South Boston might have a quarterback controversy on its hands this week.
After starting quarterback Sean Hunter was benched for Friday afternoon’s season opener against Latin Academy for disciplinary reasons, backup quarterback Hakeine Walcott led the Knights (0-1) to a fourth-quarter comeback to send the game in overtime.
South Boston ultimately lost, 26-20, to the Dragons but coach Sean Guthrie said Walcott may have earned the starting gig for this Saturday’s game against Dorchester (10 a.m. at White Stadium).
“Hakeine did such a great job it will probably be a decision I make the day before the game based on practice,” Southie coach Sean Guthrie said via email. “But we definitely want both guys on the field so we may have Sean at [running back].”
After scoring 20 points in the final quarter, South Boston lost in overtime when Kyle Dance scored on a 10-yard quarterback keeper up the middle.
Walcott, who threw a costly interception in the first half, finished the game with 111 yards passing, including a 60-yard pass to junior wide receiver Pannell Davis (109 yards receiving) to tie the game 20-20 at the end of the final quarter.
He also returned an interception 80 yards to put his team down 20-14 with about 7:50 left in the game.
“Wow that’s a run, that’s a crazy run,” Walcott said after the game. “My coach always tells me follow your blockers and trust your team and guess what I did. I did it. I’m excited I got that 80-yard TD. That pumped up the team and showed what I can do.”
After the game, the senior who never played football before high school said he would have no problem giving Hunter his starting job back against Dorchester. Hunter is also a senior.
“Sean will come back and he will be the leader,” Walcott said.
After all, Walcott did show his inexperience at the most crucial point of the game on Friday. South Boston had the first possession in overtime but it ended when Walcott fumbled the exchange with his center. Latin Academy jumped on the ball and only needed one possession to win the game.
“It’s one of those things we try to get him as much reps as we can but the center-quarterback exchange is always going to suffer a little bit because he’s just not used to it,” Guthrie said. “He’s a senior, he’s a young guy in that position but it’s just growing pains, that’s all.
“I’m proud of my guys for stepping up in some key roles. We’re going to learn from this and get better from here.”
Super Bowl shuffle
Coming off losses to two Super Bowl teams from last year, Easton Boston and O’Bryant will both be looking for their first win of the season when they meet on Friday night.
Easton Boston lost to defending Division 4A Super Bowl champs Blue Hills, 24-6, on Friday while O’Bryant lost, 28-0, Saturday to Cathedral, the team that lost to Blue Hills in the Super Bowl on an excessive celebration call. The call sparked a national controversy after Cathedral's quarterback briefly raised his arm before scoring.
Eastie and O’Bryant will play at 5 p.m. this Friday at Madison Park.
“O’Bryant is the exact opposite of Blue Hills offensively,” Eastie Coach John Parziale said. “They are speedy and they throw a lot. We’re going to have to try and get a good pass rush. … Blue Hills will pound the ball at you and OB will air it out so we’ll have to change gears as a team going up against O’Bryant.”
Last year O’Bryant lost to Cathedral in the opening game, 30-8, before losing to East Boston in the second game, 26-0. Then the Tigers rebounded to win seven of their last eight games, including finishing the season on a five-game winning streak.
“So we're still very optimistic that we’ll be fine,” O’Bryant coach Kevin Gadson said. “We just need to get better and not make as many mistakes, that’s all.”
East Boston opened last season with a 24-0 loss to Blue Hills before losing to them again 25-22 in the playoffs.
“If we can compete in these games, and then win some city games, hopefully we can make it back to the playoffs,” Parziale said.
Grasping the game
Prior to losing to the defending Division 4A Super Bowl champion Blue Hills Warriors 24-6 in Friday afternoon’s season opener, Vincent Lepore had never taken a snap at the varsity level at Easton Boston.
The Jets’ junior quarterback went 0-for-4 on his first half pass attempts, mostly due to the lack of blocking upfront by the young offensive line. So it was no surprise when they trailed 24-0 at half.
By the third quarter, however, both Lepore and the Jets started to show why they are defending Boston North Champions.
The team’s defense held Blue Hills to zero second half points and the offense got on the board behind a 60-yard hookup between Lepore and receiver Connor Henry.
Lepore finished the game 4-of-11 passing for 93 yards, a touchdown and an interception. And that’s why Eastie coach John Parziale plans to air it out a bit more this season.
“He’s going to get better every game,” Parziale said of his young quarterback. “He’s an honor roll student and a tough kid. It was his first game and he was a little nervous but I believe he will continue to improve.”
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