Canton Passes Test, Holds Off Visiting Sharon

Canton football
Canton celebrates Vincent O’Brien’s (9) first quarter touchdown that put the Bulldogs into an early lead against visiting Sharon. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


CANTON, Mass. – With leading rusher Cam Sanchez sidelined with an injury and facing a short week ahead of Thursday night’s visit from Sharon at WWII Veterans Memorial Field, Canton was searching for different ways of getting into the end zone.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

For the first time this season, the Bulldogs found success in the passing game. Canton threw a pair of first half touchdowns, including one on a halfback pass by Jack Albert, and leaned on its defense during a scoreless second half to pull out a 17-6 win over the Eagles that moves the Bulldogs back to .500 on the season.

“We’re trying to find ways to replace Cam Sanchez, and it’s a difficult thing to do when you have someone that dynamic,” admitted Canton coach Anthony Fallon. “The guys are finding their way into different positions. Sometimes you give up some yards and then you can buckle down when you figure it out.”

Canton had good field position to start its opening drive and took advantage, going 59 yards in 10 plays to jump in front. The Bulldogs had good balance, with Colin Albert (15 carries, 59 yards), Jack Albert (nine carries, 65 yards), and quarterback Robert Botelho all getting positive yards on the ground.

After a false start on fourth and two back the Bulldogs up to the Sharon 33, Botelho (7-for-13, 77 yards) rolled out to his left and hit Vincent O’Brien in stride down the near sideline for the touchdown. It was Botelho’s first career touchdown pass.

The Bulldogs would started their third possession from their own 42 and again made the good field position count for points. Botelho found Jack Albert for a 23-yard gain down to the Eagles 26. Bahsor Mahn gained six on third and five down to the 15-yard-line, but the drive stalled there. Will Keefe made sure Canton didn’t leave empty-handed, kicking a 33-yard field goal.

Sharon needed a spark and found some life offensively on the ensuing possession. Kiran Chandrasekaran (11-for-20, 174 yards and 14 carries for 55 yards) rushed for 29 yards on a keeper to get the ball into Canton territory. On first down from the 20, Chandrasekaran fired a strike on the far sideline to PJ McManus. The extra point was blocked, but the Eagles cut the lead to 10-6.

It was Canton’s turn to answer and the Bulldogs needed only three plays to get back in front by double digits. Andrew Butler’s kickoff return out to the 44-yard-line set up the drive. Jack Albert took a toss for 11 yards to the left. Butler went around the right side for 13. Fallon called for a little trickery, as Albert took the toss to the left, pulled up, and lofted a perfect pass to Butler for a 32-yard score.

“A little jet pass from Mr. Albert,” said Fallon. “We ran that in practice and this afternoon I think he was all geared up and wanted to run it and we thought it was good time to do it. Senior night, you want the win but you also want them smiling and having fun and that was part of the fun tonight.”

The visitors had more than two minutes left in the half and tried for an instant response. A 40-yard pass to Owen Conway got them into Canton territory and a personal foul call added 15 more yards down to the 19. Carson Campbell made a big play to drop Ike Ogbannanze for a five-yard loss, on third down Ryan Richards sacked Chandrasekaran, and the Bulldogs forced a turnover on downs.

“Kiran had a great game,” said Sharon coach Dave Morse. “He helps us with both the run and the pass. The receivers did a great job with a couple of big catches. We’re moving it but then we’ve got to finish it off. It’s been the story of the last couple of years and the next three weeks we’ve got to figure out how to finish.”

Late in the third quarter, Canton went for it on fourth and three at the Sharon 41, but Albert was stripped of the ball and Jack Murphy jumped on the fumble for the Eagles. Nico Marrero picked up nine yards to convert a third and five and Chandrasekaran hit Ogbannanze for 13 on a fourth and six.

Sharon got as far as the Canton 24 but a Campbell sack on fourth down put an end to the drive.

“We really killed ourselves with penalties and field position, so that was the difficult part of moving the ball in the second half,” Fallon explained. “They had couple of sustained rives where we didn’t lock it down until they got deep into our territory.”

After a three-and-out by the Bulldogs, Sharon was on the move again. Chandrasekaran and McManus (four catches, 53 yards) combined for 24 to the Bulldogs 40 and then Conway made a grab down to the 27. A holding call backed the Eagles up but gains of seven, six, and eight yards brought up fourth and one from the 18. Chandrasekaran’s keeper was stuffed for a loss of one.

Penalties were an issue for the Bulldogs throughout the second half and a holding call pushed Canton back to its own eight. On third and 17, Butler came up with a huge play that effectively sealed the win, He took a sweep to the right, cut inside and broke a 22-yard run for a critical first down.

“He did a great job there,” Fallon said of Butler’s run. “He hit the seam really nice and covered up the ball when he had contact too.”

Morse added, “We had some guys up front, all did a great job and the linebackers were getting more aggressive. Defensively, I think we saw the progression we wanted. A couple mistakes and they bit us for it but I was very, very happy with the effort to the football.”

Canton (2-2) will host King Philip in a divisional crossover game next Friday afternoon. Sharon (0-4) will step outside the Hock and travel to Blue Hills.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sanchez Provides Scoring Punch for Canton at OA

Canton football
Canton senior Cam Sanchez (22) rushed for 166 yards and scored three touchdowns to power the Bulldogs to a 26-6 win at Oliver Ames. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


NORTH EASTON, Mass. – It makes things significantly easier on an offense when you have a player that can break big plays at any time. Canton didn’t have to worry about putting together long, time-consuming drives in Friday night’s game at Muscato Stadium because senior Cam Sanchez was capable of finding the end zone from anywhere.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sanchez (14 carries, 166 yards) scored three times, including once on special teams and twice on plays of more than 80 yards, lifting Canton to a 26-6 victory over Oliver Ames in the first league meeting between these rivals in four years.

“He can go at any time,” said first-year Canton coach Anthony Fallon. “Sometimes you’ve got to just keep tapping the rock and the rock will break. He’s our ‘tap the rock’ guy this year. Last year it was Fitz (Kyle Fitzgerald) and this year it’s Cam.”

It was the Tigers that got on the board first, taking advantage of good starting field position on their second possession. Jake Grimaldi (1-for-11) recorded his lone completion on a 26-yard pass to Jadon Ricci (89 yards of offense) and OA got an extra 15 yards when an official collided with a Canton coach on the sideline. After sophomore Chad Silva (15 carries, 94 yards) gained 14 to the Canton one, Grimaldi reached over the line and just broke the plane.

The two-point conversion attempt was stopped but OA had a 6-0 lead. It lasted 16 seconds.

One the ensuing kickoff, Sanchez grabbed the ball at the nine and took it straight up the middle, getting a couple of key blocks and bursting through the OA coverage for a 91-yard score. Will Keefe’s extra point put Canton in front 7-6.

“We just put that middle return in this week and everyone seemed to hit their assignment, which was great, and Cam took it right up the middle,” Fallon explained.

OA went right back to work on its next drive. The Tigers put together a 13-play drive that got all the way down to Canton eight. Collin Williamson (10 carries, 60 yards) had a pair of carries for 30 yards on the drive and Grimaldi had a three-yard sneak to convert a big third down. On third and goal, Jack Albert came up with his first big defensive play, sacking Grimaldi back to the 16.

The first fourth down and goal attempt resulted in a pass interference on the goal line. That moved the ball half the distance to the goal (the eight-yard-line) but wasn’t an automatic first down. Brian Murphy got to the quarterback on the second fourth and goal attempt, forcing an incompletion and a turnover on downs.

Three plays later, Robert Botelho (3-for-12, 13 yards) audibled on third and six, running an option play to the near sideline. Sanchez took the pitch and hit another gear, flying past the OA defense for an 88-yard touchdown.

“We’re thinking, okay we can get a score here and then we don’t and they come right out and take the ball and run their option, Cam Sanchez is a hell of a player, and they coached it right up” said OA coach Ed DeWitt. “They did a good job with the scheme on that one and he takes it right down the sideline. It’s a 14-point swing.”

It was one of those days for OA. The Tigers continued to move the ball and had some success in the ground game, but penalties and big plays by the Canton pass rush (six sacks, including three by Carson Campbell) seemed to stymie their chances of putting points on the board.

“It’s so frustrating,” DeWitt admitted. “We feel like we had a couple of shots there, where we got the ball either inside the red zone or just to the red zone and then it’s penalty, mistake, holding, turnover down here. Offensively, we’ve got to finish drives.”

On its first possession of the second half, OA again moved the ball into Canton territory. Silva had carries of 10, 11, and 13 yards to get down to the 15. The energy level had picked up on the OA sideline but a fumbled hand-off was recovered by Albert, ending a great scoring chance.

Albert was a standout for the Canton defense. After Botelho was intercepted by Ricci early in the fourth quarter, Albert almost single-handedly ended the OA drive. He made the tackle on first down, stopped Silva for no gain, and then dropped Silva for a loss of two on third down.

“Jack was tremendous on defense,” said Fallon. “His helmet is going to be covered in bones. He had a great defensive game. In big moments he came up, when it was third and we needed a play he did a great job.”

Canton got great field position off that stop, as a short punt gave them the ball at the OA 28. Sanchez had been quiet for a couple of quarters, so he took the first carry straight up the gut, going untouched into the end zone for the score that put the game out of reach.

The Bulldogs continued to have Grimaldi on the run. Pressure from Bahsor Mahn led to an interception for Andrew Butler. Later in the fourth, Campbell and Albert had back-to-back sacks to put OA on its own five. On third down, the duo combined to force an intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety.

DeWitt said, “We thought we had some of the run stuff, but when you go down two scores in the fourth quarter that kind of goes out the window. We know we need to score early to get ourselves ahead. We know we have to play with the lead.”

Keefe would cap the scoring with 22 seconds remaining, as the soccer player who is taking advantage of the extra season to play football, nailed a 34-yard field goal.

Fallon said, “Last week (against North Attleboro) we struggled with some guys not knowing their assignments, not doing their assignments, and this week we were better at it. We still have a lot to work on and we’re going to keep grinding it out and getting there.”

Canton (1-1) will try to keep things going next week with a trip to Foxboro. Oliver Ames (0-2) will look for its first win of the season when it travels to league-leading North Attleboro.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.