Boston High School: Dwayne Follette

Recap: Nauset 3-4, No. 13 Plymouth North 2-2

May, 11, 2013
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ORLEANS, Mass. -- If there was ambiguity before, the facts are now crystal clear: the Nauset Warriors have officially entered uncharted waters in the Atlantic Coast League.

The Warriors (15-2, 9-2) came into their doubleheader with juggernaut Plymouth North this afternoon at Eldredge Park having never beaten the Blue Eagles under coach Lou Elia. Not only did they end up sweeping North, 3-2 and 4-2, to put themselves in a tie for first place with the Eagles (11-4, 8-2) -- they have also put themselves in position to make history. If they win their final league game on Monday, against Falmouth, they will clinch themselves at least a share of the ACL title for the first time in school history.

"This program's come quite a long way. We're all happy about it," Elia said.

[+] EnlargeColin Ridley
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.com Left fielder Colin Ridley had 3 RBIs out of the ninth spot to lead Nauset to a two-game sweep of Plymouth North.
North now has to win out in its final two games to stay in the hunt and keep a share of the ACL title, starting Wednesday against archrival Plymouth South followed by a May 21 battle with Marshfield.

"It was just their day," North head coach Dwayne Follette said. "Now, we're going to have to see what kind of character we've got."

Down 2-0 early in the first game, Nauset plated three runs in the bottom of the third to take the lead. Colin Ridley plated the first of his three RBI of the afternoon out of the nine hole to bring across the first run, then senior Nick Taber smacked a single for the go-ahead run.

That was the Warriors' final hit of the first game, only reaching base twice more on an error and a fielder's choice. But the defense behind starting righthander Ray Rowell was solid, stranding six runners to support the lefty's nine-strikeout, eight-hit effort.

North head coach Dwayne Follette, was left wondering what could have been after watching his team load up the bases in the top of the seventh with one out. Facing a 1-2 count, cleanup hitter Jake Prifti was hit on the knee and initially appeared to have been awarded first base, which would have brought home Brendan Beane for the tying run. The ruling instead was a called third strike, after it was determined Prifti had brought the barrel of his bat across the zone enough to merit a swing.

Follette was furious at the call, marching all the way into the infield grass to loudly voice his protest for several minutes.

"You can quote this, that is one of the worst calls I've ever seen," Follette said. "You got a hit batter in the knee, and the umpires just botched it. Listen, they [Nauset] deserved to win, I'm not taking anything away from them. [But that was a] horrible call in the first game."

There was no controversy in the second game, however, as Taber went the full seven on the hill and allowed just two hits.

North once again was once again active early at the plate, scoring two runs in the first inning on a two-run single to center from Prifti to tie the game at 2-2. But the Eagles managed just one hit the rest of the way, a base hit by Ryan Moskos in the bottom of the fifth.

The Warriors went ahead in the top of the fifth on a bloop single from Ridley, dropping in shallow right to score Will Shackleford. Ridley gave them the insurance in the top of the seventh with a base hit that scored Rowell from second.

"Colin's coming up big with us," Elia said. "He might be at the bottom of the order, but he's getting his pitches, he's being patient, and is able to come through."

High marks for aces: Both Elia and Follette came away pleased with the performances of their starters.

The hard-throwing lefty Rowell pounded the zone with a bevy of fastballs in the first game, and after some trouble in the first two innings he settled nicely, getting himself out of jams with runners in scoring position in three of the final four innings.

Taber has tweaked his game since last spring, developing a cutter over the offseason to go along with a changeup and a sharp curveball. In dancing the ball around the plate, Taber kept his pitches low in the zone to stay ahead of the North hitters.

"They were locating, just locating," Elia said. "Nick has been with me for four years, he's one of only guys that's been in the varsity program for four years. He's got really good control, and he's got a couple of different pitches, and he's able to locate. So, he makes the most out of his pitches. He doesn't walk many people at all. He's got command of his pitches, and that's what's important."

Follette was pleased with the performance from junior righthander Kenny Drew, who struck out seven and scattered four hits on 72 pitches, to go along with the three earned runs. With staff ace Brian Christian unable to go today, Follette tapped freshman reliever Kyle Mann for his first varsity start in game two. The youngster demonstrates poise and high velocity in spite of his age, but did run into some trouble, allowing eight hits.

"I thought Kenny Drew, in the first game, pitched an incredible game," Follette said. "He didn't deserve that fate...We're pitching good enough to win, we're just not hitting enough. It's unfortunate. He pounded the zone."

Turning up the aggression: Over the last two seasons, the Eagles have been held in high regard for their ambitious approach to the basepath, compensating for a deficit in hitting with a blend of high-risk baserunning and fielding tactics playfully dubbed "Dwayne Ball" by their Plymouth brethren for its uniqueness.

In the second inning of game one, they executed a vintage "Dwayne Ball" staple. Executing a double steal, freshman Joe Walsh was caught in a rundown on the basepaths just long enough for Derek Salvucci to come screaming home for the initial 1-0 lead.

In the first inning of game two, the Eagles stole four bags, including two from Cory Boudreau, to help manufacture two runs.

North's leadoff hitter, Ryan Moskos stole two bags on the day to bring his season total to 26, which is eight more than the entire Nauset team attained a season ago. So far this year, however, the Warriors have recorded 60 steals, including two today.

What prompted the more dramatic approach in 2013?

"We've been running hard. We look for our opportunities, and I've got a pretty quick team one through nine," Elia said. "I've got a very young team, only two seniors, and the kids I've got coming up are pretty fast. We practice it, we practice running bases every day. We practice reading the pitches, knowing when to go, picking and choosing our battles. They've become very good at that, knowing when to be aggressive."

In developing that aggression, seeing has been believing. Muscle memory is the M.O. in Nauset practices, repeatedly practicing drills that have them envisioning those first-to-third, second-to-third, passed-ball scenarios.

"We do a lot of visualization," Elia said. "We've done a lot of mental preparation for games right now. They're goal-oriented. They don't go by expectations, they go by goals, and I think that's helped them out quite a bit this year."

Cobban: 'I'm going in with my eyes wide open'

August, 18, 2012
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Earlier this week, Kevin Cobban was officially named the new head football coach at Plymouth North High, his second stint with the Eagles after previously leading them from 1994 to 1999.

Considering how close we are to kicking off the 2012 preseason in Massachusetts, and how much time Cobban has been away from the high school game, the timing of Cobban's hire is unique. Previous head coach Dwayne Follette resigned on Aug. 6, as part of a deal with the school district following some off-field allegations that were made public. Cobban is also diving back into the high school game for the first time since 1999, when he left the Eagles to become offensive coordinator at Bridgewater State University.

The Eagles are hoping this is a smooth transition. Cobban is currently a physical education teacher in Plymouth's middle school system, and the Eagles will retain Follette's entire staff of assistant coaches from last season. Cobban spoke to ESPNBoston.com earlier this week for a few more comments on his new position:

His reaction to being named head coach: "I was excited about it. It's a great opportunity to get back into head coaching, we've got great new facilities, great kids, I teach in the system so I know all the kids. I was out of coaching for while to raise my own family, but now they're old enough that I thought it was the right time to get back into coaching. I'm so excited about it."

The plan going forward: "I don’t know what I'm going to incorporate. I'm gonna wait to see what type of talent is here, and create an offense molded around the talent have. I'm being 100 percent honest when I say I don't know who's going to be the quarterback. I know the kids, I had them all in Phys Ed., but I don't how they relate in terms of football. I’m not trying to be sneaky, I'm being honest. We've had two coaches' meetings, because I just got the job Monday. I'm just trying to hammer everything out in a week what is usually done in months."

What's changed about the high school game since his last go-around: "The game has evolved, with the spread and getting athletes into the open field. Before it was more of controlled, confined game. Now, it's more wide open, offenses are putting up a lot of points. The way you cover a team defensively, there's a lot more grass to cover now. Now they spread it all over the field, and it can make you very vulnerable defensively, so on offense yo've got to do the same thing. That’s the biggest change I've seen."

On the difficulties taking the position so shortly before the season, and how he'll approach the first days: "It’s a tough thing right now. It's gonna take me hopefully not more than a day to figure out what we have and what offense is best suited to our kids, then have to put the system in place. The uncertainty of it is keeping me up at night, but we've got a great coaching staff. I retain all the assistants that were there last year. It's a smooth transition. The kids are very familiar with me because they've had me as a teacher at middle school, so the transition should be easy.

"I'm going in with my eyes wide open Monday. I'm going to do a lot of fundamental work and see what's best for the kids. We've only got 18 practices before our first game, we cannot waste time, so we better have an idea halfway through our first practice. We have ideas of course, but nothing is set in stone at this point."

On Dwayne Follette: "I'm not going to mention Dwayne as a coach, but as a person. When I took the job in 1994, Dwayne was the first person to reach out to me. I came from Weymouth High School to Plymouth as a head coach, and he was the first guy to reach out and accept me. He's coached for many years. Personally and professionally, he has always been a very good friend of mine. He has been nothing but positive. He wants the kids to do well and he's happy I got job, he’ll do anything for us."

Was it difficult for him to watch what went down this summer? "I was away from it. I didn’t know what was going on. It was difficult because a friend of mine was in trouble, it was difficult for the kids because we try to do right by the kids. I don't judge anyone, I judge them by how they deal with me, and that's how I deal with them. Dwayne has been a class act all my life and that’s how I have treated him."

Plymouth North's Follette: 'I made a mistake'

August, 7, 2012
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In the days following reports last week of an investigation into long-time Plymouth North baseball coach Dwayne Follette, and an anonymous letter alleging his presence at a private party earlier this summer where underage drinking occurred, the initial outpour of support from town was overwhelming.

Plymouth Police looked into the situation, but late last week suspended their investigation due to lack of evidence. Plymouth townsfolk were prepared to rally around the beloved figure, with a former player’s mother organizing a Friday night rally at the high school that nearly 1,000 were said to be prepared to attend.

But before things could get out of hand, school officials took control. Both parties reached an agreement on Friday, following the school district’s own internal investigation, and last night during a School Committee meeting he apologized to the town, the school, North principal Kathleen McSweeney and Superintendent Gary Maestas.

As part of the agreement, Follette resigned from his post as head football coach, which he took over shortly before the 2010 season, and the head JV basketball coach position he slid into midway through the 11-12 season. Follette will remain the school’s baseball coach, a position he’s held for 18 years and for which he has produced multiple state champions, draft picks and Cape Cod League veterans.

Also as part of the agreement, Follette will be assisting with the local chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), speaking to both kids and adults.

“The support was amazing, I couldn’t believe the overwhelming support,” Follette said. “It would’ve turned into really bad publicity for the school and town, and it was starting to get out of hand. I was willing to take this all the way end, with the community behind me, but it was really starting to affect my family.

“When I say family – my kids were all behind me, but it was starting to affect my wife in a negative way. My wife works the front office at the high school, and she was getting bombarded with this stuff. If your wife cries in front of you or gets hurt, there’s nothing worse.

“I’ve been coaching for 28 years, 18 as head baseball coach, and I’ve done some amazing things on the field. Now it’s time to do some amazing stuff off the field. That’s what made this resolution possible. Bottom line is, this resolution was the best thing for the community and for my family.”

Follette repeatedly expressed gratitude towards Maestas for the agreement. He also admitted fault for his presence at the party in question, a “breakup barbecue” held earlier this summer.

“I made a mistake. I didn’t do anything illegal, but I made a mistake,” he said. “This resolution is what’s best for the community. I regret being there, and that’s what led to all of this. I’m a high school baseball coach, and look at what this turned into.”

Follette’s resignation from the football program comes at an inconvenience, what with the first MIAA-sanctioned football practices less than two weeks away. A successor won’t be revealed until next Wednesday, but Follette said his entire staff from last season returns, which possibly suggests this could be an internal promotion.

“It’s a good person,” Follette said. “I can tell you one thing – it’s a very good person, a respectable coach that’s not gonna skip a beat. All I can say is once they announce it, I am in total support.”

D2 Baseball: Plymouth North 12, Oliver Ames 3

June, 9, 2012
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Alex RozakBrendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comUMass-bound righty Alex Rozak earned the 23rd win of his career at Plymouth North on Friday afternoon, and the defending state champs clinched their fifth straight D2 South Final appearance.
PLYMOUTH, Mass. -- Alex Rozak watched as the game's second batter, Dave McKinnon, took his fastball deep over the fences at Siever Field, to give visiting Oliver Ames a quick 2-0 lead over his Plymouth North squad.

Some pitchers might sweat after an early sequence like that. Rozak merely sighs.

Of course, it helps when the bats behind you plate a dozen runs two stanzas later. The UMass-bound senior righty and ace of the Blue Eagles' staff locked up the 23rd win of his high school career with the aid of a 12-run second inning, as they cruised to an easy 12-3 win over the Tigers (14-9) to make this their fifth consecutive trip to the Division 2 South Finals.

Rozak, the winning pitcher in last year's Division 2 state championship (North's second title in four years), is once again getting hot at the right time and taking command of the Eagles' (16-7) staff. This afternoon, he struck out six while allowing four hits and walking two; all three runs allowed were earned.

"Give him the ball and he battles," Eagles head coach Dwayne Follette said. "I thought he might of lost a little composure there when [Sullivan] took him deep, but he fought right back. They're very good 1 through 6, and we said keep the leadoff hitter off. I think he got rattled after he walked that kid [leadoff hitter Jim Sullivan] on 3-2 [first inning], but after that he settled down and dominated.

Follette added, "He got his splitter going today, I don't know if you guys noticed that. He looked great getting them to strike out on balls in the dirt. And really, that's the best he's thrown that pitch all year. When you're tired, you've got to go to something else, right? You're not going to blow everyone away with your fastball, especially at this level."

Rozak was noticeably confident in the pitch today, and it showed.

"Early in the game, the fastball wasn't really established -- I don't know why, maybe I wasn't warmed up enough," Rozak said. "So we started working the curveball in, and that wasn't working as best as it could, so we tried the splitter, and that was just on. So you kinda build off that and work backwards, instead of establishing the fastball first."

Bats Come Alive: For as long as Follette has been in charge, the Eagles have always hit the ball well. But this year's squad is a far cry from last year's row of mashers, led by ESPN Boston All-State catcher and Frankin Pierce freshman Matt Walsh (who is also suiting up for the Cape Cod League's Wareham Gatemen this summer).

As mentioned above, the Eagles plated all of their runs in a 16-at bat second inning, led by two-run singles each from Vinny Tavernelli, David Murphy and John Myette (3 RBI). But just like in their D2 South quarterfinal win over Dennis-Yarmouth, the runs were manufactured.

"We're fast and athletic," Follette said. "We've had six home runs all year, [whereas] most of our guys had six home runs on their own last year. We're totally different, but the kids are playing...I don't know what to say. I knew we could do it, but I'm thrilled to be here, to be honest with you."

Home field advantage: These two teams were supposed to play yesterday at Brockton's Campanelli Stadium. But when a rainstorm flooded the infield dirt making the field unplayable, and with the Brockton Rox set to play there tomorrow night, MIAA South Tournament Director Don Fredericks flipped a coin to decide on the host venue.

And you had to have the feeling once the coin landed in North's favor, sending this game to Siever, that this was going to be a tough one for the Tigers. It's not uncommon to see a packed bowl of stands circling behind the backstop from the first to third baselines, nor a packed row of parked cars on both sides stretching from one end of Liberty Street to the other, and all the other roads running parallel. Heck, today there were cars nestled near the Cazeault Roofing parking lot more a half mile away.

And the fans, some bare-chested with face paint, always seem to bring it. The crowd played a factor in last year's run to the state title; and with a well-traveling crowd heading to neutral sites from herein, it could once again be momentous.

"Coach didn't tell us anything yesterday other than 'See you here tomorrow', and we were fired up," Rozak said. "We thought our last home game [a first-round win over Stoughton] was the last game I'd ever play at Siever, so to be able to play here again was huge."

Recap: Plymouth North 9, No. 23 Auburn 4

May, 25, 2012
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AUBURN, Mass. -- By its own admittance, Plymouth North is not a team stockpiled with bashers up and down the lineup -- and Eagles coach Dwayne Follette will be the first one to tell you that.

What Plymouth North has reverted back to is a combination of small ball, aggressive baserunning and solid defense to register wins. All were put on display tonight as the defending Division 2 state champion Eagles scored seven runs in the sixth inning to rally back for a 9-4 non-league victory over Auburn.

“All year we have had a good pitcher on the mound and we just battle,” said Follette, whose club improves to 13-6. “Today we executed small ball which was great. We’re not crushing the ball and we’re not a great hitting team. We are solid and found a way to win tonight by laying down bunts, executing a squeeze and we were very aggressive on the base paths. We're not afraid of any situation that comes our way.

"This was a big game for us and a big game for them. We like playing each other because we both are looking to judge to see where we are at. We know we are going to have to play this style of baseball in the postseason tournament to be effective.”

With the loss, the Rockets (16-4) saw their five game win streak snapped. But through five innings, they held a 4-2 lead as starting pitcher Connor Fuller was doing an admirable job keeping the Eagles offense in check.

However, with his pitch count continuing to rise (115 pitches total), the senior lefty began to lose steam in the sixth. Fuller lasted 5-1/3 innings, allowing five hits while striking out nine. The Eagles, who were having problems catching up to Fuller’s fastball early, changed their strategy later on as they tried to force Fuller into delivering more pitches to the plate and worked executed the little things that win games.

In the decisive sixth, Plymouth North opened by putting two on with one out. Jaime Delano bounced a dribbler down the third base line for a single. On the play, in his attempt to throw out Delano, Auburn third baseman Zack Tower threw wildly to first as the ball deflected off of first baseman Mykal Diaz. Pinch runner Ben Waltuch would score on the play, coming around from second base to make it a 4-3 game. Tyler Lamonda came on in relief of Fuller.

But with runners on second and third, Pat Horgan delivered a two-run single up the middle to put the Eagles in front to stay. As it turned out, Plymouth North was just getting started.

A walk to Brian Christian put two more runners on. Leadoff batter Cody Homes then dropped down a bunt for a single. Horgan, standing on second at the time, never stopped running on the play and would score the Eagles’ sixth run. Following a steal of second by Holmes and a walk to Jamie Dougherty, Plymouth North loaded the bases.

Connor Follette, who had struck out his previous three trips to the plate, was given the sign for a squeeze. The senior executed it perfectly to score another run for the Eagles. Before this inning finally came to a close, junior David Murphy singled to left plating two more and put Plymouth North ahead by five.

“We hadn’t played a team that has put the pressure on us the way they did,” Auburn coach Eric Swedberg said. “I blame myself a little bit. When you have a senior captain you let his pitch count go to 115 which is a little high. I should have put my emotions aside but I didn't. When Connor started that sixth inning I didn’t think I was going to need anyone else. He started good but I don’t know what happened thereafter.”

Eagles senior pitcher Vinny Tavernelli, albeit not overpowering, used a mix of fastballs and a looping curve to keep the Rocket hitters off-balance. Tavernelli lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hits before Holmes came on to shut the door the rest of the way.

These two clubs are no strangers to one another. In 2008 and 2009 they met in the Division 2 state finals. Plymouth North captured the title in 2008 while the Rockets returned the favor the following year. Since then, both teams have scheduled a regular season meeting each year and that trend is expected to continue come next season.

The Eagles jumped on Fuller for a pair of runs in the opening frame. Murphy (2 hits, 3 RBI) singled in the team's first run. Moments later, with Dougherty, who had walked, on third and Murphy on first, Follette called for a double steal which worked to perfection as Dougherty slid home to make it 2-0.

But in the bottom of the inning, Auburn answered back. Tyler Desjardins reached on a Tavernelli throwing error on a comebacker and Mike Vaitkunas singled. That set the stage for Diaz, who blasted a curve deep over the left field fence for a three-run homer putting the Rockets in front 3-2. Auburn added a solo run in the fifth on a RBI single by Tower. But the two run cushion the Rockets enjoyed would be brief as the Eagle offense exploded one inning later.

“We came out on top with a good comeback victory,” Murphy said. “We played well all-around. We came off the bus fired up to play this team because we knew how good they were. Vinny did a nice job and pitched great for us. Even when we were down we still felt comfortable and started to get the pitches we wanted to see. We were able to take advantage of what they gave us to earn this win.”

Recap: Plymouth North 3, No. 8 Marshfield 2

April, 30, 2012
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PLYMOUTH, Mass. — Dwayne Follette probably won’t put a victory on the last day of April in the pantheon of achievements that he’s had as head coach of the Plymouth North baseball team.

But that doesn’t mean the Eagles' win over a powerful Atlantic Coast League foe isn’t important.

Plymouth North ended Marshfield’s 10-game winning streak with an opportunistic 3-2 victory on Monday at Siever Field.

The loss hurts the Rams as they were seemingly making their way through the league and the rest of their schedule, but the first league loss to the defending Div. 2 state champions brings a little more parody to one of the strongest leagues on the South Shore.

“We aren’t afraid of situations like this,” said Follette, whose team is now 7-3 on the season and 3-2 in the Atlantic Coast League. “It was a good win for us. We needed it. That keeps the whole league up for grabs. If they beat us now, then they are basically running away with the league title.”

Creativity on the Base Paths: It’s been a slow start to the season with the bats, according to Follette, so the coach has been trying to get some giddy-up when his players get on base.

Some of the ideas work, and some don’t.

In the fourth inning one of Follette’s gambles didn’t work. With two outs in the inning and Cody Holmes on third base, the Eagles head coach gave his leftfielder the green light to try and steal home.

Holmes was easily tagged out at home when Corey Stevens delivered the ball to the plate, but it was outside the box thinking to jumpstart the offense in a tie ballgame.

“It was a straight steal,” Follette said when asked if it was a missed sign. “You try to push the buttons...You try to do the extra things, get a steal or do whatever you can. If we start hitting the ball like we are capable of, and we are capable of hitting, then we are going to be a scary team.”

Ryan Moskos’ efforts in the bottom of the fifth signified the creativity that is needed with the speed all over the Eagles lineup. Moskos hit a slow roller to the right side and he darted down the line to beat out the footrace to the bag.

Corey Stevens picked off Moskos at first, but the speedster put his head down and got his way to second base just before the throw. The centerfielder took third on a fly ball to the outfield and he was able to score the eventual game-winning run on an error — one of four by the Rams on the afternoon — at first base with two outs in the inning.

“Once we get on base we have to get in scoring position right away,” said Moskos. “That’s why we steal so much.”

Kingsbury Clutch With Glove: In the top of the seventh inning with the lead runner on first base, Joe Kingsbury all but sealed the game with his diving catch and heads up play to double up the runner at first.

Kingsbury just got his glove under a line drive to left by Max DiTondo and easily got Joe Cunningham at first base as the Rams’ base runner was unsure if the ball was caught or trapped.

“I thought we got the breaks today,” said Follette. “Now we’ve got to stop winning with breaks and start hitting the ball."

Season-ending High Schools podcast

June, 24, 2011
6/24/11
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High Schools co-editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall went into the studio one last time this season to recap the the spring season in this season-ending edition of the ESPN Boston High Schools podcast .

We were joined by Plymouth North baseball head coach Dwayne Follette, who led the Eagles to their second Division 2 state title in four years (and their third finals appearance over that time), and took a look back at yet another magical season for the Atlantic Coast League champions. Also, we took a look ahead in out crystal ball to make some predictions for the 2011-12 athletic year.

P-North takes second state title in four seasons

June, 19, 2011
6/19/11
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LYNN, Mass -- In a year where the Dallas Mavericks, UConn Huskies, and Boston Bruins have all won championships, the Plymouth North Blue Eagles discontinued the underdog trend in a solid 3-1 victory over the Hudson Hawks.

When Hudson’s Ryan Bowen hit Plymouth North’s Zach Zaniboni on the very first pitch of the game, it became very apparent where this game was going.

“We had to jump on them early and be aggressive. That was our approach to this game,” said second basemen Jamie Dougherty. “But if we laid around and kept them in it, things wouldn’t have gone good.”

And to say Dougherty was aggressive would be an incredible understatement. After a pitch had hit his teammate, Dougherty took a sacrifice bunt, which helped Plymouth North score their first run of the game. He also made an incredible diving catch at the bottom of the sixth inning that shut Hudson’s hopes of winning the game down. All of this was done with an injured elbow after being hit by a pitch in the previous game.

“[My elbow] did hurt but I was trying not to worry about it,” said Jamie Dougherty. “My good friend [Matt] Walsh kept telling me to take it one out at a time.”

“He shouldn’t even have played,” said coach Dwayne Follette. “He’s got a nasty elbow. He shows the character of this program and this team. You wouldn’t even believe it if you had looked at his elbow.”

Plymouth North’s other two runs came in the third and fourth inning. Dougherty scored a run on a bocked pitch in the third and pinch-runner Tom Faucett scored on a Doug Maccaferri single in the fourth. Alex Rozak pitched an incredible game, letting up only three hits in six innings. But he wasn’t quick to accept praise after the game. Instead, he gave credit to the relentless Plymouth North fans.

Said Rozak, “We have the best fans in the state. They are always here supporting us. It’s always a big boost when you have people behind you.”

From chants to body paint, the Plymouth North fans were simply a reflection of how the Blue Eagles’ program operates. Heart, grit, and toughness is what they are all about. When things were not looking good, there was always someone there to step up, whether it was Cody Holmes cleaning up for Rozak or Dougherty’s heroic catch to help close out the game. Their numbers also speak for themselves.

“We have two [state championships] in the last four years. We got 13 seniors going on to college, six to play baseball, and one in the armed services. These guys are unbelievable.”


P-North snaps NA's streak, returns to D2 final

June, 16, 2011
6/16/11
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BRAINTREE, Mass. -- When they look back on the season, their record will include only two losses, but for the North Andover baseball team, the second came at the worst possible time.

After winning 23 games in a row to establish state-wide dominance in Division 2, the Knights ran into Plymouth North Wednesday and lost 15-4. With the win, the Eagles return to the Division 2 State Final for the third time in four years, and will try to capture their first title since 2008.

The Plymouth North (21-3) bats got to Mike Weisman early and often, putting up four runs on four hits in the second inning after leaving the bases loaded in the first. Meanwhile the defense for North Andover (23-2) did not make life easy for Weisman, committing three fielding errors in the inning.

The Eagle hitters attacked Wiseman early in counts, often swinging at the first pitches of their at-bats. Plymouth North catcher Matt Walsh, who went four-for-five with four singles, said the team noticed a pattern in the pitching that helped them attack at the plate.

“Right away, the first three batters of the game, we noticed he started with a fastball to each hitter,” he said. “We left the bases loaded in the first inning but we knew we were going to get to him because of the first pitch fastball.”

They got to Wiseman again in the fourth inning for five more runs. Zach Zaniboni lead off the inning with a single to right-center and was brought home by Walsh two batters later. Dom Nicolosi, the North Andover third baseman, misplayed two ground balls in the inning, which kept the Plymouth North inning alive. Altogether, the team committed six errors in the game.

“We couldn’t field a ground ball today,” said North Andover coach Todd Dulin. “First game of the year (the other NA loss) we couldn’t field a ground ball and today we couldn’t field a ground ball, so that’s kind of the story.”

Weisman was pulled later in the fourth after giving up nine runs and nine hits. After pitching three times in one week, including pitching Wednesday on two days rest, the hard-throwing lefty just could not stop the Plymouth North lineup.

Plymouth North will play the winner of the Hudson vs. Palmer game, which was postponed to Thursday night due to lightning, Saturday at Frasier Field in Lynn for the Division 2 State Championship.

“This was the game we had to get, us with our No. 2 pitcher (Jake Stearns) against Weisman,” said Plymouth North coach Dwayne Follette. “Now we give ourselves a chance for another state title, which is all we want.”

Stearns threw six-plus innings and never ran into any trouble until his last inning. A back-to-back Weisman walk and Alec Jillson single in the fourth inning was the only blemish in the box score for Stearns until the sixth. There, he gave up a double to Cam Couillard and triple to Wiseman to open the inning. He was relieved in favor of Tom Faucett after he failed to record an out in the inning.

The 15 runs was a vast difference from the two runs the Eagles could muster against Somerset the night before. Walsh knows his team’s performance against North Andover is more indicative of what type of team Plymouth North is.

“We know we’re a hitting team,” he said. “It happens to every team once in a while. You get out-pitched once in a while, but we still find a way to win and that’s all that matters. We knew we’d come back to the bats tonight.”

Rozak's gem gives P-North another South crown

June, 14, 2011
6/14/11
11:59
PM ET


QUINCY, Mass. -- Alex Rozak could not have picked a better time to pitch his best game of the season for Plymouth North.

The right-hander allowed three hits and recorded 12 strikeouts over seven innings to lead Plymouth North to its third Division 2 South Championship in four seasons, with a 2-0 victory over No. 2 seed Somerset Tuesday night at Adams Field.

“Rozak was nasty,” North head coach Dwayne Follette said. “He’s had games like that and then tired at the end, but he just finished tonight. It was great.”

Rozak felt staying out of any trouble with the Somerset hitters helped him keep his composure and stay on the mound until the final out.

“When I was running into trouble, that’s when I started to get unfocused, but it all came back to me today,” he said. “I wasn’t tired though, I felt strong the whole game.”

The Blue Raiders (17-6) never had a runner get beyond second base and only had multiple runners on base once in the game. The three times a batter had a full count against Rozak resulted in either a strikeout or an inning-ending double play.

“I was hitting my locations today, every pitch was working,” he said. “I have three pitches and earlier in the year, only two of them would work, but today all three of them were.”

It was not as though the North (20-3) bats lit up the scoreboard though. Aside from two innings with costly Somerset errors, Colin Smith pitched a gem of a game for the Raiders.

Zach Zaniboni led off the game with a single and advanced to second with a stolen base. Two batters later, he was driven in by Matt Walsh, who dropped a single into center. Adam Ledoux lifted his head up too soon while fielding ball, which allowed it to roll behind him and Zaniboni to score easily.

In the third, Zaniboni again lead off the inning. He hit a fly ball to center, looking like the first out of the inning. Three Somerset fielders converged, each wanting to catch the ball. It hit off the second baseman’s glove and hit the ground. He advanced on a Smith throwing error when his pickoff attempt got past the first baseman. He eventually scored on a Walsh sacrifice fly to center.

He finished the game with nine strikeouts while allowing five hits and one walk over seven innings. He struck out Plymouth North’s cleanup hitter, Mike Cahill, three times.

“(Smith) was awesome,” said Follette. “He had five of our guys screwed into the ground. He had strikeouts against five of our batters. He came as advertised with a great change-up and breaking ball away.”

The Eagles will face North Andover Wednesday in the state semi-finals in a rematch of the 2009 semi-finals, in which Plymouth North came away with a 9-0 victory.

“They won 23 in a row so we know we have our work cut out for us, but we’re just happy to be there and we’re going to give them a game,” declared Follette.

With Rozak throwing a complete game, it kept as many pitching arms as possible available for North to use if needed against the tough North Andover lineup.

“We know we have two pitchers behind me that will get the job done and we’ll hit the ball well since we’ve been doing that all year,” said Rozak.

Plymouth North downs D-Y, clinches ACL share

May, 12, 2011
5/12/11
8:57
PM ET
SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. -- Alex Rozak came in to close the deal in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, on just two days rest -- and at that, six-plus innings of extended relief -- and immediately ran into trouble. But with two men on, the junior righty caught the Dennis-Yarmouth batter looking on a third strike, opening a joyous emptying of the dugout and a pat on the back from his head coach.

With Rozak's save and a strong 6-2/3 innings from lefty Jake Stearns, the Eagles clinched at least a share of the Atlantic Coast League title once again by holding off upstart host Dennis-Yarmouth, 4-3, at Wilson Field.

North (13-1, 9-1) can clinch the ACL outright at home Monday against Sandwich, while D-Y fell to 8-5 and 5-4 in the league.

"I never should have pitched him [today], but you know, that's for the league title," Eagles head coach Dwayne Follette said of Rozak, who struck out eight batters in 6-2/3 innings of relief in a 14-5 win over Marshfield Monday. "That's a good win."

Pinch-runner Ryan Moskos came on for Dave Murphy in the top of the sixth inning, and scored from first base with two outs to plate the winning run for the Eagles. Doug Maccaferri flied out deep to right field, sending the speedy soccer star from first on a tag-up. Moskos slid head-first into third, but the throw from the rightfielder was overthrown, sending him home standing up.

Matt Walsh tried to give the Eagles an insurance run in the seventh, blasting one to the left field wall for a stand-up double before getting tagged out at home to end the inning. Stearns fanned the first two batters of the final stanza swinging, but walked the next one, prompting Follette to call in Rozak on short rest for the save.

Stearns finished the day striking out eight, allowing five hits and walking two, to pick up the win.

"I knew once we got that run, we get ahead and we've got Alex and our ace," Walsh said. "Big chance for us to get the ACL right there, so I knew my double would help us get it done."

The Eagles plated three runs in the top of the first, the first run coming when Zach Zaniboni raced home after Walsh's grounder wasn't fielded safely. Walsh and Mike Cahill then came home on a John Myette single to make it 3-0.

But the Dolphins responded two innings later to knot it at three. Brendan Sullivan reached on an error by the second baseman, allowing his brother Cody to reach home safely for the 3-3 score.

After the rally, D-Y managed just two hits over the final four innings.

"They're the best team in Division 2, and we've played them two games in a row toe-to-toe," D-Y head coach Paul Funk said. "I think we just made more mistakes. We made a couple of mistakes that we've got to clean up on. But I'll tell you, we gutted it out. The pitcher we had going [Justin Thomson], he gutted it out for us."

Montalto lifts No. 23 D-Y to ACL share

November, 13, 2010
11/13/10
2:20
AM ET



SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. -- Matt Montalto is a lifelong resident of Yarmouth, but too young to remember the days before Paul Funk took over the Dennis-Yarmouth football program nearly 10 years ago. Funk, a proven assistant at Everett High, came down the Cape in 2001 to inherit a program that won just six games in the 1990's; a program so desolate it had been relegated to playing only junior varsity games.

But after a gutsy second half performance last night, a night that nobody on Station Avenue is soon going to forget, the legacies of both Funk and Montalto have come full circle. Montalto's stats through the air and ground, usually gaudy, took a hit. But so did Plymouth North's vaunted defensive front seven, as the dual-threat junior quarterback slashed the Eagles for a touchdown through the air and ground in the final 22 minutes to orchestrate a 14-7 comeback victory and clinch the Dolphins a share of their second Atlantic Coast League title in four seasons.

"He is as good a competitor, as a winner, as you'll ever find," Funk said of Montalto (181 all-purpose yards). "He's been a winner since he was seven. You always have a chance with him at the helm. His older brother was the same way, (Matt's) just an unbelievable person. I knew at halftime he was going to pick up, because he was banged up and bruised -- they're as physical team as you'll find -- but he just picked us up at halftime and said he was going to get it done. He put us on his shoulders."

Said junior wideout/defensive back Dylan Hodsdon, who caught Montalto's game-winning touchdown pass and then sealed it late with a pick, "Oh Matt, he's a warrior, man. He's awesome. He's the leader on the team, and he's just awesome. Gets banged up, and he keeps on going. Just awesome."

Unlike that 2007 season, though, when they went 10-1 but missed out on a Division 1A playoff berth by virtue of a head-to-head loss to Marshfield, this year's Dolphins (9-1) can claim the ACL's Division 2A playoff berth should North beat archrival Plymouth South (its final ACL opponent) on Thanksgiving. That would create a three-way tie between North, D-Y and Marshfield, the latter of whom beat D-Y earlier in the season but lost to North (both D-Y and Marshfield are finished with their ACL schedules). League tiebreaker rules give the playoff berth to the team that has gone the longest without a postseason appearance, which means the Dolphins -- who have never played past Thanksgiving in the Super Bowl era -- would move on.

"This is the biggest night since the 2007 season," said Montalto, whose brother Nick -- now his quarterbacks coach -- was under center on that '07 team. "It's the biggest game of the 2007 season, it's just as big for the school as it is for the community...It's the biggest thing I've ever been a part of. That's how much it means to me."

Early on, the Eagles (7-3) took control of the field and the clock with their trademark power sets and clock-eating drives on the ground. Behind bruising north-south running between the tackles by senior Matt Walsh (18 carries, 104 yards), the Eagles clawed all the way to the Dolphins' four before being stopped at the goal line on fourth down. Walsh took a toss right, and looked to have clearance, but a Hodsdon dive at his legs tripped him up at the two.

North quarterback Cody Merritt, playing over the top at free safety, avenged the turnover on downs on the ensuing drive when he jumped a slant route and picked off a Montalto dart over the middle, breaking for the right sideline and marching in for a 30-yard pick six. But that initial turnover on downs, however, may have come back to haunt them.

A Tommy Kennedy sack of Merritt on fourth down ended North's first drive of the second half, and gave the Dolphins a starting drive at midfield. On the second play of the drive, Montalto went to the right flat and found Hodsdon, who easily ripped through an armtackle and burst up the sideline before being pushed out some 28 yards later. Four plays later, Montalto finished the drive, flushing out of the pocket to his right and skimping over the near pylon for a 16-yard scamper.

The Eagles went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, and Montalto burst loose around the outside again on the first play for 39 yards. Five plays later, he connected with his favorite target Hodsdon again, a slant over the shallow end zone from the left slot for an 11-yard touchdown reception and a 14-7 lead with 8:31 to go.

All three of North's drives over the final eight minutes came up fruitless, with the secondary picking off Merritt each time. The most crucial one came with 55 seconds left int he game, on second and 15, as Merritt rolled to his left with time and let a sideline fade rip. Hodsdon came over the top and pounced on the ball, underthrown with plenty of air under it, for the second of three fourth-quarter interceptions by the D-Y secondary.

"We knew we had to keep our heads up," Hodsdon said. "That's all we had to do is keep our heads up, and we kept to our assignments."

North head coach Dwayne Follette confessed fatigue may have played a factor in the Eagles' second-half defensive breakdowns.

"We've got alot of kids that play both ways," Follette said. "I think we got tired. We missed alot of tackles, and I think their speed just...we just should have finished that first drive. I thought that not finishing on that first drive really hurt us, because we could have had a nice lead, you know. We just made mistakes at the wrong time."

NO. 23 DENNIS-YARMOUTH 14, NO. 12 PLYMOUTH NORTH 7

PN 0 7 0 0 --- 7
DY 0 0 7 7 --- 14

Second Quarter
P - Cody Merritt 30 interception return (Vinny Tavernelli kick) 3:01

Third Quarter
D - Matt Montalto 16 run (John Terrio kick) 2:42

Fourth Quarter
D - Dylan Hodsdon 11 pass from Montalto (Terrio kick) 8:31

As Walsh bruises, No. 14 P-North cruises

October, 30, 2010
10/30/10
10:55
PM ET
BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. -- Bandaged brow and all, Matt Walsh stood unfazed as he greeted reporters following his Plymouth North Eagles' game with Barnstable. This was a typical night for the 5-foot-11, 210-pound senior, after all -- which is to say, based on recent performances, an unstoppable one.

Whether it was carrying the ball or lead blocking, Walsh punished the Red Raider defenders all night to the tune of 111 yards and two scores on 26 carries, giving the Eagles all the cushion they needed as they pounced on Barnstable, 33-18, last night at Massachusetts Maritime Academy's Clean Harbors Stadium.

"They were loading up on us in the box," said Walsh, who recently committed to Franklin Pierce College for baseball. "They were keying on our power game, and we still powered through them. It was a really nice job by the offensive line."

As for his own game?

"I just want to get the running backs in the end zone," he said, referring to his lead blocks. "I'll do whatever I can for the team."

All night, the Raiders struggled to keep the Eagles off the field, and dominated the clock with their Power-I set in the first half. North was 8 of 13 on third downs, and converted all four of its fourth down tries, thanks to well-executed kick-out and trap blocks from linemen Jeff Synan, Mike Cahill and Justin Maskell that sprung Walsh free. Walsh did the rest, pushing the pile on his own strength at the end of runs and even trucking a few guys.

It's the same method that has delivered North impressive wins over Bridgewater-Raynham, Marshfield and Falmouth in successive weeks following the loss last month to Aquinas Institute of Rochester, N.Y.

"They're a real physical team," Barnstable head coach Doug Crook said. "We knew they were going to come and pound us. Matt Walsh is a load. My defense is laden with sophomores and I'm proud of them, but this is a good tune-up for next weekend (against Bridgewater-Raynham)."

As for that last point, some might consider this a warm-up for both teams' league slate ahead of them. Friday the Raiders look to clinch the Old Colony League crown when they head to B-R, a program known for its suffocating offensive line play and power running have since the days of Doug Bessette and Marc Colombo in the late-90's. The Eagles head to South Yarmouth in two weeks to take on Dennis-Yarmouth -- which runs a more read-option oriented version of Barnstable's spread attack -- for what could potentially be all the marbles in the Atlantic Coast League.

"D-Y is pretty much like Barnstable, so it was good to get a feel for that tonight," Walsh said. "Hopefully it helps us out alot."

The Eagles dominated the clock with their power running game in the first half, putting together two monster scoring drives and moving the ball steadily behind Walsh, Zach Zaniboni and keepers from quarterback Cody Merritt. North marched 63 yards in 12 plays on its opening drive of the game, with Walsh plunging in from four yards out for the initial 7-0 lead.

They pushed the lead to 13-0 late in the second quarter after putting together another drive from good field position, marching 54 yards in 10 plays and punching it in with a one-yard Merritt keeper. Barnstable, after a dismal start, came out blazing in the third quarter, with junior quarterback D.J. Crook (273 yards passing, three touchdowns) hooking up with Jordan Henderson (12 catches, 204 yards, three touchdowns) for a 46-yard pass on fourth down, then punching it in five plays later with an eight-yard comeback to Henderson.

Each Crook touchdown pass to Henderson was responded immediately with more Plymouth pounding between the tackles and scores. Meanwhile, the defense showed its mettle in keeping the quick Barnstable strikes to a dull roar, picking off Crook twice in crucial situations.

So, the North defense did bend. Henderson burned the Eagles' secondary for catches of 48, 46, 33 and 23, all off short passes to the flats; running back Dennis Reddy (nine carries, 79 yards) kept them honest with draws up the middle that went for big gains.

But they did not break.

"(We had to stop) the big play. They can score so fast, they can do everything," North head coach Dwayne Follette said. "They have a great deep passing game, and we didn't give up any big plays as far as deep strikes. We couldn't figure out the crossing route on that empty set they run, but we adjusted and we played well. I was very happy with our defense. They've very dangerous, they average alot more than 18 points (per game)."

PLYMOUTH NORTH 33, BARNSTABLE 18

PLN 7 6 14 6 --- 33
BAR 0 0 12 6 --- 18

First Quarter
P - Matt Walsh 4 run (Vinny Tavernelli kick) 3:49

Second Quarter
P - Cody Merritt 1 run (pass failed) 2:21

Third Quarter
B - Jordan Henderson 8 pass from D.J. Crook (kick failed) 8:35
P - Walsh 6 run (Tavernelli kick) 5:31
B - Henderson 9 pass from Crook (pass failed) 4:22
P - Zach Zaniboni 48 run (Tavernelli kick) 3:26

Fourth Quarter
B - Henderson 3 pass from Crook (pass failed) 4:00
P - Merritt 30 run (kick failed) 2:11

What We Learned: Week 7

October, 25, 2010
10/25/10
1:41
PM ET


It was a weekend of wild finishes and even wilder individual performances, and now we're trying to make sense of it all. Here's to the week that was...

TROJANS SHOW GRIT

Dan Buron’s Bridgewater-Raynham team might have been the only concerned parties who truly believed they had a chance to knock off Xaverian on Friday.

It had been a mixed bag so far for the Trojans (5-2) who prior to their 21-19 overtime win over the Hawks had yet to win a game over an opponent that had a winning record. B-R had also incurred losses to D-IIA powers Duxbury and Plymouth North.

But let Friday’s performance be a warning to all as to how dangerous the Trojans can be.

“I told them all week long, only the guys in this room, on this football field, think we have a shot and I said if you don’t think we have a shot don’t come out with me,” Buron told The Enterprise of Brockton. “I go out to win every game.

“I told them when we came out, if you play as a team, we’ve got a shot tonight. If you play as individuals, and run around, we won’t have a shot against this team.

However, like any good football coach, Buron also warded off any question as to what the win over Xaverian meant; it was just that, a win.

“It was just a great victory for the program, but it doesn’t mean anything because we start league play next week and win or lose it doesn’t mean a thing,” Buron went on to say in The Enterprise recap. “All it does is give us confidence. Hopefully, we can use this as a catalyst to get ready for the regular season (league play).”

The Trojans host Dartmouth on Friday in their first Old Colony League contest. B-R then welcomes Barnstable — which has already pocketed two league wins after slipping by Taunton over the weekend — in what should be a make-or-break game for the OCL’s playoff berth.

PANTHERS HAVE BITE

It’s not as though Holliston isn’t accustomed to putting large results on the board, but the Panthers simply looked a little more focused entering Friday night’s game at Norton.

“We had really good week of practice and it showed,” Holliston head coach Todd Kiley said after Friday’s 42-0 win.

That sentiment has particularly rung true with the Panthers since their Week 4 loss to Medway. Since then, Holliston has picked itself up by the boot straps. Following the 28-16 loss to the Mustangs, the Panther’s attack, which has averaged 42 points per game, has put results of 42, 50 and 42 points, respectively, on the board in the last three weeks.

So it’s clear the upset at the hands of Medway has been a motivating factor.

“If anything, it made us hungrier to want to get back to the top,” Panthers quarterback Sean Mayo told ESPN Boston’s Scott Barboza. “After being the TVL champs last year, we wanted to act like that tonight. We wanted to play well and we did.

“We just want to keep getting better, get back to the playoffs and go for another TVL championship.”

And with their win over the Lancers, Holliston has put itself back in position to do so as the top four Tri-Valley League teams now stand at 6-1 with the league playoffs set to kick off in two weeks.

Certainly, Norton would like another chance to prove they’re the TVL’s top team when it really counts.

A FEW GOOD BREAKS

The animosity between bordering rivals Abington and Rockland goes deep -- decades deep -- and so Rockland running back and captain Mike Driscoll recalled the back and forth with a half-dozen friends from a town over with delight, all week.

"This rivalry is unbelievable," Driscoll said. "We were all shooting texts back and forth all week, having fun with each other. To come out and see these guys, I feel...God goes out to them. They still have a shot, though."

The Bulldogs were more than happy to escape with a win, and take sole possession of first place in the South Shore League, with a 21-12 comeback win over their archrivals. Abington held the Bulldogs to minus-12 yards of offense on six plays in the first half, but could not solve them over the game's final 15 minutes, as Rockland exploded for 235 yards and 21 unanswered points.

With time winding down in the fourth quarter, Rockland's D.J. Austin threw a flare pass into the left flat that took a backwards skip, and Abington's Dylan Pietresak pounced on the loose ball and marched 50 yards to paydirt. However, the play had been blown dead at the spot of the incompletion. Local announcers Shawn Reilly and Kevin Whalen screamed in disagreeance with the call, and it didn't help that two plays later, backup quarterback Ricky Witt came in and promptly tossed the 52-yard game-winning bomb, a wide-open strike to Tim Fitzgerald.

Asked about the call, Rockland head coach Ken Owen channeled his inner Gregg Popovich.

"The referee blew it dead, OK?" Owen deadpanned. "Next question."

But let's not totally put this on the officiating. Holding a lead late in the fourth quarter, the Green Wave had some breakdowns in the secondary. And with time winding down and half of the field to go, they should have done a better job anticipating a deep strike.

MIDDIES IN FIFTH GEAR

Any questions about Dracut's capability to put points on the board have to be shunned at this point. Last Friday, the Middies traveled to Chelmsford to take on one of the area's best defenses and promptly hung 42 on them in a dominating win. Since starting the season 0-2, they've won five straight and averaged 41.9 points per game, including 60 over Billerica. The triggerman? Who else but Matt Silva, a scrawny 170-pounder whose violent running style often leaves him limping and bracing after games. But he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I want the ball in my hands at all times," Silva told ESPNBoston's Neil Carroll. "I’m the quarterback. If I make a mistake it's my fault, if I throw an interception it's my fault, if I get sacked it's my fault."

The Middies' defense, which is allowing nearly 27 points, remains a quandary. Only Tewksbury failed to score at least three touchdowns, in a 35-14 loss two weeks ago. A trip to Andover this week before meetings with Lawrence and Haverhill should give us a better idea of Dracut's ability in that area, before they head into their Thanksgiving matchup with Methuen, a team that has eaten run defenses alive at several points this season.

EAGLES ON PERCH FOR NOW

After dealing Falmouth its first loss of the season, 28-7, Plymouth North seized the moment, climbing to the top of the Atlantic Coast League.

However, things are still wide open.

“We have three league games left and every week you play for controlling your own destiny,” Eagles head coach Dwayne Follette told correspondent Brian Fabry on Friday. “We talked [last season's loss] up, but this was a big enough game that we didn't need the extra motivation.

While Plymouth North assumes the perch for now, the road to the ACL title will likely run through Dennis-Yarmouth, as both the Eagles and Clippers still have yet to play the Dolphins. Looking beyond the aforementioned, Marshfield (although they stand at 3-4 overall) also could still get in the fray, if they take care of business against Falmouth this weekend.

Additionally, Friday’s loss could prove a bit more costly for Falmouth if the injury to Clippers running back Nelson Baptiste, sustained during the upset against Plymouth North, has any long-term implications. That is a situation that also bears watching.

HEAD OF THE CLASS

VALVOLINE PEAK PERFORMER OF THE WEEK: BEN PATRICK, SR. RB, RIVERS
The Roxbury resident torched Milton Academy for 325 yards on 26 carries and six touchdowns, both school records, in a 69-40 shootout win Saturday night at Milton High School. Through five games, the 5-foot-9 senior has rushed for at least 200 yards in every game, and piled up 1,162 yards on 112 carries for an average of 10.3 yards a carry. With the performance, Patrick has now clinched 5-0 Rivers its first winning season since 1982. But with these kinds of performances each week from Patrick and his cousin Taariq Allen (718 yards of offense), the Red Wings are thinking NEPSAC Bowls.

THE CLASSMATES

Chris Coady, Jr. RB/LB, BB&N - The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior carried 31 times for 284 yards in a 21-14 win over Groton School.

Brett Kidik, Sr. QB, Bishop Fenwick - In a record-setting day, Kidik threw for 389 yards and six touchdowns in the Crusaders' 44-40 win over Archbishop Williams.

Connor Reardon, Jr. RB, Littleton - Reardon carried the day for the Tigers, carrying the ball 23 times for 232 yards and four touchdowns in a 39-26 shootout win over Bay Path.

Oshane McCreath, Jr. RB, Malden - McCreath ran for 260 yards and four touchdowns in a 36-7 win over Cambridge that improved the Golden Tornadoes to 3-4.

Kyle Murray, Jr. RB, Mashpee - In a 41-12 win over Carver, Murray carved up the defense to the tune of 239 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.

Quinton Perkins, Jr. ATH, Fitchburg - The speedy junior showed off his wheels in a variety of ways in the Red Raiders' 38-19 win over Shrewsbury. Perkins accumulated 239 all-purpose yards and scored in four different ways -- running, receiving, passing and a fumble recovery.

Melquan Pinkney, Sr. RB, Springfield Putnam - Pinkney dominated Ludlow in a 46-6 win last Friday, totaling 270 yards and four touchdowns. Even more impressive, he racked up 192 yards on five carries in the first quarter.

Mike Ozella, Sr. RB, Medway - Ozella turned in another strong performance for the Mustangs, rushing for 207 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-6 win over Hopkinton.

Matt Silva, Sr. QB, Dracut - The tough-minded senior would not be stopped in Friday's 42-21 win over Chelmsford, completig 12 of 19 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns, and carrying 13 times for 100 yards and two more scores.

Ben Ticknor, Sr. RB, Milton Academy - Ticknor was strong in his own right in the Mustangs' 69-40 loss to Rivers, carrying 21 times for 341 yards and five touchdowns, including a run of 94 yards.

Plymouth North shocks No. 7 Clippers

October, 23, 2010
10/23/10
12:29
AM ET


PLYMOUTH, Mass. -– Plymouth North head coach Dwayne Follette tried to downplay the significance and the motivation behind the win, but senior running back Matt Walsh took it personal.

Under a full moon and a chilly October night with temperatures in the 30s, the No. 22 Blue Eagles shocked No. 7 Falmouth, 28-7, in front of a standing-room only, homecoming crowd and sent the previously unbeaten Clippers' packing in a defining Atlantic Coast League battle.

Forced to play their home games at rival Plymouth South's field a few miles away due to construction, the defense didn't seem to care as they held Falmouth to 11 yards on only 13 plays from scrimmage in the first half alone.

Walsh finished with 102 of the 174 rushing yards for the Eagles on 16 carries and was referring to last season's 41-0 rout at the hands of Falmouth when he said the seniors wanted to “punch them in the mouth” with a victory. With the win, Plymouth North (5-2, 2-0) remains unbeaten in league play and with a 15-0 win last week over the defending league champion Marshfield, this victory puts the Eagles' at the head of the pack with three winnable league games left on the schedule.

“Every time I got the ball there were holes everywhere, it wasn't just one hole at a time,” Walsh said. “[Assistant] Coach [Carl] Freyemuth told us this was a big game and we were hyped up beating Marshfield and we knew coming in we needed at least two turnovers and I think we got more then that.”
[+] EnlargePlymouth North vs. Falmouth
Brian Fabry for ESPNBostonMatt Walsh rumbles in for the first of his two touchdown runs in Plymouth North's 28-7 upset win over Falmouth on Friday.

The Plymouth North defense caused six turnovers overall converting the first three Clippers' miscues into touchdowns in the first two quarters of play.

Plymouth North (5-2, 2-0) was staked to a 14-0 lead in the first 8:43 of play as the Eagles cashed in two forced fumbles for touchdown on Falmouth's first two series. The two turnovers set up Plymouth North with great field position, with the first opportunity coming at the Clippers' 24-yard line after a Mike Cahill fumble recovery.

After two Walsh rushes got Plymouth North to the 11-yard line, quarterback Cody Merritt scored on an 11-yard keeper right up the middle of the Falmouth defense. Falmouth's Jonah Olsen burst off the right end untouched and blocked Vinny Tavernelli's extra point attempt to hold the score at 6-0.

But the momentum never changed as on the very next series, the Clippers' second fumble was on the ground on only the second play from scrimmage. This set up the Eagles' with even better field position inside the red zone at the Falmouth 14-yard line.

Last week's offensive star Zach Zaniboni was credited with the recovery and four plays later, Matty Walsh scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns from two yards out and then Merritt converted the two-point conversion on a swing pass to Walsh for the 14-0 lead.

“We haven't been getting many turnovers and we got a lot of turnovers tonight and we turned them into scores, so it was great we executed,” Eagles head coach Dwayne Follette said. “The defense played awesome again but our offense played real well tonight, got some big plays, and turned the short fields into scores and that was the difference.”

After the two teams exchanged three-and-outs, Merritt turned around to the defensive side of the ball and picked off the Clippers' Dillon Mansfield at the start of the second quarter to set up the third Eagles' score.

The Eagles methodically ate up over nine-plus minutes of the second half on a 12-play drive – not including a spinning 27-yard run from Zaniboni that was negated on a holding call - that culminated on a fourth-and-one plunge from Walsh with only 50 seconds left before the half. As the teams dispersed for halftime, Plymouth North was firmly in control, 21-0.

“We had a good week of practice and everyone was on key,” Walsh added. “We played hard the whole game we didn't give up and we gave it all we could”.

The nightmare continued for Falmouth (5-1, 1-1) as they coughed up the ball on their next two possessions of the second half and lost two-sport star Nelson Baptiste to an undisclosed injury before the second stanza started.

Plymouth North smelled blood in the water as Zaniboni had his second fumble recovery and the fifth Falmouth turnover turned into a picture-perfect hook and ladder between Merritt and Liam Cosgrove with the final pitch going to Bobby Savoia for the 32-yard touchdown.

Before Falmouth knew the second half whistle was fired off, the Eagles offense posted 28 unanswered points with 9:08 remaining in the third quarter.

Olsen took it upon himself to ruin a second consecutive Atlantic Coast League shutout for the Eagles with a 40-yard scamper on a sweep to the right as he outran four would be tacklers with 9:03 remaining in regulation.

Said Follette: “We have three league games left and every week you play for controlling your own destiny. We talked (last season's loss) up, but this was a big enough game that we didn't need the extra motivation, but [Falmouth head coach] Steve [Femino] is a great guy, he addressed our team [post-game], he's a class act but we won –- we played the better game”.

Falmouth goes back over the Sagamore Bridge to lick their wounds in anticipation of next week's battle with Marshfield, which will essentially knock one of the two ACL powerhouses out of contention for this year's Division 2A Super Bowl playoffs. Plymouth North goes on the road to face non league foe, Barnstable, in a tune up for the remainder of the league schedule.

The rest of the schedule includes road games against Sandwich and the always dangerous Dennis-Yarmouth before the season-ending tilt with in-town rival Plymouth South at the annual Thanksgiving Day battle.

FALMOUTH (5-1) 0 0 0 7 -- 7
PLYMOUTH NORTH (5-2) 14 7 7 0 -- 28


PN – Cody Merritt 11 run (kick blocked)
PN – Matty Walsh 2 run (Walsh from Merritt)
PN – Walsh 1 run (Vinny Tavernelli kick)
PN – Bobby Savoia 32 pass from Merritt (Tavernelli kick)
FA – Jonah Olsen 40 run (Tyrone Reine kick)

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