Boston High School: Alex Estrella

Super Saturday breakdown and picks

December, 3, 2010

Yesterday, coaches and captains from each of the teams participating in the six Eastern Mass Super Bowls played at Gillette Stadium toured the field in anticipation of Saturday's games. We caught up with Bridgewater-Raynham quarterback Billy Zolga and Everett wide receiver and defensive back Matt Costello yesterday.

Both players were at Gillette last year when their respective teams lost their Super Bowl bids. Now, the seniors are looking to leave a lasting imprint in their final high school football games.

This is for all the marbles, so let's get straight into the action:

Everett (11-0) vs. St. John's Prep (8-4), 6 p.m., Gillette Stadium
Everett players to watch:
ATH Manny Asprilla, WR Matt Costello, QB Jonathan DiBiaso, RB/LB Vondell Langston, LB Buck McCarthy, WR/DB Kenny Calaj, OL/DL Nick Chiarello, DL Shaquille Taylor.
St. John's Prep players to watch: RB Tyler Coppola, OL/DL Nathan Cyr, TE Ryan Delisle, TE/ROV Lucas Bavaro, OL/DL Dan Culkeen.
The skinny: In his third year under center, DiBiaso has exploded to lead one of the state's most prolific offenses (37.5 points per game), and re-write the record book (he threw his state-record 40th touchdown pass of the season in Tuesday's 21-0 win over Andover). But you best believe he is thanking his lucky stars for the exploits of Costello (20 touchdowns) and Asprilla. The Boston College-bound Asprilla, who lines up at both tailback and wide receiver, is one of the state's most dangerous threats in the short passing game, and known to rip off huge gains out of underneath routes. Prep, meanwhile, has rode a powerful ground game (what's new?) to victory, led by Coppola, who has nearly 450 yards on the ground in the last two games. The Eagles are anchored by a powerful line led by Cyr and Culkeen, while Bavaro has emerged as an intimidating presence over the middle on defense.
X-factor: The matchup of the Trinity-boud Cyr, one of the state's best o-linemen, versus Taylor, one of the state's best d-linemen, will be one of the most intriguing battles of the day. Both are built low to the ground, with an explosive first step, and you've got to wonder if one key block will spring either team to victory.

Barboza: A Prep win would be the fitting culmination to an emotional ride, but this has been the Crimson Tide's year. Everett, 27-21

Hall: This has been a remarkable run for the Prep, after all the program has been through these last two seasons, and they're winners in my book either way. I'm going with one of the unsung guys, Gilly DeSouza, to win it late with his feet for the Crimson Tide. Everett, 24-21.

Bridgewater-Raynham (10-2) vs. Gloucester (12-0), 8 p.m. at Gillette Stadium

B-R players to watch: QB/QB Billy Zolga, RB/LB Nick Schlatz, OL/DL Mike Devin, RB/LB Mike Chicoine, RB Brandon Morin.
Gloucester players to watch: TE/DE Chris Unis; RB/LB Gilbert Brown; FB/LB Jordan Shairs; OT/DE Andrew Mizzoni; C/NT Anthony Latassa.
The skinny: Do you like running the football? This game is for you. The Trojans and Fishermen do it better than just about anybody and certainly have the book on each other after facing off in last year’s Super Bowl. You’d be hard pressed to find a more consistent pair of backs than Gilbert Brown and Jordan Shairs of Gloucester. The Trojans ran behind Brandon Morin to a win over Weymouth in the semifinals after starting in place of injured tailback Nick Schlatz. It would give B-R a lift if Schlatz can recover from a shoulder injury sustained in a Thanksgiving Day win over Brockton
X-factor: Really it just comes down to which team blocks its assignments better. It’s simple as that.

Barboza: This might be the most difficult game to forecast, but I’m giving the edge to Gloucester’s experience. Gloucester, 16-14.

Hall: This might be the best matchup of the day. Power versus power, strength versus strength. Gloucester has more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, but I like the way this B-R team has been running the ball this last month. Against Dan Buron’s wishes, of course, I’m picking the Trojans to avenge 2009 and put an end to the Fish's 25-game win streak. B-R, 17-14.

Mansfield (11-1) vs. Reading (12-0), 3:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium
Mansfield players to watch:
RB Jamel Marshall, QB George Busharis, WR Blayne Taylor, OL/DL Sean Otto, OL/DL Kyle McGuire, OL/DL Anthony Todesco, WR Jeff Hill.
Reading players to watch: QB/DB Brian Bourque, OL/DL Jeff Covitz, OL/DL Anthony Fodera, RB Larry Gilligan, RB Zack Bates, WR Sean Gildea, WR Connor Sheehan.
The skinny: The defending Division 2 Super Bowl champ Rockets come into Saturday on a 25-game win streak, albeit by a thread after some late heroics from Bourque and Covitz allowed them to escape their home turf with a 15-14 thriller over Dracut. With Bourque spearheading a shotgun-oriented rushing attack, the Rockets have amassed 42 rushing touchdowns going into Saturday. The Hornets, meanwhile, are back at Gillette for the second time in three years thanks to a stalwart defense led by McGuire at defensive tackle, and the workhorse carrying load of Marshall. This Mansfield squad, known for its Wing-T, isn't afraid to pass the ball more than in years past, with the arm of Busharis. Taylor and Hill, the latter of whom caught three touchdowns in Tuesday's 28-0 shutout of Walpole, have emerged as downfield threats the last few weeks.
X-factor: Covitz, with his above-average leg strength and low center of gravity, has been the most irreplaceable guy on the offensive line, and is generally been a nuisance for opposing offensive linemen coming off the edge. With that in mind, picking up the blitz will be crucial for the Hornets.

Barboza: When it's on the line, Marshall is just too explosive. Mansfield, 17-14.

Hall: Stan Andre, the one who kicked off this whole win streak, was in the house Tuesday night to take in the Reading game. I'm sure he said something to them in the ecstatic locker room after the game, and I'm sure it's going to count late in the fourth quarter. Reading, 28-27.

Duxbury (12-0) vs. Concord-Carlisle (10-2), 1:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium
Duxbury players to watch:
QB Matt O’Keefe, DB/QB Kane Haffey, OL/DL Brett Harasimowicz, TE/DE Don Webber, RB/DB Reilly Naton.
Concord-Carlisle players to watch: RB George Craan; QB Peter George; RB/LB Jabrail Coy; LB Evan Boynton.
The skinny: These are two very stingy defenses with the Green Dragons allowing just 10.8 points per game and the Patriots have surrendered a shade under 13 points per game. Make no mistake, these teams can also move the ball. Duxbury thrives with its complement of Kane Haffey and Matt O’Keefe at quarterback. Concord-Carlisle can always depend on George Craan and his 1,600-plus yards out of the backfield.
X-factor: The Patriots and their fans know what to expect out of Craan, but if sophomore Tim Badgley can repeat his five-carry, 109-yard performance from their semifinal against North Andover, C-C’s chances for victory would greatly improve.

Barboza: One last time, I’ll pull this one out. The “Double Dragons” of O’Keefe and Haffey will lead them to victory. Duxbury, 21-20

Hall: Yes, that’s right, I called Duxbury’s defense “Duxbury Swag District” yesterday on our podcast. I am tragically lame, and slightly out of control. Duxbury, 24-10

Beverly (6-6) vs. Somerset (12-0), 11 a.m. at Gillette Stadium
Somerset players to watch:
RB/LB Seth DeMello; RB/DB Jaron Spear; OT/DT Ian Levesque; RB/LB Alex Estrella; QB Adam Ledoux.
Beverly players to watch: RB/DB Brendan Flaherty, QB/DB Joe Wioncek, OL/DL George Kallas, RB/DB Nick Theriault, LB Mark Giles, OL/DL Andrew Cannata.
The skinny: Somerset’s 28-0 win over Dighton-Rehoboth in the semifinals was a prototypical Blue Raiders game. Both Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear finished with over 100 yards rushing as Somerset bled the clock dry in the second half. Meanwhile, Beverly – the official Cinderella squad of the 2010 playoffs — showed that they truly belonged with a 41-14 thrashing of Scituate. Will the Blue Raiders prevail and finish a perfect season? Or can the Panthers keep the magic alive? It’s the quintessential favorite vs. underdog.
X-factor: The teams’ lines. For Division 3 schools, both of these squads have good sized linemen. Six-foot-five, 315-pound lineman Ian Levesque is a mountain on the Blue Raider line, but is agile as well. George Kallas is an immovable object on the Panther line.

Barboza: Not only is the double wing difficult for any team to run, but the Blue Raiders have all the right elements to run it to its best. Somerset, 28-14

Hall: Clock strikes midnight on Beverly, as two wings are better than one. Somerset, 21-10

Holliston (11-1) vs. Cardinal Spellman (12-0), 9 a.m., Gillette Stadium
Holliston players to watch:
RB/LB Kevin Curry, QB Sean Mayo, TE/DE Ryan Barrett, RB/DB Jake Frechette, WR/DB Christian Baker, OL/LB Ethan Rayner, OL/DL Kevin Lamarcque.
Spellman players to watch: RB/DB Blaise Branch, FB/LB Jared Lordi, RB/DB Jordan Williams, QB Zac Cooney.
The skinny: The 11-1 Panthers come into Saturday averaging just a hair under 40 points a game, with Mayo as the triggerman. Even in limited playing time -- the Panthers often pulled their starters in the third or fourth quarter -- the dual-threat quarterback put up 1,723 yards through the air, with 21 touchdown passes to only five interceptions, and also added 456 yards and nine scores on the ground. Spellman, in its third year under Ron St. George, had a remarkable turnaround, going from 2-9 to undefeated and in its first Super Bowl since 1992. At the forefront of St. George's vaunted Wing-T scheme is the senior Branch, who leads Eastern Mass with 36 rushing touchdowns. But over the last few games, defenses have had to worry more and more about Lordi and Williams.
X-factor: The Bryant-bound Barrett, at 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds, was a matchup problem all year long in the Tri-Valley League. And while he's not putting up the most gaudy numbers at tight end and was used more as a blocking back, his combination of size, speed and athleticism demands airtight coverage from the linebackers and helps open up the Panthers' offense.

Barboza: Panthers' rallying cry: 'We Don't Get Fooled Again". Holliston, 31-24

Hall: The Panthers came to Gillette last December and got manhandled. Guarantee you that's been fresh on their minds this week, and for that I think they avoid the same early mistakes that doomed them in 2009. Holliston, 25-20

Shawsheen (10-1) vs. Blue Hills (10-1), 10 a.m., Curry College
Shawsheen players to watch: OL/DL David Summiel, QB Ryan Woolaver, RB Andrew Dascoli, WR Rob Greenwood.
Blue Hills players to watch: RB Vincent Burton, RB Isaiah Teixeira, OL/DL Jamarr Goff, QB John Curran
The skinny: Shawsheen, on the heels of a 21-0 shutout of Madison Park in Tuesday night’s playoffs, is on a roll defensively. The Rams haven’t allowed a point in 19 quarters, dating back to a 41-6 win over Lynn Tech on October 15. Dascoli is the Rams’ workhorse back, while Greeenwood is their top threat at receiver. The Warriors, rested from a bye on Tuesday night, are led by Vincent Burton and his Division 4-best 30 touchdowns.
X-factor: The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Summiel might be the biggest catalyst for this incredible Shawsheen run. Playing right offensive tackle and left defensive end, Summiel paved the way for 118 rushing yards from leading rusher Dascoli, and also preserved a fourth straight shutout.

Barboza: The week off will certainly benefit Blue Hills, but the Rams defense is stout. Shawsheen, 14-7

Hall: Logic says to go with Blue Hills, as they’ll be well-rested thanks to their bye. But this Shawsheen defense is an absolute wagon by Division 4 standards, and for that I’m giving them another shutout to finish off what’s been a remarkable run over the last six weeks. Shawsheen, 21-0

Brighton (9-2) vs. Northeast (10-2), 1 p.m. at Curry College

Brighton players to watch: RB/LB Andrew Maestre, RB Dwight Kennedy, QB Jonathan Marrero, OL/DL Patrick Jean, WR Olumide Olukoga.
Northeast players to watch: RB/DB Bobby Novello; RB/DB Mike Cross; OL/DE Ryan Adams; FB/DE Ian Bagby; TE/LB A.J. Ortiz.
The skinny: You'd be hard pressed to find a hotter defense in the state than the Golden Knights, who have now pitched six shutouts after a 42-0 blanking of Pope John Tuesday. Their next challenge lies in the Bengals. A Division 4-A Super Bowl participant last year, Brighton’s offense is led by running back Andrew Maestre and quarterback Jonathan Marrerro, each of whom ran for two touchdowns in their 36-13 win over West Bridgewater on Tuesday.
X-factor: Brighton wide receiver Olumide Olukoga is the favorite target of Marrerro, but he’s also dangerous in the return game. Olukoga had a 41-yard kickoff return to set up Maestre’s first touchdown of the game. At this stage, with two talented teams, special teams play always comes to bear.

Barboza: Can’t pick against the Northeast defense, but the Bengals will put some points on the board. Northeast, 23-17

Hall: I used to live in Brighton Centre, and my neighbors were awesome. Go grab a bite at Smoken’ Joe’s when you get a chance, and make sure you get the Kansas City Sticky. Brighton, 21-17.

The View from Somerset

December, 2, 2010
ESPNBoston's Brendan Hall checked in with Somerset captains Seth DeMello, Jaron Spear, Alex Estrella, Adam Ledoux, and Kyle Walker this morning on the turf at Gillette Stadium:

What we learned: Super Tuesday thoughts

December, 1, 2010
From the time Alex Estrella took a punt return 56 yards for a touchdown off the first series of the game, things didn’t look good for Dave Driscoll’s Dighton-Rehoboth team. What put the Falcons at such a disadvantage in trying to come back in their Division III semifinal was Somerset’s clock-draining double wing ground game.

Both of the Blue Raiders’ featured backs, Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear, were over 100 yards rushing on the night in Somerset’s 28-0 win.

The Falcons could manage just 51 yards in the first half and, in the second half, the Blue Raiders engaged in a ball-control game, possessing the ball for nearly 14 minutes of the second half.

Although teams may know what’s coming, the double wing is hard to defend. And it only helps that Somerset has the right players to get the job done.

“It’s all about the personnel,” Driscoll said of Somerset’s offense. “You’ve got to be quick and you’ve got to be athletic. [Seth] DeMello is very physical and [Jaron] Spear is very fast. So they have everything, plus the quarterback [Adam Ledoux] can throw and he’s athletic.

“They have all the pieces of the puzzle. You can see it on defense, too, how athletic they are and how quick to the ball they are.”

St. John’s Prep sophomore running back Alex Moore doesn’t see the ball too often, but he does have one play in the Eagles’ playbook that he calls his own. It’s called 800 Rocket Right, Counter Left, and it worked to perfection in the Prep’s 35-7 win over New Bedford.

Moore had already made his presence felt against the Whalers, taking an interception back 61 yards for a touchdown on the fourth play from scrimmage. After the Eagles went out to a 13-0 lead on Dillon Gonzalez’s punt return for a touchdown, they were on the move again and cashed in on Moore’s 20-yard run in the second quarter.

“It’s really designed to score a touchdown every time,” Moore said Tuesday.

In the moments following Reading's thrilling 15-14 victory over Dracut last night, Jeff Covitz gushed about his former coach, late assistant Mike Boyd, and how his battle with lung cancer still emboldens the Rockets some 18 months after his death.

"He never quit," Covitz told reporters. "Up until the day he died, he never quit. I always think about Coach Boyd. Even when I'm exhausted, and just want to pass out right on the field, you never quit on this team. You never want to quit on your family. You never quit on coaches."

So with that said, if Covitz was exhausted in the four minutes following Brian Bourque's go-ahead two-point conversion run, he did a great job showing it. He sacked Dracut's Matt Silva twice in the final minutes to seal it for the Rockets, and send them back to Gillette to defend their Division 2 Super Bowl title.

Looking at the stat sheet, maybe you think you have Cardinal Spellman figured out -- Blaise Branch right, Blaise Branch left, rinse, repeat -- and with 36 rushing touchdowns on the season, we don't blame you. But flying under the radar, and providing some crucial punch in the fourth quarter when the Cardinals were trying to hold off Hamilton-Wenham momentum, was fullback Jared Lordi. Typically, Lordi will create holes out of the backfield for Branch, and so far the Cardinals have run head coach Ron St. George's Wing-T scheme exceptionally.

But on this particular night, he provided some spark when the Cardinals got stagnant. His 20-yard catch on fourth and 13 set up a Zac Cooney eight-yard keeper that made it 21-9 in the fourth quarter. Then, with a minute left, he closed the scoring -- and sealed the win -- with a 20-yard fade to the near left pylon, making it a 28-16 final.

"That was great to see," Branch smiled when asked about Lordi's touchdown. "Good to see that. I wish we could get our linemen to do that too."

Said H-W head coach Andrew Morency, "Tough kid. It's funny, you know, they crossed us up a little bit with that play, and in the end we felt like they had shown in films that they could have done that. You know, we got kinda caught up in the moments stopping Branch a little bit, and boom, they come back with that. He ran hard, and he got them a couple of first downs that they really needed at that time. Hats off to that fullback."

Estrella's punt return sparks Somerset romp

December, 1, 2010

TAUNTON, Mass. – Alex Estrella views his job as a punt returner to be simple.

It only involves darting behind the wedge set in front of him, gaining the outside edge and then running as fast as he can to the end zone.

“It’s that easy,” the Somerset senior said.

In premise, it is easy, but not always so easily accomplished.

However, Estrella made it look natural as the Blue Raiders rode the momentum created by his 56-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the first quarter to cruise past boarder rival Dighton-Rehoboth, 28-0, in the Division 3 Eastern Mass semifinal on Tuesday.

“It was a good thing,” Blue Raiders head coach Nick Freitas said plainly. “It always helps when you can win the battle on special teams. It definitely helped to set the tone.”

Somerset (12-0) would strike again one minute after Estrella’s score. A Falcons fumble recovered by Edward Matanes set up shop for the Blue Raiders at the D-R 30-yard line. It took just one play for Jaron Spear to find the end zone on a 30-yard carry.

“We couldn’t have started off any worse, with them running that [punt] back and us fumbling,” Falcons head coach Dave Driscoll said. “Right away, we’re down 14-0 to a team that’s undefeated.”

D-R’s unenviable position became direr when Adam Ledoux took in the quarterback sneak from a yard out for a 21-0 Somerset lead with 1:13 remaining in the first half.

The Falcons (10-2) showed some resistance, however, and threatened to score before the half was out. A 47-yard kickoff return by Bryan Rocha had D-R starting at the Blue Raiders’ 35. The Falcons weren’t able to crack the end zone though as John Kyle Silva’s pass went incomplete on a third and goal from the 7-yard line to end the half.

D-R managed only 51 yards of offense in the first half.

Somerset added some insurance on a 41-yard screen pass from Ledoux to Spear in the third quarter.

From then on, the Blue Raiders continued to bleed the clock and chew up yards on the ground. Running out of the double wing Spear (14 carries, 102 yards) and Seth DeMello (19 carries, 121 yards) were too much to contain.

“It’s going to have to be a real good team to beat them,” Driscoll said of Somerset, his alma mater.

The team that will be posed that task Saturday is Beverly, which at 6-6 qualified to play at Gillette Stadium for the Division 3 Super Bowl with a 41-14 win over Scituate on Tuesday.

“We have the school behind us,” Estrella said. “It’s been a rallying point and it’s a goal that we set for ourselves back in January, when we were lifting, running. This is what it’s all about.”

Somerset 14 7 7 0 -- 28
D-R 0 0 0 0 -- 0

First quarter
S Alex Estrella 56-yard punt return (T.J. Eisle kick)
S Jaron Spear 30-yard run (Eisle kick)

Second quarter
S Adam Ledoux 1-yard run (Eisle kick)

Third quarter
S Jaron Spear 41-yard pass from Ledoux (Eisle kick)

No. 20 Somerset secures EAC title

November, 13, 2010

SOMERSET, Mass. – Somerset’s run to the 2010 Eastern Athletic Conference championship began last December.

“We were in there lifting from about two weeks after the end of last season,” Blue Raiders offensive and defensive tackle Ian Levesque said. “We were so close to winning the EAC last year that it was all we could think about.”

There were days when Levesque said his legs were so tired he could barely get up the steps to his front door. Yet, after enduing a fast-paced 49-28 shootout with defending EAC champion Bishop Feehan and running the gauntlet to a 10-0 record, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound lineman seemed happy enough he could have levitated off the field having seen his hard work pay off.

“There was definitely an air of something different this week,” said head coach Nick Freitas, who led the No. 20 Blue Raiders to their first football league title in nearly three decades.

Freitas wasn’t about to let his team look past Feehan, which trudged an unlikely road to set up Friday’s winner-take-all matchup on County Street.

The Shamrocks lost their first five games out of the chute, but redeemed themselves with a four-game winning streak, including three conference games.

Freitas installed a sign reading “What did you do to beat Feehan today?” In the spirit of the Golden Domers, their opponents, it was a reminder not only to play like a champion, but practice like one.

“Their record doesn’t show how good of a team they are,” Levesque said. “They played a bunch of good teams early in the year. We knew we had to come to this game really focused, really prepared. [This week,] practices went a little bit longer, film sessions went a little bit longer. Everybody had to be on the ball and have that mentality to not give up at any point in the game.”

The Blue Raiders showed their resolve, embarking on a 14-play touchdown drive on their first possession with Seth DeMello punching in the first of his six touchdowns. The 17-yard score from Adam LeDoux saw the Somerset offense in a bit of a different light. Running back Jaron Spear also connected with DeMello on a passing play for a 42-yard score in the second quarter.

DeMello, who ran for 245 on 20 carries, added rushing touchdowns of 3, 39, 88 and 13 yards, respectively.

Alex Estrella also had a touchdown run of 11 yards in the second quarter.

The Shamrocks received stellar quarterback play from junior Andrew Murphy, who completed 13 of 21 pass attempts for 312 yards and three touchdowns.

"I didn't feel safe until it was down to point-six second left on the clock there," Freitas said.

By that time, Freitas had already been doused in a congratulatory water bath by his team. Nick Almeida finished the game with emphasis with the fifth Somerset sack of Murphy.

Then, and only then, could the celebration truly begin.

Bishop Feehan 0 14 7 7 -- 28
Somerset 7 21 7 14 -- 49

First quarter
Somerset Seth DeMello 17-yard pass from Adam LeDoux (T.J. Eisle kick)

Second quarter
Somerset DeMello 3-yard run (Eisle kick)
Bishop Feehan O'Brian McHayle 57-yard run (Matt Allen kick)
Somerset DeMello 42-yard pass from Jaron Spear (Eisle kick)
Somerset Alex Estrella 11-yard run (Eisle kick)
Bishop Feehan Brandon Cole 13-yard pass from Andrew Murphy (Allen kick)

Third quarter
Somerset DeMello 39-yard run (Eisle kick)
Bishop Feehan William Firth 24-yard pass from Murphy (Allen kick)

Fourth quarter
Somerset DeMello 88-yard run (Eisle kick)
Bishop Feehan O'Brian McHayle 56-yard pass from Murphy (Allen kick)
Somerset DeMello 13-yard run (Eisle kick)

Somerset doubling up to success

October, 15, 2010
SOMERSET, Mass. -- Nick Freitas recalls the final preseason scrimmage of the 2006 preseason, a tussle with Wareham when he was Somerset High's defensive coordinator. He watched as the Vikings plowed away time and again with a daunting double-wing offensive scheme that pulverized opponents that season behind two future Division 1 players, offensive tackle Shea Allard (Delaware) and quarterback/defensive end Mike Laperriere (Northeastern).

And from then on, Freitas was instantly hooked, spending countless hours digging up whatever he could find on the throwback offense, a two tight end set with one-inch line splits, two wing backs and a fullback two yards behind the quarterback.

Others' playbooks might be thick. But the premise with this scheme is decidedly more straightforward and simplex, requiring good trap blocking, misdirection handoffs and a tough-minded quarterback who isn't afraid to throw his elbows around. When the quarterback rolls out for a pass, his tight ends and receivers aren't demonstrating the entire tree. Yet at the same time, the tight splits and backfield alignments give way to convoys of blockers at the point of attack, and takes away teams' blitz packages.

"The great thing about this offense is it's easy to learn," senior running back Alex Estrella said. "You can put someone in a position and they get the basics in two hours, whereas in a spread it might take weeks."

Since the system was installed at Somerset in the summer of 2009, the Blue Raiders are 13-3, including a 5-0 mark headed into tonight's matchup at 4-0 Martha's Vineyard. So far this season, the Raiders are averaging nearly 330 yards a game on the ground, and 31.8 points per game (second-best in Division 3), thanks to a slew of running backs led by LeDoux, Estrella, Jaron Spear, Seth DeMello and Josh Zadjel; in the trenches, the Raiders move the chains as 6-foot-4, 280-pound Division 1 prospect Ian Levescque does.

"It's very tough to stop. I think it's an equalizer, in regards to less talented teams," Freitas said. "I looked at it from a defensive coordinator, and liked the fact that it controls the clock. When you don't have numbers like I wish we had (the Raiders dress just over 30 on their varsity), where we can't give kids blows and stuff, the philosophy we teach is that it's better to give than receive -- it's like Christmas -- so we like being on offense and controlling the clock."

Said senior quarterback Adam Ledoux, "You always have two-on-ones. You've got two smaller kids who are fast, going up against a big kid who might not be used to double-teams and getting blown off the ball."

"Plus," Levesque added. "It's an offense that wears defenses down. Defenses are gassed by the end of the game."

So if it's that easy, why don't more teams run it? As Estrella notes, it's not for everyone. But this system seems to blend in fittingly to the grind-it-out identity of this blue-collar town nestled just across the Taunton River from Fall River.

"We're hard-nosed football players, always ready to go out there and make plays, do their jobs," Ledoux said. "Offseason, we're lifting every day year-round. We're just going to work harder than you are."

A typical defensive gameplan against an offense like Somerset's calls for two things:

1. Watch the quarterback -- Ninety to ninety-five percent of the time, coordinators will tell you, the play is going to the opposite side of the direction the quarterback opens his hips after the snap.

2. Follow the guards -- Many times, double-wing offenses will outweigh teams at the point of attack by pulling a backside guard.

Freitas acknowledged these axioms, but pointed back to the principle of misdirection -- just when you've figured it out, he feels, they come back with a new ripple.

"Alot of teams, if you run motion, they'll anticipate going to that side," Freitas said. "But for every instance of what a team could take away, there's something there to exploit it."

Somerset rolls over Stang in EAC opener

September, 25, 2010
DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Hard to believe Somerset ever trailed Bishop Stang during the Blue Raiders’ 43-13 victory over the Spartans on Slocum Road.

After assembling a methodical six-play, 66-yard touchdown drive to open the game, Somerset was knocked on their heels by Tyler Dedrick’s 71-yard touchdown strike to Devan Clements. The successful extra-point kick had the Spartans up, 7-6.

It didn’t last long as Somerset (3-0, 1-0) ran behind their horses, running backs Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear, to an important Eastern Athletic Conference win over Stang (2-1, 0-1).
[+] EnlargeSomerset High School's Seth DeMello
Scott Barboza/ESPNBoston.comFive yards and a cloud of Spartans: Somerset's Seth DeMello (No. 42 white) fights through the pile for extra yardage in the Blue Raiders' 43-13 win at Bishop Stang. DeMello finished with 19 carries for 160 yards and one touchdown.

“[Coming into the game], we wanted to stop the big play,” Blue Raiders head coach Nick Freitas said. “We just had a defensive lapse. Luckily, we recovered from that.”

Somerset asserted its will on the ground, turning up the turf behind the offensive line led by tackle Ian Levesque.

“He’s a big, aggressive kid,” Freitas said of Levesque. “I like that.”

Spear led the charge with 21 carries for 215 yards and four touchdowns. And DeMello provided the thump to Spear’s flash; the bruising back churned out 160 yards on 19 rushes and one touchdown.

Somerset’s offensive display of power didn't slow after it lost starting quarterback Adam Ledoux to an injury in the second quarter. Senior Alex Estrella finished out the game under center after he put up the first Blue Raiders’ touchdown on a 3-yard touchdown run from the halfback position.

“We got away from some of the things we usually do because our quarterback [Ledoux] got a little dinged,” Freitas said. “I thought Estrella did a nice job though considering he only took three snaps at quarterback this week. He did a nice job of running the offense.”

The play-calling was made easy for Estrella, who often called DeMello and Spear’s number.

DeMello made a living running in between the tackles of Somerset’s Wishbone and Wing-T sets, oftentimes carrying several Spartan defenders on his back en route to first downs. DeMello’s longest run came on a 46-yard carry in the second quarter, which kick started a drive which culminated in his 13-yard touchdown run to give Somerset a 22-7 halftime lead.

Spear became the Blue Raiders’ weapon of choice in the second half, as the halfback tore off touchdown runs of 15, four and 49 yards in the second half to put the game out of reach.

Spear’s first touchdown run of six yards in the second quarter reclaimed the lead for Somerset, 14-7.

“What can you say?” Freitas asked rhetorically about the collective performances of DeMello and Spear.

“It all starts up front though. Our offensive line did a terrific job moving the pile all day.”