Boston High School: Hopedale

Worcester lax works for chance at history

May, 16, 2014
WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Mid-Mass. conference has belonged to Grafton the last five years, but upstart Worcester Combined proved Thursday night that there is room for two at the top of that league.

Behind a buzzer-beating redirection goal and an overtime game-winner from senior captain Jack Gallagher, the Warriors defeated the Indians, 5-4, at Worcester's Foley Stadium.

The win was extra sweet for Worcester, which endured a painful loss at Grafton just five days before when Indian sophomore Chase Kapuscienski threw home a tie-breaking goal with two seconds remaining in regulation. Now, the Warriors are just a win against last-place Hopedale away from a share of their first ever league championship.

"These guys have stuck together," Worcester coach Harry Jones said. "I'm as excited as anybody else (about the Grafton win), but we've got districts coming up, and we're moving on to Hopedale."

[+] EnlargeWorcester Lacrosse
Courtesy of Joe ParelloAfter winning just 10 games in the last eight seasons combined, the Worcester Combined lacrosse team -- which fields players from across the city's schools -- is 12-1 and can clinch a share of the Mid-Mass division title.
With less than 15 seconds to play, Worcester attackman Jahmal Bryan-Massop sprinted downfield, bouncing off defenders and just hoping to create a last-second scoring opportunity. When he launched a shot from the edge of the offensive zone, it appeared Grafton goalie Cadrin Msumba, who had played a nearly flawless game, would snatch the ball up to end the threat.

Instead, Gallagher stepped in front of Msumba and redirected the ball upward, over the goalie's right shoulder and into the net. Moments later, Gallagher intercepted a Grafton pass in Worcester's offensive zone, and threw it home for the game winning goal.

"That last shot needed to happen," Gallagher said. "I needed it, and it happened… I can’t really describe it."

Things started well for Worcester, as the Warriors built an early 2-0 lead. But, thanks to domination of time of possession by Grafton, and the outstanding play of Msumba, Worcester was held without a goal for over 36 minutes of game time. During that span, Grafton's Evan Johnston and Kapuscienski each scored a pair of goals, giving the Indians 4-2 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Even when Quinn Robert ended the Worcester drought with just over 6:30 to play, a Warrior victory seemed out of reach -- well, to everyone but the guys on the Worcester sideline.

"We got scared, but we worked too hard to not win this," Gallagher said afterward. “We came together as a team and made the effort and stuck it out.

The win gives Worcester a shot at history. After winning only 10 games the last eight seasons, the Warriors are 12-1 and need only to beat last-place Hopedale at home on Tuesday for a share of their first ever Mid-Mass title.

After Thursday’s game, Jones expressed just how special the win was to him.

"This is probably the best game as a coach or player I've ever played" Jones told his team in a postgame huddle. "And I played a national championship game guys, at the college level [at Syracuse]. And it's because I love all of you. I come back every day because I love all of you."
The Millis/Hopedale football co-op program is no more and that has cast uncertainty on the upcoming season for some of its players.

In March, a meeting of Tri-Valley League athletic directors voted to disband the co-op team, which has been in place since 2009. On last year’s Mohawks squad, nine players from Hopedale were represented, but now – without being grandfathered into the program for next season – those returning players could be in dire straights.

Without the additional bodies from Hopedale, Millis figures to have 34 players on its varsity roster for the upcoming season – nine more than the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) imposed minimum of 25 players – and first-year head coach Dana Olson told ESPN Boston that he doubts his program will field a junior varsity team. Only one player from Hopedale started for the Mohawks last season.

The move to disband is not the first time the arrangement came under scrutiny. In 2012, the MIAA board on co-op programs granted it an extension. In the co-op system, the host school (Millis) enters the agreement until it is deemed that the said host school can accommodate enough players to field a team on its own.

However, the timing of the decision has left administrators, coaching staff and players scrambling. After the March vote to disband, the athletic directors of Millis and Hopedale wrote appeal letters those TVL athletic directors who voted in opposition to the extension of the co-op, pleading to allow the program one more season to allow holdover players a chance to finish their high school careers, while allowing Hopedale to make according plans for its players past 2014. That measure was also denied in an April vote of TVL athletic directors.

As a result, Hopedale has attempted to find another co-op partner for its players, which as first reported by The Milford Daily News has targeted nearby Blackstone-Millville Regional.

But both parties have held out hope for reconciliation, taking their case before the MIAA in a Monday meeting with the schools’ athletic directors.

“It creates depth, especially, safety-wise,” Olson said of the co-op. “If you’re starting with about 30 kids to start the season and you come across injuries, or concussions, then you’re left with 20 kids and might be forced into the situation of putting freshman or JV-level players into a situation where they might have to play, even if they’re not ready to play at the varsity level. That can be a safety concern, too.”

Olson, who has yet to coach a game since taking over the head coaching position from Dale Olmsted, believes the Mohawks’ recent success, which has included winning seasons and playoff appearances in each of the last three years and producing a Division 1 scholarship player in Boston College’s Jon Baker, made the program an easy target for detractors.

“We worked very hard from taking this program to the brink of folding to becoming a successful program,” said Olson, who is in his fifth year with the program overall. “We don’t want to go back to where we came from. We were a blueprint for what a co-op program should be. It created a sense of community and the kids worked so well together.”

ESPN Boston MIAA All-State Baseball Team

June, 28, 2013

RHP – Tommy McDonald, Sr., BC High
The ace and the workhorse of BC’s rotation, which saw the Eagles make their first D1 South Final appearance since 2009, McDonald often went late into games to pick up a win. He was 7-0 on the season, with a 1.90 ERA, five complete games and just 10 walks. The Quincy resident will continue his career next year at UMass.

LHP – Ben Bowden, Sr., Lynn English
The state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Bowden is a repeat selection, having also made the starting rotation of the All-State Team in 2012. On the season he was 4-2 with 84 strikeouts in 52 innings, with just 10 walks for an ERA of 0.67. He also recorded a .459 on-base percentage at the plate, with 13 RBI. Bowden will play at Vanderbilt next year.

LHP – Scott Tully, Sr., Reading
Another repeat All-State selection, Tully dominated the Middlesex League en route to winning the Liberty division’s MVP. For the season he went 7-1 with 96 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.54. For his career, he has 29 wins and over 400 strikeouts. Tully is headed to Notre Dame next year.

RHP – Evan Flanagan, Sr., Hingham
The Patriot League’s Co-MVP saved his best stuff for the playoffs, as the Harbormen won their first Division 2 state title in school history. On the season he was 6-2 with 79 strikeouts in 56 innings, with five complete games, a 1.75 ERA and a WHIP of 0.93. Flanagan will continue his career next year at the University of Rhode Island.

LHP – Mike Gaughan, Sr., Walpole
One of the state’s most elusive lefties, Gaughan helped lead the Rebels to the No. 1 overall seed in D1 South. He was 10-2 on the season with 117 strikeouts and a 1.88 ERA, and held opponents to a .180 batting average. Gaughan is headed to Division 2 Rollins College (Fla.) next year.


C – Joe Freiday, Jr., Bridgewater-Raynham
One of the state’s leaders in runs plated, Freiday finished the year batting .425, with a .573 on-base percentage, 31 RBI and five home runs. He also drew 21 walks and struck out just 10 times. Freiday is fielding interest from an assortment of Division 1 programs.

INF – Nick Bragole, Sr., St. John’s Prep
Part of one of the state’s most prolific hitting lineups, Bragole put up .403/.532/.758 totals with 21 RBI and six home runs, along with 10 stolen bases, as the Eagles captured the No. 1 seed in D1 North, won 22 straight games and made an appearance in the D1 North final. Bragole is headed to Division 2 St. Anselm College (N.H.) in the fall.

INF – Kenny Michael, Sr., Norwood
Michael catalyzed the Mustangs late in the season when they snatched the Bay State Conference’s Herget Division title in the last week of the regular season. He was named the Herget MVP as he hit .429 with 27 RBI and a home run. Michael will continue his career at Division 2 Southern New Hampshire University.

INF – Alex Toomey, Sr., Beverly
Toomey beat out a number of high-profile players to take the MVP in the Northeastern Conference’s Large division, and deservedly so. For the season he his .431 with eight doubles, 31 RBI and five home runs, only striking out five times. On the mound, he went 6-2 with a 1.33 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 42.1 innings. Toomey is headed to Salem State University next year.

INF – Brandon Bingel, Sr., St. John’s Prep
This year’s recipient of the prestigious ESPN Boston Mr. Baseball Award, Bingel was a force in all three phases of the game to take Catholic Conference MVP for the second straight year. He batted .302 with 20 RBI and two home runs, and went 9-0 on the mound with 76 strikeouts in 58.2 innings, walking just 10 batters, for a 0.97 ERA. Bingel will continue his career at Bryant University.

OF – David MacKinnon, Sr., Oliver Ames
MacKinnon took Hockomock League MVP honors after hitting .500 with 16 RBI. One of the best pure athletes of the bunch, MacKinnon is also an All-American soccer player, and will play both sports at the University of Hartford.

OF – Ian Strom, Sr., Hopedale
Strom was a monster on both the mound and at the plate as the Blue Raiders reached the Division 3 State Final. He hit .514 on the year with 21 RBI and 15 stolen bases, and didn’t strike out all season. On the mound, he was 9-2 with 107 strikeouts in 67.2 innings, for a 1.45 ERA. Strom will continue his career next season at UMass-Lowell.

OF – Mike Bruemmel, Sr., Bridgewater-Raynham
The Co-MVP of the Old Colony League saved his best stroke for last, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning to lead the Trojans to their first Division 1 state title in school history. On the season he batted .341 with a .505 on-base percentage, with 21 RBI and 11 stolen bases. On the mound, he was 6-1 with 69 strikeouts in 41.1 innings, with a 1.82 ERA. Bruemmel is headed to Wheaton College next year.

DH – Malcolm Nachmanoff, Sr., Boston Latin
The Dual County League’s MVP of the Large division, Nachmanoff carried a heavy bat, hitting .507 with 26 RBI and five home runs. He also recorded a 1.45 ERA in 53 innings pitched. Nachmanoff is headed to Loomis Chafee (Conn.) next year for a post-graduate season.


OF – Dan Avery, Sr., Blackstone Valley Tech
Avery excelled both ways for the Beavers, recording .492/.579/.689 totals at the plate with three triples, 26 RBI, 28 runs scored and 18 stolen bases. On the mound, he was 7-2 with a 1.02 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 62 innings, with just eight walks. He will play both football and baseball at Massachusetts Maritime Academy next year.

3B – Ryan Baldwin, Sr., Fairhaven
One of the state’s leaders in home runs, Baldwin hit eight and batted in 34 runs, to finish the season with a .500 average and take South Coast Conference MVP honors. Baldwin will continue his career next year at Barry University (Fla.).

2B – Tommy Buonopane, Sr., St. John’s Prep
Another key cog to the Eagles’ impressive hitting order, Buonopane registered .354/.457/.585 totals with 21 RBI and three home runs, as the Eagles won the Catholic Conference outright. Buonopane is headed to the University of Rhode Island next year.
.354/.457/.585, 21 RBI, 3 HR

2B – Dan Connors, Sr., Danvers
A three-time Northeastern Conference All-Star, Connors captured the Small division’s MVP award after hitting .390, as the Falcons were the top seed in Division 2 North and reached the district final. Connors, a career .365 hitter, will enroll at UMass-Amherst in the fall.

LHP – Mac Curran, Sr., Coyle-Cassidy
A repeat selection, Curran was once again a force on the mound, going 5-2 with a 0.98 ERA as the Warriors captured the Eastern Athletic Conference outright. He also batted .402 with a home run. Curran is headed to Niagara University next season to continue his career.

C – Kyle Devin, Sr., Lynn Classical
One of the state's best arms behind the plate, Devin threw out eight of 12 steal attempts and also had 11 pickoffs. He also hit .410 with 16 RBI, five doubles, two triples, a home run and six stolen bases for the Rams. Devin is headed to Stony Brook next season to continue his baseball career.

SS – Isan Diaz, Jr., Springfield Central
One of the top defensive talents outside of Eastern Mass., Diaz showed off quite a bit with his bat as well, plating 19 runs and registering three home runs as the Golden Eagles once again reached the Division 1 West tournament.

RHP – Drew Foster, Sr., Nashoba
One of the steadiest starters in Central Mass., with a 4-1 record and 0.97 ERA, Foster led the Chieftains through a loaded Division 1 Central field to capture their first district title in program history. Foster is headed to Ohio University next year, where he intends to play club hockey.

RHP – Dustin Hunt, Sr., St. John’s Prep
Arguably the state’s top closer, Hunt embraced the role as the Eagles reeled off 22 straight wins before falling in the D1 North Final. On the season he struck out 31 batters in 27.1 innings, with a 1.54 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. Hunt, an Andover resident, is headed to Northeastern University next season.

RHP – Thomas Jankins, Sr., Quaboag
Jankins was dangerous on the mound and in the batter's box this season for the Cougars. He hit .473 with 19 RBI and two home runs, and was 5-3 with a 0.53 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 52.1 innings. Jankins will continue his career next season at Quinnipiac University.

OF – Tom Landry, Sr., BC High
Landry registered .348/.378/.493 totals at the plate and added 16 RBI and two home runs for the Eagles, who reached their first D1 South Final since 2009. He also struck out just 11 times and drew four walks. Landry will play for Wheaton College next year.

SS – Steven Lee, Sr., Braintree
Lee manned the middle of the Wamps’ order for the last three years, and put up impressive numbers in his senior season. He batted .376 with 26 RBI, one home run, 27 runs scored and 10 stolen bases as Braintree captured its fourth straight Bay State Carey title. He also committed just five errors in the field. Lee is headed to Stonehill College next year.

RHP – David Longstreeth, Soph., Smith Academy
Longstreeth is already over the 300 career strikeout mark, with 21 wins, in his still-blossoming career for Smith. On the season, he went 11-2 with 132 strikeouts in 80.1 innings, as the Falcons reached the Division 3 West Final.

RHP – Mike Lundin, Sr., Silver Lake
Lundin helped lead the Lakers to a Patriot League Fisher division title with his proficiency on the mound, going 7-2 with 86 strikeouts in 65.1 innings with a 0.67 ERA. Lundin will continue his career at Massasoit Community College next season.

OF – Tyler Lyne, Sr., Agawam
Lyne was a catalyst for the Brownies, who won the Valley League and reached the Division 1 West Final. For the season, he registered 16 RBI and two home runs. Lyne will continue his career at Merrimack College next year.

RHP – Donny May, Sr., Coyle-Cassidy
The other overpowering ace for the Warriors’ staff, May went unbeaten as they captured the Eastern Athletic Conference outright. He was 11-0 on the year, with a 0.44 ERA and 89 strikeouts, along with a .438 batting average at the plate. May is headed to Fordham University next year.

SS – David Murphy, Sr., Plymouth North
The Atlantic Coast League’s MVP helped the Blue Eagles to another league title, hitting .429 with 29 RBI and three home runs. He only struck out twice all year. Murphy will take his talents to Massasoit Community College next year.

SS – Noah Parker, Sr., St. Mary (Westfield)
One of the more underappreciated talents across the state, Parker was the catalyst for the Saints, who reached the Division 3 West quarterfinals. Parker registered 28 hits, 20 RBI and two home runs on the season. He will head to Seton Hall University next season as a preferred walk-on.

OF – Anthony Perriello, Sr., Norwood
A powerful hitter manning the middle of the Mustangs’ order, Perriello led the Bay State Conference in batting average (.507) and added 15 RBI and a home run.

RHP – Alex Person, Sr., Xaverian
The Foxborough resident manned the top of the rotation, as the Hawks tried to defend their D1 state title. On the season he struck out 52 batters in 51 innings, going 5-1 with a 2.06 ERA. Person will continue his career at Southern New Hampshire University next year.

C – Matt Phelan, Sr., Northbridge
Phelan was a force at the plate for the Rams, who reached their fourth straight Division 2 Central Final. On the season he hit .484 with 28 RBI and four home runs, and on the mound was 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA. Phelan is headed to St. Anslem in the fall, where he will play football.

RHP – Brendan Ryan, Sr., Newton North
Ryan earned MVP honors in the Bay State Conference’s Carey division, after going 7-1 with a 1.64 ERA and six complete games. Ryan also batted .347 with 17 RBI. He will enroll at the University of South Carolina in the fall.

RHP – Endy Sanchez, Jr., Holyoke
Another member of the 100-K club, Sanchez had one of the best strikeout-to-ratios in Western Mass., fanning exactly 100 batters in 62 innings pitched for the Purple Knights.

RHP – Kevin Superko, Sr., Wellesley
Following in the footsteps of his brother Tim, Superko carried on the name holding down the front of the Raiders’ rotation. On the season he recorded 67 strikeouts in 49 innings, with a 1.02 WHIP and holding batters to a .184 average. He will do a post-graduate season at Philips Andover next year.

RHP – Ryley Warnock, Sr., North Reading
Warnock was dynamic both on the mound and on the basepath for the Hornets, who captured the top overall seed in D3 North. On the mound he was 10-1 with a 0.44 ERA and 72 strikeouts, and at the plate he was .360 with 17 stolen bases. Warnock will continue his career next year at the University of Rhode Island.

LHP – Cody Younger, Sr., Middleborough
Younger came on in the second half of the season and led the Sachems through a gauntlet en route to the Division 3 state title, their first since 1997. On the mound, he was 4-2 with 53 strikeouts and a 1.90 ERA, and delivered wins over the top two seeds in D3 South. At the plate, he had .415/.482/.507 totals with 27 RBI. Younger will do a post-graduate season at Bridgton Academy (Maine) next year.

RHP – Zach Zona, Sr., St. Peter-Marian
Zona led the top of the Guardians’ rotation as they came on late in the regular season to make the Division 1 Central tournament. On the season he was 5-2 with 64 strikeouts in 46.2 innings, with a 1.05 ERA and two no-hitters. Zona will continue his career next season at UMass-Lowell.

D3 Baseball State Final: Middleborough 4, Hopedale 3

June, 15, 2013

LOWELL, Mass. -- This postseason has played out like a movie for Middleborough, with its share of drama, adversity, and triumph making it a story fit for the big screen.

So it was only fitting that the Division 3 state baseball final ended with a walk-off 4-3 victory.

Going into the seventh and final inning, it was tied 2-2. Hopedale’s Kevin Lynch singled to begin the inning and scored three batters later when Cole DeDonato grounded out to second.

[+] EnlargeKevin Huscher
Brendan Hall/ Kevin Huscher smacked a two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh for the walk-off win, giving Middleborough its first state title since 1997.
Hopedale (21-4) took that momentum into the bottom of the inning, bringing in left-hander Ian Strom to close out the game. He walked two of the first three batters he faced, striking out the other. That brought up the top of the Middleborough (21-5) order, but Strom dispatched Paul Sances with a three-pitch strikeout for the second out of the inning.

Neil Perry walked, loading the bases for Kevin Huscher. The senior shortstop had one hit in three at-bats until that point. He sent a single back up the middle, scoring both runners in scoring position and putting an exclamation point on the team’s storybook season.

“To be honest, I was surprised to see (Strom) come out on the mound because he just pitched two days ago,” said Middleborough coach Bill Lawrence. “That’s what I talked to all of our batters about. We watched him warm up and he couldn’t throw a strike during his warm-ups.”

It is the team’s first state baseball championship since 1997.

“We won the same way in ’97, with two outs,” said Lawrence. “These kids have been resilient the whole year, I just didn’t want to come this far and have to turn around and go home as the runner-up. They don’t deserve that.”

Middleborough got on the board first in the bottom of the second when Cody Braga’s sacrifice fly plated Andrew Card. It tied the game in the sixth when Card’s triple off the right field wall scored Huscher.

Hopedale’s Dan Mantoni was effective on the mound, going six innings, allowing five hits striking out seven batters and walking four.

Flashing some leather: While Middleborough leadoff hitter Paul Sances went 0-for-4 at the plate, he helped his team in the field with two highlight catches in left field. Cole DeDonato singled with one out in the fifth, then stole second to get in scoring position. Strom, the next batter up, hit a low line drive to left that forced Sances to run in to play it. Knowing could not make the play on his feet, he dove, making the catch and saving a potential run from scoring.

The next batter, Dan Mantoni, hit a 3-0 pitch deep into the gap in left-center field. Sances sprinted to his left, again hoping to save a potential run from scoring. For the second time in the inning, he went horizontal and made the catch, this time ending the inning and any threat Hopedale had of scoring.

“This park is a little deceiving for us, we couldn’t figure out if he was playing too shallow, too left or right because of the angle we were at,” said Lawrence. “We just kept watching their outfielder and watch him when the ball was hit. So he had it hard, just on that aspect. Those two diving catches, that saved us.”

Close call: For a few seconds, Huscher was almost the goat of the game rather than the hero. He stepped up to the plate and went after the first pitch he saw, sending it deep down the right field line. As the ball hung in the air, he jogged down the first base line, willing the ball to drop or keep heading out of play.

With two outs and the bases loaded, no player wants to be the one to make the final out, especially in the state championship game. It appeared the right fielder had ran it down, until the ball dropped out of reach.

“I was thinking I hope that thing gets down because that would be a terrible way to lose with bases loaded,” he said. “I just wanted to do that one for my team.”

Huscher came back after the long strike and knocked the game winning single up the middle.

“On the first pitch, he threw me a fastball and I took kind of a crazy swing at it and luckily it hit the ground,” he said. “Second pitch I was thinking he was going to come back with something soft because I put a pretty good solid swing on it. He ended up coming back with a fastball and it’s pretty straight, not a lot of movement, and I just put it up the middle.

Honoring Braga: This Middleborough season was dedicated to former teacher and soccer coach Jim Braga, who was tragically killed in a car crash last March. In remembrance, the team sported patches on its jerseys with the initials JB.

His grandson, Cody, plays on the Middleborough baseball team and batted eighth in Saturday’s state championship game. As the game came down to the wire and the last inning unfolded, the team and its coaching staff looked for a little help from above when it needed it the most.

“I just had a feeling,” said Lawrence. “I just kept (looking up at the sky). I said, ‘C’mon Jimmy, get us through here,’ and sure enough it did.”

As the ball fell in foul territory just before the game-winning hit, one was left wondering if there was something special going on at Lalacheur.

“We’ve been pretty much unbeatable lately,” said Huscher. “I’d say definitely we had a few angels with us. Mr. Braga was an awesome guy and I think he would be very proud of the team and the things we accomplished.”

Small's discipline instills Hopedale's Mantoni bros.

June, 15, 2013
Joe Mantoni sat anxiously at his house in Northbridge last weekend, watching the stream of the Major League Baseball Draft on MLB Network. After 17 rounds in the books, he got bored.

Sure enough, soon after he left to go play pick-up basketball with some of his friends, he got a call from his father the Cincinnati Reds had drafted the former Hopedale star in the 18th round of the draft, with the 555th pick.

Mantoni, who served as Merrimack College’s designated hitter and closing pitcher this past season, led the team with 36 RBI; on the mound, he had a 1.61 ERA in 28 innings pitched.

“It’s a surreal moment honestly,” Mantoni said. “I had a feeling I’d get picked, I just didn’t know when. It happened earlier than I thought.”

The next day, Mantoni looked on at Tivnan Field as his younger brother Dan, a senior, pitched a complete game three-hitter to lead the Blue Raiders to the Central Mass. Division 3 championship. Dan took care of business in the batter’s box too, hitting a two-run double to break a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning. The win over Oxford came about a year after Hopedale lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to the Pirates in last year’s district final.

“We had a good sixth inning, Danny had a key hit,” Hopedale head coach Joe Small said. “My guys wanted to play them, we saw brackets and they were on the other side, they said we’d like to play [Oxford] if we we’re lucky enough to get there. Another good game, luckily.”

After the game, the coach quickly refocused his team on the goals that they had set.

“He was excited, he said he couldn’t be prouder of us in the way we battled. He also said don’t be satisfied, we’re still playing...typical Coach Small,” Mantoni laughed. “He was on to the next game already.”

Days later, Blue Raiders’ co-ace Ian Strom, a potential all-state candidate who is headed to play baseball at Division 1 UMass-Lowell, pitched a complete game against Western Mass. champ Frontier Regional, to give Hopedale a berth in the state championship game.

To add a little more sentiment to the equation, this season will be Small’s last year at the helm for the Blue Raiders. Small, a 1970 graduate of Hopedale High School, has been Hopedale’s coach for 24 years. Current and former players, including the Mantoni’s, say Small’s fire and energy on the bench has taught them motivation and discipline.

“So many different ways he’s helped us: him pushing us harder -- he’s as much a competitor as anybody on the team. He wanted to win that game just as much as anybody. It showed. The guy really wants to win, it did add some extra motivation,” says Dan.

Small praised Joe after getting taken by the Reds, adamant that Mantoni’s weight-room dedication was the reason for his impressive improvement at Merrimack.

“His body has changed...he got on a weight program--he’s a hard worker,” Small said. “He’s not going to wanna’ talk about it, though.”

Dan seconded his coach’s comment: “Joe’s too humble to really toot the horn about it.”

Joe says his dedication to working out explains why his fastball has jumped into the low-90’s.

“[Lifting] was a huge part, over my four years at college I got stronger every year, I gained good weight every year,” Joe said. “My fastball velocity kept rising each year. I knew that was a huge part of my reason for getting picked: I spent a lot of time in the weight room.”

Joe left on Monday, making his way to Arizona for training before he gets called to the Reds’ rookie ball affiliate in Billings, Mont. some time this summer. In reflecting on his brother’s journey from a Division 3 high school, to Division 2 college, to Cincinnati Reds draft pick—Dan says he hopes young local players take not of Joe’s hard work and dedication.

“He’s always been someone I look up to, admired, respected because of the way he plays the game. He works harder than anybody I’ve ever met. The work paid off for him and I’m happy, I try to follow his footsteps. It lets me push a little bit harder, every step of the game, that I can be like him someday. Him being there, he reached a dream that every kid playing Little League has.”

Dan continued, “I hope people, those who have seen him play and younger kids, can model his work ethic. You don’t see it happen that much...people can see this kid from Hopedale who went to a D2 college and got drafted. He got the opportunity, and took advantage of it. I look at him as a role model, and I hope other kids around here do too.”

Dan -- who will play college baseball next year at UMass-Boston and says he will play “wherever the coach wants me to be," -- will have the opportunity tomorrow to play for the Division 3 state championship against Middleborough. The win would mark the first of Small’s career as coach at the annual D3 power. Putting the 328 career wins and countless district championships aside, the veteran coach says there are but a few things he hopes that current and former players take from his tenure as coach.

“The key to this whole coaching stuff is discipline," he said. "I let them play ball, kids nowadays they don’t play enough ball -- it’s all drills. I learned in practice, sometimes you do some drills and then we play—we scrimmage a lot. If there’s one thing I want them to learn from me, is I don’t want them to think losing is fun. It’s not okay.”

ESPN Boston MIAA Baseball State Finals Picks

June, 14, 2013
Nashoba (21-3) vs. Bridgewater-Raynham (20-5)

Brendan Hall: Assuming Nashoba will go with Drew Foster, hero of the Central Mass. Final, on the hill, the B-R bats are in for a difficult time. Foster can pound with the best of them, and he's been tough to pick up from the second half of the season on. Still, this B-R hitting order is deep, and has seen some of the top pitching in Eastern Mass. to get to this spot. I like another big day for Mike Bruemmel, Joe Freiday and that nasty middle of the order. Pick: B-R

Chris Bradley: B-R makes great defensive plays, they have a deep bullpen, and everybody in their order has the ability to come through with a clutch hit. Nashoba's pitching staff is deep too, so B-R isn't going to have the wiggle room to make three errors like they did against Billerica. But expect the Trojans to break this one open late in the game. Pick: B-R


Hingham (20-6) vs. Auburn (20-4)

Hall: Hingham's Evan Flanagan delivered one of the best pitching performances of the playoffs, striking out 16 in a D2 South semifinal win over Nauset, and he's sure to give the Rockets some trouble early on. But this is the same Auburn team that one month ago took care of Plymouth North with ease, plating 12 runs on them in their own unfriendly confines. That same Plymouth North team very nearly eliminated Hingham early in the D2 South tournament. Pick: Auburn

Bradley: Auburn has now won eight games in a row after a few tough losses in the middle of the season. I'll take the Rockets in a close one, look for their offense to try to jump on Hingham's pitching early -- as they've done so well all season. Pick: Auburn


Hopedale (21-3) vs. Middleborough (20-5)

Hall: I'm not sure how many times this season Hopedale faced a curveball as sharp as the one thrown by Middleborough lefty Cody Younger, but I'm not sure it's going to matter. Dan Mantoni will have a full tank, and potential All-State candidate Ian Strom can mash with the best across any team in D3 statewide. Pick: Hopedale

Bradley: The Blue Raiders have given up just four runs over the course of their five game run to the state final. Dan Mantoni will have had six days rest by the time Saturday rolls around--expect a big game from him on the mound with a stingy defense behind him. Pick: Hopedale

CMass softball: Grafton, Leicester to meet again in final

June, 6, 2013
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Early on, you had a feel that Kendal Roy was on her game.

The Grafton hurler had the dubious task of trying to curtail top-seed Hudson in Wednesday's Central Mass. Division 2 semifinal held at Worcester State University's Rockwood Field.

Having lost to the Hawks back on April 20, Roy had no intentions of seeing that defeat be played out again, especially in the postseason. There would be no déjà vu this time around as Roy put forth a masterful performance inside the circle, allowing just two hits and striking out 12 to lead the Indians to a 3-0 victory.

"It always feels good to beat a very good team," Grafton coach John Gemme said. "A lot of teams want to be where we are and to face good competition and be here at Worcester State."

No. 4 Grafton (21-2) will now play in its third consecutive final here on Saturday beginning at 5 p.m. The Indians will face No. 3 Leicester for a third consecutive year. Both teams split the previous two district final meetings.

Against Hudson, Roy started strong and stayed that way. Through the first 5 1/3 innings, the junior flirted with perfection having allowed no hits or walks until it was broken up on a Laura Hydro infield single.

Meanwhile, the defending state champion Indians had already built its three run lead against Hawks stellar pitcher Jurnee Ware.

To Hudson's credit, it wasn't going down without a fight. Kara Knights led off the Hawks seventh with a single. Haley Gaffney then reached on an error. One out later, Chelsey Scovil lined a single to right loading the bases. Poised and determined, Roy regrouped and struck out the next two batters to seal the win.

"Hudson has always been a team with strong hitters," said Roy. "They started to get with how I throw in the later innings so I knew I had to change up my game plan a bit. I started going inside on them a lot more to get them off-balanced. It's a hard pitch to hit when it's right at your letters."

Ware never quite got into a rhythm as she surrendered six hits and struck out four. Two walks to open the game put Ware in trouble early. Grafton got a run out of it thanks to Roy's RBI fielder's choice. The Indians added another run the next frame. Michelle Goulet singled and scored on Ali Page's single.

Ware appeared to settle down a bit after that. But in the fifth, the senior ran into more problems. Singles by Page and Tara Faford had runners at second and third. Page sprinted home on Roy's ground out to shortstop. Ware was able to avoid any further damage in the frame and keep it a three-run game.

But on this night, a three-run cushion looked very favorable. At the plate, the Hawks were showing little resistance against Roy until they finally woke up a bit in the final inning before having the lights turned out on them putting an end to this tilt.

"We didn't go down without a fight," said Hudson first-year coach Mary Beth Ryan, wrapping up her season at 20-2. "Give credit to Kendal [Roy], she kept us on our toes.

“Grafton is a great team. They made some great plays tonight. Jurnee [Ware] struggled some early. You put a couple people on and it comes back to haunt you. But I thought she battled back hard too."

Leicester 3, Notre Dame Academy 2
Everything was working right for Notre Dame Academy. Facing one of the better hitting teams in all central Mass, Rebels pitcher Casey Arpin was baffling the Wolverines at every turn with a nice mix of fastballs and off-speed junk.

Through the first five innings of Wednesday's Division 2 Central Mass. semifinal, the junior had allowed no runs and given up just four hits.

Meanwhile, Arpin's teammates had staked her to a two-run lead after scoring a pair in the third inning. But Leicester (20-2) managed to hold its frustrations in check and finally found its offensive nitch in the sixth. The Wolverines scored three runs in the frame to come out on top, 3-2, and advance to Saturday's final. Leicester last reached the final in 2011.

The seventh-seeded Rebels close out their year at 17-6.

The Wolverines difference-making frame began with Kelly Shea reaching base on a dropped fly ball from left fielder Caroline Andreoli. The one play seemed to light a fire underneath the Wolverines. Lauren Tuiskula smashed a double to left plating Shea to make it 2-1. Samantha Rivers followed by singling to right to score Tuiskula to deadlock this contest. Rivers would score the go-ahead tally after Ashley George grounded a hard single up the middle.

Tuiskula, now in the pitcher's circle, served up a one out double to Meghan Sullivan but left here there after retiring the next two Rebel batters to end the game.

"It shows you just have to keep fighting and keep playing," Leicester coach Dave Stanick said. "We made a couple of mistakes to give them their runs but we started to hit the ball and put it in play. We get a runner on after a dropped ball. It's unfortunate but it's part of the game and from there we were able to take advantage of that. This year when teams have made mistakes we have taken advantage of them."

The Rebels led by two after Sullivan doubled and scored on an error by second baseman Kiley Hennessey. NDA's second run came via an RBI single from Victoria Pitney.

"We just didn't make the plays in that particular inning and that's the way it goes," Rebels coach Ed Savage said. "We knew Leicester was a very good hitting team and my pitcher did a nice job keep the ball away from them. We knew we had to pitch most of their hitters on the outside corner to be successful. But give Leicester credit because when we made a mistake they took advantage of it. So hats off to them."

Quaboag 7, Hopedale 1
Leading 1-0 through four innings, Quaboag busted its Division 3 CMass semi-final tilt against Hopedale wide open in its half of the fifth. The seventh-seeded Cougars plated six runs against Blue Raiders pitcher Lauren Kapatoes and rolled to a 7-1 victory.

Quaboag (17-6) meets Assabet Valley, the No. 4 seed, in Saturday's final here beginning at 3 p.m. Assabet took the CMass title last year. No. 6 Hopedale completes its season at 16-7.

In the fifth, the Cougars loaded the bases setting up an Andrea Koslowski RBI single. Danielle Sweet, who reached on a fielder's choice and Koslowski would both score shortly thereafter on a Blue Raider error to lead 3-0. The frame continued with a bases-loaded walk to Harlie Wdowiak. Moments later, Sarah Nye plated two more with a line single to right.

The Cougars struck for a run in the fourth inning. Koslowski led the frame off with a double to center field and and scored on Wdowiak's deep fly to center. Kapatoes drove in Hopedale's lone run in the seventh on a SAC fly.

Roundtable: Preseason MIAA hoop primer

November, 25, 2012
With the first MIAA-sanctioned practices of the 2012-13 season set to commence tomorrow, today we're looking at the top storylines and top players from across the state.

Check back with us later in the preseason for our first Top 25 poll and our Preseason All-State Teams. But for now, here are the storylines to watch, and our projected Super Teams.


Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools editor

Reading Machine Rages On
Had it not been for Andover and superstar Nicole Boudreau, the Division 2 state champ Reading Rockets would have been garnering far more attention last season. The Rockets were one of the state's most dominant forces from wire to wire, going 25-0 en route to the program's first state title. They were one of the state's most explosive offenses (64.3 points per game), and blew out nearly everyone -- their average margin of victory was 27.1, with their only threats coming in the North final (49-46 over Arlington Catholic) and Eastern Mass. Final (71-64 over Scituate, in overtime).

The conversation in Reading starts with Richmond-bound guard/forward Olivia Healy, a two-time ESPN Boston All-State and one of the early favorites for our Miss Basketball award. The 5-foot-10 senior can play any position on the floor, excels on the boards, and is as physical as they come. But every superstar needs a supporting cast, and you can't do much better than Assumption-bound guard Morgan O'Brien in that regard.

With Andover expected to level off following the graduation of one of the MIAA's best ever (Boudreau), we're most likely looking at Reading starting the year at No. 1 in our statewide girls' poll, which will be released later this preseason.

Fierce, Fierce City A
Over the offseason, the Boston City League voted overwhelmingly to split into three tiers for boys basketball, based on competitive balance. And with it, the city's "A" division instantly becomes the state's toughest league. City A is comprised of Brighton, New Mission, Madison Park, Charlestown and East Boston -- all teams expected to start the season in our statewide Top 25 poll -- and with the new scheduling setup, we're looking at appointment viewing in the city nearly every night.

Charlestown-Eastie, Mission-Brighton and Eastie-Madison are the city's three fiercest basketball rivalries. Now, on top of those series, we're getting two installments of Mission-Madison, Brighton-Eastie, Charlestown-Mission, Madison-Brighton, and so forth. Brighton and MP figure to be the favorites here, but this is going to be an absolute grinder of a league. Of the highest degree.

Swat Team
Anyone that watched the University of Kentucky last season can tell you how valuable Anthony Davis was despite an unpolished offensive game. Heck, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four despite going just 1-for-10 from the field in the championship game.

Last year our Defensive Player of the Year award went to a guard, Stoughton's Marcus Middleton, but I'm looking at a number of frontcourt shot-blockers to contend for the award. Any conversation about swatters in the MIAA has to begin with New Mission's Isshiah Coleman, but keep an eye on Cambridge's Fredens Deneus, a 6-foot-6 junior who is expected to have a breakout season. Rockland's Tyler Gibson, a UMass-Lowell commit, will alter many a shot in the South Shore League. Also keep an eye on Holy Name's Dan Kegbeh, only 6-foot-1 but blessed with some impressive ups.

On the girls' side, Holy Name's Brianna Frias is my early favorite for Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot junior committed to Providence over the summer, and averaged six blocks per game last season as the Naps went 20-0 in the regular season and captured the No. 1 seed in Division 1 Central.

Sizzlin' Sophs
Across the state, there are a number of Class of 2015 players to get excited about. Springfield Central's Chris Baldwin has yet to play in an MIAA game, having played his freshman season down the street at Hillside School, but he is already garnering significant hype. Wakefield's Bruce Brown showed freak athletic ability at times during his freshman campaign for the Warriors, and figures to be regarded as one of the state's elite by season's end. Same for Mansfield's Brendan Hill and St. John's of Shrewsbury's Davon Jones.

Central Catholic junior Tyler Nelson is on the short list as everyone's favorite shooter, and deservedly so, but Newton North sophomore guard Tommy Mobley is as automatic as they come. He plays a different role for the Tigers than his older brother, 6-foot-8 Yale forward Greg Kelley, did several years ago. But when you talk about the elite shooters in the state, Mobley has the potential to be in that conversation.

Also keep an eye on Falmouth guard Craig Green, a three-sport star who's already on the radar for track and field. He turned many heads last June, when he placed third in New Englands in the 100-meter dash. He has run as fast as a 10.6 in the event so far in his young career.

On the girls' side, we all know the capabilities of Braintree's Molly Reagan. The 6-foot-1 center was a key cog in the Wamps' run to the Division 1 South title last March, and she already holds Division 1 offers. On the flip side, Archbishop Williams' Jaylen Williams committed to Penn State this past summer despite playing limited minutes for the Bishops.

But the potential speaks for itself. For one, Williams is 6-foot-3 and long. For another, there is plenty of pedigree. She is the daughter of former New England Patriots defensive lineman Brent Williams, and the younger sister of two high Division 1 college football players -- North Carolina offensive tackle Brennan Williams, and Ohio State linebacker Camren Williams.

Open Waters in the North
I'm not sure which will be the more interesting race in the North -- Division 1 girls, or Division 2 boys.

In Division 1 girls, we're looking at a number of contenders in the North. Nobody's counting out Andover in spite of the talent graduated, but it should be an interesting race in the Merrimack Valley Conference with Central Catholic and Billerica figuring to start the year high in many polls. Lincoln-Sudbury will be another contender, led by Lafayette-bound forward Ashley Lutz, as will be Lynn English and reigning Northeastern Conference MVP Catherine Stinson. The ultimate wild card might be Cambridge, led by Georgia Tech-bound guard Donnaizha Fountain. And don't count out Somerville, either, with Indira Evans in the fold.

Division 2 North will be an interesting bracket. New Mission returns a strong core, but so does Brighton, behind returning All-State guard Malik James, forwards Nick Simpson and Prince Unaegbu, and one of the state's best shooters, Daivon Edwards. Ditto Wakefield, with Bruce Brown expected to have a breakout year alongside seniors Kendall Hamilton and Mikol Blake-Green.


G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
G - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway
G/F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
F - Ashley Lutz, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree


Ryan Kilian
Editor-in-Chief, New England Prep Stars

Central Reign
Can Central Catholic represent Eastern Massachusetts in the state finals this season in Division 1? Central returns a battle tested and veteran group that represented EMass Division 1 as the top seed in last season’s MIAA tournament. Central boasts key returnees Tyler Nelson, Joel Berroa, Doug Gemmell and Nick Cambio.

Veteran Sophomore Talent
Mansfield’s Brendan Hill and Wakefield’s Bruce Brown are two of the top returning players in Massachusetts. They are also only sophomores. Both sophomores started and lead their respective teams deep into tournament play as freshman and we can expect even bigger seasons from both this year.

Best Frontcourt?
Massachusetts has a very strong group of point guards this season but the depth in the frontcourt is down in part of the continued flood of players to prep schools. New Mission (Nate Anderson and Isshiah Coleman) and Central Catholic (Gemmell and Cambio) are at the top of the frontcourt ranks but look out for North Andover and Charlestown to also have improved front lines with the development of returning veterans as well as additions of new talent to the mix.

Replacing Boudreau
It will be impossible to replace two-time Miss Basketball Nicole Boudreau (Boston College), but Andover does return senior Devon Caveany, and the glue of the squad in top defenders Jackie and Rebecca Alois. Expect some more classic Central Catholic and Andover battles for years to come in the MVC.

Special time for City of Braintree
The city of Braintree boasts some the best young female talent in the state, with Braintree High School and Archbishop Williams sharing city quarters.

Braintree returns Coach of the Year Kristen McDonnell and a lineup featuring returning senior Rachel Norton, and sophomores Ashley Russell, Bridget Herlihy, and Molly Reagan. Archbishop Williams returns Southern New Hampshire commits Olivia Conrad and Sara Ryan along with Alana Gilmer and Penn State commit Jaylen Williams.


G - Bruce Brown, Soph., Wakefield
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central

G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G - Donaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge Rindge
G - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
G - Tajanay Veiga-Lee, Sr., Fenway
F - Saliah Serrette, Sr., Weston


Chris Bradley
ESPN Boston correspondent

Springfield Central Is Back
Saying that Kamari Robinson and sophomore transfer Chris Baldwin are the best frontcourt in the state is no stretch. Robinson helped lead Central to last year’s division 1 state title, averaging a double double while the Golden Eagles went undefeated against MIAA opponents. The 6-foot-7 Baldwin is already drawing in interest from high major division 1 college programs. A strong, athletic forward who is known for his rebounding and sky-rising dunks, he’ll make quite a duo with Robinson, a member of last year’s ESPN Boston All-State Team.

Senior Cornelius Tyson could be primed for a big year as well. The 6-foot-1 guard made quite a showing in last year’s state championship game against Brockton, knocking down four 3-pointers in the second half to lead Central to the Division 1 title.

Can anyone knock off St. John's of Shrewsbury?
The Inter-High has two legitimate Top 25 teams in Worcester South and Doherty. Will this finally be the year that St. John’s doesn’t run away with the Division 1 tournament in Central Mass.? The Pioneers have won five consecutive Central Mass. Division 1 championships, and return yet another talented core from last year’s team. Sophomore point guard Davon Jones has already asserted himself as one of the best guards in the western half of the state, juniors Charlie Murray and TJ Kelley will be a tough duo on the post, and 6-foot-5 senior Ken Harrington is one of the best shooters in central Mass.

Brighton looking for revenge
Last year’s loss to Mahar in the Division 2 state title game was demoralizing to say the least for the Bengals, but another year of maturity should help Brighton come tournament time this year. Junior playmaking guard Malik James will be one of the very best in the MIAA, and he’ll have plenty of weapons around him with forward Nick Simpson and guards Theo Oribhabor and Daivon Edwards. The Boston City League will be a rock fight this year, but battle-tested Brighton will reap the benefits of a tough schedule come tournament time.

New Mission young, but talented
Sophomore guards Greg Bridges, Randy Glenn, and Juwan Gooding will make for quite a show this year when put together with 6-foot-5 forward Isshiah Coleman and 6-foot-7 forward Nate Anderson. The Titans will be young, with less experience at the guard position than many of their opponents, but when all is said and done this could end up being the most talented team in the state this year.

Who will emerge in D3?
Picking favorites in Division 3 is like splitting hairs. Wareham has Darien Fernandez, a waterbug considered one of the best point guards in the state. Danvers returns four starters from last year’s state title team. Quaboag has one of the best inside-out duos in D3 with Thomas Jankins and sophomore Jake Wisniewski. Hopedale has a deep, versatile lineup. Whitinsville Christian has won three straight central Mass. championships. Out in Pittsfield, St. Joseph Central returns the majority of their core from last year’s state finals team—including scoring guard Taverick "Tank" Roberson. Any of these teams could emerge and make a deep run into the tournament in February and March.


G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
F - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway
G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
F - Casey McLaughlin, Sr., Central Catholic
F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading

Recruiting Notes: All eyes on Millis' Baker

October, 16, 2012
U.S. Senator John Kerry used to live in Millis, which is also known for the Millis Lights and a ginger ale company now known as Canada Dry.

The next big thing from Millis? It will likely be Jon Baker, a 6-foot-3, 300-pound two-way lineman who plays for the Millis-Hopedale co-op program.

Baker, a junior, picked up a scholarship offer from the University of Massachusetts –- his first offer -– last May. Offers from Boston College and Connecticut came shortly thereafter.

“Harvard has also offered him in the way that they can,” Millis-Hopedale coach Dale Olmstead said. “They'll support his application is the way they put it.”

Baker has been a varsity starter since the first day of his freshman season. He played center that year, but has since been moved to guard. He lines up at noseguard as well.

“All four of the schools are great schools,” Baker said. “Obviously education is important, but so is football. Right now everything is still an option. It's still pretty early.”

According to Olmstead, Baker is being recruited to play one of the interior offensive line positions. Baker said he would prefer to play offensive line, but hasn't ruled out playing defense in college either.

“BC has shown the most interest,” Olmstead said. “Coach [Sean] Devine is pretty thorough. They want to make him their center. They want to make him their poster child because he's a 4.0 student interested in pre-med.”

Baker, 17, popped on the radar after a strong showing at BC's camp last summer. That's where the Harvard coaches first noticed him.

Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid is scheduled to be at Millis-Hopedale on Monday. Michigan and Stanford are among the other schools that have shown strong interest. He attended a camp at Virginia this summer, and visited Michigan as well.

“Michigan [assistant coach Curt Mallory] has been by three times,” Olmstead said. “They're very interested in him. Stanford is a strong academic school with good football, so that might be a good fit. After the season I expect every school in the country to come calling.”

Baker said he has no timetable for committing to a school, but added that he would prefer to have the decision made before the start of his senior season.

“That would be nice,” he said. “I'll make it when it feels right. There's no hurry.”

Mass. appeal: No one can accuse the University of Massachusetts of ignoring local talent. The Minutemen extended an offer to St. John's Prep junior running back Jon Thomas on Tuesday night. Thomas ran for 233 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-8 victory over St. John's (Shrewsbury) last weekend.

Five New England players from the Class of 2013 have committed to UMass: quarterback Todd Stafford (The Brunswick School, Greenwich, Conn.), defensive end Peter Ngobidi (Catholic Memorial), defensive tackle Terrel Correia (Nantucket), offensive tackle Tyson Henderson (St. George's School, Middletown, R.I.) and defensive end Cole Ormsby (Windsor High School, Windsor, Conn.).

UMass has made an offer to at least one Class of 2013 player in four of the six New England states.

Footnotes: Twelve players from Connecticut (Class of 2013) have committed to Division I schools. Massachusetts currently has eight Division I commitments in the Class of 2013...The highest-rated uncommitted player from New England is Tabor Academy's Tevin Montgomery, a three-star defensive tackle who has narrowed his choices to Boston College, Vanderbilt and Virginia...Three-star wide receiver David Coggins (Sacred Heart, Waterbury, Conn.) said Massachusetts, Stony Brook, Temple and Illinois are the schools showing the most interest. Coggins decommitted from Boston College last month.

Recruiting information regarding high school or prep school players in New England can be sent to Roger Brown at

Notes from Mass. HS football combine

May, 7, 2012
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -– The Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association put on their annual scouting combine for rising seniors this afternoon at Gillette Stadium.

Some notes and observations on the happenings abound:

Baker on the Rise: Millis/Hopedale sophomore lineman Jon Baker is quickly rising on the recruiting radar both locally and nationally, not just for his imposing physicality in the trenches, but for his demeanor off the field as well. Coaches rave about his maturity; with the media, he is typically cordial and pointed in his answers.

But this question has him pausing for a moment, weighing over the right words to say: How would you describe yourself as a player?

“He’s thinking, so that’s a good thing,” chuckles his head coach, Dale Olmstead, just a few feet behind him. “Listen, I love seeing him sweat, because he does so many things so well. Now to see him squirm like this, I’m enjoying that.”

Finally, Baker begins, “I guess I’m physical…I like to hit. I like to pull. Move, block, you know, linemen stuff.”

These days, it’s hard to tell what’s the more impressive story coming out of Millis’ program these days: the Mohawks’ turnaround under Olmstead, capped with an appearance in the Division 4 playoffs last fall; or that out of such a small school with roughly 150 boys to pick from, this 6-foot-4, 305-pounder already holds a scholarship offer from one Division 1 school (UMass) and building varying degrees of interest from a score of others (Michigan, Viriginia, Boston College, Maryland, UConn, Stanford).

Wearing his frame well and with plenty of upside, Baker was named a Tri-Valley League All-Star in 2011, and will figure to rack up plenty more hardware over the next two seasons.

Athletically, he is quite impressive. He runs close to a 5.1-second 40-yard dash, benches over 400 and squats over 500. At the combine, he did 32 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press, the most out of any of the 300-plus participants.

As it currently stands, Baker said he will visit camps this summer at Virginia, BC and Wake Forest, with Michigan a possibility as well.

“It’s exciting definitely, just to know schools like that are interested in me,” Baker says quietly. “It’s a good feeling.”

Mo Carries, Mo Passes? Xaverian’s Maurice Hurst Jr., an ESPN Boston All-State selection last fall, was on site to support his teammates, but did not participate in drills. That didn’t stop the 6-foot-2, 290-pounder from stretching out with others during warm-ups and doing a few handstands.

You can place the big guy in the category of locals that have seen their stock take a meteoric rise, at least by Massachusetts standards. Like Catholic Memorial stars Armani Reeves and Cam Williams last year, and like Everett offensive tackle John Montelus this spring, Hurst has at least a dozen offers from Division 1 schools, including Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, UConn, Maryland, Nebraska, Missouri, North Carolina, BC and UMass.

“It’s been pretty hectic,” Hurst said of the last few months. “A lot of schools have contacted me, and then all the fans, everyone just trying to make me make a decision as soon as possible.”

Hurst attended Ohio State’s spring game last month, and has also taken unofficial visits to Virginia, North Carolina, Duke and NC State. He says he won’t be making any decision until after he has visited Michigan and Michigan State, dates for which haven’t been planned yet.

You can attribute part of the sudden rise in Hurst’s stock in one impressive touchdown run against St. John’s of Shrewsbury last fall. Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson typically pairs Hurst with tailback Hunter Taute in the backfield when in goal line and short-yardage situations. In this particular run, Hurst lined up at tailback, trucked a Pioneers defensive back and reeled off a 75-yard touchdown run in Vince Wilfork-like fashion.

Hurst made our All-State Team last season as a defensive tackle, and that will be his assignment at the next level. But six months after that posterizing run, Hurst is getting giddy talking about learning the passing tree.

That’s right, the big guy will be in 7-on-7’s this summer. Better yet, there’s a chance we could see him catching passes out of the backfield come the fall.

For now, though, Hurst will focus on improving his speed and conditioning – “A LOT of conditioning,” he adds.

Eyes on Chuddy: Out of all the line prospects in this Class of 2013, Dighton-Rehoboth’s Chuddy Nwachukwu might be the one with the most untapped potential.

For one, he is a legit 6-foot-7, and the younger brother of Mary Nwachukwu, currently a 6-foot-2 basketball center at St. John’s University. Chuddy went through some dominant stretches during the season for the Falcons, but also played at as much as 345 pounds.

Head coach Dave Driscoll says Chuddy, who was not present at the combine, has slimmed down to about 310 pounds. Chuddy has been working out five days a week with Greg Homel, a trainer at UMass-Dartmouth who has also helped develop former Dartmouth High standout and Minnesota Vikings running back Jordan Todman. All of Chuddy’s times, Driscoll says, have gone down, while “his agility has gone up.”

“He’s going in the right direction,” Driscoll said. “He is going to have to show D1 coaches that he is someone who is going in the right direction, and someone they can mold into what they want.”

In the meantime, as Driscoll alluded to, the Division 1 suitors are keeping tabs. NC State told Driscoll they are looking for three tackles for the 2013 recruiting class, while UConn told Driscoll they are in need for “quite a few” offensive linemen. Penn State, Iowa, Boston College and UMass are also showing varied degrees of interest.

Garcia A Sleeper? Legendary former Leominster coach John Dubzinski was seen walking around the Gillette turf this afternoon, but he wasn’t there to just catch up on old times. The names John, Walt and Mike Dubzinski are all household names in Central Mass., and now that coaching tree has extended into the Boston area.

John Dubzinski is now an assistant coach for his son, John, who is going into his second season as the head man for Arlington High. The Spy Ponders went 3-8 last season, and have struggled for most of the last two decades, but are on the up and up under this new regime.

And better yet, they might have one of the more underrated talents around.

Matt Garcia stars at both running back and linebacker for the Spy Ponders, and has been picking up interest from UMass and New Hampshire as of late. You have to think back to Liam Ezekiel, a former Buffalo Bill and all-time great at Northeastern, for the last time Arlington sent a linebacker to the Division 1 ranks. But Garcia certainly passes the eye test right now.

Wildcat Pride: Several players from the Gardner High squad were donning t-shirts with the score of their 2011 Thanksgiving game with archrival Oakmont Regional across the front – for the unfamiliar, that reads “Gardner 21, Oakmont 0”.

Full disclosure time. I’m an Oakmont alum, and in my three years on the Spartans’ varsity sideline we never lost to the Wildcats – including twice on their turf, Watkins Field. And if I’m not mistaken, we still hold a 2-to-1 advantage in overall wins in this series, arguably one of the most heated rivalries in Central Mass.

Still, not cool fellas...

MIAA Sectional Hoop Finals: Picks Reset

March, 9, 2012
Last month, prior to the MIAA Basketball Tournament seedings, I listed a number of teams in each division to be considered true contenders for the state championship. One week later, on the first day of the MIAA tournament, I went a little deeper and made my predictions for each of the 14 boys basketball brackets.

Conveniently, this has been one of the wildest MIAA tournaments in recent years. Last night, No. 1 seeds Central Catholic and North Andover went down in their respective brackets; that adds to a number of other contenders getting knocked out, including King Philip, Cardinal Spellman, Falmouth, Catholic Memorial, BC High, Holy Name and Manchester-Essex.

The next 48 hours figure to be just as crazy. We'll be covering all 12 of Saturday's North and South sectional finals, as well as Sunday's Division 1 Central final between St. John's (Shrewsbury) and St. Peter-Marian, so be sure to stick with us throughout the weekend.

For now, I've gone back and hit the reset button on my pre-tournament picks. Here's how I think Saturday and Sunday's slate will turn out.

(NOTE: Division 4 Finals are being played tonight)


Division 1 North
Charlestown (19-4) vs. Lexington (17-7)
Nobody could have predicted this for a final -- and if you did, I have a time warp I'd like to sell you. After some early struggles, the Minutemen have picked up the slack under second-year coach Reggie Hobbs, beating Boston Latin, Westford and Acton-Boxborough in succession to get here. But with Central Catholic and A-B out of the way, the Townies have a clearer path. Expect another big game from Tyrese Hoxter and Co. Pick: Charlestown

Division 2 North
Wakefield (17-6) vs. Brighton (19-4)
Reports of Brighton's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Once thought to be stumbling following the loss of star forward Nick Simpson and subsequent early exit from City Championships, the Bengals have roared to life behind Daivon Edwards and Malik James. Ditto for Wakefield, which came into this tournament a mystery, but has suddenly put the state on notice after knocking off No. 1 overall seed North Andover last night. Pick: Brighton

Division 3 North
Danvers (18-4) vs. Saugus (14-9)
I said this was Danvers' bracket to lose at the beginning of this tournament, and the Falcons have done nothing to prove me otherwise. Saugus beat red-hot Arlington Catholic by 16 last night to advance to the finals, but I still think George Merry will provide too much of a matchup problem. Pick: Danvers

Division 1 South
Brockton (21-2) vs. Madison Park (19-2)
True, the MP Machine is the No. 2 seed in this bracket, but how many predicted the Cardinals would make it this far? Brockton has had some close calls, such as Wednesday's semifinal win over Newton North. But as they showed in their quarterfinal against Catholic Memorial, they can turn it on in a snap. The key here might come down to depth, where I think the Boxers hold an advantage. Excited to see the big-man matchup between Brockton's Sayvonn Houston and MP's Dakim Murray -- two true post players who are among the region's most physical. Pick: Brockton

Division 2 South
Stoughton (19-4) vs. Hopkinton (17-6)
Beware Hopkinton's dribble-drive motion. Just ask King Philip, which succumbed to the Hillers in last year's D2 South Final and again in this year's quarterfinals. We all know about Stoughton's athletic prowess, spearheaded by one of the state's best backcourts in juniors Aaron Calixte and Marcus Middleton. But do not sleep on the Hillers' point guard Barrett Hanlon, a two-time Tri-Valley League MVP who has been terrific this postseason. Pick: Stoughton

Division 3 South
Wareham (23-0) vs. Martha's Vineyard (21-2)
Between Wareham's dogged waterbug point guard Darien Fernandez and Vineyard's electric junior Jack Roberts, this could be one of the day's fastest games. The Vikings are constantly uptempo -- and have one of the state's best lead guards in Fernandez, to do the damage -- while the Vineyarders can run off points in bunches pretty quickly. The key might come down to foul trouble -- Tyler Gomes was the star for Wareham in the semifinals, but they can't afford to have Fernandez on the bench for long stretches again. Pick: Wareham

Division 1 Central
St. John's of Shrewsbury (18-5) vs. St. Peter-Marian (19-5)
If St. John's wins again, for an unprecedented fifth straight Central Mass. title, they may have to rename this tournament the Bob Foley Memorial Bracket. Again and again, Foley's troops have proven that no matter the personnel, bodies graduated, or overall record, they can win out as long as they get in. SPM's Matt Mobley will likely command a sophisticated defensive look, which is why the Guardians' bigs like Steve Flynn and Brian Foley are going to need to be in peak form. Pick: St. John's

Division 2 Central
Quabbin (20-3) vs. St. Bernard's (14-10)
Once one of the state's few remaining unbeatens, Quabbin lost three games but won the Clark Tournament to give themselves some momentum headed into this bracket. It's paid off, as the Panthers have beaten opponents by an average of 24 points in the tournament. Either way, this should be a terrific coaching matchup, between Quabbin's Dennis Dextradeur and St. Bernard's Mark Pierce. Pick: Quabbin

Division 3 Central
Whitinsville Christian (16-5) vs. Littleton (18-6)
Another bracket where I initially pegged a top seed as an overwhelming favorite, and nothing has convinced me to think otherwise. Sorry Littleton, but WC has been playing some of its best basketball, beating each of its opponents by 17 points or more in this tournament. Pick: Whitinsville Christian

Division 1 West
Springfield Central (21-1) vs. Springfield Commerce (16-6)
In these two teams' first matchup, Central survived a tough one, 52-43. When they met three weeks ago, Tyrell Springer nailed four 3-pointers in the second quarter and Central blew out the Red Raiders by nearly 40. I don't think that will happen again, but like Brockton, Central can turn it up in a hurry -- just ask West Springfield, which led Central by three after the first quarter of Wednesday's semifinal, only to lose by 27. Pick: Springfield Central

Division 2 West
South Hadley (13-9) vs. Mahar (19-3)
South Hadley's nine losses are misleading. They earned the No. 2 overall seed in this field, and beat their first two opponents by an average of 17 points. Can Mahar, which survived an overtime thriller to get here, buck the Tigers' trend? Pick: South Hadley

Division 3 West
St. Joseph Central (18-5) vs. Lee (18-5)
This is a St. Joe's team that nearly beat Holy Name back in December, and while I admit I haven't seen too much of this field, I like their chances. An average margin of victory of 26 points so far in this tournament backs this assertion up. Pick: St. Joseph Central


Division 1 North
Andover (24-0) vs. Masconomet (20-3)
Again, as good as Masco has been in this tournament -- getting Super Team production out of William & Mary signee Brooke Stewart, and great complimentary play from junior Claudia Marsh -- the freight train that is Andover and All-Everything guard Nicole Boudreau will continue to roll its way through. But unlike some of the Golden Warriors' earlier tournament results, I expect the Chieftains to throw haymakers and take the Warriors to the ropes. Pick: Andover

Division 2 North
Reading (22-0) vs. Arlington Catholic (21-3)
Another juggernaut matchup in the fold here. Both teams have gone through some dominant stretches, and AC is the defending state champion here. But the Rockets are a year wiser after last season's disappointing end, and behind Olivia Healy and Morgan O'Brien this team rattles off points in bunches. Pick: Reading

Division 3 North
Pentucket (20-4) vs. Ipswich (18-4)
Win or lose, this is a major step forward for the Ipswich program under head coach Mandy Zegarowski. Unfortunately, their reward is running into the Pentucket machine. Sachems are rolling on defense, allowing just 28 points per game in the playoffs with an average margin of victory of 27 points. So tell me...what's new? Pick: Pentucket

Division 1 South
Franklin (21-2) vs. Braintree (21-2)
Led by senior Paige Marshall, Braintree is playing arguably the state's most inspired defense. Consider the Wamps allowed just eight points -- that's eight points total -- in their first-round win, and are allowing just 22.6 points per game and the playoffs. Will that be enough for Catie Phelan to overcome, or are the defensive stats misleading? Pick: Braintree

Division 2 South
Scituate (23-0) vs. Natick (18-5)
Will Lady Luck run out on Natick, or are the Red and Blue better than we projected? Either way, this is one tough Scituate squad they're about to encounter. The Lady Sailors haven't allowed an opponent to get out of the 30's in nearly a month, and routinely pick up 40 or more rebounds a game. Pick: Scituate

Division 3 South
Archbishop Williams (20-5) vs. Fairhaven (21-2)
Kara Charette will get her points for Fairhaven, but we have to wonder if it it will be enough to overcome Archies' size, which is among the state's biggest. The Bishops are green, but talented, and are playing some terrific defense right now. Pick: Archbishop Williams

Division 1 Central
Holy Name (22-0) vs. Wachusett (17-5)
After some close calls, Holy Name's magical season lives on. The Mountaineers might be Holy Name's toughest opponent to date, and are one of the region's longest. Look for the Naps to key on Bri Schnare and Shannon Holt. Pick: Wachusett

Division 2 Central
Tyngsborough (21-1) vs. Nashoba (20-2)
The top two seeds of this bracket go head-to-head, and it's hard to tell which team has been more dominant so far. The Tigers, who have allowed just 30 points a game in this bracket; or Nashoba, which has had an easier path but has won each game by double-digits. Probably can't go wrong with this one. Pick: Tyngsborough

Division 3 Central
Sutton (19-4) vs. Hopedale (18-4)
Another matchup that is even on paper. But when you knock off Quaboag, that's big points in my book. Pick: Sutton

Division 1 West
Holyoke (20-2) vs. Longmeadow (15-7)
5-foot-2 point guard Monique Heard is the most exciting player nobody in Eastern Mass. is talking about, and a potential Super Team candidate for Holyoke. I like a good story as much as the next scribe. Let's keep this one rolling. Pick: Holyoke

Division 2 West
Mahar (21-1) vs. Palmer (18-4)
Another matchup pitting the bracket's top two seeds against one another. Mahar has survived some gutsy close calls to get here, but beware of Palmer's stingy defense, which is allowing 32 points per game. Pick: Mahar

Division 3 West
Lenox (18-4) vs. Sabis (19-5)
Sabis no doubt has revenge on its mind -- and some unfinished business -- after coming up short in this bracket last year following a dominant regular season. But any time you knock off Lee -- the region's top seed, and the golden standard for Western Mass. small-school basketball since the 1980's -- that's big points in my book. Pick: Lenox

Recap: Mashpee 34, Cardinal Spellman 8

December, 3, 2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -– No Jordan Keli'inui. No problem.

The Mashpee High School football team was without Keli'inui, the team's leading rusher, for Saturday's Division 4 Super Bowl against Cardinal Spellman, but had the best running back in the game anyway.

Junior Jarod Taylor rushed for a career-high 306 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries, as Mashpee rolled to a 34-8 triumph in the program's first Super Bowl appearance.

“I was trying to fill his shoes today,” Taylor said. “It was a great feeling to help out. I did it for everyone in Mashpee.”

Keli'inui missed the contest because of a sprained ankle he suffered in Tuesday's playoff victory over Millis/Hopedale. He has rushed for 1,170 yards this season.

Mashpee coach Matt Triveri said he didn't know Keli'inui wouldn't be able to play on offense until about five minutes before the opening kickoff. Keli'inui did play on defense.

“He was about 60 percent,” Triveri said. “He played fine on defense, but he just couldn't go on offense.

“Taylor is a guy who is gonna be one of the better backs in the state next year. He might be there right now. To have two backs like that, we're lucky and blessed. No doubt about it.”

Taylor entered the game with 1,070 yards rushing this season. Before Saturday, his career high for yards rushing in a game was the 183 yards he gained in an 31-7 victory over Norwell earlier this season.

Two of Taylor's three touchdowns came in the third quarter, when the Falcons put 22 points on the scoreboard to take complete control. He gained 209 yards on nine carries in the quarter.

“We knew [Taylor} was capable of this,” Triveri said. “As a staff we joke that we're doing a terrible job by not giving him enough carries because he's averaging over 9 yards per carry. We knew he had it in him. It was just a matter of getting him the football and the offensive line coming to play.”

It was the third time Spellman has surrendered more than eight points in a game this season.

Mashpee, which completed its season with a 13-0 record, led 6-0 at halftime and 28-0 entering the fourth.

Spellman, which lost to Holliston 21-7 in last year's Division 3A Super Bowl, finished its season with a 12-1 record.

“Their offense is very, very good, and their defense is exceptional,” Cardinal Spellman coach Ron St. George said. “They're extremely fast, extremely physical and extremely instinctive. They just proved that they were the better team.

“That Taylor kid is gonna be tearing it up next year. He's as talented as the senior (Keli'inui).”

The only scoring in the first two quarters came on the half's final play. Quarterback Zak Orcutt shifted to wide receiver and pulled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Cody Bingham-Hendricks as time expired.

Mashpee's lead swelled to 14-0 when Taylor scored on a 58-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Orcutt added the two-point conversion.

The Falcons added another touchdown when Orcutt connected with Kyle Murray for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 4:26 left in the third.

Taylor scored on a 54-yard run with 2:52 left in the third, and then capped his night by scoring on a 10-yard run with 5:35 to play.

“All we wanted to do was get this win for our school, our community and our kids,” Triveri said.

Shouldering the load: Spellman running back Pat Hinkley was questionable because of a separated shoulder he suffered in Tuesday's victory over Shawsheen Valley, but did play. Hinkley gained 44 yards on 10 carries and scored his team's only touchdown on an 18-yard run with 38 seconds to play.

Hinkley was not used on defense, where he usually lines up at linebacker.

“I gotta give the kid a lot of credit,” St. George said. “His shoulder totally popped out. They had to go to the hospital Tuesday night and put it back in. For him to come back and be ready to play was a great display of courage on his behalf.”

Numbers game: Cardinal Spellman entered the Super Bowl averaging 28.2 points per game, but was outgained 438-104. The Falcons gained 18 yards (all rushing) in the first half, and finished the game with 79 yards on the ground.”

“What can I say,” St. George said. “It was a tough way to end our season.”

Cardinal Spellman (12-1 ) 0 0 0 8 – 8
Mashpee (13-0) 0 6 22 6 – 34

2nd Quarter
Mas – Zak Orcutt 4 pass from Cody Bingham-Hendricks (rush failed), 0:00.

3rd Quarter
Mas – Jarod Taylor 58 run (Orcutt rush), 9:40.
Mas – Kyle Murray 14 pass from Orcutt (Orcutt rush), 4:25
Mas – Taylor 54 run (rush failed), 2:52.

4th Quarter
Mas – Taylor 10 run (pass failed), 5:35.
CS – Pat Hinkley 18 run (Ricky Donovan pass from Tim Burke), :38.

Recap: Mashpee 30, Millis/Hopedale 14

November, 30, 2011
TAUNTON, Mass. -- With seconds remaining on the clock, the Mashpee Falcons offense did something that the club’s defense did not do all night, it showed mercy on Millis/Hopedale.

As time wound down on a decisive 30-14 win Tuesday night that propelled the Falcons to their first-ever MIAA Super Bowl appearance, senior quarterback Zak Orcutt took a knee with his team just a yard away from its’ sixth touchdown of the night.

During the 39 minutes that led up to the kneel down, Mashpee was anything but hospitable. While the Falcons’ running back tandem of 1,000-yard rusher – Jordan Keli’inui and Jared Taylor – gets much of the acclaim for the team’s 12-0 campaign, the defense has flown under the radar as one of the top units in Southeastern Massachusetts all season long.

In the D4 semifinal against Millis, the defensive unit had its finest day. Led by senior defensive tackle Graham Kilpatrick (2 sacks), the Falcons spent nearly as much time in the Mohawks’ backfield as Millis’ 1,500-yard runner Jimmy Perkins. Mashpee took Perkins out of the game, limiting him to just 13 yards on 12 rushes for the night. He added a 1-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter when the outcome was already settled.

Orcutt and the Mashpee defensive backfield were just as dominant as their brethren up front. Orcutt, who head coach Matt Triveri believes is one of the best safeties in the state, intercepted two Bay Tangney passes in the first half. Tangney had a night he’d rather forget altogether as he was harassed all evening by the Mashpee front, suffering six sacks and even more wallops. He went 6-for-16 throwing the ball, for 71 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.

The Mashpee defense set the tone early. After forcing a three-and-out, the Mashpee offense marched down the field in just five plays and capped an 81-yard drive with a 32-yard scamper by Keli’inui (11 carries, 84 yards). A 2-point run by the senior gave Mashpee an 8-0 lead just 3:03 into the game.

Taylor (7 carries, 66 yards, 2 TDs) tacked on a second touchdown for Mashpee with 55 seconds to play in the quarter, an amazing spinning surge that saw him break through a number of arm tackles before finishing off a 34-yard run to the house. Orcutt found fullback Kyle Murray on a bootleg pass for the conversion to put the Falcons ahead by 16.

Millis threatened to make a game of it late in the second quarter. Recovering a Mashpee fumble just inside midfield, Tangney went up top and hit George Palcopolous on a 34-yard heave to put the Mohawks on the board. The conversion pass failed, though, and it was 16-6 with 2:20 left in the first half.

Mashpee iced the game going into the intermission. Orcutt orchestrated a beautiful two-minute drill, which was aided by a pass interference penalty against Millis which moved the ball to the Hawks’ 15. Two plays later the quarterback faked a handoff to Keli’inui and then found the running back wide-open on a wheel route in the left corner of the end zone. A 2-point pass to Johnny Williams made it 24-6 with 31 ticks left in the half.

Mashpee got the ball to open the second half and put it out of reach with a methodical 11-play, 58-yard drive that was capped by Taylor hopping in from 2-yards out.

Follow Rich Maclone on Twitter at @Capenews_Rich

Tuesday football playoff sites set

November, 25, 2011
The MIAA released the sites and times for each of Tuesday's division playoff matchups this morning.

Here's how the action breaks down (Note: Division 5 playoff teams Latin Academy and Nantucket advance directly to Saturday Super Bowl):

BC High vs. Chelmsford - Lowell, 5:15
New Bedford vs. Needham - Weymouth, 7:30

Everett at Lynn English - Manning Bowl, Lynn, 7:30
Barnstable vs. Lincoln-Sudbury - Taunton, 5:15

Tewksbury vs. Reading - Reading, 7:30
King Philip vs. Duxbury - Weymouth, 5:15

Marblehead vs. Wakefield - Manning Bowl, Lynn, 5:15
Walpole vs. Dennis-Yarmouth - Bridgewater-Raynham, 7:30

Concord-Carlisle vs. Holliston - Lowell, 7:30
Oliver Ames vs. Pembroke - Franklin, 7:30

Hamilton-Wenham vs. Newburyport - Andover, 7:30
Bishop Feehan vs. Bourne - Bridgewater-Raynham, 5:15

Cardinal Spellman vs. Shawsheen - Andover, 5:15
Millis/Hopedale vs. Mashpee - Taunton, 7:30

Boston Cathedral vs. Chelsea - Reading, 5:15
East Boston vs. Blue Hills - Franklin, 5:15

Lynn Tech vs. Tri-County, Braintree, 4:30
Greater Lawrence vs. Greater New Bedford Voke, Braintree, 7

Soccer: Dover-Sherborn 2, Hopedale 1

November, 19, 2011

WORCESTER, Mass. -- For the first time in school history, the Dover-Sherborn girls' soccer team was crowned Division 3 state champions on Friday, as the Raiders defeated the Hopedale Blue Raiders, 2-1.

“[It was an] epic season for us from start to finish, and when I mean by start, it started like four years ago,” Dover-Sherborn head coach Dave Wainwright. “It’s just unreal.”

“I thought that they had a great game [plan],” Hopedale’s head coach Patty Armour said. “We lost to a good team, and we were down, 2-0, and we could have easily just folded at that point and they didn’t, they played [until] the last second, we did get another goal, and I was just so happy and proud that [my squad] never gave up.”

After a rather lackluster start, the Raiders offense registered their first strike of the match, as junior Taylor Coutt, one goal, one assist), connected with senior forward Maddie Dunn, who dribbled through the Hopedale defense before depositing the ball in the back of the net. Coutt then added her goal during the opening minutes of the second half, which gave the Raiders a comfortable lead.

“[They’re] the dynamic duo,” said Wainwright. “They got their chemistry over [an] extended period of time [and] wasn’t just like there, they had to work at it, and they did, they worked real hard.”

“For us both to score today, both setting each other up, stringing passes together I think was really good, [and] really what we’ve been pushing for,” said Dunn.

Hopedale added their only goal of the game late in the second half when sophomore Leah Siefring kicked the ball past Dover-Sherborn’s freshman goalie Meghan Hall. However, the Blue Raiders comeback hopes were dashed, as the Raiders defense denied any last minute shots to preserve their final win of the season.

“It was our goal from the very first day of preseason and the fact that we were able to accomplish our goal was just unreal,” said Dunn.

“We wanted to do it for the seniors last year [and] for the seniors this year, everyone deserved it,” said Coutt.