Below are the official 2018 Hockomock League Football All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Nick Gordon, Franklin
Ryan Clemente, North Attleboro
Hockomock League All Stars
Nick Evans, Attleboro
Justin Cote, Attleboro
Jason Weir, Attleboro
Michael Strachan, Attleboro
Nick Gordon, Franklin
Ryan Driscoll, Franklin
Jack Nally, Franklin
Terrell Jacobs-Baston, King Philip
Ryan Halliday, King Philip
Jack Webster, King Philip
David Morganelli, King Philip
Daenin Walker, Mansfield
TJ Guy, Mansfield
Aidan Sacco, Mansfield
Vinnie Holmes, Mansfield
Dean Pacini, Oliver Ames
Woudanly Danger, Taunton
Cory Pintabone, Taunton
Ben Seaman, Canton
Brendan Albert, Canton
Brian Campagna, Canton
Johnny Hagan, Canton
Anton George, Foxboro
Hunter Williams, Foxboro
Mike Sheehan, Foxboro
Brendan White, Milford
Colby Pires, Milford
Kevin Pyne, Milford
Brendan McHugh, North Attleboro
Nick Raneri, North Attleboro
Ryan Clemente, North Attleboro
Ryan Gaumond, North Attleboro
Chris Gong, Sharon
Alex Iverson, Stoughton
Evan Jackman , Stoughton
Malachi Green-Hightower, Stoughton
SCITUATE, Mass. – A lot of the focus leading into Friday night’s Division 5 South Final between Scituate and Canton revolved around the Sailors’ high-power offense.
But the story of the night ended up being Scituate’s defense.
The Sailors pitched a shutout, limiting Canton’s offense to just over 100 yards and six first downs, to earn a 21-0 decision and the D5 South title, the first in program history.
“Our guys were prepared, motivated, and fired up to play defense tonight,” said Scituate head coach Herb Devine. “We did a great job all night long playing defense. We tried to take away what they wanted to go. We knew [Johnny Hagan] and [Kyle] Fitzgerald are just great players so we tried to limit what they do. Our defense played outstanding.”
Scituate came into the game averaging over 40 points in its two playoff games, putting up an impressive 57 points in a semifinal win over Holliston. While Scituate’s defense gave up a total of 61 points in its first two playoff games, its defense allowed a total of 69 points all of regular season (including 35 to Duxbury).
“They gave us a lot of trouble,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “We have so many playmakers…maybe we leaned on them too much and got away from the fundamentals. We just didn’t execute at a high level. I tip my hat to Scituate, they had a good plan, their kids played good, and they are a good team.”
The Sailors flexed their offensive muscles early on, taking the first drive of the game down the field for a score. It turned out to be Scituate’s second longest drive of the game as they moved 77 yards on eight plays to take an early lead.
Facing a third down early in the drive, Scituate quarterback Aidan Sullivan (10/15, 219 yards) completed a 10-yard pass for a first down. The Sailors didn’t face a third down the rest of the drive and Will Sheskey (24 carries, 135 yards) punched it in from 5 yards out for a 7-0 lead just over three minutes into the game.
The next three series – two from Canton – resulted in punts, but the Bulldogs nearly had a chance to change the game. After punting, Scituate tried to field the kick on the bounce but a nice play from the Bulldogs knocked the ball free. Canton had two shots at it – one player diving on top but the ball jumping free, and other a chance right before the sideline – but neither player could get a hold of the ball in the pouring rain and it went out of bounds, keeping possession with Scituate.
The Sailors made to take advantage of the lucky bounce and needed just three plays to find the end zone. On second on 5, Canton brought a lot of pressure but Scituate had the perfect play call on as Sullivan dumped a screen pass off to Sheskey and he went virtually untouched for a 63 yard touchdown, giving Scituate a 14-0 lead with 9:35 left in the second quarter.
“We knew they like to blitz in some situations and our quarterback absolutely made a great read.” Devine said. “It can be either a little hitch route or a screen and he made the right read and Sheskey went for the touchdown.”
Canton responded with its best drive of the opening half. A unsportsmanlike conduct penalty helped move the ball 15 yards, and Johnny Hagan (86 all purpose yards) hit Gersom Rivera for an 18-yard gain to the Scituate 34-yard line. The Dogs had a chance to complete a pass down field but the receiver was held, giving Canton first and 10 at the 22-yard line.
But a false start, a two-yard rush, and a run for no-gain put the Dogs in a 3rd and 13 situation at the 25-yard line. Hagan tried to make a play but was intercepted at the goal line.
Scituate nearly tacked on another score before half, driving all the way down to Canton’s 23-yard line but Ben Seaman came up with a big sack on third down and Canton forced an incompletion on fourth, keeping the deficit at 14-0 heading into half.
A holding call on the first play of the second half put Canton’s offense in a whole and it was forced to punt quickly thereafter.
Canton’s defense continued its strong play on Scituate’s ensuing drive. The Sailors got inside the red zone, all the way down to Canton’s 8-yard line. But Seaman came up with a big sack on third down and David Allen broke up a pass on fourth down to keep the Sailors out of the end zone and the lead at 14-0.
The Bulldogs offense moved the ball forward on seven straight plays, but faces a 4th and 3 at their own 40. With little time left in the third quarter and a two-score deficit, Canton went for it but Hagan’s pass was picked off just over midfield.
Scituate killed a lot of the remaining time with its next drive, needing nine plays to cover 47 yards. It was’t until a 1-yard sneak from Sullivan on fourth down that Scituate added its third touchdown of the game to go up 21-0 with 8:46 to go.
“The defense gave us a chance,” Bohane said. “Ultimately we didn’t do enough offensively. We just never got that rhythm that we need so badly. We didn’t find it today. The defense kept plugging away even though they gave up an early score which has been a little bit of an Achilles heel. We needed to make plays offensively and we didn’t but they didn’t make it easy for us.
“We just didn’t find any consistency, we never got comfortable in our offense. We didn’t find a play or two that we can hang our hat on but credit to Scituate, they didn’t give us an inch on offense.”
Canton football drops to 8-2 with one game left on Thanksgiving against rival Stoughton. While the future for the Bulldogs looks bright with the majority of its lineup made out of juniors, Bohane stressed how important this senior class has been to this season.
“Scituate played in this game last year, it shows.” Bohane said. “But I can’t get beyond the fact our seniors really poured their heart and souls into this season, into the playoffs, everything. Right now I really feel for this guys. It’s a learning experience for sure but it’s so difficult for the seniors.”
CANTON, Mass. – For three and a half quarters, the Canton defense was having its way against the Stoughton offense.
The Bulldogs forced the Black Knights to punt on each of their first seven drives, holding the visitors to negative yards on three of those drives. Stoughton had just one first down early on in the fourth quarter.
But with just under six minutes to go, Stoughton’s offense finally clicked. The Knights cut a 14-point deficit in half with 5:34 to go, and got the ball back down just one score with 1:56 to play.
A big pass play set the Black Knights up in striking distance, but the Bulldogs defense, as it had for the majority of the game, came up with a stop with under 30 seconds to play.
On fourth down, Canton junior Robbie Gallery tracked down Stoughton quarterback John Burke for a sack, preserving a 14-7 win for the Bulldogs.
“I didn’t feel comfortable until Robbie made that play at the end,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “It reminded me of that 2014 game when [Stoughton] drove down the field and won it at the end. Robbie made the play, and he played great. This year, it seems like another kid steps up each game and it was Robbie’s week.”
Canton’s defense did a nice job bottling up Stoughton’s rushing attack. The furthest the Black Knights for prior to its final two drives was 10 yards over midfield — its lone time into Canton territory through three quarters.
A sack from Owen Lehane on first down forced Stoughton starting quarterback George Currier to the sideline. Burke, a sophomore, took over under center and the Knights had one of their biggest plays of the night — a 22-yard reverse from Ajahn Rue — to spark the offense.
After Rue’s run, sophomore Christopher Ais took a sweep and went for 19 yards to get into the red zone. After Canton’s defense stuffed a rush attempt, Burke floated one to the near pylon on the right side and senior Alex Iverson did a nice job fighting through contact and getting a foot down to get the Knights on the board, down 14-7.
Canton’s offense did its best to run time off the block with quarterback Johnny Hagan (5/9, 44 yards; 21 carries 121 yards) converting a third down with his legs. But a sack on the next play from Stoughton’s Jerry Brisson put the Dogs in a long distance scenario. Canton gained eight yards on the next to plays but had to punt with two minutes to go.
Stoughton’s final drive got off to a rocky start when Canton senior Ben Seaman (two sacks) came on a blitz from the blind side, taking Burke down for a loss of 7 yards.
But the Black Knights made things interesting on the next play as Burke lofted one down the left sideline and Rue used his speed to get under it for a 45-yard catch, down to the Canton 30-yard line with 1:09 to play.
But that’s when Canton’s defense came through again. A pass and catch from Burke to Ais was stopped at the line of scrimmage on first down, Burke was forced to throw it away on second down, and a pass over the middle was short on third down.
On fourth down, Burke was able to buy some time by getting out of the pocket but Gallery came flying in to make the tackle.
It was an impressive showing for the Bulldogs defense, which allowed a total of 122 yards while holding the Knights to 0-for-8 on third down. And they did almost all of it without junior linebacker James Murphy, who Bohane called the quarterback of the defense.
“Defense was the story for us,” Bohane said. “Murphy is our linchpin on defense so for our kids to play the bulk of the game without him, they were impressive. All the other key guys really stepped up like Brian Campagna, Brendan Albert, Ben Seaman, and of course Robbie Gallery, who kind of filled into Murphy’s shoes. I’m proud of them to keep plugging away, they are a resilient group.”
Stoughton’s defense also had a strong showing, forcing the Bulldogs to punt on six times and holding off another drive as the first half came to a close.
However, Canton’s offense was able to find the end zone twice — both on eight play, 65-yard drives.
After punting on its first drives, the Dogs moved the sticks when Hagan connected with Jace Emma for 11 yards. Hagan followed that with a 20-yard scramble on a broken play, and Gersom Rivera had runs of 10 and 23-yards, the latter converting a third down and getting the Dogs down to the 1-yard line.
Hagan took it in from there, following his line in for a 1-yard sneak and a 7-0 lead with 7:23 left in the first quarter.
Stoughton’s best drive of the opening half went for 41 yards, all on a run from Iverson. But an incomplete pass and two runs that netted no yards stopped the Black Knights from advancing.
Canton’s defense picked up where it left off, forcing Stoughton backward on its opening drive of the second half. After a three-and-out, Canton took over at its own 35-yard line and orchestrated what turned out to be the winning drive.
Hagan moved the sticks with a run of his own, connected with Ryan Lentol on second down, got a first down on a Stoughton penalty, and then finished the drive with three straight runs from different players: Rivera for 8, Hagan for 12, and Kyle Fitzgerald with a 9-yard touchdown run.
“We’ve been able to shift gears on offense,” Bohane said. “Some teams have been able to take away something we’ve been doing, and no one is better at that than [Stoughton] Coach [Greg] Burke. He’s going to take away what you do well. It was a game of just constantly finding a way.”
Canton football (5-0 overall, 3-0 Hockomock) is back in action on Friday when it hosts Sharon. Stoughton (2-3, 1-2) hits the road to take on North Attleboro at Beaupre Field.
Outlook: After playing plenty of sophomores last season, the Bulldogs will be looking to boast a balanced, experienced team aiming to compete for the Davenport division title in 2018.
Canton brings back six starters on offense and seven starters back on the defensive side of the ball. The Dogs are one of the few teams with their starting quarterback returning as junior Johnny Hagan continues under center after a solid sophomore season. He showed the ability to pass and run with the ball, and he has almost all of his running back options back to work with. Gersom Rivera had a terrific sophomore year and will be counted on to be a big piece of the offense during 2018. Rivera’s athleticism and speed will be complemented by the hard nose running and blocking of junior Kyle Fitzgerald and senior Brendan Albert.
Junior Jack Connolly will anchor the offensive line and will be joined by senior Brian Campagna and junior Lucas Bryant at the center position. Ryan Lentol, who came on strong at the end of last year, picked up right where he left off and will be a top option at split end.
The strength of Canton’s defense is its linebacker group, which is full of experience and talent. Albert is back at one of the outside spots after earning Hock All Star last year while senior Ben Seaman is back on the other side. Junior James Murphy will fill in the middle after impressing last season and junior Robbie Gallery has impressed early on as the other inside option. Canton will also rely on a seasoned secondary with Fitzgerald and David Allen returning as starters. Ryan Colby should see time in the secondary and Owen Lehane is in the mix for the defensive line.
“We’re very excited for the season,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “The kids have put the work in, we think we can play with anyone in the league but its a very good league so you have to be on your ‘A’ game every night. Every team is well coached and competitive so any time you can win in the Hock, its a success. We have to take it game by game, do the best we can, and keep plugging.
Outlook: The Warriors are aiming to make it two straight years in the postseason and will use a mix of returning players and new faces to try and get it done.
Foxboro graduated 35 seniors last year so there are some spots that need to be filled, but the Warriors are off to a good start with Liam Foley back in the fold at quarterback. The senior saw time under center last season along with Devin Hassett. And Foley will be in good shape as the Warriors have a lot of experience on the offensive line. Senior Tom Cullen is back in the middle of the line as the center, senior Andrew Longa and sophomore Sean Ferguson take on the tackle positions, and senior Hunter Williams and junior Aidan Dow will fill out the interior of the line.
Mike Luong got touches as a junior out of the backfield last season and will be a main part of the offense this season. Pat Stapleton is a returning split end, classmate Rob Fay will step into the same role, and junior Shayne Kerrigan will a top target for Foley.
The Warriors have experience and good size up front on defense, led by returning starting tackles Shawn Teixeira (6’4, 260) and Bill McNeil (6’0, 265). Senior William Ogbebor and Anton George will be called upon to fill out the defensive line on the ends while Williams and Martin McElroy will be joined by Mike Sheehan at linebacker. Russell Neale is back as the place kicker after a strong junior season.
Outlook: After reaching the quarterfinals last season, the 2018 version of the Scarlet Hawks are aiming for a deeper run into the postseason. And not just that, the Hawks are looking to be serious contenders for the Davenport crown.
Milford has a strong core of returning players back, a group of eager new faces looking to make an impression, and big new piece on the line. Kevin Pyne (6’8, 280) transferred to his hometown high school and will anchor what looks to be a big, physical line. Pyne is rated as the top recruit for his class and holds D1 offers from over a dozen schools including Notre Dame and Michigan. Senior Josh Ligor returns as a starter on the line while sophomore Nick Yohn will also be a two-way lineman.
The Hawks bring back both their quarterbacks: senior Ryan Pearl handled the team’s ‘WAR’ package while junior Colby Pires stepped in when Milford spread it out. Junior Luke Rosa will step in as an option at halfback along with sophomore Dominic Schofield. Brendan White (WR/S) brings toughness to both sides of the ball for the Hawks.
Shapel Feaster is one of the most experienced defensive backs in the Hockomock League and should be an important piece of the 2018 Hawks’ defense. Junior CJ Cerella will step in to anchor the linebacking group. On special teams, Sean Lehane is one of the strongest kickers in the area and will try to give Milford a spark at wide receiver this season.
“The goal of the 2018 football season for the Milford Scarlet Hawks is simple: start fast, play physical, and be the toughest team on the field on Friday nights,” said Milford head coach Anthony Vizakis.
Outlook: The target on North Attleboro’s back continues to grow. Coming off their third straight league title, including two straight Davenport titles, the Rocketeers made it all the way to the D3 State Final before falling, 35-33, to St. John’s Shrewsbury.
Big Red is hopeful it can continue its string of success but knows it will be tested with a difficult schedule, including a non-league game with two-time defending state champion King Philip. The biggest challenge will be finding a replacement for three-year starter Chad Peterson, who graduated with a handful of program records and three Hock titles as the starter. Seniors Nick Raneri and Luke LaBonte are both in the mix, and both saw time last year throughout the season. Raneri started all 13 games at tailback but also filled in at QB at times.
Whoever ends up getting the nod at quarterback will have one of the best offensive linemen in the entire state with senior Ryan Clemente anchoring the protection unit. Clemente is joined by senior Jack Puccio as returning starters on the line while seniors Joe Larkin and John Nally, and juniors John Kummer, Ethan Friberg, Trevor Hewitt, Montrel Jackson, and Ethan Mottinger are all competing for time. The Rocketeers also have solid skill options back with senior Brendan McHugh (14 total touchdowns) back at the starting slot back. Omar Jasseh offers size and speed at split end while Ryan Gaumond’s quickness gives the Rocketeers another option down field.
North Attleboro returns six starters on the defensive end, including McHugh, Gaumond, and Jasseh in the secondary. Clemente will be a big piece of the defensive line while Raneri and captain Jonathan James, who will also see time at tight end, will lead the linebacker unit. Russell Dunlap, Puccio, Mike Carty, Friberg and Jackson are all in the mix for defensive end spots while Ryan Boyle, Tom O’Neill, Duane Bryant, and Owen Harding are competing for time at linebacker.
“We expect a very challenging schedule, opening with KP on our new turf field and then an improved Bishop Feehan team in Week 2,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “The Davenport division will be extremely competitive this year, with several teams able to beat anyone on any given night. We have a nice core, but if we are going to compete at a championship level, then we are going to need several new faces to mature very quickly. There’s a lot of work still to be done, and not a lot of time to do it.”
Outlook: For the first time in Sharon, there will be football on Friday nights.
With the installation of lights at the high school field, the Eagles will be hosting teams on Friday nights instead of Saturday afternoons. And the 2018 Eagles are hoping to put a show under those lights. Sharon brings back a handful of key returning starters on both sides of the ball, and with one more year experience under their belts, will be looking to compete in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive seasons top to bottom in the Davenport.
Sharon averaged nearly 20 points per game in its six non-league games last year and is hoping to carry that over into Davenport play this season. Senior quarterback Jeremy Ruskin (six total touchdowns) is back under center to lead the offense and last year’s starting running back Aaron Strong (three touchdowns) also returns to give the Eagles a solid 1-2 punch on offense right away. Coleman Loftus’ size and strength will be a vital part of the line on both sides of the ball while Chris Gong and Alec Filipkowski return as Ruskin’s main two targets.
Not only goes Gong give Sharon options on offense because of his speed, he is one of the most dangerous kick returners in the state. He had an 80-yard punt return touchdown and a 99-yard kickoff return last season so opposing special team units will have to pay a lot of attention.
Despite the numbers, the Eagles had a strong defense last season. This season, Sharon boasts a lot of speed (on both sides of the ball) and is looking to use that to be more aggressive. Juniors Kiran Chandrasekaran will step in to be a big part of the secondary while classmate Nic Marrero will be relied on to anchor the linebackers.
“With a lot of returning starters and a sprinkle of new talent, I am expecting this team to take a huge step forward from last year’s inexperienced team,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Outlook: It feels like a fresh start for the Black Knights after graduating a bunch of players that had multiple seasons of experience under their belts.
But the focus remains the same for the Black Knights, who are aiming to be in contention for the Davenport title and make another appearance in the state tournament. Similar to previous seasons, Stoughton will have talent in the backfield and that will be the focal point of the offense. Jeff Grier is one of the fastest players in the league and will make defenses pay when there is space. Alex Iverson is a shifty option out of the backfield, Malachi Green-Hightower brings power to the run game, and sophomore Chris Ais could emerge as a playmaker for the Black Knights.
Junior George Currier and sophomore John Burke will battle it out for the starting quarterback position while Matt Piana, Ali Awad, and Evan Jackman have solidified spots on the offensive line. Frank Derbes will factor into the offense as a tight end and junior Ajahn Rue is back as a receiver.
Defensively, Iverson and Green-Hightower will be right in the heart of the lineup as linebackers while Grier will help as a member of the secondary. Cian Swierzewski has impressed throughout the offseason and the preseason and will be a key piece of the defense from the safety spot. Stoughton is looking for other names to step up and help anchor its hard nose defense.
Outlook: The Bulldogs have a solid handful of experienced players back this season and will be looking to mix in a good amount of youth during the 2017 season.
While Canton will have plenty of seniors on the field, head coach Dave Bohane expects a good mix of juniors and even sophomores to get plenty of playing time. The youth starts under center as sophomore Johnny Hagan takes over as the team’s starting quarterback. He’ll have two big targets to work with in Tony Harris and Christian Walker as well as a versatile backfield that features Alec Ragusa and Gersom Rivera.
On the defensive side of the ball, a group of experienced linebackers, including Ragusa, Jude Albert, Brendan Albert and Ben Seamen will anchor the Bulldogs. Kearvens Theodore will be a big piece on the defensive line, alongside Chris Benjamin and Jack Connolly. Sophomore Kyle Fitzgerald will take on the responsibility of being a starting safety but will have plenty of experience in the secondary with seniors Cordell Smith and Marquise Montes manning the corners.
“Getting off to a good start is always important, and equally important is those later weeks,” Bohane said. “We have to keep bodies fresh and keep ourselves in a position to make playoffs. It’s a tough league, everyone we play will be a really good football team. We’re young but athletic and competitive, and I think that will make a difference.”
Outlook: Foxboro is looking to ride the strength of a deep senior class to get back to the playoffs after missing out a season ago and also get back into the Davenport division title hunt after winning it two years ago.
The Warriors boast 35 seniors and have a handful of experienced juniors that are back after winning five games last season. Under center, senior Devin Hassett and junior Liam Foley are both in the running to take snaps. Hassett is also an option to catch the ball, giving the Warriors some flexibility on the offensive end. A strength that Foxboro will rely on on the offensive side of the ball is their playmaking ability at the skill positions. The Warriors boast multiple capable ball carriers (Mike Henri, Mike Luong, Anthony Capachietti) and pass catchers (Teddy Maher, Phil Dure, Jake Addeche) that can make things happen. Seniors Matt Suess and Kade Treannie and juniors Hunter Williams and Andrew Longa will see time on the offensive line.
Defensively, Foxboro will be looking to improve after giving up just over 29 points per game against division opponents a year ago. The Warriors will be relying on quickness and an aggressive demeanor to make plays on the defense end. Louis Piccolo, Maher, Hassett, Addeche and Henri are all likely candidates to see time in the secondary while Pat Kaveny (defensive end) and Matt Pond (linebacker) will lead the front seven.
“Chemistry amongst 35 seniors and a return to ‘old school Foxboro football’ will personify the 2017 season,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli.
Outlook: First year head coach Anthony Vizakis is looking to the past as he begins his first season with the Scarlet Hawks. Vizakis is hoping the 2017 Hawks will pull from the tradition of the program as they look to get back to the playoffs once again this year.
It will certainly be a challenge as Milford graduated some of the most talented players in the league, from all different parts of the field. One constant is that the Hawks return quarterback Matt Curran for his senior year. Another familiarity for Curran will be running back Ryan O’Toole, who saw a lot of time last year alongside Blake Hill in the backfield. Receiver Kayden Kelley and tight end Tyler Joyce are also back after getting plenty of reps on the offensive end as well. Seniors Patrick Brogioli and Cullen Burns are two returning starters from the Hawks’ offensive line.
Defensively, the Scarlet Hawks will be looking to continue what they did in 2016, allowing just a shade over 17 points per game. While it was impressive that Milford allowed just 28 points total against Sharon, Canton and Foxboro, the Hawks will need to make a leap to try and halt the offensive firepower of North Attleboro and Stoughton. It will start up front with a tough line and then an athletic group of linebackers. Will Pointer and Chris Rivera will be two of those linebackers while Shapel Feaster and Matt Annantuonio will join Brendan White as members of the secondary.
“Milford football prides itself on the tradition of having physically, and mentally tough football players,” Vizakis said. “That tradition is alive and well, and the energy and intensity coming out of our locker room and onto the practice field thus far has been infectious.”
Outlook: With two straight league titles under its belt, North Attleboro isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon. With record-breaking quarterback Chad Peterson back under center for his senior season, the Rocketeers look to be the early favorite for another Davenport title.
After two straight impressive season, Peterson will look to lead this year’s Rocketeers to their second straight Davenport title and another deep run in the playoffs. While playmakers Bobby Mylod and Nick Rajotte are gone, Peterson will have running backs Zach DeMattio and Adam Eberle to work with and receivers Mario Bresko, Omar Jasseh and Ryan Gaumond when he drops back to throw. Junior Ryan Clemente already has a year’s experience under his belt and could be one of the most dominant lineman in the league this season. Sam Bullock, Brad White, John Bradley, Geoff Wilson, Jack Puccio, Aidan Harding and Joe Larkin will all be options alongside Clemente on the offensive line.
One of the biggest reasons for North’s success a year ago was its very impressive defense, which allowed just under 12 points per game (Hockomock League best). Big Red will have to replace some big names and might have to overcome some inexperience early on, but head coach Don Johnson notes there is good competition among the front seven and secondary. Bresko is one player that has experience in the secondary while DeMattio (linebacker) and Bullock (defensive tackle) will anchor the front seven.
“The team has worked hard in the offseason,” Johnson said. “We are confident that our strong scrimmage schedule (Marshfield, Braintree and Bridgewater-Raynham), and a Week 1 non-league game versus defending D2 Super Bowl champion King Philip, will help us prepare for the ultra-competitive Hockomock League schedule.”
Outlook: The 2017 version of the Sharon Eagles might be on the young side, but head coach Dave Morse is hoping that youth injects some energy into his squad.
The Eagles started and finished the 2016 season strongly, going 3-0 to begin and then closing with a win over Hopkinton and then a Thanksgiving Day win over rival Oliver Ames to finish over .500. Now, the Eagles will be trying to repeat that success while improving their league record. Junior Jeremy Ruskin is back under center after taking over late in the season last fall and will have senior Austin Dodes and tight end Drew Naisuler available as pass catching options. Junior Aaron Strong saw some carries last year and will likely be a feature back this season.
Defensively, the Eagles were one of the stingiest units in the entire league (just over 18 PPG). The Eagles held six of their 11 opponents under 14 points per game. Junior Coleman Loftus is a returning starter and a two-way lineman for the Eagles while junior linebacker Sam Spencer will look to make an impact this season. Chris Gong joins Dodes and Strong in the secondary while Naisuler will be a part of the Eagles’ front seven.
“It has been a pleasure coaching this group and seeing them make progress,” Morse said. “Despite being the youngest team I have coached, their commitment is refreshing and they motivate me to help them succeed.”
Outlook: The Black Knights have had a strong stretch of success over the past couple of seasons and will try to continue that in 2017, despite graduating a very memorable senior class last season.
Gone are playmakers Ryan Sullivan and Izon Swain-Price, as well as linemen Lino Azul and Andrew Iverson and a handful of terrific role players. But, one key returning piece is junior quarterback Evan Gibb. Gibb took over early on during his sophomore season and looked very comfortable in his role. Now he will have to be a leader of the offensive unit. Justin Ly was the third member of Stoughton’s three-headed rushing attack a year ago and will likely be one of the team’s feature backs. Ly is a tough runner that can get yards up the middle but also has speed to get to the outside. Alex Sjoquist will likely also get carries while experienced receivers Colin Sanda and Ruben Gonzalez should see increased roles in 2017.
The Knights are well known for their defense during the successful stretch. While there will be a lot of new faces in new places, the Knights are relying on improved speed to go along with their strength. Jason Joseph is back after a solid junior campaign to lead the defensive line along with Paul Feeney, while Ly is joined by Anthony Burke as linebackers. Sanda, Gonzalez and Sjoquist will all see time in the secondary for Stoughton.
“We’re replacing so many kids from last year,” Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. “We hope to be ready without a lot of experience. We hope to compete and be healthy.”