Taking a look at the September schedules of some of the teams ranked in the early 2017 ITHMA MIAA Football poll and you quickly realize that there are some “must see” games. Let’s take a look at ten of the best:
(4) Xaverian Brothers @ (1) Everett High School – Saturday September 9th at 2:30 PM. A rematch of last year’s Division 1 Super Bowl is a pretty good way to start off the 2017 season as both teams have a number of Division 1 prospects.
(1) Everett High School @ (2) St. John’s Prep – Saturday September 23rd at 4:00 PM. Two of the top teams in the state will clash at St. John’s newly renovated football stadium.
(9) Bridgewater-Raynham @ (4) Xaverian Brothers – Friday September 15th at 7:00 PM. Two physical teams meet in Westwood in a key Division 1 game.
(2) St. John’s Prep @ (8) Central Catholic High School – Friday September 15th at 7:00 PM. Two of the top quarterbacks in the state go head to head with SJP’s Mike Yarin and Central Catholic’s Bret Edwards.
(4) Xaverian Brothers @ (6) Catholic Memorial High School – Friday September 29th at 7:00 PM. A huge Catholic Conference clash with two of the best defenses in the state going head to head.
(7) Marshfield High School @ (3) BC High – Friday September 15th at 7:00 PM. Marshfield will look to prove early on in the 2017 football season that they can compete with other top teams.
(15) Falmouth High School @ (7) Marshfield High School – Friday September 22nd at 7:00 PM. Falmouth goes on the road with their triple option running attack against a very good Marshfield team.
(10) Brockton High School @ (11) Lexington High School – Friday September 8th at 7:00 PM. Quarterback Sal Frelick and Lexington’s offense will have to score points against a very tough Brockton defense.
(24) Braintree High School @ (21) Mansfield High School – Friday September 15th at 7:00 PM. An early test to see if either Braintree or Mansfield can move up in the rankings.
(23) Attleboro High School @ (14) King Philip High School – Friday September 22nd at 7:00 PM. An early challenge for King Philip as they look to defend their Super Bowl championship.
The Lynn Classical High School baseball team is coming off a very impressive 2017 season in which they had only one regular season loss and earned the top seed in the Division 2 North bracket. One of the top players for the Rams this year was sophomore right-handed pitcher/first baseman David Barnard who finished the regular season on the mound with a 5-1 record and a 2.63 ERA while striking out 38 opposing hitters. Batting out of the cleanup spot in the Lynn Classical lineup Barnard posted a .315 batting average while driving in 17 RBIs. At 6’0″ and 230 pounds Barnard uses his physical size to throw a top fastball while also mixing in changeups and a very effective curveball to keep opposing hitters off balance. Barnard says the toughest game that Lynn Classical played this season was his complete game win over Peabody in which he also drove in the winning run and their top moment as a team was winning the Clancy Tournament championship. Barnard says that Boston College has reached out to his high school coach but for now he will focus on improving his game in summer baseball playing for the Lynn Legion team as well as the Academy Tigers in AAU ball. Also an excellent student with a 3.5 GPA look for David Barnard and Lynn Classical to have two very successful seasons in his junior and senior years and for him to then move on to a top college baseball program.
The Bishops of the Brooks School are coming off an ISL championship year in which they finished with a 7-2 record. This year the Bishops are poised to be one of the best teams in the NEPSAC with an offense that will spread the ball around to multiple weapons. Led by their dynamic pass catching tight end Pat Freiermuth and quarterback Seamus Lambert the Bishops have a number of top football prospects as well as two very good basketball players who are also stand out receivers in Justin Connolly and Preston Santos.
Patrick Freiermuth – TE – 6’6” and 240 pounds (Committed to Penn State)
Jaylen Cromwell – DB – 5’9” and 170 pounds.
Seamus Lambert – QB – 6’0” and 185 pounds.
Justin Connolly – WR/TE – 6’7” –
Connor Breen – DB – 6’1” and 170 pounds.
Preston Santos – WR/ATH – 6’6” and 200 pounds –
Anthony Burnett – OL/DL – 6’2” and 310 pounds.
With the 2017 MIAA baseball season coming to an end (with only the state championship games to be played) here are some thoughts to end the season.
- It was an up and down year for many of the state’s premiere baseball programs which led to a lot of conversations heading into the final decisions by the Super 8 committee. Although the committee took some heat, it seems as though they got it right by getting the best eight teams into the Super 8 field. Taconic is still making a case for itself by playing against Wellesley in the Division 1 state championship today but it is clear that a team’s strength of schedule plays a huge role in which teams ultimately make it to the Super 8.
- When will the MIAA finally reach out to the Boston Red Sox organization to see about the possibility of playing some or all of the Super 8 games at Fenway Park? There are plenty of open dates at Fenway to make this happen and this would be a huge win for both the kids playing and the fans that would have a better chance to attend these games.
- Super 8 final selections clearly show that to be considered for the field a school needs to challenge itself with a tough out of conference schedule while also taking care of business in conference. Teams in the Bay State and Catholic Conferences face brutal in conference schedules that better prepares them for playing in a tournament like the Super 8.
- A possible rule change that might keep games moving along at a better pace would be to eliminate substitute runners. Players should stay in the game and run for themselves or a substitute should have to stay in the game as a replacement player.
- Moving to wood bats would be a positive position for the MIAA to adopt as it would make games move along faster while also allowing for a more traditional style of play. To help pay for the cost differential the MIAA could divert money from tournament play to help offset the cost for teams having to purchase bats. If the games are played at Fenway there will be a lot more money to divide up!
- It is time for a pitch count in the MIAA. Baseball is much better without coaches getting caught up in the moment of a high school game and putting their pitchers’ arms at risk by pitching them too much or too soon after a previous outing. While most coaches respect their players’ arms others take advantage and it is needed to help protect an athlete’s future.
- Congratulations to St. John’s Shrewsbury on a terrific 2017 championship season!
Let’s take a quick look at the eleven baseball players from Massachusetts who were selected in this week’s Major League Baseball Draft. In the third round with the 82nd pick the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Milton Academy’s Matt Tabor. Tabor stands 6’2″ and 160 pound and is a right-handed pitcher from Westford, Massachusetts. In the 4th round with the 111th pick the Oakland A’s selected Vanderbilt University junior Will Toffey who played his high school baseball at the Salisbury School but is from Barnstable, Massachusetts. Tofffey is a 6’2″ and 195 pound third baseman who was also a very good hockey player in high school. In the 9th round with the 257th pick the Cincinnati Reds selected Virginia Tech junior Packy Naughton who is from West Roxbury, Massachusetts and he played his high school baseball at the Boston Latin School. Naughton is a 6’1″ and 190 pound left-handed pitcher who also previously played for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod Baseball League. In the 13th round with the 379th pick the Tampa Bay Rays selected catcher Erik Ostberg from the University of Hartford who is from Florence, Massachusetts and played at Williston High School. In the 14th round with the 418th pick the Pittsburgh Pirates selected centerfielder Chris Sharpe from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell who went to Burlington High School and Bridgton Academy. In the 20th round with the 615th pick the Chicago Cubs selected right-handed pitcher Brendan King from Holy Cross and is from Brookline, Massachusetts but played his high school baseball at the Rivers School and one year at Avon Old Farms. In the 21st round with the 619th pick the Tampa Bay Rays selected right-handed pitcher Paul Campbell from Clemson and is from Malden, Massachusetts but went to high school in Connecticut at the Salisbury School. In the 22nd round the Cincinnati Reds selected first baseman Justin Bellinger from Duke University and is from Weston, Massachusetts but played his high school baseball at St. Sebastian’s. In the 22nd round with the 663rd pick the Seattle Mariners selected shortstop Johnny Adams from Boston College who was a star at Walpole High School all four years that he played there. In the 32nd round with the 955th pick the Los Angeles Angels selected first baseman David MacKinnon from the University of Hartford but is from Easton, Massachusetts and played his high school baseball at Oliver Ames. Finally, in the 34th round with the 1,012th pick the Arizona Diamondbacks selected centerfielder Dan Swain from Sienna College but played baseball for Newton North High School.
Saint John’s Shrewsbury just wrapped up their first Massachusetts Super 8 baseball championship last night becoming the first private school to win the four year old tournament. The Pioneers also became the third non Catholic Conference team to win following Newton North High School winning in 2014 and Braintree High School winning in both 2015 and 2016. While it may be early (less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the 2017 Super 8) here is a very early 2018 Super 8 baseball projection from ITHMA.
- Saint John’s Preparatory High School – The Eagles were the Super 8 runner-up for the third straight year and they will look to get over the hump in 2018. Led by Mike Yarin, Alex Lane and Jake Sanderson the Prep should be considered the early favorite for the 2018 title.
- Boston College High School – Top pitcher Mike Vasil returns for his senior season and he will look to lead BC High to yet another Super 8. Vasil will once again be the best pitcher in the state and the Eagles will also return top players in Bobby DeMeo and Matt Sullivan.
- Belmont High School – Not many teams return two top pitchers like Nate Espelin and Max Meier. The duo will look to lead Belmont back to the Super 8 after two very competitive games this year.
- Central Catholic High School – Few teams return more firepower than the Raiders with ace Steve Hajjar and star catcher Dom Keegan. The loss of Sam Lara will hurt but the Raiders will be in a good position to make back to back appearances in the Super 8.
- Saint John’s Shrewsbury – Repeat hopes will be squarely shouldered on Sean Burke as a power hitting first baseman as well as a top pitcher for the Pioneers. A third straight trip to the Super 8 would give the Pioneers a chance to defend their 2017 title next spring.
- Braintree High School – The Wamps will look to make it five straight trips to the Super 8 baseball tournament. Kyle Gray and Alex Kennedy are two top returning players who will help lead an always competitive Braintree team in 2018.
- Wellesley High School – Henry Weycker has lived up to the hype coming down the stretch for the Raiders in the 2017 postseason. In 2018 the Raiders should be one of the best teams in the state despite losing some impact seniors.
- Lexington High School – The Minutemen finished the season strong even knocking off an Andover team that many people thought had a very good shot at making this year’s Super 8 field. With Sal Frelick and Zach Stevens returning Lexington should be a very competitive team in 2018.
Over the past couple of years the Milton Academy Mustangs have produced several top college football prospects. Class of 2016 grad and running back Domenic Cozier was instrumental in the big Holy Cross win over Harvard last fall and he was second on the team in total rushing yards as a freshman. Class of 2017 grad Allan Rappleyea will continue his career as an offensive lineman at Wake Forest while running back Mike Silva and wide receiver Freddy Okito will go on to play at Harvard and Assumption respectively. The next few years will be more of the same for the Mustangs as class of 2018 QB Alec Beesmer has already committed to play at Lehigh and class of 2020 LB/RB Kalel Mullings has become one of the top high school freshman recruits in the country. There will be a lot of focus on the ISL this coming football season as some of the teams are absolutely loaded with Division 1 prospects and this should make for some very competitive games and some terrific football to watch.
Alec Beesmer – QB – 6’2” and 190 pounds (Committed to Lehigh)
Jailen Branch – DB – 5’10” and 170 pounds.
Jack Czarniak – MLB – 5’11” and 210 pounds.
Jason Bussgang – OL/DT – 6’1” and 275 pounds –
Eddie Duggan – WR/LB/ATH – 6’4” and 215 pounds
Kalel Mullings – LB/RB/ATH – 6’2” and 205 pounds.
Kyle Santiago – RB/DB/ATH – 5’10” and 178 pounds.
Let’s take a quick look at the three baseball players from Massachusetts who were selected so far in this week’s Major League Baseball Draft. In the third round with the 82nd pick the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Milton Academy’s Matt Tabor. Tabor stands 6’2″ and 160 pound and is a right-handed pitcher from Westford, Massachusetts. In the 4th round with the 111th pick the Oakland A’s selected Vanderbilt University junior Will Toffey who played his high school baseball at the Salisbury School but is from Barnstable, Massachusetts. Tofffey is a 6’2″ and 195 pound third baseman who was also a very good hockey player in high school. In the 9th round with the 257th pick the Cincinnati Reds selected Virginia Tech junior Packy Naughton who is from West Roxbury, Massachusetts and he played his high school baseball at the Boston Latin School. Naughton is a 6’1″ and 190 pound left-handed pitcher who also previously played for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Expect more picks from Massachusetts as the draft continues.
Tonight we will see which two teams will meet in the Division 1 state baseball tournament championship as in the eastern bracket Division 1 North winner Lowell High School will play Division 1 South winner Wellesley High School tonight at 7:00 PM. The winner of that game will play the winner of the western bracket which will see Taconic High School play Wachusett Regional High School tonight at 7:00 PM.
The Super 8 final starts tomorrow night at 7:00 PM in Brockton with familiar foes St. John’s Shrewsbury and St. John’s Prep playing for the fourth time this year. St. John’s Shrewsbury holds the 2-1 edge in the previous three match-ups this year including a 4-3 victory in Super 8 play back on June 10th. If St. John’s Shrewsbury wins tomorrow they can close out the tournament as champions but if St. John’s Prep wins tomorrow these two teams will play one more final game which would decide who wins this year’s Super 8 championship. The key thing to watch for in this next game will be St. John’s Shrewsbury ace Ian Seymour (a Virginia Tech commit) going up against St. John’s Prep pitching by committee strategy where Head Coach Dan Letarte will roll out a number of pitchers including MIT bound Casey Bussone, Zach Begin, Jake Sanderson and Max Gieg. The St. John’s Prep strategy uses multiple pitchers for a couple of innings each to utilize their overall pitching depth and to keep opposing batters off balance. St. John’s Prep has been the runner-up in the last two Super 8 finals so this game really could not be any bigger for both of these teams.