FRANKLIN, Mass. – Through seven games this season, the Franklin baseball team hasn’t faced too much adversity, outscoring opponents 71-18 in dominating fashion.
So when head coach Zach Brown looked up at the scoreboard after 3.5 innings and saw a three-run deficit — the first time the Panthers had trailed by that much all season — he knew he was going to learn something new about his team.
Six straight singles and four runs later, the Panthers were back on top, an advantage they would hold the rest of the way in a 4-3 win over the Tigers.
“We talk about it all the time, adding another tool to the toolbox,” Brown said after his team improved to 9-0 on the season. “So knowing that you can come back in a game against a good team is important. The message to the players was that we were going to learn a lot about us as a team. The game doesn’t go according to a script as much as we’d love it to. Taunton is a really good team, they’re the defending state champs so expect nothing less than a really good fight.”
Taunton took the lead with a run in the top of the third and added onto its advantage with two more in the top of the fourth.
Sophomore Ben Jarosz led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single through the left side and junior Jack Marino followed with a base hit through the right side. Sophomore Eisig Chin joined the hit parade with a hit up the middle to bring Jarosz home to get the Panthers on the board.
CJ Jette battled back from an 0-2 count and hit one to the left side that was knocked down by the third baseman but without a play at first, there was no throw which loaded the bases. Freshman Henry DiGiorgio smacked a hard ground back to first that was knocked down but no play could be made and a run crossed to make it 3-2.
“I was a little disappointed yesterday because I felt like we struck out too much,” Brown said. “I felt like we needed to get back to shortening up a little bit, just finding a way with a better two-strike approach. I really do feel like that inning was a pretty good example of that. CJ Jette’s at-bat really stands out to me, he was down two strikes, shortened up, found a way, and hit a hard buy in the five-six hole to keep the inning alive for us. There were a lot of good at-bats there but that one stuck out to me.”
Franklin baseball Taunton baseball
Ryan Gerety then connected on Franklin’s sixth straight single, this one up the middle that plated both Chin and Jette to put the hosts ahead 4-3. Taunton starter Danny MacDougall (6IP, 9H, 1BB, 4ER, 4K) prevented any further damage by getting three straight pop-ups from the heart of Franklin’s lineup to strand runners at second and third.
Franklin turned to the bullpen to replace starter Jacob Jette (5IP, 6H, 2BB, 3ER, 3K), bringing in junior James Kuczmiec to close the door. Kuczmiec and classmate Ethan Voellmicke have been steady, reliable options for the Panthers so far this season.
Kuczmiec got the job done on Tuesday night, retiring the side in order in the top of the sixth. Taunton’s Ty Cali stroked a two-out single to put the tying run on base but Kuczmiec induced a grounder for the final out to get the two-inning save.
“The back end of our bullpen has been really, really good, it’s been a strength for us all year and those two guys (Kuczmiec and Voellmicke) have been really sharp,” Brown said. “They’ve given us great effort and I’m really proud of them both. We’re going to keep relying on them to do those things for us. Anytime they have the ball, we feel pretty good about our chances.”
There wasn’t much happening offensively for either side between the first two innings. Franklin junior Chris Goode drew a one-out walk in the first and made it to third after Nate Cooke reached on an error but MacDougall stranded the runner on third.
The Panthers put runners in scoring position again in the second on a single from Chin and a bunt single from CJ Jette but sophomore Ryan MacDougall got an unassisted out at first and Bretton Heggs made a nice catch in left to keep the game scoreless.
Taunton took the lead in the top of the third when Colby DaCouta ripped a ground-rule double over the field in left field. Cali had his first single of the day to move DaCouta to third and he scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-0. Jacob Jette prevented further damage by getting a strikeout and a ground to strand Cali at second.
In the top of the fourth, junior Dawson Bryce led off with a single up the middle and moved to second on a fielder’s choice for the second out. Sophomore Shawn Cali connected for a double to bring Bryce home to double the lead and Jack Gobin followed with a base hit to bring Cali home for a 3-0 lead.
“It feels like we’re one play away, one inning away,” said Taunton coach Blair Bourque. “We need someone to step up and make a play or make a pitch in those situations. We’re right there we just have to eliminate those big innings, stop the bleeding somehow. We have a great team so we’ll figure it out but it’s a short season so we don’t have as much time. But we’re excited to get back at it again tomorrow and try to figure things out.”
Franklin baseball (6-0 Kelley-Rex, 9-0 overall) is in action on Thursday with another home game, this time against Sharon. Taunton (3-3, 5-4) returns to host North Attleboro on the same day.
Sharon, 3 @ Canton, 5 – Final – Canton got off to a strong start offensively and held off a late rally attempt from Sharon to get the win and stay unbeaten on the year. The Bulldogs pushed across two runs in the first inning and tacked on single runs in the second and third to establish a 4-0 lead. Sharon rallied for three runs in the top of the sixth to make it a one-run game but Canton gave itself some breathing room with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Cam Sanchez (RBI), Matt Chafin (two runs), and Steven Burbank (RBI, run) each recorded two hits for the hosts, who had 10 hits as a team. Andrew Middleton picked up his third win of the season, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks, striking out eight in six innings of work. Andrew Butler recorded the save with a scoreless inning in relief. Sharon’s Colby Lentell drove in two runs for the Eagles while Justin Brown and Daniel Zagoren each had one RBI.
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Foxboro, 7 – Final – Foxboro took advantage of free bases and aggressive base running to jump out to an early lead and held on the rest of the way. The Warriors drew four walks in the opening inning and had five stolen bases, resulting in a 6-1 lead after an inning of action. Oliver Ames was able to close the gap with two in the third and one more in the fourth, but Foxboro scored an important insurance run in the sixth inning. Tom Marcucella (run, two RBI) and Sean Yoest (run, RBI) each had two hits for the Warriors while Sean O’Leary (run), Liam Mulkern, and Mike O’Toole each drove in a run. Cam Prescott got the win on the mound, allowing four runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks, striking out five in five innings of work. Senior Sebastian Ortiz closed it out, allowing one run on two hits and two walks, striking out a pair in two innings. Oliver Ames’ Jaden Ricci went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored while Patrick Finnerty and Nate Fulford each drove in a pair of runs for OA.
King Philip, 0 @ Franklin, 10 – Final (5 inn.) – For the fourth time in just five games, Franklin’s offense put up double-digit runs and the Panthers recorded their second straight shutout, this time a 10-0 decision over King Philip. Sophomore Alfred Mucciarone tossed five shutout innings for the win, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out six. Offensively, Ryan Gerety had a pair of hits including a double, scoring twice while Jake Fitzgibbons added an RBI on two hits. Ben Jarosz had three hits on the day with a run scored and an RBI, Nate Cooke scored once and had an RBI, and Henry DiGiorgio had a hit, a walk, and scored twice.
Mansfield, 2 @ Taunton, 8 – Final – Taunton had a strong day at the plate, scoring in five of the seven innings to knock off visiting Mansfield for a key division win. The Tigers plated two runs in the first inning and added two more in each the third and fourth, tacking on single runs in the fifth and sixth. Ty Cali set the tone for the Tigers’ offense, scoring three runs on two hits (including a triple) and driving in one run from the leadoff spot. Ryan MacDougall, Danny MacDougall (two runs), and Bretton Heggs each added a hit and an RBI while Dawson Bryce drove in a pair of runs and scored once. On the mound, Conor Quinlan got the win, allowing just one unearned run on five hits and one walk, recording six strikeouts in five innings. Evan Cali pitched two innings in relief, allowing one run with one strikeout.
North Attleboro, 4 @ Stoughton, 7 – Final – Stoughton senior Brady Conlin got it done both at the plate and on the mound as Stoughton rallied for an important division win over rival North Attleboro. North Attleboro’s Gavin Wells had a two-out two-run single in the top of the fifth inning to put the Rocketeers up 4-1 but Stoughton answered with a big sixth inning to take their first lead, an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish. Conlin tossed a complete game, striking out five with two walks. Conlin also had a solo home run to left in the bottom of the fourth that got Stoughton on the board. In the sixth, Colin Alessi singled in the tying run while Kyle Doolin drove in two more with a double.
Milford, 0 @ Attleboro, 12 – Final – Attleboro senior Lora Woyton fired a two-hitter to earn her second win of the season in the circle, leading the Bombardiers past visiting Milford. Woyton struck out eight in five innings of work and helped her own cause offensively, going 1-for-1 with two walks and two runs scored.The Bombardiers used strong team defense behind Woyton to limit the Hawks’ chances. Hailey Perry and Natalie Mansur each had two hits and scored a run while Kayla Goldrick added two hits for Attleboro, who had everyone in the lineup score.
Foxboro, 7 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – For Oliver Ames, Taylor Lake had an RBI single that scored Mollie Crabtree while Grace Simone, who had two hits on the day, had a two-run double that scored Maddie Homer and Emma Varella. Katie Melendy pitched a complete game, striking out four for OA.
Franklin, 5 @ King Philip, 8 – Final – After Franklin took the lead in the top of the first inning, King Philip tied the game in the bottom half and then built a lead with runs in the third, fifth, and sixth innings to knock off the visiting Panthers. Tied 2-2 through an inning, KP took the lead with a run in the third, extended their advantage with two in the fifth, and added three more in the sixth. Franklin rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh but KP shut the door to stay unbeaten. Charlotte Raymond had a big day for KP, going 3-for-3 at the plate, including a two-run home run. She finished with three RBI and three runs scored, reaching a fourth time after being hit by a pitch. Paige Berdos added two hits, a run, and an RBI while sophomore Sarah Cullen blasted a two-run home run.
Sharon, 4 @ Canton, 7 – Final – Gillian Gordon earned her first career win and gave Canton its first win of the season. Gordon struck out six over seven innings of work. Taylor Reynolds was 3-for-3 with three doubles and a pair of RBI, while Ellie Bohane and Liz Bickett both went 3-for-4 for the Bulldogs. Olivia Mackwell started the scoring for Canton by driving in a pair in the fourth.
Taunton, 12 @ Mansfield, 0 – Final (5 inn.) – Taunton held Mansfield to two hits to earn its fourth shutout in five games this season. It was scoreless until the third inning when Taunton scored five times to take control. The Tigers added seven runs in the top of the fifth to grab the win. Taunton leadoff hitter Angie Lynch set the tone with three hits and two runs while Hannah Aldrich drove in for runs on three hits, including a home run. Skylar Rheaume, McKenzie McAloon, Kelsey White, and Tayah DaCosta each drove in a run for the Tigers. Freshman Sam Lincoln earned the win in the circle, allowing just two hits in a five-inning complete game effort, striking out 10. Jillian Koppy and Molly Kucharski had Mansfield’s only hits.
Stoughton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 12 – Final – North got its fourth straight solid start, as Kelly Colleran struck out 12 and allowed only two hits and two walks to earn the shutout. The Rocketeers haven’t allowed more than one run in a game since giving up 11 in the season opener. Colleran helped her own cause with a pair of hits, including a solo homer. Emily Nardelli led the North offense with three hits, including a double and a three-run homer, and drove in four. Zoey McDonough and Shaelyn Burns both had two hits and two RBI and Mandi Hanewich had a couple of nice catches in the outfield.
Foxboro, 19 @ Attleboro, 8 – Final
North Attleboro, 4 @ Franklin, 20 – Final – Franklin moved to 4-0 on the season with a big win over visiting North Attleboro. Matt Lazzaro led the offensive charge with three goals and two helpers while sophomores Jayden Consigli and Luke Davis each recorded four goals apiece. Jack Maguire made six saves in net for the win.
Sharon, 12 @ Mansfield, 10 – Final – Ben Shocket won 19-of-25 faceoffs and six different Eagles found the back of the net in a win on the road over Mansfield. Brady Daylor led the way offensively for the visitors with five goals, Drew Litner and Kobe Jacobson each scored twice, and Bobby Burns, Connor McLoughlin, and Shocket each scored once in the win. Adam Rabb had a strong showing in net with 17 saves.
Oliver Ames @ King Philip, 3:45
Stoughton, 4 @ Milford, 8 – Final
Foxboro, 18 @ Attleboro, 1 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game – Foxboro used a balanced scoring attack and a dominant day on the draw to earn the road win. Mya Waryas (two assists) and Lilly Vey (one assist) were the top scorers with three goals apiece. Ella Waryas (two assists), Mary Collins, Kate Collins, Val Beigel, and Paige Curran each scored two goals, as the Warriors worked the ball around and made sure everyone got a touch. Dylan Rappoli had a goal and three assists and Grace Riley added one goal for Foxboro. Hannah Webster scored for Attleboro in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout and Maggie Porreca made five saves in goal.
Canton, 8 @ Taunton, 17 – Final – Taunton senior Alana Tavares had 10 draw controls and scored nine goals to help the Tigers defend their home turf against visiting Canton. Tasia Lajoie added four controls and six goals in the win while Rosemary McGrath had three draw controls and three assists in the win. Senior Tori DaRosa and junior Sarah Clark each netted one goal, freshman Cali Melo added an assist, and junior Emily Gannon added 13 saves in the win.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Franklin, 20 – Final – Kenzie Baker did it all for the Panthers with five draw controls, two goals, and two assists as Franklin rolled to a win at home. Stella Regan added four draw controls and three goals, Katie Jones chipped in with three goals and an assist, and Payten Crandall (two ground balls) played well defensively.
Sharon, 7 @ Mansfield, 10 – Final
Milford @ Attleboro, 3:45
Sharon, 4 @ Canton, 1 – Final – Sharon took a pair of wins in both singles and doubles play to earn a key win on the road over division rival Canton. Mehul Bhattacharyya (6-1, 6-1) won at first singles for the Eagles while Max Chen earned a 6-1, 6-4 win at third singles. The team of Matthew Lally and Rithvik Neti emerged with a 6-3, 6-1 victory at first doubles while the Eagles’ second doubles pairing of Mitch Weiss and Alex Budovalcio secured a 6-0, 6-0 decision at second doubles. Canton freshman Max Kupferman earned a 6-4, 6-4 win in a well-played second singles matchup.
Foxboro, 5 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – Foxboro won all three singles matches in straight sets and emerged with victories in both doubles matches to earn a win over Oliver Ames. Junior Garrett Spillane picked up a 6-1, 6-3 win at first singles, senior Justin Neale won 6-1, 7-5 at second singles, and senior Jason Kandula picked up a 6-1, 6-2 victory at third singles. Foxboro’s first doubles pairing of junior Bo Canfield and freshman Justin Kandula won 6-3, 6-2 while junior Guillermo Marroquin and freshman Visruth Shavalam teamed up for a 6-7, 7-5, 10-6 win at second doubles.
Franklin @ King Philip, 3:45
Taunton, 0 @ Mansfield, 5 – Final
Stoughton @ North Attleboro, 3:45
Attleboro, 4 @ Milford, 1 – Final – Attleboro went on the road and picked up a pair of wins from both singles and doubles action to take down host Milford. Ella Lynch Bartek (6-0, 6-2) and Lauren Anthony (6-0, 6-0) each picked up wins at first and second singles, respectively, for the Bombardiers. The team of Rachel Rainey and Saharla Yusuf picked up a 6-1, 6-1 decision at first doubles while Attleboro’s second doubles team of freshmen Maddie Fulscado and Kyra Johnson won 6-0, 6-1. For Milford, Lavinia Mocenni battled back for a 2-6, 6-0, 10-5 win at third singles.
Canton, 2 @ Sharon, 3 – Final – Sharon swept both doubles matches and grabbed one more victory at third singles to fend off an upset bid from visiting Canton. The team of Anjali Jha and Ritu Sreeram battled to a hard-fought 6-2, 7-6 (7-1) win at first doubles while Sharon’s second doubles team of Sophia Oh and Sasha Fein emerged with a 6-4, 6-1 victory. Sophomore Allie Aguilar was impressive in Sharon’s third win, recording a 6-0, 6-0 decision at third singles. Canton’s Rachel Kupferman notched a 6-2, 6-4 win at first singles while Laura Correal recorded a 7-6 (7-2), 7-5 win at second singles.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Foxboro didn’t drop a single game in any of its three singles matches and added one more win in doubles play to secure a victory over visiting Oliver Ames. Athena Li (first), Pam Nelson (second) and Sarah Prag (third) each won 6-0, 6-0 to sweep the singles matches. The team of Maggie McAuliffe and Abby Costa added a 6-0, 6-2 decision at first double for Foxboro’s fourth point. OA’s second doubles team of Lizzie MacAdam and Elizabeth O’Brien picked up a 6-1, 6-0 win.
King Philip @ Franklin, 3:45
Mansfield, 4 @ Taunton, 1 – Final – Mansfield went on the road and earned a win over Taunton by sweeping doubles play and adding a pair of straight-set decisions in singles play. The team of Sarah Harrington and Alexis O’Keefe battled for a 7-5, 5-7, 10-6 win at first doubles while ALly McDavitt and Caroline Guravage took care of business with a 6-1, 6-4 win at second doubles. Mansfield senior Alex Burnham won 6-3, 6-4 at first singles and junior Kate Martin earned a 6-1, 6-2 win at third singles. Taunton’s Kayla Parrett notched a 6-3, 6-4 win at second singles.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Stoughton, 3 – Final – Stoughton picked up its third straight win, this time defending home court with a victory over visiting division rival North Attleboro. Stoughton’s second doubles team of Nadia Prokopiuk and Stefani Reznikow continued their impressive campaign, clinching the winning point with a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 win. Allie Lada moved up to first singles and picked up a 6-3, 6-2 win for the Black Knights while. The first doubles team of Emily Pham-Nguyen and Emilia Lada added a 6-2, 7-5 win at first doubles. North Attleboro’s Haley Strom (7-5, 6-3) and Lauren Hunt (6-1, 6-0) won at second and third singles, respectively.
Boys Outdoor Track
Attleboro @ King Philip, 3:45
Girls Outdoor Track
Attleboro, 59 @ King Philip, 77 – Final – Attleboro’s Cassondra Stuger won a pair of events but King Philip was able to earn the overall team win on Monday. Stuger won both the 400M (61.6) and the 200M (26.6) for the Bombardiers, who also got first-place finishes from Diana Blouin (1 Mile, 5:37.6), Kelly Neuendorf (2 Mile, 12:16.0), Elayna Marinelli (javelin, 78-7), Samantha Fregault (discus, 72-1), and Kamsi Igbobi (shot put, 34-5).
Taunton, 3 vs. Barnstable, 1 – Final – Taunton won its fourth straight match to open the season, this time a 3-1 decision (25-17, 25-16, 20-25, 25-14) over visiting Barnstable. Daniel Medina set the offense in motion with 34 assists, adding two kills in while Tyler Stewart had an impressive showing with 19 kills, five blocks, and 13 digs in the win. Travis Nunes played well defensively and in serve receive for the Tigers, Mattia Casagrande added six kills and seven aces, and Jakob Thorpe chipped in seven kills and four aces.
Milford vs. Bellingham, 6:00
Oliver Ames @ Foxboro, 4:30
King Philip, 25 @ Franklin, 51 – Final
Milford, 45 @ Stoughton, 10 – Final
2019 Record: 14-10 2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final Coach: Steve Dunlea
Two years ago, Attleboro made a run to the Div. 1 South final, only to run into league rival and eventual state champ Taunton. While the Bombardiers only return three players with varsity experience, Attleboro will be looking to replicate some of that momentum and challenge the top teams for the Kelley-Rex division title this spring.
2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Senior catcher Bailey Camacho caught half the innings during his sophomore season and will be the starter this spring, as well as an important presence in the lineup. Seniors Jake Gorman and Matt McMahon will both be part of the rotation and play corner infield spots when they’re not on the mound building off the experience they got two years ago. Senior Cam Foster adds speed at short and will be the closer, while juniors Billy Saltmarsh and Cian Kelleher, and sophomores Dillon James and Danny Johnson are part of what should be a deep staff for the Bombardiers. Speed should also be a strength for Attleboro, including outfielders Ben Hochwarter, Nate George, Hayden Hegarty, and Packer Sackett, and middle infielders Owen Taber and Evan Houle. Junior Christian Dame is a versatile player who can step in at multiple positions.
“We’re excited to get our players out there to see what we can accomplish,” said Attleboro coach Steve Dunlea. “Our guys have worked very hard during the off-season and have come a long way in the past few years. We are particularly proud of our senior leadership. It’s been a tough year and we are so grateful to the MIAA and ADs for making this season happen for our seniors.”
2019 Record: 6-14 2019 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Ben Shuffain
Canton had a great start to the 2019 season under then first-year head coach Ben Shuffain, including an impressive win over Wellesley. But almost all of the Bulldogs’ wins came in the first half of the season. Now Canton will look to start strong and continue that throughout the year as they look to challenge for the Davenport division title.
The Bulldogs are one of the teams that have a good number of players that played back in 2019 so there is a lot of optimism surrounding the experience on the roster this season. Canton has four starters back for this year’s campaign: shortstop/right-handed pitcher Steve Burbank, outfielder Cam Sanchez, catcher/outfielder Sawyer Julier-Albert, and right-handed pitcher Nate Hewit. Both Burbank (0.328) and Julier-Albert (0.395) were among the league leaders in batting average as sophomores so they will be key pieces for the offense this year. Shuffain will also look for contributions from outfielders Andy Butler and Zach Peters, infielder Nico Bonanno, and utility option Matt Quan — all four could also see time pitching.
Burbank will also see time on the mound and Hewit will be an important piece of the pitching staff this year. Junior Andrew Middleton, who tossed a perfect game in the season-opener, will obviously be a major part of the rotation as well, giving the Bulldogs solid depth. Behind the pitching staff, there will be a lot of players who have experience at the varsity level so Shuffain hopes mistakes will be at a minimum.
“We are lucky to have a good number of players who have varsity experience from 2018 and 2019,” Shuffain said. “They have been preparing for 18 months for this season and this group has tremendous leadership and a ton of talent. I am excited to see what they can do on the field.”
For the 2021 season, it all starts with pitching for the Foxboro Warriors. The 2019 squad graduated six players, and there were nine juniors on that team that missed out on their senior season a year ago. That means Foxboro has four players coming back for this spring, and almost all picked up a lot of valuable experience the last time out.
2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Seniors Cam Prescott and Sean Yoest will headline the Warriors’ rotation, bringing a lot of experience to the staff. Prescott logged over 26 innings as a sophomore, allowing just four walks with a 1.86 ERA. Yoest had a lot of success at the plate as a sophomore and will be looking to replicate that on the mound this year. Sophomore Sean O’Leary will likely be a key piece on the mound when fully healthy and the Warriors will look to seniors Dylan Quinn, Mike O’Toole, Ryan Jacobs, and Sebastian Ortiz, as well as juniors Liam Mulkern and Tom Marcucella to provide pitching depth.
Yoest will patrol the outfield when he’s not on the mound and will be a key piece offensively after hitting 0.346 as a sophomore with 11 runs scored and 11 RBI. Yoest will be joined in the outfield by junior Jack Watts, a three-sport athlete who has excelled in golf and hockey, and sophomore Kenny Mello. Marcucella will also see time in the outfield while senior Griffin Morse is a solid depth piece that can play all three spots in the outfield.
Prescott will see time at either third or shortstop when he’s not pitching. Beyond Prescott, the Warriors will have some inexperience around the infield with freshman Tyler Prescott (second base) and sophomore Ryan LeClair (shortstop) impressing early on. Mulkern and O’Toole will provide the infield with some senior leadership from first while Marcucella and Ortiz providing depth. Mulkern will also be an option behind the plate while junior Mike LaVita will step into the starting role at catcher.
“We are excited for the opportunity to get back on the field and compete every day,” head coach Derek Suess said. “Having our top two arms still here is comforting, but we will need contributions from many different guys. We have a good mix of seniors and underclassmen who have bought in to our vision for the season.”
2019 Record: 22-3 2019 Finish: Reached Super 8 Coach: Zach Brown
While Franklin won’t be able to make it three straight appearances in the Super 8 with the tournament not happening this year (and possibly for a couple of years), there is something the Panthers can do: defend their Kelley-Rex division title.
2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
The Panthers were nearly perfect in league action during the 2019 season (15-1) and will be one of the favorites for the title again this year. But it will be almost an entirely new cast of players doing so. Franklin had 10 seniors on that team plus another seven juniors that graduated last year, meaning just a handful of players from the roster are back. Of that group, just one starter is back in senior Jake Fitzgibbons, who played second base at the time.
Now Fitzgibbons moves behind the plate and will be in charge of handling a pitching staff that is new to the varsity level. Having him behind the plate should make it easier for the likes of junior Jacob Jette and sophomore Alfred Mucciarone, who figure to be two of the key components of Franklin’s rotation this season. And when needed, Fitzgibbons will switch out from behind the plate and take the mound himself.
Seniors Nate Cooke and CJ Jette serve as captains alongside Fitzgibbons and will provide leadership both on and off the field. Cooke is slated to start at first base and will bring a big bat to the lineup while Jette will see time both in the outfield and at designated hitter. Seniors Luc Boudreau (outfielder) and Nick Quinn (right-handed pitcher) have impressed early on as well.
“As always the cornerstone of our program is pitching and defense,” said head coach Zach Brown. “We believe we have the right mix of athletes and arms to compete daily this season. Offensively, we believe that our line-up can be pretty athletic. Obviously, we are all in the same boat missing last season so it will be an exciting season to get back out onto the field. I know the players and our coaching staff are really excited for the games to start up.”
2019 Record: 8-12 2019 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Jeff Plympton
There will be a lot of new faces on the mound, in the field, in the batter’s box, and even on the bench for the King Philip Warriors this season. Looking back at the 2019 season, only one name is back in action for the Warriors this season. And on top of that, there’s a new coach in the dugout in Jeff Plympton.
2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Both Conor Cooke and Jack Silveria saw plenty of action during their sophomore seasons but Silveria will miss his senior campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That means that Plympton and the rest of the Warriors will lean heavily on Cooke, a three-year starter who will guide KP from behind the plate. Cooke, who is committed to play at Brown University, is a rock behind the plate and that will be important as KP deploys a pitching staff that is new to the varsity level. That rotation will feature junior Nick Viscusi and sophomore Rudy Gately, with seniors Jack Mullen, Grayden Lawrence, Harry Brown, and Jake Burns all providing depth.
Cooke will be a key part of the offense as well, slated to hit from the clean up spot. Viscusi will set the tone from the leadoff spot and can cause some damage on the base paths with his speed. Junior Shawn Lagere will start at shortstop and bat third in the lineup, providing the Warriors with some power while Gately will see time at third when he isn’t on the mound. Seniors Ethan Hurwitz and Mikey Malatesta provide outfield depth and Plympton has 10 juniors on the roster to help fill out the lineup.
“Looking forward to getting the season going and watching the team play together,” Plympton said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had high school baseball and most of our guys, like many teams, are new to the varsity level. We have some good talent on our team. Plenty of good throwing arms to get us through the new pitching restrictions. The infield is solid with very dependable fielders around the diamond. The outfield is fast and does a great job tracking fly balls. I believe defense will be our best strength this season. The players have been putting in a lot of hard work during practices.”
2019 Record: 18-7 2019 Finish: Reached Super 8 Coach: Chris Hall
Joe Breen had a very successful run at the helm of the Hornets, and his successor is one that the program is very familiar with. Chris Hall, who served as Breen’s assistant, takes over and is aiming to continue the success that Mansfield has had in recent seasons.
Coming off one of their best seasons in program history that culminated in a second straight Super 8 appearance, the Hornets will try to rebuild their lineup with a strong core of seniors. Eric Sullivan will move into the starting role behind the plate and will be a vocal leader both on and off the field for the Hornets. Three-sport athlete Jack Colby is slated to take over at first base, Luke Urban looks to take over at second base, Ben Mintz can slot into a variety of roles, including in the field or on the mound, and Greg Coyle, the lone returner from the 2019 team, will be an option on the mound for the Hornets. Juniors Jared Fraone and Liam Anastasia will help round out the lineup.
Coyle will be joined by juniors Aaron Blinn, Anthony Sacchetti, and Jimmy Gilleran on the Hornets’ staff. That group brings a lot of baseball experience and a range of knowledge, and Hall is hoping all of that will translate to the varsity level. Mintz, Colby Geddis, and Brayden Purtell will look to provide additional innings in relief.
“With two years off due to COVID-19, and few players having varsity experience, I expected tryouts to be exciting,” Hall said. “Our players knew they had to come in and earn everything to gain a spot in the starting lineup. There continues to be daily position battles daily and it pushes players to improve. The talent we have in the program is consistent from top to bottom. The team brings energy and enthusiasm to everything they do and it truly makes the atmosphere on the field second to none. We cannot wait to get out on the field and compete against some of the best competition in the Hockomock League.”
2019 Record: 11-11 2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Alex Dion
Milford will be the new kids on the block this season in their first year apart of the Kelley-Rex division, which features two teams that went to the Super 8 last time out and another that won the D1 State title.
The Hawks are going to rely on their pitching as they compete for the division title. Senior right-hander Mario Lee and classmate Wes Solomon, another righty, both picked up valuable experience as sophomores during the 2019 season and will anchor the Milford pitching rotation. Lee, who is committed to playing both football and baseball at Wesleyan, pitched in 10 games out of the bullpen in 2019 while Solomon appeared in five games with a 2.33 ERA.
Sophomore Evan Cornelius is a “big, physical kid” according to head coach Alex Dion, and he will round out the Hawks’ rotation this season. When he isn’t on the mound, Cornelius will be behind the plate and the same goes for Solomon, who could also see him in the middle infield. Lee will also be in the lineup when he’s not on the mound, playing at either first or third. Senior Carter Scudo burst onto the scene as a sophomore, hitting 0.352, and will be the catalyst to the offense this year, batting in the leadoff spot. He will anchor the outfield defense from center field.
“I’m excited to start our 2021 season,” Dion said. “It has been great to get back out on Fino Field for the first time since 2019. I have a good group of young men this year with players from all four classes making the varsity roster. This is a great league with quality teams, players, and coaches throughout. We will go out and compete to the best of our ability on a daily basis. I am optimistic about what this group has to offer this year and in the future.”
2019 Record: 11-10 2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Mike Hart
North Attleboro head coach Mike Hart has the best arm in the Hockomock League in senior Dennis Colleran and the 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Jared Penta as the catalyst for the offense so the Rocketeers will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport title this season.
2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Colleran, who is committed to pitch at Northeastern, has been a member of the Rocketeers since his freshman year, making his first appearance in North’s D2 South Semifinal win over Dartmouth back in 2018. He logged 37.1 innings as a sophomore, posting a 3-4 record with a 2.63 ERA during the 2019 season. Since then, Colleran has honed his skills on the club scene and is poised to lead the Rocketeers this year. Senior Joe Hartnett and junior Danny Curran look to fill out the rotation while the Rocketeers have plenty of depth pieces including Tyler Bannon, Dan Pedro, Derek Maceda, and Aidan Weir.
Penta will hit from the leadoff spot and set the tone for the offense. Weir and classmate Justin Vecchiarelli will anchor the infield Maceda, a sophomore, could be poised for a breakout season at shortstop. Curran will also see time in the outfield when he isn’t pitching while senior Evan Vigorito, and juniors Brody Rosenberg, and Gavin Wells will be in the outfield mix. Bannon and Nik Kojoian will be options behind the dish for the Rocketeers.
“Just like other teams in the league, we are curious how our players will make the jump to varsity baseball,” Hart said. “We will do our best to be fundamentally sound and keep things simple. Our pitching staff has a handful of competitive guys who are looking for an opportunity to help the team. The boys are excited about the season and hope we can bring a consistent approach to all our opportunities this year.”
2019 Record: 12-13 2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal Coach: Joe Abarr
After reaching the D2 South Sectional Final in 2018, the Tigers fielded basically an entirely new squad during the 2019 campaign. Two years later, Oliver Ames looks to be in the same boat as there minimal varsity experience on the roaster.
Senior Nate Fulford is one of the few players that did see varsity action two years ago, emerging as a go-to option offensively as a pinch-hitter as a sophomore. Now Fulford will be a key piece in the lineup each game, manning third base and bringing a big bat to the heart of the lineup. Senior Jadon Ricci will take over at shortstop and is slated to hit near the top of the lineup.
Junior Jack Richardson was a part of the Tigers’ varsity squad as a freshman and is now in position to anchor the rotation. He’ll be in the lineup even when he’s not on the mound, patrolling the always tricky outfield at Frothingham Park for the Tigers. When it comes to new faces on the squad this year, junior Jake Waxman brings a big bat to the lineup and can bring some pop to the offense; he will start at first base defensively. Junior Joe Cicchetti has impressed early on in tryouts and the preseason both offensively and defensively, and he is slated to start in center for the Tigers.
“We should have a solid lineup,” said OA head coach Joe Abarr. “We have depth at most positions and decent options on the mound. With so little practice time prior to the first game, there are still a lot of questions to be answered, but we have a great group of guys that are really looking to compete this year.”
2019 Record: 2-18 2019 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Andrew Poliferno
The last time the Eagles hit the field, they had one of the youngest teams in the Hockomock League. Now that means there is a lot of returning players back in the dugout this year and Sharon should be one of the most experienced groups in terms of baseball played.
2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Sharon has a new head coach in alum Andrew Poliferno, who is no stranger to the program after coaching at each level over the past few seasons. Poliferno takes over for Kee Arguimbau, who had been with the program as a coach for nearly 20 years including the last four as head coach. Poliferno has 10 seniors at his disposal this year including two of the most experienced players in JD Rittenberg and Justin Brown, who both started as sophomores in 2019. Playing at second and short, respectively, the Eagles will have solid defense up the middle of the field. Sharon expects strong defense to come with the experience it has.
Junior Dylan Labbe pitched some innings as a freshman so the Eagles will lean on him as one of the anchors of the pitching staff. Senior Justin Nault and junior Ryan Baker will also see time on the mound while freshman Luke Meixel is slated to be a part of the starting rotation right away. Offensively, Rittenberg and Brown will lead the way once again. Baker and classmate Nate Yaffe should slot into the lineup in their first year on varsity, playing third and outfield, respectively. Poliferno is also looking for contributions from Damien Bonner and Daniel Zagoren offensively.
“After a missed season, it’s wonderful to see our players back out on the field,” Poliferno said. “Despite the year off, I was impressed with the growth and progress our players made since they last played high school baseball. It was clear to me we have a program of players who work hard during the off-season and I look forward to seeing their hard work translate to wins this season.”
2019 Record: 14-9 2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal Coach: Mike Armour
Like most schools, Stoughton has a limited number of players with varsity experience on the roster this season. It will be baptism by fire for a lot of new faces as head coach Mike Armour will look to get the most out of his lineup to try and compete for the Davenport division title.
The players that do have any varsity experience will be key, especially early on in the season as the rest of the Black Knights get used to the varsity level. Senior Brady Conlin will anchor the Stoughton staff on the mound this year and also hit in the heart of the lineup. Conlin has experience both pitching and at the plate and could be one of the most dangerous all-around players in the league. Senior captain Kyle Doolin will anchor the infield and is an option to pitch as well. He is slated to hit near the top of the lineup and could also see time behind the plate defensively.
Jake Queeney, another senior captain, will patrol center field for the Black Knights and hit from the leadoff spot. Queeney’s speed has been on display on both the basketball court and football field, so his legs could cause some damage on the base paths. Senior captain Brandon Mantilla-Mercado will take care of the pitching staff this year as the starting catcher and will bring some power to the plate offensively. Junior infielder Anthony Tilton has impressed early and figures to be a top bat in the lineup, juniors Jonah Ly and James Price will both see innings in the infield and on the mound, and junior Brad Franey is slated to take over at second. Seniors Joe McNulty, Colby Andrews, Andrew Scardina, and junior Colin Alessi provide lineup depth. Freshmen Hunter Malkin and Ben Zola will likely make an immediate impact for Stoughton.
“The kids are excited to play baseball,” Armour said. “They have brought a positive attitude and willingness to work to practice, which is all I can ask for as a coach. We are excited to get a little bit better every day, and put ourselves in a position to win some ballgames this season.”
2019 Record: 21-7 2019 Finish: Won Div. 1 State Championship Coach: Blair Bourque
It seems like just yesterday the Tigers were celebrating their Division 1 State Championship at LeLacheur Park in Lowell. Yet at the same time, it somehow also feels like a lifetime ago.
2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
The Tigers are one of the teams that will “what if” when it comes to the 2019 season, as they were set to have eight starters back to try and defend their first-ever state championship. Now for the 2021 season, there is just one Tiger starter back from that regular season. That is senior pitcher/infielder Danny MacDougall, who will anchor the pitching staff and also return to his shortstop position. Ty Cali, who took over for MacDougall after an injury sidelined him for the postseason, is also back to give Taunton a solid 1-2 punch up the middle of the field. Cali can also slide over and play short when MacDougall, who is committed to playing at the University of Hartford next year, is on the mound.
Sophomore Ryan MacDougall is set to finally make his varsity debut this year. A verbal commit to the University of Dayton, Ryan MacDougall was on the playoff roster for the state championship team as an eighth-grader. Not only does he bring a big bat and power to the lineup, head coach Blair Bourque described his plate discipline as “well beyond his years.” If the Tigers want to compete at a high level, Bourque noted the importance of senior pitchers Conor Quinlan, Bretton Heggs, and Matthew Ferrara. In total, Taunton boasts a dozen seniors on the roster.
“My expectation for this season is for us to compete as a team and individually every day as best we can, but ultimately, I will be grateful I get to spend time on the field with my players,” Bourque said. “It is always about the relationships formed with your players throughout the course of a year, you don’t always appreciate how good you have it until it’s gone. Losing last season really made me appreciate my role as the head coach for the Taunton High baseball program.”
Attleboro, 0 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Canton junior Andrew Middleton tossed a perfect game, recording 16 strikeouts along the way to lead the Bulldogs to a season-opening win.
Taunton, 11 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Taunton broke open a two-run game with a big sixth inning and never looked back to start the season with a win, running the program’s current win streak to 10 games dating back to the 2019 season. The Tigers scored once in the top of each the first and second innings before exploding for seven runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning. Senior Danny MacDougall got it done both offensively and on the mound for the visitors, knocking in a pair of runs and scoring twice while tossing five scoreless innings. He struck out six with just one hit allowed and no walks to earn the win. Matthew Ferrara pitched two scoreless innings in relief with two strikeouts. Sophomore Ryan MacDougall had a strong debut for Taunton, going 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI, Jack Gobin added two hits, and senior Bretton Heggs started his final season in style by going 2-for-3 with three RBI and two walks.
Sharon, 6 @ Milford, 3 – Final (9 Inn.) – Sharon’s Elliot Pototsky knocked in a pair of runs with a base-hit in the top of the ninth inning to break a tie game and help the Eagles open the season with a win. JD Rittenberg, who had two hits including a double, came on in relief and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, striking out seven to get the win. Justin Brown also had two hits for the Eagles, including a triple, while Dylan Labbe was solid on the mound, striking out seven with one earned run allowed in five innings of work. For Milford, Mario Lee (double, two walks), Tyler Lane (triple, run scored), and Sean McGee (RBI) each had two hits.
Franklin @ Foxboro – Postponed to Friday, 5/7 at 4:00
Mansfield @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to Friday, 5/7 at 3:45
King Philip @ North Attleboro – Postponed to Friday, 5/7 at 3:45 at Community Field.
Canton, 2 @ Attleboro, 14 – Final (5 inn.) – Attleboro’s offense was in midseason form, belting out 17 hits in a season-opening win over visiting Canton in the first game played on the new turf field on Drummond Street. Haley Perry set the tone from the leadoff spot, going 4-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Lindsey Perry, who had two hits including a two-run homer, earned her first win in the circle after giving up two unearned runs in five innings of work. Lora Woyton belted a three-run homer for the Bombardiers while freshman Riley Camacho (3-for-4, two-run home run) and Kayla Goldrick (2-for-3, two doubles) played well in their debut games.
Foxboro, 5 @ Franklin, 0 – Final – Eighth grader Emma Callahan tossed a complete game shutout in her varsity debut, striking out one to help the Warriors win on the road. Senior Morgan Sylvestre paced the Foxboro offense (10 hits as a team), going 4-for-4 with two RBI while Peyton Feldman added two hits in the win. Senior Nicole Theriault came through with a big sacrifice in the third to set the Warriors up for runs.
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Mansfield, 11 – Final – Mansfield rallied from an early deficit, using a big fourth inning to grab control and start the season with a home win. OA jumped in front with three runs in the top of the first. The Hornets got one back in the home half, but Mansfield took the lead with an eight-run fourth inning. Five straight singles, a hit-by-pitch, a walk, and then back-to-back singles turned things around for Mansfield in a big rally. Freshmen Callie Lake (3-for-4), Jill Koppy (2-for-5), Olivia Madeira (2-for-4) and Molly Kucharski (1-for-3) each had hits in their debuts. Alanna Conley, Ashlyn Conley, and Nicole Kabosa had two hits apiece and Ashlyn Conley struck out six Tigers to pick up the win. The Hornets outhit OA 16-10. For OA, Maddie Homer went 4-for-4 with three stolen bases and two runs scored while both Grace Simone and Lexi Galsband had two hits and a run scored.
North Attleboro, 9 @ King Philip, 11 – Final – KP opened the season with a win in a shootout against defending Davenport champ North Attleboro. It was an ideal start for the Warriors, who plated five runs in the first and went on to score in the second, third, and fifth innings. Senior Paige Berdos had three hits, including an RBI and a run scored, as KP totaled 13 hits as a team. Sophomore Libby Walsh (two RBI) and freshmen Jordan Bennett (run) and Maddie Paschke (two RBI) each had two hits for KP while junior Mia Bennett launched a three-run home run. For North, Kelly Colleran led the Rocketeers with four hits and drove in two. Zoey McDonough had a pair of hits, including a three-run homer, and Shaelyn Burns smashed a grand slam for North. Emily Nardelli and Ally Levine each had two hits and Mandi Hanewich scored a pair of runs in the loss.
Stoughton @ Taunton, 3:45
Sharon, 5 @ Milford, 3 – Final – Sharon grabbed a 3-2 lead after the first inning and never relinquished its advantage the rest of the way. For Milford, Camille Bonina (two RBI) and Grace Bonina each had two hits while Olivia Morelli struck out five with just one earned rune allowed in six innings of work.
Canton, 19 @ Attleboro, 9 – Final
Foxboro, 6 @ Franklin, 18 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. – Sophomores Luke Davis and Jayden Consigli combined for 10 goals in their Franklin debuts and senior Matt Lazzaro had five points, as the Panthers opened the season with a dominating home win. Davis got the Panthers off to a great start with a first quarter hat trick. Tim Walsh, Owen Kielty, and Consigli each added one as well for the Panthers and freshman Lincoln Moore got his first varsity goal for the Warriors who trailed 6-1 after one. Tommy Sharkey scored a man-up goal to start the second, but Franklin answered with seven straight goals to open a double-digit lead. Consigli had a hat trick in the second, two of them assisted by Davis, who added two goals of his own in the quarter. Mike Griffin and Lazzaro also scored in the run, before Foxboro got one back to make it 13-3 at the half. Lazzaro and Davis traded assists on each other’s goals to start the third, but freshman Connor Noone got his first career goal and Moore added his second. Conor O’Neil scored back-to-back goals to push the lead up to 12 in the fourth. Noone got his second of the day, but Ravin Chaudhury capped the scoring with his first with two minutes to go.
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Mansfield, 15 – Final – Mansfield opened the season in impressive fashion with a 15-5 win over visiting Oliver Ames. Senior Nico Holmes set the tone with a great game at the faceoff X and scored five goals. Thomas Norton added two goals and five assists, Jake Quirk scored a hat trick and added one helper, and Ryan DeGirolamo was terrific in goal for the Hornets, allowing just two even strength goals. OA junior Wyatt Fritchman led the offense for the Tigers with three goals and two assists while senior Ross Carroll added two goals and an assist.
North Attleboro @ King Philip, 3:45
Sharon, 16 @ Milford, 3 – Final
Canton, 11 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final
Foxboro, 10 @ Franklin, 19 – Final
Oliver Ames, 7 @ Mansfield, 12 – Final – Mansfield broke open a tied game with a strong second half to pull out the win, the first for the Hornets under new coach Brittany Sherry. Ava Adams made an instant impact with four goals in her first varsity game. AnnMarie McCoy pulled down seven draw controls and Caitlyn Zajac made 11 saves for the Hornets, who outscored OA 8-3 after halftime.
North Attleboro, 4 @ King Philip, 16 – Final
Sharon, 12 @ Milford, 7 – Final – Sharon opened the season with a road win. Jenna Goldstein led the way for the Eagles with four goals. Cass Barbera added a hat trick and Tess Letendre made nine saves to preserve the win. Molly McAlevey had a strong game in midfield for the Eagles.
Canton, 5 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – Canton went on the road and grabbed a win in its first match of the season, taking down the host Bombardiers. Junior Suraj Ramanathan and freshman Max Kupferman each won in straight sets in singles while senior Minh Duong picked up a 6-2, 6-1 win at third singles. The team of Ethan Nguyen and Jalen Townsend earned a 6-1, 6-0 win at first doubles while Elias Jabbour and Charlie Doody teamed up for a 6-0, 6-2 win at second doubles for the Bulldogs.
Foxboro, 1 @ Franklin, 4 – Final – Franklin swept both doubles matches in straight sets and added two more wins in singles action to open the season with a win over Foxboro. Senior Liam Marr won 6-2, 6-0 at first singles while junior Vayshnav Malhotra secured a 6-0, 6-2 decision at second singles. The team of Anish Gundimeda and Sameen Shaik earned a 6-0, 6-1 win at first doubles for the Panthers while Thomas Broyles and Jay Gorgas picked up a 6-0, 6-1 win at second doubles. Foxboro’s Jason Kandula won 6-2, 6-2 at third singles.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Mansfield, 5 – Final – The Hornets won all three singles matches in straight sets and didn’t lose a game in doubles action to beat the visiting Tigers of Oliver Ames. Freshman Kailash Elumelai picked up a 6-3, 6-0 win at first singles, senior Dheeraj Valluru notched a 6-0, 6-1 win at second singles, and senior Kai Schirmacher registered a 6-2, 6-2 decision at third singles. The team of senior Nikhil Lankipalle and sophomore Benson Delaney won 6-0, 6-0 at first doubles while senior Adam Elsner and junior Jonah Fine won by the same score at second doubles.
North Attleboro, 5 @ King Philip, 0 – Final – North Attleboro went on the road and opened the season in style, sweeping all five matches against King Philip. Seniors Jonah Manso (6-0, 6-2) and Sam Gallagher (6-1, 6-1) each won in straight sets at first and second singles, respectively, while junior Will Folan rallied for a 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 10-6 win at third singles. Seniors Connor Willis and Sayf Siddiq earned a 6-4, 6-4 win at first doubles while senior Niteesh Saravanan teamed up with sophomore Brody Carter for a 6-4, 6-3 win at second doubles.
Stoughton, 4 @ Taunton, 1 – Final – Brothers Waseem and Rayan Sablon each won in straight sets without dropping a game to lead Stoughton to a season-opening win on the road at Taunton. Waseem notched a 6-0, 6-0 win at first singles while Rayan won by the same score at second singles.
Sharon, 5 @ Milford, 0 – Final – Sharon picked up right where it left off in league action, grabbing a 5-0 win on the road over Milford. Ruemon Bhattacharyya earned a 6-0, 6-1 win at first singles for the Eagles while both Mehul Bhattacharyya (second singles) and Max Chen (third singles) took 6-0, 6-0 decisions. Sharon’s first doubles team of Matt Lally and Rithvik Neti claimed a 6-1, 6-0 win while the team of Mitch Weiss and Deyan Kassev prevailed 6-1, 6-2 at second doubles for the Eagles.
Attleboro, 1 @ Canton, 4 – Final – Canton was on the winning end of a pair of marathon singles matches, defending home court with a 4-1 win over Attleboro. Rachel Kupferman (first singles, 6-0, 6-1) and the team of Lily Hazam and Olivia Durham (first doubles, 6-1, 6-2) both won in straight sets for the Bulldogs. Laura Correal prevailed 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2 at second singles and Grace Powers came through with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 win at third to help secure the win. Attleboro’s Kyra Johnson and Maddie Fulsado picked up a 6-4, 6-1 win at second doubles.
Franklin, 1 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Foxboro didn’t drop a game in singles action, sweeping all three matches and adding another win in doubles play to beat visiting Franklin. Athena Li (first singles), Pam Nelson (second singles), and Sarah Prag (third singles) all won 6-0, 6-0 while the team of Maggie McAuliffe and Abby Costa secured a 6-3, 6-2 win at first doubles. Franklin’s Amulya Jayam and Shriya Rajesh earned a 6-1, 6-0 win at second doubles.
Mansfield, 3 @ Oliver Ames, 2 – Final – Mansfield’s Alex Burnham prevailed in three sets at first singles, winning the match-clinching point as the Hornets won on the road at OA. Mansfield had wins from Aryanna Khosravani (6-3, 6-2) and Kate Martin 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 at second and third singles, respectively, while OA swept doubles action. Burham’s 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win at first singles clinched the third point for the win. OA’s Kate McLaughlin and Grace Houser won 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 at first doubles while Morgan Vailiou and Caroline Peper didn’t drop a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at second doubles.
King Philip, 4 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – King Philip won all three singles matches in straight sets and added another win in doubles action to take a win on the road at North Attleboro. The team of Ahunna James and Shea Mellman dropped just two games in a 6-0, 6-2 win at first doubles for the Warriors. In sweeping singles action, Katarina Schneider won first singles 6-0, 6-0, Mia Valencia record a 6-2, 6-0 win at second singles, and Sammie Taylor secured a 6-2, 6-1 win at third singles. North Attleboro’s Ashlyn Cziria and Teresa Fan won 6-3, 6-3 at second doubles.
Taunton @ Stoughton, 3:45
Milford @ Sharon, 3:45
Boys Outdoor Track
Foxboro, 73 @ Canton, 59 – Final – For Canton, Kyle Downing was a triple-winner and Deyontai Dennis won a pair of events and took second in another. Downing was first in the 1 Mile, the 2 Mile, and the high jump while Dennis won the triple jump and the 400M hurdles, adding a second place finish in the long jump.
Sharon, 40 @ Oliver Ames, 90 – Final
Girls Outdoor Track
Foxboro, 60 @ Canton, 76 – Final – Canton’s Maddie Rousseau broke her own school record in the 100M hurdles, taking first place with a time of 15.1 to lead the Bulldogs to a win over Foxboro. Rousseau also was first in the high jump (4’10) and took second in the 200M (26.4) and the long jump (15′ 6.5″). Kiara Cerruti was a double-winner for the Bulldogs, crossing first in both the 1 Mile (6:02.8) and the 800M (2:41.1).
Attleboro was able to incorporate a number of underclassmen last season and will be hoping that experience pays off with the junior class being asked to step up all across the field this season, as the Bombardiers look to challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
Size won’t be an issue for Attleboro and the offensive line should be a strength this season led by junior tackles Chris Leonardo (6’3, 275 pounds) and Alvin Harrison (6’3, 255) along with seniors Trainor Sherck and Ryan Grover and junior Adam Struminski. The Bombardiers are going to use that line a lot this season with new quarterback Blake Garzaro, who saw some action as a sophomore, handing the ball off frequently to junior Kaiden Murray, who looks poised for a breakout season, and bruising fullback Michael Strachan. Junior Freddy Wheaton is another physical back who will get touches this year. In the passing game, Garzaro can look for 6’4 tight end Christian Dame, who leads a largely new cast of receivers.
The strengths on offense should mirror the strengths for Attleboro’s defense as well. Leonardo, Dame, and Harrison will be the core of the defensive line with junior Isaac Pereira another big body that will be tough for opposing teams to run against. Strachan leads the linebacking corps. The URI-commit is the program’s all-time leading tackler and he’s a four-year varsity player. Wheaton will join Strachan at inside linebacker and Sherck and Ryan Betts will be on the outside. The secondary will have several new faces, but Murray is a tough tackler at free safety and William Runey will be one of the more experienced cornerbacks on the roster.
Franklin is coming off an impressive run to the Div. 1 South final but the Panthers also graduated a host of important pieces from last year’s team, particularly at the skill positions, and will need some younger players to step in to stay competitive in the Kelley-Rex this season.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
Junior Jared Arone will step in at quarterback this season, hoping to have the same level of success running Franklin’s up-tempo style as Thomas Gasbarro did last year. Junior running back Mack Gulla got some time in the backfield last season but will be getting the bulk of the touches this year. A new receiving corps will also have to learn on the job, including senior Jake O’Brien and junior Shane Kindred, and junior tight end Jonathan Martins, but there is potential for this to be an explosive group. Seniors Brady Duncan and Vincent Lackey will be counted on to provide leadership on the offensive line. The consistency of senior kicker Parker Cheuvront will be a huge boost to a Franklin offense that may have some growing pains early in the season.
Defensively, the Panthers return several players and will rely on that experience to combat the top offenses in the league and to allow time for the younger players to get up to speed. Seniors Xander Honor and Dan Cormier will spearhead the defense from their linebacker positions, while seniors Anthony Quintina and Lackey are stout in the middle of the line. Martins will be a force at defensive end and Griffin is a playmaker at safety.
“We need to focus on getting better every day,” said Franklin coach Eain Bain. “Appreciate, and focus on, the here and now. Don’t look ahead or behind, but stay in tuned to the task at hand. And always, Row the Boat.”
This is an atypical season in so many ways, not least of all because King Philip, one of the perennial powers in the Kelley-Rex, is going through a transition. The Warriors will have a lot of new faces this year, using a number of underclassmen who will have to quickly learn the KP style of play through a tough slate of divisional games.
KP returns only two starters on offense from last year’s team that reached the D2 South semifinal. Senior guard Pat Zarba and junior tight end Drew Danson will be the lone holdovers, although several other players did see action at times. Junior Crawford Cantave filled in for an injured Ryan Halliday at running back last year and has the potential to be next in a long line of standout backs at KP. Mike Malatesta will also be in the backfield at fullback and sophomore Ryan Gately is a newcomer to keep an eye on. Junior Charlie Grant is set to be the new quarterback and will have Danson, senior Michael Zagrodney, and junior Nick Viscusi as targets in the passing game. Senior Kevin Pierro will be the center to add some experience to what is otherwise a largely new group on the line.
Defense has always been a priority for KP and this year’s group has a lot of players who will be learning on the job. Zarba and Danson will be on the defensive line, along with junior Hunter Hastings and senior Harry Brown. Malatesta and Gately will be joined by junior Jake Sullivan at linebacker. The secondary is young but has some experience, as Cantave and Viscusi both are coming off strong sophomore seasons at safety.
“I am hoping that our weakness (inexperience and lack of seniors) will be a strength in the fall as we are forced to play a lot of juniors and sophomores now,” said KP coach Brian Lee. “I’m also worried about injuries, as we have not been in our weight room in a year.”
It has been 15 months since Mansfield rolled to a D2 state title at Gillette Stadium and the Hornets are excited to get back on the field, searching for a third straight league title and looking forward to a 90th anniversary game against Foxboro at Alumni Field to close out the season.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
While Mansfield graduated a number of key players from last year’s state championship-winning team, the Hornets return plenty of offensive firepower, especially in the backfield. Senior Cincere Gill will be the focus after racking up nearly 1,000 rushing yards last season, but he will get plenty of help from classmates Anthony Comer and Nico Holmes and newcomer sophomore Rocco Scarpellini. In addition, the Hornets will have Matt Boen and Nick Bertolino back at receiver and Everett Knowlton returns at tight end. Juniors Jake Wall and Dana Johnson will add to the depth in the passing game. The offensive line should be a strength for Mansfield this season with three returning starters, seniors TJ Guy and Jake McCoy and junior Joe Forte. Juniors Jimmy Gilleran and Braedon Veno will fill out the rest of the line.
The Hornets were dominant on defense last season and they remain solid on that side of the ball, particularly in the front seven. With Guy on the end and junior Mark DeGirolamo and McCoy in the interior of the defensive line, Mansfield will be stout up front. Holmes is a standout at linebacker and senior Sean Weber will be a player to watch in his outside linebacker position. The secondary has depth with a handful of players fighting for three defensive back spots.
“Toughest part is mentally, everything’s backward with the weather – feels like November and the end of a typical season, but it’s pre-season,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “Just hoping Friday nights under the lights feel the same once games get going and it feels like we’re starting to finally get into a groove with execution. We’re all thankful to be playing and trying to enjoy every day we can go out and be a team.”
There are a lot of changes at Milford this season, with a new coaching staff taking over and the Hawks making the switch to the Kelley-Rex for the first time, but there is a lot of experience on the field to make that transition with nine starters returning on both sides of the ball.
One of the biggest changes for Milford will be under center, as Brady Olson takes over following his transfer from Bishop Feehan. The UMass-commit will have plenty of targets to aim for, as Milford returns arguably the deepest group of receivers in the league led by seniors Carter Scudo, Max Martin, and Matt Varteresian. They combine deep threat potential with the willingness to make the tough catches in traffic. Up front, Sean Murray and Nick Yohn will lead the protection for Olson and try to open up lanes for a new crop of running backs.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
Experience will be a strength on the defensive side of the ball as well. Dom Schofield highlights a tough defensive line. Another of the team’s UMass commits, Schofield will be a force at the defensive end position, while Mario Lee and Josh Kravets return in the heart of the line. Milford lost a couple of standout linebackers from last year’s squad, Luke Rosa and CJ Cerrella, but Kevin O’Connor and Angelo Romero are playmakers who should be ready for breakout seasons. Grant Scudo and Evan Hazard are back in what should be a strong secondary for the Hawks.
“I have a strong senior class that has played a ton of football and we’ll lean on them to help us compete in the Hock large this year,” said new Milford coach Dale Olson.
With 10 returning starters and 18 returning lettermen, Taunton will be relying on its senior leadership to stay competitive against what has the potential to be a daunting Kelley-Rex division schedule.
The Tigers have plenty of athleticism on both sides of the ball and also versatile players who can line up in multiple positions, making it difficult for opponents to match up. Senior Danny MacDougall moves under center this season, although he has also lined up at receiver in the past. Seniors Josh Lopes and Bretton Heggs give Taunton a pair of dangerous backs, while Trent Santos, Kedrick Santos, Nigel Choate, and Nolan Tomaszycki are weapons in the passing game. Senior Nathan Arieta, at 6-foot-5, is a big target at tight end. Seniors Tommy Ambrose and Jorden Manning are two returning starters on the offensive line. The depth on the line will be tested, as Taunton has several underclassmen with the size to step in but not a lot of experience.
Defensively, Taunton relies on its quickness and athleticism, but also has plenty of size up front. Ambrose, Manning, and Arieta will all play on the defensive line, along with classmate Deandre McPhail and junior Faisal Mass. Lopes, Kedrick Santos, Caleb Nicholson, and Evan Perrotta have experience in the linebacking corps. The secondary is filled with playmakers, including Trent Santos, MacDougall, Heggs, Tomaszycki, and Choate.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
King Philip, 28 @ Taunton, 13 – Final 1st Quarter: (KP) Robert Jarest 29-yard rush, XP failed; (KP) R. Jarest 43-yard pass to Brian Wassersug, R. Jarest 2pt pass to Alex Behling.
2nd Quarter: (KP) R. Jarest 12-yard pass to A. Behling, XP good; (KP) R. Jarest 17-yard pass to Drew Danson, XP good.
3rd Quarter: (T) Trent Santos 2-yard pass to Nigel Choate, Collin Knorr XP good.
4th Quarter: (T) Bretton Heggs 2-yard rush, 2pt rush failed.
Oliver Ames, 6 @ Mansfield, 36 – Final 1st Quarter: (M) Vinnie Holmes 62-yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good; (OA) Nathan Cabral 3-yard rush, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (M) Cincere Gill 12-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; (M) M. DeBolt 8-yard rush, M DeBolt XP good; (M) Jack Moussette 61-yard pass to Danny Rapoza, M. DeBolt XP good.
3rd Quarter: (M) Nick Marciano 37-yard rush, N. Marciano 2pt rush.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Oliver Ames, 6 @ Attleboro, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames and Attleboro traded goals inside the first 20 minutes but the Tigers scored five unanswered to pick up the win. Junior Anthony DaCosta converted a feed from sophomore Mathias Taylor in the 18th minute before the hosts knotted the score two minutes later. OA jumped back ahead when junior Colin Milliken set up classmate Kevin Louhis in the 33rd minute. Taylor made it 3-1 in the 38th minute on a feed from junior Jimmy Keane. The Tigers scored three goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half to pull away. Keane, Milliken and Nicholas Farley each scored with Milliken, Louhis and Dillon Cupples recording assists. Matthew Nikiciuk, Ben Cohen, Harry Ahearn, Matt Nosalek, Jon Freeman all played terrific for OA.
Stoughton, 1 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Colby Ciffolillo, Caden Mirliani, and Jake McCabe scored to help the Bulldogs pick up a win over visiting Stoughton.
Milford, 6 @ Foxboro, 0 – Final – Milford scored three goals in each half to secure a big win on the road at Foxboro. Senior Pedro Araujo scored four goals in the win to break the program’s single season point record, with 32 points so far this season. Araujo opened the scoring halfway through the first half on an assist from Nuno Mestre, and then grabbed his second eight minutes later on a penalty kick. Joao Pedro Da Silva made it 3-0 with Araujo recording the assist. Jordan Borges set up Araujo for his third goal with a beautiful through ball just a minute into the second half. Araujo grabbed his fourth in the 50th minute with Da Silva notching the assist. David Desa scored the final goal with Eduardo Castro getting the assist. Kevin Gomes had the shutout in net while both Borges and freshman Nick Ribeiro had strong showings in the midfield.
Franklin, 0 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – Mansfield freshman Aiden Steele scored a goal and had an assist to help the Hornets knock off Franklin to keep their postseason hopes alive. Steele set up Colin True in the 55th minute for the opener, and then scored his first career goal in the 68th minute off a corner from sophomore Matt Hyland. Mansfield coach Steve Sheridan said his defense played great, adding Peter Oldow and Colin Caridi had phenomenal games in the midfield.
Taunton, 3 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip and Taunton traded goals back and forth throughout 80 minutes, with the hosts finding the equalizer in the final five minutes to earn a draw. The visitors opened the scoring in the 12th minute when junior Travis Nunes converted a pass from classmate Kevin Monteiro. Cam Lawrence (from Colin Wesley) tied the game for KP in the 23rd minute, and KP took its first lead when Alex Leon scored off an assist from Tadhg Keller in the 32nd minute. Taunton’s Hunter Cabral knotted things up five minutes later with Khalil Ba picking up the assist. Taunton went back ahead in the 55th minute when Cabral netted his second, assisted by Paiva. Lawrence brought the hosts level once again, this time finishing a pass from Owen Teixeira in the 76th minute.
North Attleboro, 0 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – North Attleboro keeper Kyle Briere and Sharon goalie Matthew Baur both played well, each earning a shutout as the Rocketeers and Eagles split the points.
Attleboro, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 5 – Final – Oliver Ames senior Erin Holmberg scored four goals to pace the hosts to a big win at home. Caroline Peper also scored in the while while Allison Evin had two assists. Lauren Sellmayer and Jenna Gilman each had one helper for the Tigers. Attleboro freshman Emily Dunlea scored her first career goal for the Bombardiers.
King Philip, 9 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – King Philip senior Chloe Layne scored twice in the first half and added two assists as the Warriors built a 4-0 lead by the break and never looked back. Layne finished with four assists while Avery Snead had four goals and one assist in the win. Maeve Lawlor, Ella Pisani, and Jenny Montville also scored while Taylor Butler had the shutout in goal.
Sharon, 0 @ North Attleboro, 0 – Final – Sharon’s Cass Barbera and North Attleboro’s Regan Fein posted shutouts as the Eagles and Rocketeers took a point each. Lydia Hershey, Colette Petit, and Lily Adams all played well for North Attleboro.
Milford, 2 vs. Bellingham, 1 – Final – Milford defended home turf with a 2-1 win over Bellingham. Kat Swineford scored once and added an assist for the Hawks, setting up a goal from Olyvia Whyte.
Attleboro, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – Oliver Ames took care of business on Friday evening, sweeping visiting Attleboro, 3-0 (25-11, 25-13, 25-14). Junior Sarah Morley shined at the service line with 12 aces and a total of 24 service points. Allie Kemp added 19 assists, Alison Barth notched 20 digs, and Ryley McNeeley chipped in with five kills and five assists.
King Philip, 3 @ Walpole, 0 – Final – King Philip earned a regular season sweep over non-league foe Walpole picking up a 3-0 (25-9, 25-13, 25-15) sweep. The Warriors had a strong showing from the service line as Emma Brooks had 20 service points with three aces and Lily Carlow added eight service points (three aces) and four digs. Nicole Coughlan (12 kills) and Catherine Waldeck (10 kills) pace KP’s offense at the net.
Milford, 2 vs. Nipmuc, 3 – Final
Canton, 160 @ Mansfield, 155 – Final – In a battle of division champions, Mansfield earned bragging rights with a close win over Canton at Norton Country Club. Mansfield juniors Brian See and Joseph Gormley shared match medalist honors to lead the way, finishing at 38 for the day. See had birdies on both the sixth and seventh holes. Junior Ryan Dow added a 39 and junior Nate Morreale finished with a 40 for the Hornets. Canton’s James O’Keeffe had a team-low round of 39, Chris Lavoie and Mike Leonetti each shot 40, and Owen Donovan finished at 41.
So it’s no surprise the teams had nearly identical stats when they clashed on the new turf field at Muscato Stadium.
But in the end, it was Taunton that made just enough plays — scoring on their opening drive of each half, and using a pick-six early in the game to earn a 21-6 over OA in the annual matchup dubbed The Tiger Bowl.
Taunton’s defense quickly forced a punt on the first series of the game and the offense rewarded them with a lengthy drive ending in six points. The visiting Tigers marched 63 yards on 13 plays, including the final seven coming in the red zone.
A healthy dose of Josh Lopes (18 carries, 76 yards) and Bretton Heggs (13 carries, 51 yards) on the ground helped Taunton moved the sticks. The drive included a pair of third down conversions from Lopes and a fourth down conversion from the 10-yard line from Heggs.
Sophomore quarterback Trent Santos (6-for-8, 42 yards) finished the drive with a sneak from one yard out. Taunton took a 7-0 lead following Collin Knorr’s extra point with 1:35 to go in the first quarter.
Oliver Ames looked to respond immediately but a personal foul backed the hosts up, and on third down Taunton junior Kedrick Santos jumped a route, intercepting the pass and taking it to the house for a 25-yard pick-six. Knorr’s point after put Taunton ahead 14-0 with under a minute to go in the opening quarter.
“It was huge, it was right after we had scored so the timing of it was big,” said Taunton head coach Brad Sidwell. “We knew we needed to run the ball but [OA] did a good job getting guys up there so we were running into too many. So it was a big play for us to get a touchdown from our defense and go up two scores.
“We knew their quarterback could throw the ball but [Santos] was able to read it and get under it and make a play.”
That would be the only scoring for the opening half. OA had a nine-play drive in the middle of the second quarter stall at midfield when Taunton stuffed a fourth and one run to force a turnover on downs.
OA’s defense did its part for the remainder of the half, limiting the visitors to just six yards combined over its next two drives, both ending in punts.
Taunton opened the second half at its own 48-yard line after Nathan Arieta was alert to OA’s onside kick attempt. The visiting Tigers picked up key conversions again on this drive with Santos hitting Arieta for a first down, and Lopes rushing for two yards to convert a fourth down, putting Taunton into the red zone.
The visitors ran six plans inside the red zone this time, including an eight-yard scamper from Heggs that moved the chains on third down. Three plays later, Santos kept it himself from one yard out for another touchdown and a 21-0 lead. The 13-play, 52-yard drive took nine minutes off the clock.
“We had a couple of good conversions on third down that helped us move the ball, and it was big to get another touchdown to start the second half,” Sidwell said.
“I think having the two-score lead, which was the first one we’ve had this year, gave the kids some confidence. And I think the defense fed off of that too.”
OA’s first two drives of the second half both ended in a turnover on downs. The first lasted just four plays, giving Taunton the ball at the OA 36-yard line. But OA’s defense held strong and the visiting Tigers missed a 30-yard field goal.
OA found success on its next series, moving 69 yards on nine plays, with the big play coming when Cam Perron (5/16, 66 yards) found Harrison Webster for a 37-yard gain.
The host Tigers got into the red zone on a 13-yard carry from Cabral (12 carries, 65 yards) but back-to-back negative plays preceded back-to-back incomplete passes with Javon Franklin batting down a pass in the end zone on fourth down.
On its second to last drive of the game, OA finally found the end zone, going 33 yards on five plays. Cabral had two straight carries that went for 20 yards, and Stevens broke free for seven yards to move OA inside the 10-yard line.
Attleboro got off to a strong start to the 2018 season, jumping out to a 4-1 record with its only loss coming against eventual D2 South champ King Philip, and allowing only five points per game. But a last-minute loss in a shootout against Mansfield and a fourth quarter comeback by Franklin the following week sparked a six-game losing streak to close out the season. The Bombardiers come into 2019 looking to turn that around and use its experience to make a run at the Kelley-Rex title.
Offensively, the Bombardiers will be led by senior quarterback Jason Weir. At a bruising 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Weir is a punishing runner and has a big arm to make plays downfield in the passing game. Junior Justin Daniels will be the starting tailback with senior Isaac Guidel and a big offensive line trying to open holes for the running game, led by senior Qualeem Charles (6-foot-5 and 325 pounds), who has a host of colleges recruiting him. Senior Ethan Cameron will provide a weapon on the outside, while junior Michael Strachan offers another threat over the middle from his tight end position.
Charles will dominate the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball as well, but the strength of the Attleboro defense will be its experienced linebacker corps. Strachan, a three-year starter who is getting looks from some Div. I colleges, will be joined by Guidel and senior Nolan Jaeger. Weir will play strong safety, after two seasons at defensive end, and will be counted on to step in to help stop the run. Cameron will be at free safety and giving the cornerbacks help over the middle. Attleboro has a large contingent of sophomores who could step in to contribute right away, including Alvin Harrison, Chris Leonardo, Adam Pearlstein, and Freddy Wheaton.
Attleboro coach Mike Strachan said, “We are looking forward to the season getting underway and with the leadership of our four captains we are looking to be explosive on offense and very physical defensively. The Hockomock League is one of the best leagues in the state with some great teams. We will have to play our very best each week if we are going to compete at a high level.”
Franklin nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the 2018 season when the Panthers forced perennial power Xaverian to double overtime in the Div. 1 South semifinal. It was a big step forward for the program and head coach Eian Bain hopes it will be a building block for even more success in 2019.
Offensively, the graduation of quarterback Nick Gordon will be a big loss for the Panthers but senior Thomas Gasbarro saw a lot of time under center last year and he will step in and take the starting job. Gasbarro will have plenty of weapons to choose from, as the Panthers have plenty of speedy, athletic players in the skill positions. Senior Jack Nally is a threat out of the backfield or split out wide and his classmate Jake Davis is a solid receiver over the middle or downfield. Senior Matt Lazarek is a potential target from the tight end position and Owen Palmieri is another dangerous ball carrier. Junior Parker Cheuvront emerged last season as one of the top kickers in the Hock and is another weapon that the Panthers can count on if a drive does stall.
The defense is an experienced group. Senior Evan Wertz has been one of the league’s tackle leaders for the past two seasons and he is the team’s top playmaker from his linebacker position. Nally, Davis, Palmieri, and senior Ben Greco give Franklin a tough secondary to throw against and all are capable of coming up with the big turnover to get the ball back in the hands of the offense. Luke Cunningham and Dom Natale will give the Panthers strength at the line of scrimmage.
“The challenge for this group is to continue to improve and build the program,” said Bain. “They need to add their own chapter and their own stamp on the program. We have the right people in the room. We need to play with the swagger and confidence of a contender, but be humble in our preparation. If we stay true to the process, we have great potential.”
Despite not winning the league title last year, the target on King Philip’s back continues to grow.
The Warriors might have missed out on the Kelley-Rex crown, but they won their third straight sectional title and made their this straight appearance in the state final, this time falling to North Andover (6-0). While this year’s senior class knows other than Super Bowl appearances, head coach Brian Lee says this group is focused on taking it one game, starting with the opener against North Attleboro. KP has a strong core of players back on the offensive side of the ball, including quarterback Robbie Jarest and running back Ryan Halliday. Both players had really strong junior seasons and should be the leaders of the group this year. The offensive line includes returners Nolan Gunning (left tackle), Sean Piller (center), and Pat Zarba (right guard) while Wyatt Manzi, Jack Collentro, and Griffin MacKay are in the mix to fill the remaining spots. Having an experienced line bodes well for the KP run game that will heavily feature Ryan Halliday plus fullback Shawn Conniff and halfbacks Sam Callanan and Crawford Cantave.
The Warriors’ defense has been one of the best units in the state in recent years, and while the expectations remain high for the group, there will be a lot of new faces. KP graduated its entire secondary so the Warriors are turning to senior Brian Wasserug and Cantave, a sophomore, to take on starting spots. Halliday and Callanan, both captains, will handle outside linebacker duties with Mike Malatesta in the mix for the middle spot. Gunning and Manzi will also see action on the defensive line alongside Conniff. Dillon Conti takes over kicking duties for the departed Cole Baker.
“These kids know how much work, how much effort it takes to get where we want to be,” Lee said. “But it’s all about going game by game, starting this week with a team [North Attleboro] that we have a ton of respect for.”
Looking at the long list of returning players, it is no surprise that expectations around Alumni Field are sky high this fall. Mansfield enters the season with experience at just about every position and with the bitter taste of last year’s South final loss to rival King Philip still stinging. Despite a rash of injuries that forced running back Aidan Sacco to play as an emergency quarterback for most of the season, Mansfield still won a league title and this year’s team may be even more talented, which has ramped up the hype and put the target squarely on the Hornets’ backs.
The line of scrimmage will be a strength for the Hornets on the offensive side of the ball, as they return four of five starters from last year’s unit that allowed the team to rush for more than 2,600 yards. Senior Jason Comeau and reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year TJ Guy will be two key cogs in the line, while senior Noah Jellenik and junior Jake McCoy are also back. Senior Andrew Cowles will step into the fifth spot. They will seek to protect senior quarterback Jack Moussette, who had a cameo under center last year before an injury forced him to miss the bulk of the season. The skill positions will be loaded with athletes. Cincere Gill had a breakout sophomore season at running back and senior Nick Marciano is back after an injury cut short his junior season. Senior Michael DeBolt was one of the top kickers in the league but also gives Mansfield another weapon on the edges, while senior Vinnie Holmes adds a bruising presence coming out of the backfield.
Holmes is the headliner on the defensive side of the ball. Along with fellow linebackers Marciano, DeBolt, and senior Joe Plath, Holmes will be expected to make big plays all over the field. The defensive line will be strong with three returning players: senior Chris Graham, McCoy, and Guy. Junior Nico Holmes will step in as the fourth man on the line. Much like on offense, speed will be a strength and the secondary is loaded with playmakers, including Gill, junior Matt Boen, and senior Makhi Baskin.
“We have a bunch of experience all over the field, but we really have to develop depth with the second team to handle a tough schedule and challenges every week,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “This is one of the fastest group of skill guys we’ve ever had and we could be explosive on offense. We lack a little size up front on defense, but we should be able to overcome that by flying around with pursuit to the ball with our speed.”
There was no question that 2018 was a tough season for the Tigers. Oliver Ames lost by a point in the season opener to Concord-Carlisle and didn’t earn its only win until the penultimate game against Durfee. The Tigers will hope to turn things around quickly with an infusion of young talent under new head coach Ed DeWitt.
On offense, the players will be learning a new system, but there is experience in the backfield to try and implement different schemes. Senior running back Nathan Cabral figures to see plenty of the ball again this year after his breakout junior season in which he ran for more than 1,100 yards. He will be joined by senior quarterback Cam Perron and senior running back Sam Stevens to give the Tigers a strong core. Seniors Harrison Webster and Adam Cann (who is coming off an injury) will give Perron weapons to utilize on the outside.
There will be a lot of new faces on the defensive side, as DeWitt can call on three or four returning starters and will need a number of players to provide contributions on both sides of the ball. The linebacking corps was particularly hit by graduations, although senior Tyler Campbell can provide some experience and leadership in that position and Cabral brings athleticism to the role. Max Anderson and Anthony DeCosta will be important at the line of scrimmage, while Stevens will step into the secondary along with senior corner Nick Gillis and junior corner Jadon Ricci.
“The competition in camp has been great,” DeWitt said. “The players have committed to the program and bought into the day to day work that we need to do. We are focusing on making sure we treat every day as an opportunity to improve and string together some positive momentum.”
The Tigers started last season with three straight wins and then finished with three wins in their final four games to end 2018 with a winning record. Taunton enters this fall with a relatively inexperienced roster, but one that is looking to continue the momentum in the program and try to push forward so it can challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division.
One of the biggest changes for the Tigers will be under center. Noah Leonard was the starter for three seasons, but junior Danny MacDougall will take over this year. MacDougall will also see time at receiver to try and take advantage of his athleticism. He will be joined in the backfield by classmates Bretton Heggs and Josh Lopes, who both got time at running back as sophomores. Juniors Kedrick Santos and Devante McPhail will be the primary weapons at receiver. Up front, the Tigers have decent size. Senior Mike Murray will be at center, senior Hussein Kassab at one tackle, junior Marquis Dalomba at the other tackle, and junior Jordan Manning at guard.
Similar to the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers lack experience on defense and are still learning the schemes, but physical scrimmages have helped prepare them for the season. Senior Woudanly Danger is a force at the line of scrimmage and will require attention from opponents and senior Jackson Wellman has been one of the team’s top tacklers from linebacker. Junior defensive end Deandre McPhail adds to the strength of the line. Senior Curt Marshall and MacDougall will be the safeties and senior Cam Carroca will be at corner.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and trying to get better and to be competitive in the league,” said Taunton coach Brad Sidwell. “We’re definitely inexperienced, but physically we have guys who can do it and we need to coach them up so they’ll be ready to go once the season gets started.”