Boston High School: Keith Hamel

Bourque wins it, Covitz seals it for Reading

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
2:04
AM ET



READING, Mass. -- Almost as soon as the Dracut defense was called for an offsides on the would-be game-tying point after, it seemed, did Reading head coach John Fiore want a timeout. Four minutes left, down by one but now with the ball at the one, Rockets offensive coordinator Duane Sigsbury drew up a Tebow-like play that had everyone on the sideline feeling fired up.

"Let's go for it, can't second-guess it," said their 6-foot-4 senior quarterback Brian Bourque (he is a converted wideout, after all).

"Let's get these six inches and take it to Gillette," said senior right tackle Jeff Covitz.

Sigsbury called for a quarterback dive out of a goal-line shotgun formation with jumbo personnel, but rather than crouch low and try to fall forward, Bourque leaped high into the air and flopped into the end zone, sending the home-field crowd into a frenzy.

That still left Dracut with two more scoring chances, but in those final four minutes Covitz was relentless coming off the edge of the right-handed Matt Silva's front side. He recorded two sacks, including one on fourth down, to seal the 15-14 win, make it 25 straight victories for the Rockets, and send them back to Gillette Stadium to defend their Division 2 Super Bowl title against Hockomock League juggernaut Mansfield.

Fiore spoke only briefly to the media following the game, but with good intents. Draping his outstretched arms on the shoulders of his three captains -- Bourque, Covitz and Anthony Fodera -- he deferred all the credit to them and gave them the utmost praise.

"All summer long, these three guys leading everybody in the weight room, you know, doing their plyos, flipping the tires, working the 7-on-7's, playing sports together...this is just an awesome effort," Fiore beamed. "I'm so proud of them, so I'm going to let them talk, because this is their night."

And with the spotlight, Covitz deferred to late assistant coach Mike Boyd, who passed away at 29 in July of 2009 to lung cancer, and nearly a year and half later is still fresh on the team's mind. A plaque of Boyd, who won two Super Bowls during his time at Reading, still hangs in the team's locker room.

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

And to say the least, Covitz's shoulder was to the wheel those last four minutes, as the Middies (8-4) had two more chances to score and were stopped on both. Keith Hamel took a zone read handoff 55 yards down the right sideline on the first play of the drive following Bourque's leap, giving the Middies first and 10 at the Reading 25 with over three and a half minutes to play. But Silva was stuffed up the middle by Covitz, and watched as a perfect pass over the middle was bobbled incomplete to set up fourth and 15. Coming off the edge of Silva's front side, Covitz ripped the outside arm of his blocker and planted Silva in the turf with a textbook form tackle.

A three-and-out by Reading (12-0) gave Dracut the ball again with a minute to go and a starting drive at its own 41. After two incompletions, Silva was planted squarely in the turf again from Covitz in the same fashion. Silva then threw an incompletion on fourth.

"I've got to tip my hat to Silva," Covitz said. "Silva's an amazing player, quick in the pocket, we tried to contain him all night. I just made my way outside, and just found my way to the quarterback."

Silva, who came into the game as one of the leading scorers in Eastern Mass with 12 rushing touchdowns and 26 touchdown passes (22 to his favorite target Chris Malonis), showed throughout the game why he is one of region's the toughest quarterbacks to bring down. While on other nights it was throwing his 170-pound frame around like it was 250, on this night it was his scrambling ability when flushed out of the pocker that made him such a threat. He ended up with 82 yards passing and 92 rushing, with two touchdown passes -- both to Malonis.

The master stroke came with 4:03 left in the ballgame, when he slipped to his left and threw an off-balanced floater off his back foot as he was backpedaling away from the blitzing Troy Jones. Malonis came back to the near left pylon and, with his arms calmly oustretched by his waist, hauled in the underthrown ball and just managed to get both feet inbounds.

Bourque (129 yards passing, 67 rushing) came roaring back with a gutsy game-winning drive that was, quite frankly, all in his hands. His first four plays were all short strikes to Sean Gildea and Connor Sheehan, before calling his number three straight times. On third and one from the Dracut 29, Bourque tossed another short sideline strike to Gildea. Three plays later, Bourque capped the 11-play drive with an eight-yard scamper up the middle, setting up the heroics on the point-after.


READING 15, DRACUT 14

DRA 0 7 0 7 --- 14
REA 7 0 0 8 --- 15

First Quarter
R - Larry Gilligan 37 run (Nick Scali kick) 7:19

Second Quarter
D - Chris Malonis 8 pass from Matt Silva (Silva kick) 5:50

Fourth Quarter
D - Malonis 17 pass from Silva (Silva kick) 8:40
R - Brian Bourque 7 run (Bourque kick) 4:03

What We Learned: Week 4

October, 4, 2010
10/04/10
3:15
PM ET
Better hold on to your hats.

That was the theme of Week 4 of the local high school football schedule from the perspective of weather and its results. Driving rains and howling winds across Southern New England had many of Friday’s games washed out and moved to Saturday. For those who remained steadfast in their Friday schedules or kicked off on Saturday, there were plenty of upsets to be had and much on the line.

Here’s what we learned from this weekend’s action:

The good ship Falmouth

Down 15-0 at halftime? No problem. Thirty-six players on your sideline? That’s enough. Falmouth has now made “upset” wins over BC High old hat.

It was the first time that a Catholic Conference team had traveled to the Cape in more than a decade. And coming off of last year’s 22-20 loss to the Clippers, the Eagles had plenty of motivation to return the favor to what Falmouth had done on their turf last year.

Yet, somehow, the Clippers found a way to win. They weren’t just playing for themselves and for their teammates, they were playing for the entirety of football on the Cape. That perceived no man’s land of football has now definitively proven it is a force.

“Everybody thinks that because we’re from Cape Cod that we don’t know how to play football,” senior Nelson Baptiste told ESPN Boston’s Brendan Hall on Thursday.

Things didn’t look good for Falmouth’s chances early, as BC High running back Preston Cooper (two rushing touchdowns, 2-point conversion) accounted for all but one of the Eagles’ 15 first-half points. BC High’s front also bottled up the Clippers’ option attack, holding Falmouth to just seven offensive plays in the half.

In the second half, Clippers head coach Steve Femino relied on a couple his less-heralded players to lead the charge in the second half.

Bobby Whelan led the rushing attack with 14 carries for 110 yards and touchdown — all coming in the second half. His 21-yard carry on his first touch of the game in the third quarter set the tone for what was to come.

After a Dillon Mansfield score made it 15-14, Falmouth looked for its defense to make a stand.

The Clippers forced the Eagles three-and-out with two plays for negative yardage, as Tyrone Reine and Jonah Olsen make tackles for a loss. Then, it was junior corner Devon Soares who left his imprint with two interceptions on successive BC High drives to close out the win.

“Devon Soares has been our biggest surprise of the year,” Femino said. “He’s not the biggest kid and some teams look to pick on him because [Nelson] Baptiste is on the other side. But he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and he’s been a great surprise for us.”

Though we shouldn’t be surprised about anything the Clippers accomplish from here on out.

Armani Reeves is a big-time player with prime-time speed

Asked about the performance his star junior had just put on in a big win over New Hampshire power Bishop Guertin, Catholic Memorial head coach Alex Campea could only exhale deeply as he beamed, draping a hand on Armani Reeves' shoulder.

"This guy can make it happen, this guy can make it happen," he repeated to ESPNBoston's Brendan Hall. "Listen, we have some good players, and tonight in a big game they shone through -- making big catches, big plays, offensively and defensively. But I'm glad we have him. He competes every snap of every game."

We've previously held Reeves -- who lines up at both wide receiver and running back, and also returns kicks and punts -- in high regard. But last weekend's performance (193 all-purpose yards, three touchdowns) affirms everything.

Reeves currently holds scholarship offers from Penn State, UConn, Wake Forest and UMass, but we expect more to roll in as more and more coaches discover what a special athlete this kid is.

TVL up for grabs

Holliston entered Friday night’s tilt with Tri-Valley League rival Medway looking as though they might run away and hide with the league title. The Panthers were averaging 48 points per game before they met the Mustangs’ defense and met their first loss of the season in a 28-16 win over Holliston.

"I think it showed a lot of character that we were down 10 to nothing," Medway coach Dave McSweeney told ESPN Boston correspondent Neil Carroll on Friday. "We didn’t panic and we made plays when we had to. Michael [Ozella] broke a nice run off that set up the last second pass so we kind of lucked out there, but I’ll take it anyway we can get it."

With the win, Medway threw the TVL standings for a loop, drawing even with Holliston at 3-1 in league play. Both teams stand a game behind Westwood and Norton, who both improved to 4-0 on the weekend. Norton dispatched Medway in Week One, 23-14, but Westwood looms on the schedules of both the Panthers and Mustangs.

So things are about to get really interesting.

Is the Bay State Carey wrapped up?...

So we’re not about to go Gore v. Bush in this space, but it’s hard to not look at Weymouth’s convincing 26-0 whitewashing of Needham as a huge leap forward to deciding the Bay State Carey.

Once again, the Super Colarusso Bros. (Can we get a video game in development for these guys yet?) led the way, combining for 225 yards and four touchdowns.

"This is not a league title tonight," Weymouth head coach Kevin Mackin told our Phil Perry on Friday, tempering the hype. "It certainly puts us in a good spot, but we've got to continue to work because there are other good teams here."

...One things's for certain: the Merrimack Valley Conference isn't


In Jason Houston's first year as an assistant at Dracut back in 2004, he watched as the Middies lost a 63-46 shootout to Division 1A Super Bowl runner-up Chelmsford. Now six years later, Houston won his second career game as head coach -- and his second in as many weeks over a previously-ranked opponent -- by flipping the switch, his team rolling to a 60-42 win over Billerica behind big nights from quarterback Matt Silva (8 of 12 passing, 262 yards, four touchdowns; 17 carries, 110 yards, touchdown), wide receiver Chris Malonis (seven catches, 252 yards, four touchdowns; 95-yard kickoff return touchdown) and running back Keith Hamel (20 carries, 121 yards, three touchdowns).

Dracut, by the way, wasn't even the favorite in the MVC Small headed into the season. Heck, they could very well end up 7-4 or 6-5 in this kind of daunting league schedule.

"In my opinion, top to bottom, this is the toughest league in the state," said Houston, who himself won an MVC title quarterbacking Lowell in the late 90s.

Central showdown

Looking ahead to next weekend, among the things we’ll be watching is the matchup of Central unbeatens No. 17 Auburn and Northbridge. Both teams enter at 4-0 and hope to keep their marks unblemished. But the Rockets have an extra motivation in keeping their state-best 28-game win streak in tact.

However, Auburn’s already had a couple of brushes this season. The Rockets slipped by Shrewsbury, 6-2, in Week One and escaped 19-15 this weekend’s test against Hudson. No doubt Northbridge, which enters the game averaging nearly 29 points per game, will be looking to be the team to finish the deed.

HEAD OF THE CLASS

VALVOLINE CO-PEAK PERFORMERS OF THE WEEK: MATT SILVA, SR. QB, AND CHRIS MALONIS, SR. WR, DRACUT

Talk about an offensive explosion. Silva accounted for 372 yards of offense (262 passing, 110 rushing) and five total touchdowns, linking up with Malonis (seven catches, 252 yards) for all four of his touchdown passes, as the Middies survived a Wild West 60-42 shootout with Billerica. Since losing to Westford 27-13 in Week 2, the Middies have exploded, averaging 43.5 points per game and knocking off previously-ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks. Think things are clicking up on Route 38?

THE CLASSMATES

Sean Amaru, Sr. RB, Westwood - The speedy Amaru led the Wolverines with 340 yards rushing on 18 carries and six touchdowns, in an easy 48-24 dispatching of Millis/Hopedale.

Andrew Coke, Jr. RB, Andover - For the second straight week, Coke eclipsed the 200-yard mark on the ground, this time rushing for 214 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries in the Warriors' 31-0 win over Haverhill -- in pouring rain, no less. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Coke has accumulated 450 yards and nine touchdowns in the last two weeks.

Matt Costello, Sr. WR, Everett - Costello had a dominant afternoon for the Crimson Tide in their 43-14 win over Barnstable, catching eight balls for 203 yards and four scores.

Nate Costello, Sr. RB, Assabet Valley Tech - The senior ran for 232 yards and three scores for the Aztecs, who cruised to a 48-8 win over Nashoba Tech.

Tyllor MacDonald, Sr. QB, Lynn English - The 6-foot-1 MacDonald threw for 263 yards and four scores, ran for 74 yards and three more scores, and added an interception on defense to lead the Bulldogs in a 47-16 win over Danvers.

John Page, Sr. RB, Bourne - Page ran for 243 yards and four scores in the Canalmen's 42-14 win over Coyle-Cassidy.

Nick Schlatz, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham - Schlatz carries 18 times for 211 yards and four scores as the Trojans rolled to a 42-14 win over New Bedford.

Mike Walsh, Jr. QB, Swampscott
- Down 34-14 at the half, Walsh rallied the Big Blue to a stunning comeback over Revere, tossing for three touchdowns and finishing the day 25 of 43 for 322 yards passing. He threw the game-winning score with 16 seconds left, and the Big Blue converted the two-point try for the 43-42 win.

Houston takes first win over No. 21 CC

September, 24, 2010
9/24/10
11:42
PM ET
DRACUT, Mass. -- It was a special victory for head coach Jason Houston of the Dracut Middies on Friday night.

Dracut not only beat league-rival No. 21 Central Catholic, 27-14, but the team also garnered its first win of the season, and in doing so -- earned Houston the first win of his career.

The Middies cruised in the victory, going up 27-0 until the Raiders tacked on 14 points to end the game.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Houston about his inaugural victory at the helm for the Middies. “It’s Central Catholic -- a league opponent -- and this is the second time we’ve beat them in 22 years. It’s nice to know we can come in and beat a team that has really had our number over the years.”

Houston did a solid job coaching a young defense that is missing three linebackers due to injury. The defense set the tone on the first drive when junior A.J. Proia intercepted Central Catholic’s Matt McDermott, and the Dracut offense capitalized and never looked back.

“It feels a lot better than I thought it would,” Houston said. “This is a lot better than I really thought it would be. The guys gave me the game ball for my first career victory, and it doesn’t get any better than to win your first game against a league opponent.”

Dracut’s Matt Silva was impressive managing the game. The quarterback completed 12 of 17 passes for 126 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

“The seniors couldn’t start off 0-3,” Silva said about the group’s determination. “We’re too good of a program…we had to get it done tonight and we were determined that we were going to win.”

Silva’s 27-yard touchdown strike was to his favorite target, Chris Malonis. Malonis finished the game with six catches for 59 yards and one touchdown.

“Silva always gives it his all,” Malonis said . “He’s the one who carries us every single game and this one goes to him and the line.”

Keith Hamel and Kevin Bishop were especially efficient with the ball for Dracut. Hamel had two touchdowns of fewer than three yards and Bishop had a 1-yard score to begin the game.

As the team has done all-season, Central Catholic substituted quarterbacks each series. McDermott started the game for the Raiders, but Ben Onett rotated in.

McDermott hit Xavier Peralta over the middle in the fourth quarter to give Central Catholic its second touchdown. Running back Trae Musumarra scored the first touchdown for the Raiders on a 6-yard run.

DRACUT 27, CENTRAL CATHOLIC 14
D - 7 7 7 6 -- 27
CC - 0 0 0 14 -- 14

1st quarter:
D - Kevin Bishop 1 run (Matt Silva kick)

2nd quarter:
D - Keith Hamel 3 run (Silva kick)

3rd quater:
D - Keith Hamel 3 run (Silva kick)

4th quarter:
D - Chris Malonis 27 catch from Silva (kick failed)
C - Trae Musumarra 6 run (Cam Walsh kick)
C - Xavier Peralta 27 catch from Matt McDermott (Walsh kick)

Dracut's miscues, Marshfield's good fortune

September, 12, 2010
9/12/10
1:39
AM ET


MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Jonathan Fraser was Mr. Opportunity on Saturday. When the opportunities came knocking in Marshfield’s season-opener versus Dracut, Fraser seized upon them.

After falling behind 7-0 to the Middies, it came on a play call that was a variation of the old halfback option pass. Later, it came on a loose ball Fraser scooped up and took 68 yards to put the Rams on top.

In a microcosm, Fraser’s contributions were telling of how Marshfield claimed its 33-20 win. The Rams made plays and Dracut was the team shooting itself in the foot.

“We didn’t know what to expect tonight,” Rams head coach Lou Silva said. “Based on last year and what we had coming back, we really weren’t sure. I was really proud of our kids tonight. There were a couple of times they could’ve folded, but they hung in there.”

Marshfield (1-0), the defending Eastern Mass Division IIA champions, lost 24 players from last year’s squad and will rely on players like Fraser to make plays this season.

The first chance to do so came on a pass from Charles LaPaglia — the Rams’ starting tight end. LaPaglia split out wide and took a swing pass from quarterback Mark Pomella. He then faked the run, pulled back and hit Fraser in stride for a 35-yard touchdown.

“We practiced that play all week,” Fraser said. “We knew it was coming. There’s a little pressure to think about having the ball in the air all that time, but we nailed it.

“We’ve run variations of it [in the past], but I didn’t think they were expecting for our starting tight end to be able to throw the ball that far.”

Fraser made his next big play on the ensuing drive, a 68-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.

“Our middle linebacker Joe Hastry made a nice strip on the ball and it came right up to me,” Fraser said. “It was a like a routine ground ball, then I just had to beat that guy to the end zone.”

Marshfield held a 20-7 halftime lead despite accruing just 64 yards of total offense in the first half.

But Dracut (0-1) looked poised for a comeback at the start of the second half. Senior quarterback Matt Silva hooked up with running back Keith Hamel on an 81-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter.

Silva accounted for each of the Middies’ three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) while completing 16 of 25 passing attempts for 267 yards. He also registered 16 carries for 72 yards.

But the Rams’ bend-but-don’t-break defense held just enough to secure the win, creating turnovers at opportune times — such as Fraser’s fumble recovery and a fourth-quarter interception by LaPaglia to stall a promising Dracut drive.

“We just wanted to make them work for it,” Silva said. “We knew that they were going to move the ball, we just didn’t want to give them home runs. But they did have two of them.”

Running back Brian Mey, who also had an interception, added two second-half touchdown runs to put the game out of reach.

For Dracut, there were just too many miscues to win.

The Middies muffed a punt return (with a Marshfield recovery by Zackary Pappas), which led to the first Rams’ touchdown, and also had a punt blocked (by LaPaglia — what didn’t he do?) that set up a drive which yielded a 5-yard Tom Pomella touchdown run.

“We had a punt blocked, we had a muffed punt, there were too many mistakes,” said Jason Houston, who was coaching his first game as the Middies’ helmsman. “They came back and scored off of those mistakes and if you looked at the scoreboard, it made a difference in a big way.”

Silva sets the tone for Dracut

August, 26, 2010
8/26/10
10:27
PM ET
DRACUT, Mass. -- Matt Silva was diving forward for a first down in his Dracut Middies' Thanksgiving day game with archrival Methuen when he felt something pop.

With the game and Division 2 playoff berth in hand, he shut it down for the rest of the game. His shoulder diagnosed as being sublexed (routinely popping in and out) and thus in a sling, he was touch and go for the Middies' playoff game the ensuing Tuesday against eventual Division 2 champ Reading -- and it showed. Then head coach Jeff Moore altered the game plan, taking the ball out of Silva's hands to ease the pressure; but with it the Middies' high-powered offense, which had averaged 34 points a game to that point, was held to a mere six.

Since the 2005 season, Dracut has gone 43-15 and won the 2008 Division 2 Super Bowl, with plenty of speedy receivers and backs making dazzling runs after the catch in a spread option scheme. But it's always been catalyzed by hard-nosed, gutsy decisions from the quarterback.

And in the will power department, Silva's got alot of fans.

"He's tough as nails," said first year head coach Jason Houston, himself a former quarterback at Lowell High and the University of Richmond. "I was very surprised last year to see how gritty and tough he was (last season). He's not afraid to get in there and run between the tackles and mix it up. Where he's not as big, he can't take the wear and tear as much, but he's a tough kid."

And with so many new faces -- gone are skill guys like Jared Gauthier, Rakeem Shepherd and Tom Szymanski, as well as nearly the whole offensive line -- expect nothing new from the leadership role. "I've got to boss the kids around, though I don't want to be the bad guy," Silva said. "But it's time to be a leader."

Just as he did last year -- when he totaled 36 touchdowns, nearly 2,500 yards of offense and just six interceptions -- Silva will provide the ebb and flow. But while he completed passes at a 67 percent clip in 2009, he often tried to force a throw in; so far this preseason, he's shown an improved acumen for reading the defense and checking down.

"Matt's definitely our team leader on this team," Houston said. "His work ethic is hard to come by. You don't find kids with his type of work ethic when you're out on the football field."

But this is nothing new in Dracut. Since Pat Murphy took the program over in 2004 and resurrected the Middies from years of dormancy, Dracut teams this this last half-decade have always rallied around a tough guy quarterback. from Bobby Russo to Matt Grimard to this year's gritty leader. But in Silva's mind, it's not just the toughness that counts at this specially-tailored position.

"It's footwork, basically. You've got to know your rules -- inside zone you've got to give it less, outside zone keep it less. You just follow what they teach you, and take everything in. Study, study, study. It makes it that much easier for us. It's a tough offense to learn."

As for Houston, the transition from defensive coordinator to head coach has been easier than he though, since he took the reigns last June from new Lowell coach Jeff Moore. Houston has been here at Dracut ever since his playing days at Richmond ended in 2004, and the staff turnover from Murphy to Moore to Houston has been minimal. Players seem to be at ease with him, but at the same time Houston isn't afraid to drop the hammer to keep his kids in line.

"It seems like one of our guys just got promoted to a better job," Silva said. "It's been very smooth."

DRACUT AT A GLANCE
2009:
9-3 (7-2 MVC), lost to Reading in Division 2 Playoffs
Coach: Jason Houston (first year, 0-0)
Players to watch: Matt Silva, Sr., QB, 5-10, 170 lbs (1,589 passing yards, 67.6 completion percentage, 23 passing touchdowns; 113 carries, 878 yards, 13 touchdowns); Chris Malonis, Sr., WR/FS, 5-11, 160; Seth Monbleau, Sr., TE/LB, 6-1, 200 lbs; Brian Lamontagne, Sr., LB, 5-11, 180 lbs; Paul Dufour, Sr., OL, 5-11, 240 lbs; Kevin Bishop, Sr., RB, 5-10, 170 lbs.
Strengths: Speed at skill positions, quarterback.
Weaknesses: Inexperience at offensive line, defensive line and secondary; overall depth.
Outlook: With the graduation of Jared Gauthier (95 catches, 1,118 yards, 15 touchdowns) and Rakeem Shepherd (1,016 all-purpose yards, 10 touchdowns), and plenty of new faces abound, the Middies will be going back to a power-running spread game reminiscent of their 2008 Super Bowl championship run. Silva will once again serve as the offensive catalyst, with Malonis as his likely primary target, while Keith Hamel and shifty Bishop will split duties at tailback -- sometimes staying on the field at once in two-back packages. "It's kinda hard to keep one on the field and not the other," Houston said. "They're both workhorses, so we're going to do what we can to keep both satisfied." With just two defensive players over 200 pounds, the Middies will rely on their deception and speed in Houston's 3-5-3 stack scheme. That means this year's nose guards will be shooting, not plugging, the gaps.

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