Boston High School: Aaron Dyke

MHSFCA releases All-State Team

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
5:17
PM ET
The Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) released its "Super 26" All-State Team yesterday. Selections are below as follows:

OFFENSE

Quarterback
Zach Bartak, Greenfield, 6'1" 200
Mackay Lowrie, Roxbury Latin, 6'5" 210
Nick Peabody, Barnstable, 6’4" 225

Running Back
Vincent Burton, Blue Hills, 6’2” 200
Dylan Oxsen, Plymouth South, 5’9” 185
Quron Wright, Holy Name, 5’6” 165

Wide Receiver
Will Heikkinen, Andover, 6’1” 196
Brian O’Malley, St. Sebastian’s, 6’3” 195

Offensive Line
Aaron Dyke, Auburn, 6’4” 305
John Foster, Scituate, 6’5” 260
Rob Kosharek, Duxbury, 6’6” 265
Jack McDonald, B.C. High, 6’5" 275
John Montelus, Everett, 6’5" 325

DEFENSE

Defensive Line
Matt Comerford, Reading, 6’5” 275
Terrel Correia, Nantucket, 6’7” 275
Joe Previte, Brockton, 6’2” 260
Maurice Hurst, Xaverian, 6’2” 290

Linebacker
Cam Hanley, Walpole, 5’11” 210
Sha’ki Holines, Springfield Commerce, 6’4” 240
Zack Hume , Nashoba, 6’2” 235
Bryan Vieira, Thayer Academy, 6’3” 190

Defensive Back
Brendan Flaherty, Beverly, 6’1” 185
Kiivone Howard, Foxborough, 6’1” 185
Dylan Mann, Masconomet, 5’10” 180
Alex Moore, St. John’s Prep, 6’1” 195
Justin Mount, Westford Academy, 6’2” 205

ESPN Boston 2012 MIAA All-State Team

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
7:07
PM ET
OFFENSE
All-StateQB -- Nick Peabody, Sr., Barnstable
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound signal-caller led the Red Raiders to their most successful season in over a decade, claiming the Old Colony League title outright, holding the No. 1 spot in ESPNBoston.com's statewide poll for seven weeks, and falling to Everett, 20-19, in a thrilling Division 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. For the season, he threw for 2,627 yards and 34 touchdowns while also carrying the ball 73 times for 366 yards and seven more scores. He is considering several Division 1 FCS schools for college.

All-StateQB -- Drew Belcher, Jr., Reading
In two years as the Rockets' starter under center, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound dual-threat quarterback has gone 21-4, including two Middlesex League titles and a Division 2 Super Bowl championship this season. Through the air, he was very efficient, completing 107 of 169 passes for 1,710 yards, 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions. On the ground he was just as dangerous, carrying 138 times for 804 yards and 15 scores.

All-StateQB -- Troy Flutie, Jr., Natick
The son of Boston College legend Darren Flutie, the younger Flutie endured a record-setting 2012 campaign in leading the Redhawks to the Division 2A Super Bowl title game. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,153 yards and 35 touchdowns to just eight interceptions, and on the ground he carried 167 times for 1,075 yards and 14 more scores.

All-StateQB -- Andrew Smiley, Jr., St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Smiley took the starting job during the preseason following injuries, and in his first year running the Pioneers' "Blur" offense, he set the Central Mass. single-season record for passing yardage. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder completed nearly 62 percent of his passes for 3,123 yards and 25 touchdowns; on the ground, he carried 141 times for 1,023 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Pioneers also led the state in yards from scrimmage, averaging 442.2 yards per game.

All-StateRB -- Jonathan Thomas, Jr., St. John's Prep
The Catholic Conference's Offensive MVP established himself as one of the state's most dangerous in leading the Eagles to their first Division 1 Super Bowl title in 15 seasons. The 6-foot, 195-pound Salem resident carried 220 times for 1,794 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also added nine catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns, and defensively added 20.5 tackles and two interceptions. Thomas currently holds a scholarship offer from UMass, but more are sure to follow.

All-StateRB -- Quron Wright, Sr., Holy Name
The 5-foot-6, 165-pounder finished his career as the all-time leading rusher at both his school and in Central Mass. This fall, he totaled 3,199 yards from scrimmage and 38 touchdowns for the Naps, who made the postseason for an eighth straight year. That includes 35 rushing touchdowns and a state-best 2,254 rushing yards, as well as 806 return yards and two return touchdowns. For his career, Wright has 5,891 rushing yards and 2,659 return yards, to go along with 95 touchdowns (84 rushing, seven kickoff return, two receiving, two interception return).

All-StateRB -- Brendan Flaherty, Sr., Beverly
Considered the most dynamic back of the Panthers' vaunted three-pronged rushing attack, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Flaherty led the Panthers to the Division 2A Super Bowl title and their first undefeated season in 100 years. On the season, he carried 160 times for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns, and added 10 catches for 236 yards and four more scores.

All-StateRB -- Dylan Oxsen, Jr., Plymouth South
By far the state's most surprising breakthrough this fall, Oxsen took Eastern Mass. by storm as the Panthers qualified for postseason for the first time in the school's 30-year history. After recording just three touchdowns last fall, the 5-foot-8, 205-pounder exploded for a state-best 40 rushing touchdowns in 2012, to go along with over 2,100 yards on the ground.

All-StateWR -- Brian Dunlap, Soph., Natick
Already off to a remarkable start to his young varsity career, the 6-foot Dunlap led the state in receiving, with 86 catches for 1,570 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also had 34 carries for 301 yards and another score. In just two years of varsity, Dunlap already has record-pace receiving totals: 155 catches, 2,742 yards, 35 touchdowns.

All-StateWR -- Jakarrie Washington, Sr., Everett
The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder was as dangerous on the ground as he was through the air, as the Crimson Tide captured their third straight Super Bowl championship. He caught 33 passes for 439 yards and nine touchdowns, and on the ground had 75 carries for 697 yards and 15 more scores. Defensively, he also recorded two picks and two fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

All-StateWR -- Elijah Scott, Sr., Cambridge
Scott exploded into the spotlight following the Falcons' shootout loss to Everett, and stayed there for good. On the season, he recorded 73 catches for 1,047 yards and 11 touchdowns, the latter tying a school record, as the Falcons went 7-4 for their first winning season since 2007.

All-StateWR -- Dylan Morris, Sr., Barnstable
The 6-foot, 180-pounder established himself as one of the region's best deep-ball threats, as the Red Raiders reached their first Super Bowl since 1999. On the season, he recorded 33 catches for 716 yards and 13 touchdowns. Morris signed a National Letter of Intent with UMass last month, for baseball.
All-StateWR -- Will Heikkinen, Sr., Andover
Part of one of the most dynamic receiving corps in Eastern Mass., the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder led the Golden Warriors in receptions (67) and receiving yards (1,126), to go along with nine touchdowns as the Warriors reached the Division 1 playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

All-StateTE -- Terrel Correia, Sr., Nantucket
Another one of the state's surprise breakthroughs, the 6-foot-7, 270-pounder was a matchup nightmare for the Mayflower League. On the season, he led the 4-7 Whalers with 26 catches and 372 yards for five touchdowns. Correia is verbally committed to UMass, where he plans on converting to the offensive line.

All-StateOL -- John Montelus, Sr., Everett
The Notre Dame-bound left tackle concluded his Crimson Tide career as a three-time Super Bowl champion. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder started on each of those Everett championship teams and was a finalist, the first-ever lineman, for our Mr. Football Award. Montelus, who didn’t allow a sack in his high school career, will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.

All-StateOL -- Rob Kosharek, Sr., Duxbury
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound road-grading tackle was a key part of a Dragons' offensive line that fueled the team to a then state-best 37-game winning streak, that only ended in a Division 2 playoff game against Mansfield. Kosharek led the team in pancake blocks with 28, nearly doubling the amount of Duxbury's second leading blocker.

All-StateOL -- Aaron Dyke, Sr., Auburn
The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder was among the state's most punishing road graders, as the Rockets won their fifth straight Central Mass. Super Bowl title. With Dyke leading the way, Auburn once again went over 3,000 mark in rushing (3,155 yards, 10.1 yards per carry, 53 TD) and accumulated 66 total scores and nearly 4,000 yards of offense. They also outscored the opposition 468-84, with four shutouts, to go 13-0 and captured the Division 3 Super Bowl title.

All-StateOL -- Matt Comerford, Sr., Reading
Reading was one of the state's most dominant offenses in capturing its second Division 2 Super Bowl title in four years, and the 6-foot-4, 270-pounder made sure the Rockets won the line of scrimmage. The Rockets were one of the best rushing attacks (2,544 yards, six yards per carry, 34 TD) and totaled 4,272 yards from scrimmge with 56 touchdowns. Comerford is also a standout goaltender on the Rockets' lacrosse team.

All-StateOL -- Joe Previte, Sr., Brockton
The 6-foot-2, 260-pounder played the interior and was a force for the Boxers, allowing them to total over 3,000 yards rushing in their newly-installed flexbone attack. Behind Previte, the Boxers averaged 255.5 rushing yards per game, among the state's best, and returned to the Division 1 Super Bowl for the first time since 2009. Previte also recorded 35 tackles and a sack as a defensive tackle.

All-StateATH -- Tedaro France, Sr., Barnstable
A true three-phase contributor, the Red Raiders receiver and defensive back was considered by his peers the MVP of Barnstable’s run at a Div. 1A Super Bowl. France tallied 41 receptions for 884 yards and 13 receiving touchdowns. He also had 682 combined return yards for 1,600 yards all-purpose yards and 19 total touchdowns.

ATH -- David Harrison, Jr., Weymouth
Quarterback, running back, wide receiver, it didn't matter which role Kevin Mackin asked the versatile Harrison to play this season. Harrison finished second in Division 1 with 21 touchdowns scored while hauling in 12 touchdown passes and throwing for eight more scores.

All-StateK -- Jackson Bockhorst, Sr., BC High
A feared weapon, not only in the kicking game but with his kickoffs, Bockhurst has earned the reputation as one of the most consistent kickers in the state during the last several seasons. In 2012, Bockhurst connected on three field goals and 17 point-after tries for 26 points.

***

DEFENSE
All-StateDL -- Maurice Hurst, Sr., Xaverian
As the Catholic Conference's Lineman of the Year, Hurst was a dominant force in the middle, recording 51 tackles (23 for loss), 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception. Offensively, he also ran for 63 yards and five touchdowns as the Hawks' goal line running back. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Hurst is the state's No. 2 overall prospect, and will be heading to Michigan next year.

All-StateDL -- Jon Baker, Jr., Millis/Hopedale
Considered one of New England's top Class of 2014 prospects, Baker dominated the Tri-Valley League once again as the Mohawks made a second straight Division 4 playoff appearance. As a defensive tackle, he registered 78 tackles with four sacks, and was named the league's Lineman of the Year for the second straight season. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound Baker currently holds offers from UMass, UConn and Boston College.

All-StateDL -- Peter Ngobidi, Sr., Catholic Memorial
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Hyde Park resident established himself as one of the state's premier edge-setting defensive athletes, despite the Knights' struggles to a 2-8 campaign. Off the edge, he led the Knights in sacks (12), ranked second in tackles (68) and recorded three forced fumbles. Ngobidi will continue his career next fall at UMass.

All-StateDL -- Jeff Soulouque, Sr., Everett
Soulouque was a feared pass-rusher coming of the edge of the Crimson Tide defense which allowed just 12.6 points per game for the three-time defending Super Bowl champions.
All-StateLB -- Marshall McCarthy, Sr., Duxbury
Perhaps the most surefire tacklers in the state, McCarthy was the fulcrum of the Dragons' defense at his inside linebacker position. The 6-foot, 195-pounder led the team in tackles with 116 (79 solo), averaging nearly 10 tackles per game, and sacks with 12.5. He also had two forced fumbles and an interception.

All-StateLB -- Sha'ki Holines, Sr., Springfield Commerce
The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is bound for UConn next season and was capable in the pass rush and he is adept at stuffing the run. Holines also finished the season with two touchdowns on offense.
All-StateLB -- Zack Hume, Sr., Nashoba
The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder was one of the most feared linebackers across the state, as the Chieftains captured their second straight Central Mass. Division 2 Super Bowl title to extend their win streak to a state-best 26 games. Hume totaled 113.5 tackles on the season, giving him over 100 for the third straight year, with 10.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, a sack and an interception. Hume is also the two-time Defensive MVP of Mid-Wach B.

All-StateLB -- Andrew Ellis, Sr., Barnstable
Leading one of the state's most aggressive, athletic front sevens, the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder recorded over 100 tackles as the Red Raiders spent seven weeks at No. 1 in our statewide poll and reached their first Super Bowl since 1999. He had 105 tackles on the season, to go along with four interceptions and two forced fumbles.

All-StateLB -- Brad Schiff, Sr., Sharon
At just 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds, Schiff came away with the Defensive MVP award in the competitive Hockomock League. He recorded 174 tackles (17 for loss), four forced fumbles, a sack and an interception as the Eagles unexpectedly captured the Eastern Mass. Division 3 Super Bowl title in their first-ever postseason appearance. For his career, Schiff had 320 tackles (36 for loss), seven forced fumbles, three sacks and an interception.

All-StateLB -- Sean Smerczynski, Jr., St. John's Prep
The 5-foot-10, 216-pounder was an integral force for the Eagles as they captured their first Division 1 Super Bowl title in 15 seasons. On the year, he recorded 76 tackles, six tackles for loss, a sack and two fumble recoveries and was named a Catholic Conference All-Star.

All-StateDB -- Alex Moore, Sr., St. John's Prep
Earlier this week, Moore was named ESPN Boston's Mr. Football for the 2012 for his impact in all three phases of the game. On offense, he carried the ball 112 times for 857 yards and 14 touchdowns, and added a team-high 20 receptions for 455 yards and five more scores. Defensively, he recorded 67 tackles from the strong safety position, to go along with four forced fumbles, four interceptions (including a return for a TD) and five tackles for loss.

All-StateDB -- Micah Morel, Sr., Brockton
One of the top safeties in the state, Morel was also asked to play quarterback for several weeks when Austin Roberts was lost to injury for the Division 1 EMass Super Bowl finalists.
All-StateDB -- Jalen Felix, Sr., Everett
Playing lock-down corner, Felix tallied two interceptions for the three-time reigning Super Bowl champions. Felix also made his presence felt on the offensive side of the ball, leading the Crimson Tide in rushing with 684 yards for nine touchdowns. He also tallied three receiving touchdowns in addition to a kick return for a score.

All-StateDB -- Lucas Bavaro, Sr., St. John's Prep
The Dartmouth commit was one of the most hard-hitting forces in the state, playing a hybrid role of linebacker and free safety for the EMass Division 1 champion Eagles. Bavaro finished third on the Eagles with 46.5 tackles (41 solo), including five tackles for loss. He also tallied two interceptions, two forces fumbles, a fumble recovery and two punt blocks.

All-StateRET -- Cam Farnham, Sr., Andover
Always a big-play threat in the return game, Farnham was also a integral part of Andover's vaunted passing attack. The shifty speedster hauled in 11 touchdown receptions with two returns for a score.

Quick-hit thoughts from Thanksgiving football

November, 23, 2012
11/23/12
6:12
PM ET
1. The biggest thing that stood out to me from yesterday’s Natick-Framingham game was how efficient the Redhawks’ passing game remained despite limited touches by Brian Dunlap. The sophomore has an unheard-of 30 receiving touchdowns since his first varsity start last season, but for the first time in his career did not register a touchdown catch.

I posed this question to the Framingham defense in my pick Wednesday, and I’ll pose it again to Plymouth South -– how do you cover Brian Dunlap? But now, I’m wondering if bracketing or shading a safety to his side is even the best gameplan. The Natick coaching staff was pretty high on Alex Hilger before he missed most of the season with a broken collarbone, and yesterday we saw why. Athletically, he’s a terrific target who can stretch the field. Between Dunlap, Hilger and the recently-blooming Justin Robinson, it might be a case of "pick your poison".

Still, I think the key on Tuesday will be running back Nick Lee, who injured his ankle last month but looked solid yesterday. He told me yesterday his right ankle was “100 percent”, and anyone who watch Natick’s No. 9 win over Walpole knows that wasn’t the case.

***

2. You could make a pretty solid list of elite players sitting at home after Thanksgiving -– Xaverian’s Maurice Hurst Jr., Catholic Memorial’s Peter Ngobidi, Needham’s Mike Panepinto and Nantucket’s Terrel Correia come to mind. But the one I was really looking forward seeing was Amherst running back Kieran Presley, who ended his career yesterday with 175 rushing yards and two scores on just 10 carries in a 35-15 win over Northampton.

We profiled Presley after his ridiculous 359-yard performance in a Nov. 2 win over Chicopee, and you can argue he is playing his best ball right now. He finished with 1,009 yards on the season, but 684 of those yards have come in the last three weeks – including four scores of 56 yards or longer. Head coach David Thompson also says there is varying degrees of interest from a scattering of Division 1 FBS and FCS programs, including UConn, Albany, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and James Madison.

It looks like the Hurricanes finally got their zone-blocking scheme down midway through the season, but unfortunately they’ll be on the outside looking in. Just a hunch, Thompson has a good thing going forward with this program.

***

3. I said this on FOX 25 last night, and it bears mentioning again. For the most part, there isn’t an overwhelming favorite among any of the divisions in Eastern Mass. Out in Central Mass., Division 1 is wide open, and on paper Nashoba feels like the overwhelming favorite but this is a team that Doherty nearly upset earlier this season.

However, in Division 3 Central, it’s Auburn, Auburn, or Auburn. The Rockets are No. 9 in our statewide poll, and No. 1 in the Telegram & Gazette’s poll, for good reason. As a team, they’ve run for 2,863 yards and 44 touchdowns, with an average of 10 yards per carry, led by senior Tyler Desjardins (120 carries, 1,560 yards, 23 TD).

Much like USC’s student body right or Nebraska’s I-bone formation, there’s not a lot of trickeration to the domination – everybody knows what’s coming. The Rockets run primarily power sets with jumbo personnel, and have been blowing people off the ball all season. I’ve previously mused that in the past the Rockets have gotten by just on outweighing people at the point of attack (they average about 280 pounds across, after all), but this is a unit that seems to get more mobile every time out. All-State candidate Aaron Dyke is at the forefront of this, able to pull down and lead block on sweeps fluidly.

The rest of the field in Division 3 consists of Hudson, Tantasqua and Groton-Dunstable. To those three teams, I say good luck.

***

4. Sharon’s Dave Morse, Stoughton’s Greg Burke and Plymouth South’s Scott Fry are on many short lists for Coach of the Year, and deservedly so. But I think we should also consider Upper Cape’s Mike Hernon for any such nod. In just his second year at the helm, he has the Rams in the playoffs as Mayflower Small champs, with a 10-1 record. The Rams are one of the highest-scoring teams in Division 4A (28.1 points per game), and they have junior running back Jon Dumont to thank for that. He had an impressive start to the season (89 carries, 889 yards, 11 TD in his first five games), and is a hard north-south runner with 40 speed allegedly in the 4.5 range.

***

5. If Barnstable and Everett win out on Tuesday, then the Division 1A Super Bowl is by far the marquee game of the Gillette Stadium slate. Some of us -– myself included -– are probably wondering why that got the 3:30 p.m. slot instead of 6 p.m., which has been designated for Western Mass. Division 2. Especially considering the crowd for last year’s Western Mass. Super Bowl, an early-afternoon contest between Springfield Central and Longmeadow, was thoroughly a ghost town.

All of that considered, I might end up eating my words if Wahconah makes it. I had a conversation with noted Berkshire Eagle columnist Howard Herman the other day, and he assured me that if the Warriors make it to the Super Bowl, the town of Dalton “will shut down”. Hope he’s right.

Recap: No. 11 Auburn 39, Northbridge 7

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
2:18
AM ET


AUBURN, Mass. -– It was a win, but it was an Auburn win, and thus you know the drill by now.

“Usually that don’t happen, they gotta ask me first,” Rockets head coach Jeff Cormier shouted off in the distance with a chuckle as his star running back, Tyler Desjardins, was greeted by a reporter. “I’m gonna have to [discipline him].”

Desjardins retorted sheepishly, “I talked to Sull [assistant coach Sean Sullivan],” to which Cormier shot back a wisecrack with a look that was one part smile, one part Don’t you dare try anything stupid.

But really, when you run for 286 yards and three scores on just 11 carries, running behind a line that averages 280 pounds across and features Division 1 recruits, you have to be a special breed of na´ve not to defer due credit. It was the Desjardins show only on paper, as the Rockets rolled rival Northbridge 39-7; the proof was between the hashes.

“Our line, inside run, personally this is the best game they’ve played,” Desjardins said. “I can’t do anything except run behind them all game. I’m very proud of them.”

And what characterizes this as their best game?

“Hustle, always running to the play,” Desjardins said. “Always opening up the holes, the holes were fantastic today. I’ve never ran through bigger holes. My fullback [Bobby Sivret], awesome job. Our D, lockdown once again. I mean, it was just awesome. It was perfect.”

Behind the feared front five of Aaron Dyke, Will Greelish, Steve Domenick, Jordan Giampa and Matt Ramirez, the Rockets’ varsity put up 447 yards of offense against the Rams (7-2), with all but 14 yards coming on the ground. Desjardins led the way with 286 yards, while Sivret added 88.

Cormier shared similar sentiments to those of Desjardins.

“Tonight I thought was amongst their better efforts,” Cormier said of the line. “I give them credit. When things are on the line, and we’re trying to win a league championship...tonight was a real big game, and our kids showed up to play.”

The Rockets scored on their first two drives of the game, both on Desjardins scampers. The senior scored his first on a 21-yard dive up the middle, capping a five-play, 59-yard game-opening drive. Northbridge went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, but pinned a punt at the Rockets’ one yard line. No problem for Desjardins, as five plays into the drive he followed Sivret up an outside gap and took off for daylight, 75 yards for a score to cap a five-play, 99-yard drive.

Less than seven minutes into the contest, and Desjardins had already broken the 100-yard barrier.

“The line blocked out, and I just followed my fullback,” he said. “He set one clean block, open field, gone, it was perfect. That play could not have gone any [more] perfect.”

The Rockets tacked on another score from Mark Wright to go up 20-0 in the second quarter before Northbridge could respond, a four-yard quick slant from quarterback Matt Phelan to receiver Jake Ryan. But with five turnovers, the Rams struggled to sustain drives, all the while the Rockets marched up and down the field in unison.

Pick and Stick: Of the five turnovers committed by Northbridge, the backbreaker was Tim Bryan’s 70-yard interception return that made it 32-7 with a minute to go in the first half. For the most part, the Rockets’ defense did a good job funneling things to the middle of the field, where safeties like Bryan delivered some rattling hits on would-be receivers. Most of Northbridge's gains came on short drive routes, quick bubble screens to the sidelines, or scrambles up the middle from Phelan when flushed out of the pocket.

Bryan’s return was the creation of two key actions. First, Giampa came up through the A-gap and delivered a hit to Phelan’s midsection, resulting in an duck of a ball off Phelan’s fingertips, coming over the middle high and underthrown. After Bryan pounced on the ball, he broke for the near sideline, and senior linebacker Kyle Langer spung him loose for the final 50 yards with a great seal block.

“I said to Kyle, the collision was exceptional, but [the key] was more of putting himself in a position to make a good, clean hit to spring him loose," Cormier said. "I thought it was a great senior play.

“He’s a kid that’s been around a while, Langer has, and there are times you don’t take the right ankle, that’s a block on the side and it’s called. But he really got himself without question in front of him, and put a really good block on him, gave us a little more room for Tim Bryan to reach the end zone.”

AUBURN 39, NORTHBRIDGE 7

NBR (7-2) 0 7 0 0 --- 7
AUB (9-0) 12 20 7 0 --- 39


First Quarter
A – Tyler Desjardins 21 run (kick failed) 8:31
A – Desjardins 75 run (rush failed) 4:03

Second Quarter
A – Mark Wright 2 run (rush failed) 6:49
N – Jake Ryan 4 pass from Matt Phelan (Ryan kick) 2:43
A – Desjardins 75 run (rush failed) 2:30
A – Tim Bryan 70 interception return (rush failed) 1:07

Third Quarter
A – Dom DiCarlo 14 pass from Drew Goodrich (Desjardins kick) 8:01

No. 18 Auburn turns to its hefty line again

August, 23, 2012
8/23/12
6:04
PM ET
Auburn playersBrendan Hall Led by junior Will Greelish (second from left) and senior Aaron Dyke (third from left), No. 18 Auburn will once again boast one of the state's heaviest lines at nearly 280 pounds across.


AUBURN -– As a unit, they were among the state's most efficient, paving the way to more than 4,200 rushing yards, and among the biggest, averaging nearly 260 pounds across. Paired with a blend of power and finesse between four change-of-pace backs, it was a lethal combination that led to an unprecedented fourth straight Super Bowl championship for the Auburn Rockets.

All five starting offensive linemen return, now averaging nearly 280 pounds across, and the unit is comprised primarily of seniors with two or three years of varsity experience. And yet, true to the Belichickian mantra professed by head coach Jeff Cormier, it's as if they're right back at square one.

"We've got a ways to go," says senior Aaron Dyke, arguably the best of the bunch, and a preseason ESPN Boston All-State selection. "The whole team's got a long way to go. But we take it day by day."

If you've been to one Auburn practice in August, you've been to them all. Humility and brevity are the operative themes, and you can't argue with the method's success given the program's track record under Cormier. The only difference in 2012 is the absence of questions about their win streak, which was snapped at 41 last year to rival Shepherd Hill.

"Once we lost, we blew out every team," Dyke said. "But I know every team's coming back with more studs than they had last year. We bring back 27, but I know Holliston, Shrewsbury, Northbridge, they bring back everybody."

Says senior tackle Steve Domenick, "It's not really about going undefeated, it's about taking it one game at a time. We never focused on the whole streak thing, we just wanted to go out there every game and play some good football."

The Rockets graduated one of the state's most dynamic rushing tandems in the fleet-footed speedster Fred Taylor, now playing defensive back at Dean College, and Dan Flink, an ESPNBoston All-State selection now suiting up for Mass. Maritime Academy. Eric Desjardins is the only back returning with experience, and figures to take the lead role, but it should be a competitive training camp with Zach Clifford and Mark Wright.

Ideally, it would be a smooth transition. The Rockets consistently outweighed opponents at the point of attack in 2011, utilizing tight splits and combo blocks to nullify their opponents' top threats in the front seven. They were especially efficient on the right side with Dyke (6-foot-4, 295 pounds) and junior Will Greelish (6-foot-4, 325 pounds). Both have been receiving varied interest from an assortment Division 1 schools across the Northeast, including Boston College, UMass, UConn and Buffalo.

"I expect them to be very physical at the point of attack," Cormier said. "People know we're gonna run the football, which makes it that much more difficult to run the football. Those guys are gonna be under stress. There's going to be some pressure on those guys, with some young guys back there, they're gonna have to hold their blocks a little longer, move people a bit further. We're gonna have to compensate for our lack of experience at the running positions."

Defensively, where the Rockets have used odd fronts in the past, they will likely stay in a four-man front, given their size and depth in the trenches. As an added ripple, one of those key defensive linemen -- end Steve St. Jean -- will take on a new role this year as tight end.

St. Jean is an imposing figure at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, and is gaining interest from the MAC conference for track and field -- last spring, he finished third in New England in the shot put. It's still a work in progress, but if he adapts quickly he could leave Cormier with a favorable amount of options in the passing game for returning starting quarterback Drew Goodrich.

"He's trying to feel that out," Cormier said. "He didn't play tight end a year ago, so it's really square one, just trying to load him up with blocking assignments, kinda settle hiim in. But I think that he's pretty athletic as far as flexibility, and the possibility of options."

AUBURN AT A GLANCE
2011: 12-1, Won Division 3 Central Mass. Super Bowl
Coach: Jeff Cormier (14th season, 115-40)
Key Returnees: Aaron Dyke, Sr. OG/DL, 6-4, 295; Will Greelish, Jr. OT/DL, 6-4, 325 lbs.; Jordan Giampa, Sr. C, 6-2, 285 lbs.; Steve Domenick, Sr. OL/DL, 6-2, 250 lbs.; Matt Ramirez, Sr., OL/DL, 5-10, 240 lbs.; Steve St. Jean, Sr. TE/DE, 6-4, 245 lbs.; Tyler Simmons, Sr. TE/DL, 6-1, 220 lbs.; Avery Sweet, Sr. TE/DL, 6-2, 250 lbs.
Strengths: Size, experience at offensive and defensive lines
Weaknesses: Experience at skill positions
Outlook: The Rockets made headlines last season when their win streak, third-longest active in the nation, was snapped by Shepherd Hill. Then they made headlines again with their imposing line comprised entirely of underclassmen, led by Dyke and Greelish on the right side. As a unit, they are one of the state’s heaviest across, and with the graduation of its top two backs (Dan Flink, Fred Taylor) and wide receiver (Connor Fuller) that unit will be taking on an even bigger role. St. Jean brings a unique skill set to the offense this year, his first as tight end, with his athleticism allowing him to play in space in addition to supporting the run, and that has to be pleasing to Goodrich. If the line continues on last year’s success, when the Rockets ran for over 4,000 yards, then it should be a smooth transition for the new blood in the backfield.

ESPN Boston MIAA football All-State team

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
7:40
PM ET
OFFENSE
QB – Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr., Everett
Statistically the state’s best all-time quarterback, the ESPN Boston Mr. Football recipient finishes his storied career in Everett as the state’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (103) and passing yards (7,052). This season he broke his own state single-season record for TD passes (44), and threw for over 2,800 yards. In the last two seasons alone, both perfect Super Bowl-winning campaigns, he threw for 87 touchdown passes to better the previous state all-time mark of 85. DiBiaso is undecided on college plans.

QB – Matt O’Keefe, Sr., Duxbury
In his first season as the full-time starter under center, the Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit was a finalist for ESPN Boston’s Mr. Football award. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder totaled nearly 3,000 yards from scrimmage, throwing for 2,321 yards, rushing for another 670, and totaling 39 scores. O’Keefe, a defender for the defending Division 1 state champion Dragons, is currently ranked as the No. 32 overall lacrosse player in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU.

QB – Matt Montalto, Sr., Dennis-Yarmouth
The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder led the Dolphins to their best season in school history, finishing a perfect 13-0 campaign by winning the Division 2A Super Bowl title – their first championship of any kind in the Super Bowl era. For the season he completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,065 yards and 25 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also carried 134 times for 1,219 yards and 16 more scores. Montalto is fielding various college interest, including, New Hampshire, Albany, Colgate, Brown, Sacred Heart and Bentley.

QB – Michael Walsh, Sr., Swampscott
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was a force on both sides of the ball for the 9-2 Big Blue, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,129 yards and 25 touchdowns to go along with 930 rushing yards and 13 more scores. Defensively, he totaled 47 tackles from the free safety position, forcing three fumbles and making two interceptions. Walsh will continue his career next fall at Brown as a safety.

RB – Melquawn Pinkney, Sr., Springfield Putnam
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Mr. Football finalist ended his career with the Beavers in record-breaking fashion. With 341 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 48-6 win over Commerce for the Division 2 Super Bowl title, Pinkney broek Cedric Washington’s 15-year-old state all-time record for single-season yardage (2,889), and set the new state single-season mark for rushing touchdowns (43). Earlier in the season, Pinkney set a Western Mass single-game record with 421 rushing yards in a win over Agawam. For the season, he averaged 8.4 yards a carry. Pinkney is currently undecided on college plans.

RB – Sacoy Malone, Sr., Springfield Central
Both Malone and his cross-town foil Pinkney eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark on the season, as the Eagles returned to the Western Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl for the second straight year. On the season, Malone had 257 carries for 2,001 yards and 22 touchdowns; since the start of the 2010 season, he’s accumulated over 3,200 yards and 35 touchdowns. The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Malone is currently fielding interest from several Division 1 FCS schools.

RB – George Craan, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
Craan, the reigning Dual County League MVP, was the catalyst for the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl-winning season. He followed up a 1,900-yard junior season with just as explosive numbers in 2011, carrying 220 times for 1,761 yards and 24 touchdowns, as the Patriots went 13-0. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Craan is currently undecided on college plans.

RB – Charles Ruffin, Sr., King Philip
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder is the second Warrior in four seasons to capture Hockomock League Offensive Player of the Year honors. On the season he amassed over 1,300 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and led the Warriors to their first postseason berth of the Super Bowl era. Ruffin, who also stars in lacrosse and track and field, is currently fielding interest from several Division 1 schools.

TE – Mark Riley, Sr., Needham
One of several All-Staters previously known most for their lacrosse exploits, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was a force to be reckoned with for the 9-4 Rockets. Utilized as both a receiver and tight end, Riley caught 72 balls for 1,266 yards and a school record 15 touchdowns. He is currently undecided on college plans, but fielding Division 1 interest in lacrosse.

TE – Jameson McShea, Sr., BC High
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Temple commit didn’t put up eye-opening numbers in the passing game, but his support in the running game was without peer as he helped paved the way for both Preston Cooper and Deontae Ramey-Doe. As a defensive end, he recorded 68 tackles (12 for loss) and was named the Catholic Conference’s Lineman of the Year.

WR – Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr., Weymouth
One of the state’s best deep-ball threats, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder tallied 936 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns for the 9-2 Wildcats this fall. Since the start of his junior season, Bailey-Smith has caught over 2,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. He is also a state champion in track and field, having cleared 6-foot-10 in the high jump. Bailey-Smith is fielding interest from Division 1 schools.

WR – Gordon McLeod, Sr., BC High
One of the most versatile threats on the Eagles’ Division 1 Super Bowl champion squad, McLeod was one of the leading receivers in Eastern Mass., with 755 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns as they captured their second title in four seasons.


WR – Don Webber, Sr., Duxbury
Considered one of the state’s best route-runners, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was the 13-0 Dragons’ most dangerous weapon in space. Webber led the team with 52 receptions for 776 yards and 11 touchdowns, as the Dragons won a second consecutive Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium and extended the state’s longest winning streak to 26 games. Webber is leaning towards the Ivy League for college plans.

WR – Malcolm Brown, Sr., Pope John XXIII
Statistically, the 6-foot-1 Brown graduates from the Everett campus as one of the state’s most decorated receivers of all-time. This fall he caught 71 passes to set school records of 1,306 yards and 20 touchdowns, both tops in the state. He also racked up 918 return yards and three touchdowns, ran for 328 yards, and threw for another 267. Defensively, he recorded 65 tackles (10 for loss) and three interceptions, including a pick-six. For his career, he has 192 receptions for 3,447 yards and 44 touchdowns, and 56 total scores. Brown currently has interest from schools in the Northeast-10 and MEAC conferences.

OL – Andrew VanderWilden, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
At 6-foot and 245 pounds, VanderWilden was arguably one of the most efficient pound-for-pound centers in the state. He led a Patriots rushing attack that racked up 53 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards the ground, part of one of the state’s highest scoring averages (35.4). VanderWilden, a two-time Dual County League Lineman of the Year, will continue his career at Brown next fall.

OL – Keith Sullivan, Sr., Oliver Ames
The 6-foot-9, 300-pounder was arguably the most crucial two-way player for the Tigers’ historic run, winning their first Hockomock title since 1964 and qualifying for their first championship game of the Super Bowl era. Sullivan is currently undecided on college plans, but fielding Division 1 interest.


OL – John Montelus, Jr., Everett
DiBiaso’s blind side is quickly rising as one of New England’s top Class of 2013 prospects. The last two seasons the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has allowed DiBiaso to throw 87 touchdown passes and keep his jersey clean. Montelus received four offers before his 16th birthday this fall, and counts UConn, Syracuse, NC State, Virginia and Boston College.

OL – Gordon Acha, Sr., Duxbury
Acha, the Dragons’ left tackle, was named ESPN Boston’s inaugural Lineman of the Year this week after helping pave the way to a second straight 13-0 season. The Dragons averaged 302 yards of offense and had 36 touchdown passes. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Acha is currently fielding interest from Division 1 schools, including Boston College and Maryland.

OL – Rob Kosharek, Jr., Duxbury
Together with Acha, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Kosharek created one of the state’s best tandems on the left side of the 13-0 Dragons’ line. Behind Kosharek at left guard, the Dragons won their second straight Division 2 Super Bowl title and rang their winning streak up to a state-best 26 games.


ATH – Geeavontie Griffith, Sr., Boston Cathedral
The 12-1 Panthers experienced one of the state’s most dramatic turnarounds under first-year head coach Duane Sigsbury, and leading the charges was Griffith. The 5-foot-7, 175-pound Randolph native carried 152 times for 2,244 yards and 29 touchdowns, as the Panthers advanced to the Division 4A Super Bowl. He is currently undecided on college plans.

ATH – Armani Reeves, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Don’t let the Mr. Football finalist’s limited touches fool you. Reeves, a Penn State commit and the state’s No. 1 overall prospect, was electric practically every time he touched the ball. He ran for 1,001 yards on just 46 touches, caught another 205, and returned a punt for a touchdown to total 15 scores for the 7-2 Knights. That averages out to almost a touchdown every three touches.

K – Jules Murphy, Sr., Xaverian
Murphy has been known to regularly hit from 40 yards and further, and while he didn’t have many opportunities this season, he was a near-perfect 27-of-28 on extra points. Murphy is undecided on college plans.


DEFENSE
DL – Ralph Jonathas, Sr., Everett

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was a mainstay of the Crimson Tide's back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams and a defense that allowed just over 12 points per game this season. Jonathas has received interest from multiple Division 1 programs, but is undecided on college plans.


DL – Brendan Battles, Sr., Nauset
At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, the UConn commit was one of the most feared defensive presences in the state. But the bruising lineman also did double time, serving as the play-caller in Nauset's single wing offense, paving the way as the lead blocker out of the backfield. Battles also won the Division 1 and All-State wrestling crowns in the 215-pound divsion, advancing to the New England finals.

DL – Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr., Xaverian
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle was a physical presence in the middle of the Hawks defense. Hurst finished the season with 61 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Hurst also showed off his athleticism in one of the more improbable performances of the season, rushing for over 200 yards in the Hawks' win over St. John's of Shrewsbury, including an awe-inspiring 75-yard touchdown run.

DL – Henry Bumpus, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
The 6-foot-6, 218-pound defensive end was one of the more imposing physical presences in the state, as well as an important part of C-C's rushing attack at tight end. The senior captain helped to guide the Patriots to a Division 3 Super Bowl championship. A feared rusher off the edge, Bumpus finished with 9.5 sacks and 66 tackles. He also nabbed four interceptions on the season. Bumpus will attend Brown University next year.

LB – Tim Joy, Sr., Chelmsford
The Boston College-bound 'backer was the heart and soul of the Lions defense, leading the team with 155 tackles, including eight for a loss and three sacks. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder also had an interception in addition to three passes defensed. Joy was also a steady contributor to Chelmsford's offense, as a punishing lead blocker at full back in front of running back Eddie Sheridan.

LB – Luke Catarius, Jr., BC High
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder lead the Eagles in tackles, despite playing 10 regular season games with 129 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss. Catarius was also a mainstay of BC High's offense, providing lead blocks at fullback in front of Preston Cooper and Deontae Ramey-Doe for the Division 1 Super Bowl champions.

LB – Vondell Langston, Sr., Everett
The Crimson Tide senior captain was an integral part of Everett's offensive and defensive units in each of their back-to-back Super Bowl championship seasons. As a linebacker, Langston was tough against the ran and a threat to drop back in coverage, coming away with three interceptions on the season. Langston tallied 15 touchdowns on the season at running back. He is undecided on his college choice.

LB – Cam Williams, Sr., Catholic Memorial
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker was named one of 50 national finalists for the high school Butkus Award, honoring the nation's top linebacker. The Penn State commit totaled 119 tackles (81 solo), including 18 tackles for loss. Wiliams was also effective in pass defense with an interception and seven passes defensed.

LB – Nick Schlatz, Sr., Bridgewater-Raynham
The Trojans' senior captain was part of a dynamic 1-2 punch at running back along with Brandon Morin, totaling nine touchdowns. Schlatz was the fulcrum of Bridgewater-Raynham's defense, which allowed just under 14 points per game this season.


LB – Dan Flink, Sr., Auburn
Flink was the heart of the Rockets' defense, which surrendered just over 10 points per game this season. He totaled 141 tackles, including 27 tackles for loss, along with seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and eight sacks. Flink played running back with the same mentality he brought to his play at linebacker with 1,393 yards and 27 touchdowns in his senior season. The three-year starter was part of four Super Bowl championship teams at Auburn and is looking to study at Mass Maritime Academy next year.

DB – James Burke, Sr., Duxbury
The senior captain was a stalwart in the Dragons' defense in their back-to-back Super Bowl titles. The 6-foot, 165-pounder formed a vicious safety duo along with Reilly Naton and led the secondary with 76 total tackles (50 solo) and had three interceptions with nine passes defensed. Also a standout on Duxbury's state-title winning lacrosse team, Burke has signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Penn State.

DB – Quinton Perkins, Sr., Fitchburg
The 6-foot, 170-pound wideout and safety was one of the most dynamic talents in the state, nevermind Central Mass. Perkins, who holds offers from UConn and UMass-Amherst, tallied 35 tackles and two interceptions on defense. He racked up 20 total touchdowns with 10 rushing, nine passing and a kickoff return. Perkins also racked up over 1,300 all-purpose offensive yards. He also racked up 200 all-purpose offensive yards and three touchdowns in the Red Raiders' playoff loss to Leominster.

DB – Casey DeAndrade, Sr., East Bridgewater
The University of New Hampshire commit was one of the most electrifying offensive talents in the state this year, but also played lock-down corner for the Vikings. DeAndrade tallied one interception in his senior season to push his career total to 11, a testament to opponents' weariness in throwing in his direction. The multi-talented athlete tallied 22 touchdowns with nearly 1,400 all-purpose offensive yards.

DB – Obi Melifonwu, Sr., Grafton
The UConn commit was a big-play threat on both sides of the football for Grafton, leading the Indians with three interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder also ran for nearly 1,400 yards in a shortened season along with 17 touchdowns.


RET – Chucky Ortiz, Sr. Woburn
Ortiz was a jack of all trades while taking MVP honors of the Middlesex League Large division. In racking up 24 touchdowns, Ortiz tallied two pick-sixes, and a pair punt returns and kick returns for scores. Ortiz had six interceptions on defense while finishing a shade under 1,200 rushing yards. He also handled place kicking duties for the Tanners, connecting on 15 PATs and one field goal.

Best of the Rest
A.J. Baker, Sr. WR, Swampscott
Dan Barone, Sr. QB, Holliston
Vincent Burton, Sr. RB, Blue Hills
Kenny Calaj, Jr. WR, Everett
Andrew Coke, Sr. RB, Andover
Preston Cooper, Sr. RB, BC High
A.J. Doyle, Sr. QB, Catholic Memorial
Brian Dunlap, Fr. WR, Natick
Aaron Dyke, Jr. OL, Auburn
Andrew Ellis, Jr. LB, Barnstable
Joe Epps, Sr. RB, Bourne
Theo France, Sr. RB, Barnstable
Brett Harrington, Sr. DL, Chelmsford
Jack Harris, Sr. TE, Lincoln-Sudbury
Greg Heineman, Sr. QB, Minnechaug
Damion Johnson, Sr. WR, Dennis-Yarmouth
Jordan Keli'inui, Sr. RB, Mashpee
Thomas Kleyn, Sr. LB, Concord-Carlisle
Zack Hume, Jr. LB, Nashoba
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica
Cam McLevedge, Sr. QB, Weymouth
Reilly Naton, Sr. S, Duxbury
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow
Mike Prendeville, Sr. OG, BC High
Will Quigley, Sr. RB, Marblehead
Deontae Ramey-Doe, Sr. RB, BC High
Max Randall, Sr. LB, Duxbury
Zack Schafer, Sr. LB, Mansfield
Eddie Sheridan, Sr. RB, Chelmsford
Jarod Taylor, Jr. RB, Mashpee
Shawn Whouley, Sr. WR, Weymouth

What We Learned: Week 3

September, 27, 2011
9/27/11
10:14
AM ET
THE MYTH OF KENNY
By day, he's just an unassuming high school student. Come Friday night, he's a legend.

Beverly running back Kenny Pierce inspired some tall tales while racking up five touchdowns in the Panthers' come-from-behind 36-35 win over Lynn English. The hashtag #KennyPierce had Twitter abuzz on Friday night.

"I wanted to get it trending," tech savvy athletic director James Coffey said Monday at the high school.

While the myth of Pierce's performance, which was highlighted by an 81-yard touchdown return for a score, continues to grow, all the mild-mannered running back was concerned with was next week's game against Winthrop. For the returning Division 3 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl champions, it's just another test in getting back to where they want to be.

"We had everybody rooting against us last year," said Pierce of the Panthers who entered postseason play at 5-6 last season, "that just motivated us more. We just want to get back there."

SO FAR, SO CLOSE, SO UNDERRATED

Melquawn Pinkney’s performance for Putnam Friday night is the stuff of instant legend: 17 carries, 421 yards, six touchdowns.

The undersized speedster was the catalyst Friday for a Putnam squad that is quickly erasing that “underrated” moniker, coming four yards short of the state record in his eye-popping performance (Lynn English’s Brandon Guy went for 425 in a 2001 win over Swampscott).

The Beavers debut at No. 20 this week in our statewide MIAA poll, and it’s a recognition well-deserved. Some wonder if these guys are on par with Longmeadow – we’ll have to give it a few more weeks before we jump to that conclusion.

But back to Pinkney – just how underrated are these guys?

“Springfield as a whole is underrated. I guess they don’t think our players are as good or as talented, but we’ve got some good players coming out of here.”

He continued, “I went to a lot of showcases over the summer time, and I hung with the best of them.”

SHOCKING THE HOCK

Two of the state’s strongest two-tier conferences already find themselves full of twists and turns after a weekend full of surprises.

Stoughton provided the upset of the weekend when the Black Knights faced a Mansfield squad that had been averaging 33.5 points per game and promptly shut them out, 8-0. The Knights held a slim 3-0 lead headed into the fourth quarter, then tacked on a safety and last-minute field goal to preserve the shutout.

Did we see this coming? No. Were were totally shocked? As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in between. Take note of the youth on the squad, and pay attention to the secondary featuring juniors Marcus Middleton and Aaron Calixte. The latter is already known on the hardwood, ranked as one of the top junior point guards in New England; but on a whole, this is a unit that sticks out on film for its athleticism.

With King Philip off to a dominating start on defense (4.6 points per game allowed) and North Attleborough being its usual self; combined with promise from Foxborough and Oliver Ames; and the wild card that is Attleboro; this is far from the last upset. Fasten your seat belts.


NEW-LOOK TROJANS
If you weren't paying attention, you might not have recognized the Bridgewater-Raynahm offense in the Trojans' 28-15 win over Marshfield on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeDuxbury
Jim Tarbox Reilly Naton leads a No. 2 Duxbury's defense, which Bridgewater-Raynham head coach Dan Buron calls the best he's ever seen.
After struggling to move the ball on the ground during their first offensive series, Trojans head coach Dan Buron made the decision to flex out hard-nosed running back Nick Schlatz out wide. Without Schlatz to key on the in backfield, B-R diversified it's approach, putting the ball in fellow running back Branden Morin's hands as well as letting quarterback Brad Deluliis make plays with his feet.

The spread look, which included four-receiver sets and some trips alignments, is a far cry from the meat and potatoes I-form rushing attack common at B-R.

“We’ve been doing it a little the last couple of years … with [Brad] Deluliis, Mike Connolly and even Billy Zolga last year, we spread it out and threw a little bit more,” Buron said. “But now what we’ve done is split Nick Schlatz out there and then we have Arcel Armstead, who’s a pretty good running back, too, on the other side, so people have to worry about them because they’re good receivers, too.”

Subtle adjustments like those have gotten the Trojan offense back on track after having a shutout thrown at them by Duxbury on opening night.

Though Buron was not without some weighty praise for the No. 2 Dragons and their swarming defense.

"That's the best defense I've ever seen," Buron said. "We were just trying to get out of there alive."

AUBURN’S O-LINE AMONG STATE’S BEST

With true Belichickian aesthetic, Auburn head coach Jeff Cormier tends to err on the side of caution when giving out praise. Compliments aren’t exactly handed out like candy on Auburn Street – and honestly, when you’ve won a state-best 40 straight games, why change?

When pressed about making it 40 straight following Friday’s 35-6 domination of St. Peter-Marian, “We’re 3-0” was the repeated theme amongst coaches and players alike. But holding back on praise for the big guys in the trenches continues to be an upwardly difficult journey.

Tell you what, we’re not afraid to say it anymore.

Auburn –- yes, Auburn, the birthplace of the modern rocket, tucked away neatly beneath the I-290 loop -– boasts one of the best offensive lines in the state. Doesn’t matter if they’re in Central Mass Division 3, or one of the power conferences in Eastern Mass. As a unit, they’re already one of the biggest around, averaging 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds across. But what separates them from some of the state’s other beefy lines is their surgery.

There’s a significant difference between outweighing your opponent at the point of attack and overpowering them, and the Rockets certainly fall into the latter. Line coach Dana Giampa deploys an aggressive zone-blocking scheme (think Shanahan-era Broncos) that his players ran to near perfection on Friday night. Star SPM defensive end Jordan Knowles found himself out of the play most of the night, after factoring significantly in the Guardians’ first two wins over Shepherd Hill and Fitchburg.

The unit of tackles Steve Domenick and Will Greelish; guards Matt Ramirez and Aaron Dyke; and center Jordan Giampa, paved the way for 462 rushing yards by the varsity, including 191 from Dan Flink.

"I think our offensive line is starting to come along, and I give a lot of credit to Dana Giampa for that, really working with those kids.” Cormier conceded after the game. “They trust in what he's teaching."

Said running back Fred Taylor, "Our line stepped up big. Everybody basically had their A-game."

Time to start taking these guys seriously.

And by the way, what’s scarier, the rushing totals reminiscent of 90’s Nebraska, or the fact that the line is entirely comprised of juniors and sophomores?

Recap: No. 9 Auburn 35, No. 19 SPM 6

September, 24, 2011
9/24/11
1:33
AM ET



AUBURN, Mass. -- Talk about well-coached.

The No. 9 Auburn Rockets reached a milestone tonight in a dominant 35-6 win over No. 19 St. Peter-Marian, extending its state-best win streak to 40 games, good for third-longest active streak in the nation. Not only was it a stellar performance by the Rockets' front four -- which pressured the Guardians (2-1) and their star quarterback Steve Flynn into two interceptions, and held SPM to 83 yards of offense in the first half -- but the Rockets turned in arguably one of the season's most impressive rushing performances.

Behind a steady four-pronged attack of running backs Dan Flink (15 carries, 191 yards, 2 TD), Bobby Sivret (12 carries, 106 yards, 2 TD), Fred Taylor (five carries, 79 yards) and Tyler Desjardins, the varsity of the Rockets (3-0) racked up 462 rushing yards on the Guardians. They set the tone right from the get-go when on the second play of the game, Flink slipped inside of a kickout block from Aaron Dyke and ran a tackle-lead counter 70 yards straight up the gut, all the way down to the five, setting up Drew Goodrich's four-yard scamper two plays later.

"It was a great play, the offensive line did exactly what they had to do," Flink said, adding with a laugh, "I just wish I had some breakaway speed to finish it off."

Three plays into SPM's ensuing drive, Flink came up with an interception on the right sideline, setting up an easy 35-yard scoring drive, punctuated with a six-yard plunge by Flink for a 13-0 score with less than six minutes played.

That set the tone the rest of the way. And in the post-game, the Rockets spoke like a team that not only expected to win, but knew exactly how to act and what they were going to tell reporters.

"I mean, once again, we're just 3-0 right now," Flink smiled.

Said Auburn head coach Jeff Cormier, "We're at three, and we're looking for four next week, and our second one at home. Then hopefully we can get our fourth win next week, and keep rolling."

Longfellow couldn't have said it better.

Some key points from the game:

What a wagon: When informed that his varsity racked up 462 yards on the ground, Cormier cracked, "We're giving Brady a run for his money, huh?"

No matter how you cut it, 462 is the number that sticks out most in this game. Anchored by tackles Steve Domenick and Will Greelish; guards Matt Ramirez and Aaron Dyke; and center Jordan Giampa, the Rockets had their way with the St. Pete front seemingly all night. A group comprised entirely of underclassmen that averages roughly 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds across, they gave the appearance of a unit that has been together for three years, not one.

"Our line stepped up big," Taylor said. "Everybody basically had their A-game."

How difficult is it to prepare for a unit Auburn's? The Rockets ran a fair amount of double-tight jumbo sets tonight, with ends Mykal Diaz and Eric Chionchio providing even more of a mismatch; and with line splits anywhere between one to six inches, that took away some blitz packages right off the bat.

The Guardians saw this tight-split look last week when they took down Shepherd Hill and its vaunted double-wing scheme, but still found themselves outmatched in this one.

"Number one, they're huge, they're the biggest team in Central Mass," SPM head coach Tom Henrickson said. "But they're foot-to-foot and they don't have any gaps. And the backs just bounce off of them, they wait and see a hole and read. It's all zone blocking. They do a great job at that, they're well-coached."

As noted above, the Rockets kept things fresh in the backfield by platooning four running backs. By the second quarter, the wear and tear was evident, as the speedy Taylor danced his way to runs of 25, 22 and 18, totaling 74 yards rushing in that stanza. Flink then made another long run, this time for a score, as he followed a convoy up the left sideline on a sweep before throwing a stiffarm and cutting sharply back towards the hashmarks, coasting into the end zone for a 42-yard score that made it 28-6.

"We've got stuff we've got to work on, but I'm very proud of our kids' effort," Cormier said. "I think I'm going to be very proud of their execution once we look at it on film, and I was very pleased that they were very physical, they flew to the football. I thought we had a lot of guys that got in the game. We were able to use our depth a little bit.

"I think our offensive line is starting to come along, and I give a lot of credit to Dana Giampa for that, really working with those kids. They trust in what he's teaching."

Nullifying Knowles: One of the keys when devising a game plan against SPM is finding a way to neutralize senior defensive end Jordan Knowles, considered one of the region's better pass rushers. Through the first two games he registered 18 tackles and two sacks, but tonight the Rockets did a terrific job keeping him out of the play.

When the Rockets weren't running away from him, they were flushing him away from the point of attack with double teams and chips. When he ripped across Greelish's face and charged the 6-foot-4, 305-pound sophomore's inside gap, the play usually ended up bouncing to the outside, just out of his grasp.

"He's a real good player -- especially if you run away from him, he can run you down from the backside," Cormier said of Knowles. "We were really aware of him on the pass rush, trying to get outside him. We didn't think we'd be able to do that, we we tried to get up inside him, maybe trap him a little bit. But he made his plays. You know he's gonna make his plays, it's just, can you let him make those plays where it doesn't kill you, it only hurts you?"

Stout front seven: Defensively, the Rockets brought the heat tonight. Steve St. Jean and Diaz brought pressure off the edges, while Lincoln Bois found his way in the backfield on blitzes; meanwhile, Flink was efficient supporting both the run and pass.

The key, much like the run game, might have been the continuous rotation of fresh bodies.

"I thought we did a nice job of rolling guys through," Cormier said. "We had some fresh legs in there. I bet you we had up to 10, 12 kids get in there on the defensive line. We were always fresh, so you had guys getting limited reps but giving 100 percent at it. Sooner or later, if you can stay close, I think that wears on people. And I give [defensive line coach Scott Mills] a lot of credit for utilizing the depth that he has there."

Flash of promise? For all the troubles the Guardians ran into, they still managed to pull off one of the plays of the game. Late in the third quarter, sophomore wideout Noah Burke found himself in a one-on-one matchup with Taylor and took him deep down the right sideline on a chair route; quarterback Steve Flynn hit him with a laser, and Burke extended for a one-handed grab, scathing into the end zone untouched for a 69-yard score.

Flynn had his troubles tonight, with two interceptions. But at 6-foot-5, nearly 240 pounds, and equipped on the mound with a fastball that clocks in the mid-80's, he shows plenty of potential and isn't afraid to air it out.

Of Burke's catch, Henrickson said with a chuckle, "He's a great athlete. That was a hell of grab, he makes those in practice. I'm just glad...if he coulda caught it with two, thank God he didn't miss it with one because I would have reamed him."

Trickery peeks its head: The 'Wildcat' fad may have run its course at the pro level, but at Auburn it's still alive. Twice in the first half the Rockets lined up in an unbalanced shotgun formation with two tight ends and two split ends, with Taylor taking a direct snap. Taylor had a potential touchdown pass batted away in the back of the end zone; the other time they lined up, he rolled to the left and changed direction twice before coming up with a 25-yard gain.

AUBURN 35, ST. PETER-MARIAN 6

SPM (2-1) --- 0 0 6 0 - 6
AUB (3-0) --- 13 8 7 7 - 35

First quarter
A - Drew Goodrich 4 run (Steve St. Jean kick) 8:43
A - Dan Flink 6 run (rush failed) 5:29

Second quarter
A - Bobby Sirvet 4 run (Flink run) 6:43

Third quarter
S - Noah Burke 69 pass from Steve Flynn (pass failed) 3:28
A - Flink 42 run (St. Jean kick) :21.7

Fourth quarter
A - Servit 15 run (St. Jean kick) 5:15

Recap: No. 10 Auburn 14, No. 25 Holliston 13

September, 17, 2011
9/17/11
2:31
AM ET


HOLLISTON, Mass. -- Friday night’s battle of Top 25s Auburn and Holliston could have been viewed more by what didn’t happen rather than what filled up the box score.

A fumble that cost a potential touchdown, a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown whistled back by a penalty and a possible fumble on the final play of the game helped to shape No. 10 Auburn’s 14-13 escape from Holliston High.

But games are played in reality, not in the subjunctive and the Rockets did just enough to extend their winning streak to 39 games, the third longest active streak in the nation.

Even though the Rockets still don’t talk about it.

“We look at it as two in a row now,” Auburn running back Dan Flink said after the Rockets ran their record to 2-0.

Flink terrorized the Panthers’ defense to the tune of 156 yards on 28 carries while accounting for both of Auburn’s scores, with touchdown runs of 16 and 30 yards. Running behind an offensive line that averages over 250 pounds, anchored by junior guard Aaron Dyke, the Rockets were able to set the tone and pace of the game.

“As athletic and spread out and dangerous as their skilled kids are, as good as they are, we were hoping we’d be able to grind the ball a little bit, chew the clock up and limit their possessions,” Auburn head coach Jeff Cormier said. “But, again, their defense in the second half gave us more three-and-outs than we wanted.”

As much as Auburn dictated the complexion of the game, the weren’t able to stop Holliston (1-1) from jumping out to a 7-0 lead on a 7-yard touchdown run by quarterback Dan Barone (18 carries, 90 yards) with 1:16 to play in the first.

However, the Rockets responded with an 11-play, 67-yard drive to tie the score.

On the ensuing possession, the Panthers marched down the field again with Barone reaching the end zone on a 2-yard keeper up the middle, but the point after try was blocked by Auburn’s Mykal Diaz and Mike Lavin.

Flink scored again before the half was out from 30 yards out to give the Rockets their final margin of victory.

“We wanted to have long drives and we knew that we wanted to be physical with them and we knew that their offense was very explosive,” Flink said. “We did it, we executed well.”

The Holliston defense tightened up in the second half, forcing the Rockets to turn over the ball on downs in their first possession. But the Panthers’ promising drive following the defensive stop fizzled after a fumble.

Holliston was dealt another blow on what would have been a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown by Barone. The play was called back after a block in the back penalty. The resulting Panther drive ended with a punt.

As time began to click away, Auburn tried to run out the clock.

Although there was one final moment of intrigue on the Rockets’ final play from scrimmage, a rush by Fred Taylor. Taylor was met by the Panther line and, after a scrum developed, a Holliston player emerged with the football. However, officials had blown the play dead before the strip occurred.

“It was just wasn’t meant to be,” Holliston head coach Todd Kiley said.

And a few more thoughts:

-Cormier was pleased by his team’s ability to answer both of Holliston’s early scores. It was clear from the beginning the Rockets intended to play a ball-control game and letting the Panthers’ offense out of its cage would have spelled an end to that.

-That being said, Cormier stressed that there’s room for improvement. He cited the Rockets’ inability to put together a sustained drive (like the two Odysseyian drives of the first half) to end the game as a sore spot. But there were other bright spots. “I thought our special teams were good,” Cormier said. “That was the difference in the ball game, blocking the PAT.”



-From Holliston’s perspective, it’s tough to tell if this was a glass half-full or half-empty type of game. Kiley was encouraged by his team’s performance in a ‘playoff-like atmosphere,’ but being so close to ending the Rockets’ prolific streak, which now stands just 13 games shy of Acton-Boxborough’s state record, has to sting. Kiley was democratic when asked postgame about the flag which called back Barone’s return, but added it looked like a block in the side from his perspective. “We’ll look at the flim and we’ll learn from this,” Kiley said.

Streak in focus, No. 13 Auburn weathers hype

August, 30, 2011
8/30/11
11:07
PM ET
AUBURN, Mass. -- In Jeff Cormier's decade-long tenure at the helm of Auburn High football, he's seen the program take on a life of its own, becoming a galvanizing charm in this town rich with history, as they've racked up back-to-back-to-back Central Mass Super Bowl titles.

In this Worcester suburb -- the birthplace of Robert Goddard, creator of the first liquid-fueled rocket -- its baseball program has Mike Paradis, and it has recent first-round draft pick Tyler Beede. Basketball has the electric Javier Mojica. Hockey? Where do you want to start?

But since the Rockets lost their last football contest on September 19, 2008, the popularity and notoriety has only grown. It started with guys like Doug Flink, a defensive line mauler who is now a sophomore at Bryant, and now it's ballooned to a 37-game win streak. That's currently the third-longest in the nation, behind Phoebus High of Hampton, Va. (45), and Hamilton High of Chandler, Az. (41). The last team to threaten Acton-Boxborough's state record 52-game streak was Western Mass. juggernaut Longmeadow, which saw its streak end at 47 in 2008.

An opening stretch that is notably tougher -- the Rockets face Shrewsbury, Holliston and St. Peter-Marian in succession to start the season -- coupled with a new Central Mass realignment that has them paired in Division 3 with No. 25 Hudson, and a group that graduated seven starters on offense and six on defense, is all the more reason for the anticipation each week on Auburn Street.

As head coach, Cormier plays the role of grounder. But he notes he hasn't gotten much resistance from the groundees.

[+] EnlargeAuburn HS
Brendan Hall for ESPN.comWhat the Auburn offensive line lacks in experience, it makes up for in size.
"Credit to our kids, but it hasn't now, and never been, the primary focus," Cormier said. "I mean, we have three goals every year: win the opener, win the league, and beat Oxford on Thanksgiving. Those have been our continuous goals, and they seem to be good to us, so they'll maintain those goals.

"It was never our goal to win 30-something games in a row. Our goal is to win one, and right now our focus is on Shrewsbury, and they're very, very good. We'll have more than our handful on September 10. We've got to get a lot better if we're going to win."

Taking a snapshot of Tuesday afternoon's scrimmage with Oakmont Regional -- another team they could see in November's D3 Playoffs -- the Rockets should stand a chance.

Start at the line of scrimmage, where it's an admittedly green front along the offensive line. Four juniors and a sophomore comprise the current starting lineup, but they should come out of camp averaging 250 pounds across, led by the right side of the line in junior guard Aaron Dyke (6-3, 270 lbs) and sophomore tackle Will Greelish (6-4, 300 lbs). They had their way with Spartan defenders at times, especially in the running game, extending their arms at the point of attack and plowing over -- sometimes pinning -- their man.

Of the steely Greelish, still a raw prospect, Cormier said, "Those defenders aren't going to come to him. He's got to go get them, so hopefully his feet get good, he settles down, and he can get to people. He brings a lot to the table, but we've got to see if he can get his hands on people and move people."

As for the trench guys overall?

"I agree they look good," Cormier chuckled. "If we could gain yardage just by the way they looked, we'd be in pretty good shape, you know? Unfortunately, they're going to have the play the anthem that we play. Or fortunately. We'll see where they get. But I think we have some kids that have some talent on that offensive line, it's just a matter of getting them to work together."

In the backfield, the stocky Dan Flink is expected to shoulder a heavy load with the graduation of Jeremy Lavallee. Meanwhile, Fred Taylor (seven receiving TDs) will be the Rockets' top deep-ball threat, with speed that touches in the 4.5 range; in Tuesday's scrimmage, Taylor beat his man one-on-one deep to haul in a nice 40-yard fade from Drew Goodrich and score easily.

Defensively, this was one of the stingiest units in 2010 (8.2 points per game), and they must find a way to replace stars in the trenches like Marcus Pettigrew. They'll get their leadership from its linebackers and secondary, from captains Taylor, Flink and Connor Fuller. The Rockets will remain a four-man front, but given the girth, look for this to be one of the most stalwart run defenses in the region.

It's a gang of fresh faces, but the early returns are OK.

AUBURN AT A GLANCE

Coach: Jeff Cormier (13th season, 103-39)
Last year: 13-0, Division 2 CMass Super Bowl Champions
Key Returnees: Dan Flink, Sr. RB/LB; Connor Fuller, Sr. WR/DB; Fred Taylor, Sr. WR/DB; Eric Chionchio, Sr. TE; Mike Diaz, Sr. WR; Drew Goodrich, Jr. QB/DB; Aaron Dyke, Jr. OL/DL.
Strengths: Running game, offensive line.
Weaknesses: Youth, inexperience.
Outlook: Don't mistake the Rockets' youthfulness for a lack of talent, because there is plenty around. Granted, it may be green, but outside of some of the traditional Division 1 powers you'll be hard-pressed to find many offensive lines as beefy as the Rockets' within the Central Mass district. Led by juniors across the board and a 6-foot-4, 300-pounder sophomore at right tackle, the Rockets have the size to bang with anybody. "They look good, and I think the challenge is, a week from Saturday will they be playing good," Cormier said. Dan Flink, brother of current Bryant defensive end Doug Flink, will lead out of the backfield, and like his brother ought to be one of the toughest runners in short-yardage situations. Fred Taylor should build on what was a promising junior campaign (462 receiving yards, seven touchdowns), and figures to be a leader in the secondary as well. Overall, this is a unit that graduated a ton of talent -- seven offensive starters, six defensive starters -- and their state-best 37-game win streak is in jeopardy with a first month that includes Shrewsbury, Holliston and St. Peter-Marian. But the cupboard is hardly bare, and though it's green, it is showing its capability so far in the preseason.

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