Welcome to the first installment of "Top of the Class," our weekly wrap-up appearing each Monday and highlighting the top performers from the previous weekend. There were several monster season debuts for some of the area's premier talent. Below is this week's "Head of the Class," our version of the overall player of the week, followed by the runners-up, or his "classmates."
HEAD OF THE CLASS: D.J. CROOK, BARNSTABLE
After a sluggish start against an upstart Durfee squad, the junior quarterback teed off on the Hilltoppers' secondary for a record-setting night. Crook completed 80 percent of his passes (25-of-31) for 422 yards in the 38-15 win, breaking his own school record, set in the Red Raiders' Thanksgiving win over Falmouth last November. His six touchdown passes also tied the school record he set in that Thanksgiving win.
The best part? After sitting down with two ESPNBoston reporters at practice this afternoon for an interview, he politely asked if they could mention his offensive line (Durfee did not register a sack all night).
Manny Asprilla, Sr., Everett
The Boston College-bound Asprilla opened the 2010 season with a clinic in the yards-after-catch department, helping the Crimson Tide cruise to a 42-23 win over Leominster at Doyle Field. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound wideout hauled in four passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 72-yard scamper off an underneath route in the first quarter; he also had a pick and carried the ball six times for 50 yards.
Shamir Guillaume, Sr., Saugus
Last Friday was the Sachems' first night game in 70 years, and the 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior kicked things off in startling fashion. He ran for 225 yards and four scores on just eight carries -- yes, eight -- in a convincing 41-20 win over Bishop Fenwick.
Nate Michael, Jr., Apponequet
The Lakers have a ton of faith putting the ball in the hands of the 5-foot-10 Michael, and in their season opener at Middleborough he rewarded them. Michael went for 224 yards on 41 carries and two touchdowns to give Apponequet enough cushion to hold off a late Middleborough rally, holding on for a 40-32 win.
Sean Amaru, Sr., Westwood
The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Amaru was another player from the lower divisions to bulldoze his way to a career night. He carried 21 times for 221 yards and two scores as the Wolverines toppled Medfield 26-19. With all the talk of Holliston, Medway and Norton as the contenders this year in the Tri-Valley League, the Wolverines should firmly etch themselves in that conversation if Amaru keeps this up.
Nate Robitaille, Sr., Attleborough
We figured the Bombardiers would be just as competitive after graduating all-state linebacker Matt Campbell. But how's this for a season opener? In the program's 48th meeting with intracity rival Bishop Feehan, the Bombardiers were firing on all cylinders, with the 6-foot-2, 165-pound Robitaille leading the charges. He scored five times in their 49-14 win, in three different ways -- passing (218 yards, three TD), rushing (TD) and returning (80-yard kickoff return).
Matt Walsh, Sr., Plymouth North
The running back, and nephew of first-year head coach Dwayne Follette, made a resounding statement for the Eagles' program with some late heroics over highly-touted Methuen. His 77-yard touchdown scamper with less than four minutes to go gave North a 13-7 lead over the preseason No. 11 Rangers that would hold up after a rally fell short. The Atlantic Coast League title race might be more interesting than we thought.
Nick LaSpada, Jr., Billerica
The highly-touted quarterback picked up right where he left off before a devastating knee injury in the playoffs derailed the end of his 2009 season. LaSpada was 14-of-24 for 280 yards and three touchdowns through the air and added another 85 yards and two scores on the ground on 13 carries.
Chris Calvanese, Jr., Xaverian
Not a bad debut for a quarterback. Calvanese was perfect through the air (9-for-9, TD) and carried the ball six times for 127 yards and two scores to lead the Hawks in a 28-0 win over Catholic Conference foe Malden Catholic. As correspondent Adam Kurkjian noted last weekend, "When he turns the corner, forget about it. Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson loves to run the option, and teams will be forced to respect Calvanese on it just as much as they will have to respect the pitch to Colton. At this early stage, it looks like Calvanese has picked up right where last year’s starter, Alex Phelan, left off."