Boston High School: Jaron Spear

Beverly (7-6) caps amazing Div. 3 run

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
2:43
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Beverly Panthers used a 63-yard drive before halftime to swing the momentum in their favor, and came back to defeat the Somerset Blue Raiders 28-20 in the Division 3 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

“For us to come back in the way that we did, it say something very special for our kids and their character,” Beverly coach Dan Bauer said.

“Starting off 0-5, you know how to face adversity,” Beverly quarterback Joe Wioncek said about the comeback. “When we went down we just stayed together like we have been all year.”

Beverly, which lost the first five games of the season, showed its resiliency after trailing Somerset 20-7 late in the second quarter. With 3 minutes, 1 second left in the half, Beverly used seven plays to drive 63 yards for its second score of the game.

Although the Panthers still were down 20-14 after the extra point, Beverly rallied at halftime after the scoring drive.

“That, in itself, allowed us to be in position to win this game...” Bauer said about the drive. “That gave us the support we needed to pull the win out.”

“That’s the story of our season, we’ve been doing it all year,” Beverly’s Mark Giles said after the game. “No one believed in us after we were 0-5, people were probably down on us when we were down in the first quarter, but we don’t give up. This team doesn’t give up.”
[+] EnlargeBeverly v Somerset
John Mahoney Beverly and Kenny Pierce (No. 28 in black) upended previously undefeated Somerset 28-20 to claim the Division 3 EMass Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.


Somerset’s offense confused the Beverly team early on, and the Blue Raiders were able to score on their first three drives of the game. Jaron Spear led Somerset in the first half with nine carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns -- including a 59-yard run, on which he broke two tackles on the score.

But Spears went down with a hip injury in the second quarter, according to Somerset coach Nick Freitas, and the offense struggled to move the ball in his stead.

The comeback was also keyed by a defensive revival for the Panthers. Beverly’s defense stepped up in the second half with an invigorated defensive line, and some minor strategic adjustments.

Coach Bauer said that to counter some of the pulling guards and misdirection that Somerset used throughout the first half, the team subbed in a linebacker for a defensive linemen. That speed allowed the Panthers’ defense to keep up with the Somerset running backs on the sweeps, and neutralize the pulling linemen.

“We were a little soft in the beginning and we woke up a little bit on the line,” Giles said. “But once we started resetting the line of scrimmage we were making the plays we needed to make.”

Beverly’s offense was led by Nick Theriault -- who had 12 carries for 139 yards and one touchdown -- and Wioncek. Wioncek finished the game 6 of 11 for 77 yards with two touchdown-passes to sophomore Brendan Flaherty.

“It feels amazing. Words can’t describe it,” Wioncek said about winning the Division 3 Super Bowl. “You grow up watching TV, and watching this field, to be able to play on it and not only win -- but win a super bowl -- for your school and community -- it’s amazing.”

BEVERLY 28, SOMERSET 20

SOM 14 6 0 0 --- 20
BEV 0 14 7 7 --- 28

First Quarter
S - Jaron Spear 59 run (T.J. Eisle kick)
S - Seth DeMello 1 run (Eisle kick)

Second Quarter
B - Brendan Flaherty 13 pass from Joe Wioncek (Wioncek kick)
S - Spear 26 run (Eisle kick)
B - Flaherty 15 pass from Wioncek (Wioncek kick)

Third Quarter
B - Nick Theriault 26 run (Wioncek kick)

Fourth Quarter
B - Wioncek 1 run (Wioncek kick)

Super Saturday breakdown and picks

December, 3, 2010
12/03/10
5:51
PM ET


Yesterday, coaches and captains from each of the teams participating in the six Eastern Mass Super Bowls played at Gillette Stadium toured the field in anticipation of Saturday's games. We caught up with Bridgewater-Raynham quarterback Billy Zolga and Everett wide receiver and defensive back Matt Costello yesterday.

Both players were at Gillette last year when their respective teams lost their Super Bowl bids. Now, the seniors are looking to leave a lasting imprint in their final high school football games.

This is for all the marbles, so let's get straight into the action:

DIVISION 1
Everett (11-0) vs. St. John's Prep (8-4), 6 p.m., Gillette Stadium
Everett players to watch:
ATH Manny Asprilla, WR Matt Costello, QB Jonathan DiBiaso, RB/LB Vondell Langston, LB Buck McCarthy, WR/DB Kenny Calaj, OL/DL Nick Chiarello, DL Shaquille Taylor.
St. John's Prep players to watch: RB Tyler Coppola, OL/DL Nathan Cyr, TE Ryan Delisle, TE/ROV Lucas Bavaro, OL/DL Dan Culkeen.
The skinny: In his third year under center, DiBiaso has exploded to lead one of the state's most prolific offenses (37.5 points per game), and re-write the record book (he threw his state-record 40th touchdown pass of the season in Tuesday's 21-0 win over Andover). But you best believe he is thanking his lucky stars for the exploits of Costello (20 touchdowns) and Asprilla. The Boston College-bound Asprilla, who lines up at both tailback and wide receiver, is one of the state's most dangerous threats in the short passing game, and known to rip off huge gains out of underneath routes. Prep, meanwhile, has rode a powerful ground game (what's new?) to victory, led by Coppola, who has nearly 450 yards on the ground in the last two games. The Eagles are anchored by a powerful line led by Cyr and Culkeen, while Bavaro has emerged as an intimidating presence over the middle on defense.
X-factor: The matchup of the Trinity-boud Cyr, one of the state's best o-linemen, versus Taylor, one of the state's best d-linemen, will be one of the most intriguing battles of the day. Both are built low to the ground, with an explosive first step, and you've got to wonder if one key block will spring either team to victory.

Barboza: A Prep win would be the fitting culmination to an emotional ride, but this has been the Crimson Tide's year. Everett, 27-21

Hall: This has been a remarkable run for the Prep, after all the program has been through these last two seasons, and they're winners in my book either way. I'm going with one of the unsung guys, Gilly DeSouza, to win it late with his feet for the Crimson Tide. Everett, 24-21.

DIVISION 1A
Bridgewater-Raynham (10-2) vs. Gloucester (12-0), 8 p.m. at Gillette Stadium

B-R players to watch: QB/QB Billy Zolga, RB/LB Nick Schlatz, OL/DL Mike Devin, RB/LB Mike Chicoine, RB Brandon Morin.
Gloucester players to watch: TE/DE Chris Unis; RB/LB Gilbert Brown; FB/LB Jordan Shairs; OT/DE Andrew Mizzoni; C/NT Anthony Latassa.
The skinny: Do you like running the football? This game is for you. The Trojans and Fishermen do it better than just about anybody and certainly have the book on each other after facing off in last year’s Super Bowl. You’d be hard pressed to find a more consistent pair of backs than Gilbert Brown and Jordan Shairs of Gloucester. The Trojans ran behind Brandon Morin to a win over Weymouth in the semifinals after starting in place of injured tailback Nick Schlatz. It would give B-R a lift if Schlatz can recover from a shoulder injury sustained in a Thanksgiving Day win over Brockton
X-factor: Really it just comes down to which team blocks its assignments better. It’s simple as that.

Barboza: This might be the most difficult game to forecast, but I’m giving the edge to Gloucester’s experience. Gloucester, 16-14.

Hall: This might be the best matchup of the day. Power versus power, strength versus strength. Gloucester has more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, but I like the way this B-R team has been running the ball this last month. Against Dan Buron’s wishes, of course, I’m picking the Trojans to avenge 2009 and put an end to the Fish's 25-game win streak. B-R, 17-14.

DIVISION 2
Mansfield (11-1) vs. Reading (12-0), 3:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium
Mansfield players to watch:
RB Jamel Marshall, QB George Busharis, WR Blayne Taylor, OL/DL Sean Otto, OL/DL Kyle McGuire, OL/DL Anthony Todesco, WR Jeff Hill.
Reading players to watch: QB/DB Brian Bourque, OL/DL Jeff Covitz, OL/DL Anthony Fodera, RB Larry Gilligan, RB Zack Bates, WR Sean Gildea, WR Connor Sheehan.
The skinny: The defending Division 2 Super Bowl champ Rockets come into Saturday on a 25-game win streak, albeit by a thread after some late heroics from Bourque and Covitz allowed them to escape their home turf with a 15-14 thriller over Dracut. With Bourque spearheading a shotgun-oriented rushing attack, the Rockets have amassed 42 rushing touchdowns going into Saturday. The Hornets, meanwhile, are back at Gillette for the second time in three years thanks to a stalwart defense led by McGuire at defensive tackle, and the workhorse carrying load of Marshall. This Mansfield squad, known for its Wing-T, isn't afraid to pass the ball more than in years past, with the arm of Busharis. Taylor and Hill, the latter of whom caught three touchdowns in Tuesday's 28-0 shutout of Walpole, have emerged as downfield threats the last few weeks.
X-factor: Covitz, with his above-average leg strength and low center of gravity, has been the most irreplaceable guy on the offensive line, and is generally been a nuisance for opposing offensive linemen coming off the edge. With that in mind, picking up the blitz will be crucial for the Hornets.

Barboza: When it's on the line, Marshall is just too explosive. Mansfield, 17-14.

Hall: Stan Andre, the one who kicked off this whole win streak, was in the house Tuesday night to take in the Reading game. I'm sure he said something to them in the ecstatic locker room after the game, and I'm sure it's going to count late in the fourth quarter. Reading, 28-27.

DIVISION IIA
Duxbury (12-0) vs. Concord-Carlisle (10-2), 1:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium
Duxbury players to watch:
QB Matt O’Keefe, DB/QB Kane Haffey, OL/DL Brett Harasimowicz, TE/DE Don Webber, RB/DB Reilly Naton.
Concord-Carlisle players to watch: RB George Craan; QB Peter George; RB/LB Jabrail Coy; LB Evan Boynton.
The skinny: These are two very stingy defenses with the Green Dragons allowing just 10.8 points per game and the Patriots have surrendered a shade under 13 points per game. Make no mistake, these teams can also move the ball. Duxbury thrives with its complement of Kane Haffey and Matt O’Keefe at quarterback. Concord-Carlisle can always depend on George Craan and his 1,600-plus yards out of the backfield.
X-factor: The Patriots and their fans know what to expect out of Craan, but if sophomore Tim Badgley can repeat his five-carry, 109-yard performance from their semifinal against North Andover, C-C’s chances for victory would greatly improve.

Barboza: One last time, I’ll pull this one out. The “Double Dragons” of O’Keefe and Haffey will lead them to victory. Duxbury, 21-20

Hall: Yes, that’s right, I called Duxbury’s defense “Duxbury Swag District” yesterday on our podcast. I am tragically lame, and slightly out of control. Duxbury, 24-10

DIVISION 3
Beverly (6-6) vs. Somerset (12-0), 11 a.m. at Gillette Stadium
Somerset players to watch:
RB/LB Seth DeMello; RB/DB Jaron Spear; OT/DT Ian Levesque; RB/LB Alex Estrella; QB Adam Ledoux.
Beverly players to watch: RB/DB Brendan Flaherty, QB/DB Joe Wioncek, OL/DL George Kallas, RB/DB Nick Theriault, LB Mark Giles, OL/DL Andrew Cannata.
The skinny: Somerset’s 28-0 win over Dighton-Rehoboth in the semifinals was a prototypical Blue Raiders game. Both Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear finished with over 100 yards rushing as Somerset bled the clock dry in the second half. Meanwhile, Beverly – the official Cinderella squad of the 2010 playoffs — showed that they truly belonged with a 41-14 thrashing of Scituate. Will the Blue Raiders prevail and finish a perfect season? Or can the Panthers keep the magic alive? It’s the quintessential favorite vs. underdog.
X-factor: The teams’ lines. For Division 3 schools, both of these squads have good sized linemen. Six-foot-five, 315-pound lineman Ian Levesque is a mountain on the Blue Raider line, but is agile as well. George Kallas is an immovable object on the Panther line.

Barboza: Not only is the double wing difficult for any team to run, but the Blue Raiders have all the right elements to run it to its best. Somerset, 28-14

Hall: Clock strikes midnight on Beverly, as two wings are better than one. Somerset, 21-10

DIVISION 3A
Holliston (11-1) vs. Cardinal Spellman (12-0), 9 a.m., Gillette Stadium
Holliston players to watch:
RB/LB Kevin Curry, QB Sean Mayo, TE/DE Ryan Barrett, RB/DB Jake Frechette, WR/DB Christian Baker, OL/LB Ethan Rayner, OL/DL Kevin Lamarcque.
Spellman players to watch: RB/DB Blaise Branch, FB/LB Jared Lordi, RB/DB Jordan Williams, QB Zac Cooney.
The skinny: The 11-1 Panthers come into Saturday averaging just a hair under 40 points a game, with Mayo as the triggerman. Even in limited playing time -- the Panthers often pulled their starters in the third or fourth quarter -- the dual-threat quarterback put up 1,723 yards through the air, with 21 touchdown passes to only five interceptions, and also added 456 yards and nine scores on the ground. Spellman, in its third year under Ron St. George, had a remarkable turnaround, going from 2-9 to undefeated and in its first Super Bowl since 1992. At the forefront of St. George's vaunted Wing-T scheme is the senior Branch, who leads Eastern Mass with 36 rushing touchdowns. But over the last few games, defenses have had to worry more and more about Lordi and Williams.
X-factor: The Bryant-bound Barrett, at 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds, was a matchup problem all year long in the Tri-Valley League. And while he's not putting up the most gaudy numbers at tight end and was used more as a blocking back, his combination of size, speed and athleticism demands airtight coverage from the linebackers and helps open up the Panthers' offense.

Barboza: Panthers' rallying cry: 'We Don't Get Fooled Again". Holliston, 31-24

Hall: The Panthers came to Gillette last December and got manhandled. Guarantee you that's been fresh on their minds this week, and for that I think they avoid the same early mistakes that doomed them in 2009. Holliston, 25-20

DIVISION 4
Shawsheen (10-1) vs. Blue Hills (10-1), 10 a.m., Curry College
Shawsheen players to watch: OL/DL David Summiel, QB Ryan Woolaver, RB Andrew Dascoli, WR Rob Greenwood.
Blue Hills players to watch: RB Vincent Burton, RB Isaiah Teixeira, OL/DL Jamarr Goff, QB John Curran
The skinny: Shawsheen, on the heels of a 21-0 shutout of Madison Park in Tuesday night’s playoffs, is on a roll defensively. The Rams haven’t allowed a point in 19 quarters, dating back to a 41-6 win over Lynn Tech on October 15. Dascoli is the Rams’ workhorse back, while Greeenwood is their top threat at receiver. The Warriors, rested from a bye on Tuesday night, are led by Vincent Burton and his Division 4-best 30 touchdowns.
X-factor: The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Summiel might be the biggest catalyst for this incredible Shawsheen run. Playing right offensive tackle and left defensive end, Summiel paved the way for 118 rushing yards from leading rusher Dascoli, and also preserved a fourth straight shutout.

Barboza: The week off will certainly benefit Blue Hills, but the Rams defense is stout. Shawsheen, 14-7

Hall: Logic says to go with Blue Hills, as they’ll be well-rested thanks to their bye. But this Shawsheen defense is an absolute wagon by Division 4 standards, and for that I’m giving them another shutout to finish off what’s been a remarkable run over the last six weeks. Shawsheen, 21-0

DIVISION 4-A
Brighton (9-2) vs. Northeast (10-2), 1 p.m. at Curry College

Brighton players to watch: RB/LB Andrew Maestre, RB Dwight Kennedy, QB Jonathan Marrero, OL/DL Patrick Jean, WR Olumide Olukoga.
Northeast players to watch: RB/DB Bobby Novello; RB/DB Mike Cross; OL/DE Ryan Adams; FB/DE Ian Bagby; TE/LB A.J. Ortiz.
The skinny: You'd be hard pressed to find a hotter defense in the state than the Golden Knights, who have now pitched six shutouts after a 42-0 blanking of Pope John Tuesday. Their next challenge lies in the Bengals. A Division 4-A Super Bowl participant last year, Brighton’s offense is led by running back Andrew Maestre and quarterback Jonathan Marrerro, each of whom ran for two touchdowns in their 36-13 win over West Bridgewater on Tuesday.
X-factor: Brighton wide receiver Olumide Olukoga is the favorite target of Marrerro, but he’s also dangerous in the return game. Olukoga had a 41-yard kickoff return to set up Maestre’s first touchdown of the game. At this stage, with two talented teams, special teams play always comes to bear.

Barboza: Can’t pick against the Northeast defense, but the Bengals will put some points on the board. Northeast, 23-17

Hall: I used to live in Brighton Centre, and my neighbors were awesome. Go grab a bite at Smoken’ Joe’s when you get a chance, and make sure you get the Kansas City Sticky. Brighton, 21-17.

The View from Somerset

December, 2, 2010
12/02/10
7:58
PM ET
ESPNBoston's Brendan Hall checked in with Somerset captains Seth DeMello, Jaron Spear, Alex Estrella, Adam Ledoux, and Kyle Walker this morning on the turf at Gillette Stadium:

What we learned: Super Tuesday thoughts

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
11:16
PM ET
A RAIDERS’ PLUNDER
From the time Alex Estrella took a punt return 56 yards for a touchdown off the first series of the game, things didn’t look good for Dave Driscoll’s Dighton-Rehoboth team. What put the Falcons at such a disadvantage in trying to come back in their Division III semifinal was Somerset’s clock-draining double wing ground game.

Both of the Blue Raiders’ featured backs, Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear, were over 100 yards rushing on the night in Somerset’s 28-0 win.

The Falcons could manage just 51 yards in the first half and, in the second half, the Blue Raiders engaged in a ball-control game, possessing the ball for nearly 14 minutes of the second half.

Although teams may know what’s coming, the double wing is hard to defend. And it only helps that Somerset has the right players to get the job done.

“It’s all about the personnel,” Driscoll said of Somerset’s offense. “You’ve got to be quick and you’ve got to be athletic. [Seth] DeMello is very physical and [Jaron] Spear is very fast. So they have everything, plus the quarterback [Adam Ledoux] can throw and he’s athletic.

“They have all the pieces of the puzzle. You can see it on defense, too, how athletic they are and how quick to the ball they are.”

SOMETHING MOORE
St. John’s Prep sophomore running back Alex Moore doesn’t see the ball too often, but he does have one play in the Eagles’ playbook that he calls his own. It’s called 800 Rocket Right, Counter Left, and it worked to perfection in the Prep’s 35-7 win over New Bedford.

Moore had already made his presence felt against the Whalers, taking an interception back 61 yards for a touchdown on the fourth play from scrimmage. After the Eagles went out to a 13-0 lead on Dillon Gonzalez’s punt return for a touchdown, they were on the move again and cashed in on Moore’s 20-yard run in the second quarter.

“It’s really designed to score a touchdown every time,” Moore said Tuesday.

READING'S COVITZ IS A LOAD TO HANDLE
In the moments following Reading's thrilling 15-14 victory over Dracut last night, Jeff Covitz gushed about his former coach, late assistant Mike Boyd, and how his battle with lung cancer still emboldens the Rockets some 18 months after his death.

"He never quit," Covitz told reporters. "Up until the day he died, he never quit. I always think about Coach Boyd. Even when I'm exhausted, and just want to pass out right on the field, you never quit on this team. You never want to quit on your family. You never quit on coaches."

So with that said, if Covitz was exhausted in the four minutes following Brian Bourque's go-ahead two-point conversion run, he did a great job showing it. He sacked Dracut's Matt Silva twice in the final minutes to seal it for the Rockets, and send them back to Gillette to defend their Division 2 Super Bowl title.

LORDY, LORDI
Looking at the stat sheet, maybe you think you have Cardinal Spellman figured out -- Blaise Branch right, Blaise Branch left, rinse, repeat -- and with 36 rushing touchdowns on the season, we don't blame you. But flying under the radar, and providing some crucial punch in the fourth quarter when the Cardinals were trying to hold off Hamilton-Wenham momentum, was fullback Jared Lordi. Typically, Lordi will create holes out of the backfield for Branch, and so far the Cardinals have run head coach Ron St. George's Wing-T scheme exceptionally.

But on this particular night, he provided some spark when the Cardinals got stagnant. His 20-yard catch on fourth and 13 set up a Zac Cooney eight-yard keeper that made it 21-9 in the fourth quarter. Then, with a minute left, he closed the scoring -- and sealed the win -- with a 20-yard fade to the near left pylon, making it a 28-16 final.

"That was great to see," Branch smiled when asked about Lordi's touchdown. "Good to see that. I wish we could get our linemen to do that too."

Said H-W head coach Andrew Morency, "Tough kid. It's funny, you know, they crossed us up a little bit with that play, and in the end we felt like they had shown in films that they could have done that. You know, we got kinda caught up in the moments stopping Branch a little bit, and boom, they come back with that. He ran hard, and he got them a couple of first downs that they really needed at that time. Hats off to that fullback."

Estrella's punt return sparks Somerset romp

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
3:39
AM ET


TAUNTON, Mass. – Alex Estrella views his job as a punt returner to be simple.

It only involves darting behind the wedge set in front of him, gaining the outside edge and then running as fast as he can to the end zone.

“It’s that easy,” the Somerset senior said.

In premise, it is easy, but not always so easily accomplished.

However, Estrella made it look natural as the Blue Raiders rode the momentum created by his 56-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the first quarter to cruise past boarder rival Dighton-Rehoboth, 28-0, in the Division 3 Eastern Mass semifinal on Tuesday.

“It was a good thing,” Blue Raiders head coach Nick Freitas said plainly. “It always helps when you can win the battle on special teams. It definitely helped to set the tone.”

Somerset (12-0) would strike again one minute after Estrella’s score. A Falcons fumble recovered by Edward Matanes set up shop for the Blue Raiders at the D-R 30-yard line. It took just one play for Jaron Spear to find the end zone on a 30-yard carry.

“We couldn’t have started off any worse, with them running that [punt] back and us fumbling,” Falcons head coach Dave Driscoll said. “Right away, we’re down 14-0 to a team that’s undefeated.”

D-R’s unenviable position became direr when Adam Ledoux took in the quarterback sneak from a yard out for a 21-0 Somerset lead with 1:13 remaining in the first half.

The Falcons (10-2) showed some resistance, however, and threatened to score before the half was out. A 47-yard kickoff return by Bryan Rocha had D-R starting at the Blue Raiders’ 35. The Falcons weren’t able to crack the end zone though as John Kyle Silva’s pass went incomplete on a third and goal from the 7-yard line to end the half.

D-R managed only 51 yards of offense in the first half.

Somerset added some insurance on a 41-yard screen pass from Ledoux to Spear in the third quarter.

From then on, the Blue Raiders continued to bleed the clock and chew up yards on the ground. Running out of the double wing Spear (14 carries, 102 yards) and Seth DeMello (19 carries, 121 yards) were too much to contain.

“It’s going to have to be a real good team to beat them,” Driscoll said of Somerset, his alma mater.

The team that will be posed that task Saturday is Beverly, which at 6-6 qualified to play at Gillette Stadium for the Division 3 Super Bowl with a 41-14 win over Scituate on Tuesday.

“We have the school behind us,” Estrella said. “It’s been a rallying point and it’s a goal that we set for ourselves back in January, when we were lifting, running. This is what it’s all about.”

Somerset 14 7 7 0 -- 28
D-R 0 0 0 0 -- 0

First quarter
S Alex Estrella 56-yard punt return (T.J. Eisle kick)
S Jaron Spear 30-yard run (Eisle kick)

Second quarter
S Adam Ledoux 1-yard run (Eisle kick)

Third quarter
S Jaron Spear 41-yard pass from Ledoux (Eisle kick)

No. 20 Somerset secures EAC title

November, 13, 2010
11/13/10
4:42
AM ET


SOMERSET, Mass. – Somerset’s run to the 2010 Eastern Athletic Conference championship began last December.

“We were in there lifting from about two weeks after the end of last season,” Blue Raiders offensive and defensive tackle Ian Levesque said. “We were so close to winning the EAC last year that it was all we could think about.”

There were days when Levesque said his legs were so tired he could barely get up the steps to his front door. Yet, after enduing a fast-paced 49-28 shootout with defending EAC champion Bishop Feehan and running the gauntlet to a 10-0 record, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound lineman seemed happy enough he could have levitated off the field having seen his hard work pay off.

“There was definitely an air of something different this week,” said head coach Nick Freitas, who led the No. 20 Blue Raiders to their first football league title in nearly three decades.

Freitas wasn’t about to let his team look past Feehan, which trudged an unlikely road to set up Friday’s winner-take-all matchup on County Street.

The Shamrocks lost their first five games out of the chute, but redeemed themselves with a four-game winning streak, including three conference games.

Freitas installed a sign reading “What did you do to beat Feehan today?” In the spirit of the Golden Domers, their opponents, it was a reminder not only to play like a champion, but practice like one.

“Their record doesn’t show how good of a team they are,” Levesque said. “They played a bunch of good teams early in the year. We knew we had to come to this game really focused, really prepared. [This week,] practices went a little bit longer, film sessions went a little bit longer. Everybody had to be on the ball and have that mentality to not give up at any point in the game.”

The Blue Raiders showed their resolve, embarking on a 14-play touchdown drive on their first possession with Seth DeMello punching in the first of his six touchdowns. The 17-yard score from Adam LeDoux saw the Somerset offense in a bit of a different light. Running back Jaron Spear also connected with DeMello on a passing play for a 42-yard score in the second quarter.

DeMello, who ran for 245 on 20 carries, added rushing touchdowns of 3, 39, 88 and 13 yards, respectively.

Alex Estrella also had a touchdown run of 11 yards in the second quarter.

The Shamrocks received stellar quarterback play from junior Andrew Murphy, who completed 13 of 21 pass attempts for 312 yards and three touchdowns.

"I didn't feel safe until it was down to point-six second left on the clock there," Freitas said.

By that time, Freitas had already been doused in a congratulatory water bath by his team. Nick Almeida finished the game with emphasis with the fifth Somerset sack of Murphy.

Then, and only then, could the celebration truly begin.

Bishop Feehan 0 14 7 7 -- 28
Somerset 7 21 7 14 -- 49

First quarter
Somerset Seth DeMello 17-yard pass from Adam LeDoux (T.J. Eisle kick)

Second quarter
Somerset DeMello 3-yard run (Eisle kick)
Bishop Feehan O'Brian McHayle 57-yard run (Matt Allen kick)
Somerset DeMello 42-yard pass from Jaron Spear (Eisle kick)
Somerset Alex Estrella 11-yard run (Eisle kick)
Bishop Feehan Brandon Cole 13-yard pass from Andrew Murphy (Allen kick)

Third quarter
Somerset DeMello 39-yard run (Eisle kick)
Bishop Feehan William Firth 24-yard pass from Murphy (Allen kick)

Fourth quarter
Somerset DeMello 88-yard run (Eisle kick)
Bishop Feehan O'Brian McHayle 56-yard pass from Murphy (Allen kick)
Somerset DeMello 13-yard run (Eisle kick)

What We Learned: Week 9

November, 8, 2010
11/08/10
1:54
PM ET
WARRIORS CAME OUT TO PLAY
Lincoln-Sudbury’s success might have come a year earlier than expected.

Pitted against Dual Country League (Large) rival Acton-Boxborough and the Colonials’ stout defense, a young Warrior team claimed their own destiny with a 10-7 win on Senior Night in Sudbury.

L-S has only two seniors starting on either side of the ball (Benjamin Forman, Zach Smerlas, Lawrence Stevenson and Ryan Swoyer) and relies heavily on its strong junior class. The Warriors also received key contributions from a couple of sophomores in the victory over A-B. Running back Christopher Georgio punched in the Warriors’ lone touchdown of the game. In addition, fellow second-year player Brian Carroll pocketed a key fourth-quarter interception along with a strong contribution in the running game with nine carries for 72 yards.

Clearly, L-S has come a long way in a short period of time.

“I never thought we’d be at this point,” Warriors head coach Tom Lopez told Scott Barboza after the game, “especially after that loss to Tewksbury at home.”

From that point on, L-S strung together three straight wins before hitting a couple bumps in the road with losses coming at Concord-Carlisle and at home to Reading. The Warriors righted their ship with league wins over Waltham and Westford to put themselves in position for the big matchup with A-B.

L-S still needs to win one game over Boston Latin or on Thanksgiving against Newton South to sew up the DCL crown.

“We just need to keep things rolling,” senior running back Marc Pace said. “All we need to do is win.”

THANKSGIVING CORNUCOPIA
It’s not that far away (heck, you can ever hear Christmas music round some parts) to start thinking about Thanksgiving. And, if all holds true to form, here’s a smattering of holiday traditions around Eastern Mass. that could have a greater significance this year:
  • Walpole at Weymouth: It has no bearing on either team’s postseason destiny, but both sides would like nothing better than to disrupt the other side’s potential run at a perfect regular-season slate.
  • St. John’s Prep at Xaverian: Provided neither team is upset this weekend, Turkey Day is shaping up to be a winner-takes-all contest for the Catholic Conference.
  • Dracut at Methuen: This one should be entertaining nonetheless and expect there to be plenty of points on the board when all is said and done. In addition, it could decide which team moves on from the Merricmack Valley Small.
  • Lowell Catholic at Pope John: The winner of the Catholic Central Small clash could be headed to the Division IV-A playoffs.
  • Abington at Whitman-Hanson: Worth noting that it is the 100th anniversary of the rivalry.
FOR ALL THE MARBLES … ONCE AGAIN
OK, so we thought the battle of Somerset and Martha’s Vineyard was the Eastern Athletic Championship game, but who saw Bishop Feehan getting into the fray this late into the season? Although the Shamrocks are 4-5 overall, they are 3-0 in the EAC, thus staging the league’s second in-season Super Bowl Friday in Somerset.

HOLLISTON CAN'T WAIT FOR ITS REMATCH WITH MEDWAY; DITTO MEDWAY, VICE-VERSA
The Medway Mustangs couldn't help but feel overjoyed when the final seconds ticked off on their 28-18 victory over Norton, to send them to Saturday night's Tri-Valley League championship game. So, too, was Holliston, no doubt licking its chops since the Mustangs shocked the region with a 28-16 upset back in early October.

"This is the matchup they've been waiting for since October 1," Holliston coach Todd Kiley told ESPNBoston's Brendan Hall. "We haven't overlooked anybody by any stretch, but you know it's in the back of their minds, they're kids of course. So we're fired up for that. I think they were secretly rooting for Medway today."

BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM IS STILL THE CLASS OF THE OLD COLONY
The Trojans' gameplan last Friday night against Barnstable was classic Dan Buron. The B-R coach is known for always having great run blocking out of power formations, and in this particular matchup he used it to set up play action waggles that kept the young Red Raiders defenders on their feet. Quarterback Billy Zolga completed his first seven passes, as the Trojans burst out to a 35-6 halftime lead.

"I thought it was very important (to keep them honest with the pass), because they were creeping up on us," Buron said. "I thought there were two passes in particular -- one to Delullis and one to (Branden) Morin where they had it covered and those kids slid, and Billy was poised and threw a nice ball...I thought Billy showed alot of poise tonight."

Zolga, also starting in the secondary that night to combat the Raiders' talented receiving corps, essentially sealed it in the fourth quarter with a pick-six of a D.J. Crook pass over the middle, essentially wrapping up the Old Colony League title for the second straight year. Even if the Trojans were to lose this week to Taunton, they're in based on head-to-head with Barnstable.

In other words, the road to Gillette still goes through Bridgewater.

HEAD OF THE CLASS
VALVOLINE PEAK PERFORMER OF THE WEEK: ANDREW COKE, ANDOVER

The junior running back was at it once again for the Golden Warriors, carrying the ball 30 times for a season-high 290 yards and all five touchdowns in a 36-20 win over Billerica to improve to 6-3. That gives Coke four 200-yard games on the season, and 1,447 yards in nine games this year, averaging 6.5 yards a carry. In all but two games this season, Coke has run for at least 130 yards.

THE CLASSMATES
Ray Holloway, Sr. RB, East Longmeadow - He was a dominant force for the Spartans in their 27-3 win over Springfield Putnam, rushing for 225 yards and three scores to keep EL undefeated.

Isaiah Jones, Sr. RB, Mahar: Needed only six carries to rack up 200 yards and four touchdowns against Turners Falls.

Mike Mercadante, Sr. RB, Minnechaug - Western Mass.'s leading rusher went off for 232 yards and two scores as the Falcons toppled Agawam, 41-20.

T.J. Norris, Jr. RB, Longmeadow: Led the Lancers to a 39-24 win over Westfield with 16 carries for 235 yards and three touchdowns.

Jaron Spear, Sr. TB, Somerset: Not be outdone by Jones, Spear’s line from Friday night: Four touches, 172 yards, four touchdowns.

Mitch Temple, Sr. QB, Weymouth - Threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns in the Wildcats' 42-0 shutout of Wellesley, which clinched them a berth in the Division 1A playoffs.

What We Learned: Week 6

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
3:06
PM ET




So another new No. 1? Yep, we think so.

Here's What We Learned this weekend:

THE BEST DEFENSE AGAINST EVERETT? SAY "NITE NITE"
Everett running back/linebacker Vondell Langston, like the rest of his charismatic teammates, couldn't help but get a little giddy after the Tide's jaw-dropping fourth-quarter shutdown of the state's No. 1 team, Xaverian. So when asked about the message written across each strip of eye-blackener on his cheeks -- "NITE" was written across each one, so that it read "NITE NITE" going across -- the 6-foot, 200-pound junior was happy to explain.

"This was to put all the hype away, that we ain't even listening to it," he said.

But after a drubbing as impressive as this one -- the Tide held the Hawks' vaunted rushing attack to just 83 yards total -- Everett is undoubtedly the hype. And they'll get their first big test as No. 1 this Friday night when they travel to Viola Stadium to take on the Eagles of Boston College High, themselves coming off a 49-0 smattering of New Jersey power Hudson Catholic.

Not only did the Tide show deceivingly consistent balance between the run and pass, with Langston and quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso showing poise at both aspects of the game, but they're continuing to prove over and over just how tough it is to slow them through the air. Bottle up the lightning-quick, Boston College-bound Manny Asprilla, and deep ball threat Matt Costello will go off for career numbers, carving precise sideline routes. Bottle up Costello, as Joe Colton did exceptionally in Saturday's contest, and Asprilla will torch you.

Asprilla had a hand in all of the 22 fourth-quarter points by the Tide, first making a leaping catch over the middle to set up Langston's go-ahead plunge; then hauling in a 22-yard touchdown slant on fourth and 10; and finally returning an interception Ed Reed-style, 48 yards to paydirt with a bevy of shimmy and shake.

"It seems like, from week to week, teams have been following whoever had the big week last week," Costello said. "If Manny [Asprilla] has a big game, they’re spotting him, or whoever it is. And we have so many players who can catch the ball and make plays that somebody’s going to get open."

Added head coach John DiBiaso on having so many targets, including Kenny Kalaj and Jakarrie Washington, "It makes a big difference. I have a lot of confidence to throw to Manny, Matt, any of our receivers. You look at the defense, see what they’re giving you and then you try to take what they’re giving you."

DiBiaso later joked to the group of reporters that he can't wait for the new rankings to come out Monday morning and find somebody else at No. 1.

"I like us better when we have a chip on our shoulder," DiBiaso laughed.

And just for kicks...ESPNBoston.com high school editor Brendan Hall was the only Boston writer to pick Everett to win the game. According to highschoolsportspage.com, which tracks all of the Boston writers' weekly picks, Hall was 27 for 28 on week six picks, good enough to blow away the rest of the field with a 96 percent clip.

And while we're at it, Scott Barboza also picked the field with a solid B-plus [89 percent, but didn't pick Everett (Wah, wah, wah)] while picking 28 contests, which again begs the question: When is everybody else going to step up their game?

ISL ISN'T QUITE SO TOP-HEAVY -- LEAST, NOT YET
"There’s two ways to play our team," Lawrence Academy head coach Mike Taylor told ESPNBoston correspondent Corey Allen following the Spartans' 20-7 win over Governor's Academy. "Either you lay down and die, or fight. These guys did a heck of a job fighting."

Right now, several schools are willing to tango with the four-headed monster from Groton. Had Dan Giovacchini not stopped Elijah Morrissey on fourth down late in the game, we might be talking a whole other story. The Mark Gerry-coached Governors dressed just 27 players against the 4-0 Spartans, who have four players committed to BCS schools and a line that averages nearly 300 pounds across, and came away with a moral victory that should give them momentum the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, BB&N showed no glaring signs of weakness in its 40-20 win over Milton Academy. With elite quarterback Charlie Story out for the Mustangs, BB&N found itself defending some trickeration (see: Wildcat) to start the game. But once things settled down, junior running back/linebacker Chris Coady (23 carries, 241 yards, three touchdowns) showed why he is quickly becoming one of the state's most sought-after 2012 recruits.

Coady, a re-classified junior who visited Duke this past weekend, currently holds lacrosse scholarships from Syracuse, Brown and Harvard (he was a defenseman on St. John's Prep's Division 1 state champion squad last spring). And that lacrosse agility has translated well on the gridiron for the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder.

"He's unbelievable. The kid's a tremendous football player," head coach John Papas told ESPNBoston's Brendan Hall. "To make this transition on both sides of the ball, from quarterback and free safety to running back and linebacker, he's truly been amazing. You saw him, I mean he's strong as a horse, and he's getting better every week. That's the scary part about it."

Meanwhile, Rivers is off to one of the best starts in school history thanks to its tandem of Roxbury cousins and Division 1 prospects Ben Patrick and Taariq Allen. Patrick, who has interest from a number of FCS schools, has nine touchdowns and 837 rushing yards on 86 carries through the first four games. Meanwhile his cousin -- who de-committed from UConn last month and still holds offers from Wisconsin and Nebraska -- has been a threat through the air (23 catches, 332 yards) and ground (24 carries, 233 yards). A win this Saturday against Milton Academy would clinch the first winning football season since 1982.

It should also be noted that St. George's -- the team which caused quite a stir two weeks ago when it decided to forfeit rather than play Lawrence -- notched its first win of the season last Saturday, a 20-8 decision over reportedly-smaller St. Mark's.

THIRTY AND COUNTING FOR AUBURN
The last time the two-time defending Division 2 Super Bowl champs lost to an opponent, period, was Sept. 19, 2008, to Winthrop. The last time they lost within the Central Mass region? You have to go back to November of 2007, when the Rockets dropped a close one to David Prouty, 14-7, a week after getting smoked 42-7 by rival Northbridge.

Jeremy Lavallee (513 rushing yards) has been the stalwart of the Rockets' offense, while Worcester South transfer Atta Oweso carried last weekend's 26-0 shutout of Quabbin with two scores himself. Meanwhile, the defense is allowing just 6.3 points per game, including impressive decisions over Shrewsbury (6-2) and Northbridge (21-7).

Any talk about the Rockets on track to matching Acton-Boxborough's state record of 52 games has to be silly at this point -- it would still take a full two seasons to get within distance. But with just one team with a winning record left on its regular season slate (Thanksgiving, versus Oxford), an undefeated three-peat certainly isn't out of the question.

ROCK 'EM, SOCK 'EM SOUTH SHORE
What a buzzsaw the top of the South Shore League has turned out to be.

None who were in attendance will soon forget Rockland’s hard-fought 9-8 win over Cohasset on Friday. But what is the Bulldogs’ reward for knocking off the reigning co-league champions? A matchup with another of the South Shore’s unbeatens, Abington.

“We feel good about this one, we can celebrate a little,” Bulldogs fullback Mike Driscoll told Scott Barboza Friday night. “But we’re going to put this one behind us pretty quick and it’s all about Abington on Monday.”

The Green Wave is also 6-0 overall with a 3-0 South Shore record and is coming off an impressive 22-6 win over another quality league foe, Mashpee.

“We’re just going one week at a time,” Driscoll added. “We can’t look past anybody.”

RAIDERS STORM THE VINEYARD
Somerset head coach Nick Freitas let out a sigh and said, “It always feels good after a win.”

Talking via telephone Monday morning, there was a feeling Freitas might have had his feet up on the desk while saying so.

That’s because his Raiders have made it look easy at 6-0. Their average margin of victory has been about 22 points per game, led by the dynamic running duo of Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear.

On Friday night, the midpoint Eastern Athletic Conference championship game took place on Martha’s Vineyard with a battle of unbeatens. Somerset left the island leaving no question who is the best team in EAC, after a 40-0 blanking of the Vineyarders. Quarterback Adam Ledoux and DeMello each registered three rushing touchdowns. DeMello, the bruising running back, finished with 24 carries for 228 yards in addition to 42 receiving yards.

Barring any hiccups in their remaining league games at Coyle-Cassidy (Nov. 5) and versus Bishop Feehan (Nov. 12), the Raiders should be playing beyond Thanksgiving.

HEAD OF THE CLASS
VALVOLINE PEAK PERFORMER OF THE WEEK: SETH DeMELLO, SR. RB, SOMERSET

It’s easy to overhype Somerset’s win 40-0 win over Martha’s Vineyard as the be-all, end-all in the Eastern Athletic Conference this season. However, you cannot undersell DeMello’s performance against the Vineyarders. The hard-nosed runner registered 24 carries for 228 yards and three touchdowns. DeMello also created balance in the Raiders’ attack with 42 receiving yards.

THE CLASSMATES
Manny Asprilla, Sr. WR/CB, Everett – What didn’t the BC-bound speedster do? Asprilla’s five catches for 80 yards and one touchdown don’t tell the true story of what he contributed to Everett’s win over Xaverian. His 47-yard interception return for a touchdown was an athletic display.

Chris Coady, Jr. RB/LB , BB&N – Coady put in another impressive performance with 241 rushing yards on 23 carries with three touchdowns in a 40-20 win over Milton Academy. He also registered seven tackles on defense.

Mike Driscoll, Sr. FB, Rockland – Driscoll’s touchdown and 117 tough-gained yards were the driving force behind the Bulldogs’ win over Cohasset.

Kemani Jones, Sr. RB, Milton — Jones ran roughshod over Dedham, led by his 325 yards on 16 carries with touchdown runs of 24, 17 and 82 yards, respectively.

Mike Mercadante, Sr. RB, Minnechaug -- The 5-foot-11, 220-pound senior had a career night for the Falcons last Friday's 50-38 shootout win over Holyoke. He carried the ball 26 times for 256 yards and six touchdowns, and caught three passes for 32 yards and a seventh touchdown.

Paul McCarthy, Sr. QB, North Attleborough - It was a highly efficient performance for Big Red’s signal-caller, going 7 of 8 for 173 passing yards and four touchdowns in a win over Canton. McCarthy also had a rushing touchdown of 55 yards.

Trae Musumarra, Sr. RB/LB, Central Catholic – Musumarra took over in a 40-32 win over Lowell, running for 162 yards and six touchdowns, three of which came in the first quarter.

Ben Patrick, Sr. RB, Rivers - Patrick continued to tear things up with 25 carries for 227 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Brooks. Through four games, Patrick has 837 rushing yards and is averaging 9.7 yards a carry, while Allen has accumulated 565 yards of offense through the ground and air.

Richard Rodgers, Sr. WR/DE, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Maybe someday we’ll them the “Richard Rodgers Player of the Week Awards”. Sound good? Thought so. Another 7-catch, 92-yard performance and chipped in two sacks against St. John’s Prep.

Zach Zaniboni, Jr. RB, Plymouth North – Eighty one rushing yards don’t exactly jump off the page, but consider that Zaniboni did so on just six carries while breaking off a 50-yard touchdown that was all the Eagles would need in a 15-0 league win over Marshfield. That should pretty much do it.

Somerset doubling up to success

October, 15, 2010
10/15/10
2:31
PM ET
SOMERSET, Mass. -- Nick Freitas recalls the final preseason scrimmage of the 2006 preseason, a tussle with Wareham when he was Somerset High's defensive coordinator. He watched as the Vikings plowed away time and again with a daunting double-wing offensive scheme that pulverized opponents that season behind two future Division 1 players, offensive tackle Shea Allard (Delaware) and quarterback/defensive end Mike Laperriere (Northeastern).

And from then on, Freitas was instantly hooked, spending countless hours digging up whatever he could find on the throwback offense, a two tight end set with one-inch line splits, two wing backs and a fullback two yards behind the quarterback.

Others' playbooks might be thick. But the premise with this scheme is decidedly more straightforward and simplex, requiring good trap blocking, misdirection handoffs and a tough-minded quarterback who isn't afraid to throw his elbows around. When the quarterback rolls out for a pass, his tight ends and receivers aren't demonstrating the entire tree. Yet at the same time, the tight splits and backfield alignments give way to convoys of blockers at the point of attack, and takes away teams' blitz packages.

"The great thing about this offense is it's easy to learn," senior running back Alex Estrella said. "You can put someone in a position and they get the basics in two hours, whereas in a spread it might take weeks."

Since the system was installed at Somerset in the summer of 2009, the Blue Raiders are 13-3, including a 5-0 mark headed into tonight's matchup at 4-0 Martha's Vineyard. So far this season, the Raiders are averaging nearly 330 yards a game on the ground, and 31.8 points per game (second-best in Division 3), thanks to a slew of running backs led by LeDoux, Estrella, Jaron Spear, Seth DeMello and Josh Zadjel; in the trenches, the Raiders move the chains as 6-foot-4, 280-pound Division 1 prospect Ian Levescque does.

"It's very tough to stop. I think it's an equalizer, in regards to less talented teams," Freitas said. "I looked at it from a defensive coordinator, and liked the fact that it controls the clock. When you don't have numbers like I wish we had (the Raiders dress just over 30 on their varsity), where we can't give kids blows and stuff, the philosophy we teach is that it's better to give than receive -- it's like Christmas -- so we like being on offense and controlling the clock."

Said senior quarterback Adam Ledoux, "You always have two-on-ones. You've got two smaller kids who are fast, going up against a big kid who might not be used to double-teams and getting blown off the ball."

"Plus," Levesque added. "It's an offense that wears defenses down. Defenses are gassed by the end of the game."

So if it's that easy, why don't more teams run it? As Estrella notes, it's not for everyone. But this system seems to blend in fittingly to the grind-it-out identity of this blue-collar town nestled just across the Taunton River from Fall River.

"We're hard-nosed football players, always ready to go out there and make plays, do their jobs," Ledoux said. "Offseason, we're lifting every day year-round. We're just going to work harder than you are."

A typical defensive gameplan against an offense like Somerset's calls for two things:

1. Watch the quarterback -- Ninety to ninety-five percent of the time, coordinators will tell you, the play is going to the opposite side of the direction the quarterback opens his hips after the snap.

2. Follow the guards -- Many times, double-wing offenses will outweigh teams at the point of attack by pulling a backside guard.

Freitas acknowledged these axioms, but pointed back to the principle of misdirection -- just when you've figured it out, he feels, they come back with a new ripple.

"Alot of teams, if you run motion, they'll anticipate going to that side," Freitas said. "But for every instance of what a team could take away, there's something there to exploit it."

What We Learned: Week 3

September, 27, 2010
9/27/10
12:06
PM ET


Now that the dust has settled on Week 3 of the Massachusetts football schedule, here’s what we learned from this weekend’s action:

OK, so we were slightly wrong about Xaverian...
Turns out our friends at the Boston newspapers had it right and we had this No. 1-2 thing in the wrong order. Xaverian, on the heels of a 23-20 double overtime instant classic over Brockton, is our new No. 1.

But differences aside, we've all agreed that, man oh man, last Saturday's showdown at the Hawk Bowl was one of the best in the history of the series. And these two teams almost always seem to fight to a seven-point win or four-point defensive stalemate.

The Boxers have plenty of hype this season, and rightly so with the likes of Miami-bound Albert Louis-Jean joined by fellow seniors Ralph Cherry, Paul Mroz, William Carruthers, Trevon Offley and Jacques Janvier. But the Hawks showed plenty of toughness in the win. Junior quarterback Chris Calvanese fought through cramps to orchestrate the comeback win, delivering the game-tying pass to Mike Muir -- who, a few plays prior, separated his shoulder and popped it back in.

Hey, who said Xaverian kids aren't tough?

...But when healthy, Brockton's Trevon Offley is a bull to take down
Mahar's Isaiah Jones put it ever so simply last week in our Q&A: "My coach always says squatting is going to do everything for you."

It's clear after last weekend that the 5-foot-6 Offley abides by a similar mantra. And, as All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew demonstrates every Sunday, leg power with a low center of gravity is a vicious combination.

From the second quarter on, Offley was just a chore to take down. Just when the Hawks had him for a 5-yard loss, he'd rip through an arm tackle, sidestep and shimmy his way back out to the line of scrimmage and then some. Other times, he'd keep his legs churning and drag the pile for an extra two or three yards. Offley, who carried the rock 19 times for 117 yards and all three of Brockton's scores in the loss, had been out with a shoulder injury since the first half of the Boxers' 16-6 season-opening win over Boston College High. But when he's healthy, he's as reliable as they come.

Methuen's offensive line kicks out and kicks off?
Methuen quarterback Cal Carroll emerged as one of the region's toughest playmakers with the Rangers' 36-26 stunner of No. 9 Billerica, but just as impressive was his offensive line. Since losing to Plymouth North, 13-7, in Week One, the guys in the trenches have been blowing teams off the ball. A week and a half ago, they took it to Malden's massive defensive line in the second half en route to a 42-12 win. Last Friday, the guys paved the way to over 200 yards on the ground against the Indians.

Led by seniors Steve DiZazzo and Dan Cormier on the left side, the Rangers' line might not always be the biggest, but they proved that when on the same page, they can bang heads with anybody on a given night.

"Our o-line, they're tough, man," senior wide receiver Raudy Minaya said. "They hit hard, they hit every single play, and we get extra yards. That last (Carroll carry), we got the first down with ease and Cal got the touchdown, that's because of our o-line. We never give up. Up seven, doesn't matter, we need to get up the field and get the first down, and we ended up getting a touchdown with it."

Said head coach Pat Graham, "Offensive line-wise, it was essential to control the clock and to be able to run the ball, and I think our kids did a good job with that."

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Cormier, by the way, has an impressive right leg. After Eric LaCroix kicks the extra point, the Rangers line up in a standard five-and-five kickoff formation, and some may be surprised to see Cormier raising his hand to the officials. But Cormier's got quite the boot, as he routinely blasted it to around the Billerica 5-yard line Friday night, with plenty of hang time.

Gloucester is really that good...so far, at least
Andover, coming off a 38-13 drubbing by the Fishermen, hung 39 points on MVC Small dark horse Tewksbury last Friday, which makes one wonder: just how good is Gloucester?

The Fish's defense, led by linebacker Chris Unis, was touted as a wagon before the team even started up their famous annual summer beach training regimen. The first unit hasn't allowed more than a score from opponents. Meanwhile, the Gilbert Brown-led offense has been explosive, averaging 38.3 points per game.

The rest of the Northeastern Conference, however, hasn't been sitting idly. Revere, led by bulldozing tailback Trae Weathers, is 3-0 for the first time in a while. Cross-town rivals Lynn Classical and Lynn English have also proven adequate to start the season, too.

We'll find out next month how capable the rest of the NEC Large contenders are of unseating the defending Division 1A Super Bowl champs, but for now we'll enjoy the ride.

Key EAC matchups could have bearing on December
Yeah, it’s a little premature, but we can’t help but wonder how a couple of this weekend’s Eastern Athletic Conference games might impact the long-term playoff picture in Division III.

There was a battle of unbeatens on Slocum Road in Dartmouth with Somerset traveling to meet Bishop Stang. The Blue Raiders rolled to a convincing 43-13 win over Stang, riding running backs Jaron Spear and Seth DeMello, who combined for five rushing touchdowns.

Meanwhile, heading north along Rte. 140, Martha’s Vineyard took care of business against Coyle-Cassidy. The Vineyarders escaped with a 41-32 win over the Warriors thanks to quarterback Randall Jette’s 192 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

While it appears that Somerset and the Vineyard control their own destinies in the EAC, we’ll see if Bishop Feehan has anything to say in the situation. It’s hard to figure what the Shamrocks have after losses to Attleboro, No. 18 North Attleborough and Abington — three quality teams. Feehan has two more games out conference, including next week’s out-of-state matchup with Barrington (R.I.), before hosting C-C.

“This is a tough division,” Somerset head coach Nick Freitas said Saturday after his team’s win.

He continued, “Hopefully, we just remain healthy. I think that will be the key.”

Blue Raiders quarterback Alex Ledoux left the game to an injury during the second quarter of Saturday’s game. At the time, Freitas didn’t have information on the severity of Ledoux’s injury.

What was clear was the Blue Raiders’ statement made on the field.

Playing with heavy hearts
Friday night’s Hockomock game between Attleboro and Franklin almost was for not.

Attleboro’s school community woke Friday morning to the news that senior Myles Brastow had died in a motorcycle accident. Hours before the game administrators and coached from the representative schools huddled to discuss whether it was appropriate to hold the game in light of Brastow’s death.

“We talked to the administrators and the coaches to see what they wanted to do with the game,” Franklin athletic director and head football coach Brad Sidwell said in a telephone interview on Sunday. “We certainly understood if they wanted to reschedule the game. But they felt that they wanted to try have a sense of normalcy and have the game like any other Friday night.”

The Blue Bombardiers paid homage to their fallen classmate with a dramatic 20-13 win over the Panthers. Attleboro was led by quarterback Nate Robitaille, who was cleared for the game after suffering a concussion during the previous game against King Philip, and running back J.J. Jolaoso. Robitaille march the Blue Bombardiers down the field on the game-winning drive inside the two-minute warning and Jolaoso punched in the winning score on a 7-yard touchdown run.

"It's a tribute to the kids," Attleboro head coach Kevin Deschenes told Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle after the game. "They had a rough day today, and for these young adults to bounce back after a very traumatic day, losing a friend, I thought they responded very well."

The Franklin football community was also dealing with the loss of one of its own. Longtime Panthers head coach Gerry Leone Sr. passed away last week

“He was a legendary part of Franklin football,” Sidwell said. “I know there are even some parents of current players who played for him and I know the lessons taught to them by coach Leone in high school are things that have stayed with them throughout their lives. That’s the kind of man he was.”

HEAD OF THE CLASS
VALVOLINE PEAK PERFORMER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY KNIGHT, SR. RB, LAWRENCE ACADEMY
The North Carolina State-bound Knight kicked off the much-hyped Spartans’ ISL title defense in grand fashion, carrying the ball 14 times for 308 yards and two scores in a 36-14 defeat of Milton Academy. We’ve seen 300-yard games before from schoolboy athletes, but on just 14 carries? That averages out to 22 yards a carry, or essentially a first down every time he touched the ball, so in that regard we’ve got to add a shout-out to his offensive line.

THE CLASSMATES
Blaise Branch, Sr. RB, Cardinal Spellman – The 6-foot, 200-pound Branch had three scores on the ground and totaled 201 rushing yards on the day, ironically to give his head coach Ron St. George his 201st win, as the Cardinals rolled to a 35-8 win over Carver.

Andrew Coke, Jr. RB, Andover – Coke accounted for all six of the Warriors’ touchdowns in a 39-32 win over Tewksbury to open MVC play. He rushed 30 times for 214 yards and a school record five touchdowns; was 2 of 2 passing for 28 yards, including a 12-yard scoring strike to Brian Miller; and added 65 return yards for 311 all-purpose yards.

Dylan Colarusso, Sr. RB, Weymouth – He carved quite a name for himself following his performance in Friday’s 41-14 win over Milton, carrying 25 times for 262 yards and three scores.

Dave Dubin, Jr. DE, Holliston – For all of the talk of the Panthers’ offensive weapons, it was Dubin’s work on defense that stood out in the 48-24 win over Millis/Hopedale. He had 11 tackles, including five sacks, and contributed to holding the Mohawks to minus-27 yards of offense in the first half.

Randall Jette, Sr. QB, Martha's Vineyard - Jette captained the Vineyarders' Navy-style option offense with 17 carries for 192 yards and five touchdowns in their 41-32 win over Coyle-Cassidy.

Ben Patrick, Sr. RB, Rivers – The Roxbury resident, who ran for over 900 yards in six games last season, continued his good ways with an impressive ISL debut. He carried 20 times for 269 yards and two scores, and also came up with two interceptions, as the Red Wings downed St. Paul’s, 40-18.

Ben Shelton, Sr. QB, Wayland – The Warriors turned a lot of heads with its stunning 36-7 win over highly-ranked Westford, and Shelton was the catalyst. He was 12 of 17 passing for 209 yards and two touchdowns, and carried the ball 11 times for 97 yards.

Jaron Spear, Sr. RB, Somerset - The Blue Raiders asserted their will on the ground in a 43-13 victory over Bishop Stang and Spear headed the charge with 21 carries for 215 yards and four touchdowns.

Somerset rolls over Stang in EAC opener

September, 25, 2010
9/25/10
6:58
PM ET
DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Hard to believe Somerset ever trailed Bishop Stang during the Blue Raiders’ 43-13 victory over the Spartans on Slocum Road.

After assembling a methodical six-play, 66-yard touchdown drive to open the game, Somerset was knocked on their heels by Tyler Dedrick’s 71-yard touchdown strike to Devan Clements. The successful extra-point kick had the Spartans up, 7-6.

It didn’t last long as Somerset (3-0, 1-0) ran behind their horses, running backs Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear, to an important Eastern Athletic Conference win over Stang (2-1, 0-1).
[+] EnlargeSomerset High School's Seth DeMello
Scott Barboza/ESPNBoston.comFive yards and a cloud of Spartans: Somerset's Seth DeMello (No. 42 white) fights through the pile for extra yardage in the Blue Raiders' 43-13 win at Bishop Stang. DeMello finished with 19 carries for 160 yards and one touchdown.

“[Coming into the game], we wanted to stop the big play,” Blue Raiders head coach Nick Freitas said. “We just had a defensive lapse. Luckily, we recovered from that.”

Somerset asserted its will on the ground, turning up the turf behind the offensive line led by tackle Ian Levesque.

“He’s a big, aggressive kid,” Freitas said of Levesque. “I like that.”

Spear led the charge with 21 carries for 215 yards and four touchdowns. And DeMello provided the thump to Spear’s flash; the bruising back churned out 160 yards on 19 rushes and one touchdown.

Somerset’s offensive display of power didn't slow after it lost starting quarterback Adam Ledoux to an injury in the second quarter. Senior Alex Estrella finished out the game under center after he put up the first Blue Raiders’ touchdown on a 3-yard touchdown run from the halfback position.

“We got away from some of the things we usually do because our quarterback [Ledoux] got a little dinged,” Freitas said. “I thought Estrella did a nice job though considering he only took three snaps at quarterback this week. He did a nice job of running the offense.”

The play-calling was made easy for Estrella, who often called DeMello and Spear’s number.

DeMello made a living running in between the tackles of Somerset’s Wishbone and Wing-T sets, oftentimes carrying several Spartan defenders on his back en route to first downs. DeMello’s longest run came on a 46-yard carry in the second quarter, which kick started a drive which culminated in his 13-yard touchdown run to give Somerset a 22-7 halftime lead.

Spear became the Blue Raiders’ weapon of choice in the second half, as the halfback tore off touchdown runs of 15, four and 49 yards in the second half to put the game out of reach.

Spear’s first touchdown run of six yards in the second quarter reclaimed the lead for Somerset, 14-7.

“What can you say?” Freitas asked rhetorically about the collective performances of DeMello and Spear.

“It all starts up front though. Our offensive line did a terrific job moving the pile all day.”

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