BROCKTON, Mass. -– You want to see an exciting high school football game? Go see No. 4 Brockton. Chances are you’ll get your money’s worth.
The Boxers have lived on the edge in every game but one this season. The hosts escaped an upset bid from Pinkerton Academy (N.H.) Friday night at Marciano Stadium with a 21-14 victory, sealed in the final minute when senior Ralph Cherry intercepted a Chris St. Onge pass inside the Boxer red zone with 20 seconds remaining.
With the victory, Brockton improves to 5-1, while Pinkerton drops to 5-2.
“It was big, real big,” said Cherry, who also had a fumble recovery, of his game-saving pick, which was initially deflected by cornerback Davidson Barthelmy. “Defense came together at the end. We always have our backs to the wall but we came together as a family, got the interception, game over.”
Other than a few key defensive stops and turnovers, the Boxers were able to come away victorious due to the running of senior tailback Trevon Offley, who had 188 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Quarterback Paul Mroz only completed four passes, but one of them was a 48-yard touchdown to Albert Louis-Jean (3 catches, 68 yards) to open the scoring. Mroz also had a 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to help give the Boxers a 13-8 lead at the half.
Here are a few observations on yet another dramatic Brockton contest:
Getting Offley back from a shoulder injury earlier in the season has been huge for the Boxers. Sure, the Brockton offensive line has been improved over the course of the season, but what makes Offley so special is that he can make a big play when the hole isn’t there. As good as the Brockton passing game has looked at times with Mroz finding players like Louis-Jean, Cherry and juniors Jesse Monteiro and Lucas Depina, having Offley dance around defenders opens this offense up that much more. Or, as coach Peter Colombo said, “He’s the bread and butter.” Generously listed at 5-feet, 8-inches tall, Offley isn’t the biggest back around, but if you want to find a more elusive player with his combination short-area quickness and lower-body strength, you’ll be looking a long, long time, because you’re not going to find anyone like that around here.
Speaking of that offensive line, the Boxers were faced with a dilemma two weeks ago when junior left guard Khahleell Alcide went down with an injury that will likely keep him out another few weeks. The solution that offensive line coach David Grein came up with was to put 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle William Carruthers in his spot next to senior left tackle Jacques Janvier (6-1, 300). That move has paid off pretty well so far. When Brockton runs to that side, Carruthers and Janvier – who have the nifty footwork and explosiveness off the snap that belies their bulk – simply collapse the edge to make way for Offley, who knows what to do with holes that large. “I’m pleased with the way our offensive line is starting to come together and give (Offley) the room he needs,” Colombo said.
The Boxers have a ton of playmakers on defense, but the one who is probably making the most right now is senior defensive end/outside linebacker Saquaan Louis (6-1, 215). “Tiny,” as his teammates call him, isn’t at all tiny, neither in stature nor ability. According to the Boxer coaches, Louis made 19 tackles against Fitchburg. He didn’t have that many against Pinkerton, but he did make the most bone-jarring hit of the night when he absolutely leveled an Astro back on a run up the gut in the second quarter. The play resulted in a fumble and recovery by James Flores. Louis is most likely headed to a junior college or prep school next year, but whatever Division I school happens to pick him up after that will be lucky to have him. Louis has the ability to not only play at that level, but be a difference-maker from the outside linebacker spot. If you want a comparison to a recent Boxer linebacker, think Tyronne Pruitt (Boston College).
Although it technically would have been an upset if Pinkerton won, the Astros are an excellent team that could compete with anyone in Eastern Mass. If you want to pinpoint it, Pinkerton runs the Wing-T, but the Astros aren’t a typical Wing-T team in that they run it out of more formations and with greater versatility than is typically run around these parts. Also, while Brockton definitely had a speed advantage, the Astros have their fair share of burners. Freshman Manny Latimore (5-9, 175) looks and runs like a senior, while junior Emmitt Smith (5-9, 150) was shaking the Brockton defenders out of their shoes all night. The two combined for 152 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. But maybe the most impressive-looking player on the Astros’ roster is junior lineman Jesse Trottier (6-3, 265). Pinkerton fell just short against the Boxers, but with just nine seniors on the roster and a bevy of underclassmen starting, the Astros have a lot to look forward to and will only get better from having faced a team of Brockton’s caliber.
Pinkerton 0 8 6 0 - 14
Brockton 7 6 8 0 - 21
B - Albert Louis-Jean 48 pass from Paul Mroz (Lucas Depina kick)
P - Kevin Davies 4 run (Branden Rodgers pass from Sean Conroy)
B - Mroz 2 run (rush failed)
P - Manny Latimore 1 run (rush failed)
B - Trevon Offley 4 run (Austin Roberts rush)