Boston High School: Dean Soucie

Recap: Oliver Ames 20, Pembroke 12

November, 30, 2011
FRANKLIN, Mass. -- Brandon Gagliardi’s job all game long was to keep tabs on dangerous Pembroke running back Jon Hooper, so when he saw the Titans senior flare out from the backfield deep in Oliver Ames territory, Gagliardi simply followed his instincts.

The junior stepped in front of the Luke Nagle pass intended for Hooper and went 88 yards the other way for a game-sealing touchdown as his Tigers took a 20-12 decision away from Pembroke in the Div. 3 semifinals at Pisini Field.

Oliver Ames (7-4), making its first postseason appearance in school history, will take on Concord-Carlisle in the Div. 3 Super Bowl this Saturday (9 a.m.) at Gillette Stadium.

“They had me spying their running back and I carried him out to the flat and saw the ball was coming toward me,” Gagliardi said. “I jumped it and once I got past him there was no one there to catch me. The eyes light up and you just try keep running.”

“It feels fantastic,” he continued. “We’ve been working for so long. A lot of these kids have been working since the eighth grade and we always set this as a goal and to finally achieve it is just fantastic.”

It was an earlier big play that had Oliver Ames in that position in the first place. The Titans (10-1) had just taken a 12-6 lead following a 48-yard touchdown run by Hooper (105 yards on 14 carries) with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.

Enter Carlton Williamson. The speedy junior took the ensuing kickoff 88 yards to paydirt, and Ryan McGrath’s extra point gave the Tigers their first lead of the game at 13-12.

“I told the kids if you ever need an example to say that’s every facet of the game working for you, that was it,” exclaimed OA coach Jim Artz afterward. “We have a great drive to start the second half, made some adjustments that we needed to go and we go up and made the game 6-6. Then, we feel good and we give up a quick score and no sooner do we do that then Carlton [Williamson] ... I don’t know teams kick him the ball but they do ... he takes another one to the house. Now we’ve got to play with the lead. Then the defense seals the game for us with a pick-6.”

Lost in the shuffle of the Tigers victory was the tough, hard-nosed running of 5-10, 185-pound Sam Langston. Langston went toe to toe with the Titans impressive line and came with 83 tough yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.

Pembroke’s Tom Castanha scored the game’s first touchdown, powering his way in from the 2 to cap a nice drive that featured a pair of big completions by Nagle (189 yards). The Titans carried that slim 6-0 advantage into halftime, but Oliver Ames came out of the locker room looking like a different team.

The Tigers forced a Pembroke punt right off the bat, then 90 yards on an 18-play drive that was aided by 29 yards of Pembroke penalties. Langston got the call from the Titans two-yard line and seemingly pushed the entire pile into the end zone for the tying score.

“I have to thank my big fullbacks Dean [Soucie] and Brian [Rezendes]. They got the big push in there and I just had to get my arms in and that was it,” Langston said of the touchdown. "They were a good defense, I have to give threm thast. It was tough and we had a few adjustments we had to make in the beginning but in the end we figured out what we needed to do.”

For Artz, it was all about keeping his team poised despite being unfamiliar with the postseason stage.

“We’ve got a young staff and kids who haven’t played in a game this big before,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m the raving lunatic on the sideline and tonight I was the only voice of reason and calm and everyone else was losing their heads. I said ‘Guys, its a 6-0 game, we played pretty badly and its 6-0. If we come out and do the things we’re capable of, we’ll win this game. So lets calm down, coaches included, and we’ll be fine.' We could have panicked but we didn’t.”

Oliver Ames (7-4) 0 0 13 7 - 20
Pembroke (10-1) 0 6 6 0 - 12

PE - Tom Castanha 2 run (kick failed)
OA - Sam Langston 2 run (kick blocked)
PE - Jon Hooper 48 run (pass failed)
OA - Carlton Williamson 82 kick return (Ryan McGrath kick)
OA - Brandon Gagliardi 88 interception return (McGrath kick)

Recap: Oliver Ames 17, Foxborough 9

October, 15, 2011

EASTON, Mass. -- Field position can win an awful lot of football games and Oliver Ames exhibited that in its 17-9 victory over Hockomock Davenport rival Foxborough Friday night at Muscato Stadium.

After the Tigers’ opening drive stalled on Foxborough’s 6-yard line on a fourth-and-goal try, the Warriors promptly returned the ball, fumbling on their first play from scrimmage. OA (4-1) needed just four yards to take an early 7-0 lead.

The Tigers again set up shop inside the red zone on their next possession, after forcing the Warriors (3-3) three-and-out. Dean Soucie’s block and recovery of a Foxborough punt had the Tigers at 14-yard line. Although OA couldn’t make it a two-touchdown lead, Ryan McGrath’s field goal provided an instant 10-0 lead.

“Last week [against King Philip], we didn’t represent ourselves properly,” Tigers head coach Jim Artz said, “and I think, this week, we came out with a little bit more vinegar and a little more nastiness to play the way we’re capable of playing.”

After a Foxborough field goal, OA extended its lead on quarterback Jared Schneider’s second rushing touchdown of the game just before the half. That drive, too, started with the benefit of excellent field position near midfield.

“We came out first drive and didn’t get in, but our defense played great the whole game,” Schneider said. “We knew once we got down there, we’ve got to score every time.”

With the luxury of field position, OA was also able to carry the tempo of the contest. The Tigers pounded the Warriors banged-up line (with two starters lost to injury this week) in the running game with senior running back Sam Langston’s 22 carries for 168 yards.

“Sam [Langston] is amazing,” Schneider said. “I think he’s the best running back in the league, I don’t care what anybody says. He’s run the ball so well all season and he’s carried us down the field.”

Foxborough had chances to come back in the second half, thanks to a couple of interceptions by senior corner Tony Gutierrez, one of which set up the Warriors’ lone touchdown in the fourth.

Warriors quarterback Nick Sestito also exhibited a good touch on the ball, breaking off several big plays while exploiting OA’s Cover-2 defense. Sestito found receivers open on the seam several times, with a couple of those balls directed toward physical 6-foot-4 split end Noah Cronin. The Warriors also have a nice complement to Cronin with shifty receiver Greg Stamatov (the Villanova-bound lacrosse goaltender) working underneath.

“He’s our Wes Welker,” Foxborough head coach Jack Martinelli said of Stamatov. “He’s just able to get open.”

However, the opportunities the Warriors had to gash the Tigers up the middle eventually ebbed away.

“We were being too aggressive with our pressure up front, too,” Artz said. “We changed up our looks and that helped.”

Artz made several mentions to the team’s dissatisfaction with their effort in a 28-13 loss to King Philip last week. It should have been a statement game for the Tigers (Stoughton over Mansfield, anybody?), but OA got behind the 8-ball early and wasn’t able to get into their game plan.

“We felt we weren’t able to utilize our ground game last week because of the way the game developed because we fell behind so quickly,” Artz said.

The Tigers were able to assert their will on the patchwork Warriors line behind hulking 6-foot-9, 300-pound right tackle Keith Sullivan.

In addition, OA found different ways to integrate Langston into the offense, throwing in a healthy dose of direct snaps to back and some Wildcat formations.

“[Langston] has been a workhorse all week,” Artz said. “He’s unbelievable. He doesn’t go down on the first hit. You stop him for a second and he’s still going to be churning, pop off and be four yards down the field.”

It’s neither here nor there, but Tigers place kicker Ryan McGrath can flat out boom the ball. His 34-yard field goal in the first quarter would’ve been good from 50, a testament to one observer’s estimate that McGrath was hitting from 55 yards in the pregame warm-ups in inclement weather. McGrath also showed off his leg powering a touchback through the end zone in the second quarter.

In so many words: Wow.

Foxborough (3-3) 0 3 0 6 -- 9
Oliver Ames (4-1) 10 7 0 0 -- 17

1st quarter
OA – Jared Schneider 2-yard run (Ryan McGrath kick)
OA – McGrath 34-yard field goal

2nd quarter
F – Jake Soccorso 29-yard field goal
OA – Schneider 2-yard run (McGrath kick)

4th quarter
F – Kiivone Howard 1-yard run (Kick failed)