Boston High School: Under Armour Northeast 7v7

Northeast 7v7: Chelmsford takes East title

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
PEABODY, Mass. -- It’s not always easy to stay focused and remain competitive during the sweltering heat of summer, but that’s exactly what the Chelmsford Lions did on Saturday at Bishop Fenwick as the team captured the East Regional title of the Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 Tournament.

“Everything we do the whole offseason, from weight lifting, going to clinics to competitions like this, is about preparing us for us the real deal in the fall. It’s all about competition,” said Chelmsford head coach Bruce Rich.

The Lions rolled through pool play with a perfect 4-0 record before advancing past Billerica and Lowell, two Merrimack Valley rivals in the semifinal and final. It was sweet retribution for Chelmsford after going 1-3 last weekend in a similar tournament.

“Our kids really stepped up today. We had a tough weekend last weekend, not even making the playoffs. The kids got together and did a great job this week,” said Rich. “I’m happy with the outcome. We tell the kids, no matter what game it is, even if it’s chess, competition is competition.”

Chelmsford’s defense was in midseason form for most of the day. The Lions’ pass coverage was so stealth in the semifinal victory over Thanksgiving Day rival Billerica, that it forced the Indians three-and-out one possession without a pass even being thrown.

Chelmsford’s defense was up to the task once again in the finals when the Lions picked off three Lowell passes, including two that were run back for scores.

Michael Russo, Alex Palermo and Jackie Jillett were the defensive heroes. Senior quarterback Jack Campsmith didn’t have his best day, but he came up with several key conversions when his team needed it most.

It was an all-Merrimack Valley Conference final four as Chelmsford and Billerica squared off on one side of the field and Lowell and Haverhill did battle on the other half. It was two previews of Thanksgiving Day games, a point of pride for many around the valley.

“It’s impressive. It’s too bad because of the playoff system our league was broken up. It’s what it is. The Merrimack Valley has always been a good league,” said Rich.

Chicopee Comp surprises: Chelmsford wasn’t the only team that had a good day on Saturday. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was from the boys and girls of Chicopee Comp.

Yes, boys and girls. Senior wide receiver Emily Doiron and her teammates went 4-0 in pool play, including a 26-7 victory over Lowell, before falling to Billerica in the quarterfinals.

Spurred on by her family’s interest in the sport, she took up football at the Pop Warner level and has been playing ever since.

“This is my tenth season. I’ve been playing since Pop Warner. I had family growing up with football so I just got into it,” said Doiron. “My mom said I could play.”

Dorion said her teammates have been very welcoming, and that she’s been around many of the same boys for a decade now since pop warner.

“Growing up I had the same team so they were all brothers. It’s been the same thing at Comp. My cousin was two years older than me and all the older guys took me under their wing,” said Doiron.

“I think it’s really good for our team. It’s different, but it shows that not only males can play this game. It shows that females can too,” said captain and senior quarterback Michael Whitsett.

Doiron works primarily as a slot receiver and made several nice catches on short routes through the middle of the field on Saturday.

“That’s my go-to play. I really work on footwork and I have the mental game down,” said Doiron.

Coming off a 3-8 season, expectations for Comp weren’t too high at this event, but the Colts have capitalized on the momentum of winning their final two games of 2013 with a solid offseason.

“We’ve been working together in the weight room. We had the chemistry. We executed well today,” said Doiron.

“We wanted to come together and build some chemistry. We wanted to get some experience for the season,” added Whitsett.

The highlight of the day was the big win over Lowell, a favorite of many to win the state championship, led by star linebacker and Syracuse commit Shyheim Cullen.

“We watched Lowell the first few games and saw that they were definitely a fundamental, good team. We executed that game. We were focused and got it done,” said Doiron.

“It gives us some extra confidence. They underestimated us. We just played our game and came out with the victory,” said Whitsett.

One player that really stood out on Saturday was junior wide receiver and defensive back Cam Kagan, who starred on both sides of the ball. He made several nice breakups on long passing plays for the opposition and came down with a few real nice catches on long balls.

“He did an excellent job on both sides of the ball. He’s a well-rounded player,” said Whitsett.

Doiron and her teammates hope that Saturday’s success is just the beginning of bigger and better things to come for the Colts.

“Hopefully this is a preview of our season. We’d love to put it all together and have a great fall,” said Doiron.

“We have high expectations. We have the same team as we did last year. We have a lot more experience. All the seven-on-seven tournaments have really helped us out and will make us better,” added Whitsett.

Ramming ahead: Lynn Classical, coming off a 5-6 season and having to replace a lot of starters, might not have been a team many were expecting to have an impressive showing, but the Rams had just that. Despite a first round exit in the playoffs, Classical had many positives to take away from Saturday’s tournament.

“We lost a lot of talent last year in key positions. It’s nice to see guys making plays and doing things the right way today. We just need to fill in some gaps and we should be alright,” said Classical head coach Tim Phelps.

Eli McConney did a good job making the deep throws, and showed good composure behind the center.

“This will be his first year as a varsity quarterback starting for us. He throws a really good deep ball, but it will be interesting to see how he transitions from a passing league to when there are guys rushing at him,” said Phelps.

Wide receiver Jakeel Brown made several highlight reel catches and was a player singled out by Phelps for his solid performance on Saturday.

Despite the successful day, Phelps doesn’t want to get ahead of himself.

“As coaches and players we have to make sure to keep things in perspective. It’s a passing league. We were relatively successful. It was nice making the playoffs, but it doesn’t mean much for our season,” said Classical head coach Tim Phelps.

Northeast 7v7 New England Championship field set

July, 28, 2013
The Under Armour Northeast 7v7 New England Championship tournament is Tuesday July 30th at Bishop Fenwick HS in Peabody, MA. The action begins at 4pm with 3 hours of pool play. 12 teams will advance from pool play and begin elimination games for the title of New England Champion from 7-9pm.

The field of 24 teams come from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The field is larger this year since the North Regional was stopped due to lighting on July 20th. Any team that was still alive for the North Championship was invited to continue, and they all are coming.

Below is the field of 24 for Tuesday night. To view the brackets, CLICK HERE.

St. Paul Catholic (Conn.) - South Champion
Mansfield - South Finalist
Reading - East Champion
Chelmsford - East Finalist
Exeter (N.H.)
Lebanon (N.H.)
Winnacunnet (N.H.)
St John's Prep
Manchester Memorial (N.H.)
Lynn English
Monadnock (N.H.)
York (Maine)
Falmouth (Maine)
St Thomas Aquinas (N.H.)
Concord (N.H.)
Portsmouth (N.H.)
Greater Lawrence
Manchester West (N.H.)
Bishop Fenwick

Northeast 7v7: Reading wins second straight East title

July, 28, 2013
PEABODY, Mass. -- Many are anticipating a different dynamic in Reading this year, with different faces. But there is one constant under center: the rifling arm of rising senior Drew Belcher.

When we last saw the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Belcher, he led the Rockets to a 27-7 win over Mansfield in the MIAA Division 2 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl, brushing the final stroke in what was a dominant 2012 season to earn ESPN Boston All-State honors. With his long, powerful frame accompanying exemplary arm strength, Belcher was one of the most dangerous dual threats in Massachusetts, bulling through the inside gaps on Tebow-like power plays.

Yesterday afternoon at Bishop Fenwick High School, in the third annual Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 East Regional tournament, Belcher was breaking in some new targets, what with the graduation of deep threat Ryan Maney. For Belcher, the needle hit the groove early in the day, and rolled in clockwork fashion to the Rockets' second straight East Regional championship, beating Chelmsford 29-12 in the final.

Reading and Chelmsford both earned automatic bids to Tuesday night's New England Championship, at Bishop Fenwick. Andover won last year's New England title at Gillette Stadium by beating Reading, 19-7, in the finals.

"It feels great to win it again. I mean, it was much more important this year, because we had a lot of young guys," Belcher said. "We lost all our receivers, so we had a lot of juniors who were great today. It really helped working routes, figuring out our offense, getting all those guys in with the varsity. That was big."

Belcher found success with targets such as Will Murray and Mike Senfuma, but where he scored biggest was with receiver Rob DiLoreto.

In the semifinals against Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, the Rockets continually exploited a seam over the deep middle with vertical routes. DiLoreto continuously ran posts from the slots, splitting the safeties downfield, and Belcher went to him over and over.

Against Chelmsford in the finals, DiLoreto exposed the sidelines for big gains. On the Rockets' second offensive drive, coming after a tip-drill interception, the Rockets marched the entire 40 yards in one play, DiLoreto running a corner route to the first-down marker at the 25-yard line, side-stepping a defender and reversing direction for an easy scamper into the end zone. On the first play of the next Reading drive, Belcher hooked up with DiLoreto deep down the right sideline for first and goal at the nine; Belcher found a receiver for a touchdown on an inside slant the next play.

"After last year, we really know [each other]," Belcher said. "I can just tell him to run a seam, and I'll know if he's going to stop, I'll know if he's going to keep going, if he's going to break out. We have a lot of flexibility with that route, and we have really good chemistry on it, and it worked well today."

Two plays into the ensuing Chelmsford drive, the Rockets defense came up with another tip-drill pick, and Belcher put on the finishing touches. On the first play, the Rockets ran a post-wheel combination down the left sideline, leaving Murray wide open for the final score of the day.

Some other notes and observations from yesterday's tournament:

Fun and Gun: Lowell is a preseason favorite in the Merrimack Valley Conference, thanks to a well-oiled offense that returns many integral pieces from a season ago, when they finished 9-2.

Plain and simple, this is going to be one of the most entertaining offenses to watch, up there with Natick and St. John's of Shrewsbury. Offensive coordinator Brian Christopher draws up some funky stuff, utilizing pistol sets with spread principles as well as some zone read and an array of screens. In pool play yesterday, they put defenses in a bind with layered route combinations, including a unique “double wheel” set that had two receivers breaking off at different depths from the same path.

For an idea of what all of this looks like on film, take a look at rising senior wide receiver Jack Galvin’s Hudl highlights (take note of the packaged plays, particularly the zone read triple option).

The Red Raiders had a good showing, going 3-1 in pool play with their lone loss coming to Lynn English on the final play of the game. They lost to Arlington in overtime in the “Sweet 16” round, but not before impressing those in attendance with their deep arsenal of quality skill players.

Galvin is the biggest name of the bunch, a precise route-runner whose quick reflexes help him get great leverage on defenders and catch difficult balls in traffic. His speed is also a factor -- Galvin was one of the fastest hurdlers during indoor track season, with a 7.94 time in the 55-meter. But also take note of Musa Mansaray, a two-way player who is pretty physical at cornerback, and has recorded a time as fast as 15.5 in the 110-meter hurdles during outdoor track season. Scatback Ndeiva Mason, a waterbug who is shifty in space, will attract attention as well.

The biggest question mark for Lowell will be at quarterback, where they must replace the dynamic Cam Latta. Keep an eye on senior Brian Dolan, a baseball star who transferred from Lawrence Academy midway through last school year and has plenty of zip on his throws. Latta’s younger brother, Keegan, should have a breakthrough campaign as well.

Nothing new on Belcher recruiting: Scouts seem to be divided on how Belcher projects at the next level. He has heard from a wide variety of Division 1 FCS schools, including Delaware, Villanova and Lafayette. There has also been varying degrees of inquiry at the FBS level, including UMass and Boston College (his uncle, Bedford head coach Jack Belcher, is a former BC player). Still, Belcher has no offers to report at this time.

"A lot of them want to see senior film," Belcher said.

Asked about rumors college scouts would consider moving him to another position, such as tight end, Belcher said, "I haven't been talked to for any other position. I've been talked to only for quarterback."

Dream come true for McCaffrey: BB&N's showing at the tournament came less than 24 hours after senior wide receiver/defensive back Mike McCaffrey gave a verbal commitment to Holy Cross, a school where his last name carries some heavy weight.

Both his parents are Holy Cross alums. His father, James McCaffrey, was a basketball standout in the mid-80's, getting picked in the sixth round by the Phoenix Suns in the 1986 NBA Draft and being inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1992. Mike has been to the campus many times over the years, mostly for basketball, and has always been fond of the place.

"It was a place I always wanted to go, ever since I was a little kid," McCaffrey said. "It was just a place that I loved. I went there in the winter, and it was just a place I always wanted to go. It's got great people, great football, great academics, it just has it all."

Of his anticipated role with the Crusaders, McCaffrey says he was told by head coach Tom Gilmore he thinks he can fit at cornerback. But more importantly, McCaffrey said, "after the one-day camp in June, he [Gilmore] said I was a very, very competitive kid, and that's what they like in me."

McCaffrey has been timed as fast as 4.52 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and that speed showed well on Saturday, playing mostly split out wide and beating defenders deep. Speed runs in the McCaffrey gene; his brother, Jimmy, is a defensive back for Boston College, and at BB&N established himself as one of the most dynamic kick returners to come through Massachusetts in recent years.

During summers, when Jimmy is home, the two will often head to the FieldTurf at their hometown Winchester High School and work on a number of drills.

"He's been a real big influence in my life," Mike said.

A number of BB&N players stood out on the day in addition to McCaffrey. Quarterback Cole O'Connor timed his throws well with targets like running back Frank Williams, but on the defensive side Augie Lin was among the more impressive coverage players. In pool play against Watertown, Lin was paired against 6-foot-4 receiver T.J. Hairston, a long, lanky prospect with good agility. Giving up half a foot to Hairston, Lin played him tight in press coverage. Hairston had a great rip move to the outside against his press, and towards the end of the game came up with a tip-drill pick on defense. But most of the time, Lin got good shove off the line and jammed him inside.

Small-school stars show well: Hairston figures to be an imposing target with his slender, basketball-esque frame able to out-reach defenders on 50/50 balls. Several other small-school stars stood out as players to keep an eye on the next months.

Boston Cathedral junior wide receiver/safety Trehme Haney gave defensive backs fits all day in pool play, as the 6-foot-1, 184-poounder routinely reaching over or out-leaping double coverage for jump balls. His teammate Justice Turner, who came in third in Massachusetts in the 200-meter dash last fall, will be tough to man up.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on Bedford running back/defensive back Olan Abner, who passes the eye test with his physical maturity. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder has heard from UMass, UNH and Central Connecticut State so far, and figures to project at strong safety for the next level.

Northeast 7v7: St. Paul (Conn.) takes South title

July, 22, 2013
EASTON, Mass. -- It's been an eventful offseason in the recruiting department for St. Paul Catholic (Conn.) quarterback Logan Marchi, who saw his childhood dream come true late last month with a verbal commitment to UConn.

Winning? Not so much. Since appearing the CIAC Class MM playoffs in 2009, the Falcons have won just six games in three years. If they're to get back to their winning ways, they're going to need another big season out of Marchi, a 6-foot-1 gunslinger with plenty of zip out of his unorthodox three-quarter arm slot.

Could today's events at Oliver Ames High, site of the Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 South Regional Tournament, be the start? Marchi led the Falcons through a forest of quality competition, knocking off Massachusetts heavyweight Mansfield in the finals, 35-29, to become the first team from Connecticut to capture a regional title in tournament history.

St. Paul and Mansfield qualified for July 30's New England Championship, at Bishop Fenwick High in Peabody.

"It feels good," said Marchi, a Winsted, Conn., resident, who also played safety today on defense. "The past three seasons have been losing for us. We've been young, we've had freshmen starting on the varsity. Coming out here, seeing smiles on faces, seeing everybody happy winning is good. It's a fun experience."

After going unbeaten through a pool of Framingham, Braintree, Whitman-Hanson and Middleborough, the Falcons took out Dighton-Rehoboth and East Bridgewater to advance to the Final Four. There, St. Paul matched up with Cardinal Spellman, led by one of the Bay State's top targets in 6-foot-6 tight end Rory Donovan, before advancing to the final against Mansfield.

"For his height he runs good routes," Marchi said of Donovan, who currently holds offers from UMass and UNH. "He's fast, he's quick, he's got good feet -- I like that. I tried playing some press man on him, but he blew right by me. He's got good hands, he's a good kid. I like him."

Marchi did a good job most of the afternoon spreading the ball around to his targets -- junior Eli Parks, junior Brendan Carroll, senior Reid Morin and his brother, sophomore Austin -- and in the finals against the Hornets, Marchi impressed the crowd on hand with his throws both short and long.

Utilizing crossing patterns over the middle, Marchi threaded some lasers through the middle for quick first downs. Their most successful maneuver involved switching vertical routes deep down the right sideline; with the Mansfield safety often locked along the hash marks, that left inside slot receiver Austin Morin open for several terrific over-the-shoulder grabs at the pylons.

Marchi, pleased with the results, is optimistic about the potential momentum today's action carrying into the season.

"We're excited, we're ready to compete," he said. "We're ready to show our offense to people, we're ready to show we have a better defense, and we want to win some games."

Flair for the Dramatic: Mansfield, Sunday's runner-up, advanced to the final with a little bit of karma on its side perhaps.

The Hornets were spurred on the road to the championship game by a couple of last-ditch passing attempts. After winning an early-round game on a Hail Mary, Mansfield won its semi-final matchup with Catholic Memorial via a full-field heave from quarterback Kyle Wisnieski to Kyle Hurley with no time remaining. Hurley, who was all over the field for the Hornets, working a complement of short and intermediate routes, grabbed a hold of the tipped ball in the end zone to earn the come-from-behind victory over CM.

For Mansfield, a Division 2 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl participant in 2012, it's about carrying last season's momentum into a new campaign.

"We have a lot of juniors from last year returning this year, so it's a pretty tight family," Hurley said. "We just came in here trying to compete. We knew there were a lot of good teams coming in. We thought we could hold our own, obviously making it to the championship game and played a great team."

Sunday was a fine showcase for Mansfield's aerial attack, which figures to feature more spread looks in the upcoming season to maximize the strengths of its personnel. And, although the Hornets were without two of their top targets -- Brendan Hill (AAU basketball Nationals) and Mike Hershman (rehabbing injury) -- they still showed plenty of sting behind Brendan Keady and Hurley.

"We're able to make some connections with Kyle [Wisnieski] throwing to a couple different receivers," Hurley said. "I feel like there are things we can get out of it, we can communicate and try to make improvements -- it's July, it's early obviously. It's just great to get out here and compete."

Donovan gets his share: One of the most-anticipated individual matchups of the day went down early in the afternoon in Pool G, where Springfield Central's Ju'uan Williams manned up the 6-foot-6 Donovan in a battle between two players who could potentially see themselves on ESPN Boston's Preseason All-State Team next month.

The 5-foot-8 Williams, who currently holds an offer from Division 2 American International College, gave up 10 inches and nearly 25 pounds to Donovan. He mostly played eight to 10 yards off the line of scrimmage against Donovan, but he showed off his athleticism early, crashing to the pylon on a fade and out-leaping Donovan to break up a would-be touchdown. On plays that Williams marked Donovan, the tight end was targeted three times, with two catches and a score.

"He's a good player and he's really aggressive. He's physical," Donovan said of Williams. "He's fast, he's quick, he knows what he's doing ou there, absolutely. He's not a scrub."

In addition to UMass and UNH offers, Donovan has also heard from Temple, James Madison, Towson, UConn and Maryland.

Albany offers Cody Williams: Central's biggest star, quarterback Cody Williams, was not available for today's tournament. He was on a visit to the University of Albany, where he received his third scholarship offer from the Division 1 FCS ranks to go along with Monmouth (N.J.) and Central Connecticut State.

With Cody out, two of his cousins -- sophomore Aaron, and the aforementioned Ju'uan -- saw time under center. Ju'uan filled in for Cody in two games last season, and was quite impressive, most significantly throwing for two touchdowns and running in the game-winning score in a highly-anticipated October showdown with rival Longmeadow. Today Ju'uan aired it out, with two deep completions down the right sideline to senior Malik Johnson.

Blitz for Bletzer: One of the most intriguing commitments of Steve Addazio's historic first recruiting class at Boston College is Catholic Memorial athlete Kevin Bletzer, who saw time at nearly every position in the back seven last year as one of the team's leading tacklers. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, the Medfield resident will likely fit at outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Don Brown's scheme, which prioritizes speed and versatility. Bletzer also captains the Knights' hockey and lacrosse teams, which are traditionally among the state's best.

And in turn, it's likely that Bletzer will stay closer to the line of scrimmage on defense this year for the Knights.

"I've kinda always loved to play linebacker," Bletzer said. "They had me at safety the last three years, but they put me up in the box, so I've had a little taste for linebacker in my past years. The only difference is, I'm going to be stuck there [now], and have to deal with a lot more lineman. But I look forward to it."

Ball Hawks: Remember earlier this month, when we mused that suggestions of Barnstable's demise, after graduating one of its best senior classes in school history, may have been exaggerated?

Look, there's a reason the Red Raiders dropped futile Durfee from their schedule and added Catholic Conference juggernauts BC High and Xaverian, one year after spending seven weeks as the state's No. 1 team and taking Everett to the brink in the Division 1A Super Bowl. Under head coach Chris Whidden, Barnstable has been among the state's best in pass coverage -- and we saw that again today.

The Raiders didn't survive pool play, going 2-2 in a pool that included Nauset and BB&N, but suffice to say their safety play was among the day's most impressive performances. In the final two games, senior Derek Estes came up with seven interceptions, including four against Silver Lake. In the Silver Lake battle, senior Micah Gregory made one of the day's most impressive athletic plays, breaking on a ball at the opposite sideline from the far hash marks and making a one-handed snatch of a would-be first down.

Walloping Whalers: Nantucket might have been the only team in the country last season with bookend tackles tipping the scales at 180 pounds, but a Division 1-bound tight end measuring 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds (ESPN Boston All-Stater Terrel Correia). But it looks like the Whalers will have some more meat in the trenches this fall.

Juniors Mykal Ludford (6-4, 305) and Matt Correia (6-3, 250, younger brother of Terrel) were out running routes today with the Whalers' skill, and a third lineman Taylor Gulley (6-3, 275) should give them further bulk. That should help out senior linebacker Jon Holdgate, who is expected to shoulder a big load.

Northeast 7v7: North Regional cut short, but stars impress

July, 21, 2013
EXETER, N.H. -- The first of four Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 football tournaments commenced this morning with the North Regional, at Exeter (N.H.) High, where over three dozen squads from high schools in New Hampshire, Maine and Northern Massachusetts squared off.

Due to inclement lightning, the tournament was called in the early afternoon, with one game left in pool play, and will not be re-scheduled. Instead, what was initially supposed to be a 10-team "New England Championship" on July 30, at Bishop Fenwick High, will expand to potentially as many as two dozen; any team that had a chance at advancing from their pool in today's tournament is invited to participate in the de facto title game.

Some notes and observations from pool play of the shortened tournament:

Air Javier: Lynn English is always an intriguing program to watch, because it's never short on athletes at the skill position. And if Jordan Javier's performance today is any indicator, the Bulldogs should have a lot of fun in the preseason figuring out how to optimize their personnel.

Javier transfers into English as a junior from Haverhill High, and at 6-foot-4 and 198 pounds he is an obvious matchup problem at wide receiver. In the Bulldogs' final game of pool play, Javier lined up wide for the first offensive series and made a tight grab near the sidelines.

After that first series, Javier moved to quarterback and was impressive, demonstrating a quick release, above-average arm strength and playmaking ability when flushing out of the pocket. Utilizing interlocking square-in routes at different depths, Javier made a handful of completions to senior receiver Chris Lessard for quality gains.

His most impressive throw might have been his deep ball to junior receiver Lucas Harris early on in the game. Running a deep corner route to a first down marker some 35 yards down field, Javier let it rip with a simple flick of the wrist, a high-arching floater that dropped softly into the bread basket as Harris planted and turned 45 degrees northeast, his feet coming along for the ride as he fell just over the marker.

Simply put, Javier can make the difficult look effortless. English will have an interesting time figuring out what to do with the quarterback spot -- Harris and Lessard also split time at the position last season -- and obviously it's a whole different look when the pads are on. But the Bulldogs should have fun figuring themselves out in August.

Juniors on the rise for Prep: St. John's Prep was without Maryland-bound running back Johnathan Thomas, the state's No. 1 Class of 2014 prospect, who was having minor cosmetic surgery on his right temple. He might have been missed, as the Eagles dropped their first contest and was trailing by two scores to Winnacunnet (N.H.) when play was halted.

That said, two juniors impressed for the defending Division 1 Super Bowl champs, who could potentially enter the preseason as the top-ranked team in Massachusetts. Wide receiver Owen Rocket excelled in the open field, running great routes and making tight catches in traffic.

Folks over on Spring St. are excited about the potential of tight end Jake Burt as well. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Lynnfield resident didn't see a lot of time behind All-Conference tight end Anthony Bongiorno last year, but expect him to be an integral part of the offense this season. With a powerful frame that still has some maturing to do, he is an ideal player for these 7-on-7 type tournaments, able to box out his defender in goal line situations.

Hillies have some promise: It's going to be tough for Haverhill to replace quarterback Tommy Morgan and running back Chance Brady from last year's dynamic record-setting offense, but there are some pieces in place to potentially have another good season.

The Hillies went 3-0 in their pool before play stopped, and senior Shane Finn made some good throws at quarterback. Utilizing a pistol set with trips and 2x2 formations, Finn made some quality reads and while he may need to improve his arm strength, had a few frozen ropes deep for scores.

On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Michael Kwegyir-Attah will be one of the more interesting prospects to watch in the Merrimack Valley Conference this season. Originally hailing from Ghana, last year was Attah's first year ever playing organized football. Still, his junior highlight film is impressive, filling gaps adequately in run support and squaring up well at the point of attack.

At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Attah is a tweener prospect, getting varying amounts of interest from FCS programs such as New Hampshire and Albany. He has long arms, and in pass coverage today he used them well, delivering a good punch in press coverage and staying in front of his man, though he did give up a touchdown.

Warriors roll: Winnacunnet was among the more impressive looking squads from the Granite State today. Quarterback Ing Hao Veasna, he of the heroics in last year's run to the Warriors' first state championship in 12 years, proved his mettle and is set for another terrific season.

Meanwhile, senior wideout/safety Alec Boucher, who caught a handful of nice balls against Prep, should be in for a bigger campaign this fall. Standing 6-foot-1 with a 6-foot-4 wingspan, and also a basketball star during the winter, he is another tweener prospect who is getting looks from UNH, Fordham, Assumption and Merrimack. If there's anything that speaks to his athleticism, it's this: Last spring, he picked up a third sport -- track and field -- for the first time in his life, and finished third in New Hampshire in the high jump.

Exeter (N.H.) ready to host Northeast 7v7

July, 19, 2013
Some of the best high school football talent in New England will gather at Exeter (N.H.) High School on Saturday, where the third annual Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 tournament will kick off with the North Regional.

Exeter is one of three tournament sites. The South Regional will be held Sunday at Oliver Ames High School in North Easton, and the East Regional will take place July 27 at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody. Each site will feature 40 teams.

“These 7-on-7 tournaments are really big in other parts of the country, and they're starting to grow here,” Dover (N.H.) coach Ken Osbon said. “If other teams are doing it, you have to do it or you're going to be left behind.”

The finalists from each regional and four wildcard teams will advance to the New England 7-on-7 championship, which will be held July 30 at Bishop Fenwick.

Three states -– Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire -– will be represented in Exeter. Each team is guaranteed four games in pool play, and then two teams from each pool will advance to the single-elimination portion of the event. The first games are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

St. John's Prep of Danvers and Exeter are among the teams that will compete in the North Regional. St. John's Prep, which won last year's Division I Super Bowl, has the top-ranked recruit from Massachusetts in running back Johnathan Thomas. Thomas has committed to the University of Maryland.

Exeter has defeated Pinkerton Academy of Derry in New Hampshire's last two Division I championship games. For Exeter, which runs a Straight-T offense, competing in 7-on-7 tournaments is as much about defense as it is the passing game.

“There are a lot of spread teams out there,” Exeter coach Bill Ball said. “It helps your linebackers and the secondary.”

The field also includes Methuen, which defeated The Pingree School of South Hamilton to win last year's North Regional.

Marshwood High School of South Berwick, Maine, reached the Class B championship game last season and is also entered. Former Longmeadow coach Alex Rotsko is entering his second year as Marshwood's head coach. Rotsko guided Longmeadow to 11 Super Bowl championships in 19 seasons.

“We came last year and the kids loved it,” York, Maine, coach Randy Small said. “It allows your quarterback and his receivers to work on their timing. The competition is great. Makes you better.”

Under Armour Northeast 7v7 set for this weekend

July, 17, 2013
The third annual Under Armour Northeast 7-on-7 series begins this weekend with two one-day tournaments at local high schools.

Formerly known as the Swampscott/Lynnfield 7-on-7 Shootout, the tournament is in its third year of Under Armour sponsorship and will see more than 100 teams from New England high schools compete in three tournaments.

Saturday, the North Regional tournament will be held at Exeter (N.H.) High, and is highlighted by a field that includes St. John's Prep, Longmeadow, Chelmsford, Lynn English, Haverhill, Exeter (N.H.), Winnacunnet (N.H.), Portsmouth (N.H.), Souhegan (N.H.) and Marshwood (Maine). To see the complete schedule, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, the South Regional tournament will take place at Oliver Ames High, in Easton. It's a loaded field, with Mansfield, Brockton, Springfield Central, Barnstable, Nauset, BB&N, Catholic Memorial, Cardinal Spellman, Duxbury, Putnam, Wellesley and Dennis-Yarmouth the notable teams among the 40-team field. To see that complete schedule, CLICK HERE.

The East Regional, held at Bishop Fenwick High in Peabody, will take place the following weekend on July 27.

For more information on the tournament, visit