Tag: Tri-Valley League

Mass. High School Football: Week One Highlights & Takeaways

Malden Catholic scored an opening night win last Friday against Weymouth. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/Noontime Sports)

By Matt Noonan

The first official week of the Massachusetts high school football season is in the books. 

Here are some highlights (and yes, takeaways, too) from the initial week of the 2021 season.  

  • For starters, it was great to see fans back in the stands last Friday and Saturday.

    I was at one of the games — a non-conference clash between Malden Catholic and Weymouth that saw the Lancers roll past the Wildcats by a score of 35-6. The game was highlighted by some impressive defensive plays, along with a rushing attack that will once again be on display this week when the Blue and Gold host Gloucester on Friday, September 17 at 7 p.m.
  • Speaking of Gloucester, the Fishermen dropped their season-opener to Hamilton-Wenham last Friday evening by a score of 13-7.

    The Generals defense kept the Fishermen’s offense in check, limiting Gloucester to just one touchdown, a 62-yard rushing score by Caleb DeCoste, which provided them with their first and only lead of the contest.

    Friday’s clash between the Fishermen and Lancers will be one to keep an eye on — could the Lancers begin their season with back-to-back wins?
  • Scituate is going to be a team to watch, both this week and throughout the fall — the Sailors scored an impressive victory last Friday over Milton, thanks to Keegan Sullivan, who rushed for four touchdowns, including a 67-yard score in the third and 66-yard touchdown in the fourth to secure a 34-20 victory. 

    This week, the Sailors visit Duxbury on Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff — the Dragons also scored an opening win by downing Bridgewater-Raynham by a score of 42-0.
  • The Norwood Mustangs are going to be a team to watch and yes, beat, in the Tri-Valley League (TVL).

    Norwood commenced its 2021 campaign with a 21-14 victory over Stoughton last Friday — the win was highlighted by a trio of student-athletes, including Matt Alves, who recovered a fumble in the end zone in the third quarter.

    Sean Steeves was also instrumental in the win — he was named to the Boston Globe’s EMass Players of the Week after tallying three interceptions against Stoughton, along with seven total tackles.

    Norwood returns to the field on Saturday, September 18 when they host Falmouth, which lost its season-opener to Plymouth North by a score of 18-14.
  • Jathan Greene was the player to watch last Friday afternoon in Brighton’s season-opener against O’Bryant.

    Greene led the Bengals with three touchdowns — two on the ground, one through the air — while Damian Blacknall added an 82-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth.

    Following Greene’s initial score against the Tigers, Quarterback Sahmir Morales connected with Isiah Joseph for a 36-yard touchdown, which provided the visitors with a 14-0 lead after one frame.
  • Brighton’s opponent this week — East Boston — also scored an opening day win over Boston Latin, thanks to a trio of rushing scores from Jaye Kincade, Jashua Delacruz, and Randy Bermudez.

    The Jets beat the Bengals during Fall II by a score of 20-12, so it will be interesting to see if the Blue and Yellow can duplicate that performance from March on Friday.
  • A few additional thoughts … congrats to Brian McCray on his first win as the head coach at Belmont. The Marauders defeated Cambridge last Friday by a score of 20-7 … Wayland looked rather impressive last Friday as the Warriors rolled past Hopkinton by a score of 40-6. Shayne Sutton could not be stopped as the senior rushed for four touchdowns against the Hillers …  Chelsea, which is competing in the Greater Boston League (GBL), scored an opening day against Salem, and will look to continue their early season  momentum against Revere, which lost its home opener to Peabody by a score of 28-7. The two teams will square-off in Chelsea on Friday at 6 p.m. 

We’ll have a few more high school football posts later this week, but for now, thanks for stopping by to read our first-week highlights — and yes, some takeaways and thoughts, too. 

Mass. High Schools: Norwood Football Ready To Begin A New Chapter Under Coach Lopes

NORWOOD MUSTANGS

By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

Months after concluding their 2018 campaign with a 26-6 setback to rival Dedham High School, the Norwood High School football team returned to campus last month eager to start a new chapter of the program under first-year coach Manny Lopes.

Lopes, who competed and won a Super Bowl as a student-athlete with Norwood in 2000, is excited for his initial season with the Mustangs, who will visit Walpole High School on Friday, September 6th for a 7 p.m. kick-off.

“It’s exciting,” said Lopes of his team’s first contest of the 2019 season. “Its a respectful rivalry, but we have lost to them long enough, so it will be nice to put some teams out there to compete with them, and we’re excited to get out there (this Friday).”

Walpole topped Norwood, 27-0, last fall, which provided coach Chris Sullivan, a former assistant, and student-athlete with the Rebels with his initial win as the program’s head coach.

Lopes says he is excited to start his “own little rivalry” with Sullivan, who he described as a “great guy.”

Similar to Lopes, his players, including quarterback Jason Denehy are excited for their first game against the Rebels – the Mustangs’ signal-caller says he “takes pride in being a part of” the Norwood-Walpole rivalry.

“It goes back a long time and it means a lot to me from youth and especially now in high school,” said Denehy, who is eager to guide the Mustangs’ offense up and down the field this fall.

Denehy considers Walpole “one of the (stronger) opponents” Norwood will face this fall, so scoring an opening day win over the Rebels would certainly provide the squad with some momentum heading into their second season in the Tri-Valley League (TVL).

Norwood concluded its first season in the TVL with a 2-9 mark – their lone conference win came against Medfield High School last October – but from speaking with a few players last Friday during the squad’s ‘Media Day,’ they certainly seem prepared to face the conference’s large divisional foes again this season. 

Said senior tri-captain Aidan Prior, “A lot of these Tri-Valley League teams I never played before (until last season), but there were two teams we have been playing for years (growing up through youth sports) in Dedham and Westwood, so it is good to know coming back a second year what these teams are all about.”

The Mustangs will play two conference games this month against Medway and Westwood before visiting Hopkinton and Holliston in the first two weeks of October. Medfield and Ashland will visit Norwood during the final two weeks of October before the Mustangs compete in either a postseason or non-postseason clash.

Norwood will conclude November with a visit to Dedham on Thanksgiving Day with kickoff scheduled for 10 a.m.


Getting to Know the 2019 Norwood High School Mustangs

Norwood’s first season in the Tri-Valley League (TVL)The Mustangs concluded their initial season in the Tri-Valley League with a 2-9 record. Their lone conference win came against Medfield when the Mustangs defeated the Warriors last October by a score of 21-2.

Familiar FoesNorwood will see the same seven teams they competed against last season, including all six conference foes. They were competitive against Medway and Westwood but struggled against Ashland, Holliston, and Hopkinton.

But as senior tri-captain Teddy Willet said, “We got to watch these teams on film but never saw them on the field, we never played with them before, but the way I look at it is they have never seen us before and they have to come to stop us.”

Norwood’s first conference game is Saturday, September 21st against Medway, which defeated the Mustangs last fall, 34-18.

A new potential rival for NorwoodWhile Norwood will continue its rivalry with Dedham and Walpole this fall – the Marauders are also part of the Tri-Valley League, too – it seems a new rivalry is taking shape with its next-door neighbors.

Norwood and Westwood are slowly becoming rivals – the two towns don’t have the same history as Norwood-Dedham or Norwood-Walpole, but as coach Manny Lopes said, “Westwood is starting to be a little rivalry.”

One of Lopes’ coordinators said he considers Norwood-Westwood a “great rivalry,” especially after last year’s contest, which saw the Wolverines edge the Mustangs, 7-6.

Said Lopes, “Walpole and Dedham are the big ones. The Westwood one is growing, there have been some close games in the past couple of years, but it is really Walpole and Dedham.”

Norwood and Westwood will square-off Saturday, September 28th at 1 p.m.

Norwood’s CaptainsThe Mustangs named three student-athletes captains this season: Teddy Willett, who will play halfback and outside linebacker, Aidan Prior, who will be spotted at offensive guard and defensive tackle, and Connor Sheehan, who will play offensive guard and middle linebacker.

The offensive planLopes said he and his staff have implemented a new offense for the upcoming season, which will be a mix of run-pass. Lopes seems eager to watch Denehy quarterback an offense that may not feature too many designed plays but will allow the junior signal-caller to run the ball, too.

Norwood returns three starters on the offensive line, according to Lopes, including Prior and Sheehan.

Getting to know Norwood’s defenseWhile Prior, Sheehan, and Willett will be tasked with leading the Mustangs’ defense, there are some holes Lopes and his staff must fill heading into their first game on Friday.

Lopes doesn’t seem too concerned about filling the graduation gaps – he has faith in his seniors to step-up and make plays. “We’ll be fine,” said Lopes.


Stay connected with our Massachusetts high school sports coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_HS

New Eng. High School Notebook: Games To Watch This Weekend (Apr. 26th-28th)

NS HS LAX

By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

Welcome to Friday – we made it!

We have some great high school lacrosse games to follow, so let’s dive into some matchups you will certainly want to follow both today and this weekend.

For starters, Duxbury will host Medfield in a non-conference clash, which will certainly tell us a lot more about both teams. The Dragons are coming off an exciting 8-7 overtime win last night over Hingham, thanks to a Mike McCutcheon, who netted both the equalizer and game-winner.

The win certainly provides the Dragons with some momentum heading into Saturday’s late afternoon meeting with a Warriors squad, which secured the second position in this week’s Boston Globe Boy’s Lacrosse Top 20.

Medfield has yet to drop a single game this season and will enter Saturday’s marquee clash with an 8-0 mark following back-to-back Tri-Valley League (TVL) wins over Bellingham and Norton.

Following their win over Norton, Medfield announced some exciting news about Tommy Gill, who will be attending Hotchkiss School in Connecticut following graduation later this spring.

In addition to Duxbury-Medfield, lacrosse fans should certainly keep their eye on an important Catholic Central League (CCL) clash between Bishop Fenwick and St. Mary’s of Lynn. Both teams will meet in Peabody on Saturday with face-off scheduled for 12 p.m.

Here are a few other games to keep an eye on.

  • Massachusetts Lacrosse (Girls): Foxborough at Walpole (Friday, Apr. 26th at 3:45 p.m.)
  • Maine Lacrosse (Boys): Thornton Academy at Cape Elizabeth (Friday, Apr. 26th at 6 p.m.)
  • Massachusetts Lacrosse (Boys): Concord-Carlisle at Reading (Saturday, Apr. 27th at 1 10 a.m.)
  • Massachusetts (Boys): Walpole at Xaverian Brothers (Saturday, Apr. 27th at 1 p.m.)
  • Massachusetts Lacrosse (Boys): Lincoln-Sudbury at St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) (Saturday, Apr. 27th at 2 p.m.)
  • Massachusetts & Rhode Island Lacrosse (Boys): La Salle (R.I.) at Boston College High School (Saturday, Apr. 27th at 3 p.m.)
  • Connecticut Lacrosse (Boys): Darien at St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) (Sunday, April 28th at 10 a.m.)
  • Massachusetts Lacrosse (Boys): Lincoln-Sudbury at Haverford (Pa.) (Sunday, April 28th at 2 p.m.)

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. 

Curry College’s Rob Bambini Earns First Golden Helmet Award

Rob Bambini collected his first Golden Helmet Award on Wednesday at Harvard University! (Photo Credit: Curry College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan 

CAMBRIDGE, MA – On Wednesday, Curry College wide receiver Rob Bambini was named this week’s Div. II/III Golden Helmet Award winner at the weekly New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Luncheon at Harvard University.

Bambini caught four touchdowns last weekend against Western New England, which included the game-winning score with one second remaining that lifted the Colonels past the Golden Bears for their third win of the season.

The former Westwood Wolverine has been clutch this year for the Colonels, and following his team’s most recent tilt against WNEC, the athletic department and New England Football Conference reported that Bambini set program records in the following categories: receptions (181), receiving yards (2,537) and touchdowns (32).

Noontime Sports caught up with the wide receiver following the luncheon to talk about the award, as well as the season thus far.

Talk about this award. What does it mean to you?

“It means a lot to me. It’s definitely a big honor to accept this award, but I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates, especially my quarterback Kevin Fruwirth, who is fighting through a couple of injuries and he’s a warrior and threw for almost 400 yards [last week against Western New England College], five touchdowns, so he could easily be getting interviewed by you right now.”

What has been the key to your success over the past four seasons?

“Maturity. I only played one year [at Westwood High School], my senior year, so just learning about the game through every practice and just being around football every day, just [continuing to learn] life lessons, responsibility, and just being around the guys.”

Looking back to your senior year with Westwood, what did you learn the most from that one season?

“Coach Paul Hallion was a great coach, and he sped up the process of learning the game number wise and becoming a man on the field.”

Following your only season with the Wolverines, did you consider playing college football? 

“I wanted to go to a bigger division, but Curry was the only school I got into except Framingham State, and I came here and fell in love with the coaches because they treat you like your own and fell in love with the program, so I stayed.”

Do you recall one moment or game that has helped with your maturity process?

“[During my] freshmen year we made the NEFC Championship, [but] we lost double-overtime to a Hail Mary pass, and this program has been a winning program from ’03-’07, they’ve won championships four years in a row, so I’m just trying to do my part for the alums and trying to get back to a championship to get them another one.”

Talk about your connection with Kevin. How has it improved since training camp?

“This is Kevin’s first year starting. I got hurt in preseason, so I didn’t play in the first two games, so we were unsure about how our connection would be, but it’s been good. He’s got a rocket arm, he’s got a great arm and he’s just tough. We get along on and off the field, we eat lunch and dinner together and just trying to get another championship for the Curry College program.”

From a receiving perspective, what do you have to do to help your offense earn a win on the road against Salve Regina?

“They have two great corners [Ryan Mannion and Phil Terio] and one of them leads the league in interceptions, two great safeties [Maxwell Shubert and Joshua Burnett], their front seven is tough, they’re a real good team and that’s why they’re 6-0, but we’re going to do in there and just play one play at a time and see by the end of the game what the score is.”

You aren’t the first NEFC player to win this award, so what does that say about the league?  

“I feel the league is getting stronger, more people are getting recruited into this league that have serious talent and its fun. It’s fun to play against people that are serious about their talent and I’m glad I play for Curry College.”

Finally, what would it mean to you to end your college career with a championship?

“It would mean a lot for me. It’s my main goal. Awards are find, but to see the alums at every game cheering for me and seeing what they did in the past, some of them won four championships in four years, and I haven’t got one and this is my senior year, so I’m really going to try and bring another championship back to Curry.”