Boston High School: Tom Saponaro

Recap: Acton-Boxborough 43, Waltham 8

October, 26, 2013
WALTHAM, Mass. -- The primary intangible, that has become Waltham's staple throughout the season, failed to appear when it needed to most.

With a head-turning figured of just 4.8 points allowed per game, it was the Hawks' defense that put them the unique position to win their first Dual County League Large title. But it was not meant to be.

Acton-Boxborough's triple-threat Wing-T backfield blasted through Waltham with considerable ease Friday. The Colonials scored 27 unanswered points en route to a 43-8 shellacking at John L. Leary Field.

For A-B, it is the first DCL title won in five years and 21st overall.

"It's been a while, so I'm happy for the kids," said 28-year Colonials coach Bill Maver, his team improving to 6-1 and 4-0 in the DCL. "We have three good backs who block for each other just as well as they run the ball. I can't say enough about our guys up front. They really played well tonight. Our kids came to play tonight."

The Colonials offense shaked, rattled and rolled the Hawks (4-2, 3-1) throughout the chilly evening. The offense proved dominant, finishing with 517 yards, including 327 during the first half.

With A-B holding a 16-8 lead early in the second quarter, the Colonials took their game to another level soon after. After a J.T. Kelly 95-yard kickoff return was called back due to a holding penalty, the Colonials simply shrugged it off and started their drive in the shadow of their own goal post. A-B didn't stay there long once senior running back Tom Saponaro busted downfield for a 90-yard jaunt padding the Colonials advantage to 22-8.

Soponaro finished with 116 yards on eight carries.

However he wasn't A-B's leading ball carrier. That distinction belonged to William Tejeda. The senior rushed 15 times, gaining 157 yards with three touchdowns. Tejeda was virtually unstoppable breaking free on touchdown runs of 22, 3 and 80 yards, respectively.

"Our line had a great game today," Tejeda said. "The holes were there and I just hit them. During the first quarter we were winning the line of scrimmage battle against them. There was a lot of hype about their defense coming in but I don't think they had seen the Wing-T all year so it's a big difference and I think that is what got them."

A-B took an 8-0 lead on its second possession. A Tejeda 22-yard run into the end zone on fourth down followed by his conversion rush seemed to set the tone for the rest of the night. With Waltham's offense stubbing its toe with some ill-advised penalties to snuff out drives, the Colonials managed to go on top by 16 points early in the second quarter. Marching 63 yards, Tejeda closed the deal with a 3-yard sprint around right end followed by quarterback Hunter Arnold's conversion dive over the goal line.

The Hawks did make a mild run in this one. Following A-B's second score, Waltham senior quarterback Dana Parello (6-of-19, 133 yards) engineered a 54-yard drive capped off by a 23-yard scoring pass to Brendan Bonadio. Any momentum gained following the score quickly evaporated into thin air following Saponaro's sprint with just under five minutes remaining before halftime.

"Tejeda is a track guy who is pretty fast and runs hard," said Maver. "Saponaro is just a great football player. But overall this was a team effort throughout."

The Hawks didn't help their cause after Parello was picked off by Arnold at the A-B 26. The Colonials wasted little time turning that miscue into points.

On its fourth play of the drive, Tejeda broke loose for an 80-yard touchdown giving A-B an comfortable 28-8 halftime lead. The Colonials got the ball to open the second half and would add to their total. Two Arnold (6-of-7, 122 yards) completions sandwiched around some strong running by Tejeda, Saponaro and junior Gabe Cormier (48 yards on 13 attempts) set up Arnold's 1-yard plunge to make it 36-8 with just 3 minutes gone in the third.

While Waltham's offense (215 yards) continued to remain stuck in neutral, the Colonials' second unit came in and found a way to add more salt to the wound. A Kelly 3-yard carry across the goal line midway through the fourth completed A-B's 35-point margin of victory.

Now in their sixth year as a DCL member after leaving the Greater Boston League, the Hawks blew an opportunity to secure their first league crown.

However, like the Colonials, Waltham has already secured a postseason berth.

Now it is just a matter of getting the ugly taste of this defeat out of their mouths.

"This is certainly not the way we wanted to perform in a big game like this," third-year Hawks coach John Bourque said. "We made some bad penalties and turnovers and that can't happen in a game like this.

“Next week is a fresh start so we look forward to that and getting better. This is a little medicine for us. We'll take our licks and make a decision as to what we do as a team. We'll figure it out and fix it and move forward."

ESPN Boston Week 9 football picks

November, 2, 2012
The Skinny: Although the Colonials enter this rivalry game after a letdown against Waltham last week, these teams always have a say in the determination of the Dual County League crown. The Warriors have worked toward reclaiming the division title with help from a talented cast of seniors who have two-way success with the football and the lacrosse teams, including Chris Giorgio, Henry Guild and John Sexton. A-B’s wing-T attack is led by a pair of promising juniors in William Tejada (14 TDs) and Tom Saponaro.

Scott Barboza: Bill Maver has the building blocks for a strong group next year, but this senior group from L-S has been primed to make their run during the last two years. The seal the deal for the division, but it’s a rivalry game, so throw the records out. L-S, 20-14.

Brendan Hall: The Warriors take the inside track to their third consecutive postseason berth, but because it’s A-B they do it in knock-down, drag-out fashion. L-S, 17-10.

The Skinny: Both teams sport a perfect South Coast Conference record entering Friday’s tête-à-tête and their only loss came against a common non-league opponent in Somerset-Berkley. Since their opening day loss, the Falcons have run off six straight wins, including a 5-0 record in the SCC. D-R’s ground attack is keyed by 6-foot-7 tackle Chuddy Nwachukwu, but the Falcons have also seen dividends in the passing game behind sophomore quarterback Nathan Kowalski. The Vikings, also undefeated in the SCC, have big-play ability with the electrifying Darien Fernandez in the backfield. Yet, Wareham has also brought the lumber on defense, surrendering just 26 points through five league games.

Barboza: In big SCC games, it’s hard to pick against a Dave Driscoll-led team. D-R, 16-14.

Hall: As usual, our loyal correspondent Corey comes up with some innovative names, this one “The Fernandez Express”. As long as Darien’s legs keep churning, the Vikings will stay ahead. Wareham, 17-13.

The Skinny: The Red Devils can sew up the Middlesex League Freedom division title with a win over the upstart Spartans. Stoneham saw its undefeated record blemish last week in a 42-28 loss to Wakefield, but the Spartans are capable of throwing a monkey wrench into the race behind Aaron Louis and Darius McPherson. Meanwhile, Burlington’s backfield tandem of Anthony Cruz and Marcus O’Diah has few equals in Eastern Mass.

Barboza: Cinderella’s ball comes to a halt. Burlington, 33-24.

Hall: Stoneham appears to have a quality foundation for the long haul, but in the short term this Burlington rushing attack will be too much for the Spartans to handle. Burlington, 28-14.

The Skinny: The defending ISL champs put their undefeated record on the line in a road game. Gov’s 40-6 win over Brooks last week kept its point-per-game average above 41 points a game as Tate Jozokos and Eli Morrissey continue their assault on opposing defenses. Mustangs junior running back Drew Jacobs continued his breakout season with four touchdowns last week in a throttling of Belmont Hill.

Barboza: Opposing teams better hope they have Jacoby Jones or Ellis Hobbs returning kicks for them because it’s a 108 yards or bust with Justin Yoon kicking off. Still, Gov’s offense takes over. Governor’s, 31-24.

Hall: The Governators haven’t lost a game since Jim O’Leary took over in 2011. How crazy is that? Governor’s, 30-20.

The Skinny: Wayland looks for the inside track in the Dual County League’s Small division, entering the game with one of the league’s stingiest defenses (10.6 points allowed), and two versatile targets in senior wideout Mark Bonner and junior tailback Robert Williams. C-C, the defending league and Super Bowl champs, lost Tim Badgley in the preseason, but running backs Evan Boynton and Shayne McCloskey have picked up the slack.

Barboza: Yeah, I went with the Patriots winning a long time ago, in fact before we learned Badgley would be out for the year. It’s political season, so consider me a swing voter here. Wayland, 14-7.

Hall: I have the feeling this game is going to be possession-based. In that case, give me the better defense. Wayland, 10-6.

(The Skinny: Lowell has been on an offensive tear the last four games, going 3-1 and averaging 43 points per game over that span. Cam Latta has spearheaded the surge, but can he outduel Andover’s C.J. Scarpa? The 5-foot-8 senior hasn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 6, meanwhile the Golden Warriors are averaging over 370 yards of offense a game.

Barboza: Calculators ready? Andover, 46-38.

Hall: Remember the 88-80, eight-overtime game between these two in 2010? Let’s do the honorable thing here and move the venue to the Tsongas Center. Andover, 45-40.

The Skinny: Auburn, one of the state’s stingiest defenses (5.1 points per game), holds first place in the SWCL A division, and can put a vice grip on it with a win over the Rams. Offensively, the Rockets have rode one of the state’s biggest lines to bull their way to over 2,000 yards rushing and over 2,700 yards of total offense, led by quarterback Drew Goodrich and Tyler Desjardins. But Northbridge quarterback Matt Phelan (1,344 passing yards, 11 TD; 673 rushing yards, 19 TD) will be one of the more slippery athletes the Rockets will have seen all season long. Can they contain him?

Barboza: Again, more than the score, I’m wondering what the line would be set at on these occurrences: how many times the Rockets venture to pass versus the Rams keeping it on the ground. Think it’s a push, but … Auburn, 31-27.

Hall: Classic clash of philosophies here: Jeff Cormier’s power running scheme versus Northbridge guru Ken LaChapelle and his pioneering run-and-shoot. Give me the team with the better line, in a physical battle. Auburn, 20-13.

BC HIGH (3-4) AT XAVERIAN (2-6) (
The Skinny: What would you have said if we told you back in August these two teams would be meeting in November with a combined 10 losses? But that’s what we have here, as the two Catholic Conference foes will fight to stay alive in a conference that St. John’s Prep is favored to take a hold of. If linebacker Luke Catarius is a go for BC High, that should provide an interesting matchup for Xaverian and its talented skill corps of Austin DeCarr, D.J. Pagliuca and Hunter Taute. The key matchup will be in the interior, where two close friends and Division 1 commits will square off – Xaverian defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (Michigan) versus BC High guard Jack McDonald (Virginia).

Barboza: Going with my preseason Catholic Conference pick in this one for whatever that’s worth – though it’s still probably worth more than Facebook stock. BC High, 21-17.

Hall: Give both teams credit here, they’re still fighting hard. But at this point, the Eagles have a little bit more momentum. BC High, 21-10.

The Skinny: Once again, these teams engage in a winner-takes-all battle for the Old Colony League crown in this week’s Game of the Week. Some elements to watch entering this one will be to see how the Red Raiders secondary is able to shake off a lackluster performance last week against Billerica. Similarly, B-R had its troubles with La Salle Academy and its spread attack a couple weeks back, so we’ll see how the Trojans’ secondary is able to deal with Barnstable quick and nimble wideouts. Let’s not overlook the running backs in this one, however. Hayden Murphy figured prominently into last year’s win by Barnstable in this game and Trojans sophomore sensation Brandon Gallagher (12 TDs) will be one to watch for years to come.

Barboza: Because it’s what Dan Buron wants us to do anyway, and for the fact I think the Red Raiders repeat. Barnstable, 30-24.

Hall: Any time you have an NFL veteran coaching the secondary, you have to think things will shore up after a bad week. Barnstable, 35-28.