Boston High School: Santino Brancato

ESPN Boston Week 8 football picks

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
1:04
AM ET
NO. 23 CENTRAL CATHOLIC (6-1) AT LOWELL (6-1)
The Skinny: Both teams enter with a 1-0 MVC record, coming off their first league games last week. Lowell rolled over Billerica 56-34 while Central Catholic slipped past Chelmsford 28-21. Cam Latta has picked up where R.J. Noel left off at quarterback this year for Lowell at quarterback, throwing for 12 touchdowns and running for seven more. Central Catholic running back Santino Brancato leads the Raiders with eight touchdowns on the season, none bigger than his final score last week with 41 seconds remaining which was the game-winner over Chelmsford.

Scott Barboza: This will be high-scoring, but relatively tame by MVC standards. Central, 34-28.

Brendan Hall: Because Lowell can score in bunches, and because it's the MVC, take the over. Central Catholic, 38-31.

NO. 13 ANDOVER (7-0) AT CHELMSFORD (4-3)
The Skinny: After a hot start, Chelmsford is trying to snap a three-game losing streak and risk falling behind in the competitive Merrimack Valley Conference's large division. They'll have their hands full against one of the state's most prolific offenses, averaging nearly 400 yards and 39 points per game, between quarterback C.J. Scarpa and receivers Andrew Deloury, Will Heikkinen and Cam Farnham.

Barboza: I think the Lions will try to play ball control for a while, but that can only last so long against the high-octane Andover offense. Andover, 42-31.

Hall: Do you see a recurring theme with our MVC picks? Offense, offense, offense. Andover, 40-35.

LINCOLN-SUDBURY (6-1) AT WESTFORD (6-1)
The Skinny: Like several other key league matchups this weekend, this matchup can potentially put one team in the driver's seat for the Dual County Large title. It's no secret what L-S brings to the table, but workhorse Chris Giorgio is among the league's toughest running backs. Westford counters with jack-of-all-trades athlete Justin Mount, who fills multiple roles on both sides of the ball.

Barboza: Picked the Warriors to win the DCL Large in the preseason and I'm not about to step back now. But the Warriors get it done by a chin. L-S, 14-13.

Hall: Flip a coin in this one. I landed on the Ghosts. Westford, 24-17.

NO. 9 BROCKTON (4-3) AT NO. 14 LEOMINSTER (5-2)
The Skinny: Each of these teams received a boost in different ways last week. The Boxers saw the return of their starting quarterback and emotional leader Auggie Roberts in a drubbing of Big Three rival Durfee. Meanwhile, a Blue Devils offense that has had its troubles in recent weeks, shook off the rust to muster a gut-check, two-minute drive to pull out a last-second victory at Central Mass. rival St. John’s of Shrewsbury, led by quarterback Garrett DelleChiaie. Now, both teams meet in a non-league, late-season measuring stick game to see just how far these offenses have come. Not to mention, both teams can really lay the lumber on defense.

Barboza: Blue Devils ride the wave of momentum. Leominster, 28-20.

Hall: It won't be a shutout, but it won't be as shocking an upset when the Blue Devils take two straight for the first time in...help, anyone? Leominster, 21-14.

HINGHAM (6-1) AT NO. 6 DUXBURY (7-0)
The Skinny: An eagerly awaited battle for the inside edge at the Patriot League Keenan division title, the competition should be as fierce at the tailgate as it will be on the field when the Dragons put their Eastern Mass. best 33-game winning streak on the line. A stout Duxbury defense, led by Mr. Football Award challenger Marshall McCarthy will have its hands full with the Harbormen’s wing-T and backfield led by Ricky Sullivan.

Barboza: The Dragons run their streak to 34 games, but it won’t be without difficulty. Duxbury, 13-7.

Hall: As usual, the Dragons will pull something together in the second half and do just enough to win. Duxbury, 20-17.

NEEDHAM (5-2) AT NO. 10 NATICK (7-0)
The Skinny: After a solid start to the season, Needham is now looking to avoid a two-game losing skid and dropping three of its last five. What better an opponent to try to snap the skid than against one of the state's prolific offenses, led by quarterback Troy Flutie (1,477 passing yards, 19 TD, 4 INT; 555 rushing yards, 7 TD) and receiver Brian Dunlap (41 catches, 784 yards, 11 TD). Needham is also coming off a 31-0 shutout loss to a Walpole squad that was missing its top running back to injury.

Barboza: No chance the Red Hawks aren't undefeated setting up a winner-take-all against Walpole. Can't wait. Natick, 31-17.

Hall: Every time we predict a high-scoring affair involving a Bay State team, it never goes as planned. So I'm going with something fairly pedestrian. Natick, 21-12.

NO. 19 MANSFIELD (5-2) AT NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH (4-3)
The Skinny: The Red Rocketeers will need a win to keep pace with Mansfield (2-0) in the Kelley-Rex division race. The X-factor will be the availability of senior running back and defensive back Alex Jette. While it’s expected Jette will play, the extent to which he’ll be able to contribute is very much up in the air. Still, North is readily able to move the ball on the ground thanks to a physical offensive line anchored by left tackle Eric Beckwith. Mansfield got off to a great start in last week’s blowout of King Philip and the Red Rocketeers’ secondary will have its hands full with playmakers Brendan Hill and Mike Hershman. The Hornets have seen junior linebacker Alexander Ruddy (team-leading 55 tackles, 8 TFL) embrace a larger role this year.

Barboza: In each of the team’s last four meetings, the AWAY team has collected the victory. Not about to buck the recent trend. Mansfield, 26-21.

Hall: Per tradition, the away team wins this one with an epic possession in the final five minutes. Mansfield, 20-13.

NO. 22 KING PHILIP (6-1) AT ATTLEBORO (4-3)
The Skinny: King Philip was soundly delivered a rude awakening a week ago at Mansfield, in a 46-33 loss, and now looks to avoid falling behind in the Hockomock's Kelly-Rex division by extending Attleboro's losing streak. The skid currently stands at three games for the Bombardiers after a 4-0 start, and can't seem to get over the hump -- take, for instance, Malique Clark's nearly 300-yard rushing performance in a 44-41 loss to Franklin last week. An Attleboro win would surely create even more confusion at the top of the division.

Barboza: Warriors defense gets back on track, but it won't be easy against Clark. KP, 21-14.

Hall: I'm all for chaos when it comes to Hockomock bracketology. Get out your TI-83's, folks. Attleboro, 30-20.

WAKEFIELD (6-1) AT STONEHAM (7-0)
The Skinny: It's been a long time since Stoneham has had this good of a start, but the Spartans still face questions about a perceived weak schedule. This is their chance to prove doubters wrong, with defensively-sound Wakefield coming off a 33-0 shutout loss to Burlington.

Barboza: In a word, "SPARRRTAAAHHHHHH!" Stoneham, 20-16.

Hall: Because what the heck, I love rolling the dice, and I want to keep my boss and resident Stoneham-ite Dave Lefort happy. Stoneham, 17-13.

MILTON ACADEMY (3-2) AT BELMONT HILL (3-2)
The Skinny: The Mustangs and Hillies are looking to break free from a logjam of 3-2 teams in the middle of the ISL standings. Milton Academy is led by junior Drew Jacobs, who already has four multi-touchdown games this season. The Mustangs also have one of the biggest offensive weapons in the ISL on the foot of place kicker Justin Yoon.

Barboza: Yoon’s foot provides the difference. Milton Academy, 13-10.

Hall: Let me preface this by saying Justin Yoon can kick for anyone any day of the week. Belmont Hill, 14-10.

ROXBURY LATIN (4-1) AT BB&N (3-2)
The Skinny: Its hopes of an undefeated season no more, Roxbury Latin looks to get back on the saddle and stay in contention for the ISL championship and a NEPSAC Bowl berth. A win here over the Knights, with its solid line and elite target in Wake Forest-bound tight end Brendan O'Neil, would bolster those odds. And the Foxes have the horses to do it, led by Boston College-bound quarterback MacKay Lowrie.

Barboza: Knights can take advantage of the matchup along the line of scrimmage. They'll win the point of attack battle. BB&N, 28-27.

Hall: I'll never count out a John Papas-coached team as long as the guy is in the business, but Latin can win track meets. Roxbury Latin, 35-30.

ESPN Boston Week 2 football picks

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
2:41
AM ET
NO. 19 AUBURN (1-0) AT HOLLISTON (0-1)
The Skinny: Retribution is on Holliston's mind after last year's tough 14-13 loss in Auburn, and they'll face an uphill battle in trying to return the favor on their own turf. The Panthers fell to a talented Stoughton squad last week, while Auburn looked sharp in an easy victory over Shrewsbury. Holliston's Max Athy is a playmaker on defense, but the Panthers will have their hands full against an Auburn offensive line that averages nearly 280 pounds across and has been playing together for the last two seasons.

Co-editor Scott Barboza: The Panthers have some nice athletes on defense, the Rockets line simply takes over. Auburn, 28-14.

Co-editor Brendan Hall: Rockets will win again, and this time there will be no dispute about it. Auburn, 21-6.

DENNIS-YARMOUTH (0-0) AT NO. 4 BARNSTABLE (1-0)
The Skinny: The last three results of this early-season rivalry have been decided by a total of five points, with D-Y holding a two-game win streak in the series, making this the fiercest non-Thanksgiving rivalry on Cape Cod. Barnstable figures to have the advantage offensively, with Nick Peabody leading a potent and speedy attack that is coming off a 55-3 blowout of Durfee, but the Dolphins have always devised a great defensive game plan to slow things down. The key matchup might be in the trenches, where Barnstable center Tom Grimmer is expected to square off with D-Y tackle Joe Tyo.

Barboza: I think the rivalry factor keeps this game closer than it might look otherwise. Barnstable, 25-21.

Hall: On paper, the Red Raiders have an advantage in many facets of this game. But they don't call it a "Backyard Brawl" for the seafood chowder. I'm hoping to get out of Hyannis in one piece after this one.

Barnstable, 21-20. NO. 6 LONGMEADOW (1-0) AT NO. 18 ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY (1-0)
The Skinny: St. John's may have answered any offensive questions with its 47-point outburst over Holy Name last week, but may have raised defensive ones by allowing 40 points and over 460 yards rushing. The road doesn't get any easier this week, with some calling this Longmeadow's best shot at getting an elusive win over the Pioneers. As usual, they'll do it behind a surgical Wing-T scheme, with an all-senior line led by Rob McClure and Lou Calabrese. Pioneers quarterback Andrew Smiley looked impressive in his varsity debut, and he'll be hoping for another big day from Shadrach Abrokwah to open up the middle of the field again.

Barboza: I think Longmeadow is able to play ball control and keep St. John's offense off the field. And it doesn't matter where Frankie Elder is lined up, he makes it happen. Longmeadow, 20-13.

Hall: Much like Holy Name last week, this is the year Longmeadow has to beat St. John's. But if this turns into a track meet again, I don't like the Lancers' chances. St. John's, 30-20.

NO. 1 EVERETT (1-0) AT NO. 15 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (1-0)
The Skinny: A season ago, Central rolled into Everett Memorial Stadium and was swiftly handed a 42-13 loss. The Golden Eagles have grown up a lot since that fateful night in Everett, reeling off 10 straight wins en route to the 2011 D1 West Super Bowl, and return many key components, including quarterback Cody Williams and defensive tackle Shawn Lockett. Everett remains unsettled, with running back Kenny Calaj's status up in the air and the quarterback situation a mystery. Last week, the Tide resorted to Gilly De Souza under center, even though he'd never played the position before, but he got the job done in a 29-7 win over Leominster. The biggest question might be whether the Eagles' secondary can contain Everett's talented perimeter players, specifically Jakarrie Washington and Jalen Felix.

Barboza: Similar to Everett's matchup with Leominster last week, Central is a strong team in its own right, but just not enough to dethrone King Crimson. Everett, 34-21.

Hall: Central might have its own "Honey Badger" (the good kind, of course), but the Tide have "Felix The Cat". Everett, 35-14.

No. 21 NEEDHAM (1-0) at No. 20 MANSFIELD (1-0)
The Skinny: Both teams rolled in the season openers last week, but this one could go down to the final seconds. The Rockets had a tremendous performance last week from Mike Panepinto (8 carries, 181 yards) running behind a line anchored by tackle Mitch Hildreth. Meanwhile, Mansfield claimed a 49-15 romp over Westfield. Alex Ruddy led the Hornets on defense, racking up 10 tackles (8 solo) in last week’s win and will be a key to slowing down the Rockets’ rushing attack.

Barboza: The scoreboard at Mansfield might malfunction trying to keep up with the scoring in this one. Needham, 35-34.

Hall: We could honestly see 800 yards of offense in this one. Mansfield, 38-34.

No. 9 BROCKTON (1-0) at No. 22 READING (1-0)
The Skinny: The question is what the Boxers will do with the momentum they gained while shutting out BC High last week. Will they ride the wave and roll over the Rockets? Or does this game have let down written all over it? The matchup to watch will be watching Rocket-armed Reading quarterback Drew Belcher operating against the Brockton secondary led by Micah Morel. Boxers QB Auggie Roberts had a huge week against BC High, running to the tune of 139 yards and two touchdowns, so the Rockets will need to slow down the triple-option threat if they’re to defend their home turf.

Barboza: Made this pick in the preseason when we projected out Brockton’s record through the first month of the season. Boxers are moving to 2-0. Brockton, 25-21.

Hall: Since Reading head coach John Fiore is a big pro wrestling fan (just like Scott and I), my gut tells me the Rockets will deliver a Stone Cold Stunner under the bright lights. Reading, 21-20.

NO. 17 NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH (1-0) at NO. 13 BC HIGH (0-1)
The Skinny: BC High will assuredly enter this one ticked off as a bull after failing to get on the board against Brockton in Week 1. But what the Eagles will look like on offense is a whole other deal. Brendan Craven joined BC High's growing MASH unit against Brockton and should be out a month. On the other hand, North enters with a modicum of momentum after dispatching Rhode Island's No. 1 squad, La Salle Academy. Alex Jette went off for 346 all-purpose yards while scoring three touchdowns as our Player of the Week for Week 1.

Barboza: I think the X-factor is the Red Rocketeers' offensive line, which is athletics as ever, but also one of the biggest lines Don Johnson's ever seen in his tenure. North, 14-13.

Hall: I'm getting antsy here. If BC High can't pull this one out, I'm 0-2 with the Eagles and I might have to default on my mortgage. I'm still in debt to Galvo for my anti-Brockton picks. BC High, 13-6.

CENTRAL CATHOLIC (1-0) at NO. 3 ST. JOHN'S PREP (1-0)
The Skinny: The question of this matchup might be how many passes are attempted. These teams love them some ground game and, why not? With running backs like Central's Santino Brancato and Prep's Alex Moore and Jonathan Thomas, there's not a lot of incentive for airing out the ball. This one is going to be settled with three yards and a cloud of dust.

Barboza: Even though these teams could end up in a ball-control kind of game, I think there will be a couple of big running plays to be had for either side. Prep, 31-20.

Hall: As they have done in recent years, the Raiders will find a way to make this game interesting. But if they don't, then you know Prep is for real. Prep, 24-10.

Recap: Central Catholic 7, No. 20 SJP 6 (OT)

September, 17, 2011
9/17/11
11:49
PM ET



LAWRENCE, Mass. -- St. John's Prep head coach Jim O'Leary was asked about going for two instead of kicking an extra point in the first overtime of last night's 7-6 overtime loss to Central Catholic. And in trademark Jim O'Leary fashion, the long-time Eagles coach shot back a look that screamed, Are you kidding me?

Say what you want about the Eagles' conservative game plan tonight on offense, but in the crunch time O'Leary isn't afraid to roll the dice. Unfortunately for them, the Eagles (0-2) came up short, as Jack Sharrio was stopped short of the goal line by a gang of Raiders defenders, as Central (1-1) went on to score a big non-conference win, under the lights at Lawrence Veterans Memorial Stadium.

"There was no decision. We were going for two," said O'Leary, who opted to play defense first in the overtime. "You have an opportunity to win the game, on the road, win the game at home, you go for the win. Because if you go back to the 25 [yard line], anything can happen. It's not like we were ripping it up, moving the ball all over the field, you know?

"I've done that forever. We were gonna go for two. That's why you defer and go on defense, so you have that opportunity to win the game. Why stretch it out?"

On the other sideline, the Raiders scored a momentum swing for their program headed into Merrimack Valley Conference play next week, after dropping a 9-7 decision to an underrated Marlborough squad in the opening week.

"We weren't happy with how we played last week," Raiders head coach Chuck Adamopoulos said. "Marlborough beat us. We're not gonna say we played bad and that's why they won -- Marlborough beat us. We needed to bounce back with the game we had. Two years ago, we go down there and Marlborough spanked us pretty good, then we upset St. John's [Prep] and Dracut back to back, and kinda got on a roll. Hopefully this game kinda does the same thing."

Some key points from the game:

Play of the game, Pt. I: Central's game-winning touchdown on the second play of their first overtime series was called "Trips Left 79 Snare". Lining up with three receivers to the left, split end Henry Rodriguez ran eight yards upfield towards the left hash mark, and sat. After corralling in Matt McDermott's pass and charging towards the left pylon, Rodriguez was sprung loose by a block near the goal line.

"He got the ball to the right guy," said offensive coordinator John Sexton.

McDermott said Rodriguez "ran it exactly as he was supposed to" and "really did all the work", but for Rodriguez, it was the least the 5-foot-11 senior could do after dropping a pass earlier in the game.

"To be honest, I just...I dropped that first pass, and I'm usually a guy that struggles with confidence, so I kept my head up and got in, because I got benched for that [earlier]. I just kept my head up, ran my route right and scored."

McDermott said that play was "open all night" and confessed he was actually looking backside, because there was no safety over the top.

"I shoulda thrown it earlier," he said. "But it worked out as it did, and I'm not going to take anything back. It was awesome."

Play of the game, Pt. II: The Eagles' most threatening scoring drive of the night was thwarted by an unusual heads-up play from the unlikeliest of players. Senior nose guard Pat Hammond is your classic one-gap, speed-rush nose guard at 5-foot-7 and 195 pounds; and on third and goal from the Raiders' four yard line with 4:45 to go in the game, Hammond slipped through the playside A-gap immediately and stole Sharrio's handoff.

"He plays like his personality, because he's a pain in the butt," Adamopoulos laughed. "He's very disruptive. He's small, but he's quick and he gets in the backfield. That was a huge play that he made for us at that point. We forced the turnovers when we had to."

Getting loose: Was it a solid defensive game or just two offenses still breaking in new parts? Perhaps the answer is somewhere in between. The two teams combined for just six first downs in the first half, with Central's Ryan Barry, Christian Nunez and Hammond giving the Eagles a game in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Adamopoulos admitted after the game that in his 15 years at the helm "we're about as inexperienced as we've been since I've been head coach".

Meanwhile, the Eagles have been adjusting to a "flex" scheme similar to what Paul Johnson runs at Georgia Tech, complete with wide splits, wingbacks flanking outside the tackles and an excellent dive back in sophomore Jonathan Thomas (21 carries, 81 yards).

The gates started to open up in the third quarter, with the teams combining for 130 yards rushing (Central had 67, including Santino Brancato's 43-yard scamper that was the longest play from scrimmage). Each team also had two turnovers.

CENTRAL CATHOLIC 7, ST. JOHN'S PREP 6

SJ (0-2) 0 0 0 0 6 --- 6
CC (1-1) 0 0 0 0 7 --- 7

Overtime
C - Henry Rodriguez 25 pass from Matt McDermott (Tommy Jenoski kick)
S - Jack Sharrio 10 run (rush failed)

Recap: Marlborough 9, Central Catholic 7

September, 10, 2011
9/10/11
12:18
AM ET
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- Sophomore running back Paul Goulet and junior kicker Alex Tello put up nine points in the first quarter while senior lineman Pete Wambolt and the Panther defense held Central Catholic to one score, securing their first victory of the season, 9-7, in a contest that means more to Wambolt than the 1-0 record might indicate.

“The last time we beat Central Catholic we went to the Super Bowl,” said the co-captain. “This year, we’re going to the Super Bowl.”

Goulet (6 carries, 33 yards) topped off the Panthers four-play first drive with a for a 13-yard touchdown run less than two minutes in the game. The Panthers opened up with two straight running plays, one to junior captain Austin Garvey (17-71) for four yards and the next an option rollout from senior quarterback Dennis Duplessis for three. The false start penalty made it third and long for the Panthers from their 25, but junior wide receiver Michael Tirpak was wide open down the field and Duplessis dropped the ball into his hands. Tirpak scatted down the left sideline and was taken out of bounds after a 62-yard gain.

Then Goulet came.

He took the handoff and ran into the end zone. He was contested, but he was not used to being contested in the manner that he was during his first touch of the season.

“I thought I was going to get hit hard going up the middle like that,” said Goulet. “They were arm tacking, I didn’t get hit directly. I went in between two linemen then I made a cut and got open. “

Goulet’s teammates do not treat him as well in practice.

“Coach [Sean Mahoney] looks in practice to see who wants to play, so we go full out and hit hard. I wasn’t used to [arm tackling], I was expecting to get hit hard.”

The extra point attempt by Tello was deflected, making the game 6-0.

“I think we had penetration inside,” said Mahoney.

The Panthers got another chance to score after a Dillon Garvey interception on the Central Catholic 35 on the following drive. After getting down to the 7-yard line, Raider linebacker Santino Brancato (5.5 tackles) sacked junior Mike Yates for an eight yard loss setting up fourth and goal from the 15. Mahoney called on Tello again and he tacked up a 33-yard field goal with 5:19 left in the game putting the Panthers up 9-0.

“I came into this game thinking that I was going to make every kick,” said Tello. “I forgot about the missed PAT. I went in there confident for the field goal and made it.”

Early in the second quarter, Central Catholic was able to score on a nine yard bull rush by Brancato (11 carries, 26 yards), who bowled over a few players himself en route to the plane. Unfortunately, the score and point after try by junior Tommy Jenoski were the only points the Raiders could put on the board for the evening.

“I was looking for the bus,” said Central Catholic coach Chuck Adamopoulos jokingly after looking at the 9-0 score in the first quarter.

His team was not ready to give up though. They drove down to the six with 45 seconds left in the first half with a chance to get a first down and possible score before the half to take the lead. However, Brancato’s rush on fourth and one and Goulet’s tackle for no gain put an end to that drive and ultimately sealed the deal for Marlboro on opening night.

Central Catholic (0-1) 0 7 0 0 -- 7
Marlborough (1-0) 9 0 0 0 -- 9

First Quarter

M – Paul Goulet 13 run (kick blocked)
M – Alex Tello 33 FG

Second Quarter
C – Santino Branccato 9 run (Tommy Jenoski kick)

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)

SPONSORED HEADLINES