Boston High School: Anthony Francis

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

February, 16, 2013
2/16/13
4:34
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Officially, the nickname of the Classical High boys’ basketball team is the Purple.

Rhode IslandBut given how well head coach John Kavanagh’s team has played in recent weeks, perhaps that nickname should be preceded by the adjective “red-hot.”

Classical clinched the Division I-Central title by reeling off three consecutive victories – 79-75 over Hope, 82-58 over Smithfield and 89-70 over defending Division I state champion Central.

Ironically, Classical (14-3 in I-Central and 17-5 overall) is led by three of the shortest players on the team: 5-8 guard Kealen Ives, 5-10 forward Ismael Batista and 6-1 center Terrill Toe.

Ives is Classical’s leading scorer while Batista has proven to be a force on the offensive glass.

Toe buried a 3-point shot with 16.5 seconds left in regulation to break a tie and give the Purple a 79-75 victory over Hope. Ives celebrated his 17th birthday by scoring a game-high 34 points, which included 15-of-18 from the free throw line.

Ives just missed a triple-double when Classical belted Smithfield.

He finished with 21 points, 11 assists and eight steals while Batista and Toe combined for 51 points; Toe nailed seven 3-point shots).

Classical held its senior night on Feb. 12, and Batista made sure his classmates would go out as winners as he scored 19 points – including a quintet of 3-point baskets – which helped the Purple crown the Knights.

SKIPPERS REBOUND
North Kingstown’s Skippers, who had been cruising along in Division I-South, dropped an ugly 53-46 decision to La Salle in a crossover game.

Ugly was defined by the fact North Kingstown shot a frigid 29.3 percent (17-of-58) from the floor and 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from the free throw line.

But the Skippers (15-2) held onto first place in their division by rebounding to beat St. Raphael, 55-52, on Kazre Cummings’ 3-point shot at the buzzer and South Kingstown, 58-33, with Justin Pratt and Owen Heath combining to score 30 points.

North Kingstown (20-2 overall) leads the power-point standings while Classical is in second.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES
Austin Cilley broke the career scoring record for Westerly boys’ basketball – one that had stood since 1952 – by pouring in 38 points during a 61-58 overtime conquest of Barrington in a Division II crossover game.

Cilley raised his career total to 1,399 points, which eclipsed the previous mark of 1,386 set by Bob Serra in 1952. In the game where Cilley broke the career record, he tossed in 38 points, including nine in overtime, as the Bulldogs beat Barrington, 61-58.

Three other boys surpassed the 1,000-point mark for their careers in recent games: La Salle’s Jared Thompson; Mount Pleasant’s Jovel Beckford; and Ponaganset’s Scott Peterson.

PERFECTION ELUDES SAINTS
The St. Raphael Academy girls’ had their sights set on at least an undefeated season in Division II-Central. But Johnston derailed the Saints by handing them their first loss of the season, 65-63 when Isabella DiRaimo nailed a 3-point shot with 3.2 seconds left and, following a turnover, Alex DiRaimo tossed in a basket at the buzzer.

The Saints still led II-Central with a 10-1 record.

Elsewhere:
  • Exeter/West Greenwich coach Steven McGrane notched the 350th victory of his career when the Scarlet Knights belted Cranston West, 64-37, due in part to Taylor Buckley’s game-high 17 points.
  • Middletown (13-1) remained atop the III-South standings as the Islanders beat Hope, 58-31, with Chelsea Dowler posting a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds).
  • Juanita Sanchez handed the Islanders their first loss, 53-47, and maintained a firm grip on second place (10-1).
“WEIGHTY” ACCOMPLISHMENT
Barrington High senior Charlie Ionata is inhaling rarified air after his performance at the East Coast Track & Field Invitational.

Ionata uncorked a heave of 77 feet, 6.5 inches in the weight throw, which not only captured first place, but, according to the U.S. High School Weight Throw Performance List, was the longest in the nation.

In addition, he beat the previous meet record of 73-feet and three-quarter inches and moved into 11th place on the all-time national list – good for second on Rhode Island’s all-time list.

SIGNING ON THE DOTTED LINE
Several Rhode Island high school football players inked National Letters of Intent during the recent signing period.

One of the more notable “signees” was La Salle’s All-State quarterback Anthony Francis – the 2012 Gatorade Rhode Island High School Football Player of the Year – who opted for Marist College.

Cumberland wide receiver Mitchell Baxter and North Kingstown tight end Alex Madoian signed with Bryant University.

Portsmouth native Charlie McKeeman, who played for Bishop Stang of Dartmouth, Mass., signed to play fullback for the University of Rhode Island.

THE “BUTLER” DID IT
Not only was Alex Butler one of the best basketball players ever produced by East Providence High – where he is the head coach these days – but he also was one of the best ever to play for Rhode Island College.

Not surprisingly, Butler was one of 11 players recently inducted into the Little East Conference Hall of Fame.

Butler, who was an All-Stater in high school, was a two-time Division III All-American at RIC.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

La Salle (R.I.) QB Francis commits to Marist

January, 29, 2013
1/29/13
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La Salle Academy (R.I.) quarterback Anthony Francis told ESPNBoston.com tonight that he has verbally committed to Marist College for the 2013 season.

"I went up [to Marist] this past Thursday and Friday," Francis said. "I really made my decision Monday. I talked to some other coaches at other schools as well, compared where they all stand. I just got good a vibe there."

Francis was the Rhode Island's Gatorade Player of the Year for 2012, going for over 3,200 yards of offense and 37 touchdowns as the Rams went 10-2, getting knocked out of the RIIL playoffs by rival Bishop Hendricken. Francis caught many an eye in southeastern Massachusetts when the Rams took a visit from Bridgewater-Raynham in October and promptly dropped them 41-24; in that game, Francis accounted for 347 yards of offense and three scores.

Monmouth University was the other Division 1 FCS school offering a scholarship to Francis. He also received interest from Coastal Carolina, Yale, Penn, and a handful of Northeast-10 schools -- two of them, Bentley and Assumption, extending an offer.

Also playing a significant factor in Francis' decision was the Foxes' commitment going forward to a no-huddle, spread offense predicated on zone reads and quick, short passes. The Rams ran with similar spread principles under Francis, utilizing three and four-receiver sets to spread the field and led Francis command the offense.

"They think I can actually go in and compete, especially because the starter there now is getting labrum surgery in his arm," Francis said. "They think he’ll be back, but it's an eight-month recovery so I want go in there and compete whether or not I get the job. If I don't start I can at least push guys to get better. I really want to go in there and compete."

Francis is expected to sign a National Letter of Intent next Wednesday, Feb. 6, alongside his close friend and running back Josh Morris, the state's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011. Morris will be signing with Brown.

The two consulted each other a lot before making each of their own decisions. Morris committed to the Bears this past Christmas Eve.

"It feels great, we both talk about it a lot," Francis said. "I talked to him all Sunday night, he thinks it's a good fit for me."

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

January, 16, 2013
1/16/13
5:47
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In the history of boys’ basketball at North Kingstown, the Skippers have won only two state championships – each of which occurred while the team was playing in Division II (1985 and 1990).

Rhode IslandSo far this season, head coach Aaron Thomas’ team has its sights set on a loftier goal: the Division I state title.

Through games of Jan. 15, North Kingstown was the only undefeated team (8-0) in each of the state’s three divisions that comprise Division I.

The Skippers’ eighth victory came at the expense of Cranston West who was throttled 61-43, with Owen Heath scoring a game-high 29 points.

Coventry (7-1) was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten when Hendricken chopped down the Oakers, 52-45, with Garfield Coustard scoring 16 points.

Those results set up an “interesting” game for Jan. 17 when North Kingstown hosts Coventry with first place on the line in I-South.

But lest the Skippers become overconfident about their early-season success, Thomas is quick to remind them of what transpired in recent trips to the state tournament.

The Skippers were 16-2 last season but lost to Rogers in the quarterfinals.

In 2011, they were eliminated in the preliminary round. And in 2010, they were beaten by Hendricken in the state championship game.

MARATHON
And you thought the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks seemingly played forever in last weekend’s NFL playoff game.

Mount Pleasant and Classical staged a high school basketball version of the Falcons-Seahawks game on January 15 when the Kilties outlasted the Purple 100-94 in four – count them four – overtimes.

Zdahmond Dale (33) and Jovel Beckford (25) accounted for just over 50 percent of Mount Pleasant’s offense, as did Terrill Toe (30) and Kealen Ives (29) for Classical.

In the game prior to the one against Classical, Beckford lit up East Providence for 37 points – 30 coming on 10 three-point shots – as Mount Pleasant beat the Townies, 61-55.

Elsewhere:
  • Cumberland moved into a first-place tie with North Providence in Division II-North by whipping II-South leader Westerly, 69-53. Dylan Boisclair (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Tom Lazaras (10 points, 10 rebounds) recorded double-doubles for Cumberland (7-2) while the Bulldogs fell to 8-1.
  • Middletown remained atop the Division III-East standings by belting Toll Gate, 60-47. Justin Bailey (15 points) led a quartet of Islanders in double figures.
  • North Smithfield (8-0), who plays in III-North, is the only other undefeated Division III team in the state.
CAVALIERS SEEK REPEAT
Juanita Sanchez cruised through an undefeated season in 2011-12 and captured the first Division III girls’ basketball championship in school history.

With approximately one-third of the season in the books, the Cavaliers again appear to be the team to beat.

Two victories over intra-city rivals enhanced that status as the Cavaliers moved into a first-place tie (6-0) with Middletown.

Freshman Elfeda Hoff scored 12 points, snared seven rebounds and dished off seven assists in barely 16 minutes of playing time as the Cavaliers routed Hope, 44-24.

Previously, in a game against another team that was undefeated at the time, Juanita Sanchez beat Central, 44-32, with Hoff scoring 23 points and adding five steals. Teammate Leoni Taylor contributed a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds).

In other games of note:
  • St. Raphael Academy (4-0) moved into sole possession of first place in Division II-Central after outing previously undefeated Moses Brown, 63-35. Becca Gonzalez’s name was all over the stat sheet because besides recording a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) she was credited with five steals and four assists.
  • Josie Chaves buried the game-winning basket with 15 seconds left in regulation to give Rogers a 50-47 victory over East Providence in a Division II-East game that featured two undefeated team. Liz Jackson added 17 points for the Vikings (4-0) while Mary Monagle scored a career-high 20 points for the Townies (3-1).
OAKERS HAVE HIGH HOPES
Coventry’s boys’ hockey team commenced the current season with consecutive Division II state championships on its resume – and five overall titles.

Now, because of a new playoff format adopted by the Interscholastic League, the Oakers could get a shot at dethroning the big kids on the block – Mount St. Charles, La Salle, Hendricken, etc.

A Division I Super Four Tournament will be held for the first time this season with the four slots going to the four teams that have compiled the most points (i.e. power points) in the combined standings of Mount, La Salle and Hendricken in the Division I-Cimini subdivision plus the five public schools in the Division I-Eccleston subdivision.

Through games of January 14, the Oakers were tied for third with Mount in the combined standings with 3.6 power points.

Hendricken was at the top of the pile with 8.8 while La Salle was second with 5.4.

The 3-3 Oakers boast two of the top scoring leaders in the state in Mike Pesola and Zach Woods.

Hendricken remained undefeated (6-0-0) by beating Barrington, 6-3, with Andrew Fera notching a hat trick, and by blanking Mount, 4-0, as Mitchell Proulx made 44 saves which complemented Fera’s two-goal performance.

HAWKS LEAD THE WAY
Hendricken, which stunned high school football fans by upsetting highly-favored La Salle in the Division I Super Bowl, was rewarded with four selections on the All-State Football First Team: tight end Mario McClain, two-way lineman Nick DiCiantis, linebacker Jarrid Witherspoon’ and linebacker Mario Delvecchio.

Division II Super Bowl champ Cumberland landed cornerback/wide receiver Mitch Baxter and two-way end Trent Vasey; Division III bowl champ Middletown placed running back Randy Butler and offensive guard Mitch Sullivan on the first team; Division IV champ Mount Pleasant was represented by running back Randolph Zleh.

The remainder of the First Team was comprised on Cranston East’s Marven Beauvais (wide receiver), E.J. Isom (two-way back) and Marquem Monroe (two-way back); St. Raphael’s Jason Colon (two-way tackle); La Salle’s Mitch DaSilva (wide receiver), Josh Morris (La Salle) and Anthony Francis (quarterback); Cranston West’s Anthony St. Laurent (two-way lineman); Portsmouth’s Matt Greenman (linebacker-wide receiver), Bobby Chavous (quarterback); and Austin Szczepniak (running back); Johnston’s Evan Hopson (punter); Shea’s Baboucarr Lemon (place kicker); Chariho’s Austin McQuaide (running back); Tolman’s Mamour Samb (running back); and East Greenwich’s Kyle Palmer (defensive back).

PASSAGES
The state lost one of its most respected and amiable coaches with the passing of Burrillville’s Wilfred “Skee” Carter.

Carter, 66, coached baseball at his high school alma mater for 22 years and guided the Broncos to six state tournaments plus the 2007 Division II championship.

Between the middle school and high school, he also coached cross country for 22 years.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

December, 5, 2012
12/05/12
6:54
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At the risk of using a baseball metaphor, the result of the Division I Super Bowl came out of left field.

Rhode IslandHow else do you explain the fact that regular-season champion La Salle was upset, 26-20, by Hendricken in Sunday’s Division I Super Bowl?

Not only did the Rams (who were 9-0 in league play) wax the Hawks, 28-7, in their regular-season game on Nov. 19, but they were a combined 18-1 versus league opponents over the last two season.

And La Salle also boasted the last two Rhode Island Gatorade Players of the year in running back Josh Morris (2011) and quarterback Anthony Francis (2012).

The answer to the above question is two-fold in nature:
  • The Hawks kept La Salle’s potent offense on the sidelines thanks to a ball-control game led by junior Remington Blue.
  • Hendricken’s defense accounted for eight points while the Hawks’ special teams deprived La Salle of another when a PAT was blocked.

Add all of this up and the Hawks wound up in elite company in that they tied the record (three) for most consecutive Division I Super Bowl titles since the Interscholastic League implemented this format in 1972. And ironically, the Hawks were the last team to accomplish this feat since they did so from 1994-96.

Senior linebacker Jarrid Weatherspoon was the Hawk defender who accounted six of the above-mentioned eight points when he intercepted a Francis pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown with 2:05 left in the third quarter – a play that gave Hendricken a lead (17-13) it would not relinquish.

Hendricken’s defense gave the team a 19-13 lead at intermission when it forced an illegal put out of the end zone following a bad snap.

Blue was voted the game’s MVP after rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. As a result, Blue finished his season with 1,065 yards on 128 carries.

TRAVERS STEERS CLIPPERS TO TITLE
Whoever said a game isn’t over until it’s over obviously didn’t have the Division II Super Bowl between Blackstone Valley rivals Cumberland and Woonsocket in mind.

Senior Erik Travers played a career game as Cumberland routed Woonsocket, 49-0, for the Clippers’ first state title since 2004. Travers carried the ball 23 times for an even 100 yards and scored four – count ‘em, four – touchdowns which earned him the MVP plaque and enabled Cumberland to finish with an impressive 12-1 overall record.

In retrospect, Cumberland’s performance was in keeping with its play during the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs when it outscored its opponents by a whopping 374-63 margin.

But Travers had to share the accolades with numerous teammates, including quarterback Brendan Guerin, who completed 13 of 17 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and Tyler Calabro, who converted on each of his seven extra-point attempts.

Cumberland’s defense also forced seven turnovers which, for all intents and purposes, put the Villa Novans in a hole which was the equivalent of the Grand Canyon.

Travers set the tone on the game’s first series when he gained 35 yards on seven rushes and scored on a one-yard run.

Then, on their second possession, Cumberland covered 72 yards in 15 plays with Guerin tossing a five-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Baxter.

At that point, arguably the only question left to be answered was what would be Cumberland’s final margin of victory.

VINCENT DOES IT ALL FOR MIDDLETOWN
Granted, Middletown’s sophomore running back Shemar Vincent was one of the youngest players on the field when the Islanders faced East Greenwich in the Division III Super Bowl.

But Vincent played like a veteran as the Islanders outlasted the Avengers, 33-21, for its second Super Bowl title in the last three years.

Not only did Vincent run for 73 yards and two touchdowns but he also did the following:
  • Catch a deflected pass which he returned 60 yards for a score.
  • Recover a fumbled punt which led to a touchdown.

Naming him the game’s MVP might have been the easiest decision made by anybody who witnessed the contest.

But Vincent also received ample support from his teammates. For example, running back Connor Russ gained 91 yards and scored twice on 19 carries while fullback Randy Butler pounded EG’s defense for 66 yards on 15 rushes.

Lost in the rubble was a superb performance by EG running back Carney Crawford who accounted for 126 yards and two scores on 16 carries.

KILTIES STILL DOMINATE DIVISION IV
While Hendricken wasn’t the first school to win three consecutive Division I Super Bowl titles, Mount Pleasant became the first to annex three consecutive Division IV crowns.

The Kilties put their name in the record book by twice coming from behind before eventually whipping North Providence, 41-21.

Mount Pleasant, who finished 10-2 overall, hasn’t lost a Division IV game in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Moreover the 41 points the Kilties scored shouldn’t have been unexpected considering they racked up 373 during the regular season and the Division IV semifinals.

Randolph Zieh earned game MVP honors and deservedly so since he scored four touchdowns (one on a 60-yard run) and ran for a two-point conversion.

Mount Pleasant broke the game open when it erupted for 26 points in the second quarter including a trio of touchdowns by Zieh.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Gatorade Football Player of the Year winners

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
6:33
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The Gatorade Football Players of the Year across all 50 states were announced today. Here's a look at the winners from across New England:

CONNECTICUT: COLIN MOORE, SR. RB/DB, AVON
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior running back and defensive back has led the Falcons to a 10-0 record and a berth in the Class L state quarterfinals against New Canaan High, scheduled for Nov. 28. At the time of his selection, Moore had rushed for 2,012 yards and 29 touchdowns on 243 carries. In the defensive secondary, the 2011 All-Pequot Uncas League First Team selection had recorded 21 tackles and an interception.

Moore has maintained a B average in the classroom. During the 2011 Halloween snowstorm, he volunteered as an electrician’s assistant to help restore power in the area. He has also donated his time as a peer mentor to intellectually and physically challenged students and also serves as a youth counselor.

“Colin Moore is a tremendous football player,” said Paul Philippon, head coach of Canton High. “He’s tough, consistent and relentless—he produces in every game. He could have played in any era.”

Moore remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

Moore joins recent Gatorade Connecticut Football Players of the Year Casey Cochran (2011-12, 2010-11, Masuk High School), Kevin Pierre-Louis (2009-10, King Low Heywood Thomas), Mike Osiecki (2008-09, Seymour High School) and Alex Thomas (2007-08, Ansonia) among the state’s list of former award winners.

MAINE: ANDREW LIBBY, JR. RB/S, THORNTON ACADEMY
The 6-foot, 195-pound junior running back and safety led the Golden Trojans to an 11-1 record and the Class A state championship this past season. Libby rushed for 1,091 yards and 23 touchdowns on 182 carries, caught 17 passes for 190 yards and two scores and returned four punts for touchdowns, including one in the state title game win over Lawrence High. Libby also recorded 98 tackles, six interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, and forced a fumble.

Libby has maintained a 3.37 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of a homeless shelter and food bank, and as part of a fundraising campaign to benefit cancer research. Libby has also served as an area youth football and track coach.

“Andrew is the most important player on Thornton Academy’s senior-laden team,” said Matt Perkins, head coach of Windham High. “Their offense goes through him. On defense, he’s their free safety and allows them to over-play one side of the field because he will control the other side. He is one of the most dynamic players I’ve seen.”

Libby will begin his senior year of high school next fall.

Libby joins recent Gatorade Maine Football Players of the Year Louis DiTomasso (2011-12, Wells High School), Peter Gwilym (2010-11, Cheverus High School), Jack Mallis (2009-10, Windham), Jack Heary (2008-09, Deering High School) and Justin Villacci (2007-08, Gorham) among the state’s list of former award winners.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: TYLER GRANT, SR. RB/S, EXETER HIGH
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior running back and safety led the Blue Hawks to an 11-1 record and the Division I state title this past season. Grant rushed for 1,238 yards and 20 touchdowns on 173 carries and caught 12 passes for 217 yards and three scores. On defense, he recorded 47 tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. The 2011 New Hampshire Union Leader First Team All-State pick returned both an interception and a fumble for touchdowns this fall.

Grant has maintained a 3.67 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally as part of fundraising campaigns to benefit juvenile diabetes and breast cancer research. Grant has also donated his time as a youth baseball coach and on behalf of a literacy-outreach program.

“Tyler Grant is the main reason for Exeter’s success,” said Eric Brown, head coach of Concord High. “He truly stands out on both sides of the ball and special teams as well. Not only is he a physical talent, he is a very intelligent football player as well.”

Grant will attend Maine’s Bowdoin College next fall where he will play football.

Grant joins recent Gatorade New Hampshire Football Players of the Year Jake Kiley (2011-12, New Hampton School), Max Jacques (2010-11, 2009-10, Salem High School), David Zocco (2008-09, Nashua High School South) and Billy Ferriter (2007-08, Nashua South) among the state’s list of former award winners.

RHODE ISLAND: ANTHONY FRANCIS, SR. QB, LA SALLE ACADEMY
The 6-foot-1, 193-pound senior quarterback has led the Rams to a 9-1 record and a berth in the Division I state semifinals against Portsmouth High, scheduled for Nov. 28. At the time of his selection, Francis had passed for 2,013 yards and 18 touchdowns, completing 110-of-181 attempts while throwing just two interceptions. A 2011 Providence Journal First Team All-State honoree, he rushed for 633 yards and nine touchdowns on 116 carries through 10 games.

Francis has maintained a B average in the classroom. A member of the La Salle Academy Debate Team, he has volunteered locally on behalf of a day care center, at a homeless shelter and as a youth football coach.

“With Anthony this year it is like having a young coach on the field,” said Geoff Marcone, head coach of La Salle Academy. “Anthony knows the offense so well we have given him authority to check in and out of plays. He is the guy that makes the call.”

Francis remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

Francis joins recent Gatorade Rhode Island Football Players of the Year Josh Morris (2011-12, La Salle Academy), Ben Willett (2010-11, Portsmouth High School), Mike Read (2009-10, Barrington), Dave D'Errico (2008-09, North Kingstown High School) and Bobby Bentsen (2007-08, Warwick Veterans) among the state’s list of former award winners.

VERMONT: MICHAEL DULAC, SR. OL/DL, HARTFORD HIGH
The 6-foot-3, 272-pound senior offensive and defensive lineman led the Hurricanes to an 11-0 record and their third straight Division I state championship this past season. A three-time First Team All-State selection, Dulac compiled 26 pancake blocks for an offense that accumulated 4,056 rushing yards and averaged 37 points per game. He started 43 consecutive games and helped Hartford to 26 straight wins to close out his career.

Dulac has maintained a 3.71 GPA in the classroom. An active member of his church community, he has volunteered locally as a youth mentor and in association with Hurricane Irene relief efforts.

“Michael Dulac is not only the best lineman we have faced the last two seasons, he is also one of the best players Vermont has produced in the past 20 years,” said Sean Murphy, head coach at St. Johnsbury Academy. “He is big, strong and quick and looks like a man against boys when he plays.”

Dulac remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

Dulac joins recent Gatorade Vermont Football Players of the Year Jake Stalcup (2011-12, Burr & Burton Academy), Christian McCormick (2010-11, Rice Memorial High School), Max Librizzi (2009-10, Essex), Mick Wong (2008-09, Hartford High School) and James Durham (2007-08, Spaulding) among the state’s list of former award winners.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
4:24
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If they haven’t already, Rhode Island high school football fans should circle Nov. 9 on their calendars.

Rhode IslandThat’s when La Salle and Hendricken – arguably the top two teams in the state regardless of division – will meet at the Hawks’ field with the Division I championship at stake.

La Salle (6-0) and Hendricken (6-1) established that scenario last weekend when the Rams blasted Cranston East, 41-12, and the Hawks flew by Barrington, 18-6.

If the Rams prevail and also beat East Providence (1-5) on Thanksgiving, they’ll clinch the outright title plus the No. 1 seed in the Division I Tournament. But should the Rams lose to the Townies and the Hawks beat La Salle, each team would finish 7-1, and Hendricken would earn the top seed by virtue of having beaten La Salle.

All-State running back Josh Morris shredded Cranston East’s defense as he scored four touchdowns – for the second consecutive year against the Thunderbolt. Morris’s scores came on runs of 19, 20, 18 and 30 yards.

In addition quarterback Anthony Francis threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Keon Wilson and scored on a one-yard run.

In its previous game, La Salle only led Barrington 17-14 at halftime but exploded for 24 points in the second half and coasted to a 41-17 victory.

Morris again led the way by running 12 times for 122 yards and two scores.

Ironically, Cranston East was coming off one of the more dramatic victories in school history.

Coach Tom Centore’s team spotted Portsmouth a 25-point lead at halftime and then rallied for a 51-47 victory.

E.J. Isom scored on a three-yard run with three minutes left on the clock to cap the comeback and set up the Bolt’s big game versus La Salle.

DIVISION II PICTURE IN FOCUS
As a result of last weekend’s games, the pairings are set for the Division II Tournament.

Johnston (7-0), Mount Hope (5-2), Woonsocket (5-2) and Westerly (4-3) earned the top four spots in Division II-A.

In Division II-B, undefeated Cumberland (7-0) earned the No. 1 seed followed by No. 2 St. Raphael (5-2), No. 3 West Warwick (4-3) and No. 4 Rogers (4-3).

Because West Warwick, Rogers and Central each finished 4-3, tiebreakers determined the last two seeds and Central became the odd team out.

Johnston finished strong by winning each of its last two games, 38-10 over Westerly and 42-6 over Warwick Vets.

In the victory over Westerly, Evan Hopson caught a pair of touchdown passes, kicked a 27-yard field goal and converted three-of-four extra-point attempts.

Hopson was just as prolific against the Hurricanes since he again caught two touchdown passes and returned a fellow Panther’s fumble for a third score.

ISLANDERS MAKE HISTORY
Don’t waste your time delving through the record books to find the last year when Middletown completed an undefeated regular season in league play (in this case Division III).

At the least, that happened four decades ago - perhaps when the parents of the current Islanders were youngsters. And, if Middletown beats Tolman and Portsmouth in a pair of non-league games, it will record an undefeated regular season – period.

Middletown, which has outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 339-96, handed East Greenwich its first loss of the season, 20-7.

Junior Connor Ross accounted for each of Middletown’s touchdowns on runs of 13, 27 and five yards. Ross clinched the victory when he intercepted a pass with one minute remaining at the Islanders’10-yard line.

Also in Division III, Moses Brown (5-2) clinched a playoff berth by routing Burrillville, 31-13.

Andrew Howard paced the Quakers by rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

KILTIES REIGN IN DIVISION IV
Mount Pleasant put the wraps on an undefeated Division IV season by blanking Central Falls, 33-0.

Randolph Zish paced the Kilties (7-0) by amassing 275 rushing yards and each of his team’s five touchdowns.

The field for the Division IV Tournament is just about set.

Hope (6-1) will have the second seed while North Providence (4-2) and North Smithfield (4-2) will battle for the fourth and final seed.

HAWKS REMAIN DOMINANT
Few teams have dominated boys’ cross country like Hendricken. The Hawks annexed their fifth consecutive state championship on Nov. 4 by scoring 44 points – 20 fewer than second-place La Salle.

Hendricken’s points were accounted for by Connor Doyle (fourth), Colin Tierney (fifth), Tyler Henseler (seventh), Alex Doherty (135h) and Collin Manning (15th).

The Hawks added the state trophy to the Class A championship they had captured the previous week.

Trevor Crawley became the first Cumberland runner to notch the state individual title in 14 years by covering the 5000-meter course at Ponganset High in 15:39.47. That time was 20 seconds faster than second-place finisher Bryce Kelley of Chariho.

BARRINGTON GIRLS DOUBLE UP
The Barrington girls may have needed a trailer to carry home all the trophies they annexed at the state cross country championships on Nov. 4 at Ponaganset.

As a team, Barrington easily captured its second consecutive state title by scoring a mere 31 points – 40 less than second-place La Salle.

In addition, freshman Emma McMillan won the individual title with a time of 18:22.99 on the 5000-meter course.

According to Interscholastic League records, McMillan is the first freshman female to win the individual championship since 1995. She finished 8.5 seconds ahead of La Salle’s Sheridan Wilbur.

After McMillan, Megan Vener-Crist (fourth), Fiona Paine (eight), Julianna Portelli (ninth) and Abigail Livingston (12th) rounded out Barrington’s first five finishers.

LINCOLN TRIO OFF TO COLLEGE
When Nov. 14 rolls around, three Lincoln High student-athletes will sign National Letters of Intent.

All-State pitcher Lindsay Mayer will sign with Virginia while teammate Emily Bouthillete will remain in state and sign with Bryant University.

All-Stater Nick Zammarell will head south and play baseball with Elon University in North Carolina.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

Recap: La Salle (R.I.) 41, No. 17 B-R 24

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
11:22
PM ET
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- According to La Salle Academy coach Geoff Marcone, he’s given senior quarterback Anthony Francis “the keys to the car.”

The car in this case is a Mercedes and Francis used it to run No. 17 Bridgewater-Raynham off Cronin Field en route to a 41-24 non-league victory Friday night.

In the process, Francis completed 14-of-21 passes for 279 yards and one touchdown (sans interceptions) and carried the ball 13 times for 68 yards and two scores.

Add up the numbers and it shows that Francis accounted for 347 yards of total offense.

“We’ve given Anthony the keys to the car,” Marcone said. “That’s a tribute to him. He can check in and out of plays. If he sees that a run play’s not there, he’s got the authority this year to check out of it and into something that he likes … something that we prepared for. And he did that a little bit tonight.”

What Francis has done a lot of this season is improve his passing – which wasn’t a process that happened when he showed up for fall practice.

“His passing every year, from his sophomore year to his senior year, he’s grown immensely,” Marcone said. “He worked hard in the off-season on his release and his mechanics.

“When summer came that’s all we focused on, his mechanics … little things like staying square to the target, making your reads and if you don’t like something don’t force anything. That’s what he’s been doing.”

Spreading the love: Francis, for his part, gave credit to his teammates.

“It’s not just me,” he said. “It’s the people around me. They give me the opportunity to make plays and they make plays. They make me better as a person.

“We worked all off-season. Coming off a tough loss last season (17-14 to Hendricken in the Division I Super Bowl), we have that fire in our bellies to get better.”

The Rams did their best New England Patriots imitation on the game’s first possession when they ran a no-huddle offense and covered 85 yards in 15 plays with Francis eventually wedging over from the 1.

After the Trojans went four-and-out, La Salle made it 14-0 at the first intermission when Francis capped a 54-yard drive by running four yards up the middle.

Francis’ ability to run adds another dimension to La Salle’s offense.

“He’s a big, thick kid who has pretty good speed,” Marcone said. “People don’t realize how quick he is. And he is a dual threat.

“If we feel we can run with him, and the defense is giving us that, then that’s what we’re going to do. I think last year they thought he could just run and they tried to pack in the box. This year we told him we have to be able to throw when the time comes for that and he’s done that.”

After Francis’ second score, Connor Weathers recovered an onside kick, which led to a three-yard touchdown run by Josh Morris (20-82-3) five seconds into the second period for a 21-0 lead.

The Trojans finally caught a break when Devin Morris recovered a fumble on La Salle’s 28 and Brandon Gallagher (17-103-2) covered that distance on the first play with 3:50 left in the half. But Morris, who was the 2011 Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year, countered with a 16-yard TD run.

Then B-R’s Ryan Martin stunned the pack house when he returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards – untouched – for a score that sliced his team’s deficit to 27-14.

B-R then forced La Salle to punt and that stand paid off when Kevin Wadsworth kicked a 35-yard field goal at the buzzer.

Gallagher brought the Trojans right back into contention when he reeled off a 24-yard run with 4:47 left in the third, a touchdown that made it 27-24.

But just when it appeared B-R had the Rams on the ropes, they bounced off when Francis connected with Tyneil Cooper for an 84-yard touchdown pass.

La Salle applied the clincher when Francis passed his team down the field to a point where Morris was able to bust over from the 3 for a 41-24 lead.

Making a statement: Even though non-league games don’t figure into Rhode Island teams’ chances of qualifying for the playoffs, the victory was important for the Rams from the standpoint of gaining regional respect.

“I’d say this was a pretty big game,” Francis said. “We’ve played them the last couple of years and lost. We felt this was an opportunity to make a statement about who we are this year and what we’re about. So, this was a pretty big deal for us.”

LA SALLE 41, BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM 24
B-R (3-3) 0-17-7-0 - 24
LSA (6-1) 14-13-7-7 – 41

First quarter
L – Anthony Francis 1 run (Drew Chretien kick)
L – Francis 4 run (Chretien kick)

Second quarter
L – Josh Morris 3 run (Chretien kick)
B – Brandon Gallagher 78 run (Kevin Wadsworth kick)
L – Morris 16 run (kick failed)
BR – Ryan Martin 90 kickoff return (Wadsworth kick)
BR – Wadsworth 35 field goal

Third quarter
BR – Gallagher 24 run (Wadsworth kick)
L – Tyniel Cooper 84 pass from Francis (Chretien kick)

Fourth quarter
L – Morris 3 run (Chretien kick)

ESPN Boston Week 6 football picks

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
2:49
AM ET
NO. 9 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (4-1) AT NO. 16 LONGMEADOW (4-1)

The Skinny: This battle between the two top teams in Western Mass. should be must-see material. Central snapped Longmeadow's 52-game league win streak last October in thrilling fashion, 21-20, but took one on the chin to the Lancers in the rematch, the Division 1 West Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. Central will be without quarterback Cody Williams in this one, while 'Meadow has looked sharp with Frankie Elder moving back to his natural position of tailback.

Scott Barboza: Picking with tradition here. Longmeadow, 26-21.

Brendan Hall: Speed is the name of the game in this one, and the Eagles tout too much for Longmeadow to harness. But expect the Lancers to play ball control in this one. Central, 28-25.

NO. 1 BARNSTABLE (5-0) AT DARTMOUTH (2-3)

The Skinny: After an emotionally-charged upset of Everett on September 28, Barnstable suffered a hiccup last weekend, nearly falling upset to New Bedford before Tedaro France pulled them through. In a three-team Old Colony League, there can be no hiccups, and if the Red Raiders come out sloppy again, something tells us Dartmouth could throw a haymaker.

Barboza: I look for the Red Raider to get the vertical passing game going early and often. Barnstable, 31-17.

Hall: I'll never count out Dartmouth as long as Rick White is running the show over there. How does that sound? Barnstable, 21-14.

PINKERTON ACADEMY (N.H.) (5-1) AT NO. 8 BROCKTON (3-2)

The Skinny: We don't know what to think going into this one. Last season, the Boxers traveled north of the border and delivered a 21-14 win over heavily-favored Pinkerton, en route to a 5-6 season. This year, though, the Astros have a breakout campaign on their hands with junior running back Manny Latimore. It will also be interesting to see how the Boxers respond without Augie Roberts under center in this one, but Micah Morel has done an adequate job so far. Brockton has won seven of the last eight meetings headed into this one.

Barboza: Astros get thrown for a loop like George Jetson on the space treadmill. Brockton, 28-17.

Hall: I just can't get 2011's result out of my head, and that's not to be taken as a shot against the Astros' 2012 squad. It's just Brockton has had their number for some time, and always finds a way to win. Brockton, 17-10.

NO. 2 EVERETT (4-1) AT XAVERIAN (1-4)

The Skinny: One team (Everett) looked sloppy in a 51-30 win. The other (Xaverian) showed encouraging signs in a 20-16 loss. Something's got to give, and while picking Everett in this one sounds like a sure thing, one has to wonder if the Hawks are starting to turn the corner and figure this out at just the right time.

Barboza: BHall, duck and hide time? Xaverian, 34-31.

Hall: No, you may not have my mailing address. Xaverian, 13-10.

NO. 15 ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY (4-1) AT NO. 3 ST. JOHN'S PREP (4-1)

The Skinny: Few teams have been as strong on the ground so far as St. John's Prep, with its dynamic duo of senior Alex Moore and junior Jonathan Thomas, and the Eagles have begun to open the playbook the last few weeks. St. John's of Shrewsbury, on the other hand, is coming off a disappointing loss to its rival just a half-mile down Route 140, Shrewsbury High. But not just any loss -- a 51-45 shootout loss. Can the Pioneers rebound for an upset of Prep, or will they fall victim to a strong run game again?

Barboza: There will be running holes to be had. Prep, 45-41.

Hall: If you can run on this Shrewsbury squad, you can do a lot of things, and Prep can certainly move the ball on the ground. But the Pioneers will make this interesting with its hyper uptempo pace. Prep, 38-35.

SHARON (5-0) AT NO. 11 KING PHILIP (5-0)

The Skinny: What’s more surprising: the fact that the Eagles are off to their first 5-0 start since 1998 or that they’re 9-4 in their last 13 games dating back to last season? Either way you slice it, Sharon isn’t to be trifled with anymore. On the other hand, KP’s fast start isn’t a surprise, but we haven’t really seen what the Warriors are capable of as they’re just getting started against their Hockomock League schedule. This should be a good measuring stick for both squads.

Barboza: Either way, somebody loses. How about that for a hot sports take? KP, 20-7.

Hall: Warriors will win out in this one, but how does the old Pink Floyd axiom go? Can't have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat. KP, 28-10.

NO. 17 BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM (3-2) AT LA SALLE ACADEMY, R.I. (4-1)

The Skinny: The Rams’ lone loss of the season came against an MIAA foe (North Attleborough) in Week 1 and have been terrorizing the Ocean State ever since. An underrated Trojans’ secondary will have to endure against the big arm of La Salle quarterback Anthony Francis. After getting run over to the tune of 228 yards by St. John’s Prep’s Alex Moore, B-R’s defense will look to bounce back against another of New England’s top backs (Josh Morris) with a big day up front from defensive ends Kevin Johnston and Dan Noviello.

Barboza: I look for a closer game in this year’s meeting between the club, but the same result. B-R, 28-20.

Hall: After seeing the way North dominated La Salle, I'm confident in saying the Trojans can win the battle at the line of scrimmage. That will be the difference here. B-R, 20-7.

NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH (3-2) AT NO. 23 STOUGHTON (5-0)

The Skinny: The Red Rocketeers enter this week desperate to avoid falling to .500 and in need of some offensive spark. North has scrounged up just 13 points in back-to-back losses to Foxborough and Franklin and were shut out against the Warriors. Meanwhile, the Black Knights received a highlight offensive performance from Marcus Middleton in last week’s emotional 20-0 blanking of Foxborough, a game dedicated to fallen teammate David Wade.

Barboza: I truly think there’s something special brewing in Stoughton this year. Stoughton, 13-7.

Hall: Red Rocketeers really need a healthy Alex Jette, more than ever, to right this ship. Stoughton, 25-13.

NO. 12 NATICK (5-0) AT NO. 10 WEYMOUTH (5-0)

The Skinny: Our Game of the Week for Week 6 features two unbeaten squads vying for playoff spots in their respective divisions in the Bay State Conference. Weymouth’s offense has evolved through the weeks, with multi-dimensional athlete David Harrison getting snaps under center. The Red Hawks enter Friday’s action allowing an average of six points per game on defense, led by Mike Abbruzzese and Mike Dunlap. The Wildcat defense, led by senior captain Sean Murphy will hope to slow down a potent Natick passing attack, but running back Nick Lee is also a force.

Barboza: I think this game will mirror Weymouth’s earlier battle with Needham, in terms of complexion. It’ll be a different result. Natick, 34-28.

Hall: Wondering if we'll see a combined 700 yards of offense or more in this one. Weymouth, 40-34.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

October, 10, 2012
10/10/12
10:18
PM ET
Cranston East last won a Division I Super Bowl in 1987 – which, of course, was well before the players on the current team were born.

Rhode IslandBut the Thunderbolt have an opportunity to prove they’re a legitimate contender this season when they play at defending Division I Super Bowl champion Hendricken on October12.

Coach Tom Centore’s team set the stage for this matchup of undefeated teams when it waxed East Providence, 42-20, on Oct. 5. Quarterback Alex Corvese threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers – all in the first half – as the ‘Bolt bolted to a 28-7 lead. Covese’s longest strike was a 46-yarder to Marquem Monroe. Nicholas Ferry caught a 28-yard TD pass just before halftime and, in the third quarter, returned a punt 35 yards for a score that broke the game open.

Hendricken (4-0) and La Salle (4-0) are tied for the division lead, but Cranston East (3-0) is only a half-game back and is 5-0 overall.

The Hawks tuned up for the ‘Bolt by blanking Cranston West, 36-0, as quarterback Pat Gill ran for three scores passed for a fourth. In its previous game, the Hawks whipped Tolman, 28-7, converting three turnovers into three touchdowns in the process. Gill scored on a one-yard run and also connected with Marco DelVecchio on a 52-yard scoring bomb.

La Salle remained tied with Hendricken by whipping winless South Kingstown, 39-14, as quarterback Anthony Francis threw touchdown passes of 21 and 63 yards to Keon Wilson.

PANTHERS ON THE PROWL
Johnston maintained its status as the only undefeated team (4-0) in Division II-A by mauling Coventry, 26-6.

The final score was representative of how explosive the Panthers have been this season. In those four league games, they’ve outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 154-18.

Johnston built a 14-0 lead with five minutes left in the first half, thanks to a six-yard run by Brenden Pappas and a two-yard run by Joe Santilli.

WIZARDS DISAPPEAR – TEMPORARILY
West Warwick was knocked from the ranks of the undefeated in Division II-B when it was routed, 42-14, by Shea on September 28. Dennis Lloyd paced the Raiders with three touchdowns while Tyshon Ashe added a pair.

Cumberland, who blitzed North Kingstown 41-6, moved into sole possession of first place with a 4-0 record. Quarterback Brendan Guerin led the Clippers by passing for 132 yards and three scores.

The Wizards (3-1) rebounded the following week as they pasted Pilgrim, 41-6, with Austin Paygal running for four scores – including one that covered 66 yards.

AROUND THE GRIDIRON
Elsewhere, East Greenwich toppled previously-undefeated Moses Brown, 39-21, in Division III action. Carney Crawford paced the Avengers (4-0) with 230 rushing yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Andrew Minor passed for 117 yards and three scores.

Middletown (3-0) remained a half-game behind the Avengers thanks to a 48-20 victory over Tiverton. The Islanders’ Randy Butler had a career game as he carried the ball 12 times for 149 yards and a touchdown and also returned a kickoff 70 yards for another score.

Overall, Middletown amassed 428 yards of total offense against the Tigers. Middletown gave a premonition of things to come when it belted Ponaganset, 48-7, in its previous game. Butler also was a force in that game since he scored on a 31-yard run and caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Justin Sellers.

In other games of note:
* Mount Hope (2-2) evened its record in Division II-A by beating Woonsocket, 26-7, with Jesse Raiola rushing for 125 yards and three scores.

* Central Falls captured its first Division IV victory of the season by blanking Scituate, 42-0. Quarterback Brandon Canuto threw four touchdown passes – three to Odair Semedo.

* Classical also won its first league game, in Division III, by holding off Burrillville, 16-14. Amilcar Burganza provided what proved to be the winning score when he returned an interception 50 yards in the fourth quarter.

MILESTONE
Long-time Portsmouth boys’ soccer coach Mike Stinton recently annexed his 200th career victory as the Patriots blanked South Kingstown, 1-0. Stinton was appointed Portsmouth’s head coach in 1989.

Then, the following week, the Patriots (5-3-0) won their fifth consecutive Division I game, 5-1 over Tolman as Brendan Jumoas scored two goals and assisted on two.

RUNNING WILD
The East Greenwich boys’ cross-country team ventured north and captured the team title in the Woods Trail Run Invitational in Thetford, Vt.

The Avengers amassed 107 points – 29 better than second-place South Burlington (Vt.) High. Ben Fazio (6th), Garrett Scanlon (18th), Scott Kulm (23rd), Nat Waddell (26th) and Tom Sommer (34th) accounted for the Avengers’ scoring.

NO “MIDDLE” GROUND
What had been rumored is on the verge of becoming fact.

East Providence, which had accumulated a $7-million budget deficit and has been operating under a state-appointed Budget Commission, will eliminate middle school sports as part of a proposed plan to help get the city out of the red. Football, basketball and baseball, which have long served as successful feeder programs for East Providence High, would be the primary sports on the chopping block if the overall proposal is approved by November 1.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

September, 26, 2012
9/26/12
4:30
PM ET
When the Rhode Island Interscholastic League was founded in 1932, Westerly was one of the original schools to play football.

Rhode IslandChariho, which is roughly a long field goal from Westerly, didn’t add football until 16 years ago.

While games between Division I teams like Hendricken, La Salle, East Providence and Portsmouth invariably dominate the headlines, Westerly and Chariho have forced their way into the spotlight.

In fact, the Chargers captured the 2011 Division II Super Bowl championship – the first in school history but five less than the Bulldogs have amassed.

Westerly made an early bid for the Division II-A regular-season title on September 21 by biting the Chargers, 35-14.

The teams were tied 14-14 at halftime but Westerly (2-0) went ahead for good in the third quarter when quarterback Phil Lynch ran four yards for a touchdown.

Westerly broke the game open in the fourth when Tom McGuire also ran four yards for a score and Rob Lamotte followed by returning a punt 45 yards for a touchdown.

Max Bumarch scored Westerly’s first touchdown when he reeled off a 44-yard run midway through the opening quarter.

RAM TOUGH
La Salle remained undefeated (2-0) in Division I by posting a pair of impressive victories.

First, the Rams overcame an 11-7 deficit and rallied to beat Portsmouth, 42-25 as senior running back Josh Morris scored four touchdowns which accounted for 24 of the Rams’ points while Tyrell Cooper returned a kickoff 87 yards for a score and later caught a 42-yard pass from quarterback Anthony Francis.

That set up a three-yard scoring run by Martin Bannerman.

Then, a week later, La Salle defeated Tolman, 42-20 with Morris shredding the Tigers’ defense for 180 yards and two scores on only 14 carries.

Francis provided balance to La Salle’s offense by completing 12-of-18 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

September, 13, 2012
9/13/12
12:56
PM ET
History.

Rhode IslandThat’s what defending Division I Super Bowl champion Hendricken is chasing this season.

Since the Rhode Island Interscholastic League implemented the Super Bowl format in 1972, only three schools have captured three consecutive championships at the Division I level: Rogers from 1976-78 and from 1988-80; Portsmouth from 1991-93; and Hendricken from 1994-96.

Ironically, the Hawks also qualified for the Super Bowl from 1997-99 only to lose each time. But six consecutive trips to the Super Bowl is the best run in school history.

Hendricken entered this season having played in five of the last six Super Bowls and at the risk of stating the obvious is pursuing its sixth trip in seven years.

No other team besides Rogers and the 1990s Hawks have made six trips in seven years and bused home with three championship trophies.

While the returning players still may have memories of their shocking 17-14 upset of previously undefeated La Salle in the 2011 Super Bowl, coach Keith Kroft began practice thinking about how to replace three First Team All-State selections: quarterback Ryan Brannigan, offensive lineman Max Heintzelman and wide receiver Laionel Cintron.

But while Branningan ran for just over 1,400 yards last season, another Hawk may do the bulk of the ball carrying if Hendricken’s 36-8 season-opening, non-league victory over St. Raphael Academy is any indication.

Junior running back Remmington Blue shredded SRA’s defense for 290 yards and four touchdown runs of 3, 53, 8 and 65 yards.

In 2011, Blue was at best the No. 3 running back – and sometimes No. 4 – because Hendricken was loaded with seniors at that position. But barring injury, Blue could make several teams – excuse the pun – feel “blue” this season.

But, altogether, Croft must replace 16 of 22 starters who graduated.

Topping the list of Hawks whom Croft hopes will plug holes are senior linebackers Marco Delvecchio, Jarrid Witherspoon, Robert Lineberger and Erick Olson; senior two-way linemen Nick DeCiantis (who checks in at 6-3 and 308 pounds) and Mario McClain.

La Salle, meanwhile, who dropped its non-league opener to North Attleborough still boasts one of the top running backs in southeastern New England in senior Josh Morris who accounted for 1,304 yards plus 16 touchdowns last season and was voted the Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year.

Lining up under center will be First Team All-State quarterback Anthony Francis who last season passed for 13 touchdowns and ran for an even dozen.

WE HAVE LIFTOFF
In other non-league openers of note:

*Stefano Marzale intercepted a pass and returned it 75 yards for a score to break a tie and give Cranston West a 12-6 victory over Cumberland.

* Dave Parrillo only ran nine times but gained 189 yards as Smithfield punished Pilgrim, 33-12.

* Austin Sczepaniak ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns while Bob Chavous passed for 145 yards as Division I power Portsmouth belted Rogers, 46-0.

* Mamour Samb scored four touchdowns on “only” 98 rushing yards to lead Tolman to a 49-6 romp over Classical.

* A fourth-quarter interception by Nick Liguori enabled Moses Brown to preserve what turned out to be a 7-6 win over Mount Pleasant. The “pick” was Liguori’s second of the game.

* Marc Breton only threw five passes, but he completed each one for 157 yards and three touchdowns as Johnston’s Panthers mauled Ponaganset, 40-0.

GORHAM’S RETURN BOOSTS TOWNIES
Over the previous 17 seasons, few – if any – high school football coaches in Rhode Island have been more successful than East Providence’s Sandy Gorham.

During that span, Gorham’s guided the Townies to 15 trips to the Division I playoffs and captured five Super Bowl championships.

But in late May, Gorham announced that he would be retiring after teaching for 36 years in the school’s Physical Education Department.

Gorham’s reasons were personal and financial because, at the time, the teachers’ union and the school committee were locked in contentious negotiations. Among other things, the committee was proposing to cut stipends for coaches and other teachers who performed extra-curricular work by 60 percent. And there was a chance that athletics would be eliminated – period.

But after a contract was hammered out and Gorham took time to discuss his initial decision with his family and friends, he decided to return.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ON THE AIR
WOON radio (1240 AM) in Woonsocket again will broadcast a full slate of high school football games.

For example, September’s schedule includes the following: Woonsocket at Johnson on September 14; Rogers at Cumberland on September 21; Woonsocket at Westerly on September 28.

All games will commence at 7 p.m.

HAWK WILL BECOME AN EAGLE
Senior pitcher Mike King, who led Hendricken to the Division I state baseball championship, has given a verbal commitment to play baseball at Boston College.

He’s expected to sign his letter-of-intent during the fall signing period.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

ESPN Boston Week 1 football picks

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
11:06
PM ET
FRIDAY
NO. 1 EVERETT AT NO. 7 LEOMINSTER
The Skinny: Leominster has never beaten the Crimson Tide since this series began in 2002, but the Blue Devils have usually been a tough out. In 2009, the teams played to a 14-6 Tide win. The last two meetings, the Blue Devils got under the Tide’s skin early before Everett’s talent took over. But Leominster is brimming with excitement, its proud football culture awakened again following their first Super Bowl championship in a decade last fall. Everett, meanwhile, seems to be settled at every position but quarterback – and with a line averaging over 315 pounds, that will suffice. If Leominster is to pull off the upset, they’ll have to a find a way to contain electric wideouts Jakarrie Washington and Jalen Felix.

Scott Barboza: Leominster turns it into a game, but still too many horses in the stable for Everett despite the questions. Everett, 27-20.

Brendan Hall: It’s going to be a majestic crowd at Doyle, and some readers will undoubtedly conclude I’m biased towards Leominster because their defensive coordinator coached me 10 years ago at Oakmont. But I’m not. Even I’m not foolish enough to pick against the Tide in this one. Everett, 24-13.

NO. 2 BC HIGH AT NO. 22 BROCKTON
The Skinny: Injuries were an overarching theme of the preseason and both of these teams were affected. Bad news for BC High is Luke Catarius is out with a hairline ankle fracture, but Brockton should have Micah Morel in the lineup for their Week 1 challenge. We’ll get a look at the reigning Div. 1 Super Bowl champions new-look offense with Brendan Craven under center and Brandon Owens in the backfield while the Boxers will be sporting a Georgia Tech-inspired scheme with Auggie Roberts back at quarterback.

Barboza: A Jackson Bockhurst field goal will be the difference. BC High, 17-14.

Hall: Things unraveled for Brockton pretty quickly in last year’s meeting in Dorchester. The Boxers are fighting an uphill battle again this year, but at least it will be respectable. BC High, 28-14.

NO. 23 SPRINGFIELD PUTNAM AT NO. 14 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL
The Skinny: With the schools sitting less than a mile from each other along Roosevelt Ave., the season-opening battle between these rival schools has become must-see as of late. Putnam won this contest last season, kick-starting an historic 2011 season that ended with their fifth Super Bowl title in eight seasons. Central will be looking for revenge, but it’s not easy replacing 2,000-yard rusher in Sacoy Malone. Putnam, meanwhile, turns to a plethora of new faces to replace record-setting running back Melquawn Pinkney, including quarterback Kayjuan Bynum and running back Wayne Lowery.

Barboza: I came away very impressed from talking to Central QB Cody Williams last year at Gillette. He blossoms into the real deal this year. Central, 21-16.

Hall: I like the direction Central is headed in over the long run, but Putnam is still Roosevelt Ave (See what I did there?). Putnam, 7-6.

LA SALLE ACADEMY (R.I.) AT NO. 16 NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH
The Skinny: Big Red will have its hands full opening night with their challenger from just across the state line. The Rams feature a high-octane attack led by reigning Gatorade Player of the Year running back Josh Morris and senior quarterback Anthony Francis. The key to this one will be in the trenches where North’s offensive line led by Eric Beckwith and Sean Peters could have the advantage.

Barboza: This Rams team is very talented, but North holds on – just barely. North, 28-26.

Hall: Josh Morris and Co. have been dying for that elusive win over a Massachusetts squad, and I think they finally get it here. La Salle, 17-13.

NO. 12 KING PHILIP AT DOVER (N.H.)
The Skinny: Self-admittedly, we don’t know as much about Dover as we do KP, but we can be some what certain what the Warriors will be showing them on defense. And, of course, that’s a variety of different looks and blitz and coverage schemes. Dover, which sits just outside of ESPN Boston correspondent Marc Thaler’s Granite State Top 10 poll, will also have to contend with KP quarterback John Dillon, who will enjoy a greater role directing the offense in his second year as starter.

Barboza: KP’s “Psycho” package gives Hockomock League teams fits, nevermind an offense that hasn’t seen it. KP, 28-8.

Hall: Knowing little about Dover outside of what our loyal New Hampshire correspondents tell us, I’m going to trust their convictions on this one and say it will be close. But I’m still going with the team closer to Boston. KP, 20-10.

NO. 4 ST. JOHN’S PREP AT DRACUT
The Skinny: The Middies have been a bit of a bugaboo for St. John's Prep in recent years and some around Danvers feel Dracut has simply posed a matchup problem for the Eagles with its spread attack. Good news for Prep is that their secondary, with Lucas Bavaro, Gerry Kahari, Alex Moore and Johnny Thomas, has matured into a strength of the team. Dracut senior linebacker Zach Bassett could be the key to the game, trying to slow down Prep's running attack.

Barboza: Looking for a defensive struggle here. Prep, 14-7.

Hall: Classic trap game for The Prep, against a classic trap opponent that’s had their number in recent years. Dracut, 10-6.

NORTH ANDOVER AT ANDOVER
The Skinny: North Andover's season starts with a Walsh at quarterback, but of another name. Brendan Walsh's younger brother Casey takes the helm of the Scarlet Knights' offense. It also marks North Andover's first Merrimack Valley Conference game. The Golden Warriors will counter with a high-flying attack that impressed during this summer's Northeast 7v7 passing tournament. Quarterback C.J. Scarpa has plenty of targets including Cam Farnham and Will Heikkinen.

Hall: I know it’s a familiar rival that’s been on the schedule for years, but North Andover is still in for a whole new ball game. And since it’s now officially an MVC game, there will be no less than 172 points scored and 1,000 yards of offense. Andover, 35-30.

Barboza: Ditto. Andover, 31-20.

MARSHFIELD AT CATHOLIC MEMORIAL
The Skinny: Last year at this time, Catholic Memorial entered Marshfield’s stadium with plenty of hype, behind three Division 1 FBS commits and a No. 4 preseason ranking in ESPNBoston.com’s poll. They promptly got shut out by the Rams, 24-0, fueling their ensuing seven-game win streak. The Knights will no doubt be looking to exact revenge, and they’ll look to Preseason All-State defensive end Peter Ngobidi to stifle the Rams’ vaunted run game.

Barboza: Ngobidi is a dominant force and asserts his will here. CM, 7-0.

Hall: The Knights got embarrassed last year in Marsh Vegas, and I expect them to exact revenge here. CM, 16-13.

SATURDAY
NO. 24 HOLY NAME AT NO. 17 ST. JOHN’S (SHREWSBURY)
The Skinny: For all of Holy Name’s success under Mike Pucko, the Naps have never beaten St. John’s during his tenure. Could that change on Saturday? Holy Name turns to one of the state’s most elusive scatbacks in Quron Wright, and will hope for a big day. St. John’s has already hit the injury bug, with incumbent QB Connor Kurtz (knee) out for the season, but RB Shadrach Abrokwah is a nice fit for their hurry-up scheme, and is poised for a breakout senior season.

Hall: If the Naps are ever to beat St. John’s, this has to be the year. Holy Name, 9-8.

Barboza: Hate to do this to the Naps, sorry. St. John's, 22-21.

NO. 9 DUXBURY AT NO. 8 BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM
The Skinny: B-R is itching to get over the hump after dropping its season-opener to the Dragons the past two seasons. The Trojans have some terrific talent between the tackles, led by Joey MacInnis, to pave for a big afternoon for junior tailback Arcel Armstead. Duxbury graduated one of its most talented classes ever from the 2011 Super Bowl champion squad, but still has plenty of talent left over to keep the state’s longest active win streak (26) going. Look for guard Rob Kosharek, linebacker Marshall McCarthy and running back Jon Hurvitz to have big days.

Barboza: Now that Dan Buron's nephew Andrew (former Duxbury standout) has graduated, expect the Trojans to get back to their winning ways. B-R, 14-10.

Hall: After graduating one of the program’s most talented classes ever, Marshall the Missile gets the full spotlight. And he usually gives the fans their money’s worth. Duxbury, 14-10.

CONCORD-CARLISLE AT BEVERLY
The Skinny: C-C heads into its non-league tilt with the heavy NEC/CAL Tier 2 favorite already limping, losing its star running back Tim Badgley (ACL tear) for the season. If the Patriots are to repeat last year’s Super Bowl championship success, sophomore quarterback Will Blumenberg will have to grow up quickly. Meanwhile, Beverly features one of the North Shore’s most feared rushing attacks with the three-pronged approach of Kenny Pierce, Brendan Flaherty and Dom Abate.

Barboza: ETA on when the Kenny Pierce hashtag gets rolling again? We're looking at you James Coffey. Beverly, 27-14.

Hall: I’m excited to see what Will Blumenberg can do for the Patriots, but the Panthers just have too much in the tank to be stopped in this one. Beverly, 28-7.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

January, 12, 2012
1/12/12
6:53
PM ET
Those of a certain age remember the slogan for Timex watches: “They take a licking and keep on ticking.”

Rhode IslandThe same could be said of the St. Raphael Academy boys’ basketball team.

Defending CIAC Class L champion New London smacked the Saints upside the head last Saturday en route to a 66-55 victory at the CCRI Knight Campus Fieldhouse.

With the memory of that loss still fresh in their minds, the Saints took the floor Tuesday night for a key, early-season game against Central.

The Saints edged the Knights, 57-54, and remained atop the Interscholastic League’s new Power Points Standings with a 6-0 record (SRA is 9-1 overall).

Leading the way was SRA’s 1-2 punch of Charles Correa and Cesar Mejia.

Correa, who struggled to score 15 points against New London, led both teams with 19 points while Mejia chipped in with 18 (before the game, Mejia was honored for having scored his 1000th career point earlier in the season).

Granted, the game was marked by a series of turnovers. But when clutch time rolled around, SRA held Central (5-1, 5-2) to four free throws in the final minute.

Conversely, while the Saints were soaring, perennial state power Hendricken High’s Hawks were floundering. At the moment, the Hawks are 1-4 and rank 33rd in the Power Points standings.

Given the new rules changes imposed for this season, one of which requires a team to win at least 40 percent of its league games to qualify for post-season play, the Hawks could be in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in decades.

The top 32 teams qualify.

Hendricken absorbed a brutal 55-53 loss at the hands of arch-rival La Salle on Jan. 3, which did zero to bolster the team’s confidence.

Among other things, a lack of offense has been the proverbial Achilles’ heel for the Hawks who’ve been minus their top returning player, Lee Messier, who’s been sidelined with a sprained ankle.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

November, 2, 2011
11/02/11
6:02
PM ET
Is there any sports fan who hasn’t heard that cliché’ “picking up the slack?”

Rhode IslandThat’s exactly what Division I leader La Salle Academy did on October 28 when the Rams overcame the loss of quarterback Anthony Francis, who was sidelined with an ankle injury, and still throttled playoff contender Cranston West, 30-6.

Junior running back Josh Morris certainly picked up the slack in his teammate’s absence by scoring on touchdown runs of 22 and 51 yards in the first half as the Rams remained on top with a 6-0 record.

La Salle also received a lift from backup quarterback Jack Collins who came off the bench and scored on runs of two yards and one yard.

As a result, La Salle has outscored its six division opponents by a hefty margin of 234-86 and is in position to run the table which would enable coach Geoff Marcone’s team to clinch the division title and the top seed in the upcoming playoffs.

But as is frequently the case, the title and the No. 1 seed won’t be decided until Thanksgiving Day when the Rams play arch-rival East Providence (4-1) in the state’s longest-running series on that holiday.

The Townies ventured to Massachusetts last weekend and were blanked, 26-0, by Foxborough in a non-league game – due in large part to the fact they committed seven turnovers. But the previous weekend, East Providence moved into title contention by beating third-place Hendricken (4-2), 35-14, as quarterback Brandon Peters threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Victor Adewoski and ran for a pair of touchdowns.

Should East Providence and La Salle enter their Thanksgiving game still ranked 1-2 in the standings and if the Townies win which would force a tie, they would earn the No. 1 seed based on the first tiebreaker (record in head-to-head competition).

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
11:29
PM ET
The play happens about as often as Haley’s Comet soars through the skies. But it was just what a young Chariho football team needed to provide the spark for what proved to be a 34-8 rout of perennial Division II power Shea.

Senior Brandon Cahoon returned a second-quarter free kick 70 yards for a touchdown – after already having scored on a 42-yard, first-quarter run – in the II-A game which propelled the Chargers into the thick of the race for the division title.

When the Chargers (2-1, 3-1) walked off the field, they were in a tie with Johnston (2-1, 3-1) and just one game behind undefeated co-leaders Central (3-0, 4-0) and Westerly (3-0, 4-0).

“These kids are all new,” said Chariho coach Mike Kelly. “There are nine new guys starting on offense and eight new guys starting on defense. What’s happening is we’re starting to get comfortable playing together and it’s starting to click a little bit.

“But with new guys, as nice as it is, next week it could be gone. That’s what we have to be careful of.”

Spoken like a true coach. But Cahoon, for the most part, echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“Once one of us starts clicking, we all start clicking,” he said. “Before, we needed to learn our assignments. That’s why we were so slow in the beginning. Once we started clicking, we just kept moving.

“We’re on a roll now. We just won’t stop.”

(Read full post)

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