Boston High School: David Duffy

D2 South: Needham 42, Duxbury 28

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
12:34
AM ET
NEEDHAM, Mass. –- With all the momentum on the Duxbury (5-2) sideline going into the fourth quarter, the Needham Rockets (7-1) needed a spark after giving up 21 unanswered points to the Dragons and losing their halftime lead.

As he has all year, star tail back Mike Panepinto (26 carries, 232 yards, 4 TD) provided that very spark, rushing for 144 yards in the second half and leading Needham over Duxbury 42-28 in impressive fashion.

Down 28-21 early in the fourth, Rockets quarterback Ryan Charter (7-of-13, 173 yards, 2 TD) found Panepinto on a screen pass. The UMass lacrosse commit proceeded to shed two Dragons’ tacklers and fly down field for a 50-yard touchdown and a tie ballgame.

“We decided as a team in that fourth quarter that we were not going to lose, and we haven’t lost a game here since Natick in 2011...We weren’t about to let it happen tonight,” Panepinto said.

The big play from Panepinto was nothing new for Needham head coach Dave Duffy.

“He was in space, and when Mike is in space, he’s trouble," Duffy said. "He got tripped up a little bit, then regained his balance and he was off to the races. They didn’t have enough guys over there to catch him, they can’t account for him at all times. It was definitely a momentum changer."

Panepinto helped anchor the next drive as well, but it was receiver Mike Elcock (4 catches, 110 yards, 2 TD) who was there in the end zone to recover a Panepinto fumble on the goal line and score a Needham touchdown.

“Before the game, I said we hadn’t been down in a game since Westwood earlier in the year," Panepinto said. "At the end of the game we can’t crumble, we can’t start pointing fingers and stuff. We did a great job of coming together as a team and capping off two great scoring drives there at the end."

Moments later, Cliff Kurker picked off a Bobby Maimaron pass and brought it back to the Duxbury 35 yard line. Panepinto did the rest, busting off two straight first downs followed by a 12-yard touchdown run to seal the victory for the host Rockets.

The star senior chose not to address his individual performance as much, but instead the fact that great performances from teammates like Charter, Elcock, and Jack Walsh (79 yards rushing) helped open up the running game.

“I thought that we did a good job of spreading the ball around tonight, we showed the rest of the state that we have kids who can do stuff all over the field. Mike Elcock played great, and Jack Walsh played really well too,” Panepinto said, “Ryan Charter threw the ball well. When all those guys are playing well, it really opens up the running game for me. It’s good to see the whole team getting the ball.”

Duxbury came out flat and at one point was down 21-7 in the second quarter, but Maimaron, a freshman, had something else in mind.
Maimaron found Wes Quinzani for a 69-yard touchdown pass down the sideline in the second quarter, then ran a score in himself to tie the game in the third quarter. With the ball on the Needham 15 to start the fourth, Maimaron hit Drew Hadley near the front left pylon to give the Dragons their first lead since being up 7-0.

“We did fight back, we had some troubles on our own end and they punched in two quick ones. But the kids never panicked, we’re a senior-laden team. We’ve got 32 seniors,” Duffy said, “The kids did a great job of not getting down on themselves and not bickering...just working hard. They’re a great team over there that we beat tonight.”

The Rockets will go on to face top-seeded Mansfield team next Friday in the D2 South semis. Though the Hornets will be favored in the minds of most, the Rockets will continue to embrace the role of talented underdog.

“With all these great teams, I don’t think a lot of teams are counting Needham into this...we have a pretty good team over here in Needham,” Panepinto said, “I think we’re going to give Mansfield a run for their money next weekend. I wouldn’t count us out of it by any means. We’ve got a good team.”

Football Notes: High praise for breakout candidates

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
12:01
AM ET
A few notes and observations from the first week of MIAA preseason football:

Lofty, Loyte-y Comparisons: It's probably the worst-kept secret at St. John's Prep that junior tight end Jake Burt had one of the best summers in the program. All summer long, the 6-foot-4, 224-pound Lynnfield native dazzled in passing leagues and 7-on-7 tournaments, out-muscling defenders on 50/50 balls and boxing out others on goal line plays.

All summer long, coaches at the Prep program have raved about his development; and melded with his prowess on the school's basketball and volleyball teams, many are projecting highly for Burt, who is entering his first season as full-time starter after serving in part-time duty with the varsity last fall.

But perhaps no praise yet has been as high as the name head coach Jim O'Leary dropped on Tuesday morning, following a press conference to introduce the school's new baseball coach. Making a comparison to former great Jon Loyte -- an All-American who starred at Vanderbilt and Boston College, and had a brief cup of coffee with the New York Giants in 2010 -- O'Leary was blunt.

"I love Jon Loyte, but he [Burt] is more athletic," O'Leary said. "He's not as physically imposing as Jon was. Now, he weighed in last night [Monday, Aug. 19] at 6-4-1/2, 224 pounds, [and] he ran a 4.8 40. I thought that was impressive last night."

Burt dabbled last year in an H-back role, lining up both in the backfield and on the perimeter, and also took some snaps at quarterback in "Wildcat" packages. Expect him to take a similar role this fall, as the Eagles try to live up to their preseason billing as the state's No. 1 team and capture a second straight Division 1 title in the first year of a true MIAA State Championship.

It could be a similar situation to what St. John's of Shrewsbury had in 2010 with Richard Rodgers, the monster tight end/defensive end currently entering his third season at Cal. The 6-foot-4 Rodgers lined up both in the slot and split out wide, creating a matchup problem compounded with the added running threat of quarterback Dan Light, a converted tight end who is now manning a similar spot at Fordham.

"It's not our first rodeo here, we're probably going to use the talents that our people have," O'Leary said. "I think that you saw that situation last year, running some wildcat stuff. The trouble is, he sets the edge so well blocking, that it's going to be difficult to take him out of that tight end position. And his ability because he's 6-foot-4-1/2, to be split out as a wideout, similar to what St. John's Shrewsbury did with the kid that went to Cal, Rodgers, they used to split him out.

"It's a good matchup for us out there. Honestly, as weird as this sounds, we're probably gonna have to throw the ball more than we did last year. We need to take people out of the box."

High remarks from a former coach: One week of preseason in the books, and senior transfer Joe D'Onofrio is already making his presence felt at Everett High, scoring twice in yesterday's scrimmage with Lynn English. That comes as no surprise to his former coach at Pope John XXIII, which has since co-oped its program with Chelsea due to lack of numbers.

"You can quote me, Joey’s a stud. He’s a stud, man," said Brian Vaughan, now the head coach at Boston English. "Not a lot of people know about him, people try telling me he's not gonna play at Everett, and I laugh. I'm shocked he was with me at Pope John -- he's a stud. Some of the things he's done for me the last two years is just ridiculous. He's a perfect fit for them."

After his freshman season at Everett, D'Onofrio transferred across town to Pope John, and made his impact felt immediately in Vaughan's patented spread attack. In D'Onofrio's sophomore season of 2011, he ranked second on the team in receiving behind ESPN Boston All-State selection Malcolm Brown, while also rushing for 1,106 yards on just 105 carries.

Last fall, D'Onofrio earned Catholic Central Small MVP honors after carrying 174 times for 1,356 yards and 16 scores. Offensively, blessed with high-4.5 speed, he got touches in every skill position, including quarterback; defensively, he was just as vicious, making downhill plays from both the safety and outside linebacker spots.

Among the most talented players he's worked with in his two-plus decades of coaching, Vaughan recalls back to his time as an assistant at his alma mater Lynn English, and to former defensive tackle Matt Curtis, an athletic savant who overcame dramatic hardships to captain Harvard's football team in 2008.

"[Joe] would always wow you on offense, but when he'd come upfield from an outside linebacker or safety spot, he comes up and he's laying the wood," Vaughan said. "I've been coaching high school sports for a long time, and he's up there with my favorite athletes. He’s up there with Matt Curtis from the early 2000's. Obvioulsy he was a defensive tackle, but his athletic ability was crazy. He was a defensive tackle that returned kicks for us."

So what should folks in Everett expect from D'Onofrio this fall?

"What they should expect is someone who will work hard and do whatever it takes to win," Vaughan said. "He's definitely a team player, whatever you ask him to do he's gonna do it 120 miles an hour. Personally, I expect nothing but a lot of good things over there. [Everett head coach] John DiBiaso does an excellent job with the talent that he has, and Joe is going to fit right in and continue to have the success he's had at the high school level."

Secret ingredient? The first touchdown of No. 21 Needham's preseason came from a name familiar to the hardwood.

John Madsen, the 6-foot-6 senior star forward for the Rockets' basketball squad, is back out for football for the first time since his freshman year. You could say he's made his impact felt already, scoring the first of two Rockets touchdowns in Saturday's scrimmage with Newton South, hauling in a pass from senior quarterback Ryan Charter.

Needham is one of those programs that typically draws unique crossover talent, led this year by Mike Panepinto, a 2,000-yard rusher last fall who is committed to UMass for lacrosse. Two years ago, lacrosse star Mark Riley was a stud on the gridiron, stretching the field vertically as a flex tight end to earn ESPN Boston All-State honors.

Basketball backgrounds typically translate well to the tight end position -- see Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham at the NFL level. It's a work in progress, but you can't teach size, and so far Madsen has demonstrated a wide catching radius. He will likely stick at wide receiver, and won't play defense.

"He can catch, and he’s tall, and in terms of playing wide receiver those are two very good intangibles," Rockets head coach David Duffy said. "If we can get him up to speed on the offense...I'm hoping he improves every week, but he’s working hard at it. He's gonna be another weapon we can utilize, because everybody is going to be keying on Mikey [Panepinto]."

Video: Needham 36, Framingham 12

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
11:36
PM ET
The Needham Channel sports producer Michael Dermody passes along highlights from Needham High's 36-19 win over Framingham, accentuated with a career night from senior running back Mikey Panepinto (32 carries, 254 yards) and head coach David Duffy's 100th career victory.

(Video Courtesy of The Needham Channel)

Recap: No. 6 Walpole 31, No. 23 Needham 0

October, 20, 2012
10/20/12
12:10
AM ET


WALPOLE, Mass. -— There’s probably no way Barry Greener is just going to use this play every time his offense gets inside the 30-yard line.

But outside observers might not blame him if he does.

Chris Collins and his big frame splits out wide against a defensive back and the tight end uses his body to outmuscle, out-jump and out just about everything against a smaller defender in a jump ball scenario in the end zone.

[+] EnlargeChris Collins
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comTight end Chris Collins was at his most dangerous tonight on the perimeter, where he hauled in two touchdown passes off of 'Go' routes.
Walpole used that play -- let’s call it “Go, Collins” -- twice to perfection last night in a 31-0 trumping of Needham at Turco Memorial Field. The rest of the Bay State Conference, and Eastern Mass., might want to take notice when big No. 85 jogs towards the linesman and sets up as a wide receiver. Because more likely than not, quarterback Will Bolster is going to find his target.

“That’s a little mismatch,” said Greener. “We have it and we use it. You don’t have something like that every year, so when you have it you might as well use it.”

Collins has the build of a power forward and is very much in the mold of Antonio Gates, in terms of how the Rebels are deploying him. Collins finished with three catches for 55 yards and two scores against the Rockets (5-2).

“I used to play basketball, so I’m used to posting people up,” said Collins. “Bolster is a great quarterback. Credit to him and the offensive line for blocking.”

The play will give the Rebels options when defenses try to gameplan on how to stop the tight end from getting a seemlesly easy touchdown. Just let Barry Greener tell you in the only way coach Greener knows how.

“He’s improved a lot,” said Greener. “Chris, in my opinion, is still a better defensiver player and he is a offensive player. Now he’s starting to get a clue on offense. Defense is more instinctive. A lot of times we are slanting or angling. It’s more instinctive. With offense you have to have a grasp and a knowledge of the game. What are we trying to do on offense? What is your role? Why are you out there? He blocks very well. He’s a great stock blocker.

"He’s there to block and try to create a mismatch with a smaller cornerback. If they are out there to double him then we try to overload the other side. It’s pretty hard to double Collins if you’ve got three receivers to cover on the other side. It’s tough to cover unless you bring in a dime coverage with six defensive backs. Then we are going to run the ball at you.”

[+] EnlargeConnor Moriarty
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comRunning back Connor Moriarty filled in admirably for the injured Mike Rando, rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown.
FILLING IN FOR RANDO
Mike Rando is still in a walking boot, but Greener said his running back/defensive back will be out of the boot on Saturday and will most likely be ready for the heavyweight matchup against Natick.

The Rebels had plenty of options to counter the loss.

Connor Moriarty rushed 16 times for 122 yards and a score, Cam Hanley added a score, and Steve Thulin gained tough yards through the middle of the field to keep the offensive churning in tough weather conditions.

“Our running backs coach said this isn’t Team Rando, it’s the Walpole Rebels,” said Moriarty. “We really stuck to that tonight and it paid off.”

That being said, Rando’s health will be key for the Rebels as they look towards the playoffs.

“He’s a great defensive player,” said Greener. “He plays safety, corner plays in the slot, he plays tailback. He does everything. He can cook hot dogs at halftime.”

CHARTER DOWN
Ryan Charter didn’t play the second half for the Rockets after taking a big hit on the sideline late in the first half. The junior quarterback sustained an injury to his throwing hand and had it taped after the game was over.

“We don’t know,” said Needham coach Dave Duffy. “We are going to get it X-rayed and we will see what his family says. Hopefully he will be back. He’s a big part of our offense.”

No. 20 Needham ready to defend target on back

August, 23, 2012
8/23/12
8:49
AM ET
NEEDHAM -- Dave Duffy had a simple message for his Needham High football team at the first practice of the season.

Duffy belted out to his players that the target in the Bay State Conference was going to be squarely aimed at the Needham Rockets this season, and for good reason.

Needham is fresh off the arguably the most successful season in the history of the program after collecting its first playoff victory in the two-plus decades under Duffy. The Rockets came up short at Gillette Stadium, but with 33 seniors back on the team —- and Ryan Charter getting the nod as starting quarterback after a successful, and also somewhat surprising, sophomore season -— there is optimism in Needham that the forward momentum will keep on rolling this year.

“They want to do it for each other and they know what teamwork is all about,” Duffy said. “I think there is a big target on us and everybody wants to knock us off. We have to keep the fumbles down, the turnovers down and the penalties down and play tough football.”

The trip to last year’s 9-4 record and run to Gillette Stadium didn’t come without its bumps and bruises. Duffy watched starting quarterback Drew Burnett go down with a season-ending injury mid-way through the season against Milton, and several other skill position players got bit the by the injury bug along the way.

Charter came in and kept the offense potent, and this year he will be asked to take on a bigger role as leader of the team.

“He’s got to be the leader of the offense,” said Duffy. “Last year he had great help and this year we’ve got leadership all over. He’s got to manage the offense and manage the football and not get worried if something happens. He’ll be fine. He did it last year and he’s been working hard all summer.”

Charter went 4-3 as a starter last year and had one of his best games of the season in the Rockets playoff victory over New Bedford, when he threw for 183 yards and accounted for three touchdowns.

With a little seasoning from last year, Charter is looking to improve and take what he learned onto the field entering his junior season.

“A lot of my game is built on confidence,” said Charter. “When you make a mistake you can only make up for it with the next play. You need to forget the past and move on to the next play to eliminate any bad thoughts in your head and now let that one mistake affect the rest of the game.”

The Rockets certainly have some holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball, but stability at the quarterback position seems to be something Duffy and company don’t have to worry about, and Charter said he is chomping at the bit to get another taste of the Gillette Stadium experience.

“There was no achievement in just getting there,” said Charter. “We wanted to win that game and I still feel like we could have won that game too. We have a lot to prove this year after losing a couple of great seniors and I’m excited.”

NEEDHAM AT A GLANCE
2011: 9-4 (8-2 in Bay State Carey) Lost in Div. 1 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium
Coach: Dave Duffy (25th season)
Key Returnees: Ryan Charter, Jr., QB, 6-2, 175lb; Dan Sheehan, Sr., RB/LB, 6-0, 195lbs; Mitch Hildreath, Sr., OT/DE, 6-2, 225lbs; Nico Panepinto, Sr., WR/DB, 5-1, 175lbs; Tim McCarthy, Sr., TE/DE, 6-0, 195lbs; Ned Connolly, Sr., OG/DL, 5-10, 175lbs; Mike Panepinto, Jr, RB/DB 5-10, 165lbs; Jake Murphy, Sr., RB/DB, 5-7, 165lbs.
Strengths: Senior leadership, Quarterback play.
Weaknesses: Depth.
Outlook: The Rockets survived injury after injury last season and didn’t seem to miss a beat as they made it all the way to within a game of their ultimate goal. The depth that ultimately saved their season last year might not be there this year, and losing a key guy — like a Ryan Charter or any other offensive weapon — might come back to haunt the Rockets this year. Charter won’t have safety valve tight end Mark Riley or Mike Vespa out of the backfield this year, but look for Nico Panepinto to be the speedy, deep threat receiver for the Rockets. Jake Murphy, Mike Panepinto and Robby Pisano are all backs who will benefit greatly from former Belmont Hill head coach Kevin Flemming, as he works full-time with the running backs this year. Mitch Hildreath is the only starter back on the offensive line and Duffy will need to get a solid wall to let Charter in the offense do what they do best offensively.

Recap: BC High 21, Needham 7

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
11:41
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -– Boston College High School’s senior running back Deonate Ramey-Doe recorded three rushing touchdowns against Needham, as the Eagles defeated the Rockets in the Division I Eastern Massachusetts Super Bowl, 21-7.

“He’s earned himself as a top, great running back [over] the last six games,” said Boston College High School head coach Jon Bartlett. “It was his time to shine [on Saturday], he did a great job.”

Needham’s special teams set the tone early, as the Rockets recovered an onside kick on the initial kick-off, and then registered their only touchdown of the game five plays later when sophomore quarterback Ryan Charter (139 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT) connected with senior running back Mike Vespa for a five-yard score.

“We were trying to get things going [early on in the first quarter],” said Needham head coach Dave Duffy, when asked about his team’s decision to attempt an onside kick.

The Eagles responded on the ensuing possession, as Ramey-Doe, (24 carries, 200 yards, 3 TDs) scored his first of three touchdowns on a five-yard run before ripping off a 91-yard score mid-way through the second quarter.

“They weren’t ready for that formation,” said Ramey-Doe, when asked to describe his 91-yard run. “So, once we ran it, it was wide-open.”

In the second half, the Eagles offense controlled the clock, and once again, handed the ball to Ramey-Doe, who capped off a 13-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard run in the third quarter.

Needham’s offense then attempted to rally, despite trailing by two scores, but couldn’t muster a single touchdown, as the Eagles defense intercepted Charter three times to preserve the win, and their second championship in three seasons.

“They’re a great football team, [and] they deserve to be Division I Super Bowl champs, but as tough and as hard as we played, I thought we could have played a little bit better,” said Duffy.

Defending Ramey-Doe: Entering Saturday’s affair against the Eagles, Duffy and his defense knew that in order to be successful, they’d have to stop Ramey-Doe. However, the Rockets struggled through four quarter, and couldn’t slow down the senior running back that finished the game with 200 yards on 24 carries.

“We gave up a lot of yards on the base running game because we’re a little outsized-wise. Their fullback had a good game running too,” said Duffy. “They’re a little bigger, tougher than we were -– bigger or stronger than we were, [but] we hung tough with them.”

Ramey-Doe expressed after the game concluded that a major reason he experienced a great deal of success on the ground was because of his offensive line.

“[They were] huge,” said Ramey-Doe. “I just got to trust my lineman, run has hard as I can, and it’ll be that.”

“[During] halftime, we challenged our guys and said, we’re going to pound it [during our] opening drive, and we challenged the guys and they rose to the occasion, and we marched down the field, so [our] offensive played well tonight,” said Bartlett.

Eagles D solid: It could have been the bright lights or the fact Needham had finally made it to Gillette Stadium, but against the Eagles on Saturday, Charter struggled against an Eagles front seven that constantly pressured him all game.

“A couple of them I thought could have been caught by the Needham kids, but that’s the way it goes,” said Duffy. “BC High’s defense is one of the best team’s in the state, so other teams look bad against them too.”

“Our defense played great tonight,” said Bartlett. “That opening drive they had, they scored, and we shut [them] down after that, so [our] defense played outstanding.”

Bartlett then continued by saying, “[Charter] is outstanding. He’s going to be a good one. I think he has a bright future.”

Besides the passing game, the Rockets running game seemed to falter, especially since the offensive line struggled to open the proper running lanes for their backs. Vespa led the Rockets with 60 yards on 16 carries, while senior Danny Pierce and Nico Panepinto combined for two carries for 15 yards.

“Our line was working hard, [but] they’re big, strong kids, and our line was pushing them around. We were undersized against them, but credit’s got to go to the line, they were doing their job for most of the game, so we just stuck together,” said Vespa.

Overall, the Eagles defense yielded 204 yards (139 passing, 65 rushing).

BC HIGH 21, NEEDHAM 7
BC (10-3) – 7-7-7-0—21
NE (9-4) – 7-0-0-0—7

First Quarter
N- Mike Vespa 5 pass from Ryan Charter (Andrew Murowchick kick)
BC- Deontae Ramey-Doe 5 run (Jackson Bockhurst kick)

Second Quarter
BC – Ramey-Doe 91 run (Bockhurst kick)

Third Quarter
BC – Ramey-Doe 1 run (Bockhurst kick)

Recap: Natick 49, No. 16 Needham 24

October, 29, 2011
10/29/11
12:58
AM ET


NEEDHAM, Mass. -– Just one week after the No. 16 Needham Rockets scored one of their gutsiest wins of this season, they came back to Earth thanks to an electric Natick offensive display, the Red and Blue winning 49-24 to hand the Rockets their first loss of 2011.

“This is huge. That’s a great team,” said Natick head coach Mark Mortarelli. “Unfortunately, they’re under-manned, a couple of guys got hurt during this game, [and] of course the quarterback’s out, but anytime you beat Needham, they’re very well-coached and they’re very balanced. It’s just huge for us.”

Natick sophomore quarterback Troy Flutie, (11 of 14, 181 yards, 2 TD), set the tone early, as he connected with sophomore wide receiver Alex Hilger for the game's initial score, before Needham responded with a field goal by senior place kicker Andrew Murowchick.

The Rockets then surprised the Red and Blue on the ensuing kick-off with an onside kick, which set up sophomore quarterback Ryan Charter's nine-yard scoring strike to senior tailback Mike Vespa. Flutie and freshman Brian Dunlap, (12 carries, 69 yards 3 TD), responded with a score each, which gave Natick a 21-17 lead at the break.

In the second half, Vespa (11 carries, 78 yards) capped off a seven play series with a five-yard plunge. But it was all Natick the rest of the way, scoring 27 unanswered points. Flutie threw and ran for a score, while Dunlap and junior Nick Lee each sprinted by Needham’s defense for points.

“[This win] is great," Flutie said. "It gives us so much confidence heading into Wellesley, Walpole and Framingham. I feel great about those games, [and] I really feel like we can win those and go farther."

Line Opened the Run: After the Red and Blue celebrated their seventh win of the season, Flutie and Dunlap thanked their offensive line after the game, who provided the necessary holes to help the team combine for 255 yards on the ground.

“The running game was awesome," Flutie said. "Our o-line blocked awesome, our coaching as awesome. Coach [Brian] Maloney, Coach [Matt] Brenneman, all our o-line men did their jobs, and we had holes, it was great.”

Said Dunlap, “I know the offensive line was awesome. I’m so happy for those guys, they worked their butts off, and they practiced hard all week, and it’s tough being an o-line men, but they’re proud of what they do. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Even Mortarelli was quite pleased, saying, “They were just clicking. That was the best I’ve seen them play, and I was really proud of our offensive coaches.”

Needham’s Injuries: The Rockets offense, defense and special teams was nipped by the injury bug all evening, as senior running backs Ian Riley and Mike Vespa both left the game and did not return.

Riley, (three carries, 28 yards), who exited after the first quarter returned to the sidelines for the remainder of the contest with no pads or helmet, but instead, crutches. After the game concluded, he quickly muttered that he sprained his MCL and could most likely miss the rest of the season.

As for Vespa, he may have sustained a concussion on the team’s only touchdown of the second half, according to head coach Dave Duffy.

“We think he could be back in a couple of weeks, so we don’t know," Duffy said. "Riley hopefully [will] be back in a couple weeks too.”

Burnett returned to the gridiron: Two weeks after his quarterbacking career at Needham ended with a broken ankle against Milton, senior co-captain Drew Burnett returned to Memorial Field on Friday evening, and met Natick’s captains at midfield for the opening coin toss. Afterward, Burnett was forced to watch his team struggled against a Red and Blue offense that refused to be stopped.

“It’s tough to watch, especially with a game like this [one],” said Burnett after his team’s second loss of the season.

NATICK 49, NEEDHAM 24
NAT (7-1) 7 14 7 22 --- 49
NEE (7-1) 10 7 7 0 --- 24

First Quarter
Nat – Alex Hilger 32 pass from Troy Flutie (Sam Lenson kick)
Need – Andrew Murowchick, 35 field goal
Need – Mike Vespa 9 pass from Ryan Charter (Murowchick kick)

Second Quarter
Nat – Brian Dunlap 20 run (Lenson kick)
Need – Nico Panepinto 27 pass from Charter (Murowchick kick)
Nat – Flutie 14 run (Lenson kick)

Third Quarter
Need – Vespa 5 run (Murowhick kick)
Nat – Nick Lee 2 run (Lenson kick)

Fourth Quarter
Nat – Flutie 6 run (Dunlap run)
Nat – Dunlap 36 run (Lenson kick)
Nat – Dunlap 7 run (kick blocked)

Recap: No. 16 Needham 31, No. 17 Walpole 22

October, 21, 2011
10/21/11
11:41
PM ET


NEEDHAM, Mass. -- The Needham football team proved Friday night that the loss of one player is not going to derail its chances at a Bay State Conference Carey Division title and more.

With starting quarterback Drew Burnett out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury, sophomore Ryan Charter found himself at the helm against Walpole and proceeded to burn the visiting Rebels with one big play after another in a 31-22 Rockets' win.

“Honestly, I found out (that I would start about) 20 minutes before the game,” said Charter, who completed 5-of-10 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. “A couple kids were telling me, ‘You’re going to get in the game.’ I was, like, ‘Alright, that’s all I need.’ But I didn’t know until today.”

The heavy-hearted coach of the No. 16 Rockets, David Duffy, had to compose himself when he remarked how his players “wanted to do it for Drew.”

They did it alright, as they took down Walpole for the first time since 2006 and looked good doing so. Despite Walpole having what Rebels coach Barry Greener said was his team’s best offensive game of the season, Needham (6-1, 6-0 in the BSC) never wavered, landing haymaker after haymaker.

Ian Riley (115 yards rushing) set up Needham’s first touchdown with a 64-yard run that was soon followed by a jet sweep to senior Dan Pierce, who pulled up and hit Nico Panepinto for a 31-yard touchdown.

Walpole (6-1 overall and in BSC) answered with a Steve Thulin 4-yard score but the PAT was wide right to keep it at 7-6. One play later, Charter hit Mark Riley for a 67-yard touchdown pass as the Rockets took a 14-6 lead into halftime.

They built on it on the first series of the third quarter when Charter found Mark Riley again, this time for a 74-yard score that pushed the advantage to 21-6. Walpole immediately answered on a Shane Blass (152 yards rushing) 66-yard scoring run that helped make it 21-14 after a P.J. Hayes two-point rush.

Needham again had a response, though, as Charter hit Mike Vespa on a 49-yard screen that led to a 19-yard Andrew Murowchick field goal.

The Rockets defense then held for a turnover on downs and the offense chewed up 6:48 in a drive that culminated in a 6-yard Ian Riley run to make it 31-14 midway through the fourth.

Walpole added the final points when Hayes scored from six yards out and Blass added the two points out of the Wildcat, but Needham ran out the clock effectively on the final drive to secure the victory.

A BALANCED EFFORT
Walpole coach Barry Greener praised Needham after the game for always having great balance on offense, and his team paid dearly for it on Friday night. The Rockets can hurt defenses in a variety of ways, and the Rebels simply had a hard time getting Needham’s offense off the field. Charter was efficient on his throws, did not turn the ball over and made the Rebels pay for cheating up on play-action. The running back duo of Ian Riley at tailback and Vespa at fullback provided the sleeper hold on Walpole’s defense when it needed to kill the clock in the final quarter. Mark Riley again proved to be a speedy option in the passing game, and Pierce also made two big receptions in the fourth to help the Rockets extend their final touchdown drive, including a 24-yarder on third-and-13 from the Needham 18. The Rockets simply put on a clinic against one of the better defenses in the area.

SPEED MERCHANTS
There was a lot of speed on the field, but Hayes, a junior cornerback and wide receiver, may have been the fastest player out there. Although he bit on the trick play that resulted in Needham’s first score, he prevented one earlier in the drive when he chased down Ian Riley from a bad angle on the 64-yard run. Hayes also broke up several passes with good technique on some long throws to his side. And if Hayes wasn’t the fastest player on the Rebel sideline, it was Blass, who can really scoot once he gets in the open field. The Rebels have struggled at times on offense this year, but those two only need a little space to change those fortunes on any given play.

NEEDHAM 31, WALPOLE 22
Walpole (6-1, 6-1 BSC) 0 6 8 8 - 22
Needham (6-1, 6-0 BSC) 7 7 10 7 - 31


1st quarter
N - Nico Panepinto 31 pass from Dan Pierce (Andrew Murowchick kick)

2nd quarter
W - Steve Thulin 4 run (kick failed)
N - Mark Riley 67 pass from Ryan Charter (Murowchick kick)

3rd quarter
N - M. Riley 74 pass from Charter (Murowchick kick)
W - Shane Blass 66 run (P.J. Hayes rush)
N - Murowchick 19 FG

4th quarter
N - Ian Riley 6 run (Murowchick kick)
W - Hayes 6 run (Blass rush)

Week 5 High Schools Podcast is up

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
3:10
PM ET
With the first month of the season done, we highlighted some of the high's this week on our ESPN Boston High Schools podcast, which is up now on ESPNBoston.com.

We checked in with Needham head coach David Duffy after his Rockets upset previous No. 6 Weymouth, and we also look ahead to Saturday afternoon's colossal showdown between No. 2 Duxbury and No. 4 Xaverian.

You can find the podcast here.

Recap: Needham 45, No. 6 Weymouth 28

October, 1, 2011
10/01/11
9:41
PM ET
NEEDHAM, Mass. -– Prior to the start of the 2011 season, Needham had this particular contest circled on their calendar.

And, well, they certainly seemed prepared, as the unranked Rockets beat up on the No. 6 Weymouth Wildcats, 45-28.

The Rockets relied heavily upon their ground game, as senior tailbacks Ian Riley and Mike Vespa ate up the Wildcats front seven, combining for 279 yards and three rushing touchdowns.

“We [were] working on running the ball all week,” Needham head coach Dave Duffy said. “We got four good running backs and we try to give them the ball and Ian got tired their late in the game, we put Vespa in and he usually blocks, so it’s nice for him to carry the ball a lot and they both did a great job.”

Following a quick scoring strike from Weymouth’s senior quarterback Cam McLevedge to senior receiver Shawn Whouley in the first quarter, Needham’s offense took over and tallied 24 points. Needham senior quarterback Drew Burnett, who finished the game with three touchdowns, connected with both Nico Panepinto and Ian Riley to take a 24-7 halftime lead.

To start the third quarter, the Rockets took a page out of the New Orleans Saints' book, catching the Wildcats' special teams unit off-guard with an onside kick, which led to a touchdown pass from Burnett to Panepinto.

The Rockets' lead wasn’t totally safe, as McLevedge connected with senior receiver Khary Bailey-Smith for back-to-back scores before the Rockets defense collected three interceptions and forced junior running back Ozzy Colarusso to fumble the ball on Weymouth’s final drive.

“It’s a very disappointing game. We practiced [this past] week on what they were going to do, [and] we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to do,” McLevedge said. “I take a lot of blame for the game, made a lot of bad reads, [but] we just got to bounce back for next week and just see what we do in the rest of the season.”

Ian Riley’s dominance: The senior tailback tallied 186 yards on 22 carries for two touchdowns, as well as recorded two receptions for 29 yards and one touchdown. Weymouth’s offense struggled against Needham’s running attack, which ate up the front seven all game. Riley rushed for 142 yards on 13 carries in the second half, as well as recovered a loose ball during the first half.

Denying Mark Riley: While Needham’s pass happy offense struggled at times, Weymouth’s linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties shutdown Burnett’s safety blanket. Weymouth head coach Kevin Mackin described Riley has the best tight end in the state.

“He’s just clobbering everybody and we put a great athlete on him, our quarterback, which is double duty for him, so maybe that hurt a little offensively, who knows, but he covered him and we had Bailey-Smith over the top,” Mackin said. “We maybe over-committed a little bit, but clearly that kid is the best tight-end in the state when we [wanted] to make sure that we slowed him down [and] unfortunately they had way too many weapons to go to other than him.”

Wildcat Turnovers: Mackin expressed that the turnovers was the biggest issue for Weymouth, who recorded three interceptions and two fumbles.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate staying away from it obviously, [but] it caught up with us tonight and we got our share hopefully for the season,” Mackin said. “[There was] just way too many against a fantastic football team.”

NEEDHAM 45, WEYMOUTH 28

NHS (3-1) 14 10 7 14 --- 45
WHS (3-1) 7 7 14 0 --- 28

1st Quarter
W – Shawn Whouley 6 pass from Cam McLevedge (Tyler Smith kick)
N - Ian Riley 3 run (Andrew Murochick kick)
N – Nico Panepinto 23 pass from Drew Burnett (Murochick kick)

2nd Quarter
N – Riley 29 pass from Burnett (Murochick kick)
W – Ozzy Colarusso 5 run (Smith kick)
N – Murochick 25 Field Goal

3rd Quarter
N – Panepinto 15 pass from Burnett (Murochick kick)
W – Khary Bailey-Smith 14 pass from McLevedge (Smith kick)
W - Bailey-Smith 19 pass from McLevedge (Smith kick)

4th Quarter
N - Riley 32 run (Murochick kick)
N – Mike Vespa 6 run (Murochick kick)

The View from Needham

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
8:31
PM ET
NEEDHAM, Mass. -- Are the Needham High Rockets one of the area's most underrated squads? We'll have a much clearer answer this Saturday after the Rockets play host to No. 6 Weymouth, in what is looking like the game of the year in the Bay State's Carey Division.

We caught up with head coach David Duffy and his senior captains this afternoon, following a walkthrough practice at Memorial Park (Needham High had the day off today in observance of Rosh Hashanah).

Head coach David Duffy:



Quarterback Drew Burnett:



Tight end Mark Riley:



Fullback Mike Vespa:



Guard Peter Madson:

What We Learned: Week 2

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
5:57
PM ET
D-Y, JOHNSON ARE FOR REAL
In the moments following Dennis-Yarmouth’s thrilling 28-27 win over Cape rival Barnstable, neither team could do enough evangelizing about the talent on display before them just minutes earlier.

Of D-Y wideout Damion Johnson, first-year Barnstable head coach Chris Whidden said, “If I'm a college coach and I'm anywhere near Cape Cod recruiting, I'm all over Damion Johnson. He's a hell of a football player.”

Of the duel between D-Y quarterback Matt Montalto and Barnstable quarterback D.J. Crook (who is inching closer to the state all-time touchdown pass record), Dolphins head coach Paul Funk sung high praises.

“You just saw three of the best players in the state, I don’t care where they’re from,” he told a group of reporters. “Montalto, Crook and Johnson. Those guys can play anywhere in the country, I’ll tell you that right now. They’re as good as anyone around.”

Minutes later outside the D-Y locker room, Montatlo was asked about Johnson’s jump-ball ability, and the senior put it bluntly: “Best one I’ve ever seen in high school. I’ll put it down, I think he’s the best wide receiver in high school football right now. That’s what I’ll say about him, yeah.”

All the talk is justified, though. The 6-foot-2 Johnson, with his seven catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns, showed what makes him one of the region’s more difficult players to defend with his adjustments in the game. Early on, the Red Raiders pressed Johnson heavily and brought safeties over the top; Johnson merely muscled his way to jump balls on deep fades. When they backed off the line of scrimmage, Johnson beat them with crisp comeback routes on the sideline.

“That’s what’s so difficult about Damion," Montalto said. "When you press him, right away I saw him getting off the press – he’s so good with his hands, his feet, everything – he got off the press and got over the top of them, when we’re giving him fades. And then they finally loosened up, so we came back to our crossing routes, same thing, he’s just as good at that as he is with the deep ball.”

Said Johnson, “They kinda loosened up on me a bit, but me and Matt have had our timing down since the summer. We worked on it all summer, preseason, everything.”

LINE KEEPS ROLLING ALONG
Coming into this season, questions surrounded New Bedford and how the Whalers would get along without Lance Burlingame anchoring their offensive and defensive lines. While you can never hope to replace a player like that, the Whalers have shown they'll be just fine this season. Without bookends Burlingame and Janny DosReis, guard Darian Sousa-Bizarro has moved over to tackle and provides senior leadership on the offensive side of the ball.

On defense, New Bedford showed they have multiple players ready to step up and make up for the pass rush Burlingame accounted for. In Saturday's 41-20 win over Silver Lake, the Whalers' big men put on a show with Carl Santos picking up three sacks, while Ricky Moraes had two of his own. Junior Tyler Arena is also a player worth keeping tabs on and was disruptive force against both the running and the passing rhythym of the Lakers' offense.

“They’re doing well,” Whalers head coach Dennis Golden said of the group. “Coach [Nick] Salmon and Coach [Marc] Hayes are doing a great job with them every day. They’re giving a good effort in practice. The kids are coming and playing hard consistently. It’s a good thing, it’s a good situation.”

TANNERS SHUT DOWN BILLERICA
While the number of true upsets in Week 2 paled in comparison to the wild Week 1 slate, among the more suprising results of the young season was Woburn's 12-7 triumph over Billerica.

After suffering a 25-point loss to Acton-Boxborough in Week 1, the Tanners bounced back, particuarly on defense to shut down the Indians.

While Billerica quarterback Nick LaSpada got his share of yards through the air and the ground, hovering near 200 all-purpose yards, here's betting Woburn head coach Rocky Nelson would take that result all day, every day. In addition, the Tanners got the big play on offense they need early on with Chucky Ortiz, a legitimate Mr. Football Award candidate, flashing his speed on a 71-yard run that set up his 2-yard touchdown run in the first.

From there, all the Tanners had to do was dig in.

“We tried to change up our fronts and our coverages and send people to try to confuse [LaSpada],” Nelson said of Woburn's defensive game plan. “We were in his face and he didn’t take a broken play and take it to the house. We contained him. We were sending our outside linebackers sometimes right from the line, sometimes inside. We had some line stunts that we put in that kept pressure on and we didn’t let him scramble and beat us like he did a year ago.”

ONE AMAZING CATCH
Skip to the 30-second mark of this highlight package from Friday night’s Mansfield-Needham game, and tell us Mark Riley isn’t one of the most underrated tight ends around.



"That's one of the nicest catches I've ever seen, that I can remember," Needham head coach David Duffy said. "That was tremendous. He's very fast and instinctive, he's more of an Aaron Hernandez type of tight end, we'll split him out wide sometimes. He's a matchup nightmare for teams, but he can also block."

Needham has sent just one player to a Division 1 school in three decades – Eric Johnson, former Yale tight end and seven-year NFL veteran (and also new beau of Jessica Simpson). For sake of technical terms, we’re not counting current Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka, who played soccer at Needham then Middlebury before walking on to North Carolina State as a grad student.

But in this year’s Needham squad – an underrated one based on the run it gave Mansfield on Friday – they might have two. Quarterback Drew Burnett already claims an offer from Bryant, while Riley (brother of WEEI announcer Mike Riley, a good friend of ours here at ESPNBoston) has been seeing interest anywhere from the Ivy and Patriot Leagues down to the NESCAC. He's also a returning All-American in lacrosse, and may head down that route for college.

A few more catches like that, and maybe this story changes.

And by the way, Duffy isn't afraid to make the comparison to the future Mr. Jessica Simpson.

"He reminds me of Eric Johnson -- he could do anything," Duffy said of Riley. "The kid can catch, receive, run, catch a block, anything you ask of him to do he can do it."

FROM THE BIZARRE FILE...
Maybe there’s just a proverbial rain cloud hanging over Baker Street, or maybe Catholic Memorial is just encountering bad luck. Either way, this was hardly the start they expected after coming in as the preseason No. 4 in our statewide MIAA poll.

One week after suffering a surprise shutout upset at the hands of unranked Marshfield, the Knights took a 14-0 second-quarter lead over Connecticut Class LL runner-up Trumbull, only to have two of the four lights go out at the stadium. The two teams hit the locker room early for halftime, on the suggestion from officials that they shut all four lights off and try to reboot from there.

And as luck would have it, the lights never came back on, and Trumbull made the three-hour trek back to Connecticut. Reached Monday morning, CM head coach and athletic director said a decision hasn’t been made on how this game will go down in the books.

Three weeks, one game. Here’s the good news: the Knights will be playing a Saturday afternoon game in Shrewsbury against St. John’s. And like every other week, they stand a good chance of probably coming away victorious.

Then again, nothing has gone as planned so far.

WEEK 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
It's hard to tab a second-week game as having playoff implications, but Saturday's South Coast Conference battle between Dighton-Rehoboth and Apponequet is about as close as you'll get. The Falcons and Lakers were the co-champions of the SCC last season, but Apponequet is looking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2008.

The teams were very much evenly matched and resemble each other in many ways with both teams featuring a dual threat at running back with D-R's Adam Benvie and Bryan Rocha and Apponequet's Nate Michael and Zach Nanfelt.

So did D-R take a step closer to their third straight postseason appearance with a 21-7 win?

“I guess this is what they’d say is the first big game in the league,” D-R head coach Dave Driscoll told correspondent Adam Kurkjian. “The way the schedule’s been it’s happened early the last three years. As a result, you get a little bit of a leg up if you win the game. It certainly doesn’t mean anything other than you have a win because you have to play the whole season, but it’s nice to win.

Versatility keys Needham over Framingham

October, 30, 2010
10/30/10
2:20
AM ET
NEEDHAM, Mass. -- Week in and week out, doesn't seem to matter who's under center or who's catching those darting throws over the middle. Needham High continues to find ways to get it done.

As the Rockets shuffled Kevin Brennan and Drew Burnett at quarterback, just as they have done all year, so too did skill players like juniors Mike Vespa and Ian Riley contribute to tonight's 27-14 win over Framingham in a variety of ways.

Both Vespa (79 yards rushing, 35 receiving) and Riley (40, 58) posed threats to the Flyers' defense through the ground and air, and were especially helpful against the Flyers' bend-but-don't-break defense. With Sean O'Connell and John Downey clogging the middle and linebacker Javier Santiago bringing all sorts of pressure with blitzes off the edge and through the A-gaps, Needham head coach David Duffy called the numbers of Vespa and Riley to stretch the field to the sidelines. He even incorporated Brennan into the run game at times, motioning him from the slot to take jet sweeps around the end.

"It's really good," Duffy said of the versatility under center. "When Kevin came back from injury (he's been battling back and shoulder problems at times throughout the season), we started getting him in there. Every week, we've gotten more comfortable putting him in that packet (in the run game), our offensive coordinator Chuck Thornton does a great job, and we'll continue to add to it as we go on. It's definitely a change from what we normally run."

The Rockets (6-2) opened up the scoring midway through the second quarter with a 15-yard strike from Burnett to Mark Riley, who came across the shallow middle end zone on a delayed slant route. But it was their second strike, just three minutes later, where the ability to adapt shone through. On fourth and 15 from the Flyers' 20 yard line, Brennan initially looked to his right for a screen pass to Vespa; but the convoy was covered up, and so Brennan reversed direction and rolled to his left, eluding the rush and finding Ian Riley wide open at the near left pylon on a wheel route for the touchdown.

"We didn't coach that," Duffy said. "We tell them what to do, but you can't coach stuff like that. I mean, that's just two kids playing football in the backyard doing a great job."

Ian Riley then flexed his coverage ability to kick-start the Rockets in the earlygoings of the second half. Greg Finley (139 yards passing, two touchdowns) and Travis Hayes (seven catches, 37 yards) drove Framingham all the way to the Needham 19 on its opening drive of the third quarter, only to toss a potential touchdown strike to the near left pylon and watch as Riley leaped up, kicked out his front leg and came down with the pick. After the ensuing three-and-out by Needham, the Flyers took the ball again at the 40, only to watch Riley come up with the pick again just two plays into the drive.

In recent years under Gary Doherty, the Flyers have operated smoothly under a fast-paced no-huddle offense. That seemed to have little effect on the Rockets, despite playing many guys two ways, and for the most part the Flyers had to settle for short strikes over the middle and in the flats. Finley completed just three passes that went over 15 yards.

"We had a tough week," Riley said. "We were practicing staying outside on them. I thought we did a good job on their no-huddle offense."

On the first play of Needham's first drive, to start the fourth quarter, the ball was fumbled away and fallen on by Framingham's Christian Wilkins. But just a play later, Needham middle linebacker Will Steinberg caught and easy Finley strike over the middle, broke for the left pylon and took it all the way to the house, for a 21-0 lead and all the cushion the Rockets would need in this one.

Doherty fanned the blame unto himself for his team's first-half performance.

"I'll take responsibility for the first half," Doherty said. "We were off rhythm the whole first half. We didn't establish anything. You want to establish something offensively, run or pass, we didn't establish anything and I own that."

NEEDHAM 27, FRAMINGHAM 14

FRA (5-3) 0 0 0 14 --- 14
NED (6-2) 0 14 0 13 --- 27

Second Quarter
N - Mark Riley 15 pass from Drew Burnett (Nick Wong kick) 7:06
N - Ian Riley 19 pass from Kevin Brennan (Wong kick) 4:01

Fourth Quarter
N - Will Steinberg 40 interception return (Brian Tedoldi kick) 11:42
F - Joseph Igoe 11 pass from Greg Finley (Gregory Hemmer kick) 7:51
N - Phil Comma 8 run (kick blocked) 1:48
F - David Odhiambo 15 pass from Finley (Hemmer kick) 0:53.6

Colarusso Bros. fuel Weymouth past Needham

October, 2, 2010
10/02/10
1:06
AM ET
WEYMOUTH -- Dylan and Aussie Colarusso swear they're related. If you watched them run with the ball, you'd never know it.

The pair of Weymouth running backs shredded Needham's defense to lead the Wildcats to a 26-0 victory Friday night, and each did it with his own unique style.

Older brother Dylan, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior cocaptain, ran through tackles and powered over defenders to the tune of 114 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Aussie, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound sophomore, used his quickness and vision to elude the Rockets for 111 total yards and two touchdowns.

"It's just our body types," Dylan said. "I'm a bigger guy. Aussie’s a smaller guy with more quickness. That’s how it works. A little smash and dash."

On Weymouth’s first play from scrimmage, Needham immediately understood the "smash" element of the Colarusso equation.

After the Rockets fumbled a handoff on the game's second play from scrimmage, Weymouth (4-0) recovered on the Needham 11-yard line and fed Dylan right away. On the Wildcats' first play, he plowed through the defensive line, broke a tackle and fell into the end zone.

"Dylan is a man between the tackles," Weymouth coach Kavin Mackin said. "He has the speed to get away, but he’s our muscle guy without a doubt."

The Rockets' first failed drive was a harbinger of things to come. Needham (3-1) finished the game with four turnovers, not including two turnovers on downs. Just two and a half minutes after their red-zone fumble in the first quarter, they were stopped again when Rockets quarterback Kevin Brennan was intercepted by Aussie Colarusso.

Brennan, who had led Needham to an average of 32.6 points in its first three games, threw only one more pass on the night. He was forced from the game at the end of the first quarter with a back muscle injury that has plagued him for the past few weeks, according to Needham coach David Duffy.

Brennan was hit hard by Weymouth senior cocaptain Jesse Toomey during his last pass attempt, a third-down incompletion, and the signal-caller remained on the ground for a moment after the play.

"Weymouth's defensive line is very good, so I give them a lot of credit," Duffy said. "We had a lot of turnovers and our quarterback got hurt, but we have to get better play from our offensive line."

Weymouth's ensuing possession ended when Wildcats quarterback and cocaptain Mitch Temple (3-of-8, 43 yards) found a sliding Aussie Colarusso 20 yards away in the front corner of the end zone to make the score 13-0.

Needham’s backup quarterback, junior Drew Burnett (5-of-19, 58 yards), did his best to get his offense in sync, but the rain and the Weymouth defense was too much to handle. Burnett was intercepted twice, once by Aussie Colarusso and once by Khary Bailey-Smith, and Needham never got inside Weymouth's 20-yard line.

The Wildcats' offense continued to feed off of their defense when Rob Barrus blocked a Needham punt one minute into the fourth quarter. Dylan Colarusso followed with a 36-yard scamper and a 1-yard touchdown plunge to make the score 19-0.

Aussie’s second interception came with just less than five minutes left in the contest. Aussie (6 carries, 91 yards) then made good on his own turnover and sealed the game with a 44-yard touchdown run.

"They're big and they're strong," Duffy said of the Colarussos. "You have to tackle them low and wrap up or else you’re not going to be successful."

The win puts undefeated Weymouth in good position within the Bay State Carey Division race, but the Wildcats understand it's too early in the season to celebrate.

"This is not a league title tonight," Mackin said. "It certainly puts us in a good spot, but we've got to continue to work because there are other good teams here."

WEYMOUTH 26, NEEDHAM 0
NEE 0 0 0 0 --- 0
WEY 13 0 0 13 --- 26

First quarter
Dylan Colarusso 11 run (Kevin White kick)
Aussie Colarusso 20 pass from Mitch Temple (kick failed)

Third quarter
D. Colarusso 1 run (rush failed)
A. Colarusso 44 run (White kick)

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