Boston High School: Matt Silva

New faces, same tradition for No. 19 Dracut

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
5:27
PM ET
DRACUT, Mass. -- It is a humid, overcast afternoon as coach Jason Houston and his Dracut High School football team put the finishing touches on their first of two Thursday practices in a field hundreds of feet behind the football complex. The practice has already ran beyond its original noon ending time, but it’s this extra time that could prove valuable in the future for the No. 19 Middies.

During one drill, Houston is taking a hands-on approach, acting as a quarterback while trying to teach his linebackers their proper gap-filling assignments on running plays. After each snap, they ask him questions about pre-snap adjustments, what to do when a player goes in motion, and so forth. The second-year coach answers them all, expecting that uncertainty one week into preseason camp. The questions have to be answered now, because once the season starts, the competition will not wait for them to work things out.

On the first Saturday of the season, the Middies play No. 12 St. John’s Prep. Four of the six weeks after that, they face off against Merrimack Valley Conference Large competitors Billerica, Central Catholic, Lowell, and Chelmsford. That is stiff competition, to say the least.

“Playing St. John’s Prep is going to be quite the task for us, where we’re only returning four offensive starters,” said Houston. “But it’s a good way to gauge ourselves in the season and you can’t get better by playing teams that are worse than you. You have to play teams that are better than you. That’s why we play SJP, we scheduled Brockton a few years ago, and had Marshfield and Westford the last few years.”

“We know going in that we might lose one, maybe two of those games, but we’d like to split our non-league games,” he continued. “That way, when we get to the MVC Large teams, we’re a little more ready to play those teams. We should have all the kinks worked out by league play.”

One of the important new offensive starters is quarterback Jimmy Ryan. He spent two years as a backup to Matt Silva, who graduated, but this year he will be thrown into the metaphorical fire that is the MVC. He seems up for the challenge. Also graduated is Chris Malonis, who paired with Silva to be one of the most prolific pitch-and-catch combinations in the MVC.

“I’m excited (to take over at QB),” said Ryan. “I know there’s a history of great quarterbacks here, from Coach (Bobby) Russo, (Matt) Grimard, Tim Dillon, to Matt Silva of course. I don’t want to be the guy to let everyone down, but I think I can do it. I’ve been in this system for two years now and I know we have a great coaching staff here so I think I’ll be ready.”

“I know the schedule isn’t easy, but the coaching staff does a great job preparing each week and coming up with schemes and all that, so I think we’ll be ready no matter who we’re playing,” said Ryan.

Malonis was back at practice Thursday, helping lead the scout team offense and acting as quarterback during wide receiver vs. defensive back drills. He and Russo still being around the program can only help Ryan as he grows into his role.

As practice ends and Houston addresses his team, he acknowledges there is more work to be done. He knows how much he’s going to rely on his new starters on both sides of the ball if he wants to get back to and make some noise in the playoffs.

Can his team do it? That’s a question that can only be answered once the season starts.

DRACUT AT A GLANCE

Head Coach: Jason Houston (2nd season, 8-4)
Last Year: 8-4 (Lost to Reading in Division 2 playoffs)
Key Returnees: Zach Bassett, Jr., WR/OLB 5-8, 170 lbs., Dante Torres QB/DB 5-11, 160 lbs., Jimmy Ryan QB 5-10, 160 lbs., Peter Salem, Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 225 lbs., Tony Ngeth, Sr. RB/LB, 5-9, 170 lbs., Mike Sarault, Sr., RB/LB, 5-7, 165 lbs., Ryan Ignacio, Sr., RB/LB, 5-10, 170 lbs., Nick Dubuque, Sr., OL/DL, 5-6, 185 lbs., Anthony Metzler, Sr. , OL/DL, 5-10, 280 lbs., Mike Schiavi, Sr., OL/DL, 6-4, 275 lbs., Nick Staub, Sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 230 lbs., Tom Babaletos, Sr. OL/DL, 5-11, 250 lbs., Matt Ferrazzani, Sr., TE/LB, 6-0, 190 lbs., Ryan Schwartz, Sr. WR/DB, 5-9, 160 lbs., Shawn Butt, Sr. OL/DL, 5-11, 245 lbs.
Strengths: Experience on both the offensive and defensive line
Weaknesses: Youth in the secondary, only returning four offensive starters, untested players at the skill positions
Outlook: With so many new players on offense, Dracut will try to rely on its defense through the first few weeks of the season. It will also try to take the pressure off its new quarterback. “Early on we’ll probably lean on the run game a lot more than what we’ve done in the past,” said Houston. “I don’t know if we’ll be throwing the ball and gun-slinging it in the first couple of weeks, but we should be alright. We’ll probably look to control the clock with the run game and rely on our defense to get some big stops early, get the offense in some third-and-longs. We’re more experienced upfront on defense so we might be able to do more stuff, play more man-to-man and put some pressure on guys. That will play into our gameplan of controlling the clock and controlling the tempo. Keep the other offense off the field so we can grind it out with our offense.” They will look for balance on offense, not just in run versus pass, but also spreading the ball around through the air. If Dracut can achieve that, they will surely make noise in the MVC and stand a good chance at coming away with their fourth league title in as many years.

MVC quarterbacks throttle North to win

June, 18, 2011
6/18/11
1:36
AM ET



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It was the first time since last Thanksgiving's rivalry game since Dracut's Matt Silva and Methuen's Cal Carroll had been on the same gridiron together. But their good friendship off the field didn't prevent ribbing these past two weeks of practice leading up to the Shriners All-Star Game.

"He [Carroll] kept telling me they won 16-12, and I had to remind him we won 19-12 all week," Silva laughed.

Opposite one another, they completed one of the more thrilling second halves from last Thanksgiving morning's slate of historic rivalry games. Together, they were up to the same old freelancing that made them two of the Merrimack Valley's most exciting quarterbacks to watch last fall, all part of a winning effort in the North's last-minute 17-14 win over the South.

En route to the MVC's Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2010, Carroll ran Pat Graham's power-based spread scheme with a chip on his shoulder, often calling his own number on inside zone options and bursting his way through the middle. So it should come as no surprise that with the ball just a few feet short of the goal line with under two minutes to go, Carroll followed Beverly's 310-pound center George Kallas into the end zone on a sneak.

Just like they used to draw it up on Ranger Road, only under center rather than their customary end zone dives out of Tebow-ish formations.

But then again, Carroll noted, "who wouldn't want to be under center when you've got George Kallas in front of you? He's 6-5, 300 pounds or something like that. That whole line wanted nothing more than for the ball to be on the ground."

Carroll, who will play baseball at Stonehill next year, finished with 70 yards on 8 of 12 passing, with two touchdowns. In the first half, he connected with Merrimack-bound running back Anthony Arcari on a screen pass for the team's first touchdown.

"We really put the game in the offensive line's hands on that drive, pounded the ball at the South, pretty much the whole drive" Carroll said. "[We] nickel and dimed it when we had to, with pass plays, and then set up a screen for Anthony Arcari. He has great wheels, maybe the fastest guy in Massachusetts. I didn't make a great pass, but he came down with it and walked into the end zone."

The North's offensive MVP honors went to Revere running back Trae Weathers, but the ebb and flow of the MVC's signal-callers made this all the more fun, between Carroll's toughness between the tackles and Silva's scrambling.

"I thought Carroll and Silva did a great job tonight," North head coach Al Costabile, also of Shawsheen Tech, said. "Our quarterbacks played very composed, our quarterbacks played very well all night, they also ran the ball well tonight. They came up with some timely runs to mix in and keep our offense going. Our kids gave up, and I'm so proud of them."

NO REGRETS FOR SULLIVAN

Jim Sullivan called it a career as head coach of Norwell following the Clippers' Thanksgiving loss to Hanover. In this last season coaching at the Shriners, he was made head coach of the South squad for this final go-around.

And for Sullivan, he couldn't be going out any happier.

"The game's about the kids, always, every game that I'm around in," Sullivan said. "Can't say enough of the heart of our guys. The kids played very well."
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With about five minutes remaining in Friday’s Shriners All-Star football game at Gillette Stadium, Tyllor MacDonald knew his team need a big play. The North squad was trailing the South, 14-10, and driving into North territory.

That’s when the Lynn English standout laid a wicked hit on North Attleborough’s Dan Johnson, prying the ball free. MacDonald capped the play by falling on the loose ball and gaining possession for the North.

North quarterback Cal Carroll of Methuen took care of the rest, leading the team on a 13-play drive to victory that he capped with a 1-yard touchdown run to the North a 17-14 victory.

“As saw [Johnson] coming across the middle and I hit him as hard as I could,” MacDonald said of his game-changing play. “I just knew that I had to. I had to pick my team up.”

With the ball back in his hands, Carroll led North downfield, completing two key pass attempts for 37 yards on the drive. The Rangers’ signal-caller found Everett’s Matt Costello, ESPN Boston’s inaugural Mr. Football Award winner, for a 22-yard connection on third and 16. Two plays later, Carroll hit BB&N’s Peter Savarese with a 15-yard pass to give North a first down and goal at the South 5-yard line.

Carroll then punched in the game-winning score with 1:33 remaining.

“I think once we connected on that third and long, I think we really felt like we were going to pull through in the red zone,” Carroll said.

Trae Weathers provided the counterpunch to North’s aerial attack, which was quarterbacked by both Carroll and Dracut’s Matt Silva. The bruising Revere running back was named the North’s Offensive MVP following his 12-carry, 70-yard performance, forming part of a talented backfield alongside Gloucester’s Jordan Shairs.

“We saw the ISO was working,” Weathers said. “We were just trying to pound it in. It’d been working all game, so we just stuck with it.”

Not to be overlooked was North’s defense, which racked up five sacks including three consecutive sacks of Holliston’s Sean Mayo to negate South’s final drive of the game, sealing the win.

The Dexter School’s Jake Giovanucci capped the performance with two sacks in the final minute. Billerica’s Justin Hood, Lynn Classical’s Daniel Omorgie and Gloucester’s Chris Unis collected sacks for North.

“We really came together as a unit the last two weeks in practice,” Giovanucci said. “We had a lot of really skilled guys. It’s tough to block four skilled pass rushers. Someone might get the sack, but the other guys were taking up blockers.”

South opened scoring with Mayo connecting on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Attleboro’s Nate Robitaille with 6:49 remaining in the first quarter.

Carroll came back to tie the game with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Tewksbury’s Anthony Acari with 9:25 to play in the second. Costello added the extra point to tie the game, 7-7.

North would take the lead into the locker room at halftime following James Brao’s 24-yard field goal with 5:01 remaining.

South reclaimed the lead four minutes into the third quarter with Scituate’s Tyler Park connecting with Cohasset’s Jack Carrier on a 15-yard touchdown pass.

Shriners Football Classic rosters announced

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
10:32
AM ET
The North-South game of the 33rd Annual Shriners Football Classic kicks off this June 17 at 7 p.m., and for the second year in a row the contest will be held at Gillette Stadium. Below are the rosters for both squads participating in the game:

NORTH
Ryan Adams, Northeast, DE
James Aloisio, Masconoment, OT
Eric Apgar, Acton-Boxborough, RB
Anthony Arcari, Tewksbury, RB
Manny Asprilla, Everett, WR
Derek Bent, Shawsheen, TE
Brian Bourque, Reading, DB
James Brao, Hamilton-Wenham, LB
Cal Carroll, Methuen, QB
Brendan Casey, Boston Latin, DT
Thomas Chub, Masconomet, OL
Mitchell Colley, Arlington, LB
Sean Connolly, Tewksbury, FS
Tyler Coppola, St. John's Prep, RB
Matt Costello, Everett, WR
Anthony Courtouis, Lowell, WR
Jeff Covitz, Reading, OL
Nate Cyr, St. John's Prep, OL
Ned Deane, Andover, LB
Ryan Delisle, St. John's Prep, TE
Jake Giovanucci, Dexter, DE
Mike Grassa, BB&N, DB
Will Guinee, Malden Catholic, OL
Mike Harper, Methuen, LB
Zach Hayes, Chelmsford, S
Justin Hood, Billerica, DE
Brian Hurley, Wilmington
Zach Ingalls, Westford, DB
George Kallas, Beverly, OT
Ben Koopman, Marblehead, C
Chris Malonis, Dracut, WR
Tyllor MacDonald, Lynn English, DB
Tom Meade, Malden Catholic, LB
Trae Musumarra, Central Catholic, LB
Zach Nardone, Bishop Fenwick, DT
Paul Nwokeji, Thayer Academy, OL
John O'Connell, Northeast, DL
Daniel Omorgie, Lynn Classical, DE
Xavier Peralta, Central Catholic, DB
Ony Ramos, Lawrence, DB
Peter Savarese, BB&N, RB
Jordan Shairs, Gloucester, RB
Matt Silva, Dracut, QB
Bradley Skeffington, Salem, DB
Zach Smerlas, Lincoln-Sudbury, DL
Brian Strachan, St. Sebastian's, WR
Dave Summiel, Shawsheen, DT
Chris Unis, Gloucester, DE
Trae Weathers, Revere, RB
Sean Whittaker, Methuen, OL
Peter Yasi, Swampscott, DE

SOUTH
Matt Allen, Pembroke, SE
Ryan Barrett, Holliston, TE
Rob Barrus, Weymouth, LB
Adam Boari, King Philip, OL
Blaise Branch, Cardinal Spellman, RB
Lance Burlingame, New Bedford, OL
Jack Carrier, Cohasset, SE
Dylan Colarusso, Weymouth, RB
Joe Colton, Xaverian, DB
Tom Condon, Whitman-Hanson, OL
David Conroy, Walpole, SE
Nate Crary, Dennis-Yarmouth, DL
Seth DeMello, Somerset, RB
Mike Devin, Bridgewater-Raynham, OL
Mike Driscoll, Rockland, FB
Connor Fraser, Abington, DL
Jake Golden, Hingham, OL
Mitchell Graziano, Silver Lake, DB
William Greene, Oliver Ames, DE
Ernest Guy, Foxborough, OL
Joseph Hak, East Bridgewater, OL
Matt Hallisey, Duxbury, SE
Brian Harrington, Rockland, DE
Jordan Henderson, Barnstable, WR
D.J. Jamieson, West Bridgewater, RB
Randall Jette, Martha's Vineyard, DB
Dan Johnson, North Attleboro, SE
Andrew Kestenbaum, Dartmouth, OL
Matt Lockwood, Seekonk, RB
Albert Louis-Jean, Brockton, SE
Denis Maguire, Duxbury, LB
Jamel Marshall, Mansfield, RB
Zach Martin, Mashpee, RB
Alec May, King Philip, TE
Sean Mayo, Holliston, QB
Paul McCarthy, North Attleboro, DB
Kyle McGuire, Mansfield, OL
Dave McSweeney, Medway, OL
Obum Obukwelu, BC High, OL
Trevon Offley, Brockton, RB
Jon Page, Bourne, RB
Tyler Park, Scituate, QB
Liam Porter, Natick, OL
Ethan Rayner, Holliston, OL
Nate Robitaille, Attleboro, DB
Andrew Siden, Natick, TE
Kevin Stanton, Cardinal Spellman, LB
Jeff Synan, Plymouth North, OL
Chris Tamasi, Xaverian, LB
Ryan Vaughn, Norwell, OL


Tags:

Football, Albert Louis-Jean, BC High, St. John's Prep, Brockton, BB&N, Dartmouth, Andrew Kestenbaum, Liam Porter, Natick, Lynn English, Chelmsford, Swampscott, Gloucester, Tyllor MacDonald, Lincoln-Sudbury, Plymouth North, Xaverian, Everett, Manny Asprilla, Matt Costello, Andover, Central Catholic, Obum Obukwelu, Billerica, Barnstable, Bridgewater-Raynham, Paul Nwokeji, Zach Smerlas, Andrew Siden, Dexter, Ned Deane, Matt Silva, Dracut, Duxbury, Matt Hallisey, Acton-Boxborough, Eric Apgar, Chris Malonis, Lance Burlingame, Joe Colton, Chris Tamasi, Trevon Offley, Oliver Ames, Sean Mayo, Ryan Barrett, Ethan Rayner, Paul McCarthy, Dan Johnson, Trae Musumarra, Xavier Peralta, King Philip, Alec May, Adam Boari, Mike Devin, Tyler Coppola, Ryan Delisle, Nate Cyr, Reading, Brian Bourque, Jeff Covitz, Zach Hayes, Jordan Henderson, Westford, Zach Ingalls, Methuen, Cal Carroll, Mike Harper, Sean Whittaker, Justin Hood, Chris Unis, Jake Giovanucci, Mansfield, Jamel Marshall, Kyle McGuire, Malden Catholic, Will Guinee, Walpole, Salem, Dennis-Yarmouth, Nate Crary, Jordan Shairs, Abington, Tewksbury, Lawrence, Anthony Arcari, Sean Connolly, Cardinal Spellman, Arlington, Holliston, Blaise Branch, Peter Savarese, Connor Fraser, Silver Lake, Somerset, Seth DeMello, Revere, Trae Weathers, Lynn Classical, Martha's Vineyard, Randall Jette, Weymouth, New Bedford, Medway, Rob Barrus, Dave McSweeney, St. Sebastian's, Brian Strachan, Peter Yasi, Bourne, Cohasset, Rockland, Mashpee, Mike Driscoll, Brian Harrington, Whitman-Hanson, Bishop Fenwick, Beverly, Masconomet, Jeff Synan, East Bridgewater, Shawsheen, Norwell, Lowell, Pembroke, Boston Latin, David Conroy, Foxborough, Scituate, Hamilton-Wenham, West Bridgewater, Northeast, Derek Bent, George Kallas, Tyler Park, D.J. Jamieson, James Brao, Ryan Adams, Denis Maguire, Hingham, Thayer Academy, Marblehead, Ben Koopman, Wilmington, Brian Hurley, Shriners Football Classic, James Aloisio, Brendan Casey, Thomas Chub, Mitchell Colley, Anthony Courtouis, Mike Grassa, Tom Meade, Zach Nardone, John O'Connell, Daniel Omorgie, Ony Ramos, Bradley Skeffington, Dave Summiel, Matt Allen, Jack Carrier, Tom Condon, Jake Golden, Mitchell Graziano, William Greene, Ernest Guy, Joseph Hak, North Attleboro, Matt Lockwood, Seekonk, Zach Martin, Jon Page, Kevin Stanton, Ryan Vaughn

Stage is set for Gillette Stadium

December, 2, 2010
12/02/10
6:57
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It is every teenager's dream to one day put on the shoulder pads and helmet and play in a Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium with everyone watching. On Saturday, that dream will be realized for players on twelve high school football teams, as the Division 1-3A MIAA Eastern Mass Super Bowls return to Foxborough.

“It is amazing,” Concord-Carlisle running back Jibrail Coy said, standing in the shadows of the stadium of the New England Patriots. “It feels good that we get to be on this field and we have an opportunity to play at Gillette.”

The MIAA invited the Super Bowl teams’ coaches and captains to Gillette Stadium for a breakfast on Thursday, and for some players it broke the ice of being on an NFL stadium’s turf for the first time.

“It’s breath-taking,” Beverly quarterback Joe Wioncek remarked. “Being here today helps take away the feeling a little bit, but it’s amazing.”

The Eastern Mass Super Bowls have been played at Gillette Stadium since 2007, and every year has provided a notable experience. In 2009, a snow storm clobbered Foxborough –- creating obstacles for the players, particularly in the night cap between Gloucester and Bridgewater-Raynham –- but the weather also gave the athletes a chance to get as close as they would ever come to feeling what it is like to be Tom Brady and company in December.

“It’s obviously the way you want to go out,” Duxbury quarterback Kane Haffey said about the opportunity. “I mean, I’m standing on the 50-yard line, where Tom Brady plays every Sunday.”

While some players gawked and took pictures or videos of the surroundings, others tried to remain stone-faced and stoic in front of their peers.

“The venue doesn’t matter,” St. John’s Prep senior Ryan Delisle said about Saturday. “It’s the game that counts.”

That somber attitude in the face of the excitement of the Super Bowl may come from the path that each team took to get to the Super Bowl.

Some teams have taken the hard road to get to this point, while others have skated in, coasting past playoff opponents. For instance, St. John’s Prep overcame an up-and-down year and snuck into the playoffs by virtue of a Thanksgiving Day win against defending Division 1 Eastern Mass Champion Xaverian. St. John’s then advanced after a 35-7 win over New Bedford, and will face Division 1 powerhouse Everett on Saturday.

“We have to give the credit to our young defense,” Delisle said about St. John’s season. “They started off the year as rookies with no experience. As the year has progressed they’ve gotten so much better, it is just incredible.”

On a similar note, Beverly lost its first five games of the season and was considered done by most teams in Division 3. Yet the Panthers rallied together, won all of their Northeastern Small Conference opponents, and dominated Scituate in the Division 3 semifinals to advance. Beverly’s opponent on Saturday is Somerset, who is coming off an equally impressive win, after shutting out Dighton-Rehoboth 28-0.

But it seems that there is no defined path to Gillette Stadium.

It is true that each team had to earn every victory, but teams like Everett and Gloucester (playing in the Division 1 and 1A Super Bowls, respectively) have a long tradition of playing on Super Bowl Saturday.

Longtime Everett head coach John Dibiaso has gathered seven Super Bowl rings in his tenure at the helm of the Crimson Tide, and this year has a talented group of seniors led by wide receivers Matt Costello and Manny Asprilla. Although the Crimson Tide lost to Xaverian in the Super Bowl last year, this year’s class is trying to redeem themselves against St. John’s on Saturday.

In the Division 1A semifinals, undefeated Gloucester traveled to Lincoln-Sudbury and shut out the Warriors 21-0. On Saturday, the Fishermen will face Bridgewater-Raynham for the second year in a row – last year winning the matchup 33-13. Bridgewater-Raynham serves as the underdog in that game, but could play spoiler after a 34-22 win over Weymouth on Tuesday.

And the theme of teams returning to Gillette doesn’t stop in Division 1. In Division 3A, Holliston, led by senior quarterback Sean Mayo – advanced out of the Tri-Valley League after a 35-20 victory over Rockland and is hoping to win its second-straight 3A Super Bowl. However standing in their way is undefeated Cardinal-Spellman powered by running back Blaise Branch.

In Division 2, Mansfield’s offensive weapons Jamel Marshall and George Busharis look to take down Reading. Mansfield is coming off of a 28-0 win over Walpole (http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/high-school/post/_/id/3288/mansfield-exacts-08-revenge-heads-to-gillette), while Reading boasts linemen Jeff Covitz and a stout defense. In the Division 2 semis, Covitz had two sacks on elusive Dracut quarterback Matt Silva to secure a Super Bowl berth.

Although these games are the climax of most of these players’ athletic careers, it also makes for a bittersweet end. Yes, they will be playing in Gillette Stadium on the state’s biggest high school stage, but it marks the end of their playing career.

For the seniors there will be no more Friday night lights. Instead, in their place will be the fond memories of the glory days, that pinnacled at Gillette Stadium.

“We’re going to be a little bit nervous,” Concord-Carlisle’s Ryan Ruiz said. “But we’re going to take everything under control and do what we’ve been doing all year.”

“There will be a lot of emotions out there on the field,” Beverly’s Wioncek said about playing his last game. “We’re going to just go out there and try to make them the most positive as possible.”

What we learned: Super Tuesday thoughts

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
11:16
PM ET
A RAIDERS’ PLUNDER
From the time Alex Estrella took a punt return 56 yards for a touchdown off the first series of the game, things didn’t look good for Dave Driscoll’s Dighton-Rehoboth team. What put the Falcons at such a disadvantage in trying to come back in their Division III semifinal was Somerset’s clock-draining double wing ground game.

Both of the Blue Raiders’ featured backs, Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear, were over 100 yards rushing on the night in Somerset’s 28-0 win.

The Falcons could manage just 51 yards in the first half and, in the second half, the Blue Raiders engaged in a ball-control game, possessing the ball for nearly 14 minutes of the second half.

Although teams may know what’s coming, the double wing is hard to defend. And it only helps that Somerset has the right players to get the job done.

“It’s all about the personnel,” Driscoll said of Somerset’s offense. “You’ve got to be quick and you’ve got to be athletic. [Seth] DeMello is very physical and [Jaron] Spear is very fast. So they have everything, plus the quarterback [Adam Ledoux] can throw and he’s athletic.

“They have all the pieces of the puzzle. You can see it on defense, too, how athletic they are and how quick to the ball they are.”

SOMETHING MOORE
St. John’s Prep sophomore running back Alex Moore doesn’t see the ball too often, but he does have one play in the Eagles’ playbook that he calls his own. It’s called 800 Rocket Right, Counter Left, and it worked to perfection in the Prep’s 35-7 win over New Bedford.

Moore had already made his presence felt against the Whalers, taking an interception back 61 yards for a touchdown on the fourth play from scrimmage. After the Eagles went out to a 13-0 lead on Dillon Gonzalez’s punt return for a touchdown, they were on the move again and cashed in on Moore’s 20-yard run in the second quarter.

“It’s really designed to score a touchdown every time,” Moore said Tuesday.

READING'S COVITZ IS A LOAD TO HANDLE
In the moments following Reading's thrilling 15-14 victory over Dracut last night, Jeff Covitz gushed about his former coach, late assistant Mike Boyd, and how his battle with lung cancer still emboldens the Rockets some 18 months after his death.

"He never quit," Covitz told reporters. "Up until the day he died, he never quit. I always think about Coach Boyd. Even when I'm exhausted, and just want to pass out right on the field, you never quit on this team. You never want to quit on your family. You never quit on coaches."

So with that said, if Covitz was exhausted in the four minutes following Brian Bourque's go-ahead two-point conversion run, he did a great job showing it. He sacked Dracut's Matt Silva twice in the final minutes to seal it for the Rockets, and send them back to Gillette to defend their Division 2 Super Bowl title.

LORDY, LORDI
Looking at the stat sheet, maybe you think you have Cardinal Spellman figured out -- Blaise Branch right, Blaise Branch left, rinse, repeat -- and with 36 rushing touchdowns on the season, we don't blame you. But flying under the radar, and providing some crucial punch in the fourth quarter when the Cardinals were trying to hold off Hamilton-Wenham momentum, was fullback Jared Lordi. Typically, Lordi will create holes out of the backfield for Branch, and so far the Cardinals have run head coach Ron St. George's Wing-T scheme exceptionally.

But on this particular night, he provided some spark when the Cardinals got stagnant. His 20-yard catch on fourth and 13 set up a Zac Cooney eight-yard keeper that made it 21-9 in the fourth quarter. Then, with a minute left, he closed the scoring -- and sealed the win -- with a 20-yard fade to the near left pylon, making it a 28-16 final.

"That was great to see," Branch smiled when asked about Lordi's touchdown. "Good to see that. I wish we could get our linemen to do that too."

Said H-W head coach Andrew Morency, "Tough kid. It's funny, you know, they crossed us up a little bit with that play, and in the end we felt like they had shown in films that they could have done that. You know, we got kinda caught up in the moments stopping Branch a little bit, and boom, they come back with that. He ran hard, and he got them a couple of first downs that they really needed at that time. Hats off to that fullback."

Bourque wins it, Covitz seals it for Reading

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
2:04
AM ET



READING, Mass. -- Almost as soon as the Dracut defense was called for an offsides on the would-be game-tying point after, it seemed, did Reading head coach John Fiore want a timeout. Four minutes left, down by one but now with the ball at the one, Rockets offensive coordinator Duane Sigsbury drew up a Tebow-like play that had everyone on the sideline feeling fired up.

"Let's go for it, can't second-guess it," said their 6-foot-4 senior quarterback Brian Bourque (he is a converted wideout, after all).

"Let's get these six inches and take it to Gillette," said senior right tackle Jeff Covitz.

Sigsbury called for a quarterback dive out of a goal-line shotgun formation with jumbo personnel, but rather than crouch low and try to fall forward, Bourque leaped high into the air and flopped into the end zone, sending the home-field crowd into a frenzy.

That still left Dracut with two more scoring chances, but in those final four minutes Covitz was relentless coming off the edge of the right-handed Matt Silva's front side. He recorded two sacks, including one on fourth down, to seal the 15-14 win, make it 25 straight victories for the Rockets, and send them back to Gillette Stadium to defend their Division 2 Super Bowl title against Hockomock League juggernaut Mansfield.

Fiore spoke only briefly to the media following the game, but with good intents. Draping his outstretched arms on the shoulders of his three captains -- Bourque, Covitz and Anthony Fodera -- he deferred all the credit to them and gave them the utmost praise.

"All summer long, these three guys leading everybody in the weight room, you know, doing their plyos, flipping the tires, working the 7-on-7's, playing sports together...this is just an awesome effort," Fiore beamed. "I'm so proud of them, so I'm going to let them talk, because this is their night."

And with the spotlight, Covitz deferred to late assistant coach Mike Boyd, who passed away at 29 in July of 2009 to lung cancer, and nearly a year and half later is still fresh on the team's mind. A plaque of Boyd, who won two Super Bowls during his time at Reading, still hangs in the team's locker room.

"He never quit," Covitz said, still catching his breath. "Up until the day he died, he never quit. I always think about Coach Boyd. Even when I'm exhausted, and just want to pass out right on the field, you never quit on this team. You never want to quit on your family. You never quit on coaches."

And to say the least, Covitz's shoulder was to the wheel those last four minutes, as the Middies (8-4) had two more chances to score and were stopped on both. Keith Hamel took a zone read handoff 55 yards down the right sideline on the first play of the drive following Bourque's leap, giving the Middies first and 10 at the Reading 25 with over three and a half minutes to play. But Silva was stuffed up the middle by Covitz, and watched as a perfect pass over the middle was bobbled incomplete to set up fourth and 15. Coming off the edge of Silva's front side, Covitz ripped the outside arm of his blocker and planted Silva in the turf with a textbook form tackle.

A three-and-out by Reading (12-0) gave Dracut the ball again with a minute to go and a starting drive at its own 41. After two incompletions, Silva was planted squarely in the turf again from Covitz in the same fashion. Silva then threw an incompletion on fourth.

"I've got to tip my hat to Silva," Covitz said. "Silva's an amazing player, quick in the pocket, we tried to contain him all night. I just made my way outside, and just found my way to the quarterback."

Silva, who came into the game as one of the leading scorers in Eastern Mass with 12 rushing touchdowns and 26 touchdown passes (22 to his favorite target Chris Malonis), showed throughout the game why he is one of region's the toughest quarterbacks to bring down. While on other nights it was throwing his 170-pound frame around like it was 250, on this night it was his scrambling ability when flushed out of the pocker that made him such a threat. He ended up with 82 yards passing and 92 rushing, with two touchdown passes -- both to Malonis.

The master stroke came with 4:03 left in the ballgame, when he slipped to his left and threw an off-balanced floater off his back foot as he was backpedaling away from the blitzing Troy Jones. Malonis came back to the near left pylon and, with his arms calmly oustretched by his waist, hauled in the underthrown ball and just managed to get both feet inbounds.

Bourque (129 yards passing, 67 rushing) came roaring back with a gutsy game-winning drive that was, quite frankly, all in his hands. His first four plays were all short strikes to Sean Gildea and Connor Sheehan, before calling his number three straight times. On third and one from the Dracut 29, Bourque tossed another short sideline strike to Gildea. Three plays later, Bourque capped the 11-play drive with an eight-yard scamper up the middle, setting up the heroics on the point-after.


READING 15, DRACUT 14

DRA 0 7 0 7 --- 14
REA 7 0 0 8 --- 15

First Quarter
R - Larry Gilligan 37 run (Nick Scali kick) 7:19

Second Quarter
D - Chris Malonis 8 pass from Matt Silva (Silva kick) 5:50

Fourth Quarter
D - Malonis 17 pass from Silva (Silva kick) 8:40
R - Brian Bourque 7 run (Bourque kick) 4:03

Super Silva clinches playoffs for Dracut

November, 25, 2010
11/25/10
4:38
PM ET
METHUEN, Mass. -- No one contributed more to Dracut’s 19-12 triumph over Methuen on Thanksgiving Day than senior quarterback Matt Silva.

Silva threw two touchdown passes, ran for another, made an extra-point attempt and delivered a 71-yard punt late in the fourth quarter, when the Middies were protecting a seven-point lead.

The victory improved Dracut’s record to 8-3 and earned the Middies a Division 2 playoff berth. Dracut will face Reading, champion of the Middlesex League, on Tuesday night. Reading earned a Super Bowl berth by beating Dracut 20-6 in the playoffs last season.

“This feels great,” Silva said “Everyone was doubting us, saying we didn’t have a lot coming back and that Methuen was at the top of the league this year. We showed we have the players and the coaches. We’re going back to the playoffs.”

It was a 12-12 game until Silva scored on a 2-yard run with 8:22 to play. The TD was set up by a 47-yard pass from Silva to Keith Hamel down the left sideline and came two plays after Dracut’s Greg Brody intercepted a Cal Carroll pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

Dracut trailed 12-6 at halftime, but tied the game on a broken play on its first second-half possession. Silva picked up a bad snap and was nearly sacked before he tossed the ball to Chris Malonis near the right sideline. Malonis outran the Methuen defense for a 57-yard TD.

“We didn’t really expect it to go like that,” Malonis said. “I was supposed to get the ball a lot earlier. It worked out, so it’s all good.”

Malonis, who also caught a 60-yard TD pass in the first quarter, has 20 touchdown receptions this season.

Methuen, which was seeking its first Merrimack Valley Conference championship since 1992, completed its season with a 9-2 record.

“Obviously the kid Silva made some plays,” Methuen coach Pat Graham said. “We didn’t move the ball great offensively today and we ended up with three turnovers – that hurt us. Give them some credit too. They do some pretty good things on defense.

“I thought we should have made a lot of plays earlier that we didn’t. We didn’t play well on special teams today and we had a couple breakdowns (defensively) that shouldn’t have happened.”

“It’s a special group of kids and I feel bad for them that they didn’t get this win today. They had extremely good character, they played hard and they had a great season. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t get it done today and go to the playoffs.”

Methuen made it a 6-6 game when Ryan Savastano scored on a 47-yard run with 6:01 left in the second quarter.

The Rangers took a 12-6 lead when Carroll completed a 58-yard TD pass to Eric Lacroix with 1:12 left in the half. It was his 19th touchdown pass of the season.

“I felt OK at halftime,” Dracut coach Jason Houston said. “We just had to start playing Dracut football.”

Silva completed nine of 16 passes for 216 yards in the victory, which earned Dracut its third straight Merrimack Valley Conference title. He has thrown 24 touchdown passes and run for 12 more scores this season.

“He’s a playmaker, and he made some plays today,” Houston said. “Haven’t had a chance to see a lot of Reading this year, but we’re looking forward to it.”

DRACUT 19, NO. 6 METHUEN 12

DRA 6 0 6 7 --- 19
MET 0 12 0 0 --- 12

1st quarter
D – Chris Malonis 60 pass from Matt Silva (kick blocked)

2nd quarter
M – Ryan Savastano 47 run (kick failed)
M – Eric Lacroix 58 pass from Cal Carroll (kick failed)

3rd quarter
D – Malonis 57 pass from Silva (kick blocked)

4th quarter
D – Silva 2 run (Silva kick)

What We Learned: Week 7

October, 25, 2010
10/25/10
1:41
PM ET


It was a weekend of wild finishes and even wilder individual performances, and now we're trying to make sense of it all. Here's to the week that was...

TROJANS SHOW GRIT

Dan Buron’s Bridgewater-Raynham team might have been the only concerned parties who truly believed they had a chance to knock off Xaverian on Friday.

It had been a mixed bag so far for the Trojans (5-2) who prior to their 21-19 overtime win over the Hawks had yet to win a game over an opponent that had a winning record. B-R had also incurred losses to D-IIA powers Duxbury and Plymouth North.

But let Friday’s performance be a warning to all as to how dangerous the Trojans can be.

“I told them all week long, only the guys in this room, on this football field, think we have a shot and I said if you don’t think we have a shot don’t come out with me,” Buron told The Enterprise of Brockton. “I go out to win every game.

“I told them when we came out, if you play as a team, we’ve got a shot tonight. If you play as individuals, and run around, we won’t have a shot against this team.

However, like any good football coach, Buron also warded off any question as to what the win over Xaverian meant; it was just that, a win.

“It was just a great victory for the program, but it doesn’t mean anything because we start league play next week and win or lose it doesn’t mean a thing,” Buron went on to say in The Enterprise recap. “All it does is give us confidence. Hopefully, we can use this as a catalyst to get ready for the regular season (league play).”

The Trojans host Dartmouth on Friday in their first Old Colony League contest. B-R then welcomes Barnstable — which has already pocketed two league wins after slipping by Taunton over the weekend — in what should be a make-or-break game for the OCL’s playoff berth.

PANTHERS HAVE BITE

It’s not as though Holliston isn’t accustomed to putting large results on the board, but the Panthers simply looked a little more focused entering Friday night’s game at Norton.

“We had really good week of practice and it showed,” Holliston head coach Todd Kiley said after Friday’s 42-0 win.

That sentiment has particularly rung true with the Panthers since their Week 4 loss to Medway. Since then, Holliston has picked itself up by the boot straps. Following the 28-16 loss to the Mustangs, the Panther’s attack, which has averaged 42 points per game, has put results of 42, 50 and 42 points, respectively, on the board in the last three weeks.

So it’s clear the upset at the hands of Medway has been a motivating factor.

“If anything, it made us hungrier to want to get back to the top,” Panthers quarterback Sean Mayo told ESPN Boston’s Scott Barboza. “After being the TVL champs last year, we wanted to act like that tonight. We wanted to play well and we did.

“We just want to keep getting better, get back to the playoffs and go for another TVL championship.”

And with their win over the Lancers, Holliston has put itself back in position to do so as the top four Tri-Valley League teams now stand at 6-1 with the league playoffs set to kick off in two weeks.

Certainly, Norton would like another chance to prove they’re the TVL’s top team when it really counts.

A FEW GOOD BREAKS

The animosity between bordering rivals Abington and Rockland goes deep -- decades deep -- and so Rockland running back and captain Mike Driscoll recalled the back and forth with a half-dozen friends from a town over with delight, all week.

"This rivalry is unbelievable," Driscoll said. "We were all shooting texts back and forth all week, having fun with each other. To come out and see these guys, I feel...God goes out to them. They still have a shot, though."

The Bulldogs were more than happy to escape with a win, and take sole possession of first place in the South Shore League, with a 21-12 comeback win over their archrivals. Abington held the Bulldogs to minus-12 yards of offense on six plays in the first half, but could not solve them over the game's final 15 minutes, as Rockland exploded for 235 yards and 21 unanswered points.

With time winding down in the fourth quarter, Rockland's D.J. Austin threw a flare pass into the left flat that took a backwards skip, and Abington's Dylan Pietresak pounced on the loose ball and marched 50 yards to paydirt. However, the play had been blown dead at the spot of the incompletion. Local announcers Shawn Reilly and Kevin Whalen screamed in disagreeance with the call, and it didn't help that two plays later, backup quarterback Ricky Witt came in and promptly tossed the 52-yard game-winning bomb, a wide-open strike to Tim Fitzgerald.

Asked about the call, Rockland head coach Ken Owen channeled his inner Gregg Popovich.

"The referee blew it dead, OK?" Owen deadpanned. "Next question."

But let's not totally put this on the officiating. Holding a lead late in the fourth quarter, the Green Wave had some breakdowns in the secondary. And with time winding down and half of the field to go, they should have done a better job anticipating a deep strike.

MIDDIES IN FIFTH GEAR

Any questions about Dracut's capability to put points on the board have to be shunned at this point. Last Friday, the Middies traveled to Chelmsford to take on one of the area's best defenses and promptly hung 42 on them in a dominating win. Since starting the season 0-2, they've won five straight and averaged 41.9 points per game, including 60 over Billerica. The triggerman? Who else but Matt Silva, a scrawny 170-pounder whose violent running style often leaves him limping and bracing after games. But he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I want the ball in my hands at all times," Silva told ESPNBoston's Neil Carroll. "I’m the quarterback. If I make a mistake it's my fault, if I throw an interception it's my fault, if I get sacked it's my fault."

The Middies' defense, which is allowing nearly 27 points, remains a quandary. Only Tewksbury failed to score at least three touchdowns, in a 35-14 loss two weeks ago. A trip to Andover this week before meetings with Lawrence and Haverhill should give us a better idea of Dracut's ability in that area, before they head into their Thanksgiving matchup with Methuen, a team that has eaten run defenses alive at several points this season.

EAGLES ON PERCH FOR NOW

After dealing Falmouth its first loss of the season, 28-7, Plymouth North seized the moment, climbing to the top of the Atlantic Coast League.

However, things are still wide open.

“We have three league games left and every week you play for controlling your own destiny,” Eagles head coach Dwayne Follette told correspondent Brian Fabry on Friday. “We talked [last season's loss] up, but this was a big enough game that we didn't need the extra motivation.

While Plymouth North assumes the perch for now, the road to the ACL title will likely run through Dennis-Yarmouth, as both the Eagles and Clippers still have yet to play the Dolphins. Looking beyond the aforementioned, Marshfield (although they stand at 3-4 overall) also could still get in the fray, if they take care of business against Falmouth this weekend.

Additionally, Friday’s loss could prove a bit more costly for Falmouth if the injury to Clippers running back Nelson Baptiste, sustained during the upset against Plymouth North, has any long-term implications. That is a situation that also bears watching.

HEAD OF THE CLASS

VALVOLINE PEAK PERFORMER OF THE WEEK: BEN PATRICK, SR. RB, RIVERS
The Roxbury resident torched Milton Academy for 325 yards on 26 carries and six touchdowns, both school records, in a 69-40 shootout win Saturday night at Milton High School. Through five games, the 5-foot-9 senior has rushed for at least 200 yards in every game, and piled up 1,162 yards on 112 carries for an average of 10.3 yards a carry. With the performance, Patrick has now clinched 5-0 Rivers its first winning season since 1982. But with these kinds of performances each week from Patrick and his cousin Taariq Allen (718 yards of offense), the Red Wings are thinking NEPSAC Bowls.

THE CLASSMATES

Chris Coady, Jr. RB/LB, BB&N - The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior carried 31 times for 284 yards in a 21-14 win over Groton School.

Brett Kidik, Sr. QB, Bishop Fenwick - In a record-setting day, Kidik threw for 389 yards and six touchdowns in the Crusaders' 44-40 win over Archbishop Williams.

Connor Reardon, Jr. RB, Littleton - Reardon carried the day for the Tigers, carrying the ball 23 times for 232 yards and four touchdowns in a 39-26 shootout win over Bay Path.

Oshane McCreath, Jr. RB, Malden - McCreath ran for 260 yards and four touchdowns in a 36-7 win over Cambridge that improved the Golden Tornadoes to 3-4.

Kyle Murray, Jr. RB, Mashpee - In a 41-12 win over Carver, Murray carved up the defense to the tune of 239 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.

Quinton Perkins, Jr. ATH, Fitchburg - The speedy junior showed off his wheels in a variety of ways in the Red Raiders' 38-19 win over Shrewsbury. Perkins accumulated 239 all-purpose yards and scored in four different ways -- running, receiving, passing and a fumble recovery.

Melquan Pinkney, Sr. RB, Springfield Putnam - Pinkney dominated Ludlow in a 46-6 win last Friday, totaling 270 yards and four touchdowns. Even more impressive, he racked up 192 yards on five carries in the first quarter.

Mike Ozella, Sr. RB, Medway - Ozella turned in another strong performance for the Mustangs, rushing for 207 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-6 win over Hopkinton.

Matt Silva, Sr. QB, Dracut - The tough-minded senior would not be stopped in Friday's 42-21 win over Chelmsford, completig 12 of 19 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns, and carrying 13 times for 100 yards and two more scores.

Ben Ticknor, Sr. RB, Milton Academy - Ticknor was strong in his own right in the Mustangs' 69-40 loss to Rivers, carrying 21 times for 341 yards and five touchdowns, including a run of 94 yards.

Silva claws No. 23 Dracut to another upset

October, 23, 2010
10/23/10
1:08
AM ET
CHELMSFORD, Mass. -- Dracut High senior Matt Silva had been leveled, smashed, kneed and elbowed all night by a gritty Chelmsford defense.

After an eight-yard run to the heart of the Lions’ defense in the fourth quarter, the quarterback took a well-deserved walk to the sidelines while favoring his ribs.

He dropped to a knee and succumbed to the pain that he had felt all night. However, after the ever-vocal quarterbacks coach Bobby Russo gave him a few words of encouragement, Silva looked up at the scoreboard and the pain seemed to evaporate.

The No. 23 Dracut Middies (5-2, 1-0 Merrimack Valley Conference - Small) were on their way to a 42-21 upset of No. 13 Chelmsford (5-2, 1-0 MVC - Large) on the road, and all the hard work the Middies had put in had paid off.

"We don’t let them get big heads," said Dracut head coach Jason Houston of his team. "We knock them down in practice all week long...but this is a good group of kids. They all work hard."

Silva led his team against a physical defense and had to earn every yard he got on the ground -- all 100 of them. The Dracut captain ran 13 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns and completed 12 of 19 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns.

His favorite target -- wide receiver Chris Malonis -- finished the game with seven catches for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Malonis also had an interception on defense.

Chelmsford keyed in on Silva all night. The Lions hit him when he had the ball, handed it off and even after he threw it -- yet Houston basically had to pry the ball from Silva’s hands when he was injured in the fourth quarter. He simply did not want to give up the reigns.

"I want the ball in my hands at all times," Silva professed about his playing style. "I’m the quarterback. If I make a mistake it's my fault, if I throw an interception it's my fault, if I get sacked it's my fault.

"I believe I have the best offensive line in the state, and they really stepped up tonight."

Chelmsford’s Tim Joy blitzed Silva frequently, but the offensive line stepped up to the task. Joy finished with 10 tackles and an interception. The interception came after he faked a blitz and creeped back into coverage while Silva was focusing on evading the Chelmsford defensive line.

The Middies had excellent line play on both sides of the ball.

Although Chelmsford’s Joe Gennaro ran the ball 10 times for 92 yards in the first half, Dracut’s defense limited him to 36 yards in the second half. Gennaro was injured coming into the week but looked fine at tailback.

As the Middies' lead grew larger in the second half, Chelmsford tried to score quickly by taking the ball to the air. Quarterback AJ Rotella completed nine of 23 passes for 109 yards with two interceptions.

The Lions also tried to find success on offense with Eddie Sheridan. The junior running back, who fits the Gennaro mould in Chelmsford’s offense, had five carries for 65 yards and one touchdown.

The two teams put on a back-and-forth battle late in the second quarter that could have been the turning point in the game.

Dracut had a 6-play drive culminate in a touchdown to take a 14-7 lead, but then let Chelmsford tied the game five plays later at 14 with four minutes, two seconds remaining in the half.

The Middies responded quickly with a 3-play drive just over a minute later, and then made it a 2-possession game after sophomore Zach Bassett intercepted Rotella on Chelmsford’s first play of the drive.

Dracut’s upset of Chelmsford came at the cost of a lot of bruises on Friday night, but after an 0-2 start to the season, the Middies will take a few bumps to get a few wins down the stretch.

NO. 23 DRACUT 42, NO. 13 CHELMSFORD 21

DRA 0 28 7 7 --- 42
CHE 7 7 0 7 --- 21

First Quarter
C - Joe Gennaro 2 run (Charlie Calenda kick)

Second Quarter

D - Chris Malonis 18 catch from Matt Silva (Silva kick)
D - Silva 1 run (Silva kick)
C - Eddie Sheridan 12 run (Calenda kick)
D - Silva 41 run (Silva kick)
D - Zach Bassett 16 interception return (Silva kick)

Third Quarter
D - Malonis 86 catch from Silva (Silva kick)

Fourth Quarter
C - Gennaro 1 run (Calenda kick)
D - Malonis 27 catch from Silva (Silva kick)

What We Learned: Week 5

October, 11, 2010
10/11/10
2:14
PM ET





Another Monday, another wrap up of another stellar week of football. Here's a look back at the weekend that was, and what we've learned...

METHUEN'S OFFENSIVE LINE IS GOOD. LIKE, '97 BRONCOS GOOD.
"Best offensive line in the state," repeated Ryan Savastano to reporters, after marching his Methuen Rangers teammates to a 31-21 win over Chelmsford, to the tune of 223 yards on 32 carries.

Sometimes the o-line shoutouts can be a forced axiom grilled into a kid's head from the coaching staff -- mention the line, mention the line! -- but in Methuen's case, these are far from canned quotes.

With quarterback Cal Carroll treading carefully with a hairline fracture on his left (non-throwing) thumb, the Rangers dialed up inside zone runs almost exclusively against their Merrimack Valley Large counterparts. The gameplan was methodical and pretty simplistic -- Savastano zone left, Savastano zone right, Carroll keeper, vertical pass, rinse and repeat -- and yet Chelmsford's vaunted defense, hailed by some as one of the state's best, struggled all night to put a helmet on the ball carrier on running plays.

Led by Steve DiZazzo and Dan Cormier on the left, and Sean Whittaker on the right, the senior-laden line has excelled in a zone-blocking scheme. With a linebacking corps as active at Chelmsford's, led by Zach Hayes and monster middleman Tim Joy, the Rangers often chipped off double-team blocks and accelerated downhill to drive the outside shoulder of a linebacker or defensive back away from the play. Sometimes, though, they simply pushed back the defensive linemen right into linebackers.

"I thought the o-line got some great push," Methuen head coach Pat Graham said. "It was probably tough for Tim (Joy), with the d-linemen getting knocked back into him a little bit, I'm sure it was tough for him to try and find the running back. Ryan's just a little guy, he's behind all those big guys, it's just tough to find him sometimes. But the big thing is our o-line got a great push up front."

Graham, one of the area's best coaching minds, has kept his quotes pretty vanilla and straightforward so far this season, to keep his players grounded and focused. But after a win as impressive as last Friday's, even Graham has to let out a sigh and a smile.

"Chelmsford's one of the best teams, year in and year out, in the state," he beamed. "It's a great feeling."

...ALL OF WHICH MAKES PLYMOUTH NORTH'S WEEK ONE WIN OVER THE RANGERS THAT MUCH MORE IMPRESSIVE
The Eagles, led by ice-in-his-veins running back Matt Walsh, are essentially a muffed two-point conversion attempt from being 4-1 and an ESPNBoston Top 25 team. In Week One, North held the Rangers to just one touchdown, and escaped with a 13-7 win thanks to a 70-yard Walsh touchdown run with four minutes and change to go.

Last Friday, it was Cody Merritt providing the spark, scoring three times (two rushing, one receiving) to lead the Eagles to an impressive 20-7 win over Bridgewater-Raynham.

Week by week, as the Rangers continue to pound away at the MVC's best and brightest, that is looking more and more intriguing.

JUST HOW GOOD IS ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY?
The No. 3 Pioneers lambasted cross-town rival Shrewsbury High, 52-7, their second straight week hanging half-a-hundred on the opposition. That brings their scoring margin through five games to 221-34, with a state-best average of 44.2 points per game.

A quick look inside the numbers:
  • Yards per game: 372.6
  • Yards allowed per game: 243
  • Points allowed per game: 6.8
  • Dan Light, Sr. QB: 48 carries, 426 yards, 8 TD; 44 of 77 passing, 935 yards, 15 TD, 3 INT
  • Richard Rodgers, Sr. WR/DE: 18 catches, 372 yards, 7 TD; 5 sacks

In Week Two, the Pioneers pasted Longmeadow, 37-8; the Lancers visited Catholic Memorial last Friday and beat them on a last-second field goal, 27-26. Two weeks ago, St. John's clobbered Fitchburg, 56-12, in the rain; last Friday, the Red Raiders almost beat Brockton, faltering in the fourth quarter.

We'll see just how good the Pioneers are this Saturday, when they travel to St. John's Prep to take on the No. 16 Eagles, and on October 30, when they host No. 1 Xaverian.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Akin to Aretha Franklin, or that old Adam Sandler album skit, Norton is just asking for a little of it these days.

"We didn’t get shown much respect in our league and everyone thought Westwood was going to beat us," Lancers junior running back Zach Schweiger told correspondent Phil Perry on Friday. "Everyone thought their big running back [Sean Amaru] was going to do a whole bunch against us but we shut him down and executed on offense."

With a convincing 28-6 win over Westwood, the Lancers have certainly earned it, sitting at 5-0 and the prohibitive favorites to win the Tri-Valley League.

Norton stands a game ahead of Holliston, Medway and Westwood (all 4-1). Perhaps, more importantly, the Lancers now have recorded wins over Medway and Westwood with only an Oct. 22 date with the Panthers remaining on their slate.

ROUGH AND TUMBLE SOUTH SHORE
Speaking of potential Division IIIA playoff scenarios, it’s anybody’s guess which team will survive what has shaped up to be a very tough South Shore League.

Cohasset (5-0) remained unbeaten against another formerly unbeaten squad in an upstart East Bridgewater team Friday night behind Thomas Flibotte’s 101 yards on 18 carries. Meanwhile, Rockland (28-0 win over Hull) and Abington (34-0 whitewashing of Carver) also improved to 5-0.

However, things at the top could sort themselves out pretty quickly as the Skippers host Rockland this weekend (Friday, 6 p.m.) and the Green Wave travels for a tough road game at Masphee (4-1, 1-1) Friday at 7 p.m.

All will be appointment viewing.

DOUBLE DRAGONS
The play of Duxbury quarterbacks Matt O’Keefe and Kane Haffey puts head coach Dave Maimaron in an enviable position every weekend.

Typically, O’Keefe and Haffey split time under center. They have combined for a .567 completion percentage and have both had success moving the ball down the field. On the season, O’Keefe has completed 31 of 48 pass attempts for 449 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. Haffey has gone 37-of-72 for 490 yards, five touchdowns and one pick.

But Maimaron’s depth at quarterback only helps when the injury bug comes calling.

When it became apparent Haffey wasn’t going to be able to go in Friday’s game at Quincy, there was no sweat calling upon O’Keefe to carry the load. The junior responded with a 242-passing yard performance and accounting for all of the Dragons’ five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing).

HEAD OF THE CLASS
VALVOLINE PEAK PERFORMER OF THE WEEK: TYLER COPPOLA, SR. RB/DB, ST. JOHN'S PREP

What else is there to say after a performance as dynamic as Coppola's? Last Saturday against visiting Mount St. Joseph of Baltimore, the senior carried 19 times for 338 yards and five touchdowns, with all five of his scores coming on runs of 42 yards or more. Adding in return yardage, he finished the day with 473 all-purpose yards and a long ride home for the visiting Gaels. Yep, not a whole lot of hyperbole needed after this one, but with a day like that, credit is due to the Eagles' offensive line led by Nathan Cyr.

THE CLASSMATES
Brian Bourque, Sr. QB, Reading - He totaled 183 yards of offense (135 passing) and four touchdowns as the Rockets cruised to a 42-0 beatdown of Wakefield.

Jonathan DiBiaso, Jr. QB, Everett - The coach's son threw for six touchdown passes in the first half of a 42-7 win over Taunton, breaking two school records in the process -- passing touchdowns in a game and one half (himself, two weeks ago against Barnstable), and career touchdown passes (now at 34, breaking Matt Nuzzo's mark of 31 set earlier this millennium).

Chris Coady, Jr. RB/LB, BB&N - Coady was omnipresent in the Knights' 33-28 win over Governor's Academy. He carried the ball 18 times for 86 yards and a score; caught three passes for 63 yards and a second score; made seven tackles on defense; and returned an interception to the house for a third and final score.

Dylan Colarusso, Sr. RB, Weymouth - The hard-nosed Colarusso bulldozed his way to 220 rushing yards and two touchdowns as the Wildcats rolled to a 43-0 shutout of Dedham.

Alex Furtado, Sr. RB, Archbishop Williams - Furtado led the Bishops with 236 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries in a 32-22 win over Whittier Tech.

Matt O'Keefe, Jr. QB, Duxbury - With injured quarterback Kane Haffey on the mend, O'Keefe stepped up and threw for 237 yards and five scores (four passing, one rushing) in the Green Dragons' 35-7 win over Quincy.

Trevon Offley, Sr. RB, Brockton - The hard-running Offley ran for 217 yards and two scores in the Boxers' 27-20 win over regional rival Fitchburg.

Nate Robitaille, Sr. QB, Attleboro - Another week, more heroics. This time, he carried the ball seven times for 132 yards and a score; and completed 10 of 26 passes for 178 yards and two scores, including the game-winner with time expired, as the Blue Bombardiers downed Foxborough, 26-24.

Ryan Savastano, Jr. RB, Methuen - The diminutive Savastano carried the ball 32 times for 223 yards and two touchdowns in the Rangers' 31-21 win over Chelmsford.

Matt Silva, Sr. QB, Dracut - In yet another shootout, this time a 45-35 win over Lowell and old coach Jeff Moore, Silva threw for 171 yards and two scores, and ran for 213 more and a third score.

Kenny Woods and Troy Salvatore, Sr. RB's, Walpole - The two combined for 325 yards rushing and five touchdowns in the Rebels' 34-21 win over Braintree.

Peak Performers: Dracut's talented duo

October, 4, 2010
10/04/10
8:06
PM ET


How can you separate one from the other? It's impossible.

So we decided for the first time to award two Peak Performer of the Week Awards, presented by Valvoline, this week to honor both Dracut quarterback Matt Silva and receiver Chris Malonis.

In the Middies' 60-42 win over Billerica, Silva threw for 262 yards and four touchdowns. Malonis was on the receiving end of each of those scores and hauled in seven catches for 252 of those yards.

Silva, who racked up 372 yards of offense, also ran for 110 yards with a rushing touchdown. Malonis also pulled double duty with his 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

What We Learned: Week 4

October, 4, 2010
10/04/10
3:15
PM ET
Better hold on to your hats.

That was the theme of Week 4 of the local high school football schedule from the perspective of weather and its results. Driving rains and howling winds across Southern New England had many of Friday’s games washed out and moved to Saturday. For those who remained steadfast in their Friday schedules or kicked off on Saturday, there were plenty of upsets to be had and much on the line.

Here’s what we learned from this weekend’s action:

The good ship Falmouth

Down 15-0 at halftime? No problem. Thirty-six players on your sideline? That’s enough. Falmouth has now made “upset” wins over BC High old hat.

It was the first time that a Catholic Conference team had traveled to the Cape in more than a decade. And coming off of last year’s 22-20 loss to the Clippers, the Eagles had plenty of motivation to return the favor to what Falmouth had done on their turf last year.

Yet, somehow, the Clippers found a way to win. They weren’t just playing for themselves and for their teammates, they were playing for the entirety of football on the Cape. That perceived no man’s land of football has now definitively proven it is a force.

“Everybody thinks that because we’re from Cape Cod that we don’t know how to play football,” senior Nelson Baptiste told ESPN Boston’s Brendan Hall on Thursday.

Things didn’t look good for Falmouth’s chances early, as BC High running back Preston Cooper (two rushing touchdowns, 2-point conversion) accounted for all but one of the Eagles’ 15 first-half points. BC High’s front also bottled up the Clippers’ option attack, holding Falmouth to just seven offensive plays in the half.

In the second half, Clippers head coach Steve Femino relied on a couple his less-heralded players to lead the charge in the second half.

Bobby Whelan led the rushing attack with 14 carries for 110 yards and touchdown — all coming in the second half. His 21-yard carry on his first touch of the game in the third quarter set the tone for what was to come.

After a Dillon Mansfield score made it 15-14, Falmouth looked for its defense to make a stand.

The Clippers forced the Eagles three-and-out with two plays for negative yardage, as Tyrone Reine and Jonah Olsen make tackles for a loss. Then, it was junior corner Devon Soares who left his imprint with two interceptions on successive BC High drives to close out the win.

“Devon Soares has been our biggest surprise of the year,” Femino said. “He’s not the biggest kid and some teams look to pick on him because [Nelson] Baptiste is on the other side. But he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and he’s been a great surprise for us.”

Though we shouldn’t be surprised about anything the Clippers accomplish from here on out.

Armani Reeves is a big-time player with prime-time speed

Asked about the performance his star junior had just put on in a big win over New Hampshire power Bishop Guertin, Catholic Memorial head coach Alex Campea could only exhale deeply as he beamed, draping a hand on Armani Reeves' shoulder.

"This guy can make it happen, this guy can make it happen," he repeated to ESPNBoston's Brendan Hall. "Listen, we have some good players, and tonight in a big game they shone through -- making big catches, big plays, offensively and defensively. But I'm glad we have him. He competes every snap of every game."

We've previously held Reeves -- who lines up at both wide receiver and running back, and also returns kicks and punts -- in high regard. But last weekend's performance (193 all-purpose yards, three touchdowns) affirms everything.

Reeves currently holds scholarship offers from Penn State, UConn, Wake Forest and UMass, but we expect more to roll in as more and more coaches discover what a special athlete this kid is.

TVL up for grabs

Holliston entered Friday night’s tilt with Tri-Valley League rival Medway looking as though they might run away and hide with the league title. The Panthers were averaging 48 points per game before they met the Mustangs’ defense and met their first loss of the season in a 28-16 win over Holliston.

"I think it showed a lot of character that we were down 10 to nothing," Medway coach Dave McSweeney told ESPN Boston correspondent Neil Carroll on Friday. "We didn’t panic and we made plays when we had to. Michael [Ozella] broke a nice run off that set up the last second pass so we kind of lucked out there, but I’ll take it anyway we can get it."

With the win, Medway threw the TVL standings for a loop, drawing even with Holliston at 3-1 in league play. Both teams stand a game behind Westwood and Norton, who both improved to 4-0 on the weekend. Norton dispatched Medway in Week One, 23-14, but Westwood looms on the schedules of both the Panthers and Mustangs.

So things are about to get really interesting.

Is the Bay State Carey wrapped up?...

So we’re not about to go Gore v. Bush in this space, but it’s hard to not look at Weymouth’s convincing 26-0 whitewashing of Needham as a huge leap forward to deciding the Bay State Carey.

Once again, the Super Colarusso Bros. (Can we get a video game in development for these guys yet?) led the way, combining for 225 yards and four touchdowns.

"This is not a league title tonight," Weymouth head coach Kevin Mackin told our Phil Perry on Friday, tempering the hype. "It certainly puts us in a good spot, but we've got to continue to work because there are other good teams here."

...One things's for certain: the Merrimack Valley Conference isn't


In Jason Houston's first year as an assistant at Dracut back in 2004, he watched as the Middies lost a 63-46 shootout to Division 1A Super Bowl runner-up Chelmsford. Now six years later, Houston won his second career game as head coach -- and his second in as many weeks over a previously-ranked opponent -- by flipping the switch, his team rolling to a 60-42 win over Billerica behind big nights from quarterback Matt Silva (8 of 12 passing, 262 yards, four touchdowns; 17 carries, 110 yards, touchdown), wide receiver Chris Malonis (seven catches, 252 yards, four touchdowns; 95-yard kickoff return touchdown) and running back Keith Hamel (20 carries, 121 yards, three touchdowns).

Dracut, by the way, wasn't even the favorite in the MVC Small headed into the season. Heck, they could very well end up 7-4 or 6-5 in this kind of daunting league schedule.

"In my opinion, top to bottom, this is the toughest league in the state," said Houston, who himself won an MVC title quarterbacking Lowell in the late 90s.

Central showdown

Looking ahead to next weekend, among the things we’ll be watching is the matchup of Central unbeatens No. 17 Auburn and Northbridge. Both teams enter at 4-0 and hope to keep their marks unblemished. But the Rockets have an extra motivation in keeping their state-best 28-game win streak in tact.

However, Auburn’s already had a couple of brushes this season. The Rockets slipped by Shrewsbury, 6-2, in Week One and escaped 19-15 this weekend’s test against Hudson. No doubt Northbridge, which enters the game averaging nearly 29 points per game, will be looking to be the team to finish the deed.

HEAD OF THE CLASS

VALVOLINE CO-PEAK PERFORMERS OF THE WEEK: MATT SILVA, SR. QB, AND CHRIS MALONIS, SR. WR, DRACUT

Talk about an offensive explosion. Silva accounted for 372 yards of offense (262 passing, 110 rushing) and five total touchdowns, linking up with Malonis (seven catches, 252 yards) for all four of his touchdown passes, as the Middies survived a Wild West 60-42 shootout with Billerica. Since losing to Westford 27-13 in Week 2, the Middies have exploded, averaging 43.5 points per game and knocking off previously-ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks. Think things are clicking up on Route 38?

THE CLASSMATES

Sean Amaru, Sr. RB, Westwood - The speedy Amaru led the Wolverines with 340 yards rushing on 18 carries and six touchdowns, in an easy 48-24 dispatching of Millis/Hopedale.

Andrew Coke, Jr. RB, Andover - For the second straight week, Coke eclipsed the 200-yard mark on the ground, this time rushing for 214 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries in the Warriors' 31-0 win over Haverhill -- in pouring rain, no less. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Coke has accumulated 450 yards and nine touchdowns in the last two weeks.

Matt Costello, Sr. WR, Everett - Costello had a dominant afternoon for the Crimson Tide in their 43-14 win over Barnstable, catching eight balls for 203 yards and four scores.

Nate Costello, Sr. RB, Assabet Valley Tech - The senior ran for 232 yards and three scores for the Aztecs, who cruised to a 48-8 win over Nashoba Tech.

Tyllor MacDonald, Sr. QB, Lynn English - The 6-foot-1 MacDonald threw for 263 yards and four scores, ran for 74 yards and three more scores, and added an interception on defense to lead the Bulldogs in a 47-16 win over Danvers.

John Page, Sr. RB, Bourne - Page ran for 243 yards and four scores in the Canalmen's 42-14 win over Coyle-Cassidy.

Nick Schlatz, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham - Schlatz carries 18 times for 211 yards and four scores as the Trojans rolled to a 42-14 win over New Bedford.

Mike Walsh, Jr. QB, Swampscott
- Down 34-14 at the half, Walsh rallied the Big Blue to a stunning comeback over Revere, tossing for three touchdowns and finishing the day 25 of 43 for 322 yards passing. He threw the game-winning score with 16 seconds left, and the Big Blue converted the two-point try for the 43-42 win.

Houston takes first win over No. 21 CC

September, 24, 2010
9/24/10
11:42
PM ET
DRACUT, Mass. -- It was a special victory for head coach Jason Houston of the Dracut Middies on Friday night.

Dracut not only beat league-rival No. 21 Central Catholic, 27-14, but the team also garnered its first win of the season, and in doing so -- earned Houston the first win of his career.

The Middies cruised in the victory, going up 27-0 until the Raiders tacked on 14 points to end the game.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Houston about his inaugural victory at the helm for the Middies. “It’s Central Catholic -- a league opponent -- and this is the second time we’ve beat them in 22 years. It’s nice to know we can come in and beat a team that has really had our number over the years.”

Houston did a solid job coaching a young defense that is missing three linebackers due to injury. The defense set the tone on the first drive when junior A.J. Proia intercepted Central Catholic’s Matt McDermott, and the Dracut offense capitalized and never looked back.

“It feels a lot better than I thought it would,” Houston said. “This is a lot better than I really thought it would be. The guys gave me the game ball for my first career victory, and it doesn’t get any better than to win your first game against a league opponent.”

Dracut’s Matt Silva was impressive managing the game. The quarterback completed 12 of 17 passes for 126 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

“The seniors couldn’t start off 0-3,” Silva said about the group’s determination. “We’re too good of a program…we had to get it done tonight and we were determined that we were going to win.”

Silva’s 27-yard touchdown strike was to his favorite target, Chris Malonis. Malonis finished the game with six catches for 59 yards and one touchdown.

“Silva always gives it his all,” Malonis said . “He’s the one who carries us every single game and this one goes to him and the line.”

Keith Hamel and Kevin Bishop were especially efficient with the ball for Dracut. Hamel had two touchdowns of fewer than three yards and Bishop had a 1-yard score to begin the game.

As the team has done all-season, Central Catholic substituted quarterbacks each series. McDermott started the game for the Raiders, but Ben Onett rotated in.

McDermott hit Xavier Peralta over the middle in the fourth quarter to give Central Catholic its second touchdown. Running back Trae Musumarra scored the first touchdown for the Raiders on a 6-yard run.

DRACUT 27, CENTRAL CATHOLIC 14
D - 7 7 7 6 -- 27
CC - 0 0 0 14 -- 14

1st quarter:
D - Kevin Bishop 1 run (Matt Silva kick)

2nd quarter:
D - Keith Hamel 3 run (Silva kick)

3rd quater:
D - Keith Hamel 3 run (Silva kick)

4th quarter:
D - Chris Malonis 27 catch from Silva (kick failed)
C - Trae Musumarra 6 run (Cam Walsh kick)
C - Xavier Peralta 27 catch from Matt McDermott (Walsh kick)

Dracut's miscues, Marshfield's good fortune

September, 12, 2010
9/12/10
1:39
AM ET


MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Jonathan Fraser was Mr. Opportunity on Saturday. When the opportunities came knocking in Marshfield’s season-opener versus Dracut, Fraser seized upon them.

After falling behind 7-0 to the Middies, it came on a play call that was a variation of the old halfback option pass. Later, it came on a loose ball Fraser scooped up and took 68 yards to put the Rams on top.

In a microcosm, Fraser’s contributions were telling of how Marshfield claimed its 33-20 win. The Rams made plays and Dracut was the team shooting itself in the foot.

“We didn’t know what to expect tonight,” Rams head coach Lou Silva said. “Based on last year and what we had coming back, we really weren’t sure. I was really proud of our kids tonight. There were a couple of times they could’ve folded, but they hung in there.”

Marshfield (1-0), the defending Eastern Mass Division IIA champions, lost 24 players from last year’s squad and will rely on players like Fraser to make plays this season.

The first chance to do so came on a pass from Charles LaPaglia — the Rams’ starting tight end. LaPaglia split out wide and took a swing pass from quarterback Mark Pomella. He then faked the run, pulled back and hit Fraser in stride for a 35-yard touchdown.

“We practiced that play all week,” Fraser said. “We knew it was coming. There’s a little pressure to think about having the ball in the air all that time, but we nailed it.

“We’ve run variations of it [in the past], but I didn’t think they were expecting for our starting tight end to be able to throw the ball that far.”

Fraser made his next big play on the ensuing drive, a 68-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.

“Our middle linebacker Joe Hastry made a nice strip on the ball and it came right up to me,” Fraser said. “It was a like a routine ground ball, then I just had to beat that guy to the end zone.”

Marshfield held a 20-7 halftime lead despite accruing just 64 yards of total offense in the first half.

But Dracut (0-1) looked poised for a comeback at the start of the second half. Senior quarterback Matt Silva hooked up with running back Keith Hamel on an 81-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter.

Silva accounted for each of the Middies’ three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) while completing 16 of 25 passing attempts for 267 yards. He also registered 16 carries for 72 yards.

But the Rams’ bend-but-don’t-break defense held just enough to secure the win, creating turnovers at opportune times — such as Fraser’s fumble recovery and a fourth-quarter interception by LaPaglia to stall a promising Dracut drive.

“We just wanted to make them work for it,” Silva said. “We knew that they were going to move the ball, we just didn’t want to give them home runs. But they did have two of them.”

Running back Brian Mey, who also had an interception, added two second-half touchdown runs to put the game out of reach.

For Dracut, there were just too many miscues to win.

The Middies muffed a punt return (with a Marshfield recovery by Zackary Pappas), which led to the first Rams’ touchdown, and also had a punt blocked (by LaPaglia — what didn’t he do?) that set up a drive which yielded a 5-yard Tom Pomella touchdown run.

“We had a punt blocked, we had a muffed punt, there were too many mistakes,” said Jason Houston, who was coaching his first game as the Middies’ helmsman. “They came back and scored off of those mistakes and if you looked at the scoreboard, it made a difference in a big way.”

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