Mentally, Grant Kramer was in a zone before the Duxbury High football team took on visiting Abington in the season opener Friday night, the first long-sleeve-weather evening of the season.
Forty minutes before kickoff, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound senior captain was a hulking presence as his teammates stretched and went through their pregame snaps.
The entire time, he was thinking about how he could set an example and push his Green Dragon teammates to play better.
The answer came in the final two minutes of the nonleague matchup, when Abington, trailing 20-13, recovered a fumble that was within field goal range.
From his position on the defensive front, Kramer broke through the line for back-to-back momentum-halting tackles on the drive. Abington did register a first down, but the game clock expired on the next series.
“Every play is a very important play,” Kramer said. “But when it gets down to that situation, you know it means everything to stop him on that play. I told the rest of the D-line the same thing. I said, ‘Boys, it means everything right here; let’s get ourselves out of this situation.’ ”
Duxbury coach Dave Maimaron said Kramer has always played with intensity and an edge, finishing off every block or tackle — traits very similar to his older brother, Aaron, a 6-foot-7, 299-pound tackle who is now a junior at Boston College.
Off the gridiron, Maimaron noted, the Kramer brothers are nice kids. But once they put on the pads, they seemingly turn on a switch and pick up a mean streak.
“[Grant’s] the kind of player you have to game-plan for,” said Maimaron, in his ninth season as head coach.
“It’s going to be very difficult for one person to block him. And on the offensive side of the ball [at left guard], he’s going to get his guy.”
Kramer’s father, Patrick, and an uncle played football at Notre Dame. One cousin suited up for Virginia, and another at Richmond.
There was always a routine at the Kramer household in which family members attended a high school game on Friday, watched a college game on Saturday, and then the Patriots on Sunday.
Because of the family name, expectations were always high. With his tall frame, Kramer also played basketball, but took football seriously when he entered high school.
“When you go up to [play] Pop Warner and coaches know your last name is Kramer, they just assume you’re on the offensive or defensive line,” Kramer said. “It’s a good thing; there’s a lot of pride.”
Kevin DiBona , a senior right guard/linebacker for the Dragons, also knows what it is like to follow a legacy. His older brother, Shane , played alongside the elder Kramer and was the state’s Division 2 Player of the Year in powering Duxbury to a Super Bowl title in 2008.
The younger DiBona sees a parallel between himself, Grant Kramer, and their older siblings. But the name alone does not guarantee success.
“It gives you something to live up to,” DiBona said. “When they were seniors, they went undefeated and they won the Super Bowl. It sets a bar you want to be able to hold.”
Shane Dibona , a scholarship athlete at the University of Iowa, was forced to retire from the game a year ago because of injury.
Maimaron believes watching older siblings play is a major factor in why the younger brothers have stuck with the game. It is not a foreign concept.
DiBona said he is often motivated by Kramer’s play and serious game-day aura. He also benefits from the captain’s pep talks.
“I think he’s done a great job, personally,” DiBona said. “He’s the leader of the O-line and gets you in the mood to go out and kick some butt out there.”
With the win on opening night, the program’s 43d straight in the regular season, the Dragons reached one of their seasonal goals.
The other two: Win the Patriot League’s Keenan title and win the last game of the season.
DiBona and Kramer suffered the first loss of their varsity careers last season in the playoffs against Mansfield.
“It surely motivates us to work harder so we can have that not happen again,” he said. “If we can win a Super Bowl, that would be phenomenal.”
notches an upset
Bridgewater-Raynham coach Dan Buron knew that his offensive line would have to step up if the Trojans were to knock off St. John’s Prep, the top-ranked Division 1 program in the preseason. It was just a matter of execution.
The B-R front wasted no time getting physical, creating holes for the backfield as the Trojans opened up a 20-0 cushion in the first half on the way to a 20-14 upset of the Eagles.
Senior back Brandon Gallagher fueled the ground game with 124 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries.
“The key was really establishing the run,” Buron said. “It allowed us to control the clock, allowed our play-action passes to get going. We tried to run first and set up the pass afterwards, so if we can’t run, it makes things difficult.”
He also said having a 20-point cushion at the half gave his team enough of a margin to maintain the lead even when they started to show fatigue.
Defensively, Buron said the focus was trying to contain University of Maryland-bound back Johnathan Thomas, who finished with 158 yards and one TD on 23 rushes with a strong second half.
“We played pretty good team defense and tried to contain [Thomas],” Buron said. “He had a nice second half, but fortunately we were able to hold on against a very good opponent.”
Rebels running strong
Walpole, which had a five-game win streak near the end of 2012 that was halted by its 21-14 defeat to Bay State Herget rival Natick, is working on another streak. After the Natick loss, the Rebels ended the season with a Thanksgiving Day win over Weymouth and, in this season’s opener, bounced Foxborough, 37-15.Peter Cappiello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @petecapps.