By Jim Stout
Brockton High knows as much about success - if not more - as any school in Massachusetts football history. In the last two seasons alone, the Boxers have gone 24-2 and won consecutive Super Bowl titles. They own more championship hardware than any program in the state.
Now Brockton may have to learn a little bit about the patience of retooling.
Though ranked No. 1 in Eastern Massachusetts during the preseason, a youthful and injury-nipped Boxer team committed six turnovers last Friday night and dropped its season opener, 27-20, to No. 5 Boston College High before an overflow crowd at BC's refurbished Viola Stadium.
Brockton returns just eight starters this season, and then had to play its opener without quarterback Vaughn Askew (ankle injury). Tailback Jarron McNeil sat out the first quarter.
"We're young, and that certainly prevailed tonight," Brockton coach Peter Colombo told the Boston Globe after the game. "(Missing) Vaughn changes everything, obviously, but with six turnovers, (a win) doesn't happen."
Brockton also struggled with BC's grind-it-out running attack.
"That's Ronny; he (implements the run) as well as anyone. That was the difference," Colombo said of BC coach Ron St. George. "Ron is tough, he's been doing that for a long time. That's his forte. It's tough to get the ball away from him."
The BC Wing-T attack was led by Liam Regan, Brian Sullivan and Mitch McClune.
BC started icing the victory in the fourth quarter on a touchdown with about eight minutes to go.
"We controlled the game with our offense. Unfortunately, we didn't score enough with the errors we made," St. George said, referring to his team's three turnovers and other miscues committed by the Eagles. "We made some mistakes that hurt us, but we fought through it."
Auburn Streak Stays Intact
Auburn, the defending Division 2A Super Bowl champs, won its 19th-consecutive game, opening the 2006 season by hanging on to defeat Shrewsbury, 14-13, at the reopening of Memorial Field in Auburn.
Shrewsbury had the chance to win the game with 1:14 left in regulation, but quarterback Jawad Yatim was stopped inches from the goal line as the Colonials went for the two-point conversion following their second touchdown.
Dan Fredrickson pulled Shrewsbury within one point with a 2-yard touchdown run, capping a six-play, 28-yard drive set up by an Auburn turnover.
"I think we came up about three inches short," Shrewsbury coach Terry Walles told the Worcester Telegram. "I can live with that. If we had gone for the kick (on the final PAT attempt) and it had been blocked or something, I couldn't live with that. I coach to win. Always have, and I always will."
"We are young and somewhat inexperienced," Auburn coach Jeff Cormier said. "There was a lot of pressure on us opening the new field. I thought our seniors did a great job shouldering the burden."
Gordon returns in a rush
Taunton's John Gordon picked up Saturday exactly where he left off in 2005.
After receiving a waiver to play in his senior season in 2006, the talented tailback delivered a performance reminiscent of his all-scholastic season of a year ago, scoring four touchdowns and rushing for 235 yards in a 48-30 win over Lowell at Hopewell Park in Taunton.
Taunton running back Terrell Walker added two touchdowns while quarterback Mike Roy threw for another.
"It's been a roller coaster (the last few weeks)," Gordon told the Taunton Gazette. "I was trying to hype everybody up when we got on the field."
Somerville Ends Four-Year Skid
Jesse LaMontagne picked off a North Quincy pass with time having expired, officially sealing Somerville's first win since 2002 and snapping a 33-game losing streak with a 28-12 triumph in front of a packed crowd at the re-opening of Dilboy Field in Somerville.
It was coach Harry Marchetti's first win at Somerville, after an 0-11 campaign in 2005. After the interception, a pair of Highlanders gave him a traditional Gatorade dunk, while the rest of the players celebrated around the new FieldTurf surface, the cherry on top of Dilboy's brand new state-of-the-art facilities.
"I can tell you honestly; you can taste victory. You can taste it," Marchetti said. "And this one was pretty sweet."
Somerville took the lead for good in the fourth quarter when Gavin Nelson followed a five-man convoy around the left side, broke free of an arm tackle, and sprinted down the sideline for an 85-yard score, capped off by a 2-point conversion. Ricardo David then sealed it with just over three minutes to go with a 14-yard touchdown, this time following a group of blockers around the right side.
Powers' Surge Not Quite Enough
A stellar second-half performance by running back Tim Powers nearly rallied Durfee to a come-from-behind victory over visiting Barnstable last Saturday at UMass-Dartmouth's Cressy Field.
But after his brilliant running and pass-catching efforts had drawn the Hilltoppers to within a point of Barnstable in the closing seconds, Powers had his 29-yard field goal attempt partially blocked by the Red Raiders' C.J. Ellis as time ran out. Defensive back Donny Campbell also made a key defensive stop in the final minute as Barnstable came away with a 21-20 opening-day win in North Dartmouth.
"The kids fought hard; that's the biggest thing," Barnstable coach Spanky Demanche told the Cape Cod Times. "It's a building process. We took a step and we'll move on. Durfee's a good team with some good skill kids."
Barnstable quarterback Ryan Tremblett rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries, including a 61-yard touchdown scamper on the game's first play from scrimmage.
Fullback Zach Wilson picked up 98 yards on 16 carries for Barnstable, including touchdown runs of one and three yards. His final score came with 27 seconds left in the half, lifting Barnstable into a 19-6 lead. Tremblett's conversion pass to the 6-5 Campbell and made it 21-6 at intermission and ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.
Powers, however, would not allow Durfee to go quietly, taking control of the second half for the Hilltoppers, only to fall painstakingly short at the buzzer.
St John's Offensive Line Dominates
An overwhelming offensive line was the key ingredient in No. 6 St. John's Prep's 24-0 shutout of Peabody Saturday in Danvers.
"Up front (St. John's) was physically a bigger group than us," Peabody coach Paul Uva told the Boston Globe.
St. John's looked sharp on its second drive, especially junior quarterback Scott Darby, who was 3-for-3 for 41 yards and a touchdown. St. John's began the drive on its own 35-yard line after a Peabody punt. Peabody was no match for the bigger and stronger Eagles' unit that was able to run for power between the tackles and throw for precision when it wanted.
The early drive ended with a 26-yard TD pass form Darby to junior Derek Coppola with 3:59 remaining in the quarter. A 32-yard field goal by junior Thomas McTeague with 1:33 left in the first made it 10-0.
First Win for Best, Sci-Tech
Turners Falls scored early, but Sci-Tech fought back with two second-half touchdowns to record a 19-15 victory at Plumb Field in Springfield for first-year coach Elliott Best.
Sophomore Tim Pettaway ignited Sci-Tech's final strike with a 35-yard kickoff return, then broke a 32-yard run on the next play, and with help from Brendan Green and Jimmy Menard, went up the middle and then bounced outside four yards with the winning TD with 90 seconds left.
"Our defense played well and we stuck together. There were a lot of mistakes, but we're a young team and as the year goes on, we'll grow and learn," Best told the Springfield Republican. "We played tough ball, especially towards the end when the seniors stepped up."
No Cramping South Hadley Style
With most of its starting backfield on the sidelines for the third quarter with leg cramps, the South Hadley Tigers fell behind Holyoke, only to rally in the fourth with fresh legs and take a 30-22 win over the Purple Knights in the independent opener for both sides.
"Holyoke's a good football team and they're going to win a lot of games this year," said South Hadley coach Ray Ferro told the Springfield Republican.
"Fortunately we had a little more offensive punch late in the game than they did."
Both teams struggled with cramping calves and hamstrings throughout the game. The Purple Knights lost wide receiver and returner Carlos De La Rosa after the first halftime, putting a damper on their offensive attack.
"(De La Rosa) was cramping up real bad and he played his heart out," Holyoke coach Bob Lastowski said. "He had some serious chances and almost broke three of them. He was really our best player in the first half, but the trainer said he just didn't come around."
Tough Trip for Wahconah
Defending Berkshire County champion Wahconah Regional will have to forget about its opening road trip to the Route 495 corridor in Foxborough.
Playing against one of the top teams in the state, the Warriors trailed host Foxborough 34-0 at halftime and played well in the second half before falling 34-6.
The Foxborough running back tandem of halfback Kevin McCarthy and fullback Dave Flynn punished the Warrior defense for three touchdowns in the first half. Wahconah's score came two plays into the fourth quarter. James Errichetto carried the ball in from 12 yards to provide the lone six for the visitors.
"I'll take the blame for this one," Wahconah first-year coach Matt Morrison told the Berkshire Eagle. "Our kids did exactly what we told them to do. They hung in there and played a great second half.
Middleboro, Wilson Survive Late Scare
Middleboro's Justin Wilson proved why he was one of the best quarterbacks in the southeastern region last season.
The senior signal caller tossed three touchdown passes, including a 73-yard score with 7:25 remaining in regulation to give the Sachems the lead for good, and a 28-20 win over home-standing Coyle-Cassidy at Taunton's Hopewell Park.
Coyle-Cassidy had one last shot to tie the game, but fumbled away the ball with under four minutes remaining in the game.
Middleboro held a distinct advantage in total yards, 370-240, but Coyle-Cassidy outplayed the Sachems in the second half and might have rallied for the win had it not been for two long plays.
"(C-C) made a great run at us and my hat goes off to them," Middleboro coach Dave DeFelice said. "I saw some weaknesses I wanted to attack. Once we settled down, I knew our offense would take control."
The loss dampened the outstanding performance turned in by Coyle-Cassidy's Conor Henry in his first varsity game. The sophomore quarterback completed 10-of-17 passes for 120 yards and a pair of scores.
Henry and running back Justin Pohl excelled in the second half for C-C. Pohl carried the ball 15 times for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
The Middleboro combination of Wilson, Stanley Wright, Henry Hufault and Julian Santos accumulated 176 yards on the ground.
Wilson connected with Dominique Bailey on a 73-yard scoring strike to snap the 20-20 draw in the final period.
Jim Stout is the MaxPreps.com Master Photographer for the Massachusetts/Rhode Island region and a Massachusetts state columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org