Boston High School: Jeff Hill

Prep finishes strong, punches ticket to D1 final

March, 16, 2011

BOSTON -- Mansfield scored seven points in the first quarter, all by senior Jeff Hill. In the second quarter when the St. John’s Prep Eagles’ section in the TD Garden chanted “sin-gle dig-it!”, there is a chance that may have been in response to Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan being quoted this week as saying that defense could be deemed a “weakness” of the Prep.

Although they were able to avoid a total thrashing, the St. John’s Prep defense put on a clinic and stunned the Hornets who were unable to score consistently, finally dropping in a 64-55 decision that put the Eastern Mass Division 1 title on a course to the Spring Street campus.

“I guess I misspoke a little,” said Vaughan. “I meant if they had a weakness, that was where it was at.”

Mansfield’s usual offensive leader scorer, Michael Lofton, was kept to 10 points, five of those coming in the fourth quarter.

“Coach prepared [us] for them, but he didn’t really talk about them being that good at defense, just offensive wise,” said Lofton. “He knew that our defense would be able to beat their offense, but unfortunately their defense was pretty good tonight.”

St. John’s Prep (24-1) coach Sean Connolly prescribes to the "Understanding by Design" method used by teachers: choose your desired outcome first, and then implement the necessary exercises to produce the desired result.

“We wanted to work him (Lofton) the full court all day and pressure him… try to wear him out a little bit,” said Connolly. “Connor Macomber did a very good job on him throughout the game.”

The leading scorer for Mansfield (24-3) was Hill with 20 points. In the fourth, with 5:59 left, Hill scored off of a Joseph Gracia assist to cut the Prep's lead to 44-41. Connolly called a timeout, but the Prep players had internal conversations before he addressed the huddle, according to Notre Dame-bound senior forward Pat Connaughton (23 rebounds, 15 points, five steals, five assists).

“Before coach started talking, everyone paused and I think everyone thought the same thought,” said Connaughton. “That was really like a time check. ‘We got here, are we satisfied with just getting here or are we trying to do what we’ve been saying we’re going to try to do all season?’”

Although Lofton got another steal and Hill scored on a drive to the hoop off of the outlet pass to make the game 44-43 with just over five minutes to go, the score slowly spaced out from that point. With 2:45 to go, Steve Haladayna (20 points, six rebounds) scored on a Connaughton assist to make the game 52-47. On the next trip to the basket, Connaughton drained two free throws to spread the lead out to 7.

Mansfield would come closer, within six on a Lofton score with 1:03 left to make it 57-51, but sophomore Kevin Conner and senior Daniel Dion would be the sole Hornets to score in the last minute; the rest of the team was stifled by the Prep’s swarming defense. Connaughton felt that although Mansfield worked their way back into the game, his team was not sticking to their game and that contributed to the potential comeback.

“We were just trying to hold the lead, but that’s not how we play,” said Connaughton. “We play to try to extend the lead, we play aggressively and that’s how we built the lead in the first place, so why not go back to that?”

Sophomore Isiah Robinson had eight points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block for the Prep. He was not a staple in the lineup in the beginning of the season, but as time has passed, so he has grown.

“He’s getting better and better everyday,” Connolly said. “He’s a big body, he rebounds well, got good post moves, so it’s just a matter of him finding his rhythm. We’ll probably be running a lot of offense through him next year.

“I felt like I should step up and make some plays out there,” said Robinson. “I know that I am a sophomore, but I felt I could go out there and do it; coach believes in me and the team believes in me.”

Freddy Shove also scored seven points and had three steals for the Eagles.

“He’s just all over the place,” said Connolly. “He works hard, he sprints after rebounds, he defends, he boxes out, he’s a very physical kid. He does all the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet a lot.”

“They’re deep, they’re talented and they give you a lot of different options,” added Vaughan, saying that there is a good reason why the Eagles were predicted to win the state title during the preseason. “They don’t sub to weaken, they sub to reload and tonight was no different.”

Lofton lobs up winning play in D1 South

March, 11, 2011

BOSTON, Mass. -- Why play hard when you can play smart?

With three seconds left in the game, Mansfield’s Michael Lofton was being contested for the potential go ahead point after battling back to break even after being down as many as eight points in the fourth quarter. Instead of scoring point 18, he dumped off to his teammate Chris Johnson, who had scored earlier in the fourth, for the go ahead win, sending the Hornets (24-2) into the Eastern Mass Division 1 finals against St. John’s Prep on Tuesday night.

“Michael’s been our best player all year long,” Mansfield head coach Michael Vaughn said. “But the staple of our team has been our ability to pass the basketball and share. I really think if Michael goes up with that, now it’s a challenged shot, the result might have been a little bit different, but just playing the way we’ve been playing all year, he throws the extra pass to an uncontested (player).”

“It feels good that I know that I have other scorers that can score like CJ,” said Lofton (16 points, 12 rebounds, three steals). “He’s a great scorer. He’s one of those 50/50 winners that can get the ball and score in the paint… He came through for us.”

With 1:50 left in the game, after Lofton got one of his three steals on the day, Jeff Hill made the layup in transition to tie the game at 42.

“The shot clock was running down and I just took it to the hoop, which was open so I took the layup,” said Hill (6 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals)

Luke Westman made the return basket for Newton North (19-7) on as assist by Avi Adler-Cohen to put the Tigers up 44-42. Lofton got an offensive rebound off of a miss on the next possession and tied the game up again, at 44. Playing tenacious defense, the Hornets had the Tigers on their heels, and as Adler-Cohen dove out of bounds near the scorers’ table to keep the wayward ball in play, Lofton intercepted the save, zoomed half the distance of the court to the basket and flushed the ball with :35 left, sending the Mansfield pride soaring behind the same basket that he had just kissed with the ball, putting his team up 46-44.

“I was getting a little tired,” added Lofton. “But the drive to keep me going, keep me on my feet was that this is my senior year, and we had to put it all out there to win this game. Not many people get this opportunity to play at The Garden twice.”

After a Newton North timeout, Tevin Falzon (14 points, 16 rebounds, two blocks) drained another two free throws after being fouled on a rebound to tie the game up at 46. Coming down the court, the Tiger defense was expecting for Lofton to take the last second shot, but he found the rolling Johnson down low who put it in without opposition, putting the Hornets up 48-46 with three seconds left.

“He had great court vision looking for me and finding me under the basket wide open,” said Johsnon. “I’m just glad that I finished it.”

The ensuing inbounds pass was deflected by Johnson (12 points, five rebounds, four steals), sending the ball up in the air and the Mansfield boys into each other’s arms, celebrating their comeback victory, as Newton North held the lead since 4:25 in the second quarter, when a Brian Santana layup pushed the Tigers past the Hornets 18-17.

“I think that’s how our whole team has been made up all year,” added Vaughan of Johnson, who had three steals in the first quarter, but didn’t make another standout defensive stop until the last seconds of the game. “Guys like Johnson who come up with big plays when we need them.”

No. 9 Mansfield stays perfect in the Hock

February, 16, 2011
FRANKLIN, Mass. -- Franklin boys basketball coach Dean O’Connor, livid over a non-call under the basket on a blocked shot by Mansfield’s Michael Lofton Tuesday night, turned his attention away from the officials and he and Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan exchanged a loud, bitter shouting match from their respective coaching boxes.

After the handshake line, O’Connor, still upset over the officiating, told Vaughan, “The free throws must have been 30 to 10 (in Mansfield’s favor).”

Replied Vaughan: “Oh, yeah?”

Translation: “Neat stat. I like the one on the scoreboard better though.” That one read Mansfield 64, Franklin 57, as the Hornets (16-2) remained perfect in the Hockomock League with a 13-0 mark and Franklin dropped to 12-7 overall and 7-6 in the league.

In O’Connor’s defense, his estimates weren’t far off, as Mansfield shot 24 free throws to Franklin’s 10, and he absolutely had a case on the non-call in question that set off the argument around the scorer’s table.

But on a night when Franklin senior Kyle Gibson became the school’s 11th 1,000-point scorer and just the fifth boy to do so -- on Senior Night, no less -- it was the unselfish play of the Hornets’ upperclassmen that staved off a Panther run to start the fourth quarter and finish off a dogged effort by the hosts.

“You come over here, it’s a great atmosphere,” Vaughan said. “It’s a good crowd; it’s Senior Night. You’ve got to kind of battle through a lot of tough possessions. They’re well-coached and they play hard. And this is the hardest place to play in the league I think.”

Leading the way for Mansfield was Lofton, a senior captain who poured in 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Also reaching double-figures in scoring were senior Christopher Johnson (11 points, seven rebounds, two assists) and junior Brian Hershman (15 points), while senior Joseph Gracia had nine points on a trio of 3-pointers.

Perhaps the player most indicative of the Hornets’ play was co-captain Jeff Hill, who only had four points, but made five assists and four blocks, including two big ones down the stretch that helped secure the win. Mansfield routinely made the extra pass to get open looks and assisted on 14 of their 20 made field goals.

“That’s the way we’ve been able to play the last couple of years,” Vaughan said. “We’ve got a lot of different guys that can score, a lot of different guys that can play. Tonight’s no different: different guys making different plays on different nights. And that’s why we like to throw extra passes and get extra guys (involved). We feel an unchallenged shot from a little less shooter is better than a challenged shot from our best scorer.”

“We like to have everyone get touches and get everyone involved in the game early so we can have a good start and finish the game out with a win,” Lofton said.

With his team trailing by 10 points, Gibson (22 points, 15 rebounds) laid in a baby hook and was fouled, leaving him at 999 points with a chance to hit the milestone on the charity stripe. He swished it, and the game was stopped for a moment to acknowledge the accomplishment, and it seemed to give life to the Panthers, who were able to slice the deficit down to three points going into the fourth quarter.

“It’s a great opportunity for me. I’m very lucky to play with these teammates,” Gibson said, although noting that losing the game was a “buzz-kill” to surpassing the mark. “They’ve been great all three years I’ve been on the team. It was great. So it was very deserving to get it on Senior Night.”

The momentum carried into the fourth quarter, where sophomore point guard Sam Bohmiller (10 points) had six points in an 8-2 run that had the Panthers ahead, 47-44.

But the Hornets quickly wrested the lead right back on a Gracia triple off a Johnson assist, who then made a steal and layup to push the lead to 50-47. Gracia then found Lofton inside, who laid it in and cashed in on the foul on the shot.

The Panthers were able to slice the deficit down to two and three points but never tied or led the rest of the way, as Mansfield made 9-of-11 from the line in the fourth quarter and Lofton flushed a one-handed jam off an inbounds pass to punctuate the win.

“We just had to gut this one out,” Lofton said. “It was a good win.”

BABC: Mansfield topples No. 4 New Mission

December, 30, 2010
CHELSEA, Mass. -- Mansfield's 20 points in the fourth quarter barely beat the 19 points tallied by No. 4 New Mission, but the Hornets picked up a 61-54 victory on Wednesday at the BABC Holiday Tournament.

Mansfield improves to 3-1 on the season, while the fourth-ranked Titans fall to 3-3.

A basket scored by the Hornets' senior Mike Lofton erased an early 5-5 tie, igniting a 11-2 rally that put Mansfield ahead of New Mission, 18-7, by the end of the first quarter.

Hornets freshman Kevin Connor scored three of the first six points in the second quarter, helping the Hornets to a 14-point cushion over New Mission. Trailing 25-13, the Titans' senior Darius Davis hit back-to-back shots from long range, bringing the Titans within eight points of Mansfield.

Finishing the quarter with seven points, Connor ended out the half with a pair of free throws, making the score 29-19.

Back-and-forth traffic in the third was halted by a 6-0 run by New Mission, which included four points scored by junior Leroy Hamilton. Mansfield outscored the Titans 6-4 to close out the quarter, making the score 41-35.

Despite New Mission coming within four points of the Hornets, 52-48, halfway through the fourth quarter, the game momentum stayed with Mansfield. The Hornets didn't look back, taking a 8-6 scoring advantage in the final minutes of regulation, securing its third win of the season.

Three of Mansfield's seniors finished the day in double figures, with Jeff Hill leading all scorers with 16 points, followed by Lofton with 15 and Leonard Richardson with 12 points.

Mansfield's head coach Mike Vaughn said, “[Hill] was good throughout the game; he is by far our effort leader on this team.”

“He hit some free throws, which really made a big difference in the end.”

New Mission's Davis ended the day with 14 points, while Leroy Hamilton recorded 12.

“I think both teams came out kind of sluggish, but we were able to make some plays down the stretch,” said Vaughn. “It was good to get out of here with a win.”

24 seconds.

An entire game of basketball all came down to the final 24 seconds for Everett as the Crimson Tide edged past Springfield's Putnam Vocational Technical High, 47-46.

“I'm really proud of these kids, it's been a different person [leading the team] every game,” said Everett head coach Bippy Manuel.

Everett started out with a quick 7-2 lead over the Beavers, including five points scored by by senior Andrew Brant. Putnam (3-4) was able to get within two points of the Crimson Tide, 10-8, but a 5-2 run to close out the quarter gave Everett a 15-10 lead.

The Crimson Tide defense held Putnam to just two points for the entire second quarter, while its offense was led by Brant with six points. A jump shot by sophomore Gilly DeSouza at the buzzer gave Everett a 28-12 lead at the break.

The halftime break was exactly what Putnam's offense needed, as the Beavers went a 7-0 run to open the third quarter, led by junior Jordan Almore with five points.

Putnam continued its offensive burst, cutting its deficit to two points, 34-32. A shot from beyond the arc by senior John Toledo gave the Beavers their first lead of the game, 35-34.

Everett was outscored 25-12 to end the third quarter, falling behind 37-36 lead.

Refusing to give up, the Crimson Tide quickly scored six points in the opening minutes of the four quarter to take 43-37 lead.

With two minutes remaining in the game, Putnam's seven point deficit was quickly erased by a 6-0 rally. A pair of shots from the free throw line by junior Melquan Pinkney brought the Beavers within one point, 47-46.

Everett answered back by stalling the Beavers' offensive attack in the final 24 seconds of the game, edging out a 47-46 victory.

Almore led all scorers with 17 points, while Brant finished with 16 points and Everett's senior Erno Deshommes tallied 14 points.

Super Saturday breakdown and picks

December, 3, 2010

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:

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

Mansfield exacts '08 revenge, heads to Gillette

December, 1, 2010
WEYMOUTH, Mass. -- After twenty minutes of football, Mansfield entered their locker room with the momentum, but also the game seemingly in its hands.

The Hornets tallied 21 points in the first half and allowed Walpole only one offensive opportunity in the second half to secure their Division II playoff win, 28-0 and a chance to erase a two year old Super Bowl memory, a loss to these same Rebels back in 2008.

“(Walpole’s) a great team, we just played better than them today. If we play a couple other days the outcome might have been different,” Mansfield wide receiver Jeff Hill said.

Mansfield (11-1) struggled maintaining momentum early in the first quarter, as did Walpole (10-2), but during their second drive of the game, the Rebels marched 61 yards to the Hornets' goal line and could not get around a physical Hornets defense after four rushing attempts between both quarterback Troy Salvatore and running back Kenny Woods.

“I think that’s the turning point, I think it’s a whole different game if they score there, Its 7-7, maybe 14-7 at the half, but its not 21-0,” head coach Mike Redding said.

With the score still 0-0 in the second quarter, Mansfield forced the Rebels to punt on their first offensive series of the second quarter, which set up an 18-yard pass from quarterback George Busharis to Hill.

“George was throwing the ball good, (the) line was blocking, everything was clicking,” Hill said.

Busharis would target Hill two more times throughout the game, but also share the ball with his running back, Jamel Marshall, who finished the game with 89 yards and a touchdown.

“Well we’ve got one of the best offensive lines in the state and Jamel (Marshall) is one of the better (running backs) around and those two together just equals yards,” said Jeff Hill.

Said Redding, “The third quarter, we established the ground game when we had to and Jamel (Marshal) runs hard and (Greg) Donahue and (Blayne) Taylor give us a good change up as well and our fullbacks are also pretty solid."

After Mansfield’s nine-minute drive in the third quarter that resulted in their fourth and final touchdown, Walpole used their only offensive opportunity in the second half to put points on the board, but was held in check by the Hornets defense once again.

Throughout the game, Redding admitted that they wanted to pressure Salvatore and they were successful at it.

“Our biggest concern was Troy Salvatore running the football. We were worried about covering well and him just running. He’s just quick, he’s hard to find behind their big lineman and our linebackers just did a great job of keeping him in the pocket and tackling him in the open field,” said Redding.

After the win, Hill smiled and displayed his confidence when he was asked if his team could win on Saturday by stating a simple, “Yep.”


WAL 0 0 0 0 --- 0
MAN 0 21 7 0 --- 28

Second Quarter
Jeff Hill 18 pass from George Busharis (Dave Eberhart kick)
Hill 32 pass from Busharis (Eberhart kick)
Jamel Marshall 2 run (Eberhart kick)

Third Quarter
Hill 11 pass from Busharis (Eberhart kick)
MANSFIELD, Mass. -- It’s a play that Mansfield coach Mike Redding has pocketed for eight weeks while waiting for the perfect time to unleash it.

After a fumble recovery by the Hornets defense in Thursday’s contest against Hockomock League rival Foxborough, that opportunity finally surfaced.

Redding called for a flea flicker, and juniors George Busharis and Blayne Taylor executed the play to perfection, giving No. 3 Mansfield a three-score lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The Hornets completed an undefeated run through the Hockomock League with a 32-12 defeat of Foxborough at Alumni Field on Thanksgiving Day.

“We wanted to get the lead early, and we felt confident with George running the play,” says Redding. “We hadn’t done it since the second game.”

Mansfield got out to a quick start going 76 yards in six plays culminating with a 55-yard strike to Taylor to go up 6-0 in the first. Strong running by senior captain Jamel Marshall softened up the Warriors’ secondary as Taylor slipped by the safety on a deep post.

Two possessions later, Busharis found junior Dylan Finerty on a screen pass that went for 49 yards. Marshal scored his 18th rushing touchdown of the season from a yard out to put Mansfield up 12-0.

Foxborough appeared heading for a score to pull within 12-6 as Nick Sestito found Greg Stamatov for a 34-yard pass then hit Ed Lincoln for a 20-yard screen to the Mansfield 20. But a high snap led to a fumble and an opportunity for Mansfield to deliver a knockout blow. Marshal rushed for 14 yards and Jeff Hill added a 17-yard pass to set up the kill shot. Busharis handed off to Marshall, who pivoted and returned to Busharis. He made an easy pass to Taylor for a 19-0 advantage.

“We work on it a lot in practice,” says Taylor. “I was nervous. [The safety] had to bite on the fake, and he did.”

Hill punctuated the scoring for the first unit, running a perfect corner route and hauling in a 16-yard strike just before the half.

While the defense was racking up yardage, the Mansfield defense was stingy in shutting out their annual Thanksgiving Day rivals until the fourth quarter. Senior linebacker Justin Pennellatore and lineman Kyle McGuire made life miserable for the Foxborough offense.

“It just came down to us swarming,” says Pennellatore. “We just had to get after it early and have them be one dimensional. It’s definitely easier to play defense when you’re expecting the pass.”

Foxborough struggled to move the ball consistently against the Hornets defense but got a solid day from Sestito and bruising senior captain Billy Roberts.

With the win, Mansfield locks up the Davenport Division title at 10-1 and moves on to face Walpole Tuesday in the first round of the Division 2A playoffs. The game time and location is still to be determined.

“It will be a great one,” says Redding. “We got them in 2004 and they got us in ’08. It will be a great game between two great teams.”

F 0-0-0-12 -- 12
M 6-20-0-6 -- 32

M George Busharis to Blayne Taylor for 56 yd (kick failed)
M Jamel Marshal 1 yd run (conv failed)
M Busharis to Taylor 36 yards (kick good by Drew McGeary)
M Busharis to Jeff Hill for 17 yards (kick good by McGeary)
M Robby Rapoza 32 yards (kick no good)
F Sestito to Ed Lincoln 27 yards (kick blocked)
F J.P. Bernabe 30 yard run (kick failed)

No. 8 Mansfield silences No. 14 KP

October, 9, 2010

MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Hornets struck first by air, then by ground while proving, in fact, the King Philip defense is not impregnable.

A couple of touchdown passes from George Busharis to Jeff Hill in the first half followed by a pounding running game highlighted by Jamel Marshall’s 104 yards on the ground created a balanced attack as No. 8 Mansfield blanked No. 14 King Philip, 28-0.

“All around, KP has a fantastic defense,” Busharis said. “We knew they were going to attack Jamel [Marshall], so we knew that the play-action would work.”

The Warriors (4-1, 3-1) entered Friday’s action against their Hockomock League rival having not allowed a point since the fourth quarter of their Week One win over Wayland.

After the teams exchanged three-and-outs to begin the game, Mansfield (4-1, 3-0) ended the drought against KP’s defense on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Busharis to Hill in the back of the end zone.

“He ran a corner route with one-on-one coverage,” said Busharis, who completed 8 of 13 pass attempts for 101 yards and two touchdowns. “I know I can rely on Jeff [Hill] in one-on-one coverage because he’s a pretty big kid and he can get up there. He did a hell of a job.”

The Busharis to Hill connection struck again in the second quarter, that time on a 5-yard strike with 6:38 remaining in the half.

When the Hornets returned to the field, their emphasis shifted, but the result remained the same.

Marshall pounded away at the Warriors front line, eventually breaking through for a 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Blayne Kelley-Taylor (6 carries, 55 yards) finished things off with a 5-yard score in the fourth.

“It means a lot because it’s like a dual threat,” Marshall said of Mansfield’s balance on offense. “You have to worry about the run, but at the same time, you can’t just send all your guys, or we can hit you on the big pass plays just like we did in this game.”

Meanwhile, a swarming Hornets defense disrupted any sort of rhythm to the Warriors’ ground game and provided persistent pressure on King Philip quarterback Jake Cox. Kyle McGuire, Zach Schafer and Chris Walker each earned sacks for the Mansfield defense.

The Warriors were not without their big plays, however, as Chris Cacciola, Alec May and Abdul Sesay all registered sacks. Jim Johnston also registered several tackles for a loss.

Simply stated, for Mansfield, it came down to allowing fewer of those big plays.

“They’re a high-risk, high-reward [defense],” Mansfield head coach Mike Redding said. “They come after you with everything. We said there were going to be a lot of battles; you’ll win some, you’ll lose some. But I thought we won more than we lost.”

KP 0 0 0 0 -- 0
M 7 7 0 14 -- 28

1st quarter
M - Jeff Hill 15-yard pass from George Busharis (Dave Eberhart kick)

2nd quarter
M - Hill 5-yard pass from Busharis (Eberhart kick)

4th quarter
M - Jamel Marshall 14-yard run (Eberhart kick)
M - Blayne Kelley-Taylor 5-yard run (Jeremy Burke kick)

No. 10 Mansfield swarms Minnechaug

September, 18, 2010
WILBRAHAM, Mass. -- Mansfield head coach Mike Redding entered Friday night’s game against Minnechaug Regional worried about Minnechaug’s no-huddle offense.

He left the game impressed with his own offense.

The Hornets beat down the Minnechaug, 46-13, and showed off a very balanced attack. Just when it seemed as if the hosting Falcons could stop No. 10 Mansfield’s offense, the Hornets (1-1) used other options to gain yardage.

Mansfield’s Jamel Marshal started the game hot, and finished with 118 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.

“If we block well, we’re going to get a good run,” Redding said about Marshal. “But if we don’t block well, we’re still going to get a big run because he turns nothing into something.”

“I didn’t get to play last week so I wanted to come in and prove myself,” said Marshal. “I wanted to get a lot of yards -- and I did that -- but I wanted to get the win obviously.”

In the first quarter, Marshal carried the offense and Minnechaug (1-1) began to key in on him. Then, Redding showed off his passing attack.

Quarterback George Busharis completed 8 of 12 passes for 184 yards in the game. Although he did throw an interception in the first half, he also had two touchdown passes to Jeff Hill.

“His height is such a nice advantage,” Redding said about Hill. “You can just try and throw it up to him and he’s probably faster than he looks.”

Hill finished with two catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns but his game didn’t stop on offense. He also played well in the secondary and intercepted Minnechaug’s Greg Heineman in the second quarter.

For Minnechaug’s no-huddle offense, it was a tough night. Heineman completed 7 of 11 passes for 146 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Falcons fullback Mike Mercandante racked up 44 yards on nine carries and three catches for 55 yards.

Minnechaug head coach Steve Allosso tried to utilize Mercandante on the screen pass, but the Mansfield defense caught on.

“It was a frustrating game for me because I didn’t think they were as good as I thought they would be,” said Allosso. “The mistakes we had were the mistakes that I didn’t think we were going to make — they were ones we are in control of.”

Mansfield’s offense started in rhythm and stayed that way throughout.

Junior wingback Blayne Kelley-Taylor broke out before the first unit was taken off the field, scoring twice in the third quarter. Kelley-Taylor complemented Marshal and the Hornets’ passing game. He finished the game with eight carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

Mansfield poised for playoff return

September, 10, 2010
2009: 9-2 (7-2 Hockomock)
Coach: Mike Redding (22nd season, 175-58-4)
Players to watch: Jamel Marshall, Sr., RB, 5-11, 190 lbs; Sean Otto, Sr., LB, 6-1, 195 lbs; Anthony Todesco, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 240 lbs; Kyle McGuire, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 225 lbs; Jeff Hill, Sr., SE, 6-3, 190 lbs.
Outlook: Last year's Hockomock slate of games were, in a word, quite the anomaly. The Hornets' two losses came by a combined four points, one of which (Franklin) went on to win the league and clinch its first postseason berth since 1982. Heck, the league title came down to a Thanksgiving clash, but not Mansfield-Foxborough. Things could be coming back down to earth in 2010, as the Hornets are once again a favorite to win the league. They graduate 1,350 rushing yards in Sean Doherty, but Redding thinks his backup Marshall is more than capable of filling those shoes. Marshall, who is garnering looks from schools in the CAA, has a balanced blend of power and shiftiness in his running game. Defensively, the Hornets graduated size, but will play fast.