The Doherty High football team pushed past its heartbreaking season-opening double-overtime loss to Wachusett Regional by pummeling Holy Name, 56-6, Friday night at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium.
Six different players scored for the 1-1 Highlanders, who led 28-0 at the end of the first quarter and 49-6 at halftime. Herman Acheampong scored on runs of 10 and 46 yards while Evan Brunelle caught touchdown passes of 48 and 50 yards from quarterback Noah Callery. Also getting into the end zone for Doherty were Tajon Vassar, Tony Nuahn, Finbar Courtney and Jose Robles.
“We improved a lot from week one to week two,” Highlanders coach Sean Mulcahy said. “The things that cost us against Wachusett we cleaned up a little bit.”
Mulcahy said the strategy in a lopsided game like the Highlanders had with the Naps is to get the starting unit some work and then get the reserves, who are often younger players, some much-needed experience.
“I’ve been on the other end of games like Friday night so I know how hard it is,” Mulcahy said. “Holy Name is playing a lot of younger kids and playing younger kids just doesn’t translate into success. They’re not strong enough, they’re not fast enough and they’re not experienced enough.”
“I’ve been where Holy Name is so I’m cognizant of making sure we play a lot of kids in games like that,” Mulcahy continued. “Unfortunately that means some of our kids didn’t play as much as they would have if we were playing in a close game. But we’ve got guys that deserve to play that don’t play a lot, so it was good in that game to get everybody a lot of work.”
The double-overtime game with Wachusett was a situation where it’s too bad that there aren’t ties in high school football anymore.
“We’d like to be 2-0, obviously, but I think we’ve showed up and played two really good football games,” Mulcahy said. “Wachusett was one of those games where someone has to win and someone has to lose and unfortunately we wound up on the losing end. If we can continue to play well week in and week out we will get an opportunity to play them, or someone like them, in a playoff game.
“But right now we’re just trying to get better every week,” Mulcahy continued. “I know its coach-speak, but it really is the truth. We have a good nucleus of kids who played a lot last year and played a lot as younger guys who are now are a little older and a year bigger and stronger. I think we’re a little more confident, too.”
The seniors on this year’s Doherty team were eighth-graders when the Highlanders won the Division 4 state title in 2013, and the juniors were seventh-graders.
“A lot of the guys on our team now were on the team that won the state title and some even the year before when we were in the playoffs for the first time,” Mulcahy said. “A lot of the guys playing now are the younger brothers of guys who were on those teams; guys who are playing now, their older brothers were on those teams. Guys like Tajon Vassar, Mike Oppong and David and Phil Adarkwah had older brothers on those teams. My nephew, Connor Bisnette, was the water boy on those teams. So, all those kids were around us a lot.”
Doherty’ starting quarterback, junior Chris Schoen, showed against Wachusett that he can make all the throws.
“Chris is good. We threw him in the fire last year,” Mulcahy said. “He was hurt for three games in the middle of the season and that really hurt us as a team. This year, however, he has made the strides you want him to make. He’s still learning, though, and we’ve got good depth behind him, too. We played a freshman (Callery) the other night just to get his feet wet. He’s going to be a good one, too, so we wanted to get him in the game and get him some experience.”
Mulcahy said he currently has between 75-85 kids in the program.
“We’ve always had good numbers here at Doherty. The kids want to play,” Mulcahy said. “My goal is to always try and have 20 kids in each class. That way, hopefully, in each class you’ll end up with 10-20 really solid football players. And then, occasionally you can put two groups together like we have on this team.”
Mulcahy said both the junior and senior class have about 25 kids on the team and about 16 kids in each class play meaningful minutes this year for the Highlanders.
“We have a lot of good juniors who are not playing a lot because of the guys that are playing in front of them,” Mulcahy said. “They’re guys that would be starters on most of my teams in previous years.”
Burncoat turns back Worcester Tech for first win
The Patriots were another team that managed to overcome a disappointing Week 1 loss and turn it into a Week 2 win, 32-12, over the Eagles.
Senior running back Ben Camacho led the way for Burncoat, rushing for 201 yards on 21 carries and scoring on runs of 1 and 40 yards. Junior quarterback Jack Cooney also had a big day, completing 7-of-11 passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns.
On the receiving end of Cooney’s scoring strikes were Givenchy Smith (a 30-yard TD catch), Matt Amissah (44 yards) and Nick Locantore (9 yards). The Patriots led, 18-0 after the first quarter and 24-6 at halftime.
“Ben moves pretty well,” third-year Burncoat coach Rick Cincotta said of the 5-foot 10, 230-pounder, now in his third year as a starter. “He is a low shoulder-pad runner who would rather run over you than around you. He had a good game in week one [a loss to Nipmuc] too, rushing for 132 yards. Bryant Cordero is our other running back; he blocks for Ben and does a really good job opening up holes and taking on linebackers.”
Cincotta was quick to credit the work of the Patriots’ offensive line as another reason Camacho has gained 333 yards in Burncoat’s first two games. Starting along the Burncoat offensive line are: Jason Tribandis (left tackle); Julio Coffre-Carr (left guard); Mitch Kraemer (center); Jamie Ruiz (right guard); and Armando Perez (right tackle). Rotating in along the line is Heriberto Rodriguez.
“Offensively we couldn’t get anything done without our line,” Cincotta said.
Many of the offensive-line starters play on the defensive line as well, including Ruiz – who had a team-leading 8-1/2 tackles against Worcester Tech – and Tribandis. Also seeing time along the defensive line for the Patriots are Bobby Hilli, Carlos Mareno, Edwin Rivera, and Imanol “Animal” Anaya.
Cincotta, the former Marlborough High standout, has been impressed with the development of signal-caller Cooney.
“Jack has been pretty accurate so far this season,” Cincotta said. “He’s a smart kid who is picking up on what we want his to do. On Saturday he made the reads very well and delivered the ball right where it was supposed to be.”
Burncoat, which won one game last year, will look to double its 2016 win total on the road against 2-0 Blackstone-Millville Regional, which has defeated Bellingham and Millbury on the young season.
Wachusett stays undefeated with strong showing against Tantasqua
Cole Durkan ran for a pair of 28-yard touchdowns and Melke Shabo, Sam Brewer and J’Zhon Henderson all also got into the ender zone as the Mountaineers jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead and cruised past the Warriors, 34-7.
“We’re please with where we are,” Wachusett coach Mike Dubzinski said of his team’s 2-0 start. “We’re pleased with our effort so far but we’re not satisfied. We’re not where we need to be yet. Our goal was to get better from the first scrimmage to the Doherty game and I thought we did that. Then we needed to improve from the Doherty game to the Tantasqua game, and I thought we did that, and now we need to improve from the Tantasqua game to our next opponent, Algonquin.”
Dubzinski said he’s pleased with the progress his players have made from last season to this season.
“All of our kids have played well so far,” Dubzinski said. “Patrick Walsh, our offensive tackle, has done a good job, as has Liam Griffin our tight end. I’m also very pleased with Cole Durkan at running back as well as Sam Brewer. Sam was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time against Doherty to scoop the ball and score in overtime.
“We moved Zac Vandale to center – he was a quarterback in the ninth grade – and now he’s a senior captain playing center,” Dubzinski continued. “Matt Cravedi is a senior guard for us; he missed most of last year with an injury and he worked hard to come back and he has had a good season for us so far. Our quarterback, Melke Shabo, has done a nice job so far as well.”
In Algonquin the Mountaineers are facing a team that not only beat them in the regular season, but in the playoffs as well. The Tomahawks have a new coaching staff, led by head coach Taylor Allen and his brother Mark, the defensive coordinator. Their father was a successful college coach at both Boston University and Holy Cross before passing away in 2004 from complications of ALS.
“Taylor and Mark Allen lead a young, enthusiastic, energetic coaching staff at Algonquin,” Dubzinski said. “They have good skill position players and a lot of energy and excitement in the program. Because of that I think there is an element of the unknown that we have to prepare for.”
Also picking up Week 2 wins were 2-0 St. John’s (62-39 over Springfield Central), 2-0 St. Peter-Marian (35-31 over Uxbridge), 2-0 Shrewsbury (21-14 over Grafton) and 1-1 North High (20-0 over Murdock),
WEEK 2 SCORES
St. John’s 62, Springfield Central 39
St. Peter-Marian 35, Uxbridge 31
North 20, Murdock 0
Burncoat 32, Worcester Tech 12
Shrewsbury 21, Grafton 14
Wachusett 34, Tantasqua 7
Doherty 56, Holy Name 6
Auburn 32, South 14
Oxford 35, Abby Kelley Foster 13