Boston High School: Will Bolster

D3 Southwest: North Attleborough 35, Walpole 7

November, 2, 2013
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. – James Kummer and Jack Blasť each accounted for three touchdowns for North Attleborough, as the Rocketeers rolled 35-7 over Walpole in a Division 3 Southwest first-round game on Friday night at Community Field.

North Attleborough scored on five of its seven possessions and did not give up a touchdown until the final five minutes of the game. However, the result could have been very different, but for a huge defensive play early in the first half.

On the first play of the second quarter, trailing 7-0, Walpole was just two yards away from tying the game. The Rocketeers defense needed to make a play and it was senior linebacker Kyle Rodriguez that provided it.

As sophomore running back Steve Cuqua crossed the line of scrimmage, Rodriguez put two hands on the ball and ripped it away. North took over at the one and proceeded to march 99 yards on seven plays for a touchdown, which made it 14-0 and took all momentum away from the Rebels.

“It was a big momentum changer,” said Rodriguez, who also recovered a fumble on the opening Walpole possession. “Down on the one-yard-line, if they score then it changes the game. He had the ball in front of him a little bit and I just knew that I had to make a play.”

Head coach Don Johnson admitted that the North defense needed those turnovers, as the Rocketeers were struggling to contain Cuqua.

“It was really important at the time because I don’t think you can say we stopped them much in the first half. That’s actually something that we work on – getting takeaways. We haven’t gotten too many this season, but we had two big ones tonight.”

The North offense took advantage of the Walpole turnovers thanks in large part to the Rocketeers offensive line creating huge running lanes. North racked up 286 yards on the ground led by quarterback James Kummer (13 carries, 74 yards) and tailback Chris Hunter (13 carries, 118 yards).

The play of the line also helped North in the passing game with the Rocketeers line opening a huge hole up the middle for a shovel pass from Kummer to Blasť for a 22-yard touchdown that capped the 99-yard drive.

The Kummer to Blasť combination had a big first half with five completions for 78 yards. In the final minute of the second quarter, they hooked up for a 25-yard reception on fourth and 18 from the Walpole 35. The play kept the drive going and Kummer would finish it off with a one-yard sneak, which made it 21-0 at the break.

Johnson credited the experience of playing against the strong teams in the Hockomock League for developing his young offensive line. He remarked that the offense is starting to click and the Rocketeers were able to put together three long scoring drives.

He explained, “We knew it was going to take time and then the one senior that we had in there, [Evan] Sweeney, got hurt playing those three monster teams in the Hock. So, we finally got all our guys back and we’ve just continued to get better every week; it really showed it tonight.”

Walpole had an opportunity to get back into the game early in the third quarter after a Hunter fumble, which junior Jack Lavanchy recovered. But the Rebels went three and out and North took its next drive 72 yards in 14 plays, which ran out the clock in the third quarter. Kummer’s second one-yard touchdown of the game put North ahead 28-0.

Walpole head coach Barry Greener was blunt about his team’s performance. He said, “They beat us every which way to Sunday. They just took it to us; we just had no answers.”

Greener added, “We looked good in practice all week. They didn’t run anything that we didn’t work on; we’re just not very tough on defense. If our offense isn’t rolling, we have serious issues.”

Blasť finished off a strong day with a 31-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Cuqua broke one long run for Walpole on its final possession to pass 100 yards for the night (14 carries, 106 yards). The drive was finished by backup quarterback Brendan Chaisson to avoid the shutout.

Johnson noted that the game plan for the Rocketeers to was to try and make Walpole quarterback Will Bolster beat them in the passing game. Bolster finished 5-10 for just 38 yards.

“We felt like we had to stop the run first and put them in a position where they had to throw the ball,” said Johnson. “I think we did a fairly decent job of controlling their run game.”

Rodriguez added, “In the film, they were running all over teams; we knew they had a good offense. We knew that we had to have out best defensive game of the year and we did today.”

The Rocketeers advance to play fellow Hockomock League team Oliver Ames in the second round.

Recap: No. 6 Natick 56, Walpole 55 (OT)

October, 26, 2013

WALPOLE, Mass. -- Years from now, when Troy Flutie finally hangs up the cleats for good, they'll look back to nights like tonight when talking about that special blend of moxie that seems to run through family bloodlines, passed down through generations like an heirloom.

And in this thrilling 56-55 overtime win over archrival Walpole, a Bay State Herget-clinching victory that the Boston College commit called "the greatest game in my life", they'll start with a play they'll likely refer to simply as "Fourth and 22".

Down 49-42 with under three minutes to go, facing fourth and 22 from midfield after a sack and incompletion, the Redhawks (7-0) came out in an empty formation, with trips to the right. Flutie (12 carries, 191 yards, 3 TD; 18-of-31, 370 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT), facing pressure, danced around the pocket before scrambling to his left, as receiver Scott Warnock crossed the field from the right.

Warnock actually ran the wrong route, flattening his depth too much. But with Walpole deploying a zone defense to the trips side, and man-to-man to the other side -- but taken far off the line of scrimmage by those two receivers running deep downfield -- Warnock had plenty of real estate in front of him, with a Rebels (4-3) linebacker chasing from behind. Flutie dumped off a soft touch pass to Warnock on the underneath route, and the senior wideout scampered up the left sideline for a 29-yard gain.

"We ran the wrong route, he was supposed to run the flat, but he ran an in, and Scott did the rest," Flutie said. "He must have saw an opening, and just did it."

Said Walpole coach Barry Greener, "Great call on fourth and 22. They knew we were running a hybrid coverage...They got a total mismatch on us."

The next play, Flutie found Mike Abbruzzese down the middle of the field on a skinny post for a 21-yard touchdown completion, tying the game at 49-all and sending the game into overtime.

Natick took possession first, and on the very first play of the overtime period, Flutie pulled the ball on a zone read, running to the near pylon for a 10-yard touchdown run. On the next series, sophomore Steve Cuqua (44 carries, 308 yards, 6 TD) plunged in from five yards out on second down. On the two point conversion, however, he was stuffed in the backfield, sending the Natick side into a frenzy.

"He's very special, everybody knows that," Natick head coach Mark Mortarelli said of Flutie. "He always gives us a chance to score, and to score quick with his legs or his arm, and tonight was no exception. He just kept producing."

As soon as the game went to overtime, Greener said he had already made up his mind as to whether he would go for two or not (teams are allowed to go for one on the first overtime only).

"Number one, I didn't think we could stop Flutie from the 10 yard line, I think that's a little unrealistic," he said. "Four cracks, there's no way they're not gonna score. And, we were just getting so beat up, the few people we had left, we just had to put it on the line right there. They did a great job scoring. We ran a nice counter, came back with the same play, and they defended it well."

The two teams combined for 1,063 yards of offense, with Natick holding a 588-475 advantage in yardage. For the Redhawks, it's the third time they've gone over the 500-yard mark for offense, and the highest total they've ever achieved with Flutie under center. The Redhawks' previous high under Flutie was 576 in an October 2012 win over Weymouth.

Making a statement: Natick came into tonight's contest as the undisputed favorite, but it was Walpole that came out of the gates throwing haymakers.

The Rebels came out in some spread looks, using trips and double-slot formations, stretching the Natick defense horizontally with a combination of speed and jet sweeps for sophomore Lovevindjy Salvant (seven carries, 121 yards, TD), as well as inside zone reads with the fellow sophomore Cuqua.

Walpole went up 14-0 late in the first quarter when senior safety Myles Cofield jumped a route deep downfield to pick off Flutie, setting up a seven-play, 40-yard drive that was capped with a one-yard Cuqua plunge on second and goal, his second of six scores on the evening.

In one of the prettiest plays of the night, with four minutes left in the contest, Cuqua took a toss from quarterback Will Bolster to the left sideline, slipped inside two kick-out blocks and raced 73 yards to paydirt. It was his final touchdown of regulation, giving the Rebels their final lead of the night at 49-42.

Down the road, this could turn into one of the state's most dynamic thunder-and-lightning tailback tandems, with Salvant providing a shifty change of pace to the hard-charging Cuqua, who dished out some violent pops tonight on dives up the middle. But in the near future, the Rebels could benefit greatly from this kind of production, should injured senior running back Connor Moriarty (ankle) be ready for the first round of next week's MIAA Division 3 Southwest playoffs.

"Cuqua is kind of one of what I call our real good sophomores," Greener said. "Tremendous football player, had a big game against Foxborough first game of the year, but he was sharing it with our captain Connor Moriarty. But Connor has been out for a number of weeks so Cuqua, with the help of Lovevindjy Salvant, has had to do everything himself. And I mean, he's ready for the trauma unit right now, he's really beat up."

Mortarelli, while excited with the win, expressed disappointment with what was an otherwise flat start on both sides of the ball for Natick.

"This back and forth battle, it's what you expect. They're a great team, great coaching staff, great tradition. They came out ready to play, and we didn't get off the bus. We've gotta fix that. We were asleep the first quarter, on offense and defense."


NAT 7 14 7 21 7 --- 56
WAL 14 7 21 7 6 --- 55

First Quarter
W - Steve Cuqua 2 run (Jack Lavanchy kick) 8:04
W - Cuqua 1 run (Lavanchy kick) 3:47
N - Mike Abbruzzese 8 pass from Troy Flutie (Ben Nottonson kick) :33

Second Quarter
W - Will Bolster 1 run (Lavanchy kick) 5:06
N - Flutie 73 run (Nottonson kick) 4:14
N - Andrew Boynton 47 pass from Flutie (Nottonson kick) :35

Third Quarter
W - Lovevindjy Salvant 55 run (Lavanchy kick) 10:26
W - Cuqua 6 run (kick failed) 7:38
N - Flutie 1 run (Nottonson kick) 5:01
W - Cuqua 4 run (Bolster run) 2:06

Fourth Quarter
N - Boynton 46 pass from Flutie (Nottonson kick) 10:39
N - Alex Hilger 25 pass from Flutie (Nottonson kick) 8:29
W - Cuqua 73 run (Lavanchy kick) 4:06
N - Abbruzzese 21 pass from Flutie (Nottonson kick) 2:01

N - Flutie 10 run (Nottonson kick)
W - Cuqua 5 run (rush failed)

Recap: No. 25 Walpole 49, Wellesley 35

October, 6, 2013

WELLESLEY, Mass. –- When Connor Moriarty went down in the second quarter, Walpole (4-1) coach Barry Greener looked two a sophomore and a junior to pick the offense up and help gain momentum back.

The duo, running backs Steve Cuqua and Jack Lavanchy, were major difference-makers in the second half, leading the Rebels to a 49-35 victory over Wellesley (1-4) after previously being down at halftime. Cuqua (2 catches, 73 yards, 7 carries, 91 yards, 2 TD) caught a 65-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to tie the game at 21 after the Rebels trailed 21-13 at halftime.

Cuqua, who had two touchdowns in the second half, later ran in his second score in the fourth quarter, putting Walpole up 49-28 late in the fourth quarter to all but seal the victory for the Rebels. Despite the fact that the rebels lost both Moriarty (7 carries, 72 yards, 2 TD) to a high ankle sprain and Andrew Papirio (concussion) early in the first half, Walpole’s offense was running on all cylinders in the first half.

“We needed some guys to step up and that happened," Greener said. "I try to tell them that tradition here at Walpole is that when one guy goes down, another guy is ready to go—and I think that was the key today. I can’t say enough about Wellesley, Wellesley played a great game."

Lavanchy, a threat both on the ground and through the air, finished with 81 total yards and a touchdown. Rebels’ quarterback Will Bolster (12-18, 216 yards, 4 TD) helped lead the charge as well.

“Bolster had a great day, played really well," Greener said. "I thought both quarterbacks were outstanding, for will…it’s his second year there. He played there as a junior, he’s had some big games for us and he’s really throwing the ball well. We even got him involved in the running game today."

Down at halftime and struggling to stop Wellesley star quarterback John Fadule (18-36, 212 yards, 20 carries, 134 yards. 3 pass TD, 2 rush TD). Fadule, a major running threat with the arm strength to burn Walpole’s defenders with throws downfield, may very well have been the best player on the field in a losing effort. His favorite target was junior receiver Jack Dolan, who caught two touchdowns and a slew of beautiful diving catches.

“[Dolan] really impressed me today, good job on offense, a great receiver, and he did a great job on defense as well," Greener said. "Their offensive line was outstanding, but the secret to our game was our offensive line. The offensive line was the key to that score out there, and our guys really had it at the end."

Wellesley coach Jesse Davis was more to the point with his wording, but like Greener, he was impressed by Fadule’s play on Saturday.

“John’s a good quarterback, we’re gonna watch the film and get better,” Davis said.

Struggling with depth in the secondary, the Rebels had to go to a “quarters” set in the second half—hoping to keep the ball in front of them and avoid giving up the big pass or long run. The defensive adjustment worked out, as Wellesley scored just one touchdown in the second half.

“We’re so beat up in the secondary that we’ve played a lot of ‘quarters’, and I hate ‘quarters’," Greener said. "But we were trying to keep the ball in front of us. That last touchdown, [Myles Cole] beat us in quarters coverage, the coverage wasn’t there, and the kid made a nice play on the ball. We’re just hoping to get some of our guys back as we get into the next two or three weeks. I said just what I said before, the Walpole way.”

Recap: Needham 26, No. 12 Walpole 6

September, 21, 2013
NEEDHAM, Mass. –- It couldn’t have gotten any worse for Needham’s defense. But after a rough 36-26 loss to Westwood in Week 1, the Rockets (who were a preseason Top 25-ranked team) had last week’s bye to get their house in order before meeting Bay State Conference rival No. 12 Walpole on Friday.

Head coach Dave Duffy and his staff used the off week to its fullest, preparing a perfect game plan for the Rebels.

Of course, a 15-carry, 196-yard performance from senior Mike Panepinto didn’t hurt, but the key to the Rockets’ head-turning 26-6 win over the Rebels was their defense. The unit, which had in its debut struggled, couldn’t have been more different. While Walpole was able to move the ball, evidenced by quarterback Will Bolster’s 249 passing yards, while completing 23 of 40 pass attempts, Needham simply made plays when it mattered most.

Twice the Rebels were presented with promising red zone situations and were held without a single point.

“I wanted them to get a zero,” said Panepinto, who broke off touchdown runs of 88 and 20 yards. “We were giving them [the business] in practice after we gave up 36 points to Westwood. And I think they really took it personally after Westwood, and they were ready for tonight.

“They made a statement tonight.”

The first Rockets (1-1) defensive stand came at the end of the first half. With the Rebels (1-1) driving, Needham stalled Walpole’s attempt to get on the board in the final minute of the second quarter. The Rebels attempted a 27-yard field goal attempt as time ran out before the half – following a botched snap on third and goal from the 5 – but when the kick sailed wide left, the Rockets took a 12-0 lead to the intermission.

Needham rode the momentum into the second half, scoring on the opening drive. With an efficient five-play, 67-yard drive, Panepinto found the end zone for a second time with a 20-yard run, following his electrifying 88-yarder in the second quarter.

Walpole again knocked on the door on the ensuing drive, but again the Rebels failed to score. On fourth and 1 from the Rockets’ 4-yard line, Needham again showed its renewed defensive resolve. Senior linebacker Carter Christenson was first in among a group of Rockets defenders plugging the holes on the fullback dive up the middle.

The Rockets again seized the opportunity, capping an emphatic 96-yard drive on Ryan Charter’s 44-yard pass to Mike Elcock on the post for a 26-0 lead with 2:14 remaining in the third quarter.

Walpole finally got on the board with 9:11 remaining with a 4-yard touchdown connection from Bolster to Steve Cuqua on a bootleg roll-out.

Elcock in on the play: Hardly a play elapsed – on offense or defense – where senior wide receiver/defensive back Mike Elcock didn’t factor.

Elcock, who’s also a standout member of the Rockets lacrosse squad, hauled in two touchdown receptions, but really made his presence felt in the secondary. He recorded a game-high five passes defended, including an interception on Walpole’s Hail Mary attempt on the final play of the game.

“He played great,” Duffy said of Elcock. “He’s a senior, he’s a real leader. He’s the real leader of the secondary. He’s a smart kid and he plays tough.”

Elcock wasn’t the only Rockets defensive back making a contribution. Jake Schernecker and Cliff Kurker also contributed pass break-ups in key spots.

While Needham allowed for Bolster and the Rebels offense to operate underneath, Elcock and his teammates sealed off the deep portion of the field.

“I think once [they] got on our side of the field,” Elcock said of Needham’s bend-but-don’t-break defense, “the line would not give up an inch on the run, we stuffed them. And all they could get is five-yard completions, we weren’t letting anything behind us.”

But it was Elcock, himself, who provided the biggest passing play of the evening, out-running the Rebels coverage on a 44-yard score off play-action.

“We’d just been running all over them and we in a double-tight formation, so they were expecting run all the way,” Elcock said. “Then, we just burned them deep with the one high safety.”

A must win?: It’s a little too early in the season to call it a must-win, but Friday’s game was nearly that for Needham.

In a loaded Division 2 South field, the Rockets could ill-afford a loss to the ranked Rebels following their Week 1 letdown against Westwood.

Not that they were about to pay attention.

“I don’t really understand how the whole thing works,” Panepinto said candidly about the MIAA’s new playoff system.

“Coach Duffy and the staff do a good job keeping us from looking too far ahead. On Monday, we’ll be on to [Newton] North, that’s what we’ll be concerned with.”

Cause for concern?: Aside from Friday's loss, the most costly thing to happen to Walpole might be the loss of senior running back Conor Moriarty.

Moriarty, who rushed for 58 yards on 13 carries, left the game after an apparent injury after a 7-yard gain in the third quarter and did not return.

Recap: No. 14 Walpole 37, Foxborough 15

September, 7, 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was an unfortunate set of circumstances for Foxborough on opening night. Practically from the get-go, it just didn’t seem like the Warriors’ night.

And, of course, with No. 14 Walpole visiting, the margin for error was thin. The Warriors first play from scrimmage was a botched snap that quarterback Nolan Rogers was forced to boot through the back of the end zone for a safety. On the Rebels first touch of the game, senior running back Conor Moriarty broke off a 49-yard touchdown run – his first of four.

It didn’t get much easier from there for Foxborough as the Rebels run away with a 37-15 win.

“I thought it would be a barn-burner, right down to the last minute of the game,” said a surprised Walpole head coach Barry Greener.

Moriarty paced the Rebels (1-0) with four rushing touchdowns, while running for 72 yards on 10 carries, coming primarily in the first half. Walpole built a 30-8 lead by the half.

While Moriarty was tough to stop in the red zone, Walpole senior quarterback Will Bolster was responsible for setting up several first-half scores. Bolster completed 9 of 15 pass attempts for 147 yards.

He showed a good rapport with rangy sophomore wide receiver Amire Loftis, who hauled in receptions of 21 and 49 yards – both of which directly preceded Moriarty touchdown runs.

Difference-makers: Greener gushed throughout the preseason about the deep and talented group of sophomores he has. They were on display during the season opener.

In addition to Loftis, running back Steve Cuqua showed great speed to the outside on jet sweeps and counters, running for a team-high 97 yards and a touchdown. Greener also praised the efforts of tight end/ linebacker Nate Porack, who was making his first career start.

The youngsters, along with some of the Rebels’ other first-year starters, such as 7-technique defensive end Munachiso Egbuchulam (1 sack), it was evident Walpole makes up for talent in what it might have lacked in game experience.

An evolution: Bolster reflected on the changes the Rebels offense has undergone during his high school career. It’s been a steady progression for the third-year starter under coordinator Bill O’Connell and new offensive assistant Todd Collins.

“When I was a sophomore, I did a lot of pro-style, under-the-center stuff,” Bolster said. “It was a lot of simple two-receiver, tight end and two running backs. Then, we’ve moved to more a spread style.”

With Collins – in his day, a Super Bowl winning quarterback at Walpole and veteran of 16 NFL season – assuming a role on Greener’s coaching staff, Bolster hinted at greater variations to come.

Even still, the Rebels attacked Foxborough with a wide variation of formations, which at times included bunch trips looks.

“When they’re playing Cover 1, Cover 3 like that, we can run all day against that,” Bolster said.

Next up: The main question surrounding Foxborough entering this season is how the Warriors could replace graduated running back Kiivone Howard.

Enter junior Keeyon Neal. The 6-foot, 175-pound back led all rushers with 121 yards on 16 carries.

And, while Neal’s performance was a bright spot on an otherwise tough evening for the Foxborough faithful, there’s other reason for optimism with the Warriors as they look ahead to Davenport division play. Rogers, a junior and first-time starter, completed 13 of 25 pass attempts for 106 yards and touchdown.

A new beginning: Greener remarked to the bus driver on the way to the Ahern Middle School that it would be his team’s shortest trip of the season – save that to archrival Norwood. But it’s surprising that the Rebels and Warriors had never met till Friday night – mostly due to the fact that Walpole, only under the provisions of the MIAA’s new playoff scheduling plan, is able to schedule outside of the Bay State League.

Fresh look, promising outlook for No. 14 Walpole

August, 26, 2013
When it comes to postseason the last few years, it seems, Walpole just can't seem to catch a break.

Two years ago, the Rebels beat rival Natick on a last-second field goal to clinch the Bay State Herget and a postseason berth in Division 2A, only to get throttled by Dennis-Yarmouth in the playoffs. Last year, the Rebels finished 10-1 with a share of the Herget, only to sit at home with no playoffs after Thanksgiving by virtue of a dramatic loss to co-champ Natick.

Looking at the alignments for the new MIAA State Championship, the Rebels might have gotten a good break. They sit in a Division 3 Southwest that is without question weaker than D2 South, which includes Bay State rivals Natick, Needham, Wellesley and Braintree. A total of six D2 South squads are ranked in ESPN Boston's statewide Preseason Top 25 poll -- more than any other bracket in the state -- while just one other D3 Southwest contender, No. 24 Bishop Feehan, is represented.

Perhaps the Rebels have finally gotten a much-needed break after alternating the Bay State Herget's lone playoff berth with Natick for each of the last 10 seasons. But Rebels head coach Barry Greener has a decidedly large amount of experience to replace, and there are more immediate tasks at hand.

"I do think D2 is a meat grinder. As I look at the list, D2 is very talented, but D3 is extremely competitive," Greener said. "I think the biggest thing with a young team ... last year’s team was totally different. This team, they have to take it one day at a time, they've gotta get better every day, that’s all we’re focusing on."

The Rebels are looking to replace 17 starters from last season's 10-1 squad, including 10 on the defensive side of the ball. But this is typically a program that excels at developing sub-varsity players to make immediate impacts with the big boys, and Greener is confident in the fresh faces abound.

"I think we have, in spots, in a lot of areas we have pretty decent team speed," Greener said. "There's certainly a willingness to get better. We have a lot of kids that watched a great group of seniors that played for us last year. They had talent, they were just playing behind these kids [last year's seniors] and they were good ones. But now they know it’s their turn, and they're doing a pretty good job trying to take advantage of that."

For the few returning starters, expect even bigger campaigns. Connor Moriarty was one of the brightest second-half stars across Eastern Mass., assuming a majority of the offensive workload as injuries piled up. As the best overall player on both sides of the ball, and as a safety the program's only returning defensive starter, he'll be called upon for an even bigger load this season.

Offensively, Walpole will stick with its spread look from a year ago, with quarterback Will Bolster working with a deep stable of five to six receivers. With three returning starters in the trenches, expect great emphasis once again on the running game, with Moriarty as the feature back. His repertoire fits well with Walpole's running scheme, a mixture of inside and outside zones along with counters. Two sophomores, Steve Cuqua and Lovenchi Salvant, will provide depth in the backfield.

"He’s very quick strong explodes when hits hole, and so do the other two guys [Cuqua and Salvant]," Greener said. "Overall, Connor arguably could be our main gun. He’s great north to south, great subtle moves, but he's an attack-type runner. He runs quick and hard, not real big but he's really well put together."

Defensively, the Rebels have been in an odd front the last few seasons, mostly going with a 3-4 look but sometimes applying a 3-3 stack against the increasing amount of spread teams they face in the Bay State. There's enough spread looks in the conference now that the Rebels are switching to a 4-2-5 to combat the look, but also optimize the talents at defensive line.

Aidan Moore gives the Rebels a home run threat on the interior, with his combination of size and lacrosse-bred athleticism, while Nick Cordopatri and Chris Bender are threats off the edge. One of the more intriguing prospects is Noah Kung, a 6-foot, 215-pound nose guard with a sharp wrestling background who excels at hand-to-hand combat. Kung is potentially looking at The Citadel for college.

"He’s very hard to block, uses his hand well, sheds, swipes," Greener said. "We've used some hand-to-hand combat, martial arts stuff that the colleges have been using, and he's good at that. He reads pressure well, so he fights combo blocks well. In our scheme if we get combo blocked, we try to tie up both blockers without giving up ground, which frees up the linebackers, prevent their blockers from getting to [the second level] and he’s great at that. He's a great pressure guy, he gets the high-hat, kick=step, and gets off into his moves. He's very quick."

Coach: Barry Greener (5th year, 39-7 overall)
Last season: 10-1
Returning starters: Five (four offense, one defense)
Key returnees: Connor Moriarty, Sr. RB/S; Will Bolster, Sr. QB; Noah Kung, Sr. C/NG; Matt Ordway, Jr. OG; Nick Cordopatri, Sr. OT/DL
Strengths: Offensive and defensive lines
Weaknesses: Inexperience
Outlook: The Rebels must replace a loaded senior class from last fall’s 10-1 campaign, but Greener appears pretty confident in the fresh faces coming up in the program. It may take some time to get up to speed, but this is one of the deeper programs south of Boston when it comes to developing varsity-ready underclassmen. The biggest change will be the on the defensive side of the ball, where the Rebels are switching from a 3-4 to a 4-2-5 look similar to one popularized by Gary Patterson at TCU. The switch was made to better fit the looks they’ll see in the increasingly spread-oriented Bay State Conference, as well as optimize the depth of their talented defensive line, led by Kung and Cordopatri. Moriarty is the Rebels’ best overall player on both sides of the ball; and with the spread-oriented Rebels returning three starters on the offensive line, they will continue to pound the ball. Moriarty is a terrific fit for Greener’s zone scheme, a one-cut, north-south runner who accelerates quickly through holes. Keep an eye on two sophomores, Steve Cuqua and Lovenchi Salvant, to boost the running game as well.

Recap: No. 13 Walpole 48, Weymouth 21

November, 22, 2012

WEYMOUTH, Mass. -- Coach Barry Greener and the Walpole Rebels will not be going to the playoffs this year, but the Weymouth Wildcats will.

On Thursday, it didn't matter much as the Rebels laid a licking on Weymouth, scoring 35 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to cap off their 48-21 shellacking.

“I think our senior and junior class have a strong will to win, but we practice hard and we practice long,” Greener said regarding his team’s ability to turn up the tempo and keep the energy burning until the clock wound down it’s final second.

Mike Rando scored his third touchdown, a 34-yard run, with 46 seconds left in the game.

“We are in phenomenal shape endurance-wise,” added Greener.

The teams were tied 7-7 coming out of the locker room. Walpole failed to convert a first down on the opening possession of the second half, but on the third play of the following Weymouth drive, sophomore Andrew Papirio intercepted the ball and brought it across the 50 to the Weymouth 40. Rando scored his first on the day with a pass from Will Bolster on the next play putting Walpole up 13-7. A failed kick left Walpole up by only 6.

Weymouth would take the next 4:21 to score and put up an extra point to regain the lead at 14-13. The Wildcats scored again on a Dave Harrison run nearly four minutes later at 9:02, but this would be the last score for the Wildcats, making it a 21-13 game.

P.J. Hales took the following kickoff 88 yards up the right sideline in 15 for a score, and the ensuing EP made the the tally 21-19, Weymouth. Walpole, however, recovered a fumble on the first play from scrimmage on the ensuing Weymouth drive. Four plays later Hanley ran in for his second touchdown of the day while Rando added the extra point rush to begin the blowout that was to come with a 27-21 lead that grew exponentially.

“We just meshed together well as a team,” said Rando of the stark contrast in offensive production from 7 points in the first half and 41 points in the second. “At halftime, we made a few adjustments and came out flying.”

Although coach Barry Greener will not be going to the playoffs this year, he was happier than a hog in a pigpen after the game, as the match he had looked forward to all year was now under his belt.

“It’s not the playoffs; it’s not a chance to go to Gillette. The Weymouth game, to me, is the biggest game of the year. That’s the way it is,” said the 1967 Weymouth graduate.

Although Greener played offensive guard and nose guard in the 1960s for Weymouth, there is no second guessing that he is a Rebel. “I came here in 1972 and I haven’t been anywhere else. And I won’t be going anywhere. The guy I worked with for my first 20 years in Walpole, the legendary John Lee, he was a Newton North graduate, class of ’52, and the Newton North game meant so much to him.”

Rando and Hanley relayed after the game that they had been playing football together since they were waist high to their present selves and that being tied at halftime was not a good feeling for the team, especially the seniors, some of whom would be playing in their last football game ever.

“We put everything we had on the field,” Hanley said.. “We knew it was our last time.”

Although Rando and Hanley will not play for the Rebels as footballers any longer, they and the other captains handed the invisible torch to the underclassmen in the postgame huddle. This is not the first, nor the last time this act of brotherly love and pride has been acted out as the trees lose their leaves and the last insects look for sustenance to survive the recurring, wicked New England winter.

“It’s been passed down for forty-plus years. It’s a great tradition, great records, starting with coach Lee back in the late sixties and it’s our pleasure… and our honor to be a part of this program and our duty to pass it down to the younger kids,” dictated Rando.

Wal (10-1) – 0 7 6 35 -- 48
Wey ( 8-3) – 7 0 7 7 -- 21

Wey – Dave Harrison 72 run (Ozzy Colarusso kick)
Wal – Cam Hanley 1 run (Colton Mitchell kick)
Wal – Mike Rando 40 pass from Will Bolster (Kick failed)
Wey – Harrison 1 run (Colarusso kick)
Wey – Harrison 17 run (Colarusso kick) 21-13
Wal – P.J. Hayes 88 kickoff ret. (Rush failed) 21-19
Wal – Hanley 1 run (Rando rush) 27-21
Wal – Rando 52 run (Mitchell kick) 34-21
Wal – Steve Thulin 32 run (Mitchell kick) 41-21
Wal – Rando 34 run (Mitchell kick) 48-21

Recap: No. 21 Natick 21, No. 5 Walpole 14

November, 10, 2012

NATICK, Mass. – With a crucial Bay State Herget division game against No. 5 Walpole on Friday and coming off last week’s upset loss to Wellesley, No. 21 Natick was again confronted with a question of defense.

Yes, the Redhawks’ own defense hadn’t put forward their finest effort against the Raiders six days earlier, but the looming question headed into Friday’s matchup was whether anybody – including Natick’s potent passing attack – could score against a downright dominant Rebels defense. Walpole hadn’t allowed a single point in six weeks entering.

However, Natick quarterback Troy Flutie was again able to make plays with his arm and his legs, accounting for all three Redhawks touchdowns in a 21-14 victory over the Rebels. Sophomore wide receiver Brian Dunlap, despite being met with blanket coverage, was able to grab six catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. And that once maligned Natick defense ratcheted up the intensity to hold off Walpole’s comeback bid in the fourth quarter.

“We came into this game, we thought we were going to score,” Dunlap said. “We weren’t worried about their record and what had happened in the past with point or whatever. We just wanted to do our thing, play our game.”

Natick now controls its own destiny in the Herget, despite last week’s hiccup. The Redhawks (9-1, 8-1) can now clinch a playoff berth with a win in their Thanksgiving Day game against Framingham.

Walpole (9-1, 8-1) was stung by early miscues, which set up both of Natick’s first half-scores.

The Rebels scored on the game’s opening drive, marching 75 yards downfield on a 13-play drive culminating in Mike Rando’s 20-yard touchdown catch from Will Bolster. But a miscue on a Walpole punt erased the advantage by the time the first quarter was out. With 15 seconds to play in the first, a high snap on a Walpole punt gave Steve Thulin no time to kick the ball away. After a last-ditch attempt to throw the ball, Natick took over at the Rebels’ 25-yard line. One play later, Flutie connected with Dunlap for their first scoring play.

Natick again forced the Rebels into a mistake with 5:35 remaining in the second. A forced fumble created by Redhawks defensive tackle Matthew Palmer was recovered by defensive end Trenton Wright. The turnover immediately paid dividends for Natick with Flutie hitting Dunlap on a 40-yard hookup for a 14-7 lead.

The ultimate statement of will by the Redhawks offense came with their first possession of the second half.

“That was the game, that first drive, obviously, in the second half, was the game,” Natick head coach Mark Mortarelli said. “That’s what we wanted to do. It was great to see our offense do that.”

The Redhawks took the ball in the second half and Flutie zipped down the field in six plays. Flutie personally accounted for 62 yards on a 70-yard drive to open the third quarter, making a statement against the Rebels’ previously impervious defense. He finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run which proved to be the game-winner.

“All of our receivers had big games, Miguel [Rodriguez], Justin [Robinson], Andrew [Boynton], and Alex Hilger, coming off an injury,” Flutie said. “I thought we ran the ball pretty well. Nick [Lee] did a good job coming back from his injury, too.”

The Rebels fought back to make it a one-possession game with 4:24 to play on Bolster’s second touchdown pass of the game – a 26-yard fade to Brad Webber. The play, which came on fourth and 11, almost was not as Natick thought it had recovered a fumble (by Flutie) on the previous play, but instead the Bolster pass to Chris Collins was deemed incomplete.

Walpole would get another three cracks at the tying score late in the fourth, but its possessions ended in a punt, an interception and a turnover on downs in succession, as Natick’s defense answered the bell. Flutie capped the defensive performance with an interception, the Redhawks’ second of the game.

“Coach Mort [Mortarelli] did a great job with our defense after that loss to Wellesley,” Flutie said. “He knew we had an embarrassing afternoon there. He knew that he wasn’t to let that happen again. I think all of us worked really hard, we put the Wellesley loss on us. So we tried as hard as we could and we just made plays out there.”

Walpole was able to find success in the running game, behind another big effort from junior Connor Moriarty (21 carries, 120 yards), but Natick’s defensive line was a strength. The group of Robby Beausoleil, Ross Brayman, Jack Lowell, Palmer and Wright were active in the backfield. They helped shut down Walpole’s passing attack, after being burnt by Chris Sarni and Wellesley last week, in addition to a strong night from Flutie (INT, 3 passes defended) and Mike Abbruzze.

“We wanted to keep everything in front of us and not give up a big play,” Mortarelli said. “Obviously, when [Rando] was playing, he’s pretty explosive, we didn’t want to see him take off on us. We made a couple adjustments in our defense, we rolled up our safeties.”

Walpole – 7 0 7 0 -- 14
Natick - 7 7 7 0 -- 21

First quarter
W - Mike Rando 10-yard pass from Will Bolster (Colton Mitchell kick)
N - Brian Dunlap 25-yard pass from Troy Flutie (Sam Lenson kick)

Second quarter
N - Dunlap 40-yard pass from Flutie (Lenson kick)

Third quarter
N - Flutie 1-yard run (Lenson kick)
W - Brad Webber 26-yard pass from Bolster (Mitchell kick)

Recap: No. 6 Walpole 31, No. 23 Needham 0

October, 20, 2012

WALPOLE, Mass. -— There’s probably no way Barry Greener is just going to use this play every time his offense gets inside the 30-yard line.

But outside observers might not blame him if he does.

Chris Collins and his big frame splits out wide against a defensive back and the tight end uses his body to outmuscle, out-jump and out just about everything against a smaller defender in a jump ball scenario in the end zone.

[+] EnlargeChris Collins
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comTight end Chris Collins was at his most dangerous tonight on the perimeter, where he hauled in two touchdown passes off of 'Go' routes.
Walpole used that play -- let’s call it “Go, Collins” -- twice to perfection last night in a 31-0 trumping of Needham at Turco Memorial Field. The rest of the Bay State Conference, and Eastern Mass., might want to take notice when big No. 85 jogs towards the linesman and sets up as a wide receiver. Because more likely than not, quarterback Will Bolster is going to find his target.

“That’s a little mismatch,” said Greener. “We have it and we use it. You don’t have something like that every year, so when you have it you might as well use it.”

Collins has the build of a power forward and is very much in the mold of Antonio Gates, in terms of how the Rebels are deploying him. Collins finished with three catches for 55 yards and two scores against the Rockets (5-2).

“I used to play basketball, so I’m used to posting people up,” said Collins. “Bolster is a great quarterback. Credit to him and the offensive line for blocking.”

The play will give the Rebels options when defenses try to gameplan on how to stop the tight end from getting a seemlesly easy touchdown. Just let Barry Greener tell you in the only way coach Greener knows how.

“He’s improved a lot,” said Greener. “Chris, in my opinion, is still a better defensiver player and he is a offensive player. Now he’s starting to get a clue on offense. Defense is more instinctive. A lot of times we are slanting or angling. It’s more instinctive. With offense you have to have a grasp and a knowledge of the game. What are we trying to do on offense? What is your role? Why are you out there? He blocks very well. He’s a great stock blocker.

"He’s there to block and try to create a mismatch with a smaller cornerback. If they are out there to double him then we try to overload the other side. It’s pretty hard to double Collins if you’ve got three receivers to cover on the other side. It’s tough to cover unless you bring in a dime coverage with six defensive backs. Then we are going to run the ball at you.”

[+] EnlargeConnor Moriarty
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comRunning back Connor Moriarty filled in admirably for the injured Mike Rando, rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Mike Rando is still in a walking boot, but Greener said his running back/defensive back will be out of the boot on Saturday and will most likely be ready for the heavyweight matchup against Natick.

The Rebels had plenty of options to counter the loss.

Connor Moriarty rushed 16 times for 122 yards and a score, Cam Hanley added a score, and Steve Thulin gained tough yards through the middle of the field to keep the offensive churning in tough weather conditions.

“Our running backs coach said this isn’t Team Rando, it’s the Walpole Rebels,” said Moriarty. “We really stuck to that tonight and it paid off.”

That being said, Rando’s health will be key for the Rebels as they look towards the playoffs.

“He’s a great defensive player,” said Greener. “He plays safety, corner plays in the slot, he plays tailback. He does everything. He can cook hot dogs at halftime.”

Ryan Charter didn’t play the second half for the Rockets after taking a big hit on the sideline late in the first half. The junior quarterback sustained an injury to his throwing hand and had it taped after the game was over.

“We don’t know,” said Needham coach Dave Duffy. “We are going to get it X-rayed and we will see what his family says. Hopefully he will be back. He’s a big part of our offense.”