There is a lot to get to this week, but we will start with our trip over to Holliston Saturday to take in the Framingham State 7-on-7.
A special thanks go out to both the staff from Framingham State and Milton High coach Steve Dembowski, who did a great job organizing it.
Let's quickly get down to some of the things we saw and heard along the way.
— One team that participated but was knocked out in group play was Xaverian. The Hawks did not bring a very big group, and it got even smaller over the course of the day as players had to leave for other activities.
We spoke at length with Xaverian coach Al Fornaro, who likes what he has along the offensive line this year. Of course, in a 7-on-7 format, you won't see any evidence of that, but we've watched enough Xaverian football over the years to know that Fornaro isn't making anything up there.
What should put the rest of the state on notice, though, is that many of those players along the line of scrimmage that have Fornaro excited will still be fairly young. There will be good size represented in the freshman and sophomore classes.
One non-lineman in the freshman class who played well Saturday and may be in the mix with the varsity this fall is running back Mike Oates. He has good speed and quickness, and Fornaro and Co. will look for different ways to get Oates the ball in space.
— The team that came away with the title, Andover, was impressive throughout, even though the Golden Warriors also had some players missing.
Andover will be led this season by quarterback Victor Harrington, who started as a freshman last season. Harrington was on point all day, and his favorite receiver, Kelvin Davila, also had a terrific afternoon.
Keep an eye out, too, for running back Joshua Ramos, who was another standout for Andover on the day.
— There were three teams from Lynn in Holliston Saturday: Lynn English, Lynn Classical, and Lynn Tech. Classical and English had the best days, each advancing out of their groups to the knockout stage.
Classical has been strong so far early on in the 7-on-7 circuit even though the Rams were hit hard by graduation. Taking over for quarterback Keith Ridley, who will be at Boston College as a preferred walk-on, will be Danny Gisonno. Gisonno had a strong day with good ball placement and nice touch on his deep ball.
Sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Calvin So is another player who stood out for the Rams, while outside linebacker Maurice Sequeira should be a force on that side of the ball this season.
English was one of the more interesting teams in the field, as you will see an impact position change for the Bulldogs this fall. Mathias Fowler, who was been one of the top wide receiver/defensive backs in the Northeastern Conference his freshman and sophomore years, will be making the move to starting quarterback in 2019.
We see this as a great move by the English coaching staff. Those we spoke to from the English side said Fowler, who was not in attendance Saturday, has a good arm in addition to his obvious skills as a runner. The idea to get the ball in the hands of your best athlete on every play is a smart one.
As for the rest of the Bulldogs, the team will be pretty junior-heavy, and one of Fowler's favorite targets in the passing game is sure to be Tahj Purter, who looked like one of the best receivers we saw all day.
— Speaking of the NEC, one team that made it out of its group and will be one to watch in the fall was Danvers.
We spoke for a while with offensive coordinator Bruce Rich, who likes what he has coming back. The Falcons will not necessarily be a pass-oriented team, as with a big offensive line returning, they will be more about power football.
Even with the loss of Matt McCarthy at running back, Danvers returns two good ones to fill in with sophomore Chase Eary and Rich Canova. Look for Russ Canova, a fullback and middle linebacker, to be one of the top players for the Falcons on both sides of the ball.
— Staying on the North Shore, one team that was not there Saturday was Beverly. However, every opposing coach that has seen the Panthers so far this season thinks they will be formidable once the season rolls around.
— One of the teams that made it to the final four was Franklin, which brought a huge contingent of players.
Numbers in general will not be a problem for the Panthers, who bring back a fair amount of experience despite losing some key players to graduation. We were told the team returns eight starters on defense and seven on offense.
As usual, it will be tough to unseat the likes of Mansfield and King Philip in the Hockomock Kelley-Rex Division, but the Panthers have built up some confidence after last year's run in the Division 1 South bracket, where they nearly upset Xaverian in the semifinals.
— Dembowki's team was another that did not have its full crew there, but competed well in group play. Two players who did make it for the Wildcats that will be worth keeping an eye on this fall are wide receiver Liam Regan and sophomore Chase Vaughan, the heir apparent to Luke McMenamin at quarterback and younger brother to Milton Academy offensive lineman and Wake Forest commit Zach Vaughan.
— As expected, Newton North had one of the best quarterbacks there in Andrew Landry. He hooked up early and often with tight end Evan Thompson, including a pretty, over-the-middle pass for a touchdown that covered about 25-30 yards between defenders.
— Perhaps the surprise of the day came from Waltham, which made it all the way to the finals before falling to Andover.
The Hawks got it done with two different quarterbacks — Ali Lubwama and Nicholas Hidalgo. The receivers and defensive backs were some of the most athletic and skilled players on the day. Carl-Heinz Renaudin, Christian Cabral, and Brenden Mullaney were just a few of the standouts for the Hawks.
With Lincoln-Sudbury and Acton-Boxboro both losing a lot to graduation, don't be surprised to see Waltham squarely in the mix for the Dual County League Large title.
Although we did not get a chance to see the Shriners Game on Friday night, it appeared that Mashpee's Devaun Ford put on quite the show in leading the South to victory.
Ford's ability on both sides of the ball — whether at running back, receiver, or defensive back — has always been tremendous, and it was nice that he was able to showcase it one last time before he moves off to college.
And that will be at Framingham State, proving once again that it does not always matter what division a player ends up at, because you can find good players everywhere.
Over the weekend, BC High offensive tackle Ozzy Trapilo committed to Boston College over numerous other offers.
At 6-foot-8, 255 pounds, Trapilo casts a big shadow, and no doubt has his best football in front of him. BC already has secured the commitment of Milford's Kevin Pyne, who at 6-7, 275, has a similar body type. You are looking at two players who can play tackle, both of whom have plenty of weight they can add on without losing their agility.