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?