Boston High School: Gilbert Brown

Ingram reflects on Gloucester career

January, 12, 2011
Simply put, the time was right for Paul Ingram.

After 38 years of coaching and eight seasons at the helm of Gloucester High football, Ingram has decided to retire.

He gathered his players at the high school Tuesday afternoon to tell them the news. It wasn’t a hasty decision. Ingram had hinted to his staff three years ago that he might retire after the 2010 season, but he wanted to stick around to see things through with the talented group of players he had.

“Just the act of keeping 17 seniors together is hard,” said Ingram in a telephone interview Wednesday, “making that commitment to each other isn’t that easy in this day and age. I felt obligated to stay with them and not have anything change for them.”

Ingram is a biology teacher at Gloucester as well and his retirement is up for review at the end of the academic year.

On the gridiron, Ingram boasts an 84-10 career record with the Fishermen, including back-to-back perfect Super Bowl seasons. He steps down after leading Gloucester to 26 straight wins – including two straight victories over Bridgewater-Raynham in the Division 1A Super Bowl in 2009 and ’10. That streak is longest current winning streak in Eastern Massachusetts.

Ingram also led Gloucester to an Eastern Mass Division 2A championship in 2007 and made a repeat appearance at the Gillette Stadium Super Bowl in 2008.

“It was a real surprise [in 2009] when we won because we didn’t really know what we had,” Ingram said. “But it was really impressive how the kids handled themselves this season. They were really playing with a target on their backs and they were mature enough to handle those expectations.”

Ingram stuck around to see it through with his tight-knit group and they shared a mutual admiration and respect for their coach. During their most recent match-up with B-R at Gillette, many of the Fishermen wore t-shirts under their game jerseys that read “Win One For Paul,” a hint that Ingram might have been coaching his last game.

“Coach Ingram has taught me everything I know about the game,” senior captain Gilbert Brown told ESPN Boston after the Fishermen claimed their third title in four years. “All of the coaches have been like fathers to me, but Ingram, especially.”

Ingram, who played football at Springfield College, said the hardest part of retirement is being away from what you love, but he wanted to make a decision sooner rather than later so that the program can begin the search for its new head coach.

“It comes down to the fact that I’m just not sure I can keep going the way I want to keep going. I wanted to make a decision that’s fair to the players.”

However, Ingram also didn’t rule out the possibility of returning to the game — eventually.

“It’ll be different. It’s funny because we all look forward to retirement, but then, when you get there, it’s scary. You go to work every day because you want to feel productive and I still feel that way.

“I’m not going to say I won’t coach again, but it was definitely time to step back. We’ll see what happens after that.”

Ingram paused and laughed.

“I’m a not a spring chicken, but I’m not elderly either.”

On the occasion of Ingram announcing his retirement, Gloucester assistant and strength and conditioning coordinator Mike Lattof contributed a few of his thoughts:
“Coach Ingram has been a mentor to me and the rest of the staff. He’s probably one of the greatest Wing-T minds out there, from a coaching perspective. He’s relentless worker and someone who is so passionate about the players, the staff, the program and the school. I was fortunate to spend the last 16 years with him. Paul’s a great coach and his love for the game is second to none, It’s been a great privilege to have been coached by him and then to be giving the opportunity to coach with him. He is a man of high integrity, that’s what stands out about him to me.
"He leaves the program that is well-established and will keep going. Most importantly, however, is the legacy that he will leave behind. He's always been there for players whenever they needed him. It doesn't matter if you're an all-state player or a scout team player. He wanted you to succeed in football and in life. I think the kids know that he cares a lot about football, but he cares more about them. He did not want his players to accept losing and he always had great preparation to win. He taught his teams to strive to win because that's what life is.
"There were a lot of great kids and a lot of great players that came through Gloucester and I think he has a lot great memories to look back on. I think his biggest legacy is that he had a positive impact on the players that came through the program not just football-wise but in life. I know that what Paul taught about Gloucester Fishermen football will help them the rest of their lives.
"His record of success as our head football coach speaks for itself. Most important is the positive impact he has had on the hundreds of student athletes he has mentored and coached over the years. Their lives have been forever changed through their association with Coach Ingram.”

Gloucester rolls to repeat peformance over B-R

December, 4, 2010
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In a repeat of last year’s Division 1 Super Bowl, the returning champions Gloucester Fishermen won-out again, taking down the Bridgewater-Raynham Trojans 34-13, at Gillette Satdium on Super Bowl Saturday.

Gloucester took a 21-6 lead into halftime and didn’t let up, on its way to the Fishermen’s second-straight Super Bowl, and third Super Bowl in four years.

“You don’t win 26 games in a row -- in the league they’re in, and the playoffs -- for nothing.” Bridgewater-Raynham coach Dan Buron said of Gloucester. “That’s a great team.”

In what was likely Gloucester coach Paul Ingram’s last game with the Fishermen, the Fishermen had a balanced offensive attack that kept the Trojans puzzled.

“We just want to go out on a good note, he’s the best coach I’ve ever had, personally -- I think he’s the best coach in the state hands down,” co-captain Jordan Shairs said.

Like most of Gloucester’s opponents did this year, Bridgewater-Raynham paid close attention to the running backs Shairs and Gilbert Brown.

However coach Ingram countered that strategy by sucking in the defense with his tight-winged formations and play-action passes. Quarterback Joseph Avila had a solid game under center, completing 6 of 8 passes for 87 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

One of Avila’s passes was a 19-yard touchdown to running back Brandon Cusumano on a pass down the seam. Cusumano, who returned to Gloucester’s lineup Tuesday after missing time with a broken collarbone, had six rushes for 63 yards and one touchdown to along with two catches for 36 yards.

The senior running back also forced a key fumble on a sack in the second quarter. After Gloucester recovered the fumble, they punched in a score on a 5-yard Gilbert Brown touchdown run, making it 21-6 before the half.

“Brandon just makes big plays, whether its on the offensive side or the defensive side,” Ingram said of Cusumano.

“People can step in for him, but he just brings a whole other feeling to the game,” Avila said of the running back. “His field presence is ridiculous.”

Trojans’ quarterback Billy Zolga led the Bridgewater-Raynham offense. He was 8 of 20 for 74 yards with one touchdown, and also carried the ball four times for 40 yards with a score.

But that was the most productive player for Bridgewater-Raynham on the night. While Gloucester’s offense impressed, its defense did not slack either.

“They hit hard, they play hard, and the secondary played very well tonight along with the defensive line too,” Ingram said.

“Its really special, its like amazing...” Gloucester’s Chris Unis said about the back-to-back Super Bowls. “We’re all a bunch of guys that just want to work hard, we don’t care who gets the glory, we just come out and play hard for each other.”

Bridgewater-Raynham couldn’t play from behind, and did not have the offensive firepower to compete with Gloucester.

The Fishremen used their eperience to secure another Division 1 Championship.

“I know I’ve only lived for 18 years but it’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Avila said about the night.

G 7 14 6 7 G 34
B-R 6 0 7 0 B-R 13


G - Cusumano 30 pass from Avila (Santo Parisi kick)
B-R - Mike Chicoine 22 pass from Zolga (run failed)

G - Shairs 3 run (Parisi kick)
G - Brown 5 run (Parisi kick)

G - Cusumano 5 run (kick failed)
B-R - Chris Cream 3 run (Joseph Harmon kick)

G - Michael Tomaino 19 pass from Avila (Parisi kick)

Super Saturday breakdown and picks

December, 3, 2010

Yesterday, coaches and captains from each of the teams participating in the six Eastern Mass Super Bowls played at Gillette Stadium toured the field in anticipation of Saturday's games. We caught up with Bridgewater-Raynham quarterback Billy Zolga and Everett wide receiver and defensive back Matt Costello yesterday.

Both players were at Gillette last year when their respective teams lost their Super Bowl bids. Now, the seniors are looking to leave a lasting imprint in their final high school football games.

This is for all the marbles, so let's get straight into the action:

Everett (11-0) vs. St. John's Prep (8-4), 6 p.m., Gillette Stadium
Everett players to watch:
ATH Manny Asprilla, WR Matt Costello, QB Jonathan DiBiaso, RB/LB Vondell Langston, LB Buck McCarthy, WR/DB Kenny Calaj, OL/DL Nick Chiarello, DL Shaquille Taylor.
St. John's Prep players to watch: RB Tyler Coppola, OL/DL Nathan Cyr, TE Ryan Delisle, TE/ROV Lucas Bavaro, OL/DL Dan Culkeen.
The skinny: In his third year under center, DiBiaso has exploded to lead one of the state's most prolific offenses (37.5 points per game), and re-write the record book (he threw his state-record 40th touchdown pass of the season in Tuesday's 21-0 win over Andover). But you best believe he is thanking his lucky stars for the exploits of Costello (20 touchdowns) and Asprilla. The Boston College-bound Asprilla, who lines up at both tailback and wide receiver, is one of the state's most dangerous threats in the short passing game, and known to rip off huge gains out of underneath routes. Prep, meanwhile, has rode a powerful ground game (what's new?) to victory, led by Coppola, who has nearly 450 yards on the ground in the last two games. The Eagles are anchored by a powerful line led by Cyr and Culkeen, while Bavaro has emerged as an intimidating presence over the middle on defense.
X-factor: The matchup of the Trinity-boud Cyr, one of the state's best o-linemen, versus Taylor, one of the state's best d-linemen, will be one of the most intriguing battles of the day. Both are built low to the ground, with an explosive first step, and you've got to wonder if one key block will spring either team to victory.

Barboza: A Prep win would be the fitting culmination to an emotional ride, but this has been the Crimson Tide's year. Everett, 27-21

Hall: This has been a remarkable run for the Prep, after all the program has been through these last two seasons, and they're winners in my book either way. I'm going with one of the unsung guys, Gilly DeSouza, to win it late with his feet for the Crimson Tide. Everett, 24-21.

Bridgewater-Raynham (10-2) vs. Gloucester (12-0), 8 p.m. at Gillette Stadium

B-R players to watch: QB/QB Billy Zolga, RB/LB Nick Schlatz, OL/DL Mike Devin, RB/LB Mike Chicoine, RB Brandon Morin.
Gloucester players to watch: TE/DE Chris Unis; RB/LB Gilbert Brown; FB/LB Jordan Shairs; OT/DE Andrew Mizzoni; C/NT Anthony Latassa.
The skinny: Do you like running the football? This game is for you. The Trojans and Fishermen do it better than just about anybody and certainly have the book on each other after facing off in last year’s Super Bowl. You’d be hard pressed to find a more consistent pair of backs than Gilbert Brown and Jordan Shairs of Gloucester. The Trojans ran behind Brandon Morin to a win over Weymouth in the semifinals after starting in place of injured tailback Nick Schlatz. It would give B-R a lift if Schlatz can recover from a shoulder injury sustained in a Thanksgiving Day win over Brockton
X-factor: Really it just comes down to which team blocks its assignments better. It’s simple as that.

Barboza: This might be the most difficult game to forecast, but I’m giving the edge to Gloucester’s experience. Gloucester, 16-14.

Hall: This might be the best matchup of the day. Power versus power, strength versus strength. Gloucester has more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, but I like the way this B-R team has been running the ball this last month. Against Dan Buron’s wishes, of course, I’m picking the Trojans to avenge 2009 and put an end to the Fish's 25-game win streak. B-R, 17-14.

Mansfield (11-1) vs. Reading (12-0), 3:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium
Mansfield players to watch:
RB Jamel Marshall, QB George Busharis, WR Blayne Taylor, OL/DL Sean Otto, OL/DL Kyle McGuire, OL/DL Anthony Todesco, WR Jeff Hill.
Reading players to watch: QB/DB Brian Bourque, OL/DL Jeff Covitz, OL/DL Anthony Fodera, RB Larry Gilligan, RB Zack Bates, WR Sean Gildea, WR Connor Sheehan.
The skinny: The defending Division 2 Super Bowl champ Rockets come into Saturday on a 25-game win streak, albeit by a thread after some late heroics from Bourque and Covitz allowed them to escape their home turf with a 15-14 thriller over Dracut. With Bourque spearheading a shotgun-oriented rushing attack, the Rockets have amassed 42 rushing touchdowns going into Saturday. The Hornets, meanwhile, are back at Gillette for the second time in three years thanks to a stalwart defense led by McGuire at defensive tackle, and the workhorse carrying load of Marshall. This Mansfield squad, known for its Wing-T, isn't afraid to pass the ball more than in years past, with the arm of Busharis. Taylor and Hill, the latter of whom caught three touchdowns in Tuesday's 28-0 shutout of Walpole, have emerged as downfield threats the last few weeks.
X-factor: Covitz, with his above-average leg strength and low center of gravity, has been the most irreplaceable guy on the offensive line, and is generally been a nuisance for opposing offensive linemen coming off the edge. With that in mind, picking up the blitz will be crucial for the Hornets.

Barboza: When it's on the line, Marshall is just too explosive. Mansfield, 17-14.

Hall: Stan Andre, the one who kicked off this whole win streak, was in the house Tuesday night to take in the Reading game. I'm sure he said something to them in the ecstatic locker room after the game, and I'm sure it's going to count late in the fourth quarter. Reading, 28-27.

Duxbury (12-0) vs. Concord-Carlisle (10-2), 1:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium
Duxbury players to watch:
QB Matt O’Keefe, DB/QB Kane Haffey, OL/DL Brett Harasimowicz, TE/DE Don Webber, RB/DB Reilly Naton.
Concord-Carlisle players to watch: RB George Craan; QB Peter George; RB/LB Jabrail Coy; LB Evan Boynton.
The skinny: These are two very stingy defenses with the Green Dragons allowing just 10.8 points per game and the Patriots have surrendered a shade under 13 points per game. Make no mistake, these teams can also move the ball. Duxbury thrives with its complement of Kane Haffey and Matt O’Keefe at quarterback. Concord-Carlisle can always depend on George Craan and his 1,600-plus yards out of the backfield.
X-factor: The Patriots and their fans know what to expect out of Craan, but if sophomore Tim Badgley can repeat his five-carry, 109-yard performance from their semifinal against North Andover, C-C’s chances for victory would greatly improve.

Barboza: One last time, I’ll pull this one out. The “Double Dragons” of O’Keefe and Haffey will lead them to victory. Duxbury, 21-20

Hall: Yes, that’s right, I called Duxbury’s defense “Duxbury Swag District” yesterday on our podcast. I am tragically lame, and slightly out of control. Duxbury, 24-10

Beverly (6-6) vs. Somerset (12-0), 11 a.m. at Gillette Stadium
Somerset players to watch:
RB/LB Seth DeMello; RB/DB Jaron Spear; OT/DT Ian Levesque; RB/LB Alex Estrella; QB Adam Ledoux.
Beverly players to watch: RB/DB Brendan Flaherty, QB/DB Joe Wioncek, OL/DL George Kallas, RB/DB Nick Theriault, LB Mark Giles, OL/DL Andrew Cannata.
The skinny: Somerset’s 28-0 win over Dighton-Rehoboth in the semifinals was a prototypical Blue Raiders game. Both Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear finished with over 100 yards rushing as Somerset bled the clock dry in the second half. Meanwhile, Beverly – the official Cinderella squad of the 2010 playoffs — showed that they truly belonged with a 41-14 thrashing of Scituate. Will the Blue Raiders prevail and finish a perfect season? Or can the Panthers keep the magic alive? It’s the quintessential favorite vs. underdog.
X-factor: The teams’ lines. For Division 3 schools, both of these squads have good sized linemen. Six-foot-five, 315-pound lineman Ian Levesque is a mountain on the Blue Raider line, but is agile as well. George Kallas is an immovable object on the Panther line.

Barboza: Not only is the double wing difficult for any team to run, but the Blue Raiders have all the right elements to run it to its best. Somerset, 28-14

Hall: Clock strikes midnight on Beverly, as two wings are better than one. Somerset, 21-10

Holliston (11-1) vs. Cardinal Spellman (12-0), 9 a.m., Gillette Stadium
Holliston players to watch:
RB/LB Kevin Curry, QB Sean Mayo, TE/DE Ryan Barrett, RB/DB Jake Frechette, WR/DB Christian Baker, OL/LB Ethan Rayner, OL/DL Kevin Lamarcque.
Spellman players to watch: RB/DB Blaise Branch, FB/LB Jared Lordi, RB/DB Jordan Williams, QB Zac Cooney.
The skinny: The 11-1 Panthers come into Saturday averaging just a hair under 40 points a game, with Mayo as the triggerman. Even in limited playing time -- the Panthers often pulled their starters in the third or fourth quarter -- the dual-threat quarterback put up 1,723 yards through the air, with 21 touchdown passes to only five interceptions, and also added 456 yards and nine scores on the ground. Spellman, in its third year under Ron St. George, had a remarkable turnaround, going from 2-9 to undefeated and in its first Super Bowl since 1992. At the forefront of St. George's vaunted Wing-T scheme is the senior Branch, who leads Eastern Mass with 36 rushing touchdowns. But over the last few games, defenses have had to worry more and more about Lordi and Williams.
X-factor: The Bryant-bound Barrett, at 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds, was a matchup problem all year long in the Tri-Valley League. And while he's not putting up the most gaudy numbers at tight end and was used more as a blocking back, his combination of size, speed and athleticism demands airtight coverage from the linebackers and helps open up the Panthers' offense.

Barboza: Panthers' rallying cry: 'We Don't Get Fooled Again". Holliston, 31-24

Hall: The Panthers came to Gillette last December and got manhandled. Guarantee you that's been fresh on their minds this week, and for that I think they avoid the same early mistakes that doomed them in 2009. Holliston, 25-20

Shawsheen (10-1) vs. Blue Hills (10-1), 10 a.m., Curry College
Shawsheen players to watch: OL/DL David Summiel, QB Ryan Woolaver, RB Andrew Dascoli, WR Rob Greenwood.
Blue Hills players to watch: RB Vincent Burton, RB Isaiah Teixeira, OL/DL Jamarr Goff, QB John Curran
The skinny: Shawsheen, on the heels of a 21-0 shutout of Madison Park in Tuesday night’s playoffs, is on a roll defensively. The Rams haven’t allowed a point in 19 quarters, dating back to a 41-6 win over Lynn Tech on October 15. Dascoli is the Rams’ workhorse back, while Greeenwood is their top threat at receiver. The Warriors, rested from a bye on Tuesday night, are led by Vincent Burton and his Division 4-best 30 touchdowns.
X-factor: The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Summiel might be the biggest catalyst for this incredible Shawsheen run. Playing right offensive tackle and left defensive end, Summiel paved the way for 118 rushing yards from leading rusher Dascoli, and also preserved a fourth straight shutout.

Barboza: The week off will certainly benefit Blue Hills, but the Rams defense is stout. Shawsheen, 14-7

Hall: Logic says to go with Blue Hills, as they’ll be well-rested thanks to their bye. But this Shawsheen defense is an absolute wagon by Division 4 standards, and for that I’m giving them another shutout to finish off what’s been a remarkable run over the last six weeks. Shawsheen, 21-0

Brighton (9-2) vs. Northeast (10-2), 1 p.m. at Curry College

Brighton players to watch: RB/LB Andrew Maestre, RB Dwight Kennedy, QB Jonathan Marrero, OL/DL Patrick Jean, WR Olumide Olukoga.
Northeast players to watch: RB/DB Bobby Novello; RB/DB Mike Cross; OL/DE Ryan Adams; FB/DE Ian Bagby; TE/LB A.J. Ortiz.
The skinny: You'd be hard pressed to find a hotter defense in the state than the Golden Knights, who have now pitched six shutouts after a 42-0 blanking of Pope John Tuesday. Their next challenge lies in the Bengals. A Division 4-A Super Bowl participant last year, Brighton’s offense is led by running back Andrew Maestre and quarterback Jonathan Marrerro, each of whom ran for two touchdowns in their 36-13 win over West Bridgewater on Tuesday.
X-factor: Brighton wide receiver Olumide Olukoga is the favorite target of Marrerro, but he’s also dangerous in the return game. Olukoga had a 41-yard kickoff return to set up Maestre’s first touchdown of the game. At this stage, with two talented teams, special teams play always comes to bear.

Barboza: Can’t pick against the Northeast defense, but the Bengals will put some points on the board. Northeast, 23-17

Hall: I used to live in Brighton Centre, and my neighbors were awesome. Go grab a bite at Smoken’ Joe’s when you get a chance, and make sure you get the Kansas City Sticky. Brighton, 21-17.

The View from Gloucester

December, 2, 2010
Gloucester High captains Chris Unis, Gilbert Brown, Michael Tomaino and Andrew Mizzoni broke down their impending Division 1A Super Bowl rematch with Bridgewater-Raynham this morning on the turf at Gillette Stadium:

Brown, Shairs share load for Gloucester

December, 1, 2010
SUDBURY, Mass. -- What one Gloucester running back started, the other finished off. That was the way it went for the Fishermen, as they eased to a 21-0 win over Lincoln-Sudbury in the Division 1A Semi-final on Tuesday night.

Gloucester came out firing in the first half with wing back Gilbert Brown (19 carries, 122 yards, 1TD), and turned in the second to fullback Jordan Shairs (19 carries, 142 yards, touchdown). Both backs worked the Lincoln-Sudbury defensive line for gaps, and accelerated to the second level after they made it through.

“That was the strategy,” Shairs said about sharing the workload. “He was running the ball well and the defense would try to stop him, so then I would get the ball…that’s the best part of our offense.”

To start the game, Brown worked at wingback and ran a lot of jet-sweeps to stretch the defense across the field, while Shairs ran the traps in the middle. In the second half the roles changed -- as Shairs took more belly-handoffs -- but success remained a constant.

The duo worked as well as they have all season, but was thankful of the effort of their offensive line.

The Gloucester offensive line, led by senior co-captain Andrew Mizzoni, neutralized a powerful Lincoln-Sudbury front-seven. With the help of tight ends Chris Unis and Michael Tomaino, the group kept defensive lineman Zach Smerlas in check.

“The line was the biggest thing for us today,” Brown said. “I think they deserve the credit because they work their butts off all year in practice and in games, and don’t get noticed.”

“You have to give the offensive line a lot of credit,” Gloucester coach Paul Ingram said about the success on the ground. “They’re a tough group of kids.”

Lincoln-Sudbury head coach Tom Lopez decided to ditch his Wing-T background and go with a more spread-oriented offense for most of the game. The Warriors had little success running the ball against the Gloucester defense, but did find pockets of hope airing the ball out.

Early in the second quarter L-S showed signs of life on a 13-play drive that started from its own 26-yard line but stalled at the Gloucester 5, after a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

Warriors’ quarterback Matt Cahill completed 11 of 25 passes for 82 yards with an interception in the game. He and wide receiver Jack Harris showed their usual chemistry and narrowly missed hooking up on a 23-yard touchdown pass that would have cut the score to 13-6 in the second. Cahill lofted a perfect fade to Harris, but the Gloucester defense caught up to Harris just as the ball hit his hands and knocked it loose.

Surprisingly, Gloucester looked as fresh in this game, as they did in the season opener. The team had a familiar spark in its step provided from the return of running back Brandon Cusumano. Cusumano had a few rushes sprinkled throughout the game, but hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joseph Avila to begin the fourth quarter. The wingback missed most of the year due to injury, but is back in the lineup and looks healthy again.

With the win, Glloucester advances to the Division 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, where last year they defeated Bridgewater-Raynham, 33-13.

“The team is fired up,” Shairs said about reaching Gillette Stadium again. “That’s like our home field…We’re not just showing up to for the playoffs, we’re going in and we’re going in to win.”

G 7 6 0 8 -- 21
L 0 0 0 0 -- 0

First quarter

G - Brown 5 run (Santo Parisi kick)

Second quarter

G - Shairs 1 run (kick failed)

Fourth quarter
G - Cusumano 25 pass from Avila (Parisi kick)

Ingram is Patriots Coach of the Week

November, 12, 2010
Gloucester High School's Paul Ingram was named New England Patriots High School Coach of the Week in recognition of his team's 9-0 start, including Gloucester's 22nd straight win, a 42-18 win over Revere last week.

The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation will donate $1,000 to Gloucester's football program in Ingram's name in recognition of his Coach of the Week selection.

Ingram and senior captains Gilbert Brown, Andrew Mizzoni, Mike Tomaino and Chris Unis were guests at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday to receive the award.

What We Learned: Week 3

September, 27, 2010

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 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.”

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.

No. 6 Gloucester rolls over Andover

September, 16, 2010
ANDOVER, Mass. -– Andover began its nonleague contest with No. 6 Gloucester last night with a 95-yard kickoff return for Pat Farnham, and ended it with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Tom Dempsey to Ben McQuaide at the final gun.

Unfortunately for the Golden Warriors, those bookends didn’t paint an accurate picture of what happened in the time between, as Gloucester rolled to a 38-13 win at Lovely Stadium.

The Fishermen (2-0) responded immediately to the challenge by Andover (1-1), as Jordan Shairs scored on touchdown runs of 8 and 77 yards on Gloucester’s first two possessions. In the meantime, the defense (three interceptions) forced three-and-outs on Andover’s first two possessions, and then held on fourth down at its own 18.

“When a team does that to you right off the bat, you have to say you know what guys, we’re in for a game, get excited and step up,” said Gloucester defensive end Chris Unis, who had a sack and overall was a frequent guest in Dempsey’s pocket.

“That’s what I think our team did a great job of tonight. We responded, took it to them and jumped on them.”

Brandon Cusumano scored on a 10-yard reverse early in the second, and Unis caught a two-point pass from Joseph Avila to push the lead to 24-7. Gloucester was forced to go for two-point conversions due to a pre-game injury to its kicker.

After an interception by Gilbert Brown (nine carries for 74 yards) set up Gloucester at the Andover 9-yard line, Shairs carried twice before giving the Fishermen a 30-7 lead at the break on his third and final touchdown.

“They have confidence in themselves, and they were upset that (the kickoff return) happened,” Gloucester coach Paul Ingram said of his squad. “I think that may have even fired us up.

“They just sucked it up and we had a pretty good game plan defensively, and offensively kids blocked and ran hard, and (Avila) just really had a good game. He made some real big passes and converted some third-down passes that were big.”

Any hope of a comeback for Andover faded quickly in the second half. On fourth-and-5 from the Gloucester 10, Shairs came up with an interception in the endzone. After Andover’s defense held on fourth-and-10 from its 31, the Golden Warriors marched back down field, but Dempsey was picked off by Adam Philpott at the Gloucester 36.

““We were inside the (Gloucester) 10 (yard line) three times and got nothing,” said Andover coach E.J. Perry. “You can’t do that.

“Against a team like this you know they’re going to put up points. You can’t get to the 10 (and not score) and keep putting the defense out there and expect it to stop them. That killed us.”

Avila (8-of-13 for 158 yards) hit Cusumano for a 50-yard touchdown to close out the Gloucester scoring midway through the fourth. Avila also had three two-point conversions (two rush, one pass) on the night.

Gloucester leaves Swampscott feeling blue

September, 11, 2010
GLOUCESTER, Mass. -- Running back Gilbert Brown, a sturdy offensive line and a speedy defense led the way for Gloucester High School as they beat down on Swampscott High, 41-14, Friday night.

Brown, Gloucester’s co-captain, started the new season with a bang, taking his first carry 51 yards for the Fishermen’s first score of the game. He carried the offense for most of the first half and finished the game with 160 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns.

“The offensive line was superb today,” said Brown about his night. “The blocking was unreal, the holes were wide open for me and the other backs. It was like you were running by yourself in the open field.”

With only one offensive lineman returning from Gloucester’s Super Bowl team last year, the offensive line wasn’t an experienced group coming into the game. However, by game’s end, they’d showed all the signs of a smart veteran group.

Senior tackle Andrew Mizzoni stood out on a number of counters and reverses where he pulled across the Wing-T set to pick up Swampscott defenders.

Gloucester’s defense suffocated Swampscott’s rotation of quarterbacks. Neither Swampscott’s Michael Walsh nor Jermaine Kelly could earn much against the Fishermen’s defensive line.

Mizzoni plays opposite co-captain Chris Unis at defensive end -- creating a frightening combination for opposing offenses. Unis had two sacks to go along with multiple tackles in the backfield for Gloucester.

“Unis is just scary coming off the line,” said Brown. “At 6-2 and 225, you just don’t want to hit him. It’s good because he has Andrew Mizzoni on the other side to get the pass rush down so it works well.”

Gloucester controlled the ball on offense throughout the night, leaving Swampscott looking for answers.

“We have a learning curve at quarterback, we have a learning curve on defense with a new system and some new players,” Swampscott head coach Steve Dembowski said. “We can’t duplicate the speed and the way they execute their offense.”

Evidently the quarterback battle has not been settled for the Big Blue. Dembowski rotated Walsh and Kelly every series allowing neither to gather up consistency behind center.

Swampscott scored first with a field goal in the first quarter, but then was held quiet on offense until the fourth quarter.

Midway through the second quarter, Swampscott senior Oliver Narcisse returned a 75-yard kick for a touchdown, giving the Big Blue a momentary buzz on the sidelines.

However, the Fishermen then put together a four-minute, 75-yard drive to stretch the lead to 28-10.

“We knew coming in that this was probably the best team on our schedule … I think they proved tonight that they are a legitimate top 5 team in the state,” Dembowski said. “I’d like to see them play anybody, and I’d buy a ticket to go to the game.”

The Fishermen showed how tough its defense can be at home, and Unis called it a “statement game.”

“Let’s keep on rolling, that is the way they feel, that is the way I feel, and I give them credit,” Gloucester head coach Paul Ingram said. “They don’t miss a beat, and they love playing football and I think you can see that.”

No. 8 Gloucester ready for title defense

September, 9, 2010
Gloucester football head coach Paul Ingram describes preseason practices as such: “It’s a drudgery.”

Soon enough the Fisherman will embark on their quest to defend their Division IA Super Bowl title.

Is there a chance for a letdown? Not likely.

Are they looking past preparation toward the season ahead? Not so much.

But expectations are high and Ingram’s team has emerged from the summer doldrums focused on the tasks at hand.

In a moment of candor, Ingram remarked to a question related to his defense, “Maybe we can do a little better than we did last year.”

That’s a tall agenda to set for a team coming off a 13-0 season. But Ingram’s answer was an honest response.

He believes in his group — not in a cocky or haughty way — but because he believes in his players. After all, there’s no such thing as perfection. Things can always be better. That can only be accomplished by a group that is not only talented, but innately driven.

“They have the skills,” Ingram said. “We can teach them blocking and all of those things, but they’re the ones who just seem to have the vision to play, the toughness. They work incredibly hard as a group.”

Lately, there just seems to be an endless pipeline of football players who call Gloucester home.

No Conor Ressel? There’s Gilbert Brown to step into the backfield. The senior running back and linebacker runs a 4.6 40; he’s also gotten bigger and stronger entering his final season.

Gus Margiotta was the backbone of the Gloucester offensive and defensive lines in 2009. This year, Anthony Latassa will take over the center position and Bryan Ingersoll fills the hole at nose tackle.

One of the Fishermen’s best players, tight end and defensive end Chris Unis, didn’t even play last year due to an arm injury. But the 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior captain is healthy now and creates a formidable pair of defensive bookends with the athletic 6-foot-4 Andrew Mizzoni.

Maybe there’s something in the water.

Whatever it is, the Fishermen come to compete every year.

“What happens from year to year is that the kids see opening for the upcoming year and know they’re going to get a chance to play or get a good shot at it,” Ingram said. “Every year, we have kids that come into camp and play better than we’d have projected they would.”

Even though his group is focused, Ingram admits it’s easy for them to get caught up in the monotony of two-a-days and summer practices. So they’re itching to get back to meaningful play.

As the hours click away to opening day, Gloucester looks ready to go.

“It’s tough keeping kids focused through it all,” Ingram said, “but I think we’re further along than we’ve been coming back as we have in a long time.”

2009: 13-0 (5-0 NEC Large)
Coach: Paul Ingram (eighth year, 71-10)
Players to watch: Chris Unis, Sr., TE/DE, 6-2, 225 lbs.; Andrew Mizzoni, Sr., OT/DE, 6-4, 220 lbs.; Gilbert Brown, RB/LB, 5-11, 185 lbs.; Mike Tomaino, Sr., TE/S, 6-2, 180 lbs.; Anthony Latassa, Sr., C/DL, 6-0, 210 lbs.; Bryan Ingersoll, Sr., NT, 6-2, 250 lbs.
Strengths: Knowledge of offensive and defensive schemes, team unity.
Weaknesses: Experience at quarterback and cornerback.
Outlook: There wasn’t much that could be improved upon from last year’s Super Bowl squad, but the Fishermen will be without a couple of key contributors who have moved on. Brown will take a majority of the carries that Ressel saw last year. Also gone is quarterback Brett Cahill. It will fall to senior Joe Avila to take the reins of the Gloucester Wing-T. “I’d say that he’s won the job so far,” Ingram said. “He has a good arm and he’s really quick. He’s also done a good job of managing the team in practice and managing the game.” Although it will have a slightly different look, the offensive line will have Zach Bettencourt Chris Burke, and Marc Sutera stepping in beside Latassa and Mizzoni. The Fishermen return many of key contributors to last year’s defense. And Ingram likes what he’s seen thus far. “It’s like we never missed a beat from last year. It’s been a lot of fun for the coaches. This has certainly been fun for us because we can install some more advanced looks early because they already know the system.”