Boston High School: Shepherd Hill
First, Shepherd Hill announced that rising senior quarterback Drew Jean-Guillaume had picked up an offer from the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils are offering the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Jean-Guillaume as a running back. In his sophomore season of 2012, Jean-Guillaume started at wingback in the Rams' "Double Wing" offense as they reached the MIAA Division 2 Central Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. Last season, Jean-Guillaume moved to quarterback, and totaled 665 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground, to go with two passing touchdowns.
Jean-Guillaume is also a standout in track and field for the Rams. His fastest 100-meter dash registers in the 10.8-second range.
Minutes following the news on Jean Guillaume, Lowell rising senior outside linebacker/strong safety Nicolau Coury also posted on receiving his first Division 1 FCS offer from Central Connecticut.
Excited to say I just received my first D1 offer from Central Conneticut State University, thankful to all those who made this possible— Nicolau Coury (@NCoury5) July 29, 2014
Milton Academy kicker Justin Yoon is ranked as the top overall player in Massachusetts, with grades of 78 and three stars. This is the first time a kicker has ever top ESPN's player rankings in Massachusetts. With range up to 60 yards and a hang-time as much as 4.4 seconds, Yoon is considered by most scouting services as one of the nation's top kickers. Scouts Inc. regards Yoon, a Notre Dame commit, as the best at his position in the nation.
Once again, Boston College has cleaned up locally. Of the top 10 recruits in Massachusetts, seven are currently committed to the Eagles. Syracuse, UConn, UMass and Northwestern also have commitments represented in the rankings.
To see the complete rankings, CLICK HERE.
Here is the current Top 10 for Massachusetts:
1. Justin Yoon | Milton Academy | K | 78 | Notre Dame
2. Aaron Monteiro | Brockton | OG | 75 | Boston College
3. Davon Jones | St. John's | S | 74 | Boston College
4. Lukas Denis | Everett | CB | 74 | Boston College
5. Joe Gaziano | Xaverian | DE | 74 | Northwestern
6. Shyheim Cullen | Lowell | OLB | 73 | Syracuse
7. Chris Garrison | Lawrence Academy | TE | 73 | Boston College
8. Chris Lindstrom | Shepherd Hill | OG | 72 | Boston College
9. Jake Burt | St. John's Prep | TE | 71 | Boston College
10. Taj-Amir Torres | Amherst | ATH | 70 | Boston College
There's lots of creative adjectives that tend to accompany Shepherd Hill offensive guard Chris Lindstrom. But however you want to dress him up -- wiry strong, country strong -- the operative theme with him is raw power.
The son of one NFL veteran and Boston University Hall of Famer, and nephew of another, Lindstrom was the first in-state offensive lineman to commit to Boston College's 2015 recruiting class last March. He's coming off a brilliant junior season last fall in which he was a finalist for ESPN Boston's Lineman of the Year award, and was named to its annual All-State Team, as the Rams earned a top seed in MIAA Division 4 Central.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder's ability can be summed up in one play:
Add 30-40 pounds to that frame, without compromising mobility, and you can understand why BC might be excited about his potential.
Athletically, Lindstrom is a unique breed. It's not uncommon for offensive linemen to dabble in basketball during the winter -- most coaches consider it resourceful for footwork development -- and Lindstrom excelled as a power forward this winter for the Rams, who reached the Division 2 West Final in March. But it's rare for said linemen to take up tennis during the spring (just envision a 300-pound high school kid lumbering back and forth on a cross-court volley).
Scariest of all, Lindstrom could end up being the lightest player this year on an offensive line that's expected to average around 270 pounds across. That, combined with the impressive speed of dual-threat quarterback Drew Jean-Guillaume, has many pegging the Rams as a favorite across the state for Division 4. There's a mound of hype behind these guys this fall, a spot they're not accustomed to, but so far Lindstrom and Co. appear to be handling it well.
Player: Chris Lindstrom
School: Shepherd Hill Regional High School
Hometown: Dudley, Mass.
Listed Height/Weight: 6-foot-5, 240 pounds
Scouts Inc. Grade: 3 stars (74 overall)
Scouts Inc. Rank: 6 - Mass.
College: Boston College
Key 2013 stat: Behind Lindstrom, Rams ballcarriers averaged 6.4 yards per carry and totaled 38 rushing touchdowns.
Workout stat: Recorded a 4.68-second 20-yard shuttle.
Opposing Coaches: "Chris I have known forever. Not only is he a great player now, but he has the upside that could lead to playing on Sundays. Not many linemen have the athletic ability to play basketball and tennis while lifting weights at the same time. He has studied the game and blocking schemes to the point where he is a coach on the field. Chris is also a very, very nice young man who BC will love having on campus. . . If you look at his technique, it’s nearly flawless for our level, and he generates a lot of power because of it. He’s not as big as Ron Brace [Burncoat High alum and former New England Patriots defensive tackle] was at the same age, but he has that same athletic ability. Combined with his size, it’s a force. . . He is a bruising run blocker with great footwork. He literally pancaked at least six or seven of our front seven players over the course of the game. Tough, tough kid, but if there was one thing he has to improve, it’s blocking in space."
Scouts Inc.: "Developmental prospect physically with very good height, but lacking in ideal bulk at this stage and will need to add more mass to his frame though does have room to support additional size. Displays adequate playing strength which should continue to improve as he physically develops. . . . Flashes ability to come off low and deliver an adequate pop and roll hips at contact and generate some movement. Doesn't consistently roll hips and can get top heavy and can fall off blocks. Can wash defenders when asked to block down. Displays adequate pull/trap ability and displays good awareness and can get a hat on second-level targets with good angles. . . . Looks to give good effort to get job done and stay with blocks and displays a physical and aggressive nature. . . . Lindstrom is a developmental prospect who needs to continue to fill out his frame as well as develop and round out his game. He will likely need at least a red-shirt and will need to work to maintain mobility as he adds needed size, but displays some tools to work with. Could be developed at multiple spots along the line, though remaining as an interior player likely his best fit."
Bottom Line: As intimidating and violent on the gridiron as he is polite and articulate off of it, you can make a good case for Lindstrom as the state's most athletic lineman. Considering the depth of this year's line class -- five Bay State linemen currently hold FBS offers or are committed -- that should say something. Lindstrom has reportedly bulked up since the end of basketball season, when he dropped down to 230, so it will be interesting to see how he looks this fall. Under head coach Chris Lindstrom Sr., the Rams have been one of the most prominent Double Wing offenses. This year, they'll have the added pleasure of a target on their back, though it's easy to see why.
Walnut Lane Farm in Dudley was the backdrop for today's setting, where the Rams played up their "country strong" aesthetic for a farmer-themed shoot. (How much pride do they take in it? Word has it when the Rams hosted Doherty in last year's D4 Central playoffs, the city-bred Highlanders were greeted with several bales of hay on their sideline).
The Rams figure to average around 270 pounds across its offensive line, led by Boston College commit Chris Lindstrom Jr. and also including Chase Flibbert, Austin Jones and Cam MacDonald. They'll also be led by quarterback Drew Jean-Guillaume, a true option quarterback with sprinter's speed (10.8 in the 100-meter dash) orchestrating a powerful Double Wing offense. They figure to be among the favorites statewide in Division 4.
Look for the Rams in our annual preseason photo gallery next month. Here are some of the hits from today's shoot:
Fun shoot today with Shepherd Hill offensive line and QB. Special thanks to Walnut Lane Farm for their hospitality pic.twitter.com/8MwSVuuy7N— Brendan C. Hall (@BHallESPN) July 14, 2014
American Gothic pic.twitter.com/7VS7lJmysp— Brendan C. Hall (@BHallESPN) July 14, 2014
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor
FIVE PLAYERS ON THE RISE
Drew Jean-Guillaume, Sr. QB/DB, Shepherd Hill
With a powerful frame and impressive speed honed during track and field season, Jean-Guillaume is a throwback-type option quarterback, a converted running back who’s as adept at powering through defenders as he is at evading or blowing by them. The Rams will be heavy favorites in Division 4, and Jean-Guillaume will have plenty of room to work behind a reportedly heavy line led by Boston College commit Chris Lindstrom.
Mekhi Henderson, Soph. DB, Xaverian
In a defense full of household names, Henderson is one of the Hawks’ brightest young stars. Often last season, he was left on an island against an opponent’s top target, and often he held his own. With his coverage skills and raw ability, the coaching staff has a luxury to get creative in the secondary.
Shane Combs, Sr. ATH, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
It’s assumed that Combs, a Notre Dame baseball commit and ESPN Boston All-State selection during the spring, will take the reins at quarterback from last year’s Mr. Football finalist Drew Smiley. The Missouri transplant was one of the state’s most productive rushers during the playoffs, going over the century mark in all five postseason contests as the Pioneers reached the Division 2 state final.
Mike Maggipinto, Jr. RB, East Longmeadow
Somewhat quietly, the 5-foot-5 scatback eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark last year for the Spartans, running behind a great blocking scheme that continued to find unique ways to get him in space. Between Maggipinto and Plymouth North’s Christian Carr, this could be the year of the pint-sized running back.
Jahkari Carpenter, Sr. RB, Doherty
Among the area’s most elusive, Carpenter was a weekly highlight reel during the Highlanders’ run to the Division 4 state title, with runs like THIS, or THIS, or THIS. Junior Tavian Vassar is expected to have a bigger role in the backfield this year, which could make for an imposing thunder-and-lightning combination.
FIVE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE
The Indians hit a home run this offseason with the hiring of Duane Sigsbury as their new head coach, though they are considered a year or two away. Still, Sigsbury is one of the area’s brightest offensive minds, with a track record of making programs relevant in a hurry (see: Boston Cathedral). Similar to his other stops, there are already some terrific talents coming up the pipe.
The Blue and Blue made history last fall to end Brian Vaughn’s first season at the helm, beating Boston Latin for the first time since 1997. Now, with dynamic dual threat Emmanuel Almonte leading the offense, they’ll look to continue last year’s momentum.
Long considered a powder keg for skill talent, head coach Ryan Saulnier has tapped into it, and found a lot of success running his brand of spread offense in his first season last fall. With Marcus Collins returning under center, and a new home in the Dual County League, the Falcons ought to be one of the most entertaining teams to watch in Division 2 North.
Blue Devils graduated one of their most talented classes ever, but this is a program built to reload, not rebuild, under a great offensive mind in Dave Palazzi. Defensive coordinator Charlie Raff left to take over at Oakmont, but in his place comes former North Middlesex coach John Margarita. It’s too early – not to mention, lofty – to make any Neil O’Connor comparisons yet, but keep an eye on sophomore Noah Gray this fall.
Similar to Leominster, the Golden Eagles have many holes to fill on the heels of its most successful season in school history. But they should have a solid defense again, led by lineman Kaleb Hunter-Sams, and the coaching staff should get a boost from the addition of former Putnam head coach Bill Watson.
Hall's Preseason Top 10:
Little drama here as to who’s the top dog. With a star-studded defense that includes the likes of Northwestern commit Joe Gaziano, ESPN Boston’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2013; linebackers Noah Sorrento, Kenny Kern and D’Aundre Holmes; and defensive backs Damion Wood and Mekhi Henderson; as well as a potent running game behind UMass-bound tackle Joe Parsons, and an innovative playmaker in quarterback Jake Farrell; the Hawks figure to start the year No. 1 in many polls.
Crimson Tide are licking their chops after a disappointing end to 2013 season, and as usual they reload with some of the most gifted skill players in the area. The interesting question is how they’ll fit Boston College-bound cornerback Lukas Denis into the offense; originally slotted as the successor to Jonathan DiBiaso at quarterback before injuries derailed his sophomore season in 2012, Denis showed flashes of brilliance in a multitude of positions last year.
3. Central Catholic
The Raiders’ featured one of the state’s best defenses a year ago in their D1 state title run, and they’ll be held in high regard again thanks to linebacker Markus Edmunds and safety Mike Balsamo, who is fielding multiple Division 1 FCS offers at the moment. Also keep an eye on Matt Milano, who was statistically one of the state’s most productive quarterbacks in the playoffs last year.
The Hornets dramatically altered their offense on the fly late in the season following a season-ending injury to wideout Brendan Hill, and it worked out as they took the D2 state title. A fully healthy Hill and another year of running back Miguel Villar-Perez, one of last fall’s most pleasant revelations, should make the Hornets the favorite in a tough D2 South.
Trojans always get the benefit of the doubt for their powerful running game and their “anyone, anywhere, anytime” approach to scheduling, and they’ll be a force again with Brandon Gallagher returning at tailback. But the question is whether the Trojans can sustain momentum and avoid last year’s fate, when they reached No. 1 in our statewide poll early, only to sputter in the second half.
6. Shepherd Hill
In short, Boston College-bound offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom Jr. is a force. But the fact that he is the Rams’ most dominant, yet possibly their lightest, should tell you something about what to expect in 2014. They’re arguably Central Mass.’s most talented team this fall, and while there’s a couple other heavy hitters contending in D4 – Holliston, Dennis-Yarmouth and Wahconah, for starters – these guys are my odds-on favorite. Look for them to put up a ton of rushing yards in head coach Chris Lindstrom Sr.’s double wing scheme.
The Red Raiders made one of the biggest statements of the playoffs last fall in blanking St. John’s Prep 41-0 in the first round of the D1 North tournament. Syracuse commit Shyheim Cullen was exceptional at interior gap blitzes, baiting and confusing potential blockers to create chaos up the middle, and he’ll lead a talented defense that includes linebacker Nicolau Coury and defensive back Theo Bryant.
8. St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Boston College-bound free safety Davon Jones is one of several early candidates for Defensive Player of the Year after recording 125 tackles and eight picks a year ago. Offensive coordinator Chris Moriarty is as creative as they come, and how he utilizes Jones and athlete Shane Combs in the offense will be one of the more interesting storylines of the season’s earlygoings.
We’re still in wait-and-see mode after another season of unrealized expectations in Brockton, but it’s hard to deny the talent the Boxers have coming back. Keep an eye on Boston College-bound lineman Aaron Monteiro, who has some raw potential and a powerful frame at 6-foot-6 and nearly 300 pounds.
Division 1 recruit Michael Dunn lined up at nearly every offensive position last year for the Dolphins in their run to the D4 state final, and he may very well do it again. Defensively, this kid is a treat, regarded as one of the state’s premier shutdown corners. As usual, Paul Funk’s frenetic read option scheme will be a tall task to keep up with.
Others to Watch: Attleboro, Barnstable, BC High, Doherty, Holliston, Marblehead, Oliver Ames, Plymouth North, Pope John Paul II, St. John’s Prep, St. Peter-Marian, Tewksbury, Wahconah, Walpole
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
1. Spread offense has been the growing trend in Massachusetts over the last decade, and we’re now seeing its influence at all levels of the game. But at the other end of the spectrum, we’re seeing more and more teams dip into playbooks from decades and decades ago for some wild success in the running game. We’ve romanticized Nauset’s Single Wing offense for years. At Holy Name, Mike Pucko dug into Dutch Meyer’s World War II-era playbook and installed a fullback-less “Triple Wing” offense for the Naps’ Thanksgiving contest with Milford, a game they won 35-14. Last year’s D5 West Final featured a Pistol Flex Bone (Hoosac Valley) versus a Wishbone (Easthampton). Tewksbury, last year’s D3 state champ, calls running plays out of an encyclopedia of formations from every family of offense. Factor in all of the traditional Double Wing success stories like Shepherd Hill, Holy Name and Somerset-Berkley, too. Running offense continues to diversify in this corner of the country, and if you’re an X’s and O’s junkie like me, you are having a blast watching it.
2. LSU took some negative backlash last fall when they received a verbal commitment from a freshman early in his season after an apparently intense summer of recruitment from a number of SEC schools, but this doesn’t appear to be a trend going away any time soon. Early offers are still fairly uncommon for football prospects in this part of the country, though it’s worth noting St. Sebastian’s incoming sophomore Blake Gallagher received an offer from Nebraska last month. Beyond the concerns about pressure and bloated expectations, the biggest question I have is this: What if the recruit stops growing, or has just peaked earlier than his peers? I’m interested to see if Maryland head coach Randy Edsall’s proposals for recruiting reform gain any traction. Among other things, his plan stipulates schools can’t make a written offer until a player’s senior year, and that the offer must come with permission from the school’s admissions department.
3. I’m on record as saying I hope the true state championship format the MIAA rolled out last year is here to stay, but I’m also in favor of giving it some tweaks. First and foremost, get rid of the second automatic qualifier for leagues. Weak leagues were rewarded at the expense of teams like Medway and Pope John Paul II, teams who finished with winning records in qualification period but were pushed all the way out of the eight-team field in their respective divisions to satisfy undeserved automatic berths. Leagues should be restricted to one automatic qualifier, or two if it is a two-tier league. I also question whether a seven-game regular season is enough of a window to properly gauge a team’s strength. Expanding to an eight-game season and starting it on Labor Day Weekend could satisfy that, and could be a good gate opportunity for many schools as well.
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor
FIVE PLAYERS ON THE RISE
Michael Balsalmo, Sr. RB/FS, Central Catholic
A standout on the Raiders’ Division 1 championship season a year ago, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder holds a couple of offers (Bryant, Wofford) entering the season. Here’s better there will be more to follow.
Christian Carr, Sr. RB, Plymouth North
For what Carr might lack in stature, he makes up for in elusiveness. A consistent 100-yard-per-game rusher in his junior season, he broke out with a 351-yard performance in the Eagles’ playoff win against Dighton-Rehoboth.
Jake Gibb, Jr. QB, Stoughton
In his first season under center, Gibb led the Knights to the Division 3 South final before falling to Plymouth South. Gibb will have them contending for the Davenport division title again.
Kyle Murphy, Jr. OL/DL, Attleboro
The two-way lineman was a driving force behind the Blue Bombardiers’ breakout season last year. It’s only a matter of time before the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder starts getting colleges’ attention.
James Sullivan, Sr. RB/S, Tewksbury
Sullivan announced himself to a statewide audience on the biggest stage last year, racking up 125 yards and three touchdowns in the Redmen’s win over Plymouth South in the Division 3 state title game. With graduations, Sullivan will take on an even bigger role this year.
FIVE TEAMS THAT WILL SURPRISE
The Bay State Carey should again be one of the more interesting races to watch across the state this year, and the Wamps might be primed to take a big step forward after last year’s 4-7 mark. One to watch is inside linebacker Derek Anson, who’s only added to his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame.
The Highlanders were historically good in 2013, capturing their first state title while beating Dennis-Yarmouth for the Division 4 championship. Although several key contributors have graduated, they can still make a run
It might not be the aerial display we’ve seen in recent years with Troy Flutie at quarterback, but the Redhawks will be one worth watching as Brian Dunlap returns from a season missed due to injury (Lisfranc fracture) last year.
After a 7-4 campaign last season, are the Presidents ready to challenge for the Patriot Keenan title? With promising running back Jhave Handsom-Fields (8 TD as a sophomore) and quarterback James Lam returning, the time could be now.
The Raiders return a big class of juniors, including feature back Chip Wood back in the fold and Jacob Cabana rushing off the edge. Another EAC title could be in the cards.
Barboza's Preseason Top 10:
The Hawks will have some questions to answer on offense, but deserve the top spot on defense alone, with Defensive Player of the Year Joe Gaziano returning along with the state’s best secondary group.
2. Central Catholic
The Raiders peaked at precisely the right time last year, capturing the first true statewide Division 1 title. Some of their biggest playmakers have graduated, but Michael Balsamo’s primed for a breakout year.
The Crimson Tide are undoubtedly still smarting over last year’s home playoff loss to Central Catholic. We all know what that means.
Here’s betting tight end/defensive end Connor Reagan is one of next year’s breakout performers.
5. St. John’s (S)
You never know what you’re getting from the Pioneers’ offense game to game, and it’ll be intriguing to see how the group develops this season. But you have to like any group with athletes of ilk of Shane Combs and Davon Jones.
I’ll take my chances with the linebacking corps the Red Raiders have returning, anchored by Shyheim Cullen and Nicolau Coury.
The Boxers will not be pushed around inside the tackle box, with perhaps the biggest returning offensive line in the state, including Aaron Monteiro (6-6, 300) and Uzziah Hilliard (6-0, 280)
Mike Redding will come up with creative schemes to avoid Brendan Hill being double-teamed on both sides of the ball. Connor Finerty will also look to expand on a promising sophomore season.
The Dolphins fell just shy of the Div. 4 state title in a riveting matchup with Doherty. They might not be denied this year.
The Redmen might not match the size and physicality of last year’s state championship squad, but having James Sullivan in the backfield is still enough to win.
Others to watch: Arlington, Attleboro, Billerica, BC High, Holliston, Leominster, Oliver Ames, Shepherd Hill, Stoughton, Wahconah, Walpole.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
1. The football playoff system is here to stay – well, at the very least for two more years. While there are still pockets of dissent, the sentiment across the state is that the first year determining true state champions across six divisions was a success. It even drew over some who’d been opposed to the playoff proposal originally and voted against the measure. The build up and drama of the first seven weeks leading up the start of the tournament brought a different dimension of intrigue to the season. Still, detractors remain and, as Brendan ruminated earlier in this feature, there’s still room for improvement regarding the means of automatic qualifiers and the discrepancies that exist between the respective athletic conferences’ rubrics – including, most importantly, the weight of league games. But with one year in the books, I declare the system to be a success. Now, let’s start tweaking the framework.
2. Which brings me to my next point: get rid of Thanksgiving. This is going to be a highly unpopular opinion in some neck of the woods, but it’s simply a reality of what’s put in front of us. At the end of last season, I talked to many athletic directors who complained about a diminished gate return from their Thanksgiving Day games. That’s a natural feedback of the playoff system – which in some place requires teams to “double up” with their Thankgiving rivals. In change, that has deemphasized the pomp and circumstance surrounding Turkey Day. As a result, that left some Thanksgiving Day matchups to resemble more of an exhibition game in tone – althought don’t tell that to St. John’s Prep and Xaverian, or Foxborough and Mansfield. The result is a hodgepodge of situations that follow teams into what used to be the biggest day of the regular-season football calendar: ie a non-playoff team vs. a team that’s bound for a championship game, or two teams who are playing out the string on a season that’s already ended. I counter those scenario’s are really no different than what existed in the year B.P. (Before Playoffs), but the current arrangement has only emphasized was already apparent – Thanksgiving is an exhibition. Minus the Catholic Conference or Merrimack Valley Conference duels which resulted in playoff berths in previous years, Thanksgiving largely was such. Only now have the detractors used the playoff system to highlight the faults in Thanksgiving Day that already existed. What Thanksgiving Day has always been about is the rivalry. I ventured to North Attleborough last year when the Red Rocketeers (already eliminated from the playoffs) hosted Attleboro (who were just eliminated the previous week in the sectional final). The scene was what you’d become accustomed to – with an overflow crowd at Community Field. They were all there to watch an exhibition game. Why not make that game mean something more again? Why not play the game before the first frost?
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Lindstrom, a 2013 ESPN Boston All-State selection, is an intriguing prospect for his projectable frame and his mobility as a pulling lineman in the Rams' "double wing" offense -- a trait that was reinforced this winter as a power forward for the Rams' basketball team, which reached the MIAA Division 2 West Finals. He had one other Division 1 FBS offer at the time of his commitment, from Old Dominion. He also had varying degrees of interest from Maryland, UConn and Kansas State.
Lindstrom's uncle, Eric, played at Boston College from 1984-88 and was a seventh-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1989. His uncle, David, and his father and head coach, Chris Sr., are both Boston University Hall of Famers and NFL veterans.
Once again, a Central Mass. recruit is the first in-state pledge for head coach Steve Addazio's recruiting class; last March, Doherty athlete Isaac Yiadom was the first of seven in-state commitments for BC. The Eagles have a handful of offers out to in-state prospects, including Xaverian defensive end Joe Gaziano and Everett defensive back Lukas Denis, and they're hoping Lindstrom's pledge can set things in motion.
Lindstrom spoke with ESPNBoston.com for a few more comments on his commitment and his future with the program:
Deciding factors: "Coach Addazio and the rest of the staff were really loving and caring. My uncle played there as well. Plus, they've got such a proud tradition of linemen in the NFL. I got to watch [line coach Justin] Frye coach and I loved what he was doing, he makes it feel like a family...He was caring, constructive, very energetic, positive. My dad loved him, my mom loved [running backs coach Al] Washington."
Where he projects: "Somewhere on offensive line, they haven’t really given me a specific position. I'm up to do anything, whatever the plan for me is good. I personally do not know if he's gonna move me inside or not."
Similarities between Shepherd Hill and BC's run schemes: "They do a lot of the same things, as far as the gap schemes, everything they do is aggressive. It's a lot similar to ours -- obviously the offense is different, but it's the same aggressive blocking, similar to what I'm doing in high school."
On being the first in-state commit for BC's 2015 recruiting class: "I'm ecstatic. Sitting down and talking to coach, he said he hopes this gets the ball rolling [with other recruits]. It felt right. I knew this was the place I was gonna go. Hopefully this gets the ball rolling on other guys committing."
His current shape: "I'm in my mid-230’s right now, because basketball went longer than usual, but it's gonna go right back up hopefully. I've been moving a lot, but I'm trying to get to 250-255 for the season."
Is there a target weight? "No, they said to have me keep lifting and developing. As long as it's good, lean muscle mass, they're good with whatever. They want to shoot for 300, but they don't want me to be fat, they want it to be muscle."
Where he needs to improve: "Definitely develop my pass blocking, getting stronger, getting weight, I'm not really strong compared to some other offensive linemen."
Did basketball help develop pass protection? "Yeah, it did help a lot with footwork, speed, hand-eye coordination. I shaved a few ticks off my 40."
@BHallESPN Shepherd Hill's Chris Lindstrom was just verbally offered a full football scholarship from Boston College.— Ray Sullivan (@coachsull) December 19, 2013
And integral interior pulling guard in the Rams' vaunted "double wing" scheme, 6-foot-5, 240-pound Lindstrom was voted the Southern Worcester County League Player of the Year after helping the Rams earn the No. 1 overall seed in Division 4 Central. As a team, the Rams ran for over 3,000 yards and 36 touchdowns. Lindstrom was also named to ESPN Boston's annual All-State Team last week.
Earlier this month, Lindstrom received his first FBS offer, from Old Dominion. UMass, UConn and Kansas State are among the other FBS programs showing varying degrees of interest, while a number of local FCS schools such as Bryant have also inquired.
Lindstrom becomes the fourth in-state product from the Class of 2015 to receive an offer from the Eagles, joining Lawrence Academy tight end Chris Garrison, Amherst athlete Taj-Amir Torres and Xaverian defensive end Joe Gaziano, the latter ESPN Boston's 2013 Defensive Player of the Year.
Lindstrom's father, Chris Sr., is the head coach of Shepherd Hill, and a Hall of Famer at Boston University. He spent three seasons in the NFL from 1983-87 with the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And integral interior pulling guard in the Rams' vaunted "double wing" scheme, 6-foot-5, 240-pound Lindstrom was voted the Southern Worcester County League Player of the Year after helping the Rams earn the No. 1 overall seed in Division 4 Central. As a team, the Rams ran for over 3,000 yards and 36 touchdowns.
AFter two years membership in the Colonial Athletic Association of Division 1 FCS, Old Dominion spent 2013 as an independent ineligible for the FCS playoffs, and will move into Conference USA next season.
Boston College, UMass, UConn and Kansas State are among the other FBS programs showing varying degrees interest, while a number of local FCS schools such as Bryant have also inquired.
Lindstrom's father, Chris Sr., is the head coach of Shepherd Hill, a Hall of Famer at Boston University. He spent three seasons in the NFL from 1983-87 with the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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
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
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
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
Certainly, one week does not allow enough preparation time to handle this style of offense, and during the first half, it showed. Leominster was having trouble figuring out who to key on in this tightly-bunched set-up.
But as good teams learn to do, the right adjustments were made and the Blue Devils threw a net over the Rams in the second half by allowing zero points en route to a 41-14 victory at Carmignani Memorial Field.
"Shepherd Hill grinded us pretty good in the first half but our defense really stepped up in the second half," said Blue Devils coach Dave Palazzi. "That's just getting the job done when you need to get it done. Credit our defensive coaches Charlie Raff, Kevin Murphy and Mike Vaillette for the adjustments they made at halftime. They did a great job coaching these kids up and the kids were listening. There was a lot of violence going on underneath those piles and a lot of big hitting by both teams. I really don't see that team losing to many ball games the rest of the way. They are well-coached and talented."
Leominster, the defending two-time Division 1 Central Mass. Super Bowl champions, improve to 3-0.
But this one did not come easy. As expected, Shepherd Hill (2-1) proved to be a staunch opponent. A Division 4 program, the Rams proved they are a team to be reckoned as the season moves forward. They gave Leominster all it could handle in the opening half, with solid running from junior quarterback Drew Jean-Guillaume and senior running back Jake Gelb. At the half, Shepherd Hill only trailed 20-14.
But the Ram offense looked much different over the final 22 minutes. Leominster showed more patients, waiting to see who would get the ball out of the double wing first and then strike, instead of anticipating. Having rolled up 169 yards in the first half that finished with Guillaume diving in from a yard out to trail by just six points, it appeared as though the Blue Knights had a legitimate fight on their hands.
Getting the ball to begin the second half, the Rams gave it away after failing to convert on a fourth-and-four play. Leominster's offense (438 yards), which has proven that it can score from anywhere on the field, did just that. A 66-yard touchdown run by junior back James Gurley on the ensuing possession had the Blue Devils in front 26-14.
Following a four-and-out by the Rams, Leominster again drove down field, capped off by senior quarterback Neil O'Connor's 38-yard scoring strike to Mayson Williams (3 receptions, 104 yards, 2 TD) to make it a 34-14 contest with a minute remaining in the quarter.
While Shepherd Hill's struggles on offense continued to mount, the Blue Devil offense was chomping at the bit to get the ball back. Late in the final quarter they put a bow on this one after junior Eddie Rivera scored on a 4-yard run around left end.
Leominster opened this tilt off in fine shape. Taking the opening kickoff, the Blue Devils marched 50 yards before O'Connor (9-of-14 for 188 yards, 3 TD, INT) found receiver Jake Allain (3 catches, 62 yards) 10 yards past the secondary for a 47-yard touchdown. Shepherd Hill shook off that score by mounting a drive of its own moments later. The Rams marched 77 yards before Jean-Guillaume (70 yards on 17 carries) busted up the middle from 12 yards away for the score. Jean-Guillaume also added the conversion run giving Shepherd Hill an 8-6 lead midway through the first quarter.
But the Blue Devils responded with another long drive that ended with Gurley (105 yards on 9 attempts) barreling in from the 3. However the conversion pass failed and Leominster had to settle for a 12-8 lead.
"We knew this was going to be a tough game coming in," said O'Connor. "Shepherd Hill is a very tough team that likes to pound it. They're big up front and their running backs and quarterback run hard.
“Our line also played great and were able to open things up for everyone and we were able to create some space. When everything is working we can be tough. Our coaches had us prepared for this one. Coming off wins over St. John's (Shrewsbury) and Lowell last week we were happy to get out of here with a win tonight."
Midway through the second quarter a solid drive by Shepherd Hill, which lost to Nashoba Regional in last year's Division 2 Central Mass. Super Bowl, ended abruptly after coming up a yard short on fourth down. Handing the ball back over to the Blue Devils, they were able to increase their advantage to 12 points after Williams, on a comeback screen, hauled in O'Connor's pass and bolted 57 yards down field into the end zone.
The Rams, once again, didn't fret as they put fourth a sustained drive following the score. They even tossed in a new wrinkle as Jean-Guillaume rolled outside the pocket and connected with Gelb in stride for a 33-yard reception. That, in turn, set up Guillaume's touchdown run in the final minute before halftime, slicing the deficit to six going into the break. Shepherd Hill finished with 273 yards of offense.
"That was a very good, tough football team we played," said Rams coach Chris Lindstrom, a former Boston University standout defensive end who spent three years in the NFL with the Bengals, Buccaneers and Chiefs. "This is new for us to play this level of competition but I thought we held our own for the most part. I feel we're still going to be a very good football team. We just need to re-group but I think we are very explosive. Overall I thought we did a nice job tonight. I felt the longer we were out there playing a very good team on both sides of the ball the better we're going to be."
It had been nine years since Western Mass. had last won this game. For many of these current players, they were just in elementary school at the time. With a collective promise to revamp history, Western Mass. succeeded in carrying out its promise
Friday night after shutting out the Central Mass. all-stars 13-0 at Doyle Field.
The Western Mass. defense was solid through all four quarters, keeping Central Mass. in check and forcing them into committing six turnovers, including five interceptions.
"This was a total team effort," said Springfield Central defensive back Tejano Smith, who finished with two picks. "We pushed each other and got through this. All week long we were saying when the ball is in the air it's ours."
In all, the defense held Central Mass. to just 149 yards. Anytime they tried to sustain a drive, it would end with a turnover. Western Mass piled up 237 yards of offense with East Longmeadow receiver Sam Blake hauling in four passes for 84 yards and Greenfield quarterback Zak Bartak completing 5-of-9 passes for 83 yards.
After a scoreless first quarter, Western Mass. got the break it was looking for early in the second. Smith stepped in front of a pass by Shrewsbury's Mike Coggeshall, putting the ball on the Central Mass. 28. A Blake 29 yard reception set the stage for Turners Falls running back Ryan Wilder to blast over the goal line from a yard out with 4:52 left before halftime to give Western Mass. a 6-0 lead after kicker Liam Murphy's PAT was blocked. Wilder also had a solid game as he rushed for 65 yards on 17 attempts.
"The offensive line did a great job tonight," said Wilder, who will play at Westfield State next fall. "They did a great job creating holes and getting the seams for me. It's been a pleasure coming out here and getting a win for Western Mass. It's been an awesome time doing this and getting to meet new people and making new friends."
Just prior to the half, Western Mass. had a chance to pad its lead. After Minnechaug's Demetri Strange partially blocked Shepherd Hill kicker Chris Dutting's punt, Western Mass. had the ball on its own 31. A 15-yard catch by West Springfield's Chris Lipscomb combined with a couple of runs from Springfield Central's Aaron Owens moved the ball to the Central Mass. 9 yard line. But Chicopee Comp quarterback Tom Duffy lost the handle off a snap that was recovered by Nashoba's Cam Rothfuss to deny the threat.
"We had a couple of turnovers which stung us a bit," Central Mass. and Auburn coach Jeff Cormier said. "I felt our kids played with a lot of heart. Western Mass. made some plays and key times and we needed a few more opportunities that we didn't get. We were in this game and I can't say enough about the quality of kids we have on this team.
"They battled to the end. The nature of these kids, on both teams, is they are all competitive. They didn't get here because they take plays off and I'm very proud of the way our kids especially competed tonight."
Leading by six at the break, Western Mass. knew the score was still to close for comfort. With the offense sporadic at best, it was no secret that the defense needed to continue its high-level of play for them to hold on. Early in the third, they did just that after Springfield Central defensive back Bryan Rivas picked off Leominster quarterback Garrett DelleChiaie. It was one of two interceptions made by Rivas on the night.
However the offense failed to get any points off the turnover. Another DelleChiaie pick by Smith went for naught early in the fourth after Murphy missed a 37 yard field goal attempt thus keeping the hopes of Central Mass. alive. But moments later, Coggeshall had his pass interception by St. Joesph's of Pittsfield defensive back Jon Bianchi.
Bianchi's interception had Western Mass. setting up camp on the Central Mass. 32. Not about to let this latest opportunity fall by the way side, Wilder ran off tackle for 16 yards, and moments later, Duffy connected with Blake for a 13 yard scoring strike with 3:54 remaining. Following Murphy's PAT, Western Mass. was now in control leading by 13.
"Sam Blake was open all night," Duffy said. "He's an incredible athlete. I knew all I had to do was throw it up there and he would catch it. Our coaches preached to us every day that we were 1-10-1 against Central Mass. overall and we knew we had so much talent coming out of the west this year. We had a two hour ride to get here and we didn't want to come here for nothing. It's a very humbling experience to be here and I feel honored to have played in this game."
On the final Central Mass. possession of the evening, they managed to drive to the Western Mass. 30 in hopes of avoiding the shut out. However, the defense continued to prosper, forcing them to turn the ball over on downs and allowing Western Mass. to run out the clock and celebrate after nine grueling years. Central Mass. still holds a 10-2-1 lead in the series.
The next poll update will be Monday, May 27. That will be the final poll of the 2013 regular season. Following the May 27 update, the baseball poll will be updated once more, following the conclusion of the MIAA State Tournament.
A few notes and observations about this week's poll:
Prep stays on top: For the fifth week in a row, St. John's Prep is the No. 1 team in the land, following an excellent win over BC High that swept the season series and kept them ahead in the Catholic Conference. With a game today against Malden Catholic, Prep can wrap up the Catholic Conference title outright.
The top five remains unchanged, with BC High, St. John's of Shrewsbury, Walpole and Peabody rounding out the top five, in that order. Meanwhile, Newton North jumps back into the Top 10, climbing five spots to No. 6, while Amherst makes its first appearance in the top 10 after beating No. 7 East Longmeadow in extra innings.
Shepherd Hill jumps into the poll: Making its debut at No. 15, and perhaps a bit overdue, is Shepherd Hill, with quite the impressive resume. The Rams hold wins over Northbridge and Auburn (twice), and are led by sophomore sensation Brady Ravenelle, who is batting .690 and leads the state with 35 RBI. This also marks the first time in our poll's three-year history that three teams from the Southern Worcester County League.
Central Catholic (20), Westford (21) and Medford (24) -- all respective champions of their leagues -- make debuts this week, while Hockomock Kelly-Rex champ Taunton makes its return at No. 25 following a one-week absence.
Here's how the poll breaks down by league affiliation:
Bay State - 3
Northeastern - 3
Southern Worcester County - 3
Valley League - 2
Atlantic Coast - 1
Cape Ann - 1
Central Mass. Conference - 1
Dual County - 1
Eastern Athletic - 1
Greater Boston - 1
Hockomock - 1
Merrimack Valley - 1
Mid-Wach B - 1
Old Colony - 1
Patriot - 1
Valley Wheel - 1
Varsity action will begin at 5 p.m. when the host Grafton Indians (14-2, 9-0 Mid Mass) face off with longtime rival Westborough (9-5, 7-3 Midland A). Northbridge (10-5, 4-5 Mid Mass) will follow with a game against familiar foe Blackstone Valley Tech (9-2). While the games are being played at Grafton High, this fundraising idea was the brainchild of Northbridge head coach Steve Falconer.
For the last two seasons, Falconer and his team have used a goal-a-thon to raise money for a local father riding in the Pan Mass Challenge for cancer research. With a culture of giving already built into his program, Falconer knew his guys would be excited about the chance to help the One Fund.
“What’s important to my kids is the chance to make a difference,” Falconer said. “They’ve seen that there have been over $28 million donated to the One Fund, but they’ve also seen how many people were affected, and how their lives will be changed forever. We know that $28 million isn’t going to cut it, and we want to be able to help … One-hundred percent of the money we collect will go straight to the fund, so we encourage people to come out and enjoy the games for a good cause.”
But Falconer and Northbridge athletic director Al Richards’ plans nearly fell apart when they found out that the grass at Northbridge’s Lasell Field was set to be resodded this week, and would not be available for the fundraiser. A chance encounter between Richards and former Grafton athletic director Jim Bergenholtz gave Northbridge the idea to call Grafton High.
“Our athletic directors spoke, and Grafton agreed to let us use their facilities for free, so I just called [Grafton coach Alan] Rotatori to say thank you,” Falconer said. “He called me back a little later, and thought it would be a great idea to do a double-header. They were playing at Westborough that night, and Westborough was gracious enough to give up their home-field advantage to help with the fundraiser.”
With Grafton High paying for the facilities and Northbridge paying the officials, there will be no overhead for the fundraiser. Falconer is hopeful that over 1,000 people will come to the event, raising at least $5,000 for the fund. There will also be no charge for entry, but donations of $5 to $10 are encouraged.
Aditionally, the schools’ junior varsity teams will also take part in a double-header. Then, during the halftimes of the varsity games, under-11 youth teams will play mini-games of their own.
“It’s going to be a full event, encompassing varsity, J.V. and U-11 games,” Falconer said. “We want everyone in Central Mass to come out and know this is a night to help Boston. It’s about four great programs and four great communities all coming together for something good.”
As for the games themselves, Grafton’s matchup with Westborough is an unexpectedly anticipated meeting. The Indians are coming off a statement win over reigning Central Mass champion Algonquin, while Westborough has recovered from a slow start to become one of the best defensive teams in the region. The matchup will feature Central Mass’ leading scorer Tyler Reilly (37G, 41A) for the Indians, and perhaps the region’s hottest goalie in Westborough’s Dan Terry (4.1 GAA).
But, the individual matchup that could decide the game might be Grafton’s Bryan Rotatori against Westborough’s Tom Lawton in the midfield. The two seniors are considered the region’s best face-off specialists, and each team has benefitted from an abundance of extra possession time this season.
The night game will feature Blackstone Valley Tech looking for its first win over Northbridge since 2007. The Beavers have dropped their last three to the Rams by a combined three goals, but are coming off the first postseason win in program history last year.
Ryan Manz leads a potent and motivated BVT attack, but the Beavers just lost their first game in over a month, falling to Nipmuc, 11-6, earlier this week.
Northbridge, meanwhile, is looking for a strong finish to its season against BVT and fellow rival Shepherd Hill next Tuesday. The Rams will lean on the high-scoring duo of Nick Clark and Cam Velasquez to win yet another night game against the rival Beavers.
“With BVT, it’s definitely a rivalry and a familiarity,” Falconer said. “This actually would have been the first year that we wouldn’t have played them under the lights in a while, so setting up this event preserved our night game against them. Our guys are excited for it, and I know they have some Northbridge kids on that team.”
Festivities begin with a pair of J.V. games immediately after school lets out. Grafton will then host Westboro at 5 p.m. and Blackstone Valley Tech will face Northbridge in the night game around 7 p.m.
Forty seconds after Shepherd Hill senior Kyle Amico picked off a Nashoba pass in the endzone, Schartner came right back with a big play of his own, picking off the Drew Ravenelle pass and returning it for a touchdown. In a game that was back-and-forth the whole way, Schartner’s interception all but sealed the win for Nashoba.
“I saw [the pass] coming, we had good pressure on the quarterback,” Schartner said, “All I had to do was step up and make the catch.”
Longtime Nashoba coach Ken Tucker was very complimentary of his senior defensive back after the game, but acknowledges that this Nashoba team has been a true collaborative effort throughout the year.
“[Brady] has been a great player all year, but I don’t know who our MVP is, he could be one of them. You almost hate to pick an MVP because there are so many guys who contribute that way.”
In order for a team to obtain keep such a long win streak going, Tucker makes sure all players are prepared.
“We’re not a one-star team, we never have been. If somebody’s not completely healthy, somebody else picks it up. That’s what’s great about these guys, they all contribute,” he said.
Schartner, whose father played for Tucker as a high schooler and has known Tucker for years, agreed entirely, praising the Nashoba freshmen for doing their part in making sure the starters were prepared for the Super Bowl.
“We just keep doing what we’re doing, working hard in the offseason. [The freshmen] know they’re not going to play in the playoffs, but they gave us good looks in practice,” Schartner said, “We just want to do it for each other.”
Nashoba didn’t trail an opponent all season, but had a tough challenge on Oct. 26 in Doherty, a game in which they narrowly came away with a victory. Since that close call against Doherty, Nashoba outscored opponents 173-20 in their final five games.
Tucker would like to keep that type of dominant momentum going into next season, emphasizing that Nashoba’s players are motivated by fulfilling the spirit of the program.
“This is great for the tradition of the Nashoba football program, we think it’s important to carry ourselves the right way and uphold the tradition. We made some new ones, we made history this year, we made some dreams come true.”
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –- Nashoba wrapped up a perfect 13-0 season Saturday and, in the process, ran its overall winning streak to a state-best 26 games with a 20-6 win over Shepherd Hill in the Division 2 Central Mass. Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
Andrew Cross ran for one touchdown and clocked 57 yards on 10 carries. Brady Schartner, the Cheiftans’ lead receiver, intercepted a Rams’ pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown to make it a two-touchdown game late in the fourth quarter.
“We did it together,” said Cross of his team’s victory. “There’s no one person that did it, no one side of the ball, it was the whole team and that’s what made it so special is that the whole team contributed.”
With 8:21 left in the game, Nashoba began a four-minute 54-yard drive that, had it been executed fully, would have put the game out of reach for Shepherd’s Hill. On third and nine though, Kyle Amico caught an errant pass at the back of the end zone, giving Shepherd Hill an opportunity to take the lead with a score and a two point conversion.
“Jack [Sarnoski] was trying to throw it away because he had a lot of pressure from the left side,” Nashoba head coach Ken Tucker said.
Amico’s touchback brought the ball to the Rams’ 20, but Drew Jean-Guillaume was hit for a five-yard loss on the first play. On the second play, the Chieftans front men smothered Shepherd’s Hill and forced an interception by Schartner who took it 22 yards to for the last score of the day.
Although Schartner scored on the interception, he deflected praise from his singular deed and stated that the effort was holistic.
“All the credit goes to the defense putting pressure on the quarterback,” added Schartner. “All I had to do was step up and it hit me in the chest. “
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
The first score and the last score on the day were reminiscent of two scores earlier in the season. The first, a Cross 6-yard burst, is a team favorite.
"The first touchdown we scored in the year versus Longmeadow was a '45 Blast,'" said senior offensive guard Michael d’Entremont.
During the team’s first scrimmage, they ran they bread and butter and scored on it. Today, when they needed a score, they recalled their staple and ate well.
“That’s a play me and Mike have been running all year, 45 blast,” Cross said. “Every single time we need five yards we do it and we did it today. We scored on it.”
The interception returned for a touchdown was also a rehash.
“This guy here [Shartner], this is his fifth interception of the year, second pick-six,” Tucker said. “That’s a clutch play by him.”
DOUBLE DOWN ON DEFENSE
As the game wore on, the Nashoba defense tightened up, stemming the last two drives by Shepherd Hill following the Rams’ 72-yard touchdown pass touchdown from Chris Dutting to Derek Hinckley.
“We’re a defense that really likes to pressure the other team,” Tucker said. “It’s a little tougher against these double-wing teams. We like to blitz people from a lot of different places and the secondary is aggressive. We play a lot of man coverages, a lot of mixed coverages. “
Late in the game Zack Hume took a run up the left side of the field. Although he had limited carries since injuring his ankle earlier in the season, this one looked especially odd.
“That was the biggest hole I’ve ever seen running the ball,” said Hume, who carried players on his back during the run. “It was great blocking. I just ran straight, it was a huge hole.”
Nashoba (13-0) 0 7 6 7 -- 20
Shepherd Hill (10-3) 0 0 0 7 -- 20
N -- Andrew Cross 6 run (Drew Korn kick)
S -- Chris Dutting 72 pass from Drew Ravenelle (rush failed)
N -- Elijah WIlliams 6 run (kick blocked)
N --- Brady Schartner 22-yard interception return (Drew Korn kick)