The MIAA regular season is almost over, and we’ve gotten a chance to see a lot of talented football players showcase their skills over the past few months. You probably already know the names and teams to look out for, but we're taking sometime today to look at a number of under-the-radar underclassmen who haven’t gotten a ton of attention so far, but - given their talent level - that won’t last very long.
(Listed in alphabetical order):
Lucas Bavaro, OLB/S, 5-11, 162, St. John’s Prep, Class of 2013
Yes, Lucas is the son of Mark Bavaro, who went from Danvers High to Notre Dame to the NFL as an All-Pro tight end. Lucas isn’t the same type of player, but he has a bright future ahead of him. Bavaro is a fluid athlete who can both be an asset in pass coverage and against the run. His best attribute is his instinctual nature as a play develops. He simply knows where the ball is going to be before it gets there. He delivered one of the biggest hits we’ve seen all season in a game against Mt. St. Joseph’s (Md.), where he laid out a Gaels’ receiver in the right flat. Expect to see a lot more of that in the future.
Christopher Burke, LB, 6-2, 200, Gloucester, Class of 2012
There aren’t a whole lot of Fishermen who start that aren’t seniors, but Burke is a player who has earned his spot among a truly spectacular defense on the North Shore. Burke is like everyone else on the Gloucester defense in that he can run fast and hit hard. Burke has good size and the potential to add weight to his frame. He plays well in space and is an aggressive player on both sides of the ball (he also plays on the offensive line). There are many reasons why it is tough to run the ball on the Fishermen, and Burke is a big reason why.
Kenny Calaj, RB/WR/OLB/DB, 5-11, 180, Everett, Class of 2013
As you can see by the number of positions that are listed next to his name, one of the biggest strengths to Calaj’s game is his versatility. Last year, Calaj started at cornerback as a freshman. This year, Calaj plays closer to the line of scrimmage and no one has been able to get the edge to his side all season. People who have seen Everett this season and watched their defense have noticed Calaj, but we’re curious to see what happens next year when he will be more of a factor on an offense that will have to replace receivers Matt Costello and Manny Asprilla. Whatever happens, Calaj will be fun to watch the next few seasons.
Luke Catarius, FB/LB, 6-0, 210, BC High, Class of 2013
The last time BC High won a Super Bowl, it had a player a lot like Catarius on its roster named Tyler Horan, now a baseball player at Virginia Tech. Another player Catarius reminds us of is former North Attleborough star and current starting fullback for UConn, Anthony Sherman. On offense, Catarius is a punishing lead-blocker and runner between the tackles. Defensively, he’s just always around the ball, and if he’s able to get his hands on the ball-carrier, then he’s going down. On top of that, Catarius plays with the type of enthusiasm and intensity you like to see in a player.
Lincoln Collins, WR, 6-3, 170, BC High, Class of 2013
Collins is a little bit more of a project than most of the other players on this list, but he has gotten better each time we’ve seen him. His ceiling is pretty high. He reminds us a little bit of former Xaverian and current University of New Hampshire wide receiver Kevon Mason at the same stage. The biggest difference between the two is that Mason didn’t start until his senior year and by that time Mason was a lot faster than Collins is now. Collins isn’t a burner, but he has shown good hands and has the size to be a mismatch against most defensive backs at this level. The more he plays and gets bigger and stronger, the more it will be harder to ignore his ability.
Casey DeAndrade, RB/S, 6-0, 175, East Bridgewater, Class of 2012
DeAndrade may play at a smaller school, but he is good enough to play at any of the bigger schools around here. DeAndrade is just a playmaker on either side of the ball. He possesses good speed and knows what to do with the ball in his hands. Defensively, he’s the type of player that can cause receivers to play with alligator arms. DeAndrade has a solid build and looks more filled-out than his listed weight of 175 indicates.
Lucas Depina, WR/S, 6-1, 190, Brockton, Class of 2012
The Boxers seem to have a bevy of tall, speedy athletes on the perimeter this year, and Depina is one of the best of the lot. Depina doesn’t start on defense yet, but when he does get in you can see his vast potential at the safety position. Depina is every bit of 190 pounds and pursues well to the ball in the run game. Overall, his game is a little reminiscent of former Boxer safety/wideouts Nate and Darren Thellen. Brockton’s depth has limited Depina’s playing time a bit this season but shouldn’t overshadow his ability.
Colby Enegran, FB/DE, 6-2, 225, Xaverian, Class of 2012
As a sophomore, Enegran battled injury problems and wasn’t able to get much varsity experience. This year, Enegran has been able to stay healthy and has gotten better with each viewing as a starting strongside defensive end for the Hawks. Enegran has good strength and can be overpowering for offensive tackles at this level. He hasn’t gotten many reps at fullback, but he is a bear on that side of the ball as well.
Ryan Farrell, S, 6-1, 190, Xaverian, Class of 2012
The Xaverian coaches have been high on Farrell for a while, and this fall we’ve been able to see why. Farrell is a thickly-built, aggressive player who could be just as comfortable playing outside linebacker. Like DeAndrade, Farrell is the type of player who can be intimidating for opposing receivers going over the middle. Just a physical, aggressive player, Farrell has his best playing days ahead of him.
Ray Gobbi, G, 6-0, 288, Xaverian, Class of 2013
A native of Brockton, Gobbi is the type of mauling interior lineman that the Hawks used to lack for much of the last decade. While Gobbi at times has had some typical struggles of a sophomore starting on varsity against the Hawks’ difficult schedule, you can see why he’s earned a spot on the front five. Gobbi’s strength at this point is his run-blocking, and one can expect to see him make huge strides each year under one of the best offensive line coaches in the state in Dennis Lozzi.
Kurt Hunziker, MLB/FB/H-back, 6-3, 215, Masconomet, Class of 2012
Hunziker has been a starter at Masco since his freshman season, and he looks like a man among boys sometimes. Hunziker is listed at 215 pounds, but he looks a lot more like 225 or 230. Hunziker moves well for a player his size and is a punishing tackler. He patrols the middle of the field well in the passing game but that’s not his strength. Overall, Hunziker is light on his feet and an intimidating player at this level who also flashes good ball skills when needed.
Giovanni Hyppolite, DT, 6-0, 240, Brockton, Class of 2012
The height and weight listed here is taken off the Brockton program but doesn’t look very accurate. Hyppolite may be 6-feet tall, but he is closer to 270 than 240. The Boxers are extremely deep at defensive tackle, but Hyppolite is one of the more essential pieces of that unit. Hyppolite plays with great leverage and quickness of the snap and has been able to get into opposing backfields all season. With another year of strength and conditioning, this already productive tackle will be even more so next season.
Ryan Kelley, LB, 6-2, 205, Brockton, Class of 2013
Kelley has been injured for most of the season, but he won a spot at inside linebacker early on and when he returns it will be a big boost to the Boxer defense. In a program with a lot of young talent, Kelley may have the most potential out of anyone. Kelley runs well and has the frame to add a lot of good weight. Kelley is one of the more complete linebackers in his class in terms of his overall versatility and it will be interesting to see how effective he is the rest of the season coming off his injury.
Jack McDonald, OT, 6-4, 255, BC High, Class of 2013
We talked to BC High coach Jon Bartlett at the Xaverian passing league this past summer about who some of the candidates are to start on an offensive line that lost four starters, and he raved about the progress McDonald made. McDonald didn’t start at the beginning of the season but he does now, and he simply doesn’t look like a sophomore. He has good length and we can only imagine how big and strong he will be by the time he’s a senior. BC High always produces quality linemen and McDonald looks to be the next in a long line of great ones.
Gordon McLeod, WR, 6-0, 170, BC High, Class of 2012
Another player Bartlett was very optimistic about in that same conversation at the Xaverian passing league was McLeod. As a sophomore, McLeod was integral in his team’s Thanksgiving Day win over Catholic Memorial. McLeod will need to keep adding weight as he still looks a little skinny, but there’s no denying the speed he has. Truly one of the most underrated skill players in the state, McLeod has the speed to be a vertical threat to go along with very good hands.
Jameson McShea, TE/DE, 6-4, 230, BC High, Class of 2012
Like a few players on this list, we’ve put the height and weight that is listed on the roster, but we wouldn’t be surprised if McShea is closer to 245 or 250 based on what we saw at the Everett game. If we had to compare McShea to a recent player from around the area, it would be former Eagle and University of Virginia standout Jack Shields. McShea has good hands and is a load to bring down once he gets a head of steam. But, like Shields, we wouldn’t be surprised if McShea isn’t converted to an interior offensive lineman at the next level.
John Montelus, OT, 6-4, 245, Everett, Class of 2013
When we talked to Everett coach John DiBiaso this past summer, he compared Montelus to Gosder Cherilus at the same stage. Cherilus went from Somerville to Boston College to the Detroit Lions, so it’s pretty high praise. Montelus is the type of tackle prospect that major college programs covet because of his long arms and excellent footwork. Everett offensive line coach Mike Milo is one of the best you will find anywhere, not just in the state, and expect him to draw every bit of potential out of this promising tackle.
Alex Moore, RB/DB, 5-11, 176, St. John’s Prep, Class of 2013
This is another player who looks a lot bigger than his listed height and weight on the St. John’s Prep roster. Moore is part of a young secondary at the Prep, but he could just as easily be an outside linebacker like classmate Lucas Bavaro. His speed and physicality jump out at you in person. He is simply an impressive looking athlete who can bury a ball-carrier when he gets to him. He will get a look at the starting tailback job when Tyler Coppola graduates but his position at the next level is likely on defense.
Kevin Painten, OL/DT, 6-0, 250, Xaverian, Class of 2012
Yet again, we wouldn’t be surprised if Painten were a little heavier than his listed weight. Overall, Painten’s best quality is his footwork. He plays a lot like Brockton’s Hyppolite, using his low center of gravity to get the best of opposing linemen. Painten is a two-year starter at offensive tackle, but his height will keep him on the interior at the next level. Xaverian will have a very good offensive line next year and Painten is a big reason why.
Hunter Taute, FB/ILB, 6-2, 225, Xaverian, Class of 2013
Like Brockton’s Kelley, Taute has been injured most of the season but he is just getting healthy now. The Xaverian coaches are very excited about Taute’s potential on both sides of the ball. A bowling ball of a player, Taute is a lot like Catarius. Right now, Taute is mostly getting reps at fullback but the Xaverian coaching staff wants him to eventually get time at middle linebacker, as well.
Jonathan Thomas, CB, 5-7, 137, St. John’s Prep, Class of 2014
Thomas looks a lot more thickly-built than 137 pounds. Either way, it’s impressive that Thomas has been able to crack the starting lineup and play at the Prep as a freshman. Thomas has had to cover the likes of Albert Louis-Jean, Matt Costello and Richard Rodgers this season and held his own. Obviously, Thomas will need to get bigger, but we can see Thomas being a force by the time he’s a senior.
John Warner, TE, 6-7, 225, Xaverian, Class of 2012
Warner is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. Obviously at this stage Warner’s best attribute is his height, and he used it well this past weekend when he leapt for a jump ball in the end zone for a touchdown against St. John’s of Shrewsbury. If Warner hits the weight room hard this offseason and works on his speed, he will be able to have his pick of schools by this time next year.
Jakarrie Washington, WR/RB/CB, 5-10, 160, Everett, Class of 2013
Everett has speed all over the field, and one of their fastest players is this talented sophomore. Right now, Washington plays wide receiver, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he went the same route as teammate Manny Asprilla and eventually saw time at cornerback. Washington is also someone who will make an effective running back at this level, as he possesses outstanding speed and change-of-direction skills.