Boston High School: T.J. Norris

New faces, same winning ways for No. 6 'Meadow

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
1:36
PM ET
LONGMEADOW, Mass. -– It is never more apparent why Longmeadow football has become the powerhouse that it is than right after the high school team wraps up their practice around 5:30 p.m. at Longmeadow’s Williams Middle School. As the big guys walk off the field, on come the future in the form of sixth, seventh and eighth grade teams dressed in all black and running that same Wing-T offense.

Not long ago, the Lancers’ senior class was taking that 6 p.m. shift at Williams and doing things the exact same way. Winning included.

“Eight games, we went 8-0,” said Steve Krushell, one of the team’s five senior captains. “We used to sign a contract saying we wouldn’t score more than 21 points so we wouldn’t run up the score”

Krushell, along with his co-captains Austin Sierra, Mike Sell, Rob McClure and Frankie Elder, is one of 34 seniors on the Lancers roster. This group has lost just six games since that eighth grade season and credits their success to the family culture around the program.

Legendary coach Alex Rotsko stepped down after last season having brought the Lancers to 15 straight Super Bowls, winning 11 of them. Instead of going outside for a hire, Longmeadow kept it in the family by hiring longtime assistant Nick St. George.

“We like to put a big emphasis on family,” said McClure. “We have so much experience and with Coach St. George it’s the same offense, practices are run the same. It’s got the same feel and we’re a very close group this year.”

All of that experience has not only eased the transition for the players, but also for St. George himself. After 25 years as Rotsko’s right-hand man he is pleased with the way the seniors have taken ownership of this team.

“The seniors have done a great job this year,” said St. George. “They set the tone, they teach the younger kids, they want to do this the right way. They want this to be a good team but they want this to be a close group. They genuinely care about each other.”

The Lancers’ Wing-T offense has been the crux of the program’s success and this year will feature two of the most diverse running backs in Western Mass. in Sierra and Elder. Sierra, who’s older brother Niko ran for 1,427 and 23 touchdowns in 2008, will fill the fullback role at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds while Elder will be more of the speed back at just 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds.

Sierra replaces T.J. Norris who last year ran for 1,313 yards and 23 touchdowns but dealt with injury problems that allowed Sierra to get some seasoning last year.

“I feel great [about replacing Norris]. I got some good reps when I started rotating in towards the end of the season,” said Sierra, who ran for 522 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2011, including 171 yards against Northampton. “I feel like I can be just like T.J.”

The biggest part of ensuring success for Sierra, Elder and junior-quarterback John Falcone will be their offensive line. The Lancers starting line is comprised of all seniors with the smallest being ESPNBoston Preseason All-State guard Lou Calabrese at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, who shed 30 pounds during the offseason.

“I think if you went across the team you would see that we’re in better shape than we were last year,” said St. George. “Having Louie in shape and stronger is going to help us and it is going to make him a much more effective football player.”

McClure (6-3, 260 lbs.) and Calabrese are joined on inside by Zach Calman (6-2, 245) while Mark Gentile (6-2, 275 lbs.) and Krushell (6-3, 275) will handle the outside. The offensive line’s average of 260 pounds makes them one of the biggest -– and fastest –- lines in the state.

This group of seniors, with all of their success -– two super bowls and just the six losses -– still have one fish to fry: St. John’s of Shrewsbury.

“We took that loss last year really personally,” said Krushell of last season’s 26-21 loss to the Pioneers. “They are the one team we haven’t been able to beat in our four years.”

“Nobody like’s losing,” added McClure. “A lot of us were extremely upset after those losses and goal is to eliminate that. We want to win every game and we think that we can.”

The Lancers will take on St. John’s on Sept. 15 at Pioneer Field in Shrewsbury.

These players have not lost sight of what makes Longmeadow football so special, however.

“We’ve been playing together for 10 years, since third grade,” said Elder as his fellow captains all laughed. “Same offense, same everything; nothing’s changed, just the positions,”

As the older guy’s leave the field, the sixth grade team takes the field and gets into their Wing-T formation. Indeed, nothing has changed.

LONGMEADOW AT A GLANCE
2011: 11-2, won Division I West Super Bowl
Coach: Nick St. George (1st year)
Key Returnees: Frankie Elder, Sr. RB/S, 5-9, 170 lbs.; Austin Sierra, Sr. RB/DE, 6-4 200 lbs.; Mike Sell, Sr. TE/MLB, 6-1 215 lbs.; Rob McClure, Sr. OL, 6-3 260 lbs.; Lou Calabrese, Sr. OL, 6-1 245 lbs.; Mark Gentile, Sr. OL, 6-2 275 lbs.; Zach Calman, Sr. 6-2 245 lbs.; Steve Krushell, Sr. OL, 6-3 275 lbs.
Strengths: Experience, Leadership, Offensive Line.
Weakness: Quarterback
Outlook: To say that quarterback is a weakness for Longmeadow is actually a bit nit-picky considering their vaunted Wing-T offense is not particularly reliant on the position. The Lancers’ offensive line will once again pave the way for one of the state’s best rushing offenses which will run through Austin Sierra and Frankie Elder with several other players also in the mix to get some carries. Sierra will be playing the fullback position vacated by T.J. Norris (1,313 yards, 23 TD in 2011) but showed last year that he is more than up to the task (620 yards, 7 TD). The always stingy defense is looking particularly quick again in 2012 and points will certainly be at a premium when playing against Longmeadow. The Lancers will play that crucial game against St. John’s (Shrewsbury) on Sept. 15 in Shrewsbury.

Recap: CMass wins Shrine Chowder Bowl

June, 22, 2012
6/22/12
10:52
PM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- And the streak goes on.

In the 12th annual Shrine Chowder Bowl All-Star Classic, Central Massachusetts hung on to edge Western Mass., 14-6, making it nine straight victories for the visitors.

Central Mass. took that eight-point lead early in the second quarter and looked back only for a minute, ultimately withstanding one late final scoring chance for Western Mass.

“It feels great,” said Central Mass. Offensive MVP Luis Feliz of Clinton, who scored the go-ahead touchdown on an 11-yard run with 9:42 to go in the second quarter. “This will be a great memory.”

West seemed to have a shot at tying late in the fourth quarter. After forcing a turnover on downs, the hosts had a first down on their own 43-yard line. Two errant snaps later, though, they were forced to punt from their own end zone facing a 4th-and-45.

The ball bounced their way again, though, just one play later as Central fumbled on the very next play from scrimmage. Agawam safety Alex Efstratios picked it up and gave Western Mass. one more shot.

Minnechaug quarterback Greg Heineman and the Western squad moved the chains quickly thanks to completions to Tevin Jones and Melquawn Pinkney and hard-earned yards on the ground by T.J. Norris.

It would all be for naught, though, as Heineman, facing a 4th-and-15 on the Central Mass. 30-yard line, was sacked for a 14-yard loss.

On the first drive of the game, Central marched quickly after a 58-yard kickoff return by Leicester’s Tyler Goodney. Nashoba quarterback Trevor Wyand led an efficient six-play drive that resulted in a five-yard touchdown pass to Leominster’s Kevin O’Connor in the back of the end zone.

West answered back quickly, though on the ensuing drive. Heineman checked down to Pinkney, who caught a short pass and then took it 80 yards, weaving his way through many would-be tacklers for an impressive touchdown.

“It really meant a lot to put on a show for my city,” said Pinkney, a recent graduate from Springfield Putnam. “It felt really good to get out there.”

Reversing the curse? Entering Friday’s matchup, it had been eight straight victories for Central and nine wins in all 11 games played since the Chowder Bowl’s inception in 2001.

Despite the friendly nature of the charitable classic, the Western side was determined to turn the tides.

“We wanted to win pretty bad,” said Minnechaug head coach Steve Allosso, who served as the head coach of the Western squad. “I know recently, we’ve been beaten pretty bad. The kids were fired up. I was fired up. After meeting these kids, it was a blast.”

Contrast in styles: Different styles of offense were seen throughout the game and the contrast was seen early on.

Wyand, the quarterback from Nashoba, led a smart and efficient ground attack from the first play on. Quabbin’s Kenny Goodnow, the other Central Mass. signal caller, sprinkled in a few more passes, but for the most part, the visitors were ground oriented Friday.

On the other side of the field, Heineman threw the ball 20 times, connecting on nine passes for 98 yards. Dayvon Williams of Springfield Commerce also went to the air, narrowly missing teammate Tevin Jones on a home run ball in the first half.

ESPN Boston MIAA football All-State team

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
7:40
PM ET
OFFENSE
QB – Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr., Everett
Statistically the state’s best all-time quarterback, the ESPN Boston Mr. Football recipient finishes his storied career in Everett as the state’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (103) and passing yards (7,052). This season he broke his own state single-season record for TD passes (44), and threw for over 2,800 yards. In the last two seasons alone, both perfect Super Bowl-winning campaigns, he threw for 87 touchdown passes to better the previous state all-time mark of 85. DiBiaso is undecided on college plans.

QB – Matt O’Keefe, Sr., Duxbury
In his first season as the full-time starter under center, the Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit was a finalist for ESPN Boston’s Mr. Football award. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder totaled nearly 3,000 yards from scrimmage, throwing for 2,321 yards, rushing for another 670, and totaling 39 scores. O’Keefe, a defender for the defending Division 1 state champion Dragons, is currently ranked as the No. 32 overall lacrosse player in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU.

QB – Matt Montalto, Sr., Dennis-Yarmouth
The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder led the Dolphins to their best season in school history, finishing a perfect 13-0 campaign by winning the Division 2A Super Bowl title – their first championship of any kind in the Super Bowl era. For the season he completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,065 yards and 25 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also carried 134 times for 1,219 yards and 16 more scores. Montalto is fielding various college interest, including, New Hampshire, Albany, Colgate, Brown, Sacred Heart and Bentley.

QB – Michael Walsh, Sr., Swampscott
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was a force on both sides of the ball for the 9-2 Big Blue, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,129 yards and 25 touchdowns to go along with 930 rushing yards and 13 more scores. Defensively, he totaled 47 tackles from the free safety position, forcing three fumbles and making two interceptions. Walsh will continue his career next fall at Brown as a safety.

RB – Melquawn Pinkney, Sr., Springfield Putnam
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Mr. Football finalist ended his career with the Beavers in record-breaking fashion. With 341 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 48-6 win over Commerce for the Division 2 Super Bowl title, Pinkney broek Cedric Washington’s 15-year-old state all-time record for single-season yardage (2,889), and set the new state single-season mark for rushing touchdowns (43). Earlier in the season, Pinkney set a Western Mass single-game record with 421 rushing yards in a win over Agawam. For the season, he averaged 8.4 yards a carry. Pinkney is currently undecided on college plans.

RB – Sacoy Malone, Sr., Springfield Central
Both Malone and his cross-town foil Pinkney eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark on the season, as the Eagles returned to the Western Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl for the second straight year. On the season, Malone had 257 carries for 2,001 yards and 22 touchdowns; since the start of the 2010 season, he’s accumulated over 3,200 yards and 35 touchdowns. The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Malone is currently fielding interest from several Division 1 FCS schools.

RB – George Craan, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
Craan, the reigning Dual County League MVP, was the catalyst for the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl-winning season. He followed up a 1,900-yard junior season with just as explosive numbers in 2011, carrying 220 times for 1,761 yards and 24 touchdowns, as the Patriots went 13-0. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Craan is currently undecided on college plans.

RB – Charles Ruffin, Sr., King Philip
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder is the second Warrior in four seasons to capture Hockomock League Offensive Player of the Year honors. On the season he amassed over 1,300 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and led the Warriors to their first postseason berth of the Super Bowl era. Ruffin, who also stars in lacrosse and track and field, is currently fielding interest from several Division 1 schools.

TE – Mark Riley, Sr., Needham
One of several All-Staters previously known most for their lacrosse exploits, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was a force to be reckoned with for the 9-4 Rockets. Utilized as both a receiver and tight end, Riley caught 72 balls for 1,266 yards and a school record 15 touchdowns. He is currently undecided on college plans, but fielding Division 1 interest in lacrosse.

TE – Jameson McShea, Sr., BC High
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Temple commit didn’t put up eye-opening numbers in the passing game, but his support in the running game was without peer as he helped paved the way for both Preston Cooper and Deontae Ramey-Doe. As a defensive end, he recorded 68 tackles (12 for loss) and was named the Catholic Conference’s Lineman of the Year.

WR – Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr., Weymouth
One of the state’s best deep-ball threats, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder tallied 936 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns for the 9-2 Wildcats this fall. Since the start of his junior season, Bailey-Smith has caught over 2,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. He is also a state champion in track and field, having cleared 6-foot-10 in the high jump. Bailey-Smith is fielding interest from Division 1 schools.

WR – Gordon McLeod, Sr., BC High
One of the most versatile threats on the Eagles’ Division 1 Super Bowl champion squad, McLeod was one of the leading receivers in Eastern Mass., with 755 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns as they captured their second title in four seasons.


WR – Don Webber, Sr., Duxbury
Considered one of the state’s best route-runners, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was the 13-0 Dragons’ most dangerous weapon in space. Webber led the team with 52 receptions for 776 yards and 11 touchdowns, as the Dragons won a second consecutive Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium and extended the state’s longest winning streak to 26 games. Webber is leaning towards the Ivy League for college plans.

WR – Malcolm Brown, Sr., Pope John XXIII
Statistically, the 6-foot-1 Brown graduates from the Everett campus as one of the state’s most decorated receivers of all-time. This fall he caught 71 passes to set school records of 1,306 yards and 20 touchdowns, both tops in the state. He also racked up 918 return yards and three touchdowns, ran for 328 yards, and threw for another 267. Defensively, he recorded 65 tackles (10 for loss) and three interceptions, including a pick-six. For his career, he has 192 receptions for 3,447 yards and 44 touchdowns, and 56 total scores. Brown currently has interest from schools in the Northeast-10 and MEAC conferences.

OL – Andrew VanderWilden, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
At 6-foot and 245 pounds, VanderWilden was arguably one of the most efficient pound-for-pound centers in the state. He led a Patriots rushing attack that racked up 53 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards the ground, part of one of the state’s highest scoring averages (35.4). VanderWilden, a two-time Dual County League Lineman of the Year, will continue his career at Brown next fall.

OL – Keith Sullivan, Sr., Oliver Ames
The 6-foot-9, 300-pounder was arguably the most crucial two-way player for the Tigers’ historic run, winning their first Hockomock title since 1964 and qualifying for their first championship game of the Super Bowl era. Sullivan is currently undecided on college plans, but fielding Division 1 interest.


OL – John Montelus, Jr., Everett
DiBiaso’s blind side is quickly rising as one of New England’s top Class of 2013 prospects. The last two seasons the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has allowed DiBiaso to throw 87 touchdown passes and keep his jersey clean. Montelus received four offers before his 16th birthday this fall, and counts UConn, Syracuse, NC State, Virginia and Boston College.

OL – Gordon Acha, Sr., Duxbury
Acha, the Dragons’ left tackle, was named ESPN Boston’s inaugural Lineman of the Year this week after helping pave the way to a second straight 13-0 season. The Dragons averaged 302 yards of offense and had 36 touchdown passes. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Acha is currently fielding interest from Division 1 schools, including Boston College and Maryland.

OL – Rob Kosharek, Jr., Duxbury
Together with Acha, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Kosharek created one of the state’s best tandems on the left side of the 13-0 Dragons’ line. Behind Kosharek at left guard, the Dragons won their second straight Division 2 Super Bowl title and rang their winning streak up to a state-best 26 games.


ATH – Geeavontie Griffith, Sr., Boston Cathedral
The 12-1 Panthers experienced one of the state’s most dramatic turnarounds under first-year head coach Duane Sigsbury, and leading the charges was Griffith. The 5-foot-7, 175-pound Randolph native carried 152 times for 2,244 yards and 29 touchdowns, as the Panthers advanced to the Division 4A Super Bowl. He is currently undecided on college plans.

ATH – Armani Reeves, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Don’t let the Mr. Football finalist’s limited touches fool you. Reeves, a Penn State commit and the state’s No. 1 overall prospect, was electric practically every time he touched the ball. He ran for 1,001 yards on just 46 touches, caught another 205, and returned a punt for a touchdown to total 15 scores for the 7-2 Knights. That averages out to almost a touchdown every three touches.

K – Jules Murphy, Sr., Xaverian
Murphy has been known to regularly hit from 40 yards and further, and while he didn’t have many opportunities this season, he was a near-perfect 27-of-28 on extra points. Murphy is undecided on college plans.


DEFENSE
DL – Ralph Jonathas, Sr., Everett

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was a mainstay of the Crimson Tide's back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams and a defense that allowed just over 12 points per game this season. Jonathas has received interest from multiple Division 1 programs, but is undecided on college plans.


DL – Brendan Battles, Sr., Nauset
At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, the UConn commit was one of the most feared defensive presences in the state. But the bruising lineman also did double time, serving as the play-caller in Nauset's single wing offense, paving the way as the lead blocker out of the backfield. Battles also won the Division 1 and All-State wrestling crowns in the 215-pound divsion, advancing to the New England finals.

DL – Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr., Xaverian
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle was a physical presence in the middle of the Hawks defense. Hurst finished the season with 61 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Hurst also showed off his athleticism in one of the more improbable performances of the season, rushing for over 200 yards in the Hawks' win over St. John's of Shrewsbury, including an awe-inspiring 75-yard touchdown run.

DL – Henry Bumpus, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
The 6-foot-6, 218-pound defensive end was one of the more imposing physical presences in the state, as well as an important part of C-C's rushing attack at tight end. The senior captain helped to guide the Patriots to a Division 3 Super Bowl championship. A feared rusher off the edge, Bumpus finished with 9.5 sacks and 66 tackles. He also nabbed four interceptions on the season. Bumpus will attend Brown University next year.

LB – Tim Joy, Sr., Chelmsford
The Boston College-bound 'backer was the heart and soul of the Lions defense, leading the team with 155 tackles, including eight for a loss and three sacks. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder also had an interception in addition to three passes defensed. Joy was also a steady contributor to Chelmsford's offense, as a punishing lead blocker at full back in front of running back Eddie Sheridan.

LB – Luke Catarius, Jr., BC High
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder lead the Eagles in tackles, despite playing 10 regular season games with 129 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss. Catarius was also a mainstay of BC High's offense, providing lead blocks at fullback in front of Preston Cooper and Deontae Ramey-Doe for the Division 1 Super Bowl champions.

LB – Vondell Langston, Sr., Everett
The Crimson Tide senior captain was an integral part of Everett's offensive and defensive units in each of their back-to-back Super Bowl championship seasons. As a linebacker, Langston was tough against the ran and a threat to drop back in coverage, coming away with three interceptions on the season. Langston tallied 15 touchdowns on the season at running back. He is undecided on his college choice.

LB – Cam Williams, Sr., Catholic Memorial
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker was named one of 50 national finalists for the high school Butkus Award, honoring the nation's top linebacker. The Penn State commit totaled 119 tackles (81 solo), including 18 tackles for loss. Wiliams was also effective in pass defense with an interception and seven passes defensed.

LB – Nick Schlatz, Sr., Bridgewater-Raynham
The Trojans' senior captain was part of a dynamic 1-2 punch at running back along with Brandon Morin, totaling nine touchdowns. Schlatz was the fulcrum of Bridgewater-Raynham's defense, which allowed just under 14 points per game this season.


LB – Dan Flink, Sr., Auburn
Flink was the heart of the Rockets' defense, which surrendered just over 10 points per game this season. He totaled 141 tackles, including 27 tackles for loss, along with seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and eight sacks. Flink played running back with the same mentality he brought to his play at linebacker with 1,393 yards and 27 touchdowns in his senior season. The three-year starter was part of four Super Bowl championship teams at Auburn and is looking to study at Mass Maritime Academy next year.

DB – James Burke, Sr., Duxbury
The senior captain was a stalwart in the Dragons' defense in their back-to-back Super Bowl titles. The 6-foot, 165-pounder formed a vicious safety duo along with Reilly Naton and led the secondary with 76 total tackles (50 solo) and had three interceptions with nine passes defensed. Also a standout on Duxbury's state-title winning lacrosse team, Burke has signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Penn State.

DB – Quinton Perkins, Sr., Fitchburg
The 6-foot, 170-pound wideout and safety was one of the most dynamic talents in the state, nevermind Central Mass. Perkins, who holds offers from UConn and UMass-Amherst, tallied 35 tackles and two interceptions on defense. He racked up 20 total touchdowns with 10 rushing, nine passing and a kickoff return. Perkins also racked up over 1,300 all-purpose offensive yards. He also racked up 200 all-purpose offensive yards and three touchdowns in the Red Raiders' playoff loss to Leominster.

DB – Casey DeAndrade, Sr., East Bridgewater
The University of New Hampshire commit was one of the most electrifying offensive talents in the state this year, but also played lock-down corner for the Vikings. DeAndrade tallied one interception in his senior season to push his career total to 11, a testament to opponents' weariness in throwing in his direction. The multi-talented athlete tallied 22 touchdowns with nearly 1,400 all-purpose offensive yards.

DB – Obi Melifonwu, Sr., Grafton
The UConn commit was a big-play threat on both sides of the football for Grafton, leading the Indians with three interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder also ran for nearly 1,400 yards in a shortened season along with 17 touchdowns.


RET – Chucky Ortiz, Sr. Woburn
Ortiz was a jack of all trades while taking MVP honors of the Middlesex League Large division. In racking up 24 touchdowns, Ortiz tallied two pick-sixes, and a pair punt returns and kick returns for scores. Ortiz had six interceptions on defense while finishing a shade under 1,200 rushing yards. He also handled place kicking duties for the Tanners, connecting on 15 PATs and one field goal.

Best of the Rest
A.J. Baker, Sr. WR, Swampscott
Dan Barone, Sr. QB, Holliston
Vincent Burton, Sr. RB, Blue Hills
Kenny Calaj, Jr. WR, Everett
Andrew Coke, Sr. RB, Andover
Preston Cooper, Sr. RB, BC High
A.J. Doyle, Sr. QB, Catholic Memorial
Brian Dunlap, Fr. WR, Natick
Aaron Dyke, Jr. OL, Auburn
Andrew Ellis, Jr. LB, Barnstable
Joe Epps, Sr. RB, Bourne
Theo France, Sr. RB, Barnstable
Brett Harrington, Sr. DL, Chelmsford
Jack Harris, Sr. TE, Lincoln-Sudbury
Greg Heineman, Sr. QB, Minnechaug
Damion Johnson, Sr. WR, Dennis-Yarmouth
Jordan Keli'inui, Sr. RB, Mashpee
Thomas Kleyn, Sr. LB, Concord-Carlisle
Zack Hume, Jr. LB, Nashoba
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica
Cam McLevedge, Sr. QB, Weymouth
Reilly Naton, Sr. S, Duxbury
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow
Mike Prendeville, Sr. OG, BC High
Will Quigley, Sr. RB, Marblehead
Deontae Ramey-Doe, Sr. RB, BC High
Max Randall, Sr. LB, Duxbury
Zack Schafer, Sr. LB, Mansfield
Eddie Sheridan, Sr. RB, Chelmsford
Jarod Taylor, Jr. RB, Mashpee
Shawn Whouley, Sr. WR, Weymouth

Longmeadow expands its empire to Gillette

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
6:23
PM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For the second year in a row, the Longmeadow Lancers are the MIAA Western Massachusetts Divison I Super Bowl champions, but for the first time they were able to play at Gillette Stadium.

Overcoming multitudes of hurdles, including numerous injuries with those to starting quarterback Jake Lazarus and running back T.J. Norris and an earlier loss to Springfield Central, 21-20, on Oct. 15, the Lancers' victorious finale under the lights in Foxborough was nothing short of a miracle.

"In my 25 years of coaching, I have never seen anything like this," Longmeadow defensive coordinator Nick St. George said whose . "But we pulled it together."

Earlier this season, Rotsko discussed the importance of developing a program in which underclassmen develop throughout their time in the system so that when it is their time to carry the torch they are ready to do so. This season, junior Frankie Elder, who started off as a running back, took over at the quarterback position from Norris, who took it over from Lazarus, and lead the Lancers to a 35-7 win over Central in a rematch of last year's title game.

Although an amazing feat for some, Rotsko did not expect anything less from Elder, as this is not the first time he has broken the normal for Longmeadow.

"He's been a starter since his sophomore year," Rotsko said. "Actually he started on defense as a freshman, and I think we've had two freshmen in my 19 years that are staring and he's one of them. He's been around a little bit and has a lot of confidence. Playing a new position, I don't know if he could've done a better job than he did today."

Although Elder filled the big shoes, leading a team that has won 11 of the last 15 Division 1 Super Bowls, it did not coming without reservations.

"To be completely honest, I didn't really want to play quarterback, I'm a running back at heart," Elder said. Despite what his personal preference was, he was able to lead to his to glory, even with some doubt of his own abilities. "I can't really throw the ball, but we all got it done today and it was fantastic, it was awesome."

In the previous game, the Springfield Central Golden Eagles were able to score 21 points on the Lancers but today they only scored one touchdown in the second quarter, a 31-yard pass from Cody Williams to Joshua Malone. The difference in scoring and inability to run the ball (Certral had 50 yards on the ground) was summed up by junior lineman Louie Calabrese.

"We struck the keys, hit them in the chin and didn't let them drive us back like last time," Calabrese said. "Last time... it's probably that they embarrassed us. They embarrassed us last time, we were mad, real mad, but we got back at them though."

"When you get down, you've got to get back up and keep working harder," said Lazarus, who missed the first five games of the season with a broken right thumb and played today with a cast on his left arm for the same reason. "With an opportunity like this, you can't let injuries overcome you."


Recap: Longmeadow 35, Springfield Central 7

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
6:16
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -– Longmeadow's first offensive possession was a message-sending march if ever there was one.

The Lancers, with their lengthy scoring drive, essentially said this to rival Springfield Central: Good luck repeating your regular-season performance in the Western Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl.

Controlling play with a punishing rushing attack – and mixing in timely strikes through the air – the Lancers locked up their second straight title with a 35-7 win Saturday at frigid Gillette Stadium.

“We were able to sustain some drives and run the clock down,” said Longmeadow head coach Alex Rotsko, whose program overcame a host of injuries to make its 15th straight appearance in the final. “The kids' execution was very good on both sides of the ball.”

Flat out, Frankie Elder was a force for Longmeadow (11-2). You'd never know the 5-foot 9-inch, 175-pound junior made a late-season switch from running back to signal-caller out of necessity.

Elder (16 carries for 123 yards) tossed two touchdowns and twice ran for scores as the Lancers avenged their mid-October 21-20 loss to Central. The one-point stunner snapped Longmeadow's 52-game league win streak, and earned Central its first head-to-head win in the rivalry since 2000.

“It motivated us a lot. After they won (earlier this season), we looked over and saw them celebrating like they won the Super Bowl,” Elder said. “So, we came out here and actually won the Super Bowl.”

Payback started early.

The Lancers opened with a commanding 12-play drive. The offense moved 74 yards and hit paydirt on Elder's 14-yard rollout touchdown toss to Terry Norris (11 carries for 58 yards), who added a short-yardage scoring run in the final frame.

Elder's first big play extended the initial tone-setting drive. He powered forward for 11 yards on fourth-and-3 and moved the sticks to Central's 26.

Start to finish, Longmeadow's drive drained 6 minutes, 9 seconds off the clock.

The offense's second possession lasted a fraction of that time. But it still went for 78 yards in seven plays, capped by Elder's 11-yard run inside right tackle to the end zone.

“I don't know how you simulate Gillette Stadium,” Central head coach Vladamar Brower said. “But, mentally, I should've gotten in their minds a little bit that it's going to be a big stage … and be ready to play a game.”

Where Elder thrived, Central's top threat was largely stifled. Sacoy Malone recorded 74 yards of total offense, but just 43 on the ground. He briefly halted Longmeadow's momentum with an 24-yard catch-and-run TD shortly before halftime.

The second half? The Lancers owned it.

Dylan Kelleher, running left to right across the formation, broke free for a 40-yard TD reception less than 2 minutes into the third quarter. Elder added the two-point run for a two-touchdown cushion.

The fourth quarter was simply a 10-minute countdown to coronation. Norris (4-yard TD) and Elder (15-yard TD) added the exclamation points.

“We were fueled by it,” Norris said of the previous result against Central. “We knew we were the better team in the regular season. It showed here tonight.”

Playing keepaway: Control the clock. Control the Super Bowl.

Longmeadow executed the game plan with three lengthy drives that generated first downs – and plenty of frustration for the opposition.

Beyond the 12-play march for the game's first points, the Lancers dominated possession en route to their fourth and fifth scores.

Norris capped the fourth drive, an 11-play sequence, that took 5:08 off the clock. Elder's last trip to the end zone ended an 11-play drive lasting 4:50.

Sustaining drives led to a 22-6 advantage in first downs for the Lancers. They also converted 8 of 10 third-down attempts.

Awfully athletic: Malone gave Central the spark it desperately needed inside the first half's final minute.

Securing a pass in the flat from quarterback Cody Williams (7 of 17 passing, 123 yards), the senior running back quickly cut up field. He appeared headed out of bounds at the 5, pinned in by hard-charging Kevin Pierce and Jake Lazarus.

But Malone used one last burst to beat Longmeadow's would-be tacklers and squeeze inside the left pylon.

The touchdown helped pull the Golden Eagles within 13-7 with 54 seconds until halftime. Malone's catch-and-run TD immediately followed a penalty that pushed the offense out of the red zone.

Scary moment: Central's Perry Nowell was taken off via stretcher with 5:29 remaining in regulation. Brower said his senior linebacker sustained a “head or back injury” after charging to tackle Elder along the sideline.

Nowell braced himself on one knee after the play. But he soon returned to the turf. The medical staff tended to Nowell for several minutes, then called for the stretcher.

Brower said the stretcher was used for precautionary purposes.

“He was moving all his limbs and everything, so there's hope there, and he put his thumbs up at the end,” Brower said. “He was in good spirits.”

High praise: Elder's efforts certainly earned high praise from Rotsko, who ranked his signal-caller's Super Bowl statistics second to any QB's top priority: Making sure the offense runs smoothly.

“It's about running the team,” Rotsko said. “He's not a quarterback. He's a running back. He found out he's a quarterback about three weeks ago (due to player injuries).

“When you're playing with a kid who's not a quarterback, you'd expect (miscues),” he added. “That's a credit to him and his confidence.”

Longmeadow 35, Springfield Central 7
Springfield Central (10-3) 0-7-0-0—7
Longmeadow (11-2) 7-6-8-14—35

1st Quarter
L – Frankie Elder 14 pass Terry Norris (Eric Barsalou kick), 1:49

2nd Quarter
L – Elder 11 run (kick failed), 4:08
S – Cody Williams 24 pass Sacoy Malone (Juwan Williams), :54

3rd Quarter
L – Elder 40 pass Dylan Kelleher (Elder run)

4th Quarter
L – Norris 4 run (Barsalou kick), 9:56
L – Elder 15 run (Barsalou kick), 3:56

Mr. Football Watch: Week 11

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
11:32
AM ET
HOW THE CONTENDERS FARED

George Craan, Sr. RB, Concord-Carlisle - Carried 28 times for 164 yards and two scores in the Patriots' 27-0 shutout of Lincoln-Sudbury.
Casey DeAndrade, Sr. RB, East Bridgewater - Ran for 116 yards on 19 carries, and returning a kickoff 71 yards to the house, in a 16-6 loss to Mashpee.
Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett - Threw for 232 yards and four touchdowns, and added 97 rushing yards and a fifth score, in the Crimson Tide's 42-20 win over Malden that clinched their 17th straight Greater Boston League title. DiBiaso is now at 97 career touchdown passes.
A.J. Doyle, Sr. QB, Catholic Memorial - In the No. 5 Knights' win over Xaverian, threw for 167 yards and three scores and added 72 rushing yards and a fourth score.
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth - Completed 14 of 15 passes for 170 yards and 3 TD, and added 124 rushing yards and two more scores on just three carries, in a 42-7 win over Sandwich.
Sacoy Malone, Sr. RB, Springfield Central - Carried 14 times for 94 yards in a 34-25 win over Holyoke, the first time since the Eagles' season-opening loss to Putnam that he's been held to under 100 yards.
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow - Spraing his ankle in the opening five minutes of an 18-6 win over Minnechaug. Reports have surfaced that Norris, who has nearly 1,400 rushing yards on the season, sprained it somewhat significantly.
Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury - In the Dragons' 34-7 league-clinching win over Hingham, completed 14 of 25 passes for 248 yards and four scores, and also added 95 rushing yards and a fifth score.
Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Putnam - Carried 33 times for 168 yards and two scores in the Beavers' 22-12 win over South Hadley.
Armani Reeves, Sr. RB/WR, Catholic Memorial - Opened up the floodgates in the first quarter of a 33-11 win over Xaverian, with a 92-yard touchdown scamper, before Doyle took over.
Michael Walsh, Sr. QB, Swampscott - In the Big Blue's 33-15 win over Gloucester, he was 13 of 22 passing for 251 yards and four touchdowns, and carried nine times for 63 yards. On the season, the Brown commit has over 2,900 yards of offense.

ON THE RISE

Dan Barone, Sr. QB, Holliston - In the Panthers' 48-22 win over Norton, completed a perfect 7 of 7 passes for 227 yards and three scores, and added two rushing scores.
Andrew Coke, Sr. RB, Andover - Totaled 283 yards of offense and four rushing touchdowns in a 26-21 win over Lowell.
Mike Decina, Sr. QB, Hopkinton - Threw for 300 yards and six touchdowns in the Hillers' 42-13 beatdown of Westwood.
Theo France, Sr. RB, Barnstable - Last week, it was carving up the B-R defense on the ground. This week, he had 103 receiving yards and three touchdowns, in a 20-10 win over Plymouth North.
Jordan Keli'inui, Sr. RB, Mashpee - Carried 18 times for 98 yards in the Falcons' 16-6 win over East Bridgewater.
Cam McLevedge, Sr. QB, Weymouth - Threw for four touchdowns in a 50-0 shutout of Framingham, bringing his season touchdown pass total to a Division 1-best 34.
Chucky Ortiz, Sr. RB, Woburn - Did it all in the Tanners' 24-7 win over Lexington, running for two scores, throwing for another, and kicking a field goal.
Matt Owens, Sr. QB, Boston Cathedral - Threw for 270 yards and four touchdowns in the Panthers' win over Trinity Catholic that clinched the Catholic Central Small.
Quinton Perkins, Sr. RB, Fitchburg - Ran for four touchdowns in the Red Raiders' 26-15 win over Holy Name.
Karl Sery, Sr. RB, Hudson - The Bryant commit carried 34 times for 239 yards and two scores in the Hawks' 25-14 win over Clinton.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 9

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
11:26
AM ET
HOW THE CONTENDERS FARED

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.

ON THE RISE

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.

What We Learned: Week 7

October, 25, 2011
10/25/11
1:45
AM ET
UNEQUAL AT 11 ON 11
It might be even in man power, but Everett's receivers feel they're always at an advantage.

“There’s 11 men on both sides, but they can’t cover all of us," junior wideout Jalen Felix said after the Crimson Tide's 35-21 win over BC High on Saturday.

Felix had a coming out party as a legitimate big play receiver an Everett touchdown drive in the second quarter. On that drive, Felix made an other-wordly one-handed grab laying on his back with a BC High defender in his back pocket.

Still, the Everett offense isn't a one-man show. Kenny Calaj, Jakarrie Washington and Jaylen McRae all bring different elements to the Crimson Tide passing attack. Not to mention, Vondell Langston is running out of his mind of late (two straight 100-plus yard games).

“If I make a good play, it’s because of my teammates,” Felix said. “It’s not because of me., it’s because they did their jobs that I had the opportunity to do mine and vice versa.”

ALL EYES OUT WEST
Springfield's Blunt Park bustled with activity on Monday afternoon. Two junior varsity football game were ongoing, the were a soccer game being played at Springfield Central HIgh in the distance, cheerleading practice, along with that of both Central and Springfield Putnam's varsity football practice.

There you could find two of the elite rushers in Massachusetts this year, practicing within about a football field's distance from each other.

Melquawn Pinkney has garnered plenty of headlines with his multiple 300-plus yard games as a legitimate Mr. Football Award contender.

But, last weekend, it was Central's Sacoy Malone who stole the show in another record-setting performance.

Malone fell one touchdown shy of a Western Mass. record with a school-record seven-touchdown performance against Northampton to go along with 301 yards on the ground.

It's just another in the long line of weighty accomplishments compiled by the best the Springfield area has to offer.

"I think the me, Melquawn [Pinkney] and T.J. [Norris of Longmeadow] and what we've done this year, we're out to show that there is talent actually out here," Malone said during an interview for ESPN Boston's Player of the Week segment.

"Hopefully, we show that there's a possibility that you can make it to play in college coming from here."

So far, Malone has college offers from Fordham along with Central Connecticut State. Something tells us there might be more to come.

NEEDHAM SETTING NEW CHARTER

With star quarterback Drew Burnett (broken ankle) done for the year, Needham head coach David Duffy told the media early last week that he would likely use a rotation of three kids under center to fill the role in last Friday’s pivotal matchup with Walpole.

Few could have expected a sophomore by the name of Ryan Charter to make such an impact on such a crucial Bay State Conference tilt, albeit on less than a half-hour’s notice.

“Honestly, I found out (that I would start about) 20 minutes before the game,” Charter told ESPNBoston correspondent following the Rockets’ 31-22 win. “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 numbers Charter put up in his debut (5 of 10 passing, 222 yards, 2 TD) suggests that the X-factor with this Rockets squad falls upon two Rileys.

Mark Riley had touchdown catches of 67 and 74 yards to pace the Rockets early, and showed once again why he is one of the state’s premier pass-catching tight ends. Armed with a lacrosse skill set and an athletic frame, the senior takes on an Aaron Hernandez-like role with the team – that is, a tight end by nature, but one that lines up all over the field to create mismatches. Ian Riley, meanwhile, went over the century mark again as the team’s primary weapon out of the backfield.

Coupled with guys like Nico Panepinto, Mike Vespa and Dan Pierce, that's a vicious group to deal with.

CONCORD-CARLISLE IS OFFICIALLY A WAGON

Like probably a lot of you, we raised our eyebrows at the final of Concord-Carlisle's vicious romp of Westford two weeks ago: 61-14, and with relative ease. Tyquan Culbreath kicked things off with two long touchdowns on his first three carries, part of a combined 336-yard effort between himself, Tim Badgley and midseason All-State selection George Craan.

But as the old saying goes, you never look as good in your best win, and as bad in your worst loss (or something like that). But we couldn't help but rush to judgment this week, given the Patriots' historic win over long-time Dual County League powerhouse Acton-Boxborough. C-C knocked off A-B in convincing fashion, 35-12, for its first win over the Colonials since 1987.

Patriots head coach Mike Robichaud admits the offense has been ahead of the defense in many games this year -- and the score sheet (39.1 points per game) undoubtedly reflects that. But not to forgotten is the precision of the offensive line and the swarming style of play the defense has demonstrated.

Robichaud and his staff gush about the skills of center Andrew Vander Wilden, an ESPN Boston midseason All-State selection and a horse at 6-foot, 245 pounds. Combined with Tom Gregory, Thomas Kleyn, Trevor Castrichini, and Owen Guattaduaro, the Patriots boast an offensive line on par with some of the state's other top units like Everett, Duxbury, BC High or Auburn. Add 6-foot-6 tight end Henry Bumpus into the mix, and that's quite a chore.

“Henry Bumpus is one of the best blocking tight ends I have ever seen at the high school level,” Robichaud told correspondent Ryan Kilian following the A-B win. “He has been doing this for us for three years now. On defense teams cannot run at him at this point. He just does a great job and plays the entire game for us.”

Defensively, Bumpus makes his impact felt at the defensive end position, and has been a load to handle.

“I was really proud of our defense,” Bumpus told Kilian. “That is a very good offensive football team and we did a good job stepping up tonight. On offense we have five of six returners back on the line and we are really focused on getting back to where we were last year. We are blocking well right now and the backs are hitting the holes well so it is all coming together for us.”

IS THE CATHOLIC CONFERENCE WIDE OPEN NOW?

That's the question on everyone's mind in the wake of a devastating season-ending ankle injury to BC High's Preston Cooper -- a Darren Sproles-like fixture for the No. 5 Eagles, the reigning Catholic Conference MVP, an ESPNBoston Mr. Football candidate, and arguably the state's top prospect at tailback.

Nobody will argue the Eagles have one of the state's most competitive schedules in arguably the state's toughest conference. There isn't a bad loss on the schedule, including the New Jersey teams, and there isn't a poor win. And personally, we feel Deontae Ramey-Doe is a more than suitable backup, should the Eagles go that route -- his upright running style, while a change of pace from the low-moving Cooper, has an air of deception to it.

But there's four teams with a shot here. Xaverian, with competitive losses to each of our Top 3 teams, has too good of a coaching staff and defensive line not to throw some haymakers in conference place. Catholic Memorial is showing signs of life, and has to be encouraged by A.J. Doyle's four touchdown passes and 200-plus yards last week.

The wild card in all of this is St. John's Prep. With a green line, quarterback change and an offense that sputtered out of the gates, many had written off the Prep as a team in rebuilding mode. But the emergence of sophomore Jonathan Thomas the last two weeks has some giving second thoughts, especially after putting up 41 points on St. John's of Shrewsbury two weeks ago.

This could be one of more exciting races for conference supremacy, and it all starts Friday when the Prep takes a visit to Catholic Memorial. Get your popcorn ready.

THE BEST QUARTERBACK NOBODY'S TALKING ABOUT

Write this name down: Greg Heineman.

Quietly, the Minnechaug senior is putting together one of the state's finer seasons for a signal-caller. While he didn't register a touchdown pass in last week's 21-14 win over Westfield, he finished up with 347 yards on 26 of 37 passing.

Through seven games for the 7-0 Falcons, who come in at No. 22 this week in our statewide MIAA poll, Heineman is completing nearly 62 percent of his passes for 1,742 yards and 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions (our friends at MassLive have his stats tracked here). Seven different Falcons players have caught a touchdown pass, which suggests Heineman demonstrates good reads and hits the open man.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 8

October, 24, 2011
10/24/11
11:59
AM ET
HOW THE CONTENDERS FARED

Preston Cooper, Sr. RB, BC High - Had 15 carries for 168 yards on Everett before a serious ankle injury late in the third quarter. The midseason All-State selection is all but done for the season.
George Craan, Sr. RB, Concord-Carlisle - Ran for 244 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots' 35-12 win over Acton-Boxborough, their first victory over the Colonials since 1987.
Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett - In the win over BC High, he was 14 of 28 passing for 252 yards and a touchdown, and added two rushing scores. He's now three touchdown passes off the state all-time mark, and could break it this Friday against Medford.
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica - In the Indians' 28-20 double-overtime thriller over Haverhill, he accounted for both overtime scores. He finished with 167 yards passing and another 50 on the ground.
Sacoy Malone, Sr. RB, Springfield Central - Turned in a record-setting evening in the Golden Eagles' 49-7 rout of Northampton, rushing for 301 yards and seven scores on just 15 carries.
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth - Another game, another 200 yards of offense. This week, in a 42-0 blanking of Cranston West (R.I.), he threw for 143 yards and ran for another 102, totaling three scores.
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow - Carried 10 times for 170 yards and four touchdowns in a 47-0 romp of Agawam.
Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury - Threw for 87 yards on 3 of 4 attempts, and totaled three scores in a 40-7 win over North Quincy.
Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Putnam - After four straight weeks of going over the 250 mark, Pinkney settled for 95 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in the Beavers' 28-20 win over Chicopee.
Nick Schlatz, Sr. RB/LB, Bridgewater-Raynham - Carried 33 times for 158 yards and two scores in the Trojans' 28-22 double-overtime thriller over Xaverian.
Brandon Walsh, Sr. QB, North Andover - Thew for three touchdowns and added a fourth on the ground in a 42-6 win over Lynn Classical.

ON THE RISE

Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr. WR, Weymouth - With another touchdown catch in a 45-19 win over Norwood, the senior caught one in every game this season, for a Division 1-best 10.
Dan Barone, Sr. QB, Holliston - The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder was a workhorse in the Panthers' 20-0 shutout of Hopkinton, carrying the ball 28 times for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris Bettano, Sr. RB, Tewksbury - Carried 19 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the Redmen's 21-14 win over Lowell.
A.J. Doyle, Sr. QB, Catholic Memorial - Threw four touchdown passes in a 33-13 win over Malden Catholic.
Brian Dunlap, Fr. WR, Natick - In the Red and Blue's 21-12 win over Braintree, caught two first-quarter touchdown passes to give him a Bay State Conference and Division 2A best 11 on the season.
Greg Heineman, Sr. QB, Minnechaug - Was 26 of 37 passing for 343 yards in the Falcons' 21-14 win over Westfield.
Vondell Langston, Sr. RB/LB, Everett - It was his second straight week going over the century mark, rushing for 102 yards and two scores in the Tide's 35-21 win over BC High.
Trevor Leandro, Sr. QB, Dartmouth - In the Indians' surprise 56-28 blowout of New Bedford, was a perfect 5 for 5 passing for 146 yards and two scores, and tacked on another 146 yards on the ground for three scores on just 14 carries.
Obi Melifonwu, Sr. RB, Grafton - The UConn commit ran for 109 yards and three first-half touchdowns in a 37-19 win over Oxford.
Tim O'Brien, Sr. RB, East Bridgewater - Ran for 147 yards and two scores on just six carries, and added another touchdown through the air, in a 41-0 shutout of Norwell.
Kenny Pierce, Sr. RB, Beverly - Had his second game five-touchdown game of the season, this time on just nine carries for 256 yards, in a 47-0 blanking of Danvers.
C.J. Scarpa, Jr. QB, Andover - Threw for three touchdown passes in the Golden Warriors' 52-13 win over Methuen, giving him 16 on the year.

10 thoughts from the first half of football season

October, 19, 2011
10/19/11
7:19
PM ET
ARE TRIPLE-DIGITS OUT OF THE QUESTION FOR LIL’ DIBS?
Barring catastrophe, we fully expect Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso to break Tom Colombo’s all-time passing touchdown mark of 85 before the month is over. He’s four away, and he’s got two games to do it – this Saturday against BC High, and on Oct. 28 in the Crimson Tide’s Greater Boston League opener against Medford.

The question now is that, with seven games left on the schedule (let’s just declare them Super Bowl-bound now), whether he can surpass the century mark. Last season, he threw for 16 scores in the Tide’s four GBL contests, and another five in two playoff wins over Andover and St. John’s Prep.

All evidence points to DiBiaso shattering the state mark and putting the record nearly out of reach, when all is said and done.

IS NO. 16 NEEDHAM FOR REAL?
A few weeks ago, when the Rockets upset then-No. 6 Weymouth, we would have told you yes. Even before that, when the Rockets went toe-to-toe in an eventual 36-30 loss to Mansfield, we’d have told you Needham’s on to something.

Now? We’re not sure what to think. Drew Burnett , a senior quarterback with Division 1 offers, broke his ankle in two places during Saturday’s 49-14 win over Milton, putting an end to one of the more promising seasons in the Bay State Conference. With a healthy Burnett, we like their chances of not only controlling their destiny in the Bay State Carey, but against whomever comes out of the Big 3 conference for the Division 1 playoffs.

Head coach David Duffy told ESPNBoston correspondent Matt Noonan earlier today that he will use a rotation of three guys at quarterback in Friday’s crucial tilt with No. 17 Walpole. The Rockets have shown to lineup quality athletes in Dan Pierce, Nico Panepinto, Ian Riley and Mark Riley (no relation), but you have to wonder how quickly the understudy can adapt to Duffy's system, which has begun to diversify the last few years.

AUBURN’S OFFENSIVE LINE IS A WAGON
We’ve sung their praises several times before, but it bears mentioning again: even after a bump in the road, No. 14 Auburn’s line is rising as one of the state’s best units.

Comprised entirely of juniors and sophomores – including a 6-foot-4, 305-pounder who is just 15 years old – this makes the Rockets at team to watch over the next few years. With short splits and a precise zone-blocking scheme, these guys are a cohesive unit up front and have been blowing teams off the ball to the tune of 17 rushing touchdowns. Dan Flink is the Rockets’ Peyton Hillis, but give speedster Fred Taylor some room to run and he is one of the shiftier players in the Worcester area.

Within the Central Mass sphere, this will continue to be one of the more dangerous teams in Division 3.

HOW TOUGH WILL THE ALL-STATE RACE BE AT RUNNING BACK?
Extremely tough.

But such is the beauty and the beast of picking a true statewide All-Star team that doesn’t just simply reward the 25 best running backs in Eastern Mass. – when you’ve got just four slots to pick from 300-plus schools, an elite player inevitably gets left off the list.

Andover’s Andrew Coke came into the season as the lone returning All-State running back (Catholic Memorial’s Armani Reeves was an athlete selection). But as good as he’s been for the 4-2, Golden Warriors, there have been better resumes through the first half of the season.

BC High’s Preston Cooper has 14 rushing touchdowns through six games and is coming off a 202-yard performance in a 32-0 blanking of a tough Marlborough squad. Concord-Carlisle’s George Craan would be on pace for a ridiculous senior season if not for the emergence of Tyquan Culbreath, and the overall ease with which the Patriots have disposed of opponents so far.

Meanwhile, a trio of Western Mass. tailbacks have emerged on the scene forcefully, all averaging seven yards or more per carry.

Springfield Putnam’s Melquawn Pinkney currently leads the state in rushing yards (1,526) and rushing touchdowns (24). Longmeadow’s T.J. Norris (1,003 rushing yards, 15 TD) is a fire hydrant at 5-foot-8 and 220 pounds. Folks within the Everett program still tell us Springfield Central’s Sacoy Malone (916 yards, 7 TD) is one of the best backs they’ve faced in two years. If his performance in the Eagles’ 21-20 upset of Longmeadow last week is any indication (194 yards, 2 TD), he could be in for a terrific second half.

Also not to be forgotten is King Philip’s Charles Ruffin, who is coming on strong after a 147-yard performance in last week’s win over North Attleborough. The track star’s elite speed is known about statewide, but he’s starting show his toughness between the tackles. Health will be key, as he’s already missed some time with injury.

GIVE P-FUNK CREDIT
Back when Paul Funk was still an assistant at Everett, the program at Dennis-Yarmouth was in such shambles that the school was thinking of dropping the program altogether.

In his first year, back in 2001, the Dolphins played only JV games. Since then, he’s slowly built up a program that has become arguably the Cape’s most consistent over the last half-decade. Since their last losing season in 2006, the Dolphins are 38-12, including a 6-0 mark this year; if the Dolphins stay the course, they will wrap up their third 10-win season in six years, and their second-straight Division 2A playoff berth after earning their historic first a season ago.

This year, the Dolphins boast one of the state’s elite jump-ball receivers in Damion Johnson and arguably the toughest pound-for-pound quarterback in Matt Montalto. But it’s not about the superstars that make this program go.

More often than not, D-Y wins with undersized players who are neither big nor athletic, but embrace contact and love to hit. With little depth, most of the starters go both ways, and guys like 5-foot-7 defensive tackle Tommy Kennedy are relied upon to shoot the gaps rather than fill them. At the end of the day, this is a well-conditioned, disciplined team that has to be one of the favorites in Division 2A if all goes to plan.

WILL THE KNIGHTS BE RIDING COME DECEMBER?
Have you heard about Catholic Memorial's four FBS recruits? Have you heard about their opening day loss to Marshfield?

It’s all old news, but now the question is whether the Knights can heed the lessons learned from the Rams debacle and translate that into a Catholic Conference championship.

Following a bye week last week, the Knights will embark on their four-game conference schedule, which is bisected by a matchup with Brockton in two weeks, on Friday against Malden Catholic. The biggest of those game occurs in their Thanksgiving Day game against BC High, provided there are no missed steps along the way. You have to like CM’s chances against Malden Catholic and the Prep, but if CM can knock off Xaverian, that would set up the winner-take-all matchup at the end of their regular season schedule.

There’s no question the Knights have the talent to beat Xaverian, or the third-ranked Eagles for that matter. But, as has been the case in the last couple of seasons, it’s not about if, it’s about when. Is this the time that the group led by A.J. Doyle, Donovan Henry, Armani Reeves and Camren Williams prove good on their promise?

CAN NEW BEDFORD WIN THE BIG 3 AGAIN?
When New Bedford knocked off Brockton in their Big Three meeting last November, it was a shocking upset.

If the Whalers are to repeat the feat this year, a New Bedford victory wouldn’t be greeted with such surprise.

Myles Medeiros (11 TD passes) has the Whalers offense firing with a legitimate down-field threat in receiver Jaraud Wood, while running back Marcel DePina needs only a yard to shake loose from defenses in the open field. In addition, the defense, led by junior lineman Tyler Arena has been strong.

Meanwhile, Brockton pulled off an upset last week against New Hampshire behemoth Pinkerton Academy (its fifth straight win against the Astros), so you can’t count out the Boxers quite yet, despite a slow start (1-3) to the season. But clearly the balance of power in the Big Three (read: Brockton, Brockton and, ahem, Brockton) isn’t quite what it used to be.

… THAT BEING SAID
The most encouraging thing you can say about Brockton’s season thus far has been the emergence of quarterback Austin Roberts. The junior signal-caller had his biggest game yet last week against Pinkerton. Roberts completed 14 of 22 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns to down the Granite State’s top team.

If Roberts can keep the big plays coming, Brockton is still very much a threat.

ROCK ‘EM, SOCK ‘EM
No. 4 Chelmsford showed once again last week why the Merrimack Valley Conference Large runs through them in a thorough victory over Andover on Saturday.

But let’s not crown the Lions and Mr. Football challenger Tim Joy champions just yet. After all, they still have a pesky Central Catholic team on the schedule, in addition to huge games at Lowell and at Billerica to finish on Turkey Day. Both the Red Raiders and Indians made their debuts in our Top 25 this week after both teams have been flying under the radar a little at 5-1. Dynamic quarterback R.J. Noel has Red Raider nation believing that this could be the team to unseat Chelmsford, while the Indians feature a defense that is much improved from last year’s edition.

Plus, Billerica still has that LaSpada kid causing havoc for defenses and you can’t underestimate that.

ROCK ‘EM, SOCK ‘EM: PART DEUX
Akin to the MVC, the Hockomock League always fields one of the most competitive leagues in the state from top to bottom. And we’ve seen that parity play out in the first half, what with Stoughton’s shocking win over Mansfield.

What is for certain is that the league, which now has two playoff bids for the first time for its Davenport and Kelley-Rex winners, is still wide open.

Mansfield remains in the driver’s seat in the large division with wins over King Philip and Attleboro, but the Hornets’ game against North still looms. In the Davenport, the likely winner-take-all meeting between Oliver Ames and Stoughton is still three weeks away, but the Tigers’ matchup with Mansfield on Friday will be a good indicator of how far they’ve come this season.

Our midseason All-State team

October, 19, 2011
10/19/11
2:46
PM ET
HS Football Scott Barboza/ESPNBoston.com Bridgewater-Raynham's Nick Schlatz has earned a reputation for being a hard-nosed player on both sides of the ball, resulting in his selection as a linebacker on our midseason All-State team.


The 2011 season is halfway over, and we've had our fair share of ups, downs, thrillers and surprises. Here are the staff's picks for ESPNBoston's MIAA All-State team at the midway point of the season.

NOTE: The finalized ESPNBoston MIAA All-State Team roster and second annual ESPN Boston Mr. Football Award will be announced on Monday, December 5.

OFFENSE
QB – Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr., Everett
QB – Nick LaSpada, Sr., Billerica
QB – Matt O’Keefe, Sr., Duxbury
RB – Melquawn Pinkney, Sr., Springfield Putnam
RB – Preston Cooper, Sr., BC High
RB – George Craan, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
RB – T.J. Norris, Sr., Longmeadow
TE – Jameson McShea, Sr., BC High
TE – Mark Riley, Sr., Needham
WR – Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr., Weymouth
WR – Damion Johnson, Sr., Dennis-Yarmouth
WR – Don Webber, Sr., Duxbury
WR – Malcolm Brown, Sr., Pope John XXIII
OL – Andrew VanderWilden, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
OL – Keith Sullivan, Sr., Oliver Ames
OL – Gordon Acha, Sr., Duxbury
OL – Rob Kosharek, Jr., Duxbury
OL – John Montelus, Jr., Everett
ATH – Armani Reeves, Sr., Catholic Memorial
ATH – Sacoy Malone, Sr., Springfield Central
K – Jules Murphy, Sr., Xaverian

DEFENSE
DL – Ralph Jonathas, Sr., Everett
DL – Brendan Battles-Santos, Sr., Nauset
DL – Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr., Xaverian
DL – Henry Bumpus, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
LB – Tim Joy, Sr., Chelmsford
LB – Luke Catarius, Jr., BC High
LB – Vondell Langston, Sr., Everett
LB – Dan Flink, Sr., Auburn
LB – Nick Schlatz, Sr., Bridgewater-Raynham
LB – Zack Hume, Jr., Nashoba
DB – Gordon McLeod, Sr., BC High
DB – Reilly Naton, Sr., Duxbury
DB – Casey DeAndrade, Sr., East Bridgewater
DB – Obi Melifonwu, Sr., Grafton
RET – Geeavontie Griffith, Sr., Boston Cathedral

Mr. Football Watch: Week 7

October, 17, 2011
10/17/11
12:21
PM ET
HOW THE CONTENDERS FARED

George Craan, Sr. RB, Concord-Carlisle - Part of a three-headed rushing attack in Friday's 61-14 stomping of Westford, carried 10 times for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Preston Cooper, Sr. RB, BC High - Ran for 202 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles' 32-0 shutout of Marlborough.
Casey DeAndrade, Sr. RB, East Bridgewater - On just four carries, totaled 179 yards and three scores, as the Vikings cruised to a 42-14 defeat of Carver.
Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett - Threw for 308 yards, and added 55 on the ground, totaling three scores in the No. 1 Crimson Tide's 42-21 win over Xaverian. He is now four touchdown passes off the state's all-time mark of 85.
Sacoy Malone, Sr. RB, Springfield Central - Carried 26 times for 194 yards and two touchdowns in the Golden Eagles' 21-20 upset of Longmeadow.
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth - In the Dolphins' 14-0 shutout of Marshfield, carried 22 times for 148 yards and a touchdown, and also added 82 yards through the air on 6 of 13 passing.
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow - In the loss to Central, carried 26 times for 170 yards and all three of the Lancers' scores.
Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury - Was 11 of 20 passing for 191 yards and a touchdown in the Dragons' 21-0 blanking of Scituate.
Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Putnam - Another week, another monster performance. He carried 31 times for 297 yards and five touchdowns in the Beavers' 56-14 win over Springfield Cathedral. Through six games, he leads the state in rushing yards (1,526) and rushing touchdowns (24).
Charles Ruffin, Sr. RB, King Philip - Carried 23 times for 147 yards and two scores in the Warriors' 19-7 win over North Attleborough.
Cody Titus, Sr. RB, St. Bernard's - Remember our "400 Rule"? Well, this kid just became a contender after rushing for a state-record 436 yards on 34 carries for five touchdowns in the Bernardians' 33-14 win over Littleton. Through six games he's carried 180 times for 1,465 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Brandon Walsh, Sr. QB, North Andover - Totaled five scores, including a 26-yard interception return, in the Knights' 46-0 shutout of Philips Andover.
Don Webber, Sr. WR, Duxbury - Caught seven passes for 109 yards in the Dragons' 21-0 win over Scituate.

ON THE RISE

Drew Burnett, Sr. QB, Needham - Completed 8 of 11 passes for 290 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-14 rout of Milton, but unfortunately that will be his last. He left the game with a broken ankle, and is done for the season.
Jamison Craft, Sr. RB, Gardner - Put in a workmanlike 27 carries for 192 yards and three touchdowns in the Wildcats' 28-7 win over Tyngsborough.
Tyquan Culbreath, Sr. RB, Concord-Carlisle - In the Patriots' 61-14 thrashing of Westford, gave them a jump early with 130 yards and four scores on just six carries.
Jalen Felix, Sr. WR, Everett - A breakout game to say the least, caught 10 balls for 145 yards and a score in the Tide's 42-21 win over Xaverian.
Greg Heineman, Sr. QB, Minnechaug - In the Falcons' 39-14 win over Agawam, he was 23 of 37 passing for 246 yards and four touchdowns.
Vondell Langston, Sr. RB, Everett - Ran for a career-high 203 yards and two scores on 15 carries in the Tide's 42-21 win over Xaverian.
Zack Jackson, Sr. RB, Amherst - Accumulated 282 yards of offense, including 228 on the ground, and two scores in a 44-41 win over Chicopee Comp.
R.J. Noel, Sr. QB, Lowell - Threw for 189 yards and totaled four scores in the Red Raiders' 42-15 rout of Central Catholic.
Mark Riley, Sr. TE, Needham - Hauled in three touchdown passes in the Rockets' 49-14 rout of Milton.
Eddie Sheridan, Jr. RB, Chelmsford - Led the Lions' rushing attack with 145 yards and three scores on 20 carries, in a 48-28 win over Andover.
Jonathan Thomas, Soph. RB, St. John's Prep - Exploded for 235 yards and three scores on 27 carries in the Eagles' 41-20 rout of St. John's (Shrewsbury).

What We Learned: Week 5

October, 10, 2011
10/10/11
10:52
PM ET
LONG LIVE THE ROCKETS…?
Call it a fluke, a trap game, or just plain bad night for special teams coverage. However you choose to draw it up, the nation’s third-longest active win streak was snapped last Friday night at 41 games.

Unranked Shepherd Hill played foil to SWCL rival No. 5 Auburn, upsetting them 32-22, thanks to a series of long runs. Kenny Mardirosian returned a kickoff 85 yards to the house in the third quarter, and then Brad Picard broke through for a 60-yard touchdown scamper to start the fourth quarter with a 26-7 lead. When the Rockets responded with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Drew Goodrich to Connor Fuller, the Rams immediately fired back with a 51-yard run by Anthony Wilga, for a 32-13 lead and essentially the game.

Aberration? Of course. This is a stout Rockets defense that is sturdy in the trenches and, quite frankly, doesn’t give up many long gains.

Shocker? You bet. The Rams are always a tough out, with their vaunted Double-Wing scheme, but few predicted this (including us).

It’s a period, not a comma, in the Rockets’ storied history under coach Jeff Cormier; but it’s hardly the end. The Rockets face Leicester and Tantasqua the next two weeks, followed by a tough three-game road swing against Northbridge, Grafton then Westborough, before the Thanksgiving matchup with Oxford/Sutton.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
[+] EnlargeMaurice Hurst
Brendan Hall for ESPN.comXaverian's Maurice Hurst Jr. is establishing himself as one of the state's premier interior defensive linemen.
The picture on the front page of the Boston Globe’s high school section says it all: yes, that’s Maurice Hurst Jr. –- all 6-foot-2, 275 pounds of him –- chasing down Duxbury wide receiver Reilly Naton all the way downfield after a big gain.

Few defensive linemen in Eastern Mass. have asserted themselves the way this junior three-technique has. In Saturday’s showdown with No. 2 Duxbury, Hurst fought through double-teams all game to make quarterback Matt O’Keefe’s life tough in the pocket, sacking him twice.

“He played a hell of a game,” Naton noted. “He was in our face all day, getting double-teamed and making plays.”

For those familiar with the Parcells-era Patriots, Hurst’s father, Maurice Sr., manned the right cornerback spot for New England for seven seasons, making 102 starts and 27 interceptions; he was named to the team’s All-1990s squad for his efforts.

A quick glance at these highlights from 2011 (so far) indicate the speed is in the blood. His backside pursuit is exemplary, with a strong bull rush to boot. In other words, keep this kid on your radar.

UNDERRATED? DIAL 4-1-3
Three weeks ago, in an interview with ESPN Boston, Putnam’s Melquawn Pinkney declared the Springfield area “very underrated” for football, saying “I guess they don’t think our players are as good or as talented, but we’ve got some good players coming out of here, and they’ll soon see…I went to a lot of showcases over the summertime, and I’ll hang with the best of them.”

The reason for us coming out to Springfield, of course, was to honor the 5-foot-9 senior with our Player of the Week honors after rushing for a Western Mass record 421 yards and six scores on just 17 carries, in a 66-0 win over Agawam (four yards off the state record, too). No matter how you cut, 421 yards is pretty darn impressive.

Last season, Pinkney spelled his cousin Lavaughnte Lowe in a terrific season for the Beavers. Both went for over 1,000 yards, as Putnam accumulated over 2,600 on the ground and lost to South Hadley in the Division 2 Western Mass Super Bowl. This season, Pinkney has exploded as the Beavers’ feature back, leading all rushers statewide with 1,229 yards and 19 touchdowns. In the last three games alone, he’s racked up 1,035 yards.

Combined with Longmeadow’s T.J. Norris (101 yards last week) and Springfield Central’s Sacoy Malone (141), that’s a trio that would make the short list on any All-Star team in Central or Eastern Mass.

Give these guys some credit –- it’s long overdue.

DRAGONS DOMINEERING UP FRONT
A look down the Duxbury roster shows senior left tackle Gordon Acha at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds; and junior left guard Rob Kosharek, at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds.

A quick glance across the line tells us two things about them: 1. Those listed heights and weights are no stretch, and 2. These two kids are pretty athletic.

[+] EnlargeDuxbury Linemen
Brendan Hall for ESPN.comDuxbury's Rob Kosharerk (72) and Gordon Acha (69) are both potential Division 1 line prospects.
“They’re beasts,” senior wide receiver Reilly Naton said following the team’s win over Xaverian. “That was a huge game for Gordon, he wants to go play college football, and he proved he can play against the great players like that.

“Kosharek, the kid’s amazing. He’s gonna be the heart and soul of the team next year on the line, and that’s just a great way for them to go out in this game –- on top.”

At the end of the day, this might be one of the state’s best guard-tackle combinations; the two demonstrated fluid footwork in the passing game, and sturdy leg power in run-blocking. The two matched up with Maurice Hurst Jr. at different times, sometimes combining for double-teams, traps and chips.

Aaron Kramer, a redshirt-freshman left tackle for Boston College, is the measuring stick by which linemen inevitably get judged by in Duxbury. The 6-foot-7, 296-pounder transferred back home from BC High before his junior year, and immediately made his impact felt, helping lead the Dragons to a rout of Gloucester in the 2008 Division 2A Super Bowl and bulling them back to the playoffs a season later.

Asked if he sees shades of Kramer in Kosharek, Naton quickly concurred.

“For sure, he’s definitely proven to be one of the best linemen to come through this program in a long time,” Naton said. “I mean, the kid’s still growing. He’s huge. Kid gets bigger every day.”

Head coach Dave Maimaron sees the comparison as well.

“Junior year, comparing him to Aaron, I mean yeah, there’s definitely some crossover there in their skill level,” Maimaron said. “They’re both very athletic for their size. Aaron kept getting better, and as long as Rob keeps improving, yeah he could be a D1 kid.”

The same could be said for Acha, who like Kramer, plays center for the school’s basketball team. Like Kosharek -– and like Kramer before them –- Acha wears a long, lean frame with high athleticism and projectability. BC and Maryland are among the Division 1 feelers who have expressed interest in his services.

“Gordon also has great size and he’s really progressing,” Maimaron said. “He’s real athletic. He has great feet, very similar to Aaron Kramer’s, and he has the size.”

THROWN FOR A LOSS
You knew something was off. As D.J. Crook, Barnstable quarterback, split out wide in a formation, you expected some kind of trick play, maybe some sort of double pass.

However, that was the last time Crook was on the field during the Red Raiders' game at New Bedford. What at first head coach Chris Whidden thought was an elbow problem, later thought to be a thumb dislocation, turned out to be a fracture of the thumb on his throwing hand.

While Crook's prospect of return is questionable (his father said he hopes to return to game form in 3 to 4 weeks) the injury seemingly will affect his assault at the state's career touchdown pass record; Crook is five off from Tommy Colombo's record of 79 touchdown passes. But more than that, Crook could be absent for the Red Raiders' Old Colony League schedule, which starts this Friday against Dartmouth.

While some on the Cape might be fearful that a promising season might have been lost on a twist of fate, fear not. We're here to provide Red Raider nation with three reasons why 2-3 Barnstable could still pull out an OCL championship sans-Crook.

  1. Barnstable is more than a passing attack: A quick observation of the Red Raiders' opening drive against Whalers shows that the Red Raiders' attack is built on more than just their talented signal-caller. Running back Theo France nearly single-handedly cut through the Whalers' defense, capped off by a 44-yard touchdown run to give Barnstable a 7-0 lead.
  2. An extension of pont No. 1 ... This defense is pretty darned good: Not every Barnstable win needs to be a track meet anymore. Ask any coach who's played against the Red Raiders about junior linebacker Andrew Ellis and they'll throw praise at the 5-11, 215-pounder and free safety Kevin Hardy is perhaps the grittiest player we've seen all year.
  3. There are solutions at QB: Junior Nick Peabody filled in for Crook (promising sophomore Hayden Murphy also took a couple snaps) down the stretch. While the final score didn't exemplify a close game that was in doubt until its final moments, Peabody led the Red Raiders downfield on a couple of promising drives that were cut short by blocking penalties (including a potential game-tying score erased). While Peabody, Barnstable's top receiver, will subtract by being pulled to another position, the Red Raiders still have a deep receiving corps with Dylan Morris and Tedaro France.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 6

October, 10, 2011
10/10/11
12:24
PM ET
HOW THE CONTENDERS FARED

George Craan, Sr. RB, Concord-Carlisle - Easy week for him in the Patriots' 35-7 rout of Boston Latin. He had just five carries for 135 yards and two scores.
D.J. Crook, Sr. QB, Barnstable - Looks he won't be appearing on this list for a few weeks. He fractured the thumb on his throwing hand in the second half of a 31-17 loss to New Bedford last Friday, meaning he'll be sitting at 74 career touchdown passes for a while. He did managed to throw for 135 yards on 13 of 19 passing.
Casey DeAndrade, Sr. RB, East Bridgewater - The UNH commit ran for two touchdowns in the Vikings' 36-12 win over Cohasset, bringing season season total to 12.
Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett - Threw five touchdown passes in the No. 1 Crimson Tide's 41-8 rout of Taunton, bringing his career total to 79. It's a very real possibility he'll break Tom Colombo's state record of 85 sometime over the next two weeks.
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica - Threw for 209 yards and two scores in the Indians' 20-14 win over Tewksbury.
Sacoy Malone, Sr. RB, Springfield Central - Carried 16 times for 141 yards in the Golden Eagles' 36-15 win over East Longmeadow.
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth - In the Dolphins' 27-18 win over Plymouth North, he completed 7 of 13 passes for 236 yards and added 71 yards on seven carries on the ground, totaling three scores.
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow - Carried 14 times for 101 yards and two scores in the Lancers' 34-7 win over Holyoke.
Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury - Another brilliant performance for the Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit, in a big 31-14 win over Xaverian. He was 16 of 22 passing for 230 yards and two scores, and added 76 yards on the ground on 14 carries.
Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Putnam - Carried 23 times for 352 yards and six scores in the Cybercats' 54-22 win over Chicopee Comp. In the last three weeks, he's carried 68 times for 1,035 yards and 16 touchdowns. That's an average of 15.2 yards per carry.
Armani Reeves, Sr. RB, Catholic Memorial - The Penn State commit had rushing touchdowns in the first and fourth quarters to seal the Knights' 35-14 win over Hingham.
Michael Walsh. Sr. QB, Swampscott - Threw for three touchdowns in the Big Blue's 24-23 comeback win over Triton.

ON THE RISE

Chris Bettano, Sr. RB, Tewksbury - Ran for 122 yards on 15 carries in the 20-14 loss to Billerica.
Matt Clifford, Jr. WR/KR, Billerica - Amassed nearly 300 all-purpose yards in the Indians' 20-14 win over Tewksbury, hauling in both of Nick LaSpada's touchdown passes and returning a kickoff 91 yards for the game-winning score.
Alex Eaton, Sr. RB, Westford - In the Grey Ghosts' 48-14 stomping of Newton South, carried 16 times for 139 yards and two scores, and added a 90-yard kickoff return for a third score.
Geeavontie Griffith, Sr. RB, Boston Cathedral - Carried 10 times for 180 yards and all four of the Panthers' scores in a 32-0 win over Charlestown. On the year, he has 917 rushing yards on 62 carries, for 11 touchdowns.
Myles Medeiros, Sr. QB, New Bedford - In the 31-17 win over Barnstable, was 17 of 26 passing for 227 yards and a touchdown. He also carried six times for 53 yards.
Reilly Naton, Sr. WR/DB, Duxbury - The Yale lacrosse commit asserted himself at the most crucial point of the Dragons' 31-14 comeback win over Xaverian. He had back to back receiving touchdowns to give them the lead for good, and sealed the game late with an interception.
R.J. Noel, Sr. QB, Lowell - In the Raiders' 35-20 win over Dracut, he ran for 127 yards and a score on the ground, and added 96 yards and two scores through the air.
Ian Riley, Jr. RB, Needham - Ran for 162 yards and three scores in the Rockets' 34-0 shutout of Weymouth, giving him six rushing touchdowns in the last two weeks.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 5

October, 3, 2011
10/03/11
12:22
PM ET
HOW THE CONTENDERS FARED

Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr. WR, Weymouth - Caught two touchdown passes in the Wildcats' 45-28 loss to Needham, bringing his season total to a Division 1-best seven.
Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, Everett - Completed 26 of 38 passes for 227 yards and four touchdowns in the Crimson Tide's 35-21 win over Barnstable.
Damion Johnson, Sr. WR/DB, Dennis-Yarmouth - It was a limited night through the air, save one big catch, but he was part of a defensive effort that held Falmouth to 41 first-half yards in the 41-8 win, and returned a punt 85 yards to the house in the third quarter to seal the win.
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica - Completed 14 of 23 passes for 239 yards and totaled three scores in a 40-14 win over Dracut.
Obi Melifonwu, Sr. RB/DB, Grafton - The UConn-bound Melifonwu ran for three touchdowns and a career-high 320 yards in a 34-18 win over Leicester.
Matt Montalto, Sr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth - Attempted just five passes, completing two, while adding 97 rushing yards and a score on six carries, in a 41-8 rout of Falmouth.
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow - Ran for 228 yards and four touchdowns in the Lancers' 41-27 win over West Springfield.
Matt O'Keefe, Sr. QB, Duxbury - The Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit was 14 of 18 passing for 230 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-0 shutout of Whitman-Hanson.
Melquawn Pinkney, Sr. RB, Putnam - Carried 28 times for 262 yards and four scores in a 34-6 win over Westfield. In the last two weeks, he has ran for 683 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 45 carries, for an average of 15.1 yards per carry.
Armani Reeves, Sr. ATH, Catholic Memorial - Throttled the Knights to a 42-0 beatdown of New Hampshire power Bishop Guertin with three touchdowns. He caught an eight-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive, and had touchdown runs of 41 and 69 yards -- his only two carries of the night. In the last five quarters, the Penn State commit has six touchdowns.
Brandon Walsh, Sr. QB, North Andover - Threw for 125 yards and ran for another 88, totaling four scores, in a 34-7 win over Newburyport.
Michael Walsh, Sr. QB, Swampscott - Accounted for 296 yards of offense and totaled four scores, while adding six tackles on defense, in a 33-19 win over Lynn English.

ON THE RISE

Chris Bettano, Sr. RB, Tewksbury - Ran for 130 yards and a score in the Redmen's 21-6 win over Central Catholic.
D.J. Crook, Sr. QB, Barnstable - Completed 31 of 57 passes for 294 yards and three scores in a 35-21 loss to No. 1 Everett.
Alex Eaton, Sr. RB, Westford - The Lehigh-bound lacrosse star went for a school-record 330 yards and five touchdowns in a 33-8 win over Groton-Dunstable. It's his third game of the season going over 200 yards of offense; through the first month he has 785 yards of offense.
Troy Flutie, Soph. QB, Natick - Accounted for 247 yards of offense and four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) in a 34-12 win over Newton North.
Geeavontie Griffith, Sr. RB, Boston Cathedral - Off to an explosive first month of the season, he ran for 240 yards and two scores on 19 carries in an 18-16 win over Pope John Paul II. Through four games he has 52 carries for 737 yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 14.9 yards per carry.
Connor Kurtz, Jr. QB, St. John's (Shrewsbury) - Completed 10 of 17 passes for 267 yards and two scores in the Pioneers' 21-7 win over Wachusett.
Sacoy Malone, Sr. RB, Springfield Central - Ran for 168 yards and a score in a 41-12 win over Chicopee.
Marcus Odiah, Jr. RB, Burlington - Ran for 213 yards and four scores on 19 carries in a 34-26 win over Woburn. Through four games, the 3-1 Red Devils are averaging 39 points per game.
Bartley Regan, Sr. QB, BC High - Showed poise and promise in the Eagles' 35-19 loss to St. Peter's Prep (N.J.), completing 13 of 24 passes for 204 yards and two scores.
Charles Ruffin, Sr. RB, King Philip - Carried 21 times for 158 yards, and totaled three scores, in a 27-26 loss to Mansfield.

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