Boston High School: Ben Onett

Carroll leads No. 7 Methuen to 8th straight 'W'

November, 6, 2010
11/06/10
1:21
AM ET
LAWRENCE, Mass. -- Against Central Catholic, Cal Carroll found yet another way to impact a game. And this time, Methuen’s dual-threat quarterback wasn’t even on the field.

With eight and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, Central Catholic scored on a two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Matt McDermott and trailed, 17-16. Conventional wisdom would have told Raiders coach Chuck Adamopoulos to tie the game with an extra point. But across the field, on the opposing sideline, Carroll loomed.

"I wanted to go for two because I thought our best chance to win the game was to win in regulation," Adamopoulos said. "I didn’t want to have to defend Carroll in overtime."

The Raiders’ two-point try failed and left them trying to catch up for the remainder of a wild fourth quarter that ended with Methuen taking its eighth straight win, 24-22.

"It’s awesome," said Carroll. "Methuen hasn’t been 8-0 in the [Merrimack Valley Conference] in a long time…To be on top feels great."

After Central Catholic’s failed conversion, Carroll made the Raiders’ comeback climb even tougher. He capped a 67-yard drive by hitting Bobby Cole on a 35-yard touchdown pass to make the score 24-16.

Down eight, Central Catholic had one last scoring drive left in them. The second half of the Raiders’ two-headed quarterback attack, Ben Onett (5-11, 65 yards), found Xavier Peralta (4 rec., 86 yards) in the end zone for a 23-yard score with 1:55 left.

Facing a two-point deficit, Adamopoulos was forced to go for two points again. The second try was similarly unsuccessful as the snap sailed over the head of running back Santino Brancato, forcing Brancato (10 carries, 45 yards) to fall on the ball for a loss.

Cole recovered the ensuing Central Catholic onside kick attempt to seal the Methuen victory.

It was a dramatic end to a firework-filled fourth quarter dominated by Carroll. He finished the game with a touchdown and 123 yards rushing on 28 carries, and 6-15 passing for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Both his touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter, and came with the Rangers’ leading receiver, Raudy Minaya, out of the game. Minaya left with a right knee injury suffered on a punt return late in the second quarter. He did not return.

Before Carroll’s touchdown pass to Cole, he started the fourth quarter by rolling out to his right to find Corey Shepherd for a 42-yard score. Shepherd was one of four Rangers receivers to catch a pass.

"Down the stretch everyone’s taking away our run," said Methuen coach Patrick Graham, who also watched his running back Ryan Savastano rush for 123 yards on 16 carries. "So we’re going to have to throw and [Carroll] has done a good job."

Methuen went into the half with a 10-0 lead after a Carroll one-yard touchdown plunge and an Eric Lacroix 29-yard field goal, but Central Catholic got those points back in the third quarter thanks to Cam Walsh.

Walsh kicked a 30-yard field goal to bring the Raiders within a touchdown of Methuen. Just over three minutes later, on Central Catholic’s next drive, Walsh (4 carries, 87 yards) took a handoff, burst through the line of scrimmage and sprinted 78 yards for the game-tying score.

Methuen answered with Shepherd’s touchdown catch and Central Catholic was left to catch up from there after McDermott (5-10, 58 yards passing) scored from two yards out and the following two-point try failed.

"It’s big," said Graham of the win. "There’s a lot of Methuen kids [on Central Catholic]. They grew up with those kids. They grew up playing with them in Pop Warner and other sports. When you lose to someone you don’t know, it doesn’t hurt as bad as when you lose to someone you do know."

Other notes:

- Methuen called up sophomore junior varsity center Dicky Aziz to play in place of starter Matt Whittaker, who missed the game with an injury. He fit into the Rangers zone blocking scheme just fine, helping to pave the way for 268 yards rushing. He also was on point with his shotgun snaps, as the Rangers’ offense almost exclusively uses the shotgun.

“[Aziz] did an excellent job,” said Carroll. “His snaps were all on target, and most of all he did a great job double teaming with our guards. That’s great to see we can trust him.”

- Methuen was unsure if Minaya would miss future games because of his injury. He was on crutches on the sidelines for the entire second half.

- This was Methuen’s third straight win over Central Catholic.

- Central Catholic continued to platoon quarterbacks as McDermott and Onett took the snaps on every other series.

- The national anthem was performed by six-year-old Olivia DiFiore, daughter of Raiders assistant coach Ernie DiFiore.


METHUEN 24, CENTRAL CATHOLIC 22

MET (8-1) 0 10 0 14 --- 24
CEN (6-3) 0 0 10 12 –-- 22

Second quarter
M – Lacroix 29 kick
M – Carroll 1 run (Lacroix kick)

Third quarter
C – Walsh 30 kick
C – Walsh 78 run (Walsh kick)

Fourth quarter
M – Carroll 42 pass to Shepard (Lacroix kick)
C – McDermott 2 run (run failed)
M – Carroll 35 pass to Cole (Lacroix kick)
C – Onett 23 pass to Peralta (run failed)

Houston takes first win over No. 21 CC

September, 24, 2010
9/24/10
11:42
PM ET
DRACUT, Mass. -- It was a special victory for head coach Jason Houston of the Dracut Middies on Friday night.

Dracut not only beat league-rival No. 21 Central Catholic, 27-14, but the team also garnered its first win of the season, and in doing so -- earned Houston the first win of his career.

The Middies cruised in the victory, going up 27-0 until the Raiders tacked on 14 points to end the game.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Houston about his inaugural victory at the helm for the Middies. “It’s Central Catholic -- a league opponent -- and this is the second time we’ve beat them in 22 years. It’s nice to know we can come in and beat a team that has really had our number over the years.”

Houston did a solid job coaching a young defense that is missing three linebackers due to injury. The defense set the tone on the first drive when junior A.J. Proia intercepted Central Catholic’s Matt McDermott, and the Dracut offense capitalized and never looked back.

“It feels a lot better than I thought it would,” Houston said. “This is a lot better than I really thought it would be. The guys gave me the game ball for my first career victory, and it doesn’t get any better than to win your first game against a league opponent.”

Dracut’s Matt Silva was impressive managing the game. The quarterback completed 12 of 17 passes for 126 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

“The seniors couldn’t start off 0-3,” Silva said about the group’s determination. “We’re too good of a program…we had to get it done tonight and we were determined that we were going to win.”

Silva’s 27-yard touchdown strike was to his favorite target, Chris Malonis. Malonis finished the game with six catches for 59 yards and one touchdown.

“Silva always gives it his all,” Malonis said . “He’s the one who carries us every single game and this one goes to him and the line.”

Keith Hamel and Kevin Bishop were especially efficient with the ball for Dracut. Hamel had two touchdowns of fewer than three yards and Bishop had a 1-yard score to begin the game.

As the team has done all-season, Central Catholic substituted quarterbacks each series. McDermott started the game for the Raiders, but Ben Onett rotated in.

McDermott hit Xavier Peralta over the middle in the fourth quarter to give Central Catholic its second touchdown. Running back Trae Musumarra scored the first touchdown for the Raiders on a 6-yard run.

DRACUT 27, CENTRAL CATHOLIC 14
D - 7 7 7 6 -- 27
CC - 0 0 0 14 -- 14

1st quarter:
D - Kevin Bishop 1 run (Matt Silva kick)

2nd quarter:
D - Keith Hamel 3 run (Silva kick)

3rd quater:
D - Keith Hamel 3 run (Silva kick)

4th quarter:
D - Chris Malonis 27 catch from Silva (kick failed)
C - Trae Musumarra 6 run (Cam Walsh kick)
C - Xavier Peralta 27 catch from Matt McDermott (Walsh kick)

What we learned: 9/20 edition

September, 20, 2010
9/20/10
11:27
AM ET
Now that the dust has settled on Week 2 of the MIAA football schedule, here’s what we learned from this weekend’s action:

The Atlantic Coast League race is going to be a lot closer than we thought
No. 15 Falmouth and defending Super Bowl champ Marshfield were the figurative favorites in the ACL headed into the 2010 season, but the picture just got a whole lot more crowded.

After a surprise upset of Methuen in Week One, Plymouth North almost pulled off another shocker last Friday against No. 24 Duxbury. Matt Walsh – he of the heroic 77-yard winning touchdown in week one – hauled in a 5-yard pass from Cody Merritt with no time left on the clock, to make it 14-12 Duxbury. The ensuing two-point conversion pass was intercepted and returned 100 yards for the 16-12 final, but a point has been firmly made in year one of the Dwayne Follette era.

Meanwhile, Dennis-Yarmouth – fresh off a 41-38 upset of Barnstable – is averaging 42 points per game, led by junior dual-threat quarterback Matt Montalto. The Dolphins run the spread and like to throw the ball, but a closer look at their program shows they’re not some pass-happy outfit. Led by the hulking 6-foot-5, 319-pound Nate Crary at left tackle, the Dolphins are physical at the point of attack, and maintain a nice balance on their zone read behind running backs like Joe Furness and Damion Johnson.

“If you ever needed a big play in any sport, he’s the one who’s going to do it,” D-Y head coach Paul Funk said of Montalto, who also plays hockey and baseball at the school. “That’s him, that’s his makeup. I’d take that kid anywhere.”

As for toughness?

“(I’d rate him) at the top,” Funk said. “That’s what makes him so great. When your quarterback’s as tough as everybody else, everybody else tows the line.”

Burlington can score in a hurry
Down 28-14 to Arlington in the fourth quarter, the Red Devils bounced back in a hurry, scoring a whopping 29 points over the final few minutes of the contest to take a 43-28 win going away. Freshman Marcus Odiah hauled in a 25-yard Greg Sheridan pass, then recovered a fumble moments later and scored from three yards out. He then ran in the two-point conversion for a 29-28 lead with 1:15 left.

Seconds later, Kyle Shields intercepted a pass, and Odiah ran it in from 40 yards out to make it 36-28. Anthony Cruz then put the clamps on the win with a 52-yard pick-six on an Arlington Hail Mary heave.

One thing is for certain as Middlesex League play begins next week: The Red Devils are a wild card.

Dan Light is a tough guy to wrap up
Last season, we saw glimpses of Dan Light’s ability as a running quarterback for St. John’s (Shrewsbury), when he took direct snaps lined up next to quarterback Griffin Murphy as the Pioneers’ ball-carrier in Wildcat formations. And now that Light, a senior, has made the full transition from tight end to signal-caller, we’re seeing that in full force.

With the No. 4 Pioneers’ 37-8 defeat of Longmeadow yesterday, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound lefty has accumulated over 600 yards of offense and 10 touchdowns through two games. On the ground, he is averaging 11.1 yards a carry, and has hooked up with Cal-bound receiver Richard Rodgers for four touchdowns.

At times, Light has shown Tebow-esque abilities carrying the ball. But it’s the vision he’s developed over the last few weeks that has made him that much more difficult to stop.

“If I looked at him over the last three weeks, he has become a very smart quarterback,” St. John’s head coach John Andreoli said of Light. “Our offense is really designed around looking at the defense and taking advantage of what the defense gives you, and I see Danny taking more ownership of those calls.

“He’s been able to deliver the ball on the long balls, but on the short balls, you know, you see his feet moving around in the pocket and he’s very comfortable. And all of that, when you pull people out of the box and give him the ability to run the ball, he’s a very dangerous player. That’s really the point where we want to get.”

Tewksbury’s visit to Methuen on Oct. 29 will go a long way to deciding the MVC Small crown
With Lawrence’s surprise upset of Lynn English and Tewksbury’s surgical handling of Lincoln-Sudbury on opening weekend, the two teams’ meeting in Tewksbury last Saturday had the potential for greatness. The Redmen, however, wanted none of that, going up 28-6 on Lawrence at the half en route to an easy 35-6 win.

Sean Connolly led the way for Tewskbury with 101 yards on the ground and 105 through the air, totaling two scores, but watch out for tailback Anthony Arcari. He may be one of the more underrated speedsters in the league.

“The whole team likes to play as a family,” Arcari told ESPNBoston’s Neil Carroll. “We talked about that all year and on that one drive the offensive line did their job, the quarterback did his job, we ran the ball well and it demonstrated all that Tewksbury can do.”

Meanwhile over in Methuen, the two-man game of Cal Carroll and Raudy Minaya that works so well during basketball season has finally broken out again on the gridiron. Carroll (11 of 15, 146 yards) easily dispatched much-hyped Malden on Friday night with a strong second half, finishing with five scores through the air – including three to his good buddy – and another on the ground.

This was the Methuen that so many coaches had raved about during preseason.

“We have some of the toughest lineman around,” Carroll told ESPNBoston correspondent Phil Perry. “Steve DiZazzo, Sean Whittaker, they do all the dirty work inside. They watch so much film and work so hard, my success is because of what they can do.”

This week is a brutal one for the MVC Small’s front runners, with Methuen traveling to Billerica, Dracut hosting Central Catholic and Tewksbury visiting Andover. But based on the early returns, we suggest circling October 29 on your calendars.

Not the Raiders of old
Central Catholic proved more than just the point that they could hang with St. John’s Prep in this weekend’s game. The Raiders offensive identity has been altered from years past to incorporate the passing game more.

Although head coach Chuck Adamopoulos said in the preseason he hadn’t seen a definitive No. 1 quaterback emerge, it looks as though Central Catholic has some able bodies at the position. Transfer student Ben Onett was impressive and accurate in his Massachusetts debut against Marlborough a week ago.

But it was junior Matt McDermott who seemed to take hold of the Raiders’ offense this week at St. John’s Prep. Adamopoulos again split time between his quarterbacks on Saturday, but McDermott looked as though he might have a hand up on the competition. He was on the field for each of the Raiders’ scoring drives and seems to have developed a good rapport with his top target, receiver Xavier Peralta.

It was also telling that McDermott was on the field for the Central Catholic’s final drive in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. The Raiders’ chance for a comeback was thwarted by an interception in the game’s waning moments, but it bears watching how the quarterback situation in Lawrence develops in the coming weeks.

No. 1 Brockton and No. 2 Xaverian have been flawless so far, setting up Saturday’s showdown to be one for … well, really, do we need to explain?
Saturday. 1 p.m. Clapboardtree Street, Westwood.

No. 1 versus No. 2.

Public vs. Private.

Need we say more?

HEAD OF THE CLASS, WEEK 2
Taking a look at the weekend’s top performers:
  • Isaiah Jones, Mahar: Tallied 311 yards of total offense and five touchdowns during just the first half in a 46-14 win over Dean Tech. Jones had two rushing scores, two punt returns for a touchdown and an interception return. Mahar ran just 4 plays in first half and was up 46-8 at half.
  • Ryan Vultaggio, Groton-Dunstable: Vultaggio picked up 279 yards on the ground on just 12 carries to go along with four touchdowns in a 52-34 over West Boylston.
  • Nick LaSpada, Billerica: The junior quarterback was stellar once again, completing 15 of 23 pass attempts for 318 yards and one touchdown against Woburn. LaSpada also ran for three touchdowns.
  • Cal Carroll, Methuen: See Phil Perry’s story.
  • Charlie Blackett, Lexington: The senior defensive tackle set up camp in Concord-Carlisle’s backfield to the tune of five sacks and was in on a countless number of other plays.
  • Dan Light, St. John’s (S): The quarterback was superb with 296 yards of offense and five touchdowns in a 37-8 win over Western Mass. power Longmeadow.
  • John Pieterse, Worcester Academy: In his third career start, Pieterse was 16 of 18 for 322 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-14 victory over Blair Academy.

No. 18 St. John's Prep squeezes by No. 21 CC

September, 18, 2010
9/18/10
7:51
PM ET
DANVERS, Mass. – No. 18 St. John’s Prep headed to the locker room down 14-6 to No. 21 Central Catholic Saturday. The Eagles had been without their best running back, Tyler Coppola, for part of the half and head coach Jim O’Leary thought the Raiders were being tipped off on their runs. Their option attack wasn’t yielding much either.

So O’Leary did what any good football coach does: He adjusted.

First, he put in a couple plays on play-action to get the ball into the hands of receiver Dillon Gonzalez.

Check.

Next, he changed up the Eagles’ blocking scheme in the run game to throw off Central Catholic’s keys on fullback Chris Ryan.

Done.

Those small changes added up in a big way for Prep on two second-half touchdown drives in a thrilling 22-21 comeback win.

“When the defense is keying in on the run, those passing lanes open up,” Gonzalez said. “We made some changes to our running game, too. Those were all adjustments that we made at halftime.”

Eagles junior quarterback Tommy Gaudet grabbed a botched snap, composed himself and snuck in for a 4-yard touchdown run — his second of the game — to bring Prep (2-0) within a point at 21-20. Gaudet then finished what he started by taking in the 2-point conversion on the keeper.

The Raiders (1-1) got the ball back with two minutes to play, but their drive was dashed when Ryan picked off a Matt McDermott pass over the middle in Eagles’ territory.

“Did you really think I would kick it there?” O’Leary said, grinning about his decision to go for two and the win.

Coppola, who finished with 15 carries for 136 yards, was knocked out of the game for part of first half after he was clipped by an opponent’s helmet on the chin. Eight stitches were required to close the gash.

The senior running back returned in time to led the Eagles back in the third quarter.

Coppola led Prep on a 79-yard touchdown drive that spanned more than eight minutes of the third. The drive culminated with his 32-yard touchdown run (the game was then tied 14-14 after Gaudet took in the 2-point try) to open the fourth quarter. Coppola accounted for 49 of the Eagles’ yards on the drive.

“I want the ball in those situations,” he said. “It gets you pumped up.”

Both of the Eagles’ second-half touchdowns were in no small way aided by Gonzalez’s efforts in the passing game.

The 5-foot-11 wide out skied over the Central Catholic secondary to haul in a sensational one-handed reception over the middle for a 21-yard gain and helped to set up Coppola’s touchdown run.

Gonzalez also put his imprint on what would prove to be the winning Prep drive. Once again, this time on a go-route down the right-hand sideline, he went up for a jump ball and came down the ball over a Raider defender.

“They were just flying up to our option so we put the pass to Dillon [Gonzalez] in,” O’Leary said. “Tommy [Gaudet] threw a nice ball and he got us down the field.”

Central Catholic was not without its bright spots though.

The new look Raiders offense was efficient under the direction of McDermott, who completed 11 of 18 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in shared time with Ben Onett.

Bruising running back Trae Musumarra contributed 10 carries, 56 hard-fought yards and a rushing touchdown, which temporarily reclaimed the lead, 21-14, for Central Catholic in the fourth quarter.

“They ran the ball between the tackles and we didn’t do a great job of stopping them,” Raiders head coach Chuck Adamopoulos said. “We scored the go ahead touchdown with [three] minutes to go. You’ve got to be able to win the game there. They went for two, which was a good move because we looked awful on defense at that point.

“They made the plays.”

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