Boston High School: Dennis-Yarmouth

Top 10 Plays from Super Saturday

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
12:53
AM ET
Saturday’s inaugural MIAA Football State Championships at Gillette Stadium crowned victors in six divisions, which meant plenty of highlight reel-worthy plays were jam-packed into the day. Here are my Top 10 plays from the weekend:

(Video clips courtesy of Hudl.com)

Honorable Mention –- Rufus’ Rumble
Glad to see we’ll have another year of Bishop Fenwick running back Rufus Rushins, because the junior is a lot of fun to watch when he gets a full head of steam downhill. The Crusaders shut out Northbridge, 28-0, for the D5 state title, thanks to Rushins’ 158 yards and three scores on 15 carries.

10. Follow Your Blockers
Dennis-Yarmouth’s L.K. Metz follows every fundamental rule here as he jukes and jives his way to a very nice kick return, taking a Doherty squib kick all the way down to the Highlanders’ 6-yard line to set up an eventual score. Doherty went on to win the Division 4 state championship, 28-26.

9. Ball Hawk
Mansfield’s Aurian Dawkins shows great awareness and ball instincts on this end zone interception, jumping a would-be TD throw to St. John’s receiver Mike McGillicuddy and laying out for the pick. Mansfield doubled up the Pioneers, 28-14, to win the D2 state title.

8. Bassett Hounds the Skippers
Littleton running back Travis Bassett had the best statistical performance of the day, carrying 22 times for 263 yards and four TDs, and adding a 29-yard catch off a screen pass for a fifth TD, and adding two interceptions, as the Tigers routed Cohasset 52-35 for the D6 state title. There are plenty of highlight plays for Bassett, but my personal favorite is this 78-yard scamper. Just look at the afterburners he puts on this one.

7. Isaac to the Post
Boston College commit Isaac Yiadom had a big day on both sides of the ball for Doherty, including this 64-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Yiadom finished with seven catches for 137 yards and a TD.

6. D’Andre Dumps ‘Em
UNH commit D’Andre Drummond hits the R3 button on this 52-yard touchdown run for Central Catholic, leaving one unfortunate Xaverian defender in the turf. The Raiders doubled up Xaverian, 34-17, for the D1 state title.

5. Run, Rocco, Run
Cohasset’s Rocco Laugelle is off and running on this 77-yard interception return for a touchdown. Watch as he slips away from about five tacklers en route to paydirt.

4. Poetry in Motion
Doherty QB Luke Brennan (12 for 20, 259 yards, 2 TD) threw a couple of pretty balls on the afternoon. But none were prettier than this 41-yard bomb to Alfred Adarkwah, plopping the ball safely into the lanky senior’s bread basket, right over the top of double coverage.

3. Cody’s Crackback
As the title implies, Central Catholic receiver Cody Demers laid one of the most vicious sticks of the day, this crackback block springing loose quarterback Matt Milano to toss a 31-yard touchdown pass to Cam Manning. This play made it 7-0 Raiders, and effectively set the tone for the evening.

2. Jump Ball
We couldn’t get our hands on video of this impressive TD catch by Tewksbury’s Kevin Dick, late in the Redmen’s 42-14 rout of Plymouth South for the D3 state title. But it probably works out better that way, as photographer Eric Adler passes along a frame-by-frame account of the grab.

1. Megatron
Simply put, Demers was just awesome on Saturday. This TD catch permeates those sentiments.

D4 final: Doherty 28, D-Y 26

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
5:42
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – As the old saying goes, you live by the big play, you die by the big play. Both teams in the Division 4 final had gotten to this point with their homerun hitters so it was only fitting that the team that made the bigger plays would take home the hardware.

The dual threat of Doherty’s Issac Yiadom and Alfred Adarkwah torched the Dolphins secondary for nearly 200 yards and a pair of long scores as the battle of two explosive offenses went in favor of the Highlanders, 28-26.

“It's crazy, it feels like it is unreal,” said Yiadom. “At the beginning of the season, we were all talking about being state champs we finally got here and accomplished our dream.”

A Highlander touchdown score midway through the fourth quarter gave the Central champs a 28-14 lead and seemingly the Div. 4 state championship game, but the never-give-up Dolphins made for an interesting final five minutes. L.K. Metz had his game of the season and Spencer Tyler orchestrated two scores setting up a 2-point conversion with 56 second remaining to tie the game.

[+] EnlargeIsaac Yiadom
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comBoston College signee Isaac Yiadom (7 catches, 138 yards, TD) was a terror for Doherty as the Highlanders captured their first state title in school history.
Tyler seemed to have Andrew Jamiel open in the end zone, but penetration from the Highlanders defense forced Tyler to his right and the pass intended for Mike Anderson fell harmlessly at his feet.

“When it was 21-7 and 28-20, we didn’t expect to lose, we still though we were going to win and we played all the way to the end,” said Paul Funk who coached his Dolphins to their second finals appearance in three years. “That’s how those kids play, they play hard like that.”

In the end it was the play of Yiadom and Adarkwah that separated the teams.

Adarkwah continued his torrid pace this postseason catching his seventh touchdown in his fifth postseason game, and it could not have come at a better time.

With 10 second remaining in the first half in a 7-7 ball game, the Highlanders were facing fourth and 10 from the Dolphin 41-yard line when they sent Adarkwah deep. He beat Michael Dunn, who was pressing off the line, and the safety help in Liam Matheson was a moment too late as Adarkwah hauled in the deep bomb from Luke Brennan to give the Highlanders a 14-7 lead heading into the half.

“As the game goes on with short quarters, you try to figure out what they are doing to you, they were doing a good job pressing our outside kids,” Doherty coach Sean Mulcahy said after his team earned the second Superbowl title in the programs history. “Alfred finally beat the press coverage and got over the top on them and Luke made a great throw.”

“It was a big play for us right before the half and big momentum for us.”

On Doherty’s first drive of the second half, Brennan dialed up the long ball again, finding Yiadom alone on a deep crossing route. Brennan hit him in stride and the Boston College commit went 64 yards untouched for to put the Doherty up 21-7 midway through the third quarter.

The Dolphins got life on the following drive when Spencer Tyler marched his troops downfield, setting up a Cory Desimone 2-yard scoring run to cut the deficit to 21-14.

But the Highlanders responded with an 8-play, 71 yard drive capped off by Jahkari Carpenter’s 1-yard run to seemingly bury the Dolphins 28-14 with just under five minutes to play.

But L.K. Metz returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the Highlanders 9-yard line and Tyler found sophomore Andrew Jamiel on the following play for a 9-yard score. On the PAT, Jahkari Carpenter broke through the protection and blocked Drew Tardiff’s kick to keep the score at 28-20.

“Metz was outstanding. Metz is a gamer,” said Funk. “I’d take him any day. He’s a gamer, he was ready, he played great on both sides of the ball.”

After the onside kick failed, the Dolphins needed to rely on their defense for a stop, which they had a difficult time with in the second half. Facing a third and third and four with just over two minutes remaining, Brennan couldn’t handle the snap and lost 11 yards on the play.

The Dolphins took over on their own 21 with no timeouts. Tyler converted a fourth down to Dunn and a long screen pass to Metz set up D-Y at the Doherty 13. Two plays later, Tyler called his own number and scampered into the end zone from six yards out to set up a game-tying two-point attempt.

With the Dolphins season and championship hopes hinging on one final PAT, the Doherty defense rose to the occasion with penetration from their line and good coverage in the secondary to secure their first championship title since 1980.

“We’re tough. We’ve been down before in games and come back,” said Tyler. “We’ve had tough games long the way, tough games in Marshfield. We’ve had a lot of tough games so we were prepared for this one but bad play at the end.”

After watching his team build for the last few years, Sean Mulcahy was proud to see his players finally brake through.

“It says that a Worcester city team with good players can play with anybody. Right now, we are very competitive team at the highest level of football in central mass and we’re proud of that and this team caught fire at the end of the year and finished the job of what has been building for a few years.”

DMHS 0 14 7 7 -- 28
DY 7 0 7 12 -- 26


First Quarter
DY-Spencer Tyler 11 run (Drew Tardiff kick), 0:16

Second Quarter
DMHS-Luke Brennan 8 run (rush fail), 1:38
DMHS-Alfred Adarkwah 41 pass from Brennan (Jahkari Carpenter run),, 0:00

Third Quarter
DMHS-Issac Yiadom 64 pass from Brennan (Brennan kick) 4:57
DY-Cory Desimone 2 run (Tardiff kick), 2:21

Fourth Quarter
DMHS-Carpenter 1 run (Brennan kick), 4:43
DY-Andrew Jamiel 9 pass form Tyler (kick blocked), 4:13
DY-Tyler 6 run (pass fail), 0:56

D4 breakdown: Doherty vs. D-Y

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
4:26
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It all came down to a 2-point conversion play in the final minute of the fourth quarter, but Doherty escaped with the Division 4 state championship, taking a 28-26 win over Dennis-Yarmouth at Gillette Stadium.

Editor Scott Barboza and high school football analyst John Sarianides have the breakdown:

Tale of the Tape: Doherty vs. Dennis-Yarmouth

December, 4, 2013
12/04/13
12:27
AM ET
Ahead of Saturday's six MIAA Football State Championships at Gillette Stadium, today we are bringing back our "Tale of the Tape" series to break down each participating team's matchups headed into the game.

In the Division 4 Final, ESPN Boston High Schools editors Brendan Hall and Scott Barboza take a closer look at Central champ Doherty and South champ Dennis-Yarmouth, respectively.

Division 4 State Championship
DOHERTY (11-1) vs. DENNIS-YARMOUTH (10-2)
at Gillette Stadium, 11:30 a.m.


When Doherty has the ball: Quarterback Luke Brennan, a Franklin Pierce baseball commit, has a live arm. And with Boston College-bound athlete Isaac Yiadom (31 catches, 748 yards, 6 TD), tight end Mitch Celaj (24 catches, 441 yards, 2 TD) and boundary receiver Alfred Adarkwah (27 catches, 513 yards, 11 TD) at his disposal in the passing game, he has put up terrific numbers in his senior season (2,079 yards, 24 TD). Yiadom is averaging 17.7 yards per touch as a factor in both the running and passing games, as dangerous on speed sweeps from the slot (30 carries, 334 yards, 4 TD) as he is receiving.

Package that with Adarkwah on the other side, and that has left many a defense in a bind. Measuring 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan, Adarkwah has an exceptionally large catching radius – seemingly any ball landing from his knees up above his head is catchable. This is perhaps none more evident than his ridiculous four-game stat line for these playoffs: eight catches, six touchdowns.

The key, however, may lie in the running game. Often deploying a two-back three-receiver set out of a shotgun, Tyler Kmon provides a nice change of pace for their most elusive weapon, junior tailback Jahkari Carpenter. As one of Central Mass.’s rushing leaders (134 carries, 1,287 yards, 8 TD), he has been on a tear through these playoffs, averaging 9.6 yards a carry. Don’t let him get to the edge, because every single week of these playoffs, it seems like he comes up with some ridiculous run where he jukes about 100 defenders. EVERY . . . SINGLE . . . WEEK . . .

When D-Y has the ball: With the Dolphins offense, seemingly any of its talented athletes can break a big play at any given moment.

The fulcrum is senior quarterback Spencer Tyler. From the Dolphins' spread, Tyler can create with his feet and is well-capable of striking downfield on big-hit plays. Yet, for Tyler's arm strength, D-Y is at its best in the screen game. The Dolphins utilize a plethora screen concepts and funnel the ball through a cadre of athletes set out across the formation -- whether in the backfield or out wide. Michael Dunn, L.K. Metz and Jake Pawlina are among the tide of seemingly interchangeable, yet dynamic athletes D-Y pulls out at every turn. Meanwhile, sophomore Andrew Jamiel has emerged as a downfield threat as the season has progressed.

In its matchup with Doherty, however, D-Y senior running back Cory Desimone should have an increased workload. Desimone is as close to a three-down back that the Dolphins have and they will rely on him to gain tough yards inside the tackle box.

When Doherty is on defense: In short, there's lots of athleticism abound in the back seven here, between Yiadom (100 tackles) at free safety, Adarkwah shuffling in and out of the box, and linebackers Celaj and Peter Franco (84 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 INT) roaming the middle. While Yiadom doesn't have the interception totals of his breakthrough 2012 season, he still covers a ton of ground in the deep field, forcing quarterbacks into second-guessing throws.

Don't overlook the Highlanders' defensive line, which packs both bulk and punch. Senior Matt Smalls (63 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 INT) is a load off the edge at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, equipped with an explosive first step and a good rip move to the outside. Keep an eye on promising sophomore Tavian Vassar (56 tackles, 12 sacks), who alternates between middle linebacker and defensive tackle. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder is built low to the ground and disruptive.

When D-Y is on defense: In the early going of its Division 4 Eastern Mass. final against Bedford, D-Y struggled early to slow down Bedford's Olan Abner. While the Highlanders don't have a back as physical as Abner, the Dolphins will have to contend with Jahkari Carpenter, who could exploit D-Y's difficulty in containing stretch plays. The group tasked with leading the charge will be an underrated Dolphins defensive line, led by tackles Spike Elizondo and Angelo Hardaway.

The strength of D-Y's defense might be its linebacking corps, anchored by Chip Evangelista and Metz. After a strong second-half effort against Bedford, Dolphins head coach Paul Funk praised the efforts of his linebackers, calling Metz the factor that "stirs the drink," defensively. The art of the Dolphins defense is to collapse the interior line and allow for its athletic group of linebackers to step up and make tackles.

Of course, the greatest question entering is how the Dolphins secondary will match up with Doherty's tall, rangy receivers. A player like Metz could be used to shadow Yiadom across the formation, but how does D-Y game plan for Adarkwah on the perimeter?

Thanksgiving Day: To play or not to play?

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
7:36
PM ET
WESTWOOD, Mass. – On a cold and dreary Tuesday afternoon, Xaverian football went through its practice paces at the high school. It was like any other practice, except that it’s St. John’s Prep week. The Hawks kicked off the session with a chorus of “Beat Prep” after running through stretches.

Although Xaverian still has another game to play past its Thanksgiving Day duel against its Catholic Conference rival – the Division 1 state championship against Central Catholic to be played Dec. 7 at Gillette Stadium – they weren’t looking any further than the task at hand.

SportsNation

If you were the head coach of a state championship-bound team, how would you approach Thanksgiving Day?

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    11%
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    50%

Discuss (Total votes: 498)

The Hawks are one of 12 teams in Massachusetts presented with the same conundrum this week: With a state championship game looming, how do you approach a game that essentially has become exhibition?

Now, with that being said, in this scenario, the Catholic Conference is a bit of an outlier. With the MIAA’s new playoff guidelines taking hold this year, the conference is an exception in the state, as league foes meet only once on Thanksgiving to count for its regular date, keeping with tradition. So while other Thanksgiving rivals who also happen to be league foes might be playing for the third time this season (Holliston vs. Westwood, Plymouth North vs. Plymouth South, etc.), Xaverian will be seeing the Eagles for the first time come Thursday.

It also sets up a duel for the Catholic Conference regular-season championship – no small pot.

And so Hawks head coach Charlie Stevenson is preparing as if there were no tomorrow.

“If one of my players didn’t want to go out there and play Thursday and beat Prep, I would think there’s something wrong with them,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson stands in support of a handful of statewide coaches who are staring down state championship games beyond Thanksgiving who also answered the question of whether to play starters on Thursday with the retort, “Let them play.”

So, during the weekend, we took the matter to those who will be charting the course with the question of whether to play, or not to play.

The responses were varied, from Dennis-Yarmouth head coach Paul Funk’s Belichick-ian, noncommittal approach, to this pearl from Plymouth South’s Scott Fry, on the status of star running back Dylan Oxsen: “You don’t think we should give it to Oxsen 30 times on Thanksgiving Day?”

Here it is in their words:

-----

Peter Afanasiw, Cohasset

“We’re going to try to roll out a team that stays healthy, competes and, hopefully, comes away with yet another win. No team in school history has ever registered 11 wins.”

Brian Aylward, Tewsbury

“It is a rite of passage for any football player that plays football in Tewksbury. It's an 80-year tradition against Wilmington; it's the one chance you get to play them in front of all your family and represent your town and do battle. And that's exactly what we're going to do. We have to. We're not good enough not to play."

Scott Fry, Plymouth South

“We expected, if we won this game, that a lot of our kids weren’t going to be playing on Thanksgiving. It’s the third time we’re going to play [Plymouth] North and we’ve already canceled the J.V. game because of that reason. The young kids are going to play on Thanksgiving. You’re going to need a different roster for the Thanksgiving Day game.”

Paul Funk, Dennis-Yarmouth

“We’re going to do what’s best for our football team.”

Ken LaChapelle, Northbridge

"We're going out to win that game. I'm not going to have Uxbridge start chanting the score [if they win] during the basketball season. I'm playing to win that game. Do I maybe not run [quarterback Koby Schofer] 20 times? Maybe. But I'm playing to win the game and Uxbridge better be prepared because we're coming to win."

Michael Lynn, Littleton

"We can’t even put some of our backup kids in there, it’s not safe. We’re 11-0, we want to protect our perfect season, so we’re going to have to play our starters and our premier guys as much as we have to — we don’t have much of a choice. To me this is the fatal flaw in the playoff system, Thanksgiving being sandwiched in between the state semifinals and state finals. For everybody but 12 schools it’s not a problem, but for those 12 schools it’s definitely a dilemma."

Sean Mulcahy, Doherty

"We have a big Thanksgiving game to get through first. Burncoat has ruined a lot of my Thanksgivings, so I'll make sure we have our kids ready for them come Thursday. We will be playing our starters. I'm not planning to go out and play for hopefully a state title and then walk around the streets of Worcester and have some Burncoat fan come up to me and say, ‘but we beat you.’ Hopefully, that's not happening."

Mike Redding, Mansfield

"We’re going to play to win. Obviously, we’d like to get our guys out early. Two years ago, we won on the last play of the game and, last year, they won. We want to beat Foxborough. We don’t want to be 11-1 as a state champion; we want to be 12-0. We want to beat our rival, but it would be in our best interest to score early and get some guys out and get some guys rested as soon as possible."

(Editor’s note: Correspondents Chris Bradley, Phil Garceau, Paul Lazdowski, John McGuirk and Josh Perry contributed original reporting to this story.)

D4 semifinal: Dennis-Yarmouth 21, Bedford 14

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
1:13
AM ET


BROCKTON, Mass. – The old adage in football is to be the hammer, not the nail.

In facing North sectional champion Bedford in Saturday’s Division 4 Eastern Mass. final at Marciano Stadium, Dennis-Yarmouth head coach Paul Funk knew his Dolphins had to be the aggressor, not the punching bag. In his postgame remarks, Funk acknowledged his team’s desire to establish a two-score lead. With the Buccaneers’ All-State-caliber running back Olan Abner looming large, it was important the Dolphins play from ahead.

Despite a slow start, D-Y had done just that – taking a two-score lead into the fourth quarter. And the Dolphins defense maintained its part of the bargain, shutting down three of Bedford’s second-half drives with fourth-down stops resulting in turnovers on downs. And, notwithstanding a little fourth-quarter trickeration from deep in Bedford’s playbook, it equated to D-Y’s 21-14 victory, pushing the Dolphins onward to their first championship game appearance since the 2011 Div. 2A Super Bowl.

“We’ve been a team all year that has to stay on schedule,” Bedford head coach Jack Belcher said. “A second-and-fifteen against a state semifinalist team with our team isn’t going to fly – I think we had two or three of those in the second half.”

D-Y (9-2) tightened up defensively in the second half, after allowing Abner to run for 109 yards in the first two quarters. Sixty of those yards came on Bedford’s opening drive along, which Abner (35 carries, 165 yards) capped himself with a 2-yard touchdown plunge.

The Dolphins had trouble getting untracked offensively, with successive three-and-outs to open the game. However, D-Y caught fire in the second quarter, embarking on a 76-yard touchdown drive, culminating in Cory Desimone’s 1-yard run with 8:53 remaining in the half. However, a failed point-after try kept D-Y a point behind.

After serving Bedford (8-2) its first three-and-out of the game, the Dolphins offense was at it again, capitalizing on good field position with a 56-yard drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by quarterback Spencer Tyler.

The Buccaneers followed with another three-and-out, allowing D-Y to establish its coveted two-score lead before the half was through. It came in the form of the game’s longest play from scrimmage with Tyler (9 of 16, 129 yards, TD; 10 carries, 55 yards) hitting Michael Dunn in stride on the seam for a 70-yard scoring play.

“We just kept running our offense,” Dunn said of D-Y’s early offensive woes. “We knew we had to stick to our game plan. Just because they hadn’t allowed a passing touchdown doesn’t mean we can’t throw.”

In fact, Dunn’s score was the first passing touchdown the Buccaneers had allowed all season. On a whole, Bedford’s defense hadn’t allowed more than the 14-point total put up by Pentucket in last week’s North sectional final (a 22-14 decision).

Unfortunately, for Bedford, it was precisely one score too many.

Emptying out the playbook: Down a couple scores and with time drawing thin, Belcher was forced to before more creative with his playbook, as the Bucs mounted a late comeback bid.

Bedford made it a one-possession game with 2:24 remaining on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Joe Zampell to Robert McDonald.

The score was set up on the previous play – a 26-yard completion to the D-Y 7. It was a daring double-pass. With Zampell rolling to his right, selling a bootleg run, he then pivoted and threw clear across the field to Daniel Fay, who’d leaked out of the backfield. Fay took a couple steps to his left before planting and putting a spiral downfield toward Tom Sands.

The Dolphins played the progression about as well as could be expected. But, despite double coverage with safety help over the top, Sands was still able to leap above the fray and come down with a momentum-shifting reception.

“A 30-yard sideways throw and a 40-yard throw downfield is a little shaky in a wind like this,” Belcher said of the play call and Saturday’s blustery conditions. “But I decided it was time to empty the basket there.”

The Bucs scored on the next play. However, Bedford’s ensuing onside kick chance was quickly scooped up.

D-Y then milked the clock dry, with a plotting drive, driven home by a 42-yard run on a sweep from Dunn (2 receptions, 71 yards, TD; 4 carries, 65 yards) on third and 1, which effectively sealed Bedford’s fate.

Adjusting on the fly: As some point, somewhere in the middle of the second quarter, D-Y ditched its plan to play a modified 3-4 front, in hopes of slowing down Abner, in favor of its more familiar base 4-3.

“They were getting angles on us, so when we did that, it freed up L.K. [Metz] and Chip Evangelista to be able to run to the ball carrier,” Funk said.

Bedford had run its stretch play to the left side, off of left tackle Ryan Clasby with great success in the first quarter – resulting in three first downs and gains great than 12 yards. That well soon ran dry, as the Dolphins mixed up its approach and began gaining a foothold on the outside contain.

Much of that credit is due to Evangelista and Metz, the linebackers whom Funk credits as the quarterbacks to his defense.

“[Evangelista] and L.K. [Metz] really run that defense,” Funk said. “I always joke with L.K. that Reggie Jackson said that he was the straw that stirred the drink. But, for us, L.K.’s our straw.”

Evangelista finished with three tackles for loss or no gain, including a key fourth-quarter sack. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound linebacker shot up the gap to haul down Zampell for a 5-yard sack on fourth and 10 with about seven minutes remaining. It was the third of Bedford’s forced turnovers on downs in the second half.

“We knew this was our year to step up and make something happen,” Evangelista said.

The Dolphins advance to play Central sectional champion Doherty for the Division 4 state title, Dec. 7, at Gillette Stadium.

D4 semifinal: Doherty 22, Wahconah 16

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
10:02
PM ET
LEOMINSTER, Mass. -- Before they had time to blink, the Doherty Highlanders were trailing 16 points to Western Mass. power Wahconah Regional.

Like a Mike Tyson fight (pre-Buster Douglas, of course), Doherty found itself lying on the canvas in a heap after the Warriors came out swinging right from the outset.

With one foot firmly planted on the Highlanders' throats, Wahconah failed to complete the task when it had the chance and let Doherty off the hook. Helped by a couple of Warrior miscues, Doherty was able pull itself up, and in the process, save its season after rallying back to post a 22-16 triumph in today's Division 4 state semifinal played at Doyle Field.

"It seemed our kids were so excited about this game and the atmosphere that we got tired after two plays," said Highlanders head coach Sean Mulcahy, his team finishing with 325 yards to the Warriors' 257. "Wahconah took it to us early and I think our kids did panic a little bit."

Doherty (10-1) faces Dennis-Yarmouth (a 21-14 winner over Bedford on Saturday) in the final on Dec. 7 at Gillette Stadium – time to be announced.

While some pundits assumed the Highlanders' overall talent-level would be far too great for the Warriors (10-1) to handle, it appeared to be the other way around in the early going.

On the Warriors’ opening possession, senior quarterback Ethan Wells, who played marvelously all game long, directed his club on a 53-yard scoring drive with Wells completing the drive by connecting with junior wide out Ryan Washburn for a 26-yard scoring reception. Matt Salvatore's proceeding conversion catch had the Warriors in front, 8-0.

Wells put his diversity on display for the Highlanders, demonstrating his capabilities throwing the football as well as running with it. He finished with 129 yards on 30 carries and was 6 of 13 passing for 93 yards. Lining up in the shotgun throughout, Doherty's defense appeared baffled about what Wells would do next, consistently loading the box to take away the run.

Yet, the strategy didn't seem to faze Wahconah. After a second consecutive Highlanders punt, the Warriors were given a short field to work as they set up on Doherty's 43-yard line. Four runs by Wells, netting 17 yards, positioned running back Darrow Brown to bust through for a 10 yard scoring run with just over a minute remaining in the initial quarter. Brown then threw a pass to Cole Morrison for the two-point conversion pushing the Warriors out to a 16-0 advantage.

In spite of the deficit, it was certainly still within reach for Doherty, and its plethora of talent, to jump back into it. All the Highlanders needed was something to fall their way and provide a much-needed lift. It came in the form of running back Jahkari Carpenter.

With Doherty's running game totally inept during the opening frame, Carpenter changed that early in the second thanks to his 59-yard jaunt. That was immediately followed by senior quarterback Luke Brennan's 19-yard touchdown scamper to make it 16-6 after the conversion run failed.

"Our defense made some great adjustments after [Wahconah] went up by 16 points," said Brennan, who finished with 93 yards on 6 of 15 passing. "Our offense eventually clicked and that's what we did the rest of the game. Everyone kept their poise. We knew it was going to be a war. We knew we needed to grind for four quarters and keep our composure the whole game no matter what happened and that's what we did."

On the ensuing kickoff, the Warriors made a critical error which in turn provided the momentum shift Doherty grasped hold of and didn’t surrender.

Senior Eli Pease had the ball squirt through his hands that ended up sitting on the 1-yard line. After a delay-of-game penalty, Wells had no place to go inside his own end zone and was smothered by the Highlander defense resulting in a safety.

"Once we got that safety I felt our kids could finally breathe a little and now start to play," Mulcahy said.

He added, "We'll enjoy this and now get ready for Burncoat on Thanksgiving. We'll worry about Gillette after Thanksgiving."

With 4:47 still left before halftime, Doherty came all the way back. Carpenter's 42-yard zig-zag touchdown and Mitch Celaj's conversion catch had this contest knotted at 16-16. Carpenter finished with 114 yards on 14 attempts.

"We did a great job coming out for this game," Warriors coach Gary Campbell Jr. said. "Offensively and defensively we were executing. But in the second quarter the wheels came off. All you can ask for are opportunities. If you get them phenomenal and if you don't that's the way it goes. Doherty is a quality team but I was pleased to see our kids hang with them through four quarters like they did. We'll fight with anybody but this one will sting a little.

“I thought Ethan [Wells] played great for us today. He is our heart and soul. He's a tough kid who is still deciding on attending either RPI and WPI. It doesn't matter where you put him on the field. He's just a very smart, tough player that can play anywhere."

It only got worse Wahconah after a shotgun snap deflected off of Pease, who was in motion, resulting in Highlander senior Peter Franco’s recovery on Wahconah's 40. But Doherty running back Issac Yiadom gave the ball back to the Warriors, coughing it up inside the 10. Yiadom carried the ball four times for 40 yards.

Wahconah's offense did nothing following the turnover and had its punt partially blocked. Doherty took over on the 16 and needed only one play to take a 6-point lead. Alfred Adarkwah's 16-yard scoring grab from Brennan with 16 seconds before halftime had the Highlanders in a much-better frame of mind than what transpired during opening 11 minutes.

The second half was a bend-but-don't break style offense and defense from both teams. Doherty had a chance to pad its lead late in the third but Carpenter lost control of the ball inside the Warriors 10. Likewise, Wahconah put forth its best drive of the game following the turnover. Beginning at his own 8-yard line, Wells' legs did much of the work in moving the Warriors all the way the Highlanders’ 6. Facing a fourth-and-goal Wells' pass to the back of the end zone was battered down by senior Shawn Jackson.

Doherty regained possession and eventually ran out the clock for the triumph.

Video: MIAA football state semifinals preview

November, 21, 2013
11/21/13
5:22
PM ET
Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall take a look at this weekend's MIAA football tournament state semifinals in this week's preview segment.

In addition to our weekly picks, we're breaking down Mansfield's play-action game and dominant performances from Dennis-Yarmouth's Michael Dunn, Melrose quarterback Malik Garrett and St. John's (Shrewsbury) quarterback Drew Smiley:

(Video produced by Greg Story)

Mr. Football Watch: Playoffs, Week 3

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
2:21
AM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch", following the third weekend of MIAA State Championship Playoffs. As always, coaches and/or statisticians are encouraged to send statistics to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This will be the final "Mr. Football Watch" of the 2013 season. The five finalists for our Mr. Football Award will be announced on Monday, Nov. 25, with the winner announced on Dec. 9.

***

THE CONTENDERS

Luke Brennan, Sr. QB, Doherty
Threw for 191 yards and three touchdowns, but most importantly delivered the game-winning touchdown pass to Isaac Yiadom with five seconds left, as the Highlanders captured their first Central Mass. title since 1980 with a thrilling win over Shepherd Hill.

Davon Jones, Jr. FS, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Totaled 10 tackles and an interception, in the Pioneers' 51-42 thriller over Leominster for the D2 Central title. He leads the team in tackles (91) and interceptions (5).

Neil O'Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
Totaled 289 passing yards and two touchdowns, in a 51-42 loss to St. John's in the D2 Central Final.

Dylan Oxsen, Sr. RB, Plymouth South
Carried a career-high 39 times for 160 yards and a touchdown in the Panthers' 7-6 win over rival Plymouth North for the D3 Southeast title. He is the state's leader in playoff rushing yardage, with 737.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Completed 14 of 22 passes for 250 yards and three scores, and added 201 yards rushing and three more scores on 20 carries, in the win over Leominster. That puts him over the 2,000-yard passing mark for the second straight season; he currently has 2,787 yards of offense with 38 touchdowns.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Completed 15 of 22 passes for 344 yards and four touchdowns in the Golden Eagles' win over Westfield in the D2 West Final.

Ju'an Williams, Sr. WR, Springfield Central
Made five catches for 119 yards in the Golden Eagles' 48-22 dismantling of Westfield in the D2 West Final.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 20 of 27 passes for 284 yards and four touchdowns in the Hornets' 41-16 win over Barnstable in the D2 South Final. He is completing 70 percent of his passes in the playoffs.

FIVE ON THE RISE

Olan Abner, Sr. RB, Bedford
Ran for 139 yards and a touchdown in the Buccaneers' overtime win over Pentucket for the D4 North title, his third straight week going over 100 yards rushing.

Jahkari Carpenter, Jr. RB, Doherty
Ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns to help lead the Highlanders past Shepherd Hill for the D4 Central title. He has 230 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the last two weeks.

Michael Dunn, Jr. CB, Dennis-Yarmouth
Held Holliston's top target Zach Elkinson without a catch, and made an interception for his own cause -- his sixth of the season -- as the Dolphins captured the D4 South title.

Michael Hershman, Sr. WR, Mansfield
Exploded for seven catches for 132 yards in the Hornets' 41-16 win over Barnstable, for the D2 South title.

Shayne Kaminski, Sr. RB, Xaverian
Ran for 200 yards and two scores to help rally the Hawks past Attleboro for the D1 South title, his second 200-yard rushing game in three playoff games.

PLAYOFF STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing
Kyle Wisnieski, Sr., Mansfield – 689 yards, 9 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 647 yards, 5 TD
Luke Brennan, Sr., Doherty - 607 yards, 11 TD
Drew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 588 yards, 10 TD
Neil O’Connor, Sr., Leominster – 575 yards, 5 TD
Mike Milano, Sr., Central Catholic – 516 yards, 4 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 504 yards, 6 TD
Dana Parello, Sr., Waltham – 494 yards, 6 TD
Tim Walsh, Sr., Attleboro - 469 yards, 8 TD
Cody Williams, Sr., Springfield Central – 417 yards, 5 TD

Rushing
Dylan Oxsen, Sr., Plymouth South – 737 yards, 8 TD
Alex Givins-Perry, Sr., Bartlett – 710 yards, 5 TD
Christian Carr, Jr., Plymouth North – 618 yards, 8 TD
Brooks Tyrrell, Jr., Marblehead – 512 yards, 6 TD
Koby Schofer, Soph., Northbridge – 466 yards, 8 TD
Malik Garrett, Sr., Melrose – 466 yards, 7 TD
Shayne Kaminski, Sr., Xaverian – 447 yards, 5 TD
Mike Panepinto, Sr., Needham – 418 yards, 6 TD
Olan Abner, Sr., Bedford – 395 yards, 3 TD
Shane Combs, Jr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 386 yards, 5 TD

D4 South final: D-Y 26, Holliston 7

November, 16, 2013
11/16/13
12:50
AM ET
SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. – It wasn’t pretty and it was downright frustrating at times.

In what was expected to be a high scoring affair between two of the best passing offenses in the state, it was the defenses that stole the show in Friday’s Division 4 South title game.

The Dolphin defense picked off Panther quarterback Matt Jeye five times and the offense finally found their stride in the final quarter in a 26-7 victory, clinching a spot in the Division 4 State semifinals.

The Dolphins broke a 7-7 tie with less than five minutes to play on Michael Dunn’s 11-yard scoring run and Spencer Tyler put the game on ice a minute and a half later with a 13-yard scamper.

“We just started off slow,” Tyler said following the victory. “I struggled a little bit, us as a group we weren’t clicking as we’re used to. We knew we had to pick it up in the second half because the defense played a hell of a game.”

The D-Y front four got immense pressure on Jeye all game, resulting in five sacks and countless knockdowns. Defensive end Jake Stafford led his line with three sacks and Kyle Pina and Dan Robels each got to the senior play-caller once.

“They got pressure on him, that was the key to it,” said Panther coach Todd Kiley. “They got pressure with their front four and our guys had a little difficulty getting open. D-Y did a great job, they have great athleticism in the secondary.”

That pressure contributed to the five interceptions. The first came at the end of the first quarter when L.K. Metz jumped an out route on fourth down and returned it to the Panthers’ 38-yard line.

The Holliston defense answered by forcing D-Y to turn the ball over on downs in four plays.

Two plays later, Mike Anderson picked off a pass intended for Paul Beling, giving D-Y the ball at the Holliston 25 yard line. Tyler made the Panthers pay five plays later hooking up with sophomore receiver Andrew Jamiel from 12 yards out. A Drew Tardiff extra point gave the home team a 7-0 lead with eight minutes to play in the second quarter.

“From start of the game to end of the game, I don’t know if anyone had a better game than Andrew Jamiel,” D-Y coach Paul Funk said. “He’s only a sophomore. For a sophomore to step up like this and go both ways, he normally doesn’t do that.”

After the two teams turned the ball over on next two drives, Jeye (9 of 34, 119) yards) had the Panthers on the doorstep of tying the game when the ball took an unfortunate bounce.

With the ball at the Dolphins’ 17 yard line, Jeye went over the middle but the ball was tipped by Tristan O’Leary at the line of scrimmage and fell into the hands of Angelo Hardaway.

Again the Holliston defense made a stop, forcing a punt at midfield. Liam Matheson pinned the Panthers at their own one-yard line and on the following play, Dunn (16 carries, 90 yards) picked off a deep pass down the right side intended for Zach Elkinson and returned it to the Holliston 35.

“I can’t say enough about Mike Dunn,” Funk said “That kid [Elkinson] is one of the best players in the state. He covered him all game on defense and ran the ball as much as we could give it to him on offense. It says a lot about him.”

Put into a tough position third time that quarter, the Holliston defense answered again forcing a turnover on downs.

The Dolphins got the ball to begin the half and were set to double their lead when Holliston caught a break. After going four plays and 46 yards in less than a minute, Corey Desimone (10 rush, 51 yards) fumbled the ball away at the Panther 14-yard line.

After an ugly first half in the passing game, Holliston began to transition to the run game, giving their junior halfback Joe Bellomo a heavier load and looking toward the run-option to move the football.

On their first two drives of the half, the Panthers rushed the ball for 100 yards and tied the game with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter on Bellomo’s nine yard scoring run.

With the momentum at the back of the Panthers their defense forced another D-Y stop and Jeye had the offense clicking. Threatening to take the lead with the ball at the Dolphins 25 yard line, the DY defense stiffened up and forced the turnover on downs.

Dunn broke out a 40-yard run on the following play and scored from 11 yards out seven plays later.

Matheson picked off Jeye for the fifth time on the following drive, and Tyler and Jacob Pawlina scored touchdowns in the final three minutes to finish out the game.

Taking away their weapons: D-Y had not seen a passing offense like this since Barnstable to open their season. To plan for the three and four wide receiver sets that the Panthers run, the Dolphins took some up their own wide receivers to line up on defense.

Making D-Y secondary’s job easier was the outstanding play of the defensive line.

But the Panther wide outs had difficulty getting any separation.

Andrew Jamiel was the standout defensive back for the Dolphins. The sophomore doesn’t play defense but was inserted into the lineup and had himself a game.

“Jamiel was outstanding,” said Funk. “A kickoff return, a touchdown, he made a tackle on the quarterback, great defensive play on fourth and long.”

Mike Anderson drew the tough card of handling Jeye’s favorite target Paul Beling. Beling caught five balls for 67 yards, but was relatively held in check as he longest catch was only 15 yards.

Dunn lined up opposite Elkinson and held him without a catch on the night.

We just kept working on it hard in practice,” Dunn said. “We put a couple receivers that start on offense and I covered them in practice to prepare for [Elkinson]. They only had a couple targets to three and no catches, so I think we worked hard enough in practice and prepared for them well to ruin their game plan.”

That stingy Holliston defense: When Holliston football comes to mind it is their electric pass game that immediately comes to mind. But their defense stole the show.

The Panthers turned the ball over four times in the first half. Three of those Dolphin drives began in Holliston territory. D-Y only got seven points off those four turnovers. Given the circumstances, the defense showed up to play. D-Y was 2-for-14 on third down and had four fourth down stops.

“Our defense played great,” said Kiley. “As poorly as we played, we had a chance in the fourth quarter to close it out.”

Dennis-Yarmouth 26, Holliston 7

H 0 0 7 0 -- 7

DY 0 7 0 19 -- 26

Second Quarter

DY-Andrew Jamiel 12 pass from Spencer Tyler (Drew Tardiff kick), 8:02

Third Quarter

H-Joe Bellomo 9 run (Matt Jeye kick), 2:49

Fourth Quarter

DY-Michael Dunn 11 run (kick fail), 4:30

DY-Spencer Tyler 13 run (rush fail), 2:51

DY-Jacob Pawlina 29 run (Tardiff kick), :27

Quick hits from last weekend, looking ahead

November, 12, 2013
11/12/13
1:13
AM ET
Some quick thoughts from last weekend’s second round of MIAA State Championship football playoffs, and looking ahead to this week’s sectional finals:

1a. Springfield Central’s Valdamar Brower and Leominster’s Dave Palazzi were my two front-runners for Coach of the Year headed into Friday, but Barnstable’s Chris Whidden has to be firmly in any discussion from herein, following Friday’s impressive stifling of Natick. At the beginning of the year, Whidden righted the ship before it even began to sink, making conditioning a high point of emphasis following their season-opening 37-9 whupping at the hands of archrival Dennis-Yarmouth. The Red Raiders came out of their bye week and proceeded to take down two Catholic Conference teams, BC High and Xaverian, in back to back weeks.

Last week, Whidden installed a Cover 2 defense –- a look they’ve never run all season long –- in three days to combat the wizardry of Troy Flutie. In what some would consider a shrewd move, Whidden opted not to match up his top defensive back (Derek Estes) with Natick’s most dangerous target (Alex Hilger), instead sticking a linebacker on Hilger and sagging the corners into zones. Whidden is a smart, smart coach, who knows how to quickly evaluate his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and devise a flexible gameplan to counter. This was a team that some thought would not compete as well as they did a year ago, when they reached the D1A Super Bowl, yet here they are, two wins away from a return to Gillette Stadium.

We’re three years into the Whidden era, and I’ve already lost count of how many wins the Raiders have had over Top 10 opponents. By now, this is no fluke. The guy can flat out coach.

1b. All that said, this Friday’s D2 South Final could be Whidden’s best challenge yet. Long-time Mansfield coach Mike Redding is a chess grand master, but he’s never had a king piece quite like Brendan Hill. The 6-foot-6 junior already holds a Division 1 FBS offer (UMass), leads the Hornets in receiving (43 catches, 631 yards, 7 TD) and lines up everywhere on the perimeter, from tight end to slot receiver to split end. Back in Week 6, King Philip held Hill to his lowest receiving total of the season (3 catches, 43 yards) in a 20-7 loss to the Hornets, and they mixed up their coverage quite a bit on him – rolling coverages, pressing, bumping and passing him along to another zone.

But here’s the thing. If they decide to deploy special coverage on Hill, I think the Hornets are that kind of team that would use him as a decoy to open up other parts of the field for two of their other most dangerous targets, Michael Hershman and Miguel Villar-Perez. Just a great matchup here between two of the best schemers across the state. Expect some funky stuff.

2. Crazy stat line of the week, singles division: In two playoff games, Doherty wide receiver Alfred Adarkwah has four catches for 122 yards and four touchdowns. That’s right, literally every touch this postseason for the lanky 6-foot-4 senior has been for a score.

During the summer, coaches and players over on Highland St. hinted that the Highlanders had been experimenting Boston College-bound athlete Isaac YIadom and Adarkwah on the same side of formations during passing leagues, to positive results. For the most part, that hasn’t been the case. Rather, leaving Adarkwah on an island opposite Yiadom’s side of the formation has yielded dramatic results (see: Quabbin, first round). And here’s the dilemma: the moment you shade off of Yiadom, the threat of him ripping off a big gain increases threefold.

Monday film sessions at Doherty are called “Moss Monday” for a reason. When talking about players who have elevated their stock for All-State consideration with their playoff performances, Adarkwah is certainly in the discussion.

3. Crazy stat line of the week, pairs division: In two playoff games, Plymouth South’s Dylan Oxsen and Plymouth North’s Christian Carr have combined for 1,128 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Apart, they are the state’s two top playoff rushing leaders, with both scoring seven times and Oxsen holding a 26-yard edge. That alone should be reason enough to go see these two teams square off. Now put the Division 3 Southeast title on the line, and factor in the intensity of his heated cross-town rivalry (Romano Field was over capacity in the first meeting in September, a 4 p.m. start), and this has the makings of something special.

4. Leominster is going for an unprecedented sixth straight win over rival St. John’s of Shrewsbury, dating back to the start of 2011, when the two teams meet on Friday at Doyle Field for the D2 Central title, but I don’t think this is such a shoe-in for the Blue Devils. How quickly people forget that, after a dismal first half, quarterback Andrew Smiley lit up the Leominster defense in the second half with a slew of screen passes, with Mike McGillicuddy the primary benefactor. If they get off to a good start in the screen game, and stay committed to it, I think an upset is in play here for the Pioneers.

5. Another reason to love the new playoff format: four teams from the Hockomock League and three from the Atlantic Coast Leagues are playing for district titles this weekend. Under the former system, Hockomock Kelley-Rex runner-up Attleboro would not be playing for a D1 South title on Friday night, nor would Davenport runner-up Stoughton (D3 Southwest), while Kelley-Rex champ Mansfield (D2 South) and Oliver Ames (D3 Southwest) would be still in play. Meanwhile, ACL champ Plymouth South (D3 Southeast) would be playing while Plymouth North (D3 Southeast) and Dennis-Yarmouth (D4 South) would be sitting at home. Up North, we have an All-DCL D2 Final (Lincoln-Sudbury vs. Waltham) and an All-Middlesex D3 Northwest Final (Woburn vs. Melrose). Honestly, what’s not to like about that?

6a. I’ve asked to several coaches playing non-playoff games about their approach, and whether they try to get underclassmen experience or let the seniors finish out their glory. Most of them said the same thing –- you have to balance the two. But the overarching theme I sensed with their talks was that, like a lower-tier college bowl game, there isn’t a lot of pressure so you might as well have some fun.

There’s still some interesting storylines to be played out there. For a football junkie like me, I actually look forward to some of these unique matchups, such as last weekend’s matchup between Somerset-Berkley’s “double wing” scheme and Nauset’s unique “Notre Dame Box” variation of the Single Wing, complete with spinning fullbacks. Elsewhere, Natick’s Troy Flutie needs one touchdown pass to tie the state’s all-time mark, and assuming he’s healthy enough to play, he could very well do it Friday against Needham.

6b. Which brings us to our final crazy stat line of the week, non-playoff division: In two post-qualification games, Pope John Paul II junior quarterback Ryan Barabe is completing 86 percent of his passes (31-of-36) for 488 yards and six touchdowns. That’s right, 86 percent, or 18 points higher than his regular season percentage. I’m on record saying the Lions were snubbed in D6 South, an unfair casualty of second league automatic qualifiers, and I’m wondering if this non-playoff run will help build a case for detractors.

Roundtable: Predicting MIAA Football District Champs

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
4:21
PM ET
EDITOR'S NOTE: Picks for Western Mass. are omitted, as the district concludes its final week of regular season this weekend)

Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


Division 1 North: Everett
Plain and simple, I just don’t see John DiBiaso getting outcoached in this field.

Division 1 South: Attleboro
One of several surprise picks I’m going to lay down here. The Blue Bombardiers’ program has long been a sleeping giant, and they’ve finally awoken this fall with a slew of skilled athletes, including quarterback Tim Walsh, tight end Luke Morrison, receiver Brenden Massey and promising young two-way lineman Kyle Murphy. The key may be junior Damon Belin, a speedy pass-catching running back who is elusive in space.

Division 2 North: Haverhill
Hard to think just two years after an 0-11 campaign, the Hillies are the No. 1 seed in a playoff tournament. Sophomore running back Ian Kessel, one of the area’s leaders in yards from scrimmage, has been at the forefront of the renaissance, and I expect him to have a breakout campaign this next month.

Division 2 South: Natick
If there is one player capable of carrying his team on his back, it is quarterback Troy Flutie, who has put up video game numbers yet again (2,500-plus yards, 35 TD) with an assortment of supporting cast members.

Division 2 Central: Leominster
This is the most talented team of Dave Palazzi’s tenure, and it may be his best coaching job yet. They are not the most physically intimidating team, but they are one of the most disciplined, and they squeeze every inch out of their talents, led by dual threat QB Neil O’Connor. The Blue Devils brought the biggest crowd ever to Gillette Stadium two years ago. I can only imagine what kind of caravan from this football-mad city would show up this year.

Division 3 Northeast: Tewksbury
There may be some bumps in the road in this field, but at the end of the day there isn’t a team as deep as the Redmen in this field. They were the most dominant team in the MVC this season, and with a stable of running backs led by James Sullivan and Eddie Matovu, along with a scheme that draws formations from seemingly every family of offense throughout history, I just don’t see how anyone knocks these guys off.

Division 3 Northwest: Arlington
Two Dubzinskis are better than one, and the father-son duo of head coach John Jr. and his father John Sr. as defensive coordinator has taken the Middlesex by storm this fall after showing promise a year ago. I don’t know what direction this bracket is headed in, but the Spy Ponders are a safe pick.

Division 3 Southeast: Plymouth South
As long as Dylan Oxsen is carrying the rock, I don’t see anyone but the Panthers taking this bracket. It’s a different story after that, though.

Division 3 Southwest: Walpole
The Rebels’ ground game has come along well, after hitting a few bumps. As long as the defense can hold up, their multi-dimensional stable of backs can do the rest.

Division 4 North: Bedford
Another field that can go in an assortment of directions, the ground game dictated by Olan Abner could be the difference.

Division 4 South: Dennis-Yarmouth
The Dolphins typically hit their stride in the second half of the season, and the way this offense is clicking, it’s going to take a flawless defensive performance to shut down Spencer Tyler, Michael Dunn and company.

Division 4 Central: Doherty
Twitter follower and familiar 98.5 The Sports Hub caller “Aidan From Worcester” guarantees Shepherd Hill beats Doherty in this bracket. The Rams are a dangerous bunch, but the Highlanders have arguably the best grouping of pure athletes statewide across Division 4, so I'm sticking to my gut.

Division 5 North: Bishop Fenwick
Rufus Rushins gets much of the glory in this dominant run for the Crusaders, and deservedly so, but quarterback Nick Bona is the catalyst of this offense, and will be the difference in a close game somewhere down the line.

Division 5 South: Abington
The Green Wave lost some key bodies to start the year, but have been rolling ever since, capped with a convincing 36-7 rout of East Bridgewater. The versatile backfield of Al Freeman, Jason Halpin, quarterback Bryan Dwyer and promising sophomore Shawn Donovan will wear front sevens down.

Division 5 Central: Leicester
Tom Rodrick has been the driving force on both sides of the ball, but quarterback Drew Mazzeo puts the Wolverines over the top.

Division 6 North: Latin Academy
There are trendier picks in this field, such as Boston Cathedral, but the Dragons have one of the better overall athletes in this field in quarterback/safety Kyle Dance. He will be the difference.

Division 6 South: Upper Cape
Mike Hernon has done a fantastic job with this program, and while the Rams are a low seed headed into this wide-open field, Jon Dumont is a dangerous asset to this triple-option scheme who can take them deep.

Division 6 Central: Blackstone Valley Tech
Nic Wojnar is as elusive with his feet as he is throwing the ball in the Beavers’ read option scheme. Expect big numbers from the senior this postseason.

***

Scott Barboza
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


DIVISION 1 NORTH: Lowell
I’ve gone on record since the summertime months saying the Red Raiders are making an appearance at Gillette Stadium this year. Lowell has a tough road there, staring with a first-round road game at St. John’s Prep in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 swing matchup, but I’ve like the strides this defense has made behind Alex Quintero and Shyheim Cullen.

DIVISION 2 NORTH: Haverhill
One of the tougher races to project in Eastern Mass., the Hillies enter as the No. 1 seed. Preseason favorite Reading, a buzz worthy Waltham team and old stalwarts Lincoln-Sudbury could all claim the prize, but I’m going with the upstart Hillies, vindication for the terrific job Tim O’Connor has done since taking over the program.

DIVISION 3 NORTHEAST: Tewksbury
Marblehead might have the best athlete in the field with two-sport standout Brooks Tyrrell, but Tewksbury proves too much to handle, with a three-headed rushing attack and a stout defense.

DIVISION 3 NORTHWEST: Melrose
The Red Raiders lone loss of the regular season came against Middlesex Freedom division rival Wakefield, coming on a late field goal, but I like Melrose the second time around. The teams couldn’t meet until the sectional final and who wouldn’t love ensuring a third meeting of the season by Thanksgiving rivals.

DIVISION 4 NORTH: Watertown
Perhaps a surprise pick coming out of the division, the Red Raiders have some athletes on the boundaries with T.J. Hairston. I think Bedford might be the team to watch here, but just playing a hunch.

DIVISION 5 NORTH: Bishop Fenwick
Pick the Crusaders to go all the way, on a tear through Gillette. They haven’t just beaten teams, they’ve annihilated the CCL’s best, including St. Mary’s (first-round opponent) and Austin Prep, which they both will/can see down the road.

DIVISION 6 NORTH: Cathedral
Another North-based team I have running the field. As I mentioned earlier in the state championship Roundtable, I think the Panthers are just hitting their stride now. This could be the second championship of more to come.

DIVISION 1 SOUTH: Xaverian
Almost wanted to pull the trigger and go with Bridgewater-Raynham here, but I think the Hawks’ defense, which has carried them through the regular season, continues to be the story in the postseason, leading them to Gillette.

DIVISION 2 SOUTH: Mansfield
If this were the World Cup, this would be referred to as the “Group of Death.” Seriously, whichever team survives this gauntlet will be battle-tested. Ever since Week 1, it seems as though Mansfield’s been a team of destiny; they follow through.

DIVISION 3 SOUTHEAST: Plymouth South
An intriguing bracket, littered with some of the Atlantic Coast League’s finest, so look no further than the Panthers, the league’s playoff representative from last season. Nauset and Plymouth North are lurking, but also don’t look past an underrated rivalry game between Somerset-Berkley and Dighton-Rehoboth as a first-round appetizer.

DIVISION 3 SOUTHWEST: Oliver Ames
Another division strongly influenced by the presence of one particular league, in this case the Hockomock. OA and Stoughton drew the top two seeds, but let’s not sleep on No. 4 seed North Attleborough, which plays up in the Kelley-Rex division. Whichever team emerges from the Red Rocketeers’ first-round duel with Walpole could be a dark horse for the sectional title.

DIVISION 4 SOUTH: Westwood
Tons of Tri-Valley League talent to go around here, but I’m sticking with the regular-season champion. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if Dennis-Yarmouth wears the sectional crown, but the Wolverines are a team that simply seems to get it done when the chips are on the table, led by dynamic senior quarterback Bo Berluti.

DIVISION 5 SOUTH: Cardinal Spellman
Old Rochester Regional enters the tournament with the No. 1 seeding, having posted some gaudy offensive numbers throughout the year behind running back Richie Phillips. I picked the Cardinals to win the state title from the start of the season, and while I like Fenwick a little more in terms of the state championship, I still envision Spellman returning to Gillette.

DIVISION 6 SOUTH: Millis/Hopedale
Perhaps no injury will have a greater impact on the outlook of the division than that of the Mohawks and lineman Jon Baker. Granted, I still like M/H’s chances emerging from a wide-open field, thanks to running back Chris Ahl. That being said, the Mohawks’ first-round date with Mashpee could determine the sectional champion.

DIVISION 2 CENTRAL: Leominster
I like the Blue Devils to advance to Gillette, but the sectional field is fraught with peril, too. Marlborough and St. John’s (Shrewsbury) can score with the best of them, but I don’t think anything short of an act of god slows down the Leominster caravan.

DIVISION 4 CENTRAL: Doherty
From season’s start, I’ve tabbed the Highlanders as my statewide Division 4 championship favorite. However, the toughest matchup in the path might very well in their first-round test against No. 6 seed Quabbin.

DIVISION 5 CENTRAL: Leicester
Coming into the season, it would have been easy to project Auburn running away with another championship of sorts, but I’m going with the No. 1-seeded Wolverines, led by linebacker Tom Rodrick – a strong Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

DIVISION 6 CENTRAL: West Boylston
This is a case of what have you done for me lately? While No. 1 seed Littleton rolled through its Mid-Wach schedule undefeated, scoring at a clip of nearly 43 points per game, West Boylston notched a thorough win over previously mentioned Leicester two weeks ago. Granted, the Lions’ lone loss of the season came at the hands of Littleton, but after a one-possession loss in Week 1, I’m banking on the second meeting having a different outcome.

Recap: No. 23 D-Y 40, Marshfield 36

October, 26, 2013
10/26/13
12:50
AM ET
MARSHFIELD, Mass. -– The playoffs started a week early for the Dolphins and Rams as both squads we looking at similar situations. Win and your in. A loss and it gets, murky, to say the least.

And if this game is any indication of how the rest of the playoffs will go, buckle up.

After Marshfield took a 36-33 lead with 3:04 left on the clock, Spencer Tyler drove him team 82 yards in 10 plays in just under two minutes, hitting Cory Desimone for an eight yard score to give the Dolphins a thrilling 40-36 victory over rival Atlantic Coast League rival Marshfield.

“They battled from start to finish,” said D-Y coach Paul Funk following the game. “There were so many times we could have folded our tent. That’s a heck of a team over there and we just battled and battled and battled.”

The Rams got the ball back at their own 35 with 1:22 to play and made every second count.

Jack Masterson guided the Rams to the D-Y 11 yard line with two seconds to play, going 4-for-6 for 44 yards. With time for one final play, Masterson threw it up for Dan Dalton but the pass fell incomplete and the Dolphins faithful erupted.

“The kids were battling like crazy,” said Marshfield coach Lou Silva. “To consider yourself a player you got to make plays and in that second half a lot of our kids made plays.”

Following the final Rams score, Michael Dunn (8 rush, 72 yards) returned the kickoff 75 yards, but the play was negated due to a holding penalty. Tyler (20-35, 282 yards 4 TDs; 10 rush 93 yards) set up shop at his own 15 and went 3-for-8 on the drive for 55 yards. He connected with L.K. Metz for a 40 yard strike and a huge defensive pass interference on Marshfield on third down in the end zone gave D-Y the ball at the six yard line and a fresh set of downs.

“We just knew we had to be confident,” said Tyler about the final drive. “We knew our offense was clicking so we were all very confident.”

“That’s a lot for a high school kid to have that compsure,” offensive coordinator Joe Jamiel said of his senior quarterback. “He made a great read and a great throw.”

After the teams exchanged touchdowns on the first six drives, the Dolphins began to pull away toward in the third quarter. After stopping the Rams on three consecutive drives, Tyler hit Andrew Jamiel for a 24 yard score with 5:08 to play giving D-Y a 33-21 lead.

The Rams responded with a three yard score from Ben Joyal that was set up by a Jack Masterson 47-yard hookup with Dalton cutting the lead to 33-28 with 7:20 to go.

After an unsuccessful onside kick, the Dolphins took over at midfield but Tyler fumbled the snap and Marshfield took over with a short field. Marshfield marched downfield and took the lead on Joyal’s three yard run, but left too much time for the D-Y offense.

“I’m just really proud of how hard our coaching staff and players worked this week,” said Funk. “We worked 27/7 for this game.”

Hot Start: The first defensive stop didn’t come until 3:07 of the second quarter. Marshfield took their first three drives and marched 76, 68 and 41 yards for touchdowns. The Dolphins were nearly identical, going 76, 68 and 67 yards.

The Dolphins didn’t bring out their punter, Liam Matheson until the fourth quarter.

Whoever draws these two squads in the postseason will have their hands full. After back-to-back losses earlier in the season, the Dolphins are averaging 41.5 points per game and have scored over 40 the last three.

“He’s (Tyler) grown leaps and bounds,” said Jamiel. “He has the ability to see the field and make the right decisions. He’s really come a long way.”

The Dolphins don’t know who’ll they’ll have in the Division 4 South playoffs until Sunday at the earliest. But the way the Dolphins are playing right now, good luck to who gets the unlucky draw.

“We’ll practice hard all week and whoever we play, we’ll be ready for them,” said Dunn.

Marshfield on the other hand, may need some help to get into the Division 2 South playoffs. A win would have cemented themselves in the playoffs. If they do get in, it will be another tough draw for their opponent. Marshfield is averaging 31.8 points in their last five games, but more dangerously, their composure in close games makes them stand out.

Two last second victories over Nauset and Plymouth North and then went punch for punch with D-Y makes them dangerous.

“Winning those two close games boosts the kids confidence,” said Silva. “It tells me we have some battlers. Kids that aren’t going to give and battle to the last whistle.”

Michael Dunn. Playmaker. Dunn’s athleticism, strength and speed gives him a unique ability to change the outcome of a game on his own. Weather is be on offense, defense or special teams there is no way to stop him. At least the Dolphins opponents haven’t figured out a way yet.

After the Dolphins turned the ball over in the first quarter, Dunn picked off Masterson to swing the momentum back. After a fumble early in the second half, Dunn picked off Masterson again; refusing to lets the Rams capitalize off the D-Y miscues.

He returned a kickoff in the final minutes, albeit negated from a holding call when D-Y was on the brink and he blew by the Rams defensive backs a handful of times, creating the home run play. Opening up the deep threat also opens up other options, such as Mike Anderson, Jake Pawlina and rising star Andrew Jamiel.

As long as Dunn is healthy, and Tyler is under center, D-Y can go toe-to-toe with any team in the state.


No. 23 D-Y 40, Marshfield 36
DY 13 14 6 7 -- 40
MA 14 7 0 14 -- 35


First Quarter
M - Robert Rovito 56 run (Aaron Skulky kick), 9:15
D - Corey Desimone 2 run (Drew Tardiff kick), 8:05
M - James Marzelli 4 run (Skulky kick), 3:55
D - Michael Dunn 34 pass from Spencer Tyler (kick blocked), 1:15

Second Quarter
M - Jack Masterson 9 run (Skulky kick), 7:55
D - Dunn 43 pass from Tyler (L.K. Metz pass from Tyler), 5:50
D - Tyler 43 run (kick fail)

Third Quarter
D - Andrew Jamiel 24 pass from Tyler (pass failed), 5:08

Fourth Quarter
M - Ben Joyal 3 run (Skulky kick), 7:20
M - Joyal 3 run (Masterson rush), 3:04
D - Cory Desimone 8 pass from Tyler (Tardiff kick), 1:22

ESPN Boston Week 5 football picks

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
2:53
PM ET
No. 14 PLYMOUTH SOUTH (3-0) at DENNIS-YARMOUTH (1-2), Friday 6 p.m.

Scott Barboza: I think Dylan Oxsen could play on one leg, with arm tied behind his back and the Panthers will be just fine. Plymouth South, 14-7.

Brendan Hall: I think South’s archrival, Plymouth North, laid out a good game plan for shutting down D-Y after the Dolphins looked like world-beaters in Week 1. Like their cross-town enemies to the North, much of South’s running game is predicated on power and counter sets; spliced in with all of the misdirection element the pistol offense brings, and I think the Panthers can stay in control here. Plymouth South, 24-14.

No. 7 BROCKTON (2-1) at BC HIGH (1-2), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: I like the Boxers’ chances at controlling the line of scrimmage behind Aaron Monteiro and Co. Brockton, 30-21.

Hall: Given BC High’s difficulties defending the pass, but stout ability at defending the run (for the most part), the Eagles can pull off the upset here as long as they stay disciplined. The bye week has been pretty kind to teams looking to re-charge the batteries or clean up some deficiencies – just look at what it did for Everett, Barnstable and Springfield Central. BC High, 18-16.

LONGMEADOW (2-1) at No. 3 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (2-1), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: The Lancers are wont to play ball-control and keep the Golden Eagles’ offense off the field; it’s just a matter of whether they can keep pace with them. Central, 21-14.

Hall: I think the Lancers end Central’s shutout streak, but the Golden Eagles have made a habit lately of dispatching opponents early in the game. This is the premier non-Thanksgiving rivalry in Western Mass. right now, but if the Lancers get into a track meet with these guys this could get untracked. Central, 35-21.

No. 11 ST. JOHN’S OF SHREWSBURY (2-1) at NASHOBA (3-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Credit to the Chieftains who simply reload year after year, but the streak comes to a halt at No. 29. St. John’s, 34-28.

Hall: I have a feeling this could be a high-scoring game, with the amount of possessions St. John’s offense surrenders to the opposition. Andrew Smiley and Co. do just enough to stay ahead of the Chieftains, and end their state-best 29-game win streak, but this Wing-T offense for Nashoba is fluid. Helps that the coaching staff went from one Tucker to another this past offseason – continuity is pivotal. St. John’s, 40-30.

HAVERHILL (2-1) at METHUEN (4-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Hillies RB Ian Kessel can play foil, but the Rangers keep sailing along. Methuen, 28-20.

Hall: Just because it’s the MVC, let’s set the over/under at 65 total points scored in this one. Haverhill, 35-30.

BISHOP FENWICK (3-0) at No. 21 CARDINAL SPELLMAN (3-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: The Crusaders do not have an answer for Rory Donovan. Spellman, 32-27.

Hall: Talk about adapting to your talent. It wasn’t too long ago the Crusaders’ leading receiver caught 106 passes. Now, they have a bull in the backfield by the name of Rufus Rushins, and they are unleashing him thoroughly. Fenwick, 28-17.

No. 1 MANSFIELD (3-0) at No. 23 ATTLEBORO (3-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: If the Blue Bombardiers can force turnovers the way they did last week against Franklin, the Hornets could be in for a real fight. But otherwise … Ding, dong, the curse is dead. Mansfield, 42-38.

Hall: Not sure if my brain can process the spectre of having a sixth straight week with a new No. 1. Mansfield, 20-13.

No. 12 DUXBURY (2-1) at HINGHAM (2-1), Friday 7 p.m. (At Scituate H.S.)

Barboza: This was supposed to be the Harbormen’s night to shine, with a new field, new attitude and all. But the karma just sides with the Dragons somehow. Duxbury, 13-10.

Hall: Every year we keep saying the same narrative: “The Dragons still have one more good run in them”. At some point, we’re all going to have to accept the fact that these guys just re-load every year. Still, this has always been a difficult matchup for the Dragons. Duxbury, 10-7.

CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (1-2) at No. 5 XAVERIAN (2-1), Saturday 2:15 p.m.

Barboza: Think the bounce-back factor is in play here, after the Hawks saw their No. 1 ranking go up in smokes at Barnstable. A.J. King will come in even greater focus in Xaverian’s attack with the loss of D.J. Sperzel. Xaverian, 34-21.

Hall: Even with the loss to D.J. Sperzel, the Hawks have more than enough in the tank to stay ahead of CM in this one. Xaverian, 24-10.

No. 25 WALPOLE (2-1) at WELLESLEY (1-2), Saturday 2:30 p.m.

Barboza: I think the Rebels’ defense is better suited to shutting down Wellesley’s offense, as opposed to Needham a few weeks ago. Walpole, 16-10.

Hall: Upset City, part 2. We saw what a team with spread packages like Needham can do to the Walpole defense, and the Rebels are going to have their work cut out for them trying to solve Wellesley quarterback John Fadule. Like Chris Sarni last year, Fadule is a gunslinger who is as unpredictable as he is creative. Good luck, gents. Wellesley, 31-28.

LAWRENCE ACADEMY (1-1) at MILTON ACADEMY (2-0), Saturday 3:30 p.m.

Barboza: Justin Yoon comes in clutch with the last-minute field goal. It’s formulaic but effective. Milton Academy, 23-20.

Hall: Good start to the season for Milton, but I like LA’s athletes on the perimeter a little bit more. LA, 20-7.

GOVERNOR’S ACADEMY (2-0) at ST. SEBASTIAN’S (1-1), Saturday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Akin to Nashoba, the streak ends this week. St. Seb’s, 14-10.

Hall: Arrows are looking mighty impressive after that commanding win over Roxbury Latin, but the Governors just continue to cruise along. Will they ever lose again? There is some voodoo going on up there in Byfield. Govs, 27-17.

GAME OF THE WEEK – HOLLISTON (4-0) at No. 20 WESTWOOD (2-1), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Wolverines head coach Ed Mantie really likes his linebacking corps, led by Scott McManus, this year. They’re the difference. Westwood, 31-27.

Hall: Zach Elkinson is averaging a touchdown for every 2.8 touches, and 21.3 yards every time he gets the ball. That’s just insane, I don’t care who the opponents have been. Holliston, 28-24.

Last Week’s Picks:
Barboza: 8-4 (31-16 overall)

Hall: 9-3 (31-16 overall)

Recap: Barnstable 15, No. 1 Xaverian 14

September, 28, 2013
9/28/13
12:58
AM ET


HYANNIS, Mass. – Trailing 14-12 to No. 1 Xaverian and facing a fourth-and-5 from the Hawks 15-yard line with less than two minutes to go, Chris Whidden had a choice: try to pick up the first down or trot out his place kicker for a 32-yard field goal try.

Barnstable place kicker Dereck Pacheco had already missed an extra point and a 28 yard attempt. And so the Red Raiders head coach called timeout and brought on his field goal unit.

Seconds later, the Red Raider faithful erupted as the 32-yard field goal split the uprights and proved to be the game winner in an emotional 15-14 comeback victory over No. 1 Xaverian, the fourth consecutive week that the top ranked team has been upset.

“Kicking to me, I learned from last year, is all about confidence,” said Pacheco. “You have to have confidence in yourself, just clear your mind.“

Barnstable quarterback Kristian Lucashensky had the team on his back in the fourth quarter, throwing for 90 of his 138 yards in the final period.

“This win has changed the morale of the team completely,” said Whidden. “Going back to BC High, once the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown our morale was down. We have seen a change in what this team is about and you can see that in the last seven and a half quarters.”

Xaverian (2-1) scored with 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter after A.J. King came down with a 33-yard pass from Jake Ferrell (4 of 9, 99 yards), setting up a 5-yard touchdown run from senior Shayne Kaminski, giving the Hawks a 14-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But it was all Hayden Murphy (13 rushes, 51 yards; 4 catches, 50 yards) and Lucashensky after that.

Barnstable answered with a 10-play 69-yard drive that was capped off with an athletic 15-yard touchdown catch from Derek Estes. Lucashensky fumbled on the two point conversion and the score remained 14-12 with 6:38 remaining.

“With Kristian, he’s so good with putting the ball in a spot where it going to be caught or incomplete,” said Whidden. “Estes went up and made a play.”

The Red Raiders defense rose to the occasion and forced the Hawks to punt, giving Barnstable the ball at their own 39 with 2:21 left to play.

Two plays later, Lucashensky hit senior Colby Blaze down the right sideline for a 39-yard gain down to the Xaverian 15-yard line. Barnstable picked up five yards before calling on Pacheco for the game winning field goal.

Meanwhile, Kaminski was a force all game, rushing for a game-high 135 yards on 20 carries. He drew first blood with 4:16 remaining in the second quarter when he was on the receiving end of a 54-yard screen pass.

The Hawks got a scare midway though the fourth quarter when Kaminski stayed down after a three-yard rush. Kaminski limped off the field under his own power but the following two plays resulted in fumbles and the drive ended with a punt.

The turning point: With 1:28 remaining in the second quarter and already up 7-0, the Hawks A.J. King fair caught a punt at his own 19-yard line. On the next play, Kaminski coughed up the football and the Red Raiders recovered at the 25-yard line.

On the next play, Lucashensky found Colby Blaze on a deep slant across the middle so give the Raiders some life heading into the half.

“It swung momentum going into halftime,” said Whidden. “Our halftime was full of life and the kids were excited.

While Xaverian had the only scoring in the third quarter, the Raiders defense had a jump in their step. On a punt midway through the third quarter, Junior Clyde Perry broke through the line and partially blocked a punt.

The defense forced two fumbles in the fourth quarter and while they didn’t recover, stalled out the Hawks offense. Xaverian only mustered up 26 yard off offense in the final quarter (266 in first three quarters), compared to 114 from the Red Raiders.

The Hawks were uncharacteristically sloppy all game. Xaverian had two turnovers and put the ball on the ground three times. They were also called for six penalties for 50 yards, including a big pass interference call on the opening drive and a huge personal foul on the Raiders first possession of the fourth quarter.

The final drive: With the opportunity to knock off the top team in the state for the second year in a row (Everett, 2012), Lucashensky took the field like it was any other drive.

When he stepped into the huddle trailing 14-12 on his own 39-yard line and 2:21 to play he calmly addressed his teammates.

“On the first play, I came to the huddle and said ‘listen, we got to win this game, got to win this game,” said Lucashensky. “They all looked me in the eye and shook their heads.”

Lucashensky called his own number on the first play, picking up two yards. On second and 8, he found Blaze who had his man beat for a 39 -yard gain, already in field goal range.

“We had run that earlier with Blaze and got him over the top, said Lucashensky. “So we knew if we needed a big play we’d come back to it. And we went over the top of the safety and I rolled out and hit him. He was wide open.”

Barnstable went conservative for the next three plays. Hayden Murphy rushed up the middle for two, an incomplete screen pass and Murphy to the left for three set up fourth and 5.

“We ran the toss because he likes to kick from the left hash,” said Whidden. “We ran the toss and if he (Murphy) broke he broke it if not were on the left hash for him to kick it.”

Pacheco split the uprights on the next play to polish off the perfect drive and improve Barnstable to 2-1 with New Bedford up next.

Perfect time for a bye: When Barnstable’s schedule was released this summer, Chris Whidden was unsure how a Week 2 bye week would effect his. As it turns out, that bye week seems to have saved the Red Raiders season.

The Raiders were dismantled by Dennis-Yarmouth, 37-9, in Week 1 and BC High returned the opening kickoff back for a touchdown in week three. Since then, Barnstable has been a different team.

“The bye week let us get back to square one to really break down what wasn’t working and why it wasn’t working,” said Whidden. “And we had film to prove it. That bye couldn’t have come at a better time.

Coming off two huge victories, teams will be gunning for Barnstable, starting next week at New Bedford. With Friday night’s win, the Raiders will almost certainly jump back into the Top 25 poll.

“It puts a target on our back just like we had one last year,” said Lucashensky. “Now its back, a big fat bull’s-eye.”

Barnstable 15, Xaverian 14

X 0 7 7 0 --14

B 0 6 0 9 --15

Second Quarter

X-Shayne Kaminski 54 pass from Jake Farrell (Matt Rogers kick) 4:16

B-Colby Blaze 25 pass from Lucashensky (kick fail) 1:17

Third Quarter

X-Kaminski 5 run (Rogers Kick) 0:10

Fourth Quarter

B-Derek Estes 15 pass from Lucashensky (run fail) 6:38

B-Dereck Pacheco 32 field goal 1:28

 

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