Boston High School: Matt Stapleton

Recap: No. 4 Xaverian 31, No. 14 Brockton 0

September, 24, 2011
WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Over the years, Xaverian has won many games with field position and defense.

Saturday at the Hawk Bowl, the hosts dominated both facets of the game in the first half then turned on its offense for a 31-0 rout of Brockton.

No. 4 Xaverian started five first-half possessions on the Boxer side of the field and forced four turnovers - two fumble recoveries and two interceptions - to build a 17-0 halftime edge.

The Hawks have now won five straight in the storied series (leading 15-13 all-time), the longest win streak by either side since the Boxers took the first six when the rivalry was renewed in 1988. It also marked the program’s first shutout win over No. 14 Brockton and largest margin of victory.

Senior kicker Jules Murphy consistently pinned the Boxers back inside their own end and the defense took care of the rest. Brockton gained a total of 116 yards against the Xaverian first-team defense and ran a total of eight plays from scrimmage in Hawk territory.

The Xaverian (3-0) offense, which sputtered at times in the first half and struggled to gain 75 yards against an active Boxer front, found its rhythm in the second half and compiled 197 yards in the final 22 minutes. Senior quarterback Chris Calvanese completed 7-of-12 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown and the Hawks marched 93 yards on 17 plays entirely on the ground to finish off the scoring when Hunter Taute plowed in from a yard out with 2:55 to play.

This one wasn’t pretty for the Boxers (1-2), whose offense was shut out for the second time in three games. The last time Brockton has been shut out at least twice in the same season was 1969.

Some quick-hitters on Xaverian’s historical drubbing of the reeling Boxers:

The Hawks always seem to have good kickers and Murphy certainly can add his name to the list of scholarship-level boots that includes Jon Barker (Syracuse) and Paul Asack (Duke). You can make the case that Murphy was Xaverian’s MVP, although coach Charlie Stevenson gave the game ball to junior guard Ray Gobbi, who is from Brockton. Every single one of Murphy’s kickoffs either went inside the 5-yard line or the end zone. He had a 57-yard punt that helped set up Xaverian’s first touchdown, a drive that started on the Brockton 32. He was also perfect on four PATs and drilled a 38-yard field goal that may have been good from 50. On Xaverian’s final drive, Murphy kicked a 26-yarder but was roughed by a Brockton player and was groggy coming off the field. The Hawks, clearly enraged by the vicious hit on the defenseless player, sent their offense back on the field and went for the score, Taute’s 1-yard run. Murphy came back out, pounded out the PAT and then boomed the ensuing kickoff to the very back of the end zone, where Brockton’s Jesse Monteiro ran it out to the 15. That kickoff may have drawn the loudest ovation from the Hawk sideline.

Stevenson said after the game he isn’t quite satisfied with the offense yet, which struggled to move the ball in the first half before breaking out in the second. But he has to be impressed with where his defense is at the moment. Start with the defensive line, where junior tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. pretty much demands a double team and fellow tackle Kevin Painten and ends Matt Stapleton and Colby Enegren are no slouches. He recovered a fumble on one of two bad exchanges that he forces simply because he is so quick off the snap that it creates a panic-snap from the center. Then you have to account for middle linebacker Hunter Taute, a 6-foot-2, 235-pounder with great feet who is as comfortable in coverage as he is sticking running backs up the gut. And then you have an entirely-new secondary that hasn’t missed a beat despite losing UNH-offered safety Ryan Farrell to injury. Calvanese plays back there now and is doing an excellent job, but can you imagine how good this defense - which has given up 12 points in three games - would be if they had him? Scary. Seniors Zach Maiuri and Mike Warren are also playing terrific in that almost completely inexperienced defensive backfield and sophomore outside linebacker Shayne Kaminski already looks comfortable in a varsity uniform, making an interception in the first half.

The Boxers looked bad Saturday, but there may be hope for the offense if the Boxers can cut out the turnovers. Ball security as a whole was woeful. An improvement in that area alone will do wonders for a unit that has not shown the big-play ability that the program is known for. The defense actually played well in the first half considering how badly its back was against the wall. Still, the overriding challenge for coach Peter Colombo is to somehow keep the morale on this team from falling apart. If this squad has any senior leadership it needs to step up now and keep this season, filled with so much promise in August, from falling apart before October, as the Boxers travel up to Danvers next week to face a just-as-desperate St. John’s Prep team.

Brockton (1-2) 0 0 0 0 - 0
Xaverian (0-3) 7 10 7 7 - 31

First Quarter
X - Zach Maiuri 4 run (Jules Murphy kick)

Second Quarter
X - Hunter Taute 3 run (Murphy kick)
X - Murphy 38 FG

Third Quarter
X - DJ Pagliuca 47 pass from Chris Calvanese (Murphy kick)

Fourth Quarter
X - Taute 1 run (Murphy kick)

No. 7 Xaverian playing role of...underdog?

September, 2, 2011
Xaverian went into Thanksgiving last year with a chance to win the Catholic Conference for the second straight season to defend their Division 1 EMass Super Bowl crown.

Then St. John’s Prep came to the Hawk Bowl and pushed Xaverian around up and down the field, throwing just one pass on a spiked ball, to the tune of a 21-12 victory that sent the hosts home to watch their heated rival go to Gillette Stadium instead of them.

This year, the target is not placed squarely on the back of the Hawks, who check in behind fellow Catholic Conference members BC High and Catholic Memorial as the No. 7 team in the state. With the depth and talent in the Catholic Conference this year though, the Hawks could finish anywhere from first to fourth.

“The Catholic Conference is as strong as it’s been in 10 years,” said one rival assistant coach during the off-season.

That same coach said, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ‘X’ shock people (and win the Division 1 Super Bowl).”

Given Xaverian’s history, with four Super Bowl titles in the 1990s under coach Charlie Stevenson and another in 2009, that would hardly be a shock. But for the first time in at least 25 years, the top two favorites heading into the preseason for Catholic Conference play include neither Xaverian or St. John’s Prep.

That is something that Stevenson is smiling about as his team is up at camp in New Hampshire preparing to “shock people.”

The Hawks may not be coming into this season as the favorites, but that doesn’t mean the target on their backs have gone anywhere.

This year, that target will be in the crosshairs of non-league teams like preseason No. 5 Brockton in Week 3, a 23-20 double-overtime loser to the Hawks at Clapboardtree Street a year ago; No. 2 Duxbury, a Division 2 juggernaut capable of playing with anyone and in the state; Bridgewater-Raynham, the No. 8 team in the state and owners of a victory over Xaverian last year; and No. 9 St. John’s of Shrewsbury, a Central Massachusetts powerhouse that has beaten Xaverian just once in the modern era but come closer and closer in the last several years to the point where it is more of a rivalry.

Then, of course, the final three games of the season bring out the same quote by every coach in that league: “every game is a championship game.”

For Xaverian, the Hawks travel to BC High, host Catholic Memorial, then visit the Prep with a chance to earn a little payback in Danvers.

Stevenson knows that stretch isn’t going to be easy to win. But, deep down, everyone knows if the Hawks do, it’s not going to come as a “shock” to anyone.

Coach: Charlie Stevenson (18th season, 151-47-3)
Last Year: 8-3
Key returnees: Chris Calvanese, QB, Sr. (14 passing touchdowns, 3 rushing); Ryan Farrell, WR/S, Sr.; Kevin Painten, OL/DT, Sr.; Colby Enegren, FB/DE, Sr.; John Warner, TE, Sr.; Andrew Malin, OL, Sr.; Hunter Taute, MLB/FB, Jr.; Matt Stapleton, DE, Jr.; Maurice Hurst Jr., DT/FB, Jr.; Ray Gobbi, OL, Jr.
Strengths: Quarterback, Offensive line, Defensive line, Fullback
Weaknesses: Inexperience at wide receiver, tailback, secondary and linebacker.
Outlook: Calvanese comes back for his second year as a starter and Stevenson will find ways to take advantage of both his considerable running and throwing talents. This is one of the better and more experienced offensive and defensive fronts that Xaverian has had, although the former doesn’t compare to the 2009 edition that powered the Hawks to the Division 1 Super Bowl. The defensive line though will be stout with the likes of Stapleton and Enegren at end and Painten and Hurst at tackle. Farrell has been injured and is out indefinitely, which is a huge loss on both sides of the ball. Without him, the Hawks have zero returning starters in the secondary, made worse by the fact that they lost two of the best cornerbacks in the state to graduation in Joe Colton (Avon Old Farms) and Nick McDaniels (Merrimack). Taute is a potential Division I prospect at either fullback or inside linebacker and will need to hold down the fort in a depleted linebacking corps. Colton’s loss at tailback is huge, as well, as Stevenson has nice young talent there but not at the level where Colton was a year ago. Whether or not this team can fill those holes will determine how well the Hawks do in the always-rugged Catholic Conference.

No. 6 Xaverian blanks No. 9 BC High

November, 6, 2010

WESTWOOD, Mass. – There wasn’t one particular thing you could identify that was better than the rest in No. 6 Xaverian’s 28-0 win over No. 9 BC High.

In sum, they were all pretty darn good.

On offense, the Hawks implemented an old school Patriot-like scheme with quarterback Chris Calvanese distributing the ball among seven receivers while throwing for 108 yards on 8 of 11 pass attempts, including two touchdowns. That was supplemented by the ground game efforts of Joe Colton (one touchdown), Chris Tamasi and Calvanese, who also ran for a touchdown.

On defense, Xaverian bottled up explosive Eagles running back Preston Cooper. While not allowing the shifty junior to hit the edge with speed, the Hawks linebackers routinely swarmed under and held Cooper to just 35 rushing yards. Without establishing the run, BC High was forced into more passing situations from longer downs and distance. Xaverian also had three takeaways.

All in all, a good day at the Hawk Bowl.

“We had probably our most complete game of the year,” Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said. “We really needed it because they’re a very good opponent.”

Calvanese got the Hawks (7-2, 2-0 Catholic Conference) started on the game’s opening drive with the longest play of the day. The junior signal-caller tabbed his own number and rumbled 51-yards to the end zone one minute and 40 seconds in.

BC High (4-4, 1-1) held Xaverian off the board for the rest of the half until Hawks receiver Tommy Jenkins made a circus catch in the back of the end zone on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Calvanese just 17 seconds before halftime.

“That was all Tommy [Jenkins], on that play,” Calvanese said. “He made an unbelievable catch.”

The Hawks widened their lead in the second half on Colton’s 8-yard touchdown with 1:14 remaining in the third. The score came with the benefit of some good field position after Matt Stapleton forced an Eagles fumble that was recovered by Tamasi.

“I thought the eleven guys we had out there today did a great job,” said Tamasi, who had a forced fumble in addition to his fumble recovery. “They didn’t score a point against us, so it doesn’t get much better than that. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys today.”

Stapleton left his imprint on the game again, hauling in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Calvanese.

Ryan Farrell iced the game for Xaverian with an interception with less than a minute remaining.

No. 9 BC High 0 0 0 0 -- 0
No. 6 Xaverian 7 7 7 7 -- 28

First quarter

X Chris Calvanese 51-yard run (Jules Murphy kick)

Second quarter
X Tommy Jenkins 24-yard pass from Chris Calvanese (Murphy kick)

Third quarter
X Joe Colton 8-yard run (Murphy kick)

Fourth quarter
X Ryan Farrell 11-yard pass from Chris Calvanese (Murphy kick)