Warriors Three-Peat Bid Comes Up Just Short

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King Philip junior Ryan Halliday breaks through the North Andover defensive line in the Div. 2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – There were still many who expected North Andover, with its perfect record and high-powered offense, to be too much for King Philip in Friday night’s Div. 2 Super Bowl and the Warriors were going to struggle to stay with the Scarlet Knights.

You would think that at this point, after three straight trips to Gillette Stadium and 33 wins combined over the past three seasons, people would know better than to underestimate KP.

With 26 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Warriors got the ball back at their own 26 trailing just 6-0. Robert Jarest scrambled from one side of the field all the way back to his left and hit Tim Nault right on the sideline for a first down. On the next play the pair connected again for another 13 yards into North Andover territory. With the clock down to 11 seconds, Jarest found DDavid Morganelli in front of his own bench for 13 yards to the Knights 34.

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With six seconds left on the clock, KP had one last chance to complete an unlikely three-peat. But, North Andover defensive back Michael Roche ruined the storybook ending by chasing down Jarest for a game-ending and title-winning sack that handed the Scarlet Knights their first Super Bowl title since 1994.

“They keep rallying back,” KP coach Brian Lee said of his team. He added that Roche impressed him on film in the build up to the game, calling him “a real dude,” and he was aware of the North Andover senior but couldn’t change the play at that moment. Lee said, “We were a little disjointed, not having another timeout to get it the way we wanted to and to realize he was on this side and we rolled out into him.”

There was certainly disappointment on the King Philip (9-3) side after the loss, having two long drives end just outside the red zone and having the lone North Andover touchdown come off the lone turnover for the Warriors, but Lee credited his players for beating all the expectations for the season.

Lee said, “They really weren’t supposed to be anything this year. To get back here with these guys and to play that way, I mean especially on ‘D’ to shut them down again, we play so well on ‘D’ on this field…”

He added, “It was just a great job competing by our guys. I’m so proud of them.”

KP got the ball first and put together exactly the type of drive that has become synonymous with the Warriors during Lee’s coaching tenure. Junior Ryan Halliday (29 carries, 97 yards) got the ball on all but one of the 12 plays and marched KP all the way to the North Andover 25. On fourth and four, the Warriors called for a fake field goal and Cole Baker found an open receiver on the far sideline but the ball couldn’t be pulled in.

Jack Webster leapt to bat down a third down pass attempt and end the Scarlet Knights first drive, but KP went three-and-out when it got the ball back.

On the North champion’s next drive, Jake McElroy started to get things going through the air, connecting with Gabriel DeSouza for 33 yards to the KP 32. Three plays later, on third and two, McElroy (10-16, 117 yards) appeared to have an open receiver but the ball slipped through his hands and Nault was on hand to pick it off.

The momentum from the interception lasted only two plays. Halliday was hit hard on a toss to the left and Darren Watson recovered the fumble at the KP seven. It took four plays before McElroy punched it in from one yard out, and it took a great second effort just to get the ball across the line. The extra point was blocked.

“That call was dumb,” Lee admitted. “That was my fault and it put the defense in a bad spot. Even so, fourth and one I thought we had them there. That call was the wrong call and put the defense in a bad way, but besides that they did everything they were supposed to do. I really think if we don’t make that mistake then we shut them out.”

North Andover started the second half with the ball, but Shawn Conniff ended the drive by busting into the backfield to stop Watson for a one-yard loss on third and one. KP got the ball at its own six and proceeded to grind out another long drive.

Halliday had been largely contained since the first possession but he broke runs of 17, 10, and 11 yards to get the Warriors going. A Jarest scramble turned into a 12-yard weaving run that got KP down to the North Andover 23. Facing fourth and 10, Jarest slipped as he rolled out and although he recovered his footing wasn’t able to hook up with Morganelli on a comeback route.

Again, the KP defense did its job to get the ball back quickly, including a big play by Morganelli busting up a screen pass for a seven-yard loss.

North Andover coach John Dubzinski said of the KP defense, “They were so good up front. They were good on the perimeter, they were good inside. They covered our receivers well, very well. They’re a good football team. We beat a good football team.”

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After a pass was knocked away from Morganelli, the Warriors had fourth and eight from the Scarlet Knights 43. Lee elected to punt and Baker dropped one at the one-yard-line with 4:49 left to play.

McElroy was able to elude the KP blitz and hit Watson for a crucial 29-yard completion and then added a 17-yard pass to the KP 40. Watson jumped on a fumble for a four-yard loss and then Tyler Barrett/u> sacked McElroy for a 10-yard loss that forced third and 24. The Warriors did their job and stopped the North Andover offense as it did all night, but it just wasn’t enough time for the offense to get on the board.

It says everything about this team that when KP got the ball back, there were plenty of people thinking that somehow the Warriors would be able to pull this out.

“A lot of things looked like they were going our way early and then we just stalled out on ‘O’ a couple times,” Lee said. “We were just a little short on a couple things tonight. Just a lot of little miscues on offense really prevented us from stealing this one.”

KP Heads to Gillette Again After Comeback at Mansfield

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KP quarterback Robbie Jarest scored the go-ahead touchdown with a 1-yard sneak in the fourth quarter and secured a huge first down with a scramble to help the Warriors reach a third straight Super Bowl. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – The first game back in September was a surprising shootout, but the rematch in the pouring rain on Friday night at Alumni Field was more of what has come to be expected from battles between Mansfield and King Philip.

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Defense was the story of the Div. 2 South final. The Hornets scored a touchdown on their opening possession but were held off the board for the remainder of the game, while the Warriors were held without a touchdown until midway through the fourth quarter.

King Philip came away with a hard-hitting 10-7 victory over its division rival, securing its third straight trip to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

“There’s playing teams and then there’s playing Mansfield,” King Philip coach Brian Lee remarked. “You know what you’re going to get and it’s just how are you going to move the ball when they’re big and mean and tough and we’re just trying to find a way.”

Mansfield took the lead midway through the first quarter, taking advantage of a short punt to score its only touchdown of the game.

After a three-yard punt, the Hornets got the ball at the KP 37 but then backed up 10 yards on a pair of false starts. On third and 15, Aidan Sacco was able to pull the ball down and scramble for 16 and a first down. Two plays later, Sacco again found space to run and rumbled in untouched for a 16-yard score.

The ensuing kick was fielded at the one by Aidan Bender, but he returned it 47 yards out to midfield. The Warriors were unable to make it count, but the defense got the ball right back.

KP forced a Mansfield three-and-out and regained possession inside Hornets territory. Ryan Halliday (27 carries, 96 yards), with help from a defensive holding call, got the ball down to the 21, but Mansfield held firm and forced a 38-yard field goal from Cole Baker that cut the lead to 7-3.

Mansfield had a chance to add to its lead before halftime when it go the ball back at midfield. The drive started poorly, as Sacco was sacked by Halliday and Max Armour, but a personal foul following an incomplete pass gifted the Hornets 15 yards and a first down. Sacco then hit Cincere Gill for 20 yards down to the KP 18, but two plays later Gill fumbled and Bender recovered for the Warriors.

“When they didn’t score before the half, I thought we were okay,” said Lee. “We couldn’t have played any worse offensively and made some mistakes on defense, but if we could get into the half and make our adjustments and only be down four I thought alright that’s KP football, we’re fine.”

The third quarter continued the trend where defenses were in control of the game. Even without Vinnie Holmes at linebacker, Mansfield was getting big plays from Chris Copponi and T.J. Guy. KP was getting typically strong performances from Armour and fellow linebacker Jack Webster to stymie the Mansfield offense.

The score stayed the same heading to the fourth before KP finally got something going on the offensive side of the ball. The Warriors ate up six minutes with an 11-play, 51-yard drive to take the lead.

“We started just grinding it out, pounding it,” said junior quarterback Robbie Jarest about the go-ahead drive. “The line was doing really well, we were just grinding it out.”

Halliday continued to be the workhorse back, grinding out yards, including a two-yard burst to convert a fourth and one. On second and six, KP called for a bootleg from Jarest and he bounced it to the outside for 11 yards. On third and six, Jarest scrambled and managed to dive ahead for nine and another first down to the Mansfield 12.

On the next play, he hit David Morganelli just outside the goal line for a first and goal from about a foot, which Jarest finished off with a sneak.

The Hornets had 5:38 on the clock to try and get back the lead. Back-to-back nine-yard gains by Gill and Joe Plath got the ball out to the 43. After an eight-yard gain by Khristian Conner pushed the ball into KP territory, Mansfield took a chance downfield. Sacco tried to squeeze a pass in down the middle but it was picked off by Deric Casado at the 16.

On third and eight, again KP turned to its quarterback on a bootleg and Jarest weaved his way through the Mansfield defense for nine yards and a dagger first down that sealed the win.

“Robert gave us a little wrinkle at the end that was just enough,” said Lee. “That’s kind of what we do at KP, just enough. He’s really done a great job stepping up, taking the coaching, and I’m really proud of his efforts.”

No one was quite sure what to make of this KP team at the start of the season. With no returning starters on offense, this didn’t seem like a Warriors team that could make it back to the state title game, but here they are again booking a trip back to Gillette Stadium with eyes on a three-peat.

“It’s a very different team and it’s presented challenges along the way but they still have the same theme, which is keep believing, keep working,” Lee explained. “The one thing that stayed from the last two years is their work ethic and their belief that they can pull it off.”

He added, “We have heart, we have guts, we have teamwork, and we use it on this team better than anybody. Anybody can be a hero on a different play.”

King Philip (8-2) will face Franklin on Thanksgiving Day and then take on North champion North Andover in the Div. 2 title game. Mansfield also finished the season at 8-2 and will finish its season with its Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Foxboro at Fenway Park.

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KP Bounces Back With Big Win Against Franklin

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King Philip junior quarterback Robbie Jarest tossed three touchdown passes to lead the Warriors to a convincing win against rival Franklin. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – Coming off a difficult, emotional, last minute loss to Mansfield in last week’s title showdown, there was concern that King Philip may have a letdown against Thanksgiving Day rival Franklin. Both teams came into week five with one league loss and a setback on Friday night at Macktaz Field would effectively end that team’s chances of a league title this season.

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The Warriors set aside any worries about the impact of last week’s loss by jumping out to an early lead and then put the Panthers away in the second half with 21 unanswered points.

KP beat Franklin 35-14 behind three touchdown passes from junior quarterback Robbie Jarest to earn its 13th straight victory in this series dating back to Thanksgiving 2009 and to stay just one game back of Mansfield in the division standings.

“I was definitely a little nervous about that,” KP coach Brian Lee said. “Our guys were talking about our maturity level and our compete level and [the Mansfield loss] was disappointing…but you’ve got to keep looking forward. You’ve got to think about playoffs and keep your eyes on a new direction.”

For Panthers coach Eian Bain, this was a missed opportunity for his team to earn that elusive marquee win against one of the league’s perennial powers.

“Our guys work hard,” Bain said. “But, it’s three years of working hard and not quitting and, eventually, we need to take the next step as a program and when that happens it’s going to be up to our team. King Philip isn’t getting off the pyramid and Mansfield’s not stepping off to give it to us, we need to go get it.”

The Warriors wasted no time in setting aside the disappointment of last week, driving 65 yards on eight plays on the opening possession of the game to take the lead.

Helped by a personal foul call against the Panthers and 26 yards on the ground from Ryan Halliday (25 carries, 134 yards), KP got the ball inside the red zone. Jarest (6-13, 94 yards) finished the drive by hitting Timmy Nault, who ran an angled route across the middle of the Panthers’ secondary, for an 18-yard score.

The KP defense was typically aggressive and allowed only one first down on Franklin’s first two possessions. Jack Webster’s sack pushed the Panthers back inside their own 10 and KP took advantage of solid starting field position to double the lead.

Halliday went up the middle for 21 yards on a draw that put the ball at the Franklin 28. Two plays later, on third and 10, Jarest again found the open receiver, connecting with Deric Casado for a 28-yard strike and a 14-0 lead.

“Every week he gets a little better,” said Lee about Jarest. “He gets a little crazy at times, but you saw it tonight, we’re feeling a little more comfortable with him, having more trust in him, and that’s only going to make our offense better. Our receivers are coming along too.”

Franklin got a much-needed response on its next drive. After an 11-yard run by Owen Palmieri, a 15-yard pass interference call moved the ball down to the KP 32-yard-line. A pair of Webster tackles at the line of scrimmage and an incomplete pass left Franklin facing fourth and nine, but Nick Gordon was able to hit Sean Leonard for 28 yards down to the three. Three plays later Gordon punched it in from a yard out.

KP got the ball back with 5:38 left in the half at its own 19. The Warriors proceeded to use up all but seven seconds of the quarter and got as far as the Franklin 21, but were forced to settle for a 42-yard field goal attempt from Cole Baker. The kick was on line but fell just a yard short and the score remained 14-7 at the break.

The Panthers went into halftime with the momentum, but KP turned that around quickly in the third quarter. The Warriors forced a three-and-out, scored a touchdown, forced a fumble and added another score to break the contest wide open in a little more than six minutes of game time.

“I felt like they had all the mojo,” said Lee. “They held us down there and I felt like, okay we’re in a game here. Now you’ve got to withstand that burst and they did that. They had a good response, so I was pleased.”

Jack Norgren returned the Franklin punt to the Panthers’ 47. From there, Halliday carried the ball five times for 22 yards. On first down from the 25, Jarest tossed his third score of the night, finding David Morganelli on a go-route down the left sideline to extend the lead back to two scores.

The Warriors pinned Franklin back at its own 13 on the ensuing kick-off and then two plays later Max Armour and Halliday forced a fumble when Gordon tried a keeper up the middle. Morganelli recovered the loose ball at the 12. On the next play Halliday, with a giant push from his offensive line, carried a pile of players into the end zone to make it 28-7.

Casado’s solid coverage on Leonard forced a turnover on downs inside the KP 30 on Franklin’s next possession and the Warriors turned it into another score. Sam Callanan (five carries, 46 yards) gave Halliday a rest and took the bulk of the plays on the drive. He found a seam on a toss to the left and was able to scamper home with a 12-yard rush that made it 35-7 with eight minutes remaining.

Gordon (5-13, 138 yards) did get the Panthers a consolation score just a minute later on an 84-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, who showed off his speed in out-running the KP secondary from one sideline to the opposite corner. But, Nault intercepted a Gordon pass on the next possession to cap off an impressive second half display from the Warriors.

“It was Mansfield all over again,” Bain reflected. “There were moments where we could’ve made a play or two and maybe we don’t win but it’s a different game. We’ve got to turn it around because we’ve got two more left and if we want a shot at hosting a playoff game, then we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

King Philip (3-2, 2-1) will travel to Muscato Stadium to take on Oliver Ames next week, while Franklin (3-2, 1-2) will try to bounce back at Aleixo Tiger Stadium against Taunton.

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Hornets Hold On To Knock Off King Philip

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Mansfield quarterback Aidan Sacco runs for a 42-yard gain in the third quarter against King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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MANSFIELD, Mass. – After a spectacular second half that featured a combined five touchdowns from Mansfield football and King Philip, it all came down to one final play.

King Philip quarterback Robbie Jarest (12/20, 206 yards, 3 touchdowns) found Tim Nault (four receptions, 58 yards, three touchdowns) for an 18-yard touchdown with just 39 seconds to go in the game, bringing the visiting Warriors to within just one point.

The Warriors elected to go for the win, keeping the offense on the field for a two-point attempt. But pressure from a leaping TJ Guy off the left side forced Jarest to loft a throw off his back foot, and the pass fell short, sealing a 28-27 win for the host Hornets in the HockomockSports.com Game of the Week.

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“That was about as good as it gets,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “You go into overtime, you just never know. I think they had a good play call, and on the road, you go for the win. We’re lucky we survived it. They made so many plays in the last five minutes, I’m glad we survived the last one and got the win out of it. This was a great game with two great teams battling literally until the last play. This was as good as it gets in high school.”

King Philip had a 14-7 advantage to begin the second half, but Mansfield scored three times during a span of 2:17, scoring two touchdowns late in the third and one on the first play of the fourth to seize a 28-14 advantage.

Things were looking good for the Hornets, as they carried that lead over five minutes into the fourth. But the Warrior refused to quit. After starting at midfield, Jarest found Nault on the fifth play of the drive – again on fourth down – for an 11-yard score, getting with one touchdown, down 28-21 with 4:08 to play.

KP’s defense did its part, forcing a three and out and Nault put the Warriors in good position, taking the punt return to the Mansfield 49-yard line with just 2:06 left. After three straight incompletions, Jarest hit Deric Casado for 19 yards and a first down with 1:38 to go. Two plays later, Jarest connecting with Casado again and used a sneak to get a first down at the 18-yard line with 57 seconds left.

Jarest hit Nault for a touchdown on the next play, setting up the two-point conversion attempt.

“On the road, I just wanted to go,” said KP head coach Brian Lee of the decision to go for two and the win. “I would have liked to have a timeout, get the right play call that we wanted there but in the end, we wanted to go for it, I’m just not sure we had what we wanted. We had to burn a lot of timeouts in the third quarter and that kind of put us in a bind down the stretch.”

While King Philip’s comeback attempt was impressive, Mansfield’s stretch to end the third quarter and begin the fourth was a complete game changer.

The Warriors opened the second half with a 14-7 lead and the ball. In typical fashion, KP marched down the field on 11-plays, moving into Mansfield territory and eating up over five minutes of clock.

But the Hornets got the stop they needed and forced a turnover on downs. Two plays into Mansfield’s ensuing drive, quarterback Aidan Sacco (seven rushes, 66 yards), kept the option play himself and scampered 42 yards. Two plays later, Cincere Gill took the jet sweep to the left side for a 7-yard touchdown, tying the game 14-14 after Michael DeBolt’s extra point (4/4 PAT).

“We felt like if we could score and tie it at home, we could get some momentum. We just had that run there where everything went right. Give [King Philip] credit, it looked like they were on the ropes and they battled back and found a way to get it to one play to win the game, and we made a good defensive play. These are two good football teams, I guarantee we’ll play again. I just hope its in the South final and not the first or second round.

King Philip tried to pass for a first down on its next series, but Mansfield’s Vinnie Holmes leaped into the air to snag an interception, giving the Hornets terrific field position. On Mansfield’s first place, Nick Marciano bounced off a tackle up the middle, cut out to the right, and then cut back past two defenders to give Mansfield a 21-14 on a 31-yard touchdown rush.

On the ensuing kickoff, Mansfield’s Sean Weber was able to knock the ball free, and junior Jack Cappelletti pounced. Two plays later, Sacco kept it himself and went for a 23-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.

“We talked about what we needed to fix at halftime, and we just came out in the second half and made plays,” Sacco said. “The defense stepped up and made plays, the offense had some big runs, and I think that helped us.

“We like to establish the run game early on, and we have the three backs. With those three, when the third and fourth quarters come around, they aren’t expecting me to pull it and run. We used it a couple of times and got a couple of breaks and capitalized on it.”

With 10:51 left in the game, Mansfield led 28-14.

“I think that stop [early in the second half] and then Aidan popped a big one,” Redding said of what turned things around. “Just getting it tied up, we were able to feed off that. We got another stop and got the momentum and the crowd behind us, and I think they had a turnover, and we were able to take advantage of.

“Just having that fourth running option makes a big difference. It’s hard to defend three good backs, but when you add the QB as the fourth, it can really complicate things defensively.”

For as entertaining as the second half was, neither team really settled in during the first half. Both teams opened with a punt, and then the Warriors capitalized on a bad snap on the second Hornet drive for great field position. Mansfield’s defense held strong, and KP settled for a 23-yard field goal from Cole Baker with 3:31 left in the opening quarter.

Mansfield didn’t wait long to respond. On the first play of the next drive, Marciano found some space up the middle, cut back and turned on the jets, racing for an 80-yard touchdown and a 7-3 advantage.

KP’s offense marched 66 yards on its third drive, using 10 plays – mostly on the back of junior running back Ryan Halliday (27 carries, 90 yards) – to get close to the Mansfield red zone. But a big tackle for loss from Philip Dinov, and a tipped pass from linebacker Chris Copponi forced the Warriors to settle for a 33-yard boot from Baker.

The Hornet offense sputtered for the rest of the first half, and a punt-turned-run fell well short of the sticks. KP made the Hornets pay as Jarest connected with a wide-open Nault for a 24-yard touchdown. KP converted the two-point conversion, but it was called back for a hold. The Warriors went for two again anyways, and the pass was incomplete.

Mansfield ended up going backward 10 yards on its next drive, pinned deep in its own territory. On fourth down, Sacco killed some clock out of the punt formation before taking an intentional safety, giving KP a 14-7 lead with 1:56 left in the half.

“I will say, the one thing that we’re doing decent right now, is that when we’re on the field, we compete,” Lee said. “We still make a lot of mistakes which is on me. I don’t think we’re overly talented but they compete, and they put themselves in a position to steal that game at the end. I think we can build on that because that was a tough team we played today.”

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Redding said he felt giving up the two points on the safety was a better option than a Baker field goal, or a KP touchdown.

“We felt like they had a lot of momentum and we felt like if we punted out of our end zone, they were going to get the ball at the 30 or 35-yard line, and at minimum, they bang a field goal,” Redding said. “If they score, now we’re in trouble. We felt like if we went down seven, it was still in reach. Thank god the defense stopped them after the kick, or you really look like an idiot there. But we got it to seven and then got the stop and survived it. It just felt like we couldn’t get out of that end of the field.”

Mansfield football (3-1 overall, 2-0 Kelley-Rex) takes sole possession of first place in the Kelley-Rex with the win. The Hornets are back in action when they travel to Taunton (3-1, 1-1). King Philip (2-2, 1-1) will try to bounce back when it welcome Thanksgiving Day rival Franklin (3-1, 1-1) to Macktaz Field.

Special Teams, Field Position Help KP Beat Foxboro

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King Philip junior Ryan Halliday carries the ball against Foxboro in the third quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
WRENTHAM, Mass. – As King Philip’s new offense tries to get up, it’s going to need some help.

On Friday night, that help came in the form of special teams.

The Warriors leaned on a pair of good punt returns and their own punting game to win the field position battle, and as a result, a 17-0 verdict over visiting Foxboro.

Three of King Philip’s seven drives started in Foxboro territory, and all three resulted in points. The other four resulted in three punts and the end of the game.

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“I was very happy with special teams, it really kept us in the game,” said King Philip head coach Brian Lee, who earned his 100th career victory. “But we have a lot of things we have to figure out still.”

King Philip’s defense had another strong showing after allowing just 14 points in the season-opening loss to North Attleboro. A sack from David Morganelli put a quick end to Foxboro’s first series.

A 23-yard punt return from Tim Nault gave King Philip’s offense a strong start, first down at the Foxboro 36-yard line. The Warriors got one first down on a Jack Webster run up the middle, but a tackle for loss from Foxboro’s Anton George and Will Ogbebor put the hosts in a hole.

KP quarterback Robbie Jarest (5-for-7, 32 yards) hit Morganelli (four catches, 35 yards) for an 11-yard gain but it was just short of the sticks. Junior Cole Baker drilled a 35-yard field goal to put the host Warriors ahead 3-0 with 4:05 left in the opening quarter.

King Philip’s defense stymied the Foxboro offense again during the second series, including a sack from Webster. This time the punt was hauled in by Aidan Bender just over midfield, and he raced it 35 yards back to the Foxboro 28-yard line.

Despite facing a 4th and 8, Jarest linked up with Morganelli for 11 yards to move the sticks. An offensive pass interference call moved the ball back at the end of the first quarter, but KP had an eight-yard scamper from Ryan Halliday (23 carries, 98 yards) and five more yards from Webster.

On 3rd and 7, Jarest rolled out right and hit Morganelli, who dove down to the 1-yard line. On the next play, Halliday went up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown and a 10-0 lead with 9:09 to play in the first half.

“Two bad punt coverages hurt us in the first half,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “It gave them great field position. We gave them short fields two or three times…they earned them, and we’re not good enough to play that way. We have a great kicker (Russell Neale), but we haven’t gotten into range to use him.”

Foxboro responded with its best drive of the game, moving into King Philip territory. The Warriors ran 11 plays for 50 yards, highlighted by passes from Liam Foley (9-for-21, 84 yards) to Keyshawn Sanders (8 yards) and Brian Derba (5 yards). Foley hit Shayne Kerrigan over the middle for 20 yards to convert a third down.

A 15-yard scramble from Foley gave Foxboro the ball at the King Philip 30-yard line but three plays later, King Philip’s Deric Casado tipped a pass and then came down with the interception to end Foxboro’s threat.

Baker punted for KP when its drive stalled, booting to the Foxboro 30-yard line. With a long field to go, Foxboro’s drive ended near midfield when time ran out on the first half.

Foxboro’s defense started the second half on a high note, forcing a punt. Again, Baker booted it to the Foxboro 30-yard line. Although Foley hit Pat Stapleton for 16 yards on the first play, a sack from Morganelli three plays later halted the drive.

Although Foxboro’s defense came up with a stop, KP continued to win the field position with another strong punt from Baker (47 yards). King Philip’s defense pushed the visiting Warriors back even further with losses of six and three yards on the first two plays.

On fourth down, Foxboro’s punt sailed out of bounds at its 36-yard line. Once again, King Philip cashed in on good field position.

This time the host Warriors ran seven plays to cover 36 yards, capped by a 3-yard touchdown from Halliday, who had gallops of 12 and nine on the drive. Baker’s extra point put KP up 17-0 with 9:13 to play.

“In the second half, when we were struggling on offense, to flip the field on the big punt from Baker was huge,” Lee said. “Punting and those two punt returns…short field allows you to be patient. It puts the defense in a bind right away. ”

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After giving up just 14 points last week, King Philip’s defense had another strong outing. Foxboro had just 92 yards of offense and KP recorded four sacks and one interception.

“We felt good about our defense, and we’re going to lean on them to get us going. We’ll play the field position and go from there. I’m very pleased with the defense. We don’t have a superstar this year. There’s no Shane [Frommer], no Mark Glebus, so we all have to chip in, we all have to contribute.”

Foxboro (0-2) will try to break into the win column when it plays Stoughton (1-1) at Canton High School.

Rocketeers Edge King Philip in Season-Opening Thriller

North Attleboro football
North senior Brendan McHugh (29) scored a pair of touchdowns, including one with 1:33 left in the game to lift the Rocketeers to a 14-7 win.

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – One team came into the game having won three straight league titles, making a Super Bowl appearance, and was inaugurating a new turf field, while the other team came in after back-to-back league and state titles and was riding a 25-game win streak. These were the two most successful programs in the Hockomock League over the last two seasons.

It was a game that was destined to come down to one play; to be decided by inches. That was exactly what happened.

Brendan McHugh broke a few tackles and tiptoed down the sideline to put North Attleboro in front for good with 1:33 remaining in the fourth quarter but King Philip drove inside the Rocketeers red zone and had two shots at the end zone before a last second pass was broken up at the goal line. North held on for the 14-7 victory to christen the newly-upgraded Raymond E. Beaupre Field and hand KP its first defeat since the penultimate game of 2015.

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“I have no idea what happened,” McHugh admitted when asked about the game-winning touchdown. “I was staring at the ground and I thought I was going to fall, but I just stayed on my feet and just got to the end zone. I was close but I wasn’t out of bounds.”

When asked what this win meant for the team, he replied, “My senior year, we wanted to get them and we got them. So much confidence, that’s a hell of a team, that defense is legit and we grinded out a win.”

It was a battle of attrition, which both coaches had expected coming into the game. Both defenses were in control and both offense were finding their feet with a number of new faces. In the end, both coaches saw the positive from facing tough competition to kick off a new season.

“They came to play today against a very, very good team,” said KP coach Brian Lee. He joked, “I don’t know why we thought of playing them instead of scheduling someone easy a long time ago, but the truth is we learned so much about our team tonight. Playing a team like that in these conditions, they grew up fast tonight.”

North coach Don Johnson added, “We had to earn it. We had to work hard and earn it on both sides of the football. I think it’s a good confidence booster for those guys who are playing in their first game tonight.”

North took the lead just before the end of the first quarter with an eight-play, 67-yard drive. Senior quarterback Nick Raneri got the Rocketeers going with a 34-yard keeper that moved the ball down to the KP 29. Three plays later, Raneri barely eked out two yards on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Two plays after that, McHugh took a jet sweep to the right side of the line and was untouched for a 16-yard score.

The Rocketeers scored with 19 seconds left in the first. The Warriors scored 19 seconds later. Junior tailback Ryan Halliday (22 carries, 181 yards) bounced back from a fumble on his first carry of the game, bursting through the left side of the line, keeping his feet despite a diving attempt at a tackle by Luke LaBonte, and racing 80 yards for the tying score.

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KP tried to keep the momentum going when senior corner Deric Casado made a highlight-reel, one-handed interception right in front of his bench, but the North defense was just as strong, forcing a three and out.

The game stayed tied coming out of halftime. KP started the half by continuing to put the ball into the hands of its new workhorse back, running Halliday into the North defensive line that was led by senior Ryan Clemente and junior Trevor Hewett.

North finally managed a long drive against the KP defense at the end of the third quarter with Raneri narrowly missing Ethan Friberg in the end zone after the junior got free down the seam.

“We felt pretty confident on that one and I think Raneri saw him so wide open that he just didn’t get enough on the football,” Johnson said of the missed opportunity. “He lofted it instead of just putting it on his hands and it seemed to take forever to come down.”

On the first play of the fourth quarter, freshman kicker Tyler DeMattio missed a 32-yard kick wide left and the game remained even.

KP’s next drive stalled at its own 46 after a holding call on third down. Cole Baker’s punt drove Ryan Gaumond back to his own 10, but the North senior scrapped for 24 yards on the return to give North at least a little cushion with which to start the drive.

After working a first down near midfield, North turned to McHugh (16 carries, 95 yards) again. The senior went for six yards to the right and then broke a sweep to the left for 14 yards down to the KP 33. After a timeout, McHugh took the ball around the left side in front of his own bench and the Warriors appeared to have him wrapped up only to stop thinking he had gone out of bounds. McHugh kept going, inches from the sideline for the go-ahead score.

“He’s that kind of guy,” Johnson said of McHugh. “He doesn’t even know he’s doing it half the time but he’s a threat to break anything at any time so there are times we say just give it to McHugh because he can create so much on his own.”

The Warriors took advantage of a new rule on the ensuing kickoff, calling a fair catch inside the 10 and automatically getting the ball at the 25. Junior Robbie Jarest rolled out to the far side and hit David Morganelli for 12 yards. Andy DeMattio nearly had a game-ending interception but could not hold on and the drive extended on a pass interference call on third down.

A 10-yard screen pass to Casado was followed by a 21-yard pass to Morganelli and suddenly KP was down to the North 17-yard-line with and the clock was stopped with eight seconds remaining. A false start backed KP up five yards, but Jarest just missed Morganelli in the back of the end zone on second down.

As the final horn sounded, the last gasp pass was picked off by Matt Penta at the goal line to seal the North win.

“I told them the second series is going to be better for you than the first and the third series will be better and the fourth and you settle down and confidence grows,” Lee said about what his team learned from that final drive regardless of whether or not it ended in a score. “They definitely believed they were going to win it at the end.”

North Attleboro (1-0) will be back on the Beaupre Field turf next week when it hosts rival Bishop Feehan. King Philip (0-1) will play another Davenport division team next Friday in its home opener, as Foxboro travels to Macktaz Field.

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2017 HockomockSports.com Football Awards

Unlikely Duo Lifts King Philip To Second Straight Crown

Cole Baker
King Philip sophomore Cole Baker (37) was all smiles after kicking the game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 

FOXBORO, Mass. – One player got a rare chance at redemption in a championship game. The other didn’t even expect to play a single snap.

But in the end, King Philip sophomores Cole Baker and Robert Jarest will forever be remembered for helping the Warriors earn their 25th consecutive win, and more importantly a second straight MIAA State Championship.

Baker isn’t a complete stranger to those who follow the Hockomock League. Despite playing football for the first time last year, he quickly earned the starting kicking job and successfully booted three point after attempts a year ago at Gillette Stadium in KP’s first state title win.

Jarest, the team’s backup quarterback, is more known in the JV circles, though that certainly changed Friday night. He played in two games this season, taking snaps in a blowout win over Oliver Ames, and then just over a week ago on Thanksgiving when the Warriors had the game in hand against Franklin.

Before we get too far, it’s important to note that both had help in making their mark on the game. Senior running back and safety Shane Frommer was a force on both sides of the ball. He ran for over 100 yards, scored KP’s lone touchdown, and played lockdown defense – all through a hip pointer.

And KP’s offensive and defensive lines did their parts, while Andrew Dittrich anchored a secondary that limited L-S well below its average scoring total. And of course Jack Webster’s strip sack highlighted the strong play of the linebackers.

But there was just something special about the roles that Baker and Jarest played.

Jarest had no intention of playing on Friday night. Senior quarterback Brendan Lydon, who never lost as a starter as a freshman, on the JV team, and the past two years on varsity, hasn’t missed any significant time in his career. But when Lydon scrambled for a key first down early in the second half and was hurt in the process, suddenly Jarest was thrust in the spotlight.

“[Lydon] is a tough kid, I didn’t expect him to get hurt, but he went down, and I just tried to do what the coaches asked me to do,” Jarest said.

The nerves showed on the first snap under center, as he bobbled the ball and briefly lost it, but the Warriors recovered. His second snap, and all of the ones following that, came naturally. He handed the ball off to Shane Frommer plenty of times the rest of the way, but just two plays into his Super Bowl debut, he was faced with third and long.

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The nerves were quickly gone as Jarest took the snap, dropped back and heaved a perfectly weighted ball down the left sideline, connecting with senior Thomas Madden for 37-yards and a first down. And more importantly, the play gave life to a KP offense that had been limited to just 52 yards in the first half.

“It was unbelievable to have that kid step in like that,” KP head coach Brian Lee admitted. “And he comes in and throws the freaking ball like that, are you kidding me? Unbelievable.”

“Once I saw him get open, I just threw it up there and he went and got it, he made a great catch,” Jarest said.

Though Jarest didn’t have to throw the rest of the game, he handled his job like a seasoned vet. No more fumbled snaps, no plays gone wrong, no delay of games, and most importantly, no turnovers.

After KP’s defense continued its strong second half play, KP’s offense marched into L-S territory throughout the end of the third quarter and first four minutes of the final frame. With Frommer leading the way, KP almost reached the red zone before running into a fourth down.

That’s where Cole Baker enters.

Baker was one of the top kickers again this year, with a high success rate on extra points, and even kicked a game-winning field goal earlier this season against Franklin. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when KP head coach Brian Lee sent him out for a 39-yard attempt, in a tie game, just before the midway point of the final quarter.

Unfortunately, the kick sailed just wide to the left. If the game had been played at Macktaz Field, or any Hockomock venue, or any high school football field, it likely would have been good. But at Gillette Stadium, the state finals are played with NFL hash marks and much more narrow field goal posts.

“It bothers me some when I miss but you just have to let it go and come back and be ready for the next one,” Baker said.

Little did Baker know, his next chance would come just minutes later. Webster came flying in from the blind side and came up with the strip sack, with Evan Rice falling on the loose ball. A heavy dose of Frommer got the Warriors closer, but on fourth and eight, Lee didn’t think too long about what he wanted to do.

“I thought of taking a look to Thomas Madden on the outside, because Robert can throw a pretty good fade and that’s what got us down there before, but in the end I just didn’t want to put undue pressure on that kid coming in like he did, and I knew that Cole, had that kick in him, and I was more confident in going with Cole at that point,” Lee said about his decision to kick the field goal late in the game.

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“Me and Rob are good friends, he came over and said it’s up to you,” Baker said. “Coach Lee said “We trust you on this one.” I was a little nervous but when we went out onto the field, I was just ready to go.”

Baker split the uprights perfectly with plenty of distance on his 31-yard field goal attempt with just 1:36 to play.

“It was awesome, I knew as soon as I hit the ball it was good. I just turned to my teammates and I was just screaming,” Baker said.

“This was pretty cool, Cole is a great kicker and we’re good friends,” Jarest said. “And I didn’t expect to come into this game so it’s kind of unreal right now this feeling.”

“We’re both back next year, and we want to get here again.”

King Philip Shuts Down L-S To Earn D2 Super Bowl Title

King Philip football
King Philip’s Shane Frommer gets past a Lincoln-Sudbury defender in the second half of the D2 Super Bowl. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter

FOXBORO, Mass. – All season long, whenever it needed a stop, the King Philip Warriors defense had the answer.

In the MIAA Division 2 State Championship game Friday night at Gillette Stadium, that held true once again.

With 5:03 left to play and the game tied 7-7, KP linebacker Jack Webster hit Lincoln-Sudbury quarterback Braden O’Connell from the blind side and forced the ball loose with KP senior Evan Rice falling on the loose ball.

KP took over on the Lincoln-Sudbury 27-yard line, and moved the ball up to the L-S 13 to set up Cole Baker for a 31-yard field goal, which the sophomore drilled through the uprights with 1:36 to go, giving the Warriors a 10-7 and King Philip it’s 25th straight victory.

On the first play of Lincoln-Sudbury’s ensuing possession, Max Armour sacked O’Connell, and three incompletions later, King Philip clinched its second consecutive state championship.

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“I knew when we got that strip sack that we were going to win it,” King Philip head coach Brian Lee said. “I knew right then it was over.”

On KP’s first drive of the second half, starting quarter Brendan Lydon scrambled to his right and picked up the first down. However, Lydon got rolled up on and suffered a leg injury and was forcing to the sideline, meaning sophomore backup Robert Jarest had to take over under center.

“I really did not expect to play today,” Jarest said. “[Lydon] is a tough kid, I didn’t expect him to get hurt, but he went down, and I tried to do what the coaches asked me to do.”

On Jarest’s first play under center, he fumbled the snap.

“I would say there were some jitters there, I pulled it a little early,” Jarest added

After a Shane Frommer run, KP was facing a third and eight backed up in their own territory. The Warriors’ coaching staff showed their faith as Jarest connected with Thomas Madden down the sideline for a 38 yard gain that put KP on the L-S 23 yard line. Frommer (23 carries, 107 yards, TD) did the rest, as three carries later KP was in the end zone and the game was tied up at 7-7.

After KP forced a stop on the ensuing L-S possession, largely thanks to some key plays by cornerback Andrew Dittrich, the Warriors gave Frommer the keys to the offense once again, as he ran for 30 yards on the next KP drive to get them in field goal range. Cole Baker’s 39 yard field goal attempt had the distance, but it was just wide left.

On the next L-S possession, Jack Webster forced the strip sack that changed the momentum of the game.

“I was just going for the sack, and my head peeked over the shoulder and I just swatted at the ball, and got a hold of it,” Webster said about the game-changing play.

KP killed clock on their next possession by giving it to Frommer, who kept the ball moving and was able to pick up 14 yards. Baker came back in and drilled a 31-yard attempt to give KP a 10-7 lead.

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“I thought of taking a look to Thomas Madden on the outside, because Robert can throw a pretty good fade and that’s what got us down there before, but in the end I just didn’t want to put undue pressure on that kid coming in like he did, and I knew that Cole, had that kick in him, and I was more confident in going with Cole at that point,” Lee said about his decision to kick the field goal late in the game.

“Keep it simple, give it to Shane, let him get a first down, and run out the clock, and we did that, and Cole hit a great field goal,” Jarest added about KP’s strategy after forcing the turnover.

Lincoln-Sudbury opened the game in impressive fashion. After getting stuffed on two straight run plays to open the game, O’Connell completed a pass on third down to move the chains. From there, it was a slow grind as the Warriors methodically moved upfield, eventually taking a 7-0 lead on an 18-yard pass from O’Connell to Matthew Cunningham. The drive took 7:35 off the clock.

King Philip was limited to just 52 yards of offense on limited played in the first half thanks to Lincoln-Sudbury’s offense eating up a majority of the clock.

But in the second half, King Philip’s defense pitched a shutout. It marked the seventh time in 12 games that the Warriors didn’t allow any points in the second half. The five teams who have scored against KP in the second half this year did not score more than once, and three of them did it in the first three weeks of the season.

Even more impressive is that KP held the opposing Warriors to just seven points, which is over 30 points less than what previously unbeaten Lincoln-Sudbury averaged coming into the contest.

King Philip football (12-0) once again completes an undefeated season, and they’ve won 25 straight games dating back to Thanksgiving 2015 against Franklin. The Warriors beat Barnstable, Mansfield, and Bridgewater-Raynham en route to their second straight state title.

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KP Wins Rematch With Mansfield, Advances to Final

King Philip football
King Philip senior Shane Frommer (25) scored a pair of touchdowns to lead the Warriors to a narrow victory over rival Mansfield and into the Warriors third sectional final in the past four seasons. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – Over the course of its 21-game win streak, King Philip has found a number of ways to come out on top, particularly in close games. Whether it is a big passing play, breaking a long run, or forcing an important turnover, the Warriors know how to grind out results week after week.

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There was a lot of turnover from last season’s state title-winning roster and head coach Brian Lee has admitted that he was not sure how good the Warriors could be this fall, but the new faces have stepped right in where the previous team left off and continued to win.

On Friday night at Macktaz Field, KP extended its winning streak by another game, pulling out a 13-11 win against rival Mansfield, beating the Hornets for a second time this season and advancing to the Div. 2 South final. This is the third sectional final in the past four years for the Warriors.

Lee explained, “The kids just battle. They’re tough. They’re not much to look at but they battle and compete. I didn’t know if we’d be any good this year and somehow we’re here again.”

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are just laid back and chill and they know when to perform,” said junior linebacker Jack Webster. “They perform at the right times. We’ve got good confidence on the team. We’re just calm, cool, and collected and we just play team ball.”

After pulling away with a strong fourth quarter in the first meeting between the two teams, KP carried the momentum into this game.

The Warriors called for a reverse on the opening kick-off and Shane Frommer took it up the sidelines for 42 yards to start near midfield. Brendan Lydon (5-14, 69 yards) hit David Morganelli for 16 yards and then Frommer for 21 to get the ball into Mansfield territory. Three plays later, Frommer (24 carries, 110 yards) bounced a run to the outside for six-yard score.

“We score the first drive, everyone’s smiling, and I was like, ‘Remember, it’s going to be a long game,’ “ said Lee. He added, “I told them before the game, ‘I don’t know how it’s going to play. I don’t know what they’re going to do different this time. All I know is that it’s going to take the entire game.’”

After a three-and-out by the Hornets, Aidan Bender’s return gave the Warriors great starting field position at midfield. The Mansfield coaches were imploring the defense to come through with a big stop and that is exactly what the Hornets got, forcing three-and-outs on back-to-back KP possessions to settle the game down.

The first meeting changed on a first half interception and it looked like Friday’s game might too. Lydon was flushed out of the pocket by Nick Marciano and his pass was picked off by Hunter Ferreira, who returned the ball down to the Warriors eight and gave the visitors momentum. Three plays later, Damani Scott (5-15, 55 yards) punched it in from the half-yard-line.

The Hornets surprised KP by running a trick play rather than an extra point with Ferreira pitching it to Mike DeBolt for the conversion and an 8-7 lead.

The excitement on the Mansfield sideline was short-lived, as the Warriors returned the ensuing kick out to the 45 for another great starting spot. As usual, KP turned to Frommer and the Yale University-commit carried the ball five times for 42 yards on the drive, including his second touchdown of the game, this time from 10 yards out.

The Hornets had gone practically nowhere on offense to this point, but with 3:25 left in the half and starting at their own 23 Mansfield put together its best drive of the game. Scott hit Danny DeGirolamo for a 14-yard completion and Khristian Conner for eight yards, while sophomore Vinnie Holmes (17 carries, 89 yards) gave the Hornets a threat up the middle. Mansfield got the ball to the KP 16 and DeBolt nailed a 33-yard field goal with 8.4 on the clock to cut the lead to two.

Deric Casado had an interception to start the second half for KP, but the Warriors were held to one first down, Chris Graham making a big stop on Frommer on second down. Mansfield’s next drive got on the edge of field goal range but Evan Rice had a big third down sack that forced a Hornets punt. It was one of three second half sacks for the Warriors, who ratcheted up the pass rush in the second half.

“The coaches just made up a great defensive plan this week,” said Webster. “We knew what we’re doing and we attacked it.”

Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “We played tough on Frommer, they did a great job on our run game, and we just needed to complete a few more passes. They’re as good a team as we play defensively every year, they make you work.”

The punt pinned KP down inside its own 10, but Webster managed three yards on third and three for a big first down then Lydon hit Morganelli for another third down conversion and Frommer picked up another with a nine-yard dive up the middle. The Warriors managed to get as far as midfield to switch the field position advantage.

“They got a lot of big first downs,” said Redding. “The Lydon kid hit a couple of outs, great throws on time. Field position was a killer. We always started in our end and gave them the ball at midfield way too much.”

The game seemed to be over when Makhi Baskin muffed a punt with about four minutes remaining, but again the Hornets held firm defensively with Conner making a big stop on Frommer on the sideline and Baskin redeeming himself with an interception at the goal line on fourth down.

Mansfield had one more shot. After a sack by Webster pushed the Hornets back five yards to their own 24, Scott hit Ferreira for his only catch of the game and the senior appeared to be out to the 40 for a first down. After some confusion, the officials marked him down at the 38, one yard short of the marker.

“I thought we completed the pass for 20 yards on [third down], someone’s got to explain that to me, but even with that I don’t know if we’ve got the time to get the field goal,” said Redding. “You just hate to see that in a big game, that kind of mismanaging of the stakes.”

On fourth down, Holmes tried to fight his way to the sticks but Webster was on the spot, as he had been all game, to make the stop that sealed the win.

“Fourth and one, I was daggering off the outside,” Webster explained, “and Jack Piller made a great play and everyone just collapsed on him and pushed him back. It was a great team effort.”

When asked what has made this KP roster continue to find ways to win, Webster said, “Shane Frommer and Andrew Dittrich, our two captains, have just made us play together, play great team ball, everyone’s made plays when we’ve had to…it’s just been a good team game.”

The respect for the Mansfield program and all that it has achieved is evident on the KP sidelines and Lee said that the strength of the Warriors’ rivals has pushed them to be even better.

“You know why I love Mansfield so much,” he said, “because they have made this program work so hard to compete against that and that’s how we’ve gotten better. You’re either getting crushed by them or you learn how to fight and our guys have responded.”

King Philip (9-0, 5-0), the top seed in Div. 2 South, advances to the sectional final and will host No. 3 Bridgewater-Raynham next Friday night. Mansfield (7-2, 4-1) has not set an opponent for next week.

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