Boston High School: Derek Estes

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.

D2 South: Barnstable 27, Natick 13

November, 9, 2013
11/09/13
2:23
AM ET
HYANNIS, Mass. -- They came to see the best player in the state tonight, Barnstable head coach Chris Whidden proclaimed to his exuberant players and assistants in the post-game huddle.

And no, he wasn't talking about Troy Flutie, their Boston College-bound opponent from Natick who has captivated Massachusetts this fall with astronomical statistics from a style reminiscent of his Heisman-winning uncle.

"Everybody came here tonight to see the best player in the state," Whidden beamed. "And he's standing in the middle of this huddle!"

And that's when senior Hayden Murphy broke the huddle, the bow on top of an impressive 27-13 stifling of the Redhawks' high-powered aerial attack, to punch their ticket to next week's MIAA Division 2 South Finals.

On most nights the hard-charging Murphy excels in tandem with the compact and shifty Justus Chafee, getting 10 or 15 carries in a change-of-pace dynamic. Tonight, Murphy was saddled with a much bigger load, carrying 21 times for 158 yards and three touchdowns, and adding four catches for 36 yards. It's his sixth straight 100-yard game, dating back to the Red Raiders' Week 5 win over New Bedford, and his third straight game with at least three rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, roving in and out of the box, he recorded 10 tackles and a sack. He helped catalyze a secondary that held Flutie to the worst night of his season (15-of-31, 145 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT; 12 carries, 99 yards), and top target Alex Hilger (five catches, 63 yards, TD) in first gear for most of the night.

"Both sides of the ball, there is not one player in the state we'd trade for him," Whidden said of Murphy. "He gives us more than possibly anyone else could give us, no matter what position or what team they play for. That's what I told our team today. You guys all came here expecting to see the best player in the state, and you did. But I think it's No. 8 on our team [Murphy]."

In the final minute of the first half, Murphy kick started an abrupt turn of events that suddenly swung momentum in the Raiders' favor headed into the half. Facing second and four at the Redhawks 36, after two nice completions to Derek Estes (4 catches, 42 yards; 8 tackles, 1 INT), Murphy took an inside zone handoff and looked to be taken down behind the line of scrimmage; instead he stopped, lowered his shoulder, and let the momentum from right tackle Jake Palmer pin two Natick defensive linemen to the turf, springing loose for a 20-yard gain.

That set up first and goal at the 10, and after a false start pushed them back five, Murphy rumbled up the middle to knot the game at 6-6. Another inside zone, Murphy initially took this play wide, then cut up inside left tackle Owen Murray, splitting two linemen and shedding a shoestring tackle for the easy score.

Fifteen seconds later, senior linebacker Nate Yingling gave the Raiders their first lead of the game, picking off Flutie deep downfield and returning it down the sideline for a 57-yard score. Feeling pressure, Flutie tossed a high wobbler well behind a receiver sprinting downfield. Yingling sat underneath it for the easy pick, dragged receiver Mike Abbruzzese for several yards before shaking him, then cut inside a block from Henry O'Shaughnessy at the 20 yard line for the score.

"I guess the guy was trying to strip the ball from me and I kept running, I dunno," Yingling laughed when asked about the run back.

Out of the break, the Redhawks forced a three-and-out then scored quickly, moving 57 yards in four plays, capped with an 11-yard strike from Flutie to Hilger going over the middle. But a shanked punt late in the third gave Barnstable a starting drive at the Redhawks 33, and they quickly capitalized.

Three plays into the drive, quarterback Kristian Lucashensky (14 of 15, 113 yards) hit Murphy on a wheel route 20 yards downfield at the near pylon; the ball being slightly underthrown, Murphy reached over the back of his defender and scooped the ball to himself, getting wrestled down at the one. He plunged in on the next play for the 20-13 lead.

With less than four minutes to go in the game -- after a 12-play, seven-minute Raiders drive stalled -- Estes came up with his fifth pick of the season, chasing down a deep ball down the seam from across the field. Two plays later, Murphy applied the finishing touches with a 45-yard touchdown scamper up the left side, shaking two leg tackles and riding an Estes block the final 10 yards.

"We haven't faced a passing team like this, and a player like Troy Flutie," Yingling said. "And you know, we did a lot of pass stuff [this week]. I dunno, people have been saying we can't cover Flutie, but we have the best secondary in the state. We can handle any team, and we proved it tonight."

Yingling rises to the challenge
"You got your bell rung on that one, you feeling OK?" Yingling chirped to Hilger after getting hit hard over the middle by linebacker Chris Kennedy.

Later, when Hilger returned the favor, wrestling the 11-yard TD catch from Yingling's grip, the two were face to face on the turf and the former had something to rebut.

"How you like that now, tough guy?" Hilger screamed in his face.

Asked about the exchange, Yingling could only laugh: "Hey, scoreboard says it all."

"He said, 'You see that, 1-3?', and I was like 'You see my pick-six'?" he added.

In a way, this was a pretty unorthodox matchup. Considering their excellent conditioning; two superb coverage corners in Estes and Colby Blaze (INT, two passes deflected); and tendency to play either a Cover 1 or Cover 3 against spread offenses like Natick's; convention suggested that perhaps the Raiders would deploy one of those coverages and mark Hilger, the Redhawks' most dangerous threat, with Estes, their most airtight defensive back.

Instead, the Raiders went with something they haven't done all year, installing a Cover 2 this week, and occasionally dropping the outside corners Estes and Blaze off the line of scrimmage for a Cover 4 look. The duty of tracking Hilger fell unto Yingling, a first-year varsity senior who has returned to football after taking the year off last season. At times this year, Natick has preyed on linebacker matchups, exploiting them with crossing routes for big gains.

But with a similar build to the 6-foot-3, 175-pound Hilger -- surrendering an inch, but holding a 10-pound weight advantage -- and deceiving speed, Yingling was more than up for the task.

"They wanted me up there to jam him. That's what I was up there to do," Yingling said. "I used to play wide receiver and I'm good at blocking, so I'm good at getting in front of a man before he can get behind me, and put my hands on him. They wanted me to jam him, and he really didn't want anything of it. He wasn't getting off the jam too well, and it really helped to knock him off his route. He couldn't get deep, and our safeties could do their job."

Said Whidden of Yingling, "His work ethic, his coachability, and how much we asked him to do this week, it's not something that I'd ask of most kids. But I know he'd have the capacity to handle it, and he's proven us right."

Zig when they zag
The zone read concept has become a staple in many a system these last few seasons as more and more teams go to a spread offense. Barnstable is one of the few teams to run it successfully by packaging a screen on the backside of the play for a third option. More often than not, backpedaling a receiver off the line of scrimmage at the snap has taken defenders out of the box, or simply left them flat-footed trying to maintain their gap responsibility, clearing runways for Murphy and Chafee. They've been so successful with the first option, the inside handoff, that one almost wondered if that third option, the screen, was just window dressing (It's not, coaches insist).

Tonight, the Raiders tried something different and went the inverse. This time, they motioned a slot receiver into the box, walking him up to the outside leg of the tight end, then pulling the ball and hitting the screen at the opposite sideline. Out of the nearly dozen times they ran the play, it consistently worked for at least six yards or more, often bringing up a new set of downs.

"It's a matter of disguise," Murphy said. "Sometimes there are teams that pick up on our screens a little easier than we'd like to think. The guy motioning down, it's almost like a decoy."

Said Whidden, "We scout ourselves, and we don't want to be our same tendencies all the time, we've got to break our tendencies too every once in a while."

Sack City
The overarching theme for seemingly every opponent trying to contain Flutie has been consistent -- play wide, cage him up, don't let him get loose -- only to watch it unravel as Flutie indeed gets loose, in just about every direction.

While the same could be applied with Barnstable, they were able to drop Flutie for four sacks by mixing up the pressure, which included blitzing Murphy late from outside the box.

On the first sack, on the game-opening drive, O'Shaughnessy recovered from a cut block and picked up the sack on Flutie after he bumped into one of his own linemen trying to avoid pressure from Murphy, who squeezed inside the B-gap after lining up in press coverage on a slot receiver and releasing him to the middle.

That technique worked again on a Natick three-and-out drive in the third quarter. From the slot, Murphy twisted inside end Connor Walsh untouched, and with the running back looking the other way for blitz pickup Murphy had a free shot at Flutie, dropping him for a 14-yard loss.

The final sack of the night ended up knocking Flutie out of the game. After spinning out of the grip of O'Shaughnessy, Flutie scrambled to the sideline, where he was brought to the turf awkwardly by Palmer. Two plays later, Blaze got the third and final interception of the evening.

Also deserving credit for the pressure was end Dereck Pacheco, who was credited with two tackles, a half-sack and three hurries, consistently getting his hands around Flutie's face in the second half.

"We were bringing four-man pressure, but our goal was not to bring the same four-man pressure every time," Whidden said. "Sometimes we'd bring five, but never more than five. It's all about gap assignments, so if Dereck Pacheco was in his face, that means Owen Murray or Manny Dulak or Connor Walsh, or Butchie Perry, Chris Kennedy, were flushing him to Dereck or somebody else.

"The whole thing is about moving pass rush lanes. We're not necessarily trying to sack the quarterback, we're not letting him get away, and then all of a sudden that pocket continues to collapse and we're able to get pressure on him."

Nearing an all-time milestone
Last week, Flutie set the state's all-time passing yardage mark, surpassing former Barnstable great and current Penn State backup D.J. Crook by throwing for 359 yards in a D2 South First Round win over King Philip. Tonight, he needed just two touchdown passes to tie former Everett great Jonathan DiBiaso for the state's all-time mark at 103 (DiBiaso, ESPN Boston's 2011 Mr. Football, also holds the single-season mark at 44).

Flutie came up short, being held to one touchdown pass for the first time since a 14-10 win over Norwood in September 2012 (also the last time Natick was held to under 20 points). He'll get another shot next week when the Redhawks face Needham in a D2 South consolation game.

BARNSTABLE 27, NATICK 13

NAT 0 6 7 0 --- 13
BAR 0 13 7 7 --- 27


Second Quarter
N - Troy Flutie 14 run (kick failed) 9:47
B - Hayden Murphy 15 run (kick failed) :58
B - Nate Yingling 57 interception return (Dereck Pacheco kick) :15

Third Quarter
N - Alex Hilger 11 pass from Flutie (Hilger kick) 8:15
B - Murphy 1 run (Pacheco kick) 3:18

Fourth Quarter
B - Murphy 45 run (Pacheco kick) 3:47

D2 South: Barnstable 48, Marshfield 29

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
12:12
AM ET
HYANNIS, Mass. -– Blink and you might miss it.

That sums up the opening minutes of the Division 2 South matchup between Marshfield and Barnstable.

The Red Raiders scored two touchdowns in the first six plays from scrimmage, and never looked back, going on to knock off Marshfield 48-29.

Junior running back Justus Chaffee set the tone early, breaking out a 49-yard touchdown scamper on the fourth play of the game. Two plays later, senior Hayden Murphy picked off Rams quarterback Jack Masterson and returned it to the house to give the home squad a 14-0 lead less than three minutes in.

“Our starters performed well,” said Barnstable head coach Chris Whidden. “We saw this team before and we were pretty well-prepared and they executed.”

Marshfield had no answer for the Raiders duo of Chaffee and Murphy. The two combined for 339 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns. And they owe it all to their offensive line that had their way to the Marshfield front four.

“Our line dominated from the first snap,” said Murphy. “We were able to run the ball like we wanted to. I give all the credit to the line, they did a fantastic job.”

After turnovers by both teams, Masterson directed a nine-play, 85-yard drive midway through the second quarter and scored on a 10-yard scramble to make it a game again, but it was all Barnstable after that.

Hayden Murphy scored on touchdown runs of seven and one yard to give Barnstable a 28-7 lead going into the half.

Whatever adjustments that were made at the half didn’t work either as Clyde Perry picked off Masterson’s pass on the second play of the third quarter and returned it to the Rams 7-yard line, setting up Kristian Lucashensky’s seven yard scoring run.

“We got beat up on both sides of the ball plus the turnovers,” Rams coach Lou Silva said. “That’s not a good formula. You can’t do that in these types of games.”

Holding a 35-7 lead early in the third quarter, the Raiders run game took over, and more importantly kept the clock running. A 50-yard punt return from Derek Estes down to the Marshfield 1-yard line set up Murphy’s fourth touchdown of the game.

Marshfield needed a miracle and caught a glimmer of hope. The Rams special teams blocked two punts giving them the ball deep in Red Raider territory but were only able to capitalize on one drive, a 14-yard hookup between Frank Catamoso and Masterson.

That’s when Chaffee took it upon himself to crush all hopes of a comeback when he broke loose for a 49-yard scoring run. The shifty 5-foot-7 back ran into the pile and somehow came out on the other end looking like he was shot out of a canon.

The Murphy-Chaffee show: Murphy ran 196 yards on 20 carries. Chaffee added another 145 on 11 carries. Six touchdowns, an interception and a big third down sack.

Marshfield simply had no answer for the two seniors. The pistol offense that the Red Raiders run compliments both runners. With the windy conditions both teams had to tweak their game plans a bit. But Barnstable picked a good time to have their best run game of the year.

“It doesn’t happen if Chaffee isn’t as dynamic as he was,” Whidden said. “I cant over estimate the effect that Justus has. When Justus runs like he did today, now all of a sudden they have to key Justus just as much as they do Hayden.”

The Raiders offense is very balanced and will give defensive coordinators fits. Try to take away one tailback, the other will get you. Sell out against the run game, and Lucashensky will make you pay.

Which leads us to our next point...

Can we just fast-forward to next week? “Every time you win, your reward is a tougher challenge.”

Whidden’s words couldn’t be any more accurate. Next week, Troy Flutie and company come to town. Pass-happy Natick will make the trip to meet Derek Estes’ pass defense.

There is no easy matchup in this loaded Division 2 South bracket. The Raiders defense will be put to the test against this high-octane offense.

Estes is one of the top coverage cornerbacks in the state, and leads a stingy defense that doesn’t like seeing the ball thrown on them.

Murphy is looking forward to the challenge. “How do you prepare for Flutie? We’ll work on that tomorrow. I’m confident we can beat any team in the state.”

Whidden is just as confident. “If we put our best foot forward, we can play with anybody.”

No matter the outcome, the game will not disappoint.



No. 7 Barnstable 48, Marshfield 29
M 0 7 7 15 -- 29
B 14 14 13 7 -- 48


First Quarter
B - Justus Chaffee 49 run (kick fail), 9:24
B - Hayden Murphy 35 interception return (Derek Estes pass from Kristian Lucashensky), 8:34

Second Quarter
M - Jack Masterson 10 run (Aaron Skulky kick), 5:58
B - Murphy 7 run (kick failed), 4:04
B - Murphy 1 run (Mike Bilodeau pass from Lucashensky), 0:00

Third Quarter
B - Lucashensky 7 run (rush failed), 9:26
B - Murphy 1 run (Dereck Pacheco kick), 6:20
M - Masterson 6 run (Skulky kick), 2:13

Fourth Quarter
M - Frank Caranoso 14 pass from Masterson (Skulky kick), 5:15
B - Chaffee 49 run (Pacheco kick), 4:19
M - Jacob Maher 17 pass from Troy Rodrigues (Jeff Keans pass from Rodrigues), 0:06

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

October, 19, 2013
10/19/13
3:38
AM ET


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Football Watch: Week 4

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
5:03
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 4 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS*

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Did it all in the Redhawks’ 35-14 win over Wellesley, completing 20 of 30 passes for 236 yards and five touchdowns, and adding 170 rushing yards.

Brandon Gallagher, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Carried 20 times for 232 yards and three touchdowns in the Trojans’ 32-0 shutout of New Bedford.

Jack Galvin, Sr. WR, Lowell
Caught four passes for 39 yards and a score in the Red Raiders’ 32-6 win over Billerica.

Brendan Hill, Jr. TE/DE, Mansfield
Caught four passes for 31 yards in the Hornets’ 35-14 win over North Attleborough, but where he did most of his damage was on the defensive side, setting the edge and containing.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
Threw for 188 yards and three touchdowns, and added 40 rushing yards, in the Blue Devils’ 41-14 win over Shepherd Hill.

Dylan Oxsen, Sr. RB, Plymouth South
Ran for 191 yards and a touchdown, and added a 90-yard interception return – his second pick-six and three games – in the Panthers’ 21-14 win over cross-town rival Plymouth North.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Carried 12 times for 147 yards and two scores in the Rockets’ 41-12 rout of Newton North.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Completed 12 of 21 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the Pioneers’ wild 20-15 thriller over rival Fitchburg.

Johnathan Thomas, Sr. RB, St. John’s Prep
Carried 19 times for 96 yards in the Eagles’ loss to Everett. But even worse, he is reportedly undergoing season-ending knee surgery later this week after getting hurt in the second half of the game.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
In another easy rout, this one a 49-0 drubbing of Holyoke, Williams completed 9 of 12 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns.

Ju’an Williams, Sr. WR, Springfield Central
Caught two passes for 42 yards and score in the Golden Eagles’ 49-0 blanking of Holyoke.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 11 of 16 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the Hornets’ 35-14 win over North Attleborough.

FIVE ON THE RISE

Ryan Barabe, Jr. QB, Pope John Paul II
In the Lions’ 26-22 loss to Boston Cathedral, completed 18 of 25 passes for 279 yards and three scores and an interception. On the season, he is completing 68 percent of his passes for 776 yards and eight scores, which is among the state’s best.

Derek Estes, Sr. CB, Barnstable
Came up with two interceptions in the Red Raiders’ upset of then-No. 1 Xaverian last Friday, helping seal a 15-14 win at the end. He leads the Raiders with three interceptions through three games.

Ian Kessel, Soph. RB, Haverhill
Slowly establishing himself as one of the premier pass-catching tailbacks in Eastern Mass. Through four games he has 245 receiving yards and three touchdowns to go along with 331 rushing yards and five more scores.

Dylan Kierman, Sr. QB, Quabbin
Currently leads all passers in Central Mass. with 774 yards and nine touchdowns.

Brooks Tyrrell, Jr. RB, Marblehead
The Notre Dame lacrosse commit continues his torrid tear through the first half of the season, the latest a 27-carry, 181-yard, two-touchdown performance in a 35-7 win over rival Swampscott.

TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Johnathan Thomas, Sr., St. John’s Prep – 748 yards, 8 total TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 728 yards, 8 TD
Isaiah White, Sr., Beverly - 682 yards, 6 total TD
Brooks Tyrell, Jr., Marblehead – 634 yards, 7 total TD
Dylan Oxsen, Sr., Plymouth South – 609 yards, 10 total TD

Passing
Jordan Bolarinho, Sr., Billerica – 955 yards, 7 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 807 yards, 13 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 785 yards, 8 TD
Michael Whitsett, Jr., Chicopee Comp – 781 yards, 4 TD
Ryan Barabe, Jr., Pope John Paul II – 776 yards, 8 TD

Receiving
Cole Bernier, Jr., Old Colony – 339 yards, 3 TD
Mike Bombard, Sr., Chicopee Comp – 335 yards, 3 TD
Brian Daly, Sr., Marblehead – 328 yards, 7 TD
Jack Galvin, Sr., Lowell – 322 yards, 7 TD
Jeff Trainor, Soph., Billerica – 317 yards, 3 TD

Dual Threat**
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 807 passing yards, 269 rushing yards, 14 total TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 785 passing yards, 156 rushing yards, 10 total TD
Cody Williams, Sr., Springfield Central – 647 passing yards, 169 rushing yards, 10 total TD
Jermal Brevard Jackson, Jr., Boston Cathedral – 262 passing yards, 514 rushing yards, 6 total TD
Neil O’Connor, Sr., Leominster – 542 passing yards, 193 rushing yards, 12 total TD



*Not including teams who were idle last weekend.
**To qualify, quarterbacks must have rushing yards account for at least 15 percent of their total offensive production.


Leftover quick-hit thoughts from the weekend

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
12:38
PM ET
Some leftover quick-hit thoughts from last weekend's action of football:

1a. If St. John's Prep running back Johnathan Thomas -- who left the second half of Saturday's game against Everett with a knee injury -- is out for any extended period of time, the Eagles might be in trouble. Much of the offense funnels through Thomas, and with plays like this it's easy to see why. In my 10 years covering high school football in Massachusetts, I have no problem saying he is the best I've ever seen.

If there's a silver lining, it's that this could open things up for two promising juniors on the perimeter, receiver Owen Rocket and tight end Jake Burt. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Burt has a high ceiling of potential, even drawing comparisons to Prep legend Jon Loyte, and has been a matchup problem in the short to intermediate passing game thus far. Rocket is a smooth route-runner, able to weave in and out of traffic and exploit coverage holes.

You obviously cannot replace a special kid like Thomas, but perhaps this could make the Eagles more unpredictable.

1b. It now bears asking. If Thomas -- who seemed to be running away with the ESPN Boston Mr. Football award at his current clip -- is out for the considerable future, is the race for title of the state's best player wide open again? Lots of names to consider here, most notably Springfield Central quarterback Cody Williams, Natick quarterback Troy Flutie, Leominster quarterback Neil O'Connor, Plymouth South running back Dylan Oxsen, and Millis/Hopedale two-way lineman Jon Baker.

2. An historic year for Mansfield continues to get better, as they ascend to the No. 1 spot in our statewide poll for the first time in our four seasons of coverage. As impressive as the North Attleborough win was, the upset of Baltimore-area powerhouse Dunbar continues to strengthen with the passing weeks. As Dave Redding points out on Mansfield football's website, (www.mansfieldfootball.org) since losing to Mansfield on Sept. 6, the Poets have won three straight outscored their opposition 136-18.

3a. If you missed the thrilling conclusion to the Fitchburg-St. John's of Shrewsbury battle on Saturday afternoon, you missed one of the best endings to a high school football game in years. Fitchburg quarterback Darius Flowers hit Manny Payton for a 16-yard touchdown strike with 13 seconds to go, then tailback Julio Gonzalez ran in the two-point try to give the Red Raiders a 15-14 lead. The ensuing kickoff, a high-hopping squib, was then returned 65 yards to the house by Mike McGillicuddy for walk-off 20-15 Pioneers win.

I'm not sure Fitchburg has endured a special teams heartbreak like that since the 1994 Division 1 Super Bowl, when North Middlesex pulled off a Boise State-esque fake punt for the 50-yard game-winning touchdown run, a play forever known in Central Mass. folklore as simply the "Norman Special".

3b. If there's anything to take away from that game, besides the incredible gumption of McGillicuddy, it's that much like Barnstable in Division 2 South, Fitchburg is not a team you want to draw in the first round of Division 2 Central action. Their defensive front four is impressive, and they controlled the line of scrimmage against St. John's for much of the afternoon.

4. There's a lot of talk early in the ISL season about running backs and linebackers, but keep an eye on Belmont Hill junior quarterback Harry Kraft. He had a field day on Saturday in a 38-11 win over Groton, completing 17 of 27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns, and running in a fifth score.

5. A year ago, I mentioned the Cape & Islands area as an area of particular interest for under-the-radar talent, with a number of prospects earning Division 1 roster spots: Nantucket's Terrel Correia (UMass), Nauset's Derrick and Nathan Holmes (Rhode Island) and Dakota Girard (Brown), Mashpee's Jordan Keli'inui and Zak Orcutt (UMass), Dennis-Yarmouth's Joe Tyo (UMass) and Barnstable's Nick Peabody (Princeton), Andrew Ellis (UMass) and D.J. Crook (Penn State).

The Cape appears to be brewing again. Barnstable receiver/cornerback Derek Estes is one of the state's breakout stars of the first half of the season, making back-breaking plays on both sides of the ball in upsets of BC High and Xaverian. Two of his teammates, running back/safety Hayden Murphy and quarterback Kristian Lucashensky, deserve some praise for the way they've improved since the season-opening rout by D-Y.

Further down Route 6, keep an eye on two prospects from the lowest classification of MIAA football, Division 6. Defending D5 Super Bowl champ Upper Cape Tech is looking good with its flex offense, and at the forefront is Jon Dumont, who had 26 carries for 216 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday's win over Nantucket. At Pope John Paul II, they might have one of the most unheralded 2015 prospects in quarterback Ryan Barabe. Through four games the 6-foot-4, 175-pound Yarmouth resident is among the state's most efficient passers, completing 68 percent of his throws for 776 yards and eight touchdowns to just one interception. A good chunk of the Lions' plays involve option routes for their receivers, which to me demonstrates a lot of maturity when you consider Barabe's completion percentage.

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

 

Roundtable: Bigger things to come for Xaverian?

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
1:59
PM ET
1. SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYED A MAJOR FACTOR IN XAVERIAN'S 49-13 DRUBBING OF BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM, RETURNING TWO BLOCKED PUNTS FOR TOUCHDOWNSW, BUT A.J. KING (2 TDs) DIDN'T HAVE A BAD DAY EITHER. IS THIS XAVERIAN SQUAD CAPABLE OF ROUTINELY PUTTING UP BIG NUMBERS?

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: If this were 2012, or any other recent year for that matter, I would lean towards labeling that game an anomaly. Xaverian squads typically aren't known for blowing up the scoreboard, instead moving the chains rather steadily behind a conservative multiple offense and relying on change-of-pace backs to grind out the tough yardage. I've been in this for 10 years, and this year's Xaverian team feels like one of the more unpredictable squads that I can recall. And when I say that, I mean you just don't know that they're going to throw at you. Certainly, Jake Farrell brings about an escapeability intangible they typically haven't had with quarterbacks, and there is some promising sophomore talent.

By the way, whoever the special teams coach is at Xaverian, give that man a raise. If you think the B-R game was an aberration, ask the BB&N coaches how their scrimmage with the Hawks went.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: I know we all thought the Hawks’ defense would be ahead of the offense entering the season, but this looks like a much-improved group thus far. I like the one-two punch Shayne Kaminski and Noah Sorrento provide in the backfield. They have some legit targets in the passing game with King and D.J. Sperzel and Jake Farrell has looked great at quarterback. If the offensive line keeps creating holes and pass protecting the way they have in the first two weeks, I don’t foresee a slowdown.

John McGuirk, ESPN Boston correspondent: With the talent Xaverian has they should continue to put up decent numbers. They have four 'big' games left on the schedule in Barnstable, Brockton, BC High and St. John's Prep. All four of those programs are outstanding but all have issues on defense as well which should work in the Hawks' favor.

2. NASHOBA OWNS THE STATE'S LONGEST ACTIVE WIN STREAK (28 GAMES), BUT TWO TOUGH OPPONENTS LAY AHEAD IN WACHUSETT AND ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY. DO YOU SEE THE CHIEFTAINS MAKING IT TO 30 STRAIGHT?

Hall: Wachusett matches up evenly on paper with Nashoba, but watch out for St. John's. Andrew Smiley is heating up (380 passing yards the last six quarters), and the running game seems to be hitting a groove with St. Louis transplant Shane Combs taking over the feature role. The "blur" offense is a whirlwind to handle when all is going right, and you always have to watch where Davon Jones lines up. I see the Pioneers stopping Nashoba's streak at 29.

Barboza: I think it’ll end at No. 29. The Chieftains will get by Wachusett, but I think the Pioneers’ athletes, particularly on the perimeter, will prove too much to handle.

McGuirk: I see Nashoba reaching 30 straight wins. Wachusett is going through a down year, having already lost to St. Peter-Marian and Fitchburg. And what has been noted many times, St. John's biggest weakness the last couple of seasons has been its porous defense and inability to make tackles consistently. If you look past those next two games, the Chieftains will face a pair of unbeatens (Marlborough and Leominster). That is where the streak could possibly come to a close.

3. BETWEEN THE SUPERB STARTS FROM BROCKTON, TAUNTON, TEWKSBURY AND WESTFIELD, THE TRIPLE OPTION IS MAKING A COMEBACK. WHICH TEAM RUNS IT BEST?

Hall: It's tough to argue against Westfield's ridiculous numbers -- there are running backs that will go a whole season not putting up as many rushing yards as the Bombers have their first two games of the season. But it's hard to argue against Brockton's talent. Aaron LeClair and Jamal Williams get to the perimeter quick, and the Boxers can steamroll you inside with counters and dives. All four of these teams have a dynamic playmaker in the backfield -- LeClair, Tewksbury's Eddie Matovu, Westfield's Ben Geschwind and Taunton's Domingo Jenkins -- but I will give Brockton the edge here because of what they have in the trenches. Aaron Monteiro, the Boxers' prized prospect at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, is a road grader at left guard with a pretty high ceiling.

Barboza: As of right now, I don’t see how you can argue with Westfield. The Bombers are running roughshod over opponents behind senior fullback Ben Geschwind. After running for 348 yards and six touchdowns as a team during last week's 49-20 win over West Springfield, Westfield has scored 109 points in two games, with Geschwind averaging more than 150 yards per game.

Josh Perry, HockomockSports.com: I can’t say whether or not Taunton runs it better than other teams in the state, but I can say that the Tigers do make it look fun. With Gerald Cortijo and Steven Harrison giving star back Domingo Jenkins some help in the backfield, the Tigers have speedy and shifty runners. It’s almost enough to make you forget just how good the ground game would have been without Jamal Williams’ move to Brockton. Taunton’s ability to run the triple option will of course get a much tougher test this week against King Philip and its strong defense, but the Tigers are unique among the other Hockomock teams and it can be fun to watch.

McGuirk: The way Westfield is dominating the competition (109 points in two games), I would say the the triple option is working best for them. They have the right personnel to execute it and coach Bill Moore is very good at putting the right players in place to keep it rolling effectively, especially his tandem of Ben Geschwind and Jake Toomey, who are both averaging over 10 yards-per-carry.

4. TWO OF THE MERRIMACK VALLEY CONFERENCE'S BEST SQUADS, CENTRAL CATHOLIC AND LOWELL, SURRENDERED A COMBINED 73 POINTS AGAINST NON-LEAGUE TOP 10 OPPONENTS LAST WEEKEND. ARE WE HEADED FOR ANOTHER SEASON OF HIGH SCORES IN THE MVC?

Hall: Tough to tell, because Tewksbury has more than pulled its weight in the defensive end so far. If there's one team that can avoid track meets, it's the Redmen. Everyone else, good luck. We anointed the MVC "Death By 1,000 Shallow Crosses" a year ago, and with the amount of spread offense and no-huddle tempo deployed in this league, we could very well be in for another season of Wild West scores.

Barboza: I'd take my chances with the defensive units of Andover, Central Catholic, Lowell and Tewksbury against just about any offense in the state, but what comes into play in the MVC is the teams' offensive style of play. With so many teams in its ranks adopting the spread offense, the big numbers put up seemingly on a weekly basis are more a function of the pace of the game, with shortened drives as opposed to rushing-oriented, ball-control styles of play. But as long as MVC teams continue to live and die by the sword (or the spread), I think we'll continue to see some lopsided numbers.

Mike Abelson, ESPN Boston correspondent: Yes and no. Central and Lowell, when the blur is working as advertised, can drop basketball scores on lesser teams because of the athletic talent. That being said, through three weeks there are only two MVC teams averaging 30 or more points. Central is one, and the other, North Andover, hasn't won a game. The only two remaining undefeated teams, Tewksbury and Methuen, are averaging 27 and 18 points a game, respectively, and winning games without all the flash and dash of putting up buckets of points. Yes, the MVC will have it's share of high-scoring contests (I'll put the over/under for Central-Chelmsford at 90.5), but it won't consistently translate to W's.

5. AFTER A ROUGH FIRST WEEK, HAS BARNSTABLE FIGURED IT OUT? CAN THEY KNOCK OFF NO. 1 XAVERIAN?

Hall: I feel like this is a sneaky good matchup. Let's not forget Barnstable was our preseason No. 12 before getting shell-shocked by Dennis-Yarmouth in the opening weekend. There is talent, between versatile athlete Hayden Murphy, shutdown corner Derek Estes and elusive scatback Justus Chafee.

Defensively, Barnstable typically likes to stretch vertically and keep everything in front of them, which can be a bad matchup against spread teams like Dennis-Yarmouth. Last week against BC High, they looked like they cleaned up a lot of their mistakes. Xaverian's offense, while a bit more creative, has some similarities to BC High's. Going the other way, the Red Raiders use some funky misdirection in the run game to prevent linebackers from filling gaps. On their first touchdown against BC, for instance, a receiver backpedaled off the line of scrimmage, feigning a bubble screen, putting several defenders on their heels as Chafee came up the gut on a zone read.

That kind of stuff can keep even the best defenses on their toes. Expect some fireworks, and some dynamic playcalling, in this one.

Barboza: This is a yes-and-no proposition to me. I think the Raiders righted ship after an embarrassing loss to Cape rival Dennis-Yarmouth in Week 1, going on the road to beat another Catholic Conference foe in BC High. But I think Barnstable would need to play a near perfect game, while forcing the Hawks into some turnovers in order to make it four straight defeats of an ESPN Boston No. 1 squad. I'm not saying it will not be a close game, I just like Xaverian a little bit more.

Perry: In a preseason roundtable, I said that Barnstable was a team that was getting overlooked because of the players that it lost from last year. I’ll stick by that and say that the Raiders give Xaverian a run for their money. The No. 1 ranking has been more of an albatross than an honor this year, so I’ll say that Barnstable has a good chance of causing the Hawks problems.

McGuirk: Barnstable is good but Xaverian is playing with a lot of confidence, especially following the huge win over B-R last week. The Hawks should take care of the Red Raiders who gave up 37 points to D-Y in Week One but did bounce back nicely last week against BC High.

Abelson: In Hayden Murphy I trust. In the ESPN Boston poll curse I believe. Barnstable, 27-21.

6. THE HOCKOMOCK LEAGUE'S KELLY-REX DIVISION MIGHT BE THE STATE'S MOST UNPREDICTABLE RACE THIS FALL. AS LEAGUE PLAY OPENS UP THIS WEEK, PROJECT YOUR CHAMPION AND DARK HORSE.

Hall: Mansfield was the prohibitive favorite in most minds heading into the season, and so far they've done little to suggest otherwise. Consider that nearly three weeks out from their shocking upset of Dunbar (Md.), the Hornets are still without five starters. They're already a dynamic offense, between quarterback Kyle Wisnieski, 6-foot-5 flex tight end Brendan Hill, and space-carving tailback Miguel Villar-Perez. Hard to go against that.

For dark horses, I like Attleboro. I think it's understated how big their line is, particularly at defensive tackle, and there are plenty of weapons on offense between quarterback Tim Walsh, tight end Luke Morrison and receiver Brendan Massey. This program has long been a sleeping giant, and new coach Mike Strachan has re-awakened those sentiments.

Barboza: All along, I've penciled in Mansfield as the team to beat in the Kelley-Rex. I believe they had the most complete group of talent on either side of the ball, and also had the most upside. The scary part is that, due to injury, the Hornets might not have yet hit their apogee and will continue to strengthen as the season progresses.

Now, for the sleeper, I know we've talked up Attleboro up a lot in the early going -- to the point that I really think they're a threat in Division 1 South. Seeing that the Blue Bombardiers are for real in the first two weeks of the season, I'm going to go with Taunton. I don't think Chris Greding has gotten enough credit for the job he's done turning around the Tigers program in short order. Of course, an infusion of talent led by Domingo Jenkins helps, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Taunton knocks off one of the Hock's "Big Three" -- King Philip, Mansfield, North Attleborough -- at some point this season.

Perry: The favorite heading into the Hockomock League season is defending champions Mansfield and its new spread attack that takes advantage of its great weapons like senior quarterback Kyle Wisnieski and junior tight end Brendan Hill. Attleboro has gotten a lot of hype from media, me included, in the preseason as a sleeper in the Hock. A new coaching staff, a new field, and new schemes on both sides of the ball have made the Bombardiers a much more confident crew and better utilize the weapons that it has. The Bombardiers were only a few mental mistakes from beating Mansfield last season and Tim Walsh is on fire running the spread formation – watch out for Attleboro. Of course, watch out for KP, Franklin, and North Attleborough, too. It really is up for grabs

McGuirk: The Kelly-Rex Division is solid with four teams still unbeaten (Mansfield, Attleboro, North Attleboro and Taunton). When it is all said and done. I believe it will come down to Mansfield and North Attleborough for the title because of their high-octane offenses. Attleboro has to be considered the darkhorse here because of its stingy defense which could carry them through. It will be interesting to watch all four of these team beat up one another during the season and see who survives.

Recap: Barnstable 20, BC High 13

September, 21, 2013
9/21/13
12:11
AM ET
DORCHESTER, Mass. -- Barnstable senior running back Hayden Murphy ran for more than 100 yards, and quarterback Kristian Lucashensky threw two touchdown passes to lead the Red Raiders to a come-back 20-13 victory over the BC High Eagles on Friday night at James Cotter Field.

Barnstable fell behind by two touchdowns early in the second quarter, but bounced back to score 20 unanswered points for a much-needed victory.

“We showed some tremendous resiliency. I’m so proud of our kids,” Barnstable head coach Chris Whidden said.

BC High senior Ismail Asongwed returned the opening kickoff of the game 97 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead before there was even a single play from the line of scrimmage.

On the first play of the second quarter, BC High (1-2) extended its lead to 13-0 when senior Robert Harnais punched it in from a yard out. That score was set up by a 68-yard run by quarterback Sean Holleran late in the first quarter.

The Eagles were in complete control of the line of scrimmage and seemed to be in total control physically. However, the tides turned and Barnstable took over on the road.

“We had all the momentum. We were playing hard, but then we didn’t tackle. Some of it is on us, some of it is Barnstable,” BC High head coach Joe Gaff said.

Murphy cut the lead to 13-7 when he scored on a 43-yard touchdown run with 7:09 to play in the first half. It was the first offensive touchdown of the season for the Red Raiders.

Barnstable had a chance to score again with under a minute to play in the first half, but couldn’t convert on four attempts inside the Eagles 10-yard line.

BC High looked to add to its lead in the third quarter, but a holding penalty nullified a long Holleran run on what appeared to be a promising drive.

“It was the third straight game where a mistake cost us. We went from down on their 15 up six to deep in our own end and they got the ball back and went up,” said Gaff.

Barnstable got the ball back and didn’t waste much time in taking its first lead of the game, when Lucashensky threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Derek Estes.

Lucashensky and Estes connected on another score in the fourth quarter to give the Red Raiders a seven-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.

BC High had a chance to practice its two-minute drill, but after driving to the Barnstable 20, the Eagles could not finish the deal.

After a season opening loss to Dennis-Yarmouth, Barnstable bounced back to even its record at 1-1.

“For us, at this point in the season, getting a win was so important after how down we were two weeks ago,” said Whidden. “Now the kids believe we can beat anyone.”

Whidden credited the improvement from one game to the next by emphasizing the team’s belief in each other. Another big reason was the play of Murphy and Lucashensky. Both players drew praise from the opposition’s coach.

“Murphy had a great game,” Gaff said. “He’s a good running back, and of course their quarterback didn’t play in their first game.”

The road won’t get any easier for the Eagles as they next face Brockton after a bye week.

Notes: The Eagles recovered two Barnstable turnovers -- one interception and one fumble.
Communication is paramount to the defensive secondary.

For Barnstable cornerback Derek Estes and safety Hayden Murphy, it’s almost involuntary. It’s borne out of spending a lot of time together: watching film, playing ball, hanging out. When I caught up with the pair for this story, after a recent morning preseason practice, Estes and Murphy were hanging out watching the latest installment of the Jason Bourne saga.

“I look at Hayden and he can read off my decisions and pick me up when I need a cover over the top,” Estes said.

To which Murphy added, “I’m Derek’s last line of defense, not that he doesn’t hold it down because he’s pretty good at what he does, but he knows I’ve his back, too.”

It reflects a certain level of cohesion that’s found with Barnstable’s program since Chris Whidden, who’s also the Red Raiders lacrosse head coach, became head coach three years ago.

Last year, the Red Raiders fell painfully short of winning the Eastern Mass. Division 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, losing by a point to Everett, after snapping the Crimson Tide’s 28-game winning streak earlier in the year with an overtime victory.

Barnstable isn’t interested in being a flash in the pan, however. The impetus is to push the program forward.

“My point to the kids is that I have no intentions to rebuild,” Whidden said. “That wouldn’t be fair to the seniors. We need to feel like we’re taking the best shot every year.”

So, with that, the Red Raiders have added a couple noteworthy opponents early on, playing up in Division against Catholic Conference power and fellow preseason Top 25 squads BC High and Xaverian. They’re hoping to set a tone for the season that will carry over to their penultimate Old Colony League rivalry game against Bridgewater-Raynham – an annual slugfest.

“Even though we’re listed in Division 2 now, we want people to think about us in that tier of being a Division 1 team,” Estes said.

BARNSTABLE AT A GLANCE
Coach: Chris Whidden (Third year, 18-6)
2012: 11-1, lost in Division 1A Super Bowl.
Key Returnees: Hayden Murphy, Sr. Ath./FS, 6-2, 200 lbs.; Derek Estes, Sr. CB/WR; Billy Grimmer, Sr. OG, 6-0, 260 lbs.; Dereck Pacheco, Sr. DE, 6-3, 225 lbs.; Justus Chaffee, Sr. RB/CB; Kristian Lucashensky, Sr. QB; Colby Blaze, Sr. WR/CB.
Strengths: Skill positions and secondary.
Weakness: Experience at linebacker.


Outlook: So what will the Red Raiders’ offense look like Week 1? It’s a question that’s worth asking and also one that could evolve over time. Gone is Nick Peabody. However, Whidden is high on senior Kristian Lucashensky, who studied under Peabody last year and saw mop-up duty. But Murphy also presents an intriguing backfield option. Having already played “quarterback” in Barnstable’s Wildcat scheme in previous years, don’t be surprised if the Red Raiders set up some kind of rotation under center, including Murphy. The key will be versatility on offense, and that will be enabled by running back Justus Chaffee, who should see an increased number of carries.

On defense, Barstable is built from the back out. Along with Murphy and Estes, Whidden is keen on senior corner Colby Blaze, who lost most of last season due to a collarbone injury and is among the top students in Barnstable’s senior class. Drew Lambert will also insert at strong safety. The focus is on the linebacking corps, which was among the best in the state last season. The Red Raiders are looking to fill some shoes, but Whidden is encouraged in the early going by middle linebacker Chris Kennedy, who saw action primarily at offensive guard last season. Adding to that theme, Whidden expects five players to start or make significant contributions on both sides of the ball.

Northeast 7v7: St. Paul (Conn.) takes South title

July, 22, 2013
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EASTON, Mass. -- It's been an eventful offseason in the recruiting department for St. Paul Catholic (Conn.) quarterback Logan Marchi, who saw his childhood dream come true late last month with a verbal commitment to UConn.

Winning? Not so much. Since appearing the CIAC Class MM playoffs in 2009, the Falcons have won just six games in three years. If they're to get back to their winning ways, they're going to need another big season out of Marchi, a 6-foot-1 gunslinger with plenty of zip out of his unorthodox three-quarter arm slot.

Could today's events at Oliver Ames High, site of the Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 South Regional Tournament, be the start? Marchi led the Falcons through a forest of quality competition, knocking off Massachusetts heavyweight Mansfield in the finals, 35-29, to become the first team from Connecticut to capture a regional title in tournament history.

St. Paul and Mansfield qualified for July 30's New England Championship, at Bishop Fenwick High in Peabody.

"It feels good," said Marchi, a Winsted, Conn., resident, who also played safety today on defense. "The past three seasons have been losing for us. We've been young, we've had freshmen starting on the varsity. Coming out here, seeing smiles on faces, seeing everybody happy winning is good. It's a fun experience."

After going unbeaten through a pool of Framingham, Braintree, Whitman-Hanson and Middleborough, the Falcons took out Dighton-Rehoboth and East Bridgewater to advance to the Final Four. There, St. Paul matched up with Cardinal Spellman, led by one of the Bay State's top targets in 6-foot-6 tight end Rory Donovan, before advancing to the final against Mansfield.

"For his height he runs good routes," Marchi said of Donovan, who currently holds offers from UMass and UNH. "He's fast, he's quick, he's got good feet -- I like that. I tried playing some press man on him, but he blew right by me. He's got good hands, he's a good kid. I like him."

Marchi did a good job most of the afternoon spreading the ball around to his targets -- junior Eli Parks, junior Brendan Carroll, senior Reid Morin and his brother, sophomore Austin -- and in the finals against the Hornets, Marchi impressed the crowd on hand with his throws both short and long.

Utilizing crossing patterns over the middle, Marchi threaded some lasers through the middle for quick first downs. Their most successful maneuver involved switching vertical routes deep down the right sideline; with the Mansfield safety often locked along the hash marks, that left inside slot receiver Austin Morin open for several terrific over-the-shoulder grabs at the pylons.

Marchi, pleased with the results, is optimistic about the potential momentum today's action carrying into the season.

"We're excited, we're ready to compete," he said. "We're ready to show our offense to people, we're ready to show we have a better defense, and we want to win some games."

Flair for the Dramatic: Mansfield, Sunday's runner-up, advanced to the final with a little bit of karma on its side perhaps.

The Hornets were spurred on the road to the championship game by a couple of last-ditch passing attempts. After winning an early-round game on a Hail Mary, Mansfield won its semi-final matchup with Catholic Memorial via a full-field heave from quarterback Kyle Wisnieski to Kyle Hurley with no time remaining. Hurley, who was all over the field for the Hornets, working a complement of short and intermediate routes, grabbed a hold of the tipped ball in the end zone to earn the come-from-behind victory over CM.

For Mansfield, a Division 2 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl participant in 2012, it's about carrying last season's momentum into a new campaign.

"We have a lot of juniors from last year returning this year, so it's a pretty tight family," Hurley said. "We just came in here trying to compete. We knew there were a lot of good teams coming in. We thought we could hold our own, obviously making it to the championship game and played a great team."

Sunday was a fine showcase for Mansfield's aerial attack, which figures to feature more spread looks in the upcoming season to maximize the strengths of its personnel. And, although the Hornets were without two of their top targets -- Brendan Hill (AAU basketball Nationals) and Mike Hershman (rehabbing injury) -- they still showed plenty of sting behind Brendan Keady and Hurley.

"We're able to make some connections with Kyle [Wisnieski] throwing to a couple different receivers," Hurley said. "I feel like there are things we can get out of it, we can communicate and try to make improvements -- it's July, it's early obviously. It's just great to get out here and compete."

Donovan gets his share: One of the most-anticipated individual matchups of the day went down early in the afternoon in Pool G, where Springfield Central's Ju'uan Williams manned up the 6-foot-6 Donovan in a battle between two players who could potentially see themselves on ESPN Boston's Preseason All-State Team next month.

The 5-foot-8 Williams, who currently holds an offer from Division 2 American International College, gave up 10 inches and nearly 25 pounds to Donovan. He mostly played eight to 10 yards off the line of scrimmage against Donovan, but he showed off his athleticism early, crashing to the pylon on a fade and out-leaping Donovan to break up a would-be touchdown. On plays that Williams marked Donovan, the tight end was targeted three times, with two catches and a score.

"He's a good player and he's really aggressive. He's physical," Donovan said of Williams. "He's fast, he's quick, he knows what he's doing ou there, absolutely. He's not a scrub."

In addition to UMass and UNH offers, Donovan has also heard from Temple, James Madison, Towson, UConn and Maryland.

Albany offers Cody Williams: Central's biggest star, quarterback Cody Williams, was not available for today's tournament. He was on a visit to the University of Albany, where he received his third scholarship offer from the Division 1 FCS ranks to go along with Monmouth (N.J.) and Central Connecticut State.

With Cody out, two of his cousins -- sophomore Aaron, and the aforementioned Ju'uan -- saw time under center. Ju'uan filled in for Cody in two games last season, and was quite impressive, most significantly throwing for two touchdowns and running in the game-winning score in a highly-anticipated October showdown with rival Longmeadow. Today Ju'uan aired it out, with two deep completions down the right sideline to senior Malik Johnson.

Blitz for Bletzer: One of the most intriguing commitments of Steve Addazio's historic first recruiting class at Boston College is Catholic Memorial athlete Kevin Bletzer, who saw time at nearly every position in the back seven last year as one of the team's leading tacklers. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, the Medfield resident will likely fit at outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Don Brown's scheme, which prioritizes speed and versatility. Bletzer also captains the Knights' hockey and lacrosse teams, which are traditionally among the state's best.

And in turn, it's likely that Bletzer will stay closer to the line of scrimmage on defense this year for the Knights.

"I've kinda always loved to play linebacker," Bletzer said. "They had me at safety the last three years, but they put me up in the box, so I've had a little taste for linebacker in my past years. The only difference is, I'm going to be stuck there [now], and have to deal with a lot more lineman. But I look forward to it."

Ball Hawks: Remember earlier this month, when we mused that suggestions of Barnstable's demise, after graduating one of its best senior classes in school history, may have been exaggerated?

Look, there's a reason the Red Raiders dropped futile Durfee from their schedule and added Catholic Conference juggernauts BC High and Xaverian, one year after spending seven weeks as the state's No. 1 team and taking Everett to the brink in the Division 1A Super Bowl. Under head coach Chris Whidden, Barnstable has been among the state's best in pass coverage -- and we saw that again today.

The Raiders didn't survive pool play, going 2-2 in a pool that included Nauset and BB&N, but suffice to say their safety play was among the day's most impressive performances. In the final two games, senior Derek Estes came up with seven interceptions, including four against Silver Lake. In the Silver Lake battle, senior Micah Gregory made one of the day's most impressive athletic plays, breaking on a ball at the opposite sideline from the far hash marks and making a one-handed snatch of a would-be first down.

Walloping Whalers: Nantucket might have been the only team in the country last season with bookend tackles tipping the scales at 180 pounds, but a Division 1-bound tight end measuring 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds (ESPN Boston All-Stater Terrel Correia). But it looks like the Whalers will have some more meat in the trenches this fall.

Juniors Mykal Ludford (6-4, 305) and Matt Correia (6-3, 250, younger brother of Terrel) were out running routes today with the Whalers' skill, and a third lineman Taylor Gulley (6-3, 275) should give them further bulk. That should help out senior linebacker Jon Holdgate, who is expected to shoulder a big load.

Roundtable: Big statements, bigger production

October, 4, 2012
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1. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST STATEMENT YOU GOT OUT OF BARNSTABLE'S UPSET OF EVERETT?

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: Aside from the defense, which was phenomenal by all accounts, the manner in which the Red Raiders were able to pull off the upset was impressive, meaning that the offense was firing on all cylinders for most of the game. In other words, Barnstable can win ugly. When you hear about the offense and all the things the Red Raiders can do on offense, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the fundamentals. They can do all the things that constitute a potentially successful playoff team in that they can run the ball when called upon, get the back stop when required and they don’t turn the ball over. When you have one of the top quarterbacks in the state like Nick Peabody, that’s all you need to win. And, if Hayden Murphy runs the ball as he can and the defense, led by Andrew Ellis, is on, Barnstable is difficult to beat, no matter the conditions.

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: For me, more than anything, it was a throwback statement. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much Division 1-caliber talent you've stockpiled, how heavy your line is, or how many of your skill players run a 4.5. All that matters is who puts themselves in the best position to win -- period. Barnstable demonstrated that to a T on Friday night.

Of course, this Red Raiders team isn't an underdog. They came into the game at No. 3 in our statewide poll, and I think the general consensus was that this would be a one-score type of affair. Nick Peabody is in a quarterbacking class of his own through the first month of the season, Dylan Morris is beginning to enter Matt Costello territory in terms of production, and the Raiders' linebacking corps is one of the two or three best in the state.

Barnstable coach Chris Whidden dialed up a great defensive gameplan in the pouring rain, playing outside contain on the Crimson Tide's gifted receivers, and getting great push in the trenches with a deceivingly athletic front four that fired quickly off the ball. These guys were not as big, but they certainly were fast, and above all else they hit with a level of abandon replicated by very few teams in the state.

At the end of the day, it was a pleasant reminder that things haven't gotten soft in the game of football. At the end of the day, the overarching theme remains -- if you come out complacent, someone's going to knock you around.

Adam Kurkjian, ESPN Boston correspondent: Year after year, while Everett always seems to have its share of explosive skill players, the foundation of its success is consistent and dominant line play on both sides of the ball.

The biggest statement Barnstable made Friday night was that it can go toe-to-toe with Everett's front and get the better of the exchange. That is rare, and it speaks to the level of offseason commitment the Red Raiders have made the past few seasons. While Barnstable may have the reputation as a finesse team because of the amount of times it puts the ball in the air, it looks like the Red Raiders shattered that notion last week.

Bruce Lerch, ESPN Boston correspondent: Defense, defense, defense. Staring at Everett's offensive line with 300-pounders across the board is daunting for any opposition but the Raiders didn't seem intimidated at all. In fact, they set the tone and managed to stuff the Tide twice on fourth-down tries from the one-yard line.

All 11 starters, plus the others that rotate in made plays. Jason Frieh and the defensive line held their own Everett's blockers, linebackers Brian Hardy, Andrew Ellis, Terrence Mudie and Robbie Stuart made tackles all over the field. Safeties Ryan Litchman and Kevin Hardy were tremendous in support against the run and corners Tedaro France and Derek Estes won their matchups with Everett's speed merchants at the receiver positions.

John Botelho, Editor-in-Chief, South Shore Sports Journal: Nick Peabody and the offense have been well publicized -- and deservedly so -- all season. Going into the Everett game, they had scored an astounding 145 points in three games. But the biggest statement made while snapping Everett's 28-game win streak was that the Red Raiders' defense is just as good as their powerful offense. Division 1A should be real fun to watch come December.

Everett and Barnstable Round II is already a Super Bowl many people are excitedly calling for, but neither has an easy path to get there. Everett is likely headed for a first-round playoff game with Lincoln-Sudbury, and Barnstable has to worry about beating Bridgewater-Raynham during the regular season just to reach the playoffs.

2. NAME YOUR FIVE BEST WIDE RECEIVERS IN THE STATE

Barboza:
1. Brian Dunlap, Natick – Might not be No. 1 on any other list, but come his senior season, he's going to be right there on the top of all the volume stats list.

2. Jalen Felix, Everett – Seeing, in person, the catch he made during last year’s BC High game at Memorial Stadium is something I’ll likely never forget. It’s the same feeling I had watching Randy Moss make impossible catches.

3. Jakarrie Washington, Everett – One of the best route runners around since those Asprilla and Costello kids were the go-to targets in Everett.

4. Dylan Morris, Barnstable – Hard to argue with Morris’ production thus far this season with his eight touchdown catches.

5. Will Heikkinen, Andover – Spies tell me Xaverian had Heikkinen blanketed with double coverage throughout most of last week’s game. That’s the ultimate compliment paid to a wideout.

Hall:
1. Dylan Morris, Barnstable - You'll be hard-pressed to duplicate his five-catch, 207-yard performance in Week 2, and right now he's on track for 20 touchdown receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving. Bar none, best wideout in the state right now. And to think, some have mused he may be a better baseball player.

2. Jakarrie Washington, Everett - You could rotate this spot with Jalen Felix, who had an explosive performance against Springfield Central, but right now you've got to with Washington based on game-breaking ability. Against Leominster and St. John's Prep, he turned the game on its heels seemingly on a dime with one back-breaking catch or run.

3. Brian Dunlap, Natick - A versatile route-runner, he's got crunch-time knack (see his game-winning catch against Norwood with 10 seconds to go) and makes the most of his touches (17.25 yards per catch, 6 TD).

4. David Harrison, Weymouth - Has seven receiving touchdowns, and in the last two games running a pistol offense at quarterback, has thrown for six. He's just plain productive.

5. Sam Blake, East Longmeadow - Doesn't get a lot of touches in the Spartans' system, but in terms of athleticism I've heard some pretty crazy stories. In his last two games, he has 232 receiving yards and four touchdowns on just seven catches.

Kurkjian:
Tough to say for me because most of the games I have been to have featured mainly run-oriented teams.

That said, looking around the state, Lincoln Collins of BC High needs to be mentioned for his size and improved speed.

Jakarrie Washington of Everett may be the fastest receiver out there right now.

Speaking of guys that can motor, Andover's Cam Farnham has been pure lightning all season as well.

As far as pure production goes, there aren't many who do more on a week-to-week basis than Natick's Brian Dunlap.

If anyone can outdo Dunlap in that department, though, how about Shawsheen receiver Devonn Pratt? One of the top wrestlers in the state, Pratt has 11 touchdown receptions already, including five in a ridiculous, 15-catch, 268-yard performance against Cambridge two weeks ago.

Lerch:
1. Dylan Morris, Barnstable - Seems to have a tremendous mind meld going on with quarterback Nick Peabody. Has eight TD receptions on the season, including two clutch catches in the 13-7, double OT win over Everett.

2. Jalen Felix/Jakarrie Washington, Everett - I'm cheating a little by putting both in, but it's hard to argue against the fact that these speedsters are two of the biggest gamebreakers in Massachusetts.

3. Bryan Vieira, Thayer Academy - Eight receptions for 200 yards and a TD in the opener (along with an interception return for a score) and six more catches for 179 yards and three TDs in week two. The top receiver in the ISL.

4. Brian Dunlap, Natick - Just a sophomore, Dunlap continues to team up with QB Troy Flutie to put up big numbers week after week. I may be underrating him because of his age, but all signs point toward Dunlap someday taking over at the top of this list. Maybe sooner rather than later.

5. David Harrison/Tyler O'Brien, Weymouth - It's a cheat day for me in the roundtable as I'm going with a duo once again. The Wildcats receivers have combined to catch 13 TD passes and O'Brien seems to be Harrison's favored target when he switches under center as Weymouth's quarterback.

Botelho:
1. Dylan Morris, Barnstable: This is sort of a chicken and egg thing. Is Nick Peabody such a good quarterback because he has Morris to throw to, or is Morris the beneficiary of a standout QB. I think the answer is Peabody is a tremendous QB and Morris an elite receiver, and the results have indicated that so far.

2. Lincoln Collins, BC High: Collins might not have the gaudy stats some his peers do (he's caught just one TD this year) but he's a D-1 scholarship athlete going to Villanova for a reason. The Eagles have been the victims of bad luck and bad timing this season, dealing with some of the toughest teams in this state - and New Jersey - while figuring out how to replace injured stars like Brendan Craven and Luke Catarius.

3. Brian Dunlap, Natick - Like Morris, Dunlap has a premier QB throwing him the ball. He's pulled in 6 TD from Troy Flutie, and is one of the biggest reasons Natick is scoring more than 30 points per game.

4. Dondre James, Whitman-Hanson - James single-handedly changes game plans of opposing teams, often drawing more than one defender on passing plays. He's spread out defenses all season, allowing QB Tom Sapienza to throw 8 TD already. James' speed and athleticism are clear with one looks at the Panthers on offense, but what he contributes away from the ball might be even more impressive. James has sprung more than one ball carrier this year with a big block.

5. Rory Donovan, Cardinal Spellman - The Cardinals aren't matching their regular season success from the last two years, but Donovan is among the toughest receivers for defenses to match-up with. At 6-5 and with an impressive vertical, not many defenders can go up and get a jump ball against him. He's averaging a touchdown a game right now and could get better as Spellman's line matures this season.

3. WHO IS THE BEST QUARTERBACK FROM A SMALL SCHOOL?

Barboza: Right now, I’m looking at Hopkinton’s Hank Rudden. The Hillers have been off and running in the Tri-Valley League, averaging more than 34 points per game through four weeks. Whether the Hillers can keep it going into the meat of their TVL schedule is another thing, but the 6-foot-1 senior is a dependable pocket presence.

Hall: Hard to argue with the production of Northbridge's Matt Phelan. Head coach Ken LaChapelle (who won his 300th career game last weekend) is famously inclined towards the pass -- and a passing pioneer for this state, really -- but through the first four games of the 2012 Phelan has been arguably better on his feet (41 carries, 448 yards, 12 TD) than through the air (42 of 50, 514 yards, 2 TD). LaChapelle has joked that he would like to once coach a game where he doesn't call a running play, but he tends to yield some freelancing to his quarterbacks when he feels they're up for it. And understand, for LaChapelle to loosen the reigns, you have to be a special player.

Kurkjian: Let's go into the Boston City South Division where Latin Academy junior Kyle Dance is putting together a fantastic season through four games.

To this point, Dance has had a hand in 13 touchdowns (nine passing, four rushing). You want to know how many touchdowns the Dragons have as a team? Fourteen. In other words, Dance is doing it all for this team, and it will be exciting to see how the rest of his season and career develops.

Lerch: Since taking over in week two, Shawsheen's Mike O'Hearn has produced eye-popping numbers and ranks fourth in the state with 11 touchdown passes, including a six-TD performance against Cambridge. With the 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior at the helm, the Rams have put up 98 points in their last two games.

Botelho: Assuming "small" school means any outside of Div 1, 1A, 2 or 2A, the best small school QB might be Dan Eckler at Stoughton. They're a run-first offense with tons of weapons, but he's been the point man for all of their success this year.

Hanover's Ryan Bennett and Middleborough's Troy Rossi both have big arms and ideal QB size and have been fun to watch early on.

Abington's Brandon Cawley has all of the tools to run the offense for the Green Wave. He's tall, has a cannon of an arm and can tuck it and run if need be. Andrew Benson also comes to mind in the South Shore League. After sliding over from RB to QB when the Vikings didn't have an obvious heir apparent to Tim O'Brien, Benson has handled the transition well. He's very athletic and gives EB a similar look on offense they had a year ago.

4. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE CATHOLIC CONFERENCE?

Barboza: (Disclaimer: None of this argument has to do with St. John’s Prep right now.) Honestly, I’m not trying to make excuses here, and this has happened a couple of times during the last couple seasons, but it’s not as though the teams are playing easy schedules. On the other hand though, I think the rest of the state has caught up with the parochials a little bit. Some inside the Catholic Conference used to scoff at the idea of a Hockomock team (North Attleborough anybody?) hanging with one of those teams. Use this weekend’s Xaverian vs. Duxbury matchup as another proof positive. I think the Hawks will find out that last year’s win by the Dragons at the Hawk Bowl was no fluke. And, while most of the state still cannot match the numbers the Catholics have on their sidelines, there’s plenty of talent to be had.

Hall: With St. John's Prep, nothing. With the rest of the conference (a combined 4-12 heading into this weekend's games), where do you start?

Expectations weren't high on Malden Catholic or Catholic Memorial coming into the season, but the way BC High and Xaverian (preseason Nos. 2 and 3, respectively) have stumbled out of the gates is concerning. Then again, they've endured brutal schedules, and few teams in Massachusetts would come out of September with better than their 1-3 records. Still, the way in which they've lost is not convincing, between BC High getting dominated from scrimmage by North Attleborough and Xaverian laying eggs against Brockton and Andover. Bottom line, BC High and Xaverian so far haven't lived up to the preseason hype.

Something tells me they'll turn it around. BC High will be getting All-State linebacker Luke Catarius (ankle) back this month, and quarterback Brendan Craven (knee) sometime soon, and you can't say enough how much that could change things quickly. Xaverian finally showed signs of life in the second half of the Andover upset, and Mike Brennan has been bringing steady production to what has been an otherwise stale offense.

How quickly does Xaverian turn it around? Jury's out, because the rest of the Hawks' 2012 schedule, in order, goes like this: Duxbury, Everett, Bridgewater-Raynham, St. John's (Shrewsbury), BC High, Catholic Memorial, St. John's Prep. Talk about skating uphill.

Kurkjian: Well, there's not much wrong with St. John's Prep right now, as they've looked outstanding in their three wins and only have one loss to Everett in a game many observers thought could have gone the other way with a few breaks.

As for the rest? BC High has been decimated by injuries, but the Eagles are starting to heal up and it would not be a total shock to see them make a run at the league title once everyone is back.

Xaverian does not have nearly the amount of team speed it usually does and has not looked physical at all on the lines.

Catholic Memorial has, as expected, struggled on offense, and you simply don't improve when graduation takes away as much talent as it did for the Knights.

Malden Catholic is this year what it has been nearly every year, which is the fifth-best team in the league.

Lerch: The coaches won't make excuses but we can. Injuries have absolutely decimated BC High while graduation hit both Xaverian and Catholic Memorial pretty hard. Not to mention that these teams all play among the toughest schedules in the state. That said, St. John's Prep is still a top-three team in Massachusetts and don't think for a second that the aforementioned trio won't put it together by the time league play rolls around. Anyone who counts these teams out when we're not even halfway through the season is making a big mistake.

Botelho: BC High and Xaverian has certainly underachieved, but their schedules have been absolutely brutal. BC is also dealing with a whole mess load of injuries. That said, what looked like the best league in the state before the season needs a turnaround in the second half to avoid an overall disappointing year. If things continue like they are, St. John's Prep will coast to a league title behind Jonathan Thomas and Alex Moore. The Prep, in my mind, is probably the favorite to win the Div. 1 Super Bowl right now (I still love Brockton, but missing Austin Roberts is going to hurt them in a big way).

5. THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF SHOOTOUTS IN THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF ISL PLAY. WHICH IS THE BEST OFFENSE?

Barboza: I think this was supposed to be Thayer’s year to shine behind wide receiver Aaron Gilmer and the Tigers haven’t disappointed, putting up 76 points in their two games. But they still have nothing to show for it, losing two close barn-burners against Governor’s and Roxbury Latin. But it’s hard to ignore the defending ISL champions at Governor’s. We’ve extolled about Tate Jozokos’ two-sport excellence for a couple years now, but running back Eli Morrissey has been a true revelation in the early going. Gov’s should face a test this weekend against BB&N, but with 103 points scored in two games, it’s hard to pick against anything short of a repeat performance of 2011.

Hall: If what Duxbury's been doing the last couple of years doesn't tell you enough about the value of lacrosse skill in football, then Governor's senior quarterback Tate Jozokos will. The UNC lacrosse commit led a renaissance last fall, leading the Governors to the ISL championship, and is off to a quality start this season. He is as a true a dual-threat quarterback as you will find in Massachusetts.

Running back Eli Morrissey has been just as productive (5 TDs), and is arguably one of the best backs in the ISL -- not the biggest, but definitely one of the most complete, and a tough runner. Overall, the Governors have averaged 51.5 points per game in their first two contest. Hard to argue with a number like that.

Kurkjian: Tough to say with such a small sample size, but it's hard to go against what Governor's Academy has accomplished in the first two weeks. With 103 points in two games, the Governors are simply running past, over, around and through everyone in their way.

We will see whether or not that continues this weekend as they travel to Cambridge to face an always-tough BB&N squad.

Lerch: When in doubt, I always say go with the team led by the lacrosse guy. Governor's is stacked with talent on offense with quarterback/dynamo/North Carolina lacrosse commit Tate Jozokos leading the charge. Along with standout running back Elijah Morrissey, the duo has combined to score nine rushing TDs in the first two games. Until some team finds a way to slow these two guys down, the Red Dogs will keep piling on the points.

Recap: No. 3 Barnstable 13, No. 1 Everett 7 (2 OT)

September, 29, 2012
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EVERETT, Mass. -- Mother Nature can be a fickle woman at times, and her temper tantrum last night brought enough rain and miserable weather conditions to completely alter a football team's gameplan.

Fortunately for Barnstable, they already had the tools in place to make the necessary adjustments. Namely, the Raiders had a defense capable of shouldering the load until its potent offense could strike for a big play.

Quarterback Nick Peabody found wideout Dylan Morris twice for touchdown passes and the defense stopped top-ranked Everett twice at the one-yard line to take a 13-7 victory over the Crimson Tide in double overtime at Everett Memorial Stadium Friday night.

Changing the field position game led to Everett's (3-1) first score as Jakarrie Washington came up with a big interception on Barnstable's (4-0) second drive. That helped pin the Raiders deep in their own territory and two possessions later, the Crimson Tide took advantage of the short field for s 32-yard march that ended on a two-yard touchdown run by Jalen Felix.

The defenses played to a stalemate from there until the start of the fourth quarter when Peabody hit Morris with a pretty throw that found the senior wide open for a 37-yard score.

"We were able to tag Dylan on a post corner," explained Peabody. "(Everett) have tremendous athletes so it really would have been tough for Dylan to just burn right by the guy. We tagged him on the post corner, he was able to get his guys hips turned and I had great protection up front and was able to put it out there and he made a great catch."

Added Morris, "The offensive line gave Nick plenty of time to throw the ball and Nick gave me a great throw. I just had to run under it, catch it and I got into the end zone."

Everett had a chance to win it in regulation, moving from its own 39 down to the Raiders one with under seven minutes remaining, but Barnstable's defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Terrence Mudie.

Neither team threatened the rest of the way and the game went into overtime, where the Raiders defense came up with another critical stop as Derek Estes came up to stop Everett fullback Joey White at the goal line on fourth down.

"The defense was just tremendous," praised Peabody. "It was a really great effort. We knew that they had it in them. The offense in the first half, we really weren't getting the job done or moving the ball but it was a great confidence boost to know that we could still be in the game, even as poorly as we were playing in the first half. That was huge."

The Raiders had their own chance to win it on their OT possession, but a 23-yard field goal attempt sailed wide of the uprights. Undeterred, Barnstable came right back and Peabody hit Morris again, this time for an eight-yard score, on the third play of the second OT.

The Raiders missed on a conversion pass attempt, but the defense had one more stop in them. Lineman Jake Palmer cam up with a tackle for a two-yard loss on second down, then safety Kevin Hardy intercepted a Gilly DeSouza pass in the end zone to close out the win.

"Every series we stopped them our defense was gaining more and more confidence," said Barnstable coach Chris Whidden. "They believed all along that we could beat them. We knew we could play with them and it was just a matter of time. We knew our offense was going to get something, it was just a matter of time. The first three games our offense was doing everything they could, they were putting up all the points even though we didn't make a mistake on the defensive end. We proved that it's a total team here."

NOT QUITE WHAT ANYONE EXPECTED
For a team used to scoring in bunches -- Barnstable averaged 40 points per game in its first three victories -- a trip to Everett would undoubtedly bring that average down a bit.

Weather conditions aside, the Raiders were going to go with whatever the Tide's defense gave them, so they tried to come out throwing. And they struggled, as Peabody missed on his first 11 throws and Barnstable finished the first half with just 20 yards of offense.

Rather than keep beating their heads against the proverbial brick wall, the Raiders adjusted and started using tailback Hayden Murphy as a workhorse. After being held to minus-4 yards on six first-half carries, the offensive line started winning the battle in the trenches and giving the junior room to run as Murphy collected 53 yards on his first six carries of the second half.

"(The rain) negates their speed a bit on the outside but it also negates our passing game and we've always said that we're going to take what you give us and we're going to beat you with that," explained Whidden. "They started with a 4-3 look with seven in the box so we tried throwing it at first but it was just difficult with the conditions. so we adjusted to what we could do."

Those adjustments eventually helped open things up for Peabody to throw for 96 yards and two scores over the final 22 minutes.

"I think the biggest thing was getting our running game going. Our linemen were able to block tremendously up front. Once we got the run going, I think they got a little over zealous up front and that opened it up for a couple passes."

UNLUCKY 29
The Raiders snapped Everett's 28-game win streak by frustrating the Tide in spots where they usually excel. Namely, punching the ball in from the one-yard line, something Barnstable stopped Everett from doing twice.

If Everett is going to have a chance at redemption, it will have to come in the Div. 1A Super Bowl, providing both teams manage to win their respective league titles and a semifinal playoff game.

After the game, Everett coach John DiBiaso was asked to reflect back on his squad's three-year run of perfection, but the veteran coach knows this year's team is going to have to carve its own identity before the season is over.

"It was a lot of hard work. It takes a lot to get 28 in a row and that's what I told them all year," DiBiaso said. "I preached to them, 'A lot of kids put in a lot of blood sweat and tears into those 28 games and you have something to uphold.' But this is a team in itself. They have to make their own memories and history and get their own accomplishments."

"They can't rest on what Manny Asprilla or Vondell Langston did," he continued. "They have to make their own accomplishments. We have to gather the troops, circle the wagons, we have to come out against Cambridge, which is a league game, and then Xaverian and BC High. It doesn't get any easier. Win our league and get to the playoffs. Thats our goal."

BARNSTABLE (4-0) 0 0 0 7 6 - 13
EVERETT (3-1) 7 0 0 0 0 - 7

EV - Jalen Felix 2 run (Gilly DeSouza kick)
BA - Dylan Morris 37 pass from Nick Peabody (Terrence Mudie kick)
BA - Morris 8 pass from Peabody (pass failed)

Recap: No. 4 Barnstable 55, D-Y 14

September, 15, 2012
9/15/12
12:54
AM ET
Nick PeabodyEric Adler for ESPNBoston.comNick Peabody accounted for 415 yards of offense and four touchdowns as Barnstable hung 55 points on its opponent for the second straight week.
HYANNIS, Mass. -- Heading into tonight's installment, the previous three contests between border rivals Dennis-Yarmouth and Barnstable had been decided by a total of five points, with D-Y taking the last two in some memorable finishes.

Tonight's installment of what has become Cape Cod's fiercest non-Thanksgiving football rivalry, before a capacity crowd of several thousand at Barnstable High, was memorable for completely different reasons.

The 2012 version of this rivalry will be remembered for the clinic that Barnstable quarterback Nick Peabody put on, throwing for 350 yards and four touchdowns, with 65 more yards on the ground, in a 55-14 thrashing of the Dolphins that improves the No. 4 Red Raiders to 2-0. Middle linebacker Andrew Ellis, the leader of the Raiders' aggressive defensive front, offered up beams of relief as he looked up at the scoreboard.

"We finally did what we were supposed to do, man," he beamed. "We come out here every year like we should beat the snot out of these guys, but something happens, they get rolling, we can't stop them. But this year we finally did what we needed to do."

Said senior center Tom Grimmer, "It feels pretty good. The past two years, I've walked off the field with tears in my face. It just feels good tonight to finally get this before I get out of high school, out from under my skin. The monkey's off our backs now, finally."

Peabody has watched this game from the bench the previous three seasons as backup to record-setter D.J. Crook, but tonight he looked like he's been a four-year starter, hucking balls over the deep middle seemingly on a line and hitting his receivers intuitively in stride. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior finished the night 15-of-18 passing to go with the 350 yards.

[+] EnlargeBarnstable celebrates
Eric Adler for ESPNBoston.comBarnstable's offensive line, led by Tom Grimmer (79), paved the way to 500-plus yards of offense.
"We punted once, [but] want to put it in every time we get the ball," said Peabody, who has totaled 10 touchdowns (eight passing) in the first eight quarters of the Raiders' 2012 season. "There was a lot of good, we still have some stuff to work on for sure, and we'll be working this week."

A number of factors have led the Red Raiders' dominant start to 2012 -- they've outscored the opposition 110-20 through the first eight quarters of the season -- but the most visible one, at least tonight, was the connection with senior wideout Dylan Morris. The 6-foot-2 speedster hauled in five passes for 207 yards and the first two of Peabody's four scoring strikes.

As D-Y (0-1) attempted to stack the box, Peabody went to Morris in space for some favorable results. Their first scoring strike happened after Derek Estes came up with a goal-line pick to give the Raiders the ball at their own two. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Peabody found Morris on a skinny post well behind the safety, for a 98-yard touchdown that made it 14-0 with 1:04 to go in the first quarter.

The Dolphins went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, and Peabody went back to his familiar target again on the first play of the Raiders' next drive. This time, it was a fly route down the left sideline, where Morris easily hauled in the pass against single-coverage then hip-shook a high arm tackle to march 51 yards to paydirt and a 21-0 advantage.

"He's a field general," Barnstable head coach Chris Whidden said. "He makes sure we're in the right position and right place, and he'll let the offensive coordinator know 'Hey, I'm seeing this', and we trust him enough to put him in a position...and he's got so much trust in all his other weapons.

"With Hayden [Murphy] at running back, and Dylan and Tedaro [France] and James [Burke], there's a bunch of guys you've got to worry about and defend, and if you defend one, somebody else is open. And Nick's got that confidence in all his teammates."

Peabody threw two more TDs, one to James Burke on another skinnny post before the end of the first half, then a 20-yard fade to Manny Perry at the back pylon to begin the fourth quarter.

"They came out and they were kind of stacking the box, bringing some pressure, and they didn't have a high safety over the top," Peabody said. "So we kind of thought if we could isolate Dylan on the outside he could beat the corner. And he did that a couple times for the big play."

In the zone: Coming into this matchup, some mused that the key matchup might have come in the trenches, where Barnstable center Tom Grimmer was likely to square up with D-Y defensive tackle Joe Tyo. But considering the offensive numbers they put up tonight (513 yards from scrimmage), and the way they consistently moved the ball downfield, this was more the function of a unit rather than one singular act.

Though the centerpiece is nice. At 6-foot and 255 pounds, Grimmer displays a unique combination of leg power and low center of gravity to maintain leverage against bigger opponents, such as Tyo tonight. A three-year starter under center, Grimmer has had a reputation as a ferocious competitor in the weight room.

As for the line itself, the way the Raiders set up the run in Whidden's run-and-shoot scheme requires surgical zone blocking. It's a philosophy that has been ingrained in their heads since freshman year, after becoming accustomed to man-to-man concepts in the town's youth program.

"It's tough to get used to right away," Grimmer said. "But we've been doing it a while, and all we do is that zone blocking scheme. We've gotten used to it. It adds to our unity a little bit, becuase there isn't any chance to shine individually. A zone blocking scheme is designed to work together. When it works right, and everybody's getting off their blocks, it feels good."

Peabody had high praises for his line after the game.

"It's a great group, you really couldn't ask for any better of a group," he said. "They work hard. Those guys lift a ton of weight, they work really hard in the offseason, so it's not the [biggest] line but they're low to the ground and very strong. They have great technique. I have all the time in the world back there, they open up big holes. They're great."

Defense drops the boom: The secondary was exemplary tonight, led by Estes, and Whidden deferred to the expertise of one of his secondary coaches -- none other than former Oakland Raider and Falmouth High great Willie Ford -- for that aspect (can't hurt, right?).

When you ask the No. 1 team in the state, Everett, what they think of Barnstable, they will tell you the Raiders were one of the hardest-hitting teams they faced all season, if not the toughest. More than Kevin Hardy's ball-hawking skills at free safety, this hard-hitting mentality is explicated in the front seven behind guys like Ellis and Bryan Hardy.

The Raiders switched off between three- and four-lineman fronts, with Ryan Litchman strafing in and out of the box as a "Rover". When Ellis read a run, he sniffed it out quick, and he hit the hole with authority. If you watched his play in last year's overtime epic against Bridgewater-Raynham, you know this is a familiar routine with the 5-foot-10, 230-pounder.

But give credit to the interior, where seniors D.J. Goncalves, Jason Freih and John Eldridge used their long reaches to get leverage on their opponents and free up gaps for the linebackers to shoot.

"We expect that out of Jason Freih," Whidden said. "He's a returning all-league kid, and we know what we're going to get out of them."

Said Ellis, "The D-line was just taking out the holes. They just get in there and do what needs to be done, and they make our job easy."

NO. 4 BARNSTABLE 55, DENNIS-YARMOUTH 14

BA 14 20 7 14 --- 55
DY 0 6 8 0 --- 14


First Quarter
B - Hayden Murphy 5 run (Terrence Mudie kick) 7:41
B - Dylan Morris 98 pass from Nick Peabody (Mudie kick) 1:07

Second Quarter
B - Morris 51 pass from Peabody (Mudie kick) 9:56
D - Spencer McCaffrey 80 pass from Jacob Pawlina (rush failed) 5:10
B - James Burke 45 pass from Peabody (kick failed) 3:47
B - Murphy 17 run (Mudie kick) 1:43

Third Quarter
D - Cory DeSimone 3 run (Pawlina run) 5:39
B - Tedaro France 7 run (Mudie kick) 4:27

Fourth Quarter
B - Manny Perry 20 pass from Peabody (Mudie kick) 10:12
B - Kristian Lucashensky 2 run (Mudie kick) 2:35

D1 South Baseball: Taunton 3, Barnstable 0

June, 10, 2012
6/10/12
11:58
PM ET
TauntonBrendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comTaunton made a philosophical change following a beating from Barnstable at the end of the regular season. The Tigers turned around and beat the Red Raiders to advance to the D1 South Final.
BROCKTON, Mass. – The first time Old Colony League rivals Taunton and Barnstable squared off, in late April, Barnstable hurler Willie Nastasi struck out a career-high 16 batters, and later ignited some controversy nationally with his 155-pitch count.

The second time the two battled, on the last weekend of the season and with the outright OCL title on the line, Barnstable wasted the Tigers, 14-2.

Meeting No. 3, in the semifinals of the Division 1 South tournament this afternoon at Campanelli Stadium was...well, to call it a charm wouldn’t be just cliché. It’d be unfitting.

The UConn-bound Nastasi was brilliant again on the hill for the Red Raiders, fanning eight and scattering just two hits in 7.1 innings of work. But the Tigers deployed some of the same small-ball principles that won them two games in this tournament already, and got stellar defense behind starter Danny Pedro, to squeeze out a 3-0 win and advance to tomorrow’s South final.

Eighth-seeded Taunton (18-5) will face No. 15 seed Xaverian (15-8) in tomorrow’s final at Braintree High, at 4 p.m. Barnstable ended its season 16-5.

“This, it can’t any better for the team,” Taunton head coach Jeff Sylvia said. “We played with confidence. They know us, we know them. I think they woke us up the last time we played them [the 14-2 loss], and we’ve changed that philosophy since that game a little bit. The pitching was great, defense was great, and we got timely hitting today, which was huge.”

Part of that philosophical change has been a more aggressive approach in the batter’s box and the basepath. In the Tigers’ first-round win over Braintree, for instance, Zach Grady took two bags on a bunt, beating the tag at third base with a head-first slide; he was brought home the next at bat with a Joe Walsh blast to center, making it 2-0 and shifting momentum in their favor.

This afternoon, Walsh was pivotal again. The Old Colony League Co-MVP took a Nastasi pitch off his back on the first pitch, to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. On the very next pitch, Matt Maclean hit a shot to deep center, and Walsh sprinted all the way from first to home.

“I was pissed I didn’t get to hit, that’s the first time I’ve gotten hit all season,” Walsh laughed. “But we had faith in our four-hitter [Maclean], and I knew he was going to come through.”

Walsh gave the Tigers insurance in the eighth. First, Travis Ritchie slapped a slow roller into the infield grass, but beat out the potential 3-1 putout at first to score Grady. Two at bats later, Walsh planted a first-pitch slider into right field to score Ritchie, before getting thrown out at second on a 9-6, trying to take an extra base, for the second out of the inning but a 3-0 lead.

“I had struck out on it at home [last month, on that pitch],” Walsh said. “I knew I had that pitch. I knew whatever he was throwing me on that first pitch, I was ready to hit.”

Said Sylvia, “Joey Walsh has been doing that for us all year. He’s been an RBI machine. He’s big. He was the right guy on at the right time.”

Pedro Productive: Sylvia said he was looking for six innings out of Pedro today. The junior righty ended up giving them seven, scattering five hits while walking one and fanning two.

Pedro’s best inning might have been the second, when the Raiders loaded the bases up on a walk to Derek Estes. After Estes walked, Pedro jammed Dennis Beynor with a 1-1 fastball that trickled to shortstop Chris Roumbakis, who easily made the inning-ending 6-4 play.

Walsh said Pedro’s fastball was moving today “better than I’ve ever seen it before.”

“Danny Pedro pitched outstanding today,” Sylvia said. “He kept the ball down, pitched ahead of hitters. We wanted six, he gave us seven, and then Matt Nunes came in and did the job...Getting out of that [second inning] gave us a lot of confidence.”

Rumblin’ Roumbakis: When Roumbakis fumbled an Everett Walsh grounder to his left in the top of the fourth, allowing the No. 6 hitter to reach safely, it was his first error in three playoff games. And that might have been the only time in these playoffs he didn’t field the ball cleanly; the senior shortstop, known for his fancy back-handed snags, has been phenomenal throughout the postseason.

“I think he got eaten up a bit with the top spin on the left hand, but we’ll take it,” Sylvia laughed. “He makes every other play.”

Sylvia continued, “He’s been my starting shortstop since his sophomore year, and he’s done really well. Again, our strength is defense. We put it together today, and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Nastasi goes out on top: In two starts this year against Taunton, Nastasi has struck out 24 batters and allowed five hits in 15 innings. Mixing in his off-speed with his high-80’s fastball cleanly, it was an effort that he won’t soon hang his head.

“He did exactly what we needed him to do,” Barnstable head coach Joe DeMartino said. “Our pitchers, especially Willie and Keegan [Dellacona], they go out and they give us a chance to win. We just didn’t get it done today.”

Dellacona came in to relieve Nastasi in the eighth, and DeMartino said afterwards, “I knew he could handle 30 or 40 pitches, and come back tomorrow if we made it.”

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