Saturday, October 21, 2017

Muse Carries Lawrence Academy Past St. Sebastian's

By John McGuirk (@patsfan1313)

NEEDHAM - Tony Muse made it look as if St. Sebastian's was standing still. The fleet-footed Lawrence Academy running back had a game for the ages on Saturday. The New Haven product was nothing short o a one man wrecking crew, rushing for 209 yards and five touchdowns during the Spartans' 35-7 demolishing of the Arrows.

The scary part for the rest of the ISL is that Muse is only a freshman and will be around for quite some time to come. Muse appears to be following in the footsteps of another LA outstanding running back, A.J. Dillion, who is now starting in the backfield at Boston College.

After the Spartans (5-0) spotted St. Sebastian's an early touchdown, the rest of the afternoon was theirs for the taking, as they scored 35 unanswered points, all courtesy of Muse.

"Credit the offensive line," said Muse. "They really helped me out today. I feel like I have good vision so when I find the open hole I just burst through. I've been able to run through arm tackles so teams have to try and form tackle me."

LA rolled up 416 yards off offense while an unheralded defense stymied the Arrows throughout, holding them to just 79 yards. Playing without the services of starting quarterback Billy Seidl and top notch running back/linebacker Bryce Gallagher among others, St. Sebastian's (1-4) came into this contest extremely short-handed. Seidl is expected to be back with the club soon while Gallagher, a Northwestern commit, is lost for the season after suffering a fractured ankle.

With that being said, Arrows long-time head coach Bob Souza had no choice but to rely heavily on a pair of young quarterbacks to hold down the fort. However, freshman Michael Phelps (7 for 18 for 57 yards, 1 interception) and sophomore Hugh McLaughlin (1 of 5 for 6 yards) wilted under the extreme pressure put forth by the LA defense. St. Sebastian's running game was non-existent, accounting for a combined minus 1 yard.

"That was the best defense we have seen this year," Souza said. "Paul has done a great job with that program. Our two young quarterbacks have played well but I felt they were exposed a bit today against that team. We are basically a young team and we are going to make mistakes. We felt this game would certainly a tall order for us. We have a lot of young kids playing right now which is great for the future but just not right now." 

Things did not start out that way however. On the Arrows' initial drive, a 48 yard punt return by Matt DiSisto set up a Phelps 25 yard touchdown strike to Alex Cherry on fourth down to give them a 7-0 lead.

But St. Sebastian's offense slipped into a coma thereafter. That, in turn, paved the way for the Spartans to breakout of their early game trance and set the tone for the remainder of this tilt. Held scoreless after the first 12 minutes, LA diagramed a well-executed 85 yard drive behind Muse and Joshua Arruda (39 yards), which also included a 56 yard Brady Martin pass completion to tight end Joseph Luchetti, setting the stage for Muse's 5 yard jaunt into the end zone to even things. Martin connected on 5 of 16 passes for 83 yards and a pair of picks.

The score seemed to rejuvenate LA as they became increasingly dominant on both sides of the ball. Following an Arrows punt _ one of seven for the game _ the Spartans were back on the march. That script would not change for the remainder of the afternoon.

"Our defensive coordinator Geoff Harlan is as good as there is as a coach," praised LA head coach Paul Zukauskas. "He spends a lot of time working with the kids. He is always thinking about the game plan and the offense we are going to face. It is really nice to have someone like that on your side that you can trust."

Sticking primarily to its running game, LA reached the St. Sebastian's 10 before Muse broke loose for the score and forge his team ahead 14-7 with 7:57 left before halftime. Later in the second quarter, a Justin Barron interception gave the Spartans prime field position at the Arrows 34. Muse started the drive with an 11 yard run. Two plays later, he capped it off with a 13 yard scamper sending LA into the break on top 21-7.

"(Tony) just keeps getting better and better," said Zukauskas. "He's a really smart player, is coachable and is very tough. As a freshman, those are some qualities that usually come later in your career. He'll make some mistakes but what is great about him is he'll come back for the next play and make that his best play. He plays with a short memory which is great."

Things continued to spiral for St. Sebastian's in the second half. Midway through the third quarter, the Arrows managed to sustain a moderate drive by reaching the Spartans 15. But on fourth down, a Phelps incompletion gave the ball back to LA. Graciously accepting the turnover on downs, the Spartans increased their total moments later thanks to Muse's 38 yard scoring run to open the fourth, putting LA ahead by 21 points.

"I'm thrilled with this team and we have a great senior group leading it," Zukauskas said. "As a coach that is what you want to lead your team."

The Spartans weren't done just yet. With under seven minutes to go, they engineered a 52 yard excursion capped off by Muse's 31 yard rumble.

"Our offense is really explosive," Muse said. "Especially when we get scored upon. Our offense comes out all fired up. It's constant and we never stop. We are fast-pace so when opposing teams start to get tired we just continue to run the ball down their throats."

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