It’s not a coincidence the first three weeks of Bridgewater-Raynham’s schedule have featured dates with three top-tier opponents. It is all part of coach Dan Buron’s plan to get the Trojans prepared to play under the brightest of lights.
Buron wants his players to have a taste of what he calls a “big-game atmosphere” before the Old Colony League schedule kicks in. That’s why the Trojans (2-0) made trips to St. John’s Prep and Duxbury the last two weeks, and the reason they will head to Westwood to face No. 10 Xaverian (1-0) Saturday.
“I’ve always had the approach that it was good to play the toughest opponents you could before your league games,” Buron said. “I still feel that way. Because I know Dartmouth and Barnstable, they’re going to be close, tight ballgames.
“I think the last two weeks, and even this coming week, would fall into that category. Our kids are used to it, so when they get into Dartmouth, down there on a Friday night, Oct. 11, and Barnstable comes here, they’re used to getting in that atmosphere.
“They’re not star-struck or nervous. I also think it will bode well if we make the playoffs.”
So far, the plan that was supposed to pay off in the future has paid off a little early. In Week 1, the Trojans knocked off then top-ranked St. John’s Prep. They followed that up last Saturday by ending Duxbury’s 43-game regular season winning streak.
The victories have shot the Trojans from No. 11 in the preseason Top 20 to No. 1 heading into Saturday’s showdown with Xaverian, which took down then-No. 1 Everett last week.
But Buron doesn’t expect the early-season success to go to his players’ heads.
“I think you show them the film [from the first two games] and show them the things that you need to improve upon,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate; we haven’t played that well for an entire game yet. Also, you just show them Xaverian beat Everett. That might even be the biggest win of the season so far.
“It doesn’t matter what the records are, it’s going to be a heck of a ballgame.”
Junior running back Brandon Gallagher (55 carries, 227 yards) has been a force for the Trojans, rushing for two TDs, including the winning score with eight minutes to go against Duxbury.
But Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson envisions a well-rounded effort from the Trojans.
“I’m not sure you can stop him,” he said of Gallagher. “You have to try and contain him the best you can. He’s not the only guy that you have to worry about, so you have to be very sound on defense. They have credible players at every position. They’re not a one-man team.
“If you try and spend too much of your focus trying to stop one guy then what happens is, someone else really hurts you.”
For the Hawks, junior quarterback Jake Farrell is coming off a stellar performance in his first career start. He rushed for a 25-yard touchdown and threw for a 23-yard score during the fourth quarter of Xaverian’s 20-8 victory.
“The quarterback, Farrell, impressed me the most [last week], throwing and running. He’s a double threat,” said Buron.
“But they’re very balanced, so they’ll give us a hard time. They’re a darn good football team.”
. . .
At long last, second-ranked Reading opens its season by visiting Dracut. Dorchester hosts Latin Academy as the Bears play their first home game on their new field. And in another matchup of ranked opponents, No. 4 St. John’s Prep travels to No. 9 Central Catholic. This weekend also marks the start of the Independent School League season, as well as most NEPSAC programs.