Boston High School: Greg Sheridan

What we learned: 9/20 edition

September, 20, 2010
9/20/10
11:27
AM ET
Now that the dust has settled on Week 2 of the MIAA football schedule, here’s what we learned from this weekend’s action:

The Atlantic Coast League race is going to be a lot closer than we thought
No. 15 Falmouth and defending Super Bowl champ Marshfield were the figurative favorites in the ACL headed into the 2010 season, but the picture just got a whole lot more crowded.

After a surprise upset of Methuen in Week One, Plymouth North almost pulled off another shocker last Friday against No. 24 Duxbury. Matt Walsh – he of the heroic 77-yard winning touchdown in week one – hauled in a 5-yard pass from Cody Merritt with no time left on the clock, to make it 14-12 Duxbury. The ensuing two-point conversion pass was intercepted and returned 100 yards for the 16-12 final, but a point has been firmly made in year one of the Dwayne Follette era.

Meanwhile, Dennis-Yarmouth – fresh off a 41-38 upset of Barnstable – is averaging 42 points per game, led by junior dual-threat quarterback Matt Montalto. The Dolphins run the spread and like to throw the ball, but a closer look at their program shows they’re not some pass-happy outfit. Led by the hulking 6-foot-5, 319-pound Nate Crary at left tackle, the Dolphins are physical at the point of attack, and maintain a nice balance on their zone read behind running backs like Joe Furness and Damion Johnson.

“If you ever needed a big play in any sport, he’s the one who’s going to do it,” D-Y head coach Paul Funk said of Montalto, who also plays hockey and baseball at the school. “That’s him, that’s his makeup. I’d take that kid anywhere.”

As for toughness?

“(I’d rate him) at the top,” Funk said. “That’s what makes him so great. When your quarterback’s as tough as everybody else, everybody else tows the line.”

Burlington can score in a hurry
Down 28-14 to Arlington in the fourth quarter, the Red Devils bounced back in a hurry, scoring a whopping 29 points over the final few minutes of the contest to take a 43-28 win going away. Freshman Marcus Odiah hauled in a 25-yard Greg Sheridan pass, then recovered a fumble moments later and scored from three yards out. He then ran in the two-point conversion for a 29-28 lead with 1:15 left.

Seconds later, Kyle Shields intercepted a pass, and Odiah ran it in from 40 yards out to make it 36-28. Anthony Cruz then put the clamps on the win with a 52-yard pick-six on an Arlington Hail Mary heave.

One thing is for certain as Middlesex League play begins next week: The Red Devils are a wild card.

Dan Light is a tough guy to wrap up
Last season, we saw glimpses of Dan Light’s ability as a running quarterback for St. John’s (Shrewsbury), when he took direct snaps lined up next to quarterback Griffin Murphy as the Pioneers’ ball-carrier in Wildcat formations. And now that Light, a senior, has made the full transition from tight end to signal-caller, we’re seeing that in full force.

With the No. 4 Pioneers’ 37-8 defeat of Longmeadow yesterday, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound lefty has accumulated over 600 yards of offense and 10 touchdowns through two games. On the ground, he is averaging 11.1 yards a carry, and has hooked up with Cal-bound receiver Richard Rodgers for four touchdowns.

At times, Light has shown Tebow-esque abilities carrying the ball. But it’s the vision he’s developed over the last few weeks that has made him that much more difficult to stop.

“If I looked at him over the last three weeks, he has become a very smart quarterback,” St. John’s head coach John Andreoli said of Light. “Our offense is really designed around looking at the defense and taking advantage of what the defense gives you, and I see Danny taking more ownership of those calls.

“He’s been able to deliver the ball on the long balls, but on the short balls, you know, you see his feet moving around in the pocket and he’s very comfortable. And all of that, when you pull people out of the box and give him the ability to run the ball, he’s a very dangerous player. That’s really the point where we want to get.”

Tewksbury’s visit to Methuen on Oct. 29 will go a long way to deciding the MVC Small crown
With Lawrence’s surprise upset of Lynn English and Tewksbury’s surgical handling of Lincoln-Sudbury on opening weekend, the two teams’ meeting in Tewksbury last Saturday had the potential for greatness. The Redmen, however, wanted none of that, going up 28-6 on Lawrence at the half en route to an easy 35-6 win.

Sean Connolly led the way for Tewskbury with 101 yards on the ground and 105 through the air, totaling two scores, but watch out for tailback Anthony Arcari. He may be one of the more underrated speedsters in the league.

“The whole team likes to play as a family,” Arcari told ESPNBoston’s Neil Carroll. “We talked about that all year and on that one drive the offensive line did their job, the quarterback did his job, we ran the ball well and it demonstrated all that Tewksbury can do.”

Meanwhile over in Methuen, the two-man game of Cal Carroll and Raudy Minaya that works so well during basketball season has finally broken out again on the gridiron. Carroll (11 of 15, 146 yards) easily dispatched much-hyped Malden on Friday night with a strong second half, finishing with five scores through the air – including three to his good buddy – and another on the ground.

This was the Methuen that so many coaches had raved about during preseason.

“We have some of the toughest lineman around,” Carroll told ESPNBoston correspondent Phil Perry. “Steve DiZazzo, Sean Whittaker, they do all the dirty work inside. They watch so much film and work so hard, my success is because of what they can do.”

This week is a brutal one for the MVC Small’s front runners, with Methuen traveling to Billerica, Dracut hosting Central Catholic and Tewksbury visiting Andover. But based on the early returns, we suggest circling October 29 on your calendars.

Not the Raiders of old
Central Catholic proved more than just the point that they could hang with St. John’s Prep in this weekend’s game. The Raiders offensive identity has been altered from years past to incorporate the passing game more.

Although head coach Chuck Adamopoulos said in the preseason he hadn’t seen a definitive No. 1 quaterback emerge, it looks as though Central Catholic has some able bodies at the position. Transfer student Ben Onett was impressive and accurate in his Massachusetts debut against Marlborough a week ago.

But it was junior Matt McDermott who seemed to take hold of the Raiders’ offense this week at St. John’s Prep. Adamopoulos again split time between his quarterbacks on Saturday, but McDermott looked as though he might have a hand up on the competition. He was on the field for each of the Raiders’ scoring drives and seems to have developed a good rapport with his top target, receiver Xavier Peralta.

It was also telling that McDermott was on the field for the Central Catholic’s final drive in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. The Raiders’ chance for a comeback was thwarted by an interception in the game’s waning moments, but it bears watching how the quarterback situation in Lawrence develops in the coming weeks.

No. 1 Brockton and No. 2 Xaverian have been flawless so far, setting up Saturday’s showdown to be one for … well, really, do we need to explain?
Saturday. 1 p.m. Clapboardtree Street, Westwood.

No. 1 versus No. 2.

Public vs. Private.

Need we say more?

HEAD OF THE CLASS, WEEK 2
Taking a look at the weekend’s top performers:
  • Isaiah Jones, Mahar: Tallied 311 yards of total offense and five touchdowns during just the first half in a 46-14 win over Dean Tech. Jones had two rushing scores, two punt returns for a touchdown and an interception return. Mahar ran just 4 plays in first half and was up 46-8 at half.
  • Ryan Vultaggio, Groton-Dunstable: Vultaggio picked up 279 yards on the ground on just 12 carries to go along with four touchdowns in a 52-34 over West Boylston.
  • Nick LaSpada, Billerica: The junior quarterback was stellar once again, completing 15 of 23 pass attempts for 318 yards and one touchdown against Woburn. LaSpada also ran for three touchdowns.
  • Cal Carroll, Methuen: See Phil Perry’s story.
  • Charlie Blackett, Lexington: The senior defensive tackle set up camp in Concord-Carlisle’s backfield to the tune of five sacks and was in on a countless number of other plays.
  • Dan Light, St. John’s (S): The quarterback was superb with 296 yards of offense and five touchdowns in a 37-8 win over Western Mass. power Longmeadow.
  • John Pieterse, Worcester Academy: In his third career start, Pieterse was 16 of 18 for 322 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-14 victory over Blair Academy.

No. 10 Billerica holds off late Burlington charge

September, 12, 2010
9/12/10
12:50
PM ET
WOBURN, Mass. -- Everyone was at Woburn Memorial High Field on Saturday night to watch Nick LaSpada. While the crowd was buzzing over the 2009 Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year’s return, it was Billerica’s defensive effort at crunch time that lifted the Indians to a 35-27 victory over Burlington.

Although Billerica (1-0) was up 21-6 at the half, Burlington (0-1) came back with impressive drives in the fourth quarter.

Down 35-19, the Red Devils rallied back with a 12-play, 97-yard drive, culminating with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Greg Sheridan to Bill Murphy with two minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the game. Burlington failed to recover the ensuing onside kick attempt, but the defense stepped up and held LaSpada from converting a third-down attempt, forcing a Billerica punt.

Burlington’s offense took the field again down by eight, with 1:35 to play. It was then the Indians defense showed its true colors, sacking Sheridan on consecutive plays, setting up a do-or-die fourth-down try.

Ryan Donahoe intercepted Sheridan’s last-ditch pass on fourth down to seal the win.

However, LaSpada shone in his return to the field after tearing ACL and MCL in last year’s playoff loss to Everett. LaSpada finished 14 of 24 with 280 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

His knee looked fine as the 6-foot-2 junior also rushed 15 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

“It was a little shaky in the beginning, throwing the ball and everything,” LaSpada said. “But, as the game went on, I was a little more fluent with my passes.”

LaSpada was poised behind his offensive line and determined to make a good debut. On what he described as a “broken play,” the quarterback took a shotgun-snap, stepped up through the defensive pressure and heaved a 40-yard pass to waiting receiver Matthew Clifford, who walked in for a 69-yard touchdown catch.

The quarterback’s favorite target — Donahoe — had nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.

“He’s a pure thoroughbred,” Billerica head coach Peter Flynn said of Donahoe. “I mean, talk about a burner — we really showcased his talents tonight.”

Burlington’s defense was overmatched for much of the game. However, LaSpada got greedy on a second-quarter play when he was forced out of the pocket. He threw over the middle off his back foot; the result was an interception by Nick Ciardi.

“We didn’t make enough stops and we didn’t capitalize,” Burlington head coach Shawn Maguire said. “But the glaring obvious difference is LaSpada. We just couldn’t stop him enough.”

There were bright spots for the Red Devils in the loss, however.

Sophomore Marcus Odaih finished the game with 10 carries for 157 yards and one touchdown, which came on a 74-yard score on the first play from scrimmage.

But Billerica pulled through and showed mental toughness in key situations—an encouraging sign for their coach.

“We’re excited with this team, the character and the resiliency and everything.” Flynn said. “The mistakes we made out there are coachable, so we can fix them.”

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