Boston High School: Markus Edmunds

Our 2014 Summer Football Primer

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
11:52
AM ET
Don't look now, but the first day of MIAA football practices is just 40 days away. Per our tradition every summer, ESPN Boston High Schools editors Brendan C. Hall and Scott Barboza whet your appetite for the gridiron with some players on the rise, surprise teams to watch, top teams and some food for thought.

Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


FIVE PLAYERS ON THE RISE

Drew Jean-Guillaume, Sr. QB/DB, Shepherd Hill
With a powerful frame and impressive speed honed during track and field season, Jean-Guillaume is a throwback-type option quarterback, a converted running back who’s as adept at powering through defenders as he is at evading or blowing by them. The Rams will be heavy favorites in Division 4, and Jean-Guillaume will have plenty of room to work behind a reportedly heavy line led by Boston College commit Chris Lindstrom.

Mekhi Henderson, Soph. DB, Xaverian
In a defense full of household names, Henderson is one of the Hawks’ brightest young stars. Often last season, he was left on an island against an opponent’s top target, and often he held his own. With his coverage skills and raw ability, the coaching staff has a luxury to get creative in the secondary.

Shane Combs, Sr. ATH, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
It’s assumed that Combs, a Notre Dame baseball commit and ESPN Boston All-State selection during the spring, will take the reins at quarterback from last year’s Mr. Football finalist Drew Smiley. The Missouri transplant was one of the state’s most productive rushers during the playoffs, going over the century mark in all five postseason contests as the Pioneers reached the Division 2 state final.

Mike Maggipinto, Jr. RB, East Longmeadow
Somewhat quietly, the 5-foot-5 scatback eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark last year for the Spartans, running behind a great blocking scheme that continued to find unique ways to get him in space. Between Maggipinto and Plymouth North’s Christian Carr, this could be the year of the pint-sized running back.

Jahkari Carpenter, Sr. RB, Doherty
Among the area’s most elusive, Carpenter was a weekly highlight reel during the Highlanders’ run to the Division 4 state title, with runs like THIS, or THIS, or THIS. Junior Tavian Vassar is expected to have a bigger role in the backfield this year, which could make for an imposing thunder-and-lightning combination.

FIVE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Billerica
The Indians hit a home run this offseason with the hiring of Duane Sigsbury as their new head coach, though they are considered a year or two away. Still, Sigsbury is one of the area’s brightest offensive minds, with a track record of making programs relevant in a hurry (see: Boston Cathedral). Similar to his other stops, there are already some terrific talents coming up the pipe.

Boston English
The Blue and Blue made history last fall to end Brian Vaughn’s first season at the helm, beating Boston Latin for the first time since 1997. Now, with dynamic dual threat Emmanuel Almonte leading the offense, they’ll look to continue last year’s momentum.

Cambridge
Long considered a powder keg for skill talent, head coach Ryan Saulnier has tapped into it, and found a lot of success running his brand of spread offense in his first season last fall. With Marcus Collins returning under center, and a new home in the Dual County League, the Falcons ought to be one of the most entertaining teams to watch in Division 2 North.

Leominster
Blue Devils graduated one of their most talented classes ever, but this is a program built to reload, not rebuild, under a great offensive mind in Dave Palazzi. Defensive coordinator Charlie Raff left to take over at Oakmont, but in his place comes former North Middlesex coach John Margarita. It’s too early – not to mention, lofty – to make any Neil O’Connor comparisons yet, but keep an eye on sophomore Noah Gray this fall.

Springfield Central
Similar to Leominster, the Golden Eagles have many holes to fill on the heels of its most successful season in school history. But they should have a solid defense again, led by lineman Kaleb Hunter-Sams, and the coaching staff should get a boost from the addition of former Putnam head coach Bill Watson.

Hall's Preseason Top 10:

[+] EnlargeJoe Gaziano
Brendan Hall/ESPNESPN Boston's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Northwestern commit Joe Gaziano, leads a stacked Xaverian defense.
1. Xaverian
Little drama here as to who’s the top dog. With a star-studded defense that includes the likes of Northwestern commit Joe Gaziano, ESPN Boston’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2013; linebackers Noah Sorrento, Kenny Kern and D’Aundre Holmes; and defensive backs Damion Wood and Mekhi Henderson; as well as a potent running game behind UMass-bound tackle Joe Parsons, and an innovative playmaker in quarterback Jake Farrell; the Hawks figure to start the year No. 1 in many polls.

2. Everett
Crimson Tide are licking their chops after a disappointing end to 2013 season, and as usual they reload with some of the most gifted skill players in the area. The interesting question is how they’ll fit Boston College-bound cornerback Lukas Denis into the offense; originally slotted as the successor to Jonathan DiBiaso at quarterback before injuries derailed his sophomore season in 2012, Denis showed flashes of brilliance in a multitude of positions last year.

3. Central Catholic
The Raiders’ featured one of the state’s best defenses a year ago in their D1 state title run, and they’ll be held in high regard again thanks to linebacker Markus Edmunds and safety Mike Balsamo, who is fielding multiple Division 1 FCS offers at the moment. Also keep an eye on Matt Milano, who was statistically one of the state’s most productive quarterbacks in the playoffs last year.

4. Mansfield
The Hornets dramatically altered their offense on the fly late in the season following a season-ending injury to wideout Brendan Hill, and it worked out as they took the D2 state title. A fully healthy Hill and another year of running back Miguel Villar-Perez, one of last fall’s most pleasant revelations, should make the Hornets the favorite in a tough D2 South.

5. Bridgewater-Raynham
Trojans always get the benefit of the doubt for their powerful running game and their “anyone, anywhere, anytime” approach to scheduling, and they’ll be a force again with Brandon Gallagher returning at tailback. But the question is whether the Trojans can sustain momentum and avoid last year’s fate, when they reached No. 1 in our statewide poll early, only to sputter in the second half.

6. Shepherd Hill
In short, Boston College-bound offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom Jr. is a force. But the fact that he is the Rams’ most dominant, yet possibly their lightest, should tell you something about what to expect in 2014. They’re arguably Central Mass.’s most talented team this fall, and while there’s a couple other heavy hitters contending in D4 – Holliston, Dennis-Yarmouth and Wahconah, for starters – these guys are my odds-on favorite. Look for them to put up a ton of rushing yards in head coach Chris Lindstrom Sr.’s double wing scheme.

7. Lowell
The Red Raiders made one of the biggest statements of the playoffs last fall in blanking St. John’s Prep 41-0 in the first round of the D1 North tournament. Syracuse commit Shyheim Cullen was exceptional at interior gap blitzes, baiting and confusing potential blockers to create chaos up the middle, and he’ll lead a talented defense that includes linebacker Nicolau Coury and defensive back Theo Bryant.

8. St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Boston College-bound free safety Davon Jones is one of several early candidates for Defensive Player of the Year after recording 125 tackles and eight picks a year ago. Offensive coordinator Chris Moriarty is as creative as they come, and how he utilizes Jones and athlete Shane Combs in the offense will be one of the more interesting storylines of the season’s earlygoings.

9. Brockton
We’re still in wait-and-see mode after another season of unrealized expectations in Brockton, but it’s hard to deny the talent the Boxers have coming back. Keep an eye on Boston College-bound lineman Aaron Monteiro, who has some raw potential and a powerful frame at 6-foot-6 and nearly 300 pounds.

10. Dennis-Yarmouth
Division 1 recruit Michael Dunn lined up at nearly every offensive position last year for the Dolphins in their run to the D4 state final, and he may very well do it again. Defensively, this kid is a treat, regarded as one of the state’s premier shutdown corners. As usual, Paul Funk’s frenetic read option scheme will be a tall task to keep up with.

Others to Watch: Attleboro, Barnstable, BC High, Doherty, Holliston, Marblehead, Oliver Ames, Plymouth North, Pope John Paul II, St. John’s Prep, St. Peter-Marian, Tewksbury, Wahconah, Walpole

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

1. Spread offense has been the growing trend in Massachusetts over the last decade, and we’re now seeing its influence at all levels of the game. But at the other end of the spectrum, we’re seeing more and more teams dip into playbooks from decades and decades ago for some wild success in the running game. We’ve romanticized Nauset’s Single Wing offense for years. At Holy Name, Mike Pucko dug into Dutch Meyer’s World War II-era playbook and installed a fullback-less “Triple Wing” offense for the Naps’ Thanksgiving contest with Milford, a game they won 35-14. Last year’s D5 West Final featured a Pistol Flex Bone (Hoosac Valley) versus a Wishbone (Easthampton). Tewksbury, last year’s D3 state champ, calls running plays out of an encyclopedia of formations from every family of offense. Factor in all of the traditional Double Wing success stories like Shepherd Hill, Holy Name and Somerset-Berkley, too. Running offense continues to diversify in this corner of the country, and if you’re an X’s and O’s junkie like me, you are having a blast watching it.

2. LSU took some negative backlash last fall when they received a verbal commitment from a freshman early in his season after an apparently intense summer of recruitment from a number of SEC schools, but this doesn’t appear to be a trend going away any time soon. Early offers are still fairly uncommon for football prospects in this part of the country, though it’s worth noting St. Sebastian’s incoming sophomore Blake Gallagher received an offer from Nebraska last month. Beyond the concerns about pressure and bloated expectations, the biggest question I have is this: What if the recruit stops growing, or has just peaked earlier than his peers? I’m interested to see if Maryland head coach Randy Edsall’s proposals for recruiting reform gain any traction. Among other things, his plan stipulates schools can’t make a written offer until a player’s senior year, and that the offer must come with permission from the school’s admissions department.

3. I’m on record as saying I hope the true state championship format the MIAA rolled out last year is here to stay, but I’m also in favor of giving it some tweaks. First and foremost, get rid of the second automatic qualifier for leagues. Weak leagues were rewarded at the expense of teams like Medway and Pope John Paul II, teams who finished with winning records in qualification period but were pushed all the way out of the eight-team field in their respective divisions to satisfy undeserved automatic berths. Leagues should be restricted to one automatic qualifier, or two if it is a two-tier league. I also question whether a seven-game regular season is enough of a window to properly gauge a team’s strength. Expanding to an eight-game season and starting it on Labor Day Weekend could satisfy that, and could be a good gate opportunity for many schools as well.

***

Scott Barboza
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


FIVE PLAYERS ON THE RISE

Michael Balsalmo, Sr. RB/FS, Central Catholic
A standout on the Raiders’ Division 1 championship season a year ago, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder holds a couple of offers (Bryant, Wofford) entering the season. Here’s better there will be more to follow.

Christian Carr, Sr. RB, Plymouth North
For what Carr might lack in stature, he makes up for in elusiveness. A consistent 100-yard-per-game rusher in his junior season, he broke out with a 351-yard performance in the Eagles’ playoff win against Dighton-Rehoboth.

Jake Gibb, Jr. QB, Stoughton
In his first season under center, Gibb led the Knights to the Division 3 South final before falling to Plymouth South. Gibb will have them contending for the Davenport division title again.

Kyle Murphy, Jr. OL/DL, Attleboro
The two-way lineman was a driving force behind the Blue Bombardiers’ breakout season last year. It’s only a matter of time before the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder starts getting colleges’ attention.

James Sullivan, Sr. RB/S, Tewksbury
Sullivan announced himself to a statewide audience on the biggest stage last year, racking up 125 yards and three touchdowns in the Redmen’s win over Plymouth South in the Division 3 state title game. With graduations, Sullivan will take on an even bigger role this year.

FIVE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Braintree
The Bay State Carey should again be one of the more interesting races to watch across the state this year, and the Wamps might be primed to take a big step forward after last year’s 4-7 mark. One to watch is inside linebacker Derek Anson, who’s only added to his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame.

Doherty
The Highlanders were historically good in 2013, capturing their first state title while beating Dennis-Yarmouth for the Division 4 championship. Although several key contributors have graduated, they can still make a run

Natick
It might not be the aerial display we’ve seen in recent years with Troy Flutie at quarterback, but the Redhawks will be one worth watching as Brian Dunlap returns from a season missed due to injury (Lisfranc fracture) last year.

Quincy
After a 7-4 campaign last season, are the Presidents ready to challenge for the Patriot Keenan title? With promising running back Jhave Handsom-Fields (8 TD as a sophomore) and quarterback James Lam returning, the time could be now.

Somerset-Berkley
The Raiders return a big class of juniors, including feature back Chip Wood back in the fold and Jacob Cabana rushing off the edge. Another EAC title could be in the cards.

Barboza's Preseason Top 10:

1. Xaverian
The Hawks will have some questions to answer on offense, but deserve the top spot on defense alone, with Defensive Player of the Year Joe Gaziano returning along with the state’s best secondary group.

2. Central Catholic
The Raiders peaked at precisely the right time last year, capturing the first true statewide Division 1 title. Some of their biggest playmakers have graduated, but Michael Balsamo’s primed for a breakout year.

3. Everett
The Crimson Tide are undoubtedly still smarting over last year’s home playoff loss to Central Catholic. We all know what that means.

4. Bridgewater-Raynham
Here’s betting tight end/defensive end Connor Reagan is one of next year’s breakout performers.

5. St. John’s (S)
You never know what you’re getting from the Pioneers’ offense game to game, and it’ll be intriguing to see how the group develops this season. But you have to like any group with athletes of ilk of Shane Combs and Davon Jones.

6. Lowell
I’ll take my chances with the linebacking corps the Red Raiders have returning, anchored by Shyheim Cullen and Nicolau Coury.

7. Brockton
The Boxers will not be pushed around inside the tackle box, with perhaps the biggest returning offensive line in the state, including Aaron Monteiro (6-6, 300) and Uzziah Hilliard (6-0, 280)

8. Mansfield
Mike Redding will come up with creative schemes to avoid Brendan Hill being double-teamed on both sides of the ball. Connor Finerty will also look to expand on a promising sophomore season.

9. Dennis-Yarmouth
The Dolphins fell just shy of the Div. 4 state title in a riveting matchup with Doherty. They might not be denied this year.

10. Tewksbury
The Redmen might not match the size and physicality of last year’s state championship squad, but having James Sullivan in the backfield is still enough to win.

Others to watch: Arlington, Attleboro, Billerica, BC High, Holliston, Leominster, Oliver Ames, Shepherd Hill, Stoughton, Wahconah, Walpole.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

1. The football playoff system is here to stay – well, at the very least for two more years. While there are still pockets of dissent, the sentiment across the state is that the first year determining true state champions across six divisions was a success. It even drew over some who’d been opposed to the playoff proposal originally and voted against the measure. The build up and drama of the first seven weeks leading up the start of the tournament brought a different dimension of intrigue to the season. Still, detractors remain and, as Brendan ruminated earlier in this feature, there’s still room for improvement regarding the means of automatic qualifiers and the discrepancies that exist between the respective athletic conferences’ rubrics – including, most importantly, the weight of league games. But with one year in the books, I declare the system to be a success. Now, let’s start tweaking the framework.

2. Which brings me to my next point: get rid of Thanksgiving. This is going to be a highly unpopular opinion in some neck of the woods, but it’s simply a reality of what’s put in front of us. At the end of last season, I talked to many athletic directors who complained about a diminished gate return from their Thanksgiving Day games. That’s a natural feedback of the playoff system – which in some place requires teams to “double up” with their Thankgiving rivals. In change, that has deemphasized the pomp and circumstance surrounding Turkey Day. As a result, that left some Thanksgiving Day matchups to resemble more of an exhibition game in tone – althought don’t tell that to St. John’s Prep and Xaverian, or Foxborough and Mansfield. The result is a hodgepodge of situations that follow teams into what used to be the biggest day of the regular-season football calendar: ie a non-playoff team vs. a team that’s bound for a championship game, or two teams who are playing out the string on a season that’s already ended. I counter those scenario’s are really no different than what existed in the year B.P. (Before Playoffs), but the current arrangement has only emphasized was already apparent – Thanksgiving is an exhibition. Minus the Catholic Conference or Merrimack Valley Conference duels which resulted in playoff berths in previous years, Thanksgiving largely was such. Only now have the detractors used the playoff system to highlight the faults in Thanksgiving Day that already existed. What Thanksgiving Day has always been about is the rivalry. I ventured to North Attleborough last year when the Red Rocketeers (already eliminated from the playoffs) hosted Attleboro (who were just eliminated the previous week in the sectional final). The scene was what you’d become accustomed to – with an overflow crowd at Community Field. They were all there to watch an exhibition game. Why not make that game mean something more again? Why not play the game before the first frost?

Central Catholic LBs pull their weight

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
9:30
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Even without Shayne Kaminski, Xaverian's rushing attack was still strong enough to pose massive problems for Central Catholic in last night's Division 1 title game.

Insert Central linebackers Nick Boes and Markus Edmunds: Xaverian's problem.

Edmunds and Boes combined for 10 1/2 tackles and played a major role in shutting down Noah Sorrento and holding the Hawks to 122 total rushing yards.

“We practiced they're plays all week so we knew what they were going to run,” Boes said. “We knew they were a good team but we knew we'd have to keep battling. The defensive tackles set the edge along with our outside linebackers. They kept them inside and we made plays.”

After Sorrento scored in the second quarter to cut the Central lead to 13-7, the tandem buckled down. Sorrento was held to only 48 yards on the night. Boes and Edmunds also both got through to hassle Xaverian quarterback Jake Farrell.

“Our unsung guy is Nick Boes,” Central coach Chuck Adamopoulos said. “He's inside their with Markus and he's been consistent all season for us. They played well today.”

Central won the battle of wills by game's end, but Xaverian pressed the physicality throughout. It took a few key stops in the fourth quarter by Central to close out the game.

“The lineman hit very hard; the running backs hit very hard, obviously,” Edmunds said. “They're an excellent all-around football team.”

The on-field chemistry is a byproduct of the close relationship Boes and Edmunds have off the field. Boes and Edmunds have played together dating back to their time on the J.V. squad in 2011.

“Nick and I are best friends,” Edmunds said. “We know each other very well.”

Edmunds pitched in on the offensive side of the ball as well. The junior rushed the ball five times for 64 yards, including runs of 22 and 26 yards that led to the touchdown that clinched Central's win.

“I love being able to contribute to the team any way I can,” Edmunds said. “The blocking on the perimeter was great.”

As far as winning Central's first state title in 15 years, Edmunds and Boes said that this was dream and capturing it was sweet.

“Before the season this was the ultimate, but we knew it would be tough,” Edmunds said. “We knew we'd have to buckle down to win the game. The feeling's indescribable.”

“This is one of the greatest feelings I've ever experienced in my life,” Boes said.

D1 North: Central Catholic 35, A-B 0

November, 9, 2013
11/09/13
12:34
AM ET
LAWRENCE, Mass. -– In last night's Division 1 North semifinal between Central Catholic and Acton-Boxborough both teams turned the ball over four times. Central was the only one who capitalized.

The Raiders turned a pair of A-B turnovers into 14 points and stomped the Colonials 35-0 to earn a berth in next weekend's D1 North final against Everett.

The Raiders fumbled the ball five times and lost four, the defense stepped up and held A-B each time. The Colonials were unable to break into Central's red zone until the last possession of the game and that ended with a Hunter Arnold pass getting intercepted in the end zone by Nick Boes. It was Boes' second interception of the game and fourth of the playoffs.

Boes and Markus Edmunds led the Central attack from the middle and turned Acton's rock-hard offense into a gravel pit. The Raiders held the Colonials to 143 yards.

“Normally five fumbles spells doom,” Central coach Chuck Adamopoulos said. “Each time we turned the ball over the defense picked us up and did the job.

“[Markus is] one of the best linebackers around; he really is. Every week we does what you saw tonight. He's our leader, but Nick Boes has played really well. The guys up front have been doing the job. We rotate guys in at defensive line and our nose guard, George Elias, has really come on. To shut out a team like that the defense played really well.”

Central quarterback Mike Milano had a rough game early, fumbling the ball away twice in just over 11 minutes, but he buckled down and piloted the offense to 341 yards. Milano went 8-for-12 for 161 yards. His 57-yard touchdown pass to Dan Wilson early in the third quarter put the Raiders up 28-0 and salted the game away.

Milano also rushed for 75 yards and Central's third touchdown, just before the half.

“I had a lot of misreads, and fumbles, today, and my teammates picked me right back up,” Milano said. “We just kept our composure, stayed confident and played hard.”

LINE CONTROL
In the trenches you have to get dirty, and Central's line did just that. The Raiders' line was able to open hole and the bevy of tailbacks to get into the secondary untouched.

Their shining moment came when they opened up a nearly five-yard hole for D'Andre Drummond-Mayrie, who ran 50 yards, untouched, for his second touchdown.

“If look at those touchdowns [there were] huge gaping holes,” Drummond-Mayrie said. “They had a huge game.”

Keyed by senior Joe Brown, the line on both sides staked their claim to the real estate early and never sold.

“Our offensive line, the last few weeks, has really played well,” Adamopoulos said. “I think they're starting to come into their own.”

DYNAMIC DEMERS
The MIAA this season has been lucky enough to have seen it's share of spectacular kick returns, and Cody Demers added one of his own in the second quarter.

Demers fielded the ball at his own 40-yard line, run over the near hash, stuttered and cut in the middle of a pack of defenders, and ran all the way home. The score broke a scoreless deadlock early in the second quarter.

“I caught the ball and went up to the middle of the field, and I had so many good blocks I kind of froze up,” Demers said. “I wanted to make a move somewhere and I just saw daylight and went for it. Incredibly momentum booster for our team.”

Demers also intercepted a pass in the second quarter, and reeled in three balls for 44 yards receiving.

BRING ON THE CHAMP
Everett. In the world of MIAA football everyone knows it as a synonym for dominance and success. The Crimson Tide are up next for Central Catholic, and the Raiders said they are ready to embrace the challenge.

Adamopoulos said that playing such a formidable schedule thus far, even going back to include scrimmages against Reading, Xaverian, and Mansfield, will help his team next weekend.

“We've got a huge test next week,” Adamopoulos said. “They're a great program, and it's going to be exciting to play them.”

“They've had a history of being great,” Demers said. “If you want to be the king you've got to be the king."

Recap: No. 14 Central Catholic 26, Andover 7

September, 28, 2013
9/28/13
12:34
AM ET
ANDOVER, Mass. – “Nice bounce back win,” Central Catholic head coach Chuck Adamopoulos told his team after the game.

After dropping a 40-21 contest to St. John’s Prep last week, No. 14 Central Catholic (3-1) rebounded on Friday night with a 26-7 win over Merrimack Valley Conference rival and traditional Thanksgiving Day foe Andover (1-2).

“Last week we ran into a great running back,” Adamopoulos said after the game. “He did not make us look good but we have played pretty good defense all season.”

St. John’s Prep running back Johnny Thomas ran for 228 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over Central. Adamopoulos praised his defense’s effort in focusing all week in practice and holding Andover’s offense in check on Friday.

“We pride ourselves in our defense,” Adamopoulos said. “We have played three very good teams so far this season.”

Central held Andover to just 56 yards of total offense in the first half and shut the Golden Warriors out until the 1:45 mark of the fourth quarter.

Central was led by running back D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie, who gained 57 yards on 13 carries and did the majority of his work in the first half. Drummond-Mayrie also added a rushing touchdown and was a force on defense from his safety position. The Univ. of New Hampshire-bound senior had a fumble recovery and interception to go with a strong game playing against the run.

“He played well,” Adamopulus said. “I liked his run support today. He was coming up well against the run.”

Central also received a strong two-way effort from junior running back Markus Edmunds (8 rushes for 46 yards), who scored the first touchdown of the game on a 4-yard off tackle run, to start the second quarter.

“It was nice to get started early,” Edmunds said. “We worked hard all week and came in ready to play from the start.”

Complementing his work on the ground Edmunds stood tall from his linebacker position, leading a Central unit that did not budge on the line of scrimmage all night.

In a game of field position, Central Catholic took advantage of the short fields to help them mount four successful finishing drives.

“I thought our punt coverage was awesome,” Adamopoulos noted. “We played on their side of the field all game, which is a good thing. Our punter Danny Wilson also came up with big punts for us when we needed them.”

Mike Balsamo also played well for Central as he controlled a big fourth-quarter drive with his work on the ground, capped off with a 21-yard touchdown run.

Senior linebackers Will Eikenberry and John Oteri had strong games leading the Andover defense on the night, while freshman quarterback E.J. Perry hit Christopher Nicholas from three yards out for the only Andover score.

Milano bounces back strong: Junior quarterback Mike Milano dusted off some early-game rust and an early injury as he came back in to settled down and lead the Central offense.

“He is a tough competitor,” Adamopoulos said of his veteran signal-caller.

Milano would hit wide receiver Cam Manning for a 42-yard strike in the second quarter that set up a Drummond-Mayrie 5-yard touchdown run that gave Central a 14-0 lead.

Milano also hooked up with senior Cody Demers on a 35-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, as Demers would catch a sideline route and outrun the Andover defense to the end-zone.

Loss of Sylvester: Andover running back and return-man Jack Sylvester led the Golden Warriors offense on the night, despite being ejected in the third quarter after receiving his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game.

The controversial ejection, which occurred after a discussion with the official, took place at a tough time for the Golden Warriors as they were beginning to mount a drive against the stingy Central defense.

Sylvester gained 44 yards from scrimmage for Andover on the night and did a nice job in the return game.

Green, promising talent at No. 16 Central Catholic

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
10:32
PM ET
With less than two weeks before opening kickoff the Central Catholic Raiders who like a car in need of a new motor.

On the outside the Raiders are chock full of talented skill players, led by senior D'Andre Drummond-Mayrie and a slew of juniors, that are multi-faceted weapons. However; check under the hood and there's an offensive line with no returning starters and a defensive front seven decimated by graduation.

The parts to build a hot rod are there, and Central coach Chuck Adamopoulos says that progress is happening.

“Our whole season is going to based about how [the line] develop,” Adamopoulos said. “This is the first time I can remember us not having a returning starter on the offensive line. It's a challenge and they're working hard, but it's a work in progress. Right from day one, little things that I need to go over and over again right now I didn't have to do last year. They're getting after it; they're working hard.”

Seniors Joe Brown and Cam Manning, along with junior Markus Edmunds, will be tasked with a leading a defense that lost the likes of Ryan Doherty, Ryan Barry, and Sean Kirchner to graduation and Northeast-10 schools. A scrimmage schedule that includes meetings with Xaverian, Reading, and Mansfield give the line valuable preseason experience against quality competition.

While the trenches are being rebuilt Adamopoulos will have to rely on his talented secondary to carry the defense early. Drummond-Mayrie -- all 6-foot, 205 pounds of him -- was moved from cornerback to safety to get him closer to the action. Drummond-Mayrie will be paired with junior Mike Balsamo. Balsamo is entering his third year as a starting safety and will provide much-needed veteran experience on the field.

“One of the reasons we're moving him is because he wasn't involved because [opposing teams] were going to the opposite side of the field,” Adamopoulos said. “We can always move him back to corner if we need to. As a safety we think it'll prevent teams from totally staying on the other side of the field away from him.”

Offensively the Raiders will look to junior quarterback Mike Milano to improve on a solid sophomore year that saw him throw for 1,156 yards, 11 touchdowns, and pilot Central to nine wins.

“We were nervous before last season and [Mike] stepped up and keeps getting better and better everyday,” Drummond-Mayrie said. “He's become more of a leader too.”

“Mike is a key guy for us; typically the jump between sophomore and junior year for a quarterback is huge,” Adamopoulos said. “Mike throws the ball well, he runs; he's worked hard in the offseason. We expect big things out of him.”

A lot is expected out of Drummond-Mayrie this season. The Lawrence native has a half dozen offers to play safety at FCS schools and was named to most preseason all-star teams in the state. Drummond-Mayrie said that he's ready for the challenge on both sides of the ball and that his mind is in the present.

“I don't really talk about [college] much,” Drummond-Mayrie said. “I'm still here; I'm still a Central Catholic Raider. There is a little bit of pressure because you need to go out there and perform, but I've always had to perform in the years before. I'm kind of looking at it as another season without any of [the recruiting] happening.”

The X factor this season might be something the Raiders can't control: the schedule. Gone are the days of being being able to tinker during non-league games in September; the Raiders only play one non-league opponent all year and Adamopoulos said that he wished he had that time back.

“There's definitely a different mindset though,” Adamopoulos said. “Last year we knew our league schedule wasn't going to start until October. This year we have a fairly young team and I'd love if our league games didn't start until October because of that. I think it's more of a mindset. We've got to get better quick because of the system.”

CENTRAL CATHOLIC AT A GLANCE
Coach: Chuck Adamopoulos (17th season, 112-61 overall)
2012 season: 9-2
Returning starters: Eight (Three offensive; five defensive)
Key Returnees: D'Andre Drummond-Mayrie, Sr. RB/S; Cam Manning, Jr. OLB; Mike Balsamo, Jr. RB/S; Markus Edmunds, Jr. LB; Cody Demers, Sr. WR; Mike Milano, Jr. QB.
Outlook: As the line grows so goes the Raiders. With a breadth of experience at the offensive skill positions the Raiders will always be a threat on the outside to change the game on one play, but the line will need to grow up fast to give Milano, Drummond-Mayrie, Demers, and co. time. Defensively Manning and Edmunds will have to shoulder the load at linebacker while Brown will be tasked with leading a young line against the weekly assault of MVC offenses. The Raiders open against Lawrence, a team they outscored 98-12 over their last three meetings, and a rebuilding Haverhill team before playing St. John's Prep, Andover, and Lowell. If the line can develop quickly and the skill players play to their ability look for Central to be a thorn in the side of Division 1 North once the calendar flips to November.

Summer Snapshot: Central Catholic Raiders

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
2:29
PM ET
This is the sixth installment in our "Summer Snapshot" series, checking in with some of Massachusetts' top teams leading into the MIAA football season. To see all of our Summer Snapshots, CLICK HERE.

After taking a 31-7 loss to rival St. John's Prep in Week 2 of the 2012 season, Central Catholic railed off eight straight wins, earning a share of the Merrimack Valley Conference's Large division title before falling to Andover on Thanksgiving morning to miss out on an MIAA Division 1 Playoff berth. The Raiders return a handful of key cogs, including the multi-talented D'Andre Drummond-Mayrie, but must replace all five starters from an offensive line that was among the bigger units in Eastern Mass. last fall. With a slew of fresh faces entering the fold, can the Raiders replicate last season's success and make a deep run in the newly-aligned Division 1 North? We checked in with Central last night in preparation for our Sept. 2 photo gallery unveiling.

CENTRAL CATHOLIC AT A GLANCE
Coach: Chuck Adamopoulos (17th season, 112-61 overall)
Last Season: 9-2
Final ESPN Boston Rank: 23
Returning Starters: Eight (three offense, five defense)
Key Losses: OL/DL Ryan Barry, LB Ryan Doherty, OL/DL Sean Kirchner, RB/DB Santino Brancato
Key Returnees: Sr. DT Joe Brown, Sr. WR Cody Demers, Sr. OLB Cam Manning, Sr. RB/DB D'Andre Drummond-Mayrie, Jr. S Michael Balsamo, Jr. ILB Markus Edmunds, Jr. QB Michael Milano.
Overview: The Raiders return one of the state's top talents in Drummond-Mayrie, who currently holds scholarship offers from a half-dozen Division 1 FCS schools and may end up deciding during the season. He'll be the feature back this season, after splitting carries with Brancato last fall but still putting up respectable numbers (87 carries, 621 yards, 10 TD, 7.1 yards per carry). Defensively, he'll be making the switch from cornerback to safety this season, where he'll be paired with the promising Balsamo to create what should be one of the Merrimack Valley's most feared secondaries. On the perimeter, the efforts of the undersized Demers (38 catches) is a bit understated -- good at the underneath routes, but also a deep-ball threat with his straight-line speed. The biggest questions will lay in the trenches, where they must replace all five starters from a unit last season that averaged roughly 250 pounds across. This year's line will be a smaller, more athletic front, which makes one wonder if the Raiders will deviate from last year's spread-based rushing attack and put the ball on the flanks more often. Overall, the Raiders have always been defensively sound, and should be fine once again with Drummond, Balsamo, Edmunds (112 tackles) and Brown (31 tackles, 10 for loss) back in the fold. Look for the Raiders to contend in a loaded Division 1 North.

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