FOXBORO, Mass. – With 1:45 remaining in Saturday night’s Div. 1A Super Bowl, King Philip faced third and eight from the Reading 38-yard-line. The Warriors went to their bread and butter and gained three yards to the 35. KP ran the play clock down and called timeout. There was confusion when they lined up, so the Warriors had to call their final timeout as well.
Knowing that five yards would seal the program’s first state title, King Philip put the ball in the hands of junior quarterback Brendan Lydon. He delivered. Lydon flipped a perfectly-timed pass to Tyler Jenesky (three catches, 43 yards) in the flat for a 16-yard gain and clinched the state championship at Gillette Stadium.
“If we had gotten a few more yards on third down then we probably would’ve gone with the run,” said senior John DeLuca. “We called in our go-to play, which is a flood right… Luckily, the Reading guys got mangled up with me when I was doing a 10-yard out. [Tyler] was wide open and able to seal the game.
“That was the best execution I’ve ever seen it and it came in the clutch.”
King Philip has been a run-first team under head coach Brian Lee. The Warriors are a team that likes to grind out wins with an old school style that flies in the face of the typical spread formation, pass-happy offense that have become commonplace in high school football.
But, in the biggest game in the program’s history, the Warriors turned all of that on its head, throwing 18 times against a Rockets defense that was piling numbers into the box. Lydon completed 13-18 passes for a career-high 256 yards and totaled three touchdowns (two through the air and one on the ground).
“We were getting stuffed at the beginning of the game so we decided to start throwing,” said Lydon, who was as cool during his interviews as he seemed to be in the pocket. “We just trusted the game plan, listened to the coaching staff and just went with the flow.”
DeLuca, who was the starting quarterback for the past two years before moving to receiver in the preseason, praised Lydon for his preparation for the Super Bowl and for being ready when his number was called.
“The past three weeks, since we beat Bridgewater-Raynham, he’s been practicing 110 percent,” DeLuca said. “He’s been coming out early and throwing with the receivers to get the timing right. This game means more than anything to him and he wanted to prove that he can do it. He came in, he knew what he had to do, he did it and he’s a winner.”
The Rockets knew the typical KP game plan was to keep the ball on the ground, but on the third possession of the first half Lydon surprised Reading with a play action pass to Giovanni Fernandez for the Warriors first big gain. That drive ended with a turnover on downs, but it showed the capability of KP’s passing attack.
On its next possession, KP took the lead with a touchdown pass from Lydon to Ethan Dunne. In the third quarter, Lydon used another play action fake to open up Brett Mazur downfield for a huge gain inside the Reading 10. That same combo hooked up again in the fourth quarter on a 69-yard touchdown that turned out to be the game-winner.
“Tonight was a changeup,” said Mazur, who finished with 131 yards receiving. “It was open, it was there, we knew that, and we just took advantage of it. We got the flats open, got everything open and it worked for us.”
When asked about the development of Lydon as quarterback, Mazur replied, “He’s grown so much. You can see him develop. You can see his throws, his vision have gotten much better. He’s making better decision since the beginning of the season and he’s really grown as a player.”
Lydon shrugged aside questions about whether or not he felt more comfortable in the offense now compared to his first start this season at North Attleboro.
He explained, “We always had the potential; we have the receivers. We just like to pound the rock because we have good running backs, but when it came down to it we had to throw the ball.”
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