ACTON — They stood together on the sidelines covered in sweat but otherwise showing no signs of fatigue.
The three Acton-Boxborough Regional running backs — juniors William Tejeda and Thomas Saponaro , and senior Billy Jackman — were their team’s offense. They had combined for more than 200 yards rushing and six touchdowns in last weekend’s 41-16 nonleague win over Marshfield. But they smiled and laughed with each other, full of life, looking for the next thing to do on a Saturday night.
“I feel pretty fresh right now,” Saponaro said. “I could go play some more.”
All three still had plenty left to give after sharing ball-carrying responsibilities, but that was by design. The varied, energetic attack has provided the Colonials with an offensive formula that works.
For the second straight week, Acton-Boxborough (3-1) had scored more than 40 points.
“We’ve got some good running backs that we can rotate through,” said coach Bill Maver . “Four of them are playing defense, so we try to give them a rest here and there. Some of them are better blockers than others, and some better receivers than others, so we try to put them in good positions.”
Maver has run the wing-T offense at Acton-Boxborough for the last 27 seasons, and this fall is no different. He has sprinkled in some different formations — a three-receiver set, and a two-back set at times, too — but at its core Acton-Boxborough is a wing-T team. The system allows Tejeda, Jackman, and Saponaro to be on the field simultaneously, making it difficult for defenses to focus on one player.
Tejeda finished last week’s game with 13 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns. A week earlier he scored five times to beat Lexington, 48-14. At 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, he’s fast enough to outrun defenders and strong enough to shake their tackles with a dip of his shoulder.
Colonials public-address announcer Ken Mayer called Tejeda’s touchdowns against Marshfield as if welcoming the featured performer in a one-man show: “Ladies and gentlemen — William Tejeda!”
But he has help.
Saponaro is often used as a lead blocker for Tejeda’s runs up the middle. But he’s also dangerous with the ball in his hands, as he showed against the Marshfield Rams when he took seven carries for 56 yards and three touchdowns.
Jackman, the team’s quickest player, is more versatile. He can be used to take handoffs up the middle — as he did on his 4-yard score last week — or block for sweeps to the outside. The cocaptain is also used as a slot receiver in certain formations. As the team’s kick returner and starting safety, his carries were scaled back last week. He only had four for 21 yards, but, like Saponaro, he said he had plenty left in the tank afterward.
Senior cocaptain Zach Adgate and senior Dan Joyce also took carries with the offensive starters. Together, the constant reloading of energized backs can give opposing defensive coordinators fits.
Wayland High coach Scott Parseghian watched the Colonials run against Marshfield, and knows his tacklers will have their hands full when the two teams square off Friday.
Every year, he said, Mayer “has got tough kids that just run the ball hard. But for me, it’s always about the offensive line in high school football, and his offensive line might come off the ball faster than any team I’ve ever played against. That gives them an advantage. They’re able to pound the ball.”
Senior center Thomas Cotter anchors an experienced group of linemen for Acton-Boxborough. Senior tackles Ciaran Stewart and Sean McGavick are strong on the edges, and help pave the way for the team’s run-heavy attack.
With more than a third of their schedule behind them, the Colonials’ focus now is to capitalize on the improvements they’ve made in the last two weeks.
“We want to put a big focus on staying high and not having highs and lows,” Jackman said. The last four games of the season are against Dual County League Large Division rivals, he noted. “For us to be best prepared for that we have to stay consistently working hard in practice and in games.”
And the Colonials have to keep the legs of the wing-T offense fresh — something they seem to have already figured out.
Holliston adapts to new strategies
Holliston has had great success utilizing the spread offense in recent years. Last fall, the Panthers won their third straight Tri-Valley League Large Division title, and two years ago they won the Division 3A Super Bowl with their high-octane offense.
This year, things are a bit different. In order to adjust to the defensive schemes they’ve seen through the first four weeks of the season, the Panthers (2-2) have moved away from the spread at times. Though spreading out helped in their 23-13 win over Medfield last week, they’ve also utilized their “war” formation (featuring a double-wing) and a new “ice” formation (two running backs, one tight end).Continued...