By Lance Reynolds, HockomockSports.com Contributor
FOXBORO, Mass. – Facing a 12-0 deficit at halftime, Foxboro never gave up and their resilience paid off in the Warriors’ first Thanksgiving win over Mansfield in three years with a stunning 13-12 victory.
Trailing by six with less than six minutes left in the game, the Warrior offense was still having a tough time waking up against Mansfield’s stifling defense. A turnover on downs halted Foxboro’s previous drive and the Hornets maintained momentum. However, a two play, 37 yard drive changed the game’s entirety.
After forcing the Hornets to punt on their own 13, the Warriors took over at Mansfield’s 37 yard line. On the second play of the drive, junior quarterback Mark Clagg tossed the ball over two Hornets’ defenders and into the hands of junior Jamaine Few for a 37 yard score to tie the game. A converted extra point from John Cronin put Foxboro ahead 13-12 with 4:50 left, the eventual game final score.
“We’ve had some pretty good football games with them these last four to five years. This is still one of the few traditions that are left that are sacred – Foxboro and Mansfield,” Warrior head coach Jack Martinelli said. “It’s important to the two communities, not only the players now but for the players three or four generations ago. It’s not very easy to beat a Mike Redding team. He’s one of the best coaches around.”
Foxboro’s defense preserved the win as they forced Mansfield to punt and turnover the ball on downs on the Hornets’ two ensuing drives following the go-ahead score. Mansfield failed to get past their own 40.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Martinelli said. “They won the first half and we won the second half.”
“They didn’t change a lot scheme wise but I’m sure [Martinelli] gave them a heck of a half-time speech to get them moving. I think the big thing was just not moving the chains and we gave them too many chances,” Mansfield head coach Mike Redding said. “The field position flipped where we are punting out of our own 15 and them starting on our 40, and you just can’t do that. Sooner or later, it will catch up to you, and certainly, penalties hurt.”
At the start of the second half, Foxboro and Mansfield exchanged turnovers and found little offensive happenings. After the Hornets forced the Warriors to punt, quarterback Anthony DeGirolamo threw an interception on a deflected pass three plays into the drive setting Foxboro up on Mansfield’s 28.
It seemed as though momentum shifted to the Warriors, however, Clagg’s 15 yard pass attempt in the end zone was picked off by Mansfield’s Colin Eutsay. Unfortunately for the Hornets, Foxboro’s defense made sure that Mansfield wouldn’t make the most of the turnover. A 20 yard rush by sophomore Joe Cox set the Hornets on their own 40 and DeGirolamo rocketed a 30 yard pass to a leaping Hunter Ferreira putting the ball at Foxboro’s 30.
An offensive holding decimated the drive and three plays later, Mansfield failed to convert on 4th and 13 to turn the ball back over to Foxboro. The Warriors then went on an eight play, 67 yard drive resulting in their first points of the game.
A roughing the passer penalty cost the Hornets 15 yards which put the ball at their 37, and Clagg capped off the drive on a 19 yard quarterback keeper, trimming Mansfield’s deficit to 12-6.
“That’s what this senior group is all about. Even in the games when we didn’t come out on top, I never saw an ounce of quit in any one of them. I’m so proud of them,” Martinelli said. “To go out as Hock champs in the Davenport with an 8-3 record, their legacy was definitely left out on the field today.
“It’s a bittersweet day. It’s a great day to play football as everyone is here but the sadness is that I have to say goodbye to 35 kids that meant the world to me for four years. They meant a lot to each other. It will never be duplicated again for them.”
The Hornets opened the game’s scoring at the 1:54 mark in the first quarter of play. Filling in for injured Brian Lynch, Cox found plenty of running room in the first half. The sophomore running back tallied 96 yards on 10 rushes. Cox delivered 45 yards on Mansfield’s first scoring drive highlighted by a 29 yard run which put the ball at Foxboro’s 28.
Five plays later, DeGirolamo struck a 16 yard pass to an open Wisnieski in the end-zone to give the Hornets the 6-0 lead with 1:54 left in the quarter.
Mansfield’s second scoring drive lasted 11 plays, going 74 yards. On a 4th and four at their own 24 yard line, Cox found enough running room for a 30 yard gain putting the ball at the Warrior 36. The Hornets found themselves at the Foxboro one yard line six plays later and Cox followed with a one yard carry to increase the Hornet lead to 12-0.
Although this was Mansfield’s first Thanksgiving loss to Foxboro in the last three years, Redding knows how important this rivalry is even when there’s nothing to be played for besides pride and town spirit.
“It’s a great rivalry but they just made one or two more plays than we did. We hadn’t missed an extra point all year and that comes back to bite you later in the game. Whatever people say about Thanksgiving rivalries not being important, they don’t know what it means to be from Mansfield,” Redding said. “This rivalry is alive and well. It’s one of the best around and it was just a great game. I give them a lot of credit, they came to play in the second half and they made enough plays to win.”
Foxboro ends the season 8-3 while Mansfield finishes 5-6.
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The story of the day was turnovers.
And the good news for Mansfield is that they won that battle against Taunton. The Hornets forced five of them, four interceptions and one fumble, and turned them into a 32-14 win over the Tigers on Saturday afternoon.
The weird thing though was the fact that Mansfield was only able to get 3 points from the five turnovers. Meanwhile, Taunton turned both of their interceptions into touchdowns.
“The plus side, our defense the last three weeks has been great, but the thing we haven’t done is get turnovers,” Mansfield head coach Mike Redding said. “Today we had four interceptions, we finally forced turnovers. The negative is we didn’t take advantage of them as much as we should have.
“We tend to have a penalty at the wrong time or a turnover at the wrong time.”
Mansfield’s offense was able to score at the right times though. After the teams traded punts to start the game, the Hornets needed just four plays to cover 41 yards to find the end zone. The first two plays even went for negative yardage but junior quarterback connected with Ben Budwey for 29 yards and sophomore Joe Cox took the next play 15 yards into the end zone. Diogo DeSousa’s extra point made it 7-0 with 5:38 left in the opening quarter.
After two more punts, the Hornets were able to get their first turnover of the day when Mansfield’s Ben Wisnieski intercepted Jared Taje’s pass near midfield and raced all the way to the 16 yard line. The momentum swing didn’t last long though as on the first play, DeGirolamo was intercepted in the end zone by Carlos Borrero.
Taunton was about to turn its first takeaway into eight points, driving 80 yards on 11 plays. Taje connected with junior Adam McLaughlin twice for a total of 48 yards and then hit Tanner Costa over the middle for 21 yards on third down. Taje tried to link up with McLaughlin in the end zone but a defensive pass interference call put the ball inside the five yard line. Damion Theodule was able to punch it in from two yards out while Costa rushed in the two point conversion. Taunton took an 8-7 lead with 5:54 left in the second quarter.
Although Mansfield couldn’t capitalize on their first takeaway, they were able to respond to Taunton’s touchdown drive. The Hornets used 10 plays to go 59 yards before regaining the lead.
Without leading rushers Brian Lynch and Connor Finerty playing, Nick Graham (10 carries, 72 yards), Connor Driscoll and Cox (14 carries, 76 yards) all moved the ball up the field on the ground. DeGirolamo went back to the air and hit Budwey right on the one yard line. On the next play, Graham found a hole and punched it in. Driscoll’s two point rush gave Mansfield a 15-8 lead with just 35 seconds in the half.
“We still have a long way to go on [offense],” Redding said. “It’s a good win though. Without Finerty, Lynch and Garvin, we had three of our top five backs out so any win in the league is good with those guys out.”
The Tigers attempted to get something going before the end of the half but Wisnieski was there again for an interception. Mansfield’s offense moved some but were forced to attempt a 39 yard field that was short as time expired in the first half.
Driscoll put an end to Taunton’s opening drive of the second half, picking Taje off on first down. Mansfield’s offense also stalled though, going four and out and were forced to punt. But that was fine as the Hornets’ defense again came up with a stop.
Mansfield’s ensuing drive got a boost to start when Taunton was flagged for fair catch interference. DeGirolamo hit sophomore Hunter Ferreira on first down for 20 yards and two plays later, Graham just raced through the defense for a 12 yard score to make it 22-8 with 4:13 left in the third.
The Tigers fumbled just two plays into their next drive and for the first – and only – time in the game, Mansfield was able to turn a takeaway into points. Diogo DeSousa hit a 24 yard field goal to extend Mansfield’s lead to 25-8 shortly before the final quarter.
“When you lose the turnover battle it keeps your defense out there and they control the clock,” Taunton head coach Chris Greding said. “The thing about Mansfield is they are so well coached and they don’t make many mistakes. Our boys knew that but we’re very young and made some mistakes. We told them they won’t make mistakes. We had to play a near perfect game. I’m proud of our effort but you can’t make those mistakes against Mansfield.”
Two plays into the next series, Joe Bukuras came away with Mansfield’s fourth interception on the game but DeGirolamo was intercepted by McLaughlin in the end zone for a touchback.
Greding inserted sophomore Collin Hunter in at quarterback on the Tigers’ next drive and was rewarded. Hunter connected with McLaughlin for six yards and then hit Michael Fernandez for 22 more yards. A short completion to McLaughlin was once against followed by a completion to Fernandez for a first down. The next to passes went to McLaughlin for 34 total yards.
Two plays later, Theodule got into the end zone from a yard out to cut the deficit 25-14 with six minutes to play. On the drive, Hunter went 6/6 for 78 yards. The sophomore finished 11/15 for 140 yards in the game.
“Collin has really progressed over the last six weeks,” Greding said, also noting the impressive play by McLaughin at receiver. “Each week he’s gotten better and better. As a staff we’re very confident putting him in if need be and he did very well.”
Mansfield capped the scoring with just over four minutes to play when Graham raced in for his third touchdown of the day, this one a 29 yard rush.
The Hornets (3-2, 2-1) will look to pick up their third league win next week when they travel to Franklin. Taunton (0-5, 0-3) will try to get into the win column when they take a trip to Community Field to take on North Attleboro.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2014 Record: 4-7
2014 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Strachan
Key/Returning Players: Kyle Murphy, Sr., OT/DT, 6-4, 275 lbs.; Brendan Nunes, Sr., WR/CB, 6-0, 175 lbs.; Tyler McGovern, Jr., QB, 6-3, 190 lbs.; John Burns, Sr., FB/OLB, 5-9, 165 lbs.; Alex Silva, Sr., TE/DE, 5-11, 185 lbs.
Outlook: The Bombardiers come into this season hoping to regain some of the magic of their 2013 run to the Div. 1 South final and doing it while replacing last year’s starting backfield and leading receiver. The reason for optimism in Attleboro is the return of senior lineman Kyle Murphy, who has emerged as a legit FBS prospect and one of the top players on the line in the state. Head coach Mike Strachan told ESPNBoston.com, “He’s got very good feet for a kid that big. We’re looking for some great things from him this season.”
In addition, junior quarterback Tyler McGovern is back under center for his second season, after splitting time with Ross Killion in 2014. McGovern has the size at 6-foot-3 and also has the arm to be a major weapon in the offense and try to make up for some of the lost production from the graduating running backs. McGovern’s growth at QB will be crucial for Attleboro. Strachan said, “He’s got a very quick release, and he’s worked on his feet all offseason. We need him to help get us back to that level we were at two years ago.”
Brendan Nunes is one of the receivers that Attleboro is hoping can turn into a primary target along with senior tight end Alex Silva, although there are question marks about who can become the No. 1 back to take pressure off McGovern and the passing game.
Defense should be a strength for the Bombardiers, who bring back almost all of last year’s starters. Murphy can dominate the line of scrimmage and forces double teams and game plans that can open space for his teammates. John Burns and the linebacking corps will be hoping to take advantage of that extra room to make plays.
2014 Record: 5-6
2014 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Sidwell
Key/Returning Players: Ben Riggs SR. 6-3, 300,OL/DL; Joe Giacolone SR 6-2, 270, OL/DL; Nick Yelle SR. 5-9, 180, LB/RB; Luke Gordon SR. 6-1, 175, WR/DB; Sam Harrell SR. 6-0, 180, WR/DB; Jake Lyons JR. 5-10, 190, RB/DB; Tyler Gomes JR. 6-1, 210, FB/DE; Brad Jarosz JR QB; Will O’Reilly SR. WR/DB; Eddie Scannapieco WR/DB
Outlook: The Panthers come into 2015 lacking varsity experience in a lot of places, but with more depth at the skill positions and improved play at the line of scrimmage that has head coach Brad Sidwell entering his 20th season with hopes of getting Franklin into the tournament after back-to-back 5-6 seasons. He said, “Not a lot of experience, but many have been progressing through the sub varsity programs.[We] will play physical football.”
The Panthers will be starting a new quarterback this season with junior Brad Jarosz expected to take over under center and he will have plenty of weapons to use in Franklin’s typically up-tempo offense. Nick Yelle will be in the backfield along with Jake Lyons, while Sam Harrell, Will O’Reilly, Luke Gordon and Eddie Scannapieco are all back on the outside. The offensive line is improved, according to Sidwell, although it may lack depth in case of injuries. Ben Riggs and Joe Giacolone are two-way linemen that can be dominant on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, Franklin will hope that the skill position players continue to develop into strong players in the secondary, while counting on junior defensive end Tyler Gomes to continue his emergence as a strong presence in the pass rush. Franklin will be counting on the opening games against Arlington and Milford to prepare it for the battles to come in the Kelley-Rex Division.
Sidwell said, “Looking forward to working with this group, hard working and great attitude. Getting off to a good start and gaining confidence will be important.”
2014 Record: 10-1
2014 Finish: Reached D2 South final
Coach: Brian Lee
Key/Returning Players: John DeLuca, Jr. QB; Bill Dittrich, Sr. OL/DL; James Cooke, Sr. OL/DL; Cory Lombardo, Sr. LB; Nick Bernier Garzon, Sr. DL; Steven Eaton, Sr. RB; R.J. McCarthy, Sr. WR/DB, Giovanni Fernandez, Jr. RB
Outlook: King Philip is coming off its first outright league title and a trip to the Div. 2 South final where it gave eventual state champion Marshfield one of its toughest games of the season. The Warriors are a team based on ball control offense and hard-nosed defense and despite losing a strong core from last year’s squad, head coach Brian Lee will ensure that KP remains a tough team to play against even with a host of young players.
Quarterback John Deluca returns for his junior season, but without some of the weapons that were so prolific from last year including HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Mark Glebus and wideout Kyle Loewen. Senior running back Steven Eaton will take most of the carries and is hoping to develop some of the explosiveness that made Glebus such a weapon last year. Junior Gio Fernandez also saw some carries last year and is a load at running back, especially in short-yardage situations. Senior R.J. McCarthy is a player to watch at receiver.
The offensive and defensive lines remain a strength for KP with Bill Dittrich and James Cooke returning. Nick Bernier Garzon will also help out on the line, but the key to the defense is senior middle linebacker Cory Lombardo who will be the leader and continues the pattern of strong linebackers at KP.
If the offense can find a groove and the young players develop quickly, KP will have its sights set on a second straight Hockomock title. But, as Lee said, there are “a lot of rookies out there.”
2014 Record: 6-5
2014 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Redding
Key/Returning Players: Diogo Desousa, Jr. K/DE, 5-11, 182 lbs.; Connor Finerty, Sr. RB/LB, 5-11, 200 lbs.; Anthony DeGirolamo, Jr. QB/DB, 5-11, 165 lbs.; Ben Wisnieski, Sr. RB/DB, 5-10, 160 lbs.; Hunter Ferreira, Jr. WR/DB, 6-1, 185 lbs.; Brian Lynch, Jr. RB/DB, 5-8, 170 lbs.; Nick Krouskos, Jr. FB/LB, 5-9, 175 lbs.; Mike Arnold, Sr. TE/DE, 6-1, 205 lbs.; Josh Schafer, Jr. OL/DL, 6-2, 230 lbs.; Matt Kashtan, Sr. OG/NG, 5-8 195 lbs.; Joe Bukuras, Jr. RB/DB, 5-9, 160 lbs.; A.J. Gibbs, Jr. OL/DL, 5-11, 270 lbs.
Outlook: Mansfield enters the season with plenty of depth on both sides of the ball, as the Hornets try to regain the Kelley-Rex Division crown they lost to King Philip in an injury-plagued 2014 season. Head coach Mike Redding, entering his 28th year in charge, is expecting to learn quite a bit about his team with St. John’s Prep, Haverhill, KP, and Attleboro to start the season. Redding noted, “We will need to be hitting on all cylinders for those key games early.”
“Overall, we’re on the young side and a little undersized, but very talented at skill positions and we have very good overall team strength and good team chemistry and leadership,” said Redding.
Mansfield will be making a change under center with junior Anthony Girolamo taking over and his task will be made a little easier by the talented backfield of senior Connor Finerty and junior Brian Lynch, who is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign that saw him rush for eight touchdowns and more than 800 yards. In addition, the Hornets have talent on the edges with receivers Ben Budwey and Hunter Ferreira and athletic tight end Mike Arnold. Junior Josh Schafer will be a player to watch on the line.
Finerty headlines the defensive unit as the outside linebacker and leader on that side of the ball. He will be joined by Ferreira and Anthony Keefe on the outside with Nick Krouskos, Travis Sjoberg, and Nick Martin in the middle. The real strength of the defense could lie in the secondary with all four starters returning and plenty of depth behind them. Joe Bukuras and Connor Driscoll are the corners with Ben Budwey and Ben Wisnieski at safety. Special teams will also be strong with returning kicker Diogo DeSousa, who Redding calls “one of the best kickers” he has had in his time with the Hornets.
2014 Record: 8-3
2014 Finish: Reached D3 Southwest Quarterfinal
Coach: Don Johnson
Key/Returning Players: Connor Flynn, Sr. K/RB/LB; Nick Morrison, Sr. RB/LB; Bobby Mylod, Jr. RB/LB; Nick Rajotte, Jr. RB/DB; Brodey Barr, Sr. QB/DB; Kyle McCarthy, Jr. QB/DB; Ridge Olsen, Sr. WR/DB; Kyle Gaumond, Sr. WR/DB; Patrick Johnson, Sr. RB/WR/DB; Andy Katch, Sr. OL/DL; Joe Flaherty, Sr. OL; Brendan Nally, Jr. OL; Alex Dion, Sr. OL; Josh Morrison, Sr. OL/DL; Sam Morrison, Sr. OL/DL; Tom Reynolds, Jr. OL/DL; Davon Andrade, Sr. TE/DL
Outlook: After a stunning home loss to Medfield in the opening round of the Div. 3 Southwest playoffs last fall, North Attleboro returns a number of skill position players with hopes of making a run at the Kelley-Rex Division title.
The backfield is loaded with seniors Connor Flynn, who averaged 12.1 yards per carry until a wrist injury kept him out, and Nick Morrison providing steady hands and downhill running while being pushed by the explosive duo of juniors Nick Rajotte and Bobby Mylod, who combined for 13 touchdowns last season. Head coach Don Johnson said of his running backs, “All four backs are versatile and can play multiple positions.” On the outside, North boasts plenty of size at wideout with 6-foot-5 senior Ridge Olsen on one side and Kyle Gaumond on the other.
The biggest question mark is who will be getting the ball to those skill position players? There has been a three-way battle at quarterback during the preseason between senior Brodey Barr, who saw some time under center last year and was primarily a runner, athletic junior Kyle McCarthy, and sophomore Chad Peterson. Johnson explained, “We could use them all, but it might depend more upon how things shake out at other positions, particularly on defense. All three are competitive athletes that can help us in other spots.”
Defensively, North has loads of depth on the line if not loads of experience. Senior twins Josh and Sam Morrison will split time along with senior Davon Andrade and senior defensive tackle Andy Katch, The linebacking corps features Mylod in the middle with Flynn and Nick Morrison on the outside. In the secondary, Gaumond, Barr, Rajotte, Olsen, McCarthy, and Patrick Johnson will all be in the mix depending on match-ups.
2014 Record: 2-9
2014 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chris Greding
Key/Returning Players: Brian Cherenfant, RB/DB; Jake Norberto, OL; Santiago Lopez, OL; Jason DaRosa, RB; Damion Theodule, DB; Matt Grey, LB; Jared Williams, DL; Tanner Costa, RB/DB; Lazare Joseph, RB; Adam McLaughlin, WR; Connor Briggs, OL; Nick Brown, DL; Sylvester English, DL; Zakeem Harrow, DL; John Chretien, LB; Breven Walker, DB; Amir Rehim, LB
Outlook: The Tigers are coming off a 2-9 season and will have a new quarterback under center, but head coach Chris Greding is counting on his depth on the line and at the skill positions and overall team speed to get Taunton in the mix in the division.
Senior Brain Cherenfant is one of the fastest players in the league and gives the Tigers a weapon both on offense and in special teams. He will be joined in the backfield by Jason DeRosa, Lazare Joseph and Coyle transfer Tanner Costa, giving Taunton a number of weapons. Adam McLaughlin will be a player to watch at wideout.
The line has also been strengthened with Jake Norberto and Santiago Lopez coming back on the offensive side of the ball and Jared Williams on defense. Connor Briggs will be another player to keep an eye on opening holes for the backs, while the defensive line is bolstered by Florida transfer Sylvester English, Texas transfer Nick Brown, and Boston transfer Zakeem Harrow. The linebacking corps includes Matt Grey and John Chretien, while Breven Walker, Cherenfant and Costa will all play bog roles in the secondary.