Boston High School: Kyle Hurley

Recap: Mansfield 6, No. 25 Oliver Ames 2

January, 9, 2014
Jan 9
3:05
AM ET
BROCKTON, Mass. - The game plan was simple for Mansfield: be as aggressive on the forecheck as they could.

They did that and it worked, forcing turnovers that led to goals in a 6-2 win over previously unbeaten No. 25 Oliver Ames.

The Hornets pressure paid off right away, dumping the puck down into the zone before junior Jared Collins fed senior Kyle Hurley on the doorstep for a one time goal that put Mansfield up 1-0, just 2:45 into the game. The period would end 1-0 in favor of Mansfield, which outshot the Tigers, 13-6.

"That was probably our best first period this year," said Mansfield coach Rick Anastos. "We followed it up with an even better second period I thought. It was an overall good effort on both team's part."

Mansfield's pressure paid off once again, this time while on the penalty kill. As their power play came to a close, they were whistled for a minor to put them on the kill. As Oliver Ames tried to bring the puck out of their own end, junior Adam Blackman came away with the steal and went in alone on goal and beat OA goalie Jimmy Tierney to make it 2-0 Mansfield with 9:03 left in the second period.

Less than a minute later, back at even strength, the Hornets continued to push the puck into the offensive third. Sophmore Billy Grant took possession of the puck on the edge of the face-off circle to the left of Tierney and fired a wrist shot that found the back of the net.

"As the game went on, we had some lapses," Oliver Ames head coach Mark Homer said. "When you play good teams, they are going to take advantage of that."

But as expected, Oliver Ames fought itself back into the game.

The Tigers started the final frame on a power play and took advantage 52 seconds in. Senior Colin Lozzi hooked up with classmate Matt Campanella, who fired an absolute snipe past Mansfield goalie Dan Moyer to make it 3-1.

The Tigers made things even more interesting six minutes later as junior defenseman Thomas McCormack sent the puck up along the boards and it was corralled by junior Tyler Provost. Provost faked around the defender before sending a perfect cross-ice pass to classmate Timmy Doherty. Doherty took control of the puck before firing in a shot from close range to make it 3-2 with 7:56 left.

"In the locker room between the second and third periods, we told them 'Look, it's 3-0, they are coming out full force,’” Homer said. “They aren't going to lie down and more than likely going to score, because they are a good team. When they do, that’s the time you need to not panic and just play your game.'

“When they scored that second goal, there was no panic on the bench and there was no let down either."

Just when it looked like Oliver Ames was going to be back in the game, Blackman proved why he's one of the best players in the Hockomock. After Oliver Ames was caught up in a delayed offside, Collins found Blackman in the slot and his wrist shot beat Tierney, scoring with just 2:47 remaining in the game.

"He's just good," Anastos added. "That's what we want from him."

Mansfield added to their lead with two goals in the final two minutes. Senior Ryan Burns intercepted a D-to-D pass in his own end and took it alone the distance before slotting it into the back of the net to make it 5-2. Collins capped the scoring with 1:15 left with a low shot that was able to find the back of the net.

"It wasn't any one thing that went wrong this us, I thought it was several issues," Homer added. "I can put it this way, our forwards didn't score enough goals, our defense let up too many goals, and our goalie didn't stop enough goals. There was no blame on any individual player."

Mansfield outshot Oliver Ames 41-24 in the game and Anastos knows that putting six past Tierney is no small feat.

"He's the best goalie in the league," Anastos said of Tierney. "We had 41 shots, I mean he's really good, there's not much else, he's just real good. We just wanted to shoot, shoot, shoot, and we excited it on the ice and he played outstanding. And I thought our goalie Dan Moyer played real well too."

Mansfield improves to 5-1-0 and will host Milford on Saturday at 5:20 p.m.

The Tigers dropped their first game of the season and are now 3-1-1. They'll be back in action when they take on North Attleborough, Saturday at 6:30 p.m., at the Foxboro Sports Center.

Tale of the Tape: St. John's vs. Mansfield

December, 5, 2013
12/05/13
2:09
AM ET
Ahead of Saturday's six MIAA Football State Championships at Gillette Stadium, today we are bringing back our "Tale of the Tape" series to break down each participating team's matchups headed into the game.

In the Division 2 Final, ESPN Boston High Schools editors Brendan Hall and Scott Barboza take a closer look at Central champ St. John's and South champ Mansfield, respectively.

MIAA Division 2 State Championship
ST. JOHN'S (9-3) vs. MANSFIELD (12-0)
at Gillette Stadium, 1:30 p.m.


When St. John’s has the ball: Be prepared for a blitzkrieg. In these playoffs, the Pioneers are averaging 49.7 points per game -– including 51 or more points in all three of their Division 2 Central contests –- and an unheard-of 482.5 yards of offense, both bests among teams playing on Saturday. Much has been made over the past two years of the Oregon-like offense they’ve installed, looking to push a hyperactive tempo that is nearly unmatched across Massachusetts, and at the forefront of this offensive renaissance has been quarterback and Navy lacrosse commit Andrew Smiley (170-for-245, 2,368 yards, 28 TD, 4 INT; 97 carries, 866 yards, 12 TD). A true dual-threat quarterback, he has perfected the zone read, and demonstrated the ability to make difficult throws in tight windows throughout the state tournament. Smiley left the Thanksgiving matchup with St. Peter-Marian with a shoulder injury, but he is expected to play on Saturday.

A critical part of the Pioneers’ passing game is predicated on finding weak spots in the defense and sitting in the holes, creating a short but fluid rhythm that allows them to keep the chains moving and therefore play fast. In accomplishing this, they may package any number of screens and route combinations on the backside of zone read plays. It’s hard to ascertain who is truly the key receiver in the passing game: Mike McGillicuddy (46 catches, 817 yards, 10 TD), master of the underneath routes; senior T.J. Kelly (30 catches, 502 yards, 6 TD), a prominent basketball forward who can take the safeties deep off the ball; or junior Davon Jones (46 catches, 634 yards, 7 TD), a freakish athlete with a 40-inch vertical, who high-points balls like few others in the state.

Arguably the most crucial element, however, has been their ability to run the ball effectively in these playoffs – and not just with Smiley, who can pull the ball and slip through the first line of defense with his lacrosse-bred running skills. Junior tailback Shane Combs (149 carries, 1,143 yards, 15 TD), a Notre Dame baseball commit, has been incremental in these playoffs, going over the century mark in all four playoff games for a total of 524 yards and 10 touchdowns. As the season has progressed, Combs has transformed from fleet-footed to bullish, a tough downhill runner who can keep his legs churning after first contact.

When Mansfield has the ball: Wednesday's state championship breakfast at Gillette Stadium was dominated by the news that Hornets tight end Brendan Hill, their leading receiver on the season, will miss the game after an ACL injury suffered on Thanksgiving Day against Foxborough. While the loss of an All-State caliber receiver is never a positive, Mansfield still has dangerous targets on the outside to choose from. However, instead of spreading out the ball distribution, an increased number of targets (and the Pioneers' defensive scheming) will shift to Mike Hershman (37 catches, 645 yards, 6 TD) and Kyle Hurley (21 catches, 311 yards, 4 TD).

Leading us to the real X-factor of Saturday's game, which is what does Miguel Villar-Perez have left in the tank? The Hornets' leading rusher (890 yards, 11 TD) has been hobbled in recent weeks and was again banged up during their Thanksgiving game. Also, a dependable pass-catcher out of the backfield and in the slot, Villar-Perez has given Mansfield its dynamism on offense and, with Hill already out of the picture, its imperative that Mansfield maximize his snaps despite perhaps playing at less than 100 percent. If not ready to go, expect a greater dose of senior running back Chris Buchanan out of Mansfield's heavy sets.

Yet, for all the seeming uncertainty now surrounding the Hornets leading in, the constant has been senior quarterback Kyle Wisnieski. Throughout the season, Wisnieski has completed passes at clip of greater than 65 percent, including a very strong postseason run. The supremely efficient passer has also held on to the ball, with a touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio of greater than 5:1 (27 TD, 5 INT).

When St. John’s is on defense: Judging from the scores this fall, one may get the impression this is a suspect defense. All but one opponent has put up double-digits on the Pioneers; nine have reached the 20’s, and three have eclipsed 30. But some of that may be due in part to the type of offense the Pioneers run. With such quick offensive drives, that leads to more possessions for the opposition, which has often led to shootouts this season.

But that isn’t to take away from what has been an athletic unit. At the forefront is the junior Jones, a three-year starter who has gone over 100 tackles for the second straight season (108 tackles, 7 INT, 5 TFL, 3 forced fumbles). Often playing as a high free safety, Jones covers a lot of ground in the deep field, and has developed a reputation as a violent hitter. Occasionally, the Pioneers will split the deep field with Jones and Smiley (3 INT), who made one of the playoffs’ most acrobatic feats with a one-handed interception to ice the Central/West semifinal win over favored Springfield Central.

In the front seven, the Pioneers aren’t overbearing, but they are definitely quick, led by linebackers Patch Ryan (105 tackles, 2 INT, 2 forced fumbles) and Alex Pappas (108 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks). Keep a special eye on defensive end Jeff DeMango (68 tackles, 12 TFL, 8 sacks, 6 passes deflected), who demonstrates exceptional hand skills that are usually good for a batted pass or two.

When Mansfield is on defense: The Hornets' success on defense stems from its interior line, with a couple of underrated pluggers in Andrew Horstmann and Dhruv Patel. Their inside gap responsibilities will be put to the test with Combs and Smiley working the option game. But recent history sides with the Hornets, who held Barnstable's Hayden Murphy to just 21 rushing yards in the teams' Div. 2 South playoff game. Also, on the line, Steve Zieselman has enjoyed a strong senior season, earning Hockomock League All-Star honorers as a dependable two-way contributor, as well as John Keefe (56 tackles).

Junior linebacker Q'Ra Guichard has quietly led the Hornets in tackles (58 solo) to date, but last year's returning top tackler Alex Ruddy has caught up with 56 tackles, despite missing several games to start the season.

Not only will the loss of Hill set back Mansfield's passing game, the Hornets also lost their top pass rusher. Hill leads the team with 7.5 sacks.

Hornets senior Mike Barresi could draw the coverage assignment on Davon Jones, as Barresi leads the team with six passes defended.

D2 South: Mansfield 31, Wellesley 14

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
11:34
PM ET
MANSFIELD, Mass. -- When it looked like Wellesley's defense found a way to limit Mansfield's high-power offense, the Hornets displayed yet another weapon.

Quarterback Kyle Wisnieski ran for a team-high 80 yards helping to spark Mansfield to a 31-14 win over Wellesley in an MIAA Division 2 South Quarterfinal game.

Wisnieski is known for his accurate passing to weapons like Brendan Hill, Michael Hershman, and Kyle Hurley and the Hornets have even established a strong run game this season behind Miguel Villar-Perez and Chris Buchanon, but it was Wisnieski's legs that did the trick Friday night.

After punting on their first offensive series, the Raiders' defense held Mansfield to a 35-yard field goal from senior Alex Thompson. On just their second play of the next drive after recovering a surprise onside kick attempt, Wellesley quarterback John Fadule took it 54 yards for a touchdown to give Wellesley a 7-3 lead, but that would be their only one of the night.

"We tried to steal the onside kick and it backfired," said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. "We gave them a short field and they made us pay. After that I thought we settled down on defense. We gave them some hitches and slants but nothing big. Defense just played great."

Mansfield responded in a fashion they have used all season, mixing in runs and counters with big gain passes. Starting at their own 14-yard line, Villar-Perez and Buchanon combined for 16 yards on three rushes before Wisnieski hit Hurley over the middle for 18 yards and then Hill on the sideline for 33 more. Villar-Perez then went 19 yards almost untouched to give Mansfield the lead back at 10-7.

A quick three-and-out from Wellesley gave Mansfield the ball back at their own 31. Wisnieski dropped back to pass twice in a run but on both occasions, the Raiders had strong coverage and Wisnieski took off running, picking up 21 yards and then 15 yards. With the defense forced to respect Wisnieski's mobility, he connects with a wide-open Hurley on the left side for a 19-yard touchdown to put Mansfield up 17-7.

"They were dropping a lot of guys in coverage so it kind of opened it up," said Wisnieski. "The pass rushers got past me and there was a lot of room to run so I just took advantage of that."

Redding credited both Wellesley for their coverage scheme as well as Wisnieski for being able to make a play.

"They did a good job of covering and had a good scheme in the secondary and kind of clogged things up on Mike Hershman, Brendan Hill, and Kyle Hurley but they did give us some running lanes," he said. "Kyle [Wisnieski] is well respected for throwing the ball to those guys but he's a very good athlete. If he wasn't a quarterback, he'd be a heck of a receiver and defensive back. He makes a lot of bad calls into good ones by getting out and running for some yardage."

The Hornet defense again came up strong, forcing another three-and-out from the Raider offense and their punt was partially blocked by Hill, setting the Hornets up at their own 37. Wisnieski elected to stay in the pocket this time, hitting Villar-Perez over the middle on back to back passes to gain 30 yards. A pass interference call put the Hornets at the Raiders 5-yard line and two plays later, Buchanon punched it in from less than a yard out.

Mansfield almost tacked on another score but Wisnieski was picked off in the end zone, only his third interception thrown all season, and Mansfield took a 24-7 lead into halftime.

Mansfield went three-and-out to start the second half and Wellesley ate up a lot of clock on their first drive but it was ended when Aurian Dawkins came away with his second pick of Fadule. The Hornets then used eight rushing plays and one pass completion to get to the Wellesley 3-yard line as the third quarter ended.

On the first play of the final quarter, Buchanon took the toss to the right before cutting back in and scoring his second touchdown of the game to make it 31-7 with 10:55 left. Wellesley's final touchdown came with just 28 seconds left in the game with back ups from both sides in. Sophomore Myles Cole rushed to the left for a 19-yard touchdown for the Raiders.

"On offense we're pretty explosive at times," Redding said. "We didn't have to punt a whole lot which is good in the playoffs. Kyle was a little dinged up and we really didn't want him running much. He ended up running more than he has in the last month. Brendan made some big, big catches for us."

The top-seeded Hornets will now continue in the playoffs and will host No. 4 Needham, who defeated Duxbury 42-28 on Friday night.

"I like were we are," said Redding. "We're playing good defense and we're balanced on offense but the next round gets even tougher whether its Duxbury or Needham, the level just gets tougher and tougher. You have to bring your A game every Friday if you want to move on."

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."

This ain't your dad's No. 4 Mansfield

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
2:31
AM ET
For Mansfield football head coach Mike Redding, it was as though the lights went out.

The Hornets had rolled to Super Bowl titles behind tall-timbered linemen and their power-running scheme. And then, something strange happened.

“It’s funny because it seems like the last three, four years, we haven’t been getting more big linemen,” said Redding, who enters his 25th year at the helm this year. “But what we are getting is a lot of speed and skill.”

So, in recent years, Redding has done what any good coach does, playing to his team’s strength. He adapted with the pace of change and brought the Hornets into the age of the spread offense.

The decision was a matter of mere necessity.

“We don’t have the teams that we used to have, lining up in the ‘I’ and the Wing-T to run powers and isos,” Redding added. “We don’t have that kind of team anymore.”

While the packaging is different, the results have remained largely the same, as Mansfield has won three straight Hockomock (Kelley-Rex) titles from 2010-12, including another trip to the Eastern Mass. Division 2 Super Bowl last season. Quarterbacked by then-junior Kyle Wisnieski, the Hornets utilized their skill on the perimeter, led by the shifty Mike Hershman and a rangy tight end/wide receiver hybrid in Brendan Hill.

They fit the mold of the modern-build Hornet.

“The thing is that we have a lot of athletes who play lacrosse, or play basketball, in other seasons,” Redding said. “I think those kids are attracted to the offense.

“Now, we’re putting four, five guys out in a formation on offense, whereas before we were lining up with one split end and a couple of wing backs. Now, we have all these athletes on the field who can run, catch the ball and make plays.”

Mansfield’s stylized offense has come with other added wrinkles and benefits. Redding sees the Hornets pushing the pace on offense this year, again playing to strengths of team speed and conditioning.

Also, with Wisnieski’s maturity under center, Mansfield increasingly has built checks into the play-calling, meaning just about every signal from sidelines comes with two possible play options. It’s then the job of the quarterback to pick which of the two calls is most appropriate against the shown defense.

“It keeps us from guessing in the huddle, which is what we used to do,” Redding said.

Meaning that the lights won’t go out again.

MANSFIELD AT A GLANCE
Coach: Mike Redding (25th season, 204-66-4)
2012: 8-5, lost in Division 2 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl.
Players to watch: Brendan Hill, Jr. TE/DE, 6-5, 205 lbs.; Mike Hershman, Sr. WR/DB, 6-2, 175 lbs.; Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, 6-0, 165 lbs.; Alex Ruddy, Sr. FB/LB, 5-10, 175 lbs.; Kyle Hurley, Sr. RB/DB, 5-10, 160 lbs.; Steve Zielselman, Sr. OL/DL, 6-2, 220 lbs.; Max Trowbridge, Sr. OL/DE, 6-0, 185 lbs.
Strengths: Passing game.
Weakness: Lack of game experience at running back.

Outlook: Talk about starting the season with a bang. Mansfield kicks off Friday with a visit to Baltimore and Maryland powerhouse Dunbar. The Hornets have made it a habit of taking on premiere out-of-state games early in the season, having most recently played Christian Brothers (N.Y.) in Syracuse. “The best thing is the team bonding experience,” Redding said. “The kids get on a bus on Wednesday and they’ll be together twenty-four-seven until Saturday night. I think that builds a unity for the full length of the season.”

Northeast 7v7: St. Paul (Conn.) takes South title

July, 22, 2013
7/22/13
12:20
AM ET
EASTON, Mass. -- It's been an eventful offseason in the recruiting department for St. Paul Catholic (Conn.) quarterback Logan Marchi, who saw his childhood dream come true late last month with a verbal commitment to UConn.

Winning? Not so much. Since appearing the CIAC Class MM playoffs in 2009, the Falcons have won just six games in three years. If they're to get back to their winning ways, they're going to need another big season out of Marchi, a 6-foot-1 gunslinger with plenty of zip out of his unorthodox three-quarter arm slot.

Could today's events at Oliver Ames High, site of the Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 South Regional Tournament, be the start? Marchi led the Falcons through a forest of quality competition, knocking off Massachusetts heavyweight Mansfield in the finals, 35-29, to become the first team from Connecticut to capture a regional title in tournament history.

St. Paul and Mansfield qualified for July 30's New England Championship, at Bishop Fenwick High in Peabody.

"It feels good," said Marchi, a Winsted, Conn., resident, who also played safety today on defense. "The past three seasons have been losing for us. We've been young, we've had freshmen starting on the varsity. Coming out here, seeing smiles on faces, seeing everybody happy winning is good. It's a fun experience."

After going unbeaten through a pool of Framingham, Braintree, Whitman-Hanson and Middleborough, the Falcons took out Dighton-Rehoboth and East Bridgewater to advance to the Final Four. There, St. Paul matched up with Cardinal Spellman, led by one of the Bay State's top targets in 6-foot-6 tight end Rory Donovan, before advancing to the final against Mansfield.

"For his height he runs good routes," Marchi said of Donovan, who currently holds offers from UMass and UNH. "He's fast, he's quick, he's got good feet -- I like that. I tried playing some press man on him, but he blew right by me. He's got good hands, he's a good kid. I like him."

Marchi did a good job most of the afternoon spreading the ball around to his targets -- junior Eli Parks, junior Brendan Carroll, senior Reid Morin and his brother, sophomore Austin -- and in the finals against the Hornets, Marchi impressed the crowd on hand with his throws both short and long.

Utilizing crossing patterns over the middle, Marchi threaded some lasers through the middle for quick first downs. Their most successful maneuver involved switching vertical routes deep down the right sideline; with the Mansfield safety often locked along the hash marks, that left inside slot receiver Austin Morin open for several terrific over-the-shoulder grabs at the pylons.

Marchi, pleased with the results, is optimistic about the potential momentum today's action carrying into the season.

"We're excited, we're ready to compete," he said. "We're ready to show our offense to people, we're ready to show we have a better defense, and we want to win some games."

Flair for the Dramatic: Mansfield, Sunday's runner-up, advanced to the final with a little bit of karma on its side perhaps.

The Hornets were spurred on the road to the championship game by a couple of last-ditch passing attempts. After winning an early-round game on a Hail Mary, Mansfield won its semi-final matchup with Catholic Memorial via a full-field heave from quarterback Kyle Wisnieski to Kyle Hurley with no time remaining. Hurley, who was all over the field for the Hornets, working a complement of short and intermediate routes, grabbed a hold of the tipped ball in the end zone to earn the come-from-behind victory over CM.

For Mansfield, a Division 2 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl participant in 2012, it's about carrying last season's momentum into a new campaign.

"We have a lot of juniors from last year returning this year, so it's a pretty tight family," Hurley said. "We just came in here trying to compete. We knew there were a lot of good teams coming in. We thought we could hold our own, obviously making it to the championship game and played a great team."

Sunday was a fine showcase for Mansfield's aerial attack, which figures to feature more spread looks in the upcoming season to maximize the strengths of its personnel. And, although the Hornets were without two of their top targets -- Brendan Hill (AAU basketball Nationals) and Mike Hershman (rehabbing injury) -- they still showed plenty of sting behind Brendan Keady and Hurley.

"We're able to make some connections with Kyle [Wisnieski] throwing to a couple different receivers," Hurley said. "I feel like there are things we can get out of it, we can communicate and try to make improvements -- it's July, it's early obviously. It's just great to get out here and compete."

Donovan gets his share: One of the most-anticipated individual matchups of the day went down early in the afternoon in Pool G, where Springfield Central's Ju'uan Williams manned up the 6-foot-6 Donovan in a battle between two players who could potentially see themselves on ESPN Boston's Preseason All-State Team next month.

The 5-foot-8 Williams, who currently holds an offer from Division 2 American International College, gave up 10 inches and nearly 25 pounds to Donovan. He mostly played eight to 10 yards off the line of scrimmage against Donovan, but he showed off his athleticism early, crashing to the pylon on a fade and out-leaping Donovan to break up a would-be touchdown. On plays that Williams marked Donovan, the tight end was targeted three times, with two catches and a score.

"He's a good player and he's really aggressive. He's physical," Donovan said of Williams. "He's fast, he's quick, he knows what he's doing ou there, absolutely. He's not a scrub."

In addition to UMass and UNH offers, Donovan has also heard from Temple, James Madison, Towson, UConn and Maryland.

Albany offers Cody Williams: Central's biggest star, quarterback Cody Williams, was not available for today's tournament. He was on a visit to the University of Albany, where he received his third scholarship offer from the Division 1 FCS ranks to go along with Monmouth (N.J.) and Central Connecticut State.

With Cody out, two of his cousins -- sophomore Aaron, and the aforementioned Ju'uan -- saw time under center. Ju'uan filled in for Cody in two games last season, and was quite impressive, most significantly throwing for two touchdowns and running in the game-winning score in a highly-anticipated October showdown with rival Longmeadow. Today Ju'uan aired it out, with two deep completions down the right sideline to senior Malik Johnson.

Blitz for Bletzer: One of the most intriguing commitments of Steve Addazio's historic first recruiting class at Boston College is Catholic Memorial athlete Kevin Bletzer, who saw time at nearly every position in the back seven last year as one of the team's leading tacklers. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, the Medfield resident will likely fit at outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Don Brown's scheme, which prioritizes speed and versatility. Bletzer also captains the Knights' hockey and lacrosse teams, which are traditionally among the state's best.

And in turn, it's likely that Bletzer will stay closer to the line of scrimmage on defense this year for the Knights.

"I've kinda always loved to play linebacker," Bletzer said. "They had me at safety the last three years, but they put me up in the box, so I've had a little taste for linebacker in my past years. The only difference is, I'm going to be stuck there [now], and have to deal with a lot more lineman. But I look forward to it."

Ball Hawks: Remember earlier this month, when we mused that suggestions of Barnstable's demise, after graduating one of its best senior classes in school history, may have been exaggerated?

Look, there's a reason the Red Raiders dropped futile Durfee from their schedule and added Catholic Conference juggernauts BC High and Xaverian, one year after spending seven weeks as the state's No. 1 team and taking Everett to the brink in the Division 1A Super Bowl. Under head coach Chris Whidden, Barnstable has been among the state's best in pass coverage -- and we saw that again today.

The Raiders didn't survive pool play, going 2-2 in a pool that included Nauset and BB&N, but suffice to say their safety play was among the day's most impressive performances. In the final two games, senior Derek Estes came up with seven interceptions, including four against Silver Lake. In the Silver Lake battle, senior Micah Gregory made one of the day's most impressive athletic plays, breaking on a ball at the opposite sideline from the far hash marks and making a one-handed snatch of a would-be first down.

Walloping Whalers: Nantucket might have been the only team in the country last season with bookend tackles tipping the scales at 180 pounds, but a Division 1-bound tight end measuring 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds (ESPN Boston All-Stater Terrel Correia). But it looks like the Whalers will have some more meat in the trenches this fall.

Juniors Mykal Ludford (6-4, 305) and Matt Correia (6-3, 250, younger brother of Terrel) were out running routes today with the Whalers' skill, and a third lineman Taylor Gulley (6-3, 275) should give them further bulk. That should help out senior linebacker Jon Holdgate, who is expected to shoulder a big load.

Recap: Mansfield 46, No. 11 King Philip 33

October, 21, 2012
10/21/12
2:27
AM ET


MANSFIELD, Mass. -- Just when you think you have everything figured out in the Hockomock League, the curveballs start flying.

Mansfield welcomed No. 11 King Philip to Alumni Field on Homecoming armed with the knowledge that the Warriors defense had given up a scant six points per game while building a perfect 6-0 record. Obviously, the Hornets weren't too bothered by that fact, as they proceeded to run wild on their home turf.

Robbie Rapoza led the way with 205 yards and two touchdowns while Kevin Makie added 157 yards and a pair of scores as Mansfield blew past the Warriors, 46-33.

"We ran well and we hit some big plays passing the ball," Mansfield head coach Mike Redding said. "I just thought we were a little bigger up front and we worked hard on picking up blitzes and getting some push. I just thought all night we had a good push on our zone play, our iso play. And we got the ball outside enough to keep them honest."

The two teams traded punts and turnovers before the Hornets (5-2 overall, 2-0 Hockomock Kelley-Rex) started to pick up steam as Rapoza bounced outside and sprinted 80 yards down the left sideline for the game's first touchdown.

Mansfield captain Antonio Medeiros recovered a fumble on King Philip's (6-1, 1-1) ensuing possession and needed just one play to score again. Quarterback Kyle Wisnieski fired a bullet down the left sideline, and sophomore Brendan HJill leapt high into the air and batted the ball toward teammate Mike Hershman, who caught it and raced the rest of the way for a 55-yard score.

"I actually ran the wrong route on that," Hill admitted. "Me and Hersh [Hershman] were both running streaks and when the ball went up it looked like Kyle was actually throwing it out of bounds. I saw Hersh's guy come to me and saw him wide open and I thought, why not hit it to him and he can walk into the end zone."

More big plays were in store in this contest as Rapoza gave the Hornets an 18-0 lead with a 53-yard jaunt straight down the middle of the field.

King Philip returned the favor two possessions later as Fabio Cherant blocked a punt, which led to a one-yard plunge by quarterback John Dillon (276 yards, 4 TD passes).

Mansfield countered as Wisnieski led Hill beautifully down the right sideline for a 69-yard TD pass, the first of three scores in the final three minutes of the half. The Warriors seemed to gain some momentum following a 57-yard march that ended with a 14-yard scoring pass from Dillon to Sam McDonald, but the Hornets rebounded quickly enough as Wisnieski lofted a perfect fade pass to the 6-foot-5 Hill for a 6-yard score and a 32-12 advantage with three seconds left in the half.

Keeping its foot on the gas pedal, Kyle Hurley intercepted Dillon on KP's first drive of the third and four plays later, Makie broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown.

Dillon tacked on two more TD passes to Christian Vellante and McDonald to shave the deficit to 39-26 midway through the fourth, but Makie produced one more big play, going 61-yards to paydirt on the very next play. KP managed one final score as Dillon found Joe Cohrane for his fourth touchdown pass, but the Hornets were able to kill off the remaining time.

"This definitely means a lot and with them being ranked top 10 in the state it proves a lot," Rapoza said. "Everyone kind of doubted us and said we were going to lose this game by a lot but we came out and proved everyone wrong."

Makie added, "Coming into it we just wanted to be able to get yards every play, just move the chains and get first downs but we ended up getting the big plays and that helped us out.

KING PHILIP (6-1) 0 12 7 14 - 33
MANSFIELD (5-2) 12 20 7 7 - 46


M - Robbie Rapoza 80 run (kick blocked)
M - Mike Hershman 55 pass from Kyle Wisnieski (rush failed)
M - Rapoza 53 run (kick failed)
KP - John Dillon 1 run (kick failed)
M - Brendan Hill 69 pass from Wisnieski (Hershman kick)
KP - Sam McDonald 14 pass from Dillon (pass failed)
M - Hill 6 pass from Wisnieski (Hershman kick)
M - Kevin Makie 39 run (Hershman kick)
KP - Christian Vellante 27 pass from Dillon (kick good)
KP - McDonald 36 pass from Dillon (kick good)
M - Makie 61 run (Hershman kick)
KP - Joe Cochrane 10 pass from Dillon (kick good)

SPONSORED HEADLINES