Below are the official 2021 Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Daphne Theiler, Sharon
Hockomock League All Stars
Kiara Cerruti, Canton
Casey Dahl, Foxboro
Alexandra Batla, Franklin
Charlene Peng, Franklin
Fiona Morrison, Franklin
Kate Buban, King Philip
Meg Sherwood, King Philip
Anna Moore, Mansfield
Meghan Johnston, Mansfield
Sydney Kalil, Milford
Katie Sobieraj, Oliver Ames
Johanna Holmes, Oliver Ames
Hannah Dupill, Oliver Ames
Braelyn Graham, Oliver Ames
Taegan Hodges, Oliver Ames
Annie Reilly, Oliver Ames
Emersyn Deponte, Taunton
Colby Dunham, Taunton
Taylor Decristoforo, Attleboro
Hannah Fidas, Canton
Aine Fitzpatrick, Foxboro
Lily Duffy, Franklin
Maya Evans, King Philip
Alanna Conley, Mansfield
Jill Araujo, Milford
Katie Galgoczy, North Attleboro
Avery Rivers, Oliver Ames
Hannah Li, Sharon
Alexis Medeiros, Stoughton
Nia Mainer-Smith, Taunton
Below are the official 2021 Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league.
Below are the official 2021 Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Owen McMorrow, Oliver Ames
Hockomock League All Stars
Lee Casstevens, Attleboro
Kyle Downing, Canton
Clancy Golden, Franklin
Nate Sylven, King Philip
Max Miller, King Philip
Chris Leonard, Mansfield
James Comisky, Milford
Griffin Gouck, North Attleboro
Brendan Thomas, Oliver Ames
Alexander Pierce, Oliver Ames
Aidan Dupill, Oliver Ames
Ryan Sarney, Oliver Ames
Nathaniel Traut, Sharon
Colin Ozturk, Stoughton
Ryan Strawbridge, Taunton
Andrew Cali, Taunton
Brayden Cali, Taunton
Samuel Denis, Taunton
Ethan Sylvia, Attleboro
Sam Vail, Canton
Nick Olson, Foxboro
Connor Kucich, Franklin
Ryan Andrews, King Philip
Collin Stevens, Mansfield
Mark Butters, Milford
William Atwood, North Attleboro
Wyatt Fritchman, Oliver Ames
Jacob Bleeker, Sharon
Aiden Castillo, Stoughton
Cameron Dorr, Taunton
Below are the official 2021 Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Cross Country All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league.
MILFORD, Mass. – Across the Hockomock League, there are Thanksgiving Day rivalries that stretch back decades. On Thursday morning, the two newest programs in the league squared off in the league’s newest holiday rivalry, kicking it off with a game that went right down to the wire.
Milford (9-3) pulled ahead by two scores in the fourth quarter but then had to hold on in the final minute, watching a deep pass drop incomplete to seal a 34-28 victory over Taunton (5-6) in their inaugural Thanksgiving Day game. It was Milford’s third win in three meetings between the two teams and during the trophy presentation both athletic directors spoke about their hopes that this will develop into a great end-of-season rivalry.
“A great program like Taunton, they’re going to continue to get better and better,” said Milford coach Dale Olson. “Milford had a great Thanksgiving opponent here back in the Mid-Wach days with Shrewsbury, hopefully we can turn that game into this game with Taunton.
Taunton coach Brad Sidwell added, “It’s great. If it’s anything like this one then it’s going to be a little bit of stress on Thanksgiving. It was back-and-forth, back-and-forth.”
Taunton had an extra week to prepare for the game, as the Hawks were playing a state semifinal last Friday, and the Tigers put that extra work into practice on the opening drive. Jacob Leonard ( 20-of-28, 202 yards) threw a perfect strike to Trent Santos (seven catches, 118 yards) for 19 to get to the Milford 37. Three plays later, Leonard’s sneak converted on fourth and inches and then he hooked up with Santos again for 25 yards and a touchdown.
The Hawks looked sluggish at the start, needing an emotional boost after the disappointment of the loss to King Philip. After a halfback pass went incomplete and Nathan LaPlante stuffed a play for a loss of five, Olson called timeout and gave his team a much-needed wakeup call.
“We sensed it. Only having a few days to prepare for a very good Taunton team, there’s a ton of skill on that team and the kids get after it, we knew we were going to have our hands full,” Olson explained.
Evan Cornelius (17-of-24, 154 yards) swung a pass to Tyler Lane for 17 and a first down. A 12-yard pass to Grant Scudo got the ball down to the Taunton 32 and Lane (16 carries, 108 yards) did the rest. The senior running back barreled through the line, breaking tackles, and then broke free in the secondary for a game-tying score.
After forcing a three-and-out, thanks to a sack by Cornelius (who was named Defensive MVP), the Hawks went right back to work. A completion to Jayden Agnew got the ball to the goal line, but then Taunton stuffed back-to-back runs, with Kasaan Jean-Baptiste and Ryan MacDougall combining to drop Lane at the four. On third and goal, Cornelius looked to the right and Faisal Mass tipped, picked off, and returned the pass 97 yards to put the Tigers back in front.
Milford’s offense was still moving the ball well and the Hawks marched right back down the field on the following possession. John Castillo sacked Cornelius for a loss of seven but on third and 17, Cornelius connected with Isaiah Pantalone (seven catches, 56 yards) for 18 and the first. Another third down and long pass hit Scudo for 25 to the one. This time, Cornelius was able to punch it in for the TD and tied it at 14-14.
Pantalone also provided a defensive spark, as his hit forced an Evan Perrotta fumble that was recovered by Alex McColl at the Taunton 41. Lane got an inch more than he needed on fourth and two to keep the drive moving but the Tigers were able to hold and force a field goal. Nicholas Araujo booted a 41-yard kick to make it 17-14.
“We get the deflection and the kid goes back 97 yards and changed the whole outlook on the game,” said Olson, “but I’m thankful we have a sophomore kicker who can kick the ball like that, he’s a huge weapon.”
The Tigers thought they had a chance to take the lead with a two-minute drive. Leonard scrambled for 21 yards on two plays to get to the Milford 22. On third and three from the 15, Leonard hit Jose Touron for 10 yards to the five and the Tigers scrambled to spike the ball and stop the clock with six seconds left. Sidwell was adamant the clock should’ve stopped seven seconds earlier on the first down and given Taunton two shots at the end zone. Instead, the Tigers got one and Scudo tackled Troy Santos a couple yards short as time expired.
Sidwell said, “The clock should stop on a first down, which it didn’t. I thought there were 12 seconds left, there were six. It was bad. It was awful. We had a timeout in our pocket to save. I’m very frustrated by the way that happened.”
Things went from back to worse at the start of the second half. Milford was forced to punt, but the ball appeared to bounce up off the leg of Nathan Keenan and was recovered by Eric Landry at the 32. On third and goal from the three, Cornelius was able to power into the end zone over the right side of the line for a 24-14 edge.
A three-and-out gave Milford the ball back with a chance to make things comfortable heading into the fourth quarter, but Taunton’s defense held again, stopping the Hawks at the 28. Araujo made sure that Milford got at least three points with a 45-yard field goal.
The visitors needed a break and Trent Santos gave them some momentum with a 31-yard return out to the 48. Two plays later, Santos was able to get separation on the near sideline and pulled in a 46-yard touchdown that cut the lead to six with 12 minutes to go.
Araujo was unable to hit from 51 yards, which gave Taunton the ball at its own 20. Leonard scrambled away from pressure but then attempted an underhand pass that Scudo was able to pick off and give the Hawks the ball at the 23. Pantalone followed the block of Marco Monteiro on a sweep, scoring from 10 yards out and seemingly putting the game away.
It only appeared to be over, as Taunton roared back into the game with a huge drive. Leonard moved the chains with a 13-yard scramble and then hit Santos for 16 yards to the Milford 31. On the next play, he threw a strike to Touron, who had gotten behind the secondary. Keenan’s extra point cut the lead to six.
“Our kids fight hard all the time,” Sidwell said. “It is hard on a younger quarterback when you have to throw it and they know it. He gave us a chance to win there at the end.”
The onside kick attempt was recovered at the Taunton 48 and the Tigers had one last chance. On third and two, Cornelius and Angelo Romero combined on a sack to force fourth and nine from the Taunton side of the 50. Leonard bought time in the pocket and looked deep for Santos, who beat his man, but the throw was a yard too far and Milford took home the win.
“That’s kind of been our M.O.,” said Olson. “We haven’t done anything easy over these past two seasons. We’ve played in a lot of tight games.
“When the kids needed to dig in, they dug in today. It’s been a great ride these last two years and to finish 9-3 the future is bright here in Milford.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. — Before the main course of turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, the Franklin football team helped themselves to an early serving of stuffing.
Franklin senior Jack Marino denied King Philip on a 4th and 1 situation just beyond midfield with two minutes left in the game to help the Panthers secure a 27-20 win over the Warriors in the 61st Thanksgiving clash between the two teams.
With the win, Franklin clinches its first-ever Hockomock League Kelley-Rex division title and first league crown since 2009. It also snaps a 10-game Thanksgiving skid and an 18-game overall streak to the Warriors, their first win over KP since the same year they won their last title.
“It’s incredibly satisfying, and I’m obviously proud as the coach but I’m just happy for the kids and the town,” said Franklin head coach Eian Bain. “The last couple of years, this game has been good and there’s been some close ones and not so close ones. Eventually, these are games we have to win to move our program forward.
“This is a step in the right direction, and hopefully, our young kids realize what they can do if they keep working. But as awesome as this is, I hope they realize this took a lot of work from a lot of young men. I’m just really happy for the kids to see that hard work pay off today.”
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, the latter — plus a two-point conversion — had the hosts ahead 27-20 going into the final quarter of play.
The Warriors were marching into Franklin territory as the final minutes ticked off the clock. KP punted on its second drive of the second half and then fumbled in Panther territory on its previous drive.
A heavy dose of junior Rudy Gately (24 carries, 162 yards) and Crawford Cantave (14 carries, 72 yards) had the Warriors over midfield, but Will Astorino’s third down run was stopped a yard shy of the marker on a tackle from Luke Davis and Cullen Pek.
On fourth down, Marino came flying through the offensive line and met Gately in the backfield for a loss of yards and a turnover on downs.
Mack Gulla (16 carries, 109 yards) ran for back-to-back first downs and the Panthers ran the clock out to secure their first win in the series in over a decade.
“Me and [Nick Quintina], we knew it was going to be either me or him that had to make the play, we needed to make a play and make a tackle,” Marino said. “Rudy is a hard runner, I’m good friends with him but I was able to get through the gap and he was there for me to make the play.
“It’s great to get this win…the rivalry between Franklin and KP has always been there all the way back to Pop Warner. They’ve had our number for a decade or so, but it’s great to get the last one, especially for the seniors.”
“Jack is one of the savviest athletes out there,” Bain said. “Coach [Zach] Brown would say the same thing with baseball…looking back at any big win, there’s a moment when Jack Marino turned the tide.”
While it was the perfect end for Franklin, it was far from the perfect start.
King Philip’s defense forced a quick three-and-out and its offense needed little time to find the end zone. Gately broke free up the middle for 64 yards and three plays later, senior quarterback Charlie Grant (4/9, 84 yards) went play action and hit classmate Drew Danson in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
Things went from bad to worse for the Panthers as they fumbled on their first carry of the ensuing drive and KP pounced on the loose ball, taking over in Franklin territory.
The Warriors needed just four plays again, helped along by a 33-yard pass and catch from Grant to Danny Clancy down the right sideline down to the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Grant kept it himself on the sneak and Matthew Kelley booted the point after for a 14-0 lead with 5:55 left in the first quarter.
“You’re up 14-0 and you keep trying to tell the kids it’s not going to last,” KP head coach Brian Lee said. “You want to try and jump on them as much as possible early. I think if we had maybe one more there…but it just comes back to the little things.
“The quick reaction is jeez, we made a lot of mistakes but how much of that is from the pressure [Franklin] was bringing on us? It makes you a little antsy, jump offside, lineup wrong, just little things like that…you like to think it’s us self-destructing but I think it’s the pressure they put on us. That’s what happens playing against a very good team.”
Franklin had to punt on its third drive but the Panther defense delivered a big stop, cooling some of KP’s momentum.
After a first down run from Gulla, Bain dipped into his bag of tricks and the Panthers executed a perfect flea flicker. Gulla took the handoff but tossed it back to Jared Arone (11/17, 231 yards, 3 TD) and he hit Shane Kindred (5 catches, 159 yards, 3 TD) in stride for an 85-yard touchdown with just over a minute left in the first. Sean King blocked the point after for KP but Franklin was on the board, down 14-6.
Helped by a holding call, KP’s offense went backward on its next series. A third-down pooch punt didn’t travel as far as the Warriors’ hoped and Franklin took over at the KP 45-yard line with 9:19 left in the second.
Arone broke free from a facemask hold and weaved his way to a 45-yard score, only for a block in the back to offset the penalties and nullify the play. But the Panthers’ offense carried on as Arone hit Will Deschenes to convert a fourth down and on the next play, Arone hit Kindred up the left hash for a 17-yard touchdown, making it 14-13 after Garrett Portesi’s extra point.
A false start and a tackle for loss from Marino stalled KP’s next drive, and a sack from Jay Gulla ended it as the Warriors had to punt it back.
Franklin’s offense capitalized on the momentum as Arone hit Kindred to convert an early third down, and the duo hooked up two plays later on the right side and Kindred managed to stay inbounds, racing up the right sideline and diving into the end zone. Hunter Hastings blocked another point after attempt but the Panthers had a 19-14 lead at halftime.
“I think we’ve been in that situation a couple of times, and even though you might get your confidence rattled a little bit, we’re still a pretty good football team,” Bain said of facing an early deficit. “And as long as we kept believing, I think the biggest thing was just having our kids settle down. You want them to play with emotion but they had to settle down and once we hit the big play to Shane at the end of the first quarter, and then we got a stop that we needed and we settled in.
“KP did an awesome job, they’re going to Gillette for a reason. Kind of like last week, we knew they’d score points and make big plays, we just had to take it one series at a time. You can’t hit fast forward to the fourth quarter and the game is over, we had to work for it and earn it.”
KP opened the second half in typical Warrior style: a 9-play, 70-yard march down the field to retake the lead. Gately and Cantave alternated carries, and Grant hit Gately for 25 yards out of the backfield on a third and long. Cantave capped the drive by backing his way across the goal line for a 6-yard touchdown.
The two-point pass was broken up in the corner of the end zone by Franklin’s Devine Johnson.
Franklin went three-and-out on its first drive of the second half after a pass break up on third by KP’s Kelley. But the Panthers’ defense bounced back and stuffed the Warriors, who went for it on 4th down from the Franklin 32-yard line.
“I think it was good to get back to our identity and our reality,” Bain said of the defense. “Certainly, Springfield Central can take anyone out of their comfort zone and King Philip does it in a totally different way, and that’s hard. It’s hard to keep getting hit in the mouth and then you’re down 14. You have to ask yourself, do I want to keep getting hit in the face over and over and over again. Our guys didn’t back down…it was hard, and they’ll be sore tomorrow but they kept answering the bell time and time again, getting off the mat. In the fourth quarter, they made a couple of plays that were key to winning the game.”
Gulla made a nice catch on the left sideline for 19 yards to move the sticks and then bulldozed his way for 10 yards on the ground and another first down. Four plays later, he ran up the middle for a 5-yard touchdown.
On the two-point try, Arone went to the right on the bootleg but didn’t have anyone open so he raced back to the left and into the end zone for a successful conversion and a 27-20 lead.
“I don’t want to think if we did lose, but I think they still would have had a great career but I think this was needed for them,” Bain said of his senior class. “I think a couple of classes before them, I think they feel a part of this too but this group pushed us over the hump. Everyone got screwed out of a normal experience last year but to bounce back and to have this, for this to be their last high school football memory, it couldn’t be more fitting for this group of kids.
It was the first time in nearly a decade that Thanksgiving games counted towards division titles in the Hockomock League. With the new rating system, the league elected to have Thanksgiving count as a league game with holiday rivals only playing once in the season, rather than twice as they had for the past eight years.
King Philip still has one game left as the Warriors are headed to Gillette Stadium to play Catholic Memorial in the Division 2 State Championship game. But the Warriors weren’t focused on next week just yet. KP played all of its starters.
“We were focused on this game…you have to respect their seniors, that’s a great team and they want to know they beat us with our guys,” Lee said. “They deserve that shot, that opportunity after the season they’ve had. And we wanted our guys to have a shot at the league title. Yeah, we’re going to the Super Bowl but who knows what’s going to happen? We’re playing against an absolute animal of a team. But with a chance at the Hock title, we wanted to try and go get it.”
Franklin finishes the season at 10-1 and a perfect 5-0 in Kelley-Rex division play. King Philip enters its showdown with CM next week at 9-2.
North Attleboro, 14 @ Attleboro, 6 – Final 1st Quarter: (NA) Tyler DeMattio 45-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.
2nd Quarter: (A) Adrian Rivera 5-yard rush, XP no good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (NA) T. DeMattio 8-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.
Canton, 14 @ Stoughton, 47 – Final 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (S) Jarred Daughtry 6-yard pass to Tagh Swierzewski, Jonah Ly XP good; Bahsor Mahn 70-yard rush, Hayden Rose XP good; (S) J. Ly 10-yard rush, XP failed; (S) Brady Clark 40-yard pass to Emmett Pearl, J. Ly XP good; (S) B. Clark 30-yard pass to E. Pearl, J. Ly XP good.; (S) Tyler Noel 2-yard fumble recovery, J. Ly XP good.; (C) Owen Lane rush, H. Rose XP good;
3rd Quarter: (S) Anthony Girolamo 12-yard rush, J. Ly XP good.
4th Quarter: (S) E. Pearl 50-yard interception return.
Foxboro, 21 @ Mansfield, 35 – Final 1st Quarter: (M) Conner Zukowski 16-yard pass to Ryan DeGirolamo, James Gilleran XP good; (F) Sam Carpenter 29-yard field goal.
2nd Quarter: (F) S. Carpenter 43-yard field goal; (M) Drew Sacco 5-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good; (F) Dylan Gordon 15-yard rush, D. Gordon 2-point conversion rush.
3rd Quarter: (M) Rocco Scarpellini 5-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good; (M) C. Zukowski 1-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) C. Zukowski 8-yard pass to R. DeGirolamo, J. Gilleran XP good; (F) Tom Marcucella 73-yard pass to Rashaad Way, S. Carpenter XP good.
King Philip, 20 @ Franklin, 27 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (KP) Charlie Grant 5-yard pass to Drew Danson, Matthew Kelley XP good; (KP) C. Grant 1-yard rush, M. Kelley XP good; (F) Jared Arone 85-yard pass to Shane Kindred, XP blocked.
2nd Quarter: (F) J. Arone 17-yard pass to S. Kindred, Garrett Portesi XP good; (F) J. Arone 37-yard pass to S. Kindred, XP blocked.
3rd Quarter: (KP) Crawford Cantave 6-yard rush, 2pt pass failed; (F) Mack Gulla 5-yard rush, J. Arone 2pt rush.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Taunton, 28 @ Milford, 34 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (T) Jacob Leonard 25-yard pass to Trent Santos, Nathan Keenan XP good; (M) Tyler Lane 32-yard rush, Nicholas Araujo XP good.
2nd Quarter: (T) Faisal Mass 97-yard interception return, N. Keenan XP good; (M) Evan Cornelius 1-yard rush, N. Araujo XP good; (M) N. Araujo 41-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: (M) E. Cornelius 3-yard rush, N. Araujo XP good; (M) N. Araujo 45-yard field goal; (T) J. Leonard 46-yard pass to T. Santos, N. Keenan XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) Isaiah Pantalone 10-yard rush, N. Araujo XP good; (T) J. Leonard 31-yard pass to Jose Touron, N. Keenan XP good.
Behind a pair of key defensive stops in the second half, North Attleboro pulled away from a gritty Billerica squad for a 28-10 win in a D3 State Semifinal clash at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Quincy.
“That was about exactly what we expected, it was pretty clear that they were going to be a tough team no matter what,” said North Attleboro coach Don Johnson. “I think if we didn’t get those two penalties in the first half, maybe it would have been a different game, but they hurt us. Those would have been stops with good field position. But [Billerica] is tough, they have playmakers…they’re a good football team.”
With its back against the wall, North Attleboro’s defense delivered.
Billerica seemingly had all of the momentum after forcing a rare turnover from the Rocketeers on one end of the field, and now was in position to take the lead after a lengthy, double-digit play drive that put the ball inside North’s 5-yard line.
On the Indians’ 10th play of the drive, a 1st and goal attempt from the four down 14-10, the Rocketeers defense not only stuffed Billerica up the middle, they forced the ball free and recovered to end the drive.
“That was the first time all year that I felt like we got a lucky break,” Johnson said. “Now I mean there are kids working hard that caused that to happen but those are the things that have been happening against us. That was one time where it really worked out for us.”
And even when North wasn’t able to get any points on its ensuing 12-play, 80-yard drive because of a blocked punt, the defense didn’t let Billerica capitalize on that momentum. They forced a quick three-and-out, and from that point on it was all North.
Freshman Chase Frisoli converted a third down with a 24-yard pass to junior Jack Munley to move inside the red zone. And despite a false start penalty three plays later that cornered North into a 3rd and 14, Frisoli hit senior Tyler DeMattio for a 17-yard score and the Rocketeers had some breathing room up 21-10 with 6:18 to play.
After just two pass attempts in the first half, Frisoli went 5/8 in the second half for 92 yards and a score.
“We thought going in that we were maybe going to have trouble running the ball and we might have to ask more of him,” Johnson said. “We worked on the pass game a lot and I think he’s just showed tremendous poise for a freshman and he did that tonight.”
Billerica moved into North territory on the ensuing drive in an effort to make it a one-score game but DeMattio and Kaiden Leary combined for a tackle for a loss on second down and the Rocketeers stuffed a fourth down run two plays later to get the ball back.
And just two plays later, DeMattio broke free through the left side for a 72-yard touchdown run, shaking one more defender just before the goal line to ice the win with 1:17 to play — his third rushing score of the game and fourth overall. He also booted all four of North’s extra points.
Billerica’s lone touchdown drive — its second series of the game — had originally ended with a punt but a running into the kicker penalty shortened fourth down and the Indians kept the drive alive. The Indians capitalized on that momentum as junior quarterback Joseph Green scored from 4 yards out to take a 10-7 lead, which was Billerica’s lone advantage of the evening.
“The front seven has played great this year, and our secondary has been awesome,” said senior captain Jared Vacher. “That fumble just completely flipped the game. After that, it was our game and we were able to take over. [Dominic Gird] was quick but we were just trying to mix it up. Their quarterback was pretty good and broke some plays, it was my first time playing against that muddle huddle.
“After our first loss to Feehan, Coach [Paul] Sullivan told us a story about a team from the 2000s that lost their first game but won out the rest of the year and I think that brought us so much hope. We bought in and each we’ve gotten better and better, and that’s what it’s all about. Our goal all along was Gillette and it’s awesome to finally achieve that.”
North opened the game in style, marching 60 yards on seven plays on the first drive of the game to take a 7-0 lead. DeMattio (16 carries, 174 yards) and senior Tyler Bannon (12 carries, 56 yards) split the workload, including back-to-back first down runs early in the drive.
Billerica’s defense forced the Rocketeers into a 4th and 5 situation at the Indians’ 34-yard line. Without hesitation, North kept the offense on the field and DeMattio followed a block from Bannon up the left side for a 34-yard touchdown with 8:13 left in first.
The Indians used a combination of runs from back Joseph Gird (17 carries, 53 yards) and keeper runs from Green (18 carries, 104 yards) — plus a roughing the passer call — to move down the field on its opening drive but the Rocketeers’ defense stood tall in its own territory, getting key tackles from Bannon, DeMattio, Vacher, Greg Berthiaume, and Keysun Wise among others, plus strong coverage in the secondary from Joey Perriello.
Billerica settled for a 40-yard field goal from Shaan Rana to get on the board, down 7-3 with 2:51 left in the first.
Green’s 4-yard touchdown run after the running into the kicker call put Billerica up 10-7 with 8:05 left in the second quarter but North was back ahead less than five minutes later.
Frisoli found Gavin Wells for 35-yards on the second play of the drive, Nathan Shultz had back-to-back carries, and Bannon rumbled his way for 16 yards to move the offense into scoring position. From there, DeMattio took it in from 5 yards out for a 14-10 lead with 3:49 left in the half.
Following its first two scoring drives, Billerica punted on three of its next four drives (fumbling on the other), turned it over on downs, and then ran out of time to end the game on the final drive. The Indians had 219 yards of offense but went just 1-for-5 on third down in the second half.
“That was the other thing, we didn’t give up many big plays,” Johnson said. “We knew they kind of liked to grind it out so we didn’t see them on film making a lot of big plays. Our game plan was to try and stop their run game and force them into passing situations, which I feel like we didn’t do enough.”
North Attleboro (7-3) advances to play at Gillette Stadium (date and time TBA) against top-seeded Marblehead (10-0), who routed Westfield, 40-7, in the other semifinal.