Boston High School: Zach Elkinson

Elkinson turns in a day for the record books

December, 6, 2014
12/06/14
8:28
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It may be a while until someone, at any level, tops the performance that Holliston’s Zach Elkinson had at Gillette Stadium.

The seniors halfback tied a MIAA championship game record with five scoring runs while tallying 212 yards on nine carries, leading his Panthers to a 43-0 win in the Div. 4 championship game.

[+] EnlargeZach Elkinson
Eric Adler for ESPNBoston.comZach Elkinson (9 carries, 212 yards, 5 TD) was unstoppable in Holliston's 43-0 rout of Wahconah in the D4 state final.
Elkinson was quick to deflect the credit to his offensive line up front who set the edge all game for the senior.

“It’s just an unreal feeling, my line just had the game for their lives, every single hole was open for me, they did all the work and I just ran behind.”

Even after head coach Todd Kiley rested all of his starters in their Thanksgiving Day loss to Westwood, Elkinson entered the game averaging a touchdown every 5.8 touches this season. He blew that number out Saturday scoring five times on nine touches, an average of 1.8.

“I wouldn’t rather have any other offensive line in the whole state, they are my best friends and they did the best they have ever done tonight,” said Elkinson. “They took it out and put their hearts on the line and they battled.”

The first two scoring runs from Elkinson came off the same play. Lined up as the right wingback, Elkinson took the toss moving to his left and cut up inside the left tackle. The first scoring run went 49 yards late in the first half and the second came with 8:16 left in the second, streaking for 61 yards.

Elkinson scored a third before the end of the half, taking another run to the left side to give the Panthers a 22-0 halftime lead.

“I just saw a bunch of red and no white and after that they opened up the hole and it was all green,” said Elkinson.

The University of Hartford lacrosse commit quickly picked up where he left in the first half, taking the opening play of the half 50 yards to pay dirt. The senior polished off his record-game on the first play of the fourth quarter, when on fourth-and-10, he took the direct snap 30 yards for the game’s final score.

“That is a very good football team to beat, they didn’t have their best day today obviously but for us to go out there and beat them like we did, it speaks volume about the guys in this room,” Kiley said.

Elkinson was just as instrumental to last season’s team that fell short in the Div. 4 South finals which made this championship that much more important.

“I’m just proud of everybody, all the families, the parents, the coaches, the kids, the red sea, it takes an army and we showed up tonight,” Kiley said.

“You want it for these kids who are out there working hard every day and you see them out there having their games of their lives, wanting it more than ever.”

Elkinson's evolution fuels Holliston's title run

December, 4, 2014
12/04/14
2:53
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Not all playmakers are born.

Plenty of athletes possess natural speed, quickness, and the coordination to succeed in multiple sports, but as Holliston’s Zach Elkinson found out, if you want those attributes to translate at the next level, you have to put in work.

Standing at 5-foot-9 and weighing 165 pounds, Elkinson isn’t your prototypical wide receiver. In fact, he’s become much more than that for the State Championship-bound Panthers.

In three years as a starter, the senior captain has not only worked his way onto the varsity roster, he’s fashioned himself into an unbelievable weapon that led all of MIAA Division 4 with 737 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns this season, more than twice the output of any other receiver in the division.

Along with standout senior quarterback Nick Athy, Elkinson has helped the Panthers' high-powered offense average 41 points per game in their 11 wins.

As his head coach Todd Kiley points out, that’s simply where Elkinson’s contributions begin.

“Obviously he’s a phenomenal athlete, but he’s become a lot more versatile over the years,” Kiley said.

“He’s really progressed as far as making the calls on defense, he’s more aggressive, and he’s understanding the scheme a lot better. Between those skills and his leadership, he’s been a huge asset for this football team, and I’m excited to see what he can do on Saturday.”

Just Z Being Z

Holliston (11-1) will face Wahconah (11-0) in the D4 championship game this Saturday, but without a huge play from Elkinson, the Panthers might not have earned their third Super Bowl berth in five years.

Locked in a tight D4 South final with then-undefeated Middleborough, Holliston’s coach said his team was desperate for a big play heading into halftime.

“We had just come off a three-and-out,” Elkinson thought back to that cold November night, “and as we went back on the field, Coach Kiley said to me and [quarterback Nick Athy], ‘just take a chance.’”

With just over a minute to play in the half and the score knotted at seven, Athy did just that by rocketing the ball down the sideline to his star receiver. Blanketed by the opposing cornerback, Elkinson still managed to high-point the ball, tip it to himself, and sprint in for a 55-yard touchdown.

Zach Elkinson TD catch from ESPN Boston on Vimeo.



Kiley said that “Ironically enough, the safeties and corners were bailing on that play, so they had good coverage. But the athlete that [Elkinson] is, he went up and got it, and you want to talk about a turning point in that game? That was it.”

Elkinson’s teammates certainly appreciated a highlight-reel touchdown at that point, but said that the result didn’t shock them.

“That’s just Z being Z,” Athy said. “He’s got unreal athletic ability. We needed to make a big play at that point and he came through like he always does. Every time I throw the ball up to him I’m confident he’s coming down with it. I feel like he can burn anyone in this league.”

Watching from the sidelines on that particular snap, senior captain Joe Bellamo said, “It was an unbelievable play, but when he does that kind of stuff it doesn’t really surprise me anymore. A couple years ago against Norton he had this contested catch off his helmet that was similar. He’s been doing it for years now and usually has one of those highlights every few games.”

Putting In The Work

That highlight play may have been the direct product of Elkinson’s rigorous offseason workouts.

A three-sport athlete at Holliston, Elkinson said he decided to give up basketball after his sophomore year in order to concentrate on training for lacrosse and football.

He worked with world-class power lifter Liane Blyn at a facility called Athletic Based Training throughout the winter, and came back stronger and faster in the fall of his junior year.

“I definitely saw a difference after that,” Elkinson recalled. “Sophomore year I was very small compared to varsity players. I was looking up at kids, and knew I wasn’t where I needed to be, so I decided to get in the weight room and keep at it.”

In his second year as a varsity starter, Elkinson finished second in the state with 984 receiving yards, and tied with Natick’s Alex Hilger atop the leaderboard with 15 receiving touchdowns.

Suddenly on the radar for college scouts, Elkinson said he considered attending a program where he could play both football and lacrosse at the Division 1 level, but decided it was too much to juggle along with academics.

He recently signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse at the University of Hartford (which has no football program), but Elkinson’s left it all out on the football field for the Panthers.

“He’s worked his tail off for four years and he’s developed into an explosive big-time receiver,” Athy said in praise of his teammate. “I have full confidence that he’ll do what he does out on this field [at Gillette Stadium] on Saturday.”

Sacrificing For The Team

He makes plenty of flashy plays as a receiver, but Elkinson’s coach and teammates point to the subtle contributions the senior makes on a daily basis.

Elkinson is calling plays out of the secondary in the absence of graduated middle linebacker Paul Beling, and his coach isn’t the only one that’s noticed a dramatic improvement on that side of the ball.

“He’s always been explosive on offense, but the second half of this year he’s really settled into a leadership role on defense. He’s really turned the corner whether it’s in pass coverage, or making tackles, he’s been outstanding,” said Athy.

When he lines up on offense, Elkinson has drawn plenty of attention from opposing defenses after his breakout performance last season. Always humble, Elkinson said he’s fine with teams selling out to shut him down if it leaves his teammates open.

“Teams will double him, but he’s unselfish,” Kiley said. “At the end of a game, you wouldn’t be able to tell by his demeanor if he had zero catches, or fifteen catches. He just cares about winning.”

Still, Kiley has found ways to get the ball in the hands of his playmaker, as Elkinson functions as the wing in Holliston’s famous “war” package.

His coach continued, “A lot of receivers may not like to take it inside between the tackles, but if he sees a hole, he’s not afraid to lower his shoulder and drive in there. He’s equally valuable in that regard.”

Elkinson’s offseason work ethic seems to have helped the undersized receiver flourish as a rusher and receiver. His unselfish approach has made him an invaluable asset to a Holliston team that only lost on Thanksgiving because several starting Panthers sat that game out.

Why is he willing to sacrifice personal glory and work so hard for the team? The senior said it’s all about the collective goal of winning a state championship.

“Freshman year, we decided together that we were going to make it to Gillette. We’re finally here, and it’s crazy,” he said.

Standing on the turf in cavernous Gillette Stadium, Elkinson said he couldn’t wait to share it with all his teammates.

“Every kid dreams of playing for a state championship. Growing up and watching Holliston play for state titles we wanted to be just like those players. We’re such a tight-knit team, and to be here with all my brothers is amazing.”

Telestrator: Inside Wahconah-Holliston

December, 3, 2014
12/03/14
10:17
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In this week's edition of "The Telestrator", ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall and correspondent Mike Uva take you inside one of the biggest matchups of State Championship Saturday, the Division 4 Final between Western Mass. champion Wahconah and Eastern Mass. champ Holliston.

The two teams are practically mirrors of each other along the offensive and defensive lines, but Wahconah brings a big weapon to the table in tight end/defensive end Cole Morrison, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound junior who is beginning to build Division 1 interest. But the Warriors' biggest question they have to solve is how they will match up with Holliston's electric returning All-State athlete Zach Elkinson. We took a look inside what makes Morrison and Elkinson so integral to their teams:

(Video by Greg Story)

The Telestrator - MIAA Playoffs Super Saturday from ESPN Boston on Vimeo.

Holliston's Elkinson commits to Hartford

October, 6, 2014
10/06/14
12:54
PM ET
Holliston senior Zach Elkinson has committed to the University of Hartford to play lacrosse, the Top Gun Fighting Clams club announced via its Twitter account today.



Elkinson, a midfielder, has also enjoyed a breakout year with the Panthers' football team this fall. He leads Holliston in receiving with 21 catches for 487 yards and five touchdowns and is ranked second on the Panthers in tackles with 36.

Last week, Elkinson told ESPN Boston he was also considering Ithaca for lacrosse and Bentley for lacrosse and football.

Players of the Week: Holliston's Athy and Elkinson

September, 30, 2014
9/30/14
3:39
AM ET
HOLLISTON, Mass. -- Can anybody slow Holliston's attack?

The Panthers rank among the top offenses in the state, and they hit high gear in Friday night's 63-21 win over Hopkinton. Quarterback Nick Athy and Zach Elkinson combined for four scores, as Athy threw for 350 yards and five touchdowns in the rout.

ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall caught up with our co-Players of the Week in this segment brought to you by New England Dairy:

(Video by Scott Barboza)

*****

TOP 5 PERFORMANCES FROM WEEK 4:

Nick Athy, Sr. QB/ Zach Elkinson, Sr. Ath., Holliston -- Teamed up for 272 receiving yards and four touchdowns while Athy threw for 350 yards and five scores in a 63-21 win over Hopkinton.

Chris Cervizzi, Sr. RB, Brooks -- Recorded 34 carries for 288 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-13 win over Noble & Greenough.

Nick Olson, Sr. QB, Natick -- Threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns in the Redhawks' 35-7 win over Wellesley.

Doug Santos, Jr. RB, Peabody – Turned in his third straight 200-yard rushing game with 273 yards and three touchdowns in the Tanners' 35-19 win over Danvers.

Brooks Tyrrell, Sr. RB, Marblehead – Ran for 260 yards and seven touchdowns in the Magicians' 56-35 win over Swampscott.

 

Top 25 countdown: Nos. 15-11

August, 21, 2014
8/21/14
2:12
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On Monday, we unveiled our statewide MIAA Top 25 preseason football poll. Today, we continue our annual countdown of the poll with Nos. 15 through 11.

In case you missed our earlier installments: Nos. 25-21; Nos. 20-16.

NO. 15 BOSTON COLLEGE HIGH
Coach: Jon Bartlett (5th season, 33-12)
Last Season: 6-5, lost in Division 1 South Semifinals
Returning Starters: 9 (6 offense, 3 defense)
Key Returnees: Sean Holleran, Sr. QB, 5-11 185 lbs.; Nick Locken, Sr. OL/MLB, 6-1 240 lbs.; Will Johnson, Jr. WR/DB, 5-8 160lbs; Ryan Black, Sr. OL/DT, 6-2 245 lbs; Scott Gosnell, Sr. DB, 6-2 195 lbs; Christian Dallas, Sr. TE/DE, 6-3 200 lbs.; Shane Libby, Sr. TE/LB, 6-3 240 lbs; Brendan Smith, Sr. RB/OLB, 6-0 195 lbs; Brendan Lynch, Jr. OL/DT, 6-5 270 lbs.
Strengths: Commitment, attitude.
Weaknesses: Inexperience on defense.
Outlook: When Jon Bartlett took over in May for his second stint as head coach for BC High, one of the first things he stressed to his players was how much of a “team” they needed to be. It didn’t take players long to buy into the system, after learning that the man that had been their head coach for the past two seasons (Joe Gaff), would be returning to the staff as an assistant for Bartlett. “For coach Gaff to not only bring coach [Bartlett] back but to also stay with this team, it showed us how committed he is to all of us,” explained senior quarterback Sean Holleran. “That commitment makes us even more excited to play.” The Eagles will look towards Holleran’s leadership to guide the Eagles on offense and also their signature I-formation that will feature senior running back Brendan Smith. With a history of producing talented running backs in recent years, none of this will be possible without the power from the offensive line led by Nick Locken, Ryan Black and Brendan Lynch. On defense, inexperience may be a weakness heading into camp, but coach Bartlett has faith in his younger players to step up when they get their number called. Two returning players to keep an eye are ball-hawking senior defensive back Scott Gosnell and senior linebacker Shane Libby. The Eagles will be challenged like always, having to go through the gauntlet, that is the Catholic Conference, but with plenty of leadership from captains and seniors alike, BC High will be determined and use their loss to conference foe Xaverian in last year’s D1 South Semi-finals as extra motivation.
-MIKE UVA

NO. 14 HOLLISTON
Coach: Todd Kiley (12th season, 91-33)
2013: 9-2, Division 4 South finalists
Returning starters: 17 (8 offense, 9 defense)
Key Returnees: John DoCarmo, Sr. OL/DL, 5’11, 235 lbs; Nick Athy, Sr., QB/S, 6’, 200 lbs; Zach Elkinson, Sr., WR, 5’9, 175 lbs; Joe Bellomo Sr., RB., 6’, 215 lbs.
Strengths: Experience, athleticism, strength.
Weaknesses: Depth.
Outlook: It’s been an offseason keyed on conditioning for last year’s runner-up in Division 4 south, with many of the returners on Todd Kiley’s Panthers surpassing their personal records in the weight room this summer. Holliston can be expected to be a favorite in the Tri Valley League as well as in Division 4 south this year, a year after falling to Dennis-Yarmouth 26-7 in last year’s D4 south title game. Holliston will also be one of the most experienced teams in Eastern Mass., returning eight starters on each side of the ball to give the athletic squad a veteran presence. “We’re definitely a senior laden team , a lot of experience. Our guys have taken it up on themselves to put themselves in position to get a title. A lot of them have been working since day after Thanksgiving last year,” Kiley said. After averaging nearly 40 points per game last year, the offense will be based around captain quarterback Nick Athy, his favorite target: senior receiver Zach Elkinson, and running back Joe Bellomo – all three of whom made the cut for our pre-season all-state watch list. The Panthers will get things started quickly this week, heading to No. 25 Natick, who reached the D2 south semifinals last year, in a scrimmage on Saturday “I’m good friends with Coach Mortarelli, Kiley said of the Natick coach, “He’s done a great job with those guys. They just put together a solid product every year. A lot of people would have thought they’d take a step back, but they’re just as good as they were last year. That’s gonna be an awesome test on Saturday.” Look for a stingy and experienced Panthers defense to terrorize the TVL this year, led by linebackers Connor Lefevra and Derek Kiley and defensive lineman Michael Chipman. Their toughest test may very well come in just a matter of weeks, when they travel to take on Duxbury on September 5. “This is a hungry group, they’re very focused. It was a great summer, they worked their tails off,” Kiley said, “Getting that close like we did last year gave these guys some experience. That experience is really going to pay off for our guys.”
-CHRIS BRADLEY

NO. 13 MARBLEHEAD
Head Coach: Jim Rudloff (6th season, 41-17)
2013: 9-2, lost to Tewksbury in Div. 3 Northeast sectional final
Returning starters: 10 (5 offensive; 5 defensive)
Key Players: Brooks Tyrrell, Sr. RB/DB, 6-0, 195 lbs.; Derek Dumais, Sr. OT/DT; 6-5, 315 lbs.; Dan Marino, Sr. OT/DT, 6-3, 245 lbs.; Will Millett, Sr. TE/OLB/LS, 6-4, 220 lbs.; Spencer Craig, Sr. QB, 6-2, 205 lbs.
Strengths: Running game; depth and experience on offensive line; special teams return units.
Weaknesses: Lack of game experience at key positions on defense.
Outlook:One of the most talked about players in the state entering this football season will not be playing a down past December. Marblehead’s Brooks Tyrrell is a game-changing athlete both on the gridiron and the lacrosse field, but will stick to the latter when he matriculates to Notre Dame next year. While he’s with the Magicians, Tyrrell presents a multi-faceted threat, allowing Marblehead to run inside out of a single-back set while also presenting a threat as a receiver out of the backfield and across formations. The Magicians’ running attack is also advantaged by a pair of college-grade tackles in recent UMass commit Derek Dumais and fellow senior Dan Marino. Dumais presents a versatile element to Marblehead’s line, as he can play both tackle positions and kick inside to guard. Look for a breakout season from Will Millett, an adept blocker and pass catcher at tight end, who will also be an integral part of the Magicians’ defense at outside linebacker.
-SCOTT BARBOZA

NO. 12 DENNIS-YARMOUTH
Coach: Paul Funk (13th season, 89-45-1)
Last Season: 11-3 (4-2 ACL), lost in Div. 4 State Final
Returning starters: 11 (6 offense, 5 defense)
Key Returnees: Michael Dunn, Sr. QB/DB, 6-1, 200 lbs; L.K. Metz, HB/LB, 5-11, 180 lbs, Andrew Jamiel, JR, SE/DB, 5-9, 145 lbs; Zack Mancini, SR, G/DT, 5-8, 220 lbs; Nick Coelho, SR, C/DE, 6-1, 215 lbs; Chip Evangelista, SR, G/LB, 5-11, 185 lbs.
Strengths: Speed and athleticism, offensive line, linebackers, secondary.
Weaknesses: Defensive line, depth.
Outlook: The 2014 Dolphins will go as far as senior Michael Dunn can carry them, and don’t be surprised if that is a return trip to the Div. 4 Superbowl. D-Y graduated a talented group of seniors in the offseason including most of their offensive backfield, but D-Y seemingly has the ability to mass-produce undersized, yet athletic and speedy skill players that perfectly fit into their read-option scheme. Dunn is the lone exception to the Dolphins undersized nature, sporting a 6-1, 200-pound frame and was the Dolphins main weapon from every offensive skill position last season. But with the departure of QB Spencer Tyler, Dunn will take the majority of snaps under center. Despite the move to primary signal caller, head coach Paul Funk says Dunn will still be a threat across the field, “It wouldn’t surprise me if there were times where [junior quarterback Ian] Crosby was under center and Dunn lines up in the slot. He’s one of those kids who can do it all and him running in our triple option from quarterback is definitely something that we like.” Flanking Dunn in the backfield is L.K. Metz who will likely see a sizable increase in his workload at tailback and split out wide is Andrew Jamiel after a breakout sophomore campaign. D-Y also returns three starters from the offensive line; center Nick Coelho and guards Zack Mancini and Chip Evangelista. The question mark surrounding the Dolphins this year is their defensive line. Typically undersized, 2014 looks to be the same up front for D-Y, but their strength remains in the second and third levels where Metz and Evangelista return at linebacker and for those unfortunate to reach the secondary, will be welcomed by Dunn. Over the past three seasons, the seniors have amassed a 15-1 record at home, but only once in the opening four weeks of the season will they be in the friendly confines of the Lagoon (week two vs. No. 19 Plymouth North) while traveling No. 23 Barnstable, No. 24 Marshfield and Scituate.
-PHIL GARCEAU

NO. 11 WALPOLE
Coach: Barry Greener (6th year, 46-11)
2013: 7-4, lost in Division 3 Southwest Quarterfinals
Returning Starters: 10 (5 offense, 5 defense)
Key Returnees: Steve Cuqua, Jr. RB, 5-10, 185 lbs.; Matt Ordway, Sr. OG, 5-10, 210 lbs.; Andy Papirio, Sr. WR/DB, 5-10, 175 lbs.; Chris Bender, Sr. FB/DE, 6-0, 215 lbs.; Jack Lavanchy, Sr. WR/S, 6-1, 180 lbs.; Lovie Salvant, Jr. RB/ROV, 5-10, 165 lbs.; James Murphy, Sr. LB, 5-10, 185 lbs.; Mike Curran, Jr. LB, 5-6, 175 lbs.
Strengths: Speed, secondary, linebackers.
Weaknesses: Experience at quarterback, depth at running back.
Outlook: After a sophomore season in which he racked up over 1,500 rushing yards –- including his 300-plus yard, six score performance in an overtime epic with rival Natick –- there is a wave of hype beginning to build around Cuqua, who now clocks in the 4.5 range for 40-yard dash and has put on some more muscle in the offseason. “We can run, we’re pretty quick,” Greener said. But the Rebels are thin beyond Cuqua, and are hoping the speedster stays healthy. With the graduation of Will Bolster, the Rebels will have two juniors, Tyler Berkland and Noah Maire, vying for the starting spot under center. Defensively, though, they should be in much better shape after last year's trial by fire. Injuries in the secondary led to a slew of youngsters thrown to the wolves, but what was a deficiency a year ago is arguably now their strongest asset. The Rebels will likely stick to a 4-2-5 to counter many of the spread looks they now see in the Bay State Confernece. Between Lavanchy and Papirio -- the latter considered one of the better man-to-man defenders on Walpole's basketball team -- there is a lot to like. "He's a physical corner -- he'll hit you," Greener said of Papirio. Overall, the Rebels have a solid foundation in the junior and senior classes after enduring injuries to key players a year ago, and look suited make another quality run through the BSC. As usual, October's meeting with Natick could decide the Herget division.
-BRENDAN C. HALL

Top 10 Plays of 2013 MIAA Football Season

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
12:28
AM ET
Saturday's six inaugural MIAA State Championships put a bow on another thrilling season of high school football in Massachusetts. This year was filled with highlight reel-worthy plays, including two that made SportsCenter's "Top 10 Plays" in consecutive months. This year, more than any other year, it felt like there was a deep volume of wild plays and wilder finishes.

Here are my 10 best plays from the 2013 MIAA football season:

(Video clip of play No. 2 is courtesy of The Needham Channel. All other clips are courtesy of HUDL.com)

Honorable Mention -- The Megatron
In case you missed Cody Demers' ridiculous touchdown catch for Central Catholic, our No. 1 play from last Saturday's state championships, here it is again. Because it is that good:
10. Velociraptor Valenza
Foxborough linebacker Luc Valenza, a UMass lacrosse commit, dished out his fair share of violent hits this fall for the Warriors. Arguably none were more brutal, though, than the one he delivered here in the third quarter of their Thanksgiving loss to Mansfield:


9. Behind the Back
This Top 10 list is littered with nifty run-backs, but on pure athleticism, Weymouth sophomore defensive back Matt Long makes a strong case here. Watch as he returns a behind-the-back interception 52 yards to the house in the Wildcats' 49-14 rout of Braintree:


8. Juke 'Em Jahkari
There was a point this season where it seemed like every week, Doherty junior running back Jahkari Carpenter was ripping off a ridiculous run like the 55-yard catch-and-run TD he made here in the D4 Central semifinals against Hudson:


7. Zach's Zig-Zag
As the name implies, watch as Holliston junior Zach Elkinson pounces on an errant pass and, after some shake and bake, puts on the afterburners for a 70-yard interception return touchdown, late in the Panthers' win over Medway:


6. Phone Booth
We've seen some nice-looking one-handed catches from time to time, but none in as tight of quarters as Attleboro tight end Luke Morrison, who reels in this catch with a Xaverian defender sewing him up nicely, in this Division 1 South Final:


5. The Pinball Run
Penn State-bound St. John's Prep tailback Johnathan Thomas led all rushers statistically in Massachusetts through three games, before being lost for the season with a knee injury. It's possible that with a full season we could have dedicated an entire Top 10 entry to his best runs, because we're pretty sure he would have made runs like this 42-yarder in the Eagles' win over Brockton -- in which he breaks about a bajillion tackles -- somewhat routine.


4. The Ed Reed
It takes endurance to pull off interception returns like the one Leominster's Neil O'Connor did here late in the second quarter of the Blue Devils' rout of Wachusett. The state's Gatorade Player of the Year changes direction several times as he takes it 89 yards to the house:


3. The Miracle at Mahar
Strictly reading by box score, this was one of the season's best finishes, as Greenfield evaporated an 18-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation to knock off Mahar, 30-29. But the ending, a 40-yard tip-drill Hail Mary from Connor Eckstrom to Parker Hickey with five seconds left, puts this over the top:


2. Can't Catch Cliff
Needham's Cliff Kurker made national headlines with this 70-yard punt return in a win over Framingham, breaking free of five tacklers after he was thought to initially be stopped on forward progress. He was the talk of the town after this play, which reached No. 1 on SportsCenter's "Top 10":


1. Johnny Unstoppable
This one never gets old. You might go another decade without seeing a play quite like this. Thomas made No. 1 on SportsCenter's "Top 10" after this record-setting 107-yard interception return late in Prep's win over Central Catholic, the longest touchdown in school history.

TVL Large football All-Stars announced

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
2:10
PM ET
The Tri-Valley League Large division today announced its All-Stars and postseason award winners for the football season.

Thanks to Medfield head coach Erik Ormberg for the email sent to local media today.

Coaches or league representatives, across all fall sports, are encouraged send their league All-Star lists to editors Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com) and Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com):

TVL MVP – Bo Berluti, Westwood
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Matt Jeye, Holliston
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Paul Beling, Holliston
LINEMAN OF THE YEAR – Kevin Sheehan, Medway
COACH OF THE YEAR – Dave McSweeney, Medway

-----

ALL-STARS

O-LINE
Austin Barrett #52-Holliston
Jon doCarmo #55-Holliston
Callan Berry #51-Hopkinton
Joey Sears #55-Medfield
Chris Eldridge #52-Westwood

RECEIVERS
Zach Elkinson #3-Holliston
Chris Hanley #24-Westwood

RUNNING BACKS
Anthony Parchesky #23-Medway
Dan Roache #28-Westwood

TIGHT ENDS
Brendan Patterson #44-Westwood

QUARTERBACK
Stephen Ledogar #7-Medfield

D-LINE
Cam Smith #77-Medway
Joe Belomo #30-Holliston
Ryan Demaranis #75-Westwood

LINEBACKER
Tim Huffam #1-Medway
Jordan Jacobs #34-Hopkinton
Scott McManus #56-Westwood
Tom Radonich #53-Westwood

DEFENSIVE BACK
Nick Athy #12-Holliston
Nick D’Aloia #7-Hopkinton
Tommy Sears #5-Medfield
Matt Patry #25-Medfield

ALL-PURPOSE
Jeff Greenberg #17-Medway
Drew Donahue #22-Hopkinton

D4 South final: D-Y 26, Holliston 7

November, 16, 2013
11/16/13
12:50
AM ET
SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. – It wasn’t pretty and it was downright frustrating at times.

In what was expected to be a high scoring affair between two of the best passing offenses in the state, it was the defenses that stole the show in Friday’s Division 4 South title game.

The Dolphin defense picked off Panther quarterback Matt Jeye five times and the offense finally found their stride in the final quarter in a 26-7 victory, clinching a spot in the Division 4 State semifinals.

The Dolphins broke a 7-7 tie with less than five minutes to play on Michael Dunn’s 11-yard scoring run and Spencer Tyler put the game on ice a minute and a half later with a 13-yard scamper.

“We just started off slow,” Tyler said following the victory. “I struggled a little bit, us as a group we weren’t clicking as we’re used to. We knew we had to pick it up in the second half because the defense played a hell of a game.”

The D-Y front four got immense pressure on Jeye all game, resulting in five sacks and countless knockdowns. Defensive end Jake Stafford led his line with three sacks and Kyle Pina and Dan Robels each got to the senior play-caller once.

“They got pressure on him, that was the key to it,” said Panther coach Todd Kiley. “They got pressure with their front four and our guys had a little difficulty getting open. D-Y did a great job, they have great athleticism in the secondary.”

That pressure contributed to the five interceptions. The first came at the end of the first quarter when L.K. Metz jumped an out route on fourth down and returned it to the Panthers’ 38-yard line.

The Holliston defense answered by forcing D-Y to turn the ball over on downs in four plays.

Two plays later, Mike Anderson picked off a pass intended for Paul Beling, giving D-Y the ball at the Holliston 25 yard line. Tyler made the Panthers pay five plays later hooking up with sophomore receiver Andrew Jamiel from 12 yards out. A Drew Tardiff extra point gave the home team a 7-0 lead with eight minutes to play in the second quarter.

“From start of the game to end of the game, I don’t know if anyone had a better game than Andrew Jamiel,” D-Y coach Paul Funk said. “He’s only a sophomore. For a sophomore to step up like this and go both ways, he normally doesn’t do that.”

After the two teams turned the ball over on next two drives, Jeye (9 of 34, 119) yards) had the Panthers on the doorstep of tying the game when the ball took an unfortunate bounce.

With the ball at the Dolphins’ 17 yard line, Jeye went over the middle but the ball was tipped by Tristan O’Leary at the line of scrimmage and fell into the hands of Angelo Hardaway.

Again the Holliston defense made a stop, forcing a punt at midfield. Liam Matheson pinned the Panthers at their own one-yard line and on the following play, Dunn (16 carries, 90 yards) picked off a deep pass down the right side intended for Zach Elkinson and returned it to the Holliston 35.

“I can’t say enough about Mike Dunn,” Funk said “That kid [Elkinson] is one of the best players in the state. He covered him all game on defense and ran the ball as much as we could give it to him on offense. It says a lot about him.”

Put into a tough position third time that quarter, the Holliston defense answered again forcing a turnover on downs.

The Dolphins got the ball to begin the half and were set to double their lead when Holliston caught a break. After going four plays and 46 yards in less than a minute, Corey Desimone (10 rush, 51 yards) fumbled the ball away at the Panther 14-yard line.

After an ugly first half in the passing game, Holliston began to transition to the run game, giving their junior halfback Joe Bellomo a heavier load and looking toward the run-option to move the football.

On their first two drives of the half, the Panthers rushed the ball for 100 yards and tied the game with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter on Bellomo’s nine yard scoring run.

With the momentum at the back of the Panthers their defense forced another D-Y stop and Jeye had the offense clicking. Threatening to take the lead with the ball at the Dolphins 25 yard line, the DY defense stiffened up and forced the turnover on downs.

Dunn broke out a 40-yard run on the following play and scored from 11 yards out seven plays later.

Matheson picked off Jeye for the fifth time on the following drive, and Tyler and Jacob Pawlina scored touchdowns in the final three minutes to finish out the game.

Taking away their weapons: D-Y had not seen a passing offense like this since Barnstable to open their season. To plan for the three and four wide receiver sets that the Panthers run, the Dolphins took some up their own wide receivers to line up on defense.

Making D-Y secondary’s job easier was the outstanding play of the defensive line.

But the Panther wide outs had difficulty getting any separation.

Andrew Jamiel was the standout defensive back for the Dolphins. The sophomore doesn’t play defense but was inserted into the lineup and had himself a game.

“Jamiel was outstanding,” said Funk. “A kickoff return, a touchdown, he made a tackle on the quarterback, great defensive play on fourth and long.”

Mike Anderson drew the tough card of handling Jeye’s favorite target Paul Beling. Beling caught five balls for 67 yards, but was relatively held in check as he longest catch was only 15 yards.

Dunn lined up opposite Elkinson and held him without a catch on the night.

We just kept working on it hard in practice,” Dunn said. “We put a couple receivers that start on offense and I covered them in practice to prepare for [Elkinson]. They only had a couple targets to three and no catches, so I think we worked hard enough in practice and prepared for them well to ruin their game plan.”

That stingy Holliston defense: When Holliston football comes to mind it is their electric pass game that immediately comes to mind. But their defense stole the show.

The Panthers turned the ball over four times in the first half. Three of those Dolphin drives began in Holliston territory. D-Y only got seven points off those four turnovers. Given the circumstances, the defense showed up to play. D-Y was 2-for-14 on third down and had four fourth down stops.

“Our defense played great,” said Kiley. “As poorly as we played, we had a chance in the fourth quarter to close it out.”

Dennis-Yarmouth 26, Holliston 7

H 0 0 7 0 -- 7

DY 0 7 0 19 -- 26

Second Quarter

DY-Andrew Jamiel 12 pass from Spencer Tyler (Drew Tardiff kick), 8:02

Third Quarter

H-Joe Bellomo 9 run (Matt Jeye kick), 2:49

Fourth Quarter

DY-Michael Dunn 11 run (kick fail), 4:30

DY-Spencer Tyler 13 run (rush fail), 2:51

DY-Jacob Pawlina 29 run (Tardiff kick), :27

Mr. Football Watch: Playoffs, Week 2

November, 12, 2013
11/12/13
3:16
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch", following the second weekend of MIAA State Championship Playoffs. As always, coaches and/or statisticians are encouraged to send statistics to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS

Zach Elkinson, Jr. ATH, Holliston
In two playoff games, Elkinson is averaging 16.9 yards per touch. That includes nine carries for 91 yards and four touchdowns, and nine catches for 221 yards and four more scores.

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Threw his 102nd career touchdown pass in Friday night's loss to Barnstable. He needs one more TD pass to tie the state's all-time mark, and he has two more chances, starting this Friday against Needham.

Brendan Hill, Jr. TE, Mansfield
Caught seven passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns in the Hornets' win over Needham.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. RB, Barnstable
Recorded 21 carries for 158 yards and three touchdowns, four catches for 36 yards, 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks in the Red Raiders' 27-13 win over Natick.

Neil O'Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
In two playoff games, he has amassed 487 yards of offense, including 11.2 yards per rush, with seven touchdowns.

Dylan Oxsen, Sr. RB, Plymouth South
Ran for 227 yards and three touchdowns in the Panthers' 21-7 win over Dartmouth, punching their ticket to the D3 Southeast Final.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Carried 23 times for 182 yards and two scores in the Rockets' loss to Mansfield

Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Completed 13 of 16 passes for 193 yards and three scores, and added five carries for 73 yards and two more scores, in the Pioneers' throttling of Marlborough in D2 Central.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Totaled 134 yards of offense and two touchdowns in the Golden Eagles' 35-12 win over Longmeadow

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 14 of 18 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns, in the Hornets' 42-35 win over Needham.

FIVE ON THE RISE

Christian Carr, Jr. RB, Plymouth North
Ran for 351 yards and three touchdowns in the Blue Eagles' win over Dighton-Rehoboth, setting up a much-anticipated battle with cross-town rival Plymouth South for the D3 Southeast Championship this Friday.

Mike Elcock, Sr. WR, Needham
Caught six passes for 148 yards and a score in the Rockets' loss to Mansfield. He leads D2 Eastern Mass with 13 touchdown receptions.

Lubern Figaro, Sr. DB, Everett
The Wisconsin commit came up with two crucial interceptions, and some tremendous defense on top receiver Jack Galvin, in the Crimson Tide's 21-0 shutout of Lowell.

Malik Garrett, Sr. QB, Melrose
Through two playoff games, the dual threat signal-caller has accumulated nearly 550 yards of offense. He has 364 yards rushing and five TDs on just 29 carries, while he is 12-for-20 through the air for 185 yards and two more scores.

Tim Walsh, Attleboro
Led the Blue Bombardiers in rushing with 122 yards on 11 carries, while completing 7 of 11 pass attempts for 146 yards and 3 TD in their Div. 1 South semi-final win over Bridgewater-Raynham.

PLAYOFF LEADERS

Passing
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 528 yards, 5 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 504 yards, 6 TD
Kyle Wisnieski, Sr., Mansfield – 405 yards, 5 TD
Mike Milano, Jr., Central Catholic – 371 yards, 3 TD
Ryan Charter, Sr., Needham – 361 yards, 4 TD
Luke Brennan, Sr., Doherty – 359 yards, 7 TD
Marcus Collins, Jr., Cambridge – 355 yards, 4 TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 338 yards, 7 TD
Dana Parello, Sr., Waltham – 312 yards, 4 TD
Neil O'Connor, Sr., Leominster - 286 yards, 3 TD

Rushing
Dylan Oxsen, Sr., Plymouth South – 577 yards, 7 TD
Christian Carr, Jr., Plymouth North – 551 yards, 7 TD
Alex Givins-Perry, Sr., Bartlett – 477 yards, 3 TD
Mike Panepinto, Sr., Needham – 418 yards, 6 TD
Brooks Tyrrell, Jr., Marblehead – 383 yards, 5 TD
Malik Garrett, Sr., Melrose – 364 yards, 5 TD
Hayden Murphy, Sr., Barnstable – 353 yards, 6 TD
Chris Dumont, Sr., Manchester-Essex - 321 yards, 5 TD
D.J. Engelke, Sr., Pentucket – 299 yards, 3 TD
Kevin Rosado, Jr., Northeast – 284 yards, 6 TD

Receiving
Alex Hilger, Sr., Natick – 278 yards, 4 TD
Mike Elcock, Sr., Needham – 258 yards, 3 TD
Brendan Hill, Jr., Mansfield – 228 yards, 3 TD
Elijah Booker, Sr., Cambridge – 225 yards, 2 TD
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 221 yards, 4 TD

D4 South: Holliston 35, Westwood 20

November, 9, 2013
11/09/13
12:28
AM ET
WESTWOOD, Mass. -– The double overtime loss in early October was still fresh on the mind of Holliston quarterback Matt Jeye leading up to this week’s rematch. After all, if there is one game to win all season, it is over archrival Westwood.

Luckily for the Panthers, they got another shot and they did not let it slip through their grasp. This time is was Holliston celebrating at midfield with hundreds of fans after a thrilling 35-20 victory in the Div. 4 South semifinals.

“I got texts from seniors who graduated last year, alumni all over the place, they are asking me to defeat these guys and I knew I had to do that,” said Jeye.

“Those who graduated 10 years ago up till this team right here came back to see this team get this result,” Holliston coach Todd Kiley said following the game.

It wasn’t easy and it looked like another overtime game was in the forecast. Holliston lead 28-20 with just over three minutes to play and faced a 3rd and 1 from deep inside their own territory when they dialed up something buried deep in the playbook. Lining up in their "War" package, junior Zach Elkinson took an end-around, faked a reverse to Nick Athy and went untouched for 81 yards to seemingly put the game away for the Panthers.

“We put that in because of how they defended the reverse last time. We decided to go to that play because we needed one yard, and actually Zach scored too quickly,” Kiley joked after the game.

But no lead seems to be safe in this rivalry matchup. On the ensuring kickoff, Dan Roache returned the kickoff 70 yards to the Holliston 10 yard line. A big holding penalty and a couple of incompletions followed and the Wolverines turned the ball over on downs, ending the threat as Holliston went into victory formation.

“Until those numbers say zero on the clock, I don’t feel safe,” said Kiley.

Holliston opened the game with a chip on their shoulder. Their defense forced a Wolverine punt on the opening drive, and on their second possession, Westwood quarterback Bo Berluti (20 carries, 186 yards) was hit from behind and the ball popped into Matt McIssac’s hand which was returned 66 yards for the game’s first score.

After the two teams traded 1-yard touchdowns runs in the final five minutes of the half, Holliston threatened to run away with the game. The Panthers opened up the second half with a 6-play, 65-yard drive ending with a 14-yard hookup between Jeye and Elkinson to give the visitors a 21-6 lead and silencing the den.

Westwood needed to figure out the Panthers defense and quick. They looked to their senior quarterback and he answered. Berluti ran the ball six times for 38 yards and then found a wide-open Connor DiVincenzo in the end zone for a 32-yard score, cutting the deficit to 21-12.

The Westwood defense forced a three-and-out and four plays later, with Berluti only needing one-yard on third down, came up with 54 on a keeper up the middle to bring Westwood within one, capturing the momentum for the Wolverines.

With the script all too-familiar for Matt Jeye and the Panthers, they made it a point to win the fourth quarter. And they wasted no time. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jeye found his favorite target, Paul Beling for 72 yards and was forced out of bounds by Corey Hanley.

For a moment it looked as if Hanley saved his team seven points, but on 4th and goal from the 13, Beling made an incredibly athletic play, leaping up from the back of the endzone with the awareness to get his feet inbound for the 28-20 lead.

“That was a huge turning point, said Kiley. “It really speaks volumes about what Matt Jaye is to this football team. He hung in there he got pressed out of the pocket but kept his composure and was able to find Paul in the back of the end zone. Those two have made plays all year long.”

Gutsy performances from Elkinson: The 5-foot-8 junior came down with everything thrown his way, including the flu. But, Elkinson was still determined to play in his team’s biggest game of the season. He showed up to school on Friday for the minimum amount of time needed and went home to get some sleep.

Elkinson didn’t even show up to the game until 15 minutes prior to kickoff. “He slept until he absolutely needed to be here because he didn’t want to let him teammates down,” Kiley said of his star wideout.

And without Elkinson, the Panthers may not have pulled off the upset. He had the clinching 81-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes and added four catches for 71 yards and a score on the receiving end.

“I texted him about 80 times today asking if he would be okay,” Jeye said. “I told him if he played id buy him some soup, some cake whatever he wants.“

Interesting end to first half: Westwood was driving in the final five minutes of the first half, trailing 7-0. The Wolverines ran the ball effectively during the drive when they decided to get cute with the ball. With the ball at the Panther 15 yard line and 15 minutes to play, Westwood came out with a half-back pass that was picked off by Colman Regan (his first of two on the night) at the two-yard line.

With 4:25 remaining and in the shadow of their own goalpost, Holliston came out throwing. The first was incomplete. Again, the Panthers threw the ball and Jeye was picked off at his own five-yard line. On the next play Roache, busted through the line for the first Westwood score of the night.

Two interesting play calls in a vulnerable position on the field. Two interceptions.

When Holliston got the ball back with 4:10 to play Jeye went into his two minute offense. A play to Elkinson for 11 yards and a big pass to Beling for 38 set up the Panthers inside the 10. Jeye called his own number on third and fourth down to get a big score before the end of the half and take the win out of the Wolverines’ sails.

A look ahead to Thanksgiving: Don’t worry, if you missed either of the first two thrillers between these two teams, you’ll get another chance.

For the first time in state football history, the same matchup will occur three times in the same year. These two teams met in divisional play, were matched up in the Division 4 playoffs and will meet again for their annual Thanksgiving rivalry matchup.

Over the past year, this rivalry has been one of the best in the state. In last season’s turkey-day game, with the winner taking the Tri-Valley large football crown and moving onto the playoffs, Westwood crushed Holliston.

In their first meeting this year, Westwood won again in double overtime and then Friday night, Holliston got revenge from last year with a huge playoff win.

“Thanksgiving will always be Thanksgiving and now it will be a rubber match,” Kiley said.

At this point, your guess is as good as mine as to who will take it this year. You have better luck at flipping a coin.


HOLLISTON 35, WESTWOOD 20
HOL -- 7 7 7 14 -- 35
WES -- 0 6 14 0 -- 20


First Quarter
H - Matt McIssac 66 interception return (Matt Jeye kick), 6:57

Second Quarter
W - Dan Roache 1 run (rush fail), 4:20
H - Jeye 1 run (Jeye kick), 1:03

Third Quarter
H - Zach Elkinson 14 pass from Jeye (Jeye kick), 8:27
W - Connor DiVincenzo 32 pass from Bo Berluti (rush failed), 4:08
W - Berluti 54 run (Corey Hanley pass from Bertuli), :10

Fourth Quarter
H - Paul Beling 13 pass from Jeye (Jeye kick), 10:07
H - Elkinson 81 run (Jeye kick), 3:03

Mr. Football Watch: Week 7

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
12:58
AM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 7 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)



THE CONTENDERS*

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Completed 13 of 25 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns, in a 42-19 win over Milton.

Brandon Gallagher, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Carried 24 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, in the Trojans' 20-14 loss to Barnstable.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. RB/WR, Barnstable
In the Red Raiders' thrilling win over Bridgewater-Raynham, carried 14 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 43-yard TD run with less than a minute to go.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils' 40-15 rout of Nashoba, completed 11 of 19 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns, and also had 50 yards rushing with a fourth score.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the Rockets' 33-6 win over Brookline.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Carried 19 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the Crusaders' 34-6 rout of St. Mary's of Lynn.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. RB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Completed 6 of 6 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and added 91 rushing yards with two more scores, in the Pioneers' 34-9 win over Wachusett.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Was 5 of 11 passing for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and added a rushing touchdown, in the Golden Eagles' 34-6 win over Putnam.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 12 of 27 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in the Hornets' 20-7 win over King Philip.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
Boston College commit caught a touchdown pass and threw for another, in the Highlanders' 28-0 shutout of Worcester North.



FIVE ON THE RISE

Emmanuel Almonte, Jr. QB/DB, Boston English
Totaled 254 yards of offense (190 rushing, 64 passing) and three touchdowns in the Blue & Blue's 24-6 win over West Roxbury. Through six games he is one of the state's leading rushers (1,025 yards, 8 TD, 9.5 yards per carry), in directing a read-option attack; he's also the team's leader in tackles (43).

Shaquille Anderson, Sr. RB, Cambridge
Led the way for the Falcons with 219 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in their 34-20 win over Medford.

Dan Henrickson, Sr. WR, St. Peter-Marian
Totaled 123 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Guardians' 14-13 loss to Shepherd Hill.

Chris Lindstrom, Jr. OL/DL, Shepherd Hill
Leading a double-wing rushing attack that has accounted for 1,661 yards, 21 touchdowns and 7.2 yards per carry through six games, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound interior guard has been a road grader so far for the Rams.

Jack Sylvester, Sr. RB, Andover
Carried 14 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns, and also hauled in a 15-yard TD catch, in the Golden Warriors' 49-32 win over Rhode Island power La Salle Academy. In the last weeks, he's gained 402 yards with five touchdowns; on the season, he's averaging 8.3 yards per carry.



TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Chris Ahl, Sr., Millis/Hopedale – 1,098 yards, 14 TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 1,084 yards, 12 TD
Emmanuel Almonte, Jr., Boston English – 1,025 yards, 8 TD
Zered McCoy, Sr., Ware – 963 yards, 7 TD
Rufus Rushins, Jr., Bishop Fenwick – 957 yards, 15 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 662 yards, 10 TD
Nick Thyden, Sr., Quabbin – 643 yards, 9 TD
Jake Bradway, Sr., Belchertown – 638 yards, 7 TD
Dan Henrickson, Sr., St. Peter-Marian – 559 yards, 7 TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 534 yards, 3 TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 2,070 yards, 21 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,617 yards, 26 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,543 yards, 18 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,499 yards, 19 TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 1,320 yards, 15 TD



*Does not include players who had a bye week


Mr. Football Watch: Week 6

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
10:54
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 6 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Completed 15 of 22 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions, in the Redhawks’ 42-10 win over Dedham.

Brandon Gallagher, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Ran for 232 yards and a score, and added a 70-yard touchdown reception, in a 27-7 win over Dartmouth.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. RB/WR, Barnstable
In the Red Raiders' 29-20 comeback win over Marshfield, carried 12 times for 116 yards and a touchdown, and caught two passes for 74 yards and another score.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
Accounted for a season-high 359 yards of offense (287 passing, 72 rushing) and two scores in the Blue Devils' 47-26 win over Doherty.

Dylan Oxsen, Sr. RB, Plymouth South
In the Panthers' 27-7 win over Nauset, carried a personal record 37 times for 243 yards and four touchdowns.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Carried 18 times for 132 yards and a score in the Rockets' 21-0 shutout of Braintree.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Ran for 80 yards and a score in the Crusaders' 48-18 rout of Austin Prep.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. RB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Completed 19 of 33 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the Pioneers' upset loss to cross-town rival Shrewsbury.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Completed 12 of 17 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns in the Golden Eagles’ 40-12 rout of Minnechaug.

Ju’an Williams, Sr. WR, Springfield Central
Caught five passes for 69 yards in the Eagles’ win over Minnechaug.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 13 of 15 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns in the Hornets’ 47-8 rout of Taunton.

FIVE ON THE RISE

Matt Banchs, Sr. FB/LB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils' win over Doherty, recorded 22 tackles and two sacks, and also added 40 yards rushing with a score on offense. Banchs is slowly rising as one of the top defensive players in Central Mass.

Christian Carr, Jr. RB, Plymouth North
In the Eagles' 33-6 win over Falmouth, carried 35 times for 254 yards and four touchdowns, giving him over 700 yards rushing on the season.

Mike Maggipinto, Soph. RB, East Longmeadow
Carried 20 times for 259 yards and five touchdowns in the Spartans’ 40-34 win over Springfield Putnam. He currently leads all Western Mass. running backs in rushing touchdowns (13).

James Sullivan, Jr. RB/DB, Tewksbury
Collected three of the Redmen’s four interceptions, while adding 75 yards on nine carries with a touchdown on offense vs. Methuen.

Miguel Villar-Perez, Jr. RB, Mansfield
Caught three passes for 95 yards and a touchdown in the Hornets’ 47-8 win over Taunton. Through five games he has 575 yards of offense as a pass-catching running back, with eight touchdowns.

TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 950 yards, 11 TD
Brooks Tyrrell, Jr., Marblehead – 931 yards, 9 total TD
Chris Ahl, Sr., Millis/Hopedale – 895 yards, 11 TD
Dylan Oxsen, Sr., Plymouth South – 852 yards, 14 total TD
Zered McCoy, Sr., Ware – 843 yards, 5 TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 1,680 yards, 17 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,372 yards, 17 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,360 yards, 22 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,298 yards, 13 TD
Ryan Barabe, Jr., Pope John Paul II – 1,255 yards, 14 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 513 yards, 14 total TD
Jake Bradway, Jr., Belchertown – 489 yards, 7 TD
Brian Daly, Jr., Marblehead – 487 yards, 10 TD
T.J. Hairston, Jr., Watertown – 472 yards, 5 TD
Jack Galvin, Sr., Lowell – 438 yards, 8 TD

Mr. Football Watch: Week 5

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
5:45
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 5 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS*

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Boston College commit completed 14 of 27 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns, and added 47 yards on the ground, in a 28-0 shutout of Norwood.

Brendan Hill, Jr. TE, Mansfield
Caught four passes for 76 yards and a score in the Hornets’ 49-42 win over Attleboro.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. ATH, Barnstable
Ran for 115 yards and three touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ 35-14 win over New Bedford.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB/S, Leominster
In just one half of football in the Blue Devils’ 34-0 shutout of Wachusett, accounted for 201 yards of offense and capped things off with a nifty 90-yard interception return to the house.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns in the Rockets’ 34-12 win over Framingham.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Carried 24 times for 233 yards and four touchdowns in the Crusaders’ commanding 42-20 rout of Cardinal Spellman.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. QB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
In the Pioneers’ 49-21 win over Nashoba, completed 23 of 29 passes for 335 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and added 67 rushing yards.

Cody Williams, Sr., Springfield Central
Monmouth commit completed 13 of 18 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and added 118 yards and a third score on the ground, in the Golden Eagles’ 19-7 win over Longmeadow.

Ju’an Williams, Sr., Springfield Central
Caught five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown in the Golden Eagles’ 19-7 win over Longmeadow

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 19 of 28 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns in the Hornets’ 49-42 thriller over Attleboro.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
Recorded a touchdown catch, his second of the year, in the Highlanders’ 40-12 rout of Worcester South. Through four games he is averaging 30.9 yards per catch, and has recorded 37 tackles on defense.


FIVE ON THE RISE

Bo Berluti, Sr. QB, Westwood
Accounted for 255 yards of offense and three total touchdowns in the Wolverines’ 43-41 double-overtime epic over archrival Holliston. But it will be his gutsy 25-yard, fourth and goal TD pass in the second overtime that will go down in folklore.

Derrell Fernandez, Sr. RB, Weymouth
Carried 225 times for 264 yards and five touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 42-18 win over Brookline.

Mike McGillicuddy, Sr. WR, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
The elusive slot receiver caught nine passes for 113 yards in the Pioneers’ 49-21 win over Nashoba.

Tom Rodrick, Sr. LB, Leicester
The UConn commit recorded 12 tackles, a sack, and blocked field goal in the Wolverines’ 15-6 win over Auburn.

Alex Valles, Sr. RB, Danvers
Carried 24 times for 211 yards and three scores in the Falcons’ 20-12 win over Revere.


TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Brooks Tyrrell, Jr., Marblehead – 889 yards, 9 total TD
Johnathan Thomas, Sr., St. John’s Prep – 748 yards, 8 total TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 760 yards, 8 TD
Olan Abner, Sr., Bedford – 733 yards, 7 TD
Christian Perez, Sr., Northeast – 725 yards, 8 total TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 1,230 yards, 19 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,086 yards, 14 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,072 yards, 11 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,035 yards, 17 TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 955 yards, 11 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 405 yards, 7 TD
Brian Daly, Sr., Marblehead – 395 yards, 8 TD
Dan Henrickson, Sr., St. Peter-Marian – 380 yards, 5 TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 371 yards, 2 TD
Mike Bombard, Sr., Chicopee Comp – 369 yards, 3 TD

Dual Threat
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 1,230 passing yards, 284 rushing yards, 21 total TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,035 passing yards, 316 rushing yards, 18 total TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,072 passing yards, 167 rushing yards, 14 total TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) 955 passing yards, 169 rushing yards, 16 total TD
Cody Williams, Sr., Springfield Central – 851 passing yards, 254 rushing yards, 13 total TD



*Not including teams who were idle last weekend.


WESTWOOD, Mass. – At the end of a double-overtime, 43-41 win over archrival and traditional Thanksgiving Day foe Holliston, firework shells exploded overhead Westwood quarterback Bo Berluti.

It was the eve of “Westwood Day” and it appeared the entire populous of the leafy suburb had spilled out onto the turf at Flahive Field. Encircling Berluti was a gaggle of pint-sized youth football players, chanting, “Bo! Bo! Bo!”

The postgame fireworks were merely a coincidence, prompting one parent in passing to comment: “This would’ve had a different feel had they lost.” But they didn’t. All together, it seemed as though the Wolverines had already lost several times over. Yet, somehow, they avoided demise at every turn.

Like Robert Redford rounding the bases under popping stadium lights in “The Natural,” it was pure magic, and the Wolverines’ star receiver-turned-signal-caller had a hand in it all.

The ball was in Berluti’s hands on the two-point conversion to tie the game with less than a minute to play in regulation.

It was in his hands when Westwood faced certain loss with a fourth-down situation and 25 yards to go. And, when Berluti somehow dialed up the perfect touchdown play to Chris Hanley to tie the game once again, he took it into his own hands to finish the job, converting his third two-point conversion try of the game.

“The composure that kid had at the end was just unbelievable,” senior running back/defensive back Dan Roache said of Berluti. “And Chris Hanley, it’s his first year playing varsity, comes up huge. It’s just hard to describe it right now.”

Berluti accounted for three touchdowns total (two passing, one rushing) and factored directly in 24 of the Wolverines’ 43 points. He ran for 166 yards on 29 carries, while throwing for 89 yards.

Of course, it wasn’t a one-man production. Roache was a wrecking ball in between the tackles, rushing for 160 yards on 30 carries with three touchdowns. He initiated contact and, oftentimes, was seen carrying a gang of would-be Panthers tacklers draped on his shoulders.

But there was something more to this victory, some kind of universal accord that, no matter what the situation, Westwood (3-1, 2-0 Tri-Valley League) simply was not to lose.

Holliston (4-1, 1-1) overcame a 15-0 deficit to earn its first lead early in the third quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Nick Athy. The Panthers proceeded to make it a two-possession game on Matthew Jeye’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Zach Elkinson (his second of three).

On the evening, Jeye completed 12 of 26 pass attempts for 270 yards.

But, not to be outdone, Berluti clawed the Wolverines closer with perhaps his biggest play of the night, ripping off a zig-zagging 53-yard touchdown run to make it 29-21 Holliston with 2:36 to play in the third.

Westwood tied the game in regulation on the heels of a 16-play, 67-yard drive, kick started on a Chris Eldridge fumble recovery. The drive culminated in Roache’s 1-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal with 21 seconds remaining.

Roache went on to score his third touchdown of the game in the opening overtime session, battling across the line from two yards out. However, Westwood’s 2-point conversion run by Berluti fell a yard short.

The Panthers promptly answered on Jeye’s 4-yard touchdown run, but let a chance to win the game slip through their fingers on a missed point-after try.

Holliston also scored on the next possession, with Jeye hitting Elkinson on a 10-yard pass. But again, a missed two-point try opened the door for the Wolverines.

The ensuing Westwood possession was an unmitigated disaster. The series unfolded with a holding penalty wiping out a certain Roache touchdown run, a run for a 3-yard loss followed by a 3-yard gain and a false start penalty.

That left Berluti staring down one last chance at the end zone from 25 yards away.

“We’d practiced that route all week,” Berluti said. “We knew that when we gave them that formation they had nobody in the middle of the field. So I looked at him, gave him the sign – usually, he gives me the sign. And I said, ‘Chris Hanley, I want this.’ And he made a great catch. My line gave me all the time in the world, so really it was the perfect storm.”

And that set the stage for Berluti’s two-point dash.

“The snap before, we went up there with no intention of snapping the ball, but we wanted to see what kind of look they were going to give us,” he added.

Then, Berluti found some open running space and, at long last, victory.

Missed chances: The Panthers have more than a few chances to salt away the victory at various stages of regulation and beyond.

After a potentially deflating last-minute score by the Wolverines, Holliston zoomed downfield on the final possession of regulation. Aided by a 50-yard connection from Jeye to Athy, the Panthers found themselves in field goal range with seconds remaining. However, Jeye’s 34-yard field goal attempt fell shy of the crossbar and the teams soldiered on to overtime.

The kicking game again cost Holliston in the first overtime period. After Jeye’s 4-yard scamper tied the score, 35-all, a botched point-after try kept the game alive.

After another Elkinson touchdown reception in double overtime, the Panthers’ 2-point conversion attempt (their only failed conversion of the game) fell short, setting the scene for Westwood’s final act.

“Our kids battled tonight,” Holliston head coach Todd Kiley said. “We’re a young team, we have four seniors. We played one of the most talented teams in the state, a senior-laden team, and we were down 15-0 – most teams would’ve folded.”

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