Boston High School: Jared Taylor

ESPN Boston Week 7 football picks

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
1:28
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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.

What We Learned: Week 3

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
3:36
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RIGHT NOW, QURON WRIGHT IS WITHOUT PEER
At least, statistically speaking. In a blowout of Arlington Catholic last weekend, the Holy Name senior tailback needed just five carries to rack up 216 yards and three touchdowns. Two weekends ago in another blowout win, this one over Westborough, Wright carried six times for 160 yards and three scores. So after garnering a Yeoman's workload in a Week 1 shootout loss to parochial rival St. John's of Shrewsbury (28 carries, 282 yards, 4 TD), Wright's stat line looks like this: 39 carries, 658 yards, 10 touchdowns, for a ridiculous average of 16.5 yards a carry.

Forget the opponents. That, folks, is just insane. Especially considering the Lilliputian scatback's generously-listed size of 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, and the Naps' brutal double wing scheme that predicates itself on an intense measure of physicality at the point of attack.

But sometimes, it's the little guys that are the most durable -- just ask Ray Rice or Darren Sproles. And perhaps even moreso, Wright has the benefit of a particularly huge offensive line. Basit Dennis (6-foot-2, 290 pounds) gets the most attention on account of being the lone senior, but from tackle to tackle this is a unit that moves people off the ball, aided by junior Joe Fitton (6-foot, 245 pounds), freshman Liam Perry (5-8, 235) and sophomores Antonio Paulino (6-0, 255) and Nick Geneva (6-4, 310). Throw in the one-inch splits and convoy-style sweeps, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Last year, we were spoiled with unheard-of performances by running backs, between Melquawn Pinkney's 2,900 rushing yards for Putnam, Jared Taylor's 308 yards at Gillette Stadium for Mashpee, and Armani Reeves averaging a touchdown almost every three touches for Catholic Memorial. It's still a bit premature to stack Wright up against any of these guys just yet, but none of them have averaged 16.5 yards a carry over a full season.

As it stands, Wright is on pace to break his school's record for career rushing yards, held by current Philadelphia Eagles fullback Emil Igwenagu. If Wright keeps it up at this clip, though, he could be in for a lot more accolades.

CAN ANYONE SCORE ON READING?
Through the first three weeks of the season, No. 6 Reading has kept its opponents' offenses pin-drop quiet. But allow Jaddiel Polanco to break the silence with some self-awareness.

"Hey @BHallESPN just want to say I think I'm the only person to score on Reading #4 #LawrenceHigh #JustSaying", the Lawrence High senior cornerback wrote to ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Brendan Hall in a tweet early Monday evening.

There has been some stout defense demonstrated by some of the state's top teams in the first month of the season. Nashoba, Beverly, and Everett come to mind so far, either locking up in crucial moments or -- in the case of the former two -- never letting the opponent get out of first gear. But nothing compares to what Reading is doing right now. Since Polanco's safety in the third quarter of Reading's 46-2 blowout of the aforementioned Lancers, the Rockets have pitched nine straight quarters of shutout football, outscoring the opposition 80-2 so far in 2012. That includes a very nice 12-0 shutout of Brockton on the Rockets' home turf.

We can credit a lot of things for the stifling start to Reading's season, as it looks to win a sixth straight outright Middlesex League title. But most importantly, it starts at the line of scrimmage, and few players in the state have been as dominant in the interior as senior Matt Comerford. The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has surprising agility for a player his size (blame his skills in net as a lacrosse goalie, if you must), and that trait has been contagious.

Where does it go from here? The Rockets figure to have an interesting time slowing Burlington running back Marcus Odiah when they meet the Red Devils on October 5. Last year's 32-27 Reading win will surely be on Burlington's minds, as Odiah quietly crossed the 100-yard plateau but was held in check for good stretches of the game.

TAKING OFF, OR GROUNDED AGAIN?
The injury woes that have beset BC High in the early season are on par with a Greek tragedy, or at least a comedy of errors on par with NFL replacement referees. A seemingly impossible string of seven starters missed BC High's Week 2 loss to North Attleborough.

While the Eagles were fortunate to get a few bodies back for Friday night's non-league matchup with Dartmouth, including run-stuffing defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, they suffered yet another potential big blow. In the midst of running away with a 31-0 win over the Indians, BC High saw starting running back Brandon Owens go down with a high ankle injury. While the Eagles got into the win column on the season, the road doesn't get easier with a trip to New Jersey and St. Peter’s Prep.

But, as Eagles head coach Joe Gaff sees it, things are only getting better.

Gaff cited last year’s game against St. Peter’s as a formative experience in the Eagles eventual run to a Division 1 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl title. After Friday’s win, Gaff had positive memory of last year’s encounter, despite a loss. Having to play against the speed of the New Jersey powerhouse (ask Xaverian about competition in the Garden State), Gaff said the Eagles were better prepared to take on their Catholic Conference and playoff schedule.

Plus, there’s another pot of gold coming in Week 5 for BC High – a bye.

“That will be an important week for us,” Gaff said, “it’ll give us a chance to get some bodies back hopefully and let us regroup a little bit.”

The Eagles have done their best plugging holes in the interim. Dan Collins has effectively taken the reins of the offense from Brendan Craven in his absence and Skyler Evans showed good instincts running the ball during the second half at Dartmouth, filling in for Owens.

For the Eagles now, it’s just a matter of time.
This season, we're trotting a new feature for football season that we started back in the spring. Each Wednesday, we'll pool the minds of our ESPN Boston staff and contributors to debate several hot button topics across the state in our Roundtable.

Without further ado, let's kick off the new season with these takes:

1. BC HIGH RECEIVED SOME BAD NEWS LAST WEEK WHEN RETURNING ESPN BOSTON ALL-STATE LINEBACKER LUKE CATARIUS SUFFERED A HAIRLINE FRACTURE ON HIS ANKLE. HOW WILL THE EAGLES COPE?

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: Over the last decade, BC High has proven to be a program with enough sufficient depth to compensate when star players miss a significant time with injury. However, it’s different when you lose the quarterback of your defense, especially when it’s a player as special a talent as the Eagles’ Luke Catarius.

In the scrimmage against Mansfield, after Catarius went out with the ankle injury, the Hornets went to the underneath game and exploited the flats for big gains. There was also one big miscommunication in the secondary that allowed Kevin Maki to wheel right through the middle of the deep field for a 45-yard completion. Not that this won’t be shored up before Friday’s big tilt with Brockton, but it is worth pointing out.

The good news, obviously, is that the Eagles’ Catholic Conference season doesn’t start until late October – but with Xaverian and St. John’s Prep looking sharp, it will be obvious if this team isn’t in proper shape. With that in mind, I expect Brandon Owens’ role at outside linebacker to have an even bigger significance than before. The pressure will also be on the front four, led by Jaleel Johnson, to buy the back seven time.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: In terms of talent, I think the Eagles can get along. My greatest concern for BC High’s defense without Catarius relates to communication. The linebacker has been the leader of the defensive huddle, with messages from the sideline passed along to the inside linebacker. On field, Catarius was the quarterback of the defense as well, not only knowing his own responsibilities, but that of his teammates. That comes from knowledge of the system and cannot be replicated; it only comes through game-condition experience. The Eagles have a bevy of returning starters on the defensive line and secondary to shoulder the load but this one hurts. Will they rely on Brandon Owens to not only be the feature back, but take on more Catarius’ two-way role? We saw what happened last year when Preston Cooper went down at running back and how Deontae Ramey-Doe filled those shoes. So perhaps this will be more of the same for a deep Eagles’ squad. But a player of Catarius’ ilk cannot simply be replaced.

Adam Kurkjian, ESPN Boston correspondent: Without question, losing one of the top two-way players in the state will have a negative impact on BC High. The Eagles will not be able to replace his production easily and there may be an extra loss or two that comes down their way early on because of it. That said, if he is back by the time Catholic Conference play rolls around, BC High will still be one of the favorites to make it back to the playoffs. But still his loss cannot be understated.

Bruce Lerch, ESPN Boston correspondent: Believe it or not, I think the Eagles will be fine defensively. Obviously, Catarius is a one-of-a-kind talent with the ability to singlehandedly change opposing offensive gameplans. BC High will simply lean more on the unit as a whole rather than an individual to bail them out, as Catarius often did with his read and react style of play. Linebackers Danny Collins and Brandon Owens are leaders, defensive linemen like Billy Breen and Jaleel Johnson will take up blockers and make a few plays on their own, and the secondary will have to be more active in supporting.

Oddly enough, I think it's on offense where the Eagles may miss Catarius the most. A bruising fullback, Catarius helped pave the way for Preston Cooper and Deontay Ramey-Doe to pile up yardage last season. New backs Owens and Skyler Evans, along with a mostly inexperienced line, would have benefitted greatly from having Catarius leading the charge.

John Botelho, Editor-in-Chief, South Shore Sports Journal: I'm not even sure this Luke Catarius injury will have any real impact on BC. And I don't mean that as a slight to Catarius - in fact, I think he's the best linebacker in the state. My point of view though is this is a non-issue for the Eagles for two reasons.

First of all, replacing Catarius obviously wouldn't be easy, but aren't teams in the Catholic Conference best suited to replace someone they lose to an injury? Those teams are so loaded and so deep that it seems they have significant depth at every position. Or at least it seemed that way when Preston Cooper - who was arguably the best running back in the state in the first half of last year - went down with a broken ankle. All BC did was go on to win the Super Bowl as Deontae Ramey-Doe stepped in and the Eagles never missed a beat.

Secondly, and most important, is that BC doesn't open up league play until October 26 when they host Malden Catholic. I think even without Catarius, it'd be considered an upset if the Eagles lost that match-up. If it really comes to it, they don't need Catarius back until November 4th, week eight of the season, when they travel to Xaverian. It's reasonable to think that a hairline fracture would be healed up and they'd have him back by then.

2. WHICH REGION OF THE STATE HAS THE BEST UP-AND-COMING TALENT?

Hall: The emergence of Springfield-area talent over the last few years is one of the best stories developing this fall. But in terms of pure talent, for me it’s got to be the Cape & Islands region.

Every year, there seems to be a Cape player that seemingly washes ashore to earn a Division 1 scholarship. Two years ago, it was Randall Jette from Martha’s Vineyard going to UMass. Last year, Nauset’s Brendan Battles-Santos surprising everyone at UConn’s prospect camp to earn a scholarship practically on the spot. This past summer, UMass dug back into the region to pluck 6-foot-7 tight end Terrel Correia out of Nantucket, with intentions of making him an offensive tackle.

We’ll obviously be watching Correia closely this fall, but he isn’t even the best player from the region. Barnstable quarterback Nick Peabody is among the state’s best, with Ivy League interest. Mashpee has three athletes with Division 1 potential in tackle Nate Chrzanowski, running back Jared Taylor (he of the 300-yard epic last year at Gillette Stadium) and his new backfield mate Malik Lee, a Cape Cod Tech transfer with plenty of upside at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds.

Also keep an eye on Dennis-Yarmouth’s Joe Tyo, who still has to fill out but is projectable with a long 6-foot-5 frame and some active footwork. Falmouth sophomore Craig Green will be an intriguing prospect to monitor, after running a 10.6-second 100-meter dash last spring at the New England Track and Field Championships. And as good as Darien Fernandez was on the basketball court for Wareham last winter, some believe he’s an even better running back.

Barboza: I’m looking no further than our statewide preseason Top 25 poll to find two Springfield squads (Central at No. 14 and Putnum at No. 23) and another (Springfield Commerce) knocking on the door. Central is retooled for another run at Longmeadow in Div. 1 West with some key returnees from last year’s squad that made it to Gillette Stadium. Quarterback Cody Williams could be a breakout performer this year and Shawn Lockett is a legitimate force to deal with on the lines. Melquawn Pinkney might be gone, but the cupboard’s not bare for Putnam with Wayne Lowery, shouldering more of the running load while playing lock-down corner. Sha’ki Holines (UConn) and Hassan Graham (not to be confused with the Patriots receiver of yesteryear) grade out at their positions against anybody across the state.

Kurkjian: This is a tough question because the season has not started yet, so it is hard to assess which region has the top players. As it stands now, though, the North Shore looks to have an overflow of top players if you consider Everett part of that region. Also, don't forget BC High's Brandon Owens hails from Salem.

Botelho: Last fall made it hard to argue with any region being more up-and-coming than the Cape. Four of the nine Eastern Mass. Super Bowl champs were from the Cape and Islands (Dennis-Yarmouth Div. 2A, Bourne Div. 3A, Mashpee Div. 4 and Nantucket Div. 5). Not only did those teams each win Super Bowls last season, but the Cape teams outscored opponents 120-29 in those games. Only Bourne had a competitive game, beating defending Super Bowl champ Hamilton-Wenham, 16-14.

3. WHICH RUNNING BACK WILL HAVE THE BIGGEST BREAKOUT?

Hall: There’s a lot of directions you can go with this one. The addition of Malik Lee, and his soft hands, to Mashpee’s already-dangerous backfield has to feel like a high school offensive coordinator’s dream. Out west, Springfield folks are excited about two potential breakout candidates in Putnam’s Wayne Lowery and Central’s Aaron Owens. St. John's of Shrewsbury's Shadrach Abrokwah is bound for a breakout in John Andreoli's new Oregon-style "blur" offense.

However, I’m going with BC High’s Brandon Owens. That he is already committed to a Division 1 FCS school (Bryant) despite only seeing part-time duty one way last season speaks to his upside. As a runner, there is no wangle to his makeup – he’s a north-south, one-cut guy with a powerful frame that accelerates quickly to hit the hole at full speed.

Losing fullback Luke Catarius for the first six weeks of the season means the Eagles may have to get more creative with their offensive sets. But after seeing him take the corner on toss plays out of “Ace” formations, in the Mansfield scrimmage, I think he’s up for any task the coaching staff throws at him.

Barboza: I think we’re all hedging that Malik Lee of Mashpee will have a monster season in his first year with the Falcons, but I’m going to buck the trend here and go with another runner inside the South Shore League. Abington’s Babila Fonkem tallied seven touchdowns (five of those came in one game against backyard rival Archbishop Williams) and ran for over 1,000 yards last season. I think the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has the potential to more than double last year’s tally as a feature back during Jim Kelleher’s swan song as head coach.

Kurkjian: From the looks of it, Brandon Owens has had a spectacular preseason and he will be the feature back in what expects to be another punishing ground attack for BC High. It appears as if the Eagles have just reloaded there.

Lerch: Everett's Kenny Calaj is already something of a household name, having been an impact weapon in Everett's offense the past two seasons. The majority of that. however, came as a pass catcher. With a pair of untested quarterbacks still battling to replace record-setting Jonathan DiBiaso, not to mention a mammoth group of offensive linemen, it would only make sense for the Tide to return to the ground game and Calaj should benefit as the main ball-carrier. I'm not sure what the record for all-purpose yardage in Massachusetts history, but Calaj is in a position to do some historic things as a senior.

Botelho: Arcel Armstead is primed to have an elite year at running back for Bridgewater-Raynham this season. It's no secret that Dan Buron-coached teams run the ball as well as anyone, and with both Nick Schlatz and Brandon Morin gone, Armstead will be the featured back for the Trojans. His athleticism alone would be enough for him to have a big year in that system, but B-R returns their entire offensive line from a season ago, led by 6-foot-4, 260-pound Joey MacInnis, meaning the sky is the limit for Armstead.

Don't sleep on guys like Jon Hurvitz at Duxbury, who is the best athlete returning to the Dragons who will need to remake their identity a bit without Matt O'Keefe under center. Hurvitz runs hard and has a chance to be the first running back Duxbury has built their offense around in recent memory.

Also, the South Shore League seems littered with potential breakout candidates. Jared Taylor is probably the best well-known running back who was a back-up last season. He flashed his electric running ability in the Super Bowl to the tune of more than 300 yards. But he won't be the only guy terrorizing defense in the league.

Babila Fonkem returns to Abington for a senior year with added size from his 1,000-yard campaign a year ago. Brian Kilmain, a junior for the Green Wave, could give them the most dangerous two-headed backfield in the league.

Andrew Benson, who looks like he'll officially be a quarterback, is ready to break out at East Bridgewater. He could end up running for more yards than ESPN All-Stater Casey DeAndrade a year ago, for more than one reason. Last year, DeAndrade split carries with Tim O'Brien. While Benson will share the backfield duties with Kevin Lynch, he'll see a higher percentage of touches than DeAndrade last year. Also, E-B's offense was so explosive last year that DeAndrade (and O'Brien) had their numbers cut down because the Vikings had big enough leads that the starters weren't on the field a lot in the fourth quarter. Only when they played Abington and Mashpee did starters stay in the entire game. This year's team will rank among the best in the SSL, but I don't think they'll put teams away so quickly this time around.

4. TAKE A LOOK AT THE FIRST MONTH OF BROCKTON’S SCHEDULE, AND PREDICT A RECORD.

Hall: This is going to upset some of our readers in the City of Champions, but there’s a realistic possibility of the Boxers coming out of the gate 0-4. Of those first four opponents – BC High, Reading, St. John’s Prep, Xaverian – nobody’s gotten worse from 2011, while I feel Brockton is still sitting in second gear after last year’s disappointing end.

That said, it sounds like Bryant-bound running back/defensive back Micah Morel will be ready for Friday’s opener against BC High after injuring his shoulder in the preseason, so that’s a positive sign. As for record, I think the Boxers will steal a game, either against Prep or Reading, to start off 1-3.

Barboza: Well, let’s go the tape … And hold me to this. I’m going:

Week 1, vs. BC High – Loss

Week 2, at Reading – Win

Week 3, vs. Xaverian – Loss

Week 4, vs. St. John’s Prep – Loss

That would make the Boxers 1-3 rolling into October. Then I think they rebound with three straight wins and finish out the season at 6-5 and represent the Big Three in the Division 1 playoffs as a very dangerous team after enduring a trying first month.

Kurkjian: With so many question marks surrounding this offense, it is hard to project exactly how the Boxers will fare. That said, this is a brutal start to the season. The feeling here is that Brockton manages to steal one and get off to a 1-3 start.

Lerch: It's a very real possibility that Brockton goes 0-4, and I think best case scenario is that they salvage a 2-2 mark. Any better than that and I wonder if the Catholic Conference would have an issue with adding a "league game" between Brockton and Everett to play for its championship.

Botelho: Brockton has the best program in state history. Literally. Their 751 all-time wins ranks first in the state by a wide margin (no one else even has 600 wins). They've also captured 11 Super Bowl titles in 40 years. That said, the last few years haven't been what Boxer fans are used to. They missed the playoffs two years in a row, and last season slumped to a disappointing 5-6.

All those struggles did was ignite something in the Boxers, who look primed to return to the postseason this season. I'm going to say Brockton gets through that portion of the schedule (one Peter Colombo said might rank as the toughest in New England) with a winning record. I'm a believer in Brockton this year, and they'll knock off at least one Catholic Conference opponent, as well as take care of business with Reading and Fitchburg. My guess is the Boxers end up 3-2 in this stretch (including a loss to BC High week one, which they'll avenge in the Super Bowl in December).

5. WHAT GAME WILL BE THE MOST THRILLING OF WEEK 1?

Hall: On a state-wide level, Everett’s trip to Leominster is certainly garnering the most interest, and deservedly so. The atmosphere there is going to be electric, with projections of anywhere up to 7-8,000 for expected attendance at Doyle Field. But, at the risk of being the wet blanket here, find me a pundit that doesn’t expect Everett to win.

Putnam-Central will be an intriguing battle out west, but I’m going with an underrated Saturday afternoon showdown in Shrewsbury, where St. John’s will host Holy Name in their customary season-opener. For all of Holy Name’s success under Mike Pucko, the Naps have never beaten St. John’s under John Andreoli. Last year’s contest, a 22-21 St. John’s thriller, was just epic on all fronts. And if there’s any year for Holy Name to get that elusive win over the Pioneers, it’s this one.

Barboza: This might not be the most high profile game on the docket, but I’m looking at the good ole fashioned brawl in the backyard between Dighton-Rehoboth and Somerset. The Falcons, coached by Somerset alum Dave Driscoll, are looking to rebound a bit in the South Coast Conference this season behind physical tackle Chuddy Nwachukwu and the Raiders could bounce back from a rebuilding year last year to finish atop the Eastern Athletic Conference this year. This has always been an underrated rivalry game in Southeastern Mass. and it's a great way to kick off the season for both squads.

Kurkjian: When in doubt, go with the No. 1 team opening up on the road against a program and community brimming with optimism over a Super Bowl win. No matter what happens, the atmosphere for Friday night's Everett at Leominster game will be electric.

Lerch: With apologies to several other high profile (BC High/Brockton) and not-so-high-profile (East Boston/Blue Hills will be a barnburner) matchups certainly deserving attention, the game at the top of my marquee is Duxbury at Bridgewater-Raynham (Saturday, 4 p.m.). Two programs very similar in the foundations programmed by a pair of tremendous head coaches, and both with an eye on getting a jump start on the "reload" process should be ready to go toe-to-toe for 44 minutes (or more).

Botelho: My favorite week one match-up is always Bridgewater-Raynham and Duxbury (especially this year, where these two teams grabbed the top two spots in our pre-season poll over at SportsJournal.co). Both perennial Super Bowl contenders, if either team doesn't bring their 'A' game from the get-go, they start the season with a loss. Dave Maimaron and Dan Buron always have their kids supremely prepared, so this one has a playoff atmosphere in September.

ESPN Boston Mr. Football Watch List: Week 1

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
10:48
AM ET
This morning, we unveil our initial "Watch List" for our third annual ESPN Boston Mr. Football Award, presented annually to the state's top overall player.

Last year, Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso took the award unanimously, beating out Catholic Memorial's Armani Reeves, Duxbury's Matt O'Keefe, Chelmsford's Tim Joy and Springfield Putnam's Melquawn Pinkney. In 2010, Everett wideout Matt Costello won the inaugural award after catching for 1,301 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Check back with us each Monday during the season, as we put out our weekly "Mr. Football Watch" tracking the contenders and highlight others potentiall on the rise.

The five finalists for the Mr. Football Award will be announced after Week 10 of the high school season. The winner will be announced on the Monday following the MIAA Super Bowls, and will be honored at Gillette Stadium before the Patriots' December 10 home game.

Here is the first ESPN Boston Mr. Football Watch List of the 2012 season:

Jon Baker, Jr. OL/DL, Millis/Hopedale
Dominant two-way lineman already claims offers from UMass, Boston College and UConn, and has interest from Michigan and Virginia.

Drew Belcher, Jr. QB, Reading
6-foot-4, 200-pounder one of the state's most punishing dual-threat signal-callers.

Vincent Burton, Sr. RB, Blue Hills
Randolph native has 54 rushing touchdowns since the start of 2010, more than any other active player in the state over that time.

Kenny Calaj, Sr. RB/LB, Everett
Transitioning to the Crimson Tide's feature back role, he's got plenty of sizzle, and will have the benefit of a hefty line.

Ozzy Colarusso, Sr. ATH, Weymouth
Versatile scatback plays every skill position for the Wildcats, and accumulated 17 touchdowns last season.

Sha'ki Holines, Sr. LB, Springfield Commerce
UConn-bound linebacker registered 132 tackles and six sacks last season.

Zach Hume, Sr. LB, Nashoba
Registered 122 tackles last season for the 13-0 Division 2 Super Bowl champs, and has varied Division 1 interest.

Maurice Hurst, Sr. DT, Xaverian
290-pound, Michigan-bound Canton resident is widely considered the state's best three-technique. He'll even carry the ball more, after last year's experiment with St. John's (Shrewsbury) led to 220 yards rushing.

John Montelus, Sr. OT, Everett
Notre Dame-bound road grader is considered one of the best left tackles in the Northeast, and will lead a line that among the nation's heaviest at nearly 318 pounds across.

Peter Ngobidi, Sr. DL/LB, Catholic Memorial
One of the better edge-setters around, UMass-bound defensive athlete is at least one ESPN Boston correspondent's pick as the state's best defensive lineman.

Marcus Odiah, Sr. RB, Burlington
His combination of speed and acceleration is matched by few backs in Eastern Mass.

Nick Peabody, Sr. QB, Barnstable
Led the Red Raiders to their first playoff appearance in a decade last season, in part-time duty.

Jared Taylor, Sr. RB/NG, Mashpee
Shot to the top of everyone's list after gassing Cardinal Spellman for a Gillette Stadium record 308 yards in the Division 4 Super Bowl.

Hunter Taute, Sr. RB/LB, Xaverian
Intimidating leader of the Hawks' defense, and will be a force at running back at 240 pounds.

Jonathan Thomas, Jr. RB, St. John's Prep
Already picking up Division 1 interest, poised for a breakout season in Jim O'Leary's rushing attack.

Quron Wright, Sr. RB, Holy Name
Lilliputian scatback needs 1,300 yards to surpass Emil Igwenagu's all-time rushing yards mark at the school.

No. 25 Mashpee looks to Taylor to lead

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
9:55
AM ET
MASHPEE –- Jared Taylor walked off the field following his final carry in last December’s Division 4 Super Bowl romp over Cardinal Spellman, before a sparse crowd at Gillette Stadium, with his mind still lost in the fog of war.

The 6-foot, 215-pound tailback had just run for a record 308 yards, most ever by a high school player at Gillette, and naturally the shy, reserved kid was unaware. Hey, when you’re having one of those nights, why bother with stat-checking?

“I just couldn’t believe we actually won the game,” Taylor reflected earlier this month. “We made it so far, and now the season was just over. It was just an amazing feeling you get. I didn’t really know what I was running right then, I just kept running. I just wanted to win.”

[+] EnlargeMashpee Football
Eric Adler for ESPNBoston.com Mashpee senior running back Jared Taylor is hoping to repeat the magic of 2011, when he ran for 1,535 yards and 21 touchdowns as the Falcons won the D4 EMass Super Bowl.
Taylor led the Falcons to their first ever Super Bowl title in school history in 2011, splitting carries with bruiser Jordan Keli’inui but leading the way with 1,535 yards, 21 touchdowns and 9.5 yards per carry. The notion that he was the No. 2 back behind Keli’inui –- who did not play in the Super Bowl due to a high ankle sprain –- seemed to make Taylor’s 300-yard night all the more dramatic.

But it was the perfect storm of opportunity and preparation.

Tales of his uncle, Andy Andrade, are legendary; he was taken by the Cowboys in the fourth round of the 1974 draft out of Northern Michigan, but never played a down. Through most of his time coming up through Falmouth, Taylor wore the number 44 in honor of his uncle.

Taylor is also related to Robert Pena, another Falmouth legend who played three seasons with the Cleveland Browns (1971-73) as a defensive tackle. In 2010, Taylor was a starting defensive tackle for Falmouth High when the Clippers delivered one of the biggest upsets of the season, downing BC High amidst torrential downpours at Guv Fuller Field.

All that, in turn, has led to dialogue of Taylor as one of the state’s most dangerous threats out of the backfield. Blessed with a combination of speed, power, north-south acceleration and some lively hips, Taylor is a consistent threat to rip a big play wide open with a quick burst to the corner, or bull his way up the middle of the field shedding and spinning through contact.

And just how many tailbacks in the state double as a nose guard? Under Triveri, the Falcons have always looked to optimize speed at each position, sometimes sacrificing size, and Taylor serves as a classic speed-rush one-technique. In 2011, he recorded 66 tackles, seven sacks, and a pick-six off a batted pass.

"He’s a difference maker as a one technique," Triveri said. "You just don’t find guys like that. He is very tough to control without a double, and he makes plays. He’s awkward for other offenses to gameplan against, because he’s so fast off the ball and so powerful."

But while Taylor will be the lead back this season, he’ll once again be splitting carries. Senior Malik Lee, a Mashpee native transferring in from Cape Cod Tech, is expected to make an immediate impact at both tailback and linebacker with his 6-foot-2, 235-pound frame. He is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Cape Tech, and has reportedly ran as fast as a sub-4.6 40-yard dash.

Be careful not to cast him as a between-the-tackles back, however. Lee demonstrated soft hands in 7-on-7 leagues this summer, along with some quality footwork and leaping ability honed during basketball season. Lee also ran some “Wildcat” packages last season, and could be given similar looks with the Falcons.

“When you run the I, it’s not the way it used to be, unless you have a kid who’s just not going to get hurt,” Triveri said, while noting Taylor “should be the lead guy”.

He continued, “To me, you can’t have a kid get 35 carries a game. Our kids aren’t going to get anything over 20 carries for the most part, especially when they’re playing both ways. It’s good to have them come in fresh – they push each other, they compete, the whole thing. That’s what they’re looking at, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

The Taylor-Lee combination in the backfield could inspires some creative play-calling, but Triveri feels Lee is not yet a finished product.

“Jordan [Keli’inui] was a finisher, he’d finish people after contact, to the point where junior, senior year, guys didn’t want to hit Jordan anymore,” Triveri said. “Malik doesn’t look like he finishes yet, but there’s nothing to hit on him. He’s just a big, huge kid with breakaway-type speed. And for that size, yeah he’s a good-looking kid. There’s some things that can be smoothed over, but we’re going to get him in different positions.

“The best thing about Malik is, just like Jared he has great hands, so there’s a lot of different things you can ask him to do – step out in the slot [for instance]. With a kid that size, I was surprised at how good his hips are. There’s some technique-refining, but other than that he’s something you can work with.”

Elsewhere, 6-foot-4, 325-pound road grader Nate Chrzanowski will kick down to right tackle on offense, from guard, and is expected to an impact between the hash marks both ways.

“He should be a guy that shouldn’t get moved,” Triveri said. “He’s a 320-pound kid, he’s got to get himself in shape. He’s a Division 1 body with Division 1 feet, but the question is if he can come into every play in shape. We expect him to dominate offensively, though. He began to dominate about halfway through the year last year, just wiped guys out.”

MASHPEE AT A GLANCE
2011: 13-0 (Won Division 4 EMass Super Bowl)
Coach: Matt Triveri (8th season, 60-16)
Key Returnees: Jared Taylor, Sr. TB/NG, 6-0, 215 lbs.; John Bernard, Sr. FB/LB, 5-11, 200 lbs.; Nate Chrzanowski, Sr. OT/DL, 6-4, 325 lbs.; Kenny Roche, Jr. OL/DL, 5-9, 200 lbs.; Alex Clark, Sr. TE/DE, 6-3, 190 lbs.; Kevin Frye, Jr. WR, 5-9, 160 lbs.; Cody Bingham-Hendricks, Sr. QB/CB, 5-10, 165 lbs.
Strengths: Skill positions, defensive line, cornerbacks.
Weaknesses: Depth at offensive line, experience at linebacker.
Outlook: After an explosive 300-yard performance in last year’s D4 Super Bowl, Taylor is expected to take the reigns as the Falcons’ lead back. He’ll be joined in the backfield by Malik Lee, a 6-2, 235-pound senior transferring in from Cape Cod Tech, and will look to form a thunder-lightning combo similar to last year with Taylor and Jordan Keli’inui. “We had the same 1-2 punch last year, it wore on people,” Triveri said. Chrzanowski will be the one to watch in the trenches, leading an offensive line that is solid in the starting spots but “paper-thin” beyond that, according to Triveri. Bingham-Hendricks has big shoes to fill in taking over for Zak Orcutt under center, but showed strides in 7-on-7 leagues over the summer. Overall, the Falcons return as much talent as anyone in Division 4 to make another run, but the operative theme will be staying healthy. Doesn’t help matters that they’re on the road for the first four games of the season.

Roundtable: Best players, league champs

August, 20, 2012
8/20/12
8:14
AM ET
In our first "Roundtable" of the 2012 football season, our high school staff and correspondents submitted their best position players in the state, and predicted champions for the state's most anticipated league races.

Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


Best QB: Nick Peabody, Barnstable
Best RB: Jared Taylor, Mashpee
Best WR: Jalen Felix, Everett
Best TE: Chris Collins, Walpole
Best OL: John Montelus, Everett
Best DL: Maurice Hurst Jr., Xaverian
Best LB: Luke Catarius, BC High
Best DB: Micah Morel, Brockton
Best K: Gilly De Souza, Everett
Best RET: Cam Farnham, Andover

Catholic Conference: Xaverian
MVC Large: Andover
MVC Small: Dracut
Bay State Carey: Needham
Bay State Herget: Natick
Old Colony: Barnstable
Atlantic Coast: Nauset
South Coast: Dighton-Rehoboth
Dual County Large: Lincoln-Sudbury
Dual County Small: Wayland
Patriot Keenan: Duxbury
Patriot Fisher: Pembroke
Hockomock Kelly-Rex: North Attleborough
Hockomock Davenport: Stoughton
NEC/CAL Tier 1: Masconomet
NEC/CAL Tier 2: Beverly
Middlesex Large: Reading
Middlesex Small: Wakefield
South Shore: Mashpee

Scott Barboza
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


Best QB: Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB: Jonathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR: Jalen Felix, Everett
Best TE: Chris Collins, Walpole
Best OL: John Montelus, Everett
Best DL: Maurice Hurst Jr., Xaverian
Best LB: Luke Catarius, BC High
Best DB: Alex Moore, St. John's Prep
Best K: Gilly De Souza, Everett
Best RET: Cam Farnham, Andover

Catholic Conference: BC High
MVC Large: Andover
MVC Small: Dracut
Bay State Carey: Weymouth
Bay State Herget: Natick
Old Colony: Barnstable
Atlantic Coast: Marshfield
South Coast: Dighton-Rehoboth
Dual County Large: Lincoln-Sudbury
Dual County Small: Concord-Carlisle
Patriot Keenan: Duxbury
Patriot Fisher: Pembroke
Hockomock Kelly-Rex: King Philip
Hockomock Davenport: Stoughton
NEC/CAL Tier 1: Lynn English
NEC/CAL Tier 2: Beverly
Middlesex Large: Reading
Middlesex Small: Wakefield
South Shore: Mashpee

Adam Kurkjian
ESPN Boston correspondent


Best QB: Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB: Jonathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR: Jakarrie Washington, Everett
Best TE: Chris Collins, Walpole
Best OL: John Montelus, Everett
Best DL: Maurice Hurst Jr., Xaverian
Best LB: Luke Catarius, BC High
Best DB: Jalen Felix, Everett
Best K: Jackson Bockhurst, BC High
Best RET: Ozzy Colarusso, Weymouth

Catholic Conference: BC High
MVC Large: Central Catholic
MVC Small: Haverhill
Bay State Carey: Weymouth
Bay State Herget: Walpole
Old Colony: Bridgewater-Raynham
Atlantic Coast: Dennis-Yarmouth
South Coast: Wareham
Dual County Large: Lincoln-Sudbury
Dual County Small: Concord-Carlisle
Patriot Keenan: Duxbury
Patriot Fisher: Pembroke
Hockomock Kelly-Rex: King Philip
Hockomock Davenport: Stoughton
NEC/CAL Tier 1: Lynn English
NEC/CAL Tier 2: Beverly
Middlesex Large: Reading
Middlesex Small: Wakefield
South Shore: Mashpee

Ryan Kilian
Founder, New England Prep Stars


Best QB: Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB: Jonathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR: Jalen Felix, Everett
Best TE: Chris Collins, Walpole
Best OL: John Montelus, Everett
Best DL: Maurice Hurst Jr., Xaverian
Best LB: Luke Catarius, BC High
Best DB: Alex Moore, St. John's Prep
Best K: Gilly De Souza, Everett
Best RET: Cam Farnham, Andover

Catholic Conference: BC High
MVC Large: Central Catholic
MVC Small: Haverhill
Bay State Carey: Weymouth
Bay State Herget: Natick
Old Colony: Barnstable
Atlantic Coast: Dennis-Yarmouth
South Coast: Dighton-Rehoboth
Dual County Large: Lincoln-Sudbury
Dual County Small: Concord-Carlisle
Patriot Keenan: Duxbury
Patriot Fisher: Pembroke
Hockomock Kelly-Rex: Mansfield
Hockomock Davenport: Stoughton
NEC/CAL Tier 1: Masconomet
NEC/CAL Tier 2: Beverly
Middlesex Large: Reading
Middlesex Small: Wakefield
South Shore: Mashpee

Corey Allen
ESPN Boston Correspondent


Best QB: Nick Peabody, Barnstable
Best RB: Brendan Flaherty, Beverly
Best WR: Jakarrie Washington, Everett
Best TE: Chris Collins, Walpole
Best OL: John Montelus, Everett
Best DL: Peter Ngobidi, Catholic Memorial
Best LB: Luke Catarius, BC High
Best DB: Jalen Felix, Everett
Best K: Gilly De Souza, Everett
Best RET: Cam Farnham, Andover

Catholic Conference: BC High
MVC Large: Central Catholic
MVC Small: Dracut
Bay State Carey: Needham
Bay State Herget: Walpole
Old Colony: Bridgewater-Raynham
Atlantic Coast: Nauset
South Coast: Wareham
Dual County Large: Lincoln-Sudbury
Dual County Small: Boston Latin
Patriot Keenan: Duxbury
Patriot Fisher: Pembroke
Hockomock Kelly-Rex: North Attleborough
Hockomock Davenport: Stoughton
NEC/CAL Tier 1: Masconomet
NEC/CAL Tier 2: Beverly
Middlesex Large: Reading
Middlesex Small: Wakefield
South Shore: Mashpee

Mashpee football gives Robert Kraft special gift

August, 7, 2012
8/07/12
11:13
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH -- Last December, Gillette Stadium provided the setting for the Mashpee High Falcons' football program to make history. This afternoon, during the Patriots' joint practice with the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons returned the favor.

The team presented Patriots owner Robert Kraft with one of their own 2011 MIAA Super Bowl Championship rings, with the initials "MHK" engraved in it, in honor of Kraft's late wife Myra. The graduated stars of the Falcons' 2011 squad -- quarterback Zak Orcutt, running back Jordan Keli'inui and lineman Graham Kilpatrick -- were on hand for the presentation between the two practice fields behind Gillette, along with head coach Matt Triveri, his assistants, and musician Jon Bon Jovi (already there as a friend of the Krafts and Bill Belichick).

Last December, the Falcons captured their first MIAA Super Bowl championship in school history, pounding Cardinal Spellman 34-8 for the Division 4 title. Running back Jared Taylor also set a stadium record for most rushing yards in a single game, at any level, carving up the Cardinals for 308 yards and three scores.

There are several connections between the Krafts and Mashpee. They have owned property on Popponesset Island for more than four decades. In 1999, they donated $500,000 to the fledgling Boys and Girls Club of Cape Cod, and still routinely check in. In 2006, they donated another $100,000 for the construction of the Community Health Center of Cape Cod.

Triveri said it was a combination of these things that led to the donation, but also "to say thanks for the experience, because we were so blown away by our experience there."

The ring presentation was primarily the work of Mashpee assistant coach Mike Mullen, a former tight end at Wake Forest from 1978-81, who felt it the honorable thing to do given the Krafts' repeated contributions to the town of Mashpee.

"Once we knew what we were doing, we were going to get them [the rings] for the kids, we decided pretty quickly that we wanted to include Mr. Kraft, as far as giving him one," Mullen said. "He's been very generous to the town of Mashpee. It was an easy decision."

Recap: Mashpee 30, Millis/Hopedale 14

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
5:07
PM ET
TAUNTON, Mass. -- With seconds remaining on the clock, the Mashpee Falcons offense did something that the club’s defense did not do all night, it showed mercy on Millis/Hopedale.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Rich Maclone on Twitter at @Capenews_Rich

Recap: Mashpee 16, No. 19 E. Bridgewater 6

November, 12, 2011
11/12/11
2:03
AM ET
MASHPEE, Mass. -- Everything lined up perfect for Mashpee in their quest for the South Shore League title against fellow unbeaten East Bridgewater in a winner-take-all event on the Cape.

From the standing room only crowd, to the wacky five shirtless students painted in blue running the sideline track for all 40 minutes, to the fact it was 11-11-11, to having South Shore League champion t-shirts made prior to the game, and finally for the classy way of honoring all veterans with two honorary Army team captains for the coin flip along with a VFW flag ceremony - it was almost like Mashpee knew they would win.

The Falcons (10-0, 7-0) did just that and punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 16-6 win over East Bridgewater for the school’s first-ever South Shore League title. East Bridgewater (9-1, 5-1) also came into the game unbeaten and were averaging 37 points per game on offense until they were stifled by the stout Falcons’ defense.

Despite only getting his number called five times, Jared Taylor scored twice on the ground with 19 and 22-yard touchdown runs and finished with 73 yards (14.6 per carry) to give Mashpee all they needed and head coach Matt Triveri knew how big the win was for the program.

“We are just happy for our community and this is a big win for our school and all the credit goes to our seniors. Even though [Jared] Taylor had two touchdowns it was our senior leadership, we were very loose, and had confidence in each other," Triveri said. “[Taylor is] a man beast and so physically gifted. He averaged over nine yards a carry this season and he breaks a lot of hard tackles and when he gets into the secondary he’s probably going to run away."

Two particular seniors led the way on both sides of the ball as tailback Jordan Keli'inui hauled the bulk of the load on offense with 18 carries for 98 yards and Graham Kilpatrick was the man on defense with eight tackles, three solo, along with a sack.

Making the league title even sweeter, Keli'inui, who rushed for over 1,000 yards as a junior, missed four games with a broken leg last year and the 6-foot-3 Kilpatrick was lost for the entire 2010 season with an injury.

“Zack Orcutt was tremendous at safety on defense and was the best player on the field at times and we were running a 3-4 and [Kilpatrick] was still making plays in the backfield in a 3-4; again, another senior that’s been with the program a couple of years,” Triveri said. “It’s a great feeling for him coming off last year since he didn’t play”.

Taylor scored his first touchdown with 6:03 to play in the second quarter and Keli'inui capped off the 9-play scoring drive with a 2-point rush to give Mashpee the 8-0 lead at the half. But the pivotal moment in the game came in the third quarter with East Bridgewater knocking on the goal line door with a first-and-goal from the Falcons’ 2-yard line.

Vikings quarterback Timothy O’Brien was knocked back for a 3-yard loss on the first play from scrimmage, so East Bridgewater head coach Shawn Tarpey decided to go to his star tailback, Casey DeAndrade.

The Falcons stopped DeAndrade for no gain and then after O’Brien got the Vikings back inside the one with a quarterback option on third-and-goal, DeAndrade lined up under center only to be stuffed inches from the goal line by Kilpatrick and a slew of defenders forcing a fumble and a turnover on downs inside the one.

“That was the pivotal moment of the game, we couldn’t punch it in and I tried to get the ball into Casey’s hands and honestly I’m second-guessing myself on that one and should have gotten the ball to the perimeter," Tarpey said. “I thought we moved the ball but we just couldn’t finish off drives, but certainly give Mashpee all the credit in the world, they gave us difficulties in every phase of the game.”

Missed opportunities had the Vikings failing to score on three separate occasions inside the Falcons 25-yard line. But after Taylor scored his second touchdown with two minutes left in regulation to give Mashpee the comfy 16-0 lead, all hope seemed to be lost until Triveri decided to kick off to the sensational DeAndrade.

All DeAndre did was return the kickoff 71 yards to give East Bridgewater some hope but a failed two-point conversion pass left the Vikings in peril, down 16-6. DeAndrade still was not done as he recovered the onside kick and the Vikings had the ball at midfield trailing by 10 with 1:45 to play.

But East Bridgewater simply ran out of time as they turned the ball over on fourth-and-goal from the Falcons' four-yard line despite the University of New Hampshire-commit DeAndrade finishing with a game-high 116 yards on 19 carries, including his 21st touchdown on the season.

“They gave us everything we expected in terms of our base formation, but we didn’t block great, we are not a powerhouse up front but it comes down to executing and we have to execute a little bit better, we have to tackle better”, said Tarpey, who was looking to get his squad the South Shore League championship belt for the first time since 1995. “We’ve had their number, but we had our hands full, and I’m sure they were thinking payback because we’ve beat them the last couple of years.”

EAST BRIDGEWATER (9-1) 0 0 0 6 - - 6
MASHPEE (10-0) 0 8 0 8 - - 16


MA – Jared Taylor 19 yard run (Jordan Keliinui run)
MA – Taylor 22 run (Zack Orcutt run)
EB – Casey DeAndrade 71 kickoff return (pass failed)

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