Meet the Globe’s all-time All-Scholastic football team
When the Globe selected its first All-Scholastic football team in 1903, the first forward pass hadn’t even been attempted, and if a player weighed 200 pounds, he was considered massive.
The game has changed, and so have the players.
Over the last 120 years, several thousand high school football players have been selected as Globe All-Scholastics.
Many of these players went on to achieve more at higher levels of football, which got us thinking: Which Globe All-Scholastics would be the top players at each position based only on what they did after high school?
For three months, I researched and assembled a 23-player squad (11 on offense, 11 on defense, plus a kicker) based on the college and professional careers of Globe All-Scholastic players.
But I wasn’t alone in this pursuit. Tom Lopez, who coached at Lincoln-Sudbury for 48 years, and former Everett/current Catholic Memorial coach John DiBiaso shared their vast knowledge of Eastern Massachusetts high school football history. Barry Gallup, who starred at Swampscott High and Boston College, and later coached at BC and Northeastern, also gave suggestions. Current Globe high school sports editor Craig Larson and former high school sports editor Bob Holmes also had a hand.
“I think of high school football as being the most enjoyable football I ever played in my life,” said one of our all-time All-Scholastic wide receivers, Darren Flutie. “Being recognized on the all-time Boston Globe All-Scholastic team, that’s quite an honor.
“120 years of people playing high school football in Massachusetts, that’s a lot of different players, a lot of teams, a lot of great players. It’s a very nice honor, and kind of grounds me a little bit to think about it.”
This project is meant to be a celebration of Eastern Massachusetts football history, so we encourage you to debate our selections, reminisce about your own high school football days, and to take a trip with us through the evolution of America’s game.
Utilizing the classic I-Formation, this offense would be viable in any era and plays to the strength of our lineup: the offensive line, which is a balanced combination of size, technique, and craftiness. With help from Sherman, one of a dying breed of elite blocking fullbacks, and a tight end in MacAfee who was such a skilled blocker that Bill Walsh thought he’d make an All-Pro NFL guard, Bellino should have no shortage of holes to zip between on any given run play. But that’s not to say our passing game doesn’t have a bit of everything. At wideout, Graham is a deep threat who had elite speed for his day, and Darren Flutie is the kind of volume receiver the quarterback can always go to when all else fails. MacAfee’s big body and huge catch radius make him a nightmare in the end zone. Out of the backfield, Sherman always contributed a few surprise catches, and just imagine Bellino catching the ball in space, one on one with a linebacker. Not to mention Doug Flutie’s athleticism from quarterback; his ability to improvise while extending plays would make the offense unpredictable.
All-Scholastics who just missed the cut: Matt Hasselbeck (QB), Harry Agganis (QB), Jordan Todman (RB), Mike Esposito (RB), Greg McMurtry (WR), Pat Friermuth (TE)
Doug Flutie rejoices in his brother Darren's arms after BC stunned Miami in November 1984. (AP)
Résumé: Four-year starter at Boston College ... Won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and Davey O’Brien Award ... Unanimous First-Team All-American (’84) and Cotton Bowl champion (’85) ... Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame ... Had a 21-year pro career (1 USFL, 8 CFL, 12 NFL) ... Holds CFL record for passing yards in a season (6,619 in 1991) and touchdown passes in a season (48 in 1994) ... Three-time Grey Cup champion and MVP ... Six-time CFL Most Outstanding Player and CFL All-Star ... 1998 NFL Comeback Player of the Year and Pro Bowler.
Flutie had a truly great four-year career at BC, bringing Heisman and Cotton Bowl prestige to the Heights. He was tagged with the “too small to play quarterback” stereotype early in his pro career, then became arguably the greatest player in the history of Canadian football. He later returned to the NFL, making the Pro Bowl at age 36. Flutie put up some respectable performances as a starter before retiring at age 43. Considering his creativity, longevity, and ability, Flutie had one of those “what if” careers — what if he had spent the best years of his career in the NFL instead of the CFL?
Anthony Sherman won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. (AP)
Résumé: Appeared in 43 games over four seasons at UConn ... Drafted in fifth round by Cardinals in 2011 .. 10-year NFL career, won Super Bowl with Chiefs in 2019 ... Second-team All-Pro in 2014 ... 2018 Pro Bowler.
Fullbacks do the dirty work necessary to make the man behind them look good. That’s what Sherman made a career out of. The University of Connecticut isn’t known for great running backs, but guess who was the lead blocker for the two guys who put up the best single-season rushing numbers in UConn history? Once Sherman made it to the NFL, he carved out a decade-long career by doing the simple things effectively — like opening holes for Jamaal Charles. That served him well enough, to the tune of a Super Bowl ring, an All-Pro nod, and a Pro Bowl appearance.
Joe Bellino was a star at Navy. (Handout)
Résumé: Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Award winner in 1960 ... AP, UPI, and CBS Running Back of the Year in 1960 ... Orange Bowl winner (1961) ... National Football Foundation Hall of Fame (1977) ... Three-year AFL/NFL career.
Bellino won the highest award in college football, and he did it at the Naval Academy. Only one other person has done that: Roger Staubach, and he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bellino’s professional career wasn’t as storied, in part because he was out of the game for four years serving in the Navy after graduation. Another “what if?” career. He was electrifying in open space with a knack for reaching the end zone. It’s easy to believe that Bellino would have terrified tacklers at any level, in any era, because of his quickness, agility, and hands. Watch some old film of Bellino at Navy; he was Darren Sproles before Darren Sproles.
Like his brother, Darren Flutie spent most of his career in the CFL. (AP file)
Résumé: At BC, won Cotton Bowl in 1985 and was named 1987 ECAC All-Star ... Inducted into BC Hall of Fame in 2007 … 14-year pro career (2 years NFL, 12 years CFL) ... Two-time Grey Cup champion ... Three-time CFL All-Star ... Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2007).
Darren followed in Doug’s footsteps throughout his career and was in his brother’s shadow. But Darren was an excellent football player in his own right. Where Darren Flutie went, broken records followed; his sure-handedness and body control ensured that. Although the younger Flutie never lit up the NFL, he was transcendent in Canada, where he played a long time, at a high level, and he was a winner on top of it all. If you needed a play when the pressure was at its highest, Darren Flutie was your man.
Art Graham (center) poses with fellow Patriots receivers Jim Whalen (left) and Barry Gallup. (Globe file)
Résumé: Two-time All-East (1961, 1962), All-American (1962), and All-New England (1962) at BC ... Named to Shrine East-West Game in 1962 and inducted into BC Hall of Fame in 1970 … Six-year AFL career, including a championship-game appearance with the Boston Patriots in 1963 ... Named to Boston Patriots All-1960s Decade Team in 2009.
Graham was a big-play threat known for his vertical speed in an era when the passing game took a back seat to the run. His talent shone through despite this, evidenced by the records he set at BC (most receptions in a season/career) and with the Patriots (most receptions in a season/game). Though those records did not stand the test of time and his stats aren’t eye-opening by today’s standards, they are evidence of his pioneering status for the next generation of wide receivers.
Ken MacAfee shows off his athleticism against BC High in 1973. (Globe file)
Résumé: At Notre Dame, won 1974 Orange Bowl and 1976 Gator Bowl ... 1977 national champion ... All-American 1975-77 ... 1977 Walter Camp Award winner ... Inducted into Notre Dame Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame in 1997 ... Two-year NFL career.
You know you’re something special when you’re being considered for the Heisman Trophy as a tight end in the 1970s. MacAfee’s soft hands made him a weapon in Notre Dame’s passing game, but he was more than just a pass catcher. At 6 feet 4 inches and 250 pounds, MacAfee was an asset in the run game as a tenacious blocker. A college football standout who never quite found the right situation in the pros, MacAfee walked away from the game after just two NFL seasons.
Tom Nalen (No. 66) plays against the Patriots in 1998.
Résumé: Never missed a game at BC ... Second-team All-Big East and third-team AP All-American in 1993 ... Inducted into BC Hall of Fame in 2009 … 15-year NFL career ... Two-time Super Bowl champion with Broncos ... Two-time first-team All-Pro ... Five-time Pro Bowler ... Named to Broncos 50th Anniversary team and Broncos Ring of Fame.
Two words describe Nalen’s college and pro careers: durable and dependable. Playing center, he was at the heart of both the BC and Denver offenses. After never missing a game in college, Nalen played for a decade and a half in the NFL. His Super Bowl rings and All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections speak for themselves, as do the numerous tailbacks who thrived running through holes he created.
Marc Colombo is one of many Boston College Eagles on our team. (AP file)
Résumé: All-Big East 2001 ... Inducted into BC Hall of Fame in 2018 ... 10-year NFL career.
Solid in both run- and pass-blocking scenarios, Colombo was difficult to get around or plow through because of his 6-8, 315-pound frame. A technician with the pedigree of a BC lineman, Colombo also was just plain tough, as evidenced by the way he would come back stronger from injuries.
Gosder Cherilus was part of some of the most celebrated BC teams, playing alongside Matt Ryan. (Getty file)
Résumé: 2004 Big East co-champion ... All-ACC 2007 ... Invited to 2008 Senior Bowl … Drafted No. 17 by Lions in 2008 ... Nine-year NFL career ... Inducted into BC Hall of Fame in 2023.
A mountain of a man at 6-7, 315, Cherilus complemented his size with elite athleticism, a perfectionist work ethic, and polished technique that made him a fierce pass protector for a string of pass-heavy offenses led by quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, and Jameis Winston in his pro career with the Lions, Colts, and Buccaneers. Cherilus also was often a vocal leader wherever he went.
Pete Kendall played for Washington during his NFL career. (Getty file)
Résumé: 1992 Freshman All-American ... 1994 All-New England ... Two-time All-Big East … Invited to 1996 Senior Bowl ... BC Hall of Fame 2010 … Drafted No. 21 by Seahawks in 1996 ... 13-year NFL career.
Tough, smart, and above all nasty, Kendall is the type of guy you want gutting it out in the trenches. He brought great technique, balance, and coachability to the offensive line. Kendall also was durable (he never played fewer than 12 games in an NFL season) and disciplined (he committed fewer than five penalties in a season nine times in his pro career).
Art Spinney (in suit) coached the BC offensive line after his playing career was over. (Globe file)
Résumé: Four-year starter at BC ... Two-time All-New England ... BC Hall of Fame 1972 … Nine-year NFL career ... Two-time NFL champion with Colts ... Three-time All-Pro ... Two-time Pro Bowler.
Spinney was part of the generation of players that helped popularize professional football. He was instrumental in the early success of Johnny Unitas, winning two championships with Baltimore to help Unitas’s stock rise rapidly. Spinney also deserves credit for excelling at two positions — as a pass-catching end for BC and a hard-nosed guard for the Colts. Not many players could pull off a position change at 27 and go on to be an All-Pro four years later at 31.
Résumé: Two-time national champion with Harvard (1912 and 1913) ... Two-time All-American ... Harvard Hall of Fame 1967 ... Two-year pro career.
Brickley, who played for a precursor to the modern-day New York Giants as a pro, achieved a feat that modern readers may think impossible: He made kicking cool. Little boys across America aimed to emulate his drop-kick technique. He set kicking and scoring records that stood for generations, all while toe-poking his field goals through the uprights, often on patchy fields that were a mess of mud and grass.
Lining up in a 3-4 defense, this group is to be feared for its aggressiveness up front and playmaking ability on the back end. No passer or runner is safe in the backfield against our front three. When Hurst is on his game, he’s great at pursuing runners; Smerlas brings grit and an ability to blow up run plays from the middle; and Nash knows how to get to the quarterback from the interior. Even if an offensive player makes it to the second level, they’re running straight into a buzzsaw of a linebacking corps led inside by the hard-hitting Tatupu, who lines up next to the mobile Cronan. Those two are flanked at outside backer by tactician and pass coverage specialist Hughes, plus sackmaster Croel, whose speed off the edge is terrifying for offensive tackles and quarterbacks. Our cornerback pairing has a good blend of length and athleticism with Louis-Jean on one side, and ball skills and footwork on the other with Sainristil. And the last line of defense, our safeties, have to be accounted for. Jauron and Thurman are ball hawks who made passing deep a gamble and whose interception-return abilities made them the type of players who could break games wide open with one play.
All-Scholastic who just missed the cut: Tim Bulman (DL)
Dick Jauron later coached the Bills. (AP file)
Résumé: First-Team All-Ivy League 1970-72 at Yale ... 1972 Ivy League Player of the Year ... 1972 First-Team All-American ... Inducted into College Football Hall of Fame in 2015 and Yale football Hall of Fame in 2017 ... Eight-year NFL career ... 1974 Pro Bowler.
In another era, Jauron might have played running back at a Power Five school and been in serious discussions for the Heisman Trophy, especially in the run-heavy ’70s. Arguably Yale’s greatest football player, Jauron transitioned from running back to safety in the NFL for the Lions and Bengals. Not only did he prove to be a ball hawk, intercepting at least one pass in every season he played, Jauron also put his running back experience to good use as a Pro Bowl return man.
Résumé: Two-time All-New England and All-East at BC (1983 and 1984) … 1984 All-American ... 1985 Cotton Bowl champion ... Inducted into BC Hall of Fame in 1992.
Less remembered than Doug Flutie on BC’s Cotton Bowl winners, Thurman was the man on defense, intercepting 12 passes that year. A former quarterback himself, Thurman used that insight into the aerial game to undercut unsuspecting passers, and had a knack for making picks late in games when it mattered the most. Even today, he ranks second all-time for career interceptions in the NCAA with 26.
Mike Sainristil's Wolverines are undefeated in 2023. (AP)
Résumé: Appeared in College Football Playoff in 2021 and 2022 with Michigan ... 2021 and 2022 Big Ten champion ... 2022 All-Big Ten.
Cornerback is not Eastern Massachusetts’s strongest position, but Sainristil has real potential to change that. Blessed with quick feet and strong hands, Sainristil also makes good use of his experience as a former wide receiver to recognize routes early. All these tools combine to allow him to make consistent plays on the ball, and he could be a big-time playmaker at the next level.
Al Louis-Jean, playing for the Bears, tries to stop the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski during a 2014 game. (AP file)
Résumé: Eight-year pro career (3 NFL, 1 CFL; 4 years indoor).
After three seasons at BC, Louis-Jean played one season in the NFL with the Bears and spent time on some practice squads. His size (6-2, 195) and quickness made him a viable matchup for a receiver of any profile, and he also possessed an important ability that every secondary loves to have: He was a great tackler.
Mike Croel makes a play during his stellar rookie season in the NFL. (Allsport file)
Résumé: 1988 Big 8 champion with Nebraska ... Two-time All-Big 8 ... 1990 All-American ... Invited to 1990 Senior Bowl ... Inducted into Nebraska Hall of Fame in 2003 ... Picked fourth overall in the 1991 NFL Draft by the Broncos, then was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year ... Seven-year NFL career.
Remarkably fast (he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at 6-3, 240) and agile for a linebacker of his era, Croel was a special talent who serves as a blueprint for the modern pass rusher, utilizing speed and power to get to the quarterback. Croel, who played with the Broncos, Giants, Ravens, and Seahawks, also was a gifted punt blocker and a decent pass defender in open space. His star was brightest in his early 20s when blocking him was a tall order for college and NFL linemen alike. He was also gifted at blocking punts.
Pat Hughes, former Globe All-Scholastic football player from Everett High School, as well as an NFL player with both the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints is pictured at his home holding his old Everett helmet.(Jim Davis for The Boston Globe).
Résumé: All-East (1969) and All-New England (1968-69) for Boston University … BU Hall of Fame (1978) … 10-year NFL career.
Immortalized at BU as the leader of the 1969 team that made the only bowl game in the program’s 113-year history, Hughes took responsibility for calling plays in the defensive huddle and captaining his teams at all levels of his career. Hughes was strong in pass coverage (15 interceptions) and had a nose for forcing fumbles during his NFL career with the Giants and Saints.
Résumé: 1976 All-American and All-New England for BC ... Invited to North-South Shrine Game in 1976 ... Inducted into BC Hall of Fame in 1986 ... Nine-year NFL career after being drafted No. 51 by the Seahawks in 1977 ... Super Bowl champion with Washington in 1983.
Anyone who can earn a living primarily as a special teamer knows what it means to do a thankless job well. “Cronan the Barbarian,” as he was sometimes known, did that at a high enough level to make two Super Bowl appearances with Washington (one win) as a special teams captain. Cronan was an elite college linebacker. Despite playing only a single season at the position, he captained one of BC’s greatest defenses in 1976. His energy, aggressiveness, and hard hitting set the tone for his teams.
Lofa Tatupu's NFL career ended sooner than it might have due to injuries. (AP file)
Résumé: At USC, won 2003 Rose Bowl and 2004 BCS national championship ... 2004 first-team All-American ... Six-year NFL career after being drafted by Seahawks at No. 45 in 2005 ... Three-time Pro Bowler ... 2007 First-Team All-Pro ... Named to Seahawks 35th anniversary team in 2010.
Tatupu was the defensive leader of one of the best college football teams ever — the 2004 Southern Cal team that won the national championship. He was exactly what you want in an inside linebacker: He could fill holes like concrete, made coming across the middle the stuff of nightmares, and had a penchant for forcing turnovers. That success translated instantly to the NFL, where he was a tackling machine from day one with the Seahawks. If not for injuries, Tatupu’s career could have been on par with the likes of Patrick Willis.
Maurice Hurst Jr. is on the Browns this season. (Getty Images)
Maurice Hurst Jr.
Résumé: 2015 Citrus Bowl champion with Michigan ... 2017 All-American and All-Big Ten ... Drafted in fifth round by Raiders in 2018.
Hurst often overwhelms blockers to win the line of scrimmage and end up in the backfield in a matter of seconds. He specializes in shedding blocks and chasing down runners. He played for the Raiders and 49ers prior to joining the Browns for the 2023 season.
Joe Nash (left) gets tangled with an offensive lineman during a 1992 game. (Gary Newkirk)
Résumé: 1981 All-New England for BC ... Inducted into BC Hall of Fame in 1999 ... 15-year NFL career ... 1984 Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro ... Named to Seahawks 35th anniversary team in 2010.
A prolific tackler and pass rusher, especially from the defensive tackle position, Nash was the kind of player opposing teams had to account for in their game plans. He was a disruptor who was almost never injured in college or the pros. Nash gets bonus points for having a special skill — the ability to block kicks, which meant he had the potential to change a game in one play.
Fred Smerlas shown in 1991. (Globe file)
Résumé: Four-year starter at BC ... Two-time All-New England (1976, 1978) ... Inducted into BC Hall of Fame in 1994 ... 14-year NFL career after being drafted by Bills at No. 32 in 1979 ... Named to all-rookie team in 1979 ... Named to Pro Bowl and named All-Pro in 1980-83 and 1988 ... Named to Bills 25th anniversary team in 1984, Bills Wall of Fame in 2001, and Bills 50th anniversary team in 2009.
Legendary for his intensity and toughness, Smerlas was not someone you wanted to see staring across from you on the football field. He played for BC in an era with less team success, but even so he stood out. Smerlas went on to become a legend in Buffalo, where he was the anchor of the defense for the better part of a decade. Any player who has eight years between their first and last All-Pro selection is in rarefied air. Smerlas also played for the 49ers before wrapping up his career with two seasons with the Patriots.
What about ...?
Where are Howie Long, Mark Bavaro, Nick Buoniconti, and many others who played high school football in Massachusetts and had college and pro accomplishments that would rival or even exceed those of the players chosen for this feature?
There are two reasons you don’t see them: 1. They played high school football in Western or Central Massachusetts and were thus ineligible to be a Globe All-Scholastic. 2. They simply were not selected by the Globe as All-Scholastics at the time.
That said, we did compile a team of players from the Bay State who had outstanding college and/or pro careers but never made a Globe All-Scholastic team.
Starters: QB Jack Concannon (Matignon); RB Joe Morris (Ayer, Central Mass.); RB Fred Willis (Marian); WR Bill Brooks (Framingham North); TE Mark Bavaro (Danvers); TE Mark Chmura (Frontier Regional, Western Mass.); OL Ed Healey (Springfield Central, Western Mass.); OL Walt Sweeney (Cohasset); OL Ron Stone (West Roxbury); OL Chris Lindstrom (Shepherd Hill, Central Mass.); OL Breno Giacomini (Malden).
On the bench: FB Patrick Ricard (David Prouty, Central Mass.); RB Jamie Morris (Ayer, Central Mass.); TE Dan Ross (Everett); TE Wayne Millner (Salem); OL Frank Varrichione (Natick); OL Dave Lapham (Wakefield).
Starters: S Bruce Laird (Scituate); CB Isaac Yiadom (Doherty, Central Mass.); CB Jerry Azumah (St. Peter-Marian, Central Mass.); LB Stephen Cooper (Wareham); LB Nick Buoniconti (Springfield Cathedral, Western Mass.); LB Jim Cheyunski (West Bridgewater); LB Fred Wallner (Greenfield, Western Mass.); DL Howie Long (Milford, Central Mass.); DL Don Colo (East Bridgewater); DL Ken Clarke (Boston English); DL Bob Dee (Braintree).
On the bench: S/CB Ifeatu Melifonwu (Grafton, Central Mass.)
Inside the selection process
Players were chosen based on their college and pro accomplishments, and some of the players who made our team had much better college careers than pro careers.
For example, Joe Bellino played just 35 games over three seasons in the AFL , but he still got the nod over Jordan Todman, who was a better pro running back, because Bellino was superior in college (the Heisman Trophy is a pretty good trump card).
There also was the issue of weighing the Canadian Football League vs. the NFL in the case of evaluating the careers of Doug and Darren Flutie. Though the NFL undoubtedly is the stronger league, both Fluties had record-setting accomplishments that were more impressive than those of their competitors, and in some cases better college careers.
On defense, the only selection debate we had was Maurice Hurst Jr. vs. Tim Bulman on the defensive line. Both were college standouts, but Hurst gets the nod because he enjoyed much more team success in college, plus both his college and NFL stats are slightly better. Hurst’s career is still ongoing, so there’s room for continued improvement to his NFL résumé.
Trends about the team
Everett is the most represented high school on our team with three players, all from very different eras (Brickley, Sainristil, and Hughes). Brockton (MacAfee and Louis-Jean) and Natick (the Flutie brothers) have two representatives apiece.
What era was the most dominant? The 1970s had more players on the team than any other decade. The ’80s had the second-most with four, and the 2000s and 2010s are tied with three players apiece. The youngest player on our team is Sainristil at 23. If he were alive, Brickley would be the oldest at 131.
Not surprisingly, the most represented college program is Boston College with 13 players — including every member of our offensive line. Michigan is the only other school with more than one player.