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Saturday's HS football roundup

Joe Carrara, Phillips Andover off to the races in season-opening win over Kent

Phillips Academy's KJ Edwards evades the reach of Kent's Henry Peterson on his way to a touchdown in Saturday's 24-19 victory in Andover.

After surrendering the lead with less than two minutes remaining in its NEPSAC Class A football clash against Kent, shouts from the Phillips Andover sideline encouraged players on the kickoff return team to focus on the next play.

Junior captain Joe Carrara adhered to that advice, and delivered.

Carrara hauled in the ensuing kickoff, sprinted to the right hash marks where a wall of blue jerseys shielded him as he charged past the first level with a head of steam. Carrara bumped into his own teammate, but he wasn’t going to be caught, returning the kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown to put Big Blue ahead with 1:21 remaining.

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Carrara’s heroics resulted in a 24-19 victory for Phillips Andover, enabling Big Blue to match half of its two-win total of a year ago.

“With adversity, how are you going to get up? We talked about that pregame in the locker room,” said fourth-year Phillips Andover coach Trey Brown, a 2012 graduate. “After everything that happened, heads up, next play.”

“It was open all game, like we’ve drawn up: wall right,” said Carrera. “I knew I had to put it in and the hard work paid off. Once I got outside, that’s all I saw.”

Big Blue’s defense needed to buckle down to secure the victory, forcing a turnover on downs with nine seconds left after Carrera made a nice open field tackle at Big Blue’s 10-yard line.

With the Lions needing 14 yards to reach paydirt, Big Blue senior Thomas O’Brien blew up a first-down play, muscling his way into the backfield. The 6-foot-6-inch, 305-pound Harvard commit crushed Kent’s runner, forcing a fumble the Lions recovered after a 6-yard loss, but Kent never found its rhythm again.

“I was 100 percent confident that we could get that stop,” said O’Brien. “I wasn’t trying to make a play, I just blew up my guy. The running back was coming across and I hit him.”

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Huriel Calice (left) watches as Phillips Academy teammate Aidan Porter (right) puts a crushing hit on Kent's Henry Peterson.

An extremely physical contest, pads popped on every play as bone-crushing hits were delivered. Huriel Calice, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound senior linebacker,recorded several hits that evoked roars from the crowd, including two that resulted in the separation of an opposing ballcarrier from his head gear.

“For me, when I go in the game, there’s always that first tackle,” said Calice. “Once you get that first tackle over with, it all comes in and sets the tone for everything.”

Featuring a roster loaded with local talent, Phillips Andover (1-0) hoped to channel the positive momentum of its season-opening victory.

“To get this first win is huge, it starts to form our identity as a team,” O’Brien said.

Nashoba Valley Tech 38, Tri-County 12 — Trailing by six points headed into the second quarter, the Vikings roared back with 38 unanswered.

Senior running back Connor Buchmann led the onslaught, rushing for 163 yards and touchdowns of 12, 50, and 5 yards for the Vikings (2-0).

Senior quarterback Murphy Senecal tossed a pair of long touchdown passes, connecting with Kamari Litalian for a 40-yard score in the second quarter and then finding Anthony Pannetta for a 46-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Dover-Sherborn 33, Nipmuc 0 — Chris Kiesling reeled in a pair of touchdown passes from Garrett Webb and Michael Polk rushed for touchdowns of 30 and 45 yards for the Raiders (2-0). Brian Olson opened the scoring in the nonleague contest with a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter.

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North Andover 35, Beverly 14 — Patrick Roy scored the first and last touchdowns of the game for the Scarlet Knights (2-0), breaking off a 76-yard kick off return for a score in the first quarter and rumbling for a 15-yard fourth-quarter touchdown to wrap up the nonleague win.

Northeast 40, Saugus 12 — Senior CJ Moriconi rushed for five touchdowns, 150 yards, and a two-point conversion for the host Knights (1-1) in the nonleague win.

Salem 30, Martha’s Vineyard 6 — The Witches (2-0) ripped off 24 unanswered points to run away with the nonleague win, sparked by Luis Chinn’s 77-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter, and third quarter rushing touchdowns from Devante Ozuna (10 yards) and Jesse Round (5 yards).

Taunton 41, Durfee 0 — Jake Leonard passed for three touchdowns and Malachi Johnson and Jose Touron each scored a pair of touchdowns for the Tigers (2-0) in the nonleague game. Taunton’s Peter Moor also scored a 15-yard touchdown on a blocked punt.

Correspondent Colin Bannen contributed to this report.