Boston High School: Matt Kilmain

ESPN Boston Week 1 football picks

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
7:28
PM ET
ESPN Boston High Schools editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall give their Week 1 MIAA football picks:

No. 19 BC HIGH at NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Friday, 7 p.m.

Scott Barboza: I really like this Eagles linebacking corps, led by Steve DiCienzo. BC High, 27-17.

Brendan Hall: What better way to kick off BC High’s redemption tour than with a team that ran circles around them last year. Methinks Eagles coach Joe Gaff has a few tricks up his sleeve for this one. BC High, 21-7.

No. 4 MANSFIELD at DUNBAR (Md.), Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: I think the Hornets keep it close for a half, then the Poets’ depth bears its head. Dunbar, 35-27.

Hall: There isn’t a quarterback in New England as gifted as Dunbar’s William Crest, a West Virginia commit and one of the Old Line State’s top prospects. Hornets are already snakebitten, but injuries aside this is not a matchup you want to make a track meet out of. And unfortunately for the Hornets, I feel their game plan plays right into the Poets’ hands. Dunbar, 35-14.

No. 12 BARNSTABLE at DENNIS-YARMOUTH, Friday, 6 p.m.

Barboza: I still maintain the Dolphins will be a playoff team in Div. 4 South, but damn this Red Raiders’ secondary is going to be tough for anybody to beat this year. Barnstable, 33-27.

Hall: The three games prior to last year’s blowout were decided by a total of five points. I think we’re in for another thriller here, but the Barnstable secondary does just enough in the end to preserve the win. Barnstable, 25-21.

ANDOVER at NORTH ANDOVER, Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: Sounds as though the Golden Warriors were another squad hit hard by the injury bug in the preseason. I’m going with the “upset” here. North Andover, 17-10.

Hall: I predict a big night on the ground for whoever gets the start at tailback, and an even bigger night on defense for Will Eikenberry. Andover, 24-10.

No. 14 WALPOLE at FOXBOROUGH, Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: Man, this one shapes up as an appointment viewing date for years to come. It’s a shame we never got a chance to see these games earlier. Walpole, 20-13.

Hall: Clean, old-fashioned border rivalry. This one has lots of potential. Lots. Walpole, 10-7.

ABINGTON at No. 13 DUXBURY, Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: Having picked against the Dragons in last year’s playoffs, I fear I’m going to have to lay low in Duxbury for a while. Abington, 12-7.

Hall: Losing Matt Kilmain hurts Abington in this one, but their defense is going to keep them in the game. But it’s just a simple matter of being overpowered at the line of scrimmage. Duxbury, 20-10

No. 9 LOWELL at WESTFORD ACADEMY, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Watch for wide receiver/ defensive back Keagan Latta to have a breakout year this year. Lowell, 28-20.

Hall: Expect gaudy numbers for Brian Dolan in his first start under center for the Red Raiders. Lowell, 38-31.

TEWKSBURY at CHELMSFORD, Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: Watch out for the Redmen as a sleep for the Division 3 state title. Mark it down. Tewksbury, 17-10.

Hall: It’s not every year the Redmen are favored in this matchup. But that’s the kind of power Brian Aylward has built at Tewksbury. Expect a big game from Eddie Matovu. Tewksbury, 28-17.

HAVERHILL at BEVERLY, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Barboza: Panthers’ cupboard isn’t completely bare after their historic 2012 season, but the winning streak ends against the Hillies. Haverhill, 21-13.

Hall: All preseason, all we kept hearing with regards to Haverhill is “How do you replace Chance Brady”? Two words: Ian Kessel. The young sophomore is going to one to watch in the coming years. Haverhill, 21-13.

No. 10 BRIDGEWATER–RAYNHAM at No. 1 ST. JOHN’S PREP, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Barboza: I think there are some defensive questions the Eagles will have to answer against a top-flight ground game such as B-R’s on Saturday, but I give the edge to the Prep’s passing game. Prep, 14-7.

Hall: Trojans play ball control and put together a monster drive early to stay ahead in what should be some trench warfare. You can’t cage Johnathan Thomas, the state’s most explosive player, but somehow they’ll limit his trips to the end zone. B-R, 14-7.

No. 6 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL at No. 2 EVERETT, Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: The Golden Eagles will show they belong at the state’s big boys table, but I’m giving the edge to the home side – with the advantage of not having to shack off Friday night bus legs.Everett, 24-21.

Hall: The Golden Eagles are going to have to control the line of scrimmage in this one if they are going to keep pace. But something tells me Cody Williams has some more magic up his sleeve after last season’s historic run. Springfield Central, 24-23.

 

Roundtable: Best players, breakout stars, sleepers

August, 21, 2013
8/21/13
6:03
PM ET
Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools editor


Best QB: Cody Williams, Springfield Central
Best RB: Johnathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR: Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE: Brendan Hill, Mansfield
Best OL: Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best DL: Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best LB: C.J. Parvelus, Everett
Best DB: Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense: Natick
Best rushing offense: St. John's Prep
Best offensive line: St. John's Prep
Best defensive line: Reading
Best linebackers: Reading
Best secondary: Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Medway
Coach Dave McSweeney's affinity for power football isn't a secret, and this season he'll have two road-graders to run behind in Kevin Sheehan (6-4, 285) and Cam Smith (6-5, 290, Lafayette commit). If there's any exhibit for why we needed to change the postseason format, the most glaring sample might be the Mustangs, who went 19-3 from 2009-10 with no playoff berth. In this new playoff system, a gameplan like the Mustangs' is built for the long haul.

Lynn English
Perhaps this isn't a surprise pick so much as an affirmation. In a Division 2 North that is perceived to be wide open after heavy favorite Reading, the Bulldogs have enough talent to make a deep run. There has always been elite talent at the skill positions, but Preseason All-State selection Chris Tinkham gives them a presence in the trenches they've lacked the last few years, a rare "war daddy" type who overpowers the interior gaps. The biggest question will be where the Bulldogs put junior Jordan Javier, a 6-foot-4 transfer from Haverhill who is a matchup problem at his natural split end position but also throws one of the prettiest balls you'll see on the North Shore.

Quabbin
The Panthers struggled to a 4-7 tune last season in a weak league, but there is some promise. Quarterback Dylan Kierman is an underappreciated talent, who should get a boost from the return of slippery receiver Nick Thyden. The Panthers run a unique "Air Raid" scheme, and another year of experience with it could surprised teams in Division 4 Central.

THREE BREAKOUT ATHLETES TO WATCH

Lukas Denis, Jr. ATH, Everett
After an injury-shortened 2012 season in which he was the assumed successor to record-setting quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso, but barely saw the field, Denis is moving to the perimeter, where he will take a role similar to the hybrid slot-back role that Manny Asprilla made legendary in 2010. Defensively, he should serve as a terrific compliment in the secondary to highly-touted safety/cornerback Lubern Figaro, and has already begun to pick up some Division 1 FBS interest.

Alfred Adarkwah, Sr. WR, Doherty
Standing a long 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan, Adarkwah has an unusually large catching radius for a high school receiver. This summer in passing leagues, the Highlanders toyed with Adarkwah and Boston College-bound receiver Isaac Yiadom on the same side of 2x2 formations. Head coach Sean Mulcahy has to be excited with the possibilities that opens up -- just imagine sending those two on a post-wheel combo route. Or better yet, imagine running them on a bubble screen, taking advantage of both Yiadom's elite speed and Adarkwah's great downfield blocking skills.

Taj-Amir Torres, Jr. ATH, Amherst
Already a household name in track and field, where he was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year last spring as a sophomore after winning New Englands in the 100-meter dash, he's about to get a whole lot more attention. Boston College, UConn and UMass have already offered Torres, who made just 24 catches last season but made some incredible feats of athleticism. Hurricanes head coach David Thompson told us earlier this month "[We're] trying to get the ball in his hands every opportunity we get", so expect bigger numbers in 2013.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS

Div. 1 - Everett
Div. 2 - Springfield Central
Div. 3 - Walpole
Div. 4 - Doherty
Div. 5 - Auburn
Div. 6 - Millis/Hopedale

***

Scott Barboza
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor

Best QB - Drew Belcher - Sr. Reading
Best RB - Johnny Thomas - Sr. St. John’s Prep
Best WR - Brian Dunlap - Jr. Natick
Best TE - Rory Donovan - Sr. Cardinal Spellman
Best OL - Jon Baker – Sr., Millis/Hopedale
Best DL – Joe Gaziano – Jr., Xaverian
Best LB – Eddie Motavu – Sr., Tewksbury
Best DB - Lubern Figaro - Sr. Everett
Best passing offense - Natick
Best rushing offense - St. John's Prep
Best offensive line – Bridgewater-Raynham
Best defensive line - Reading
Best linebackers - Leominster
Best secondary - Everett

THREE SURPRISE TEAMS

St. Mary’s (Lynn)
OK, so a team coming off an 11-2 season and a Super Bowl appearance might not exactly be a surprise, but with a couple of other Catholic Central teams garnering the buzz in the preseason, let's not forget the Spartans have another season with Jordan Collier (1,495 yards, 18 TD).

Hingham

We've heard them knocking, but can they come in? The Harbormen have whittled the gap in recent years, particularly against Patriot League nemesis Duxbury, but they're still waiting to break through. They could have an in-road in Division 3 Southwest. An early non-leaguer against Oliver Ames should be a bellweather for things to come, but the real proof will come Oct. 5, against those aforementioned Dragons.

Wakefield
The Warriors fell short of their goal of winning the Middlesex League's Freedom division last year, but should be in the mix in a wide open Division 3 Northwest race. We'll have a better impression after a visit from Lynn English in Week 2.

THREE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES

Joe Johnston, Sr. RB/S, King Philip
Anybody who saw Johnston's hard-nosed 157-yard, 2-touchdown performance against North Attleborough last year knows Johnston's style. He's a burden for would-be tacklers inside the box, and once he kicks it outside, he's also very hard to catch.

Grant Kramer, Sr. OT, Duxbury
The younger brother of Boston College tackle Aaron Kramer, Grant is now ready to assume the role as the next great lineman on the Dragons' line (and there have been some very good ones in recent memory). He currently holds offers from Coastal Carolina and Villanova but has also expressed interest in attending West Point.

Connor Moriarty, Sr. RB, Walpole
When Rebels starter Mike Rando went out with an ankle injury near the midway point of the regular season last year, it was Moriarty who carried the load down the stretch. Expect even bigger numbers this year.

WAY TOO EARLY CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS:

D1 – St. John’s Prep
D2 – Springfield Central
D3 – Walpole
D4 – Doherty
D5 – Auburn
D6 – Millis/Hopedale

***

Josh Perry
ESPN Boston correspondent


Best QB - Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB - Jonathan Thomas, St. John’s Prep
Best WR – Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE – Brendan Hill, Mansfield
Best OL – Jon Baker, Millis-Hopedale
Best DL – Andrew Bourque, Reading
Best LB – Kevin Bletzer, Catholic Memorial
Best DB – Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense - Natick
Best rushing offense – St. John’s Prep
Best offensive line – St. John’s Prep
Best defensive line - Reading
Best linebackers – Catholic Memorial
Best secondary - Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE:

Attleboro
A new coaching staff, the energy of a new field complex, and a strong crop of returning seniors could make the Bombardiers the surprise team of the Hockomock League. Attleboro has always been a sleeping giant and the program continues to find solid athletes, it’s now up to the new staff to build a system that fits the talent on the roster. With a couple of league rivals dealing with injuries and suspensions, Attleboro could sneak up on people.

Barnstable
Everyone assumes that there will be a significant drop off for the Red Raiders due to a big graduating class, but there is still potential to be a solid team in D2 and in the OCL. This may not be a another season with Barnstable holding the top spot in the poll, but it shouldn’t be written off either.

Stoughton
The Knights are expected to finish behind Oliver Ames in the Davenport, but don’t be surprised if they pull an upset or two and give the Tigers a run at the title. Watch out for running back Malachi Baugh, who will be getting the majority of the carries this season and is a beast to try and bring down.

THREE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES TO WATCH

Luke Morrison, Sr. TE/DE, Attleboro
Attleboro’s giant tight end/defensive end is a monster match-up on both sides of the ball and could be a real threat as Tim Walsh’s favorite target in the Bombardiers passing attack.

Ryan Charter, Sr. QB, Needham
Mike Panepinto has deservedly drawn praise as the star man on the Needham offense, but the senior quarterback, who has been under center for 1-1/2 seasons already, will have high expectations as the Rockets try to get back on top in the Bay State.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
With the graduation of running backs Robbie Rapoza and Kevin Makie and the continued injury problems for wide receiver Michael Hershman the key cog for the Hornets offense will be its senior quarterback. Wisnieski’s ability to spread the ball around and pick the right options out of a still talented receiving corps that includes Brendan Hill is going to be the key for Mansfield’s run at a Hockomock title.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS:

Div. 1 – St. John’s Prep
Div. 2 - Nashoba
Div. 3 – Bishop Feehan
Div. 4 - Doherty
Div. 5 - Auburn
Div. 6 – Millis-Hopedale

***

Ryan Kilian
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Massachusetts Prep Stars


Best QB - Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB - Johnathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR - Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE - Rory Donovan, Cardinal Spellman
Best OL - Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best DL - Alex Quintero, Lowell
Best LB - C.J. Parvelus, Defense
Best DB - Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense - St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Best rushing offense - St. John's Prep
Best offensive line - St. John's Prep
Best defensive line - Reading
Best linebackers - Duxbury
Best secondary - Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Bedford
While Wayland and Concord-Casrlisle have earned the DCL Small Championship the past few years do not sleep on Bedford in 2013. The Bucs play one of the toughest schedules in Division 4 and the return All-DCL running back Olan Abner.

Chelmsford
While Lowell, Central and Andover are getting most of the early press in the MVC Large, the Chelmsford Lions return one of the State's top running backs in Jeff D'Auria, a seasoned young quarterback in Jack Campsmith and a nice nucleus of tough experienced defenders.

Archbishop Williams
If Archies can find early offensive balance to take some of the work load off the shoulders of star senior back Kylan Philbert-Richardson, they could make some noise in the D5 playoff hunt.

THREE BREAKOUT ATHLETES TO WATCH

Ian Kessel, Soph. RB, Haverhill
The St. John's Prep transfer saw late game carries last season as a freshman for Prep's Super Bowl Champion squad. The speedy halfback is now back home in the MVC Small, and with the graduation of work horse, All-State RB Chance Brady (Tufts), there should be plenty carries to go around.

Devin Lekan, Sr. DE/TE, Chelmsford
D'Auria and Campsmith return to lead the offense for Chelmsford's but it is the Lion defense could be the story if they stay healthy. The Lions feature the 2nd team all-MVC performer was the most impressive player in the games I saw last season.

Nick Orekoya, Jr. DB/RB Billerica
Orekoya saw a lot of playing time as a two-way starter for Billerica last season. With another year under his belt Orekoya should thrive in coach Rich McKenna's high octane offense.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS

Div. 1 - Everett
Div. 2 - Reading
Div. 3 - Tewksbury
Div. 4 - Dennis-Yarmouth
Div. 5 - Auburn
Div. 6 - Boston Cathedral

***

John Botelho
Editor-in-Chief, South Shore Sports Journal


Best QB - Troy Flutie, Natick
Best RB - Dylan Oxsen, Plymouth South
Best WR - Brian Dunlap, Natick
Best TE - Rory Donovan, Cardinal Spellman
Best OL - Jon Baker, Millis/Hopedale
Best DL - Steve Manning, Abington
Best LB - Kervin Jean-Claude, Brockton
Best DB - Lubern Figaro, Everett
Best passing offense - Natick
Best rushing offense - St. John's Prep
Best offensive line - St. John's Prep
Best defensive line - Auburn
Best linebackers - Brockton
Best secondary - Everett

THREE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE

Brockton
They're ranked pretty high in any poll you look at because people have just come to accept the fact that Brockton generally reloads. They graduated 18 starters from last season's Super Bowl team, including quarterback Austin Roberts, who was one of the best in school history. Roberts, Micah Morel and Joe Previte are all playing ball at prep schools this year, and Anthony Davis has moved on to Div. 1 Central Connecticut. Still, the Boxers will very solid again. They have a number of athletes and playmakers, including returning do-it-all Aaron Leclair. Transfer Jamal Williams is going to compliment him well, and sophomore Kerry Raymond is physically imposing at 6-foot-1 and 205. Aaron Monteiro's 6-foot-5, 295-pound frame gives Brockton an anchor on the offensive line. They have plenty of guys ready to step forward on the other side of the ball as well, led by Kervin Jean-Claude, Justin Ahanon and Leclair.

Abington
The Green Wave went unbeaten in their march toward a Super Bowl crown last year, but saw a slew of stars graduate. QB Brandon Cawley, TE/DE Pat Dwyer, FB Jack Malafronte, RB Babila Fonkem, DB Mike Walsh, OL Tyler Perakslis and OL Matt Diver are just some of the elite players Abington graduated. These guys won't miss a beat though, as they have a ton of talent back. Matt Kilmain broke out for more than 400 yards on 27 carries in two postseason wins last year, and he might not even be the best player back this season. Abington returns its top three tacklers from a year ago and has most of their front seven back on defense. Jim Kelliher has one of the best coaching staffs going at this point, and these guys look like they're headed back to the playoffs. (For bold prediction purposes, I'm also going to go ahead and say I think they beat Duxbury on opening night, because that's how good I think this team can be).

Stoughton
The Black Knights missed the playoffs last year because of the wrong day for a let down game, taking a tough defeat to eventual Super Bowl champ Sharon. The Knights lost some very good players, but leading running back Malachi Baugh is back in the fold and they return four starting offensive lineman, so there's no reason to think the offense won't be up to par again. The Hockomock League has proven in recent years to be one of the toughest to win, but a second guaranteed playoff berth can only help a team like Stoughton.

THREE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES TO WATCH

Aaron Monteiro, Jr. OL, Brockton
Monteiro has something that can't be learned, or even worked toward. His 6-foot-5, 295-pound frame is one that will draw the interest of coaches at the next level. Coach Peter Colombo is very excited about plugging the junior into his offensive line, and it's not just because of the size. Monteiro worked during the off-season to get himself stronger and is primed to be one of the best lineman in the state. He plays basketball in the winter, something that has helped him develop quick and agile feet for a guy his size.

Sam Malafronte, Jr. LB, Abington
Started at linebacker a year ago as a sophomore for the Div. 4 Super Bowl champs, and finished second on the team in tackles. A very good athlete who is a work-out warrior, Malafronte will team with Matt Whelan to lead a solid corps in the middle of the field for the Green Wave.

James Shea, Sr. WR, East Bridgewater
The Vikings have benefited from having tremendous athletes in the backfield the last few years (think Casey DeAndrade, Tim O'Brien, Andrew Benson and Kevin Lynch), but in 2013 their most dangerous player will be splitting out wide. Shea can run with just about anyone -- he finished sixth in the 100-meter dash in the South Shore League last spring -- and is going to wreak havoc pulling in passes all year.

WAY TOO EARLY STATE CHAMPION PICKS

Div. 1 - Everett
Div. 2 - Natick
Div. 3 - Plymouth South
Div. 4 - Doherty
Div. 5 - Abington
Div. 6 - Millis/Hopedale

Recap: Abington 29, Millis/Hopedale 12

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
12:23
AM ET
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- With three gifted running backs, it's not always easy to predict which Abington runner will take his turn in the big-game spotlight.

Tuesday evening, it was junior Matt Kilmain who stepped to the forefront, piling up an incredible 274 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries to lead the Green Wave in a 29-12 triumph over Millis/Hopedale in a Div. 4 semifinal matchup at Bridgewater-Raynham High School.

Abington (12-0) will face St. Mary's in the Div. 4 Super Bowl Saturday at Curry College (time TBA).

"It was really the blocking. Every time I scored, the hole was huge," said Kilmain when asked what enabled him to have such success. "I would just hit the hole, make one move and I was gone. I got the one touchdown and they just keep feeding me."

Fellow backs Babila Fonkem (38 yards) and Jack Malafronte (32 yards, TD) have also taken turns in the lead role but Kilmain showed early signs that he was going to be difficult for the Mohawks to handle. Despite a somewhat slippery turf, Kilmain took Abington's second play from scrimmage 72 yards down the left sideline for a score.

Millis/Hopedale (8-4) got it right back on an 11-yard TD run by Chris Ahl (100 yards, two scores) and took the lead on Ahl's second touchdown, also from 11 yards. The Mohawks missed both extra points, as well as a 20-yard field goal try at the buzzer, but still took a 12-7 into the break.

Whatever was discussed in the Green Wave locker room during the half seemed to have an effect as Kilmain took the first play from scrimmage through left tackle and sprinted 65 yards to paydirt, putting his team back in front, 15-12.

Two possessions later, Kilmain broke another big run, this time sprinting 42 yards straight through the middle. Malafronte would add the final score on a 12-yard burst in the fourth quarter.

"Matt Kilmain has come into his own in the latter part of the season," praised Abington coach Jim Kelliher. "He's just feeling more comfortable being a running back, more comfortable with the plays, a lot more...just going out there and doing what he can do best and letting everything flow. And when he can do that he's as good as anybody."

DIGGING IN ON DEFENSE
Led by 6-foot-2, 300-pound two-way lineman Jon Baker, who was his typically dominating self, the Mohawks boast a rather imposing group of linemen on both sides of the ball. Instead of cowering and giving way to such beef, the Green Wave defense instead dug in their heels and relied on quickness and technique to find holes in the Millis offensive line to get pressure in the backfield.

The trio of Jason Halpin, Steve Manning and nose tackle Jon Aprile more than held their own and put together more than a few big plays. Manning and Aprile each had sacks while all three consistently swarmed to the ball and made several tackles for no gain or losses.

"We just shut down the middle," Halpin said. "That's all we needed to do. We sent it outside, we got the linebackers going. Just an all around team thing. They were huge, they were a big line, You just gotta find their weakness and attack it.

Halpin added, "We really keyed in on the two main players, [quarterback Sean Heffernan] and [Ahl]. [Ian Strom] was one of the big guys too. We keyed in on them, made sure we knew all of their formations and everything. We prepared a lot."

Kelliher knew his smaller squad was in for a battle but he was able to walk away more than pleased with the effort his defense put forth,

"I thought my kids did exactly what we asked them to do," Kelliher said. "Just hang in there, be tough, keep on coming at them and things will turn. Yeah, we're going to get driven back a few times because they're pretty good, they're pretty big. But at the same time, we have good football players. Stay with what you do best and everything's going to be alright."

ABINGTON 29, MILLIS/HOPEDALE 12
MILLIS/HOPEDALE (8-4) 6 6 0 0 - 12
ABINGTON (12-0) 7 0 14 8 - 29

AB - Matt Kilmain 72 run (Shawn Donovan kick)
MH - Chris Ahl 11 run (kick failed)
MH - Ahl 11 run (kick blocked)
AB - Kilmain 65 run (Babila Fonkem rush)
AB - Kilmain 42 run (pass failed)
AB - Jack Malfronte 12 run (Tim Ferguson pass from Brandon Cawley)

Recap: No. 23 Abington 22, East Bridgewater 16

November, 9, 2012
11/09/12
11:42
PM ET
EAST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Jack Malafronte might only stand 5-foot-5 and 170 pounds, but he played like the biggest man on the field Friday night for the Abington football team in their South Shore League title clinching win over East Bridgewater.

The fire hydrant of a running back led the charge for the Green Wave, carrying the ball 12 times for a whopping 174 yards in the 22-16 win.

The Vikings managed to curtail the production of offensive lightning rods Babila Fonkem and Matt Kilmain, but Malafronte found the end zone three times for the unbeaten Green Wave (10-0, 7-0 SSL).

“It always starts with the offensive line, they open up the holes,” said Malafronte. “I just hit em fast and hit em hard.

"I think we have the most talented group of backs around. You really can’t game-plan for three running backs and quarterback who can throw, so teams have to pick their poison. You might shut down one or shutdown two, but someone is going to find those holes.”

And Hall-of-Fame coach Jim Kelliher couldn’t have been happier it was Malafronte, who is widely recognized as one of the best motivators he's had – this year or any.

“Jack [Malafronte] is without a doubt one of the best captain-leaders we’ve ever had here,” Kelliher said. “I’ve been here for 42 years, so I’ve seen a lot of guys go through. He’s without a doubt the best. He epitomizes being a captain leader. He certainly showed it tonight.”

He didn’t get his first carry until two minutes into the second quarter, but he made the most of it as he sprinted 61 yards and moved the Green Wave into East Bridgewater territory for the first time.

After a pass interference call on fourth down kept the drive alive, Malafronte finished it off with a 10-yard dive into the end zone with 5:25 remaining in the half. A halfback pass from Fonkem to Joe Buckley made it 8-0.

East Bridgewater suffered its third turnover-on-downs on the next drive, and Abington held the ball for the final two minutes of the first half. Malafronte extended the lead on third play from scrimmage after the break, racing 53 yards for a score. A Fonkem run on the two-point conversion made it 16-0.

Just when it seemed Abington might run away with this one, the Vikings (6-4, 4-2 SSL) put together an impressive nine-play drive that spanned nearly five minutes. Andrew Benson, who finished with 67 yards rushing and another 51 yards passing, scored from three yards out before adding a two-point conversion rush to make it 16-8.

EB forced a quick three-and-out, and took over at their own 24 following a punt.

This time it took 10 plays, but Benson once again plunged in from three yards out. He added another impressive two-point conversion score on a broken play, tying the game with 7:53 remaining.

The tie was short-lived, however, as Abington manufactured a 10-play drive of their own and Malafronte finished it from two yards out with 3:37 left. His rush attempt failed and the Green Wave led 22-16.

East Bridgewater marched down the field again, and an athletic 17-yard scramble by Benson set up a 1st-and-10 at the 11-yard line. Back-to-back false starts moved the Vikings back 10 yards though.

With pressure baring down on him, Benson threw a pass toward that end zone that Abington’s Mike Walsh came down with, ending the drive and comeback bid.

The fourth time EB failed to net points after reaching the end zone doomed them as it came with just 1:05 left on the clock.

“We just made too many mistakes and had too many breakdowns,” East Bridgewater head coach Shawn Tarpey said. “We’ve been talking about execution the last few weeks. Overall we played pretty well, but we didn’t get it done when we needed a big play.”

Fittingly, Malafronte cruised past the first down marker allowing the Green Wave to take a knee and clinch their first SSL crown since 2008.

While Malafronte led the way offensively, his younger brother, Sam, made sure it was family affair on both sides of the ball. He led the Green Wave with six tackles, who also five each from Fonkem and Steve Manning, as well as four from Joe Brady and Jon Aprile in the win.

LYNCH'S FIGHTING CHANCE
Doctors and coaches weren’t sure senior captain Kevin Lynch would be able to suit up again for the Vikings after breaking his arm in their Week 4 loss to Mashpee.

Still, Lynch – a linebacker and running back – planned to be back, and his return to the field during the Abington loss was the brightest spot of the day for East Bridgewater.

“I mentioned it to the team that he was gutsy when he got hurt,” Tarpey said. “He backed that up again tonight. He’s just such a special kid. Six weeks off, and for him to just jump in their like that, I couldn’t be prouder of a kid. What a performance by him.”

The performance included rushing for 130 yards on 20 carries and leading the Vikings on defense while registering a team-high seven tackles.

“He’s just such a good kid,” Tarpey said. “He works so hard across the board – he’s ranked fourth in his class, and was always in the weight room, I’m just so proud of what he did out there tonight.”

Recap: No. 18 E. Bridgewater 25, Abington 22

November, 5, 2011
11/05/11
12:54
AM ET
ABINGTON, Mass. -– With roughly one minute remaining in the fourth quarter and the Abington Green Wave 39 yards away from a game-winning touchdown, East Bridgewater senior Connor McDermott made a game-saving tackle on 4th-and-9. It helped the Vikings preserve their undefeated record for yet another week and keep pace with Mashpee in the South Shore League with a dramatic 25-22 victory.

“That tackle was the biggest tackle I’ve ever made,” McDermott said. “Anytime you get the stopping tackle, it’s pretty big, but I pretty much just give it to Coach [Shawn] Tarpey because he’s been coaching us all this time, and he was just saying, ‘stay where you are,’ so I just stayed where I was and made the tackle."

Tarpey added, “A game like this, you’re excited, and sometimes everybody wants to make the play, [but] they realize they’ve just got to do their job, and we’ll be OK. Obviously, there’s not much else we could say, just kind of do your thing. [Abington] still [had] to put it in the end zone or kick a field goal, and we stopped them at the end.”

Both teams shook off their pre-game jitters during the opening minutes of the first quarter with back-to-back interceptions before Abington’s junior place kicker Joe Buckley kicked a 26-yard field goal, which gave the Green Wave their first lead of the game.

East Bridgewater responded on the ensuing possession, as senior quarterback Timothy O’Brien, (10 carries, 128 yards, and 3 TDs), rushed for his first of three scores, before Abington answered with a 34-yard run by sophomore half back Matt Kilmain.

Entering the second half, East Bridgewater added three more touchdowns on the ground, thanks to O’Brien and senior halfback Casey DeAndre, (22 carries, 159 yards, and TD) before Abington staged an epic comeback that featured two rushing touchdowns by junior half back Babila Fonkem, and an onside kick, which didn’t result in any points.

“I thought my kids played a hell of a game, they gave every effort that they could give, [and] I didn’t think they backed down from anything and this is the kind of game that should happen and it did,” Abington head coach Jim Kelliher said.

“[This win was] incredible. Obviously, it just keeps us right on the path that we need to be on with next week’s matchup, and I’m certainly going to enjoy this one tonight, but it’s good,” Tarpey said. “Last year, we beat these guys, and then we went out and lost to Mashpee, so we’re going to enjoy this [victory].”

VIKINGS RUN AGROUND
Against the Green Wave, the Vikings running game demolished their opponents front seven, as O’Brien and DeAndre combined for 287-yards on the ground, and four touchdowns.

“[It’s] not very easy,” Kelliher said. “That’s the best combination of two guys that I’ve seen. They did such a nice job in the backfield, riding, faking, they do an excellent job.”

Tarpey credited his running attack against Abington by saying, “That’s been that way all year. Teams have either taken away Casey or Timmy, and the other ones had a good game, depending on who they were trying to take away, so we busted out, we didn’t execute, we had the turnovers in the first half, but we’re glad to pull it out in the end.”

BACK AND FORTH
Both teams combined for 32-points in the third and fourth quarters, as Abington and East Bridgewater flexed their offensive muscles on the ground game, but it was the Vikings, who managed to score an additional six points in the third quarter, which proved to be the difference.

“We came back each and every time they came back and at the end they were just three-points better than us," Kelliher said. “We’re working, if anything to get ourselves in position to maybe get a field goal kick there, we didn’t get it, but that’s what we work on, that’s what we do each and every week, that’s what we [do] on the practice field all time.”

EAST BRIDGEWATER 25, ABINGTON 22
East Bridgewater (9-0, 5-0) - 0 6 6 13 -- 25
Abington (6-3, 4-2) - 3 6 0 13 -- 22


1st quarter
A - Joe Buckley 26-yard Field Goal

2nd quarter
EB – Timothy O’Brien, 14-yard run, (pass failed)
A – Matt Kilmain, 34-yard run (pass failed)

3rd Quarter
EB – Casey DeAndre, 15-yard run (run failed)

4th quarter
A – Babila Fonkem, 17-yard run (Buckley kick)
EB – O’Brien, 15-yard run (kick failed)
EB – O’Brien, 27-yard run (Kevin Lynch kick)
A – Fonkem, five-yard run (pass failed)

Recap: Abington 14, Rockland 10

October, 22, 2011
10/22/11
2:22
AM ET


ROCKLAND, Mass. -– It was Abington’s chance to turn the nuts, bolts, and screws on Rockland on their home turf.

The Green Wave avenged last year's nationally recognized loss to the Bulldogs with a come-from-behind 14-10 road victory at Memorial Field as Abington quarterback Brandon Cawley scored on a one-yard, quarterback sneak with only 38 seconds left in regulation for the game-winning touchdown.

With the win, Abington stays in the hunt for the South Shore League title. But with last week’s loss to Mashpee, the Green Wave will need some help to make the postseason as the season winds down.

Abington played a first half to forget with three turnovers in six possessions with a botched kickoff return, a fumble at the line of scrimmage, and an interception from Cawley as Rockland (2-5; 0-4 South Shore) held a slim 10-0 lead at the break. The Green Wave managed 46 total yards on only 17 plays from scrimmage.

“It wasn’t like a six shooter but a bazooka that we were shooting at our foot and digging so many mistakes,” said Abington head coach Jim Kelliher. "It was the worse half blatantly I’ve seen from our football team since playing Hanover in the first game of the season but I said ‘we were only ten points behind so let’s just do our thing and we will be ok’”.

Cawley, the Green Wave’s junior signal caller, was stifled in the first half with a paltry 1-of-4 passing, including the pick, for only 11 yards but came up huge in the second half, especially big on the game-winning drive.

“It wasn’t so much the adjustments that we made (at halftime), we just talked and said ‘forget about the first half and relax’,” said Kelliher, who is in his 38th year at the helm and now sits at 211 wins dating back to 1974. “We knew we were going to get the ball in the second half and let’s see what we can do and play our brand of football and minimize mistakes.”

Abington (5-2; 3-1) fell just short in the second half’s opening drive after Cawley threw an incompletion to force a turnover on downs at the Bulldogs 17-yard line.

But after a Bulldogs’ three-and-out, Abington took advantage of some great field position and scored quickly on a six-play drive highlighted by sophomore Matt Kilmain’s running which produced 25 yards on only three carries. On second-and–six from the 16-yard line, Cawley slipped a sure-fire sack and rolled right to find Joe Buckley in the back of the end zone for the Green Wave's first touchdown. The Cawley-Buckley combination capped off the drive with a two-point conversion in a carbon copy, rollout right to the back of the end zone to cut the deficit to two, 10-8.

Rockland’s offense, which was moving the ball with ease through the air with quarterback Ricky Witt in the first half, was stymied for the final two quarters of play. Witt had 99 yards on 7-of-14 first-half passing, but could not jump start the offense in the second stanza and the Bulldogs were forced to punt again.

After forcing Rockland to punt on fourth-and-18 from their own 37-yard line, the 12-play, game-winning scoring drive started with 6:51 left on the clock in the fourth quarter. On second-and-eight from the 49-yard line, Babila Fonkem, who racked up 68 yards on 16 carries, ran off right tackle for a seven-yard gain which merited the chains to roll on the field but the Green Wave fell short.

On third-and-inches, Fonkem was stuffed for no gain by the Bulldogs defensive front, which played well in the trenches throughout the entire game. On fourth-and-inches and the game clock running under four minutes to play, Kelliher was certainly nervous.

“Everybody says ‘to win football games, you have to be able to run the ball’ and that’s the truth,” said Kelliher. “I was nervous there, but at least we had given ourselves a chance and that’s all we can want in the fourth quarter – keep yourself in the ballgame and give yourself a chance.”

Cawley called his own number and dove the length of a half of the pigskin to secure the first down and barely continue the drive.

“It was getting close and coach just said, ‘Put your head down and get as much yards as you can and it worked,” said Cawley.

Cawley’s number was called again on third-and-goal from the one and the junior quarterback delivered again with a dive up the middle for the game’s final score and a sigh of relief from the Abington faithful.

“I’ve been involved in this game for 50 years with Rockland, coaching, playing; my dad was one of the better players too. I love (the rivalry)," said Kelliher.

He added, “I don’t care who we have next week (Hull), we have four games left and they will all be tough. When it comes time to worry, don’t you worry, I’ll worry."

"Nuts and bolts, we got screwed": Almost a year-to-the-date last season with the first place in the South Shore League on the line, Abington scored a defensive touchdown on what appeared to be a backwards lateral pass from Rockland quarterback D.J. Austin only to have it ruled an incomplete pass. The nullified touchdown would have padded the Green Wave’s lead but Rockland went on to win the game, 21-12, with two more touchdowns after taking the defensive score off the board.

Local cable access announcers went ballistic and were featured on national sports websites throughout the country for their hilarious take on the action.

The home loss for Abington was their first since 2004, but Kelliher knows everyone looks back on the game –- and the play-by-play call -- for fun and laughs, despite the implications at the time.

“I like to call it 'The Game' now, we have fun with it no doubt," said Kelliher. “I hear 'nuts and bolts' all the time, we laugh about it, it was controversial at the time -- but you joke about it and back when I’m 75 or 80 years old I’ll laugh about it then too.”

ABINGTON 14, ROCKLAND 10
ABI (5-2; 3-1) 0 - 0 - 8 - 6 - - 14
ROC (2-5; 0-4) 0 - 10 - 0 - 0 - - 10

Second Quarter
R - Ricky Witt 37 field goal
R - Tyler Eaton 8 run (Witt kick)

Third Quarter
A - Joe Buckley 16 pass from Brandon Cawley (Buckley pass from Cawley)

Fourth Quarter
A - Cawley 1 run (pass failed)

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