Matt Feld offers his five thoughts on the past weekend, plus a hot take to go out on. Enjoy.
By Matt Feld
It’s not all too often that two perennial Division 1 contenders face a ‘must-win’ scenario in Week 2, but the clash between Xaverian and Everett on Friday night certainly carried that type of sentiment.
With the Hawks and Crimson Tide both coming off opening-week losses and facing daunting schedules ahead, an 0-2 start for either side seemed damaging to any future season aspirations. Behind Tyrese Baptiste’s two touchdowns — including a 74-yard punt return for a score — Everett was able to prevent dropping a pair of home games to start the season and emerged with the 27-21 victory.
Crimson Tide head coach Theluxon Pierre, who questioned his team’s effort after it suffered a blowout loss to Springfield Central on opening night, was happy with his team’s improvement but still noted there is room to grow.
"The effort was better (than last week) but there's still in the tank that needs to come out," Pierre said. "We got a lot of young guys that have to learn to play."
As we recap Week 2 of the MIAA season and begin to look ahead to Week 3, here are five takeaways from this past weekend.
1. Mathematics Don’t Exist in the Arena Of High School Football
This past weekend featured a number of top clashes with the aforementioned Crimson Tide taking down Xaverian, Marblehead coming through with a statement victory over defending Division 2 champion North Andover, and Catholic Memorial outlasting St. John’s Shrewsbury in a battle between two of the more talented teams in all of Massachusetts.
Down in Marshfield, however, mathematics and probability were defied when the Rams overcame a 35-0 halftime deficit to defeat Dennis-Yarmouth in improbable fashion, 43-42. Perhaps even more incredible, the Rams scored a jaw-dropping 43 points over the final 20 minutes.
The Rams comeback effort was bolstered by a 5-yard touchdown reception by Cade Chabra and a 27-yard pick-six by Nolan Looney before being capped off by Vinny Skulsky’s game winning two-point rush.
The capper is that under the new NFHS rules a running clock would have ensued should the Dolphins have extended their lead any larger than 40 at the start of the third quarter.
2. Mama, There Goes That . . . Guy
Mark Jackson would be proud of that one.
Just a season ago, St. John’s Prep used an experienced offensive and defensive line, dynamic skill players, and a steady dual-threat offensive attack to claim the Division 1 crown. Now, with a majority of youth filling the void left on the two lines due to graduation, an even greater burden is being placed on senior quarterback Matt Crowley to help carry the Eagles to a second straight championship.
There is plenty of reason to believe based on the early returns, however, that it may not all fall on Crowley’s right shoulder to bring St. John’s Prep back to the top of Division 1.
Heading into the year, there was plenty of buzz up in Danvers surrounding sophomore running back James Guy. Based on Saturday’s performance against Haverhill, Guy is more than deserving of the hype.
The sophomore back rushed for 143 yards and four touchdowns as the Eagles improved to 2-0 with a 34-14 road victory over Haverhill.
3. ‘Ground Chuck’ Goes Airborne
Coming off a resounding win over Everett, Springfield Central had the chance to announce itself as one of the premiere programs in the entire Bay State on Saturday when it visited Lawrence to take on Central Catholic.
Chuck Adamopoulos’ group had other ideas. Led by sophomore Ayden Pereira’s 277 passing yards and six total touchdowns the Raiders took down the Golden Eagles in a shootout, 52-42. Pereira, who was making his first varsity start, also added 86 yards on the ground.
Pereira’s ability to open up the playbook and give Adamopoulos and true multi-dimensional offense makes the Raiders the top threat to St. John’s Prep in Division 1 North.
4. Catholic Memorial Is the Team to Beat In Division 1
West Roxbury was the place to be on Friday night if you were in search of the most individual talent on one field at the same time. It was also where you could have viewed the favorite to hoist the 2019 Division 1 Super Bowl trophy.
Catholic Memorial looked the part in the early going jumping out to a 28-0 lead before holding on for a 35-20 victory over Division 3 powerhouse St. John’s Shrewsbury. The game featured some of the top talents that Massachusetts has to offer. Pioneers’ wide receiver Jay Brunelle may be the best all-around skill player in the state while teammate Eamonn Dennis is headed to Michigan.
Knights junior linebacker Owen McGowan, who is committed to Boston College, has opponents undergoing nightmares at the thought of him having another full season on Baker Street.
Over the course of its first two games, Catholic Memorial has combined to score 77 points and will have a chance at another trademark victory when Springfield Central comes to town on Friday night.
5. Division 2 South Is Shaping Out to Be The Deepest Bracket In the State
Different year. Same developments. Once again, Division 2 South is shaping up to be deepest bracket in Massachusetts. For the last three seasons, King Philip has been atop the throne defeating Bridgewater-Raynham in a pair of sectional finals before knocking off Mansfield in the title game a year ago.
Now, there are a plethora of teams jockeying for the label of "frontrunner" in a section loaded with Super Bowl-worthy contenders. Mansfield, highlighted by speedster Cincere Gill and two-way star Vinnie Holmes, has all the pieces to raise the banner.
Barnstable has caught the attention of everyone south of Boston with its two victories to open the season over Xaverian and Braintree. Natick may just have one of the top quarterbacks in all of Massachusetts in Will Lederman to go with athletic force Josh Atwood on the line.
Marshfield showed on Friday night that they have the makeup of a team that can wreak havoc come the tournament.
Then there’s King Philip. The stingy Warriors — as always — do not jump off the page with lightning speed or dynamic playmaking ability but possess power back Ryan Halliday and an improved Robert Jarest under center. King Philip’s physical, bruising style of football is sure to put them back in the hunt.
Feld’s Hot Take of The Week: 12-Minute Quarters Is Not An Acceptable Tradeoff for Three Timeouts.
For years, I expressed my grievances with the amount timeouts that each team was allotted. Forgive me, but five timeouts per half was nothing short of outrageous.
Ten timeouts a game? When the game was ‘only’ 44 minutes? You gotta be bleepin’ me.
At times, it appeared that coaches were getting paid per timeout called and that referees were getting equal compensation every time they pulled something out of their shirt pocket that I can only assume helps them keep track of how many clock stoppages are remaining.
I thought action was necessary. Well action has taken place, but in a maneuver that I can only assume is a direction shot at me for my social media complaining over the amount of timeouts initially awarded each team, the alternative is worse than if there had been inaction.
We are down to three timeouts but just like every bill that passes through the great hall of Congress (whenever that happens), there is a catch. Through National Federation High School rules we are now graced with 12-minute quarters.
At the surface, what’s one more minute per quarter, really? I mean you are really only adding four more minutes to the game right? Wrong. I’ve had multiple referees over the last two weeks tell me they feel like they’re dragging at the end of games especially when it comes to the pace of the final few minutes of each half.
Coaches across the state have said they can notice the difference as it pertains to conditioning of their kids and it has drastically impacted in-game management.
I’ll stick to my own mantra when I said on Twitter last week: ‘My thrilling MIAA football take — Enough with the complaining about the changed rules. Your complaint is not getting them changed. They're here. That’s reality. The rules are the rules. Just play the game. That is all.’
But before you play the game — bring back the 11-minute quarters.