Friday, September 29, 2017

Lawrence Academy Makes Short Work of Noble & Greenough

By John McGuirk (@Patsfan1313)

GROTON - In the grand scheme of things, it may still be a bit too early to pronounce Lawrence Academy as the creme de la creme of the ISL.

But following a pair of convincing victories in their first two games, the Spartans certainly look very-much the part of a team poised to run the table. For the second consecutive week, LA bruised and battered its opponent into submission. It started with a beat down over Buckingham, Browne & Nichols in Week One. This time around, the unfortunate victim was Noble & Greenough, who could do nothing offensively after falling into a cavernous hole early and never finding its way out.

The Spartans (2-0) took command from the outset and refused to allow the Bulldogs up for air in the form of a 35-0 victory on Friday.

"I was really proud of our execution today," LA head coach Paul Zukauskas said. "This is a very coachable team. They listen and they practice really hard. Nobles is a good team that was coming off a big win last week, but I really liked our effort today. The kids have definitely bought in and you could see that during the preseason. Just by the way they work. They buy into the purpose just by the way they practice which says a lot."

With arch-rival Govenor's Academy on tap for next weekend, the Spartans refused to look ahead until the clock read 0:00. Nobles (1-1) consumed all of LA's focus. A one-sided triumph over Rivers School last week will do that. But by laying the ground work in the opening half after jumping out to a 28-0 lead, the Spartans realized they had this contest in their back pocket. The final 24 minutes proved to be nothing more then an attention to detail as LA was able to carry over what they had accomplished throughout the opening half.

The Spartans racked up 327 yards of offense, with 271 of it coming in the initial half. But it was the vaunted defense which shined brightest on this warm, fall afternoon. The Bulldogs' offensive woes would hinder them from start to finish, as they strenuously tried to move the ball downfield with limited results. Nobles finished the game with 127 yards.

Bulldogs junior quarterback John Grady was off-target for most of this outing, completing only six passes for 64 yards on 22 attempts and three interceptions. Grady, a Newton native, was continuously pressed out of the pocket and failed in his attempts to lock on to any of his receivers, who rarely got open. Nobles' running game was equally non-existent, combining for a meer 63 yards.

"It always starts on defense with us," Zukauskas said. "At the start of the year we always put a high emphasis on the defense. Everything here is a priority but not giving up yardage on defense is certainly a key."

With a consistent push coming from LA's defensive front and linebackers, just as frustrating for the Bulldogs was the Spartans reactionary secondary that was able to throw a blanket over the receivers. That, in turn, left Nobles frustrated and without answers in how to maneuver the ball forward with any kind of consistency.

LA wasted no time identifying themselves as the aggressor in this one. The Spartans scored on their first four possessions to turn this affair into a rout. Taking the ball to open the game, LA marched 65 yards before sophomore running back Josh Arruda rumbled in from 4 yards out to begin, what would be, a very long afternoon for the Bulldogs.

A few moments later, a Jason Medeiros punt caromed sideways resulting in zero yards and putting the Spartans in prime field position on the Nobles' 25. After a Brady Martin to Thomas Greaney 11 yard hook up, the Leominster signal-caller connected with Spencer Aronson on a slant pattern in the end zone for a 14-0 advantage.

With less than a minute remaining in the first quarter, LA was back on the attack again. Facing a third-and-six from their own 38, freshman back Juan Muse took the hand-off and sliced his way through the Bulldogs defense for a 62 yard scoring jaunt to increase LA's lead to 21 points. Muse gained 103 yards on 9 carries.

"That is probably one of the best teams we are going to face this year," said Bulldogs head coach Rob Murray. "They are big, skillful, fast and well-coached. When they get out early like that it becomes very difficult to come back. But we still did some things well to build upon for next week against Groton School. I told our kids this game is not a season breaker. It certainly wasn't for a lack of focus or a lack of effort by them today. We just couldn't compete in some positional areas in which they were better at."

Following Muse's score, Nobles was finally able to sustain a positive drive after reaching the LA 21. Facing fourth down, Murphy immediately summoned Medeiros out to attempt a 31 yard field goal. However, Boston College-bound defensive end Joseph Luchetti cut his way through to block it. Getting the ball back with 5:51 remaining before the half, the Spartans had no intentions of running the clock down. On the third play from scrimmage, Martin (7 of 12 for 156 yards) found Greaney across the middle. The Bedford senior proceeded to avoid a couple of would-be Nobles defenders en route to a 77 yard catch and run and put his team on top by 28 points.

Things would stay that way until late in the third quarter. With the ball in Nobles' hands, Grady was picked off by Peter Bryant, who returned it 21 yards to the Bulldogs' 20 yard line. That would eventually lead to a 2 yard Arruda dive over the pack and pushing the deficit out to 35 points. After that, Zukauskas primarily ran out his second unit offense to finish this contest. However, the starting defense wasn't about to come off the field as they were determined to record the shutout which they did successfully.

"Everything starts with our preparation," said Arruda, also a standout linebacker. "We weren't too familiar with Nobles because we don't play them too often. But we were able to maintain a really high intensity during our practices all week long. We just worked our butts off this week and felt we were well-prepared for this game. It is always a team effort here and when everyone is putting out 100 percent it is hard to stop us."

No comments :