MANSFIELD -- We needed one last dose of preseason football before we launch into the 2008 regular season, so the Forsberg Cruiser swung down to Mansfield Wednesday night to check out the Hornets' scrimmage against BC High.
What do you get when you mix two potential top 10 squads (you'll have to wait until Friday's preseason top 20 to know if that's a true statement) on a beautiful fall evening? A bit of a sloppy battle between two teams that ooze potential, but should thank their schedule makers that they don't open up until the weekend of Sept. 12.
BC High led 14-0 at halftime (on two second-quarter touchdowns) in the game-condition scrimmage and that's the way it ended when the game was called after three 11-minute quarters (the entire scrimmage lasted only an hour).
After a snooze-worthy first quarter that featured more punts (4) than first downs, the Eagles dented the scoreboard by returning a fumble recovery for a short score with 9:22 to play in the second frame.
Taking over later in the quarter, the Eagles went to what made them so successful last season and pounded the ball down the field with some smashmouth running. Quarterback Billy Kiley kept the drive alive by hitting Kyle Ewanouski on a fourth-down pass with under a minute to play, then caught a blitzing Mansfield defense for a 15-yard touchdown pass (one play after a receiver dropped a ball in the end zone on a similar play).
What did we learn today? Check out the video highlights at the end of this entry, which feature each team's first offensive series. Here are a few quick thoughts:
- Both of these teams are going to be very good. We really like the potential we saw from BC High, particularly on defense, and we think the Eagles will (cheesy pun alert) soar once they get comfortable in first-year coach Jon Bartlett's system.
- BC High opened the game in the shotgun formation, but didn't experience much success with it (Its first play went for quality yardage, but an illegal block on a screen pass short-circuited the drive). Again, there's potential to mix it up, but the Eagles really shined when running the ball straight at Mansfield (which seemed to wear down ever-so slightly in that second quarter).
- Both teams have some great athletes. BC High's defense is just a blizzard of size and speed. The defensive line is active and the linebackers cover the entire field. Teams are going to struggle to put points on the board against the Eagles (much like last season). We were equally as impressed with Mansfield's front 7, which was quick to the ball and ran well laterally to limit the Eagles on the edges.
- Both passing attacks struggled. Mansfield will iron out those wrinkles as Jeff Mallett takes over for Mark Gilson. Kiley, who threw five TD passes a year ago, seems capable of spreading the ball around and adding a new dimension to the Eagles' offensive attack.
- The folks in the Catholic Conference won't need to watch the highlights to know BC High has good size. That's a given every fall. It's really only be noteworthy if they didn't have big kids up front.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail email@example.com.