Boston High School: Dante Torres

Recap: Lowell 35, Dracut 20

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
11:58
PM ET
LOWELL, Mass. -- The Dracut football team found itself down by two touchdowns going into the fourth quarter Friday. It was faced with an arduous task of a 3rd-and-goal from the Lowell 19-yard line.

Dracut quarterback Jimmy Ryan dropped back to pass and surveyed the field. Seeing only a few defenders in the middle of the field, Ryan decided to run for it, figuring it was two-down territory anyway, so picking up even half that yardage would put his team in better position on fourth down.

He ran past one defender and then another, all the way down to the 1. Fourth-and-goal from the 1 was more than manageable. Ryan got up in pain after the play, holding his arm. He had to come out for the next play, preventing Dracut from having its starting quarterback on the field for the biggest play of the game.

Dracut went to a Wildcat-style formation where wide receiver Zach Bassett lined up as quarterback. Someone on the offensive line was called for a false start on the 4th-and-1 play, backing the Middies up five yards.

Now needing a touchdown from six yards away, Dante Torres took over at quarterback for Dracut. He rolled to his right on the fourth down play, but threw an incomplete pass, giving the ball back to Lowell.

The Red Raiders held on for a 35-20 victory.

GETTING IT DONE ON BOTH SIDES
Lowell (4-1) came into the game Friday known as a team that could put up a lot of points on teams, but it was its defense that made big plays in this game. On Dracut’s first offensive possession of the game, it was using the running game to attack the defense. It got out to midfield, but running back Leo Lakmany fumbled the ball going down to the ground, which was recovered by Lowell.

In the second quarter, with Dracut (2-3) punting deep in its own territory, Lowell made the decision to go after the punt with a heavy rush and try to block it. R.J. Noel was able to burst through the protection and block it. Cam Latta picked the ball up at the 8-yard line and ran it in for the touchdown.

Later in the quarter, with about a minute to go, Dracut was facing a 3rd-and-22 at midfield. Ryan dropped back and tried to throw, but was intercepted by Nyakeh Koroma. He ran it back all the way to the Dracut 13-yard line. Noel hit Gilberto Brown for a touchdown on the very next play, giving Lowell a 21-8 lead going into halftime.

The defense recovered a Ryan fumble in the last quarter when he dropped back to pass on 4th down. A few plays later, Noel ran a quarterback keeper up the middle 47 yards for a touchdown, making it 35-14.

BOUNCING BACK
The defense was able to get consistent pressure on Ryan throughout the night. It has been a key point of emphasis after giving up 44 points to Nashua South in the team’s only loss of the season.

“We said after the Nashua game that we wanted to make a name for the defense,” said linebacker Ryan Garrigan. “We came out and just played as hard as we could from the moment the ball was snapped.”

“Normally it’s just the offense doing their job but hey, we have to do our job. We did a great job today. We had three turnovers, which are huge. They ended up making the game go in our favor.”

DOUBLE TROUBLE
This was a game of two teams notorious for their spread offenses and their dual-threat quarterbacks. Noel had 18 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown, while Ryan had 25 carries for 93 yards. Through the air, Noel was 8-of-12 for 96 yards and two touchdowns, while Ryan was 11-of-23 for 142 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.

Garrigan felt that playing against a spread offense like Dracut’s so often in practice gave the defense an upper hand when playing a quarterback like Ryan.

“They run the same stuff that we do, they just give it a different name for it,” he said. “When we practice it’s like the same thing that the offense is going to run against us, so it was nice and easy for us. It was just a matter of who was going to execute better, and we executed better tonight.”

Lowell coach John Florence said that facing the speed of a spread offense in practice helped his team immensely for Friday.

“Our ability to go no-huddle matches theirs, it’s not something different we have to prepare for, ” he said. “It’s not just spreading out the field, but it’s the speed at which they go.”

THE ROAD AHEAD
With the loss, Dracut falls to 2-3 with a difficult three-game stretch ahead of it. In consecutive weeks, they play a scrappy Tewksbury team, Chelmsford, and Andover. It will not be easy for a team hoping to be a prominent player in the Merrimack Valley Conference.

Lowell will take its 4-1 record into games against Central Catholic, Tewksbury, and Billerica.

LOWELL 7 14 7 7 -- 35
DRACUT 0 8 6 6 -- 20

1st quarter

L - Jack Galvin 2-yard pass from RJ Noel (Connor McHugh kick good)

2nd quarter
D - Dante Torres 4-yard pass from Jimmy Ryan (2-pt conversion good- Ryan pass to Jeff Breen)
L - Cam Latta 8-yard punt block return (McHugh kick good)
L - Gilberto Brown 13-yard pass from Noel (McHugh kick good)

3rd quarter
D - Zach Bassett 2-yard run (Jack MacShane kick failed- hit upright)
L - Brown 10-yard pass from Galvin (McHugh kick good)

4th quarter
L - Noel 47-yard run (McHugh kick good)
D - Bassett 2-yard run (kick failed)

Recap: No. 19 Dracut 13, No. 12 SJP 7

September, 10, 2011
9/10/11
5:42
PM ET
Dracut PrepBrendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comDracut junior Zach Bassett came up with the game's first score and was in on a slew of tackles on Saturday.


DANVERS, Mass. -- St. John’s Prep is usually the team with the big, experienced offensive line and overpowering ground attack.

Saturday at Cronin Memorial Stadium, however, it was visiting Dracut which fit that bill, and the result was a 13-7 win.

“We’ve got a lot of things to work on,” Dracut coach Jason Houston said. “It wasn’t pretty.”

Indeed, it was a sloppy game on both ends. But if you think a senior group of linemen pushing its way forward on both sides of the ball is attractive, yesterday’s performance by the Middies (1-0) was a thing of beauty. Dracut, looking to reach its fourth consecutive postseason appearance and third straight out of the Merrimack Valley Conference’s Small Division, received the requisite might from seniors Anthony Metzler (5-10, 280), Mike Schiavi (6-4, 285), Conor McAnespie (5-10, 185), Jack Whelton (6-3, 200), Shawn Butt (5-11, 260) and Jacob MacShane (5-11, 200) to make up for the loss of reigning MVC Lineman of the Year Peter Salem, who was out nursing a minor injury.

Quarterback Jimmy Ryan, a junior making his first start, rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and completed 10-of-15 passes for 113 yards. The Middies scored on a 2-yard Zach Bassett rush and a 16-yard zone-read keeper by Ryan in the second quarter to take a 13-0 lead into halftime.

Alex Moore (26 yards rushing, 74 receiving) dove over from a yard out for the Prep’s only score with 2:58 to go, but the Middies picked up three first downs and forced the Eagles to burn their remaining four timeouts.

Game over.

“I look at it as a win is a win,” said Bassett, who rushed for 47 yards and also made a key fourth-down stop on Prep quarterback Tommy Gaudet to start the third quarter. “Every win is huge, especially one like St. John’s Prep. But we’re going to look back, enjoy it tonight and go after it on Monday.”

Some other observations...

Middies swarming: Dracut’s defense was billed as a strength coming into the season and it lived up to that reputation Saturday. In addition to the play from the linemen, the linebackers out of Dracut’s 3-5-3 alignment were all over the field. Tony Ngeth, Bassett, Matt Ferrazzani, junior Pat Noonan and Ryan Schwartz were suffocating. St. John’s Prep inexperienced offensive line opened very few holes and those that did appear closed fast.

“I wouldn’t want to play this defense,” Ryan said with a smile. “They’re phenomenal. They’re fast. They’re strong. They just know where to be at all times.”

Filling big shoes: Ryan stepped in for his first varsity start and wasn’t fazed one bit by an excellent group of defenders on the other side of the ball. He executed the zone read properly and made accurate throws in the short-range passing game. He did exactly what the offense asked him to do and more, and it looks like Dracut is going to be set at the quarterback position for another two years. He has a good group of skill players to work with in junior Bryant Tuff, Dante Torres, Ferrazzani, Bassett and Leo Lakmany. All four showed good hands and nice toughness after the catch.

Green in the trenches: The Prep replaced every offensive lineman and it showed. The youth up front resulted in a lot of false starts and missed assignments. That will work itself out in time, though, as the Eagles were cleaner in that regard in the second half. The Prep was also missing senior Brennan Giles (6-2, 286), maybe the team’s most experienced player in the trenches. Either way, Dracut had the advantage up front.

Promising Prep D: The Eagles are going to be excellent on defense. Even with the offense sputtering like it did for most of the game, the Prep defense managed to shut out a good Dracut offense in the second half. Junior nose guard Corey Jean-Jacques (5-11, 291), a wrestling standout who just came out for football this year, is a nice anchor with ends Owen Lynch and junior Anthony Bongiorno providing speed off the edge. Junior Lucas Bavaro, sophomore Sean Smerczynski, junior R.J. Pizzano and sophomore Jonathan Thomas are a nice corps of young linebackers, while juniors Moore, Gerald Kahari and Jack Sharrio are hard hitters in the secondary. Once this offense starts clicking, look out, because the Prep’s defense is good and will be even better in 2012.

DRACUT 13, ST. JOHN’S PREP 7

DHS (1-0) --- 0 13 0 0 - 13
SJP (0-1) --- 0 0 0 7 - 7

Second Quarter
D - Zach Bassett 2 run (Jacob MacShane kick)
D - Jimmy Ryan 16 run (kick failed)

Fourth Quarter
SJP - Alex Moore 1 run (Connor Shaw kick)

New faces, same tradition for No. 19 Dracut

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
5:27
PM ET
DRACUT, Mass. -- It is a humid, overcast afternoon as coach Jason Houston and his Dracut High School football team put the finishing touches on their first of two Thursday practices in a field hundreds of feet behind the football complex. The practice has already ran beyond its original noon ending time, but it’s this extra time that could prove valuable in the future for the No. 19 Middies.

During one drill, Houston is taking a hands-on approach, acting as a quarterback while trying to teach his linebackers their proper gap-filling assignments on running plays. After each snap, they ask him questions about pre-snap adjustments, what to do when a player goes in motion, and so forth. The second-year coach answers them all, expecting that uncertainty one week into preseason camp. The questions have to be answered now, because once the season starts, the competition will not wait for them to work things out.

On the first Saturday of the season, the Middies play No. 12 St. John’s Prep. Four of the six weeks after that, they face off against Merrimack Valley Conference Large competitors Billerica, Central Catholic, Lowell, and Chelmsford. That is stiff competition, to say the least.

“Playing St. John’s Prep is going to be quite the task for us, where we’re only returning four offensive starters,” said Houston. “But it’s a good way to gauge ourselves in the season and you can’t get better by playing teams that are worse than you. You have to play teams that are better than you. That’s why we play SJP, we scheduled Brockton a few years ago, and had Marshfield and Westford the last few years.”

“We know going in that we might lose one, maybe two of those games, but we’d like to split our non-league games,” he continued. “That way, when we get to the MVC Large teams, we’re a little more ready to play those teams. We should have all the kinks worked out by league play.”

One of the important new offensive starters is quarterback Jimmy Ryan. He spent two years as a backup to Matt Silva, who graduated, but this year he will be thrown into the metaphorical fire that is the MVC. He seems up for the challenge. Also graduated is Chris Malonis, who paired with Silva to be one of the most prolific pitch-and-catch combinations in the MVC.

“I’m excited (to take over at QB),” said Ryan. “I know there’s a history of great quarterbacks here, from Coach (Bobby) Russo, (Matt) Grimard, Tim Dillon, to Matt Silva of course. I don’t want to be the guy to let everyone down, but I think I can do it. I’ve been in this system for two years now and I know we have a great coaching staff here so I think I’ll be ready.”

“I know the schedule isn’t easy, but the coaching staff does a great job preparing each week and coming up with schemes and all that, so I think we’ll be ready no matter who we’re playing,” said Ryan.

Malonis was back at practice Thursday, helping lead the scout team offense and acting as quarterback during wide receiver vs. defensive back drills. He and Russo still being around the program can only help Ryan as he grows into his role.

As practice ends and Houston addresses his team, he acknowledges there is more work to be done. He knows how much he’s going to rely on his new starters on both sides of the ball if he wants to get back to and make some noise in the playoffs.

Can his team do it? That’s a question that can only be answered once the season starts.

DRACUT AT A GLANCE

Head Coach: Jason Houston (2nd season, 8-4)
Last Year: 8-4 (Lost to Reading in Division 2 playoffs)
Key Returnees: Zach Bassett, Jr., WR/OLB 5-8, 170 lbs., Dante Torres QB/DB 5-11, 160 lbs., Jimmy Ryan QB 5-10, 160 lbs., Peter Salem, Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 225 lbs., Tony Ngeth, Sr. RB/LB, 5-9, 170 lbs., Mike Sarault, Sr., RB/LB, 5-7, 165 lbs., Ryan Ignacio, Sr., RB/LB, 5-10, 170 lbs., Nick Dubuque, Sr., OL/DL, 5-6, 185 lbs., Anthony Metzler, Sr. , OL/DL, 5-10, 280 lbs., Mike Schiavi, Sr., OL/DL, 6-4, 275 lbs., Nick Staub, Sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 230 lbs., Tom Babaletos, Sr. OL/DL, 5-11, 250 lbs., Matt Ferrazzani, Sr., TE/LB, 6-0, 190 lbs., Ryan Schwartz, Sr. WR/DB, 5-9, 160 lbs., Shawn Butt, Sr. OL/DL, 5-11, 245 lbs.
Strengths: Experience on both the offensive and defensive line
Weaknesses: Youth in the secondary, only returning four offensive starters, untested players at the skill positions
Outlook: With so many new players on offense, Dracut will try to rely on its defense through the first few weeks of the season. It will also try to take the pressure off its new quarterback. “Early on we’ll probably lean on the run game a lot more than what we’ve done in the past,” said Houston. “I don’t know if we’ll be throwing the ball and gun-slinging it in the first couple of weeks, but we should be alright. We’ll probably look to control the clock with the run game and rely on our defense to get some big stops early, get the offense in some third-and-longs. We’re more experienced upfront on defense so we might be able to do more stuff, play more man-to-man and put some pressure on guys. That will play into our gameplan of controlling the clock and controlling the tempo. Keep the other offense off the field so we can grind it out with our offense.” They will look for balance on offense, not just in run versus pass, but also spreading the ball around through the air. If Dracut can achieve that, they will surely make noise in the MVC and stand a good chance at coming away with their fourth league title in as many years.

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