Milford Avoids Attleboro Comeback, Earns First Win

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Milford junior Carter Scudo (11) caught the game-winning touchdown with just 1:34 remaining in a 20-13 victory for the Hawks. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MILFORD, Mass. – There are different ways that a team can show resiliency. Last week, Milford kept fighting its way back on the road, not allowing Franklin to feel comfortable with its lead until the final whistle. On Saturday afternoon in its home opener against Attleboro, Milford was on the brink of putting the game away in the fourth quarter only to see Attleboro snatch momentum and tie the game.

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Rather than allowing the game to slip out of their grasp, the Hawks overcame turnovers and penalties and pulled out a victory. Senior Colby Pires hit junior Carter Scudo for a 21-yard touchdown with only 1:34 remaining and Milford escaped with a 20-13 victory.

“Like I told you last week, these kids don’t quit,” said Milford coach Anthony Vizakis. “They play 48 minutes of football. We practice that way, we train them that way, and the results are speaking for themselves. Our kids battle. They don’t quit.”

The Bombardiers were playing their first game of the season and struggled throughout the second half with cramps. Junior Michael Strachan (10 carries, 53 yards) was forced to leave the game due to dehydration, while senior Isaac Gudiel and junior Justin Daniels missed portions of the game on both sides of the ball.

“This was our first real test,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “You don’t get this type of action [in scrimmages] and unfortunately we need to get in better condition. We had too many cramps and that definitely hurt us.”

Trailing 13-6 in the fourth quarter and with its bench struggling to maintain any energy, Attleboro came up with a huge momentum-shifting play. Milford got the ball down to the Bombardiers’ 13 but the defense managed to pry the ball loose from running back Luke Rosa (19 carries, 106 yards). One play later, senior Ethan Cameron (four catches, 136 yards) beat man coverage on the outside and his classmate Jason Weir hit him in stride for a 67-yard touchdown.

Out of seemingly nowhere, just when it looked like Milford was about to put the game out of reach, the game was tied 13-13 and the visitors were filled with confidence.

After partially blocking a punt, Attleboro got the ball at the Hawks 45-yard-line, but a CJ Cerrella sack (one of five sacks by the Hawks) stalled the Attleboro possession and Xavier Hilton returned the ensuing punt 31 yards out to midfield.

“They played man the whole game and they locked up and felt like they were going to bring it and they did,” said Strachan about the Milford pass rush. “I thought we had some success running the ball early and that was our intent but then we got banged up.”

Pires (25-of-41, 266 yards) swung a pass to Max Martin, who hurdled a Bombardier and drew a personal foul penalty for it. Then a 15-yard completion to Matt Varteresian was wiped away by a holding penalty. The third play was a catch by Hilton over the middle but he couldn’t hold on to the ball and Cameron recovered the fumble.

“Fumbles and penalties are going to be our biggest corrections,” said Vizakis. “Those are mistakes that can cost you games. They took advantage of it, but we’ll get those mistakes corrected.”

Again the Milford defense held and recovered possession. A short punt gave the Hawks the ball at the 37. Pires hit Scudo (seven catches, 81 yards) for nine yards, then for six, and then he again found the junior receiver open in the heart of the Attleboro secondary and he took it in for the game-winning score.

Attleboro had one last chance and converted a fourth and 18 (caused by a Herrick Louis sack) as Weir (8-of-21, 188 yards) found Cameron open in the seam for 24 yards. But, after yet another sack (this one by Rosa), Evan “Beav” Hazard picked off Weir’s final pass to seal the win.

Strachan said, “We’re young and we have to build off it. We’re really disappointed. We thought this was a game that we had a legitimate shot to win and I think we did a lot of good things and we need to build off that.”

The visitors grabbed the lead on their first drive. Weir connected with Daniels on a 30-yard pass down the sideline to get into Milford territory and from there Strachan took over. The bruising junior running back broke runs of 13 and 16 yards to get inside the five. He punched it in from one-yard out to make it 6-0.

Following a Scudo interception at their own 11, the Hawks marched 89 yards on 12 plays, including a crucial fourth down pass interference call, to grab their first lead. Gudiel stuffed Rosa for a four-yard loss on a swing pass, but then Rosa came right back with a 16-yard gain and a five-yard touchdown up the gut.

On its next possession, Milford extended the lead. Pires hooked up with Martin for a 22-yard pass to start the drive, but then back-to-back holding calls created a first and 38. On third and 18, Pires found Martin again for 20 yards and the first down to the Attleboro 13. Martin (seven catches, 105 yards) was drilled by Nolan Jaeger on the play, the second time that happened in as many drives, and Vizakis rewarded Martin by giving him the ball at the one and he scored on a jet sweep.

“A testament to his toughness,” Vazakis explained. “We knew when we were down there that there’s one guy that needed to finish the drive and it was Max. I’m so proud of him, offensively and defensively. Just a tough, selfless individual.”

Milford (1-1) will get a week off before opening its league campaign at Sharon. Attleboro (0-1) will have its home opener next Saturday afternoon against Dartmouth.

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Franklin Wins Aerial Dual Against Milford in Opener

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Franklin senior quarterback Thomas Gasbarro (14) eludes the Milford pass rush in the second half of the Panthers’ season-opening 34-27 victory. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Graduation hit both teams’ offense hard. One team lost its all-star, dual-threat quarterback, and the other lost the bulk of its starting receivers, but on Thursday night at Pisini Field both Franklin and Milford showed that they have plenty of firepower remaining.

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The two teams combined for 61 points, including 40 in the second half alone, and more than 600 yards through the air. In the end, the Panthers had just enough to hold off the Hawks and pull out a 34-27 victory in the season opener for both programs.

Franklin quarterback Thomas Gasbarro completed 70 percent of his passes (21-of-30) and threw for 293 yard and three touchdowns, while Milford senior Colby Pires completed 57 percent of his throws (12-of-21) for 325 yards and three scores of his own.

It didn’t take the hosts long to get into sync. On its first possession, starting at the Milford 46, Gasbarro hit Jack Nally for an eight-yard completion and then on the second play from scrimmage hit Jake Davis in stride down the far sideline. The senior receiver dove from several yards out and just snuck inside the pylon for a 7-0 lead.

“They’ve got a great connection,” Franklin coach Eian Bain said of Gasbarro and Davis. “Jake is such a terrific athlete and I think that shows in lacrosse and football. Tommy is just a grinder. I don’t think I’ve seen a tougher performance out of a QB. Milford was real creative with their pressures and their scheme defensively. Tommy stood in and he was getting hit on some of those throws.”

Milford’s defense came through with a big stand on Franklin’s next possession. Luke Rosa sacked Gasbarro on fourth and one from the Hawks 29. Milford got the ball and took only five plays to go downfield and tie it. Pires connected with Carter Scudo (four catches for 151 yards) on a 39-yard completion to get to the Franklin 15 and Rosa (16 carries, 87 yards) punched it from there.

On its first drive of the second quarter, Franklin regained the advantage. Gasbarro spread the ball around on the possession, hitting Ben Greco, Owen Palmieri, and Davis. It was Nally that got into the end zone, as Gasbarro threaded the needle on a pass to the front stick, getting the ball just over the corner to make it 14-7.

The Franklin defense held onto the lead with a pair of red zone stops. First, the Panthers were able to cut Pires a yard short on fourth and 11 from the 21 and then, following a punt that gave Milford the ball back in great field position, the Hawks got as close as the six only for Austin Jordan to end the half with a sack of Pires.

Franklin nearly extended its lead on the first drive of the third quarter, but Maxwell Martin made a great play to rip the ball out of the hands of Matt Lazarek for an interception in the end zone. Milford moved the ball out to midfield but there was controversy as the ball came loose on a jet sweep and Franklin recovered. The Hawks claimed it was a pass, not a hand-off, but the officials ruled it a fumble and the Panthers took over.

It became a bigger decision eight plays later when the Panthers punched it in for a two-score lead. Again, it was Gasbarro to Davis (eight catches, 166 yards), matching the receiver’s jersey number with a 23-yard strike. Although the extra point was no good after a low snap, the Panthers led 20-7.

That margin lasted about two minutes. On third and eight from his own 16, Pires found Scudo, who broke free of a tackle and got 28 yards. Then Pires slipped a pass to Dan Farrell over the middle and he found a seam for a 56-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

Fourteen seconds later, the stunned home crowd was right back on its feet.

On the ensuing kick, senior Cole Lakatos, a transfer from Maryland, stepped up to grab the bouncing ball at the 27, found a hole on the left side, and raced 73 yards for his first Franklin touchdown. “Lakatos is brand new, but he’s a football dude and football dudes can play,” said Bain.

While a special teams score could’ve been a beak breaker, the Hawks refused to go away quietly. A 10-play, 78-yard drive got them back within one score. Rosa set up the eventual score with a 22-yard burst down to the Franklin 15. Three plays and one penalty later, on third and 21, Pires threw one up for Scudo on the near sideline and the junior managed to come down with it just in bounds to make it 27-20.

“He’s electric,” Milford coach Anthony Vizakis said of Scudo. “He’s got the speed, he’s got the hands, and we’re really excited to see what he’s going to do.”

When asked if he was surprised at how quickly Pires has gelled with a new set of receivers, Vizakis replied, “They’ve been working all summer. He’s got those guys in the morning working and they’re doing extra stuff after practice, so it didn’t really surprise me. I think we’re only going to get better from here.”

The game settled down for a couple minutes as the teams managed to go just about eight minutes without getting into the end zone. Franklin appeared to put the game away with a 11-play, 71-yard drive that chewed up several minutes off the clock. Sophomore Mack Gulla opened his account for the Panthers when he burst through the line for a four-yard score.

Gasbarro showed off his ability to make plays on the run, keeping a couple of plays alive, taking hits, and managing to find open receivers to keep the drive alive.

“We try to work the scramble drill when we can, but a lot of that is just natural,” said Bain. “He did one that he found Jake Davis near the end there and I’m thinking we’re getting the sack and maybe we’re calling something safe on the next call and punting the ball.”

It seemed like the game was finally out of reach, but appearances can be deceiving. Milford came right back down the field, going 80 yards in only two plays, to make it a one-score game again and give themselves a shot at an onside kick. Pires connected with Scudo for 58 yards to get things started and then with Matt Varteresian for 22 and the score.

“Our kids don’t quit,” said Vizakis. “They play right to the end. We’re training them to play 48 minutes of football now and they played every single play. I’m really proud of the way that they played.”

Franklin managed to collect the onside kick with two minutes left, run out the clock, and finally take a breath.

The Panthers (1-0) will travel to Andover next Saturday, while Milford (0-1) will host Attleboro.

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Football: 2019 Davenport Division Preview

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Stoughton’s Christopher Ais carries the ball after hauling in a pass in the second half against Canton on Thanksgiving. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Davenport Football Preview

Canton

2018 Record: 8-3
2018 Finish: Reached D5 South Final (Davenport Division Champions)
Coach: Dave Bohane

Key/Returning Players: Robbie Gallery, Sr., SE/LB; Johnny Hagan, Sr., QB; Kyle Fitzgerald, Sr., HB/FS; Matt Connolly, Jr., OL/DL; Gersom Rivera, Sr., RB/HB; Lucas Bryant, Sr., OL/DL; Jack Connolly, Sr., OL/DL; James Murphy, Sr., LB; Derrell Brown, Sr., OL/DL; Owen Lehane, Sr., OL/LB; David Allen, Sr., SE/DB; Jace Emma, Sr., SE/DB; Cam Sanchez, Jr., HB/DB;

Outlook:
Canton had its best season in recent memory a year ago, but the 2019 squad is aiming to take it one step further.

With starters back at almost every position, Canton is aiming to defend its Davenport division title and get back to the sectional final for the second straight season. Johnny Hagan is back under center this season and has all of his weapons back. The Bulldogs ran a mix of Wing-T and spread offense a year ago so Hagan is comfortable running whatever is needed this year. Kyle Fitzgerald, Gersom Rivera, and Cam Sanchez are all talented backs that can help grind down opposing defenses while Hagan makes a lot of plays with his feet as well. Jace Emma was one of Hagan’s favorite targets last year and he will be joined by David Allen as options in the passing game. The offensive line will be anchored by senior Jack Connolly, who missed a good amount of last season with an injury. Matt Connolly, Derrell Brown, and Lucas Bryant return to the line as well while Carson Campbell and Brandon Baran are in the mix for the final spot.

A lot of the same names will make plays on the defensive end as well with Jack Connolly and Matt Connolly teaming up with Nnamdi Onyemelukwe to provide size on the line. The strength of the defense will once again be with the linebackers as the Bulldogs have James Murphy back in the middle alongside junior Lucas Ragusa. Owen Lehane and Robbie Gallery both had strong seasons coming from the outside. The entire secondary is back for the Bulldogs with Rivera and Sanchez handle the corners and Fitzgerald and Allen provide physicality from the safety spots. And for special teams, Lehane handles kicking duties, Allen returns as the punter, and Rivera and Fitzgerald handle return duties. The Bulldogs will look to build some depth with so many two-way players in the lineup.

“We have a lot of experience with a lot of guys that have played at this level, and we had the playoff run so that should definitely help us down the road,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “We are focused on Dighton-Rehoboth, focusing on one game at a time. We have a lot of competitors that don’t quit.”

Foxboro

2018 Record: 5-6
2018 Finish: Reached D5 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Jack Martinelli

Key/Returning Players: Anton George, Sr., DL; Mike Sheehan, Sr., LB; Brian Derba, Sr., WR/DB; Shayne Kerrigan, Sr., DB; Michael Devlin, Sr., DB; Zach Jenkins, Sr., OG; Aidan Dow, Sr., OG; Austin Read, Sr., DT; Elijah Lewis, Sr., SE; Ryan Hughes, Sr., SE;

Outlook:
Foxboro’s biggest win of the season came in its final game, a thrilling overtime win over rival Mansfield at Fenway Park two days before Thanksgiving. If the Warriors are able to carry any of that momentum into the 2019 season, Foxboro will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport division title.

The Warriors return a good amount of talent from last year but will need to find a replacement for Liam Foley, who came on strong at the end of last season. Senior Shayne Kerrigan and junior Cam Prescott have both taken reps this preseason so longtime coach Jack Martinelli and his staff will have two good options to work with under center. Last year’s leading rusher Mike Luong also graduated so there will be an opportunity for someone to take on carries out of the backfield. The Warriors have good skill options in Brian Derba (three touchdown catches last year) and split ends Elijah Lewis and Ryan Hughes. Foxboro has some experience on the line as well as Zach Jenkins and Aidan Dow are both returning starters at the guard position.

Foxboro’s defense has returning players at all three levels so the Warriors will likely rely on that side of the ball, especially early on against two strong non-league foes. Anton George, a HockomockSports Hock 5 selection for defensive line, is back and will be a force to deal with for opponents. Austin Read will be key in Foxboro’s run defense from the defensive tackle spot. Mike Sheehan returns to anchor the linebackers group after a standout junior season. The secondary should be one of the top units in the league with a lot of experienced playmakers. Derba and Kerrigan made a lot of plays defensively last year and Michael Devlin could be poised for a big year for the Warriors.

“With a challenging scrimmage schedule and formidable non-league opponents, we should be prepared for the Hock grind,” Martinelli said “We have several key components returning to make this possible, but it’s one game at a time.”

Milford

2018 Record: 6-5
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Anthony Vizakis

Key/Returning Players: Colby Pires, Sr., QB; Luke Rosa, Sr., RB/LB; CJ Cerrella, Sr., RB/LB; Nick Yohn, Jr., OL/DL; Dom Schofield, Jr., OL/DL; Mario Lee, Jr., OL/DL; Carter Scudo, Jr., WB/DB; Dom Stallbaum, Jr., OL/DL; Max Martin, Jr., WR/CB; Matt Varteresian, Jr., WR/DB; Herrick Louis, Jr., WR/LB; Kevin O’Connor, Jr., WR/LB; Xavier Hilton, Sr., WR/DB;

Outlook:
Milford just missed out on the playoffs last season but the 2019 Scarlet Hawks are determined to get back to postseason play.

There is a lot of experience on both sides of the ball, and maybe most importantly, at key positions both offensively and defensively. The Hawks have Colby Pires back at quarterback after a big junior season that saw him toss 22 touchdowns, second most in the Hockomock League. But the challenge will be developing chemistry with a brand new set of receivers. Brendan White (12), Sean Lehane (5), and Shapel Feaster (5) all graduated so Milford is looking for new names to step up and make plays offensively. Junior Carter Scudo is a terrific athlete and will be one of the top options while Max Martin, Matt Varteresian, Herrick Louis, Kevin O’Connor, and Xavier Hilton are all battling to get reps on the field. Milford does bring back its leading rusher in Luke Rosa (seven rushing touchdowns), a very powerful back that will help the Hawks pound the ball. Juniors Nick Yohn, Dom Schofield, Mario Lee, and Dom Stallbaum provide a physical yet athletic offensive line.

The linebackers will be the heart of the Hawks’ defense this season. CJ Cerrella had a breakout junior year and will be on the top linebackers in the Hockomock League this season. He will be joined by Rosa, Louis, and O’Connor. A lot of the offensive line will see action on the defensive side of the ball as well while Scudo returns as a top defensive back at the safety position. Look for Martin, Varteresian, and Hilton to factor into the secondary as well for Milford this season.

“We have a very focused, determined, and excited team this season,” said head coach Anthony Vizakis. “They are a hard working group of guys with their eyes on one goal, one mission, and they are determined to do it together.”




North Attleboro

2018 Record: 8-3 (Davenport Division Champions)
2018 Finish: Reached D3 South Semifinals
Coach: Don Johnson

Key/Returning Players: Ethan Friberg, Sr., TE/DE; John Kummer, Sr., OL/DL; Tom O’Neill, Sr., RB/LB; Ethan Mottinger, Sr., OL/DL; Matt Penta, Jr., QB/DB; Trevor Hewett, Sr., OL/DL; Montrel Jackson, Sr., OL/DL; Russell Dunlap, Sr., SE/DB; Owen Harding, Sr., TE/LB; Duane Bryant, Sr., RB/LB; Tyler DeMattio, So., QB/K;

Outlook:
The Rocketeers have won four straight league titles, the last three in the Davenport division, and will be looking to make it five straight this year.

If North Attleboro does make it five straight, they will need some new players to step up into new roles to do so. The Big Red graduated a lot of talent in almost every position but the Rocketeers are a program that doesn’t rebuild, they reload. The strength of the offensive will start with the offensive line as there are three returning starters. Ethan Mottinger (6’6, 294), who committed to UMass over the offseason, and John Kummer (5’11, 256) man the tackle positions while Ethan Friberg (6’5, 252) adds additional protection from the tight end position. Senior Casey Poirier, junior Matt Penta, and sophomore Tyler DeMattio are locked in a healthy battle at quarterback with each bringing a unique skill set to the offense. North lost almost all of its skill position players but there are a variety of versatile junior backs battling for time. Friberg, Russell Dunlap, and Robbie Donovan will be options in the passing game.

The strong suit of the Rocketeers’ defense will be in the front seven with several returning lineman and senior captain Tom O’Neill anchoring the linebackers. Friberg will be on one end while Montrel Jackson will see time at the other defensive end position. Kummer is joined by Trevor Hewett at defensive tackle to give North a strong, experienced defensive line. Owen Harding and Jacob Silva are in the mix to join O’Neill at linebacker while North will look for some new names to step up in its secondary alongside Jared and Matt Penta. DeMattio returns as the kicker after a standout freshmen campaign (32-for-35 PAT, 3-for-4 field goals).

“We will need to find a way to stay healthy and quickly develop some depth,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “With the inexperience in the skill positions, we expect there to be some early growing pains, but we are hopeful that the great attitude and work ethic that has been displayed in the preseason will help us overcome the lack of experience.”

Sharon

2018 Record: 3-8
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Morse

Key/Returning Players: Jaden Williams Thomas, Sr., OL/DL; Alec Filipkowski, Sr., WR/DB; John Saab, Sr., RB/LB; Nico Marrero, Jr., RB/LB; Ike Ogbonnanze, Jr., TE/LB; Kiran Chandrasekaran, Jr., QB; Owen Conway, Jr., WR/DB; Shea Letendre, Jr., OL/DL;

Outlook:
Sharon might not have as many players as some of the other programs in the league and might not match up in terms of size, but the Eagles have plenty of fight and are looking to showcase that this year.

The Eagles are going to look to capitalize on their team speed this year. Junior Nic Morrero was strong on both sides of the ball last season and will likely feature in the backfield this season for the Eagles. John Saab is another returning play that should pick up carries for the Eagles this year. Junior Kiran Chadrasekaran looks set to take over under center for the Eagles and will have a couple of experienced players to work with in senior receiver Alec Filipkowski and junior tight end Ike Ogbonnanze while junior receiver Owen Conway will likely see an expanded role this season.

Senior Jaden Williams-Thomas returns to anchor both the offensive and defensive lines and will be joined by junior Shea Letendre. Williams-Thomas will handle defensive tackle duties and should be a big part of the Eagles’ defense this year. Marrero anchors the linebackers alongside Saab and Ogbonnanze while Filipkowski and Conway will see time in the secondary.

“We have a great group of relentless players that have the right attitude and understand that they have a ton to prove,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.

Stoughton

2018 Record: 4-7
2015 Finish: Reached D3 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Greg Burke

Key/Returning Players: Anthony Pizzano, Sr., TE/DB; Clayton Rahaman, Sr., QB/DB; David Peters, Sr., WR/DB; Oluwole Fabikun, Sr., OL/DL; Jaden McCall, Sr., OL/DL; Carlvin LaGuerre, Sr., OL/DL; Jerry Brisson, Sr., OL/DL; Kevlen Rodrigues, Sr., OL/DL; Christopher Ais, Jr., RB/LB; Christian Ais, Jr., RB/LB; Christian Georges, Jr., HB/LB; John Burke, Jr., QB/DB;

Outlook:
Stoughton didn’t have the season it wanted in terms of record, but the Black Knights were competitive in just about every game last year and are hoping to get back in the hunt for the Davenport crown this year.

Despite finishing 4-7, Stoughton beat both Davenport champions in North Attleboro (21-10) and Canton (28-7 on Thanksgiving) during the year. If the Black Knights are able to string together those type of performances throughout the year, they will definitely be competing for their first division crown since 2015. Offensively, Stoughton has a good battle at quarterback with junior John Burke and senior Clayton Rahaman. Both saw time last year so head coach Greg Burke has two experienced options to start under center. The offensive line should be a strength for Stoughton with a good group of seniors that includes Oluwole Fabikun, Jaden McCall, Carlvin LaGuerre, and Jerry Brisson. Having a strong and experienced line will set things up nicely for the Black Knights strong run game, which will feature Savion Scott, Christopher Ais, and Christian Ais. Tight end Anthony Pizzano, junior Jake Queeney, and track star David Peters will provide options in the pass game.

Stoughton is often known for its defense and will be looking for that to continue during the 2019 season. Kelven Rodrigues will be a big part of the defensive line for the Black Knights, joined by Brisson, LaGuerre, and Fabikun. Georges had a very strong season on the end last season but will mostly line up as a linebacker this year, alongside Scott and Christopher Ais. Stoughton will have a hard hitting secondary once again this season with Burke, Pizzano, Christian Ais and Kamari Grant all likely to see time.

“We hope to stay healthy and be competitive in the league, all of our athletes improved their strength and conditioning,” Burke said. “We have many juniors also playing and will be a big part of the team. We will need help from all players and try to improve depth.”

Milford, Taunton Announce New Thanksgiving Rivalry

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Taunton and Milford announced their football programs will begin a new Thanksgiving Day rivalry starting in 2020. (Ryan Lanigan & Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
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The two newest members of the Hockomock League are set to begin the league’s newest rivalry. Milford and Taunton, who both joined the Hock for the 2012-2013 season, announced a new and permanent Thanksgiving Day Football matchup that will begin in 2020 in a joint statement released last week.

The Scarlet Hawks and Tigers are currently the only two teams in the league that do not play another league opponent on the holiday.

“We’re excited to have a new Thanksgiving opponent that is also apart of the Hockomock League,” said Taunton football coach Brad Sidwell. “We’re excited for the kids moving forward and to create a new rivalry. We’re looking forward for it to continue for a long time.

“It’s good that all the teams in the league are playing each other on Thanksgiving.”

Taunton football played crosstown city rival Coyle & Cassidy for 88 years (with a break from 1981-1996) before the Warriors ended “The Game” this past fall due to low numbers in the program. Coyle was unable to provide sub-varsity games over the past couple of seasons according to the Taunton Gazette. The Tigers have dominated the varsity game over the past decade.

The Scarlet Hawks have had five different opponents on Turkey Day since leaving the Mid-Wach and joining the Hockomock League. Milford completed its long rivalry with Shrewsbury in 2012 (the football team played one final season in the Mid-Wach during the school’s first season in the Hock), had a two year series with Holy Name, swept Randolph in back-to-back years, and dominated KIPP Academy, 42-20, in 2017.

“That’s really what we’re excited about, starting a rivalry with Taunton and a rivalry that will stick,” said Milford coach Anthony Vizakis. “Its’ another Hock team so we get to keep it in the league. We look forward to playing Taunton for many years to come and we know it’s going to be competitive year in and year out.”

Milford began a new two year series with Maynard last season. The Hawks put on a dominating performance, winning 33-0 over Maynard, who entered the contest at 8-2 and were the top seed in the D6 Central playoffs. The Scarlet Hawks will wrap up that series this fall and begin its rivalry with Taunton on Thanksgiving in 2020. Taunton is without an opponent this season on the holiday.

While there isn’t a rich history between the programs yet, there are some connections. Vizakis coached under Sidwell for two years while at Franklin, and Sidwell played the Hawks for many years before they joined the Hockomock League.

On top of that, the two teams have met each August over the past three seasons for a preseason scrimmage.

Since both sides joined the league, they have met once on the gridiron. In 2015, the Tigers hosted the Hawks at Aleixo Stadium in a non-playoff game. Zach Lanzetta threw six touchdowns to lead Milford to a 49-30 win. Taunton quarterback Collin Hunter accounted for three scores, two in the air and one on the ground.

Below is the official release from the Milford and Taunton Athletic Departments:

Milford and Taunton are excited to announce a new and permanent Thanksgiving Day Football match-up that will begin in November of 2020. Taunton and Milford are the lone 2 teams of the 2 Hockomock League schools who do not currently play each other on Thanksgiving while the other 10 schools all play each other in long-standing Hockomock Thanksgiving Day rivalries. Milford has struggled to find a consistent Thanksgiving opponent since leaving the Mid-Wach League and joining the Hockomock League over 8 years ago while Taunton was recently informed by Coyle-Cassidy that their long-time Thanksgiving rivalry would be coming to a conclusion due to low numbers in the Coyle-Cassidy football program. Encouraged by the Hockomock League, the timing was therefore perfect for Milford and Taunton to merge to form a permanent agreement starting on Thanksgiving of 2020 and remaining T-Day opponents as long as Thanksgiving football remains viable and meaningful in Massachusetts. Taunton will have a sabbatical this Thanksgiving Day 2019 while Milford will finish their 2-year home and away agreement with Maynard and travel to Maynard in 2019 to close out that series. The host of the 2020 inaugural Taunton vs. Milford Thanksgiving football game is yet to be determined.

White, Milford Haul In Thanksgiving Win Over Maynard

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Milford senior Brendan White grabbed four touchdown passes and intercepted a Maynard pass as the Hawks pulled out a big Thanksgiving eve victory. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MILFORD, Mass. – Maynard got the ball to start Wednesday night’s Thanksgiving eve game and marched down the field behind quarterback Tommy Smith. The Tigers got the ball down to the Milford 25, but on third down Smith fired to the front corner of the end zone only to have sophomore defensive back Carter Scudo cut in front of the receiver, make the interception, and manage to keep a toe in bounds.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After a discussion between the officials, Scudo’s pick stood and the Hawks took over for the first time at their own one. Seventeen plays and 99 yards later, Milford had a lead that it would never relinquish.

Senior Brendan White (nine catches, 119 yards) closed out his football career with four touchdown catches and an interception and classmate Shapel Feaster added a punt return score, as Milford finished its season with a 33-0 victory over the Tigers in the first game of this new Thanksgiving rivalry.

The win ensured that Milford (6-5) ended its season with a winning record, closing out the year with six wins in its final seven games.

“It’s huge not just for the seniors, but for the program in general,” Milford coach Anthony Vizakis said after the game. “We have a lot of sophomores that played, we’ve got a lot of young juniors that played. All credit to the kids for being coachable and taking it one game at a time like we’ve talked about all year, and finishing strong.

“It’s not how you start, but how you finish and these kids finished strong.”

Following Scudo’s interception, Milford came out with its power look with senior QB Ryan Pearl and moved the ball out across the 10 before turning to its spread look and junior signal caller Colby Pires (19-30, 287 yards). On third and 13, Pires hit Sean Lehane (four catches, 56 yards) underneath the coverage and he burst forward for 19 and the first down.

After having a Lehane 65-yard touchdown called back because of a hold, Pires completed a third and 15 pass to Hugo Lopes (four catches, 101 yards) for 35 into Maynard territory. The Hawks marched down to the 20 where they faced fourth and one, but a false start backed them up five yards. Pearl caught the Tigers crowding the line of scrimmage against the Milford bunch set and hit White in the end zone for a 25-yard score.

“It was a definitely a momentum shift and our kids really fed off that,” said Vizakis about the turnaround from the interception to the go-ahead score. “Credit to the defense for the turnover and then our offense really clicking tonight. It was really just a great team win.”

Maynard had a long first drive, but the Milford defense settled in and limited the Tigers for the remainder of the game. Vizakis explained, “All night our defense just played fundamentally sound. They gang-tackled and I thought we were in the right positions at the right time. It was just a great team effort.”

After forcing a punt, Milford turned its second possession into another score. Pires connected with White to convert a pair of third downs, including a 23-yard completion on third and eight that got the ball down to the Maynard 23. Three plays later, Pires tossed his first touchdown of the night, hitting White one-on-one at the front corner of the end zone for a 20-yard score.

When asked what made Milford so successful on third down on Wednesday, Vizakis replied, “Execution, the kids executing their plays. We had a great week of practice and the seniors really had a big hand in the success we had not just tonight but the whole season.”

The Hawks forced a three and out but a booming punt pushed them back to their own 18 with less than a minute to play in the half. Pires hit Lopes across the middle for 57 yards and then Feaster for 16 to get into position for a Lehane kick. His 36-yard attempt appeared to sneak inside the left upright but was called no good and the score stayed 13-0 at halftime.

Milford wasted no time breaking the game wide open in the third quarter. Twice more the Hawks converted on third down, including a well-designed screen pass to Lopes that had the Maynard defense leaning to the strong side before throwing back across the grain for the first down. Pires found White on a receiver screen and he followed his blockers for the 14-yard touchdown.

Although the two-point conversion was denied by the Tigers, Milford had a 19-0 lead. The Hawks defense held again, forcing another three-and-out. Dominic Scholfield crushed another punt that forced Feaster all the way back to his own 18, but the senior got a good bounce and took off. He broke to his left and found a seam near the Milford bench, made a good cut back towards the hashmark, and raced for an 85-yard, back-breaking touchdown.

The teams traded turnovers on downs, but White got the ball back when he picked off Scholfield on Maynard’s attempted trick play. Milford came right back down and added to its lead. Luke Rosa (14 carries, 52 yards) had four carries and a catch to get the ball to the Milford 24. Pires and White connected for seven yards on fourth and two and then on the next play they hooked up again for 17 and a touchdown.

“The kid’s put the time and the effort in for four years and I’m just so proud of him ending that way,” Vaizakis said about White, who was named the team’s offensive MVP after the game. “It puts a great exclamation point on such a great career.”

Feaster capped the game with an interception to preserve the Hawks shutout and a strong finish to his football career and the Milford season. Junior Kevin Pyne took home the Tiger D’Amico Trophy for the team’s best lineman and senior Josh Ligor was named defensive MVP in a ceremony after the game.

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Milford Sneaks Out Win Against Stoughton in Finale

Milford football
Milford senior Brendan White (4) had an interception, a fumble recovery, and scored a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, as part of the Hawks’ win at Stoughton in the regular season finale. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – When the final whistle sounded at Stonehill College’s WB Mason Stadium, Milford had no idea whether or not it had done enough to secure a spot in the Div. 3 South playoffs but Hawks coach Anthony Vizakis was sure that they had done all they could on Friday night.

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“These kids never quit,” Vizakis said. “A couple of weeks ago the seniors took it upon themselves to take control of the ship and steer it and they’ve done a really good job of getting the team to where they wanted to go. I can’t say enough about that group right there.”

Milford closed out its regular season with a come from behind, 18-15 win at division rival Stoughton in a game that felt like the postseason for both teams. At the start of the night, unofficially, the Black Knights held the final spot in the South bracket with Milford a spot behind and now both teams will have to wait and see how this result impacts the MIAA’s formula.

For the Hawks, it is a third straight win after losing the opening four games of the season. Senior Brendan White, who scored a touchdown, intercepted a pass, and recovered a fumble against the Black Knights, admitted that Friday’s win meant a lot to the upperclassmen.

“It really means a lot to these guys,” White said. “We’ve been through everything together going back to middle school. The way we responded, the way we came back from the hole we dug ourselves into, really shows how good this group of guys is and how Milford football culture is coming back.”

Milford knew it needed a win to have any shot at the postseason and the Hawks had several opportunities to get off to a great start and take the lead in the first half.

Shapel Feaster intercepted John Burke on third down on Stoughton’s first possession, returning it to the Black Knights 33. But the Hawks failed to take advantage. Four plays later, Colby Pires’ fourth down pass to Brendan White fell incomplete and the hosts took back over.

Stoughton was held without a first down on its first three possessions, while the Hawks drove into Black Knights territory on each of the first three times they had the ball. Each time, Milford saw its drive stall, including a touchdown that was called back due to a block in the back penalty.

On the third drive, Sean Lehane (four catches, 70 yards) lined up a 42-yard field goal attempt. The Black Knights blocked the kick with enough force that it ricocheted all the way to the Milford 30 where Christian Georges pounced on it.

Despite having only 13 yards of offense to that point, Stoughton found itself with a chance to take the lead. On third and seven, Burke (9-16, 111 yards) rolled out to the near sideline and he found Alex Iverson open. The senior running back turned and bowled his way through a couple of would-be tacklers for a 26-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

It was the one of only two first downs that Stoughton would get in the first half.

The Hawks needed a spark and finally put together a complete drive right before halftime. Pires (13-22, 183 yards) hit Hugo Lopes for a 30-yard gain to get things started. He then connected with Lehane on a bubble screen for 40 yards down to the one, where Jeff Grier hustled to make the touchdown-saving tackle. On the next play, Pires found Feaster wide open for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked and Stoughton went into the break ahead 7-6.

The Hawks started the third quarter by driving into Stoughton territory but were forced to punt. The Black Knights finally looked to get something going on offense when Burke was able to find Iverson, despite being hit by Josh Ligor, for a 28-yard gain. On fourth down, Burke’s pass was picked off by White to end the drive.

After another Milford punt, Stoughton turned the ball over for the third time. Again it was White that made the play, diving in to recover a botched hand-off at the Black Knights 19. Three plays later, Pires slipped a pass to White underneath the coverage and he dove into the end zone for Milford’s first lead, 12-7.

“That kid…he’s just heart and soul,” Vizakis said about White. “He gives every single thing he has every day and that kid is the definition of a tough football player and a great leader.”

Trailing for the first time on the night, Stoughton put together its best drive. The Black Knights marched 75 yards on 10 plays, mixing up the run and pass and getting Burke outside the pocket. Grier (11 carries, 56 yards) got it going with a 20 yard sweep and a pass interference call on a third down bomb helped keep the drive alive. Christopher Ais would give Stoughton back the lead when he found a seam on the left side and scored from 12 yards out.

Burke rolled to the near sideline and threw a strike to Malachi Green-Hightower, who just managed to keep his feet inbounds, for the two-point conversion and a 15-12 lead with 5:20 to play.

The Milford offense had been struggling at the start of the season, but scored 40-plus points in each of its last two games and seemed to have turned a corner.

The offense came through again in the fourth quarter, going 64 yards on seven plays in just under four minutes to earn the victory. Lucas Rosa (13 carries, 63 yards) had a run of 14 to get the ball to midfield and then Pires went deep to Feaster for 27 yards on the right sideline. After Rosa went 21 yards on two carries, Milford had the ball at the one. Ryan Pearl came off the bench and ran two sneaks to get the ball across for the score.

Vizakis said, “They scored, we expected them to score a few touchdowns tonight, but we also expected to score some more points at the end. That’s a great football team over there…but our kids don’t quit.”

Stoughton had 1:40 left to try and salvage the win. On third and six from his own 33, Burke looked deep down the sideline to Ajahn Rue and the junior receiver went up with Feaster. Both players came down with the ball, but the Milford defensive back ripped possession away, earning his second interception of the night and sealing the win.

“Clutch, clutch,” Vizakis said about Feaster. “He’s the emotional leader and just does the right things at the right time. Talk about a kid who’s overcome adversity in his own life to come out and play football with his friends on Friday nights, you can’t ask for much more than that.”

White added, “I think it was just our attitude from the beginning of the game. We had an attitude that we’re the best team on the field. Stoughton is a really good team and they played really hard but I think we just won the battle tonight.”

Milford (3-4, 3-2) and Stoughton (3-4, 2-3) will now wait and see how the playoff standings work out. The MIAA will announce its official brackets this weekend.

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Franklin Scores Shutout Win at Rival Milford

Franklin football
Evan Wertz (25) celebrates a fumble on Milford’s opening possession of the game. Franklin scored either side of halftime and held the Hawks scoreless to win 21-0. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MILFORD, Mass. – On its opening three possessions of the game, Franklin managed about 30 yards of offense and turned the ball over twice. But the Panthers got one more chance to break the scoreless deadlock before halftime and made it count, scoring on the final play of the second quarter.

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The momentum carried over into the second half, as Franklin would score on both of its possessions in the third quarter to break Friday night’s rivalry game with Milford wide open and pull away for a 21-0 victory that sends the Panthers into league play with a 2-0 record.

“It’s a big win for us,” said Franklin coach Eian Bain. “This is a tough place to play. To get out of here 2-0, and more importantly 1-0 this week and focused on this task, we’re going to enjoy it for 24 hours.”

The game did not get off to a start that either team would have hoped for, with turnovers on the opening two plays. Shapel Feaster fumbled on the first play from scrimmage for the Hawks, but he made up for it on defense by forcing a Jack Nally fumble at the one-yard-line on Franklin’s first play.

Both defenses were in control for most of the opening half.

A Brendan White sack of Franklin starting quarterback Thomas Gasbarro ended one drive and Ryan Pearl picked off a pass by Nick Gordon, Franklin’s second quarterback, to end another. Milford was trying to mix things up, spreading out the Panthers on one play and bunching up on a power set on another, but the Panthers defense stood tall.

With under two minutes remaining in the half, Franklin took possession at its own 42. Gordon (6-11, 147 yards) hit Nally down the sideline for 21 yards and then found Ryan Driscoll (four catches, 115 yards) for nine yards to the Milford 28.

After an incomplete pass, Franklin had eight seconds left in the quarter. Gordon dropped back and again looked down the far sideline where Driscoll had gotten open in between two defensive backs for the game’s opening score.

Milford coach Anthony Vizakis admitted that it was a deflating moment for his team. He said, “It was because they knew we were close to going in with a 0-0 ballgame and that’s a totally different mentality. It’s a totally different feeling. I thought we came out [for the second half] with a little energy but it just wasn’t enough for tonight.”

The Panthers took control with the opening possession of the second half, marching 75 yards on seven plays to make it a two-score game. Gordon again hit Driscoll on a go-route down the sideline for 38 yards into Milford territory and then found Will Davis for another 11 yards. Three plays, including two Gordon keepers, later, Gordon was able to scramble and keep a play alive before finding a seam for a seven-yard score.

The Milford offense had to try and speed up, focusing on the spread formation and the passing game to try and cut into the lead, but that also played right into the strength of the Franklin defense – its secondary.

“With a two touchdown lead, you sort of take war off the table,” said Bain about Milford’s run-first set. “Our strength of the defense is our speed…whereas the war is what they do best and they can dictate to an opponent. To get them out of that was a big step in the second half.”

Milford’s junior quarterback Colby Pires completed three of his four passes in the first half, but with the Panthers dropping back into coverage then he was only able to complete two of 14 passes in the second half. Driscoll and Nally both broke up passes in coverage and Nolan McLaney was able to bat a pass down at the line of scrimmage.

“We had the clock against us and sometimes when you’re down two scores you try to speed things up a little bit,” Vizakis explained. “It was frustrating because we just couldn’t hit anything over the top.”

Franklin’s success defending the pass was largely done without getting much pressure on Pires. Adam McMorrow had the only sack of the game for the Panthers and it came on Milford’s possession.

Franklin made it three straight possessions with a touchdown and sealed the win before the end of the third quarter. The Panthers went 57 yards on 11 plays, including a 40-yard pass from Gordon to Driscoll. On third and goal from the six, Gordon took a keeper to the left side and snuck inside the pylon with a leap over the goal line.

Parker Chevrant made it three for three on extra points for a 21-0 lead.

Bain said, “We do spend some time talking about scramble drill and Nick’s able to that. It was a great night for the boys.”

“They run the spread very well,” Vizakis said. “Their quarterback runs the ball very well and we’ve just got to stay in our assignments, stay disciplined.”

Franklin (2-0) will open Kelley-Rex division play next Friday night at Alumni Field against Mansfield. Milford (0-2) will look for its first win when it starts Davenport division play with a visit from Canton.

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Cote, Weir Pace Attleboro Past Milford In Opener

Attleboro football
Attleboro senior Justin Cote tries to get past a Milford defender in the first quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The combination of Attleboro quarterback Jason Weir and running back Justin Cote is going to be a handful for opposing teams this season. Milford found that out firsthand on Friday night.

Weir and Cote combined for over 200 yards on the ground, helping the Bombardiers open their season with a 21-7 win over the visiting Scarlet Hawks.

“We want to run the ball first,” said Attleboro head coach Mike Strachan. “Jason is big and tough and Justin is a dynamic running back. We’re able to move some things around and we’re still trying to find our identity a bit but I think what you saw tonight is what we’re going to be.”

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The Bombardiers had 28 rushing plays in the second half compared to just one passing attempt.

Weir accounted for 139 yards of offense, going 6-for-8 for 41 yards and one passing touchdown while picking up 98 yards and one rushing touchdown on 17 carries. Meanwhile, Cote had 125 rushing yards on 15 carries and scored once.

Both defenses stood tall to start the game but a mistake of special teams opened the door for Attleboro to cash in. A punt from Attleboro’s Nolan Jaeger was dropped at the 10-yard line and Bombardier Isaac Guidel pounced on the loose ball to get possession back for the hosts.

Milford’s defense stood tall for the first three plays, including dropping Cote for a loss on third down but Attleboro decided to go for it. On the first play of the second quarter, Weir hit junior Ethan Cameron as he faded to the corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown.

Colby Briggs’ extra point put Attleboro up 7-0 with 10:54 left in the second quarter.

Milford’s offense stalled at its own 28-yard line but senior punter Sean Lehane drilled a deep kick that just rolled into the end zone for a touchback, forcing Attleboro to drive 80 yards.

Attleboro got halfway there before having to punt. The Bombardier defense came up with a big stop again, forcing Milford to punt from its own 33-yard line. Lehane once again came up big as his punt was downed at the Attleboro 12-yard line.

With little time left in the half, Attleboro couldn’t get much further than midfield and a strip sack from Ryan Hazard ended the drive as time expired on the first half.

The Bombardiers’ offense set the tone for the second half with its first drive, going 80 yards on 10 plays.

Cameron had a 9-yard rush, Weir had a 12-yard run and Cote rattled off a 28-yard rush during the drive. A 9-yard rush from Cote got Attleboro to the 1-yard line and Weir did the rest from there, using a sneak to squeeze up the middle for a score and a 14-0 advantage with 5:42 left in the third quarter.

Milford ran its only three plays of the quarter but Attleboro’s defense came up with a stop on third and short and had to punt.

“Defensively we’re pretty physical up front, the front four is a pretty good group,” Strachan said. “I’m proud of our kids and we just have to build on this one and now we have Dartmouth next week and that’s where the focus has to be on.”

Starting at its own 28-yard line, Attleboro used 13 plays — all rushing — to cover 72 yards. Weir converted the first three third downs on the drive before the Bombardiers were faced with fourth from the 33-yard line.

Cote burst out to his right, hesitated to fake out a defender, and then took off again, racing through defenders for a 33-yard score and a 21-0 lead with 7:02 in the fourth quarter.

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“The defense was on the field far too long,” said Milford head coach Anthony Vizakis. “We had a couple of missed opportunities but we’ll work on them and try to get better tomorrow. Attleboro is a big, strong, and physical team and they use it to their advantage.”

Milford put together its best drive of the game in response to Attleboro’s third touchdown. Junior Colby Pires (16-for-23, 101 yards) hit Lehane and Hugo Lopes on back-to-back nine yard completions, earning Milford’s first first-down of the second half.

Brendan White (six catches, 60 yards) hauled in an eight yard pass, and one play later, went for 23 yards on fourth down. Four plays later, Luke Rosa broke through two tackles in the backfield and plunged through the defense for a 1-yard touchdown.

Lehane hit the extra point and then used a perfect chip that allowed Dylan Ortiz to go up and catch the onside kick. Milford began to move the ball again, picking up back-to-back first downs but Pires was hit as he threw on the next play and Cameron hauled in the pass for an interception.

Although Milford’s defense stopped Attleboro on three straight plays, Attleboro’s defense got the ball right back when Jaeger intercepted the Hawks’ first play of the next drive.

“[Milford] played us really tough, they did a good job defensively,” Strachan said. “That’s a good football team with a lot of good players, I think they’re going to do well in their division.

Attleboro football (1-0) is back in action on Friday when it travels to Dartmouth. Milford (0-1) has its home opener next week when it hosts Franklin.

Black Knights Clamp Down on the Hawks for Road Win

Stoughton football
Malachi Green-Hightower (52) leads the way for Justin Ly (3) on what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown late in the first half against Milford. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MILFORD, Mass. – Twenty minutes into Friday night’s regular season finale at Milford High, Stoughton had only managed three first downs. Another short drive came to a close after Jonathan Medina was sacked by several Hawks and offensive lineman Malachi Green-Hightower was forced to jump on a fumble to keep the possession alive.

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Paul Feeney hit a towering punt downfield towards Ryan O’Toole, who was unable to come up with it cleanly. Matthew Hadley pounced on the loose ball and put the Black Knights at the Milford 25. On the next play, Justin Ly bounced outside the tackle and raced down the Milford sideline for a 25-yard score with 1:31 left in the first half.

The score turned out to be the game-winner, as the Black Knights defense smothered the Milford offense, limiting the Hawks to only eight first downs in the game (only three in the second half), in a 14-3 victory that sets up a three-way tie for second place in the Davenport division and most likely a home game for Stoughton in the Div. 3 South playoffs.

“That’s a good team,” said Stoughton coach Greg Burke, “they played very hard, and they’ve been excellent the last couple weeks and luckily we got them and I’m glad we did it by running the football.”

The Black Knights were without starting quarterback Evan Gibb, who was injured in the loss to North Attleboro, and Burke praised Medina (2-6, 25 yards) for managing the game. Burke said, “You’ve got to make some tough plays and the toughest job, he did a great job for us, was our quarterback. The kid hasn’t played a lot and…everything’s a little different.”

Milford started the game in a spread formation with sophomore Colby Pires (7-16, 118 yards) in the shotgun. On the first possession of the game, Pires hit Shapel Feaster for 20 yards and the Hawks moved the ball into Stoughton territory, but on fourth and nine Pires scrambled and hit Lucas Rosa for eight yards and the drive stalled at the Black Knights 29.

On the second possession, backed up to their own 11, the Hawks hit their biggest play of the game. Pires looked deep down the near sideline to Joey Everett, a senior who transferred in from St. George’s School (Newport, R.I.) midway through the season, and the wideout made an incredible 41-yard catch just keeping a foot in bounds. On the next play, Pires was intercepted by Ryan Semler.

“When you have three turnovers and a muffed punt deep in your own end, it’s hard to get anything going,” said first-year Milford coach Anthony Vizakis. “We tried our spread, we tried our war, they did a really great job. They have a great defense.”

Vizakis admitted that the touchdown before halftime was a turning point. He said, “Unfortunately, sometimes all it takes is one play. We were hoping to put a drive together and we had some things ready to go, but you could feel the momentum shift. Against a tough team like that, it’s hard to come back from it.”

The Black Knights went into the locker room with energy after the late touchdown, but in the end both defenses were too strong to keep the momentum going. A sack by Josh Ligor ended the second Stoughton possession of the third quarter and gave Milford the ball back at its own 30.

The Hawks turned to junior Ryan Pearl at quarterback in a compact power set that worked the week before in the comeback win over Foxboro. A six-yard completion to Will Pointer got a rare third down conversion for a first down and Pointer followed it with a 20-yard burst around the end. Once again the drive stalled, but Milford turned to junior kicker Sean Lehane, who split the upright with a 46-yard boot (with room to spare) that cut the lead to 7-3.

“He’s unreal,” said Vizakis of Lehane. “That’s automatic for him. He kicks 50-55 [yards] in practice and I think we have to utilize him even more when we’re close. He’s clutch.”

The home crowd was starting to get into it, especially after Ruben Gonzalez was stopped on the kick-off return at his own 17, but the Black Knights settled down and put together the best drive of the game.

Alex Sjoquist (15 carries, 91 yards) was the main threat, getting the ball eight times during a 13-play, 83-yard march that took seven minutes off the clock and sealed the win. The big play was a 41-yard burst straight up the middle from Sjoquist that Tyler Joyce kept from being a touchdown with a diving, shoestring tackle. In the end, Sjoquist plunged into the end zone with a three-yard score.

Any hope of another late comeback by the Hawks was dashed by a Colin Sanda interception.

Burke said of the team’s ability to matchup with Milford’s bunch sets, “We got hurt a little bit but…we worked very hard at that all week. It’s a very effective offense, if you get one long play. You’re in tight, so they’re hoping someone cracks one and gets out. So, you have to really protect against the bounce out.”

Despite the defeat, it looks like Milford (3-4, 3-2) has qualified for the Div. 3 South playoffs and could face possible trips to North Attleboro, Duxbury or Hingham. Vizakis is proud of how far the Hawks have come from the opening game of the season.

He said, “We’re 100 percent getting better every week and that’s what we tell them, get better every day. The kids are improving, they’re getting more comfortable in the system, and once we see where we fall in the playoff bracket we’ll be ready to go next week.”

Stoughton (5-2, 3-2) appears to be in line for the third or fourth seed in Div. 3 South.

Burke said, “We’re 5-2 with a couple of our starters out…and I’m just happy we’re getting in the playoffs for our fourth consecutive year. I don’t know, if you had said at the beginning of the year that we’d be 5-2 I would’ve called you crazy, but that’s the type of kids I have, tough kids.”

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North Attleboro Rides Strong Start Past Scarlet Hawks

North Attleboro football
North Attleboro’s Nick Raneri carries the ball in the first half against Milford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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MILFORD, Mass. – After turning the ball over on each of its first two drives a week ago, North Attleboro had a high priority on getting off to a better start this week in Milford.

The Rocketeers delivered in a big way.

Big Red scored on both of its first two drives, combining to run 19 plays in the first quarter compared to just four for the hosts, and seized a 13-0 advantage after 11 minutes of play.

North’s strong start paved the way for a 27-6 win over the Scarlet Hawks.

“That was the plan going in because [Milford] runs that double-wing offense,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “They can take control of the football and clock and really put you behind the eight ball. So we really thought it was important to get ahead and make [Milford] play from behind.

“It was really good to see, I felt good after seeing our offense bring the ball down the field like that.”

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After Milford deferred, North Attleboro marched 68 yards on 11 plays on the game’s opening drive. A 23-year gain from Brendan McHugh (13 carries, 79 yards, two touchdowns) and 10-yard rush on fourth down from Nick Raneri (12 carries, 91 yards) helped Big Red move into the red zone.

McHugh took a sweep to the left and walked his way in for a two-yard touchdown. North’s attempt at a two-point conversion was caught but out of bounds.

Big Red’s defense was ready to go to start the game, allowing Milford’s offense to gain just two yards on its first three plays and forced a punt.

Nathan Pearce (63 total yards) started the next drive with a quick 15-yard first down run and two plays later Raneri rumbled his way for 30 yards. Facing a 3rd and 10 from the Milford 22-yard line, senior quarterback Chad Peterson (7/15, 96 yards, rush touchdown) hit junior Ryan Gaumond for a 12-yard gain and a first down.

Three plays later, Peterson kept it himself and took off to the right, sprinting inside the pylon for a four-yard touchdown. Geoff Wilson’s extra point made it 13-0 with 34 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Milford’s offense couldn’t move the ball forward on its next drive and had to punt, but the Scarlet Hawks’ defense came up with a big stop. Patrick Brogioli forced a six-yard loss on a second down play, and after a hold on third down, the Rocketeers were forced to punt.

But once again, North’s defense held Milford to negative yards and the Hawks had to punt.

Peterson connected with Pearce for 25-yards to help the drive get started and then kept it on a QB option, galloping all the way to the one-yard line with a 43-yard rush. McHugh plunged up the middle for the touchdown on the next play and a 20-0 lead with 4:11 left in the first half.

“I think we might have gotten over the hump tonight, I really do,” Johnson said. “Especially the way we performed offensively in the beginning of the game. I think we left some opportunities out there, a couple of guys that were open that didn’t get the ball. But I think we’re pretty close to where we need to be on offense, but there’s still room for improvement on both sides.”

Milford elected to switch its offense, moving from the double-wing to its spread formation, bringing in sophomore quarterback Colby Pires (7/19, 84 yards).

Although the Hawks’ drive stalled before the half, Pires completed a pass to junior Shapel Feaster (five catches, 65 yards) for the team’s first first down.

The home side seemed to feed off the bit of momentum it gained before the halftime break and used it to open the second half with a touchdown. Ryan O’Toole opened the half with a 13-yard run and a first down.

Then the Scarlet Hawks used a little trickery, having running back Will Pointer take the toss but instead of running, he heaved a pass that senior Tyler Joyce hauled in for a 46-yard completion.

Two plays later, Pires floated one into the end zone and Joyce was able to leap up and make the catch for a 14-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to 20-6.

“We made an adjustment to get out of our war set and go spread and I think that worked a little bit for us,” said MHS head coach Anthony Vizakis. “We have to do better and learn from this and regroup from this.

“It was good experience for our sophomore quarterback who I thought stood in there and played very well. When we watch the film tomorrow, we’ll get better from this. It’s there in spurts and the kids battled. We had a couple of negative plays that really hurt us but I think those are correctable.”

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Milford’s defense delivered on North’s first drive of the second half, forcing the Rocketeers to punt after gaining two first downs on its first two plays.

Pires hit Feaster for a first down to begin the drive, but North Attleboro’s Zach DeMattio come up with a 12-yard sack on first down, and a host of Rocketeers forced an 11-yard loss on Milford’s next run. Milford had to punt two plays later.

“The same thing happened last week,” Johnson said. “Sharon had the long kickoff return and the defense came out and held them to a field goal, and we blocked that field goal. I think the defense is maturing pretty well and coming up with some big stops.

“We hadn’t seen them in that spread formation very much on film. We really didn’t have a scouting report to go on for that offense. We just wanted to get some pressure on him as best he can. But he’s a good athlete and made some plays.”

North put an exclamation point on the game with its next drive. Taking the rest of the time in the third quarter, and over a minute of the fourth quarter, Big Red marched 68 yards on 10 plays and scored its fourth touchdown.

Peterson hit McHugh for 15-yards and a first down, Raneri had a two-yard run for a first down and then Peterson hit a wide-open Nolan Buckley up the middle for a 20-yard score and a 27-6 lead with 9:59 to play.

North Attleboro (3-1 overall, 2-0 Hockomock) will have its first big test of division play when it hosts Foxboro in a battle of Davenport unbeatens. Milford (1-3, 1-1) will travel to Sharon on Saturday for a 3:30 kickoff.

“The schedule has worked in our favor so far,” Johnson said. “We really challenged ourselves with our scrimmage schedule, then opened up with King Philip. It’s worked out pretty good because we’ve been a team that’s slow to develop. And I think we have developed and gotten better every week. Now the question is ‘are we good enough now to beat a good Foxboro team?’”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.