Boston High School: Maurice Hurst Jr.

Recruiting Notes: Frenzy leading to Signing Day

February, 1, 2013
2/01/13
9:00
AM ET
The second half of January featured a flurry of activity with regard to New England players committing to colleges. Some of the notable commitments:

Recruiting Notebook"Everett High School wide receiver/defensive back Jakarrie Washington to Wisconsin: Recruiting writers were scrambling last week when word leaked that Washington would be joining the Badgers, since he was relatively unknown outside of Massachusetts. He had no other scholarship offers at the time of his commitment. What Washington does have is speed. He has reportedly run the 40 in 4.4 seconds. He's also versatile. He caught 33 passes for 439 yards and nine touchdowns last season, when he also carried the ball 75 times for 697 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"St. John's Prep running back Alex Moore to Pennsylvania: Many thought Moore would join teammate Lucas Bavaro at Dartmouth, but he selected Penn – the first school to make him an offer. Moore, perhaps the best two-way player in Massachusetts last season, helped St. John's Prep win the EMass Division I Super Bowl and claimed the third annual ESPN Boston “Mr. Football” award, which is given annually to the best player in the state. Moore, who will likely play on the defensive side of the ball in college, made 67 tackles (five for loss), recorded four interceptions and forced four fumbles during his senior season. He also rushed for 857 yards and 14 touchdowns, and caught 20 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns.

"Windsor (Conn.) defensive end Cole Ormsby to Connecticut: Ormsby committed to UMass in June, but switched that commitment last week. Ormsby led the state with 17 sacks last season, when Hand defeated Windsor 23-6 in the Class L championship game. He completed his senior season with 85 tackles.

SIGN HERE

Wednesday is National Signing Day, and ESPNU will have 10 hours of coverage beginning at 9 a.m. At least 17 of the nation's top uncommitted recruits are expected to announce their college decision live during the telecast. Rece Davis and Dari Nowkhah will host the coverage from Charlotte, N.C.

ESPNU will have reporters at the following schools: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Texas, Texas AM and USC. The station will also air a two-hour preview show on Tuesday beginning at 5 p.m.

THESE GUYS ARE COMMITTED

Nine of New England's top 10 recruits (as rated by ESPN) have verbally committed to college programs. Six of the 10 players are from Connecticut, and the four others are from Massachusetts. Here's where those players will be playing next season:

John Montelus, OG (Everett High School): Notre Dame
Maurice Hurst Jr., DT (Xaverian Brothers): Michigan
Tim Boyle, QB (Xavier): Boston College
Noel Thomas, ATH (St. Luke's): Connecticut
John Van Allen, OLB (Avon Old Farms): Harvard
Sadiq Olanrewaju, OT (Salisbury School): Virginia
Cory Jasudowich, ILB (Cheshire Academy): Connecticut
Tevin Montgomery, OT (Tabor Academy): Boston College
Jack McDonald, OG (BC High): Virginia.

Note: Thomas, who played for his father at St. Luke's in New Canaan, Conn., enrolled at UConn for the spring semester. Thomas played wide receiver, quarterback and running back in prep school, and finished his career with 4,888 yards of offense and 53 touchdowns. He is expected to play wide receiver in college.

BULLDOG MENTALITY

Michael Dulac, Vermont's Gatorade Player of the Year for the 2012 season, has committed to play for Division I Bryant University. The Bulldogs compete in the Northeast Conference.

Dulac, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman, led Hartford High School (White River Jct.) to three consecutive Division I championships. He started on each side of the ball in all 43 games of his high school career.

Dulac reportedly had offers from eight schools, and selected Bryant over Dartmouth.

NEW HAMPSHIRE LANDS LINEBACKER

Proctor Academy fullback/linebacker Odaine Franklyn committed to the University of New Hampshire on Thursday.

Franklin made 48 tackles last season. He also rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Proctor finished the season with an 8-1 record.

Franklyn, who was recruited to play linebacker, was a three-year starter for White Plains (N.Y.) High School before he enrolled at Proctor Academy. He had scholarship offers from Akron and Albany coming out of high school.

Recruiting information regarding high school or prep school players in New England can be sent to Roger Brown at rbrown@nhfootballreport.com.

Recruiting Notes: Interest for Newsome building

December, 30, 2012
12/30/12
10:33
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Ansonia (Conn.) High School running back Arkeel Newsome is used to being pursued. If opposing defensive players aren't after him, then it's college football coaches who are trying to chase him down.

Newsome, who completed his junior season by leading Ansonia to the Class S state championship Dec. 8, may be the most sought-after recruit in New England next season. He received scholarship offers from the University of Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts last summer, and that list of offers will certainly grow.

“In the last week Rutgers, Penn State and Syracuse have been in,” Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said the week before Christmas. “He's even getting some interest in the state of Florida -– Florida and Florida State. I would guess between now and May he'll have another 15-20 [offers].

“Almost everyone wants him to carry the ball as a tailback. He has the whole skill-set that great backs have: speed, vision and hands. He'd be a great receiver if he wasn't a tailback. Some college is going to be very fortunate to have him in uniform.”

Newsome made plenty of headlines as a sophomore, when he set Connecticut's single-season rushing record by gaining 3,763 yards. Some media outlets listed him as the nation's leading rusher. Others had him at No. 2.

He gained 2,245 yards and and 34 touchdowns on 227 carries as a junior, when Ansonia stretched the program's winning streak to 28 games by beating North Branford 59-26 in the Class S championship game. He set the state record for career rushing touchdowns in the Class S semifinals, and will enter his senior season with 119 rushing TDs.

Newsome said Boston College, Connecticut, Florida, Miami, Penn State, Pittsburgh, South Florida and Syracuse are the schools he hears from the most.

“I like making people miss,” he said. “It's a little early to say anything about recruiting. I'm happy with the two offers I have right now. UConn was the first school to offer. I can definitely see myself there.

“I don't know too much about UMass. I haven't seen them play.”

If there's a knock against Newsome it may be his size (5-foot-8, 180 pounds). Brockett insists colleges aren't concerned.

“Not one college who has seen him in person has expressed concern with his size,” Brockett said. “He carries his weight very well.

“He's a physical back. He's a tough, durable back who doesn't come off the field. “

Newsome, who also plays defensive back, isn't lacking speed. He said his best time in the 40-yard dash is 4.49 seconds.

Still, Brockett said Newsome's vision and ability to change direction is what separates him from most backs.

“You have a lot of kids with speed, but those players who can cut on a dime are hard to find,” he said. “Arkeel is humble, he's a hard-worker and he's a great weight room kid. Just by talking to him you'd never know he's the best player in Connecticut.”

MORRIS LIKES THE LOOK OF BROWN
LaSalle Academy (Bristol, R.I.) running back Josh Morris ended his recruitment last week, when he decided to play Ivy League football at Brown. Morris also had offers from Yale, Bryant, Monmouth and Valparaiso. In addition, he had a preferred walk-on option at Northwestern.

Morris said remaining close to home was among the factors that weighed in Brown's favor.

“At Brown I'm going to be able to get in the weight room right away, get in the meetings right away and meet all the players right away,” he said. “By the time camp comes in the summer I'll be tuning my craft rather that learning it.

“By me going to Brown it carried many great perks. The coaching staff is the best staff I've met. They're ready to make me the best player I could possibly be. Not all of us can go to the NFL. If I'm fortunate enough to then that's great, but if I don't I'll have a Brown University degree. And to me that's priceless.

Morris was Rhode Island's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011, when he rushed for 1,278 yards and 16 touchdowns on 134 carries. He also caught nine passes for 175 yards, and averaged 39.8 yards per kickoff return.

He was bothered by an ankle injury for much of last season, but still rushed for 1,442 yards (8.1 yards per carry). Morris injured his ankle during a victory over South Kingstown on Oct. 5, but scored three touchdowns in a 41-24 triumph over Bridgewater-Raynam the following week.

QUARTERBACK OPTIONS
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien turned to New England to fill his quarterback shortage. Salisbury (Conn.) School QB Austin Whipple and Worcester Academy quarterback D.J. Crook were each offered – and accepted – preferred walk-on positions in mid-December.

Crook threw for 8,126 yards and 77 touchdowns at Barnstable High School before he enrolled at Worcester Academy last fall.

“He's a hard-worker and he wanted to play at the highest level he could,” Worcester Academy coach Tony Johnson said. “He ran the ball in my system more than he's used to, but he really improved his release. I think they have only four quarterbacks, so he'll get evaluated.”

Whipple's father Mark was the head coach at the University of Massachusetts when the Minutemen won the Division I-AA national championship in 1998. O'Brien was the inside linebackers coach at Brown in 1994, Mark Whipple's first year as the head coach there. He is currently the quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns.

Whipple led Salisbury to a 29-26 victory over a Jonathan DiBiaso-led Phillips Exeter team in the Jack Etter Bowl last November. DiBiaso, who played at Everett High School, will suit up for Dartmouth next season.

Crook ran for two TDs in a 27-21 loss to Salisbury last season.

BOWL SEASON
Everett offensive tackle John Montelus, the top-ranked recruit from Massachusetts in the Class of 2013, will begin practice for Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Monday. The game will be played at the Alamodome in San Antonio and can be seen on NBC.

Montelus has committed to Notre Dame.

Xaverian defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. can be seen in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl one day earlier. The Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl will be played Friday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and will be televised by the NFL Network.

Hurst, the No. 2 recruit in Massachusetts, has committed to Michigan.

Recruiting information about high school or prep school players in New England can be sent to Roger Brown at rbrown@nhfootballreport.com.

Quick-hit thoughts from Thanksgiving football

November, 23, 2012
11/23/12
6:12
PM ET
1. The biggest thing that stood out to me from yesterday’s Natick-Framingham game was how efficient the Redhawks’ passing game remained despite limited touches by Brian Dunlap. The sophomore has an unheard-of 30 receiving touchdowns since his first varsity start last season, but for the first time in his career did not register a touchdown catch.

I posed this question to the Framingham defense in my pick Wednesday, and I’ll pose it again to Plymouth South -– how do you cover Brian Dunlap? But now, I’m wondering if bracketing or shading a safety to his side is even the best gameplan. The Natick coaching staff was pretty high on Alex Hilger before he missed most of the season with a broken collarbone, and yesterday we saw why. Athletically, he’s a terrific target who can stretch the field. Between Dunlap, Hilger and the recently-blooming Justin Robinson, it might be a case of "pick your poison".

Still, I think the key on Tuesday will be running back Nick Lee, who injured his ankle last month but looked solid yesterday. He told me yesterday his right ankle was “100 percent”, and anyone who watch Natick’s No. 9 win over Walpole knows that wasn’t the case.

***

2. You could make a pretty solid list of elite players sitting at home after Thanksgiving -– Xaverian’s Maurice Hurst Jr., Catholic Memorial’s Peter Ngobidi, Needham’s Mike Panepinto and Nantucket’s Terrel Correia come to mind. But the one I was really looking forward seeing was Amherst running back Kieran Presley, who ended his career yesterday with 175 rushing yards and two scores on just 10 carries in a 35-15 win over Northampton.

We profiled Presley after his ridiculous 359-yard performance in a Nov. 2 win over Chicopee, and you can argue he is playing his best ball right now. He finished with 1,009 yards on the season, but 684 of those yards have come in the last three weeks – including four scores of 56 yards or longer. Head coach David Thompson also says there is varying degrees of interest from a scattering of Division 1 FBS and FCS programs, including UConn, Albany, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and James Madison.

It looks like the Hurricanes finally got their zone-blocking scheme down midway through the season, but unfortunately they’ll be on the outside looking in. Just a hunch, Thompson has a good thing going forward with this program.

***

3. I said this on FOX 25 last night, and it bears mentioning again. For the most part, there isn’t an overwhelming favorite among any of the divisions in Eastern Mass. Out in Central Mass., Division 1 is wide open, and on paper Nashoba feels like the overwhelming favorite but this is a team that Doherty nearly upset earlier this season.

However, in Division 3 Central, it’s Auburn, Auburn, or Auburn. The Rockets are No. 9 in our statewide poll, and No. 1 in the Telegram & Gazette’s poll, for good reason. As a team, they’ve run for 2,863 yards and 44 touchdowns, with an average of 10 yards per carry, led by senior Tyler Desjardins (120 carries, 1,560 yards, 23 TD).

Much like USC’s student body right or Nebraska’s I-bone formation, there’s not a lot of trickeration to the domination – everybody knows what’s coming. The Rockets run primarily power sets with jumbo personnel, and have been blowing people off the ball all season. I’ve previously mused that in the past the Rockets have gotten by just on outweighing people at the point of attack (they average about 280 pounds across, after all), but this is a unit that seems to get more mobile every time out. All-State candidate Aaron Dyke is at the forefront of this, able to pull down and lead block on sweeps fluidly.

The rest of the field in Division 3 consists of Hudson, Tantasqua and Groton-Dunstable. To those three teams, I say good luck.

***

4. Sharon’s Dave Morse, Stoughton’s Greg Burke and Plymouth South’s Scott Fry are on many short lists for Coach of the Year, and deservedly so. But I think we should also consider Upper Cape’s Mike Hernon for any such nod. In just his second year at the helm, he has the Rams in the playoffs as Mayflower Small champs, with a 10-1 record. The Rams are one of the highest-scoring teams in Division 4A (28.1 points per game), and they have junior running back Jon Dumont to thank for that. He had an impressive start to the season (89 carries, 889 yards, 11 TD in his first five games), and is a hard north-south runner with 40 speed allegedly in the 4.5 range.

***

5. If Barnstable and Everett win out on Tuesday, then the Division 1A Super Bowl is by far the marquee game of the Gillette Stadium slate. Some of us -– myself included -– are probably wondering why that got the 3:30 p.m. slot instead of 6 p.m., which has been designated for Western Mass. Division 2. Especially considering the crowd for last year’s Western Mass. Super Bowl, an early-afternoon contest between Springfield Central and Longmeadow, was thoroughly a ghost town.

All of that considered, I might end up eating my words if Wahconah makes it. I had a conversation with noted Berkshire Eagle columnist Howard Herman the other day, and he assured me that if the Warriors make it to the Super Bowl, the town of Dalton “will shut down”. Hope he’s right.

Recap: Xaverian 21, BC High 17

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
11:59
PM ET


WESTWOOD, Mass. -– Xaverian held the lead for only 1:22 out of 44 minutes, but it was the most crucial minute of the game as the Hawks edged BC High at The Hawk Bowl, 21-17. Hunter Taute capped a theatrical 72-yard drive with a 6 yard bull rush that put the Hawks ahead while the Xaverian defense denied BC High the chance of scoring on the final drive.

“We made some big plays,” said Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson. “We were balanced. Certainly one of out better drives this year and it was a very opportune time to have it.”

Xaverian (3-6, 2-0 Catholic Conf.) started its final possession of the afternoon from their 28 with 8:00 left on the clock after a BC High punt from the Xaverian 34 went out of bounds. Alternating between Shayne Kaminski (10 carries, 40 yards) and Mike Brennan, the Hawks got two quick first downs on four rushing plays. From midfield, Kaminski kicked down to the 46 of the Eagles (3-5, 1-1 Catholic Conference), where Austin DeCarr found Aiden Desrosiers for a 14-yard gain.

Brennan was stopped on the following play for no gain, and the end around to the right ran by Pagliuca netted only one yard before he was collared by BC High’s Brian Robinson. On third down, Pagliuca caught the ball but the play was blown up by Brandon Owens, who sent Pagluica down to the ground and the ball flying straight back, setting up fourth and 9 from the BC High 31. Joe DeNucci, who had fans in the stands wearing t-shirt replicas of his jersey, made a crucial catch for a ten-yard gain and the first down with 3:35 to go.

Kaminski resumed his tugboat duties and rushed for three, three then eight yards on third and four from the 15, setting up first and goal on the 7 with just over two minutes to go. Brennan rushed for a yard, but another incomplete hookup between Pagliuca and DeCarr brought up third down. DeCarr threw the ball and it sailed out of the end zone, but the head referee called defensive holding, allotting the Eagles a fresh set of downs with under two minutes to go.

Kaminski rushed for two, bringing the ball to the one, and Maurice Hurst ran in his second score, but an illegal motion brought the ball to the six. Hunter Taute (9 carries, 39 yards, TD) ran left and with fire and desire, and crossed the plane at 1:22 with a stretch play to take the lead for Xaverian for the first time on the day. Kyle Darrow’s kick gave Xaverian a four-point lead, necessitating BC High to score a touchdown.

Although the Hawks’ defense missed two in-hand interceptions on BC High’s final drive and got a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on third and long, Xaverian held the Eagles to a one-yard run in the last 1:14, seal a slippery victory.

“Our defense played great during the final possession we had. We did a great job of shutting them down throwing the football.”

Love is Love: Although there were no stories being shared between the first whistle and the last whistle, there was camaraderie after the matchup between the rivals and their players.

“As you can see, [BC High’s] Jack [McDonald] and Mo are down there hugging and kissing, taking pictures for their moms,” Stevenson half-joked after the game. “That’s the kind of game it is when Xaverian plays BC High.”

XAVERIAN 21, BC HIGH 17
BCH (3-5) 7 7 3 0 --- 17
XAV (3-6) 0 7 7 7 --- 21


First Quarter
B – Dan Collins 17 interception return (Jackson Bockhorst kick)

2nd Quarter
X – Maurice Hurst 1 run (Kyle Darrow kick)
B – Collins 11 run (Bockhorst kick)

3rd Quarter
X – D.J. Pagliuca 88 kickoff return (Darrow kick)
B – Bockhorst 34 field goal

4th Quarter
X – Hunter Taute 6 run (Darrow kick)

Recap: No. 4 Duxbury 20, Xaverian 16

October, 7, 2012
10/07/12
2:09
AM ET
DUXBURY, Mass. -- It’s a common adage on offense that you put the ball in the hands of your playmakers.

Well, to the same extent, Duxbury football head coach Dave Maimaron does that with his best defensive player. Maimaron, along with defensive coordinator Harry Taylor, entrust senior inside linebacker Marshall McCarthy with the ability to make his own decisions on the field. A three-year starter at his position, McCarthy is the quarterback of the defense, responsible not only for his own actions, but that of the unit.

With the game on the line against Xaverian on Saturday with one second remaining and a fourth-and-goal try from the 9-yard line, McCarthy again did what comes naturally.

“Smart Marshall, we call that,” Maimaron said of the defensive call. “He picks a hole and he goes.”

In this instance, McCarthy chose the A-gap and went barreling through, meeting Hawks quarterback Austin DeCarr in the backfield for sack. When the play was through, time expired and the Dragons escaped with their state-best winning streak in tact after a 20-16 win.

“Our guys, they just know when they’re down there that they’ve got to pick it up,” Maimaron said. “They just stepped it up every single time. Unfortunately, our offense kept putting them in that position.”

Duxbury (5-0) lengthened its winning streak to 31 games, but sweated out some tense moments late in the fourth. Twice in the final three minutes of the game, the Dragons were faced with goal-to-go situations and held. In addition to having a potential game-winning score erased off the board for Xaverian (1-4), due to an illegal procedure penalty, the Dragons were unrelenting.

“They brought some very good pressure on us,” Hawks head coach Charlie Stevenson said. “When you’re down in the red zone and it’s a condensed area, some times guys make those plays, some times they don’t. Two plays before that D.J. [Pagliuca] made the play, we score a touchdown, but it gets taken off the board.”

Two plays after Pagliuca’s aborted score, Duxbury senior defensive back Jack Sullivan broke up a pass attempt on the goal line to force a turnover on downs with 2:28 to play.

After forcing the Dragons three-and-out on their ensuing possession, Xaverian had one last shot at the end zone with 1:08 to play. Moving quickly downfield on a couple of pass plays from DeCarr (14 of 31, 233 yards) to Pagliuca (4 catches, 58 yards, TD), the Hawks were within 12 yards of a victory.

That’s when McCarthy (3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble) came calling again.

STUMBLING BLOCKS
Duxbury won while lacking any kind of offensive rhythm. The Dragons were held under 200 offensive yards on the afternoon, thanks in no small part to the play of the Hawks’ front seven. Xaverian was able to pressure Duxbury quarterback Sean McCarthy throughout. Maurice Hurst Jr. notched three sacks, and rangy outside linebacker Aiden Desrosiers created havoc with two hurries and two passes defended with tipped balls at the line.

The Dragons were also able to dial up pressure at key moments. Starting running back Jon Hurvitz was asked to play a greater role on defense, playing slot corner. Hurvitz disrupted a promising first-quarter Hawks’ drive with a strip-sack. The fumble was recovered by Mike Klein.

“I give them credit, they’re a good football team,” Stevenson said. “They’ve won a lot games in a row, so they know how to win and they made the plays on both sides of the ball.”

RUN BEHIND THE BIGS
Of course, no Duxbury game this season would be complete without a touchdown or two by Hurvitz. While being held largely in check in the running game, the shifty 5-foot-9, 185-pound back was again a deciding factor. Hurvitz rushed for Duxbury’s second touchdown of the game for a 13-0 lead in the second quarter.

But it was a play in the passing game that gave Duxbury its margin for victory.

After Xaverian took a 14-13 lead with 6:13 remaining in the third on Shayne Kaminski’s 30-yard touchdown run, Hurvitz regained the lead for the Dragons with his second score of the game. Running to the left on a slip screen pass, Hurvitz turned upfield running behind the pull of offensive lineman Rob Kosharek, who was inserted at left guard on the play. Twenty-four yards later, the Dragons were back on top.

“We usually try to run behind our big boys and Kosharek’s obviously the biggest,” Hurvitz chuckled.

With the Dragons’ running lanes disrupted by the Hawks’ front seven, Duxbury had to find other means of opening up space.

“They’re a lot bigger than us up front, so we knew that coming in,” Hurvitz said. "We thought we could get some movement, but they plugged the holes pretty good, so we had to go to our outside stuff.”

Xaverian – 0 7 7 2 -- 16
Duxbury – 7 6 7 0 -- 20

First quarter
Duxbury – J.P. O'Neil fumble recovery (Tucker Hannon kick)

Second quarter
Duxbury - Jon Hurvitz 10-yard run (Hannon kick)
Xaverian - D.J. Pagliuca 34-yard pass from Austin DeCarr (Kyle Darrow kick)

Third quarter
Xaverian - Shayne Kaminski 30-yard run (Darrow kick)
Duxbury - Hurvitz 24-yard pass from Sean McCarthy (Hannon kick)

Fourth quarter
Xaverian – Safety – Joe Gaziano sack

ESPN Boston Week 5 football picks

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
4:24
AM ET
FRIDAY
ATTLEBORO (4-0) AT MANSFIELD (2-2)
The Skinny: The Blue Bombardiers have opened up the season undefeated and opened Hockomock League play with a win over Canton last week. Meanwhile, Mansfield is coming off a loss to Stoughton (the second in as many years). Attleboro’s 6-foot, 185-pound running back Malique Clark has tallied eight touchdowns in the early going while Robbie Rapoza is looking for a repeat performance of his four-touchdown game against Dracut two weeks ago.

Scott Barboza: Upset, blue light special. Blue Bombardiers pull out a stunner. Attleboro, 14-8.

Brendan Hall: Hornets will find a way to rebound on Friday night in front of their home crowd. How often does Mansfield lose two straight in league play? Mansfield, 20-10.

SHEPHERD HILL (4-0) AT NO. 19 AUBURN (4-0)
The Skinny: Auburn saw its state-best win streak snapped at 41 games last fall to these very Rams, before rolling to its fourth consecutive Super Bowl title. This year, we're not sure who has the advantage. Both teams excel at moving the ball on the ground, with Shepherd Hill's Brad Picard (6.7 yards per carry) moving behind a swarming double wing, and Tyler Desjardins (10.8) getting help from a Rockets line that is among the state's biggest.

Barboza: For the Rockets to be knocked off for a second straight year, that would be the greatest upset of all. Auburn, 20-13.

Hall: Set the over-under on total rushing yards in this game at 400. Auburn, 28-21.

BURLINGTON (4-0) AT NO. 6 READING (4-0)
The Skinny: A must-see matchup between the Middlesex League's two most talented teams, which includes some of the state's top players at their respective positions. Speedster Marcus Odiah leads a powerful rushing attack from Burlington, but the Red Devils will have their hands full trying to neutralize the Rockets on either side of the ball. Offensively, the Rockets are led by one of the state's finest quarterbacks in Drew Belcher, while defensively the Rockets have allowed just two points through four games this season.

Barboza: The scoreless quarter streak will end, the Rockets keep the win streak going. Reading, 28-14.

Hall: If you score on the Rockets, keep the ball. Reading, 17-3.

FOXBOROUGH (3-1) AT NO. 24 STOUGHTON (4-0)
The Skinny: A game that could go a long way to deciding the Hockomock League Davenport division crown will be played under a different light Friday, after the Black Knights attend the funeral of fallen tammate David Wade that day. Stoughton will have plenty at stake emotionally, playing for Wade’s memory and coming off another “upset” of Mansfield. Foxborough knocked the Hock on its heels as well last week, upsetting North Attleborough and shutting out the Red Rocketeers.

Barboza: Just too may athletes at too many positions for the Black Knights. Do it for David. Stoughton, 21-17.

Hall: Tough times make tough people. Stoughton, 13-10.

SATURDAY
XAVERIAN (1-3) AT NO. 4 DUXBURY (4-0)
The Skinny: The Hawks assuredly will enter our Mass. Army National Guard Game of the Week with a chip on their shoulder and desperate to turn around a losing record. The Dragons look to make it two in a row over Xaverian, after sealing a victory at the Hawk Bowl last year. Duxbury’s defense paid dividends in that game, and while some of the talent has graduated, they have three-year starting inside linebacker Marshall McCarthy to quarterback the defense. The matchup to watch here will be the interior line play with C.J. LoConte (Army lacrosse commit) going head-to-head with Michigan football commit Mo Hurst.

Barboza: Look for Dave Maimaron to work in some wrinkles this week to keep the Hawks’ defensive line in check. Duxbury, 31-21.

Hall: Hawks will find their groove in this game, but the Dragons will escape for their state-best 31st straight win. Duxbury, 24-17.

CHELMSFORD (4-0) AT HAVERHILL (3-1)
The Skinny: A battle between two Merrimack Valley Conference teams off to quality starts in 2012, two of the league's most productive running backs square off in this early-season battle. Chelmsford's Jeff D'Auria (10 TDs) has been a workhorse out of the backfield, while the Hillies' Chance Brady (724 rushing yards, 12 TD) might be the most complete back in the league.

Barboza: The Lions skated on thin ice last week and I think it catches up with them facing the Hillies’ pistol offense with Tommy Morgan at quarterback. Haverhill, 30-28.

Hall: Considering how much talent moved on from a year ago, have to appreciate what Chelmsford is doing right now. Chelmsford, 21-6.

NO. 3 ST. JOHN'S PREP (3-1) AT NO. 12 BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM (3-1)
The Skinny: This game screams ball control. Both teams come with highly-touted backfields. The Eagles’ duo of Jonathan Thomas and Alex Moore is the most dynamic in the state. But with Arcel Armstead back and Brandon Gallagher running strong early in the season, the Trojans can match metal with metal. Expect a lot of work out of the I-formation and two-tight end sets as these teams counter strength against strength. The number of completed passes in this one could figure to be counted on one hand, but you can’t argue with what head coaches Jim O’Leary and Dan Buron have done with their respective systems in their careers.

Barboza: I think this one’s going to be very close, but I can’t settle on a score. So I’m going to set a line for the project number of TOTAL possessions in this game. But I’m picking Prep to win. Possessions: 8.5 (that’s being generous perhaps).

Hall: In my book, the waggle trumps the counter. B-R, 7-6.

DARTMOUTH (1-3) AT NO. 25 SOMERSET-BERKLEY (4-0)
The Skinny: An underrated non-league matchup between old EAC rivals on the South Coast, both teams figured to have their hands full in this one. For Dartmouth, they must figured out how to slow down the Blue Raiders' vaunted double wing attack, led by senior Garrett Carlos, who has over 350 yards rushing the last two weeks on just 19 carries. For Somerset, the key is slowing Mitch Loranger and Nick Simonetti, two of the more talented players in the Old Colony League.

Barboza: Can the Raiders ride Carlos and Mikey Garrant to a Super Bowl appearance this year as they did with Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear two years ago? Just might. Somerset-Berkley, 34-28.

Hall: Indians were a trendy sleeper pick for 2012, but I think they'll have some trouble against this double wing attack of the Blue Raiders. Somerset-Berkley, 24-14.

Game of the Week: Xaverian at Duxbury

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
4:45
PM ET
DUXBURY, Mass. -- ESPN Boston High Schools editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall stopped by practice at Duxbury High, site of this week's National Guard Game of the Week, to discuss the No. 4 Dragons' matchup with visiting Xaverian High this Saturday afternoon.

Be sure to stop by our ESPN Boston tent on Saturday, as well as the Natonal Guard's tent, for giveaways and prizes, and stick around after as we award our Player of the Game.

ESPN Boston Week 3 football picks

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
3:25
AM ET
NO. 3 XAVERIAN (1-1) AT NO. 15 BROCKTON (1-1)
The Skinny:
Both teams are going to be seeing red after their respective performances last week with the Hawks taking an ole fashioned whooping at St. Joseph's Regional in New Jersey and the Boxers being shut out by the likes of Reading. This matchup will see some of the state's premiere lineman matching up with Michigan-bound Mo Hurst lining up across from preseason All-State Watch Lister Joe Previte of Brockton.

Barboza: The question might be is if the Boxers get back on the board again this week. I think they do, but it's still no enough. Xaverian, 27-14.

Hall: I want to know what St. Joseph's Regional alum Devin McCourty thinks of the New Jersey school's 62-0 beatdown of Xaverian last weekend. Xaverian, 24-17.

NO. 22 BC HIGH (0-2) AT DARTMOUTH (1-1)
The Skinny:
The beleaguered Eagles might enjoy of bit of a reprieve if rumors are true that quarterback Brendan Craven will return for the tilt against the Indians. These will be two hungry squads as BC High looks for its first win on the season and Dartmouth hopes to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Attleboro last week. This could be a coming-out party for Dartmouth RB/LB Mitch Loranger, one of the more underrated talents in the state, while Tim Smith provides a nice change of pace running.

Barboza: Coach Rick White puts these games on the schedule when he feels like he has something in the bag, so you can't look past that. I think the Eagles escape the South Coast with their first win of the season, however. BC High, 16-14.

Hall: I'm in need of a bailout from North Attleborough Credit Union after picking the Eagles last week. Sorry, in this dire times of financial brevity, I can't take on too much more water. Dartmouth, 17-10.

WHITMAN-HANSON (2-0) AT FOXBOROUGH (2-0)
The Skinny:
These are two traditional powers who have had some leaner years in recent memory, but seem again to be headed back in the right direction. The Panthers opened up their season with wins over ACL powers Plymouth North and Marshfield, with QB Tom Sapienza tallying over 400 yards on the air and ground in the victory over the Rams. The Warriors steamrolled their first two opponents (East Longmeadow and East Providnce, R.I.) by a combined 74-16 with running back Kiivone Howard putting his name into early Hockomock Player of the Year talk.

Barboza: The offensive weapons are there, but I wouldn't be surprised with a defensive struggle here. Foxborough makes the stops when it needs to behind linebacker Luc Valenza. Foxborough, 21-14.

Hall: Kiivone Howard has been one of the nicest surprises of the early season. Of course, folks in Foxborough will tell you that's no surprise. Foxborough, 30-25.

NO. 5 DUXBURY (2-0) AT NEW BEDFORD (2-0)
The Skinny:
The Dragons put their state-best winning streak on the line against the Whalers after rolling through Plymouth North last week. Marshall McCarthy has been as good as he's ever been for Duxbury's defense, registering 26 tackles through two games. New Bedford will look for a big game from quarterback Mike Rapoza, who's a multi-dimensional threat having played running back and wide receiver as well.

Barboza: Jon Hurvitz and the Duxbury line could be primed for a big day. Duxbury, 28-10.

Hall: I fully expect the Dragons to head into October 5's showdown with Xaverian on a 30-game win streak. Duxbury, 21-0.

NO. 2 ST. JOHN'S PREP (2-0) AT NO. 1 EVERETT (2-0)
The Skinny:
For the first time since 2010, we have the top two teams in ESPNBoston.com's statewide poll squaring off. Everett is 7-0 against the Catholic Conference since the 2009 MIAA Division 1 Super Bowl loss to Xaverian; that streak features three wins over the visiting Eagles, including the 2010 D1 Super Bowl. To snap the streak, Prep will have to play lockdown defense and get big production from its star running back Jonathan Thomas. For Everett, it's anyone's guess who will be lining up at quarterback this week, but Gilly De Souza has been very serviceable.

Barboza: I think both offenses are going to get theirs, but it's going to be decided by the defenses and who's able to force a fumble, come up with a pick, something to steal the game. Everett, 30-23.

Hall: No truth to the rumor Everett Superintendent of Schools Fred Foresteire was taking snaps under center this week. Everett, 23-21.

NO. 9 ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY (2-0) AT CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (1-1)
The Skinny:
St. John's can lay claim to one of the state's most prolific offenses after an impressive showing the first two weeks, outlasting No. 24 Holy Name (47-40) and cruising past No. 16 Longmeadow (35-14). However, neither team has an individual as talented on the defensive side of the ball as CM's UMass-bound linebacker/defensive end Peter Ngobidi, one of the state's best off the edge. Conversely, the Knights struggled against Westford last weekend, and may have their hands full against a Pioneers squad with similar spread principles but at a breakneck tempo.

Barboza: I like the Knights' defense with Ngobidi and Kevin Bletzer, but too many options for them to stop. St. John's, 31-17.

Hall: Going forward, I'm suddenly very intrigued at how St. John's will be calling in its plays. St. John's, 30-14.

BB&N AT BELMONT HILL
The Skinny:
Belmont Hill is entering its first season in decades without Kevin Fleming on the sidelines, and it comes out of the gate going right into the fire. BB&N took a 17-14 humbling at the Hillers' hands in the opening week of ISL play last year, and they have one of the best individual athletes this season in Wake Forest-bound tight end Brendan O'Neil.

Barboza: I'm still syphoning water from my boots after last year's "Car Wash" game. The memory will be fresh in the minds of the Knights as well. BB&N, 20-14.

Hall: Plain and simple, John Papas gets his revenge here. BB&N, 21-7.

THAYER ACADEMY AT GOVERNOR'S ACADEMY
The Skinny:
ISL season opens up with plenty of hype behind Thayer and its numerous athletes, including Bryan Vieira, Aaron Gilmer and Ikenna Nwokeji. The Governors had runaway success last season under first-year head coach Jim O'Leary, and return arguably the most valuable player in the league in quarterback Tate Jozokos, a UNC lacrosse commit who was a dual-threat nightmare for many opponents.

Barboza: Simply stated, Gov's are running the table again this year. Governor's, 23-17.

Hall: Tate Jozokos can play on my Tuesday night Charlestown flag football team any day. Governor's, 28-13.

ESPN Boston Mr. Football Watch List: Week 1

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
10:48
AM ET
This morning, we unveil our initial "Watch List" for our third annual ESPN Boston Mr. Football Award, presented annually to the state's top overall player.

Last year, Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso took the award unanimously, beating out Catholic Memorial's Armani Reeves, Duxbury's Matt O'Keefe, Chelmsford's Tim Joy and Springfield Putnam's Melquawn Pinkney. In 2010, Everett wideout Matt Costello won the inaugural award after catching for 1,301 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Check back with us each Monday during the season, as we put out our weekly "Mr. Football Watch" tracking the contenders and highlight others potentiall on the rise.

The five finalists for the Mr. Football Award will be announced after Week 10 of the high school season. The winner will be announced on the Monday following the MIAA Super Bowls, and will be honored at Gillette Stadium before the Patriots' December 10 home game.

Here is the first ESPN Boston Mr. Football Watch List of the 2012 season:

Jon Baker, Jr. OL/DL, Millis/Hopedale
Dominant two-way lineman already claims offers from UMass, Boston College and UConn, and has interest from Michigan and Virginia.

Drew Belcher, Jr. QB, Reading
6-foot-4, 200-pounder one of the state's most punishing dual-threat signal-callers.

Vincent Burton, Sr. RB, Blue Hills
Randolph native has 54 rushing touchdowns since the start of 2010, more than any other active player in the state over that time.

Kenny Calaj, Sr. RB/LB, Everett
Transitioning to the Crimson Tide's feature back role, he's got plenty of sizzle, and will have the benefit of a hefty line.

Ozzy Colarusso, Sr. ATH, Weymouth
Versatile scatback plays every skill position for the Wildcats, and accumulated 17 touchdowns last season.

Sha'ki Holines, Sr. LB, Springfield Commerce
UConn-bound linebacker registered 132 tackles and six sacks last season.

Zach Hume, Sr. LB, Nashoba
Registered 122 tackles last season for the 13-0 Division 2 Super Bowl champs, and has varied Division 1 interest.

Maurice Hurst, Sr. DT, Xaverian
290-pound, Michigan-bound Canton resident is widely considered the state's best three-technique. He'll even carry the ball more, after last year's experiment with St. John's (Shrewsbury) led to 220 yards rushing.

John Montelus, Sr. OT, Everett
Notre Dame-bound road grader is considered one of the best left tackles in the Northeast, and will lead a line that among the nation's heaviest at nearly 318 pounds across.

Peter Ngobidi, Sr. DL/LB, Catholic Memorial
One of the better edge-setters around, UMass-bound defensive athlete is at least one ESPN Boston correspondent's pick as the state's best defensive lineman.

Marcus Odiah, Sr. RB, Burlington
His combination of speed and acceleration is matched by few backs in Eastern Mass.

Nick Peabody, Sr. QB, Barnstable
Led the Red Raiders to their first playoff appearance in a decade last season, in part-time duty.

Jared Taylor, Sr. RB/NG, Mashpee
Shot to the top of everyone's list after gassing Cardinal Spellman for a Gillette Stadium record 308 yards in the Division 4 Super Bowl.

Hunter Taute, Sr. RB/LB, Xaverian
Intimidating leader of the Hawks' defense, and will be a force at running back at 240 pounds.

Jonathan Thomas, Jr. RB, St. John's Prep
Already picking up Division 1 interest, poised for a breakout season in Jim O'Leary's rushing attack.

Quron Wright, Sr. RB, Holy Name
Lilliputian scatback needs 1,300 yards to surpass Emil Igwenagu's all-time rushing yards mark at the school.

Taute looks to lead No. 3 Xaverian over the hump

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
11:43
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Hunter Taute spent his middle school years in Dublin, Ohio, a city that sits just northwest of Columbus, where football is king.

On your typical Friday night at the high school he would have attended, he and the rest of his teammates for the Coffman Shamrocks would be playing in front of an average crowd of 17,500 people in the Buckeye State’s highest classification.

It is a program that has produced notable recent alums such as Brady Quinn, who starred at Notre Dame and is now a backup quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, and offensive lineman Mike Adams, who played at Ohio State and is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So when Taute’s family moved to Franklin before Hunter began high school, he wanted to go somewhere that shared a similar passion for the sport.

“From a young age, football was a way of life (in Ohio). They take it all serious. It’s a lot more important. Everyone cares more out there and everyone goes to the games.”

After cruising around the Xaverian page on the Maxpreps.com website, Taute knew where he wanted to go.

And while there won’t be a crowd approaching 20,000 people at the Hawk Bowl anytime soon, Taute is happy to be a Hawk, and his coach Charlie Stevenson may be even happier.

“Well, he’s 6-2, 245 and ran a 4.75 (40-yard dash) at the BC camp,” Stevenson said. “There’s not much more that needs to be said. He’s got good skills, he’s very versatile; he can run and catch and play defense. His versatility is very good.”

After playing with the freshmen in 2009, Taute was poised for a bigger role with the varsity as a sophomore before an injury sidelined him for most of the season. By the end of it, however, he was able to see the field at fullback.

Last season, he was the starting middle linebacker while retaining some of the same duties on offense. His fondest memory of 2011 came in a 27-9 win over St. John’s of Shrewsbury, where he played a stellar game on defense and combined with Maurice Hurst for 266 rushing yards in a downpour.

“That was one of the best games of my life so far,” said Taute, who holds an offer from Bryant and is also receiving interest from UConn, UMass, Boston College, UNH and Maine. “Me and Mo pretty much dominated that game. His 75-yard touchdown run sort of put (Xaverian) in the bigger picture and after that it set the tone for our running game.”

But for as well as the Hawks ran the ball at times last year, they had just as much trouble stopping it against the best teams on the schedule. The most glaring example came in a 42-21 loss at Everett when Vondell Langston, now at UMass, put up 208 yards on just 15 carries. St. John’s Prep’s Jonathan Thomas also had 202 yards in Xaverian’s 28-21 win on Thanksgiving.

For a team that returns a Michigan commit in Hurst at defensive tackle, Taute right behind him and nearly everyone else from last season’s front seven, a repeat performance would be a major disappointment.

“Last year it was pretty embarrassing the yards we gave up against the run,” said Taute, who now lives in Wrentham. “We work on tackling and making the other team have to pass more. With Mo, the pass rush is going to be great. The run defense should also be good but right now we’re stressing the inside run and draw.”

They’ll need to be at their best with the schedule in front of them. But after watching Catholic Conference rival BC High win the Division 1 Super Bowl last year, Taute would be glad to trade those big crowds back in Dublin for a little hardware on Clapboardtree Street.

“This year we want to get back on the horse,” he said, “get to the championship and take home the trophy.”

XAVERIAN AT A GLANCE
2011: 6-5 (2-2 Catholic Conference)
Coach: Charlie Stevenson (20th season, 158-52-1)
Key Returnees: Maurice Hurst, Sr. DT/FB, 6-3, 285 lbs.; Hunter Taute, Sr. MLB/FB, 6-2, 245 lbs.; Austin DeCarr, Sr. QB, 6-3, 195 lbs.; Ray Gobbi, Sr. OL/DT, 6-1, 285 lbs.; DJ Pagliuca, Sr. WR/DB, 5-10, 185 lbs.; Joe DeNucci, So. WR/DB, 6-0, 180 lbs.; Shayne Kaminski, Jr. OLB/RB, 5-10, 193 lbs.; Eddie Hanlon, Sr. OLB, 6-0, 185 lbs.; Mike Brennan, Sr. RB/DB, 6-0, 185 lbs.; DJ Sperzel, Jr. WR/DB, 6-3, 185 lbs.; AJ King, Jr. WR/DB, 5-10, 180 lbs.; Jordan Bayuk, Sr. DT, 6-2, 250 lbs.; Ryan MacLean, Sr. DE, 6-0, 190 lbs.; Elijah Jolly, Sr. DE, 6-3, 195 lbs.
Strengths: Skill positions, experience on defense, defensive line.
Weaknesses: Inexperience on offensive line, schedule.
Outlook: Over Stevenson’s tenure, Xaverian has proven its worth as one of those programs that will take on anyone at anytime. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the veteran coach, when asked how this schedule stacks up with his previous ones, said, “This is the toughest, I think.” But even with this layup-free slate that includes a trip to highly touted St. Joseph Regional of New Jersey, the Hawks have the potential to reach the postseason for the first time since 2009, where they defeated Everett in the Division 1 Super Bowl. Offensively, look for a faster tempo with DeCarr spreading the ball around to a deep corps of receivers. The running game should be strong once again with Hurst, Taute and Brennan expected to shoulder the load. Defensively, the Michigan-bound Hurst leads a strong front seven, while many of the same faces at receiver will fill the slots in the secondary. The one major concern Stevenson has expressed over the offseason is whether his inexperienced offensive line, which returns just one starter in Gobbi, can grow up fast enough to withstand the pressure opponents are sure to bring at DeCarr.

Scrimmage slants: B-R vs. Xaverian

August, 25, 2012
8/25/12
6:08
PM ET
Xavier FootballScott Barboza/ESPNBoston.com
WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Battles between Bridgewater-Raynham and Xaverian football have become rites of fall in recent memory.

Yet, that non-league rivalry has taken root in the teams’ annual passing scrimmage on the first weekend of the MIAA preseason calendar.

The Trojans and Hawks got back to work again Saturday morning at the Hawk Bowl, with Xaverian taking a slight edge in play. But after a nearly two-hour work through, both teams emerged with a lengthy list of both dos and don’ts.

“As a coach, looking down my list of notes here, there’s more negative than positive,” Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said, “but I thought there times defensively we played really well and we put good pressure on them.”

Trojans boss Dan Buron emphasized the fact that it’s very early, saying “I told the kids we made mistakes, but it’s nothing that isn’t correctable. “

Xaverian, ranked third in our preseason statewide Top 25 poll, got several big plays early from the arm of senior quarterback Austin DeCarr, including a 70-plus yard bomb for a touchdown.

The Hawks also came away with several interceptions in the early going, but B-R (No. 8 in preseason poll) settled into its offense behind incoming senior quarterback Jordan Cohen before long.

Here are a couple of observations and notes from this morning:

ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE
There was plenty of room for improvement on both sides, but both head coaches held their offensive lines in high praise.

Only once was B-R able to force DeCarr into a “sack” against Xaverian’s No. 1 offense.

Meanwhile, an experienced Trojans group held their own while facing off with a physical Hawks defensive front.

“I thought they did a good job today,” Buron said of his group. “Both teams know that have an advantage on defense because they know the pass is coming, but I thought our protection was good. They’re in good shape and we have some depth there.”

ANOTHER TO WATCH
Xaverian’s big bodies on the defensive line, as in Mo Hurst and Ray Gobbi, and linebacker Hunter Taute get plenty of attention. They’re also players opponents’ offensive coordinators will surely point out on film in the week leading up to playing the Hawks.

But what could make Xaverian dynamic on defense is the work of defensive end Elijah Jolly.

Stevenson singled out Jolly’s work on Saturday as the rangy, 6-foot-3, 215-pounder was able to establish the rush off the edge. If Jolly can keep up the pressure through the regular season, along with the Hawks solid interior defense, they could be very hard to beat.

MIXING IT UP
The Hawks have some bona fide targets in the passing game with Joe Bettinelli, Joe Denucci, D.J. Pagliuca and Greg Petrucci. But Stevenson primarily used Saturday to mixing up his personnel groups.

Denucci was also out nursing an injury, but Stevenson believes he’ll return for the Hawks’ opener at Malden Catholic.

While the scrimmage format slowed down the pace of play, Stevenson tried to turn out a bit of a new offensive identity for the Hawks, looking to go no-huddle.

Don’t fret though, the Hawks’ “500 pound” backfield combo of Hurst and Taute will see their time, as well.

“We have some players who can still run the ball, too,” Stevenson said. “We’ll put them to use.”

VALUABLE EXPERIENCE
The Trojans will be breaking in a lot of skill players this preseason with the graduation of quarterback Brad Deluliis and running backs Nick Schlatz and Branden Morin.

Cohen exhibited nice touch on several of his passes out of B-R’s bread-and-butter QB Waggle play.

While the running game was not featured, look for junior tailback Arcel Armstead to take on a bulk of the carries.

“They’re good,” Buron said of his running backs, “we just don’t have any game experience.”

Roundtable: Best players, league champs

August, 20, 2012
8/20/12
8:14
AM ET
In our first "Roundtable" of the 2012 football season, our high school staff and correspondents submitted their best position players in the state, and predicted champions for the state's most anticipated league races.

Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


Best QB: Nick Peabody, Barnstable
Best RB: Jared Taylor, Mashpee
Best WR: Jalen Felix, Everett
Best TE: Chris Collins, Walpole
Best OL: John Montelus, Everett
Best DL: Maurice Hurst Jr., Xaverian
Best LB: Luke Catarius, BC High
Best DB: Micah Morel, Brockton
Best K: Gilly De Souza, Everett
Best RET: Cam Farnham, Andover

Catholic Conference: Xaverian
MVC Large: Andover
MVC Small: Dracut
Bay State Carey: Needham
Bay State Herget: Natick
Old Colony: Barnstable
Atlantic Coast: Nauset
South Coast: Dighton-Rehoboth
Dual County Large: Lincoln-Sudbury
Dual County Small: Wayland
Patriot Keenan: Duxbury
Patriot Fisher: Pembroke
Hockomock Kelly-Rex: North Attleborough
Hockomock Davenport: Stoughton
NEC/CAL Tier 1: Masconomet
NEC/CAL Tier 2: Beverly
Middlesex Large: Reading
Middlesex Small: Wakefield
South Shore: Mashpee

Scott Barboza
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


Best QB: Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB: Jonathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR: Jalen Felix, Everett
Best TE: Chris Collins, Walpole
Best OL: John Montelus, Everett
Best DL: Maurice Hurst Jr., Xaverian
Best LB: Luke Catarius, BC High
Best DB: Alex Moore, St. John's Prep
Best K: Gilly De Souza, Everett
Best RET: Cam Farnham, Andover

Catholic Conference: BC High
MVC Large: Andover
MVC Small: Dracut
Bay State Carey: Weymouth
Bay State Herget: Natick
Old Colony: Barnstable
Atlantic Coast: Marshfield
South Coast: Dighton-Rehoboth
Dual County Large: Lincoln-Sudbury
Dual County Small: Concord-Carlisle
Patriot Keenan: Duxbury
Patriot Fisher: Pembroke
Hockomock Kelly-Rex: King Philip
Hockomock Davenport: Stoughton
NEC/CAL Tier 1: Lynn English
NEC/CAL Tier 2: Beverly
Middlesex Large: Reading
Middlesex Small: Wakefield
South Shore: Mashpee

Adam Kurkjian
ESPN Boston correspondent


Best QB: Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB: Jonathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR: Jakarrie Washington, Everett
Best TE: Chris Collins, Walpole
Best OL: John Montelus, Everett
Best DL: Maurice Hurst Jr., Xaverian
Best LB: Luke Catarius, BC High
Best DB: Jalen Felix, Everett
Best K: Jackson Bockhurst, BC High
Best RET: Ozzy Colarusso, Weymouth

Catholic Conference: BC High
MVC Large: Central Catholic
MVC Small: Haverhill
Bay State Carey: Weymouth
Bay State Herget: Walpole
Old Colony: Bridgewater-Raynham
Atlantic Coast: Dennis-Yarmouth
South Coast: Wareham
Dual County Large: Lincoln-Sudbury
Dual County Small: Concord-Carlisle
Patriot Keenan: Duxbury
Patriot Fisher: Pembroke
Hockomock Kelly-Rex: King Philip
Hockomock Davenport: Stoughton
NEC/CAL Tier 1: Lynn English
NEC/CAL Tier 2: Beverly
Middlesex Large: Reading
Middlesex Small: Wakefield
South Shore: Mashpee

Ryan Kilian
Founder, New England Prep Stars


Best QB: Drew Belcher, Reading
Best RB: Jonathan Thomas, St. John's Prep
Best WR: Jalen Felix, Everett
Best TE: Chris Collins, Walpole
Best OL: John Montelus, Everett
Best DL: Maurice Hurst Jr., Xaverian
Best LB: Luke Catarius, BC High
Best DB: Alex Moore, St. John's Prep
Best K: Gilly De Souza, Everett
Best RET: Cam Farnham, Andover

Catholic Conference: BC High
MVC Large: Central Catholic
MVC Small: Haverhill
Bay State Carey: Weymouth
Bay State Herget: Natick
Old Colony: Barnstable
Atlantic Coast: Dennis-Yarmouth
South Coast: Dighton-Rehoboth
Dual County Large: Lincoln-Sudbury
Dual County Small: Concord-Carlisle
Patriot Keenan: Duxbury
Patriot Fisher: Pembroke
Hockomock Kelly-Rex: Mansfield
Hockomock Davenport: Stoughton
NEC/CAL Tier 1: Masconomet
NEC/CAL Tier 2: Beverly
Middlesex Large: Reading
Middlesex Small: Wakefield
South Shore: Mashpee

Corey Allen
ESPN Boston Correspondent


Best QB: Nick Peabody, Barnstable
Best RB: Brendan Flaherty, Beverly
Best WR: Jakarrie Washington, Everett
Best TE: Chris Collins, Walpole
Best OL: John Montelus, Everett
Best DL: Peter Ngobidi, Catholic Memorial
Best LB: Luke Catarius, BC High
Best DB: Jalen Felix, Everett
Best K: Gilly De Souza, Everett
Best RET: Cam Farnham, Andover

Catholic Conference: BC High
MVC Large: Central Catholic
MVC Small: Dracut
Bay State Carey: Needham
Bay State Herget: Walpole
Old Colony: Bridgewater-Raynham
Atlantic Coast: Nauset
South Coast: Wareham
Dual County Large: Lincoln-Sudbury
Dual County Small: Boston Latin
Patriot Keenan: Duxbury
Patriot Fisher: Pembroke
Hockomock Kelly-Rex: North Attleborough
Hockomock Davenport: Stoughton
NEC/CAL Tier 1: Masconomet
NEC/CAL Tier 2: Beverly
Middlesex Large: Reading
Middlesex Small: Wakefield
South Shore: Mashpee

Hurst Jr.: Michigan choice 'Not that difficult'

June, 2, 2012
6/02/12
7:18
PM ET
Xaverian defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. committed to the University of Michigan on Saturday afternoon, while on an unofficial visit to the campus. He is now the fifth player from Massachusetts in the past two years to make a pledge to a Big Ten school, joining BB&N's Eric Olson (Northwestern); Catholic Memorial's Armani Reeves and Cam Williams (Ohio State); and Lawrence Academy's Marcus Grant, who signed with Iowa in February 2011 but has since transferred to Boston College.

The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Hurst chose the Wolverines after having previously made unofficial visits to Virginia, NC State, Duke, North Carolina and Michigan State. He also attended Ohio State's spring game in April.

Hurst, a Canton resident, spoke with ESPNBoston.com Friday night from Ann Arbor to talk about his commitment.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Hurst
Brendan Hall for ESPN.comMaurice Hurst Jr. (11) said, "At first I thought I was gonna commit to BC, then I thought I was gonna go to Virginia. Then Michigan came along, and I knew this was the school I wanted to go to."
Deciding factors: "The academic support is really great. All of the people in that building are really well put together. They've set up a program for all football players to not only graduate, but also have a job opportunity after football. Another big thing was the strength and conditioning coach [Aaron Wellman], he's a really great guy who knows what he's talking about, just very focused on injury prevention, and just keeping players fresh and healthy for the season.

"Meeting with coach [Brady] Hoke was probably the best part. He's trying to really make things family-oriented. He really cares about all the players as individuals. That was really big for me. It's about the whole package going there."

On the difficulty of his decision: "Not that difficult. After coming in, there was just that feeling, 'What if I went somewhere else?' or 'What if I committed when I thought I could go to another school?' At first I thought I was gonna commit to BC, then I thought I was gonna go to Virginia. Then Michigan came along, and I knew this was the school I wanted to go to."

How he fits into the program: "They're losing lot of guys [on the defensive line] next year, so I'm probably gonna get just the sophomores when I get there to compete for a job. They see me as nose tackle and a 3-technique, moving around on the field. Most of our defense is 4-3 base, and that’s how they run their defense. It's complex, but basically I'll be playing at nose and 3-technique."

On the amount of Bay Staters heading to top-tier Midwestern programs in the past two years (Everett junior offensive tackle John Montelus is also committed to Notre Dame): "It's really great, but I also think it's sad that all of us are from this area and none of us are going to BC. For Massachusetts players, it's kind of something you wouldn’t believe you'd be able to do, going to some of these schools that you see on TV -- Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, all the really big schools no one expects to play for. Even when I walk around campuses, people are like 'Where are you from?' I tell them I'm from Massachusetts and they're like, 'I didn’t know they play football there.'

"I was joking around with Cam [Williams] earlier. ... The trash talk has already started. But seriously, Cam’s just happy for my decision. He really cares about what I wanted to choose, and his dad really cared about helping me find the school that's the right fit for me, so that was just really important. You can't force a school. Someone can tell you to go to this school, but if you're not gonna be happy there, there's no point in picking the school."

What he'll be working on between now and the start of preseason camp in August: "Mostly this offseason I'll probably be working on my quick-twitch fibers, being able to explode, change direction quickly, my hand movements, lower-body strength. Basically being ready to play and compete, and hopefully trying to compete the year after for a position."

On meeting Patriots owner Robert Kraft at the MHSFCA combine last month at Gillette Stadium (his father, Maurice Sr., was a Patriot from 1989 to 1995): "It was a great experience meeting Mr. Kraft and talking to him. He was really nice to me. He's really nice to everyone. He's a really likable guy, all-around great person. ... [There was] kind of a sense of awe, knowing that he’s Mr. Kraft."

Xaverian's Hurst Jr. commits to Michigan

June, 2, 2012
6/02/12
4:14
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Maurice HurstBrendan Hall/ESPN BostonXaverian's Maurice Hurst Jr., the state's top defensive prospect, committed to Michigan while on campus Saturday afternoon.
Xaverian defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. has verbally committed to the University of Michigan for the fall of 2013, he announced this afternoon on Twitter.

"Committed to playing football at the University of Michigan!" he wrote in a post on his Twitter account.

The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Hurst, a Canton resident, is widely considered the state's top college prospect on the defensive side of the ball. He is ranked the No. 34 overall defensive tackle prospect in the nation by ESPN, as well as the No. 2 overall prospect in Massachusetts.

Last fall, Hurst was named to ESPN Boston's MIAA All-State Team as a defensive lineman after finishing the season with 61 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. He also racked up 200 yards rushing in a win over St. John's of Shrewsbury, including a memorable 75-yard touchdown run.

Hurst attended Ohio State's spring game in April, and had also made unofficial visits to Virginia, North Carolina, Duke and NC State. As last month's Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) combine at Gillette Stadium, Hurst told ESPNBoston.com he would make his decision after visiting both Michigan and Michigan State. He visited East Lansing yesterday, and is on campus in Ann Arbor today.

Notes from Mass. HS football combine

May, 7, 2012
5/07/12
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -– The Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association put on their annual scouting combine for rising seniors this afternoon at Gillette Stadium.

Some notes and observations on the happenings abound:

Baker on the Rise: Millis/Hopedale sophomore lineman Jon Baker is quickly rising on the recruiting radar both locally and nationally, not just for his imposing physicality in the trenches, but for his demeanor off the field as well. Coaches rave about his maturity; with the media, he is typically cordial and pointed in his answers.

But this question has him pausing for a moment, weighing over the right words to say: How would you describe yourself as a player?

“He’s thinking, so that’s a good thing,” chuckles his head coach, Dale Olmstead, just a few feet behind him. “Listen, I love seeing him sweat, because he does so many things so well. Now to see him squirm like this, I’m enjoying that.”

Finally, Baker begins, “I guess I’m physical…I like to hit. I like to pull. Move, block, you know, linemen stuff.”

These days, it’s hard to tell what’s the more impressive story coming out of Millis’ program these days: the Mohawks’ turnaround under Olmstead, capped with an appearance in the Division 4 playoffs last fall; or that out of such a small school with roughly 150 boys to pick from, this 6-foot-4, 305-pounder already holds a scholarship offer from one Division 1 school (UMass) and building varying degrees of interest from a score of others (Michigan, Viriginia, Boston College, Maryland, UConn, Stanford).

Wearing his frame well and with plenty of upside, Baker was named a Tri-Valley League All-Star in 2011, and will figure to rack up plenty more hardware over the next two seasons.

Athletically, he is quite impressive. He runs close to a 5.1-second 40-yard dash, benches over 400 and squats over 500. At the combine, he did 32 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press, the most out of any of the 300-plus participants.

As it currently stands, Baker said he will visit camps this summer at Virginia, BC and Wake Forest, with Michigan a possibility as well.

“It’s exciting definitely, just to know schools like that are interested in me,” Baker says quietly. “It’s a good feeling.”

Mo Carries, Mo Passes? Xaverian’s Maurice Hurst Jr., an ESPN Boston All-State selection last fall, was on site to support his teammates, but did not participate in drills. That didn’t stop the 6-foot-2, 290-pounder from stretching out with others during warm-ups and doing a few handstands.

You can place the big guy in the category of locals that have seen their stock take a meteoric rise, at least by Massachusetts standards. Like Catholic Memorial stars Armani Reeves and Cam Williams last year, and like Everett offensive tackle John Montelus this spring, Hurst has at least a dozen offers from Division 1 schools, including Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, UConn, Maryland, Nebraska, Missouri, North Carolina, BC and UMass.

“It’s been pretty hectic,” Hurst said of the last few months. “A lot of schools have contacted me, and then all the fans, everyone just trying to make me make a decision as soon as possible.”

Hurst attended Ohio State’s spring game last month, and has also taken unofficial visits to Virginia, North Carolina, Duke and NC State. He says he won’t be making any decision until after he has visited Michigan and Michigan State, dates for which haven’t been planned yet.

You can attribute part of the sudden rise in Hurst’s stock in one impressive touchdown run against St. John’s of Shrewsbury last fall. Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson typically pairs Hurst with tailback Hunter Taute in the backfield when in goal line and short-yardage situations. In this particular run, Hurst lined up at tailback, trucked a Pioneers defensive back and reeled off a 75-yard touchdown run in Vince Wilfork-like fashion.

Hurst made our All-State Team last season as a defensive tackle, and that will be his assignment at the next level. But six months after that posterizing run, Hurst is getting giddy talking about learning the passing tree.

That’s right, the big guy will be in 7-on-7’s this summer. Better yet, there’s a chance we could see him catching passes out of the backfield come the fall.

For now, though, Hurst will focus on improving his speed and conditioning – “A LOT of conditioning,” he adds.

Eyes on Chuddy: Out of all the line prospects in this Class of 2013, Dighton-Rehoboth’s Chuddy Nwachukwu might be the one with the most untapped potential.

For one, he is a legit 6-foot-7, and the younger brother of Mary Nwachukwu, currently a 6-foot-2 basketball center at St. John’s University. Chuddy went through some dominant stretches during the season for the Falcons, but also played at as much as 345 pounds.

Head coach Dave Driscoll says Chuddy, who was not present at the combine, has slimmed down to about 310 pounds. Chuddy has been working out five days a week with Greg Homel, a trainer at UMass-Dartmouth who has also helped develop former Dartmouth High standout and Minnesota Vikings running back Jordan Todman. All of Chuddy’s times, Driscoll says, have gone down, while “his agility has gone up.”

“He’s going in the right direction,” Driscoll said. “He is going to have to show D1 coaches that he is someone who is going in the right direction, and someone they can mold into what they want.”

In the meantime, as Driscoll alluded to, the Division 1 suitors are keeping tabs. NC State told Driscoll they are looking for three tackles for the 2013 recruiting class, while UConn told Driscoll they are in need for “quite a few” offensive linemen. Penn State, Iowa, Boston College and UMass are also showing varied degrees of interest.

Garcia A Sleeper? Legendary former Leominster coach John Dubzinski was seen walking around the Gillette turf this afternoon, but he wasn’t there to just catch up on old times. The names John, Walt and Mike Dubzinski are all household names in Central Mass., and now that coaching tree has extended into the Boston area.

John Dubzinski is now an assistant coach for his son, John, who is going into his second season as the head man for Arlington High. The Spy Ponders went 3-8 last season, and have struggled for most of the last two decades, but are on the up and up under this new regime.

And better yet, they might have one of the more underrated talents around.

Matt Garcia stars at both running back and linebacker for the Spy Ponders, and has been picking up interest from UMass and New Hampshire as of late. You have to think back to Liam Ezekiel, a former Buffalo Bill and all-time great at Northeastern, for the last time Arlington sent a linebacker to the Division 1 ranks. But Garcia certainly passes the eye test right now.

Wildcat Pride: Several players from the Gardner High squad were donning t-shirts with the score of their 2011 Thanksgiving game with archrival Oakmont Regional across the front – for the unfamiliar, that reads “Gardner 21, Oakmont 0”.

Full disclosure time. I’m an Oakmont alum, and in my three years on the Spartans’ varsity sideline we never lost to the Wildcats – including twice on their turf, Watkins Field. And if I’m not mistaken, we still hold a 2-to-1 advantage in overall wins in this series, arguably one of the most heated rivalries in Central Mass.

Still, not cool fellas...

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