Flaherty: BC Eagles Have Pieces In Place For A Successful 2018 Campaign

Steve Addazio
Steve Addazio has some key pieces in place to make an exciting run this fall. (PHOTO CREDIT: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

By Dan Flaherty (@TheSportsNotebo)

Boston College has been as predictable a college football program as any in the country, at least since Steve Addazio became head coach back in 2013.

In Addazio’s five seasons, he’s finished 7-6 four different times, including the last two years. That’s what made the Over/Under win totals released in Las Vegas earlier this month so interesting—BC was listed at 5.5.

Furthermore, this doubt comes in a year when Addazio returns 14 starters. He brings back his entire offensive line. He brings back A.J. Dillon, a sophomore running back who rushed for nearly 1,600 yards last year. He brings a quarterback in Anthony Brown who got valuable experience last year as a freshman.

Defensively, the Eagles can build around defensive end Zach Allen, a disruptor that has the NFL in his future.

The doubt on Boston College also comes at a time when the opportunity to move up the ladder in the ACC’s Atlantic Division is there for the taking. While Clemson is firmly entrenched at the top, the Florida State program is in flux after the departure of coach Jimbo Fisher and Louisville’s rise under Bobby Petrino seems to have crested. Boston College beat both FSU and Louisville last season.

But the Eagles lost decisively to Wake Forest and N.C. State – both teams are divisional rivals. They are each more highly regarded on the Vegas Strip at the moment.

Addazio’s program is a throwback, built on physical football and tough defense that works to overcome mediocre play (at best) from the quarterback position. Brown’s numbers last year—52% completion percentage, 5.3 yards-per-attempt and 11 touchdowns versus nine interceptions—look straight out of the 1970s.

In an era where everything is seen to be about the quarterback, BC is not going to have believers as long as this current trend continues. Nor is there any reason to expect a change of course this season.

While it’s reasonable to expect improvement from Brown, I don’t think there will be too many comparisons to Matt Ryan floating around the Heights. And on the positive side, there is every reason to think Boston College can take what it usually does well under Addazio and simply do it better.

Dillon is one of the best halfbacks in college football. His most impressive number isn’t the yardage totals—you can attribute at least some of that to the workload he gets in this offense. The most impressive number is his 5.3 yards-per-rush. That’s good under any circumstances, and especially when opposing defenses know you’re getting the ball.

Dillon, with that veteran offensive line in front of him, molded by the hard-nosed Addazio, can make a run at ACC Player of the Year. If he breaks 2,000 yards, an invite to the Heisman banquet in early December could be in the offing.

How far Dillon can carry the Eagles will be apparent by mid-October. After tuneup games with Massachusetts and Holy Cross, Boston College faces two road games that will provide a good early gauge on where they’re at. They go to Wake Forest on a Thursday night and then visit Purdue, a Big Ten Conference team on the rise, the following Saturday.

After a game with Temple to close September, BC has a road game at N.C. State and a home date with Louisville. By this point in the schedule, the Eagles need to be 5-2. They’ll go into a bye week and on the far side of that bye are four games in four weeks—against Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Florida State. The Eagles have to hope they can steal one win during this stretch and then close the season at home by beating Syracuse. That gets them to seven wins again.

I’m one who likes old-fashioned football and I really hope Addazio can do it. The schedule is difficult and in a different environment, the head coach might be in real trouble. But in a market where media hype and fan intensity hones in on pro sports, the BC boss can keep people happy if he just keeps winning seven games each season, while  providing a little Saturday afternoon diversion.

As long as the benchmark stays that reasonable, I think he’ll continue to do it in 2018.

Dan Flaherty is the owner of TheSportsNotebook.com and the author of Great 1980s Sports MomentsStay connected with Dan on Twitter at @TheSportsNotebo 

NEWS: Noontime Sports To Produce Mass. High School Lax Podcast In 2018

Mass HS Lax Podcast

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

It was announced earlier today on Twitter that we will be producing a brand new podcast series next year – that is 2018, to be exact! – on Massachusetts High School Lacrosse!

Our goal for these podcasts is to highlight the numerous programs across the state – yes, this includes Berkshire County, along with the Springfield and Worcester areas, too – through interviews with coaches and players, along with an occasional feature or two.

We’re really excited to provide additional coverage this spring for the sport and look forward to working with all the coaches, student-athletes and programs in Massachusetts.

If you have an idea for a possible feature or upcoming episode, please let us know by sending us a Tweet to @NoontimeSports or an email to our editor and founder Matt Noonan (MattNoonan@NoontimeSports.com).

In the meantime, make sure to check-out our podcast page, which features a trio of shows, including our longest-running show Noontime Sports the Podcast.

 

Mass. High School Football: MIAA South Playoff Brackets (LINKS)

NS HS FOOTBALL

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) released the postseason brackets for the upcoming high school football playoffs, and below is a link to all eight south divisions.

MIAA Division 1 (Top Seed: BC High)

MIAA Division 2 (Top Seed: King Phillip)

MIAA Division 3 (Top Seed: North Attleboro)

MIAA Division 4 (Top Seed: Hopkinton)

MIAA Division 5 (Top Seed: Dennis-Yarmouth)

MIAA Division 6 (Top Seed: Norwell)

MIAA Division 7 (Top Seed: Mashpee)

MIAA Division 8 (Top Seed: Wareham)

Massachusetts High School Lax Round-Up: Checking-In On The West

MASS LAX HS UPDATE NEW

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Our Massachusetts High School Lacrosse Round-Up has returned – yes, we’re officially back for the remainder of the season, so make sure to circle back each week for various posts on the numerous teams, including our various social media round-ups, too.

For this week’s post, we’re shedding some light on Western Massachusetts teams, including Longmeadow, Mount Greylock and others! 

First, congratulations to Longmeadow’s Kristopher Campbell, who was tabbed last week’s Epoch/USL High School Boys’ Player of the Week following an impressive 11-point effort in his team’s 14-10 win over Amherst-Pelham.

Longmeadow, which is in-action today against Northampton (9-1), will visit Harvard Stadium on Saturday, May 6th to face-off against Lincoln-Sudbury.

Last season, the Warriors defeated the Lancers in Amherst by a score of 15-11. The game was followed by a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tilt between Amherst College and Colby College.

Following this season’s meeting, fans are encouraged to stick around and cheer on the Boston Cannons, who will play their home-opener against the Chesapeake Bayhawks. Face-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Jeff Stripp and the Mount Greylock Mounties (10-0) captured their 10th contest on Monday, defeating Pittsfield by a score of 17-6. Reilly Parker and Pat Storie highlighted their team’s 10th win of the season by combining for 12 goals and four assists, while Owen Politis netted a hat-trick.

The Mounties return to the field on Saturday when they host Lee, which also defeated Pittsfield this week – Wednesday, to be exact – by a score of 20-9.

Hoosac Valley received a big-boots from Casey Meczywor on Wednesday as he netted seven goals, while dishing out a pair of assists in his team’s 13-4 win over Taconic. The win was the Hurricanes’ third of the season.

As noted in yesterday’s Berkshire Eagle, Hoosac Valley led 8-0 after the opening session and 9-0 by halftime.

Extra News and Notes from the West!

Games to Watch this Friday, May 5th & Saturday, May 6th: 

  • Westfield at Pope Francis (Friday, May 5th)
  • Chicopee Comp. at Wahconah (Friday, May 5th)
  • Lonmeadow vs. Lincoln-Sudbury (Saturday, May 6th | Harvard Stadium)
  • Minnechaug at Northampton (Saturday, May 6th)
  • Lee at Mount Greylock (Saturday, May 6th)
  • Hoosac Valley at Granby (Saturday, May 6th)

Mass. High School Lax: Westwood Keeps The Focus On Improving Every Day

Westwood GLAX
After capturing the MIAA Division 1 State Championship last season, the Westwood High School girl’s lacrosse team is focused on improving each day this season! (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Mao)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

Months after the Westwood girl’s varsity lacrosse team captured the Division 1 state championship, the Westwood Press and Boston Herald reported that long-time head coach Leslie Frank was stepping-down.

Frank’s departure opened the door for assistant Margot Spatola, who spent the past five seasons with the Wolverines.

“The transition has gone well so far,” said Spatola, who has helped the Wolverines snatch a trio of state titles, dating back to 2012.

“I hope that my coaching staff and I can honor Leslie’s legacy by continuing to push our players to be the best players they can be and to be the best versions of themselves (everyday).”

Westwood, which commences its regular season next week when they visit Bellingham, will enjoy a few more days of practice, along with a pair of play-dates this weekend – weather permitting, of course.

The play-dates will feature some local teams, including Duxbury, Needham and Notre Dame Academy (Hingham), along with a few squads from New York and Rhode Island.

According to Spatola, Westwood’s biggest goal this season is to grow and improve every day. Sure, it sounds cliché, but in order for the Wolverines to enjoy another successful campaign, they’ll need their seniors, including Haley Connaughton, Shea Farrell, Georgia Salvatore and Kelly Doonan to step-up and lead the underclassmen.

“We have nine seniors (on our team) that have exhibited great leadership already,” said Spatola. “We’re fortunate to have such a hard-working, cohesive group of seniors.”

Added Connaughton, “We need to work as hard as we can (everyday). We are each other’s best competition and we need to capitalize on that at practices and in pre-game warm ups.”

Haley Connaughton
Haley Connaughton (No. 4) will be one of nine seniors counted on to lead the Wolverines this season. (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Mao)

Competing against each other every day should certainly help Westwood achieve their daily (and season-long goal), but also assist the underclassmen and new players that Spatola welcomed to the team earlier this month.

“We have a number of newcomers who have the chance to make an impact,” said Spatola. “We graduated 10 seniors from the 2016 squad and Marc is a time for new things to happen.

“We’re looking forward to watching our underclassmen grow under the guidance of our experienced seniors and juniors.”

Following Westwood’s initial contest against Bellingham, the Wolverines will host Needham on Wednesday (April 5th) before visiting Dover-Sherborn the following day (April 6th).

Westwood and Needham have built quite a rivalry over the past few seasons – most times, the two squads clash in the MIAA Division 1 South semifinals or finals.

“Needham is a great team that we always have a friendly rivalry with,” said Spatola.

In addition to an important non-conference meeting with the Rockets, Westwood’s schedule features some additional tough tests against Norwell (last season’s MIAA Division 2 state champion), Wellesley, Lincoln-Sudbury, Duxbury, Medfield and Notre Dame Academy.

Of course, winning the Tri-Valley League is extremely important, too – don’t expect Spatola and her crew to overlook any league foe as they continue to strive to improve and grow each day.

“What’s great about high school sports is that every year is different from the last, and the beginning of the season is very different from the end,” said Spatola. “I look forward to seeing how our team grows throughout the season.”

Added Doonan, “I think our biggest team goal this season is getting to know each other’s style of play. We have a lot of new underclassmen and juniors on the team, and we really need to work in practice on getting to know each others strengths and weaknesses, both offensively and defensively.”

Make sure to stay up-to date with the Wolverines, along with other Massachusetts High School Lacrosse news by following us on Twitter @NoontimeSports and @Mass_LaxHS. This season, Noontime Sports (and NoontimeSports.com) will provide game stories and features on local high school lacrosse.