Boston High School: Isaac Yiadom

NATICK, Mass. – The name Flutie is synonymous with Boston College. But it wasn’t just family lineage which led Natick’s Troy Flutie to the Eagles and Steve Addazio’s program.

“Meeting with him the first time, I was just like, ‘Wow, this guy is awesome!’” Flutie said of Addazio.

[+] EnlargeFlutie
Scott Barboza/ESPNReigning ESPN Boston Mr. Football award winner Troy Flutie signed his national letter of intent to Boston College this week.
The Redhawks quarterback and this year’s ESPN Boston Mr. Football award winner is part of a large haul of homegrown talent headed to the Heights in the 2014 recruiting class. This year, the greatest number of Eagles recruits came from the Commonwealth with seven, ahead of New Jersey’s six.

The commitment to seeking out talent around the home base has become a priority for BC under Addazio – or “building a fence” around in-state prospects as he’s termed it. Looking to revitalize local interest in the program, the effort has created a twofold benefit for Massachusetts’ recruits, such as Flutie. Not only has it created greater opportunities for the state’s football elite to play and stay close to home, it has gone a long way to reestablishing its roots in the area.

“I think it’s real important for BC to recruit around here because I think, for a while, they lost that for a couple years previous to Coach Adazzio,” Flutie said Friday, “and I think he really wanted to bring that back and make BC really feel like a community with a lot of Massachusetts guys representing.”

After Wednesday’s National Letter of Intent signing at Natick High was snowed out, the school hosted a celebration in honor of its signees, with soccer standout Haley Reddish (Bryant University) joining Flutie for a photo-op on Friday. The moment was strictly ceremonial though, as both athletes had already submitted their paperwork at the beginning of the signing period on Wednesday.

Flutie enjoyed a historic season in his senior year, breaking state records in career touchdown passes (112), career passing years (9,014) and single-season passing touchdowns (47).

However, Flutie’s role with the Eagles is to be determined. Recruited first as a wide receiver, the 6-foot, 178-pounder should also see time with BC’s quarterbacks this summer.

Addazio mentioned Flutie by name when outlining the competition at quarterback during a conference call with reporters on Signing Day.

“We had Troy in camp and he’s just got ‘it,’” Addazio said earlier this week. “He’s a guy that has a knack for anticipating guys being open. He’s got a really unbelievable confidence about him. And he’s just got that demeanor that’s got leadership to it. He’s a dynamic athlete.”

Flutie was listed on BC’s Signing Day materials as a “quarterback/athlete.”

Whether Troy Flutie will follow in the footsteps of Heisman-winning uncle, Doug, at quarterback or his father, Darren, at wide receiver with the Eagles, the youngest member of Massachusetts football’s first family is only focused on contributing.

“It’s a nice opportunity that I have to play quarterback or wide receiver, I just want to get on the field as quick as possible,” Troy Flutie said.

Flutie stressed the importance of learning Ryan Day’s offense as his primary goal. He spoke of the opportunity to learn the ropes under Florida graduate transfer Tyler Murphy as a tremendous help.

“Realistically, I’ll play wherever I can get on the field the quickest and where they need me as a team. Wherever they want me to play, I’ll play. Anything I can do to help the team, I’ll do – if it’s wide receiver, quarterback, special teams, I’ll do it.”

For now, Flutie’s biggest priority is working out in preparation for June’s camp. He’s given up basketball this winter to spend more time in the gym, but plans to play one last season of baseball.

He’s learned of the vigor of the Eagles’ strength program from midyear signees Jon Baker (Millis/Hopedale) and Isaac Yiadom (Doherty). The Eagles’ Massachusetts contingent has already formed a kinship.

“We all went to the official visit together and we really bonded,” Flutie said. “We’re all very close right now and I can’t wait to get there with them and spending those next four years, maybe five, with them.”

Top 10 Plays from Super Saturday

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
12:53
AM ET
Saturday’s inaugural MIAA Football State Championships at Gillette Stadium crowned victors in six divisions, which meant plenty of highlight reel-worthy plays were jam-packed into the day. Here are my Top 10 plays from the weekend:

(Video clips courtesy of Hudl.com)

Honorable Mention –- Rufus’ Rumble
Glad to see we’ll have another year of Bishop Fenwick running back Rufus Rushins, because the junior is a lot of fun to watch when he gets a full head of steam downhill. The Crusaders shut out Northbridge, 28-0, for the D5 state title, thanks to Rushins’ 158 yards and three scores on 15 carries.

10. Follow Your Blockers
Dennis-Yarmouth’s L.K. Metz follows every fundamental rule here as he jukes and jives his way to a very nice kick return, taking a Doherty squib kick all the way down to the Highlanders’ 6-yard line to set up an eventual score. Doherty went on to win the Division 4 state championship, 28-26.

9. Ball Hawk
Mansfield’s Aurian Dawkins shows great awareness and ball instincts on this end zone interception, jumping a would-be TD throw to St. John’s receiver Mike McGillicuddy and laying out for the pick. Mansfield doubled up the Pioneers, 28-14, to win the D2 state title.

8. Bassett Hounds the Skippers
Littleton running back Travis Bassett had the best statistical performance of the day, carrying 22 times for 263 yards and four TDs, and adding a 29-yard catch off a screen pass for a fifth TD, and adding two interceptions, as the Tigers routed Cohasset 52-35 for the D6 state title. There are plenty of highlight plays for Bassett, but my personal favorite is this 78-yard scamper. Just look at the afterburners he puts on this one.

7. Isaac to the Post
Boston College commit Isaac Yiadom had a big day on both sides of the ball for Doherty, including this 64-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Yiadom finished with seven catches for 137 yards and a TD.

6. D’Andre Dumps ‘Em
UNH commit D’Andre Drummond hits the R3 button on this 52-yard touchdown run for Central Catholic, leaving one unfortunate Xaverian defender in the turf. The Raiders doubled up Xaverian, 34-17, for the D1 state title.

5. Run, Rocco, Run
Cohasset’s Rocco Laugelle is off and running on this 77-yard interception return for a touchdown. Watch as he slips away from about five tacklers en route to paydirt.

4. Poetry in Motion
Doherty QB Luke Brennan (12 for 20, 259 yards, 2 TD) threw a couple of pretty balls on the afternoon. But none were prettier than this 41-yard bomb to Alfred Adarkwah, plopping the ball safely into the lanky senior’s bread basket, right over the top of double coverage.

3. Cody’s Crackback
As the title implies, Central Catholic receiver Cody Demers laid one of the most vicious sticks of the day, this crackback block springing loose quarterback Matt Milano to toss a 31-yard touchdown pass to Cam Manning. This play made it 7-0 Raiders, and effectively set the tone for the evening.

2. Jump Ball
We couldn’t get our hands on video of this impressive TD catch by Tewksbury’s Kevin Dick, late in the Redmen’s 42-14 rout of Plymouth South for the D3 state title. But it probably works out better that way, as photographer Eric Adler passes along a frame-by-frame account of the grab.

1. Megatron
Simply put, Demers was just awesome on Saturday. This TD catch permeates those sentiments.

Doherty's Adarkwah, Yiadom form terror matchup duo

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
7:02
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Issac Yiadom and Alfred Adarkwah have been giving defensive coordinators across the state nightmares all season.

Throw Jahkari Carpenter into the mix from the backfield and Luke Brennan as “the straw that stirs the drink,” you might as well give up trying to stop them and just call it a victory if you can find a way to slow them down.

[+] EnlargeIsaac Yiadom, Alfred Adarkwah
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comReceivers Isaac Yiadom and Alfred Adarkwah strained the Dennis-Yarmouth defense in the Highlanders' D4 state title victory.
The Dolphins took their best shot to defeat the high-octane offense of Doherty and played very well most of the game, but in the end it was too much to handle.

“I think we were well prepared it came down to them making a couple more plays than us,” said Funk.

D-Y placed their best defensive back and arguably the best coverage cornerback in all of Division 4, Michael Dunn on Adarkwah. Liam Matheson and L.K. Metz took turns taking on Yiadom. But both receivers still found big plays that ended in the end zone.

What’s the key to the Doherty success? Well for starters, they understand that it is a team game and that they are at their best when they use all their weapons.

No one knows that more than Adarkwah, “I like to win, so whatever it takes to win. The end zone if that’s what it needs to be, if blocking is what I need to do, whatever it takes.“

Out of the 358 total yards of offense the Highlanders gained in the Div. 4 state title game victory, the ball was very evenly distributed.

Adarkwah streaked down the sideline on the final play of the first half and hauled in a 41-yard pass in double coverage which in addition to giving Doherty a 14-7 lead, also kicked the Highlanders offense into gear as they took that momentum into the second half.

“It just got us going, Alfred’s catch is got us going. He’s a big time player,” said Yiadom. “No corner in the state can cover him, he’s tall, and he’s long, he gets up and makes plays.”

Yiadom on the other side is the one who has harnessed most of the attention this season. He was the third highest recruit in the state and is Boston College-bound next fall. Yiadom hauled in six scores with 748 yards this season and then added another four scores on the ground. He finished with seven catches for 138 yards. He’s the complete package: size, speed and a tremendous set of hands.

The scariest part of this offense is that while defenses are respecting that dual-threat of receivers, Carpenter is free to run wild from the backfield. When Doherty goes into their three- and four-receiver sets, it is anyone guess where the ball is going. Carpenter ran for 87 yards and a score in the Div. 4 and ended his season at nearly 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns.

Once this offense is running on all cylinders, they are nearly impossible to stop.

Next year, despite losing Yiadom, the Highlanders still have another highly recruited wide receiver.

“I think Alfred is going to be a steal scholarship kid for somebody,” said Mulcahy.

“Who ever gets him is going to realize, he is just starting to explode right now.”

D4 final: Doherty 28, D-Y 26

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
5:42
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – As the old saying goes, you live by the big play, you die by the big play. Both teams in the Division 4 final had gotten to this point with their homerun hitters so it was only fitting that the team that made the bigger plays would take home the hardware.

The dual threat of Doherty’s Issac Yiadom and Alfred Adarkwah torched the Dolphins secondary for nearly 200 yards and a pair of long scores as the battle of two explosive offenses went in favor of the Highlanders, 28-26.

“It's crazy, it feels like it is unreal,” said Yiadom. “At the beginning of the season, we were all talking about being state champs we finally got here and accomplished our dream.”

A Highlander touchdown score midway through the fourth quarter gave the Central champs a 28-14 lead and seemingly the Div. 4 state championship game, but the never-give-up Dolphins made for an interesting final five minutes. L.K. Metz had his game of the season and Spencer Tyler orchestrated two scores setting up a 2-point conversion with 56 second remaining to tie the game.

[+] EnlargeIsaac Yiadom
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comBoston College signee Isaac Yiadom (7 catches, 138 yards, TD) was a terror for Doherty as the Highlanders captured their first state title in school history.
Tyler seemed to have Andrew Jamiel open in the end zone, but penetration from the Highlanders defense forced Tyler to his right and the pass intended for Mike Anderson fell harmlessly at his feet.

“When it was 21-7 and 28-20, we didn’t expect to lose, we still though we were going to win and we played all the way to the end,” said Paul Funk who coached his Dolphins to their second finals appearance in three years. “That’s how those kids play, they play hard like that.”

In the end it was the play of Yiadom and Adarkwah that separated the teams.

Adarkwah continued his torrid pace this postseason catching his seventh touchdown in his fifth postseason game, and it could not have come at a better time.

With 10 second remaining in the first half in a 7-7 ball game, the Highlanders were facing fourth and 10 from the Dolphin 41-yard line when they sent Adarkwah deep. He beat Michael Dunn, who was pressing off the line, and the safety help in Liam Matheson was a moment too late as Adarkwah hauled in the deep bomb from Luke Brennan to give the Highlanders a 14-7 lead heading into the half.

“As the game goes on with short quarters, you try to figure out what they are doing to you, they were doing a good job pressing our outside kids,” Doherty coach Sean Mulcahy said after his team earned the second Superbowl title in the programs history. “Alfred finally beat the press coverage and got over the top on them and Luke made a great throw.”

“It was a big play for us right before the half and big momentum for us.”

On Doherty’s first drive of the second half, Brennan dialed up the long ball again, finding Yiadom alone on a deep crossing route. Brennan hit him in stride and the Boston College commit went 64 yards untouched for to put the Doherty up 21-7 midway through the third quarter.

The Dolphins got life on the following drive when Spencer Tyler marched his troops downfield, setting up a Cory Desimone 2-yard scoring run to cut the deficit to 21-14.

But the Highlanders responded with an 8-play, 71 yard drive capped off by Jahkari Carpenter’s 1-yard run to seemingly bury the Dolphins 28-14 with just under five minutes to play.

But L.K. Metz returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the Highlanders 9-yard line and Tyler found sophomore Andrew Jamiel on the following play for a 9-yard score. On the PAT, Jahkari Carpenter broke through the protection and blocked Drew Tardiff’s kick to keep the score at 28-20.

“Metz was outstanding. Metz is a gamer,” said Funk. “I’d take him any day. He’s a gamer, he was ready, he played great on both sides of the ball.”

After the onside kick failed, the Dolphins needed to rely on their defense for a stop, which they had a difficult time with in the second half. Facing a third and third and four with just over two minutes remaining, Brennan couldn’t handle the snap and lost 11 yards on the play.

The Dolphins took over on their own 21 with no timeouts. Tyler converted a fourth down to Dunn and a long screen pass to Metz set up D-Y at the Doherty 13. Two plays later, Tyler called his own number and scampered into the end zone from six yards out to set up a game-tying two-point attempt.

With the Dolphins season and championship hopes hinging on one final PAT, the Doherty defense rose to the occasion with penetration from their line and good coverage in the secondary to secure their first championship title since 1980.

“We’re tough. We’ve been down before in games and come back,” said Tyler. “We’ve had tough games long the way, tough games in Marshfield. We’ve had a lot of tough games so we were prepared for this one but bad play at the end.”

After watching his team build for the last few years, Sean Mulcahy was proud to see his players finally brake through.

“It says that a Worcester city team with good players can play with anybody. Right now, we are very competitive team at the highest level of football in central mass and we’re proud of that and this team caught fire at the end of the year and finished the job of what has been building for a few years.”

DMHS 0 14 7 7 -- 28
DY 7 0 7 12 -- 26


First Quarter
DY-Spencer Tyler 11 run (Drew Tardiff kick), 0:16

Second Quarter
DMHS-Luke Brennan 8 run (rush fail), 1:38
DMHS-Alfred Adarkwah 41 pass from Brennan (Jahkari Carpenter run),, 0:00

Third Quarter
DMHS-Issac Yiadom 64 pass from Brennan (Brennan kick) 4:57
DY-Cory Desimone 2 run (Tardiff kick), 2:21

Fourth Quarter
DMHS-Carpenter 1 run (Brennan kick), 4:43
DY-Andrew Jamiel 9 pass form Tyler (kick blocked), 4:13
DY-Tyler 6 run (pass fail), 0:56

Tale of the Tape: Doherty vs. Dennis-Yarmouth

December, 4, 2013
12/04/13
12:27
AM ET
Ahead of Saturday's six MIAA Football State Championships at Gillette Stadium, today we are bringing back our "Tale of the Tape" series to break down each participating team's matchups headed into the game.

In the Division 4 Final, ESPN Boston High Schools editors Brendan Hall and Scott Barboza take a closer look at Central champ Doherty and South champ Dennis-Yarmouth, respectively.

Division 4 State Championship
DOHERTY (11-1) vs. DENNIS-YARMOUTH (10-2)
at Gillette Stadium, 11:30 a.m.


When Doherty has the ball: Quarterback Luke Brennan, a Franklin Pierce baseball commit, has a live arm. And with Boston College-bound athlete Isaac Yiadom (31 catches, 748 yards, 6 TD), tight end Mitch Celaj (24 catches, 441 yards, 2 TD) and boundary receiver Alfred Adarkwah (27 catches, 513 yards, 11 TD) at his disposal in the passing game, he has put up terrific numbers in his senior season (2,079 yards, 24 TD). Yiadom is averaging 17.7 yards per touch as a factor in both the running and passing games, as dangerous on speed sweeps from the slot (30 carries, 334 yards, 4 TD) as he is receiving.

Package that with Adarkwah on the other side, and that has left many a defense in a bind. Measuring 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan, Adarkwah has an exceptionally large catching radius – seemingly any ball landing from his knees up above his head is catchable. This is perhaps none more evident than his ridiculous four-game stat line for these playoffs: eight catches, six touchdowns.

The key, however, may lie in the running game. Often deploying a two-back three-receiver set out of a shotgun, Tyler Kmon provides a nice change of pace for their most elusive weapon, junior tailback Jahkari Carpenter. As one of Central Mass.’s rushing leaders (134 carries, 1,287 yards, 8 TD), he has been on a tear through these playoffs, averaging 9.6 yards a carry. Don’t let him get to the edge, because every single week of these playoffs, it seems like he comes up with some ridiculous run where he jukes about 100 defenders. EVERY . . . SINGLE . . . WEEK . . .

When D-Y has the ball: With the Dolphins offense, seemingly any of its talented athletes can break a big play at any given moment.

The fulcrum is senior quarterback Spencer Tyler. From the Dolphins' spread, Tyler can create with his feet and is well-capable of striking downfield on big-hit plays. Yet, for Tyler's arm strength, D-Y is at its best in the screen game. The Dolphins utilize a plethora screen concepts and funnel the ball through a cadre of athletes set out across the formation -- whether in the backfield or out wide. Michael Dunn, L.K. Metz and Jake Pawlina are among the tide of seemingly interchangeable, yet dynamic athletes D-Y pulls out at every turn. Meanwhile, sophomore Andrew Jamiel has emerged as a downfield threat as the season has progressed.

In its matchup with Doherty, however, D-Y senior running back Cory Desimone should have an increased workload. Desimone is as close to a three-down back that the Dolphins have and they will rely on him to gain tough yards inside the tackle box.

When Doherty is on defense: In short, there's lots of athleticism abound in the back seven here, between Yiadom (100 tackles) at free safety, Adarkwah shuffling in and out of the box, and linebackers Celaj and Peter Franco (84 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 INT) roaming the middle. While Yiadom doesn't have the interception totals of his breakthrough 2012 season, he still covers a ton of ground in the deep field, forcing quarterbacks into second-guessing throws.

Don't overlook the Highlanders' defensive line, which packs both bulk and punch. Senior Matt Smalls (63 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 INT) is a load off the edge at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, equipped with an explosive first step and a good rip move to the outside. Keep an eye on promising sophomore Tavian Vassar (56 tackles, 12 sacks), who alternates between middle linebacker and defensive tackle. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder is built low to the ground and disruptive.

When D-Y is on defense: In the early going of its Division 4 Eastern Mass. final against Bedford, D-Y struggled early to slow down Bedford's Olan Abner. While the Highlanders don't have a back as physical as Abner, the Dolphins will have to contend with Jahkari Carpenter, who could exploit D-Y's difficulty in containing stretch plays. The group tasked with leading the charge will be an underrated Dolphins defensive line, led by tackles Spike Elizondo and Angelo Hardaway.

The strength of D-Y's defense might be its linebacking corps, anchored by Chip Evangelista and Metz. After a strong second-half effort against Bedford, Dolphins head coach Paul Funk praised the efforts of his linebackers, calling Metz the factor that "stirs the drink," defensively. The art of the Dolphins defense is to collapse the interior line and allow for its athletic group of linebackers to step up and make tackles.

Of course, the greatest question entering is how the Dolphins secondary will match up with Doherty's tall, rangy receivers. A player like Metz could be used to shadow Yiadom across the formation, but how does D-Y game plan for Adarkwah on the perimeter?

D4 semifinal: Doherty 22, Wahconah 16

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
10:02
PM ET
LEOMINSTER, Mass. -- Before they had time to blink, the Doherty Highlanders were trailing 16 points to Western Mass. power Wahconah Regional.

Like a Mike Tyson fight (pre-Buster Douglas, of course), Doherty found itself lying on the canvas in a heap after the Warriors came out swinging right from the outset.

With one foot firmly planted on the Highlanders' throats, Wahconah failed to complete the task when it had the chance and let Doherty off the hook. Helped by a couple of Warrior miscues, Doherty was able pull itself up, and in the process, save its season after rallying back to post a 22-16 triumph in today's Division 4 state semifinal played at Doyle Field.

"It seemed our kids were so excited about this game and the atmosphere that we got tired after two plays," said Highlanders head coach Sean Mulcahy, his team finishing with 325 yards to the Warriors' 257. "Wahconah took it to us early and I think our kids did panic a little bit."

Doherty (10-1) faces Dennis-Yarmouth (a 21-14 winner over Bedford on Saturday) in the final on Dec. 7 at Gillette Stadium – time to be announced.

While some pundits assumed the Highlanders' overall talent-level would be far too great for the Warriors (10-1) to handle, it appeared to be the other way around in the early going.

On the Warriors’ opening possession, senior quarterback Ethan Wells, who played marvelously all game long, directed his club on a 53-yard scoring drive with Wells completing the drive by connecting with junior wide out Ryan Washburn for a 26-yard scoring reception. Matt Salvatore's proceeding conversion catch had the Warriors in front, 8-0.

Wells put his diversity on display for the Highlanders, demonstrating his capabilities throwing the football as well as running with it. He finished with 129 yards on 30 carries and was 6 of 13 passing for 93 yards. Lining up in the shotgun throughout, Doherty's defense appeared baffled about what Wells would do next, consistently loading the box to take away the run.

Yet, the strategy didn't seem to faze Wahconah. After a second consecutive Highlanders punt, the Warriors were given a short field to work as they set up on Doherty's 43-yard line. Four runs by Wells, netting 17 yards, positioned running back Darrow Brown to bust through for a 10 yard scoring run with just over a minute remaining in the initial quarter. Brown then threw a pass to Cole Morrison for the two-point conversion pushing the Warriors out to a 16-0 advantage.

In spite of the deficit, it was certainly still within reach for Doherty, and its plethora of talent, to jump back into it. All the Highlanders needed was something to fall their way and provide a much-needed lift. It came in the form of running back Jahkari Carpenter.

With Doherty's running game totally inept during the opening frame, Carpenter changed that early in the second thanks to his 59-yard jaunt. That was immediately followed by senior quarterback Luke Brennan's 19-yard touchdown scamper to make it 16-6 after the conversion run failed.

"Our defense made some great adjustments after [Wahconah] went up by 16 points," said Brennan, who finished with 93 yards on 6 of 15 passing. "Our offense eventually clicked and that's what we did the rest of the game. Everyone kept their poise. We knew it was going to be a war. We knew we needed to grind for four quarters and keep our composure the whole game no matter what happened and that's what we did."

On the ensuing kickoff, the Warriors made a critical error which in turn provided the momentum shift Doherty grasped hold of and didn’t surrender.

Senior Eli Pease had the ball squirt through his hands that ended up sitting on the 1-yard line. After a delay-of-game penalty, Wells had no place to go inside his own end zone and was smothered by the Highlander defense resulting in a safety.

"Once we got that safety I felt our kids could finally breathe a little and now start to play," Mulcahy said.

He added, "We'll enjoy this and now get ready for Burncoat on Thanksgiving. We'll worry about Gillette after Thanksgiving."

With 4:47 still left before halftime, Doherty came all the way back. Carpenter's 42-yard zig-zag touchdown and Mitch Celaj's conversion catch had this contest knotted at 16-16. Carpenter finished with 114 yards on 14 attempts.

"We did a great job coming out for this game," Warriors coach Gary Campbell Jr. said. "Offensively and defensively we were executing. But in the second quarter the wheels came off. All you can ask for are opportunities. If you get them phenomenal and if you don't that's the way it goes. Doherty is a quality team but I was pleased to see our kids hang with them through four quarters like they did. We'll fight with anybody but this one will sting a little.

“I thought Ethan [Wells] played great for us today. He is our heart and soul. He's a tough kid who is still deciding on attending either RPI and WPI. It doesn't matter where you put him on the field. He's just a very smart, tough player that can play anywhere."

It only got worse Wahconah after a shotgun snap deflected off of Pease, who was in motion, resulting in Highlander senior Peter Franco’s recovery on Wahconah's 40. But Doherty running back Issac Yiadom gave the ball back to the Warriors, coughing it up inside the 10. Yiadom carried the ball four times for 40 yards.

Wahconah's offense did nothing following the turnover and had its punt partially blocked. Doherty took over on the 16 and needed only one play to take a 6-point lead. Alfred Adarkwah's 16-yard scoring grab from Brennan with 16 seconds before halftime had the Highlanders in a much-better frame of mind than what transpired during opening 11 minutes.

The second half was a bend-but-don't break style offense and defense from both teams. Doherty had a chance to pad its lead late in the third but Carpenter lost control of the ball inside the Warriors 10. Likewise, Wahconah put forth its best drive of the game following the turnover. Beginning at his own 8-yard line, Wells' legs did much of the work in moving the Warriors all the way the Highlanders’ 6. Facing a fourth-and-goal Wells' pass to the back of the end zone was battered down by senior Shawn Jackson.

Doherty regained possession and eventually ran out the clock for the triumph.

D4 Central: Doherty 54, Quabbin 27

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
12:42
AM ET


WORCESTER, Mass. -- A game that had the makings of a shootout quickly turned into a route for host Doherty, as Highlander quarterback Luke Brennan threw five touchdowns in a 54-27 win over Quabbin in the first round of the MIAA Division 4 Central playoffs.

While the final score wasn't indicative of a competitive game, the visiting Panthers and senior quarterback Dylan Kierman made the home crowd nervous early. Kierman, the Central Mass. leader for passing yards and touchdowns, opened the game by leading Quabbin on a 7 play, 84-yard drive that ended when he found classmate Nick Thyden for a 16-yard score.

"They were playing zero coverage (No high safeties), and we knew they were going to play zero coverage," Kierman said. “We also knew we would get a quick touchdown against them, because that’s what we do to zero coverage. But after that they started mixing things up, rotating and jamming, and really starting messing with my reads... They’re a great team, and I take my hat off to them.”

"(That first drive) they got to us," Doherty senior receiver and defensive back Alfred Adarkwah said. “We just had to come back and tighten up the coverage. We got a few coverage sacks and were able to force him out of the pocket. We started to just play as one, because on defense, it’s 11 hats to the ball.”

Adarkwah would also have a hand in Doherty's great offensive day. The 6-foot-4 receiver has been unstoppable in the red zone, and on Doherty's first drive, he hauled in a 12-yard fade route for a touchdown from Brennan. On Quabbin's next drive, Doherty senior Tyler Kmon came on the blitz and sacked Kierman for an 11-yard loss.

After the Panther punt, junior running back Jahkari Carpenter quickly ripped off a 38-yard run, before Kmon punched it in from 14 yards out.

Kierman would again drive the Panthers deep into Doherty territory, but four straight incompletions ended their next drive. Two plays later, Brennan found Adarkwah deep down the left side for a 74-yard touchdown to put the Highlanders up 21-7.

But Quabbin wouldn't fade away quite yet. Facing fourth and 15, Kierman found classmate Justin Coppolino for 24 yards, then hit Thyden for a 19 yard score. But just before the half, the Highlanders would begin a run that would put the game away.

Two minutes before intermission, star receiver Isaac Yiadom lined up in the Wildcat and took it himself for a 20-yard rushing touchdown to give Doherty a 28-14 halftime lead. Only five plays into the second half, Brennan found Adarkwah for the third time, this one an 11-yard score on a hard out route.

A sack from Doherty senior Peter Franco led to a Quabbin four-and-out, and Brennan struck again moments later, this time to junior Javon Watkins from 18 yards out. Finally, Brennan's day ended after the next Doherty drive, when he evaded the rush, sprinted right, then fired a 49-yard bomb downfield to senior Mitch Celaj for his fifth touchdown of the game.

"I’m a big believer in giving respect where respect is due," Kierman said of Brennan. “He definitely deserves all the respect he’s going to get after a game like tonight. I’ve always thought he was a really great quarterback, one of the best in Central Mass.”

Next up for Doherty is a match up with undefeated Hudson, a team that will present many different challenges than Quabbin. While the Panthers' spread passing game is difficult to prepare for, Doherty's team speed on defense made it well equipped to handle Quabbin's style. The Hawks, meanwhile, are a power running, ball control type of offense.

It will be yet another challenge in Division 4 Central for the Highlanders, but they're not going to complicate things.

"We’re good, but to get to the Super Bowl, we have to be great," Adarkwah said. “We just have to work as a unit in practice... We have to just keep the media (And outside expectations) out of our heads, because if we don’t play well, the media won’t be here.”

Mr. Football Watch: Week 7

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
12:58
AM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 7 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)



THE CONTENDERS*

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Completed 13 of 25 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns, in a 42-19 win over Milton.

Brandon Gallagher, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Carried 24 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, in the Trojans' 20-14 loss to Barnstable.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. RB/WR, Barnstable
In the Red Raiders' thrilling win over Bridgewater-Raynham, carried 14 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 43-yard TD run with less than a minute to go.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils' 40-15 rout of Nashoba, completed 11 of 19 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns, and also had 50 yards rushing with a fourth score.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the Rockets' 33-6 win over Brookline.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Carried 19 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the Crusaders' 34-6 rout of St. Mary's of Lynn.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. RB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Completed 6 of 6 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and added 91 rushing yards with two more scores, in the Pioneers' 34-9 win over Wachusett.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Was 5 of 11 passing for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and added a rushing touchdown, in the Golden Eagles' 34-6 win over Putnam.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 12 of 27 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in the Hornets' 20-7 win over King Philip.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
Boston College commit caught a touchdown pass and threw for another, in the Highlanders' 28-0 shutout of Worcester North.



FIVE ON THE RISE

Emmanuel Almonte, Jr. QB/DB, Boston English
Totaled 254 yards of offense (190 rushing, 64 passing) and three touchdowns in the Blue & Blue's 24-6 win over West Roxbury. Through six games he is one of the state's leading rushers (1,025 yards, 8 TD, 9.5 yards per carry), in directing a read-option attack; he's also the team's leader in tackles (43).

Shaquille Anderson, Sr. RB, Cambridge
Led the way for the Falcons with 219 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in their 34-20 win over Medford.

Dan Henrickson, Sr. WR, St. Peter-Marian
Totaled 123 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Guardians' 14-13 loss to Shepherd Hill.

Chris Lindstrom, Jr. OL/DL, Shepherd Hill
Leading a double-wing rushing attack that has accounted for 1,661 yards, 21 touchdowns and 7.2 yards per carry through six games, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound interior guard has been a road grader so far for the Rams.

Jack Sylvester, Sr. RB, Andover
Carried 14 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns, and also hauled in a 15-yard TD catch, in the Golden Warriors' 49-32 win over Rhode Island power La Salle Academy. In the last weeks, he's gained 402 yards with five touchdowns; on the season, he's averaging 8.3 yards per carry.



TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Chris Ahl, Sr., Millis/Hopedale – 1,098 yards, 14 TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 1,084 yards, 12 TD
Emmanuel Almonte, Jr., Boston English – 1,025 yards, 8 TD
Zered McCoy, Sr., Ware – 963 yards, 7 TD
Rufus Rushins, Jr., Bishop Fenwick – 957 yards, 15 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 662 yards, 10 TD
Nick Thyden, Sr., Quabbin – 643 yards, 9 TD
Jake Bradway, Sr., Belchertown – 638 yards, 7 TD
Dan Henrickson, Sr., St. Peter-Marian – 559 yards, 7 TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 534 yards, 3 TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 2,070 yards, 21 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,617 yards, 26 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,543 yards, 18 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,499 yards, 19 TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 1,320 yards, 15 TD



*Does not include players who had a bye week


Recap: No. 6 Leominster 47, No. 17 Doherty 26

October, 12, 2013
10/12/13
1:47
AM ET


WORCESTER, Mass. – It only took 30 seconds for No. 17 Doherty to make a statement in Friday night’s showdown with Leominster at Foley Stadium.

The Highlanders zipped 70 yards downfield on two passing plays to hang a quick six on the No. 6 Blue Devils’ defense. Doherty scored on each of its first two possessions, underscoring the point about its dynamic group of athletes.

But, while the Highlanders continued to cling to a lead through halftime (19-10), Leominster showed the mettle of a cagy, playoff-proven crew during the second half. Then, the Blue Devils erased the mistakes of the early going and effectively stepped on the neck of the Highlanders, outscoring them 37-7 in the final two quarters for a 47-26 victory.

In a matchup of two of the Central district’s top playoff contenders in their respective divisions, Leominster conducted a clinic as to what the Highlanders will need to adopt if they, too, hope to make a run at a section title – that is a killer instinct.

“We weren’t putting ourselves down,” Blue Devils running back/ corner back James Gurley said of the locker room scene at the half. “We’d been in this position before. We know how to come back – we’re Leominster, we play four quarters.”

Gurley and his teammates dropped the hammer in the second half, when the junior tallied both of his rushing scores, as well as an interception. From upping the defensive ante, to the flawless execution of sustained drives it was all there for the Blue Devils (5-0) – at least coming out of the intermission.

Doherty (4-1) landed the first blow just 38 seconds in. Luke Brennan moved the Highlanders up-field 70 yards for a touchdown on two plays from scrimmage, finishing with a 29-yard lob to Shawn Jackson on a jump ball.

After the Highlanders forced Leominster into a turnover on downs, Doherty utilized a short field to grab a near-instant 12-0 lead on Brennan’s 6-yard pass to Alfred Adarkwah.

“I think they wanted to go to Adarwah there and he hurt us,” Leominster head coach Dave Palazzi said of Doherty’s fast start. “It was a great game plan on their part and it worked for them.”

Doherty held a 19-10 lead at halftime, despite not having a single target at Boston College commit receiver Isaac Yiadom.

Yiadom would play a greater role for the Highlanders in the second half, but the Blue Devils simply ran away.

To start the second half, Doherty remained aggressive, with head coach Sean Mulcahy rolling the dice, calling for an onside kick. The play worked, with Brennan chasing the bounding ball and falling on it for a successful recovery.

However, the Highlanders’ ensuing drive stalled after some penalty trouble. Then, the Blue Devils went to work, engineering a methodical 9-play, 76-yard drive capped on Gurley’s first of two touchdown runs.

After a successful two-point conversion, Leominster trailed 19-18.

The Blue Devils soon had the ball in their possession again after inside linebacker Jason Valera picked off a Brennan pass. Following a 53-yard return by Valera and tacking on an unsportsmanlike penalty at the play’s end, Leominster set up shot first and goal from the 6.

“They had a little bit of momentum going, and we needed a big play,” Palazzi said of Valera’s pick. “We finally got one.”

Two plays later, the Blue Devils had their first lead of the game, 24-19, on Matt Banchs’ 2-yard touchdown plunge.

The momentum snowballed from there. After forcing Doherty three-and-out, Neil O’Connor (16 of 23, 287 yards) connected with Shane Crayton for the pair’s second touchdown play of the game. The 63-yard pass on the roll out from O’Connor, hitting junior wideout on the backside post, and the following 2-point conversion provided Leominster with a 32-19 lead at 9:17 of the fourth.

Doherty would respond with Yiadom getting untracked on a 40-yard touchdown reception from Brennan (12 of 26, 217 yards), but the Blue Devils kept piling it on.

Gurley helped shut the door, knocking in his second rushing touchdown of the game before picking off a pass on Doherty’s next possession.

Blue Devils backup quarterback Nick Xarras capped scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run out of their goal-line double wing set.

“It was a team win in every aspect of the game,” Palazzi said. “We did a great job coming back from the onslaught at the beginning.”

Two-way player: O’Connor continued his campaign for this year’s Mr. Football award with another impressive showing.

On offense, in addition to his 287 passing yards, O’Connor ran for 72 yards on six carries. Twenty-nine of those yards came on one awe-inspiring fourth-quarter carry on which O’Connor broke four tackles before being wrestled down by a pair of Highlanders defenders at the Doherty 13. The run helped set up Leominster’s second to last score, providing the Blue Devils with a two-possession lead.

Palazzi also lauded O’Connor’s play at safety, helping to neutralize Doherty’s passing attack in the second half.

“He’s playing against a lot of these great athletes and he’s a competitor out there,” Palazzi said of O’Connor. “He threw the ball well, he ran the ball well and he played tremendous defense. [He was] going a hundred miles per hour on every play.”

Mr. Football Watch: Week 5

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
5:45
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 5 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS*

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Boston College commit completed 14 of 27 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns, and added 47 yards on the ground, in a 28-0 shutout of Norwood.

Brendan Hill, Jr. TE, Mansfield
Caught four passes for 76 yards and a score in the Hornets’ 49-42 win over Attleboro.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. ATH, Barnstable
Ran for 115 yards and three touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ 35-14 win over New Bedford.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB/S, Leominster
In just one half of football in the Blue Devils’ 34-0 shutout of Wachusett, accounted for 201 yards of offense and capped things off with a nifty 90-yard interception return to the house.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns in the Rockets’ 34-12 win over Framingham.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Carried 24 times for 233 yards and four touchdowns in the Crusaders’ commanding 42-20 rout of Cardinal Spellman.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
In the Pioneers’ 49-21 win over Nashoba, completed 23 of 29 passes for 335 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and added 67 rushing yards.

Cody Williams, Sr., Springfield Central
Monmouth commit completed 13 of 18 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and added 118 yards and a third score on the ground, in the Golden Eagles’ 19-7 win over Longmeadow.

Ju’an Williams, Sr., Springfield Central
Caught five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown in the Golden Eagles’ 19-7 win over Longmeadow

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 19 of 28 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns in the Hornets’ 49-42 thriller over Attleboro.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
Recorded a touchdown catch, his second of the year, in the Highlanders’ 40-12 rout of Worcester South. Through four games he is averaging 30.9 yards per catch, and has recorded 37 tackles on defense.


FIVE ON THE RISE

Bo Berluti, Sr. QB, Westwood
Accounted for 255 yards of offense and three total touchdowns in the Wolverines’ 43-41 double-overtime epic over archrival Holliston. But it will be his gutsy 25-yard, fourth and goal TD pass in the second overtime that will go down in folklore.

Derrell Fernandez, Sr. RB, Weymouth
Carried 225 times for 264 yards and five touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 42-18 win over Brookline.

Mike McGillicuddy, Sr. WR, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
The elusive slot receiver caught nine passes for 113 yards in the Pioneers’ 49-21 win over Nashoba.

Tom Rodrick, Sr. LB, Leicester
The UConn commit recorded 12 tackles, a sack, and blocked field goal in the Wolverines’ 15-6 win over Auburn.

Alex Valles, Sr. RB, Danvers
Carried 24 times for 211 yards and three scores in the Falcons’ 20-12 win over Revere.


TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Brooks Tyrrell, Jr., Marblehead – 889 yards, 9 total TD
Johnathan Thomas, Sr., St. John’s Prep – 748 yards, 8 total TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 760 yards, 8 TD
Olan Abner, Sr., Bedford – 733 yards, 7 TD
Christian Perez, Sr., Northeast – 725 yards, 8 total TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 1,230 yards, 19 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,086 yards, 14 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,072 yards, 11 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,035 yards, 17 TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 955 yards, 11 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 405 yards, 7 TD
Brian Daly, Sr., Marblehead – 395 yards, 8 TD
Dan Henrickson, Sr., St. Peter-Marian – 380 yards, 5 TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 371 yards, 2 TD
Mike Bombard, Sr., Chicopee Comp – 369 yards, 3 TD

Dual Threat
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 1,230 passing yards, 284 rushing yards, 21 total TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,035 passing yards, 316 rushing yards, 18 total TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,072 passing yards, 167 rushing yards, 14 total TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) 955 passing yards, 169 rushing yards, 16 total TD
Cody Williams, Sr., Springfield Central – 851 passing yards, 254 rushing yards, 13 total TD



*Not including teams who were idle last weekend.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 3

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
2:35
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 3 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS*

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
The Boston College commit completed 14 of 21 passes for 282 yards and five scores, and added 32 yards on the ground, in a 41-6 win over Acton-Boxborough.

Jack Galvin, Sr. WR, Lowell
Caught two passes for 90 yards and two scores in the Red Raiders’ 33-20 loss to Leominster.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils’ 33-20 defeat of Lowell, threw for 156 yards and three touchdowns, and added 66 yards and a score on the ground.

Dylan Oxsen, Sr. RB, Plymouth South
Carried 18 times for 256 yards and three touchdowns in the Panthers’ 21-7 win over Sandwich. In the first two games, he has 418 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
The UMass lacrosse commit ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns in the Rockets’ 26-6 win over Walpole.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
In the Pioneers’ 42-24 win over Catholic Memorial, the Navy lacrosse commit completed 20 of 25 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns, and added 47 rushing yards with a fifth score.

Johnathan Thomas, Sr. RB, St. John’s Prep
The Maryland commit carried 27 times for 228 yards and two scores, and added a spectacular 107-yard pick-six that made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, in a 40-21 win over Central Catholic.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
In the Golden Eagles’ 49-0 rout of East Longmeadow, the Monmouth commit completed 8 of 9 passes for 148 yards and three scores, and added 37 yards and a score on seven carries on the ground.

Ju’an Williams, Sr. WR/DB, Springfield Central
Was a factor in all three phases of the game in the Golden Eagles’ 49-0 blanking of East Longmeadow. He caught three passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns, recorded four tackles and a 92-yard interception return for a third score, and was a perfect 7-for-7 on extra point field goals.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
The Boston College commit caught four passes for 92 yards and a score, and recorded 13 tackles defensively, in the Highlanders’ 19-12 win over Holy Name.

FIVE ON THE RISE*

Zach Elkinson, Jr. ATH, Holliston
Registered 232 yards and three scores in three different methods – rushing, receiving and punt return – in the Panthers’ 43-7 win over Milford. Through three games, he has 514 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns by four different methods.

A.J. King, Sr. WR, Xaverian
Blew the doors open for the Hawks in their battle with Bridgewater-Raynham, catching four balls for 129 yards and two scores in the first half en route to a 49-13 rout.

Jimmy Sullivan, Sr. QB/S, Nauset
In the Warriors’ 34-8 win over Falmouth, carried 10 times for 167 yards and two scores, and added 38 passing yards and a third score, as well as four tackles on defense. Through two games, he has 419 all-purpose yards, five touchdowns, 13 tackles and an interception.

Olan Abner, Sr. RB, Bedford
Carried 38 times for 262 yards and two touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ 34-13 win over Belmont. Through two games, he has 398 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Ricardo Edwards, Sr. RB, Brighton
Had a record six touchdowns in the Bengals’ 44-22 win over East Boston. He ran for 233 yards and five scores, and returned an interception for a sixth.

TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Johnathan Thomas, Sr., St. John’s Prep – 652 yards, 8 total TD
Christian Perez, Sr., Northeast – 574 yards, 5 TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 558 yards, 6 TD
Isaiah White, Sr., Beverly – 558 yards, 5 TD
Brooks Tyrell, Jr., Marblehead – 453 yards, 6 total TD

Passing
Jordan Bolarinho, Sr., Billerica – 872 yards, 7 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 604 yards, 5 TD
Brendan Smith, Soph., Seekonk – 575 yards, 6 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 571 yards, 8 TD
Ryan Barabe, Jr., Pope John Paul II – 497 yards, 5 TD

Receiving
Kevin Casey, Jr., Billerica – 309 yards, 2 TD
Jack Galvin, Sr., Lowell – 283 yards, 6 TD
Jeff Trainor, Soph., Billerica – 254 yards, 3 TD
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 252 yards, 7 total TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 244 yards, TD

Dual Threat QB*
Cameron McMillian, Sr., Cambridge – 397 passing yards, 437 rushing yards, 10 total TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 604 passing yards, 118 rushing yards, 7 total TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 571 passing yards, 99 rushing yards, 9 total TD
Tyler Bassett, Sr., Dracut – 355 passing yards, 312 rushing yards, 4 total TD
Kyle Dance, Sr., Latin Academy – 373 passing yards, 237 rushing yards, 10 total TD
*Not including teams who were idle last weekend.
**To qualify, quarterbacks must have rushing yards account for at least 15 percent of their total offensive production.

2014 Mass. Football Player Rankings Updated

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
1:37
PM ET
ESPNU has updated its player rankings for the Class of 2014 in Massachusetts, and there are a few changes of note.

St. John's Prep running back Johnathan Thomas and St. Sebastian's linebacker Connor Strachan maintain the top two spots. Meanwhile, Doherty athlete Isaac Yiadom (3), Everett defensive back Lubern Figaro (4), Millis/Hopedale lineman Jon Baker (5) and Tabor Academy athlete Miles Wright (6) all move up one spot from the previous update in July.

Roxbury Latin linebacker Kevin Cohee and Leominster safety Jarell Addo both move up two spots to Nos. 7 and 8, respectively. Rounding out the Top 10 are two newcomers, Dexter lineman James Hendren (9) and Catholic Memorial defensive athlete Kevin Bletzer (10).

To see the full list of top prospects in Massachusetts, CLICK HERE.

Below is the Top 10, with college commitment in italics. You can also see the updated Top 10 list on our homepage:

1. Johnathan Thomas, RB, St. John's Prep - Maryland
2. Connor Strachan, LB, St. Sebastian's - Boston College
3. Isaac Yiadom, WR/DB, Doherty - Boston College
4. Lubern Figaro, DB, Everett
5. Jon Baker, OL, Millis/Hopedale - Boston College
6. Miles Wright, ATH, Tabor Academy
7. Kevin Cohee, LB, Roxbury Latin - Boston College
8. Jarell Addo, S, Leominster - UMass
9. James Hendren, OL, Dexter - Boston College
10. Kevin Bletzer, LB, Catholic Memorial - Boston College


Scrimmage Slants: St. John's (S) at Doherty

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
11:46
PM ET
Some of the best talent in Central Mass was on the field at Foley Stadium in Worcester Thursday, as No. 22 Doherty hosted No. 11 St. John's (Shrewsbury) for a scrimmage.

Each team's varsity starters scored a pair of touchdowns, and the both defenses showed flashes that they may be forces in 2013.

Some notes and observations from Thursday's scrimmage:

Doherty's Dynamic Duo: The Highlanders will have to replace star tight end/linebacker Noah Robinson and, at least on the offensive end, they seem to have found their answer. Alfred Adarkwah is listed as a wide receiver, but the 6-foot-4 senior lined up at tight end frequently, creating mismatches against the St. John's linebackers. On Doherty's first drive of the game, Adarkwah got just behind the linebackers and split the safeties on an out-up-and in, then broke a tackle on his way to a 30 yard score.

Isaac Yiadom, a do-it-all athlete and ESPN Boston Preseason All-State selection, lived up to his star billing. The versatile senior made a fantastic catch on a wheel route up the left sideline for 30 yards, displaying great body control and concentration on a ball that was slightly underthrown. Yiadom also scored Doherty's other varsity touchdown, breaking contain on a receiver sweep, then cutting back against the grain for a 35-yard touchdown run.

Defenses clearly fear Yiadom, and the emergence of Adarkwah at both receiver and tight end should help ease the loss of Robinson. The two were particularly effective when lined up on the same side of the formation, with quarterback Luke Brennan rolling their way.

"They both have strengths," Doherty coach Sean Mulcahy said. "Isaac is obviously a dual-threat as a runner and receiver, and Alfred is a really tough matchup for anyone that's not really tall. We have a quarterback that can get them both the ball, and as we go we'll figure out, team-to-team, how we can use them best."

Pioneer Defense Continues to Improve: They're not there yet. At least, not according to St. John's coach John Andreoli, but the Pioneer defense does look significantly better than last year's group that surrendered nearly 30 points a game. After giving up a quick score to the Highlanders, St. John's tightened things up on the defensive line, thanks largely to sophomore nose tackle Josh Angel. The young tackle is still a work in progress according to his coach, but he sure is hard to move at the point of attack.

A week after facing Brockton's power running game, the Pioneers were given the challenge of adjusting to Doherty's spread formations. Andreoli gave his defense passing marks on that adjustment.

"Early in the game we had three third down situations where we just lost contain," Andreoli said. "That's just about us being disciplined, and we did a better job of that after the first drive. On the other hand, we did a real good job against the run, especially against the inside run game.

But I was encouraged about the first two weeks here, after facing two totally different offenses and the way our defense has adjusted to what we've seen."

Smiley Shaking the Rust Off: Preseason All State quarterback Drew Smiley looked a little rusty in the Pioneers' scrimmage against Brockton last week, but he was back to running the St. John's "Blur Offense" efficiently Thursday. Smiley led the Pioneers on a quick 75-yard touchdown drive on his first series, connecting on three of three passes for 30 yards, and rushing for another five yards. The drive was capped by junior running back Shane Combs taking a read handoff for a 45-yard score off left tackle.

On the next St. John's drive, Smiley threw a perfect fade route for a 22-yard touchdown just over the outstretched arms of Adarkwah who was back playing safety. Smiley did fumble when he was sacked by three different Highlanders on his team's next drive, but it looked like he was trying to do too much when he just should've eaten the ball. Other than that one play, it was a pretty perfect day for Smiley.

"Overall we got enough snaps for Drew and he looked good," Andreoli said. "Next week we'll get him a little more, and we're hoping to get some guys back on that side of the ball next week, so we want to be at full strength and getting to game speed by the time we scrimmage New Bedford next Saturday."

Doherty's Young Talent: The star of the scrimmage after the starters left the field was easily Doherty's Ricky Webster. The younger brother of Doherty's 2012 leading rusher Abdulla Webster, the speedy sophomore scored two touchdowns in the second half of the scrimmage. The first was an uneventful five-yard dive, but the second was a 75-yard highlight reel run where Webster got the corner, broke a tackle, then outran everybody down the left sideline. He also looked good in coverage as a corner on defense. No matter what he was doing, Webster just looked fast.

Mulcahy knows that Webster is a great athlete, but he wants him to become a great football player.

"He's gonna be a very good player, but he needs to get to practice," Mulcahy said. "He's very talented. He's good enough, talent-wise, to probably get in the mix for some carries this year. But we've got to get him here every day getting better."

Jones and Brennan Leave With Minor Injuries: On the injury front, both teams played without key players in the second quarter, but both should be back after the long weekend. St. John's junior receiver/safety Davon Jones didn't reenter the game after the first quarter ended, and Doherty quarterback Luke Brennan sat out the second quarter as well. Both injuries are considered minor and both coaches feel they will have their stars back after Labor Day in preparation for the start of the season.

Before Brennan went out, he delivered several memorable plays, including a Ben Roethlisberger-like scramble were he stepped up into the pocket, pounced back off a would-be tackler, turned around and scrambled to his right before flinging it 30 yards for a first down. He also delivered a big hit while running down the sideline on a busted play during the scrimmage’s first drive, lowering the boom on a St. John's linebacker that was probably expecting him to step out of bounds.

Jones was his usual versatile self, splitting time between receiver and running back on offense. He got around five touches and broke two runs for first downs. On defense, he nearly recorded the scrimmages only interception as he sat deep in coverage, and baited Brennan into throwing the post to Yiadom. Jones broke hard on the ball, undercutting the route perfectly, but just couldn't hold onto it.

Yiadom set to lead No. 22 Doherty

August, 22, 2013
8/22/13
8:35
PM ET
Sean Mulcahy still clearly remembers the first time he knew he had something special with Isaac Yiadom.

Back then, in 2011, he was a wiry 6-foot, 147 pounds, freshly transplanted from Alexandria, Va., where he quickly moved into the starting secondary as a freshman at Robert E. Lee High. Raw, skinny, but blessed with a solitary blend of speed and leaping ability, Yiadom was placed at free safety for the Highlanders' first preseason scrimmage, Westborough.

On one of the first plays from scrimmage, the Rangers called a toss play to the alley, and Yiadom -- lined up 10 yards off the ball in a "man free" look, in the middle of the field -- came sprinting across the field, wrapping up the wingback cleanly in the space between the hash mark and numbers, before he could turn the corner.

"I was like 'Holy Cow'," Mulcahy recalled. "Those kinds of things you can’t coach. What would have taken a normal kid, maybe he gives up three yards [on the play], Isaac made the play and they lost three yards. He's a great open-field tackler. Literally, if we needed him to play at linebacker, he'd be more suited for us to be successful at middle linebacker. But we've gotta protect him too."

Two years, two inches and 30 pounds later, Yiadom is one of the fastest-rising commodities in Massachusetts, becoming the first of seven Bay State prospects to pledge to Boston College's 2014 recruiting class, in late March, and building buzz ever since. Last season, he had 48 touches for 972 yards of offense, which included 22 carries; with his signature running play, an end-around, he averaged nearly 13 yards a carry.

Blessed with 4.5 speed and a 37-inch vertical leap, Yiadom also made six interceptions and 60 tackles as a strong safety. He will likely fit into a cornerback role at BC, with hopes that his long arms can provide some stiff coverage. During outdoor track and field season, Yiadom is among the state's best in the 400-meter dash (49.99 seconds) and triple jump (46-foot-6). Scouts Inc. ranks Yiadom as the No. 4 overall prospect in Massachusetts, higher than highly-touted Division 1 prospects such as Everett defensive back Lubern Figaro (12 offers), Natick quarterback Troy Flutie (BC) and Tabor Academy athlete Miles Wright (undecided).

Of course, he benefited from the impact last year of two-way star Noah Robinson, who became a matchup problem at tight end, as well as a strong stable of running backs and the terrific arm of returning quarterback Luke Brennan, who committed to Franklin Pierce University for baseball earlier this month. Yiadom began to see more physical, bracketed coverage towards the end of last season, but now he'll expect full-on scheming against him as the Highlanders' top option.

That suits him just fine. After all, the Highlanders are expecting big things this year out of receivers Alfred Adarkwah and Shawn Jackson.

"Towards the end of the season they were beating me up a little harder," Yiadom said. "But [physical play] kind of excites me at the same time. I like it, too, because it opens new ways for Luke to find Alfred or Shawn."

Which brings us to one of the more intriguing developments of the offseason. In passing leagues this summer, in an effort to stress defenses, the Highlanders toyed with Yiadom and the 6-foot-4, 170-pound Adarkwah on the same side of formations. With his big hands and long arms (6-foot-7 wingspan), Adarkwah can stretch a defense vertically and seal a defender off deep downfield. That could blend well with Yiadom's speed; running the two of "smash" and "snag" combo routes, along with bubble screens, the strategy had some success this summer.

"I definitely think it's gonna be his best season this year," Yiadom said. "Last year he did great, but we had Noah Robinson and great receivers [around him]. This is gonna be his best year because he can draw a lot of attention. He stretches for the ball. He just doesn't drop the ball -- even in passing league, he just doesn't drop it. He's hungry this year, it's gonna be a good year."

DOHERTY AT A GLANCE
Coach: Sean Mulcahy (23rd season, 100-143)
Last season: 9-3, lost in Div. 2 CMass Playoffs
Returning Starters: 10 (seven offense, three defense)
Key Returnees: Sr. WR/DB Isaac Yiadom, Sr. QB Luke Brennan, Sr. WR Alfred Adarkwah, Sr. RB/LB Pete Franco, Sr. OL/DL Jack Halloran, Sr. E/DB Shawn Jackson, Sr. E/DB Mitch Celaj, OL/DL Matt Smalls
Strengths: Skill players, passing game, secondary, athleticism.
Weaknesses: Experience at offensive and defensive lines, linebackers.
Overview: Defensively there might be growing pains at first for the Highlanders, who are looking to replace eight starters, mostly in the front seven and none more significant than linebacker Noah Robinson (125 tackles, five sacks). But with the BC-bound Yiadom at free safety leading the defensive backs, one has to wonder how much time that can buy his teammates in front of him on pass rushes -- his closing speed is without peer in the Central Mass. region, and he takes terrific angles on passes. Offensively, the questions are in the trenches, where there is experience to be replaced. But the Highlanders run a perimeter-oriented offensive scheme, which suits their deep stable of talented skill players. Expect Yiadom, who racked up nearly 1,000 yards of offense on just 48 carries last season, to be the focal point of defensive game plans, and see his fair share of bracket coverage. But one of the more interesting developments over the summer has been their usage of the 6-foot-4 Adarkwah, who could be in for a breakout season. With long arms that give him a wide catching radius and help him lock up defenders when blocking downfield, the Highlanders may experiment with him and Yiadom on the same side of formations, which could stretch the limits of pass defenses they face. Overall, the Highlanders have plenty of firepower on offense, directed by Brennan under center, but the defense will have to grow up quick if they are to replicate last year's success and fulfill some heady preseason expectations.

Roundtable: Best players, breakout stars, sleepers

August, 21, 2013
8/21/13
6:03
PM ET
Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools editor


Best QB: Cody Williams, Springfield Central
Best RB: Johnathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR: Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE: Brendan Hill, Mansfield
Best OL: Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best DL: Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best LB: C.J. Parvelus, Everett
Best DB: Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense: Natick
Best rushing offense: St. John's Prep
Best offensive line: St. John's Prep
Best defensive line: Reading
Best linebackers: Reading
Best secondary: Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Medway
Coach Dave McSweeney's affinity for power football isn't a secret, and this season he'll have two road-graders to run behind in Kevin Sheehan (6-4, 285) and Cam Smith (6-5, 290, Lafayette commit). If there's any exhibit for why we needed to change the postseason format, the most glaring sample might be the Mustangs, who went 19-3 from 2009-10 with no playoff berth. In this new playoff system, a gameplan like the Mustangs' is built for the long haul.

Lynn English
Perhaps this isn't a surprise pick so much as an affirmation. In a Division 2 North that is perceived to be wide open after heavy favorite Reading, the Bulldogs have enough talent to make a deep run. There has always been elite talent at the skill positions, but Preseason All-State selection Chris Tinkham gives them a presence in the trenches they've lacked the last few years, a rare "war daddy" type who overpowers the interior gaps. The biggest question will be where the Bulldogs put junior Jordan Javier, a 6-foot-4 transfer from Haverhill who is a matchup problem at his natural split end position but also throws one of the prettiest balls you'll see on the North Shore.

Quabbin
The Panthers struggled to a 4-7 tune last season in a weak league, but there is some promise. Quarterback Dylan Kierman is an underappreciated talent, who should get a boost from the return of slippery receiver Nick Thyden. The Panthers run a unique "Air Raid" scheme, and another year of experience with it could surprised teams in Division 4 Central.

THREE BREAKOUT ATHLETES TO WATCH

Lukas Denis, Jr. ATH, Everett
After an injury-shortened 2012 season in which he was the assumed successor to record-setting quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso, but barely saw the field, Denis is moving to the perimeter, where he will take a role similar to the hybrid slot-back role that Manny Asprilla made legendary in 2010. Defensively, he should serve as a terrific compliment in the secondary to highly-touted safety/cornerback Lubern Figaro, and has already begun to pick up some Division 1 FBS interest.

Alfred Adarkwah, Sr. WR, Doherty
Standing a long 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan, Adarkwah has an unusually large catching radius for a high school receiver. This summer in passing leagues, the Highlanders toyed with Adarkwah and Boston College-bound receiver Isaac Yiadom on the same side of 2x2 formations. Head coach Sean Mulcahy has to be excited with the possibilities that opens up -- just imagine sending those two on a post-wheel combo route. Or better yet, imagine running them on a bubble screen, taking advantage of both Yiadom's elite speed and Adarkwah's great downfield blocking skills.

Taj-Amir Torres, Jr. ATH, Amherst
Already a household name in track and field, where he was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year last spring as a sophomore after winning New Englands in the 100-meter dash, he's about to get a whole lot more attention. Boston College, UConn and UMass have already offered Torres, who made just 24 catches last season but made some incredible feats of athleticism. Hurricanes head coach David Thompson told us earlier this month "[We're] trying to get the ball in his hands every opportunity we get", so expect bigger numbers in 2013.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS

Div. 1 - Everett
Div. 2 - Springfield Central
Div. 3 - Walpole
Div. 4 - Doherty
Div. 5 - Auburn
Div. 6 - Millis/Hopedale

***

Scott Barboza
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor

Best QB - Drew Belcher - Sr. Reading
Best RB - Johnny Thomas - Sr. St. John’s Prep
Best WR - Brian Dunlap - Jr. Natick
Best TE - Rory Donovan - Sr. Cardinal Spellman
Best OL - Jon Baker – Sr., Millis/Hopedale
Best DL – Joe Gaziano – Jr., Xaverian
Best LB – Eddie Motavu – Sr., Tewksbury
Best DB - Lubern Figaro - Sr. Everett
Best passing offense - Natick
Best rushing offense - St. John's Prep
Best offensive line – Bridgewater-Raynham
Best defensive line - Reading
Best linebackers - Leominster
Best secondary - Everett

THREE SURPRISE TEAMS

St. Mary’s (Lynn)
OK, so a team coming off an 11-2 season and a Super Bowl appearance might not exactly be a surprise, but with a couple of other Catholic Central teams garnering the buzz in the preseason, let's not forget the Spartans have another season with Jordan Collier (1,495 yards, 18 TD).

Hingham

We've heard them knocking, but can they come in? The Harbormen have whittled the gap in recent years, particularly against Patriot League nemesis Duxbury, but they're still waiting to break through. They could have an in-road in Division 3 Southwest. An early non-leaguer against Oliver Ames should be a bellweather for things to come, but the real proof will come Oct. 5, against those aforementioned Dragons.

Wakefield
The Warriors fell short of their goal of winning the Middlesex League's Freedom division last year, but should be in the mix in a wide open Division 3 Northwest race. We'll have a better impression after a visit from Lynn English in Week 2.

THREE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES

Joe Johnston, Sr. RB/S, King Philip
Anybody who saw Johnston's hard-nosed 157-yard, 2-touchdown performance against North Attleborough last year knows Johnston's style. He's a burden for would-be tacklers inside the box, and once he kicks it outside, he's also very hard to catch.

Grant Kramer, Sr. OT, Duxbury
The younger brother of Boston College tackle Aaron Kramer, Grant is now ready to assume the role as the next great lineman on the Dragons' line (and there have been some very good ones in recent memory). He currently holds offers from Coastal Carolina and Villanova but has also expressed interest in attending West Point.

Connor Moriarty, Sr. RB, Walpole
When Rebels starter Mike Rando went out with an ankle injury near the midway point of the regular season last year, it was Moriarty who carried the load down the stretch. Expect even bigger numbers this year.

WAY TOO EARLY CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS:

D1 – St. John’s Prep
D2 – Springfield Central
D3 – Walpole
D4 – Doherty
D5 – Auburn
D6 – Millis/Hopedale

***

Josh Perry
ESPN Boston correspondent


Best QB - Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB - Jonathan Thomas, St. John’s Prep
Best WR – Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE – Brendan Hill, Mansfield
Best OL – Jon Baker, Millis-Hopedale
Best DL – Andrew Bourque, Reading
Best LB – Kevin Bletzer, Catholic Memorial
Best DB – Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense - Natick
Best rushing offense – St. John’s Prep
Best offensive line – St. John’s Prep
Best defensive line - Reading
Best linebackers – Catholic Memorial
Best secondary - Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE:

Attleboro
A new coaching staff, the energy of a new field complex, and a strong crop of returning seniors could make the Bombardiers the surprise team of the Hockomock League. Attleboro has always been a sleeping giant and the program continues to find solid athletes, it’s now up to the new staff to build a system that fits the talent on the roster. With a couple of league rivals dealing with injuries and suspensions, Attleboro could sneak up on people.

Barnstable
Everyone assumes that there will be a significant drop off for the Red Raiders due to a big graduating class, but there is still potential to be a solid team in D2 and in the OCL. This may not be a another season with Barnstable holding the top spot in the poll, but it shouldn’t be written off either.

Stoughton
The Knights are expected to finish behind Oliver Ames in the Davenport, but don’t be surprised if they pull an upset or two and give the Tigers a run at the title. Watch out for running back Malachi Baugh, who will be getting the majority of the carries this season and is a beast to try and bring down.

THREE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES TO WATCH

Luke Morrison, Sr. TE/DE, Attleboro
Attleboro’s giant tight end/defensive end is a monster match-up on both sides of the ball and could be a real threat as Tim Walsh’s favorite target in the Bombardiers passing attack.

Ryan Charter, Sr. QB, Needham
Mike Panepinto has deservedly drawn praise as the star man on the Needham offense, but the senior quarterback, who has been under center for 1-1/2 seasons already, will have high expectations as the Rockets try to get back on top in the Bay State.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
With the graduation of running backs Robbie Rapoza and Kevin Makie and the continued injury problems for wide receiver Michael Hershman the key cog for the Hornets offense will be its senior quarterback. Wisnieski’s ability to spread the ball around and pick the right options out of a still talented receiving corps that includes Brendan Hill is going to be the key for Mansfield’s run at a Hockomock title.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS:

Div. 1 – St. John’s Prep
Div. 2 - Nashoba
Div. 3 – Bishop Feehan
Div. 4 - Doherty
Div. 5 - Auburn
Div. 6 – Millis-Hopedale

***

Ryan Kilian
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Massachusetts Prep Stars


Best QB - Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB - Johnathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR - Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE - Rory Donovan, Cardinal Spellman
Best OL - Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best DL - Alex Quintero, Lowell
Best LB - C.J. Parvelus, Defense
Best DB - Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense - St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Best rushing offense - St. John's Prep
Best offensive line - St. John's Prep
Best defensive line - Reading
Best linebackers - Duxbury
Best secondary - Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Bedford
While Wayland and Concord-Casrlisle have earned the DCL Small Championship the past few years do not sleep on Bedford in 2013. The Bucs play one of the toughest schedules in Division 4 and the return All-DCL running back Olan Abner.

Chelmsford
While Lowell, Central and Andover are getting most of the early press in the MVC Large, the Chelmsford Lions return one of the State's top running backs in Jeff D'Auria, a seasoned young quarterback in Jack Campsmith and a nice nucleus of tough experienced defenders.

Archbishop Williams
If Archies can find early offensive balance to take some of the work load off the shoulders of star senior back Kylan Philbert-Richardson, they could make some noise in the D5 playoff hunt.

THREE BREAKOUT ATHLETES TO WATCH

Ian Kessel, Soph. RB, Haverhill
The St. John's Prep transfer saw late game carries last season as a freshman for Prep's Super Bowl Champion squad. The speedy halfback is now back home in the MVC Small, and with the graduation of work horse, All-State RB Chance Brady (Tufts), there should be plenty carries to go around.

Devin Lekan, Sr. DE/TE, Chelmsford
D'Auria and Campsmith return to lead the offense for Chelmsford's but it is the Lion defense could be the story if they stay healthy. The Lions feature the 2nd team all-MVC performer was the most impressive player in the games I saw last season.

Nick Orekoya, Jr. DB/RB Billerica
Orekoya saw a lot of playing time as a two-way starter for Billerica last season. With another year under his belt Orekoya should thrive in coach Rich McKenna's high octane offense.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS

Div. 1 - Everett
Div. 2 - Reading
Div. 3 - Tewksbury
Div. 4 - Dennis-Yarmouth
Div. 5 - Auburn
Div. 6 - Boston Cathedral

***

John Botelho
Editor-in-Chief, South Shore Sports Journal


Best QB - Troy Flutie, Natick
Best RB - Dylan Oxsen, Plymouth South
Best WR - Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE - Rory Donovan, Cardinal Spellman
Best OL - Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best DL - Steve Manning, Abington
Best LB - Kervin Jean-Claude, Brockton
Best DB - Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense - Natick
Best rushing offense - St. John's Prep
Best offensive line - St. John's Prep
Best defensive line - Auburn
Best linebackers - Brockton
Best secondary - Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Brockton
They're ranked pretty high in any poll you look at because people have just come to accept the fact that Brockton generally reloads. They graduated 18 starters from last season's Super Bowl team, including quarterback Austin Roberts, who was one of the best in school history. Roberts, Micah Morel and Joe Previte are all playing ball at prep schools this year, and Anthony Davis has moved on to Div. 1 Central Connecticut. Still, the Boxers will very solid again. They have a number of athletes and playmakers, including returning do-it-all Aaron Leclair. Transfer Jamal Williams is going to compliment him well, and sophomore Kerry Raymond is physically imposing at 6-foot-1 and 205. Aaron Monteiro's 6-foot-5, 295-pound frame gives Brockton an anchor on the offensive line. They have plenty of guys ready to step forward on the other side of the ball as well, led by Kervin Jean-Claude, Justin Ahanon and Leclair.

Abington
The Green Wave went unbeaten in their march toward a Super Bowl crown last year, but saw a slew of stars graduate. QB Brandon Cawley, TE/DE Pat Dwyer, FB Jack Malafronte, RB Babila Fonkem, DB Mike Walsh, OL Tyler Perakslis and OL Matt Diver are just some of the elite players Abington graduated. These guys won't miss a beat though, as they have a ton of talent back. Matt Kilmain broke out for more than 400 yards on 27 carries in two postseason wins last year, and he might not even be the best player back this season. Abington returns its top three tacklers from a year ago and has most of their front seven back on defense. Jim Kelliher has one of the best coaching staffs going at this point, and these guys look like they're headed back to the playoffs. (For bold prediction purposes, I'm also going to go ahead and say I think they beat Duxbury on opening night, because that's how good I think this team can be).

Stoughton
The Black Knights missed the playoffs last year because of the wrong day for a let down game, taking a tough defeat to eventual Super Bowl champ Sharon. The Knights lost some very good players, but leading running back Malachi Baugh is back in the fold and they return four starting offensive lineman, so there's no reason to think the offense won't be up to par again. The Hockomock League has proven in recent years to be one of the toughest to win, but a second guaranteed playoff berth can only help a team like Stoughton.

THREE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES TO WATCH

Aaron Monteiro, Jr. OL, Brockton
Monteiro has something that can't be learned, or even worked toward. His 6-foot-5, 295-pound frame is one that will draw the interest of coaches at the next level. Coach Peter Colombo is very excited about plugging the junior into his offensive line, and it's not just because of the size. Monteiro worked during the off-season to get himself stronger and is primed to be one of the best lineman in the state. He plays basketball in the winter, something that has helped him develop quick and agile feet for a guy his size.

Sam Malafronte, Jr. LB, Abington
Started at linebacker a year ago as a sophomore for the Div. 4 Super Bowl champs, and finished second on the team in tackles. A very good athlete who is a work-out warrior, Malafronte will team with Matt Whelan to lead a solid corps in the middle of the field for the Green Wave.

James Shea, Sr. WR, East Bridgewater
The Vikings have benefited from having tremendous athletes in the backfield the last few years (think Casey DeAndrade, Tim O'Brien, Andrew Benson and Kevin Lynch), but in 2013 their most dangerous player will be splitting out wide. Shea can run with just about anyone -- he finished sixth in the 100-meter dash in the South Shore League last spring -- and is going to wreak havoc pulling in passes all year.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS

Div. 1 - Everett
Div. 2 - Natick
Div. 3 - Plymouth South
Div. 4 - Doherty
Div. 5 - Abington
Div. 6 - Millis/Hopedale

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