Facing a two-touchdown deficit after Holliston rattled off 29 straight points, Bo Berluti knew Westwood had a comeback in them; the Wolverines just had to play within themselves. Thatís when the versatile senior quarterback pulled out all the stops. Aided by senior running back Danny Roache, the Wolverines tied the game in the final 20 seconds of regulation before emerging with a 43-41 win in double overtime. Berluti finished with 89 passing yards and two scores while rushing for 165 yards and another touchdown. He converted three of four 2-point conversions, including a quarterback follow to the left that sent the Wolverines to victory. Westwood (3-1; 2-0 Tri-Valley League) now is in first place in the TVL with two league games to go Ė vs. Medway on Oct. 18 and on the road at Hopkinton on Oct. 25.
In this weekís edition of First & 10, the 5-foot-9-inch senior talks about the win over Holliston, his brother, former Globe All-Scholastic Alex Berluti, and his favorite place to relax.
After the game Friday I asked you if you could possibly describe what you and your team just went through. Your response was, ďnot tonight, maybe tomorrow.Ē So Iíve given you a few days. What do you have for me?
Honestly [it was] just incredible. Not believable. It really is just a huge victory. It was an amazing game. So many people just coming up to me and saying that was the best game Iíve watched in I donít know how long. Adults telling me it was the greatest football game theyíve watched. It was certainly the greatest football game Iíve ever been a part of. Just amazing. Incredible.
Youíve been on the varsity team for three years, starting with the year that Coach Ed Mantie came to Westwood. What kind of relationship do the two of you have?
Weíve had a great relationship ever since my sophomore year. I played wide receiver my sophomore and junior year and he was a wide receiver in college [Boston University, 1991-1995], so that had an immediate factor in our relationship. Since then itís just kind of grown. Iím always talking to him, trying to watch film with him. Heís a great guy, really a figure that can be looked up to and stuff. Heís a great coach and heís always trying to make me better.
You called the last play of the game, which we talked a little bit about on Friday. How often do you do that?
I never do anything that major that often that really changes the play in a serious situation. Sometimes Iíll just ad-lib a couple of things and offer some suggestions, just new little wrinkles. But yeah, that was the first time Iíd ever done that.
You guys beat Division 2 power Needham to start the season, a game where a lot of people didnít have you coming out on top. People started taking notice of Westwood after that game. Has the team felt any pressure because of it?
No. We have a good group of guys and good coaches that make sure that weíre always hungry and ready to go. Yeah, itís just funny. People have started talking about us. Weíre starting to get ranked kind of high, which we think we should have been for a while.
But weve still been picked to lose. People still arenít giving us that much credit. We really werenít picked to win against Holliston. A bunch of polls had us rated below them. We like being the underdog. We donít mind it. Weíre always ready to prove some people wrong and stay hungry, so we donít mind people not believing in us because we know what we have here. We believe in our system and what we do here at Westwood. So yeah, weíre not really feeling any pressure. Weíre just trying to come out and play our game.
You played quarterback on Friday, where you both ran the ball and passed it. You occasionally line up at wide receiver. Youíre a defensive back when on defense and youíve been the teamís punter recently as well. What would you say is your favorite position?
You know, I donít really know if I have a favorite position. I love quarterback. I love having the ball in my hands every single play. But honestly, I came into Coach Mantieís office first day of the season and I just said what do you need from me? What can I do? Whatís best for the team? Whatever you think gives us the best chance to win, Iíll do it. Whatever he needs me to do, Iím just going to line up and try to do the best that I can at it. I wouldnít necessarily say I favor a position. Whatever gives us the best chance to win, Iím going to do it.
It seems like you guys are really clicking on both sides of the ball. Is the team pretty driven, especially considering how last season ended? (Westwood lost to Wayland in the EMass finals.)
Absolutely. Weíve always believed in just staying hungry. We have a new motto this year - ďAlways be prepared.Ē It just means always be prepared to play football. We have another motto Ė ďNo excuses.Ē Obviously donít make excuses for anything thatís happened.
We were very upset [at how last year ended]. We felt like we had a state championship-caliber team and we lost a game short. We played a good Wayland team and they beat us up that night, so we changed things up in the offseason, the way we lifted and everything. We were driven, and weíre still driven just to beat more high-quality teams and just continue to play well.
Who would you say your favorite athlete is?
My favorite athlete right now Ė I mean, how can you not love him Ė is Johnny Manziel. I like the way he plays the game Ė obviously we both play the same position. I like the passion with which he plays and he does some things you just canít teach. I love the way he competes. He doesnít take any grief from any other players on any other teams. He just goes out there and gives 100 percent. I just kind of look to do the same, and that comes from my coaches as much as anything.
Is there any reason why you wear No. 4?
Iíve worn it since Pop Warner. I think I was No. 11 for Drew Bledsoe my first year, and ever since then, I wore No. 4. I won the Super Bowl one year in Pop Warner, and Iíve just tried to get that number. Iíve been fortunate enough to get it everywhere Iíve been.
You seem to really like football. What do you like to do outside of football?
Honestly, Iím an easy-going guy. I just like to hang out with my friends. I watch more football on Saturdays after practice and stuff. I basically just ice down and watch football. Iíll be doing basketball [for Westwood] in the winter and baseball in the spring. I just like to always compete and play sports. I obviously do a lot of school work, try to keep my grades up, and I like to hang out with my friends and do what kids do, I guess.
What would you say your favorite getaway spot is? Whereís the one place you can go and relax?
Itís either just my third floor or my friendís basement. I mean, we can go there, weíre all just hanging out. Itís just some of the moments that you donít really think are too much, but when you think back on it, those are the moments that Iím going to miss most about high school. Usually me and my friends are really sore after games, so we just relax, have stupid conversations about stuff, and just watch football. Those are honestly the times you realize are special.
Whatís your favorite TV show?
Honestly I would say Sportscenter, if that counts as a TV show. I really like that. I always try to stay caught up. I really like Two and a Half Men. I think thatís hysterical. For action shows I really like NCIS. I like Mark Harmon as an actor. Heís a good guy.
Whereís the best place to eat in Westwood and what do you get when you go there?
Best place to eat in Westwood? Thatís debatable among my friends. Sometimes we go to Chipotle in Dedham. We love to do that. We donít like to do that during game week, though. I love Italian food, so I go to Victoriaís in Westwood and I really like that. I like chicken parmesan and the pizza.
The last couple of years you were able to play with your brother Alex [who now plays football at Amherst College]. What kind of relationship do the two of you have?
You know a lot of people ask if itís any different [to play with your brother]. Weíre just so competitive with each other. We both just win a lot and we wanted to win [the Super Bowl] together last year. Scotty McManus does a funny impression of me and my brother going at it sometimes, just about quarterback and wide receiver things. I always just thought of my brother as another teammate because I played a bunch of different sports with him throughout my high school career.
If I were to set up a football-like combine, who is coming out on top between the two of you?
Thatís a tough question. We actually compete with that a lot. I started getting on him, creeping up on him with some things. Our 40 times are pretty similar. Heís playing at Amherst, so the lifting program there is a little bit more rigorous than the ones in high school. He has some height on me, he weighs 15 pounds more than me and heís probably lifting more than me right now, so I would have to say him.
Are you looking to play football in college?
Iíve gone to a bunch of camps with a bunch of other guys on this team. We have great players: Dan Roache, Scott McManus, Connor DiVincenzo. We all went to camps this summer and last summer, just trying to get better and obviously trying to find places to play.
Have you given any thought to what youíd like to major in? Or what youíd like to do after college?
Thatís the one thing I havenít given much thought to. Iíd like to keep sports a part of my life some way, somehow. If that doesnít work out, my dad is a lawyer, so thatís always an interesting profession. But like I said, I havenít really given much thought to that. I should obviously get on that soon, but I havenít really thought about it.
Whatís the ultimate goal for this team? At the end of the day, when the season wraps up, what do you guys want to hang your hat on?
Being Super Bowl Champions for 2013. Thatís what weíre shooting for, but it only happens one game at a time. We still have two games to go. We have that ultimate goal of being state champions, but weíve got to start with another one. Weíve been fortunate enough to win three, but weíve just got to start with Week 5 and go from there.
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.