Category: Noontime Commentary

Thoughts & Observations From The First Two Weeks of Mass. High School Football

Arlington Catholic quarterback Isaiah Osgood threw one touchdown last Saturday in his team’s first Catholic Central Large (CCL) meeting of the 2021 season. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

Two weeks of Massachusetts high school football are in the books. And a third is set to begin this evening with a few games to watch, including Natick (2-0) at Milford (2-0) — the game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. kickoff. 

Before we officially begin the third week, allow me to share some thoughts and observations from the first two weeks.

  • This week, we’ll be making the trek to Medford (1-1) — the Mustangs will host their initial Greater Boston League (GBL) tilt of the 2021 season by welcoming Revere (1-1) to Hormel Stadium for a 6 p.m. 

    Both teams scored week two victories with Revere beating Chelsea while Medford outlasted Cambridge. Medford’s win over Cambridge was their first on their home turf in three seasons. 

    As of this morning, Medford and Revere are two of four teams in the GBL that boast a 1-1 record, however, the Patriots and Everett both own identical 1-0 marks in conference play. 

    Lynn English, Malden, and Somerville are seeking their first wins of the 2021 season — could that happen this week? 

  • Last Saturday, I had the chance to watch two Catholic Central Large (CCL) teams compete at Hormel Stadium with Bishop Fenwick scoring an impressive 48-7 win over Arlington Catholic

    The game was highlighted by an impressive ground attack that was led by Troy Irizarry, who scored three touchdowns. The Crusaders’ defense was also fun to watch — they certainly did not make things easy on a Cougars offense that registered just one score after recording 30 points one week earlier against Lowell Catholic

    Arlington Catholic quarterback Isaiah Osgood has tossed three touchdowns this season — his third occurred last Saturday against Bishop Fenwick on a long toss down the far sidelines to Andrew Sullo
  • While it was only one game, I certainly believe the Crusaders are going to be a team to watch this fall, despite graduating some key pieces from its Fall II squad earlier this spring. Bishop Fenwick graduated 18 seniors last spring, but one might not know that by the way, this team has played in the first two weeks. 

    Bishop Fenwick quarterback Steven Woods will continue to be a signal-caller to watch — the same could be said for Costa Beechin (wide receiver/defensive back), Chris Faraca (wide receiver/defensive line), and Troy Irizarry (running back/defensive end). 
  • Going back to Medford-Revere, here are a few players I am looking forward to watching on Friday: Dominick Terranova (Medford | QB), Alvin Legros (Medford | WR), Isiah Blake (Medford | RB), Osman Elkouram (Medford | LB), Augusto Gonsalves (Revere | DE), Wilmer Rodriguez (Revere | RB), Davi Barreto (Revere | RB), and Max Doucette (Revere | LB).

  • Kipp Academy Lynn Collegiate football coach Jim Rabbitt joined me this week on the Noontime Sports Podcast — you can hear the show on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, as well as on other platforms, too.

    Jim and I discussed a variety of topics, including his playing days at Framingham State, his path to becoming the head coach of the Panthers, and what he and his team learned from their 2019 campaign, which saw Kipp Academy fall short of advancing to its first-ever state championship at Gillette Stadium.

    This week, Kipp Academy, which has won its first two contests, will look to continue its early season momentum when they travel to Georgetown for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Royals enter the week three clash with a 1-1 record.

  • There are quite a few teams that boast a 2-0 record, but here are the squads — well, programs, to be exact — that I am interested in watching this week to see if they can pick up their third-straight win:

    East Bostons: The Jets soared past Brighton last Friday and appear to be the team to watch in the Boston City League.

    North Reading: The Hornets are averaging 47.5 points per game but will they be able to score six or seven touchdowns tomorrow against 2-0 Pentucket?

    St. Mary’s (Lynn): Keep your eyes on the Spartans tomorrow evening as they travel to Bishop Feehan for a battle of 2-0 squads.

    Malden Catholic: The Lancers have scored back-to-back wins to start their season against Gloucester and Weymouth, but face a tough test tomorrow against Scituate, which lost a heartbreaker last Friday to Duxbury.

    And a few more: Billerica, Chelmsford, Lunenburg, Wakefield, Marblehead, North Quincy, Ashland, Norwood, Dover-Sherborn, Norton, and Cathedral.

New Patriots Training Camp: Will Cam Newton Win The Starting Job?

Cam Newton enters the New England Patriots’ 2021 training camp as the favorite to start at quarterback. (PHOTO COURTESY: AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)

By Matt Noonan

A brand new season of New England Patriots football is quickly approaching — are you ready for some football?

I am — I have been counting the days, weeks, and months since the Patriots concluded their 2020 campaign with a two-touchdown victory over the New York Jets in January at Gillette Stadium.

Like many, I am excited to see how some of the team’s offseason signings mesh with members of last year’s squad, including quarterback Cam Newton, who will enter the team’s 2021 training camp on Wednesday, July 28 as the favorite to be spotted under center in week one against the Miami Dolphins.

Newton did not have a great 2020 season — I think many know that or are aware of how he performed last fall. But coach Bill Belichick has acquired some solid pieces for the offense over the past few months, including tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Both players should certainly help Newton, as well as the offense, perform even better than they did last season — New England won just seven games in 2020 but had a chance to squeak out a few more victories had things gone their way down the stretch, especially against the Buffalo Bills in New York.

With a full year under his belt, along with some offseason practices (and meetings, of course), Newton enters training camp more prepared than he was last year, however, he certainly will be challenged by Mac Jones, who the Patriots selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in April.

Like Newton, Jones competed in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) — Jones played at Alabama while Newton competed at Auburn — and should be ready to take the reigns from the league’s most valuable player in 2015.

Jones led the Crimson Tide to a national championship in January — Alabama rolled past Ohio State, 52-24, in the College Football Playoff National Championship contest, which was held in Miami Gardens, Florida — and recorded career-highs in completions (311), passing yards (4,500), and touchdowns (41). And despite seeing limited action in 2018 and 2019, Jones should be able to translate his junior season’s success to the NFL this summer and fall.

Jones certainly has what it takes to challenge Newton for the starting quarterback spot — I am unsure if Jarrett Stidham is ready to slide up the depth chart considering he will begin his team’s camp Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Stidham has competed in eight games since becoming a member of the Patriots organization, including five contests last season. The former Auburn signal-caller completed 22 of 44 passes for a career and season-high 250 yards and two touchdowns. He did, however, throw three interceptions compared to one in 2019.

Numerous talking heads, along with various analysts believe Mac Jones could be the starter in the opening week, but it will all depend on how he handles himself during in-game situations. As Patriots.com’s Mike Dussault explains, “Every throw of 11-on-11 work will be dissected ad nauseam, but the bottom line is whether or not Jones or Stidham do enough to dethrone Newton, and can Newton hold them off by taking significant strides in his second year in the offense.”

For now, my bet is Cam Newton will be the starter in the opening week, but I do think Patriots fans will see Mac Jones under center at some point this fall — maybe against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week four? I am not sure if week four is when Jones will be thrusted into the lineup, but we’ll certainly learn more about his readiness when the Patriots scrimmage the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles later this summer. Those inter-squad practices will help us identify which quarterback(s) is ready to lead the hometown team to hopefully a postseason appearance next January.

Noontime Commentary: Returning To The Microphone

Posing for a photo on the field following the conclusion of the first ABCD Field of Dreams contest.

By Matt Noonan

It was worth the wait.

After a 465 day hiatus, I finally was able to pick up a microphone and lend my voice as a backdrop for a local sporting event here in Massachusetts. And it was an amazing feeling.

Being able to announce this morning’s Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Field of Dreams contest between Massachusetts General Brigham and the Boston All-Stars at Fenway Park was exciting — in fact, it was the most fun I have had on the microphone since I started calling sporting events as a student at Wheaton College (Mass.).

Yes, I have announced this event in the past, along with the organization’s “Hoop Dreams” outing at the TD Garden, but this morning’s contest provided me with a sense of hope and renewal for future coverage in the “new normal” — I am already counting the days until to my next PA announcing gig while circling while plotting my return to the sidelines to cover future college and high school sporting events.

Like many, the past 14-to-15 months was a struggle, both mentally and emotionally — to be honest, I was unsure what I would produce for the blog and podcast when various leagues were sent to the sidelines at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. But despite so much uncertainty, I remained hopeful and optimistic — I knew I would return to the microphone one day, and that day happened to be this morning: Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

It was just one game, but it was the best game that I have announce in 2021.

Commentary: Adam Vinatieri Is The NFL’s Best Placekicker Of All-Time

Former New England Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images/ESPN.com)

By Matt Noonan

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will always be synonymous with the New England Patriots, but the same could be said for Adam Vinatieri, who announced his retirement from the National Football League (NFL) yesterday on The Pat McAfee Show

Vinatieri, like Brady and Belichick, helped the Patriots win their first-ever Super Bowl championship against the St. Louis Rams in 2002 — he clinched the win with a last-second field goal weeks after splitting the uprights twice in a snowy postseason affair with the Oakland Raiders. He would win three more championships over the next five years, including one with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 (the victory marked the first of two titles for quarterback Peyton Manning, who would win his second Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos in 2016). 

The Yankton, South Dakota native has garnered multiple accolades throughout his career, including a trio of First-Team All-Pro honors along with a spot on three historic rosters: New England Patriots 50th Anniversary Team, NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, and NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. He is currently the league’s all-time scoring leader (2,673 points) and holds numerous kicking records, including the most consecutive field goals made (44).

So, between his accolades and records, along with his four Super Bowl rings, is it fair to say Vinatieri is the best placekicker in NFL History?

My answer: Yes, he is, but some may disagree and say that Morten Andersen (2,544 all-time points) and Gary Anderson (2,434 all-time points) deserve some consideration as the best placekicker in league history.

Neither Andersen nor Anderson has won a Super Bowl, but they both competed for nearly three decades. Vinatieri kicked extra points and field goals for 24 years.

Andersen was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2017 — he is also a member of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame and ranks second in the league in games played (382). He converted 565 of 709 field-goal attempts and was close to perfect when it came to extra points (849 out of 859 attempts). Andersen kicked for five teams but spent most of his career with the Saints.

Anderson has yet to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame but should hear his name called one of these days especially after tallying 1,343 points with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Four years after he left the Steelers, he enjoyed one of his best seasons with the Minnesota Vikings where he converted every extra point and field goal attempt in the regular season. His streak would conclude in the 1998 NFC Championship Game when he missed a 38-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. The Atlanta Falcons capitalized on the missed field goal by scoring a game-tying touchdown on the ensuing possession. Morten Andersen would cap the comeback with a game-winning field goal in overtime.

Similar to Andersen, Anderson competed for five teams. He spent most of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1982-1994).

All three kickers enjoyed successful careers, but after a quick stroll down memory lane, I still believe Adam Vinatieri is the best placekicker of all time. Had Morten Andersen won at least one — OK, maybe two Super Bowls, then maybe you could say it is a toss-up. Perhaps he would have earned more postseason honors, as well? But based on statistics and four Super Bowl titles, along with being the all-time scoring leader (as of this afternoon), I think it is fair to say that Vinatieri will always be the NFL’s best placekicker.

Commentary: Momentum Is On The Boston Bruins’ Side

Craig Smith’s game-winning goal on Wednesday provided the Boston Bruins with a 2-1 series lead against the Washington Capitals. (PHOTO COURTESY: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

By Matt Noonan

It’s hard to not think about round two of the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, especially after an exciting (and thrilling) 3-2 double-overtime win last night by the Boston Bruins.

Yes, they need to win two more games against the Washington Capitals before advancing further in the postseason, but Wednesday’s hard-fought victory has provided the Black and Gold with all the momentum heading into the fourth game of their opening-round series.

Game four is tomorrow evening at the TD Garden — it is a tremendous opportunity for the Bruins to position themselves for a series-clinching win on Sunday in Washington.

At times, it appeared as if the Bruins had nothing left in the tank last night — to be honest, I was worried that Nic Dowd‘s goal at 18:15 in the second period would wind up being the eventual game-winner, but somehow the Bruins found a way to even the score at 2-2 with a much-needed (and important) power-play goal by Brad Marchand in the third period before Craig Smith sealed the win in the second overtime period.

Smith’s goal will certainly provide the Bruins with a spark tomorrow evening — I wouldn’t be surprised if Friday’s outing results in a non-overtime win by the Black and Gold. Yet, the way this series has gone thus far, a one-goal victory should be expected.

Game four is an important one for both teams, but especially the Capitals — this is a must-win for the Red, White, and Blue. A loss to Boston would present a serious challenge for coach Peter Laviolette‘s squad as they would have to win games five, six, and seven to clinch the series.

Sure, Peter Laviolette has prior experience leading a team past Boston — does anyone remember 2010? — but I don’t think this Washington squad is equipped to win three-straight contests.

As expected, Boston Bruins playoff hockey has been fun, but also nerve-racking at the same time. Sometimes, I just wish most of their shots would sail into the Washington net, so we would not have to play overtime hockey. But after last night’s one-goal victory, I am thinking optimistically about tomorrow’s contest — in fact, I believe we’re going to win.

Let the countdown for Friday’s early evening affair commence — I hope the hometown fans are ready to do their part in helping the Bruins win their third-straight contest so we can possibly celebrate a series-clinching win late Sunday evening.