After cruising through the first four games of the 2011 football season, the Duxbury Dragons (4-0) will get their most serious challenge of the year when they travel to Westwood on Saturday afternoon to take on the No. 3 ranked Xaverian Hawks (4-0) at 1:30 p.m.
A traditional power in the Division 1 Catholic Conference, Xaverian showed they are ready for the Dragons by shutting out Somerville, 34-0, on Friday night in Westwood.
The Dragons proved they can be just as dominating, as they manhandled an undefeated Whitman-Hanson squad on Saturday afternoon, 37-0.
“I’m glad we have games like this one coming up on our schedule,” said Coach Dave Maimaron. “We’ve never played there before, but I’m sure Charlie [Coach Charlie Stevenson] will have them ready for us.”
The thought of playing Xaverian didn’t seem to be on the mind of Maimaron during Saturday’s win, as he emphasized the importance of beating Whitman-Hanson.
“We focus on one game at a time and this is what we were focused on this week,” said the Duxbury coach. “If we don’t win a league game like this we won’t be playing after Thanksgiving.”
Coming in at 3-0, the Panthers were hoping that a big upset over Duxbury would give them a big boost in reestablishing the program to the levels achieved by former Coach Bob Bancroft.
After both sides went four and out to start the game, the Panthers surrendered field position to Duxbury by giving them the ball at the W-H 45-yard line after a short punt.
Matt O’Keefe then went to work in Brady-like fashion (14 for 18/230 yds./4 TDs), engineering a hurry-up offense that took just six plays to get into the end zone when he hit junior Joe Guilfoile (6 rec./60 yds.) with a 16-yard TD pass. Tucker Hannon’s PAT was good and the Dragons were up 7-0 with six minutes left in the first quarter.
Whitman-Hanson QB Jeff Bechen broke loose for a 35-yard gain on first down following the kickoff, but the drive stalled at the Duxbury 37 when an incomplete pass turned the ball over to the Dragons on fourth down.
It took O’Keefe just two plays to find senior receiver Andrew Buron (3 rec./95 yds.) on a quick screen to the left. Buron got to the outside and raced untouched down the sideline for a 58-yard TD reception aided by an outstanding block from Guilfoile. Hannon hit the extra point and the Dragons were up 14-0 with 3:32 left in the quarter.
Field position continued to kill the Panthers, who punted once again to the Duxbury 44.
Consecutive first-down completions to senior Reilly Naton (one rec./11 yds.) and Guilfoile had the ball at the 29, where O’Keefe dropped back and spotted senior Don Webber on a quick out to the right side. The speedy receiver broke two tackles and lunged for the end zone, stretching out as far as he could to make it 21-0 after Hannon’s PAT was good.
The Duxbury defense continued to shine, as a penalty was the only offense the Panthers could generate. They finally pinned the Dragons deep in their own territory with a punt, forcing Duxbury to start its drive on its own 12.
A penalty on a substitution moved the ball back to the five, but 95 yards to pay dirt doesn’t seem to be an obstacle for O’Keefe. Completions to Guilfoile and Webber, along with O’Keefe’s running, took the ball all the way down to the W-H 24, before Anthony Villaneuva killed the drive with an interception at the five-yard line.
It turned out to be just as good as a score, as senior linebacker Max Randall (6 tackles) came blitzing through on third down and nailed QB Jeff Bechen for a safety and a 23-0 lead.
Three plays after W-H punted to the Duxbury 46, O’Keefe found Buron in the end zone for a leaping reception and a 30-0 halftime lead.
“Matt did a great job in the first half and it has a lot to do with our receivers getting more precise in their route running,” said Maimaron. “Our offensive line had a lot to do with that too. I’m not sure if Whitman-Hanson touched Matt all day.”
After the Panthers went nowhere on four downs to start the second half, Duxbury took over on its own 26 after a W-H punt.
Intent on taking time off the clock, junior Jon Hurvitz (7 carries/43 yards) and sophomore Khai Perry (3 carries/12 yds.) got the brunt of the work in the third quarter, as Maimaron went to a full backfield to show Duxbury’s offensive diversity.
“We haven’t used any of our meat formation so far, but we were able to eat time off the clock and the offensive line did a great job grinding it out.”
The 17-play drive ended with 7:20 left in the game when junior Marshall McCarthy (3 carries/7 yards) took it into the end zone from one yard out for the final score of the afternoon.
Now that the team has taken the first step toward qualifying for the league title and postseason play, will the No. 2 ranked Dragons be ready to nail down another non-league opponent before they continue their Patriot League schedule?
“This is going to be a great game,” said Maimaron. “We had a great performance today and we stayed healthy. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”