Boston High School: Pat Dwyer

ESPN Boston Week 10 football picks

November, 9, 2012
NO. 5 WALPOLE (9-0) AT NO. 21 NATICK (8-1)
The Skinny: The most anticipated regular-season matchup is finally upon us. A swelling crowd is expected to turn out for this one, as the Bay State Conference’s Herget division title is on the line. Natick is looking to bounce back after coming up on the wrong side of one of the year’s biggest upsets (a 40-34 loss to Wellesley), but Troy Flutie, Brian Dunlap and co. will have to do it against one of the state’s stingiest defenses. Walpole hasn’t allowed a point since Sept. 28, and hasn’t allowed a touchdown since Week 3.

Scott Barboza: I’m shudder to think that we might not have any questions to answer during our Sunday night chat this week now that we’re finally about to give our picks on this game. Walpole, 27-21.

Brendan Hall: I’m sure the primary topic of discussion in this Sunday night’s Top 25 chat will be “What’s your prediction for Natick-Walpole in 2013?” Walpole, 20-17.

The Skinny: Raise your hand if you thought this would be the de facto Atlantic Coast League championship back in August. South’s Dylan Oxsen leads the state in rushing touchdowns (28), doing so behind a uniquely modified pistol attack that gets the hard-charging junior downhill in a hurry. Written off a month ago, the Panthers are suddenly in prime position for their first postseason berth here, but they’ll have to find a way to neutralize all the chicanery that comes with Nauset’s single wing attack, led by running back Jimmy Sullivan.

Barboza: It’s time we start considering Oxsen as a serious candidate for our Offensive Player of the Year Award. Plymouth South, 13-7.

Hall: If you know me, you know I’m a fiend for the ground-and-pound. For that reason, can’t go wrong with either team, but I’m sticking with my preseason pick. Nauset, 28-21.

The Skinny: Abington can clinch the South Shore League title with a win over the Vikings, and are the favorites here behind a dynamic offense led by Babila Fonkem, Pat Dwyer and Brandon Cawley. Defensively, the Green Wave are allowing just under seven points a game the last three weeks, but they figure to have their hands full trying to slow down quarterback Andrew Benson in the option game.

Barboza: I’m going to mention Brandon Cawley’s name again just because the other night on Twitter he’s said I only mention the running backs. JK guys, JK. Abington, 32-24.

Hall: If this is truly Abington coach Jim Kelliher’s last season, then you can’t find a more fitting farewell. Abington, 31-20.

The Skinny: Is the clock about to strike midnight on Sharon? The Eagles remain unbeaten in the Hockomock’s Davenport division, but still have two big league games on the slate. The first one is Friday night, where they will attempt to contain tailback Kiivone Howard, who leads the Hockomock in rushing yardage (1,405).

Barboza: Foxborough quarterback Mike Slaby could be the difference-maker. Foxborough, 23-17.

Hall: What would a Hockomock League berth be without a little bit of mathematics? Foxborough, 21-7.

The Skinny: The Magicians claimed the CAL/NEC Tier 2 title last season with a senior-laden team. However, Marblehead’s in the mix again, even after a surprise loss to Salem a few weeks back. Meanwhile, the Panthers can clinch the league crown with a win on Saturday. The vaunted Panthers offense (averaging 38 points per game) and its rushing attack is closing in on 3,000 combined rushing yards on the season, led by a backfield of Brendan Flaherty and Kenny Pierce. The Magicians have relied on 1,000-yard passer Ian Maag (13 touchdowns) for a bulk of their offense.

Barboza: It’s been a nice bounce back run for Marblehead in an attempt at a repeat title, but, after all, this is the #yearofthepanther. Beverly, 28-14.

Hall: We love Jim Rudloff’s mind games as much as the next guy, but the Magicians are simply overmatched here against one of the state’s best rushing attacks. Beverly, 35-21.

The Skinny: As in each of the last three seasons, the Eastern Athletic Conference title will be determined in a matchup between the Shamrocks and Blue Raiders. Feehan came away with a decisive victory last year, but Somerset-Berkley is looking to lay claim to its second crown in the last three years. The Blue Raiders are led by a dynamic back field of Garrett Carlos and Mike Garrant, but they’ll encounter a physical Feehan front seven anchored by linemen Chris Barthe, Seamus Cuddy and Mitch Matrin.

Barboza: Nick Freitas escapes with EAC title No. 2. Somerset-Berkley, 27-20.

Hall: In terms of EAC supremacy, Feehan had the 2000’s. And now, Somerset has the 2010’s. Somerset-Berkley, 24-17.

The Skinny: The Panthers get back into Hockomock Kelley-Rex play after a startling loss to Taunton two weeks ago. If Franklin is to hold out hope of hanging around in the division race, they’ll need a win at Mansfield on Saturday. The Hornets are in a similar situation having dropped a close decision to North Attleborough two weeks ago. Look for the Hornets, led by Robbie Rapoza, to pound the ball on the ground and play some ball control in trying to keep the Panthers’ spread attack on the sideline. Franklin junior quarterback Nick Zucco has been a revelation this year, but the Panthers can also run the ball behind Kyle Finamore. The Mansfield defense has been bolstered by junior linebacker Alex Ruddy, who currently leads the team in tackles.

Barboza: As predicted a couple weeks back, the Kelley-Rex picture is only obfuscated more. Expect another wild finish. And, of course, another prediction my friends in Mansfield will relish. Franklin, 38-36.

Hall: If the Hornets can establish the run game early, they can do just enough to hold off a furious Franklin rally. Mansfield, 27-24.

The Skinny: Another pair of Kelley-Rex teams with one division loss meet in this rivalry game. The Red Rocketeers have cobbled together a three-game winning streak, following a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season. The better news yet for North in recent weeks its improving health, seeing several key contributors return to the field in recent weeks. Meanwhile, King Philip has rolled through Attleboro and Oliver Ames by a combined 75-21 margin since its loss to Mansfield.

Barboza: I find myself simply rooting for another chaotic finish to the Kelley-Rex division race, but I’m sticking with my preseason pick. KP, 24-21.

Hall: This is a new team with Sean Peters and Alex Jette both healthy. I’m looking at a return to early September form down the stretch for the Big Red. North, 30-23.

Recap: No. 25 Abington 34, Mashpee 7

October, 21, 2012

ABINGTON, Mass. –- In a matchup that was heralded to be a clash of the South Shore titans, the Green Wave crashed the Falcons’ chance to make it a joust early on, finishing with a final score of 34-7, the sole Mashpee score coming with less than two minutes to go in the match.

“I thought tonight’s defensive pressure was the best we had all year,” said Abington coach Jim Kelliher.

“I thought our defense picked up our intensity three-fold...The bad thing about that is that we’ll expect that for the next game and the next three games after that,” added Kelliher.

After winning the coin toss and getting a break on a short kick and penalty on Abington (7-0, 4-0 South Shore), Mashpee (4-3, 3-1) started from the Abington 42, but on the second play from scrimmage, a bad exchange led to a fumble which was covered by Abington’s Pat Dwyer at the Abington 44. Taking nearly four minutes to march 56 yards, Abington passed once, a 30-yard hookup from Brandon Cawley to Joe Buckley. The final play of the drive was a 2-yard bullying from Babila Fonkem with 5:26 left in the first quarter.

“I know that they’re (linemen) fighting hard so I just try to fight hard every time I get the ball,” said Fonkem. “They get me the initial yard so I just try to get what I can every time.”

Abington’s David Manzo recovered the kickoff after a fumble by Mashpee on its own 33. A flea flicker to Tim Ferguson became Ferguson’s first career touchdown for the Green Wave, with just 18 seconds ticked off the clock since first score.

The Falcons got good field position on the ensuing kickoff, but turned the ball over with 1:28 left in the quarter, producing only 2 plays with positive yardage on the drive. Abington slow-danced for the next seven minutes, driving 77 yards with only two passes -– the second a five-yard touchdown pass pulled in by Buckley over a Falcon defensive back.

“Nothing better than getting a pass from this kid,” Ferguson relayed motioning with his body towards Cawley. “You just got to go up and get it.”

Mashpee’s next possession lasted nearly three minutes and ended with a punt that was deflected by Manzo, going only 29 yards. Abington put on a two-minute drill, ending with Ferguson’s second TD of the game, a catch in the middle of the field and a foot race to the left pylon. He won, and made the game 26-0, where the score stood until Buckley made the final Abington score of the evening -- a 12-yard pass from Cawley with 5:25 left in the third.

Mashpee looked like they were making a march on the goal line late in the third, but a Ferguson interception at the two thwarted that effort, although Cody Bingham-Hendricks finally scatted 24 yards in the waning minutes to avoid the haunting of a scoreless game that he and his compatriots were favored to win based on previously defeated team’s schedules.

More Than a Game: With her sizeable winning from tonight’s 50/50 raffle, Suzanne Djusberg decided to divvy up her winnings between the Green Wave Booster Club and Abington assistant coach Matt Chirokas.

Chirokas, who suffers from leukemia, was released from the hospital just hours before kickoff; yet, he donned his surgical mask behind the end zone to watch his players, where he also participated under Kelliher’s tutelage. After the game was over, the Green Wave waded over to Chirokas and chanted around him.

“For this being the first game he actually attends [this year], I think it’s very fitting that we take control in first place of the league by ourselves,” said fullback and senior captain Jack Malafronte.

For the field to be in the condition that it was in today (playable), numerous folks from Abington came down to the Frolio Middle School field to ensure player safety.

“Over the past couple of days, people from the community came down to set the tarps up [on the field] and this morning they took them off. It’s just people like that make this football program great,” added Cawley.


MHS 0 0 0 7 --- 7
AHS 14 12 8 0 --- 34

First Quarter
A – Babila Fonkem 2 run (Joe Buckley pass from Tom Dwyer)
A – Tim Ferguson 33 pass from Brandon Cawley (Rush failed)

Second Quarter
A – Joe Buckley 5 pass from Cawley (Pass failed)
A – Ferguson 29 pass from Cawley (Rush failed)

Third Quarter
A – Buckley 12 pass from Cawley (Cawley rush)

Fourth Quarter
M – Cody Bingham-Hendricks 24 run (Chris Costa kick)

'Nuts and Bolts', one year later

October, 22, 2011
ROCKLAND, Mass. -- Sean Reilly was climbing the ladder to the rooftop of the press box at Rockland Memorial Stadium, where he and lifelong pal Kevin Whalen were to commentate tonight's heated rivalry matchup for Abington Community Access. And as usual, he couldn't resist an opportunity for self-awareness.

"All the nuts and bolts are tightened, right?" he shouted across the press box as he ascended the ladder.

"Yeah, well, most of them are up there," joked the scoreboard operator, pointing to the rooftop.

After all, it was a year ago this week that their hometown Abington Green Wave saw their 39-game home win streak snap to their archrivals a few miles down Route 139, the visiting Rockland Bulldogs pulling out a 21-12 win in a battle of unbeatens. Overshadowing the Bulldogs' come-from-behind win, though, was a controversial backwards pass committed by Rockland that was ruled an incompletion after an Abington player returned it to the house.

Had the play been called correctly, the Green Wave would have put the nails in the coffin. Instead, then-backup quarterback Ricky Witt heaved a 50-yard touchdown bomb to lead the Bulldogs to victory.

Visibly frustrated at the incompletion call, Whalen didn't just go unconscious -- he went dissociative. The result was 56 seconds of pure gold:

2010_1022_Abington_vs_Rockland_Touchdown_Nullified from Norm Caseley on Vimeo.

"You grow up in a town you're proud of like Abington, and not that it doesn't really matter, it's not like I live for football, but I try to make it about the kids as much as possible," Whalen said. "And every now and then, you have one of those out-of-body experiences."

This is nothing new, Whalen notes. He brings up a 2005 Super Bowl game between the Green Wave and Archbishop Williams -- "one of the best games in football history" he boasts -- and laughs reminiscing about getting into a heated argument with the Bishops' coordinators during the live broadcast.

Even still, nobody could have predicted the aftermath that followed. Within days, the clip was getting replay all over the local Boston media sites. Within weeks, the clip had gone nationwide, with two million views on YouTube, regular drops on the sports radio airwaves, and spots on Comedy Central, NBC, Yahoo! Sports and ESPN's "SportsNation".

Put it this way: Celtics basketball has forever had "Havlicek stole the ball". Now, Massachusetts high school sports has "Nuts and bolts, we got screwed."

"It went around our town like no time. That was incredible," said senior captain Cejay Suarez. "It was the funniest thing I've ever heard. I laughed for days."

Said junior captain and linebacker Pat Dwyer, "It took on a life of its own. Watching our games on cable TV is awesome, it's like ESPN. I saw the clip online before it went on TV. Seeing myself on TV was ridiculous. It's bittersweet though, you know what I mean? It's weird that it picked up so much traction."

Heck, as recently as last Tuesday, Suarez and Dwyer found the clip while browsing Google during business class, and Suarez said "It fired me up right from the beginning.

"It got me fired up for practice that day," he said. "[And] I laughed for days. It was hilarious."

How did their families take it? Laughed Whalen, "They're used to it. They see me in front of the TV watching the Pats every Sunday, so..."

Within the Abington sphere, Reilly and Whalen are beloved. Classmates at Abington High who have been calling Green Wave games together off and on since 1988, they are beloved as much for the indiscriminate passion on two yard and 50-yard gains alike, as much as their penchant for breaking all the cardinal rules -- high-fives, cheering, and all in all blatant homerism that they make little effort to hide.

Both hold down day jobs -- Reilly is a lawyer in town, while Whalen is the Director of Administration and Finance with the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation. On Friday nights, Green Wave football is their animal; and for the players, there's nothing better.

"Most towns don't have two announcers that enjoy going to the games, calling the games [as much as they do]," Suarez said. "They get just as fired up as those kids do, and that's the best feeling. The best feeling is when you're on a Wednesday night, to go watch that game [on the local cable access channel], and they're sitting there in the freezing cold weather, down in Mashpee, and they're calling the game for you. There's nothing better."

But it almost came to an end. Last November, the day before Thanksgiving, Reilly and Whalen appeared on 98.5 The Sports Hub to talk about the call, how they wouldn't change "anything we do", and the fame they'd received locally since that night. During the interview, they also revealed that the next day's game, the 100th installment of the Green Wave's Thanksgiving Day rivalry with Whitman-Hanson, would be their last.

Going out on top? Seriously? First Barry Sanders, now this?

That didn't last long.

"I talked to few kids," Whalen said. "A couple of kids really asked us to come back. I was working a couple of jobs last year, so that kinda changed my situation there a little. I think in the end it was, you know, coming back for the kids. We're kind of a tradition in Abington. A couple families, you know, were really asking us to come back. So, maybe in a couple of years."


So how did the fellas do in their encore, a last-second 14-10 Abington win?

Reilly and Whalen started off calmly -- "Maybe we'll do something stupid to get on your website," joked Reilly to an ESPNBoston reporter on the roof.

But like a high-priced sports car, Whalen went from 0 to 60 in no time, peeved by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Green Wave inside the red zone early in the second quarter.

"What a joke," Whalen grunted repeatedly, waving his arms for added effect.

Two plays later, Rockland's Tyler Eaton dove over the near left pylon from eight yards out to make it 10-0, and Whalen -- still peeved about the previous call -- began shouting "Where's the holding penalty? That's awful."

A few moments later, Reilly uttered, "It's the second quarter and Kevin's already mad. Turn up you television, sports fans, this could get interesting."

In the third quarter, Whalen goes old school. Abington quarterback Brandon Cawley heaves up a fade to the middle of the end zone, and receiver Joe Buckley out-jumps two defenders to come out with it, stirring Whalen to scream at the top of his lungs, "Touchdown, Manamooskegan!"

(For those keeping score at home, that's "land of many beavers", a nickname bestowed upon the town centuries ago by the Native Americans)

On the ensuing point-after pass to Buckley, another jump-ball that cut Rockland's lead to 10-8, Whalen again screams, "P.A.T., Manamooskegan!" and high-fives Reilly up high, then down low.

And like that, it was off to the races.

Good to know all that fame hasn't gotten to the guys' heads.