Ouellet makes impact at Dover-Sherborn
Defender known for his hard hits
In another setting, Ted Ouellet might stay on the sideline, helmet at his side, for the opening kickoff. At Dover-Sherborn High School, he snaps on his chinstrap and prepares to deliver the thunder. The fun is starting.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 250-pound senior is one of those rare players who can repeatedly deliver a pop that can be heard in the stands from across the field. And it all starts with the kickoff; he lines up as the first man to the right of the kicker and charges downfield with a full head of steam, no hesitation.
In Friday night's 27-15 nonleague win over visiting Weston High, the first Wildcat to cross his path was routinely knocked backwards - and onto his back - with a loud whack, drawing several catcalls and cries of "woo" from the students lining the fences.
"Ted is notorious in our school, and now the Tri-Valley League, for ridiculous hits," said Dover-Sherborn quarterback Andrew Perlmutter, a fellow cocaptain. Perlmutter recalled a collision a year ago against Ashland that left Ouellet with a concussion.
The humble, soft-spoken Ouellet just smiled.
He credited his ferocious play on the field to his work in the off-season.
"I feel like I really busted my butt this off-season, every day," he said.
On a Dover-Sherborn squad with fewer than 30 varsity players, in a school with just 287 boys, head coach Jim Girard calls Ouellet "the heart and soul of our defense." Playing nose tackle in Girard's new pressure-oriented "30 stack" defensive scheme, Ouellet sees many double teams. But with his mobility, he pursues from sideline to sideline as well as anyone.
"He'll make plays from the backside. You really can't block him with one guy," said Medway High's coach, Dave McSweeney. "You've definitely got to know where he is when you're game-planning. He's definitely a playmaker."
And now colleges are taking notice.
Bowling Green has offered Ouellet a scholarship, while Boston College, Connecticut, Syracuse, Akron, and Vanderbilt have all shown interest. If he ends up playing for a Division 1A school, he'd be the first Raider at a top collegiate program since Ralph Joline, a Dover-Sherborn assistant coach this fall, played at Syracuse in the 1980s.
"I'm surprised there aren't more schools, to be honest with you," Girard said. "Clearly, he has the athletic ability; but the commitment, weight training, and all the other things that are necessary to play at a high level, he's got it. He's got that fire in his belly."
The 2-0 Raiders have already matched their win total from last season, thanks in part to a new spread-oriented offensive scheme in which Dover-Sherborn has found success running behind Ouellet at left tackle.
But injuries, of course, occur - and on a squad with limited numbers, adjustments sometimes have to be made on the fly.
Perlmutter assumed the quarterback role after Connor Moriarty broke his leg in a preseason scrimmage, and has found early success directing the offense. The Raiders put up 35 points in the season-opening win over Nantucket.
But in the second quarter of the Weston game, running back Jovoni Curet went down with a leg injury. Perlmutter - a former offensive guard and fullback - then took the ball into his own hands, racking up 214 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. He also threw for 87 yards, including another score, for more than 300 all-purpose yards.
"We made some adjustments; Coach Girard is a genius," Perlmutter said.
And should he keep it up, he'll create plenty of chances for Ouellet to dazzle in his forte - running downfield, gunning down the first thing he sees.
Hoops ace develops gridiron prowess
Those who follow basketball at the St. Mark's School in Southborough are probably familiar with the talents of Russell Braithwaite. But now, he's turning heads on the gridiron for the Independent School League program.
Braithwaite, a starting guard for the Lions' New England Class C championship hoop team last winter, turned in an impressive performance in a season-opening 21-14 win over the Rivers School on Saturday.
Lining up as a wide receiver and occasionally taking handoffs out of the backfield, the 6-3, 210-pound senior caught two passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns; he was also the lead blocker on the Lions' third score, a 1-yard run.
As a free safety on defense, Braithwaite scarcely saw a pass come over the deep middle. His most impressive feat, though, might have been a 20-yard scamper in the third quarter, in which he carried a defender the final 10 yards.
"He's so versatile that we're able to do some things that we might not be able to do with another kid," said first-year coach John Campanale. "He can cover so much in the secondary," Campanale said, that his teammates can play man-to-man while Braithwaite fills in behind them. "He just gives us so much flexibility on defense."
Colleges generally see Braithwaite as a safety. Boston College, Syracuse, UMass, and New Hampshire have all shown interest. The football captain said he's still a basketball guy first, and he considers Cornell his top choice. But more and more, he said, football is coming up to basketball's level.
"It's in my heart right now," Braithwaite said of basketball. "But football is catching up. I enjoy playing both."
It's difficult to say what's most impressive about the 215 rushing yards and four touchdowns that Nashoba Regional's Travis Patterson piled up against rival Clinton High in last weekend's 47-12 win? That he put up those numbers on just 14 carries, or in just one half, or that it's his sixth straight game with at least 150 yards on the ground? . . . Colin O'Rourke wasn't supposed to return to action for St. John's High until the first week of October. But there he was, in his usual spot in the secondary, during Friday night's 40-0 shutout of Doherty Memorial by the Pioneers. O'Rourke's return to Foley Stadium - where he broke his leg in a lacrosse playoff game in June - is what head coach John Andreoli called "a credit to his work ethic and toughness." . . . Framingham's Keefe Tech has endured some growing pains this fall, with just 28 varsity players (11 of whom are playing football for the first time). But a bright spot has been junior running back C.J. Cosme. He has close to 150 yards and two scores in two games, and has been very consistent, according to first-year coach Jay Godino . . . Bill Belichick soaked up the sunshine Saturday in Southborough to catch the St. Mark's-Rivers game. His son, Brian, is a backup quarterback at the Weston school, behind a Manning (Steve).
Brendan Hall can be reached at email@example.com.