Boston High School: George McLaughlin

Recap: Governor's 41, Belmont Hill 14

November, 12, 2011

BYFIELD, Mass. -- The abrupt one-year turnaround at Governor's Academy has come full-circle.

Coming off a 4-4 campaign in 2010 and with a first-year head coach at the reigns, there was some unknown with the Governors in spite of their now-evident talent. But the Governors have merely taken the Independent School League by storm, winning the league outright this afternoon with a 41-14 rout of rival Belmont Hill, in Hillers coach Kevin Fleming's last ISL game after three decades at the helm.

Both the Governors (8-0) and Hillers (7-1) now await the results of tomorrow's NEPSAC Bowl seedings, with the former assured a spot in one of the five games to be played next weekend are various prep schools across New England. Belmont Hill figures to have a good shot as well.

"It's surreal," said junior quarterback Tate Jozokos, a UNC lacrosse commit who totaled 203 yards and four scores. "We have a new coach who's been great for us, and [being] ISL champs was goal we had for ourselves at the beginning of the season. We wanted to play nine games, and now we're going wherever we are."

Said Governors head coach Jim O'Leary said he knew there was some talent when he took over the program last offseason, but was taken aback by the determination of the kids.

"I said, 'Let's set some goals', and one of our captains stands up and goes, 'Coach, there's only one goal -- play nine games'," O'Leary recalled. "I looked them in the eye, and looked around, and they all believed in it. And from day one, that day forward, that's what they worked for.

"They come to practice ready to play, they come to games ready to play, it's just a great atmosphere. Just great kids."

Jozokos, the dual-threat signal-caller from Wolfeboro, N.H., controlled the tempo of this game from outset, and showed why the Governors are considered the league's premier offense. He opened up the afternoon's scoring seven minutes in with a one-yard sneak, set up by the running of junior running back Eli Morrissey (25 carries, 127 yards, 2 TD).

Then in the second quarter, he blew the game open, first connecting with Frank Barba on a 41-yard strike, his only touchdown pass of the game. The 6-foot-5 tight end presents a mismatch problem to many a defense, and head coach Jim O'Leary looked to exploit that, dialing up a deep post route down the left seam; Barba was left in single-coverage, and made the play easily for a 13-0 score (the kick failed).

"We usually do it with a 'blast pass', where we fake it to Eli and then I come around and just settle in, then deliver a pass to Frank," Jozokos said. "You know, 6-6, 6-5, it's an easy target to throw to. So I just threw it up there and hoped for the best, and he brought it down."

After stopping the Hillers on fourth down on the ensuing drive, Jozokos came back with some more nifty playmaking, running of scampers of 18 and 15 to set up a three-yard Morrissey plunge that made it 19-0 (the two-point rush failed).

Belmont Hill snuck in a nifty 45-yard touchdown pass from Connor Murphy to Alfredo Barros just before the half closed, but the Governors came out firing on defense to start the third quarter, led by linebacker Kirk Ryder (sack, interception) and defensive backs A.J. Enchill and Lucas Bombardier.

Morrissey punched in his second rushing touchdown to start the second half scoring, followed by touchdown runs of 17 and 14 by Jozokos to go up 41-7 in the fourth quarter.

Fleming's swan song: It wasn't the ideal way to go out for Belmont Hill head coach Kevin Fleming, who is retiring after three decades at the helm, but he's not going to hang his head -- "I told them I'm proud of them at 7-0, am I going to tell them I'm not proud of 7-1?" he chuckled to reporters.

Asked what he'll miss most about coaching in the ISL, Fleming smiled.

"It's been 40 years, I've been involved in coaching all my life, and athletics all my life," he said. "I think it's a great league to coach in, and I think this game was two schools, last season playing for the championship, so I give them my do."

Culture change: The difference between this year and last? Asked about what O'Leary brought to the table, Jozokos said, "He is just all about football."

"I come in on Sundays, on weekends, and he's watching film," Jozokos said. "Some of the assistant coaches are even like, he's watching film constantly. He's analyzing, and really putting us in the best spot to succeed. He's all into football, and we feed off his energy."

Throughout the fall, we've talked about the lacrosse-football overlap almost ad nauseum when it comes to describing Duxbury's defense. For the Governors, one of the ISL's premier lacrosse programs, there is similar overlap. But where Duxbury utilizes the spread for its lacrosse stars, the Governors may well represent the opposite end of the spectrum.

Getting Jozokos to stretch the edge of the field paid off time and again this afternoon, but the Governors didn't throw a plethora of exotic three-or-four receiver sets at the Hillers. The Governors prefer to utilize their athletes from a mix of shotgun and under-center looks; a number of times, in short yardage and red zone situations, they came out in a "Stack-I" set, with three running backs lining up in the I formation.

"He's bringing everything in, you know, smash-mouth football," Jozokos said of the jumbo package. "But we also spread it out, because we have the senior with speed, as you see. And Eli keeps running and running and running, so our running game he has in that stack opens up the defense when we go into the spread. Those kinds of things -- the Stack-I, I'd never seen before -- that helps us getting out in space."

BH (7-1) 0 - 7 - 0 - 7 --- 14
GA (8-0) 7 - 12 - 14 - 7 --- 41

First Quarter
G - Tate Jozokos 1 run (Colin Smith kick) 5:44

Second Quarter
G - Frank Barba 41 pass from Jozokos (kick failed) 10:53
G - Eli Morrissey 3 run (rush failed) 4:51
B - Alfredo Barros 45 pass from Connor Murphy (George McLaughlin kick) 1:58

Third Quarter
G - Morrissey 2 run (Smith kick) 7:38
G - Jozokos 17 run (Smith kick) 3:18

Fourth Quarter
G - Jozokos 14 run (Smith kick) 7:11
B - Eric Oberg 16 pass from Petros Davos (McLaughlin kick) 1:13

Recap: Belmont Hill 10, Milton Academy 3

October, 29, 2011

MILTON, Mass. -- Oftentimes bad weather football games are decided by intangibles; things such as ball control can be the difference between wins and losses.

Belmont Hill didn’t necessarily adhere to that credo of protecting the ball for long stretches of Saturday’s game played in monsoon rains at Milton Academy, but the Hillies held onto the ball when it mattered most in a clock-killing fourth-quarter drive.

The Hillies ran their record to 6-0 with a 10-3 victory over the Mustangs, but Belmont Hill head coach Kevin Fleming was still felt unfulfilled.

“I’d like to see us put in a true four-quarter effort,” said Fleming, who’s in his last season at the Hillies’ helm after 21 years. “I don’t think we’ve really put a complete game together yet.”

Belmont Hill fumbled five times losing four during the first half.

Milton Academy (3-3) took the first lead of the game with freshman Justin Yoon’s 40-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. That lead didn’t last long however, as the Hillies responded scoring the only touchdown of the contest on a 50-yard connection from Connor Murphy to Matt Gustafson minutes later.

“They were running a Cover-3, so we came out with the four [verticals], Coach [Curt] Oberg called that one,” Murphy said. “I saw the safety shift off to the right side and I hit him wide open. I don’t think he had to break a tackle and got in the end zone. That was a huge momentum shift for us, obviously.”

The Hillies added to their lead on George McLaughlin’s 23-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter.

Belmont Hill’s lackadaisical start Saturday resembled that of their season opener at BB&N.

Thankfully, for the Hillies, both of those mud bowl games resulted in victories, but it’s a trend Murphy’s looking to correct.

“In the BB&N game we came out flat again and we came out in the second half and won and it was the same today. We just believe in our defense. They held them to three points today. Our defense has been great and our offense finds a way to get into the end zone. “

For all the ball control problems the Hillies had early on, equally as impressive was their ability to hang onto the ball during their game-sealing drive to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.

With under three minutes remaining, the Hillies forced a turnover on downs after Mustangs quarterback Anthony Scurto’s rush on fourth and five came up half a yard short. Taking over on their own 8-yard line, Belmont Hill pounded the ball behind running back George McLaughlin, exhausting all of the Mustang’s timeouts and bleeding the clock dry.

And it all came down to the Hillies’ ability to control the line of scrimmage.

“We have two senior captains on the left side, with Parker [Mundt] and [Robert] Perdoni, they’ve been great,” Murphy said. “Our fullback Goose [Gustafson] has been opening holes up for George [McLaughlin] and obviously he’s run the ball great and he came up huge for us on that last drive.”

Milton Acad. (3-3) 0 3 0 0 -- 3
Belmont Hill (6-0) 0 7 3 0 -- 10

2nd quarter
M – Justin Yoon 40-yard field goal
BH – Matt Gustafson 50-yard pass from Connor Murphy (George McLaughlin kick)

3rd quarter
BH – McLaughlin 23-yard field goal

Recap: Belmont Hill 17, St. Sebastian's 12

October, 15, 2011
NEEDHAM, Mass. — It might be a little premature to say that a historic run is on the verge in Belmont Hill, but in the final season for long-time head coach Kevin Fleming, the Hillers are still undefeated as we near the midway point of the ISL schedule.

The Hillers (4-0) used a “complete, team-effort” according to the head coach to take out St. Sebastian’s (2-2) on the road yesterday with a 17-12 victory with balloons and a host of other celebrations going on for the Arrows homecoming day.

Geroge McLaughlin grinded out 120 yards and a score on 21 carries and knocked home a 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, which proved to be very important points for the Hillers.

The defense also came up huge in the fourth quarter, as it held the Arrows out of the end zone after watching in horror as their punter shanked a punt off the side of his foot leaving the hosts in perfect position to ram in a game-clinching score in the final minute of the game.

“It was a great team win,” said Fleming. “Two pretty even teams were playing for a run at the league championship.”

He may be in his 23rd season on the sidelines for the Hillers, and this may be his last season, but Fleming proved that he still knows a thing or two about coaching and winning a big football game on the road.

With a whipping wind heading from right to left on the field, Fleming decided to take the advantage in the fourth quarter and defer any momentum that the Arrows could mount in the third quarter.

The Arrows offense woke up on their first drive of the second half when Patrick Healy hit John Connolly for a 15-yard touchdown to finish off a 10-play, 71-yard drive that ate up nearly half of the quarter.

However, another missed opportunity on the extra point left the Arrows down 14-12 heading into the fourth quarter.

“We played the third period going into the wind, so we knew they had all the advantages in the third,” Fleming said. “They were still behind and so in theory, if we had to go to a lot of passing we would have the win in the fourth.”

Arrows’ coach Bob Souza echoed those comments about the elements.

“When you were going against the wind it really limited what you could do offensively,” Souza said. “It helped us in the third quarter.”

The scenario early in the fourth quarter was as such: The Hillers were driving, but were forced to make a decision on fourth and five from the Arrows’ 7-yard line.

Now, with the wind at their back, Fleming decided to call on his field goal unit to push the score to a 5-point lead.

McLaughlin lined up from 24-yards out and nailed the kick to give the Hillers the 17-12 advantage. The Arrows did get into field goal range late in the fourth quarter, and since Fleming played it “safe” and trusted his defense to make a few plays, the Arrows were forced to try and get into the end zone against a defense that was playing well all afternoon.

“We got up five and they couldn’t get a field goal, like (when they got deep in our territory) they couldn’t go for it,” Fleming said.

The special teams for the Hillers faulted in the final quarter, but the defense allowed the visitors to walk away with the victory.

The Arrows had the ball in the fourth quarter and were lined up to punt on their own 20-yard line midway through the quarter, but Brian O’Malley took a direct snap and went 19 yards for a first down on the trickery.

The Hillers defense held strong again and forced O’Malley to punt again. This time, the junior rocketed a punt over the intended returner and pinned the Hillers inside their 20-yard line.

Belmont Hill could not advance the ball and its punter sent a punt that netted only three yards off the side of his foot to set up the Arrows on the 31-yard line with two minutes left to go in the game.

Healy got the Arrows down to the 15-yard line on a scramble up the gut, but Parker Mundt came up with a big defensive play as he caught up to Healy in the backfield and started to bring him to the turf on third down.

Healy let go of a pass out of bounds and was well outside the pocket, but his pass didn’t travel past the line of scrimmage and the referees through a flag for intentional grounding. Healy could not connect on fourth down with his try towards the end zone and the Hillers were on their way to an undefeated mark.

Belmont Hill (4-0) 0 – 14 –0 - 3 - 17
St. Sebastian’s (2-2) 6 – 0 –6 - 0 - 12

SS — Patrick Healy 1 run (kick failed)
BH — George McLaughlin 1 run (McLaughlin kick)
BH — Matthew Gustafson 1 run (McLaughlin kick)
SS — John Connolly 15 pass from Healy (pass failed)
BH — McLaughlin 24 FG

Recap: Belmont Hill 17, BB&N 14

September, 24, 2011

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. –- The crisp sod had turned into a mud bowl and George McLaughlin paced to the middle of the field at Buckingham Browne & Nichols Friday afternoon. In the fourth quarter, his uniform wasn’t the bleached whites, those of a typical place kicker. The mud was caked on, evidence of carry the football all day. As the Belmont Hill running back strode in from the sideline after a timeout, he was about to attempt the first and biggest kick of his career.

After splitting the uprights with a 29-yard field goal, lifting the Hillies to a 17-14 comeback win over the Knights, McLaughlin commented it was just like they’d drawn it up in practice. The situation has always been the same.

“The game’s tied, the game’s on the line,” the senior Belmont resident said about the scenario presented to him every day in practice, “you have to hit it.”

McLaughlin was called upon to kick what would prove to be the game-winning field goal by head coach Kevin Fleming. After the Hillies’ freshman kicker faltered on an earlier attempt, Fleming decided to make a change.

The result was the Hillies’ first win over BB&N (0-1) in four years.

“I was calm and relaxed, actually,” McLaughlin said about the lead up to the kick.

McLaughlin accounted for 15 of Belmont Hill’s 17 points.

After trailing 14-0 at the half, the Hillies (1-0) got back into the game on McLaughlin’s 14-yard touchdown run in the third. Quarterback Connor Murphy hit Eric Oberg on the 2-point conversion.

McLaughlin (18 carries, 98 yards) then tied the game in the fourth with a 12-yard rush. However, the 2-point attempt was stopped with McLaughlin dragged down for a loss by BB&N’s Willie Peoples on a toss right.

A stalled Knights drive, interrupted by a turnover on downs, set up Belmont Hill’s march down the field, culminating in McLaughlin’s kick with 1:44 remaining.


Fleming took over Belmont Hill football in 1989 and has racked up over 100 wins since then. Yet, he feels like the program’s lacked the respect of the ISL during the last couple seasons.

“It was almost as if Belmont Hill had disappeared off the face of the earth,” Fleming said, citing the recent dominance of Lawrence Academy and BB&N.

After announcing that the 2011 season will be his last at the Hillies’ helm, Fleming remarked that the triumph over the Knights was a statement win. That point was reflected by his seniors, including McLaughlin, who’d previously never known a win over BB&N.

“It’s been our goal to take this, what seems like a dynasty here,” McLaughlin said. “They’ve been a great, powerful football program. Coach [John] Pappas is a genius, he’s a great coach.”

Murphy put his skills on display, in particular on the game-tying drive. The Hillies’ signal-caller, who was 15-of-26 for 168 yards, threw just two incompletions on the fourth-quarter drive that commenced with 45 seconds left in the third quarter. On that drive, Murphy completed five passes for 49 yards. None of those completions was bigger than his fourth-down throw to Michael Minahan (7 catches, 104 yards), which kept the drive rolling. On the next play, McLaughlin found the end zone with the game-tying score.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Friday’s game was also the debut of Knights quarterback Chris Coady, who’s making the transition from running back. After an 1,800-yard season in 2010, Coady takes over from Eric Bertino. While the Knights passing game got off to a slow start (with a rain-slicked ball and a couple of Hillie sacks thrown in), Coady picked up where he left off last year with 121 yards on the ground.

Belmont Hill 0 0 8 9 -- 17
BB&N 0 14 0 0 -- 14

Second quarter
BB&N Willie Peoples 10-yard run (kick failed)
BB&N Chris Coady 6-yard run (Peoples run)

Third quarter
BH George McLaughlin 14-yard run (Eric Oberg pass from Connor Murphy)

Fourth quarter
BH George McLaughlin 12-yard run (rush failed)
BH George McLaughlin 29-yard field goal