Boston High School: Drew Ortone

Recap: No. 6 SJS 26, No. 8 Longmeadow 21

September, 17, 2011
LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- Make it three consecutive years that Longmeadow has gone into a game against St. John’s of Shrewsbury with hopes of defeating the Pioneers, and three consecutive years it has come up empty.

The latest was a 26-21 triumph by the Pioneers on Friday night.

The No. 8 Lancers (1-1) thought they had it this season as No. 6 St. John’s (2-0) graduated two of the top players in the state in Richard Rodgers and Dan Light following last season, and it barely survived a close game a week ago against Holy Name.

Leading by one-point with less than three minutes to play, the Lancers thought they had finally cornered the Pioneers. Then, when they forced St. John's to punt on fourth down with just over two minutes to go, Longmeadow was sure of it.

But, for a third-straight season, they were mistaken.

The Pioneers forced Longmeadow into a three-and-out and, after a short punt, regained possession just shy of midfield with 1:45 left on the clock and 55-yards from victory.

St. John’s quarterback Connor Kurtz took it from there. Kurtz dropped back in the pocket, avoided the oncoming rush, and heaved the ball deep into double-coverage down the middle of the field. Somehow, his target, Drew Ortone, was perfectly positioned between the defenders, made an acrobatic catch and sprinted the rest of the way to pay dirt, putting the Pioneers ahead to stay.

The ensuing two-point conversion attempt failed, but the touchdown proved to be all St. John’s needed.

Longmeadow quarterback Frankie Elder’s last-ditch effort ended in an interception, and sealed the game for the Pioneers.

While it was a lot closer this time than in the last two seasons, in the end, Longmeadow couldn’t quite conjure up enough magic for one last comeback.

“It makes us feel good, even though we lost,” Lancer tailback T.J. Norris said. “It’s 26-21 and we just proved that [against] one of the top teams in [Central] Mass, we hung with them, and we could’ve beat them.”

Norris carried his team in the loss, powering through defenders for 206 rushing yards on 25 carries and finding the endzone twice.

St. John’s head coach John Andreoli gave Norris credit for his performance, calling him, “a tough kid and an impressive football player.”

“He always keeps his feet moving and his yards after contact are always big yards,” Andreoli said. “A couple times here we had five or six guys [lined up in the box] and he was just moving the pile. He’s impressive and he’s a tough football player.”

On the Pioneer side, running back Sean Wilson ran for 110 yards on 13 carries including a touchdown, Efrain Montalvo caught three balls for 45 yards, and John Giacoppe hooked up with Kurtz four times for two touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

Kurtz finished the game 9-of-22 for 162 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He also scrambled out of the pocket 11 times for 31 yards.

“He’s gotten better every day since we started, and that’s what you look for,” Andreoli said. “The way he was throwing the ball [tonight] with confidence, getting on top of it, he was throwing a nice ball. And then that last throw [to Ortone] was just a gutsy throw. He had a good matchup, [Ortone] right down the seam, and he was able to get the ball right in the right spot.”

Despite Longmeadow’s heroic comeback efforts throughout the game, a close loss like this one is tough to swallow.

“If we had stuck it out and won the game we would have just showed everybody that we’re back on top and that this is a totally different team [than in past seasons],” an emotional Norris said. “It was a good game this year, and I think we still sent the memo, it’s just that we fell a little short at the end.

“It would’ve been great if we had won this game.”

No. 9 SJS has potential hidden gem in Borchelt

September, 1, 2011
Ethan Borchelt remembers his first experience in pads at this summer’s Hog Works Offensive Line Camp, at Holy Name High.

It did not go well.

“At the end of the first day, when we lined up to the board drill, I had no idea what I was gonna (do),” said the 6-foot-6, 250-pounder from Sterling, who just came out for St. John’s (Shrewsbury) his senior year having never played organized football before. “(I thought) ‘I’m just going to try and hit him, push him down.’ He was a smaller kid than me, so I just thought he was automatically going to win. But he definitely got lower than me and pushed me over the first time.

“Something just clicked in my head the rest of that camp to kind of step it up and do better and learn a lot. I definitely was able to stand out among the camp. I got an MVP award, I think. ... I think it was ‘Most Improved.’”

His coach, John Andreoli, said his performance didn’t go unnoticed.

“He went to a couple of camps this summer and I got a lot of phone calls from a lot of the coaches that were there and just said, he’s really impressive," Andreoli said. "He had never put pads on before and he went to two or three camps and just got better. And we’ve seen him progress this week, so. He’s just getting more confidence every day.”

Borchelt -- who comes from a strong rowing background, and competes in that sport and basketball for the Pioneers -- will line up at starting left tackle next to captain Ryan Anger, who hails from the Burncoat section of Worcester. The two have been in the same homeroom since freshman year.

“He works really hard in basketball and crew. You can see that,” said Anger, a 6-1, 270-pound guard who is one of just two returning starters on the offensive line. “He’s a really good friend. I tried to get him out last year but he couldn’t. I love playing next to him, though.

“We have stuff that we call it to help each other. Sometimes I’ll have him yell it just to make sure he knows the plays and stuff. And he’s picked up really quick.”

Borchelt comes from good rowing stock. His father, Fred, earned a silver medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games in eight-oared crew while also competing in the 1976 Games in Montreal and was part of the 1980 team that didn’t compete in the Moscow Games. His mother, Beth, has competed in the World Championships and his older sister, Sarah, is a senior now at the University of Virginia, which won the national championship her sophomore year.

That experience in such a high-endurance sport helped Borchelt lead the offensive linemen in the team’s 880-yard conditioning test, clocking in at 3:19.

“It’s definitely a different sport. It’s a lot like track, just the racing feeling,” said Borchelt, who helped the Pioneers finish fifth in New England at the Head of the Charles. “It’s not fun like basketball with the crowds like that. It’s just the adrenaline of racing. It’s definitely a lot of fun.”

Although Borchelt says he will probably row crew in college and has narrowed his choices down to Northeastern, Brown and the University of Washington, he is having fun with what may be his only year of football.

“We were kind of kidding with him this week,” Andreoli said after last Saturday’s scrimmage against Brockton. “We had a ball batted down on a screen pass and it came and he caught it and he kind of handed it off like a pick-and-roll to our tailback. He took off down the sideline and we said that’s a pretty good play. We might want to put that in.”

Not bad for someone who lost his first board drill.


Coach: John Andreoli (8th year, 66-18)
Last year’s record: 12-1, CMass Division 1A Super Bowl champions
Key returnees: Ryan Anger Sr., LG/DT, 6-1, 270; Brendan Melanson, Sr., C/MLB, 6-2, 240; Efrain Montalvo, Sr., WR, 5-8, 175; Drew Ortone, WR, 6-1, 185, Sr.; Barron Dandridge, OLB, 6-1, 180, Jr.
Strengths: Offensive line, running back depth.
Weaknesses: Inexperience at quarterback and on defense, loss of Richard Rodgers and Dan Light.
Outlook: With Dandridge the only returning starter on defense and just four starters back on offense, this is a young and inexperienced group. But there is no shortage of talent despite the loss of Rodgers - now out at the University of California on a full boat - an athletic freak who played wide receiver, tight end, defensive end and kicker. Light, a bruising runner from the quarterback position and also a defensive end, will also be hard to replace. Anger and Melanson are joined by Borchelt and juniors Brendan O’Neill (6-0, 250) and Mike Marfo (6-3, 280) on the offensive line, which will open holes for a more run-oriented attack to take advantage of the team’s depth at the running back position and help inexperienced quarterbacks. Montalvo is a speedy option who lines up in the slot of the Pioneers’ one-back, four-wide set and can catch and make moves in the open field or take off on a jet sweep. The two-quarterback derby is still up in the air between junior Connor Kurtz (5-10, 175) and sophomore Andrew Smiley (6-1, 170). The defense is a work in progress; Andreoli said watching film of his players in a scrimmage against Brockton, “Like watching birds hatching on National Geographic.” The opener against a physical Holy Name team will also include non-league tests against Catholic Conference powers Catholic Memorial, St. John’s Prep and Xaverian

Vassar breaks through as No. 4 SJS rolls

October, 1, 2010

FITCHBURG, Mass. -- Dan Light was the catalyst once again for No. 4 St. John's of Shrewsbury, racking up 279 yards of offense and five touchdowns, but quietly having a solid night himself was the tailback in the Pioneers' no-huddle, shotgun spread offense, senior John Vassar.

The Pioneers rolled easily 56-12 Friday night at Crocker Field to improve to 4-0. But it was the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Vassar who gave St. John's the initial cushion, plunging from 4 yards out for a 14-0 lead, then ripping off a nifty 31-yard scamper for a 21-0 lead just 10 minutes into the first quarter. Coming around the right sideline on an off-tackle run, Vassar made two quick jukes back to the inside, made a quick jump-cut on a Fitchburg defender at the 15, stiff-armed another at the 10, then glided into the end zone.

St. John's led 42-6 at the half over Fitchburg, the No. 3-ranked team in Central Mass.

When asked about the second touchdown scamper, Vassar deferred credit to the offensive line.

"That was the line, they opened up the hole pretty well so I could make a good move on the linebackers," said Vassar, who finished with 70 yards on eight carries. "One on one with [Fitchburg safety Quinton] Perkins, I mean he plays hard. But I guess, I don't know, I think I got pretty lucky on that one. I went low, he went low, and I was surprised I kept my balance."

With the win, the Pioneers are now averaging 42.2 points per game and have outscored the opposition 169-27. Just what kind of statement does this make for the rest of Central Mass.? Head coach John Andreoli wouldn't go there -- "Next week [against Shrewsbury] is all we're caring about right now," he said -- but Vassar said he thinks it made a resounding one.

"We'll play you hard, doesn't matter what you do," Vassar said. "They [Fitchburg] came out and they beat St. Peter-Marian, 24-0 [last week], we just come back and smash them back."

Light, of course, was Light. In the first half, he racked up 151 yards passing with scores of 30 (to Drew Ortone) and 53 yards (to Cal-bound Richard Rodgers), and added 75 yards and two scores on the ground.

"In our spread offense, when you've got five on seven -- they came out in a 3-3, looked like six guys in the box," Andreoli said. "But Danny, we create our offense by spreading guys out and creating the run -- which, you know, he's a bruising runner, and he makes very good decisions with the ball."

Early on, however, Fitchburg's speedy junior Perkins (134 yards of offense, two touchdowns) got into the teeth of the Pioneers' passing game, breaking up several long balls with his coverage over the top at free safety (including a nice breakup of a potential Rodgers touchdown). He made arguably the best run of the night late in the third quarter, taking an option pitch at the right sideline, turning 90 degrees to the opposite field, cutting up right and putting on his 4.5-40 burners, stiff-arming the last defender at the Pioneer 35 and marching to pay dirt.

"Our game plan on defense was to get in his face quickly, not give him any space," Andreoli said of Perkins. "I think our outside linebackers did a really good job, Shaun Burlinson and John Vassar, on the other side when he went in motion. We didn't want to give him the ball in space."

Said Fitchburg head coach Ray Cosenza, "We had some chances, but things just didn't go our way early, and we didn't react well to it. They played awesome. They were clearly better tonight, and we'll have to go back to work."


SJS 21 21 7 7 --- 56
FIT 0 6 6 0 --- 12

First Quarter
S - Drew Ortone 30 pass from Dan Light (Richard Rodgers kick) 8:32
S - John Vassar 4 run (Rodgers kick) 6:15
S - Vassar 31 run (Rodgers kick) 2:40
Second Quarter
S - Rodgers 53 pass from Light (Rodgers kick) 8:14
S - Light 29 run (Rodgers kick) 6:09
F - Quinton Perkins 5 run (kick blocked) 3:05
S - Light 2 run (Rodgers kick) 0:03
Third Quarter
F - Perkins 63 run (pass failed) 3:02
S - Light 14 run (Rodgers kick) 1:14
Fourth Quarter
S - Sean Wilson 7 run (Sean Gavin kick) 4:31