MANSFIELD, Mass. — Franklin and Mansfield are no longer competing for the same division title in the Hockomock League but that hasn’t changed anything in this rivalry.
The Hornets got off to a strong start offensively, locked in defensively all night long, and junior Trevor Foley had a big second half en route to a 56-46 win over the Panthers in the lone meeting of the season.
Mansfield hit five of its nine three-pointers inside the first eight minutes and forced Franklin into 12 of its 16 turnovers in the first half, limiting the visitors to just four points in the second quarter.
Foley had a quiet first half with just one make but roared to life in the second half, scoring 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the floor while hauling in eight rebounds. His one-handed slam gave Mansfield its largest lead (38-26) with three minutes to go in the third quarter, capping a 10-point quarter for the junior.
“It’s a lot less stressful that we don’t have to play them again in three weeks,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. It marks the first time in his tenure (2005) that the teams will only play once. “We’ll miss that, we want to play them a second time because this game brings so much out of everyone. The kids really care, it matters to them, it’s like a state tournament game. That’s why we do this, it’s not for the 40-point wins or losses, it’s for games like this that you can find a way to play your best and gut out a win.
“They’re a good basketball team, we knew they’d hit some shots so our job was just to minimalize it to the best of our ability, and I thought we did that. They had a strategy to try and offset things we were doing but we were able to rotate, force a few turnovers, and got a lot of deflections to disrupt what they were trying to do. That’s just guys having a high basketball IQ and being committed for 32 minutes. I think that was a difference, we were locked in the whole game.”
Early threes from Davon Sanders (nine points, five assists, four rebounds, four steals) and Caden Colby (five points, six rebounds) gave the Hornets the lead off the bat, and Franklin was forced to play catch-up the rest of the way.
While the first quarter was more back-and-forth — which featured a pair of threes from Franklin senior Justin Allen (16 points, 5 rebounds) — a late triple from Sanders put the Hornets in front the rest of the way.
“I thought we played with pretty good pace, I just thought we didn’t take care of the basketball especially early in the basketball game,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely. “We were flying up and down, and getting it up the court quick…but you can’t decide when it’s time to play. I thought we came out very soft and very slow, and a bit careless with the ball. We usually move the ball a lot better, but we didn’t get it moving side to side like we like to do, and we didn’t get a lot of paint touches and that’s a credit to their defense.
“The second quarter really did us in. The lead got to nine or 10 points, and it’s hard to come back against a team like Mansfield because they grind it out, you have to be perfect. Give them credit because they out-executed us tonight.”
The lead held up thanks in part to Mansfield’s swarming defense, which limited Franklin to just 2-for-10 shooting in the second and five turnovers. The Panthers were strong on defense as well as they held the Hornets to just 10 points. JT Veiking came off the bench and scored all eight of his points in the first half to help give his squad a 27-18 lead at halftime.
“A game like this, and they do the same thing, you start preparing for this one a week ago,” Vaughan said. “You’re starting to put some stuff in, starting to talk about certain things, and you’re not using names but talking about things that will happen tonight. What we do as coaches, we’re not going to allow our teams to fail at our expense and we’re going to do everything we possibly can. If we play this game 100 times, we win 50 and they win 50, that’s just how these games go.
“When you play them, you empty everything and then try to come up with new stuff for the second time around. It’s just a chess match. Even the stuff CJ did with us tonight, that they haven’t done before. We both do our base stuff but there’s a wrinkle here, a wrinkle there. At the end of the day, they didn’t shoot as well as they’d like and if they shot better, it’s a different game. But that doesn’t take away from how committed and how hard we played and the plays we had to make. Every game with them is its own war and you just come up with twists and turns and trying to figure out how to gain one more basket because that’s what these games come down to.”
Foley didn’t take long to get going in the second half, finishing off a steal from Eddie McCoy (8 points, 5 assists) for the first bucket of the third quarter. Sanders added his third triple and Brandon Jackman converted a putback through traffic, and then Foley broke loose for a one-handed slam with authority for a 38-26 lead.
“It meant even more than it usually does because we only play them once so it’s a sweet victory,” Foley said. “It was a team effort. We moved the ball quickly on offense letting us create some driving lanes to the basket. We doubled [Sean] O’Leary on defense because he’s a great player but it was just smart, disciplined basketball and a team effort.”
Allen, Bradley Herndon, and Ben Harvey all found success attacking the basket but Foley answered for the Hornets and kept the hosts ahead by double-digits, 42-32, going into the fourth.
The Panthers continued to claw back into it as Caden Sullivan splashed in a three early and had another three-point attempt in the air that just rimmed out that would have cut the deficit to four. Andrew O’Neill had a strong take to the rim to get it back to eight, but Foley answered on the other end.
“He missed some early ones that I thought would have created a little bit of separation, and he was frustrated with himself,” Vaughan said of Foley. “The thing you love about a kid like Foley is that he self-motivates. I don’t need to get on him about that, he knows how important a game like this is. I talked to him before the game about not fouling out and being able to cover a kid like O’Leary, and he did it. He stayed disciplined and he made everything difficult and that’s why we can win games because we have special players like him on the floor.”
Sean O’Leary (15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) converted through contact and Franklin’s defense forced a turnover with just under three minutes to go. A miss on the front end of a one-and-one gave Mansfield possession back, and after using nearly the entire 35-second shot clock, Chris Hill drained a triple to extend the lead back to 10 with just over two minutes left.
“That was the key to the game just trying to minimize what they want to do,” Vaughan said. “We wanted to slow [O’Leary] down because he’s an elite level player in the league and then not giving up anything uncontested. There was a play late when we ran three kids at the ball, that was the focus. Our defense made a big difference.”
Mansfield boys basketball (8-1 Hockomock, 13-1 overall) is back in action on Friday with a trip to Canton. Franklin (8-1, 9-1) will try to bounce back from its first loss at home against Milford.
Attleboro has consistently been in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division in recent years, and if the Bombardiers are going to be there again this year, they will have to do so with a lot of new players to the varsity level.
Not only did the Bombardiers graduate a sizable senior class, but the majority of them were also key pieces in longtime head coach Mark Houle’s lineup and rotation. Add in the transfer of promising 6’5-forward Trevor White, and Attleboro has very few pieces left from last year. But that’s not to say Attleboro is without talent. Junior Neo Franco is coming off a very successful first year with the team, earning HockomockSports All-Underclassmen Team honors. Jaiden Outland saw more and more minutes as the season went on and he showed what he’s capable of with a career-high 18 points in Attleboro’s win over Durfee in late February last year; he could be poised for a big year. Senior Michael Beverly is the third returner for the Bombardiers after picking up some minutes last year while newcomer senior Justin Hanrahan could be a key piece right away.
Another reason for optimism is that most of the new faces in the lineup this year played for the Bombardiers’ JV squad last season, which posted an impressive 19-2 record. Seniors Spencer Sherck, Zyeem Charles, Nathan Hodson, and Michael Alfonso will provide key leadership for Houle this year. Junior Max Crawford will join sophomores Dante Monestime, Hayden Crowley, and Brady Erwin as potential contributors for the Bombardiers.
“We need to continue our commitment to be a highly competitive defensive team, our communication, and understanding of defensive concepts is a priority and is a reason we were one of the top defensive teams in the league last year,” Houle said.
2021-2022 Record: 9-11 Coach: Eric MacKinnon
Canton surprised a lot of people on the outside of the program with a nine-win season that certainly was good enough for a playoff spot, but the Bulldogs have put that seeding drama in the rearview mirror and are now focused on surprising people again this year.
In order to do so, the Bulldogs will need new players to step up as second-year head coach Eric MacKinnon only has one returning starter from last year. Matt Chafin emerged as a top perimeter option, averaging 8.8 points per game last year (reaching double figures in just under half of the games). Although he isn’t returning from last year’s lineup, Julius Hicks provides a big boost for MacKinnon and Bulldogs, coming back after missing all of last season with an injury. Hicks would have certainly been in the rotation last year and will be a vital piece this year. Junior Zaza Francoeur is an athletic wing player that can impact the game on both ends of the floor for the Bulldogs.
Defense emerged as one of Canton’s strengths a season ago as the Bulldogs bought into MacKinnon’s game plan. Canton allowed the least amount of points against in the Davenport division at 50.6, and they will look to replicate that again this year.
“With our personnel and style of play we have the ability to score from the perimeter and play inside-out at times,” MacKinnon said. “Our length and athleticism should allow us to get out in transition.”
Foxboro is one of the few teams in the league that has more familiar faces returning than not, and after only missing out on the Davenport title by one game last year, the Warriors are aiming to compete with defending champs Sharon and division newcomer Mansfield for the top spot this season.
The Warriors boast one of the better senior classes, anchored by HockomockSports First Team selection Alex Penders. Penders, a 6-foot-5 forward who averaged 16.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game last year and recently committed to play at Ithaca next year, is joined by classmates Sam Golub, Ryan LeClair, and Andrew Finn. Golub and LeClair played a lot of minutes for head coach Jon Gibbs last season and both improved as the season went on. Having three experienced players will certainly give the Warriors an advantage, especially on the defensive side of the ball where Gibbs always has his teams prepared.
Penders can score in a variety of ways and will be a matchup problem for most teams in the league. Golub is a proven shooter that can get hot at any time while LeClair is a pesky defender, and as seen by his performance on the road at Stoughton last year, is a capable scorer. Penders will certainly be the focus of the offense but he’s a very unselfish player and Foxboro should have a good balance in the scoring column. While the Warriors have a strong senior class, they’re still a relatively young team. With only two juniors, the rest of the roster is filled by six sophomores and two freshmen. Junior Ryan Cotter and sophomores Ryan Kelley and Nolan Gordon will be names to keep an eye on.
“This is a very hard-working and coachable group that is improving on a daily basis,” Gibbs said. “We have a very exciting blend of experienced veterans and newcomers who are hungry to contribute. If we can defend and rebound at a high level, the potential is there for a very successful season.”
2021-2022 Record: 21-4 Coach: CJ Neely
Entering the past two seasons, there was a lot of unknown for the Panthers after graduating a large senior class each year. It’s the opposite this year as Franklin graduated just three players and has the majority of last year’s squad that went 21-4 back in the fold.
After a third-place finish in the Kelley-Rex last season, Franklin could be the team to beat this go around. Junior Sean O’Leary highlights a talented and experienced group of long, athletic players. O’Leary, a 6-foot-4 forward that can score from anywhere on the court and was named to the HockomockSports All-Underclassmen Team last year, will be one of the top players in the league this year. Junior Andrew O’Neill (8.8 points per game) is another returner and head coach CJ Neely will lean on a small but talented senior class that features Ben Harvey (HockomockSports All-Defensive Team), Justin Allen, Geino Scaringello, and Hayden Morandi.
Juniors Hansy Jacques, Bradley Herndon, and Andrew Benoit were all on the team last year and could see increased minutes this season. There will be more opportunities on offense for players to step up with the graduation of Sean Vinson (12.8 ppg) and last year’s leading scorer and HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Henry Digirogio (16.1 ppg) has opted not to play this year. And promising sophomore Caden Sullivan, who likely would have been in the rotation, will miss significant time due to injury.
“The preseason has been very competitive at practice,” Neely said. “We have a great group of guys who really care for each other. While we do have a good amount of returning players, there is a lot of playing time up for grabs and it will be a daily challenge for guys to earn roles. I have been most impressed with how committed and focused the players have been each day on the court and in film sessions to always look for ways to improve as a group. It will be fun to watch them grow and compete all year.”
2021-2022 Record: 6-16 Head Coach: Dave DeStefano
King Philip brings back a good portion of its roster and is looking to book a spot in the tournament and contend for the Kelley-Rex division title.
The Warriors are one of the few teams in the league that brings back their leading scorer from a year ago in Will Laplante, a seasoned veteran that has averaged over 16 points per year in each of the last two seasons. Laplante is joined by senior Grant Kinney, who had some breakout games last year, and Tommy Martorano, who showed that at his best (a career-high 36 points) that he can score with the best players in the league. That trio is three of KP’s top five scorers from a year ago. Senior Colin Peck, a 6-foot-2 forward, will likely see an expanded role after playing some valuable minutes last year.
Juniors Tommy McLeish and Trevor Clyde, both 6-foot-3 forwards, have made a big jump from last year and will be key pieces for head coach Dave DeStefano this year. New additions Danny Silveria and Peter Cataldo, both juniors, look to factor in as key defensive pieces for the Warriors. Sophomore Tommy Kilroy didn’t see a ton of minutes early on last year but his role expanded as the season went on, scoring in double figures against Mansfield and in a win over Xaverian. Fellow sophomores Brandon Nicastro, Drew Laplante, and Jack Assini will all looking to contribute this season as well.
“The boys have really committed this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The limited practices so far have been really competitive. It’s no secret that our defense has to drastically improve to be competitive in the league. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops. On offense, we are looking to have a balanced attack and create great scoring opportunities as a team.”
2021-2022 Record: 21-5 Coach: Mike Vaughan
Mansfield had its incredible streak of nine straight Kelley-Rex division titles come to an end last season, and now the Hornets start a new chapter as they begin their first season in the Davenport. Expectations remain sky-high for the Hornets, who are an immediate favorite for the division crown.
The Hornets have two of their best scorers back from last year in senior Chris Hill (12.5 ppg) and junior Trevor Foley (8.2 ppg), but Mansfield did graduate its leading scorer in Matty Hyland and lost five of its top seven scorers. That means there’s a lot of opportunity for new faces to step up. Hill has probably played more varsity minutes than anyone else in the league and he can compete at a high-level night in and night out. Foley really emerged as a top player by the end of the season, averaging over 16 points per game in March.
Senior Caden Colby was part of the rotation last year and will see a bigger role this year while classmate JT Veiking is a 6-foot-5 forward that can score on the perimeter or down low. Senior Michael Creedon rounds out the senior class and can provide a spark with increased minutes this year. Junior Eddie McCoy is poised for a breakout year, an athletic wing player that can attack the rim and cause problems for opposing defenses. Juniors Brandon Jackman and Davon Sanders should see time in the Mansfield backcourt this year.
“This season will be our tallest team in my tenure, it will be fun to see what different things we can do on the defensive end,” Vaughan said. “Offensively we should have plenty of power to put points on the board but the big question mark will be how quickly we can find our max compete level.”
2021-2022 Record: 2-21 Coach: Paul Seaver
Milford had an entirely new team last season and was the youngest team in the league. With just four seniors gone from last year, the Hawks are still a young team but head coach Paul Seaver believes his group learned a lot last year and is trending in the right direction.
The Scarlet Hawks have three of the top four scorers from last season back in the fold, including junior Jake Soares (8.0 ppg), sophomore Andrew Rivera (7.8 ppg), and senior Wyatt Zagami (7.1 ppg). Zagami, who can really fill it up when he’s on a hot streak, is joined by classmates Guy Saintyl, Jacob Ligor, and Joe Buckley to round out a small senior class for the Hawks. Soares was probably Milford’s most consistent player for the first two months before an injury ended his season early, and Rivera showed some glimpses of high-level play throughout the year.
Having a year of experience will be key, especially as a lot of other Hock teams are featuring a lot of first-year varsity players. Sophomore Luca Testa is another young player that saw a lot of minutes for the Hawks last year and will be a key piece during this campaign. Sophomore Gus Coutinho is a dangerous shooter and freshman CJ Farrell could be an impact player right away as well.
“Last season we were very young and very inexperienced,” Seaver said. “We learned how to compete while playing a tough schedule. Now with double digits returnees, we not only aim to improve on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball – we aim to improve in all aspects. Our goals and expectations will be what we make them and what we do with the opportunities that are given to us. I have a great crop of kids who are committed, hard-working individuals who continue to climb the ladder and do things the right way.”
2021-2022 Record: 5-15 Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
North Attleboro battled through an up-and-down season last year that featured some impressive wins — like a double-digit victory over Foxboro and a sweep of Stoughton — as well as some tough losses, like to Foxboro in overtime and to rival Attleboro by just three points. The Rocketeers graduated their two leading scorers from a year ago but return the majority of a roster that was playing their first varsity minutes last year.
Besides its four seniors last year, the rest of the Rocketeers were brand new to the varsity level. That means this year’s group will feature a bit more experience, albeit North is still on the young side. Givany Carney is North’s most experienced player and will be one of the go-to options on the offensive end of the court. Carney is a crafty player that does well getting to the rim with a good combination of speed and size. Senior Jack Munley is a tone-setter and can change the momentum of a game with his effort while senior Derek Maceda showed glimpses last season as a potential go-to guy offensively, both on the perimeter and attacking the basket.
Sophomores Ryan Bannon and Chase Frisoli both played some valuable minutes as freshmen and should see increased roles this year. Bannon is a solid defender and can be a contributor on the offensive end while Frisoli is a high-IQ player with range. Junior Chris Hanewich is another player that head coach Sean Mulkerrins is relying on to contribute on both ends of the floor. With some good experience, North will be looking to establish itself as one of the hardest-working teams in the league, which starts on the defensive end.
“We have a roster of kids who are working hard to improve and learn our system,” Mulkerrins said. “Our practices have been very competitive. We are very focused on building and maintaining our team culture so we are prepared to compete against the talented basketball programs in the Hockomock League.”
2021-2022 Record: 10-12 Coach: Oliver Vil
Oliver Ames is going to have a new look this year under second-year head coach Oliver Vil. The Tigers lost the majority of the team that won a preliminary playoff game last season and missed out on the Davenport division title by just a game.
Not only will the lineup feature new faces, but it will also feature a lot of new faces as the Tigers have a deep group this year. Senior captains Chris Elias and Ari Spiliakos are two returners that will be leaders for the team both on and off the court. Senior Nick Asiaf is a capable ball handler and can attack the rim while seniors Nick Rhodes and Jaden Graham provide key depth. Sophomore Cole Craffey played some meaningful minutes a year ago and will be one of the Tigers’ go-to options offensively this year. He’s very confident with the ball and can score inside and out.
With seven of their top eight scorers from a season ago gone, there will be plenty of opportunity for new players to step up. Freshman Solen Lolonga was in the starting lineup for the Tigers’ season-opening win over Southeastern and had a strong showing with 19 points. Vil also has a deep junior class that features Jake Willard, Daniel Casey, Andrew Sullivan, and David Rodgers, who all played in the win.
“Our strength this season on offense will be our ability to move the ball and create shots for one another,” Vil said. “We will have the same defense approach as last season, forcing our opponents into taking difficult shots and limiting transition offensive baskets. We now have minimal room for careless mistakes to compete in an already difficult conference. I am extremely excited to battle a plethora of well-coached disinclined teams every night we step on the floor to play a game this season.”
2021-2022 Record: 12-9 (Davenport division champions) Coach: Andrew Ferguson
Sharon won its first Davenport division title in eight seasons last year and with its top three scoring options back in the mix this year, the Eagles will be in contention to repeat that feat again this year.
Senior Matt Baur and juniors Jacob McLoughlin and Nate Katznelson give Sharon one of the top trios of players in the league. Baur, who earned HockomockSports First Team honors last year after averaging 15.1 points and 6 rebounds a game, is the heart and soul of the team. He leads by example both on and off the court and is the engine of the team. He doesn’t have to fill up the scoring column to have a big impact on the game. Both Katznelson and McLoughlin emerged as top players in their first season and will be vital pieces this year.
Senior captains Jack Bates and Tyler Goodman both came off the bench as key pieces for head coach Andrew Ferguson last year and will see increased responsibility this year. Bates is a pesky defender and a good floor general while Goodman can provide a spark with his shooting. Senior Dante James, an athletic wing player, comes over from Mansfield and should give the Eagles a big boost with their depth. Juniors Ryan Brown, Anthony Piron, and Cam Sherman provide backcourt depth while juniors Zach Wise, Jaden Segal, and sophomore Sam Letendre provide physicality to the Eagles’ frontcourt.
“With a small senior class, this team is blending experience with youth and has already begun to form a tight bond both on and off the court. Our practices have been super competitive and we look forward to competing against a very strong schedule.”
2021-2022 Record: 9-11 Coach: Evan Taylor
Last season, Stoughton entered the final stretch of league games right in the mix for the Davenport division title but ended up on the outside looking in finishing in a tie for fourth and just missing out on the postseason. With just a few returners back in the mix, the Knights will be looking for a new group of players to lead them into the tournament and contend for the division crown.
Stoughton has two major challenges to address this year, one on each side of the ball. The Black Knights lost their three top scorers from last year with Connor Andrews (19.9 ppg) and Cash Mathurin (5.9 ppg) graduating, and Rayan Sablon (18.3 ppg) transferring out. Head coach Evan Taylor will lean heavily on his four returning players to try and fill that void. Senior Jayden Costa Haywood played some meaningful minutes a season ago and has taken a big leap and the Knights will look for him to provide an offensive punch. Junior Liam Pearl (5.2 ppg) also worked his way into the rotation and made some key shots in clutch moments, including at Foxboro and at home against Canton. Sophomore Matthew Greenspoon (5.6 ppg) is the top scorer back from last year and will look to build on a strong debut season as a freshman.
The other challenge for Stoughton will be on the defensive end as the Knights look to make a drastic improvement after allowing over 60 points per game last year. On top of the returners, Taylor is looking for senior Tagh Swierzewski and junior Jarred Daughtry to make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball. Other newcomers include senior Obioma Dike, juniors Elijah Connor, and Nathan Figaro, sophomore Mykel Thomas, and freshmen Anthony Alessi and Aiden Rideout.
“Defense has been the main focus at the start of this season,” Taylor said. “Our goal is to be a top three defense in the league with a lot of great on-ball defenders and high IQ players on the
2020-2021 Record: 19-3 (Kelley-Rex division champions) Coach: Charlie Dacey
This season will mark a new chapter in the storied history of Taunton basketball. After back-to-back Kelley-Rex championships, including the program’s first outright title a year ago, the Tigers will have a lot of new faces in the lineup this year.
The biggest challenge will be replacing the production from one of the best trios in the Hock in recent history in Player of the Year Trent Santos, Faisal Mass, and Tristan Herry, who combined for just under 75% of the team’s scoring last year. One of the familiar faces returning to the starting group is junior Troy Santos, who has the most career points of anyone on the roster. Santos showed some flashes last year but will have a lot more looks this year. Seniors Chris Volcy and Alvinsky Morisseau, and junior Tyson Carter are also returners from last year and figure to see increased minutes this season.
Senior Chris Perault could be the biggest addition for the Tigers, a player that can score both from the perimeter and attacking the basket. Santos will factor in as one of the top shooters both on the team and in the league while Volcy has really improved from last year and could be a top scoring option for the Tigers. Longtime head coach Charlie Dacey is looking for Dimari Brown and Travis Johnson to provide a spark on the low block, plus some more faces to step up off of the bench.
“This year’s Taunton team will be very different from last year. This edition will be faster without a singular scorer, points can come from a variety of styles,” Dacey said. “Speed and aggressive defense will be the key to Taunton’s success this year.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – A balanced attack on offense and a dominant effort defensively turned out to be the perfect recipe for Mansfield on Thanksgiving Day.
Buoyed by five different touchdown scorers, Mansfield clinched the Davenport division title with a convincing 33-0 win over rival Foxboro, also notching its first shutout on Thanksgiving since 2009.
“We had a heck of a year winning the division and winning nine games,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “I think both teams have a lot to be proud of. And both teams have a lot of good players back and it will be fun next year for sure.
“I thought we had good balance. Just everything went our way in the first half…this was a great way to wrap it up against a good Foxboro team, and to play dominate. Especially coming off a tough playoff loss, this flips this season. Finishing at 9-2 is a lot better than 8-3 and losing your last two. We had two weeks to get ready, we worked hard on the field and in the weight room, just a great effort by our seniors.”
Senior linebacker Kyle Murphy was named the Don Currivan MVP for the Hornets while senior captain Jephte Jean earned the Matt McCue Lineman of the Game for Mansfield. Foxboro’s Lincoln Moore (Vin Igo MVP) and Andrew Finn (Jeff Parker Lineman of the Game) earned the honors for the Warriors.
“I’ve been playing with these kids since second grade, and we’ve worked year in and year out, and it’s a brotherhood really,” said Murphy, who missed last season recovering from an injury. “It means a lot for it to end in a satisfying way. We won’t get this chance to play together again but I’m grateful to share the field with these boys one last time.
“We were physical and we had a lot of energy. I think we wanted it more than them on every single play, it meant more to us.”
“He’s a great story,” Redding said of Murphy. “He didn’t play varsity last year coming off a knee injury. He had a phenomenal year on defense for us and I’m so happy for him to get the MVP today because he worked so hard to get back on the year.
“He came in this year like a man possessed. He was one of our best defensive players and played great football for us.”
Mansfield took control in the first quarter and never surrendered it the rest of the way. On the first series of the game, the Hornets only needed four plays before finding the end zone. Junior backup quarterback Connor Curtis came in after three plays, and although he’s been called on mostly to run with the ball, he slung a deep pass down the middle. Foxboro’s defensive backs were able to get their hands up, but the ball bounced back in the air and junior receiver Trevor Foley hauled it in with one hand and went the distance for a 47-yard touchdown. Travis Hennessy’s point after put Mansfield ahead 7-0 just over two minutes into the game.
Foxboro looked to mount a response with a lengthy drive and marched into Hornet territory. But on the 11th play of the drive, Mansfield junior Brandon Jackman read the play and jumped on a short pass, and took it to the house for a 77-yard interception return with 3:15 left in the opening quarter.
Mansfield’s defense delivered again, forcing a quick three and out. The offense was quick to reward the defense. Junior Tommy Smith, who started the year on JV but was called up due to injury after two weeks, broke free up the left sideline, following a great block from right tackle Jason Riley, who pulled to the left, and Smith raced away for an 80-yard touchdown, boosting Mansfield’s advantage to 20-0 with 40.5 seconds left in the first quarter.
“Things just snowballed early and we took control and made some great plays,” Redding said. “Tommy Smith stepped up big this year and ended up as our leading rusher and one of the best stories of the season.”
Foxboro had its best drive of the game in the second quarter, covering 59 yards on 15 plays to move inside the Mansfield 10-yard line after a 9-yard pass and catch from Mike Marcucella to Tony Sulham.
The Warriors tried to get the run game going with Moore (58 yards on nine carries) and sophomore Ben Angelini, but Mansfield’s front seven controlled the line. Jean and senior Colton Johnson combined for a tackle for a loss on first down, and then Hennessy, Murphy, and Ryan DeGirolamo combined for a third down stop. Foxboro’s 23-yard field goal attempt was just wide with 3:05 left.
“It felt really good to win this game,” Jean said. “We had a tough loss to Milford but we bounced back and it’s great to get a big dub on my final game in the Mansfield jersey.”
That was plenty of time for Mansfield to find the end zone again. Conner Zukowski (11/12, 167 yards) hit Drew Sacco for 15 yards on first down, then linked up with Foley for the first time for 35 yards. Zukowski hooked up with CJ Bell for 14 yards down to the 2-yard line. Despite some big tackles from Moore and junior Brandon Mazenkes-O’Grady on first and second down, Zukowski scrambled just inside the pylon for a 6-yard touchdown with just 17.8 seconds left in the half to make it 26-0.
“They were the better football team, pure and simple,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “They were a lot hungrier than we were. I guess we never really recovered from losing in the playoffs [on Saturday]. Give them all the credit, they executed better. We had some chances to make some plays early on but we didn’t make any plays.”
Both Mansfield and Foxboro entered the game undefeated through three games in the Davenport division, but the Hornets really didn’t have a blemish as they outscored their first three division foes 115-0 — yes, three games and three shutouts.
That trend continued as Mansfield continued the shutout in the second half. Foxboro started the second half with the ball but just two plays in, Bell hauled in an overthrow for an interception to get Mansfield the ball back.
That led to an eight-play, 66-yard drive from the Hornets. It started with a mix of Smith and Sacco, and then a 38-yard pass to Bell moved the sticks. Moore once again had a tackle for loss inside the five for the Foxboro defense, but Sacco plunged in from 2 yards out two plays later for the final score of the game.
“It was an emphasis at halftime that we didn’t want to give up any points,” Redding said. “We don’t really care if we score another point in the second half but let’s play defense. We haven’t gotten a shutout in this game in a long time. I don’t think we were aware of not being scored on in the division but it was more about getting a shutout on Thanksgiving against a really good team.
“Their film in September, they looked young but talented…their film in November, they looked really good,” Redding said of Foxboro. “They have a lot of good pieces, they’re going to be very, very good a year from now. And it’ll be another battle on Thanksgiving. They had a great year, Jack did an unbelievable job after they started 0-3 to turn it around and get to the final four.”
Mansfield football finishes 9-2 overall and 4-0 in the Davenport while Foxboro finishes at 6-6 overall and 3-1 in league action.
Football Division 1
#16 Weymouth, 6 @ #1 Franklin, 36 – Final 1Q: (F) Jase Lyons 8-yard pass to Derek Dubriske, Garrett Portesi XP good; (W) Weymouth kick return, XP failed.
2Q: (F) Mike Davide 6-yard rush, XP failed; (F) Ethan Pflomm 22-yard fumble return, XP failed.
3Q: (F) M. Davide 2-yard rush, G. Portesi XP good.
4Q: (F) J. Lyons 13-yard pass to Luke Davis, G. Portesi XP good; (F) G. Portesi 33-yard field goal.
#11 Everett, 33 @ #6 Taunton, 14 – Final 1Q: (E) Karmarri Ellerbe 67-yard pass to Giacobbe Ward, Adoni Santos XP good; (T) Malachi Johnson 59-yard rush, Sete Deletoille XP good; (E) K. Ellerbe 11-yard rush, A. Santos XP good.
2Q: (E) K. Ellerbe 6-yard rush, XP failed; (E) Damien Lackland 2-yard rush, 2pt rush failed; (T) Jacob Leonard 38-yard pass to Dmitrius Shearrion, S. Deletoille XP good.
3Q: No scoring.
4Q: (E) David DeSouza 4-yard interception return, A. Santos XP good.
#15 Westford Academy, 6 @ #2 King Philip, 49 – Final
#9 Wellesley, 26 @ #8 Mansfield, 42 – Final 1Q: (M) Conner Zukowski 1-yard rush, C. Zukowski XP 2pt rush.
2Q: (M) C. Zukowski 37-yard pass to Trevor Foley, XP failed; (M) Brandon Jackman 31-yard rush, Travis Hennessy XP good.
3Q: (W) Vincent Ferrara 9-yard pass to Justin Williamson, Eddie Webb XP good; (M) C. Zukowski 28-yard pass to Tommy Smith, T. Hennessy XP good.
4Q: (M) CJ Bell 28-yard pass to T. Foley, T. Hennessy XP good; (W) Max Poirier 14-yard pass to Xavier Ferrara, XP failed; (W) V. Ferrara 26-yard pass to M. Poirier, E. Webb XP good; (M) B. Jackman 9-yard rush, T. Hennessy XP good; (W) Tom Burton 7-yard rush, 2pt failed.
#15 Oliver Ames, 0 @ #2 North Attleboro, 56 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (NA) Greg Berthiaume 63-yard rush, Austin Clemente XP good; (NA) Nathan Shultz 77-yard rush, A. Clemente XP good.
2nd Quarter: (NA) N. Shultz 12-yard rush, A. Clemente XP good; (NA) G. Berthiaume 6-yard rush, A. Clemente XP good; (NA) G. Berthiaume 16-yard rush, A. Clemente XP good.
3rd Quarter: (NA) N. Shultz 57-yard rush, A. Clemente XP good; (NA) Corey Rofino 18-yard rush, A. Clemente XP good.
4th Quarter: (NA) Joe Quinn 8-yard rush, A. Clemente XP good.
#11 Pembroke, 21 @ #6 Foxboro, 24 – Final 1st Quarter: (P) Jake Falco 8-yard pass to Will McNamara, XP good; (F) Sam Carpenter 23-yard field goal.
2nd Quarter: (F) Mike Marcucella 45-yard pass to Luis Sulham, S. Carpenter XP good; (P) J. Falco 59-yard pass to Steve Johnson, XP good; (F) M. Marcucella 30-yard pass to Nolan Gordon, S. Carpenter XP good.
3rd Quarter: (P) Jack Tosone 79-yard rush, XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) M. Marcucella 16-yard pass to Rashaan Lewis, S. Carpenter XP good.
Stoughton, 34 vs. Dartmouth, 24 – Final 1Q: (D) Jackson Hart 54-yard rush, Louie Freitas XP good; (S) Jarred Daughtry 5-yard pass to Alex Huynh, Josh Masuwa XP good.
2Q: (D) L. Freitas 17-yard field goal; (S) J. Daughtry 7-yard rush, J. Masuwa XP good; (D) J. Hart 2-yard pass to Markus Andrews, L. Freitas XP good.
3Q: (S) J. Daughtry 72-yard pass to Tagh Swierzewski, J. Masuwa XP good.
4Q: (S) A. Huynh 2-yard rush, XP failed; (S) Liam Pearl 19-yard rush, J. Masuwa XP good; (D) Ray Gramlich 3-yard rush, L. Freitas XP good.
Canton, 21 @ Norwood, 20 – Final
Girls Soccer Division 2
#35 Pembroke, 3 @ #30 Sharon, 2 – Final – Pembroke jumped out to a 2-0 lead but the Eagles, who were playing their first playoff game in nearly a decade, came storming back in the second half to tie the game. Sofia Goclowski had a goal and assisted on an Autumn Simon score that equalized. The Titans scored the winner in the final five minutes.
#42 Diman, 0 @ #23 Foxboro, 8 – Final – Foxboro rolled to a big win over Diman in the playoff opener. Chloe Ostis had two goals, Erin Foley had three assists, and Shea Dorney accounted for four points (one goal and three assists) to lead the Warriors. Grace Riley, Morgan Riley, Makayla Peck, and Neve Taylor also found the back of the net in Foxboro’s biggest win of the season. The Warriors will get a rematch with Dedham, which they played in last year’s state semifinal.
Mansfield, 49 @ Canton, 0 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. 1Q: (M) Conner Zukowski 31-yard pass to Brian Butler, Travis Hennessey XP good; B. Butler 5-yard rush, T. Hennessey XP good.
2Q: (M) Tommy Smith 1-yard rush, T. Hennessey XP good; (M) C. Zukowski 56-yard pass to CJ Bell, T. Hennessey XP good; (M) C. Zukowski 16-yard pass to Ryan DeGirolamo, T. Hennessey XP good; (M) Brandon Jackman 44-yard fumble return, T. Hennessey XP good.
3Q: (M) T. Smith 4-yard rush, Sean Murphy XP good.
4Q: No scoring.
North Attleboro, 1 @ King Philip, 4 – Final – Mara Boldy accounted for three points to lift KP to a division win over North. Boldy scored a pair of goals and assisted on a third. Leah Santoro added a goal and an assist and Abby MacDonald also found the back of the net for the Warriors. Haley Bright (two saves) and Samantha Sweetman (one save) each played well in goal for KP.
Milford, 0 @ Mansfield, 6 – Final – Mansfield scored three times in each half to pick up the win. Francesca Smith had a pair of goals to lead the Hornets in attack. Ava Adams opened the scoring with a first quarter goal. In the second, Ella Palanza and Kristina Kipp found the back of the net for a three-goal lead at the break. Smith got both goals in the third quarter to extend the lead and Danni Cuzzi added one more in the fourth.
Mansfield, 159 @ Stoughton, 191 – Final – Hayden O’Connor was the low scorer for the Hornets, shooting a round of 38. Nate McClean was right behind him, finishing with a 39.
Milford, 168 @ Taunton, 177 – Final Noah Lawrence and Tyler Hipplito shot co-medalist rounds of 39 to lead the Hawks to the win. Taunton was led by Noah Faidell and Alex Dias, who both finished with a 43.
Foxboro, 156 @ Sharon, 174 – Final
North Attleboro, 152 @ Canton, 167 – Final – North bounced back from Wednesday’s loss to Franklin with a non-league win over Canton. Tyson Laviano had the low round of the day, shooting a 36 for the Rocketeers. Jake Gaskin (37) and Dillon Harding (38) also broke 40 for the visitors. Jordan Paradis added a round of 41. Canton’s low scorers were Teddy Shuman and Gavin McMahon, both finishing with rounds of 41. Matt Anderson had a 42 and Huck McCready shot a 43 for the Bulldogs.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – With under eight seconds remaining in the second quarter of Friday night’s rivalry game at Alumni Field, Mansfield faced a third down from the one-yard-line. The Hornets had traveled 61 yards in 45 seconds, now they just had to punch it in. North Attleboro senior Jack Munley had other ideas and stopped Rocco Scarpellini short of the end zone.
Having started the first overtime period with a touchdown, North’s defense had the chance to repeat its earlier trick, stop the Hornets from the one, and clinch a second consecutive impressive road victory. Mansfield QB Connor Curtis tried to keep it himself, looking for a hole in the middle of the line, but was swallowed up by white shirts.
For the second time in the game, North’s defense made a stand, this time sealing a 27-21 win, avenging last year’s double-overtime defeat to the Hornets at Community Field. It was North’s first win at Mansfield since 2015.
“Whether you get the ball first or second, you’ve got to stop them and it came down to that at the end,” said first-year North coach Mike Strachan. “I’m just really proud of my football team, they fought. To beat Mansfield at Mansfield, with this great team, and this great tradition they have here, I’m really proud of my guys.”
Mansfield coach Mike Redding admitted that he will be second-guessing his call on that final play for a while.
“It’s a heartbreaker,” he explained. “I’ll go over this for 10 years on any call that would’ve worked.
“We’re trying to come up with a little bit of a counter to kind of get them overflowing, get Connor back, he’s great off the fake finding the seam to run. Once we get to the one or two, they’ve just got 11 big, strong bodies up front and we’re young up front and we just can’t quite get movement to punch it in.”
The Hornets started the game on top. Aidan Gleavy made a nice read on a screen pass to force a three-and-out. After Munley sacked Conner Zukowski, Mansfield was able to convert third and long with Zukowski (18-of-28, 300 yards) throwing a 20-yard strike to Trevor Foley (five catches, 134 yards) on the near sideline. CJ Bell followed with a nice grab on the far sideline, hauling in a 29-yard reception.
After Zukowski and Foley combined again for another 17 yards, Scarpellini punched it in from a yard out to make it 7-0.
In the second quarter, Kyle Murphy sacked North quarterback Chase Frisoli to force a punt from the three. Mansfield started at the North 30-yard-line but a holding call stalled the drive. North took over possession and took the momentum.
On third and short from the North 42, Frisoli (12-of-22, 180 yards) looked deep down the sideline to Jovany Rivera (six catches, 123 yards). The 41-yard completion put the Rocketeers in the red zone for the first time. Eight yards and three plays later, facing fourth and two Strachan elected to go for it. Greg Berthiaume wouldn’t be stopped, dragging a would-be tackler with him for a nine-yard, game-tying score.
The North defense followed up that score by forcing a three-and-out. A short punt gifted the visitors the ball at the 26 and North took advantage. A timeout before Austin Clemente attempted a 46-yard field goal led to a change of plan, with North electing to go for it and Frisoli finding Rivera for 21 yards to the eight. On the next snap Berthiaume caught a pass in the flat and dove for the pylon to put Big Red in front.
Mansfield only had 53 seconds on the clock but wasted no time racing up field. Zukowski hit Drew Sacco for 15 yards and Bell for 17. He then fired a 30-yard pass to Foley to get the Hornets down to the two. After a false start, Nolan Bordieri took a sweep for six yards but just short of the end zone. An incompletion and Munley’s big stop, left the Hornets down 14-7 at the break.
Strachan said, “I think we were physical up front. I thought we were very physical and controlled the line of scrimmage.”
North added to its lead on its first possession of the third. Frisoli’s quick release to Rivera down the sideline for 25 yards got them into Mansfield territory and a perfectly executed play action left sophomore Ryan Bannon all alone in the secondary for a 26-yard touchdown.
The Hornets were struggling to get the ground game working but Zukowski was having a lot of success through the air. On the first snap of the next drive, he looked down field for Foley, who made a great adjustment to the flight of the ball and pulled in a 47-yard catch. On the next play, Foley out-jumped the defensive back in the back of the end zone, snatching a 20-yard touchdown.
Down seven in the fourth quarter, Mansfield got the ball back at its own 11. A first down got it out to the 23 and Zukowski again looked down the sideline, this time to Brandon Jackman, who made a great catch for 37 yards. Zukowski appeared to get a cramp at the end of the play and had to come to the sideline. Curtis jumped in and immediately broke away for a 40-yard touchdown run that tied the game with under six minutes remaining.
“We let them go up 14 and then we kind of woke up and started playing clean,” Redding said. “Zuk started throwing the ball well, we spread them out. We really started playing great from when they scored to go up 14 until overtime. We showed a lot of heart.”
North had one more chance to win it in regulation. A 10-play drive to the Mansfield 19 gave Clemente a chance from 36 yards out, but his kick was wide left with just 20 seconds to play.
The visitors had the ball first in OT. On first down, Frisoli flipped a pass over the shoulder of Aidan Conrad in the flat and he walked in with the go-ahead score. Ryan DeGirolamo was in tight coverage to breakup the two-point conversion try, leaving North up six.
Mansfield had four plays to try and tie it. Zukowski looked for Foley on each of the first two plays, with Rivera doing a good job in coverage on the second. On third down, Zukowski hit Sacco in the flat and he showed patience to pick a hole but North converged at the goal line to keep him a yard short.
Curtis came in for the final play, trying to force his way through North’s defensive line, but Zachary Gallagher, Bannon, Berthiaume, and others were on hand to keep the Hornets just short and add another exciting chapter to this historic rivalry.
Final (OT): North Attleboro 27, Mansfield 21, for the second time tonight North is able to stop the Hornets at the one, Rocketeers walk away with the victory #hockomockpic.twitter.com/CNaDkFs9Zf
“We practiced all week in the goal line, what to do, we practiced our new formations, and I really think we just executed it like we’re supposed to,” Berthiaume explained. “When you don’t make mistakes, you win football games.”
Strachan said, “We go to work each week, we talk about that, we say we put the money in the bank and the payout is on Friday nights. This was a big check mark for us and it was a really big test for our team. We’re going to try and enjoy this one, but I’m just really happy with our football team.”
Following a bye week, North Attleboro (2-0) will have its home, and Kelley-Rex, opener when the Rocketeers host currently unbeaten Franklin. Mansfield (1-1) will head out on the road for the first time next Friday, traveling to Worcester to face Doherty.
Outlook: After experiencing some growing pains against a tough schedule last season, the Bulldogs boast a good number of returning players looking to have a bounce-back year in 2022.
Canton has key pieces in key spots on the field and has a total of 22 seniors on the roster. The defense will be filled with veterans including a talented group of linebackers that include seniors Jack Flaherty (captain) and Hayden Rose along with junior captain Owen Lane. While the linebackers are likely to be the heart of the defense, the Bulldogs also have some key experience – and some noticeable size – on the defensive line with seniors Julian Prentice (captain) and Jack Digirolamo. In the secondary, Charlie Cox and Josh Richards will man the safety positions to anchor the secondary unit.
The Bulldogs have a familiar face back at quarterback in Lane, an athletic lefty that can make plays with both his feet and his arm. As just a sophomore a year ago, Lane gained valuable experience and will be looking to build on a solid campaign. He will work behind a somewhat inexperienced line that is anchored by senior captain Matt Lesser at center with Nathan Levis and sophomore Luke Richard at guard, and junior Giovanni Disasio and sophomore Luke Laguerre at tackle. Senior Godson Ofonagoro has transferred in and will be in the mix at running back along with James Robbins, Cole Ouellette, and Michael Sayers.
Canton opens the season on the road at Dighton-Rehoboth but then hosts back-to-back non-league games as the Bulldogs look to build some momentum before their first meeting with Mansfield since 2012.
Foxboro narrowly missed out on a trip to Gillette last year, falling in the Div. 5 state semifinal. The reigning Davenport division champions will have to replace the production of league MVP Dylan Gordon, but the Warriors have a host of younger players ready to step into bigger roles this season and will be excited about adding league title drama to their Thanksgiving Day rivalry with Mansfield.
Even graduating its starting tailback and quarterback, Foxboro will have a lot of depth in the skill positions this season with several underclassmen showing that they are ready to contribute right away. Sophomore Mike Marcucella will take over under center and will have plenty of options in the backfield and at receiver. Junior Lincoln Moore has the strength and quickness to be a dynamic runner along with junior Brandon Mazenkas-O’Grady, senior Jaiquann Williams, and sophomore Ben Angelini. Senior Payton France will be an option at wideout, junior Tony Sulham adds speed wherever he lines up, and sophomore Nolan Gordon will be a big target on the outside. The offensive line is loaded with size this season. Senior Andrew Finn will be the leader of a group that includes junior Nate Urman and sophomore Jonathan Balde. Sam Carpenter is one of the league’s top kickers and gives Foxboro the chance for points every possession.
Defense has always been a focal point for the Warriors and they have plenty of experience returning to be a strong group. As one offense, Foxboro will have plenty of size up front. Finn and Mazenkas-O’Grady are constant threats from the ends with Urman and Balde helping out in the interior. Moore was a standout linebacker as a sophomore and he leads a group that includes Williams and Angelini. Sulham is a lockdown corner and Gordon, Francis, and Marcucella will all add depth in the secondary.
“If the players and coaches are patient and are mindful that you never pick up where you left off, assuming nothing, this can be a good football team, characterized by senior strength and tremendous underclass talent,” said Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli.
It usually doesn’t take Mansfield long to rebuild and the Hornets come into the new season with an experienced core of returning players, particularly in the skill positions, that is poised to challenge not only for the program’s first Davenport division title but also to make a deep run in the state tournament. With nearly all of its production back from last year, Mansfield will be counting on that year of experience to be ready for a tough schedule meant to prepare the Hornets for the playoffs.
The Mansfield offense should have plenty of balance to it this season. Senior Conner Zukowski will be back under center for the Hornets and he has a host of weapons to take advantage of in both the passing and ground games. Seniors Drew Sacco and Rocco Scarpellini will be in the backfield this season and both are dynamic runners who can grind yards or break big plays. Juniors Brian Butler and Nolan Bordieri could also be added to the mix. Junior Connor Curtis will give another option as a running QB. Junior Trevor Foley emerged as one of the top receivers in the league last season and junior CJ Bell, Bordieri, and junior Brandon Jackman give the Hornets a lot of depth on the outside, while senior Ryan DeGirolamo gives Zukowski a big target at tight end. The line should also be deep this season, led by seniors Jephte Jean and Colton Johnson and newcomers senior Dexter Harris, and juniors Aidan Gleavy, Matt Tryon, and Jason Riley.
Experience is a strength on the other side of the ball as well. Foley and Bell give Mansfield playmakers in the secondary that will cause havoc with opposition passing attacks. Bordieri and Jackman will add to that defensive back group. Jean was an imposing force on the defensive line and he will be helped by Gleavy and Harris. DeGirolamo gives the Hornets a threat from his defensive end position and Riley could step into that role on the other side. Scarpellini and senior Caden Colby will return at linebacker.
“Depth and experience at offensive skill positions with the return of about 95 percent of the team’s production from last year,” Mansfield head coach Mike Redding said of his team’s strength. “Defensive group is also experienced with the secondary returning three of the four starters and two of the three linebackers, so good experience there as well.”
Outlook: Buoyed by a productive offseason, Oliver Ames is looking to get back into the heart of the division title race this season. The Tigers have a strong nucleus of players back and are hoping a strong line – both offensively and defensively – will pave the way for success this season.
Three of the Tigers’ five captains call the offensive line home so OA will lean heavily on that unit to pave the way for the offense. Columbia University-commit Jaden Hinton has transformed into one of the best two-way linemen in not only the Hock but in the state. He will be joined by fellow captains Chris Young and John Carey, as well as classmate Luis Fernandes. The unit will be in charge of creating holes for four-year starter and captain Chad Silva. After handling lead blocking duties last year, Silva will likely be the feature back for the Tigers and has a great combination of power and speed.
Senior captain Wayne Casey will start under center and will be tasked with controlling the offense. He will work with Robert Jenkins, Jaden Graham, and Bronson Burnham as weapons on offense.
Silva is back for another year at linebacker and is a big-time playmaker on that side of the ball. Seniors Jack Morley and Jordan Young round out an experienced group while Hinton will work with Young, Fernandes, and classmate Donovan Howard along the defensive line. Seniors Jack Perron and Nick Ferrini will play in the secondary alongside Jenkins and Graham.
“I am thrilled about the work our older guys have put in this offseason and really think it should help them pay off,” said OA head coach Ed DeWitt. “We really want to continue to improve week to week and play with more consistency than we did last year.”
Sharon is continuing its independent schedule this fall and, with 13 returning starters, the Eagles will have plenty of experience. Depth continues to be a challenge for the program, but there is room for development, and head coach Dave Morse is hoping that a very young roster will continue to develop this season.
Junior quarterback Liam Conway will lead an offense that is going to try and add more balance this season. Senior Kyle Samuels and junior Jacob McLoughlin will be the primary targets in the passing game. Juniors Gabe Korn and Duncan Seaman will be in the backfield and will give the Eagles a couple of threats in the running game. Senior fullback Joden Chanel will try and lead the way in the running game and senior lineman Dan Davis will be there to open holes.
Defensively, Sharon wants to be more aggressive. Korn and Seaman will lead the linebacking corps and add playmaking on the defensive side of the ball. Davis will be an impact player on the line and Chanel will give Sharon speed on the edge. In the secondary, Samuels will be one of the top cover guys, while junior Elijah Wisdom will be a ball hawk at free safety.
“Hoping to continue to develop and turn that into winning football games,” Morse said. “We are still very young because of the lack of seniors but it is my job to get all of our players up to speed at the varsity level.”
Editor’s note: Sharon is competing a non-league schedule this season.
Outlook: Stoughton finished in the middle of the pack in the Davenport division after an injury-plagued season last year. The Black Knights reached the state tournament and kept it close before falling in the first round, and ended the season with a win over rival Canton on Thanksgiving to finish at 5-6.
Between the graduating seniors and the players returning from injury, there will be plenty of new playmakers for the Black Knights this season. One familiar face will be the one under center as junior Jarred Daughtry is back at quarterback after getting a lot of reps a season ago. Daughtry showed that he can make plays with his arm but he’s very athletic and will be someone opposing defenses have to keep an eye out for.
Running the Wing-T, Daughtry will have senior Tagh Swiezewski and juniors Liam Pearl and Alex Huynh – both of who got off to promising sophomore campaigns before injuries. All three will be involved in blocking and running, and also key pieces in the Stoughton passing game. Junior James Currier has emerged as a top option as a receiver as well.
Stoughton has been known for its tough defenses over the years under longtime head coach Greg Burke, and the Black Knights will be looking to continue that tradition this year. Stoughton gave up over 23 points per game last, which was unusually high for a program that has kept teams under 20 for at least the six seasons prior to that. An athletic secondary will feature Swierziewski, Daughtry, Huynh, and Currier. Timmy Chung returns as one of the starting linebackers alongside Pearl and Beder, while Laz, Noel, and Thomas will all be two-way linemen.
“We need to stay healthy and improve on the line,” said Burke. “We need younger players to play and to improve every week.”