Boston High School: Nick Schlatz



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Dennis-Yarmouth quarterback Matt Montalto strode on to the field at Gillette Stadium for his first series under center during Friday’s Shriners Eastern Mass. All-Star hoping to get the South squad’s offense churning.

During his career with the Dolphins, which he guided to a Division 2A Super Bowl championship in the fall, Montalto had a knack for the big play. So when he aired out a pass to BC High receiver Gordon McLeod on a skinny post over the middle during the second quarter, it’s no surprise it inspired awe.

Even if Montalto feels he had little to do with it.

“He [McLeod] was making me look good on that,” he said of the Eagles receivers’ diving catch on the play. “When I threw that ball, I thought I overthrew him and he came up huge. That was awesome.”

In short, Montalto made every moment count. His numbers weren’t gaudy, but were impressive considering his lack of reps. He completed two of five passes for 84 yards and touchdown and earned South’s Offensive MVP award.

Along with a stifling defense that combined for seven sacks on North quarterbacks, the South held on for a 15-12 win.

“I didn’t play the biggest role in that, the whole D-line did unbelievable job,” said North Attleborough’s Paul Norris, who earned the Defensive MVP nod with two sacks. “The whole rest of our team did great and played well. The defensive line just dominated that game. They controlled the line of scrimmage, they pushed them back. They made the QB step up in the pocket, which led to more sacks.

The North squad was led by ESPN Boston Mr. Football award winner and Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso, who paced his team to a 6-0 lead in the second quarter with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Burlington’s Kyle Shields.

However, DiBiaso likely required ice bags by the end of the evening, as he was on the receiving end of six of the South side’s seven sacks.

South tied the game less than minute after the North’s opening score. Montalto lofted a pass for Franklin’s Rhett Davis at the goal line. Davis hauled in the 40-yard score while falling backward into the end zone with 4:22 to play in the first half. A fake on the point-after try gave South a 2-point lead with Catholic Memorial quarterback A.J. Doyle finding Bridgewater-Raynham’s Nick Schlatz in the corner of the end zone.

The South struck again before the half, forcing the North three-and-out on the ensuing possession with a key third-down sack from Schlatz. A 5-play, 56-yard drive culminating in a 2-yard touchdown run by King Philip’s Charles Ruffin had the South to a 15-6 lead, with a successful PAT from Whitman-Hanson’s David Colclough.

North score on the opening drive of the second half on a 5-yard touchdown run by Concord-Carlisle’s George Craan (North Offensive MVP). The Boston College-bound running back pounded out 56 of the North’s 66 yards on the drive.

DOMINATING D
The defensive line of the South was effective throughout and downright unstoppable at times.

No finer example was during the North’s final possession of the game. The South tallied sacks on three consecutive plays – from Braintree’s Mykel Lane, Stoughton’s Brandon Alves and Walpole’s Craig Hanley -- to thwart any comeback plans of the North

“I was scared [coming in] hearing about the North tackles, I heard that they were 300 pounds and stuff like that, these big, huge guys,” Norris quipped. “I was just thinking, ‘God help me in this game. Just let me walk out of it with no injuries.’”

HANGIN’ WITH MR. COOPER
Perhaps no player was as happy to be back on the playing field Friday as BC High running back Preston Cooper.

Cooper’s final high school football memory prior to the Shriners game was being carted off the field during the Eagles’ 35-21 loss to Everett on Oct. 22, when he dislocated his ankle.

After watching from the sidelines as his Eagle teammates won the Division 1 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl at Gillette, Cooper made his return to the gridiron on Friday in the same spot.

“It felt great,” the Wareham native said. “It’s always nice to come back, especially when everybody doubts you, that’s the main thing. I had fun out there, my leg felt great.”

Cooper will attend Curry College next year where he hopes to regain the attention of some of the New England-based Division 1 college programs that had expressed interest earlier.

MHSFCA unveils 'Super 26' All-State Team

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
1:38
PM ET
The Massachusetts High School Football Coaches' Association unveiled its annual "Super 26" All-State Team today. Those honored will be presented this spring at Lantana's Restaurant, in Randolph.

Below are the selections. Italicized names indicate they were also a selection to ESPN Boston's MIAA All-State Team.

OFFENSE

Quarterback
Jonathan DiBiaso, Everett
Cam McLevedge, Weymouth
Matt Montalto, Dennis-Yarmouth

Receivers
Armani Reeves, Catholic Memorial
Don Webber, Duxbury

Offensive Line
Brendan Melanson, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Dan McCourt, Pembroke
Jameson McShea, BC High
Andrew VanderWilden, Concord-Carlisle
Chad Woodfine, Chicopee

Running Back
Sacoy Malone, Springfield Central
Quinton Perkins, Fitchburg
Melquawn Pickney, Springfield Putnam

DEFENSE

Defensive Line/Linebacker
Henry Bumpus, Concord-Carlisle
Nick DiChiara, BB&N
Tim Joy, Chelmsford
Vondell Langston, Everett
Max Randall, Duxbury
Zack Schafer, Mansfield
Nick Schlatz, Bridgewater-Raynham
Will Twyman, Lincoln-Sudbury
Camren Williams, Catholic Memorial

Secondary
Todd Collier, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Jack Connolly, St. Sebastian’s
Joe Epps, Bourne
Charles Ruffin, King Philip

Recap: No. 10 B-R 14, Brockton 8

November, 24, 2011
11/24/11
6:37
PM ET
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The Bridgewater-Raynham seniors came into their Thanksgiving Day showdown with Brockton knowing it would be the last high school game of their careers.

They then proceeded to help make sure it became that way for their counterparts, as well.

After dominating the first half then holding off a spirited Boxer rally in the second half, the Trojans won the second annual Cape Cod Cafe Bowl, 14-8.

Combined with New Bedford's win over Durfee, B-R's defeat of Brockton (5-6) denied the visitors a chance at playing in an Eastern Mass. Division 1 semifinal despite winning the Big Three Conference outright. Due to a league rule that prohibits a team from making the postseason with a sub-.500 overall record, it will be New Bedford that goes to the playoffs for the second year in a row.

"We knew they weren't going to lie down, that's for sure," said B-R coach Dan Buron of Brockton. "We treated it like a playoff atmosphere for us."

Leading the way for B-R (8-2) were senior running backs Nick Schlatz (26 carries, 136 yards, 2 TD) and Branden Morin (12 carries, 79 yards), who combined for 178 yards in the first half as the Trojans built up a 14-0 lead.

Perhaps just as importantly, those two touchdown drives ate up nearly 15 minutes on the clock, effectively keeping Brockton's offense off the field.

Brockton finally got on the board in the fourth quarter when Moise Edouard recovered a fumble near midfield to help set up a 22-yard touchdown pass from Austin Roberts (81 yards rushing, 89 yards passing) to Lucas Depina. After a poor snap on the PAT, Roberts alertly picked the ball up and found Jerrod Shelby for the two-point conversion to pull his team within 14-8.

Although Brockton was able to force a B-R punt, the Boxers could not earn a first down on their final possession as the Trojans ran out the clock.

All it takes is one: You know what you're going to get with B-R. The Trojans are going to run the ball, then they're going to run it again and after that, they will run it some more. It seems pretty simple but it's a lot harder to stop than it sounds. However, while Brockton couldn't slow down the ground assault in the first half, the Boxers made stops in the second half.

As B-R proved, though, all that running only sets up a great look out of play action. With B-R ahead 14-8 and just 4:14 remaining, the Trojans faced a third-and-6 from their own 31.

Quarterback Brad Delullis -- who had attempted and misfired on one pass all morning -- faked a handoff, rolled to his right and hit Eric Wabrek (fumble recovery, interception) for the 6-yard gain and first down. The play allowed the Trojans to run off an extra minute and was another example of why opponents hate to line up against this team. B-R lulls you to sleep sometimes but it can be a winning formula.

An irreplaceable pair: Buron spoke highly of his seniors after the game, and two in particular stood out on Thursday in Schlatz and Morin. Asked after the game by one reporter how he is going to replace them, he simply said, "You can't." Schlatz, at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, is simply a battering ram with enough speed to get to the outside on several toss plays, especially in the first half. Morin found his space in the middle of the Brockton defense, knifing ahead on traps and dives in the teeth of the Boxer front. Each player found himself in the middle of the action on defense, with Schlatz playing an active role at safety. Buron said the two made as good of a backfield pairing as he's had, which is high praise given the players who have passed through his system.

Mistakes doom Boxers: When the Boxers look back on this game, they will no doubt lament how several errors kept them from pulling off the comeback win. On the opening drive of the second half, the Boxers drove right down the field and seemed poised to score. Roberts then made a run down to the goal line that was called back due to a holding call that was vehemently protested by the Brockton sideline. After the Boxers then moved inside the 5, they fumbled soon after and Wabrek recovered to end the threat. On the Trojans' ensuing possession, Brockton had B-R stopped near the 20 but a late hit extended the drive another five minutes. Combine those mistakes with the fact that Brockton had its first drive stall in the B-R red zone, and there will be plenty of talk in Boxer-land about how this was a winnable game that got away.

BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM 14, BROCKTON 8

Brockton (5-6) 0 0 0 8 – 8
Bridgewater-Raynham (8-2) 7 7 0 0 – 14

FIRST QUARTER
BR – Nick Schlatz 2 run (Kevin Wadsworth kick)

SECOND QUARTER
BR – Schlatz 6 run (Wadsworth kick)

FOURTH QUARTER
B – Lucas Depina 22 pass from Austin Roberts (Jerrod Shelby pass from Roberts)

Mr. Football Watch: Week 10

November, 7, 2011
11/07/11
11:03
AM ET
HOW THE CONTENDERS FARED

Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett - Brought his career touchdown pass total to 93 in a 48-12 rout of Somerville. He completed 14 of 22 passes for 326 yards and five touchdowns.
Dan Flink, Sr. RB, Auburn - In the Rockets' 42-35 shootout win over rival Northbridge, carried 33 times for 245 yards and six touchdowns.
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica - In the Indians' 44-28 loss to Andover, LaSpada was 14 of 21 for 306 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw three costly interceptions.
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth - Was his usual dominant self in the Dolphins' 40-14 dismantling of New Bedford, rushing for 140 yards and passing for another 87, totaling three scores.
Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury - In the Dragons' 49-0 rout of Hanover, completed 21 of 28 passes for 251 yards and six touchdowns.
Armani Reeves, Sr. ATH, Catholic Memorial - Bookmarked the Knights' 26-0 shutout of Brockton with rushing touchdowns in the first and fourth quarters.
Nick Schlatz, Sr. RB/LB, Bridgewater-Raynham - Was off to a dominant start in the Trojans' 26-20 overtime loss to Barnstable, before leaving the game in the second quarter with a concussion. Up to that point, he had 122 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and an interception.
Brandon Walsh, Sr. QB, North Andover - In the Knights' 35-10 win over Peabody, had racked up 84 rushing yards and two touchdowns before leaving with an injury. His younger brother, Casey, took over and finished with a touchdown on the ground and through the air.
Michael Walsh, Sr. QB, Swampscott - Racked up 240 all-purpose yards and all three of the Big Blue's scores in their 21-13 win over CAL/NEC rival Beverly.

ON THE RISE

Andrew Coke, Sr. RB, Andover - Ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, in the Golden Warriors' 44-28 win over Billerica.
Jamison Craft, Sr. RB, Gardner - In the Wildcats' 41-7 rout of Groton-Dunstable, carried 22 times for 176 yards and two scores, and added two touchdown receptions.
Troy Flutie, Soph. QB, Natick - Threw for 163 yards and three touchdowns in the Red and Blue's 39-20 win over Wellesley.
Theo France, Sr. RB, Barnstable - Keying the Red Raiders' upset of Bridgewater-Raynham, carried the ball 17 times for 159 yards and a touchdown to keep the Trojans on their heels.
Geeavontie Griffith, Sr. RB, Boston Cathedral - In arguably the most are-you-kidding-me state line of the season, Griffith led the Panthers to a 44-20 win over Matignon with 10 carries for 377 yards and five touchdowns. That's an average of nearly 38 yards per carry.
Chucky Ortiz, Sr. RB, Woburn - Ran for four touchdowns in the Tanners' 39-14 win over Belmont.
John Parsons, Sr. RB, Wilmington - Accumulated 277 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, including a 75-yard kickoff return, in the Wildcats' 47-14 win over Watertown.
Jim Perkins, Sr. RB, Millis/Hopedale - Wrapped up the Tri-Valley Small title for the Mohawks with 280 rushing yards and two scores in a 48-6 rout of Bellingham.
Deontae Ramey-Doe, Sr. RB, BC High - Propelled the Eagles to a 16-6 win over Xaverian with 206 rushing yards and two scores. In his two starts in place of the injured Preston Cooper, he has ran for nearly 310 yards.
Geraldo Rivera, Sr. RB, Leominster - Ran for 113 yards and a score on 20 carries, and added a touchdown reception, in the Blue Devils' 27-14 win over Shrewsbury.
Charles Ruffin, Sr. RB, King Philip - In the Warriors' 41-7 win over Attleboro, carried 21 times for 252 yards and six touchdowns.

The View from No. 3 Bridgewater-Raynham

November, 3, 2011
11/03/11
10:05
PM ET
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. --Simply stated, No. 3 Bridgewater-Raynham is viewing Friday night's Old Colony League clash with Barnstable as a one-game playoff.

After beating the Red Raiders at home last year, the Trojans will travel to the Cape with Barnstable looking to repay the favor.

We caught up with the Trojans' captains after Thursday's practice:

OL/DL Eric DeMoura



QB Brad DeIuliis



RB/LB Branden Morin



RB/LB Nick Schlatz

Mr. Football Watch: Week 9

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
11:26
AM ET
HOW THE CONTENDERS FARED

George Craan, Sr. RB, Concord-Carlisle - The Patriots scored on their first three plays from scrimmage in a 38-21 defeat of Weston, taking a 22-0 lead after five minutes and going up 38-0 at the half. Once again, short night of work for Craan, who scored his 15th rushing touchdown of the season.
Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett - Threw for six touchdown passes in a 41-14 rout of Medford and broke the state all-time record (85) in the process, completing 9 of 12 passes for 209 yards. He now has 88 career touchdown passes, and will likely have five more games to eclipse the century mark.
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica - In the Indians' 40-30 barnburner over Lowell, was 15 of 28 passing for 233 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for 112 yards and another score.
Sacoy Malone, Sr. RB, Springfield Central - Ran for 144 yards and a score in the Golden Eagles' 41-12 win over Agawam.
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth - Accounted for three scores in the Dolphins' 28-0 shutout of Plymouth South, completing 9 of 15 passes for 146 yards and a score, and rushing for 81 yards and two more scores.
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow - Carried the ball 15 times for 140 yards and four scores in the Lancers' 42-7 rout of Westfield.
Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury - In the Green Dragons' 34-7 win over Silver Lake, the Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit was 16 of 25 passing for 210 yards and three touchdowns.
Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Putnam - In the Beavers' 48-0 shutout of Amherst, ran for 224 yards and four scores, as they outgained the Hurricanes 500-51 in yards of offense.
Armani Reeves, Sr. RB/WR, Catholic Memorial - In the Knights' 26-7 win over St. John's Prep, the Penn State commit amassed 238 all-purpose yards. He ran for 98 yards and a score on eight carries, returned a punt 72 yards to the house, and hauled in a 34-yard catch.
Nick Schlatz, Sr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham - Ran for 132 yards and a touchdown, part of 346 total yards on the ground by the Trojans, in a 30-6 win over Dartmouth.
Cody Titus, Sr. RB, St. Bernard's - Eclipsed the 300-yard mark for the second time this season, on 29 carries, in a 40-32 loss to Narragansett.
Brandon Walsh, Sr. QB, North Andover - Easy night for Walsh in the Knights' 34-6 win over Revere, completing all three of his pass attempts for 28 yards and running in two touchdowns.
Michael Walsh, Sr. QB, Swampscott - In the Big Blue's 47-14 thrashing of Danvers, was 12 of 20 passing for 245 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried 10 times for 68 yards and two more scores, and from his safety spot on defense recorded three tackles and an interception.

ON THE RISE

Chris Bettano, Sr. RB, Tewksbury - Carried 32 times for 158 yards and two scores, and ran in the winning two-point conversion in overtime, in a 26-24 thriller over Methuen.
Shane Blass, Sr. RB, Walpole - Racked up 207 yards rushing and two scores on just nine carries, in a 34-0 blanking of Newton North.
Ozzy Colarusso, Jr. WR, Weymouth - Hauled in three touchdown passes and ran in a fourth score, in a 47-7 win over Braintree.
Jamison Craft, Sr. RB, Gardner - Carried 19 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-0 shutout of Lunenburg.
Brian Dunlap, Fr. WR, Natick - We know Dunlap, who ranks second in the state in touchdown receptions (11), can catch. In the 49-24 win over Needham, he hauled in two catches for 51 yards, but he also carried 12 times for 69 yards and three scores to pace the REd and Blue.
Dan Flink, Sr. RB, Auburn - The bulldozer carried 14 times for 75 yards and five touchdowns -- all in the first half -- in the Rockets' 42-14 rout of Grafton.
Troy Flutie, Soph. QB, Natick - In the Red and Blue's 49-24 win over Needham, completed 11 of 14 passes for 181 yards and two scores; he also ran for 124 yards and two more scores on 23 carries.
Jake Frechette, Sr. RB, Holliston - The four-year starter became the Panthers' all-time leading rusher following Friday's 35-13 rout of Millis/Hopedale, carrying 19 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
Greg Heineman, Sr. QB, Minnechaug - In the Falcons' 35-12 win over Holyoke, he completed 17 of 22 passes (to eight different receivers) for 143 yards and three total touchdowns.
Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr. FB/DT, Xaverian - He's becoming a household name for his work on the defensive side of the ball. But it was his work carrying the ball in Saturday's 27-9 win over St. John's of Shrewsbury that had everyone talking, with 126 yards and two scores on nine carries -- including a 75-yard scamper.
Cam McLevedge, Sr. QB, Weymouth - Threw five touchdown passes in a 47-7 rout of Braintree, bringing his season total to a state-best 30.
Marcus Odiah, Jr. RB, Burlington - Carried 12 times for 196 yards and three touchdowns, in a 44-12 rout of Watertown.
Quron Wright, Jr. RB, Holy Name - The pint-sized scatback ran for a career-high 226 yards in a 33-14 win over Algonquin.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 8

October, 24, 2011
10/24/11
11:59
AM ET
HOW THE CONTENDERS FARED

Preston Cooper, Sr. RB, BC High - Had 15 carries for 168 yards on Everett before a serious ankle injury late in the third quarter. The midseason All-State selection is all but done for the season.
George Craan, Sr. RB, Concord-Carlisle - Ran for 244 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots' 35-12 win over Acton-Boxborough, their first victory over the Colonials since 1987.
Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett - In the win over BC High, he was 14 of 28 passing for 252 yards and a touchdown, and added two rushing scores. He's now three touchdown passes off the state all-time mark, and could break it this Friday against Medford.
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica - In the Indians' 28-20 double-overtime thriller over Haverhill, he accounted for both overtime scores. He finished with 167 yards passing and another 50 on the ground.
Sacoy Malone, Sr. RB, Springfield Central - Turned in a record-setting evening in the Golden Eagles' 49-7 rout of Northampton, rushing for 301 yards and seven scores on just 15 carries.
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth - Another game, another 200 yards of offense. This week, in a 42-0 blanking of Cranston West (R.I.), he threw for 143 yards and ran for another 102, totaling three scores.
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow - Carried 10 times for 170 yards and four touchdowns in a 47-0 romp of Agawam.
Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury - Threw for 87 yards on 3 of 4 attempts, and totaled three scores in a 40-7 win over North Quincy.
Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Putnam - After four straight weeks of going over the 250 mark, Pinkney settled for 95 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in the Beavers' 28-20 win over Chicopee.
Nick Schlatz, Sr. RB/LB, Bridgewater-Raynham - Carried 33 times for 158 yards and two scores in the Trojans' 28-22 double-overtime thriller over Xaverian.
Brandon Walsh, Sr. QB, North Andover - Thew for three touchdowns and added a fourth on the ground in a 42-6 win over Lynn Classical.

ON THE RISE

Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr. WR, Weymouth - With another touchdown catch in a 45-19 win over Norwood, the senior caught one in every game this season, for a Division 1-best 10.
Dan Barone, Sr. QB, Holliston - The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder was a workhorse in the Panthers' 20-0 shutout of Hopkinton, carrying the ball 28 times for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris Bettano, Sr. RB, Tewksbury - Carried 19 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the Redmen's 21-14 win over Lowell.
A.J. Doyle, Sr. QB, Catholic Memorial - Threw four touchdown passes in a 33-13 win over Malden Catholic.
Brian Dunlap, Fr. WR, Natick - In the Red and Blue's 21-12 win over Braintree, caught two first-quarter touchdown passes to give him a Bay State Conference and Division 2A best 11 on the season.
Greg Heineman, Sr. QB, Minnechaug - Was 26 of 37 passing for 343 yards in the Falcons' 21-14 win over Westfield.
Vondell Langston, Sr. RB/LB, Everett - It was his second straight week going over the century mark, rushing for 102 yards and two scores in the Tide's 35-21 win over BC High.
Trevor Leandro, Sr. QB, Dartmouth - In the Indians' surprise 56-28 blowout of New Bedford, was a perfect 5 for 5 passing for 146 yards and two scores, and tacked on another 146 yards on the ground for three scores on just 14 carries.
Obi Melifonwu, Sr. RB, Grafton - The UConn commit ran for 109 yards and three first-half touchdowns in a 37-19 win over Oxford.
Tim O'Brien, Sr. RB, East Bridgewater - Ran for 147 yards and two scores on just six carries, and added another touchdown through the air, in a 41-0 shutout of Norwell.
Kenny Pierce, Sr. RB, Beverly - Had his second game five-touchdown game of the season, this time on just nine carries for 256 yards, in a 47-0 blanking of Danvers.
C.J. Scarpa, Jr. QB, Andover - Threw for three touchdown passes in the Golden Warriors' 52-13 win over Methuen, giving him 16 on the year.

Recap: No. 5 B-R 28, No. 6 Xaverian 22 (2 OT)

October, 22, 2011
10/22/11
10:54
PM ET
WESTWOOD, Mass. -- After the game that Bridgewater-Raynham's Branden Morin had Saturday afternoon, it wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that he drove the Trojans bus home from Westwood, too.

The 5-10, 190-pound senior captain picked off two passes, one which he returned 45 yards for a touchdown, the other basically ensuring his team would get a shot at overtime. He also added 49 yards on seven carries and scored what would end up as the game-winning touchdown as No. 5 B-R survived yet another epic battle against No. 6 Xaverian with a 28-22 victory in double overtime.

This was the third straight meeting between the two powerhouse programs to require more than just 44 minutes to determine a winner. Two years ago, Xaverian won in the triple overtime; last year, B-R took it in the first OT.

Maybe next year they'll shoot for four.

"It's ridiculous," Morin said afterward with a smile. "We're always going to OT with them. It never gets easier."

Defenses controlled the first quarter, and it was Xaverian (4-3) who broke through first when Austin DeCarr connected with Mike Warren (4 receptions, 84 yards) for a 58-yard touchdown strike less than three minutes into the second.

The Trojans (5-1) came storming back, pounding the ball with 6-2, 200-pound wrecking ball Nick Schlatz (33 carries, 158 yards, two TDs) powering his way behind a determined offensive line. Schlatz carried nine times on a 14-play drive and finished it off with a four-yard TD with 2:18 left in the half.

Then Morin came through with the first of several clutch plays, stepping in front of a DeCarr pass and racing 45 yards to the end zone to put B-R ahead, 14-7.

Morin related how he saw the play develop, "The QB was dropping back, I saw him looking at the receiver and I just read it the whole way and took it to the house."

Undeterred, the Hawks put together a terrific drive, showing tremendous balance between the pass and the run on a 17-play possession that ended with a six-yard touchdown run on an option keeper by Chris Calvanese. Jules Murphy's extra point tied the game at 14-14.

Both Kevin Wadsworth and Morin each had crucial, fourth-quarter interceptions with the Hawks broaching B-R territory, while Xaverian's defense held firm as the Trojans gambled a couple of times simply to keep the Hawks explosive offense on the sidelines.

In the first overtime, Calvanese picked up nine yards on first down and Taute Hunter bulled his way in from the 1 for the Hawks. DeCarr hit Warren on the conversion pass and Xaverian held a 22-14 advantage.

B-R needed just one play to respond as Schlatz took a pitch and cut back through the middle for a 10-yard score, and Morin threw an option pass to Joe Noviello to send it to a second OT.

The Trojans went first, and two Schlatz runs set up a three-yard TD by Morin, but Xaverian's Aiden Desrosiers stuffed Schlatz in front of the goal line on a shovel pass for a failed conversion.

Those missed points ended up not not mattering, as Eric Wabrek picked off DeCarr on 3rd-and-goal from the 16 to lock up the win.

BLUE COLLAR WORKERS
Schlatz is the type of back you can picture grabbing his lunch pail and putting on his hard hat before each game. His longest carry went for 27 yards, but it was the steady dose of positive yardage he made that kept the Hawks on the defensive.

Facing Xaverian's big defensive line and linebackers, the Trojans offensive line of Joe MacInnis, Pat Whooley, Eric DeMoura, Brian Pope and Nick Falconeiri, along with tight end Ryan Murphy, showed they are group with heart and toughness in paving the way to a 254-yard ground attack. In addition to Schlatz and Morin, Wabrek also chipped in with 35 tough yards and good blocking.

"We worked all week long and said, we have to come off flat backs, low and hard technique will win the game," B-R coach Dan Buron explained. "They're big but we thought if we stayed lower than them, it would neutralize their size. We went with a little bit of an unbalanced and tried to pick places to run and were able to get some double teams. That number 11 (Maurice Hurst Jr.) in particular is a pretty good player. We tried to run away from him but sometimes that's worse because he's so quick."

ONE MAN DOWN, ANOTHER STEPS UP
Trojans quarterback Brad Deluliis left the game with a bad ankle after being tackled on a running play in the first quarter. What could have become a disastrous situation was tempered by the poise of backup quaterback David Miller, who stepped right in without allowing the offense to miss a beat.

"He threw a couple good passes," praised Buron. "He was a little nervous and the timing was off a little bit but I thought he did a great job leading the offense and he was very poised."

SEARCHING FOR AN IDENTITY
While B-R makes no bones about who it is and what it does, Xaverian appears to be still trying to find ways to fit the right pieces into the right spots, Chris Calvanese among others.

The senior had a terrific all-around performance, seeing time at quarterback, running back, receiver and also on defense. Calvanese completed 5-of-7 passes for 37 yards, caught two more for 43 yards, added 79 yards and a TD on six carries. Defensively, he was in on four tackles and had an interception.

"I think that we're still trying to get ourselves to be more consistent on both sides of the football," said Hawks coach Charlie Stevenson. "Clearly today was not a good game defensively for us against the run. We didn't sustain our offense the way we should have either."

He continued, "I think Chris Cal had a great game on both sides of the ball. In my opinion, he was the best athlete on the field on both sides of the ball. I wish we had more guys to go around him right now. We're looking for them and hopefully we will get more guys to put around him so that we can really highlight his athletic ability as we go down the stretch."

BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM 28, XAVERIAN 22 (2 OT)
BR (5-1) 0 14 0 0 8 6 - 28
Xaverian (4-3) 0 7 7 0 8 0 - 22


X - Mike Warren 58 pass from Austin DeCarr (Jules Murphy kick)
BR - Nick Schlatz 4 run (Kevin Wadsworth kick)
BR - Branden Morin 45 interception return (Wadsworth kick)
X - Chris Calvanese 6 run (Murphy kick)
X - Taute Hunter 1 run (Warren pass from DeCarr)
BR - Schlatz 10 run (Dan Noviello pass from Morin)
BR - Morin 3 run (rush failed)

Midseason football staff superlatives

October, 19, 2011
10/19/11
8:02
PM ET
Continuing with our mid-season theme today, ESPN Boston high school editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall check in with quick-hit thoughts on the area's best.

BRENDAN HALL
Coach of the Year: Paul Funk, Dennis-Yarmouth
Best offense: Everett
Best defense: Duxbury
Biggest surprise: Needham
MVC Large winner: Chelmsford
Hockomock Kelly-Rex winner: Mansfield
Hockomock Davenport winner: Stoughton
Catholic Conference winner: BC High
DCL Large winner: Westford
South Shore winner: Mashpee
ISL Bowl invites: Governor’s Academy, Belmont Hill
Best offensive player: Armani Reeves, Catholic Memorial
Best defensive player: Tie – Tim Joy, Chelmsford; Maurice Hurst Jr., Xaverian
Best small-school player: Casey DeAndrade, East Bridgewater
Second-half breakthrough to watch: Jonathan Thomas, Soph. RB, St. John’s Prep

Mr. Football Top 5:
1. Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett
2. Matt O’Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury
3. Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Putnam
4. Preston Cooper, Sr. RB, BC High
5. Armani Reeves, Sr. RB/WR, Catholic Memorial

SCOTT BARBOZA
Coach of the Year: Dave Duffy, Needham
Best offense: Everett
Best defense: Duxbury
Biggest surprise: Brockton
MVC Large winner: Chelmsford
Hockomock Kelly-Rex winner: Mansfield
Hockomock Davenport winner: Oliver Ames
Catholic Conference winner: BC High
DCL Large winner: Lincoln-Sudbury
South Shore winner: East Bridgewater
ISL Bowl invites: Governor’s Academy, Belmont Hill
Best offensive player: Melquawn Pinkney, Putnam
Best defensive player: Tim Joy, Chelmsford
Best small-school player: Malcolm Brown, Pope John XXIII
Second-half breakthrough to watch: Austin DeCarr, Xaverian

Mr. Football Top 5:
1. Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Putnam
2. Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury
3. Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett
4. Tim Joy, Sr. LB, Chelmsford
5. Nick Schlatz, Sr. RB/LB, Bridgewater-Raynham

Our midseason All-State team

October, 19, 2011
10/19/11
2:46
PM ET
HS Football Scott Barboza/ESPNBoston.com Bridgewater-Raynham's Nick Schlatz has earned a reputation for being a hard-nosed player on both sides of the ball, resulting in his selection as a linebacker on our midseason All-State team.


The 2011 season is halfway over, and we've had our fair share of ups, downs, thrillers and surprises. Here are the staff's picks for ESPNBoston's MIAA All-State team at the midway point of the season.

NOTE: The finalized ESPNBoston MIAA All-State Team roster and second annual ESPN Boston Mr. Football Award will be announced on Monday, December 5.

OFFENSE
QB – Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr., Everett
QB – Nick LaSpada, Sr., Billerica
QB – Matt O’Keefe, Sr., Duxbury
RB – Melquawn Pinkney, Sr., Springfield Putnam
RB – Preston Cooper, Sr., BC High
RB – George Craan, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
RB – T.J. Norris, Sr., Longmeadow
TE – Jameson McShea, Sr., BC High
TE – Mark Riley, Sr., Needham
WR – Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr., Weymouth
WR – Damion Johnson, Sr., Dennis-Yarmouth
WR – Don Webber, Sr., Duxbury
WR – Malcolm Brown, Sr., Pope John XXIII
OL – Andrew VanderWilden, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
OL – Keith Sullivan, Sr., Oliver Ames
OL – Gordon Acha, Sr., Duxbury
OL – Rob Kosharek, Jr., Duxbury
OL – John Montelus, Jr., Everett
ATH – Armani Reeves, Sr., Catholic Memorial
ATH – Sacoy Malone, Sr., Springfield Central
K – Jules Murphy, Sr., Xaverian

DEFENSE
DL – Ralph Jonathas, Sr., Everett
DL – Brendan Battles-Santos, Sr., Nauset
DL – Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr., Xaverian
DL – Henry Bumpus, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
LB – Tim Joy, Sr., Chelmsford
LB – Luke Catarius, Jr., BC High
LB – Vondell Langston, Sr., Everett
LB – Dan Flink, Sr., Auburn
LB – Nick Schlatz, Sr., Bridgewater-Raynham
LB – Zack Hume, Jr., Nashoba
DB – Gordon McLeod, Sr., BC High
DB – Reilly Naton, Sr., Duxbury
DB – Casey DeAndrade, Sr., East Bridgewater
DB – Obi Melifonwu, Sr., Grafton
RET – Geeavontie Griffith, Sr., Boston Cathedral

Recap: No. 8 B-R 27, La Salle (R.I.) 16

October, 15, 2011
10/15/11
7:44
PM ET


BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – No. 7 Bridgewater-Raynham has a lot to worry about in the coming weeks, with a Top 10 matchup against Xaverian next week and Old Colony League play set to start. So Trojans head coach Dan Buron was concerned that his team was looking past top-ranked Rhode Island squad La Salle Academy on Saturday afternoon.

The Trojans shook off their slow start, however, storming back with three scores in the second quarter while handing the Rams their first loss of the season, 27-16.

“I think that’s a good quality win for us because that’s a good, tough football team,” Buron said.

B-R (5-1) spotted La Salle (5-1) a 3-0 lead largely on field position in the first quarter with Peter Picerelli drilling a 41-yard field goal.

The Trojans began to assert their will in the ground game on the ensuing drive, capping off an 11-play 80-yard drive on quarterback Brad Deluliis’ 3-yard touchdown run with 6:15 remaining in the half.

The Rams took the lead back promptly with fullback Martin Bannerman rumbling 49-yards up the middle of the field on a gut trap for a touchdown.

Just 18 seconds later, the Trojans broke off a big play of their own with Nick Schlatz hitting the corner and striding 64 yards to the end zone.

“We played good in spurts, but you can’t do that against these guys,” La Salle head coach Geoff Marcone said. “If you play good in spurts, you’re going to lose the game. That’s what happened. They’re a good football team and we just didn’t give a good effort today.”

B-R struck again before the half was out. As time expired, kicker Kevin Wadsworth rolled left on bootleg off a fake field goal. The Rams had the trick play almost perfectly defended, but Wadsworth found Brendan Page with a 4-yard pass on the flick of a wrist for a 21-10 Trojan lead.

“We called that and then I was going to call a timeout if it wasn’t there, and I just said the heck with it,” Buron said. “The kid that caught the ball [Page] was supposed to be blocking, but thank god he did. He made a nice catch.

“He was like the third option on that play, not even, he wasn’t really an option, but it worked out.”

After a scoreless third quarter, La Salle made it a one-possession game on Josh Morris’ 5-yard touchdown run on an option left. After the two-point conversion failed, the B-R lead was down to five.

Then, the Trojans running game took over once again.

Branden Morin had five straight carries to finish off a 9-play drive that bled nearly four minutes off the clock and exhausted all of the Rams’ timeouts.

B-R junior Matt Petty astutely recovered the ensuing kickoff on a squib kick, putting the game out of reach.

POUND, POUND, POUND
The Trojans receiver another solid performance from senior captain Nick Schlatz who racked up 135 yards on 23 carries.

But even when Schlatz wasn’t able to go on the Trojans’ final drive, Morin proved a more than adequate replacement. Morin chipped in 11 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown, spelling Schlatz and creating a viable 1-2 punch.

“Nick Schlatz was a little dinged up [on the last drive] and Branden Morin stepped up,” Buron said. “[Fullback] Stevie Wentworth blocked well and Eric Wabrek does a great job of blocking, too.”

It was an encouraging sign ahead of the Trojans’ date with No. 5 Xaverian next week, which will pit B-R strength against a large, physical Hawks defensive line.

HOWDY NEIGHBOR
La Salle entered the game as our top-ranked Ocean State team at No. 7 in the ESPN Boston New England football poll.

At times, the Rams delivered on their top-billing, with Morris (16 car., 84 yards) showing flashes of the brilliance he’s shown against in-state opponents this year.

“He’s a big-play player,” Marcone said of Morris. He can grind it out, but he make big plays happen for you, too. I’m a little biased in this opinion, but he’s one of the best backs in our state. Hopefully, by the end of the year, he’ll be the best.”

For the most part, the Rams were effective in their ability to shoot the gaps against the Trojans’ traps and counter runs. Senior middle linebacker and de facto captain of the defense Marcanthony Reynoso also put on a tackling clinic.

But, in the end, it came down to consistency.

“Every time we seemed to get momentum, there was a penalty, or we fumbled the ball, or there was a bad snap,” Marcone said.

B-R (5-1) 0 21 0 6 -- 27
La Salle (5-1) 3 7 0 6 -- 16

1st quarter
LS – Peter Picerelli 41-yard field goal

2nd quarter
B-R – Brad Deluliis 3-yard run (Kevin Wadsworth kick)
LS – Martin Bannerman 49-yard run (Picerelli kick)
B-R – Nick Schlatz 64-yard run (Wadsworth kick)
B-R – Wadsworth 4-yard pass to Brendan Page (Wadsworth kick)

4th quarter
LS – Josh Morris 5-yard touchdown run (Pass failed)
B-R – Branden Morin 4-yard run (Kick blocked)

What We Learned: Week 3

September, 27, 2011
9/27/11
10:14
AM ET
THE MYTH OF KENNY
By day, he's just an unassuming high school student. Come Friday night, he's a legend.

Beverly running back Kenny Pierce inspired some tall tales while racking up five touchdowns in the Panthers' come-from-behind 36-35 win over Lynn English. The hashtag #KennyPierce had Twitter abuzz on Friday night.

"I wanted to get it trending," tech savvy athletic director James Coffey said Monday at the high school.

While the myth of Pierce's performance, which was highlighted by an 81-yard touchdown return for a score, continues to grow, all the mild-mannered running back was concerned with was next week's game against Winthrop. For the returning Division 3 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl champions, it's just another test in getting back to where they want to be.

"We had everybody rooting against us last year," said Pierce of the Panthers who entered postseason play at 5-6 last season, "that just motivated us more. We just want to get back there."

SO FAR, SO CLOSE, SO UNDERRATED

Melquawn Pinkney’s performance for Putnam Friday night is the stuff of instant legend: 17 carries, 421 yards, six touchdowns.

The undersized speedster was the catalyst Friday for a Putnam squad that is quickly erasing that “underrated” moniker, coming four yards short of the state record in his eye-popping performance (Lynn English’s Brandon Guy went for 425 in a 2001 win over Swampscott).

The Beavers debut at No. 20 this week in our statewide MIAA poll, and it’s a recognition well-deserved. Some wonder if these guys are on par with Longmeadow – we’ll have to give it a few more weeks before we jump to that conclusion.

But back to Pinkney – just how underrated are these guys?

“Springfield as a whole is underrated. I guess they don’t think our players are as good or as talented, but we’ve got some good players coming out of here.”

He continued, “I went to a lot of showcases over the summer time, and I hung with the best of them.”

SHOCKING THE HOCK

Two of the state’s strongest two-tier conferences already find themselves full of twists and turns after a weekend full of surprises.

Stoughton provided the upset of the weekend when the Black Knights faced a Mansfield squad that had been averaging 33.5 points per game and promptly shut them out, 8-0. The Knights held a slim 3-0 lead headed into the fourth quarter, then tacked on a safety and last-minute field goal to preserve the shutout.

Did we see this coming? No. Were were totally shocked? As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in between. Take note of the youth on the squad, and pay attention to the secondary featuring juniors Marcus Middleton and Aaron Calixte. The latter is already known on the hardwood, ranked as one of the top junior point guards in New England; but on a whole, this is a unit that sticks out on film for its athleticism.

With King Philip off to a dominating start on defense (4.6 points per game allowed) and North Attleborough being its usual self; combined with promise from Foxborough and Oliver Ames; and the wild card that is Attleboro; this is far from the last upset. Fasten your seat belts.


NEW-LOOK TROJANS
If you weren't paying attention, you might not have recognized the Bridgewater-Raynahm offense in the Trojans' 28-15 win over Marshfield on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeDuxbury
Jim Tarbox Reilly Naton leads a No. 2 Duxbury's defense, which Bridgewater-Raynham head coach Dan Buron calls the best he's ever seen.
After struggling to move the ball on the ground during their first offensive series, Trojans head coach Dan Buron made the decision to flex out hard-nosed running back Nick Schlatz out wide. Without Schlatz to key on the in backfield, B-R diversified it's approach, putting the ball in fellow running back Branden Morin's hands as well as letting quarterback Brad Deluliis make plays with his feet.

The spread look, which included four-receiver sets and some trips alignments, is a far cry from the meat and potatoes I-form rushing attack common at B-R.

“We’ve been doing it a little the last couple of years … with [Brad] Deluliis, Mike Connolly and even Billy Zolga last year, we spread it out and threw a little bit more,” Buron said. “But now what we’ve done is split Nick Schlatz out there and then we have Arcel Armstead, who’s a pretty good running back, too, on the other side, so people have to worry about them because they’re good receivers, too.”

Subtle adjustments like those have gotten the Trojan offense back on track after having a shutout thrown at them by Duxbury on opening night.

Though Buron was not without some weighty praise for the No. 2 Dragons and their swarming defense.

"That's the best defense I've ever seen," Buron said. "We were just trying to get out of there alive."

AUBURN’S O-LINE AMONG STATE’S BEST

With true Belichickian aesthetic, Auburn head coach Jeff Cormier tends to err on the side of caution when giving out praise. Compliments aren’t exactly handed out like candy on Auburn Street – and honestly, when you’ve won a state-best 40 straight games, why change?

When pressed about making it 40 straight following Friday’s 35-6 domination of St. Peter-Marian, “We’re 3-0” was the repeated theme amongst coaches and players alike. But holding back on praise for the big guys in the trenches continues to be an upwardly difficult journey.

Tell you what, we’re not afraid to say it anymore.

Auburn –- yes, Auburn, the birthplace of the modern rocket, tucked away neatly beneath the I-290 loop -– boasts one of the best offensive lines in the state. Doesn’t matter if they’re in Central Mass Division 3, or one of the power conferences in Eastern Mass. As a unit, they’re already one of the biggest around, averaging 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds across. But what separates them from some of the state’s other beefy lines is their surgery.

There’s a significant difference between outweighing your opponent at the point of attack and overpowering them, and the Rockets certainly fall into the latter. Line coach Dana Giampa deploys an aggressive zone-blocking scheme (think Shanahan-era Broncos) that his players ran to near perfection on Friday night. Star SPM defensive end Jordan Knowles found himself out of the play most of the night, after factoring significantly in the Guardians’ first two wins over Shepherd Hill and Fitchburg.

The unit of tackles Steve Domenick and Will Greelish; guards Matt Ramirez and Aaron Dyke; and center Jordan Giampa, paved the way for 462 rushing yards by the varsity, including 191 from Dan Flink.

"I think our offensive line is starting to come along, and I give a lot of credit to Dana Giampa for that, really working with those kids.” Cormier conceded after the game. “They trust in what he's teaching."

Said running back Fred Taylor, "Our line stepped up big. Everybody basically had their A-game."

Time to start taking these guys seriously.

And by the way, what’s scarier, the rushing totals reminiscent of 90’s Nebraska, or the fact that the line is entirely comprised of juniors and sophomores?

Recap: No. 13 B-R 28, Marshfield 15

September, 24, 2011
9/24/11
8:16
PM ET
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – If what usually works isn’t working, try something different.

It’s not as though Dan Buron all of sudden will transform Bridgewater-Raynham’s offense into a high-flying spread attack. However, the Trojans’ 28-15 win over Marshfield on Saturday afternoon was proof positive that B-R can mix things up. Instead of the Trojans’ meat and potatoes rushing attack running up the gut, Buron spread the Rams thin, rolling out a series of three and four wide-out formations.

After a shaky start, No. 13 B-R (2-1) turned in perhaps its best overall performance of the young season.

“After the first series, I think we settled down,” Buron said. “I think we played better on both sides of the ball. The kids settled down.”

The Rams (1-2) embarked on a 14-play drive off of the opening kickoff and scored 7:45 later on Mark Pomella’s 31-yard pass to Bryan Mey. The 6-0 advantage was the last lead Marshfield held, as the Trojans would go on to score on three straight possessions from the first into the second quarter.

“That’s how we play football,” Trojans running back and linebacker Nick Schlatz said. “B-R football’s all about the driving the ball down the field, finishing drives and then getting the ball back and doing the same exact thing over again.”

Eric Wabrek put B-R ahead with two touchdown carries on back-to-back drives with runs of three and six yards.

Branden Morin added a 2-yard touchdown run for a 21-6 lead before Marshfield’s Brendan Doherty hit a 38-yard field goal to make it 21-9 at the half.

Schlatz again made it a three-possession game with a 2-yard run with 32 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

However, it was the senior captain’s contributions as a decoy that proved key to B-R success. After the Trojans had trouble establishing the running game on their first possession of the game, Buron started flexing Schlatz out to wide receiver, drawing the attention of the Rams’ defense. Oftentimes with a double-team devoted to Schlatz on the wing, B-R found greater success on the ground with Morin and quarterback Brad Deluliis running the ball.

“We’ve been doing it a little the last couple of years … with [Brad] Deluliis, Mike Connolly and even Billy Zolga last year, we spread it out and threw a little bit more,” Buron said. “But now what we’ve done is split Nick Schlatz out there and then we have Arcel Armstead, who’s a pretty good running back, too, on the other side, so people have to worry about them because they’re good receivers, too.”

Not exactly by the book in B-R’s terms, but it certainly was effective.

BETTER EACH WEEK
Not only did Buron mix things up, he also felt his team has improved with each passing week, commenting that last week was the Trojans’ best week of practice. That was evident in the play of B-R’s young offensive line, which took its lumps in a Week 1 loss to No. 2 Duxbury, but was a strength on the whole on Saturday.

“Each week, we’re getting a little bit better,” Buron said, “with a young offensive line, I think we got shell-shocked [in the Duxbury game].”

About Saturday’s performance, Buron added, “That group hung in there, we were lucky to survive that first game, but they’ve gotten better.”

ON THE MOVE
After moving Schlatz out of the backfield, Marshfield wasn’t able to key on the bruising back running up the middle. It also freed quarterback Deluliis to air out the ball some, while also allowing him to find some running room.

“They were loading up,” Buron said. “They took away what we do best, or what we think we can do best.”

It also enable Deluliis to show off his athleticism. Not to mention, it got him into the flow of the game.

“He seems to play better when he’s more involved in the offense, instead of just handing off,” Buron said of his senior signal-caller. “Now, he’s more involved and working up a sweat, if you will, he just seems to respond to that.”

IMPACT PLAYER
Buron praised the work of Wabrek, the senior running back and inside linebacker.

Not only did Wabrek score B-R’s first two touchdowns with some hard-nosed, goal-line running, he set up the Trojans’ first scoring drive with a heady interception, slipping underneath an out pattern.

“He was injured some of last season and he’s not one of our captains, but Eric’s a smart player and brings us some leadership,” Buron said. “He was one of our game captains for today and he showed the type of player that he is.”

Recap: No. 2 Duxbury 26, No. 8 B-R 0

September, 10, 2011
9/10/11
1:08
AM ET


DUXBURY, Mass. -- It's been a slow start for the much ballyhooed offense of No. 2 Duxbury.

The high powered spread attack was stunted at times during the preseason -- most notably in the Dragons' scrimmage against Catholic Memorial. Likewise, Duxbury took nearly two quarters to get going on offense in the season-opener against No. 8 Bridgewater-Raynham on Friday.

But after a convincing 26-0 win over the Trojans, it looked like the Dragons rediscovered the form that lifted them to a Division 2A Super Bowl title last year.

"We've been working hard all summer," Duxbury quarterback Matt O'Keefe said, "with the guys running routes at 6 a.m. with Don [Webber], [Joe] Guilfoile, [Andrew] Buron, [Reilly] Naton, even [James Burke], who's known more as a defensive player. We've spent a lot of time trying to perfect it."

While the Dragons (1-0) were able to shake off signs of the early rust, Duxbury found its consistency in the red zone, punching in touchdowns on three of four trips inside the Trojans' 20, following O'Keefe's touchdown pass to Guilfoile with 6:46 remaining in the first half.

"Our offense really hasn't clicked," Dragons head coach Dave Maimaron said, "but today was the first day that they played up to their ability, I think."

In addition to Duxbury's regained offensive polish, the Dragons were effective in shutting down B-R's running game, holding Trojans running back Nick Schlatz under 50 yards on the ground. Duxbury won the battle of the trenches with its swarming defense, flying to ball carriers in addition to sacks from defensive linemen Seamus Connelly, Mike Klein and Mark Trudeau.

"We knew they were going to try to run the ball and control the clock against us and try to keep it away from our offense," Maimaron said. "We just had to stop them on third downs and get off the field and get the ball back to the [offense]."

O'Keefe and the offense took care of matters from there. The senior quarterback completed 71 percent of his passes (15 of 21) while throwing for two touchdowns and 110 yards.

Junior running back Jon Hurvitz had the Dragons to a 12-0 lead before the half with a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:23 to play in the second.

After the defenses traded interceptions -- with B-R's Schlatz nabbing an O'Keefe pass and Duxbury linebacker Max Randall returning the favor with a theft of Brad Delulis -- O'Keefe threw for his second score of the game, finding Andrew Buron in the end zone from eight yards out.

Dragons sophomore running back Khai Perry showed a glimpse of his potential with a 20-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.

"[O'Keefe] has so much confidence in his arm strength now that he only needs a small window and he can fit the ball in there," Maimaron said. "We had some good route running down there as well. The slant was a great catch by Andrew Buron, the throw was a little bit behind him and he made a great catch."

Proof that there's still room for improvement in an otherwise stellar start to the season.

"We're not there yet," O'Keefe said of the offense. "We're still working on it. There's a long way to go. We're onto Plymouth North week now."

B-R (0-1) 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Duxbury (1-0) 0 12 7 7 -- 26

2nd quarter

Duxbury - Joe Guilfoile 6-yard pass from Matt O'Keefe (kick failed)
Duxbury - Jon Hurvitz 3-yard run (pass intercepted)

3rd quarter
Duxbury - Andrew Buron 8-yard pass from Matt O'Keefe (Tucker Hannon kick)

4th quarter
Duxbury - Khai Perry 20-yard run (Tucker Hannon kick)

Mr. Football Watch: Week 1

September, 6, 2011
9/06/11
5:41
PM ET
Last year, Everett wide receiver Matt Costello was the inaugural recipient of the ESPNBoston Mr. Football Award, annually given to the top high school football player in Massachusetts.

It was a unanimous decision for the Princeton freshman, who also took home the state's Gatorade Player of the Year honors. But with the wealth of quality quarterbacks and running backs this season, this year's field appears to be much more wide open.

Check back with us each Monday leading up to the announcement on December 5, as we track the players in the running across the state. Below is our initial list of 15 players to watch for the award:

(Note: The award is not eligible to players in their fifth year of high school)

PRESTON COOPER, Sr. RB, BC High
The ESPN Boston preseason All-State selection will be looking to lead the Eagles back to the top of the Catholic Conference. Cooper ran for more than 1,500 yards last season.

GEORGE CRAAN, Sr. RB, Concord-Carlisle
The Dual Country League Small 2010 Player of the Year is coming off a 1,914-yard rushing performance. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound back also led Division 2A with 24 touchdowns and will be a major factor in the Patriots’ quest for another Super Bowl appearance this year.

CASEY DeANDRADE, Sr. ATH, East Bridgewater
DeAndrade is a true triple threat for the Vikings at running back, defensive back and kick returner. He racked up over 1,000 offensive yards with 750 rushing yards. DeAndrade scored 23 total touchdowns last season with four defensive touchdowns on his nine interceptions. For his career, DeAndrade has accumulated over 2,000 yards of offense with 14 interceptions.

JONATHAN DiBIASO, Sr. QB, Everett
The coach’s son had a junior year for the ages, throwing for a state-record 43 touchdown passes to just four interceptions and accumulating 2,885 yards. What’s next? With 59 career scoring strikes, another monster season could put him atop the all-time record books (Brockton’s Tom Colombo holds the record at 85).

TIM JOY, Sr. LB, Chelmsford
The Boston College-bound, two-time Merrimack Valley Conference All-Star made a name for himself as one of the state’s best defensive players, racking up 131 tackles from his middle linebacker position, including 13 for losses and adding three interceptions.

NICK LaSPADA, Sr. QB/S, Billerica
In his swan song at Billerica, where he’s assured every school record when all is said and done, LaSpada is looking to lead the Indians back to the playoffs after a 5-6 campaign. The 2009 Mass. Gatorade Player of the Year has over 9,300 yards of offense for his career; last season, he totaled 3,802 yards and 40 scores.

SACOY MALONE, Sr. RB, Springfield Central
The Golden Eagles didn’t have quite enough to knock off perennial power Longmeadow in Western Mass. last season, but Malone was a big reason for the Golden Eagles’ Super Bowl berth. Malone has average over six yards per carry for his career and posted a 1,200-yard rushing performance with 16 touchdowns.

MATT MONTALTO, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth
In the Dolphins’ historic 2010 campaign, Montalto threw for over 1,300 yards and 22 touchdowns to just four interceptions, while adding 1,123 yards and 15 more scores on the ground. He could be in for an even bigger campaign this fall.

PAUL MROZ, Sr. QB, Brockton
After a junior season that hinted at promise, the 6-foot-1 senior could be in for a big 2011. A season ago, he threw for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns; on the ground, he ran for another eight scores and averaged nearly seven yards per carry.

T.J. NORRIS, Sr. RB, Longmeadow
As the Lancers gun for their 11th Super Bowl title in the last 15 seasons, Norris will again be the feature back in coach Alex Rotsko’s Wing-T offense. Norris eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing plateau despite missing the final two games of the season while racking up 1,148 yards and 14 touchdowns.

ARMANI REEVES, Sr. ATH, Catholic Memorial
The Knights plan on using the Penn-State bound scatback and his 4.4 speed in every conceivable fashion in their quest for the Catholic Conference title. He racked up over 1,250 all-purpose yards and scored 16 touchdowns in four different ways – rushing, receiving and returning both punts and kicks.

NICK SCHLATZ, Sr. RB/LB, Bridgewater-Raynham
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound was an Old Colony League All-Star in both football and track and field and is about as good a two-way player as you’ll find in the state. Schlatz ran for 1,300 yards last season with 18 touchdowns and was a key cog to the Trojans’ defense that led the team to its second straight Eastern Mass Division 1A Super Bowl appearance.

KARL SERY, Sr. RB/CB, Hudson
After leading a rapid turnaround a year ago, the Bryant-bound Sery has the Hawks in Super Bowl conversation again. Last year he ran for 1,430 yards and 18 touchdowns, and added 32 tackles and three interceptions on the defensive side of the ball.

BRANDON WALSH, Sr. QB, North Andover
Walsh’s remarkable interception-free streak came to an end at the most inopportune times, but that shouldn’t tarnish a spectacular junior season. He threw for 1,525 yards and 23 touchdowns while adding another 695 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground while leading the Knights to a Division 2A playoff appearance.

MIKE WALSH, Sr. QB/S, Swampscott
After playing most of last season just on the offensive side of the ball, Walsh, who’s commited to playing safety at Brown, will hold down duties on both sides of the ball this year. The Northeast Conference’s 2010 Offensive MVP combined to put up over 3,000 yards of offense last year.

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