Boston High School: Rufus Rushins

D5 EMass: Abington 29, Bishop Fenwick 14

November, 22, 2014
11/22/14
5:56
PM ET


BROCKTON, Mass. -- To say Abington’s bid for a spot in the Division 5 Super Bowl got off to a flying stop in Saturday’s state semifinal game against Bishop Fenwick would be an understatement.

On Abington’s second possession, quarterback Brian Dwyer fumbled in the end zone and the Crusaders’ Josh Niconchuk smothered the ball for a touchdown as the quarter expired for a 6-0 lead.

But the last thing the South champion Green Wave were about to do was panic.

Instead, Abington rallied behind an opportunistic defense plus the running of Shawn Donovan for a 29-14 victory.

As a result, Abington:

* Will face Northbridge on Dec. 6 in the Division 5 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. “All” Northbridge did Saturday was demolish Pittsfield, 58-35, in the other semifinal.

*Snapped Fenwick’s 27-game winning streak.

* Enabled its 13 seniors to improve their three-year record to 33-3.

* Avenged a 35-8 loss to Fenwick in last year’s state semifinal.

“We’ve done that a couple of times this year but my kids are resilient,” said Abington coach Jim Kelliher, referring to his team’s ability to bounce back from what could have been a devastating turnover. “We work on that all the time in practice. Over the years, we usually don’t make a lot of mistakes. We do sometimes like anybody would.

“We try to emphasize on first down get as many yards as you can. Every inch you can get make sure you get it on first down. Second downs and third downs are for first downs. We want situations where you have third-and-two rather than third-and-six.”

Donovan swamps Crusaders: Prior to this game, an inordinate amount of hype engulfed Fenwick’s star running back, senior Rufus Rushins who against Abington carried the ball 31 times for 166 yards and one touchdown. But his performance was more than offset by that of Donovan who recorded 192 yards and two touchdowns on a mere 12 carries.

“Shawn Donovan certainly for us is our catalyst,” said Kelliher. “He’s a guy who’s been with us since he was a freshman. He’s been doing the same thing. He comes back to the sideline and he’ll joke about all the wonderful things he does.

“He has a nice demeanor about himself. He understands that it’s a team concept. But he gives some individual accomplishments that sometimes are awe-inspiring. It’s like ‘How did you do that?’”

Donovan began “doing that” on Abington’s first series of the second quarter when he ran for the bulk of the yards during a 70-yard drive that culminated when he burst around right end from the 15 and Brendan Glavin ran for a two-point conversion.

While Kelliher might have been inclined to present a game ball to Donovan, he also might have been inclined to present numerous game balls to his defense which picked off three Dwyer passes and came up with two huge stops on fourth down plays by the Crusaders.

The first stop came on the game’s first possession when Fenwick went for a first down on fourth-and-three from its 48. Abington’s defense planted Cody Mullen one yard short of the first down.

Then, late in the second quarter, with Abington nursing that 8-6 lead, Fenwick faced a fourth-and-one on the Green Wave’s 32. This time, Abington’s defense stopped Rushins literally one inch shy of a first down.

Perfect timing: “My defense is just coming of age,” said Kelliher. “For the whole year we’ve been getting better and better each game. Today was a time that you certainly like to have it. It was the state semifinals and they were there.”

Abington’s interceptions also were as timely as the Green Wave’s ability to stuff Fenwick on the aforementioned fourth-down-plays.

After Glavin dived into the end zone from the 2 for a 15-6 lead, George Cellini protected that lead going into halftime by intercepting a pass on Fenwick’s 33 with 13 seconds left on the clock.

Then, after a scoreless third quarter, the Crusaders finally got their running game in gear and churned out an 18-play, 85-yard drive which Rushins capped by diving over from the 1.

But with 4:08 left in regulation, James Landers intercepted a pass which set up a 51-yard touchdown run by Donovan for a 21-14 lead.

And shortly after the ensuing kickoff Aidan Cawley intercepted a pass and sprinted 66 yards for a score that punched Abington’s ticket to the Super Bowl.

“Aidan Cawley, for the whole year on offense and defense, he’s a big-time player for us,” said Kelliher. “He got that (interception). But, offensively, he’s made some big catches. He gets down field and blocks for Donovan.

“But defensively you’ve got to watch out for him because he has that knack as a defensive back to be a pest.”

The irony of the day and site of the game wasn’t lost on Kelliher.

“I thought it was really nice that we’re here again, Bishop Fenwick and Abington on the same day as last year, November 22,” he said. “It was a nice fight like we should have in Brockton at Rocky Marciano Stadium.

“It was a slugfest right to the end.”

In the end, Abington delivered the knockout punch.

ABINGTON 29, BISHOP FENWICK 14

BF (10-1) 6-0-0-8 - 14
AB (10-1) 0-15-0-14 - 29

First quarter
B – Josh Niconchuk recovered fumble in end zone (run failed)

Second quarter
A – Shawn Donovan 14 run (Brendan Glavin run)
A – Glavin 2 run (Dennis Cummins kick)

Fourth quarter

B – Rufus Rushins 1 run (Myles Connor pass from Matt Renzulli)
A – Donovan 51 run (kick failed)
A – Aidan Cawley 66 interception return (Donovan pass from Dwyer)

Player of the Week: Fenwick's Rufus Rushins

October, 21, 2014
10/21/14
12:36
AM ET
PEABODY, Mass. -- Bishop Fenwick senior running back Rufus Rushins has already carved out a niche among the program and the state's most prolific rushers.

Already over the 1,000-yard mark for the season, Rushins is within sight of Crusaders legend Bobby Tarr and his program record for rushing yards in a career. Rushins inched closer to that mark with 273 yards in a 22-0 win over Catholic Central rival St. Mary's (Lynn), along with three touchdowns on Friday night.

ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall caught up with our Player of the Week, presented by New England Dairy, for this interview on Monday:

*****
TOP PERFORMERS FOR WEEK 7:

Emmanuel Almonte, Sr. QB, Boston English - Compiled more than 300 yards of all-purpose offense, throwing for 172 yards with two TD, while rushing for 156 yards in a 46-12 win over West Roxbury.

Mike Buffoni, Sr. RB, Monument Mountain - Needed just seven carries to rack up 202 yards (28.8 yards per carry average), including two touchdowns in a 34-0 win over Drury.

Jeff Costello, Jr. QB, Lexington - Threw for 362 yards and four TD while completing 23 of 30 pass attempts in a 42-28 win over Winchester.

Brian Dunlap, Sr. WR, Natick - Tallied 122 receiving yards and two touchdowns to run his career total to 56, breaking the school's all-time scoring record in a 28-7 win over Milton.

Rufus Rushins, Sr. RB, Bishop Fenwick - Ran for 273 yards and three TD in the Crusaders' 22-0 win over St. Mary's (Lynn).

ESPN Boston state football championship predictions

September, 4, 2014
9/04/14
12:53
AM ET
Before the MIAA football season kicks off this weekend, ESPN Boston editors Scott Barboza and Brendan C. Hall give their state championship predictions for the season:

Scott Barboza, ESPNBoston.com High Schools Editor

Division 1: Xaverian
The Division 1 field could look a lot as it did last year; I think there’s a real potential for Central Catholic vs. Everett and Attleboro vs. Xaverian rematches in the North and South districts, respectively. But this race all comes down to depth, and the Hawks have plenty of it across all positions. This time, Xaverian will not be denied at Gillette Stadium.

Division 2: Mansfield
Once again, Division 2 South should prove one of the most tightly contested sectional races across the state this year, but I see the Hornets moving through. With a defensive core that returns starters such as Curtis Boisvert, Connor Finerty, Q’Ra Guichard and Brendan Hill, the Hornets are built for the postseason. That bodes well if they are to meet St. John’s (Shrewsbury) in the state final again, as the Pioneers are primed for another Gillette visit.

Division 3: Marblehead
The Magicians ran into a loaded and experience Tewksbury squad in the North final last year, but this is their year. The Southern districts will be extremely competitive – particularly with many of the Hockomock League’s Davenport Division’ s entrants (Oliver Ames, Stoughton) loading up for this season. However, with Brooks Tyrrell running behind a hulking offensive line, including UMass commit Derek Dumais and Dan Marino, Marblehead is running all the way to the hardware.

Division 4: Dennis-Yarmouth
The Dolphins were denied of the title last year by a talented Doherty squad in the game of the day during championship Saturday. They won’t get fooled again. D-Y is likely to see another challenger from the Central district again – perhaps Doherty once again, or Shepherd Hill – but the Dolphins will come away champions behind Mr. Football candidate Michael Dunn, just as they did a few years back with his cousin Matt Montalto under center.

Division 5: Auburn
The Rockets are a few years off their historic winning streak, but they’ll climb back to the top of the hill with another impressive rushing attack led by preseason All-State Mark Wright. Watch out for Bishop Fenwick to again make a run at Gillette behind returning All-State Rufus Rushins, but Auburn wins out.

Division 6: Pope John Paul II
Had the Lions made the cut in the South sectional playoffs, they might have been the favorite last year. The one-two punch of Ryan Barabe and Diego Meritus will propel one of the state’s top offensive units – regardless of division – to a championship. Of course, PJP will not be without challengers, however, particularly in their own sectional playoff, where challengers Diman, Mashpee and Millis lurk.

*****

Brendan C. Hall, ESPNBoston.com High Schools Editor

Division 1: Xaverian
Hard to pick against the Hawks and their loaded crop of scholarship-caliber talent as they seek to avenge last year’s state final loss. When the smoke clears, this could be one of Charlie Stevenson’s best defenses in a long time, led by Damion Wood and defending ESPNBoston Defensive Player of the Year Joe Gaziano. The North bracket should be a tough battle, but I think Everett has enough talent to outlast that field.

Division 2: St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Going with the vengeance theme here again in D2, as one of the state’s most feared hitters, Boston College-bound safety Davon Jones, looks for another swing at it. Mansfield should be the prohibitive favorite in Eastern Mass., but once again the power is in the South portion and it’s a cauldron. Don’t be surprised if Natick or Marshfield makes it out of the bracket.

Division 3: Marblehead
Jim Rudloff loves to play the underdog card, but there’s no way the Magicians aren’t the lead dog in this race, with returning All-State tailback Brooks Tyrrell once again running behind an offensive line with Division 1 scholarship talent. This race gets interesting in the southern districts, where a number of teams have a good shot at reaching Gillette, and I have no idea who to pick. Walpole? Oliver Ames? Stoughton? Plymouth North?

Division 4: Shepherd Hill
Plain and simple, this is a Division 1-sized offensive line playing in Division 4, led by one of the state’s best hoggies in Chris Lindstrom, with an impressive blend of power and speed at the skill positions. They should get a tough battle from Doherty in the Central district. Once again, it could come down to Holliston and Dennis-Yarmouth in the East, but I like D-Y’s chances of returning to Gillette.

Division 5: Auburn
I picked the Rockets to win last year, and that sputtered. But on the heels of an explosive breakout campaign from Mark Wright, here’s hoping second time’s a charm. A number of Catholic Central teams could stake their claim in the East, led by St. Mary’s and Bishop Fenwick, but keep an eye on Northbridge out of the Central district as well.

Division 6: Pope John Paul II
A year after getting left out of the inaugural South football playoffs, Lions come back roaring with an even more explosive offense, triggered under center by Ryan Barabe and led in the backfield by workhorse Diego Meritus. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Millis come out of the South either, and Boston English is my favorite in the North with slippery dual-threat QB Emmanuel Almonte.

Top 10 Plays from Super Saturday

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
12:53
AM ET
Saturday’s inaugural MIAA Football State Championships at Gillette Stadium crowned victors in six divisions, which meant plenty of highlight reel-worthy plays were jam-packed into the day. Here are my Top 10 plays from the weekend:

(Video clips courtesy of Hudl.com)

Honorable Mention –- Rufus’ Rumble
Glad to see we’ll have another year of Bishop Fenwick running back Rufus Rushins, because the junior is a lot of fun to watch when he gets a full head of steam downhill. The Crusaders shut out Northbridge, 28-0, for the D5 state title, thanks to Rushins’ 158 yards and three scores on 15 carries.

10. Follow Your Blockers
Dennis-Yarmouth’s L.K. Metz follows every fundamental rule here as he jukes and jives his way to a very nice kick return, taking a Doherty squib kick all the way down to the Highlanders’ 6-yard line to set up an eventual score. Doherty went on to win the Division 4 state championship, 28-26.

9. Ball Hawk
Mansfield’s Aurian Dawkins shows great awareness and ball instincts on this end zone interception, jumping a would-be TD throw to St. John’s receiver Mike McGillicuddy and laying out for the pick. Mansfield doubled up the Pioneers, 28-14, to win the D2 state title.

8. Bassett Hounds the Skippers
Littleton running back Travis Bassett had the best statistical performance of the day, carrying 22 times for 263 yards and four TDs, and adding a 29-yard catch off a screen pass for a fifth TD, and adding two interceptions, as the Tigers routed Cohasset 52-35 for the D6 state title. There are plenty of highlight plays for Bassett, but my personal favorite is this 78-yard scamper. Just look at the afterburners he puts on this one.

7. Isaac to the Post
Boston College commit Isaac Yiadom had a big day on both sides of the ball for Doherty, including this 64-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Yiadom finished with seven catches for 137 yards and a TD.

6. D’Andre Dumps ‘Em
UNH commit D’Andre Drummond hits the R3 button on this 52-yard touchdown run for Central Catholic, leaving one unfortunate Xaverian defender in the turf. The Raiders doubled up Xaverian, 34-17, for the D1 state title.

5. Run, Rocco, Run
Cohasset’s Rocco Laugelle is off and running on this 77-yard interception return for a touchdown. Watch as he slips away from about five tacklers en route to paydirt.

4. Poetry in Motion
Doherty QB Luke Brennan (12 for 20, 259 yards, 2 TD) threw a couple of pretty balls on the afternoon. But none were prettier than this 41-yard bomb to Alfred Adarkwah, plopping the ball safely into the lanky senior’s bread basket, right over the top of double coverage.

3. Cody’s Crackback
As the title implies, Central Catholic receiver Cody Demers laid one of the most vicious sticks of the day, this crackback block springing loose quarterback Matt Milano to toss a 31-yard touchdown pass to Cam Manning. This play made it 7-0 Raiders, and effectively set the tone for the evening.

2. Jump Ball
We couldn’t get our hands on video of this impressive TD catch by Tewksbury’s Kevin Dick, late in the Redmen’s 42-14 rout of Plymouth South for the D3 state title. But it probably works out better that way, as photographer Eric Adler passes along a frame-by-frame account of the grab.

1. Megatron
Simply put, Demers was just awesome on Saturday. This TD catch permeates those sentiments.

D5 final: Bishop Fenwick 28, Northbridge 0

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
11:46
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It became clear early on that the only thing that could stop Bishop Fenwick running back Rufus Rushins was the end of the season.

The 6-1, 230-pound junior tailback, who finished the year with 1,366 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, capped his impressive season with perhaps his biggest performance yet Saturday in the Crusader's easy win over Northbridge, 28-0, in the MIAA Division 5 state championship game.

He ripped off 170 yards on just 15 carries, scoring on touchdowns runs of 59-yards, 5-yards and 2-yards, to lead Fenwick’s high-powered offense it’s 13th straight game with scoring at least 28 points.

“Rufus is a big strong kid and he’s tough to tackle,” said Fenwick coach Dave Woods. “He’s got some good speed. A couple of his runs early were just shoestring tackles, and he got tripped up here or there. With him it’s just a matter of time. Just keep giving him the ball and sooner or later he’s going to break one.”

Defensively, the Crusaders trend of bullying other teams continued as they held the Rams to negative rushing yardage into the fourth quarter.

“This is the best team we played all year, no doubt about that,” said Northbridge coach Ken LaChappelle. “This is an outstanding team. They have everything, everywhere: the line, the back, quarterback was excellent.”

It was the defense that set the tone for this one first, forcing a 3-and-out in the opening minute of the game.

The offense, not to be outdone, marched right down the field before quarterback Nick Bona delivered a pass into the outstretched hands of receiver Eric Razney for a 39-yard touchdown less than a minute and a half later.

Northbridge was able to keep Fenwick’s offense from finding the end zone again until midway through the second when Rushins took a dive two yards up the middle for his score of the night. He added a two-point conversion rush to make it 14-0.

Early in the third quarter, Rushins delivered a dagger to the hopes of Northbridge by taking a dive 49 yards up the gut to extend the lead to 21-0 just 1:35 in the second half.

“I saw green grass, and I just booked as fast as I could,” Rushins said. “I knew I was going right down the field.”

He added another score, a 5-yard run, with 3:57 left in the third to make it 28-0 to cap the scoring.

Northbridge’s best scoring chance came late in the fourth quarter when they advanced into the red zone for first and only time in the contest.

They made it to the 14-yard line before David Hurley stepped in front of a pass headed toward the end zone for a shutout-sealing interception.

“Without question this is the greatest team this school has ever had,” said Woods. “I’m just so happy, it was so much fun coaching these guys.”

Tale of the Tape: Northbridge vs. Bishop Fenwick

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
7:43
PM ET
Ahead of Saturday's six MIAA Football State Championships at Gillette Stadium, today we are bringing back our "Tale of the Tape" series to break down each participating team's matchups headed into the game.

In the Division 5 Final, ESPN Boston High Schools editors Brendan Hall and Scott Barboza take a closer look at Central champ Northbridge and North champ Bishop Fenwick, respectively.

Division 5 State Championship
NORTHBRIDGE (10-2) vs. BISHOP FENWICK (12-0)
at Gillette Stadium, 8 p.m.


When Northbridge has the ball: It was once said that Rams head coach Ken LaChapelle -– he of 300-plus wins and counting, 10 Super Bowl titles and just three losing seasons since he took over in 1976 -– would like to just once coach a game in his career where he calls nothing but pass plays. The Rams’ affinity for the air, and the spread is well-documented -– LaChapelle was among the first coaches in Massachusetts to fully adopt and run-and-shoot scheme, and has found exponential success with it ever since.

The Rams have found plenty of success, however, on the ground with sophomore quarterback Koby Schofer (187 carries, 1,511 yards, 22 TD). When a running lane opens up in the tackle box, the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Schofer is unafraid to take off downfield; and with some live hips, he is a bit underrated when it comes to shiftiness. One of the staples of the running game with Schofer has been the inverted veer play. Out of an empty formation, they will often motion either sophomores Jake Wood (140 carries, 717 yards, 10 TD) or Michael Quinn from the slot for a jet sweep look, and from there they read the defensive tackle for the mesh point.

But it wouldn’t be Northbridge football without a nifty passing game. LaChapelle is a sharp, innovative mind, and one of the best ever -– period –- when it comes to dialing up the right play calls. Schofer (131-of-221, 1,300 yards, 11 TD) has thrown some terrific balls in a garden variety of a passing game, which includes an array of slip screens, swing passes, slants, wheels and even double posts -– any of which may come under center or in the shotgun. Look for sophomore leading receiver Chandler Brooks (43 catches, 518 yards, 5 TD) to be active in the air.

When Bishop Fenwick has the ball: In particular, when Rufus Rushins has the ball in his hands, you can almost knowingly expect a run up the middle. With his 6-foot-1, 230-pound frame, Rushins (1,296 yards, 20 TD) is a north-south runner. While looks might be deceiving, with the Crusaders typically lined up in spread formations, they carry the mentality of a power-I team. However, what makes Fenwick’s rushing attack that much more difficult to diagnose is senior quarterback Nick Bona. The undersized signal-caller is an ideal spread option quarterback, who runs the Crusaders' inside zone reads with Rushins to near perfection. Once Bona’s in the clear, he’s an elusive runner as well.

What really makes Fenwick’s ground game click is the right side of its line. Road-grading, 6-foot-3, 270-pound senior and three-year starter Charlie St. Pierre is among the best on the North Shore. Along with sparkplug Tyler Kaufman (5-foot-9, 180 pounds), the Crusaders use the pair interchangeably at the right guard and tackle positions to great success.

But, also, let’s not discount Fenwick’s vertical passing game. Once establishing the run, the Crusaders like to take chances downfield, employing a stable of wide receivers, including senior speedster Charlie Maistrellis.

When Northbridge is on defense: The Rams have seen a lot of different looks this fall, and have usually been pretty consistent in the back end, especially when it comes to the pass. Wood (3 INTs) and junior Robert Fraser (3) have been a solid tandem at the free and strong safety positions, respectively, while senior Jurrell Cromwell (3 INTs) is the team’s top option at cornerback, saddled with taking their top man.

How these guys match up with Fenwick in the trenches, especially with the Crusaders’ bullish Rufus Rushins returning to the backfield, will be one of the key storylines to this game. I feel the Rams can do some damage in this area, with seniors Tom Tabur (6-3, 285) and Connor Gatto (6-1, 290) controlling the interior gaps. Both are relentless, one-gap pluggers who can blow guys back with a bit of momentum. Both have received varying degrees of Division 1 FCS interest, while Gatto has impressive upper-body strength, putting up 34 bench press reps at 185 pounds in last May’s annual Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association combine.

Sometimes Tabur and Gatto will pinch down inside the A-gaps, lined up over opposite shades of the center, seemingly taking the middle of the field by brute force. That seems to serve as a quality compliment to speed rushers Damion McFetridge and Derek Chace off the edges.

When Bishop Fenwick is on defense: The mainstays of Fenwick’s offense also figure prominently in its defensive game schemes. With Rushins at defensive end and Bona at inside linebacker, they bring physicality to the Crusaders’ front seven. They will be the keys to shutting down Schofer in the ground game out of Fenwick’s varying 3- and 4-man fronts.

Kaufman is an intriguing player to watch in this matchup. He’s played anywhere from a 1-technique defensive tackle to a weak side defensive end. But from whichever angle he’s played, Kaufman has a motor that simply has no quit, evidenced by his many tackles in pursuit.

But make no bones about it, Fenwick’s chances for victory will likely rest with its secondary. The group comprised Tommy Parsons, Eric Razney and Maistrallis, among others, is capable of making plays, but doesn’t often see prodigious spread offenses in the rush-heavy Catholic Central portion of the team’s schedule. They will be the difference-makers.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 7

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
12:58
AM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 7 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)



THE CONTENDERS*

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Completed 13 of 25 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns, in a 42-19 win over Milton.

Brandon Gallagher, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Carried 24 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, in the Trojans' 20-14 loss to Barnstable.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. RB/WR, Barnstable
In the Red Raiders' thrilling win over Bridgewater-Raynham, carried 14 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 43-yard TD run with less than a minute to go.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils' 40-15 rout of Nashoba, completed 11 of 19 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns, and also had 50 yards rushing with a fourth score.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the Rockets' 33-6 win over Brookline.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Carried 19 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the Crusaders' 34-6 rout of St. Mary's of Lynn.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. RB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Completed 6 of 6 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and added 91 rushing yards with two more scores, in the Pioneers' 34-9 win over Wachusett.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Was 5 of 11 passing for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and added a rushing touchdown, in the Golden Eagles' 34-6 win over Putnam.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 12 of 27 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in the Hornets' 20-7 win over King Philip.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
Boston College commit caught a touchdown pass and threw for another, in the Highlanders' 28-0 shutout of Worcester North.



FIVE ON THE RISE

Emmanuel Almonte, Jr. QB/DB, Boston English
Totaled 254 yards of offense (190 rushing, 64 passing) and three touchdowns in the Blue & Blue's 24-6 win over West Roxbury. Through six games he is one of the state's leading rushers (1,025 yards, 8 TD, 9.5 yards per carry), in directing a read-option attack; he's also the team's leader in tackles (43).

Shaquille Anderson, Sr. RB, Cambridge
Led the way for the Falcons with 219 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in their 34-20 win over Medford.

Dan Henrickson, Sr. WR, St. Peter-Marian
Totaled 123 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Guardians' 14-13 loss to Shepherd Hill.

Chris Lindstrom, Jr. OL/DL, Shepherd Hill
Leading a double-wing rushing attack that has accounted for 1,661 yards, 21 touchdowns and 7.2 yards per carry through six games, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound interior guard has been a road grader so far for the Rams.

Jack Sylvester, Sr. RB, Andover
Carried 14 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns, and also hauled in a 15-yard TD catch, in the Golden Warriors' 49-32 win over Rhode Island power La Salle Academy. In the last weeks, he's gained 402 yards with five touchdowns; on the season, he's averaging 8.3 yards per carry.



TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Chris Ahl, Sr., Millis/Hopedale – 1,098 yards, 14 TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 1,084 yards, 12 TD
Emmanuel Almonte, Jr., Boston English – 1,025 yards, 8 TD
Zered McCoy, Sr., Ware – 963 yards, 7 TD
Rufus Rushins, Jr., Bishop Fenwick – 957 yards, 15 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 662 yards, 10 TD
Nick Thyden, Sr., Quabbin – 643 yards, 9 TD
Jake Bradway, Sr., Belchertown – 638 yards, 7 TD
Dan Henrickson, Sr., St. Peter-Marian – 559 yards, 7 TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 534 yards, 3 TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 2,070 yards, 21 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,617 yards, 26 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,543 yards, 18 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,499 yards, 19 TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 1,320 yards, 15 TD



*Does not include players who had a bye week


Mr. Football Watch: Week 6

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
10:54
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 6 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Completed 15 of 22 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions, in the Redhawks’ 42-10 win over Dedham.

Brandon Gallagher, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Ran for 232 yards and a score, and added a 70-yard touchdown reception, in a 27-7 win over Dartmouth.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. RB/WR, Barnstable
In the Red Raiders' 29-20 comeback win over Marshfield, carried 12 times for 116 yards and a touchdown, and caught two passes for 74 yards and another score.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
Accounted for a season-high 359 yards of offense (287 passing, 72 rushing) and two scores in the Blue Devils' 47-26 win over Doherty.

Dylan Oxsen, Sr. RB, Plymouth South
In the Panthers' 27-7 win over Nauset, carried a personal record 37 times for 243 yards and four touchdowns.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Carried 18 times for 132 yards and a score in the Rockets' 21-0 shutout of Braintree.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Ran for 80 yards and a score in the Crusaders' 48-18 rout of Austin Prep.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. RB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Completed 19 of 33 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the Pioneers' upset loss to cross-town rival Shrewsbury.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Completed 12 of 17 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns in the Golden Eagles’ 40-12 rout of Minnechaug.

Ju’an Williams, Sr. WR, Springfield Central
Caught five passes for 69 yards in the Eagles’ win over Minnechaug.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 13 of 15 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns in the Hornets’ 47-8 rout of Taunton.

FIVE ON THE RISE

Matt Banchs, Sr. FB/LB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils' win over Doherty, recorded 22 tackles and two sacks, and also added 40 yards rushing with a score on offense. Banchs is slowly rising as one of the top defensive players in Central Mass.

Christian Carr, Jr. RB, Plymouth North
In the Eagles' 33-6 win over Falmouth, carried 35 times for 254 yards and four touchdowns, giving him over 700 yards rushing on the season.

Mike Maggipinto, Soph. RB, East Longmeadow
Carried 20 times for 259 yards and five touchdowns in the Spartans’ 40-34 win over Springfield Putnam. He currently leads all Western Mass. running backs in rushing touchdowns (13).

James Sullivan, Jr. RB/DB, Tewksbury
Collected three of the Redmen’s four interceptions, while adding 75 yards on nine carries with a touchdown on offense vs. Methuen.

Miguel Villar-Perez, Jr. RB, Mansfield
Caught three passes for 95 yards and a touchdown in the Hornets’ 47-8 win over Taunton. Through five games he has 575 yards of offense as a pass-catching running back, with eight touchdowns.

TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 950 yards, 11 TD
Brooks Tyrrell, Jr., Marblehead – 931 yards, 9 total TD
Chris Ahl, Sr., Millis/Hopedale – 895 yards, 11 TD
Dylan Oxsen, Sr., Plymouth South – 852 yards, 14 total TD
Zered McCoy, Sr., Ware – 843 yards, 5 TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 1,680 yards, 17 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,372 yards, 17 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,360 yards, 22 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,298 yards, 13 TD
Ryan Barabe, Jr., Pope John Paul II – 1,255 yards, 14 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 513 yards, 14 total TD
Jake Bradway, Jr., Belchertown – 489 yards, 7 TD
Brian Daly, Jr., Marblehead – 487 yards, 10 TD
T.J. Hairston, Jr., Watertown – 472 yards, 5 TD
Jack Galvin, Sr., Lowell – 438 yards, 8 TD

Recap: Bishop Fenwick 48, Austin Prep 18

October, 12, 2013
10/12/13
12:26
AM ET
PEABODY, Mass. -– Bishop Fenwick put over 40 points on the board for the fourth consecutive week, but it was its defense that stood out on Friday.

Eric Razney and Tommy Parsons each reeled in an interception for the Crusaders (5-0) and linebacker David Hurley totaled 10 tackles, while Nick Bona and James Traversey were all over the field, resulting in a 48-18 Fenwick victory over Austin Prep (4-1).

“They are three guys who have been playing for three, four years,” Fenwick coach Dave Woods said of linebackers Hurley, Bona, and Traversey, “They know how to play disciplined defense, and it showed tonight for sure."

There were a lot of playoff implications coming into the game, the two squads were tied for the top seed in Division 5 North—with the winner taking over sole possession of first place. The Crusaders wasted no time in getting started offensively in the first half, Bona (252 total yards, 3 TD’s) ran a 47-yard quarterback keeper that later resulted in a Rufus Rushins (80 yards, TD) touchdown, then threw a touchdown each to Razney and Charlie Maistrellis.

“Nick makes the whole team go, both offense and defense,” Woods said. “He did it tonight, a couple times we tried to throw the ball and they pressured him so he just scrambled—those are plays that you can’t account for, and when you have a quarterback that can do that, it’s pretty special.”

Bona added his third touchdown late in the second quarter, running it in from seven yards out to give the Crusaders an intimidating 28-0 lead. Moments later, Nick Mulcahy broke the shutout and got Austin Prep on the board before halftime.

“He does everything, on both sides of the ball. You watch him kickoff, he makes every tackle on the kickoff, and on defense he’s all over the place -- he had 20 tackles last week against Spellman, he throws touchdowns, he runs with it. He’s a player.”

After a called back kick return at the end of the first half that would have been a touchdown, Razney just couldn’t be stopped from getting into the end zone, bringing a 77-yard kick return back for a touchdown on the first play of the third quarter. After originally being aggravated with the called back touchdown return, Razney tried to quickly erase it from his memory.

“Honestly, I just try to forget about it. I couldn’t let it get to me. I was a little frustrated in the first half, but I just try to block it out -- I had a lot of blocks set for me and I just took it down,” he said.

The Fenwick defense was lights-out in the third quarter, as the linebacker-led group held Austin Prep to just six points going into the fourth. Jonathan Saurman caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Connor Duffy and Christos Kourkoulos ran in a 55-yard score late in the game, but it was too little too late.

“We had a short week, so we really had just one day defensively to prepare. David [Hurley] did a phenomenal job, especially in the first half -- he was just reading his keys and flying to exactly to where he was supposed to be, taking plays away,” Woods said.

Now with sole possession of the top seed in Division 5 North, Fenwick will have no problem staying focused when they travel to league rival St. Mary’s next Saturday. With the win, the Crusaders would clinch at least a share of the Catholic Central Large title.

“We’ve been playing good all year, every day in practice we’re always sound, we’re focused and we’re ready to go,” Bona said. “Our defense is what wins us games, not our offense. I know our offense has been putting up points, but our defense has been unbelievable.”

Player of the Week: Dexter's Luke Cuneo

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
1:14
AM ET
BROOKLINE, Mass. -- In a matchup of Evergreen Conference unbeatens Saturday, Dexter School continued its prodigious offensive pace, scoring a 46-21 win over Holderness.

Dexter again enjoyed a big day from senior quarterback Luke Cuneo.

Cuneo had a career day, throwing for six touchdowns and rushing for another, upping his season-long total to 14 touchdowns through just three games.

On Monday, ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall caught up with Cuneo, our Player of the Week for Week 5:



Along with Cuneo, here are our Top 5 performers for Week 5:

Luke Cuneo, Sr. QB, Dexter - Had 393 passing yards and six touchdowns to go along with 67 yards and a rushing touchdown against Holderness.

Dylan Kierman, Sr. QB, Quabbin - Set the Central Mass single-game passing record in 40-34 overtime win over Oakmont, completing 31 of 44 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns.

Derrell Fernandez, Sr. RB, Weymouth - In the Wildcats’ 42-18 win over Brookline, carried 25 times for 264 yards and five touchdowns.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick - Carried 24 times for 233 yards and four touchdowns in the Crusaders’ 42-20 win over Cardinal Spellman.

John Rumney, Sr. QB, Marlborough - Completed 15 of 23 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns in the Panthers’ 34-24 win over Westborough.

ESPN Boston Week 5 football picks

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
2:53
PM ET
No. 14 PLYMOUTH SOUTH (3-0) at DENNIS-YARMOUTH (1-2), Friday 6 p.m.

Scott Barboza: I think Dylan Oxsen could play on one leg, with arm tied behind his back and the Panthers will be just fine. Plymouth South, 14-7.

Brendan Hall: I think South’s archrival, Plymouth North, laid out a good game plan for shutting down D-Y after the Dolphins looked like world-beaters in Week 1. Like their cross-town enemies to the North, much of South’s running game is predicated on power and counter sets; spliced in with all of the misdirection element the pistol offense brings, and I think the Panthers can stay in control here. Plymouth South, 24-14.

No. 7 BROCKTON (2-1) at BC HIGH (1-2), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: I like the Boxers’ chances at controlling the line of scrimmage behind Aaron Monteiro and Co. Brockton, 30-21.

Hall: Given BC High’s difficulties defending the pass, but stout ability at defending the run (for the most part), the Eagles can pull off the upset here as long as they stay disciplined. The bye week has been pretty kind to teams looking to re-charge the batteries or clean up some deficiencies – just look at what it did for Everett, Barnstable and Springfield Central. BC High, 18-16.

LONGMEADOW (2-1) at No. 3 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (2-1), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: The Lancers are wont to play ball-control and keep the Golden Eagles’ offense off the field; it’s just a matter of whether they can keep pace with them. Central, 21-14.

Hall: I think the Lancers end Central’s shutout streak, but the Golden Eagles have made a habit lately of dispatching opponents early in the game. This is the premier non-Thanksgiving rivalry in Western Mass. right now, but if the Lancers get into a track meet with these guys this could get untracked. Central, 35-21.

No. 11 ST. JOHN’S OF SHREWSBURY (2-1) at NASHOBA (3-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Credit to the Chieftains who simply reload year after year, but the streak comes to a halt at No. 29. St. John’s, 34-28.

Hall: I have a feeling this could be a high-scoring game, with the amount of possessions St. John’s offense surrenders to the opposition. Andrew Smiley and Co. do just enough to stay ahead of the Chieftains, and end their state-best 29-game win streak, but this Wing-T offense for Nashoba is fluid. Helps that the coaching staff went from one Tucker to another this past offseason – continuity is pivotal. St. John’s, 40-30.

HAVERHILL (2-1) at METHUEN (4-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Hillies RB Ian Kessel can play foil, but the Rangers keep sailing along. Methuen, 28-20.

Hall: Just because it’s the MVC, let’s set the over/under at 65 total points scored in this one. Haverhill, 35-30.

BISHOP FENWICK (3-0) at No. 21 CARDINAL SPELLMAN (3-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: The Crusaders do not have an answer for Rory Donovan. Spellman, 32-27.

Hall: Talk about adapting to your talent. It wasn’t too long ago the Crusaders’ leading receiver caught 106 passes. Now, they have a bull in the backfield by the name of Rufus Rushins, and they are unleashing him thoroughly. Fenwick, 28-17.

No. 1 MANSFIELD (3-0) at No. 23 ATTLEBORO (3-0), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: If the Blue Bombardiers can force turnovers the way they did last week against Franklin, the Hornets could be in for a real fight. But otherwise … Ding, dong, the curse is dead. Mansfield, 42-38.

Hall: Not sure if my brain can process the spectre of having a sixth straight week with a new No. 1. Mansfield, 20-13.

No. 12 DUXBURY (2-1) at HINGHAM (2-1), Friday 7 p.m. (At Scituate H.S.)

Barboza: This was supposed to be the Harbormen’s night to shine, with a new field, new attitude and all. But the karma just sides with the Dragons somehow. Duxbury, 13-10.

Hall: Every year we keep saying the same narrative: “The Dragons still have one more good run in them”. At some point, we’re all going to have to accept the fact that these guys just re-load every year. Still, this has always been a difficult matchup for the Dragons. Duxbury, 10-7.

CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (1-2) at No. 5 XAVERIAN (2-1), Saturday 2:15 p.m.

Barboza: Think the bounce-back factor is in play here, after the Hawks saw their No. 1 ranking go up in smokes at Barnstable. A.J. King will come in even greater focus in Xaverian’s attack with the loss of D.J. Sperzel. Xaverian, 34-21.

Hall: Even with the loss to D.J. Sperzel, the Hawks have more than enough in the tank to stay ahead of CM in this one. Xaverian, 24-10.

No. 25 WALPOLE (2-1) at WELLESLEY (1-2), Saturday 2:30 p.m.

Barboza: I think the Rebels’ defense is better suited to shutting down Wellesley’s offense, as opposed to Needham a few weeks ago. Walpole, 16-10.

Hall: Upset City, part 2. We saw what a team with spread packages like Needham can do to the Walpole defense, and the Rebels are going to have their work cut out for them trying to solve Wellesley quarterback John Fadule. Like Chris Sarni last year, Fadule is a gunslinger who is as unpredictable as he is creative. Good luck, gents. Wellesley, 31-28.

LAWRENCE ACADEMY (1-1) at MILTON ACADEMY (2-0), Saturday 3:30 p.m.

Barboza: Justin Yoon comes in clutch with the last-minute field goal. It’s formulaic but effective. Milton Academy, 23-20.

Hall: Good start to the season for Milton, but I like LA’s athletes on the perimeter a little bit more. LA, 20-7.

GOVERNOR’S ACADEMY (2-0) at ST. SEBASTIAN’S (1-1), Saturday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Akin to Nashoba, the streak ends this week. St. Seb’s, 14-10.

Hall: Arrows are looking mighty impressive after that commanding win over Roxbury Latin, but the Governors just continue to cruise along. Will they ever lose again? There is some voodoo going on up there in Byfield. Govs, 27-17.

GAME OF THE WEEK – HOLLISTON (4-0) at No. 20 WESTWOOD (2-1), Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Wolverines head coach Ed Mantie really likes his linebacking corps, led by Scott McManus, this year. They’re the difference. Westwood, 31-27.

Hall: Zach Elkinson is averaging a touchdown for every 2.8 touches, and 21.3 yards every time he gets the ball. That’s just insane, I don’t care who the opponents have been. Holliston, 28-24.

Last Week’s Picks:
Barboza: 8-4 (31-16 overall)

Hall: 9-3 (31-16 overall)

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