By Russ Waterman
Over 2,000 fans last Friday night at Natick High Memorial Field got to see why Ryan Izzo of Walpole is a very special player.
The junior running back rushed for 173 yards on 33 carries and scored all of his team's points to steer undefeated Walpole to the Bay State Herget title and a Division 2 playoff spot with a 21-9 victory over previously undefeated Natick.
Izzo, last year's Division 2 Player of the Year, has racked up 240 points this season, running for over 2,000 in 2008 and 4,000 yards in two years. Izzo ran for 68 yards on the Rebels' 15-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter, culminating in a 4-yard touchdown.
Scott McCummings, the Red and Blue's outstanding quarterback, accounted for the Natick’s only touchdown, running in from two yards out with a minute remaining in the first half and trimming the lead to 7-6.
Tim DeMaio added a 30-yard field goal in the third quarter. Then came the Rebels' response.
"Our last drive was absolutely classic," Rebels head coach Danny Villa said. "It was just smash mouth football and we said 'let's just go after it.' "
Villa credited the defensive effort of Adam Reigel, Vinnie Lee, Kyle Morris, Michael Millen, Sean Dricoll, Bryan Norberg and others for the win.
And Villa added of Izzo: "He just has a passion for the game that you can't coach and can't teach. And he has such tremendous vision that you just let him run."
* Tony Knight scored on a pair of runs and Brennen Sweeney kicked for seven points, including a 40-yard field goal, to help Xaverian topple Catholic Memorial, 24-7, from the unbeaten ranks with a victory.
* Boston College High quarterback Billy Killey threw a TD pass to Tyler Horan and another to Brandon Cipolla in a 21-7 win over St. John's Prep. The B.C High vs. Catholic Memorial Thanksgiving Day contest will decide the Catholic Conference title. If the Eagles win they qualify for the playoffs against Everett, two-time Division 1 Super Bowl champion and Greater Boston League champion. If it is a three-way tie then league officials will decide through a tiebreaker.
* Quarterback Danny Guadagnoli scored four times on rushes and threw for two other TDs to power Framingham past Needham, 42-34, in an exciting Bay State Carey game that clinched a Division 1A playoff spot. Guadagnoli connected on two long scoring strikes, including a 60-yard pass to Nick Liquori. Jean Baptiste scored three times for Needham.
* Abington qualified for the Division 3 playoffs with a 14-6 South Shore League title win over Mashpee. Quarterback Steve Perakslis hooked up with Chris Dion on a 48-yard pass play for the Green Wave's first touchdown. The game-clinching points came on a hook-and-ladder play that started on a short pass from Peraklsis to Dion who then lateraled the ball to to Kristian LaPointe, who ran in for a 33-yard TD.
* Behind two touchdown runs from Ryan Pollack, Reading beat Melrose, 14-7, for the Middlesex League title and secured a Division 2 berth.
* Apponequet remains unbeaten in the South Coast League after getting two rushing touchdowns each from Ben Bullock and Joe Kaminski in a 41-8 win over Case. The Lakers are still unbeaten but must defeat Old Rochester to win the league title and qualify for the Division 2A playoffs.
* Frontier Regional overcame a fourth-quarter comeback with an overtime touchdown pass from Erik Abramson to Steve Grybko to top previously undefeated Putnam Vo-Tech, 12-6, and keep its playoff hopes alive.
* In Westfield's 47-22 win over Agawam, Tim Gaylord had a 91-yard touchdown on a kickoff return and quarterback Ryan Smith threw for 101 yards and ran for 104 more.
* Joe Bonano ran for four scores, including ones for 60 and 44 yards, and quarterback Peter Casella threw for two more and scored another in a decisive 61-32 East Longmeadow victory over Cathedral.
* With two TDs, Nick Mulveyhill led a parade of seven other teammates who scored in South Hadley's 55-18 conquest of Commerce.
* For the first time in 23 years, Wachuset Regional defeated St. John's (Shrewsbury), 27-20, to gain a spot in the Central Massachusetts playoffs. Matt Pedone returned a punt 66 yards for a score and Cam Brigham ran for two TDs, including a 30-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. With their second straight loss, the Pioneers – riding high following wins over St. John's Prep and Xaverian – were eliminated from the playoffs.
* Arlington Catholic scored all its points in the second half and then held on in a 20-14 victory over Austin Prep, capturing the Central Catholic League for the third consecutive year and qualifying for the Division 3 playoffs.
* Acton-Boxborough followed up its big win over Lincoln-Sudbury with a Dual County League title-clinching 28-6 win over Newton South. Trevor Jeanson gained 233 yards and scored three TDs for the Colonials, who also qualified for the Division 1A playoffs.
* Tri-County won the Mayflower League Small title with a 14-0 victory over Holbrook, wrapping up at least a share of the league title, its first-ever championship and a berth in the Division 4 playoffs.
* Mansfield subdued Norwich Free Academy, 30-6, on a pair of TD runs by Matt Zonghetti and two TD passes thrown by quarterback Jeff Mallett to Nick Carafa and Andrew Kelley. The Hornets, Hockomock League champions and Division 2 playoff qualifiers, have now reeled off nine straight wins following a narrow 9-7 first-game loss to Dartmouth, an undefeated Division 1 power.
Prep Schools: BB&N, Milton Academy Notch Super Bowl Wins
Buckingham Browne and Nichols overcame Lawrence Academy, 20-13, to win the ISL title. BB & N got key contributions from several players, including a 53-yard scoring run by Steve Grassa and a 37-yard pass thrown by Mike DiChiara to Jim McCaffrey for the clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Kicker Phillippe Panico also booted two field goals of 26 and 35 yards and added two conversion kicks.
Lawrence Academy scored on a 40-yard interception return by Dan Giovacchini and a 46-yard TD pass thrown by Charlie Loeb to Denzel Britto.
Josh Scott scored on runs of 8, 5 and 4 yards to spark Milton Academy past previously unbeaten King Low Heywood Thomas (Conn.), 29-14, in the Samson Lorden Bowl held at Kingswood-Oxford in West Hartford, Conn. Chris Amrhein added a 24-yard scoring jaunt.