Boston High School: Pat Graham

Recap: Franklin 3, Mansfield 2

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
12:57
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - It had not been his strongest game of the season, but in the final minute with his team leading by just a single goal, Franklin senior goalie Devon Maloof made the play that saved the game. His instant reaction allowed him to get a toe to a blast from the point and preserve the Franklin lead.

“He had a huge save at the end,” said Mansfield head coach Rick Anastos about Maloof. “That kick-out save…that was a goal from where we were.”

The save helped Franklin (7-4-1, 5-0-1) hold on for a 3-2 victory over the Hornets (9-2-1, 6-1-1) on Wednesday night in front of a packed house at the Foxboro Sports Center.

The win propels the Panthers to the top of the Kelley-Rex division and a step closer to another Hockomock League title.

Franklin head coach Chris Spillane reflected, “That’s what we expected for it to be -- a rough, physical game that’s back-and-forth. I’m glad to get this one behind us. It’s Mansfield-Franklin, that’s a typical game.”

He added, “You hate to say that it’s the one that you mark at the beginning of the season but we’ve been looking at it for a while and we’re glad to have it behind us and that it ended up in our favor.

The Panthers looked shaky in the opening couple of shifts, but Mansfield penalties allowed Franklin to settle down on the power play and led to dominating first period in which Franklin outshot the Hornets 15-4.

Senior Vince Geromini opened the scoring for Franklin with 7:28 remaining in the first period. He was on hand to follow up after Troy Donahue drove to the net and had his shot saved by Mansfield goalie Dan Moyer. Nearly two minutes later, Franklin scored again and this time on the power play (Mansfield took four first period penalties). Junior Alec Borkowski buried the shot that doubled the lead.

“The first couple of shifts were pretty shaky, but the rest of the first period we pretty much dominated and I think it was our speed causing them to take penalties,” said Spillane.

Anastos could only shake his head at the penalties that allowed Franklin to gain momentum in the first period.

“Penalties kill us,” he insisted. “You can’t give them power plays; you can’t give a good team the opportunity to score. They only scored one power play goal, but you can’t give them that many chances.”

In the second period, Anastos got the reaction that he was looking for from his team. The Hornets bounced back and started hitting in the second and gained the momentum. Junior defenseman Evan Kershaw made it a game again with a blast from the point that eluded Maloof and made it 2-1. Sophomore Pat Graham tied it with 2:59 left in the period on a low shot to the near post on a two on one.

“I think we got a little comfortable with a two-goal lead coming out in the second period and they jumped on it,” explained Spillane. “They were aggressive, they had a two-man forecheck, and they were throwing pucks at the net and they went in.”

The Hornets were not level for long though as a minute after Graham’s goal, Franklin broke for a three-on-one, odd-man rush. Geromini turned provider with a perfectly placed pass across the crease for Donahue to tap in for what turned out to be the game-winner.

Anastos noted, “We let up a three on one just a minute after tying the game and that killed us. It was a sinker. They won the first period, we won the second period, and it was a tie in the third period -- they just got one more goal.”

Spillane praised his senior leadership for coming up big in a huge rivalry game, especially after Mansfield seemed on the verge of taking control.

“[Mansfield was] building on it and they had all the momentum so it was good,” he said. “Our seniors stepped up today. Vince Geromini had a goal and an assist and then Troy [Donahue] had a nice goal. We need those guys.”

The second and third periods were evenly matched and both goalies came up with big saves. Moyer stuffed Franklin’s leading scorer Ryan Spillane from point-blank range and then just a minute later Maloof did the same to Billy Grant. Then with a minute to go, Maloof pulled off his kick save and set off celebrations on the Franklin bench.

Unfortunately, the celebrations turned into more with both teams coming together against the far boards after the final whistle and having to be separated by coaches and officials. The referees pushed both teams off the ice and scrapped the traditional postgame handshake to avoid further trouble.

Super Silva clinches playoffs for Dracut

November, 25, 2010
11/25/10
4:38
PM ET
METHUEN, Mass. -- No one contributed more to Dracut’s 19-12 triumph over Methuen on Thanksgiving Day than senior quarterback Matt Silva.

Silva threw two touchdown passes, ran for another, made an extra-point attempt and delivered a 71-yard punt late in the fourth quarter, when the Middies were protecting a seven-point lead.

The victory improved Dracut’s record to 8-3 and earned the Middies a Division 2 playoff berth. Dracut will face Reading, champion of the Middlesex League, on Tuesday night. Reading earned a Super Bowl berth by beating Dracut 20-6 in the playoffs last season.

“This feels great,” Silva said “Everyone was doubting us, saying we didn’t have a lot coming back and that Methuen was at the top of the league this year. We showed we have the players and the coaches. We’re going back to the playoffs.”

It was a 12-12 game until Silva scored on a 2-yard run with 8:22 to play. The TD was set up by a 47-yard pass from Silva to Keith Hamel down the left sideline and came two plays after Dracut’s Greg Brody intercepted a Cal Carroll pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

Dracut trailed 12-6 at halftime, but tied the game on a broken play on its first second-half possession. Silva picked up a bad snap and was nearly sacked before he tossed the ball to Chris Malonis near the right sideline. Malonis outran the Methuen defense for a 57-yard TD.

“We didn’t really expect it to go like that,” Malonis said. “I was supposed to get the ball a lot earlier. It worked out, so it’s all good.”

Malonis, who also caught a 60-yard TD pass in the first quarter, has 20 touchdown receptions this season.

Methuen, which was seeking its first Merrimack Valley Conference championship since 1992, completed its season with a 9-2 record.

“Obviously the kid Silva made some plays,” Methuen coach Pat Graham said. “We didn’t move the ball great offensively today and we ended up with three turnovers – that hurt us. Give them some credit too. They do some pretty good things on defense.

“I thought we should have made a lot of plays earlier that we didn’t. We didn’t play well on special teams today and we had a couple breakdowns (defensively) that shouldn’t have happened.”

“It’s a special group of kids and I feel bad for them that they didn’t get this win today. They had extremely good character, they played hard and they had a great season. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t get it done today and go to the playoffs.”

Methuen made it a 6-6 game when Ryan Savastano scored on a 47-yard run with 6:01 left in the second quarter.

The Rangers took a 12-6 lead when Carroll completed a 58-yard TD pass to Eric Lacroix with 1:12 left in the half. It was his 19th touchdown pass of the season.

“I felt OK at halftime,” Dracut coach Jason Houston said. “We just had to start playing Dracut football.”

Silva completed nine of 16 passes for 216 yards in the victory, which earned Dracut its third straight Merrimack Valley Conference title. He has thrown 24 touchdown passes and run for 12 more scores this season.

“He’s a playmaker, and he made some plays today,” Houston said. “Haven’t had a chance to see a lot of Reading this year, but we’re looking forward to it.”

DRACUT 19, NO. 6 METHUEN 12

DRA 6 0 6 7 --- 19
MET 0 12 0 0 --- 12

1st quarter
D – Chris Malonis 60 pass from Matt Silva (kick blocked)

2nd quarter
M – Ryan Savastano 47 run (kick failed)
M – Eric Lacroix 58 pass from Cal Carroll (kick failed)

3rd quarter
D – Malonis 57 pass from Silva (kick blocked)

4th quarter
D – Silva 2 run (Silva kick)

Power, pizzazz in the trenches at Methuen

November, 24, 2010
11/24/10
10:54
PM ET
METHUEN, Mass. -- Together, they call themselves simply "The Core". Separate, they go by an assortment of names, from Big Steve to Zaz to Stapes or just plain old Big Ugly.

Separate, they are a broad spectrum of personalities around the Methuen High locker room. Some, like brothers Sean and Matt Whittaker, are economic with their words and sit quietly in the moments before kickoff. Others, like 6-foot-4 senior left tackle Steve DiZazzo, are colorful with their language, and are running around the locker room banging heads.

DiZazzo on his pregame routine: "I'm reminding everyone it's 44 minutes of Ranger football, and nobody else's. I'm jumping around, making sure everybody's into it. This is what I live for."

On his liberal application of eye-blackener: "Black paint all over...I do the Ray Lewis, all around."

On this week's atmosphere, leading up to tomorrow's showdown with Dracut for the Merrimack Valley Small title: "I have every Al Bundy coming up to me this week. My dad always tells me, I'm living every high school football player's dream."

Still others, like 6-foot-4, 300-pound senior left guard Dan Cormier, are known to channel their inner Tom Dempsey. After a Methuen touchdown, Cormier hops over to the sideline to switch his right foot into a vintage, solid-black cleat with the toe squared off. The former soccer player then rumbles straightforward on the ensuing kickoff and blasts the ball with a toe kick, with plenty of air, usually all the way into the end zone.

"I must have been dying out there in soccer," Cormier jokes. "But my parents found this online, ordered it, and I've been using it ever since...Because I kick straight on, this works better than a regular curve."

Together, though, they are the biggest reason for the Rangers' 9-1 record headed into the winner-take-all showdown with their archrival. All but one, center Matt Whittaker, are seniors and two-year starters in the trenches; and with former Lowell High coach Al Pare now on head coach Pat Graham's staff, the Rangers have perfected a zone-blocking scheme that emphasizes double-teams and chip blocks to get diminutive junior running back Ryan Savastano up to the second level. With Sean Whittaker and Tyler Bolduc on the right, along with Cormier and DiZazzo on the left and tight end James Staples providing extra coverage in the run game, it's been a flawless run so far.

So much so, even star quarterback Cal Carroll (19 total touchdowns) admits, "Sometimes I feel like me and Ryan are just products of them."

The master stroke may have come in week five, against a Chelmsford squad that to that point in the season had allowed a mere seven points. Much preseason hype had been made of the Lions' linebacking corps led by Zach Hayes and Tim Joy; but with a no-huddle tempo, and flawless technique up front, the Rangers accumulated over 300 yards on the ground. Those linebackers often found a defensive lineman planted right into them, and Carroll -- with his left (non-throwing) thumb in a cast -- called inside zone runs to him and Savastano almost exclusively. Methuen won, 31-21; so far, only No. 25 Plymouth North has been the only team to not only defeat them, but hold the Rangers to a touchdown.

"I keep telling them week after week, you don't go anywhere unless we move the football," Pare said. "It's great to be around these kids. They're tough kids."

And Pare, who thinks this may be his last year coaching after 40 years around the area, keeps it just as light-hearted. Every week, a bone with a chain attached is handed out to the best performing lineman -- "I call it my dead grandmother's thigh," he jokes -- and the award, among other things, is fully embraced.

"I think it's good to have such personalities," said head coach Pat Graham, himself a former lineman at Central Connecticut State. "Usually they're underappreciated, but they take alot of pride in what they do. Their leadership is unbelievable. They've always been in the weight room, always been lifting since freshman year, and it's not like they're rah-rah in practice. They're focused, they're a tight group, they support each other, and I think the best quality about them is their work ethic."

Two years ago, on their home grass at Nicholson Stadium, the Rangers saw their program take a turn for the better when they upset the heavily-favored Dracut Middies on Thanksgiving. The Middies, led by Gatorade Player of the Year Matt Grimard, went on to win the Division 1A Super Bowl in dominant fashion. Now, with as many as 8,000 expected to show at Nicholson, The Core can be the first Methuen squad since 1992 to be playing in the postseason.

Think they're fired up?

"Two years ago, playing on this field, it was just nuts," Sean Whittaker said. "I can't wait for another experience like that. It's going to be crazy, I can't wait."

Carroll leads No. 7 Methuen to 8th straight 'W'

November, 6, 2010
11/06/10
1:21
AM ET
LAWRENCE, Mass. -- Against Central Catholic, Cal Carroll found yet another way to impact a game. And this time, Methuen’s dual-threat quarterback wasn’t even on the field.

With eight and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, Central Catholic scored on a two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Matt McDermott and trailed, 17-16. Conventional wisdom would have told Raiders coach Chuck Adamopoulos to tie the game with an extra point. But across the field, on the opposing sideline, Carroll loomed.

"I wanted to go for two because I thought our best chance to win the game was to win in regulation," Adamopoulos said. "I didn’t want to have to defend Carroll in overtime."

The Raiders’ two-point try failed and left them trying to catch up for the remainder of a wild fourth quarter that ended with Methuen taking its eighth straight win, 24-22.

"It’s awesome," said Carroll. "Methuen hasn’t been 8-0 in the [Merrimack Valley Conference] in a long time…To be on top feels great."

After Central Catholic’s failed conversion, Carroll made the Raiders’ comeback climb even tougher. He capped a 67-yard drive by hitting Bobby Cole on a 35-yard touchdown pass to make the score 24-16.

Down eight, Central Catholic had one last scoring drive left in them. The second half of the Raiders’ two-headed quarterback attack, Ben Onett (5-11, 65 yards), found Xavier Peralta (4 rec., 86 yards) in the end zone for a 23-yard score with 1:55 left.

Facing a two-point deficit, Adamopoulos was forced to go for two points again. The second try was similarly unsuccessful as the snap sailed over the head of running back Santino Brancato, forcing Brancato (10 carries, 45 yards) to fall on the ball for a loss.

Cole recovered the ensuing Central Catholic onside kick attempt to seal the Methuen victory.

It was a dramatic end to a firework-filled fourth quarter dominated by Carroll. He finished the game with a touchdown and 123 yards rushing on 28 carries, and 6-15 passing for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Both his touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter, and came with the Rangers’ leading receiver, Raudy Minaya, out of the game. Minaya left with a right knee injury suffered on a punt return late in the second quarter. He did not return.

Before Carroll’s touchdown pass to Cole, he started the fourth quarter by rolling out to his right to find Corey Shepherd for a 42-yard score. Shepherd was one of four Rangers receivers to catch a pass.

"Down the stretch everyone’s taking away our run," said Methuen coach Patrick Graham, who also watched his running back Ryan Savastano rush for 123 yards on 16 carries. "So we’re going to have to throw and [Carroll] has done a good job."

Methuen went into the half with a 10-0 lead after a Carroll one-yard touchdown plunge and an Eric Lacroix 29-yard field goal, but Central Catholic got those points back in the third quarter thanks to Cam Walsh.

Walsh kicked a 30-yard field goal to bring the Raiders within a touchdown of Methuen. Just over three minutes later, on Central Catholic’s next drive, Walsh (4 carries, 87 yards) took a handoff, burst through the line of scrimmage and sprinted 78 yards for the game-tying score.

Methuen answered with Shepherd’s touchdown catch and Central Catholic was left to catch up from there after McDermott (5-10, 58 yards passing) scored from two yards out and the following two-point try failed.

"It’s big," said Graham of the win. "There’s a lot of Methuen kids [on Central Catholic]. They grew up with those kids. They grew up playing with them in Pop Warner and other sports. When you lose to someone you don’t know, it doesn’t hurt as bad as when you lose to someone you do know."

Other notes:

- Methuen called up sophomore junior varsity center Dicky Aziz to play in place of starter Matt Whittaker, who missed the game with an injury. He fit into the Rangers zone blocking scheme just fine, helping to pave the way for 268 yards rushing. He also was on point with his shotgun snaps, as the Rangers’ offense almost exclusively uses the shotgun.

“[Aziz] did an excellent job,” said Carroll. “His snaps were all on target, and most of all he did a great job double teaming with our guards. That’s great to see we can trust him.”

- Methuen was unsure if Minaya would miss future games because of his injury. He was on crutches on the sidelines for the entire second half.

- This was Methuen’s third straight win over Central Catholic.

- Central Catholic continued to platoon quarterbacks as McDermott and Onett took the snaps on every other series.

- The national anthem was performed by six-year-old Olivia DiFiore, daughter of Raiders assistant coach Ernie DiFiore.


METHUEN 24, CENTRAL CATHOLIC 22

MET (8-1) 0 10 0 14 --- 24
CEN (6-3) 0 0 10 12 –-- 22

Second quarter
M – Lacroix 29 kick
M – Carroll 1 run (Lacroix kick)

Third quarter
C – Walsh 30 kick
C – Walsh 78 run (Walsh kick)

Fourth quarter
M – Carroll 42 pass to Shepard (Lacroix kick)
C – McDermott 2 run (run failed)
M – Carroll 35 pass to Cole (Lacroix kick)
C – Onett 23 pass to Peralta (run failed)

What We Learned: Week 5

October, 11, 2010
10/11/10
2:14
PM ET





Another Monday, another wrap up of another stellar week of football. Here's a look back at the weekend that was, and what we've learned...

METHUEN'S OFFENSIVE LINE IS GOOD. LIKE, '97 BRONCOS GOOD.
"Best offensive line in the state," repeated Ryan Savastano to reporters, after marching his Methuen Rangers teammates to a 31-21 win over Chelmsford, to the tune of 223 yards on 32 carries.

Sometimes the o-line shoutouts can be a forced axiom grilled into a kid's head from the coaching staff -- mention the line, mention the line! -- but in Methuen's case, these are far from canned quotes.

With quarterback Cal Carroll treading carefully with a hairline fracture on his left (non-throwing) thumb, the Rangers dialed up inside zone runs almost exclusively against their Merrimack Valley Large counterparts. The gameplan was methodical and pretty simplistic -- Savastano zone left, Savastano zone right, Carroll keeper, vertical pass, rinse and repeat -- and yet Chelmsford's vaunted defense, hailed by some as one of the state's best, struggled all night to put a helmet on the ball carrier on running plays.

Led by Steve DiZazzo and Dan Cormier on the left, and Sean Whittaker on the right, the senior-laden line has excelled in a zone-blocking scheme. With a linebacking corps as active at Chelmsford's, led by Zach Hayes and monster middleman Tim Joy, the Rangers often chipped off double-team blocks and accelerated downhill to drive the outside shoulder of a linebacker or defensive back away from the play. Sometimes, though, they simply pushed back the defensive linemen right into linebackers.

"I thought the o-line got some great push," Methuen head coach Pat Graham said. "It was probably tough for Tim (Joy), with the d-linemen getting knocked back into him a little bit, I'm sure it was tough for him to try and find the running back. Ryan's just a little guy, he's behind all those big guys, it's just tough to find him sometimes. But the big thing is our o-line got a great push up front."

Graham, one of the area's best coaching minds, has kept his quotes pretty vanilla and straightforward so far this season, to keep his players grounded and focused. But after a win as impressive as last Friday's, even Graham has to let out a sigh and a smile.

"Chelmsford's one of the best teams, year in and year out, in the state," he beamed. "It's a great feeling."

...ALL OF WHICH MAKES PLYMOUTH NORTH'S WEEK ONE WIN OVER THE RANGERS THAT MUCH MORE IMPRESSIVE
The Eagles, led by ice-in-his-veins running back Matt Walsh, are essentially a muffed two-point conversion attempt from being 4-1 and an ESPNBoston Top 25 team. In Week One, North held the Rangers to just one touchdown, and escaped with a 13-7 win thanks to a 70-yard Walsh touchdown run with four minutes and change to go.

Last Friday, it was Cody Merritt providing the spark, scoring three times (two rushing, one receiving) to lead the Eagles to an impressive 20-7 win over Bridgewater-Raynham.

Week by week, as the Rangers continue to pound away at the MVC's best and brightest, that is looking more and more intriguing.

JUST HOW GOOD IS ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY?
The No. 3 Pioneers lambasted cross-town rival Shrewsbury High, 52-7, their second straight week hanging half-a-hundred on the opposition. That brings their scoring margin through five games to 221-34, with a state-best average of 44.2 points per game.

A quick look inside the numbers:
  • Yards per game: 372.6
  • Yards allowed per game: 243
  • Points allowed per game: 6.8
  • Dan Light, Sr. QB: 48 carries, 426 yards, 8 TD; 44 of 77 passing, 935 yards, 15 TD, 3 INT
  • Richard Rodgers, Sr. WR/DE: 18 catches, 372 yards, 7 TD; 5 sacks

In Week Two, the Pioneers pasted Longmeadow, 37-8; the Lancers visited Catholic Memorial last Friday and beat them on a last-second field goal, 27-26. Two weeks ago, St. John's clobbered Fitchburg, 56-12, in the rain; last Friday, the Red Raiders almost beat Brockton, faltering in the fourth quarter.

We'll see just how good the Pioneers are this Saturday, when they travel to St. John's Prep to take on the No. 16 Eagles, and on October 30, when they host No. 1 Xaverian.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Akin to Aretha Franklin, or that old Adam Sandler album skit, Norton is just asking for a little of it these days.

"We didn’t get shown much respect in our league and everyone thought Westwood was going to beat us," Lancers junior running back Zach Schweiger told correspondent Phil Perry on Friday. "Everyone thought their big running back [Sean Amaru] was going to do a whole bunch against us but we shut him down and executed on offense."

With a convincing 28-6 win over Westwood, the Lancers have certainly earned it, sitting at 5-0 and the prohibitive favorites to win the Tri-Valley League.

Norton stands a game ahead of Holliston, Medway and Westwood (all 4-1). Perhaps, more importantly, the Lancers now have recorded wins over Medway and Westwood with only an Oct. 22 date with the Panthers remaining on their slate.

ROUGH AND TUMBLE SOUTH SHORE
Speaking of potential Division IIIA playoff scenarios, it’s anybody’s guess which team will survive what has shaped up to be a very tough South Shore League.

Cohasset (5-0) remained unbeaten against another formerly unbeaten squad in an upstart East Bridgewater team Friday night behind Thomas Flibotte’s 101 yards on 18 carries. Meanwhile, Rockland (28-0 win over Hull) and Abington (34-0 whitewashing of Carver) also improved to 5-0.

However, things at the top could sort themselves out pretty quickly as the Skippers host Rockland this weekend (Friday, 6 p.m.) and the Green Wave travels for a tough road game at Masphee (4-1, 1-1) Friday at 7 p.m.

All will be appointment viewing.

DOUBLE DRAGONS
The play of Duxbury quarterbacks Matt O’Keefe and Kane Haffey puts head coach Dave Maimaron in an enviable position every weekend.

Typically, O’Keefe and Haffey split time under center. They have combined for a .567 completion percentage and have both had success moving the ball down the field. On the season, O’Keefe has completed 31 of 48 pass attempts for 449 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. Haffey has gone 37-of-72 for 490 yards, five touchdowns and one pick.

But Maimaron’s depth at quarterback only helps when the injury bug comes calling.

When it became apparent Haffey wasn’t going to be able to go in Friday’s game at Quincy, there was no sweat calling upon O’Keefe to carry the load. The junior responded with a 242-passing yard performance and accounting for all of the Dragons’ five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing).

HEAD OF THE CLASS
VALVOLINE PEAK PERFORMER OF THE WEEK: TYLER COPPOLA, SR. RB/DB, ST. JOHN'S PREP

What else is there to say after a performance as dynamic as Coppola's? Last Saturday against visiting Mount St. Joseph of Baltimore, the senior carried 19 times for 338 yards and five touchdowns, with all five of his scores coming on runs of 42 yards or more. Adding in return yardage, he finished the day with 473 all-purpose yards and a long ride home for the visiting Gaels. Yep, not a whole lot of hyperbole needed after this one, but with a day like that, credit is due to the Eagles' offensive line led by Nathan Cyr.

THE CLASSMATES
Brian Bourque, Sr. QB, Reading - He totaled 183 yards of offense (135 passing) and four touchdowns as the Rockets cruised to a 42-0 beatdown of Wakefield.

Jonathan DiBiaso, Jr. QB, Everett - The coach's son threw for six touchdown passes in the first half of a 42-7 win over Taunton, breaking two school records in the process -- passing touchdowns in a game and one half (himself, two weeks ago against Barnstable), and career touchdown passes (now at 34, breaking Matt Nuzzo's mark of 31 set earlier this millennium).

Chris Coady, Jr. RB/LB, BB&N - Coady was omnipresent in the Knights' 33-28 win over Governor's Academy. He carried the ball 18 times for 86 yards and a score; caught three passes for 63 yards and a second score; made seven tackles on defense; and returned an interception to the house for a third and final score.

Dylan Colarusso, Sr. RB, Weymouth - The hard-nosed Colarusso bulldozed his way to 220 rushing yards and two touchdowns as the Wildcats rolled to a 43-0 shutout of Dedham.

Alex Furtado, Sr. RB, Archbishop Williams - Furtado led the Bishops with 236 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries in a 32-22 win over Whittier Tech.

Matt O'Keefe, Jr. QB, Duxbury - With injured quarterback Kane Haffey on the mend, O'Keefe stepped up and threw for 237 yards and five scores (four passing, one rushing) in the Green Dragons' 35-7 win over Quincy.

Trevon Offley, Sr. RB, Brockton - The hard-running Offley ran for 217 yards and two scores in the Boxers' 27-20 win over regional rival Fitchburg.

Nate Robitaille, Sr. QB, Attleboro - Another week, more heroics. This time, he carried the ball seven times for 132 yards and a score; and completed 10 of 26 passes for 178 yards and two scores, including the game-winner with time expired, as the Blue Bombardiers downed Foxborough, 26-24.

Ryan Savastano, Jr. RB, Methuen - The diminutive Savastano carried the ball 32 times for 223 yards and two touchdowns in the Rangers' 31-21 win over Chelmsford.

Matt Silva, Sr. QB, Dracut - In yet another shootout, this time a 45-35 win over Lowell and old coach Jeff Moore, Silva threw for 171 yards and two scores, and ran for 213 more and a third score.

Kenny Woods and Troy Salvatore, Sr. RB's, Walpole - The two combined for 325 yards rushing and five touchdowns in the Rebels' 34-21 win over Braintree.

Statement night for Carroll, Savastano

October, 9, 2010
10/09/10
12:21
AM ET



METHUEN, Mass. -- Cal Carroll checked in with Dr. David St. Pierre at his Danvers office last Monday and got the OK to lead his No. 11 Methuen Rangers tonight at home against No. 10 Chelmsford. It was a hairline fracture to his left thumb (non-throwing), suffered in Saturday's win over Lowell, but if he treaded carefully with his heavily-wrapped cast, he'd be healed in three weeks.

Thumbs up or down, though, St. Pierre could probably guess what the reaction would have been.

"God, you'd have to chain him inside his house to keep him from playing," running back Ryan Savastano said of Carroll. "He plays hurt, he plays whenever he can...he loves this sport. Nothing can keep him away from it."

Yet not even Chelmsford's stalwart defense, led by a trio of fierce linebackers and allowing just seven points a game, could keep these guys chained down -- least not tonight. The gameplan didn't deviate an inch in spite of the injury, the Rangers line plowed away, and Carroll kept it steady all night -- inside zone left, inside zone right, keeper here or there -- as they took down the Lions, 31-21, before a capacity crowd at Nicholson Stadium.

"They caught on, I thought they were going to shut us down fast," said Savastano (32 carries, 221 yards, TD) of the game plan. "But we still put it to them. We drove it right up the hole."

The diminutive Savastano ended up shouldering the bulk of the load, repeatedly taking zone read handoffs from Carroll and darting between and around his linemen as they repeatedly drove Chelmsford linemen off the ball -- sometimes straght into their linebackers -- with a surgical zone-blocking scheme. But Methuen head coach Pat Graham insists that wasn't by design.

"I think if the reads were there, he (Carroll) would have kept it," Graham said. "He wanted to run the ball. He's not that type of kid. At the end of the game, we told him to hold the ball, to hand the ball off, and he didn't want to do that. He's not that type of guy, if the read's there, he's not a selfish kid but he wants the ball in his hand."

Carroll admitted there was little pain tonight, despite the repeated dives through the middle of the line and ensuing pile-ups.

"Throwing passes, I kinda have to fiddle with the ball a little more, try to find the right grip with this thing (cast) on," said Carroll, who had a seven-yard touchdown pass to his favorite target Raudy Minaya in the third quarter. "Running up the middle, I actually had to use this (right) hand to cover it up, usually I like to use my left to stiff-arm."

He then added, laughing, "I didn't fumble tonight, so that's a plus."

After a scoreless first quarter that saw Chelmsford feature back Joe Gennaro leave the game following a collision with Methuen linebacker Mike Harper (he returned in the second half), the Rangers (4-1, 3-0 MVC) took the initial lead when Carroll plunged in from three yards out and Eric LaCroix split the uprights on the point after. Savastano shouldered most of the load on the drive, carrying four times for 24 yards, and that became a reoccurring theme throughout the night.

Methuen's next scoring drive was more of the same, with Savastano eating up most of the yards of shifty scampers up the middle and Carroll scoring from a yard out on fourth and goal on the second half's opening drive. But the Lions responded immediately with an 85-yard pass from A.J. Rotella (14 of 24, 269 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) to Colby Emanouil. A muffed kickoff return gave Chelmsford (4-1, 2-1) a starting drive at their own 11, but on the second play Rotella found Emanouil with an underthrown deep ball in double coverage. But Emanouil, facing his quarterback, faked with his shoulder to his left and burst to his right, going unscathed the final 60 yards to paydirt.

In the final minutes of the third, the Methuen defense came alive. First, LaCroix came up with his second pick of the night on Rotella, setting up Carroll's seven-yard touchdown pass to Minaya. On Chelmsford's next possession, junior linebacker Kevin Nickerson ripped the ball out of Gennaro's hands as the senior pushed the pile for extra yardage, setting up a 22-yard LaCroix field goal. Savastano then made it 31-14 with a 12-yard scamper into the end zone, preceded by a 30-yard strike from Carroll to Kevin Higgins.

"We knew we wanted to be physical with them," said LaCroix, who also picked off Rotella to end the first half. "People have said the secondary was our weakness, and we've been using that as momentum all year. I'm glad the secondary stepped up tonight. Hopefully they start realizing we're not a weakness, that we're a strength."

METHUEN 31, CHELMSFORD 21

CHE 0 6 8 7 --- 21
MET 0 7 14 10 --- 31

Second Quarter
M - Cal Carroll 3 run (Eric LaCroix kick) 6:46
C - Anthony Andre 18 pass from AJ Rotella (kick blocked) 4:12

Third Quarter
M - Carroll 1 run (LaCroix kick) 8:25
C - Colby Emanouil 85 pass from Rotella (Pat McLaughlin pass from Rotella) 7:12
M - Raudy Minaya 7 pass from Carroll (LaCroix kick) 3:28

Fourth Quarter
M - LaCroix 22 field goal 7:41
M - Savastano 12 run (LaCroix kick) 5:29
C - Eddie Sheridan 90 kickoff return (Charlie Calenda kick) 5:13

A view from No. 11 Methuen

October, 7, 2010
10/07/10
8:16
PM ET
Correspondent Neil Carroll talked to Methuen quarterback Cal Carroll about Friday's matchup with No. 10 Chelmsford:



Methuen head coach Pat Graham broke down the game with Carroll:



Brendan Hall caught up with lineman Steve DiZazzo:



Carroll talked X's and O's with lineman Sean Whitaker:

What We Learned: Week 3

September, 27, 2010
9/27/10
12:06
PM ET


Now that the dust has settled on Week 3 of the Massachusetts football schedule, here’s what we learned from this weekend’s action:

OK, so we were slightly wrong about Xaverian...
Turns out our friends at the Boston newspapers had it right and we had this No. 1-2 thing in the wrong order. Xaverian, on the heels of a 23-20 double overtime instant classic over Brockton, is our new No. 1.

But differences aside, we've all agreed that, man oh man, last Saturday's showdown at the Hawk Bowl was one of the best in the history of the series. And these two teams almost always seem to fight to a seven-point win or four-point defensive stalemate.

The Boxers have plenty of hype this season, and rightly so with the likes of Miami-bound Albert Louis-Jean joined by fellow seniors Ralph Cherry, Paul Mroz, William Carruthers, Trevon Offley and Jacques Janvier. But the Hawks showed plenty of toughness in the win. Junior quarterback Chris Calvanese fought through cramps to orchestrate the comeback win, delivering the game-tying pass to Mike Muir -- who, a few plays prior, separated his shoulder and popped it back in.

Hey, who said Xaverian kids aren't tough?

...But when healthy, Brockton's Trevon Offley is a bull to take down
Mahar's Isaiah Jones put it ever so simply last week in our Q&A: "My coach always says squatting is going to do everything for you."

It's clear after last weekend that the 5-foot-6 Offley abides by a similar mantra. And, as All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew demonstrates every Sunday, leg power with a low center of gravity is a vicious combination.

From the second quarter on, Offley was just a chore to take down. Just when the Hawks had him for a 5-yard loss, he'd rip through an arm tackle, sidestep and shimmy his way back out to the line of scrimmage and then some. Other times, he'd keep his legs churning and drag the pile for an extra two or three yards. Offley, who carried the rock 19 times for 117 yards and all three of Brockton's scores in the loss, had been out with a shoulder injury since the first half of the Boxers' 16-6 season-opening win over Boston College High. But when he's healthy, he's as reliable as they come.

Methuen's offensive line kicks out and kicks off?
Methuen quarterback Cal Carroll emerged as one of the region's toughest playmakers with the Rangers' 36-26 stunner of No. 9 Billerica, but just as impressive was his offensive line. Since losing to Plymouth North, 13-7, in Week One, the guys in the trenches have been blowing teams off the ball. A week and a half ago, they took it to Malden's massive defensive line in the second half en route to a 42-12 win. Last Friday, the guys paved the way to over 200 yards on the ground against the Indians.

Led by seniors Steve DiZazzo and Dan Cormier on the left side, the Rangers' line might not always be the biggest, but they proved that when on the same page, they can bang heads with anybody on a given night.

"Our o-line, they're tough, man," senior wide receiver Raudy Minaya said. "They hit hard, they hit every single play, and we get extra yards. That last (Carroll carry), we got the first down with ease and Cal got the touchdown, that's because of our o-line. We never give up. Up seven, doesn't matter, we need to get up the field and get the first down, and we ended up getting a touchdown with it."

Said head coach Pat Graham, "Offensive line-wise, it was essential to control the clock and to be able to run the ball, and I think our kids did a good job with that."

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Cormier, by the way, has an impressive right leg. After Eric LaCroix kicks the extra point, the Rangers line up in a standard five-and-five kickoff formation, and some may be surprised to see Cormier raising his hand to the officials. But Cormier's got quite the boot, as he routinely blasted it to around the Billerica 5-yard line Friday night, with plenty of hang time.

Gloucester is really that good...so far, at least
Andover, coming off a 38-13 drubbing by the Fishermen, hung 39 points on MVC Small dark horse Tewksbury last Friday, which makes one wonder: just how good is Gloucester?

The Fish's defense, led by linebacker Chris Unis, was touted as a wagon before the team even started up their famous annual summer beach training regimen. The first unit hasn't allowed more than a score from opponents. Meanwhile, the Gilbert Brown-led offense has been explosive, averaging 38.3 points per game.

The rest of the Northeastern Conference, however, hasn't been sitting idly. Revere, led by bulldozing tailback Trae Weathers, is 3-0 for the first time in a while. Cross-town rivals Lynn Classical and Lynn English have also proven adequate to start the season, too.

We'll find out next month how capable the rest of the NEC Large contenders are of unseating the defending Division 1A Super Bowl champs, but for now we'll enjoy the ride.

Key EAC matchups could have bearing on December
Yeah, it’s a little premature, but we can’t help but wonder how a couple of this weekend’s Eastern Athletic Conference games might impact the long-term playoff picture in Division III.

There was a battle of unbeatens on Slocum Road in Dartmouth with Somerset traveling to meet Bishop Stang. The Blue Raiders rolled to a convincing 43-13 win over Stang, riding running backs Jaron Spear and Seth DeMello, who combined for five rushing touchdowns.

Meanwhile, heading north along Rte. 140, Martha’s Vineyard took care of business against Coyle-Cassidy. The Vineyarders escaped with a 41-32 win over the Warriors thanks to quarterback Randall Jette’s 192 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

While it appears that Somerset and the Vineyard control their own destinies in the EAC, we’ll see if Bishop Feehan has anything to say in the situation. It’s hard to figure what the Shamrocks have after losses to Attleboro, No. 18 North Attleborough and Abington — three quality teams. Feehan has two more games out conference, including next week’s out-of-state matchup with Barrington (R.I.), before hosting C-C.

“This is a tough division,” Somerset head coach Nick Freitas said Saturday after his team’s win.

He continued, “Hopefully, we just remain healthy. I think that will be the key.”

Blue Raiders quarterback Alex Ledoux left the game to an injury during the second quarter of Saturday’s game. At the time, Freitas didn’t have information on the severity of Ledoux’s injury.

What was clear was the Blue Raiders’ statement made on the field.

Playing with heavy hearts
Friday night’s Hockomock game between Attleboro and Franklin almost was for not.

Attleboro’s school community woke Friday morning to the news that senior Myles Brastow had died in a motorcycle accident. Hours before the game administrators and coached from the representative schools huddled to discuss whether it was appropriate to hold the game in light of Brastow’s death.

“We talked to the administrators and the coaches to see what they wanted to do with the game,” Franklin athletic director and head football coach Brad Sidwell said in a telephone interview on Sunday. “We certainly understood if they wanted to reschedule the game. But they felt that they wanted to try have a sense of normalcy and have the game like any other Friday night.”

The Blue Bombardiers paid homage to their fallen classmate with a dramatic 20-13 win over the Panthers. Attleboro was led by quarterback Nate Robitaille, who was cleared for the game after suffering a concussion during the previous game against King Philip, and running back J.J. Jolaoso. Robitaille march the Blue Bombardiers down the field on the game-winning drive inside the two-minute warning and Jolaoso punched in the winning score on a 7-yard touchdown run.

"It's a tribute to the kids," Attleboro head coach Kevin Deschenes told Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle after the game. "They had a rough day today, and for these young adults to bounce back after a very traumatic day, losing a friend, I thought they responded very well."

The Franklin football community was also dealing with the loss of one of its own. Longtime Panthers head coach Gerry Leone Sr. passed away last week

“He was a legendary part of Franklin football,” Sidwell said. “I know there are even some parents of current players who played for him and I know the lessons taught to them by coach Leone in high school are things that have stayed with them throughout their lives. That’s the kind of man he was.”

HEAD OF THE CLASS
VALVOLINE PEAK PERFORMER OF THE WEEK: ANTHONY KNIGHT, SR. RB, LAWRENCE ACADEMY
The North Carolina State-bound Knight kicked off the much-hyped Spartans’ ISL title defense in grand fashion, carrying the ball 14 times for 308 yards and two scores in a 36-14 defeat of Milton Academy. We’ve seen 300-yard games before from schoolboy athletes, but on just 14 carries? That averages out to 22 yards a carry, or essentially a first down every time he touched the ball, so in that regard we’ve got to add a shout-out to his offensive line.

THE CLASSMATES
Blaise Branch, Sr. RB, Cardinal Spellman – The 6-foot, 200-pound Branch had three scores on the ground and totaled 201 rushing yards on the day, ironically to give his head coach Ron St. George his 201st win, as the Cardinals rolled to a 35-8 win over Carver.

Andrew Coke, Jr. RB, Andover – Coke accounted for all six of the Warriors’ touchdowns in a 39-32 win over Tewksbury to open MVC play. He rushed 30 times for 214 yards and a school record five touchdowns; was 2 of 2 passing for 28 yards, including a 12-yard scoring strike to Brian Miller; and added 65 return yards for 311 all-purpose yards.

Dylan Colarusso, Sr. RB, Weymouth – He carved quite a name for himself following his performance in Friday’s 41-14 win over Milton, carrying 25 times for 262 yards and three scores.

Dave Dubin, Jr. DE, Holliston – For all of the talk of the Panthers’ offensive weapons, it was Dubin’s work on defense that stood out in the 48-24 win over Millis/Hopedale. He had 11 tackles, including five sacks, and contributed to holding the Mohawks to minus-27 yards of offense in the first half.

Randall Jette, Sr. QB, Martha's Vineyard - Jette captained the Vineyarders' Navy-style option offense with 17 carries for 192 yards and five touchdowns in their 41-32 win over Coyle-Cassidy.

Ben Patrick, Sr. RB, Rivers – The Roxbury resident, who ran for over 900 yards in six games last season, continued his good ways with an impressive ISL debut. He carried 20 times for 269 yards and two scores, and also came up with two interceptions, as the Red Wings downed St. Paul’s, 40-18.

Ben Shelton, Sr. QB, Wayland – The Warriors turned a lot of heads with its stunning 36-7 win over highly-ranked Westford, and Shelton was the catalyst. He was 12 of 17 passing for 209 yards and two touchdowns, and carried the ball 11 times for 97 yards.

Jaron Spear, Sr. RB, Somerset - The Blue Raiders asserted their will on the ground in a 43-13 victory over Bishop Stang and Spear headed the charge with 21 carries for 215 yards and four touchdowns.

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