By Phil Stacey
---- — DANVERS — Senior captain Mike Favreau wants it known: his Danvers High Falcons are not the best team in the Northeastern Conference South.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do before we can say that,” said Favreau, who had an immense game defensively off the edge while fellow captain Alex Valles rushed for 227 yards and three touchdowns in a 20-12 triumph over Revere at Deering Stadium last night.
Favreau certainly wasn’t implying that the Falcons can’t finish atop the conference heap; with a 2-0 mark thus far in league play and three straight wins under their belts, the Blue-and-White are certainly improving rapidly each week. But that doesn’t mean, he said, that there isn’t plenty of room for improvement.
“We have to be that much better next week (at Lynn Classical),” said Favreau, who blew up Revere running back Tommy Portrait twice with crushing hits sprinting into the backfield from his spot at defensive end. “We have to keep improving.”
After a slow start last night, the Falcons got untracked offensively in the second half — thanks in large part to Valles. The mercurial tailback took a handoff on the first play of the second half, cut left and sped down the sidelines untouched. Sam Vitale’s extra point kick gave Danvers a 7-6 lead just like that.
Before the third quarter expired, Valles reached paydirt again. On 4th-and-2 from the Revere 27-yard line, an inside handoff again took Valles left, and he burst through the line and didn’t stop running until the officials had their arms in the air. Another Vitale kick doubled the lead (14-6) for the Falcons.
“The defense had been carrying us in the first half,” said fellow captain Anthony Cordoba, who had 52 yards rushing on eight carries as a perfect change-of-pace compliment to Valles out of the Danvers backfield. “The backs knew we had to start hitting the holes in the second half, and the O-line knew they had to improve and protect (quarterback) Nick (Andreas).”
Defensively, Danvers forced five Revere fumbles (with freshman Matt Andreas and sophomore Dan Lynch each recovering one) also also got an interception from Richie Martino.
The winless Patriots (0-4) wouldn’t go away quietly, though. Pounding away behind captains Kaleb Silva (129 yards on 19 carries) and Portrait (114 yards on 20 carries), they stayed in the game as Portrait slashed his way in from 8 yards out with 7:26 to play. The two-point rush was denied, however, by Falcons’ defensive lineman Drew Salvo, keeping the hosts in front (14-12).
Showing resiliency of their own, the Falcons marched right back downfield and got the touchdown back as Valles capped off a 7-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge with just 4:31 to go.
“It was about taking it to them and being more physical,” said the 17-year-old Valles, who has 509 yards and a half-dozen rushing touchdowns on the season. “The defense deserves a ton of credit; they stepped up when the offense wasn’t doing it.”
Added Favreau, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Thursday: “We watched a lot of film on Revere — a lot of film — and we knew how physical they were going to be. We had to match that and be even more so.”
Head coach Sean Rogers was pleased after the game, saying the physicality shown by his team was a challenge they accepted and excelled at. It’s one they’ll certainly be facing next Friday night against a big, strong Classical team.
“It’s a matter of us responding not just one or two weeks, but every week to that style of play,” said Rogers. “We want to build off of this win and continue to step up defensively.”