Boston High School: Andrew Papirio

Recap: No. 8 Walpole 17, No. 9 Natick 14

October, 25, 2014
10/25/14
8:51
AM ET


NATICK, Mass. – For whatever Jack Lavanchy might go on to accomplish in life, he’ll always have the memory of making a field goal with the game on the line in the final seconds.

It wasn’t just any game either. As No. 8 Walpole traveled to No. 9 Natick in a battle of unbeatens and with the Bay State Conference Herget division title on the line, the senior wide receiver and cornerback could have been struck with pangs of trepidation before setting up for what would prove to be the game-winning 28-yard field goal Friday night.

With the hopes of a town settled on his shoulders, Lavanchy split the uprights, giving the Rebels a 17-14 win.

For the last seven years, the game had decided the Herget title, with Natick getting the upper hand in recent years, including a wild overtime victory at Walpole last year, when the teams combined for 111 points. With Lavanchy’s boot, the Rebels returned the favor in serving the Redhawks a taste of the gut-wrenching loss they’d encountered a year prior.

With so much riding on one kick, it would have been understandable for a young man to falter. Lavanchy didn’t. And, for whatever emotions might have been bottled up inside his helmet in lead up to that kick, you certainly weren’t able to tell otherwise afterward. “Probably number one in the books,” was Lavanchy’s assessment of one of the finer high school football games you’d ever see.

“It’s a hyped-up game, but you try to stay mellow,” he added. “But we came to play, the defense played well.”

The kid’s just cool as a cucumber.

“I’m just elated”: So how did the Rebels beat the Redhawks?

It was one part plan, and another part execution.

Walpole’s coaching staff knew they needed to stop Natick’s Harvard-bound receiver Brian Dunlap coming in, but the myriad ways in which they’d have to stop Dunlap might have been another story.

Natick (6-1) used Dunlap across a number of formations, setting him in the backfield of what Rebels head coach Barry Greener called “Georgia” sets, pushing Dunlap in motion out of the backfield and, of course, split out wide. Dunlap accounted for Natick’s longest offensive play of the game with his feet. His 79-yard run on a jet sweep, which set the Redhawks up with a first-and-goal to go from the 1, led to Dunlap’s 1-yard touchdown for the game’s opening score, with the senior lined up at tailback in a two-back set.

Dunlap accounted for both Redhawks’ touchdowns, hauling in a 5-yard pass from Nick Olson (8 of 13, 94 yards) while motioning out of the backfield out of the same goal-line set used on his rushing touchdown.

“He’s a hell of a player, the best I’ve ever seen,” said Lavanchy, who drew the primary responsibility of covering Dunlap from his cornerback position. “The double moves will get you, he’s got quick feet.”

Walpole (7-0) countered Dunlap’s rushing score with some special teams wizardry.

Senior wide receiver and defensive back Andrew Papirio returned a punt 37 yards for a touchdown to tie the score, 7-7, with 9:59 remaining in the first half.

Unlike the game’s predecessor from a year ago, when the teams volleyed scores with each possession, the 2014 installment of the rivalry was marked more by clutch defensive stops. And Walpole struggled at times to finish drives, despite getting 159 yards from running back Steve Cuqua on 29 carries.

However, the Rebels were at their offensive best in the fourth quarter, with junior quarterback Tyler Berkland orchestrating the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.

Yet another of Walpole’s promising drives was threatened with sputtering out in Natick’s half of the field with a third-and-1 from the Redhawks’ 25. That’s when Berkland took the game into his own hands.

“Quick count. First sound. Go.” That’s how Greener summed up Berkland’s decision to check out of a running play to Cuqua and steam 23 yards in between the hash marks, setting up a first-and-goal to go.

“Our number one play – I probably shouldn’t say this – but if the quarterback sneak is there,” Greener said.

He paused and added, “Tyler Berkland is one smart cookie – a very smart quarterback. He understands the game, he understands fronts.

“If he sees it … What Natick was doing, their linebackers were filling great, their secondary was coming up hard in short-yardage situations – and if you hand it back to your tailback, it’s too much time that’s elapsed and they’re outnumbering you at the hole.”

Berkland eventually finished the 11-play, 79-yard drive with a 1-yard keeper on fourth and goal after T.J. Collins (2.5 tackles for loss) and Natick’s defensive front resisted.

“He’s a great athlete and he kept his head in it,” Papirio said of Berkland, a first-year starter. “He knew he had to make plays and he did.”

That score, with 4:13 remaining in regulation set the stage for Lavanchy’s heroics, after the Rebels forced a Natick punt with less than two minutes to play.

Papirio added his second noteworthy punt return, picking up a bounding ball on the fly and turning it down the left sideline for a 51-yard gain.

“Papirio had two big plays, one in the first half and one in the second half,” Greener said. “He’s just a warrior. I think they caught one ball on him all night. He was right there in coverage.”

After running a couple of plays and centering the ball between the hashes, Lavanchy’s 28-yard kick was the synthesis of Walpole’s plan: one part stifling defense, one part opportunistic offense, one part special teams prowess.

“I’m elated,” Greener said. “I’m just elated.”



 

Lack of pocket time: Olson entered the game with more than 1,200 yards passing and, with a stable of receivers at his fingertips, Walpole’s defensive brain trust knew getting pressure on the Natick quarterback would be paramount.

Greener said his staff targeted five sacks as a goal for the game. Well, the Rebels hit their mark and then some, tallying six sacks on the game, led by junior defensive lineman Xavier Andujar, who got his second sack of the game on the final play of the game.

“We played very little zone, we were in man most of the time and we were sending pressure to get at Olson,” Greener said.

Walpole’s defensive ends were a factor throughout. Despite playing through a shoulder injury, Chris Bender was a constant pest for Olson, contributing two pressures along with a tackle for loss.

“Bender didn’t play last week, with his shoulder it’s very painful,” Greener said. “He played in a lot of pain tonight, but sucked it up and went. [Nate] Porack played his usual, our tight end and defensive end, he’s smart as hell. Kevin Mansen came in and gave us some good time there as a sub, he’s another good, smart player and a senior.”

On the back end, Walpole stayed mostly in man, with a sprinkle of combo coverages sprinkled in. With pressure established up front, it limited the amount of time required for the Rebels defensive backs to trail the Redhawks’ stable of receivers.

“We had to give Dunlap extra attention, so Lavanchy was playing some man-under with our safety Jon Henri over the top,” Greener said.

Dunlap had as many carries (5, for 80 yards) as he did targets.

“He just had that one play that he hit big,” Greener said. “We turned it in pretty well, our defensive end played it great, but one of our linebackers must’ve gotten blocked because we didn’t get the fill – I’ll have to see it on film. But he cut it up and we didn’t have the scrape.”

Player of the Game: Walpole's Andrew Papirio

October, 25, 2014
10/25/14
2:42
AM ET
NATICK, Mass. -- In a game ruled by special teams, Walpole senior wide receiver and defensive back Andrew Papirio left his imprint on the Rebels' last-minute 17-14 victory over Bay State Herget rival Natick in our Game of the Week Friday night.

Papirio returned a punt 37 yards for a touchdown and also had another long return in the fourth quarter to set up Walpole's game-winning field goal.

ESPN Boston High Schools editor Scott Barboza caught up with our Player of the Game, presented by New England Dairy, for this interview:

(Video by Greg Story)

Recap: No. 13 Walpole 33, Needham 0

September, 19, 2014
9/19/14
11:40
PM ET
WALPOLE, Mass. -- Walpole coach Barry Greener doesn’t exactly ask his players to step into several phone booths and emerge the way Clark Kent does as Superman.

Instead, his “demands” are much more modest.

“We don’t have any great superstars,” Greener said after the No. 13 Rebels demolished Needham, 33-0, in a Bay State Conference game on Friday night. “But everybody chips in. They know their roles and they play them.

“All we ask them to do is play hard, play fast, play smart. A lineman assignment –play fast.”

Suffice to say the Rebels did all of the above and then some in a game that, at least in a figurative sense, was over midway through the third quarter.

Among other things, Walpole:

* Outgained Needham 294 to 69 in total yardage.

* Forced two turnovers (a pass interception by Jack Lavanchy and a fumble recovery by Nolan Hardiman).

* Didn’t allow the Rockets to advance past Walpole’s 40-yard line.

* Recovered an onside kick (by D.J. Villa).

* Returned a punt for a touchdown (Andrew Papirio who dashed 42 yards late in the first half to give Walpole a 13-0 lead).

Greener singled out a host of Rebels who played key roles in defusing the Rockets. Among those was Lavanchy, a defensive back, defensive end Chris Bender, who recorded two sacks, and Papirio who contributed “lockdown corner” for the Rebels.

“Our defense played great,” said Greener. “We’ve got a lot of guys returning from the defense that we thought was a little suspect last year. And we’re playing better. We’re playing fast. We’re playing really fast.”

Besides solid defense, the Rebels also displayed a balanced offense.

Steve Cuqua, for example, gained 108 yards and scored three touchdowns on 21 carries. Overall, Walpole rushed for 137 yards.

Junior quarterback Tyler Berkland completed 12 of 19 passes for 157 yards replete with zero interceptions.

“I think around here we’ve always been balanced,” Greener said while referring to Walpole’s preferred offense. “Way back years ago in the ‘70s, everybody thought we were a passing team. But if you broke the stats down at the end of the year, we were pretty much a 50-50 team.

“You have to show balance. But you’ve got to have talent to have balance. You’ve got to have the talent to do it.”

Ironically Greener felt Berkland and Cuqua didn’t exactly bring their “A” games on Friday.

“Cuqua is Cuqua,” he said. “He’s a good running back. ‘Berky’ is a solid quarterback.

“They’ve played better. They can play better. They will play better. Last week against Foxborough, Berkland put on a clinic.”

Granted, Walpole did get off to a slow start as the first quarter ended scoreless. But in the waning minutes, the Rebels commenced a nine-play, 90-yard drive which culminated with Cuqua bursting around left end from the five.

Then, with 5:57 left in the first half, Papirio broke off his punt return.

Walpole started to break the game open when it received the second half kickoff and marched 95 yards in 12 plays (Berkland passed for 79 yards) with Cuqua again scoring from the 5 for a 19-0 lead. Villa recovered the ensuing onside kick and that set up a 23-yard touchdown run by Cuqua.

After Hardiman recovered a Sam Foley fumble, Ferry Armand added the exclamation point by diving over from the 1.

“Our defense came to play today,” said Lavanchy. “What more can we say? They filled the holes and the D-backs covered well.

“We’re taking one game at a time. You never can get too confident.”

WALPOLE 33, NEEDHAM 0
NE (0-1, 0-2) 0-0-0-0 - 0
WA (1-0, 2-0) 0-13-13-7 - 33

Second quarter
N – Steve Cuqua 5 run (Jack Lavanchy kick)
W – Andrew Papirio 42 punt return (kick failed)

Third quarter
W – Cuqua 5 run (run failed)
W – Cuqua 23 run (Lavanchy kick)

Fourth quarter
W – Ferry Armand 1 run (Alex Koskie kick)

Recap: No. 13 Walpole 31, Foxborough 8

September, 13, 2014
9/13/14
2:39
AM ET


WALPOLE, Mass. – When Walpole football head coach Barry Greener talks about senior captain Jack Lavanchy, he uses the word special. It’s not about just what the two-way starter at wide receiver and defensive back brings in athleticism; it’s also the intangibles.

“He’s tough and when the going gets tough he’s there,” Greener said. “He scraps on every single play. He’s not only skilled, but he’s very competitive.”

Lavanchy – who also handles place kicking duties for the Rebels – did just about everything except turn out the lights at Turco Memorial Field as the No. 13 Rebels rolled over Foxborough, 31-8, Friday night. While hauling in three touchdown passes, Lavanchy accounted for 25 of the Rebels’ points (three scores, three point-after tries and a field goal). Aside from his scoring line, he also pocketed an interception on defense in the second half.

“He’s something else,” Greener said of Lavanchy. “What did he have, twenty-five or twenty-six of our points? But he’s a great captain – as all of my senior captains are – but Lavanchy’s a special player.

Lavanchy got the Rebels (1-0) started early, hauling in the first of two touchdown passes from junior first-time starting quarterback Tyler Berkland with a 37-yard connection at 7:44 of the first quarter. The pair were in sync once again to start the second quarter, giving Walpole a 14-0 lead with a 23-yard score on a perfectly executed fade to the near left-hand pylon.

The Rebels picked up the pace on the ground in the second half, taking the opening possession of the half 10 plays and 63 yards downfield for a score on a 2-yard run by Steve Cuqua.

After an interception by junior corner Amire Loftis, Lavanchy tacked on a 24-yard field goal for a 24-0 lead with 1:55 to play in the third. His third touchdown reception of the game came on the first throw from junior Noah Miree, who replaced Berkland at quarterback, on a 27-yard play.

The Warriors (1-1) added their lone score with about a minute remaining in the game as backup quarterback Mark Clagg hit Darren Kelly on a 23-yard touchdown.

Game face: Even in the bask of a career night, Lavanchy deflected praise at every turn.

“Tyler came to play, the offensive line played very well,” Lavanchy said. “Everyone tried their best and gave it their all.”

He continued, “We’re expecting a big season, but we’re just taking it game by game. We got Needham next and we’re going to focus on them.”

Improvements on D: Greener was satisfied by the efforts of his defense after what he termed to be a “down year” for the group last season. The Rebels were opportunistic, coming away with three interceptions from Andrew Papirio, Lavanchy and Loftis.

Walpole’s defense was also there to pick up the offense after it’s lone miscue of the night, when Warriors safety Jake Pond undercut a route for a pick at the end of the first quarter. The Rebels responded, hemming Foxborough in its own end. Walpole’s defensive line asserted its will, working to force the Warriors to back-to-back negative yard plays. Defensive end Nate Porack disrupted a screen pass for a loss of one before Xavier Andujar broke through the line to drop Warriors running back Keeyon Neal for a loss of four.

After a punt, the Rebels took advantage of the plus-50 field position with Lavanchy’s second touchdown catch.

“We played well against a team that can really run the ball,” Greener said. “Their offensive line is good, they have two running backs [Ronnie Marin] and [Neal], who are terrific and [quarterback Nolan Rogers] could throw the ball and run, too. So we knew we were going up against a strong offense.”

“I’m pleasantly surprised that we did as well as we did on defense. But we were prepared and my coaches do a great job.”

On the other hand, Foxborough was never able to recover.

“We didn’t show up and Walpole’s good football team, obviously,” Warriors head coach Jack Martinelli said. “If you don’t show up from the get-go, it ends up like it did.”

Recap: No. 13 Walpole 48, Weymouth 21

November, 22, 2012
11/22/12
4:00
PM ET


WEYMOUTH, Mass. -- Coach Barry Greener and the Walpole Rebels will not be going to the playoffs this year, but the Weymouth Wildcats will.

On Thursday, it didn't matter much as the Rebels laid a licking on Weymouth, scoring 35 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to cap off their 48-21 shellacking.

“I think our senior and junior class have a strong will to win, but we practice hard and we practice long,” Greener said regarding his team’s ability to turn up the tempo and keep the energy burning until the clock wound down it’s final second.

Mike Rando scored his third touchdown, a 34-yard run, with 46 seconds left in the game.

“We are in phenomenal shape endurance-wise,” added Greener.

The teams were tied 7-7 coming out of the locker room. Walpole failed to convert a first down on the opening possession of the second half, but on the third play of the following Weymouth drive, sophomore Andrew Papirio intercepted the ball and brought it across the 50 to the Weymouth 40. Rando scored his first on the day with a pass from Will Bolster on the next play putting Walpole up 13-7. A failed kick left Walpole up by only 6.

Weymouth would take the next 4:21 to score and put up an extra point to regain the lead at 14-13. The Wildcats scored again on a Dave Harrison run nearly four minutes later at 9:02, but this would be the last score for the Wildcats, making it a 21-13 game.

P.J. Hales took the following kickoff 88 yards up the right sideline in 15 for a score, and the ensuing EP made the the tally 21-19, Weymouth. Walpole, however, recovered a fumble on the first play from scrimmage on the ensuing Weymouth drive. Four plays later Hanley ran in for his second touchdown of the day while Rando added the extra point rush to begin the blowout that was to come with a 27-21 lead that grew exponentially.

“We just meshed together well as a team,” said Rando of the stark contrast in offensive production from 7 points in the first half and 41 points in the second. “At halftime, we made a few adjustments and came out flying.”

THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER WHERE YOU WATER IT
Although coach Barry Greener will not be going to the playoffs this year, he was happier than a hog in a pigpen after the game, as the match he had looked forward to all year was now under his belt.

“It’s not the playoffs; it’s not a chance to go to Gillette. The Weymouth game, to me, is the biggest game of the year. That’s the way it is,” said the 1967 Weymouth graduate.

Although Greener played offensive guard and nose guard in the 1960s for Weymouth, there is no second guessing that he is a Rebel. “I came here in 1972 and I haven’t been anywhere else. And I won’t be going anywhere. The guy I worked with for my first 20 years in Walpole, the legendary John Lee, he was a Newton North graduate, class of ’52, and the Newton North game meant so much to him.”

WHEN THE GAME IS OVER ...
Rando and Hanley relayed after the game that they had been playing football together since they were waist high to their present selves and that being tied at halftime was not a good feeling for the team, especially the seniors, some of whom would be playing in their last football game ever.

“We put everything we had on the field,” Hanley said.. “We knew it was our last time.”

... BUT THE REBEL LIVES ON
Although Rando and Hanley will not play for the Rebels as footballers any longer, they and the other captains handed the invisible torch to the underclassmen in the postgame huddle. This is not the first, nor the last time this act of brotherly love and pride has been acted out as the trees lose their leaves and the last insects look for sustenance to survive the recurring, wicked New England winter.

“It’s been passed down for forty-plus years. It’s a great tradition, great records, starting with coach Lee back in the late sixties and it’s our pleasure… and our honor to be a part of this program and our duty to pass it down to the younger kids,” dictated Rando.

Wal (10-1) – 0 7 6 35 -- 48
Wey ( 8-3) – 7 0 7 7 -- 21

Wey – Dave Harrison 72 run (Ozzy Colarusso kick)
Wal – Cam Hanley 1 run (Colton Mitchell kick)
Wal – Mike Rando 40 pass from Will Bolster (Kick failed)
Wey – Harrison 1 run (Colarusso kick)
Wey – Harrison 17 run (Colarusso kick) 21-13
Wal – P.J. Hayes 88 kickoff ret. (Rush failed) 21-19
Wal – Hanley 1 run (Rando rush) 27-21
Wal – Rando 52 run (Mitchell kick) 34-21
Wal – Steve Thulin 32 run (Mitchell kick) 41-21
Wal – Rando 34 run (Mitchell kick) 48-21

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