Boston High School: Lincoln Collins

Signing Day showcases promise at BC High

February, 7, 2013
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college football signeesScott Barboza/ESPNBoston.comEleven college-bound seniors from BC High football's team gathered for a ceremony Wednesday at the school on National Letter of Intent Signing Day.


BOSTON -- Luke Catarius’ senior season didn’t go as planned. Coming off a Division 1 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl championship season with his BC High teammates as a junior, the Eagles linebacker and fullback held high expectations for 2012.

Yet, his final campaign got off a rough start when he suffered an ankle fracture during a preseason scrimmage against Mansfield. It forced Catarius to miss the Eagles’ first seven games of the season.

“It was tough because every year since freshman year everyone’s like senior year is when everyone’s going to come together,” Catarius said Wednesday at the school’s Morrissey Blvd. campus, “and obviously we had big shoes to fill from [the 2011] team. We wanted to repeat. I got hurt, a couple other guys got banged up, too, and it all went down hill from there.”

BC High had a revolving door of injuries through the first half of the season and they struggled to gain momentum, finishing with a 4-6 record.

But Wednesday was National Letter of Intent signing day and Catarius joined 10 of his football teammates who are going on to play football at the college level for a ceremony held for the families and friends of the Eagles athletes.

While 2012 might have been a season of unrealized potential, the Eagles seniors will leave nothing behind.

“Going to BC High, you understand that an education is what gets you far in life,” said wide receiver Lincoln Collins, who signed to FCS power Villanova. “In looking for colleges, we did the same thing. We’re all setting ourselves up for life outside of football.”

Looking on during the gathering was Eagles head coach Joe Gaff, a longtime Eagles assistant coach who assumed the program’s reigns for the first time in the fall. Gaff held Catarius up as an example to younger athletes. It would’ve been easy for the injured player to pack it for the rest of the season. Instead, Catarius stuck to his strict rehabilitation regiment and made his return to the field while putting in some extra work in the library to work his way into Princeton.

“He took his frustration and turned it into action,” Gaff said of Catarius, who originally committed to Bryant University before switching to Princeton in January. “He knew what he had to do to get into the Ivys. He needed a certain test score, so he went in and studied every day and he got himself mentally prepared.

“He did a tremendous job. It shows what kind of competitor he is.”

On a day that marks a milestone for many families across the nation, Gaff’s class headed the notion that Wednesday was but a transitional day.

Eagles offensive tackle Jack McDonald signed his Letter to Virginia before a large group of family members – most of whom were donning the Cavaliers’ navy blue and orange colors.

“Football’s going to end sometime, whether that’s two years, four years from now, or even if you’re lucky enough to make it to the NFL,” the Eagles captain said. “It’s going to happen sometime. You need that education for when it does end. I think that’s what all of us have found.”

Those BC High seniors pursuing collegiate football careers are:

Jackson Bockhorst - Tufts
Luke Catarius – Princeton
Lincoln Collins – Villanova
Skyler Evans – Mass Maritime Academy
Jaleel Johnson – Merrimack
Tim Johnson – Sacred Heart
Jack McDonald - Virginia
Mark McGuire – Holy Cross
Pat O’Hearne – John Carroll
Brandon Owens – Byrant
Mike Roberts - Colby

Roundtable: Big statements, bigger production

October, 4, 2012
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1. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST STATEMENT YOU GOT OUT OF BARNSTABLE'S UPSET OF EVERETT?

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: Aside from the defense, which was phenomenal by all accounts, the manner in which the Red Raiders were able to pull off the upset was impressive, meaning that the offense was firing on all cylinders for most of the game. In other words, Barnstable can win ugly. When you hear about the offense and all the things the Red Raiders can do on offense, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the fundamentals. They can do all the things that constitute a potentially successful playoff team in that they can run the ball when called upon, get the back stop when required and they don’t turn the ball over. When you have one of the top quarterbacks in the state like Nick Peabody, that’s all you need to win. And, if Hayden Murphy runs the ball as he can and the defense, led by Andrew Ellis, is on, Barnstable is difficult to beat, no matter the conditions.

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: For me, more than anything, it was a throwback statement. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much Division 1-caliber talent you've stockpiled, how heavy your line is, or how many of your skill players run a 4.5. All that matters is who puts themselves in the best position to win -- period. Barnstable demonstrated that to a T on Friday night.

Of course, this Red Raiders team isn't an underdog. They came into the game at No. 3 in our statewide poll, and I think the general consensus was that this would be a one-score type of affair. Nick Peabody is in a quarterbacking class of his own through the first month of the season, Dylan Morris is beginning to enter Matt Costello territory in terms of production, and the Raiders' linebacking corps is one of the two or three best in the state.

Barnstable coach Chris Whidden dialed up a great defensive gameplan in the pouring rain, playing outside contain on the Crimson Tide's gifted receivers, and getting great push in the trenches with a deceivingly athletic front four that fired quickly off the ball. These guys were not as big, but they certainly were fast, and above all else they hit with a level of abandon replicated by very few teams in the state.

At the end of the day, it was a pleasant reminder that things haven't gotten soft in the game of football. At the end of the day, the overarching theme remains -- if you come out complacent, someone's going to knock you around.

Adam Kurkjian, ESPN Boston correspondent: Year after year, while Everett always seems to have its share of explosive skill players, the foundation of its success is consistent and dominant line play on both sides of the ball.

The biggest statement Barnstable made Friday night was that it can go toe-to-toe with Everett's front and get the better of the exchange. That is rare, and it speaks to the level of offseason commitment the Red Raiders have made the past few seasons. While Barnstable may have the reputation as a finesse team because of the amount of times it puts the ball in the air, it looks like the Red Raiders shattered that notion last week.

Bruce Lerch, ESPN Boston correspondent: Defense, defense, defense. Staring at Everett's offensive line with 300-pounders across the board is daunting for any opposition but the Raiders didn't seem intimidated at all. In fact, they set the tone and managed to stuff the Tide twice on fourth-down tries from the one-yard line.

All 11 starters, plus the others that rotate in made plays. Jason Frieh and the defensive line held their own Everett's blockers, linebackers Brian Hardy, Andrew Ellis, Terrence Mudie and Robbie Stuart made tackles all over the field. Safeties Ryan Litchman and Kevin Hardy were tremendous in support against the run and corners Tedaro France and Derek Estes won their matchups with Everett's speed merchants at the receiver positions.

John Botelho, Editor-in-Chief, South Shore Sports Journal: Nick Peabody and the offense have been well publicized -- and deservedly so -- all season. Going into the Everett game, they had scored an astounding 145 points in three games. But the biggest statement made while snapping Everett's 28-game win streak was that the Red Raiders' defense is just as good as their powerful offense. Division 1A should be real fun to watch come December.

Everett and Barnstable Round II is already a Super Bowl many people are excitedly calling for, but neither has an easy path to get there. Everett is likely headed for a first-round playoff game with Lincoln-Sudbury, and Barnstable has to worry about beating Bridgewater-Raynham during the regular season just to reach the playoffs.

2. NAME YOUR FIVE BEST WIDE RECEIVERS IN THE STATE

Barboza:
1. Brian Dunlap, Natick – Might not be No. 1 on any other list, but come his senior season, he's going to be right there on the top of all the volume stats list.

2. Jalen Felix, Everett – Seeing, in person, the catch he made during last year’s BC High game at Memorial Stadium is something I’ll likely never forget. It’s the same feeling I had watching Randy Moss make impossible catches.

3. Jakarrie Washington, Everett – One of the best route runners around since those Asprilla and Costello kids were the go-to targets in Everett.

4. Dylan Morris, Barnstable – Hard to argue with Morris’ production thus far this season with his eight touchdown catches.

5. Will Heikkinen, Andover – Spies tell me Xaverian had Heikkinen blanketed with double coverage throughout most of last week’s game. That’s the ultimate compliment paid to a wideout.

Hall:
1. Dylan Morris, Barnstable - You'll be hard-pressed to duplicate his five-catch, 207-yard performance in Week 2, and right now he's on track for 20 touchdown receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving. Bar none, best wideout in the state right now. And to think, some have mused he may be a better baseball player.

2. Jakarrie Washington, Everett - You could rotate this spot with Jalen Felix, who had an explosive performance against Springfield Central, but right now you've got to with Washington based on game-breaking ability. Against Leominster and St. John's Prep, he turned the game on its heels seemingly on a dime with one back-breaking catch or run.

3. Brian Dunlap, Natick - A versatile route-runner, he's got crunch-time knack (see his game-winning catch against Norwood with 10 seconds to go) and makes the most of his touches (17.25 yards per catch, 6 TD).

4. David Harrison, Weymouth - Has seven receiving touchdowns, and in the last two games running a pistol offense at quarterback, has thrown for six. He's just plain productive.

5. Sam Blake, East Longmeadow - Doesn't get a lot of touches in the Spartans' system, but in terms of athleticism I've heard some pretty crazy stories. In his last two games, he has 232 receiving yards and four touchdowns on just seven catches.

Kurkjian:
Tough to say for me because most of the games I have been to have featured mainly run-oriented teams.

That said, looking around the state, Lincoln Collins of BC High needs to be mentioned for his size and improved speed.

Jakarrie Washington of Everett may be the fastest receiver out there right now.

Speaking of guys that can motor, Andover's Cam Farnham has been pure lightning all season as well.

As far as pure production goes, there aren't many who do more on a week-to-week basis than Natick's Brian Dunlap.

If anyone can outdo Dunlap in that department, though, how about Shawsheen receiver Devonn Pratt? One of the top wrestlers in the state, Pratt has 11 touchdown receptions already, including five in a ridiculous, 15-catch, 268-yard performance against Cambridge two weeks ago.

Lerch:
1. Dylan Morris, Barnstable - Seems to have a tremendous mind meld going on with quarterback Nick Peabody. Has eight TD receptions on the season, including two clutch catches in the 13-7, double OT win over Everett.

2. Jalen Felix/Jakarrie Washington, Everett - I'm cheating a little by putting both in, but it's hard to argue against the fact that these speedsters are two of the biggest gamebreakers in Massachusetts.

3. Bryan Vieira, Thayer Academy - Eight receptions for 200 yards and a TD in the opener (along with an interception return for a score) and six more catches for 179 yards and three TDs in week two. The top receiver in the ISL.

4. Brian Dunlap, Natick - Just a sophomore, Dunlap continues to team up with QB Troy Flutie to put up big numbers week after week. I may be underrating him because of his age, but all signs point toward Dunlap someday taking over at the top of this list. Maybe sooner rather than later.

5. David Harrison/Tyler O'Brien, Weymouth - It's a cheat day for me in the roundtable as I'm going with a duo once again. The Wildcats receivers have combined to catch 13 TD passes and O'Brien seems to be Harrison's favored target when he switches under center as Weymouth's quarterback.

Botelho:
1. Dylan Morris, Barnstable: This is sort of a chicken and egg thing. Is Nick Peabody such a good quarterback because he has Morris to throw to, or is Morris the beneficiary of a standout QB. I think the answer is Peabody is a tremendous QB and Morris an elite receiver, and the results have indicated that so far.

2. Lincoln Collins, BC High: Collins might not have the gaudy stats some his peers do (he's caught just one TD this year) but he's a D-1 scholarship athlete going to Villanova for a reason. The Eagles have been the victims of bad luck and bad timing this season, dealing with some of the toughest teams in this state - and New Jersey - while figuring out how to replace injured stars like Brendan Craven and Luke Catarius.

3. Brian Dunlap, Natick - Like Morris, Dunlap has a premier QB throwing him the ball. He's pulled in 6 TD from Troy Flutie, and is one of the biggest reasons Natick is scoring more than 30 points per game.

4. Dondre James, Whitman-Hanson - James single-handedly changes game plans of opposing teams, often drawing more than one defender on passing plays. He's spread out defenses all season, allowing QB Tom Sapienza to throw 8 TD already. James' speed and athleticism are clear with one looks at the Panthers on offense, but what he contributes away from the ball might be even more impressive. James has sprung more than one ball carrier this year with a big block.

5. Rory Donovan, Cardinal Spellman - The Cardinals aren't matching their regular season success from the last two years, but Donovan is among the toughest receivers for defenses to match-up with. At 6-5 and with an impressive vertical, not many defenders can go up and get a jump ball against him. He's averaging a touchdown a game right now and could get better as Spellman's line matures this season.

3. WHO IS THE BEST QUARTERBACK FROM A SMALL SCHOOL?

Barboza: Right now, I’m looking at Hopkinton’s Hank Rudden. The Hillers have been off and running in the Tri-Valley League, averaging more than 34 points per game through four weeks. Whether the Hillers can keep it going into the meat of their TVL schedule is another thing, but the 6-foot-1 senior is a dependable pocket presence.

Hall: Hard to argue with the production of Northbridge's Matt Phelan. Head coach Ken LaChapelle (who won his 300th career game last weekend) is famously inclined towards the pass -- and a passing pioneer for this state, really -- but through the first four games of the 2012 Phelan has been arguably better on his feet (41 carries, 448 yards, 12 TD) than through the air (42 of 50, 514 yards, 2 TD). LaChapelle has joked that he would like to once coach a game where he doesn't call a running play, but he tends to yield some freelancing to his quarterbacks when he feels they're up for it. And understand, for LaChapelle to loosen the reigns, you have to be a special player.

Kurkjian: Let's go into the Boston City South Division where Latin Academy junior Kyle Dance is putting together a fantastic season through four games.

To this point, Dance has had a hand in 13 touchdowns (nine passing, four rushing). You want to know how many touchdowns the Dragons have as a team? Fourteen. In other words, Dance is doing it all for this team, and it will be exciting to see how the rest of his season and career develops.

Lerch: Since taking over in week two, Shawsheen's Mike O'Hearn has produced eye-popping numbers and ranks fourth in the state with 11 touchdown passes, including a six-TD performance against Cambridge. With the 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior at the helm, the Rams have put up 98 points in their last two games.

Botelho: Assuming "small" school means any outside of Div 1, 1A, 2 or 2A, the best small school QB might be Dan Eckler at Stoughton. They're a run-first offense with tons of weapons, but he's been the point man for all of their success this year.

Hanover's Ryan Bennett and Middleborough's Troy Rossi both have big arms and ideal QB size and have been fun to watch early on.

Abington's Brandon Cawley has all of the tools to run the offense for the Green Wave. He's tall, has a cannon of an arm and can tuck it and run if need be. Andrew Benson also comes to mind in the South Shore League. After sliding over from RB to QB when the Vikings didn't have an obvious heir apparent to Tim O'Brien, Benson has handled the transition well. He's very athletic and gives EB a similar look on offense they had a year ago.

4. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE CATHOLIC CONFERENCE?

Barboza: (Disclaimer: None of this argument has to do with St. John’s Prep right now.) Honestly, I’m not trying to make excuses here, and this has happened a couple of times during the last couple seasons, but it’s not as though the teams are playing easy schedules. On the other hand though, I think the rest of the state has caught up with the parochials a little bit. Some inside the Catholic Conference used to scoff at the idea of a Hockomock team (North Attleborough anybody?) hanging with one of those teams. Use this weekend’s Xaverian vs. Duxbury matchup as another proof positive. I think the Hawks will find out that last year’s win by the Dragons at the Hawk Bowl was no fluke. And, while most of the state still cannot match the numbers the Catholics have on their sidelines, there’s plenty of talent to be had.

Hall: With St. John's Prep, nothing. With the rest of the conference (a combined 4-12 heading into this weekend's games), where do you start?

Expectations weren't high on Malden Catholic or Catholic Memorial coming into the season, but the way BC High and Xaverian (preseason Nos. 2 and 3, respectively) have stumbled out of the gates is concerning. Then again, they've endured brutal schedules, and few teams in Massachusetts would come out of September with better than their 1-3 records. Still, the way in which they've lost is not convincing, between BC High getting dominated from scrimmage by North Attleborough and Xaverian laying eggs against Brockton and Andover. Bottom line, BC High and Xaverian so far haven't lived up to the preseason hype.

Something tells me they'll turn it around. BC High will be getting All-State linebacker Luke Catarius (ankle) back this month, and quarterback Brendan Craven (knee) sometime soon, and you can't say enough how much that could change things quickly. Xaverian finally showed signs of life in the second half of the Andover upset, and Mike Brennan has been bringing steady production to what has been an otherwise stale offense.

How quickly does Xaverian turn it around? Jury's out, because the rest of the Hawks' 2012 schedule, in order, goes like this: Duxbury, Everett, Bridgewater-Raynham, St. John's (Shrewsbury), BC High, Catholic Memorial, St. John's Prep. Talk about skating uphill.

Kurkjian: Well, there's not much wrong with St. John's Prep right now, as they've looked outstanding in their three wins and only have one loss to Everett in a game many observers thought could have gone the other way with a few breaks.

As for the rest? BC High has been decimated by injuries, but the Eagles are starting to heal up and it would not be a total shock to see them make a run at the league title once everyone is back.

Xaverian does not have nearly the amount of team speed it usually does and has not looked physical at all on the lines.

Catholic Memorial has, as expected, struggled on offense, and you simply don't improve when graduation takes away as much talent as it did for the Knights.

Malden Catholic is this year what it has been nearly every year, which is the fifth-best team in the league.

Lerch: The coaches won't make excuses but we can. Injuries have absolutely decimated BC High while graduation hit both Xaverian and Catholic Memorial pretty hard. Not to mention that these teams all play among the toughest schedules in the state. That said, St. John's Prep is still a top-three team in Massachusetts and don't think for a second that the aforementioned trio won't put it together by the time league play rolls around. Anyone who counts these teams out when we're not even halfway through the season is making a big mistake.

Botelho: BC High and Xaverian has certainly underachieved, but their schedules have been absolutely brutal. BC is also dealing with a whole mess load of injuries. That said, what looked like the best league in the state before the season needs a turnaround in the second half to avoid an overall disappointing year. If things continue like they are, St. John's Prep will coast to a league title behind Jonathan Thomas and Alex Moore. The Prep, in my mind, is probably the favorite to win the Div. 1 Super Bowl right now (I still love Brockton, but missing Austin Roberts is going to hurt them in a big way).

5. THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF SHOOTOUTS IN THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF ISL PLAY. WHICH IS THE BEST OFFENSE?

Barboza: I think this was supposed to be Thayer’s year to shine behind wide receiver Aaron Gilmer and the Tigers haven’t disappointed, putting up 76 points in their two games. But they still have nothing to show for it, losing two close barn-burners against Governor’s and Roxbury Latin. But it’s hard to ignore the defending ISL champions at Governor’s. We’ve extolled about Tate Jozokos’ two-sport excellence for a couple years now, but running back Eli Morrissey has been a true revelation in the early going. Gov’s should face a test this weekend against BB&N, but with 103 points scored in two games, it’s hard to pick against anything short of a repeat performance of 2011.

Hall: If what Duxbury's been doing the last couple of years doesn't tell you enough about the value of lacrosse skill in football, then Governor's senior quarterback Tate Jozokos will. The UNC lacrosse commit led a renaissance last fall, leading the Governors to the ISL championship, and is off to a quality start this season. He is as a true a dual-threat quarterback as you will find in Massachusetts.

Running back Eli Morrissey has been just as productive (5 TDs), and is arguably one of the best backs in the ISL -- not the biggest, but definitely one of the most complete, and a tough runner. Overall, the Governors have averaged 51.5 points per game in their first two contest. Hard to argue with a number like that.

Kurkjian: Tough to say with such a small sample size, but it's hard to go against what Governor's Academy has accomplished in the first two weeks. With 103 points in two games, the Governors are simply running past, over, around and through everyone in their way.

We will see whether or not that continues this weekend as they travel to Cambridge to face an always-tough BB&N squad.

Lerch: When in doubt, I always say go with the team led by the lacrosse guy. Governor's is stacked with talent on offense with quarterback/dynamo/North Carolina lacrosse commit Tate Jozokos leading the charge. Along with standout running back Elijah Morrissey, the duo has combined to score nine rushing TDs in the first two games. Until some team finds a way to slow these two guys down, the Red Dogs will keep piling on the points.

Tale of the Tape: BC High v. St. Peter's Prep (N.J.)

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
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Another big inter-state matchup is on tap this weekend, as No. 22 Boston College High heads to the Garden State to take on Jersey City, N.J. powerhouse St. Peter's Prep, at Rutgers Stadium, as part of the 2012 Great American Rivalry Series.

St. Peter's won last year's contest in Dorchester, at Viola Stadium, 35-19. For a refresher of that game, CLICK HERE.

To break down the two matchups, we've collaborated with MSG Varsity senior editor Brian Fitzsimmons to get New Jersey's perspective on this matchup. ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall provides the skinny on what to look for from BC High.


WHEN BC HIGH HAS THE BALL

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: Under Jon Bartlett the previous four seasons, the Eagles experienced one of their greatest periods of success, winning Division 1 Eastern Mass. Super Bowls in 2008 and 2011. But a lot has changed since last season, when the Eagles showed some late mettle in an otherwise forgettable 35-19 loss to St. Peter's and used it to kick-start a run to the D1 Super Bowl title.

For starters, Bartlett stepped down as coach last April, but remains on as the school's Athletic Director. Defensive coordinator Joe Gaff was swiftly promoted to head coach status. At quarterback they graduated Bartley Regan (Stonehill), and at running back they graduated one of their best ever in Preston Cooper (cousin of veteran Chargers linebacker Stephen Cooper), who is currently enrolled at Dean Junior College down the road in Franklin, Mass.

And with it, the Eagles have apparently lost some firepower. Most of us were pretty high on BC High heading into the season, starting at No. 2 in ESPN Boston's statewide MIAA Top 25 poll, largely on the hype of its Division 1 talent in offensive lineman Jack McDonald (Virginia), wideout Lincoln Collins (Villanova), and linebackers Brandon Owens (Bryant) and Luke Catarius. The craziest story might be senior quarterback Brendan Craven, who received an offer from Valparaiso University before he even took a snap of varsity football.

But things went south quickly for the Eagles, who were shut out on opening night by Brockton (21-0), then outgained in yardage 445-96 in a 27-7 loss to North Attleborough the following week, to tumble 20 spots in our poll. In the first two games the usually sure-handed Collins, a big target at 6-foot-4, was also held without a catch.

Worst of all, the injury bug hit hard, with seven starters missing in that North Attleborough loss. Craven took a nasty shot to the knee at the end of the Brockton loss, though he's expected back soon, and Catarius -- a returning ESPN Boston All-Stater -- suffered a hairline fracture on his ankle in the preseason and isn't expected back until mid-October.

The Eagles appeared to break out of their funk last Friday, however, with a nice 31-0 win over upstart Dartmouth. McDonald moved from guard to right tackle, a new Collins (Andrew) did enough at quarterback to get the job done, and Lincoln Collins broke through with a monster night -- five catches for 181 yards, including one electrifying play in which he turned a five-yard out into an 85-yard touchdown scamper. Once again, however, the injury bug hit, taking Owens, who is also the feature running back.

Lincoln Collins had a nice day last year against St. Peter's, for those who recall (6 catches, 84 yards). If BC High is to have a chance in this -- and by the sounds of it, it's a puncher's chance -- then they're going to have to find a way to get Collins open. That will likely incorporate a good share of screens, and if there is one positive so far, it's that they have executed those well for big gains in spurts.

Brian Fitzsimmons, MSG Varsity Senior Editor: BC High’s offense will need to be in its finest form if the squad plans on trading punches with its latest opponent – and it starts with Villanova-bound wide receiver Lincoln Collins.

If Collins can explode for at least one or two home runs and catch the Marauders off guard, perhaps the score will be even closer than last season’s matchup.

St. Peter’s defense isn’t one to doubt, though. Senior linebacker Shane Huber leads the team with seven solo tackles and two sacks, while Tre Bell and Brian Githens are quick, agile corners.

BC High is no stranger to the intense pressure of facing talented teams from New Jersey; the Eagles had DePaul Catholic (Wayne, N.J.) on the ropes in a 49-35 loss in Week 2 before falling to St. Peter’s in Week 4.

This past weekend, BC High coach Joe Gaff reflected on what last year’s 35-19 setback to St. Peter’s meant to their Super Bowl season.

“We went down there and we competed against two really good teams with great speed,” Gaff told ESPNBoston.com. “When we came back, we solved things. As a defense, I know it really clicked for us because we saw faster players. So that’s what we’re hoping for.”

An upset victory wouldn’t be so bad, either.

WHEN ST. PETER'S PREP HAS THE BALL

Hall: St. Peter's quarterback and current West Virginia athlete Brandon Napoleon had a field day against BC High in last year's meeting, racking up 145 yards from scrimmage and making some electric returns in the kicking game. By the sounds of it, if this St. Peter's squad is anything like the St. Joseph Regional squad that pasted Xaverian 62-0 in Week 2, then the Eagles are going to have their hands full once again.

And worst of all, they are missing their quarterback of the defense, Catarius. At middle linebacker he is among the state's elite in run support, and makes the calls that orchestrate Gaff's defense. Without him, there have been communication errors and some holes that were exposed often in the first two weeks of the season.

After pitching a shutout last Friday, the Eagles appear to have solved a few of those issues. But with Owens' status unknown, there will be some added pressure on the front four, led by McDonald, Billy Breen, Mark McGuire and Jaleel Johnson. By Massachusetts' standards, they certainly have the size and strength to hold their own, dominating up front on Friday, never letting the Dartmouth running game stretch the field and get out of first gear. How that translates against elite New Jersey parochial talent remains to be seen.

In the secondary, the player to watch is senior Tim Johnson, another one of seemingly a handful of FCS prospects. He first gained recognition for his back-breaking interception in the D1 Super Bowl last December, and has since followed up with some nice performances early on this season. But like every other area, he will be tested thoroughly.

Fitzsimmons: BC High covets a grueling test filled with speed, and there’s no doubt the Eagles will get their wish when taking on St. Peter’s Prep (N.J.) on Saturday.

The Marauders, ranked fifth among all New Jersey/New York/Connecticut teams in the latest MSG Varsity Tri-State Top 25 poll, are off to a rousing start thanks to their formidable offensive unit.

They won by forfeit over Kearny this past weekend, so coach Rich Hansen and his team will look to recapture the explosiveness displayed in the opening weeks of the season. St. Peter’s opened the campaign with a 31-6 victory over McDonogh (Md.) in Annapolis and then cruised past Memorial by a whopping, 77-7 margin.

Jonathan Hilliman, Trejon Dinkins and Minkah Fitzpatrick anchor the ground game, combining for nearly 600 yards in two contests. Hilliman, a junior who has attracted offers from nearly every big-time Division I program, is the group’s workhorse with 293 yards and four touchdowns.

Quarterback Mike Rabasca is a solid game manager, and he gained valuable experience last season, when starter Brandon Napoleon – now at West Virginia – went down with injury for several weeks. Don’t be surprised to see heralded freshman Brandon Wimbush under center more often as the weeks go by.

As potent as the running backs are, the Marauders’ biggest threat is wide receiver Charlie Callinan. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder is long, athletic and possesses great hands – all sparkling attributes that make the Boston College-bound senior a true game-changer.

Under the guidance of Hansen, the Marauders have established themselves as the measuring stick for all Hudson County programs. They haven’t lost to a Hudson County opponent since 1999, but joining fellow North Jersey parochial powerhouses Don Bosco Prep, Bergen Catholic and St. Joseph Regional remains the ultimate goal year in and year out.

St. Peter’s Prep hasn’t won a Non-Public Group 4 state championship since 2005, thanks to the remarkable run authored by Don Bosco, which has clinched six straight state titles and two of the last three national crowns.

So naturally, this weekend isn’t so much about defeating an out-of-state foe; this is about excelling during another tune-up for a championship run against the Goliaths of the Garden State.

Recap: No. 22 BC High 31, Dartmouth 0

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
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DARTMOUTH, Mass. – What’s the old expression that you have to crawl before you can walk? No. 22 BC High football did a little bit of both while capturing its first win of the season in a 31-0 blanking of Dartmouth on Slocum Road.

Hampered by an ever-mounting list of injuries to starters, the Eagles weren’t about to make excuses for themselves and their 0-2 start. So they continued plugging holes, watching younger players step into greater roles. Of course, it always helps when you’re star receiver puts up a 5-catch, 181-yard night as Villanova commit Lincoln Collins did Friday night. But even as Collins was doing big things, it was the little things that sprung the largest gains.

The prime example was Collins’ electrifying 85-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter.

Mired in a competitive 10-0 battle at halftime, the Eagles (1-2) distanced themselves with Collins’ lone touchdown of the game in the third. After starting a drive backed up in their own end, BC High was simply looking for a first down and some field position on a third-and-3 drop back by quarterback Dan Collins (6 of 9, 199 yards). The play call had Lincoln Collins, the rangy 6-foot-4 target, as the right outside receiver. Lincoln’s route a routine 5-yard out on a play designed simply to pick up that crucial first down.

What happened from there took everyone by surprise.

Lincoln shook his defender, using his sizable wingspan to stiff arm the cornerback. Once he wiggled a couple more yards downfield, it was fellow receiver Tim Johnson, who with a downfield block on Dartmouth’s strong side safety, allowed Lincoln space to burn down the right sideline to paydirt.

“That was just all teamwork,” Lincoln Collins said. “Tim [Johnson] came underneath and made a great hustle play.”

From there, the Eagles were off and running with 21 points after halftime to close out an emphatic and much-needed victory.

“We came in as a unit and said, ‘We’ve gotta’ finish it,’” said Eagles head coach Joe Gaff, who also collected his first win as head coach at BC High.

INJURY BUG STRIKES AGAIN
BC High was out to a 7-0 lead on a 9-yard touchdown run by Brandon Owens (11 carries, 63 yards, TD) and finding increased success in the running game.

That is until the Eagles were again thrown for a loss.

With less than three minutes to play in the first half, Owens was running a stretch play to the left side when he was met in the backfield by Indians linebacker Dalton Soares. Both players went down in a heap, with Soares taking a nice angle to the ball. However, when Owens cleat was caught in the turf and Soares corralled him to the ground, BC High’s senior back was left on the field grabbing his left ankle.

Owens was assisted off the field flanked by two his teammates and was unable to put pressure on that leg.

Gaff said Owens will be evaluated tomorrow. But the scenario strikes home with the Eagles who’d already lost seven starters to injury coming into Friday’s action.

“I hate to say it, but we’ve gotten hardened to all the guys going down,” Gaff said. “We’ve got seven starters not playing – that’s not an excuse, we’re BC High, we’ve got plenty of guys. They’re stepping up and trying to the best we can. That’s all I can ask from them and tonight they did it.”

It’s also helped the Eagles shape a mentality early in the year.

“Our mentality is plug-in and plug-out,” Lincoln Collins said. “We’ll just keep pushing and we’ll get guys back eventually. We’ve just got to keep going.”

CONTAIN YOURSELF
The key to BC High’s defense shutting down the Dartmouth attack was keeping their outside contains. As the Indians (1-2) tried to bounce their running backs outside, they were often met by an Eagles end or outside linebacker – many times at a loss. While Dartmouth has some talented runners in senior captain Mitch Loranger and running back turned quarterback Tim Smith, but BC High was able to all but erase the Indians’ ground game, forcing Smith (who was making his first start under center) to beat them.

There was simply no getting around the outside of BC High’s front seven with Steve Dicienzo, Mitchell Laferriere, Brian Robinson, and Owens doing the duties. Coupled with a strong inside presence from defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, who returned from injury, the rushing lanes largely were unavailable.

“They kept widening and widening, so we tried to run it inside,’ Dartmouth head coach Rick White said. “They took away our outside run, they did a good job of that. Those outside ends were very good athletes.”

ALL’S NOT LOST
While it might not have been the result the Indians were looking for, White and Co. made a statement in adding the Eagles to their 2012 slate. White was pleased with his team’s ability to match BC High’s physicality.

Had the Indians been able to scrape across some points in the first half, the game’s complexion might have been very different. Dartmouth started four of its five first-half drives on the plus side of the 50-yard line, including a first-and-goal from the 7 after a fumble recovery by Eddie Cadorette (2 TFL). Both teams lost fumbles on their respective opening drives. The Indians also missed a 27-yard field goal attempt at the tail end of the second quarter.

“We had three chances to score in the first half of the game and we couldn’t do it,” White said. “That was the difference.”

BUILDING TO A POINT
BC High doesn’t have long to enjoy win No. 1 with New Jersey power St. Peter’s Prep looming.

Next Saturday, the Eagles travel to play the Jersey City school at Rutgers University.

While the Eagles will have their hands full with one of the nation’s top programs, their boss reflected on what last year’s 35-19 loss to St. Peter’s meant to their Super Bowl season.

“We went down there and we competed against two really good teams [St. Peter’s and DePaul] with great speed,” Gaff said. “When we came back, we solved things. As a defense, I know it really clicked for us because we saw faster players. So that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Recap: No. 17 North 27, No. 13 BC High 7

September, 15, 2012
9/15/12
12:18
AM ET
(Highlights by correspondent Patrick Welter.)

BOSTON- North Attleborough did Friday what some teams spend a whole season hoping to do: walk into a hostile playing environment against a team hoping to prove a point, dominate at the point of attack for four quarters, win, and make a statement along the way.

The No. 17 Rocketeers went into No. 13 BC High and walked out with a 27-7 victory and the attention of the entire Hockomock League.

“I’m about to tear up right now, it’s one of the greatest feelings,” said North Attleborough’s Dwayne Hunter, Jr., who had 11 carries for 130 yards behind its offensive line. “Our goal is to try to get to the Super Bowl, we’re trying to do what we gotta do, take it one game at a time. We didn’t come out thinking we were gonna smash this team, but as you can see, we did.”

After being shut out 21-0 last Friday against Brockton, BC High was out to prove that result was more fluke than anything else. However, it struggled to get anything going offensively.

North Attleborough (2-0) out-gained the Eagles 445 yards to 96 in the game.

The defense was able to keep the team in the game early by intercepting Ryan Perron (6-of-13 for 81 yards) twice in the first quarter, one Tim Johnson took back 40 yards for a touchdown.

[+] EnlargeNorth Attleborough celebration
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comEmotions are running high in North Attleborough after the Red Rocketeers dominated BC High in an upset, outgaining the Eagles 445-96 from scrimmage.
Things got worse from there for the Eagles (0-2). After North Attleborough drove 80 yards on its ensuing possession to make it a one-point game, it was the benefit of its own mistake. Hunter, also the team’s kicker, lined up to kick off, but failed to get his foot properly under the ball, which sent a line drive into a BC High blocker. The football bounced back in North’s direction and Hunter fell on it to keep possession.

The play went in North’s favor so well that some wondered if it was actually a planned, unorthodox onside kick.

“No, that was purely accidental,” Red Rocketeers head coach Don Johnson said. “He was instructed to kick it deep and down and hard. The same thing happened at our game last week, and he recovered the kick, so that was just luck.”

Three minutes later, Alex Jette took a handoff five yards for a touchdown, and the Rocketeers never looked back.

JETTE'S ON AFTERBURNERS
Just one week after accounting for 345 all-purpose yards against Rhode Island power La Salle Academy, Jette was back at it again for North Attleborough. While his point totals were not nearly as abundant as they were last Friday (just 128 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and 53 yards receiving), he still made an impact on the game.

That kind of productivity, as a team, not just from Jette, will be extremely important for NA as it gets into its Hockomock League schedule if the team’s passing game is not clicking as much as it would like.

“We don’t have a weak spot,” said Jette when talking about his team’s run game. “We thought we were going to have a problem running up the middle against them today. They have huge linebackers and a huge defensive line, but we were able to run successful counters and then get the ball to the other side and catch them off guard.

Jette also made an impact on defense with an interception of Collins. He faced a tall order all night, literally, because he was matched up against the 6-foot-4 Lincoln Collins. While he was giving up three inches to the wideout, Jette held Collins to only two catches for 16 yards.

“Obviously he’s a great wide receiver,” Jette said. “He has a few inches on me, but our defense ran a lot of blitzes tonight, and I think that helped. We got pressure to the quarterback and he wasn’t able to get it to Lincoln Collins, so that helped me overall cover him better.”

OFFENSIVE WOES
BC High has yet to score an offensive touchdown through the first eight quarters of its season. Its lone touchdown came on Tim Johnson’s pick-six of Perron in the first quarter.

The Eagles have struggled to mount consistent offense yet this season, partly due to its well-documented injuries, most notably on offense to quarterback Brandon Craven. Danny Collins, his replacement, was 3-of-9 for 30 yards and an interception Friday.

It appeared the tide could have been turning in the third quarter, when the defense recovered a Hunter fumble at its own 10-yard line. After going three-and-out, the Eagles punted, but North Attleborough’s Tyler Sellner muffed the punt and BC High fell on the loose ball.

Unfortunately for them, NA brought a heavy rush on second and third down, getting to Collins each time, forcing a punt again.

--- With a 2-0 record and the way it dominated its opponents the past two weeks, the rest of the Hockomock League has to have its eyes on North Attleborough. As the season rolls on to its third week, the Rocketeers have become one of, if not the team to beat in the division. There will be no sneaking up on anyone.

“We came into these games knowing that they’re non-league games, but we could only come out here with a positive game,” Jette said. “Especially beating a great team like [BC High], that’s just a huge motivation factor, and now we just have to focus on winning our league games and making it into the playoffs.”

NO. 17 NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH 27, NO. 13 BC HIGH 7
NA --- 6 6 0 15 --- 27
BC --- 7 0 0 0 --- 7

1st Quarter
BC - Tim Johnson 40-yard interception return (Jackson Bockhorst kick good)
NA - Ryan Perron 3-yard run (Dwayne Hunter, Jr. kick no good)

2nd Quarter
NA - Alex Jette 5-yard run (Two-point conversion no good)

4th Quarter
NA - Perron 2-yard run (Perron 2-point conversion run good)
NA - Jack Blase 13-yard run (Hunter, Jr. kick good)

Recap: No. 22 Brockton 21, No. 2 BC High 0

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
12:16
AM ET
BROCKTON -- There have not been a lot of recent instances where Brockton was beaten as soundly as it was by BC High in last year's season opener.

The Eagles' 42-0 win was complete in every phase on their way to a Division 1 Super Bowl title. The loss sent Brockton into a tailspin that resulted in a 5-6 season, the program's first losing mark since 2001.

Well, last night at Marciano Stadium, the Boxers delivered a rousing counterpunch with a 21-0 shutout that felt even more decisive than the final score indicated.

"Last year, we couldn't match them, physically," said Brockton coach Peter Colombo. "This year, we obviously did."

And then some. Both lines dominated for the host Boxers, as they rushed for 310 yards and held BC High to 143 total and just 62 in the second half.

[+] EnlargeAustin Roberts
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comBrockton QB Austin Roberts orchestrated the offense in a vengeful shutout of rival BC High.
Senior quarterback Austin Roberts led the way for Brockton with 139 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, while junior tailback Aaron LeClair added 83 yards and a TD on seven attempts and fullback Ricardo Calixte contributed 61 yards on 10 rushes. Brockton only threw two passes (one interception, one incompletion), but didn't need to the way their front was blowing BC High off the ball. The Boxers completely eschewed the passing game in the second half with zero attempts but didn't punt, either. Their four second-half possessions read: touchdown, touchdown, lost fumble, touchdown.

The defense was physical and had its way between the hashes just as much as the offense did. Nowhere was that more apparent than at the end of the first half with the game still scoreless, when BC High marched inside the Brockton 10. On third down, quarterback Dan Collins took off and made a leaping attempt to the goal line but was leveled a yard short by a host of Brockton tacklers. After a timeout, BC High decided to go for it but Collins' sneak was stuffed by backup middle linebacker John Flaherty. The momentum lifted Brockton into the second half and the Boxers never looked back.

"I can't describe it. I'm still speechless, actually," said Brockton defensive back Micah Morel, who made an interception in the second half and played tight man coverage in the first half on Villanova-bound receiver Lincoln Collins. "I mean, I know it was only 21-0, but whenever you pitch a shutout against the No. 2 team in the state, that's saying something. That's saying a lot."

STRENGTH IN SENIORS
Usually, when BC High and Brockton meet up, no matter what the final score says, the ledger of the line play favors BC High. That was not the case Friday night. Not even close. Despite boasting Virginia-bound lineman Jack McDonald, BC High was pushed backwards on both sides of the ball by Brockton's line. The difference? For the first time in at least seven years (maybe longer), Brockton started five seniors on the offensive line. The defensive line is also a veteran unit. Four-year starters Joe Previte and Anthony Davis led the way, as Previte showed off the strength he displayed this offseason in throwing up a 410-pound bench press. On defense, players like Malik Cooley-Walker, Jeff Celestin and Max Castor were in the backfield all night.

LEADING ROLE
Like many teams, the Boxers have taken on the personality of their quarterback and it looks like it will pay big dividends this fall. Roberts is a tough runner who creates extra yards after contact and is simply a natural leader on the field. Many of his runs were just pure sneaks that he turned into 5-yard gains as the line pushed the pile forward. Coach Peter Colombo had the difficult task of retooling an offense that was shut out four times last season and built one around the strengths of his returning talent. The option scheme used most prominently in the college game by the likes of Navy and Georgia Tech can only work with a smart, tough quarterback and Roberts has both of those traits in abundance. He is also bigger, stronger and faster than he was last year, as he simply refused to go down on the first hit.

ROUGHED UP
BC High came into the game missing fullback/linebacker Luke Catarius to injury. The Eagles were also out three other starters on both lines, which needs to be factored in to an extent when taking into account how much Brockton controlled things physically. But at the end of the game, BC High suffered yet another brutal setback when quarterback Brendan Craven was carted off after getting hit low as he released a pass on the final possession of the game. In a scene eerily similar to Preston Cooper's season-ending ankle injury against Everett, Craven's injury looked very serious and left a pall over an already shaken squad.

BROCKTON 21, BC HIGH 0

BC High (0-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Brockton (1-0) 0 0 7 14 – 21

Third Quarter
Austin Roberts 1 run (Levon Merian kick)

Fourth Quarter
Aaron LeClair 10 run (Merian kick)
Roberts 23 run (Merian kick)

New faces blend talent for No. 2 BC High

September, 2, 2012
9/02/12
10:41
PM ET
With a new head coach patrolling the sidelines, some preseason injury concerns and a cast of new faces stepping into crucial roles on the field, an element of change has certainly been in the air around the BC High football program.

Joe Gaff, a 26-year veteran of the Everett police department, was tabbed to replace Jon Bartlett this summer. Gaff served as the Eagles defensive coordinator the last four years and has previous head coaching experience with Chelsea, Matignon, and Malden Catholic.

The Eagles quest to defend the Division 1 Super Bowl title has gotten off to something of an auspicious beginning, most notably because of the loss of All-State linebacker Luke Catarius. Catarius suffered a slight fracture to his right ankle earlier this week in a scrimmage with Mansfield, and will miss five to six weeks according to Gaff.

Standouts Jack McDonald, Billy Breen and Jaleel Johnson all sat out Friday's scrimmage against Lawrence with what Gaff called "nagging injuries", but all three are expected to be ready to go for Friday's season opener in Brockton.

On the field, the Eagles strength looks like it will be on defense, even with Catarius sidelined. Mark McGuire and Johnson are the anchors at defensive tackle while Tim Johnson and Mike McAuley (who had two interceptions in the Lawrence scrimmage) are standout cornerbacks.

At the linebacker spots, replacing Catarius will be difficult but the Eagles will lean on returnees Danny Collins and Brandon Owens. Brian Robinson has had a terrific preseason, Brian Landry is back after taking two years off from football, and Steve Dicienzo will also contribute.

When asked who would be looked to step up to fill the void left by Catarius, Gaff pointed at the group and talked about some changes the defense will have to make.

"I don't think I can pinpoint one guy. It's more of a unit," Gaff explained. "We've been playing a lot of base defense and letting Luke just read and go so we're going to have move our defense a lot more. We're going to have to be a bit more aggressive and make things happen instead of letting Luke clean things up. We have to set the tempo now and move our guys around a lot more than we have in the past."

The kicking game will also be stellar. BC High boasts one of the state's elite kickers in Jackson Bockhorst, who can hit from 50 yards out, and a strong punter in Pat Ahearn.

Offensively, the Eagles are extremely talented but very inexperienced. Virginia commit McDonald (6-5, 270 lbs.) and Breen (6-4, 240 lbs) will anchor the line from the tackle spots, although the versatile McDonald can play all five positions if needed. BC High adds three new starters to the unit, but the expectation is that they will be able to continue a fine tradition of line play at the school.

"We'll be a pretty quick offensive line this year," said Gaff. "We don't have the huge size all the way across but we'll be very athletic up front. We're looking to keep the tradition of solid offensive line play, keep the running game going, and they know that's what we want."

Senior Brendan Craven steps in at quarterback after spending the last couple of years watching former starter Bartley Regan, although Gaff hinted that Danny Collins may be used in spots as a change of pace, running QB in certain situations. Craven's main target should be 6-foot-4 Lincoln Collins, who committed to Villanova over the summer. Tim Johnson and Mike McAuley step into the lineup alongside him.

Brandon Owens will be the main tailback, joined by Skyler Evans. Catarius also served a crucial role as the team's fullback, so look for DiCienzo and Mitch LaFerriere to pick up the slack.

"I think we need some experience in the passing game," Gaff admitted. "We have talent but its been a lack of playing time for those guys. (Craven) is a first year quarterback and we have inexperience at WR. Even with Lincoln as great as he is, our two and three guys haven't got too much experience as receivers. And we have a new running back too, and losing Luke from that means we will have to do some different things."

BC HIGH AT A GLANCE
2011: 10-3, Division 1 Super Bowl champion
Coach: Joe Gaff (1st season)
Key Returnees: Billy Breen, Sr., OT/DL, 6-4, 240 lbs; Jack McDonald, Sr., OT/DT, 6-5, 275 lbs; Jaleel Johnson, Sr., DT, 6-2, 240 lbs, Mark McGuire, Sr. DL, 6-2, 200 lbs.; Tim Johnson, Sr. DB/WR, 5-10, 175 lbs.; Danny Collins, Sr. MLB/QB, 6-2, 185 lbs.; Lincoln Collins, Sr., WR, 6-4, 180 lbs; Brandon Owens, Sr. LB/RB, 6-0, 200 lbs.; Mike McAuley, Sr. DB/WR, 5-11, 170 lbs.; Brendan Craven, Sr. QB, 6-3, 180 lbs.; Skyler Evans, Sr. RB, 5-9, 180 lbs.
Strengths: Defense, kicking game, senior leadership.
Weaknesses: Inexperience on offense, key injuries.
Outlook: The defending Super Bowl champions have a different look and feel from the team that won the title, not just because those seniors are gone but also because those seniors were able to get playing time as juniors and sophomores, something much of this year's senior class hasn't had. "I think this is a different group," Gaff said. "That senior class last year was so good that we have a lot of guys that are seniors now and are stepping on the field for the first time. Last year we had a lot of guys that had played as juniors and I think that's the big difference. This years group is good, just not game experienced." Gaff and his charges will be put to the test early as the Eagles open with games against Brockton, North Attleboro, Dartmouth, St. Peters Prep (N.J.), Marlboro and Everett before finishing with its Catholic Conference slate. A strong defense should give the inexperienced offense time to get its feet wet and allow its talent to shine through. Bockhurst is a weapon that few other teams with his ability to boom field goals from as deep as 50 yards, something that may come into play early and often.

Scrimmage Slants: BC High vs. Mansfield

August, 28, 2012
8/28/12
11:23
PM ET
DORCHESTER, Mass. -– Thoughts and observations from tonight’s scrimmage between No. 2 BC High and No. 19 Mansfield, in which Mansfield’s varsity score three times to just one from the Eagles:

Matinee screening: Mansfield struggled on its opening drive, thanks to pressure applied in interior defensive line from an assorted combination of Jack McDonald, Jaleel Johnson, Mark McGuire and Billy Breen. That prompted the Hornets to go to their screen game in their next three varsity offensive series, yielding favorable results.

[+] EnlargeBC/Mansfield
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comBrandon Owens is expected to take over at tailback at BC High, and he showed some positive signs in Tuesday's scrimmage with Mansfield.
When the scrimmage went to “situational” play in the third and fourth varsity series (i.e., chain markers were brought in), seniors Roger Rapoza and Kevin Makie had big gains out of the backfield off screen passes to the flats from Kyle Wisniewski.

Makie was particularly efficient. In the third series, he took a screen in the left flat, shot up a seam and went untouched 32 yards down the sideline for a score. Makie also had a nice 45-yard reception in stride off a play-action pass, running a wheel through zone coverage up the right sideline to set up a touchdown plunge from three yards out.

“They came at us hard, and we had a little trouble protecting,” Mansfield head coach Mike Redding said. “They did a good job pounding us. But what I like is how we got some spunk and got things going when the chains got up and we got to some down and distance. We at least walked out of here with some confidence.”

BC High head coach Joe Gaff’s explanation for how the defense got exploited on those screens was simple – poor execution.

“No idea, that’s all we talk about around here is screens,” he said. “We just didn’t do a good job on screens. It was just clear as that. We didn’t read where they were coming from, our D-linemen went upfield too much, and we just didn’t hug the backs like we’re supposed to.”

Key injuries: Another Preseason ESPN Boston All-Stater took to the trainer’s table this evening, when BC High senior middle linebacker Luke Catarius left the field in the first defensive series with an injury to his right ankle, and did not return. Catarius, a Sandwich resident, made ESPN Boston’s All-State Team a year ago and is a likely candidate for both our Mr. Football and Defensive Player of the Year awards.

It’s worth wondering if Catarius’ absence helped contribute to the Eagles’ breakdown in pass defense, as the 6-foot, 215-pounder is the face (and quarterback) of the defense.

An early prognosis was not available.

“I think it’s just a little sprain, that’s all I’m hoping for,” Gaff said. “He’s a beast.”

Owens poised for breakout? Last weekend, we wrote about Xaverian junior defensive end Elijah Jolly as a potential breakout player in the Catholic Conference this fall. BC High’s Brandon Owens is my pick for the conference’s breakout player, and I would have said that two weeks ago. But the way he ran tonight made me feel safe about my conviction.

Though Owens only platooned part-time at linebacker last season, he still garnered enough attention from Division 1 FCS schools to make a verbal commitment to Bryant University last month, as a safety. This season, the 6-foot, 190-pounder figures to be the feature back in Gaff’s pro-style offense, and looks capable of taking 20 to 25 carries a game.

On BC High’s first offensive play of the night, Owens followed Catarius up the gut into the second level, bursting off for a 35-yard gain. Several times he took toss sweeps out of one and two-back formations, and turned the corner for gains of 8 to 12 yards. He can also bring some pop – on his final carry of the night, a dive, he lowered his shoulders and easily trucked a 250-pound Mansfield lineman and fell forward.

Owens also had the Eagles’ lone varsity score, a short plunge in the second series.

There is little twist in Owens’ arsenal. He is a one-cut, north-south runner with good first-step explosion that allows him to burst through the line of scrimmage at full speed. As an outside linebacker, he demonstrated good hands, shedding would-be blockers in run support.

“He runs hard,” Gaff said. “He’ll lose a few more pounds and get in better game shape. It’s hard to knock him down for a loss, he goes forward. I thought he did a real nice job tonight.”

Craven proving sufficient: Brendan Craven enters his senior year at BC High having never started a varsity game at quarterback, yet he holds various Division 1 interest and even a scholarship offer, from FCS school Valparaiso University. How did this happen?

For starters, Craven was a fixture at camps, keeping his name afloat on the recruiting radar as he waited patiently the last two seasons behind current Stonehill College freshman Bartley Regan. The 6-foot-2 Craven has proven himself as a good rhythm passer over the summer, to go with sharp footwork and scrambling ability.

Physically, he’s done all he can. The mental part will have to wait until the Eagles strap it up for real at Brockton on September 7, so for now we’re left with glimpses of what could become.

And there were some good glimpses. Craven and Villanova-bound wideout Lincoln Collins, a preseason ESPN Boston All-State selection, looked like they were on the same page for most of the night. In the second series, Craven hit the 6-foot-4 Collins on a bubble screen for 15 yards, then three plays later connected for a 30-yard strike after faking a counter handoff up the middle.

There’s still work to be done. Craven threw a pick-six in the third series saw repeated pressure from Hornets senior linemen Ollie Erickson, Jon Lawlor, Jamie Comer and Antonio Medeiros as the game wore on. But as he was repeatedly flushed out of the pocket by pressure in those third and fourth series, he demonstrated his pocket presence, to buy himself an extra second in the pocket with his footwork or breaking off for a run.

“He’s done everything except game time, which is why situations like this are good,” Gaff said. “It’s good to have situations like this, with getting pressure, getting pressure. We’ll clean this offensive line up, there’s no question about it. That’s our priority tomorrow, cleaning it up.”

BC High's Collins: 'Nova commitment 'felt right'

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
7:09
PM ET
Last night, BC High wide receiver Lincoln Collins committed to Villanova University, two weeks after making an unofficial visit to the campus. Collins' commitment came just six days after one of his teammates, offensive lineman Jack McDonald, made a pledge to the University of Virginia.

Collins spoke to ESPNBoston.com tonight for a few comments on his commitment:

Deciding factors: "Academics definitely. I wish I could play football forever, but obviously it's going to end at some point, and I think Villanova academically can set me up for life after football. Then when I went to camp down there, there was a lot of construction going on, making the campus look good. It felt right.

"I felt the camp was well-organized. Coach [Brian] Flinn the wide receivers coach, I got to work with him. I like the way the coaches and [recruiting coordinator] Tony Trisciani recruited me. [Andy] Talley, the head coach, I don't have a personal relationship with him yet, but I like that he's been there for 20 years. It shows loyalty to the school."

The plan for him at 'Nova: "We've talked a little bit about it. They're looking for me to play right away, and not redshirt, they want me to get done in four years. I know they run a spread offense. I'm definitely looking forward to that, coming from a pro style [at BC High], seeing more passes. I'll try to help out in any way I can."

On the spectre of 'Nova possibly joining the Big East for football in the future: "My recruiting coordinator, Coach Tisciani, said it's a possibility but he wouldn't guarantee they would be going. They're not selling that, but there's definitely a possibility. The blogs are all talking about it, and stuff like that."

On the amount of early commitments by BC High: "It just shows how strong we are as a program, as a team, and as friends. We’re all working hard. We all want something that's hard to get and make sure we get there. There will definitely be more commitments at a high level, but it just shows that BC High turns out quality football players, and the coaches take care of us. Overall, the school gets us to where we want to be."

BC High's Collins commits to Villanova

July, 1, 2012
7/01/12
6:54
PM ET
[+] EnlargeLincoln Collins
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comBC High wide receiver Lincoln Collins, one of the state's top wideouts, ended his recruitment today with a commitment to Villanova.
Boston College High wide receiver Lincoln Collins has verbally committed to Villanova University for the fall of 2013, his head coach Joe Gaff told ESPNBoston.com tonight.

"He's really ecstatic about it," Gaff said. "He liked it from beginning, especially the academics of it. He wanted the academics. Just when he stepped on campus, he really loved the campus itself."

The 6-foot-3 Collins was one of several downfield threats on a well-oiled Eagles offense that last season averaged nearly 28 points per game in attaining their second Division 1 Eastern Mass. title in four years. He is one of the state's top returning wideouts, and one of the most imposing deep-ball threats.

New BC High coach Gaff: 'I am just humbled'

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
12:12
AM ET
We caught up tonight with new BC High head football coach Joe Gaff, who was officially elevated from Defensive Coordinator and named successor to Jon Bartlett this afternoon. Over our half-hour conversation, Gaff discussed his new responsibilities, as well as the gameplan going forward and the talent coming up through the program's ranks.

Gaff, a member of the Everett Police Department by day, has served the last four years as Bartlett's defensive coordinator. The two teamed up for Division 1 Super Bowl titles in 2008 and 2011. Prior to that, he had a two-year stint as the head coach at Catholic Conference rival Malden Catholic.

His reaction to being named the new head coach: "I am just humbled. There are so many great people over there, so many great guys already there on the staff that have really pulled a lot of hard work. And to take over one of the elite programs in the state not just on the field, but off the field -- these are such quality kids outside of football -- it's a remarkable feeling."

On the element of continuity with this hire: "It's huge, and I think that's what they saw throughout this whole process. Jon has done such a wonderful job putting together such a great staff together, and we've had hardly any turnover in my four years here. I want to keep that going. It's not just about wins and losses, it's about getting kids into the right schools and playing the right way, that's really what BC High is all about. The whole message we try to preach over there is it's more than just wins and losses at BC High. It's about life."

What working under Bartlett has meant to him, and how those roles will change going forward: "I just think that it's just a friendship that we've bonded these last four short years. We're best friends, and we talk all of the time. Even in the offseason, we spend time together in the offseason. The friendship we've developed is amazing. It's a nice thing that he'll still be in the corner office. It's nice to know I have a friend there, and that the door's always going to be open."

Lessons learned from his last head coaching stint in the Catholic Conference, at Malden Catholic: "I think it's just that kids, no matter where you are, are great kids, and while some situations are different, all kids everywhere I've been at just want you to give them the best chance to win. I think that's going to be the philosophy at BC High. I'll still be coaching varsity swimming at Malden Catholic. I've got great swimmers -- we're not the best program in the world, but we started off with 15 kids and now we've got 43. And it's worked out, I'm going to be able stay in that position over there as well, so I'm ecstatic about that. It's hard going between two schools, but we're all in this business to teach kids right and wrong, and try to give them the right direction in life. I don't care what sport, what school, that will always be my mission."

His coaching style, and the philosophy going forward: "When Jon and I talked four years ago, that's what the whole idea was, our coaching styles were the same, and that's why it's worked so well. His idea of a pro-style offense with multiple formations is what I like. You have to adapt to different players, and we have to go with what best suits us every year, and for that I like the system Jon has put in. You don't want to be one-dimensional. Some years you'll have a great stable of running backs, other years its the wide receivers and quarterback, and I think it helps us to be a multiple-formation team.

"Defensively, we're going to stay very physical and very aggressive. The other thing is you really have to make sure the kids are very disciplined on the field, and these kids do such a good job with being disciplined off the field. They know why they're there -- academics, spiritual life and sports. We did mostly a four-man front, and I think we're going to stay with that. With the manpower we have, we're going to play with some things in the secondary and with the linebackers. We've got a great linebacker in Luke Catarius coming back, he is a heck of a player. We'll be mostly a four-man front though, but with the way teams can be pass-happy now, we'll have a little bit of three-man front. But we'll stay mostly in a four-man front, and adapt to what we need to."

On the coordinators situation: "I'll stay at defensive coordinator. Offense, I'm just getting the job today, we've got some quality guys on the staff, but it's something that I really haven't had a chance to talk about yet. We just have some great guys and friendships on the staff, and that's leads over to the kids' comfort zone. Offensive coordinator is going to be a big thing. Jon was head coach and offensive coordinator, and they averaged quite a few points in his career. It's going to be tough to match that."

On replacing the Class of 2012 talent, and the talent coming up: "We've got a good core of players coming back between Lincoln Collins, [Jack McDonald], Lucas [Catarius], Billy Breen. [Brendan] Craven hopefully will fill in for Bartley Regan at quarterback. It's going to be tough to replace Preston Cooper and Deontae [Ramey-Doe] at running back. Deontae did a tremendous job for Preston after he went down. We're going to have to find a tailback, but I think we've got a few guys that can fill the spot nicely.

"McDonald, he's got a bunch of offers. We haven't gotten into that yet though, we're meeting next week to set up a lot of that stuff. We've got Mark McGuire [senior tight end/defensive end] coming back, he's going to be great. Tim Johnson [senior defensive back], he had a great interception in the Super Bowl [last December], he's back. We do have some good kids coming up. Brandon Owens is another one coming back, we'll use him at outside linebacker some with his speed, and he'll play a little tailback for us too."

The most important thing to take care of between now and August: "Getting everyone comfortable with everything, try to get everyone on the same page. The offensive and defensive terminology might change a little, but as long as we continue to put in hard work in the weight room we'll be OK."

How he will handle college recruiting inquiries: "That's something me and Jon haven't yet worked out. Unfortunately I'm out of the building because I'm a police officer, but it's something we're working on. Jon will help me out with that. They already have a system over there, but we'll try to continue that. We've sent a player to Harvard four years in a row -- that's not too bad. Jon will be a big part, guidance will be a big part, and I think we'll all work together to get these kids into college."

BC High trio attend Semper Fidelis combine

January, 19, 2012
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A trio of BC High football players were among seven Massachusetts participants recently to attend the upcoming Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl "Proving Ground" combine.

Eagles linebacker/fullback Luke Catarius, quarterback Brendan Craven and wide receiver Lincoln Collins were among the 300 elite juniors competing in the individual skills competitions in Phoenix, Ariz. on Jan. 2.

Other Bay Staters who participated in the combine were Brockton's Ryan Kelley, Nashoba's Zack Hume, Catholic Memorial wide receivers David Berment Jr. and Deijon Evans, and Portsmouth Abbey (R.I.) quarterback Gabe Carter.

On another note, Craven was one of two Massachusetts-based players to attend the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio, Texas on Jan. 5-7.

Recap: BC High 34, Chelmsford 13

November, 30, 2011
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LOWELL, Mass. -- They say it is always tough to beat a team twice in a season. On Tuesday night, BC High accomplished that feat defeating Chelmsford for the second time this season, 34-13, in the Eastern Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal at Lowell’s Cawley Stadium.

Chelmsford began the game with a drive that saw them move the ball all the way down to the BC High 23-yard line. BC High linebacker James Moynahan then made the play of the first quarter as he picked off Chelmsford quarterback Colby Emanouil at the 18-yard line. The interception set up a Bartley Regan 14-yard out to Gordon McLeod followed by a 68-yard touchdown burst from senior Deontae Ramey-Doe.

[+] EnlargeJameson McShea
Ryan Kilian for ESPN.comTemple-bound Jameson McShea and the BC High defense kept Chelmsford's offensive stars in check.
“It was a toss to the outside,” Ramey-Doe said. “ I saw that the defense was heading to the outside so I had to cut it back and I only had one tackle to break until it was just wide open.”

Chelmsford would answer back on the second play of the second quarter as Emanouil got wide and took it around the left side for a 6-yard touchdown run.

After a Regan strike to Lincoln Collins made it 14-7 BC High in the second quarter senior defensive back Yosa Nosamiefan stepped in front of an Emanouil pass and took it 47 yards to the end zone to extend the Eagles' lead to 21-7 heading into the half.

BC High kept Emanouil and running back Eddie Sheridan in check for most of the night as the two Lions’ offensive stars struggled to break their typical “big plays”.

“They [Chelmsford] were tough, but we worked real hard in practice over the past few days and knew that their running game was going to be a challenge,” BC High junior linebacker Luke Catarius said.

Chelmsford also proved stout against the run on the evening which gave Regan more opportunities to throw the ball. The BC High senior signal caller found his favorite target McLeod to open the second half on a 12-yard corner end zone strike to extend the lead to 27-7 with 8:05 remaining in the third.

“Each game we have a different scheme,” BC High head coach Jon Bartlett said. “We wanted to throw the ball a little more tonight. They had great pressure and our guys did a good job of picking them up.”

Sheridan finally found the end zone in the third quarter as the senior scored his 25th rushing touchdown of the season on a 4-yard burst through the middle of the line. The touchdown cut the lead to 27-13 and gave the Lions momentum heading into the fourth quarter.

“I thought our defense responded well,” said Bartlett. “We stress all the time that if big plays happen you just have to forget about it and get to the next play.”

BC High stepped up their effort after Sheridan’s score and used the clock to their advantage as Moynahan capped off the game in the final quarter with an 18-yard touchdown run to seal the win and send BC High to the Division 1 Super Bowl.

“It feels great,” said Ramey-Doe of getting to Gillette and the Super Bowl. “A lot of us have been here (BC High) for four or even five years now, from our middle school class. It is a real great experience and we are all happy.”

Trusting the O-Line
Ramey-Doe also credited his offensive line for their strong play on the evening. Along with Temple-bound tight end Jameson McShea the Eagles scored 34 points on one of the state’s stingiest defenses.

“Our offensive line has been getting better and better each week,” Ramey-Doe said. “I trust them that if I just work hard and hit the holes they will be there.”

Ramey-Doe has seen his carries and role dramatically increase as he became BC High’s primary ball carrier with the season ending ankle injury to star senior tailback Preston Cooper against Everett during the regular season.

Chelmsford recap
Chelmsford concludes their season with a 10-2 record and graduates a stellar senior class led by Boston College-bound linebacker Tim Joy, linebacker Corey Everleigh, defensive end Brett Harrington, along with Emanouil and Sheridan.

“I am real proud of our kids,” Chelmsford head coach Bruce Rich said. “These guys are outstanding. They have great size and great talent over there.”

1st Quarter
B – Deontae Ramey-Doe 68 run (Jackson Bockhorst kick)

2nd Quarter
C – Colby Emanouil 6 run (Charlie Calenda kick)
B – Lincoln Collins 13 pass from Bartley Regan (Bockhorst kick)
B – Yosa Nosamiefan 47 interception return (Bockhorst kick)

3rd Quarter
B – Gordon McLeod 12 pass from Regan (kick failed)
C – Eddie Sheridan 4 run (kick failed)

4th Quarter
B – James Moynahan 18 run (Bockhorst kick)

Recap: No. 3 BC High 7, St. John's Prep 0

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
11:41
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BOSTON, Mass. -- It was a sloppy, out-of-sync game for the BC High offensive unit, but an ugly win is always better than the alternative.

The No. 3 Eagles (7-3) got the game-winning touchdown with 1:11 — fittingly on 11/11 — left in the fourth quarter on a Bartley Regan touchdown throw to Gordon McLeod to fend off St. John’s Prep, 7-0, last night at Viola Stadium.

Regan struggled mightily in the first half as he finished the first half with six straight incomple passes, but capped off the final drive 5-for-6 for 71 yards and a score to keep the Eagles undefeated in the Catholic Conference at 3-0.

“We had two days off from school and I think that really impacted the game. We didn’t really have any focus,” said Regan, who finished 8-of-14 for 113 yards and score. “We came out flying in the second half hitting everyone. The offense came out moving the ball, so it worked out.”

BACK TO NORMAL ON FINAL DRIVE
Regan overshot several receivers in the first half and looked frustrated several times when he returned to the sidelines.

The halftime break apparently helped him out.

The signal-caller for the Eagles was calm and collected on the game-winning drive when the Eagles go the ball back with four minutes and change left in the fourth quarter. Regan hit Lincoln Collins for an 11-yard gain and then hit a deep post to Collins — a play the two missed on early in the game — for big yardage to the Prep 33-yard line.

Regan then connected on a huge fourth down conversion to McLeod and went right back to him for the game-winning score.

McLeod pulled a double move on his defender and got seperation towards the left pylon and Regan laid it in there nicely for the game-winner.

“It came down to them throwing the ball down the field with the big play to [Collins],” Prep head coach Jim O’Leary said. “Then [McLeod] gets open and we had been tight on him all day.”

THIRD QUARTER DOMINATION
Even though the Eagles didn’t score in the quarter, or even score up until the final drive of the game, the momentum may have been swung back in their favor in the third quarter.

After forcing the Prep into a three-and-out on the opening drive of the half, the Eagles got the ball at their own 11-yard line and didn’t relinquish the ball again until an unfortunate fumble inside their opponents 5-yard line.

Luke Catarius picked up the tough yards as the Eagles marched 16-plays and held the ball for almost 10 minutes of play. With Preston Cooper in a walking boot and sporting crutches on the sidelines, Deontae Ramey-Doe got back to his shiftiness and picked up 50 yards on 10 carries in the second half.

That ability to run the ball may have relieved the pressure off the passing offense and allowed the offense to get the kinks out of the system.

“They were playing the pass and we couldn’t do anything in the first half,” McLeod said. “When we came out running in the third it really opened up what we wanted to do in the fourth quarter.”

PREP DEFENSE IMPRESSIVE
The Eagles may have been out-of-sync, but a lot of the credit has to go to the Prep defense in the first half.

Owen Lynch picked up two sacks and had a number of quarterback hurries. Kyle Kaneb, Lynch and the Prep defense teamed up to hold the Eagles to less than 50 yards of total offense in the first half.

“It was a great effort from our team on the road,” O’Leary said.

Everett's De Souza comes up big for 'Lili'

October, 23, 2011
10/23/11
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EVERETT, Mass. -- Within the Everett football program, kids find a variety of ways to express themselves, from the "44" written in eye blackener on the cheeks of quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso (in honor of injured captain Buck McCarthy); to the No. 3 frosted into the back of Jalen Felix's hair (his number); to the "#" and "1" written on the eye black strips of running back Vondell Langston (the message there is obvious).

But perhaps no message was more meaningful this afternoon than the one written on the eye black strips of defensive back Gilly De Souza: "R.I.P. Lili".

Lili is a cousin of De Souza, who died of a heart attack yesterday in her native Brazil, in her early 50's. It had been over a decade since De Souza last saw her, but the memories remained close. Lili was the godmother of De Souza's mother, too.

"When I heard, I didn't even know what to say," De Souza said. "It's a big game, my mother talked to me, 'I know what happened was bad, but just concentrate on the game'. I came out today to play for her.

"Just a great person overall. I can't believe I lost her."

De Souza responded by making one of the key plays of the game late in the second quarter, an interception of BC High's Bartley Regan in the right flat that was nearly returned to the house, but instead set up a Jonathan DiBiaso touchdown plunge to make it 28-7.

The intended receiver, the lanky but shifty Lincoln Collins, had burned the Everett secondary for a long catch off a hitch route on third down the previous series, and assistant coach Carlos Ruiz told De Souza to look for it again on third down. This time, De Souza jumped in front of Collins' route, and took the ball 65 yards up the sideline, getting pushed out at the BC High 8 with time winding down in the second quarter. Three plays later, Jonathan DiBiaso called his own number for a four-yard dive and 28-7 lead (De Souza kicks every extra point, by the way).

"I just wanted to put this game out for her," De Souza said. "Family is family."

Said DiBiaso, "Gilly's a great athlete, multi-sport player. He just makes plays. Whether it's reading eyes, he's a very smart kid, as an athlete he makes plays, and he made some today in crunch time."

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