Boston High School: Alex Moore

D1 North Baseball: Billerica 4, St. John's Prep 3

June, 9, 2013
6/09/13
9:26
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LOWELL, Mass. -- For 30 years, the mystique and aura of Atlanta Braves pitching great Tom Glavine has hung over the Billerica High School baseball program.

Glavine was on the mound pitching for Indians in 1983, the last time the school won the Division 1 North title. After the North title game Sunday, some on the team were left wondering if he had something to do with the team’s 4-3 victory over heavily-favored St. John’s Prep.

“We had an unknown person that came into our locker room and put on the bulletin board, ‘The Spirit of Tommy Glavine is with you,” said Billerica (18-6) coach Joe Higgins. “We don’t know who did it, but I’ll tell ya, I think his spirit and Gary DiSarcina’s spirit, they’re all here today. That was a great upset. The guys played great.”

The Indians got on the board against Prep (22-2) starter Justin Snyder in the second after back-to-back singles from Max Frawley (2-for-4) and Chris Murphy (3-for-3, 3 singles). On Murphy’s bloop hit to center, Frawley attempted to go first to third. The throw from center hit him in the back while he was running, sending the ball down the third base line, which allowed him to score easily.

Kyle Murphy (2-for-5) plated Robby Gambale in the third to give the team a 2-0 lead. Kyle got another RBI in the fifth when his double scored Eric Eknanian. He scored the eventual winning run after Mike Driscoll, Prep’s third pitcher of the afternoon, was called for a balk. Driscoll made a move towards third, but never stepped off the rubber, causing the umpires to award Murphy home plate.

Since Dylan Lavery and Max Frawley each threw at least eight innings in Billerica’s last two games, Higgins gave the ball to Murphy to start Sunday. He delivered, throwing 132 pitches in six innings, striking out eight while giving up three hits and walking six.

“I wanted to pound fastballs and try to get ahead on a lot of hitters,” he said after the game. “I knew after the first time through the lineup, they would be able to time the fastball since they’re a great hitting team. I worked in my change-up, which was really good for me today, and had a few good curveballs to catch them off balance. I threw a few to keep them thinking I had that in my back pocket.”

As Murphy said, Prep struck the second time through the lineup. In the third inning, after Alex Moore (1-for-2, two walks) singled and Brandon Bingel (0-for-3, two walks) walked, Keith Leavitt (1-for-5) laced a double down the right field line. Both runners scored, tying the game at two, but Leavitt was thrown out at third trying to stretch the double into a triple.

Prep added another run in the fifth when Tommy Buonopane (2-for-4) scored on a wild pitch.

The Eagles put a scare into the Billerica faithful in the final two innings, but could not score the tying run. It had runners on second and third with two outs in the eighth and runners on the corners with two outs in the ninth.

On both occasions, Gambale, who came on in relief of Murphy in the seventh, was able to force a ground-out, ending any chance Prep had of tying the score.

Guaranteeing victory: After Saturday’s 7-1 victory over Westford Academy, Bilerica’s Eric Eknanian said the best team was going to win Sunday, and he believed his team is the best and can play with anybody.

It is one thing for a player to proclaim something like that coming off the emotional high of a state tournament semi-final victory, and it is another for it to be instilled in the fabric of a team. That belief and confidence runs through the entire Billerica team.

“We believe that 100 percent,” said Robby Gambale. “We all have faith in it, we all believe in it, so we go out and prove it and do our job.”

While they agree on the talent and ability of the team, they were quick to acknowledge the potency and achievements of a Prep team that came into Sunday riding a 22-game winning streak and still gave them all they could handle.

“We just beat the best team in the state, they’ve been ranked No. 1 all year,” said Murphy. “If we play like that every day, we’re going to go out and win the state championship.”

As the teams exited the playing field on the way to their respective buses, some Prep players made it a point to seek out Murphy and Gambale and, in a show of good sportsmanship, congratulate them on the win and their quality pitching performances.

Prep's Moore: 'My time here was a grind'

February, 6, 2013
2/06/13
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DANVERS, Mass. -– St. John’s Prep’s National Letter of Intent ceremony this afternoon was a time for special celebration, complete with rounds of photo-op's. But for the Eagles' emotional leader, Alex Moore, it was also bittersweet.

Moore gathered with fellow seniors Lucas Bavaro (Dartmouth), Conor Powers (Hamilton), Tucker Mathers (Tufts), Anthony Bongiorno (Amherst), FJ Murphy (Endicott) and James Fagan (Bates) in a Xavier Hall boardroom for pictures.

For the pictures, each player had one last opportunity to put on their Prep jersey. Afterwards, Moore couldn’t help but hide his feelings.

“Taking off that jersey in there just now was kind of sad, that will be the last time I take off that blue jersey,” he said. “Even just the smell of them, and all the memories that go along with them. For the duration of my time here it was a grind, and it’s another big step for me by going to college -— I have to be prepared for that."

Moore, the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year and ESPN Boston Mr. Football Award winner, led Prep to an 11-1 record and an Eastern Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl championship. He is one of the most decorated athletes to come out of St. John’s Prep, going out with a bang by averaging just under eight yards per carry at running back and totaling 67 tackles at safety this season. He recently committed to play football at the University of Pennsylvania, a member of the Ivy League.

An outstanding student, Moore has been sure to listen to advice that past Prep football players have given him and his teammates about enjoying the school and coach Jim O’Leary while they can.

“The seniors came back and told us that you don’t really appreciate the Prep until you go until college and you actually see how much farther along you are than other people in college,” Moore said.

“But the thing is, I’m going to University of Pennsylvania, so a lot of people there are going to have the education that I have. I still have to work hard with everything I do. I’m just looking forward to going out, competing and doing my best.”

The talented two-way player showed his humbleness, having little to say about his awards and accolades and how they may build up his hype going into college.

“I don’t really think about it, it’s a great honor being the state’s player of the year," he said. "But I don’t think I have anything to prove, I think if I did have something to prove I would go in there and just do my best to prove it. But I’m not going into it trying to prove anything. I know what I can do as a player.”

The Prep seniors are a tight-knit group, as seen with the amount of congratulatory handshakes and good-hearted ribbing that they gave each other during the ceremony. O’Leary even got in on the act too, moving each of his eight committed seniors around until they were perfectly in place for a picture. It’s a moment that Moore hinted he will miss.

“Today means a lot, we’ve come a long way, and for it to end like this—with all these commitments to these great schools. The hard work that we all put in all paid off, I’m just glad we’re all able to go to a college that we all love.”

Recruiting Notes: Frenzy leading to Signing Day

February, 1, 2013
2/01/13
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The second half of January featured a flurry of activity with regard to New England players committing to colleges. Some of the notable commitments:

Recruiting Notebook"Everett High School wide receiver/defensive back Jakarrie Washington to Wisconsin: Recruiting writers were scrambling last week when word leaked that Washington would be joining the Badgers, since he was relatively unknown outside of Massachusetts. He had no other scholarship offers at the time of his commitment. What Washington does have is speed. He has reportedly run the 40 in 4.4 seconds. He's also versatile. He caught 33 passes for 439 yards and nine touchdowns last season, when he also carried the ball 75 times for 697 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"St. John's Prep running back Alex Moore to Pennsylvania: Many thought Moore would join teammate Lucas Bavaro at Dartmouth, but he selected Penn – the first school to make him an offer. Moore, perhaps the best two-way player in Massachusetts last season, helped St. John's Prep win the EMass Division I Super Bowl and claimed the third annual ESPN Boston “Mr. Football” award, which is given annually to the best player in the state. Moore, who will likely play on the defensive side of the ball in college, made 67 tackles (five for loss), recorded four interceptions and forced four fumbles during his senior season. He also rushed for 857 yards and 14 touchdowns, and caught 20 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns.

"Windsor (Conn.) defensive end Cole Ormsby to Connecticut: Ormsby committed to UMass in June, but switched that commitment last week. Ormsby led the state with 17 sacks last season, when Hand defeated Windsor 23-6 in the Class L championship game. He completed his senior season with 85 tackles.

SIGN HERE

Wednesday is National Signing Day, and ESPNU will have 10 hours of coverage beginning at 9 a.m. At least 17 of the nation's top uncommitted recruits are expected to announce their college decision live during the telecast. Rece Davis and Dari Nowkhah will host the coverage from Charlotte, N.C.

ESPNU will have reporters at the following schools: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Texas, Texas AM and USC. The station will also air a two-hour preview show on Tuesday beginning at 5 p.m.

THESE GUYS ARE COMMITTED

Nine of New England's top 10 recruits (as rated by ESPN) have verbally committed to college programs. Six of the 10 players are from Connecticut, and the four others are from Massachusetts. Here's where those players will be playing next season:

John Montelus, OG (Everett High School): Notre Dame
Maurice Hurst Jr., DT (Xaverian Brothers): Michigan
Tim Boyle, QB (Xavier): Boston College
Noel Thomas, ATH (St. Luke's): Connecticut
John Van Allen, OLB (Avon Old Farms): Harvard
Sadiq Olanrewaju, OT (Salisbury School): Virginia
Cory Jasudowich, ILB (Cheshire Academy): Connecticut
Tevin Montgomery, OT (Tabor Academy): Boston College
Jack McDonald, OG (BC High): Virginia.

Note: Thomas, who played for his father at St. Luke's in New Canaan, Conn., enrolled at UConn for the spring semester. Thomas played wide receiver, quarterback and running back in prep school, and finished his career with 4,888 yards of offense and 53 touchdowns. He is expected to play wide receiver in college.

BULLDOG MENTALITY

Michael Dulac, Vermont's Gatorade Player of the Year for the 2012 season, has committed to play for Division I Bryant University. The Bulldogs compete in the Northeast Conference.

Dulac, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman, led Hartford High School (White River Jct.) to three consecutive Division I championships. He started on each side of the ball in all 43 games of his high school career.

Dulac reportedly had offers from eight schools, and selected Bryant over Dartmouth.

NEW HAMPSHIRE LANDS LINEBACKER

Proctor Academy fullback/linebacker Odaine Franklyn committed to the University of New Hampshire on Thursday.

Franklin made 48 tackles last season. He also rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Proctor finished the season with an 8-1 record.

Franklyn, who was recruited to play linebacker, was a three-year starter for White Plains (N.Y.) High School before he enrolled at Proctor Academy. He had scholarship offers from Akron and Albany coming out of high school.

Recruiting information regarding high school or prep school players in New England can be sent to Roger Brown at rbrown@nhfootballreport.com.

Recap: No. 8 Pentucket 59, No. 7 Billerica 39

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
12:01
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WEST NEWBURY, Mass. –- The Pentucket Sachems hit eight 3-pointers in the first three quarters on their way to a 59-39 win over the Billerica Indians on Wednesday night.

Pentucket’s (6-0) offense was led by the sharp-shooting tandem of Kelsi McNamara (15 points) and McKenna Kilian (13). The sophomore guards scored 19 of their combined 28 points in the second half, with McNamara nailing three big 3-pointers out of the halftime break.

[+] EnlargePentucket's Tess Nogueira
Ryan Kilian for ESPNIs Pentucket's Tess Nogueira underrated? Her coach thinks so, calling her "the most unsung player in the state."
“Coming out of the half we wanted to get the game going our style and we can shoot threes,” Pentucket head coach John McNamara said after the game. “If teams are going to play zone, someone is going to get the hot hand. It was just a matter of finding that kid.”

The reigning MIAA Division 3 State Champions led at the end of each of the first three quarters, and used timely shooting and their patented pressure defense to keep the game at a comfortable margin throughout.

“We get tired of hearing that we are a D3 school,” McNamara said. “We can play with anyone. There are a lot of good D3 teams.”

Leading 46-35 after three quarters the Sachems shot Billerica out of their 2-3 zone and held the Indians to just four fourth quarter points to secure the twenty-point victory.

“We are not a big team, so if we have the look we are going to take it,” McNamara said. “We will shoot threes in transition and I am confident we will hit more than we miss.”

Despite being held scoreless in the second half, UMass Lowell-bound point guard Brittany Lomanno led Billerica with 10 points, five assists and three steals on the evening. Lomanno also did a good job pushing the pace for the Indians on both ends of the floor early in the game.

Pentucket senior forward Tess Nogueira was the only other Sachem in double-figures, as the versatile forward netted 12 points on the night.

Senior guards Coley Viselli (nine points) and Alex Moore (six points, two blocks) also played well for Pentucket in the win.

“All of our guards work really hard and they know when to move the ball and when to shoot,” Nogueira said.

Rebounding edge: Kilian led Pentucket on the evening with eight rebounds, but Pentucket used team rebounding and aggressive on ball play to keep Billerica off the glass.

“We worked on it the past couple of days because we knew they were bigger than us,” McNamara said. “We knew we could not play one of those post-players one-on-one by themselves so we had one kid digging from the weak side. The girls pretty much did a great job.”

Underrated Nogueira: Nogueria also pulled down six rebounds to go with three assists on the night.

“She is a unique player for a six-footer,” McNamara said. “She is not a natural post player but she can do anything for us. She can defend a point guard if we want her to. She is one of the most unsung players in the state, especially since she does not score 20 points a game. She does a lot of other things.”

Nogueira helped control the paint and held the Billerica post game in check all evening.

“I try to do whatever I can out there,” Nogueira said. “I will fill whatever role I am needed to fill and will be up for the challenge.”

Schedules: Pentucket gets back to action on Friday when they host Newburyport. Pentucket is fresh off a championship win at the York (Maine) holiday tournament where they defeated Dover (N.H.) and host York in the finals. McNamara and Viselli were named to the All-Tournament team.

Billerca continues a very difficult part of their schedule when they host impressive Merrimack Valley Conference newcomer North Andover on Friday night. They'll follow up that matchup with upcoming games against top MVC teams Central Catholic, Methuen and Andover.

MHSFCA releases All-State Team

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
5:17
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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
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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.

St. John's Prep's Moore is ESPN Boston Mr. Football

December, 3, 2012
12/03/12
2:33
PM ET
ESPNBoston.com and its High School section today announced that Alex Moore, senior running back and safety of the St. John’s Prep Eagles, is the recipient of its third annual "Mr. Football" award, which is presented annually to the top high school football player in Massachusetts.

[+] EnlargeSt. John's Prep's Alex Moore
Brendan Hall/ESPN.comRunning back/safety Alex Moore led St. John's Prep to their first Super Bowl title in 15 years.
The Mr. Football award winner was chosen by a panel of experts made up of ESPNBoston.com staff and correspondents, as well as analysts from Scouts Inc. Moore will be presented the award in an on-field ceremony at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 10, before the New England Patriots’ scheduled contest with the Houston Texans.

"We are honored to present Alex Moore with our third annual Mr. Football award," said ESPNBoston.com High Schools co-editor Brendan Hall. "In the three-year history of this award, almost all of the finalists and winners made their mark on one side of the ball. With Alex, there is no one master stroke. It’s his ability in all three phases of the game -- offense, defense, special teams -- that makes him such a special player. I can think of no better embodiment of the term ‘total package’ than Alex Moore."

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Boxford native starred for the Eagles this fall as one of the state’s best two-way players, leading the program to an 11-1 record and its first MIAA Division 1 Super Bowl championship since 1997 with a 48-28 win over Brockton in Saturday’s title game. With Moore leading one of the state’s most efficient rushing attacks and stingiest defenses, the Eagles entered the 2012 season ranked No. 4 in ESPNBoston.com’s statewide preseason poll and lived up to every expectation, totaling just under 4,000 yards of offense on the season and averaging 247 yards rushing per game.

On the season, he carried the ball 112 times for 857 yards and 14 touchdowns, and added 20 receptions for 455 yards and five more scores. Defensively, as the team's strong safety, he recorded 67 tackles (five for loss), four forced fumbles and four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.

"I remember when Alex was a sophomore and he had one of the greatest three-phase games I’ve ever seen, in their win over New Bedford in the Division 1 semifinals," said ESPNBoston.com High Schools co-editor Scott Barboza. "From that game on, we knew Alex was going to be something special, and he’s only improved in his last two years with the Eagles. He completes his high school career not only as a Super Bowl champion, but as a tremendous leader."

Moore has maintained a weighted 4.05 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally at a homeless shelter and food bank, and also was part of a fundraising campaign to benefit an area hospice program. Moore remains undecided on college.

Recap: St. John's Prep 48, Brockton 28

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
12:13
AM ET


WALTHAM, Mass. -– From the time Brockton muffed the opening kickoff, setting St. John’s Prep up with a short field to start the EMass. Div. 1 Super Bowl at Bentley University on Saturday, it was clear there would be no momentum shifts as the Eagles cruised, 48-28, for their first title since 1997.

No, momentum stayed with St. John’s for the duration of the one-sided Super Bowl showing.

Just 50 seconds after the attempted squib kick set St. John’s up at their own 45, Jonathan Thomas caught a pass in the flats and streaked 33 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Eagles (11-1) advantage.

The Boxers (9-4) quickly went three-and-out -– marking the best part of their first possession. A bad snap resulted in blocked punt by Lucas Bavaro, and a scoop and score by senior Jake Anemoduris –- and just like that, the Eagles were up 13-0 less than three minutes into play.

“We came out and executed the way were supposed to execute our game plan,” said St. John’s coach Jim O’Leary. “That’s what we do and that’s how we played.”

It got briefly better for the Boxers, who put together 10-play scoring drive capped by a 6-yard run by Moise Edouard. The rush attempt on the conversion failed.

Another attempted squib kick, this time a low line drive that settled at about the 15-yard line, resulted in bad fortune for Brockton. Gerald Kahari caught the ball inches from the turf, and took off up field. A couple blocks and a missed tackle later, he was tossing the ball to a referee 85 yards away after scoring a touchdown.

“Obviously you have to play better than that to beat a great team like St. John’s Prep,” said Brockton coach Peter Colombo. “Take nothing away from them, they beat us twice and they beat us in all three phases today and they deserved to win.

"Right off the bat, we gave them easy field position. They jumped out to the lead and now we’re playing catch up and that’s obviously not what we wanted. We were hoping to shorten the game and control, but we couldn’t do it.”

Brockton quickly turned the ball over on downs in their own territory, and Thomas eventually ran in from two yards out to extend the lead to 27-6.

After a Boxers punt, it seemed like Brockton would get a chance to get the ball with decent field position after a pass fell incomplete on third down at the St. John’s eight yard line. An unnecessary roughness penalty instead gave the Eagles another first down.

And when Brockton forced a second stop, a roughing the kicker on fourth down planted St. John’s at their 42 with a first down.
The following play was a 58-yard catch for a touchdown by Gatorade Player of the Year Alex Moore from quarterback Jack Sharrio.

An onside kick attempt by St. John’s was recovered by the Boxers. Zack Kessler was hurt on the play, and left on a stretcher (later diagnosed with a severe concussion).

Austin Roberts hit Micah Morel on the next play for a 59-yard score, cutting the lead to 34-12.

In the final minute of the first half, Thomas punched in another score, extending the halftime lead to a whopping 41-12. Moore added a 19-yard fumble recovery for a TD in the second half to cap the scoring for St. John’s.

Edouard added another rushing touchdown and Ricardo Calixte chipped in with a score with just under two minutes to play to wrap up Brockton’s scoring, but it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome their first half woes.

“We just didn’t execute,” said Roberts. “They played at a Super Bowl speed and we didn’t. They played kicked it up today and we didn’t, and that was the difference. All the credit to them, they deserved it.”

Prep's Moore named Gatorade Mass. Player of the Year

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
10:25
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St. John's Prep football senior running back and defensive back Alex Moore today has been named Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year.

Here's more from the release:
In its 28th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Alex Moore of St. John's Preparatory School as its 2012-13 Gatorade Massachusetts Football Player of the Year. Moore is the third Gatorade Massachusetts Football Player of the Year to be chosen from St. John's Preparatory School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Moore as Massachusetts’s best high school football player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award announced in December, Moore joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.), Wes Welker (1999-00, Heritage Hall HS, Okla.), Terrell Suggs (1999-00, Hamilton HS, Ariz.), Anquan Boldin (1998-99, Pahokee HS, Fla.) and Jerome Bettis (1989-90, Mackenzie HS, Mich.).

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior running back and safety has led the Eagles to a 10-1 record and a berth in the Division 1 Eastern Mass. title game against Brockton High, scheduled for Dec. 1. Moore rushed for 840 yards and 13 touchdowns on 106 carries and caught 17 passes for 381 yards and four scores through 11 games, including a 95-yard TD reception in a 9-0 win over rival Xaverian High in the Eagles’ regular-season finale. On defense, he has recorded 62 tackles, four interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Moore has maintained a weighted 4.05 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally at a homeless shelter and food bank, and as part of a fundraising campaign to benefit an area hospice program.

“Alex Moore is a very good football player,” said Jon Bartlett, athletic director at B.C. High. “He plays both sides of the ball and is probably a better defensive player than on offense. He is the total package.”

Moore remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Moore joins recent Gatorade Massachusetts Football Players of the Year Jonathan DiBiaso (2011-12, Everett High School), Matt Costello (2010-11, Everett High School), Nick LaSpada (2009-10, Billerica Memorial), Matt Grimard (2008-09, Dracut High School) and Matt Bellomo (2007-08, Holliston) among the state’s list of former award winners.

Picked-up pieces from Super Tuesday

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
7:19
PM ET
Leftover thoughts from last night’s slate of “Super Tuesday” MIAA playoff action:

Hitting the jackpot: Jonathan Thomas gets the game ball for St. John’s Prep after last night’s 21-0 win over Andover, and deservedly so, running for 173 of his 208 yards in the second half, and accounting for all three of the Eagles’ touchdowns. But another crucial aspect to the win was how they defended the pass – specifically, the short passing game.

Cam Farnham is one of the more slippery receivers to cover and plays a Welker-ish role on the team, opening up the deep field with his precise underneath routes. For Prep, Gerald Kahari seemed like the natural fit to cover the slot, and Thomas saw a little bit of action. But for most of the night, it was Alex Moore providing the coverage.

Farnham came into the game with over 1,000 all-purpose yards and 13 total touchdowns, including a team-high 11 TD receptions. But against Prep, he had just two catches for 10 yards, showing once again why the versatile Moore is a Mr. Football finalist as one of the state’s premier two-way players. With the underneath game limited, quarterback C.J. Scarpa ended up with a pedestrian night, throwing for 165 yards and two picks.

Ground and Pound: Brockton’s 33-7 rout of Weymouth last night was statistically the Boxers’ most dominant showing of the season. They attempted just one pass for an incompletion, and ran 45 rushing plays for 432 yards and five touchdowns, yielding century-mark nights for quarterback Austin Roberts and running back Moise Edouard. With the win, Roberts is now over the 1,000-yard mark with 1,050 yards, to go along with 16 touchdowns.

The Boxers’ switch from their traditional multiple look to a full-out Navy-style triple option has clearly paid off. They’ve run for over 3,000 yards and 37 touchdowns as a team, but the real proof is in way they keep moving the ball steadily downfield.

A look at the rushing averages on this six-game Boxers win streak:

Durfee – 30 plays, 9.1 yards per carry, 7 TD
Leominster – 45 plays, 5.9 yards per carry, 2 TD
Catholic Memorial – 36 plays, 7.3 yards per carry, 5 TD
New Bedford – 36 plays, 10 yards per carry, 4 TD
Bridgewater-Raynham – 38 plays, 5.5 yards per carry, 3 TD
Weymouth – 45 plays, 9.6 yards per carry, 5 TD

In losses to Reading and St. John’s Prep, they averaged just under five yards per carry. Against Pinkerton (N.H.), they averaged 7.25 yards per carry and outgained the Astros from scrimmage, but also fumbled the ball away four times.

Prep handled the Boxers easily the first time around, 27-12, behind a monster night from Jonathan Thomas. But in the two months since that loss, the Boxers appear to have fully committed to this rushing attack, and the no-name defense led by Micah Morel appears to have shored up. Can’t wait to see this matchup on Saturday.

Mountain Men: When you’re picking 28 games in one night, there’s margin for error every now and then.

Really, there’s no other way to explain our rationale behind my prediction that Greenfield’s Zak Bartak would “muscle the Green Wave to victory” in their Western Mass. Division 3 playoff game with Mt. Greylock.

Boy was I way off. The Mounties didn’t just pound Greenfield, they delivered the worst shutout loss of the Super Bowl era, blanking the Green Wave by an unheard-of margin of 62-0 –- with 10-minute quarters, no less.

Ethan Ryan had five touchdowns and 224 rushing yards by the half, and finished with 284 and six scores, as the Mounties accounted for 537 yards of total offense. It was a white-washing from the get-go. To find the last time there was a shutout even close to the one Greylock delivered last night, you have to go all the way back to 1980, when the famed Morris brothers of Ayer ran roughshod over Monty Tech for a 50-0 victory in the Division 2 Central Super Bowl.

Hats off to Mt. Greylock. I’m sure some us saw a Mounties win coming, but nobody could have predicted it would be by this margin.

Recap: St. John's Prep 21, Andover 0

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
12:14
AM ET
LOWELL – His football team was held to 66 yards of total offense and failed to score in the first half of Tuesday night's Eastern Massachusetts Division I semifinal against Andover, so St. John's Prep coach Jim O'Leary exited the locker room at halftime with a simple plan: Give the ball to Jonathan Thomas.

Thomas, a junior running back, ran for three second-half touchdowns to propel St. John's Prep to a 21-0 victory at Cawley Stadium.

Thomas finished the game with 208 yards rushing on 28 carries.

“They take chances [on defense],” O'Leary said. “So at halftime the coaches made some adjustments in our blocking scheme. We came out and knew what we were going to do. We were going to pound it at them.

“He can play. There's a reason he's a Division I scholarship player, and it showed tonight. We're gonna put the ball in the hands of people who can make plays.”

Thomas scored on runs of 1, 19 and 47 yards. His 1-yard touchdown run opened the scoring with 3:31 left in the third quarter. His two other touchdowns came in the fourth.

Thomas gained 184 of his 208 yards after halftime.

“We're a second-half team, and we knew what we had to do,” Thomas said. “We came out and executed.”

The game's turning point seemed to come late in the third quarter, after a 22-yard completion from Andover quarterback C.J. Scarpa to Will Heikkinen brought the ball to the St. John's Prep 12-yard line. Before Heikkinen was brought to the turf, however, Alex Moore forced a fumble and scooped up the loose ball.

The Eagles then drove 90 yards in nine plays and took a 14-0 lead when Thomas scored from 19 yards away and Stephen Camaro added the second of his three point-after kicks. Thomas accounted for all 90 yards in the drive. He gained 71 yards on the ground, and caught a 19-yard pass.

It was victory No. 200 for O'Leary. It also earned St. John's Prep (10-1) a berth in Saturday's Division I Super Bowl. St. John's Prep will face Brockton (9-3) at Bentley University at either 2 p.m. or 6 p.m.

Brockton advanced by beating Weymouth, 33-7, in Tuesday's other semifinal. St. John's Prep defeated Brockton 27-12 during the regular season.

“Coach O [O'Leary] is a great coach,” Thomas said. “I'm happy for him.

“We still have a lot of work to do. We have one more game, and I'm ready for it.

POINTLESS EXERCISE
Andover moved the ball inside the St. John's Prep 15-yard line four times in the loss. Two of those drives ended with a missed field goal.

“I take responsibility,” Andover coach E.J. Perry said. “We should have been able to punch it in, and that's my fault.”

It was the third time St. John's Prep has shut out an opponent this season. Andover scored at least 40 points in six of its 11 regular-season games and entered the contest averaging 40.8 points per game

“Against this team here you can't let them have the home run,” O'Leary said. “You just can't give up the big play. When they get down close, our athletes are very, very good. From the 30 in, we started running man to man because we can run with them there. Then we can put extra people in the box and bring pressure.”

Thomas has played sparingly on defense this season, but was used there Tuesday night. He made a big hit on Scarpa on a fourth-and-five play in the fourth quarter. Scarpa was held to a 1-yard and Andover turned the ball over on downs. Two plays later Thomas powered his way through the line for his 47-yard TD run.

“We let up a lot of yards, but when other teams get into the red zone we don't let them score,” St. John's Prep defensive back Lucas Bavaro said. “We knew we had to step it up because they were knocking on the door a couple times in the first half.”

FOOTNOTES
Scarpa completed 16 of 28 passes for 162 yards. He was intercepted twice. Scarpa entered the contest with 32 touchdown passes and five interceptions this season. … Andover running back Jack Sylvester gained 146 yards on 15 carries. … St. John's Prep has won eight games in a row since dropping a 19-7 decision to Everett. … The Eagles will be making their first Super Bowl appearance since 2010.

ST. JOHN'S PREP 21, ANDOVER 0
St. John's Prep 0 0 7 14 – 21
Andover 0 0 0 0 –0

Third Quarter
SJP—Thomas 1 run (Stephen Camaro kick), 3:31.

Fourth Quarter
SJP—Thomas 19 run (Camaro kick), 7:12.
SJP—Thomas 47 run (Camaro kick), 4:48.

Five things to watch in Tuesday's football playoffs

November, 27, 2012
11/27/12
3:08
AM ET
We're hours away from kickoff to Tuesday's MIAA football semi-final playoff games across the state, so we're previewing the action with five things to keep an eye on during tonight's action.

High Schools editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall break it down here:

BRENDAN HALL:

THE HEAT IS ON
The race is on Tuesday night for the state’s lead in rushing touchdowns. Currently, Holy Name’s Quron Wright trails Plymouth South’s Dylan Oxsen, 34-33, though Wright has more overall touchdowns than the breakout junior tailback. Barring something crazy, nobody figures to catch Wright for the state’s lead in rushing yardage – he’s over 2,000 headed into the Naps’ Division 2 Central playoff game with Nashoba.

Watching the two, it’s a bit of a contrast in styles, and not just because of the offenses they run (Holy Name with the vaunted double-wing; South with a modified pistol). The generously-listed 5-foot-7 Wright is as Lilliputian as they come, but he accelerates into his cuts, builds up to top speed quickly, and evades direct hits with his low center of gravity (watch highlights HERE). Oxsen isn’t as fleet-footed as Wright, but his combination of above-average leg strength and low pad level – coupled with a very downhill-oriented running scheme – make him a bowling ball (watch highlights HERE).

Both teams figure to be underdogs in their matchups. Nashoba rolled to an easy victory over the Naps in their late-September meeting, while South’s EMass Div. 2A opponent, Natick, averages over 420 yards of offense and features one of the state’s most dynamic passing attacks.

AIR RAID
All season long, we’ve jokingly called the Merrimack Valley Conference “Death by 1,000 Shallow Crosses”. Based on some of the scores the league produced this year, we think it’s somewhat justified.

Looking at MVC Large champ Andover, you probably figure these guys could run underneath routes in their sleep. But that is to take away from the deceivingly-quality arm strength of quarterback C.J. Scarpa (watch highlights HERE). Seemingly everybody’s favorite sub-6-foot gunslinger at 5-foot-8, he has a quick release and can gun it downfield with the best of them.

As much attention as Andover’s receivers draw in the short passing game – particularly, speedy waterbug Cam Farnham – the Golden Warriors are known to ably execute “pick plays” aimed at releasing Will Heikkinen or Andrew Deloury into open space, or simply take the top off of the defense.

But that is all to say, the Warriors haven’t seen a defense quite like the one they’re facing Tuesday night in Catholic Conference champion St. John’s Prep. The Eagles have playmakers all over the field, and feature one of the state’s best back sevens in linebacker Sean Smerczysnki, cornerback Gerald Kahari, rover Lucas Bavaro and safety Alex Moore.

On the other side of the ball, Moore and junior Jonathan Thomas make up one of the state’s most feared backfield, if not the best. Last week, both Moore and Thomas were named two of the five finalists for our Mr. Football Award.

The Warriors are in for their biggest prize fight of the season here against a Prep defense. We’re all interested to see how this passing attack fares against a ball-hawking defense with a plus-10 turnover differential.

THROWING DARTS
No Division has been quite as unpredictable as Central Mass. Division 1. Shrewsbury upended cross-town rival St. John’s 51-46, then a month later delivered a last-second 33-32 upset of Leominster, en route to finishing 9-2 and with the top overall seed in the power rankings.

Wachusett, meanwhile, took a 46-14 beating in Week 4 at the hands of St. John’s, only to upset Leominster and Shrewsbury in the following weeks. On Oct. 26, however, they took a surprise 21-20 loss to a Westborough squad that finished 1-10.

We know St. John’s can score points with anyone – Andrew Smiley’s record-setting campaign in his first year starting at quarterback is testament. But how do you explain surrendering 51 points to Shrewsbury, 40 to Holy Name and 39 to Milford?

Leominster appears to be just as enigmatic. This is a team that gave Everett and Brockton everything they could handle, and delivered a thrilling last-second victory over St. John’s. But this is also a team that needed a second-half rally to overcome 2-9 Algonquin, and seemingly let many underdog teams hang around.

Quite frankly, I won’t be surprised by anything that transpires in this division.

* * * * *

SCOTT BARBOZA:

MANIFEST DESTINY?
The are a couple of interesting storylines to watch in the Division 1A semifinals where Everett meets Masconomet and Barnstable tries to pay back Lincoln-Sudbury.

First, while the Crimson Tide will be heavily favored over the Chieftains, one element worth watching will be Everett’s start. The Crimson Tide will be well-rested after not playing a Thanksgiving Day game this year. While the time off certainly will help heal injuries, Everett now hasn’t seen live action in more than two weeks. And, after closing out their regular season schedule with three straight Greater Boston League games, you can argue the Crimson Tide haven’t played a full game since their Oct. 20 win at BC High.

Of course, if the Crimson Tide advance, they could face the lone team to hand them a loss in more than two years – Barnstable. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders will be looking to exorcise a demon of their own in Lincoln-Sudbury, who dealt Barnstable a 14-13 upset loss in last year’s semifinal.

While you would expect neither the Crimson Tide nor Red Raiders to come out flat on Tuesday, but if either is eying a potential rematch on Saturday, the game we’ve been dying to see might not happen at all.

DUXBURY PUTS IT ON THE LINE AGAIN
After Mt. Greylock lost a few weeks back, Duxbury has laid claim to the longest active winning streak in MIAA football. They’ll put a 37-game unbeaten streak on the line when they face Hockomock League Kelley-Rex winner Mansfield at Bridgewater-Raynham. The Dragons would have a 39-game streak and a string of three-straight Super Bowl championships if they complete this year’s run. But while we’re exploring what could be, let’s go back to what almost was.

In last year’s Division 2 semifinal against King Philip, the Dragons potent spread attack was ground to a halt by the Warriors’ swarming defense. Duxbury escaped with a 7-0 win over KP in their run to a second-straight Super Bowl, but in the days following their win over the Warriors, Duxbury head coach Dave Maimaron remarked that it had been the toughest battle his teams had faced during the entirety of the streak.

While Mansfield might not have the pedigree of last year’s KP group the Hornets present their own problems – primarily on offense. The Dragons will not have seen a playmaking duo quite like Mansfield wide outs Brendan Hill and Mike Hershman, and running back Robbie Rapoza is hard to tackle when breaking into the second tier of the defense. The Hornets will certainly have their work cut out for them if they are to upset the Dragons’ third straight Super Bowl bid, but it’s not impossible.

Recap: No. 3 St. John's Prep 9, Xaverian 0

November, 22, 2012
11/22/12
11:48
PM ET
WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Thousands of years later, the Greek phalanx remains one of the greatest military inventions to date. The principle was simple, relying on tightly arranged ranks with long spears protruding through packed-in shields.

You can make parallels between the Spartan tactics and this year’s defensive unit of No. 3 St. John’s Prep. The Eagles have been a machine-like, nearly impenetrable while surrendering an average of about nine points per game.

Also, as in those Greek battalions, Prep has been able to replenish its ranks. If one man falls, another steps up and takes his place. Eagles senior defensive lineman Chris Newton is proof positive. Originally a linebacker, Newton has stepped up to play defensive tackle in recent weeks.

Newton and his teammates showed that they haven’t collectively lost a beat, putting together a thorough defensive showcase in a 9-0 blanking of Xaverian Thursday at the Hawk Bowl. In the process, the Eagles (9-1, 4-0) closed out the Catholic Conference title and advance to play Merrimack Valley Large champion Andover in Tuesday’s Eastern Mass. Division 1 playoffs.

“The past three years, they’ve just had tons of formations coming into Thanksgiving Day that you really don’t know what they’re going to do,” Eagles senior defensive end Tucker Mathers (2 fumble recoveries) said. “But we adapt and make plays. And that’s what we’re good at.”

Prep took a first-quarter lead on a safety, with Xaverian punter’s knee hitting the turf in the end zone, and that’s the way it remained through halftime.

The defensive stalemate didn’t cease but for a very brief moment in the third quarter for Xaverian. And Prep made them pay with Jack Sharrio hitting Alex Moore on a 95-yard touchdown pass.

From there, both defenses reassumed their stifling pace.

In total, there were nine turnovers between the teams (six fumbles recoveries and four interceptions). The defensive lines of both the Eagles and Hawks were dominant and disruptive.

“They’ve been playing like that all year long,” Prep head coach Jim O’Leary said. “We’ve given up like nine points per game against one of the toughest schedules that anybody plays.”

STEPPING UP
On a day chockfull of outstanding defensive performances, Newton might have been the player of the game. Along with fellow defensive tackle Corey Jean-Jacques, Prep was able to get an interior pass rush with Newton racking up two sacks, including a strip-sack in the first half. With Jean-Jaques occupying a double-team for most of the morning, the Eagles were also able to effectively set the edge with ends Anthony Bongiorno and Mathers (2 fumble recoveries).

“He was a linebacker, but we moved him down and made him put his hand down and he’s played so tough,” O’Leary said of Newton. “He’s so undersized, but he goes sideline-to-sideline, he breaks double-teams, and then Corey [Jean-Jacques], they have to double him because he’s so dominant.”

Newton moved from inside linebacker to tackle when run-stuffer F.J. Murphy went down with a season-ending knee injury. He’s taken to his new position.

“It was tough at first, but it’s all about technique,” Newton said. “I’ve just been working as hard as I can on that.

LOOKING FOR THE HOMERUN BALL
O’Leary and his team were fully prepared for the trench warfare that was about to ensue on Thursday, but it came as a surprise that Prep’s big offensive play came via the pass.

The Hawks defensive line matched the intensity and pressure the Eagles brought with Xaverian’s four-man line of Ray Gobbi , Mo Hurst (1.5 TFL, FF), Elijah Jolly (1 TFL, 2 FR) and Joe Gaziano (1.5 TFL, 1 sack) controlling the point of attack in the first half.

The Eagles’ All-State caliber backfield of Moore and Jonathan Thomas were held at bay, with Moore (1 INT) finishing with a negative yardage mark for the first half. Although, at the end of the day, Thomas led all players with 141 yards on the ground, nearly outpacing the Hawks by himself.

“We knew they play tough defense,” O’Leary said. “We had plenty of chances, in the red zone, in the first half, but we didn’t score. I knew we were in trouble right then.

O’Leary continued, “They put all those people in the box and it came down to us against them. It was just man-on-man, and it was tough.”

But Prep was able to put the game away on the Sharrio to Moore connection. The play was an 8-yard out, designed to pick up a first down. Moore came away with much more, however, after a missed tackle in the flat, a downfield juke and a downfield block left nothing but green in front of the Mr. Football Award finalist.

BACK TO THE PROMISED LAND
Thursday’s win meant the Eagles will be right back to work on Friday, with Tuesday’s playoff game against Andover looming.

But, for Prep’s senior class, which returns to postseason play after an absense last year, they’re right on schedule.

“We were looking for this for a while,” Moore said. “We were saying senior year that we would be pretty good, and now it’s here. It’s great living it and we’re just trying to live in the moment.”

ESPN Boston Mr. Football Award Finalists

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
3:05
PM ET
ESPNBoston.com and its high school sports staff today have named five finalists for the third annual ESPNBoston.com Mr. Football Award. The winner will be announced on Dec. 3, and presented on the field at Gillette Stadium prior to the Patriots’ Dec. 16 contest against the Houston Texans.

Last year, Everett’s Jonathan DiBiaso won the award, following in the footsteps of his former wide receiver Matt Costello, who took the inaugural honors in 2010.

Below are the five finalists:

John Montelus
Senior Offensive Tackle
Everett High School
John Montelus
John Montelus
Montelus is the first offensive lineman in the three-year history of our award to be named a finalist, and deservedly so. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder is a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide, over which they have gone 34-1 with two MIAA Super Bowl championships headed into Thanksgiving. During his varsity career, Montelus has never allowed a sack, helping pave the way for a record-setting quarterback last fall, and a dominant running game this year. Montelus is verbally committed to Notre Dame, and is regarded as the top college prospect in the Class of 2013 for New England.

Alex Moore
Senior Running Back/Safety
St. John's Preparatory School
Alex Moore
Alex Moore
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Moore has been arguably the state's most dominant true two-way player this season. Offensively, Moore has carried the ball 82 times for 812 yards and 14 touchdowns; through the air, he has caught 14 balls for 272 yards and three more scores, adding to a dominant offense (30.3 points per game). Defensively, the Eagles are allowing just nine points a game with Moore leading the charges at safety. The Eagles are allowing 105 rushing yards per game and have fored 20 turnovers, with a differential of plus-nine. Moore is undecided on college plans.

Nick Peabody
Senior Quarterback
Barnstable High School
Nick Peabody
Nick Peabody
One of the state's premier passers, the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder led the 9-0 Red Raiders to an upset of Everett in Week 5 and has been cruising ever since. On the season, he has over 2,200 yards passing with 27 touchdowns and just five interceptions; on the ground, he has shown some flair with over 400 yards rushing and five more scores. In turn, the Red Raiders are one of the state's highest-scoring offenses (37.4 points per game), and clinched the Old Colony League outright and a playoff berth for the second straight season. Peabody is currently undecided on college plans.

Jonathan Thomas
Junior Running Back
St. John's Preparatory School
Jonathan Thomas
Jonathan Thomas
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior exploded this fall as one of the most dominant running backs in the state, leading the Eagles to a 9-1 record and No. 3 ranking in ESPNBoston.com's poll headed into Thanksgiving. The Eagles have run for over 2,000 yards through nine games, with Thomas at the forefront. He has 153 carries for 1,399 yards and 11 touchdowns, and also has two receiving touchdowns. Thomas is garnering interest from a number of Division 1 programs, with UMass offering and Penn State, Virginia and Boston College also showing interest.

Quron Wright
Senior Running Back
Holy Name Central Catholic High School
Quron Wright
Quron Wright
Pound for pound, nobody can match the 5-foot-7, 165-pounder's stats for 2012. Through 10 games, he has 189 carries for 2,075 yards and 32 touchdowns, along with 103 receiving yards and an amazing 786 yards on returns, for a total of 38 scores -- more than any running back in Massachusetts. Earlier this season, Wright shattered the school's all-time rushing record with a school single-game record 406 rushing yards. Headed into the Naps' Thanksgiving clash with Wachusett, Wright has 5,712 rushing yards, 523 receiving yards and 2,639 return yards. His next touchdown would make him just the fourth player in state history with 600 career points. Wright is undecided on college plans.

Recap: No. 3 St. John's Prep 21, BC High 16

November, 10, 2012
11/10/12
11:05
PM ET


DANVERS, Mass. -– The stage is now set for yet another Thanksgiving Day game between St. John’s Prep and Xaverian to see who will represent the Catholic Conference in the Division 1 playoffs.

Prep (9-1, 3-0) took care of business on Saturday afternoon’s Senior Day as they defeated a motivated and resilient BC High team 21-16. They will face their archrivals Xaverian (4-6, 3-0) for the outright Catholic Conference title.

“We knew that they were back and they were healthy and that they are one of the best teams in the state,” St. John’s Prep head coach Jim O’Leary said of BC High.

BC High struck first in the opening quarter as senior kicker Jackson Bockhorst knocked home a 37-yard field goal with 6:14 on the clock.

With the BC High defense not giving an inch and the St. John’s Prep defense playing just as stingy, early yards and first downs were tough to come by.

The play of the game occurred in the second quarter and would shift the momentum in St. John’s Prep’s favor as they held BC High on a Fourth-and-One attempt at the Prep 28 yard line.

“We came out slow and but that play certainly changed things for us,” O’Leary said.

After the hold, Prep fed star junior running back Johnny Thomas six times in a row for 72 yards, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown run.

After a three and out by BC High on the following series, Thomas carried the ball five more times in a row en route to his second touchdown run of the game from three yards out.

“Our defense really motivates are offense,” Thomas said. “We just feed off them.”

Thomas ran for a game high 172 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns. He also added two catches for 31 yards.

After a scoreless third quarter, BC High got the big play that they needed to get them back in the game. Senior quarterback Dan Collins would find wide receiver Tim Johnson for a 52-yard touchdown strike with 6:41 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 14-9 after a failed conversion pass.

On the ensuing drive, Prep used a steady dose of Thomas and Moore as they drove 74 yards in five minutes with Moore finishing off the drive by scoring from four yards out to give St. John’s Prep a 21-9 lead with 1:21 reaming.

“We looked at each other in the huddle and we knew we had to dig deep,” Moore said. “We did not want to leave it on the table so we focused and executed”

BC High would not give in after Moore’s score as Collins would lead them down field and find Skelly Enabuele from 17 yards out with 2.1 seconds remaining before the horn sounded on the following kickoff to end the game.

In the Prep Trenches: The St. John’s Prep offensive line has done it game in and game out this season, led by senior captain and center James Fagan.

The remainder of the Prep line is made up of underclassmen. They include junior left tackle Sean Hoey, junior left guard Kent Blaeser, junior right guard Dominic Hooven, and sophomore right tackle Jacob Palmer.

On the defensive side of the ball the Eagles front seven played well led by junior middle linebacker Sean Smerczynski (12 tackles), senior defensive end Tucker Mathers (eight Tackles, sack), and senior defensive end Chris Newton (two Sacks).

Turkey Day: Xaverian has now won three games in a row and will host this year’s annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game.

Xaverian has struggled out of league play this season but after defeating Catholic Memorial on Friday 17-7 and BC High last week, 21-17, the match-up should provide a competitive and dramatic ending to the 2012 Catholic Conference season.

“I do not think people understand enough the strength of schedule that we play, BC High plays and Xaverian plays,” O’Leary said. “It is a dog fight. Records do not matter right now. We are 3-0, Xaverian is 3-0 and whoever wins on Thanksgiving goes to the playoffs.”

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