Globe North Football Thursday

Odiah gives Burlington explosive speed, power

Red Devils back is primed for big year

Burlington junior back Marcus Odiah (45) cranked out 98 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries during Friday’s 49-28 nonleague loss to Billerica. Burlington junior back Marcus Odiah (45) cranked out 98 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries during Friday’s 49-28 nonleague loss to Billerica. (Mark Wilson for The Boston Globe)
By Cat Calsolaro
Globe Correspondent / September 15, 2011

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Marcus Odiah is like a finely tuned sports car, one with a keen driver at the wheel.

After taking a handoff, the Burlington High junior back smoothly downshifts and glides through a hole in the defense, then kicks into his fifth gear and is off to the races. The 6-foot Odiah has breakaway speed, and runs with ease.

“He is very explosive in the hole and he has great vision,’’ said Burlington High coach Shawn Maguire. “When it seems like there is no room, all of a sudden he has an eight-yard gain.’’

As a sophomore last fall, Odiah scored 16 touchdowns, attracting the attention of Division 1 college programs. After working on his strength and speed as member of the track team last spring, he is primed for a big season.

“Internally, he is very competitive,’’ said Maguire. “He doesn’t want to get beat. You see that in everything he does.’’

“My goal is to bring a Super Bowl championship to my town,’’ said Odiah, who started playing the game at age 6.

In seventh grade he moved from Woburn to Burlington, and his football talents helped him fit in at the new school. “Everyone would come up to me and tell me how good I was. It gave me more confidence,’’ he said.

Odiah made his first appearance on the varsity as a freshman. “He is committed to getting better and has taken a huge leap in his game since freshman year,’’ said Maguire. “I knew right away that he was a pretty legit athlete, and he is starting to become one of the best running backs in the area.’’

When the Red Devils need a first down, Odiah wants the ball in his hands. He says nerves never get to him.

“He is always ready and he doesn’t get fazed much by anything,’’ said Maguire.

Odiah cranked out 98 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in last Friday’s 49-28 nonleague loss to Billerica.

He takes his game preparation seriously, blasting his iPod as he envisions what he has to do. “The song I like most is R. Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ because it makes me think anything is possible.’’

Odiah’s composure and confidence in tight games should help sophomore quarterback Shane Farley, who started against Billerica in his first varsity game.

Captain Greg Sheridan, a three-year starter, tore his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus while playing summer league basketball, ending his senior season before it started.

“It’s a huge loss for us on both sides of the ball,’’ said Maguire. “But he is a great leader; it’s almost like having another coach.’’

“It helps having two experienced backs,’’ said Farley, referring to Odiah and senior fullback Kyle Shields. “I’m confident knowing they are behind me and that they are there for me if I make a mistake.’’

At 5-11, 250 pounds, Shields is a bruiser. While Odiah appears to run over defenders, Shields powers right through them. The duo combined for more than 200 yards Friday night.

“That combination of the power and speed allows us to do a lot of things,and takes pressure off of our sophomore quarterback,’’ said Maguire.

“Shane is going to be one of the better quarterbacks in the state by senior year. He is well ahead of other sophomores in terms of ability, and we are very happy with him.’’

Haverhill ends losing streak After 32 winless games, Haverhill finally came out on top, beating Malden 39-12 Friday night. With 18 returning starters, it appears hard work is paying off for second-year coach Tim O’Connor.

The attack was led by junior running back Chance Brady, who rushed for 199 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Tommy Morgan completed 8 of 14 passes for 200 yards. Triton and Medford are next for Haverhill before the Hillies head to Andover for a major test.

Here and there Connor McHugh’s third-quarter field goal was the difference in Lowell’s 24-21 win over Masconomet. . . . St. Mary’s of Lynn coach Matt Durgin earned his 100th career win with Saturday’s 35-0 victory over Cambridge. He is 100-52 in 15 seasons overall, with stops at Lynn Classical (72-35), Malden Catholic (5-6), and St. Mary’s (23-11). “I’ve been fortunate to have some great athletes play for me over the years,’’ said Durgin.

Cat Calsolaro can be reached at

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