Boston High School: Jake Burt

Recap: No. 3 St. John's Prep 33, BC High 14

October, 18, 2014
Oct 18

DANVERS, Mass. – The raucous environment surrounding Cronin Stadium in the lead up to Homecoming Day at St. John’s Prep did little to translate to the Eagles’ start on the field. In Saturday’s battle with BC High, No. 3 Prep came out a little flat, allowing its Catholic Conference rival to claim an early lead. BC High also took a 14-10 lead to the half as well.

The second half was a different matter, as Prep scored 23 unanswered points during the final two quarters to capture a 33-14 win.

“We had a little bit of a slow start, but we came out flying in the second half,” Prep senior quarterback Ollie Eberth said. “Our offense started clicking. We changed up a few blocking assignments and our receivers came up big making plays. Cody Harwood and [Dillon] Preston, you can’t say much more about them. They’re bouncing off tackles left and right.”

The host Eagles (6-1, 3-0 Catholic Conf.) displayed a balanced offense, with Ebert throwing for 128 yards and three touchdowns on 11 of 16 passing, while senior running back Cody Harwood used 21 carries to run for 129 yards.

Prep’s defense was a major factor in building the second-half lead. It tallied eight points, forcing a safety before Owen Rockett’s 84-yard interception return for a touchdown.

“Our defense really stood up in the second half,” Prep head coach Brian St. Pierre said. “They played a great game. There were a couple turns of momentum, that’s when we kind of started to take over the game.”

BC High (3-3, 1-1) drew first blood on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Sean Holleran (6 of 8, 87 yards) to Nick Gill (4 catches, 74 yards). It was the first of two first-half scoring plays for the duo, which also lifted BC High to a 14-10 lead at the half.

Prep tied the game, 7-7, on Eberth’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Jake Burt, before a Justin Foley 33-yard field goal with 27 seconds remaining in the second quarter. BC High sophomore Connor Cady returned the ensuing kickoff 79 yards to give his team on last crack at the end zone before the half.

On the next play, Holleran hit Gill on a fade for an 11-yard touchdown in the final seconds.

That’s when St. Pierre reminded his team of what was ahead of them in the second half.

“He made a point to us that we were playing flat, and that’s not the way that we play the game,” Harwood said. “He just made it a point that we had to leave everything on the field for the next 24 minutes.”

Prep entered the third quarter reinvigorated, as Eberth led a 7-play, 75-yard drive to start the half, capped by 36-yard throw to James DiBenedetto.

Eberth had his third scoring pass of the game on Prep’s next possession, hitting Rockett on a 4-yard play on the first play of the fourth quarter.

On BC High’s ensuing possession, backed up in its own end at the 4-yard line, Prep defensive lineman Hunter Brown made a tackle in the end zone for a safety and a 26-14 lead.

Miscues would again haunt BC High when Rockett turned in his second touchdown of the game, turning an interception into an 84-yard return for a touchdown.

“When you get a couple of turnovers like that, that really changes the complexion of the game,” St. Pierre said.

Next man up: Rockett has been a steady contributor to Prep’s aerial attack throughout the season. But even as the two-way starter was hobbled while being tackled on a jet sweep in the first quarter, Eberth still have plenty of weapons at his command.

“It was great, Owen goes down for a series or two and we don’t even blink,” Eberth said. James [DiBenedetto], we have great trust in. He’s got great size and great speed. And I throw it up, he pulls a little Megatron and brings it down. And Michael Calascibetta was making plays. The depth is great. When one guy goes down, we have a substitute right there.”

Of course, Eberth also has a security blanket of sorts in Jake Burt. Despite facing consistent double-teams and bracketed coverage throughout the year, the Boston College-bound tight end has remained undaunted.

“He’s a mismatch every week and you have to account for that,” St. Pierre said. “They did a great job defensively, but we just kept plugging away. We just kept doing our stuff and we believe in our system and our guys.”

Rockett returned to the game after a couple of missed series, and he left his imprint with both an offensive and a defensive touchdown. It’s something the Eagles have come to rely on.

Just as Harwood has contributed in the ground game as well. The stout running back is a burden to tackle and has made it habit of turning in 100-yard rushing performances this year.

“Everybody knows what kind of guy he is,” St. Pierre said. “Owen [Rockett] and Jake [Burt] get a lot of the headlines and [Eberth] get a lot of the headlines – and rightfully so – but I’ll take Cody on my team any day. He knows that. He’s so tough. He plays the game the right way.”

Telestrator: Inside BC High vs. St. John's Prep

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
DANVERS, Mass. -- This week's ESPN Boston Game of the Week takes us to Danvers, where No. 3 St. John's Prep is hosting fierce Catholic Conference rival Boston College High.

ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall and correspondent Mike Uva take a look further inside the key matchups for each team:

(Video by Greg Story)

The Telestrator - BC High vs. St. John's Prep from ESPN Boston on Vimeo.

DANVERS, Mass. – From an outsider’s perspective, things can’t be much better than they’ve been at the start for No. 8 St. John’s Prep.

The Eagles have now collected three straight wins against Top 10-ranked opponents to start the season, following Saturday’s 27-12 win over defending Division 1 state champion No. 2 Central Catholic.

But Eagles first-year head coach Brian St. Pierre sees it a little differently.

“We’ve majored in making it difficult,” the Prep alum said after his team’s home opener.

After a relatively lackluster first half, the second half provided crescendos and dips in momentum in just about each play.

The Eagles (3-0) defense was the fulcrum for the victory, forcing five Central turnovers in the second half, including three interceptions.

“We were giving up yards early, but they just kept playing and they kept getting the ball for us,” St. Pierre said of his defense.

After Prep tallied the first score of the game on a 74-yard touchdown run by Cody Harwood (14 carries, 149 yards), the Raiders (2-1) responded before the first half was out with a resounding 10-play, 63-yard drive. Michael Milano hit Steven Jackson on an inside slant for a 6-yard touchdown with 13 seconds to play in the half.

Central parlayed the offensive momentum into their opening possession of the second half. Milano (14 of 26, 158 yards; 12 carries, 83 yards) willed the Raiders downfield with several well-executed inside draw plays, including a 32-yard touchdown run with 7:54 remaining in the third. A botched snap on the ensuing two-point attempt kept the Raiders’ lead at 12-7.

After going three-and-out on its ensuing possession, Prep leaned on its defense to get the ball back and, perhaps, reignite the offense.

Sophomore corner Hayden Rockett undercut a route for the first of four Eagles’ picks in the second half with 4:48 to play in the third. Two plays later, Prep regained the lead on Oliver Eberth’s 11-yard out to tight end Jake Burt. Another failed two-point conversion kept the Eagles’ lead at a single point.

Eagles senior safety Art Churchwell provided the next spark, pocketing his first of two takeaways in the game. Churchwell’s interception set up another Prep touchdown drive, coming on another Eberth touchdown pass to Owen Rockett – this time from 57 yards out – for a 20-12 lead at 10:47 of the fourth quarter.

Churchwell was at it again on the next Central possession, recovering a fumble.

While the Eagles were unable to cash on their third straight takeaway, they’d soon have the ball back again with 6:35 remaining in the game on a John Churchwell interception. Prep then salted away any Central comeback bid with a plodding 10-play drive (with a punt and another fumble recovery mixed in the middle), capped with Harwood’s second touchdown run of the day from 22 yards out.

“I think that was one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever coached in because the turnovers just killed us,” Central head coach Chuck Adamopoulos said.

Fearsome twosome: When Eberth transferred to St. John’s Prep, he inherited a pretty good surrounding cast. The Eagles offensive line has been steady throughout the early season in both pass protection and in run support. Harwood has continued producing.

And, of course, there are his top targets: wide receiver Owen Rockett and tight end Jake Burt.

“It’s amazing, defenses are playing us to pass. They’re playing our guys Owen [Rockett] and Jake Burt right now,” St. Pierre said. “They’re putting guys on them, they’re accounting for them, so we’re picking our spots.”

The combination has pushed opposing defenses to pick their poison. In the early going, both Bridgewater-Raynham and Brockton chose to key on Burt – the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Boston College commit. That’s translated to fewer pass targets for Burt – who’s receiving bracketed coverage for the most part – but great opportunity for Rockett to work in space, both underneath and on intermediate and long routes along the boundary.

“Teams key on [Burt], so that opens things up for other players – Rockett, Michael Calascibetta and James DiBenedetto,” Eberth said. “[On the touchdown] and on that fourth down, he’s old reliable. He can go up and get the ball, he can go down and get the ball. He can do anything.”

On Saturday, Prep fans saw perhaps the most balanced offensive attack the Eagles have shown to date. Eberth was more than efficient, completing 8 of 14 for 114 yards. Rockett and Burt had balls delegated to them with balance, with the wideout and tight end hauling in four catches for 84 yards and three catches for 29 yards, respectively.

“The last few weeks I think they’ve game-planned for me a little more, drawing a little extra attention to me,” Burt said. “And then Cody Harwood has stepped up and made plays.”

But what Burt adds to Prep's offense is more than just a big target.

"What goes maybe not seen [but] is obvious is what he does for us in the run game," St. Pierre said. "There’s not a better tight end blocking in the run game in Massachusetts, hands down. He does a tremendous job for us. He is just a great player. He’s very unselfish, does what the team asks him to do. People are keying him – and they should, he’s a very good player."

Harwood once again eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark as well, creating further balance in St. Pierre’s offense.

It’s a question that opposing defensive coordinators will have to consider as the Eagles go screaming toward a playoff berth.

It’s also something that Central, at least on Saturday, couldn’t overcome.

“What’s hard this year is because of the inexperience in our secondary with two new starters it makes it hard for us to just take one guy and put him on someone,” Adamopoulos said. “Last year, we could do something like that, but I think that’s harder this year.”

For Prep's Rockett, a pleasant evolution

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
DANVERS, Mass. -– The play called for Owen Rockett to run a "go" route, his favorite pattern, and instantly his eyes widened.

Then, the St. John’s Prep receiver read man coverage from the Central Catholic defense, with no safety help. And when you see that, as the senior explains it, "That’s when you start licking your chops."

[+] EnlargeOwen Rockett
Brendan Hall/ESPNSt. John's Prep receiver Owen Rockett (4 catches, 83 yards, TD) has emerged as the Eagles' most dangerous scoring threat.
Rockett came across the face of his defender playing off the line of scrimmage, spun 180 degrees and backpedaled as he hauled in Ollie Eberth’s high-arching pass some 25 yards downfield. Then he spun back around, planted his outside foot, cut across his defender’s face, then did it once more to the another defender for good measure, sprinting out the last 25 yards for the 57-yard touchdown and back-breaking 20-12 lead over the No. 2 Raiders with 10 minutes to go.

Just like he drew up countless times this summer with his father, on the turf at Marblehead Middle School.

"I don’t really do any drills or anything, I just run routes," Rockett, a Marblehead resident, said. "In a game situation, you’re not gonna be running ladders."

On the day, Rockett finished with four catches for 84 yards and a score as the Eagles knocked off their third straight Top 10 team in as many weeks, an unprecedented start even by Prep standards.

A year ago, he was just working his way into the lineup, his first year at the wide receiver position after showing some sure-handed promise during 7-on-7 season. There were flashes of brilliance, but often they were sandwiched with inconsistency.

After a rugged offseason out on the field, Rockett is playing with a lot more confidence in 2014. One of the most eye-opening plays of the season’s opening weekend was at Bridgewater-Raynham, when Rockett snared a dangerous swing pass in the flat and evaded three Trojans defenders up the sideline for a 35-yard catch-and-run TD. These types of plays are becoming more of the routine than the exception.

"My biggest problem last year was overthinking, so I’m trying to simplify, have trust in myself and Ollie," Rockett said. "Ollie’s been outstanding, and Coach Saint [head coach Brian St. Pierre] has given us a great platform, obviously. Everything is just set up well."

Prep tight end Jake Burt, a burly Boston College commit, calls Rockett "the best route runner I’ve ever seen."

"He’s got really strong hands," Burt said. "It just makes it easy for me when I’m lined up on his side, because they should be paying attention to him –- not me. He’s the better pass catcher.

"He’s got great footwork. His deception in and out of routes...I mean, our corners never know what to do in practice, and you can see that in the game, they don’t know what to do either."

By disentangling the clutter, and broadening his muscle memory, Rockett has become Prep’s go-to threat in the crunch. St. Pierre chalked up the maturity to a natural procession from fitting into a new position.

"Any time you’re learning a new position, it takes a while. But he’s so athletic, and so smooth," St. Pierre said. "He’s a great kid to coach, and like a lot of our guys he works hard. He applies his trade during the week and shows up ready to go."

But at a pedestrian 5-foot-10 and 184 pounds, a player of his stature is often type-cast as a "slot" receiver, running short routes along the perimeter designed to get him in space with a full head of steam. Rockett wants you to know it’s not that simple.

"The eight [post] or nine [fade], anything going deep, if we’ve got time, I love it. One-on-one, nothing better," he said. "The biggest thing about a receiver, if you can’t get anything inside, try and break it deep and over the top."

Continuity comes full circle for Burt, St. Pierre

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
DANVERS, Mass. -– For most high school football programs, hiring a new head coach and replacing all but three offensive starters would mark the beginning of a transitional year, but St. John’s Prep is no ordinary program.

Since 1967, the Eagles have won four state championships and 14 Catholic Conference titles under the tenure of just two head coaches. So when Jim O’Leary, who took over coaching duties for Fred Glatz in 1984, retired this winter, he says he was thrilled to be replaced by Prep alum Brian St. Pierre.

“I’m really pleased we found one of our guys,” said O’Leary, who is now solely the school’s Athletic Director. “[Brian’s] philosophy is very close to mine, and the entire staff is back from last year, so it’s not as big of a transition as compared to how it be in other places.”

St. Pierre wasn’t just a student at Prep. He was on the sidelines from the time he could walk, accompanying his father, who spent some 38 years as the football team’s physician.

After an impressive career as the Eagles' quarterback, St. Pierre played at Boston College before getting drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2003 NFL Draft. He spent eight years in the NFL, but came back to his high school alma mater every offseason to work out.

It was during one of those throwing sessions that St. Pierre first met standout tight end Jake Burt, who was just a freshman at the time. Now a senior that has verbally committed to Boston College next year, Burt says that St. Pierre was an invaluable resource throughout the recruiting process.

“I would go and meet with him about all the different colleges, and it was great because he went through the same process. He was able to give me great advice. He told me not to rush anything, and I was able to make the best decision for me.”

Like St. Pierre, Burt has been around campus since he was a kid, and says that he began using the field to practice when his oldest brother enrolled at Prep in 2007. He’s one of four siblings that have graduated, or are currently attending the all-boys school, and has been an integral part of the football team since he joined the varsity squad as a fullback and special teamer during his sophomore year.

“My family’s been around here for a long time,” Burt said during the break between practices this Thursday. “And it helps being familiar with the program. There were a lot of things going on this offseason, so having someone who is also familiar with program in coach St. Pierre come on board has definitely made the transition smoother.”

Last year, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end hauled in 28 balls for 367 yards as a featured part of the Eagles offense. Now Burt will play alongside a primarily new offensive line, and catch passes from a new quarterback, as senior A.J. Carrigan competes with junior transfer Oliver Eberth for the starting job.

The two signal callers were able to build a rapport with Burt as St. John’s won the Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 North Sectional tournament this July. Eberth and Carrigan split reps during the tournament, and while they both targeted senior wideouts Owen Rockett and James DiBenedetto often, they were effusive in their praise of Burt.

“Jake’s the guy you want on your team,” Carrigan said. “He can do it all. He blocks well, he’s got great hands, he’s got speed, he’s just the all around package that you’re looking for as a quarterback because you can always trust he’s going to make a play.”

Since Burt is an experienced player that was a part of the 2012 Super Bowl winning team at Prep, his coach is holding him to a high standard as a senior.

“I just want him to take on a leadership role, and he’s already started to do that. I don’t worry about Jake, but I want him to raise the performance of the guys around him,” said St. Pierre.

Whichever QB starts this year will be grateful to have a dependable target like Burt, because four of the top 10 teams in our statewide preseason polls are on the Eagles’ schedule. They’ll open 2014 the season with games against No. 6 Bridgewater-Raynham, No. 9 Brockton, No. 2 Central Catholic, and No. 3 Everett during the month of September, and it doesn’t get much easier after that.

“Our schedule is brutal,” St. Pierre said before a practice, “but that’s why I came to this school as a football player, that’s why these kids come here, and that’s why I wanted to coach here. There are no easy weeks. Every week’s a playoff game and that’s part of the allure of coming here. It’s certainly going to be a challenge, and we’re looking forward to it.”

Regardless of the results, St. Pierre says he’s glad to be back at St. John’s Prep. “I had opportunities to coach at the college or NFL level, and could’ve gone that route, but this just felt right. I had a great experience here, and this place has always felt like home to me, so it’s just a natural fit.”
ESPN's Scouts Inc. division has completed its evaluations and rankings for the top high school players in the 2015 class for Massachusetts. While there are no four-star recruits in this year's class, there are certainly some intriguing picks.

Milton Academy kicker Justin Yoon is ranked as the top overall player in Massachusetts, with grades of 78 and three stars. This is the first time a kicker has ever top ESPN's player rankings in Massachusetts. With range up to 60 yards and a hang-time as much as 4.4 seconds, Yoon is considered by most scouting services as one of the nation's top kickers. Scouts Inc. regards Yoon, a Notre Dame commit, as the best at his position in the nation.

Once again, Boston College has cleaned up locally. Of the top 10 recruits in Massachusetts, seven are currently committed to the Eagles. Syracuse, UConn, UMass and Northwestern also have commitments represented in the rankings.

To see the complete rankings, CLICK HERE.

Here is the current Top 10 for Massachusetts:

1. Justin Yoon | Milton Academy | K | 78 | Notre Dame
2. Aaron Monteiro | Brockton | OG | 75 | Boston College
3. Davon Jones | St. John's | S | 74 | Boston College
4. Lukas Denis | Everett | CB | 74 | Boston College
5. Joe Gaziano | Xaverian | DE | 74 | Northwestern
6. Shyheim Cullen | Lowell | OLB | 73 | Syracuse
7. Chris Garrison | Lawrence Academy | TE | 73 | Boston College
8. Chris Lindstrom | Shepherd Hill | OG | 72 | Boston College
9. Jake Burt | St. John's Prep | TE | 71 | Boston College
10. Taj-Amir Torres | Amherst | ATH | 70 | Boston College

Northeast 7v7: Prep claims North title

July, 19, 2014
Jul 19
EXETER, N.H. -- James DiBenedetto had a hard time getting on the field when the St. John’s Prep football team had the ball last season. It’s unlikely the same will be true this fall.

DiBenedetto, a 6-foot-4 wide receiver, caught a touchdown pass and another pass for a two-point conversion to help St. John’s Prep defeat Tewksbury 16-8 to win the Under Armour 7-on-7 tournament’s North Regional on Saturday.

“We still have a strong running team here, but coach (Brian) St. Pierre likes to throw the ball,” DiBenedetto said. “As you can see, we’re a pretty strong with passing. It’s good to win this. This really shows how much chemistry the team has.”

DiBenedetto, who will be a senior this season, is a Topsfield resident who played primarily safety and outside linebacker last season.

“It was hard to find an offensive position for him last year,” said Mike O’Leary (son of former St. John’s Prep coach Jim O’Leary), who coached the Eagles in the 7-on-7 event. “There was a senior at the X (wide receiver) last year, so he was all over the map (on defense). This year he’s moving to the offensive side of the ball.”

DiBenedetto was part of a deep group of receivers that seemed to separate St. John’s Prep from most of the competition Saturday. That group included 6-foot-4 tight end Jake Burt, wide receiver Michael Calascibetta and wide receiver Owen Rockett. Burt also caught a TD pass against Tewksbury. Rockett capped the scoring with a two-point-conversion catch.

Calascibetta is known as “Gloves” because he once was the only player to wear gloves to a quarterback/receiver camp. Burt, a Lynnfield resident, committed to Boston College in April. He said Virginia and Harvard were also in the picture when he chose BC.

“I wanted to play a higher level of football than the Ivy League, so BC was everything I wanted in a school,” Burt said. “It’s always good to start off the season with a win, no matter what kind of football it is. It’s still football.”

St. John’s Prep, which used both A.J. Carrigan and Oliver Eberth at quarterback, also won the North Regional last year, when the Eagles went on to win the tournament championship. Carrigan was with St. John’s Prep last season. Eberth is a transfer from Andover.

St. John’s Prep went 3-1 in pool play, and then won single-elimination games against Marshwood (South Berwick, Maine), Danvers and York, Maine, to reach the championship game. The tournament featured 40 teams.

“Our quarterback play was good,” O’Leary said. “They did just what we asked them to do. Between James and Jake, those are two very tall, tall kids. Very tough to cover for small corners out there.”

Championship bound: By reaching the North Regional’s championship game, St. John’s Prep and Tewksbury each advanced to the New England championship, which will be held July 30 at Bishop Fenwick High School (4 p.m.).

The New England championship will feature 10 teams: the finalists from each of the three regionals, plus four wildcard teams. The South Regional will be held today at Oliver Ames High School in North Easton, and the East Regional will be July 26 at Bishop Fenwick.

Jaguars make strong statement: Windham (N.H.) handed St. John’s Prep its only loss. The Jaguars were led by 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback Brendan McInnis, who will be one of the top QBs in New Hampshire next season.

Dartmouth, Brown, Merrimack College, Holy Cross and the University of New Hampshire are among the schools that have shown interest in McInnis.

“Dartmouth has emerged as the frontrunner,” McInnis said. “Right now I’m focused on getting to UNH (the site of New Hampshire’s state championship games), then I’ll try to make a decision.”

Windham won its first five games before it lost to Tewksbury in the quarterfinals.

New digs, same success: Former Longmeadow coach Alex Rotsko led Marshwood to a 4-0 record in pool play, but the Hawks were eliminated by St. John’s Prep in the Round of 16.

Longmeadow had a 184-38 record in Rotsko’s 19 seasons as head coach. He guided Longmeadow to 15 consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

“You get a lot of work on both sides of the ball,” Rotsko said when he was asked about the value on 7-on-7 events. “This is a great opportunity to work on your pass game, work on your defense and also to look at personnel. The big thing is you don’t waste a week or two weeks in preseason having a kid playing in some position he’s not going to be able to play. It saves you a ton of time.”

Marshwood lost to Kennebunk in last year’s Western Maine Class B championship game, and is expected to be one of the top teams in Class B this year.

“We hope to be in the thick of it again,” Rotsko said.

Lawrence Academy's Garrison commits to BC

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
Chris Garrison and the Boston College football program had been flirting with each other for a long time before Garrison committed to BC last weekend. So long, in fact, that Frank Spaziani was BC’s head coach when the school offered Garrison a scholarship.

Garrison, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound tight end/split end who will be entering his senior year at Lawrence Academy, said he was sold on BC when he learned what kind of offense BC head coach Steve Addazio has planned for the Eagles in the near future.

“BC has been at the top of my favorites since they offered me two years ago,” Garrison, a Goffstown, N.H., resident, said. “Then a new staff came in and my big question was, ‘How are they going to use me?’

“Everyone knows they were a running team last year with a Heisman finalist (running back Andre Williams). Coach Addazio and Coach Day (offensive coordinator Ryan Day) explained to me the new vision for their offense. They’re building something new at BC. It’s more of a spread offense and they brought in a couple of dual-threat quarterbacks.

“Coach Addazio said he doesn’t like to use the example, but I’ll be playing a similar position that Aaron Hernandez did when he recruited him at Florida. They plan to use me more as a big wide receiver, but I’m sure I’ll still be doing some of the dirty work.”

Garrison, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at BC camp last week, also had scholarship offers from Maryland, Duke, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Syracuse and Wake Forest. BC was the second school to offer Garrison, after UMass.

Garrison said he felt a connection with Day, who played high school football at Manchester (N.H.) Central and then at the University of New Hampshire. Goffstown and Manchester neighbor each other.

He became the sixth in-state player from the Class of 2015 to commit to the Eagles, joining Shepherd Hill offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom, Brockton lineman Aaron Monteiro, Everett defensive back Lukas Denis, St. John’s Prep tight end Jake Burt and St. John’s of Shrewsbury defensive back Davon Jones.

“After I talked to the BC coaches I spoke to my dad,” Garrison said. “I wanted to commit before next season, so I said, “Why am I waiting?’ The whole recruiting process was overwhelming at times.”

Garrison said his decision came down to Duke or BC. He was at Duke earlier this month.

“I was comfortable with Duke, but I was more comfortable with BC,” he said. “BC was where I wanted to go.”
Earlier today, St. John's Prep tight end Jake Burt announced his commitment to Boston College, the fourth Bay Stater to pledge to the Eagles' 2015 recruiting class in the last 25 days.

When Burt, a Lynnfield resident, arrives in Chestnut Hill in the fall of 2015, he'll be the program's first scholarship player from St. John's Prep since Jon Loyte graduated in 2008. Ironically enough, that's the player he draws comparisons to, with former head coach Jim O'Leary telling a group of reporters last August, "I love Jon Loyte, but he [Burt] is more athletic."

[+] EnlargeJake Burt
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comNewest Boston College commitment Jake Burt is an intriguing tight end prospect with plenty of upside.
While 2013 was a rough season for a Prep squad ravaged by injuries -- including Penn State-bound tailback Johnathan Thomas, the state's top prospect, who went down for the season after just three games -- it was a bright one for Burt, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound flex end who demonstrated some impressive intangibles despite limited touches.

"He's legitimately a 6-4, 230-pound kid... he could be a 250-260 pound tight end in 2-3 offseasons, he projects that way," said new Prep head coach Brian St. Pierre, a former Prep and BC star who spent nearly a decade in the NFL as a backup quarterback. "He's very athletic, and you see that on film. He's a very natural catcher of the ball -- which sounds silly, but it's true. He makes it look easy, there's not a lot of people who do that.

"He's a unique talent. He's a very good blocker. BC runs multiple tight end sets, they want their tight ends on the field, and he's very comfortable in a situation where he's blocking and going downfield to make a catch. He's a prototype tight end, and that's what BC has done for a long time."

For Burt -- who also held offers from Virginia, Holy Cross, Harvard and Brown -- a commitment to BC today fulfills a childhood dream, saying it's always been a desire for him to suit up for the Eagles.

Burt spoke with tonight for a few thoughts on that, and more:

Deciding factors: "I knew I wanted to go into business when I get older. Boston College has a great business program, and being in the Boston area, where want to live, it's as good as any. Their football is also really good, and I wanted to play big-time college football. This has been a dream of mine since I was little, and being close to home everyone I know from Mass. can come and watch."

On Brian St. Pierre's guidance in the recruiting process: "I'm really close with coach St. Pierre. I know he went there, but he had no bias or nothing in this. Wherever I wanted to go, he helped schedule rec trips. He talked to a bunch of coaches for me. I know he was excited about this.... He told me [the recruiting process] is going to be tough, there's going to be a lot of people calling me. He always said whenever I need anything, 'Come talk to me'."

On the coaching staff at BC: "Just the BC program in general is on the rise, with their bowl game last season. I like what the staff is doing, they said want to put walls around Mass. and not let anyone out. They're building the program up real well, and I'm excited be a part of that. I like how excited they are, how committed they are to football. They're all very enthusiastic about everything, and that’s exciting."
St. John's Prep junior tight end Jake Burt has verbally committed to Boston College for the 2015 season, he announced this afternoon on his Twitter account.

BC initially offered the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Burt back on March 15. At the time of his commitment he also had an offer from Virginia, as well as FCS schools Holy Cross, Brown and Harvard.

Operating in a "flex" role for Prep in its spread offense, Burt was a versatile, athletic target, lining up in the slot, split out wide, or in-line. Burt is also a star for Prep in basketball, where the Eagles claimed the top seed in Division 1 North this winter; and in volleyball, where last spring the Eagles reached the North final.

Burt is BC's fourth in-state commitment for the 2015 class in the last 25 days. On the same day that BC offered Burt, they received a commitment from Shepherd Hill offensive guard Chris Lindstrom. That was followed by pledges from Everett cornerback Lukas Denis and Brockton swing lineman Aaron Monteiro.

"It’s a good situation, he's a great kid," said Prep head coach Brian St. Pierre, himself a Prep alum who starred as BC's quarterback from 1999-2002 and spent nearly a decade in the NFL. "I'm just happy for him because he's a very good kid, very coachable. I've known Jake for a couple years now and he's fun to be around, he's got a great work ethic. He's very unassuming for as good of a player as he is, he wants to blend in and be just one of the guys. That's what you appreciate about him."

More details to follow.
St. John's Prep head coach Brian St. Pierre told members of the Boston area media this afternoon that prized junior tight end Jake Burt recently received his first two Division 1 FBS offers -- Virginia last Saturday, and Boston College back on March 15.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Burt had a breakout season last year for the Eagles in a "flex" role, posing matchup problems from the slot, split out wide, or in-line. Holy Cross was the first Division 1 school to offer Burt, last fall, with Brown and Harvard following up with offers of their own.

BC also has offers out to Xaverian defensive end Joe Gaziano, Lawrence Academy tight end/linebacker Chris Garrison, and Amherst athlete Taj-Amir Torres. Since the Eagles offered Burt on March 15, they picked up three in-state commitments in Shepherd Hill offensive guard Chris Lindstrom, Everett cornerback Lukas Denis, and Brockton guard/tackle Aaron Monteiro.

Recap: No. 5 CM 76, No. 13 St. John's Prep 64

February, 1, 2014
Feb 1
DANVERS, Mass. –- Coming into Friday night’s meeting with St. John’s Prep, Catholic Memorial coach Denis Tobin wanted his players to treat the game as if it were a playoff game.

With a pre-game routing that included dinner as a team and recapping their gameplan for talented St. John’s Prep, Tobin’s Knights rose up to the challenge of playing on the road in a playoff atmosphere. Behind 16 points each from Guilien Smith and sophomore Brandon Twitty, as well as 14 points and 10 rebounds by 6-foot-8 center Gerard Adams, the Knights knocked off the Eagles (11-3) on the road, 76-64.

The victory for Catholic Memorial meant clinching the Catholic Conference championship. One year after finishing 13-8 and getting bounced in the first round of the Division 1 South tournament, the 14-1 Knights of one of the favorites to make a deep run in the state tournament.

“They’re thrilled down there, especially my seniors -- it means an awful lot to them," Tobin said. "We knew that if we were to win tonight, we’d get the league...We treated it like this was a tournament game so that when we get there, it won’t be a first-time experience for them."

The Knights jumped out to a big first quarter lead, going on an 18-6 run to start the game. The quick start was enabled by CM’s defense, not allowing Prep guards Kareem Davis and Max Burt get into the paint early on.

“That’s CM for ya, they go on runs almost every game: 10-0, 14-0, we’ve seen them. We tried to cut back on the runs but it’s constantly an uphill battle. We spotted them a 10 or 12 point lead in the first couple minutes and we were constantly playing catch-up. They’ve too good of a team to give them that big of a lead,” St. John’s Prep coach John Dullea said. “They’re so deep, and they’re well-coached , they’re athletic, they’re disciplined, they’re tough. They’re a very good team.”

Burt takes point for the Eagles: Burt, a senior captain, was the game-high scorer with 18 points. He helped fuel a Prep comeback in the third quarter: getting to the rim, setting up forwards Max Butterbrodt and Jake Burt, and knocking down back-to-back three pointers in the third quarter to cut the CM lead down to seven.

“Max has been a strong player all year. He doesn’t let anything bother him, he’s always battling, it seems like when we’ve needed a big shot he’s been there," Dullea said. "The effort was there, but they’re a tough team, they’re very good. Obviously there were things we could have done better, but effort-wise I really didn’t have any complaints with the guys."

With one of the state’s best defenders -- junior Aamahne Santos -- guarding Kareem Davis, Prep made a more concerted effort to get the ball to Burt to play point guard and run the offense.

“Santos is a very good on-ball defender, so we figured that if he was on Kareem [Davis] that we could run more plays with Max at the point,” Dullea said. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but [Burt] makes plays when he has the ball so we try to get it in his hands as much as possible.”

Adams efficient for CM: Knights’ big man Gerard Adams was ultra-efficient for CM in the victory, coming up with 14 points and 10 rebounds 7-for-8 shooting from the floor. After working hard to get in shape so that he can play more minutes, Adams has proven to be one of the state’s best big men this year, using his soft hands and feathery touch in the middle for the guard-heavy Knights attack.

“He’s been blessed with a great set of hands, but now he’s worked himself into shape where he can play a whole quarter at a time," Tobin said. "Our guards, Guilien and Aamahne, do a great job of looking for him off the dribble penetration. Gerard catches everything, and now he finishes everything as well."

The Eagles will next have a big test next Thursday against Catholic Conference foe BC High. At this point in the season, Tobin is confident in his team’s ability to play selflessly – the Knights, lately, seem to have a different scorer almost every night:

“They’ve been playing together in the spring, summer, and fall, and they’re completely unselfish there,” Tobin said. “It’s carried over to this season, they’re just a special group of kids.”

Leftover quick-hit thoughts from the weekend

September, 30, 2013
Some leftover quick-hit thoughts from last weekend's action of football:

1a. If St. John's Prep running back Johnathan Thomas -- who left the second half of Saturday's game against Everett with a knee injury -- is out for any extended period of time, the Eagles might be in trouble. Much of the offense funnels through Thomas, and with plays like this it's easy to see why. In my 10 years covering high school football in Massachusetts, I have no problem saying he is the best I've ever seen.

If there's a silver lining, it's that this could open things up for two promising juniors on the perimeter, receiver Owen Rocket and tight end Jake Burt. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Burt has a high ceiling of potential, even drawing comparisons to Prep legend Jon Loyte, and has been a matchup problem in the short to intermediate passing game thus far. Rocket is a smooth route-runner, able to weave in and out of traffic and exploit coverage holes.

You obviously cannot replace a special kid like Thomas, but perhaps this could make the Eagles more unpredictable.

1b. It now bears asking. If Thomas -- who seemed to be running away with the ESPN Boston Mr. Football award at his current clip -- is out for the considerable future, is the race for title of the state's best player wide open again? Lots of names to consider here, most notably Springfield Central quarterback Cody Williams, Natick quarterback Troy Flutie, Leominster quarterback Neil O'Connor, Plymouth South running back Dylan Oxsen, and Millis/Hopedale two-way lineman Jon Baker.

2. An historic year for Mansfield continues to get better, as they ascend to the No. 1 spot in our statewide poll for the first time in our four seasons of coverage. As impressive as the North Attleborough win was, the upset of Baltimore-area powerhouse Dunbar continues to strengthen with the passing weeks. As Dave Redding points out on Mansfield football's website, ( since losing to Mansfield on Sept. 6, the Poets have won three straight outscored their opposition 136-18.

3a. If you missed the thrilling conclusion to the Fitchburg-St. John's of Shrewsbury battle on Saturday afternoon, you missed one of the best endings to a high school football game in years. Fitchburg quarterback Darius Flowers hit Manny Payton for a 16-yard touchdown strike with 13 seconds to go, then tailback Julio Gonzalez ran in the two-point try to give the Red Raiders a 15-14 lead. The ensuing kickoff, a high-hopping squib, was then returned 65 yards to the house by Mike McGillicuddy for walk-off 20-15 Pioneers win.

I'm not sure Fitchburg has endured a special teams heartbreak like that since the 1994 Division 1 Super Bowl, when North Middlesex pulled off a Boise State-esque fake punt for the 50-yard game-winning touchdown run, a play forever known in Central Mass. folklore as simply the "Norman Special".

3b. If there's anything to take away from that game, besides the incredible gumption of McGillicuddy, it's that much like Barnstable in Division 2 South, Fitchburg is not a team you want to draw in the first round of Division 2 Central action. Their defensive front four is impressive, and they controlled the line of scrimmage against St. John's for much of the afternoon.

4. There's a lot of talk early in the ISL season about running backs and linebackers, but keep an eye on Belmont Hill junior quarterback Harry Kraft. He had a field day on Saturday in a 38-11 win over Groton, completing 17 of 27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns, and running in a fifth score.

5. A year ago, I mentioned the Cape & Islands area as an area of particular interest for under-the-radar talent, with a number of prospects earning Division 1 roster spots: Nantucket's Terrel Correia (UMass), Nauset's Derrick and Nathan Holmes (Rhode Island) and Dakota Girard (Brown), Mashpee's Jordan Keli'inui and Zak Orcutt (UMass), Dennis-Yarmouth's Joe Tyo (UMass) and Barnstable's Nick Peabody (Princeton), Andrew Ellis (UMass) and D.J. Crook (Penn State).

The Cape appears to be brewing again. Barnstable receiver/cornerback Derek Estes is one of the state's breakout stars of the first half of the season, making back-breaking plays on both sides of the ball in upsets of BC High and Xaverian. Two of his teammates, running back/safety Hayden Murphy and quarterback Kristian Lucashensky, deserve some praise for the way they've improved since the season-opening rout by D-Y.

Further down Route 6, keep an eye on two prospects from the lowest classification of MIAA football, Division 6. Defending D5 Super Bowl champ Upper Cape Tech is looking good with its flex offense, and at the forefront is Jon Dumont, who had 26 carries for 216 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday's win over Nantucket. At Pope John Paul II, they might have one of the most unheralded 2015 prospects in quarterback Ryan Barabe. Through four games the 6-foot-4, 175-pound Yarmouth resident is among the state's most efficient passers, completing 68 percent of his throws for 776 yards and eight touchdowns to just one interception. A good chunk of the Lions' plays involve option routes for their receivers, which to me demonstrates a lot of maturity when you consider Barabe's completion percentage.

Recap: No. 4 St. John's Prep 40, No. 13 Central 21

September, 21, 2013
LAWRENCE, Mass. –- Another week, another incredible game from Johnathan Thomas.

Thomas, St. John’s Prep’s highly-touted running back, exploded for 228 yards on 27 carries on Friday night—lifting the Eagles (2-1) over Central Catholic (2-1), 40-21. He even made his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball too, returning an intercepted Mike Milano pass 107 yards for a touchdown to put a ribbon on the victory late in the fourth quarter.

Central Catholic got off to a quick start on their first drive, flying downfield on a seven play, 80 yard drive that took less than two minutes off the first quarter clock. Central’s star back, University of New Hampshire commit D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie (13 carries, 88 yards, TD) got the ball five times and anchored the first scoring drive.

“The first drive was ridiculous,” Prep coach Jim O’Leary said, “and the last [Central] drive and a half was a little disappointing. But inbetween that we got some points, and then the defense showed a lot in the second half. They’re a good football team, 40 is deceiving.”

Prep answered back later in the first quarter though, as Mike Geaslen (7-of-9, 94 yards, 2 TD) threw a 24-yard pass to Owen Rocket, Rocket fumbled the ball at the five yard line, but it rolled into the end zone and was recovered by Michael Calascibetta for a Prep TD. Geaslen ran in a touchdown in the second quarter, and later threw a touchdown pass up the sideline to Logan Mahoney for a 35-yard touchdown.

“We stretched the field a little bit -- Jake Burt had a catch early, Rocket had an catch early. We did enough to get people out of the box…and then the offensive line could do their thing,” O’Leary said, “I think Michael [Geaslen] is growing considerably. He’s been steady, almost 70% completions in the first games—great touchdowns and yards and we because need him to get those people out of the box, it helps our running game.”

Thomas takes it back: On the following Central drive, Thomas caught an interception in the back of Prep’s endzone, and what happened next will in all likelihood live in folklore.

Instead of kneeling the ball down in the end zone, Thomas took the ball out and shed tacklers all the way to the opposite goal line -- a 107-yard interception return for a touchdown.

“I didn’t even realize it was in the end zone, I thought it was at the one, but then I went out of the end zone and I had to bring it out or it would have been a safety,” Thomas said.

The star back had his coach scratching his head on the sideline, but O’Leary was able to breathe a quick sigh of relief when Thomas flew up the middle of the field and brought back the score.

“I don’t think he knew where was because of all the lines on the field. I was telling him ‘go down, go down, go down,’ and then about half way up Michael Fawehinmi threw a crushing block right in front of it and broke it even more,” O’Leary said.

200 yards, again: This makes back-to-back weeks that Thomas has rushed for over 200 yards, totaling 263 yards last week in a win over Brockton. He didn’t get to 200 in week one, but he managed 161 yards in a losing effort against Bridgewater-Raynham. Thomas thanked his offensive line for his big gains, but also half-jokingly talked about Prep’s new tightly-fitting Under Armour jerseys.

“Over 200 again...the offensive line I have to give all the credit to them. They did a great job of making holes,” Thomas said, “The new jerseys, skin tight, so if they’re trying to arm tackle me they can’t -— can’t grab that. So they have to frame me up.”

O’Leary, while in awe of yet another exceptional performance from Thomas, made sure to point out that the passing game as an integral piece of Prep’s attack.

“We know what [Thomas] is, clearly he’s our star, the star of the game, but we had a lot of guys make some good plays today," O'Leary said. "Brandon Kahari on a couple screens made big plays. Michael Geaslen threw the touchdown pass...that kind of opened it up for us right there."

Thomas agreed, noting that the passing game forced Central’s defense into check.

“It definitely helps because the linebackers have to look for the pass, they can’t just come all the way up and look for me," he said. "They have to drop because we have guys like Jake Burt, Owen Rockett, who can make great plays...Logan Mahoney. It definitely helped me.”

Defensive adjustment: After giving up 21 points at halftime and watching Drummond-Mayrie and Milano (11-of-21, 183 yards, TD) make plays all over the field, O’Leary’s assistants went to him with the idea of playing a Cover 2 in the second half to help stop the bleeding. With Thomas switching from outside linebacker to safety, Prep was able to essentially take Central’s passing game away across half of the field.

“I had a deep path. It worked out, we shut them down pretty good. I personally had deep path, so I had to make sure a guy didn’t get behind me,” Thomas said.

The move was a bit of improvisation by O’Leary and his staff, but Drummond-Mayrie only rushed for 32 yards in the second half, while Central’s offense didn’t score a single touchdown after the half.

“We don’t run Cover 2, but we had to pressure those guys on the outside and put Johnny back there. It takes the wear-and-tear off [Thomas] too,” O’Leary said. “It was a change-up that we didn’t do in the first half.”
St. John’s Prep senior running Johnny Thomas is a little upset about the way last year ended.

Sure, the Eagles ran over Brockton to win the Eastern Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl, but the Maryland commit wanted more.

“I really wish we could’ve played Everett,” he said reflecting on last year’s team.

Well, Thomas and the Eagles might get that wish this season, as both No. 1 Prep and the No. 2 Crimson Tide will compete in Division 1 North this year, a result of the MIAA’s new playoff alignment.

But Thomas stopped himself before going too far, looking forward to a potential playoff showdown with Everett. He acknowledged the momentous expectations that are placed on the top team in ESPN Boston’s preseason Top 25 poll, but also saw a trap.

“We need to avoid all the ESPN headlines, that we’re ranked No. 1 and all of that.”

He trailed off, “I appreciate that, we really do, but that doesn’t mean a thing. Most of the time, that can go to your head. So you just have to have the right mindset to deal with that.”

Of course, there are weighty expectations on Thomas, himself, as well.

An ESPN Boston All-State first teamer as a junior last year, the Salem resident ran for 1,794 yards on 220 carries with 15 touchdowns. But he also did so sharing part of the load with 2012 Mr. Football Alex Moore, who added 857 yards and 14 touchdowns during his senior season.

This year, Thomas will be the Eagles’ feature back, and – without Moore beside him — he’s solely in the spotlight.

“I think that with Alex leaving the program, teams are going to be keying on me,” Thomas said. “And you know that can actually be good for the team because we have some guys who are under the radar and who are going to make big plays.”

That could come in the passing game. While Prep head coach Jim O’Leary traditionally has featured a streamlined playbook that is comprised of running plays, almost exclusively, the Eagles have the wherewithal to air it out. Behind senior quarterback Mike Geaslen, junior Jake Burt and Owen Rockett provide intriguing options in the passing game.

But make no mistake, the Eagles will maintain the same identity.

“I’m not saying we’re going to be balanced, run versus the pass,” Thomas said, “but I think teams need to pay attention to us throwing on them.”

That means a healthy dose of Thomas running out of the backfield. With additional reps, a 2,000-yard season seems well in grasp for Thomas.

To prepare for that, Thomas and his Eagles teammates have laid the preseason groundwork for the grueling challenge ahead: the Division 1 title defense.

“Everything that we do in the offseason, it makes you a well-rounded player,” Thomas said. “It’s not work specifically in one area, it’s everything. We do speed training, yoga to strengthen the whole body. Everything we do at the Prep, it’s going to help you at the next level.”

Coach: Jim O’Leary (30th season, 200-106-2)
2012: 11-1, won Eastern Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl
Key Returnees: Johnny Thomas, Sr. RB; Jake Burt, Jr. TE/DB; Owen Rockett, Jr. Ath./DB; Michael Fawahinmi, Sr. RB/DB; Mike Geaslen, Sr. QB; Brendan Kahari, Jr. RB/LB; Kent Blaeser, Sr. G/DT; Sean Hoey, Sr. OT/DT.
Strengths: Skill players, defensive secondary.
Weaknesses: Depth at linebacker, offensive line.

Outlook: Prep’s defense was dealt a blow in early going when preseason All-State linebacker Sean Smerczynski withdrew from the school. That will challenge the second tier of the Eagles defense, which already lost several players to graduation of the 2012 squad. Prep’s offensive line, which returns all but one starter from last year (center Sean Lovett is the lone new face). The O-line should become a strength by season end, with preseason All-Stater Kent Blaeser bolstering the group.

Prep has a serious challenge out of the gate, opening with Div. 1 South power Bridgewater-Raynham on Saturday. “They like to pound the ball down the middle,” Thomas said of the Trojans.”They like to play tough-guy football. They’re not like Oregon, passing the ball all over the place. They want to run it down your threat.”