As we wonder if the New York Jets open up trade talks with Barnstable for a quarterback...
In the first week of football in Division 1, one lesson stood out among the rest: the rich got richer. Elite quarterback play from last season's four playoff teams did little to encourage those who were hoping to see some new teams playing after Thanksgiving in 2010.
Rising Tide: In Leominster, Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso gave reason to believe that this will indeed be the Crimson Tide's most dynamic offense in years. In a 42-23 thrashing of Leominster (uh, might be time to rethink this season-opening series, Blue Devils) DiBiaso tossed five touchdowns for 290 yards – two of which were to Manny Asprilla and three to relatively unknown Matt Costello. The junior southpaw added 35 pounds during the offseason, and this performance will be far from his best this year.
Hmm, didn't Tom Brady hurt his knee too?: Call it a miracle, call it a genius medical procedure, or call it an iron-willed effort to get back on the field (we'll call it a combination of all three), just don't call it a fluke. Nick LaSpada lifted Billerica to a tough double-road victory over Burlington – the game was played in Woburn – with one of those all-around efforts he used to capture his Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year award. LaSpada totaled 370 yards, throwing for three scores and rushing for two more.
Well, that was a surprise: Austin Roberts proved last season that he will be a featured quarterback in Brockton, but the sophomore will have his time. For now, Paul Mroz proved that he belongs under center for the team that many consider to be Super Bowl favorites. Coach Peter Colombo gave Mroz the nod to start the game three hours before kickoff, planning on giving Roberts some looks as the game progressed. But Mroz channeled his inner Peyton Manning (see: 55-yard touchdown pass to Albert Louis-Jean) with a 171-yard performance on a night where yards were tough to come by.
Where do they get these kids? Defending Super Bowl champion Xaverian lost some mountains along the line of scrimmage, but the Hawks returned their star running back, Joe Colton, and star wide receiver, Mike Muir, along with a plethora of supplementary talent. But could they really replace Division 1 Player of the Year Alex Phelan at quarterback? Chris Calvanese answered that question on the second play from scrimmage for the Hawks, a 38-yard touchdown run, punctuated the answer with a 31-yard scoring strike to Muir in the second, and rented out a billboard to display it on with a 64-yard touchdown sprint in the third. He finished a sterling 9 of 9 passing with 101 yards while running for 127 yards on six carries.
For the record, we here at Carraggi's Corner fully expected these four teams to make return visits to the playoffs. However, the emergence of Mroz coupled with how truly shut-down and physical the Boxer's defense was changed my Super Bowl pick from Xaverian vs. Everett (again) to Brockton vs. Everett. I also feel confident in LaSpada once again being EMass's premier player.
Hey, I never said I was bold.
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Game of the week:
(Nonleague) Central Catholic at St. John's Prep, Saturday at 1
Both teams are far from favorites to win their conferences, but both have the coaching and the talent to finish the season as league champions. This game may do nothing toward achieving that goal, but we don't think the Eagles forgot that one-point loss last year at the hands of Central.
Check out The Huddle football video to hear the game previewed by one of Boston media's best kept secrets Chad Finn and Globe High School Sports Editor extraordinaire Bob Holmes (hey, I've got to keep my job somehow.)
Others to watch:
(Non-league) Acton-Boxboro at Chelmsford, Thursday at 7
Acton-Boxboro. Chelmsford. Need we say more? OK, we will. Chelmsford suffered 10 straight losses to the rival Colonials, most of which were in cruel and unusual ways. The Lions broke through last season and won by the slimmest seven points you can win by. Bring the video camera to this one (and then e-mail us your tape!)
(Nonleague) Malden at Methuen, Friday at 7
This will be a good test for a Malden squad that has playoff aspirations, but it's far more important for the Rangers to avoid slipping to 0-2 in a season where expectations haven't been higher in years.
(Nonleague) Brockton at Taunton, Friday at 7
Last year, Taunton shoulda woulda coulda beat Brockton if not for an incredible gulf between the two special teams units. This year, Taunton is expected to be much-improved and is still stinging from gagging one up to the Boxers.
GOING FOR TWO
A couple nuggets of information that hasn't been harped on yet for the two games we were at this weekend.
Brockton 16, BC High 6
-- Obum Obukwelu was, as kids say, beasting. Running behind him always ended up well for BC High, while his presence of defense was undeniably intrusive. UConn should be giddy for this guy.
-- Brockton tight end Ralph Cherry (three catches, 53 yards) made a very pretty leaping catch for a 10-yard gain as part of his all-around solid effort.
-- The key series of the game was one in which no team scored. BC High took over at the Brockton 26 with 1:26 left in the third quarter, following a bad snap on a punt attempt by the Boxers. The Eagles finished the drive with an incomplete pass on 4th-and-13, three yards back from where they started. Brockton took over and put together a punishing, game-icing drive that ended in Lucas Depina's field goal.
-- Speaking of Depina, he may have had the most impact on the game. His 28-yard touchdown reception emphasized Brockton toughness when he broke through two defenders and dodged another to pick up the final six or seven yards. His 19-yard field goal at the end of the game all but gave BC High a bus ticket back home. But it was his kickoffs that put the Eagles in a continuous hole to start drives. He kicked two touchbacks and another into the end zone that was taken out.
Xaverian 28, Malden Catholic 0
-- The offensive line showed the effects of losing studs like Jack Dustin and Cam Colwell. Coach Charlie Stevenson said that the Malden Catholic defense was focused on taking away the running game, but the offensive line was not as punishing as it was one year ago. Still better than most though.
-- There is not a team in Eastern Massachusetts that couldn't use a player like Chris Tamasi. He is the perfect running back to spell Colton. He only had a couple touches on offense, but he sure touched up Malden Catholic quarterback Anthony Scurto in the second quarter on a blitz. Good things usually happen when Tamasi is involved in the play.
-- Having a couple of minutes with Phelan on the sidelines, he couldn't gush enough about how happy he was for Calvanese to be getting his shot. Likewise, Calvanese is one of Phelan's biggest fans, and credited a lot of his success to last year's Golden Boy.
-- The Tamasi hit on Scurto aside, the Xaverian defense was impeccable and ruthless. Every time Stevenson dialed up the blitz, Malden Catholic's offense was overwhelmed. Zach Bartlett thrived at the linebacker position and seemed to be everywhere.
-- The Lancers' best player was probably Matt Heriveaux. He must have picked up half of his 70 yards on pure willpower.
KING (AND THE REST) OF THE HILL
1. Xaverian (1-0) – Why are the Hawks here (and No. 1 in the Boston.com Top 1,000,000), even though Brockton and Everett have this space's endorsement to make the Super Bowl? Everett will need to beat the MVC-champion to advance in the playoffs, while Brockton would need to go through Xaverian. At this point, the two rivals are dead even, with a small edge toward the Hawks because of their 4-0 record against Brockton and Everett last season.
2. Brockton (1-0) – A solid win in Week 1, with a world of potential.
3. Everett (1-0) – If there is one thing that keeps the Tide from revisiting Gillette this fall, it will be the defensive line play. Leominster scored all three of its touchdowns on the ground and teams looking to avoid throwing into a ball-hawking secondary will follow suit.
4. Billerica (1-0) – OK, enough LaSpada for now. Receiver Ryan Donahoe snagged nine passes for 114 yards, scoring once, and locking up the win over Burlington with an interception. He and Matt Clifford, who also caught a touchdown, are a very dangerous receiving duo.
5. BC High (0-1) – A lot of the talk went to how capable Brockton's Joshua Brewster looked in Trevon Offley's stead on Friday night. But the emergence of Deontae Ramey-Doe for BC High will take some of the pressure Preston Cooper and give the Eagles a viable No. 2 option.
6. Chelmsford (1-0) – We'll be down in Chelmsford this Thursday night for the always-entertaining Acton-Boxboro/Chelmsford tilt to see the hyped-up Tim Joy in person. Even if he misses his car ride there, we'll be content with Joe Gennaro and not-so-hyped A.J. Rotella, who delivered a great perfomance against Waltham and holds the key to a successful Lions season.
7. Central Catholic (1-0) – Lost in the shuffle of an opening weekend was Central's very impressive lapping of a Marlboro team that shut out the Raiders one year ago. Expect running back Trae Musumarra to put up over 20 touchdowns for Central, one for every time we misspell his name.
8. Catholic Memorial (1-0) – The Knights' Tom Byrne hit two mid-range field goals and an extra point, accounting for seven points in CM's 21-14 win over a very good Lynn Classical squad. We always love when the kicker is the difference. Oh, last minute, game-winning 67-yard touchdown passes (Armani Reeves from A.J. Doyle) aren't too shabby either. This team has some pressure on it after wasting a strong start last season, and an early loss may have really hurt.
9. St. John's Prep (1-0) – There is only so much you can take from a Catholic Conference resident smackdown on Peabody (who actually plays a brutal schedule), but the Prep did almost everything right in the blowout. A true measure of the Eagles will be this Saturday.
10. Andover (1-0) – We here at The Dish have been hearing whispers of how Brian Miller has the body of an elite talent, but his skills are far behind. Tell that to North Andover defense, which is still picking itself up after Miller shredded them with a 10-catch, 107-yard, two-touchdown performance. He and Andrew Coke (23 rushes, 118 yards, one touchdown) helped new coach E.J. Perry start his career as a football coach the same way he finished his six-year volleyball tenure in Salem, N.H.: undefeated.
11. Malden (1-0) – First let us set the record straight. No, we don't see Malden coming as close to a GBL title as they found themselves last year in overtime against Everett. While Malden improved by a leap, Everett improved by a bound. Coach Joe Pappagallo expected a strong showing against a struggling Haverhill team, but he still must have been pleasantly surprised at Malden's five forced turnovers and Frankie Dunn's four touchdowns.
12. New Bedford (1-0) – We were only half-joking when we said predicted last year that New Bedford would upend the Boxers late in the season. The Whalers are a much improved team the last few seasons under Division 1 Dish favorite Dennis Golden. New Bedford throttled Wareham in what was the team's first clash; quarterback Nate Lewis was efficient, Phito Gondre was electric, and the defense was stifling.
13. Somerville (1-0) – Somerville's schedule is stacked this season, and even its Division 4 opponent on opening weekend boasted one of the most dangerous runners in the state. Joe Pizzuto ran 20 times for 135 yards against the Highlanders, but he of 27 touchdowns last season never touched the end zone.
14. Malden Catholic (0-1) – The worst part about losing the opening week battle to Catholic Conference foe Xaverian? It's a long, long wait to redeem yourself in conference play. When the Lancers face Catholic Memorial on Oct. 22, the New England Patriots will be gearing up for a Week 7 clash with San Diego.
15. Lowell (1-0) – Another not-so-daring prediction: coach Jeff Moore's new team won't be a cellar-dweller all season long. Lowell passed for over 200 yards and Angel Escalera ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns to pick up a win over a Masconomet team that may or not may not be in rebuilding mode, but still made it to Gillette last season.
16. Medford (0-1) – We are one of the biggest fans of the revival of quality football in Medford after what that program went through, but another five-win season with the talent that the Mustangs lost will be a serious stretch. Revere put up a mind-numbing 40 bones on Medford in the first quarter alone.
17. Durfee (0-1) – Looking beyond the final numbers, Durfee should be encouraged it had a nine-point lead on one of the area's most potent offenses. While the spread is becoming increasingly popular in all levels of football, the Hilltoppers probably won't see another team use it like Barnstable did.
18. Cambridge (0-1) – Coach Joe Papagni is literally the last coach we'd ever expect an excuse from. The truth is Cambridge is not as bad, and Reading not as good, as the 50-12 final score suggests.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our fall correspondents:
- Anthony Gulizia | @gulizia_a | Div. 1 football
- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.