Boston High School: Mike Strachan

Top 25 countdown: Nos. 20-16

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
12:44
PM ET
On Monday, we unveiled our statewide MIAA Top 25 preseason football poll. Today, we continue our annual countdown of the poll with Nos. 20 through 16.

ICYMI: 25-21

NO. 20 DOHERTY
Coach: Sean Mulcahy (24th season, 112-141)
2013: 12-1, Division 4 State Champions
Returning Starters: 10 (5 offense, 5 defense)
Key Returnees: Jahkari Carpenter, Sr. RB/DB, 5-7, 160 lbs.; Javon Watkins, Sr. WR/RB/DB, 5-9, 170 lbs.; Eric Vecsey, Sr. QB/S, 5-10, 175 lbs.; Rickey Webster, Jr. DB/RB, 5-8, 160 lbs.; Dominique Lee, Sr. DB/RB, 5-9, 165 lbs.; Tavian Vassar, Jr. RB/DT, 6-1, 230 lbs.; James Shaugnessy, Sr. LB/WR, 5-11, 185 lbs.; Fitzroy Spencer, Sr. OL/DL, 6-2, 240 lbs.; Sean Moran, Sr. OL/DL/LB, 6-0, 240 lbs.; Manny Obisui, Sr. OL/DL, 6-2, 260 lbs.; Tariq Massenberg, Jr. DB/WR, 6-0, 160 lbs.; Aaron Adu, Jr. DB/WR, 5-11, 160 lbs.; Jack McGrail, Sr. DE/LB/TE, 6-1, 160lbs.
Strengths: Athleticism, offensive line, defensive line, senior leadership
Weaknesses: Inexperience at skill positions, inexperience at LB and DB
Outlook: Repeating as state champions is never easy, nor is replacing a pair of Division 1 athletes and arguably the best quarterback in school history. That is the challenge Doherty is faced with in 2014, with Isaac Yiadom now playing for BC, Alfred Adarkwah off to UMass and Luke Brennan pitching for Franklin Pierce. Still, the Highlanders should be right in the thick of things in D4 Central thanks to one of the state's most experienced and athletic offensive lines, and the versatility of speedy running back Jahkari Carpenter. Consistent targets will need to emerge for senior quarterback Eric Vecsey, but the Highlanders never seem to lack for athletes. Doherty is stacked up front on defense, where junior Tavian Vassar's quickness and the power of both Fitzroy Spencer and Manny Obisui should provide some cover for a back seven looking to replace six starters. Some talented options are available in the secondary, where juniors Rickey Webster and Aaron Adu will fight for playing time against classmate Tariq Massenberg, who started at corner last year when Adarkwah was nicked up. The linebacker corps will be totally overhauled, but the move of star guard Sean Moran to MLB should make things a little easier, and the return of James Shaugnessy from injury is certainly a welcome site for defensive coordinator and Associate Head Coach Steve Bucciatlia. This year's group isn't quite as talented or experienced as last year's title team, but sleeping on Doherty would be foolish for anyone in Central Mass.
-JOE PARELLO

NO. 19 PLYMOUTH NORTH
Head Coach: Kevin Cobban (3rd season, 11-10)
2013: 8-3, lost to Plymouth South in Div. 3 Southeast final
Returning Starters: Eight returning starters on offense; six returning starters on defense.
Key Players: Christian Carr, Sr. RB; Cullin Cosgrove, Sr. QB; Jack Gallagher, Sr. OL; Gavin Johnson, Sr. C/G; Justin Cabral, Jr. OL; Brian Proctor, Jr. OL; Ryan Boudreau, Sr. S/CB;
Strengths: Rushing game; experience on the offensive line and defensive secondary.
Weaknesses: Depth on defensive line; special teams.
Outlook: There was no secret to Plymouth North’s formula for turnaround success last season: give it to Christian Carr. “That was our forte last year,” Eagles head coach Kevin Cobbin said. “Everybody in the stadium knew what we were going to do, but we just kept doing it.” The ground game will again be the bread and butter for North, with Carr coming off a season in which he broke the school’s single-seasons rushing record. The Eagles return four starters on the offensive line, including Jack Gallager, who was lost after the second game of the season last year but Cobban says “might have been our best lineman.” However, Cobban also sees the Eagles airing it out a bit more in 2014 behind incumbent three-starting quarterback Cullin Cosgrove. The Eagles also have an abundance of experience in their defensive secondary, where they return a full corps of three-year starters. While North lacks the same kind of experience along the defensive line, Cobban is confident the Eagles will be able to win the point of attack on either side of the ball. “The kids have bought into offseason workouts and we’re bigger and stronger than we’ve been,” Cobban said. This year also marks the Eagles’ first year in the Patriot League, moving from the Atlantic Coast League. The shift means North will be establishing some new rivalries and reigniting some lost in time. “It doesn’t matter that we’re moving into a new league, we’re just excited to play,” Cobban said.
-SCOTT BARBOZA

NO. 18 ATTLEBORO
Coach: Mike Strachan (Second Year, 9-2)
2013 Record: 9-2 (6-1), lost to Xaverian in Division 1 South sectional final
Returning Starters: 12 (6 offensive, 6 defensive)
Key Players: Kyle Murphy, Jr. OL/DL 6-3, 235 lbs.; Brenden Massey, Sr. WR/DB, 6-0, 170 lbs.; Thomas Belin, Sr. RB, 5-11, 170 lbs.; Matt Elliot, Sr. WR/DB, 5-9, 190 lbs.; Nick Desmaris, Sr. WR/DB, 6-1, 160 lbs.; Tim Christensen, Sr. OL/DL, 6-2, 235 lbs.; Ross Killion, Sr. QB, 6-3, 185 lbs.; Tyler McGovern, So. QB, 6-1, 140 lbs.
Strengths: Offensive and defensive line
Weaknesses: Inexperience at quarterback and skill positions
Outlook: Last season was one to remember for the Bombardiers with a change of leadership under new head coach Mike Strachan and his staff and a trip to the Division 1 South final. Now the test for the Bombardiers is to build off the success of last season and prove that they can be a perennial threat in the Hockomock League. That will be a difficult task without star quarterback Tim Walsh, whose dynamic ability to make plays with his feet and his arm aren’t easily replicated, which head coach Mike Strachan admitted at the league’s recent Media Day. While Attleboro may not have a settled quarterback position heading into camp, with Ross Killion being the senior but a lot of people close to the program talking about the talent of sophomore Tyler McGovern, the Bombardiers can rely on strength in the trenches. Senior Tim Christensen and junior Kyle Murphy, who is receiving interest from Clemson University after a breakout sophomore season, will anchor the offensive and defensive line and try to open holes for running back Thomas Belin. The senior did not see action until the fourth game of 2013, but he will be the focal point of the offense this year and his breakaway speed will be crucial. If teams bunch the line of scrimmage, then Attleboro can also look downfield to senior wideout Brenden Massey, who made several remarkable catches last season and was named to the ESPNBoston.com 2014 Preseason All-State team. Every team has to deal with the loss of great players to graduation and Strachan is expecting his players to step up in camp to prove that 2013 was not a fluke. “I think if we’re going to build our program long term than we need to be like the Mansfields, North Attleboroughs, and KPs, and continue that level of player from year to year,” he said. “We expect a lot of competition in camp.”
-JOSH PERRY

NO. 17 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL
Coach: Valdamar Brower 6th season (45-16)
Last Year: 10-2. Beat Longmeadow 35-12 in WMass Divison 2 semifinal. Beat Westfield 44-20 in WMass Division 2 final. Lost to St. John's (S) 37-32 in Division 2 state semifinal
Returning Starters: 10 (5 offense, 5 defense)
Key Returnees: Antoine Williams, Jr., RB/WR/S, Justin Bolden, Sr.,RB/MLB, Nate Smith, Sr, WR/S/KR, Issac Morales, Jr., WR/DB, Kaleb Hunter-Sams, Sr., OL/DL, Aaron Williams, Sr., QB/S; Tysean Williams, Sr., WR 5-11, 170; Tyreque Estrada-Crapps, Jr., RB/CB, 5-8, 170; Daryl Wiggins, Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 340; Noah Mayberry, Sr., C, 5-11, 248.
Strengths: Offensive line, team unity
Weaknesses: Inexperience
Outlook: The Golden Eagles have a major task ahead of them as they try to replenish their arsenal following the graduation of several key contributors from last year's highly-successful season. This will most-likely be felt on the offensive side of the ball. Cody Williams, the brilliant duel-threat quarterback, now playing for Monmouth University (NJ), was a three-year starter, having passed for 5,290 yards and 59 TDs during his remarkable tenure here. On the ground, Williams had a career rushing mark of 801 yards, scoring 19 times. Last season he threw for 2,214 yards and 24 TDs, while rushing for 578 yards and 12 TDs. Also gone are WR/CB/K Ju'an Williams, who finished last year with 823 receiving yards and 7 TDs, WR/CB Malik Johnson (595 receiving yds, 7 TDs), HB/S Troy Morrow (986 rushing yds, 4 TDs) and RB/SS DaQuan Clemons (536 rushing yds, 4 TDs). That group was the primarily nucleus in guiding the Golden Eagles to within a game of playing in the Division 2 Super Bowl before losing to St. John's of Shrewsbury in the state semifinal round last November. Without question, it was a very gifted and uniquely talented group of seniors _ all of whom will be sorely missed. However, as Brower is quick to point out, this is not the time to reflect on the past.The focus now turns to him and his staff attempting to developed a young squad, many of whom are considered to be untested and unproven, in preparation for this season.
"We are returning just three guys that started on offense and four that started on defense so right now we have a lot of inexperience and a lot of unseasoned guys," Brower said. "A lot of these kids will need to step up to the challenges that lie ahead of us this season. We will be able to evaluate throughout the preseason and especially after our first game to see where we are at and make the necessary adjustments along the way. Hopefully some of our younger guys took a few mental and physical notes by watching how those kids from last year conducted themselves, not only in games, but on the practice field and inside the locker room as well. But now it is their time. We continue to have high expectations for this program. No matter how we do, we still need to weather any storm that comes our way and continue to get better and not beat ourselves up when things go bad. There are many other teams that have younger players too so, for us, we just need to keep getting better everyday and not stop working until someone tells us our season is over."
Despite the number of departures, Central still has be considered one of the favorites to win the highly-competitive AA Conference mostly because Brower and his staff, as proven, are well-versed in getting the most out of their players. Last season, the Golden Eagles finished 7-0 in conference play, but are expected to face some fierce competition this season particularly from the likes of Westfield, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow as well as much-improved Holyoke and West Springfield squads. Central opens its season with a home date against powerful Everett on Sept. 5 -- marking the fourth consecutive year these two clubs have squared off against one another. The Crimson Tide hold a 3-0 lead in the series. "We love playing against Everett and it is my hope that this series will continue," said Brower. "Obviously they are a great team with a great tradition and are well-coached. We really enjoy playing them. For us, we want to continue to play the top programs in the state. That's how you get better as a team." As far as returners go, Crapps gives Central a solid two-way threat as a rusher and receiver out of the back field. He is a talented downhill runner who saw limited action last year due to the emergence of Morrow and Clemons. Bolden and Antoine Williams will also get their fair share of the work load as well. Tysean Williams should be the Golden Eagles' top receiving threat. The fleet-footed wide out hauled in four touchdowns a year ago. But it will be difficult for opposing teams to double up on him with Smith and Morales also on the field. Look for Mayberry to anchor a strong offensive line from his center position. And obviously, with Aaron Williams taking over the signal-calling duties, he will have some big shoes to fill however no one is questioning his pure athleticism to excel at the position. Defensively, Wiggins, at 6-foot, 340-pounds, is a beast with unlimited potential to be a sure-fire gap stopper. He will also be counted on heavily to keep constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks. One of the biggest question marks surrounds Hunter-Sams. At 6-2, 280, Hunter-Sams has shown traces of developing into a solid two-way lineman, but does he have the high motor to go along with it? Only time will tell as the skill level seems to be there. One intangible in the Golden Eagles' favor is the addition of Bill Watson, the former Putnam Voc head coach. Watson, who enjoyed a successful two-year stint holding down the reins with the Beavers, decided to leave the position at the conclusion of last season, moving across town to join Brower's staff and will serve as defensive coordinator. Watson's particular attention to detail, ability to motivate players and calling out the proper defensive packages on the fly will certainly be a major asset for Central moving forward. "He's a great addition," Brower said. "We've coached against one another and have gotten to know each other very well. He and I have always talked about working together someday. It didn't seem like it would be a reality until this last spring when things just happened to pan out. All of us here are ready to accept him with open arms. We both have similar philosophies and we both have a strong passion for the game. It is going to be exciting to have him with us."
-JOHN McGUIRK

NO. 16 LEOMINSTER
Coach: Dave Palazzi (Fourth season, 29-8)
2013: 10-1, lost in Division 2 Central Final
Returning Starters: Five (2 offensive, 3 defensive)
Key Returnees: Nate Lambert, Sr. OG, 5-11, 195 lbs.; James Gurley, Sr. RB/CB, 5-9, 190 lbs.; Kevin Beran, Sr. DL; Hector Aponte, Sr. DL
Strengths: Size, defensive line.
Weaknesses: Inexperience
Outlook: After a dominant three-year stretch that included back-to-back Super Bowl titles, an historic shutout of long-time rival Brockton and a district final appearance, the Blue Devils are hitting the reset button. Gone are All-State safety Jarell Addo and last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Neil O’Connor. In their places are a whole lot of fresh faces, from linemen Alex Bourgeois and Jared McDonald; to skill guys like tight end Carlos Santana and receivers D’Andre Addo, Shane Crayton and Mike Lovewell; to a promising sophomore class led by Anthony Dandini, Dylan Tanner and 6-foot-4 athlete Noah Gray. “To be honest with you, I’m more excited than ever to coach this year,” Palazzi said. “We know what we have this year, but we don’t know what we have because there’s no experience. So, it makes it more exciting, to see kids grow. It might be painful, it might be frustrating, but you know, that’s why I love coaching.” Defensive coordinator Charlie Raff has taken over at Oakmont, and in his place Palazzi promoted line coach and long-time compatriot Kevin Murphy, and also added former North Middlesex head coach John Margarita to the defensive staff. The Blue Devils under Palazzi have never blown you away with size, but they’ll have more of it this year with the new blood. Still, the newbies are going to have to grow up quick this fall. They open with three preseason Top 10 opponents (at No. 5 St. John’s, Sept. 13; vs. No. 7 Lowell, Sept. 19; vs. No. 8 Shepherd Hill, Sept. 26), then host No. 20 Doherty on Oct. 10. That’s a brutal stretch for even the most experienced team, never mind one as green as the Devils.
-BRENDAN C. HALL

D1 South final: Xaverian 35, Attleboro 28

November, 16, 2013
11/16/13
10:39
PM ET


WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Xaverian senior Shayne Kaminski had 151 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns in the second half alone as the top-seeded Hawks beat Attleboro, 35-28, in Saturday afternoon’s Division 1 South final.

Attleboro took a 14-7 lead into halftime and extended it to 21-7 on the opening drive of the second half, but Xaverian responded quickly and continued to gain momentum, scoring 28 straight points.

"We came out in the second half and we needed to run the football because obviously we didn't want to give them more opportunities offensively because they're very explosive," Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said. "We really took control of the line of scrimmage in the second half and Shayne was just a monster."

[+] EnlargeXaverian football
Scott Barboza for ESPNBoston.com Xaverian claimed the Division 1 South title and will face North champion Central Catholic at Gillette Stadium.
The Hawks opened scoring in the second quarter when quarterback Jake Farrell was able to escape Attleboro defenders in the backfield before firing a pass down field to a wide open Coby Tippett for a 48-yard touchdown. Attleboro responded on its next drive, taking it to the Xaverian 32 before Attleboro quarterback Tim Walsh found Brenden Massey in one-on-one coverage for a touchdown, making it 7-7.

Patrick Dunn then intercepted Farrell on the next drive and Attleboro marched 63 yards before Walsh hit a wide open Luke Morrison, who had just made a spectacular one-handed, 35-yard catch on the previous play, for a 6-yard touchdown with 36 seconds remaining in the half.

But the second half belonged to Kaminski, who finished with 30 carries for 200 yards.

After Attleboro made it 21-7, Xaverian drove 70 yards on eight plays — five of them runs by Kaminski — before the senior went through a big hole towards the right side for an 18-yard touchdown. On the next series, Xaverian junior defensive back Ernest Simon picked off Walsh. Though the offense was forced to punt, the kick pinned Attleboro inside their own 30 and after a hold, Attleboro's offense was forced to punt. However Walsh, who also handles punting duties, decided to run with the ball and was taken down short of the first down, giving Xaverian the ball at the Attleboro 31.

The Bombardier defense held its own, stopping the Hawks on fourth and goal from the 2-yard line, but the Hawks defense again stepped up, forcing a punt and Xaverian took over at the Attleboro 37-yard line. Two plays later, Kaminski went to the right, losing his shoe before scampering all the way for a touchdown to tie the game 21-21.

"That was a credit to the offensive line, that was probably the biggest hole I've seen all season," Kaminski said. "Shoe or no shoe, it's expected for me to take that to the house."

It was the Hawk's defense stepping up big again as Walsh had three straight incompletions on the ensuing drive and was forced to punt again. On Xaverian's first play, Farrell was able to hit Nick Colantuoni for a 53-yard touchdown and Xaverian had their first lead since the second quarter at 28-21, with just 5:47 to play.

"Jake [Farrell] is a competitor and things might not have gone his early but he stayed after it and they were tough defensively," said Stevenson. "I'm sure their quarterback had some frustration too with our defense. I think [Farrell] made some big plays for us when he had to and he completed that big pass to Nick [Colantuoni], great fake on his part."

As Attleboro tried to respond on their next drive, defensive back Damion Wood put the final touches on a superb Xaverian defensive effort in the second half. As Walsh looked for an open receiver, he floated one across the field but Wood came away with the interception, taking it 24-yards for the pick-six and giving the Hawks a 35-21 lead with 5:14 left.

"They're a very good football team and very well coached and have good skill players," Stevenson said. "They gave us everything we could handle all over the field on both sides of the ball. I really have to congratulate Coach [Mike] Stratchan for the job he's done there, he's really done a fantastic job there. Those kids really played their hearts out. I really give all the credit to him and all of his players and his staff."

Attleboro took their next drive 68 yards in less than two minutes, capped off with a Damon Belin 16 yard touchdown catch from Walsh, but Xaverian recovered the onside kick attempt and used seven straight Kaminski runs that resulted in three first downs, allowing the Hawks to take a couple of kneel downs to run the clock out.

"They did a great job, they had seven in the box all day and they played pressed coverage on us and their athletes matched up very well with us and then they got momentum," Stratchan said. "That was the end of it for us.

"I gotta’ give a lot credit to them. They're physical and they're well coached and they have good match ups."

Xaverian will now play for the Division 1 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 7. They will face off against Central Catholic, which defeated Everett, 20-14, in Saturday’s Division 1 North final.

D1 South: Attleboro 40, B-R 14

November, 9, 2013
11/09/13
1:54
AM ET


ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Sometimes Attleboro quarterback Tim Walsh sits back and watches the show.

“We expect him to bust one every time,” Walsh said of Blue Bombardiers junior running back Damon Belin. “He has that kind of explosiveness where it’s just like, ‘Wow.’”

Of course, Walsh — himself — is as deft making plays with his feet as he is throwing from the pocket. And, in Friday night’s Division 1 South semi-final matchup with Bridgewater-Raynham, Belin and Walsh combined to create a force to which the Trojans had no answer in the second half.

After keeping it a one-possession game through the first half (21-14, Attleboro), the Trojans were unable to slow the Blue Bombardiers’ rushing attack in the second half, as Attleboro posted 19 unanswered points while running for 318 yards on the evening in a 40-14 rout.

“Our running game seems to be underrated, but I think it’s very strong,” Walsh added. “That just allows me to have more opportunities.”

Belin ran for 94 yards on 24 carries and scoring three touchdowns — two rushing, one receiving.

But it was actually Walsh who led the Blue Bombardiers (8-1) with 122 rushing yards on 11 carries. He also completed 7 of 11 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns.

However, for all of Attleboro’s success on the ground, it appeared as though B-R (5-3) would impose its will in the duel between former Old Colony League rivals. Without the services of starting quarterback Matt Clement (concussion), the Trojans started the game nearly exclusively in a series of heavy goal-line formations, running Brandon Gallagher out of the “I.”

After pushing the opening drive downfield on brute strength, the Trojans found the end zone first with Steve D’Emilia’s 16-yard touchdown to tight end Connor Reagan.

But Attleboro would score on each of its first three offensive possessions, taking a 21-14 lead into the half, after fullback David Duquette’s 12-yard draw run up the middle with 3:01 remaining.

The Blue Bombardiers continued the onslaught with the opening possession of the second half. An 8-play, 65-yard drive, culminating in Walsh’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Burns with 8:05 remaining in the third, gave Attleboro its first of three unanswered scores in the second half, closing out the victory.

Attleboro advances to face the winner of Saturday's Catholic Conference clash between BC High and Xaverian in next week's sectional final.

Trench warfare: While Attleboro’s offensive line won the point of attack, so too did the Blue Bombardiers’ defensive line. Attleboro held the Trojans to 117 rushing yards on the game.

Of those yards, Gallagher owned 102. But of his team-high total, nearly half of Gallagher’s yards came on one play in the second quarter. Faced with a fourth-and-5 from its 47-yard line, B-R claimed a 14-13 lead with 6:29 to play in the half, with Gallagher running 53 yards on a direct-snap, punt-fake play for a touchdown.

However, Attleboro clamped down in the second half, forcing the Trojans into a negative yardage figure (-3) on rushing attempts coming in the second half.

“I’m upset about the fake punt because we worked on that all week,” Attleboro head coach Mike Strachan said. “But we bounced back, I think our defense, after the first drive, they ate a lot of clock in the first quarter. They did a really good job. But I thought we settled down.”

Meanwhile, on the flip side of the ball, the Blue Bombardiers’ O-line consistently opened up huge holes. They also provided support in the passing game, with left tackle Shawn Reardon’s seal block springing Burns on his 14-yard score off a slip screen to start the second half.

“We have such big linemen and because of their strength, it gets me through those holes every time,” Belin said.

Burn-s notice: Tommy Burns has proven to be jack-of-all-trades for the Blue Bombardiers. And, at 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds, Burns’ impact on the Blue Bombardiers’ success has far exceeded his stature.

Take Friday night’s game for instance. Burns finished with a game-high 105 yards on five catches with a touchdown. Working across formations, he also added 46 rushing yards on five carries.

On defense, Burns again made his presence felt, recovering a fumble at the tail end of the first quarter, which set up a 6-play touchdown drive capped by Belin’s 14-yard touchdown catch for a 13-7 lead at 9:17 of the second.

Recap: No. 20 Attleboro 19, No. 15 KP 12

October, 26, 2013
10/26/13
2:32
AM ET


WRENTHAM, Mass. – What a difference a year makes.

Friday’s was the type of game Attleboro football would have lost in previous instances. There would have been a second-half comeback, or a costly mistake would have occurred on offense.

But, again, the No. 20 Blue Bombardiers proved this year’s model there’s one crucial difference – they close.

Attleboro closed out its regular season slate of Hockomock Kelley-Rex division play with a 19-12 win over host No. 15 King Philip. And, after a 4-7 campaign in 2012, the Blue Bombardiers advance to the Division 1 South playoffs with a 6-1 mark to date, their lone loss of the season coming against Hockomock rival and ESPN Boston statewide No. 1 Mansfield.

“We’re feeling great right now,” senior quarterback Tim Walsh said.

As in so many previous instances, Walsh had Attleboro flying out of the chute, requiring just three plays from scrimmage to get in the end zone, connecting with wide receiver Brenden Massey on a 30-yard score 65 seconds into action. The Blue Bombardiers started the drive deep in KP territory, after Stanley Beaubrun’s 65-yard return of the opening kickoff to the Warriors’ 27-yard line.

However, KP (5-2, 3-2 Kelley-Rex) responded immediately, embarking on a methodical 8-play, 62-yard drive, capped by J.J. Dillon’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Joe Johnston. After both teams failed point-after tries, the score remained tied, 6-6.

The Warriors took 12-6 lead with 1:52 remaining in the first quarter, with Dillon going over center on a 1-yard touchdown run. KP started the drive at Attleboro’s 36, after the Blue Bombardiers couldn’t convert a fourth-down pass on a punt fake.

But Attleboro reestablished the lead heading into the half with Walsh (6 of 16, 121) throwing his second touchdown pass to Matthew Elliott from three yards out. The first successful point-after kick of the game from Michael Cannata provided the Blue Bombardiers with the 13-12 edge at intermission.

Attleboro padded its lead on its first possession of the second half. Junior running back Damon Belin (13 carries, 74 yards) ran in from nine yards out behind a pulling guard for the Blue Bombardiers’ final margin of victory at 3:25 of the third.

KP would have four more cracks at a tying score, but the Warriors drives sputtered with a result of two punts and a turnover on downs before getting one last shot inside of the final minute.

After a 13-yard completion from Dillon to Johnston (19 carries, 126 yards) set up the Warriors on the plus-side of the 50, Attleboro’s defense tightened again, forcing two incompletions. With one second remaining in the game, KP had one last heave at end zone from the Attleboro 43. However, when Dillon dropped back out of the shotgun, he was met by a gaggle of Blue Bombardiers defenders, who combined for the sack, ending the game.

Don’t sleep on ‘D’: The Blue Bombardiers did something to KP that the Warriors’ defense is accustomed to doing – pitching a shutout in the second half. They did so in style, posting five plays that resulted in no gain or a loss for the Warriors.

At the forefront of the Attleboro’s second-half defensive charge was senior defensive tackle Brandon Pleas. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder presented matchup problems for KP’s interior linemen, scorching the Warriors with three tackles for loss, including a critical sack late in the fourth quarter.

Pleas creates a big, physical front for Attleboro, joined by impressive two-way sophomore lineman Kyle Murphy (6-3, 235 lbs.). When tight end/defensive end Luke Morrison (6-3, 220 lbs.) enters in sub packages as an edge rusher, the Blue Bombardiers present a size advantage in the box many area high school teams simply cannot match.

“The game plan was to establish the line of scrimmage and beat your man,” Please said. “We lacked that in the first half, but in the second half, we came out and hit. That’s what won us the game.”

Breath of fresh air: After not seeing postseason play in more than a decade, Attleboro will enter the playoffs next week in head coach Mike Strachan’s first year at the helm.

It goes without saying that the Blue Bombardiers’ transformation has — in no small part — been a testament to their new coach. But Strachan maintains the team’s on-field success stems from its commitment to detail in practice.

“I think it comes down to the way that we practice,” Strachan said. “Every day, we have goals, we set goals for ourselves in practice. As silly as that might sound, we believe in it. We get better every day.”

While Attleboro’s new season starts next week with a home playoff game, the Blue Bombardiers took a sort of moment of reflection as to how far they’ve come, with a celebratory Gatorade shower for Strachan. For a team focused on incremental goals, it shouldn’t be viewed as a premature celebration.

“I think we’ve accomplished a lot,” Pleas said. “Words can’t even explain it. These coaches are something else.”

Attleboro's Strachan named Pats Coach of the Week

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
5:28
PM ET
Following Attleboro's 3-0 start, Blue Bombardiers head coach Mike Strachan has been named the Patriots Coach of Week.

Here's more from today's release from the team:
Attleboro High School’s Mike Strachan has been named this week’s New England Patriots High School Coach of the Week in recognition of his team’s 37-20 victory over Franklin on Friday, Sept. 27 in Attleboro. The Bombardiers used a balanced offensive attack and a number of key turnovers on defense to win their first league game of the season. The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation will donate $1,000 to Attleboro High School’s football program in Strachan’s name in recognition of his Coach of the Week selection.

Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett, the team’s executive director of community affairs, visited Coach Strachan’s team on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Attleboro High School. The visit and check presentation will be featured on the Patriots weekly television magazine show, “Patriots All Access,” which airs at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, on WBZ-TV in Boston and will be available immediately after on Patriots.com.

This is the 18th year in which the Patriots join the National Football League in conducting the High School Coach of the Week program, which recognizes outstanding high school coaches and promotes youth football throughout New England. Tippett oversees the program as part of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’s commitment to youth football initiatives.

“Congratulations to Coach Mike Strachan and his team,” Tippett said. “The Attleboro High School offense was a well-oiled machine with two passing touchdowns in the first half and three rushing touchdowns in the last three quarters to seal the victory. They are 1-0 in league play and 3-0 overall. This was a big win for the Bombardiers.”

At the conclusion of the season, one high school coach will be named the New England Patriots High School Coach of the Year and will receive an additional $2,000 contribution toward the school’s football program.

Roundtable: Bigger things to come for Xaverian?

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
1:59
PM ET
1. SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYED A MAJOR FACTOR IN XAVERIAN'S 49-13 DRUBBING OF BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM, RETURNING TWO BLOCKED PUNTS FOR TOUCHDOWNSW, BUT A.J. KING (2 TDs) DIDN'T HAVE A BAD DAY EITHER. IS THIS XAVERIAN SQUAD CAPABLE OF ROUTINELY PUTTING UP BIG NUMBERS?

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: If this were 2012, or any other recent year for that matter, I would lean towards labeling that game an anomaly. Xaverian squads typically aren't known for blowing up the scoreboard, instead moving the chains rather steadily behind a conservative multiple offense and relying on change-of-pace backs to grind out the tough yardage. I've been in this for 10 years, and this year's Xaverian team feels like one of the more unpredictable squads that I can recall. And when I say that, I mean you just don't know that they're going to throw at you. Certainly, Jake Farrell brings about an escapeability intangible they typically haven't had with quarterbacks, and there is some promising sophomore talent.

By the way, whoever the special teams coach is at Xaverian, give that man a raise. If you think the B-R game was an aberration, ask the BB&N coaches how their scrimmage with the Hawks went.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: I know we all thought the Hawks’ defense would be ahead of the offense entering the season, but this looks like a much-improved group thus far. I like the one-two punch Shayne Kaminski and Noah Sorrento provide in the backfield. They have some legit targets in the passing game with King and D.J. Sperzel and Jake Farrell has looked great at quarterback. If the offensive line keeps creating holes and pass protecting the way they have in the first two weeks, I don’t foresee a slowdown.

John McGuirk, ESPN Boston correspondent: With the talent Xaverian has they should continue to put up decent numbers. They have four 'big' games left on the schedule in Barnstable, Brockton, BC High and St. John's Prep. All four of those programs are outstanding but all have issues on defense as well which should work in the Hawks' favor.

2. NASHOBA OWNS THE STATE'S LONGEST ACTIVE WIN STREAK (28 GAMES), BUT TWO TOUGH OPPONENTS LAY AHEAD IN WACHUSETT AND ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY. DO YOU SEE THE CHIEFTAINS MAKING IT TO 30 STRAIGHT?

Hall: Wachusett matches up evenly on paper with Nashoba, but watch out for St. John's. Andrew Smiley is heating up (380 passing yards the last six quarters), and the running game seems to be hitting a groove with St. Louis transplant Shane Combs taking over the feature role. The "blur" offense is a whirlwind to handle when all is going right, and you always have to watch where Davon Jones lines up. I see the Pioneers stopping Nashoba's streak at 29.

Barboza: I think it’ll end at No. 29. The Chieftains will get by Wachusett, but I think the Pioneers’ athletes, particularly on the perimeter, will prove too much to handle.

McGuirk: I see Nashoba reaching 30 straight wins. Wachusett is going through a down year, having already lost to St. Peter-Marian and Fitchburg. And what has been noted many times, St. John's biggest weakness the last couple of seasons has been its porous defense and inability to make tackles consistently. If you look past those next two games, the Chieftains will face a pair of unbeatens (Marlborough and Leominster). That is where the streak could possibly come to a close.

3. BETWEEN THE SUPERB STARTS FROM BROCKTON, TAUNTON, TEWKSBURY AND WESTFIELD, THE TRIPLE OPTION IS MAKING A COMEBACK. WHICH TEAM RUNS IT BEST?

Hall: It's tough to argue against Westfield's ridiculous numbers -- there are running backs that will go a whole season not putting up as many rushing yards as the Bombers have their first two games of the season. But it's hard to argue against Brockton's talent. Aaron LeClair and Jamal Williams get to the perimeter quick, and the Boxers can steamroll you inside with counters and dives. All four of these teams have a dynamic playmaker in the backfield -- LeClair, Tewksbury's Eddie Matovu, Westfield's Ben Geschwind and Taunton's Domingo Jenkins -- but I will give Brockton the edge here because of what they have in the trenches. Aaron Monteiro, the Boxers' prized prospect at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, is a road grader at left guard with a pretty high ceiling.

Barboza: As of right now, I don’t see how you can argue with Westfield. The Bombers are running roughshod over opponents behind senior fullback Ben Geschwind. After running for 348 yards and six touchdowns as a team during last week's 49-20 win over West Springfield, Westfield has scored 109 points in two games, with Geschwind averaging more than 150 yards per game.

Josh Perry, HockomockSports.com: I can’t say whether or not Taunton runs it better than other teams in the state, but I can say that the Tigers do make it look fun. With Gerald Cortijo and Steven Harrison giving star back Domingo Jenkins some help in the backfield, the Tigers have speedy and shifty runners. It’s almost enough to make you forget just how good the ground game would have been without Jamal Williams’ move to Brockton. Taunton’s ability to run the triple option will of course get a much tougher test this week against King Philip and its strong defense, but the Tigers are unique among the other Hockomock teams and it can be fun to watch.

McGuirk: The way Westfield is dominating the competition (109 points in two games), I would say the the triple option is working best for them. They have the right personnel to execute it and coach Bill Moore is very good at putting the right players in place to keep it rolling effectively, especially his tandem of Ben Geschwind and Jake Toomey, who are both averaging over 10 yards-per-carry.

4. TWO OF THE MERRIMACK VALLEY CONFERENCE'S BEST SQUADS, CENTRAL CATHOLIC AND LOWELL, SURRENDERED A COMBINED 73 POINTS AGAINST NON-LEAGUE TOP 10 OPPONENTS LAST WEEKEND. ARE WE HEADED FOR ANOTHER SEASON OF HIGH SCORES IN THE MVC?

Hall: Tough to tell, because Tewksbury has more than pulled its weight in the defensive end so far. If there's one team that can avoid track meets, it's the Redmen. Everyone else, good luck. We anointed the MVC "Death By 1,000 Shallow Crosses" a year ago, and with the amount of spread offense and no-huddle tempo deployed in this league, we could very well be in for another season of Wild West scores.

Barboza: I'd take my chances with the defensive units of Andover, Central Catholic, Lowell and Tewksbury against just about any offense in the state, but what comes into play in the MVC is the teams' offensive style of play. With so many teams in its ranks adopting the spread offense, the big numbers put up seemingly on a weekly basis are more a function of the pace of the game, with shortened drives as opposed to rushing-oriented, ball-control styles of play. But as long as MVC teams continue to live and die by the sword (or the spread), I think we'll continue to see some lopsided numbers.

Mike Abelson, ESPN Boston correspondent: Yes and no. Central and Lowell, when the blur is working as advertised, can drop basketball scores on lesser teams because of the athletic talent. That being said, through three weeks there are only two MVC teams averaging 30 or more points. Central is one, and the other, North Andover, hasn't won a game. The only two remaining undefeated teams, Tewksbury and Methuen, are averaging 27 and 18 points a game, respectively, and winning games without all the flash and dash of putting up buckets of points. Yes, the MVC will have it's share of high-scoring contests (I'll put the over/under for Central-Chelmsford at 90.5), but it won't consistently translate to W's.

5. AFTER A ROUGH FIRST WEEK, HAS BARNSTABLE FIGURED IT OUT? CAN THEY KNOCK OFF NO. 1 XAVERIAN?

Hall: I feel like this is a sneaky good matchup. Let's not forget Barnstable was our preseason No. 12 before getting shell-shocked by Dennis-Yarmouth in the opening weekend. There is talent, between versatile athlete Hayden Murphy, shutdown corner Derek Estes and elusive scatback Justus Chafee.

Defensively, Barnstable typically likes to stretch vertically and keep everything in front of them, which can be a bad matchup against spread teams like Dennis-Yarmouth. Last week against BC High, they looked like they cleaned up a lot of their mistakes. Xaverian's offense, while a bit more creative, has some similarities to BC High's. Going the other way, the Red Raiders use some funky misdirection in the run game to prevent linebackers from filling gaps. On their first touchdown against BC, for instance, a receiver backpedaled off the line of scrimmage, feigning a bubble screen, putting several defenders on their heels as Chafee came up the gut on a zone read.

That kind of stuff can keep even the best defenses on their toes. Expect some fireworks, and some dynamic playcalling, in this one.

Barboza: This is a yes-and-no proposition to me. I think the Raiders righted ship after an embarrassing loss to Cape rival Dennis-Yarmouth in Week 1, going on the road to beat another Catholic Conference foe in BC High. But I think Barnstable would need to play a near perfect game, while forcing the Hawks into some turnovers in order to make it four straight defeats of an ESPN Boston No. 1 squad. I'm not saying it will not be a close game, I just like Xaverian a little bit more.

Perry: In a preseason roundtable, I said that Barnstable was a team that was getting overlooked because of the players that it lost from last year. I’ll stick by that and say that the Raiders give Xaverian a run for their money. The No. 1 ranking has been more of an albatross than an honor this year, so I’ll say that Barnstable has a good chance of causing the Hawks problems.

McGuirk: Barnstable is good but Xaverian is playing with a lot of confidence, especially following the huge win over B-R last week. The Hawks should take care of the Red Raiders who gave up 37 points to D-Y in Week One but did bounce back nicely last week against BC High.

Abelson: In Hayden Murphy I trust. In the ESPN Boston poll curse I believe. Barnstable, 27-21.

6. THE HOCKOMOCK LEAGUE'S KELLY-REX DIVISION MIGHT BE THE STATE'S MOST UNPREDICTABLE RACE THIS FALL. AS LEAGUE PLAY OPENS UP THIS WEEK, PROJECT YOUR CHAMPION AND DARK HORSE.

Hall: Mansfield was the prohibitive favorite in most minds heading into the season, and so far they've done little to suggest otherwise. Consider that nearly three weeks out from their shocking upset of Dunbar (Md.), the Hornets are still without five starters. They're already a dynamic offense, between quarterback Kyle Wisnieski, 6-foot-5 flex tight end Brendan Hill, and space-carving tailback Miguel Villar-Perez. Hard to go against that.

For dark horses, I like Attleboro. I think it's understated how big their line is, particularly at defensive tackle, and there are plenty of weapons on offense between quarterback Tim Walsh, tight end Luke Morrison and receiver Brendan Massey. This program has long been a sleeping giant, and new coach Mike Strachan has re-awakened those sentiments.

Barboza: All along, I've penciled in Mansfield as the team to beat in the Kelley-Rex. I believe they had the most complete group of talent on either side of the ball, and also had the most upside. The scary part is that, due to injury, the Hornets might not have yet hit their apogee and will continue to strengthen as the season progresses.

Now, for the sleeper, I know we've talked up Attleboro up a lot in the early going -- to the point that I really think they're a threat in Division 1 South. Seeing that the Blue Bombardiers are for real in the first two weeks of the season, I'm going to go with Taunton. I don't think Chris Greding has gotten enough credit for the job he's done turning around the Tigers program in short order. Of course, an infusion of talent led by Domingo Jenkins helps, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Taunton knocks off one of the Hock's "Big Three" -- King Philip, Mansfield, North Attleborough -- at some point this season.

Perry: The favorite heading into the Hockomock League season is defending champions Mansfield and its new spread attack that takes advantage of its great weapons like senior quarterback Kyle Wisnieski and junior tight end Brendan Hill. Attleboro has gotten a lot of hype from media, me included, in the preseason as a sleeper in the Hock. A new coaching staff, a new field, and new schemes on both sides of the ball have made the Bombardiers a much more confident crew and better utilize the weapons that it has. The Bombardiers were only a few mental mistakes from beating Mansfield last season and Tim Walsh is on fire running the spread formation – watch out for Attleboro. Of course, watch out for KP, Franklin, and North Attleborough, too. It really is up for grabs

McGuirk: The Kelly-Rex Division is solid with four teams still unbeaten (Mansfield, Attleboro, North Attleboro and Taunton). When it is all said and done. I believe it will come down to Mansfield and North Attleborough for the title because of their high-octane offenses. Attleboro has to be considered the darkhorse here because of its stingy defense which could carry them through. It will be interesting to watch all four of these team beat up one another during the season and see who survives.

Recap: Attleboro 35, No. 24 Bishop Feehan 3

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
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ATTLEBORO, Mass. -- Perhaps the New England Patriots and the New York Jets should have taken a page from Attleboro High’s playbook – specifically the page that details passing.

Just ask No. 24 Bishop Feehan.

Attleboro senior quarterback Tim Walsh completed 11-of-14 passes for 220 yards and four touchdowns (he also ran for another), while junior wide receiver Brenden Massey caught five balls for 130 yards and four scores.

As a result, the Bombardiers presented first-year head coach Mike Strachan with his initial victory – a 35-3 romp over the Shamrocks in the season opener for both teams.

“We’ve had a couple of scrimmages and they’re both pretty special kids,” Strachan said of Walsh and Massey. “There’s enough to work on out there that we can improve on. But we’re pretty excited about that combination.”

That’s like saying Joe Montana was “pretty excited” about throwing to Jerry Rice.

“It was huge play-calling by the coaches and huge play up front,” said Walsh. “We had tons of time all night. It made it a lot easier for me.

“Receivers were running crisp routes and getting wide open. It made it made my job a lot easier.”

How wide is wide-open?: Perhaps the play that best underscored how wide-open Attleboro receivers were came on the Bombardiers’ last score.
Walsh dropped back and had enough time to devour a sandwich before launching a 30-yard touchdown pass to Massey who was all by himself as he crossed the goal line.

“We made some mistakes … there were too many penalties and too many missed assignments for us,” said Strachan. “But, overall, when you have a leader like Timmy … he’s a great quarterback and a great leader.

“But, again, we’re expecting some great things from those two.”

“Great things” didn’t start happening for Attleboro until early in the second quarter. That’s when the Bombardiers covered 69 yards in nine plays with Walsh tossing a 38-yard touchdown pass to Massey.

Then, after Feehan went three-and-out, Attleboro came right back, with Walsh connecting with Massey on a 49-yard scoring bomb that made the score 14-0 heading going into intermission.

Attleboro received a big lift when Stan Beaubrun returned the second-half kickoff 77 yards, which set up a six-yard touchdown pass from Walsh to Luke Morrison.

The Shamrocks again went three-and-out and Attleboro promptly upped its lead to 28-0 when Walsh dashed five yards off right tackle for a touchdown.

Feehan’s pressure non-existent: “I don’t even think we got stopped the whole second half,” said Walsh. “We were up 14-0 and got the ball (to start the second half). There was a huge return that continued the momentum and then we just put it in.”

Feehan averted a shutout when Brendan Mulligan kicked a 24-yard field goal 57 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Other than that, the closest Feehan came to scoring was late in the second quarter when Michael Gallagher led a ground game that enabled the Shamrocks to reach Attleboro’s 9. But Feehan was penalized for holding and, after a Matt Jesser pass fell incomplete, Attleboro blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt by Mulligan.

“We’ve been telling our kids to finish strong in everything we do,” said Strachan. “Again, we’re pretty happy for our first game.

“I think we go into a game trying to do certain things. I think Massey did a great job of stepping up tonight. He was put in a position where he could make plays, and he did. I hope that’s the case for us every week, that we different kids that can do that for us.”

ATTLEBORO 35, FEEHAN 3
ATT (1-0) 0-14-14-7 - 35
FEE (0-1) 0-0-0-3 - 3

Second quarter
A – Brenden Massey 38 pass from Tim Walsh (Mike Cannata kick)
A – Massey 49 pass from Walsh (Cannata kick)

Third quarter
A – Morrison 6 pass from Walsh (Cannata kick)
A – Walsh 6 run (Cannata kick)

Fourth quarter
B – Brendan Mulligan 24 field goal
A – Massey 30 pass from Walsh (Cannata kick)

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