High-SchoolMassachusetts: Armani Reeves

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Whether you're putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you're making that special list for Santa, there's nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we're bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: Massachusetts A-Listers

What is an A-Lister? In Hollywood, it's the George Clooney and Julia Roberts crowd. In the NFL, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are A-Listers. In the NBA, it’s LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. The A-List is the best of the best. So which athletes can be considered A-Listers in Massachusetts this year? That’s where today’s list comes in. Regardless of sport, here’s our list of the top five A-List athletes in the state.

Jonathan DiBiaso
Everett, Football
Credentials: Named 2011 Gatorade State Player of the Year after throwing state-record 44 touchdown passes; threw 43 TD passes in 2010; led Everett to Super Bowl championships in 2010 and 2011.

Ryan Fitzgerald, Junior
Malden Catholic, Hockey
Credentials: Led MC to Super Eight championship last year; tough call between Fitzgerald and senior teammate Brendan Collier, but Fitzgerald's 24 goals and 42 assists in 2010-11 were tops on the team. Committed to Boston College.

Jake Layman, Senior
King Philip, Basketball
Credentials: Ranked No. 53 nationally in the ESPNU 100; averaged 24.6 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.6 blocks last year; committed to Maryland.

Armani Reeves, Senior
Catholic Memorial, Football
Credentials: Named ESPN Boston Offensive Player of the Year after running for 1,001 yards and scoring 15 total touchdowns; committed to Penn State.

Rhett Wiseman, Senior
BB&N, Baseball
Credentials: A potential first-round draft pick, Wiseman batted .447 with 11 home runs and 29 steals last year; committed to Vanderbilt.

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Tomorrow: The top underclassman football players from Massachusetts.

Think I missed someone who should be on the A-List? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and make your case.

DiBiaso wins Gatorade POY

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
12:59
PM ET
Last year, Jonathan DiBiaso helped his Everett teammate Matt Costello win the Gatorade State Player of the Year award. This time around, DiBiaso is the winner after breaking his own Massachusetts record for touchdown passes in a season and leading Everett back to the Super Bowl.

DiBiaso, a senior quarterback, has tossed 44 TD passes and thrown for 2,731 yards through 12 games, all Everett wins. He's also the state's all-time leader in touchdown passes with 103.

There were other strong candidates for the award — including Duxbury senior QB Matt O'Keefe and Catholic Memorial senior WR/RB Armani Reeves. But I think the Gatorade guys got this one right. DiBiaso has capped off a truly great career with his best season, and that makes him a worthy winner in my book. Now let's see if he can finish it off with another Super Bowl championship on Saturday.

To see the complete rundown of DiBiaso credentials, click here.

To see all the winners from every state, click here.

Mr. Football down to five finalists

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
4:35
PM ET
ESPN Boston announced the five finalists for the 2011 Mr. Football award today, and the names on the list should sound very familiar.

Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso is a finalist, and he's joined by Duxbury quarterback Matt O'Keefe, Catholic Memorial running back/receiver Armani Reeves, Chelmsford linebacker Tim Joy and Putnam running back Melquawn Pinkney.

At this point, I'd have to single out DiBiaso as the frontrunner. He's leading the No. 1 team in the state, and he's arguably having an even better year than he did in 2010, when he set the state's single-season TD pass record. Here's what the ESPN Boston story has to say about Dibs:
The returning All-Stater more than lived up to his hype so far in the 2011 season, breaking the state's all-time mark of 85 career touchdown passes late last month. And with as many as three games left on the slate, he could not only put it into triple-digits (he currently has 97), but out of reach. Through 10 games for the undefeated No. 1 Crimson Tide, he has completed 148 of 250 passes for 2,407 yards and 38 touchdowns to just six interceptions. Since the start of the 2010 season, DiBiaso has thrown 81 touchdown passes to just 10 interceptions.

You also have to be impressed with the season Pinkney is having. The senior has already rushed for 2,113 yards and 33 touchdowns. Maybe it's because of an EMass bias (I admit, I've seen a lot more of DiBiaso than I have of Pinkney), but if pressed for a vote right now I'd cast it for DiBiaso.

Thankfully, there's still a lot of football to be played.

To read the complete ESPN Boston story, click here.
The high school football slate is kicking off with a bang tonight, as a pair of Division 1 Super Bowl hopefuls clash in Dorchester. No. 6 Brockton brings its power rushing game to No. 3 BC High. This game traditionally comes down to the fourth quarter, and I expect another tight one this time around. Both teams are talented and loaded with veterans at key spots — in short, either one of these teams could raise the Super Bowl trophy in December.

The Game:
No. 6 Brockton at No. 3 BC High
Friday, 7 p.m.

The Players:
BC High — The Eagles are led by a pair of top skill players in senior RB Preston Cooper and senior TE Jameson McShea. Cooper ran for more than 1,500 yards last season to earn Catholic Conference MVP honors, while McShea is an ESPNHS All-State first team selection.
Brockton — Senior QB Paul Mroz was good last year, throwing 12 TD passes and running for eight more. With a deep array of weapons around him this season, he could see his production explode.

The Stakes:
The winner of this game will probably be considered the early favorite to take home the Division 1 Super Bowl.

The Prediction:
Brockton might field the best defense BC High will face all season, but I think the Eagles will be able to move the ball in spurts. I see two, maybe three touchdown drives, mostly powered by Cooper. The shifty back is dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield, and he's as difficult to tackle as anyone in the state. I think Brockton's defense can eventually wear down BC's front, and passing the ball will be risky in the fourth quarter. A big turnover could turn the game for Brockton, but if BC High is smart with the ball, I think the Eagles hold on to a tight lead. Brockton's offense has potential, but there are too many moving parts and it's too early in the season. The Boxers will get better, but they don't have the firepower to mount a late drive in this game. BC HIGH 15, BROCKTON 13

Other notable games

Leominster at No. 1 Everett
Everett's defense will be tested by Leominster's new spread attack, but the Crimson Tide have the athletes to get it done. Jonathan DiBiaso kicks off his senior season in style, tossing four TDs. EVERETT 35, LEOMINSTER 7

Bridgewater-Raynham at No. 2 Duxbury
Everything is in place for Duxbury to enjoy one of the best seasons in program history. It starts with a convincing win over a tough, tough B-R squad. DUXBURY 26, BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM 10

No. 4 Catholic Memorial at Marshfield
We're excited to see the CM offense in action, as it's not often that an EMass team trots out multiple Division I recruits. An Armani Reeves kick/punt return blows this one open. CATHOLIC MEMORIAL 24, MARSHFIELD 17

North Andover at No. 7 Andover
The Andrew Coke show is back for another season. He drops 160-plus and the Golden Warriors roll. ANDOVER 38, NORTH ANDOVER 14

No. 10 Auburn at Shrewsbury
If you're waiting for me to pick against Auburn, it's already been over a decade. The Rockets continue the fourth-longest winning streak in the nation, running it up to 37. AUBURN 20, SHREWSBURY 14

Draft day: Picking the state's best

September, 7, 2011
9/07/11
2:01
PM ET
Just for fun, I thought we'd take a different approach to our 2011 football preview. Instead of going through the top players in Massachusetts one by one, why not stage a mock fantasy draft? We rounded up 10 GMs willing to play along — a group made up of ESPNHS staff, ESPNBoston gurus and even a couple of the state's top players. After a lottery to determine the order, we jumped right in. Of course, there is no league and we probably just wasted a lot of time, but it was an amusing way to waste it. And big thanks to Nick LaSpada and Jonathan DiBiaso, two of the state's hardest-working QBs, for taking part in this. Here are the Round 1 results:

1st Annual ESPNHS Massachusetts Mock Fantasy Football Draft

Round 1, Pick 1
GM: Matt Remsberg, ESPNHS senior editor
Selection: WR/RB Armani Reeves — Catholic Memorial, Sr.
Strategy: I was tempted to take Billerica's Nick LaSpada or Everett's Jonathan DiBiaso here, but I'm reluctant to take a QB in the first round of any fantasy draft — even fake high school fantasy drafts. I love Reeves' versatility, and the Penn State commit should rack up the TDs this season.

Round 1, Pick 2
GM: Brandon Parker, ESPNHS associate editor
Selection: QB Jonathan DiBiaso — Everett, Sr.
Strategy: I normally don't like taking quarterbacks this high either, but it's hard to look past the numbers DiBiaso put up last year. The two times I've won fantasy football titles, quarterbacks have been critical (hello Tom Brady in 2007), and after DiBiaso's junior campaign of 43 scores and just four interceptions, I like this kid running the show for my squad.

Round 1, Pick 3
GM: Chris Parish, ESPNHS associate editor
Selection: RB George Craan — Concord-Carslisle, Sr.
Strategy: Normally I'd take LaSpada, but I really want to see if he picks himself. So instead I'm going with George Craan. He's got perfect size to dominate at 5-11 and 210 pounds, and his numbers last season don't lie. He'll go for more than 2,000 yards this year and I think he'll find the end zone 26 or 27 times, and you can't ignore numbers like those in a fantasy draft.

Round 1, Pick 4
GM: Nick LaSpada, Billerica QB/2009 Gatorade POY
Selection: QB Nick LaSpada — Billerica, Sr.
Strategy: I really like my skill position players this year, and our offense has been working hard to be ready for the start of the season. If our team is playing well, the numbers will be there. And I feel I can change games on both offense and defense.

Round 1, Pick 5
GM: Scott Barboza, ESPNBoston editor/reporter
Selection: LB Tim Joy — Chelmsford, Sr.
Strategy: They say championships are built on defense right? Well, Joy will hope to lead the Lions to a Merrimack Valley Large title this year. The BC commit is an imposing presence at 6-2, 220 pounds and is a tackling machine with 131 stops last year.

Round 1, Pick 6
GM: Brendan Hall, ESPNBoston reporter/editor
Selection: QB Paul Mroz — Brockton, Sr.
Strategy: In my opinion, the most underrated passer in New England. They grow up quick in the City of Champions, and it's hard not to root for this kid after everything he's been through off the field. I definitely want this kid in the clutch — he's a natural leader.

Round 1, Pick 7
GM: Jonathan DiBiaso, Everett QB
Selection: RB Andrew Coke — Andover, Sr.
Strategy: I played against Andrew last season and trained with him over the summer. He's a tough, hard-nosed runner with great vision, and in the open field I don't see anyone catching him from behind. Andover runs an offense that is built around him, and like he did last season, I see him putting up monster numbers this fall.

Round 1, Pick 8
GM: David Auguste, ESPNHS associate editor
Selection: RB Preston Cooper — BC High, Sr.
Strategy: I was immediately sold on this kid, and I'm ecstatic he fell to me at No. 8. I watched a play last year where Cooper flattened an oncoming corner with a stiff arm, juked a linebacker out of his cleats with a nasty cutback, then reversed field for a touchdown. It's those kinds of runs that lead me to believe he will improve on last year's 1,500-yard campaign. CHAMPIONSHIP!

Round 1, Pick 9
GM: Mike Grimala, ESPNHS associate editor
Selection: RB Karl Sery — Hudson, Sr.
Strategy: I'm a CMass guy, so you know I'm going outside 495 for my first pick. Sery ran for more than 1,400 yards last year, and most of his offensive line returns intact this season. I think he's a good bet to run for 20-plus touchdowns, and if he adds a few more TDs on interception returns, hey I'll take those too. Now I just have to hope there's a good QB available in the next round.

Round 1, Pick 10
GM: Jon Mahoney, ESPNHS senior editor
Selection: QB A.J. Doyle — Catholic Memorial, Sr.
Strategy: As a BC High Alum, it pains me to pick a CM kid. But North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien knows his quarterbacks (ever heard of Matt Ryan or Russell Wilson?), so if this kid's good enough for the Wolfpack, he's good enough for my team. And with Armani Reeves as his top target, I expect a big year out of Doyle.

For Round 2 results, click here.

Have a suggestion for my pick? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).
It's time to unveil our All-State football team, as featured in the September issue of ESPNHS (plus an additional 50 top players). It's no shock to see Everett with three players on the first team, but it is somewhat surprising that Catholic Memorial leads the way with four selections, most of any team. All four players (A.J. Doyle, Armani Reeves, Camren Williams and Donovan Henry) are Division I recruits.

The team is based on projected on-field performance and accomplishments, not necessarily recruiting potential. To see the state's top football recruits, click here. The first team quarterbacks are posted here, with the complete All-State team listed after the jump. Disagree with any of my picks? Unlikely, but let me know about it in the comments or on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

ESPNHS Massachusetts All-State Football

First Team

Offense

Jonathan DiBiaso, Everett, QB, Senior
Looking for second straight state championship

A.J. Doyle, Catholic Memorial, QB, Senior
Strong-armed passer is headed to North Carolina State

Nick LaSpada, Billerica, QB, Senior
Most dangerous player in the state with the ball in his hands

Read More »

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