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. Thats 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. On the night, Berluti 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 sits in first place in the TVL with two league games to go vs. Medway on Oct. 18 and on the road at Hopkinton on Oct. 25.
In this weeks edition of First & 10, the 5-foot-9 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, not tonight, maybe tomorrow. So Ive 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 Ive watched in I dont know how long. Adults telling me it was the greatest football game theyve watched. It was certainly the greatest football game Ive ever been apart of. Just amazing. Incredible.
Youve 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?
Weve 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 its just kind of grown. Im always talking to him, trying to watch film with him. Hes a great guy, really a figure that can be looked up to and stuff. Hes a great coach and hes 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 Ill just ad-lib a couple of things and offer some suggestions, just new little wrinkles. But yeah, that was the first time Id ever done that.
You guys beat Division 2 power Needham to start the season, a game where a lot of people didnt 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 were always hungry and ready to go. Yeah, its just funny. People have started talking about us. Were 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 arent giving us that much credit. We really werent picked to win against Holliston. A bunch of polls had us rated below them. We like being the underdog. We dont mind it. Were always ready to prove some people wrong and stay hungry, so we dont 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, were not really feeling any pressure. Were 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. Youre a defensive back when on defense and youve been the teams punter recently as well. What would you say is your favorite position?
You know, I dont 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 Manties office first day of the season and I just said what do you need from me? What can I do? Whats best for the team? Whatever you think gives us the best chance to win Ill do it. Whatever he needs me to do, Im just going to line up and try to do the best that I can at it. I wouldnt necessarily say I favor a position. Whatever gives us the best chance to win, Im 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. Weve always believed in just staying hungry. We have a new motto this year - Always be prepared. It just means always be prepared to play football. We have another motto No excuses. Obviously dont make excuses for anything thats 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 were 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 I mean, how can you not love him is Johnny Manziel. I like the way he plays the game obviously we both play the same position. I like the passion with which he plays and he does some things you just cant teach. I love the way he competes. He doesnt 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?
Ive 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 Ive just tried to get that number. Ive been fortunate enough to get it everywhere Ive been.
You seem to really like football. What do you like to do outside of football?
Honestly, Im 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. Ill 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? Wheres the one place you can go and relax?
Its either just my third floor or my friends basement. I mean, we can go there, were all just hanging out. Its just some of the moments that you dont really think are too much, but when you think back on it, those are the moments that Im 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.
Whats 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 thats hysterical. For action shows I really like NCIS. I like Mark Harmon as an actor. Hes a good guy.
Wheres the best place to eat in Westwood and what do you get when you go there?
Best place to eat in Westwood? Thats debatable among my friends. Sometimes we go to Chipotle in Dedham. We love to do that. We dont like to do that during game week, though. I love Italian food, so I go to Victorias 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 its any different [to play with your brother]. Were 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?
Thats 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. Hes 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 hes probably lifting more than me right now, so I would have to say him.
Are you looking to play football in college?
Ive 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 youd like to major in? Or what youd like to do after college?
Thats the one thing I havent given much thought to. Id like to keep sports apart of my life someway, somehow. If that doesnt work out, my dad is a lawyer, so thats always an interesting profession. But like I said, I havent really given much thought to that. I should obviously get on that soon, but I havent really thought about it.
Whats 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. Thats what were 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 weve got to start with another one. Weve been fortunate enough to win three, but weve just got to start with Week 5 and go from there.