Boston High School: West Bridgewater

Five on the Rise from Turkey Day

November, 23, 2012
11/23/12
7:56
PM ET
Presenting to you five, players, groups, teams and scenes on the rise heading from Turkey Day into the postseason.

5. STIFLING DEFENSES
Perhaps no team impressed more on the defensive side of the ball than St. John’s Prep, which authoritatively stamped its postseason pass book with a 9-0 shutout against Xaverian. Of course, the Hawks were equally up to the task with a huge day from its four-man line of Joe Gaziano, Ray Gobbi, Mo Hurst, and Elijah Jolly.

Yet, the Eagles were also able to control the line of scrimmage coming off their blocks. Chris Newton, a lunch pail linebacker turned defensive tackle, might have had the game of his life with two sacks, including a strip-sack. Feeding off the double-teams generated by fellow tackle Corey Jean-Jacques, the duo were able to create an interior pass rush, and help bottle up the Hawks’ physical backfield of Hurst and Hunter Taute.

Still, the performance of the day belonged to the Newton North secondary. The Tigers terrorized Brookline for six interceptions in the 116th annual meeting between the Bay State Conference rivals. Newton North also returned two of the picks to the house, a difference-maker in a 21-0 defensive maelstrom. Junior defensive back Jack Boucher led the charge with three interceptions, including a pick-six.

4. THE BERLUTI HOUSEHOLD
In lifting Westwood to a 42-14 win over perennial Tri-Valley League Large favorite Holliston, the Wolverines punched a card to their first postseason date since their Super Bowl season of 2004.

Leading Westwood’s aerial attack was Alex Berluti. The senior completed 14 of 17 attempts for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Naturally, his top target was brother Bo Berluti. Bo finished the game with five catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.

"It’s nice throwing to him," Alex Berluti told correspondent Bruce Lerch on Thursday. "It’s fun. It was memorable. I’ll have that for the rest of my life."

3. PIONEERS AFOOT
In projecting the result of the penultimate CAL/NEC Tier 3 game between Lynnfield and North Reading earlier this week on our podcast, I talked about Pioneers quarterback Mike Karavestos and his ability to change the game with his arm. Turned out I was partially right, but I underestimated Karavestos’ running ability. The tough-nosed signal-caller’s 157 yards on the ground on 19 carries set the tone for Lynnfield and his rushing touchdown truly was the difference-maker in a tightly contested 14-7 win over the Hornets, propelling Lynnfield into the playoffs.

2. AUGGIE TO MICAH … AUGGIE TO MICAH …
We all know what Austin Roberts means to Brockton and its offense. When one of the state’s toughest pound-for-pound athletes is running the Boxers’ Georgia Tech-style option game, few teams can find an answer. But in Thursday’s win over Bridgewater-Raynham, another encouraging sign for Brockton’s postseason hopes emerged. While Roberts dropped back to pass just five times against a stingy Trojans’ defense, he managed to complete four of those passes for 90 yards – all of those completions went to game MVP – and one could argue – Boxers’ MVP Micah Morel. Morel also grabbed a touchdown pass against B-R. While the ground game will continue to be the Boxers’ key to success, if Roberts and Morel can continue to dial up big plays in the passing game through the playoffs, Brockton will be that much more difficult to dissect defensively.

1. A FEELING OF THANKS
While Upper Cape Tech has plenty to be thankful for, what with securing the program’s first-ever playoff berth with a 42-18 win over Cape Cod Tech. However, if Holbrook/Avon beat West Bridgewater on Thanksgiving, the Rams would’ve had to sweat out a coin flip in a three-way tie-breaker procedure to determine who would represent the Mayflower Small in Saturday’s Super Bowl against Dorchester.

Thankfully, it didn’t come to that as West Bridgewater beat H/A, alleviating any potential agony.

As a token of thanks, we wonder if Rams coach Mike Hernon picked up anything on Black Friday as a thank you gift to the Wildcats?

Avon softball vying for numbers, D3 title

May, 26, 2012
5/26/12
1:18
AM ET


WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Avon softball head coach Karen McCarthy's first big matchup this season did not take place anywhere near a diamond.

It was not the Panthers' four Division 1 playoff opponents this season, or the nine Mayflower (Small) squads looking to steal her crown, but the May school production of the "Wizard of Oz." In a school that enrolls only 351 students, recruiting a complete program can be a yearly competition.

Take away any underclassmen squads this season and what 12-year skipper accomplished in a 10-2 defeat of host West Bridgewater (17-3) on Friday becomes even more impressive.

“We were running around the same time [as the production] so we lost a couple kids to that,” said McCarthy of the play. “I have had the same girls since seventh grade. It is the commitment and routine these girls have that has brought us here.”

Led by six strikeouts from ace Maggie Hoffman, the Panthers (18-4) had previously clinched their fourth straight Mayflower (Small) title, but added a second consecutive undefeated conference season on Friday.

Battling with a squad comprised of only one senior and four juniors, last years' Division 3 South runner-ups knocked around the Wildcats, including eight hits in a six run fifth inning.

Freshman Brittany McDonald was 2-for-4 with five RBI, while teammate junior Christine Crane ripped off a four-hit game with a run and an RBI.

“We hit about 50 tennis balls off the 'T's', bunt off a pitching machine, then we do live pitching with coach,” said McDonald.

“Six days a week and two hours a day in practice,” added McCarthy. “These girls make a very serious commitment both during and outside of
practice.”

Things had not always been as smooth for McCarthy who spent her first eight years without topping the conference. Solid starters like Hoffman or consistent slugging were not always a guarantee in what was a growing program.

“I been able to stick it through and watch this small town build its softball team,” McCarthy said. “I do not get a big head, because I have been there losing every game and looking for a pitcher to use everyday. The big difference for this team has a lot to do with the self esteem and confidence.”

A confident three-run crack over the fence by McDonald proved the difference for Avon on Friday as it entered the fourth trailing 2-0 to West Bridgewater. The Panthers continued rolling in the sixth with a short outfield blooper by McDonald for a run and a two-run hit by McDonald.

A low roller by sophomore Casey Jordan brought the score to 7-2, while a pitch into the backstop and a fielder's choice ground ball added a pair to finish the side.

Crane made the finishing touch with a bouncing outfield RBI in the seventh for a 10-2 lead.

“We had a couple of bad innings in the field and they got away from us,” West Bridgewater head coach Krissy Gerrior said. “A couple fly balls flip here and there and it is a different game.”

West Bridgewater, which scored both runs in the third, were lead by starter Mackenzie Clarke who tossed five strikeouts and brought in an RBI.

Avon has lost to Case during the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons, but will look to avenge that as they begin their quest for their their first Division 3 South title in a week.

“I really saw what I had today playing against (rival) West Bridgewater,” McCarthy said. “We played higher division programs this season to be ready for the competition of the postseason. It comes down to finishing in the end.”

Shriners Football Classic rosters announced

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
10:32
AM ET
The North-South game of the 33rd Annual Shriners Football Classic kicks off this June 17 at 7 p.m., and for the second year in a row the contest will be held at Gillette Stadium. Below are the rosters for both squads participating in the game:

NORTH
Ryan Adams, Northeast, DE
James Aloisio, Masconoment, OT
Eric Apgar, Acton-Boxborough, RB
Anthony Arcari, Tewksbury, RB
Manny Asprilla, Everett, WR
Derek Bent, Shawsheen, TE
Brian Bourque, Reading, DB
James Brao, Hamilton-Wenham, LB
Cal Carroll, Methuen, QB
Brendan Casey, Boston Latin, DT
Thomas Chub, Masconomet, OL
Mitchell Colley, Arlington, LB
Sean Connolly, Tewksbury, FS
Tyler Coppola, St. John's Prep, RB
Matt Costello, Everett, WR
Anthony Courtouis, Lowell, WR
Jeff Covitz, Reading, OL
Nate Cyr, St. John's Prep, OL
Ned Deane, Andover, LB
Ryan Delisle, St. John's Prep, TE
Jake Giovanucci, Dexter, DE
Mike Grassa, BB&N, DB
Will Guinee, Malden Catholic, OL
Mike Harper, Methuen, LB
Zach Hayes, Chelmsford, S
Justin Hood, Billerica, DE
Brian Hurley, Wilmington
Zach Ingalls, Westford, DB
George Kallas, Beverly, OT
Ben Koopman, Marblehead, C
Chris Malonis, Dracut, WR
Tyllor MacDonald, Lynn English, DB
Tom Meade, Malden Catholic, LB
Trae Musumarra, Central Catholic, LB
Zach Nardone, Bishop Fenwick, DT
Paul Nwokeji, Thayer Academy, OL
John O'Connell, Northeast, DL
Daniel Omorgie, Lynn Classical, DE
Xavier Peralta, Central Catholic, DB
Ony Ramos, Lawrence, DB
Peter Savarese, BB&N, RB
Jordan Shairs, Gloucester, RB
Matt Silva, Dracut, QB
Bradley Skeffington, Salem, DB
Zach Smerlas, Lincoln-Sudbury, DL
Brian Strachan, St. Sebastian's, WR
Dave Summiel, Shawsheen, DT
Chris Unis, Gloucester, DE
Trae Weathers, Revere, RB
Sean Whittaker, Methuen, OL
Peter Yasi, Swampscott, DE

SOUTH
Matt Allen, Pembroke, SE
Ryan Barrett, Holliston, TE
Rob Barrus, Weymouth, LB
Adam Boari, King Philip, OL
Blaise Branch, Cardinal Spellman, RB
Lance Burlingame, New Bedford, OL
Jack Carrier, Cohasset, SE
Dylan Colarusso, Weymouth, RB
Joe Colton, Xaverian, DB
Tom Condon, Whitman-Hanson, OL
David Conroy, Walpole, SE
Nate Crary, Dennis-Yarmouth, DL
Seth DeMello, Somerset, RB
Mike Devin, Bridgewater-Raynham, OL
Mike Driscoll, Rockland, FB
Connor Fraser, Abington, DL
Jake Golden, Hingham, OL
Mitchell Graziano, Silver Lake, DB
William Greene, Oliver Ames, DE
Ernest Guy, Foxborough, OL
Joseph Hak, East Bridgewater, OL
Matt Hallisey, Duxbury, SE
Brian Harrington, Rockland, DE
Jordan Henderson, Barnstable, WR
D.J. Jamieson, West Bridgewater, RB
Randall Jette, Martha's Vineyard, DB
Dan Johnson, North Attleboro, SE
Andrew Kestenbaum, Dartmouth, OL
Matt Lockwood, Seekonk, RB
Albert Louis-Jean, Brockton, SE
Denis Maguire, Duxbury, LB
Jamel Marshall, Mansfield, RB
Zach Martin, Mashpee, RB
Alec May, King Philip, TE
Sean Mayo, Holliston, QB
Paul McCarthy, North Attleboro, DB
Kyle McGuire, Mansfield, OL
Dave McSweeney, Medway, OL
Obum Obukwelu, BC High, OL
Trevon Offley, Brockton, RB
Jon Page, Bourne, RB
Tyler Park, Scituate, QB
Liam Porter, Natick, OL
Ethan Rayner, Holliston, OL
Nate Robitaille, Attleboro, DB
Andrew Siden, Natick, TE
Kevin Stanton, Cardinal Spellman, LB
Jeff Synan, Plymouth North, OL
Chris Tamasi, Xaverian, LB
Ryan Vaughn, Norwell, OL


Tags:

Football, Albert Louis-Jean, St. John's Prep, Andrew Kestenbaum, Liam Porter, Lynn English, Chelmsford, Swampscott, Gloucester, Tyllor MacDonald, Lincoln-Sudbury, Plymouth North, Manny Asprilla, Matt Costello, Central Catholic, Obum Obukwelu, Barnstable, Bridgewater-Raynham, Paul Nwokeji, Zach Smerlas, Andrew Siden, Matt Silva, Matt Hallisey, Acton-Boxborough, Eric Apgar, Chris Malonis, Lance Burlingame, Joe Colton, Chris Tamasi, Trevon Offley, Oliver Ames, Ryan Barrett, Ethan Rayner, Paul McCarthy, Dan Johnson, Trae Musumarra, Xavier Peralta, King Philip, Adam Boari, Mike Devin, Tyler Coppola, Ryan Delisle, Brian Bourque, Jeff Covitz, Zach Hayes, Jordan Henderson, Zach Ingalls, Cal Carroll, Mike Harper, Sean Whittaker, Justin Hood, Chris Unis, Jake Giovanucci, Jamel Marshall, Kyle McGuire, Malden Catholic, Will Guinee, Dennis-Yarmouth, Nate Crary, Jordan Shairs, Anthony Arcari, Sean Connolly, Cardinal Spellman, Blaise Branch, Peter Savarese, Connor Fraser, Silver Lake, Seth DeMello, Trae Weathers, Lynn Classical, Martha's Vineyard, Randall Jette, New Bedford, Rob Barrus, Dave McSweeney, St. Sebastian's, Brian Strachan, Peter Yasi, Mike Driscoll, Brian Harrington, Whitman-Hanson, Bishop Fenwick, Masconomet, Jeff Synan, East Bridgewater, Boston Latin, David Conroy, Foxborough, Hamilton-Wenham, West Bridgewater, Derek Bent, George Kallas, Tyler Park, D.J. Jamieson, James Brao, Ryan Adams, Denis Maguire, Thayer Academy, Marblehead, Ben Koopman, Wilmington, Brian Hurley, Shriners Football Classic, James Aloisio, Brendan Casey, Thomas Chub, Mitchell Colley, Anthony Courtouis, Mike Grassa, Zach Nardone, John O'Connell, Daniel Omorgie, Bradley Skeffington, Dave Summiel, Matt Allen, Jack Carrier, Tom Condon, Jake Golden, Mitchell Graziano, William Greene, Ernest Guy, Joseph Hak, North Attleboro, Matt Lockwood, Zach Martin, Kevin Stanton, Ryan Vaughn

Marrero Marvelous for Brighton in 4A playoff

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
3:34
AM ET


BRIDGEWATER, Mass. –- You know who Andrew Maestre is without seeing his number 34 in the backfield, as the Brighton High junior fullback is listed at a generous 245 pounds before even going downhill. But don't fall asleep on his fellow classmate under center calling all the signals.

Junior quarterback Jonathan Marrero collected 218 yards of total offense, along with three touchdowns with two coming on rushing plays in the pivotal second half of play as the Bengals (9-2) advance to their second straight Division 4A Super Bowl with a 36-13 win over West Bridgewater.

Marrero finished 11-16 for 142 yards through the air, and had 76 yards carving up the West Bridgewater (9-2) defense on only eight carries.

“Our defense played great and our offensive line made it happen for me all night,” said Marrero.

The defense was staked to a 20-point lead right out of the gates as Maestre, who finished with 67 yards on 17 carries, scored his two touchdowns on the first two series for the Bengals.

Brighton's first score was set up by a 41-yard kick return by Olumide Olukoga down to the Wildcats' 39-yard line. Seven plays later, Maestre punched it in from five yards out on a first-and-goal plunge.

West Bridgewater (9-2) shot themselves in the foot turning the ball over on their very first play from scrimmage to give the Bengals the ball back on the 36-yard line. Maestre was at it again -- but this time with an acrobatic leap over the pile with the ball inside the one-yard line on a third-and-goal. Maestre finished off the second drive with a two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead with only 6:11 expired from the game clock.

The Wildcats didn't have much luck on their next possession as a three-and-out gave the Bengals a third shot at the end zone before the first quarter was even finished. Despite a 55-yard punt by D.J. Jamieson that backed up Brighton to their own five-yard line, it only took seven plays to go 95 yards for the 20-0 lead. Marrero was just warming up as he went 2-for-2 on the drive for 70 yards through the air, including a 29-yard strike to the speedy senior Olukoga up the sidelines for his first of his trio of touchdowns.

The Wildcats made things interesting with an Andrew Drass 31-yard touchdown pass to Brian Cooper to the end the first half and then opened the second half with an eight-play drive finished off by Mike Toczko's nine-yard scamper to pull within seven, 20-13.

But Marrero called his own number on a designed sweep for a 17-yard score and then again on a broken play, Marrero turned back upfield for an 11-yard score for this third touchdown of the game.

"All three (Maestre, Olukoga, and Marrero) played outstanding and we wouldn't be here without them," said Brighton head coach, James Philip, who last won a Super Bowl title in 2007. "We are only part of the way there and we've been to the Super Bowl four out of the last five years so hopefully this time we win one."

Ironically, the Bengals move to Super Bowl Saturday to face Northeastern, who advanced with an impressive 42-0 win over Catholic Central Small Champs, Pope John. Brighton and Northeast faced off last year in the Division 4A title game, with the Knights prevailing 22-12 at Bentley University.

"Northeast is going to punch us and we are going to punch back - we can't wait," said Philip.

BRIGHTON 36, WEST BRIDGEWATER 13

BRIGHTON (9-2) 14 - 6 - 8 - 8 -- 36
WEST BRIDGEWATER (9-2) - 0 - 7 - 6 - 0 -- 13

BR - Andrew Maestre 5 run (run failed)
BR - Maestre 1 run (Maestre run)
BR - Olumide Olukoga 29 pass from Jonathan Marrero (run failed)
WB - Brian Cooper 31 paqss from Andrew Drass (Cole Paskell kick)
WB - Mike Toczko 9 run (kick failed)
BR - Marrero 17 run (Maestre run)
BR - Marrero 11 run (Dwight Kennedy pass from Marrero)

Northeast pitches 6th shutout to advance

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
1:17
AM ET
LOWELL, Mass. – Northeast Regional quarterback Donato Dipietrantonio called it his team’s most complete game of the season, and it would be hard to argue otherwise.

Northeast scored in every quarter and posted its sixth shutout of the season Tuesday night, when it advanced to the Division 4A Super Bowl by dominating Pope John 42-0 at Cawley Stadium.

Dipietrantonio tossed three touchdown passes, and Bobby Novello added two touchdowns on the ground in the victory. Northeast held Pope John to 109 yards of total offense (7 yards rushing).

“Don’t let the score fool you -- they’re a good football team,” Dipietrantonio said. “We came to play. We’ve had a lot of scores like that, but that was definitely our most complete performance. Great football team. Great coaching.”

Northeast even recovered three onside kicks, two of which came in the second half when Pope John was limited to two offensive possessions.

Northeast, which improved its record to 10-2, led 14-0 after one quarter, 22-0 at halftime and 36-0 entering the fourth. The loss dropped Pope John’s record to 8-3.

“I knew they were going to score points,” Pope John coach Brian Vaughan said. “Offensively, the game didn’t go as we planned. We had trouble moving the ball in the first half, and in the second half we didn’t really have the ball. We thought we were going to have to score (a lot) of points, and we didn’t score any. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Pope John also committed four turnovers, three of which were interceptions.

Northeast will face Brighton in Saturday’s 4A Super Bowl. Brighton advanced by beating West Bridgewater 36-13 Tuesday night.

Pope John gained 30 yards on 20 plays in the first half. The Tigers had minus-16 yards rushing through the first two quarters.

“We have a very big, dominating defensive line,” Northeast coach Don Heres said. “It’s all a matter of preparation and them being coachable. This team is very coachable.”

Northeast put the game out of reach in the third quarter, when Dipietrantonio tossed two TD passes to Corey Thurell. The first was a 20-yard pass with 7:29 left in the third, and the second was a 41 yard pass with 5:26 to play in the quarter.

Dipietrantonio completed 5 of 7 passes for 85 yards and was intercepted once. Mike Cross caught Dipietrantonio’s other touchdown pass, which covered nine yards. When Dipietrantonio added the two-point conversion Northeast had a 22-0 lead with 1:28 left in the first half.

Northeast passed the ball 48 times in its first 11 games.

“He doesn’t have gaudy numbers, but he can throw the ball,” Heres said. “We don’t throw the ball very often, but he runs the show. We grind it out and when they bring everyone up we try to throw it over the top. It happened a couple times tonight.”

Novello gained 126 yards on 14 carries. He’s run for 1,244 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.

Pope John quarterback Malcolm Brown-Simpson completed 14 of 25 passes for 110 yards.

“We played a better team and the scoreboard showed it,” Vaughan said.

NORTHEAST REGIONAL 42, POPE JOHN 0
PJ 0 0 0 0 -- 00
NE 14 8 14 6 -- 42


1st quarter
N – Brandon Sullivan 5 run (Mike Cross rush)
N – Bobby Novello 39 run (rush failed0

2nd quarter
N – Cross 9 pass from Donato Dipietrantonio (Dipietrantonio rush)

3rd quarter
N – Corey Thurell 20 pass from Dipietrantonio (pass failed)
N – Thurell 41 pass from Dipietrantonio (Novello rush)

4th quarter
N – Novello 16 run (rush failed)
N – Jack Murphy 39 run (rush failed)

Super Tuesday picks

November, 29, 2010
11/29/10
8:14
PM ET
We've sliced and diced all there is to offer in Tuesday's Eastern Massachusetts football action. Enjoy.

DIVISION I
Everett (10-0) VS. Andover (8-3), 7:45 p.m. at Manning Field, Lynn


Everett players to watch: QB Jonathan DiBiaso; WR Matt Costello; ATH Manny Asprilla; RB/LB Vondell Langston; DL Shaquille Taylor, WR/DB Kenny Calaj, LB Buck McCarthy

Andover players to watch: QB/RB Andrew Coke; OL/DL Conor Clancy; TE/LB Ned Deane; OL/DL Lyle Baker, RB Freddie Scribner.

The skinny: This matchup is a tale of probables and improbables. The 10-0 Crimson Tide came into the season as one of the state’s heavy favorites once again, and as usual have done nothing to refute that. Arguably the state’s most prolific passing offense, DiBiaso comes into the game with 38 touchdown passes on the season, and will likely break the 39 mark set by Swampscott’s Kyle Beatrice in 2002. He can thank two of the state’s best receivers for that, as Matt Costello (18 receiving TD) and Boston College-bound Manny Asprilla (14, three rushing TDs) have excelled in the deep and short games, respectively. The 8-3 Golden Warriors, meanwhile, have emerged from a tough MVC Large that figured to have anybody but Andover in the mix at the beginning of the season. BC-bound tight end Brian Miller (broken tibia, detached MCL) is out after going down in the first half of the 88-82 eight-overtime win over Lowell back in Week 10, but the real offensive firepower lies in Coke. As the leading scorer in Division 1 with 29 touchdowns, the junior has run for an impressive 1,756 yards and completed 72 percent of his passes.

X-factor: All the aerial fireworks are nice, but the 190-pound Langston keys the offense with his ability to pick up the blitz and plow through the middle on short-yardage situations. One of the days’ key matchups ought to be how Deane matches up with Langston, and how Langston keys Coke from his middle linebacker spot.

Barboza: Simply put, too many weapons for the Crimson Tide. Everett, 27-17.

Hall: Costello, Asprilla and Lil Dibs are all household names by now, and Tuesday will be the night everyone remembers Vondell “Nite Nite” Langston. Everett, 30-14.

New Bedford (6-4) vs. St. John's Prep (7-4), 5 p.m. at Taunton High School

New Bedford players to watch:
OL/DL Lance Burlingame; RB/DB Phito Gondre; WR/Returner Nate Lewis; OL/DL Janny Dosreis; QB Myles Medeiros.

St. John’s Prep players to watch: RB/CB Tyler Coppola; LG Nate Cyr; TE/DE Ryan Delisle; S/LB Lucas Bavaro; OL Dan Culkeen.

The skinny: It’s been an improbable road that these two teams would meet with the possibility of playing on Super Saturday at Gillette Stadium. No one saw the Whalers’ triumph and ascent to the Big Three championship coming, while the Eagles looked as though they were down and out in the Catholic Conference in an upset to BC High before they bounced back with a Thanksgiving Day win over defending EMass Division I champion Xaverian. This is truly a matchup that will be won in the trenches. The Prep’s physical offensive line led by left guard Nate Cyr has blocked in front of Tyler Coppola to the tune of 18 touchdowns and over 1,800 rushing yards. New Bedford counters with their own speedster in the backfield, Phito Gondre, who is one of the fastest sprinters in the state. Junior Myles Medeiros has been up to task at quarterback since taking over for Nate Lewis in Week 4 and has eight touchdown passes in six games.

X-factor: Whalers offensive and defensive tackle Lance Burlingame’s status for Tuesday’s game is questionable after he sustained a meniscus injury on Thanksgiving Day. Burlingame is a big, athletic body to block on the offensive line, but he could be missed more on the defensive side of the ball, helping to neutralize the Prep’s outside blocks from tight end Ryan Delisle.

Barboza: Think the Eagles have just a tad more up front and they block what they do to near perfection. St. John's Prep, 28-21.

Hall: Can’t go wrong either way. There’s an awesome backstory with both of these teams. New Bedford, 21-14.

DIVISION IA
Gloucester (11-0) at Lincoln-Sudbury (8-3), 7:45 p.m.

Gloucester players to watch: TE/DE Chris Unis; RB/LB Gilbert Brown; FB/LB Jordan Shairs; OT/DE Andrew Mizzoni; C/NT Anthony Latassa.

Lincoln-Sudbury players to watch: OT/DT Zach Smerlas; RB/DB Brian Carroll; QB Matt Cahill; RB Christopher Giorgio; OG/DL Ryan Swoyer.
The skinny: The Fishermen are no strangers to this stage, but the young Warriors might have exceeded expectations this season. Lincoln-Sudbury starts only two seniors on either side of the ball, but thrives with a host of talented underclassmen led by running back Brian Carroll. Junior quarterback Matt Cahill has come along nicely and gets good protection up front from the offensive line, which is anchored by Zach Smerlas. However, Gloucester’s team is long in the tooth, having won Super Bowls in three of the last four seasons in Division IA and IIA and are riding a streak of 24 straight victories. A healthy Gilbert Brown has proved a big boost to the Fishermen backfield, which prospered this season thanks to fullback Jordan Shairs (29 touchdowns), who carried the load during Brown’s absence.

X-factor: An intriguing matchup to watch will be Smerlas trying to contain the outside rush of Gloucester defensive end Chris Unis. The Fishermen’s senior captain has been perhaps the most dominating defensive presence in the state on a defense that has allowed a scant 11.7 points per game.

Barboza: Trust the Gloucester Fishermen. [Set to the tune of the "Gorton's" fisherman jingle.] Yeah, I went there. Gloucester, 27-13.

Hall: E-mail I received from an irate Gloucester fan: “It’s a crime a team like Gloucester is treated so poorly! On a school nite [sic] no one should be expected to travel for an hour to a field with only 1,000 seats, no room in a press box for radio or press...Gloucester should boycott the game. What a way to treat 11-0 defending champs!” Dude, relax, I’ll phone Scott Brown first thing tomorrow morning. You’re going to win anyways. Gloucester, 21-7.

Weymouth (11-0) at Bridgewater-Raynham (9-2), 7:45 p.m.

Weymouth players to watch:
RB/LB Dylan Colarusso, RB/LB Aussie Colarusso, QB Mitch Temple, WR Khary Bailey-Smith, LB Rob Barrus.

B-R players to watch: QB/QB Billy Zolga, RB/LB Nick Schlatz, OL/DL Mike Devin, RB/LB Mike Chicoine, RB/LB Steve Wentworth.

The skinny: The 11-0 Wildcats are entering the postseason for the fourth time in 10 seasons, but seeking their first postseason points since 2002 and first post-Thanksgiving win of the playoff era. They get a steady thunder-and-lightning dose from the Colarusso brothers, with the powerful senior Dylan a reliable short-yardage runner and the speedy sophomore Aussie more of an outside runner. The 5-foot-9 Temple isn’t the biggest of quarterbacks, but throws an accurate ball and has a sure target in Bailey Smith. B-R, after taking a pounding in the opening weekend from Duxbury, has hit its stride at the just the right time, and over the last half of the season has scored key wins over Xaverian (double-overtime), Barnstable (for the OCL title) and Brockton (on Thanksgiving). Devin and Chicoine blend great as run-blockers for Schlatz’s upright running style, setting up Zolga for well-executed waggle plays.

X-factor: Bailey-Smith, already known for his track and field exploits, is having a breakout junior season for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, who reportedly high-jumps 6-foot-8, has burned the secondary for a few long scores - five of his 12 touchdowns have been for 40 yards or longer, including a 72-yarder against Braintree on October 30.

Barboza: The Trojans keep riding the line anchored by Devin and Tyler Martin to Gillette. B-R, 20-16.

Hall: Two of the best coaching minds south of Boston collide here. But this is your classic Trojans squad - no superstars, just a solid, disciplined running game and physical line - and for that I just don’t know if the Wildcats have the horses up front to hang. B-R, 17-16.

DIVISION II
Dracut (8-3) vs. Reading (11-0), 7:45 p.m., Reading High School

Dracut players to watch: QB Matt Silva, WR/FS Chris Malonis, RB Kevin Bishop, OL/DL Paul Dufour, RB Keith Hamel

Reading players to watch: OL/DL Jeff Covitz, QB Brian Bourque, RB Zack Bates, RB Nick Scali, RB Anthony DeSimone.

The skinny: In what is considered one of the state’s toughest leagues top the bottom, the 8-3 Middies have to feel as though they’ve been in the playoffs since Week Three. After starting off 0-2, they exploded for 35 points per game in their Merrimack Valley schedule, going 8-1 down the stretch and topping of then-No. 6 Methuen on Thanksgiving to earn a third consecutive trip to the playoffs. Their reward? A rematch with the 11-0 Rockets, who shut them out in their 2009 playoff meeting and don’t appear to have fallen off from the momentous run. In his senior season under center after converting from wideout, Bourque (27 total touchdowns)) has been solid in directing the explosive Reading offense, which is averaging nearly 36 points per game. Meanwhile, Silva (24 passing TD, 12 rushing TD) is having another explosive season directing first-year coach Jason Houston’s read-option.

X-factor: Covitz, at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, provides more of what the Middies saw on Thanksgiving from the beefy Methuen line - that is, surgical run-blocking. The senior has proven his worth on both sides of the ball, and is one of the biggest reasons why the Rockets have scored a daunting 40 touchdowns on the ground.

Barboza: I was a big fan of Fred Cusick's Bruins telecasts as a kid and I really miss the phrase: "Bourque...Screen shot...SCORES!" Reading, 31-27.

Hall: If Jonathan DiBiaso is the machine, then Silva is the Energizer Bunny. I smell upset. Dracut, 21-20.

Walpole (10-1) vs. Mansfield (10-1), 7:45 p.m. at Weymouth High School

Walpole players to watch: RB/DB Kenny Woods; QB Troy Salvatore; WR/DB David Thibault; OL/DL Danny King; TE/LB David Conroy.

Mansfield players to watch: RB Jamel Marshall; QB George Busharis; OT/DE Anthony Todesco; OL/DL Kyle McGuire; DB Sean Otto.

The skinny: These teams are no strangers to each other having faced off in the 2008 Super Bowl, which Walpole won. During Ryan Izzo’s coming out party, Kenny Woods was just a sophomore, but the capable back who showed flashes in limited time last year broke out this year with 14 touchdowns. Quarterback Troy Salvatore has been a dual threat, equally capable of scoring with his arm or his feet. Nobody in the Hockomock was able to stop league MVP Jamel Marshall this season, but the Hornets have also exhibited the ability to throw the ball behind junior quarterback George Busharis, who enjoyed a 1,000-yard passing season. Kyle McGuire has proven to be a force on the interior defensive line for the Hornets and will be vital to stopping Woods and the running Rebels.

X-factor: Mansfield’s 6-foot-4 tight end Jeff Hill presents a big target for Busharis to hit in the red zone and it will be interesting to see how Barry Greener defends Hill. Will he move All-Conference selection David Thibault – his best player in the secondary — into the box to cover Hill, or will he choose to play bigger and emphasize containing Marshall? That matchup could decide the winner.

Barboza: Busharis has really stepped up to another level and only adds to the potency of the Hornets offense. Mansfield, 20-14.

Hall: Walpole has plenty of speed, but their size was exposed against a bigger Weymouth squad on Thanksgiving. I also think the Hornets are more battle-tested from their schedule - Aquinas Institute (N.Y.) just won a fifth straight state title, and the other four teams in the Kelly-Rex division are a combined 32-14. Mansfield, 24-10.

DIVISION IIA
North Andover (10-1) vs. Concord-Carlisle (9-2), 7:45 p.m. at Cawley Stadium, Lowell

North Andover players to watch:
QB Brandon Walsh; WR David Foote; RB Jack Murphy.
Concord-Carlisle players to watch: RB George Craan; QB Peter George; RB/LB Jabrail Coy.

The skinny: After dropping their opening day contest to nonleague rival Andover, the Scarlet Knights rattled off 10 straight wins to claim the Cape Ann Large. That accomplishment is due in no small part to quarterback Brandon Walsh, who led all of Division IIA with 23 touchdown passes this season will not throwing a single interception. The Patriots have returned to the postseason for the second time in the two-year tenure of head coach Mike Robichaud. C-C has thrived running the Wing-T with feature back George Craan and his 20 rushing touchdowns.

X-factor: C-C quarterback Peter George isn’t often asked to air it out in the Wing-T, but he’s an accurate passer and can make plays in the air as well. Craan is very tough to stop, but George can add another level to the Patriots’ advances.

Hall: Do I have that right? NO interceptions for Brandon Walsh in 10 games? Heh. Tough to ignore that. North Andover, 28-25.

Barboza: Yes, that's correct. North Andover, 16-14.

Dennis-Yarmouth (10-1) vs. Duxbury (11-0), 5 p.m., Weymouth High School

D-Y players to watch: QB/DB Matt Montalto, RB/S Dylan Hodsdon, OL/DL Nate Crary, OL/LB Victor Andrade, OL/LB Tommy Kennedy, FB/LB Joe Furness.
Duxbury players to watch: QB Matt O’Keefe, DB/QB Kane Haffey, OL/DL Brett Harasimowicz, TE/DE Don Webber, WR/DB James Burke, RB/LB Max Randall, RB/DB Reilly Naton.

The skinny: The 11-0 Green Dragons, led by a strong junior class, have breezed through the competition save a few close calls, and vaulted into ESPNBoston’s Top 10 after starting the season unranked. A two-quarterback system manned by the senior Haffey (925 yards, 10 TD) and junior O’Keefe (837, 11) has suited Duxbury well in 2010, and Webber (789 receiving yards, eight TD) has been the go-to guy, but the most impressive playmaking is on the other side of the ball. Led by Randall (103 tackles), Burke (99) and Naton (92), the Green Dragons are allowing 11 points per game and recently have come up with some gutsy stops. D-Y, meanwhile, is playing past Thanksgiving for the first time in school history, and likes to play at a fast tempo, with Montalto (31 total TD) the trigger-man. Hodsdon and Furness have provided an adequate running game, anchored at left tackle by the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Crary.

X-factor: Who else but Montalto? The 5-foot-11 junior isn’t the most fleet-footed and doesn’t have the strongest arm, but has proven accurate in the short game and is a smart runner in the option game. As Montalto goes, so do the Dolphins, and so far all but one team has yet to stop him.

Barboza: Dragons safety Reilly Naton is one of the best I've seen this year and he will be a difference-maker. Duxbury, 17-14.

Hall: One by one, the Cape Cod teams have slowly come back to Earth -- first Falmouth, then Barnstable. D-Y is far from a Cinderella story, but still you have to like the swagger this Dragons defense has been playing with lately. Duxbury, 22-21.

DIVISION III
Somerset (11-0) vs. Dighton-Rehoboth (10-1), 7:45 p.m. at Taunton High School


Somerset players to watch: RB/LB Seth DeMello; RB/DB Jaron Spear; OT/DT Ian Levesque; RB/LB Alex Estrella; QB Adam Ledoux.
Dighton-Rehoboth players to watch: FB/CB Bryan Rocha; QB/SS John Kyle Silva, HB/FS Ryan Bettencourt; FB/LB Adam Benvie.

The skinny: The teams play in each other’s backyard. The Raiders run a Double Wing; the Falcons run a Wing-T. Heck, D-R head coach Dave Driscoll is a member of Somerset’s athletic hall of fame. There are more than a couple similarities between these non-league rivals. Somerset slipped by, 13-7, in the team’s first meeting in Week 1. It was the first and last time the Raiders were held under 20 points this season. Somerset spreads the ball around in its backfield between Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear. Likewise, D-R has contributions from Ryan Bettencourt and Adam Benvie, but Byran Rocha really makes things run for the Falcons. Although he stands just 5-foot-8, Rocha is terror for defenders to tackle and broke off 24 touchdowns.

X-factor: As strange as it might sound, the Raiders haven’t played in a close game since their first encounter with D-R, so what mettle will Somerset show if their engaged in a close, one-score game as they were last time?

Barboza: The Falcons will prove worthy opponents again, but fall just short again. Somerset, 21-17.

Hall: The Raiders have been rolling all season long, capped with a 40-0 drubbing of Martha’s Vineyard in Week Five amidst the rain, and a 49-28 demolishing of Bishop Feehan in Week 10 for their first EAC title. You don’t need to look too far back into history to find Super Bowl-winning double-wing teams - See: Everett, Holy Name, Austin Prep - and beside that the Raiders won the first meeting this year. Somerset, 30-17.

Scituate (9-2) vs. Beverly (5-6), 5, Manning Field, Lynn

Scituate players to watch: RB Wes Hawkins, QB Tyler Park, WR/DB Casey Burns, WR/DB Lucas Barisano, TE/DE Tom Carr, OL/DL Jake Kelley.

Beverly players to watch: RB/DB Brendan Flaherty, QB/DB Joe Wioncek, OL/DL George Kallas, RB/DB Nick Theriault, LB Mark Giles, OL/DL Andrew Cannata,

The skinny: Who’d have thought back in October that Beverly, off to a 0-5 start, would be playing after Thanksgiving? Hey, crazier things have happened (see: New Bedford). Truth be told, Dan Bauer installed the Wing-T this season, his eighth in Beverly, and after the rough start they have bought in and yielded serious results. Riding the sophomore Flaherty (16 touchdowns), the Panthers reeled off five straight and capped a perfect 5-0 run through the NEC Small with an upset of Swampscott to take the league’s title outright and its playoff berth. Their reward, after a 22-year hiatus from the postseason, is a date with the Sailors, who have a gunslinger in Park (19 touchdown passes) and two capable targets in Burns (seven touchdown receptions) and Barisano. Both Burns and Barisano are threats in the secondary, too.

X-factor: Giles, the NEC Small Defensive Player of the Year, has been a catalyst at middle linebacker for the Panthers, who seem to be playing bend-but-don’t-break in this improbable run. Beverly allowed at least two scores in each of its five wins, but playmakers like Giles have come up late when needed most.

Barboza: The Sailors have simply been the more consistent team wire to wire in the Patirot Fisher. Scituate, 20-17.

Hall: If stopping the Wing-T was as simple as just following the guards, Flaherty wouldn’t have exploded the way he has the last six weeks. These guys are clicking, and I’m going to ride the hot hand out. Beverly, 26-21.

DIVISION IIIA
Cardinal Spellman (11-0) vs. Hamilton-Wenham (8-2), 5 p.m. at Reading High School


Cardinal Spellman players to watch: RB/DB Blaise Branch; RB/OLB Kevin Stanton; OL/DL Chris Ballard; OL/DL Phil Vargus; QB Zac Cooney.

Hamilton-Wenham players to watch: QB Dylan Keith; DL Jake Prince; RB Elliott Burr; RB Trevor Lyons.
The skinny: The Generals enjoyed a true turnaround in 2010, after finishing 2-8 last year. Leading the H-W renaissance has been quarterback Dylan Keith (7 TD passes; 2 TD rushes), along with a talented duo of runners in Elliott Burr and Trevor Lyons. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have gone as far as Blaise Branch has carried them. The 5-foot-6 running back is elusive once he hits the open field and leads Eastern Mass with 34 touchdowns, thanks to the efforts of the offensive line led by Chris Ballard and Phil Vargus.

X-factor: Although he’s not required to do so often in Ron St. George’s offense, Spellman quarterback Zac Cooney is capable of airing it out and has thrown for seven touchdowns.

Barboza: If Eastern Massachusetts high school football this year were to be played as "NBA Jam: Tournament Edition" for Sega Genesis, Branch would be the equivalent of Detlef Schrempf on FIRE all season long. Spellman, 30-21.

Hall: H-W is only averaging 14 points on offense. That doesn’t bode well for a Spellman squad that has pitched five shutouts, outscored its last three opponents 114-21, and whose feature back has 34 rushing touchdowns on the season. Spellman, 35-14.

Rockland (10-1) vs. Holliston (10-1), 7, Holliston High School

Rockland players to watch: RB/DL Mike Driscoll, WR/DB Tim Fitzgerald, RB/LB Brian Harrington, QB D.J. Austin, OL/DL Shay Morton.

Holliston players to watch: QB Sean Mayo, RB/LB Kevin Curry, RB/DB Jake Frechette, TE/DE Ryan Barrett, OL/LB Ethan Rayner, WR/DB Dan Barone, WR/DB Christian Baker, OL/DL Kevin Lamarcque.

The skinny: Aside from a hiccup on Thanksgiving to East Bridgewater, Rockland has been one of the most flawless defenses in Division 3A. Led by Driscoll in the middle, as well as Harrington and Fitzgerald, the Bulldogs are allowing just over eight points per game, and has pitched three shutouts since Week Five. The Panthers, winners of the inaugural Tri-Valley League tournament, have been on a tear in their quest for a second straight Super Bowl appearance. Often playing for only a half or three quarters, the only offensive stats that jump off the page are their scoring margin – 444-122. Mayo (1,602 passing yards, 19 TD) directs a fast-paced, no-huddle offense and has a slew of targets led by Barone (573 yards, seven TD) and Baker (381, four). Meanwhile, Curry and Frechette are both averaging more than seven yards a carry.

X-factor: For all of the offensive mettle, it’s the defense (11.1 points per game) that has shone through, and at the forefront is Curry. The TVL’s Defensive Player of the Year also leads a prolific offense on the ground (827 yards, 12 TD, 9.1 yards per carry).

Hall: If Holliston gets into a rhythm early and starts putting points up, I would watch out. Not only do the Panthers like to play fast, I’m not sure the Bulldogs have the right style to keep pace. Holliston, 28-14.

DIVISION IV
Shawsheen vs. Madison Park, 5 p.m. at Lincoln-Sudbury High School


Shawsheen players to watch: QB Ryan Woolaver; RB Andrew Dascoli; WR Bob Greenwood.
Madison Park players to watch: QB Ely Plaza; RB Chris Philyew; RB Dequell Golson; Khayree Hudson.

The skinny: The Rams have only allowed 91 points all season and more than a third of their points came in one game, a 42-32 win over Chelsea. While the defense has been stout, Ryan Woolaver led all of Division IV with nine touchdown passes, thanks to favorite target Bob Greenwood. Madison Park’s rushing attack is led by Chris Philyew, but quarterback Ely Plaza is also apt to air it out to speedy receiver Khayree Hudson.

X-factor: Andrew Dascoli had 11 touchdowns on the season and should help the Rams grind it out in a ball-control game.

Barboza: You have to love Plaza’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar specs that he sports during games, but I still like the Rams more to win. Shawsheen, 13-8.

Hall: Shawsheen hasn’t allowed a point in 15 quarters, and hasn’t allowed more than two scores since Oct. 8. Yikes. Suddenly, basketball season can’t start soon enough. Shawsheen, 21-6.

DIVISION IV-A
Pope John (8-2) vs. Northeast (9-2), 5 p.m. at Cawley Stadium, Lowell


Pope John players to watch: QB/LB Malcolm Brown-Simpson; WR/DB Malcolm Brown; RB/LB Jevon Brown-Simpson; WR/DE Marvin Gabriel; RB/DE Robert Bartolo.

Northeast players to watch: RB/DB Bobby Novello; RB/DB Mike Cross; OL/DE Ryan Adams; FB/DE Ian Bagby; TE/LB A.J. Ortiz.

The skinny: The Tigers have the most dynamic offense in Division IV-A. Malcolm Brown-Simpson has thrown for 13 touchdown passes, in addition to 600 rushing yards and six touchdowns, while Malcolm Brown has 65 catches on the season and over 1,100 receiving yards. Sounds confusing, right? Well, add this into the family dynamic that Brown-Simpson’s brother, Jevon, has also chipped in 600 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Bobby Novello has led the Knights with his 14 rushing touchdowns this season.

X-factor: Pope John has an advantage at the skill positions, but Northeast has a size advantage both physically and in ranks. Which will prevail?

Barboza: There's just too much talent on the Tiger side. Pope John, 27-20.

Hall: Malcolm Brown is a hidden gem, and I think Northeast will get a good glimpse of that. Pope John, 24-20.

Brighton (8-2) vs. West Bridgewater (9-1), 5 p.m., Bridgewater-Raynham High Schools

Brighton players to watch: RB/LB Andrew Maestre, RB Dwight Kennedy, QB Jonathan Marrero, OL/DL Patrick Jean, WR Olumide Olukoga.

West Bridgewater players to watch: RB D.J. Jamieson, QB Andrew Drass, WR Josh Ruggles, WR Cole Paskell.

The skinny: The 8-2 Bengals, led by Maestre (15 touchdowns), are playing with swagger over the last few weeks, including a high-scoring win over Burke in Week Nine. They have won three straight since getting dominated by East Boston, 58-26, back in Week Eight. West Bridgewater has a solid ground game led by Jamieson (15 touchdowns), but is also just as capable through the air with senior Andrew Drass (11 touchdown passes). Drass’ leading receiver is Josh Ruggles, who has seven touchdowns. The Wildcats also boast Division 4A’s stingiest defense, allowing 8.6 points per game.

X-factor: Drass has exploded for nine touchdown passes in the last three games, including five on Thanksgiving in a 42-26 win over Holbrook.

Hall: Defense wins championships, which is why I’m going to go with the Wildcats. West Bridgewater, 21-10.

SPONSORED HEADLINES