High-SchoolMassachusetts: Matt O'Keefe

DiBiaso wins Gatorade POY

December, 1, 2011
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
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.

Week 10 picks: Hockomockomania

November, 11, 2011
Ah, the last high school football weekend before Thanksgiving. While Turkey Day gets all the pub, many league races are decided before then. In the Hockomock league, no game is more important than tonight's matchup between Mansfield and North Attleboro. Currently No. 7 in the POWERADE state rankings, Mansfield (8-1) can ensure a playoff spot by winning out. But North Attleboro (7-1) has been tough this season, featuring one of the better defenses in EMass. So don't wait for Thanksgiving to start thinking about big games and playoff chances.

Week 10 picks

North Attleboro (7-1) at No. 7 Mansfield (8-1)
Friday, 6:30 p.m.
The North Attleboro defense has been sharp this season, but Mansfield can grind it out like few others. The senior running back duo of Greg Donahue and Blayne Taylor has rushed for 963 yards and 10 touchdowns this season on 6.8 yards per carry. The Hockomock title is Mansfield's to lose.

Malden (5-3) at No. 1 Everett (9-0)
Saturday, 1 p.m.
This game can't be taken for granted, though it may have looked that way at the beginning of the season. But Malden has actually won its last three games and five of its last six, including handing Swampscott its only loss three weeks ago. Malden senior O'Shane McCreath is a big-time running back, but I don't think Everett will look past this game.

No. 9 Concord-Carlisle (9-0) at No. 5 Lincoln-Sudbury (9-0)
Friday, 7 p.m.
Does anyone believe in Lincoln-Sudbury? I do. I've got them at No. 5 in the POWERADE state rankings because their defense is legit. The Warriors haven't give up more than 14 points in any game this season, with three shutouts mixed in. But Concord-Carlisle will test that defense with a high-powered running game. I still think L-S holds up. Come out on the limb with me.

No. 2 Duxbury (9-0) at Hingham (5-4)
Friday, 7 p.m.
The winner of this game is the Patriot League champion. Duxbury tuned up by destroying Hanover last week, 49-0, on the strength of a school-record six TD passes from senior Matt O'Keefe. Overall, Duxbury has five receivers who have caught at least four TDs this season. I don't think Hingham can keep up with that kind of passing attack.

St. John's Prep (4-4) at No. 3 BC High (6-3)
Friday, 6 p.m.
Once again, senior RB Deontae Ramey-Doe was awesome last week, rushing for more than 200 yards. St. John's Prep hasn't shown it can contain a ground game as powerful as BC High's. I'm trying not to over-think this one.

Think I made a bad call? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).
The biggest game on the schedule takes place tomorrow on Clapboardtree Street in Westwood, as No. 2 Duxbury travels to meet No. 3 Xaverian. This is a huge opportunity for Xaverian, as the Hawks are also set to take on No. 1 Everett next week. That's a pretty clear path to the top spot — win both games and Xaverian will be the top team in the state. But that's much easier said than done. Duxbury has the kind of passing attack that could give the Xaverian defense some problems, as the Hawks' greatest strengths (size up front, run defense) could be neutralized.

I think this will come down to the final drive, with the deeper, better-conditioned team pulling ahead late.

The Game:
No. 2 Duxbury at No. 3 Xaverian
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

The Players:
Duxbury — Senior quarterback Matt O'Keefe has been better than anyone could have hoped for this season, completing a high percentage and tossing 12 touchdowns through the first four games. He's also a playmaker, using his scrambling ability when his initial options are covered. Against the surging Xaverian pass rush, that could be a key factor in this game.

Xaverian — The Hawks will try to disrupt Duxbury's passing game by turning its defensive line loose to get after the QB. Defensive ends Colby Enegren and Matt Stapleton and defensive tackle Matt Hurst should have the green light to pin their ears back.

The Stakes:
Duxbury won't play another team as good as Xaverian, so a win for the Dragons would leave a wide open path to a Super Bowl title and a possible No. 1 ranking if Everett falters at any point. Xaverian, on the other hand, can control its own destiny — a win this week and a win next week against No. 1 Everett would leave the Hawks on top of the rankings.

The Prediction:
The Xaverian defense has allowed just 12 points this season, and I like their deep defensive line. I can see the pass rush disrupting Duxbury's timing just enough to cause frustration and more punts than the Dragons are used to. I think Xaverian jumps ahead early on the strength of a turnover, and by the time the Duxbury O figures things out and starts clicking in the second half, the rally will come up short.

Other notable games:

No. 5 Auburn at Shepherd Hill
Dan Flink goes nuts to the tune of 150-plus rushing yards and the Rockets roll.
Auburn 35, Shepherd Hill 6

Tewksbury at Billerica
Billerica's offense has been inconsistent, but QB Nick LaSpada makes enough plays to win this one.
Billerica 21, Tewksbury 14

Taunton at No. 1 Everett
Look for the Crimson Tide to fire up the running game and put this one away early.
Everett 38, Taunton 12