Boston High School: King Philip

Highlights: Natick vs. King Philip

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
3:40
AM ET
NATICK, Mass. -- It took about a half for Natick's offense to get untracked in its Division 2 South first-round playoff game against a sticky King Philip defense Friday night.

But Troy Flutie again stole the show with 336 passing yards and six total touchdowns (5 passing) in a 39-26 victory, moving the Redhawks onto the next round and a duel with Barnstable.

Editor Scott Barboza has the highlights:

(Video produced by Greg Story)

ESPN Boston 1st-round playoff picks

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
6:08
PM ET
Division 1 North: No. 5 LOWELL (5-2) at No. 4 ST. JOHN’S PREP (4-3)

Scott Barboza: The Red Raiders seize the opportunity against an undermanned Eagles squad on their path to the section title. Lowell, 20-14.

Brendan Hall: Two weeks ago, I’d have told you St. John’s Prep would emerge victorious here. But that was before they lost a number of key starters on the offensive line. Feels weird predicting the preseason No. 1 in the land to go down in the first round of playoffs, but they are walking wounded headed into this matchup with one of the North’s most athletic defensive fronts. Lowell, 21-10.

Division 2 South: No. 6 KING PHILIP (5-2) at No. 3 NATICK (7-0)

Barboza: Talking with the Redhawks coaching staff earlier this week, there’s a healthy amount of respect going in for the KP defense, in particular linebacker Brett McEvoy, but something tells me the Warriors haven’t seen an offense such as this. Natick, 20-14.

Hall: Somehow, some way, even against one of the state’s top defenses, we know Troy Flutie will find a way to break them for some points. Never underestimate a Flutie with their back against the wall. The question is whether KP’s offense, stagnant in most weeks, can light up the scoreboard itself. Natick, 31-30.

Division 2 South: No. 8 WELLESLEY (4-3) at No. 1 MANSFIELD (7-0)

Barboza: John Fadule can almost single-handedly keep the Raiders in the game, but the onus is on the Raiders defense to step up to perhaps their greatest challenge yet. Mansfield, 31-27.

Hall: Sneaky good battle. Wellesley runs a wide-open spread offense that likes to turn games into track meets, a matchup that tends to favor Mansfield, which has won a few of those types of games this year. Mansfield, 28-24.

Division 2 South: No. 5 DUXBURY (5-1) at No. 4 NEEDHAM (6-1)

Barboza: This might be the most difficult game of the weekend to forecast — just going on gut instinct here. Duxbury, 10-7.

Hall: Every year we always talk about Duxbury as the prototype for athletic teams with lacrosse backgrounds. But the best lacrosse-bred star this year is in Needham, where Mike Panepinto figures to have a ball this postseason after leading the state in rushing. Needham, 30-23.

Division 1 South: No. 5 WEYMOUTH (4-3) at No. 4 BC HIGH (4-3)

Barboza: The Wildcats have to win the turnover battle if they want to hang in this one. Maybe Matt Long can pull out another one from behind his back. BC High, 17-16.

Hall: This one will be sloppy, but in the end I don’t see the Eagles defense surrendering anything more than a touchdown here. BC High, 20-7.

Division 2 Central: No. 5 SHREWSBURY (4-3) at No. 4 NASHOBA (4-3)

Barboza: For a team that had a state-best winning streak rolling earlier this season, after three-straight losses, perception has really changed for this one. Shrewsbury, 21-14.

Hall: The two teams have gone in opposite directions since Nashoba won the first matchup in Week 3, with the Chieftains losing three of their last four while Shrewsbury has won three of its last four. Shrewsbury, 17-3.

Division 4 Central: No. 6 QUABBIN (5-2) at No. 3 DOHERTY (6-1)

Barboza: With both teams able to put ‘em on the board in bunches, I like Doherty’s outside targets just a little bit more. Doherty, 34-30.

Hall: Just a hunch, lots of points will be scored in this one. The biggest enemy for either team might be the sideline markers. Anybody want to take a wager on how many “six” routes are called in this one? Doherty, 40-38.

Division 2 North: No. 7 CAMBRIDGE (3-4) at No. 2 READING (5-1)

Barboza: After the Arlington upset, the Rockets have righted ship some and still have enough horses in the stable with Liam Kenneally. Reading, 14-13.

Hall: My upset special of the week. Reading struggled against spread offenses out of the gate, and the Falcons provide a unique blend of athleticism in the spread that they aren’t accustomed to seeing. I predict a big night for Shaq Anderson. Cambridge, 28-27.

Division 2 North: No. 8 LYNN ENGLISH (2-4) at No. 1 HAVERHILL (5-2)

Barboza: There are some serious backstories to be had, but ultimately, on the field, the Hillies roll. Haverhill, 28-20.

Hall: In Jordan Javier’s return to his former school, I like the Hillies getting one up on Lynn English. There are athletic, Division 1-caliber playmakers on both sides of the ball for both squads, but Haverhill’s runs more fluid. Haverhill, 35-31.

No. 3 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (6-1) at No. 13 WESTFIELD (7-0)

Barboza: The Bombers are wont to play ball control, but the Golden Eagles come flying out of the cage. Central, 34-27.

Hall: This will be Central’s biggest test since the Week 1 loss to Everett. As always, they’ll be ready. Central, 28-20.

Last Week’s Picks:
Barboza: 8-2 (65-28 overall)
Hall: 7-3 (66-27 overall)

Recap: No. 20 Attleboro 19, No. 15 KP 12

October, 26, 2013
10/26/13
2:32
AM ET


WRENTHAM, Mass. – What a difference a year makes.

Friday’s was the type of game Attleboro football would have lost in previous instances. There would have been a second-half comeback, or a costly mistake would have occurred on offense.

But, again, the No. 20 Blue Bombardiers proved this year’s model there’s one crucial difference – they close.

Attleboro closed out its regular season slate of Hockomock Kelley-Rex division play with a 19-12 win over host No. 15 King Philip. And, after a 4-7 campaign in 2012, the Blue Bombardiers advance to the Division 1 South playoffs with a 6-1 mark to date, their lone loss of the season coming against Hockomock rival and ESPN Boston statewide No. 1 Mansfield.

“We’re feeling great right now,” senior quarterback Tim Walsh said.

As in so many previous instances, Walsh had Attleboro flying out of the chute, requiring just three plays from scrimmage to get in the end zone, connecting with wide receiver Brenden Massey on a 30-yard score 65 seconds into action. The Blue Bombardiers started the drive deep in KP territory, after Stanley Beaubrun’s 65-yard return of the opening kickoff to the Warriors’ 27-yard line.

However, KP (5-2, 3-2 Kelley-Rex) responded immediately, embarking on a methodical 8-play, 62-yard drive, capped by J.J. Dillon’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Joe Johnston. After both teams failed point-after tries, the score remained tied, 6-6.

The Warriors took 12-6 lead with 1:52 remaining in the first quarter, with Dillon going over center on a 1-yard touchdown run. KP started the drive at Attleboro’s 36, after the Blue Bombardiers couldn’t convert a fourth-down pass on a punt fake.

But Attleboro reestablished the lead heading into the half with Walsh (6 of 16, 121) throwing his second touchdown pass to Matthew Elliott from three yards out. The first successful point-after kick of the game from Michael Cannata provided the Blue Bombardiers with the 13-12 edge at intermission.

Attleboro padded its lead on its first possession of the second half. Junior running back Damon Belin (13 carries, 74 yards) ran in from nine yards out behind a pulling guard for the Blue Bombardiers’ final margin of victory at 3:25 of the third.

KP would have four more cracks at a tying score, but the Warriors drives sputtered with a result of two punts and a turnover on downs before getting one last shot inside of the final minute.

After a 13-yard completion from Dillon to Johnston (19 carries, 126 yards) set up the Warriors on the plus-side of the 50, Attleboro’s defense tightened again, forcing two incompletions. With one second remaining in the game, KP had one last heave at end zone from the Attleboro 43. However, when Dillon dropped back out of the shotgun, he was met by a gaggle of Blue Bombardiers defenders, who combined for the sack, ending the game.

Don’t sleep on ‘D’: The Blue Bombardiers did something to KP that the Warriors’ defense is accustomed to doing – pitching a shutout in the second half. They did so in style, posting five plays that resulted in no gain or a loss for the Warriors.

At the forefront of the Attleboro’s second-half defensive charge was senior defensive tackle Brandon Pleas. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder presented matchup problems for KP’s interior linemen, scorching the Warriors with three tackles for loss, including a critical sack late in the fourth quarter.

Pleas creates a big, physical front for Attleboro, joined by impressive two-way sophomore lineman Kyle Murphy (6-3, 235 lbs.). When tight end/defensive end Luke Morrison (6-3, 220 lbs.) enters in sub packages as an edge rusher, the Blue Bombardiers present a size advantage in the box many area high school teams simply cannot match.

“The game plan was to establish the line of scrimmage and beat your man,” Please said. “We lacked that in the first half, but in the second half, we came out and hit. That’s what won us the game.”

Breath of fresh air: After not seeing postseason play in more than a decade, Attleboro will enter the playoffs next week in head coach Mike Strachan’s first year at the helm.

It goes without saying that the Blue Bombardiers’ transformation has — in no small part — been a testament to their new coach. But Strachan maintains the team’s on-field success stems from its commitment to detail in practice.

“I think it comes down to the way that we practice,” Strachan said. “Every day, we have goals, we set goals for ourselves in practice. As silly as that might sound, we believe in it. We get better every day.”

While Attleboro’s new season starts next week with a home playoff game, the Blue Bombardiers took a sort of moment of reflection as to how far they’ve come, with a celebratory Gatorade shower for Strachan. For a team focused on incremental goals, it shouldn’t be viewed as a premature celebration.

“I think we’ve accomplished a lot,” Pleas said. “Words can’t even explain it. These coaches are something else.”

Woonsocket (R.I.) football refocuses after upset

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
4:08
PM ET
Call it a blip on the proverbial radar screen. Call it an aberration. Call it a fluke.

Rhode IslandCall it any of the above.

But after defeating four Division II-A opponents (five overall including a non-league victory) first-place Woonsocket found out -- much to the Villa Novans’ distaste -- what it’s like to exit a field with their first number under the loss column.

Rogers, who plays in II-B, upset the previously undefeated Villa Novans, 21-14, on Oct. 19 in a non-league game.

For want of a better phrase call it a wakeup call because in their four victories over division opponents, the Villa Novans had outscored them by a combined margin of 73-7.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” said Woonsocket coach/alumnus Carnell Henderson. “It’s a humbling loss because you want to win every game. But if there ever was a day to have a bad game this was it.”

The reason being non-league games don’t count in the standings and have zero effect on teams’ playoff chances. Henderson was, oh, upset at what transpired on each side of the ball.

Rogers turned the ball three times inside the Vikings 15-yard line including twice in the fourth quarter. But Woonsocket only capitalized on one of those golden opportunities.

At the risk of using a baseball metaphor, batting .333 is great in that sport but a percentage of that nature is mediocre (or worse) in football.

On the flip side, Rogers passed for two touchdowns – the first touchdown passes the Villa Novans have allowed all season.

“Our defense had been playing extremely well,” said Henderson. “I felt we had a group of young guys who could play aggressive on defense.”

In retrospect, maybe the Villa Novans were too aggressive on defense and it cost them. That performance was in stark contrast to the one they delivered in a 12-7 victory over Westerly when they only allowed three pass completions.

“We got off to a good start but we knew there still was plenty of work to do,” said Henderson. “It seemed that everyone played their worst game at the same time (against Rogers).

“It was humbling but now we go back to the drawing board try to get ready for a return to league play.”

Being humbled notwithstanding, the Villa Novans already hold the first tiebreaker should that come into play at the end of the season (record in head-to-head competition).

Johnston and Warwick Veterans are tied for second at 3-1. But the Villa Novans have beaten the Panthers 14-0 and the Hurricanes 27-0.

In fact, the three league opponents left on Woonsocket’s schedule have a combined record of 4-8.

(Read full post)

Recap: No. 1 Mansfield 20, No. 14 KP 7

October, 18, 2013
10/18/13
11:43
PM ET
WRENTHAM, Mass. -- With all of the focus locked in on Mansfield's high power offense and King Philip's stout defense before the game, it was the Hornet defense that stood tall after it.

No. 1 Mansfield scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns on their way to a 20-7 win over Hockomock rival No. 14 King Philip.

"I think the story of the night was our defense," said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. "We gave up one early and then settled down and played great run defense against a very physical team that can run the ball. All week that was what we were preaching. Everyone was going to talk about our offense against the defense but the story of the game is going to be our defense playing against their run game and if we could stop them we have a chance to win."

The Warriors gained the momentum early as their defense forced three straight incompletions from Mansfield QB Kyle Wisnieski and their offense took the ball 63 yards on six plays -- helped by a 15-yard face mask penalty -- and scored first on a Mark Glebus 4-yard touchdown run. But that would be all the Warrior offense would be able to muster up the entire game.

"That was just good old fashioned Hockomock league football," Redding said. "A dirt field, two teams physically hitting each other hard. They were as advertised on defense -- very, very good. They're athletic and they're physical. I just thank God we have some playmakers that made some things happen."

After the teams traded punts three times each, the last being a Christian Flaherty punt that pinned Mansfield at their own 12, the Hornets found their first playmaker. Senior running back Miguel Villar-Perez came in motion and took the hand off and headed right before meeting a host of King Philip defenders. He quickly cut back left through a whole before turning on the jets, running it 88 yards for a touchdown and the extra point made it 7-7 with 5:55 left in the second quarter.

The play was a hint of luck for Mansfield, as Redding admitted after the game that it wasn't exactly run correctly.

"We had nothing going and I couldn't come up with the call," he said. "We actually lined up wrong and blocked it wrong but we adjusted and Miguel made a great cut back. He's been a clutch guy all year. That was definitely a big play. You don't want to go into halftime shutout and have them feeding off that."

The score would remain 7-7 through the rest of the first half and all through the third quarter as the two squads both were unable to get anything going offensive.

Neither King Philip's rushing attack or Mansfield's passing game found a rhythm until early in the fourth quarter, when Mansfield came up with a new simple strategy: get the ball to junior Brendan Hill. On their last play of the third quarter they started doing so, finding Hill for his first catch on a short 7-yard pass. That then opened the door for other Mansfield receivers.

On a first-and-10 from their own 42, Wisnieski's play-action pass over the middle looked like it was going to be broken up but Kyle Hurley made a move back to the ball, tipping it up before catching it and completing a 26 yard gain. On the next play, Wisnieski mishandled the ball but quickly picked it up and tossed it to a wide open Hurley, who ran it in for a 22-yard touchdown play, giving the Hornets a 14-7 lead with 9:20 left in the game.

King Philip looked to strike back quickly and almost did when quarterback J.J. Dillon heaved one to Peter Garrity downfield, but the ball slipped through his hands and the Warriors settled with a three and out and a punt.

The Hornets continued with their strategy of getting the ball to Hill, who was held without a catch in the first half. Facing third and 10 in their own half, Wisnieski threw one towards the sideline but a King Philip defender jumped the route, getting his hands on it but it slipped through and Hill was able to catch it while falling down. Three plays later, another play-action led to a 21-yard catch for Hill, at the KP 5-yard line. Villar-Perez was able to just get across the goal line and the extra point missed as Mansfield led 20-7 with 4:20 left in the game.

"He's just unbelievable," Redding said of Hill. "We kind of just got to the point were we said just throw it to him, I don't care if he's covered, just throw it and get a little height on it and he's going to make the catch. He's a clutch guy and they were all over him with the double coverage, banging under and the safety over the top and they did a great job of trying to take him out but it got to the point where we said just get him the ball and let him make plays."

Hill was there again on KP's last ditch effort drive, as a high snap forced a fumble and Hill pounced on it to get the ball back for the Hornets.

With a strong performance from Mansfield's defense came disappointment from KP head coach Brian Lee about his offense.

"I think our offense needed to help our defense out in the second half a little bit," Lee said. "You know, if you leave them out there and leave them out there, eventually those caliber of dudes are going to make plays and thats what happened. When you're playing a team like that, you know they're going to make their plays We said 20 all week long was what we wanted to hold them to so offensively we just didn't do the job but defensively I'm pretty proud of how we played."

Mansfield improves to 6-0 overall and 4-0 and clinches at least a share of the Hockomock Kelley-Rex division and KP falls to 5-1 and 3-1 in the division. The Hornets will look to sweep their league games with a trip to Franklin next week while KP will host Attleboro, fresh off a 45-0 beating of Taunton.

A REMATCH?
Normally when it comes to the Hock, you see a team once and whoever comes out on top keeps bragging rights for a year. But with the new playoff system in place, a rematch between these two is not just possible, it's likely.

With both teams in Division 2 South and both teams top quality squads, a playoff rematch looks promising. Mansfield will continue to be at the top of the ratings while KP won't drop much because of this loss. If you ask Mike Redding what he think's of a rematch, he's pretty clear.

"Mark my words, we'll play again," he said. "I hope its in the sectional championship but these two teams are going to meet up again and it should be a heck of a game because we're both going to make some progress in the Division 2 playoffs, I just hope its the last round."

Recap: No. 18 King Philip 27, Franklin 0

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
11:12
PM ET
WRENTHAM, Mass. -– Want to stop No. 18 King Philip from running the football?

Good luck.

Want to try scoring against the Warriors defense?

Double good luck.

Franklin could have used all the luck in New England and it wouldn’t have been enough to prevent the Warriors from blanking the Panthers, 27-0, in a Hockomock League Kelly-Rex Division game Friday night.

Of the 302 total offensive yards amassed by the Warriors, 275 came on the ground -– due in large part to Mark Glebus (9 carries for 130 yards and three touchdowns) and Joe Johnston (18 carries for 75 yards and one score).

On the flip side of the ball, King Philip held Franklin to 42 yards of total offense and made life miserable for the Panthers’ talented quarterback, Nick Zucco.

Zucco, who was under relentless pressure all night, completed only 6-of-23 passes for 53 yards and was intercepted by Brett McEvoy and Jason Wholley.

In addition, he was sacked three times and forced into at least five “hurries.”

Glebus flashed his speed twice.

On his team’s first possession, he burst through the left side and sprinted 47 yards -– untouched -– for the first of his three scores.

Then, after Wholley’s pick in the fourth quarter, Glebus turned the left corner and dashed 58 yards for the capper.

Earning trust: “We have a lot of faith in Mark now and it’s growing,” KP coach Brian Lee said. “I told him at the beginning of the year we trust Joey and we trust Christian (Flaherty). When we get that trust in you, we’re going to give you the ball, too.


“He’s earned that trust now. He’s maximizing his playing time. He’s playing hard. He’s been playing great for us on defense (cornerback). And now he’s really stepped up to give us another dimension on offense.”

As the Panthers saw, much to their chagrin, that dimension is speed.

“Our other backs wear on you and pound on you and pound on you, and he’s our changeup,” Lee said. “It’s nice to have all of them. Most people would be happy with one of them and we have three good ones.”

At the risk of stating the obvious, King Philip has a host of “good ones” on defense.

In fact, the Warriors defense was so good that the Panthers never entered the red zone once. Their deepest penetration was to the King Philip 34.

“ ‘Mac’ (McEvoy) is the heart and soul of our defense,” Lee said. “He makes all of our checks and gets everybody where they need to be.

“I thought the ‘D line’ played real well tonight. I can’t say enough about the seniors on that defense. This is Mac’s third year. It’s Joey Johnston’s third year starting on our defense. You kind of start with those two guys and trickle down to everybody else.”

“We’re all one team and it takes one team to win,” said McEvoy, a linebacker. “As a unit we pulled through together to get the ‘W’.”

Bad breaks bite Panthers: After Glebus’ first score, the Warriors caught the first of two huge breaks in that opening quarter.

Following the ensuing kickoff, Franklin went three-and-out. But when Danny McDermott dropped back to punt, the snap sailed over his head and Zucco smothered it on Franklin’s 30.

Four plays later, Johnston busted three yards off right tackle for a 14-0 lead.

Then, after the Panthers notched their initial first down of the game, they again were forced to punt. And, again, the snap from center sailed over the punter’s head and Zucco smothered the ball on Franklin’s 37.

That miscue led to Glebus’ second score, a two-yard run for a 21-0 lead at halftime.

Despite what was a comfortable lead, McEvoy was adamant that the Warriors weren’t about to relax and give Franklin a chance to climb back into the game.

“It’s always comfortable when there’s a nice lead,” he said. “But you still have that thought in the back of your head that they can score at any moment and the momentum could change.

“We wanted to keep the momentum down for them and we kept it down for the whole game.”

KING PHILIP 27, FRANKLIN 0
FR (2-3, 0-2) 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 --- 0
KP (5-0, 3-0) 14 - 7 - 0 - 6 --- 27


First quarter
Mark Glebus 47 run (Derek Rochstein kick)
Joe Johnston 3 run (Rochstein kick)

Second quarter
K – Glebus 2 run (Rochstein kick)

Fourth quarter
K – Glebus 58 run (kick failed)

Recap: No. 19 KP 41, Taunton 6

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
11:47
PM ET
TAUNTON, Mass. -- Every game, each team is looking to come out and set the tone early on.

King Philip accomplished that by recovering their own kick off at the Taunton 11-yard line and, two plays later, Joe Johnston ran it in from eight yards out for a quick 7-0 lead 16 seconds into the game.

The No. 19 Warriors continued to roll, beating Taunton, 41-6, in the Hockomock opener for both sides.

"It was huge," Johnston said of the opening kick recovery. "As we were running out there, coach said 'you've got to capitalize on these opportunities.' We had two plays and just punched it in. Right then we weren't going back from there."

Things didn't start much better for the Taunton offense, who looked to be mounting some momentum on their first drive, but after an illegal shift on a third and 2, Jason Wholly intercepted Kyle Medeira to give the ball back to the Warriors (3-0, 1-0). Taunton's defense was able to make a stand but again the offense flustered, this time Andrew Hayward was able to come up with a strip and recovery on Taunton's Domingo Jenkins.

King Philip's ensuring drive went 70 yards on 14 plays, capped off with a J.J. Dillon quarterback keeper from inside the 1-yard line.

"Turnovers are just a huge part of the game," KP head coach Brian Lee said. "You break down the statistics on turnovers and wins. If you can force a turnover, things are going to do your way. You get the ball and it’s uplifting for your team and its disheartening for the other team."

The Tigers (2-1, 0-1) responded with their best play of the game on their next drive. After a run play went for negative yards, Madeira used play action to draw the defense in and then launched a deep ball to a wide open Gerald Cortijo for a 66-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 13-6.

But that would be the lone tally for the Tigers as King Philip went on to score four more touchdowns, including a backbreaker for Taunton right before half. The Tigers defense were able to stop KP three times in a throw from inside the 10, but on fourth and goal, Dillon found Johnston out on a flat for a touchdown. The extra point made it 19-6 with just 30 seconds to go in the half.

"The beginning of the season everything was falling our way," Taunton head coach Chris Greding said. "We had one turnover on offense at the beginning of the season. The wheels came off in the first half. We're not good enough to allow that to happen especially against a great team like King Philip. With the penalties and the turnovers, and the opening kick off, we just couldn't respond."

KP scored three more times in the third quarter: Johnston’s 28-yard run, Christian Flaherty’s 1-yard run, and Mark Glebus’ 39-yard run.

Johnston finished with 157 yards, two rushing touchdowns, and a 6-yard touchdown reception. Both Johnston and Lee credited the KP offensive line for their offensive play.

"We get a lot from those guys," Lee said. "They're not humongous, they're not particularly angry they're very nice boys. But they do what they're told to do and they work hard and they're a good unit."

Johnston took a step further to credit not only his offensive line, but the fullbacks and tightens.

"They were great," Johnston said. "Offensive line, fullbacks, tight ends. We needed them to be great because they're stout up front. Last year we didn't have this much success up front. Once we figured out what they were doing on defense we couldn't be stopped."

JOHNSTON A STUD: By halftime, Johnston had already amassed for over 75 yards, a rushing touchdown, and a receiving touchdown. On the second play of the second half - a first and 20 for KP - Johnston took a play action pass for 21 yards. He then took the handoff three times in a row, and on the third try, burst through the right side, hurdling over Taunton defenders for a 28-yard touchdown run.

The run had a high degree of difficulty, but Johnston made it seem like it was a walk in the park.

And Johnston's philosophy behind his runs is even more elementary.

"I don't like to be tackled," Johnston laughed. "I try to run angry, I'm generally a really happy kid. Once I get on the football field, something gets into me and I like to run angry."

Even as King Philip seemingly was trying to run out the clock in the second half, Johnston broke off a 45-yard run that brought the ball down to the Taunton 6 yard line.

"Twenty-eight -- that kid's a stud," Greding said referring to Johnston's number. "He's real good."

THINGS DON'T GET EASIER: One game down, four more to go for both KP and Taunton against their Kelley-Rex opponents. But with each week, there will be more challenges.

The Warriors will now host four straight games against their divisional opponents, starting with North Attleborough, who are coming off a loss against Mansfield. Taunton will travel to Franklin, a team that they were able to beat last year for their first ever Hockomock win.

"We're just happy to be moving on to next week and getting out of here healthy," Lee said. "The Kelley-Rex right now is just loaded with some very good, physical teams. Its more about survival than anything else."

SIGH OF RELIEF FOR TAUNTON: Late in the first quarter, KP running back took the carry towards the left sideline and up the field for a gain of 17 yards.

But all eyes quickly shifted back to the line of scrimmage, as Taunton junior defensive lineman Cian Doherty lay face down with little movement. There was a quick decision to call for an ambulance and minutes later paramedics arrived. Doherty was stretchered off the field but there was good news after the game.

“His neck kind of flung back and sent a sensation down his spine,” Greding said. “He has movement. It just more or less was a precautionary thing.”

Even better for the Tigers was that Doherty tweeted later Friday night that he was doing well.

Roundtable: Bigger things to come for Xaverian?

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
1:59
PM ET
1. SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYED A MAJOR FACTOR IN XAVERIAN'S 49-13 DRUBBING OF BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM, RETURNING TWO BLOCKED PUNTS FOR TOUCHDOWNSW, BUT A.J. KING (2 TDs) DIDN'T HAVE A BAD DAY EITHER. IS THIS XAVERIAN SQUAD CAPABLE OF ROUTINELY PUTTING UP BIG NUMBERS?

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: If this were 2012, or any other recent year for that matter, I would lean towards labeling that game an anomaly. Xaverian squads typically aren't known for blowing up the scoreboard, instead moving the chains rather steadily behind a conservative multiple offense and relying on change-of-pace backs to grind out the tough yardage. I've been in this for 10 years, and this year's Xaverian team feels like one of the more unpredictable squads that I can recall. And when I say that, I mean you just don't know that they're going to throw at you. Certainly, Jake Farrell brings about an escapeability intangible they typically haven't had with quarterbacks, and there is some promising sophomore talent.

By the way, whoever the special teams coach is at Xaverian, give that man a raise. If you think the B-R game was an aberration, ask the BB&N coaches how their scrimmage with the Hawks went.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: I know we all thought the Hawks’ defense would be ahead of the offense entering the season, but this looks like a much-improved group thus far. I like the one-two punch Shayne Kaminski and Noah Sorrento provide in the backfield. They have some legit targets in the passing game with King and D.J. Sperzel and Jake Farrell has looked great at quarterback. If the offensive line keeps creating holes and pass protecting the way they have in the first two weeks, I don’t foresee a slowdown.

John McGuirk, ESPN Boston correspondent: With the talent Xaverian has they should continue to put up decent numbers. They have four 'big' games left on the schedule in Barnstable, Brockton, BC High and St. John's Prep. All four of those programs are outstanding but all have issues on defense as well which should work in the Hawks' favor.

2. NASHOBA OWNS THE STATE'S LONGEST ACTIVE WIN STREAK (28 GAMES), BUT TWO TOUGH OPPONENTS LAY AHEAD IN WACHUSETT AND ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY. DO YOU SEE THE CHIEFTAINS MAKING IT TO 30 STRAIGHT?

Hall: Wachusett matches up evenly on paper with Nashoba, but watch out for St. John's. Andrew Smiley is heating up (380 passing yards the last six quarters), and the running game seems to be hitting a groove with St. Louis transplant Shane Combs taking over the feature role. The "blur" offense is a whirlwind to handle when all is going right, and you always have to watch where Davon Jones lines up. I see the Pioneers stopping Nashoba's streak at 29.

Barboza: I think it’ll end at No. 29. The Chieftains will get by Wachusett, but I think the Pioneers’ athletes, particularly on the perimeter, will prove too much to handle.

McGuirk: I see Nashoba reaching 30 straight wins. Wachusett is going through a down year, having already lost to St. Peter-Marian and Fitchburg. And what has been noted many times, St. John's biggest weakness the last couple of seasons has been its porous defense and inability to make tackles consistently. If you look past those next two games, the Chieftains will face a pair of unbeatens (Marlborough and Leominster). That is where the streak could possibly come to a close.

3. BETWEEN THE SUPERB STARTS FROM BROCKTON, TAUNTON, TEWKSBURY AND WESTFIELD, THE TRIPLE OPTION IS MAKING A COMEBACK. WHICH TEAM RUNS IT BEST?

Hall: It's tough to argue against Westfield's ridiculous numbers -- there are running backs that will go a whole season not putting up as many rushing yards as the Bombers have their first two games of the season. But it's hard to argue against Brockton's talent. Aaron LeClair and Jamal Williams get to the perimeter quick, and the Boxers can steamroll you inside with counters and dives. All four of these teams have a dynamic playmaker in the backfield -- LeClair, Tewksbury's Eddie Matovu, Westfield's Ben Geschwind and Taunton's Domingo Jenkins -- but I will give Brockton the edge here because of what they have in the trenches. Aaron Monteiro, the Boxers' prized prospect at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, is a road grader at left guard with a pretty high ceiling.

Barboza: As of right now, I don’t see how you can argue with Westfield. The Bombers are running roughshod over opponents behind senior fullback Ben Geschwind. After running for 348 yards and six touchdowns as a team during last week's 49-20 win over West Springfield, Westfield has scored 109 points in two games, with Geschwind averaging more than 150 yards per game.

Josh Perry, HockomockSports.com: I can’t say whether or not Taunton runs it better than other teams in the state, but I can say that the Tigers do make it look fun. With Gerald Cortijo and Steven Harrison giving star back Domingo Jenkins some help in the backfield, the Tigers have speedy and shifty runners. It’s almost enough to make you forget just how good the ground game would have been without Jamal Williams’ move to Brockton. Taunton’s ability to run the triple option will of course get a much tougher test this week against King Philip and its strong defense, but the Tigers are unique among the other Hockomock teams and it can be fun to watch.

McGuirk: The way Westfield is dominating the competition (109 points in two games), I would say the the triple option is working best for them. They have the right personnel to execute it and coach Bill Moore is very good at putting the right players in place to keep it rolling effectively, especially his tandem of Ben Geschwind and Jake Toomey, who are both averaging over 10 yards-per-carry.

4. TWO OF THE MERRIMACK VALLEY CONFERENCE'S BEST SQUADS, CENTRAL CATHOLIC AND LOWELL, SURRENDERED A COMBINED 73 POINTS AGAINST NON-LEAGUE TOP 10 OPPONENTS LAST WEEKEND. ARE WE HEADED FOR ANOTHER SEASON OF HIGH SCORES IN THE MVC?

Hall: Tough to tell, because Tewksbury has more than pulled its weight in the defensive end so far. If there's one team that can avoid track meets, it's the Redmen. Everyone else, good luck. We anointed the MVC "Death By 1,000 Shallow Crosses" a year ago, and with the amount of spread offense and no-huddle tempo deployed in this league, we could very well be in for another season of Wild West scores.

Barboza: I'd take my chances with the defensive units of Andover, Central Catholic, Lowell and Tewksbury against just about any offense in the state, but what comes into play in the MVC is the teams' offensive style of play. With so many teams in its ranks adopting the spread offense, the big numbers put up seemingly on a weekly basis are more a function of the pace of the game, with shortened drives as opposed to rushing-oriented, ball-control styles of play. But as long as MVC teams continue to live and die by the sword (or the spread), I think we'll continue to see some lopsided numbers.

Mike Abelson, ESPN Boston correspondent: Yes and no. Central and Lowell, when the blur is working as advertised, can drop basketball scores on lesser teams because of the athletic talent. That being said, through three weeks there are only two MVC teams averaging 30 or more points. Central is one, and the other, North Andover, hasn't won a game. The only two remaining undefeated teams, Tewksbury and Methuen, are averaging 27 and 18 points a game, respectively, and winning games without all the flash and dash of putting up buckets of points. Yes, the MVC will have it's share of high-scoring contests (I'll put the over/under for Central-Chelmsford at 90.5), but it won't consistently translate to W's.

5. AFTER A ROUGH FIRST WEEK, HAS BARNSTABLE FIGURED IT OUT? CAN THEY KNOCK OFF NO. 1 XAVERIAN?

Hall: I feel like this is a sneaky good matchup. Let's not forget Barnstable was our preseason No. 12 before getting shell-shocked by Dennis-Yarmouth in the opening weekend. There is talent, between versatile athlete Hayden Murphy, shutdown corner Derek Estes and elusive scatback Justus Chafee.

Defensively, Barnstable typically likes to stretch vertically and keep everything in front of them, which can be a bad matchup against spread teams like Dennis-Yarmouth. Last week against BC High, they looked like they cleaned up a lot of their mistakes. Xaverian's offense, while a bit more creative, has some similarities to BC High's. Going the other way, the Red Raiders use some funky misdirection in the run game to prevent linebackers from filling gaps. On their first touchdown against BC, for instance, a receiver backpedaled off the line of scrimmage, feigning a bubble screen, putting several defenders on their heels as Chafee came up the gut on a zone read.

That kind of stuff can keep even the best defenses on their toes. Expect some fireworks, and some dynamic playcalling, in this one.

Barboza: This is a yes-and-no proposition to me. I think the Raiders righted ship after an embarrassing loss to Cape rival Dennis-Yarmouth in Week 1, going on the road to beat another Catholic Conference foe in BC High. But I think Barnstable would need to play a near perfect game, while forcing the Hawks into some turnovers in order to make it four straight defeats of an ESPN Boston No. 1 squad. I'm not saying it will not be a close game, I just like Xaverian a little bit more.

Perry: In a preseason roundtable, I said that Barnstable was a team that was getting overlooked because of the players that it lost from last year. I’ll stick by that and say that the Raiders give Xaverian a run for their money. The No. 1 ranking has been more of an albatross than an honor this year, so I’ll say that Barnstable has a good chance of causing the Hawks problems.

McGuirk: Barnstable is good but Xaverian is playing with a lot of confidence, especially following the huge win over B-R last week. The Hawks should take care of the Red Raiders who gave up 37 points to D-Y in Week One but did bounce back nicely last week against BC High.

Abelson: In Hayden Murphy I trust. In the ESPN Boston poll curse I believe. Barnstable, 27-21.

6. THE HOCKOMOCK LEAGUE'S KELLY-REX DIVISION MIGHT BE THE STATE'S MOST UNPREDICTABLE RACE THIS FALL. AS LEAGUE PLAY OPENS UP THIS WEEK, PROJECT YOUR CHAMPION AND DARK HORSE.

Hall: Mansfield was the prohibitive favorite in most minds heading into the season, and so far they've done little to suggest otherwise. Consider that nearly three weeks out from their shocking upset of Dunbar (Md.), the Hornets are still without five starters. They're already a dynamic offense, between quarterback Kyle Wisnieski, 6-foot-5 flex tight end Brendan Hill, and space-carving tailback Miguel Villar-Perez. Hard to go against that.

For dark horses, I like Attleboro. I think it's understated how big their line is, particularly at defensive tackle, and there are plenty of weapons on offense between quarterback Tim Walsh, tight end Luke Morrison and receiver Brendan Massey. This program has long been a sleeping giant, and new coach Mike Strachan has re-awakened those sentiments.

Barboza: All along, I've penciled in Mansfield as the team to beat in the Kelley-Rex. I believe they had the most complete group of talent on either side of the ball, and also had the most upside. The scary part is that, due to injury, the Hornets might not have yet hit their apogee and will continue to strengthen as the season progresses.

Now, for the sleeper, I know we've talked up Attleboro up a lot in the early going -- to the point that I really think they're a threat in Division 1 South. Seeing that the Blue Bombardiers are for real in the first two weeks of the season, I'm going to go with Taunton. I don't think Chris Greding has gotten enough credit for the job he's done turning around the Tigers program in short order. Of course, an infusion of talent led by Domingo Jenkins helps, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Taunton knocks off one of the Hock's "Big Three" -- King Philip, Mansfield, North Attleborough -- at some point this season.

Perry: The favorite heading into the Hockomock League season is defending champions Mansfield and its new spread attack that takes advantage of its great weapons like senior quarterback Kyle Wisnieski and junior tight end Brendan Hill. Attleboro has gotten a lot of hype from media, me included, in the preseason as a sleeper in the Hock. A new coaching staff, a new field, and new schemes on both sides of the ball have made the Bombardiers a much more confident crew and better utilize the weapons that it has. The Bombardiers were only a few mental mistakes from beating Mansfield last season and Tim Walsh is on fire running the spread formation – watch out for Attleboro. Of course, watch out for KP, Franklin, and North Attleborough, too. It really is up for grabs

McGuirk: The Kelly-Rex Division is solid with four teams still unbeaten (Mansfield, Attleboro, North Attleboro and Taunton). When it is all said and done. I believe it will come down to Mansfield and North Attleborough for the title because of their high-octane offenses. Attleboro has to be considered the darkhorse here because of its stingy defense which could carry them through. It will be interesting to watch all four of these team beat up one another during the season and see who survives.

Recap: No. 22 King Philip 7, Westwood 0

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
12:29
AM ET
WRENTHAM, Mass. – Senior tailback Joe Johnston rushed for 149 yards on 19 carries (106 yards in the second half) and in the fourth quarter provided the lone score of the game, as No. 22 King Philip held off a strong challenge from visiting Westwood to pick up a 7-0 win in its home opener.

It was a hard-hitting, grind-it-out game, which suited the Warriors and head coach Brian Lee just fine.

“I think we just talked a lot about perseverance,” said Lee. “We talked about trying to wear them down. When it was 0-0 at the half, it was right where we wanted to be… We knew were having trouble moving the ball and we just had to try and grit it out.”

Westwood (1-1), which scored 36 points in an exciting upset of preseason No. 21 Needham last week, struggled to get going offensively and head coach Ed Mantie gave some credit to the KP defense, but also felt that the problems were self-inflicted. The Wolverines had seven false start penalties, including four in its first two series, had two punts blocked (and another two that went a combined 13 yards), and an interception that led to the winning drive.

“One step forward and two steps back, that’s what it was all day long,” he remarked. “Our punting game was awful. Every time we would make a play and change the field position on them, we would pick up a penalty. Against a defense like that, if you get into first and long, it’s really, really hard.”

Owen Galvin made the big defensive play in the fourth quarter with an interception off of Westwood quarterback Bo Berluti at the Wolverines 39-yard line. Christian Flaherty (9 carries, 58 yards) had a pair of rushes, but a penalty made it second and 10 at the 25.

Sophomore quarterback Derek Roschlein, who had been replaced at halftime but had to come back in after an injury, hit Johnston for 28 yards to the Westwood 7. It was his only completion of the game (1-4, 18 yards). Johnston would cap the drive with a touchdown on the next play.

Lee was proud of Roschlein’s reaction to being pulled after halftime. He said, “That could kill a kid, which is why you don’t want to do it and then he comes back and does a great job for us. He has done a great job filling in some games.”

There was still 6:29 on the clock and Westwood would start the next possession on its own 43. After a first down, the Wolverines had a false start penalty, a fumbled snap that lost three yards, a negative rush, an incompletion, and were forced to punt. It encapsulated how the Westwood offense performed all game and, according to Mantie, it wasted a solid game from the defense.

“Our defense played great, certainly well enough to win,” said Mantie. “Our offense has to do better and our special teams need to step up and do what we need to do to win… If we hold a team like that to seven points, we need should be able to get two scores to win.”

KP (2-0) had one last possession to run out the clock with 3:39 left at its own 11-yard line and Johnston stepped up with the longest play from scrimmage. He raced 65 yards down the left sideline to ice the game for the Warriors, who got to the Westwood 1 before taking a knee and running out the clock.

Johnston was also a prominent player on the defensive side of the ball as the Warriors limited Berluti (13-17, 93 yards passing and 13 carries, 21 yards rushing) and the spread formation attack of the Wolverines. The Warriors had success despite an injury to senior linebacker Brett McEvoy that kept him out of the first few defensive possessions of the second half. Johnston was everywhere in the middle of the field and junior lineman John Marcinkevicius continually got into the Westwood backfield.

“They’re very similar types of players for us,” explained Lee about his two senior captains. “When one is down then the other one steps in and picks the other one up and we do that as a team as well.”

Despite the defeat, Mantie is hopeful that the two games against Division 2 competition would reap benefits when league play begins in two weeks. He noted, “We want to make this the last game that we lose. Iron sharpens iron, as they say, so we should be pretty sharp by now.”

Both teams have a bye next week. The following Friday, King Philip will travel to Taunton and Westwood goes to Medfield.

Recap: No. 23 KP 35, Middleborough 13

September, 7, 2013
9/07/13
7:54
PM ET


MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. – It all started with a “Pop!”

After a lack-luster first half, No. 23 King Philip trailed Middleborough, 7-6, at Battis Field on Saturday. Then, Warriors linebacker Brett McEvoy set the tone for what was to come.

McEvoy, who also handles kick-off duties for KP, booted the opening kick downfield, wove through the return block like pylons and met the ball carrier with loud thud. The ball popped loose and the game was never the same.

The Warriors forced four turnovers in the second half and ran away with a 35-13 win over the Sachems.

“It’s nice when you have your kicker who can run down, lays somebody out and forces a turnover for you,” KP head coach Brian Lee said of McEvoy’s thunderous special teams play.

The Warriors (1-0) utilized a short field to set up several scores in the second half.

Andrew Hayward recovered the fumble McEvoy forced and, six plays later, KP had its first lead of the game on Christian Flaherty’s second rushing touchdown of the game.

On the ensuing Sachems (0-1) possession, Kyle Loewen grabbed the first of three Warriors interceptions. Again setting up shop on the plus-side of the 50-yard line, KP needed just two plays before Joe Johnston (13 carries, 110 yards) found the end zone for his first of two rushing touchdowns.

Owen Galvin then pocketed the Warriors’ second interception, taking back a pick-six 23 yards.

Finally, after collecting an interception of his own, Johnston capped another scoring drive with a 3-yard touchdown run two minutes into the fourth quarter for a 35-7 Warriors’ lead.

Sophomore running back Eddie Hart added a 39-yard touchdown run with a nice cut-back move in the open field to cap scoring for the Sachems.

“The beginning, the first half, we came out real soft,” Johnston said. “I don’t know why the first game of the year we weren’t ready for it.”

Then, that changed. Thanks to McEvoy.

“[The hit] just sparked us. Everybody got going and we fed off of that.”

Undaunted: The Warriors were able to wear down Middleborough in the second half thanks to a relentless edge rush from junior defensive end Peter Garrity.

The 6-foot, 175-pounder registered a pass defended in the first half, batting down a pass at the line of scrimmage. He also tallied two tackles that went for no gain or a loss.

“He’s a kid that we have high expectations for,” Lee said of Garrity. “He has a big job to do for us and he was able to do it today.”

Building blocks: While the Sachems offense sputtered in the second half, there were plenty of positives to take away from a rough afternoon.

Middleborough, coming off its first winning season since 2005, under Patrick Kingman, has a core strength on the defensive line. The Sachems more than held their own for the better part of three quarters against a relentless KP rushing attack.

They also got penetration. Senior defensive tackle Vasili Papathanasiou finished with 1.5 tackles for loss.

Also, look out for senior two-way tackle Jeremy Hernandez. The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder recently won the heavyweight wrestling title at the Bay State Games.

At No. 23 King Philip, The Dude abides

August, 22, 2013
8/22/13
8:21
PM ET
This isn’t a ‘90s Nickelodeon show. It’s not Jeff Bridges searching for his lost Creedence tapes.

In Brian Lee’s realm as the head of King Philip football, just about everybody is a “Dude.”

“I guess you could say we’re a team of Dudes,” senior Brett McEvoy said while chuckling Wednesday. “The team is The Dude.”

While it might be the colorful (and we mean that frankly, evidenced by Lee’s frequent choice of footwear – a pair of banana peel yellow Crocs) coach’s means of expressing reverence for one of his players, it also speaks to the kind of athletes the No. 24 Warriors have had in recent memory.

Who is that KP football player? Typically, they’re tough. Rugged, really. In more instances than not, they play on both sides of the ball. It’s a result of what Lee expects from his players.

“There are only so many players that can play,” said McEvoy, an inside linebacker and tight end. “We’re not expected to play both ways, but the best players are the ones that’ll get on the field.

“We don’t think about it that much, we’re just doing what we’re told to do.”

McEvoy, like a number of his KP teammates, have been around as well. He’s a three-year starter, somebody that Lee terms to be a quarterback of the defense.

He has help as well. Along with fellow seniors Joe Johnston, Christian Flaherty and Mike Cooke, Lee has a cabal of experienced players he has come to trust on both sides of the ball.

“It’s more out of necessity,” Lee said of his two-way players. “We’re a bigger school, but we only have about 50 kids out for varsity football. Really, no matter what your numbers are, you end up getting about eighteen or twenty bodies on field a night. Your team really focuses on those players, so you’re using them over and over.

“They have to be a piece in the machine, you don’t have other options.”

Still, of that multi-talented group, that’s something else that is found in these players: a sense of accountability. McEvoy, a preseason ESPN Boston All-State linebacker, understands that principal. He’s from a military family. His father, Matt, (a Mansfield alum!), is a Marine Corps veteran and his brother, Ben, joined the Marine Reserve earlier this year.

Brett McEvoy has also considered the services while hoping to attract the attention of college football recruiters.

“He’s a ‘tweener for colleges,” Lee said of the 6-foot-1 McEvoy, “he’s not quite big enough yet. He’s not going to be your 6-foot-4 linebacker, but he’s a great player for us. He can really play.”

In other words, he’s a Dude – with a capital ‘D.’

KING PHILIP AT A GLANCE
Coach: Brian Lee (9th year, 52-35)
Last season: 10-1
Returning Starters: 12 (six offense, six defense)
Key Returnees: Brett McEvoy, Sr. LB/TE, 6-1, 185lbs.; J.J. Dillon, Sr. QB, 6-0, 175 lbs.; Joe Johnston, Sr. RB/SS, 6-1, 195 lbs.; Christian Flaherty, Sr. RB/DE, 6-1, 180 lbs.; Jason Wholley, Sr. DB/E.
Strengths: Experience at skill positions and key defensive positions.
Weaknesses: Depth; inexperience on offensive/defensive lines.
Overview: Lee loves to run the ball, and senior quarterback J.J. Dillon (7 TD passes in 2012) knows that. But that hasn’t prevented the head coach from developing a strong trust in Dillon, who’s been the starter for the better part of the last two seasons. Lee has – with increasing confidence and leniency – allowed Dillon a greater hold of the offense, allowing the senior to make calls at the line of scrimmage and an increasing number of “check-with-me” plays.We were giving him little bits to focus on and adding little things here and there week by week,” Lee said of Dillon’s sophomore campaign. “Last year, with everything he does, watching film and trying to understand opposing defenses, we were able to do more with him. He’s a smart kid.” With that being said, expect even gaudier numbers this season from Joe Johnston, who led the Warriors with 1,361 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns in 2012 and whose a year bigger and stronger. Also, look for junior Mark Glebus to have an increased role in the backfield. On defense, well … You can always expect the kitchen sink from the Warriors coaching staff who are content to bring pressure from any and all angles in any and all situations.

Roundtable: Best players, breakout stars, sleepers

August, 21, 2013
8/21/13
6:03
PM ET
Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools editor


Best QB: Cody Williams, Springfield Central
Best RB: Johnathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR: Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE: Brendan Hill, Mansfield
Best OL: Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best DL: Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best LB: C.J. Parvelus, Everett
Best DB: Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense: Natick
Best rushing offense: St. John's Prep
Best offensive line: St. John's Prep
Best defensive line: Reading
Best linebackers: Reading
Best secondary: Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Medway
Coach Dave McSweeney's affinity for power football isn't a secret, and this season he'll have two road-graders to run behind in Kevin Sheehan (6-4, 285) and Cam Smith (6-5, 290, Lafayette commit). If there's any exhibit for why we needed to change the postseason format, the most glaring sample might be the Mustangs, who went 19-3 from 2009-10 with no playoff berth. In this new playoff system, a gameplan like the Mustangs' is built for the long haul.

Lynn English
Perhaps this isn't a surprise pick so much as an affirmation. In a Division 2 North that is perceived to be wide open after heavy favorite Reading, the Bulldogs have enough talent to make a deep run. There has always been elite talent at the skill positions, but Preseason All-State selection Chris Tinkham gives them a presence in the trenches they've lacked the last few years, a rare "war daddy" type who overpowers the interior gaps. The biggest question will be where the Bulldogs put junior Jordan Javier, a 6-foot-4 transfer from Haverhill who is a matchup problem at his natural split end position but also throws one of the prettiest balls you'll see on the North Shore.

Quabbin
The Panthers struggled to a 4-7 tune last season in a weak league, but there is some promise. Quarterback Dylan Kierman is an underappreciated talent, who should get a boost from the return of slippery receiver Nick Thyden. The Panthers run a unique "Air Raid" scheme, and another year of experience with it could surprised teams in Division 4 Central.

THREE BREAKOUT ATHLETES TO WATCH

Lukas Denis, Jr. ATH, Everett
After an injury-shortened 2012 season in which he was the assumed successor to record-setting quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso, but barely saw the field, Denis is moving to the perimeter, where he will take a role similar to the hybrid slot-back role that Manny Asprilla made legendary in 2010. Defensively, he should serve as a terrific compliment in the secondary to highly-touted safety/cornerback Lubern Figaro, and has already begun to pick up some Division 1 FBS interest.

Alfred Adarkwah, Sr. WR, Doherty
Standing a long 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan, Adarkwah has an unusually large catching radius for a high school receiver. This summer in passing leagues, the Highlanders toyed with Adarkwah and Boston College-bound receiver Isaac Yiadom on the same side of 2x2 formations. Head coach Sean Mulcahy has to be excited with the possibilities that opens up -- just imagine sending those two on a post-wheel combo route. Or better yet, imagine running them on a bubble screen, taking advantage of both Yiadom's elite speed and Adarkwah's great downfield blocking skills.

Taj-Amir Torres, Jr. ATH, Amherst
Already a household name in track and field, where he was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year last spring as a sophomore after winning New Englands in the 100-meter dash, he's about to get a whole lot more attention. Boston College, UConn and UMass have already offered Torres, who made just 24 catches last season but made some incredible feats of athleticism. Hurricanes head coach David Thompson told us earlier this month "[We're] trying to get the ball in his hands every opportunity we get", so expect bigger numbers in 2013.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS

Div. 1 - Everett
Div. 2 - Springfield Central
Div. 3 - Walpole
Div. 4 - Doherty
Div. 5 - Auburn
Div. 6 - Millis/Hopedale

***

Scott Barboza
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor

Best QB - Drew Belcher - Sr. Reading
Best RB - Johnny Thomas - Sr. St. John’s Prep
Best WR - Brian Dunlap - Jr. Natick
Best TE - Rory Donovan - Sr. Cardinal Spellman
Best OL - Jon Baker – Sr., Millis/Hopedale
Best DL – Joe Gaziano – Jr., Xaverian
Best LB – Eddie Motavu – Sr., Tewksbury
Best DB - Lubern Figaro - Sr. Everett
Best passing offense - Natick
Best rushing offense - St. John's Prep
Best offensive line – Bridgewater-Raynham
Best defensive line - Reading
Best linebackers - Leominster
Best secondary - Everett

THREE SURPRISE TEAMS

St. Mary’s (Lynn)
OK, so a team coming off an 11-2 season and a Super Bowl appearance might not exactly be a surprise, but with a couple of other Catholic Central teams garnering the buzz in the preseason, let's not forget the Spartans have another season with Jordan Collier (1,495 yards, 18 TD).

Hingham

We've heard them knocking, but can they come in? The Harbormen have whittled the gap in recent years, particularly against Patriot League nemesis Duxbury, but they're still waiting to break through. They could have an in-road in Division 3 Southwest. An early non-leaguer against Oliver Ames should be a bellweather for things to come, but the real proof will come Oct. 5, against those aforementioned Dragons.

Wakefield
The Warriors fell short of their goal of winning the Middlesex League's Freedom division last year, but should be in the mix in a wide open Division 3 Northwest race. We'll have a better impression after a visit from Lynn English in Week 2.

THREE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES

Joe Johnston, Sr. RB/S, King Philip
Anybody who saw Johnston's hard-nosed 157-yard, 2-touchdown performance against North Attleborough last year knows Johnston's style. He's a burden for would-be tacklers inside the box, and once he kicks it outside, he's also very hard to catch.

Grant Kramer, Sr. OT, Duxbury
The younger brother of Boston College tackle Aaron Kramer, Grant is now ready to assume the role as the next great lineman on the Dragons' line (and there have been some very good ones in recent memory). He currently holds offers from Coastal Carolina and Villanova but has also expressed interest in attending West Point.

Connor Moriarty, Sr. RB, Walpole
When Rebels starter Mike Rando went out with an ankle injury near the midway point of the regular season last year, it was Moriarty who carried the load down the stretch. Expect even bigger numbers this year.

WAY TOO EARLY CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS:

D1 – St. John’s Prep
D2 – Springfield Central
D3 – Walpole
D4 – Doherty
D5 – Auburn
D6 – Millis/Hopedale

***

Josh Perry
ESPN Boston correspondent


Best QB - Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB - Jonathan Thomas, St. John’s Prep
Best WR – Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE – Brendan Hill, Mansfield
Best OL – Jon Baker, Millis-Hopedale
Best DL – Andrew Bourque, Reading
Best LB – Kevin Bletzer, Catholic Memorial
Best DB – Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense - Natick
Best rushing offense – St. John’s Prep
Best offensive line – St. John’s Prep
Best defensive line - Reading
Best linebackers – Catholic Memorial
Best secondary - Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE:

Attleboro
A new coaching staff, the energy of a new field complex, and a strong crop of returning seniors could make the Bombardiers the surprise team of the Hockomock League. Attleboro has always been a sleeping giant and the program continues to find solid athletes, it’s now up to the new staff to build a system that fits the talent on the roster. With a couple of league rivals dealing with injuries and suspensions, Attleboro could sneak up on people.

Barnstable
Everyone assumes that there will be a significant drop off for the Red Raiders due to a big graduating class, but there is still potential to be a solid team in D2 and in the OCL. This may not be a another season with Barnstable holding the top spot in the poll, but it shouldn’t be written off either.

Stoughton
The Knights are expected to finish behind Oliver Ames in the Davenport, but don’t be surprised if they pull an upset or two and give the Tigers a run at the title. Watch out for running back Malachi Baugh, who will be getting the majority of the carries this season and is a beast to try and bring down.

THREE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES TO WATCH

Luke Morrison, Sr. TE/DE, Attleboro
Attleboro’s giant tight end/defensive end is a monster match-up on both sides of the ball and could be a real threat as Tim Walsh’s favorite target in the Bombardiers passing attack.

Ryan Charter, Sr. QB, Needham
Mike Panepinto has deservedly drawn praise as the star man on the Needham offense, but the senior quarterback, who has been under center for 1-1/2 seasons already, will have high expectations as the Rockets try to get back on top in the Bay State.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
With the graduation of running backs Robbie Rapoza and Kevin Makie and the continued injury problems for wide receiver Michael Hershman the key cog for the Hornets offense will be its senior quarterback. Wisnieski’s ability to spread the ball around and pick the right options out of a still talented receiving corps that includes Brendan Hill is going to be the key for Mansfield’s run at a Hockomock title.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS:

Div. 1 – St. John’s Prep
Div. 2 - Nashoba
Div. 3 – Bishop Feehan
Div. 4 - Doherty
Div. 5 - Auburn
Div. 6 – Millis-Hopedale

***

Ryan Kilian
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Massachusetts Prep Stars


Best QB - Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB - Johnathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR - Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE - Rory Donovan, Cardinal Spellman
Best OL - Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best DL - Alex Quintero, Lowell
Best LB - C.J. Parvelus, Defense
Best DB - Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense - St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Best rushing offense - St. John's Prep
Best offensive line - St. John's Prep
Best defensive line - Reading
Best linebackers - Duxbury
Best secondary - Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Bedford
While Wayland and Concord-Casrlisle have earned the DCL Small Championship the past few years do not sleep on Bedford in 2013. The Bucs play one of the toughest schedules in Division 4 and the return All-DCL running back Olan Abner.

Chelmsford
While Lowell, Central and Andover are getting most of the early press in the MVC Large, the Chelmsford Lions return one of the State's top running backs in Jeff D'Auria, a seasoned young quarterback in Jack Campsmith and a nice nucleus of tough experienced defenders.

Archbishop Williams
If Archies can find early offensive balance to take some of the work load off the shoulders of star senior back Kylan Philbert-Richardson, they could make some noise in the D5 playoff hunt.

THREE BREAKOUT ATHLETES TO WATCH

Ian Kessel, Soph. RB, Haverhill
The St. John's Prep transfer saw late game carries last season as a freshman for Prep's Super Bowl Champion squad. The speedy halfback is now back home in the MVC Small, and with the graduation of work horse, All-State RB Chance Brady (Tufts), there should be plenty carries to go around.

Devin Lekan, Sr. DE/TE, Chelmsford
D'Auria and Campsmith return to lead the offense for Chelmsford's but it is the Lion defense could be the story if they stay healthy. The Lions feature the 2nd team all-MVC performer was the most impressive player in the games I saw last season.

Nick Orekoya, Jr. DB/RB Billerica
Orekoya saw a lot of playing time as a two-way starter for Billerica last season. With another year under his belt Orekoya should thrive in coach Rich McKenna's high octane offense.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS

Div. 1 - Everett
Div. 2 - Reading
Div. 3 - Tewksbury
Div. 4 - Dennis-Yarmouth
Div. 5 - Auburn
Div. 6 - Boston Cathedral

***

John Botelho
Editor-in-Chief, South Shore Sports Journal


Best QB - Troy Flutie, Natick
Best RB - Dylan Oxsen, Plymouth South
Best WR - Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE - Rory Donovan, Cardinal Spellman
Best OL - Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best DL - Steve Manning, Abington
Best LB - Kervin Jean-Claude, Brockton
Best DB - Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense - Natick
Best rushing offense - St. John's Prep
Best offensive line - St. John's Prep
Best defensive line - Auburn
Best linebackers - Brockton
Best secondary - Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Brockton
They're ranked pretty high in any poll you look at because people have just come to accept the fact that Brockton generally reloads. They graduated 18 starters from last season's Super Bowl team, including quarterback Austin Roberts, who was one of the best in school history. Roberts, Micah Morel and Joe Previte are all playing ball at prep schools this year, and Anthony Davis has moved on to Div. 1 Central Connecticut. Still, the Boxers will very solid again. They have a number of athletes and playmakers, including returning do-it-all Aaron Leclair. Transfer Jamal Williams is going to compliment him well, and sophomore Kerry Raymond is physically imposing at 6-foot-1 and 205. Aaron Monteiro's 6-foot-5, 295-pound frame gives Brockton an anchor on the offensive line. They have plenty of guys ready to step forward on the other side of the ball as well, led by Kervin Jean-Claude, Justin Ahanon and Leclair.

Abington
The Green Wave went unbeaten in their march toward a Super Bowl crown last year, but saw a slew of stars graduate. QB Brandon Cawley, TE/DE Pat Dwyer, FB Jack Malafronte, RB Babila Fonkem, DB Mike Walsh, OL Tyler Perakslis and OL Matt Diver are just some of the elite players Abington graduated. These guys won't miss a beat though, as they have a ton of talent back. Matt Kilmain broke out for more than 400 yards on 27 carries in two postseason wins last year, and he might not even be the best player back this season. Abington returns its top three tacklers from a year ago and has most of their front seven back on defense. Jim Kelliher has one of the best coaching staffs going at this point, and these guys look like they're headed back to the playoffs. (For bold prediction purposes, I'm also going to go ahead and say I think they beat Duxbury on opening night, because that's how good I think this team can be).

Stoughton
The Black Knights missed the playoffs last year because of the wrong day for a let down game, taking a tough defeat to eventual Super Bowl champ Sharon. The Knights lost some very good players, but leading running back Malachi Baugh is back in the fold and they return four starting offensive lineman, so there's no reason to think the offense won't be up to par again. The Hockomock League has proven in recent years to be one of the toughest to win, but a second guaranteed playoff berth can only help a team like Stoughton.

THREE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES TO WATCH

Aaron Monteiro, Jr. OL, Brockton
Monteiro has something that can't be learned, or even worked toward. His 6-foot-5, 295-pound frame is one that will draw the interest of coaches at the next level. Coach Peter Colombo is very excited about plugging the junior into his offensive line, and it's not just because of the size. Monteiro worked during the off-season to get himself stronger and is primed to be one of the best lineman in the state. He plays basketball in the winter, something that has helped him develop quick and agile feet for a guy his size.

Sam Malafronte, Jr. LB, Abington
Started at linebacker a year ago as a sophomore for the Div. 4 Super Bowl champs, and finished second on the team in tackles. A very good athlete who is a work-out warrior, Malafronte will team with Matt Whelan to lead a solid corps in the middle of the field for the Green Wave.

James Shea, Sr. WR, East Bridgewater
The Vikings have benefited from having tremendous athletes in the backfield the last few years (think Casey DeAndrade, Tim O'Brien, Andrew Benson and Kevin Lynch), but in 2013 their most dangerous player will be splitting out wide. Shea can run with just about anyone -- he finished sixth in the 100-meter dash in the South Shore League last spring -- and is going to wreak havoc pulling in passes all year.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS

Div. 1 - Everett
Div. 2 - Natick
Div. 3 - Plymouth South
Div. 4 - Doherty
Div. 5 - Abington
Div. 6 - Millis/Hopedale

ESPN Boston Preseason MIAA All-State Team

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
8:17
AM ET
The MIAA football season officially kicks off today with the first sanctioned team practices. Below is our fourth annual ESPN Boston Preseason MIAA All-State Football Team, as well as our expansive "Watch List".

*Indicates returning All-State

OFFENSE

QB – Drew Belcher, Sr., Reading*
QB – Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick*
QB – Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)*
QB – Cody Williams, Sr., Springfield Central
RB – Johnathan Thomas, Sr., St. John’s Prep*
RB – Dylan Oxsen, Sr., Plymouth South*
RB – Mike Panepinto, Sr., Needham
RB – Brandon Gallagher, Jr., Bridgewater-Raynham
WR – Brian Dunlap, Jr., Natick*
WR – Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty
WR – Jack Galvin, Sr., Lowell
WR – Ju’uan Williams, Sr., Springfield Central
TE – Rory Donovan, Sr., Cardinal Spellman
TE – Brendan Hill, Jr., Mansfield
OL – Jon Baker, Sr., Millis/Hopedale*
OL – Kent Blaeser, Sr., St. John’s Prep
OL – Shawn Whitaker, Sr., Bridgewater-Raynham
OL – Cam Smith, Sr., Medway
OL – Sean Lee, Sr., Springfield Central
ATH – Dave Harrison, Sr., Weymouth
ATH – Neil O’Connor, Sr., Leominster

DEFENSE

DL – Andrew Bourque, Sr., Reading
DL – Will Greelish, Sr., Auburn
DL – Alex Quintero, Sr., Lowell
DL – Chris Tinkham, Sr., Lynn English
LB – C.J. Parvelus, Sr., Everett
LB – Sean Smerczynski, Sr., St. John’s Prep*
LB – Brett McEvoy, Sr., King Philip
LB – Liam Kenneally, Sr., Reading
LB – Shayne Kaminski, Sr., Xaverian
LB – Tom Rodrick, Sr., Leicester
DB – Lubern Figaro, Sr., Everett
DB – Davon Jones, Jr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
DB – D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie, Sr., Central Catholic
DB – Jarell Addo, Sr., Leominster
D-ATH – Kevin Bletzer, Sr., Catholic Memorial

***

WATCH LIST

Olan Abner, Sr. RB, Bedford
Mike Abruzzese, Sr. DB, Natick
Justin Ahanon, Sr. ATH, Brockton
Shaquille Anderson, Sr. RB, Cambridge
Nick Andreas, Jr. QB, Danvers
Charlie Aylward, Sr. LB, Catholic Memorial
Jordan Balarinho, Sr. QB, Billerica
Michael Balsamo, Jr. DB, Central Catholic
Malachi Baugh, Sr. RB, Stoughton
Joe Bellomo, Jr. RB, Holliston
Aidan Beresford, Sr. OL, Marshfield
Will Blumenberg, Jr. QB, Concord-Carlisle
Will Bolster, Sr. QB, Walpole
Ommel Bonilla, Jr. DL, Andover
Ryan Boucher, Sr. OL, North Reading
Andrew Boynton, Sr. WR, Natick
Luke Brennan, Sr. QB, Doherty
Joe Brown, Sr. OL, Central Catholic
Jake Burt, Jr. TE, St. John’s Prep
Ryan Charter, Sr. QB, Needham
Max Chipouras, Sr. RB, Longmeadow
Jordan Collier, Sr. RB, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Nick Cordopatri, Sr. OL, Walpole
Nicolau Coury, Jr. LB, Lowell
Shyheim Cullen, Jr. LB, Lowell
Jeff D’Auria, Sr. RB, Chelmsford
Kyle Dance, Sr. QB, Latin Academy
Lukas Denis, Jr. DB, Everett
Joe DeNucci, Sr. ATH, Newton North
Kevin DiBona, Sr. LB, Duxbury
Steve DiCienzo, Sr. LB, BC High
Rob DiLoreto, Sr. WR, Reading
Brian Dolan, Sr. QB, Lowell
John Donnellan, Sr. DL, Reading
Isaiah Douglas, Sr. DB, Bishop Feehan
Angel Duarte, Sr. LB, Everett
Michael Dunn, Jr. ATH, Dennis-Yarmouth
Markus Edmonds, Jr. LB, Central Catholic
Derek Estes, Sr. DB, Barnstable
Michael Fawhemini, Sr. DB, St. John’s Prep
Joey Fitton, Sr. OL/DL, Holy Name
Connor Gatto, Sr. OL, Northbridge
Joe Gaziano, Jr. DL, Xaverian
Micah Gregory, Sr. DB, Barnstable
T.J. Hairston, Jr. WR, Watertown
Jack Herlihy, Sr. OL, Duxbury
Michael Hershman, Sr. WR, Mansfield
Kejonte Hickman, Jr. QB, Boston Cathedral
Alex Hilger, Sr. WR, Natick
Sean Hoey, Sr. OL, St. John’s Prep
Jon Holdgate, Sr. LB, Nantucket
Jeff Holland, Sr. ATH, Holy Name
Dom Hooven, Sr. OL, St. John’s Prep
Jack Hubley, Sr. LB, Lincoln-Sudbury
Phoenix Huerta, Sr. QB, Somerville
Jordan Javier, Jr. ATH, Lynn English
Kervin Jean-Claude, Sr. LB, Brockton
Domingo Jenkins, Sr. RB, Taunton
Austin Jones, Sr. OL, Shepherd Hill
Anderson Jupiter, Sr. RB, Somerville
Brandon Kahari, Soph. DB, St. John’s Prep
Devon Kellner, Sr. LB, Taunton
Rory Keohane, Sr. DL, BC High
Chris Kennedy, Sr. LB, Barnstable
Dylan Kierman, Sr. QB, Quabbin
A.J. King, Sr. ATH, Xaverian
Jimmy King, Sr. DL, Reading
Grant Kramer, Sr. OL, Duxbury
Fodee Kromah, Sr. DB, Holy Name
Noah Kung, Sr. OL, Walpole
Michael Kwegyir-Attah, Sr. LB, Haverhill
Jaleel Kyles, Sr. DB, Springfield Putnam
Mitch Laferriere, Sr. LB, BC High
Keagan Latta, Sr. WR, Lowell
Aaron LeClair, Sr. RB, Brockton
Matt Long, Soph. RB, Weymouth
Wayne Lowery, Sr. DB, Springfield Putnam
Steve Manning, Sr. DL, Abington
Kenneth Marshall, Sr. LB, Springfield Central
Ryan Martin, Sr. WR, Bridgewater-Raynham
Ngaiiva Mason, Sr. RB, Lowell
Liam Matheson, Sr. RB, Dennis-Yarmouth
Eddie Matovu, Sr. LB, Tewksbury
Sean McCarthy, Sr. QB, Duxbury
Eric Mercer, Sr. LB, Melrose
Kens Morantus, Sr. LB, Waltham
Connor Moriarty, Sr. ATH, Walpole
Luke Morrison, Sr. TE, Attleboro
Hayden Murphy, Sr. ATH, Barnstable
Kevin Nunes, Sr. WR, New Bedford
Nick Orekoya, Jr. DB, Billerica
Luis Ortiz, Sr. TE/LB, Springfield Central
Derek Pacheco, Sr. DL, Barnstable
Connor Peck, Sr. OL, Catholic Memorial
Khai Perry, Sr. RB, Duxbury
Kylan Philbert-Richardson, Sr. RB, Archbishop Williams
Wes Quinzani, Sr. DB, Duxbury
Aaron Rabb, Sr. DL, Whitman-Hanson
Deion Raper, Sr. DB, Brockton
Kerry Raymond, Soph. RB, Brockton
Eddie Rivera, Jr. RB, Leominster
Justin Robinson, Sr. WR, Natick
Owen Rocket, Jr. WR, St. John’s Prep
Sergio Rodriguez, Sr. OL, Somerville
Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB/LB, Bishop Fenwick
D’Vante Sewell, Sr. DB, Springfield Commerce
Ben Sheehan, Jr. RB, Minnechaug
Tim Smith, Sr. RB, Dartmouth
Joel Sodeinde, Sr. OL, Dartmouth
Jimmy Sullivan, Sr. QB, Nauset
Jack Sylvester, Sr. RB, Andover
Thomas Tabur, Sr. OL, Northbridge
Tyrone Thornton, Sr. DB, Newton South
Nick Thyden, Sr. WR, Quabbin
Griffin Tighe, Sr. DL, Franklin
Coby Tippett, Soph. ATH, Xaverian
Taj-Amir Torres, Jr. WR/DB, Amherst
Spencer Tyler, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth
Luc Valenza, Sr. LB, Foxborough
Jason Valera, Sr. LB, Leominster
Alex Valles, Sr. DB, Danvers
Kahlil Walker, Sr. DL, Springfield Central
Casey Walsh, Sr. QB, North Andover
Isaiah White, Sr. RB, Beverly
Jamal Williams, Sr. RB, Brockton
Mayson Williams, Sr. ATH, Leominster
Raheem Wingard, Sr. QB, Everett
Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
The Hockomock League recently announced its boys' lacrosse All-Stars and season Most Valuable Player.

Here's a look at the list, courtesy of Ryan Lanigan and HockomockSports.com:

Editor's note: League all-star lists may be sent to editors Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com) or Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com).

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Pat Ward, Canton

ALL-STARS
Kurt Leavitt, Canton
Ben Lodge, Canton
J.C. Marcone, Canton
Conor O’Brien, Canton
Pat Ward, Canton
Tyler Ames, Foxborough
Alex Pacitti, Foxborough
Luc Valenza, Foxborough
Kyle Finamore, Franklin
Mike Patjane, Franklin
Jake Sargeant, Franklin
Mike Sullivan, Franklin
Connor Eshmann, King Philip
Brendan Murphy, Mansfield
Matt McIntire, Milford
Eric Overdahl, Milford
Josh Rosenblum, Sharon

D1 South softball: B-R, Milford to meet in final

June, 7, 2013
6/07/13
3:02
AM ET


TAUNTON, Mass. – Bridgewater-Raynham walked-off with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory in the nightcap of the Division 1 South softball semifinals at Taunton High’s Jack Tripp Field. Sophomore catcher Emily Kurkul lined a single to left center driving in the winning run and sending the Trojans to the sectional final.

“It was a great pitchers’ duel,” Trojans head coach Mike Carrozza said. “I mean it’s exciting. It’s a great atmosphere here playing in tournament ball. You know that you’re going to play all the best teams and the games are going to be really hyped up and the teams are bringing all their energy to the plate.”

Heading into the bottom of the ninth, Bridgewater-Raynham had managed only two hits off of the Lakers freshman starter Madisyn Barone. Stacey Korotsky made it three to start the inning when third baseman Abigail Alexiades had to hold onto a grounder, as the first baseman was late getting to the bag.

In close games like these, little mistakes can have big consequences. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runner into scoring position, Kurkul stepped up to put an end to an exciting semifinal.

“I was just thinking that I needed to hit the ball hard, hit the ball through the infield and score Stacey,” said Kurkul about her mindset at the plate in the ninth.

She added, “It was amazing when I knew she was home. I saw her rounding third - it was just the best feeling ever knowing that we had won.”

Silver Lake took the lead in the top of the first inning off of B-R’s sophomore starter, Sarah Dawson. Lead-off hitter Emily Colton lined a single to center and was bunted to second. Two batters later, Alexiades came through with a big two-out hit to make it 1-0.

The Trojans manufactured a run to tie it in the bottom of the fourth. Junior Madi Shaw led-off with a walk and was bunted into scoring position. After a ground-out moved her to third, Shaw came home on a passed ball to bring the score level.

Both Barone and Dawson were stellar in the circle. The Silver Lake hurler did not allow a hit until the fifth and struck out 11 hitters on the night. Dawson matched her almost pitch-for-pitch. The B-R starter allowed only one hit and five base runners after the opening inning and struck out 10 Lakers.

When asked if his team will need to make any adjustments in the sectional final on Sunday against Milford’s Shannon Smith, Carozza replied, “Probably we’re going to approach it like we approach every game and just try to put the bat on the ball, run, bunt, steal, and hopefully things will work out.”

The loss ended the season for Silver Lake and also the long career of head coach Michael Brennan, who announced his retirement after 25 years in charge. Brennan won 335 games with the Lakers and had taken the team to back-to-back sectional semifinals.

Milford 6, Franklin 0
The newly crowned Gatorade Player of the Year did not disappoint in the opening semifinal on Thursday evening. Shannon Smith struck out 11 Franklin hitters, homered, and drove in two runs as Milford beat its Hockomock League rivals 6-0 to advance to the sectional final in its first year in the South region.

Smith struggled early in her start on Tuesday against King Philip, but there were no problems out of the gates on Thursday. She struck out the side in the top of the first on just 12 pitches. Smith then lined a two-out solo homerun in the bottom of the first of Franklin started Elizabeth Criscione that just cleared the 195-foot sign in the leftfield corner.

Head coach Brian Macchi noted that he had spoken with the team prior to the game about trying to get an early run to seize momentum.

“We talked yesterday and today coming up here on the bus about wanting to win the first inning to just set the tone for the game,” he explained. “Shannon [Smith] was the story on the mound and the story at the plate, getting the job done for us today. She’s obviously a huge piece to our success and she came up big for us.”

Milford broke the game open in the third inning. Smith singled to right to score Sam Bonvino, who had walked to lead-off the inning, and courtesy runner Sarah Jacques scored from first on Caroline Fairbanks double to left center. Tuesday night’s hero Rachel Levine followed with another double to make it 4-0.

The Hawks added two more in the fourth to complete the scoring.

It was an impressive win and Macchi is proud of his team for competing through the much longer, and arguably tougher, South sectional to reach Sunday’s final against the top seed, Bridgewater-Raynham.

“I told the girls all season long that this was going to be one tough challenge in the South bracket and looking at all the teams that you have in there,” said Macchi. “We feel fortunate to be where we are. It’s been hard earned to get to this point and we’re looking forward to a big challenge on Sunday.

The final between the top two seeds in the South will take place on Sunday at 6 p.m. back at Jack Tripp Field in Taunton.

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