High-SchoolMassachusetts: Football

The past 12 months have been interesting, to say the least. To help us break down everything that happened in 2011 (and look forward to 2012), we're bringing in some experts.

Everett football won its second consecutive Super Bowl this season, and no two players were more valuable than senior quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso and junior offensive lineman John Montelus. DiBiaso broke the state record for passing touchdowns (again), and Montelus was there to make sure his quarterback had a clean pocket to do it from.

We asked the duo about the best of 2011, and they gave us the answers.

* Players' responses are in Everett Crimson.

THE VERY BEST OF 2011

Best High School Team
DiBiaso:
I may be biased, but I'd say us. We won every single game by double digits, and every fourth quarter just came down to us running the clock out. Overall I think we scored with a really exciting offense, and we did it by throwing and spreading it out, which you don't see a lot in Massachusetts.
Montelus: Everett, of course.

Best High School Athlete
DiBiaso:
I'd say Pat Connaughton. He was a two-sport athlete and went to a Division I school in Notre Dame for basketball and baseball. I know how hard it is to do it for one sport, so doing it for two is incredible.
Montelus:
Preston Cooper from BC High. He's was probably the best athlete I saw this season at running back. I felt bad for him because he tore his ankle and it's going to take a lot to come back. But he's a great athlete.

Your Best Moment of 2011 (On the field)
DiBiaso:
The Super Bowl game was probably my best moment. It was the last game for me playing in Everett, and it was a really exciting game. It was an emotional game for me.
Montelus: Definitely winning the Super Bowl this year.

Your Best Moment of 2011 (Off the field)
DiBiaso:
I'd say probably getting my first offer. I was just hanging out with my friends on a random day, and the coach from Harvard called and said they were going to offer me. It really was a weight off my shoulders. I worked hard for it, so that was probably my best moment.
Montelus: Getting my first scholarship offer at the end of the summer. UConn offered me.

Your New Year's Resolution (On the field)
DiBiaso:
Right now I play on the basketball team and we're 0-4, so winning a game and making the tournament would be my goal. It's been a shaky start. We've lost more games to start the season than in my entire football career, so we have to turn it around.
Montelus: To get bigger. I want to try to reach 300 pounds and get more offers.

Your New Year's Resolution (Off the field)
DiBiaso:
Just setting a good example and doing things the right way.
Montelus: I want to focus on getting my GPA up.

Pro Athlete of the Year
DiBiaso:
Tim Tebow. I think he brings a lot of excitement to the NFL. With all those comebacks, people were wondering if it was coming from heaven and bringing them life in the fourth quarter. And come the fourth quarter, it's all over Twitter and Facebook -- Everyone would have Tebow statuses.
Montelus: I gotta go with Ndamukong Suh. He's just a dominant player down on the line.

Best Pro Championship Team
DiBiaso:
I'm not a big Boston fan, but living here and seeing the hype and excitement around the Bruins, that was one of the biggest stories of the year. They didn't win it for so long, but they made Boston a hockey city again.
Montelus: Definitely the Packers, because half the team was injured and they still managed to pull it out. No one expected Aaron Rodgers to be this good, but he's one of the best in the game.

Most Memorable Game
DiBiaso:
The NBA Finals. With all the hype and anticipation from the Heat forming a dream team, then Wade and LeBron making fun of Dirk before the game, it was just a lot of drama. Then the Mavs came out and shut them up and made a lot of NBA fans happy. They proved it's not always the best players that win, it's the best team.
Montelus: The most interesting game I watched was the Seahawks and the Saints in last year's playoffs. I was at home watching with my cousin, and we were just going crazy.

The one story you want to leave in 2011
DiBiaso:
I'm kind of sick of AAU sports. Basketball is big up here, but there's a lot of kids in my area who don't stay in public schools. They play AAU and go to prep schools, which aggravates me because I'd rather play for my own city and have pride in where I come from.
Montelus: I'm tired of listening to Tim Tebow. All you hear is Tebow talk, and in my opinion he's just an OK quarterback. He's not Drew Brees or Tom Brady, but on SportsCenter it's Tebow this and Tebow that. It's enough.

Disagree with the Best of 2011? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and make your case.
Across the country, the high school football season is now complete, and Massachusetts football champs join the list of state champions in every classification throughout the nation.

To see the full list of state champions as well as how Massachusetts stacks up, click here.
5

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

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: The top underclassmen in high school football.

The state championships are over and the Class of 2012 had a great run, but it’s never too early to start looking at the impressive players in the Class of 2013 and beyond. Who’s going to rule the gridiron in Massachusetts next season? We give you the early rundown of who to watch for.

5. Devante Sewell (SO), Springfield Commerce, RB
Credentials: Ran for 1,160 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns this season, with seven games of 100-plus yards

4. Troy Flutie (SO), Natick, QB
Credentials: Dual threat passed for 2,018 yards and 21 touchdowns and ran for 1,100 yards and 11 TDs

3. Luke Catarius (JR), BC High, LB
Credentials: Led BC High to an EMass Division 1 Super Bowl title by making 129 tackles (24 tackles for loss)

2. John Montelus (JR), Everett, OL
Credentials: 6-foot-5, 295-pound left tackle already has offers from UConn, Virginia and NC State

1. Maurice Hurst Jr. (JR), Xaverian, DL
Credentials: May be the most explosive, destructive player in the state next year; finished 2011 with 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks, and also rushed for more than 200 yards in one game

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

Tomorrow: The POWERADE Massachusetts Weekly Basketball Rankings.

Did I miss someone who should be on the list? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and let me know about it.
5

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

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.

ESPN Boston has spotlighted the controversial call in the EMass Division 4 Super Bowl as its "Hot Button" issue of the week. Brendan Hall and Scott Barboza debate whether or not the call should have been made, and you can speak your mind by voting or leaving a comment. When I last checked, the vast majority of voters (more than 90 percent) thought it was a bad call.

I've only voted 10 times.

Click here to check out the ESPN Boston "Hot Button" page.

Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala). It's fun!
The MIAA and the officials working the EMass Division 4 Super Bowl have been getting hammered by the national media for a questionable (VERY questionable, in my opinion) celebration penalty that may have altered the outcome of the game. Today, the MIAA released a statement defending the way things went down.

For the unfamiliar, Cathedral quarterback Matt Owens appeared to give his team the lead with a 56-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. But Owens slightly extended his arm before crossing the goal line, and officials flagged him for premature celebration. The TD was negated, Cathedral turned the ball over shortly thereafter, and Blue Hills went on to win the game, 16-14.

Here's a portion of the MIAA's statement:
At the start of the season the MIAA and football officials took comprehensive measures to ensure that everyone understood this rule. In fact, the officials at this game reminded the captains and coaches that there would be zero tolerance for any unsportsmanlike actions. Likewise, this message was communicated in the pre-playoff game administrative meeting, as well as the MIAA’s Super Bowl Breakfast with coaches and captains.

And later, we get this fun little life lesson:
Losing a game or having an official’s call go against you or your team are all part of sports. Just like athletes and coaches, officials try hard to do the best job possible. Athletes must learn to put these things behind them and move forward. During their lifetime they will experience similar situations where they feel “wronged” by a superior or authority figure and they must learn to deal with that situation.

Gee, thanks for that.

To see video of the play and the penalty in question, click here.

To read the complete MIAA statement (in PDF form), click here.

Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala). It's fun!


That's the debate today, as one of the crazier stories to emerge from this past weekend's Super Bowls is starting to gain momentum in the national media.

The controversy centers on Cathedral senior quarterback Matt Owens, who appeared to score the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of the EMass Division 4 Super Bowl. Owens broke free for an apparent 56-yard TD run with about six minutes left, but once he broke into the clear around the 25 yard line, he briefly raised his left arm in celebration (check out the video above).

That act of premature celebration technically violated MIAA rules, and the officials flagged Owens for a personal foul. The TD didn't count, and Cathedral ended up not scoring on the drive. Blue Hills held on for a 16-14 win.

Was the call correct? I guess so. But does anyone benefit from the rule being enforced so strictly? The entire Cathedral program feels like they were lawyered out of the school's first Super Bowl title. And I doubt the Blue Hills program feels much better. I'm sure every Blue Hills player wanted the chance to win the title on the field, not have it handed to them undeservedly on a technicality.

It's like there really was no winner.

Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala). It's fun!

DiBiaso named ESPN Boston Mr. Football

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
2:51
PM ET
Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso has been named Mr. Football by ESPN Boston after breaking his own state record for touchdown passes in a season. DiBiaso, a senior, tossed 44 TDs this season while leading Everett to its second consecutive Super Bowl championship. He threw 43 touchdown passes last year.

To read the complete story from ESPN Boston, click here.
After almost four months, we've finally reached the end of football season. And as far as the POWERADE state rankings are concerned, the 2011 campaign went pretty much the way we all expected. Everett opened the season at No. 1, and after dispatching Lincoln-Sudbury in the EMass Division 1A Super Bowl, the Crimson Tide finish at No. 1.

Duxbury went wire-to-wire in the No. 2 spot, going undefeated and claiming the EMass Division 2 Super Bowl title. And BC High, which opened at No. 3, finished up a 10-3 season by winning the EMass Division 1 Super Bowl.

Auburn, the highest-ranked team from outside of EMass, finishes the year ranked No. 4. Though the Rockets saw their 41-game winning streak snapped this season, Auburn went 12-1 and won the CMass Division 3 Super Bowl.
  1. Everett (13-0) — Defeated Lincoln-Sudbury, 36-12 (last week: No. 1)
  2. Duxbury (13-0) — Defeated Tewksbury, 35-0 (last week: No. 2)
  3. BC High (10-3) — Defeated Needham, 21-7 (last week: No. 3)
Click here for complete POWERADE state rankings.
Quick picks for Saturday's Super Bowl games. Check back afterward for game breakdowns.

EASTERN MASS

Division 1
BC High (9-3) vs. Needham (9-3)
BC HIGH 32, NEEDHAM 14

Division 1A
Lincoln-Sudbury (11-1) vs. Everett (12-0)
EVERETT 42, LINCOLN-SUDBURY 14

Division 2
Duxbury (12-0) vs. Tewksbury (7-5)
DUXBURY 28, TEWKSBURY 20

Division 2A
Wakefield (10-2) vs. Dennis-Yarmouth (12-0)
DENNIS-YARMOUTH 35, WAKEFIELD 17

Division 3
Concord-Carlisle (12-0) vs. Oliver Ames (7-4)
CONCORD-CARLISLE 24, OLIVER AMES 14

Division 3A
Bourne (12-0) vs. Hamilton-Wenham (11-0)
BOURNE 14, HAMILTON-WENHAM 13 (OT)

Division 4
Cardinal Spellman (12-0) vs. Mashpee (12-0)
CARDINAL SPELLMAN 20, MASHPEE 14

Division 4A
Blue Hills (11-1) vs. Cathedral (12-0)
BLUE HILLS 28, CATHEDRAL 13

Division 5
Latin Academy (7-4) vs. Nantucket (9-2)
NANTUCKET 14, LATIN ACADEMY 3
CENTRAL MASS

Division 1
Leominster (9-3) vs. St. John's of Shrewsbury (8-4)
LEOMINSTER 24, ST. JOHN'S (SHREWSBURY) 14

Division 2
Holy Name (8-4) vs. Nashoba (12-0)
NASHOBA 20, HOLY NAME 13

Division 3
Hudson (9-3) vs. Auburn (11-1)
AUBURN 28, HUDSON 20

Division 4
Northbridge (7-5) vs. Southbridge (8-4)
NORTHBRIDGE 31, SOUTHBRIDGE 14

Division 5
Clinton (6-6) vs. Leicester (8-4)
CLINTON 7, LEICESTER 6

Division 6
Bay Path (10-2) vs. Assabet (11-1)
ASSABET 30, BAY PATH 21
WESTERN MASS

Division 1
Longmeadow (10-2) vs. Springfield Central (10-2)
SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL 22, LONGMEADOW 14

Division 2
Springfield Commerce (8-4) vs. Putnman (11-1)
PUTNAM 28, SPRINGFIELD COMMERCE 13

Division 3
Lee (5-2) vs. Mt. Greylock (11-0)
MT. GREYLOCK 34, LEE 7

Division 4
Pioneer Valley (8-3) vs. McCann Tech (10-1)
PIONEER VALLEY 14, MCCANN TECH 7

Think I made a bad call? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and let me know what I got wrong.

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.

Football playoffs: Round 1 links

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
11:53
AM ET
The MIAA football playoffs kicked off last night, with 36 games across the state. In Eastern Mass, BC High and Needham earned the right to face off in the Division 1 Super Bowl on Saturday, while Lincoln-Sudbury and Everett advanced in Division 1A. ESPN Boston has recaps of all the EMass action here.

In Central Mass, Leominster squeezed past Fitchburg for the second time in four days, advancing to the D1 Super Bowl against St. John's of Shrewsbury. Auburn, the top-ranked CMass team, throttled Groton-Dunstable, 35-7 in Division 3. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette has the recaps here.

In Western Mass, Longmeadow held on to defeat West Springfield, 13-10, while Springfield Central rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Minnechaug, 22-14. Masslive.com has recaps of all the WMass games here.

Super Tuesday: Playoff picks

November, 29, 2011
11/29/11
12:07
PM ET
The MIAA football playoffs start tonight, so let's dive into the predictions. ESPN Boston has done a great job breaking down the Eastern Mass games, so let's focus on CMass and WMass here.

Central Mass Playoff Picks

DIVISION 1

St. John's Shrewsbury (7-4) vs. Shrewsbury (5-6)
The Pioneers have too much speed, including senior WR Efrain Montalvo (905 receiving yards).
ST. JOHN'S SHREWSBURY 24, SHREWSBURY 10

Leominster (8-3) vs. Fitchburg (6-5)
Leominster won this matchup, 21-14, on Thanksgiving. I don't think it will be so close this time around.
LEOMINSTER 31, FITCHBURG 14

DIVISION 2

Gardner (11-0) vs. Holy Name (7-4)
This was a 34-0 drubbing in favor of Gardner when the teams met in October. Senior RB Jamison Craft (1,622 yards, 27 TDs) has a great game and Gardner rolls again.
GARDNER 31, HOLY NAME 14

Nashoba (11-0) vs. Shepherd Hill (8-3)
The Chieftains offense is too balanced and too explosive for Shepherd Hill.
NASHOBA 35, SHEPHERD HILL 7

DIVISION 3

Auburn (10-1) vs. Groton-Dunstable (6-5)
The one-two punch of senior backs Dan Flink and Fred Taylor will power Auburn to an easy win.
AUBURN 38, GROTON-DUNSTABLE 6

Hudson (8-3) vs. Oakmont (7-4)
Oakmont relies on senior RB Tyler Osborn and junior RB Jacob Zagwyn to pull off the upset.
OAKMONT 23, HUDSON 13

DIVISION 4

Nipmuc (7-4) vs. Northbridge (6-5)
Can Northbridge's passing offense score enough points on a cold night? I think the Rams avenge their regular-season loss to Nipmuc with with a late drive directed by junior QB Matt Phelan.
NORTHBRIDGE 28, NIPMUC 24

Grafton (7-4) vs. Southbridge (7-4)
With all the talented running backs in this game, expect a low-scoring, ball-control contest.
SOUTHBRIDGE 14, GRAFTON 7

DIVISION 5

Narragansett (11-0) vs. Clinton (5-6)
Senior RB Sean Young should run wild in this one.
NARRAGANSETT 30, CLINTON 7

Leicester (7-4) vs. Bartlett (7-4)
Bartlett handled Leicester fairly easily just a few weeks ago; look for senior linebacker D.J. Kirby-Thomas to make a big impact.
BARTLETT 20, LEICESTER 7

DIVISION 6

Assabet (10-1) vs. Littleton (5-6)
Assabet's pair of 1,000-yard backs (senior Nate Costello, junior Paul Harpin) should be enough to cruise in this game.
ASSABET 31, LITTLETON 13

Valley Tech (9-2) vs. Bay Path (9-2)
Bay Path won, 34-7, when these teams met on Nov. 5, but I'm picking Valley Tech to pull the biggest upset of the day. Senior RB Julian Picard runs wild in the second half.
VALLEY TECH 22, BAY PATH 14


Western Mass Playoff Picks


DIVISION 1

Springfield Central 30, Minnechaug 13

Longmeadow 35, West Springfield 20

DIVISION 2

Putnam 34, Wahconah 14

Springfield Commerce 17, Hoosac Valley 10

DIVISION 3

Mount Greylock 24, Mahar 20

Lee 17, Belchertown 13

DIVISION 4

McCann Tech 38, Turners Falls 20

Palmer 26, Pioneer Valley 22

Post-Thanksgiving football rankings

November, 28, 2011
11/28/11
2:42
PM ET
While Thanksgiving produced some great rivalry games across Massachusetts, it produced few noteworthy upsets in the POWERADE state rankings. The only Top 10 team to lose was Catholic Memorial, which dropped a 13-0 decision to No. 3 BC High. And that could hardly be considered an upset, as CM was ranked No. 8 at the time (the Knights have dropped to No. 10 this week).

With the playoffs set to open tomorrow, these will serve as the final regular season rankings of 2011. The final rankings will be released after the Super Bowls.

Final regular season POWERADE state rankings
  1. Everett (11-0) — Defeated Cambridge 48-8 (last week: No. 1)
  2. Duxbury (11-0) — Defeated Marshfield, 33-6 (last week: No. 2)
  3. BC High (8-3) — Defeated Catholic Memorial, 13-0 (last week: No. 3)
Click for complete POWERADE state rankings.

Thanksgiving football picks

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
12:18
PM ET
Because I'm picking so many games today, please allow me to be brief with my reasoning. Let's kick things off with the most important of all the Thanksgiving Day games...

Oxford (3-7) at Auburn (9-1)
The greatest rivalry in all of high school football (maybe in all of sports, period) is renewed again. If it were up to me, this game would be televised nationally instead of Green Bay-Detroit.
AUBURN 38, OXFORD 6

BC High (7-3) at Catholic Memorial (7-1)
Outside of CMass, this is the game of the day. BC High has been good all year, but CM is streaking right now. I'm a big proponent of playing your best ball at the end of the year, so give me the Knights.
CATHOLIC MEMORIAL 30, BC HIGH 21

Brockton (5-5) at Bridgewater-Raynham (7-2)
B-R earns its way into the Division 1 playoffs.
BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM 19, BROCKTON 9

Leominster (7-3) at Fitchburg (6-4)
Fitchburg can win this game on the ground.
FITCHBURG 17, LEOMINSTER 14

Framingham (6-4) at Natick (8-2)
Framingham hasn't played its best ball recently. Not a good thing leading into T-Day.
NATICK 20, FRAMINGHAM 14

Swampscott (9-1) at Marblehead (8-2)
This could end up being the most exciting game of the week.
SWAMPSCOTT 28, MARBLEHEAD 26 (OT)

Xaverian (5-5) at St. John's Prep (4-5)
Two talented teams can make up for a season of disappointment.
XAVERIAN 24, ST. JOHN'S PREP 7

Chelmsford (9-1) at Billerica (7-3)
Sadly, without Nick LaSpada I don't think Billerica can move the ball consistently against Chelmsford.
CHELMSFORD 31, BILLERICA 14

Bedford (6-4) at Concord-Carlisle (10-0)
C-C finishes off a perfect regular season that few saw coming.
CONCORD-CARLISLE 34, BEDFORD 20

East Longmeadow (5-5) at Longmeadow (8-2)
I'm not confident in this pick at all, but Longmeadow has been solid all season.
LONGMEADOW 16, EAST LONGMEADOW 7

Mansfield (8-2) at Foxboro (4-6)
I'm not on the Mansfield train, but I do think they'll take this one.
MANSFIELD 32, FOXBORO 20

Think I made a bad call? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and let me know about it.

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