Boston High School: Shane Blass

Recap: No. 23 Walpole 16, No. 21 Natick 13

November, 12, 2011

WALPOLE, Mass. -- Colton Mitchell is prone to nail a 40-yard field goal, sometimes 45, usually down the middle, in a practice at Walpole High. This, however, was anything but.

"I was very nervous," the No. 23 Rebels' sophomore placekicker admitted of the moments before he was set to attempt a game-winning field goal over Natick. "Everyone kept coming up to me on the sidelines, and I just had the thought of it coming through. All of them helped me get it through."

The sophomore took three steps back and to his left, then exhaled, as he lined up for a 25-yard chip shot with six seconds left in regulation. Then he grimaced as he watched it come off his right foot like a line drive, a frozen rope that sailed just six inches above the crossbar.

Mitchell is breathing easy tonight, the hero in a 16-13 last-second win over the No. 21 Red & Blue (8-2), which clinched a second straight Bay State Herget title and playoff berth for the Rebels (9-1). But boy, was fate playing with Mitchell's emotions for a few moments there.

"Very nervous," Mitchell said again, smiling, when asked about his emotions watching the kick. "I was like, 'Please, please get over'. Thankfully, it did."

Head coach Barry Greener, ever the gift for gab, offered empathy for Mitchell.

"None of us woulda wanted to have been out there trying," Greener laughed to reporters. "He's a great kid. You'll also see Mitchell as a punt returner and a wide receiver. He's a terrific player. He's been banged up -- broke his hand on a punt return in the Norwood game (in September), and we had trouble just to get him cleared to kick. Doctor didn't know you didn't need a hand for that."

So how did the game's outcome fall into the hands of a nervous 16-year-old kid? Enter Craig Hanley, a senior captain who finished the night with 107 yards and two scores on 15 carries, but saved most of his work for the second half. On the game's final drive, he had five touches for 47 yards, including a 23-yard dive up the middle in which he broke free of a shoestring tackle near the line of scrimmage to reel off another 15 yards down the left hash marks.

But on third and goal from the Natick 8 with 15 seconds to go, Hanley took a big hit at the line of scrimmage from linebacker Brian Tingley and came off the turf limping. Hanley said "it was just a dead leg" and that he'll be fine.

As for Mitchell's kick, Hanley said, "I was a little bit [nervous]. We were all holding hands on the sideline, 'Please kick it', and he got it in. We didn't know, because I saw it, and was like 'Is that wide left?'"

Winning the trenches: Behind a sound line of Gary DeVincintis, Dan Woods, Charlie Love, Rick Ordway and Dan King, the Rebels cranked out 312 yards on the ground, paving wide lanes at times for Hanley, Shane Blass and Steve Thulin with a series of dives, counters and sweeps from two-back formations.

On the other side, thanks in large part to its aggressive three-man front, which had totaled five sacks on Natick sophomore quarterback Troy Flutie, Walpole had yielded just 17 yards of Natick offense in the first half. And while the Red & Blue offense came alive in the second half, the tone had been set, with Woods at the nose and King bringing heat off the edge.

Against Natick's spread, which often deploys three and four-receiver sets, the Rebels left five in the box, but were clearly confident in their three-man front.

"We had a three-stack in [linebacker set] ready to go, which would give us a six-man box and blitz, but we never went to it," Greener said. "We worked on it a lot, but we stayed with the five-man box, we felt we could stop the run in a five-man box. Our front three are very, very good, and we go five deep. Gary DeVincintis had a heck of a game."

Tempo recognize tempo: Natick has been going no-huddle this season, with Flutie calling the plays out from the line of scrimmage, and as the game wore on they tried to speed the game up to an Oregon-like pace, sometimes getting the snap off in 15 or 20 seconds.

Asked about preparing for Natick's tempo, Walpole players and coaches merely shrugged -- and smiled.

"We've been working on that all week, we were ready for that all week," Hanley said. "We had great coaching."

What kind of coaching? Greener got colorful in describing his practice atmosphere.

"When we go to Team D after indie [individual] and group, we have two offenses running at our defense -- no rest," Greener said. "It is absolutely massive friggin' chaos out there. They don't have time to get down in their stances, we're running plays at them so fast.

"That's the way we try to practice -- uptempo, go, go, go. I honestly feel if you've got to run sprints after practice to stay in shape, you didn't practice fast enough. Basically, this was a slower pace than practice for us."

Glimpse of the future: If there's one thing we took away from Natick's performance, it's that they're going nowhere but up from here. It shouldn't surprise that inexperience shone through tonight, but that youthfulness has to have Red & Blue fans excited for the next few years.

It's hard to believe leading receiver Brian Dunlap, who caught his Bay State-best 13th touchdown pass tonight, is just a freshman. When Greener says things in the post-game like, "I told the kids it's not just Dunlap", it makes one take a step back and remember this is a kid who caught over 200 yards in his first varsity game as a 14-year-old.

Then there's Flutie, son of former Boston College and CFL star Darren, who reeled off a 53-yard touchdown run up the sidelines to knot the game at 6-6 early in the third. On an option keeper, Flutie juked a defender with a basketball-esque ball fake, slipped inside of a crackback block from Dimitri Kourtis, and outran the secondary to paydirt.

Later in the third quarter, Flutie knotted the game at 13-all with a 12-yard strike to Dunlap on a skinny post to the back of the end zone. Looks like they just might have practiced that one a few times.

"We think our pass game is pretty advanced," head coach Mark Mortarelli said. "Tonight it wasn't, but usually it is."

Said Greener of Flutie, "The thing that amazes me with him is that he calls everything from the line of scrimmage. I guess he's been doing it since he was 10."

NAT (8-2) 0 - 0 - 13 - 0 --- 13
WAL (9-1) 6 - 0 - 7 - 3 --- 16

First Quarter
W - Craig Hanley 5 run (kick failed) :07

Third Quarter
N - Troy Flutie 53 run (kick failed) 9:03
W - Hanley 4 run (Colton Mitchell kick) 5:52
N - Brian Dunlap 12 pass from Flutie (Sam Lenson kick) :27

Fourth Quarter
W - Mitchell 25 field goal :06

Mr. Football Watch: Week 9

October, 31, 2011

George Craan, Sr. RB, Concord-Carlisle - The Patriots scored on their first three plays from scrimmage in a 38-21 defeat of Weston, taking a 22-0 lead after five minutes and going up 38-0 at the half. Once again, short night of work for Craan, who scored his 15th rushing touchdown of the season.
Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett - Threw for six touchdown passes in a 41-14 rout of Medford and broke the state all-time record (85) in the process, completing 9 of 12 passes for 209 yards. He now has 88 career touchdown passes, and will likely have five more games to eclipse the century mark.
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica - In the Indians' 40-30 barnburner over Lowell, was 15 of 28 passing for 233 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for 112 yards and another score.
Sacoy Malone, Sr. RB, Springfield Central - Ran for 144 yards and a score in the Golden Eagles' 41-12 win over Agawam.
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth - Accounted for three scores in the Dolphins' 28-0 shutout of Plymouth South, completing 9 of 15 passes for 146 yards and a score, and rushing for 81 yards and two more scores.
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow - Carried the ball 15 times for 140 yards and four scores in the Lancers' 42-7 rout of Westfield.
Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury - In the Green Dragons' 34-7 win over Silver Lake, the Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit was 16 of 25 passing for 210 yards and three touchdowns.
Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Putnam - In the Beavers' 48-0 shutout of Amherst, ran for 224 yards and four scores, as they outgained the Hurricanes 500-51 in yards of offense.
Armani Reeves, Sr. RB/WR, Catholic Memorial - In the Knights' 26-7 win over St. John's Prep, the Penn State commit amassed 238 all-purpose yards. He ran for 98 yards and a score on eight carries, returned a punt 72 yards to the house, and hauled in a 34-yard catch.
Nick Schlatz, Sr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham - Ran for 132 yards and a touchdown, part of 346 total yards on the ground by the Trojans, in a 30-6 win over Dartmouth.
Cody Titus, Sr. RB, St. Bernard's - Eclipsed the 300-yard mark for the second time this season, on 29 carries, in a 40-32 loss to Narragansett.
Brandon Walsh, Sr. QB, North Andover - Easy night for Walsh in the Knights' 34-6 win over Revere, completing all three of his pass attempts for 28 yards and running in two touchdowns.
Michael Walsh, Sr. QB, Swampscott - In the Big Blue's 47-14 thrashing of Danvers, was 12 of 20 passing for 245 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried 10 times for 68 yards and two more scores, and from his safety spot on defense recorded three tackles and an interception.


Chris Bettano, Sr. RB, Tewksbury - Carried 32 times for 158 yards and two scores, and ran in the winning two-point conversion in overtime, in a 26-24 thriller over Methuen.
Shane Blass, Sr. RB, Walpole - Racked up 207 yards rushing and two scores on just nine carries, in a 34-0 blanking of Newton North.
Ozzy Colarusso, Jr. WR, Weymouth - Hauled in three touchdown passes and ran in a fourth score, in a 47-7 win over Braintree.
Jamison Craft, Sr. RB, Gardner - Carried 19 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-0 shutout of Lunenburg.
Brian Dunlap, Fr. WR, Natick - We know Dunlap, who ranks second in the state in touchdown receptions (11), can catch. In the 49-24 win over Needham, he hauled in two catches for 51 yards, but he also carried 12 times for 69 yards and three scores to pace the REd and Blue.
Dan Flink, Sr. RB, Auburn - The bulldozer carried 14 times for 75 yards and five touchdowns -- all in the first half -- in the Rockets' 42-14 rout of Grafton.
Troy Flutie, Soph. QB, Natick - In the Red and Blue's 49-24 win over Needham, completed 11 of 14 passes for 181 yards and two scores; he also ran for 124 yards and two more scores on 23 carries.
Jake Frechette, Sr. RB, Holliston - The four-year starter became the Panthers' all-time leading rusher following Friday's 35-13 rout of Millis/Hopedale, carrying 19 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
Greg Heineman, Sr. QB, Minnechaug - In the Falcons' 35-12 win over Holyoke, he completed 17 of 22 passes (to eight different receivers) for 143 yards and three total touchdowns.
Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr. FB/DT, Xaverian - He's becoming a household name for his work on the defensive side of the ball. But it was his work carrying the ball in Saturday's 27-9 win over St. John's of Shrewsbury that had everyone talking, with 126 yards and two scores on nine carries -- including a 75-yard scamper.
Cam McLevedge, Sr. QB, Weymouth - Threw five touchdown passes in a 47-7 rout of Braintree, bringing his season total to a state-best 30.
Marcus Odiah, Jr. RB, Burlington - Carried 12 times for 196 yards and three touchdowns, in a 44-12 rout of Watertown.
Quron Wright, Jr. RB, Holy Name - The pint-sized scatback ran for a career-high 226 yards in a 33-14 win over Algonquin.

Recap: No. 16 Needham 31, No. 17 Walpole 22

October, 21, 2011

NEEDHAM, Mass. -- The Needham football team proved Friday night that the loss of one player is not going to derail its chances at a Bay State Conference Carey Division title and more.

With starting quarterback Drew Burnett out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury, sophomore Ryan Charter found himself at the helm against Walpole and proceeded to burn the visiting Rebels with one big play after another in a 31-22 Rockets' win.

“Honestly, I found out (that I would start about) 20 minutes before the game,” said Charter, who completed 5-of-10 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. “A couple kids were telling me, ‘You’re going to get in the game.’ I was, like, ‘Alright, that’s all I need.’ But I didn’t know until today.”

The heavy-hearted coach of the No. 16 Rockets, David Duffy, had to compose himself when he remarked how his players “wanted to do it for Drew.”

They did it alright, as they took down Walpole for the first time since 2006 and looked good doing so. Despite Walpole having what Rebels coach Barry Greener said was his team’s best offensive game of the season, Needham (6-1, 6-0 in the BSC) never wavered, landing haymaker after haymaker.

Ian Riley (115 yards rushing) set up Needham’s first touchdown with a 64-yard run that was soon followed by a jet sweep to senior Dan Pierce, who pulled up and hit Nico Panepinto for a 31-yard touchdown.

Walpole (6-1 overall and in BSC) answered with a Steve Thulin 4-yard score but the PAT was wide right to keep it at 7-6. One play later, Charter hit Mark Riley for a 67-yard touchdown pass as the Rockets took a 14-6 lead into halftime.

They built on it on the first series of the third quarter when Charter found Mark Riley again, this time for a 74-yard score that pushed the advantage to 21-6. Walpole immediately answered on a Shane Blass (152 yards rushing) 66-yard scoring run that helped make it 21-14 after a P.J. Hayes two-point rush.

Needham again had a response, though, as Charter hit Mike Vespa on a 49-yard screen that led to a 19-yard Andrew Murowchick field goal.

The Rockets defense then held for a turnover on downs and the offense chewed up 6:48 in a drive that culminated in a 6-yard Ian Riley run to make it 31-14 midway through the fourth.

Walpole added the final points when Hayes scored from six yards out and Blass added the two points out of the Wildcat, but Needham ran out the clock effectively on the final drive to secure the victory.

Walpole coach Barry Greener praised Needham after the game for always having great balance on offense, and his team paid dearly for it on Friday night. The Rockets can hurt defenses in a variety of ways, and the Rebels simply had a hard time getting Needham’s offense off the field. Charter was efficient on his throws, did not turn the ball over and made the Rebels pay for cheating up on play-action. The running back duo of Ian Riley at tailback and Vespa at fullback provided the sleeper hold on Walpole’s defense when it needed to kill the clock in the final quarter. Mark Riley again proved to be a speedy option in the passing game, and Pierce also made two big receptions in the fourth to help the Rockets extend their final touchdown drive, including a 24-yarder on third-and-13 from the Needham 18. The Rockets simply put on a clinic against one of the better defenses in the area.

There was a lot of speed on the field, but Hayes, a junior cornerback and wide receiver, may have been the fastest player out there. Although he bit on the trick play that resulted in Needham’s first score, he prevented one earlier in the drive when he chased down Ian Riley from a bad angle on the 64-yard run. Hayes also broke up several passes with good technique on some long throws to his side. And if Hayes wasn’t the fastest player on the Rebel sideline, it was Blass, who can really scoot once he gets in the open field. The Rebels have struggled at times on offense this year, but those two only need a little space to change those fortunes on any given play.

Walpole (6-1, 6-1 BSC) 0 6 8 8 - 22
Needham (6-1, 6-0 BSC) 7 7 10 7 - 31

1st quarter
N - Nico Panepinto 31 pass from Dan Pierce (Andrew Murowchick kick)

2nd quarter
W - Steve Thulin 4 run (kick failed)
N - Mark Riley 67 pass from Ryan Charter (Murowchick kick)

3rd quarter
N - M. Riley 74 pass from Charter (Murowchick kick)
W - Shane Blass 66 run (P.J. Hayes rush)
N - Murowchick 19 FG

4th quarter
N - Ian Riley 6 run (Murowchick kick)
W - Hayes 6 run (Blass rush)

Mr. Football Watch: Week 4

September, 26, 2011

Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett - Completed 14 of 22 passes for 186 yards and three scores in a 35-0 blanking of St. John's Prep.
Preston Cooper, Sr. RB, BC High - Led the way in rushing for the Eagles in their 35-14 win over Chelmsford, carrying 20 times for 123 yards and a touchdown; he also added an 82-yard kickoff return for a score in the win.
Damion Johnson, Sr. WR, Dennis-Yarmouth - Caught nine passes for 96 yards and a score in the Dolphins' 42-12 rout of Hingham. In three games, he has 22 catches for 358 yards and five touchdowns.
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica - Threw a 50-yard touchdown pass and ran in a 25-yard score in the Indians' 23-14 win over Methuen.
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth - In the Dolphins' 42-12 win over Hingham, he completed 10 of 18 passes for 177 yards, and added 60 rushing yards, totaling four scores.
Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury - The Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit was 14 of 20 passing for 220 yards and three scores, and added two rushing scores, in a dominant 42-19 win over New Bedford.
Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Springfield Putnam - Any time you run for 400 yards in a game, you launch yourself into 'Contender' territory on Mr. Football Watch. In Putnam's 66-0 blanking of Agawam Friday, Pinkney carried 17 times for 421 yard and six scores, setting a new Western Mass single-game record for rushing yards (and coming just four yards from the state record).
Armani Reeves, Sr. ATH, Catholic Memorial - In the Knights' 28-20 win over St. John's (Shrewsbury), the Penn State commit caught a touchdown pass in the first quarter and ran for two scores in the fourth to seal the deal.
Brandon Walsh, Sr. QB, North Andover - Threw for two touchdowns and ran in a third in the Scarlet Knights' 21-6 win over Westford.
Michael Walsh, Sr. QB, Swampscott - In the Big Blue's 28-0 win over Revere, was 10 of 21 passing for 191 yards, added 40 yards on the ground, and accounted for all four scores. On the year, he's completing nearly 69 percent of his passes, for 594 yards and seven touchdowns; on the ground, he's got over 300 yards and five scores.


Chris Bettano, Sr. RB, Tewksbury - In the Redmen's 38-28 upset of Andover, he was the catalyst, carrying 21 times for 233 yards and two touchdowns.
Shane Blass, Jr. RB, Walpole - Ran for 226 yards and three touchdowns in a 29-0 win over Brookline.
Vincent Burton, Sr. RB, Blue Hills - Had three touchdowns and over 100 yards rushing in a 40-0 shutout of North Shore, giving him a state-best 11 rushing scores on the season.
Ozzy Colarusso, Jr. RB/WR, Weymouth - Returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and added a 43-yard touchdown reception in a 28-0 shutout of Gloucester.
Dan Flink, Sr. RB, Auburn - Carried the ball 15 times for 191 yards and two scores, part of a 462-yard rushing effort by the Rockets in a 35-6 rout of St. Peter-Marian.
Cam McLevedge, Sr. QB, Weymouth - In the 28-0 blanking of Gloucester, threw two touchdown passes and ran in a third, bringing his season touchdown pass total to a state-best 11.
Derek Moore, Jr. WR, Nipmuc - Had six catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-19 win over Bartlett.
Jim Perkins, Sr. RB, Millis - Carried 21 times for 225 yards and had scores of 36 and 71 yards, in a 28-0 win over Norton.
Mark Riley, Sr. TE, Needham - Continuing his blistering pace, had six catches for 134 yards and three scores in the Rockets' 34-2 win over Braintree.
Charles Ruffin, Sr. RB, King Philip - Had two rushing touchdowns in the 34-0 win over Sharon, giving him eight on the season through three games, second-best in Division 2.
Sean Wilson, Sr. RB, St. John's (Shrewsbury) - Carried 34 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the Pioneers' 28-20 loss to Catholic Memorial.