WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip prides itself on being able to dominate the line of scrimmage and grind down teams with the running game. In the first meeting with Attleboro, the Warriors took a while to get going on the ground and head coach Brian Lee let his offensive line know that it would have to do better.
Just two weeks later the Warriors had the opportunity to show that they had received their coach’s message when unbeaten and top seeded KP hosted the Bombardiers in the first round of the Div. 1A South tournament. KP amassed nearly 400 yards rushing on Friday night at Macktaz Field and rolled to a 51-21 victory to advance to the sectional semifinal.
“I was very upset with the linemen the last time we played that we didn’t control the line and made a lot of mistakes,” said Lee after the game. “In the end, when we needed to run the ball and kill the clock we were able to, so I’m always happy when that happens.”
Shane Frommer led the way for the Warriors with 173 yards on 21 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Senior John DeLuca also had a big night with 130 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns. Both runners had 100 yards by halftime.
It started well for the hosts, who took their first drive 71 yards in six plays for the opening score. Frommer had all but 14 of those yards and finished the possession with an 11-yard run on a toss to the left.
In the first meeting, Attleboro had no first downs in the first half, but on Friday the Bombardiers came out with a short passing game to try and counter KP’s pass rush and stay away from the run defense. For the most part, it was effective.
Attleboro answered right back with an 80-yard drive of its own. Tyler McGovern (24-37, 268 yards) went 5-6 on the drive and Elvin Sam came up with the big play to tie the game, coming down with a 28-yard pass between a pair of KP corners. Sam had three catches on that drive and would finish the game with 10 receptions for 140 yards.
“We had a game plan that was to throw the ball,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan, “and I think we were pretty effective. We knew we had to get it out quick, the fact is that we lost it up front. They do a good job; they wear you down.”
“Our first drive we went down and scored, feeling good,” said Lee, “and they come down and score and I’m like, oh crap it’s going to be a war.”
The score stayed the same until 4:46 left in the half when KP took back the lead. DeLuca took over at quarterback in a ‘wildcat’ set and he faked a handoff to Frommer to carry over the right tackle. The senior broke free and raced 85 yards for the go-ahead score that turned momentum back to the Warriors.
Lee said, “This time it looked like, uh-oh, if we don’t score then we could fall behind and then we’re forced to do some stuff we don’t want to do. Overall, just pleased to make enough plays on offense and defense to get it done.”
DeLuca capped off an 11-play, 76-yard drive with just 13 seconds before halftime. Again on a keeper, he went straight up the middle for a nine-yard score. The big play on the drive was a 29-yard completion from Brendan Lydon (3-8, 47 yards) to Tyler Jenesky on the near sideline to get the ball inside the Attleboro 10-yard-line.
Unlike the meeting two weeks ago, Attleboro did not let those late scores demoralize them and came out of halftime looking to make plays. Sam jumped a route and picked off Lydon to start the third quarter and bring energy back for the visitors.
Strachan said of Sam, “He’s the best athlete on our field and I thought tonight he was one of the best athletes out there period.”
McGovern hit Cam Furtado for 13 yards and the pair followed that up with a 35-yard connection for a touchdown that got Attleboro back into the game, temporarily. Frommer returned the ensuing kick 49 yards down to the Bombardiers 20. Four plays later and DeLuca got his third score of the night, this one from six yards, to push the lead back to 14.
Attleboro turned the ball over on downs at midfield on its next possession and KP took advantage with Giovanni Fernandez finishing off a 49-yard drive with a three-yard burst up the middle.
The Bombardiers did their best to stay in the game. McGovern tossed his third touchdown of the night on a great play-action pass to Steve Hamerski from five yards out with just 22 seconds left in the third. But, again KP had the answer with Frommer notching his second score on a three-yard carry.
“Nine (Sam) is a dude, 14 (Furtado) is a dude, the quarterback (McGovern) is a dude,” said Lee of Attleboro. “You play them two weeks [ago] and they learned from that, another reason why the playoff system sucks, but you have to get ready to go and play them. That is a good team.”
Fernandez added two points for KP with a sack of McGovern in the end zone on the next Attleboro possession and then Andrew Gelsomini broke a 46-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.
“We’re a young team and we’re cutting our teeth and learning our lessons,” said Strachan. “The future is bright.”
When asked if he was concerned that Attleboro may have found a strategy for attacking the KP defense, Lee said, “The competition is only going to get stronger and that’s obviously something we have to work on and I think for them to play us a couple weeks ago really helped. We’ll see what happens next week and how people attack us.”
Mansfield (8-0, 5-0) will host No. 5 seed Marshfield in the D1A South semifinal, after the Rams knocked Mansfield out of the tournament for the third straight season. It will be a rematch of the 2014 sectional final, which Marshfield won at Macktaz Field on its way to a state championship.