The Dougout: Thanksgiving leftovers

Digesting Billerica High’s thrilling victory on Thursday while digesting too much pie and cranberry sauce.

Murnane did it all  

Junior captains don’t come around very often.

In most cases, a team has a group of seniors as its captains.

But once in a while, there’s a guy like Michael Murnane.

No. 9 for the Billerica High football team is the only one of the seven Indian captains that’s a junior, but it’s days like Thursday that really explain why.

Murnane is a pretty busy guy when the Indians play,

He’s a receiver. He’s a punter. He’s a hard-hitting defensive back.

On Thursday, as BMHS visited Chelmsford, he was a quarterback too.

Actually, he became THE quarterback for the Indians.

With starting QB JT Green nursing an injured shoulder, Indian coach Duane Sigsbury called on Murnane to run the Billerica offense for the final 18 minutes of the contest.

“I haven’t been quarterback since freshman year when I broke my collarbone,” said Murnane, whose day also included a reception for nine yards. “Sophomore year they kept putting me in and safety and (this year) I’ve been a receiver all season. I haven’t gotten my reps at quarterback so it’s kind of new to me this season.”

In the third quarter, BMHS led 17-14 when a bad snap on a Chelmsford punt gave Billerica a first down at the Lion 25-yard line. That’s when Murnane first came in at quarterback.

He carried the ball three straight times, the final run for 11 yards, to set up a first-and-goal from the CHS 5-yard line. On the next snap, Murnane ran into the end zone for a touchdown, but a penalty erased the score.

“The line was doing great and I knew what I had to do,” said Murnane. “We just had to put the game away.”

The Indians ultimately settled for a field goal by senior Jason Chaffee for a 20-14 lead.

Billerica’s offense didn’t exactly sparkle the rest of the way, but a dominant Chelmsford defense had plenty to do with that.

After Murnane punted on the second play of the fourth quarter, Chelmsford moved the ball to the 9-yard line. An apparent touchdown pass was erased by a penalty, but two plays later Murnane intercepted Lion quarterback Kyle Wilder with 7:13 remaining.

Both teams would punt away their next drives before Billerica took the ball with 3:39 left at its own 12-yard line.

Needing two first downs to run out the clock and win the game, the Indians got one. Murnane picked up three yards on first down before being noticeably slowed by a cramp in his calves. Sophomore Steven Gentile came in at quarterback and ran for nine yards and a first down.

BMHS punted with 1:48 left and although the Lions would bring the ball to the Indian 5-yard line, Billerica’s defense had one final stand and the Indians won, 20-14.

“I don’t let the nerves get to me,” Murnane said. “I’ve been in many huge games. Last year we made it to the Final Four and we made it to the Elite Eight this year.”

Foot ball

Senior Jason Chaffee kicked two field goals for the Indians in the 20-14 victory, the first to break the 14-14 tie and the second in the third quarter to increase the lead to six.

“The one thing we’re always going to have is a good kicker,” BMHS coach Duane Sigsbury said. “Our kickers go to kicking school and punting school and we take special teams very seriously. Chaffee did it all in the offseason.”

Chaffee admits, the two kicks were the first field goals he ever attempted in a game situation.

“You definitely get butterflies, but I’ve been practicing them all year and I just put them through,” he said. “It’s the best feeling ever (making the kicks), but not better than the feeling of winning (the game) though.”

Chaffee was also perfect on both of his extra points.

“It was a great win,” he added.

Final tribute

JT Green had a terrific year for Billerica at quarterback, but left Thursday’s game early in the second half with a sore shoulder.

After the game’s final defensive stand by Billerica with just 39 seconds left and Chelmsford out of timeouts, Sigsbury called on Green to take the final knee as time expired.

To have Green on the field as the game ended was a nice tribute by Sigsbury.

“He’s the best,” Sigsbury said after the game. “I’m not disrespecting anyone I’ve ever coached, but JT is the best quarterback I’ve ever had. He’s just relentless.”

Green, was happy to go out a winner and a champion.

“There’s no better feeling than representing Billerica and the community that I live in.,” he said. “There’s a lot of love in the community. I love where I live and I wanted to show up for everybody and give them a good season.”

Sigsbury said Green’s injury, which happened in the previous game against North Attleborough in the Div. 3 quarterfinals, had a big impact on the team.

“It JT didn’t get hurt early in the game with North Attleborough, we’re playing next week (at Gillette Stadium in the Super Bowl),” said the coach. “But that’s the way football is. Sometimes it’s a mean game and today it was a nice game.”

Einarson still came up big

Chelmsford clearly worked hard to take Indian senior Scott Einarson out of the contest at receiver, and who could blame the Lions?

Einarson had many huge games for BMHS as a receiver that simply barreled through tacklers after catches.

But, catches or no catches, Einarson was still a force as both a blocker and a two-way lineman for BMHS in the win against Chelmsford.

Einarson, a college-bound goaltender in lacrosse, said he was confident that his team was going to pull out a victory, even with the Lions deep in Billerica territory as time was running out.

“I trusted my brothers,” Einarson said. “We’ve all worked together for years now and I believe in everyone. I know they were close, but I knew we were going to win.”

Defense stepped up

Senior Kyle Breitwieser and junior Cole Dillon had excellent games on defense for Billerica.

Breitwieser had several big plays, especially down the stretch.

On Chelmsford’s final two drives of the day, Breitwieser was pressuring CHS quarterback Kyle Wilder seemingly on every pass attempt.

Dillon had a nice first-quarter pass deflection and combined with junior Aidan Gibbons on a sack to end the first half.

Dillon also had a special teams tackle in the fourth quarter on a Chelmsford punt return that likely would have turned into a touchdown if not for Dillon’s excellent tackle. Dillon made the stop at Billerica’s 41-yard line.

In the second half, Dillon had back-to-back big plays early in the third quarter, the second being a stop on fourth-and-one from the 43-yard line.

O’Gara helps O

Gus O’Gara had one of his best games of the season, making several huge catches and an incredible 80-yard kickoff return that led to one of the Indian field goals. He also had several carries out of the backfield.

In Billerica’s go-ahead drive that made it 14-7, O’Gara had four catches for 27 yards and one run.

A junior, O’Gara will be an exciting playmaker for the Indians next season.