Boston High School: Matt Brenneman

A script revision for Flutie, No. 5 Natick

September, 1, 2013
9/01/13
5:00
PM ET
Stop if you’ve read this script before.

A man named Flutie, under center, tries to will his team to victory during the final minute in an improbable circumstance. It was all there in Natick’s Division 2A Super Bowl versus Beverly at Gillette Stadium last year – that is, except for the fairytale ending.

After the Redhawks lost a classic, 28-21, with Beverly capping its first-ever perfect season after two Natick Hail Mary prayers went unanswered, Troy Flutie couldn’t bring himself to think about football for about a week. Then, he picked up the game film. By his count, he watched it five times from beginning to end, picking over the finer points, noting improvements to make for his senior year.

“It’s tough to look back at this play here, or that play there that might have turned the game out differently, but it is what it is,” the Boston College commit said. “You can only get better from it, that’s all you can do.”

Flutie realizes the path to get back to Gillette has become more difficult. Now in a loaded Division 2 South field in the MIAA’s new playoff scheme, the No. 5 Redhawks will have to muster another season full of magic to reach a championship game.

Again, Natick will rely upon its spread offense, operated by Flutie, to get them there. Aside from the ESPN Boston All-State quarterback, who threw for 3,135 yards and 35 touchdowns against eight interceptions last season, the Redhawks have another All-Stater in junior wide receiver Brian Dunlap. While Dunlap’s been held out of Natick’s most recent preseason scrimmages with a lower leg injury, there’s plenty of depth behind him. Flutie reports that senior Alex Hilger, who was held out of most of 2012 due to injury, has looked great early. He also expects big things from returnees Andrew Boynton and Justin Robinson.

And then, of course, there’s the X-factor to the Natick offense: Flutie’s feet. Adept at making throws on the run, Troy, like his uncle before him, almost seems more at ease when play breaks down around him.

“Coach Mort [Mark Mortarelli] knows how I play the game and he’s 100 percent behind me,” Flutie said of his penchant for scrambling out of the pocket. “That means a lot to me. Usually, it’s our offensive coordinator, Matt Brenneman, or my dad [Darren], who’s yelling at me to stay in the pocket.”

Flutie sees room for improvement in that aspect. It’s among the takeaways he gleaned from watching last year’s Super Bowl defeat.

While he’s most likely to follow his father’s path as a wide receiver at BC, his focus is making himself the best quarterback he can be. He wants to become a more patient passer, one who feels the rush and stands his ground.

“I have to work on that myself to become a better quarterback,” he added.

But no matter which Flutie it concerns, Plan B is never a bad option.

NATICK AT A GLANCE
Coach: Mark Mortarelli (Fourth season, 25-10)
2012: 11-2, lost in Eastern Mass. Division 2A Super Bowl
Returning starters: 10 (six offensive, four defensive)
Key Returnees: Troy Flutie, Sr. QB; Brian Dunlap, Jr. WR; Alex Hilger, Sr. WR; Mike Abbruzzese, Sr. FS/WR; Justin Robinson, Sr. WR; Gus Black, Sr. RB/OLB; T.J. Collins Jr. LB.
Strengths: Returning skill players.
Weaknesses: Experience on offensive/defensive line and running back.

Outlook: While the Redhawks’ offense shouldn’t tail off much from 2012, the key position battle worth looking at is running back, where all-leaguer Nick Lee graduated. “I don’t think we could ever find another Nick Lee,” Flutie said. “He was like another quarterback back there for me. He’d help me a lot back there, checking out of plays. Now, I’m back there by myself.” A Kevin Faulk-kind of presence for Natick’s offense, Flutie lauded Lee’s blitz pick-up ability in the backfield as a key to his success. Look for sophomore Chad Kidd to pick up carries at running back in addition to senior two-way player Gus Black.

Natick’s secondary is deep and talented, with Mike Abbruzzese ready to break out after a solid junior year. Also, the linebacking corps might be a little light in game experience, but possesses play-making potential with a cast of Black, T.J. Collins, Justin Montgomery and Trenton Wright.

Recap: Natick 49, No. 16 Needham 24

October, 29, 2011
10/29/11
12:58
AM ET


NEEDHAM, Mass. -– Just one week after the No. 16 Needham Rockets scored one of their gutsiest wins of this season, they came back to Earth thanks to an electric Natick offensive display, the Red and Blue winning 49-24 to hand the Rockets their first loss of 2011.

“This is huge. That’s a great team,” said Natick head coach Mark Mortarelli. “Unfortunately, they’re under-manned, a couple of guys got hurt during this game, [and] of course the quarterback’s out, but anytime you beat Needham, they’re very well-coached and they’re very balanced. It’s just huge for us.”

Natick sophomore quarterback Troy Flutie, (11 of 14, 181 yards, 2 TD), set the tone early, as he connected with sophomore wide receiver Alex Hilger for the game's initial score, before Needham responded with a field goal by senior place kicker Andrew Murowchick.

The Rockets then surprised the Red and Blue on the ensuing kick-off with an onside kick, which set up sophomore quarterback Ryan Charter's nine-yard scoring strike to senior tailback Mike Vespa. Flutie and freshman Brian Dunlap, (12 carries, 69 yards 3 TD), responded with a score each, which gave Natick a 21-17 lead at the break.

In the second half, Vespa (11 carries, 78 yards) capped off a seven play series with a five-yard plunge. But it was all Natick the rest of the way, scoring 27 unanswered points. Flutie threw and ran for a score, while Dunlap and junior Nick Lee each sprinted by Needham’s defense for points.

“[This win] is great," Flutie said. "It gives us so much confidence heading into Wellesley, Walpole and Framingham. I feel great about those games, [and] I really feel like we can win those and go farther."

Line Opened the Run: After the Red and Blue celebrated their seventh win of the season, Flutie and Dunlap thanked their offensive line after the game, who provided the necessary holes to help the team combine for 255 yards on the ground.

“The running game was awesome," Flutie said. "Our o-line blocked awesome, our coaching as awesome. Coach [Brian] Maloney, Coach [Matt] Brenneman, all our o-line men did their jobs, and we had holes, it was great.”

Said Dunlap, “I know the offensive line was awesome. I’m so happy for those guys, they worked their butts off, and they practiced hard all week, and it’s tough being an o-line men, but they’re proud of what they do. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Even Mortarelli was quite pleased, saying, “They were just clicking. That was the best I’ve seen them play, and I was really proud of our offensive coaches.”

Needham’s Injuries: The Rockets offense, defense and special teams was nipped by the injury bug all evening, as senior running backs Ian Riley and Mike Vespa both left the game and did not return.

Riley, (three carries, 28 yards), who exited after the first quarter returned to the sidelines for the remainder of the contest with no pads or helmet, but instead, crutches. After the game concluded, he quickly muttered that he sprained his MCL and could most likely miss the rest of the season.

As for Vespa, he may have sustained a concussion on the team’s only touchdown of the second half, according to head coach Dave Duffy.

“We think he could be back in a couple of weeks, so we don’t know," Duffy said. "Riley hopefully [will] be back in a couple weeks too.”

Burnett returned to the gridiron: Two weeks after his quarterbacking career at Needham ended with a broken ankle against Milton, senior co-captain Drew Burnett returned to Memorial Field on Friday evening, and met Natick’s captains at midfield for the opening coin toss. Afterward, Burnett was forced to watch his team struggled against a Red and Blue offense that refused to be stopped.

“It’s tough to watch, especially with a game like this [one],” said Burnett after his team’s second loss of the season.

NATICK 49, NEEDHAM 24
NAT (7-1) 7 14 7 22 --- 49
NEE (7-1) 10 7 7 0 --- 24

First Quarter
Nat – Alex Hilger 32 pass from Troy Flutie (Sam Lenson kick)
Need – Andrew Murowchick, 35 field goal
Need – Mike Vespa 9 pass from Ryan Charter (Murowchick kick)

Second Quarter
Nat – Brian Dunlap 20 run (Lenson kick)
Need – Nico Panepinto 27 pass from Charter (Murowchick kick)
Nat – Flutie 14 run (Lenson kick)

Third Quarter
Need – Vespa 5 run (Murowhick kick)
Nat – Nick Lee 2 run (Lenson kick)

Fourth Quarter
Nat – Flutie 6 run (Dunlap run)
Nat – Dunlap 36 run (Lenson kick)
Nat – Dunlap 7 run (kick blocked)

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