Boston High School: Dan Buron

Recap: Bridgewater-Raynham 15, Brockton 14

November, 27, 2014

BROCKTON, Mass. – Despite trailing by 14 points at halftime, it wasn’t time for desperation on the Bridgewater-Raynham sideline. As Trojans head coach Dan Buron huddled his team together at the half during their Thanksgiving Day game at Brockton High, he insisted there was no need for panic.

“I thought we were playing pretty well in the first half, but we just weren’t tackling,” Buron said.

The Boxers had hit on two home runs – a punt return for a touchdown by Darien Keith and an 81-yard run by Jonathan Deroulus – but otherwise, B-R was right there. It all came down to execution.

That’s when Trojans quarterback Matt Clement and running back Brandon Gallagher went to work, engineering two second-half touchdown drives. And then, with the aide of a little trickeration on a two-point try, B-R wrapped up its season with a 15-14 win – one which Buron called one of the finer points of his long coaching career.

“We ended up seven and four without one of the best backs in the state for most of the season,” Buron said of his team’s season and that of Gallagher, “and with the schedule we play, I’m really proud of the kids.”

If you blinked you would’ve missed Brockton’s offensive fireworks.

After forcing B-R to a three-and-out on its first possession, Keith shed a couple would-be tacklers and sped 72 yards to the end zone. After a failed point-after try, the Boxers (7-4) led 6-0.

Brockton would need just two offensive plays to run its lead to 14-0, as Deroulus took the Boxers second play from scrimmage 81 yards for a score after breaking a few tackles and bouncing it to the outside, with a successful two-point conversion pass from Aaron Williams to follow.

In the second half, B-R’s defense took hold, limiting the Boxers to three-and-outs on their first two series.

“I thought they played well in the first half,” Buron said. “It was just [Deroulus], he’s a good athlete and he broke a couple tackles and we couldn’t catch him. But otherwise, I thought we played pretty well.”

On the flip side, the Trojans’ offense held up its end of the bargain.

“It was up to us,” Trojans quarterback Matt Clement said. “We were playing and Brockton’s a great team, they’re a fast team. They kind of outran us on a couple plays. But like coach said to us, we were winning the football game, we just had to come out and make a couple of plays.”

Gallagher provided the first one of those, getting B-R on the board with a 38-yard touchdown with 7:46 remaining in the third quarter.

Then, after forcing another Brockton punt, the Trojans embarked on a 12-play, 53-yard drive. Gallagher capped the drive with a 4-yard plunge into the end zone. Looking to settle the game in regulation, Buron called for a swinging door play. On the direct snap Jensen Vallarelli waltzed into the end zone untouched, providing the game-winning points.

QB takes charge, even when it went wrong: On what would proved to be the Trojans’ game-winning drive, B-R narrowly avoided disaster.

Confronted with a fourth-and-1 at Brockton’s 5-yard line and looking to, at least, tie the game, Buron called a “45 Blast” – a hand-off.

What happened from there didn’t exactly go to script, although it was effective.

“They have some hogs over there and we’re not as big as we usually are,” Clement said. “That was supposed to be a 45 Blast on set, but I bobbled the snap, so it was my own fault.”

Ultimately, Clement fell forward for the yard and, one play later, Gallagher punched in his second touchdown of the game.

“Matt Clement did a great job running the offense in the second half,” Buron said. “A lot of that was his calls at the line of scrimmage. I also though he made some great decisions scrambling.”

Good end to a tough beginning: For Gallagher, a preseason ESPN Boston All-State selection, his senior year didn’t go exactly how he’d anticipated. He was injured during the Trojans’ season-opener against St. John’s Prep. His broken ankle forced Gallagher out of most of the season.

“It was tough,” said Gallagher, who didn’t return to the field until B-R’s Division 1 South playoff opening-round game. “It’s nothing I want to ever go through again.”

But, for what the 2014 season was not for Gallagher, Thanksgiving Day was a glimpse at what could have been – with B-R largely running its offense behind its feature back.

“I was just going to ride him in his last game,” Buron said. “He responded, all the seniors responded.”

While it would have been easy for Gallagher to contemplate would could have been, he put a positive spin on an overall successful campaign for the program.

“We had a great year, we really did,” Gallagher said. “When you look at the schedule … Us losing to Xaverian twice, they’re pretty much unbeatable. This one meant a lot to us, this was our Super Bowl.

“It’s unbelievable. From the O-line to the defense, everybody, we just wanted to come in here today and play for the seniors, play for each other.”

Recap: No. 16 B-R 49, Barnstable 20

October, 17, 2014
BARNSTABLE, Mass. -- The 16th-ranked Bridgewater-Raynham Trojans were put to the test, as they knew they would be against Old Colony League rival Barnstable, but the Red Raiders best was not nearly enough on Friday night.

The Trojans (4-3, 2-0) pounced in the second half behind a three touchdown performance from sophomore running back Shawn Noel and rolled to a 49-20 victory, claiming the Old Colony title and punching a ticket to the postseason in the process.

“We talked about how tonight was a night about firsts,” said B-R coach Dan Buron. “First was that we had play four quarters. We hadn’t done that all year.

“The next first was for these seniors, they had not beaten Barnstable and we had not won an Old Colony championship since they have come into the school. There were a lot of things at stake tonight.”

“This night I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said senior captain Will Fuller, who finished with a sack and a half and was instrumental in halting Barnstable’s run game up the middle. “Today, I knew I had to bring it. I gave it all I’ve got and we came out on top.”

It didn’t take long for Bridgewater-Raynham to get on the board after forcing Barnstable (0-6, 0-1) to punt after a three-and-out on the opening drive.

On the second play from scrimmage, Trojans quarterback Matt Clement (8 of 12, 187 yards, 2 TD) aired it up the center of the field, finding Matt Reagan in stride for a 48-yard strike and an early first quarter lead.

The Red Raiders responded in kind, using a four-play drive to strike back.

On a first and 10 from their own 35, senior running back Demichael Johnson got stuffed running up the middle, but bounced off the line and broke to the left where he found enough daylight to scamper for 64 yards, setting up his own 2-yard touchdown.

A fumble on the ensuing point after kept B-R in control at 7-6, something they held on to during the following ten yard grinding drive.

Noel bookended the drive with three rushes on both sides of it, punching home his first touchdown of the night from three yards out.

The teams would trade off punts before B-R’s Cade McNaughton stepped in front of a Griffin Burke pass intended for Nate Balthazard, halting a Barnstable drive that had forged into Trojan territory.

Unable to capitalize on the turnover, B-R was forced to punt once more, but the short, wobbly effort from George Lampros took a Barnstable friendly bounce at midfield.

As two Trojans jumped to halt the backwards progress of the bounding ball, they collided and a heads up Balthazard rushed in out of seemingly nowhere, picking the ball off the turf and sprinting 51 yards untouched to shock B-R.

Holding on by just a point, 14-13, B-R closed out the first half with another Clement to Reagan strike, this one a 40-yard bomb down the right sideline, giving the Trojans a 21-13 advantage heading to the locker room.

“I told my teammates in the locker room to keep their composure,” said Fuller. “We’re going to come out in the second half and punch it right down their throats. We had to play good, play smart and not make mistakes.”

Receiving to start the second half, B-R again put the ball in the hands of Noel while trudging behind the strength of the offensive line as they manipulated Barnstable with long sweeps, including a 19-yarder for paydirt.

Another Red Raiders three-and-out gave the Trojans ideal field position and Noel set them up on the 2-yardline after another sweep right, this time for 30 yards.

Jensen Vallarelli punched it in from a yard out and at 35-13 the Trojans were in full control.

Barnstable would not be put to bed early though as they set themselves up nicely on a 60-yard connection between Griffin to Balthazard that took a shoestring tackle from Alex MacKinnon to save a touchdown.

The Trojans couldn’t hold them off completely and three plays later Griffin picked a low snap off the turf and found a hole from three yards out to bring Barnstable within two scores, 35-20.

It would be as close as things would get.

On the very next drive B-R ate up five valuable minutes, moving the game into the fourth quarter with an 11-play march that finished with Noel in the end zone once more, a 5 yard pitch left that the sophomore cut back in for the score.

B-R’s second unit would tack on one more touchdown, a 6-yard run from Alex Smith, to cap the scoring on the night.

Sophomore sensation smooth on the ground: He started the season as the team’s third string tailback, but Shawn Noel has taken advantage of opportunity and came up huge in the team’s win over Barnstable. The sophomore was a workhorse for the Trojans, getting 24 touches for 187 yards and three touchdowns out of the backfield.

“It’s all about the line,” said the humble Noel. “I just run the ball.”

His efforts allowed B-R to capture the OCL title and take down the Red Raiders on the road for the first time since 2007, leaving him with a nice taste in his mouth.

“It means a lot as a sophomore,” said Noel. “I want plenty more after this. We’re very excited and ready to get to the playoffs.”

If he continues to lead the B-R running game with efforts like this, we’ll surely be hearing a lot more about Noel in the coming weeks and years.

Recap: No. 10 Prep 23, No. 6 B-R 12

September, 6, 2014
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – St. John’s Prep’s first half offensively was characterized by missed opportunities. Three times during the first 22 minutes of their road contest at No. 6 Bridgewater-Raynham, the 10th-ranked Eagles were flagged with penalties while in the red zone.

But Prep figured things out in time, scoring 20 unanswered points to close out a 23-12 win over the Trojans, avenging a home loss to B-R one year ago. The victory was the first for new head coach and alumnus Brian St. Pierre, who was award the game ball by his team in their postgame huddle.

“I was chomping at the bit,” said the eight-season NFL veteran. “I got a little animated during the pregame speech.”

That enthusiasm didn’t translate to early success for St. Pierre’s team, however. B-R (0-1) systematically marched 80 yards downfield on the opening drive of the game, as Trojans quarterback Matt Clement completed all three of his passes to wide receiver Matt Reagan, culminating in a 9-yard touchdown pass. It resulted in an instant 6-0 Trojans’ lead that required only 2 minutes, 25 seconds of game clock.

Prep (1-0) also was able to move the ball effectively on its first drive, but the Eagles stalled with a first-and-goal from the 8-yard line. An offensive holding call backed them up to the 18 and, three plays later, Prep was forced to settle for a 36-yard field goal but Justin Foley.

After B-R thwarted a Prep fourth-and-goal bid from the 5, the Trojans took a 12-3 lead midway through the second quarter, when Clement hit Reagan for their second touchdown connection on the day – this time from 56 yards.

The Eagles would again be confronted with a fourth-down decision deep in Trojans’ territory before the half was out. With a fourth-and-six from the B-R 13, St. Pierre remained aggressive.

“I didn’t want to settle for a field goal, we did on the first drive,” he said.

The move paid off as first-time starting quarterback Oliver Eberth hit Owen Rockett for their first of two scores, whittling B-R’s lead to 12-10 at the half.

Eberth (9 of 17, 143 yards) and Rockett (5 catches, 60 yards) resumed play in the second half as they’d left it in the first, as the senior wideout took a simple swing pass upfield for a 35-yard touchdown.

“We were hoping to get the linebacker pinched in a little bit and we hit it just in time,” Rockett said. “From there, it was just making a play.”

Knock, knock, knockin’: Prep ran away with the game in the second half, thanks to a relentless rushing attack, led by senior Cody Harwood. The Eagles rushed for 225 yards on the game, with nearly three-quarters of those yards coming in the second half.

Harwood punched in 23 of his game-high 123 yards on the Eagles’ final score with 7:50 remaining in the game. Junior Dillon Preston (10 carries, 47 yards) also provided tough yards on the ground running behind junior fullback Nick Spofford.

“The whole game they played really well,” Harwood said of Prep’s offensive line. “It was just opening the holes and then it was just me one-on-one with the backer, trying to make the play. They were just worn down that second half.”

Lack of thump: While Saturday’s affair looked to be a test of rushing attacks entering action, B-R was limited in its ability to run the ball consistently.

ESPN Boston preseason Mr. Football candidate Brandon Gallagher left the game in the first quarter due to an ankle sprain. Matters were made worse when Gallagher’s replacement – senior Isaiah Bell (4 carries, 22) was injured while attempting to make a defensive tackle in the second quarter.

With the Trojans’ thunder out of the lineup, the offense was left to Clement primarily. He acquitted himself well, completing his first seven consecutive pass attempts, while completing 9 of 15 attempts for 122 yards.

“We live and die with the play-action pass and the running game,” B-R head coach Dan Buron said. “It wasn’t there, so [Clement] had to work with it. I though he did a nice job considering – it was a good day, not a great day.”

Clement’s comfort with Reagan was apparent, as the junior wide receiver caught five balls for 94 yards.

“He did well, he made some plays and Matty [Clement] found him,” Buron said of Reagan. “So we’re going to be OK. I’m disappointed in the loss, but, in the big picture, I think we improved today.”

A new era: Following the victory, St. Pierre reflected on the legacy former Prep coach and current athletic director Jim O’Leary left with the program. St. Pierre is just the third Prep coach in the last 47 years, following O’Leary (30 seasons) and Fred Glatz (17 seasons).

“When you follow a legend, the bar’s set pretty high,” said St. Pierre, who won a Super Bowl title while quarterbacking the Eagles in 1997. “You feel that. We’ve been a successful program for a long time and you fell that. But this is where I feel I belong. I had a great experience here as a player and as a student.”
WESTWOOD, Mass. – The date doesn’t matter. Whenever Bridgewater-Raynham and Xaverian renew their ever-intensifying football rivalry – whether it be in August, like Saturday’s scrimmage, or in the regular season – there’s always a tinge of physicality.

That stuck out immediately as a smattering of Trojans and Hawks came to a head in close quarters nearly from the get-go of an exercise that was primarily a passing scrimmage. It possessed the tenor of a black-and-blue trench battle, however, with neither team able to find the end zone with regularity.

Xaverian outscored B-R, 2-1, in the nearly two-hour long scrimmage, with the Hawks’ first unit offense holding the upper hand with two passing touchdowns, while the Trojans’ second unit accounted for its lone score.

Here are some of our takeaways from a rather intense (given that the teams just began practicing in pads a few days ago) morning at the Hawk Bowl:

Choppin’ the Wood: One of the standouts on the day was Xaverian senior wide receiver/safety Damion Wood. The Coastal Carolina commit helped establish the physical tone early on defense, laying down a wallop on a B-R receiver. Wood, who’s listed at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds on Xaverian’s updated roster, looks to have bulked up in the offseason. It’s an added benefit for the Hawks, who will return nine of 11 starters from last year’s defensive corps.

Wood, who exhibited good ball skills last year in a ball-hawking secondary, is also a sure-handed tackler who carries a chip on his shoulder, befitting a player who can play up in the box.

Watch out for the big man: Is there anything Northwestern commit Joe Gaziano can’t do athletically?

While the 6-foot-4 defensive end’s future is on the gridiron, he’s a lock-down pole on the Hawks lacrosse team in the spring. But Gaziano’s palate of skills looks as though it will expand further this fall.

Gaziano was featured prominently in the Hawks’ offensive sets at tight end on Saturday. That’s nothing new, but what is is how head coach Charlie Stevenson might look to utilize him in the future. Gaziano was flexed out on several formations during the course of the scrimmage, showing a flair for the dramatic as well while making a diving catch on a crossing route at one point.

“A couple of times today we did experiment with splitting him out wide,” Stevenson said. “He did make a nice post catch. When he gets inside a cornerback, that’s a big body for that cornerback to come through. He made a nice diving catch over here on a crossing route.

“He’s a big guy who can run and catch. And, once he catches the ball, I’m not going to say he’s quick, but … Clearly, we’re going to get him more involved in our passing attack.”

Do what doesn’t come natural: Both Stevenson and Trojans head coach Dan Buron expressed the importance of Saturday’s get together in that it takes both of their teams outside of their element to a degree.

For B-R, a power-running team, that meant a diminished load for preseason All-State Brandon Gallagher and a lack of the play-action game set up off the ground game. On the flip side, Xaverian’s option game – featuring quarterback Jake Farrell’s play-making ability on foot – and running backs Noah Sorrento and Kenny Kern was all but moot.

But, for Farrell and the Hawks, Saturday proved an important building block for testing out the starter’s arm. Farrell, who missed much of hockey and baseball season with a shoulder injury, is on a “pitch count” – as Stevenson termed it – for the preseason. But for a player that’s limited in preseason snaps, Farrell looked comfortable making throws on the run, hitting timing routes and players on the run in Xaverian’s intermediate and vertical passing plays.

That all equates to a major plus for the Hawks’ incumbent starter.

“Jake’s poised and he’s throwing the ball well,” Stevenson said. “He’s chomping at the bit.”

Meanwhile, B-R senior starter Matt Clement also looked as though he’d put on some bulk in the offseason and was efficient on the Trojans’ rollout passes. Buron, who believes he has two high-grade quarterbacks in Clement, as well as also fellow senior Steve D’Emilia (who spelled Clement for a time late last season).

“He’s bigger, he’s thicker this year,” Buron said of Clement. “He’s an athlete, so we’re going to call on him to run the ball a little bit more this year.”

He continued, “We’ve got two good ones. They need to work on the fundamentals and the decision-making process, but that’s why you practice.”

Recap: No. 9 Barnstable 20, No. 8 B-R 14

October, 19, 2013

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – It’s called the smart money, and if Barnstable football minted its own currency, it would read: “In Hayden Murphy We Trust,” as Red Raiders senior quarterback Kristian Lucashensky put it Friday night.

Facing a fourth-and-1 at Bridgewater-Raynham’s 48-yard line with a little more than a minute remaining in another Old Colony league classic, there was a debate on Barnstable’s sideline. The initial play call in the huddle during the Red Raiders’ timeout was for a pass play. But, instead, they went to what was reliable.

In looking to move the chains and living to see another play, Barnstable found its salvation with its gold-standard play, with Murphy taking the cut-back on an inside zone run 48 yards to the end zone, providing the game-winning score in a 20-14 comeback win.

“That’s our basic run play, we probably ran it fifteen times today,” Red Raiders head coach Chris Whidden said. “Yeah, we’re just trying to get the first down because we only had a minute left and one timeout, so we had to get the first down and stop the clock. ... Guys up front made the block and Hayden saw that cut-back lane and he’s tough to catch in the open field.”

Murphy was held relatively in check through the first half, but collected 90 of his 123 rushing yards (14 carries) in the second half. After spying on the 6-foot-2, 205-pound back through the first half, Murphy found enough separation in the second half to run for two scores, including the game-changer.

Barnstable (5-1, 1-0 OCL) engineered its game winning drive after taking over on its own 22 with 2:43 remaining. Lucashensky was at his best on the drive, completing all four passes for 29 yards, giving the Red Raiders a shot at the end zone.

However, when Barnstable was fortunate enough to recover a fumble on a third-down play at its 49, and after a 3-yard run by Murphy, the Red Raiders were faced with a fourth-and-1.

“We’ve got a lot of strong, big bodies up front that we have a lot of faith in,” Whidden said, “and we feel like, if we need a yard, we’re going to be able to get it, no matter how many guys you bring in the box.

He continued, “We leave one guy unblocked and that’s Kristian [Lucashensky’s] job to read him and, he saw the give. I don’t know if he made the right read or not, not until I see the film, but based on the final score, I’ll give him the read for tonight.”

Barnstable’s offense sputtered in the early going, with the Trojans (4-2, 1-1) forcing a fumble, an interception and a turnover on downs through the Red Raiders’ first three offensive series. Conversely, B-R claimed the first lead of the game on Brandon Gallagher’s 10-yard touchdown run at 2:43 of the first quarter.

The Red Raiders came back to tie it in the second quarter, when Justus Chaffee (6 carries, 59 yards) ripped off a 23-yard touchdown run for a 6-6 score, after the teams’ respective 2-point and point-after tries failed.

B-R regained the lead just before the half with Matt Clement’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Mike Murano. Clement (12 of 16, 121 yards, TD, INT) followed with a successful 2-point conversion throw to Arcel Armstead for a 14-6 lead in the final minute of the second quarter.

Barnstable emerged rejuvenated for the second half, forcing B-R three-and-out for its first possession and then embarking on an 82-yard touchdown drive. Murphy tallied his first touchdown of the game with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter on a 29-yard run. The following 2-point conversion again failed, however, so the Red Raiders still trailed 14-12.

The teams traded possessions through the early fourth quarter, but the Red Raiders defense continued to hold. Two of B-R’s second half possessions resulted in three-and-outs. That was no small part in due to Barnstable’s run defense which slowed Gallagher (24 carries, 100 yards) just enough, surrendering just 46 combined yards on the ground in the final half.

Same ole bitter end: For the third straight year, Barnstable claimed victory over B-R – and each of those decisions has come in dramatic fashion, including last year’s 27-25 classic with the Trojans falling a missed 2-point conversion shy of forcing overtime.

For the Trojans, let make no bones about it, it’s been rough. These haven’t just been losses, they’re of the gut-wrenching variety. Friday was no exception, with Murphy playing an all-too-familiar role.

“You kinda’ knew he was going to get the ball at that point,” B-R head coach Dan Buron said of Murphy’s game-winning score. “They made the play, we didn’t.”

Yet, for Barnstable’s success when the chips were on the table, the Trojans couldn’t have scripted their start any better. Spurred by a fumble recovery by Devin Morris and a interception from Theo Barbetto on Barnstable’s first two possessions, B-R also took care of the interior gaps in the running game, minimizing Murphy’s impact through the first 22 minutes.

“They did a really good job bottling [Murphy] up all night,” Whidden said. “He didn’t have a lot of space and he didn’t really have a chance to get to that second gear.

“They were spying Hayden, they had a guy going with Hayden the whole time. We wanted to see the look they would give us if we put Hayden outside, and they covered him with a guy over the top. In that case, we have enough faith in Justus [Chaffee] to carry the ball.”

Bring on the closer: On the flip side, the Red Raiders defense has held up its part of the bargain. Barnstable hasn’t surrendered a second-half score since the third quarter of its 15-14 comeback win over Xaverian on Sept. 27.

Once again, the Red Raiders slammed the door shut, with midseason All-State candidate Derek Estes grabbing an interception on the Trojans’ final play.

“I think they’re one of the best defenses in the state,” Lucashensky said. “They always shut out teams in the second half. We trust them.”

Game of the Week: No. 8 B-R vs. No. 9 Barnstable

October, 17, 2013
Once again the Old Colony League title boils down to Bridgewater-Raynham and Barnstable, and that conference crown will be decided on Friday in our Game of the Week, sponsored by Sports Authority and the Bay State Games.

Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall break down the Trojans and Red Raiders with a little help from the "BHallestrator," in addition to giving their Week 7 picks.

We also get B-R's side of the story with Matt Clement, Brandon Gallagher and Devin Morris, as well as head coach Dan Buron:

(Video produced by Greg Story)

No. 10 B-R looks to rebound from tough 2012

August, 29, 2013
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- A difficult 2012 schedule made for a tough season for the No. 10 Bridgewater-Raynham football team a year ago.

The Trojans not only missed the playoffs for the second straight campaign -- after reaching the Div. 1A Super Bowl each of the two years before that -- but they endured their first losing season since 2008.

B-R took losses against Div. 1 Super Bowl champ St. John’s Prep, as well as MIAA playoff teams Duxbury and Brockton. They also lost to an impressive Stoughton team that just missed the postseason, annual Catholic Conference power Xaverian, and La Salle Academy -- a team ranked No. 1 in Rhode Island at the time.

It was a season that certainly didn’t go as planned for the perennial power, a program that won Super Bowls in 1998 and 2000 and is regularly a favorite in the Old Colony League. The results of last year, though, will not be forgotten by this year’s squad.

“These guys all remember how that felt last year,” said coach Dan Buron. “Guys here were frustrated by that. We know the schedule doesn’t get any easier this time around, so guys have worked really hard to make sure they don’t go through that again.”

In 2013, they open with No. 1 St. John’s Prep, No. 11 Duxbury and No. 15 Xaverian, so how do they avoid a repeat of a season ago?

It starts with a formula in the backfield that combines two impressive running backs, junior Brandon Gallagher and senior Arcel Armstead.

Gallagher, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound back who emerged as the top runner last season, will be paired with the speedy Armstead, who missed the second half of last year.

“Brandon had a fantastic year last year and he’s worked really hard in the offseason,” Buron said. “He looks great so far. Arcel had a very good offseason to, and he looks great as well.”

The two-headed monster has already been proven succesful by the Trojans’ week one opponents.

“Everyone saw how effective St. John’s Prep was with Alex Moore and Jon Thomas in a two-back system last year,” Buron said. “It made them very difficult to stop, because if you keyed on stopping one guy, the other could be used as a huge offensive weapon. It will be my job to find ways to get both of these guys the ball so they can make plays for us.”

Helping Buron’s two star running backs to make plays will be an experienced, and sizeable offensive line.

“It’s always nice to have at least one guy back who knows all calls to anchor our offensive line,” Buron said. “We have three of those guys this year.”

Shawn Whitaker, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound left tackle, returns to the Trojans trenches again this season. He’s joined by fellow returning-starters right tackle Nick Falconeri (6-2, 280) and center Evan Shockley (6-1, 230).

On the other side of the ball, the Trojans return a lot of guys who saw significant action a year ago.

Anthony Sullivan and Connor Regan with hold down the defensive end spots, while Will Fuller and Nick Whittemore will bolster the defensive line at the tackle positions. Devin Morris is back to lead the charge at linebacker, where he’ll be joined by Armstead for B-R.

“We have a lot of talent and a lot of depth up front, and we should be pretty strong there,” Buron said. “We do have some holes to fill in the secondary, but we have a lot of good players ready to fill those voids.”

2012 may have been a tough year that was tougher to forget, but with so many guys back in the fold for B-R, the Trojans are hoping to create a much more memorable 2013.

2012: 5-6
Coach: Dan Buron (21st season, 154-65-2)
Strengths: Offensive line, running back, defensive line
Weaknesses: Quarterback experience, secondary
Key Returnees: Brandon Gallagher, Jr. RB, 5-10, 185 lbs; Arcel Armstead, Sr. RB, 5-10, 175 lbs; Shawn Whitaker, Sr. LT, 6-5, 270 lbs; Nick Falconeri, Sr. RT, 6-3, 280 lbs.
Outlook: The Trojans are probably the preseason favorite to win the OCL, and should be among the favorites in Div. 1 South. Their schedule will be unkind again this year, but with a two-headed backfield as talented as theirs they should compete with anyone. Brandon Gallagher and Arcel Armstead will have to emerge as one of the best running back tandems in the state if this team is to compete for a Super Bowl. With that duo, plus an impressive offensive line lead by Shawn Whitaker, junior QB Matt Clement has all the tools around him to have a solid first year at starter.

Scrimmage slants: B-R vs. Xaverian

August, 24, 2013
BRIDGWATER, Mass. – For nearly two hours Saturday morning, Bridgewater-Raynham and Xaverian renewed a rivalry that has become among the state’s best non-league annual tilts.

Again, both the Trojans (No. 10) and the Hawks (No. 15) make strong showings in our statewide preseason MIAA football Top 25 poll. Not to mention, it won’t be long before the teams go at it for real, when Xaverian welcomes B-R to the new-look Hawk Bowl for a regular-season game on Saturday, Sept. 21.

[+] EnlargeBridgewater
Scott Barboza/ESPNBridgewater-Raynham and Xaverian kicked off their first of - at least - two meetings this season to start their preseason.
But before we reach the regular season, here’s a look at today’s passing scrimmage and some takeaways:

Sorting through the QB battles: Both squads enter 2013 looking for a new signal caller and both teams rolled through their crop of contending quarterbacks.

Xaverian senior Peter White, juniors Jake Farrell and Tom Fitzgibbons, along with sophomore Mike Pina all had reps under center, with White and Farrell seeing the majority of the snaps. Meanwhile, the Trojans cycled through junior Matt Clement and sophomore candidates Steve D’Emila and Cade McNaughten.

When asked to evaluate Saturday’s performances, both Hawks head coach Charlie Stevenson and B-R’s Dan Buron found positives, along with some improvements to be made.

“I thought our first two quarterbacks [White and Farrell] did some nice things,” Stevenson said. “They made good plays. But a couple of plays that they were impatient on and if they would’ve been able to make plays if they’d scanned the field, we might have had some more scoring plays. But that’s inexperience. That’ll come.”

At times, both offenses were slightly out of sync, with timing passes arriving a moment late and an overthrow here and there.

But for a scrimmage primarily concerned with the passing game, and with both defenses perhaps playing a little ahead of the opposing offenses, both teams were able to move the ball – although scoring was hard to come by.

“I think that right now, Matt [Clement] just because of his age is a little bit of those other two,” Buron said of his quarterbacks, who saw a nearly equal number of snaps. “But I think I’ve got three good ones. I think it’s just a lack of game experience and that’s why I’ve added more scrimmages than normal to try to get them acclimated to the game situations.”

Speaking volumes: As far as Xaverian’s passing game is concerned, while quarterback battle continues, there will be no doubt to the pass catchers working on the field. The struggle that Stevenson feels is how to get all of them on the field at once.

While the Hawks’ return a couple of last year’s top targets, including D.J. Sperzel and A.J. King, Stevenson believes he has depth at receiver. During Saturday’s scrimmage, the Hawks worked in eight different receivers with its first-unit offense.

“I think we’re about as deep at receiver as we have been in recent years,” Stevenson added.

Layin’ the lumber: For a preseason scrimmage, Saturday’s tone was about as spirited as you’ll find. And, for the most part, it was carried by the respective defenses.

Working against the Hawks’ offense presented a high quality challenge to B-R’s new linebacking corps. The Trojans worked primarily with a group including seniors Kevin Newton and Arcel Armstead as outside linebackers and Devin Morris in the middle.

Buron is looking for big things from Newton, a starting-caliber player last year who was set back by injuries in 2012. Pat Whooley and Cam Goodrich also saw significant time with the Trojans’ top unit.

However, the biggest play of the day came from junior linebacker Justin Finlayson. The 5-foot-10 outside linebacker popped a Xaverian player making a reception in the flat, drawing the raucous approval of his teammates on the sideline.

It might have been the most thunderous exchange of the day, but it also underscored the Trojans’ ability to maintain positioning on Xaverian’s swing and screen passes.

“I was pleased with that because honestly we haven’t worked on anything that they typically do,” Buron said. “We just wanted to stay in our base defense and run to the ball. Sometimes we didn’t make the tackle, but I thought we were usually in good position. A lot of those things, this early in the year, they’re correctable.”

The Hawks also brought their defensive game with starting junior defensive ends Joe Gaziano and Nick Colantuoni establishing a strong pass rush off the edges.

Shaken, but OK: There was tense moment or two about midway through the scrimmage when B-R’s ESPN Boston preseason All-State offensive tackle Shawn Whitaker tumbled to the ground following a Hawks interception.

While backtracking and following the return up-field, Whitaker received a serious blow on a crack-back block. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder didn’t return.

Buron, adding that Whitaker has also been troubled by a back ailment in practice, said he was removed as a precaution.

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – The fourth of quarter of Friday’s instant classic between No. 1 Barnstable and No. 16 Bridgewater-Raynham was rife with hairpin plot twists and explosions. Every expanding moment brought more drama, heightened tension and – assuredly on both sidelines – greater anxiety. It was the stuff of Jack Bauer tracking down bad guys, MacGyver defusing a bomb threat, or a John Le Carré spy novel. Or maybe it was a little of all those things rolled into one -- and then some.

For whatever you care to call it, in recent memory, the yearly date between the Red Raiders and Trojans has morphed into a de facto championship game for the Old Colony League.

Friday’s edition was but another spellbinding chapter.

Barnstable clung to a 27-25 lead behind an opportunistic defense before putting the game away in the final moments with the Red Raiders tallying their third interception of the game. In the process, Barnstable (8-0, 2-0) claimed its second-straight OCL championship and will return to the postseason, again to face Dual County League large division champion Lincoln-Sudbury in the Div. 1A Eastern Mass playoffs.

“Last year is a distant memory at this point,” Red Raiders head coach Chris Whidden said. “It feels great for this group, these guys have done so much together, and they were obviously a big part of last year, but there’s a pride in what they accomplished today.

“They derserve it. I know every coach can say that the group of kids you have deserve it, but if you really knew these kids, you’d know they truly have done more than most classes would do to get what they got tonight.”

Barnstable showed its defensive mettle after a lack-luster showing against Billerica a week ago.

Jason Frieh (sack, 2 TFL) led the Red Raider defensive line bringing the pressure, but the contributions came from all around. Barnstable’s defense pulled off a unique hat trick of interceptions, with one pick coming from a member at each level of its unit. Frieh seized momentum for the Red Raiders early in the second half with a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, inside linebacker Andrew Ellis collected a pick of his own before free safety Hayden Murphy closed out the victory with an interception with 1:03 remaining.

Frieh’s pick-six extended the Red Raiders’ halftime lead to 21-6, but the Trojans (5-4, 1-1) responded on the ensuing drive in the third with a 10-play, 74-yard drive capped by Jordan Cohen’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Scripter.

Barnstable again made it a two-possession game on Nick Peabody’s second touchdown pass of the game, a 31-yard connection to Tedaro France with 7:31 to play in the fourth.

From there, a dizzying sequence unfolded that was made for an episode of “24”.

Events between the time 7:14 and 4:03 of the fourth quarter included:
  • An 82-yard kickoff return by B-R’s Ryan Martin, (Score: 27-19, Barnstable, following failed two-point try).
  • A fumble recovery by the Trojans on Barnstable’s following kickoff return, (Devin Morris’ forced fumble was recovered by Mike Clifford, setting up B-R first and 10 from the Red Raiders’ 20-yard line).
  • Ellis’ interception, (setting up Barnstable first and 10 at their own 15).
  • Strip-sack by B-R’s Aaron Conrad with Trojans recovery by Kevin Johnston at the Barnstable 5, (5:33 to play).
  • 2-yard rushing touchdown by Brandon Gallagher, (Score: 27-25, Barnstable, 4:03 remained).

Following that frenetic sequence -- keep in mind there were only seven plays from scrimmage elapsed during that span – Barnstable had a chance at closing out the game by bleeding the clock. But the Red Raiders’ ensuing drive sputtered flat once it hit the 50-yard line. Barnstable was forced to punt, but a masterful 41-yard punt from Ryan Litchman was downed at the Trojans’ 6-yard line.

With a long field to go, B-R went to its 2-minute drill with 1:45 to play. The comeback ended at 1:03 when a last-ditch pass by Cohen was fielded by Murphy.

His dancing acumen aside, ESPN Boston Mr. Football challenger and Barnstable quarterback Nick Peabody showed he’s got moves on the field.

Peabody (12 of 22 passing, 201 yards, 2 TDs) ripped up the carpet on a rambling 54-yard run in the first quarter. After juking a B-R safety into last Friday, Peabody broke down the left sideline before being chased down at the 1-yard line. He plunged into the end zone one play later for Barnstable’s second touchdown of the game.

“We were reading the end on the play, and he kind of flew out with Hayden [Murphy],” Peabody said. “I just saw the hole, I hit it and there was just one safety. I was kind of shocked, I guess I put a move on him.

“Then, to be honest, I was scared I was going to get caught and I got caught on the one-yard line.”

While Peabody will never be mistaken for a Randall Cunningham-like quarterback, he’s still able to make plays with his feet. He ran for 78 yards on 15 carries, including the touchdown. A bulk of those yards came on zone read plays with Peabody pulling back an option to Murphy, who streaks across the field from the slot. It was a bread-and-butter play that Barnstable’s run successfully on Friday and throughout the season.

It’s yet another element that has made the Red Raiders offense so potent.

“We drill it until it makes you sick, but that’s what makes it work,” Peabody said.

If you placed this year’s B-R team in the year 2013, there’s a real possibility the Trojans are playing through a playoff stretch.

While the MIAA playoff proposal has passed, it didn’t come soon enough for the Trojans, who will again challenge for the dubious title of “Best Team in Massachusetts Not Playing past Thanksgiving” this year.

“I look at our team, we’re five-and-four and we’ve lost to two teams that are undefeated, another team in St. John’s Prep that has one loss and La Salle could play with anyone [in Massachusetts],” Trojans head coach Dan Buron said.

Don’t interpret that statement as sour grapes though. Buron was downright grateful following his team’s loss.

It was evidenced on the Trojans’ final offensive play. As his players shuffled – dejected – back to the sideline, Buron met each and every one of them with a pat on the shoulder pads and the message: “Don’t hang your heads.”

“I told the kids they shouldn’t have any regrets and they should be proud,” Buron said of his postgame breakdown with the team. “I’ve never been more proud of a team because there were a couple of times in this game we could’ve folded.”

Barnstable – 14 0 7 6 -- 27
Bridgewater-Raynham – 0 6 7 12 -- 25

First quarter
B - Dylan Morris 35-yard pass from Nick Peabody (Jason Frieh kick)
B - Peabody 1-yard run (Frieh kick)

Second quarter
B-R – Kevin Wadsworth 11-yard pass from Jordan Cohen (kick failed)

Third quarter
B - Jason Frieh 21-yard interception return (Frieh kick)
B-R - Ryan Scripter 17-yard pass from Cohen (Wadsworth kick)

Fourth quarter
B - Tedaro France 31-yard pass from Peabody (kick failed)
B-R - Ryan Martin 82-yard kickoff return (pass failed)
B-R - Brandon Gallagher 2-yard run (rush failed)

Game of the Week: No. 1 Barnstable at No. 16 B-R

November, 1, 2012
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The Old Colony League title is on the line Friday night in our Game of the Week with No. 1 Barnstable visiting No. 16 Bridgewater-Raynham (7 p.m.) in a winner-take-all match-up.

Editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall broke down the weekend ahead, including the Trojans' take on the marquee tilt with interviews with senior captains Kevin Johnston, Joe MacInnis and Kevin Wadsworth and head coach Dan Buron.

(Video produced by Greg Story)

Recap: No. 21 B-R 32, Xaverian 27

October, 20, 2012
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -– The enormous gust of wind that blew over the Bridgewater-Raynham football field late Saturday afternoon wasn’t a meteorological phenomenon.

Rather, it was Trojans coach Dan Buron exhaling after his team held off Xaverian and posted a 32-27 non-league victory.

And “held off” is the operative phrase.

After the No. 21 Trojans (4-3) seemingly put the game out of reach, when Jordan Cohen threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Murphy for a 32-20 lead with 2:22 remaining, the Hawks (1-6) needed just over a minute to reduce their deficit when Austin DeCarr threw a 20-yard scoring pass to A.J. King and Kyle Darrow kicked the extra point.

Not surprisingly, Xaverian then attempted an onside kick. But much to Buron’s chagrin, Xaverian’s Ryan McLean smothered the ball at his team’s 42 with 1:40 remaining.

DeCarr (24-48, 290 yards, TD) then passed his team to a second-and-goal at B-R’s 5 with four ticks of the clock left. But DeCarr’s pass for what would have been the winning touchdown fell incomplete in the end zone which allowed Buron to breathe.

“That’s a good football team,” Buron said of Xaverian. “I don’t care what their record is. We play a tough schedule but one that’s not nearly as tough as the one they do. And they’ve been in every game so I knew they weren’t going to quit.

“I’m proud of the kids. I’m a little upset that we didn’t get the onside kick but we have to work on those things. It’s different in practice.”

To a certain extent, this was a different B-R team than the one that was waxed 41-24 on October 12 by Rhode Island Division I power La Salle Academy.

“We played with a little more intensity today than we did last week,” Buron said. “I don’t know what the reason was for that. I thought the week prior to that we played with a lot of intensity and emotion against St. John’s Prep.

“That’s a good team and we came out on the short end but I was proud of the kids. We didn’t look like the same team (against La Salle). But today we looked more like the team we had in our first five games.”

Double trouble: One reason the Trojans prevailed was that they were proficient both on the ground and in the air.

Brandon Gallagher led the ground game by rushing for 90 yards and one score on 21 carries.

Jordan Cohen was superb at quarterback as he completed 13-of-19 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns –- each to Murphy who snared eight balls for 150 yards.

“I thought Jordan played well today and hit the open receivers,” Buron said. “What they were giving us was the flat and he hit the flat all day which opened up some other things.”

One of the “other things” that was opened up was room for Gallagher to slice through Xaverian’s defense.

“Gallagher is a tough running back who runs hard,” Buron said. “When the blocking’s there he’s going to get extra yards. When there isn’t any blocking, he’s still going to get extra yards. Very rarely does he go backwards.

“He’s a strong runner and is only a sophomore so he’s only going to get better. But I’d like to credit the offensive line, too. I thought they played well in the second half against a much bigger defensive front.”

How do you spell shootout? After a scoreless first quarter during which each team lost a fumble, B-R’s Aaron Conrad recovered another Xaverian fumble on his team’s 14.

B-R then covered 86 yards in eight plays with Gallagher busting into the end zone from the 5.

Xaverian countered with an eight-play, 64-yard drive which Shayne Kaminski capped by scoring on a 25-yard run that made B-R’s lead 7-6.

B-R, seemingly in an eye blink, upped its lead to 12-7 when Cohen connected with Murphy on a screen pass that covered 20 yards for a score.

But DeCarr displayed his best passing of the game after the ensuing kickoff when he completed all five of his attempts for 80 yards which led to Kaminski running it in from the 2 for a 13-12 lead at halftime.

The Trojans got even late in the third quarter when Conrad intercepted a DeCarr pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown that gave B-R an 18-13 lead at the break.

But a short Xaverian punt gave the Trojans excellent field position, at their 40, and Cohen zipped a 17-yard touchdown pass to Murphy on the first play of the fourth period for a 25-13 advantage.

Buron’s sentiments about Xaverian being a team that doesn’t quit almost came back to haunt him when the Hawks’ D.J. Sperzel recovered a fumble on B-R’s 49 -– which led to a five-yard scoring run by Harry Walsh that pulled the Hawks within 25-20 with 5:02 left.

“Everybody on our schedule can beat us,” Buron said. “That’s the problem with playing a tough schedule so we have to come to play. Most every game we’ve been in has come down to the wire so we have to prepare for it.”

XB (1-6) 0-13-0-14 – 27
BR (4-3) 0-12-6-14 – 32

Second quarter
B – Brandon Gallagher 5 run (run failed)
X – Shayne Kaminski 25 run (Kyle Darrow kick)
B – Ryan Murphy 20 pass from Jordan Cohen (pass failed)
X – Kaminski 2 run (pass failed)

Third quarter
B – Aaron Conrad 33 interception return (pass failed)

Fourth quarter
B – Murphy 17 pass from Cohen (Kevin Wadsworth kick)
X – Harry Walsh 5 run (Darrow kick)
B – Murphy 23 pass from Cohen (Wadsworth kick)
X – A.J. King 20 pass from Austin DeCarr (Darrow kick)

Recap: No. 3 St. John's Prep 20, No. 12 B-R 7

October, 7, 2012

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. - With two talented playmakers such as Johnathan Thomas and Alex Moore in the backfield, why wouldn't St. John's Prep have its own version of the 'Wildcat' formation ready to go?

It's not a set the Eagles rely on often, but when they spring the trap, it has the tendency to yield major dividends. In the case of Saturday afternoon's nonleague clash with No. 12 Bridgewater-Raynham, Moore turned the Prep's 'Wildcat' into a momentum changer.

On the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Moore and Thomas lined up side by side in the backfield with Moore taking the snap. Tight end Anthony Bongiorno sealed off the defensive end and Thomas cleared a hole with a nice block of his own. Moore followed right through and outran everyone down the left sideline for an 89-yard touchdown.

That was the second of three scores on the day for Moore, who totaled 159 yards on the ground with two scores and another 73 yards and a touchdown on three receptions as No. 3 St. John's Prep took down the Trojans, 20-7, at Bridgewater-Raynham High School.

"I never had any original thought in my life and that's what Everett did to us so I said, 'If Everett can do that to us, we can use that ourselves,' so that's what we did," Prep coach Jim O'Leary said with a laugh. "We've been running it but we've been running it a little differently the last couple weeks. We just put him outside and pitch and get to the edge and see what we can get."

Moore turned in terrific all-around effort, adding a fourth-quarter interception from his safety position to his stat sheet. He scored the game's first touchdown via the air, lining up as the inside receiver in a trips-right set. Moore ran a post pattern through the middle and Eagles quarterback Jack Sharrio lofted a perfect pass to him in stride for a 35-yard score.

Then in the fourth, just after Brandon Gallagher had scored to help B-R (3-2) cut the deficit to 14-7, Moore produced another big play. Lined up as the tailback behind Thomas in the I-formation, Moore took a straight handoff and followed Thomas off left tackle. Thomas created room by blocking the defensive end, allowing Moore to bounce outside and race 62 yards to paydirt.

"I was able to hit the outside and use my speed to my advantage and make it a track meet out there," Moore explained. "It was just off to the races from there."

The Prep's offense has been producing extremely well this season, and a lot of that has been due to the willingness to allow Sharrio to throw more often. The senior quarterback completed 7-of-11 passes for 103 yards and the TD pass to Moore.

Battling a very difficult wind, Sharrio's effort loosened up the Trojans defense enough to allow Thomas to join Moore in the Century Club with 110 yards on 13 carries.

"We have to be able to spread the field to get people out of the box," O'Leary said. "We have to do that and so I think that's what we try to do and what we need to do. We're not as comfortable doing that when we don't have the wind. They threw the ball better with the wind also."

B-R coach Dan Buron has never been afraid to schedule some of the state's top teams in an effort to get his Trojans ready for their Old Colony League slate, and hopefully, a postseason berth.

B-R opened with Duxbury, currently riding a 31-game winning streak, bested perennially tough programs in Marshfield and New Bedford, and still have a date with Xaverian before playing its OCL counterparts Dartmouth and Barnstable.

Brandon Gallagher finished with 92 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, while quarterback Jordan Cohen finished 12-of-26 for 176 yards.

"I was pleased with our effort, I think our kids played hard," Buron said. "That's a really good football team and I think we're just not quite there. Duxbury and this team, we're battling them for three quarters and we're just a step away. I think we're getting better every week and I think we can take this as a learning experience. I love playing teams like this. It gets us ready for our league games at the end of October and early November."

ST. JOHN'S PREP (4-1) 7 7 0 6 - 20
BRIDGE. RAYNHAM (3-2) 0 0 7 0 - 7

SJ - Alex Moore 35 pass from Jack Sharrio (Stephen Cammaro kick)
SJ - Moore 89 run (Cammaro kick)
BR - Brandon Gallagher 3 run (Kevin Wadsworth kick)
SJ - Moore 62 run (kick failed)

ESPN Boston Week 5 football picks

October, 5, 2012
The Skinny: The Blue Bombardiers have opened up the season undefeated and opened Hockomock League play with a win over Canton last week. Meanwhile, Mansfield is coming off a loss to Stoughton (the second in as many years). Attleboro’s 6-foot, 185-pound running back Malique Clark has tallied eight touchdowns in the early going while Robbie Rapoza is looking for a repeat performance of his four-touchdown game against Dracut two weeks ago.

Scott Barboza: Upset, blue light special. Blue Bombardiers pull out a stunner. Attleboro, 14-8.

Brendan Hall: Hornets will find a way to rebound on Friday night in front of their home crowd. How often does Mansfield lose two straight in league play? Mansfield, 20-10.

The Skinny: Auburn saw its state-best win streak snapped at 41 games last fall to these very Rams, before rolling to its fourth consecutive Super Bowl title. This year, we're not sure who has the advantage. Both teams excel at moving the ball on the ground, with Shepherd Hill's Brad Picard (6.7 yards per carry) moving behind a swarming double wing, and Tyler Desjardins (10.8) getting help from a Rockets line that is among the state's biggest.

Barboza: For the Rockets to be knocked off for a second straight year, that would be the greatest upset of all. Auburn, 20-13.

Hall: Set the over-under on total rushing yards in this game at 400. Auburn, 28-21.

The Skinny: A must-see matchup between the Middlesex League's two most talented teams, which includes some of the state's top players at their respective positions. Speedster Marcus Odiah leads a powerful rushing attack from Burlington, but the Red Devils will have their hands full trying to neutralize the Rockets on either side of the ball. Offensively, the Rockets are led by one of the state's finest quarterbacks in Drew Belcher, while defensively the Rockets have allowed just two points through four games this season.

Barboza: The scoreless quarter streak will end, the Rockets keep the win streak going. Reading, 28-14.

Hall: If you score on the Rockets, keep the ball. Reading, 17-3.

The Skinny: A game that could go a long way to deciding the Hockomock League Davenport division crown will be played under a different light Friday, after the Black Knights attend the funeral of fallen tammate David Wade that day. Stoughton will have plenty at stake emotionally, playing for Wade’s memory and coming off another “upset” of Mansfield. Foxborough knocked the Hock on its heels as well last week, upsetting North Attleborough and shutting out the Red Rocketeers.

Barboza: Just too may athletes at too many positions for the Black Knights. Do it for David. Stoughton, 21-17.

Hall: Tough times make tough people. Stoughton, 13-10.

The Skinny: The Hawks assuredly will enter our Mass. Army National Guard Game of the Week with a chip on their shoulder and desperate to turn around a losing record. The Dragons look to make it two in a row over Xaverian, after sealing a victory at the Hawk Bowl last year. Duxbury’s defense paid dividends in that game, and while some of the talent has graduated, they have three-year starting inside linebacker Marshall McCarthy to quarterback the defense. The matchup to watch here will be the interior line play with C.J. LoConte (Army lacrosse commit) going head-to-head with Michigan football commit Mo Hurst.

Barboza: Look for Dave Maimaron to work in some wrinkles this week to keep the Hawks’ defensive line in check. Duxbury, 31-21.

Hall: Hawks will find their groove in this game, but the Dragons will escape for their state-best 31st straight win. Duxbury, 24-17.

The Skinny: A battle between two Merrimack Valley Conference teams off to quality starts in 2012, two of the league's most productive running backs square off in this early-season battle. Chelmsford's Jeff D'Auria (10 TDs) has been a workhorse out of the backfield, while the Hillies' Chance Brady (724 rushing yards, 12 TD) might be the most complete back in the league.

Barboza: The Lions skated on thin ice last week and I think it catches up with them facing the Hillies’ pistol offense with Tommy Morgan at quarterback. Haverhill, 30-28.

Hall: Considering how much talent moved on from a year ago, have to appreciate what Chelmsford is doing right now. Chelmsford, 21-6.

The Skinny: This game screams ball control. Both teams come with highly-touted backfields. The Eagles’ duo of Jonathan Thomas and Alex Moore is the most dynamic in the state. But with Arcel Armstead back and Brandon Gallagher running strong early in the season, the Trojans can match metal with metal. Expect a lot of work out of the I-formation and two-tight end sets as these teams counter strength against strength. The number of completed passes in this one could figure to be counted on one hand, but you can’t argue with what head coaches Jim O’Leary and Dan Buron have done with their respective systems in their careers.

Barboza: I think this one’s going to be very close, but I can’t settle on a score. So I’m going to set a line for the project number of TOTAL possessions in this game. But I’m picking Prep to win. Possessions: 8.5 (that’s being generous perhaps).

Hall: In my book, the waggle trumps the counter. B-R, 7-6.

The Skinny: An underrated non-league matchup between old EAC rivals on the South Coast, both teams figured to have their hands full in this one. For Dartmouth, they must figured out how to slow down the Blue Raiders' vaunted double wing attack, led by senior Garrett Carlos, who has over 350 yards rushing the last two weeks on just 19 carries. For Somerset, the key is slowing Mitch Loranger and Nick Simonetti, two of the more talented players in the Old Colony League.

Barboza: Can the Raiders ride Carlos and Mikey Garrant to a Super Bowl appearance this year as they did with Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear two years ago? Just might. Somerset-Berkley, 34-28.

Hall: Indians were a trendy sleeper pick for 2012, but I think they'll have some trouble against this double wing attack of the Blue Raiders. Somerset-Berkley, 24-14.

Recap: No. 9 Duxbury 20, No. 8 B-R 7

September, 8, 2012

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The hits just keep on coming for No. 9 Duxbury.

The Dragons ran their state best winning streak to 27 games with a 20-7 win over No. 8 Bridgewater-Raynham on Saturday. Even after two straight Super Bowl championship seasons and a historically good 13-0 campaign in 2011, Duxbury showed there’s no need to revel in the glories of the past.

[+] EnlargeRob Kosharek
Scott Barboza/ESPNBoston.comDuxbury tackle Rob Kosharek anchors a physical, veteran offensive line that helped Jon Hurvitz run for 208 yards and two touchdowns Saturday.
Once again, they’re for real.

Senior running back Jon Hurvitz provided the fireworks, racking up 208 yards on 17 carries with two rushing touchdowns. Despite breaking in a new quarterback, taking over for Matt O’Keefe, junior Sean McCarthy (rushing touchdown) was composed in the pocket and showed a tough nose in the running game out of the shot gun.

On defense, the Dragons looked strong again with linebacker Marshall McCarthy frequently dropping the hammer.

Trojans head coach Dan Buron remarked after the game that his team isn’t likely to see a team as talented as their Week 1 opponent – and B-R’s schedule is stacked.

In the end, there are simply too many horses to corral.

“Our [offensive] pace, I think, got to them in the second half,” said Duxbury head coach Dave Maimaron whose team run at a hurry-up pace in the third. “I thought we could go as fast as we could around them, as much as we could.”

Hurvitz gained plenty of game experience last season while featuring at running back for the Dragons after Henry Buonagurio lost most of the season to injury.

He continued the pace in his season debut, breaking off touchdown runs of 22 and 61 yards.

Of course, Hurvitz believes the key to his success has been Duxbury’s offensive line, which returns largely in tact this season.

“We’ve got [Grant] Kramer, [Rob] Kosharek, C.J. [LoConte], who’s going to Army next year for lacrosse. We’ve got [Rick] Lippard and [Jack] Hurlihy, big guys who are all physical. It’s fun to run behind them.”

Hurvitz just fills in the blanks thereon.

“He doesn’t need much room,” Maimaron said of Hurvitz, “he just gets a little seam and he can bust it.”

Even without the services of running back Arcel Armstead, the Trojans showed plenty of promise on offense, despite coming away with just one touchdown.

Sophomore Brandon Gallagher stepped into the Trojans’ tailback role and Buron saw him “grow up” in the game’s second half.

“I told him at halftime that he can’t bounce to the outside, this isn’t freshman football any more. Then, he made some nice cuts in the second half.”

Buron also praised senior Jordan Cohen, who made his first varsity start on Saturday. Cohen showed good chemistry with receivers Ryan Martin, Ryan Scripter and Kevin Wadsworth and command of the offense.

“I thought Jordan Cohen, threw the ball pretty well in the second half,” Buron said. “The big knock on us is that we can’t throw the ball very well, but I thought he showed he could.”
This season, we're trotting a new feature for football season that we started back in the spring. Each Wednesday, we'll pool the minds of our ESPN Boston staff and contributors to debate several hot button topics across the state in our Roundtable.

Without further ado, let's kick off the new season with these takes:


Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: Over the last decade, BC High has proven to be a program with enough sufficient depth to compensate when star players miss a significant time with injury. However, it’s different when you lose the quarterback of your defense, especially when it’s a player as special a talent as the Eagles’ Luke Catarius.

In the scrimmage against Mansfield, after Catarius went out with the ankle injury, the Hornets went to the underneath game and exploited the flats for big gains. There was also one big miscommunication in the secondary that allowed Kevin Maki to wheel right through the middle of the deep field for a 45-yard completion. Not that this won’t be shored up before Friday’s big tilt with Brockton, but it is worth pointing out.

The good news, obviously, is that the Eagles’ Catholic Conference season doesn’t start until late October – but with Xaverian and St. John’s Prep looking sharp, it will be obvious if this team isn’t in proper shape. With that in mind, I expect Brandon Owens’ role at outside linebacker to have an even bigger significance than before. The pressure will also be on the front four, led by Jaleel Johnson, to buy the back seven time.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: In terms of talent, I think the Eagles can get along. My greatest concern for BC High’s defense without Catarius relates to communication. The linebacker has been the leader of the defensive huddle, with messages from the sideline passed along to the inside linebacker. On field, Catarius was the quarterback of the defense as well, not only knowing his own responsibilities, but that of his teammates. That comes from knowledge of the system and cannot be replicated; it only comes through game-condition experience. The Eagles have a bevy of returning starters on the defensive line and secondary to shoulder the load but this one hurts. Will they rely on Brandon Owens to not only be the feature back, but take on more Catarius’ two-way role? We saw what happened last year when Preston Cooper went down at running back and how Deontae Ramey-Doe filled those shoes. So perhaps this will be more of the same for a deep Eagles’ squad. But a player of Catarius’ ilk cannot simply be replaced.

Adam Kurkjian, ESPN Boston correspondent: Without question, losing one of the top two-way players in the state will have a negative impact on BC High. The Eagles will not be able to replace his production easily and there may be an extra loss or two that comes down their way early on because of it. That said, if he is back by the time Catholic Conference play rolls around, BC High will still be one of the favorites to make it back to the playoffs. But still his loss cannot be understated.

Bruce Lerch, ESPN Boston correspondent: Believe it or not, I think the Eagles will be fine defensively. Obviously, Catarius is a one-of-a-kind talent with the ability to singlehandedly change opposing offensive gameplans. BC High will simply lean more on the unit as a whole rather than an individual to bail them out, as Catarius often did with his read and react style of play. Linebackers Danny Collins and Brandon Owens are leaders, defensive linemen like Billy Breen and Jaleel Johnson will take up blockers and make a few plays on their own, and the secondary will have to be more active in supporting.

Oddly enough, I think it's on offense where the Eagles may miss Catarius the most. A bruising fullback, Catarius helped pave the way for Preston Cooper and Deontay Ramey-Doe to pile up yardage last season. New backs Owens and Skyler Evans, along with a mostly inexperienced line, would have benefitted greatly from having Catarius leading the charge.

John Botelho, Editor-in-Chief, South Shore Sports Journal: I'm not even sure this Luke Catarius injury will have any real impact on BC. And I don't mean that as a slight to Catarius - in fact, I think he's the best linebacker in the state. My point of view though is this is a non-issue for the Eagles for two reasons.

First of all, replacing Catarius obviously wouldn't be easy, but aren't teams in the Catholic Conference best suited to replace someone they lose to an injury? Those teams are so loaded and so deep that it seems they have significant depth at every position. Or at least it seemed that way when Preston Cooper - who was arguably the best running back in the state in the first half of last year - went down with a broken ankle. All BC did was go on to win the Super Bowl as Deontae Ramey-Doe stepped in and the Eagles never missed a beat.

Secondly, and most important, is that BC doesn't open up league play until October 26 when they host Malden Catholic. I think even without Catarius, it'd be considered an upset if the Eagles lost that match-up. If it really comes to it, they don't need Catarius back until November 4th, week eight of the season, when they travel to Xaverian. It's reasonable to think that a hairline fracture would be healed up and they'd have him back by then.


Hall: The emergence of Springfield-area talent over the last few years is one of the best stories developing this fall. But in terms of pure talent, for me it’s got to be the Cape & Islands region.

Every year, there seems to be a Cape player that seemingly washes ashore to earn a Division 1 scholarship. Two years ago, it was Randall Jette from Martha’s Vineyard going to UMass. Last year, Nauset’s Brendan Battles-Santos surprising everyone at UConn’s prospect camp to earn a scholarship practically on the spot. This past summer, UMass dug back into the region to pluck 6-foot-7 tight end Terrel Correia out of Nantucket, with intentions of making him an offensive tackle.

We’ll obviously be watching Correia closely this fall, but he isn’t even the best player from the region. Barnstable quarterback Nick Peabody is among the state’s best, with Ivy League interest. Mashpee has three athletes with Division 1 potential in tackle Nate Chrzanowski, running back Jared Taylor (he of the 300-yard epic last year at Gillette Stadium) and his new backfield mate Malik Lee, a Cape Cod Tech transfer with plenty of upside at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds.

Also keep an eye on Dennis-Yarmouth’s Joe Tyo, who still has to fill out but is projectable with a long 6-foot-5 frame and some active footwork. Falmouth sophomore Craig Green will be an intriguing prospect to monitor, after running a 10.6-second 100-meter dash last spring at the New England Track and Field Championships. And as good as Darien Fernandez was on the basketball court for Wareham last winter, some believe he’s an even better running back.

Barboza: I’m looking no further than our statewide preseason Top 25 poll to find two Springfield squads (Central at No. 14 and Putnum at No. 23) and another (Springfield Commerce) knocking on the door. Central is retooled for another run at Longmeadow in Div. 1 West with some key returnees from last year’s squad that made it to Gillette Stadium. Quarterback Cody Williams could be a breakout performer this year and Shawn Lockett is a legitimate force to deal with on the lines. Melquawn Pinkney might be gone, but the cupboard’s not bare for Putnam with Wayne Lowery, shouldering more of the running load while playing lock-down corner. Sha’ki Holines (UConn) and Hassan Graham (not to be confused with the Patriots receiver of yesteryear) grade out at their positions against anybody across the state.

Kurkjian: This is a tough question because the season has not started yet, so it is hard to assess which region has the top players. As it stands now, though, the North Shore looks to have an overflow of top players if you consider Everett part of that region. Also, don't forget BC High's Brandon Owens hails from Salem.

Botelho: Last fall made it hard to argue with any region being more up-and-coming than the Cape. Four of the nine Eastern Mass. Super Bowl champs were from the Cape and Islands (Dennis-Yarmouth Div. 2A, Bourne Div. 3A, Mashpee Div. 4 and Nantucket Div. 5). Not only did those teams each win Super Bowls last season, but the Cape teams outscored opponents 120-29 in those games. Only Bourne had a competitive game, beating defending Super Bowl champ Hamilton-Wenham, 16-14.


Hall: There’s a lot of directions you can go with this one. The addition of Malik Lee, and his soft hands, to Mashpee’s already-dangerous backfield has to feel like a high school offensive coordinator’s dream. Out west, Springfield folks are excited about two potential breakout candidates in Putnam’s Wayne Lowery and Central’s Aaron Owens. St. John's of Shrewsbury's Shadrach Abrokwah is bound for a breakout in John Andreoli's new Oregon-style "blur" offense.

However, I’m going with BC High’s Brandon Owens. That he is already committed to a Division 1 FCS school (Bryant) despite only seeing part-time duty one way last season speaks to his upside. As a runner, there is no wangle to his makeup – he’s a north-south, one-cut guy with a powerful frame that accelerates quickly to hit the hole at full speed.

Losing fullback Luke Catarius for the first six weeks of the season means the Eagles may have to get more creative with their offensive sets. But after seeing him take the corner on toss plays out of “Ace” formations, in the Mansfield scrimmage, I think he’s up for any task the coaching staff throws at him.

Barboza: I think we’re all hedging that Malik Lee of Mashpee will have a monster season in his first year with the Falcons, but I’m going to buck the trend here and go with another runner inside the South Shore League. Abington’s Babila Fonkem tallied seven touchdowns (five of those came in one game against backyard rival Archbishop Williams) and ran for over 1,000 yards last season. I think the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has the potential to more than double last year’s tally as a feature back during Jim Kelleher’s swan song as head coach.

Kurkjian: From the looks of it, Brandon Owens has had a spectacular preseason and he will be the feature back in what expects to be another punishing ground attack for BC High. It appears as if the Eagles have just reloaded there.

Lerch: Everett's Kenny Calaj is already something of a household name, having been an impact weapon in Everett's offense the past two seasons. The majority of that. however, came as a pass catcher. With a pair of untested quarterbacks still battling to replace record-setting Jonathan DiBiaso, not to mention a mammoth group of offensive linemen, it would only make sense for the Tide to return to the ground game and Calaj should benefit as the main ball-carrier. I'm not sure what the record for all-purpose yardage in Massachusetts history, but Calaj is in a position to do some historic things as a senior.

Botelho: Arcel Armstead is primed to have an elite year at running back for Bridgewater-Raynham this season. It's no secret that Dan Buron-coached teams run the ball as well as anyone, and with both Nick Schlatz and Brandon Morin gone, Armstead will be the featured back for the Trojans. His athleticism alone would be enough for him to have a big year in that system, but B-R returns their entire offensive line from a season ago, led by 6-foot-4, 260-pound Joey MacInnis, meaning the sky is the limit for Armstead.

Don't sleep on guys like Jon Hurvitz at Duxbury, who is the best athlete returning to the Dragons who will need to remake their identity a bit without Matt O'Keefe under center. Hurvitz runs hard and has a chance to be the first running back Duxbury has built their offense around in recent memory.

Also, the South Shore League seems littered with potential breakout candidates. Jared Taylor is probably the best well-known running back who was a back-up last season. He flashed his electric running ability in the Super Bowl to the tune of more than 300 yards. But he won't be the only guy terrorizing defense in the league.

Babila Fonkem returns to Abington for a senior year with added size from his 1,000-yard campaign a year ago. Brian Kilmain, a junior for the Green Wave, could give them the most dangerous two-headed backfield in the league.

Andrew Benson, who looks like he'll officially be a quarterback, is ready to break out at East Bridgewater. He could end up running for more yards than ESPN All-Stater Casey DeAndrade a year ago, for more than one reason. Last year, DeAndrade split carries with Tim O'Brien. While Benson will share the backfield duties with Kevin Lynch, he'll see a higher percentage of touches than DeAndrade last year. Also, E-B's offense was so explosive last year that DeAndrade (and O'Brien) had their numbers cut down because the Vikings had big enough leads that the starters weren't on the field a lot in the fourth quarter. Only when they played Abington and Mashpee did starters stay in the entire game. This year's team will rank among the best in the SSL, but I don't think they'll put teams away so quickly this time around.


Hall: This is going to upset some of our readers in the City of Champions, but there’s a realistic possibility of the Boxers coming out of the gate 0-4. Of those first four opponents – BC High, Reading, St. John’s Prep, Xaverian – nobody’s gotten worse from 2011, while I feel Brockton is still sitting in second gear after last year’s disappointing end.

That said, it sounds like Bryant-bound running back/defensive back Micah Morel will be ready for Friday’s opener against BC High after injuring his shoulder in the preseason, so that’s a positive sign. As for record, I think the Boxers will steal a game, either against Prep or Reading, to start off 1-3.

Barboza: Well, let’s go the tape … And hold me to this. I’m going:

Week 1, vs. BC High – Loss

Week 2, at Reading – Win

Week 3, vs. Xaverian – Loss

Week 4, vs. St. John’s Prep – Loss

That would make the Boxers 1-3 rolling into October. Then I think they rebound with three straight wins and finish out the season at 6-5 and represent the Big Three in the Division 1 playoffs as a very dangerous team after enduring a trying first month.

Kurkjian: With so many question marks surrounding this offense, it is hard to project exactly how the Boxers will fare. That said, this is a brutal start to the season. The feeling here is that Brockton manages to steal one and get off to a 1-3 start.

Lerch: It's a very real possibility that Brockton goes 0-4, and I think best case scenario is that they salvage a 2-2 mark. Any better than that and I wonder if the Catholic Conference would have an issue with adding a "league game" between Brockton and Everett to play for its championship.

Botelho: Brockton has the best program in state history. Literally. Their 751 all-time wins ranks first in the state by a wide margin (no one else even has 600 wins). They've also captured 11 Super Bowl titles in 40 years. That said, the last few years haven't been what Boxer fans are used to. They missed the playoffs two years in a row, and last season slumped to a disappointing 5-6.

All those struggles did was ignite something in the Boxers, who look primed to return to the postseason this season. I'm going to say Brockton gets through that portion of the schedule (one Peter Colombo said might rank as the toughest in New England) with a winning record. I'm a believer in Brockton this year, and they'll knock off at least one Catholic Conference opponent, as well as take care of business with Reading and Fitchburg. My guess is the Boxers end up 3-2 in this stretch (including a loss to BC High week one, which they'll avenge in the Super Bowl in December).


Hall: On a state-wide level, Everett’s trip to Leominster is certainly garnering the most interest, and deservedly so. The atmosphere there is going to be electric, with projections of anywhere up to 7-8,000 for expected attendance at Doyle Field. But, at the risk of being the wet blanket here, find me a pundit that doesn’t expect Everett to win.

Putnam-Central will be an intriguing battle out west, but I’m going with an underrated Saturday afternoon showdown in Shrewsbury, where St. John’s will host Holy Name in their customary season-opener. For all of Holy Name’s success under Mike Pucko, the Naps have never beaten St. John’s under John Andreoli. Last year’s contest, a 22-21 St. John’s thriller, was just epic on all fronts. And if there’s any year for Holy Name to get that elusive win over the Pioneers, it’s this one.

Barboza: This might not be the most high profile game on the docket, but I’m looking at the good ole fashioned brawl in the backyard between Dighton-Rehoboth and Somerset. The Falcons, coached by Somerset alum Dave Driscoll, are looking to rebound a bit in the South Coast Conference this season behind physical tackle Chuddy Nwachukwu and the Raiders could bounce back from a rebuilding year last year to finish atop the Eastern Athletic Conference this year. This has always been an underrated rivalry game in Southeastern Mass. and it's a great way to kick off the season for both squads.

Kurkjian: When in doubt, go with the No. 1 team opening up on the road against a program and community brimming with optimism over a Super Bowl win. No matter what happens, the atmosphere for Friday night's Everett at Leominster game will be electric.

Lerch: With apologies to several other high profile (BC High/Brockton) and not-so-high-profile (East Boston/Blue Hills will be a barnburner) matchups certainly deserving attention, the game at the top of my marquee is Duxbury at Bridgewater-Raynham (Saturday, 4 p.m.). Two programs very similar in the foundations programmed by a pair of tremendous head coaches, and both with an eye on getting a jump start on the "reload" process should be ready to go toe-to-toe for 44 minutes (or more).

Botelho: My favorite week one match-up is always Bridgewater-Raynham and Duxbury (especially this year, where these two teams grabbed the top two spots in our pre-season poll over at Both perennial Super Bowl contenders, if either team doesn't bring their 'A' game from the get-go, they start the season with a loss. Dave Maimaron and Dan Buron always have their kids supremely prepared, so this one has a playoff atmosphere in September.