As King Philip landed punch after punch in its D1A South Final matchup with Bridgewater-Raynham, some in the fourth quarter even appearing to be knockouts blows, the sixth-seeded Trojans continued to land counterpunch after counterpunch.
But in the end, the Warriors made the plays they needed to — plays that make a team special — as they held off the Trojans, 33-28, to claim the D1A South Sectional Title and book the program’s first ever trip to a state championship.
King Philip (10-0) will take on Reading (8-2), winners of the North Sectional, in the D1A State Championship game on December 3rd at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s out of control, so out of control,” said KP head coach Brian Lee on his team making its first trip to a Super Bowl. “It’s a special group of kids. People will ask me if this is the best team I’ve ever had…when you line it all up, it’s not. But it comes down to knowing how to make plays at the end, not give up, not get rattled. They’re special, that’s what they do. I’m so proud of them.”
The Warriors set the offensive tone early, marching 80 yards on 18 plays, taking up 9:40 of the first quarter, punctuated by a 5 yard keeper from Brendan Lydon to go up 6-0.
But it was the plays in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference.
An early fourth quarter touchdown from Shane Frommer (30 carries, 188 yards, two touchdowns) on a 4 yard run gave the Warriors a slim 27-21 lead after a blocked PAT.
As Bridgewater-Raynham tried to land its counter punch, as it had done multiple times throughout the game, the Warriors’ defense came up big. The Trojans used six straight running plays to advance into KP territory but elected to go for it from there. Three straight incompletions – the last on fourth down – forced a turnover on downs.
Fourteen yards from Frommer and then 16 yards from Gio Fernandez (seven carries, 54 yards) helped KP move the chains quickly on back to back plays. But three straight runs totaled just four yards, forcing KP into a 4th and 6 from the BR 24 yard line and 5:04 left in the game.
“[On that fourth down] we called 10 different plays and I said ‘You know what? I just want Shane to touch the ball, he’ll make the play for us’ and he did.”
Frommer sure did, taking a handoff to the right side and bouncing outside to find some space, the run going for 17 yards and a first down. Two plays later, Lydon used a sneak to get in from a yard out to put KP up 33-21 with 3:48 left.
“He is a dude,” Lee said of Frommer. “This program has been established by trying to find a tailback we can build around. It was going to be Sean, it was his turn, and we would use Shane as a back up guy. Shane’s just a killer out there, in a positive sense of the word. He’s such a winner, so much heart when he runs.”
“This is the most amazing day of my life,” an elated Frommer said after the game. “We practice every day for this. It started in June with Gut Camp – we wake up at five in morning every day just to work out. I can’t even explain it right now, I’m so pumped.
“It’s not just me, it’s the hoggies up front. They do everything for me. If they don’t do their job, I can’t do mine. Garrity is such a great back, when he went down I knew I had to step up.”
Frommer was quick to credit linemen Daniel Loewen, Paul Macrina, Nate Gudas, Max Penner and Carl Sanuth. Fernandez and fellow fullback Alex Olsen (six carries, 29 yards) also provided key blocks, as well as tight end Brett Mazur.
Bridgewater-Raynham made the game interesting, quickly moving into KP territory. It looked as though the Warriors made the stop on fourth down, but a holding call kept the Trojans’ drive alive. Quarterback Corey Sullivan connected with Shawn Noel Jr. (197 all purpose yards) on a screen for a 23 yard touchdown to bring B-R within 33-28 with 2:52 left.
Liam Cullagh swallowed up the onside kick attempt from B-R but KP’s offense stalled for just the second time in the game, forcing the Warriors to punt with a minute to play.
With no timeouts and 68 yards to travel, B-R had to throw the ball but for the second straight week, Andrew Dittrich came away with the game-sealing interception.
“That’s why I say the team is special, because when you’re used to making the big plays, and not giving up the big plays like that, when they’re happening – we scored, they scored, we scored, they block the PAT – just every time it felt like it was going to slip away or there’s a weird call against us, it’s just about the next play,” Lee said. “And it’s a hard thing to coach, I wish I could take credit for it but it’s really the guys and my assistant coaches, they do such a good job.
“Here’s what this team has taught me, and I tried to teach it to them as well,” Lee said. “It’s funny, I’m learning it from them. I believed we were going to get a pick. As soon as that ball was in the air, I knew we were coming down with it.”
Bryce Shaw’s touchdown early in the second quarter put B-R ahead 7-6 but KP responded swiftly with John DeLuca (four carries, 20 yards) bursting up the middle for a 12 yard touchdown. A two-point conversion from Frommer put KP up 14-7 with 4:04 left in the second quarter.
Noel Jr. scored on the second play of the second half to bring the Trojans level but KP answered once again with Frommer diving in from 5 yards out. Noel Jr. once again scored to tie the game at 21-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
In its first Super Bowl appearance, King Philip will take on a Reading squad that shutout Malden Catholic in the first round, shutout Chelmsford in the second round and beat top-seeded Lincoln-Sudbury 21-7 in the Sectional Final. The time of the Super Bowl is still to be announced.