Boston High School: Mark Webber

NEPSAC: Milton Academy 62, Dexter 18

November, 16, 2013
BROOKLINE, Mass. – Together they formed an unstoppable gridiron duo.

The Milton Academy senior running back – a proven ground gainer capable of wearing down opposing defenses and the reigning Independent School League MVP – amassed 205 rushing yards on 25 carries that included four second-half touchdowns. And, despite a hamstring injury that sidelined him in the Mustangs season finale and nearly relegated him to decoy status against Dexter School, he committed only one miscue: a fumble on the second play from scrimmage.

The other – an upstart sophomore identified early in the season by Milton’s 18-year head coach Kevin MacDonald as ‘special’ – positively dominated the air attack on both sides of the ball. He contributed four catches for 87 yards on offense and two interceptions defensively, production that netted him three touchdowns overall.

On Saturday afternoon, this tandem, otherwise known as Drew Jacobs and Domenic Cozier, provided the collective punch necessary to propel Milton to a 62-18 victory over host Dexter in the Tom Flaherty New England Championship Bowl game.

“We have more confidence and swagger when he’s out there,” said MacDonald of Jacobs’ questionable status. “He fumbled the first one. He literally had maybe taken one handoff in practice.

“I thought this was maybe just going to be a ceremonial thing where he got a few snaps and then we put somebody else in. So I was shocked when he actually did what he did. That was pure guts.”

As for Jacobs’ heir apparent, Cozier, MacDonald was far less surprised with the underclassman’s breakout performance.

“He had an unbelievable game,” said MacDonald of the sophomore. “I’ve said all year that I think he’s a special player because he never gives up and he’s super athletic. He can sky. He runs a four-five forty, he’s got a 39-inch vertical (and) he’s just a very athletic kid. Plus, he has a terrific attitude.

“Maybe we’ve underutilized him a little bit this year, but today he just didn’t allow us to underutilize him. He made plays.”

TURNING POINT: With Milton leading 27-12 at the half, Dexter received the kickoff to start the second-half. On the second play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Luke Cuneo hit senior wide receiver Mark Webber for what appeared to be a short gain along the right sideline. But Webber wrestled through four arm tackles and raced 72 yards for what turned out to be a 78-yard touchdown only 50 seconds into the frame.

It was a play that seemed to awaken Milton and, in particular, Jacobs.

“I was pissed when they scored,” he admitted. “We all were.”

The response from Milton was emphatic. The Mustangs – behind three touchdown runs by Jacobs – reeled off 28 unanswered third quarter points to turn a 27-18 advantage into a 55-18 blowout 11:10 later.

Jacobs ripped off scoring runs of 35, 18 and 10 yards using a series of stutter steps and cutbacks to evade defenders. And while his trademark burst wasn’t there given his lingering hamstring woes, the senior displayed know-how to be productive even with his health at less than 100 percent.

“The line in the second half,” he explained,” those holes were huge. Coach (Paul) Healey said, ‘Anybody could have run through those holes in the second half.’

“I started slow. I was a little nervous about the hamstring. But it felt good towards the end.”

And sandwiched in between Jacobs’ first and second touchdown was Cozier’s pick-six, a play in which he corralled the interception off a deflection and zigzagged 38 yards for a touchdown that gave the Mustangs a 41-18 lead with 6:58 left in the third quarter.

Jacobs went on to add a fourth touchdown on a three-yard, which effectively closed out the scoring, midway through the fourth quarter.

HE’S ONLY A SOPH-O-MORE!: While Jacobs carried the load over the final 24 minutes, Cozier’s first-half play was paramount in keeping the Mustangs competitive.

After Dexter scored by way of a Luke Cuneo three-yard draw on its first possession – a drive set up at midfield by Jacobs’ fumble – to take a 6-0 lead, Cozier hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass that included 25 yards after the catch, which he gained using a collection of spin moves, jump cuts and head fakes to outmaneuver Dexter’s secondary.

“We watched film on them and they couldn’t really control the pass,” he said. “So we had a game plan of just throwing over a lot . . . the post wheel, and we got it.”

Cozier’s second touchdown reception was even more impressive.

With Milton clinging to a 13-12 lead halfway through the second quarter after Cuneo connected with C.J. Okafor for a 51-yard scoring strike, Cozier made an acrobatic 22-yard catch along the right sideline of the end zone in which he turned and out-jumped two defenders. His deft body control somehow kept him inbounds when he landed from his jump.

On the whole, Cozier’s performance had more than just his coach raving.

“Dom played unbelievable,” Jacobs said. “I think he was the MVP. That’s who you should be interviewing.”

COSTLY MISCUES: Lost amidst the dominant performances of Jacobs and Cozier were the mistakes made by Dexter.

In addition to Cozier’s pick-six in the third quarter, Dexter also had both a blocked punt and strip sack returned for touchdowns.

The blocked punt occurred with 4:18 left in the first quarter when deep in its own territory, Milton’s Ethan Webster-Zinn deflected the punt at Dexter’s 10-yard line and teammate Matthew Morin scooped up the ball and rumbled into the end zone.

Trailing 20-12, Dexter again committed a turnover which resulted in points.

With time winding down in the first half, Milton’s Morin broke through the defensive line and flushed Cuneo to his right. As Morin pulled Dexter’s QB to the ground the ball popped out. In one fluid motion, Milton’s Sean Sylva grabbed the ball and raced 51 yards for the score and a 27-12 lead with 53.2 seconds left.

“That’s a great team over there,” said Dexter coach Casey Day of Milton. “They capitalized on every mistake that we made today and that’s what champions do.”

HISTORICAL SUCCESS: In MacDonald's tenure, Milton, which finished the season with an 8-1 record, has established itself as a perennial NEPSAC football power.

On Saturday, MacDonald picked up his third bowl win in his 18 years leading the Mustangs program, and first since 2008. Milton also captured a title back in MacDonald’s inaugural season (1996) coaching in the ISL.

Meanwhile, Dexter (7-2), which is only in its 11th season competing at the varsity level, reached a bowl for the first time in school history.

And while only one school received the Tom Flaherty New England Championship Bowl, the success of the upstart, albeit defeated, program was not lost on either coach.

“Casey’s done a great job with that program,” MacDonald said. “They’ve probably played football for 10 years or less. And to get to a New England Championship game . . . he’s really got some athletes. I think he’s really just done a tremendous job. Things just went our way today.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of our guys,” Day said. “Things didn’t turn out how we wanted them to today. But we have an unbelievable group of seniors that got us to this point. I tip my cap to those guys. They’ve built this program basically from the bottom. When they were freshmen we were at the bottom of the barrel and now we’re up near the top.”

M - 13 - 14 - 28 - 7 --- 62
D - 6 - 6 - 6 - 0 --- 18

First Quarter
D - Luke Cuneo 3 run (pass failed) 9:47
M - Domenic Cozier 41 pass from Anthony Scurto (kick failed) 5:08
M - Matthew Morin 10 blocked punt return (Jaejung Joon kick) 4:18

Second Quarter
D - C.J. Okafor 51 pass from Cuneo (pass failed) 6:50
M - Cozier 22 pass from Scurto (Joon kick) 4:04
M - Sean Sylva 51 fumble return (Joon kick) :53.2

Third Quarter
D - Mark Webber 78 pass Cuneo (pass failed) 11:10
M - Drew Jacobs 35 run (Joon kick) 7:47
M - Cozier 38 interception return (Joon kick) 6:58
M - Jacobs 18 run (Joon kick) 4:11
M - Jacobs 10 run (Joon kick) :24.6

Fourth Quarter
M - Jacobs 3 run (Joon kick) 6:55

Recap: Dexter 38, Hyde (Maine) 28

October, 12, 2013

BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Gridiron history is being made at Dexter School.

After defeating Evergreen-Bonnefond League foe Hyde School (Bath, ME), 38-28, at home on Saturday afternoon, Dexter is 4-0 for the first time and sitting atop the standings.

“Yeah, we’re making history,” said Dexter head coach Casey Day. “But, obviously, it wasn’t easy.”

Hyde proved Dexter’s most challenging opponent this season. After collectively outscoring its first three adversaries 107-49, the hosts were repeatedly forced into situations versus Hyde which tested their mental and physical resilience.

Every time the home team responded.

Early on, however, it did not appear the contest would turn into such a battle.

A little over a minute into the first quarter Dexter struck for two quick scores, hinting that a blowout might follow.

First, Luke Cuneo, who completed 18-of-30 passes for 274 yards, three touchdowns, three two-point conversations and two interceptions, connected with Mark Webber (six catches, 83 yards, TD) down the right sideline for a 27-yard scoring strike. Opting to go for two-points, Cuneo then found Justin Smith for an 8-0 lead.

Dexter retained possession when it successfully recovered its onside kick off. On the next play, Cuneo again went deep this time finding Colin O’Brien (four catches, 115 yards, TD) down the right sideline for a 38-yard touchdown. Another two-point conversation – this one to Chris Kinney – extended Dexter’s lead to 16-0 only 1:06 into the first quarter.

“More often than not we’re an onside kicking team,” Day explained. “Maybe in the past we didn’t have the guys to cover the thing. We have the guys that can cover the thing now and a guy that can punch it down deep. We feel like if we can get one or two a game, and we’ve got a good shot at it, we’ll take a crack.”

As opposed to Dexter’s ultra aggressive, spread, no-huddle, up-tempo and frenetically paced offense, Hyde instead opted for a more methodical, grind-it-out approach reliant on a ground attack and passes to its 6-foot-4 tight end, Chris Collins (eight catches, 156 yards, two TD, two-point conversion), across the middle which utilized both his height and athleticism.

“We’ve been working on that a lot during practices,” said Collins of the numerous jump ball catches he made against opposing defensive backs. “I have a lot of height on kids and I used to play basketball. Like I said before, I can just go up and grab it. I love going to get the ball.”

The philosophy worked as Hyde settled in before eventually scoring with 9:52 to play in the second quarter. Evander Lenardson hit Collins for a 35-yard touchdown. A fake point-after attempt resulted in Collins catching the two-point conversion from Deker Adelman.

Leading 16-8 at halftime, Hyde had opportunities to further close the deficit. However, the Dexter defense held.

It was a spark that also seemed to propel an offensive unit that had gone stagnant since the game’s opening 76 seconds.

What followed was a seesaw scoring battle throughout the third quarter. Dexter scored first en route to 22 points over a 12 minute span, while Hyde added 14 points of its own.

Cuneo picked up his third touchdown on a 22-yard pass to C.J. Okafor with 8:43 to play in the frame. After Hyde responded with a Jared Jenson 9-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 22-14, Okafor returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Matt Cuneo converted the 2-point attempt with a run up the middle.

Trailing 30-14, Collins snagged his second touchdown with 2:27 remaining in the quarter. Lenardson hit Jensen for the 2-point conversion to bring the score to 30-22.

Then, with three seconds remaining in the quarter, Matt Cuneo took the handoff from his brother Luke and ran it into the end zone from 15 yards out. Owen Martinson corralled Luke Cuneo’s pass for the two-point conversion and a 38-22 advantage.

“We kind of let up a little bit, which disappointed me,” said senior quarterback Luke Cuneo. “Myself, I made a couple bad decisions. But going into halftime leading 16-8, Coach kind of said, ‘Boys, we have to pick it up or this team is going to creep back into the game.’ We knew we had to come out in the second half and put one in right away, and we did. Nice touchdown pass to CJ and a good catch.”

Hyde’s Caleb Jones scored on a 16-yard run early in the fourth quarter, but it would be all the offense the visitors would muster.

As Hyde drove deep into Dexter’s territory with less than two minutes remaining, junior linebacker Nick Strand dropped back into coverage and snared an interception to effectively seal the win.

Still, with four games remaining, including one against an undefeated New Hampton School squad, Dexter is focused on achieving bigger goals besides simply making school history through four games.

“We didn’t have the best week of practice this week,” Luke Cuneo said. “But, like I said, if we keep practicing 100 percent every week there’s no team that we can’t beat. If we keep working 100 percent and playing hard, there’s a chance that we could go undefeated. We’re looking forward to it.”

Dexter baseball doubles up BB&N

May, 2, 2011

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Dexter School head baseball coach Dan Donato didn’t forget the two losses his team suffered last season at the hands of BB&N, apparently neither did the rest of his team.

Donato’s club ran it’s winning streak to eight games in 2011 after an 8-4 win over BB&N (8-4) on Monday night at Harvard University, which was the site of an exciting extra-innings affair won by the Knights last season.

“We came over here with a little sense of purpose to avenge some of those losses,” said Donato.

Dexter used a four-run top of the fifth inning, and tacked on three more in the final two innings to give starter John Magliozzi and relief pitcher Ryan Sullivan breathing room to work. Magliozzi gave up two earned runs and struck out seven in six innings of work, while Sullivan survived the seventh despite watching two runs cross the plate.

The Knights’ grabbed the early 2-0 lead after Rhett Wiseman took advantage of some second life in the bottom of the third. Wiseman got jammed, but Pat Curtis couldn’t corral the short pop-up despite a valiant diving attempt.

Wiseman smacked the next pitched up the middle by the diving centerfielder to plate Mike Samko and Robert Krentzman.

Dexter started 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, but finally broke through when freshman Mark Webber singled in Barrett O’Neill in the top of the fourth. Knights’ starter Devin Perry was moving through the lineup with five strikeouts in the first four innings, but a blister he developed on the top of his thumb on his throwing hand opened the Dexter floodgates.

Dexter plated four in the top of the fifth, with Curtis coming through with the crushing two-run double to push the lead to 5-2. Magliozzi’s sacrifice fly brought home Matt Cuneo in the top of the sixth off of reliever Matt Pugh, and Brendan Fitzgerald later scored on a throwing error as the right-fielder overthrew the cut-off man.

“It came down to some fundamentals and I thought our kids did a good job in those areas,” Donato said. “We found a way to battle a good pitcher”

Keeping the runs coming against a very tough BB&N team was very important for Donato, because Magliozzi had to weasel his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth and the Knights did tack on two in the final frame.

“I knew we had to, because their bats are that good,” Donato said. “In the late innings we were still running, we were still trying to manufacture runs, because I have a lot of respect for what they do and how they play the game.”

Life Without Chin
There was a glaring void for BB&N on the mound as Andrew Chin is out for the remainder of the year. The talented lefy, who is expected to play next season at Boston College, will undergo Tommy John Surgery in the next few weeks, according to Knights’ head coach Rick Foresteire.

Foresteire has had to do some shuffling, and seeing his new No. 1 starter Perry leave the game with a blister issue was probably the last thing that he wanted to see.

“He just cut it somehow on the top,” he said. “It’s not anything long-term. He hasn’t had a chance to stretch out in the last week or so in terms of innings. I think he threw well. … I think it got a little irritating (for him).”

Perry, Pugh and Brandon Kerrigan will have to fill in for arguably the most consistent starting pitcher in the entire state. The shock of losing the ace of the staff, who helped BB&N go 20-0 last season, is still tough to shake off for Foresteire and the rest of the club.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “He’s a great kid and that’s why it’s been so tough on all of us. Not only is he talented, but what he’s meant to the program. You know he wants to be out there competing, and to not get to see him pitch is sad.”