Editor's note: Globe Correspondent Mike Grossi provides his thoughts and ramblings on the weekend that was in Division 2 and 2A football.
Dime Coverage – In this segment, I provide extra coverage into the games that I covered over the weekend.
Billerica 35, Burlington 27
This game was all about seeing Nick LaSpada play after injuring his knee. He did everything he could to quite the questions about the knee, passing for 284 yards and three scores and rushing for two more touchdowns. LaSpada looked in midseason form. Also, it looks like he is more accurate with his throws this year. That could spell trouble for the other Merrimack Valley teams.
Here is a link to a video of LaSpada talking about the performance as well as how his knee held up.
One player to keep your eye on is Ryan Donahoe. Donahoe was LaSpada’s favorite target, snagging eight passes. He was also a force on defense. He was always around the ball and made a handful of tackles and pass break ups.
The one thing that could derail Billerica’s title hopes is their defense. The Indians’ pass defense was solid but they weren’t playing a team that passes a whole lot, so the jury is still out on that area. The run defense is a huge cause for concern, however. Burlington was able to rack up over 200 yards on the ground. Most of the Red Devil’s success came on perimeter runs. The Indians will have to do a better job containing plays to the outside. If Billerica’s opponents are smart, they would run to the outside until the Indians stop them. Their interior run defense was ok, but there is still some room for improvement.
Burlington looked like it could be a contender in the Middlesex League. The Red Devil’s have two horses in Marcus Odiah and Kyle Shields. Odiah is more of a burner, but still has the ability to run between the tackles. Shields is a bull whose success comes from running over people.
Defensively, the Red Devils were solid against the run but dreadful against the pass. Billerica didn’t top 100 yards on the ground and most of the rushing came from LaSpada on broken plays. It is against the pass where Burlington will have to improve. There were too many open Billerica receivers. Luckily for the Red Devils, they play in a league that is predominately run based.
Attleboro 49, Bishop Feehan 14
The game I took in on Friday night was Bishop Feehan vs. Attleboro. This intra-town rivalry is always hotly contested. The thing that really jumped out at my over the course of the game was the way the Attleboro defense was playing. The Blue Bombardiers bottled up the Feehan running game and never let the Shamrocks embark on a sustained drive. This was essential because Attleboro was playing from behind for much of the first half. The Blue Bombardiers’ defense kept the team in the game. Also, because the defense kept forcing quick series, Attleboro had ample opportunities to get the ball back.
The Attleboro offense was mighty impressive as well. Nate Robitaille controlled the game. His passes were crisp and on target. The most impressive thing about him was his ability to fit the ball into tight windows and keeping the ball in a position where only his teammate could catch it.
Here is a video of Robitaille commenting on the victory.
Once Robitaille returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown, giving Attleboro a 28-14 lead, the Feehan offense was forced to try and throw its way out of the deficit. This, in turn, helped the defense as the linemen were able to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback, which they did frequently.
We will see whether or not Attleboro can sustain its inspired play when it takes on King Philip this week in its first Hockomock League game.
Bishop Feehan had a lot of trouble this game. While the 49 points allowed suggests that the defense was porous, a lot of their miscues are correctable. The Shamrocks gave up a few big plays and some long third down conversions. They can stop the big plays if they are more disciplined and on those conversions, the Attleboro receivers made incredible catches along the sideline. If the Shamrocks work more on the fundamentals, their defense should improve drastically.
The offense, on the other hand, could take longer to coalesce. They have a great piece in O’Brien McHayle. McHayle is explosive, as evidenced by his kick return for a touchdown on the opening kick off. He also runs with some power between the tackles. The big question is whether or not the Shamrocks can find a passing attack. They graduated their quarterback and starting receivers from last year’s squad and it was evident that their replacements need seasoning.
If Bishop Feehan can find some semblance of a passing attack and not allow the big play on defense, the Shamrocks will compete for another Eastern Athletic Conference crown.
Here is a video of Attleboro coach Kevin Deschenes commenting on the victory:
Games of the Weekend
Here are some other noteworthy games involving teams from Division 2 and 2A from this past weekend:
Plymouth North 13, Methuen 7 – The Eagles upset No. 14 Methuen thanks to the running of Matt Walsh. Walsh rumbled for 162 yards, including the game-winning 77-yard jaunt with just over four minutes left in the game. This marked the first game as head coach for long-time assistant Dwayne Follette. Pretty good way to start off your tenure, isn’t it?
Marshfield 33, Dracut 20 – The Rams showed that despite losing 24 seniors, they always reload. Marshfield took advantage of Dracut miscues all game long. Jonathan Fraser scored twice for the Rams while Matt Silva passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another.
Lawrence 13, Lynn English 9 – The Lancers provided the second big upset of Friday night, beating No. 18 Lynn English. Nathan Baez rushed for over 100 yards and passed for two touchdowns. The Lancer defense played a huge part in the victory, holding the Bulldogs’ Tyllor MacDonald to under 100 yards through the air.
Tewksbury 28, L-S 17 – For the second straight season, the Redmen toppled Lincoln-Sudbury. Tewksbury was led by quarterback Sean Connolly. Connolly had a hand in all of the touchdowns, passing for two and adding two more on the ground. Ryan Vibber was the recipient of both touchdown passes for the Redmen.
Westford 19, Lexington 13 – Westford got off to a good start in a season rife with expectations. However, they didn’t dominate as many thought they would. Patrick Dugan tossed three touchdown strikes, but Lexington kept it close. The Minutemen got a touchdown pass and rush from Connor Murray.
- Dennis-Yarmouth picked up a big time win, beating Taunton 43-18. The Dolphins dominated the game, getting three touchdown passes from Matt Montalto and three touchdown rushes from Joe Furness. This victory is a lot like Falmouth’s over BC High last season, as both teams were underdog’s going up against higher division opponents. The victory effectively put the rest of the Atlantic Coast League on notice.
- Duxbury rolled past Bridgewater-Raynham this weekend. The Green Dragons are a dangerous squad that is expected to take the Patriot (Keenan) title. They have two talented quarterbacks in Matt O’Keefe and Kane Haffey. Duxbury will be a tough match-up for any team it faces this season.
- Reading surely didn’t miss a beat against Cambridge. Even after losing Stanley Andre, Tino Perrina, Ryan Pollock and four offensive linemen to graduation, the Rockets still hung 50 points on Cambridge. Quarterback Brian Bourque provides no drop off from Andre, and may even be more of a complete quarterback and more explosive.
- The two favorites in the Merrimack Valley (Small), Methuen and Dracut, lost this weekend. Both teams have a tremendous amount of talent and now both have to put the losses behind them and come out on the right foot this weekend. I expect both teams to play inspired football next week to show that they are still teams to be reckoned with.
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 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 email@example.com.