Boston High School: Andrew Murowchick
December, 3, 2011
By Marc Thaler | ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – On the strength of Bartley Regan's right arm, BC High earned its berth in the Eastern Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
But the passing game was option No. 2 in Saturday's final, thanks largely to an offensive line that fueled a first-rate running game against no-quit underdog Needham.
Deontae Ramey-Doe ran for 200 yards on 24 carries in BC High's 21-7 title-clinching win. But, just as quickly as Ramey-Doe hit the holes, he lauded the unheralded stars up front for ripping open those running lanes.
“They got real nasty,” said the 6-foot 1-inch, 180-pound senior, whose three touchdown runs included a highlight-reel 91-yard breakaway to the end zone, snapping a 7-all tie in the second quarter.
Who were the guys who enabled Ramey-Doe to gash the Rockets?
Left to right, across the line: Left tackle Justin Roberts, left guard Mike Prendeville, center Jake Durkin, right guard Jack McDonald and right tackle Bill Breen. Ends Jameson McShea, a Temple recruit, and Mark McGuire added to BC High's toughness in the trenches.
Make no mistake. Running the football requires attitude. BC High (10-3) certainly had it.
The Eagles averaged a whopping 7.7 yards per carry. Ramey-Doe, Luke Catarius (10 carries for 87 yards), James Moynahan and Regan combined for 39 rushes.
BC High's quartet tallied 300 of the offense's 360 total yards.
“Our game plan coming in was to mix it up (with the run and pass),” said BC High head coach Jon Bartlett, whose team led at halftime, 14-7. “We felt in the second half, we could establish the run more, so that's what we went to.”
Helping the head coach make that decision was the fact BC High lacked rhythm in the passing game.
So, Bartlett sent this message as the Eagles started the second half: Keep pounding the ball on the ground.
Those are words every offensive lineman loves to hear.
“It's the best feeling, just knowing that your running back can hit that hole and has open field in front of him,” said McDonald, a towering 6-foot-4, 270-pound junior. “There's nothing better than that.”
Case in point: Ramey-Doe's dagger 91-yard run.
Backed up at their 9-yard line after Andrew Murowchick's punt temporarily altered field position, the Eagles ran a shotgun draw. Ramey-Doe cut to McDonald's side of the line, where a gaping hole opened.
BC High's burner accelerated through it and raced down the right sideline. Ronnie Rosser nearly made a shoestring tackle 4 yards from the end zone. But Ramey-Doe fell forward across the goal line.
The offensive line continued to help kill clock in the third quarter. The Eagles orchestrated a 13-play drive over a span of six minutes, 40 seconds.
“We were all disappointed last year, not going to the playoffs,” said Breen, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior. “I know our whole team spent a lot of time in the weight room.”
It paid off.
Needham (9-4) routinely shifted along the defensive line. Yet, when the ball was snapped, the Eagles were routinely in position to provide a massive push.
“It's all attitude,” Breen said. “You have to want it.”
November, 30, 2011
By Matt Noonan | ESPNBoston.com
WEYMOUTH, Mass. -– For the first time in school history, the Needham Rockets are headed to the Division I Super Bowl, as they defeated the New Bedford Whalers in the semi-finals on Tuesday evening at Weymouth High School, 42-14.
“It feels great, it feels great,” exclaimed Needham head coach Dave Duffy. “We’ve never won a playoff game, [and] it’s always hung over our heads a little bit.”
“They’re a good football team for sure, there’s no question about it, and we certainly respect them,” said New Bedford head coach Dennis Golden.
Needham sophomore quarterback Ryan Charter (183 passing yards, 3 total TD) led the way, while senior running back Mike Vespa (12 carries, 34 yards) and sophomores Mike Panepinto and Rashawn Wise each provided the Rockets with a score each.
The Rockets defense complimented their offensive unit by holding the Whalers' offense to just one touchdown in the fourth quarter, and by also recording seven sacks against junior quarterback Mike Rapoza.
“Nothing was going right [for us],” said Rapoza. “I didn’t have any time to read my reads, and it was just tough, really tough.”
Said Needham senior defensive lineman Jamie Arnao, “[The] D-line and linebackers played unbelievable. They were getting penetration all game long, even the second d-line when they came in there and they were dominating, so all around, defense played fantastic, d-backs got a couple coverage sacks, so it was a [good all around effort]."
Overall, Tuesday’s game was by far the best that all three Needham units played this season, and certainly that made Duffy quite pleased.
“Everybody played well,” said Duffy. “Everything went well there right up to the end, and I’m so proud of the kids.”
Charter carries the day: Needham had never won a playoff game until Tuesday against New Bedford, so while many doubted Charter and his chances to lead the Rockets to their first victory in school history, the young quarterback appeared completely unfazed for the entire 40 minutes, and played his best game of the season.
“He was near perfect,” said Burnett, when asked to describe his teammate’s performance. “He played a heck of a game, but he’s been unbelievable, making all the passes, making the right reads, and doing everything that a quarterback should do.”
“He was poised all game long, he didn’t get nervous,” said Arnao. “Having a kid like that in the huddle is awesome and now we know he’s going to make the play. We’ve got the confidence with him, [and] hopefully we can carry it into [Saturday].”
Charter completed 10 of 12 passes, and registered two scores with his legs. He appeared incredibly comfortable on the run, and even when his pocket collapsed too.
“It’s been our goal [to make it to Gillette Stadium, and Ryan] made it happen,” said Burnett.
Controlling the clock: The Rockets offense controlled the clock for a majority of the game and kept the Whalers offense sidelined for literally the entire second half. However, one of the biggest time constraining drives for the Rockets occurred during the third quarter, as Needham ate up roughly nine minutes, and tallied one score on 16 plays.
“We needed to get the ball back right away, [and] we didn’t do it,” said Golden. “They were a better team, [so] good job to them, great job to them.”
Golden also explained that the Rockets defense helped their offense keep the ball in their hands by forcing numerous three-and-outs.
“We had to establish a line of scrimmage, [but] they did it, we didn’t,” said Golden. “It’s frustrating, but they earned it, so hopefully we can earn it in the future.”
Needham’s Super Bowl Goal: Prior to the start of the season, numerous Needham seniors expressed their number one goal for the year was making it to Gillette Stadium. The Rockets clinched a spot in Saturday’s MIAA Division I Super Bowl against heavy favorite BC High, but Arnao he believes his team is mentally prepared for their final opponent of the season.
“We’ve got to play our game,” said Arano. “We’ve got a tough opponent against BC High, they’re going to be good, [and] we know that, so we just got to come out, and all the seniors have got to step up, all the under classman have to step up, and we just got to play our game, so hopefully we can get it done.”
NEEDHAM 42, NEW BEDFORD 14
NE (9-3) – 14 -14 - 7 - 7 --- 42
NB (5-6) – 0 - 0 - 6 - 8 --- 14
NE – Mike Vespa 33 run (Andrew Murowchick kick)
NE – Rashawn Wise 18 run (Murowchick kick)
NE – Mark Riley 13 pass from Ryan Charter (Murowchick kick)
NE – Charter 1 run (Murowchick kick)
NE – Charter 1 run (Murowchick kick)
NB – Mike Rapoza 65 kickoff return (rush failed)
NE – Mike Panepinto 17 run (Murowchick kick)
NB – Rapoza 15 run (Kevin Nunes run)
October, 29, 2011
By Matt Noonan | ESPNBoston.com
NEEDHAM, Mass. -– Just one week after the No. 16 Needham Rockets scored one of their gutsiest wins of this season, they came back to Earth thanks to an electric Natick offensive display, the Red and Blue winning 49-24 to hand the Rockets their first loss of 2011.
“This is huge. That’s a great team,” said Natick head coach Mark Mortarelli. “Unfortunately, they’re under-manned, a couple of guys got hurt during this game, [and] of course the quarterback’s out, but anytime you beat Needham, they’re very well-coached and they’re very balanced. It’s just huge for us.”
Natick sophomore quarterback Troy Flutie, (11 of 14, 181 yards, 2 TD), set the tone early, as he connected with sophomore wide receiver Alex Hilger for the game's initial score, before Needham responded with a field goal by senior place kicker Andrew Murowchick.
The Rockets then surprised the Red and Blue on the ensuing kick-off with an onside kick, which set up sophomore quarterback Ryan Charter's nine-yard scoring strike to senior tailback Mike Vespa. Flutie and freshman Brian Dunlap, (12 carries, 69 yards 3 TD), responded with a score each, which gave Natick a 21-17 lead at the break.
In the second half, Vespa (11 carries, 78 yards) capped off a seven play series with a five-yard plunge. But it was all Natick the rest of the way, scoring 27 unanswered points. Flutie threw and ran for a score, while Dunlap and junior Nick Lee each sprinted by Needham’s defense for points.
“[This win] is great," Flutie said. "It gives us so much confidence heading into Wellesley, Walpole and Framingham. I feel great about those games, [and] I really feel like we can win those and go farther."
Line Opened the Run: After the Red and Blue celebrated their seventh win of the season, Flutie and Dunlap thanked their offensive line after the game, who provided the necessary holes to help the team combine for 255 yards on the ground.
“The running game was awesome," Flutie said. "Our o-line blocked awesome, our coaching as awesome. Coach [Brian] Maloney, Coach [Matt] Brenneman, all our o-line men did their jobs, and we had holes, it was great.”
Said Dunlap, “I know the offensive line was awesome. I’m so happy for those guys, they worked their butts off, and they practiced hard all week, and it’s tough being an o-line men, but they’re proud of what they do. I couldn’t do it without them.”
Even Mortarelli was quite pleased, saying, “They were just clicking. That was the best I’ve seen them play, and I was really proud of our offensive coaches.”
Needham’s Injuries: The Rockets offense, defense and special teams was nipped by the injury bug all evening, as senior running backs Ian Riley and Mike Vespa both left the game and did not return.
Riley, (three carries, 28 yards), who exited after the first quarter returned to the sidelines for the remainder of the contest with no pads or helmet, but instead, crutches. After the game concluded, he quickly muttered that he sprained his MCL and could most likely miss the rest of the season.
As for Vespa, he may have sustained a concussion on the team’s only touchdown of the second half, according to head coach Dave Duffy.
“We think he could be back in a couple of weeks, so we don’t know," Duffy said. "Riley hopefully [will] be back in a couple weeks too.”
Burnett returned to the gridiron: Two weeks after his quarterbacking career at Needham ended with a broken ankle against Milton, senior co-captain Drew Burnett returned to Memorial Field on Friday evening, and met Natick’s captains at midfield for the opening coin toss. Afterward, Burnett was forced to watch his team struggled against a Red and Blue offense that refused to be stopped.
“It’s tough to watch, especially with a game like this [one],” said Burnett after his team’s second loss of the season.
NATICK 49, NEEDHAM 24
NAT (7-1) 7 14 7 22 --- 49
NEE (7-1) 10 7 7 0 --- 24
Nat – Alex Hilger 32 pass from Troy Flutie (Sam Lenson kick)
Need – Andrew Murowchick, 35 field goal
Need – Mike Vespa 9 pass from Ryan Charter (Murowchick kick)
Nat – Brian Dunlap 20 run (Lenson kick)
Need – Nico Panepinto 27 pass from Charter (Murowchick kick)
Nat – Flutie 14 run (Lenson kick)
Need – Vespa 5 run (Murowhick kick)
Nat – Nick Lee 2 run (Lenson kick)
Nat – Flutie 6 run (Dunlap run)
Nat – Dunlap 36 run (Lenson kick)
Nat – Dunlap 7 run (kick blocked)
October, 21, 2011
By Adam Kurkjian | ESPNBoston.com
NEEDHAM, Mass. -- The Needham football team proved Friday night that the loss of one player is not going to derail its chances at a Bay State Conference Carey Division title and more.
With starting quarterback Drew Burnett out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury, sophomore Ryan Charter found himself at the helm against Walpole and proceeded to burn the visiting Rebels with one big play after another in a 31-22 Rockets' win.
“Honestly, I found out (that I would start about) 20 minutes before the game,” said Charter, who completed 5-of-10 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. “A couple kids were telling me, ‘You’re going to get in the game.’ I was, like, ‘Alright, that’s all I need.’ But I didn’t know until today.”
The heavy-hearted coach of the No. 16 Rockets, David Duffy, had to compose himself when he remarked how his players “wanted to do it for Drew.”
They did it alright, as they took down Walpole for the first time since 2006 and looked good doing so. Despite Walpole having what Rebels coach Barry Greener said was his team’s best offensive game of the season, Needham (6-1, 6-0 in the BSC) never wavered, landing haymaker after haymaker.
Ian Riley (115 yards rushing) set up Needham’s first touchdown with a 64-yard run that was soon followed by a jet sweep to senior Dan Pierce, who pulled up and hit Nico Panepinto for a 31-yard touchdown.
Walpole (6-1 overall and in BSC) answered with a Steve Thulin 4-yard score but the PAT was wide right to keep it at 7-6. One play later, Charter hit Mark Riley for a 67-yard touchdown pass as the Rockets took a 14-6 lead into halftime.
They built on it on the first series of the third quarter when Charter found Mark Riley again, this time for a 74-yard score that pushed the advantage to 21-6. Walpole immediately answered on a Shane Blass (152 yards rushing) 66-yard scoring run that helped make it 21-14 after a P.J. Hayes two-point rush.
Needham again had a response, though, as Charter hit Mike Vespa on a 49-yard screen that led to a 19-yard Andrew Murowchick field goal.
The Rockets defense then held for a turnover on downs and the offense chewed up 6:48 in a drive that culminated in a 6-yard Ian Riley run to make it 31-14 midway through the fourth.
Walpole added the final points when Hayes scored from six yards out and Blass added the two points out of the Wildcat, but Needham ran out the clock effectively on the final drive to secure the victory.
A BALANCED EFFORT
Walpole coach Barry Greener praised Needham after the game for always having great balance on offense, and his team paid dearly for it on Friday night. The Rockets can hurt defenses in a variety of ways, and the Rebels simply had a hard time getting Needham’s offense off the field. Charter was efficient on his throws, did not turn the ball over and made the Rebels pay for cheating up on play-action. The running back duo of Ian Riley at tailback and Vespa at fullback provided the sleeper hold on Walpole’s defense when it needed to kill the clock in the final quarter. Mark Riley again proved to be a speedy option in the passing game, and Pierce also made two big receptions in the fourth to help the Rockets extend their final touchdown drive, including a 24-yarder on third-and-13 from the Needham 18. The Rockets simply put on a clinic against one of the better defenses in the area.
There was a lot of speed on the field, but Hayes, a junior cornerback and wide receiver, may have been the fastest player out there. Although he bit on the trick play that resulted in Needham’s first score, he prevented one earlier in the drive when he chased down Ian Riley from a bad angle on the 64-yard run. Hayes also broke up several passes with good technique on some long throws to his side. And if Hayes wasn’t the fastest player on the Rebel sideline, it was Blass, who can really scoot once he gets in the open field. The Rebels have struggled at times on offense this year, but those two only need a little space to change those fortunes on any given play.
NEEDHAM 31, WALPOLE 22
Walpole (6-1, 6-1 BSC) 0 6 8 8 - 22
Needham (6-1, 6-0 BSC) 7 7 10 7 - 31
N - Nico Panepinto 31 pass from Dan Pierce (Andrew Murowchick kick)
W - Steve Thulin 4 run (kick failed)
N - Mark Riley 67 pass from Ryan Charter (Murowchick kick)
N - M. Riley 74 pass from Charter (Murowchick kick)
W - Shane Blass 66 run (P.J. Hayes rush)
N - Murowchick 19 FG
N - Ian Riley 6 run (Murowchick kick)
W - Hayes 6 run (Blass rush)