By HockomockSports.com Staff
Player are listed alphabetically
Christopher Ais & Christian Ais, Juniors – Stoughton
Stoughton featured a strong sophomore class last season and twin brothers Christopher and Christian Ais were a big reason for that. Both are two-way players for the Black Knights and could be poised for breakout years. Christopher picked up a lot of experience in the backfield last year, seeing time at both wing and fullback. His combination of speed and power helped Stoughton pound the ball on the ground. He racked up 381 yards on the ground last year (7 yards per carry) and three touchdowns and should see an expanded role in the backfield this season. Christian also had a strong season and will continue his role as a wingback for Stoughton his season. He combined for over 300 yards between rushing and receiving and found the end zone once. Both will be vital pieces of Stoughton’s run game this year, which is consistently a strength for the Black Knights. Expect both players to have expanded roles this season.
Nathan Cabral, Senior – Oliver Ames
Last fall, Oliver Ames senior running back Nathan Cabral had the unenviable task of taking over from Anthony Berksza, after a preseason injury ruled the Tigers’ leading rusher out for the year, but Cabral stepped right in and provided OA with the workhorse back it needed. He rushed for more than 1,100 yards last season and scored 10 touchdowns. Cabral also converted three two-point conversions and now comes into his senior season as the top offensive weapon for the Tigers. A shifty back with the speed to escape tackles and make big plays, Cabral will draw a lot of attention from opposing defenses and will be the primary weapon for new head coach Ed DeWitt. Like Berksza before him, the Tigers will be looking for a big season from Cabral to try and make a push at a playoff spot.
Cincere Gill, Junior – Mansfield
Mansfield junior Cincere Gill burst onto the scene last fall and became one of the top playmakers (on offense and defense) in the Hock. The big-play running back helped Mansfield bring home its first league title since 2013 and book a spot in the Div. 2 South final. He rushed for 535 yards in 2018, good for second-best on the team, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry. He also had 153 receiving yards. He was the team leader with 10 rushing touchdowns and also grew into one of the top ball hawks in the Mansfield secondary. This year, expectations will be even higher as Gill comes into the season as one of the primary weapons in a loaded Hornets backfield and his combination of speed, agility, and vision to spot an opening will make him a threat to go the distance on every play. Mansfield has plenty of talent at the running back position this season and that means Gill can stay fresh, allowing him to keep that breakaway speed when he gets the ball.
Johnny Hagan, Senior – Canton
The versatility of Canton senior quarterback Johnny Hagan was one of the reasons that the Bulldogs surged to a share of the Davenport division title in 2018, their first league title since 1990, and to the Div. 5 South final. Hagan is a constant threat to the defense because he is capable of making big plays with his arm or his legs. His speed out of the pocket and the fearlessness he shows to take on tacklers downfield allows him to pick up crucial first downs and extend drives, but if teams crowd the box to try and contain the ground game Hagan can take advantage by hitting his receivers over the top. He was one of the league’s top dual threats last season and the Bulldogs will be counting on that production to continue as they try to repeat as league champions for the first time since they won a fifth straight title in 1981.
Ryan Halliday, Senior – King Philip
It never ceases to amaze that as one talented running back graduates, King Philip seems to find someone who can step right in to fill their shoes and produce. Senior Ryan Halliday was that guy last season, rushing for more than 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns, as the Warriors returned to Gillette Stadium to play in a third straight Super Bowl. Even with defenses crowding the line of scrimmage to try and stop the ground game, Halliday barreled his way to a big year, showing off the toughness it takes to get the ball almost every down. He demonstrated the speed to break free when he got into the second level and was more than willing to take and deliver hits. That was obvious on the other side of the ball too, where Halliday had five tackles for loss and a pair of sacks for the typically stout KP defense. As usual, KP will have a lot of new faces on offense this season but expect Halliday to continue getting the ball as often as possible and keeping hopes of a fourth straight South title alive.
Danny McDougall, Junior – Taunton
There were a lot of new faces that made a big impact last season and Taunton’s Danny MacDougall was one of them. He immediately became a reliable receiving option for quarterback Noah Leonard, and as the season went on, he seemed to come up with bigger and bigger catches. A three-sport athlete, MacDougall is always going to be one of the hardest-working players on the field. Despite not finding the end zone during his sophomore year, his production earned him an honorable mention selection for HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year. This season, MacDougall is expected to take over under center for Leonard and see time at quarterback. His ability to make plays carrying the ball should carry over to the QB position. But he’s also expected to see time back at receiver and we saw exactly he can do there last season. And with MacDougall expected to be a starter on defense as well, there’s a high probability we’ll see him making plays on both sides of the ball.
Ethan Mottinger, Senior – North Attleboro
There has been a lot of attention to the right side of the North Attleboro offensive line over the past two seasons as Ryan Clemente emerged as one of the top guards in the league. But in that time, another terrific lineman emerged on the left side. Ethan Mottinger, who committed to play at UMass this past offseason, really came into his own during the 2018 season and is one of the best-returning linemen in the league and region this season. There were stretches in which Mottinger (6’6, 294) absolutely dominated at the line, helping spring runners for long gains. There is a lot of movement in the North Attleboro offense, and that includes for the linemen as well. His ability to get off the line and make a block can create big gaps. While he’s a strong blocker in the passing game, he really shines in the run game when he’s able to go at the defense. Don’t be surprised when the Rocketeers run to the left side of the field behind him when they need a big first down or are near the goal line.
Jack Nally, Senior – Franklin
Franklin senior Jack Nally showcased numerous talents last year to help the Panthers get to the Div. 1 South semifinal, and nearly pull off an upset of powerhouse Xaverian. He finished with 922 total yards, as a running back, receiver, and returner. He scored one touchdown on the ground, caught four scores, and had more than 350 yards in returns in 2018. He was also a dynamic part of the Franklin secondary. With his quickness and agility, and his ability to find the hole and hit it at speed, Nally gives Franklin versatility in its offense that the Panthers will be counting on after the graduation of several key skill position players. Nally has been a terrific athlete in multiple sports and the Panthers will be hoping that he can continue to bring the same level of success to the gridiron this fall and help them challenge for the division title.
Colby Pires, Senior – Milford
Milford senior quarterback Colby Pires has been one of the most dynamic passers in the Hockomock League for the past two seasons, spearheading the Hawks offensive attack and helping them pull out six wins in their final seven games to finish with a winning record. In 2018, Pires threw for more than 2,300 yards and tossed 22 touchdowns, while continuing to be one of the league’s most accurate passers. His ability to find multiple targets allowed the spread offense to be effective and kept defenses from loading up on certain weapons. Pires is also mobile enough to stretch plays out and make accurate throws while on the run. Milford will be counting on Pires’ experience on varsity to help a relatively young team continue to grow and challenge the top teams in the Davenport.
Jason Weir, Senior – Attleboro
There are not many quarterbacks in the league that also excel on the defensive line, but Attleboro senior Jason Weir offers the size and strength that few signal-callers can match. Weir enters his second year as the starter for the Bombardiers, after throwing for more than 1,100 yards and rushing for 600 yards a season ago. Weir accounted for 23 total touchdowns (10 through the air and 13 on the ground) and proved to be a difficult guy to bring down, whether in short-yardage situations or when he got into the open field. He is also a standout at defensive end, setting the edge for Attleboro’s big line. Despite the graduation of several key skill position players, the Bombardiers are counting on Weir to make big plays and keep them in line for a return to the postseason.