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By Chris Klingenberg/ Metrowest Daily News Correspondent Thursday, August 24, 2006 HOLLISTON -- The Holliston High football team graduated 17 of 22 starters from last year's team, but the young Panthers have had a very productive summer and seem ready to step right in and fill the void left by the graduating players. "We think we have some young kids that can step up," said Holliston coach Todd Kiley. "We lost some size up front, but I think our athleticism will make up for that." Ever since school went to break for the summer, the Holliston football team has been hard at work. The Panthers have attended two camps -- the Bay State Football Camp in Wayland and the BC Camp in Chestnut Hill -- and have spent a large amount of time in the weight room. Holliston also competed in the Framingham Passing League for most of the summer. It started in late June when about 25 players attended the BC Camp at Chestnut Hill. There, kids received a chance to work on skills with the well-known Boston College coaching staff. "The BC Camp was a good chance for everyone to jump-start into things," said Kiley. "There was a lot of knowledgable faces there, and I think our kids learned a lot." Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the team gathered for a couple of hours a night for Strength, Speed and Conditioning. "There has been a great turnout all summer long," said Kiley. "Everyone is very committed and understand what it takes to win." In the Framingham Passing League, Holliston was well represented. It gave a lot of the younger kids a chance to play without the pressure of winning on their shoulders. "The Framingham League was good because they didn't keep track of records and there was no playoffs," said Kiley. "It gave the kids a chance to play with no pressure. Even though they weren't necessarily doing what they would be doing during the season, a lot of the kids got a chance to show some skills." Even knowing that the first day of practice was just days away couldn't slow down the young and eager Panthers. Last weekend, Holliston sent about 95 percent of the team to the Bay State Football Camp at Wayland High. With just shoulder pads and helmets on, the Holliston players got one last chance to tune up before the start of the high school season. "Things went real well at the Bay State Camp," said Kiley. "We know that we have a lot of holes to replace, but the commitment has been great. There has been a large amount of kids that have been strictly committed to improving and doing whatever possible to help out the team." In a very tough Tri-Valley League, Holliston must be ready right out of the gate. "The (TVL) is one of the best league's around," said Kiley. "As a staff, we feel really good. We have had a lot of kids work extremely hard, and that's what it takes to win."
Congratulations to our player's recently recognized by the TVL. Lineman of the Year Brendan Shea All Star Team Zach Rogers, Chris Vaillant, Mark Petercuskie, Brendan Shea 2nd Team All Stars Derek Wilson, Ryan Johnson CONGRATULATIONS!
By Ben Meyer-Abbott/Eastern Mass Football Metrowest Daily News WESTWOOD -- Faced with 4th-and-4 on the Westwood 18 with 2:19 left in the fourth quarter, Holliston coach Todd Kiley had a decision to make. Go for it, or send out senior kicker Dave Menapace to attempt a 35-yard kick. Eventually, Kiley did send his kicker out onto the field to put one through the uprights -- but from a much shorter distance. Instead of attempting a field goal from the edge of his range, Menapace merely had to chip in the PAT. One player earlier, juniors Joe Santos and Mark Petercuskie hooked up on an 18-yard scoring strike with 2:11 left to lift Holliston to the 7-0 win over Westwood at Xaverian Brothers. The win was the Holliston's seventh straight victory this season, and first over Westwood in five years. Westwood leads the all-time series, 21-11-1. "This is a huge win for our program," Kiley said. "They were a very good football team, so we knew we were going to be in for a game like this, but we made the plays when it counted and came away with the win." It was sweet revenge for the Panthers (8-3, 7-2) - who were denied a trip to last year's playoffs by Westwood (5-6, 4-5) when the Wolverines pulled out a 7-0 win. "This is exactly the opposite of last year," Kiley said. "They made the play last year, this year we did." "A lot of my assistant coaches were saying kick it, but I had a feeling," Kiley said of his decision to go for it on fourth down. "We had run that play on two previous occasions in the game and didn't complete it, but it was open. So I decided to go back to the well again, and it was there for us." With the victory, Holliston clinched second place in the Tri-Valley League - a finish that seemed out of the Panthers' grasp after losing three straight during a 1-3 start. "I'm so proud of these kids," Kiley said. "The season didn't get off to as good a start as we wanted, but these kids didn't give up even one bit. They worked hard and took it up a notch. For some of the kids, they're going to look back and see this as their most memorable season because of the way we battled the entire year," he said. But for the two-time defending Division 3A Super Bowl champion Wolverines, it was a frustrating, injury-plagued season they'd just as soon forget. The loss was the fourth in a row for the Wolverines, and though disappointed, Westwood coach Paul Hallion did draw some positives from his team's performance. "Defensively our kids did everything I asked them to do and I asked them to do some difficult things," he said. "We had some kids playing today that were actually playing their first varsity game on defense." "We were forced into the situation by injuries and I just told them to go out there and fly and to play with emotion and they did great," Hallion added. "They played great, we just came up that little bit short." "It's pretty sweet to get out seniors a win on Thanksgiving," Petercuskie said. "We have some unbelievable kids on this team. We struggled at the beginning, but it doesn't matter because of how hard we worked and how we turned it around to win our last seven." Holliston's Matthew Edwards strives for extra yardage while Westwood's Jim Vanaria tries to make the tackle. (Sean Browne photo)
By Andy Vogt CNC Staff Writer Metrowest Daily News For any young quarterback, having to learn the ropes at the varsity level with little previous experience can add a hefty weight to one's shoulders. Now, say you're Holliston's Joe Santos, and you're in line to fill the shoes of Tyler Parrino, last year's Tri-Valley League MVP and ringleader of a team that finished the year at 9-2. Well, that hefty weight just turned into a 400-pound anvil. So after the youthful Panthers dropped three straight games early in the year after a season-opening victory against O'Bryant, Parrino placed a call to Santos' home to offer some friendly advice. "He just told me to stay with it, to relax and not get upset," said the junior quarterback of his conversation with Parrino, who now plays at Washington and Lee University. Whatever else was said during the call seems to have worked magically for Santos. He hasn't been quite as impressive as his predecessor (after all, Parrino's 2005 totals of 1,900 yards of offense and 23 combined touchdowns would look good over the course of two years). But the junior has settled down considerably after a rough pair of games -- which included a combined nine interceptions in Holliston's first two TVL games against Medway and Hopkinton -- and has shown signs of brilliance over the Panthers' current seven-game winning streak. "He struggled a bit in the beginning, but has made some huge jumps," said senior Derek Wilson, who added that Santos' transformation seemed to occur almost immediately in the middle of the Panthers' current run, rather than a gradual progression. Panthers coach Todd Kiley doesn't like to dwell on Santos' early-season struggles, and says that much of his performance came from bad luck -- including several tipped balls that became picks in his six-interception game at Medway. But that contest almost feels like a different season, and looking at his recent performance, it was. "Really, it was a learning process for himself and myself," Kiley said. "He came on so strong at the start of the year (against O'Bryant and Wayland) where I opened him up to a point where he had to do a lot more than I anticipated. The offense we were running at that point may have been too much." But as the year went on, he started making better decisions in the pocket, and developed more poise -- which Kiley says comes from experience. Santos racked up 150 yards an a touchdown in the Panthers' win at Medfield on Oct. 21, and tossed for two scores and 135 yards in Holliston's blowout of Millis on Nov. 11. A statistical anomaly? Not according to his teammates, and not bad considering Santos' varsity experience entering the year was as the Panthers' long-snapper, along with limited duty on special teams and mop-up responsibilities for Parrino. "I remember when Ty was first starting, we dropped a couple games early on, and then went on a streak like we're on now," said senior tackle Brendan Shea. "I knew it would be a little rocky at first. There was a lot on his plate." Santos, who also plays hockey and baseball at Holliston, played his entire freshman year at tailback and didn't make the switch to behind center until two weeks into his sophomore season, when the coaching staff offered the suggestion. "I could always throw the ball, but never really thought about being a quarterback," he said. But he's glad he made the switch, which allows him to be in control of the offense on every play. Turns out it was a wise decision. One of his teammates even draws a comparison between Santos and a more well-established signal-caller. "He's kinda like Donovan McNabb, making something happen that's totally not there," Shea said. "He's very elusive and mobile." Santos might not be eating Campbell's soup on Thanksgiving, but if he can just play like McNabb, the Panthers could very well break their losing streak against Westwood.
Holliston at Westwood (33rd meeting, at Xaverian Brothers) Time: 10 a.m. Season Records: Holliston 7-3 (6-2 TVL); Westwood 5-5 (4-4 TVL) Series Record: Westwood, 21-10-1 Last Year: Westwood, 7-0 The Lowdown: Westwood entered the season as a two-time defending Super Bowl champion, but a loss of personnel and injuries set them back to the middle of the Tri-Valley League. Still, the Wolverines have beaten Holliston in their last four Turkey Day meetings, including last year's 7-0 victory in the mud at Holliston, which cost the Panthers a chance to advance to the playoffs. With Hopkinton having already clinched the TVL title, the Panthers are simply looking to continue their seven-game winning streak and give the Holliston seniors their first victory over their Thanksgiving nemesis. Five Holliston players (Mark Petercuskie, Chris Valiant, Brendan Shea, Derek Wilson, Zach Rogers) were all recently voted to the TVL All-Star team, and Shea was voted the conference's Lineman of the Year. Vital Stats: Westwood: QB Kevin Brooks (1,060 yards passing, 8 TDs, 8 INTs); RB Jason Urdang (189 carries, 1,005 yards, 14 TDs); WR Andrew Bateman (7 receptions, 288 yards, 3 TDs, 1 defensive TD); Holliston (TVL games only): QB Joe Santos (639 yards passing, 6 TDs, 13 INTs); RB Matt Edwards (51 carries, 358 yards, 4 TDs); RB Zach Rogers (67 carries, 387 yards, 2 TDs) Injuries: Holliston: none. Westwood: Urdang (sprained ankle), RB Matt White (broken foot) Westwood coach Paul Hallion: "I think there's less at stake (than last year), but we're looking at the difference between a winning record and a losing record, and they're looking at it that we've beaten them four times in a row." Holliston coach Todd Kiley: "Thanksgiving Day is a season of its own and when you throw two good teams in the mix, it makes for an exciting game. I like our momentum and we're playing as well as anyone in the league."