Boston High School: Micah Morel

ESPN Boston 2012 MIAA All-State Team

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
7:07
PM ET
OFFENSE
All-StateQB -- Nick Peabody, Sr., Barnstable
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound signal-caller led the Red Raiders to their most successful season in over a decade, claiming the Old Colony League title outright, holding the No. 1 spot in ESPNBoston.com's statewide poll for seven weeks, and falling to Everett, 20-19, in a thrilling Division 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. For the season, he threw for 2,627 yards and 34 touchdowns while also carrying the ball 73 times for 366 yards and seven more scores. He is considering several Division 1 FCS schools for college.

All-StateQB -- Drew Belcher, Jr., Reading
In two years as the Rockets' starter under center, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound dual-threat quarterback has gone 21-4, including two Middlesex League titles and a Division 2 Super Bowl championship this season. Through the air, he was very efficient, completing 107 of 169 passes for 1,710 yards, 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions. On the ground he was just as dangerous, carrying 138 times for 804 yards and 15 scores.

All-StateQB -- Troy Flutie, Jr., Natick
The son of Boston College legend Darren Flutie, the younger Flutie endured a record-setting 2012 campaign in leading the Redhawks to the Division 2A Super Bowl title game. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,153 yards and 35 touchdowns to just eight interceptions, and on the ground he carried 167 times for 1,075 yards and 14 more scores.

All-StateQB -- Andrew Smiley, Jr., St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Smiley took the starting job during the preseason following injuries, and in his first year running the Pioneers' "Blur" offense, he set the Central Mass. single-season record for passing yardage. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder completed nearly 62 percent of his passes for 3,123 yards and 25 touchdowns; on the ground, he carried 141 times for 1,023 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Pioneers also led the state in yards from scrimmage, averaging 442.2 yards per game.

All-StateRB -- Jonathan Thomas, Jr., St. John's Prep
The Catholic Conference's Offensive MVP established himself as one of the state's most dangerous in leading the Eagles to their first Division 1 Super Bowl title in 15 seasons. The 6-foot, 195-pound Salem resident carried 220 times for 1,794 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also added nine catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns, and defensively added 20.5 tackles and two interceptions. Thomas currently holds a scholarship offer from UMass, but more are sure to follow.

All-StateRB -- Quron Wright, Sr., Holy Name
The 5-foot-6, 165-pounder finished his career as the all-time leading rusher at both his school and in Central Mass. This fall, he totaled 3,199 yards from scrimmage and 38 touchdowns for the Naps, who made the postseason for an eighth straight year. That includes 35 rushing touchdowns and a state-best 2,254 rushing yards, as well as 806 return yards and two return touchdowns. For his career, Wright has 5,891 rushing yards and 2,659 return yards, to go along with 95 touchdowns (84 rushing, seven kickoff return, two receiving, two interception return).

All-StateRB -- Brendan Flaherty, Sr., Beverly
Considered the most dynamic back of the Panthers' vaunted three-pronged rushing attack, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Flaherty led the Panthers to the Division 2A Super Bowl title and their first undefeated season in 100 years. On the season, he carried 160 times for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns, and added 10 catches for 236 yards and four more scores.

All-StateRB -- Dylan Oxsen, Jr., Plymouth South
By far the state's most surprising breakthrough this fall, Oxsen took Eastern Mass. by storm as the Panthers qualified for postseason for the first time in the school's 30-year history. After recording just three touchdowns last fall, the 5-foot-8, 205-pounder exploded for a state-best 40 rushing touchdowns in 2012, to go along with over 2,100 yards on the ground.

All-StateWR -- Brian Dunlap, Soph., Natick
Already off to a remarkable start to his young varsity career, the 6-foot Dunlap led the state in receiving, with 86 catches for 1,570 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also had 34 carries for 301 yards and another score. In just two years of varsity, Dunlap already has record-pace receiving totals: 155 catches, 2,742 yards, 35 touchdowns.

All-StateWR -- Jakarrie Washington, Sr., Everett
The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder was as dangerous on the ground as he was through the air, as the Crimson Tide captured their third straight Super Bowl championship. He caught 33 passes for 439 yards and nine touchdowns, and on the ground had 75 carries for 697 yards and 15 more scores. Defensively, he also recorded two picks and two fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

All-StateWR -- Elijah Scott, Sr., Cambridge
Scott exploded into the spotlight following the Falcons' shootout loss to Everett, and stayed there for good. On the season, he recorded 73 catches for 1,047 yards and 11 touchdowns, the latter tying a school record, as the Falcons went 7-4 for their first winning season since 2007.

All-StateWR -- Dylan Morris, Sr., Barnstable
The 6-foot, 180-pounder established himself as one of the region's best deep-ball threats, as the Red Raiders reached their first Super Bowl since 1999. On the season, he recorded 33 catches for 716 yards and 13 touchdowns. Morris signed a National Letter of Intent with UMass last month, for baseball.
All-StateWR -- Will Heikkinen, Sr., Andover
Part of one of the most dynamic receiving corps in Eastern Mass., the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder led the Golden Warriors in receptions (67) and receiving yards (1,126), to go along with nine touchdowns as the Warriors reached the Division 1 playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

All-StateTE -- Terrel Correia, Sr., Nantucket
Another one of the state's surprise breakthroughs, the 6-foot-7, 270-pounder was a matchup nightmare for the Mayflower League. On the season, he led the 4-7 Whalers with 26 catches and 372 yards for five touchdowns. Correia is verbally committed to UMass, where he plans on converting to the offensive line.

All-StateOL -- John Montelus, Sr., Everett
The Notre Dame-bound left tackle concluded his Crimson Tide career as a three-time Super Bowl champion. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder started on each of those Everett championship teams and was a finalist, the first-ever lineman, for our Mr. Football Award. Montelus, who didn’t allow a sack in his high school career, will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.

All-StateOL -- Rob Kosharek, Sr., Duxbury
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound road-grading tackle was a key part of a Dragons' offensive line that fueled the team to a then state-best 37-game winning streak, that only ended in a Division 2 playoff game against Mansfield. Kosharek led the team in pancake blocks with 28, nearly doubling the amount of Duxbury's second leading blocker.

All-StateOL -- Aaron Dyke, Sr., Auburn
The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder was among the state's most punishing road graders, as the Rockets won their fifth straight Central Mass. Super Bowl title. With Dyke leading the way, Auburn once again went over 3,000 mark in rushing (3,155 yards, 10.1 yards per carry, 53 TD) and accumulated 66 total scores and nearly 4,000 yards of offense. They also outscored the opposition 468-84, with four shutouts, to go 13-0 and captured the Division 3 Super Bowl title.

All-StateOL -- Matt Comerford, Sr., Reading
Reading was one of the state's most dominant offenses in capturing its second Division 2 Super Bowl title in four years, and the 6-foot-4, 270-pounder made sure the Rockets won the line of scrimmage. The Rockets were one of the best rushing attacks (2,544 yards, six yards per carry, 34 TD) and totaled 4,272 yards from scrimmge with 56 touchdowns. Comerford is also a standout goaltender on the Rockets' lacrosse team.

All-StateOL -- Joe Previte, Sr., Brockton
The 6-foot-2, 260-pounder played the interior and was a force for the Boxers, allowing them to total over 3,000 yards rushing in their newly-installed flexbone attack. Behind Previte, the Boxers averaged 255.5 rushing yards per game, among the state's best, and returned to the Division 1 Super Bowl for the first time since 2009. Previte also recorded 35 tackles and a sack as a defensive tackle.

All-StateATH -- Tedaro France, Sr., Barnstable
A true three-phase contributor, the Red Raiders receiver and defensive back was considered by his peers the MVP of Barnstable’s run at a Div. 1A Super Bowl. France tallied 41 receptions for 884 yards and 13 receiving touchdowns. He also had 682 combined return yards for 1,600 yards all-purpose yards and 19 total touchdowns.

ATH -- David Harrison, Jr., Weymouth
Quarterback, running back, wide receiver, it didn't matter which role Kevin Mackin asked the versatile Harrison to play this season. Harrison finished second in Division 1 with 21 touchdowns scored while hauling in 12 touchdown passes and throwing for eight more scores.

All-StateK -- Jackson Bockhorst, Sr., BC High
A feared weapon, not only in the kicking game but with his kickoffs, Bockhurst has earned the reputation as one of the most consistent kickers in the state during the last several seasons. In 2012, Bockhurst connected on three field goals and 17 point-after tries for 26 points.

***

DEFENSE
All-StateDL -- Maurice Hurst, Sr., Xaverian
As the Catholic Conference's Lineman of the Year, Hurst was a dominant force in the middle, recording 51 tackles (23 for loss), 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception. Offensively, he also ran for 63 yards and five touchdowns as the Hawks' goal line running back. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Hurst is the state's No. 2 overall prospect, and will be heading to Michigan next year.

All-StateDL -- Jon Baker, Jr., Millis/Hopedale
Considered one of New England's top Class of 2014 prospects, Baker dominated the Tri-Valley League once again as the Mohawks made a second straight Division 4 playoff appearance. As a defensive tackle, he registered 78 tackles with four sacks, and was named the league's Lineman of the Year for the second straight season. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound Baker currently holds offers from UMass, UConn and Boston College.

All-StateDL -- Peter Ngobidi, Sr., Catholic Memorial
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Hyde Park resident established himself as one of the state's premier edge-setting defensive athletes, despite the Knights' struggles to a 2-8 campaign. Off the edge, he led the Knights in sacks (12), ranked second in tackles (68) and recorded three forced fumbles. Ngobidi will continue his career next fall at UMass.

All-StateDL -- Jeff Soulouque, Sr., Everett
Soulouque was a feared pass-rusher coming of the edge of the Crimson Tide defense which allowed just 12.6 points per game for the three-time defending Super Bowl champions.
All-StateLB -- Marshall McCarthy, Sr., Duxbury
Perhaps the most surefire tacklers in the state, McCarthy was the fulcrum of the Dragons' defense at his inside linebacker position. The 6-foot, 195-pounder led the team in tackles with 116 (79 solo), averaging nearly 10 tackles per game, and sacks with 12.5. He also had two forced fumbles and an interception.

All-StateLB -- Sha'ki Holines, Sr., Springfield Commerce
The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is bound for UConn next season and was capable in the pass rush and he is adept at stuffing the run. Holines also finished the season with two touchdowns on offense.
All-StateLB -- Zack Hume, Sr., Nashoba
The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder was one of the most feared linebackers across the state, as the Chieftains captured their second straight Central Mass. Division 2 Super Bowl title to extend their win streak to a state-best 26 games. Hume totaled 113.5 tackles on the season, giving him over 100 for the third straight year, with 10.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, a sack and an interception. Hume is also the two-time Defensive MVP of Mid-Wach B.

All-StateLB -- Andrew Ellis, Sr., Barnstable
Leading one of the state's most aggressive, athletic front sevens, the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder recorded over 100 tackles as the Red Raiders spent seven weeks at No. 1 in our statewide poll and reached their first Super Bowl since 1999. He had 105 tackles on the season, to go along with four interceptions and two forced fumbles.

All-StateLB -- Brad Schiff, Sr., Sharon
At just 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds, Schiff came away with the Defensive MVP award in the competitive Hockomock League. He recorded 174 tackles (17 for loss), four forced fumbles, a sack and an interception as the Eagles unexpectedly captured the Eastern Mass. Division 3 Super Bowl title in their first-ever postseason appearance. For his career, Schiff had 320 tackles (36 for loss), seven forced fumbles, three sacks and an interception.

All-StateLB -- Sean Smerczynski, Jr., St. John's Prep
The 5-foot-10, 216-pounder was an integral force for the Eagles as they captured their first Division 1 Super Bowl title in 15 seasons. On the year, he recorded 76 tackles, six tackles for loss, a sack and two fumble recoveries and was named a Catholic Conference All-Star.

All-StateDB -- Alex Moore, Sr., St. John's Prep
Earlier this week, Moore was named ESPN Boston's Mr. Football for the 2012 for his impact in all three phases of the game. On offense, he carried the ball 112 times for 857 yards and 14 touchdowns, and added a team-high 20 receptions for 455 yards and five more scores. Defensively, he recorded 67 tackles from the strong safety position, to go along with four forced fumbles, four interceptions (including a return for a TD) and five tackles for loss.

All-StateDB -- Micah Morel, Sr., Brockton
One of the top safeties in the state, Morel was also asked to play quarterback for several weeks when Austin Roberts was lost to injury for the Division 1 EMass Super Bowl finalists.
All-StateDB -- Jalen Felix, Sr., Everett
Playing lock-down corner, Felix tallied two interceptions for the three-time reigning Super Bowl champions. Felix also made his presence felt on the offensive side of the ball, leading the Crimson Tide in rushing with 684 yards for nine touchdowns. He also tallied three receiving touchdowns in addition to a kick return for a score.

All-StateDB -- Lucas Bavaro, Sr., St. John's Prep
The Dartmouth commit was one of the most hard-hitting forces in the state, playing a hybrid role of linebacker and free safety for the EMass Division 1 champion Eagles. Bavaro finished third on the Eagles with 46.5 tackles (41 solo), including five tackles for loss. He also tallied two interceptions, two forces fumbles, a fumble recovery and two punt blocks.

All-StateRET -- Cam Farnham, Sr., Andover
Always a big-play threat in the return game, Farnham was also a integral part of Andover's vaunted passing attack. The shifty speedster hauled in 11 touchdown receptions with two returns for a score.

Recap: Brockton 33, Weymouth 7

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
2:49
AM ET



WEYMOUTH, Mass. -– The last time Brockton was in an MIAA Division 1 Super Bowl, gas prices were around $3, the housing market was spiraling downward, and Barack Obama had just been elected President.

Nothing crazy, right? Well, just understand that four years is an eternity in Brockton.

The Boxer faithful are known for their uniquely feverish blend of paranoia and restlessness, and aren’t afraid to let it be known to the players, coaches and everyone in between.

“We were beyond sick and tired of it, especially after last year,” said senior safety Micah Morel, alluding to their disappointing 5-6 finish in 2011. “We were absolutely disgusted with not being in the playoffs the last two years. We just wanted to turn this ship around.”

Said quarterback Austin Roberts, “They’re always coming up to you, and no one’s happy until you win a Super Bowl."

For now, everyone can rest easy. Brockton (9-3) is back in its first Division 1 Super Bowl since 2008, by way of an easy 33-7 victory over Bay State Carey champion Weymouth at the latter’s home field, thanks to a dominant rushing attack that gained 432 yards with just a single passing attempt.

Brockton hasn’t won a Super Bowl since taking back-to-back titles in 2004-05, when quarterback Jessy Resende and tailback Junior Penn were taking New England by storm and the Boxers were getting love in national polls. If they are to bring home the third Super Bowl title of the Peter Colombo era, they’ll have to do beat St. John’s Prep, which won the first meeting, 27-12, in Week 4.

“It’s been a while,” Colombo said.

Alluding to the Boxers’ first Super Bowl title in the first year of the era, in 1972, he continued, “We’re hoping to get back, and 40 years later...We started it off in ’72, and we’re hoping to put the brackets around this era.”

As usual, the dominant ground game was primarily the work of a four-pronged attack in the Boxers’ flex scheme: Roberts (18 carries, 125 yards, 2 TD), and senior running backs Moise Edouard (seven carries, 106 yards, TD), Ricardo Calixte (eight carries, 88 yards, TD) and Morel (10 carries, 90 yards, TD).

The Wildcats (8-4) stacked the box with its 50 front, yet the Boxers were able to establish the edge consistently, for big gains. Leading the attack as usual was Roberts, unafraid to lower his shoulder and charge forward and making the correct read on the option seemingly every play.

“He was very, very efficient tonight,” Morel said. “He played ‘Augie-Ball’ tonight. It was great.”

It started on the Boxers’ opening drive of the game, gift-wrapped for them at the Wildcats’ 19 after a Weymouth fumble on the first play of the game. Four plays later, Roberts tossed out wide to Morel, who glided over the left pylon for the game-opening score just two minutes into the contest.

Weymouth drove all the way to the Boxers’ 20 on the next drive, but stalled after quarterback David Harrison threw incomplete looking for the end zone. Going the other way, the Boxers completed a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive thanks to Edouard’s work, taking an off-tackle 44 yards down to the Weymouth 3 then punching it in on a dive the next play.

Then, the weirdest thing happened. Brockton’s kicker slipped as he went to kick, getting the nose of the ball, and the ball rolled 10 yards only to bounce off a Weymouth blocker into the hands of Brockton’s Justin Ahanon. Three plays later, the 215-pound Calixte made it 21-0 just 11 minutes into the contest with a 38-yard touchdown scamper, sprung loose by an Edouard kick-out block and cutting back at the left sideline with 10 yards to go for an easy score.

Defensive Back U: Year after year, the Boxers’ secondary churns out future Division 1 college athletes, this year being the Bryant University-bound Morel. Tonight, the unit made arguably the statement of the game after the offense fumbled the ball away on the first play of the second half. Harrison used a bubble screen to Ozzy Colarusso and a 24-yard QB draw to give the Wildcats first and goal from the Boxer 4.

Earlier in the game, Harrison knifed through the defense with a slick 18-yard touchdown pass to Colarusso. The play was drawn up perfectly, with trips to the right, both inside receivers running out routes and the outside man – Colarusso – cutting to the goal post on a slant.

This time, however, Harrison threw four incompletions to end the drive. Roberts then led the Boxers 96 yards the other way, accounting for 52 of the yards plus the score to make it 33-7.

“If we elimintated Harrison from extending the plays, we knew we had a good shot,” Morel said. “We’ve been playing great lockdown defense on the outside with our corners and our secondary the past few weeks, and we knew if we could contain Harrison then we had a good shot at winning this game.”

And how did they contain?

“Pressure up front, linebackers took their key steps,” he said. “Stay in the cutback lanes and just make sure that he wasn’t going to get anywhere.”

Tanks in the trenches: The Boxers installed their “Flex” offense, an option-based scheme utilizing multiple wing-backs (popularized by college programs such as Navy and Georgia Tech), as a way to take advantage of Roberts’ run-first exploits and the running back depth. Suffice to say it’s more than paid off, as the Boxers have run for 3,066 yards and 37 touchdowns as a team, with an average of 255.5 yards per game, making them among the state’s most efficient rushing attacks.

It’s a misdirection offense, but also one predicated on mobile linemen. Led by 6-foot-2, 260-pound road grader Joe Previte, the Boxers controlled the line of scrimmage from the opening whistle. It was an efficient night, calling 45 running plays and averaging 9.6 yards per run.

“The o-line has been great all season,” Roberts said. “They’re the best part of our team, offensive line and defensive line. They did a great job today. They controlled the line of scrimmage, made it easy for the backs.”

For all the headlines Roberts and Morel tend to grab, Weymouth head coach Kevin Mackin agreed it's the guys in the trenches that are the key ingredient.

"The most impressive part is that offensive line -- they are very, very physical," he said. "They've played a lot of years together obviously, and we threw everything we had at them. I think at one point we had all 11 guys in the box, and they still pushed us back. So, you've got to tip your hat to a team like that. They're very physical."

BROCKTON 33, WEYMOUTH 7

BRO (9-3) 7 20 6 0 --- 33
WEY (8-4) 0 7 0 0 --- 7


First Quarter
B - Micah Morel 8 run (De'Andre Brown kick) 7:58

Second Quarter
B - Moise Edouard 3 run (kick blocked) 9:30
B - Ricardo Calixte 38 run (Austin Roberts run )8:06
W - Ozzy Colarusso 18 pass from David Harrison (Colarusso kick) 2:27
B - Roberts 5 run (kick blocked) :16

Third Quarter
B - Roberts 2 run (rush failed) 3:07

Five on the Rise from Turkey Day

November, 23, 2012
11/23/12
7:56
PM ET
Presenting to you five, players, groups, teams and scenes on the rise heading from Turkey Day into the postseason.

5. STIFLING DEFENSES
Perhaps no team impressed more on the defensive side of the ball than St. John’s Prep, which authoritatively stamped its postseason pass book with a 9-0 shutout against Xaverian. Of course, the Hawks were equally up to the task with a huge day from its four-man line of Joe Gaziano, Ray Gobbi, Mo Hurst, and Elijah Jolly.

Yet, the Eagles were also able to control the line of scrimmage coming off their blocks. Chris Newton, a lunch pail linebacker turned defensive tackle, might have had the game of his life with two sacks, including a strip-sack. Feeding off the double-teams generated by fellow tackle Corey Jean-Jacques, the duo were able to create an interior pass rush, and help bottle up the Hawks’ physical backfield of Hurst and Hunter Taute.

Still, the performance of the day belonged to the Newton North secondary. The Tigers terrorized Brookline for six interceptions in the 116th annual meeting between the Bay State Conference rivals. Newton North also returned two of the picks to the house, a difference-maker in a 21-0 defensive maelstrom. Junior defensive back Jack Boucher led the charge with three interceptions, including a pick-six.

4. THE BERLUTI HOUSEHOLD
In lifting Westwood to a 42-14 win over perennial Tri-Valley League Large favorite Holliston, the Wolverines punched a card to their first postseason date since their Super Bowl season of 2004.

Leading Westwood’s aerial attack was Alex Berluti. The senior completed 14 of 17 attempts for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Naturally, his top target was brother Bo Berluti. Bo finished the game with five catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.

"It’s nice throwing to him," Alex Berluti told correspondent Bruce Lerch on Thursday. "It’s fun. It was memorable. I’ll have that for the rest of my life."

3. PIONEERS AFOOT
In projecting the result of the penultimate CAL/NEC Tier 3 game between Lynnfield and North Reading earlier this week on our podcast, I talked about Pioneers quarterback Mike Karavestos and his ability to change the game with his arm. Turned out I was partially right, but I underestimated Karavestos’ running ability. The tough-nosed signal-caller’s 157 yards on the ground on 19 carries set the tone for Lynnfield and his rushing touchdown truly was the difference-maker in a tightly contested 14-7 win over the Hornets, propelling Lynnfield into the playoffs.

2. AUGGIE TO MICAH … AUGGIE TO MICAH …
We all know what Austin Roberts means to Brockton and its offense. When one of the state’s toughest pound-for-pound athletes is running the Boxers’ Georgia Tech-style option game, few teams can find an answer. But in Thursday’s win over Bridgewater-Raynham, another encouraging sign for Brockton’s postseason hopes emerged. While Roberts dropped back to pass just five times against a stingy Trojans’ defense, he managed to complete four of those passes for 90 yards – all of those completions went to game MVP – and one could argue – Boxers’ MVP Micah Morel. Morel also grabbed a touchdown pass against B-R. While the ground game will continue to be the Boxers’ key to success, if Roberts and Morel can continue to dial up big plays in the passing game through the playoffs, Brockton will be that much more difficult to dissect defensively.

1. A FEELING OF THANKS
While Upper Cape Tech has plenty to be thankful for, what with securing the program’s first-ever playoff berth with a 42-18 win over Cape Cod Tech. However, if Holbrook/Avon beat West Bridgewater on Thanksgiving, the Rams would’ve had to sweat out a coin flip in a three-way tie-breaker procedure to determine who would represent the Mayflower Small in Saturday’s Super Bowl against Dorchester.

Thankfully, it didn’t come to that as West Bridgewater beat H/A, alleviating any potential agony.

As a token of thanks, we wonder if Rams coach Mike Hernon picked up anything on Black Friday as a thank you gift to the Wildcats?

Recap: No. 9 Brockton 41, Cath. Memorial 6

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
12:16
AM ET
WEST ROXBURY, Mass. -- No. 9 Brockton defeated Catholic Memorial 41-6 on the heels of De’Andre Brown (two interceptions) and Ryan Kelley (two fumble recoveries, kick block) leading the defensive charge. Aaron LeClair (two rushing TDS) and Austin Roberts (one rushing TD, one passing) led the Boxers offensively.

“I was kind of surprised it was this easy, but we’ll take it”, said Brockton coach Peter Colombo.

Although CM (2-6) did not score until the fourth quarter, the Knights were moving the ball well for a time in the first half, but direct turnovers and failure to convert on third down were crucial to the Knights.

“When you’re playing a team like Brockton, you can’t turn the ball over at all,” said CM coach Alex Campea. “We’ll go back to the drawing board come Monday and we’ll be on the field working at it to get better.

Brockton has been turning up the defensive play, according to Colombo, and capitalized on those opportunities yesterday.

“The defense has been playing good football three weeks in a row,” added Colombo. “I have been very impressed by their hitting too.”

On the offensive front, Ricardo Calixte came up big for the Boxers, ripping a 52-yard run on their first possession, following Kelley’s first fumble recovery, to set up Brockton’s first score. Calixte, along with LeClair and Roberts, got good-sized holes from the offensive line and took advantage of the speed benefit once they were in the open field to produce extra yardage.

“They were blocking good, moving people and giving up space,” said LeClair. “This was a big week.”

Jimenez Injured Early: With 5:30 left in the first quarter, senior running back Luis Jimenez took a handoff from Austin Roberts and broke left with a touchdown on his mind. He laid out his body and broke the plane with the ball, lighting up the scoreboard for Brockton. As the team and fans alike celebrated the first score of the day, Jimenez remained on the ground with little movement. Jimenez was immobilized, placed onto a gurney, transferred to a stretcher and taken to hospital with an undisclosed leg injury.

As the World Turns: Last year, Catholic Memorial blanked Brockton 26-0. After Brockton went up early, talk of last year’s game and this year’s opposite outcome spread through the press box, airwaves and in the crowd.

“We twisted it around on them. They were a great team last year,” said Colombo. “And I think we’re turning into a pretty good team this year, We’re right where we want to be.”

Lunch Of Champions: While some students complain about school lunch, Ryan Kelley has made the grub at Brockton High School a part of his regiment.

“I had a chicken sandwich during school,” said Kelley with a laugh when asked about his game day menu. “After that I went to D’Angelo’s and had my meatball sub. That’s my ritual.”

BROCKTON 41, CATHOLIC MEMORIAL 6
BR (6-3) 7 21 13 0 --- 41
CM (2-6) 0 0 0 6 --- 6


First Quarter
B – Luis Jimenez 12 run (Levon Merian kick)

Second Quarter
B – Aaron LeClair 6 run (Merian kick)
B – LeClair 4 run (Merian kick)
B – Micah Morel 17 pass from Austin Roberts (Merian kick)

Third Quarter
B – LeClair 12 run (Merian kick)
B – Roberts 1 run (Kick failed)

Fourth Quarter
CM – Darren Wagner 3 run (kick blocked)

Recap: No. 9 Brockton 14, No. 14 Leominster 6

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
11:48
PM ET
LEOMINSTER, Mass. -- The Brockton High football team has been searching for a key win they could hang their hats on all season.

After alternating wins and losses in the first seven weeks, the No. 9 Boxers finally put together to wins in a row when they bested No. 14 Leominster, 14-6, on the road at Doyle Field on Friday night.

“It was huge,” said Brockton senior receiver and defensive back Micah Morel. “We’ve been waiting to get that two wins straight to get the ball rolling and pick up some momentum going into the late part of the season. We want to get on a nice run. This was definitely a big win, because Leominster is a really good team.”

The Blue Devils (5-3) only found the end zone once despite moving the ball pretty well all night. They finished with 316 yards of total offense, led by Garrett DelleChiaie’s 225 passing yards.

“They moved it in the middle of the field because they’re a good team and their very well-coached,” Brockton head coach Peter Colombo said. "We talked to the kids all year about adversity, and bending, but always hanging tough. The kids believe they can stop other teams.

"I love our defense, and they’re getting better all the time. That’s a really good team and holding them to six is not easy.”

Early on, it looked Leominster was headed for a night filled with offensive fireworks.

After they forced a turnover on downs on Brockton’s game-opening possession, DelleChiaie hit a wide open Jake Allain for a 55-yard strike on what looked like a blown coverage. Kervin Jean-Claude chased him down from behind, finally bringing down with a desperation dive at his legs from behing.

The next play Shane O’Donnell cruised through a huge hole the offensive line created for another five yards. Just as it looked like Brockton didn’t have an answer for anything Leominster was doing, Jean-Claude forced stripped Mayson Williams on the next carry and the Boxers came away with the ball.

The Boxers went the other way but eventually stalled out and gave the ball after another turnover of downs. Leominster took over at their 33 with 2:40 left in the first, and a false start sent them backward before they could even get a snap off.

The false start, however, was the only thing that didn’t go right on that drive. DelleChiaie tossed a play-action pass to Neil O’Connor in the flat and he raced 26 yards for a first down. He caught the next pass, a 12-yard out pattern that moved the sticks again.

O’Donnell went 14 yards up the middle on the next handoff, setting up a first down at the Boxer 20. DelleChiaie dropped back and floated a ball to the back left corner of the endzone that came down in O’Connor’s outstretch hands for a touchdown just 1:17 after the drive began.

A bad snap meant Leominster didn’t get a point after try off but they had a 6-0 lead and a ton of momentum.

Brockton, which rushed for 264 yards in the win, benefitted from a late-hit penalty on the ensuing kickoff. They went to work on a 10-play drive that last just over five minutes and went 51 yards before quarterback Austin Roberts followed his offensive linemen into the endzone on a 1-yard keep play up the middle.

Levon Merian’s kick was good and the Boxers led 7-6.

Brockton’s defense forced Leominster into a turnover on downs on the ensuing drive, taking over at their own 33.

Aaron LeClair made sure the Boxers extended their lead on the next drive – and he never he touched the ball. On the third play of the drive, he took two linebackers out of the play with blocks that sprung Luis Jimenez for a 37-yard gain. The next play, he played the role of lead-blocker again, this time putting a linebacker flat on his back Roberts scampered in from 13 yards for another score.

“I’ll have to credit Ralph Roberts,” Colombo said. “He coaches our wideouts and they’re blocking the hell out of people. Aaron is a great blocker.”

LeClair put an end to Leominster’s attempt at adding a quick score before the half when he picked off DelleChiaie on the next drive. He took the ball 41 yards the other way before being forced out of bounds.

A penalty moved the Boxers backward as time wound down, and Merian’s field goal attempt from 36 yards had the distance but hooked just wide as the half ended.

The third quarter was controlled almost entirely by Leominster’s offense. Their opening drive lasted just shy of four minutes and ended in a turnover on downs. Brockton went three-and-out – their only three offensive plays of the quarter – resulting in a punt back to the Blue Devils.

For the remainder of the quarter, Leominster held the ball but couldn’t get it into the endzone. Brockton finally forced a turnover on downs on the second play of the fourth quarter.

“Ending the third quarter without giving up a point was a big lift for us,” said Morel. “Everything clicked together. We played with a lot of passion. There was a lot of communication. Talk, talk, talk. Just making sure everyone was in the right position.”

Brockton followed up with a lengthy drive of its own, running just over seven minutes off the clock before punting in a fourth-and-8 from their own 41. Justin Ahanon’s punt finally settled at the 8-yard line, giving Leominster a long field and long shot at a comeback win.

After advancing the ball as far as the 34, DelleChiaie tossed a pass deep down the left sideline into double coverage. De’Andre Brown raced under the ball for an interception.

Brockton picked up a first down when Roberts took an option-keeper 11 yards up field on the next possession and was able to take knees from there to end it.

The Boxers spread out the yards in the win.

Roberts had 14 carries for 67 yards (and was 2-for-3 passing for 33 yards), Ricardo Calixte had 12 carries for 60 yards, Leclair finished with 54 yards on nine carries and Jimenez had 49 yards on four carries.

AERIAL ATTACK NOT ENOUGH
Interceptions aside, DelleChiaie had a pretty impressive day throwing the ball for the Blue Devils. He went 13-for-19 passing in the win while accounting for 225 yards through the air. O’Connor was his top target all night, catching seven balls for an impressive 111 yards in the loss.

Allain was the only other person with more than one catch, and he had two of them for 73 yards.

While the passing game picked up plenty of yards, the running game was never able to their feet underneath them, and finished with just 91 total yards on the ground.

“It’s one of those games where we just couldn’t get the ball in,” said Blue Devils coach Dave Palazzi. “They played us tough and really locked us down when we got inside the 20. It was tough to connect. We had a few new wrinkles in there but we just didn’t make the plays today.”

Recap: Pinkerton (N.H.) 20, No. 8 Brockton 14

October, 13, 2012
10/13/12
12:56
AM ET


BROCKTON, Mass. –- Despite fumbling the ball, losing it four times, and an interception, the Brockton Boxers made it a game down the last two minutes. But the New Hampshire power Pinkerton Astros concluded the teams’ 19-year interstate rivalry in dramatic fashion, with a stern defensive stand late in the fourth quarter, to win out 20-14.

“I think [turnover ratio] made all the difference in the world,” said Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly.

Brockton last took possession of the ball with 2:33 left in the game, in receipt of the ball following Pinkerton gave up their fourth lost fumble. After Aaron LeClair and Micah Morel rushed for seven and five yards, respectively to get the first down, the Boxer fans were licking their lips, hoping their team could drive the 43 yards to the end zone to tie the game, and either kick or convert on the extra point to win.

On the following play, Brockton spiked the ball at 1:50 to stop the clock. On second down, Aaron LeClair (2 TDs) caught the ball in the middle of Pinkerton defenders but could not hold on. On second down, a screen pass from Morel to Ricardo Calixte netted a two-yard loss, leaving Brockton with a fourth and 12 from the Pinkerton 45.

Morel decided to go back to LeClair on a swing pass to the left, and the ball hit LeClair, but he was again unable to hold onto it. Regardless, he was surrounded by Pinkerton defensive backs and linemen who slid over to secure the victory. Had he caught the ball, nothing short of an apparition could have granted him the opportunity to run for the first down.

Before giving the ball up for the last time, Pinkerton had an interesting series.

Recovering the ball for the fourth time on the day, and starting from their own 47, Pinkerton first received a facemask penalty to move back to the 32. An illegal motion made it first and 30 for the Rockets. Jake Lisauskas carried the ball for four yards before a delay of game set up a second and 29 for Pinkerton.

Conroy fumbled the ball on the following play and fell on it for three-yard loss setting up 3rd and 32. Manny Latimore (27 carries, 150 yards) took the ball one yard before David Andrews’ 35-yard punt, which was nearly blocked.

“We were on our heels the whole time,” added O’Reilly. “Our offense went into the tank in the fourth quarter. We really couldn’t sustain a drive. I thought we could get that last one and run the time out and we couldn’t.”

Tradition's future on hold: Pinkerton and Brockton have been playing each other for the last 17 years. Last night’s match was the last scheduled between the two teams due to shifting schedules for Pinkerton which do not allot any open dates.

“We came in here, a long, long time ago, got the first one, got the last one,” joked O’Reilly. “It’s been an honor to play this program. I hope we can get back in the future.”

Brockton coach Peter Colombo admires not only the competitive side of the nearly two decade relationship, but the camaraderie that has been birthed out of a mutual occupation as head coach of premier football teams.

“We’re going to miss it,” Colombo added.

PINKERTON (N.H.) 20, BROCKTON 14
PA (6-1) 7 13 0 0 -- 20
BR (3-3) 6 8 0 0 – 14


First Quarter
P – Manny Latimore 27 run (Erik Anderson kick)
B – Aaron LeClair 82 punt return (kick failed)

Second Quarter
P – James Toohey 33 pass from Sean Conroy (Anderson kick)
B – LeClair 26 run (Micah Morel pass from Isaiah Kearns)
P – Ryan Day 1 run (kick failed)

ESPN Boston Week 6 football picks

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
2:49
AM ET
NO. 9 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (4-1) AT NO. 16 LONGMEADOW (4-1)

The Skinny: This battle between the two top teams in Western Mass. should be must-see material. Central snapped Longmeadow's 52-game league win streak last October in thrilling fashion, 21-20, but took one on the chin to the Lancers in the rematch, the Division 1 West Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. Central will be without quarterback Cody Williams in this one, while 'Meadow has looked sharp with Frankie Elder moving back to his natural position of tailback.

Scott Barboza: Picking with tradition here. Longmeadow, 26-21.

Brendan Hall: Speed is the name of the game in this one, and the Eagles tout too much for Longmeadow to harness. But expect the Lancers to play ball control in this one. Central, 28-25.

NO. 1 BARNSTABLE (5-0) AT DARTMOUTH (2-3)

The Skinny: After an emotionally-charged upset of Everett on September 28, Barnstable suffered a hiccup last weekend, nearly falling upset to New Bedford before Tedaro France pulled them through. In a three-team Old Colony League, there can be no hiccups, and if the Red Raiders come out sloppy again, something tells us Dartmouth could throw a haymaker.

Barboza: I look for the Red Raider to get the vertical passing game going early and often. Barnstable, 31-17.

Hall: I'll never count out Dartmouth as long as Rick White is running the show over there. How does that sound? Barnstable, 21-14.

PINKERTON ACADEMY (N.H.) (5-1) AT NO. 8 BROCKTON (3-2)

The Skinny: We don't know what to think going into this one. Last season, the Boxers traveled north of the border and delivered a 21-14 win over heavily-favored Pinkerton, en route to a 5-6 season. This year, though, the Astros have a breakout campaign on their hands with junior running back Manny Latimore. It will also be interesting to see how the Boxers respond without Augie Roberts under center in this one, but Micah Morel has done an adequate job so far. Brockton has won seven of the last eight meetings headed into this one.

Barboza: Astros get thrown for a loop like George Jetson on the space treadmill. Brockton, 28-17.

Hall: I just can't get 2011's result out of my head, and that's not to be taken as a shot against the Astros' 2012 squad. It's just Brockton has had their number for some time, and always finds a way to win. Brockton, 17-10.

NO. 2 EVERETT (4-1) AT XAVERIAN (1-4)

The Skinny: One team (Everett) looked sloppy in a 51-30 win. The other (Xaverian) showed encouraging signs in a 20-16 loss. Something's got to give, and while picking Everett in this one sounds like a sure thing, one has to wonder if the Hawks are starting to turn the corner and figure this out at just the right time.

Barboza: BHall, duck and hide time? Xaverian, 34-31.

Hall: No, you may not have my mailing address. Xaverian, 13-10.

NO. 15 ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY (4-1) AT NO. 3 ST. JOHN'S PREP (4-1)

The Skinny: Few teams have been as strong on the ground so far as St. John's Prep, with its dynamic duo of senior Alex Moore and junior Jonathan Thomas, and the Eagles have begun to open the playbook the last few weeks. St. John's of Shrewsbury, on the other hand, is coming off a disappointing loss to its rival just a half-mile down Route 140, Shrewsbury High. But not just any loss -- a 51-45 shootout loss. Can the Pioneers rebound for an upset of Prep, or will they fall victim to a strong run game again?

Barboza: There will be running holes to be had. Prep, 45-41.

Hall: If you can run on this Shrewsbury squad, you can do a lot of things, and Prep can certainly move the ball on the ground. But the Pioneers will make this interesting with its hyper uptempo pace. Prep, 38-35.

SHARON (5-0) AT NO. 11 KING PHILIP (5-0)

The Skinny: What’s more surprising: the fact that the Eagles are off to their first 5-0 start since 1998 or that they’re 9-4 in their last 13 games dating back to last season? Either way you slice it, Sharon isn’t to be trifled with anymore. On the other hand, KP’s fast start isn’t a surprise, but we haven’t really seen what the Warriors are capable of as they’re just getting started against their Hockomock League schedule. This should be a good measuring stick for both squads.

Barboza: Either way, somebody loses. How about that for a hot sports take? KP, 20-7.

Hall: Warriors will win out in this one, but how does the old Pink Floyd axiom go? Can't have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat. KP, 28-10.

NO. 17 BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM (3-2) AT LA SALLE ACADEMY, R.I. (4-1)

The Skinny: The Rams’ lone loss of the season came against an MIAA foe (North Attleborough) in Week 1 and have been terrorizing the Ocean State ever since. An underrated Trojans’ secondary will have to endure against the big arm of La Salle quarterback Anthony Francis. After getting run over to the tune of 228 yards by St. John’s Prep’s Alex Moore, B-R’s defense will look to bounce back against another of New England’s top backs (Josh Morris) with a big day up front from defensive ends Kevin Johnston and Dan Noviello.

Barboza: I look for a closer game in this year’s meeting between the club, but the same result. B-R, 28-20.

Hall: After seeing the way North dominated La Salle, I'm confident in saying the Trojans can win the battle at the line of scrimmage. That will be the difference here. B-R, 20-7.

NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH (3-2) AT NO. 23 STOUGHTON (5-0)

The Skinny: The Red Rocketeers enter this week desperate to avoid falling to .500 and in need of some offensive spark. North has scrounged up just 13 points in back-to-back losses to Foxborough and Franklin and were shut out against the Warriors. Meanwhile, the Black Knights received a highlight offensive performance from Marcus Middleton in last week’s emotional 20-0 blanking of Foxborough, a game dedicated to fallen teammate David Wade.

Barboza: I truly think there’s something special brewing in Stoughton this year. Stoughton, 13-7.

Hall: Red Rocketeers really need a healthy Alex Jette, more than ever, to right this ship. Stoughton, 25-13.

NO. 12 NATICK (5-0) AT NO. 10 WEYMOUTH (5-0)

The Skinny: Our Game of the Week for Week 6 features two unbeaten squads vying for playoff spots in their respective divisions in the Bay State Conference. Weymouth’s offense has evolved through the weeks, with multi-dimensional athlete David Harrison getting snaps under center. The Red Hawks enter Friday’s action allowing an average of six points per game on defense, led by Mike Abbruzzese and Mike Dunlap. The Wildcat defense, led by senior captain Sean Murphy will hope to slow down a potent Natick passing attack, but running back Nick Lee is also a force.

Barboza: I think this game will mirror Weymouth’s earlier battle with Needham, in terms of complexion. It’ll be a different result. Natick, 34-28.

Hall: Wondering if we'll see a combined 700 yards of offense or more in this one. Weymouth, 40-34.

Recap: No. 2 Prep 27, No. 7 Brockton 12

September, 29, 2012
9/29/12
2:08
AM ET


BROCKTON, Mass. – Mix up two run-oriented teams, add in some inclement weather with swirling winds and driving rain, and you could pretty much figure out what the result would be.

No. 2 St. John’s Prep did what it does best, and did it a little bit better than No. 7 Brockton Friday night at Rocky Marciano Stadium. Eagles running back Jonathan Thomas was off to the races all night, tallying three touchdowns and 224 rushing yards on 23 carries. Thomas’ scores supplied Prep with its 20 unanswered points, all that it needed to claim a 27-12 win over the Boxers.

Although Prep (3-1) found its groove in the second half, dominating the time of possession battle in holding the ball for the greater portion of the fourth quarter, there was also a caveat.

The Eagles have expanded their playbook in recent weeks, adding Wildcat formation plays so as to take advantage of their backfield of Alex Moore and Thomas. Prep’s first touchdown of the evening came on a 70-yard run off a direct snap to Moore. In addition to Thomas’ eye-popping stat line, Moore also broke the century mark, running for 104 yards on nine carries.

Having such a dynamic backfield has its advantages, particularly in terms of play-calling.

“We did it last week, too, with Johnny [Thomas],” Prep head coach Jim O’Leary said. “We have to do that [use the Wildcat] because they start keying on people and there’s times we need first downs and they put too many people in the box. That gives us the ability to go outside, inside and they can’t key on either one of those guys.”

While the Eagles ran away with the second half, the Boxers (2-2) were the aggressors early on. Brockton was on the board with its first offensive possession of the game. Aaron LeClair capped a 14-play, 80-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run over the right side end zone pylon.

Prep sent a return salvo on Moore’s 70-yard touchdown run on the ensuing possession, but the Boxers responded as well.

After another sustained drive, Brockton quarterback Austin Roberts plunged in with a 5-yard touchdown run off an option play. Roberts was hit in the back while making his dive into the end zone, however. He hobbled to his feet and tried to return to the Brockton sideline, but soon collapsed on the field. He was taken off the field by paramedics and taken to the hospital as a precaution.

The Boxers never got off the mat.

ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY LAND
Face it, opposing defenses know what’s coming when the Prep comes calling. Any defense had better commit to stopping the run and the Eagles’ array of sweeps, tosses and ole fashioned power football.

Yet, with the added wrinkle of Moore and Thomas lined up in the backfield side-by-side, running the Wildcat, the Eagles have become even harder to stop.

Part of the success Prep enjoyed against Brockton, particularly in the third quarter, came with the multi-back direct snap plays. Moore and Thomas stood shoulder-to-shoulder in place of the quarterback. Where the snap was headed was another question. In addition, the Eagles ran the package with tempo. The plays were sold with quarterback Jack Sharrio fetching play calls from the sideline. When Sharrio stepped off the playing field, the Eagles would step to the line and snap. It only added to the confusion and disguise.

“We’ve been working on it in practice with the zones and the hits up the middle because defenses don’t know whether it’s going to be me or John [Thomas] getting it,” Moore said. “We have many plays off of it that could go for a touchdown.”

It worked from the get-go. Moore’s 70-yard run came on the first Prep play with that personnel grouping.

From there, it was a matter of execution.

“Smuz [Sean Smerczynski] made a great block, I cut off of him to left and I saw a lot of green grass, so I made another cut and it was a touchdown from there.”

AIR LET OUT
Aside from the obvious fact of losing their starting quarterback, the Boxers also lost their emotional leader in Roberts. Forced to go their second quarterback, starting safety Micah Morel, the Boxers attack slowed in the second half.

Postgame, Brockton head coach Peter Colombo characterized Roberts’ injury as tied to the sciatic nerve. His status going forward is unknown.

On Friday, Roberts’ absence was apparent. Despite getting a 10-carry, 98-yard performance from Ricardo Calixte, the Boxers faltered without their charismatic leader.

“We took the lead, Auggie [Roberts] was in the end zone, we were doing what we wanted on offense,” Colombo said. I didn’t know if they had an answer for what we were doing.”

O’Leary admitted as much.

“It’s tough to defend when you have a quarterback like him that can spread the ball, spread the field and make those good decisions with the ball. And he’s tough.”

Game of the Week: No. 2 Prep at No. 7 Brockton

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
4:49
PM ET
BROCKTON, Mass. -- Wednesday afternoon, ESPN Boston High Schools Editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall stopped by Brockton football practice to take a look at our Game of the Week matchup between the No. 2 Eagles and No. 7 Boxers (Friday, 7 p.m.).

With the newly unveiled statue watching over its namesake Rocky Marciano Stadium, the Boxers will be looking for their third victory over a Catholic Conference opponent on the young season.

Barboza and Hall break down the upcoming game from angles, and also talked with Brockton head coach Peter Colombo, quarterback Austin Roberts and safety Micah Morel in taking a look at the X's and O's behind Friday's battle in this week's segment:

(Video shot and edited by Greg Story.)

Recap: No. 15 Brockton 22, No. 3 Xaverian 14

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
12:15
AM ET
BROCKTON, Mass. -- Raise your hand if you had Brockton with two wins, and two hard-nosed, convincing victories, against two of the preseason favorites in the Catholic Conference.

Didn’t see too many hands raised outside of Rocky Marciano Stadium.

[+] EnlargeAustin Roberts
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comAustin Roberts withstood some tough hits from Xaverian's defense too lead the Boxers to their second victory over a top-5 team in three weeks.
But that’s exactly where the Boxers find themselves after the first three weeks of the season. Brockton battered Xaverian last night in a 22-14 victory on the kickoff to the unveiling of the Rocky Marciano statue that will keep a watchful eye on the football team as they look to continue this turnaround season.

The Boxers shut out BC High and put on a balanced display against the scuffling Hawks to run its record to 2-1 on the season. Brockton was 0-4 against Catholic Conference competition last season.

“This month of September is tough, and it doesn’t get easier with (St. John’s Prep) next week,” said Boxers coach Peter Colombo. “We’ve got two wins against the Catholic Conference and it’s the best conference year-in-and-year-out in Eastern Mass. It’s a good way to start.”

BIG PLAYS FOR BOXERS
Colombo knows that his team is going to face opposing defenses that stack the box against the Boxers option-based offense. A run here to the outside, a dive up the middle and a couple toss sweeps will keep those defenses honest, but nothing allows the option to work best than a couple of big plays from the passing game.

That’s exactly what Colombo got in the second half.

Austin Roberts connected with Micah Morel twice in the second half, one from 38 yards out and one from 17 yards, to stay comfortably ahead of the Hawks. The scores came off of the same play, but the only wrinkle was that Morel lined up on the backside for the second score.

“We knew eventually the safeties were going to come down and bite (on the run),” said Morel. “It’s a play we’ve been working on for a long time, so it was good to finally pop it open.”

“We need that out of Micah too,” Colombo added. “We are expecting him to give us some offense this year. We’ve had people open in other games and we haven’t capitalized. They are up there, eight or nine in the box trying to stop the run and we’ve got to take the pressure off by throwing the ball and completing passes. Finally tonight we got a couple of big ones.”

XAVERIAN STRUGGLING
It hasn’t been a great two weeks for the Hawks offense. They were held to 29 yards of total offense in the first half and only had 31 yards rushing, something that they went away from in the second half, for the game. It took two and a half quarters for Xaverian to pick up a first down.

Austin DeCarr threw two touchdown passes, but finished 12-of-32 for 97 yards, with 26 of those throws coming in the final two quarters.

The breaks just aren’t falling the Hawks way in a two-week span that saw them go 0-2 and fall to 1-2 on the year. The Boxers fumbled the ball four times in the first half, but Xaverian was only able to recover one with seconds remaining in the second quarter.

“We didn’t recover the football and that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes,” said Hawks head coach Charlie Stevenson. “They had some sustained drives in the first half and we had really miserable field position all half. We really had our hands tied because of the position we were in. That hurt.”

BROCKTON 22, XAVERIAN 14
Xaverian (1-2) 0 – 0 – 7 – 7 – 14
Brockton (2-1) 0 – 8 – 7 – 7- 22

Second Quarter
B — Austin Roberts 3 run (Justin Ahanon rush)

Third Quarter
B — Micah Morel 38 pass from Roberts (Levion Merian kick)
X — DJ Pagliuca 27 pass from Austin DeCarr (Kyle Darrow kick)

Fourth Quarter
B — Morel 17 pass from Roberts (Ahanon kick)
X — Joe Denucci Jr. 10 pass from DeCarr (Darrow kick)

ESPN Boston Week 2 football picks

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
2:41
AM ET
NO. 19 AUBURN (1-0) AT HOLLISTON (0-1)
The Skinny: Retribution is on Holliston's mind after last year's tough 14-13 loss in Auburn, and they'll face an uphill battle in trying to return the favor on their own turf. The Panthers fell to a talented Stoughton squad last week, while Auburn looked sharp in an easy victory over Shrewsbury. Holliston's Max Athy is a playmaker on defense, but the Panthers will have their hands full against an Auburn offensive line that averages nearly 280 pounds across and has been playing together for the last two seasons.

Co-editor Scott Barboza: The Panthers have some nice athletes on defense, the Rockets line simply takes over. Auburn, 28-14.

Co-editor Brendan Hall: Rockets will win again, and this time there will be no dispute about it. Auburn, 21-6.

DENNIS-YARMOUTH (0-0) AT NO. 4 BARNSTABLE (1-0)
The Skinny: The last three results of this early-season rivalry have been decided by a total of five points, with D-Y holding a two-game win streak in the series, making this the fiercest non-Thanksgiving rivalry on Cape Cod. Barnstable figures to have the advantage offensively, with Nick Peabody leading a potent and speedy attack that is coming off a 55-3 blowout of Durfee, but the Dolphins have always devised a great defensive game plan to slow things down. The key matchup might be in the trenches, where Barnstable center Tom Grimmer is expected to square off with D-Y tackle Joe Tyo.

Barboza: I think the rivalry factor keeps this game closer than it might look otherwise. Barnstable, 25-21.

Hall: On paper, the Red Raiders have an advantage in many facets of this game. But they don't call it a "Backyard Brawl" for the seafood chowder. I'm hoping to get out of Hyannis in one piece after this one.

Barnstable, 21-20. NO. 6 LONGMEADOW (1-0) AT NO. 18 ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY (1-0)
The Skinny: St. John's may have answered any offensive questions with its 47-point outburst over Holy Name last week, but may have raised defensive ones by allowing 40 points and over 460 yards rushing. The road doesn't get any easier this week, with some calling this Longmeadow's best shot at getting an elusive win over the Pioneers. As usual, they'll do it behind a surgical Wing-T scheme, with an all-senior line led by Rob McClure and Lou Calabrese. Pioneers quarterback Andrew Smiley looked impressive in his varsity debut, and he'll be hoping for another big day from Shadrach Abrokwah to open up the middle of the field again.

Barboza: I think Longmeadow is able to play ball control and keep St. John's offense off the field. And it doesn't matter where Frankie Elder is lined up, he makes it happen. Longmeadow, 20-13.

Hall: Much like Holy Name last week, this is the year Longmeadow has to beat St. John's. But if this turns into a track meet again, I don't like the Lancers' chances. St. John's, 30-20.

NO. 1 EVERETT (1-0) AT NO. 15 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (1-0)
The Skinny: A season ago, Central rolled into Everett Memorial Stadium and was swiftly handed a 42-13 loss. The Golden Eagles have grown up a lot since that fateful night in Everett, reeling off 10 straight wins en route to the 2011 D1 West Super Bowl, and return many key components, including quarterback Cody Williams and defensive tackle Shawn Lockett. Everett remains unsettled, with running back Kenny Calaj's status up in the air and the quarterback situation a mystery. Last week, the Tide resorted to Gilly De Souza under center, even though he'd never played the position before, but he got the job done in a 29-7 win over Leominster. The biggest question might be whether the Eagles' secondary can contain Everett's talented perimeter players, specifically Jakarrie Washington and Jalen Felix.

Barboza: Similar to Everett's matchup with Leominster last week, Central is a strong team in its own right, but just not enough to dethrone King Crimson. Everett, 34-21.

Hall: Central might have its own "Honey Badger" (the good kind, of course), but the Tide have "Felix The Cat". Everett, 35-14.

No. 21 NEEDHAM (1-0) at No. 20 MANSFIELD (1-0)
The Skinny: Both teams rolled in the season openers last week, but this one could go down to the final seconds. The Rockets had a tremendous performance last week from Mike Panepinto (8 carries, 181 yards) running behind a line anchored by tackle Mitch Hildreth. Meanwhile, Mansfield claimed a 49-15 romp over Westfield. Alex Ruddy led the Hornets on defense, racking up 10 tackles (8 solo) in last week’s win and will be a key to slowing down the Rockets’ rushing attack.

Barboza: The scoreboard at Mansfield might malfunction trying to keep up with the scoring in this one. Needham, 35-34.

Hall: We could honestly see 800 yards of offense in this one. Mansfield, 38-34.

No. 9 BROCKTON (1-0) at No. 22 READING (1-0)
The Skinny: The question is what the Boxers will do with the momentum they gained while shutting out BC High last week. Will they ride the wave and roll over the Rockets? Or does this game have let down written all over it? The matchup to watch will be watching Rocket-armed Reading quarterback Drew Belcher operating against the Brockton secondary led by Micah Morel. Boxers QB Auggie Roberts had a huge week against BC High, running to the tune of 139 yards and two touchdowns, so the Rockets will need to slow down the triple-option threat if they’re to defend their home turf.

Barboza: Made this pick in the preseason when we projected out Brockton’s record through the first month of the season. Boxers are moving to 2-0. Brockton, 25-21.

Hall: Since Reading head coach John Fiore is a big pro wrestling fan (just like Scott and I), my gut tells me the Rockets will deliver a Stone Cold Stunner under the bright lights. Reading, 21-20.

NO. 17 NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH (1-0) at NO. 13 BC HIGH (0-1)
The Skinny: BC High will assuredly enter this one ticked off as a bull after failing to get on the board against Brockton in Week 1. But what the Eagles will look like on offense is a whole other deal. Brendan Craven joined BC High's growing MASH unit against Brockton and should be out a month. On the other hand, North enters with a modicum of momentum after dispatching Rhode Island's No. 1 squad, La Salle Academy. Alex Jette went off for 346 all-purpose yards while scoring three touchdowns as our Player of the Week for Week 1.

Barboza: I think the X-factor is the Red Rocketeers' offensive line, which is athletics as ever, but also one of the biggest lines Don Johnson's ever seen in his tenure. North, 14-13.

Hall: I'm getting antsy here. If BC High can't pull this one out, I'm 0-2 with the Eagles and I might have to default on my mortgage. I'm still in debt to Galvo for my anti-Brockton picks. BC High, 13-6.

CENTRAL CATHOLIC (1-0) at NO. 3 ST. JOHN'S PREP (1-0)
The Skinny: The question of this matchup might be how many passes are attempted. These teams love them some ground game and, why not? With running backs like Central's Santino Brancato and Prep's Alex Moore and Jonathan Thomas, there's not a lot of incentive for airing out the ball. This one is going to be settled with three yards and a cloud of dust.

Barboza: Even though these teams could end up in a ball-control kind of game, I think there will be a couple of big running plays to be had for either side. Prep, 31-20.

Hall: As they have done in recent years, the Raiders will find a way to make this game interesting. But if they don't, then you know Prep is for real. Prep, 24-10.

Recap: No. 22 Brockton 21, No. 2 BC High 0

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
12:16
AM ET
BROCKTON -- There have not been a lot of recent instances where Brockton was beaten as soundly as it was by BC High in last year's season opener.

The Eagles' 42-0 win was complete in every phase on their way to a Division 1 Super Bowl title. The loss sent Brockton into a tailspin that resulted in a 5-6 season, the program's first losing mark since 2001.

Well, last night at Marciano Stadium, the Boxers delivered a rousing counterpunch with a 21-0 shutout that felt even more decisive than the final score indicated.

"Last year, we couldn't match them, physically," said Brockton coach Peter Colombo. "This year, we obviously did."

And then some. Both lines dominated for the host Boxers, as they rushed for 310 yards and held BC High to 143 total and just 62 in the second half.

[+] EnlargeAustin Roberts
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comBrockton QB Austin Roberts orchestrated the offense in a vengeful shutout of rival BC High.
Senior quarterback Austin Roberts led the way for Brockton with 139 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, while junior tailback Aaron LeClair added 83 yards and a TD on seven attempts and fullback Ricardo Calixte contributed 61 yards on 10 rushes. Brockton only threw two passes (one interception, one incompletion), but didn't need to the way their front was blowing BC High off the ball. The Boxers completely eschewed the passing game in the second half with zero attempts but didn't punt, either. Their four second-half possessions read: touchdown, touchdown, lost fumble, touchdown.

The defense was physical and had its way between the hashes just as much as the offense did. Nowhere was that more apparent than at the end of the first half with the game still scoreless, when BC High marched inside the Brockton 10. On third down, quarterback Dan Collins took off and made a leaping attempt to the goal line but was leveled a yard short by a host of Brockton tacklers. After a timeout, BC High decided to go for it but Collins' sneak was stuffed by backup middle linebacker John Flaherty. The momentum lifted Brockton into the second half and the Boxers never looked back.

"I can't describe it. I'm still speechless, actually," said Brockton defensive back Micah Morel, who made an interception in the second half and played tight man coverage in the first half on Villanova-bound receiver Lincoln Collins. "I mean, I know it was only 21-0, but whenever you pitch a shutout against the No. 2 team in the state, that's saying something. That's saying a lot."

STRENGTH IN SENIORS
Usually, when BC High and Brockton meet up, no matter what the final score says, the ledger of the line play favors BC High. That was not the case Friday night. Not even close. Despite boasting Virginia-bound lineman Jack McDonald, BC High was pushed backwards on both sides of the ball by Brockton's line. The difference? For the first time in at least seven years (maybe longer), Brockton started five seniors on the offensive line. The defensive line is also a veteran unit. Four-year starters Joe Previte and Anthony Davis led the way, as Previte showed off the strength he displayed this offseason in throwing up a 410-pound bench press. On defense, players like Malik Cooley-Walker, Jeff Celestin and Max Castor were in the backfield all night.

LEADING ROLE
Like many teams, the Boxers have taken on the personality of their quarterback and it looks like it will pay big dividends this fall. Roberts is a tough runner who creates extra yards after contact and is simply a natural leader on the field. Many of his runs were just pure sneaks that he turned into 5-yard gains as the line pushed the pile forward. Coach Peter Colombo had the difficult task of retooling an offense that was shut out four times last season and built one around the strengths of his returning talent. The option scheme used most prominently in the college game by the likes of Navy and Georgia Tech can only work with a smart, tough quarterback and Roberts has both of those traits in abundance. He is also bigger, stronger and faster than he was last year, as he simply refused to go down on the first hit.

ROUGHED UP
BC High came into the game missing fullback/linebacker Luke Catarius to injury. The Eagles were also out three other starters on both lines, which needs to be factored in to an extent when taking into account how much Brockton controlled things physically. But at the end of the game, BC High suffered yet another brutal setback when quarterback Brendan Craven was carted off after getting hit low as he released a pass on the final possession of the game. In a scene eerily similar to Preston Cooper's season-ending ankle injury against Everett, Craven's injury looked very serious and left a pall over an already shaken squad.

BROCKTON 21, BC HIGH 0

BC High (0-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Brockton (1-0) 0 0 7 14 – 21

Third Quarter
Austin Roberts 1 run (Levon Merian kick)

Fourth Quarter
Aaron LeClair 10 run (Merian kick)
Roberts 23 run (Merian kick)

ESPN Boston Week 1 football picks

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
11:06
PM ET
FRIDAY
NO. 1 EVERETT AT NO. 7 LEOMINSTER
The Skinny: Leominster has never beaten the Crimson Tide since this series began in 2002, but the Blue Devils have usually been a tough out. In 2009, the teams played to a 14-6 Tide win. The last two meetings, the Blue Devils got under the Tide’s skin early before Everett’s talent took over. But Leominster is brimming with excitement, its proud football culture awakened again following their first Super Bowl championship in a decade last fall. Everett, meanwhile, seems to be settled at every position but quarterback – and with a line averaging over 315 pounds, that will suffice. If Leominster is to pull off the upset, they’ll have to a find a way to contain electric wideouts Jakarrie Washington and Jalen Felix.

Scott Barboza: Leominster turns it into a game, but still too many horses in the stable for Everett despite the questions. Everett, 27-20.

Brendan Hall: It’s going to be a majestic crowd at Doyle, and some readers will undoubtedly conclude I’m biased towards Leominster because their defensive coordinator coached me 10 years ago at Oakmont. But I’m not. Even I’m not foolish enough to pick against the Tide in this one. Everett, 24-13.

NO. 2 BC HIGH AT NO. 22 BROCKTON
The Skinny: Injuries were an overarching theme of the preseason and both of these teams were affected. Bad news for BC High is Luke Catarius is out with a hairline ankle fracture, but Brockton should have Micah Morel in the lineup for their Week 1 challenge. We’ll get a look at the reigning Div. 1 Super Bowl champions new-look offense with Brendan Craven under center and Brandon Owens in the backfield while the Boxers will be sporting a Georgia Tech-inspired scheme with Auggie Roberts back at quarterback.

Barboza: A Jackson Bockhurst field goal will be the difference. BC High, 17-14.

Hall: Things unraveled for Brockton pretty quickly in last year’s meeting in Dorchester. The Boxers are fighting an uphill battle again this year, but at least it will be respectable. BC High, 28-14.

NO. 23 SPRINGFIELD PUTNAM AT NO. 14 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL
The Skinny: With the schools sitting less than a mile from each other along Roosevelt Ave., the season-opening battle between these rival schools has become must-see as of late. Putnam won this contest last season, kick-starting an historic 2011 season that ended with their fifth Super Bowl title in eight seasons. Central will be looking for revenge, but it’s not easy replacing 2,000-yard rusher in Sacoy Malone. Putnam, meanwhile, turns to a plethora of new faces to replace record-setting running back Melquawn Pinkney, including quarterback Kayjuan Bynum and running back Wayne Lowery.

Barboza: I came away very impressed from talking to Central QB Cody Williams last year at Gillette. He blossoms into the real deal this year. Central, 21-16.

Hall: I like the direction Central is headed in over the long run, but Putnam is still Roosevelt Ave (See what I did there?). Putnam, 7-6.

LA SALLE ACADEMY (R.I.) AT NO. 16 NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH
The Skinny: Big Red will have its hands full opening night with their challenger from just across the state line. The Rams feature a high-octane attack led by reigning Gatorade Player of the Year running back Josh Morris and senior quarterback Anthony Francis. The key to this one will be in the trenches where North’s offensive line led by Eric Beckwith and Sean Peters could have the advantage.

Barboza: This Rams team is very talented, but North holds on – just barely. North, 28-26.

Hall: Josh Morris and Co. have been dying for that elusive win over a Massachusetts squad, and I think they finally get it here. La Salle, 17-13.

NO. 12 KING PHILIP AT DOVER (N.H.)
The Skinny: Self-admittedly, we don’t know as much about Dover as we do KP, but we can be some what certain what the Warriors will be showing them on defense. And, of course, that’s a variety of different looks and blitz and coverage schemes. Dover, which sits just outside of ESPN Boston correspondent Marc Thaler’s Granite State Top 10 poll, will also have to contend with KP quarterback John Dillon, who will enjoy a greater role directing the offense in his second year as starter.

Barboza: KP’s “Psycho” package gives Hockomock League teams fits, nevermind an offense that hasn’t seen it. KP, 28-8.

Hall: Knowing little about Dover outside of what our loyal New Hampshire correspondents tell us, I’m going to trust their convictions on this one and say it will be close. But I’m still going with the team closer to Boston. KP, 20-10.

NO. 4 ST. JOHN’S PREP AT DRACUT
The Skinny: The Middies have been a bit of a bugaboo for St. John's Prep in recent years and some around Danvers feel Dracut has simply posed a matchup problem for the Eagles with its spread attack. Good news for Prep is that their secondary, with Lucas Bavaro, Gerry Kahari, Alex Moore and Johnny Thomas, has matured into a strength of the team. Dracut senior linebacker Zach Bassett could be the key to the game, trying to slow down Prep's running attack.

Barboza: Looking for a defensive struggle here. Prep, 14-7.

Hall: Classic trap game for The Prep, against a classic trap opponent that’s had their number in recent years. Dracut, 10-6.

NORTH ANDOVER AT ANDOVER
The Skinny: North Andover's season starts with a Walsh at quarterback, but of another name. Brendan Walsh's younger brother Casey takes the helm of the Scarlet Knights' offense. It also marks North Andover's first Merrimack Valley Conference game. The Golden Warriors will counter with a high-flying attack that impressed during this summer's Northeast 7v7 passing tournament. Quarterback C.J. Scarpa has plenty of targets including Cam Farnham and Will Heikkinen.

Hall: I know it’s a familiar rival that’s been on the schedule for years, but North Andover is still in for a whole new ball game. And since it’s now officially an MVC game, there will be no less than 172 points scored and 1,000 yards of offense. Andover, 35-30.

Barboza: Ditto. Andover, 31-20.

MARSHFIELD AT CATHOLIC MEMORIAL
The Skinny: Last year at this time, Catholic Memorial entered Marshfield’s stadium with plenty of hype, behind three Division 1 FBS commits and a No. 4 preseason ranking in ESPNBoston.com’s poll. They promptly got shut out by the Rams, 24-0, fueling their ensuing seven-game win streak. The Knights will no doubt be looking to exact revenge, and they’ll look to Preseason All-State defensive end Peter Ngobidi to stifle the Rams’ vaunted run game.

Barboza: Ngobidi is a dominant force and asserts his will here. CM, 7-0.

Hall: The Knights got embarrassed last year in Marsh Vegas, and I expect them to exact revenge here. CM, 16-13.

SATURDAY
NO. 24 HOLY NAME AT NO. 17 ST. JOHN’S (SHREWSBURY)
The Skinny: For all of Holy Name’s success under Mike Pucko, the Naps have never beaten St. John’s during his tenure. Could that change on Saturday? Holy Name turns to one of the state’s most elusive scatbacks in Quron Wright, and will hope for a big day. St. John’s has already hit the injury bug, with incumbent QB Connor Kurtz (knee) out for the season, but RB Shadrach Abrokwah is a nice fit for their hurry-up scheme, and is poised for a breakout senior season.

Hall: If the Naps are ever to beat St. John’s, this has to be the year. Holy Name, 9-8.

Barboza: Hate to do this to the Naps, sorry. St. John's, 22-21.

NO. 9 DUXBURY AT NO. 8 BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM
The Skinny: B-R is itching to get over the hump after dropping its season-opener to the Dragons the past two seasons. The Trojans have some terrific talent between the tackles, led by Joey MacInnis, to pave for a big afternoon for junior tailback Arcel Armstead. Duxbury graduated one of its most talented classes ever from the 2011 Super Bowl champion squad, but still has plenty of talent left over to keep the state’s longest active win streak (26) going. Look for guard Rob Kosharek, linebacker Marshall McCarthy and running back Jon Hurvitz to have big days.

Barboza: Now that Dan Buron's nephew Andrew (former Duxbury standout) has graduated, expect the Trojans to get back to their winning ways. B-R, 14-10.

Hall: After graduating one of the program’s most talented classes ever, Marshall the Missile gets the full spotlight. And he usually gives the fans their money’s worth. Duxbury, 14-10.

CONCORD-CARLISLE AT BEVERLY
The Skinny: C-C heads into its non-league tilt with the heavy NEC/CAL Tier 2 favorite already limping, losing its star running back Tim Badgley (ACL tear) for the season. If the Patriots are to repeat last year’s Super Bowl championship success, sophomore quarterback Will Blumenberg will have to grow up quickly. Meanwhile, Beverly features one of the North Shore’s most feared rushing attacks with the three-pronged approach of Kenny Pierce, Brendan Flaherty and Dom Abate.

Barboza: ETA on when the Kenny Pierce hashtag gets rolling again? We're looking at you James Coffey. Beverly, 27-14.

Hall: I’m excited to see what Will Blumenberg can do for the Patriots, but the Panthers just have too much in the tank to be stopped in this one. Beverly, 28-7.
This season, we're trotting a new feature for football season that we started back in the spring. Each Wednesday, we'll pool the minds of our ESPN Boston staff and contributors to debate several hot button topics across the state in our Roundtable.

Without further ado, let's kick off the new season with these takes:

1. BC HIGH RECEIVED SOME BAD NEWS LAST WEEK WHEN RETURNING ESPN BOSTON ALL-STATE LINEBACKER LUKE CATARIUS SUFFERED A HAIRLINE FRACTURE ON HIS ANKLE. HOW WILL THE EAGLES COPE?

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: Over the last decade, BC High has proven to be a program with enough sufficient depth to compensate when star players miss a significant time with injury. However, it’s different when you lose the quarterback of your defense, especially when it’s a player as special a talent as the Eagles’ Luke Catarius.

In the scrimmage against Mansfield, after Catarius went out with the ankle injury, the Hornets went to the underneath game and exploited the flats for big gains. There was also one big miscommunication in the secondary that allowed Kevin Maki to wheel right through the middle of the deep field for a 45-yard completion. Not that this won’t be shored up before Friday’s big tilt with Brockton, but it is worth pointing out.

The good news, obviously, is that the Eagles’ Catholic Conference season doesn’t start until late October – but with Xaverian and St. John’s Prep looking sharp, it will be obvious if this team isn’t in proper shape. With that in mind, I expect Brandon Owens’ role at outside linebacker to have an even bigger significance than before. The pressure will also be on the front four, led by Jaleel Johnson, to buy the back seven time.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: In terms of talent, I think the Eagles can get along. My greatest concern for BC High’s defense without Catarius relates to communication. The linebacker has been the leader of the defensive huddle, with messages from the sideline passed along to the inside linebacker. On field, Catarius was the quarterback of the defense as well, not only knowing his own responsibilities, but that of his teammates. That comes from knowledge of the system and cannot be replicated; it only comes through game-condition experience. The Eagles have a bevy of returning starters on the defensive line and secondary to shoulder the load but this one hurts. Will they rely on Brandon Owens to not only be the feature back, but take on more Catarius’ two-way role? We saw what happened last year when Preston Cooper went down at running back and how Deontae Ramey-Doe filled those shoes. So perhaps this will be more of the same for a deep Eagles’ squad. But a player of Catarius’ ilk cannot simply be replaced.

Adam Kurkjian, ESPN Boston correspondent: Without question, losing one of the top two-way players in the state will have a negative impact on BC High. The Eagles will not be able to replace his production easily and there may be an extra loss or two that comes down their way early on because of it. That said, if he is back by the time Catholic Conference play rolls around, BC High will still be one of the favorites to make it back to the playoffs. But still his loss cannot be understated.

Bruce Lerch, ESPN Boston correspondent: Believe it or not, I think the Eagles will be fine defensively. Obviously, Catarius is a one-of-a-kind talent with the ability to singlehandedly change opposing offensive gameplans. BC High will simply lean more on the unit as a whole rather than an individual to bail them out, as Catarius often did with his read and react style of play. Linebackers Danny Collins and Brandon Owens are leaders, defensive linemen like Billy Breen and Jaleel Johnson will take up blockers and make a few plays on their own, and the secondary will have to be more active in supporting.

Oddly enough, I think it's on offense where the Eagles may miss Catarius the most. A bruising fullback, Catarius helped pave the way for Preston Cooper and Deontay Ramey-Doe to pile up yardage last season. New backs Owens and Skyler Evans, along with a mostly inexperienced line, would have benefitted greatly from having Catarius leading the charge.

John Botelho, Editor-in-Chief, South Shore Sports Journal: I'm not even sure this Luke Catarius injury will have any real impact on BC. And I don't mean that as a slight to Catarius - in fact, I think he's the best linebacker in the state. My point of view though is this is a non-issue for the Eagles for two reasons.

First of all, replacing Catarius obviously wouldn't be easy, but aren't teams in the Catholic Conference best suited to replace someone they lose to an injury? Those teams are so loaded and so deep that it seems they have significant depth at every position. Or at least it seemed that way when Preston Cooper - who was arguably the best running back in the state in the first half of last year - went down with a broken ankle. All BC did was go on to win the Super Bowl as Deontae Ramey-Doe stepped in and the Eagles never missed a beat.

Secondly, and most important, is that BC doesn't open up league play until October 26 when they host Malden Catholic. I think even without Catarius, it'd be considered an upset if the Eagles lost that match-up. If it really comes to it, they don't need Catarius back until November 4th, week eight of the season, when they travel to Xaverian. It's reasonable to think that a hairline fracture would be healed up and they'd have him back by then.

2. WHICH REGION OF THE STATE HAS THE BEST UP-AND-COMING TALENT?

Hall: The emergence of Springfield-area talent over the last few years is one of the best stories developing this fall. But in terms of pure talent, for me it’s got to be the Cape & Islands region.

Every year, there seems to be a Cape player that seemingly washes ashore to earn a Division 1 scholarship. Two years ago, it was Randall Jette from Martha’s Vineyard going to UMass. Last year, Nauset’s Brendan Battles-Santos surprising everyone at UConn’s prospect camp to earn a scholarship practically on the spot. This past summer, UMass dug back into the region to pluck 6-foot-7 tight end Terrel Correia out of Nantucket, with intentions of making him an offensive tackle.

We’ll obviously be watching Correia closely this fall, but he isn’t even the best player from the region. Barnstable quarterback Nick Peabody is among the state’s best, with Ivy League interest. Mashpee has three athletes with Division 1 potential in tackle Nate Chrzanowski, running back Jared Taylor (he of the 300-yard epic last year at Gillette Stadium) and his new backfield mate Malik Lee, a Cape Cod Tech transfer with plenty of upside at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds.

Also keep an eye on Dennis-Yarmouth’s Joe Tyo, who still has to fill out but is projectable with a long 6-foot-5 frame and some active footwork. Falmouth sophomore Craig Green will be an intriguing prospect to monitor, after running a 10.6-second 100-meter dash last spring at the New England Track and Field Championships. And as good as Darien Fernandez was on the basketball court for Wareham last winter, some believe he’s an even better running back.

Barboza: I’m looking no further than our statewide preseason Top 25 poll to find two Springfield squads (Central at No. 14 and Putnum at No. 23) and another (Springfield Commerce) knocking on the door. Central is retooled for another run at Longmeadow in Div. 1 West with some key returnees from last year’s squad that made it to Gillette Stadium. Quarterback Cody Williams could be a breakout performer this year and Shawn Lockett is a legitimate force to deal with on the lines. Melquawn Pinkney might be gone, but the cupboard’s not bare for Putnam with Wayne Lowery, shouldering more of the running load while playing lock-down corner. Sha’ki Holines (UConn) and Hassan Graham (not to be confused with the Patriots receiver of yesteryear) grade out at their positions against anybody across the state.

Kurkjian: This is a tough question because the season has not started yet, so it is hard to assess which region has the top players. As it stands now, though, the North Shore looks to have an overflow of top players if you consider Everett part of that region. Also, don't forget BC High's Brandon Owens hails from Salem.

Botelho: Last fall made it hard to argue with any region being more up-and-coming than the Cape. Four of the nine Eastern Mass. Super Bowl champs were from the Cape and Islands (Dennis-Yarmouth Div. 2A, Bourne Div. 3A, Mashpee Div. 4 and Nantucket Div. 5). Not only did those teams each win Super Bowls last season, but the Cape teams outscored opponents 120-29 in those games. Only Bourne had a competitive game, beating defending Super Bowl champ Hamilton-Wenham, 16-14.

3. WHICH RUNNING BACK WILL HAVE THE BIGGEST BREAKOUT?

Hall: There’s a lot of directions you can go with this one. The addition of Malik Lee, and his soft hands, to Mashpee’s already-dangerous backfield has to feel like a high school offensive coordinator’s dream. Out west, Springfield folks are excited about two potential breakout candidates in Putnam’s Wayne Lowery and Central’s Aaron Owens. St. John's of Shrewsbury's Shadrach Abrokwah is bound for a breakout in John Andreoli's new Oregon-style "blur" offense.

However, I’m going with BC High’s Brandon Owens. That he is already committed to a Division 1 FCS school (Bryant) despite only seeing part-time duty one way last season speaks to his upside. As a runner, there is no wangle to his makeup – he’s a north-south, one-cut guy with a powerful frame that accelerates quickly to hit the hole at full speed.

Losing fullback Luke Catarius for the first six weeks of the season means the Eagles may have to get more creative with their offensive sets. But after seeing him take the corner on toss plays out of “Ace” formations, in the Mansfield scrimmage, I think he’s up for any task the coaching staff throws at him.

Barboza: I think we’re all hedging that Malik Lee of Mashpee will have a monster season in his first year with the Falcons, but I’m going to buck the trend here and go with another runner inside the South Shore League. Abington’s Babila Fonkem tallied seven touchdowns (five of those came in one game against backyard rival Archbishop Williams) and ran for over 1,000 yards last season. I think the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has the potential to more than double last year’s tally as a feature back during Jim Kelleher’s swan song as head coach.

Kurkjian: From the looks of it, Brandon Owens has had a spectacular preseason and he will be the feature back in what expects to be another punishing ground attack for BC High. It appears as if the Eagles have just reloaded there.

Lerch: Everett's Kenny Calaj is already something of a household name, having been an impact weapon in Everett's offense the past two seasons. The majority of that. however, came as a pass catcher. With a pair of untested quarterbacks still battling to replace record-setting Jonathan DiBiaso, not to mention a mammoth group of offensive linemen, it would only make sense for the Tide to return to the ground game and Calaj should benefit as the main ball-carrier. I'm not sure what the record for all-purpose yardage in Massachusetts history, but Calaj is in a position to do some historic things as a senior.

Botelho: Arcel Armstead is primed to have an elite year at running back for Bridgewater-Raynham this season. It's no secret that Dan Buron-coached teams run the ball as well as anyone, and with both Nick Schlatz and Brandon Morin gone, Armstead will be the featured back for the Trojans. His athleticism alone would be enough for him to have a big year in that system, but B-R returns their entire offensive line from a season ago, led by 6-foot-4, 260-pound Joey MacInnis, meaning the sky is the limit for Armstead.

Don't sleep on guys like Jon Hurvitz at Duxbury, who is the best athlete returning to the Dragons who will need to remake their identity a bit without Matt O'Keefe under center. Hurvitz runs hard and has a chance to be the first running back Duxbury has built their offense around in recent memory.

Also, the South Shore League seems littered with potential breakout candidates. Jared Taylor is probably the best well-known running back who was a back-up last season. He flashed his electric running ability in the Super Bowl to the tune of more than 300 yards. But he won't be the only guy terrorizing defense in the league.

Babila Fonkem returns to Abington for a senior year with added size from his 1,000-yard campaign a year ago. Brian Kilmain, a junior for the Green Wave, could give them the most dangerous two-headed backfield in the league.

Andrew Benson, who looks like he'll officially be a quarterback, is ready to break out at East Bridgewater. He could end up running for more yards than ESPN All-Stater Casey DeAndrade a year ago, for more than one reason. Last year, DeAndrade split carries with Tim O'Brien. While Benson will share the backfield duties with Kevin Lynch, he'll see a higher percentage of touches than DeAndrade last year. Also, E-B's offense was so explosive last year that DeAndrade (and O'Brien) had their numbers cut down because the Vikings had big enough leads that the starters weren't on the field a lot in the fourth quarter. Only when they played Abington and Mashpee did starters stay in the entire game. This year's team will rank among the best in the SSL, but I don't think they'll put teams away so quickly this time around.

4. TAKE A LOOK AT THE FIRST MONTH OF BROCKTON’S SCHEDULE, AND PREDICT A RECORD.

Hall: This is going to upset some of our readers in the City of Champions, but there’s a realistic possibility of the Boxers coming out of the gate 0-4. Of those first four opponents – BC High, Reading, St. John’s Prep, Xaverian – nobody’s gotten worse from 2011, while I feel Brockton is still sitting in second gear after last year’s disappointing end.

That said, it sounds like Bryant-bound running back/defensive back Micah Morel will be ready for Friday’s opener against BC High after injuring his shoulder in the preseason, so that’s a positive sign. As for record, I think the Boxers will steal a game, either against Prep or Reading, to start off 1-3.

Barboza: Well, let’s go the tape … And hold me to this. I’m going:

Week 1, vs. BC High – Loss

Week 2, at Reading – Win

Week 3, vs. Xaverian – Loss

Week 4, vs. St. John’s Prep – Loss

That would make the Boxers 1-3 rolling into October. Then I think they rebound with three straight wins and finish out the season at 6-5 and represent the Big Three in the Division 1 playoffs as a very dangerous team after enduring a trying first month.

Kurkjian: With so many question marks surrounding this offense, it is hard to project exactly how the Boxers will fare. That said, this is a brutal start to the season. The feeling here is that Brockton manages to steal one and get off to a 1-3 start.

Lerch: It's a very real possibility that Brockton goes 0-4, and I think best case scenario is that they salvage a 2-2 mark. Any better than that and I wonder if the Catholic Conference would have an issue with adding a "league game" between Brockton and Everett to play for its championship.

Botelho: Brockton has the best program in state history. Literally. Their 751 all-time wins ranks first in the state by a wide margin (no one else even has 600 wins). They've also captured 11 Super Bowl titles in 40 years. That said, the last few years haven't been what Boxer fans are used to. They missed the playoffs two years in a row, and last season slumped to a disappointing 5-6.

All those struggles did was ignite something in the Boxers, who look primed to return to the postseason this season. I'm going to say Brockton gets through that portion of the schedule (one Peter Colombo said might rank as the toughest in New England) with a winning record. I'm a believer in Brockton this year, and they'll knock off at least one Catholic Conference opponent, as well as take care of business with Reading and Fitchburg. My guess is the Boxers end up 3-2 in this stretch (including a loss to BC High week one, which they'll avenge in the Super Bowl in December).

5. WHAT GAME WILL BE THE MOST THRILLING OF WEEK 1?

Hall: On a state-wide level, Everett’s trip to Leominster is certainly garnering the most interest, and deservedly so. The atmosphere there is going to be electric, with projections of anywhere up to 7-8,000 for expected attendance at Doyle Field. But, at the risk of being the wet blanket here, find me a pundit that doesn’t expect Everett to win.

Putnam-Central will be an intriguing battle out west, but I’m going with an underrated Saturday afternoon showdown in Shrewsbury, where St. John’s will host Holy Name in their customary season-opener. For all of Holy Name’s success under Mike Pucko, the Naps have never beaten St. John’s under John Andreoli. Last year’s contest, a 22-21 St. John’s thriller, was just epic on all fronts. And if there’s any year for Holy Name to get that elusive win over the Pioneers, it’s this one.

Barboza: This might not be the most high profile game on the docket, but I’m looking at the good ole fashioned brawl in the backyard between Dighton-Rehoboth and Somerset. The Falcons, coached by Somerset alum Dave Driscoll, are looking to rebound a bit in the South Coast Conference this season behind physical tackle Chuddy Nwachukwu and the Raiders could bounce back from a rebuilding year last year to finish atop the Eastern Athletic Conference this year. This has always been an underrated rivalry game in Southeastern Mass. and it's a great way to kick off the season for both squads.

Kurkjian: When in doubt, go with the No. 1 team opening up on the road against a program and community brimming with optimism over a Super Bowl win. No matter what happens, the atmosphere for Friday night's Everett at Leominster game will be electric.

Lerch: With apologies to several other high profile (BC High/Brockton) and not-so-high-profile (East Boston/Blue Hills will be a barnburner) matchups certainly deserving attention, the game at the top of my marquee is Duxbury at Bridgewater-Raynham (Saturday, 4 p.m.). Two programs very similar in the foundations programmed by a pair of tremendous head coaches, and both with an eye on getting a jump start on the "reload" process should be ready to go toe-to-toe for 44 minutes (or more).

Botelho: My favorite week one match-up is always Bridgewater-Raynham and Duxbury (especially this year, where these two teams grabbed the top two spots in our pre-season poll over at SportsJournal.co). Both perennial Super Bowl contenders, if either team doesn't bring their 'A' game from the get-go, they start the season with a loss. Dave Maimaron and Dan Buron always have their kids supremely prepared, so this one has a playoff atmosphere in September.

Scrimmage Slants: Brockton vs. St. John's (S)

August, 25, 2012
8/25/12
4:36
PM ET
St. John's defenseBrendan Hall/ESPNBoston.com St. John's defense showed plenty of pop this morning in its annual preseason scrimmage with Brockton.
SHREWSBURY –- Thoughts and observations from this morning’s annual preseason scrimmage between Brockton and St. John’s of Shrewsbury, on the grass at Pioneer Field:

Blurring the lines: In three series of starters against starters, each team scored once. But overall, I would say St. John’s was the aggressor for most of the morning, given the efficiency of their “Blur” offense, a very uptempo no-huddle look with spread principles, and the way they exploited the perimeters for multiple first downs.

One particular sequence that stands out is in the Pioneers’ first offensive series. Tailback Shadrach Abrokwah took an inside dive handoff and just before he hit the hole, cut back to his left and followed a big seam 15 yards down the left side. The Pioneers, with the ball now at the 10, went straight into the hurry-up. Before Brockton’s defense could get settled, Andrew Smiley hit Davon Jones in the right flat on a flare route, and the sophomore did the rest, diving over the pylon for the Pioneers’ only score.

“It really comes down to conditioning, staying focused, and making sure that we can execute our assignments,” head coach John Andreoli said. “It’s ball security and it’s playing penalty-free, because you really cannot stop that offense for reasons that you cause yourself. You’ve gotta make the defense make a mistake.

“You can’t make a mistake to stop that offense, you have to make sure it’s moving and you’re executing. That’s why I thought it was a good day for us today.”

Key injuries: Scary moment for the Pioneers on their second play from scrimmage, when incumbent starting quarterback Connor Kurtz went down with an injury to his left knee after getting his leg tangled in the pile while getting dropped for a loss. A diagnosis on the severity of the injury, or to what extent, was unknown after the scrimmage ended. Kurtz had to be helped off the field, and was seen on crutches on the sideline.

Kurtz’s backup, Smiley, took over duties for the rest of the afternoon. The 6-foot-4 junior looked sharp at times, tossing a 40-yard fade to Jones in the third offensive series, and making a few plays with his feet after getting flushed out of the pocket.

Meanwhile Brockton lost defensive back Micah Morel, a preseason ESPN Boston All-State selection, in the third series with an injury to his left shoulder. Morel will be re-evaluated on Monday, but having him out for an extended period of time could be a bad blow to the Boxers’ defense.

Shadrach reads and reacts: When you hear the term “blur offense”, it’s usually in reference to the no-huddle spread scheme run by Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks, who often try to snap the ball in 15 to 20 seconds. After evaluating his skill personnel, Andreoli felt his offense was up to the task, and as previously mentioned they looked crisp at times.

One of the foundations of this offense is the “Inside Zone Read”, a dive play out of shotgun that typically involves zone blocking principles up front, and a sharp cutback from the tailback. The play made a Heisman candidate out of LaMichael James last year; here in Shrewsbury, the play could lead to a breakout senior season for Abrokwah.

At 5-foot-7 and 205 pounds, and blessed with both speed and a powerful lower body, Abrokwah is essentially a sprinter in a hockey player’s body. His low center of gravity makes it difficult to get a clean shot, and today he used that to his advantage, repeatedly cutting back to the weak side on these zone plays to run off multiple gains of 10 yards or more.

“It’s all in the zone play,” Abrokwah said. “Once the offense flows one way, most likely the cutback is going to be on the other side, so I read my blockers, was patient, and just hit the hole.”

How quickly does he decide where he’s going to go on a zone play?

“It’s all instinct,” he smiled. “You have to feel the offense, and that’s what I did.”

New-look backfield: Devoid of a pure fullback, Brockton didn’t run its trademark Pro formation today, instead opting for a modified spread triple option popularized by college programs such as Georgia Tech and Navy.

The change was made to better utilize senior quarterback Augie Roberts’ dual-threat capabilities, and things started well in the first series. Roberts is a runner first, and on the second play from scrimmage he demonstrated his running ability, slipping outside a crack back block from Jeff Celeste for a 25-yard gain. But he also has a quality arm, connecting with Lorenzo Lovesy on a fly route for a 50-yard touchdown pass that was negated by a block in the back (an excessive celebration penalty was tacked on for good measure, too).

The Boxers rotated Morel and Aaron LeClair at one wingback position, Louis Jimenez and Moise Edouard at the other, and senior Ricardo Calixte at the fullback spot. Pat Healy is also in the mix at wingback, a baseball outfielder who is back in football after taking the year off.

“I just think it takes advantage of Austin’s skills,” head coach Peter Colombo said. “You didn’t see the whole package obviously today, and he’s not limited to that, but I just think it gives us a good opportunity for him to take advantage of his skills. We’ll see, we’ll adjust as it needs.”

The Boxers were good at times, but some of the problems that plagued them in last year’s disappointing 5-6 campaign –- namely, red zone struggles –- reared their heads. Jimenez did score from 10 yards out on the Boxers’ second drive, but on the first drive they were halted at the Pioneers’ five yard line. First, Matt Murphy made a stuff of the ballcarrier at the line of scrimmage. Then on the next play, fourth and goal from the five, Roberts was sacked by Andrew Sullivan.

It was a cycle that flashed in and out all afternoon, with the Pioneers bringing the heat in the front seven behind Connor Gatto, Sam Norton and Barron Dandridge.

Jones brings the wood, and the flash: I’m going to try my best to avoid the hyperbole highway this season with Davon Jones –- he is just a sophomore, after all, and he did fumble a ball away -– but it’s hard not to be impressed every time he comes to play.

Roaming around at free safety, Jones covers a lot of ground in the secondary, and played the bump well in the slot when the Pioneers went to a man press in the red zone. He showed off his live hips on offense, plugging himself into the slot and making defenders miss with multiple jukes.

But the trait that probably sticks out most at this point is his physicality. As the last line of defense against the run, Jones brings considerable pop for someone that’s 6-foot and 180 pounds, and it is certainly loud.

Earlier in the week, Andreoli told ESPNBoston.com of Jones, “If he continues to develop the way he develops, the way he’s playing now, he’s got the ability to play at the highest level” of college football.

“He’s a football player,” Andreoli said. “He doesn’t want to come off the field, he doesn’t care how tired he is, he’ll take a sip and get back on the field. He loves to play the game. And he plays hard, and he plays it the right way. He’s just got to continue to feel comfortable in our scheme, get good at reading receivers.”

Referring to Jones’ success so far as a guard for the Pioneers’ state semifinalist basketball team, Andreoli continued, “The thing too about him is, he’s played in a lot of big games –- basketball-wise, and in football. So he’s used to competing on the big stage here at the varsity level, so he can just basically play the game and get in the flow of the game.”

Jones says he’s learned a lot in the last 12 months, and has become more vocal in the secondary, calling out checks. Asked about those progressions he’s made in the mental side, Jones chalked it up to “muscle memory”.

“The coaches just pound it into my head – pass first, run second,” he said. “So I see it, and I just come up running fast.”

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