Boston High School: Old Colony League

Recap: No. 16 B-R 49, Barnstable 20

October, 17, 2014
10/17/14
11:39
PM ET
BARNSTABLE, Mass. -- The 16th-ranked Bridgewater-Raynham Trojans were put to the test, as they knew they would be against Old Colony League rival Barnstable, but the Red Raiders best was not nearly enough on Friday night.

The Trojans (4-3, 2-0) pounced in the second half behind a three touchdown performance from sophomore running back Shawn Noel and rolled to a 49-20 victory, claiming the Old Colony title and punching a ticket to the postseason in the process.

“We talked about how tonight was a night about firsts,” said B-R coach Dan Buron. “First was that we had play four quarters. We hadn’t done that all year.

“The next first was for these seniors, they had not beaten Barnstable and we had not won an Old Colony championship since they have come into the school. There were a lot of things at stake tonight.”

“This night I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said senior captain Will Fuller, who finished with a sack and a half and was instrumental in halting Barnstable’s run game up the middle. “Today, I knew I had to bring it. I gave it all I’ve got and we came out on top.”

It didn’t take long for Bridgewater-Raynham to get on the board after forcing Barnstable (0-6, 0-1) to punt after a three-and-out on the opening drive.

On the second play from scrimmage, Trojans quarterback Matt Clement (8 of 12, 187 yards, 2 TD) aired it up the center of the field, finding Matt Reagan in stride for a 48-yard strike and an early first quarter lead.

The Red Raiders responded in kind, using a four-play drive to strike back.

On a first and 10 from their own 35, senior running back Demichael Johnson got stuffed running up the middle, but bounced off the line and broke to the left where he found enough daylight to scamper for 64 yards, setting up his own 2-yard touchdown.

A fumble on the ensuing point after kept B-R in control at 7-6, something they held on to during the following ten yard grinding drive.

Noel bookended the drive with three rushes on both sides of it, punching home his first touchdown of the night from three yards out.

The teams would trade off punts before B-R’s Cade McNaughton stepped in front of a Griffin Burke pass intended for Nate Balthazard, halting a Barnstable drive that had forged into Trojan territory.

Unable to capitalize on the turnover, B-R was forced to punt once more, but the short, wobbly effort from George Lampros took a Barnstable friendly bounce at midfield.

As two Trojans jumped to halt the backwards progress of the bounding ball, they collided and a heads up Balthazard rushed in out of seemingly nowhere, picking the ball off the turf and sprinting 51 yards untouched to shock B-R.

Holding on by just a point, 14-13, B-R closed out the first half with another Clement to Reagan strike, this one a 40-yard bomb down the right sideline, giving the Trojans a 21-13 advantage heading to the locker room.

“I told my teammates in the locker room to keep their composure,” said Fuller. “We’re going to come out in the second half and punch it right down their throats. We had to play good, play smart and not make mistakes.”

Receiving to start the second half, B-R again put the ball in the hands of Noel while trudging behind the strength of the offensive line as they manipulated Barnstable with long sweeps, including a 19-yarder for paydirt.

Another Red Raiders three-and-out gave the Trojans ideal field position and Noel set them up on the 2-yardline after another sweep right, this time for 30 yards.

Jensen Vallarelli punched it in from a yard out and at 35-13 the Trojans were in full control.

Barnstable would not be put to bed early though as they set themselves up nicely on a 60-yard connection between Griffin to Balthazard that took a shoestring tackle from Alex MacKinnon to save a touchdown.

The Trojans couldn’t hold them off completely and three plays later Griffin picked a low snap off the turf and found a hole from three yards out to bring Barnstable within two scores, 35-20.

It would be as close as things would get.

On the very next drive B-R ate up five valuable minutes, moving the game into the fourth quarter with an 11-play march that finished with Noel in the end zone once more, a 5 yard pitch left that the sophomore cut back in for the score.

B-R’s second unit would tack on one more touchdown, a 6-yard run from Alex Smith, to cap the scoring on the night.

Sophomore sensation smooth on the ground: He started the season as the team’s third string tailback, but Shawn Noel has taken advantage of opportunity and came up huge in the team’s win over Barnstable. The sophomore was a workhorse for the Trojans, getting 24 touches for 187 yards and three touchdowns out of the backfield.

“It’s all about the line,” said the humble Noel. “I just run the ball.”

His efforts allowed B-R to capture the OCL title and take down the Red Raiders on the road for the first time since 2007, leaving him with a nice taste in his mouth.

“It means a lot as a sophomore,” said Noel. “I want plenty more after this. We’re very excited and ready to get to the playoffs.”

If he continues to lead the B-R running game with efforts like this, we’ll surely be hearing a lot more about Noel in the coming weeks and years.

Recap: No. 9 Barnstable 20, No. 8 B-R 14

October, 19, 2013
10/19/13
3:38
AM ET


BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – It’s called the smart money, and if Barnstable football minted its own currency, it would read: “In Hayden Murphy We Trust,” as Red Raiders senior quarterback Kristian Lucashensky put it Friday night.

Facing a fourth-and-1 at Bridgewater-Raynham’s 48-yard line with a little more than a minute remaining in another Old Colony league classic, there was a debate on Barnstable’s sideline. The initial play call in the huddle during the Red Raiders’ timeout was for a pass play. But, instead, they went to what was reliable.

In looking to move the chains and living to see another play, Barnstable found its salvation with its gold-standard play, with Murphy taking the cut-back on an inside zone run 48 yards to the end zone, providing the game-winning score in a 20-14 comeback win.

“That’s our basic run play, we probably ran it fifteen times today,” Red Raiders head coach Chris Whidden said. “Yeah, we’re just trying to get the first down because we only had a minute left and one timeout, so we had to get the first down and stop the clock. ... Guys up front made the block and Hayden saw that cut-back lane and he’s tough to catch in the open field.”

Murphy was held relatively in check through the first half, but collected 90 of his 123 rushing yards (14 carries) in the second half. After spying on the 6-foot-2, 205-pound back through the first half, Murphy found enough separation in the second half to run for two scores, including the game-changer.

Barnstable (5-1, 1-0 OCL) engineered its game winning drive after taking over on its own 22 with 2:43 remaining. Lucashensky was at his best on the drive, completing all four passes for 29 yards, giving the Red Raiders a shot at the end zone.

However, when Barnstable was fortunate enough to recover a fumble on a third-down play at its 49, and after a 3-yard run by Murphy, the Red Raiders were faced with a fourth-and-1.

“We’ve got a lot of strong, big bodies up front that we have a lot of faith in,” Whidden said, “and we feel like, if we need a yard, we’re going to be able to get it, no matter how many guys you bring in the box.

He continued, “We leave one guy unblocked and that’s Kristian [Lucashensky’s] job to read him and, he saw the give. I don’t know if he made the right read or not, not until I see the film, but based on the final score, I’ll give him the read for tonight.”

Barnstable’s offense sputtered in the early going, with the Trojans (4-2, 1-1) forcing a fumble, an interception and a turnover on downs through the Red Raiders’ first three offensive series. Conversely, B-R claimed the first lead of the game on Brandon Gallagher’s 10-yard touchdown run at 2:43 of the first quarter.

The Red Raiders came back to tie it in the second quarter, when Justus Chaffee (6 carries, 59 yards) ripped off a 23-yard touchdown run for a 6-6 score, after the teams’ respective 2-point and point-after tries failed.

B-R regained the lead just before the half with Matt Clement’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Mike Murano. Clement (12 of 16, 121 yards, TD, INT) followed with a successful 2-point conversion throw to Arcel Armstead for a 14-6 lead in the final minute of the second quarter.

Barnstable emerged rejuvenated for the second half, forcing B-R three-and-out for its first possession and then embarking on an 82-yard touchdown drive. Murphy tallied his first touchdown of the game with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter on a 29-yard run. The following 2-point conversion again failed, however, so the Red Raiders still trailed 14-12.

The teams traded possessions through the early fourth quarter, but the Red Raiders defense continued to hold. Two of B-R’s second half possessions resulted in three-and-outs. That was no small part in due to Barnstable’s run defense which slowed Gallagher (24 carries, 100 yards) just enough, surrendering just 46 combined yards on the ground in the final half.

Same ole bitter end: For the third straight year, Barnstable claimed victory over B-R – and each of those decisions has come in dramatic fashion, including last year’s 27-25 classic with the Trojans falling a missed 2-point conversion shy of forcing overtime.

For the Trojans, let make no bones about it, it’s been rough. These haven’t just been losses, they’re of the gut-wrenching variety. Friday was no exception, with Murphy playing an all-too-familiar role.

“You kinda’ knew he was going to get the ball at that point,” B-R head coach Dan Buron said of Murphy’s game-winning score. “They made the play, we didn’t.”

Yet, for Barnstable’s success when the chips were on the table, the Trojans couldn’t have scripted their start any better. Spurred by a fumble recovery by Devin Morris and a interception from Theo Barbetto on Barnstable’s first two possessions, B-R also took care of the interior gaps in the running game, minimizing Murphy’s impact through the first 22 minutes.

“They did a really good job bottling [Murphy] up all night,” Whidden said. “He didn’t have a lot of space and he didn’t really have a chance to get to that second gear.

“They were spying Hayden, they had a guy going with Hayden the whole time. We wanted to see the look they would give us if we put Hayden outside, and they covered him with a guy over the top. In that case, we have enough faith in Justus [Chaffee] to carry the ball.”

Bring on the closer: On the flip side, the Red Raiders defense has held up its part of the bargain. Barnstable hasn’t surrendered a second-half score since the third quarter of its 15-14 comeback win over Xaverian on Sept. 27.

Once again, the Red Raiders slammed the door shut, with midseason All-State candidate Derek Estes grabbing an interception on the Trojans’ final play.

“I think they’re one of the best defenses in the state,” Lucashensky said. “They always shut out teams in the second half. We trust them.”
Communication is paramount to the defensive secondary.

For Barnstable cornerback Derek Estes and safety Hayden Murphy, it’s almost involuntary. It’s borne out of spending a lot of time together: watching film, playing ball, hanging out. When I caught up with the pair for this story, after a recent morning preseason practice, Estes and Murphy were hanging out watching the latest installment of the Jason Bourne saga.

“I look at Hayden and he can read off my decisions and pick me up when I need a cover over the top,” Estes said.

To which Murphy added, “I’m Derek’s last line of defense, not that he doesn’t hold it down because he’s pretty good at what he does, but he knows I’ve his back, too.”

It reflects a certain level of cohesion that’s found with Barnstable’s program since Chris Whidden, who’s also the Red Raiders lacrosse head coach, became head coach three years ago.

Last year, the Red Raiders fell painfully short of winning the Eastern Mass. Division 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, losing by a point to Everett, after snapping the Crimson Tide’s 28-game winning streak earlier in the year with an overtime victory.

Barnstable isn’t interested in being a flash in the pan, however. The impetus is to push the program forward.

“My point to the kids is that I have no intentions to rebuild,” Whidden said. “That wouldn’t be fair to the seniors. We need to feel like we’re taking the best shot every year.”

So, with that, the Red Raiders have added a couple noteworthy opponents early on, playing up in Division against Catholic Conference power and fellow preseason Top 25 squads BC High and Xaverian. They’re hoping to set a tone for the season that will carry over to their penultimate Old Colony League rivalry game against Bridgewater-Raynham – an annual slugfest.

“Even though we’re listed in Division 2 now, we want people to think about us in that tier of being a Division 1 team,” Estes said.

BARNSTABLE AT A GLANCE
Coach: Chris Whidden (Third year, 18-6)
2012: 11-1, lost in Division 1A Super Bowl.
Key Returnees: Hayden Murphy, Sr. Ath./FS, 6-2, 200 lbs.; Derek Estes, Sr. CB/WR; Billy Grimmer, Sr. OG, 6-0, 260 lbs.; Dereck Pacheco, Sr. DE, 6-3, 225 lbs.; Justus Chaffee, Sr. RB/CB; Kristian Lucashensky, Sr. QB; Colby Blaze, Sr. WR/CB.
Strengths: Skill positions and secondary.
Weakness: Experience at linebacker.


Outlook: So what will the Red Raiders’ offense look like Week 1? It’s a question that’s worth asking and also one that could evolve over time. Gone is Nick Peabody. However, Whidden is high on senior Kristian Lucashensky, who studied under Peabody last year and saw mop-up duty. But Murphy also presents an intriguing backfield option. Having already played “quarterback” in Barnstable’s Wildcat scheme in previous years, don’t be surprised if the Red Raiders set up some kind of rotation under center, including Murphy. The key will be versatility on offense, and that will be enabled by running back Justus Chaffee, who should see an increased number of carries.

On defense, Barstable is built from the back out. Along with Murphy and Estes, Whidden is keen on senior corner Colby Blaze, who lost most of last season due to a collarbone injury and is among the top students in Barnstable’s senior class. Drew Lambert will also insert at strong safety. The focus is on the linebacking corps, which was among the best in the state last season. The Red Raiders are looking to fill some shoes, but Whidden is encouraged in the early going by middle linebacker Chris Kennedy, who saw action primarily at offensive guard last season. Adding to that theme, Whidden expects five players to start or make significant contributions on both sides of the ball.

South softball: Milford, Bishop Stang advance

June, 10, 2013
6/10/13
1:23
AM ET


TAUNTON, Mass. – In the biggest moments, the best players need to be counted on. Under pressure, teams rely on the stars to step up, raise their games, and find a way to win. On Sunday evening at Jack Tripp Field at Taunton High, the consensus best player in the state and three-time Gatorade Player of the Year demonstrated once again why she receives those accolades.

Milford’s Shannon Smith reached base in all four at-bats, smashed a three-run homer, and struck out nine batters to lead the Scarlet Hawks to a dominating 7-0 victory over Bridgewater-Raynham in the Division 1 South sectional final. It was a meeting of the sectional’s top two seeds and the top two teams in the statewide, ESPNBoston.com Top 25 poll, but in the end it was all about Smith and the Hawks.

Smith explained her approach against the Old Colony League champs.

She remarked, “They have some pretty good hitters and I just tried to keep breaking different zones – inside/outside, up/down, just to make sure that they weren’t expecting one certain spot.”

Smith added, “After the first inning, I adjusted to the umpire and we were good to go.”

The Trojans had an opportunity to change the story in the bottom of the first inning. Madi Shaw led-off with a double down the leftfield line and Stacey Korotsky followed with a walk. Chelsea Correia popped it up on the infield, but a tangle at first base allowed the ball to drop and the runners to advance on the infield fly rule.

With two runners in scoring position and only one out, the Trojans looked like they were going to be the first team to score on Milford (23-1) in the postseason. But, cleanup hitter Emily Kurkul bunted a liner right back to Smith, who then fired to third to double up Shaw and escape the jam.

Smith spoke after the game about the importance of that sequence.

“We start off the game a little shaky defensively too; I think we’re a little unsure- there’s a lot of pressure,” Smith said. “It really gave us a lot of momentum, and a lot of confidence too, and it relaxed us to get out of that.”

The game was scoreless into the top of the third, when Smith struck with a blast to left. Prior to Smith’s at bat and with a runner on base, senior Lauren Hanna battled B-R’s sophomore pitcher Sarah Dawson and fouled away several two-strike pitches to draw a walk that continued the inning. Smith promptly stepped up and made it 3-0 by following the plan that the team scouted in B-R’s win over Silver Lake.

“We watched them on Thursday, I guess, and we saw that she really pounded the inside corner for pretty much the whole game,” said Smith about Milford’s gameplan against Dawson. “I knew that she was coming inside and in my first at bat I took it deep, but not quite out…I knew where it was coming the second time and I really got adjusted to her and got a good piece.”

After the game, Milford head coach Brian Macchi made sure to highlight Hanna’s contribution to the big inning.

He commented, “It was just a real hard-fought at bat by Lauren Hanna that I have to keep going back to that allows that to happen. Without that walk, Shannon never gets up with anybody on. So, it changes the whole complexion of that game.”

Smith settled into a groove and allowed only two base runners (both with two outs) after the first inning, while Dawson was struggling against a patient and potent Milford line-up. Macchi credited the team’s approach and the work that it did in the cage for being successful at the plate.

“We’ve been practicing for three straight days…working that inside corner and making sure that we’re ready to clear our hips and drive the ball,” he said. “The girls bought into it for three days of work and did an outstanding job today.”

The Hawks, who finished with nine hits, broke the game open by batting around in the fifth.

A hit, a walk, and an error loaded the bases for senior Caroline Fairbanks, who lined a two-run single to left to make it 5-0. Sophomore Taylor LeBrun drove in a run with a single and then freshman Jill Powers, who went 2-2 with a walk, brought home a run with a hit of her own.

The 6-8 hitters in the Milford lineup reached base a combined six times, which Macchi believes is crucial to the team’s success offensively.

He said, “We had an inning where Allie Piergustavo got a hit, Jill [Powers] got a base hit, and Lizzie [Stallone] just missed getting a hit, but it allowed us to get back up to Sam [Bonvino, lead-off hitter]. Turning that line-up over is just as good as getting RBI’s sometimes because it allows the top of the line-up to do the damage.”

The loss was the first of the season for the Trojans, who finish at 23-1. Meanwhile, the defending state champions will advance to the Eastern Mass. final on Tuesday night against the North sectional champs, Central Catholic.

D2 South Final: Bishop Stang 5, Dedham 3
In Sunday’s improbable afternoon match-up, the no. 13 seed Bishop Stang claimed the Division 2 South title with a 5-3 win over no. 18 seed Dedham. Neither team was expected to make much noise coming into the postseason, but the Spartans would take home the hardware at Taunton High.

Stang came into the game on the heels of an 11-inning, 5-1 victory over Eastern Athletic Conference rivals Coyle-Cassidy and jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Dedham answered back with a pair of runs in the second on hits by Kristina Mitchell and Brianna Dozier.

The Spartan stormed right back in the fourth highlighted by a two-run double from second baseman Katie Wood, which was followed by another a double from Nicole Andrade. A Dedham error allowed an unearned run to score and it was 5-2 after four innings.

Dedham would get a run back in the sixth but failed to create any chances in its final at bat, giving Stang an unlikely sectional championship.

D1 South softball: B-R 5, D-R 4

June, 2, 2013
6/02/13
3:15
PM ET


BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Trailing by a run in the home half of the seventh inning in their Division 1 South tournament game Saturday, Bridgewater-Raynham softball head coach Mike Carrozza needed the bottom of his lineup to save the day.

No problem.

“As a team this year, we’re batting over .400,” Carrozza said, “so everyone, one to nine, can hit the ball.”

The Trojans had the Nos. 6, 7 and 8 hitters at-bat in the seventh. They set the rally in motion and No. 9 hitter, second baseman Sophie Perez took care of the rest, slapping a two-run single through the hole for a 5-4 walk-off win against No. 16 seed Dighton-Rehoboth.

It might not have been the type of game B-R (21-0) was looking for, after committing a season-high three errors, resulting in a pair of unearned runs, but it was good enough.

“A couple times we had the bases loaded, or second and third, and they made nice plays to get us out of those innings,” Carrozza said. “I told the girls to never say never. We came back in I don’t know how many of those games at the end of last year.”

The late-innings comeback was old hat for the reigning South sectional champions, who endured more than a couple extra-innings affairs on their run to the crown.

On Saturday, Jordan Rodrigue and Julia Milardo got the rally going with back-to-back singles to start the seventh. After a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt from Jenny Heller moved the runners along, Perez dug in.

“I knew we didn’t need much,” said Perez, a sophomore. “I knew I just need to get a single, score a run get it tied. That was my job. I saw a nice outside pitch and went with it.”

She pulled a 2-2 offering into left field, allowing Rodrigue and Milardo to score easily. Perez’s teammates mobbed her near second base.

It wasn’t the first big hit Perez (2-for-4, 3 RBI) delivered on the day. She drove in the Trojans’ first run of the game, during a two-out rally in the fourth, on with an RBI single.

“She stayed short on the ball and drove it through the hole,” Carrozza said of Perez’s game-winning hit. “That’s what it’s all about, getting the ball in play and trying to move your runners.”

SHORT-LIVED CELEBRATION
Coming off a season in which the Trojans fell just short of a state championship appearance, the group has greater goals set for this playoff run.

“That’s the plan,” Perez said, “working hard at practice [Sunday] and then beating Taunton on Monday.”

B-R capped an Old Colony League championship season with a perfect record, but knew they’d have their hands full with Saturday’s opponent. The Falcons (15-9) were a 16th seed only by number, coming out of an uber-competitive South Coast Conference.

The Trojans, who committed just eight errors on the regular season, had three errors, putting undo pressure on sophomore starter Sarah Dawson, who was making her first postseason appearance. Dawson averted further damage as D-R threatened in the fourth with the bases loaded, the result of another B-R error. In total, three of the four Falcons’ runs were unearned against Dawson, who struck out eight to earn the complete-game win.

Assuredly, B-R will hope to bring its A-game when it meets former OCL rival Taunton in Monday’s quarterfinal game (3:30 p.m., at B-R).

“I feel like we can do anything,” Perez said.

TOUGH EXIT
While D-R certainly played well enough to win, head coach Dave Driscoll, the veteran of multiple state championship teams in his tenure, took nothing but positives from his team’s season-ending loss.

“This year hasn’t always been a textbook year for us, but we overcame some adversity today,” he said. “We gave up a lead, but they came back. Our pitchers struggled some this year, but they battled today. I told all of them to be proud of wearing a Falcon uniform today.”

However, Saturday marked the end of a remarkable career for the Falcons’ four-year catcher, Nicole Lundstrom. The already two-time ESPN Boston All-State selection and Syracuse signee closed out her career with a 3-for-3 performance with two RBI and a walk.

Recap: No. 18 Barnstable 6, B-R 3

February, 7, 2013
2/07/13
2:20
PM ET


BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – It looked as though Bridgewater-Raynham was going to scrap its way to an Old Colony League championship.

After the Trojans dealt No. 18 Barnstable a surprising 3-2 loss on Jan. 16 in Hyannis, B-R needed just a point out of Wednesday night’s rematch with the Red Raiders at the Bridgewater Ice Arena.

The Trojans started well, building a two-goal lead early in the second period. However, Barnstable struck back with a string of four straight goals in the second and into the early third to skate away with a 6-3 win and the OCL title.

The Red Raiders (10-3-3, 3-1-0) were lifted on the heels of a four-point game for senior captain Max Willman.

“Connor [Fries] got us going early, throwing a shot on net and finding a way in,” Willman said. “That just got the points going and got me going.”

Fries’ goal at 8:17 of the second ignited the string of Red Raiders’ goals, culminating with Willman’s second of the game, scored just 52 seconds into the third period.

Eric Rogorzenski potted his second point of the game with a goal 8:51 of the third, reestablishing a two-goal lead for Barnstable. Defenseman Chris Fowler added an empty-netter to give the Red Raiders their final margin of victory.

While Barnstable distanced itself in the later stages, the contest hinged on a pivotal sequence midway through the second.

Truman Daniels broke in on Barnstable goaltender Kevin Huska (19 saves) before being hauled down from behind on a breakaway with a hook. Daniels was awarded with a penalty shot on the play. On the penalty shot, Daniels dangled to try to create room for a back-hander stickside, but Huska didn’t budge and gave the shooter little to aim for. Daniels shot went wide to the boards.

It provided the Red Raiders with a much-needed lift.

“He’s been solid for us all year,” Willman said. “He just proved tonight that he’s one of the best in the state. He can get the job done.”

Liam Wholly, Owen Wholly and Daniels were the goal-scorers for B-R (3-10-5, 2-1-1).

Recap: No. 4 CM 2, No. 15 Barnstable 2

January, 20, 2013
1/20/13
1:05
AM ET
HYANNIS, Mass. -- Officially they didn’t win the game, but try to tell that to the Barnstable Red Raiders.

The MIAA does not sanction overtime, so No. 15 Barnstable and No. 4 Catholic Memorial — by the books — played to a 2-2 draw tonight the Kennedy Rink in Hyannis in the first round of the Nate Nickerson Invitational. Unofficially, the Red Raiders (5-2-3) scored the only goal in a shootout, after a scoreless overtime period, to advance in the winner’s bracket of the Nate Nickerson Invitational, to win the game 3-2. They will play Falmouth (Maine) tomorrow for the tournament title.

Ultimately, the tie could serve as a win for the Red Raiders, in a different way. Barnstable scheduled the game to increase the degree of difficulty on their ledger this year in hopes of impressing the Super 8 Selection Committee. Playing in the Old Colony League, the Raiders historically don’t have a very difficult road to the state tournament. But, this year, they’ve gone out of their way to play against tougher competition in hopes of getting to the toughest tournament at the end of the year.

“For us, it goes as a tie, but it feels like a win,” Barnstable head coach Scott Nickerson said. “In our minds, it’s a win, and it’s as big a win as we’ve had in this program maybe in 50 years, as long as it goes back.”

If Saturday night’s effort can be used as a measuring stick, the Raiders have made a pretty convincing case that they belong.

Behind a 38 save effort by junior goaltender Kevin Huska, Barnstable hung tough all night long. The home team survived a kitchen sink second period that saw Catholic Memorial (8-3-1) score twice, and outshoot them (17-2) to give themselves a chance at crunch time.

They made the most of that chance.

Seconds after Huska had skated for the bench, for an extra attacker, the Red Raiders struck to tie the game with just 1:27 left in regulation time. Senior center Max Willman forced a turnover just outside the CM blue line, stealing the puck away and sending it deep. Barnstable worked the puck around and it found the stick of junior winger Connor Fries, who flung a low wrister at the net from the right wing circle that circumvented traffic and found space between CM goalie Brandon Collett’s pads to tie the contest up at two aside.

“We fought back, we never gave up,” Nickerson said. “We pulled the goalie, we were able to get the equalizer and I thought we deserved that. I thought we deserved at least that. No doubt, they’re a great team, that’s a good program. We outworked them in the third period, which for us is where we wanted to be.”

Huska shone brightest in the shootout. After Willman collected the only goal by either team in the shootout, on a beautiful backhander that he lifted to the top shelf, the goaltender stopped three straight penalty shots, with each save prettier than the one before it. First, he used his leg pad to deny Jack O’Hear, then he slid right to left to stymie Liam Coughlin. Finally he ended the game with a brilliant glove save on a shake and shimmy move by Beau Starrett before being pig-piled on by the entire Barnstable bench.



“[Huska] isn’t a very good technical goalie, he absolutely isn’t, but he does whatever he has to do to stop the puck,” Nickerson said. “That’s what wins games. I thought he played great.”

Huska said it doesn’t matter if it looks pretty, as long as the puck isn’t behind him.

“I just go around and try to stop the puck any way I can,” Huska said. “I’m not really a butterfly goalie, I just try to stop it any way that I can.”

After a first period that saw Catholic Memorial carry most of the play, but leave the ice down 1-0 thanks to a nifty shorthanded goal by Eric Rogorzenski, the Knights took the ice with purpose in the second and dominated the action. CM came at Barnstable with purpose, and popped the tying goal just two minutes into the period when O’Hear flung one from the right wing circle that beat Huska to the glove side. The Barnstable goalie said after the game that that was the one shot that he wished he’d had a do-over on.

CM grabbed the lead a little over five minutes later, at the 7:40 mark of the second as they scored on a break-in. Huska made the initial save on a wrister by Starrett, but Tim Weinstein pushed in the rebound on the weak side pipe to put the Knights up 2-1.

CM had chances to pad their lead late in the period, but Huska made certain that they didn’t, and he also got a little bit lucky. The junior, who plays the position in a very unorthodox manner – he compares himself to Tim Thomas – made two great stops late in the second to keep his team within one. He stoned Starrett on a tip shot, sliding across the crease and then gloved a wrister by Aaron Clancy with 1:24 to go in the frame.

With 47 seconds left, fate intervened for the Raiders. Zach Sullivan flew past the defense up the right wing boards and let a rocket fly from 25 feet out, but his shot rung the pipe and flew to the corner.

CM head coach Bill Hanson said that, while his team piled up the shots – they held a 40-19 edge in that category – they weren’t the best kind.

“Never mind shots on goal … I think the number of quality scoring chances is the most important statistic,” Hanson said. “We had three two-on-ones, a three-on-one, with our best guys, and they didn’t get it done for us there. We didn’t put ourselves in position to really score, I mean the goaltender’s good, he played well, but any goalie can make a save when you shoot it right at his chest when you’re not making that extra pass with the open man situation. We didn’t make good decisions.”


BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – The fourth of quarter of Friday’s instant classic between No. 1 Barnstable and No. 16 Bridgewater-Raynham was rife with hairpin plot twists and explosions. Every expanding moment brought more drama, heightened tension and – assuredly on both sidelines – greater anxiety. It was the stuff of Jack Bauer tracking down bad guys, MacGyver defusing a bomb threat, or a John Le Carré spy novel. Or maybe it was a little of all those things rolled into one -- and then some.

For whatever you care to call it, in recent memory, the yearly date between the Red Raiders and Trojans has morphed into a de facto championship game for the Old Colony League.

Friday’s edition was but another spellbinding chapter.

Barnstable clung to a 27-25 lead behind an opportunistic defense before putting the game away in the final moments with the Red Raiders tallying their third interception of the game. In the process, Barnstable (8-0, 2-0) claimed its second-straight OCL championship and will return to the postseason, again to face Dual County League large division champion Lincoln-Sudbury in the Div. 1A Eastern Mass playoffs.

“Last year is a distant memory at this point,” Red Raiders head coach Chris Whidden said. “It feels great for this group, these guys have done so much together, and they were obviously a big part of last year, but there’s a pride in what they accomplished today.

“They derserve it. I know every coach can say that the group of kids you have deserve it, but if you really knew these kids, you’d know they truly have done more than most classes would do to get what they got tonight.”

Barnstable showed its defensive mettle after a lack-luster showing against Billerica a week ago.

Jason Frieh (sack, 2 TFL) led the Red Raider defensive line bringing the pressure, but the contributions came from all around. Barnstable’s defense pulled off a unique hat trick of interceptions, with one pick coming from a member at each level of its unit. Frieh seized momentum for the Red Raiders early in the second half with a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, inside linebacker Andrew Ellis collected a pick of his own before free safety Hayden Murphy closed out the victory with an interception with 1:03 remaining.

Frieh’s pick-six extended the Red Raiders’ halftime lead to 21-6, but the Trojans (5-4, 1-1) responded on the ensuing drive in the third with a 10-play, 74-yard drive capped by Jordan Cohen’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Scripter.

Barnstable again made it a two-possession game on Nick Peabody’s second touchdown pass of the game, a 31-yard connection to Tedaro France with 7:31 to play in the fourth.

From there, a dizzying sequence unfolded that was made for an episode of “24”.

Events between the time 7:14 and 4:03 of the fourth quarter included:
  • An 82-yard kickoff return by B-R’s Ryan Martin, (Score: 27-19, Barnstable, following failed two-point try).
  • A fumble recovery by the Trojans on Barnstable’s following kickoff return, (Devin Morris’ forced fumble was recovered by Mike Clifford, setting up B-R first and 10 from the Red Raiders’ 20-yard line).
  • Ellis’ interception, (setting up Barnstable first and 10 at their own 15).
  • Strip-sack by B-R’s Aaron Conrad with Trojans recovery by Kevin Johnston at the Barnstable 5, (5:33 to play).
  • 2-yard rushing touchdown by Brandon Gallagher, (Score: 27-25, Barnstable, 4:03 remained).

Following that frenetic sequence -- keep in mind there were only seven plays from scrimmage elapsed during that span – Barnstable had a chance at closing out the game by bleeding the clock. But the Red Raiders’ ensuing drive sputtered flat once it hit the 50-yard line. Barnstable was forced to punt, but a masterful 41-yard punt from Ryan Litchman was downed at the Trojans’ 6-yard line.

With a long field to go, B-R went to its 2-minute drill with 1:45 to play. The comeback ended at 1:03 when a last-ditch pass by Cohen was fielded by Murphy.

TEACH ME HOW TO DOUGIE
His dancing acumen aside, ESPN Boston Mr. Football challenger and Barnstable quarterback Nick Peabody showed he’s got moves on the field.

Peabody (12 of 22 passing, 201 yards, 2 TDs) ripped up the carpet on a rambling 54-yard run in the first quarter. After juking a B-R safety into last Friday, Peabody broke down the left sideline before being chased down at the 1-yard line. He plunged into the end zone one play later for Barnstable’s second touchdown of the game.

“We were reading the end on the play, and he kind of flew out with Hayden [Murphy],” Peabody said. “I just saw the hole, I hit it and there was just one safety. I was kind of shocked, I guess I put a move on him.

“Then, to be honest, I was scared I was going to get caught and I got caught on the one-yard line.”

While Peabody will never be mistaken for a Randall Cunningham-like quarterback, he’s still able to make plays with his feet. He ran for 78 yards on 15 carries, including the touchdown. A bulk of those yards came on zone read plays with Peabody pulling back an option to Murphy, who streaks across the field from the slot. It was a bread-and-butter play that Barnstable’s run successfully on Friday and throughout the season.

It’s yet another element that has made the Red Raiders offense so potent.

“We drill it until it makes you sick, but that’s what makes it work,” Peabody said.

CLOSING CREDITS
If you placed this year’s B-R team in the year 2013, there’s a real possibility the Trojans are playing through a playoff stretch.

While the MIAA playoff proposal has passed, it didn’t come soon enough for the Trojans, who will again challenge for the dubious title of “Best Team in Massachusetts Not Playing past Thanksgiving” this year.

“I look at our team, we’re five-and-four and we’ve lost to two teams that are undefeated, another team in St. John’s Prep that has one loss and La Salle could play with anyone [in Massachusetts],” Trojans head coach Dan Buron said.

Don’t interpret that statement as sour grapes though. Buron was downright grateful following his team’s loss.

It was evidenced on the Trojans’ final offensive play. As his players shuffled – dejected – back to the sideline, Buron met each and every one of them with a pat on the shoulder pads and the message: “Don’t hang your heads.”

“I told the kids they shouldn’t have any regrets and they should be proud,” Buron said of his postgame breakdown with the team. “I’ve never been more proud of a team because there were a couple of times in this game we could’ve folded.”

Barnstable – 14 0 7 6 -- 27
Bridgewater-Raynham – 0 6 7 12 -- 25

First quarter
B - Dylan Morris 35-yard pass from Nick Peabody (Jason Frieh kick)
B - Peabody 1-yard run (Frieh kick)

Second quarter
B-R – Kevin Wadsworth 11-yard pass from Jordan Cohen (kick failed)

Third quarter
B - Jason Frieh 21-yard interception return (Frieh kick)
B-R - Ryan Scripter 17-yard pass from Cohen (Wadsworth kick)

Fourth quarter
B - Tedaro France 31-yard pass from Peabody (kick failed)
B-R - Ryan Martin 82-yard kickoff return (pass failed)
B-R - Brandon Gallagher 2-yard run (rush failed)

Player of the Game: Barnstable's Jason Frieh

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
12:40
AM ET
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- No. 1 Barnstable escaped with its second straight Old Colony League title in hand after a hard-fought 27-25 win over No. 16 Bridgewater-Raynham on Friday night in our Game of the Week.

Red Raiders defensive lineman Jason Frieh snatched a critical interception to start the second half and, with a 21-yard return for a touchdown, helping to provide Barnstable with its margin of victory. As part of a strong performance from Barnstable's front seven, Frieh also added two tackles for loss against the Trojans.

Editor Scott Barboza grabbed Frieh for this postgame interview:

ESPN Boston Week 9 football picks

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
2:58
AM ET
ACTON-BOXBOROUGH (6-2) AT LINCOLN-SUDBURY (7-1)
The Skinny: Although the Colonials enter this rivalry game after a letdown against Waltham last week, these teams always have a say in the determination of the Dual County League crown. The Warriors have worked toward reclaiming the division title with help from a talented cast of seniors who have two-way success with the football and the lacrosse teams, including Chris Giorgio, Henry Guild and John Sexton. A-B’s wing-T attack is led by a pair of promising juniors in William Tejada (14 TDs) and Tom Saponaro.

Scott Barboza: Bill Maver has the building blocks for a strong group next year, but this senior group from L-S has been primed to make their run during the last two years. The seal the deal for the division, but it’s a rivalry game, so throw the records out. L-S, 20-14.

Brendan Hall: The Warriors take the inside track to their third consecutive postseason berth, but because it’s A-B they do it in knock-down, drag-out fashion. L-S, 17-10.

DIGHTON-REHOBOTH (6-1) AT WAREHAM (7-1)
The Skinny: Both teams sport a perfect South Coast Conference record entering Friday’s tête-à-tête and their only loss came against a common non-league opponent in Somerset-Berkley. Since their opening day loss, the Falcons have run off six straight wins, including a 5-0 record in the SCC. D-R’s ground attack is keyed by 6-foot-7 tackle Chuddy Nwachukwu, but the Falcons have also seen dividends in the passing game behind sophomore quarterback Nathan Kowalski. The Vikings, also undefeated in the SCC, have big-play ability with the electrifying Darien Fernandez in the backfield. Yet, Wareham has also brought the lumber on defense, surrendering just 26 points through five league games.

Barboza: In big SCC games, it’s hard to pick against a Dave Driscoll-led team. D-R, 16-14.

Hall: As usual, our loyal correspondent Corey comes up with some innovative names, this one “The Fernandez Express”. As long as Darien’s legs keep churning, the Vikings will stay ahead. Wareham, 17-13.

STONEHAM (7-1) AT BURLINGTON (7-1)
The Skinny: The Red Devils can sew up the Middlesex League Freedom division title with a win over the upstart Spartans. Stoneham saw its undefeated record blemish last week in a 42-28 loss to Wakefield, but the Spartans are capable of throwing a monkey wrench into the race behind Aaron Louis and Darius McPherson. Meanwhile, Burlington’s backfield tandem of Anthony Cruz and Marcus O’Diah has few equals in Eastern Mass.

Barboza: Cinderella’s ball comes to a halt. Burlington, 33-24.

Hall: Stoneham appears to have a quality foundation for the long haul, but in the short term this Burlington rushing attack will be too much for the Spartans to handle. Burlington, 28-14.

GOVERNOR’S ACADEMY (6-0) AT MILTON ACADEMY (4-2)
The Skinny: The defending ISL champs put their undefeated record on the line in a road game. Gov’s 40-6 win over Brooks last week kept its point-per-game average above 41 points a game as Tate Jozokos and Eli Morrissey continue their assault on opposing defenses. Mustangs junior running back Drew Jacobs continued his breakout season with four touchdowns last week in a throttling of Belmont Hill.

Barboza: Opposing teams better hope they have Jacoby Jones or Ellis Hobbs returning kicks for them because it’s a 108 yards or bust with Justin Yoon kicking off. Still, Gov’s offense takes over. Governor’s, 31-24.

Hall: The Governators haven’t lost a game since Jim O’Leary took over in 2011. How crazy is that? Governor’s, 30-20.

WAYLAND (5-3) AT CONCORD-CARLISLE (4-4) (
The Skinny: Wayland looks for the inside track in the Dual County League’s Small division, entering the game with one of the league’s stingiest defenses (10.6 points allowed), and two versatile targets in senior wideout Mark Bonner and junior tailback Robert Williams. C-C, the defending league and Super Bowl champs, lost Tim Badgley in the preseason, but running backs Evan Boynton and Shayne McCloskey have picked up the slack.

Barboza: Yeah, I went with the Patriots winning a long time ago, in fact before we learned Badgley would be out for the year. It’s political season, so consider me a swing voter here. Wayland, 14-7.

Hall: I have the feeling this game is going to be possession-based. In that case, give me the better defense. Wayland, 10-6.

LOWELL (6-2) AT ANDOVER (8-0)
(The Skinny: Lowell has been on an offensive tear the last four games, going 3-1 and averaging 43 points per game over that span. Cam Latta has spearheaded the surge, but can he outduel Andover’s C.J. Scarpa? The 5-foot-8 senior hasn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 6, meanwhile the Golden Warriors are averaging over 370 yards of offense a game.

Barboza: Calculators ready? Andover, 46-38.

Hall: Remember the 88-80, eight-overtime game between these two in 2010? Let’s do the honorable thing here and move the venue to the Tsongas Center. Andover, 45-40.

NORTHBRIDGE (7-1) AT AUBURN (8-0) (
The Skinny: Auburn, one of the state’s stingiest defenses (5.1 points per game), holds first place in the SWCL A division, and can put a vice grip on it with a win over the Rams. Offensively, the Rockets have rode one of the state’s biggest lines to bull their way to over 2,000 yards rushing and over 2,700 yards of total offense, led by quarterback Drew Goodrich and Tyler Desjardins. But Northbridge quarterback Matt Phelan (1,344 passing yards, 11 TD; 673 rushing yards, 19 TD) will be one of the more slippery athletes the Rockets will have seen all season long. Can they contain him?

Barboza: Again, more than the score, I’m wondering what the line would be set at on these occurrences: how many times the Rockets venture to pass versus the Rams keeping it on the ground. Think it’s a push, but … Auburn, 31-27.

Hall: Classic clash of philosophies here: Jeff Cormier’s power running scheme versus Northbridge guru Ken LaChapelle and his pioneering run-and-shoot. Give me the team with the better line, in a physical battle. Auburn, 20-13.

BC HIGH (3-4) AT XAVERIAN (2-6) (
The Skinny: What would you have said if we told you back in August these two teams would be meeting in November with a combined 10 losses? But that’s what we have here, as the two Catholic Conference foes will fight to stay alive in a conference that St. John’s Prep is favored to take a hold of. If linebacker Luke Catarius is a go for BC High, that should provide an interesting matchup for Xaverian and its talented skill corps of Austin DeCarr, D.J. Pagliuca and Hunter Taute. The key matchup will be in the interior, where two close friends and Division 1 commits will square off – Xaverian defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (Michigan) versus BC High guard Jack McDonald (Virginia).

Barboza: Going with my preseason Catholic Conference pick in this one for whatever that’s worth – though it’s still probably worth more than Facebook stock. BC High, 21-17.

Hall: Give both teams credit here, they’re still fighting hard. But at this point, the Eagles have a little bit more momentum. BC High, 21-10.

BARNSTABLE (7-0) AT BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM (5-3)
The Skinny: Once again, these teams engage in a winner-takes-all battle for the Old Colony League crown in this week’s Game of the Week. Some elements to watch entering this one will be to see how the Red Raiders secondary is able to shake off a lackluster performance last week against Billerica. Similarly, B-R had its troubles with La Salle Academy and its spread attack a couple weeks back, so we’ll see how the Trojans’ secondary is able to deal with Barnstable quick and nimble wideouts. Let’s not overlook the running backs in this one, however. Hayden Murphy figured prominently into last year’s win by Barnstable in this game and Trojans sophomore sensation Brandon Gallagher (12 TDs) will be one to watch for years to come.

Barboza: Because it’s what Dan Buron wants us to do anyway, and for the fact I think the Red Raiders repeat. Barnstable, 30-24.

Hall: Any time you have an NFL veteran coaching the secondary, you have to think things will shore up after a bad week. Barnstable, 35-28.

Game of the Week: No. 1 Barnstable at No. 16 B-R

November, 1, 2012
11/01/12
3:58
PM ET
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The Old Colony League title is on the line Friday night in our Game of the Week with No. 1 Barnstable visiting No. 16 Bridgewater-Raynham (7 p.m.) in a winner-take-all match-up.

Editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall broke down the weekend ahead, including the Trojans' take on the marquee tilt with interviews with senior captains Kevin Johnston, Joe MacInnis and Kevin Wadsworth and head coach Dan Buron.

(Video produced by Greg Story)

Swing voters turn another fall decision

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
5:13
PM ET
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Presidential election is weeks away, so we’ll be bombarded with talk of swing voters until the ballots are cast.

At Assabet Valley Regional Tech on Friday morning, the fate of the vote for a new football playoff proposal for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association too might have been decided by a number of souls who were undecided till the last minute. The motion set before a general assembly of all MIAA charter schools passed somewhat comfortably 161 ‘Yeas’ to 131 ‘Nays;’ some straw polls going in had the vote at a “too close to call.” It was just the second time in MIAA history that such a measure for a statewide vote had been called.

Some, like Bridgewater-Raynham football head coach and athletic director Dan Buron, still felt conflicted on the morning of the vote. In recent years, Buron and the remaining schools of the Old Colony League (Barnstable and Dartmouth) have seen their conference ravaged by departures. The statewide craze of swapping ships has mirrored a bit of what has occurred in NCAA football. Looking through that prism, both the MIAA’s current football playoff system and the Bowl Championship Series share a fatal flaw – both leave much to be desired, namely the fact neither recognize a true champion through a playoff system.

Upon entering the auditorium Buron resolved in his mind to vote against the measure. He still had reservations about how non-playoff contending teams would fill their schedule in the weeks leading up to the season’s end at Thanksgiving.

After seeing the plan’s detail of having non-playoff teams entered into a sectional pool of teams with similar records and the presentation of the particulars on Friday morning, Buron adjusted his stance.

“It’s time for a change,” Buron said. “I think the football committee did a good job of listening to the vote last time and changing up some things.”

In his time as Trojans’ head coach, the years more numerous than he’d care to see printed in a news report, Buron’s seen plenty. He’s also seen plenty of winning, but he’s also seen plenty of fine seasons dashed by a slip-up in one game. As currently constituted, playing in a three-team league essentially means you’d better win those two games, or your Black Friday activities revolve around sales at department stores, not football.

Yet, Buron would never be the type of coach to complain about that fact. Instead, he continues to take on all comers in Eastern Mass. The Trojans added Catholic Conference power and current third-ranked MIAA squad St. John’s Prep to their schedule this year. B-R lost a competitive, spirited game, 20-7.

Buron takes those lumps in order to have his teams’ peaking when those penultimate league games come. But now, with the approval of the playoff restructuring, teams like B-R will have all that much more incentive to take on a murderer’s row schedule. They’ll receive power ranking points for doing so – win, lose or draw. And, while teams will still aim to win a coveted league title, they can also play for an ultimate prize, even if there’s a blemish on their regular-season slate.

“I hope in two year’s time we really sit down and take a look at how it’s worked out and change it if it needs to be changed,” Buron said of the plan’s built-in two-year option on his way out the door.

“Then, if it’s fine, we’re fine. But I’m looking forward to it.”

That’s change we can all believe in.

ESPN Boston Week 6 football picks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recap: No. 3 St. John's Prep 20, No. 12 B-R 7

October, 7, 2012
10/07/12
12:05
AM ET


BRIDGEWATER, Mass. - With two talented playmakers such as Johnathan Thomas and Alex Moore in the backfield, why wouldn't St. John's Prep have its own version of the 'Wildcat' formation ready to go?

It's not a set the Eagles rely on often, but when they spring the trap, it has the tendency to yield major dividends. In the case of Saturday afternoon's nonleague clash with No. 12 Bridgewater-Raynham, Moore turned the Prep's 'Wildcat' into a momentum changer.

On the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Moore and Thomas lined up side by side in the backfield with Moore taking the snap. Tight end Anthony Bongiorno sealed off the defensive end and Thomas cleared a hole with a nice block of his own. Moore followed right through and outran everyone down the left sideline for an 89-yard touchdown.

That was the second of three scores on the day for Moore, who totaled 159 yards on the ground with two scores and another 73 yards and a touchdown on three receptions as No. 3 St. John's Prep took down the Trojans, 20-7, at Bridgewater-Raynham High School.

"I never had any original thought in my life and that's what Everett did to us so I said, 'If Everett can do that to us, we can use that ourselves,' so that's what we did," Prep coach Jim O'Leary said with a laugh. "We've been running it but we've been running it a little differently the last couple weeks. We just put him outside and pitch and get to the edge and see what we can get."

Moore turned in terrific all-around effort, adding a fourth-quarter interception from his safety position to his stat sheet. He scored the game's first touchdown via the air, lining up as the inside receiver in a trips-right set. Moore ran a post pattern through the middle and Eagles quarterback Jack Sharrio lofted a perfect pass to him in stride for a 35-yard score.

Then in the fourth, just after Brandon Gallagher had scored to help B-R (3-2) cut the deficit to 14-7, Moore produced another big play. Lined up as the tailback behind Thomas in the I-formation, Moore took a straight handoff and followed Thomas off left tackle. Thomas created room by blocking the defensive end, allowing Moore to bounce outside and race 62 yards to paydirt.

"I was able to hit the outside and use my speed to my advantage and make it a track meet out there," Moore explained. "It was just off to the races from there."

SPREAD THE FIELD
The Prep's offense has been producing extremely well this season, and a lot of that has been due to the willingness to allow Sharrio to throw more often. The senior quarterback completed 7-of-11 passes for 103 yards and the TD pass to Moore.

Battling a very difficult wind, Sharrio's effort loosened up the Trojans defense enough to allow Thomas to join Moore in the Century Club with 110 yards on 13 carries.

"We have to be able to spread the field to get people out of the box," O'Leary said. "We have to do that and so I think that's what we try to do and what we need to do. We're not as comfortable doing that when we don't have the wind. They threw the ball better with the wind also."

'PREP'PING FOR LEAGUE PLAY
B-R coach Dan Buron has never been afraid to schedule some of the state's top teams in an effort to get his Trojans ready for their Old Colony League slate, and hopefully, a postseason berth.

B-R opened with Duxbury, currently riding a 31-game winning streak, bested perennially tough programs in Marshfield and New Bedford, and still have a date with Xaverian before playing its OCL counterparts Dartmouth and Barnstable.

Brandon Gallagher finished with 92 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, while quarterback Jordan Cohen finished 12-of-26 for 176 yards.

"I was pleased with our effort, I think our kids played hard," Buron said. "That's a really good football team and I think we're just not quite there. Duxbury and this team, we're battling them for three quarters and we're just a step away. I think we're getting better every week and I think we can take this as a learning experience. I love playing teams like this. It gets us ready for our league games at the end of October and early November."

ST. JOHN'S PREP (4-1) 7 7 0 6 - 20
BRIDGE. RAYNHAM (3-2) 0 0 7 0 - 7

SJ - Alex Moore 35 pass from Jack Sharrio (Stephen Cammaro kick)
SJ - Moore 89 run (Cammaro kick)
BR - Brandon Gallagher 3 run (Kevin Wadsworth kick)
SJ - Moore 62 run (kick failed)

What We Learned: Week 4

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
1:57
AM ET
RAIDER NATION HAS OFFICIALLY ARRIVED
Barnstable head coach Chris Whidden had barely left the turf of Everett Memorial Stadium on Friday night before his phone began buzzing like crazy. To call the city of Hyannis' reaction to the Red Raiders' double-overtime upset of the No. 1 team in the land an outpour would be on diplomat's terms.

"Let's put it this way, I think I had eight or nine texts on my phone by the time I got on the bus," he said.

It's been a wild few days south of the Sagamore Bridge since the the Red Raiders pulled off the virtually unthinkable. Many pundits predicted the hard-hitting, fundamentally disciplined Raiders to keep it close with Everett, holders of a 28-game win streak and the top spot in ESPNBoston.com's statewide poll since October 2010 -- but on the mainland, nobody actually believed they'd actually pull it off. And with it, Barnstable moves up two spots in our poll to No. 1, becoming the first Old Colony League team to be anointed the top team in the land in the history of our poll.

What statement does this make about Cape Cod football? Not much, really. That was made last year, when an unprecedented five teams from the Cape & Islands region (including Barnstable) qualified for postseason, with four of them winning a Super Bowl (Dennis-Yarmouth, Bourne, Mashpee, Nantucket). And the Cape is strong once again, with Nauset, Bourne, Wareham, Sandwich, Martha's Vineyard and the aforementioned Raiders all off to at least 3-1 starts or better.

No, this is more about the Barnstable program itself. After some tumult the last few years, the Raiders have taken off after settling with Whidden as their head coach, and Nick Peabody as their quarterback. Friday night, after going 0-for-10 with an interception in the first half, Peabody showed why he is on the short list for ESPN Boston's Mr. Football Award by throwing two second-half touchdown passes to his favorite target Dylan Morris, including the crucial one in the second overtime that clinched it.

The Red Raiders can score -- this much we know, after putting up 110 points in the first eight quarters of the season -- and have some gifted athletic versatility between Morris, Theo France and junior Hayden Murphy. But Friday's stunning upset was more a statement of Whidden's defensive prowess.

Barnstable threw a variety of man and zone coverages at Everett, primarily out of a three-deep shell, aimed at containing Everett's two superstar receivers, Jakarrie Washington and Jalen Felix. Up front, the Raiders began in a three-man front, but quickly found more success with four down linemen, and stuck with it. Where there was a weight disadvantage -- the Tide average over 300 pounds across, led by Notre Dame-bound left tackle John Montelus -- the Raiders made up for with quickness, athleticism, and length, behind Jason Freih, D.J. Goncalves and John Eldridge.

Whidden is known for his knack as a defensive play-caller. But it also doesn't hurt having two NFL vets and Cape football legends coaching up the defense, either. Falmouth grad and former Oakland Raider Willie Ford has the secondary's ear, while Barnstable grad and former Dallas Cowboys lineman Mike Dwyer has the defensive line.

"They're able to get so specific with the technique," Whidden said. "For a defensive lineman working different skills, different technique, whether it's pass rush or run defense, they're not the same moves or same techniques, so that's crucial. Same with the secondary, playing man coverage and zone coverage are completely different techniques. They got that repetition during the week."

This year's team-issue shirts at Barnstbale feature a bulls-eye on the back, a statement more to do with the target that comes with being the regining OCL champ. That target has just gotten a little bigger.

A lot, actually.

"They know now that teams are really gunning for us," Whidden said. "We pay attention to the way we celebrated on their field after the game. Now we've got teams coming at our place as the top dog, and we've got to make sure we avoid having anyone celebrate like that against us."

KEN LACHAPELLE -- VISIONARY, INNOVATOR, GRANDFATHER
For as long as Ken LaChapelle has been at the helm of Northbridge High football, there has always been a good quarterback calling the shots. But there is but one name to trump all names: Danny Brown.

Brown, widely considered the greatest in a long line of great Rams signal-callers, reminisced about his recruiting during the 2001 and 2002 seasons, when reached last week by ESPNBoston.com to reflect on LaChapelle. The one moment of the process that's always stuck with him, he says, is a meeting with the Dartmouth coaching staff during a visit, in which the staff raved about LaChapelle's offensive innovation, telling him the coach is "always one step ahead".

LaChapelle became the third coach in MIAA history to achieve 300 career wins on Sunday, with a 42-12 victory over Southbridge, to go along with 10 Super Bowl titles. Unique from the other two to achieve the milestone is that LaChapelle has done it all in one place, holding the Northbridge job continuously since 1976.

Unique, too, was his foresight to install the Run-and-Shoot offense upon taking the head coaching job, at a time when power-running formations like the Wishbone were all the rage. LaChapelle has light-heartedly mentioned in the past his desire to one day coach a game in which he didn't attempt a run (that was short-lived on Sunday, as quarterback Matt Phelan racked up 154 yards on 5 carries). Many of the spread principles you see in the state's top teams? Northbridge has been running it for decades, going back to the days of the San Diego Chargers' revolutionary "Air Coryell" offense.

Brown, like many Northbridge alums, was a lifer, first getting a taste of Rams football as a waterboy. He endured a great career at Harvard and had a brief stint in Europe before returning to Northbridge, where he is happily engaged and makes the hour commute each way every day to the Xenith helmets sales office in Lowell. It bears asking: What keeps a guy like LaChapelle, a 1965 grad, in Northbridge for 50 years?

The short answer is family. He has a half-dozen children and nearly two-dozen grandchildren littered around the southern plateau of Worcester County. He currently coaches two grandchildren, Daiton LaChapelle and Koby Schofer, and by the looks of it could coach many more.

How many more years? Brown says, with an honest tone, "he could go another decade".

That leaves plenty more opportunities for that elusive run-less game.

FAMILIAR TERRITORY
Bob Bancroft left a lasting legacy at Whitman-Hanson in his tenure as head football coach. On Friday, Bancroft’s Pembroke squad left a loss behind.

The Titans rolled over their current head coach’s old team in a 19-3 win. The Panthers entered the game with the momentum gained off a tight win over Foxborough.

But after taking an early 3-0 lead on a 28-yard field goal on Friday, it was all Pembroke. The Titans quickly reclaimed the lead with Brian Tinkham’s first touchdown of the game before Ken Blasser’s pick-six extended the Titans’ lead in the fourth. Tinkham added his second score of the game as added insurance late in the fourth.

What’s more is that it marked the second straight year Bancroft claimed victory over his former side, proof that the master still reigns.

WILD NIGHT IS CALLIN’
More than a change in No. 1 teams, Friday night was ripe with upsets as the rain poured down in bowls across the state. No place was that more prevalent than in the Hockomock League, where a couple of teams in Davenport (small school division) claimed wins over their Kelley-Rex counterparts.

Foxborough’s defense stymied North Attleborough’s offense, holding the Red Rocketeers to just 91 offensive yards, in a 21-0 blanking. Dynamic Warriors running back Kiivone Howard outgained North by himself, running for 130 yards.

North wasn’t the only Kelley-Rex team with a struggling offense. For the second straight year, Stoughton knocked off Mansfield with a 25-6 win. Meaning that the Hornets came away with a grand total of six points during their meetings with the Black Knights in the last two seasons. Stoughton again showed its defensive mettle, with Adam Leonard notching a key strip-sack early in the game and Aaron Mack’s strong play in the secondary.

With both teams coming off notable upsets of Top 25 squads, the Davenport picture will come into clearer view when the Black Knights and Warriors tangle this Friday.

IN MEMORIAM
With the one of the biggest football games of the season coming, football seemingly is the last thing on the minds of the Stoughton High community this week.

Less than 24 hours after celebrating another win over Mansfield, Black Knights player David Wade, 17, was killed on Saturday by a gunshot wound to the chest. Wade played football this year after being a member of the Black Knights cheerleading squad. He also competed with Stoughton’s winter track team and played tennis.

Our thoughts are with David’s friends and family at this time.

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