as the year progressed.

But, through two weeks, it appears as though Henderson is coming along just fine.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder showed good instincts undercutting a route to the end zone pylon and snatched his first interception at the end of the second quarter. The pick helped set up the Hawks’ last-minute drive at the half.

That was before Henderson also snatched up six points with his second-half punt block return for touchdown.

“He’s a really good athlete,” Stevenson said of Henderson. “He’s young and a little inexperienced, but I think he’s going to be a good player.”

Lax the key for No. 15 Xaverian football?

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
8:27
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Forgive the Xaverian Hawks if they have a chip on their shoulders this season.

They're (how do you say in a politically correct manner?) a little ticked off about the way last season went. It was a losing season (4-7), and, as a result, the Hawks again fell short of a Catholic Conference championship, having last won it in the magical 2009 undefeated season.

Expectations never waver at the Hawk Bowl, and there's no exception for 2013. But with returning Conference champion and statewide preseason No. 1 St. John's Prep holding the gate and a stacked gauntlet of opponents in the newly formed Division 1 South sectional, Xaverian's path to postseason glory is wrought with peril.

“I think every year we have high expectations for ourselves,” junior defensive end and tight end Joe Gaziano said. “And, obviously, last year was a disappointment. But I feel this year we’re really motivated to work hard and we expect even more of ourselves this year, knowing what it takes to win and how hard it is to win.”

While the wins may have come up short in the fall, for Gaziano and several of his teammates who were members of the Hawks lacrosse team’s Division 1 state championship in June -- the program's first -- they might have found a springboard into football season. It’s certainly not unprecedented in recent MIAA history that a program wins championships in both lacrosse and football in a calendar year, with Massachusetts lacrosse scions Duxbury pulling the feat most recently in both 2011 and 2012. On both those Dragons squads, a number of players shared responsibilities in both the spring and fall.

Xaverian fits a similar mold this year, with seniors Shayne Kaminski and D.J. Sperzel (Providence College lacrosse recruit) and Gaziano starring in both seasons.

Yet, Kaminski wasn’t about to buy into the idea that one success necessarily begets another.

“It’s a different game. But we’re really trying to push the defense this year and I think we can be good.”

He continued, “Our goal for right now is just to beat Everett [in Week 1]. That’s as far as we’re looking right now.”

XAVERIAN AT A GLANCE
Coach: Charlie Stevenson (20th season, 162-59-1)
Last year: 4-7
Key returnees: Shayne Kaminski, Sr. RB/LB, 5-11, 198 lbs.; Joe Gaziano, Jr. DE/TE, 6-3, 230 lbs.; D.J. Sperzel, Sr. WR/S, 6-2, 190 lbs.; A.J. King, Sr. WR/S, 5-10, 180 lbs.; Nick Colantuoni, Sr. TE/DE, 6-3, 215 lbs.; Noah Sorrento, Jr. RB/LB, 5-9, 180 lbs.
Strengths: Depth at wide receiver, experienced pass rush.
Weaknesses: Depth at offensive line, experience on interior defensive line.

Outlook: The word around Clapboardtree Street is that defense has been the imperative this preseason. And it’s not a stretch to hint that the Hawks might have one of the best units in the state this season. Gaziano and Nick Colantuoni present a serious pass rush threat from the ends, while Kaminski, Noah Sorrento and Kenny Kerns will feature at the linebacker spots. Of course, the Hawks have to find a replacement for the departed Mo Hurst, now a freshman at Michigan. Well, you can’t really replace a player like that can you? “We’ll have a cast of hundreds,” head coach Charlie Stevenson said, alluding to the pool of players his staff is considering to fill the defensive tackle positions. On offense, there’s a quarterback battle that continues with senior Peter White and junior Jake Farrell vying for the job. Xaverian has depth at running back with Kaminski and Sorrento providing able options. But the Hawks are auditioning a several new starters along the offensive line. The early returns have been positive. “Our offensive line has been great so far,” Gaziano said. “We have a lot of new guys stepping up on the line with Joe Parsons, Ryan Mellen and Jeff Perez. I expect them to do a great job up front and help the run game and be a big, physical presence.”

Scrimmage slants: B-R vs. Xaverian

August, 24, 2013
8/24/13
3:43
PM ET
BRIDGWATER, Mass. – For nearly two hours Saturday morning, Bridgewater-Raynham and Xaverian renewed a rivalry that has become among the state’s best non-league annual tilts.

Again, both the Trojans (No. 10) and the Hawks (No. 15) make strong showings in our statewide preseason MIAA football Top 25 poll. Not to mention, it won’t be long before the teams go at it for real, when Xaverian welcomes B-R to the new-look Hawk Bowl for a regular-season game on Saturday, Sept. 21.

[+] EnlargeBridgewater
Scott Barboza/ESPNBridgewater-Raynham and Xaverian kicked off their first of - at least - two meetings this season to start their preseason.
But before we reach the regular season, here’s a look at today’s passing scrimmage and some takeaways:

Sorting through the QB battles: Both squads enter 2013 looking for a new signal caller and both teams rolled through their crop of contending quarterbacks.

Xaverian senior Peter White, juniors Jake Farrell and Tom Fitzgibbons, along with sophomore Mike Pina all had reps under center, with White and Farrell seeing the majority of the snaps. Meanwhile, the Trojans cycled through junior Matt Clement and sophomore candidates Steve D’Emila and Cade McNaughten.

When asked to evaluate Saturday’s performances, both Hawks head coach Charlie Stevenson and B-R’s Dan Buron found positives, along with some improvements to be made.

“I thought our first two quarterbacks [White and Farrell] did some nice things,” Stevenson said. “They made good plays. But a couple of plays that they were impatient on and if they would’ve been able to make plays if they’d scanned the field, we might have had some more scoring plays. But that’s inexperience. That’ll come.”

At times, both offenses were slightly out of sync, with timing passes arriving a moment late and an overthrow here and there.

But for a scrimmage primarily concerned with the passing game, and with both defenses perhaps playing a little ahead of the opposing offenses, both teams were able to move the ball – although scoring was hard to come by.

“I think that right now, Matt [Clement] just because of his age is a little bit of those other two,” Buron said of his quarterbacks, who saw a nearly equal number of snaps. “But I think I’ve got three good ones. I think it’s just a lack of game experience and that’s why I’ve added more scrimmages than normal to try to get them acclimated to the game situations.”

Speaking volumes: As far as Xaverian’s passing game is concerned, while quarterback battle continues, there will be no doubt to the pass catchers working on the field. The struggle that Stevenson feels is how to get all of them on the field at once.

While the Hawks’ return a couple of last year’s top targets, including D.J. Sperzel and A.J. King, Stevenson believes he has depth at receiver. During Saturday’s scrimmage, the Hawks worked in eight different receivers with its first-unit offense.

“I think we’re about as deep at receiver as we have been in recent years,” Stevenson added.

Layin’ the lumber: For a preseason scrimmage, Saturday’s tone was about as spirited as you’ll find. And, for the most part, it was carried by the respective defenses.

Working against the Hawks’ offense presented a high quality challenge to B-R’s new linebacking corps. The Trojans worked primarily with a group including seniors Kevin Newton and Arcel Armstead as outside linebackers and Devin Morris in the middle.

Buron is looking for big things from Newton, a starting-caliber player last year who was set back by injuries in 2012. Pat Whooley and Cam Goodrich also saw significant time with the Trojans’ top unit.

However, the biggest play of the day came from junior linebacker Justin Finlayson. The 5-foot-10 outside linebacker popped a Xaverian player making a reception in the flat, drawing the raucous approval of his teammates on the sideline.

It might have been the most thunderous exchange of the day, but it also underscored the Trojans’ ability to maintain positioning on Xaverian’s swing and screen passes.

“I was pleased with that because honestly we haven’t worked on anything that they typically do,” Buron said. “We just wanted to stay in our base defense and run to the ball. Sometimes we didn’t make the tackle, but I thought we were usually in good position. A lot of those things, this early in the year, they’re correctable.”

The Hawks also brought their defensive game with starting junior defensive ends Joe Gaziano and Nick Colantuoni establishing a strong pass rush off the edges.

Shaken, but OK: There was tense moment or two about midway through the scrimmage when B-R’s ESPN Boston preseason All-State offensive tackle Shawn Whitaker tumbled to the ground following a Hawks interception.

While backtracking and following the return up-field, Whitaker received a serious blow on a crack-back block. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder didn’t return.

Buron, adding that Whitaker has also been troubled by a back ailment in practice, said he was removed as a precaution.

Recap: No. 21 B-R 32, Xaverian 27

October, 20, 2012
10/20/12
6:37
PM ET
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -– The enormous gust of wind that blew over the Bridgewater-Raynham football field late Saturday afternoon wasn’t a meteorological phenomenon.

Rather, it was Trojans coach Dan Buron exhaling after his team held off Xaverian and posted a 32-27 non-league victory.

And “held off” is the operative phrase.

After the No. 21 Trojans (4-3) seemingly put the game out of reach, when Jordan Cohen threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Murphy for a 32-20 lead with 2:22 remaining, the Hawks (1-6) needed just over a minute to reduce their deficit when Austin DeCarr threw a 20-yard scoring pass to A.J. King and Kyle Darrow kicked the extra point.

Not surprisingly, Xaverian then attempted an onside kick. But much to Buron’s chagrin, Xaverian’s Ryan McLean smothered the ball at his team’s 42 with 1:40 remaining.

DeCarr (24-48, 290 yards, TD) then passed his team to a second-and-goal at B-R’s 5 with four ticks of the clock left. But DeCarr’s pass for what would have been the winning touchdown fell incomplete in the end zone which allowed Buron to breathe.

“That’s a good football team,” Buron said of Xaverian. “I don’t care what their record is. We play a tough schedule but one that’s not nearly as tough as the one they do. And they’ve been in every game so I knew they weren’t going to quit.

“I’m proud of the kids. I’m a little upset that we didn’t get the onside kick but we have to work on those things. It’s different in practice.”

To a certain extent, this was a different B-R team than the one that was waxed 41-24 on October 12 by Rhode Island Division I power La Salle Academy.

“We played with a little more intensity today than we did last week,” Buron said. “I don’t know what the reason was for that. I thought the week prior to that we played with a lot of intensity and emotion against St. John’s Prep.

“That’s a good team and we came out on the short end but I was proud of the kids. We didn’t look like the same team (against La Salle). But today we looked more like the team we had in our first five games.”

Double trouble: One reason the Trojans prevailed was that they were proficient both on the ground and in the air.

Brandon Gallagher led the ground game by rushing for 90 yards and one score on 21 carries.

Jordan Cohen was superb at quarterback as he completed 13-of-19 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns –- each to Murphy who snared eight balls for 150 yards.

“I thought Jordan played well today and hit the open receivers,” Buron said. “What they were giving us was the flat and he hit the flat all day which opened up some other things.”

One of the “other things” that was opened up was room for Gallagher to slice through Xaverian’s defense.

“Gallagher is a tough running back who runs hard,” Buron said. “When the blocking’s there he’s going to get extra yards. When there isn’t any blocking, he’s still going to get extra yards. Very rarely does he go backwards.

“He’s a strong runner and is only a sophomore so he’s only going to get better. But I’d like to credit the offensive line, too. I thought they played well in the second half against a much bigger defensive front.”

How do you spell shootout? After a scoreless first quarter during which each team lost a fumble, B-R’s Aaron Conrad recovered another Xaverian fumble on his team’s 14.

B-R then covered 86 yards in eight plays with Gallagher busting into the end zone from the 5.

Xaverian countered with an eight-play, 64-yard drive which Shayne Kaminski capped by scoring on a 25-yard run that made B-R’s lead 7-6.

B-R, seemingly in an eye blink, upped its lead to 12-7 when Cohen connected with Murphy on a screen pass that covered 20 yards for a score.

But DeCarr displayed his best passing of the game after the ensuing kickoff when he completed all five of his attempts for 80 yards which led to Kaminski running it in from the 2 for a 13-12 lead at halftime.

The Trojans got even late in the third quarter when Conrad intercepted a DeCarr pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown that gave B-R an 18-13 lead at the break.

But a short Xaverian punt gave the Trojans excellent field position, at their 40, and Cohen zipped a 17-yard touchdown pass to Murphy on the first play of the fourth period for a 25-13 advantage.

Buron’s sentiments about Xaverian being a team that doesn’t quit almost came back to haunt him when the Hawks’ D.J. Sperzel recovered a fumble on B-R’s 49 -– which led to a five-yard scoring run by Harry Walsh that pulled the Hawks within 25-20 with 5:02 left.

“Everybody on our schedule can beat us,” Buron said. “That’s the problem with playing a tough schedule so we have to come to play. Most every game we’ve been in has come down to the wire so we have to prepare for it.”

BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM 32, XAVERIAN 27
XB (1-6) 0-13-0-14 – 27
BR (4-3) 0-12-6-14 – 32


Second quarter
B – Brandon Gallagher 5 run (run failed)
X – Shayne Kaminski 25 run (Kyle Darrow kick)
B – Ryan Murphy 20 pass from Jordan Cohen (pass failed)
X – Kaminski 2 run (pass failed)

Third quarter
B – Aaron Conrad 33 interception return (pass failed)

Fourth quarter
B – Murphy 17 pass from Cohen (Kevin Wadsworth kick)
X – Harry Walsh 5 run (Darrow kick)
B – Murphy 23 pass from Cohen (Wadsworth kick)
X – A.J. King 20 pass from Austin DeCarr (Darrow kick)

Taute looks to lead No. 3 Xaverian over the hump

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
11:43
AM ET
Hunter Taute spent his middle school years in Dublin, Ohio, a city that sits just northwest of Columbus, where football is king.

On your typical Friday night at the high school he would have attended, he and the rest of his teammates for the Coffman Shamrocks would be playing in front of an average crowd of 17,500 people in the Buckeye State’s highest classification.

It is a program that has produced notable recent alums such as Brady Quinn, who starred at Notre Dame and is now a backup quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, and offensive lineman Mike Adams, who played at Ohio State and is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So when Taute’s family moved to Franklin before Hunter began high school, he wanted to go somewhere that shared a similar passion for the sport.

“From a young age, football was a way of life (in Ohio). They take it all serious. It’s a lot more important. Everyone cares more out there and everyone goes to the games.”

After cruising around the Xaverian page on the Maxpreps.com website, Taute knew where he wanted to go.

And while there won’t be a crowd approaching 20,000 people at the Hawk Bowl anytime soon, Taute is happy to be a Hawk, and his coach Charlie Stevenson may be even happier.

“Well, he’s 6-2, 245 and ran a 4.75 (40-yard dash) at the BC camp,” Stevenson said. “There’s not much more that needs to be said. He’s got good skills, he’s very versatile; he can run and catch and play defense. His versatility is very good.”

After playing with the freshmen in 2009, Taute was poised for a bigger role with the varsity as a sophomore before an injury sidelined him for most of the season. By the end of it, however, he was able to see the field at fullback.

Last season, he was the starting middle linebacker while retaining some of the same duties on offense. His fondest memory of 2011 came in a 27-9 win over St. John’s of Shrewsbury, where he played a stellar game on defense and combined with Maurice Hurst for 266 rushing yards in a downpour.

“That was one of the best games of my life so far,” said Taute, who holds an offer from Bryant and is also receiving interest from UConn, UMass, Boston College, UNH and Maine. “Me and Mo pretty much dominated that game. His 75-yard touchdown run sort of put (Xaverian) in the bigger picture and after that it set the tone for our running game.”

But for as well as the Hawks ran the ball at times last year, they had just as much trouble stopping it against the best teams on the schedule. The most glaring example came in a 42-21 loss at Everett when Vondell Langston, now at UMass, put up 208 yards on just 15 carries. St. John’s Prep’s Jonathan Thomas also had 202 yards in Xaverian’s 28-21 win on Thanksgiving.

For a team that returns a Michigan commit in Hurst at defensive tackle, Taute right behind him and nearly everyone else from last season’s front seven, a repeat performance would be a major disappointment.

“Last year it was pretty embarrassing the yards we gave up against the run,” said Taute, who now lives in Wrentham. “We work on tackling and making the other team have to pass more. With Mo, the pass rush is going to be great. The run defense should also be good but right now we’re stressing the inside run and draw.”

They’ll need to be at their best with the schedule in front of them. But after watching Catholic Conference rival BC High win the Division 1 Super Bowl last year, Taute would be glad to trade those big crowds back in Dublin for a little hardware on Clapboardtree Street.

“This year we want to get back on the horse,” he said, “get to the championship and take home the trophy.”

XAVERIAN AT A GLANCE
2011: 6-5 (2-2 Catholic Conference)
Coach: Charlie Stevenson (20th season, 158-52-1)
Key Returnees: Maurice Hurst, Sr. DT/FB, 6-3, 285 lbs.; Hunter Taute, Sr. MLB/FB, 6-2, 245 lbs.; Austin DeCarr, Sr. QB, 6-3, 195 lbs.; Ray Gobbi, Sr. OL/DT, 6-1, 285 lbs.; DJ Pagliuca, Sr. WR/DB, 5-10, 185 lbs.; Joe DeNucci, So. WR/DB, 6-0, 180 lbs.; Shayne Kaminski, Jr. OLB/RB, 5-10, 193 lbs.; Eddie Hanlon, Sr. OLB, 6-0, 185 lbs.; Mike Brennan, Sr. RB/DB, 6-0, 185 lbs.; DJ Sperzel, Jr. WR/DB, 6-3, 185 lbs.; AJ King, Jr. WR/DB, 5-10, 180 lbs.; Jordan Bayuk, Sr. DT, 6-2, 250 lbs.; Ryan MacLean, Sr. DE, 6-0, 190 lbs.; Elijah Jolly, Sr. DE, 6-3, 195 lbs.
Strengths: Skill positions, experience on defense, defensive line.
Weaknesses: Inexperience on offensive line, schedule.
Outlook: Over Stevenson’s tenure, Xaverian has proven its worth as one of those programs that will take on anyone at anytime. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the veteran coach, when asked how this schedule stacks up with his previous ones, said, “This is the toughest, I think.” But even with this layup-free slate that includes a trip to highly touted St. Joseph Regional of New Jersey, the Hawks have the potential to reach the postseason for the first time since 2009, where they defeated Everett in the Division 1 Super Bowl. Offensively, look for a faster tempo with DeCarr spreading the ball around to a deep corps of receivers. The running game should be strong once again with Hurst, Taute and Brennan expected to shoulder the load. Defensively, the Michigan-bound Hurst leads a strong front seven, while many of the same faces at receiver will fill the slots in the secondary. The one major concern Stevenson has expressed over the offseason is whether his inexperienced offensive line, which returns just one starter in Gobbi, can grow up fast enough to withstand the pressure opponents are sure to bring at DeCarr.

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