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Metrowest Daily News Westwood at Holliston (32nd meeting, Kamatian Field) Time: 10 a.m. Season records: Westwood 9-1 (7-1 TVL); Holliston 9-1 (8-0) Series record: Westwood 20-10-1 Last Year's score: Westwood 13-7 Lowdown: For the first time since 1991, this game will determine the Tri-Valley League's postseason representative. The Panthers won that ballgame, but have won only once (2000) since then. Holliston is undefeated in the TVL, and will win the title outright and earn a trip to the playoffs with a win. The Wolverines, having lost to Medfield, need to beat the Panthers and hope Dover-Sherborn takes out the Warriors to snatch the title and go to the playoffs. That, along with the Holliston win, are the easiest scenarios to understand. Should both Medfield and Westwood win, that will create a three-way tie atop the TVL with each team having only one league loss. The playoff representative will then be determined by who has allowed the fewest points to the other two opponents in the first half. Vital stats: Westwood is loaded at the offensive skill positions, sending four players to the TVL all-star team. MVP runnerup Jeff White directs the TVL's most potent passing attack, throwing for 20 touchdowns and over 1,800 yards with only six picks. Senior receivers Chris Laham (30 receptions, 790 yards) and Joe Fabiano (33 catches, 840 yards, 11 TD) are the primary targets, while classmate Amadeus Guererro (870 yards, 11 TD) provides a ground compliment to the Wolverines' aerial attack. Middle linebacker and TVL defensive MVP George Whetstone (100+ tackles) anchors a unit that did not allow a 100-yard rusher, while yielding the fewest points in TVL play. Cornerback Morgan Donahue has intercepted three passes in earning an All-Star selection. League MVP Tyler Parrino can beat a team with his arm or his legs. The senior quarterback has thrown for 1,330 yards and 18 TDs, while rushing for 527 yards and four scores. TVL all-star Chris Valiant has caught eight of those scoring strikes. The junior backfield tandem of Zach Rodgers (60 carries, 335 yards, 7 TDs) and Dave Menapace (94 carries, 780 yards, 11 TDs) have augmented the Panthers' ground game. Linebacker Derek Wilson is the Panthers' leading tackler, while cornerback Mike Shilalie (3 Ints) leads the secondary. Injuries: None Westwood coach Paul Hallion: "Defensively, we'll have to take away what they want to, and we'll keep Parrino in check, because he can pass or run. Offensively, we'd like to get good yardage on first down, either with the run or the short pass. Ideally, we'd like to make them defend both the pass and the run and not let them key on any one." Holliston coach Todd Kiley: "With all those weapons, we know they have a big-play offense, so the key for us is to shut down the big play. They also have a tough, quick defense that swarms to the ball. I think if we execute on offense and shut down the big play, they'll have a tough time beating us."
By Sean Jacquet/Tab Sports Correspondent "Just like the old days" These words were uttered by Holliston athletic director Jim Carboneau during a 35-0 season-opening shutout of O'Bryant. But they could also apply to the annual Holliston-Westwood matchup, which will decide the Tri-Valley League champion and the league's playoff representative for the first time since 1991. With a win, Holliston is in. But the Panthers also have a shot even with a loss. In the 1980s, the Westwood-Holliston Thanksgiving Day tilt inevitably determined the Super Bowl participant, making the rivalry one of the juiciest games on the area slate. Each installment was a classic battle, with the winner earning bragging rights and a Super Bowl berth. Two years ago, such a scenario didn't seem likely in the near future. Coming into the Turkey Day contest, the Panthers sported a 1-9 record, and had beaten the Wolverines only once (2000) since '91. The Panthers lost two years ago, but few knew it would begin a renaissance for Panther football. With alum Todd Kiley (Class of '89) taking the reins prior to the 2003 season, the Panthers set about restoring the tradition, responding with a surprising 5-6 record. Still, a Turkey Day victory evaded them, with the Wolverines snatching a 13-7 triumph. But this year is a little different. The Panthers are 9-1 (8-0 TVL), and for the first time since 2000 are considered the favorites as they try to reverse that 2002 record while punching their ticket to the postseason. So what has sparked the two-year reversal of fortunes? Let's ask junior receiver Chris Valiant, who has played an instrumental role in the Panthers' ascension to the top of the TVL. A member of the 2002 squad, Valiant has emerged as one of the TVL's top threats on both sides of the ball, catching eight touchdown passes while intercepting four as a cornerback. "The attitude and the commitment has changed," says Valiant. "When Coach Kiley came, he got us all in the weight room, and he got us motivated. He definitely put us back in the winning mode." But to remain in the winning mode, the Panthers will have to avoid some of the mistakes that plagued them in last year's loss. The Panthers threw four interceptions in that setback, which proved costly as the opportunistic Wolverine offense took advantage. Holliston did shut down the Westwood ground game last year, but could not corral Wolverine quarterback Jeff White, who threw for more than 200 yards. With speedy receivers Chris Laham and Joe Fabiano back, as well as tailback Amadeus Gurrerro (who missed last year's game with a broken leg), the Wolverines bring an attack every bit as prolific as last year's squad. Still, the Wolverines held on for a slim six-point win, a narrow loss that will serve as substantial motivation for Valiant and his Panther brethren. "There's a little bit of motivation to get back at Westwood," says Valiant. "But we're mostly playing for a chance to go to the playoffs. I'd say it's about 50-50. We're definitely excited to play them. We know what's at stake. We know we're in a position for the league title." But as in Kiley's days, to share the league title, particularly with the Wolverines, is unacceptable. Just happy to compete last year, the Panthers, according to Kiley, have proven their legitmacy, and are hardly content with being TVL co-champions. "We've already clinched a share of the league title, but we're not satisfied," says Kiley. "We want to be remembered as the first Holliston team to win the TVL and go to the playoffs in 13 years. We want to finish what we started." Just like the old days.
By Tom Fargo/New Sports Writer Metrowest Daily NEws The jumbled Tri-Valley League football postseason picture couldn't get any wackier, right? Wrong. With three teams still alive -- Westwood, Holliston and Medfield -- for the league's coveted Division 3 playoff berth, the possibility exists that the TVL's new tiebreaker system would go into effect. Under the new system adopted this year, in the event of a three-way tie the team with the least amount of points allowed in the first half during games between the three would emerge from the fray. The new rule replaces the old process in which the most recent playoff team was eliminated, and the remaining two teams went to the head-to-head result, a rule that sent Westwood to the postseason last year. It was last year's situation that prompted the new process. The new wrinkle is actually the fourth tiebreaker, with head-to-head, league wins, and wins between games involving the three teams the first three. "In football, with the limited amount of games, it is tough to come up with a good tiebreaker," said Westwood athletic director Karl Fogel. "It's better than eliminating the last playoff team or flipping a coin. No matter what you do, someone is going to be unhappy." In either the old or new scenario, the Wolverines would be the team left out in a three-way tie situation. As the defending Super Bowl champs, Westwood would have been immediately cast aside using last year's standard. This year, with Westwood having given up 19 points to Medfield in their meeting and the Warriors having surrendered a total of 13 in games against the Westwood and Holliston, the Wolverines are already on the outside looking in before the opening kickoff in Holliston on Thanksgiving. "I think it's much fairer than what we've had in the past," said Ashland athletic director Smokey Moresi, credited with hatching the idea. "It puts the emphasis on defense, not offense. It takes offense out of the equation so teams won't be running up the score. A team doesn't mind getting shut out in the first half, but there are bad feelings when someone puts 35 or 40 points up on you when there is no need for it." The change essentially does not affect the Wolverines' postseason hopes -- Westwood still needs to beat Holliston and root for a Dover-Sherborn victory over Medfield on Thanksgiving to advance. So basically, here is what it comes down to on Turkey Day. The easiest method of sorting things out would be for Holliston, unbeaten in the league at 8-0, to beat Westwood and secure the TVL title outright. A Westwood win over Holliston and a D-S victory would send the Wolverines as both Westwood and Holliston would finish at 8-1, with the Wolverines prevailing head-to-head. A Westwood win and a Medfield win is where things get a little tricky. With all three teams at 8-1, the new tiebreaker rule kicks in With Medfield having led Westwood 19-0 at the half in its 33-21 win and Holliston posting a 13-0 edge at the half in a 26-8 win over Medfield earlier in the year, the teams go into Thanksgiving with the following first-half point totals allowed: Holliston 0, Medfield 13, Westwood 19. Which means if the Panthers lose but surrender 13 points or less before the break, they would still go. If Holliston gives up 14 or more points in the first half of a loss, Medfield gets the bid. If both Holliston and Medfield end up with 13 points allowed, the Panthers hold the head-to-head to edge. Got that straight? Good. Needless to say, cell phones will be ringing furiously in Holliston and Dover on Thursday. "It will be crazy, we are just happy to be in a position to play a game that means something," said Westwood coach Paul Hallion. "The toughest thing to do is repeat, whether its tri-champs, co-champs or outright champs. We said after the Medfield game that if win the last three games we would win the league and we would let the postseason unfold as it does." Of course, the question that begs asking is why the MIAA doesn't establish one tiebreaker rule for all leagues and avoid all the confusion in the first place. Officially, the MIAA tiebreaker system of eliminating the most recent playoff participant only goes into effect if the league does not have their own tiebreaker process. While it is commendable to get some new faces in the postseason mix, punishing a team for consistent excellence seems kind of silly. Not as silly though as ping-pong balls or whatever fiasco determines the South Coast Conference these days. Despite being somewhat complicated, the TVL method has its merits. First of all, by limiting the games considered to the contenders only and using points allowed rather than points scored, any 73-0 embarrassments in the name of improving postseason standing can hopefully be avoided. And the first-half criteria allows teams to still get backups action in blowouts without repercussions. Turkey, football and calculators. A new TVL tradition.
By Rick Smith News/Sport Writer Metrowest Daily News The Tri-Valley League football playoff situation heading into Thanksgiving has all the clarity of mud. Holliston, Westwood and Medfield enter Turkey Day with dreams of playing beyond that date. There are two irrefutable facts surrounding the situation. 1. If Holliston beats Westwood, the Panthers will go to the playoffs regardless of what happens in the Medfield/Dover-Sherborn game. 2. If Westwood beats Holliston and Dover-Sherborn beats Medfield, the Wolverines will go to the playoffs. "If Holliston wins, there will be no need for tiebreakers," said Holliston athletic director Jim Carboneau. "If Westwood beats us and Medfield loses, there will also be no need for tiebreakers." Naturally, Holliston coach Todd Kiley hopes there will be no need for tiebreakers at all. "All we've been talking about with our staff and kids is that we're preparing to win this football game," Kiley said. "We just need to take care of business. Our kids have done a good job of taking one game at a time and that's what we plan to do in this instance." The only fly in the TVL ointment is if Westwood beats Holliston and Medfield beats Dover-Sherborn. That would create a three-way tie and that's when things will get interesting. The first criteria is head-to-head competition. But if there is a three-way tie that will be a wash. The second is power ratings, meaning that each team is assigned points for beating teams in the league. Again, a three-way tie would create a wash. The third tiebreaker is the reverse power ratings, meaning points assigned for victories among each other. Once again, that would be a wash. So the fourth tiebreaker, where the TVL has gotten creative, would be key. The playoff representative will be determined by points allowed in the first half among the three playoff contenders. Medfield has already played both Holliston and Westwood and allowed a total of 13 points in the opening half. With the Panthers and Wolverines playing on Thanksgiving, the Warriors are the only common opponent so far. Holliston didn't allow a point against Medfield in the first half while Westwood surrendered 19 first-half points against the Warriors. "It's like golf, low score wins," said Medfield coach Vin Joseph. "Us going is predicated on us beating Dover-Sherborn and Westwood beating Holliston because we beat Westwood. Holliston would have to allow more than 13 points in the first half." Ashland athletic director Smokey Moresi thinks going down to the fourth tiebreaker is the most equitable system the TVL could use. "I think it's much fairer than what we've had in the past," said Moresi. "It puts the emphasis on defense, not offense. It takes offense out of the equation so teams won't be running up the score. A team doesn't mind getting shut out in the first half, but there are bad feelings when someone puts 35 or 40 points up on you when there is no need for it." Carboneau presents another irrefutable fact. "It's really exciting," he said of the Holliston/Westwood game and the Dover-Sherborn/Medfield matchups. "It should create huge crowds."
Congratulations to our player's recognized by The Tri-Valley League for their outstanding performance this season. Tyler Parrino MVP of The TVL & Offensive Player of The TVL Bobby Evers Lineman of the year TVL & 1st team All-Star Offensive Tackle John Neal 1st Team All-Star Tight End Zach Rogers 1st Team All-Star Defensive End Chris Vaillant 1st Team All-Star Wide Receiver Mike Shilalie 1st Team All-Star Defensive Back Mark Petercuskie 1st Team All-Star Punter Derek Wilson 2nd Team Linebacker Congratulations to all them!