High School football preview

Governor’s Academy old style has done well

At first it looks like a practical joke, as if someone was given a blank canvas and a box of crayons and told to create an offensive formation for a football team.

Have five players get in a vertical line and just run the ball? Sure, that’s got to work.

Turns out, it does. There’s a team in Massachusetts that hasn’t scored fewer than 29 points in a game in two straight seasons.


“It’s a dominating offense that’s really tough to stop,” said Governor’s Academy coach Jim O’Leary, who re-introduced the antique formation last year. “Sometimes people think they can stop it. But it doesn’t work.”

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Seven guys get into position horizontally along the imaginary line of scrimmage, with the center starting a new vertical line that goes five guys deep into the backfield.

The center slips the ball to the quarterback behind him and suddenly there are four options the defense has to look for. The quarterback can hand it off to the first, second or third back, with the others darting out to make a block. Or he can roll out of the pocket and take it himself, looking to throw if there’s an open receiver or running the ball himself.

The quarterback, Tate Jozokos, thought O’Leary was crazy when he first put the triple stack offense into effect at Governor’s in the midst of a losing season in 2010. The Govs have since gone 20-1, with two straight undefeated seasons under O’Leary, who was promoted to head coach after Mark Gerry retired in 2010.

“I was hesitant,” said Jozokos, a multi-talented senior who is committed to playing lacrosse at the University of North Carolina. “I kept telling him, ‘C’mon coach, I’m really a spread guy.’ But now you see how it’s played out and you really can’t complain.”


Of course, had Jozokos been looking to open the eyes of college football coaches, O’Leary’s playbook wouldn’t exactly have helped his cause. There aren’t too many stars born from a formation that thrives off running the ball with four backs.

But Jozokos, along with about a dozen others on the Governor’s squad, was planning on playing lacrosse in college. On the entire Governor’s roster, only senior tight end Colin Smith is hoping to play football after high school.

The triple stack comes from O’Leary’s former coach at Salem High, the legendary Ken Perrone, who won more than 150 games from 1973 to 1994.

The Govs take on Cheshire Academy Friday night at Worcester Academy in the Tom Flaherty Bowl.

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Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket will square off Saturday at 1 p.m. at Dan McCarthy Memorial Field for the 59th consecutive year in the Island Bowl, which alternates locations between the schools. Nantucket (4-6) holds a 35-26-3 lead over Martha’s Vineyard (6-4) in the annual series . . . Dorchester (9-0) hosts Madison Park (7-2) at White Stadium in the unofficial Boston City League championship Friday at 3:30 p.m.