It was another tough year for the Colonials as they missed out on the DCL, and their hope to make the postseason ended. The Acton-Boxborough Colonials lost to the Lincoln-Sudbury Warriors last Friday with a score of 21-3. The victory gave LS the Dual County League Championship and a trip to the Eastern Mass Division 1 Playoffs. The Colonials then beat Newton South 48-14 last Saturday, and put their overall record at 7-3 (1-2 in the DCL).
Problems that Plagued AB:
1. Run Defense
We started to see this problem against Concord-Carlisle when #40 Evan Boynton was just tearing up AB's defense getting solid eight yard runs on each carry. This problem was exacerbated against Waltham when Waltham's Junior Chery and Jacob Dufrenne just were simply too athletic and too quick for the AB defense. It plagued AB against LS as Chris Giogio and Malik Layne had good runs at crucial time (Giogio had two three yard touchdowns).
The push off the defensive line has been pretty good (although I think that more substitutions could be made more often), however, line backer communication has faltered against the good teams. Often the first contact made to opposing running backs has come from the secondary. This can't happen because the secondary is the furthest back defenders.
2. Consistent Passing
Against Waltham and Lincoln-Sudbury, AB's offense really never got into a passing rhythm. The first quarter against Waltham, AB tried running several slant plays, and they simply failed. As the game got on, certainly, there were some nice pass plays but consistently, AB wasn't able to rely on its passing.
I alluded to this problem in the beginning of the season saying that the team needs to start passing more, and making sure that the passing game was as reliable as the running game. Against better teams, running the ball 90% of the time wasn't going to work, and it didn't; in the last two games, the AB's first unit of offense has produced two touchdowns (interestingly enough both came off of pass plays - one to Billy Jackman for an eighty three yard touchdown, and one to Michael Murphy for a fifteen yard touchdown).
On a fourth and two in the fourth quarter (although the game was all but over), there was a terrible miscommunication in the offense. Quarterback Hunter Arnold threw to a side where there were no receivers; I'm not sure if this was because of the pressure in the pocket or miscommunication with the wide receivers, but it was not great execution to say the least.
3. Back Breaking Plays
AB's offense, and defense showed sparks at times during both of their last two games, however, one play has always seemed to bog them down. Against LS, there were three plays that come in mind. The first a fourth down stand, the next one was a third down stop, and finally a 15 yard face mask penalty. In the first cases, the play stopped AB and helped LS take over (off a turnover) and in that final case (the penalty), it allowed LS to move the ball 15 yards forward and the team eventually scored on that drive.
The referees made some terrible calls against AB in this game. There was a play in the fourth quarter when Hunter Arnold threw a pass to Jack Perry that just bounced off his hands; on this play, there were twelve men on the field for AB. On another play in the second, there was clear movement up front by the LS offensive line (the refs didn't call it), LS scored on that drive.
4. Losing Gas
AB actually played very well against LS in the first quarter (there was a lot of good intensity and emotion). Joey Peduto had a sack on an inside keeper by Guild, and the defense stopped a screen pass.
If it wasn't for some bad calls (i.e. a forward pass that was called a fumble) and missed Tuck Rule call, AB competed well against LS early on. However late, the team just looked tired - this could be attributed to the fact that nearly all the players that play on offense also play on defense.
Offensively, the Colonials looked good when they mixed up their plays and showed LS different sets. In the first quarter, there was one drive in which they showed wing, tripps right, flex, and tripps left. That's a really good showing of different plays, and the Colonials were within striking distance if it wasn't for a bad call (a fumble called on a forward pass).
Westford runs a four wide receiver set spread offense; has a no huddle offense. Can’t substitute much; AB has to endure.
Westford runs a lot of quarterback keepers (that come from fake delayed handoffs and direct snap runs). Westford does a mix of slant passes, roll out passes to the right, Mount streaking on the outside, and Mount slanting.
AB needs to make sure that it doesn’t get faked out by the fake handoff, keeper to the outside or inside.
Westford also has a weird set where they put in eight lineman, two backs, and Faretra in the shotgun. This formation almost always is a Faretra sneak and is used in goal line situations.
Another thing to note is that Westford loves to run when they are in the Red Zone. Faretra’s fake handoffs, keepers are used often here.
Sometimes, Westford uses Mount as a running back; when this occurs, its almost always a running play. Westford also utilizes #33 as a full back when they run.
In terms of passing, Mount is the biggest threat, and he should probably be double teamed whenever possible. Zach Adgate will probably get the call to cover him, and this will be a tough task for Adgate (he'll have his hands full). Adgate's done a nice job on taller receivers (i.e. against Wayland's #5 Bonner). Maybe looking at Wayland film might be a good idea (Wayland also ran a spread). In terms of running, Faretra and Rodman will be the two keys for AB.
Essentially though, Westford runs the same set of six plays over and over. They are effective because of good blocking. AB needs to communicate, and really get its tackling down.
AB's final game is against Westford at home. The team needs to win this game for pride and to continue the win streak on Thanksgiving.
The team now has over 10 days to prepare for the Grey Ghosts. The key to this game will be the defense against Westford's spread offense.
Early in the season, Justin Mount was at quarterback, and he was tearing up defenses with his outside quarterback keepers.
Now, the team has Troy Faretra at QB and Mount at wide receiver. Westford still runs delayed hand offs to junior running back Ben Rodman who is a tough runner to bring down. Westford does pass a significant amount so the secondary will be tested.
For many of these AB kids, football is their only sport and thus this is their last football until next year. In two months, they'll be watching the basketball team. So they need to make their mark while they are on the field.
For a whole host of these kids, the senior class, its their last high school football game. It would be awesome if this team left on a high note with a win. Though the team fared badly in the DCL, their overall record of 8-3 is nothing to hold their heads down on, and is something they can be proud of.