2021 HockomockSports Football Awards

2021 Hockomock League Football All Stars

Below are the official 2021 Hockomock League Football All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Kelley-Rex Division MVP

Mack Gulla, Franklin

Kelley-Rex Division All Stars

Chris Leonardo, Attleboro
Kaiden Murray, Attleboro
Jared Arone, Franklin
Shane Kindred, Franklin
Will Tracey, Franklin
Joe Tirrell, Franklin
Hunter Hastings, King Philip
Crawford Cantave, King Philip
Rudy Gately, King Philip
Mark DeGirolamo, Mansfield
Jephte Jean, Mansfield
Trevor Foley, Mansfield
Rocco Scarpellini, Mansfield
Tyler Lane, Milford
Marco Monteiro, Milford
Isaiah Pantalone, Milford
Trent Santos, Taunton

Davenport Division MVP

Dylan Gordon, Foxboro

Davenport Division All Stars

Bahsor Mahn, Canton
Tom Marcucella, Foxboro
Rashaad Way, Foxboro
Dylan Kerrigan, Foxboro
Aidan Hughes, Foxboro
Tom Sharkey, Foxboro
Tyler DeMattio, North Attleboro
Tyler Bannon, North Attleboro
Jared Vacher, North Attleboro
Keysun Wise, North Attleboro
Gavin Wells, North Attleboro
Collin Williamson, Oliver Ames
Jonah Ly, Stoughton
Anthony Girolamo, Stoughton
Emmett Pearl, Stoughton
Shawn Fargher, Stoughton

Honorable Mentions
Isaac Pereira, Attleboro
Colin Albert, Canton
Ryan Addeche, Foxboro
Cullen Pek, Franklin
Nick Viscusi, King Philip
Joseph Forte, Mansfield
Evan Cornelius, Milford
Greg Berthiaume, North Attleboro
Chad Silva, Oliver Ames
Konrad Rogers, Stoughton
Jose Touron, Taunton

Below are the official 2021 Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Football All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. 2021 Hockomock League Football All Stars

King Philip Can’t Match CM’s Offense in D2 Title Game

King Philip football Rudy Gately
King Phillip junior Rudy Gately muscles his way into the end zone for a second half touchdown. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


FOXBORO, Mass. – Defense has always been a strength for the King Philip program under head coach Brian Lee, but the Warriors have rarely faced an offense as dynamic and as talented as Catholic Memorial.

The Warriors (9-3) accomplished something no other team had this season, holding the Knights scoreless through the opening 12 minutes of Thursday night’s Div. 2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, but it is nearly impossible to keep CM off the board for long. The Knights grabbed the lead before halftime and used big plays to break the game open in the second half, en route to a 42-18 victory.

“Once you get behind by more than you’re comfortable with then you can’t do what you want to do and be patient,” Lee explained. “We had a couple plays that really hurt but you’ve got to be able to overcome that and against them it’s so hard. You have to play perfect and you’ve got to keep pressure on the whole time and it’s a lot to do.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Lee was also vocal about his team, which was making its fourth Super Bowl appearance in the last six years, going up against a school that can pull players from a wide area. While school population means that CM actually opted up two divisions to compete in D2, Lee argued that there remains a talent gap that public schools will struggle to overcome.

“I’ll play any team, anywhere, anything like that, but does that look like that’s apples and apples?” Lee asked. “You’ve got to fix it. We have to play with kids who were in Cub Scouts together and they choose to stay, play hard, and work hard, but there’s just no way to close that gap. We can’t work hard enough. I can’t bring them in at four in the morning in the off-season to make them that good.”

CM got the ball to start the game and went to work in the running game, behind junior Carson Harwood (16 carries, 135 yards) and junior BC-commit Datrell Jones (nine carries, 95 yards). After Jake Sullivan and Sean King stuffed a third and four play at the 41, Hunter Hastings pressured CM quarterback JC Petrongolo, who slipped for a nine-yard loss.

KP wasn’t able to take advantage of the short field. Charlie Grant’s pass to Thomas Brewster fell incomplete on fourth down at the 36 giving the Knights back the ball.

This time, CM was able to get bigger chunks and deep into KP territory. Harwood broke a 13-yard run on the first play and Petrongolo (7-of-14, 137 yards) hit Jaedn Skeete (three catches, 103 yards) for 21. Crawford Cantave was able to bring down bruising fullback Kyle King three yards short of the goal line and on fourth down Sullivan forced a Harwood fumble that was recovered by Luke Danson in the end zone.

After picking up a crucial turnover, KP tried to convert it into points. On third and eight, Grant (14-of-22, 175 yards) connected with Brewster for 26 out to midfield. Rudy Gately (19 carries, 79 yards) started to go to work behind KP’s big offensive line. Grant was able to get just enough on fourth and one to keep the drive going, but on third down at the CM 11 he was unable to find an open Brewster in the back of the end zone. Matthew Kelley booted a 28-yard field goal to put KP on top.

The momentum from the opening score disappeared quickly. After Jones broke a 19-yard run, Petrongolo hit Kole Osinubi in stride on a deep slant for a 51-yard touchdown. Following a KP punt, CM got the ball back with 2:47 left in the half and proceeded to add to its lead. This time Petrongolo used a quick snap and threw a perfectly weighted pass to Matthew Rios for a 14-yard score.

KP had played well, used a lot of clock, and found itself down 14-3 at the break.

The Warriors got the ball to open the second half and missed another opportunity to put points on the board. After combining on a completion earlier in the drive for a first down, Grant rolled out to the near sideline and fired a third down pass on the run to a wide open Brewster, who had snuck behind the coverage but was unable haul it in.

Grant’s punt pinned CM back at its own seven, but Jones broke free for a 44-yard run that got the Knights into KP’s half after just two plays. Illegal motion wiped one TD off the board but Petrongolo found Harwood in the flat to convert on fourth down and then Jones punched it in from the three.

With the game in danger of getting out of hand, KP responded on its next drive. It started with a 26-yard completion to Danny Clancy to the 50. Clancy also drew a pass interference call and made a nice grab on the sideline to convert on third down. On fourth and two, Jonathan Joseph got open in the flat for six yards down to the four. Gately did the rest, breaking off tackle to the left and, rather than racing to the pylon, initiated contact with the linebacker to break the plane.

Once again, momentum switched straight back to CM. On the first play on the ensuing drive Petrongolo threw a backward pass to Drew DeLucia, who in turn threw it down field to a wide open Skeete for a 66-yard touchdown, just 12 seconds after KP scored.

“When you try to get into matching them, that’s not our game in the second half,” Lee said. “That’s what they do to everybody. Boom, you make a mistake, you force something that’s not there, and that’s what you get.”

The Warriors remained defiant. Clancy drew another pass interference call and Grant hit Nathan Kearney for 11 yards on a screen. After a holding call backed them up, Grant caught the CM defense with a shovel pass to Joseph, who broke it for 25 yards to the CM 40. Another screen to Gately turned into a 31-yard completion inside the 10. On third and goal, Grant kept it on the left side of the line for a one-yard plunge. He also found Cantave for the two-point conversion to make it 28-18 with 8:57 to play.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

CM was proving unstoppable on the other side of the ball. A big return by Jones put them out near midfield and a pass interference call moved them down to the 23. On third and five, Petrongolo hooked up with Osinubi for an 18-yard score right down the seam. Osinubi would cap his three-score night with a pick six in the final 90 seconds to cap the scoring.

“I’m so proud of them,” Lee said. “They were never supposed to have a chance.”

Reflecting on how far the team has progressed this season, he added, “I didn’t even think we were that good and then all of a sudden you’re in the Super Bowl. It’s all about them, how hard they worked, how much they believed.”

Big Plays Sink North Attleboro in D3 Super Bowl

North Attleboro football Tyler Bannon
North Attleboro senior Tyler Bannon rushes for a first down in the second half against Marblehead. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


FOXBORO, Mass. – After Tyler DeMattio punched in his third touchdown of the night to bring North Attleboro from 14 points down to tie the game at 28-28 in the fourth quarter of Thursday afternoon’s Div. 3 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, it looked like North’s nearly two-decade wait for a state title could be coming to an end.

The momentum was with the Rocketeers when the kickoff return was stuffed at the 14. Three plays later, on third and long, Marblehead’s big-play offense struck again. Josh Robertson his Connor Cronin on a quick slant and the junior took it to the house.

The 83-yard score, Cronin’s third touchdown reception of the game, turned out to be the winner, as Marblehead’s explosive attack proved too much for North Attleboro to handle in a 35-28 win. It was the first state title for the Magicians, who finished 12-0 and extended their win streak to 20 games.

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“We just had trouble matching up with all their skill athletes,” admitted North coach Don Johnson. “Just didn’t do enough to get enough stops on defense. I think they had good athletes who made us miss.”

When asked about Cronin in particular, Johnson said, “He’s awesome. We had seen that on film. I was very concerned about our ability to matchup with their guys in the slot. They’re just great playmakers.”

Marblehead showed off its multiple weapons on its first drive. The Magicians marched inside the North 10. Robertson (14-of-18, 290 yards) connected with Cronin (10 catches, 263 yards) for 25 to the 14. Two plays later, the Magicians had third and one at the five but Nathan Shultz twice made good reads at the corner to knock down passes and force a turnover on downs.

North got out to the 34 but then a punt went out of bounds at the 45, giving the Magicians a short field. Marblehead marched to the North four, but DeMattio sacked Robertson after a bad snap to force third and long and Daniel O’Brien made a good read on a swing pass to force a field goal attempt. An offsides call made it fourth and four at the seven and Marblehead decided to go for it, with Robertson hitting Cronin for their first score.

The Rocketeers answered right back with an impressive 11-play, 75-yard drive. A big screen pass from freshman Chase Frisoli (10-of-18, 144 yards) to Tyler Bannon converted on third and long. Frisoli then hit Aidan Conrad in the flat for 11 and had a play action pass to Bannon for 15. Inside the 20, North went back to the ground game and DeMattio punched it in from six yards.

After a good kickoff return, Marblehead started near midfield but Gavin Wells had good coverage on second down and Keysun Wise forced a punt with a third down sack.

Frisoli continued his strong start to the game when he hung in the pocket under pressure to hit Jack Munley for 16 yards into Marblehead territory and dropped a pass into Shultz for 33 down to the seven. Two plays later, DeMattio got into the end zone again, his second, this time from four yards, to take the lead with just 42 seconds left in the half.

The game turned on Marblehead’s next possession. A Kaiden Leary sack forced third and long, but Cronin was able to get behind the coverage, pulled in the pass from Robertson at the North 30 and then beat a pair of defenders to the goal line, tying the game with five seconds on the clock.

Momentum carried through halftime. Liam McIlroy picked off Frisoli on North’s first series and on the first play Robertson hit George Percy on a 20-yard screen for the go-ahead score. North then went three-and-out and James Galante’s punt return set the Magicians up at the North 21. Two plays later, Robertson’s eight-yard keeper made it 28-14.

Three touchdowns in just 4:02 had turned a game that North looked on the verge of breaking open into a solid Marblehead lead.

“I thought that whole little middle switch there when they scored right at the end of the first half and then when we didn’t convert on offense at the start of the second half,” Johnson said. “I thought that’s when the game started to turn in their favor.”

The Rocketeers needed a response and got one with a methodical, 14-play drive. It started back at the North 11, but Frisoli bounced back from his interception to hit Munley for 15 yards to convert third and three. North then put the ball in the hands of Bannon (18 carries, 92 yards) and DeMattio (24 carries, 105 yards). Bannon would cap off the impressive series with a six-yard score.

North finally got a stop on the other side of the ball. After a 30-yard pass to Cronin put the ball at the North 45, DeMattio made a nice tackle in the open field to stuff a screen for a loss of one and Greg Berthiaume sacked Robertson for a loss of four. On fourth and 10, Robertson hit Cronin for 14 yards but Bannon stripped him and Wells recovered.

On fourth and seven with just under eight minutes to go, North elected to go for it. Wells ran a great post corner route and Frisoli tossed a strike for 20 yards out near midfield. North then pounded the ball with its two running back, eating clock and yards. Bannon’s hard run made it first and goal at the three and DeMattio found the end zone on the next play.

DeMattio had at least three touchdowns in all four of the playoff games, finishing the postseason with 15. The strategy of moving him to running back this year and partnering him with Bannon in the backfield paid off for the Rocketeers.

Johnson said of DeMattio, “That’s what we were hoping for. We knew that we would need him, if we were going to get to this point. We probably just needed a few more guys around him.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

He added, “We’ve had that character all year, so I wasn’t surprised that we were able to come back like that. My only concern was scoring too early and giving the ball back to them.”

The comeback was short-lived. Less than a minute later, Cronin broke free for another long touchdown and Marblehead was back in front. Fittingly, it was Cronin who sealed the win, intercepting Frisoli on fourth and long to close out a remarkable Super Bowl performance.

“It’s just what we’ve been doing all year,” said Demattio. “It obviously didn’t go our way today and there are no excuses for that. We played well. We proved to everyone that we should be here.

“We gave it everything we had. Everyone left it out there on the field, that’s all that matters.”

Milford Holds Off Taunton, Wins First Holiday Meeting

Milford Football
Milford senior Tyler Lane (21) break away for a first quarter touchdown, helping the Hawks earn a win in their inaugural Thanksgiving Day game against Taunton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


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.

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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.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin Holds Off KP To Clinch Kelley-Rex Crown

Franklin senior Shane Kindred hauls in a one-handed grab against King Philip on Thanksgiving. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.