When second-ranked Duxbury and No. 3 Xaverian meet in Westwood Saturday afternoon, Hawks coach Charlie Stevenson believes the result will favor the team that executes better.
“In a game like this you want to play good special teams and you want to play good defense so you can create short-field opportunities for your offense,’’ Stevenson said. “I know it’s very cliché, but you have to do those things. If you think about it, if you do the opposite of those things, winning the game is going to be very difficult.’’
It is a treat when two of the most successful programs in the state play each other. In the last five years, the Green Dragons (4-0) and Hawks (4-0) have five playoff appearances combined, four of which have come in the last three seasons (three for Duxbury), and three Super Bowl victories (two for Duxbury including last season’s 35-13 thumping of Concord-Carlisle). Duxbury has not lost since 2009, its 17-game streak the best in Eastern Massachusetts.
It is hard to compare teams in different leagues and divisions. Division 1 Xaverian is in the Catholic Conference, perhaps the best in EMass, and and Division 2 Duxbury is in the less-challenging Patriot Keenan. But four weeks into the season, both teams have played one ranked opponent and remain undefeated. Their offensive numbers are very close, both averaging more than 30 points per game (Duxbury at 35 and Xaverian at 30.3).
The Hawks have the edge on defense, allowing just 12 points this season.
“They have skill guys in their secondary, their linebackers are fast and big, they play the run well and get back into coverage great, and they have probably one of the best defensive lines in the state,’’ Duxbury coach Dave Maimaron said. “We’re going to have to be able to handle the pass rush to get open on their skill guys. Hopefully we can have a little success there.’’
Duxbury quarterback Matt O’Keefe spreads the ball around on offense. Andrew Buron, Joe Guilfoile, and Don Webber have more than 10 receptions each and three touchdowns each, but will Duxbury be able to set the edge against Xaverian defensive ends Colby Enegren (6 feet 3 inches, 235 pounds) and Matt Stapleton (6-4, 210)? O’Keefe has thrown 12 touchdown passes and is averaging 195.3 passing yards per game.
Xaverian relies on the quarterback tandem of Chris Calvanese and Austin DeCarr. Stevenson can line up Calvanese just about anywhere on the field, and does not hesitate to attempt to confuse the opposition’s defense with disguise looks.
“Chris is a good athlete so we try to use him a lot of different ways,’’ Stevenson said. “We use him defensively, we use him as a receiver, we use him as a running back. Austin comes in and supports the role we believe, that we have two real good quarterbacks that we can turn to.’’
Favorable matchups are the keys to winning, but with so much talent on the field, clear-cut advantages might be hard to find.
“The more times the best teams can play against each other, the better it is for high school football,’’ Stevenson said. “Clearly [Duxbury’s ] one of the top teams. We’ll see how it goes.’’
No other top-20 matchups take place this weekend, but there is no shortage of interesting games. Peabody (3-0) looks to continue its hot start at home against Beverly (3-1) this afternoon. The Tanners have not had a winning season since 2004, but they face a tough opponent in the North Shore rival Panthers . . . No. 13 Walpole (4-0) hosts Bay State Herget foe Norwood (3-1) tonight. The Rebels are averaging 35 points per game, but the Mustangs have won three games in a row . . . Also tonight, undefeated North Attleboro (4-0) hosts Stoughton (3-1) in a nonleague Hockomock game. The Red Rocketeers have won their last two games while scoring only 14 points. The Black Knights are also coming off back-to-back victories, including an 8-0 upset of No. 5 Mansfield Sept. 23 . . . No. 6 Dennis-Yarmouth (4-0) visits Plymouth North (2-2) tomorrow night in an Atlantic Coast League contest. Each has one ACL victory and is coming off a blowout win last weekend.