Cardinal Still Flying High As BC Career Comes to Close

Colton Cardinal
Former Franklin standout Colton Cardinal started as a walk-on at Boston College and stuck it out for four years as a regular on special teams, earning the team’s Loyalty Award for his efforts over the last four years. (BC Athletics)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


On Dec. 8, Boston College’s football team held its annual Senior Banquet to hand out awards to some of the players in their final season in the program. Among the honorees that night was senior fullback Colton Cardinal. The former Franklin standout arrived at BC as a preferred walk-on at linebacker and lasted four years with the Eagles as a fullback and as a regular on special teams.

Cardinal was honored with the Loyalty Award, which is given each year, according to the BC website, “to the individual who possesses an unwavering amount of support and allegiance to a long-term commitment.”

“That was kind of special,” said Cardinal following the team’s a mid-week practice. “It kind of took me by surprise but I was really happy.

He added, “Not really having anyone behind me and believing in me except the locals in Franklin and being able to solidify myself as a player on special teams and a little bit on offense. Then to have my coaches and teammates honor me with the Loyalty Award meant the world to me. It was the highlight of my four years here.”

Commitment has never been a problem for Cardinal, who had offers to play at lower levels and probably could have walked into a team and become a starter at linebacker. Instead, he chose to play Div. I at BC and stuck it out through position changes and limited playing time.

The day after Christmas, Cardinal will wrap up his career with Eagles when they take on Boise State in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl at the historic Cotton Bowl in Dallas. It was this type of opportunity that Cardinal wanted when he chose to play in Chestnut Hill.

“It definitely wasn’t easy coming in as a preferred walk-on,” he admitted. In fact, Cardinal said that of the preferred walk-ons that started his freshman year only John Fadule of Wellesley is still part of the team. “It was definitely hard watching former players now living the normal student life and having the extra time for classwork and friends and going out, so it’s a lot of sacrifices but with one more game left and heading to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl, it’s worked out.”

 

As a senior with the Panthers, Cardinal was considered one of the top linebackers in the Hockomock League. He started all but one game during his four years at Franklin. He was being recruited by several schools, including BC, who sent defensive coordinator Don Brown (who is now the DC at Michigan and is the father of current Franklin baseball coach Zach Brown) to meet Cardinal, his family, and then Franklin coach Brad Sidwell.

It is pretty common for players in Massachusetts to aspire to be on the Eagles and Cardinal was no different. Alumni Stadium is about 15 minutes from his father’s work and he has been to the stadium a number of times. The problem was that BC also recruited a number of other linebackers (Cardinal remembers more than a dozen linebackers on the team his freshman season), so to get on the field he needed to find a different niche.

“I thought that I’d come here and earn my spot at BC and that’s what I did,” he explained. Cardinal switched to fullback early in his freshman season and his physicality impressed the coaches, who added him to special teams. He said, “That’s kind of where I found my home playing here.”

He got into a game his freshman year against Howard at linebacker and then at the end of the year he played special teams against Syracuse.

“Maybe I’m not 100 percent sure on what I’m going to do, but I’m going to do it as fast as I can, “he said of his mindset on the field. “I think they noticed that and [tight ends] Coach [Frank] Leonard took a liking to me and embraced me into the tight end room and that’s been the biggest blessing since I’ve been to BC was the guys in the room helping me out.”

Even though he found his niche on the team, it was still a big transition from being a star player to one only seeing action occasionally. Cardinal reflected, “I started every game but the first one in four years and high school and then to come here and watch from the sideline was tough.”

When asked why he wanted to stick it out on the team, with all of the time and the effort that entails, over the course of a four-year career, Cardinal replied, “Pride for myself and pride for representing my family, the Franklin community, the Hockomock community, and Massachusetts as a whole really. Coming to Boston College and being a Massachusetts guy means a lot to us.

“Playing at BC gives you an extra bit of motivation because you’re representing something a lot bigger than yourself, which is fun. It’s even fun on Wednesday mornings, you know, when you’ve got full-pad scrimmage during finals week. It’s still a blast and I still love it every day.”

Of course running out onto the field at Alumni Stadium against highly-ranked Clemson for a game that had all of the eyes of the college football world on it, including ESPN’s College Gameday set, was a pretty good reward for having stuck it out over four years.

He laughed and said, “I’ll never forget Game Day versus Clemson running out, nighttime, fireworks, lights are going off, it’s cold, it’s Massachusetts football…I’ll never forget that. It’s been truly awesome.”

Cardinal and the Eagles will wrap up the season in a bowl game against a nationally-ranked team. He said that friends and family are planning on going to Dallas to watch his final collegiate game. When he signed on to play at BC, this was the type of stage he expected to play on and this is the ideal way to close out his career.

“We talk about that a lot…to be able to come back 10, 15 years later with your head held high and know that maybe I didn’t have the biggest role on the team, but I played a part in history at Boston College football.”

2018 HockomockSports Football Awards

Warriors Three-Peat Bid Comes Up Just Short

King Philip football
King Philip junior Ryan Halliday breaks through the North Andover defensive line in the Div. 2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


FOXBORO, Mass. – There were still many who expected North Andover, with its perfect record and high-powered offense, to be too much for King Philip in Friday night’s Div. 2 Super Bowl and the Warriors were going to struggle to stay with the Scarlet Knights.

You would think that at this point, after three straight trips to Gillette Stadium and 33 wins combined over the past three seasons, people would know better than to underestimate KP.

With 26 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Warriors got the ball back at their own 26 trailing just 6-0. Robert Jarest scrambled from one side of the field all the way back to his left and hit Tim Nault right on the sideline for a first down. On the next play the pair connected again for another 13 yards into North Andover territory. With the clock down to 11 seconds, Jarest found DDavid Morganelli in front of his own bench for 13 yards to the Knights 34.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

With six seconds left on the clock, KP had one last chance to complete an unlikely three-peat. But, North Andover defensive back Michael Roche ruined the storybook ending by chasing down Jarest for a game-ending and title-winning sack that handed the Scarlet Knights their first Super Bowl title since 1994.

“They keep rallying back,” KP coach Brian Lee said of his team. He added that Roche impressed him on film in the build up to the game, calling him “a real dude,” and he was aware of the North Andover senior but couldn’t change the play at that moment. Lee said, “We were a little disjointed, not having another timeout to get it the way we wanted to and to realize he was on this side and we rolled out into him.”

There was certainly disappointment on the King Philip (9-3) side after the loss, having two long drives end just outside the red zone and having the lone North Andover touchdown come off the lone turnover for the Warriors, but Lee credited his players for beating all the expectations for the season.

 

Lee said, “They really weren’t supposed to be anything this year. To get back here with these guys and to play that way, I mean especially on ‘D’ to shut them down again, we play so well on ‘D’ on this field…”

He added, “It was just a great job competing by our guys. I’m so proud of them.”

KP got the ball first and put together exactly the type of drive that has become synonymous with the Warriors during Lee’s coaching tenure. Junior Ryan Halliday (29 carries, 97 yards) got the ball on all but one of the 12 plays and marched KP all the way to the North Andover 25. On fourth and four, the Warriors called for a fake field goal and Cole Baker found an open receiver on the far sideline but the ball couldn’t be pulled in.

Jack Webster leapt to bat down a third down pass attempt and end the Scarlet Knights first drive, but KP went three-and-out when it got the ball back.

On the North champion’s next drive, Jake McElroy started to get things going through the air, connecting with Gabriel DeSouza for 33 yards to the KP 32. Three plays later, on third and two, McElroy (10-16, 117 yards) appeared to have an open receiver but the ball slipped through his hands and Nault was on hand to pick it off.

The momentum from the interception lasted only two plays. Halliday was hit hard on a toss to the left and Darren Watson recovered the fumble at the KP seven. It took four plays before McElroy punched it in from one yard out, and it took a great second effort just to get the ball across the line. The extra point was blocked.

“That call was dumb,” Lee admitted. “That was my fault and it put the defense in a bad spot. Even so, fourth and one I thought we had them there. That call was the wrong call and put the defense in a bad way, but besides that they did everything they were supposed to do. I really think if we don’t make that mistake then we shut them out.”

North Andover started the second half with the ball, but Shawn Conniff ended the drive by busting into the backfield to stop Watson for a one-yard loss on third and one. KP got the ball at its own six and proceeded to grind out another long drive.

Halliday had been largely contained since the first possession but he broke runs of 17, 10, and 11 yards to get the Warriors going. A Jarest scramble turned into a 12-yard weaving run that got KP down to the North Andover 23. Facing fourth and 10, Jarest slipped as he rolled out and although he recovered his footing wasn’t able to hook up with Morganelli on a comeback route.

Again, the KP defense did its job to get the ball back quickly, including a big play by Morganelli busting up a screen pass for a seven-yard loss.

North Andover coach John Dubzinski said of the KP defense, “They were so good up front. They were good on the perimeter, they were good inside. They covered our receivers well, very well. They’re a good football team. We beat a good football team.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After a pass was knocked away from Morganelli, the Warriors had fourth and eight from the Scarlet Knights 43. Lee elected to punt and Baker dropped one at the one-yard-line with 4:49 left to play.

McElroy was able to elude the KP blitz and hit Watson for a crucial 29-yard completion and then added a 17-yard pass to the KP 40. Watson jumped on a fumble for a four-yard loss and then Tyler Barrett/u> sacked McElroy for a 10-yard loss that forced third and 24. The Warriors did their job and stopped the North Andover offense as it did all night, but it just wasn’t enough time for the offense to get on the board.

It says everything about this team that when KP got the ball back, there were plenty of people thinking that somehow the Warriors would be able to pull this out.

“A lot of things looked like they were going our way early and then we just stalled out on ‘O’ a couple times,” Lee said. “We were just a little short on a couple things tonight. Just a lot of little miscues on offense really prevented us from stealing this one.”

2018 Hockomock League Football All Stars

Below are the official 2018 Hockomock League Football All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Kelley-Rex

Nick Gordon, Franklin

Davenport

Ryan Clemente, North Attleboro

Hockomock League All Stars

Kelley-Rex Division

Nick Evans, Attleboro
Justin Cote, Attleboro
Jason Weir, Attleboro
Michael Strachan, Attleboro
Nick Gordon, Franklin
Ryan Driscoll, Franklin
Jack Nally, Franklin
Terrell Jacobs-Baston, King Philip
Ryan Halliday, King Philip
Jack Webster, King Philip
David Morganelli, King Philip
Daenin Walker, Mansfield
TJ Guy, Mansfield
Aidan Sacco, Mansfield
Vinnie Holmes, Mansfield
Dean Pacini, Oliver Ames
Woudanly Danger, Taunton
Cory Pintabone, Taunton

Davenport Division

Ben Seaman, Canton
Brendan Albert, Canton
Brian Campagna, Canton
Johnny Hagan, Canton
Anton George, Foxboro
Hunter Williams, Foxboro
Mike Sheehan, Foxboro
Brendan White, Milford
Colby Pires, Milford
Kevin Pyne, Milford
Brendan McHugh, North Attleboro
Nick Raneri, North Attleboro
Ryan Clemente, North Attleboro
Ryan Gaumond, North Attleboro
Chris Gong, Sharon
Alex Iverson, Stoughton
Evan Jackman , Stoughton
Malachi Green-Hightower, Stoughton

Grier Helps Stoughton Run Past Canton on Thanksgiving

Stoughton football
Stoughton’s Christopher Ais carries the ball after hauling in a pass in the second half against Canton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – Stoughton senior Jeff Grier was mostly a spectator during last year’s Thanksgiving game against rival Canton, a game the Bulldogs ran away with.

After not getting a carry on the holiday as a junior, Grier wanted to make the most of his opportunity this time around.

The senior delivered, and in a big way. Grier had 15 carries for 211 yards and scored three touchdowns to pace the Black Knights to a 28-7 win over the Bulldogs in the 93rd annual meeting on Thanksgiving.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“This felt great,” Grier said. “I didn’t play last year so this is my first real Thanksgiving game. Senior year, my last game, I just went out there and did my best, did what I could to help the team. Coming into today, we really wanted to bring [the trophy] back home and that’s what we did.”

Grier entered his final season as the top home run threat type running back in the Hockomock, capable of breaking off a big play on any carry. But injuries hampered his season, and Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said Thursday morning was the first time his starting running back was fully healthy all season.

“We played hard today, Grier got going – this is the first week he’s been healthy, and he’s a great kid,” Burke said. “The line played well, we don’t have the biggest line but they are tough, we have some tough kids.

 

“The kids wanted that trophy back so bad after we lost it last year.”

The teams were tied 7-7 at halftime before Grier went off in the second half with three unanswered scores to lead the way.

It took the Stoughton offense very little time to take its first lead of the game. After receiving the kick off to begin the second half, the Black Knights needed just two plays. On 2nd and 13, Grier came across the formation on a counter, found a small hole, burst through it and raced his way to a 66-yard touchdown. Josh Cocchi made all four of his extra points on the day, this one putting Stoughton up 14-7 with 10:02 left in the third quarter.

Canton’s offense took the field and looked primed to respond with a strong drive of their own. Highlighted by a 20-yard run from Kyle Fitzgerald (10 carries, 49 yards), the Bulldogs moved to the Stoughton 25-yard line.

But Stoughton’s defense clamped down, holding Canton to a short gain on first down, getting an incomplete pass on second down, and Savion Scott coming up with a big sack on third down. The Black Knights forced a turnover on downs with an incomplete pass on fourth.

The Black Knights offense went back to work, using a strong ground game to move up the field. Christian Ais (65 all purpose yards) had a 19 yard run and Alex Iverson followed with 15 more yards to get to the Canton 33-yard line.

On second down, sophomore quarterback John Burke (3-for-3, 68 yards) connected with Christopher Ais for 16 yards. On the next play, Grier fought his way through a tackle and found the end zone on an 18-yard carry. Stoughton led 21-7 with 1:45 left in the third quarter.

“We’ve played hard the last couple of weeks, we’ve just turned the ball over too many times,” Burke said. “We’ve played some tough teams this year, we’ve been up and down. I’m just happy for these guys that we finished strong today, it’s really rewarding for all they’ve been through this year.

“That’s a good Canton team, I don’t want to see them next year but I know we will. I love Dave [Bohane] and all of his guys, they are great coaches. It’s just phenomenal for the town of Stoughton and all of they’ve gone through.”

Stoughton’s defense forced a three and out but Canton’s defense answered with the same, with Brendan Albert coming up with a big nine-yard tackle for loss on third down to force a Stoughton punt.

The Black Knights’ defense didn’t allow Canton’s offense to get going at all, with Evan Jackman and Jacob Brisson combining to stop a runner for no gain on second down, and Christian Georges batting down a third-down pass at the line of scrimmage to force a punt.

Stoughton’s next offensive possession was short lived as Albert came from behind to knock the ball free and the Bulldogs recovered. But on the first play of the ensuing drive, Canton junior quarterback Johnny Hagan was picked off on a deep pass by Stoughton junior Anthony Pizzano with 6:00 left in the game.

“We kept those guys in check, they’ve been running all over people,” Burke said. “We did well today [on defense]. We kept it simple, used our simplest defense. We had to make sure that [Hagan] doesn’t kill you. We had a couple of spies on him every play, you have to. He’s a guy where nothing is happening on a play and all of a sudden he’s in the end zone.

Facing a 3rd and 14 at its own 28, Stoughton elected to keep the ball on the ground to kill more clock but Grier was able to turn the corner and get up field and no one was able to catch him as he sprinted for a 72-yard score and a 28-7 lead with 4:34 to play.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton scored the first touchdown of the day. After punting on the opening drive, the Bulldogs got the ball back after stopping Stoughton’s offense and fake punt attempt. Canton took advantage of the short field and on fourth down, Hagan hit Fitzgerald for a 30-yard touchdown. Owen Lehane’s extra point made it 7-0 with 9:20 left in the first quarter.

Stoughton tied the game late in the first half. After stalling on its first two drives, the Black Knights went to the air to get things going offensively. Burke hit Christian Ais out of the backfield for a 48-yard pass, down to the 1-yard line. From there, Burke pushed it in himself and tied the game 7-7 with 1:45 left in the second quarter.

“I’m just really happy for the kids,” Burke said. “They sucked it up and it was a great way to finish the year.”

Stoughton football finishes the season 4-7 while Canton closes out 2018 with an 8-3 record.

DeMattio Sparks Big Red to Comeback at Attleboro

North Attleboro football
North Attleboro players lifted freshman quarterback Tyler DeMattio onto their shoulders after he sparked the Rocketeers with three touchdowns in the second half of their win against Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The North Attleboro players looked around for Hilda, the trophy awarded to the winner of this Thanksgiving rivalry, but the trophy was nowhere to be found. So, instead, the Rocketeers lifted freshman kicker and quarterback Tyler DeMattio to celebrate another win in the long-running series with Attleboro.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

It was fitting that DeMattio’s teammates would lift him up after the game, since he stepped up in the second half and propelled North to the victory.

In his first snaps as varsity quarterback, DeMattio scored three touchdowns and accounted for all of North’s points on Thursday morning at a bitterly cold Tozier-Cassidy Field, sparking North to a come from behind 20-7 win over the Bombardiers.

“Tyler is a talented player, who has had a great year as a freshman and we’ve been watching him all along and felt like he was the next best available quarterback, so got him ready,” said North coach Don Johnson about DeMattio stepping in for the second half. He joked that DeMattio was North’s “secret weapon” and agreed that he was the “spark” that the Rocketeers needed.

Attleboro came close to adding to its 7-0 halftime lead on its first possession of the second half. Justin Cote (24 carries, 114 yards) and Jason Weir (14 carries, 95 yards) continued to find seams in the North defense and moved the ball down to the Rocketeers eight, using up almost the entire third quarter in the process.

Ethan Friberg stuffed Alex Rodrigues for a four-yard loss, Tom O’Neil stopped Weir for no gain and on fourth and nine John Kummer caught Cote after just a yard to get the ball back.

 

DeMattio took over from sophomore quarterback Matt Penta (nine carries, 43 yards), who replaced Nick Raneri as the starter following Raneri’s shoulder injury against Duxbury. After a pair of keepers, the freshman dropped back and heaved a ball down field. It avoided a group of Attleboro defenders and fell into the hands of Ryan Gaumond, who raced the rest of the way to the end zone for an 85-yard score that tied the game with just 59 seconds left in the third.

“That was the momentum changer no question,” said Johnson. “That was a pop-up thrown by the freshman but that’s pretty good that your first varsity pass is a touchdown on Thanksgiving. It doesn’t matter what it looks like.”

Attleboro coach Mike Strachan said, “The catch that Gaumond made in the wind, I think that turned the game for us. It really did and DeMattio gave them a spark.”

Attleboro’s next possession ended with a turnover. Brendan McHugh (nine carries, 38 yards) took advantage of a slip by Michael Strachan and picked off Weir’s pass to get the ball back at the Attleboro 30. Three keepers later and DeMattio slipped through the middle of the Bombardiers defense for a seven-yard score and the lead.

The game had turned around for the visitors in just three minutes.

“I’m proud of the way we played,” Strachan said, “we just got away from a few things, fundamentally, in the second half and I think DeMattio did a good job.”

The Bombardiers had a chance to tie the game. After a Strachan carry, Attleboro was as close as the North four-yard-line, but Duane Bryant got into the backfield and stuffed Cote for a six-yard loss on third down. On fourth and nine, Cote’s pass to Ethan Cameron was tipped aside by Bryan Engler.

“A couple turnovers down inside and we just can’t do that,” said Strachan. “I said turnovers would play a big part in this and ended up being a huge part of it in the end.”

North still needed a first down to seal the win. The Rocketeers got that and a lot more, as DeMattio broke through the middle and raced 90 yards for his third touchdown of the game and the cue for the Attleboro crowd to head to its cars.

“They were running Weir on the quarterback follows, so we had trouble with that, and Cote was doing a great job bouncing the powers outside and we weren’t getting good force,” said Johnson about the change North made defensively in the second half. It was mentioned that the defensive line, led by Kummer and Davenport division MVP Ryan Clemente, dominated after the break and Johnson responded, “They did, but I thought the secondary did a good job coming up and making plays in the run game.”

Attleboro was on its heels at the start of the game, as North drove into the wind all the way to the Bombardiers 10. On first and goal, the Rocketeers fumbled the hand-off and Raneri dove on the ball for a loss of two. Penta was stopped by a host of Bombardiers on second down, including Nick Evans, and gained only one. Isaac Guidel pressured Penta into an incomplete pass on third down and then the fourth down pass to McHugh was inches out of the back of the end zone.

“It was disappointing, I think it would’ve changed the complexion of the game,” said Johnson of the first drive. “But, give Attleboro credit, they played good defense and stopped us.”

The Bombardiers flipped the momentum by driving down field and taking the lead. Cote gained 18 yards on a third-down toss to the left and Weir broke free for 44 yards on a pair of keepers to get inside the North five. Cote punched it in from two yards out to make it 7-0.

The teams traded turnovers for the remainder of the half. Desmond Woodson recovered a fumble, but Attleboro went three-and-out to give it back. Then Cameron picked off a Penta pass, only for Engler to intercept a Weir pass inside the 10. Weir got the ball back with a fumble recovery just before halftime to keep the Bombardiers in the lead at the break.

North Attleboro closes the season at 8-3 and won its 61st game in the series, which had its 98th Thanksgiving Day installment on Thursday. Attleboro closes the season at 4-7.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.