Friday, April 3, 2020

Matt Feld: 10 MIAA Athletes Who Have Stood Out Amongst The Rest

BC High's Will Bowen is one of the better pure athletes to come through the MIAA in recent years. A star on the football and lacrosse fields, Bowen is currently in his sophomore year at UNC.
By Matt Feld (@MattyFeld612)

Throughout my tenure as a high school sports writer - first with ESPN Boston, then as a member of SuiteSports and now still with the Boston Herald - I have had the honor of covering some of the top players to come through Massachusetts across all sports.

I've covered Division 1 athletes, McDonald's All-American nominees, Gatorade Player of the Year Award winners, hundreds of state champions, and potential future professional athletes. There's nothing more humbling as a sports writer than turning on ESPN or FOX and seeing a player you covered back in high school facing off against some of the top college programs in the country.

One of the more unique aspects of high school sports, particularly here in Massachusetts, is that the players who rise to the top may not always be the most talented. The stories that grab your heart strings or make you fall in love with the game do not necessarily involve players headed for future stardom, but those who are stars right there in the moment. They may never be the top player to come out of Massachusetts, but they may just be the top player to come out of their school.

High school athletes become unique in their own way. What draws coverage towards them may be talent, an innate ability to fill out the stat sheet, or sheer dominance. There are other reasons, however, why an athlete may see a community rally around them. Whether it be their competitiveness, candor, personality, or leadership, high school sports in Massachusetts allows players to rise to town-fame when they otherwise may be forgotten.

Over the last half decade I have had the chance to cover players who fit both these descriptions. Some players who stood out from the moment they stepped on a field as a freshman, and others who blossomed as seniors. 

Here are 10 MIAA Athletes over the course of the last five years I have had the pleasure of covering who stood out amongst the rest.

Will Bowen, Football & Lacrosse, BC High

Throughout my time as a high school sports writer, there may be no better pure athlete I've had the chance of covering than Bowen. A 2018 graduate from BC High, Bowen became well known early on due to his talents on the lacrosse field. Bowen's six-foot-three, 220-pound frame combined with his innate lacrosse abilities made him an instant dream for college coaches early in his career resulting in him committing to the University of North Carolina as a freshman.

Bowen's prowess on the lacrosse field helped BC High reach a trio of Div. 1 State Titles, including taking home the crown in 2018.

It was on the football field where Bowen showed his true athletic prowess. After years of being mostly a defensive oriented player, Bowen transitioned to quarterback his senior season and did not skip a beat. Using his athleticism, physicality, and speed Bowen helped BC High finish with a 10-1 overall record and a Catholic Conference crown.

Veronica Burton, Basketball, Newton South

If you're looking for one of the more top girls basketball players over the last half decade look no further than Newton South's Veronica Burton.

A two-time Boston Herald Dream Teamer, Burton won four consecutive DCL MVPs. In her junior season, she averaged 20 points per game to go with 10 rebounds and 5.7 assists to lift the Lions to the Div. 1 South Semifinals. After that stellar junior campaign, Burton managed to do one better scoring 22 points per game while hauling in eight rebounds on average as a senior

Her efforts earned her a McDonald's All-American nomination and a scholarship at Northwestern University. 

Ian Seymour, Baseball, St. John's Shrewsbury

Every time Seymour stepped on the field, you knew something special was set to happen. A true two-way player, Seymour had the ability to break the heart of opponents by himself with both his arm and his bat. On the mound, Seymour was as dominant as they came especially during his senior season. Coming from the left side he picked apart opposing hitters with a crisp fastball, a late breaking breaking ball, and a devastating changeup.

He proved to be nearly un-hittable in every role he served, finishing games that he started with ease while also coming out of the bullpen to lock down key saves. During St. John's Shrewsbury's run to the Division 1A Super Eight crown, Seymour allowed just 11 hits over the course of two starts while surrounding, a combined two runs.

At the plate, Seymour was equally as dangerous using a sweet left handed stroke to routinely find the gaps. 

A junior at Virginia Tech, Seymour is one of the more widely regarded southpaws in the country.

Aidan Sullivan, Basketball and Football, Scituate

Sullivan was never one of the more coveted recruits in Massachusetts, but throughout his high school career he displayed why he was one of the more respected athletes in the area.

A two-sport athlete who starred on the football field as Scituate's quarterback and in the winter as its point-guard, Sullivan elevated the Sailors to the top of the pack across both seasons. The quintessential public school athlete who a town rallies behind, Sullivan's prowess from under center catapulted Scituate to its first Super Bowl in school history in 2018. 

His efforts helped earn him SuiteSports' 2018 MIAA High School Football Player of the Year Award. Sullivan just finished up his freshman year playing basketball at Suffolk University. 

Ethan Wright, Basketball, Newton North

Over the years, there have been an abundance of players who have left their MIAA or local high schools to pursue greener pastures on the prep circuit. 

Wright never chose that path. Throughout his career at Newton North that spanned 2015 through 2018, Wright was one of the top players in Massachusetts combining pinpoint shooting, length, and eye-popping athleticism to be at the top of his class. Always carrying a mellow-demeanor, the Tigers six-foot-three shooting guard would wow those in his attendance with his ability to seemingly effortlessly throw down one handed dunks.

He finished his career with nearly 1,850 career points and his play helped the Tigers reach the tournament all four years including a trip to the Div. 1 South Final.   

Wright finished up his sophomore season at Princeton in March. 

Mike Vasil, Baseball, BC High

There is no who has captured the high school baseball landscape over the last half decade like Vasil did during his BC High tenure.

Over the course of four varsity seasons, Vasil left his imprint both at BC High and throughout the region dominating nearly every time he took the mound. Vasil, who was in line to be a potential first round selection in the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft before electing to honor his commitment to the University of Virginia, finished his career with a 22-4 record and a 1.04 ERA.

Vasil impressed with his unrelenting competitiveness on the mound combined with his classy persona in dealing with fans, young kids, and media members off of it.

Matt Hanna, Basketball, Catholic Memorial

Whenever Hanna took the floor, you always knew you were going to get two things - pinpoint shooting, and competitiveness through the roof.

Hanna became one of the classic, 'love em if you have em, hate em if you don't,' type players. He fired his team and fans up with big time shots and plays while making opponents frustrated with his antics that stemmed from his competitive nature. In his junior year as the team's point guard, Hanna helped guide Catholic Memorial to its first Div. 1 State Championship in program history including scoring eight straight points in the fourth quarter of the Knights State-Semifinal win over Cambridge.

Over his three year varsity career, the Knights won three South Sectional Titles, went 69-7 and never lost a home game. 

Scott Creedon, Baseball, Braintree

Creedon became an instant sensation in Massachusetts High School baseball circles during his final two seasons as a member of the Wamps.

Over the course of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Creedon proved to be nothing short of a workhorse taking the ball whenever called upon and delivering each time he stepped on the mound. The classic 'rubber arm,' Creedon threw deep into games regardless of pitch count and appeared to get better as the game progressed.

During Braintree's run to a second consecutive Division 1A 'Super Eight' title in 2016, Creedon went 3-0 tossing a complete game in each start including in Game 2 of the final vs. St. John's Prep. For his senior season, Creedon went 8-1 with 68 strikeouts over 69 innings pitched. 

Over his three years as a varsity starter for Bill O'Connell's program, Creedon went 24-4 with a career  ERA of 1.98.

Brycen Goodine, Basketball, Bishop Stang

I only covered Goodine for one season - one of just two he spent at Bishop Stang - but it was within that year you could tell he was headed for stardom.

A player who captured the eyes and ears of everyone in Massachusetts, Goodine spearheaded the Spartans to their only state title in school history as a sophomore. In that sophomore campaign he averaged 18.5 points a night, reaching 20 points or more in 12 games during the regular season. Over Stang's run to the state championship he averaged 21.1 points per game and drilled 15 three-pointers.

Following his sophomore season, Goodine transferred to St. Andrews where he eventually earned a scholarship to Syracuse University. Goodine entered the transfer portal following the conclusion of his freshman year in March and chose Providence College as his next home.

Matt Sokol, Football, Catholic Memorial

One of the more interesting aspects of high school sports is that not every premiere athlete you come across is on the field for every snap, court for every shot, or diamond for each pitch.

Being a kicker in high school football is hardly a luxurious position. They rarely get any ink, social media attention, or lore from fans despite being one of the more crucial components of a team's fortunes on a weekly basis. Over the course of his two-year starting career, however, Sokol was an integral member of Catholic Memorial's success. 

A Merrimack commit, Sokol finished his career 50-of-51 on PATs with a career long of 42 yards. 


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