Boston High School: Jhalen Bien-Aime

Recap: Boston Latin 44, Boston English 15

November, 22, 2012
BOSTON -– When a high school list among its graduates names like famous physicist Edward Charles Pickering, renowned astronomer Benjamin Gould and computer scientist Guy Steele, Jr., it’s not surprising that the students might be known for precision and efficiency.

On Thanksgiving morning, that translated to the gridiron.

The Boston Latin Wolfpack scored 44 points, despite running just 18 plays from scrimmage, cruising to a 44-15 win over rival Boston English in the 126th edition of the nation’s oldest continuous high school football rivalry.

The key turning point in the game came early in the second quarter. Leading 14-0 on a pair of touchdown runs by senior Jhalen Bien-Aime, Latin scored two offensive touchdowns in a span of 44 seconds to open a 30-0 lead.

After English went three-and-out on its second possession of the game, a bad punt gave Latin solid field position at the English 33. One play later, quarterback Patrick Fahey ran a keeper, taking the ball 33 yards for the touchdown. Bien-Aime’s two-point conversion run expanded the Latin lead to 22-0.

English’s glimmer of hope came on the ensuing kickoff, when senior standout Daquawnn Gunter returned the ball 50 yards to the Latin 39. But the very next play, the Wolfpack forced a fumble that senior Mike Surdek pounced on.

On the ensuing play Surdek kept the momentum, scampering 59 yards on just his second carry of the game with 7:31 remaining in the half.

Suddenly a close game became a runaway.

“We just gave up that long kick return, they called a timeout and our coach called us over and said we needed to make a play,” said Surdek of the fumble recovery. “We blitzed the two inside linebackers and scared the center or something. That was a big change.

“Then it was my second run of the game and I saw the hole opposite of where it was designed, so I cut back and all I saw was green.”

Said Surdek, the feeling of making those plays on what is the team’s biggest stage of the season was unmatched.

“There’s hundreds of alumni here to watch, people who played in the game, so it’s unbelievable,” Surdek said. “Our coach talked about next year and what this game can say about the program. That’s our legacy right there.”

Despite the hefty deficit, English showed little quit and, from that point, was actually the better team on the field.

The Blue-on-Blue engineered long offensive drives to calm the Wolfpack’s momentum. English drove 37 yards on 15 plays in 7:23, but couldn’t punch the ball in before the halftime whistle.

To being the second half, English put together a 13-play, 60-yard drive over 9:07 that concluded in a Dhe’Jour Relerford quarterback sneak from 1 yard out to get the Blue on the board.

After another 13-yard touchdown run for Surdek capping a five-play Latin drive, English again moved the ball successfully, going 64 yards in nine plays before Relerford found Gunter for an 11-yard touchdown with 2:43 remaining.

Again, though, Latin had its final answer as Mike Cronin returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards for a touchdown, accounting for the 44-15 final.

When the game was over, English had possessed the ball for 29:22 of the 40 minutes and run 50 plays. But it was Latin’s efficiency that got the best of the Blue on this day.

“We want to play a ball-control type of game,” said English head coach Chris Boswell. “We’re trying to slow down the game and we did it in the second half. I’m pleased that we finished the game. It was ironman football.”

English continues to improve under Boswell, Lamb: English head coach Chris Boswell was quick to point out his team’s improvements in Thursday’s game, one where the final score wasn’t indicative of the game on the field. The 15 points English mustered against Latin is the most since 1999, when Latin won, 42-20.

“We haven’t put up 15 [points] in my three years,” said Boswell. “And that’s the lowest points we’ve allowed [to Latin] in my three years.”

Some perspective on these superlatives are necessary. Two years ago, Latin won 54-12, a game in which English’s offense looked non-existent. The team’s two scores in the game came on a game-opening kickoff return and one run that broke for 60-plus yards.

Last year was even worse as English was shutout, 50-0, the most lop-sided decision in the storied rivalry.

This year’s English offense looks considerably more mature. Most of the snaps that Dhe’Jour Relerford took came under center as opposed to an unsuccessful Wildcat formation that the Blue had run in Boswell’s first two seasons.

Some of the credit certainly goes to English assistant Tom Lamb. The retired Natick legendary head coach has been helping Boswell run the offense for the past two seasons. Given some more depth, this is one football team that could continue to get better.

Ball, responsible for first forward pass in rivalry, presented pre-game: Mary-Nel Allen, widow of former Boston Latin football captain Bob Allen (class of ’64), was on hand to make a special presentation prior to Thursday’s 126th edition of the Latin-English rivalry.

Allen presented Boston Latin headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta with the game-ball from the 1912 Latin-English game. It is said that ball was used to throw the first forward pass in the storied rivalry.

The Allen family came into possession of the ball in 1965, when Tom Craven, the Latin quarterback in the 1912 game, gave the ball to Allen after the 1964 team finished the season undefeated.

Boston Latin 44, Boston English 15
ENG 0 0 7 8 --- 15
BLS 14 16 0 14 --- 44

1st Quarter
BL - Jhalen Bien-Aime 26 run (rush failed) 7:17
BL - Bien-Aime 14 run (Patrick Fahey run) 0:32

2nd Quarter
BL - Fahey 33 run (Bien-Aime run) 8:05
BL - Mike Surdek 59 run (Bien-Aime run) 7:31

3rd Quarter
BE - Dhe’Jour Relerford 1 run (Daquawnn Gunter kick) 0:46

4th Quarter
BL - Surdek 13 run (Kevin Chen run) 7:25
BE - Gunter 11 pass from Relerford (Gunter run) 2:43
BL - Mike Cronin 60 kickoff return (kick failed) 2:32

Combine notes from the month of May

May, 29, 2012
In between baseball and girls lacrosse games, I had the chance to check out a few football combines this past month. Emptying out the notepad, here are some leftover nuggets:

Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association Combine
Gillette Stadium
Foxborough, Mass.
May 6

Earlier this month, we checked in with several of the state's top prospects who were at the combine, including Xaverian's Maurice Hurst Jr., Mills/Hopedale's Jon Baker, and Dighton-Rehoboth's Chuddy Nwachukwu. Today, with new information, I'm bringing to light some new information about some players with hidden potential.

Athletic Standard CEO Thomas Newman passed along some information regarding the tests his company ran during the combine, pasted below. I've added each player's school in parentheses:

The following Athletes all tested in the 95th percentile in the nation for vertical jump (Horsepower and the first indicator of genetic potential):

Sean Antonuccio (Masconomet)
Junior Oyaronbi (St. Clement)
Frank Ansah (Worcester South)
Terrance Gibson (Taunton)
Berny Platel (Fitchburg)
Shaun Callahan (Norwood)
Nick Patten (Medford)
Sean Eldridge (Bristol-Plymouth)
Isaiah Douglas (Bishop Feehan)
Dominque Leite (Brockton)
Alex Jette (North Attleborough)
Babila Fonkem (Abington)
Elias Camacho (Canton)
Jamal Williams (Taunton)
Justin Mount (Westford)
Shadrach Abrokwah (St. John's of Shrewsbury)
Quron Wright (Holy Name)
Kevin Makie (Mansfield)
Kaylan Philbert-Richardson (Archbishop Williams)
Thomas Johnson (Pembroke)
Daniel Kegbeh (Holy Name)

Lateral Speed (huge component for separation or locking down on defense)

Jhalen Bien-Aime (Boston Latin)
4.218 - Laser pro agility
4.01 - Stop Watch Conversion time

Additionally, it should be noted this kid was so raw any speed coach will bring this down to a sub 4.0 pro or a 3.8 stopwatch time. Great kid by the way, real gentleman

Watch List (these kids have one standout feature):

Andrew Benson (East Bridgewater)
6-foot-1, 175 lbs.
Vertical - 27.75
Pro Agility - 4.421

It doesn't appear that he will grow much more but depending on his football skills this would be a solid pick.

Ricardo Calixte (Brockton)
5-foot-10-3/4, 198 lbs.
6-foot-4 wingspan nearly (this kid will grow over the summer)

Vertical - 28 inches - Normalized Index 406
Pro-Agility - 4.43 - Normalized Index 330

I would keep a close eye on him because if he gets any taller or heavier he will easily tip into the strong D1 prospect.

Calixte's story is an interesting one. He has the athletic frame and raw tools to be an impact on defense (he also ran a 4.75 second 40-yard dash), but has played sparingly to this point -- allegedly, he didn't suit up for Friday night games last season due to religious obligations. The only points to his name in last year's box scores is a two-point conversion run. Micah Morel is probably the Brockton prospect with the highest ceiling right now, but keep an eye on Calixte.

Impact Performance Football Combine
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Buzzards Bay, Mass.
May 26

Impact Performance Training owner Ross Jatkola put on his first combine on the turf at Mass. Maritime's Clean Harbors Stadium, attended primarily by athletes from the Cape Cod area.

Pound for pound, Dennis-Yarmouth was arguably the toughest team in the state last fall. The Dolphins' run to the Division 2A Super Bowl title this year, blowing out many of their opponents despite being routinely undersized (sometimes comically so), and everyone playing both ways, is testament to this. A lot of credit goes to Paul Funk and the remarkable building job he's done over the last decade to a program that won just six games in the 1990's. But credit also has to go to Jatkola, a D-Y grad and former University of Albany tight end who also works as the Dolphins' strength coach.

Cape Cod football is on the rise in Massachusetts -- a record five Cape teams made playoffs last year, with four of them winning Super Bowls -- and this was a good chance to see some of the rising stars in action. About three dozen competed, with Barnstable's Bryan Hardy winning the pro agility and Bourne's Josh Curry winning the 40-yard dash.

For the complete results CLICK HERE.

A few observations:

Peabody pleases
If I'm picking four quarterbacks for our preseason All-State team, Barnstable's Nick Peabody is probably on the list -- I would have said this in January. He has ideal quarterback size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) puts a lot of zip on the ball, and has big-game experience (leading the Red Raiders to their first playoff appearance in 10 years). I know we have to take these things for what they're worth, but the way he threw the ball around in 7-on-7 drills reaffirmed my disposition. Saturday morning, he was putting the ball in tight spots all over the field, hitting teammates on 15-yard out patterns seemingly on a dime.

Linemen to watch
Two Class of 2013 linemen to keep an eye on are Barnstable's Tom Grimmer and D-Y's Joe Tyo. Grimmer is built low to the ground, going about 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds, but has good balance and posture. He won the bench press event, doing 26 repetitions at 185 pounds.

Tyo could be a late-bloomer. He's a raw prospect at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, didn't start on the interior defensive line until Week 3 of the 2011 season, and needs to build more upper-body strength. His frame has yet to fill out. But he also ran a 4.9 second 40-yard dash, and demonstrated terrific footwork in pass-blocking drills.

Next In Line?
It's too early to predict the next Matt Montalto, D-Y's 2011 ESPN Boston All-Stater at quarterback who will be suiting up for Bentley University this fall. But when the time comes, his cousin, Michael Dunn, could fit the bill. The freshman won the vertical jump at 9 feet 3 inches, and I'm told he'll be used in an "athlete" slasher role going forward for the Dolphins.

Recap: Boston Latin 50, Boston English 0

November, 24, 2011
BOSTON –- Boston Latin junior Jhalen Bien-Aime scored three touchdowns including a second quarter 63-yard run that broke open a scoreless tie and brought the Wolfpack offense to life as Latin (5-6) defeated rival Boston English (1-10), 50-0, in the 125th edition of the nation’s oldest continuous high school football rivalry.

Bien-Amie added a 73-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and had a four-yard return of a Seth Occus blocked punt to pace the Wolfpack. The junior standout finished the game with 148 yards of Latin’s 328 yards of total offense.

“It was great blocking from the seniors,” said Bien-Amie. “It’s pretty easy when they open up those big holes. You just run.”

Despite the lopsided final, the game was hardly a cakewalk for Latin in the early going. The English defense held Latin to negative yardage in the first quarter, and forced a fumble late in the opening frame.

The Bulldogs offense, though, had trouble moving the ball. Despite two eight-play drives in the first, English mustered just 42 total yards of offense in the game and couldn’t get the ball across midfield.

After English punted on the opening play of the second, the Latin offense took over. Bien-Amie found a hole on the right side on the first play and hustled 63 yards to the endzone. After a quick three-and-out by English, Latin struck again on the very next play as Tyler Hallinan found room on the left and ran 43 yards. Quarterback Cal Cahill’s keeper for the conversion gave Latin the 14-0 lead.

Later in the second, Latin mustered its only productive drive of the first half going 72 yards in five plays capped by a 42-yard touchdown run from Mike Lenane with 3:23 remaining.

“English gave us more than we could handle in that first quarter,” said Boston Latin head coach John McDonough. “We had no first downs, negative yards. But once the kids got going, depth came into play.”

In the second half, the Latin attack continued. After Bien-Amie’s two touchdowns - one on each side of the ball - gave Latin a 38-0 advantage, junior Mike Surdek broke free for a 31-yard touchdown midway through the third and, after a fumble by English quarterback Dhe’Jour Relerford gave the Wolfpack first-and-goal from the 4 early in the fourth, junior Mike Cronin stumbled in for the game’s final score.

“We ended up giving up too many easy points,” said Relerford. “We had some good blocks on the edge but it wasn’t consistent.”

Latin’s Le makes history: There has been plenty of history between Latin and English in the 125 years of the rivalry, but none like the history that was made on Thursday.

With the game well in hand and Latin leading 44-0 with 10:22 remaining, the Latin sideline came alive as Kathy Le hustled out onto the field becoming the first female to take part in the nation’s oldest continuous rivalry.

Le, a senior, decided to try out for the team this year after asking around and learning girls were allowed to play. Until Thursday, Le had served as a practice player. But Latin’s McDonough decided that after a century and a quarter, it was time to break the gender barrier in the Latin-English game.

“It was awesome,” said Le, who said she got the bug for the gridiron when she played flag football in elementary school. “I’m glad that they allowed me to be a part of this game and this tradition.”

Asked if she was nervous, she said she definitely was but also fed off the raucous cheers from the fans as she took the field.

“It felt incredible,” said Le, who said she had heard of girls playing on the football team before but was told no one had ever made it through the entire season. “I’m grateful for all the support everyone has given me.”

Hall of Famer Lamb thankful for opportunity: Any high school football pundits might have recognized a familiar face on the sidelines for Boston England on Thursday. Legendary Natick head coach and Massachusetts High School Football Hall of Famer Tom Lamb is now roaming the English sidelines as an assistant under head coach Chris Boswell.

Lamb, who won four Super Bowl titles and coached five players named Flutie (including Heisman winner Doug) that spanned two generations, retired as Natick’s head coach in 2009. At age 61 and sporting a career record of 248-65-2 at Natick and Norwood, he thought his football days were over.

But last fall, he realized retiring wasn’t exciting enough and thus he began helping a number of different programs in the Boston City League having developed a relationship Ken Still, the city’s athletic director, while serving as an assistant at Northeastern in 90s.

“Having gotten to know some of the city guys, I wanted to do some things to help city football,” said Lamb. “Last year, I went around to some different schools, but I wasn’t helping any. I found I was more in the way than anything.”

So Lamb called Still and asked if there was one program that specifically needed some help.

“Chris [Bowsell] called me and said he lost a coach and needed some help,” said Lamb. “So I was in.”

Lamb says he is encouraged with how the English program has developed. Despite the score on Thursday, English has taken some major steps forwards this season. As many worry about the health and future of the 125-year rivalry with Latin (English has just one win in the last 30 years), Lamb says he thinks the program is on the upswing.

“We made a step in [getting players involved,” said Lamb about an English club this year that had 27 players on the sideline compared to just 14 a year ago. “We’ve still got a lot of young kids, but they’ve been unbelievable.

“The kids are such good kids. They want to win. They want to play hard. They’re devastated here [with Thursday’s loss].

“Because they’re so young, when they get behind it’s hard for them to be consistent. But they’re awesome kids. They really are.”

BL (5-6) 0 22 22 6 --- 50
BE (1-10) 0 0 0 0 –-- 0

Second Quarter
Jhalen Bien-Aime 63 run (run failed) 10:05
Tyler Hallinan 43 run (Cal Cahill run) 7:58
Mike Lenane 42 run (Hallinan run) 3:23

Third Quarter
Bien-Aime 73 run (Hallinan run) 9:33
Bien-Aime 4 yd block punt return (Hallinan run) 7:55
Mike Surdek 31 run (run failed) 6:43

Fourth Quarter
Mike Cronin 4 run (run failed) 10:02