Sometimes you just have to go back to the basics, and that’s exactly what ninth-ranked Weymouth did at the beginning of this season.
For coach Kevin Mackin, it was about how his team would adapt after graduating All-Scholastic wide receiver Khary Bailey-Smith (UMass-Amherst), who caught 14 touchdown passes last season, and quarterback Cam McLevedge (Saint Anselm), who threw for a school-record 2,700 yards and 41 TD passes in 2011.
“It’s part of high school sports, our athletes are going to graduate each year,” said Mackin, whose team is 5-0. “It’s the fun part of coaching. Through camp and the first five weeks they’ve adapted just fine.”
The Wildcats’ motto is football 101 — get better at every snap, every practice. As cliché as it may sound, Mackin puts a lot of emphasis on this because many of his starters are athletes who didn’t have much varsity experience. in their previous years. Yet, everyone has bought into the system and Weymouth enjoyed a superb first half of the season in which its offense scored 188 points.
David Harrison, Tyler O’Brien, and Ozzy Colarusso have combined for 21 touchdowns this year.
Mackin plans to switch things up Friday against No. 8 Natick to try to keep its defense off-balance. One of the Wildcats’ tactics is using Harrison at quarterback, which gives them more flexibility running the option. Harrison was under center in a huge game against Needham two weeks ago and threw four touchdown passes, including a 21-yard game-winner to O’Brien with 20 seconds left on the clock.
Needham, which beat Weymouth last year, won a tie-breaker at the end of the season to keep the Wildcats from going to the playoffs. Although Mackin doesn’t want to use last season’s outcome, he did say a little redemption might be motivation.
In last year’s Bay State showdown between the Redhawks and Wildcats, Troy Flutie connected with Brian Dunlap in the fourth quarter to beat Weymouth, 28-21. Flutie and Dunlap scored all four touchdowns for Natick that night.
Since then, the connection has only gotten better.
“You could tell they had chemistry from playing together in youth football,” said Natick coach Mark Mortarelli. “Troy feels very comfortable with [Brian], they’re both competitive and hard working.”
Flutie, who leads Division 2A with 13 touchdown passes, has enjoyed the progress of his sophomore wide receiver, who has a division-high eight touchdown receptions.
Stopping the Flutie-Dunlap pair will be crucial for Weymouth, but Redhawks’ running back Nick Lee is also a key figure in their offensive attack. The 5-foot-10-inch, 190-pound back is an extremely tough runner — especially between the tackles — and a great blocker, too.
Natick’s last three games have been on the road, but it has outscored opponents, 104-14.
This Friday isn’t just any road game, though.
The last time Weymouth lost a regular-season game at home was in the first week of the 2009 season when Wellesley won, 26-14. Since then it’s been 18 consecutive wins.
“We have to be ready to play no matter what. The really good teams could do both,” said Mortarelli about playing on the road. “Trying to figure out if we’re a really good team. We’ll find out Friday.”
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Top-ranked Barnstable (5-0) will look to keep its undefeated record intact, traveling to Darmouth (1-4) . . . Two of Massachusetts’s top prospects, Xaverian’s Maurice Hurst Jr. (Michigan bound) and Everett’s John Montelus (Notre Dame), will face each other when their teams meet in Westwood Saturday afternoon . . . Duxbury (5-0) hopes to extend its winning streak to 32 games as it takes on host Pembroke (2-2) Saturday. Sharon (5-0) faces host King Philip (5-0) Friday night.