By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
TAUNTON, Mass. – King Philip’s offense scored early and often and built a big lead early and never looked back in 47-22 win over Taunton.
The Warriors brought the pressure early and Chris O’Neil came away with an interception on Taunton’s third play of the game. King Philip used nine plays to cover 57 yards — all on the ground — before junior Sean Garrity burst straight up the middle for a 10 yard touchdown and the Warriors went up 6-0 less than five minutes into the game.
It was more of the same in the first half as King Philip scored on every single possession in the first half. Defensively, the Warriors allowed Taunton to gain just 23 yards on their first five drives and had a pair of takeaways.
Taunton was forced to punt on its second drive and the Warriors took advantage of very favorable field position. Starting at the Taunton 36 yard, it only took KP five plays to find the end zone again. This drive, highlighted again by a long run from quarterback John DeLuca, was capped off when DeLuca hit senior Cory Lombardo out of the backfield. Lombardo caught the ball around the seven yard line and fought his way through three tackles and dove into the end zone. DeLuca’s keeper for the two point conversion made it 14-0 as time expired in the first quarter.
King Philip was able to add to its lead very early in the second quarter. A dropped snap from Taunton was recovered by Brett Mazur at the Taunton 24 yard line and on the first play, DeLuca threw a strike over the middle to junior Mike Mello for a touchdown to make it 20-0.
“I was very pleased with everything we did offensively,” KP head coach Brian Lee said. “I thought everybody played well, I really did, from the O-line to the backs and John too. And we made some good grabs which I was happy to see. Defensively we came up with some turnovers that we were looking for but we left some other ones out there. We’re certainly not happy with everything that happened defensively but in a tough season, we’re happy.”
A quick three and out gave the Warriors the ball back, this time at the Taunton 45 yard line. A four yard rush from Gio Fernandez preceded a 13 keeper from DeLuca and a 24 scamper from Garrity. DeLuca kept it himself and pushed it in from three yards out to make it 27-0 with 8:01 left in the second quarter.
“We tried to get after the quarterbacks as best we can,” Lee said of pressuring Taunton. “Covering the pass has been a little bit of a weak post for us and they saw that and came out with the idea to attack us but I think our guys have been getting better each week. We have a couple sophomores out there and they keep getting better.”
Six minutes later, Gio Fernandez capped an eight play, 59 yard drive with a run from five yards out to make it 34-0 with 1:59 left in the first half.
Taunton put together its best drive on its next series, going 62 yards on 10 plays in exactly 1:59.
Facing third and eight, Jason DaRosa picked up 14 yards to move the chains. Three plays later, sophomore quarterback Collin Hunter hit junior Adam McLaughlin on a hitch route and McLaughlin beat his defender and ran for a 35 yard gain to the 10 yard line. On fourth and goal from the six with just one second left, Hunter rolled away from pressure to the left and fired to an open Tanner Costa for the touchdown to make it 34-06 at halftime.
To start the second half, Taunton was able to limit KP to just three yards on its first two carries and put them in a third down situation. But sophomore Shane Frommer (70 yards) broke out for a 27 yard gain and a first down. On the next play, Brendan Lydon completed an 18 yard pass to Mello for a touchdown to make it 40-6.
Taunton also converted on its first drive of the second half. A third and five was turned into third and 10 after a false start but Hunter found Damion Theodule over the middle for a 20 yard pick up. Two plays later, Hunter connected with Costa on a screen play and he raced all the way for a 47 yard touchdown to make it 40-14.
For the seventh straight drive, KP was able to find the end zone. The Warriors went 12 plays and covered 66 yards, mostly on the back of Michael Conti (eight carries, 33 yards) and Lydon used a keeper to punch it in from a yard out.
“Their offense, they are just bigger, faster and stronger than us,” Taunton head coach Chris Greding said. “Consistently they are gaining six or seven yards on first down and that puts us in a hole. Our special teams just gave them excellent field position all game and I’ll take the blame on that and that’s certainly not taking anything away from KP and their offense. They aren’t going to trick you, they are going to run it right down your throat and that’s what they did. That’s a very tough squad they have over there, my hats off to them.”
Taunton had to punt but was able to get the ball back when Amir Rehim pounced on a fumble. The Tigers took advantage of that as Hunter hit Costa for a 39 yard gain to get to the 12 yard line. Three runs from Lazare Joseph pushed Taunton to the one and Hunter used the QB option to get it in from 1 yard and make it 47-22.
DeLuca was 2/3 throwing the ball but added 62 yards on the ground on five carries. Frommer, Fernandez and Garrity all were over 50 yards as well. For Taunton, Hunter was 8/23 for 150 yards with a pair of touchdowns while DaRosa had 48 yards on nine carries.
“I think we are very much improved and we continue to improve,” Lee said. “Shane Frommer came in tonight as a sophomore and gave us a little spark and I think he’s someone we might be able to go to more in the future.”
King Philip (3-2, 3-4) finishes in a three way tie in the Kelley-Rex and will make the playoffs in Division 2 South. As of publication of this recap, KP is seeded 5th according to the Boston Herald and would travel to #4 Mansfield. With games still to be played, that could change. Official seedings will be announced on Sunday and we will have an update on the website.
Taunton (0-5, 0-7) misses the playoffs and will match up with another team that missed the playoffs next week.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2014 Record: 4-7
2014 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Strachan
Key/Returning Players: Kyle Murphy, Sr., OT/DT, 6-4, 275 lbs.; Brendan Nunes, Sr., WR/CB, 6-0, 175 lbs.; Tyler McGovern, Jr., QB, 6-3, 190 lbs.; John Burns, Sr., FB/OLB, 5-9, 165 lbs.; Alex Silva, Sr., TE/DE, 5-11, 185 lbs.
Outlook: The Bombardiers come into this season hoping to regain some of the magic of their 2013 run to the Div. 1 South final and doing it while replacing last year’s starting backfield and leading receiver. The reason for optimism in Attleboro is the return of senior lineman Kyle Murphy, who has emerged as a legit FBS prospect and one of the top players on the line in the state. Head coach Mike Strachan told ESPNBoston.com, “He’s got very good feet for a kid that big. We’re looking for some great things from him this season.”
In addition, junior quarterback Tyler McGovern is back under center for his second season, after splitting time with Ross Killion in 2014. McGovern has the size at 6-foot-3 and also has the arm to be a major weapon in the offense and try to make up for some of the lost production from the graduating running backs. McGovern’s growth at QB will be crucial for Attleboro. Strachan said, “He’s got a very quick release, and he’s worked on his feet all offseason. We need him to help get us back to that level we were at two years ago.”
Brendan Nunes is one of the receivers that Attleboro is hoping can turn into a primary target along with senior tight end Alex Silva, although there are question marks about who can become the No. 1 back to take pressure off McGovern and the passing game.
Defense should be a strength for the Bombardiers, who bring back almost all of last year’s starters. Murphy can dominate the line of scrimmage and forces double teams and game plans that can open space for his teammates. John Burns and the linebacking corps will be hoping to take advantage of that extra room to make plays.
2014 Record: 5-6
2014 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Sidwell
Key/Returning Players: Ben Riggs SR. 6-3, 300,OL/DL; Joe Giacolone SR 6-2, 270, OL/DL; Nick Yelle SR. 5-9, 180, LB/RB; Luke Gordon SR. 6-1, 175, WR/DB; Sam Harrell SR. 6-0, 180, WR/DB; Jake Lyons JR. 5-10, 190, RB/DB; Tyler Gomes JR. 6-1, 210, FB/DE; Brad Jarosz JR QB; Will O’Reilly SR. WR/DB; Eddie Scannapieco WR/DB
Outlook: The Panthers come into 2015 lacking varsity experience in a lot of places, but with more depth at the skill positions and improved play at the line of scrimmage that has head coach Brad Sidwell entering his 20th season with hopes of getting Franklin into the tournament after back-to-back 5-6 seasons. He said, “Not a lot of experience, but many have been progressing through the sub varsity programs.[We] will play physical football.”
The Panthers will be starting a new quarterback this season with junior Brad Jarosz expected to take over under center and he will have plenty of weapons to use in Franklin’s typically up-tempo offense. Nick Yelle will be in the backfield along with Jake Lyons, while Sam Harrell, Will O’Reilly, Luke Gordon and Eddie Scannapieco are all back on the outside. The offensive line is improved, according to Sidwell, although it may lack depth in case of injuries. Ben Riggs and Joe Giacolone are two-way linemen that can be dominant on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, Franklin will hope that the skill position players continue to develop into strong players in the secondary, while counting on junior defensive end Tyler Gomes to continue his emergence as a strong presence in the pass rush. Franklin will be counting on the opening games against Arlington and Milford to prepare it for the battles to come in the Kelley-Rex Division.
Sidwell said, “Looking forward to working with this group, hard working and great attitude. Getting off to a good start and gaining confidence will be important.”
2014 Record: 10-1
2014 Finish: Reached D2 South final
Coach: Brian Lee
Key/Returning Players: John DeLuca, Jr. QB; Bill Dittrich, Sr. OL/DL; James Cooke, Sr. OL/DL; Cory Lombardo, Sr. LB; Nick Bernier Garzon, Sr. DL; Steven Eaton, Sr. RB; R.J. McCarthy, Sr. WR/DB, Giovanni Fernandez, Jr. RB
Outlook: King Philip is coming off its first outright league title and a trip to the Div. 2 South final where it gave eventual state champion Marshfield one of its toughest games of the season. The Warriors are a team based on ball control offense and hard-nosed defense and despite losing a strong core from last year’s squad, head coach Brian Lee will ensure that KP remains a tough team to play against even with a host of young players.
Quarterback John Deluca returns for his junior season, but without some of the weapons that were so prolific from last year including HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Mark Glebus and wideout Kyle Loewen. Senior running back Steven Eaton will take most of the carries and is hoping to develop some of the explosiveness that made Glebus such a weapon last year. Junior Gio Fernandez also saw some carries last year and is a load at running back, especially in short-yardage situations. Senior R.J. McCarthy is a player to watch at receiver.
The offensive and defensive lines remain a strength for KP with Bill Dittrich and James Cooke returning. Nick Bernier Garzon will also help out on the line, but the key to the defense is senior middle linebacker Cory Lombardo who will be the leader and continues the pattern of strong linebackers at KP.
If the offense can find a groove and the young players develop quickly, KP will have its sights set on a second straight Hockomock title. But, as Lee said, there are “a lot of rookies out there.”
2014 Record: 6-5
2014 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Redding
Key/Returning Players: Diogo Desousa, Jr. K/DE, 5-11, 182 lbs.; Connor Finerty, Sr. RB/LB, 5-11, 200 lbs.; Anthony DeGirolamo, Jr. QB/DB, 5-11, 165 lbs.; Ben Wisnieski, Sr. RB/DB, 5-10, 160 lbs.; Hunter Ferreira, Jr. WR/DB, 6-1, 185 lbs.; Brian Lynch, Jr. RB/DB, 5-8, 170 lbs.; Nick Krouskos, Jr. FB/LB, 5-9, 175 lbs.; Mike Arnold, Sr. TE/DE, 6-1, 205 lbs.; Josh Schafer, Jr. OL/DL, 6-2, 230 lbs.; Matt Kashtan, Sr. OG/NG, 5-8 195 lbs.; Joe Bukuras, Jr. RB/DB, 5-9, 160 lbs.; A.J. Gibbs, Jr. OL/DL, 5-11, 270 lbs.
Outlook: Mansfield enters the season with plenty of depth on both sides of the ball, as the Hornets try to regain the Kelley-Rex Division crown they lost to King Philip in an injury-plagued 2014 season. Head coach Mike Redding, entering his 28th year in charge, is expecting to learn quite a bit about his team with St. John’s Prep, Haverhill, KP, and Attleboro to start the season. Redding noted, “We will need to be hitting on all cylinders for those key games early.”
“Overall, we’re on the young side and a little undersized, but very talented at skill positions and we have very good overall team strength and good team chemistry and leadership,” said Redding.
Mansfield will be making a change under center with junior Anthony Girolamo taking over and his task will be made a little easier by the talented backfield of senior Connor Finerty and junior Brian Lynch, who is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign that saw him rush for eight touchdowns and more than 800 yards. In addition, the Hornets have talent on the edges with receivers Ben Budwey and Hunter Ferreira and athletic tight end Mike Arnold. Junior Josh Schafer will be a player to watch on the line.
Finerty headlines the defensive unit as the outside linebacker and leader on that side of the ball. He will be joined by Ferreira and Anthony Keefe on the outside with Nick Krouskos, Travis Sjoberg, and Nick Martin in the middle. The real strength of the defense could lie in the secondary with all four starters returning and plenty of depth behind them. Joe Bukuras and Connor Driscoll are the corners with Ben Budwey and Ben Wisnieski at safety. Special teams will also be strong with returning kicker Diogo DeSousa, who Redding calls “one of the best kickers” he has had in his time with the Hornets.
2014 Record: 8-3
2014 Finish: Reached D3 Southwest Quarterfinal
Coach: Don Johnson
Key/Returning Players: Connor Flynn, Sr. K/RB/LB; Nick Morrison, Sr. RB/LB; Bobby Mylod, Jr. RB/LB; Nick Rajotte, Jr. RB/DB; Brodey Barr, Sr. QB/DB; Kyle McCarthy, Jr. QB/DB; Ridge Olsen, Sr. WR/DB; Kyle Gaumond, Sr. WR/DB; Patrick Johnson, Sr. RB/WR/DB; Andy Katch, Sr. OL/DL; Joe Flaherty, Sr. OL; Brendan Nally, Jr. OL; Alex Dion, Sr. OL; Josh Morrison, Sr. OL/DL; Sam Morrison, Sr. OL/DL; Tom Reynolds, Jr. OL/DL; Davon Andrade, Sr. TE/DL
Outlook: After a stunning home loss to Medfield in the opening round of the Div. 3 Southwest playoffs last fall, North Attleboro returns a number of skill position players with hopes of making a run at the Kelley-Rex Division title.
The backfield is loaded with seniors Connor Flynn, who averaged 12.1 yards per carry until a wrist injury kept him out, and Nick Morrison providing steady hands and downhill running while being pushed by the explosive duo of juniors Nick Rajotte and Bobby Mylod, who combined for 13 touchdowns last season. Head coach Don Johnson said of his running backs, “All four backs are versatile and can play multiple positions.” On the outside, North boasts plenty of size at wideout with 6-foot-5 senior Ridge Olsen on one side and Kyle Gaumond on the other.
The biggest question mark is who will be getting the ball to those skill position players? There has been a three-way battle at quarterback during the preseason between senior Brodey Barr, who saw some time under center last year and was primarily a runner, athletic junior Kyle McCarthy, and sophomore Chad Peterson. Johnson explained, “We could use them all, but it might depend more upon how things shake out at other positions, particularly on defense. All three are competitive athletes that can help us in other spots.”
Defensively, North has loads of depth on the line if not loads of experience. Senior twins Josh and Sam Morrison will split time along with senior Davon Andrade and senior defensive tackle Andy Katch, The linebacking corps features Mylod in the middle with Flynn and Nick Morrison on the outside. In the secondary, Gaumond, Barr, Rajotte, Olsen, McCarthy, and Patrick Johnson will all be in the mix depending on match-ups.
2014 Record: 2-9
2014 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chris Greding
Key/Returning Players: Brian Cherenfant, RB/DB; Jake Norberto, OL; Santiago Lopez, OL; Jason DaRosa, RB; Damion Theodule, DB; Matt Grey, LB; Jared Williams, DL; Tanner Costa, RB/DB; Lazare Joseph, RB; Adam McLaughlin, WR; Connor Briggs, OL; Nick Brown, DL; Sylvester English, DL; Zakeem Harrow, DL; John Chretien, LB; Breven Walker, DB; Amir Rehim, LB
Outlook: The Tigers are coming off a 2-9 season and will have a new quarterback under center, but head coach Chris Greding is counting on his depth on the line and at the skill positions and overall team speed to get Taunton in the mix in the division.
Senior Brain Cherenfant is one of the fastest players in the league and gives the Tigers a weapon both on offense and in special teams. He will be joined in the backfield by Jason DeRosa, Lazare Joseph and Coyle transfer Tanner Costa, giving Taunton a number of weapons. Adam McLaughlin will be a player to watch at wideout.
The line has also been strengthened with Jake Norberto and Santiago Lopez coming back on the offensive side of the ball and Jared Williams on defense. Connor Briggs will be another player to keep an eye on opening holes for the backs, while the defensive line is bolstered by Florida transfer Sylvester English, Texas transfer Nick Brown, and Boston transfer Zakeem Harrow. The linebacking corps includes Matt Grey and John Chretien, while Breven Walker, Cherenfant and Costa will all play bog roles in the secondary.