Central Catholic Raiders Football '07

Fri, Nov 09, 2007 07:00 PM @ Methuen
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Central Catholic 7 0 6 7 20
Methuen 7 6 0 0 13

Central grinds past spirited Rangers

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Friday, November, 09 By Dave Dyer
Staff writer

METHUEN | Chuck Adamopoulos and the Central Catholic coaching staff weren't the only ones not happy with the way the Raiders were playing in the first half last night, when they trailed a spirited Methuen squad 13-7.

The Central players were also quite disappointed.

"We definitely weren't happy with the way we were playing," said junior two-way lineman Zak Adamopoulos, who's also the coach's son. "We weren't finishing our blocks and we weren't tackling as well as we can."

That all changed in the second half, however, as the Raiders put on a ball-control clinic on their way to a 20-13 victory, lifting them up to .500 (5-5) and providing some momentum heading into their Thanksgiving game with Andover.

Led by stronger blocking up front and the running of senior Mike Leavitt, who rushed for 117 of his 153 yards after halftime, Central took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and held the ball for 5:14 before Leavitt ran it in from five yards out to tie the score.

After stopping Methuen on just one first down, Central took over again and held the ball for 5:35 more, marching 62 yards and scoring on another 5-yard Leavitt run to account for the final score.

Methuen, which had gained just 13 yards in the previous 19:19 of the second half, did make a spirited last-ditch effort to possibly tie the score.

Taking over at their 5-yard-line with just 2:41 remaining after a brilliant 46-yard punt by Central junior Andrew Guyer, the Rangers drove all the way to Central's 34 before time ran out.

On that last drive, Haverhill's John DiBitetto made a beautiful breakup of a long pass in the secondary for Central and then made a bruising tackle for a 6-yard loss on a swing pass.

Also in the second half, Zak Adamopoulos batted away a Matt Bartlett pass at the line of scrimmage and, on the next play, was credited with a 5-yard quarterback sack.

"We liked the second half and I thought the offensive line did a nice job," said Chuck Adamopoulos. "My hat's off to (Methuen coach) Pat Graham and his staff. They really had their kids ready to play."

In fact, although Central scored first on a nifty 50-yard quarterback keeper by Shain Jowett, late in the first quarter, the Rangers dominated the first half.

Take away that one play and Methuen outgained Central 204-33 in the first two quarters, led by junior back Mike Bartlett.

Just four plays after Central took the lead, Mike Bartlett started right on a pitch and cut back beautifully on a 60-yard TD run to tie the score.

Then, after Methuen recovered a fumble on the Central 41, Mike Bartlett capped a 10-play drive with a 6-yard run to provide the Rangers with the halftime lead.

Mike Bartlett finished the evening with 98 yards rushing, three catches from his brother, Matt, for 27 yards and played a superb defensive game as well. He blocked an extra kick, made a shattering tackle at the sideline to break up a pass completion and was in on eight tackles overall.

Also playing well for the Rangers (2-8, 1-6 in the Merrimack Valley Conference) was receiver Dan Higgins, who hauled in five passed for 72 yards.

"Mike Bartlett played well | he's our go-to guy now, and I was happy with our pass protection," said Graham. "We played a good first half, but we have to start winning games like this."

The Rangers will try to snap a six-game losing streak on Thanksgiving at Dracut.

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