Boston High School: Joe Gennaro

Tulley buckles down for Lowell in MVC tilt

May, 20, 2011

LOWELL, Mass. -- Matt Tulley pitched Lowell High School one game closer to winning the Merrimack Valley Conference outright with a complete game, two-hit, 10 strikeout, 2-0 victory over conference foe Chelmsford High School Friday.

“We shared (the MVC title) last year and we’re still in a position where if we win, it’s guaranteed ours,” said Lowell head coach Danny Graham. “If we would have lost and they were to win their last league game, there would be a co-champ, but we want to take it on our own this year, we definitely want to win it.”

Tulley’s first two innings were quiet, but he found himself in trouble in the third. He walked Colin Clancy to start the inning, and Clancy then advanced to second on a passed ball, which put a runnier in scoring position with no outs. After Joe Gennaro grounded out to second, Clancy was on third with one out, seemingly able to score on a sacrifice fly or ground out to the right side of the infield. The next sequence showed why Tulley is considered one of the best pitchers in the Merrimack Valley, if not the state.

Even though he was facing the top of the Chelmsford lineup, he struck out the next two batters, defusing the strongest scoring threat Chelmsford had all game. He then came out the next inning, facing the Chelmsford No. 3, 4, and 5 hitters and struck out the side.

“He reaches back and gets the outs when he has to, I saw him do it early in the game and again in the middle innings,” said Graham. “Once we got those runs (in the third), I always say you have to go out and have shut down innings, and he did that three times in a row. From a momentum standpoint, that obviously keeps us in a good position in the game.”

Tulley was also responsible for Lowell’s only runs offensively. Derek Reed lead off the third inning with a single, and then stole second. A throwing error by the third baseman allowed Rory O’Connor to reach base and put runners on the corners for Tulley. On the eighth pitch of his at-bat, he lined a single to right-centerfield, bringing in Reed and getting O’Connor to third.

“It was a long at-bat and I was watching something on Dustin Pedroia last night how he just fights every at-bat, and I just had that in mind,” he said.

O’Connor was able to score because Tulley was caught in a rundown between first and second when he tried to take the extra base on the throw in to the infield. He was able slide back to first safely, beating the rundown, and letting O’Connor score the second run of the game.

Not happy with the two-run lead, Graham tried to manufacture a run in the fourth with Chad Gens on third and no outs. Gens made a dash for home with R.J. Noel squared around to bunt, but he missed the pitch, leaving the runner in the difficult position of getting back to third after running most of the way up the baseline.

“Our offense has shown a lack of consistency as of late but that’s not because we’re not capable, I think it’s just because we need to buy in a little bit more and do what the kids are being asked to do,” said Graham.

Regardless of the mistake, Tulley was able to keep Chelmsford off the board and not let a runner get beyond second base for the remainder of the game.

“This is the best I’ve felt after a game because the past three years Chelmsford has belted me around,” he said. “Now that I’ve pitched well against them I feel good.”

Silva claws No. 23 Dracut to another upset

October, 23, 2010
CHELMSFORD, Mass. -- Dracut High senior Matt Silva had been leveled, smashed, kneed and elbowed all night by a gritty Chelmsford defense.

After an eight-yard run to the heart of the Lions’ defense in the fourth quarter, the quarterback took a well-deserved walk to the sidelines while favoring his ribs.

He dropped to a knee and succumbed to the pain that he had felt all night. However, after the ever-vocal quarterbacks coach Bobby Russo gave him a few words of encouragement, Silva looked up at the scoreboard and the pain seemed to evaporate.

The No. 23 Dracut Middies (5-2, 1-0 Merrimack Valley Conference - Small) were on their way to a 42-21 upset of No. 13 Chelmsford (5-2, 1-0 MVC - Large) on the road, and all the hard work the Middies had put in had paid off.

"We don’t let them get big heads," said Dracut head coach Jason Houston of his team. "We knock them down in practice all week long...but this is a good group of kids. They all work hard."

Silva led his team against a physical defense and had to earn every yard he got on the ground -- all 100 of them. The Dracut captain ran 13 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns and completed 12 of 19 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns.

His favorite target -- wide receiver Chris Malonis -- finished the game with seven catches for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Malonis also had an interception on defense.

Chelmsford keyed in on Silva all night. The Lions hit him when he had the ball, handed it off and even after he threw it -- yet Houston basically had to pry the ball from Silva’s hands when he was injured in the fourth quarter. He simply did not want to give up the reigns.

"I want the ball in my hands at all times," Silva professed about his playing style. "I’m the quarterback. If I make a mistake it's my fault, if I throw an interception it's my fault, if I get sacked it's my fault.

"I believe I have the best offensive line in the state, and they really stepped up tonight."

Chelmsford’s Tim Joy blitzed Silva frequently, but the offensive line stepped up to the task. Joy finished with 10 tackles and an interception. The interception came after he faked a blitz and creeped back into coverage while Silva was focusing on evading the Chelmsford defensive line.

The Middies had excellent line play on both sides of the ball.

Although Chelmsford’s Joe Gennaro ran the ball 10 times for 92 yards in the first half, Dracut’s defense limited him to 36 yards in the second half. Gennaro was injured coming into the week but looked fine at tailback.

As the Middies' lead grew larger in the second half, Chelmsford tried to score quickly by taking the ball to the air. Quarterback AJ Rotella completed nine of 23 passes for 109 yards with two interceptions.

The Lions also tried to find success on offense with Eddie Sheridan. The junior running back, who fits the Gennaro mould in Chelmsford’s offense, had five carries for 65 yards and one touchdown.

The two teams put on a back-and-forth battle late in the second quarter that could have been the turning point in the game.

Dracut had a 6-play drive culminate in a touchdown to take a 14-7 lead, but then let Chelmsford tied the game five plays later at 14 with four minutes, two seconds remaining in the half.

The Middies responded quickly with a 3-play drive just over a minute later, and then made it a 2-possession game after sophomore Zach Bassett intercepted Rotella on Chelmsford’s first play of the drive.

Dracut’s upset of Chelmsford came at the cost of a lot of bruises on Friday night, but after an 0-2 start to the season, the Middies will take a few bumps to get a few wins down the stretch.


DRA 0 28 7 7 --- 42
CHE 7 7 0 7 --- 21

First Quarter
C - Joe Gennaro 2 run (Charlie Calenda kick)

Second Quarter

D - Chris Malonis 18 catch from Matt Silva (Silva kick)
D - Silva 1 run (Silva kick)
C - Eddie Sheridan 12 run (Calenda kick)
D - Silva 41 run (Silva kick)
D - Zach Bassett 16 interception return (Silva kick)

Third Quarter
D - Malonis 86 catch from Silva (Silva kick)

Fourth Quarter
C - Gennaro 1 run (Calenda kick)
D - Malonis 27 catch from Silva (Silva kick)

Statement night for Carroll, Savastano

October, 9, 2010

METHUEN, Mass. -- Cal Carroll checked in with Dr. David St. Pierre at his Danvers office last Monday and got the OK to lead his No. 11 Methuen Rangers tonight at home against No. 10 Chelmsford. It was a hairline fracture to his left thumb (non-throwing), suffered in Saturday's win over Lowell, but if he treaded carefully with his heavily-wrapped cast, he'd be healed in three weeks.

Thumbs up or down, though, St. Pierre could probably guess what the reaction would have been.

"God, you'd have to chain him inside his house to keep him from playing," running back Ryan Savastano said of Carroll. "He plays hurt, he plays whenever he can...he loves this sport. Nothing can keep him away from it."

Yet not even Chelmsford's stalwart defense, led by a trio of fierce linebackers and allowing just seven points a game, could keep these guys chained down -- least not tonight. The gameplan didn't deviate an inch in spite of the injury, the Rangers line plowed away, and Carroll kept it steady all night -- inside zone left, inside zone right, keeper here or there -- as they took down the Lions, 31-21, before a capacity crowd at Nicholson Stadium.

"They caught on, I thought they were going to shut us down fast," said Savastano (32 carries, 221 yards, TD) of the game plan. "But we still put it to them. We drove it right up the hole."

The diminutive Savastano ended up shouldering the bulk of the load, repeatedly taking zone read handoffs from Carroll and darting between and around his linemen as they repeatedly drove Chelmsford linemen off the ball -- sometimes straght into their linebackers -- with a surgical zone-blocking scheme. But Methuen head coach Pat Graham insists that wasn't by design.

"I think if the reads were there, he (Carroll) would have kept it," Graham said. "He wanted to run the ball. He's not that type of kid. At the end of the game, we told him to hold the ball, to hand the ball off, and he didn't want to do that. He's not that type of guy, if the read's there, he's not a selfish kid but he wants the ball in his hand."

Carroll admitted there was little pain tonight, despite the repeated dives through the middle of the line and ensuing pile-ups.

"Throwing passes, I kinda have to fiddle with the ball a little more, try to find the right grip with this thing (cast) on," said Carroll, who had a seven-yard touchdown pass to his favorite target Raudy Minaya in the third quarter. "Running up the middle, I actually had to use this (right) hand to cover it up, usually I like to use my left to stiff-arm."

He then added, laughing, "I didn't fumble tonight, so that's a plus."

After a scoreless first quarter that saw Chelmsford feature back Joe Gennaro leave the game following a collision with Methuen linebacker Mike Harper (he returned in the second half), the Rangers (4-1, 3-0 MVC) took the initial lead when Carroll plunged in from three yards out and Eric LaCroix split the uprights on the point after. Savastano shouldered most of the load on the drive, carrying four times for 24 yards, and that became a reoccurring theme throughout the night.

Methuen's next scoring drive was more of the same, with Savastano eating up most of the yards of shifty scampers up the middle and Carroll scoring from a yard out on fourth and goal on the second half's opening drive. But the Lions responded immediately with an 85-yard pass from A.J. Rotella (14 of 24, 269 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) to Colby Emanouil. A muffed kickoff return gave Chelmsford (4-1, 2-1) a starting drive at their own 11, but on the second play Rotella found Emanouil with an underthrown deep ball in double coverage. But Emanouil, facing his quarterback, faked with his shoulder to his left and burst to his right, going unscathed the final 60 yards to paydirt.

In the final minutes of the third, the Methuen defense came alive. First, LaCroix came up with his second pick of the night on Rotella, setting up Carroll's seven-yard touchdown pass to Minaya. On Chelmsford's next possession, junior linebacker Kevin Nickerson ripped the ball out of Gennaro's hands as the senior pushed the pile for extra yardage, setting up a 22-yard LaCroix field goal. Savastano then made it 31-14 with a 12-yard scamper into the end zone, preceded by a 30-yard strike from Carroll to Kevin Higgins.

"We knew we wanted to be physical with them," said LaCroix, who also picked off Rotella to end the first half. "People have said the secondary was our weakness, and we've been using that as momentum all year. I'm glad the secondary stepped up tonight. Hopefully they start realizing we're not a weakness, that we're a strength."


CHE 0 6 8 7 --- 21
MET 0 7 14 10 --- 31

Second Quarter
M - Cal Carroll 3 run (Eric LaCroix kick) 6:46
C - Anthony Andre 18 pass from AJ Rotella (kick blocked) 4:12

Third Quarter
M - Carroll 1 run (LaCroix kick) 8:25
C - Colby Emanouil 85 pass from Rotella (Pat McLaughlin pass from Rotella) 7:12
M - Raudy Minaya 7 pass from Carroll (LaCroix kick) 3:28

Fourth Quarter
M - LaCroix 22 field goal 7:41
M - Savastano 12 run (LaCroix kick) 5:29
C - Eddie Sheridan 90 kickoff return (Charlie Calenda kick) 5:13

A view from No. 10 Chelmsford

October, 7, 2010
Scott Barboza caught up with Chelmsford's Joe Gennaro and Zach Hayes to preview Friday's Merrimack Valley battle against No. 11 Methuen.

As Hayes rolls, so does No. 14 Chelmsford

September, 17, 2010
CHELMSFORD, Mass. -- As a lifelong Chelmsford resident, Zach Hayes has seen many a loss by the local high school to nearby rival Acton-Boxborough, both in good years and bad. So when the handshakes had ceased and his Chelmsford teammates took a knee around head coach Bruce Rich, Hayes, like everyone else, merely exhaled. Two years, no loss.

"It feels great that we can finally get a win streak," he smiled. "Teams before us, Super Bowl teams, never did it. We're just trying to build off that and make a run with it this year."

Hayes, by virtue of a fumble recovery in the Colonials' end zone, started the scoring late in the second quarter. The Lions then added another score with another lucky bounce in the third to cushion it, got some mileage out of feature back Joe Gennaro (27 carries, 204 yards), and then Hayes sealed it late with an inteception. They went on to win, 13-0, and mark the first win streak by Chelmsford (2-0) in this annual series (the Lions also won 2009's contest, 28-21).

"Twelve years in a row losing? Yeah, I remember it," laughed junior linebacker Tim Joy (12 tackles), another Chelmsford lifer. "It feels really good, but you can't get over-confident now. It's like every other game to me -- 100 percent, relentless every single play."

After taking a downed punt at their own four midway through the second quarter, the Lions marched 95 yards in 15 plays, with quarterback A.J. Rotella (9 of 17, 100 yards, TD) keeping the drive alive with darting scrambles and light pop passes over the middle. On fourth and goal at the Colonials' one yard line, Rotella was stuffed on a sneak over center, met at the goal line by Matt Marcotte, Brendan Spangler and Collin Shaughnessy.

It took all of one play to reverse that fortune. On A-B's first play of the ensuing drive, Eric Apgar came off tackle right only to be met at the line of scrimmage by Brett Harrington. Hayes then popped the ball loose from Apgar's grip, and fell on it in the end zone for the game's first score.

Hayes followed through just as he does in the Lions' strip-and-rip drills in practice.

"Our coach Sal (Lupoli), he does the drill, and he's very intense with it," Hayes said. "He just teaches us to punch it and rip it."

Said Joy of the Hayes' fumble recovery, "I'd say he's probably the best defensive player in the MVC right now, and he's my best friend. So that feels good."

The Lions gave themselves some cushion in the third quarter when, on fourth and 10 at the Colonials' 13, Rotella rolled right and flicked a fade to the far right corner of the end zone. The pass was originally intended for Arron Witkus; but Witkus, falling out of bounds, smartly tipped it up instead, and Anthony Andre came down with it for the 13-0 lead.

A few more observations:

-- At halftime, the Colonials had mustered just 46 yards of offense. And really, they didn't get going until the fourth quarter, down two scores. A-B head coach Bill Maver deflected the blame unto himself -- "The whole game we had no life to us, we were flat from the beginning, but that's on me, that's my fault," he said -- but I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt here and credit the Lions defense.

In eight quarters so far this season, the Lions have yet to give up a point. Head coach Bruce Rich said he installed a 3-4 scheme this season to match up better with the many spread teams he'll face the rest of the way, but that's not to discount his depth at linebacker. Juniors Ryan Decoste and Joy (who's already receiving great Division 1 interest) were very active tonight at the two middle backer positions, and provided tremendous run support.

"We really like our defense," Rich said. "We've got some youth over there, most of those kids are juniors, including (Corey) Everleigh. With Decoste, Tim Joy and on the other side Joey Christopher, they're just great athletes. They all play two or three sports. We installed a 3-4 defense this year, hope I'm not jinxing it but...we were able to apply it tonight against a Wing-T offense.

"The kids worked it well. So, we're putting most of our good athletes on that side of the ball, and they can run to the ball. Tonight, they did a great job."

-- That isn't to say the Colonials are running with flat tires, either. After years of wearing defenses out with the Wing-T, Maver has diversified his playbook a bit. A-B ran some spread packages tonight, and used it to put together a solid drive in the fourth that came up empty when Hayes jumped a route over the middle for the pick.

Wes Schroll (four catches, 48 yards) is their best vertical threat and go-to guy in hurry-up mode -- the 6-foot-3 senior kept the chains moving with great sideline routes. But Maver was most pleased with Schroll's pursuit of Gennaro on the Lions' game-ending drive; the 5-foot-8, 170-pound Gennaro burst up the middle on the first play following Hayes' pick, and was chased down by Schroll 52 yards later.

"That was impressive in my book. That means you want to play football," Maver said.

-- For all the talk about Billerica and Central Catholic, here's my case for Chelmsford as the team to beat in the MVC Large. Not only are they a sound, balanced defense, they have the capability to wear down teams in the second half with monster drives.

Speaking specifically to Gennaro, the Lions kept the chains moving tonight without having to rip off too many big plays, thanks to the run game. Gennaro follows his blockers well, and looked elusive against A-B. One particular play that comes to mind is his second carry of the third quarter, a nifty little 33-yard scamper: out of the I, Gennaro plunged up the middle, cut 45 degrees to the right sideline, reversed direction at the right sideline, and evaded several more tacklers with two quick cuts to the left before being wrapped up at midfield.

"I think he's one of the best running backs in the state," Hayes said of Gennaro. "Just how he plays, he's one of the toughest runners...(his big runs) just lights our team up. He did it alot last year, we get psyched for him and we just try to build off that."

Chelmsford 13, Acton-Boxborough 0

AB 0 0 0 0 --- 0
CH 0 7 6 0 --- 13

C - Zach Hayes 0 fumble recovery (Charlie Calenda kick)
C - Anthony Andre 13 pass from A.J. Rotella (kick failed)

No. 15 Chelmsford finds its Joy

September, 5, 2010
CHELMSFORD, Mass. -- Four years ago, Chelmsford defeated Marshfield, 23-20, in the Division 1A Super Bowl.

[+] EnlargeTim Joy
Neil Carroll/ESPNBoston.comTim Joy was named a team captain for No. 15 Chelmsford last week. Lions head coach Bruce Rich said Joy is his first-ever junior captain.
At that time, Tim Joy was playing linebacker for Chelmsford’s Pop Warner team, but he knew that through hard work and dedication, his time with the Lions would come.
Last week, Joy was elected a captain for this year’s squad, and is determined to get Chelmsford back to that point.

“Second place is never good enough for me,” Joy said. “I just want my team and myself to the be the best it has ever been and that’s my goal.”

Chelmsford head coach Bruce Rich has been around the program for 50 years now and said that Joy is the first junior captain he could ever remember. Rich knows that Joy is an amazing tight end and linebacker, but also thinks he has a good leader for the next two years.

“His leadership is outstanding, he’s years ahead of his time,” Rich said of Joy. “I could see back in middle school that he had that work ethic and that Tim just saw what he needed to do.”

When Chelmsford was making that playoff run in 2007, Joy – then in eighth grade – would come into the Chelmsford weight room before school almost every day to bulk up. He started as a freshman at inside linebacker and, now, as a junior, is one of the most feared players on the roster.

Joy now stands 6-foot-2, weighs 205 pounds and has a 4.7-second 40-yard dash time. Boston College already has shown interest in recruiting Joy to play at Chestnut Hill.

“He’s a very mature young man, the kids look up to him, and as you can see – he’s a man-child,” Rich joked about Joy’s size. “He’s earned that respect.”

The Lions are coming off of a 6-5 campaign last year and return starting running back Joe Gennaro, who rushed for over 1,300 yards last season.

Joy believes that with fellow co-captains Gennaro, Zach Hayes, and A.J. Rotella as the team’s core, the team is poised to make a run in a loaded Merrimack Valley Conference.

“I think we’re already motivated enough, but I’m just going to show them how much it matters to me,” Joy said of his teammates. “I think everyone in [the locker room] shares the same desire to win a championship this year.”

2009 record:
Coach: Bruce Rich (16th year, 106-46-2)
Players to watch: Tim Joy, Jr., LB/TE, 6-2, 205 lbs.; Joe Gennaro, Sr., RB, 5-8, 170 lbs.; Zach Hayes, Sr., DB/FB, 5-10, 190 lbs.; A.J. Rotella, Sr., QB, 5-10, 170 lbs.; Arron Witkus, Sr., WR, 6-0, 175 lbs.; Anthony Andre, Sr., WR, 6-3, 175 lbs.; Kevin Stuczynski, Sr., DL/OL, 6-5, 240 lbs.; A.J. Jaquint, Sr., WR, 6-2, 185 lbs.; Eddie Sheridan, Sr., DB, 5-10, 165 lbs.
Strengths: Skills positions, speed.
Weaknesses: Physicality, depth.
Outlook: Coach Rich will have to fill some big holes along the offensive line in order to compete with opposing defenses in the MVC. The Lions’ offense will run mostly through Gennaro; whether they have him line up in the backfield or split him out wide, teams will have to watch his speed and quickness. On defense, Chelmsford switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme in the offseason. Joy will stop the run in the middle of the set and the secondary will look to beat teams that underestimate its quickness and balance.