Boston High School: Nick Lussier

Recap: No. 18 King Philip 19, No. 25 North 7

October, 15, 2011
WRENTHAM, Mass. -- Backed up against its own goal line following a botched punt return and facing a fourth-and goal situation, King Philip linebacker Nick Lussier burst through the center of the line and grabbed onto North Attleboro quarterback Spyro Varetimos for all he was worth.

He managed to hold the QB long enough to allow the wall of defenders to build up behind him, resulting in a huge stop that turned what could have been a potential disaster into the spark that changed the course of the game.

Lussier and fellow linebacker Brett McEvoy each finished with eight tackles to lead the 'D' while Charles Ruffin rushed for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 23 carries as the Warriors picked up a much-needed 19-7 victory over Hockomock League Kelley-Rex Division foe North Attleboro Saturday afternoon at Macktaz Field.

"That was huge," KP head coach Brian Lee of said the goal-line stand. "Everything kind of went wrong for us in the first half and we were still able to be up 7 so I was very happy. Special teams kind of put us in a hole and I'm the special teams coach so I have nobody to blame but myself. The defense really just bailed us out there."

The No. 18 Warriors, who improved to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the league, thought they had the No. 25 Red Rocketeers (5-1, 1-1) stopped cold just beyond midfield. KP forced NA to punt, but the ball tailed toward the sideline and bounced several times, making it difficult to field. Reid Holden recovered for the Rocketeers at the KP 7, and they pushed it close to the goal line with a pair of runs and a short pass before Lussier came up with the big stop.

"We were all saying on the defense that we don't pick the situations when we go out there," explained Lussier. "We banded together, the whole unit. We don't have one standout player, we're a unit together. And we believed in each other and we just said, 'You know what? We didn't ask for this but we've got to make the best of it' and we did. We stopped them."

That set the tone for the Warrior defense, who held North to just 20 rushing yards, and 133 yards of total offense. KP allowed nine first downs in the game, five of which came on the Rocketeers final drive against a prevent defense while trailing, 19-0.

"We weren't able to run the ball and control the clock on offense. That's what we were able to do in all our other games," NA head coach Don Johnson said. "I think after we look at the film we're probably going to walk away and say KP's defense was pretty good. I'm sure we made our share of mistakes out there but I think they made us make those mistakes."

KP's star running back Charles Ruffin can't seem to catch a break when it comes to his right ankle. He originally injured it two weeks ago in a 27-26 loss to Mansfield and sat out last week's 28-13 win over Oliver Ames.

The talented senior rushed for 84 yards and a 2-yard TD in the first half, but had to leave the game for a brief spell after getting the ankle twisted on a draw play right before the break.

"Its just gonna be a labor here," said Lee on Ruffin's injury. "He's really dinged up and doing what he's supposed to do. We needed him today and he came back and played. And he knows he maybe shouldn't be playing but he's sucking it up and knows he wants to be a part of this. It killed him to not be playing last week so he wanted to get in there."

Ruffin sat out the Warriors first series of the second half, but returned in style with a 13-yard TD on a sweep around the right side and was able to grit his teeth enough to stay in the backfield and help KP eat up valuable clock time.

"Our coaches, what they have us do, they have us remember a definition called 'Accountability.' You have to have the quality state of mind to be an accountant for your team," Ruffin explained. "That's what I'm trying to through adversity for my team. I know it hurts but I gotta suck it up and have that mental toughness to go back in the game."

It's easy to get lost in the large shadow cast by the talented Ruffin, but the maturation and development of KP sophomore quarterback John Dillon is going to give opponents something to think about when they try to load up the box to attack the run.

Listed at 6-feet, 156 pounds, Dillon is displaying a knack for coming through with a big play when the Warriors need one. His final numbers are nothing a quick glance at the box score will get you excited about (4-for-6, 87 yards) but it was about when the completions came and what they led to that made a big difference.

In the second quarter of a scoreless game, after four straight Ruffin carries moved KP from its own 40 to the NA 32, Dillon fooled everyone by firing a quick pass over the middle to Sam McDonald, who was wide open behind the Rocketeer linebackers. The play went for 30 yards, and Ruffin went in from the two for the game's first score.

On a third-and-10 in the third quarter, Dillon executed a perfect play-action fake and connected again with McDonald for 30 yards to set his team up at the NA 30. The Warriors ultimately missed a 34-yard field goal attempt, but Dillon once again came up with a big play to keep a potential scoring drive alive.

Then in the fourth on second-and-8 at the Rocketeers 40, Dillon drilled a 22-yard pass to wideout Mike Viola. Two plays later, Ryan Dunn bulled through the middle for a 14-yard touchdown run that gave the Warriors a 19-0 lead with 8:02 remaining.

"He's a young kid back there but whenever we call on him to make plays, he's been able to do it in a tough league," Lee said in praise of Dillon. "He's playing smart and doing what we ask. Not trying to win everything but just trying to make a play when he can. He's very bright and he's played in two big games now and he's really done a great job in both of them for us."

NA (5-1) 0 0 0 7 - 7
KP (5-1) 0 7 6 6 - 19

KP - Charles Ruffin 2 run (Ryan Dunn kick)
KP - Ruffin 13 run (kick blocked)
KP - Dunn 14 run (rush failed)
NA - Wesley Nichols 1 run (Spyro Varetimos kick)

The View from No. 18 King Philip

October, 13, 2011
WRENTHAM, Mass. -- We swung by King Philip High this afternoon, where the No. 18 Warriors were getting prepared for tomorrow night's big Hockomock Kelly-Rex showdown with No. 25 North Attleborough. Head coach Brian Lee and seniors Nick Lussier, Charles Ruffin and Jason Litchfield spoke on the Warriors' 4-1 start, and what it's like playing in "The Hock".

Head coach Brian Lee:

Linebacker Nick Lussier:

Running back Charles Ruffin:

Offensive guard/nose guard Jason Litchfield:

Ruffin's center stage for No. 23 King Philip

August, 24, 2011
WRENTHAM, Mass. -- All eyes will be on Charles Ruffin this fall.

The King Philip running back has been an integral part of the 23rd-ranked Warriors offense for the last couple seasons, but this year is going to be different. Ruffin is one of two starters (along with Nick Lussier) coach Brian Lee has returning from last year's squad. So this season, more than ever, the Warriors will turn to Ruffin not only offensively, but defensively and as a leader.

"I just have to take on a heavier role," the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder said. "I have to be ready, twenty-four seven. We have a couple other kids who can perform at the position, too. But we're going to need a lot of young kids to step up this year."

Last season, Ruffin was part of a deep backfield in which he shared carries alongside the talented Chris Cacciola and Jimmy Johnston. Now, the multi-talented athlete is taking a new emphasis into this season.

"I want to play as hard on defense as I do on offense," said Ruffin, who's looking to improve on his eight-touchdown performance last season. "That's my main goal. I just want to do whatever I can to help this team out."

Ruffin also stars on the Warriors lacrosse team. He hadn't even played the sport until he picked up a stick at a friend's suggestion in high school. He was a natural from the start. Ruffin's athleticism is an asset on the lacrosse field as it is on the football field. It also helps that Ruffin was the MIAA Division 2 Meet 300-meter champion last year, posting a time (35.21 seconds) that was nearly five-tenths of a second faster than last year's Division 1 champion (Isaiah Penn of Newton North). Ruffin also finished second in the event at New Englands.

Ruffin's taken seriously the preparation for his senior season. Despite undergoing orthroscopic knee surgery to clean out cartilage and tissue two months ago, Ruffin was back with his teammates at KP's "Gut Camp", which has players in the gym at 6 a.m. Mondays through Thursday during the summer months.

It's all part of Ruffin's duty to take on a greater leadership role this season, something he learned from one of his former backfield mates.

"He was a tough kid," Ruffin said of Cacciola, "and he set an example on and off the field."

Part of that process is making sure younger players are doing what's required to contribute. Given the exodus of talent from a senior-laden team last season, the Warriors are looking for a great number of young players to make that leap this year.

"We just have to get better every day, every game," said Ruffin, who lists BC as his top college choice. Assumption has been the most active recruiting him. "There's a lot of talent on the team and we're going to play a lot of kids to keep everybody fresh."

2010: 8-2 (7-2 Hockomock)
Coach: Brian Lee (Seventh year, 33-32)
Players to watch: Charles Ruffin, Sr. RB/OLB, 5-10, 190; Nick Lussier, Sr. LB 5-10, 170; Jason Litchfield, Sr. OL/DL, 5-10, 190.
Strengths: Team speed, swarming defense.
Weaknesses: Game experience.
Outlook: Wanna' talk defense? The Warriors will bring it. Last season, under defensive coordinator Matt Wassel, KP allowed just over nine points per game. That success was in no small part a credit to Wassel's creative defensive schemes, which famously features a "psycho" package that confuses quarterbacks with defensive linemen not settling into their stances. "We have a great defensive coordinator and our game plans change a lot week to week," said Ruffin, who added he'll be utilized as a third-down sub rusher. "We'll have guys coming at you all over the place blitzing. I feel that every team thinks they need to play their best game against us." The question will likely come down to how many points the Warriors can score, as they're holding an open audition at quarterback with Jake Cox lost to graduation. And all of this is set against the backdrop of the ever-competitive Hock. "It's a dog fight against every team," Ruffin said of league play. "Even a team like Sharon last year, they weren't the strongest team in the league, but they gave us our biggest challenge last year. They took us right down to the wire. It's one game and you're out. One loss and that can be your season."