Boston High School: Josh Ramos

D2 final: Marshfield 45, Longmeadow 6

December, 6, 2014
Dec 6

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Even by the mile-high expectations that the Marshfield Rams had set for themselves this season, Saturday’s 45-6 win over Longmeadow in the Div. 2 Championship was impressive.

The Rams had won 11 straight games following an opening week loss to Boston College High, looking more and more impressive each week. But the Rams saved their best effort for the big stage that Gillette Stadium had to offer, opening up a 39-0 halftime lead and outgaining the Lancers 385-191 on the afternoon to capture their first championship title since 2009.

“It’s been amazing, the work we put into it with the seniors, I think we deserved it,” Rams quarterback Jack Masterson said. “The highs are never to high and the lows are never too low.”

The Lancers couldn’t keep pace with the size and strength of the Rams offensive line and it showed early. Behind center Shane Leonard and offensive linemen Matt Benson and Josh Ramos, Marshfield broke five runs of more than 20 yards in the opening half, and punched in five touchdowns, all on the ground to build a massive first half lead.

“We are very fortunate to have some good kids up front and an excellent offensive line coach and he’s worked very well,” Marshfield coach Lou Silva said. “The kids up front they just want to run the ball and be physical.”

In addition to searching for a way to stop the Rams offense, the Lancers’ first half went from bad to worse. Marshfield forced three turnovers, highlighted by two interceptions from Kyle Meeken, including a catch-of-the-year candidate. With less than three minutes in the first quarter and Meeken in single coverage, the junior leaped up and came down with a one-handed catch for the game’s first turnover.

The combination of turnovers and the dominant Rams rushing attack allowed Marshfield to hold onto the ball for 12:32 in the first half, taking a toll on the Lancers front seven.

“I think we really just dominated them up front, what we are used to just keep pounding,” Leonard said. “We saw some of their kids breathing heavy and constantly changing from going both ways.”

Masterson led the attack, breaking out a pair of 47-yard runs and two touchdowns while Adam McNamara, Jacob Maher and Frank Catanoso also finding pay dirt.

“I cannot give enough credit to the offensive line,” Masterson said. “I owe them something, I need to buy them food or something they have been huge.”

From worst to first: Three years ago, then freshman Jack Masterson was thrown into the starting quarterback position before the offense took the first snap.

Despite their 0-11 record that season, the Rams had a silver lining in Masterson. The freshman broke passing records his first year and led the Rams to a playoff berth his sophomore year entering his junior campaign.

“He had confidence that very first year we threw him into the fire and he showed some sparks last year,” Silva said of his quarterback. “He’s grown a little bit and put on some speed so it’s the whole mental aspect of the game that he’s better at.”

Now three years after that season Marshfield would like to forget, it was Masterson that led the Rams back to glory. In the first half alone, Masterson ran for 107 yards while completing another three passes for 42 yards, all to tight end Danny Dalton.

“Oh he’s scary, I’m just glad he plays for us because I wouldn’t want to play against him,” Silva joked. “He’s developing as not only a good passer but a good runner.”

Emphasis on early scoring: Going up against a solid running team like Longmeadow, the Rams knew the importance on not allowing an early lead.

“That was our goal to start strong because we knew that Longmeadow could grind the clock out,” Dalton said. If they got the lead they wouldn’t give it up so to jump out 39-0 was huge.”

The Rams took the opening drive of the game 72 yards on just six plays, highlighted by a Masterson scramble of 47 yards to take the early lead.

After forcing a fumble on the ensuing Longmeadow drive, the Rams punched in another scoring drive, a one-yard run by Masterson to take a 16-0 lead.

With a large lead in hand, the Rams feasted on the Longmeadow offense. Sean Burger and Fred Allen led a swarming defense that pitched a shutout until the closing minute of the game.

Blessing in disguise: The only blemish on the Rams schedule this season was an opening week loss to B.C. High, a game which Silva believes they had in hand and let slip away.

“Losing that first game to BC High put a real damper because we had that game won and gave it away,” said Silva. “So from that first game the message was don’t give away chances, take advantage and finish.”

From that point on, the Rams tore off 11 straight wins and looked good doing so. Every game during that stretch was won by two-plus possessions until their comeback Thanksgiving Day victory over Duxbury.

“That [B.C. High loss] was huge, looking back at it we wanted the win really bad but we were trying to find our identity what kind of team we were going to be this year and I think we found out,” Masterson said.

Marshfield 45, Longmeadow 6

First Quarter:
M-Jacob Maher 5 rush (Jack Masterson rush, 8:07.
M-Masterson 1 rush (Mitch Bishop pass from Masterson), 3:58

Second Quarter:
M-Adam McNamara 25 rush (Dalton Dalton pass from Masterson), 7:02
M-Masterson 47 rush (Masterson rush), 3:20
M-Frank Catonoso 4 rush (Pat Kielty kick), 1:08

Third Quarter:
M-Maher 25 rush (kick fail), :34

Fourth Quarter:
L- Noah Hurwitz 12 rush (kick fail), 1:04

Marshfield's line powers D2 title win

December, 6, 2014
Dec 6
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Marshfield may be called the Rams, but it was the hogs that powered a sterling performance in the Division 2 championship game at Gillette Stadium.

Marshfield's line play, on both sides of the ball, set the tone and drove the point home throughout the game. The Rams used their size to open up holes on offense to let a bevy of backs gash Longmeadow for chunks of yards. Marshfield racked up 330 rushing yards and had five backs with at least 40 yards on the ground.

“We keep the tempo really quick,” Marshfield offensive lineman Matt Benson said. “Teams don't seem to see it throughout the season and when we end up playing them most teams can't get set up and we're running a play. That's a huge edge that we have when it comes to playing offense and running the football.”

The line went to work early and often as it powered Marshfield to a 39-0 halftime lead. It was an easy go for Marshfield's tailbacks as they piled up 262 yards in the opening 20 minutes behind the line.

“Our offensive line has been solid all year,” Marshfield defensive lineman Thomas Reilly said. “We've got depth as we need it, but we got fantastic starters in Shane [Leonard] and Benson's been an amazing player. [Josh] Ramos is playing through injuries. I'm so impressed with how they played.”

On the defensive side the line was just as good for the Rams. Marshfield held Longmeadow to 191 yards and held the Lancers scoreless until the late in the fourth quarter. The Lancers could only muster 94 yards on the ground against Marshfield's imposing line.

The Rams leaned on Reilly and William Habel on the inside. The defensive tackle tandem (Reilly weighs 310 while Habel tops the scales at 260) caused nightmares throughout for the Lancers.

“It's hard to move us,” Habel said. “We just clog up the holes and make it hard for people to run on us.

“It was just stop the run play. They couldn't throw on us. We knew they run the ball deep a lot, spread it out to the sidelines, and we stopped them.”

Reilly and Habel's interior dominance forced Longmeadow to the outside where they were met by Marshfield's ends, including Matt Armstrong.

“They had some big, strong kids, but we have bigger, stronger kids that beat them every time,” Armstrong said. “It's great because I don't have to worry about anything inside. [The tackles] always there to clean it up. I'm just there to make sure they don't get outside.”

Armstrong said that that cohesion of the line, and the team overall comes from putting in endless hours of practice in offseason that paid off in taking home the trophy.

“Honestly, we watched them all week in film and didn't think they were that good a team; we knew we had to come out strong,” Armstrong said. “All summer we were the ones at practicing sweating and everyone [else] was at the beach. Now, six months later, we're D2 champs.”

Top 25 Countdown: Nos. 25-21

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
On Monday, we unveiled our statewide MIAA Top 25 preseason football poll. Today, we begin our annual countdown of the poll with Nos. 25 through 21.

Head Coach: Mark Mortarelli (5th season, 35-11)
2013: 10-1, lost to Barnstable in D2 South semifinal
Returning Starters: Five offensive; Six defensive.
Key Players: Jared Abbruzzese, Jr. WR/LB/DB, 5-8, 160 lbs.; T.J. Collins, Sr. LB, 5-11, 185 lbs.; Brian Dunlap, Sr. WR/CB, 6-0, 175 lbs.; Chad Kidd, Jr. RB/LB, 5-6, 190; Trenton Wright, Sr. DE/TE, 6-2, 205 lbs.; Anthony Natarelli, Sr. OL/DL; Nick Olson, Sr. QB/FS; Tommy Ranucci, Sr. WR/DB.
Strengths: Passing game; defensive secondary; linebackers.
Weaknesses: Depth and experience on offensive line; size on defense.

Outlook: Even without last year’s Mr. Football winner, Troy Flutie, the Redhawks will still be able to air it out with the best of them, as senior Nick Olson gets his first crack at playing varsity quarterback. A returning starter at safety, Natick head coach Mark Mortarelli isn’t concerned about how the first-year signal-caller will fit in. “He’s used to the spotlight,” Mortarelli said of Olson. “He started every game for us at safety. He was a tremendous safety for us, he was all-league. He’s a varsity basketball player, too, so I think all of things in combination, this isn’t the first time for him under the lights.” Olson’s transition will be advantage by the return of a healthy Brian Dunlap. The Harvard commit was forced to sit out his junior year with a Lisfranc injury, but Mortarelli is happy to report he’s back at 100 percent. While defensive coverage schemes will naturally set around Dunlap, the Redhawks should be able to expose a soft underbelly as second-year starting running back Chad Kidd can provide tough yards in between the tackles. “I think we’ll run the ball a little more [this year],” Mortarelli said. “Coach [Matt] Brenneman, our offensive coordinator, likes to the throw the ball around a little, but we have a great running back in Chad Kidd. He’s a big, strong kid; he can handle the workload.” Meanwhile, Mortarelli is counting on junior Jared Abbruzzese among others to create complementary options in the passing game. On defense, Natick’s athleticism shines again. With a ball-hawking secondary last year, the Redhawks were routinely able to win the turnover battle. Natick graduated the leader of that group – Mike Abbruzzese -- but returns a few starters in Olson and Tommy Ranucci. The strength of Natick’s defense runs up the middle, with returning all-league selection T.J. Collins quarterbacking the group. While the Redhawks will not be the biggest defense in the state, they should be able to gain consistent pressure off the edge with returning three-year starter Trenton Wright. “We’re going to need to generate some pressure up front with a four-man rush,” Mortarelli said. “We can’t be blitzing all the time, so Trenton’s going to be a big part of that. He can create some havoc; he’s a rangy kid. We’re going to rely on him a lot for that.”

Coach: Lou Silva (34th season, 205-139-7)
Last Season: 5-6 (4-2 ACL), lost in Div. 2 South Quarterfinals.
Returning starters: 16 (8 offense, 6 defense)
Key Returnees: Jack Masterson, Jr. QB, 6-1, 190 lbs.; Dan Dalton, Jr. TE/LB, 6-5, 235 lbs.; Frank Catanoso, Sr. RB/DB, 5-8, 160 lbs.; Jason Darcy, Jr. WR/DB, 6-2, 185 lbs.; Matt Armstrong, Jr. TE/DE, 6-1, 180 lbs.; Shane Leonard, Jr. C, 6-2, 230 lbs.; Pat Kielty, Jr. OL, 5-11, 200 lbs.; Ian Duffy, Jr. LB, 5-8, 160 lbs.; Chris Lunn, Jr. RB/DE, 6-0, 185 lbs.; Fred Allen, Jr. MLB, 6-1, 210 lbs.; Josh Ramos, Jr. OL/DL, 6-3, 240 lbs.
Strengths: Quarterback, tight ends, offensive line, linebackers.
Weaknesses: Pass defense, experience at running back.
Outlook: The Rams offense found their identity down the stretch of the 2013 campaign and that was largely based on the superb play of quarterback Jack Masterson. As a sophomore, Masterson broke three school passing records and has many more in his sights for his junior season. Masterson’s favorite target, Dan Dalton also returns for his junior year and will present mismatches in the passing and running game. Dalton can lineup anywhere on the field and has all the tools for a monster season with his large frame (6-foot-5, 235 pounds), sure-hands and quick speed. Protecting the junior signal caller, center Shane Leonard anchors an experienced offensive line that also returns Pat Kielty and Josh Ramos. The Rams defense had difficulty taming high-powered offenses last season, allowing 40 or more points four times. Looking to this season, the Rams will have a talented front seven returning, led by MLB Fred Allen and Dalton at defensive end, but their defensive backfield remains a question mark with the loss of a handful of defensive backs. Offensively, the Rams running game took a big hit, losing their three top tailbacks to graduation in the offseason. Junior Chris Lunn is the favorite to take the brunt of the carries this season, while the search continues to another tailback to compliment him with. It has taken two years for the Rams to climb back to their perennial power status, but their talent-laden junior class will make Marshfield a team to watch out for this season. An experienced offensive line and the ability to stretch the field will give their young running game an added boost. With the Atlantic Coast League shrinking down to five teams this season, circle their September 26th matchup at No. 12 Dennis-Yarmouth to likely decide the ACL title.

Coach: Chris Whidden (Fourth season, 28-8-0)
Last season: 9-2 (3-0 OCL), lost in Div. 2 South Finals.
Returning starters: 4 (2 offense, 2 defense)
Key Players: Owen Murray, Sr. OL/DL, 6-4, 250 lbs; Clyde Perry, Sr. MLB, 5-11, 225 lbs; Colton Bergal, Sr. LB, 6-1, 225 lbs; Bo Delaney, Sr. WR, 5-11, 165 lbs.
Strengths: Linebackers, offensive line, coaching staff.
Weaknesses: Overall experience, defensive secondary, offensive backfield.
Overview: The Red Raiders have many holes to fill at the skill positions on both sides of the ball after losing 30 players to graduation, but Barnstable has the tendency to reload rather than rebuild. Of the 307 points scored in Barnstable’s 2013 campaign, only 16 points hit the scoreboard from non-seniors, meaning there will be plenty of position battles when the Red Raiders open camp. Head coach Chris Whidden praised his roster, citing their work ethic and coach-abillity as strengths for the team. Senior Owen Murray will bolster the offensive line from his position at right tackle, diverting the pressure from first-year starting quarterback Griffin Burke and carving holes for the running back-by-committee system in the backfield. MLB Clyde Perry is also one of the few returning starters on the Red Raiders defense and with Murray on the defensive line, Barnstable has a strong core up the middle to build around. It will be a trail by fire for this young Red Raiders team to begin the season. The first four weeks consist of No. 12 Dennis-Yarmouth, at No. 24 Marshfield, No. 15 BC High and at top-seeded Xaverian which will put Barnstable to the test early and often. Barnstable doesn’t begin Old Colony League play until mid-October, which gives them plenty of time to get their game on-track to defend their three-consecutive OCL titles and perhaps more importantly, an automatic bid to the Div. 2 South playoffs. Entering his fourth year at the helm, Whidden has never had a losing season and has shown that he can lead his troops into battle while getting the most out of each player on the field.

Coach: Jeff Cormier (16th season, 136-43 overall)
Last Season: 8-3, lost in Division 5 Central Quarterfinals
Returning Starters: 10 (5 offense, 5 defense)
Key Returnees: Mark Wright, Sr. RB/DB, 5-8, 180 lbs.; Dillon Bruso, Sr. OL/DL, 6-2, 250 lbs.; Josh Furmanick, Sr. FB/DL, 5-8, 195 lbs.; Nick Thomas, Sr. LB, 5-6, 160 lbs.
Strengths: Running game, receivers, competitiveness in camp.
Weaknesses: Depth.
Outlook: After going 63-2 with five Super Bowl titles from 2008-12, with a 41-game win streak sandwiched in between, the Rockets were as green as any point in Cormier's tenure last fall, returning just one starter on either side of the ball. It showed early, and again late when they were one of just four home seeds in Massachusetts to lose their first round playoff game, taking one on the chin to SWCL rival Bartlett in D5 Central. But it was quite the revelation for Wright, who led CMass in carries (258), rushing yards (2,111) and rushing TDs (25) in his first year starting with the varsity. "Once we get five yards, Mark will make his one cut and explode through the hole. As long as we get some decent blocking, he'll be able to make a play," said Bruso. Still, there's a bitter taste in the Rockets' mouths about the way things ended in 2013. "Everywhere we had to hear about it. Even kids from our own town were telling us we were done," Furmanick said. The Rockets are most known for their power running scheme, deploying two-back, double-tight personnel and seeking to outweigh their opponents at the point of attack. This year, with a giant target on Wright's back and a good grouping of perimeter skill players, the Rockets may throw more. Cormier is not ready to name a starting quarterback yet, with several players in the mix, but keep an eye on sophomore Steve Saucier. The undersized signal-caller puts good zip on the ball for a player of his frame, and showed some great flashes as a freshman last fall.

Coach: Brian Alyward (17th year, 102-82-1)
2013: 13-0, Division 3 State Champions
Returning Starters: Six (2 offense, 4 defense)
Key Returnees: James Sullivan, Sr. RB/SS, 5-11’ 215 lbs; Tom Casey, Sr. FB/MLB, 5-9 190 lbs; Ryan Bednarek, Sr. S, 5-9 160 lbs; Ethan Eloi Sr. DT/NG, 5-9 226 lbs.; Alex Schelfhaudt, Sr. T/DE, 6-0 195 lbs; Brendan O’Connor Sr. WR/CB 5-7 145 lbs; Mitchell Miskell, Sr. K, 5-10 160 lbs; Jimmy Hurtle, Sr. RB/CB 5-9 167 lbs; Jimmy Doran, Sr. OG/DT, 5-11, 215 lbs; Ryan Carey, Sr. RB/DB, 5-6 143 lbs.
Strengths: Physicality, running game.
Weaknesses: Inexperience at offensive line.
Outlook: Tewksbury will never be confused for its Merrimack Valley Conference neighbors that run spread offenses and like to throw the ball all over the field. The hallmark of Tewksbury has been its continuous physicality. Its run to last year’s Division 3 state championship was predicated on (no pun intended) its ability to run the ball and outmuscle teams on both sides of the ball. While it lost some linemen to graduation, impact players like Eloi and Casey return to anchor the middle of the defense. Sullivan will play behind them at strong safety, flanked by other skilled defenders. Offensively, the team will continue its multiple-running back approach that brought it so much success last season. “We feel pretty confident in all our backs,” said Alyward. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can contribute. We’re not going to have a need for a one-man show, nor do I think that would be effective. We’re going to try to stay as multiple as we can and try to use the same format as we do every year.” The starting offensive linemen on last year’s Super Bowl-winning team were lost to graduation, leaving spots open for players to try and create running lanes for Sullivan and others. Last year’s line continuity helped the team steamroll through D3 and allowed Sullivan to score over 20 touchdowns. “We have about 10 kids that are vying of those spots that have been good kids in our program,” said Alyward. “We’ll work with them and learn more about what we can do and what we can’t with them.” John Aylward, the quarterback of that undefeated team, also graduated, so the Redmen will have someone new under center to go along with that new offensive line. Juniors Brett Morris and Steve Hamel are in the running to take over for Aylward, with Morris the early odds-on favorite to win the job. On top of all that, as a defending state champion, the team now has a target on its back. It has not lost a game since November 2012, so it will get its opponent’s best game every week as they try to dethrone the champion. How the team reacts and responds to that pressure will determine whether the Redmen can duplicate last year’s success. “I told the kids at the start of our first practice, ‘Hey guys, you had such a special experience last year and a state championship under your belt and that’s money in the bank that no one can ever take away from you,’’ said the coach. “But now you just have to put it aside and understand that doesn’t buy us anything but a little more attention than in years before. So now we’ve gotta get ready to fight.”