Boston High School: Dale Olmstead

Recap: East Bridgewater 28, No. 25 Millis/Hopedale 21

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
12:11
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BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- When the Millis-Hopedale football team played against East Bridgewater at Bridgewater Raynham on Saturday, just about every player looked ready for a knockdown, drag out kind of tussle, in which they peppered each other with jab after jab looking for the eventual win.

East Bridgewater's Owen Harrington looked more the part of a prize fighter with knockout power as the Vikings slipped past the Mohawks, 28-21.

The Mohawks landed the first blow, marching nine plays in just under five minutes to score on the opening drive. After Chris Ahl opened the game with a 24-yard return, Millis/Hopedale used a steady running attack to grind down the field. Quarterback Sean Heffernan threw his first pass of the day on a third-and-goal from the three, connecting with Joe Caretta for a touchdown.

East Bridgewater didn't need nearly the time of possession, nor total plays to tie things up, because Harrington took the ensuing kickoff 83 yards straight up the middle of the field for the game-tying score.

"That was an absolute backbreaker for us," said Mohawks coach Dale Olmstead. "We had a great drive moving down the field to score, and we really thought we had punched them a bit, but he punched right back."

M/H used the remainder of of the first quarter to set up its next score, as they put together another marathon drive, finishing the quarter still with the ball - meaning EB didn't run an offensive play in the first.

Heffernan connected with Sager Dasai for a 24-yard touchdown pass to open the second quarter, on the 10th play of the drive.

After a touchback, EB quarterback Mike Kelly authored an impressive response for the Vikings. For the next 8:30, the Vikings matriculated the ball toward the other end, finally hitting pay-dirt on a 2-yard dive to cap a 15-play drive.

Kelly finished the day with 50 rushing yards on seven carries, and was a perfect 2-for-2 passing, including an impressive 16-yard heave to Jake Pierce with just two minutes to go on a long third down.

"Mike ran the offense very well, I'm very happy with him," EB head coach Shawn Tarpey said. "He did just what I wanted him to do - take what they give you, make a couple plays in the pass game, get north and south and don't try to do much. He did all of that today."

The Mohawks maneuvered the ball back into the Vikings' red zone before halftime, falling short of a score when the drive halted at the 9-yard line. When the teams reached the locker room, the score was knotted at 13 and M/H had out-gained EB, 188-70, on offense.

Harrington made the yardage look a lot more even, while unevening the scoreboard on just the second play of the second half. He took a handoff toward the right hash mark, and by the time he hit the line of a scrimmage a big hole had formed. He plunged through and never looked back, racing 61 yards for a score.

Even the heavy hitting of Harrington couldn't knock off M/H right there, and the Mohawks followed with another impressive and lengthy drive that culminated in a score by Ahl. A 2-point conversion was successful, and M/H grabbed a 21-20 lead.

After the kickoff, Harrington needed just one play to remind everyone what he was capable of. He dashed 63 yards to the Vikings back ahead, this time for good. A 2-point conversion made it a seven point game.

"We've had some stud players, and maybe Owen is going to be one of those guys," Tarpey said. "I'm not going to anoint him that just yet, but he had a great game. The thing is, he's worked his butt off and he's really wanted this. I can't say enough about him."

EB sealed the win in the final minute when Sean Pierce, who had a game-high nine tackles, intercepted a pass just past midfield. A knee by Kelly ran the remaining seconds off the clock.

Harrington finished with 166 rushing yards on 16 carries, and had 100 return yards to go with his three scores in the win against a team led by Jon Baker, a supremely talented lineman headed for Boston College next year.

"Our O-line was pretty amazing, especially on how they handled Baker. I just saw big holes and went right through," Harrington said. "I'll definitely be thanking the offensive line for what they did out there."

Recruiting Notes: All eyes on Millis' Baker

October, 16, 2012
10/16/12
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U.S. Senator John Kerry used to live in Millis, which is also known for the Millis Lights and a ginger ale company now known as Canada Dry.

The next big thing from Millis? It will likely be Jon Baker, a 6-foot-3, 300-pound two-way lineman who plays for the Millis-Hopedale co-op program.

Baker, a junior, picked up a scholarship offer from the University of Massachusetts –- his first offer -– last May. Offers from Boston College and Connecticut came shortly thereafter.

“Harvard has also offered him in the way that they can,” Millis-Hopedale coach Dale Olmstead said. “They'll support his application is the way they put it.”

Baker has been a varsity starter since the first day of his freshman season. He played center that year, but has since been moved to guard. He lines up at noseguard as well.

“All four of the schools are great schools,” Baker said. “Obviously education is important, but so is football. Right now everything is still an option. It's still pretty early.”

According to Olmstead, Baker is being recruited to play one of the interior offensive line positions. Baker said he would prefer to play offensive line, but hasn't ruled out playing defense in college either.

“BC has shown the most interest,” Olmstead said. “Coach [Sean] Devine is pretty thorough. They want to make him their center. They want to make him their poster child because he's a 4.0 student interested in pre-med.”

Baker, 17, popped on the radar after a strong showing at BC's camp last summer. That's where the Harvard coaches first noticed him.

Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid is scheduled to be at Millis-Hopedale on Monday. Michigan and Stanford are among the other schools that have shown strong interest. He attended a camp at Virginia this summer, and visited Michigan as well.

“Michigan [assistant coach Curt Mallory] has been by three times,” Olmstead said. “They're very interested in him. Stanford is a strong academic school with good football, so that might be a good fit. After the season I expect every school in the country to come calling.”

Baker said he has no timetable for committing to a school, but added that he would prefer to have the decision made before the start of his senior season.

“That would be nice,” he said. “I'll make it when it feels right. There's no hurry.”

Mass. appeal: No one can accuse the University of Massachusetts of ignoring local talent. The Minutemen extended an offer to St. John's Prep junior running back Jon Thomas on Tuesday night. Thomas ran for 233 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-8 victory over St. John's (Shrewsbury) last weekend.

Five New England players from the Class of 2013 have committed to UMass: quarterback Todd Stafford (The Brunswick School, Greenwich, Conn.), defensive end Peter Ngobidi (Catholic Memorial), defensive tackle Terrel Correia (Nantucket), offensive tackle Tyson Henderson (St. George's School, Middletown, R.I.) and defensive end Cole Ormsby (Windsor High School, Windsor, Conn.).

UMass has made an offer to at least one Class of 2013 player in four of the six New England states.

Footnotes: Twelve players from Connecticut (Class of 2013) have committed to Division I schools. Massachusetts currently has eight Division I commitments in the Class of 2013...The highest-rated uncommitted player from New England is Tabor Academy's Tevin Montgomery, a three-star defensive tackle who has narrowed his choices to Boston College, Vanderbilt and Virginia...Three-star wide receiver David Coggins (Sacred Heart, Waterbury, Conn.) said Massachusetts, Stony Brook, Temple and Illinois are the schools showing the most interest. Coggins decommitted from Boston College last month.

Recruiting information regarding high school or prep school players in New England can be sent to Roger Brown at rbrown@nhfootballreport.com.

BC offers Millis/Hopedale's Jon Baker

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
10:59
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Millis/Hopedale head coach Dale Olmstead told ESPNBoston.com this afternoon that Boston College has extended a scholarship offer to sophomore two-way lineman Jon Baker, making that his third offer in the last month.

UMass was the first to offer the 6-foot-4, 305-pounder last month. UConn was the second to offer Baker, this past Tuesday.

At the Massachusetts State High School Football Coaches Association's annual combine last weekend at Gillette Stadium, Baker told ESPNBoston.com that he plans on participating in camps this summer at Virginia, Boston College, Wake Forest and possibly Michigan.

Notes from Mass. HS football combine

May, 7, 2012
5/07/12
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -– The Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association put on their annual scouting combine for rising seniors this afternoon at Gillette Stadium.

Some notes and observations on the happenings abound:

Baker on the Rise: Millis/Hopedale sophomore lineman Jon Baker is quickly rising on the recruiting radar both locally and nationally, not just for his imposing physicality in the trenches, but for his demeanor off the field as well. Coaches rave about his maturity; with the media, he is typically cordial and pointed in his answers.

But this question has him pausing for a moment, weighing over the right words to say: How would you describe yourself as a player?

“He’s thinking, so that’s a good thing,” chuckles his head coach, Dale Olmstead, just a few feet behind him. “Listen, I love seeing him sweat, because he does so many things so well. Now to see him squirm like this, I’m enjoying that.”

Finally, Baker begins, “I guess I’m physical…I like to hit. I like to pull. Move, block, you know, linemen stuff.”

These days, it’s hard to tell what’s the more impressive story coming out of Millis’ program these days: the Mohawks’ turnaround under Olmstead, capped with an appearance in the Division 4 playoffs last fall; or that out of such a small school with roughly 150 boys to pick from, this 6-foot-4, 305-pounder already holds a scholarship offer from one Division 1 school (UMass) and building varying degrees of interest from a score of others (Michigan, Viriginia, Boston College, Maryland, UConn, Stanford).

Wearing his frame well and with plenty of upside, Baker was named a Tri-Valley League All-Star in 2011, and will figure to rack up plenty more hardware over the next two seasons.

Athletically, he is quite impressive. He runs close to a 5.1-second 40-yard dash, benches over 400 and squats over 500. At the combine, he did 32 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press, the most out of any of the 300-plus participants.

As it currently stands, Baker said he will visit camps this summer at Virginia, BC and Wake Forest, with Michigan a possibility as well.

“It’s exciting definitely, just to know schools like that are interested in me,” Baker says quietly. “It’s a good feeling.”

Mo Carries, Mo Passes? Xaverian’s Maurice Hurst Jr., an ESPN Boston All-State selection last fall, was on site to support his teammates, but did not participate in drills. That didn’t stop the 6-foot-2, 290-pounder from stretching out with others during warm-ups and doing a few handstands.

You can place the big guy in the category of locals that have seen their stock take a meteoric rise, at least by Massachusetts standards. Like Catholic Memorial stars Armani Reeves and Cam Williams last year, and like Everett offensive tackle John Montelus this spring, Hurst has at least a dozen offers from Division 1 schools, including Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, UConn, Maryland, Nebraska, Missouri, North Carolina, BC and UMass.

“It’s been pretty hectic,” Hurst said of the last few months. “A lot of schools have contacted me, and then all the fans, everyone just trying to make me make a decision as soon as possible.”

Hurst attended Ohio State’s spring game last month, and has also taken unofficial visits to Virginia, North Carolina, Duke and NC State. He says he won’t be making any decision until after he has visited Michigan and Michigan State, dates for which haven’t been planned yet.

You can attribute part of the sudden rise in Hurst’s stock in one impressive touchdown run against St. John’s of Shrewsbury last fall. Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson typically pairs Hurst with tailback Hunter Taute in the backfield when in goal line and short-yardage situations. In this particular run, Hurst lined up at tailback, trucked a Pioneers defensive back and reeled off a 75-yard touchdown run in Vince Wilfork-like fashion.

Hurst made our All-State Team last season as a defensive tackle, and that will be his assignment at the next level. But six months after that posterizing run, Hurst is getting giddy talking about learning the passing tree.

That’s right, the big guy will be in 7-on-7’s this summer. Better yet, there’s a chance we could see him catching passes out of the backfield come the fall.

For now, though, Hurst will focus on improving his speed and conditioning – “A LOT of conditioning,” he adds.

Eyes on Chuddy: Out of all the line prospects in this Class of 2013, Dighton-Rehoboth’s Chuddy Nwachukwu might be the one with the most untapped potential.

For one, he is a legit 6-foot-7, and the younger brother of Mary Nwachukwu, currently a 6-foot-2 basketball center at St. John’s University. Chuddy went through some dominant stretches during the season for the Falcons, but also played at as much as 345 pounds.

Head coach Dave Driscoll says Chuddy, who was not present at the combine, has slimmed down to about 310 pounds. Chuddy has been working out five days a week with Greg Homel, a trainer at UMass-Dartmouth who has also helped develop former Dartmouth High standout and Minnesota Vikings running back Jordan Todman. All of Chuddy’s times, Driscoll says, have gone down, while “his agility has gone up.”

“He’s going in the right direction,” Driscoll said. “He is going to have to show D1 coaches that he is someone who is going in the right direction, and someone they can mold into what they want.”

In the meantime, as Driscoll alluded to, the Division 1 suitors are keeping tabs. NC State told Driscoll they are looking for three tackles for the 2013 recruiting class, while UConn told Driscoll they are in need for “quite a few” offensive linemen. Penn State, Iowa, Boston College and UMass are also showing varied degrees of interest.

Garcia A Sleeper? Legendary former Leominster coach John Dubzinski was seen walking around the Gillette turf this afternoon, but he wasn’t there to just catch up on old times. The names John, Walt and Mike Dubzinski are all household names in Central Mass., and now that coaching tree has extended into the Boston area.

John Dubzinski is now an assistant coach for his son, John, who is going into his second season as the head man for Arlington High. The Spy Ponders went 3-8 last season, and have struggled for most of the last two decades, but are on the up and up under this new regime.

And better yet, they might have one of the more underrated talents around.

Matt Garcia stars at both running back and linebacker for the Spy Ponders, and has been picking up interest from UMass and New Hampshire as of late. You have to think back to Liam Ezekiel, a former Buffalo Bill and all-time great at Northeastern, for the last time Arlington sent a linebacker to the Division 1 ranks. But Garcia certainly passes the eye test right now.

Wildcat Pride: Several players from the Gardner High squad were donning t-shirts with the score of their 2011 Thanksgiving game with archrival Oakmont Regional across the front – for the unfamiliar, that reads “Gardner 21, Oakmont 0”.

Full disclosure time. I’m an Oakmont alum, and in my three years on the Spartans’ varsity sideline we never lost to the Wildcats – including twice on their turf, Watkins Field. And if I’m not mistaken, we still hold a 2-to-1 advantage in overall wins in this series, arguably one of the most heated rivalries in Central Mass.

Still, not cool fellas...

Millis OL/DL Jon Baker gets first FBS offer

April, 11, 2012
4/11/12
12:17
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Millis/Hopedale coach Dale Olmstead recalled Jon Baker's first varsity action a year and a half ago, starting at center as a freshman for the Mohawks, and reflected on a 250-pound kid throwing both hands in the air and letting out a howl as he got down in his stance.

A year and a half later, Olmstead sees a kid who shows up at UMass' junior day, and impresses enough to move on coach to utter, "Maybe we don't have to redshirt this kid."

Baker, a Class of 2014 offensive line prospect and Millis resident, still has two more years with the Mohawks, but he's already making waves. UMass head coach Charley Molnar became the first Division 1 FBS coach to extend a verbal scholarship offer this afternoon to the 6-foot-4, 300-pound sophomore.

The Minutemen first reached out to Olmstead two months ago for film. They invited Baker to their Junior Day last month at Gillette Stadium, and his combination of physique and athleticism immediately impressed. Baker wears his frame lean, demonstrates good footwork, and tests well for a 16-year-old -- reportedly, Baker runs a 5.1-second 40-yard dash, benches over 400 and squats over 500.

"He actually looks lighter right now than he did last year, but he's already 15 pounds heavier," Olmstead said.

Off the field, Baker carries a 4.0 grade point average, further speaking to a maturity beyond his years.

"He's just so motivated and so focused for such a young man," Olmstead said. "I've never seen anything like this in my 22 years. He gets it, and he got it from the first game.

"This kid has been playing every game like it's his last, and he just keeps better and better."

Boston College has also been showing interest in Baker, and had him on campus for their Junior Day last February. Both programs currently project him right now as either a center or guard, due to his IQ and mobility.

"He's one of those kids that I say, 'Jon, take a break, take a week off'," Olmstead said. "And he says, 'I don't see the point'. He always wants to become something better, and I think UMass saw that in him."

Recap: No. 24 Holliston 35, Millis/Hopedale 13

October, 28, 2011
10/28/11
10:42
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HOLLISTON, Mass. -- There isn’t a single positional unit on No. 24 Holliston that lacks speed.

From the skill position players to the linemen, every Panther can run like one, and at the end of the day, there isn’t a team in the Tri-Valley League that can catch up.

Millis/Hopedale found that out the hard way Friday night as the smaller but speedier Panthers ran them ragged in a 35-13 TVL crossover win.

Jake Frechette (154 yards rushing, two TDs) eclipsed 3,120 yards to break Matt Bellomo’s school record and senior quarterback, running back, kicker, kick and punt returner and just plain playmaker Dan Barone compiled 283 all-purpose yards and a pair of scores in the victory.

It was Barone’s special teams play that helped the Panthers pull away from what looked to be an even game going into the half. Jimmy Perkins (114 yards rushing) punched in a 1-yard touchdown to pull the Mohawks to within 14-13 but the extra point was blocked by Holliston’s Brody Ciarcello. Barone then applied the big blow with an 82-yard kickoff return with 46 seconds left in the half.

M/H never recovered, as the Mohawks were held to three first downs the entire second half. Max Athey and Frechette, who set the new school record with a 27-yard carry in the third quarter, punched in second-half touchdowns to complete the scoring.

ALL GROWN UP
When Frechette was a freshman, he was pretty fast, but also pretty skinny. Still, Holliston coach Todd Kiley knew he had a special back and now the senior has the strength to match his quickness, carrying defenders for extra yardage at the second level.

“I am so proud of him,” Kiley said. “I remember the first day he stepped on the field as a varsity player, a little freshman and probably, in most cases, shouldn’t be playing because of his size. And freshmen as a whole shouldn’t be playing. He just fought the battle that year and he’s continued year after year.”

After the game, the understated Frechette talked about replacing Bellomo, who went on to play at Holy Cross, in the record books.

“I was in eighth grade [when Bellomo was a senior]. I remember watching him running up and down the field. ... It’s a good accomplishment, but it’s a team award. I couldn’t have done it by myself. The coaches work their tails off week in and week out putting us in the best position to win and they’re a big part of why this happened.”

“It’s well-deserved,” Barone said. “[Frechette has] been working his tail off for four years now so I think he deserves all the praise and all the accolades that he’s going to get. A job well done, well-deserved for him.”

SUPER-SIZED
Millis/Hopedale may be in the TVL Small, but there is nothing tiny about the players in the trenches for Dale Olmstead’s squad. The offensive line includes a right side of sophomore guard Jon Baker (6-3, 290) and junior tackle Adam Tyks (6-1, 240) that was able to get good push for Perkins, a tough and elusive senior who got plenty of yards after contact. Baker, a 4.0 student whose older brother David plays at Williams, has already attracted the attention of some Division I coaches. Even if he doesn’t end up at that level, Olmstead said “it won’t be for a lack of work ethic,” as the mauler, who also plays nose guard, is one of the most committed players on the team in terms of his offseason strength and conditioning work according to his coach. One way or another, the future looks bright for both Baker and the Mohawks program as a whole, which can clinch a postseason berth with a win over Bellingham next week.

Millis/Hopedale (7-1) 0 13 0 0 - 13
Holliston (6-1) 7 14 7 7 - 35

1st quarter
H - Dan Barone 11 run (Barone kick)

2nd quarter
H - Jake Frechette 5 run (Barone kick)
M - Ian Strom 9 pass from Bay Tangney (Tyler Angel kick)
M - Jimmy Perkins 1 run (kick blocked)
H - Barone 82 kickoff return (Barone kick)

3rd quarter
H - Max Athey 3 run (Barone kick)

4th quarter
H - Frechette 1 run (Barone kick)

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