Boston High School: Jack Malafronte

Recap: Abington 14, St. Mary's 8

December, 1, 2012
12/01/12
9:18
PM ET
MILTON, Mass. -- In his more than 40 years of coaching at Abington High, it would be reasonable to think Jim Kelliher has seen it all on the football.

In winning the EMass. Div. 4 Super Bowl, 14-8, over St. Mary’s of Lynn on Saturday, Kelliher was witness to two things he’d never before seen: An undefeated Green Wave season and a playoff performance like that of Matt Kilmain.

Even Kelliher’s Super Bowl teams in 2002 couldn’t boast an unbeaten season from beginning to end.

“We did something no team in school history has ever done – we went 13-0,” said captain Jack Malafronte. “At Abington, with the history of football we have, to be able say we did something no one has ever done is a good feeling.”

Kilmain helped guarantee the Green Wave would finish undefeated with a pair of all-time performances in the playoffs this week.

After rushing for 272 yards on 12 carries and scoring three times in the opening round win over Millis/Hopedale on Tuesday night, Kilmain delivered a 15-carry, 166 yard performance that included what proved to be the game-winning touchdown against St. Mary’s.

“He’s really done a yeoman’s job for us,” said coach Jim Kelliher, who coached his third Super Bowl champion this year. “He truly, truly has – especially in the second half of the season. People didn’t know too much about him.

As coaches, we knew what kind of potential he had and he just worked at it. With the help of his teammates, he started to show his skills, and he has some really great running back skills.”

Even his teammates and fellow Super Bowl champions were impressed by his showing this week.

“It didn’t surprise me,” said senior captain Jack Malafronte, who shares running back duties with Kilmain and has scored in six straight games. “I knew he was capable of that all season. We’ve talked about it all year – it’s only a matter of time before someone breaks one or does something special. He was special this playoffs.”

Added QB Brandon Cawley: ““He was the whole offense for us this playoffs,” said senior . “He just took over during the playoffs. He’s going to have a great year next and I can’t wait to watch him.”

Before he was able to take over in the Super Bowl, St. Mary’s received the game’s opening kick. John Gaeta set up a short field with a 52-yard run, which Jordan Collier followed with a 1-yard dive into the end zone. A two-point conversion made it 8-0.
Abington’s defense didn’t allow another point.

“We haven’t really ever been all year a team who is going to get a whole bunch of one, two three and outs,” said Kelliher.
“People have driven on us but we always professed the fact that if we give them the ball in tough position, that they’ll have to go a long way and not make any mistakes to get back in our endzone.

We just try to make sure we do everything we can to make sure they don’t get in the end zone, and wherever we get it back, we don’t care.”

After Collier gave the Spartans a lead, Malafronte made sure it was brief and punched in a score on the next drive. He finished off a lengthy drive with a 14-yard score in which he shook off a pair of tacklers and dragged a third into the end zone.

After forcing a turnover on downs, Abington extended their lead in the second quarter when Kilmain took a sweep left around the edge. His lead blockers made sure the gain would go for at least a first a down, but Kilmain breaking a pair of tackles made he’d go 80-yards all the way for a score. A failed two-point conversion left the score at 14-8.

From there the team’s traded defensive blows, finishing the half with that same score.

On their first drive of the second half, St. Mary’s threatened to score again, putting together an impressive 17-play drive that spanned more than seven minutes but stalled out at the Abington 29 when junior Steve Manning sacked quarterback Jake Cassidy.

After forcing a punt, the Spartans start marching toward the end zone again, moving the ball all the way down to Abington’s 15.
Joe Brady ended their chance to score with an interception in the end zone with 4:22 remaining in the contest.

Babila Fonkem, Kilmain and Malafronte – who combined for 303 rushing yard in the win – all picked up rushing first downs on the final drive, allowing Abington to take knees and win their third Super Bowl title since 2002.

MORE GOOD NEWS
It was rumored prior to the season that this year would be the last for Kelliher, a head coach of 39 years whose been on the Green Wave staff for more than 40.

He put that notion to bed following the win yesterday.

“I still enjoy myself, and the other coaches and the players,” Kelliher said. “Maybe, hopefully, the players would say the same thing about me. I still enjoy the game and I still think I can add a little something to it.

I do think about it possibly being my last year – at my age you have to. I have to think about, I’m not going to lie about that but I still enjoy coaching football.”

Even the graduating players are happy Kelliher decided to return.

“He is Abington football,” said Malafronte. “For him to be back, means everything to this program. I knew once we started going on a roll that he would be back. He can’t get away from it. Coming off a 13-0 season, how can you get away from that?”

Recap: Abington 29, Millis/Hopedale 12

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
12:23
AM ET
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- With three gifted running backs, it's not always easy to predict which Abington runner will take his turn in the big-game spotlight.

Tuesday evening, it was junior Matt Kilmain who stepped to the forefront, piling up an incredible 274 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries to lead the Green Wave in a 29-12 triumph over Millis/Hopedale in a Div. 4 semifinal matchup at Bridgewater-Raynham High School.

Abington (12-0) will face St. Mary's in the Div. 4 Super Bowl Saturday at Curry College (time TBA).

"It was really the blocking. Every time I scored, the hole was huge," said Kilmain when asked what enabled him to have such success. "I would just hit the hole, make one move and I was gone. I got the one touchdown and they just keep feeding me."

Fellow backs Babila Fonkem (38 yards) and Jack Malafronte (32 yards, TD) have also taken turns in the lead role but Kilmain showed early signs that he was going to be difficult for the Mohawks to handle. Despite a somewhat slippery turf, Kilmain took Abington's second play from scrimmage 72 yards down the left sideline for a score.

Millis/Hopedale (8-4) got it right back on an 11-yard TD run by Chris Ahl (100 yards, two scores) and took the lead on Ahl's second touchdown, also from 11 yards. The Mohawks missed both extra points, as well as a 20-yard field goal try at the buzzer, but still took a 12-7 into the break.

Whatever was discussed in the Green Wave locker room during the half seemed to have an effect as Kilmain took the first play from scrimmage through left tackle and sprinted 65 yards to paydirt, putting his team back in front, 15-12.

Two possessions later, Kilmain broke another big run, this time sprinting 42 yards straight through the middle. Malafronte would add the final score on a 12-yard burst in the fourth quarter.

"Matt Kilmain has come into his own in the latter part of the season," praised Abington coach Jim Kelliher. "He's just feeling more comfortable being a running back, more comfortable with the plays, a lot more...just going out there and doing what he can do best and letting everything flow. And when he can do that he's as good as anybody."

DIGGING IN ON DEFENSE
Led by 6-foot-2, 300-pound two-way lineman Jon Baker, who was his typically dominating self, the Mohawks boast a rather imposing group of linemen on both sides of the ball. Instead of cowering and giving way to such beef, the Green Wave defense instead dug in their heels and relied on quickness and technique to find holes in the Millis offensive line to get pressure in the backfield.

The trio of Jason Halpin, Steve Manning and nose tackle Jon Aprile more than held their own and put together more than a few big plays. Manning and Aprile each had sacks while all three consistently swarmed to the ball and made several tackles for no gain or losses.

"We just shut down the middle," Halpin said. "That's all we needed to do. We sent it outside, we got the linebackers going. Just an all around team thing. They were huge, they were a big line, You just gotta find their weakness and attack it.

Halpin added, "We really keyed in on the two main players, [quarterback Sean Heffernan] and [Ahl]. [Ian Strom] was one of the big guys too. We keyed in on them, made sure we knew all of their formations and everything. We prepared a lot."

Kelliher knew his smaller squad was in for a battle but he was able to walk away more than pleased with the effort his defense put forth,

"I thought my kids did exactly what we asked them to do," Kelliher said. "Just hang in there, be tough, keep on coming at them and things will turn. Yeah, we're going to get driven back a few times because they're pretty good, they're pretty big. But at the same time, we have good football players. Stay with what you do best and everything's going to be alright."

ABINGTON 29, MILLIS/HOPEDALE 12
MILLIS/HOPEDALE (8-4) 6 6 0 0 - 12
ABINGTON (12-0) 7 0 14 8 - 29

AB - Matt Kilmain 72 run (Shawn Donovan kick)
MH - Chris Ahl 11 run (kick failed)
MH - Ahl 11 run (kick blocked)
AB - Kilmain 65 run (Babila Fonkem rush)
AB - Kilmain 42 run (pass failed)
AB - Jack Malfronte 12 run (Tim Ferguson pass from Brandon Cawley)

Recap: No. 23 Abington 22, East Bridgewater 16

November, 9, 2012
11/09/12
11:42
PM ET
EAST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Jack Malafronte might only stand 5-foot-5 and 170 pounds, but he played like the biggest man on the field Friday night for the Abington football team in their South Shore League title clinching win over East Bridgewater.

The fire hydrant of a running back led the charge for the Green Wave, carrying the ball 12 times for a whopping 174 yards in the 22-16 win.

The Vikings managed to curtail the production of offensive lightning rods Babila Fonkem and Matt Kilmain, but Malafronte found the end zone three times for the unbeaten Green Wave (10-0, 7-0 SSL).

“It always starts with the offensive line, they open up the holes,” said Malafronte. “I just hit em fast and hit em hard.

"I think we have the most talented group of backs around. You really can’t game-plan for three running backs and quarterback who can throw, so teams have to pick their poison. You might shut down one or shutdown two, but someone is going to find those holes.”

And Hall-of-Fame coach Jim Kelliher couldn’t have been happier it was Malafronte, who is widely recognized as one of the best motivators he's had – this year or any.

“Jack [Malafronte] is without a doubt one of the best captain-leaders we’ve ever had here,” Kelliher said. “I’ve been here for 42 years, so I’ve seen a lot of guys go through. He’s without a doubt the best. He epitomizes being a captain leader. He certainly showed it tonight.”

He didn’t get his first carry until two minutes into the second quarter, but he made the most of it as he sprinted 61 yards and moved the Green Wave into East Bridgewater territory for the first time.

After a pass interference call on fourth down kept the drive alive, Malafronte finished it off with a 10-yard dive into the end zone with 5:25 remaining in the half. A halfback pass from Fonkem to Joe Buckley made it 8-0.

East Bridgewater suffered its third turnover-on-downs on the next drive, and Abington held the ball for the final two minutes of the first half. Malafronte extended the lead on third play from scrimmage after the break, racing 53 yards for a score. A Fonkem run on the two-point conversion made it 16-0.

Just when it seemed Abington might run away with this one, the Vikings (6-4, 4-2 SSL) put together an impressive nine-play drive that spanned nearly five minutes. Andrew Benson, who finished with 67 yards rushing and another 51 yards passing, scored from three yards out before adding a two-point conversion rush to make it 16-8.

EB forced a quick three-and-out, and took over at their own 24 following a punt.

This time it took 10 plays, but Benson once again plunged in from three yards out. He added another impressive two-point conversion score on a broken play, tying the game with 7:53 remaining.

The tie was short-lived, however, as Abington manufactured a 10-play drive of their own and Malafronte finished it from two yards out with 3:37 left. His rush attempt failed and the Green Wave led 22-16.

East Bridgewater marched down the field again, and an athletic 17-yard scramble by Benson set up a 1st-and-10 at the 11-yard line. Back-to-back false starts moved the Vikings back 10 yards though.

With pressure baring down on him, Benson threw a pass toward that end zone that Abington’s Mike Walsh came down with, ending the drive and comeback bid.

The fourth time EB failed to net points after reaching the end zone doomed them as it came with just 1:05 left on the clock.

“We just made too many mistakes and had too many breakdowns,” East Bridgewater head coach Shawn Tarpey said. “We’ve been talking about execution the last few weeks. Overall we played pretty well, but we didn’t get it done when we needed a big play.”

Fittingly, Malafronte cruised past the first down marker allowing the Green Wave to take a knee and clinch their first SSL crown since 2008.

While Malafronte led the way offensively, his younger brother, Sam, made sure it was family affair on both sides of the ball. He led the Green Wave with six tackles, who also five each from Fonkem and Steve Manning, as well as four from Joe Brady and Jon Aprile in the win.

LYNCH'S FIGHTING CHANCE
Doctors and coaches weren’t sure senior captain Kevin Lynch would be able to suit up again for the Vikings after breaking his arm in their Week 4 loss to Mashpee.

Still, Lynch – a linebacker and running back – planned to be back, and his return to the field during the Abington loss was the brightest spot of the day for East Bridgewater.

“I mentioned it to the team that he was gutsy when he got hurt,” Tarpey said. “He backed that up again tonight. He’s just such a special kid. Six weeks off, and for him to just jump in their like that, I couldn’t be prouder of a kid. What a performance by him.”

The performance included rushing for 130 yards on 20 carries and leading the Vikings on defense while registering a team-high seven tackles.

“He’s just such a good kid,” Tarpey said. “He works so hard across the board – he’s ranked fourth in his class, and was always in the weight room, I’m just so proud of what he did out there tonight.”

Roundtable: X-factors for key league matchups

November, 8, 2012
11/08/12
12:33
AM ET
A number of league championships will be decided this weekend, and with that, we're discussing "X-factors" for each of the most crucial matchups.

NO. 5 WALPOLE (9-0) AT NO. 21 NATICK (8-1)

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: You can pick just about anyone off this elite Rebels’ defense, but let’s go with senior captain and inside linebacker Cam Hanley. He’s been the quarterback to this Walpole defense for a few years now and will be a vital cog plugging the running lanes when Natick quarterback Troy Flutie takes off on the run.

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: When these two teams squared off last season, Walpole went almost exclusively with a three-man front and five in the box. They did just fine, holding the Red Hawks to just 17 yards of offense in the first half, and eked out a 16-13 win on a last-second field goal. I don’t expect much to change this year. Walpole has one of the state’s most aggressive pass rushes, with 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end Chris Collins leading the way, and is a big reason why the Rebels haven’t allowed a point since Sept. 28.

This Natick line has improved since the beginning of the season, but expect their hands to be full. Natick plays an uptempo, hurry-up style aimed at making the defense think fast, but quarterback Troy Flutie is going to have to make quick decisions –- chuck it or tuck it. And with receiver Brian Dunlap expected to draw extra attention, supporting receivers Justin Robinson and Andrew Boynton are going to be crucial.

Adam Kurkjian, ESPN Boston correspondent: This game will come down to whether or not Natick can make enough stops to give its explosive offense a chance in the end. Both of these teams can put up big numbers on the scoreboard, but while Walpole's defense has been equally effective, Natick's was lit up last week against Wellesley and lacks the same amount of playmakers the Rebels have on that side of the ball. The Red Hawks need to make stops early and often or else they can kiss their hopes of a Bay State Herget Division title goodbye.

***

BISHOP FEEHAN (6-2) AT NO. 16 SOMERSET-BERKLEY (9-0)

Barboza: Sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer. I might be going super-safe here, but Garrett Carlos and Mike Garrant have been the key to Somerset-Berkley’s success all season long. If the two-headed backfield is on point on Saturday, the Blue Raiders will be tough to beat.

Hall: There’s nothing fancy about Somerset’s offense -– Garrett Carlos left, Mike Garrant right, vice-versa, fullback dive –- and there are no tricks. With its one-inch splits, the double wing eliminates blitz packages. Stopping the attack requires discipline not to over-pursue, and generally the play is read by following the pulling guards or watching where the quarterback opens his hips, then crashing the other way.

Of course, Feehan knows all this. This is nothing new to the Shamrocks, who sees this attack year in year out, and solved it last season for a 41-7 romp of the Blue Raiders. Somerset is looking like its 2010 dominance, but it is a smaller yet faster unit than that Super Bowl finalist squad which ran behind 320-pound road grader Ian Levesque. Plain and simple, the Feehan defensive line is going to have to get off its blocks -– and do it quickly.

Kurkjian: Bishop Feehan has to force negative plays on early downs and get Somerset's offense off the field. The way Somerset pounds teams on the ground, your defense can be worn out by the time the fourth quarter comes around. The Shamrocks would love to take an early lead and force Somerset out of its comfort zone by going to the air, although it's unlikely to happen unless Somerset is behind my multiple scores in the latter stages of the game.

Josh Perry, Managing Editor, HockomockSports.com: The X-factor between the top two teams in the EAC will be Shamrocks senior quarterback Nick Romero. Both teams are heavily focused on the ground game, but if Feehan can get something going in the passing attack and balance its offense it should provide the edge. Both teams will be crowding the line of scrimmage and bringing numbers up into the box. If Romero can connect with his receivers, even simple screens to Matt Allen and Isiah Douglas, it will give Feehan an edge.

***

NO. 18 KING PHILIP (8-1) AT NO. 24 NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH (6-3)

Barboza: I’m going with go with Sam McDonald, who’s made King Philip’s offense more dynamic in recent weeks. McDonald’s had two-touchdown games in two of the last three weeks, including last week’s win over Oliver Ames, when he hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass from John Dillon and added a spark to the Warriors’ special teams with a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Hall: Joe Johnston gives this King Philip rushing attack its spunk, but it’s going to be his play on defense that is the difference in this one. The Warriors are noted for devising great defensive gameplans, but that was delivered a swift wakeup call in the 46-33 loss to Mansfield. North has some big-play threats, and if KP wants to keep them in check they will have to dictate the pace of this game early.

Kurkjian: A year ago, King Philip held North Attleborough to just seven points. This year, it's the North defense that will need to be up to the task if it wants to take this showdown in the Hock. North can't count on its offense to just outscore King Philip because outside of an uncharacteristic breakdown against Mansfield, the Warriors have been strong on that side of the ball. Lately, North's defense has shown some weakness and it cannot allow more of that because KP is not the type of team that is going to allow the type of Arena League scores that the Red Rocketeers have hund up on teams this year.

Perry: The biggest X-factor in this game will be health. Sean Peters and Alex Jette are back for the Rocketeers, but neither is 100 percent. Jette's hair-line fracture is not fully healed yet and Peters will probably need surgery on his shoulder after the season. Even at only 75 percent, both players have made a significant contribution to the team on the field as well as positively impacting the team's attitude and confidence. Meanwhile, KP are a little banged up after fullback/linebacker Ryan Dunn went down with an arm injury in last week's rout of Oliver Ames. Dunn left the field with his arm in a sling and he would be a huge loss for the Warriors if he can't play. He is the lead blocker for Joe Johnston, a good inside option in the power running game, and is one of KP's best defensive players against the run.

***

NO. 17 NAUSET (9-0) AT PLYMOUTH SOUTH (6-3)

Barboza: Dylan Oxsen obviously is having a historic season for the Panthers with 28 touchdowns to date, but Harrison Holbrook and Devin Guadagno have also been intergral to Plymouth South’s success. Now, we’ll see if they can run together to a Atlantic Coast League title.

Hall: South’s Dylan Oxsen is as hard-charging as they come -– you don’t tip-toe your way to 28 touchdowns -– running behind some quick pulling linemen. For that, I think the key to this game will if Nauset’s two-way lineman Dakota Girard can get off his blocks and create some havoc at the point of attack. The Brown University-bound senior is one of the biggest reasons the Warriors are having their best season in school history.

Kurkjian: Nauset needs to be able to slow down Dylan Oxsen enough to force Plymouth South to beat it in other ways. Oxsen has put up monster numbers this season and his team is on a major roll right now. If Nauset is somehow able to limit his yards and force the Plymouth South offense to go elsewhere, it could be the key in this pivotal Atlantic Coast League game.

***

NO. 11 BEVERLY (9-0) AT MARBLEHEAD (8-1)

Barboza: Pick your poison with the Panthers’ backfield, right? So I’m going to go with the Magicians’ defense, in particular their defensive line of Rajive Alcindor, Trever Gelineau and Kyle McCormack. They’ll have their hands full with the Panthers’ athletic offensive line and will have to play their responsibilities if Marblehead is to have any hope of slowing Beverly’s stable of backs and a chance at victory.

Hall: Fitting that Marblehead goes by the Magicians, because their front seven is going to have to turn in some majestic play to keep this one close. The evolution of the spread has yielded video game-like stats for high school teams across Massachusetts, but what should scare you about the Panthers’ average of 38 points per game is that they’re doing it heavy on the run with a Wing-T offense. My advice: shoot the guards up the A-gaps, get upfield and hope for the best.

Kurkjian: The Magicians will be heavy underdogs in this game and the key for them to pull the upset is to make Beverly play a four-quarter game. Most of the opponents on the Panthers' schedule have fallen behind by so much that the fourth quarter is usually a JV contest. The Panthers have not trailed much at all this season and a second-half lead or a one-score game in the fourth quarter would give Marblehead a major advantage because they've been in more close games this season.

***

NO. 23 ABINGTON (9-0) AT EAST BRIDGEWATER (6-3)

Barboza: We all know the big-play ability Babila Fonkem brings for Abington, but the Green Wave is very much a three-headed monster. And the straws that stir the Green Wave’s drink are a dangerous duo in Brian Kilmain and Jack Malafronte.

Hall: Abington goes in as the favorites, but they’re going to have to stop East Bridgewater’s option game. Andrew Benson is a run-first quarterback who can keep the sticks moving if you give him the edge. The Green Wave are going to have to contain the outside gaps and funnel things through the middle of the field.

Kurkjian: The Vikings will come into this one as underdogs and deservedly so because Abington has been so solid all season. However, an upset is not out of the question and the way that East Bridgewater can do it is by jumping out to an early lead and keeping the game close heading into the fourth quarter. Abington has not played a close game since September and since so much is expected of this team, all the pressure will be on the Green Wave in a hostile environment. The Vikings need to maintain that pressure and see if it can have a negative impact on the visitors.

***

FRANKLIN (7-2) AT MANSFIELD (6-3)

Barboza: Junior linebacker Alex Ruddy has taken a big step forward for the Hornets this season and leads the team in tackles with 62 (35 solo) through nine weeks. He’ll be key to slowing the Panthers’ potent offense.

Hall: We’ve mentioned before about this Mansfield offense’s ability to reel off scores in bunches, and we saw that a few weeks ago in the Hornets’ 46-33 win over King Philip. It was vintage Mansfield, rushing for over 360 yards as a team. For all the talk we’ve made of the Hornets opening up the passing playbook the last few years, they can still run the ball downhill efficiently. We know Franklin can hang with them in the air, but can they stop the run?

Kurkjian: Both of these teams have proven to be solid when they choose to go to the air. The winner of this game will likely be the one who can also get its ground game going to complement that aerial attack. A lot of these Hockomock battles lately have been very high scoring and this one could be as well, but if someone can find a rhythm running the ball it could be the difference.

Perry: Mike Carden could be the deciding factor in a game that will be Franklin's first of two straight title deciding games (they play King Philip on Thanksgiving). The Panthers' kicker is considered a D1-caliber talent by head coach Brad Sidwell and won the game against Attleboro a couple of weeks ago with a 41-yard kick. In fact, he had a 48-yard attempt against Taunton that would have kept the Panthers perfect but it fell inches short. A solid kicking game is a rare luxury at this level and it could provide the edge in a tight game.

***

BOSTON CATHEDRAL (7-2) AT POPE JOHN XXIII (5-4)

Barboza: Mike Sullivan’s done a fine job all season taking over for Robert McMaster at quarterback for Pope John all season. For Pope John to knock off Cathedral, he’ll need to be at his best again.

Hall: Pope John is going to need to find a way to neutralize Kadeem Edge. The 6-foot-4 Cathedral receiver is a matchup problem for most small-school squads, able to win jump-balls as well as accelerate quickly in space. Also look for several Cathedral defenders to have big roles in this one, namely Cameron Seemore, Derek Welcome and Mohammed Braimah.

Kurkjian: Cathedral quarterback Kejonte Hickman has not played like a sophomore in guiding this team to where it wants to be heading into the end of the season. For Pope John to win this game, it has to force him into the types of mistakes and bad decisions that sophomores tend to make. Cathedral's offense can be brutal to defend with the number of speedy athletes it gets into space, but a disruptive defense that hassles the quarterback into bad decisions is a nice way of messing up its timing.

Recap: No. 25 Abington 34, Mashpee 7

October, 21, 2012
10/21/12
12:42
AM ET


ABINGTON, Mass. –- In a matchup that was heralded to be a clash of the South Shore titans, the Green Wave crashed the Falcons’ chance to make it a joust early on, finishing with a final score of 34-7, the sole Mashpee score coming with less than two minutes to go in the match.

“I thought tonight’s defensive pressure was the best we had all year,” said Abington coach Jim Kelliher.

“I thought our defense picked up our intensity three-fold...The bad thing about that is that we’ll expect that for the next game and the next three games after that,” added Kelliher.

After winning the coin toss and getting a break on a short kick and penalty on Abington (7-0, 4-0 South Shore), Mashpee (4-3, 3-1) started from the Abington 42, but on the second play from scrimmage, a bad exchange led to a fumble which was covered by Abington’s Pat Dwyer at the Abington 44. Taking nearly four minutes to march 56 yards, Abington passed once, a 30-yard hookup from Brandon Cawley to Joe Buckley. The final play of the drive was a 2-yard bullying from Babila Fonkem with 5:26 left in the first quarter.

“I know that they’re (linemen) fighting hard so I just try to fight hard every time I get the ball,” said Fonkem. “They get me the initial yard so I just try to get what I can every time.”

Abington’s David Manzo recovered the kickoff after a fumble by Mashpee on its own 33. A flea flicker to Tim Ferguson became Ferguson’s first career touchdown for the Green Wave, with just 18 seconds ticked off the clock since first score.

The Falcons got good field position on the ensuing kickoff, but turned the ball over with 1:28 left in the quarter, producing only 2 plays with positive yardage on the drive. Abington slow-danced for the next seven minutes, driving 77 yards with only two passes -– the second a five-yard touchdown pass pulled in by Buckley over a Falcon defensive back.

“Nothing better than getting a pass from this kid,” Ferguson relayed motioning with his body towards Cawley. “You just got to go up and get it.”

Mashpee’s next possession lasted nearly three minutes and ended with a punt that was deflected by Manzo, going only 29 yards. Abington put on a two-minute drill, ending with Ferguson’s second TD of the game, a catch in the middle of the field and a foot race to the left pylon. He won, and made the game 26-0, where the score stood until Buckley made the final Abington score of the evening -- a 12-yard pass from Cawley with 5:25 left in the third.

Mashpee looked like they were making a march on the goal line late in the third, but a Ferguson interception at the two thwarted that effort, although Cody Bingham-Hendricks finally scatted 24 yards in the waning minutes to avoid the haunting of a scoreless game that he and his compatriots were favored to win based on previously defeated team’s schedules.

More Than a Game: With her sizeable winning from tonight’s 50/50 raffle, Suzanne Djusberg decided to divvy up her winnings between the Green Wave Booster Club and Abington assistant coach Matt Chirokas.

Chirokas, who suffers from leukemia, was released from the hospital just hours before kickoff; yet, he donned his surgical mask behind the end zone to watch his players, where he also participated under Kelliher’s tutelage. After the game was over, the Green Wave waded over to Chirokas and chanted around him.

“For this being the first game he actually attends [this year], I think it’s very fitting that we take control in first place of the league by ourselves,” said fullback and senior captain Jack Malafronte.

For the field to be in the condition that it was in today (playable), numerous folks from Abington came down to the Frolio Middle School field to ensure player safety.

“Over the past couple of days, people from the community came down to set the tarps up [on the field] and this morning they took them off. It’s just people like that make this football program great,” added Cawley.

ABINGTON 34, MASHPEE 7

MHS 0 0 0 7 --- 7
AHS 14 12 8 0 --- 34


First Quarter
A – Babila Fonkem 2 run (Joe Buckley pass from Tom Dwyer)
A – Tim Ferguson 33 pass from Brandon Cawley (Rush failed)

Second Quarter
A – Joe Buckley 5 pass from Cawley (Pass failed)
A – Ferguson 29 pass from Cawley (Rush failed)

Third Quarter
A – Buckley 12 pass from Cawley (Cawley rush)

Fourth Quarter
M – Cody Bingham-Hendricks 24 run (Chris Costa kick)

ESPN Boston Week 7 football picks

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
1:28
AM ET
FRIDAY
NO. 23 NEEDHAM (5-1) AT NO. 6 WALPOLE (6-0)
The Skinny: The Rockets received some help in the Bay State Carey race from Natick last week when the Red Hawks came away with a win at Weymouth. However, Needham will need to capitalize on that break with a win over the Herget’s other undefeated entrant. Rockets running back Mike Panepinto continues to be one of the great breakout stories on the year while the Rebels will need to shuffle the deck a little with the loss of Mike Rando, who’ll be out several weeks with an ankle injury. Of course, the Rebels counter with one of the more consistent and underrated linebacker units in the state, led by Cam Hanley and Steve Thulin.

Scott Barboza: Even sans Rando, the Rebels still have enough horses in the barn. Walpole, 26-21.

Hall: Losing Mike Rando, for however long a period of time, hurts. But this Rebels defense is still talented enough to get the job done and slow down Team Panepinto. Walpole, 20-7.

NO. 11 KING PHILIP (6-0) AT MANSFIELD (4-2)
The Skinny: This much anticipated Kelley-Rex matchup features one of the state’s premier defenses against a recharged Hornets offense. Brett McEvoy anchors the Warriors defense, which has surrendered just six points a game through the first six weeks, along with Joe Johnston. Kyle Wisnieski has held down the quarterback position admirably in his first year as starter, but hasn’t stared into a defense quite like that of the Warriors. If he has time to throw, Mike Hershman and Brendan Hill provide big-time targets. Let’s not forget that last year’s installment of this battle was the coming out party of KP quarterback John Dillon, who nearly lifted the Warriors to victory in a second-half comeback bid.

Barboza: Defense wins in big games, right? It’s been a while that the Warriors last had Mansfield’s number, but this is the year. KP, 20-14.

Hall: Can't have any pudding if you don't eat your meat. Mansfield, 24-21.

Wakefield (6-0) at Burlington (5-1)
The Skinny: Depending on how Stoneham does this weekend, this one's for at least a share, possibly sole possession of the Middlesex League's Freedom Division (can we just call it Small to alleviate any confusion?). Burlington has had some injuries, but still boast the league's top rushing attack led by Marcus Odiah and Anthony Cruz. They'll meet a Wakefield defense that features a number of playmakers and hasn't allowed a point in 11 quarters. With Dan Cardillo (ankle) gone, there's no real superstar for Wakefield -- but sophomore receiver Bruce Brown will be one to watch, coming off a 124-yard performance last week in a shutout of Wilmington.

Barboza: I’m calling this a split decision. My fan section vote goes to the Red Sea. But the action on the field is dictated differently. Burlington, 8-6.

Hall: This one will be close, and the Warriors might not solve Burlington's rushing attack, but they'll make a big stop late. Wakefield, 17-10.

Mashpee (4-2) at No. 25 Abington (6-0)
The Skinny: This is a battle for sole possession of first place in the South Shore League, with both teams sitting tied atop the league standings at 3-0. The undefeated Green Wave have been getting some terrific defense all season, and feature one of the more unheralded versatile athletes in senior Babila Fonkem. Mashpee stumbled out of the gates, with losses to Nauset and Austin Prep in the first month, but has rebounded with a three-game win streak. Leading the attack have been running backs Malik Lee and Jared Taylor, as well as emerging quarterback Cody Bingham-Hendricks.

Barboza: Fonkem provides the highlight reel plays running and on special teams, but Brian Kilmain and Jack Malafronte give the Green Wave balance. They’re the difference. Abington, 28-20.

Hall: For the first time in three years, I managed to get through our picks on video and our podcast without mentioning my parents are Abington High Class of '79 (self high-five, folks). Don't get it twisted, though, that has nothing to do with why I've soured on Mashpee since the preseason. Abington, 28-17.

NO. 2 EVERETT (5-1) AT BC HIGH (2-3)
The Skinny: The Eagles are finally starting to heal, with starting quarterback Brendan Craven seeing action last week against Marlborough and running back Brandon Owens getting back into the mix. While they’re still missing a couple key cogs on defense, Owens will help bolster BC High’s run defense against Everett’s double-wing-based ground attack. The Crimson Tide also have been nursing some injuries in recent weeks, but Jalen Felix returned for last week’s game at Xaverian and Jakarrie Washington ran for three scores. Gilly De Souza, the glue that holds Everett’s secondary together, continues playing with an ankle injury and didn’t see the offensive side of the ball last week, but he’s remained rock steady (as he has since freshman year) in the kicking game.

Barboza: BC High is pumped and ready for this one, but De Souza provides the game-winning boot late. Everett, 17-14.

Hall: Won't be fooled again. Everett, 24-10.

SATURDAY
XAVERIAN (1-5) AT NO. 21 BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM (3-3)
The Skinny: This one has the potential to please fans of power football. The Hawks could go heavy in the backfield with Hunter Taute with Mike Brennan doubtful for this weekend’s game after a late injury in last week’s loss to Everett. Or, the Hawks could air it out behind Austin DeCarr whose hit on touchdown passes of 30-plus yards in each of the last two weeks. The Trojans will look to pound the ball behind breakout sophomore running back Brandon Gallagher and a physical offensive line anchored by Joe MacInnis. Senior quarterback Jordan Cohen also gives B-R the opportunity to strike downfield while rolling out of the pocket.

Barboza: I went with the Hawks last week and promptly was served some humble pie by Everett’s offensive line postgame. I’m sticking with my gut this week. Trojans have controlled this matchup in the last two seasons. B-R, 21-17.

Hall: Historically when the game slows to a ground-and-pound stalemate, the odds favor the Trojans. B-R, 20-10.

No. 18 Leominster (4-2) at No. 20 St. John's of Shrewsbury (4-2)
The Skinny: Back at the start of the season, we pegged this as must-see action to circle on one's calendar. It's still one of the games of the year in Central Mass., and we could even see a rematch come playoff time, but let the facts stand. Leominster and St. John's quickly fell from the Top 10 in the last several weeks; Leominster looked shaky in an upset loss to Wachusett and win over Algonquin, while St. John's has surrendered 100 points total in the last two games.

Barboza: That Pioneers defense tightens some, but just not quite enough to stop the Blue Devils. Leominster, 34-28.

Hall: If there's anything we've learned in the last two weeks, it's that if you can run on St. John's, you can go all Barry Switzer and "hang half a hundred on 'em". Leominster, 40-35.

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