Boston High School: Bo Berluti

TVL Large football All-Stars announced

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
2:10
PM ET
The Tri-Valley League Large division today announced its All-Stars and postseason award winners for the football season.

Thanks to Medfield head coach Erik Ormberg for the email sent to local media today.

Coaches or league representatives, across all fall sports, are encouraged send their league All-Star lists to editors Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com) and Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com):

TVL MVP – Bo Berluti, Westwood
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Matt Jeye, Holliston
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Paul Beling, Holliston
LINEMAN OF THE YEAR – Kevin Sheehan, Medway
COACH OF THE YEAR – Dave McSweeney, Medway

-----

ALL-STARS

O-LINE
Austin Barrett #52-Holliston
Jon doCarmo #55-Holliston
Callan Berry #51-Hopkinton
Joey Sears #55-Medfield
Chris Eldridge #52-Westwood

RECEIVERS
Zach Elkinson #3-Holliston
Chris Hanley #24-Westwood

RUNNING BACKS
Anthony Parchesky #23-Medway
Dan Roache #28-Westwood

TIGHT ENDS
Brendan Patterson #44-Westwood

QUARTERBACK
Stephen Ledogar #7-Medfield

D-LINE
Cam Smith #77-Medway
Joe Belomo #30-Holliston
Ryan Demaranis #75-Westwood

LINEBACKER
Tim Huffam #1-Medway
Jordan Jacobs #34-Hopkinton
Scott McManus #56-Westwood
Tom Radonich #53-Westwood

DEFENSIVE BACK
Nick Athy #12-Holliston
Nick D’Aloia #7-Hopkinton
Tommy Sears #5-Medfield
Matt Patry #25-Medfield

ALL-PURPOSE
Jeff Greenberg #17-Medway
Drew Donahue #22-Hopkinton

D4 South: Holliston 35, Westwood 20

November, 9, 2013
11/09/13
12:28
AM ET
WESTWOOD, Mass. -– The double overtime loss in early October was still fresh on the mind of Holliston quarterback Matt Jeye leading up to this week’s rematch. After all, if there is one game to win all season, it is over archrival Westwood.

Luckily for the Panthers, they got another shot and they did not let it slip through their grasp. This time is was Holliston celebrating at midfield with hundreds of fans after a thrilling 35-20 victory in the Div. 4 South semifinals.

“I got texts from seniors who graduated last year, alumni all over the place, they are asking me to defeat these guys and I knew I had to do that,” said Jeye.

“Those who graduated 10 years ago up till this team right here came back to see this team get this result,” Holliston coach Todd Kiley said following the game.

It wasn’t easy and it looked like another overtime game was in the forecast. Holliston lead 28-20 with just over three minutes to play and faced a 3rd and 1 from deep inside their own territory when they dialed up something buried deep in the playbook. Lining up in their "War" package, junior Zach Elkinson took an end-around, faked a reverse to Nick Athy and went untouched for 81 yards to seemingly put the game away for the Panthers.

“We put that in because of how they defended the reverse last time. We decided to go to that play because we needed one yard, and actually Zach scored too quickly,” Kiley joked after the game.

But no lead seems to be safe in this rivalry matchup. On the ensuring kickoff, Dan Roache returned the kickoff 70 yards to the Holliston 10 yard line. A big holding penalty and a couple of incompletions followed and the Wolverines turned the ball over on downs, ending the threat as Holliston went into victory formation.

“Until those numbers say zero on the clock, I don’t feel safe,” said Kiley.

Holliston opened the game with a chip on their shoulder. Their defense forced a Wolverine punt on the opening drive, and on their second possession, Westwood quarterback Bo Berluti (20 carries, 186 yards) was hit from behind and the ball popped into Matt McIssac’s hand which was returned 66 yards for the game’s first score.

After the two teams traded 1-yard touchdowns runs in the final five minutes of the half, Holliston threatened to run away with the game. The Panthers opened up the second half with a 6-play, 65-yard drive ending with a 14-yard hookup between Jeye and Elkinson to give the visitors a 21-6 lead and silencing the den.

Westwood needed to figure out the Panthers defense and quick. They looked to their senior quarterback and he answered. Berluti ran the ball six times for 38 yards and then found a wide-open Connor DiVincenzo in the end zone for a 32-yard score, cutting the deficit to 21-12.

The Westwood defense forced a three-and-out and four plays later, with Berluti only needing one-yard on third down, came up with 54 on a keeper up the middle to bring Westwood within one, capturing the momentum for the Wolverines.

With the script all too-familiar for Matt Jeye and the Panthers, they made it a point to win the fourth quarter. And they wasted no time. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jeye found his favorite target, Paul Beling for 72 yards and was forced out of bounds by Corey Hanley.

For a moment it looked as if Hanley saved his team seven points, but on 4th and goal from the 13, Beling made an incredibly athletic play, leaping up from the back of the endzone with the awareness to get his feet inbound for the 28-20 lead.

“That was a huge turning point, said Kiley. “It really speaks volumes about what Matt Jaye is to this football team. He hung in there he got pressed out of the pocket but kept his composure and was able to find Paul in the back of the end zone. Those two have made plays all year long.”

Gutsy performances from Elkinson: The 5-foot-8 junior came down with everything thrown his way, including the flu. But, Elkinson was still determined to play in his team’s biggest game of the season. He showed up to school on Friday for the minimum amount of time needed and went home to get some sleep.

Elkinson didn’t even show up to the game until 15 minutes prior to kickoff. “He slept until he absolutely needed to be here because he didn’t want to let him teammates down,” Kiley said of his star wideout.

And without Elkinson, the Panthers may not have pulled off the upset. He had the clinching 81-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes and added four catches for 71 yards and a score on the receiving end.

“I texted him about 80 times today asking if he would be okay,” Jeye said. “I told him if he played id buy him some soup, some cake whatever he wants.“

Interesting end to first half: Westwood was driving in the final five minutes of the first half, trailing 7-0. The Wolverines ran the ball effectively during the drive when they decided to get cute with the ball. With the ball at the Panther 15 yard line and 15 minutes to play, Westwood came out with a half-back pass that was picked off by Colman Regan (his first of two on the night) at the two-yard line.

With 4:25 remaining and in the shadow of their own goalpost, Holliston came out throwing. The first was incomplete. Again, the Panthers threw the ball and Jeye was picked off at his own five-yard line. On the next play Roache, busted through the line for the first Westwood score of the night.

Two interesting play calls in a vulnerable position on the field. Two interceptions.

When Holliston got the ball back with 4:10 to play Jeye went into his two minute offense. A play to Elkinson for 11 yards and a big pass to Beling for 38 set up the Panthers inside the 10. Jeye called his own number on third and fourth down to get a big score before the end of the half and take the win out of the Wolverines’ sails.

A look ahead to Thanksgiving: Don’t worry, if you missed either of the first two thrillers between these two teams, you’ll get another chance.

For the first time in state football history, the same matchup will occur three times in the same year. These two teams met in divisional play, were matched up in the Division 4 playoffs and will meet again for their annual Thanksgiving rivalry matchup.

Over the past year, this rivalry has been one of the best in the state. In last season’s turkey-day game, with the winner taking the Tri-Valley large football crown and moving onto the playoffs, Westwood crushed Holliston.

In their first meeting this year, Westwood won again in double overtime and then Friday night, Holliston got revenge from last year with a huge playoff win.

“Thanksgiving will always be Thanksgiving and now it will be a rubber match,” Kiley said.

At this point, your guess is as good as mine as to who will take it this year. You have better luck at flipping a coin.


HOLLISTON 35, WESTWOOD 20
HOL -- 7 7 7 14 -- 35
WES -- 0 6 14 0 -- 20


First Quarter
H - Matt McIssac 66 interception return (Matt Jeye kick), 6:57

Second Quarter
W - Dan Roache 1 run (rush fail), 4:20
H - Jeye 1 run (Jeye kick), 1:03

Third Quarter
H - Zach Elkinson 14 pass from Jeye (Jeye kick), 8:27
W - Connor DiVincenzo 32 pass from Bo Berluti (rush failed), 4:08
W - Berluti 54 run (Corey Hanley pass from Bertuli), :10

Fourth Quarter
H - Paul Beling 13 pass from Jeye (Jeye kick), 10:07
H - Elkinson 81 run (Jeye kick), 3:03

Roundtable: Predicting MIAA Football District Champs

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
4:21
PM ET
EDITOR'S NOTE: Picks for Western Mass. are omitted, as the district concludes its final week of regular season this weekend)

Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


Division 1 North: Everett
Plain and simple, I just don’t see John DiBiaso getting outcoached in this field.

Division 1 South: Attleboro
One of several surprise picks I’m going to lay down here. The Blue Bombardiers’ program has long been a sleeping giant, and they’ve finally awoken this fall with a slew of skilled athletes, including quarterback Tim Walsh, tight end Luke Morrison, receiver Brenden Massey and promising young two-way lineman Kyle Murphy. The key may be junior Damon Belin, a speedy pass-catching running back who is elusive in space.

Division 2 North: Haverhill
Hard to think just two years after an 0-11 campaign, the Hillies are the No. 1 seed in a playoff tournament. Sophomore running back Ian Kessel, one of the area’s leaders in yards from scrimmage, has been at the forefront of the renaissance, and I expect him to have a breakout campaign this next month.

Division 2 South: Natick
If there is one player capable of carrying his team on his back, it is quarterback Troy Flutie, who has put up video game numbers yet again (2,500-plus yards, 35 TD) with an assortment of supporting cast members.

Division 2 Central: Leominster
This is the most talented team of Dave Palazzi’s tenure, and it may be his best coaching job yet. They are not the most physically intimidating team, but they are one of the most disciplined, and they squeeze every inch out of their talents, led by dual threat QB Neil O’Connor. The Blue Devils brought the biggest crowd ever to Gillette Stadium two years ago. I can only imagine what kind of caravan from this football-mad city would show up this year.

Division 3 Northeast: Tewksbury
There may be some bumps in the road in this field, but at the end of the day there isn’t a team as deep as the Redmen in this field. They were the most dominant team in the MVC this season, and with a stable of running backs led by James Sullivan and Eddie Matovu, along with a scheme that draws formations from seemingly every family of offense throughout history, I just don’t see how anyone knocks these guys off.

Division 3 Northwest: Arlington
Two Dubzinskis are better than one, and the father-son duo of head coach John Jr. and his father John Sr. as defensive coordinator has taken the Middlesex by storm this fall after showing promise a year ago. I don’t know what direction this bracket is headed in, but the Spy Ponders are a safe pick.

Division 3 Southeast: Plymouth South
As long as Dylan Oxsen is carrying the rock, I don’t see anyone but the Panthers taking this bracket. It’s a different story after that, though.

Division 3 Southwest: Walpole
The Rebels’ ground game has come along well, after hitting a few bumps. As long as the defense can hold up, their multi-dimensional stable of backs can do the rest.

Division 4 North: Bedford
Another field that can go in an assortment of directions, the ground game dictated by Olan Abner could be the difference.

Division 4 South: Dennis-Yarmouth
The Dolphins typically hit their stride in the second half of the season, and the way this offense is clicking, it’s going to take a flawless defensive performance to shut down Spencer Tyler, Michael Dunn and company.

Division 4 Central: Doherty
Twitter follower and familiar 98.5 The Sports Hub caller “Aidan From Worcester” guarantees Shepherd Hill beats Doherty in this bracket. The Rams are a dangerous bunch, but the Highlanders have arguably the best grouping of pure athletes statewide across Division 4, so I'm sticking to my gut.

Division 5 North: Bishop Fenwick
Rufus Rushins gets much of the glory in this dominant run for the Crusaders, and deservedly so, but quarterback Nick Bona is the catalyst of this offense, and will be the difference in a close game somewhere down the line.

Division 5 South: Abington
The Green Wave lost some key bodies to start the year, but have been rolling ever since, capped with a convincing 36-7 rout of East Bridgewater. The versatile backfield of Al Freeman, Jason Halpin, quarterback Bryan Dwyer and promising sophomore Shawn Donovan will wear front sevens down.

Division 5 Central: Leicester
Tom Rodrick has been the driving force on both sides of the ball, but quarterback Drew Mazzeo puts the Wolverines over the top.

Division 6 North: Latin Academy
There are trendier picks in this field, such as Boston Cathedral, but the Dragons have one of the better overall athletes in this field in quarterback/safety Kyle Dance. He will be the difference.

Division 6 South: Upper Cape
Mike Hernon has done a fantastic job with this program, and while the Rams are a low seed headed into this wide-open field, Jon Dumont is a dangerous asset to this triple-option scheme who can take them deep.

Division 6 Central: Blackstone Valley Tech
Nic Wojnar is as elusive with his feet as he is throwing the ball in the Beavers’ read option scheme. Expect big numbers from the senior this postseason.

***

Scott Barboza
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


DIVISION 1 NORTH: Lowell
I’ve gone on record since the summertime months saying the Red Raiders are making an appearance at Gillette Stadium this year. Lowell has a tough road there, staring with a first-round road game at St. John’s Prep in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 swing matchup, but I’ve like the strides this defense has made behind Alex Quintero and Shyheim Cullen.

DIVISION 2 NORTH: Haverhill
One of the tougher races to project in Eastern Mass., the Hillies enter as the No. 1 seed. Preseason favorite Reading, a buzz worthy Waltham team and old stalwarts Lincoln-Sudbury could all claim the prize, but I’m going with the upstart Hillies, vindication for the terrific job Tim O’Connor has done since taking over the program.

DIVISION 3 NORTHEAST: Tewksbury
Marblehead might have the best athlete in the field with two-sport standout Brooks Tyrrell, but Tewksbury proves too much to handle, with a three-headed rushing attack and a stout defense.

DIVISION 3 NORTHWEST: Melrose
The Red Raiders lone loss of the regular season came against Middlesex Freedom division rival Wakefield, coming on a late field goal, but I like Melrose the second time around. The teams couldn’t meet until the sectional final and who wouldn’t love ensuring a third meeting of the season by Thanksgiving rivals.

DIVISION 4 NORTH: Watertown
Perhaps a surprise pick coming out of the division, the Red Raiders have some athletes on the boundaries with T.J. Hairston. I think Bedford might be the team to watch here, but just playing a hunch.

DIVISION 5 NORTH: Bishop Fenwick
Pick the Crusaders to go all the way, on a tear through Gillette. They haven’t just beaten teams, they’ve annihilated the CCL’s best, including St. Mary’s (first-round opponent) and Austin Prep, which they both will/can see down the road.

DIVISION 6 NORTH: Cathedral
Another North-based team I have running the field. As I mentioned earlier in the state championship Roundtable, I think the Panthers are just hitting their stride now. This could be the second championship of more to come.

DIVISION 1 SOUTH: Xaverian
Almost wanted to pull the trigger and go with Bridgewater-Raynham here, but I think the Hawks’ defense, which has carried them through the regular season, continues to be the story in the postseason, leading them to Gillette.

DIVISION 2 SOUTH: Mansfield
If this were the World Cup, this would be referred to as the “Group of Death.” Seriously, whichever team survives this gauntlet will be battle-tested. Ever since Week 1, it seems as though Mansfield’s been a team of destiny; they follow through.

DIVISION 3 SOUTHEAST: Plymouth South
An intriguing bracket, littered with some of the Atlantic Coast League’s finest, so look no further than the Panthers, the league’s playoff representative from last season. Nauset and Plymouth North are lurking, but also don’t look past an underrated rivalry game between Somerset-Berkley and Dighton-Rehoboth as a first-round appetizer.

DIVISION 3 SOUTHWEST: Oliver Ames
Another division strongly influenced by the presence of one particular league, in this case the Hockomock. OA and Stoughton drew the top two seeds, but let’s not sleep on No. 4 seed North Attleborough, which plays up in the Kelley-Rex division. Whichever team emerges from the Red Rocketeers’ first-round duel with Walpole could be a dark horse for the sectional title.

DIVISION 4 SOUTH: Westwood
Tons of Tri-Valley League talent to go around here, but I’m sticking with the regular-season champion. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if Dennis-Yarmouth wears the sectional crown, but the Wolverines are a team that simply seems to get it done when the chips are on the table, led by dynamic senior quarterback Bo Berluti.

DIVISION 5 SOUTH: Cardinal Spellman
Old Rochester Regional enters the tournament with the No. 1 seeding, having posted some gaudy offensive numbers throughout the year behind running back Richie Phillips. I picked the Cardinals to win the state title from the start of the season, and while I like Fenwick a little more in terms of the state championship, I still envision Spellman returning to Gillette.

DIVISION 6 SOUTH: Millis/Hopedale
Perhaps no injury will have a greater impact on the outlook of the division than that of the Mohawks and lineman Jon Baker. Granted, I still like M/H’s chances emerging from a wide-open field, thanks to running back Chris Ahl. That being said, the Mohawks’ first-round date with Mashpee could determine the sectional champion.

DIVISION 2 CENTRAL: Leominster
I like the Blue Devils to advance to Gillette, but the sectional field is fraught with peril, too. Marlborough and St. John’s (Shrewsbury) can score with the best of them, but I don’t think anything short of an act of god slows down the Leominster caravan.

DIVISION 4 CENTRAL: Doherty
From season’s start, I’ve tabbed the Highlanders as my statewide Division 4 championship favorite. However, the toughest matchup in the path might very well in their first-round test against No. 6 seed Quabbin.

DIVISION 5 CENTRAL: Leicester
Coming into the season, it would have been easy to project Auburn running away with another championship of sorts, but I’m going with the No. 1-seeded Wolverines, led by linebacker Tom Rodrick – a strong Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

DIVISION 6 CENTRAL: West Boylston
This is a case of what have you done for me lately? While No. 1 seed Littleton rolled through its Mid-Wach schedule undefeated, scoring at a clip of nearly 43 points per game, West Boylston notched a thorough win over previously mentioned Leicester two weeks ago. Granted, the Lions’ lone loss of the season came at the hands of Littleton, but after a one-possession loss in Week 1, I’m banking on the second meeting having a different outcome.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 5

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
5:45
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 5 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS*

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Boston College commit completed 14 of 27 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns, and added 47 yards on the ground, in a 28-0 shutout of Norwood.

Brendan Hill, Jr. TE, Mansfield
Caught four passes for 76 yards and a score in the Hornets’ 49-42 win over Attleboro.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. ATH, Barnstable
Ran for 115 yards and three touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ 35-14 win over New Bedford.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB/S, Leominster
In just one half of football in the Blue Devils’ 34-0 shutout of Wachusett, accounted for 201 yards of offense and capped things off with a nifty 90-yard interception return to the house.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns in the Rockets’ 34-12 win over Framingham.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Carried 24 times for 233 yards and four touchdowns in the Crusaders’ commanding 42-20 rout of Cardinal Spellman.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
In the Pioneers’ 49-21 win over Nashoba, completed 23 of 29 passes for 335 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and added 67 rushing yards.

Cody Williams, Sr., Springfield Central
Monmouth commit completed 13 of 18 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and added 118 yards and a third score on the ground, in the Golden Eagles’ 19-7 win over Longmeadow.

Ju’an Williams, Sr., Springfield Central
Caught five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown in the Golden Eagles’ 19-7 win over Longmeadow

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 19 of 28 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns in the Hornets’ 49-42 thriller over Attleboro.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
Recorded a touchdown catch, his second of the year, in the Highlanders’ 40-12 rout of Worcester South. Through four games he is averaging 30.9 yards per catch, and has recorded 37 tackles on defense.


FIVE ON THE RISE

Bo Berluti, Sr. QB, Westwood
Accounted for 255 yards of offense and three total touchdowns in the Wolverines’ 43-41 double-overtime epic over archrival Holliston. But it will be his gutsy 25-yard, fourth and goal TD pass in the second overtime that will go down in folklore.

Derrell Fernandez, Sr. RB, Weymouth
Carried 225 times for 264 yards and five touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 42-18 win over Brookline.

Mike McGillicuddy, Sr. WR, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
The elusive slot receiver caught nine passes for 113 yards in the Pioneers’ 49-21 win over Nashoba.

Tom Rodrick, Sr. LB, Leicester
The UConn commit recorded 12 tackles, a sack, and blocked field goal in the Wolverines’ 15-6 win over Auburn.

Alex Valles, Sr. RB, Danvers
Carried 24 times for 211 yards and three scores in the Falcons’ 20-12 win over Revere.


TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Brooks Tyrrell, Jr., Marblehead – 889 yards, 9 total TD
Johnathan Thomas, Sr., St. John’s Prep – 748 yards, 8 total TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 760 yards, 8 TD
Olan Abner, Sr., Bedford – 733 yards, 7 TD
Christian Perez, Sr., Northeast – 725 yards, 8 total TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 1,230 yards, 19 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,086 yards, 14 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,072 yards, 11 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,035 yards, 17 TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 955 yards, 11 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 405 yards, 7 TD
Brian Daly, Sr., Marblehead – 395 yards, 8 TD
Dan Henrickson, Sr., St. Peter-Marian – 380 yards, 5 TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 371 yards, 2 TD
Mike Bombard, Sr., Chicopee Comp – 369 yards, 3 TD

Dual Threat
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 1,230 passing yards, 284 rushing yards, 21 total TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,035 passing yards, 316 rushing yards, 18 total TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,072 passing yards, 167 rushing yards, 14 total TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) 955 passing yards, 169 rushing yards, 16 total TD
Cody Williams, Sr., Springfield Central – 851 passing yards, 254 rushing yards, 13 total TD



*Not including teams who were idle last weekend.


WESTWOOD, Mass. – At the end of a double-overtime, 43-41 win over archrival and traditional Thanksgiving Day foe Holliston, firework shells exploded overhead Westwood quarterback Bo Berluti.

It was the eve of “Westwood Day” and it appeared the entire populous of the leafy suburb had spilled out onto the turf at Flahive Field. Encircling Berluti was a gaggle of pint-sized youth football players, chanting, “Bo! Bo! Bo!”

The postgame fireworks were merely a coincidence, prompting one parent in passing to comment: “This would’ve had a different feel had they lost.” But they didn’t. All together, it seemed as though the Wolverines had already lost several times over. Yet, somehow, they avoided demise at every turn.

Like Robert Redford rounding the bases under popping stadium lights in “The Natural,” it was pure magic, and the Wolverines’ star receiver-turned-signal-caller had a hand in it all.

The ball was in Berluti’s hands on the two-point conversion to tie the game with less than a minute to play in regulation.

It was in his hands when Westwood faced certain loss with a fourth-down situation and 25 yards to go. And, when Berluti somehow dialed up the perfect touchdown play to Chris Hanley to tie the game once again, he took it into his own hands to finish the job, converting his third two-point conversion try of the game.

“The composure that kid had at the end was just unbelievable,” senior running back/defensive back Dan Roache said of Berluti. “And Chris Hanley, it’s his first year playing varsity, comes up huge. It’s just hard to describe it right now.”

Berluti accounted for three touchdowns total (two passing, one rushing) and factored directly in 24 of the Wolverines’ 43 points. He ran for 166 yards on 29 carries, while throwing for 89 yards.

Of course, it wasn’t a one-man production. Roache was a wrecking ball in between the tackles, rushing for 160 yards on 30 carries with three touchdowns. He initiated contact and, oftentimes, was seen carrying a gang of would-be Panthers tacklers draped on his shoulders.

But there was something more to this victory, some kind of universal accord that, no matter what the situation, Westwood (3-1, 2-0 Tri-Valley League) simply was not to lose.

Holliston (4-1, 1-1) overcame a 15-0 deficit to earn its first lead early in the third quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Nick Athy. The Panthers proceeded to make it a two-possession game on Matthew Jeye’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Zach Elkinson (his second of three).

On the evening, Jeye completed 12 of 26 pass attempts for 270 yards.

But, not to be outdone, Berluti clawed the Wolverines closer with perhaps his biggest play of the night, ripping off a zig-zagging 53-yard touchdown run to make it 29-21 Holliston with 2:36 to play in the third.

Westwood tied the game in regulation on the heels of a 16-play, 67-yard drive, kick started on a Chris Eldridge fumble recovery. The drive culminated in Roache’s 1-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal with 21 seconds remaining.

Roache went on to score his third touchdown of the game in the opening overtime session, battling across the line from two yards out. However, Westwood’s 2-point conversion run by Berluti fell a yard short.

The Panthers promptly answered on Jeye’s 4-yard touchdown run, but let a chance to win the game slip through their fingers on a missed point-after try.

Holliston also scored on the next possession, with Jeye hitting Elkinson on a 10-yard pass. But again, a missed two-point try opened the door for the Wolverines.

The ensuing Westwood possession was an unmitigated disaster. The series unfolded with a holding penalty wiping out a certain Roache touchdown run, a run for a 3-yard loss followed by a 3-yard gain and a false start penalty.

That left Berluti staring down one last chance at the end zone from 25 yards away.

“We’d practiced that route all week,” Berluti said. “We knew that when we gave them that formation they had nobody in the middle of the field. So I looked at him, gave him the sign – usually, he gives me the sign. And I said, ‘Chris Hanley, I want this.’ And he made a great catch. My line gave me all the time in the world, so really it was the perfect storm.”

And that set the stage for Berluti’s two-point dash.

“The snap before, we went up there with no intention of snapping the ball, but we wanted to see what kind of look they were going to give us,” he added.

Then, Berluti found some open running space and, at long last, victory.

Missed chances: The Panthers have more than a few chances to salt away the victory at various stages of regulation and beyond.

After a potentially deflating last-minute score by the Wolverines, Holliston zoomed downfield on the final possession of regulation. Aided by a 50-yard connection from Jeye to Athy, the Panthers found themselves in field goal range with seconds remaining. However, Jeye’s 34-yard field goal attempt fell shy of the crossbar and the teams soldiered on to overtime.

The kicking game again cost Holliston in the first overtime period. After Jeye’s 4-yard scamper tied the score, 35-all, a botched point-after try kept the game alive.

After another Elkinson touchdown reception in double overtime, the Panthers’ 2-point conversion attempt (their only failed conversion of the game) fell short, setting the scene for Westwood’s final act.

“Our kids battled tonight,” Holliston head coach Todd Kiley said. “We’re a young team, we have four seniors. We played one of the most talented teams in the state, a senior-laden team, and we were down 15-0 – most teams would’ve folded.”

Player of the Game: Westwood's Bo Berluti

October, 5, 2013
10/05/13
2:30
AM ET
WESTWOOD, Mass. -- One more than one occasion during Westwood's 43-41 double-overtime win over Thanksgiving rival Holliston in our Game of the Week, the Wolverines were just about done.

And, on more than one of those occasions, Wolverines senior quarterback Bo Berluti saved the day.

Berluti ran for 166 yards on 29 carries with a touchdown while throwing for 89 yards and two touchdowns. He also accounted for three successful two-point conversion tries, including the game-winner in the second overtime session.

For his efforts, Berluti was named our Player of the Game, presented by Sports Authority and the Bay State Games.

(Produced by Greg Story)

Game of the Week: Holliston vs. No. 20 Westwood

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
12:28
PM ET
It's beginning to look a lot like Thanksgiving across the state, as traditional Turkey Day gridiron rivals are, in some locales, playing twice this year as a result of the MIAA's new football playoff system.

That doesn't diminish the rivalries, as we learned in this week's Game of the Week matchup with Tri-Valley League foes Holliston and Westwood renew their late November series with an equally important Week 5 duel, which will be critical to either team's postseason aspirations.

Scott Barboza and Brendan break down our Game of the Week matchup with a look from the Wolverines' Bo Berluti, Scott McManus and Dan Roach, as well as head coach Ed Mantie, in addition their weekly picks:

(Video produced by Greg Story)

Recap: No. 22 King Philip 7, Westwood 0

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
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WRENTHAM, Mass. – Senior tailback Joe Johnston rushed for 149 yards on 19 carries (106 yards in the second half) and in the fourth quarter provided the lone score of the game, as No. 22 King Philip held off a strong challenge from visiting Westwood to pick up a 7-0 win in its home opener.

It was a hard-hitting, grind-it-out game, which suited the Warriors and head coach Brian Lee just fine.

“I think we just talked a lot about perseverance,” said Lee. “We talked about trying to wear them down. When it was 0-0 at the half, it was right where we wanted to be… We knew were having trouble moving the ball and we just had to try and grit it out.”

Westwood (1-1), which scored 36 points in an exciting upset of preseason No. 21 Needham last week, struggled to get going offensively and head coach Ed Mantie gave some credit to the KP defense, but also felt that the problems were self-inflicted. The Wolverines had seven false start penalties, including four in its first two series, had two punts blocked (and another two that went a combined 13 yards), and an interception that led to the winning drive.

“One step forward and two steps back, that’s what it was all day long,” he remarked. “Our punting game was awful. Every time we would make a play and change the field position on them, we would pick up a penalty. Against a defense like that, if you get into first and long, it’s really, really hard.”

Owen Galvin made the big defensive play in the fourth quarter with an interception off of Westwood quarterback Bo Berluti at the Wolverines 39-yard line. Christian Flaherty (9 carries, 58 yards) had a pair of rushes, but a penalty made it second and 10 at the 25.

Sophomore quarterback Derek Roschlein, who had been replaced at halftime but had to come back in after an injury, hit Johnston for 28 yards to the Westwood 7. It was his only completion of the game (1-4, 18 yards). Johnston would cap the drive with a touchdown on the next play.

Lee was proud of Roschlein’s reaction to being pulled after halftime. He said, “That could kill a kid, which is why you don’t want to do it and then he comes back and does a great job for us. He has done a great job filling in some games.”

There was still 6:29 on the clock and Westwood would start the next possession on its own 43. After a first down, the Wolverines had a false start penalty, a fumbled snap that lost three yards, a negative rush, an incompletion, and were forced to punt. It encapsulated how the Westwood offense performed all game and, according to Mantie, it wasted a solid game from the defense.

“Our defense played great, certainly well enough to win,” said Mantie. “Our offense has to do better and our special teams need to step up and do what we need to do to win… If we hold a team like that to seven points, we need should be able to get two scores to win.”

KP (2-0) had one last possession to run out the clock with 3:39 left at its own 11-yard line and Johnston stepped up with the longest play from scrimmage. He raced 65 yards down the left sideline to ice the game for the Warriors, who got to the Westwood 1 before taking a knee and running out the clock.

Johnston was also a prominent player on the defensive side of the ball as the Warriors limited Berluti (13-17, 93 yards passing and 13 carries, 21 yards rushing) and the spread formation attack of the Wolverines. The Warriors had success despite an injury to senior linebacker Brett McEvoy that kept him out of the first few defensive possessions of the second half. Johnston was everywhere in the middle of the field and junior lineman John Marcinkevicius continually got into the Westwood backfield.

“They’re very similar types of players for us,” explained Lee about his two senior captains. “When one is down then the other one steps in and picks the other one up and we do that as a team as well.”

Despite the defeat, Mantie is hopeful that the two games against Division 2 competition would reap benefits when league play begins in two weeks. He noted, “We want to make this the last game that we lose. Iron sharpens iron, as they say, so we should be pretty sharp by now.”

Both teams have a bye next week. The following Friday, King Philip will travel to Taunton and Westwood goes to Medfield.

Five on the Rise from Turkey Day

November, 23, 2012
11/23/12
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Presenting to you five, players, groups, teams and scenes on the rise heading from Turkey Day into the postseason.

5. STIFLING DEFENSES
Perhaps no team impressed more on the defensive side of the ball than St. John’s Prep, which authoritatively stamped its postseason pass book with a 9-0 shutout against Xaverian. Of course, the Hawks were equally up to the task with a huge day from its four-man line of Joe Gaziano, Ray Gobbi, Mo Hurst, and Elijah Jolly.

Yet, the Eagles were also able to control the line of scrimmage coming off their blocks. Chris Newton, a lunch pail linebacker turned defensive tackle, might have had the game of his life with two sacks, including a strip-sack. Feeding off the double-teams generated by fellow tackle Corey Jean-Jacques, the duo were able to create an interior pass rush, and help bottle up the Hawks’ physical backfield of Hurst and Hunter Taute.

Still, the performance of the day belonged to the Newton North secondary. The Tigers terrorized Brookline for six interceptions in the 116th annual meeting between the Bay State Conference rivals. Newton North also returned two of the picks to the house, a difference-maker in a 21-0 defensive maelstrom. Junior defensive back Jack Boucher led the charge with three interceptions, including a pick-six.

4. THE BERLUTI HOUSEHOLD
In lifting Westwood to a 42-14 win over perennial Tri-Valley League Large favorite Holliston, the Wolverines punched a card to their first postseason date since their Super Bowl season of 2004.

Leading Westwood’s aerial attack was Alex Berluti. The senior completed 14 of 17 attempts for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Naturally, his top target was brother Bo Berluti. Bo finished the game with five catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.

"It’s nice throwing to him," Alex Berluti told correspondent Bruce Lerch on Thursday. "It’s fun. It was memorable. I’ll have that for the rest of my life."

3. PIONEERS AFOOT
In projecting the result of the penultimate CAL/NEC Tier 3 game between Lynnfield and North Reading earlier this week on our podcast, I talked about Pioneers quarterback Mike Karavestos and his ability to change the game with his arm. Turned out I was partially right, but I underestimated Karavestos’ running ability. The tough-nosed signal-caller’s 157 yards on the ground on 19 carries set the tone for Lynnfield and his rushing touchdown truly was the difference-maker in a tightly contested 14-7 win over the Hornets, propelling Lynnfield into the playoffs.

2. AUGGIE TO MICAH … AUGGIE TO MICAH …
We all know what Austin Roberts means to Brockton and its offense. When one of the state’s toughest pound-for-pound athletes is running the Boxers’ Georgia Tech-style option game, few teams can find an answer. But in Thursday’s win over Bridgewater-Raynham, another encouraging sign for Brockton’s postseason hopes emerged. While Roberts dropped back to pass just five times against a stingy Trojans’ defense, he managed to complete four of those passes for 90 yards – all of those completions went to game MVP – and one could argue – Boxers’ MVP Micah Morel. Morel also grabbed a touchdown pass against B-R. While the ground game will continue to be the Boxers’ key to success, if Roberts and Morel can continue to dial up big plays in the passing game through the playoffs, Brockton will be that much more difficult to dissect defensively.

1. A FEELING OF THANKS
While Upper Cape Tech has plenty to be thankful for, what with securing the program’s first-ever playoff berth with a 42-18 win over Cape Cod Tech. However, if Holbrook/Avon beat West Bridgewater on Thanksgiving, the Rams would’ve had to sweat out a coin flip in a three-way tie-breaker procedure to determine who would represent the Mayflower Small in Saturday’s Super Bowl against Dorchester.

Thankfully, it didn’t come to that as West Bridgewater beat H/A, alleviating any potential agony.

As a token of thanks, we wonder if Rams coach Mike Hernon picked up anything on Black Friday as a thank you gift to the Wildcats?

Recap: Westwood 42, Holliston 14

November, 22, 2012
11/22/12
9:15
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WESTWOOD, Mass. -- In the final minute of the second quarter of their annual Thanksgiving clash with Holliston, Westwood found itself facing a fourth-and-nine situation at the Panthers 14-yard line.

The Wolverines held a 14-7 lead at the time but the stakes in this game were pretty high. The winner would clinch the Tri-Valley League Large title and the playoff spot that goes with it. The loser would be handing in uniforms and equipment the next morning.

Westwood coach Ed Mantie had to weigh his options carefully. He could opt for a field goal try, not always a sure thing in high school football. He could give the ball safely to one of his two sure-handed running backs, Daniel Roache or Brandon Rodenbush, with the hope that one of them might break through the line, or let dynamic Alex Berluti just keep it himself. Even if the Wolverines didn't produce anything, the Panthers would be pinned deep with minimal time to mount a drive.

Mantie decided throw caution to the wind and go for the jugular. Setting up in the shotgun, Berluti took the snap and faked a handoff to Roache. Holliston nose tackle Jake McLinden blew past the center and took a dive at Berluti's legs, forcing the quarterback to dance to the outside. Berluti took a couple of steps, set his feet and lofted a pass toward the back of the end zone where Pierce Dierker had gotten behind the Panthers safety and hauled down the pass for the touchdown.

The ensuing extra point gave Westwood a 21-7 lead with 31 seconds left in the half, but served as a microcosm for an aggressive nature borne out of a team's belief in itself.

"If you’re getting your kids to believe we’re the better team then once you have your hands around the throat you have to squeeze a little bit and that's what we tried to do," Mantie explained. "We were able to control the clock a bit at the end of the first half, get down into a position where we could take some chances. It got down to fourth down but we made it - that's the play of the game right there to push it up to 21-7 at the half."

The Wolverines inspired play continued in what was the most complete effort they put together all season en route to a 42-14 rout of Holliston (7-4) at Flahive Field. Now, Westwood (8-3) will make its first postseason appearance since winning the 2004 Super Bowl when they take on Wayland Tuesday.

"We haven’t won since 2004 so to bring home the league is really great," Berluti said. "The team played really well, everyone did what they had to do. We worked hard for two weeks. We prepped hard and it was a good win today."

FAMILY AFFAIR ON THANKSGIVING
The Berluti brothers - Alex, the quarterback, and Bo, the receiver - displayed a terrific connection on this day. Alex finished with 14 completions in 17 attempts for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Bo was his main target with five catches for 107 yards and the go-ahead score at the start of the second quarter.

Westwood had scored first, courtesy of a five-yard run by Rodenbush, but Holliston came right back to tie it up when TVL MVP Max Athy broke through the middle of the defense for a 26-yard scoring jaunt. The Wolverines proceeded to march from its own 24 down to the Panthers nine, where Alex drilled Bo on a perfect slant pattern to take a 14-7 lead.

"It’s nice throwing to him," Alex said. "It’s fun. It was memorable. I’ll have that for the rest of my life."

UP-TEMPO PACE MEANS SOMEONE HAS TO MAKE A STOP
Both teams favored the up-tempo, no-huddle offensive style that is en vogue across the nation. Holliston runs its plays so fast that the sideline chain gang had to hustle to keep up after each gain. Berluti proved equally adept at running the fast-paced spread, primarily utilizing his brother and Dierker, who finished with 72 yards and two scores on four catches.

What helped Westwood stand apart on this day was its ability to run the ball and get key stops on defense early on. Roache lugged the rock 25 times for 141 yards and a touchdown, while Rodenbush ran in a pair of scores.

Defensively, the Wolverines really only allowed a handful of the big plays that had helped Holliston win the last two TVL titles and a Super Bowl a season ago. Holliston scored on Athy's 26-yard run, then added an 85-yard TD pass from Matt Jeye to Zach Elkinson, but stalled twice in the red zone in the final frame.

"We just completely shut them down," said Rodenbush, who had an interception - as did Roache. "They came in here thinking they could run WAR all over us and we shut it down so they tried to pass and we shut that down. They couldn’t do anything. This was the most confident game we've played since I've been here."

Added Mantie, "We gave up two big plays and those were their two scores. Snap after snap after snap they just kept battling. I think we controlled the line of scrimmage pretty well, I think we tackled pretty well for the most part, which is huge because Athy is such a dynamic kid. In the end, it came down to us being able to cover their guys because they were trying to throw the ball. We gave up a little bit at the end there but certainly made the plays when we had to.("



WESTWOOD 42, HOLLISTON 14

HOLLISTON (7-4) 7 0 7 0 - 14
WESTWOOD (8-3) 7 14 14 7 - 42

WW - Brandon Rodenbush 5 run (Connor Cote kick)
HO - Max Athy 26 run (Grant Slattery kick)
WW - Bo Berluti 9 pass from Alex Berluti (Cote kick)
WW - Pierce Dierker 14 pass from Alex Berluti (Cote kick)
WW - Rodenbush 3 run (kick failed)
HO - Zach Elkinson 85 pass from Matt Jeye (Slattery kick)
WW - Daniel Roache 1 run (Alex Berluti rush)
WW - Dierker 30 pass from Alex Berluti (Cote kick)

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