Boston High School: Brendan Battles

ESPN Boston MIAA football All-State team

December, 6, 2011
QB – Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr., Everett
Statistically the state’s best all-time quarterback, the ESPN Boston Mr. Football recipient finishes his storied career in Everett as the state’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (103) and passing yards (7,052). This season he broke his own state single-season record for TD passes (44), and threw for over 2,800 yards. In the last two seasons alone, both perfect Super Bowl-winning campaigns, he threw for 87 touchdown passes to better the previous state all-time mark of 85. DiBiaso is undecided on college plans.

QB – Matt O’Keefe, Sr., Duxbury
In his first season as the full-time starter under center, the Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit was a finalist for ESPN Boston’s Mr. Football award. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder totaled nearly 3,000 yards from scrimmage, throwing for 2,321 yards, rushing for another 670, and totaling 39 scores. O’Keefe, a defender for the defending Division 1 state champion Dragons, is currently ranked as the No. 32 overall lacrosse player in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU.

QB – Matt Montalto, Sr., Dennis-Yarmouth
The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder led the Dolphins to their best season in school history, finishing a perfect 13-0 campaign by winning the Division 2A Super Bowl title – their first championship of any kind in the Super Bowl era. For the season he completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,065 yards and 25 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also carried 134 times for 1,219 yards and 16 more scores. Montalto is fielding various college interest, including, New Hampshire, Albany, Colgate, Brown, Sacred Heart and Bentley.

QB – Michael Walsh, Sr., Swampscott
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was a force on both sides of the ball for the 9-2 Big Blue, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,129 yards and 25 touchdowns to go along with 930 rushing yards and 13 more scores. Defensively, he totaled 47 tackles from the free safety position, forcing three fumbles and making two interceptions. Walsh will continue his career next fall at Brown as a safety.

RB – Melquawn Pinkney, Sr., Springfield Putnam
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Mr. Football finalist ended his career with the Beavers in record-breaking fashion. With 341 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 48-6 win over Commerce for the Division 2 Super Bowl title, Pinkney broek Cedric Washington’s 15-year-old state all-time record for single-season yardage (2,889), and set the new state single-season mark for rushing touchdowns (43). Earlier in the season, Pinkney set a Western Mass single-game record with 421 rushing yards in a win over Agawam. For the season, he averaged 8.4 yards a carry. Pinkney is currently undecided on college plans.

RB – Sacoy Malone, Sr., Springfield Central
Both Malone and his cross-town foil Pinkney eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark on the season, as the Eagles returned to the Western Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl for the second straight year. On the season, Malone had 257 carries for 2,001 yards and 22 touchdowns; since the start of the 2010 season, he’s accumulated over 3,200 yards and 35 touchdowns. The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Malone is currently fielding interest from several Division 1 FCS schools.

RB – George Craan, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
Craan, the reigning Dual County League MVP, was the catalyst for the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl-winning season. He followed up a 1,900-yard junior season with just as explosive numbers in 2011, carrying 220 times for 1,761 yards and 24 touchdowns, as the Patriots went 13-0. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Craan is currently undecided on college plans.

RB – Charles Ruffin, Sr., King Philip
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder is the second Warrior in four seasons to capture Hockomock League Offensive Player of the Year honors. On the season he amassed over 1,300 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and led the Warriors to their first postseason berth of the Super Bowl era. Ruffin, who also stars in lacrosse and track and field, is currently fielding interest from several Division 1 schools.

TE – Mark Riley, Sr., Needham
One of several All-Staters previously known most for their lacrosse exploits, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was a force to be reckoned with for the 9-4 Rockets. Utilized as both a receiver and tight end, Riley caught 72 balls for 1,266 yards and a school record 15 touchdowns. He is currently undecided on college plans, but fielding Division 1 interest in lacrosse.

TE – Jameson McShea, Sr., BC High
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Temple commit didn’t put up eye-opening numbers in the passing game, but his support in the running game was without peer as he helped paved the way for both Preston Cooper and Deontae Ramey-Doe. As a defensive end, he recorded 68 tackles (12 for loss) and was named the Catholic Conference’s Lineman of the Year.

WR – Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr., Weymouth
One of the state’s best deep-ball threats, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder tallied 936 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns for the 9-2 Wildcats this fall. Since the start of his junior season, Bailey-Smith has caught over 2,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. He is also a state champion in track and field, having cleared 6-foot-10 in the high jump. Bailey-Smith is fielding interest from Division 1 schools.

WR – Gordon McLeod, Sr., BC High
One of the most versatile threats on the Eagles’ Division 1 Super Bowl champion squad, McLeod was one of the leading receivers in Eastern Mass., with 755 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns as they captured their second title in four seasons.

WR – Don Webber, Sr., Duxbury
Considered one of the state’s best route-runners, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was the 13-0 Dragons’ most dangerous weapon in space. Webber led the team with 52 receptions for 776 yards and 11 touchdowns, as the Dragons won a second consecutive Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium and extended the state’s longest winning streak to 26 games. Webber is leaning towards the Ivy League for college plans.

WR – Malcolm Brown, Sr., Pope John XXIII
Statistically, the 6-foot-1 Brown graduates from the Everett campus as one of the state’s most decorated receivers of all-time. This fall he caught 71 passes to set school records of 1,306 yards and 20 touchdowns, both tops in the state. He also racked up 918 return yards and three touchdowns, ran for 328 yards, and threw for another 267. Defensively, he recorded 65 tackles (10 for loss) and three interceptions, including a pick-six. For his career, he has 192 receptions for 3,447 yards and 44 touchdowns, and 56 total scores. Brown currently has interest from schools in the Northeast-10 and MEAC conferences.

OL – Andrew VanderWilden, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
At 6-foot and 245 pounds, VanderWilden was arguably one of the most efficient pound-for-pound centers in the state. He led a Patriots rushing attack that racked up 53 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards the ground, part of one of the state’s highest scoring averages (35.4). VanderWilden, a two-time Dual County League Lineman of the Year, will continue his career at Brown next fall.

OL – Keith Sullivan, Sr., Oliver Ames
The 6-foot-9, 300-pounder was arguably the most crucial two-way player for the Tigers’ historic run, winning their first Hockomock title since 1964 and qualifying for their first championship game of the Super Bowl era. Sullivan is currently undecided on college plans, but fielding Division 1 interest.

OL – John Montelus, Jr., Everett
DiBiaso’s blind side is quickly rising as one of New England’s top Class of 2013 prospects. The last two seasons the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has allowed DiBiaso to throw 87 touchdown passes and keep his jersey clean. Montelus received four offers before his 16th birthday this fall, and counts UConn, Syracuse, NC State, Virginia and Boston College.

OL – Gordon Acha, Sr., Duxbury
Acha, the Dragons’ left tackle, was named ESPN Boston’s inaugural Lineman of the Year this week after helping pave the way to a second straight 13-0 season. The Dragons averaged 302 yards of offense and had 36 touchdown passes. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Acha is currently fielding interest from Division 1 schools, including Boston College and Maryland.

OL – Rob Kosharek, Jr., Duxbury
Together with Acha, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Kosharek created one of the state’s best tandems on the left side of the 13-0 Dragons’ line. Behind Kosharek at left guard, the Dragons won their second straight Division 2 Super Bowl title and rang their winning streak up to a state-best 26 games.

ATH – Geeavontie Griffith, Sr., Boston Cathedral
The 12-1 Panthers experienced one of the state’s most dramatic turnarounds under first-year head coach Duane Sigsbury, and leading the charges was Griffith. The 5-foot-7, 175-pound Randolph native carried 152 times for 2,244 yards and 29 touchdowns, as the Panthers advanced to the Division 4A Super Bowl. He is currently undecided on college plans.

ATH – Armani Reeves, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Don’t let the Mr. Football finalist’s limited touches fool you. Reeves, a Penn State commit and the state’s No. 1 overall prospect, was electric practically every time he touched the ball. He ran for 1,001 yards on just 46 touches, caught another 205, and returned a punt for a touchdown to total 15 scores for the 7-2 Knights. That averages out to almost a touchdown every three touches.

K – Jules Murphy, Sr., Xaverian
Murphy has been known to regularly hit from 40 yards and further, and while he didn’t have many opportunities this season, he was a near-perfect 27-of-28 on extra points. Murphy is undecided on college plans.

DL – Ralph Jonathas, Sr., Everett

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was a mainstay of the Crimson Tide's back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams and a defense that allowed just over 12 points per game this season. Jonathas has received interest from multiple Division 1 programs, but is undecided on college plans.

DL – Brendan Battles, Sr., Nauset
At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, the UConn commit was one of the most feared defensive presences in the state. But the bruising lineman also did double time, serving as the play-caller in Nauset's single wing offense, paving the way as the lead blocker out of the backfield. Battles also won the Division 1 and All-State wrestling crowns in the 215-pound divsion, advancing to the New England finals.

DL – Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr., Xaverian
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle was a physical presence in the middle of the Hawks defense. Hurst finished the season with 61 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Hurst also showed off his athleticism in one of the more improbable performances of the season, rushing for over 200 yards in the Hawks' win over St. John's of Shrewsbury, including an awe-inspiring 75-yard touchdown run.

DL – Henry Bumpus, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
The 6-foot-6, 218-pound defensive end was one of the more imposing physical presences in the state, as well as an important part of C-C's rushing attack at tight end. The senior captain helped to guide the Patriots to a Division 3 Super Bowl championship. A feared rusher off the edge, Bumpus finished with 9.5 sacks and 66 tackles. He also nabbed four interceptions on the season. Bumpus will attend Brown University next year.

LB – Tim Joy, Sr., Chelmsford
The Boston College-bound 'backer was the heart and soul of the Lions defense, leading the team with 155 tackles, including eight for a loss and three sacks. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder also had an interception in addition to three passes defensed. Joy was also a steady contributor to Chelmsford's offense, as a punishing lead blocker at full back in front of running back Eddie Sheridan.

LB – Luke Catarius, Jr., BC High
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder lead the Eagles in tackles, despite playing 10 regular season games with 129 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss. Catarius was also a mainstay of BC High's offense, providing lead blocks at fullback in front of Preston Cooper and Deontae Ramey-Doe for the Division 1 Super Bowl champions.

LB – Vondell Langston, Sr., Everett
The Crimson Tide senior captain was an integral part of Everett's offensive and defensive units in each of their back-to-back Super Bowl championship seasons. As a linebacker, Langston was tough against the ran and a threat to drop back in coverage, coming away with three interceptions on the season. Langston tallied 15 touchdowns on the season at running back. He is undecided on his college choice.

LB – Cam Williams, Sr., Catholic Memorial
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker was named one of 50 national finalists for the high school Butkus Award, honoring the nation's top linebacker. The Penn State commit totaled 119 tackles (81 solo), including 18 tackles for loss. Wiliams was also effective in pass defense with an interception and seven passes defensed.

LB – Nick Schlatz, Sr., Bridgewater-Raynham
The Trojans' senior captain was part of a dynamic 1-2 punch at running back along with Brandon Morin, totaling nine touchdowns. Schlatz was the fulcrum of Bridgewater-Raynham's defense, which allowed just under 14 points per game this season.

LB – Dan Flink, Sr., Auburn
Flink was the heart of the Rockets' defense, which surrendered just over 10 points per game this season. He totaled 141 tackles, including 27 tackles for loss, along with seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and eight sacks. Flink played running back with the same mentality he brought to his play at linebacker with 1,393 yards and 27 touchdowns in his senior season. The three-year starter was part of four Super Bowl championship teams at Auburn and is looking to study at Mass Maritime Academy next year.

DB – James Burke, Sr., Duxbury
The senior captain was a stalwart in the Dragons' defense in their back-to-back Super Bowl titles. The 6-foot, 165-pounder formed a vicious safety duo along with Reilly Naton and led the secondary with 76 total tackles (50 solo) and had three interceptions with nine passes defensed. Also a standout on Duxbury's state-title winning lacrosse team, Burke has signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Penn State.

DB – Quinton Perkins, Sr., Fitchburg
The 6-foot, 170-pound wideout and safety was one of the most dynamic talents in the state, nevermind Central Mass. Perkins, who holds offers from UConn and UMass-Amherst, tallied 35 tackles and two interceptions on defense. He racked up 20 total touchdowns with 10 rushing, nine passing and a kickoff return. Perkins also racked up over 1,300 all-purpose offensive yards. He also racked up 200 all-purpose offensive yards and three touchdowns in the Red Raiders' playoff loss to Leominster.

DB – Casey DeAndrade, Sr., East Bridgewater
The University of New Hampshire commit was one of the most electrifying offensive talents in the state this year, but also played lock-down corner for the Vikings. DeAndrade tallied one interception in his senior season to push his career total to 11, a testament to opponents' weariness in throwing in his direction. The multi-talented athlete tallied 22 touchdowns with nearly 1,400 all-purpose offensive yards.

DB – Obi Melifonwu, Sr., Grafton
The UConn commit was a big-play threat on both sides of the football for Grafton, leading the Indians with three interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder also ran for nearly 1,400 yards in a shortened season along with 17 touchdowns.

RET – Chucky Ortiz, Sr. Woburn
Ortiz was a jack of all trades while taking MVP honors of the Middlesex League Large division. In racking up 24 touchdowns, Ortiz tallied two pick-sixes, and a pair punt returns and kick returns for scores. Ortiz had six interceptions on defense while finishing a shade under 1,200 rushing yards. He also handled place kicking duties for the Tanners, connecting on 15 PATs and one field goal.

Best of the Rest
A.J. Baker, Sr. WR, Swampscott
Dan Barone, Sr. QB, Holliston
Vincent Burton, Sr. RB, Blue Hills
Kenny Calaj, Jr. WR, Everett
Andrew Coke, Sr. RB, Andover
Preston Cooper, Sr. RB, BC High
A.J. Doyle, Sr. QB, Catholic Memorial
Brian Dunlap, Fr. WR, Natick
Aaron Dyke, Jr. OL, Auburn
Andrew Ellis, Jr. LB, Barnstable
Joe Epps, Sr. RB, Bourne
Theo France, Sr. RB, Barnstable
Brett Harrington, Sr. DL, Chelmsford
Jack Harris, Sr. TE, Lincoln-Sudbury
Greg Heineman, Sr. QB, Minnechaug
Damion Johnson, Sr. WR, Dennis-Yarmouth
Jordan Keli'inui, Sr. RB, Mashpee
Thomas Kleyn, Sr. LB, Concord-Carlisle
Zack Hume, Jr. LB, Nashoba
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica
Cam McLevedge, Sr. QB, Weymouth
Reilly Naton, Sr. S, Duxbury
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow
Mike Prendeville, Sr. OG, BC High
Will Quigley, Sr. RB, Marblehead
Deontae Ramey-Doe, Sr. RB, BC High
Max Randall, Sr. LB, Duxbury
Zack Schafer, Sr. LB, Mansfield
Eddie Sheridan, Sr. RB, Chelmsford
Jarod Taylor, Jr. RB, Mashpee
Shawn Whouley, Sr. WR, Weymouth

Recap: No. 7 Dennis-Yarmouth 27, Nauset 15

November, 24, 2011

SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. -- Late in the fourth quarter of what was turning into a big win for his Dennis-Yarmouth squad, quarterback Matt Montalto dove for a first down in the Nauset red zone, and the sub 6-footer engaged in a short shoving match with the Warriors' UConn-bound linebacker, 240-pound senior Brendan Battles.

A few plays later, Dylan Hodsdon put the finishing touches on the scoring drive, and the game was in hand. Montalto was then asked post-game about the "Game Over" message written on his eye black strips, and he merely offered a sheepish grin as he motioned towards the scoreboard.

It's that kind of spunk that's embodied this team -- undersized, yet tough and unafraid to confront -- and has led the Dolphins to this, a 27-15 win over their Thanksgiving rivals that wrapped up a perfect 11-0 regular season, their second straight outright Atlantic Coast League title, and their second straight Division 2A playoff berth (and second ever).

This also marked the first time in the rivalry that the league title was directly on the line. But in a snap, Montalto was already moving on to Tuesday night's playoff game with the No. 18 Walpole Rebels.

"It was definitely a little bit different of a feeling than it usually is on Thanksgiving," Montalto said. "It feels great to win, awesome to win, I always love winning on Thanksgiving. But like coach [Paul Funk] said, our season starts on Tuesday now. It's do or die."

Montalto carried the day with another Montalto-like performance, carrying the ball 11 times for 101 yards and throwing for another 50 through the air, including 42 and a score to his favorite target Damion Johnson.

D-Y (11-0, 6-0) found success early through the air on familiar patterns, with Johnson sitting on 10 and 15-yard comeback routes against zone coverage. They marched right down the field to open the game, capping a 10-play, 64-yard drive with a 13-yard goal line fade from Montalto to Johnson at the back pylon for a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.

The Warriors responded soundly on the ensuing drive, marching all the way to the Dolphins' 11 with rushes from brothers Derrick (22 carries, 86 yards, TD) and Nathan Holmes (18 carries, 81 yards, TD). But on fourth down, Mike Messersmith's field goal attempt fell way short and was scooped up by Johnson at the goal line; he juked a half-dozen defenders in between the hashes for a 60-yard return that set up first and 10 at the Warriors' 42.

It took just five plays to capitalize, with Montalto setting up a one-yard Joe Furness plunge with a nifty scamper around the right side. On a designed bootleg left, Montalto ran into some pressure from Battles and reversed direction, turning a two-yard loss into a 34-yard run that was ruled down at the one as he attempted to dive over the pylon. Terrio's kick gave the Dolphins a 14-0 lead with just nine minutes player in the game.

Johnson also added a 50-yard kickoff return and 37 rushing yards, giving him over 200 all-purpose yards for the day.

The Dolphins scored twice more in the second half, and put the clamps down defensively behind linebacker Hunter Oppedisano (two sacks) and nose guard Tommy Kennedy. Until the Warriors' final scoring drive with under five minutes in the game, the Warriors had been held to just 26 yards of offense in the second half.

The Drive: The backbreaker for this one came in the third quarter, when the Dolphins put together an 11-play six-minute, 99-yard scoring drive after a beautiful Nauset punt pinned them at their own half-yard line.

Furness capped the drive with an 18-yard scamper around the left, but it was a series of jet sweeps that opened things up on the drive. First, Hodsdon came around the right from his own 14 and carved up 18 yards. Two plays later, Funk sent Rufus Hamilton in motion to the left, and he sprinted up the left sideline for a 28-yard gain. Two plays after that, they went to the left side again, this time with Quan Lovett, to set up another first down.

"We knew we could get the perimeter," Funk said. "We knew we were faster than they were, and we knew we could get the perimeter. That was the game plan for the second half."

Oppedisano finishes 'em off: If the Dolphins' 99-yard drive swung momentum, then Oppedisano drove the stake into the ground on the ensuing Nauset possession. Five plays into the drive, on first and 10 from the Dolphins' 39, Derrick Holmes took a direct snap for a sweep left, but Oppedisano slipped through the B-gap and took him down for a six-yard loss. The next play, Oppedisano sacked Nathan Holmes for a 10-yard loss, setting up third and 26 from the Nauset 45 when play resumed for the fourth quarter.

Two consecutive false starts then gave Nauset a surreal third and 36 from its own 35, and they punted a play later.

"They just looked away from me, and I took advantage of it, and caught them blindside," Oppedisano said bluntly.

Said Funk, "Hunter's a really good player. He works really hard, he's done some really good things, and he's tough. He's physical. They brought their game in the second half."

Singled out: Keith Kenyon's rebuilding job at Nauset included the installation of the Single-Wing offense, a scheme popular in the first half of the 20th century that has since fallen out of favor as the passing game has evolved. Elements and principles of the scheme still exist in offenses such as the ones run by Urban Meyer and Rich Rodriguez; but Kenyon's scheme is the formation at its roots.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Battles lined up as an off-set fullback behind one of the guards, brought the play from the sideline into the huddle, and called the cadence. Both Holmes brothers lined up in various places in the backfield, ready for a direct snap or a handoff from Battles or their brother, sometimes accompanied by a flanker.

With tight splits, unbalanced lines, and an intimidating lead blocker in Battles -- a state wrestling champion who sometimes left his feet to take down the first player up the gap -- it's a tough offense to stop once it gets going. But a month earlier, the Dolphins shut down Marshfield by deploying a Buddy Ryan-esque 50 Eagle front against the Rams' run-heavy Wing-T offense, and that appeared to help them out this morning.

"Definitely, [but] you've just got to be physical up front," Oppedisano said. "You've got to take on the block by Battles and you've got to work hard."

Funk thought it came down to getting to the point of attack.

"That's what we talked about at halftime -- we've got to get off the ball," Funk said. "And we absolutely did in the second half."

Scouting the Rebels: D-Y quarterbacks coach Nick Montalto, older brother of Matt, was spotted in the stands at the Walpole-Natick game two weeks ago. Asked what his brother told him about Walpole, Matt offered up a Belichickian response.

"What he told me is they're tough," Matt said. "Playoffs are always going to be tough, though. We're looking forward to it."

Turkey Day Honors: For Dennis-Yarmouth, Hodsdon (72 rushing yards) took home Offensive Player of the Game honors, while Oppedisano took home the Defensive Player of the Game award. Nauset's Nathan and Derrick Holmes took the team's offensive and defensive awards, respectively.

NAU (7-4, 5-1) 0 - 7 - 0 - 8 --- 15
D-Y (11-0, 6-0) 14 - 0 - 7 - 6 --- 27

First Quarter
D - Damion Johnson 13 pass from Matt Montalto (John Terrio kick) 6:23
D - Joe Furness 1 run (Terrio kick) 1:08

Second Quarter
N - Derrick Holmes 1 run (Mike Messersmith kick) 3:36

Third Quarter
D - Furness 18 run (Terrio kick) 2:35

Fourth Quarter
D - Dylan Hodsdon 5 run (kick failed) 5:41
N - Nathan Holmes 11 run (D. Holmes run) 0:04

ESPN Boston Week 8 podcast

October, 27, 2011
The Week 8 edition of the ESPN Boston High Schools podcast has been posted.

In this edition, Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall take a look into how the injury to BC High running back Preston Cooper could change the complexion of the Catholic Conference race and give their picks for this weekend's action.

Also, Brendan catches up with Nauset Regional's Brendan Battles and his amazing story of how he came to be recruited by UConn.