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Boston English celebrates its Thanksgiving victory in style

Posted by Ryan Butler December 4, 2013 03:38 PM

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Members of the English football team were honored Wednesday afternoon for their Thanksgiving win over Boston Latin. (Billy Owens / For the Boston Globe.)

It’s no surprise that Boston English’s 14-12 Thanksgiving victory over Boston Latin was a big deal at the school. But for anyone who had any smidgen of doubt, all they needed to do was witness the turnout Wednesday afternoon for the celebratory parade at English High.

“It just feels great,” said junior Keylin McCray, a member of the team. “Last time we beat Latin was probably before I was even born. So it’s definitely an honor to be out here today. A good end to our season.”

In fact, English’s win over Latin was its first since 1997 and only its third Thanksgiving win since 1967.

The parade was held during English’s last period of the day. The student body filled the bleachers as the band, cheerleaders, and players walked proudly along the track to the applause of their classmates.

“Overall, it’s just a nice afternoon,” said senior Mohammad Salekin. “It’s like a thank you to all the football players, but also to some of the different groups and clubs here at English.

"The band is playing. Some other seniors are selling pizza and drinks to raise money for our class. Everyone gets to show their school spirit. Plus, it’s a great day for it, too.”

After the victory lap, English teacher and bandleader Eytan Wurman brought the Eagles and coach Brian Vaughan onto the field to acknowledge all the hard work they put in this fall.

“Give it up for your champion Eagles!” Wurman boomed over the microphone. “I want to especially acknowledge Coach Vaughan for receiving the New England Patriots High School Coach of the Week award, and quarterback Emmanuel Almonte for getting MVP of the Thanksgiving game.”

Wurman acknowledged each player over the microphone.

Following the celebration, students and faculty participated in a flag football game on the field.

“Today brings in a lot of excitement for the school,” said Vaughan. “The Thanksgiving win also brought a lot of good press. It’s huge for English.”

When asked his feelings on receiving the Coach of the Week award, Vaughan was thankful yet adamant that it reflected the hard work his team put in day in and day out.

“That award's just proof of all the work the kids put in this year,” he said. “It’s definitely a team award.”

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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