Boston High School: Cohasset

D6 final: Cohasset 35, Littleton 22

December, 6, 2014

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When you reach the grandest stage, mistakes appear to be magnified 100 times more than what you normally would see throughout the regular season. When it comes to championship tilts, any miscue, no matter how pertinent, is often the difference between winning and losing.

Littleton learned that the hard way on Saturday. The Tigers made enough of them to allow Cohasset to take control of things during the second half en route to a 35-22 triumph in the Division 6 Super Bowl held at Gillette Stadium.

After surrendering an early Littleton touchdown, the Skippers scored the next 35 points before the Tigers mustered up a bit of pride late by scoring a pair of touchdowns.

Cohasset (11-2) took control of things in the third quarter and for much of the fourth, earning its first postseason football title in school history. Last year, when these two teams faced one another here, it was the Tigers who came out on top, winning a shootout 52-35.

In the rematch, it was the Skippers who dominated both sides of the ball. They amassed 411 offensive yards, while limiting Litteton (10-2) to 296. Senior running back Cole Kissick, who missed most of the season due to a torn left meniscus, rushed for 187 yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Danny Axelson had a pedestrian 4 for 6 passing for 104 yards. The junior threw for one touchdown and ran for another. Junior Nick Hall also found the end zone twice, scoring on runs of 8 and 23 yards, respectively.

"You couldn't have written a script for this any better," Skippers head coach Peter Afanasiw. "When you lose Cole in the first game of the season you don't know where your offense is going to come from. But you get other guys who emerge. Guys like Nick, Jack (Donahue) and Danny, who just kept getting better and better. Our defense also did a great job today. For three quarters they shut Littleton down big time."

The Skippers went up by two touchdowns midway through the third quarter on a 25-yard pass from Axelson to Donahue, in which the tight end slipped behind the Tigers secondary for an easy six points. Littleton put forth a sustained drive on its ensuing possession, aided by two Cohasset fourth down penalties. But the drive stalled with quarterback Connor Bassett getting sacked by lineman Alex Norton on fourth down.

The Skippers took over and marched 62 yards on nine plays with Hall busting through for this second touchdown from 23 yards to make it 28-8 early in the fourth. Moments later, Bassett, who was playing with an injured leg suffered in the opening quarter, was picked off by defensive back Adam Benson giving the Skippers the ball on the Tigers 32. An option pass from Hall to Brett Dooley netting 28 yards, set up Axelson's 2-yard keeper into the end zone to extend Cohasset's advantage to 27 points with just over six minutes remaining.

"I feel Cohasset was the better team and controlled the line of scrimmage," said Littleton head coach Mike Lynn. "It felt like they could run the ball on us and we didn't have much success running the ball. As much as we like to pass it around, high school football is still a running game. Whoever controls the running game and the line of scrimmage usually wins."

To Littleton's credit, there was no waving of the white flag. A Bassett (14 of 27 for 168 yards, 2 interceptions) 8 yard touchdown toss to Chris Renaccio inched the Tigers a bit closer. Littleton then lined up for the on-side kick which proved successful after Elijah Henderson fell on it at the Skippers 49. Littleton converted the opportunity with senior back Elijah Pyram darting 21 yards up the middle for the score with 2:23 left. Pyram, the Tigers' top running threat, finished with 95 yards on 15 attempts.

"There was no quit in any of our guys," Lynn said. "We stormed back, got the on-side kick, to make it interesting. But unfortunately it was too little, too late."

A 20 yard scoring strike from Bassett to Renaccio (6 receptions for 82 yards) on the TIgers' opening possession had them in front 8-0, with Pyram running in the follow-up two point conversion. But Cohasset answered moments later with Kissick breaking loose through the gap 77 yards, putting the Skippers on the board down by a point.

"This wasn't about just coming to Gillette, but coming out of here with the championship trophy," said Kissick. "We didn't want anything else. We've been on a mission the whole year. My team allowed me to play again after the injury and I am forever blessed. It was a long road back. I'm so happy to be here and be able to complete the year off with a bang. This is my last game so I just went all out today and left everything on the field."

Early in the second quarter, Dooley stepped in front of a Bassett pass putting the Skippers's offense back in business. They moved it to the Littleton 33 before fumbling it away which was recovered by Steve Collins.

On Cohasset's next possession, Axelson completed passes to Dooley (31 yards) and Benson (26). Setting up shop on the Tigers 8, Hall, the up back, took the hand-off and ran into the end zone untouched, giving Cohasset the lead 14-8 with under 1:30 remaining before halftime.

"Nick is an absolute speciman," Afanasiw said. "He's wiry and is he is just a great athlete. He runs like he is 200 pounds and not 165 pounds."

Video: Breaking down D6 championship

December, 6, 2014
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Cohasset avenged last year's loss to Littlton in the Division 6 state championship game with a 35-22 win for the Skippers' first football title.

ESPN Boston High Schools editor Scott Barboza and John Sarianides break down the action:



Hall a jack of all trades for Cohasset

December, 6, 2014
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In their Division 6 final rematch with Littleton, Cohasset's Nick Hall did everything.

[+] EnlargeNick Hall
Brendan Hall/ Two-way senior Nick Hall did a little bit of everything for Cohasset in their D6 State Final win over Littleton.
The junior played five positions for the Skippers and proved to be the X-factor Cohasset needed to avenge last year's finals defeat.

“It's easy, but that's the role they need me at,” Hall said of playing across the field. “I'm here to play, here to win it for the team. I feel like overall I played pretty well. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough to get the win.”

Hall netted a hat trick of sorts on the offensive side of the ball. He rushed six times for 61 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the eventual game-winner with less than eight minutes left in the game, reeled in a pass for 22 yards, and threw a 28-yard pass to Brett Dooley to set up a touchdown. Hall's first touchdown put Cohasset ahead for good last in the second quarter.

Hall also provided key blocks from the fullback position to seal off edges to allow Cole Kissick to rush for a game-high 187 yards.

“He's an all-around amazing back,” Kissick said. “He could have done the same thing I did all game. I'm glad to have him in the backfield with me. Nick's an unbelievable runner. He's an absolute bull. We complement each other. He's got an arm like nobody else on the team. He passes, he runs it, he catches.”

Listed at 160 pounds, Hall played far bigger on the defensive side of the ball. Moving around the defensive backfield, as well as playing linebacker, Hall had a hand in numerous tackles throughout the game and registered an interception. He would have had a second pick but a penalty negated it.

Cohasset coach Peter Afanasiw heaped praise on Hall amidst the postgame celebration.

“He's everywhere, and he's my shortstop in baseball too,” Afanasiw said. “Not too mention he's a sectional-finalist wrestler. The kid is an absolute specimen. As they in The Replacements, he's wiry. He's a great athlete. Competitor, knows the game, knows where to be in space. He brings it. He runs like he's 200 pounds, not 165 pounds. He's a great, great football player.

“It's just head smarts. He never gets rattled. Doesn't matter if we're up or down. He's even tempered, never loses his cool, and that resonates with the rest of the team.”

D6 South: Cohasset 20, Millis/Hopedale 12

November, 15, 2014
MILLIS, Mass. – It has been a “Groundhog Day” of sorts when Millis-Hopedale and Cohasset have met over the past few years, and it’s the latter that has often been the beneficiary.

For the second consecutive year, the Mohawks took a lead into the fourth quarter of the Div. 6 South final and, again, the Skippers slipped away with a victory. The script nearly the same, just the scene altered.

With 8:33 remaining in the game, junior Nick Hall plunged up the middle for a 1-yard score and Henry Butenschoen booted the extra-point through to give Cohasset a 13-12 lead, the Skippers’ first of the night.

After forcing a pair of turnover on downs in a span of 2:56, Cohasset upped the ante when Tim Gillis rumbled into the end zone from 14 yards out to give Cohasset a 20-13 lead with 90 seconds to play.

The Cohasset defense bent to Matt Fogarty during the last drive, but stood their ground, as Nick Hall came up with the clinching interception in the end zone with just over 30 seconds remaining to clinch their second straight Div. 6 South title.

“The kids have been playing really well the last few months,” Cohasset coach Pete Afanasiw said. “It’s the most points we’ve given up in the last seven games but we knew what they were trying to do.“

The Skippers await the winner of Saturday’s Div. 6 North matchup between Mystic Valley and Cathedral for the right to represent Eastern Mass at Gillette Stadium.

Relying on defense: The Skippers entered Friday nights matchup on a six-game win streak thanks in large part to their defense. In the previous 20 quarters, Cohasset had yielded just 10 points and after a scoreless first quarter, pushed that mark to 21 quarters.

Millis-Hopedale pushed across two scores in the second quarter, the first a 27-yard rush up the middle by Josh Pierre-Charles and the second a 20-yard hookup between Fogarty and Brian Espanet with 52 second remaining.

But once the second half kicked off the Skipper defense rose to the occasion, keying on stopping Pierre-Charles. Pierre-Charles rushed for 90 yards on 16 carries in the first half, but only added an additional 18 yards in the second half and it showed in the Mohawks’ offensive production.

The Mohawks were forced to punt on their first two drives of the second half with neither drive crossing midfield. Their next two drives came to an abrupt halt as M/H turned the ball over on downs in their own territory.

“We just knew they were very physical and we had to stop the run,” Skipper quarterback Danny Axelson said. “Their running back is really good but once we stopped the run we were okay. We would rather play them in the air than on the ground.”

Offensive trickery: The only score the Skippers put up in the first three quarters was an ugly one. Axelson tossed a high-arching pass down the left sideline for Adam Benson who was trapped in double coverage. Axelson’s pass came up short but Benson doubled back to come up with the catch while the two Mohawks defenders collided and fell to the ground. Benson went untouched up the sideline for a 64-yard score.

With Cohasset trailing by six with just over nine minutes left, the Skippers dialed up some trickery. Nick Hall took the handoff from Axelson and raced laterally to the left side. He stalled, looked up and found a wide open Brett Dooley on the left sideline and got the ball down to the 1-yard line. The next play, Hall took the handoff up the middle to give Cohasset their first lead.

“I can’t take credit for that, that was my offensive coordinator and I give him full control of everything,” Afanasiw said. “He lets these guys play and one of the reasons we have so much success is because we let these kids have fun.”

Keying on Espanet: When Gillis found pay dirt with 1:30 remaining in the game to give the Skippers a 20-12 lead, many thought the game was over, but the Mohawks were still in striking distance.

Fogarty had to abandon Pierre-Charles and the running game with only one timeout in his back pocket and attack through the air, but Cohasset was ready for it.

Espanet was Fogarty’s favorite target on the day, hauling in six passes for 54 yards before the final drive and Afanasiw keyed on taking him away.

Adam Benson was in charge of covering Espanet all game long and was successful much of the night, but with 1:30 left, the Skippers made a change.

Afanasiw took Benson off man-to-man coverage and plugged in Hall, who was in bump-and-run coverage. Benson played safety over the top, heavily shadowing Espanet’s side.

“First off we wanted to make sure we got some sort of pass rush but also get five guys over the top,” Afanasiw said. “That last drive we had Nick (Hall) jam and trail and had a safety over the top just cause we knew they were going to {Espanet}.”

With Millis/Hopedale driving, looking at a first-and-10 at the Cohasset 34-yard line and just over 30 seconds left, the new look paid off.

Fogarty tried to force a ball to Espanert, who was draped in coverage from Hall and Benson and a jump ball in the end zone when in favor of the defending Hall.

“[Espanet] was having a great game and we were giving him stuff and I’m not usually a DB but I bumped him and then the ball came and I just took it down,” Hall said. “I was coming down with it.“

Cole Kissick on the horizon: Afanasiw concluded his postgame meeting with his players by telling them that when they take the field next that “every single player will be in uniform.” That includes senior captain Cole Kissick who went down in the opening week of the season and was thought to be lost for the season.

“As far I know, unless something happens between now and Tuesday, he’s about to turn that corner,” Afanasiw said.

The senior tailback was elected captain before the season began and rushed for 210 yards and four touchdowns in the Skippers opening-day victory over Norwell.

Kissick will no doubt add another dimension to the Cohasset backfield when the Skippers take the field for the Div. 6 state semifinal game next Saturday.

Cohasset 20, Millis Hopedale 12

Second Quarter:
M-H- Josh Pierre-Charles 27 rush (pass fail), 7:42
C-Adam Benson 63 pass from Danny Axelson (kick fail), 6:29
M-H-Brian Espanet 20 pass from Matt Fogarty (rush fail), :52

Fourth Quarter:
C-Nick Hall 1 run (Henry Butenschoen kick), 8:33
C-Tim Gillis 14 rush (Butenschoen kick), 1:30

A-B boys' lax finishes season at No. 1

June, 24, 2014
After capturing the program's first state title, Acton-Boxborough finishes the season in the top spot of our statewide MIAA boys' lacrosse Top 25 poll.

The Colonials finished the regular season at No. 1 and then went on to beat Duxbury, in overtime, to secure their first title.

The full poll can be accessed HERE.

CHAMPIONS REIGN: Medfield, which captured its sixth overall championship, was the highest ranking Division 2 squad, checking in at No. 3 after dispatching rival Hingham in the title game.

Cohasset, which interrupted Dover-Sherborn's run in Division 3, also hopped into the top 10, showing at No. 8.

NEW BLOOD: Five teams that made their Top 25 debuts this season made the cut in the final poll of the year, adding to the notion that parity might have finally come to Massachusetts lacrosse.

Bridgewater-Raynham makes its highest showing at No. 12 after reaching the Division 1 South quarterfinals. Shrewsbury (No. 15) and Westfield (16) both climbed into the poll -- with the Bombers making their debut in the final rankings -- after huge upsets in Division 2, coming over St. John's and last year's state champion Longmeadow, respectively.

Wakefield (24) and Melrose (25) also held it down on the back end after making their debuts in the final weeks of the regular season.

South Hadley's Fitzell takes MVP in All-American game

June, 17, 2014
BOSTON – Two days after the best teams in the state took to Boston University’s Nickerson Field, the best individuals took to the same field in the second annual All-American game.

Behind T.J. Fitzell’s (South Hadley) MVP performance (two goals, assist) and four goals a piece from Hunter Arnold (Acton-Boxborough) and Jay Drapeau (Westford Academy), Team Under Armour shook off the early rust and cruised to a 20-14 win over Team Cascade.

But when the final horn sounded, it wasn’t about the final score or the individual performances, but rather soaking in the environment and partaking in a great cause.

All proceeds generated from admission were donated to the Wounded Warrior project.

“It’s for a great cause, it was a great thing to be a apart of and it was at a great venue like BU,” Fitzell said. “To be able to come out and perform it’s quite exciting.”

“It’s a lot of fun, I met a lot of guys, I only knew three or four guys coming down here so I met a lot of guys from the area that have been playing lacrosse so it was a good time, I had a lot of fun.”

Team Cascade jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first quarter behind a pair of goals from James Burr (Middlesex) to go along with tallies from Danny Seibel (Belmont Hill) and Needham’s Mike Panepinto.

With 31 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, Kevin Bletzer (Catholic Memorial) scored the second Team Under Armour goal that was the front end of a 7-0 run, keeping Team Cascade off the scoreboard for nearly 12 minutes.

Bridgewater-Raynham’s Travis Reid scored back-to-back goals to end the drought and Team Cascade went into the half trailing by three.

Team Cascade cut the lead down to one with a 3-0 run on goals from Morgan Cheek (Nobles), Seibel and Panepinto but pulled away throughout the second half, and igniting an all-star game feel.

With time winding down, Drapeau scored the goal of the night going behind the back to beat Tyler Blaisdell (Thayer Academy) over his right shoulder for the score.

Arnold’s monster weekend: Hunter Arnold was one of three members of the Div. 1 Champion Acton-Boxborough Div. 1 championship team that took to the field Monday night, joining LSM Austin Wolf (Team Under Armour) and midfielder J.T. Kelly.

Arnold scored a goal in the Colonials’ 5-4 double overtime win over Duxbury and went off for another four goals Monday night on the same field.

“Overall the weekend was awesome,” Arnold recalled. “First the state championship game, there is nothing better, nothing better than beating Duxbury. Double-overtime and then today it was fun a lot of great guys out here.”

Arnold wasn’t the only one who took to the Nickerson Field again, as did Division 2 champion Medfield’s John MacLean, Brian Bissell, Blake Frasca, Matt Crowell and goalie Robert Treiber and Division 3 champion Cohasset’s LSM Tim Gillis.

Jelling together: It was the first time that many of these players had met, let alone played on the same team together. Before the game the players got a 20-minute warm-up to find their rhythm.

It didn’t take Team Cascade long to find their offensive stroke scoring four of the first five goals.

“We gelled together pretty quick after passing and catching drills we all came together,” B-R’s Reid said.

It took Team Under Armour a little longer to figure it out, but once they did, they were too much to handle.

“Well we were a little sloppy on offense so we slowed it down a little but got better shots and pumped in some goals,” Fitzell said.

Arnold added: “It was pretty easy to get along with these guys out here everyone knows how to play. We all know how to move the ball well, it was just a bit rusty to begin.”

Video: Recapping MIAA boys' lax championships

June, 15, 2014
BOSTON -- Another season of MIAA boys' lacrosse is in the books, with three state championship games played at Boston University's Nickerson Field on Saturday.

ESPN Boston correspondent Kelly Emerson has the highlights from all three while and is joined by editor Scott Barboza, taking a final look back at the season that was in this segment produced by Greg Story:

D3 boys' lax: Cohasset 10, D-S 9

June, 15, 2014

BOSTON – Good things happen to those who wait, and for the Cohasset athletic program, they have waited long enough.

Between last season’s lacrosse team and this year’s football and soccer programs, just about everyone had that taste of the championship game experience, but with no title to show for it.

But this time around and just hours after Cohasset’s graduation, the Skippers got the title that has eluded them so often, holding on to defeat Dover-Sherborn in a rematch of last years Division 3 championship game, 10-9, at Boston University’s Nickerson Field.

“We said last night raise your hand if you have been in a state championship game and just about every hand in the room went up so we said there is no reason to be nervous,” Cohasset coach James Beaudoin said.

Rather than feeling the pressure of having to deal with the possibility of another disappointing end, the Skippers looked at it as having experience on their side.

“I wouldn’t call it pressure and much as I would call it drive,” senior Colin Whelan said. “There are so many good athletes on this team, multi-sport of course. It just drove everybody, they needed that championship after getting shutout in the finals three times before that.”

For the 10 seniors that took the field, it was day they will never forget. Those seniors walked across the stage in their graduation ceremony early in the afternoon before making the short trip to capture a state championship.

“This whole day has been incredible,” Whelan said. “No better way to get prepared for a game like this and to be with my fellow teammates all day.”

Beaudoin added: “This senior class is terrific, they’ve earned it. They have been so close so often and knew this was their last shot.“

Dover-Sherborn held a 3-2 lead after the first quarter, behind a pair of beautiful goals from freshman Bailey Laidman and another from Chris Williams with 27 seconds remaining in the quarter. But that is where the Skippers dialed up their defense and scored all six goals that were scored in the second quarter.

Whelan scored a pair, to go along with goals from Andrew Benson, Will Golden, Cole Kissick and Jeff Powers to give the Skippers an 8-3 halftimes lead.

“We got up early and then the going got tough and Beaudoin called timeout,” Whelan said of the second quarter. “We realized this is our last shot, we don’t have another game after this, this is no practice Sunday and we just started clicking.”

Weathering the attack: Despite the determination that Cohasset had, they nearly let their championship slip away.

Cohasset found itself in penalty trouble in the third quarter, starting with a three-minute personal foul that awakened the Raider offense. Dover-Sherborn only pushed across one goal on the man-advantage, off the stick of Grant Gregory but another Skipper penalty allowed another goal from Gregory.

Kissick scored his third goal of the game to briefly stop the Raiders run, but the Raiders scored three more extra-man goals to end the quarter from Gregory and Williams (2) to but the lead down to one entering the final quarter.

“We were up 5-0 last game against them and the came back and tied 5-5 so we knew that they are capable of anything,” Beaudoin said.

Golden gave the Skippers a two-goal lead with a goal early in the four quarter and Cohasset slowly suffocated Dover-Sherborn out with domination of possession until one last-ditch effort from the Raiders with two minutes to go.

Williams netted a goal from Gregory with 1:33 remaining in the fourth and the Raiders won the ensuing faceoff to hold possession.

D-S got a handful of shots off in the final 90 seconds, none better than the look Tyler Mann had with four seconds left, facing a half-open net but his shot went wide.

“The way we coached was because of last years game,” Beaudoin said. “When you get that close and fall two goals short, you remember how they did it to you.”

Bring out the best: When Kissick steps onto the championship stage, his performance never goes unnoticed. Kissick led his offense to 10 goals in last year’s loss to Dover-Sherborn, to go along with a monster game at Gillette Stadium in their loss in the Div. 6 football state championship in December.

Saturday was no different, with the junior scoring three goals in the win.

It had been a frustrating postseason for Kissick, who was the main focus of their opponents game plan.

“Kissick has always been locked off, always gets the pole, which allows Danny (Axelson) and Will (Golden) and other guys to get a lot of our goals,” Beaudoin said. ”In last years title game it’s where a lot of his college looks came from and rightfully so.”

D3 South: Cohasset 15, Hanover 6

June, 5, 2014
COHASSET, Mass. – While Hanover lacrosse succeeded in taking Cohasset’s Cole Kissick out of the offensive equation, they failed to stop the lethal trio of Jeff Powers, Danny Axelson and Colin Whelan.

Kissick was limited to one goal on the afternoon, but Powers, Axelson and Whelan exploded for 14 of the 15 Skippers’ goals en route to a 15-6 win in their Div. 3 South semifinals. No. 2 seed Cohasset will advance to the finals where they will take on top-seeded Archbishop Williams on Saturday.

Cohasset held a three-goal lead at the half, but scored eight of the game’s last nine goals, coasting to the blowout win. Powers scored three of his five goals in the fourth quarter and Axelson and Whelan each scored twice in the third.

“Those three work very well together because they are similar body types and playing style,” second-year coach James Beaudoin said. “A lot of people try to lock off Cole Kissick and when they do that it allows other to step up.”

In the final home game of the season for the Skippers, it was only fitting that it eliminated Hanover from playoff contention. Two years ago Hanover ended Cohasset’s season in the quarterfinals and the Skippers wanted to avenge that postseason loss.

“They year before I was hired they lost to them in the playoffs and this year the hockey team got knocked out by Hanover so there are a few kids that cut some deep wounds in them,” Beaudoin said.

The tone for the second half was set as the final seconds ticked off the clock in the first half. The Indians went on a man-advantage in the final 10 seconds and wanted to end the half with possession but a huge hit from sophomore John Donohue ruined those plans. With three seconds left, Donohue knocked the ball loose and grabbed possession for Cohasset.

“That was huge,” Beaudoin said. “That rarely happens when someone is trying to hold it but Donohue is a division 1 talent as a sophomore and he’s dangerous.”

Hanover scored an early third quarter goal off the stick of Chris Rosinski, but the Skippers responded with a 6-0 run that put the game on ice.

The Indians’ offense was hindered by poor passing and countless turnovers in the second half while Cohasset kept netting goals.

“We switched up our offense but did not execute our offense at all today,” Hanover coach Paul Zaylor said. “ Too many turnovers, unforced turnovers and when you have those you don’t get enough shots and consequently we played defense, they got shots and we lose, it’s a very simple equation.”

Hanover put up a fight in the first half, tying the game early in the second quarter on a Rosinski goal but Cohasset closed out the quarter with a 4-1 run to take a 7-4 halftime lead.

“The ten seniors playing realized it was the last time they would play on this field,” said Beaudoin. “We had a perfect game plan for who we were playing and the kids capitalized on it.”

Memorable weekend for CM at Chowda Cup

April, 20, 2014
SCITUATE, Mass. -- Midway through Saturday afternoon’s Chowda Cup Championship game between Catholic Memorial and Scituate, the question wasn’t who as going to hoist the trophy after the game, but which Knights player would be awarded the tournament MVP.

Catholic Memorial opened up an 8-2 halftime lead over the Sailors, en route to a 14-8 victory and their first Chowda Cup title. For the Knights it was their fourth appearance in the title game since they joined the annual tournament five years ago.

Senior attackman Zach O’Brien scored six goals in the win and found the net 10 times during the duration of the tournament and seemed like a lock for the MVP award. But the superb play of Joe Zegarelli between the pipes earned him the award given to the top player in the two-day tournament.

“I wasn’t expecting to get the award,” Zegarelli said. “I thought it was going to go to Zach O’Brien, he really deserves it with all the goals he scored.”

Zegarelli didn’t see the quantity of shots that he did Thursday evening in the semifinal win over Cohasset, but for the sophomore goalie it was quality over quantity.

In the third quarter, Zegarelli robbed Scituate’s Frankie Ragge from deep down low in the zone to highlight to phenomenal day.

“We were focused on playing good solid one-on-one defense and I thought Zegs made the saves when he need to, really a team defense approach,” CM head coach Kevin Lynch said.

The Knights owned a heavily lopsided possession battle throughout the game and Colin Casey was the reason why. The freshman was 17-for-23 on faceoffs, giving his team a big possession advantage.

The beneficiaries of Casey’s big day on the faceoffs were O’Brien and Frank Cosolito, who combined for 10 of the Knights 14 goals.

“It really started with Colin Casey our freshman,” O’Brien said. “He was getting the ball to us on offense and constantly getting the win on faceoffs and getting the looks we needed and finishing.”

Scituate struggled throughout the game, looking like a shell of the team that took the field in Thursday night’s overtime win over Marshfield. The Sailors were sloppy with the ball, turning it over and airmailing passes through the zone.

“As good as we played against Marshfield, we just couldn’t get that same level of energy up,” Scituate head coach Mark Puzzangara said. “You can just tell when we needed that big play, it’s a dropped pass or a lost stick or throwing the ball out of bounds, we were just getting caught up in the moment.”

Thursday Thriller: The headliner of the Chowda cup semifinals was the matchup between No. 14 Catholic Memorial and No. 18 Cohasset. But it was the second game of the evening between No. 22 Marshfield and Scituate that stole the show.

With the Rams holding a 5-3 lead with less than two minutes remaining and Marshfield goalie Trevor Scollins pitching a shutout in the second half, the Rams were in prime position to advance to the title game.

But the Sailors’ Trevor Ciessau scored two goals in the final 1:45 of the game, including the equalizer with just two seconds left on the clock to force overtime.

Less than a minute into the extra period, Ragge netted the game winner from the right wing to advance the Sailors into the title game.

“We showed tremendous heart and courage and they really rebounded and rallied around each other and put together an effort we all knew they could,” Puzzangara said after Thursday’s game.

A coaching milestone: Lost in the wild finish of Scituate’s overtime winner was the milestone hit by Sailor coach Puzzangara. The win was No. 200 of his career was achieved in dramatic fashion.

“I think winning a state championship is pretty big but that was a heck of a game to get it in overtime against a team like that, its pretty sweet,” Puzzangara said.

Pair of heavyweights: The premier matchup of the day got the seventh annual Chowda Cup underway with the Knights pulling past Cohasset 10-8.

CM went on a 4-0 run in the third quarter to separate from the Sailors and advance to the title game.

Zack O’Brien was the star of the game, netting four goals in the win, but nearly missed out on the game, showing up right before the game started.

“I put Scituate High School in my phone and didn’t look at what state it was in, drove all the way to Rhode Island and saw the sign and had to turn around and showed up late,” O’Brien said of his blunder.

Cosolito scored three times and Gunnar McKenzie added two more goals in the win for Catholic Memorial.

Recap: No. 3 Duxbury 9, No. 18 Cohasset 5

April, 16, 2014
DUXBURY, Mass. – A swirling wind and – at times – a driving rain had both No. 3 Duxbury and No. 18 Cohasset out of sorts in Tuesday’s cross-division battle of South Shore powers.

But the Dragons were just a bit crisper, going on a 7-0 run to earn a 9-5 win over the Skippers.

“The weather made it a little bit sloppy and tough to handle the ball, but in the end we had plenty of chances to increase our lead and just didn’t seem to finish inside,” Duxbury head coach Chris Sweet said. “But that’ll come as the season goes on. We’re still trying to put together a complete game.”

The Dragons (5-1) surrendered the first goal, but ran off a string of seven straight goals, spanning into the third quarter. Although the Skippers (6-1) had a run of their own in the second half, whittling the lead down to three midway through the fourth quarter, Duxbury largely held them at arm’s length behind a strong defensive effort and, all the while, winning the time of possession battle.

“You want to shorten the passes up, protect the ball,” Sweet said of controlling the ball during inclement weather. “You’re not thinking about going to the goal so much, just taking care of the ball and usually when you do that, especially in these conditions, defenses usually get a little impatient and make a mistake.

“Then, it becomes obvious when to go to the goal.”

Despite their “impatience” with the ball, as Sweet termed it, the Dragons possessed for long stretches of the first half and took a 6-1 lead to the locker room. Brendan Burke paced Duxbury with three goals, while Trevor O’Brien and Wes Quinzani popped in two goals each.

The possession gap between teams was also a result of Dragons defensive effort however. Sweet lauded the trio of Hunter Marston, Victor Moitinho and Liam Strauss for keeping things clean out in front of goaltender Nick Marrocco.

“I love this defense,” he said. “Our poles that are out there are all very athletic, they’re fundamentally sound and they move the ball well on clears. They communicate well. And, now, they’re playing great.”

Tuesday’s game marked just the second home game for the Dragons against MIAA competition, after hitting the road to take on some of New York’s best (Pittsford, a 6-5 loss on April 5) and Connecticut state power Fairfield Prep in a 9-6 win on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the game marked a bit of aberration for the Skippers, who are considered to be among the favorites to win the Division 3 state title this year. Head coach James Beaudoin said Tuesday’s was his team’s sloppiest performance of the year. While he wasn’t about to blame the weather for the Skippers’ inability to hold onto the ball at times, Beaudoin found the time of possession disparity played a greater role in his team’s first loss on the year.

Despite a pair of second-half goals from Danny Axelson, Cohasset was unable find rhythm in its offensive sets – at least not early enough in the afternoon.

“We were using some new offensive sets and getting the ball to the attack because they didn’t have the ball for most of the game,” Beaudoin said. “That was one of the keys was attacking their defense, but we weren’t getting it into [the attack’s] hands.”

He added, “That was the frustration for us was that the middies were taking it down, they were gassed from playing defense and that one pass just wasn’t crisp enough.”

Recap: Rockland 65, Cohasset 63 (OT)

February, 15, 2014
ROCKLAND, Mass. -– With the scored tied and the last seconds of overtime ticking away against Cohasset, Rockland’s Matt Nicholson unleashed a potentially game-winning 3-pointer in front of a packed gym on Saturday afternoon.

The ball came down squarely on the rim, the result being a long rebound back out toward foul line. With the miss, it looked for sure that the Bulldogs would be headed to a second overtime in their final South Shore League contest of the year.

Sophomore John Furr had other ideas.

“I was out looking for a three-pointer on the right wing, and when I saw the shot going off the rim I knew it was heading toward a gap where no one was on the floor,” Furr said. “I just got there, grabbed the rebound and wanted to get a shot up and hoped it would drop.”

In one motion, Furr took off from behind the free throw line, caught the rebound and sent the ball back toward the basket before he landed. The ball arced high off the backboard, clanged off the front of the rim straight up in the air, came down on the back of the rim, and slowly rolled in, giving the Bulldogs a 65-63 win that caused the capacity crowd to rush the floor in celebration.

“I was prepared for double overtime, but I knew Matty shot that with enough time that we might be able to do something,” said Rockland coach Fred Damon. “I saw Johnny coming in from wing. I said ‘just get in and get one chance.’ We’ve been telling the kids all year if they get that chance to put that shot off the glass, because if you try to finesse it, it goes off the back rim and falls out.”

Before Furr’s game-winner could be possible, the Bulldogs (15-4) needed some late-game heroics just to force overtime.

Trailing by five with under two minutes to go, Rockland used a 3-pointer from Furr, who had a game-high 19 points, to cut the lead to two. Cohasset drew a foul on the ensuing possession, but connected on just one of two free throws.

On the other end, Rockland couldn’t get an open look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer, and instead worked the ball down low to Ian McDonald, who used a strong post up-and-under move to lay the ball and cut the lead to one.

Rockland was unable to come up with a steal on the inbounds pass, but quickly fouled. The Skippers (17-1) again went 1-for-2 at the line, leaving the Bulldogs trailing by two.

After a Rockland timeout, the Bulldogs set up their offense and worked the ball around looking for an open shot. As the clock ticked under five, Joe Kimball fired a pass to Andrew Frazer in the corner, just in front of the 3-point line.

Frazer went up with a jump shot, let it fly and saw it snap through the twine to the tie the game.

Nicholson ensured they’d head to overtime when he picked off Cohasset’s Christian Laettner-style heave attempt in a manner that would make Ed Reed proud.

“The last two minutes says a lot about this team,” said Damon. “We were down five, and we came back against a good team like that. You could feel the momentum change there.”

Skippers sailing despite loss: Despite being dealt its first loss, Cohasset looked like a team primed to wreak havoc in the D4 South Sectional Tournament. That was especially true in overtime, when Rockland rode the end of regulation to a quick five point lead in OT.

The Skippers pulled closer at the free throw line, just to see Rockland expand its lead up to six points with 1:01 left. On the very next possession up the floor, before the offense even got set, Chris Haggerty unfurled a deep 3-pointer to cut the deficit to just three.

A defensive stop gave Cohasset the ball with 35 seconds left.

Cohasset moved the ball around the perimeter, finally landing in the hands of defensive-minded Joe Buckley, who let a fade-away 3-pointer go near the corner. His shot ripped through the net to tie the score with just 15 seconds remaining in overtime.

“That’s why they were undefeated,” said Damon. “That team doesn’t quit. They just keep coming, and have a lot of different guys who can make big shots.”

That’s something Skippers coach Bo Ruggeiro is very proud of, especially when considering that Cohasset graduated 1,000 point scorer Shane Haggerty, as well as SSL All-Star point guard Christian Davis last year.

“Considering what we lost, I’ll take a 17-0 start. Now we’re 17-1, but we have sole ownership of the SSL title,” Ruggeiro said. “I’m really proud of these guys to come into an atmosphere like this, and play well out here today.”

Roundtable: Midseason Boys Hoop All-State

January, 25, 2014
Brendan C. Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


G – Tyler Nelson, Sr., Central Catholic
He’s always been one of the state’s premier shooters, but his game has evolved this season as he continues to fight through box-and-one's. He has grown up quite a bit in terms of toughness.

G – Dizel Wright, Sr., Putnam
One of the state’s best on-ball defenders and the humble kid on an otherwise very vocal team, he sets the tone at both ends of the floor for the state’s undisputed No. 1 team.

F – Tyonne Malone, Soph., Putnam
One of several prep school transfers that arrived with plenty of hype, the 6-foot-3 slasher has been an integral force on the wing for the Beavers. Long with plenty of athleticism to get to the rim at will, there’s a lot of upside to be excited about.

F – David Murrell, Sr., Putnam
It’s an MMA fight at times trying to battle on the boards with the Beavers, and the returning All-State forward sets the tone for one of the state’s best rebounding teams.

C – Anthony Green, Sr., North Quincy
One of the best revelations of the 2013-14 season, the late-blooming 6-foot-9 center has showed marked improvement from where he was at this time a year ago. And the Red Raiders have been a large benefactor.


G – Tommy Mobley, Jr., Newton North
Some folks would like to see him become more assertive on the glass, but there is no denying Mobley’s shooting ability. He might be the most automatic three-point marksman in Massachusetts.

G – Makai Ashton-Langford, Soph., St. Peter-Marian
If you haven’t seen him yet, you are missing out. He is the Guardians’ most talented lead guard since Naadir Tharpe, and has backed up the mound of hype behind his high-major potential in this first half of the season.

G – Aahmane Santos, Jr., Catholic Memorial
Santos returned from prep school a much more aggressive –- and visibly faster –- player. At times it seems like he is operating at a different speed than the other nine players on the floor, and that’s one of the bigger reasons why the Knights are averaging upwards of 86 points per game so far.

F – Asante Sandiford, Sr., New Mission
Franklin Pierce commit proved a lot to me with the way he battled one of the nation’s top big men, Karl Towns Jr., at the Shooting Touch Shootout. The Titans have been absolute piranhas on defense this season, with Sandiford at the forefront.

F – Tyree Robinson, Jr., Durfee
It’s been a few years since the Hilltoppers were this good, and I’m not sure how competitive they’d even be without landing this Notre Dame Prep transfer.


G – Giulien Smith, Jr., Catholic Memorial
Like seemingly a half-dozen other Knights, Smith can shoot it. But it’s his ability to create his own shot that makes him and Aahmane Santos one of the most dangerous backcourts.

G – Rocky DeAndrade, Sr., Mansfield
The Hornets started the season down three starters to injury, yet they haven’t skipped a beat. Credit that to DeAndrade, who has become faster after a diligent offseason.

G – Elijah Rogers, Sr., Brookline
You can make the case for Rogers to be a lot higher on this list. The Warriors had a tough start to the season, but they may have hit their stride. When Rogers is on, it is a spectacle.

F – Gary Clark, Jr., Everett
Arguably the best two-way player on one of the state’s most tenacious defenses.

F – Fred "Bam" Rivers, Sr., New Mission
This might be the Titans' best squad since 2010-11, and as the nickname implies, this fearless, wide-bodied 6-foot-4 post is one of the primary reasons. There isn't a player in Massachusetts he's afraid to make uncomfortable. Oh, and he can step out and shoot it, too.

Coach of the Year: Kevin Barrett, North Quincy
A few other names here could fit the bill, such as Mansfield’s Mike Vaughan, Fitchburg’s Jack Scott or North Andover’s Paul Tanglis. But a year ago at this time, Anthony Green was a timid kid who moved gingerly and couldn’t stay on the court without getting fatigued or racking up fouls. Now, he’s become the Raiders’ own “Nerlens Lite”, and the biggest reason for their 11-0 start. And while we’re at it, raise your hand if you'd heard of Eftham Butka at this time last year (Don’t lie). Now, he’s the Raiders’ most dangerous scorer. All of this speaks to Barrett’s commitment to player development, a trait that sometimes feels like a lost art in today’s AAU-ficated grassroots culture. That shouldn’t be overlooked.


Chris Bradley
ESPN Boston correspondent


G - Dizel Wright, Sr., Putnam
The most complete player on the state's most complete team. A built, athletic point guard who can guard a variety of positions and put up double-figure rebounding totals, Wright should be considered a serious contender for Mr. Basketball, as should these next four candidates.

G - Tommy Mobley, Jr., Newton North
The state's most lethal shooter has turned into one of it's best overall scorers. Mobley has lit some of the state's best teams up this year, averaging 20 points per game as Newton North has emerged as one of the best teams in Division 1.

G - Guilien Smith, Jr., Catholic Memorial
In terms of pure scoring ability, there may be no better player in the state than Smith. Smith has deep range on his three-point shot, the quickness to get to the hoop off the dribble, and now the upper body strength to finish. He's a big reason why CM is 12-1.

F - David Murrell, Sr., Putnam
Wright may be Putnam's best player, but Murrell is the glue guy for the state's number-one ranked team. Averaging double-figure points and rebounds, he makes for a superior duo with sophomore Tyonne Malone.

F - Anthony Green, Sr., North Quincy
North Quincy has been one of the state's most pleasant surprises this year, and their do-it-all 6-foot-9 center hes led them every step of the way. Several scholarship-level college programs and prep schools have shown interest in Green in recent weeks.


G - Makai Ashton-Langford, Soph., St. Peter-Marian
His 26 point outbreak against St. John's on Friday night is just another reminder why the 6-foot sophomore is considered to be one of New England's best talents. Ashton-Langford has been the guy who makes the Guardians go this year, averaging 17 points a game.

G - Aamahne Santos, Jr., Catholic Memorial
Santos has had several games where he he never reached double-figure scoring totals, yet he seems to have as much of an impact on a game as any point guard in the state. A super athlete who is also lightning-quick with the ball in his hands, Santos is the key behind Catholic Memorial's high-powered offense.

G - Tyler Nelson, Sr. Central Catholic
Much was expected out of Nelson this year, and for the most part, he has delivered for 11th-ranked Central Catholic. The Fairfield University commit has been the main focus of opposing defenses all year long, yet still manages to hit shots at a high clip.

F - Tyonne Malone, Soph., Putnam
Malone struggled at first to find his fit in an extremely talented Putnam rotation, but he has emerged as one of their best reliable players the past few weeks in wins over Woodstock Academy (Conn.), Springfield Cathedral, Springfield Central, and Northampton. A gifted athlete at 6-foot-3, Malone is already on the radar of several mid-major and high-major Division 1 programs.

F - Tyree Robinson, Jr., Durfee
The transfer from Notre Dame Prep has immediately helped turn things around at Durfee -- a team starving for a playoff appearance after several years of relative anonymity. A standout 6-foot-4 athlete who plays AAU for the Boston Amateur Basketball Club (BABC), Robinson's rebounding motor and elite athleticism have made him well worth the price of admission.


G - Elijah Rogers, Sr., Brookline
Rogers has been the catalyst all year long for Brookline, a team who is 7-3 and looking to build off of last year's playoff run. An athletic point who can also make plays for others, he has proven to be one of the top pure point guards in the state.

G - Erick Rosario, Jr., Lynn English
It has been on Rosario to do a lot of the heavy lifting offensively with counterpart Stevie Collins out injured. A quick, clever combo guard, Rosario has proven to be one of the state's best pure offensive threats--whether it's knocking down outside jumpers or finishing acrobatic lay-ups around the rim.

G - Ryan Boulter, Jr., Mansfield
The lone blemish on the Hornets' 12-1 record is Thursday's three-point loss to Hockomock foe Attleboro, and Boulter has been a big reason why. With star forward Brendan Hill out for the year, Boulter has manged to pick up a lot of the slack offensively for Mike Vaughan's Hornets.

F - Gary Clark, Jr., Everett
Everett has been one of the state's best teams, now at 10-0, and Clark's inside-out offensive attack has helped bring some balance to a high-scoring offense. Playing alongside a loaded Everett backcourt, Clark has excelled playing down low: rebounding at a high-rate and finishing shots in the paint.

F - Fred "Bam" Rivers, Sr., New Mission
Rivers may not look the part of a gifted athlete, but to his credit, he has proven just the opposite so far for Cory McCarthy's Titans. At 6-foot-4, Rivers has the foot speed to guard multiple positions, he has shown that he is one of the best rebounders in the state, and he can even stretch the defense with his feathery three-point touch.

Coach of the Year: Cory McCarthy, New Mission
With a few star players in Franklin Pierce-bound forward Asante Sandiford, sharpshooter Shaquan Murray, and do-it-all forward Fred "Bam" Rivers, McCarthy has been able to build around that trio with one of the state's deepest rotations and stingiest defenses -- giving up just 47 points a game. The 11-1 Titans are as tough an out as any team in the state and they appear to be the favorite statewide in Division 2 midway through the season. Catholic Memorial's Denis Tobin, St. John's Prep's John Dullea, and Mansfield's Mike Vaughan should all be in the conversation for this one, but at this point in the year nobody has gotten more out of their team than McCarthy.


John Botelho
ESPN Boston correspondent


G - Dizel Wright, Sr., Springfield Putnam
He’s been the best player on the best team in the state all year, and only seems to be getting better.

G - Tommy Mobley, Jr., Newton North
The junior is the best shooter I’ve seen this year, or in recent memory for that matter. Everyone know the ball is going to end up in his hands and still no one seems to be able to stop him. Has a shot to reach 1,000 points this year with another deep tourney run for the Tigers.

G - Aamahne Santos, Jr., Catholic Memorial
The leader of an explosive CM offense that leads the state in points, Sanots has done a little bit of everything for the Knights. Known for his premier offense, his defense might be even better as he’s caused fits for Catholic Conference point guards all year.

F - Fred "Bam" Rivers, Sr., New Mission
He’s capable of scoring, rebounding, or playing solid defense on other bigs down low for No. 3 New Mission. Combining with Shaquan Murray and Asante Saniford, Rivers has helped make Mission the team to beat statewide in division two.

F - Ryan Boulter, Jr., Mansfield
Unbeaten Mansfield has looked unstoppable early on despite losing returning All-Stater Brendan Hill for the year to a knee injury, and Boulter might be the biggest reason why. The junior has led an explosive offense -- averaging more than 17.6 per game on a team with four guys in double figures


G - Tyler Nelson, Sr., Central Catholic
Pushing him to the second team was one of the hardest calls to make, but I think it speaks more to the impressive guard play statewide this season than anything else. Nelson is one of the most dynamic players in the state, and a second half surge could push him onto the first team.

G - Rocky DeAndrade, Sr., Mansfield
Second for the No. 2 Hornets in scoring behind Boulter, DeAndrade is capable of taking over games and can score from anywhere. He’s poured in over 16 per game so far as the Hornets have cruised to an 11-0 mark.

G - Elijah Rogers, Sr., Brookline
The returning All-Stater has taken his game to another level this year, guiding an offense that can run with anyone. He went off for 28 points to hand Bay State rival Newton North it’s only loss, and finding a player in the state who elevates his game for big opponents would be a tough challenge.

F - David Murrell, Sr., Putnam
Returning All-Stater gives Putnam arguably the best 1-2 punch in the state with Wright, and is a major reason they’ve been atop the rankings all season. He was tremendous at the Hoop Hall Classic last week, netting 27 and grabbing 12 rebounds against rival Springfield Central before going off for 15 points and 15 rebounds against defending Connecticut Class L champ Woodstock.

C - Obi Obiora, Sr., Brookline
The big man averaged nearly a double-double a year ago, and looks like he’s headed for one this season. A total game changer on the defensive end, he’s also capable of taking some focus off of Rogers on offense.


G - Jack Loughnane, Soph., BC High
His offensive game is an impressive one, and he’s among the best 3-point shooters in Eastern Mas. He’s the catalyst for the Eagles’ offense, and is a major reason they’re ranked No. 10 in the state.

G - Markus Neale, Sr., Dorchester
The Bears don’t have much in the way of height, but Neale plays taller than his 6-foot-2 frame would suggest. He’s a playmaker on both ends of the floor, can score from beyond the arc or by going to the hoop, fights for rebounds and bolsters an athletic Dorchester defense.

G - Ryan Roach, Sr., Cardinal Spellman
A Stonehill commit, Roache has been tasked with running a Cardinals offense that features several players who would be the “go-to” guy on a lot of teams. None of the Cardinals are averaging crazy point totals, but the team is unbeaten in league play. Their only losses have come against Mansfield, Franklin and No. 24 St. Bernard’s.

F - Matt Nicholson, Sr., Rockland
Tyler Gibson swallowed up a ton of the publicity for Rockland a year ago, but Nicholson gave the Bulldogs a second very good scoring option. This year, with Gibson and Bryan Tavares graduated, Nicholson has been tasked with being the guy for Rockland, and he’s delivered to the tune of 22 points and eight rebounds per game for the 7-3 Bulldogs.

C - Anthony Green, Sr., North Quincy
The 6-foot-9 big man for the unbeaten Red Raiders makes his biggest impact in something that isn’t quantifiable through statistics, as the number of possessions he changes on the defensive end is staggering. Coach Kevin Barrett said earlier this year that he was blocking seven shots per game during the tourney last year, and altering at least as many. That means he’s single-handedly effecting the outcome of more than 10 possessions per contest, and that doesn’t include the way the rest of the Red Raiders defense can play in the faces of their opponents, knowing he’s back there as a last line of defense.

Coach of the Year: Bo Ruggiero, Cohasset
An argument could be made for plenty of guys this year, and people like Cory McCarthy at New Mission and Mike Vaughn at Mansfield (being unbeaten despite losing Hill is pretty impressive) certainly deserve some consideration. That said, Ruggiero has put together one of his finest coaching performances, which is saying a lot when you consider he’s got more than 500 career wins on the sidelines. The Skippers graduated a 1,000 point scorer a year ago in Shane Haggerty, and lack a star to lean on this season. Guys like Chris Haggerty, Rocco Laugelle, Henry Brown and Joe Buckley have just come together to play good fundamental hoops. They’ve gone all in on defense, and are allowing a South Shore League best 39 points per game this year. At 10-0, they have to be considered among the favorites, if not the favorite, to capture the MIAA Div. 4 crown this year.

Top 10 Plays from Super Saturday

December, 10, 2013
Saturday’s inaugural MIAA Football State Championships at Gillette Stadium crowned victors in six divisions, which meant plenty of highlight reel-worthy plays were jam-packed into the day. Here are my Top 10 plays from the weekend:

(Video clips courtesy of

Honorable Mention –- Rufus’ Rumble
Glad to see we’ll have another year of Bishop Fenwick running back Rufus Rushins, because the junior is a lot of fun to watch when he gets a full head of steam downhill. The Crusaders shut out Northbridge, 28-0, for the D5 state title, thanks to Rushins’ 158 yards and three scores on 15 carries.

10. Follow Your Blockers
Dennis-Yarmouth’s L.K. Metz follows every fundamental rule here as he jukes and jives his way to a very nice kick return, taking a Doherty squib kick all the way down to the Highlanders’ 6-yard line to set up an eventual score. Doherty went on to win the Division 4 state championship, 28-26.

9. Ball Hawk
Mansfield’s Aurian Dawkins shows great awareness and ball instincts on this end zone interception, jumping a would-be TD throw to St. John’s receiver Mike McGillicuddy and laying out for the pick. Mansfield doubled up the Pioneers, 28-14, to win the D2 state title.

8. Bassett Hounds the Skippers
Littleton running back Travis Bassett had the best statistical performance of the day, carrying 22 times for 263 yards and four TDs, and adding a 29-yard catch off a screen pass for a fifth TD, and adding two interceptions, as the Tigers routed Cohasset 52-35 for the D6 state title. There are plenty of highlight plays for Bassett, but my personal favorite is this 78-yard scamper. Just look at the afterburners he puts on this one.

7. Isaac to the Post
Boston College commit Isaac Yiadom had a big day on both sides of the ball for Doherty, including this 64-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Yiadom finished with seven catches for 137 yards and a TD.

6. D’Andre Dumps ‘Em
UNH commit D’Andre Drummond hits the R3 button on this 52-yard touchdown run for Central Catholic, leaving one unfortunate Xaverian defender in the turf. The Raiders doubled up Xaverian, 34-17, for the D1 state title.

5. Run, Rocco, Run
Cohasset’s Rocco Laugelle is off and running on this 77-yard interception return for a touchdown. Watch as he slips away from about five tacklers en route to paydirt.

4. Poetry in Motion
Doherty QB Luke Brennan (12 for 20, 259 yards, 2 TD) threw a couple of pretty balls on the afternoon. But none were prettier than this 41-yard bomb to Alfred Adarkwah, plopping the ball safely into the lanky senior’s bread basket, right over the top of double coverage.

3. Cody’s Crackback
As the title implies, Central Catholic receiver Cody Demers laid one of the most vicious sticks of the day, this crackback block springing loose quarterback Matt Milano to toss a 31-yard touchdown pass to Cam Manning. This play made it 7-0 Raiders, and effectively set the tone for the evening.

2. Jump Ball
We couldn’t get our hands on video of this impressive TD catch by Tewksbury’s Kevin Dick, late in the Redmen’s 42-14 rout of Plymouth South for the D3 state title. But it probably works out better that way, as photographer Eric Adler passes along a frame-by-frame account of the grab.

1. Megatron
Simply put, Demers was just awesome on Saturday. This TD catch permeates those sentiments.

D6 final: Littleton 52, Cohasset 35

December, 7, 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- No matter what Travis Bassett does in life from here on out, he will forever be regarded as a hero in his hometown.

The Littleton High senior tailback was virtually and un-stoppable force, scoring five touchdowns (4 on the ground) in leading the Tigers to a wacky and wild 52-35 triumph over Cohasset High in the MIAA Division 6 Super Bowl played today at Gillette Stadium.

The combined 87 points put up by both teams is a new Super Bowl record. The old mark of 84 points was set during the 2002 Division 3 Eastern Mass. title tilt between North Attleborough and Swampscott.

Bassett finished his brilliant career on a high note, rushing over and through the Skippers for 263 yards. He also had a 29-yard touchdown reception. For the season, Bassett finished with 1,288 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns. Fellow teammate and quarterback Alex McLaughlin was also instrumental in this victory having passed for 147 yards on 5 of 9 completions and two touchdowns. He also gained 78 yards on the ground, finding the end zone once.

"I've dreamed of playing in this stadium my whole life and to win the first state championship game every in the history of Massachusetts is an unbelievable feeling and I can't wait to go home and enjoy it with my family and friends," said Bassett. "The key was our offensive line. They opened up some big holes for me today and allowed me to get some big yardage. At the start of the season we all felt this was possible but we knew we needed to take things one game at a time. Now, to win a state championship, it is huge for our entire town."

[+] EnlargeBassett
Phil Garceau for ESPNSenior running back Travis Bassett had a field day (22 carries, 263 yards, 4 TDs) as Littleton captured its first state title in school history.
Littleton (13-0) blew out to a 22-point first-quarter lead before the Skippers knew what hit them. But credit Cohasset (11-2) for not tossing in the towel. They were able to land a couple of jabs of their own to get to within striking distance on a couple occasions.

However, as it was proven throughout this contest, the Tigers' offense was too much for the Skippers to maintain. After two failed attempts to win Super Bowls in 2008 and 2009, this marks Littleton's first football championship, and is the first state championship for this school in any sport.

Littleton scored on its opening three possessions putting Cohasset, playing in its first Super Bowl, into an early deficit. Bassett was the main perpetrator in all three scores. On the Tigers' initial drive of the game, Bassett took an inside hand-off and bolted 48 yards for the score. With Peter Murphy's ensuing conversion carry, Littleton led 8-0. A McLaughlin interception on the Skippers opening possession led to a Bassett 3-yard blast into the end zone, followed up by his own conversion carry, to put the Tigers up by 14. With just over a minute remaining in the first quarter, Littleton was on the move again. Starting from their own 15, McLaughlin sailed a pass to wide receiver Brad Magnuson good for 38 yards. Five plays later, from the Cohasset 29, McLaughlin lofted a screen pass to Bassett, who proceeded to rumble down the right sideline and into the end zone for a 22-point advantage.

"Travis is such a special player for us," said Littleton head coach Mike Lynn. "We rode him today. Every time he got the ball something great seemed to happen. We had some plays we wish we could have back but in the end it doesn't matter. But we had some takeaways as well and I felt our kids made plays when they needed to."

Nobody assumed the Skippers would roll over in this one. This team did not get this far without having its share of talented athletes too. With an offense that entered with a 35 points-per-game average, it was safe to assume Cohasset would eventually shift itself out of neutral. At the start of the second quarter, the Skippers did just that. Senior quarterback Chris Haggerty took off on a 44-yard touchdown run to finally get on the board. But Littleton answered that score immediately. On the opening play of their next possession, Murphy hauled in a 52-yard scoring strike from McLaughlin putting the Tigers ahead 30-6, after Murphy added the conversion run with 9:35 left before halftime.

"Our objective was to come out and try to score quick and fast," said McLaughlin, a senior. "We came out in the second half and then tried to pound the ball and eat time off the clock. We did both of those things very successfully. Jumping out to a 22-0 lead I think kind of psyched them out a little bit. They didn't know what was coming. It was a big thing for the mind game. Once we got our ground-and-pound game going we knew we couldn't be stopped."

Following the Tigers score, Cohasset answered back two minutes later. A 38-yard catch by receiver Jack Hoffman led to a Haggerty 1-yard plunge over the goal line to make it 30-12. For nearly the remaining seven minutes of the half, both teams would trade a couple of turnovers each. However, it was Littleton's second miscue, which had Cohasset trailing by only 10 points at the break. With Littleton marching inside the Cohasset 30, Skippers' defensive back Rocco Laugelle came up huge after stepping in front of a McLaughlin pass intended for Bassett and returning it 75 yards for the score. Cole Kissick's conversion run only had Cohasset down 30-20 at the break.

The Skippers started off the second half with the ball and obvious momentum. If there was ever a time to set Littleton back on its heels, this was it. Cohasset managed to reach the Tigers' 37 before momentum slipped away after Haggerty (14 of 26, 207 yards) was picked off by sophomore Connor Bassett. That would eventually lead to his older brother taking an inside reverse handoff up the gut 76 yards to extend Littleton's margin to 38-20, with Murphy adding another conversion rush. Nevertheless, the Skippers continued to put up a good fight. On their next series, Haggerty completed passes of 19 and 26 yards, respectively, before plowing over the goal line from a yard out to draw his club to within 11 at 38-27 with 4:28 to go in the third.

Littleton, however, never flinched. Averaging a solid 41 points-per-game, the Tigers offense stuck to a belief that they could score each time they had the football. After the Skippers' score, two Bassett carries netting 36 yards set the stage for his 12-yard carry around right end that barley got inside the pylon, increasing Littleton's advantage to 46-27 with 1:07 remaining in the third.

"When you can't stop your opponent it puts you in a very difficult situation," Skippers head coach Pete Afanasiw said. "I have to give Littleton a whole lot of credit. They're offense is very strong. For us being a school that has fewer than 400 students and to get to this stage, I just give my guys a lot of credit. I don't think we lost the game, I just think Littleton made more plays than we did. They played a heck of a game and deserve it."

As offensive-minded the third quarter was, so too, was the fourth. Midway through the period, Cohasset senior wide out Liam Burke secured an 11-yard Haggerty pass from his knees in the back of the end zone. Kissick's proceeding conversion carry had the Skippers down 46-35. With still a glimmer of hope, all of that came apart on the Tigers' ensuing possession. Getting great field position to begin the drive from the Cohasset 40, Littleton took advantage of the short field with McLaughlin rolling in from 12 yards out for the game's final score. For the game, Littleton finished with 505 yards (358 on the ground), while Cohasset closed with 411 yards.

"In our previous two Super Bowl appearances we were more of a power team then, really big and physical" added Lynn. "This particular team it is athleticism which has carried us. We've gotten better all year but overall it has been a season of big-time athletes making big-time plays. It's been pretty special for sure."