Boston High School: Ryan Perron

Chikomba, Perron lead through experience

November, 22, 2012
High School FootballScott Barboza/ESPNBoston.comTadkudzwe Chikomba, left, and Ryan Perron star for the North Attleborough Red Rocketeers.
Takudzwe Chikomba didn’t even notice the passing of his first Thanksgiving in the United States. After his family moved from Zimbabwe to New England in his sixth-grade year, the traditions, pageantry and the football feast on the holiday were all foreign.

On Thursday, the imposing figure whose North Attleborough teammates affectionately call “Shawn” (his proper name is pronounced tuh-KUDS-wah) will play his final high school football game. Just as hundreds of other seniors around the state, players like Chikomba and Red Rocketeers senior quarterback Ryan Perron will shake off the morning butterflies and take the field with their teammates for the final time. Each one of those players has a story to tell, a unique journey of how they came together as a team – individuals banded together by a game. It’s part of the American story, how we’re all so different, and yet so much the same.

From an arm’s length, Chikomba and Perron appear normal, well-adjusted young men. They’re the big dogs on campus, stars of the gridiron, leaders of their team.

Yet, it wasn’t too long ago that both were more content to settle into the background.

These are their stories -- stories of how their background have made them who they are, stories of how football has offered each of them a home:

Many of Ryan Perron’s childhood memories were the same. There was the constant shuffling between doctor’s office appointments, the boring time spent in waiting rooms. And, of course, there were maladies. There were the typical procedures, like having his tonsils and adenoids removed and then there were the ear tubes inserted to prevent him from chronic ear infections.

If that wasn’t bad enough for the youngster, there was Perron’s other condition. At the age of 5, Perron’s mother Denise noticed Ryan would tilt his head to the side while coloring and writing his name. His parents and doctors tried to figure out what was affecting Ryan before coming a diagnosis of amblyopia after a long battery of examinations. Commonly known as “lazy eye,” amblyopia is easily treatable when diagnosed and correct early. Although Perron was declared legally blind in his right eye, it improved to nearly 20/20 sight about four years later after his treatment program.

The treatment for strengthening the weak eye is placing an eye patch over the dominant eye. So for more than a year, Perron wore an eye patch 24 hours a day. The time with the patch then decreased during the next three years, and by the time Perron was 9, his eyesight had improved to the point where he no longer needed it.

“If someone would ask me what was wrong, I’d say, ‘Nothing,’” Perron said after football practice at North Attleborough High School on Tuesday, “because it was just something that I was born with, something that I needed to fix.

“The worst part was the patch. It was like putting on a shirt and tie when you’re a kid, you’re just so uncomfortable and you can’t wait to take them off.”

Perron’s parents became creative with his patch, in an effort to make Ryan feel comfortable with what made him stand out from the other kids. For a time, he wore a pirate costume eye patch. Later on, Perron wore a pair of corrective glasses with a blackened lens on the right side.

Around the same time, he began playing football. Perrons parents carved out rods through the padding in his helmet so it could fit over his glasses’ frames. They made every effort to make sure Ryan felt normal, even though he stood out from out his classmates.

“Even if a kid was making fun of me, or laughing at me, I’d just shove it off or not pay any attention to it,” Perron said. “I just kept doing my thing.”

Perron entered his senior season as a bit of an unknown at quarterback for the Red Rocketeers. Although he’d started with the junior varsity squad, he had no varsity experience.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder was forced to take on a bigger part of the offensive load after an early season injury to dynamic running back Alex Jette. The adversity piled up near midseason, when the Red Rocketeers fell into a three-game losing streak with Hockomock League losses to Foxborough, Franklin and Stoughton.

That’s when North head coach Don Johnson saw Perron become a leader.

“He was the glue that held us together during that stretch. I think the difference was his confidence. It kept growing with every week.

Through Thanksgiving, Perron was among the state Division 2 scoring leaders with his 11 total touchdowns, eight of which have come through the air. From the highs to the lows, Perron’s taken it all in stride. It’s a quality he traces back to his younger self.

With the aid of glasses and contacts, Perron has fine enough eyesight to pilot the Red Rocketeers offense, but people diagnosed with amblyopia can have difficulty with depth perception. Perron said he doesn’t feel his condition hurts his ability to read passing plays as they develop.

But it’s unquestioned how it has affected him.

“He’s always positive,” Johnson said of Perron’s leadership qualities. “A lot of what he has to say is helping another kid – it’s instilling confidence in them, giving them a pat on the butt, reminding them what they’re supposed to do on a particular play. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him have a negative thing to say about anything.”

Zimbabwe’s Highway A-1 runs between the capital of Harare and the city of Chirundu, heading toward the African country’s northern border with Zambia. Along the way is Chinhoyi, a city of about 50,000 residents. There, along the Highway, you can find Takudzwe Chikomba’s family’s restaurant. Like an American highway rest stop, they serve a complement of grab-and-go foods and snacks, like potato chips. They also serve sadza, a traditional dish of ground cornmeal that’s often served with a stew. It’s a dietary staple.

Of course, food has become an issue in Zimbabwe in recent years. An August report compiled by the United Nations and the Zimbabwean government estimated that 1.6 million people in its rural areas will need food assistance in the coming year. The dire situation is the result of a confluence of issues, including the controversial farm policy of President Robert Mugabe and historic droughts.

Before the food started running out in Zimbabwe, money began running out following a brutal civil war. Well, it’s not as though the money disappeared as much it became worthless. The country, which has no national currency today and has relied on other nation’s money, buckled under the pressure of hyperinflation and the destruction of its economy.

Like many others, Chikomba’s family sought to leave Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s rule. They are among the lucky ones who’ve fled among the chaos in the last two decades.

Chikomba came to the United States while he was in the sixth grade. He settled in Attleboro with his mother, Midia, and they lived with Takudzwa’s uncle who’d immigrated in the 1990s. Chikomba’s father remains in Zimbabwe, where he maintains the family business.

Upon arrival, Chikomba had never encountered American football. He’d played soccer and cricket growing up, but when he entered high school at North Attleborough, he heard his classmates making a fuss.

“I knew nothing about it,” Chikomba said. “I didn’t even know what the difference between a quarterback and a running back was, or offense and defense.”

Yet, he decided to try out.

Chikomba’s grown into his frame (he now stands at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds) since then, but he immediately stood out.

As Chikomba continued to adjust to American life, he saw more and more playing time on the Red Rocketeers’ defensive line.

“There were some plays last year, when as soon as you say it, you said, ‘Wow, that was something,’” Johnson said.

He was a raw heap of modeling clay, built in the mold of the NFL’s new breed of athletic defensive ends, such as Jason Pierre-Paul or the Patriots’ Chandler Jones. From early on, Johnson and his staff spent extra time with Chikomba, explaining the intricacies of the game.

“There was a lot more one-on-one there early on,” Johnson said. “When the first-team defense was out there, we had him standing there next to us, watching that defensive end and explaining what’s the thought process behind everything that’s going on.”

In time, as Chikomba has become more comfortable in his surroundings and in football, he’s come out of his shell. A warm presence, with a huge disarming smile, Chikomba’s became a popular fixture at the school. It’s evident on Friday nights at Community Field, where you can often find a Zimbabwean flag aloft in the student fan section.

“It was hard at first,” Chikomba said. “Back in Zimbabwe, I could be very friendly with my classmates. But when I came here, I didn’t know what kids here did. It was difficult.”

His personality shined through earlier this season in the Red Rocketeers’ season opener against Rhode Island power La Salle Academy. Chikomba burst through the Rams’ offensive line with a strong swim move and hauled the quarterback down for a sack. He shot right back to his feet to show off a little shimmy and shake in the backfield.

“His personality has really started to shine through,” Johnson said. “He’s one of the most popular players with his teammates. He’s got a great sense of humor, a great smile. He doesn’t say much. But really it’s because, we feel he’s a great story, but he doesn’t think like that. He’s so humble.”


So what lies in store for Chikomba and Perron beyond Thursday?

Once again, the Red Rocketeers were edged out in a tight Hockomock Kelley-Race division race, so it’s a one-game season for North against border rival Attleboro. It will be their final high school game.

Both would like to play football as long as they can, but both have ambitions beyond the game. Though Johnson contends Chikomba could have some snaps ahead.

“I don’t think he realizes his own potential and the future that might lie ahead of him.”

Yet, Chikomba remains focused on his studies. He hopes to become a commercial airline pilot as a career. He grew up in the shadow of a regional airport back in Zimbabwe and passed the time watching flights takeoff and land. He recently was part of a student group from North which toured T.F. Green.

Perron has applied to a host of four-year colleges and looks to enter undeclared. He said he’ll make all attempts at prolonging his football career.

“It’s been such a big part of my life,” he said.

But all that’s assured is one more day on the field.

“There’s a lot of preparation and pride that goes into this week,” said Perron whose parents are Attleboro natives. “You’re doing it for the school, for the alumni, the coaches, your teammates, everybody who’s gotten you to that day.”

Recap: No. 18 King Philip 16, No. 24 North 14

November, 11, 2012

NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. – No. 7 strode on the field, cool and composed. He’d missed a point-after try earlier in the game, but it didn’t seem to deter his confidence.

He was about to attempt a 19-yard field goal that could give his team a two-point lead with only seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

“He said, ‘Coach, I can make that.’ So I said, ‘OK,’” King Philip head coach Brian Lee said.

You couldn’t find his name anywhere on King Philip football’s gameday roster on Saturday, the mysterious No. 7, the place kicker for the Warriors. He’s a freshman at KP who’s played football most his life but only started place kicking about a year ago. He only began kicking with the varsity squad a few weeks back in the Mansfield game because injuries sidelined the Warriors’ other place kickers ahead of him on the depth chart.

It’s a thing straight out of myth.

Although hardly anyone present at Community Field yesterday for the Warriors’ Hockomock League battle with North Attleborough knew his name, few will soon forget No. 7.

His name is Derek Roschlein.

“Coach told me to stay down, look at the ball and pretend like no one was here,” said No. 7, moments before he was tackled on the field by a swarm of pint-sized high school freshmen.

It was just Roschlein and a couple hundred of his closest friends. And when his kick went sailing through the uprights and out onto the front lawn of a home on the opposite side of Barrows Street, Roschlein and his friends “went nuts.”

“I just cleared my mind and knew I could do it.”

Although the Warriors (9-1, 3-1 Kelley-Rex) held on for a 16-14 win, moments later, Mansfield finished off a victory of its own over Franklin, giving the division title, and a playoff berth, to the Hornets. In essence, KP’s victory allowed Mansfield, which had beaten the Warriors two weeks prior, to take the crown.

But KP wasn’t in a position to give up. The Warriors fell behind North, 14-13, on the final play of the third quarter as quarterback Ryan Perron (8 of 16, 191 yards, 2 TD) hit a wide-open Jake Dallaire on a seam route for a 63-yard touchdown.

On the ensuing Warriors’ drive, KP saw a promising march stall in the red zone, as North cornerback Dan Cummings intercepted a pass in the end zone.

The Red Rocketeers (6-4, 2-2) thought they’d notched an insurance score on a Dwayne Hunter run following the interception, but for the second time in the second half, a touchdown was scrubbed off the board due to a penalty (KP also had a score called back in the third quarter).

After a North punt, the Warriors took over with 3:13 on the clock, needing a score.

With about a minute to play, it appeared as though KP’s comeback attempt would sputter out, faced with a third-and-10 from the North 18-yard line. But, as he’d done for much of the game, Lee put the game in the hands of junior running back Joe Johnston (24 carries, 157 yards, 2 TD). He promptly bounced a run to the left side, going for 12 yards and extending the drive.

North’s defense was able to bottle up Johnston on three straight goal-to-go carries, however, posing Lee with the quandary of whether to put the ball in Johnston’s hands yet again, or call upon his untested freshman kicker to win the game.

That’s when No. 7 made his name known.

KP -- 7 6 0 3 -- 16
North -- 7 0 7 0 -- 14

First quarter
North - Alex Jette 21-yard pass from Ryan Perron (Dwayne Hunter kick)
KP - Joe Johnston 5-yard run (Derek Roschlein kick)

Second quarter
KP - Joe Johnston 1-yard run (kick failed)

Third quarter
North - Jake Dallaire 67-yard pass from Perron (Hunter kick)

Fourth quarter
KP - Derek Roschlein 22-yard field goal

NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. – Bewitched, bemused, bewildered, be- anything about the way the season’s gone so far in the Hockomock League. Trying to predict which teams will claim the respective division titles this year is a bit like tossing pebbles into the Manchester Pond Resevoir.

And so Friday night’s battle between No. 19 Mansfield and North Attleborough did not disappoint, with the Red Rocketeers separating themselves in the fourth quarter in a 36-21 win. It only further obfuscated the playoff picture in the Kelley-Rex division, paired with a Franklin loss to Taunton.

“Welcome to the Hockomock League,” North head coach Don Johnson quipped postgame.

The Red Rocketeers (5-3, 2-1 Kelley-Rex) have endured a seemingly never-ending tide of injuries throughout the season, but saw multi-threat running back and defensive back Alex Jette return for their showdown with the Hornets (5-3, 2-1).

North’s early offensive play calls massaged Jette into the flow, running him across the field on passing plays as a decoy in the backfield, faking toss sweeps. They also put the ball in the hands of senior quarterback Ryan Perron (7 of 14, 162 yards, 2 TDs) who effectively piloted the Red Rocketeers’ passing attack with a steady stream of screens and intermediate routes in three- and four-receiver sets.

Lately, Perron’s also shown off a big-play capacity, however, and it showed Friday night with two touchdown passes. On the game’s second play from scrimmage, Perron hit Jake Dellaire on a seam route for a 62-yard touchdown and an instant 7-0 lead. Just before the half, Perron connected with Jette on a shallow fade for a 40-yard touchdown pass which provided North with a 20-7 halftime lead.

“That was probably the biggest difference tonight, he made good decisions,” Johnson said of his quarterback. “He was just playing with so much confidence tonight, running and throwing the ball.”

Mansfield worked its way back in the second half behind a thumping run game. The Hornets bruised their way downfield on a 9-play, 64-yard drive to open the third, capped by Kevin Makie’s 6-yard touchdown run to make it a one-score game.

The Hornets claimed their first and last lead of the game on the final play of the third quarter as quarterback Kyle Wisnieski hit Mike Hershman for a 35-yard touchdown. With a successful point-after try, Mansfield took a 21-20 lead.

On the ensuing drive, Perron again piloted the Red Rocketeers’ offense, embarking a four-plus minute, 67-yard drive. Perron called his own number for his second rushing touchdown of the game, breaking a tackle in the open field to run 10 yards for a score. He then hit a wide-open Mike Lambert (INT, 2 PD) on a two-point conversion for a 28-21 lead with 6:32 to play.

Looking to even the score, Mansfield was hampered by a couple key penalty calls on its ensuing drive. The Hornets were stung by an illegal forward pass call on what would have been a huge third-down conversion pass to Brendan Hill on third and 14. The call resulted in a loss of downs and forced a Mansfield punt.

With the ball back in their hands and looking to soak the clock, North running back Dwayne Hunter broke the game open two plays later with a 75-yard touchdown run to ice it.

Listed at 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds, Hunter makes up in punch for what he lacks in stature. His running style belies his stature. He’s willing to initiate contact, but also hard to bring down with his low center of gravity.

Hunter (8 carries, 127 yards, TD) came up huge for the Red Racketeers however in the fourth quarter. His 25-yard gain on an outside pitch to the left side on fourth and 2 set up North first and goal from the 10-yard line with under seven minutes to play in the fourth. The next play saw Perron run for the game-winning touchdown. The senior running back then placed an exclamation point on the evening with his 75-yard touchdown, made on his adept cutback across the teeth of a Mansfield all-out blitz.

“The linebackers were blitzing, so I had to cut it up quick,” Hunter said of his run. They were overloading on one side, so I had to make a quick decision.”

Johnson heaped praise on his back, calling Hunter a “tough nut.”

Like the rest of this Red Rocketeers team, he just doesn’t crack.

North’s defensive front seven looked strong throughout, but saw Robbie Rapoza (14 carries, 135 yards, TD) and Co. find success against them in the second half. Yet, the Red Rocketeers turned Mansfield’s high-flying aerial attack, which scorched a good King Philip unit a week ago, into a relative non-factor.

Wisnieski was dealt with a steady stream of pressure, applied by rangy defensive end Tadkudzwa Chikomba (3 QB pressures) and linebacker Ben Jette.

Ben Jette, the fraternal twin of Alex, sealed a strong performance and the win for North with a strip-sack of Wisnieski on Mansfield’s final offensive drive. Ben Jette finished with three tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble.

“That’s why I’m so proud of these guys because we’ve been going through that now for about six weeks, asking guys to play different positions every week,” Johnson said. “Losing Harry [offensive/defensive lineman Harrison Carmichael] tonight, he’s one of our dominant players on both sides of the ball. We had to use [Sean] Peters at defensive end, he hasn’t gotten many reps out there and he’s banged up with his shoulder. We had to use [Eric] Beckwith as a guard … We’ve asked a lot of players to step up and they’ve done that.”

The pressure applied by the Red Rocketeers up front came in concert with strong efforts from Alex Jette and Jack Blasť at the cornerback positions. Jette tallied three passes defended, two of which came on a promising Mansfield drive late in the second quarter that ended in a turnover on downs and set up Jette’s touchdown reception.

“We didn’t blitz as much as we normally do, we felt that we just couldn’t give up the big play against them, so we played a lot more zone,” Johnson said. “We’d bring one of two guys here and there, but I think we did enough to keep them off-balance.”

Player of the Game: North QB Ryan Perron

October, 27, 2012
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. -- North Attleborough senior quarterback Ryan Perron was named our Massachusetts Army National Guard Player of the Game following the Red Rocketeers' huge 36-21 win over No. 19 Mansfield Friday night at Community Field.

Perron threw for 187 yards (8 of 15) with two touchdown passes while adding another two scores with his feet.

Editor Scott Barboza caught up with the Red Rocketeers' signal-caller postgame:

(Video shot and edited by Greg Story)

Game of the Week: No. 19 Mansfield at North Attleborough

October, 25, 2012
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. -- Community Field in North Attleborough will be rocking come Friday night as Hockomock League rival No. 19 Mansfield comes in for a pivotal Kelley-Rex division game in our Massachusetts Army National Guard Game of the Week.

Editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall break down the action from Community, as well as our weekly picks, in our Thursday Football Preview show. We also caught up with Red Rocketeer senior players Alex and Ben Jette, quarterback Ryan Perron and head coach Don Johnson.

Also, we give you a reminder to come out to North for some free ESPN Boston gear and from the National Guard. We'll be there in advance of Friday night's 7 p.m. kickoff.

(Video shot and edited by Greg Story)

Recap: No. 23 Stoughton 12, North Attleborough 7

October, 13, 2012
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. -- In a game where defense ruled, it was the Stoughton football team’s offense that ensured the Black Knights came out on top against North Attleborough, winning, 12-7, on the road at Community Field on Friday night.

A 17-play Red Rocketeers drive that spanned 10 minutes – the last six of the third quarter and the first four of the fourth – resulted in a touchdown with 6:53 left in the game put them up 7-6, and seemed like it shifted momentum completely in their favor.

Until the kickoff, when Malachi Baugh picked up a rolling kick at the 13-yard line and returned it 42 yards to the North 45.

“Through that whole drive, I was just trying to keep strength and focus,” Baugh said. “On the kickoff, I just saw some holes and took advantage and ran up the field.”

Baugh followed up with a 12-yard carry and an 18-yard carry to move the ball down to the 15-yard line.

“That was huge,” Stoughton coach Greg Burke said. “I don’t know what else to tell you. The fourth-down conversion before they scored shouldn’t have happened, but that’s high school football. It was a big play, though. Baugh is real tough.”

Frankie Morris finished the job two carries carries later, scoring on a 14-yard sweep left to put Stoughton back on top.

The flurry of late scoring played out completely different than the rest of the game, in which North Attleborough (3-3) totaled 180 yards of offense and Stoughton had just 163.

The teams each possessed the ball just once in the first quarter, and North’s 14-play opening drive stalled out after a chop block penalty erased a 1st-and-goal opportunity from the 4-yard line.

After a couple of penalties and plays that resulted in a loss of yards, Stoughton took over on downs at the 25.

The Black Knights (6-0) piled up a 16-play drive, but eventually came up short at the 4-yard line. Stoughton’s defense turned in an impressive three-and-out, forcing a punt from the 10. The punt wobbled out of bounds at the 24, setting the Knights up for an easy score.

Five plays later, Morris took off on a sweep left – the same play he scored the game-winner on – and plunged into the end zone from six yards out with 2:14 left in the first half.

From there, the teams traded defensive stands until the Red Rocketeers took over with 5:09 left in the third, when they set out on the 17-play drive.

Quarterback Ryan Perron, who finished with 13 carries for 45 yards and was 9-for-13 passing for 65 yards, was the driving force behind the extended scoring series.

On fourth and 2 from the 19, he delivered a 16-yard pass to a wide open Tyler Sellner, who had three catches for 32 yards.

On the ensuing first-and-goal play, Perron plunged three yards into the endzone. A made point after try gave them a brief lead.

The Red Rocketeers went into the game knowing two of their best players would be watching from the sidelines.

Alex Jette, the team’s starting running back and their most dynamic playmaker, was in a walking boot with a stress fracture in his foot.

Fellow senior captain Sean Peters missed the game after his shoulder flared up earlier this week in practice. Peters, a two-way lineman who is catching some Div. 1 interest, tore his labrum playing basketball last year.

“We didn’t lose this game because of who we didn’t have,” North Attleborough coach Don Johnson said. “We lost this game because, like the last few weeks, we didn’t make plays we needed to make. If we had those guys, would we have won this game? I think so, but we didn’t have them and we didn’t get it done.”

Late in the game, Stoughton lost Adam Leonard to a leg injury that required splinting before he was carried off the field.

“I hope Leonard is OK,” Burke said. “He’s one of the best players in the state, and not having him is going to be a big blow to us. I don’t know what the injury was, I’m not a doctor, but we’ll find out soon.”

Recap: No. 17 North 27, No. 13 BC High 7

September, 15, 2012
(Highlights by correspondent Patrick Welter.)

BOSTON- North Attleborough did Friday what some teams spend a whole season hoping to do: walk into a hostile playing environment against a team hoping to prove a point, dominate at the point of attack for four quarters, win, and make a statement along the way.

The No. 17 Rocketeers went into No. 13 BC High and walked out with a 27-7 victory and the attention of the entire Hockomock League.

“I’m about to tear up right now, it’s one of the greatest feelings,” said North Attleborough’s Dwayne Hunter, Jr., who had 11 carries for 130 yards behind its offensive line. “Our goal is to try to get to the Super Bowl, we’re trying to do what we gotta do, take it one game at a time. We didn’t come out thinking we were gonna smash this team, but as you can see, we did.”

After being shut out 21-0 last Friday against Brockton, BC High was out to prove that result was more fluke than anything else. However, it struggled to get anything going offensively.

North Attleborough (2-0) out-gained the Eagles 445 yards to 96 in the game.

The defense was able to keep the team in the game early by intercepting Ryan Perron (6-of-13 for 81 yards) twice in the first quarter, one Tim Johnson took back 40 yards for a touchdown.

[+] EnlargeNorth Attleborough celebration
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comEmotions are running high in North Attleborough after the Red Rocketeers dominated BC High in an upset, outgaining the Eagles 445-96 from scrimmage.
Things got worse from there for the Eagles (0-2). After North Attleborough drove 80 yards on its ensuing possession to make it a one-point game, it was the benefit of its own mistake. Hunter, also the team’s kicker, lined up to kick off, but failed to get his foot properly under the ball, which sent a line drive into a BC High blocker. The football bounced back in North’s direction and Hunter fell on it to keep possession.

The play went in North’s favor so well that some wondered if it was actually a planned, unorthodox onside kick.

“No, that was purely accidental,” Red Rocketeers head coach Don Johnson said. “He was instructed to kick it deep and down and hard. The same thing happened at our game last week, and he recovered the kick, so that was just luck.”

Three minutes later, Alex Jette took a handoff five yards for a touchdown, and the Rocketeers never looked back.

Just one week after accounting for 345 all-purpose yards against Rhode Island power La Salle Academy, Jette was back at it again for North Attleborough. While his point totals were not nearly as abundant as they were last Friday (just 128 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and 53 yards receiving), he still made an impact on the game.

That kind of productivity, as a team, not just from Jette, will be extremely important for NA as it gets into its Hockomock League schedule if the team’s passing game is not clicking as much as it would like.

“We don’t have a weak spot,” said Jette when talking about his team’s run game. “We thought we were going to have a problem running up the middle against them today. They have huge linebackers and a huge defensive line, but we were able to run successful counters and then get the ball to the other side and catch them off guard.

Jette also made an impact on defense with an interception of Collins. He faced a tall order all night, literally, because he was matched up against the 6-foot-4 Lincoln Collins. While he was giving up three inches to the wideout, Jette held Collins to only two catches for 16 yards.

“Obviously he’s a great wide receiver,” Jette said. “He has a few inches on me, but our defense ran a lot of blitzes tonight, and I think that helped. We got pressure to the quarterback and he wasn’t able to get it to Lincoln Collins, so that helped me overall cover him better.”

BC High has yet to score an offensive touchdown through the first eight quarters of its season. Its lone touchdown came on Tim Johnson’s pick-six of Perron in the first quarter.

The Eagles have struggled to mount consistent offense yet this season, partly due to its well-documented injuries, most notably on offense to quarterback Brandon Craven. Danny Collins, his replacement, was 3-of-9 for 30 yards and an interception Friday.

It appeared the tide could have been turning in the third quarter, when the defense recovered a Hunter fumble at its own 10-yard line. After going three-and-out, the Eagles punted, but North Attleborough’s Tyler Sellner muffed the punt and BC High fell on the loose ball.

Unfortunately for them, NA brought a heavy rush on second and third down, getting to Collins each time, forcing a punt again.

--- With a 2-0 record and the way it dominated its opponents the past two weeks, the rest of the Hockomock League has to have its eyes on North Attleborough. As the season rolls on to its third week, the Rocketeers have become one of, if not the team to beat in the division. There will be no sneaking up on anyone.

“We came into these games knowing that they’re non-league games, but we could only come out here with a positive game,” Jette said. “Especially beating a great team like [BC High], that’s just a huge motivation factor, and now we just have to focus on winning our league games and making it into the playoffs.”

NA --- 6 6 0 15 --- 27
BC --- 7 0 0 0 --- 7

1st Quarter
BC - Tim Johnson 40-yard interception return (Jackson Bockhorst kick good)
NA - Ryan Perron 3-yard run (Dwayne Hunter, Jr. kick no good)

2nd Quarter
NA - Alex Jette 5-yard run (Two-point conversion no good)

4th Quarter
NA - Perron 2-yard run (Perron 2-point conversion run good)
NA - Jack Blase 13-yard run (Hunter, Jr. kick good)

No. 16 North strives to be one better

August, 25, 2012
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. -- It’s hard to look back on a one-loss season and not feel pride, even if that one loss made all the difference.

When North Attleborough football walked off the field after a 14-7 win over border rival Attleboro on Thanksgiving Day, the team members soon learned their season had come to an end. They went into the final day of the season needing some help from Franklin pulling off a potential upset over King Philip. After dropping an earlier decision to KP, North needed a game in hand to represent the league in the Eastern Mass Division 2 playoffs.

Even as the Red Rocketeers are in the midst of two-a-days, the memory of last season is fresh. But they’ve also turned a negative into positive motivation. After all, the Hockomock League Kelley-Rex division co-champions still accomplished something major.

But it was yet another season that ended on Turkey Day, the same fashion it has since Big Red last claimed a Super Bowl title in 2002.

“Everybody counted us out last season, and no one expected us to do anything, so to come out 9-1, “ Hockomock League all-star senior lineman Eric Beckwith said, “we’re proud of our season, but we just wish we would’ve went further.”

And so Big Red returns with a great sense of urgency.

“We realize now how much one game can mean,” senior captain Harrison Carmichael said. That’s going to make us all that much hungrier to win every single game. We don’t want to have one that we look back on that we’re not proud of.”

North also returns with much the same identity, a team built on pride with a stingy defense that applies constant pressure on its opponent. However, the Red Rocketeers have something in its returning offensive line that it hasn’t often had – size.

With stalwarts Beckwith, Carmichael and Sean Peters anchoring the line, they’ll be both experienced and physically imposing.

“Usually we’re depending on our scat backs to make things happen,” North head coach Don Johnson said. “I still think we have the speed to get to the outside, but I think we have another dimension where if we’re in a situation that we need a first down, we can just pound it out.”

When talking to a group of senior leaders in between double sessions, it was striking how much energy they had. Johnson is excited for the Class of 2013, a group that is exception off the field as they are talented.

“You just have to bring energy to every practice,” inside linebacker Reid Holden said. “You have to set the tone. You bring the energy, ready to hit somebody, that carries you through and gets everybody going.”

That intensity isn’t about to wane any time soon.

North enters the season with two great challenges, playing Rhode Island powerhouse La Salle Academy in its opener before traveling to Dorchester for a date with the reigning Division 1 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl champions of BC High.

And, of course, there’s that always-daunting Hockomock League schedule.

“You have to view every game in the league the same,” senior captain Alex Jette said, “that the team who makes the fewest mistakes is probably going to be the team that wins.”

2011 record: 9-1 (Hockomock Kelley-Rex co-champions)
Head Coach: Don Johnson (4th year, 27-4)
Players to watch: Alex Jette, Sr. RB/DB, 6-0, 170; Eric Beckwith, Sr. OT/DT, 6-2 ,275; Sean Peters, Sr. OT/DT, 6-4, 225; Harrison Carmichael, Sr .G/DE, 6-2, 195; Dwayne Hunter Jr., Sr. RB/LB, 5-6, 170; Reid Holden, Sr. ILB, 5-9, 170.
Strengths: Size and physicality on line; depth at running back; experience in secondary
Weaknesses: Inexperience at quarterback; defensive depth.

Outlook: The Red Rocketeers have a position battle going on in camp worth watching with senior Ryan Perron and junior James Kummer looking to fill Spyro Varetimos’ spot under center. North is settled in the backfield, however, with the multi-talented Jette leading the rushing attack. “He’s a great all-around athlete, so our offensive coordinator can dream up a lot of things,” Johnson said. “He can run the ball, he can catch it and throw it. The only thing we haven’t figured out is how he could throw the ball to himself.” On defense, the Red Rocketeers lack depth, but can always get after the quarterback. They galvanize around inside linebacker Holden, who stepped in that role midway through last season.