Boston High School: Cambridge

Our 2014 Summer Football Primer

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
11:52
AM ET
Don't look now, but the first day of MIAA football practices is just 40 days away. Per our tradition every summer, ESPN Boston High Schools editors Brendan C. Hall and Scott Barboza whet your appetite for the gridiron with some players on the rise, surprise teams to watch, top teams and some food for thought.

Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


FIVE PLAYERS ON THE RISE

Drew Jean-Guillaume, Sr. QB/DB, Shepherd Hill
With a powerful frame and impressive speed honed during track and field season, Jean-Guillaume is a throwback-type option quarterback, a converted running back who’s as adept at powering through defenders as he is at evading or blowing by them. The Rams will be heavy favorites in Division 4, and Jean-Guillaume will have plenty of room to work behind a reportedly heavy line led by Boston College commit Chris Lindstrom.

Mekhi Henderson, Soph. DB, Xaverian
In a defense full of household names, Henderson is one of the Hawks’ brightest young stars. Often last season, he was left on an island against an opponent’s top target, and often he held his own. With his coverage skills and raw ability, the coaching staff has a luxury to get creative in the secondary.

Shane Combs, Sr. ATH, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
It’s assumed that Combs, a Notre Dame baseball commit and ESPN Boston All-State selection during the spring, will take the reins at quarterback from last year’s Mr. Football finalist Drew Smiley. The Missouri transplant was one of the state’s most productive rushers during the playoffs, going over the century mark in all five postseason contests as the Pioneers reached the Division 2 state final.

Mike Maggipinto, Jr. RB, East Longmeadow
Somewhat quietly, the 5-foot-5 scatback eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark last year for the Spartans, running behind a great blocking scheme that continued to find unique ways to get him in space. Between Maggipinto and Plymouth North’s Christian Carr, this could be the year of the pint-sized running back.

Jahkari Carpenter, Sr. RB, Doherty
Among the area’s most elusive, Carpenter was a weekly highlight reel during the Highlanders’ run to the Division 4 state title, with runs like THIS, or THIS, or THIS. Junior Tavian Vassar is expected to have a bigger role in the backfield this year, which could make for an imposing thunder-and-lightning combination.

FIVE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Billerica
The Indians hit a home run this offseason with the hiring of Duane Sigsbury as their new head coach, though they are considered a year or two away. Still, Sigsbury is one of the area’s brightest offensive minds, with a track record of making programs relevant in a hurry (see: Boston Cathedral). Similar to his other stops, there are already some terrific talents coming up the pipe.

Boston English
The Blue and Blue made history last fall to end Brian Vaughn’s first season at the helm, beating Boston Latin for the first time since 1997. Now, with dynamic dual threat Emmanuel Almonte leading the offense, they’ll look to continue last year’s momentum.

Cambridge
Long considered a powder keg for skill talent, head coach Ryan Saulnier has tapped into it, and found a lot of success running his brand of spread offense in his first season last fall. With Marcus Collins returning under center, and a new home in the Dual County League, the Falcons ought to be one of the most entertaining teams to watch in Division 2 North.

Leominster
Blue Devils graduated one of their most talented classes ever, but this is a program built to reload, not rebuild, under a great offensive mind in Dave Palazzi. Defensive coordinator Charlie Raff left to take over at Oakmont, but in his place comes former North Middlesex coach John Margarita. It’s too early – not to mention, lofty – to make any Neil O’Connor comparisons yet, but keep an eye on sophomore Noah Gray this fall.

Springfield Central
Similar to Leominster, the Golden Eagles have many holes to fill on the heels of its most successful season in school history. But they should have a solid defense again, led by lineman Kaleb Hunter-Sams, and the coaching staff should get a boost from the addition of former Putnam head coach Bill Watson.

Hall's Preseason Top 10:

[+] EnlargeJoe Gaziano
Brendan Hall/ESPNESPN Boston's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Northwestern commit Joe Gaziano, leads a stacked Xaverian defense.
1. Xaverian
Little drama here as to who’s the top dog. With a star-studded defense that includes the likes of Northwestern commit Joe Gaziano, ESPN Boston’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2013; linebackers Noah Sorrento, Kenny Kern and D’Aundre Holmes; and defensive backs Damion Wood and Mekhi Henderson; as well as a potent running game behind UMass-bound tackle Joe Parsons, and an innovative playmaker in quarterback Jake Farrell; the Hawks figure to start the year No. 1 in many polls.

2. Everett
Crimson Tide are licking their chops after a disappointing end to 2013 season, and as usual they reload with some of the most gifted skill players in the area. The interesting question is how they’ll fit Boston College-bound cornerback Lukas Denis into the offense; originally slotted as the successor to Jonathan DiBiaso at quarterback before injuries derailed his sophomore season in 2012, Denis showed flashes of brilliance in a multitude of positions last year.

3. Central Catholic
The Raiders’ featured one of the state’s best defenses a year ago in their D1 state title run, and they’ll be held in high regard again thanks to linebacker Markus Edmunds and safety Mike Balsamo, who is fielding multiple Division 1 FCS offers at the moment. Also keep an eye on Matt Milano, who was statistically one of the state’s most productive quarterbacks in the playoffs last year.

4. Mansfield
The Hornets dramatically altered their offense on the fly late in the season following a season-ending injury to wideout Brendan Hill, and it worked out as they took the D2 state title. A fully healthy Hill and another year of running back Miguel Villar-Perez, one of last fall’s most pleasant revelations, should make the Hornets the favorite in a tough D2 South.

5. Bridgewater-Raynham
Trojans always get the benefit of the doubt for their powerful running game and their “anyone, anywhere, anytime” approach to scheduling, and they’ll be a force again with Brandon Gallagher returning at tailback. But the question is whether the Trojans can sustain momentum and avoid last year’s fate, when they reached No. 1 in our statewide poll early, only to sputter in the second half.

6. Shepherd Hill
In short, Boston College-bound offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom Jr. is a force. But the fact that he is the Rams’ most dominant, yet possibly their lightest, should tell you something about what to expect in 2014. They’re arguably Central Mass.’s most talented team this fall, and while there’s a couple other heavy hitters contending in D4 – Holliston, Dennis-Yarmouth and Wahconah, for starters – these guys are my odds-on favorite. Look for them to put up a ton of rushing yards in head coach Chris Lindstrom Sr.’s double wing scheme.

7. Lowell
The Red Raiders made one of the biggest statements of the playoffs last fall in blanking St. John’s Prep 41-0 in the first round of the D1 North tournament. Syracuse commit Shyheim Cullen was exceptional at interior gap blitzes, baiting and confusing potential blockers to create chaos up the middle, and he’ll lead a talented defense that includes linebacker Nicolau Coury and defensive back Theo Bryant.

8. St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Boston College-bound free safety Davon Jones is one of several early candidates for Defensive Player of the Year after recording 125 tackles and eight picks a year ago. Offensive coordinator Chris Moriarty is as creative as they come, and how he utilizes Jones and athlete Shane Combs in the offense will be one of the more interesting storylines of the season’s earlygoings.

9. Brockton
We’re still in wait-and-see mode after another season of unrealized expectations in Brockton, but it’s hard to deny the talent the Boxers have coming back. Keep an eye on Boston College-bound lineman Aaron Monteiro, who has some raw potential and a powerful frame at 6-foot-6 and nearly 300 pounds.

10. Dennis-Yarmouth
Division 1 recruit Michael Dunn lined up at nearly every offensive position last year for the Dolphins in their run to the D4 state final, and he may very well do it again. Defensively, this kid is a treat, regarded as one of the state’s premier shutdown corners. As usual, Paul Funk’s frenetic read option scheme will be a tall task to keep up with.

Others to Watch: Attleboro, Barnstable, BC High, Doherty, Holliston, Marblehead, Oliver Ames, Plymouth North, Pope John Paul II, St. John’s Prep, St. Peter-Marian, Tewksbury, Wahconah, Walpole

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

1. Spread offense has been the growing trend in Massachusetts over the last decade, and we’re now seeing its influence at all levels of the game. But at the other end of the spectrum, we’re seeing more and more teams dip into playbooks from decades and decades ago for some wild success in the running game. We’ve romanticized Nauset’s Single Wing offense for years. At Holy Name, Mike Pucko dug into Dutch Meyer’s World War II-era playbook and installed a fullback-less “Triple Wing” offense for the Naps’ Thanksgiving contest with Milford, a game they won 35-14. Last year’s D5 West Final featured a Pistol Flex Bone (Hoosac Valley) versus a Wishbone (Easthampton). Tewksbury, last year’s D3 state champ, calls running plays out of an encyclopedia of formations from every family of offense. Factor in all of the traditional Double Wing success stories like Shepherd Hill, Holy Name and Somerset-Berkley, too. Running offense continues to diversify in this corner of the country, and if you’re an X’s and O’s junkie like me, you are having a blast watching it.

2. LSU took some negative backlash last fall when they received a verbal commitment from a freshman early in his season after an apparently intense summer of recruitment from a number of SEC schools, but this doesn’t appear to be a trend going away any time soon. Early offers are still fairly uncommon for football prospects in this part of the country, though it’s worth noting St. Sebastian’s incoming sophomore Blake Gallagher received an offer from Nebraska last month. Beyond the concerns about pressure and bloated expectations, the biggest question I have is this: What if the recruit stops growing, or has just peaked earlier than his peers? I’m interested to see if Maryland head coach Randy Edsall’s proposals for recruiting reform gain any traction. Among other things, his plan stipulates schools can’t make a written offer until a player’s senior year, and that the offer must come with permission from the school’s admissions department.

3. I’m on record as saying I hope the true state championship format the MIAA rolled out last year is here to stay, but I’m also in favor of giving it some tweaks. First and foremost, get rid of the second automatic qualifier for leagues. Weak leagues were rewarded at the expense of teams like Medway and Pope John Paul II, teams who finished with winning records in qualification period but were pushed all the way out of the eight-team field in their respective divisions to satisfy undeserved automatic berths. Leagues should be restricted to one automatic qualifier, or two if it is a two-tier league. I also question whether a seven-game regular season is enough of a window to properly gauge a team’s strength. Expanding to an eight-game season and starting it on Labor Day Weekend could satisfy that, and could be a good gate opportunity for many schools as well.

***

Scott Barboza
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


FIVE PLAYERS ON THE RISE

Michael Balsalmo, Sr. RB/FS, Central Catholic
A standout on the Raiders’ Division 1 championship season a year ago, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder holds a couple of offers (Bryant, Wofford) entering the season. Here’s better there will be more to follow.

Christian Carr, Sr. RB, Plymouth North
For what Carr might lack in stature, he makes up for in elusiveness. A consistent 100-yard-per-game rusher in his junior season, he broke out with a 351-yard performance in the Eagles’ playoff win against Dighton-Rehoboth.

Jake Gibb, Jr. QB, Stoughton
In his first season under center, Gibb led the Knights to the Division 3 South final before falling to Plymouth South. Gibb will have them contending for the Davenport division title again.

Kyle Murphy, Jr. OL/DL, Attleboro
The two-way lineman was a driving force behind the Blue Bombardiers’ breakout season last year. It’s only a matter of time before the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder starts getting colleges’ attention.

James Sullivan, Sr. RB/S, Tewksbury
Sullivan announced himself to a statewide audience on the biggest stage last year, racking up 125 yards and three touchdowns in the Redmen’s win over Plymouth South in the Division 3 state title game. With graduations, Sullivan will take on an even bigger role this year.

FIVE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Braintree
The Bay State Carey should again be one of the more interesting races to watch across the state this year, and the Wamps might be primed to take a big step forward after last year’s 4-7 mark. One to watch is inside linebacker Derek Anson, who’s only added to his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame.

Doherty
The Highlanders were historically good in 2013, capturing their first state title while beating Dennis-Yarmouth for the Division 4 championship. Although several key contributors have graduated, they can still make a run

Natick
It might not be the aerial display we’ve seen in recent years with Troy Flutie at quarterback, but the Redhawks will be one worth watching as Brian Dunlap returns from a season missed due to injury (Lisfranc fracture) last year.

Quincy
After a 7-4 campaign last season, are the Presidents ready to challenge for the Patriot Keenan title? With promising running back Jhave Handsom-Fields (8 TD as a sophomore) and quarterback James Lam returning, the time could be now.

Somerset-Berkley
The Raiders return a big class of juniors, including feature back Chip Wood back in the fold and Jacob Cabana rushing off the edge. Another EAC title could be in the cards.

Barboza's Preseason Top 10:

1. Xaverian
The Hawks will have some questions to answer on offense, but deserve the top spot on defense alone, with Defensive Player of the Year Joe Gaziano returning along with the state’s best secondary group.

2. Central Catholic
The Raiders peaked at precisely the right time last year, capturing the first true statewide Division 1 title. Some of their biggest playmakers have graduated, but Michael Balsamo’s primed for a breakout year.

3. Everett
The Crimson Tide are undoubtedly still smarting over last year’s home playoff loss to Central Catholic. We all know what that means.

4. Bridgewater-Raynham
Here’s betting tight end/defensive end Connor Reagan is one of next year’s breakout performers.

5. St. John’s (S)
You never know what you’re getting from the Pioneers’ offense game to game, and it’ll be intriguing to see how the group develops this season. But you have to like any group with athletes of ilk of Shane Combs and Davon Jones.

6. Lowell
I’ll take my chances with the linebacking corps the Red Raiders have returning, anchored by Shyheim Cullen and Nicolau Coury.

7. Brockton
The Boxers will not be pushed around inside the tackle box, with perhaps the biggest returning offensive line in the state, including Aaron Monteiro (6-6, 300) and Uzziah Hilliard (6-0, 280)

8. Mansfield
Mike Redding will come up with creative schemes to avoid Brendan Hill being double-teamed on both sides of the ball. Connor Finerty will also look to expand on a promising sophomore season.

9. Dennis-Yarmouth
The Dolphins fell just shy of the Div. 4 state title in a riveting matchup with Doherty. They might not be denied this year.

10. Tewksbury
The Redmen might not match the size and physicality of last year’s state championship squad, but having James Sullivan in the backfield is still enough to win.

Others to watch: Arlington, Attleboro, Billerica, BC High, Holliston, Leominster, Oliver Ames, Shepherd Hill, Stoughton, Wahconah, Walpole.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

1. The football playoff system is here to stay – well, at the very least for two more years. While there are still pockets of dissent, the sentiment across the state is that the first year determining true state champions across six divisions was a success. It even drew over some who’d been opposed to the playoff proposal originally and voted against the measure. The build up and drama of the first seven weeks leading up the start of the tournament brought a different dimension of intrigue to the season. Still, detractors remain and, as Brendan ruminated earlier in this feature, there’s still room for improvement regarding the means of automatic qualifiers and the discrepancies that exist between the respective athletic conferences’ rubrics – including, most importantly, the weight of league games. But with one year in the books, I declare the system to be a success. Now, let’s start tweaking the framework.

2. Which brings me to my next point: get rid of Thanksgiving. This is going to be a highly unpopular opinion in some neck of the woods, but it’s simply a reality of what’s put in front of us. At the end of last season, I talked to many athletic directors who complained about a diminished gate return from their Thanksgiving Day games. That’s a natural feedback of the playoff system – which in some place requires teams to “double up” with their Thankgiving rivals. In change, that has deemphasized the pomp and circumstance surrounding Turkey Day. As a result, that left some Thanksgiving Day matchups to resemble more of an exhibition game in tone – althought don’t tell that to St. John’s Prep and Xaverian, or Foxborough and Mansfield. The result is a hodgepodge of situations that follow teams into what used to be the biggest day of the regular-season football calendar: ie a non-playoff team vs. a team that’s bound for a championship game, or two teams who are playing out the string on a season that’s already ended. I counter those scenario’s are really no different than what existed in the year B.P. (Before Playoffs), but the current arrangement has only emphasized was already apparent – Thanksgiving is an exhibition. Minus the Catholic Conference or Merrimack Valley Conference duels which resulted in playoff berths in previous years, Thanksgiving largely was such. Only now have the detractors used the playoff system to highlight the faults in Thanksgiving Day that already existed. What Thanksgiving Day has always been about is the rivalry. I ventured to North Attleborough last year when the Red Rocketeers (already eliminated from the playoffs) hosted Attleboro (who were just eliminated the previous week in the sectional final). The scene was what you’d become accustomed to – with an overflow crowd at Community Field. They were all there to watch an exhibition game. Why not make that game mean something more again? Why not play the game before the first frost?

D1 North: Central Catholic 53, Cambridge 50

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
11:38
PM ET
LAWRENCE, Mass. -- It had everything one would expect from a state tournament game: intensity, physicality, and a touch of last minute heroics.

With 30 seconds to go and the score tied at 48, Central Catholic’s Tyler Nelson came off a perimeter screen and knocked down a three-pointer to put his team ahead.

Coming out of a timeout, Cambridge’s Isiah McLeod hit a quick layup to cut the lead down to one. After another timeout, Central inbounded the ball to Nelson, who was fouled. He hit both to make it a three-point game.

Cambridge had one last possession to tie the game. It looked to get the ball to Demetrius Woodson, who had already hit three three-pointers in the second half. Fredens Deneus held the ball, waiting for Woodson to get open. As he struggled to find space, Deneus threw the ball into the backcourt where it was picked up and dribbled away by Central’s Nick Cambio. The clock ran down and Central came away with a 53-50 victory to move on to the Division 1 North semifinals.

“We knew it was going to be an incredibly tough game and we knew it was going to be a physical game,” said Central Catholic coach Rick Nault. “Fortunately for us, we made some nice plays at the end with Nick Cambio (13 points) and Tyler Nelson (27 points, 7 rebounds), our two captains carrying us in key moments of the game.

"They’ve been through these wars before, they’ve played in big games, and they’ve been through the tournament runs so we rely on them to make plays when the game is on the line, and they absolutely did that tonight.”

The game was back and forth the entire night. Even going into halftime, Central (19-5) had a two-point lead, but Jakigh Dottin (13 points) hit a runner in the lane to tie it at 18 going into the break.

Cambridge (16-6) took the lead midway through the fourth quarter when a Deneus steal lead to an easy layup for McLeod (13 points) at the other end. Central answered with a basket of its own on its next possession.

The two teams traded free throws until Nelson his a three from the right corner to make it 47-44. McLeod was fouled driving to the basket, so he went to the line and made both free throws to cut the lead down to one.

The teams each took turns at the free throw line, seemingly losing that physical let-them-play the referees allowed earlier in the game.

Aaron Hall, Central’s starting center, fouled out of the game with 57 seconds to go. Deneus made one of two free throws, but Dottin got the rebound and a outback to tie the game at 48.

Nelson hit the three-pointer and Central is on to the semi-finals.

Cambio comes through: Cambio was held scoreless the entire first half, which is uncommon. Usually, Central looks to establish he and Aaron Hall (8 points, 4 rebounds) early in the paint with various post-ups and pick and roll actions. In the first half Friday, he was not allowed to establish position in the post and his team’s offensive performance suffered because of it.

Nault tried to light a fire under his co-captain at halftime, and the senior responded with a 13-point second half.

“We had a little talk at halftime and challenged him to be more assertive and stop fading away,” said the coach. “It seemed like in the first half, he seemed very tentative and fading away and taking jumpers. We told him you have to dominate that paint in the second half and he absolutely did that.”

Central opened the second half with Cambio isolated on the low block against Deneus (2 points, 12 rebounds). He received entry passes from the guards and either challenge his man one-on-one or pass out and look for a better opportunity. It helped that the referees were allowing each player to attempt to establish position underneath, which lead to a physical battle for paint supremacy.

“I missed every single shot I took in the first half,” said Cambio. “At halftime, he gave it to me and got me going a little. I just had to go out and execute for my team because I was not losing this game tonight.”

Rematch with Prep on tap: Central moves on to play St. John’s Prep in the semifinals of the Division 1 North tournament. It is another rematch from the regular season. In the first meeting on Feb. 9, Central won 63-60 in a hotly-contested thriller. This time the game will be played on a neutral floor where the loser’s season ends.

“Next game is going to be a crazy game, I can’t wait for it,” said Cambio. “It’s going to be a battle. Harder battle than this game, I can tell you that.”

St. John’s Prep defeated Lowell Friday, 74-67, for the right to advance.

“We’ve beat them before, but we can’t go into the game saying hey we beat them, so we’re going to beat them again,” said Nelson. “We know we have to prepare. They have a grew starting five, they have a great bench. They’re well-coached. We really have to come out and play better than we did tonight.”

Video: Recapping Presidents Day Roundball Classic

February, 17, 2014
Feb 17
11:54
PM ET
LAWRENCE, Mass. -- Host school Central Catholic won the inaugural Presidents Day Roundball Classic, presented by ESPN Boston, after fending off Cambridge late for a 66-57 win at Memorial Gymnasium. Hot-handed senior guard Tyler Nelson took home Tournament MVP honors after an impressive two-game scoring stretch.

Correspondent Mike Riley discusses the tournament, and projects the wide-open Division 1 North field, with ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall:

Roundball: No. 7 Cambridge 74, New Bedford 46

February, 16, 2014
Feb 16
8:39
PM ET
LAWRENCE, Mass. -– Cambridge outscored New Bedford by 21 in the second half to cruise to a 74-46 win in the first semifinal at the Roundball Classic at Central Catholic.

“I didn't think we did a great job of rebounding or defending in the first half,” Cambridge coach Lance Dottin said. “I wanted to make sure we emphasized that coming out of the locker room in the second half, and then we were able to get some fast break opportunities against their press.”

The Falcons shut down the Whalers early in the second half, blowing a nine-point halftime lead out to 13 quick and putting the pedal down.

Junior center Fredens Deneus (17 points, 13 rebounds) crushed on both ends of the floor, while Demetrius Woodson buried four 3-pointers en route to 17 points from the guard spot. Junior shooting guard Isaiah McLeod added 10 points.

“I just thought that the kids did a good job of executing,” Dottin said. “We were able to get the ball inside a little late with Eric [Smith-Sokol] and Fredens which was nice. It was nice to see those guys get those opportunities.”

The Whalers were unable to deal with the Falcons size. Cambridge held double-digit rebound advantage for the bulk of the game. On the defensive end, Falcon rebounds opened up the transition game and allowed the guards to flourish.

“It improves the team's chemistry even more,” Woodson said. “We can keep focusing and get everybody touches. In practice we try to keep spacing the defense out, get better shots, and create post plays.”

The Whalers offensive rolled as junior guard Quincy Pope did. Pope pumped in 16 points and pulled down six rebounds, but he didn't get much help around him. Dillon Kuehne had eight points for the Whalers, and Jaleal Massey added six points of his own.

While New Bedford's guards did damage, Woodson and McLeod always had an answer. The duo combined for six three-point baskets and moved the ball quickly with ease.

“I've played with him my whole life,” McLeod said. “We started [in] AAU together. It's pretty easy; we got good chemistry.”

DURABLE DIANDRE
Sometimes the most important parts of an engine are the parts you can't see. While Deneus was dominating the lane and Woodson was raining baskets, Diandre Shouder-Williams kept the motor running.

Shouder-Williams played for most of the game and put up 10 points and nine rebounds.

“Diandre is sort of our Mr. consistency,” Dottin said. “The other night he had 17 and 13. He's a guy that comes in and plays every single night. He's a very good basketball player.”

Having another big body in the paint will certainly help the Falcons as it goes for the tournament title today against Central Catholic.

“I love playing with Diandre,” Deneus said. “He grabs rebounds with me, he's got a pull-up game; he's the whole package. If he keeps working he could be something special.”

MONDAY NIGHT MAYHEM
To say that Division 1 North is a mess would be an understatement. Central, Cambridge, St. John's Prep, Everett, and others will be in the hunt for the top seed in a crowded tournament.

Tonight's final will go a long way in terms of seeding for the North section as well as potentially provide a boost for the Falcons.

“Tomorrow night is certainly a big challenge,” Dottin said. “It's not like we don't know both of them; I've seen both of them over the course of the year. It's good for us. We need this challenge going into the tournament.”

Against New Bedford, the Falcons came out flat but were able to rebound. Another early stumble like that will be punished by Central's speed and athleticism.

“We got to play better than today,” Woodson said. “We had a few errors that we could have did better, especially defensively.”

Presidents Day Roundball Classic set

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
1:24
AM ET
Central Catholic High is presenting its inaugural Presidents Day Roundball Classic, presented by ESPNBoston.com, this weekend.

The boys' basketball teams from BC High, Cambridge, NewBedford and the host Raiders will compete in a two-day tournament.

Here's a look at this weekend's event, and, of course, stayed tuned this weekend for tournament coverage:

Sunday, Feb. 16:
3:00 - Cambridge Rindge & Latin vs New Bedford
5:00 - BC High vs Central Catholic

Monday, Feb. 17:
5:30 - consolation game
7:00 - Championship Game

Tournament Features:
- $1,000 scholarship awarded to 1 member of each team
- Nike tourney sweatshirt and backpack for all players
- college officials will work all the games
- $500 half court shot will be attempted by a student fan in each of the 4 games.

Recap: No. 11 Everett 74, No. 13 Cambridge 63

January, 11, 2014
Jan 11
1:50
AM ET
EVERETT, Mass. –- It seemed as if whenever Cambridge made a run on Friday night, it was Everett’s ball pressure and high-octane offense that got the Crimson Tide the lead back.

Despite being down after three quarters, Everett (6-0) was able to overcome Greater Boston League rival Cambridge, 74-63, thanks to an outstanding second half from sophomore Ernie Chatman (16 points) and forward Gary Clark (15 points, 8 rebounds).

Trailing 42-36 at the beginning of the third quarter, it was Chatman -- playing with a hurt ankle -- who had a major hand in bringing the Crimson Tide back into the game. A flashy point guard with a quick crossover, Chatman nearly blew the roof off the gym when he crossed up a defender and finished an acrobatic lay-up early in the third. A few minutes later Chatman pulled up and swooshed a three-pointer from 28 feet out.

Chatman, who transferred to Everett from Boston English in the offseason, has had a smooth transition to the Crimson Tide program.

“[Ernie] has done well, the kids have accepted him," Everett coach John DiBiaso said. "We’ve got some great senior leadership -- our seniors are a great group. They wanted to build it to the next step, we went to the semis last year and our goal is to go a little bit further this year."

With his team down a point to Cambridge (4-2) after three quarters, Clark came up big for the Crimson Tide in the fourth, scoring 8 of his 12 second half points during a three-minute span in the final period. It came of little surprise to his coach.

“Gary’s one of the best players in the state. We’re very fortunate to have him, but the thing that epitomizes us is that we’re a team," DiBiaso said. "The scorebook says that about nine guys scored, you don’t see that in high school...It looks like an NBA box score."

With Clark sitting out injured in the first half, as well as Chatman struggling to move around at first on his hurt ankle, it was Everett’s depth that helped them stay in the game in the early going. Timmance McKinney (12 points), Rodwell Blanc, and Debrien Cora-Perez all managed to score, force turnovers in the halfcourt, as well as assert their power on the defensive glass.

“I thought it was our depth, we went 12 deep on the bench tonight. We had guys in foul trouble, we had guys hurt,” DiBiaso said. “Everybody I thought stepped up and came to play.”

Slowing down McLeod, Deneus: Cambridge point guard Isaiah McLeod and 6-foot-5 center Fredens Deneus have been as good as any inside-out punch in the MIAA this year. McLeod, a playmaking point guard who has taken on a primary scoring role for the Falcons, was contained to just 12 points -- with a couple of those baskets coming in garbage time at the end of the game.

“They’re a good team. [McLeod] is a good guard, they churn the momentum around, they broke the press and got some lay-ups, but to our credit we bounced back and stayed true to what we were trying to do," DiBiaso said. "We were going to press until the end and that wore them down at the end I thought."

The longtime coach at Everett, DiBiaso always enjoys playing Cambridge because of the talent that coach Lance Dottin’s Falcons always seem to bring to the table in the Greater Boston League (Cambridge is moving from the GBL into the Dual County League next season).

“The great part about having Cambridge in the league, they came in the [Greater Boston League] in 1991. It upped the ante for everybody; it made everybody in the league better," he said. "Before they came, teams were going to the tournament one-and-done because we didn’t play anybody during the season of their caliber. By having them in the league it raises the bar for everybody.”

Deneus (10 points, 13 rebounds), who has been drumming up plenty of interest from college coaches since the start of his senior season, was dominant on the glass despite a rather inconsistent offensive performance.

Athletic big men like Deneus come at a premium at the MIAA, but DiBiaso said that Deneus’ length, skill, and athleticism didn’t force Everett -- a team known for attacking the rim -- to change up its gameplan much offensively.

“All we said was that on offense we were going to take the ball right to him—we weren’t going to let him change the game,” DiBiaso said. “We were going to the basket, and I thought we did a good job of going to the basket."

BABC: Cambridge 78, No. 15 Springfield Central 46

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
8:40
PM ET
BOSTON -- From the opening tip-off on Friday afternoon, Cambridge made it very clear who had the upper hand.

Led by point guard Isaiah McLeod, big man Fredens Deneus (13 points, 12 rebounds) as well as Diandre Shoulder-Williams (14 points) and Tevin Charles (13 points, 8 rebounds), the Falcons (2-0) blew out Springfield Central (1-2) 78-46 at the BABC Holiday Classic.

This win came in similar fashion to Cambridge’s first win, a runaway 101-70 victory over West Roxbury last week.

“It’s definitely a satisfying win, it being so early in the season and playing against a quality opponent. That’s what I’m trying to express to these young men, that you want to play against the best competition,” Cambridge coach Lance Dottin said.

The Falcons’ swarming pressure defense left Springfield Central to scramble for baskets in the first half, Cambridge made a living off of forcing turnovers, playing the fast break, and converting lay-ups or free throws at the other end. Despite having a deep stable of guards who can shoot it from behind the arc, the Falcons only attempted four three-pointers.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Cambridge jumped out to a 37-11 halftime lead. It was all according to plan, according to Dottin.

“We just really wanted to spread the floor a little bit against Central and look to find the open man and advance the ball if we could," Dottin said. "So that we could take advantage of the numbers on the fast break.”

Baldwin vs. Deneus: One of the biggest storylines in this one was the play in the post, with the 6-foot-6 Deneus facing off against Central’s Chris Baldwin -- two of the top big men in the state. Deneus got the best of Baldwin for the most part, asserting himself as the most dominant rebounder on the floor while also finishing a few high-rising dunks and lay-ups.

Deneus wasn’t a prospect seen on the AAU circuit in July, leaving him flying under the radar. But with several top Division 3 as well as a few Division 2 programs recruiting him, Dottin sees his big man as a potential break-out star in the MIAA this year.

“I thought Fredens was sensational today. Fredens, in a lot of ways, is a best-kept secret. He’s a kid who in my opinion is a scholarship kid who maybe a few people missed the boat on, but as they come around this year they’ll see,” Dottin said. “Especially on the defensive end, for most great teams that’s where it starts, and Fredens is a great defensive player.”

Baldwin was unable to do much scoring for the Golden Eagles, but often managed to make his presence felt in other ways, totaling 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 blocks.

“They had a big presence in the middle, their big fella must have had five or six blocks -- he’s a good young player and he’s only going to get better,” Dottin said of Baldwin.

Be the best, beat the best: The game against Central is a warm-up for what would end up being Cambridge’s toughest game of the regular season: a showdown tomorrow afternoon at the BABC Holiday Classic with Putnam, the top-ranked team in the MIAA and last year’s Division 1 state champion.

“This weekend we get a chance to play against two of the better teams out of the west, so it’s definitely a good win for us. I just want to make sure, in our case, that we get better every day. There were times where we weren’t that good today, too many turnovers,” Dottin said. “I’m satisfied with the win, but we really need to get better.”

“Our schedule dictates to us that we’re gonna’ play the best, tomorrow we’re playing the defending state champs. For us, it’s a good win, but we feel like we could be even better.”

Top 10 performances from Thanksgiving football

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
2:04
PM ET
1. Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Broke the state single-season passing touchdown record with a near-perfect day through the air, completing 16 of 20 passes for 263 yards and a record seven TDs, as the Redhawks beat Framingham 48-13. He is now the state’s single-season (47) and career (112) touchdown pass record holder.

2. Brooks Tyrrell, Jr. RB, Marblehead
Carried 25 times for 300 yards and six touchdowns in the Magicians’ 51-13 win over Swampscott.

3. Emmanuel Almonte, Jr. QB, Boston English
Threw game-winning touchdown pass with no time remaining, as the Blue and Blue upset Boston Latin, 14-12, for their first win over the Wolfpack since 1997. English had allowed 49 points per game in the three previous installments of this rivalry.

4. Conor Moriarty, Sr. RB, Walpole
Racked up 300 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries, in the Rebels’ 48-14 win over Weymouth.

5. Peter Gallant, Sr. RB, Gardner
In the Wildcats’ 39-6 win over Oakmont, carried 23 times for 298 yards and two touchdowns, the highest single-game rushing total in series history.

6. Drew Belcher, Sr. QB, Reading
Totaled six touchdowns (three rushing, three passing) as the Rockets rallied from 24 points down in the final six minutes of regulation to beat Stoneham in triple overtime, 44-36.

7. Luke Morrison, Sr. TE/DE, Attleboro
Recorded five tackles for loss, including four sacks, in the Blue Bombardiers' 34-19 win over North Attleborough.

8. C.J. McCarthy, Sr. RB, North Reading
Carried 48 times for 276 yards and four touchdowns in the Hornets’ 42-35 thriller over Lynnfield.

9. Jeff Costello, Soph. QB, Lexington
Ran wild in the Minutemen’s 56-21 win over Burlington, totaling 197 rushing yards and five scores, and adding 169 yards and a score through the air on 10 of 19 passing.

10. Shaquille Anderson, Sr. RB, Cambridge
In the Falcons’ 41-7 rout of Somerville, carried 13 times for 209 yards and three scores, and added a 47-yard touchdown reception.

Shakeups to girls' hockey conference, teams

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
6:57
PM ET
Beverly athletic director James Coffey checks in today with a rebranding of an MIAA girls' hockey league.

The GEMIHL will now be known as the Northeastern Hockey League going forward. The 7-team league has also been separated into two divisions as follows:

NORTH
Beverly/Danvers
Marblehead
Winthrop/Lynn
Masconomet

SOUTH
Cambridge/Somerville/Everett/Malden
Medford
Peabody/Lynnfield

Also, in somewhat related news, Jim Clark of the Boston Herald today reported that Everett will enter the co-op program hosted by Cambridge, citing dwindling numbers. The Crimson Tide's players will enter into the program which has received players from Somerville in recent years, in addition to Malden in the upcoming season.

The moves leave Medford as the only stand-alone program, which is not in a co-op agreement, in the reformatted conference.

Mr. Football Watch: Playoffs, Week 2

November, 12, 2013
11/12/13
3:16
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch", following the second weekend of MIAA State Championship Playoffs. As always, coaches and/or statisticians are encouraged to send statistics to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS

Zach Elkinson, Jr. ATH, Holliston
In two playoff games, Elkinson is averaging 16.9 yards per touch. That includes nine carries for 91 yards and four touchdowns, and nine catches for 221 yards and four more scores.

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Threw his 102nd career touchdown pass in Friday night's loss to Barnstable. He needs one more TD pass to tie the state's all-time mark, and he has two more chances, starting this Friday against Needham.

Brendan Hill, Jr. TE, Mansfield
Caught seven passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns in the Hornets' win over Needham.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. RB, Barnstable
Recorded 21 carries for 158 yards and three touchdowns, four catches for 36 yards, 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks in the Red Raiders' 27-13 win over Natick.

Neil O'Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
In two playoff games, he has amassed 487 yards of offense, including 11.2 yards per rush, with seven touchdowns.

Dylan Oxsen, Sr. RB, Plymouth South
Ran for 227 yards and three touchdowns in the Panthers' 21-7 win over Dartmouth, punching their ticket to the D3 Southeast Final.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Carried 23 times for 182 yards and two scores in the Rockets' loss to Mansfield

Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Completed 13 of 16 passes for 193 yards and three scores, and added five carries for 73 yards and two more scores, in the Pioneers' throttling of Marlborough in D2 Central.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Totaled 134 yards of offense and two touchdowns in the Golden Eagles' 35-12 win over Longmeadow

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 14 of 18 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns, in the Hornets' 42-35 win over Needham.

FIVE ON THE RISE

Christian Carr, Jr. RB, Plymouth North
Ran for 351 yards and three touchdowns in the Blue Eagles' win over Dighton-Rehoboth, setting up a much-anticipated battle with cross-town rival Plymouth South for the D3 Southeast Championship this Friday.

Mike Elcock, Sr. WR, Needham
Caught six passes for 148 yards and a score in the Rockets' loss to Mansfield. He leads D2 Eastern Mass with 13 touchdown receptions.

Lubern Figaro, Sr. DB, Everett
The Wisconsin commit came up with two crucial interceptions, and some tremendous defense on top receiver Jack Galvin, in the Crimson Tide's 21-0 shutout of Lowell.

Malik Garrett, Sr. QB, Melrose
Through two playoff games, the dual threat signal-caller has accumulated nearly 550 yards of offense. He has 364 yards rushing and five TDs on just 29 carries, while he is 12-for-20 through the air for 185 yards and two more scores.

Tim Walsh, Attleboro
Led the Blue Bombardiers in rushing with 122 yards on 11 carries, while completing 7 of 11 pass attempts for 146 yards and 3 TD in their Div. 1 South semi-final win over Bridgewater-Raynham.

PLAYOFF LEADERS

Passing
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 528 yards, 5 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 504 yards, 6 TD
Kyle Wisnieski, Sr., Mansfield – 405 yards, 5 TD
Mike Milano, Jr., Central Catholic – 371 yards, 3 TD
Ryan Charter, Sr., Needham – 361 yards, 4 TD
Luke Brennan, Sr., Doherty – 359 yards, 7 TD
Marcus Collins, Jr., Cambridge – 355 yards, 4 TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 338 yards, 7 TD
Dana Parello, Sr., Waltham – 312 yards, 4 TD
Neil O'Connor, Sr., Leominster - 286 yards, 3 TD

Rushing
Dylan Oxsen, Sr., Plymouth South – 577 yards, 7 TD
Christian Carr, Jr., Plymouth North – 551 yards, 7 TD
Alex Givins-Perry, Sr., Bartlett – 477 yards, 3 TD
Mike Panepinto, Sr., Needham – 418 yards, 6 TD
Brooks Tyrrell, Jr., Marblehead – 383 yards, 5 TD
Malik Garrett, Sr., Melrose – 364 yards, 5 TD
Hayden Murphy, Sr., Barnstable – 353 yards, 6 TD
Chris Dumont, Sr., Manchester-Essex - 321 yards, 5 TD
D.J. Engelke, Sr., Pentucket – 299 yards, 3 TD
Kevin Rosado, Jr., Northeast – 284 yards, 6 TD

Receiving
Alex Hilger, Sr., Natick – 278 yards, 4 TD
Mike Elcock, Sr., Needham – 258 yards, 3 TD
Brendan Hill, Jr., Mansfield – 228 yards, 3 TD
Elijah Booker, Sr., Cambridge – 225 yards, 2 TD
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 221 yards, 4 TD

Player of the Week: Lowell's Keagan Latta

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
1:31
AM ET
LOWELL, Mass. -- Lowell's Keagan Latta accomplished a trifecta of sorts in the Red Raiders' emphatic 41-0 rout of St. John's Prep in a Division 1 North first-round playoff game.

The senior wide receiver and safety tallied three touchdowns -- all by different methods. Latta had a pick-six, a fumble return for a touchdown, as well as a touchdown reception. The No. 3 was a charm, too, as Latta pocketed three interceptions, as the Red Raiders shut out the Eagles.

For his efforts, Latta was named our ESPN Boston Player of the Week.

Editor Brendan Hall caught up with Latta on Monday, as the Red Raiders prepare for their sectional semifinal duel with Everett:



Along with Latta, here are our Top 5 performers for the weekend's playoff games:
  • Keagan Latta, Sr. WR/S, Lowell - Went for the trifecta in the Red Raiders' 41-0 blowout of St. John's Prep. He caught two passes for 51 yards and a score; recorded three interceptions, including one returned for a second score; and registered a third score on a scoop-and-score fumble return.
  • Tyis Boykin, Sr. ATH, St. Peter-Marian - Had himself a field day in the Guardians' 50-20 win over Tantasqua in D4 Central. Carried 19 times for 196 yards and four touchdowns; was 4-of-5 passing for 96 yards and a touchdown; and added a 65-yard punt return for a sixth score. He also had 3.5 tackles and two pass break-ups on defense.
  • Marcus Collins, Jr. QB, Cambridge - In the Falcons' 29-28 heartbreaking loss to Reading in D2 North, totaled 355 yards and four touchdowns.
  • Alex Givins-Perry, Sr. RB, Bartlett - Ran for 364 yards and three touchdowns in the Indians' 42-21 win over Auburn in D5 Central action.
  • Alex Hilger, Sr. WR, Natick - Caught eight passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the Redhawks' 39-26 win over King Philip in D2 South.

D2 North: Reading 29, Cambridge 28

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
12:55
AM ET
READING, Mass. -– The ending seemed like fiction, but for Cambridge senior Shaquille Anderson the pain was visceral. In the final 90 seconds, 23 points had been scored, and when the dust settled Reading had escaped with a 29-28 win.

As the handshake line dispersed Anderson turned left, helmet still on, towards the scoreboard. He just stared, seemingly trying to get the eight and the nine to flip places. Nothing.

He lifted his helmet onto his forehead, turned and walked towards his team's post-game huddle. His pads on; his mouthpiece still in. At the 40-yard line he took his helmet off and 30 yards later he slid out of his pads, his electric green compression vest illuminated under the stadium lights. His mouthpiece was still in.

The postgame stretch came and went followed by the talk from coach Ryan Saulnier. A huddle, a chant, and then it was over. Anderson still had his mouthpiece in.

THE END
Both teams had a taste of victory before Reading was able to fully enjoy it.

Senior quarterback Drew Belcher, after accounting for only 75 all-purpose yards in the first 38-plus minutes, put the Rockets on his back. Down 20-14, he accounted for all 69 of Reading's yards (two passing, 67 rushing) and capped the drive with a brilliant bootleg run on fourth down to put Reading up 21-20 with 1:29 to play.

Cambridge answered two plays later when Marcus Collins found Elijah Booker crossing over the middle and the junior scampered the rest of the way for a 76-yard score. Collins connected with Bryan Douyon on a two-point conversion to put the Falcons ahead 28-21.

On Reading's next offensive play, Belcher hit Rob DiLoreto down the Rockets' sideline for a 60-yard score. The madcap insanity reached its zenith when Reading coach John Fiore elected to go for two after showing a point after try before calling a timeout.

“We were going to fake it, but they almost blocked [one earlier] and they had a whole bunch of people where we were going to fake it to so we took the timeout,” Fiore said.

The Rockets went for two and Belcher threw the ball over a swarming wall of Falcons to Liam Kenneally, who went in for the win.

READING'S ENGINE
The Rockets ground out yards with the three-headed monster of Belcher, Kenneally, and D'Aundray Burcy. The trio combined for 315 yards over 42 touches and each scored a touchdown.

Kenneally led the way with 159 yards and four runs of 20 yards or more. Most of his yards came between the tackles in the teeth of the Cambridge defense.

“It's not about how hard you hit,” Kenneally said. “It's about how hard you can get hit and keep on moving.”

Belcher, by his own admission, had a weak first half but played up to the moment in the second half, especially in the final 11 minutes. He finished with 107 yards on the ground and 94 through the air.

“Coach made some great calls at the end of the game, and I had to come out and make a big play for my team,” Belcher said. “We always preach to play 44 minutes and we played 44 minutes tonight. We got a great win over a great team.”

Burcy had 49 yards and Reading's first touchdown.

CAMBRIDGE'S WINGS
Reading owned the ground, but Cambridge owned the sky. Collins utilized the cupboard full of receivers at his disposal to the tune of 355 passing yards and four touchdowns.

His top targets were Booker and Muna Anosike. Anosike caught three balls, including two touchdowns, for 99 yards. He said that the skill is result of work in the midweek.

“All of that was preparation,” Anosike said. “That's just hard work and this is where it shows.”

The elusive Booker reeled in five balls for 224 yards and touchdowns of 74 and 76 yards.

“You look at [Booker] and he's skinny as a rail, but he has such a work ethic,” Cambridge coach Ryan Saulnier said. “He's very much out of the Wes Welker mode, and once he catches the ball good luck tackling him. He's like a tap dancer.”

Anosike said that he wants the underclassmen to appreciate wearing the black & white as much as he did.

“These guys are my best friends; my brothers,” Anosike said. “Fifty years from now we're still going to be best friends; we're still going to be brothers. It was an amazing experience. I just hope that all the juniors and underclassmen can learn and do what they got to do to have that experience, because I had an amazing time."

HARD-HITTING FALCONS
The Falcon defense cramped Reading's style all night. The Dillon twins, John and Sean, had a lot to do with that. The brothers Dillon seemed to be involved in any play that made it into Cambridge's secondary.

Saulnier said that players like the Dillons set the tone for his team defensively.

“One of the things I think that gets lost among all the speed and skill position [players] are the tough, hard-nosed guys like the Dillon brothers,” Saulnier said. “They've set the edge for us in the 3-4 all year. When we first put them out there I was a bit concerned about their size, but they are so aggressive and play with such fierce competitiveness. They get to ball, play with leverage, and get their nose dirty.”

ESPN Boston 1st-round playoff picks

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
6:08
PM ET
Division 1 North: No. 5 LOWELL (5-2) at No. 4 ST. JOHN’S PREP (4-3)

Scott Barboza: The Red Raiders seize the opportunity against an undermanned Eagles squad on their path to the section title. Lowell, 20-14.

Brendan Hall: Two weeks ago, I’d have told you St. John’s Prep would emerge victorious here. But that was before they lost a number of key starters on the offensive line. Feels weird predicting the preseason No. 1 in the land to go down in the first round of playoffs, but they are walking wounded headed into this matchup with one of the North’s most athletic defensive fronts. Lowell, 21-10.

Division 2 South: No. 6 KING PHILIP (5-2) at No. 3 NATICK (7-0)

Barboza: Talking with the Redhawks coaching staff earlier this week, there’s a healthy amount of respect going in for the KP defense, in particular linebacker Brett McEvoy, but something tells me the Warriors haven’t seen an offense such as this. Natick, 20-14.

Hall: Somehow, some way, even against one of the state’s top defenses, we know Troy Flutie will find a way to break them for some points. Never underestimate a Flutie with their back against the wall. The question is whether KP’s offense, stagnant in most weeks, can light up the scoreboard itself. Natick, 31-30.

Division 2 South: No. 8 WELLESLEY (4-3) at No. 1 MANSFIELD (7-0)

Barboza: John Fadule can almost single-handedly keep the Raiders in the game, but the onus is on the Raiders defense to step up to perhaps their greatest challenge yet. Mansfield, 31-27.

Hall: Sneaky good battle. Wellesley runs a wide-open spread offense that likes to turn games into track meets, a matchup that tends to favor Mansfield, which has won a few of those types of games this year. Mansfield, 28-24.

Division 2 South: No. 5 DUXBURY (5-1) at No. 4 NEEDHAM (6-1)

Barboza: This might be the most difficult game of the weekend to forecast — just going on gut instinct here. Duxbury, 10-7.

Hall: Every year we always talk about Duxbury as the prototype for athletic teams with lacrosse backgrounds. But the best lacrosse-bred star this year is in Needham, where Mike Panepinto figures to have a ball this postseason after leading the state in rushing. Needham, 30-23.

Division 1 South: No. 5 WEYMOUTH (4-3) at No. 4 BC HIGH (4-3)

Barboza: The Wildcats have to win the turnover battle if they want to hang in this one. Maybe Matt Long can pull out another one from behind his back. BC High, 17-16.

Hall: This one will be sloppy, but in the end I don’t see the Eagles defense surrendering anything more than a touchdown here. BC High, 20-7.

Division 2 Central: No. 5 SHREWSBURY (4-3) at No. 4 NASHOBA (4-3)

Barboza: For a team that had a state-best winning streak rolling earlier this season, after three-straight losses, perception has really changed for this one. Shrewsbury, 21-14.

Hall: The two teams have gone in opposite directions since Nashoba won the first matchup in Week 3, with the Chieftains losing three of their last four while Shrewsbury has won three of its last four. Shrewsbury, 17-3.

Division 4 Central: No. 6 QUABBIN (5-2) at No. 3 DOHERTY (6-1)

Barboza: With both teams able to put ‘em on the board in bunches, I like Doherty’s outside targets just a little bit more. Doherty, 34-30.

Hall: Just a hunch, lots of points will be scored in this one. The biggest enemy for either team might be the sideline markers. Anybody want to take a wager on how many “six” routes are called in this one? Doherty, 40-38.

Division 2 North: No. 7 CAMBRIDGE (3-4) at No. 2 READING (5-1)

Barboza: After the Arlington upset, the Rockets have righted ship some and still have enough horses in the stable with Liam Kenneally. Reading, 14-13.

Hall: My upset special of the week. Reading struggled against spread offenses out of the gate, and the Falcons provide a unique blend of athleticism in the spread that they aren’t accustomed to seeing. I predict a big night for Shaq Anderson. Cambridge, 28-27.

Division 2 North: No. 8 LYNN ENGLISH (2-4) at No. 1 HAVERHILL (5-2)

Barboza: There are some serious backstories to be had, but ultimately, on the field, the Hillies roll. Haverhill, 28-20.

Hall: In Jordan Javier’s return to his former school, I like the Hillies getting one up on Lynn English. There are athletic, Division 1-caliber playmakers on both sides of the ball for both squads, but Haverhill’s runs more fluid. Haverhill, 35-31.

No. 3 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (6-1) at No. 13 WESTFIELD (7-0)

Barboza: The Bombers are wont to play ball control, but the Golden Eagles come flying out of the cage. Central, 34-27.

Hall: This will be Central’s biggest test since the Week 1 loss to Everett. As always, they’ll be ready. Central, 28-20.

Last Week’s Picks:
Barboza: 8-2 (65-28 overall)
Hall: 7-3 (66-27 overall)

Mr. Football Watch: Week 7

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
12:58
AM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 7 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
Completed 13 of 25 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns, in a 42-19 win over Milton.

Brandon Gallagher, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Carried 24 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, in the Trojans' 20-14 loss to Barnstable.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. RB/WR, Barnstable
In the Red Raiders' thrilling win over Bridgewater-Raynham, carried 14 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 43-yard TD run with less than a minute to go.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils' 40-15 rout of Nashoba, completed 11 of 19 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns, and also had 50 yards rushing with a fourth score.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the Rockets' 33-6 win over Brookline.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Carried 19 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the Crusaders' 34-6 rout of St. Mary's of Lynn.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. RB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Completed 6 of 6 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and added 91 rushing yards with two more scores, in the Pioneers' 34-9 win over Wachusett.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Was 5 of 11 passing for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and added a rushing touchdown, in the Golden Eagles' 34-6 win over Putnam.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 12 of 27 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in the Hornets' 20-7 win over King Philip.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
Boston College commit caught a touchdown pass and threw for another, in the Highlanders' 28-0 shutout of Worcester North.



FIVE ON THE RISE

Emmanuel Almonte, Jr. QB/DB, Boston English
Totaled 254 yards of offense (190 rushing, 64 passing) and three touchdowns in the Blue & Blue's 24-6 win over West Roxbury. Through six games he is one of the state's leading rushers (1,025 yards, 8 TD, 9.5 yards per carry), in directing a read-option attack; he's also the team's leader in tackles (43).

Shaquille Anderson, Sr. RB, Cambridge
Led the way for the Falcons with 219 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in their 34-20 win over Medford.

Dan Henrickson, Sr. WR, St. Peter-Marian
Totaled 123 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Guardians' 14-13 loss to Shepherd Hill.

Chris Lindstrom, Jr. OL/DL, Shepherd Hill
Leading a double-wing rushing attack that has accounted for 1,661 yards, 21 touchdowns and 7.2 yards per carry through six games, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound interior guard has been a road grader so far for the Rams.

Jack Sylvester, Sr. RB, Andover
Carried 14 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns, and also hauled in a 15-yard TD catch, in the Golden Warriors' 49-32 win over Rhode Island power La Salle Academy. In the last weeks, he's gained 402 yards with five touchdowns; on the season, he's averaging 8.3 yards per carry.



TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Chris Ahl, Sr., Millis/Hopedale – 1,098 yards, 14 TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 1,084 yards, 12 TD
Emmanuel Almonte, Jr., Boston English – 1,025 yards, 8 TD
Zered McCoy, Sr., Ware – 963 yards, 7 TD
Rufus Rushins, Jr., Bishop Fenwick – 957 yards, 15 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 662 yards, 10 TD
Nick Thyden, Sr., Quabbin – 643 yards, 9 TD
Jake Bradway, Sr., Belchertown – 638 yards, 7 TD
Dan Henrickson, Sr., St. Peter-Marian – 559 yards, 7 TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 534 yards, 3 TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 2,070 yards, 21 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,617 yards, 26 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,543 yards, 18 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,499 yards, 19 TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 1,320 yards, 15 TD



*Does not include players who had a bye week


Mr. Football Watch: Week 3

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
2:35
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 3 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
The Boston College commit completed 14 of 21 passes for 282 yards and five scores, and added 32 yards on the ground, in a 41-6 win over Acton-Boxborough.

Jack Galvin, Sr. WR, Lowell
Caught two passes for 90 yards and two scores in the Red Raiders’ 33-20 loss to Leominster.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils’ 33-20 defeat of Lowell, threw for 156 yards and three touchdowns, and added 66 yards and a score on the ground.

Dylan Oxsen, Sr. RB, Plymouth South
Carried 18 times for 256 yards and three touchdowns in the Panthers’ 21-7 win over Sandwich. In the first two games, he has 418 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
The UMass lacrosse commit ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns in the Rockets’ 26-6 win over Walpole.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
In the Pioneers’ 42-24 win over Catholic Memorial, the Navy lacrosse commit completed 20 of 25 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns, and added 47 rushing yards with a fifth score.

Johnathan Thomas, Sr. RB, St. John’s Prep
The Maryland commit carried 27 times for 228 yards and two scores, and added a spectacular 107-yard pick-six that made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, in a 40-21 win over Central Catholic.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
In the Golden Eagles’ 49-0 rout of East Longmeadow, the Monmouth commit completed 8 of 9 passes for 148 yards and three scores, and added 37 yards and a score on seven carries on the ground.

Ju’an Williams, Sr. WR/DB, Springfield Central
Was a factor in all three phases of the game in the Golden Eagles’ 49-0 blanking of East Longmeadow. He caught three passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns, recorded four tackles and a 92-yard interception return for a third score, and was a perfect 7-for-7 on extra point field goals.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
The Boston College commit caught four passes for 92 yards and a score, and recorded 13 tackles defensively, in the Highlanders’ 19-12 win over Holy Name.

FIVE ON THE RISE*

Zach Elkinson, Jr. ATH, Holliston
Registered 232 yards and three scores in three different methods – rushing, receiving and punt return – in the Panthers’ 43-7 win over Milford. Through three games, he has 514 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns by four different methods.

A.J. King, Sr. WR, Xaverian
Blew the doors open for the Hawks in their battle with Bridgewater-Raynham, catching four balls for 129 yards and two scores in the first half en route to a 49-13 rout.

Jimmy Sullivan, Sr. QB/S, Nauset
In the Warriors’ 34-8 win over Falmouth, carried 10 times for 167 yards and two scores, and added 38 passing yards and a third score, as well as four tackles on defense. Through two games, he has 419 all-purpose yards, five touchdowns, 13 tackles and an interception.

Olan Abner, Sr. RB, Bedford
Carried 38 times for 262 yards and two touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ 34-13 win over Belmont. Through two games, he has 398 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Ricardo Edwards, Sr. RB, Brighton
Had a record six touchdowns in the Bengals’ 44-22 win over East Boston. He ran for 233 yards and five scores, and returned an interception for a sixth.

TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Johnathan Thomas, Sr., St. John’s Prep – 652 yards, 8 total TD
Christian Perez, Sr., Northeast – 574 yards, 5 TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 558 yards, 6 TD
Isaiah White, Sr., Beverly – 558 yards, 5 TD
Brooks Tyrell, Jr., Marblehead – 453 yards, 6 total TD

Passing
Jordan Bolarinho, Sr., Billerica – 872 yards, 7 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 604 yards, 5 TD
Brendan Smith, Soph., Seekonk – 575 yards, 6 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 571 yards, 8 TD
Ryan Barabe, Jr., Pope John Paul II – 497 yards, 5 TD

Receiving
Kevin Casey, Jr., Billerica – 309 yards, 2 TD
Jack Galvin, Sr., Lowell – 283 yards, 6 TD
Jeff Trainor, Soph., Billerica – 254 yards, 3 TD
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 252 yards, 7 total TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 244 yards, TD

Dual Threat QB*
Cameron McMillian, Sr., Cambridge – 397 passing yards, 437 rushing yards, 10 total TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 604 passing yards, 118 rushing yards, 7 total TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 571 passing yards, 99 rushing yards, 9 total TD
Tyler Bassett, Sr., Dracut – 355 passing yards, 312 rushing yards, 4 total TD
Kyle Dance, Sr., Latin Academy – 373 passing yards, 237 rushing yards, 10 total TD
*Not including teams who were idle last weekend.
**To qualify, quarterbacks must have rushing yards account for at least 15 percent of their total offensive production.

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