BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Billy Zolga exhaled deep when asked to describe his emotions in the wake of a dominant performance by him and his fellow Bridgewater-Raynham teammates. The senior quarterback rattled off some pedestrian phrases with junior tailback Nick Schlatz -- "pretty excited", "relieved", "can't describe it". And then Schlatz dropped a trigger word: "we wanted to make a statement."
Just what kind of statement?
"I think people should be nervous to play us, that's all I have to say," Zolga quickly shot back with a smile.
Added Schlatz, "Show everybody we're for real."
Hard to argue with that, based on the evening's results. The Trojans have been bouncing with swagger since their double-overtime upset of then-No. 3 Xaverian last month, and it all came to a head in last night's 50-22 dominance of Barnstable that assured them at least a share of the Old Colony League title for the second year in a row. B-R (6-2, 2-0) can claim the league outright with a win over Taunton next week.
Clearly, the Trojans are clicking at just the right time.
"We had a great week of practice," head coach Dan Buron said. "Probably the best overall week of practice we've had all season long. I credit the scout team for giving us a great look...practice was like, on Tuesday it felt like a Thursday."
Part of that scouting this week, Buron said, was having assistant coach Mark Hartsell play the part of Barnstable's vaunted quarterback D.J. Crook. Doesn't hurt that Hartsell quarterbacked some nationally-ranked squad at Brockton High before enduring careers at Boston College and the NFL -- "he's the closest thing to the arm strength of Crook, our sophomores can't throw like that," Buron said.
As for the play on the field, the Trojans pounced on the Red Raiders early, capitalizing on turnovers to build a 23-0 lead through the first quarter and 35-6 halftime lead. Barnstable (5-4, 2-1) opened the game with an onside kick that a Trojan player fell on at the Raiders' 41 yard line. The Trojans marched steadily down the field in seven plays, with inside runs by Schlatz (31 carries, 123 yards, three touchdowns) setting up a 23-yard strike from Zolga (107 passing yards, three touchdowns) to Sean McCall, rolling right and threading him a tight ball in double-coverage. Schlatz punched it in four plays after the strike, from five yards out, and Brad Delullis ran in the point-after try on a muddle play to take an 8-0 lead.
Things went bad for the Raiders when, on their ensuing three-and-out, a bad snap on their fourth down punt attempt forced Crook to fall on the ball at his own seven. Schlatz plunged in on the very next play, and fullback Mike Chicoine took a direct lateral from the snapper on another muddle try, to make it 16-0.
With the Raiders creeping up into the box to combat Buron's many different looks out of the Power-I, Zolga kept the defense honest with the waggle. He was a perfect 7 of 7 for 107 yards to start the game, before having to spike the ball with 13 seconds to go in the first half. That, of course, merely set up another touchdown run, this a sneak, to make it 35-6 headed into the break.
"I thought it was very important (to keep them honest with the pass), because they were creeping up on us," Buron said. "I thought there were two passes in particular -- one to Delullis and one to (Branden) Morin where they had it covered and those kids slid, and Billy was poised and threw a nice ball...I thought Billy showed alot of poise tonight."
Said Zolga, "They were sending everybody. Just completing those passes to keep the drives going, it helped us score some more points. It was big."
The Red Raiders can score quickly, and in bunches, and came out firing in the second half, putting together an 11-play, 67-yard scoring drive punched in with a five-yard Dennis Reddy off-tackle. They failed to seize any momentum from B-R, though, as Zolga put the finishing touches with a 45-yard interception return to seal it in the fourth quarter. Zolga, inserted into the secondary this week to combat Barnstable's deep and speedy stable of wideouts, jumped a route over the middle and leaped forward to make the pick for the 48-14 lead with nine minutes to go in the game.
"We were just dropping back into a deep zone," Zolga said. "I read his eyes, just saw the ball coming at me, just attacked it, just ran. Ran like Hell. I wanted to score."
Chicoine made it 50-14 with the same two-point try that he succeeded with in the first quarter, a direct lateral from the long snapper that he pushed past the goal line with an added spin.
"Every time we run that set, we read what they're doing. It's just an automatic read," Buron said of going for two at that moment. "That gets us up 28 points, and that's a team that can score at will. I mean, they came roaring back against Dennis-Yarmouth (a 41-38 loss in week two). No lead is safe against these guys."
BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM 50, BARNSTABLE 22
Barn 0 6 8 8 --- 22
B-R 23 12 0 15 --- 50
BR - Nick Schlatz 5 run (Brad Delullis kick) 7:20
BR - Schlatz 7 run (Mike Chicoine kick) 5:58
BR - Chicoine 1 run (Chicoine kick) 0:08
BR - Sean O'Donnell 7 pass from Billy Zolga (kick failed) 4:38
Barn - Dennis Reddy 15 pass from D.J. Crook (pass failed) 3:09
BR - Zolga 1 run (kick blocked) 0:08
Barn - Reddy 5 run (Matt Delaney pass from Crook) 7:51
BR - Schlatz 3 run (Chicoine kick) 10:26
BR - Zolga 45 interception return (Chicoine run) 9:36
Barn - Crook 2 run (Jordan Henderson pass from Crook) 8:23