Boston High School: Efrain Montalvo

Recap: Leominster 21, St. John's (S) 6

December, 3, 2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –- Leominster did more than simply win a Super Bowl championship, Saturday, at Gillette Stadium.

The Blue Devils forged a place in history, too.

They did all of that in one fell swoop with their 21-6 triumph over St. John's Shrewsbury, to claim the Central Massachusetts Division 1 crown.

It is Leominster's 11th Super Bowl title, tying it with Brockton for the most football championships in state history.
No small achievement, considering that the Pioneers dropped their first three games of this season.

“It means everything,” said running back Geraldo Rivera, who rushed for 81 yards and a third quarter touchdown on 17 carries. “We went from 0-3 to 10-3. That basically sums up everything.”

Said junior quarterback, Garrett DelleChiaie, who was unaware of the historical significance, “Really? That feels great. Now we've got something to defend next year.”

The Blue Devils took to the air -– if somewhat unconventionally –- to build up a 14-0 halftime advantage.

The first strike came with 1:38 left in the first quarter on a halfback option pass from sophomore Neil O'Connor to his brother Kevin, a senior.

Neil O'Connor took a left side lateral from quarterback Garrett DellChiaie, then hit Kevin in full stride as he streaked down the left sideline behind the Pioneer secondary.

St. John's sought to respond on its next possession, and drove to the Leominster 27.

However that drive was halted when Kevin O'Connor, playing safety on defense, picked off St. John's quarterback Connor Kurtz at the 5.

The Blue Devils proceeded to grind out a 19-play, 95 yard drive that culminated with a 4 yard strike from DelleChiaie to tight end Daniel Curley, with 6 seconds to play in the half.

The Pioneers were primed to pull themselves back into the game, early in the third quarter, when they drove to the Leominster 2.
But on fourth and goal, the snap from center sailed over Kurtz's head, ending that threat.

Soon after, the Blue Devils put the game away, using Rivera's 14 yard burst to make it 21-0.

St. John's lone score came on the opening play of the first quarter, a 17 yard strike from Kurtz to Efrain Montalvo.

“This is amazing,” said Kevin O'Connor. “I've never felt anything better in my life.”

Giving thanks for the big play: It was perhaps the biggest play of the day for Leominster, of many that made up its 21-6 Super Bowl win over St. John's.

Indeed there's no question that the 44 touchdown pass from halfback Neil O'Connor to his brother Kevin that in the first quarter gave the Blue Devils both the lead and a huge boost to the psyche.

“That was the greatest feeling,” said DelleChiaie.

As plays go, this was one you couldn't draw up in the dirt.

In fact, with all of its moving parts, the option -- dubbed “Thanksgiving Day” by Blue Devils coach Dave Palazzi -- was as complicated as it gets.

It started with a fake handoff by DelleChiaie to Rivera, followed by the well-placed lateral to Neil O'Connor, then followed by the perfect strike to Kevin.

“It was kind of a crazy play,” said Neil. “But it was a good one. It worked.”

Said Kevin, “It's designed to look like a screen, so I just jog. Then make a sharp cut once (Neil has) the ball.

“We've worked on it a lot in practice. And to tell you the truth, that's the best of all the times we've run it.”

It might not have been run at all if the play had been unveiled when it was supposed to be, during the Thanksgiving rivalry game (hence the name) with Fitchburg.

However, circumstances intervened, which allowed the Blue Devils to dust it off for the Super Bowl.

The timing couldn't have been better.

And for that, Leominster can give “thanks”.

Mistaken Identity? It's said that you can't the players without a program. However instead of wearing jersey No. 1 as he is listed, Rivera pulled on No. 23.

It wasn't a matter of trying to confuse the Shrewsbury defense.

Instead, the explanation was a little more practical.

“It ripped completely,” said Rivera, “and I never got anyone to sew it.”

Leominster 21, St. John's (Shrewsbury) 6
L (10-3) 6 8 7 0 – 21
S (8-5) 0 0 0 6 – 6

First quarter
L – Kevin O’Connor 44-yard reception from Neil O’Connor (kick blocked), 1:38

Second quarter
L – Daniel Curley 4-yard reception from Garrett DelleChiaie (DelleChiaie run), :06

Third quarter
L – Geraldo Rivera 14-yardrun (Ryan Moran kick), 1:52

Fourth quarter
S – Efrain Montalvo 17-yard reception from Connor Kurts (kick no good), 9:53

Recap: No. 8 Xaverian 27, St. John's (S) 9

October, 29, 2011

WESTWOOD, Mass. -– After three straight losses and a subpar first half against St. John’s of Shrewsbury, Xaverian needed a spark in what was turning into a dreary, windy and rainy Saturday.

But the Hawks figured out pretty quickly that maybe the poor weather conditions were the perfect remedy for their offense, as they turned loose a punishing ground attack to rally for a 27-9 win.

The Hawks (5-3) did not pass once in the second half, grinding out 264 yards on 23 attempts in the final 22 minutes and 376 on 40 for the afternoon. Super-sized running backs Hunter Taute (6-2, 240) and Mo Hurst (6-2, 265) finished with 266 of those yards and senior athlete Chris Calvanese added another 83 while picking off a pass on defense.

“It was huge to build our confidence up a little bit today and it was a big game from that standpoint,” Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said. “I think coming out in the first half, maybe that was why we were stumbling a little bit because we had lost our confidence. It took a little bit of time for us to regain our confidence.

“We talked about it at halftime. We wanted to really establish the run game in the second half and of course the weather sort of added to the necessity to do that kind of a thing. I thought our offensive line and our big running backs kind of picked it up in the second half. We really ran the ball very nicely against them.”

St. John’s (4-4) probably wouldn’t agree that Xaverian’s run game was very nice. Quite the opposite, the Hawks pushed around the Pioneers and scored on pure, straight-forward isolations, traps and tosses and St. John’s just couldn’t stop it.

Hurst and Calvanese added two short scoring runs in the third quarter before Hurst made an early “Run of the Year” nomination with a 75-yarder down the home sideline that effectively put the game away in the fourth quarter.

With that, Xaverian's outlook felt a lot sunnier, and just in time, too. Xaverian defensive coordinator Al Fornaro said outside the postgame huddle, "Playoffs start this week," as the Hawks resume Catholic Conference play with a trip to BC High.

Big Mo in the form of Big Mo: When the Hawks put the ball in Hurst’s hands, there’s a palpable rush of adrenaline that runs through the Xaverian sidelines. Also one of the top defensive tackles in the area, Hurst has nimble feet as a ballcarrier and brings a forearm shiver to opposing tacklers. Once he got into the secondary on his 75-yard score, those behind him weren’t catching him and those in front of him weren’t capable of bringing him down. With him and Taute, Xaverian can set the tone on the ground in a way that few teams in the area can hold up to.

Touting Taute: As good as Taute was running the ball Saturday, he’s probably an even better linebacker and certainly one of the most important players on the field for the Hawks. With the graduation of linebackers like Chris Tamasi and Zack Bartlett, Xaverian needed Taute to step in and immediately fill a huge void in that unit. He has done so this year admirably. Possessing a quick first step, a good nose for the ball and good tackling form, he is the centerpiece to an improving defense in Westwood.

Marvelous Montalvo: While the Xaverian offense found its rhythm in the second half, the Pioneers had a consistent threat all game in senior Efrain Montalvo, who caught five passes for 136 yards. The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder also had a 50-yard kickoff return wiped out by a penalty. Despite his small stature, the speedy Montalvo battles for the ball when it’s thrown to him, possesses excellent hands and an ability to make defenders miss in open space. There aren’t a lot of corners in the area capable of shutting him down.


SJS (4-4) 2 7 0 0 --– 9
XAV (5-3) 0 6 14 7 --- 27

First quarter
S – Safety (Patrick Ryan tackle)

Second quarter
X – Chris Calvanese 14 run (pass failed)
S – Shadrach Abrokwah 5 run (Patrick Merrill kick)

Third quarter
X – Mo Hurst 2 run (Jules Murphy kick)
X – Calvanese 1 run (Murphy kick)

Fourth quarter
X – Hurst 75 run (Murphy kick)

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.”

Football recap: No. 9 SJS 22, Holy Name 21

September, 10, 2011

WORCESTER, Mass. -- David went down this time versus Goliath.

Anthony Hodges couldn't bear to talk about the game with a straight face. Doused in sweat, the Holy Name wide receiver fought back tears from underneath his helmet, his gaze directed at his feet.

The scoreboard read 22-21 with time expired, the Naps' rival No. 9 St. John's of Shrewsbury had once again gotten the best of them. It was the same result as it's always been during the last quarter century of the one-sided rivalry, but none of the near capacity crowd at Assumption College will soon forget the gut exhibited by the Holy Name sideline.

"We're a smaller team, but we can play against anybody," said Hodges, a senior. "They can have as many players as they want, but we have players that have heart."

The Naps (0-1) list 26 players on their varsity roster, two of which are freshmen. Compared to the 49 the Pioneers (1-0) carry, many of whom play on just one side of the ball, the mere numbers game handedly favors St. John's. When considering Holy Name lost three of its top players to dehydration during the course of Saturday's game, the Naps had no business being in the game until the last minute of the fourth quarter against a bigger, skilled opponent of St. John's ilk.

Still, there they were, one two-point conversion away from stealing the biggest upset of the young high school football season.

"It was a 44-minute game, that's what you get when you play Holy Name," Pioneers head coach John Andreoli said. "They're a solid, physical team. They have a lot of guys going both ways, but they hung in there for a long time. I give our guys a lot of credit because there were a lot of opportunities in that game to let it get away from us."

The Naps moved to within a point of St. John's with 3:26 to play after Hodges hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Seamus O'Sullivan.

After the touchdown, Holy Name head coach Mike Pucko was playing for the win with a two-point conversion. Running back Quron Wright reached the end zone unscathed, however, a holding penalty wiped out the successful try and pushed the Naps back 10 yards. Holy Name's second attempt at two points was denied with a pass from O'Sullivan falling incomplete at the goal line.

"After the first half, the kids were beat," Pucko said. "We tried icing them down and we knew we were in for a rough second half. But they hung together. They hung together and they played well. They helped each other out. The young kids filling in were learning new positions on the fly, coaches have been doing their jobs through the first three weeks because these kids who haven't played high school football before were playing the No. 1 team in the area and they did their jobs."

St. John's ran out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to two rushing touchdowns by senior running back Sean Wilson.

The Naps cut the deficit to six by halftime after Wright's rushing score and successful two-point attempt.

Holy Name quickly took the lead to start the second half. Hodges took the opening kickoff back 82 yards for a touchdown, blazing down the left-hand sideline uncontested. The point after try had the Naps up 15-14.

However, the Naps couldn't keep the momentum going, as a couple of costly fumbles and a safety undid the offense late.

A Holy Name fumble recovered by Brendan Melanson set up Wilson's third rushing touchdown of the game for a 20-15 St. John's lead. Melanson left another mark on the Pioneers' victory, dragging down Wright on a carry from the end zone for a safety with 5:32 to play.

The safety proved to be the deciding points of the game.

"I was proud of our defense for digging their heels in the way that they did." Andreoli said.

The Naps had one last chance to tie the score after forcing St. John's three-and-out on its possession following Hodges' receiving touchdown.

Holy Name had the ball back with 31 seconds to play, but Jimmy Andreoli intercepted O'Sullivan's pass over the middle to ice it.

Meanwhile, Hodges tried to compose himself and look toward the brighter side of the loss.

"I feel bad for the next team that has to play us," he said, cracking a smile.

-- Big defensive stops and, in particular, turnovers sparked several of the Pioneers' touchdowns. St. John's defense helped set up the first score of the game when Barron Dandridge intercepted O'Sullivan on a screen pass. "We were certainly expecting a run to his side there," Andreoli said, "so we sent pressure off that edge, but then he read pass, went up and batted the ball. He's just athletic and was able to catch it and get the ball back for us."

-- Pioneers running back Sean Wilson could emerge as a dark horse for ESPN Boston's Mr. Football award. While the St. John's offense might be without D1 talents like Dan Light and Richard Rodgers of last year, Wilson looked as though he'll take on a greater role as a feature back with his 178-yard performance on 26 carries in the win. Running behind a hulking offensive line anchored by left guard Ryan Anger will help his cause. "I told him before the start of the game that I was excited to watch him get his senior year started," Andreoli said. "He's worked awful hard in the offseason He's become a terrific two-way player for us. He's a football player. He loves to be on the field, he doesn't want to come off the field. And, when he's on the field, he makes plays."

-- About that Pioneers running game. Part of what makes it hard to defend is St. John's spread attack. Even with junior quarterback Connor Kurtz under center, the Pioneers can air it out (even with Efrain Montalvo out with an injury on Saturday). However, with Wilson possessing the toughness to run between tackles and the speed to cut it to the outside, St. John's trap blocking schemes present problems for opposing defenses. "We were more concerned about all the play-action passes and the quick screens," Pucko said. "We thought our four down linemen would be able to handle it, but they couldn't They were trapping them and doing some different things. Our linebackers got test and by the second half, they'd figured it out, made some adjustments and played much better in the second half."

-- And back to those fallen Naps. Three Holy Name players were taken to UMass Medical Center with dehydration, including a severe case with Sean Zuromsky, who was lifted off the field into an ambulance after a 20-minute delay in the fourth quarter. As the Naps' ranks thinned, however, Pucko was able to find new-found depth. "We had a freshman at corner in the second half that did a great job. We moved some kids in the [defensive] backfield, [including] our quarterback, They were a little big and physical for us, so we had to throw the ball a little more than we normally do, but we had a lot of kids step up and show that they can play football." How's that for modesty? Credit is also due to Pucko's staff (which is small in its own right) for having the youngsters ready and able to fill in at a moment's notice. No small task this early in the season.

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

Scrimmage Slants: Brockton vs. St. John's (S)

August, 27, 2011

WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Brockton coach Peter Colombo had one message for his team following its impressive showing in a scrimmage with Central Massachusetts powerhouse St. John’s of Shrewsbury, at Xaverian High.

“Keep this in perspective. It was a scrimmage,” said the coach of the preseason No. 5 team in the state. “I think we know that the sky is the limit this year.”

It certainly looked that way Saturday.

Brockton’s offense scored twice in its four plays and -- from the first string to the end of the depth chart -- the Boxers found the end zone at least once on every possession. The Pioneers moved the ball well in spots but found the end zone just once. While keeping score in a first scrimmage can be taken with a grain of salt, strictly first team against first team, Brockton led, 20-6, and overall it was 42-6. Each team went for two-point conversions after every score.

“You keep it in perspective,” Colombo said. “(The Pioneers) have been real good the last two years, and maybe a little inexperienced this year, which I thought we exploited. But I’m very happy with being in pads two days; the execution was very good. People’s attitudes, we’ve got people people in different positions adjusting. And (our) defense is young but I liked the way they ran to the ball. I thought the hitting was excellent for first day.”

“All around good game: offense; defense. It was just a good game,” said senior Jesse Monteiro, a wide receiver and cornerback. “Everybody stepped it up from the sophomores and the juniors and the seniors. Played as a team, and that’s what you have to do to make it.”

The players seemed to absorb Colombo’s message well.

“Stay humble,” Monteiro said. “Don’t let it get to our heads because we have a lot more work to do. It’s a long journey.”

The first step wasn’t too shabby.

Some other observations:

-- Brockton quarterback Paul Mroz looked superb. At this time last year, the signal-caller wasn’t nearly as patient with his reads and was prone to scrambling before the play fully developed. The senior, who received a waiver earlier this month to return to the team and is on track to graduate in January, went through his progressions and found the open receiver, spreading the ball around evenly to his weapons.

“The offensive line did a great job,” Mroz said. “They gave me confidence and if they give me time to throw I think I can make the throws happen.

“All offseason I’ve been working with these (receivers) so I got to adjust to their speeds and the timing on the routes. They do a great job running them.”

His first pass was around a 50-yard completion to Jerrod Shelby to set up a touchdown run by Josh Brewster. After a first-down strike to Monteiro, Mroz kept the ball on a zone read, found the sideline and scored a 60-yard touchdown that was aided by a thunderous block by Shelby on a trailing Pioneer defensive back.

“It was a basic read, read the end,” Mroz said. “He came in, he went with Brewster, so I just went around the whole team and I had good lead blocking on the way there. I saw Bubba (Shelby) the whole way. The defender didn’t even see that one coming.

-- Brewster looks like a capable replacement for departed All-State tailback Trevon Offley, now doing a post-graduate year at Suffield Academy. Brewster, a senior, runs downhill with decisive cuts and has soft hands coming out of the backfield. He finished with two touchdown runs and caught a two-point conversion on a nicely-designed and executed weakside throwback.

“I think Josh could be in the tradition of Brockton High running backs,” Colombo said. “We’ve got to make sure we get the ball in his hands enough because we want to spread it around, be balanced. But still, he’s a weapon that we want to exploit.”

Backups John Gomes and Moise Eduard scored on touchdown drives led by junior quarterbacks Austin Roberts (who also played outside linebacker and slot receiver) and Micah Morel, respectively. Junior Josh Laboard also had a rushing touchdown.

-- Defensively, the Boxers are young and inexperienced, but there is talent. Despite missing starting cornerbacks D.J. Brown and Devante Cartwright for much of the scrimmage, the Boxers made good plays on the ball and only let up one long reception. Morel came up and filled the running lanes well at safety. An all-junior linebacking corps of Eduard, Johashy Cornely, Ryan Kelley and Roberts was stout inside the tackle box with Eduard coming up with one of the biggest hits of the day on a third-and-short at midfield. Juniors Jeff Celestin, Malik Cooley-Walker, Anthony Davis and senior Giovanni Hyppolite held their own against a big and physical St. John’s offensive line. The backups also played well up front, as junior defensive tackle Rodney Thomas swallowed up a play in the backfield on the last defensive series.

-- For St. John’s, an always-good offensive line got better when senior Ethan Borchelt came out for football for the first time and won the starting left tackle job. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, the Pioneers found good yardage running to his side. Borchelt, who rows crew and plays basketball, has room to fill out his long frame and shows good technique for a first-year varsity player. The offensive line will be even better once junior Michael Marto (6-3, 280) returns to the lineup.

“It was the first full contact (Borchelt’s) had other than in a controlled camp-type structure and practice,” said St. John’s coach John Andreoli. “But just in terms of getting his body where it needed to be and keeping his lower half down lot and walling guys off, he did a pretty good job. We were very pleased with what he did and I think he’s going to keep getting better. So he’s going to be somebody to watch.”

-- St. John's senior captain Brendan Melanson, a returning starter at center, has transitioned well into taking over an inside linebacker spot.

“I kind of had some butterflies going into this game, how I was going to do,” he said. “Basically it was an easy move. I feel like coach ‘A’ is great to learn from. He’s got so much knowledge. So I feel like it’s been an easy switch. I think I did pretty well today but I definitely have something to move on from and learn from.”

-- The battle for the Pioneers' starting quarterback job is between junior Connor Kurtz and sophomore Andrew Smiley. Kurtz led the Pioneers on their only touchdown drive with a nice pass down the seam to Drew Ortone for a big gain that helped set up a short touchdown run by senior Sean Wilson. No matter who wins the job, he will have a deep and talented group of runners to hand the ball to. Efrain Montalvo is a speedy slot receiver who picked up good yardage on jet sweeps, while junior Shadrack Abrokwah and freshmen Devon Jones and Taquar Stewart also had nice long gains.

“Sean Wilson just ran with a lot of pop today,” Andreoli said. “He was delivering blows and making nice cuts. Efrain Montalvo: he’s a 4.4 guy legitimately and he has some really nice hips and can get in the open field really quick...And those freshmen - Devan and Taquar - they’ve got a fourth and fifth gear. They have a natural ability to run the ball and get to the open area. Those were a couple hit-and-spins that were pretty impressive today.

“We’ve got a lot to do. But we saw some really good things today.”

ESPN Boston's Preseason All-State Team

August, 22, 2011
Below is our Preseason MIAA All-State Football Team, along with some other players to watch. Returning All-Staters are bolded.


QB – Nick LaSpada, Sr., Billerica
QB – Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr., Everett
QB – Brandon Walsh, Sr., North Andover
RB – Andrew Coke, Sr., Andover
RB – Preston Cooper, Sr., BC High
RB – George Craan, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
RB – Sacoy Malone, Sr., Springfield Central
TE – Jameson McShea, Sr., BC High
TE – Lucas Bavaro, Jr., St. John’s Prep
WR – Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr., Weymouth
WR – Efrain Montalvo, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
WR – Don Webber, Sr., Duxbury
WR – A.J. Baker, Sr., Swampscott
OL – Tyler Loring, Sr., Catholic Memorial
OL – Peter Salem, Sr., Dracut
OL – Ryan Anger, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
OL – T.J. Leeman, Sr., Andover
OL – John Montelus, Jr., Everett
ATH – Armani Reeves, Sr., Catholic Memorial
ATH – Karl Sery, Sr., Hudson
K – Jules Murphy, Sr., Xaverian


DL – Ralph Jonathas, Sr., Everett
DL – Dino Hyppolite, Sr., Brockton
DL – Brendan Battles-Santos, Sr., Nauset
DL – Brett Harrington, Sr., Chelmsford
LB – Tim Joy, Sr., Chelmsford
LB – Max McDaniel, Sr., Lexington
LB – Vondell Langston, Sr., Everett
LB – Max Randall, Sr., Duxbury
LB – Buck McCarthy, Sr., Everett
LB – Camren Williams, Sr., Catholic Memorial
DB – Jesse Monteiro, Sr., Brockton
DB – Reilly Naton, Sr., Duxbury
DB – Casey DeAndrade, Sr., East Bridgewater
DB – Obi Melifonwu, Sr., Grafton
RET – Chucky Ortiz, Sr., Woburn

Watch List:
Chris Burke, Sr. LB, Gloucester
Drew Burnett, Sr. QB, Needham
Chris Calvanese, Sr. QB, Xaverian
Luke Catarius, Jr. LB, BC High
D.J. Crook, Sr. QB, Barnstable
A.J. Doyle, Sr. QB, Catholic Memorial
Donovan Henry, Sr. RB/DB, Catholic Memorial
Kurt Hunziker, Sr. RB/LB, Masconomet
Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr. DL, Xaverian
Damion Johnson, Sr. WR, Dennis-Yarmouth
Matt King, Sr. RB/LB, Scituate
Jake Lazarus, Sr. QB, Longmeadow
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth
Paul Mroz, Sr. QB, Brockton
Terry Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow
Chuddy Nwachukwu, Jr. OL, Dighton-Rehoboth
Marcus Odiah, Jr. RB, Burlington
Matt O’Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury
Quinton Perkins, Sr. RB, Fitchburg
Joe Previte, Jr. OL/DL, Brockton
Bartley Regan, Sr. QB, BC High
Charles Ruffin, Sr. RB, King Philip
Nick Schlatz, Sr. RB/LB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Mike Walsh, Sr. QB/S, Swampscott

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