Now that the dust has settled on Week 3 of the Massachusetts football schedule, here’s what we learned from this weekend’s action:
OK, so we were slightly wrong about Xaverian...
Turns out our friends at the Boston newspapers had it right and we had this No. 1-2 thing in the wrong order. Xaverian, on the heels of a 23-20 double overtime instant classic over Brockton, is our new No. 1.
But differences aside, we've all agreed that, man oh man, last Saturday's showdown at the Hawk Bowl was one of the best in the history of the series. And these two teams almost always seem to fight to a seven-point win or four-point defensive stalemate.
The Boxers have plenty of hype this season, and rightly so with the likes of Miami-bound Albert Louis-Jean joined by fellow seniors Ralph Cherry, Paul Mroz, William Carruthers, Trevon Offley and Jacques Janvier. But the Hawks showed plenty of toughness in the win. Junior quarterback Chris Calvanese fought through cramps to orchestrate the comeback win, delivering the game-tying pass to Mike Muir -- who, a few plays prior, separated his shoulder and popped it back in.
Hey, who said Xaverian kids aren't tough?
...But when healthy, Brockton's Trevon Offley is a bull to take down
Mahar's Isaiah Jones put it ever so simply last week in our Q&A: "My coach always says squatting is going to do everything for you."
It's clear after last weekend that the 5-foot-6 Offley abides by a similar mantra. And, as All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew demonstrates every Sunday, leg power with a low center of gravity is a vicious combination.
From the second quarter on, Offley was just a chore to take down. Just when the Hawks had him for a 5-yard loss, he'd rip through an arm tackle, sidestep and shimmy his way back out to the line of scrimmage and then some. Other times, he'd keep his legs churning and drag the pile for an extra two or three yards. Offley, who carried the rock 19 times for 117 yards and all three of Brockton's scores in the loss, had been out with a shoulder injury since the first half of the Boxers' 16-6 season-opening win over Boston College High. But when he's healthy, he's as reliable as they come.
Methuen's offensive line kicks out and kicks off?
Methuen quarterback Cal Carroll emerged as one of the region's toughest playmakers with the Rangers' 36-26 stunner of No. 9 Billerica, but just as impressive was his offensive line. Since losing to Plymouth North, 13-7, in Week One, the guys in the trenches have been blowing teams off the ball. A week and a half ago, they took it to Malden's massive defensive line in the second half en route to a 42-12 win. Last Friday, the guys paved the way to over 200 yards on the ground against the Indians.
Led by seniors Steve DiZazzo and Dan Cormier on the left side, the Rangers' line might not always be the biggest, but they proved that when on the same page, they can bang heads with anybody on a given night.
"Our o-line, they're tough, man," senior wide receiver Raudy Minaya said. "They hit hard, they hit every single play, and we get extra yards. That last (Carroll carry), we got the first down with ease and Cal got the touchdown, that's because of our o-line. We never give up. Up seven, doesn't matter, we need to get up the field and get the first down, and we ended up getting a touchdown with it."
Said head coach Pat Graham, "Offensive line-wise, it was essential to control the clock and to be able to run the ball, and I think our kids did a good job with that."
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Cormier, by the way, has an impressive right leg. After Eric LaCroix kicks the extra point, the Rangers line up in a standard five-and-five kickoff formation, and some may be surprised to see Cormier raising his hand to the officials. But Cormier's got quite the boot, as he routinely blasted it to around the Billerica 5-yard line Friday night, with plenty of hang time.
Gloucester is really that good...so far, at least
Andover, coming off a 38-13 drubbing by the Fishermen, hung 39 points on MVC Small dark horse Tewksbury last Friday, which makes one wonder: just how good is Gloucester?
The Fish's defense, led by linebacker Chris Unis, was touted as a wagon before the team even started up their famous annual summer beach training regimen. The first unit hasn't allowed more than a score from opponents. Meanwhile, the Gilbert Brown-led offense has been explosive, averaging 38.3 points per game.
The rest of the Northeastern Conference, however, hasn't been sitting idly. Revere, led by bulldozing tailback Trae Weathers, is 3-0 for the first time in a while. Cross-town rivals Lynn Classical and Lynn English have also proven adequate to start the season, too.
We'll find out next month how capable the rest of the NEC Large contenders are of unseating the defending Division 1A Super Bowl champs, but for now we'll enjoy the ride.
Key EAC matchups could have bearing on December
Yeah, it’s a little premature, but we can’t help but wonder how a couple of this weekend’s Eastern Athletic Conference games might impact the long-term playoff picture in Division III.
There was a battle of unbeatens on Slocum Road in Dartmouth with Somerset traveling to meet Bishop Stang. The Blue Raiders rolled to a convincing 43-13 win over Stang, riding running backs Jaron Spear and Seth DeMello, who combined for five rushing touchdowns.
Meanwhile, heading north along Rte. 140, Martha’s Vineyard took care of business against Coyle-Cassidy. The Vineyarders escaped with a 41-32 win over the Warriors thanks to quarterback Randall Jette’s 192 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
While it appears that Somerset and the Vineyard control their own destinies in the EAC, we’ll see if Bishop Feehan has anything to say in the situation. It’s hard to figure what the Shamrocks have after losses to Attleboro, No. 18 North Attleborough and Abington — three quality teams. Feehan has two more games out conference, including next week’s out-of-state matchup with Barrington (R.I.), before hosting C-C.
“This is a tough division,” Somerset head coach Nick Freitas said Saturday after his team’s win.
He continued, “Hopefully, we just remain healthy. I think that will be the key.”
Blue Raiders quarterback Alex Ledoux left the game to an injury during the second quarter of Saturday’s game. At the time, Freitas didn’t have information on the severity of Ledoux’s injury.
What was clear was the Blue Raiders’ statement made on the field.
Playing with heavy hearts
Friday night’s Hockomock game between Attleboro and Franklin almost was for not.
Attleboro’s school community woke Friday morning to the news that senior Myles Brastow had died in a motorcycle accident. Hours before the game administrators and coached from the representative schools huddled to discuss whether it was appropriate to hold the game in light of Brastow’s death.
“We talked to the administrators and the coaches to see what they wanted to do with the game,” Franklin athletic director and head football coach Brad Sidwell said in a telephone interview on Sunday. “We certainly understood if they wanted to reschedule the game. But they felt that they wanted to try have a sense of normalcy and have the game like any other Friday night.”
The Blue Bombardiers paid homage to their fallen classmate with a dramatic 20-13 win over the Panthers. Attleboro was led by quarterback Nate Robitaille, who was cleared for the game after suffering a concussion during the previous game against King Philip, and running back J.J. Jolaoso. Robitaille march the Blue Bombardiers down the field on the game-winning drive inside the two-minute warning and Jolaoso punched in the winning score on a 7-yard touchdown run.
"It's a tribute to the kids," Attleboro head coach Kevin Deschenes told Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle after the game. "They had a rough day today, and for these young adults to bounce back after a very traumatic day, losing a friend, I thought they responded very well."
The Franklin football community was also dealing with the loss of one of its own. Longtime Panthers head coach Gerry Leone Sr. passed away last week
“He was a legendary part of Franklin football,” Sidwell said. “I know there are even some parents of current players who played for him and I know the lessons taught to them by coach Leone in high school are things that have stayed with them throughout their lives. That’s the kind of man he was.”
HEAD OF THE CLASS
VALVOLINE PEAK PERFORMER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY KNIGHT, SR. RB, LAWRENCE ACADEMY
The North Carolina State-bound Knight kicked off the much-hyped Spartans’ ISL title defense in grand fashion, carrying the ball 14 times for 308 yards and two scores in a 36-14 defeat of Milton Academy. We’ve seen 300-yard games before from schoolboy athletes, but on just 14 carries? That averages out to 22 yards a carry, or essentially a first down every time he touched the ball, so in that regard we’ve got to add a shout-out to his offensive line.
Blaise Branch, Sr. RB, Cardinal Spellman – The 6-foot, 200-pound Branch had three scores on the ground and totaled 201 rushing yards on the day, ironically to give his head coach Ron St. George his 201st win, as the Cardinals rolled to a 35-8 win over Carver.
Andrew Coke, Jr. RB, Andover – Coke accounted for all six of the Warriors’ touchdowns in a 39-32 win over Tewksbury to open MVC play. He rushed 30 times for 214 yards and a school record five touchdowns; was 2 of 2 passing for 28 yards, including a 12-yard scoring strike to Brian Miller; and added 65 return yards for 311 all-purpose yards.
Dylan Colarusso, Sr. RB, Weymouth – He carved quite a name for himself following his performance in Friday’s 41-14 win over Milton, carrying 25 times for 262 yards and three scores.
Dave Dubin, Jr. DE, Holliston – For all of the talk of the Panthers’ offensive weapons, it was Dubin’s work on defense that stood out in the 48-24 win over Millis/Hopedale. He had 11 tackles, including five sacks, and contributed to holding the Mohawks to minus-27 yards of offense in the first half.
Randall Jette, Sr. QB, Martha's Vineyard - Jette captained the Vineyarders' Navy-style option offense with 17 carries for 192 yards and five touchdowns in their 41-32 win over Coyle-Cassidy.
Ben Patrick, Sr. RB, Rivers – The Roxbury resident, who ran for over 900 yards in six games last season, continued his good ways with an impressive ISL debut. He carried 20 times for 269 yards and two scores, and also came up with two interceptions, as the Red Wings downed St. Paul’s, 40-18.
Ben Shelton, Sr. QB, Wayland – The Warriors turned a lot of heads with its stunning 36-7 win over highly-ranked Westford, and Shelton was the catalyst. He was 12 of 17 passing for 209 yards and two touchdowns, and carried the ball 11 times for 97 yards.
Jaron Spear, Sr. RB, Somerset - The Blue Raiders asserted their will on the ground in a 43-13 victory over Bishop Stang and Spear headed the charge with 21 carries for 215 yards and four touchdowns.