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    ISL raises curtain with thrilling opening week

    The opening weekend for Independent School League football had its fair share of excitement, from upsets to blowouts and everything in between:

     Lawrence Academy showed why many people consider it the best ISL program in the state, with a convincing 38-17 win over Buckingham Browne & Nichols. Freshman Tony Muse took the opening kickoff back 90 yards for a touchdown, and junior tailback Joshua Arruda ran for two touchdowns, including a 79-yarder. Senior Joey Luchetti, a Boston College committ, caught five passes for 128 yards, and added two pass deflections on defense...

     Governor’s Academy upset The Brooks School on the road, 23-7. It was a showcase of Governor’s defensive ends Camden Gagnon, who had nine tackles and two sacks, and Kevin Lemieux, who had a sack in the end zone for a fourth-quarter safety.


    “Our front seven was phenomenal,” said Governor’s coach Jim O’Leary. “[Lemieux and Gagnon] were just outstanding.”

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     Milton Academy defeated St. Sebastian’s in overtime, 21-19, thanks to linbeacker Eddie Duggan, whose deflection of a 2-point conversion pass attempt on the game’s final play secured the victory for the visiting Mustangs.

     Belmont Hill crushed Roxbury Latin, 35-0, behind a big day from senior quarterback Mike Piazza, who completed 9 of 10 passes for for 194 yards and three touchdowns. He scored a fourth TD on a 25-yard run in the third quarter.

     Nobles and Greenough dismanted Rivers, 34-0, as the Bulldogs scored all of their points before halftime.

     And Angel Santiago introduced himself and Tabor Academy to the ISL with a 32-14 victory over St. Mark’s in Southborough, as the senior tailback led the way with three touchdowns.


    “The line was working really hard,” said Santiago. “They only left one back in the box, so we were pounding the run all game.”

    Something’s brewing

    There is something brewing in the Northeast Conference’s South Division after the Salem Witches and the Swampscott Big Blue both improved to 3-0. After both teams suffered losing seasons and bottom-half finishes in the division a year ago, Salem and Swampscott are now undefeated and aiming for the tournament.

    The Witches are reaping the benefits of having a core group of seniors. Tailback Vinnie Gaskins, a 5-foot-11-inch, 185-pounder, has rushed for a combined 508 yards and five touchdowns in the first three games, while 5-foot-10-inch, 170-pound quarterback Aneudy Espinal has been a dual-threat, running for three TDs and throwing for another. After averaging only 16.6 points per game in last season’s 4-7 campaign, Salem has averaged 28.3 points in its three wins thus far.

    The Big Blue has also benefited from an experienced roster led, most notably, by 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound senior quarterback Colin Frary and 5-8, 150-pound senior tailback Isaiah Bascon . Bascon has rushed for five TDs while Frary has already thrown 11 TD passes. Swampscott’s high-powered offense broke the program record by scoring 130 points in the first three games.

    After next week, however, only one program will remain unbeaten. The Witches will host the Big Blue in a matchup of Northeast Conference unbeatens Thursday night at 7 p.m.

    Fourth-quarter fireworks


    Central Catholic escaped an upset with a dazzling fourth quarter performance to beat Methuen, 47-30.

    Trailing by three points at the end of three quarters, , the Patriots scored three touchdowns of 40 or more yards, while the defense held the Rangers offense scoreless for the rest of the contest.

    Senior quarterback Bret Edwards gave the Patriots the lead for the first time in the second half when the 6-2, 180-pounder ran for a 62-yard score in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Junior Joe Howshan intercepted Methuen’s Jordan Perdomo and ran it back 44 yards for a touchdown, highlighting the late-game heroics of the Central Catholic defense.

    Senior tailback Ty Donatio , a5-10, 190-pounder, found the end zone for the second time in the game with his 64-yard TD run late in the quarter to put the game well out of reach.

    Eagles take flight

    BC High capped its long road trip with a victory to remain undefeated, thanks to a player who is much more used to cradling a lacrosse ball than a football.

    The Eagles took a bus down to Jersey City, N.J., where they soared past Hudson Catholic, 30-14, behind four total touchdowns from senior quarterback Will Bowen, a North Carolina lacrosse commit.

    Bowen has been outstanding under center so far in 2017, despite not playing any quarterback over the past two seasons.

    BC High coach Jonathan Bartlett said Bowen’s strong play is a product of his incredible athleticism, which will be vital to the team’s offense this year.

    “He really performed well, especially throwing the ball,” Bartlett said of Bowen. “He’s a great runner, a great athlete, but [Saturday] he was able to throw the ball very well, and if he can continue to do that it will open up a lot of things for us, offensively.”

    Henry Brechter can be reached at henry.brechter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @HBrechter.