Troy Flutie - more than a name
QB shining for Natick
NEEDHAM - The script is a familiar one: Flutie drops back to pass and hits his receiver in stride for a 42-yard touchdown pass. Flutie breaks away from a defender and picks up 10 yards. Flutie calls his own number and scores from 14 yards out, untouched.
And just like that, the Natick High football team seized a second-quarter lead against the host Needham Rockets last Friday night, and pulled away for a 49-24 victory in a critical Bay State Conference matchup.
For Natick sophomore quarterback Troy Flutie, it’s not just his name, it’s how he plays that makes the comparisons inevitable. Nephew of Doug, the Heisman Trophy winner at Boston College, and the son of Darren, a Canadian Football League Hall of Fame receiver, Flutie has not flinched in orchestrating a no-huddle spread attack while directing the Red and Blue to a 7-1 record this fall.
“Of course there’s pressure,’’ said the 15-year-old. “And I’m sure I’ll get stuff for being a Flutie, but I love my name.’’
His father serves as the receivers coach for Natick High under head coach Mark Mortarelli.
“Troy’s been spectacular,’’ said Mortarelli. “He’s the reason why we run a no-huddle spread offense. He can run, he can throw. He makes good decisions at the line. We’ve given him a lot of responsibility because he can handle it.’’
Against Needham, Flutie threw for 167 yards and a touchdown, and ran 24 times for 108 yards and two more scores. For the season, he has run for 918 yards and 10 scores on 101 carries, and thrown for 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The 6-foot, 160-pound QB is the leader of a youth movement at Natick. The team’s second-leading scorer, Brian Dunlap, is a 5-11, 170-pound freshman. He already has 50 catches and 11 touchdown receptions, along with four rushing scores. Against Needham, Dunlap had 111 total yards and two touchdown runs.
“They played flawlessly, which is not usually what young kids do, you know?’’ Needham’s coach, David Duffy, said of Natick’s stars. “They were very smooth. They played like they’ve been playing together all their lives, which they probably have been.’’
He was not far off. Flutie and Dunlap have built their on-the-field rapport since they were 9. With Darren Flutie calling the plays for their Natick Pop Warner teams, he got Troy accustomed to making audibles at the line of scrimmage before he was 10. He also taught Dunlap the intricacies of route-running and finding space to get open.
The chemistry between the young duo reminds Darren Flutie of what he had with his brother during their one season together at Boston College, and their short time together in the Canadian Football League, playing for the British Columbia Lions.
“They know what the other one is going to do all the time,’’ Darren said.
“Brian gets a feel for when Troy is in trouble and he’ll come racing across the field, get in front of his face and help him out . . . It’s similar to what Doug and I had, but really they’ve developed their own chemistry through repetition, through experience, through games.’’
After each score against Needham last weekend, both Dunlap and Flutie were mobbed by teammates as soon as they came to the sideline. Chest bumps, hugs, and pats on the helmet seemed to come nonstop at the pair. Hard to believe that at the end of last fall, Flutie was the new quarterback of a team that went 2-5 in its last seven games and Dunlap was still in middle school. Now, they seem like the most popular players on the team.
“I’ve never seen a wide receiver with that type of hands and that type of athleticism,’’ said senior captain Tim Dunn, who played varsity football at Natick as a freshman. “And I’ve never seen a quarterback who is a sophomore who can run the whole offense, like he’s 40 years old. It’s great.’’
For those too young to get nostalgic at the sight of a Flutie driving Natick down the field, the new memories will more than suffice. And with another two high school seasons remaining in the latest Flutie chapter, they could be just a prelude to what’s to come.
Groton coach likes what he’s seeing
Because of last weekend’s snowstorm and subsequent power outages, Groton School coach John Lyons didn’t have a chance to see the film of his team’s 13-6 Independent School League win over St. Paul’s. But he didn’t have to watch it to know that he liked what he saw. Among the highlights were Adam Lamont rumbling for a 52-yard score in what Lyons called the “Blizzard Game.’’
“He’s had a terrific season,’’ Lyons said of the Groton resident. “He plays both sides of the ball. He’s hard-nosed. He’s a pillar of stability for us.’’
Because of a thumb injury to junior running back David Caldwell, Lamont is now the lead horse in Groton’s hybrid attack, which uses wing-T principles out of spread formations.
Pacing Groton (5-1) on the defensive side of the ball is junior lineman Sam Caldwell (David’s brother). From Charlotte, N.C., the 6-3, 230-pounder - who runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds - leads the team in tackles.
Groton is scheduled to play St. Sebastian at home tomorrow, but it could be moved to the Needham school if the field is still unplayable because of the storm’s lingering aftermath.
Here and there
Needham continues to be hurt by injuries. After losing senior quarterback Drew Burnett for the season to an ankle injury, the Rockets’ two leading rushers were both hurt against Natick. Senior Ian Riley left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury, and may not be back until the Thanksgiving game. Senior Mike Vespa suffered a concussion and will not play at Framingham tomorrow . . . Hudson High’s 35-0 win over Shrewsbury was especially sweet for its principal, Brian Reagan, who was the principal at Shrewsbury for five years before shifting to the Hawks’ sideline this year.
Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com.