Boston High School: Westfield

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- For the last two years, East Longmeadow running back Mike Maggipinto has been terrorizing defenses in Western Mass.

In last week's Division 2 West semifinal win over Springfield Central, the senior surpassed the 4,000-yard rushing mark for his career while running for 344 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.

ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall caught up with Maggipinto, our Player of the Week presented by New England Dairy, for this interview on Monday:

Top 5 performances:

Brendan Chipman, Jr. QB, Middleborough – Threw for 254 yards on 12 of 14 passing while scoring five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) in a 49-42 win over Dennis-Yarmouth in a Division 4 South semifinal.

Mike Maggipinto, Sr. RB, East Longmeadow – Ran for 344 yards on 26 carries in the Spartans’ 28-18 win over Springfield Central.

Gavin Mongale, Sr. RB, Masconomet – Ran for 204 yards and three touchdowns in the Chieftains’ 28-6 win over Beverly in a Division 3 North semifinal.

Cody Niedig, Sr. RB, Westfield – Ran for 294 yards while also hauling in 120 receiving yards in the Bombers’ 34-6 win over Northampton.

Dan Sullivan, Sr. QB, Lynnfield – Threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns, while running for another in the Pioneers’ 35-7 win over Swampscott.

Westfield's McLean commits to UMass

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
4:36
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Westfield High senior lefthander Kenny McLean verbally committed to UMass yesterday, he announced on his Twitter account.



McLean was efficient this spring for the Bombers, registering a 5-1 record with a 0.90 ERA, striking out 37 batters in 42 innings with a WHIP of 1.10. Westfield earned a top seed in Division 1 West, and was in contention for a berth in the inaugural MIAA Division 1A "Super Eight" Tournament.

According to MassLive.com, McLean also held an offer from Merrimack at the time of his commitment.

A-B boys' lax finishes season at No. 1

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
3:57
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After capturing the program's first state title, Acton-Boxborough finishes the season in the top spot of our statewide MIAA boys' lacrosse Top 25 poll.

The Colonials finished the regular season at No. 1 and then went on to beat Duxbury, in overtime, to secure their first title.

The full poll can be accessed HERE.

CHAMPIONS REIGN: Medfield, which captured its sixth overall championship, was the highest ranking Division 2 squad, checking in at No. 3 after dispatching rival Hingham in the title game.

Cohasset, which interrupted Dover-Sherborn's run in Division 3, also hopped into the top 10, showing at No. 8.

NEW BLOOD: Five teams that made their Top 25 debuts this season made the cut in the final poll of the year, adding to the notion that parity might have finally come to Massachusetts lacrosse.

Bridgewater-Raynham makes its highest showing at No. 12 after reaching the Division 1 South quarterfinals. Shrewsbury (No. 15) and Westfield (16) both climbed into the poll -- with the Bombers making their debut in the final rankings -- after huge upsets in Division 2, coming over St. John's and last year's state champion Longmeadow, respectively.

Wakefield (24) and Melrose (25) also held it down on the back end after making their debuts in the final weeks of the regular season.

D1 Central/West: Holy Name 6, Westfield 1

June, 12, 2014
Jun 12
12:14
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WORCESTER, Mass. -- The transcendent climb of the Holy Name softball team did not begin in the postseason. In fact, it started a week prior when the Naps defeated then-unbeaten Nashoba Regional.

That victory game Holy Name a huge lift. One it hasn't come down from since.

On Wednesday night, the Naps faced another unbeaten foe and yet again, took care of business, upending West champion Westfield, 6-1, in the Division 1 state semifinal played at Rockwood Field.

Holy Name (22-2) will square off against Bridgewater-Raynham (24-1) there on Saturday for the state title beginning at 7 p.m. The Naps have played in the state final six times and have yet to win a title.

"Nashoba was the best team and were undefeated and had a great pitcher," Naps head coach Aimee Lee said. "After beating them I think it was a high for us and I think we haven't come down from it and we're still going."

Holy Name took advantage of a few Bombers' jitters in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead. It remained that way until Westfield (23-1) got a run back in the fifth. However, perhaps a bit complacent during the middle frames, the Naps offense re-awoke in their half of the seventh to put this game out of reach.

"I kept telling our girls in the later innings that I can't want this game more than them," Lee said. "I think once Westfield scored that run it brought us back to reality and we started hitting again in the seventh."

With Bridget Mias on base following a bunt single, senior Ama Biney smashed a triple to centerfield. A Heather Drummond (3 hits) double sent Biney to the plate. That was proceeded moments later by a Kelsey Saucier's RBI single and suddenly, Holy Name's was now up by five runs.

"It gets pretty exciting when everyone starts to hit the ball and everyone starts to get up again," Drummond said. "Then hits begin to string along and the other team gets down on themselves and we just keep it going. When we were up 3-1 I didn't feel safe. I wanted us to get more hits and more runs and we were able to."

Westfield, which defeated Longmeadow in the WMass final thanks to Annalise Eak's walk-off RBI single, appeared a bit nervous to start this contest and it eventually showed. Biney opened the first inning by reaching on an error. After stealing second, Drummond brought her home with a single. After Drummond advanced to third on a Saucier ground out, Bombers catcher Kaitlyn Puza tried to pick the junior off following a Sarah McNerney pitch. Unfortunately, the ball sailed into left field and Drummond scored easily with Holy Name's second run.

After Danielle Rocheleau kept the inning going with a single, Lauren Merritt hit a fly ball to centerfield that was dropped by Jessie Pratt. With Rocheleau now standing on third base, Deanna DiPilato sent her home with a ground out.

"I think we were a little tight early on," said Westfield head coach Joe Stella. "Holy Name overall has got to be the best team we've seen this year. They have pitching, defense, speed to burn and they can hit. I thought we calmed down after the first inning. We cut it to 3-1 and were getting our bats on the ball. But in the seventh things went the other way."

Saucer, Holy Name's senior ace pitcher, gave us six hits and struck out nine. McNerney, also a senior, surrendered 10 hits.

"We are a team that wants to score first," said Saucier, who will attend WPI next year. "Usually the team that scores first is the team that carries the momentum into the further innings. Westfield is a very good team. Even if we had a 10 run lead on that team you couldn't feel safe. That's why you have to play every inning as if it is your last and that's how we approached it."

D1 WMass final: Westfield 1, Longmeadow 0

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8
8:53
PM ET
AMHERST, Mass. -- The only thing Annalise Eak knew was she got enough of the sweet spot of her bat on the pitch.

Sprinting down the first base line, head down, it wasn't until Eak had rounded the bag before she realized her teammate Karly Mestello scored the winning run from second base in the bottom of the seventh, lifting Westfield to a 1-0 victory over Longmeadow in Sunday's Western Mass. Division 1 final at UMass' Sortino Field.

With both teams relying heavily on pitching, as expected, the turned into a duel between Lancers fireballer Jill Stockley and Bombers ace Sarah McNerney. As competitive both hurlers are, neither was about to back down to the other which set the tone for the entire game.

Mustering just two hits heading into the decisive frame, Westfield was looking for anyway to score the winner run and keep this contest from going into extra frames. Mestello got things started by looping a lead off single to right that landed in-between three Lancers fielders who converged on the ball. After moving to second on a Rachel Swords sacrifice bunt, the Bombers were given the same opportunity Longmeadow had in the top half of the inning.

While the Lancers failed to capitalize on their chance, the Bombers weren't about to let theirs slip by them. On an 0-2 pitch, Eak drove a Stockley outside fastball into the right-centerfield gap. With Westfield head coach Joe Stella emphatically waving his arm from inside the third base coaches box sending Mestello home, the junior never stopped running and scored without a throw sparking a wild celebration behind home plate.

"I just went up to the plate with the mentality that I have to do this for my teammates," said Eak, a senior. "I got the pitch that I wanted and was zoning in on the one spot where I wanted it and got it. Jill put up one heck of a fight for them but we were fortunate to capitalize on the limited opportunities we had today."

The Bombers (23-0) move on to the state semifinal round where they will meet Central Mass. champ Holy Name (21-2) on Tuesday (7 p.m.) at Worcester State University's Rockwood Field.

For the Lancers (18-5), this marks the second time in as many years they have fallen by a 1-0 count in the sectional championship game. Last year they were defeated by Agawam.

"It's tough no doubt about it," Longmeadow head coach Steve Marcil said. "We know the type of team we played today. Westfield is a great team and have proved it all year. We had some chances but we came up a bit short. Our girls fought to the very end which I'm very proud of.”

Longmeadow had its prime chance in the seventh. Camryn Boutin hit a hard grounder to third that Maddy Atkocaitis made an outstanding diving stop on. But the senior had to rush her throw which sailed just enough up the first base line to allow Boutin to reach. Stockley next laid down a bunt single putting two on with nobody out. With clean-up hitter Ally Mishol now up, some thought Marcil might have her lay another bunt down. Mishol proceeded to smash a hard grounder to Atkocaitis who stepped on third to force Boutin and fired a strike across the diamond to nail Mishol by a step to complete the double play.

McNerney retired Sarah Whitney to end the inning. Atkocaitis, a senior heading to Westfield State University, was solid defensively, making seven put-outs.

"Am I going to take the bat out of my best hitters hands in a situation like that and have her bunt?," said Marcil. "I couldn't. I'm going to let her try and be the hero at that point. It just so happens Ally hit a hard ball to their best and smartest athlete and she made a heads up play where quite honestly how many kids do you think could make a play like that? Give all the credit to Maddy on that play. I'm very proud of my kids and I think we will be back again next year. I felt good about them this year and I feel good about them for next year."

Stockley, only a junior, will lead the Lancers quest for a return trip to UMass next season. Against the Bombers, the UConn commit allowed four hits and struck out six. McNerney was equally impressive, surrendering a pair of singles and fanning four. When these two teams met back in May, McNerney, a senior, came within an out from pitching a no-hitter, before settling on a one-hit 1-0 victory.

McNerney will be the first to tell you that she doesn't possess the same kind of overpowering stuff Stockley has. Instead, she relies heavily on her defense to make the plays behind her.

"Even when they had runners on base I continued to go back to what I know how to do and throw strikes," McNerney said. "We got the outs and here we are now (as Western Mass. champs). My entire defense is amazing and I am so lucky and blessed to have them all behind me. It makes you more-confident knowing you have them behind you. We are one entire team here and everyone contributes. There is not one individual carries the entire team here."

Longmeadow made an initial threat the fourth when, with two out, Stockley reached on an error and took second on a wild pitch. But McNerney left her stranded there. The Bombers' didn't get their first crack until the sixth. Kaitlyn Puza hit a two-out single and swiped second. But Stockley, like McNerney, got the final out to come away unscathed. One frame later however, Westfield would threatened again only this time they didn't walk away disappointed.

"The girls executed at the right time," Stella said. "Stockley pitched great for them and she had us buffaloed for most of the game. It was tough when you have aggressive kids coming to the plate and you've got to tell them to start shortening their swings to somehow get our bats on the ball.

“That final inning was case in point. The girls did what we asked them to do and Annalise gets the big hit for us. Annalise has a lot of power but she also has a long swing. That inning we asked her to cut her swing down and fortunately it worked out.”

D2 Central/West: Shrewsbury 7, St. John's (S) 6

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
11:41
PM ET
SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- There were plenty of moments where you thought Shrewsbury would fade away against cross-town rival St. John's, but the Colonials went on a run in the game's final 11 minutes to score the upset over the Pioneers.

After failing to score in their first meeting with St. John's, Shrewsbury shocked its long-time nemesis, 7-6, as attackman Derick Tinsley threw home a rebound goal with less than two minutes to play. The play began after Shrewsbury's All-American goalie Chris Gorman robbed St. John's All-American attackman Drew Smiley for one of his seven saves, then Colonial middie Alex Chin picked up the ground ball and began sprinting the other way. But he would be stopped by the Pioneers' All-American goalie Steven Kerr, only to see Tinsley swoop in between four St. John's defender to clean up the miss.

"This was definitely our biggest game," Tinsley said. "Biggest thing I've ever done in my life, actually. This was our championship."

But Shrewsbury still needed one final defensive stop from its star goalie. With St. John's playing a man up and 43 seconds left on the clock, Gorman came away with another big save, stoning St. John's sophomore Andrew Cox, then clearing it immediately to ice the game.

"This was the best game I've ever played in," Gorman said. "Great opponent, the most fun (game). It's the best day of my life."

Things didn't start out quite so promisingly for the Colonials though, as Smiley scored the first of his four goals just minutes into the game, followed by a score from St. John's junior Jared Ward on the Pioneers' next possession. Tinsley scored the first of his three goals to get Shrewsbury on the board, but an acrobatic goal by Smiley quickly stretched the lead back to two. Even when Shrewsbury managed to tie things up in the third, thanks to a dodging goal by Chin, Smiley reasserted himself, scoring off a pass from Cox as he cut to the cage, then the next time down on a powerful drive from the alley.

With the Colonials down two and only 12 minutes to play, Shrewsbury coach Nate Skermont knew his team still felt it could pull off the upset.

"Even when we fell behind, we just kept grinding it out," Skermont said. "Belief is a powerful word, and that's what we kept saying in the huddle. Keep believing and keep working hard."

The Colonials struck quickly, as Buduo and Tinsley each scored their second goals of the game in the period's opening two minutes. Just under three minutes later, Buduo fooled the St. John's defense with a tricky pass-fake to complete his hat trick and give Shrewsbury its first lead.

From there on out, Tinsley's put back and Gorman's last save would carry the Colonials to the Division 2 Central/West championship game against Westfield. It will be a match up few predicted, with Westfield coming off an upset of its own, defeating reigning Division 2 state champion Longmeadow on Tuesday.

That game will be played Saturday at Worcester's Foley Stadium. Faceoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Recap: No. 16 Westfield 1, No. 10 Longmeadow 0

May, 9, 2014
May 9
2:12
AM ET
WESTFIELD, Mass. -- They possess all the bells and whistles to be a champion. But for the majority of the state's population that resides on the other side of the I-495 corridor, few people outside of Western Massachusetts know little, if anything, about the Westfield High softball team.

For the Bombers? They could care less about the lack of attention. To a player, this club understands the type of talent they have forged within their little inner circle here and that is the only thing of importance. This team can hit, can pitch, can play defense and aren't afraid to swipe bases at any given time. And, oh by the way, they are a perfect 15-0 after beating one of the state's premier pitchers in Longmeadow senior Jillian Stockley on Thursday.

Westfield parlayed a pair of first-inning singles into a run and made it stand up the rest of the way, edging the Lancers, 1-0.

Senior pitcher Sarah McNerney may not have the same type of velocity Stockley possesses, but was nonetheless brilliant on this day surrendering just one hit – a two-out single in the seventh — and no walks. Longmeadow (10-4) had difficulty with McNerney's low fastball and change of speeds. Often times the Lancers hitters found themselves out on their front foot, routinely killing worms with a plethora of ground balls and the occasional infield pop up. McNerney is not a strikeout pitcher. Instead, the right-hander relies heavily on the strong defensive unit playing behind her.

"My coaches stress low pitching," said McNerney. "He doesn't care about fancy pitches or anything else. He wants to see low pitches and good location. Knowing we're probably not going get the 10 hits we normally do against [Stockley], it does get a little more pressure-packed when you are on defense. We knew we had to just keep playing our game and that's what we did today."

Stockley was equally as dominant, giving up just three hits while striking out 14 (159 for the season).

The best way to get to the UConn-bound righty is to jump on her early and put runners into scoring position to keep the pressure on. Stockley has been known to get stronger as the game progresses and Westfield was well-aware of it. In the first inning, the Bombers followed that script perfectly.

Lead-off batter Jules Sharon opened by laying down a bunt for a single. The senior wasted little time advancing to second after a steal. One out later, Maddy Atkocaitis, the top hitter in Western Mass., who entered with 31 hits, 27 RBI and a .544 batting average, lined a curve ball up the middle to plate Sharon. As a result, that would be the only offense witnessed in this pitcher's duel.

"We were nice and strong today and never letdown our intensity," said Atkocaitis, a senior who will play a couple of miles down the road next season at Westfield State University. "You can never let up on anyone. We have a good social team here and that is what makes us a team. We're one big family."

In the Westfield half of the third, there was an opportunity pad its lead. After Stockley set down the first two batters, Jessie Pratt reached on an error and proceeded to steal second and third. Atkocaitis worked Stockley for a walk and, on the play, took off for second after noticing the Lancers weren't paying any attention to her. But Stockley got herself out of the jam by fanning Kaitlyn Puza.

In the Bombers' fourth, Karly Mestello led off by lining an opposite field single to right. But the junior never got beyond first base as Stockley retired the next three batters.

Meanwhile, McNerney was cruising right along and stood on the threshold of attaining her first career no-hitter. But with two out in the seventh, Ally Mishol put an end to it by beating out an infield single. With the milestone now passed, McNerney shrugged it off and got Shaylee Geier to bounce out to end the game.

"It was a heck of a game," Westfield head coach Joe Stella said. "Stockley is just an excellent pitcher but Sarah [McNerney] really stepped it up for us out there. She's got a bunch of pitches. She tries to keep teams off-balance and she doesn't walk many. She just gets the job done.

“Obviously, we can't overlook the defense behind her. It is a team game and that's one of the things the whole team brings. We've got a little offense and a little defense and Sarah help us on the mound. I felt there was a good chance today that one run would be enough for either team. We were fortunate to get it.”

D3 state semifinal: Shrewsbury 6, Westfield 0

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
8:46
PM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- If you had told the Shrewsbury hockey team prior to Thursday night's Division 3 state semifinal against Westfield that they would hardly break a sweat and display pure dominance, no one would have believed it.

The Colonials dominated play from start to finish, rolling to a 6-0 victory over the defending state champions at MassMutual Center.

"To be honest we didn't think it was going to be a shootout like that," said senior Dave Belbin, who scored a goal and added an assist. "It was only 2-0 us going into the third period and that's the kind of game we expected. Their goalie stood on his head to keep them in it but ours did too. It's been a long journey for us but all of us have worked hard and it's starting to pay off."

Shrewsbury (20-2-1) advances to Sunday's state final against Hanover (18-7-0) at TD Garden beginning at 11. The Colonials won state crowns in 2009 and 1999.

Leading by a pair after 30 minutes, Shrewsbury left no doubt in this one scoring four times in the final frame. Sean Hallice scored at 5:11 to make it 3-0 by rushing hard toward the net, taking a clean pass from Jack Quinivan, and sending a quick wrist shot by Matt Blascak (29 saves). Less than a minute later, Trevor Shea notched his second of the evening with a rebound goal off an initial shot from Belbin.

"That team was just to much for us," said Bombers head coach C.B. Matthews, Jr., his team finishing the year at 16-6-3. "They had four lines that could come at us. We just couldn't contain them. They are one of the best team's we've played for sure. Our goalie kept us in it early but they eventually just wore us down."

Dan Quinlivan and brother Jack closed out the scoring with two more tallies coming at 10:23 and 13:29, respectively. Shrewsbury netminder William Shipman earned the shutout, stopping all 10 shots he faced.

"We wanted to start this game off really tough," said Hallace. "We wanted to keep attacking and not let go. We played well but I thought we could play better. We just shooting the puck on net. Once we got the third goal went in things started to go our way more. Now we get ready for Sunday. "

The Colonials offense set the precedent early, skating circles around the Bombers throughout the opening 15 minutes. Westfield did a lot of standing around, watching Shrewsbury controlling the action mostly inside its own zone.

Blascak was doing a superb job bailing his team out early and often as Shrewsbury peppered the senior consistently but had nothing to show for it.
With all the attempts on net in the frame (12 total), you had to figure it was just a matter of time before one found the back of the net for the Colonials. At 10:58, it did. Jack Quinlivan, standing along the left half board, wired a pass to Dave Belbin in front of the crease. The senior controlled the pass and sent a quick wrister past Blascak giving Shrewsbury a 1-0 lead.

The scenario remained the same for the Colonials in the middle period. Westfield seemed sluggish and wasn't going after the puck with the same tenacity as Shrewsbury was. In fact, on several occasions, the Bombers appeared content in waiting for the puck to come to them. The Colonials, on the other hand, weren't waiting around, often picking off Bomber passes in the lanes.

Shrewsbury extended its lead to two goals at 6:03 of the period when Trevor O'Keefe, skating into the left slot untouched, took a diagonal feed from Shea and poked it past Blascak stick side. Westfield's non-existent offense managed its first shot in the period with 2:39 remaining.

"For the last three-and-a-half months this team has been working very hard and it's all starting to pay off now," Colonials head coach Steve Turnblom said. "Once we got our legs we started moving the puck fast. That's our game. We were able to get a couple of the net and it took off from there. We've been a tough team to play against once we get a lead because of our puck possession. We don't give away the puck much."

D2 West final: Springfield Central 44, Westfield 20

November, 15, 2013
11/15/13
11:23
PM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Westfield had a slim two-week window in which to try and repair the mistakes which led to its 38-point beat down at the hands of Springfield Central back on Nov. 1.

Although that seems hardly enough time to troubleshoot against such a precision-like opponent, nevertheless, the Bombers had no choice but to learn on the fly if they had any aspirations of hanging with the Golden Eagles this time around.

After a close opening quarter in Friday night's Division 2 Western Mass. district title game, the learning process, along with everything else, plummeted into the artificial turf thereafter at Fred Berte Field. Westfield surrendered 20 unanswered points in the second quarter and the Golden Eagles never looked back, claiming a 44-20 victory.

Central (9-1, winners of 9 straight) advances to the state semifinal round on Nov. 23, versus Central Mass. champion St. John's (Shrewsbury) at Westfield State University's Alumni Field. Time of the game has been tentatively set for 2 p.m.

The winner of that contest moves on to the state final at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 7 against the Eastern Mass. winner.

To the surprise of no one, Golden Eagles quarterback Cody Williams led the offensive assault by completing 14 of 21 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns. The senior also rushed for a score, finishing with 53 yards on seven carries.

"When a team punches you in the face, it's all about how you respond to the adversity," said Williams. "Tonight that is what we did. We responded. Our goal was to score on our opening possession of the second half and once we did that it was clear sailing."

As a unit, Central finished with 458 yards offensively, while the gutty Bombers (8-2) gained 369 with 140 of those yards coming from senior fullback Ben Geschwind on 22 attempts.

The Bombers opened this game with a mixed bag of productive counter and power runs. For a while it caught the Golden Eagles defense a bit off-guard. Westfield scored on its opening two possessions – a pair of 1-yard dives by Rashawn Rivers and Geschwind had the Bombers up 14-6.

Sandwiched in between those scores was a Cody Williams 28-yard scoring strike to Tysean Williams.

Perhaps the pivotal turning point in this tilt came midway through the second quarter. Pinned deep in his own zone, Bomber quarterback Jake Toomey attempted a pitch to Rivers. But the ball sailed behind the senior back and was scooped up in the end zone by DaQuan Clemons for the touchdown. Cody Williams' ensuing conversion run tied matters at 14-apiece.

Westfield never recovered from that major body blow. With just under four minutes remaining before the half, Central got possession of the ball twice and converted both chances into scores. Cody Williams gave the Golden Eagles the lead for good with a 1-yard carry. The score was set up by his 51-yard pass to Traveis Dykes.

Moments later, after Westfield turned the ball over on downs with just 56 seconds showing, that would prove to be more than enough time for Central's quick-strike offense to move down field. The Golden Eagles did just that, driving 77 yards in just 36 seconds before Dykes hauled in a 25-yard touchdown reception to send his club into the break leading 26-14.

"We tried to prepare our team the best we could and we just kept fighting and kept playing," Golden Eagles coach Valdamar Brower said. "Cody is the type of kid who constantly wants to get better and wants to learn. He's been doing that since his freshman year. (Against St. John's) we expect the ultimate test. We just have to get ourselves ready and prepare for them."

As much as the second half proved to be a nightmare for the Bombers, things didn't get much better in the third quarter. Cody Williams passed for two more scores — 16 yards to Dykes and a 14-yarder to Luis Ortiz — to extend the Golden Eagles' advantage to 38-14.

Another Geschwind 1-yard scoring run on the final play of the quarter did little to hide the disappointment on the Bombers' faces.

That demeanor only magnified when with 5:46 left to go, Clemons recovered his second fumble and scampered 47 yards untouched into the end zone to add insult to injury.

"This is a great accomplishment for our school and our city," said Brower, whose team beat Westfield, 52-14, in the first meeting. "I'm happy for our kids. Westfield was a tough group but I'm very excited for our team."

D2 West: Westfield 49, East Longmeadow 26

November, 8, 2013
11/08/13
11:30
PM ET
WESTFIELD, Mass. -- It was the Rashaun Rivers show Friday at Westfield’s Bullens Field as the No. 2 Bombers routed third-seeded East Longmeadow in Western Mass. Division 2 Semifinal action.

Rivers scored racked up 222 yards and scored five times to power Westfield to a 49-26 win that was much more dominant than the final score indicated.

Westfield moves on to face top-seeded Springfield Central, winners over Longmeadow in the region’s other Division 2 semifinal Friday.

Rivers broke East Longmeadow’s collective back with a pair of impressive touchdown runs early in each half.

After the Spartans scored the game’s first points, Rivers scored from 60 yards out on the game’s very next play. He kept the momentum in Westfield’s corner early in the third quarter with a 63-yard run on the Bombers’ first offensive play of the half.

“Rashaun had a great game,” said Westfield head coach Bill Moore. “He had some tremendous runs and refused to go down.”

After a fumble on their first offensive possession, Westfield went on to score on its remaining seven series.

“We just played better this time around,” Moore said in regards to the team’s earlier victory over East Longmeadow. “We got better throughout the course of the week.”

Ben Geschwind added two first-half touchdowns and 41 yards on the ground while quarterback Jake Toomey ran for 94 yards.

East Longmeadow, which ends its postseason run at 6-3, was powered by Mike Maggipinto, who ran for 163 yards and a touchdown. John Bortolussi added 107 yards and a score.

EMOTIONS RUNNING HIGH
Westfield had an emotional team huddle following the victory and it’s easy to understand why.

The game was the last the team will play at home this season --- no matter how far they march in the postseason. It’s the last time a very dedicated group of seniors will play in front of the home crowd and it was also the last home game of Moore’s tenure.

“It’s been a great season,” Moore said. “I’ll look back at it when it’s all said and done and feel great about what we’ve done. Tonight, we’re going to enjoy this one.”

It was equally emotional for the group of veterans on the field.

“We worked since we were freshmen for this very night,” said linebacker Noah Swords, who recorded three sacks and gained pressure on the quarterback all night. “We had to do whatever it took to win. You don’t feel pain, you don’t feel anything. You just feel great.”

ANOTHER CHANCE
The semifinal win sets up a chance at redemption for the Westfield Bombers.

The only blemish in an otherwise terrific season came last week in a blowout loss to Central.

Fortunately for Westfield, it gets a chance to erase that blemish next week in the sectional title game.

“We were disappointed in how we played last week,” Moore said. “I think all of us are honored to have the opportunity to go play them again.”

Westfield was in it in last week’s matchup late in the first half before a big stop on fourth-and-goal swung the momentum.

“The bottom line for us is that we just have to play better,” Moore said.

D2 West: Central 35, Longmeadow 12

November, 8, 2013
11/08/13
11:20
PM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The transformation of Springfield Central football began a year ago, after the Golden Eagles defeated super power Longmeadow twice — once during the regular season and later in the Division 1 Western Mass. Super Bowl.

The Lancers' gridiron stranglehold, not only in Western Mass., but statewide has dwindled some.

On Friday, Longmeadow was looking to regain some of that magic of yesteryear, when they were winning Super Bowls at random (20 appearances since 1984 and 13 titles), against the Golden Eagles in the semifinal round of the Division 2 Western Mass. playoffs at Fred Berte Field.

But as Central proved once again, it’s simply more talented, much faster and overall, just plain better than its AA Conference rival. The Golden Eagles secured a big lead early and went on to post a 35-12 victory.

Central (8-1) will host Westfield next Friday (7 p.m.) in the final. The Bombers crushed East Longmeadow in the other semifinal, 49-26. The Golden Eagles drubbed Westfield a week ago, 52-14.

The Golden Eagles out-gained the Lancers 371 yards to 197, with most of it coming on the ground.

"Longmeadow is a well-coached team and their kids play hard," Central coach Valdamar Brower said. "Tonight, our offensive line played their tails off I thought. Our receivers on the edge did a great job blocking. Tonight, we took what was there. It was nothing fancy. It's all about moving the chains and finish drives."

Central found the end zone three times in the opening half to race out to a 21-0 lead.

Senior Cody Williams, arguably the best duel-threat quarterback in the state, put the Golden Eagles on the board midway through the first quarter with a 1-yard dive over the goal line to cap a 54-yard drive. Following a Lancer punt, Central took over on its own 14. A 38-yard pass and catch from Cody Williams to Ju'an Williams would lead to another Cody Williams dive over the pylon from two yards away with 8:17 to go before the half, putting Central up by 14.

Longmeadow's offense did little to help the cause on its next possession. A fumble by junior running back Keegan Barry was scooped up by Central's Tyreque Estrada-Crapps at the Lancer 35. Sticking primarily with the running attack, Troy Morrow finished the eight-play drive with a 2-yard plunge into the end zone to make it a 21-point game with 1:35 remaining before halftime.

"Longmeadow played us great earlier in the season (a 19-7 Central triumph)," said Cody Williams, who finished with 56 yards on 7 carries and passed for 77 yards, completing 4-of-6. "They're a tough team and time consuming team too. “We were able to get on top and keep it going from there."

Longmeadow (5-4) got on the board late in the third quarter. A ball-control drive ate up 67 yards before Barry busted through for a 26-yard scoring run.

But Central continued to flourish once the ball was back in the hands of its offense. A Ju'an Williams 18-yard catch was preceded by a Cody Williams 16-yard scamper. DaQuan Clemons, a senior back, finished things off with an 11-yard run into the end zone to up the Golden Eagles lead to 28-6 with just 12 seconds showing in the quarter.

Give the Lancers credit. They could've easily rolled over, but that isn't their style.

On the ensuing possession, behind the running of Barry and senior Max Chipouras (104 yards on 22 attempts), Longmeadow moved down field to set up a Chipouras 23-yard carry across the goal line, cutting the deficit to 28-12 with 8:10 left.

But thoughts of a comeback were soon diminished after Morrow (12 carries, 106 yards) blasted through the Lancers defense for 41 yards with under three minutes left to seal the deal.

"We made some mistakes in the first half that hurt us," Longmeadow second-year coach Nick St. George said. "We lack some intensity. But I thought we bounced back in the second half and played hard. We just couldn't climb out of the hole we created in the first half."

Recap: No. 3 Central 52, No. 13 Westfield 14

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
1:57
AM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- For what was at stake, Springfield Central's 52-14 dissection of Westfield, Friday at Fred Berte Field, was taken in stride. The post-game celebration that was expected, consisted of just a few hugs and high-fives.

For the Golden Eagles, it was business as usual.

Central's triumph did accomplished two goals. The No. 3 Golden Eagles (7-1, 7-0) claimed their third consecutive AA Conference crown as well as catapulting them to the top seed in next weekend's Division 2 Western Mass. Tournament.

But this team has loftier goals in mind — that being a state championship.

Since losing its season-opener to Everett, Central has now run off seven straight victories. Judging by the way they handled the No. 13 Bombers, the Golden Eagles seemed primed to contend for a state title.

"You have to give a shout out to our scout team and coaching staff for this win tonight," Central head coach Valdamar Brower said. "We played very-disciplined. We were able to execute and our kids were very determined tonight."

Central took control of this one early, jumping out to a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter on a pair of touchdown runs (5 and 1 yard, respectively) from all-everything quarterback Cody Williams and a Ju'an Williams 13-yard reception.

Cody Williams, a Monmouth University commit, finished another brilliant evening by completing 9-of-12 passes for 133 yards. The senior also rushed for 107 yards on 15 carries.

Westfield (7-1, 6-1) was presumed to be Central's toughest opponent outside of Everett. For a brief period, the Bombers lived up to that billing after quarterback Jake Toomey (4-of-13, 20 yards, 37 rushing yards) scored on an 8-yard run to cut the deficit to 20-7.

Moments later, Westfield was driving again. The Bombers marched 64 yards before facing a fourth-and-goal at the Golden Eagles' 1-yard line. It was a no-brainer that Westfield would give the ball to bulldozing fullback Ben Geschwind.

As planned, it did, but Central's defensive front stopped the senior short of the goal line thus turning the ball over to the Golden Eagles. Geschwind, the Bombers' season-leading ground-gainer, carried the ball 21 times for 111 yards.

Teammate Cody Neidig, a junior, contributed 103 yards on 11 carries.

"Obviously we are disappointed with the way things went tonight," said Westfield coach Bill Moore, who will retire once the postseason is over with. "There were a couple of occasions where we made it a game. We got stuffed on that goal line play which really hurt us. We were about an inch away from making it a 20-14 game. But Central is a very good team. They have great players and a great staff who all work very hard. Tonight wasn't our night but we have a good group of kids that will keep fighting."

The Golden Eagles out-gained Westfield 511 yards to 350.

After stopping Geschwind, Central, with its quick-strike, no-huddle offense, wasted little time escaping the shadow of its own goal post. A 25-yard carry from versatile running back Troy Morrow set the stage for his own 74-yard jaunt down the right sideline to make the score 27-7 with just 1:39 showing before halftime. Morrow, who was virtually unstoppable on this night, gained 209 yards on 18 attempts.

"Their linebackers shift around a lot but when they shifted the wrong way that opened up holes for us," said Morrow, a senior. "It worked out perfectly tonight. For us, this is just the start of a journey. We just have to keep focused. Overall, this team has depth which is a good thing to have at this time of the year. We just need to stay hungry and humble."

Added Brower, "Troy has been giving maximum effort since the start of the season," he said. "I was excited to see him making big plays in a big game like this. But he's been doing it all year for us."

A quick four-and-out by Westfield, on its ensuing possession, was all the Golden Eagles would need to increase their total. Getting the ball on the Bombers' 45, Cody Williams found Malik Johnson for a 13-yard reception. That was followed by a pair of Cody Williams' runs netting 16 yards. With just 12 seconds to go before the break, The signal-caller, who had ample time given to him thanks to his solid front line, connected with Traveis Dykes for a 17-yard touchdown sending the Golden Eagles into the half well in-control, leading 33-7.

Getting the ball back to begin the second half, Central marched 71 yards before DaQuon Clemons darted into the end zone from 13 yards out to push the advantage to 39-7. A Toomey to Garrett Fitzgerald 19-yard scoring pass on Westfield's next possession did little to rattle the Golden Eagles.

During the final 3:47, Central scored twice more leaving no doubt who the favorite is to come out of Western Mass. At 3:47, Williams danced around several would-be tacklers for a 42-yard score. A short time later, sophomore cornerback Tyreque Estrada-Crapps stepped in front of a Toomey pass, returning it 53 yards into the end zone to close this contest out.

ESPN Boston 1st-round playoff picks

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
6:08
PM ET
Division 1 North: No. 5 LOWELL (5-2) at No. 4 ST. JOHN’S PREP (4-3)

Scott Barboza: The Red Raiders seize the opportunity against an undermanned Eagles squad on their path to the section title. Lowell, 20-14.

Brendan Hall: Two weeks ago, I’d have told you St. John’s Prep would emerge victorious here. But that was before they lost a number of key starters on the offensive line. Feels weird predicting the preseason No. 1 in the land to go down in the first round of playoffs, but they are walking wounded headed into this matchup with one of the North’s most athletic defensive fronts. Lowell, 21-10.

Division 2 South: No. 6 KING PHILIP (5-2) at No. 3 NATICK (7-0)

Barboza: Talking with the Redhawks coaching staff earlier this week, there’s a healthy amount of respect going in for the KP defense, in particular linebacker Brett McEvoy, but something tells me the Warriors haven’t seen an offense such as this. Natick, 20-14.

Hall: Somehow, some way, even against one of the state’s top defenses, we know Troy Flutie will find a way to break them for some points. Never underestimate a Flutie with their back against the wall. The question is whether KP’s offense, stagnant in most weeks, can light up the scoreboard itself. Natick, 31-30.

Division 2 South: No. 8 WELLESLEY (4-3) at No. 1 MANSFIELD (7-0)

Barboza: John Fadule can almost single-handedly keep the Raiders in the game, but the onus is on the Raiders defense to step up to perhaps their greatest challenge yet. Mansfield, 31-27.

Hall: Sneaky good battle. Wellesley runs a wide-open spread offense that likes to turn games into track meets, a matchup that tends to favor Mansfield, which has won a few of those types of games this year. Mansfield, 28-24.

Division 2 South: No. 5 DUXBURY (5-1) at No. 4 NEEDHAM (6-1)

Barboza: This might be the most difficult game of the weekend to forecast — just going on gut instinct here. Duxbury, 10-7.

Hall: Every year we always talk about Duxbury as the prototype for athletic teams with lacrosse backgrounds. But the best lacrosse-bred star this year is in Needham, where Mike Panepinto figures to have a ball this postseason after leading the state in rushing. Needham, 30-23.

Division 1 South: No. 5 WEYMOUTH (4-3) at No. 4 BC HIGH (4-3)

Barboza: The Wildcats have to win the turnover battle if they want to hang in this one. Maybe Matt Long can pull out another one from behind his back. BC High, 17-16.

Hall: This one will be sloppy, but in the end I don’t see the Eagles defense surrendering anything more than a touchdown here. BC High, 20-7.

Division 2 Central: No. 5 SHREWSBURY (4-3) at No. 4 NASHOBA (4-3)

Barboza: For a team that had a state-best winning streak rolling earlier this season, after three-straight losses, perception has really changed for this one. Shrewsbury, 21-14.

Hall: The two teams have gone in opposite directions since Nashoba won the first matchup in Week 3, with the Chieftains losing three of their last four while Shrewsbury has won three of its last four. Shrewsbury, 17-3.

Division 4 Central: No. 6 QUABBIN (5-2) at No. 3 DOHERTY (6-1)

Barboza: With both teams able to put ‘em on the board in bunches, I like Doherty’s outside targets just a little bit more. Doherty, 34-30.

Hall: Just a hunch, lots of points will be scored in this one. The biggest enemy for either team might be the sideline markers. Anybody want to take a wager on how many “six” routes are called in this one? Doherty, 40-38.

Division 2 North: No. 7 CAMBRIDGE (3-4) at No. 2 READING (5-1)

Barboza: After the Arlington upset, the Rockets have righted ship some and still have enough horses in the stable with Liam Kenneally. Reading, 14-13.

Hall: My upset special of the week. Reading struggled against spread offenses out of the gate, and the Falcons provide a unique blend of athleticism in the spread that they aren’t accustomed to seeing. I predict a big night for Shaq Anderson. Cambridge, 28-27.

Division 2 North: No. 8 LYNN ENGLISH (2-4) at No. 1 HAVERHILL (5-2)

Barboza: There are some serious backstories to be had, but ultimately, on the field, the Hillies roll. Haverhill, 28-20.

Hall: In Jordan Javier’s return to his former school, I like the Hillies getting one up on Lynn English. There are athletic, Division 1-caliber playmakers on both sides of the ball for both squads, but Haverhill’s runs more fluid. Haverhill, 35-31.

No. 3 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (6-1) at No. 13 WESTFIELD (7-0)

Barboza: The Bombers are wont to play ball control, but the Golden Eagles come flying out of the cage. Central, 34-27.

Hall: This will be Central’s biggest test since the Week 1 loss to Everett. As always, they’ll be ready. Central, 28-20.

Last Week’s Picks:
Barboza: 8-2 (65-28 overall)
Hall: 7-3 (66-27 overall)

Roundtable: Bigger things to come for Xaverian?

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
1:59
PM ET
1. SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYED A MAJOR FACTOR IN XAVERIAN'S 49-13 DRUBBING OF BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM, RETURNING TWO BLOCKED PUNTS FOR TOUCHDOWNSW, BUT A.J. KING (2 TDs) DIDN'T HAVE A BAD DAY EITHER. IS THIS XAVERIAN SQUAD CAPABLE OF ROUTINELY PUTTING UP BIG NUMBERS?

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: If this were 2012, or any other recent year for that matter, I would lean towards labeling that game an anomaly. Xaverian squads typically aren't known for blowing up the scoreboard, instead moving the chains rather steadily behind a conservative multiple offense and relying on change-of-pace backs to grind out the tough yardage. I've been in this for 10 years, and this year's Xaverian team feels like one of the more unpredictable squads that I can recall. And when I say that, I mean you just don't know that they're going to throw at you. Certainly, Jake Farrell brings about an escapeability intangible they typically haven't had with quarterbacks, and there is some promising sophomore talent.

By the way, whoever the special teams coach is at Xaverian, give that man a raise. If you think the B-R game was an aberration, ask the BB&N coaches how their scrimmage with the Hawks went.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: I know we all thought the Hawks’ defense would be ahead of the offense entering the season, but this looks like a much-improved group thus far. I like the one-two punch Shayne Kaminski and Noah Sorrento provide in the backfield. They have some legit targets in the passing game with King and D.J. Sperzel and Jake Farrell has looked great at quarterback. If the offensive line keeps creating holes and pass protecting the way they have in the first two weeks, I don’t foresee a slowdown.

John McGuirk, ESPN Boston correspondent: With the talent Xaverian has they should continue to put up decent numbers. They have four 'big' games left on the schedule in Barnstable, Brockton, BC High and St. John's Prep. All four of those programs are outstanding but all have issues on defense as well which should work in the Hawks' favor.

2. NASHOBA OWNS THE STATE'S LONGEST ACTIVE WIN STREAK (28 GAMES), BUT TWO TOUGH OPPONENTS LAY AHEAD IN WACHUSETT AND ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY. DO YOU SEE THE CHIEFTAINS MAKING IT TO 30 STRAIGHT?

Hall: Wachusett matches up evenly on paper with Nashoba, but watch out for St. John's. Andrew Smiley is heating up (380 passing yards the last six quarters), and the running game seems to be hitting a groove with St. Louis transplant Shane Combs taking over the feature role. The "blur" offense is a whirlwind to handle when all is going right, and you always have to watch where Davon Jones lines up. I see the Pioneers stopping Nashoba's streak at 29.

Barboza: I think it’ll end at No. 29. The Chieftains will get by Wachusett, but I think the Pioneers’ athletes, particularly on the perimeter, will prove too much to handle.

McGuirk: I see Nashoba reaching 30 straight wins. Wachusett is going through a down year, having already lost to St. Peter-Marian and Fitchburg. And what has been noted many times, St. John's biggest weakness the last couple of seasons has been its porous defense and inability to make tackles consistently. If you look past those next two games, the Chieftains will face a pair of unbeatens (Marlborough and Leominster). That is where the streak could possibly come to a close.

3. BETWEEN THE SUPERB STARTS FROM BROCKTON, TAUNTON, TEWKSBURY AND WESTFIELD, THE TRIPLE OPTION IS MAKING A COMEBACK. WHICH TEAM RUNS IT BEST?

Hall: It's tough to argue against Westfield's ridiculous numbers -- there are running backs that will go a whole season not putting up as many rushing yards as the Bombers have their first two games of the season. But it's hard to argue against Brockton's talent. Aaron LeClair and Jamal Williams get to the perimeter quick, and the Boxers can steamroll you inside with counters and dives. All four of these teams have a dynamic playmaker in the backfield -- LeClair, Tewksbury's Eddie Matovu, Westfield's Ben Geschwind and Taunton's Domingo Jenkins -- but I will give Brockton the edge here because of what they have in the trenches. Aaron Monteiro, the Boxers' prized prospect at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, is a road grader at left guard with a pretty high ceiling.

Barboza: As of right now, I don’t see how you can argue with Westfield. The Bombers are running roughshod over opponents behind senior fullback Ben Geschwind. After running for 348 yards and six touchdowns as a team during last week's 49-20 win over West Springfield, Westfield has scored 109 points in two games, with Geschwind averaging more than 150 yards per game.

Josh Perry, HockomockSports.com: I can’t say whether or not Taunton runs it better than other teams in the state, but I can say that the Tigers do make it look fun. With Gerald Cortijo and Steven Harrison giving star back Domingo Jenkins some help in the backfield, the Tigers have speedy and shifty runners. It’s almost enough to make you forget just how good the ground game would have been without Jamal Williams’ move to Brockton. Taunton’s ability to run the triple option will of course get a much tougher test this week against King Philip and its strong defense, but the Tigers are unique among the other Hockomock teams and it can be fun to watch.

McGuirk: The way Westfield is dominating the competition (109 points in two games), I would say the the triple option is working best for them. They have the right personnel to execute it and coach Bill Moore is very good at putting the right players in place to keep it rolling effectively, especially his tandem of Ben Geschwind and Jake Toomey, who are both averaging over 10 yards-per-carry.

4. TWO OF THE MERRIMACK VALLEY CONFERENCE'S BEST SQUADS, CENTRAL CATHOLIC AND LOWELL, SURRENDERED A COMBINED 73 POINTS AGAINST NON-LEAGUE TOP 10 OPPONENTS LAST WEEKEND. ARE WE HEADED FOR ANOTHER SEASON OF HIGH SCORES IN THE MVC?

Hall: Tough to tell, because Tewksbury has more than pulled its weight in the defensive end so far. If there's one team that can avoid track meets, it's the Redmen. Everyone else, good luck. We anointed the MVC "Death By 1,000 Shallow Crosses" a year ago, and with the amount of spread offense and no-huddle tempo deployed in this league, we could very well be in for another season of Wild West scores.

Barboza: I'd take my chances with the defensive units of Andover, Central Catholic, Lowell and Tewksbury against just about any offense in the state, but what comes into play in the MVC is the teams' offensive style of play. With so many teams in its ranks adopting the spread offense, the big numbers put up seemingly on a weekly basis are more a function of the pace of the game, with shortened drives as opposed to rushing-oriented, ball-control styles of play. But as long as MVC teams continue to live and die by the sword (or the spread), I think we'll continue to see some lopsided numbers.

Mike Abelson, ESPN Boston correspondent: Yes and no. Central and Lowell, when the blur is working as advertised, can drop basketball scores on lesser teams because of the athletic talent. That being said, through three weeks there are only two MVC teams averaging 30 or more points. Central is one, and the other, North Andover, hasn't won a game. The only two remaining undefeated teams, Tewksbury and Methuen, are averaging 27 and 18 points a game, respectively, and winning games without all the flash and dash of putting up buckets of points. Yes, the MVC will have it's share of high-scoring contests (I'll put the over/under for Central-Chelmsford at 90.5), but it won't consistently translate to W's.

5. AFTER A ROUGH FIRST WEEK, HAS BARNSTABLE FIGURED IT OUT? CAN THEY KNOCK OFF NO. 1 XAVERIAN?

Hall: I feel like this is a sneaky good matchup. Let's not forget Barnstable was our preseason No. 12 before getting shell-shocked by Dennis-Yarmouth in the opening weekend. There is talent, between versatile athlete Hayden Murphy, shutdown corner Derek Estes and elusive scatback Justus Chafee.

Defensively, Barnstable typically likes to stretch vertically and keep everything in front of them, which can be a bad matchup against spread teams like Dennis-Yarmouth. Last week against BC High, they looked like they cleaned up a lot of their mistakes. Xaverian's offense, while a bit more creative, has some similarities to BC High's. Going the other way, the Red Raiders use some funky misdirection in the run game to prevent linebackers from filling gaps. On their first touchdown against BC, for instance, a receiver backpedaled off the line of scrimmage, feigning a bubble screen, putting several defenders on their heels as Chafee came up the gut on a zone read.

That kind of stuff can keep even the best defenses on their toes. Expect some fireworks, and some dynamic playcalling, in this one.

Barboza: This is a yes-and-no proposition to me. I think the Raiders righted ship after an embarrassing loss to Cape rival Dennis-Yarmouth in Week 1, going on the road to beat another Catholic Conference foe in BC High. But I think Barnstable would need to play a near perfect game, while forcing the Hawks into some turnovers in order to make it four straight defeats of an ESPN Boston No. 1 squad. I'm not saying it will not be a close game, I just like Xaverian a little bit more.

Perry: In a preseason roundtable, I said that Barnstable was a team that was getting overlooked because of the players that it lost from last year. I’ll stick by that and say that the Raiders give Xaverian a run for their money. The No. 1 ranking has been more of an albatross than an honor this year, so I’ll say that Barnstable has a good chance of causing the Hawks problems.

McGuirk: Barnstable is good but Xaverian is playing with a lot of confidence, especially following the huge win over B-R last week. The Hawks should take care of the Red Raiders who gave up 37 points to D-Y in Week One but did bounce back nicely last week against BC High.

Abelson: In Hayden Murphy I trust. In the ESPN Boston poll curse I believe. Barnstable, 27-21.

6. THE HOCKOMOCK LEAGUE'S KELLY-REX DIVISION MIGHT BE THE STATE'S MOST UNPREDICTABLE RACE THIS FALL. AS LEAGUE PLAY OPENS UP THIS WEEK, PROJECT YOUR CHAMPION AND DARK HORSE.

Hall: Mansfield was the prohibitive favorite in most minds heading into the season, and so far they've done little to suggest otherwise. Consider that nearly three weeks out from their shocking upset of Dunbar (Md.), the Hornets are still without five starters. They're already a dynamic offense, between quarterback Kyle Wisnieski, 6-foot-5 flex tight end Brendan Hill, and space-carving tailback Miguel Villar-Perez. Hard to go against that.

For dark horses, I like Attleboro. I think it's understated how big their line is, particularly at defensive tackle, and there are plenty of weapons on offense between quarterback Tim Walsh, tight end Luke Morrison and receiver Brendan Massey. This program has long been a sleeping giant, and new coach Mike Strachan has re-awakened those sentiments.

Barboza: All along, I've penciled in Mansfield as the team to beat in the Kelley-Rex. I believe they had the most complete group of talent on either side of the ball, and also had the most upside. The scary part is that, due to injury, the Hornets might not have yet hit their apogee and will continue to strengthen as the season progresses.

Now, for the sleeper, I know we've talked up Attleboro up a lot in the early going -- to the point that I really think they're a threat in Division 1 South. Seeing that the Blue Bombardiers are for real in the first two weeks of the season, I'm going to go with Taunton. I don't think Chris Greding has gotten enough credit for the job he's done turning around the Tigers program in short order. Of course, an infusion of talent led by Domingo Jenkins helps, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Taunton knocks off one of the Hock's "Big Three" -- King Philip, Mansfield, North Attleborough -- at some point this season.

Perry: The favorite heading into the Hockomock League season is defending champions Mansfield and its new spread attack that takes advantage of its great weapons like senior quarterback Kyle Wisnieski and junior tight end Brendan Hill. Attleboro has gotten a lot of hype from media, me included, in the preseason as a sleeper in the Hock. A new coaching staff, a new field, and new schemes on both sides of the ball have made the Bombardiers a much more confident crew and better utilize the weapons that it has. The Bombardiers were only a few mental mistakes from beating Mansfield last season and Tim Walsh is on fire running the spread formation – watch out for Attleboro. Of course, watch out for KP, Franklin, and North Attleborough, too. It really is up for grabs

McGuirk: The Kelly-Rex Division is solid with four teams still unbeaten (Mansfield, Attleboro, North Attleboro and Taunton). When it is all said and done. I believe it will come down to Mansfield and North Attleborough for the title because of their high-octane offenses. Attleboro has to be considered the darkhorse here because of its stingy defense which could carry them through. It will be interesting to watch all four of these team beat up one another during the season and see who survives.

Everett new No. 1 in Top 25 football poll

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
12:29
PM ET
We updated our statewide MIAA Top 25 football poll this morning. To view it, CLICK HERE.

A few notes and observations about this week's poll:

Everett back at No. 1
The Everett Crimson Tide's reign outside of the top spot in the state was very short-lived. After finishing No. 1 in the state the last three seasons, the Tide came into 2013 in the No. 2 spot. But by virtue of St. John's Prep's upset at the hands of Bridgewater-Raynham on Saturday, Everett takes back the top spot in the land.

But it wasn't exactly peaches and cream for the Tide, either. In their season-opener against No. 6 Springfield Central on Friday, they had to rally in the second half to escape with victory, thanks to a nifty touchdown catch from Mike Lopes. It was a rusty start, and the road won't get any easier this week for the Tide, who host No. 15 Xaverian on Friday.

Upsets Galore
A number of preseason Top 25 selections fell victim to upsets last weekend. Preseason No. 12 selection Barnstable took the biggest drop, falling all the way out of the Top 25 after getting scorched 37-9 by previously-unranked Dennis-Yarmouth, which comes in at No. 17 this week. Meanwhile Longmeadow (Preseason No. 17), BC High (19) and Needham (21) all fell out of the poll following losses to Agawam, North Attleborough and Westwood, respectively.

Big, Bold Statements
On a national level, No. 3 Mansfield made one of the biggest statements for the Bay State in years, taking down three-time defending Maryland state champs Dunbar, 29-26, on their own turf in Baltimore. On a state level, Bridgewater-Raynham made quite the statement in knocking off previous No. 1 St. John's Prep, going up 20-0 at the half and holding on for the win. With the win, B-R moves up six spots to No. 4 while Prep falls four spots to No. 5.

Elsewhere, was there any team in Western Mass. making a bigger statement than Westfield? The Bombers thrashed Amherst 60-14 -- the most points they've scored since putting up 64 on Thanksgiving in the late 1990's -- behind 183 yards and three touchdowns from fullback Ben Geschwind. For their efforts, Westfield debuts this week at No. 21.

MVC Makes It Four
Tewksbury (19) and Haverhill (23) make their debuts in the poll this week, making it a record four teams represented from the Merrimack Valley Conference, joining Lowell (10) and Central Catholic (15). Tewksbury, an MVC Small favorite, makes its debut following a convincing 27-6 win over Chelmsford led by running backs James Sullivan and Eddie Matovu. Haverhill makes a first-ever appearance following a thrilling 21-19 win over Beverly, paced by sophomore Ian Kessel's 140 yards and three TDs on 33 carries.

Here's how the poll breaks down this week by division:



Div. 1 - 7
Div. 2 - 11
Div. 3 - 4
Div. 4 - 2
Div. 5 - 1
Div. 6 - 1


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