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Brighton tops O'Bryant, 12-0, in unofficial "city championship" Thanksgiving game

Posted by Ryan Butler November 29, 2013 08:43 AM

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Brighton quarterback Jalen Apperwhite ran for a touchdown during his team's 12-0 win over O'Bryant Thanksgiving morning. (Photo courtesy of Joel Jean-Pierre.)

Despite a bitter wind at Madison Park High, the unofficial city championship between the Brighton Bengals and the O’Bryant Tigers raged on in front of a Thanksgiving morning crowd.

Brighton came out victorious, 12-0, over an O’Bryant squad that just couldn’t stimulate any offense.

It was the unofficial "championship" because Brighton and O’Bryant won their divisions this season, finishing 5-0 in league play. Both teams also finished 8-3 overall.

When Madison Park bowed out of its usual Thanksgiving matchup with O’Bryant because of injuries, Brighton jumped in.

It was a special teams play that got Brighton started early.

The first score of the game came seconds into the second quarter, when Brighton sophomore defensive back Hakeem McKoy blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone by junior Ricardo Edwards.

“I didn’t expect to come out with the ball,” Edwards said. “But Coach was telling us all game to keep the intensity going, so when that opportunity came, we converted.”

Edwards was awarded the game ball by coach Randolph Abraham for his hard work on offense. He rushed for more than 100 yards.

“We’ve got a bigger offensive line,” Abraham said. “So we were definitely able to work that for our advantage. Ricardo did a great job on the ground and making offense for us all morning.”

Brighton took a 6-0 lead into the half, and continued to dominate on defense in the third quarter, forcing a fumble and a three-and-out on O’Bryant’s first two possessions.

With four minutes remaining in the game, Brighton quarterback Jalen Apperwhite rushed 1 yard for a score to give the Bengals a 12-0 lead.

A late interception by Michael Dereus sealed the victory.

Despite the loss, O’Bryant coach Kevin Gadson was all smiles while commending his team for not giving in and on winning the BCL South.

“You guys fought for four quarters out there,” he said. “I’m proud of that. It’s really been a wonderful season, boys. You guy’s played really well all year. I’m proud of you all.”

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

Boston English beats Boston Latin for first time since 1997

Posted by Justin Rice November 28, 2013 03:25 PM

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Boston English celebrates after a 2-point conversion by quarterback Emmanuel Almonte. English upset rival Boston Latin, 14-12, Thanksgiving Day. (Jay Connor / For the Boston Globe)

When Brian Vaughan took over Boston English’s football program last spring, he didn’t exactly expect the sentiment on the “Beat Latin” T-shirts he printed up to become a prophecy. And he could’ve never imagined beating Boston Latin for only the second time since 1981 on a last-second touchdown pass.

But English’s 14-12 victory at Harvard Stadium in the 127th playing of the nation’s oldest continuous high school football rivalry will go down in history for just that scenario.

“Let’s be honest, that was just to motivate kids,” Vaughan said of the T-shirts.

His 7-4 English squad was the first to go into Thanksgiving with a winning record since 2004 and the first to be victorious against their historic rival since 1997.

“It’s huge, it’s a great step in the direction we want to bring the program,” said Vaughan, who coached Pope John in Everett the last four years after coaching and playing for Lynn English. “We’re not exactly where we want to be but we’re heading that way and this was huge for putting us in the direction we want to be.”

With 14 seconds to play, senior wide receiver Dejour Releford took a lateral pass from junior Emmanuel Almonte and tossed a 38-yard reception to senior Jerome Penn that put English on the 7-yard-line with 3 seconds to go. Then, with no time left on the clock, Releford caught a TD pass from Almonte to secure the victory.

“It’s all about one catch, one catch can make the difference,” said Releford, who finished with 27 yards on four receptions. “If feels good. Everybody is happy. We ended the streak so that is always a good feeling.”

The game-winning catch capped a 13-play, 78-yard drive that started with 4:33 left in the game. Almonte (9 of 18 for 51 yards) completed three passes on the drive, including scrambling before tossing a 6-yard pass to Ruben Pena-Sanchez on 4th-and-5 from the 27.

English was also hampered by a holding penalty the play before its trick play set up the winning TD.

“It means the world … we didn’t make the playoffs,” Almonte said after receiving MVP honors, “it hurt us, and our goal was to win this game. And even though it took until the last second, we did it.”

After getting beaten 15 straight years, mostly by blowouts, on Thanksgiving, holding Latin (5-6) scoreless in the first half would have been a major accomplishment for English.

Latin didn't score until sophomore running back Justin Springle put the Wolfpack up 6-0 on a 3-yard TD with 3:55 left in the third. Almonte, who also plays defensive back, broke up the 2-point conversion pass.

When English starting senior running back Jodarnio Seide (45 yards on nine carries) was sidelined with a hand injury with 2:16 left in the third quarter, junior running back Darious Boodoosingh (45 yards on 10 carries) punched home a 6-yard TD run with 57 seconds left in the quarter. Almonte ran in the 2-pointer conversion to go up 8-6.

“I just had to work hard when I got in the game and you know, I just did me,” Seide said.
Five plays later Latin quarterback Roy Bahnam (7 for 18 with 114 yards) tossed a 14-yard TD to Jack O’Toole to go up 12-8 with 10:06 to play.

“Good for English,” longtime Latin coach John McDonough said. “Good for them. We don’t want to make them feel good, but that’s our problem. They took care of business. It was a good football game.”

Legendary coach Tom Lamb joined English’s program as an assistant in 2011.

“This is our dream,” a hoarse Lamb said. “We couldn’t have written it any better.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

Playball! helps youngest Bertucci continue family football tradition

Posted by Justin Rice November 27, 2013 11:47 AM

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Derek Bertucci (left) continued his family's football legacy by playing in the Play Ball! Township Championship game for Ohrenberger K-8 School in West Roxbury Friday night at Harvard Stadium. His father, David Bertucci (right), is an assistant coach for the team and played for the 1983 West Roxbury High Super Bowl team. Derek's older brother, David Bertucci Jr., is currently the quarterback for West Roxbury. (Billy Owens / For the Globe)

David Bertucci Jr. sat on a cold, damp, concrete bench at Harvard Stadium Friday, looking on as floodlights illuminated the chilly night and dark green turf.

Normally on Fridays in the fall, David Jr. is on the field playing; he is West Roxbury High’s starting senior quarterback. But on this night he is watching his younger brother Derek start at right guard in the Play Ball! Township Championship game for Ohrenberger K-8 School in West Roxbury.
 
This season has been an important one for Derek. For the first time since he was 7 years old, the seventh grader had the chance to put on pads and play competitive football. And David Jr., knowing well what the sport means to his family, is glad to see his brother get another chance.
 
Play Ball!, a Boston-based charity, funds BPS middle school sports and created a football league in 2009. There were four teams back then, and the number has since risen to 10. Derek’s school is the most recent addition, as of October.
 
David Jr. was an eighth grader at Washington Irving Middle School in Roslindale during Play Ball!’s inaugural football season. His team won the championship that year.
 
When David Jr. played in the championship game, he recalled it being at White Stadium in Jamaica Plain. But five years later, the high school senior was wowed as he walked into Harvard Stadium for the first time.
 
David Jr. enjoyed getting to see his brother play, but admitted he was itching to join Derek on the field.
 
“It feels really different,” said David Jr., who played Pop Warner until eighth grade, and will lead West Roxbury into the school’s first Thanksgiving football against Randolph Thursday. “I’m used to being on the field and playing. Watching him play, it’s like, ‘Wow, I wish I could play with him.’ It’s always great to see Derek play football.”
 
Play Ball!’s mantra is “Getting more feet on the field.” The goal is to provide middle school students a way to exercise, get them to participate in team-oriented activities, and motivate them to do well in school.
 
That is precisely why students like Derek have benefited from the opportunity to play football for their school.
 
Though football is his favorite sport, Derek hasn’t been able to play on a team since a year of Pop Warner at age 7. He learned the sport early on in life, attending David Jr.’s Pop Warner and high school practices while his dad helped coach the team.
 
David Sr. was a defensive lineman on West Roxbury’s championship team in 1983 – the first city team to win a championship.
 
The youngest in the family, Derek was tagging along to the practices from an early age.
 
“Before he could play, I’d be coaching his older brother,” said David Sr., who used to be an assistant for the Raiders. “[Derek] would have to get at the end of the line, but every agility drill, at 5,6 years old, he was running them.”
 
After playing at 7, Derek didn’t make the weight limit that Pop Warner sets. When he learned he wouldn’t be able to play, Derek describes the moment as “devastating.”
 
“We cried together,” said his mother, Shelly. 
 
“He’s a big kid, and he tried to keep his weight down,” said David Sr. “We did everything we could, but he was devastated. Football is in his blood.”
 
Throughout the next five years, Derek was able to play basketball and baseball. But Pop Warner didn’t work out, again because of its weight limitation.
 
In October 2013, though, his school got a call from Play Ball! that gave Derek another shot at playing the sport he loves.
 
Play Ball! was looking for a 10th team to join the league, and Ohrenberger K-8 fit the bill. Derek heard the news at school and called his big brother when it was official. David Jr. can recall the excitement in Derek’s voice.
 
“He called me and he told me that his school was getting a football team,” said David Jr. “He was all excited. I think it was the first week of October, but he said everybody was really excited and I was excited for him.”
 
Derek stepped onto the football field with pads for the team’s first practice in early October. His dad was there and helped Ohrenberger head coach Mike Gavin with the team from the beginning of this season.
 
After watching his brother on the field so many times, Derek was now the one suiting up for games.
 
“I can’t really describe it,” Derek said. “It was overwhelming.”
 
The learning curve was steep for the players during the first season. Many of the students hadn’t played Pop Warner, and Ohrenberger had two practices before its first game, joining the league after the season had started.
 
Ohrenberger was grouped in the Township Division with less experienced teams because it was the school’s first season.
 
Following an0-7 regular season, Ohrenberger was matched up with another team for the Township semifinals. According to Play Ball! founder Mike Harney, Ohrenberger’s semifinal opponent had some players who weren’t eligible because of grades. Therefore, Ohrenberger didn’t play a semifinal game and was mched up with Dever-McCormack in the Township Championship last Friday.
 
Ohrenberger lost, 36-14, but as the players lined up at the 40-yard line across from their victorious opponents and received the runner-up trophy, their smiles and excitement didn't look like the reaction of a team that had lost eight straight games.
 
“They could care less,” said Gavin. “They just want to be part of a team, a sport, they want to be a part of something. They came every day, they came to practice, and they made the grades. It’s a testament to the kids.”
 
Seeing the positive effect a team atmosphere has had on the players – including his son – is something Derek’s father has recognized. Play Ball! has given Derek the chance to grow into more than just a football player. His father has noticed a change in the student’s attitude after having the opportunity to play a season of football.
 
“I’d volunteer every hour I have of my life to help this program,” said David Sr.  “I cannot say it enough, and I live in the city. I see the violence every day. I was a coach for 15 years. This program, there’s zero negativity in it. It’s going to save a lot of kids.”
 
Having had the opportunity to coach both of his sons, David Sr. knows the importance football has had for them.
 
“The [game] they had at Harvard is unbelievable. All these kids together, and these are tough city kids,” said the father. “Don’t just think because they’re sixth, seventh, eighth grade ... I worked for the Department of Youth Services for two years.
 
“There are some hard-core kids out there. These kids are at positive events, working out, making friends who they’re going to have for a long time. It’s [immeasurable] what this program has done for these kids, this city, our community, my family and for me.”
 
Derek’s parents said they have noticed a change in how their son acts. His brother agreed, as did Gavin. To be on the football team, students at Ohrenberger must maintain a C- grade average.
 
Derek said that he was a C and D student before this year, but made sure to keep his grades up so he could stay on the football team.
 
“[Derek] was borderline himself with grades," said David Sr. "He’s gone from slacking where you have to ask him 10 times to doing it right away, and doing it when he’s supposed to do his homework and stuff."
 
Gavin is a computer teacher at Ohrenberger. He remembers Derek, among other current players, from when he was a fifth grader at the K-8 school.
 
Having seen what one season of football has done to motivate Derek is encouraging for Gavin.
 
“The sky is the limit for the kid,” said Gavin. “It’s up to Derek though. It can’t be just this. It needs to continue.
 
“The willingness to do his work, to take that extra effort. To make sure he’s on top of all his schoolwork. He would have put [schoolwork] on the back burner last year.”
 
To Gavin, the importance of what the players learn by playing a team sport is invaluable, even relative to what his players learn at school.
 
“What it does for the kids on the front lines,” he said, “is nothing any teacher can teach them in a classroom.”

Nick Ironside can be reached at nicholas.ironside@globe.com. Follow Nick on Twitter @nironside.

English goes into Thanksgiving game above .500 for first time in a decade

Posted by Justin Rice November 26, 2013 03:15 PM

The following is the final story in a series of Thanksgiving football previews.

Going into Thursday’s 127th playing of the nation’s oldest continuous high school football game against Boston Latin, Boston English will be much more confident in its ability to hang with the Wolfpack than it has been in the last decade.

Boston English has even created the hashtag #GoEnglishBeatLatin for Thursday’s 10 a.m. meeting at Harvard Stadium.

“All Boston English alumni please come support the 2013 Boston English football team
on Thanksgiving vs. Boston Latin (5-5)!” first-year coach Brian Vaughan posted on the English High Alumni Association’s Facebook page over the weekend. “The 2013 football team is now 6-4 (1st winning season in [10] years). The team is led by Jr. QB Emmanuel Almonte, who is one of the top players in the state with over 1,500 yards rushing, 846 yards passing, & 20 total TDs. My name is Brian Vaughan and this is my first year as head coach. The team has worked hard on and off the field all season and we are trying to bring Boston English Football back to where it should be. Looking forward to seeing everybody on Thanksgiving.
#GoEnglishBeatLatin”

A little context is needed to understand English’s enthusiasm for having a winning record going into its rivalry game: English’s only victory against Latin since 1981 was in 1997. And the last time English had a winning record going into Thanksgiving was in 2004, when it lost, 44-0. Since that game, Latin has won by an average of 29 points.

After English won its first non-forfeit game since 2009 last season, it seemed like the team was poised to compete on Turkey Day against a Latin team that had only one victory. But the usual combination of injuries and academic ineligibility conspired against them. English nearly had to forfeit the game but ended up fielding enough players for a 44-15 loss.

This year the team has won five of its last six games and is currently on a three-game win streak.

“I think it’s big,” Vaughan said of the win streak. “Especially with the seniors, I’m so honored to be part of these seniors. They’ve come through so much, just the adversity, the overall direction of where the program was going to where we are trying to get it to now. They took whatever we threw at them.

“We’re confident, not cocky because they know the test ahead of us. But we definitely feel good about it.”

But after beating Lynn Tech, 24-6, English’s last game was a 44-18 win against Minuteman because Marian forfeited the following week.

“We’re definitely worried about that, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing we can do about that now,” Vaughan said. “Our main goal is to just prepare guys and make sure we know what we’re doing when we line up against a really good Latin team.”

Latin is on its own three-game win streak, beating Medford, 25-21, Salem, 21-7, and Belmont, 40-29. But after Latin opened the season 2-0, senior running back Patrick Fahy tore his ACL and meniscus on the first play of a loss in Week 3 to North Quincy. After that the Wolfpack went on a five-game slide.

Since Week 3, Latin has used a bevy of players to fill his shoes, including senior Pat O’Grady, senior Jack O’Toole, sophomore Justin Springle, sophomore Danny Bohan, and junior Duncan McGaff.

“It was peak, a valley, and a peak,” Latin coach John McDonough said. “Of course it’s good for everybody, it’s always fun to win. It instills a little confidence in you. The kids are looking forward to Thursday.”

McDonough will be coaching Latin on Thanksgiving morning for the 33d straight year.

“It’s not about history,” McDonough said. “That’s not even a thought. It’s a football game, it’s the last game of the season. Besides the rivalry aspect, it’s the last game of season and half the teams in the state lose the last game and we don’t want to be a part of that.

“We’re looking forward to it. I hope we get some decent weather so it doesn't impact people’s enjoyment of the game. Last year was sunny and 60. You couldn't ask for a better day, but it’s late November.”

Vaughan's first order of business when he was hired as Boston English coach last spring was to print up workout shirts that simply read “Beat Latin.”

“We got them for the summer, those are summer workout shirts,” Vaughan said. “Those are supposed to be white but by now they are like gray or black, I don’t even know.

"So I know all about Thanksgiving and what it means to a lot of high school teams. I’m from Lynn and to this day this weekend I’ll see friends and we’ll talk about Thanksgiving battles we had against each other.

“I’m excited just because of the history of the game and it’s just another opportunity for this program to take another step in the right direction. Again, it’s not going to be easy. We’re fighting an uphill battle. But I think it’s a battle our guys are willing to accept.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

Dance's high school career ends with Thanksgiving forfeit

Posted by Justin Rice November 25, 2013 05:27 PM

Perhaps the greatest quarterback in Boston Public School history, Kyle Dance, will end his career with a 2-0 forfeit on Thanksgiving morning.

The Latin Academy-Charlestown game will go down as a forfeit because Charlestown doesn't have enough linemen to safely play the game. The forfeit will give Latin Academy (8-2) its best record in school history.

"I'd rather play and lose than win like this," Latin Academy coach Rocco Zizza said over the weekend when it looked as though the game wouldn't be played.

But then on Sunday, Zizza said, he spoke to the Charlestown headmaster and was told they had a enough players to field a team. But after practice on Monday, Zizza learned that the game was off again. Even though Charlestown has 15 players for the game, the coaches don't feel they have enough linemen to play it safely.

"So Kyle's last game is a 2-0 forfeit," Zizza said. "It's kind of depressing."

Dance, who ends his career with 46 touchdown passes, got injured in a playoff game against O'Bryant and was only about 50 percent for a 21-14 loss to St. Clement in the Division 6 North sectional final Nov. 16.

"It's a disappointing way to end the season," Zizza said. "We had a great season. I have no regrets."

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

Red team beats Blue squad in City League Volleyball All-Star Game

Posted by Justin Rice November 23, 2013 03:15 PM

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Burke High's Djany Gomes bumps the ball for the Red team during the Boston City League Volleyball All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon at UMass Boston. (Justin A. Rice / For the Globe)

With the Boston City League Volleyball All-Star game tied 20-20 in the fourth set on Saturday afternoon, Nancy Liu had the ball in her hand on the service line and one thought in her head: Get the ball over the net.

“I was actually really nervous because every time we [practice] serving my coach is always like ‘Just get the ball over,’” the O’Bryant senior said. “Sometimes you want to try to win it but my mind was just ‘Get it over, do it simple’ and let my teammates do the rest of the work.”

That game plan paid off as the Red team scored the next four points off Liu’s service before ultimately defeating the Blue team two points later, 3-1 (25-16, 18-25, 25-21, 25-21) at UMass Boston’s Clark Athletic Center.

Liu was happy to keep the match from going to a fifth and decisive set.

“I just worked with my teammates, that’s the most important part,” she said. “Getting the ball over the net is just one important part and the rest is you have to depend on your teammates. Just keep in simple.”

Perhaps the biggest helping hand came during a long rally that ultimately put the Red squad up, 22-20. Just when it seemed like the Blue team would grab the point and the momentum, English High’s Massiel Ramirez plucked a ball at its apex above the net and managed to find an open piece of floor.

“It was great, I didn’t meant to do it,” she said. “It was great. I didn’t think I was going to come here but I made it.”

Boston International’s Antonea Green said her Blue team struggled with the Red team’s serve all day.

“Today was a good game, we played our heart out and it just happened,” she said. “We just hesitated and when they started serving we started getting scared. Other than that we did a good job and I’m proud of them and I’m looking forward to next year.

“It was amazing and I enjoyed it. It was my first year playing.”

The game was the last high school volleyball game for several of the players, including the Red team’s Heidy Barreiro, who helped Boston English win its fourth city title in five years.

“It means a lot because all the hard work paid off,” Barreiro said of winning the city championship. “We worked hard together.”

The Blue squad was coached by Madison Park coach Gladys Byrd, who led the Blue team to a 3-0 sweep last year at Emmanuel College.

“In the All-Star game it’s more important to play all the kids than to win I told the kids ‘It’s not about winning and losing, it’s about being an All-Star and being able to represent yourself and your school and your division,” Byrd said.

English coach Hardy Mondesir co-coached the Red squad with O’Bryant coach Trudy Fisher. Mondesir gave Fisher all the credit.

“She knew the players and knew when to put in the right players and the defense definitely helped,” he said. “This is my first time. it was fun. It was definitely good to get a more collaborative effort. We had a lot of good players offensively and defensively. It was fun."

And Fisher credited Liu’s solid serving in the final points of the fourth set.

“She’s a pretty consistent server and we put her in and she came through,” Fisher said. “I think the kids enjoyed playing. I think this is one of the best All-Star games I’ve seen in a long time.

“It was important to them so they are the ones that did all the work.”

It was a pretty important way for Liu to cap her senior season of volleyball.

“It’s pretty good, I had a great experience in my senior year,” she said. “I’m going to miss volleyball after this.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

Timilty and Dever-McCormack take home middle school football titles

Posted by Justin Rice November 23, 2013 12:11 AM

CAMBRIDGE – Timilty Middle School quarterback Khalil Blair’s speed overpowered Fredericks Middle School on Friday night at Harvard Stadium in the Play Ball! City championship game.

Blair, an eighth grader, ran for four touchdowns, threw for one and returned a punt 53 yards for another score as the Panthers overcame a 14-12 halftime deficit to win, 40-14.

“He’s a very talented athlete,” said Timilty coach Gary Smith. “Sometimes he’s the leader every coach needs to be on the field and make the difference.”

Before the City Championship was contested, the Dever-McCormack Panthers took down the Ohrenberger Owls, 36-14, in the Play Ball! Township championship game.

The Ohrenberger scored on its final drive of the first season, but the McCormack’s experience and size proved to be too much for the Ohernberger, which participated in its first football season this year.

After the Timilty took home the title in the nightcap, Blair didn’t take all of the credit himself, praising his teammates.

“Without them, I wouldn’t have done any of that," he said. "All of the blockers, they all block and that’s all I need them to do so I can do my job."

Both the Fredericks and Timilty defenses stopped any scoring in the first quarter. But Blair and the Tigers struck first.

The quarterback hit Mykel Dering in stride for a 56-yard touchdown pass that opened the scoring early in the second quarter, giving Timilty a 6-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, the Fredericks quarterback Sayvoin Jones tossed a 34-yard pass that running back Erick Brown caught and ran into the end zone for the Fredericks’ first score. After rolling right, Jones found tight end Jordan Riggs on the 2-point conversion to give the Fredericks an 8-6 lead.

On the following possession, the Timilty was stuck on its five-yard line following a holding penalty. That’s when Blair rolled right and sprinted 95 yards down the sideline to electrify the Tigers fans.

Blair was unsure of whether the 95-yard dash was his longest run of the season, but it gave the Timilty a 12-8 lead.

With less than two minutes left in the first half, the Fredericks took the lead. Brown, who shares time with Jones at quarterback, found Stefan Jones on a 46-yard strike to give the Fredericks a first-and-goal from the four-yard line.

Brown ran the ball in from one-yard out to give the Fredericks a 14-12 lead at the interval.

But it was the last time the Fredericks would have an advantage on the scoreboard. The Timilty outscored the Fredericks, 28-0, in the second half as the Tigers’ defense stood strong the entire half, getting lots of pressure in the Fredericks’ backfield.

“Our defense is the key to our game,” Smith said. “No one’s ever scored all season more than two touchdowns on us, so when they got the 14, they realized that this is the key. We now get angry, we now get emotional, and we shut them down.”

Blair put on a show in the second half. Following a three-yard touchdown run, Blair returned a punt the distance to give the Timilty a 26-14 lead after three quarters.

The Timilty’s star player – who also starts at middle linebacker – added a pair of 13-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to give the Timilty the city championship.

New Mission brings three-game win streak into Thanksgiving matchup with Burke

Posted by Ryan Butler November 22, 2013 01:21 PM

The following is the fourth in a series of Thanksgiving football previews.

For the second year in a row, New Mission and Burke will square off in a Thanksgiving matchup at Burke High School dubbed the “Unity Bowl."

The game is called that because it exemplifies the two communities unifying.

In last year’s Unity Bowl, Burke defeated New Mission, 22-0, but it was New Mission’s first year fielding a football team, and it didn’t win a single game.

But that was last season.

In its second year, New Mission has turned it around and won four games. In fact, it is on a three-game winning streak.

“It’s been nice to go on this three-game streak,” said coach Michael Pittman-Forman. “The young guys are starting to play well, and as a team our overall confidence level has been rising. We’re also starting to really grasp what we’ve been trying to do all year.”

One win during New Mission’s streak actually came against Burke, in a nail-biter of a game Nov. 2 that ended 18-14.

“That was quite the game,” Pittman-Forman said. “It was definitely a competitive one.”

The Thanksgiving showdown with Burke is sure to be just as close.

“Over the last couple of our games, our guys are starting to make plays” said Pittman-Forman. “We’re making plays we hadn’t been making all season; we’re making the plays that opposing teams had easily made on us. Another positive is our offensive line is really coming together as of late, which is something we struggled with early on.”

Burke coach Byron Beaman is also looking forward to a rematch with New Mission.

"We're handling practice this week the same as we always do; business as usual." he said.

"Like last year, It's a big game for us and we want to win. Anytime you play a team twice it's bound to be interesting. We only lost that first game (against New Mission) by four, so we're doing all we can to come out on the other side this time."

New Mission and Burke are set to square off at 10 a.m. at Burke High School.

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

East Boston and South Boston set for 96th Thanksgiving meeting

Posted by Justin Rice November 21, 2013 01:47 PM


The following is the third in a series of Thanksgiving football previews.

The last time East Boston lost to South Boston in their traditional Thanksgiving football game was 2008, but Jets coach John Parziale is taking nothing for granted when his team meets a winless South Boston team for the 96th time at 9:30 a.m. next Thursday.

Otherwise he’ll hear about it up until next Thanksgiving.

“It’s a big game and I think the people of South Boston feel the same way, especially the older generation,” Parziale said. “When you run into them, they don’t want to know if you beat Greater Lowell or Brighton or West Roxbury, they just want to know, ‘Did you beat Southie?’

"That’s the question they all ask. If you can say you beat them, everything else doesn’t matter. If you have to say you lost, they give you a disgruntled look and tell you about when they beat you back in ’63. That’s the legacy. We try to impress that on the kids.”

First-year South Boston coach Ray Butler joked that he doesn’t have that problem this year:

“We don’t have any wins this season, so not a lot of people come up to talk to me,” he said.

Butler got his first taste of the East Boston-South Boston rivalry while working as an assistant coach in the only older City League rivalry last Thanksgiving: the Boston English-Boston Latin game.

“We play at 9:30, we’re the first game off, I remember last year at the Latin-English game [former East Boston] coach [John] Sousa was umpiring the game,” said Butler, who was a Latin assistant last year. “As the game was getting going, he asked if anyone was getting [East Boston-South Boston] updates yet. So a lot of people have a vested interest in it.”

Parziale said he doesn’t care that South Boston hasn’t won a game this year.

“That’s true, they had a rough year, at the same token, you throw records out the windows on Thanksgiving and we say that all the time you never know,” he said. “It’s one of those things where anything can happen. You can get a day where it’s snowing -- we’ve played in snow -- or it could be pounding rain. In the elements, the ball goes the wrong way; you could fumble at the wrong time, you never know. It could be a windy, cold day.

“We had years we beat Southie when they were favored; ’99 comes to mind. Southie was an excellent team and we were pretty good, too. Everyone picked Southie to win and we came out and pulled the upset. We just played and hard and it worked out for us.”

That’s what Butler is counting on. Getting his first win as the Knights coach on
Thanksgiving, he said, would be amazing.

“That would be incredibly special,” he said. “It would mean a lot for the kids and it means a lot to the school. A lot of places, you look at Thanksgiving and no matter what the record is, the Thanksgiving win is the thing that carries you throughout the year. It’s a very important game.”

Aside from looking for his first win, Butler’s team also will have gone nearly three weeks without playing a game. That’s because they had a bye during the last week of the season. But Butler said the time off has given his team a chance to get healthy and take care of business in the classroom.

“It’s been good for us,” he said. “We are a young group of younger players. We only have two seniors on the team so we need all the prep to get ready for Thanksgiving and for how big a moment it is and how special. It’s a chance to heal up.

“It’s been good to make sure the kids get that final push to get their grades up; it’s the end of the term. You never like to not play for that long but it’s been a real positive for us in getting ready for this game taking care of all those other things and getting the preparation.”

East Boston (4-6), which has been one of the more consistent city programs in recent years, has had a down year and is looking to finish on a strong note.

“It’s one of the oldest games in the country and it’s still a big thing with the community, it’s a real big deal in the community,” Parziale said. “I have a few volunteer assistants that played in the game over the years. Some of the kids had brothers and fathers and uncles who played in the game.

"This year we’re not doing too well, but we make it a one-game season. One game for the championship for us. We say, ‘Hey, beat Southie; that cures a lot of ills.' It’s good for the season. It’s very important.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.


West Roxbury excited about its first Thanksgiving game

Posted by Ryan Butler November 20, 2013 05:30 PM


The following is second in a series of Thanksgiving football previews.

The West Roxbury football team is set for a Thanksgiving matchup for the first time.

“We wanted a Thanksgiving game, so when Randolph offered to play, we picked it up,” West Roxbury coach Derek Wright said. “We’ve got some valuable practice time to prepare, too. This week has been pretty light, just going into some light conditioning drills and such. Next week we’ll dive into more of the structured stuff.”

West Roxbury finished in third place in the City League North Division, logging a 3-2 league record. On Nov. 1, the Raiders gave City League South champion O’Bryant a tough time, outscoring O’Bryant, 18-14, in the final three quarters, but ultimately fell, 33-18.

On Thanksgiving, they’ll square off against a Randolph team that’s looking for its first win of the year.

“We’re just practicing hard, and going over the things we’ve been doing all year long,” Randolph coach Keith Ford said. “Our athletic directors got together and put the game in place. Our AD is a West Roxbury alum, so that definitely helped in setting up the game for us.”

The opportunity to play on Thanksgiving means a lot to the West Roxbury players, whose season otherwise would be finished.

“It’s really exciting,” said senior quarterback David Bertucci. “To be able to play on Thanksgiving in my senior year after going three straight years without it, it’s just great.

"As a team, we’re all just really pumped. We’re definitely going to stick to the run game against Randolph. The last couple games, we really tried to air it out, but I think we’re going to go back to pounding the ball on the ground.”

With senior Mike Obiangwe in the backfield, running the ball is definitely the Raiders' best bet. Obiangwe logged eight touchdowns on the year, including two against O’Bryant.

“I feel thankful to be able to play the game,” Obiangwe said. “I mean, after this, there’s no more football. So we’re going to work really hard.”

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

3 Point Foundation makes a difference in the lives of young BPS boys

Posted by Ryan Butler November 20, 2013 10:46 AM

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The 3 Point Foundation works with BPS kids on Thursdays and Saturdays during the school year. (photo courtesy of The 3 Point Foundation.)

When the 3 Point Foundation started in March 2012, co-founders Andrew Mirken and Boston Celtics attorney Neil Jacobs had a vision of improving the lives of Boston’s youth through positive reinforcement in the classroom and on the basketball court.

Now, 18 months and more than 100 kids later, Mirken says he’s thrilled with the influence the program has had. But for him and his hard-working staff, the journey has only just begun.

“We’re really trying to influence these kids in an academic way, along with helping them out on the court,” Mirken said. “I mean, everything you do on the basketball court translates to how you carry yourself in life, and we’re really trying to preach that to the kids.”

The 3 Point Foundation works specifically with fifth- and sixth-grade boys, and uses the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury. Its partners include Olympia Sports and the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation.

Before running drills on the court, the boys are mentored in mathematics, literacy, and word problems.

During the school year, Mirken and his fellow employees hold these skill-building programs on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings, working with 26 kids, most of whom are BPS-rooted. During the summer, Mirken says, they expect more than 100 participants in their four-week program to be held in Newton.

“Our different programs fall under what we call 'C.A.B Academy,' ” he said. “C.A.B comes from the three initiatives we stress. They stand for character, academics, and basketball."

The instructors include Kyle Casey, who played for Harvard, Alece Mark, who plays for Northeastern, and Anthony Gurley, who played for UMass-Amherst.

Asked why he partnered with the 3 Point Foundation, director of the Reggie Lewis Center Keith McDermott, said it was a no-brainer.

“They create great opportunities for the kids,” he said.

“Andrew and Neil came to us in 2012 and immediately seemed very serious about how they were going to positively influence the community. And they’re doing just that. So someday these boys they’re working with will hopefully go out and flourish, but also go on to positively influence the lives of others. So, it was actually pretty easy to partner with them because of what they do.”

And, as McDermott said, it’s not only basketball and homework that the boys tackle. They’ve also participated in food giveaways among other volunteer events.

“Last year we fed 300 people in Dudley,” Mirken said. “This year we’re giving 500 bagged lunches out on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The kids come in with their families and we make sandwiches to donate. They also write notes on the bags, so it’s a really cool experience.”

Mirken also said they volunteered at the Franklin Park Zoo, where the kids helped grow vegetables to feed the animals.

Whether these young BPS students go on to play for the Celtics or someday return to the Reggie Lewis Center to mentor a new generation, there’s no question that Mirken, Jacobs, and the rest of the 3 Point Foundation are making an impact on Boston.

And McDermott couldn’t be happier with what he’s witnessing.

“When you see a guy as prominent as Neil Jacobs sitting in the classroom with the kids on a Saturday, helping with math or whatnot, you just witness genuine commitment,” McDermott said.

“You see a real-life real-person commitment that means so much more than just putting money behind a cause. It’s really quite amazing what’s going on here.”

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

Brighton and O'Bryant to play unofficial city championship after Madison Park bows out of Thanksgiving game

Posted by Justin Rice November 19, 2013 06:31 PM

The following is first in a series of Thanksgiving football previews.

In an unexpected last-minute plot twist, the winners of the Boston City League North and Boston City League South will play an unofficial "city championship" game at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning at O’Bryant.

Madison Park bowed out of its traditional Thanksgiving matchup with campus rival O’Bryant, and Brighton stepped in to fill the void.

Brighton finished 7-0 to win the North and O’Bryant finished 7-0 to win the South, but there is no official city championship in football in Boston.

Brighton coach Randolph Abraham said the O’Bryant team captains approached him with the proposal during the Boston Scholar-Athlete program’s football banquet Saturday night, and the administrations of both schools approved the game Tuesday.

“We know each other well, we work closely with O’Bryant in the summer because they are one of the only other city teams to run the spread,” Abraham said. “We spent the summer working with each other and had a scrimmage.

“It’s the funniest thing. We already collected equipment. We had an emergency team meeting today and all of the kids are excited. They unanimously voted that they wanted to play on Thanksgiving. Now I’m talking to parents to get these kids to stay in Boston [for the holiday]. So far so good.”

Brighton doesn’t have a traditional Thanksgiving rival, and Abraham said the last time it played on Thanksgiving was in 1990 against Charlestown. The Bengals thought their season was over after they lost to Manchester Essex Regional, 42-28, in the Division 5 North sectionals at Harvard Stadium.

“It feels great," said Brighton quarterback Jalen Apperwhite, the BSA Player of the Year. "It feels like we have a second chance. I felt like the season was over.

"There’s been talk between both teams -- who is the real city champ? Now we get to see who is the actual city champ.”

Apperwhite said he has friends and family who play and coach for O’Bryant. So on previous Thanksgivings, he would watch them play against Madison Park or he would attend the Boston English-Boston Latin game since his father used to coach at Latin.

“One year I just stayed at home, helped mother cook Thanksgiving dinner, and just watched NFL games,” he said. “I was jealous. Now it’s like, ‘Hey, we finally get to have our big moment, a Thanksgiving game.

“I think it will be very exciting, because Thanksgiving morning everybody’s family always comes out, just a whole bunch of people. I know I’m going to have a lot of family out there. It will be nice to have everyone see me at my best. It will be a very uplifting feeling. I can’t put it into words right now.”

Abraham, who played at Brighton in the 1990s and took over as coach two years ago, said the previous coach, James Philip, never scheduled a Thanksgiving game because he thought the day should be spent with family and because he wanted his team to rest for the playoffs.

“[He thought] Thanksgiving is sacred, he was manly about it and wanted to rest. He likes to stay home and cook,” Abraham said. “I’ve been approached several times these last two years to pick up a Thanksgiving game. But with the new playoff system, it needs to be someone worth doing it, and O’Bryant is definitely that team and this is something hopefully we can continue to do.”

This will be the second straight year there is an unofficial "city championship." Last year, South winner Dorchester and North winner Madison Park happened to meet in the final regular-season game.

The winner is going to be the city champion," Abraham said. "Whoever wins the game is the city champ.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.


Brighton's Jalen Apperwhite is BSA Football Player of the Year

Posted by Justin Rice November 18, 2013 07:00 PM

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Brighton senior quarterback Jalen Apperwhite posed with his parents after winning the Boston Scholar Athlete's Football Player of the Year award on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. (Photo courtesy of Randolph Abraham)

Brighton quarterback Jalen Apperwhite was named the Boston Scholar-Athletes Boston Public Schools Football Player of the Year during a banquet at Gillette Stadium Saturday night.

The senior, who collected 21 passing and 5 rushing touchdowns, beat out last year’s Player of the Year, Kyle Dance, whose Latin Academy squad lost to St. Clement in the Division 6 North semifinal Saturday night.

Apperwhite said he thought either Dance or Brighton running back Ricardo Edwards was going to win the award.

“I actually thought Kyle was going to win,” Apperwhite said during a telephone interview on Monday. “I was very surprised when they said Brighton. I was like, ‘Oh, Ricardo got it.’ When they said, ‘Jalen,’ I was like, ‘Wow.’

“It felt good. I started training for the season back in June so it felt good to know that my hard work paid off.

"I couldn’t have gotten the stats this year without my teammates working out with me in June, July, August and throughout the season. None of that would have been possible without my brothers. It feels good after all the hard work to get that recognition.”

Former Patriot Patrick Pass gave the keynote address at the banquet, which was held in the EMC Club that overlooks the field.

“It was very nice,” Apperwhite said. “I couldn’t think of a nicer place to have the banquet at.”

O’Bryant coach Kevin Gadson was voted Coach of the Year by his peers after leading the Tigers to an undefeated regular season before falling to Latin Academy in the playoffs.

"It just meant that our program is going in the right direction and we’re doing a good job," Gadson said during a telephone interview on Monday. "It’s not a reflection of me. I think it’s more a reflection of our program and assistant coaches."

Brighton was unbeaten in the regular season before losing to Manchester Essex Regional, 42-28, in the Division 5 North sectionals at Harvard Stadium.

“We knew what to expect, and to go out there and lose our first game, it felt like it’s not supposed to happen, like we're supposed to go to the Super Bowl,” Apperwhite said. “I think that was part of the problem. We started thinking we were supposed to [go to the Super Bowl].

“The only thing I will say is that we did fight to the end. We didn’t turn into that team that doesn’t care anymore. We finished out the season as best as we could and made the best of what we had left.”

Apperwhite said he is applying to Stonehill, Amherst, Colby, and Howard, but he also is thinking about joining former Brighton standout football and basketball player Prince Unaegbu at Bridgton Academy in Maine.

“Right now I’m applying to both,” Apperwhite said. “At the end, I’ll weigh my options and see which is best for me and which is best for my future.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

Middle school football championships set for Friday at Harvard Stadium

Posted by Ryan Butler November 18, 2013 06:57 PM

The BPS middle school football championships are set for Friday at Harvard Stadium.

The Township Championship between the Dever-McCormack Panthers and Mildred Avenue will kick off at 4 p.m., and the City Championship between Timility Tigers and Lila G. Fredericks will follow at 6.

Come watch some rising BPS stars on the gridiron Friday at Harvard Stadium.

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

Latin Academy playoff run ends in dramatic fashion with loss to St. Clement

Posted by Justin Rice November 16, 2013 10:49 PM

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Latin Academy senior quarterback Kyle Dance scrambles during a 21-14 loss to St. Clement in the Division 6 North Sectional Final. (Billy Owens / For the Globe)

SOMERVILLE — After recovering consecutive stripped balls in the fourth quarter — including returning one 57 yards for a touchdown — the Latin Academy football team could not have been knocked out of the postseason in more dramatic fashion on Saturday night at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville.

Chinedu Igbokwe's 57-yard fumble return put the Dragons down 1 point with 6:42 to play in their eventual 21-14 loss to St. Clement in the Division 6 North Sectional Finals.

Igbokwe said the last-ditch comeback made the loss easier to swallow even though victory was close enough to taste.

“A lot of teams when something like that happens, when they get down, they break apart and people start to get angry, curse or whatever they want to do,” the senior running back and defensive end said after his team fell to 8-2 on the year. “But to know that we have the people and the personnel, integrity and charisma that we could stay together and keep our cool the whole game, it means so much to us and the coaches and to the fans and to everybody else.”

With 7:07 left in the game St. Clement (9-1) blocked a punt on fourth-and-3 from the 18. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety that gave the Anchormen the 15-6 lead. On the first play on the drive after the safety, Duc Nguyen and Igbokwe stripped running back Brandon Williams. Igbokwe scooped up the fumble and returned it 57 yards for the TD. Senior quarterback Kyle Dance added the 2-point conversion run to make it 15-14 with 6:42 left in the game.

"Usually in a more safe situation you just fall on top of the ball but in my head I knew we needed a score, so I knew I had to scoop it and run as far as I could," Igbokwe said. "Luckily my team recognized it and they formed a convoy around me and I pointed the people around me and they picked up the blocks really well. So it was a full team effort.
"[After the TD] I’m thinking 'This is our game, we got the game back. This is our game to win or to lose' but it didn’t pan out that way the way I wanted it to.”

Forty seconds later, Latin Academy stripped the ball again, this time from Deron Hines and took over on the St. Clement 40. But two plays later, Dance’s pass was deflected and intercepted by Will Rennie with 5:36 left. The Anchormen capitalized on the turnover with 3:20 left in the game when Michael Sullivan scored on a 24-yard QB keeper that put St. Clement up, 21-14.

“I have no clue [what happened on the interception], I thought the ball was in the air going to my receiver and I turned around and it’s an interception so …,” said a despondent Dance.

Dance finished the game 8 for 18 for 76 yards passing, including a TD pass and two interceptions. Dance was only playing at about 75 percent after he injured his left hamstring against O’Bryant in the semifinals. He only practiced once last week.

"It hurts because I feel like I let down the team," Dance said. "I didn’t think I was going to be hurt. I thought I would be able to do 100 percent but I couldn’t. It affected us and we lost the game.

“We played as hard as we could and we just came up short. We tried. We did our best and the better team won I guess.”

After St. Clement opened the scoring with an 8-yard TD pass with 3:29 left in the opening quarter, Dance threw an interception in the end zone with 7:16 left in the half. But after a 12-play drive, St. Clement finally punted the ball. During that drive there was a 15-minute delay when St. Clement lineman Connor Sullivan went down with an injury and was carted off in an ambulance.

After the delay ended, Latin Academy finally got on the board three plays into their drive when Dance hooked up with Devaughn Riley on a 39-yard pass. But Dance’s 2-point conversion run failed and the Dragons trailed, 7-6.

St. Clement responded with its own 39-yard TD pass when Sullivan connected with Junior Oyaronbi with 1:33 left in the half. The Anchormen led, 13-6, after they missed the extra point.

Latin Academy made the most of the final moments of the half but missed consecutive opportunities when Dance had two long passes to Riley broken up in the end zone. First Brandon Williams swatted away the pass before Bruce Khaneil blocked the ball on the very next play on third down. Riley was wide open up the seam on fourth and 10 from the 26, but Dance was forced to scramble and his off-balance pass could reach Riley.

“You’re not going to get them all,” Riley said. “They did a pretty good job stopping us. They are probably the best defense we faced all year and they did a good job holding us at the end and keeping us finishing the big plays.

“[It makes us feel] worse because we came so close. It was right there. We were just this close and we lost it.”

The No. 4 seed in the Division 6 North Sectional, Latin Academy defeated Dorchester, 22-14 in the quarterfinals before beating O’Bryant, 20-6, in the semifinals after Dance went down with an injury. Latin Academy coach Rocco Zizza said those two wins were the first in school history since the winner of the Boston City League South Division went straight to the Division 5 Super Bowl under the old playoff system.

Two years ago Latin Academy lost to Nantucket in the Super Bowl.

“Two years ago we went to the Super Bowl but only a handful of teams were in our division,” Zizza said. “This is a massive division [now]. A [MIAA official] beforehand said there are 200 teams that would love to be in our position tonight so I think it was a great opportunity for us.

“Each playoff game was the equivalent of a Super Bowl.”

Zizza also said his team will secure the best record in program history if they beat Charlestown on Thanksgiving morning.

“Usually after a playoff loss it’s really depressing and you say ‘I wish we could play one more game,’” Zizza said. “Well, we will be playing one more game.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

With super bowl berth on the line, Latin Academy and St. Clements matchup is sure to be a thriller

Posted by Ryan Butler November 15, 2013 01:37 PM

The stage is set for fourth seeded Boston Latin Academy to head back to the Super Bowl. The last time Latin Academy made it was in 2011, when they fell 35-7 to Nantucket.

All that stands in the Dragons way is a second seeded St. Clement’s team that defeated last season’s Division 6 champion Cathedral in dominating fashion, 28-8, in their semifinal matchup on Nov. 9.

Latin Academy quarterback Kyle Dance said all his team needs to do is go out there on Saturday night and play their game.

“Both teams are hungry,” Dance said in a recent phone interview. “I mean, it’s definitely going to be a battle. We just need to play our game. I think what it’s going to come down to is who’s hungrier.”

Dance logged two touchdowns during Latin Academy’s resounding 20-6 semifinal victory over City League South Champion O’Bryant, but left late in the first quarter with a slight leg injury.

After taking it easy for a few practices, Dance says he’s getting better.

“I’m in the healing process, so I’ve just been working my way back to full health so I can play Saturday,” he said. “I’ve also been seeing a personal trainer, too, and he say’s I’ll be ready to go.”

Dance and company will have their hands full with a St. Clement’s team that averaged 40 points a game during the regular season.

St. Clement’s coach Colin Walsh praised Latin Academy on being a sound team, and discussed his team’s preparation for the Dragon’s highflying offense in a recent interview over the phone.

“When you're playing against Latin Academy and coach Zizzi, you definitely have to do a ton of preparation,” he said.

“They throw so many different things at you offensively. So we’ve been working all week on our defense and containing Kyle Dance, who’s such a great athlete. The last time we made it to the Super Bowl was in 1984, so we’re definitely excited for this opportunity.”

Latin Academy and St. Clements will kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16th at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville.

For Dance, the opportunity for a super bowl berth in his senior year means everything.

But he was adamant in expressing that, more importantly, a win means more for all of his teammates who have worked so hard for the entire season.

“To make it this far, it means so much,” he said. “But not just personally. For the entire team. For all the players I’ve been playing varsity with for the last few years. If we come out like we did against O’Bryant in that first quarter, I think we’ll have a great chance. Now it’s just about proving as a team that we can go even farther.”

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

Five Boston Latin seniors sign letters of intent with Division 1 universities

Posted by Justin Rice November 13, 2013 09:34 AM

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From left to right, Paige Mulry signed to play softball for Providence College, Patrick “Packy” Naughton signed to play baseball at Virginia Tech, Maggie Mulligan signed to play basketball at UMass Amherst, Lucy Moyes signed to row at University of Rhode Island and Meagan Lew signed with the crew team at Duke University (Justin A. Rice / For the Globe)

Surrounded by classmates and parents, five Boston Latin School senior athletes signed National Letters of Intent during a Wednesday morning ceremony.

Paige Mulry signed to play softball for Providence College, Patrick “Packy” Naughton signed to play baseball at Virginia Tech, Maggie Mulligan signed to play basketball at UMass Amherst, Lucy Moyes signed to row at University of Rhode Island and Meagan Lew signed with the crew team at Duke University.

“I like the atmosphere of the school and the whole team was so nice, I couldn’t ask for a better school to go to,” Mulry, a utility player from West Roxbury, said of Providence. “The whole team, the coaching staff everything is so great.”

Another West Roxbury resident, Naughton, went 13-2 on the mound for Boston Latin as a junior last spring.

“When I went there I loved the campus and the coaching staff and everything was great,” he said of Virginia Tech. “Blacksburg is just so warming and welcoming and I loved it there.

“The competition is going to be increased dramatically. The bottom hitters aren’t going to be weak hitters. You’re going to have to pitch to every spot in the lineup like it’s the top of the order.”

Mulligan is excited to have achieved her goal of making it to a Division 1 basketball program at Umps.

“It was just such a perfect fit for me after I met the team, I just clicked with them,” she said. “It’s a huge honor. I think after all the hard work I’ve put in over the years it’s such an awesome thing to be able to say that I am doing and to compete at the next level.”

The 6-foot-2-inch junior center helped lead the Wolfpack to their first state tournament in 10 years last spring. She scored a game-high 11 points in their post-season loss to Lexington.

“I think [UMass is] going to have me move around [positions] but I’m ready to play whatever position they want me to,” she said while noting she needs to work on her strength and her jump shot. “I think the aspect of being more independent from my parents, they’ve been there the whole time, is going to be a tough transition but it should be interesting.”

Moyes and Lew are both coxswains on the Latin crew team.

“I really like the coaching staff there and I feel like when I went on my official visit I really clicked with the girls on the team,” Moyes said of URI. “And my mom actually went to Rhode Island and I just love the schools."

She said the fact that her mom also went to URI wasn't the deciding factor. It helped that
between athletic and academic scholarships Moyes has a full ride to URI.

“I chose the school because I wanted to go there but it’s also cool that [my mom] also went there,” she said.

Finally, Lew will join two other former Boston Latin rowers, Caroline Kiritsy and Rachel Wolsfelt, at Duke next fall.

“I think it’s so cool it definitely brings a bit of comfort going into Duke,” she said. “it's definitely nice to know people on the team going in. I rowed with Rachel Wolsfelt not with Caroline Kiritsy; she was older than me.

“I’m really excited. I definitely want to go premed track, definitely some sort of science but I’ll figure it out when I get there. I talked to Rachel about it and she said it’s a lot of studying and learning on your own which I think BLS has prepared me for. So I’m excited. I’ve seen Caroline and Rachel be very successful at Duke so I’m excited.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

Latin Academy and Dance set for matchup against St. Clement

Posted by Ryan Butler November 11, 2013 10:05 AM

After defeating top-seeded O’Bryant, 20-6, in the MIAA Division 6 North semifinals Friday night, fourth-seeded Latin Academy is set to continue its state run against St. Clement this Saturday at Dilboy Field in Somerville at 6 p.m.

And fortunately for Latin Academy, it appears that star quarterback Kyle Dance will be good to go.

Dance suffered a slight leg injury against O’Bryant during a first-quarter touchdown run and sat for the rest of the game. According to coach Rocco Zizzi, Dance has been taking his recovery one step at a time.

“He says he’s been getting better,” Zizzi said. “That’s all I really know so far. It was a slight pulled muscle in his leg on his second touchdown run, so he should be good to go on Saturday. But we’ll see what happens.”

Latin Academy will play a second-seeded St. Clement team that beat Cathedral, 28-8, and a Super Bowl berth will be on the line. The winner will head to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough Dec. 7.

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

Pedro Daveiga nets hat trick in Boston City League All-Star Game

Posted by Justin Rice November 9, 2013 05:01 PM

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Pedro Daveiga scores his third goal in the final minutes of the Red Team’s 3-0 victory against the Blue Team in the boys’ Boston City League All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon at Wentworth’s Sweeney Field.(Justin A. Rice / For the Globe)

Although his team failed to make the city championships and got knocked out of the state tournament in the first round, Pedro Daveiga managed to cap his final high school soccer game on a huge high note.

The Boston International senior scored a hat trick in the Red Team’s 3-0 victory against the Blue Team in the boys’ Boston City League All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon at Wentworth’s Sweeney Field.

“In the first half we didn’t control the ball, pass it around, after the first half the coach said the better we pass the ball the better we will play so we did that,” Daveiga said after scoring all his goals in the second half. “We kept on moving the ball around and made the passes. And on the last one the goalie kicked it to me and I the last goal.

“It feels great. Thanks to all the people that are here to watch me to play. I’m a senior and we didn’t make it so far we didn’t make it to the cities’ and we lost in the first round of the states. It was my last year. This one was my last game of my high school season so I’m happy to finish it great.”

After launching a rocket from the left side of the net for his first goal in the 27th minute of the second half, Daveiga scored again in the 34th minute and again in 37th minute.

“The first goal [West Roxbury’s Ricter Mirville] crossed two people and passed it to the side and I moved forward and I got a shot to the corner,” Daveiga said. “The second one it was the same thing from the other side. On the last one the goalie just kicked it to me and two guys were on me and I just fought my way in and got the shot.”

A few minutes after the first goal, the Blue Team’s Kovin Ortiz hit a shot off the crossbar that could have tied the game.

“I was just asking for the ball and [my teammate] kept crossing everybody up but by the time he got it to me it was too late,” the Madison Park senior said. “I barely got to touch it because the defender was there and it hit off the crossbar.

“I wanted to finish with a win but there’s only team that won the game. They had a chance to win the game, three goals.”

The Red Team was coached by Dorchester’s Tim Lavin, whose team was the last City League soccer team to bow out of the state tournament the previous night with a 3-1 loss to Masconomet in the Division 2 North semifinals.

Lavin said the victory took the sting out of Friday night’s loss a little bit.
“The All-Star game is always fun and it’s nice to coach a group of good players and good young men,” he said. “They worked well together today and got themselves a few goals and a nice little win.

“We were able to create a few chances for Pedro and he’s an excellent finisher for both Boston International and for us today. He took those chances and we’re appreciative that he did. It’s a nice way for the city to cap off the season and celebrate soccer here in Boston.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

Blue team overpowers Red squad in girls' soccer All-Star game

Posted by Justin Rice November 9, 2013 04:58 PM

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South Boston’s Daitannah Smith scored a goal for the Blue Team in their 7-2 victory in Saturday afternoon’s girls’ Boston City League All-Star Game at Wentworth. (Justin A. Rice / For the Globe)

The fact that the majority of the players on the Blue All-Star squad play offense for their respective squads really showed during Saturday afternoon’s girls’ Boston City League All-Star game.

“When we first got here we kind of did a survey to see who plays what and all the girls play offense so it was like ‘OK so we’re going to have to move it around,’” New Mission coach Kerry Cormier, who co-coached the Blue All-Stars with Christine Kennedy, said after the 7-2 victory at Wentworth’s Sweeney Field.

“But the girls were great. They volunteered to play any position we wanted which was really nice to have. So we had a lot of flexibility just getting everybody in there and having fun.”

The Blue Team proved to have too much firepower for the Red Team as Charlestown’s Janiel Gordon and New Mission’s Amy Morales each scored two goals apiece.

“It was amazing,” said Gordon, who scored the first two goals of the game. “I prepared all the time and then it finally paid off.”

The Blue Team also got goals from Boston International’s Lovelyse Bien-Ami, Madison Park’s Berlizia Brito and South Boston’s Daitannah Smith.

While Gordon’s goals both came before the Blue squad took a 4-1 lead at halftime, Morales scored a goal in each half.

“I believe it’s an honor to be on the All-Star team because you get to be on a team of All-Stars not just players from your own school,” Morales said. “And you get to share a great experience. It also proves that you can play with other people even if it’s last minute. We all got along, no arguments or anything. The All-Star game was a great opportunity.”

Cormier and Kennedy, who co-coach New Mission, were coaching in the All-Star game for the firs time.

“It’s great to have a bunch of girls who all play soccer really well,” Kennedy said. “We had to keep subbing which was fun getting all the girls in and they all played great.
It was just a lot of fun to have girls who all love playing soccer playing together and playing a great game and having fun.”

O’Bryant coach Jason Joseph, who was coaching in the All-Star game for the second time in three years, said his team had fun despite the loss.

“I think they had a good time but they had a little bit more fire power is I guess the way to say it,” he said. “It’s an honor to here but it’s tricky, I’m just trying to get every girl in there and make sure they have fun. It’s tough when you don’t know them. I think we had 10 forwards and no midfielders, trying to mix and match; we had no goalie.”

There was no shortage of firepower on the Red Team’s first goal, a rocket by East Boston’s Vanessa Mejia-Figueroa from about 30 yards out in the 35th minute of the first half. Snowden’s Bianca Glover scored the other goal for the Red Team on an assist from West Roxbury’s Hiba Kafel in the 38th minute of the second half.

“The first goal that was a blast,” Joseph said. “That girl ripped it. She ripped it.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

Despite loss in Division 6 state semi, O'Bryant looking ahead to more football

Posted by Ryan Butler November 8, 2013 10:03 PM

It was a chilly Friday night under the lights when Latin Academy and O’Bryant met in a highly anticipated rematch in the MIAA Division 6 semifinals at Madison Park.

Both teams dominated the City League this year. In an earlier matchup, O’Bryant defeated Latin Academy, 21-8, to capture the South championship.

But on this Friday night in November, one team would see its state run come to an end. And that team was O’Bryant.

Latin Academy upended O’Bryant, 20-6, with all three touchdowns coming in the first quarter. Senior quarterback Kyle Dance had a pair of rushing touchdowns, while running back Chenedu Ighokue chipped in one.

But after the game, O’Bryant assistant coach Michael Branch told his players to hold their heads high, and reiterated that there was still football to be played. It was clear that although his Tigers lost, he was proud of what they’ve accomplished over the course of the season.

“We didn’t play our game today,” he said. “But don’t hold your head down. It’s been a long season, but we still have to finish it off. We still have work to do. I want to give you guys a hand for not hanging your head and giving up in the second half. So good job, you put up a fight and that’s what it's all about.”

O’Bryant led the City League in defense this year, allowing on average of 7.8 points a game. It showed against Latin Academy for three of four quarters, but it was that first quarter that proved costly.

For an O’Bryant team that suffered its first loss of the year in early November, head coach Kevin Gadson was also all business with his team afterward. Until he started talking about their Thanksgiving game.

“We’ve got a lot of alumni coming back to watch you on Thanksgiving,” he said. “I’m old school Boston Tech; there’s a lot of older guys coming to watch some good football. I know tonight hurts, gentlemen. But they [Latin Academy] can’t take away that you are the Boston South champions. They cannot take that away. So good job.”

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

Latin Academy advances by avenging loss to O'Bryant

Posted by Justin Rice November 8, 2013 07:47 PM


A fiery first quarter counteracted the November chill and powered the Latin Academy football team as they cooled off previously unbeaten O’Bryant on Friday night.

The 20-6 victory at Madison Park in Friday's MIAA in a Division 6 North semifinal puts the Dragons one win away from a trip to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

Latin Academy will play the winner of Saturday’s game between Cathedral and St. Clement next weekend for a chance at Gillette in the North sectional final.

The victory also avenged the the Dragons’ only loss of the season, a 21-8 setback to the Tigers in October.

“With all of the hard work we put in all season, it would be devastating to lose to a team twice,” Latin Academy quarterback Kyle Dance said. “We all came together as a team and I think we’ll all be ready to do the same next week.”

O’Bryant (8-1) could never rebound from playing without their starting quarterback and one of the team’s most adept players Ajani Alfred-McFall, who injured his left leg as he got dragged down awkwardly on a run on the third play of the game.

The only score O’Bryant could muster came on a third-quarter strip sack by Tobi Fashemi that was recovered by Michael McLean, who ran it into the endzone from seven yards out.

Mehki Williams rushed for a game-high 129 yards on 19 carries for the Tigers.

Latin Academy (8-1) was held scoreless for the final three straight quarters, but with the work they had put in during the first quarter, the lead was safe. In just four minutes of play late in the first quarter, the Dragons pounced on the Tigers and posted 20 unanswered straight points.

Two of Latin Academy’s scores came by way of after fumble recoveries. Chinedu Igbokwe scored the Dragons’ first touchdown on a 4-yard rush with 4:36 to go in the first quarter.

Kyle Dance, following an O’Bryant fumble on the snap on the second play of their drive, sliced through the Tigers’ defense the first play of the drive on his way to a 22-yard touchdown rush. O’Bryant muffed the kickoff, its third fumble of the quarter, and the Dragons recovered, leading to Dance’s second rushing score of the game four plays later from 34 yards out.

Midway through his second TD run, Dance pulled a leg muscle but was still able to score before laying in the end zone for a few minutes. And Although he would not return to the game, his presence on the field was already felt.

“We had an advantage running the ball our coach said, and it worked out for us” said Dance, who looked faster than he had all year long on his two touchdown rushes right up the middle of the O’Bryant defense. “I think it was [the adrenaline flowing]. In these big games you got to step up for your team and I tried my best until that one run where my hamstring just gave out on me, other than that I tried my best.”

Lorenzo Recupero covers Boston Public school football. He can be reached at Lorenzorecupero@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @LorenzoRecupero

Dorchester's improbable ride ends with semifinal loss to Masconomet

Posted by Justin Rice November 8, 2013 07:09 PM

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Dorchester's Saadiq Abubakar (above) logged an assist on Roberson Cevat's first-half goal but the Bears lost, 3-1, to Masconomet in the Division 2 North semifinals Friday at Woburn High.(Billy Owens / For the Globe)

WOBURN — The Dorchester High boys’ soccer team reached uncharted waters Friday.

But after making the Division 2 North semifinals for the first time in coach Tim Lavin’s decade-long tenure, the Bears fell, 3-1, to Masconomet (21-1-1) at Woburn High.

The No. 2-seeded Bears (17-1-2) also made it to the city tournament this year for the first time in Lavin’s tenure, losing, 2-0, to Madison Park in the championship game.

“It was a great season,” Lavin said. “We went farther in the state tournament than we have in my tenure of 10 years. But we weren’t happy to just be in the semifinals. We wanted more. That's why you play the games.

"We’re disappointed, but credit to Masco. They’re a strong team, and when we made mistakes, they made us pay for them.”

After a 1-1 tie at the half, Masconomet went ahead at the 36:56 mark of the second half when senior midfielder Paul Criscione put back a shot at point-blank range that rebounded off the chest of Dorchester goalkeeper Heroldens Limage.

The Chieftains got on the board first on their second consecutive corner kick from the left side. Senior midfielder Jack Heintzelman drilled a ball to the center of the box before senior midfielder Adam Grammer headed it in at the 26:57 mark.

Dorchester tied the game, 1-1, at the 15:25 mark when senior midfielder Saadiq Abubakar put a soft pass just in front of the right post that looked like it would trickle out of bounds. But senior forward Roberson Cevat reached it just in time to knock it past senior goalkeeper Willie Stewart.

“After I scored, we thought we were going to win the game,” Cevat said. “They were kind of tall and we just freaked out and that’s what happened.”

With 8:09 left, Grammar was awarded a penalty kick that Limage saved by diving to his left. Grammar was awarded the PK after a Dorchester player was given a red card for accidentally blocking Grammar’s shot with his hand.

But the Chieftains iced the game with their final goal at the 5:31 mark when senior striker Edison Forbes put away a ball on a counterattack.

Known for scoring goals in bunches this season, Dorchester’s offense dried up on Friday night. Dorchester beat Reading, 7-1, in the first round before beating Lynn Classical, 4-0, in the quarterfinals to advance to Friday’s game.

“We created some opportunities, they did a nice job defensively to limit us,” Lavin said. “In other games, we were able to create more opportunities and capitalize. Tonight they did a good job limiting us on those.”

But Lavin was happy to see his team get the first goal back going into halftime.

“For us in every game, win or lose, we play hard the whole time,” Lavin said. “We could have put our head down, Masco’s a great team, but we got back into it. We just in the second half put ourselves in a hole we couldn’t dig out of.”

And even though he’s graduating 12 seniors who have gone to the state tournament four consecutive seasons, Lavin is optimistic that this year is the turning point for his program.

“This has been a really exciting campaign, going to the city championships and winning in the state tournament. This is their fourth year in a row in the state tournament, but [first] advancing [deep] in the tournament.

“So, a lot of milestones for this season for the program and we’re hoping to build on it. We are graduating a lot of seniors so we lose a lot of experience but I think the underclassmen who have been along for the ride … we’ll be able to utilize that experience and energy from this season.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.


After state tournament loss, Madison Park's Gomes and Tuloe ready to move on

Posted by Justin Rice November 7, 2013 09:02 PM

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Madison Park sophomore forward Bill Tuloe will likely play for the Revs Academy next year. (Billy Owens / For the Boston Globe)

LYNN —The Madison Park boys’ soccer team suffered its toughest loss of the season on Thursday night at the Manning Bowl in Lynn.

But the 1-0 double overtime loss to St. John’s Prep in the MIAA Division 1 North boys’ soccer semifinal might not be as tough to take as the losing their coach, Joao Gomes, and best player, Bill Tuloe, next year.

Tuloe will likely play for the New England Revolutions youth development program Under-16 team next year.

After guiding the second-seeded Cardinals (14-2-3) to four straight city championships this year, Gomes will leave after a decade coaching the team because he wants to watch his son play soccer for the Waltham prep school Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall.

Gomes said he only saw his son play twice this season.

“It reinforced when I went to see him play yesterday,” Gomes said of his decision to not coach next year. “[I want to] go and carry his bag. He has three more years. Once that opportunity goes, you can’t have that back.”

Tuloe, who was named to the New England Revolution Academy Under-16 team in August, said he never played a game for the Revs Academy because his paperwork has yet to be cleared by FIFA. According to the Revs Academy website, players participating on a US Soccer Development Academy (i.e. U-16 group or older for a MLS Academy) are not eligible to play for their high school team.

“They just have to check a lot of stuff,” the sophomore forward said. “It’s not a disappointment, I’m waiting to have that chance to play for them. It’s a great opportunity. I just have to keep my head up and go out there and do my thing.

“Everybody [on Madison Park] understands you have to take one step forward. If you have the opportunity to move forward in your life you just have to keep going. I would love to [keep playing high school soccer]. I can’t with all the rules and stuff. I don’t make the rules I just have to go by the rules. This was my last opportunity and I came up short.”

Tuloe missed a huge opportunity in the second overtime on Thursday. At the 5:46 mark he missed just left of the net on a breakaway. About two minutes later St. John’s Prep (16-2-3) scored to end the game.

“It was an even match, it’s all part of the game,” Tuloe said. “Everyone comes out to win. We came out here and gave everything we have but it’s all part of the game.”

Junior goalkeeper Joao Rosa made three crucial saves in overtime, including two diving saves, before he gave up the winning goal.

“I hope we have a good team next year,” he said. “All of my defenders are leaving but hopefully we’ll get good defenders. We’re losing our coach, he’s the best coach. [I’ve had] three years with him. He’s a good coach but he wants to retire and go support his son. That’s good.”

Gomes wasn’t going to coach this year either but he returned just before the start of the season because the school couldn’t find a replacement.

“I didn’t want to leave these kids just hanging,” Gomes said. “I wanted to make sure we have someone who understands the Madison park intensity.”

First year assistant coach, Rui Pina, who won four city championships with Madison Park before graduating in 1981, is Gomes’s likely successor. Pina also works in the school's carpentry department.

“I’m going to lose also the seniors that really contributed to our team that we got this far, namely Yanick [Depina], Claudio [Teixeira], Vander [Brito] and Kovin [Ortiz]. Those are the defensive line that I’m going to lose all four of them. But I got some solid kids to work with. Joao our goalie is still going to be around. He played amazing. He did what he needed to do.”

No matter who comes back, Madison Park will still be a contender to win their fifth straight city championships next year.

“That would mean a lot, that would be my fourth,” Rosa said. “That would mean a lot for the team too, for our new head coach, trying to get him one too.”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.


Madison Park's boys' impressive state run ends at the hands of St. John's Prep, 1-0, in OT

Posted by Ryan Butler November 7, 2013 08:50 PM

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Madison Park senior Claudio Teixeira and St. John's Prep senior Matt Chilton fight for the ball during Prep's 1-0 double overtime victory in the Division 1 boys' soccer semifinal on Thursday night at the Manning Bowl in Lynn. (Billy Owens / For The Boston Globe)

Days after the Cardinals beat Acton-Boxborough off a deflection by an opposing player, Madison Park fell in similar fashion, 1-0, to St John’s Prep in double overtime in their Division 1 MIAA semifinal matchup.

“I told them in the beginning it was going to come down to whoever made a mistake,” said Cardinals coach Joao Gomes. “We made a mistake. We left a man in the middle wide open.”

St. John’s junior midfielder Tom Erickson scored at the 3:32 mark in the second overtime to give his Eagles the victory. But according to Cardinals' goalie Joao Rosa, the ball was slightly deflected off one of his Cardinal teammates.

“The ball hit my player on his feet, and it went through,” Rosa said. “I could have got it, but [someone] was in front of me and he blocked my view. It is what it is, you can’t do anything about it.”

Despite some great passing and ball control on both sides, Madison Park and St. John’s entered the overtime in a complete offensive stalemate.

And right off the bat, St. John’s came out firing.

Forty-five seconds into the first overtime, Eagles junior midfielder Paul Magazzu had a scoring opportunity, but was thwarted by a great save from Rosa.

Seconds later, Rosa once again bailed the Cardinals out with a key save. On an ensuing St. John’s corner kick, he bolted out of net to break up a great ball from Sam Swain.

Madison Park survived the first overtime, and actually appeared to snatch momentum away from St. John’s midway through the second.

At the 5:46 mark, forward Bill Tuloe had a breakaway for Madison Park, but pushed the ball wide left. Less than a minute later, midfielder Stephan Dias had a similar breakaway for the Cardinals, but he too missed wide.

"I was trying to place the ball inside so he couldn't stretch for it,” Tuloe said. “But he stretched his legs so far and he just got a touch on it… it’s just all part of the game."

It was minutes after Tuloe’s chance that Erickson ended the Cardinals' season with one swift kick.

“It really is amazing,” Erickson said. “Such a great experience for my team and I. It just feels great to be in the finals again. We all played a really good game, passing and everything. But that goal, I really don’t know where it came from.”

This is Cardinals coach Joao Gomes's last season at Madison Park, who will step down as the team’s coach after a decade because he wants to watch his son play soccer at Chapel Hill Chauncy Hall. He had coached Madison Park to four straight City League championships, and Thursday's game was its only loss of the season.

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

BPS citywide cross-country team preps for state meet

Posted by Justin Rice November 7, 2013 02:44 PM

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Colin Rose leads the Boston Public Schools citywide cross-country team in a preseason workout. In just its second season after being revived, the team is preparing for this weekend's state meet. (Justin A. Rice, For the Boston Globe)

Before her first season running for the revived Boston Public Schools citywide cross-country team last fall, Maria Lewis was a little uncertain about her new sport’s benchmarks.

“I thought an eight-minute mile was great but apparently it’s not that good,” the Fenway High senior said shortly before the team’s second season began this fall. “It’s like a beginner mile, so this year I’m aiming for like a 7:20 split. I would like my 3.1-mile time to drop a little more. So I’m definitely going to work a little harder this year.”

In just its second season, the team will take 14 athletes to Saturday’s EMass Division 1 meet at the Wrentham Development Center, including Raymond Chai, Ryan Cheung, Ryan Larapena, Sean Martinez, Shaquan Richards, Tayo Stuppard, Joseph West, Britney Firmin, Ashley Lewis, Leigha Mills, Imani Pressley, Asma Rivera, Ashley Rodriguez, and Ajia Salmon.

The city’s cross-country program was revived in 2003 by former O’Bryant runner Ruben Sanca, who represented Cape Verde in the 2012 London Olympics. When Sanca graduated in 2005, the city’s cross-country mantle was picked up by Charlestown runners Omar Aden and Ahmed Ali. But after Aden and Ali graduated and went on to run for the University of Arkansas and Providence College, respectively, the team fell by the wayside once again.

Last year, Snowden history teacher and track coach Pam Rose was tapped to restart the team.

“A lot of these runners were runners for outdoor track [last year] and they saw the benefits in their season a little bit earlier,” Rose said before this season started. “So they see the benefit and they are bringing in people as well and it’s spread across the team. And they know if they want to get better they need to do cross-country.

“For this year, we definitely learned a lot more about recruiting and getting kids and the types of kids, so the recruiting started during the outdoor season.”

The team also features several Seventh Day Adventists who are unable to compete on Saturday for religious reasons. Rose said she learned to deal with that.

“You can’t just rely on a few kids,” she said. “We just had to let it go and participate where we could participate and it worked out.”

Rose’s husband, Colin Rose, also helps coach the team. He said last year was difficult because all of the runners were doing cross-country for the first time.

“Right now, we’re going out for a half-hour run and they know how to pace themselves,” he said before a preseason workout. “It really is starting from second base instead of being in the dugout last year.”

Colin Rose said the next step will be to create internal competition on the team.

“We’re building a program -- we’re not going to be state champions this year,” he said. ”But if we can get a core of kids that are competing with each other, we should see some good results.”

While they might not win the state championship, their efforts on the course will pay off when it comes to the indoor track season this winter and the outdoor track season in the spring.

“I think it’s going to push me to do more of what I want to do this season because last season I didn’t really know what I was doing and I wasn’t really sure about the times and stuff,” Lewis said.

Lewis also said she’s proud to have helped revive the team.

“The bigger the team gets, the more proud you get," she said. "It’s like, ‘OK we started this. We’re leaving but we’re not leaving Ms. Rose with an empty hand.'

"We’re bringing in more people to come in and make the team bigger so we can make a bigger difference in Boston than we did last year.' ”

Justin A. Rice covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

Sun Life Financial awards two high school seniors with $5,000 scholarships before Celtics game

Posted by Ryan Butler November 7, 2013 12:07 PM

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Sun Life Rising Star Award Recipient Melvin Harrison (Roxbury hometown); Co-owner of the Boston Celtics Steve Pagliuca; Celtics GuardRajon Rondo; Sun Life Rising Star Award Recipient Aylin Garcia Soto (Roslindale hometown); and Sun Life Regional Group Manager Stephen Reynolds. (Photo Courtesy of Sun Life Financial.)

Sun Life Financial surprised two deserving high school seniors Wednesday night with a special presentation and $5,000 scholarships at TD Garden before the Boston Celtics played the Utah Jazz.

Aylin Garcia Soto of O’Bryant High School and Melvin Harrison of Boston Day & Evening Academy were honored, and then watched the game with their families in style via suite.

Not to mention these two rising stars were able to meet Celtic superstar Rajon Rondo on the Celtic’s hardwood court.

“I’m so shocked,” Soto said. “I didn’t know I was going to get the scholarship. It’s not that I’m a bad student or anything; actually I do really well at O’Bryant. But still, I’m just in shock. I’m really happy to have the opportunity to get this scholarship.”

Sun Life has been awarding these “Rising Star Scholarships” for four years now, and has expanded its reach through 14 different cities. A total of $110,000 in scholarships and grants has been awarded to Boston students and various non-profit organizations this year alone.

“Our mission at Sun Life with our Rising Star scholarships is to help protect what these kids value in their lives most,” Portland branch Manager Stephen Reynolds said during the presentation.

Soto and Harrison were nominated by community organizations Bottom Line and Brookview House, who we’re also awarded a $50,000, grant each on behalf of their desire to provide Boston’s urban youth with collegiate opportunities and improve their quality of life.

Both based out of Boston, Bottom Line guides high school seniors on their college search while Brookview House provides a community setting for homeless mothers and children while giving them the necessary skills they need to succeed.

Wednesday was definitely a night of jubilation and fun for Soto and Harrison, and the special event concluded with these Rising Stars watching the Celtics get their first win of the season.

For more information on Sun Life Financial’s Rising Star Awards, click here.

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

Latin Academy and O'Bryant football set for anticipated rematch with Super Bowl berth on the line

Posted by Ryan Butler November 7, 2013 09:32 AM

This Friday’s MIAA football semifinal matchup between Latin Academy and O’Bryant showcases two well-coached teams that were forces this year in the City League.

Now, less than two weeks after O’Bryant topped Latin Academy, 21-8, for the Boston South title, these two powerhouse will meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Madison Park. The winner will be one win away from advancing to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

And you can bet it’ll be quite the contest.

“Last time we played, we had seven turnovers,” Latin Academy coach Rocco Zizzi said. “You can’t win a game with that many mistakes. O’Bryant’s a very good team, with a great defense. We’re just happy to have an opportunity to prove ourself again.”

During their last meeting, O’Bryant led a well-balanced offensive attack that had touchdowns from quarterback Ajani Alfred-McFall, and running backs Mehki Williams and Kevin Nash.

Latin Academy’s lone score came in the second quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run from quarterback Kyle Dance.

This semifinal is shaping up to be a classic offense vs. defense battle. On offense, Latin Academy led the league averaging 29.4 points a game while O’Bryant led defensively only allowing on average 7.8 points a game.

“It’s going to be a hard fought game, just like any other one we prepare for,” O’Bryant coach Kevin Gadson said. “This week, we’re just trying to continue to get better on offense, defense and special teams. It’s all about getting better.”

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

Madison Park continues its run, defeats Acton-Boxborough, 1-0, in double OT

Posted by Ryan Butler November 5, 2013 07:00 PM

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Madison Park's Rohan Wynter (left) battles with Acton-Boxborough's Chris Benson (right) in the Cardinal's thrilling, 1-0, double overtime win Tuesday afternoon. (Billy Owens / For the Boston Globe.)

Another chapter was added to the story that is the Madison Park boys’ soccer team Tuesday afternoon when it battled a tough Acton-Boxborough team in a Division 1 MIAA quarterfinal.

And oh, what a battle it was.

Madison Park eventually edged Acton-Boxborough, 1-0, in double overtime to clinch a spot in a semifinal matchup with St. John’s Prep, which also won Tuesday, 1-0, over Lexington.

“I thought we started the game off kind of slow,” Madison Park coach Joao Gomes said. “But I knew we were going to hold out on defense, so I just kept telling the guys to keep playing hard and one was eventually going to go in.”

But neither Gomes nor anybody else in attendance could have predicted that the deciding goal would come off a deflection from the opposing team.

With the second 10-minute overtime period winding down and penalty kicks looking certain to follow, Madison Park had a throw-in opportunity deep in Acton-Boxborough’s zone.

This wasn’t an uncommon scenario for the Cardinals.

All afternoon, senior defender Emiky Pires fired throw-ins toward Colonial goalie Andrew Hoang, hoping for a rare header opportunity. And Pire’s persistence finally paid off with almost no time remaining.

In a cluster of both Cardinals and Colonials, the ball deflected off an A-B player to give Madison Park the victory in thrilling fashion.

“I was telling the guys all game to stay on that back post. I’ll get you the ball there,” Pires said. “We’ve got some tall players, so I kept saying that I’ll find them off the throw-in. It was a lucky one, but it worked.”

Both defenses dominated all afternoon. Acton-Boxborough held tough, and ultimately a strange play ended its season.

“My team’s been fantastic all year,” Acton-Boxborough coach David Baumritter said. “We’ve been very resilient and found ways to win games. Unfortunately tonight we just couldn’t pull it together. Madison Park has some strong individual players, and they deserved to win this game for sure.”

Madison Park, the Boston City champion, continues its tournament run Thursday at Manning Field in Lynn at 5 p.m.

And the Cardinals couldn’t be more thrilled.

“Today’s a huge win,” Pires said. “We want to keep winning and continue to move forward. We want to show everyone what we’ve got. State has been what we’ve been looking for all season.”

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

Volleyball all-star game, roster announced

Posted by Ryan Butler November 5, 2013 01:38 PM

The 2013 volleyball all-star game and roster has been announced.

The game is scheduled to be played at noon Nov. 23 at the UMass Boston Clark Athletic Center.

Here’s a look at each team’s roster:

South All - Stars
Coach: Trudy Fisher, O'Bryant

Name, Team
Medgine Joseph , Burke
Djany Gomes, Burke
Kendra Pierre, CASH
Fabiola Michel, CASH
Nalitza Valentin, Dorchester
Tanaisha Willis, Dorchester
Heidy Barriero, English
Maxiel Gerardin Ramirez, English
Idil Barros, English
Camly Phan, O'Bryant
Nacy Lui, O'Bryant
Bonnie Lei, O'Bryant
Emily Chan, Snowden
Elaine Chan, Snowden
Virializ Romero, West Roxbury
Melissa Pena, West Roxbury
Manouska Jean, Snowden

North All - Stars
Coach: Gladys Perez-Byrd, Madison Park

Name, Team
Reyna Joint, Brighton
Gurlandy Laguerre, Brighton
Alex Wilson, BLA
Christina Wong, BLA
Emma Sandlykke, Charlestown
Joselyn Leiva, Charlestown
Renata Pinto, East Boston
Clarita Prudencio, East Boston
Bradley Sanchez, International
Nunez, International
Antanea Green, Madison Park
Rebecca Mondesir, Madison Park
Rebeca Saravia, Madison Park
Elainey Wright-McCarthy, South Boston
Jose Honore, South Boston
Jessica Collins, South Boston
Victoria Thong, BLA

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

Boys' and girls' soccer All-Star games/rosters announced

Posted by Ryan Butler November 5, 2013 01:15 PM

The schedule and rosters for the boys’ and girls’ soccer all-star games have been announced.

Both games will be played on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Wentworth Institute of Technology’s Sweeney Field. The girls’ game kicks off at noon and will be followed by the boys' game at 2 p.m.

Here’s a look at the rosters:

Girls' South

Coach: Jason Joseph, O'Bryant

Name,Team
Alica Lima, Burke
Carla Lobo, Burke
Kaylin Thomas, Dorchester
Derasia Green, Dorchester
Vanessa Mejia-Figueroa, East Boston
Hannah Lunetta, East Boston
Pamela Sepulveda, East Boston
Kristina Colon, English
Mindy Laura, English
Oumou Bah, English
Yonetta Harris, O'Bryant
Keena Nicholas, O'Bryant
Laura Escolero, Snowden
Bianca Glover, Snowden
Hiba Kafel,West Roxbury
Hirmine Francois, West Roxbury

Girls' North

Coaches: Kerry Haczyk and Christine Kennedy, New Mission/BCLA

Name, Team
Brianna Alves-Gomes, Brighton
Meybel Lopez-Flores, Brighton
Janiel Gordon, Charlestown
Damani Wedderburn, Charlestown
Jennifere Lunche, CASH
Deshanique Tarkpor, CASH
Evanilde Semedo, International
Lovelyse Bien-Ami, International
Colby Cahill, Latin Academy
Sandra Seone-Seri, Latin Academy
Jillian Eweka, Latin Academy
Berlizia Brito, Madison Park
Luise Kasemba, Madison Park
Alison Davey, New Mission
Amy Morales, New Mission
Vanessa Nguyen, South Boston
Daitannah Smith, South Boston

Boys' South

Coach: Tim Lavin, Dorchester

Name, Team
Zachary Marsille, CASH
Alonso Avina, CASH
Merveil Meyitang,Dorchester
Warren Exceus, Dorchester
Heroldy Limage, Dorchester
Amando Acevedo, English
Makhdum Qurashei, English
Pedro Daveiga, International
Yuron Gomes, International
Matteo Grando, Latin Academy
Julian Zapata, Latin Academy
Anis Medjahed, O'Bryant
Junior Depina, O'Bryant
Richter Mirville, West Roxbury
Emmanuel Jean-Charle, West Roxbury

Boys' North

Coach: Hussien Issa, Brighton

Name, Team
Lizandro Nogueira, Brighton
Michiale Wineh, Brighton
Gelson Gomes, Burke
Alexssander Lopes, Burke
Mahamed Abdirahman, Charlestown
Guillermo Salinas, Charlestown
Ben Lara, East Boston
Benjamin Buenrostro, East Boston
Kovin Ortiz, Madison Park
Joiro Ortiz, Madison Park
Claudio Teixeira, Madison Park
Boubacar Seck, Snowden
Gabriel Porter, Snowden
Freddy Espinosa, South Boston
Phat Tran, South Boston

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

O'Bryant beats West Roxbury, 33-18, in MIAA playoffs

Posted by Ryan Butler November 1, 2013 06:44 PM

The MIAA football playoffs kicked off Friday, and O’Bryant hosted West Roxbury in a matchup of great running backs.

And it was Tigers senior Mehki Williams who stole the show.

Behind Williams's four touchdowns, O'Bryant was able to subdue a West Roxbury team that couldn’t stop the run, 33-18.

“We definitely made some mistakes out there,” Williams said. “But in the end, we really came together offensively, especially in the second half.”

Williams scored three of his touchdowns in the first quarter, twice on runs and the other on an 8-yard pass from quarterback Ajani Alfred-McFall.

The Tigers took a 19-0 lead into the second quarter, but following some penalties and a 3-yard touchdown by the Raiders' Michael Obiangwe, the lead was down to 19-6.

Obiangwe came out running hard in the third quarter, and midway through the period, he powered his way for a 48-yard touchdown scamper, which cut the lead to 7.

Following another Williams touchdown, this dash from 15 yards, the Raiders responded again when quarterback David Bertucci tossed a 46-yard touchdown pass to Ruel DeLarosa. But that proved to be all the offense the Raiders could muster on the day, and a late touchdown run by O’Bryant’s Alfred-McFall solidified the win.

Though victorious, Tigers coach Kevin Gadson wasn’t thrilled with his team's penalties.

“We had over 100 yards in penalties -- that can’t happen in the playoffs,” he told his team. “Our offense had our back today, but defensively we didn’t perform well. But great job, offense.”

The Tigers will square off next against the winner of the Latin Academy-Dorchester game, and Williams, who also plays middle linebacker, said this week of practice will be used to shape things up on defense.

“Tackling was our main flaw,” he said. “So we’re going to work on our gang-tackling and overall speed on defense to prepare for whoever we end up playing.”

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

MIAA state tournament schedule for BPS teams

Posted by Ryan Butler November 1, 2013 01:13 PM

Some BPS teams have made it into MIAA state tournaments this year. Here’s an update on when and where they’ll be playing.

Boys’ soccer

Madison Park: playing at home Sunday at 1 p.m. (opponent TBA)
East Boston: playing Lowell Sunday at 1.p.m. at Lowell
Brighton: playing Cambridge Friday at 2 p.m. at Cambridge
Burke: playing Sunday at 2 p.m. at Ceylon Park, Dorchester (opponent TBA)
Boston International: playing Bishop Fenwick Saturday at 4 p.m. at English

Girls’ soccer

East Boston: playing Salem Sunday at 3 p.m. at East Boston
O’Bryant: playing Woburn Sunday at 3 p.m. at Madison Park
Latin Academy: playing Dracut Sunday at 2 p.m. at English
New Mission: playing Tuesday at New Mission (opponent and time TBA)

Volleyball

O’Bryant: playing Lynn Classical Saturday at 4 p.m. at Madison Park
East Boston: playing Weston Sunday at 1 p.m. at Weston
English: playing Stoneham Saturday at 4 p.m. at English
Latin Academy: playing Newton South Saturday at 4 p.m. at Latin Academy
Madison Park: playing Cambridge Saturday at 7 p.m. at Cambridge

Ryan M. Butler covers Boston Public School athletics. He can be reached at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @butler_globe or @BPSspts.

About Boston Public Schools Sports Blog

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Several reporters, editors and correspondents contribute updates, news and features to the BPS Sports Blog:
  • Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
  • Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at butler.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.
Also expect updates from Boston.com High School sports editor Zuri Berry and the Globe staff.
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