Boston High School: Ian Maag

NEPSAC: Phillips Andover 35, Brunswick (Conn.) 28

November, 16, 2013
AVON, Conn. -- For Phillips Academy-Andover, this was not the way it wanted to finish.

After running the table during the regular season to go unbeaten, the Big Blue found themselves in a perpetual quagmire against Brunswick School in today's Jack Etter Bowl.

During the first 22 minutes, Andover's offense struggled to move the football with any consistency, and the defense had no clue on how to stop Bruins quarterback Billy O'Malley. The junior signal-caller was riddling the Big Blue secondary at will, throwing for three scores in building a 21-6 lead.

For the Andover fans who made the two hour-plus trip to picturesque Avon Old Farms School's Ryan Field, their silence was contagious — all but excepting the fact that Brunswick (based out of Greenwich, Conn.) was the better team. Late in the third quarter after O'Malley connected with wide receiver Malik Wilder for a 57-yard scoring strike giving the Bruins a 22-point advantage, the Big Blue faithful were virtually in shock and awe.

But that is when things changed. Not once did Andover believe it was out it. A break here or there was all it would need to change the complexion of this game Their wish came true as the Big Blue demonstrated tremendous resiliency by scoring 29 unanswered points to power past Brunswick, 35-28.

"I knew their initial lead would not hold up," Big Blue head coach Leon Modeste said. "We just had to do something positive. Our game plan was to control the tempo and keep their offense on the sideline because it is such a tremendous offense. Once we were down we went to the spread but still ran the ball and that was the adjustment we made in the second half."

The groundwork for this comeback began a week ago after Andover (9-0) stormed back to beat long-time rival Phillips Exeter Academy in the closing minute.

The Big Blue's 'been there and done that' attitude certainly played a major role in this triumph.

"I'm just so happy with the way our defense adjusted against, probably, the best offense we've seen all year," Modest said. "We made some adjustments and stopped some of those big plays they were having success on. That team was very-fast and we weren't use to that type of speed."

The Big Blue's resurgence started once senior running back Ryder Stone blasted through the defense for a 25-yard touchdown run with 2:55 left in the third to make it 28-12. O'Malley, who literally was having his way in the first half having completed 7 of 14 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns, found the road a bit rougher following his scoring pass to Wilder. After Stone's scoring run, O'Malley, who came into this contest having thrown for 1,929 yards and 28 touchdowns, went 7-for-19 for 103 yards and no touchdowns. He finished his day completing 12 of 26 passes for 251 yards. The 28 points was also the lowest point total put forth by the Bruins his season. Brunswick came in averaging 45 points-per-game.

The Big Blue secondary, led by senior defensive back Brandon Michel, made the adjustments to the Bruins' speedier wide outs, hanging with them and disrupting passes that allowed PA's offense to regain possession of the ball.

"We just needed to stay confident as a defense," said Michel. "In the second half we were able to re-group and we all trusted one another and each person's responsibilities. If we continued to do that we felt we could shut down their offense as a whole and that's what we did. We knew they had a talented offense but at the same time we knew we could compete with them. We knew our offense could come back and put points on the board. But in order to stay in the game we needed to prevent them from scoring, especially in the second half."

After Brunswick (7-2) did nothing offensively following the Big Blue's score, Andover got the ball back on its own 30. Behind the solid running of Stone, who put forth a workman-like effort, gaining 217 yards on 33 attempts, the Big Blue managed to reach the Bruins' 6-yard line. Stone finished the 70-yard march with a sprint into the end zone. His ensuing two-point conversion run had Andover down by only eight points at 28-20 with 11:30 left.

Over the next four minutes, Brunswick had possession of the ball twice, once courtesy of a Jack Varvel pickoff of a Ian Maag pass, but failed to move the chains. The Big Blue re-gained possession at the 7:20 mark on their own 29. Realizing every play would critical to have a shot to come all the way back, Andover orchestrated a 71-yard drive with a mix of pass and run. Moving the ball to the Brunswick 38 and facing a third-and-11, Stone got the call again and the Calgary, Alberta native didn't disappoint. Taking a draw from Maag, Stone broke through the Bruin defense for the touchdown. Now trailing by two points, Stone tied things at 28-all after bouncing off a pair of tacklers and reaching the right corner of the end zone on the conversion run with 4:22 showing.

"I knew we could come back," Stone said. "I'll admit we were asleep in that first half. We were struggling but we pulled through. It took a little while but once we stepped up and started to make some plays we knew we had it. We found some real success on the ground. There were some great holes and some great blocking up front."

With their confidence rattled, Brunswick looked like a unit dazed and confused. Its objective was to get back into sync and hope for the best. Inside PA territory and facing fourth down, O'Malley's saw receiver Henry Taylor had a step on Michel. But his throw was just out of the senior's reach, giving the ball back to the Big Blue.

On first down, Maag (10 of 27 for 144 yards) pumped fake a bubble screen in which the Bruins’ defenders bit on thus leaving senior wide receiver Matthew Rusk-Kosa all alone for a well-executed 66-yard pitch and catch to put Andover ahead to stay with 2:45 remaining. Brunwick's final attempt to tie matters faded after O'Malley was sacked for a 3-yard loss on fourth down.

The Bruins, whose last bowl appearance came in 2006 in a loss to Belmont Hill, got this contest started in the right fashion when O'Malley found Wilder for a 32-yard scoring pass. The Big Blue answered on their opening possession. A 50-yard kickoff return by Michel would lead to a Michael Moore 1-yard touchdown dive. The PAT was blocked and Andover trailed 7-6.

O'Malley's rein over the Big Blue secondary continued during the Bruins' next possession. A pair of passes to Wilder and Dyland Wadsworth set up a Wilder 29-yard scoring grab to make it 14-6 late in the first quarter.

Brunswick added to its total with less than four minutes to go before the half. Needing just three plays, O'Malley found Taylor in the corner of the end zone for a 33-yard reception to send the Bruins into the break feeling good about themselves, leading by 15 points.

"It was a hard-fought game and we played a very-good Andover team," said Bruins coach Jarrett Shine. "It was a battle the entire time. Billy O'Malley is a leader for us and his future is very bright. Our kids have nothing to hang their heads about. Andover was able to move the ball well on the ground and we just didn't wrap up and make tackles. We also had a couple of blown coverages late which also hurt us."

Recap: Phillips Andover 13, Phillips Exeter 12

November, 9, 2013
EXETER, N.H. -- With less than 10 minutes remaining and down by five points, Phillips Academy-Andover was on the cusp of not only seeing its unbeaten record come to an end, but a potential NEPSAC Division A bowl berth be dismantled.

With a rushing offense that was averaging 245.4 yards-per-game, the Big Blue ground attack was in virtual lock down against a vigilant Phillips Exeter Academy defense. It was at that point when Andover head coach Leon Modeste decided to scrap the spread offense for a more-traditional power attack.

Inserting fullback Michael Moore as a lead blocker for tailback Ryder Stone, the Big Blue began their final possession at their own 11. The newfound strategy started to work as Andover started to make some headway down field. The Big Blue chewed up over eight minutes off the clock and marched 87 yards before Stone ran off-tackle to his left for a 6-yard touchdown with 31 seconds remaining to propel Andover to a gut-wrenching 13-12 victory this afternoon at 85 year-old Phelps Stadium.

It was the 133rd meeting of the nation's longest and, perhaps greatest, prep school rivalry. The Big Blue now holds a 69-54-10 advantage in the series, which began in 1878.

With the win, Andover (8-0) wraps up the NEPSAC Freelance Division and will play in a NEPSAC Division A bowl next Saturday. The opponent, site and time of the game will be determined tomorrow.

It marks the first time the Big Blue will play in a postseason contest since 2007, when it lost to Trinity-Pawling School (N.Y.).

"It's been a while since we beat them and it is really sweet to cap off an undefeated season," said Modeste, whose club had lost the previous five meetings to the Big Red. "We were running the spread but it wasn't working. On that last drive we decided to go to a different set by putting a fullback in, have him clear a path, and just pound the ball.

“Mike [Moore] is a very-inspirational runner for us and they couldn't just key on Ryder [Stone] any longer. It now gave us two options in the backfield to go with. We were able to run some counters and that was a big difference. You'd like to win by four or five touchdowns but that's not going to happen in this rivalry against a great Exeter club. This win will go down in the lore of this wonderful rivalry."

On that game-winning drive, Stone and Moore were beginning to find seams to cut through and, in the process, keep the chains moving. With 51 seconds showing on the clock, Andover faced a fourth-and-4 at the Exeter 15. Senior quarterback Ian Maag hit wide receiver Brandon Michel for a 5-yard reception and keep the Big Blue offense on the field. Two plays later, Stone, a workman-like back from Calgary, Alberta, took a handoff and darted around left end barely getting over the goal line for the winning score.

"I was struggling the whole game," said Stone, a senior who finished with 80 tough yards on 23 carries. "At the end we all came together. We just went though and executed. We didn't have to say anything on that final drive. We just looked at each other and knew it could happen. This group of guys have been great. We have weapons everywhere. There are no weak spots on this team."

The Big Red (6-2, losing their final two games) did mount a mini-rally after getting the ball back. Exeter was trying to get the ball in position to set up a possible game-winning field goal attempt. Reaching the Andover 38, quarterback Vin Sansone, in desperation mode, had his pass picked off by defensive back Alec Tolentino to close the deal for the Big Blue.

Throughout this contest, the Big Blue struggled to live up to its offensive potential. The Big Red defense took on the challenge and executed it brilliantly. Andover finished with just 165 yards, including 94 in the opening half. Likewise, however, the Big Blue's defense was equally instrumental in this triumph. Exeter encountered its share of difficulty trying to gain positive yardage. The Big Red did finish with 206 yards, led by senior running back, and former Brockton High standout, Austin Roberts (68 yards on 19 attempts).

With 1:12 left in the first quarter, Exeter jumped out to a 6-0 lead on Sansone's 2-yard push over the goal line. But back came the Big Blue. Moving the ball 81 yards, with a mix of run and pass, Maag (8-of-17, 46 yards), a Marblehead native, closed out the drive with a 1-yard dive over the goal line. Tom Mullen's PAT put Andover on top, 7-6, with 7:01 remaining before halftime.

Things stayed that way until midway through the third quarter. After the Big Blue went four-and-out on their first possession to begin the second half, the Big Red, behind the hard-running of Roberts, marched 45 yards before Roberts capped the drive off with a 7-yard scamper into the end zone to make it 12-7. Both teams failed to move the ball on its next two possessions before Andover was finally able to convert on its most-productive drive of the season which led to its clinching score.

"Our kids emptied their tanks today," first-year Exeter head coach Rob Morris said. "Sometime you play terribly and you still come out on top and sometimes you play your heart out, everything clicks, but the other team gets the win. Our kids can be proud that they played that way.

“Coming into this game we knew their strength was our strength and that was running the football. We both slugged it out. Unfortunately they just had one more punch than we had."

Recap: No. 11 Beverly 35, Marblehead 14

November, 10, 2012
BEVERLY, Mass. -— The mark of a truly good offense is to have the ability to put fear, well maybe not shriek out loud fear, into opposing coaches as they spend countless hours trying to figure out how to slow you down.

Beverly has that ability. Even though they were bottled up for 22 minutes in its pivotal game yesterday at Hurd Stadium, those in attendance knew the Panthers were one or two plays from changing their fortunes and posting points in bunches.

That play happened on the opening kickoff of the second half when Brendan Flaherty diced through the Marblehead special teams for 51 yards and kick-started an offensive attack in the Panthers 35-14 victory to secure the Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Tier 2 title.

Jim Rudloff knew what it was like as a member of the Beverly staff way back when, and yesterday he had to wrap his head around how to slow down the Panthers even if it was momentarily.

“Good luck to everybody that plays them going forward,” said Rudloff. “You can come up with the most brilliant things for them in the world, but they are just too good. You make one mistake, you turn your hips the wrong way, and you can see it coming before it happens. You can hear the coaches on the sideline just say ‘Oh, God,’ and then they are gone.”

The Panthers didn’t throw a pass in the second half and put up 28 points in the final two quarters thanks to 274 rushing yards. Flaherty led all rushers with 190 yards on 19 carries, with 152 and two scores coming in the third quarter alone.

Kenny Pierce added 67 yards and the exclamation point touchdown in the fourth quarter, and the Panthers offense got contributing touchdowns from Isiah White and Dom Abate.

It’s a “Pick-Your-Poison” kind of offense in Beverly and when they hit their stride it’s really hard to slow down, most recently in the second half of yesterday’s winner-take-all game.

“Definitely better in the second half,” Panthers head coach Dan Bauer said of the offensive production. “It was a fight (in the first half)...It was a great team, program victory.”

Fourth downs: The Magicians were trying to pull the trick of keeping the Panthers offense off the field for most of the game. The first drive was a near picture-perfect diagram in how to do it. Marblehead picked up four first downs on the first drive and converted on 1-of-2 fourth down conversions.

The Magicians didn’t accumulate points, but the trend of going for it on fourth down started to rear it’s head. Marblehead was 3-of-4 on fourth down in the first half and Ian Maag connected with Dylan Cressey for a 27-yard touchdown on fourth-and-6 to tie the game at 7 in the second quarter.

The success on third and fourth down didn’t translate over, as the Panthers defense, led by Mike Dooling, Zach Dugid and Sam Mulumba, forced the Magicians' offense off the field and allowed their offense to get in a flow.

“When you got a kid like Maag and those running backs, they are good,” said Bauer. “That’s what teams are trying to do. Fortunately we were able to get some momentum and make some big plays.”

MAR (8-2) 0 – 7 – 0 – 7 --- 14
BEV (10-0) 0 – 7 – 14 – 14 --- 35

Second Quarter
B — Dom Abate 24 pass from Dave Rollins (Harry Brown kick)
M — Dylan Cressey 27 pass from Ian Maag (Joe Newall kick)

Third Quarter
B — Brendan Flaherty 6 run (Brown kick)
B — Flaherty 44 run (Brown kick)

Fourth Quarter
B — Isiah White 10 run (Brown kick)
M — Maag 1 run (Newall kick)
B — Kenny Pierce 34 run (Brown kick)

ESPN Boston Week 10 football picks

November, 9, 2012
NO. 5 WALPOLE (9-0) AT NO. 21 NATICK (8-1)
The Skinny: The most anticipated regular-season matchup is finally upon us. A swelling crowd is expected to turn out for this one, as the Bay State Conference’s Herget division title is on the line. Natick is looking to bounce back after coming up on the wrong side of one of the year’s biggest upsets (a 40-34 loss to Wellesley), but Troy Flutie, Brian Dunlap and co. will have to do it against one of the state’s stingiest defenses. Walpole hasn’t allowed a point since Sept. 28, and hasn’t allowed a touchdown since Week 3.

Scott Barboza: I’m shudder to think that we might not have any questions to answer during our Sunday night chat this week now that we’re finally about to give our picks on this game. Walpole, 27-21.

Brendan Hall: I’m sure the primary topic of discussion in this Sunday night’s Top 25 chat will be “What’s your prediction for Natick-Walpole in 2013?” Walpole, 20-17.

The Skinny: Raise your hand if you thought this would be the de facto Atlantic Coast League championship back in August. South’s Dylan Oxsen leads the state in rushing touchdowns (28), doing so behind a uniquely modified pistol attack that gets the hard-charging junior downhill in a hurry. Written off a month ago, the Panthers are suddenly in prime position for their first postseason berth here, but they’ll have to find a way to neutralize all the chicanery that comes with Nauset’s single wing attack, led by running back Jimmy Sullivan.

Barboza: It’s time we start considering Oxsen as a serious candidate for our Offensive Player of the Year Award. Plymouth South, 13-7.

Hall: If you know me, you know I’m a fiend for the ground-and-pound. For that reason, can’t go wrong with either team, but I’m sticking with my preseason pick. Nauset, 28-21.

The Skinny: Abington can clinch the South Shore League title with a win over the Vikings, and are the favorites here behind a dynamic offense led by Babila Fonkem, Pat Dwyer and Brandon Cawley. Defensively, the Green Wave are allowing just under seven points a game the last three weeks, but they figure to have their hands full trying to slow down quarterback Andrew Benson in the option game.

Barboza: I’m going to mention Brandon Cawley’s name again just because the other night on Twitter he’s said I only mention the running backs. JK guys, JK. Abington, 32-24.

Hall: If this is truly Abington coach Jim Kelliher’s last season, then you can’t find a more fitting farewell. Abington, 31-20.

The Skinny: Is the clock about to strike midnight on Sharon? The Eagles remain unbeaten in the Hockomock’s Davenport division, but still have two big league games on the slate. The first one is Friday night, where they will attempt to contain tailback Kiivone Howard, who leads the Hockomock in rushing yardage (1,405).

Barboza: Foxborough quarterback Mike Slaby could be the difference-maker. Foxborough, 23-17.

Hall: What would a Hockomock League berth be without a little bit of mathematics? Foxborough, 21-7.

The Skinny: The Magicians claimed the CAL/NEC Tier 2 title last season with a senior-laden team. However, Marblehead’s in the mix again, even after a surprise loss to Salem a few weeks back. Meanwhile, the Panthers can clinch the league crown with a win on Saturday. The vaunted Panthers offense (averaging 38 points per game) and its rushing attack is closing in on 3,000 combined rushing yards on the season, led by a backfield of Brendan Flaherty and Kenny Pierce. The Magicians have relied on 1,000-yard passer Ian Maag (13 touchdowns) for a bulk of their offense.

Barboza: It’s been a nice bounce back run for Marblehead in an attempt at a repeat title, but, after all, this is the #yearofthepanther. Beverly, 28-14.

Hall: We love Jim Rudloff’s mind games as much as the next guy, but the Magicians are simply overmatched here against one of the state’s best rushing attacks. Beverly, 35-21.

The Skinny: As in each of the last three seasons, the Eastern Athletic Conference title will be determined in a matchup between the Shamrocks and Blue Raiders. Feehan came away with a decisive victory last year, but Somerset-Berkley is looking to lay claim to its second crown in the last three years. The Blue Raiders are led by a dynamic back field of Garrett Carlos and Mike Garrant, but they’ll encounter a physical Feehan front seven anchored by linemen Chris Barthe, Seamus Cuddy and Mitch Matrin.

Barboza: Nick Freitas escapes with EAC title No. 2. Somerset-Berkley, 27-20.

Hall: In terms of EAC supremacy, Feehan had the 2000’s. And now, Somerset has the 2010’s. Somerset-Berkley, 24-17.

The Skinny: The Panthers get back into Hockomock Kelley-Rex play after a startling loss to Taunton two weeks ago. If Franklin is to hold out hope of hanging around in the division race, they’ll need a win at Mansfield on Saturday. The Hornets are in a similar situation having dropped a close decision to North Attleborough two weeks ago. Look for the Hornets, led by Robbie Rapoza, to pound the ball on the ground and play some ball control in trying to keep the Panthers’ spread attack on the sideline. Franklin junior quarterback Nick Zucco has been a revelation this year, but the Panthers can also run the ball behind Kyle Finamore. The Mansfield defense has been bolstered by junior linebacker Alex Ruddy, who currently leads the team in tackles.

Barboza: As predicted a couple weeks back, the Kelley-Rex picture is only obfuscated more. Expect another wild finish. And, of course, another prediction my friends in Mansfield will relish. Franklin, 38-36.

Hall: If the Hornets can establish the run game early, they can do just enough to hold off a furious Franklin rally. Mansfield, 27-24.

The Skinny: Another pair of Kelley-Rex teams with one division loss meet in this rivalry game. The Red Rocketeers have cobbled together a three-game winning streak, following a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season. The better news yet for North in recent weeks its improving health, seeing several key contributors return to the field in recent weeks. Meanwhile, King Philip has rolled through Attleboro and Oliver Ames by a combined 75-21 margin since its loss to Mansfield.

Barboza: I find myself simply rooting for another chaotic finish to the Kelley-Rex division race, but I’m sticking with my preseason pick. KP, 24-21.

Hall: This is a new team with Sean Peters and Alex Jette both healthy. I’m looking at a return to early September form down the stretch for the Big Red. North, 30-23.

Recap: Wakefield 7, Marblehead 6

November, 30, 2011

LYNN, Mass. -- Wakefield was down 6-0 for most of the game, but in the middle of the fourth quarter drove the ball 78 yards in roughly 3:30 minutes to post their first score of the game, a one-touchdown run by Josh Puccio with 1:52 remaining.

The extra point by Brian Auld made the game 7-6, but the Warriors' defense stopped the Marblehead Magicians from scoring as they had much of the game, holding on for the win and the opportunity to play for the Division 2A Super Bowl on Saturday.

"All season, we've kind of had some tough games," said quarterback Jamie Bourque. "Earlier this year we were in the same situation down 6-0 at the half. Once we went into the half today down 6-0 we knew that we were going to be able to do it. Stick to what was working, just execute. The first half we kind of had the jitters, but at the half we got over it when we realized it was just another football game."

With 5:55 left in the game, Marblehead was stopped on downs and punted to the Wakefield 22. After two incomplete passes, Matt McKenna caught a throw from Bourque for the first down. thee run plays, the first and third by the running back Puccio (14, 2 yards) and the second by Dan Cardillo (3) gave the Magicians a reason to close in on the Wakefield offensive attack, but that is When Bourque dopped back and found McKenna for a 10-yard gain and the first down.

The next play, Cardillo again rushed for thee yards, but on the next throw Bourque and McKenna would go for the fences, the result a 34-yard pass that was brought down to the one yard line setting up a first and goal, for which Puccio was brought back in to finish the job and put his team on the scoreboard.

First Draw Not Enough: Marblehead's only score of the game came with 7:54 left the in the first quarter, just over two minutes after the game had started. Five straight rushing plays, the first two and the last two by Will Quigley, netted Marblehead a quick score. For the rest of the match either Quigley or quarterback Ian Maag would run the ball, with passing attempts by the Magicians all failing until the final drive, in which the two completed passes proved unable to pulled Marblehead out of the hole which had been dug for them by the Wakefield offense.

Options: On Wakefield's scoring drive, McKenna caught three passes from Bourque, and 11 yard, 10 yard and the final a 34-yard snag which brought the Warriors down to the Marblehead one yard line. Prior to that series, Bourque had thrown two passes, both of them to McKenna, only one of them connecting.

"Our game plan going in was to see if we could run the ball," said Bourque. "Once we realized we had some good matchups on the outside we figured that we'd take advantage of that when we needed to."

Lack of options: Marblehead's only score, and main offense producer was Will Quigley. Although he took numerous carries throughout the game, he was unable to score again, and did not gain more than four yards on a carry during the second half.

"We made some adjustments on our defensive line at halftime. I think early on we were pursuing just a little bit too much... and we have great linebackers. They did a great job along with the front line," added Wakefield coach Mike Boyages.