Could the Red Raiders (1-0) have erased all doubts?
If there was any question that this year's version of the Barnstable High School Red and White is as legitimate a threat to its 11 opponents this season as it has been in the past two seasons, well, then last night's 65-0 drubbing of the visiting Durfee High School Hilltoppers may have been the answer.
Backed by a three-touchdown, 175-yard rushing performance from senior tri-captain Theo France, BHS jumped out on top, 6-0, at the 8:47 mark in the first quarter when France darted into the endzone from the 7-yard line. Sophomore kicker Tom Mullen punched his first of nine PAT kicks through the uprights to make it 7-0 and the rest, as they say, was history. When the dust finally settled after four quarters of play, BHS set or tied three school records, with Mullen setting one of them.
Mullen went 9-9 in PAT attempts in his stalwart effort, with each kick seemingly better than the previous one - his effort set a new school record for most PATs in a game (9) by the Red and White and most PATs by an individual player in a game (9).
Two other school records set or tied included most points ever scored by BHS in a single game (65) and most touchdowns scored in a single game (9). It is only the tird time in school history Barnstable has ever scored 60 or more points in a game . The last time came on October 27, 1928 when the Red Raiders hammered Chatham High School, 63-0. That mark had stood for 83 seasons before last night.
Barnstable senior quarterback D.J. Crook turned in a solid performance as well, going 18-23 passing with 202 yards and two touchdowns thrown. He also ran one in for a touchdown from the two-yard line with 0:18 left in the first half. That dive into paydirt made it 36-0 with Mullen's ensuing PAT making it 37-0 at the end of the first half.
Sophomore back-up quarterback Kristian Lucashensky will likely never forget his first-ever varsity game as the crafty young play-caller scored two touchdowns of his own in the fourth quarter, running one in from the one-yard line and then taking off on a bootleg fake, 65 yards untouched into the end zone. He carried the ball just four times and scored twice.
Senior wide receiver Nick Peabody was the beneficiary of a Crook touchdown pass in the second quarter, a 17-yarder that made it 22-0 (5:43), while junior captain Andrew Ellis barreled his way into the end zone from the one-yard line to start off the second half scoring siege. Junior Tedaro France joined his older brother with an 18-yard pass reception from Crook, also in the second frame.
Defensively, junior free safety Kevin Hardy reeled in two fourth quarter interceptions versus a beleagured Durfee offense that didn't tally even close to 100 yards in offense on the entire evening. Junior cornerback Jake Kipnes also had an interception while senior defensive lineman Josiah Dulak had one fumble recovery.
This was the 17th 200-plus yards passing performance by Crook since he first stepped on the Red Raider gridiron in 2008 as a freshman. While it was the second time that new BHS Head Coach Chris Whidden has managed the helm (his first game being last Thanksgiving as an interim head coach), it was his first official game as the full-time head coach (1-0). Last night was just the second varsity football game ever played on the new artificial field turf since it was installed last fall.
Durfee, once a Southeastern Massachusetts powerhouse, has had a rough time of things in recent years on the football field, going 3-8 last season, 1-10 in 2009, 0-10 in 2008 and 3-7 in 2007. Barnstable hopes to improve on its record of 7-4 last year, while it went 7-3 the season before.
But it may not be as simple as last night's 65-0 drubbing my lead some BHS supporters to believe. Barnstable doesn't have the depth on both sides of the ball it enjoyed the past two seasons and its 11-game schedule got just a little bit tougher this time around when it added perennial Super Bowl contender Mansfield into the mix. The Dennis-Yarmouth affair has proven to be the antithesis of what the Dolphin program once was (in terms of opposing Barnstable), Division 1 juggernaut Everett will not lay down, Plymouth North and Bridgewater-Raynham are always tough and one never can quite tell what New Bedford or Taunton might do.
But for now, Barnstable should enjoy the simple and undeniable fact that it broke some records tonight that some dyed-in-the-wool Raider fans thought could never be touched and its coaching staff went the extra mile allowing a great number of its 65 players to see some action.
Andrew Ellis is the first junior to be elected a varsity football captain since BHS Hall of Fame running back Billy Sullivan was named a captain his junior year in 1977. Barnstable's 65-0 score was also the most points the program has ever scored in its season-opener in 119 seasons.
Next week: BHs hits the road against Dennis-Yarmouth at 7:00 pm. This one always promises to be a crowd pleaser and a bruising affair.