Franklin Holds Off KP To Clinch Kelley-Rex Crown

Franklin senior Shane Kindred hauls in a one-handed grab against King Philip on Thanksgiving. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 FRANKLIN, Mass. — Before the main course of turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, the Franklin football team helped themselves to an early serving of stuffing.

Franklin senior Jack Marino denied King Philip on a 4th and 1 situation just beyond midfield with two minutes left in the game to help the Panthers secure a 27-20 win over the Warriors in the 61st Thanksgiving clash between the two teams.

With the win, Franklin clinches its first-ever Hockomock League Kelley-Rex division title and first league crown since 2009. It also snaps a 10-game Thanksgiving skid and an 18-game overall streak to the Warriors, their first win over KP since the same year they won their last title.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“It’s incredibly satisfying, and I’m obviously proud as the coach but I’m just happy for the kids and the town,” said Franklin head coach Eian Bain. “The last couple of years, this game has been good and there’s been some close ones and not so close ones. Eventually, these are games we have to win to move our program forward.

“This is a step in the right direction, and hopefully, our young kids realize what they can do if they keep working. But as awesome as this is, I hope they realize this took a lot of work from a lot of young men. I’m just really happy for the kids to see that hard work pay off today.”

The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, the latter — plus a two-point conversion — had the hosts ahead 27-20 going into the final quarter of play.

The Warriors were marching into Franklin territory as the final minutes ticked off the clock. KP punted on its second drive of the second half and then fumbled in Panther territory on its previous drive.

A heavy dose of junior Rudy Gately (24 carries, 162 yards) and Crawford Cantave (14 carries, 72 yards) had the Warriors over midfield, but Will Astorino’s third down run was stopped a yard shy of the marker on a tackle from Luke Davis and Cullen Pek.

On fourth down, Marino came flying through the offensive line and met Gately in the backfield for a loss of yards and a turnover on downs.

Mack Gulla (16 carries, 109 yards) ran for back-to-back first downs and the Panthers ran the clock out to secure their first win in the series in over a decade.

“Me and [Nick Quintina], we knew it was going to be either me or him that had to make the play, we needed to make a play and make a tackle,” Marino said. “Rudy is a hard runner, I’m good friends with him but I was able to get through the gap and he was there for me to make the play.

“It’s great to get this win…the rivalry between Franklin and KP has always been there all the way back to Pop Warner. They’ve had our number for a decade or so, but it’s great to get the last one, especially for the seniors.”

“Jack is one of the savviest athletes out there,” Bain said. “Coach [Zach] Brown would say the same thing with baseball…looking back at any big win, there’s a moment when Jack Marino turned the tide.”

While it was the perfect end for Franklin, it was far from the perfect start.

King Philip’s defense forced a quick three-and-out and its offense needed little time to find the end zone. Gately broke free up the middle for 64 yards and three plays later, senior quarterback Charlie Grant (4/9, 84 yards) went play action and hit classmate Drew Danson in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

Things went from bad to worse for the Panthers as they fumbled on their first carry of the ensuing drive and KP pounced on the loose ball, taking over in Franklin territory.

The Warriors needed just four plays again, helped along by a 33-yard pass and catch from Grant to Danny Clancy down the right sideline down to the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Grant kept it himself on the sneak and Matthew Kelley booted the point after for a 14-0 lead with 5:55 left in the first quarter.

“You’re up 14-0 and you keep trying to tell the kids it’s not going to last,” KP head coach Brian Lee said. “You want to try and jump on them as much as possible early. I think if we had maybe one more there…but it just comes back to the little things.

“The quick reaction is jeez, we made a lot of mistakes but how much of that is from the pressure [Franklin] was bringing on us? It makes you a little antsy, jump offside, lineup wrong, just little things like that…you like to think it’s us self-destructing but I think it’s the pressure they put on us. That’s what happens playing against a very good team.”

Franklin had to punt on its third drive but the Panther defense delivered a big stop, cooling some of KP’s momentum.

After a first down run from Gulla, Bain dipped into his bag of tricks and the Panthers executed a perfect flea flicker. Gulla took the handoff but tossed it back to Jared Arone (11/17, 231 yards, 3 TD) and he hit Shane Kindred (5 catches, 159 yards, 3 TD) in stride for an 85-yard touchdown with just over a minute left in the first. Sean King blocked the point after for KP but Franklin was on the board, down 14-6.

Helped by a holding call, KP’s offense went backward on its next series. A third-down pooch punt didn’t travel as far as the Warriors’ hoped and Franklin took over at the KP 45-yard line with 9:19 left in the second.

Arone broke free from a facemask hold and weaved his way to a 45-yard score, only for a block in the back to offset the penalties and nullify the play. But the Panthers’ offense carried on as Arone hit Will Deschenes to convert a fourth down and on the next play, Arone hit Kindred up the left hash for a 17-yard touchdown, making it 14-13 after Garrett Portesi’s extra point.

A false start and a tackle for loss from Marino stalled KP’s next drive, and a sack from Jay Gulla ended it as the Warriors had to punt it back.

Franklin’s offense capitalized on the momentum as Arone hit Kindred to convert an early third down, and the duo hooked up two plays later on the right side and Kindred managed to stay inbounds, racing up the right sideline and diving into the end zone. Hunter Hastings blocked another point after attempt but the Panthers had a 19-14 lead at halftime.

“I think we’ve been in that situation a couple of times, and even though you might get your confidence rattled a little bit, we’re still a pretty good football team,” Bain said of facing an early deficit. “And as long as we kept believing, I think the biggest thing was just having our kids settle down. You want them to play with emotion but they had to settle down and once we hit the big play to Shane at the end of the first quarter, and then we got a stop that we needed and we settled in.

“KP did an awesome job, they’re going to Gillette for a reason. Kind of like last week, we knew they’d score points and make big plays, we just had to take it one series at a time. You can’t hit fast forward to the fourth quarter and the game is over, we had to work for it and earn it.”

KP opened the second half in typical Warrior style: a 9-play, 70-yard march down the field to retake the lead. Gately and Cantave alternated carries, and Grant hit Gately for 25 yards out of the backfield on a third and long. Cantave capped the drive by backing his way across the goal line for a 6-yard touchdown.

The two-point pass was broken up in the corner of the end zone by Franklin’s Devine Johnson.

Franklin went three-and-out on its first drive of the second half after a pass break up on third by KP’s Kelley. But the Panthers’ defense bounced back and stuffed the Warriors, who went for it on 4th down from the Franklin 32-yard line.

“I think it was good to get back to our identity and our reality,” Bain said of the defense. “Certainly, Springfield Central can take anyone out of their comfort zone and King Philip does it in a totally different way, and that’s hard. It’s hard to keep getting hit in the mouth and then you’re down 14. You have to ask yourself, do I want to keep getting hit in the face over and over and over again. Our guys didn’t back down…it was hard, and they’ll be sore tomorrow but they kept answering the bell time and time again, getting off the mat. In the fourth quarter, they made a couple of plays that were key to winning the game.”

Gulla made a nice catch on the left sideline for 19 yards to move the sticks and then bulldozed his way for 10 yards on the ground and another first down. Four plays later, he ran up the middle for a 5-yard touchdown.

On the two-point try, Arone went to the right on the bootleg but didn’t have anyone open so he raced back to the left and into the end zone for a successful conversion and a 27-20 lead.

“I don’t want to think if we did lose, but I think they still would have had a great career but I think this was needed for them,” Bain said of his senior class. “I think a couple of classes before them, I think they feel a part of this too but this group pushed us over the hump. Everyone got screwed out of a normal experience last year but to bounce back and to have this, for this to be their last high school football memory, it couldn’t be more fitting for this group of kids.

It was the first time in nearly a decade that Thanksgiving games counted towards division titles in the Hockomock League. With the new rating system, the league elected to have Thanksgiving count as a league game with holiday rivals only playing once in the season, rather than twice as they had for the past eight years.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

King Philip still has one game left as the Warriors are headed to Gillette Stadium to play Catholic Memorial in the Division 2 State Championship game. But the Warriors weren’t focused on next week just yet. KP played all of its starters.

“We were focused on this game…you have to respect their seniors, that’s a great team and they want to know they beat us with our guys,” Lee said. “They deserve that shot, that opportunity after the season they’ve had. And we wanted our guys to have a shot at the league title. Yeah, we’re going to the Super Bowl but who knows what’s going to happen? We’re playing against an absolute animal of a team. But with a chance at the Hock title, we wanted to try and go get it.”

Franklin finishes the season at 10-1 and a perfect 5-0 in Kelley-Rex division play. King Philip enters its showdown with CM next week at 9-2.

Joseph, King Philip Deny Mansfield For Final Four Berth

King Philip football
King Philip captains celebrate with their D2 State Final Four trophy after beating Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 WRENTHAM, Mass. — King Philip senior Jonathan Joseph knew Friday night’s clash with rival Mansfield was going to be his final game played at Macktaz Field.

He wasn’t going to let it be a loss.

Joseph had a pair of fourth quarter interceptions that came on back-to-back drives inside the final five minutes to help #3 King Philip secure a 21-14 win over #6 Mansfield, the second time the Warriors beat the Hornets this season.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Despite the MIAA’s switch to a state-wide format, King Philip and Mansfield clashed for the fourth straight postseason. Since the 2017 season, the Warriors and Hornets have played a total of nine times with KP taking a 5-4 edge with the win on Friday night.

“You luck out and have a good game against them the first time and now we’re going to see them again and they’re going to be angry,” said

King Philip football

King Philip head coach Brian Lee. “If you kick a hornet’s nest, you know it’s going to come back at you. Mike [Redding] has been in too many big games, he always has his team ready.

“They were able to throw the ball and do some other things that they had trouble doing the first time, they were much improved and gave us everything we could handle. Right up to the end, blocking that field goal. It was a great battle but it would be nice to play someone else once in a while.”

King Philip football

King Philip scored on its first two drives of the game but then the offense stalled and the Warriors had four straight series spanning over the second, third, and fourth quarters all end in a punt. And it looked like another drive was in jeopardy as the Warriors were faced with 4th and 3 from the Mansfield 33-yard line.

The Warriors went for it on fourth down and senior quarterback Charlie Grant hit classmate Crawford Cantave along the right sideline for 30 yards. Two plays later, Rudy Gately (16 carries, 74 yards) burst up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown. Matthew Kelley’s third successful point after made it 21-14 with 4:32 to play.




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Mansfield went to the air on the first play of the ensuing drive and it looked like the pass would fall incomplete when it went over the receivers’ head, but Joseph made an incredible diving catch to haul in the interception and get the Warriors the ball back.

“When he walks by, he’s not that big, not much there to look at but he’s a great kid and a captain for us,” Lee said of Joseph, who is listed on the roster at 5’9, 170-pounds. “He’s all heart. He’s been coming along getting better and better, working on his confidence. In the spring season, we yanked him a couple of times but he came back and responded the right way, just working hard to make himself a captain.”

King Philip football

KP moved the ball behind carries by Gately and Will Astorino but on third down, Caden Colby and Ryan Sullivan stopped the Warriors in the backfield. On top of that, an unsportsmanlike dead ball foul put the Warriors into 4th and 21 from the 28-yard line, likely changing the play call from a field goal (with the line of scrimmage at the 13) to a pass play.

Mansfield was hit with a pass interference call to erase KP’s 15-yard penalty, and then too many men moved the ball five more yards, but the Warriors were still looking at 4th and 1 and Lee elected to send Kelley and the field goal unit out.

The Hornets blocked the field goal, with Jean getting through the line and a paw on the ball. It bounced all the way to the 34-yard line where Mansfield took over with 1:35 to play, but no timeouts.

Conner Zukowski (13/22, 172 yards) hit Ryan DeGirolamo for an 11-yard screen to get the visitors near midfield but two plays later, Joseph intercepted a pass over the middle and clinched the win for KP.

“I didn’t want my last game here to end with a loss, that’s all I was thinking about the whole game,” Joseph said. “I wanted that first one so bad, I wanted the game to be over there. On the second one, I was just thinking just do it again. I trusted all my teammates out there.

“It’s hard to beat a team twice, we had to prepare for this. This game was tough, we had some ups and downs throughout the game. But we were prepared. We play them twice almost every year, it always seems to come down to the playoffs with them.”

The majority of offensive fireworks came early with the Warriors entering the end zone on its first two drives and Mansfield scoring one of its two touchdowns on its second drive of the game — all coming within the first 15 minutes of the contest.




Mansfield lined up to go for it on fourth down on its first drive of the game but the snap came before Zukowski was ready and KP ended up with ideal starting position at the Hornets’ 22-yard line.

A chop block only delayed the Warriors as Cantave gained 15-yards on the next play and Gately pounded it in from a yard out two plays later for an early 7-0 lead.

The Hornets orchestrated an immediate response, going 80 yards on just seven plays to knot the score. Drew Sacco (15 carries, 70 yards) and CJ Bell (102 total yards offensively) moved the sticks on back-to-back runs, and Zukowski found Bell for 37 yards later in the drive to move into the red zone. Two plays later, Sacco plowed his way up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown, and James Gilleran’s point after made it 7-7 with 30 seconds left in the opening quarter.

King Philip football

Then it was KP’s chance to respond as the Warriors answered with an 80-yard drive of its own, taking eight plays to find the end zone. Grant and Gately each had first down runs early on and Cantave carried for nine yards to get over midfield. Three plays later, Grant found Danny Clancy in single coverage over the middle and dropped a 37-yard touchdown pass in stride to go back in front, 14-7.

The middle quarters belonged to the defense. Jean and James Fichera combined on a sack to put an end to a KP drive in Hornet territory, Mark DeGirolamo caused havoc on the line all night, and Caden Colby had a big tackle in the open field on another third down. For KP, Sean King and Hunter Hastings helped stuff the Mansfield run while Nathan Kearney, Jake Sullivan, Thomas Brewster, and Nick Viscusi continued to deny the Hornets.

“You’re playing in the toughest league and then you have to go through it twice,” Lee said about a second encounter with Mansfield, and next up Milford. “I know there are other great teams and it’s nice when you’re playing someone that hasn’t seen you. I knew this would be a battle, they know us way too well so you knew it was going to be the game it was.”

Mansfield finally put together another lengthy drive to find the end zone. The Hornets marched 74 yards on 11 plays to level the game late in the third quarter. Early runs from Sacco and Bell moved the sticks to get the offense in a rhythm, and sophomore Trevor Foley (five catches, 71 yards) went up and stole a pass from the defensive back to haul in a 32-yard pass.

Despite a total of three false starts on the drive, Mansfield found its way into the end zone, and on 2nd and goal from the 10-yard line, Zukowski found Foley open in the corner to make it 14-14 with 1:25 to play.

Mansfield forced a three and out on KP’s next drive but the Hornets coughed up a fumble on their first play. It was one of three fourth quarter turnovers for the visitors.

“A lot of shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “The snap in the first quarter hands them a touchdown, we lined up wrong on the fake punt and I thought we would have had great field position for a chance to take the lead. Then the turnovers in the second half killed us. We moved the ball pretty well but their secondary made some plays. I told them, it was a great effort, we played tough and so much better than the first game but we just continue to shoot ourselves in the foot at the worst time and in these games, it’s going to kill you.”

Mansfield’s defense stood tall after the fumble but its next drive stalled and after moving the sticks once, the Hornets had three incompletions and had to punt.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I’m glad someone from the Hockomock is going to Gillette, I don’t know who to root for,” Redding said. “We have a heck of a league, I’m betting North is going to be in the Final Four [in Division 3], Franklin [Division 1] is going, and Foxboro [Division 4] could go. And we have two in Division 2. We’ve lost four games but it’s to Franklin, KP twice, and Milford — all of them are top four teams, maybe top two in their divisions in the state. So we’ve lost games but to the highest level of competition so I’m proud of the way we’ve battled all year.”

King Philip football

King Philip (8-1) will now take on another Kelley-Rex division foe in Milford in the D2 State Semifinal, with the date, time, and a neutral location still to be announced. The Warriors handed the Hawks their first loss of the season in mid-October on a last-second field goal from Kelley.

“Milford is definitely feeling it, they got a big win over Natick,” Lee said. “Coach [Olson] has done a great job with that program, turned them around, and made them a contender right off the bat. So it’s on.”

Football: 2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview
King Philip could be the favorite to challenge Mansfield for the Kelley-Rex division title this season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2021 Kelley-Rex Football Preview

2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Attleboro

2020 Record: 1-5
Coach: Mike Strachan

Key/Returning Players: Ryan Betts, Sr., RB/LB; Keigan Conley, Sr., RB/LB; Christian Dame, Sr., TE/LB; Alvin Harrison, Sr., OL; Hayden Hegarty, Sr., TE/LB; Aiden Hochwarter, Jr., QB; Ethan Lako, Jr., RB/DB; Chris Leonardo, Sr., OL/DL; Isaiah Miranda, Jr., C; Kaiden Murray, Sr., RB/DB; Isaac Pereira, Sr., OL/DL; Anthony Salviati, Jr., WR/DB; Jacob Struminski, Sr., OL/DL; Freddy Wheaton, Sr., RB/LB;

Outlook:
Attleboro struggled on the offensive side of the ball last year, scoring only 44 points in six games and not scoring a touchdown until the fifth game of the season. The Bombardiers will need to improve on that side of the ball to try and move up the standings and challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex. With eight returning starters on both sides of the ball, Attleboro can rely on an experienced roster to try and turn things around this fall.

It will be obvious where Attleboro’s strength lies. The Bombardiers run 6’3 285, 6’3 255, 6’2 285, and 6’3 305 at the guard and tackle positions. They are going to try and overpower teams. The leader of that group is senior Chris Leonardo, who is a force on both sides of the ball. Seniors Alvin Harrison, Jacob Struminski, and Isaac Pereira are a formidable front and junior Isaiah Miranda will be back at center. Experience and size are important, but the Bombardiers will need its array of running backs to take advantage. Seniors Ryan Betts, Freddy Wheaton, Keigan Conley, and Kaiden Murray will all get the chance to carry the ball. Junior Aiden Hochwarter returns under center after taking over midway through last year and he will have classmate Anthony Salviati to throw to out wide and senior tight end Christian Dame.

The Attleboro defense will also rely on its strength up front with Leonardo and Harrison controlling the middle. The linebackers have plenty of experience, with Dame, Wheaton, Betts, Conley, and senior Hayden Hegarty all coming back after seeing significant time last year. The secondary has a lot of athleticism. Junior Ethan Lako, Salviati, and Murray are all capable of making big plays and forcing turnovers.
 
“It is great to have some normalcy back this fall,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have eight returning starters on each side of the ball this season and we have great senior leadership. We are looking to a great fall season.”










2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Franklin

2020 Record: 3-4
Coach: Eian Bain

2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Key/Returning Players: Jared Arone, Sr., QB; Shane Kindred, Sr., WR; Will Tracey, Sr., WR; Mack Gulla, Sr., RB; Ethan Aeillo, Sr., OL; Jack Porkorny, Sr., OL; Jonathan Martins, Sr., DL; Cullen Pek, Sr., LB; Joe Tirrell, Sr., DB; Luke Davis, Jr., DB.

Outlook:
All eyes are on Mansfield and King Philip as the favorites in the Kelley-Rex and that’s how coach Eian Bain likes it. The Panthers are certainly flying under the radar a bit but that might not last very long, especially after their success during the preseason has turned some heads.

Having a lot of familiar faces in key positions will be an early advantage for the Panthers, who have a strong non-league schedule that starts with Wachusett and features perennial state powerhouse Duxbury. Senior Jared Arone gained a lot of experience at quarterback during the Fall 2 season and could be poised for a big year with a full schedule on tap. Part of the reason why is because of all the weapons around him. Both Shane Kindred and Will Tracey developed a lot of chemistry with the QB in the abbreviated season and will be his main two targets this year.

And while the Panthers have developed a reputation for a pass-heavy offense, we saw a much more balanced approach during the spring and with senior running back Mack Gulla ready for a breakout season, it’s likely that balance continues. Gulla is a tough runner that will keep defenses honest; he isn’t just going to help set up the passing game, he’s a true threat to run all over defenses. It will all start up front and the Panthers have center Ethan Aeillo and tackle Jack Porkorny back in starting roles.

Senior Joe Tirrell and junior Luke Davis give the Panthers a veteran presence in the secondary. Franklin allowed over 20 points per game last season but will be looking to bring that number down some this year as they try and establish themselves as a contender in the division. Senior Jonathan Martins impressed last season and will be a key piece on the defensive line while the linebackers will be anchored by senior Cullen Pek.

“The Panthers return many familiar faces but face a tough task of replacing some key positions,” Bain said. “Many players have stepped up but there is still a lot to be answered before the home opener against Wachusett.”




2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

King Philip

2020 Record: 4-3
Coach: Brian Lee

Key/Returning Players: Charlie Grant, Sr., QB/DB; Crawford Cantave, Sr., RB/DB; Nick Viscusi, Sr., WR/DB; Jonathan Joseph, Sr., WR/DB; Hunter Hastings, Sr., OL/DL; Chris Sesay, Jr., OL/DL; Rudy Gately, Jr., RB/LB; Danny Clancy, Sr., WR/DL; Matthew Kelley, Jr., K.

Outlook:
King Philip has a strong core of returning players set to compete for the Kelley-Rex crown this Fall season but the Warriors are hoping to develop some depth along the way as they navigate through one of the state’s toughest schedules.

KP is still hurting from the Fall 2 season, when they lost six players to season-ending surgery, four of which were starters. With a quick turnaround to this season, the Warriors will still be without those players but there is still lots of excitement around those who will be on the field this year. Senior Charlie Grant returns as the starter at quarterback and has some weapons to utilize around them, starting with receivers Danny Clancy, Nick Viscusi, and Jonathan Joseph. All three have varsity experience and are seniors. Junior Rudy Gately and senior Crawford Cantave give the Warriors a thunder and lightning running back combination. Senior Drew Danson was set to be one of the top tight ends in the league but is out due to injury. Sophomore Thomas McLeish will also be in the mix to play at quarterback and Grant could see time at receiver.

Hunter Hastings and Chris Sesay are the returners on the offensive line and will start at the tackle positions while Dan Nineve will be the center and Amro Ismail and Sean King man the guard positions. It will be a lot of the same names on the other side of the ball with Hastings, King, and Sesay all playing both ways. Junior Nate Kearney will also be in the mix as a pass rusher.

The veteran group on defense will be the KP secondary, which features a lot of familiar faces. Both Cantave (safety) and Viscusi (corner) had really strong junior seasons and will lead the way alongside junior Thomas Brewster, senior Eli Reed, and Joseph, who has really impressed so far this preseason. There will be a little inexperience at linebacker but the Warriors have Gately back in the fold alongside senior Jake Sullivan and junior Will Astorino. Matt Kelley is back as the starting kicker.

“I love my team, great kids,” said KP head coach Brian Lee. “We just have to make sure ready to go every single week. It’s been kind of a burn, playing in the Spring. It feels like we’ve been going, going, going, but now we have to focus on staying healthy and getting through Thanksgiving. It’s been fun to be around them, they are good kids that work hard. Hopefully, we can turn that into being successful.”




2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Mansfield

2020 Record: 6-0 (Kelley-Rex division champions)
Coach: Mike Redding

Key/Returning Players: Mark DeGirolamo, Sr., OL/DL; Ryan DeGirolamo, Jr., TE/DE; James Fichera, Sr., WR/LB; Joe Forte, Sr., OL/DL; James Gilleran, Sr., OL/DE; Zander Holmes, Sr., RB/LB; Jephte Jean, Jr., OL/DE; Dana Johnson, Sr., WR/DB; Drew Sacco, Jr., RB/DB; Rocco Scarpellini, Jr., RB/LB; Braeden Veno, Sr., OL/DL; Conner Zukowski, Jr., QB/DB

Outlook:
Mansfield won the 2019 state title, is riding a 16-game win streak, hasn’t lost a game in league play since September 2017, and hasn’t lost an in-state game since a triple-OT thriller against Foxboro at Fenway to close out 2018, so the Hornets have earned the target that is on their backs this fall. Everyone will be aiming to be the first Hock team to hand the Hornets a loss and try to end a three-year run as the top team in the Kelley-Rex. Although there are some guys in new spots, especially at the skill positions, Mansfield returns 10 starters and several players who saw significant action off the bench last year.

The offense will be powered by an experienced line. Four of five starters return from last year with only junior center Colton Johnson added. Seniors Mark DeGirolamo, Joe Forte, and James Gilleran, and junior Jephte Jean are all back and should give the Hornets an edge up front. Junior Conner Zukowski will be the new starting quarterback and he will have several new weapons to call on. Juniors Drew Sacco and Rocco Scarpellini are new starters in the backfield, but both were called on plenty last season. Senior Dana Johnson and sophomore Trevor Foley will get the start out wide.

Defense has been Mansfield’s calling card during its run, as the Hornets allowed only 23 points in six games last year. DeGirolamo and classmate Braeden Veno are back on the defensive line along with Jean and senior Pedro Cruz. All three starting linebackers returned, as seniors Zander Holmes and James Fichera are paired with Scarpellini. Junior safety Ryan DeGirolamo is the only starter back in the secondary and will need to provide leadership for sophomores Foley and CJ Bell. Senior Jared Fraone will start at the other corner spot.

Mansfield coach Mike Redding is counting on a tough preseason, against state powers Everett and Central Catholic, to help the Hornets prepare. He is also excited about the new statewide playoff system that could pair Mansfield with a new set of tournament opponents as they seek to make it a three-peat in Div. 2.




2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Milford

2020 Record: 5-2
Coach: Dale Olson

Key/Returning Players: Key/Returning Players: Evan Cornelius, Jr., QB/DE; Tyler Lane, Sr., RB/LB; Alex McColl, Sr., DE/OT; Marco Monteiro, Sr., DT/OT; Angelo Romero, Sr., RB/LB; Grant Scudo, Sr., RB/SS

Outlook:
Milford made a successful move into the Kelley-Rex last season. Under first-year coach Dale Olson, the Hawks earned a first-ever win over perennial league power King Philip and finished second in the division. This year, the Hawks will try to make another title challenge despite having several new faces stepping into important roles.

On offense, the Hawks will be transitioning from the pass-first offense that Brady Olson ran last year. Junior Evan Cornelius is a very different quarterback, who will bring a lot of size and strength to the position (which makes sense, since he also plays defensive end). Graduation took away a lot of dynamic playmakers from last year’s offense but seniors Tyler Lane, Angelo Romero, and Grant Scudo will give Milford a deep backfield and last year senior Jaden Agnew emerged as a major threat in the passing game.

The Hawks will be tough up front again this year on both sides of the ball. Seniors Alex McColl and Marco Monteiro are big and tough and will open holes on offense while clogging running lanes on the other side. Cornelius will add a threat on the edge defensively and the linebacking corps continues to be a factor, led by Lane and Romero. Scudo seeks out the ball at safety and is always a threat to force a turnover.

Olson admits that his team lacks experience at the skill positions, but he added, “Having three scrimmages will help prepare the first-year varsity kids to play week one.”

2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

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Taunton

2020 Record: 2-4
Coach: Brad Sidwell

Key/Returning Players: Trent Santos, Sr., WR/DB; Nate Keenan, Sr., WR/RB/FS/K; Nick Lima, Sr., WR/TE/OLB; Nate Laplante, Jr., OL/DL; Ryan MacDougall, Jr., OL/LB; William Guachiculca-Torres, Jr., OL/DL; Faisal Mass, Sr., TE/WR/DL; Tyler Wynn, Jr., WR/DB/P; Evan Perrota, Sr., RB/LB; Jake Leonard, Jr., QB; Isaiah Williams, Jr., WR/DB; Logan Frank, Jr., OL/LB; Bryan Batista, Sr., RB; Jon Castillo, Sr., WR/SS; Jack Moitoso, Sr., OL/DL; McKyen Gonsalves, Jr., WR/DB;

Outlook:
Taunton didn’t have the best record during the Fall 2 season but the opportunity to just get on the field and play was incredibly valuable for the Tigers. There are less than a dozen seniors (eight) on the roster for the Tigers this season so head coach Brad Sidwell will be looking for a strong class of juniors, as well as some sophomores, to make up the majority of the lineup this Fall.

A good chunk of those juniors were inserted into the starting lineup or played a large number of snaps just five months ago when the Tigers played six games. That allowed the Tigers to build some depth for the upcoming season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Junior Jake Leonard got a jump start to his career when he took over for an injured Danny MacDougall. That experience will be key as he begins his first full season as the starter under center. Leonard will have three veteran options to work with in senior captains Trent Santos and Nate Keenan — two receivers — and tight end Nick Lima. Senior Faisal Mass will be a big target as a tight end, also providing key blocking on the line, while seniors Jon Castillo (receiver), Jack Moitiso (offensive line) and Evan Perrota (running back) will be in the mix as well.

Junior Ryan MacDougall started on the offensive line last season and will be joined by classmates Nate Laplante, William Guachiculca-Torres, and Logan Frank while sophomore Bryan Joanis will also be in the mix so some playing time. Keenan could also get some carries out of the backfield while junior Bryan Batista could emerge as a go-to option carrying the ball. Juniors Tyler Wynn, Isaiah Williams, and McKyen Gonsalves are three names to watch as receiving options for Leonard.

Taunton has a lot of experience in its secondary with both Santos and Keenan playing on both sides of the ball, and that experience will be a big strength for the Tigers. There is also a lot of depth in the linebackers, starting with Lima, who uses his speed to attack the ball. He can also step out and play in coverage or drop back into a safety role if needed. Lima will be joined by Frank, MacDougall, and Perrota as linebackers. On the line, Laplante had a strong sophomore season and could be poised for a breakout year.

Taunton will prepare for the ever-challenging division slate with non-league games against New Bedford, Durfee, and Middleboro in its first three weeks. It also marks the first year of its new Thanksgiving rivalry with Milford.

“We’re excited to begin the season with this group after productive preseason practices and scrimmages,” said head coach Brad Sidwell. “Although we only have eight seniors, many of our players gained experience in the spring season. We need to improve through the non-league start of the season as the Hockomock Kelley-Rex is always a challenge for any of the teams involved.”

King Philip Stuns Franklin With Late Touchdown

King Philip football Danny Clancy
King Philip junior Danny Clancy comes down with the game-winning touchdown catch with just over a minute left in the game. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
WRENTHAM, Mass. – For three quarters, Franklin and King Philip were locked in a rock fight on Mactaz Field.

Then came the fourth quarter fireworks.

After neither team found the end zone in any of the first three quarters, there were three touchdowns in the final period including two in the final five minutes. Franklin took the lead with just over three minutes to go but King Philip answered with a game-winning drive, scoring with just over a minute to go to secure a 14-10 win.

King Philip football

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I don’t know [how we won it], there were so many ups and downs in that one,” said King Philip head coach Brian Lee. “It was the type of game that we’ve had success in the past, the type of game we’ve competed in but this group, we’re very young and we don’t have many seniors out there, and throughout this year we were having trouble in the close games. But they kept coming back, it was just awesome to see.

“It wasn’t a beautiful game but I’m proud of the kids. We got seven games, I’m not sure I like this season but I like tonight. I saw a little bit of Warrior of football for the first time.”

Neither team scored in the first half and the only points of the third quarter came off the foot of Franklin senior Parker Cheuvront as the Panthers carried a 3-0 led into the final 12 minutes of action. King Philip took the lead with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and was in position to close it out with just over five minutes to go.

But a penalty and an incomplete pass on third down forced KP to punt, and a low snap forced a scramble. Franklin was able to track the punter down, eventually forcing the ball free and senior Damon Carmignani, who had the initial pressure on the punter, came away with the ball and the Panthers were suddenly in business with the ball at the KP 34-yard line with just over five minutes to play.

King Philip football

Five plays later, including one of five hookups between quarterback Jared Arone (11/19, 102 yards) and receiver Jake O’Brien (five catches, 58 yards), the Panthers went to the ground and Mack Gulla (17 carries, 69 yards) burst up the middle, going airborne before falling on the goal line for a touchdown. Cheuvront’s point after gave the hosts a 10-7 lead with 3:17 to play.

As quickly as the momentum swung in favor of the visitors, it came right back for the hosts. Sophomore Rudy Gately (31 carries, 157 yards), who had the majority of carries with senior back Crawford Cantave out injured, moved the sticks with a 10-yard gain.

Facing 3rd and 7, junior quarterback Charlie Grant found senior Michael Zagordny as he fell out of bounds but it was ruled he got a foot down for a complete catch. The Panthers were also whistled for a personal foul for a late hit, moving the 38 yards (23 on the catch, 15 on the penalty) all the way down to the Franklin 19-yard line with 1:33 to play.

Franklin’s Jay Gulla and Xander Honor stopped Gately for a loss on first down so the Warriors went to the air on second down. Grant floated one to the corner of the end zone and junior Danny Clancy used his size to go up and get it despite good positioning from the defensive back, getting his feet inbounds for a 10-yard touchdown and a 14-10 lead with 1:08 to go.

“Those guys have been doing that a long time together, we just really haven’t been able to maximize it this year,” Lee said. “I’ve been jabbing at Clancy, asking when he was going to make the big plays we saw him make on JV on varsity. The kid had position on him and he was still able to pull it down, it was unreal.

“I thought Charlie played well for us and showed a lot of poise and leadership for us when we needed it.”

The Panthers didn’t get a chance at a final drive after fumbling on the ensuing kickoff with KP’s Nick Viscusi coming away with the loose ball.

“As a coach, you want to see competition and you want to see your guys compete to the end and I think we did that,” said Franklin head coach Eian Bain. “We certainly didn’t help ourselves tonight with penalties, miscues, putting the ball on the ground even if we got it back. End of the day, I thought we were our own worst enemy. King Philip is a good program, they played a really good game don’t get me wrong. This year felt like four years ago when we were in a lot of close games, learning how to win.

King Philip football

“You never want to let that adversity go to waste, hopefully, we learned a little bit about what it takes to close games in the Hockomock League. They are young too so hopefully both our programs are rising together and next year, when we see them on Thanksgiving, hopefully we’ll be right back here battling it out with them.”

There was a total of six drives in the first half, each team getting the ball three times. Franklin got the ball from the opening kickoff and moved the chains once but had to punt, which happened again on its next drive. The Panthers’ final drive of the opening half resulted in a turnover on downs. Franklin nearly had a touchdown on a pass from Arone into the end zone but Viscuti made a great play to knock the ball free and prevent six.

Things didn’t go much better for the Warriors on the offensive side of the ball. KP’s first drive went 15 plays and covered 74 yards but stalled in the red zone. The Warriors tried a fake field goal but Franklin was ready and junior Joseph Tirrell forced a fumble and classmate Jonathan Martins grabbed the loose ball. KP’s second and third drive combined for just seven yards on eight plays, taking the game to halftime.

The Warriors started to move the ball on its first possession of the second half but it came to a halt on a fumble, recovered by Franklin’s Jacob Briggs. The turnover resulted in points for the Panthers, who moved 31 yards on 8 plays. Cheuvront split the uprights from 32-yards out for a 3-0 advantage.

King Philip responded with a 9-play, 66-yard drive to take its first lead of the game less than two minutes into the fourth. Lining up with two fullbacks — senior Mike Malatesta and sophomore William Astorino — and with a tight end on either side of the line — Nathan Kearney and Harry Brown — the Warriors continued to pound the ball on the ground.

Gately had a trio of runs for 22 yards on this drive, following the blocking of Hunter Hastings and Dan Nineve on the left side, Kevin Pierro up the middle, and Amro Ismail and Chris Sesay on the right side, Gately racked up 157 total rushing yards on 31 carries.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

KP mixed things up on the next play as Grant dropped a perfect pass into Clancy’s hands down the right sideline for a 38-yard gain. Four plays later, Malatesta went up the middle on fourth down for a 2-yard touchdown, and Matthew Kelley’s point after made it 7-3, setting up the wild finish.

“[Gulla] is a dude so I was very pleased with the overall effort and the battle,” Lee said of the KP defensive effort, which held Franklin to 1-of-7 on third and 1-of-3 on fourth down and under 200 total yards of offense. “I was nervous, Crawford is our safety and has been playing really well on defense and now we’re going against a pretty good passing attack without him. But I was happy with the effort from the guys.”

King Philip finishes the year at 4-3 while Franklin closes out the Fall II season at 3-4.

King Philip football

Scarlet Hawks Score Shutout Win Over King Philip

Milford football Carter Scudo
Milford’s Carter Scudo (11) comes down with an interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter against King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 MILFORD, Mass. – A week ago, Milford’s defense had a stellar performance against one of the best teams in the state in Mansfield, but the Hornets found a way to get the win and the headlines.

This time around, not only did the Scarlet Hawks put on an encore performance on the defensive side of the ball, they were even better than a week ago.

Milford handed King Philip its first league shutout in over a decade, and its first division loss to a team besides Mansfield since 2015 in a 12-0 shutout of the Warriors.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Behind a pair of interceptions and a goal line stand that changed the complexion of the game, the Scarlet Hawks earned one of their biggest league wins since joining the Hockomock in 2013.

“Our kids get down hill and they play physical football,” said first-year Milford head coach Dale Olson. “We just went through the grinder… Attleboro, Mansfield, King Philip to open the season. We knew [today] wasn’t going to be pretty, and it certainly wasn’t at times, but we got a great defense. To hold that team…they’re big, physical, they have a tremendous running back. I don’t know how much they ran for today but it couldn’t have been a lot. KP hasn’t lost too much in the Hock [recently] so to beat them, I couldn’t be prouder of the kids.”

Not only did the Hawks keep the Warriors out of the end zone, they limited the visitors to under 200 yards of total offense and held KP to just 2-for-12 on third down. KP was forced to punt six times, had one turnover on downs, and two interceptions.

“We just can’t move the ball so it’s been difficult,” said KP head coach Brian Lee. “Overall I’m pleased with our defensive effort. For a team of 140-pound guys, I think we’re doing pretty good. We’re out there fighting. We had some momentum, we had the long drive and get all the way down and we don’t score…that really was difficult, could have been a boost for us. It’s just frustrating because we were in it.

“It doesn’t get any easier. Mansfield is a lot meaner and a lot more experience. For us not to be able to just go lean on our culture a little bit in this game was a little disappointing in this game.”

King Philip’s defense did its part to keep the Warriors in the game but the Scarlet Hawks hit on one big play in the first half and cashed in one good field possession in the second half to find the end zone twice. Senior quarterback Brady Olson (8/28, 190 yards, two touchdowns) hooked up with classmates Carter Scudo and Max Martin in the end zone for the two scores in the game.

For Milford, getting the ball to Scudo was a priority. Scudo lined up in the backfield (11 carries, 97 yards) and at receiver (two catches, 93 yards, touchdown) to get involved as much as possible. It was evident the Hawks were trying to get him the ball as much as possible and he rewarded them early, taking his first carry for 30 yards on the third play of the game.

In fact, neither team had much success on offense early on as the first quarter ended scoreless. KP’s first drive ended on an interception from Evan Hazard and the Warriors punted on their next two series. Milford turned it over on downs on its first series and went three-and-out on its next two drives.

Scudo was on the receiving end of Milford’s biggest play of the first half. On their fourth drive of the game, the Hawks were faced with 3rd and 13 but a penalty against the KP secondary gave Milford 10 yards and another chance at third down. Brady Olson hit Scudo on a quick slant and Scudo broke free of his man and sprinted his way to the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown and a 6-0 lead (after the PAT was blocked) on the first play of the second quarter.

“We didn’t make a ton of plays in the passing game but we made a couple of big plays,” Olson said. “We tried to move Carter around because through the first two games, we weren’t getting our best kids enough touches. We got him in the backfield, and he’s an explosive kid and there were a couple of times he was so close to breaking it and being gone. So it was good to get him more involved.”

King Philip looked poised to respond with a scoring drive on its own, albeit in different fashion, but came up just inches shy. The Warriors relied on the ground game, giving carries to Crawford Cantave (17 carries, 56 yards) and Mike Malatesta (seven carries, 47 yards). Junior quarterback Charlie Grant (8/19, 69 yards) connected with Eli Reed for a key third down conversion, and Malatesta bulldozed his way inside the 10-yard line.

Milford’s defense held but on 4th and goal from the five, Grant fired a pass near the pylon but the receiver was held. With pass interference, not an automatic first down anymore, KP had a second chance but just 4th and goal from the 3-yard line. Grant kept it and the pile moved close to the goal line but the referees ruled he was down before crossing the line, giving Milford the ball back just an inch outside the goal line.

“What a huge stop,” Dale Olson said. “If they get in there, now it’s a tie game…but we’re big and physical too. I think that’s propelled this program and what we want this program to be moving forward, we want physical kids. To stop them down on the six-inch line like that? [King Philip] is even bigger than Mansfield is upfront so I couldn’t be prouder of our kids.”

King Philip received the opening kick of the second half but the Hawks stuffed the Warriors on a 3rd and 2 and forced the visitors to punt. A high kick went out of bounds at the KP 46-yard line, giving the Hawks good field position to start the second half.

The Hawks moved the ball but a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty backed Milford back up. That only delayed the drive as Brady Olson dropped a 30-yard pass down the sideline into the hands of Matt Varteresion to move the sticks. Two plays later, Olson went play action before hitting Martin on a slant to the right for another touchdown. KP’s Hunter Hastings blocked the extra point to make it 12-0 with 7:45 left in the third quarter.

The Warrior defense did its part to stay in the game. On the final four drives of the game, the Hawks were forced to punt twice after a total of 10 yards, and turned it over on downs inside the red zone on back-to-back possessions.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We only gave up 12 points, we’re supposed to win with that,” Lee said. “We’re supposed to win that game only giving up 12 but we haven’t been able to figure out a constant response on offense yet. And we lost another starter so it’s only getting harder.”

Even as the KP defense put a stop to the Hawks’ offense, the Warriors couldn’t move the sticks in the second half. King Philip went three-and-out on its first three drives of the second half, punted after getting one first down on the fourth drive, and had its final drive of the game come to an end with Scudo hauled in an interception in the end zone during the final minutes of the contest.

Milford football (2-1) will hit the road for the first time this season when it travels to take on rival Franklin on Saturday at 12:00. King Philip (2-1) will look to bounce back from its first loss when it takes on league-leading Mansfield on Saturday at 6:30.

Teams of the Decade #10: 2017 King Philip Football

King Philip football

Team: King Philip football
Year: 2017
Record: 12-0
2017 Kelley-Rex Division Champions
2017 Division 2 State Champions


Following an undefeated season and the program’s first state title, the 2017 King Philip football team entered the new year with some question marks. Only two starters were back on offense and just three on the other side of the ball. While those outside the program were understandably wondering how so many new faces would be able to cope with the pressure of being defending champions, the players knew that they had what it took to go back-to-back.

It turned out that the players were absolutely right.

“It wasn’t going undefeated again and going back to the Super Bowl,” KP coach Brian Lee admitted when asked about his expectation heading into the 2017 season. “I think these guys just wanted to show that they could do it too. Once they knew how to get there, that it’s possible, those guys fully expected to go back. They knew their potential better than I did.”

The foundation for the second straight state title was built in the offseason with lifting in the spring and then summer workout programs that saw players get to the field at 6 a.m. every morning. In the preseason, the team spent a week of three-a-days in Maine. The hard work and the shared commitment permeated the roster.

“It just built us all into the team we were that season,” said Shane Frommer, the team’s star running back and linebacker. Being there at 6 in the morning, tired, grinding together, just built so much character in us and bonds that carried into the season to just keep working, to never stop, because you’re fighting for your brothers.”

Frommer was one of the key returning players, along with quarterback Brendan Lydon, defensive back Andrew Dittrich, defensive end Evan Rice, and receiver Dylan Leonard. Over the course of the season, players like linebackers Jack Webster and Max Armour, receiver Tom Madden, lineman Anthony Vahue, and tight end Jack Piller were some of the players that emerged as standouts, most of them on both sides of the ball.

King Philip football is a defense-first program and on that side of the ball, under the guidance of Lee and defensive coordinator Matt Wassell, the Warriors put up numbers that were even better than the 2016 team. The defense allowed only five teams to score in the second half that season, no team scored more than once after halftime, and only two opponents in the final nine weeks avoided a second half shutout.

“That’s our emphasis,” said Lee. “Let’s put our best dudes on defense, let’s spend more time in practice on defense, let’s do all the things that make other people spend time on offense.” He continued, “The defense just got better every week. We really relied on them a ton in 2017.”

Frommer credited the coaches for getting the team in the right spots. He added, “If we all know our assignments every play then we can all fly around and tackle the ball. If we’re doing our own jobs, then it’s just going to happen.”

The undefeated season may have come to an abrupt end in week four if not for a big play on defense by Frommer. Mansfield was dominating, already up 10-0, and with the ball in the red zone with a chance to break the game open before halftime. Dittrich got his hand to a pass that Frommer picked off and took 96 yards for a score that cut the lead to three. KP would score 21 points in the fourth quarter, including a Frommer touchdown and rolled to a 28-10 win.

“We were up against the ropes right there,” Lee said. “Now, we’re only down three and we can play and we’re only going to get better. Getting that win really launched us into, maybe we’ve got something special here.”

Over the course of its three straight trips to the Super Bowl, KP became known for its ability to come back in games and make the plays it needed down the stretch to secure a win. Lee said, “We really got good at playing under pressure. We were comfortable in tough situations. It was great to see, the tighter the game got the more confident they felt.”

That resilience showed again the week after coming back against the Hornets when Cole Baker’s field goal pulled out a 17-14 win against Franklin. It was on display again in the Div. 2 South quarterfinal when a rematch against Mansfield went down to the wire and the Warriors pulled out a 13-11 victory at Macktaz Field with all the points coming in the first half.

After beating Bridgewater-Raynham to win the South title, KP was back at Gillette Stadium to take on Lincoln-Sudbury and its high-flying offense. This time, the coaches were prepared for the unique challenges of playing in a Super Bowl and tried to take advantage of the rule changes, such as the shorter quarters, to slow down the L-S offense.

On KP’s first possession of the second half, trailing 7-0, Lydon stretched a play out to get a first down and in the process suffered an injury that sent him to the bench. Sophomore Robert Jarest was forced to step in under center. Not surprisingly, there were some jitters and the first snap was fumbled. Two plays later, Jarest made the play that may have turned the game around when he hit Madden for 38 yards down to the L-S 23.

Three Frommer carries later, KP had tied the game.

“We didn’t really know what, at that time, Robbie was going to be,” said Lee. “What he had was the same skill set as Brendan, in that he expected to have success and the moments weren’t too big for him. Once we scored, everything changed in that game in terms of our ability to totally believe that we’re going to win.”

Frommer rushed for more than 100 yards in the Super Bowl, despite playing with a painful hip pointer. He was named the HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and Kelley-Rex division MVP.

“He just had such a will about him to win and to compete and making himself better,” said Lee about Frommer. “It was one of those rare combinations where your best player is also your hardest working player. He really carried us there.”

A strip sack by Webster put the Warriors in position to grab the lead late in the fourth quarter. Baker set aside an earlier miss and split the uprights from 31 yards to put KP ahead to stay. Lee said of his sophomore kicker, “I don’t think it was a coincidence that in KP history that the one time we have a dude who can kick field goals are the three years we were in the Super Bowl.”

Fittingly, the defense completed another second half shutout to close out the state title and extend KP’s win streak to 25 games.

Lee tried to put into perspective how difficult it was to go unbeaten for two years. He said, “Everybody lifts now, everybody watches film, it’s so hard to gain an advantage on an opponent because everybody is working so hard. You’ve got to have a few breaks obviously and the way the playoffs are it’s about staying healthy.”

For Frommer and the rest of the King Philip football seniors, the championship was the culmination of the work that started in the weight room in the spring.

“Just thinking back, it was the best time of my life,” said Frommer, voice cracking as he reflected on the final moments of his high school football career. “Going back to Gillette with my buddies that I played Pop Warner with and just seeing it all pay off that senior year and all the work we put in. It was an unbelievable feeling. The bonds we built between all the people, you’re going to have those forever.”






King Philip football
King Philip football

Teams of the Decade
Teams of the Decade

Opponent
Result
North AttleboroW, 24-14 (Recap)
FoxboroW, 16-7 (Recap)
AttleboroW, 42-14
MansfieldW, 28-10 (Recap)
FranklinW, 17-14
Oliver AmesW, 42-0
TauntonW, 35-7
BarnstableW, 35-20
MansfieldW, 13-11 (Recap)
Bridgewater-RaynhamW, 29-19
FranklinW, 28-0
Lincoln-SudburyW, 10-7 (Recap)






Teams of the Decade
Teams of the Decade
King Philip football

King Philip football

King Philip football

King Philip football


King Philip football
King Philip football

King Philip football

King Philip football

King Philip football

King Philip football


Teams of the Decade
Teams of the Decade


Videos via Tim Crowley

Hornets Swarm Past King Philip Into D2 South Final

Mansfield football Jack Moussette
Mansfield senior quarterback Jack Moussette throws a past in the first quarter against King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The past two seasons, the Mansfield football team has had its hopes of competing for a state championship dashed by rival King Philip.

The Hornets weren’t going to let that happen again this year.

Mansfield senior quarterback Jack Moussette tossed four touchdowns in one of his best performances of the season and junior Cincere Gill accounted for four total scored to help the Hornets roll to a 34-6 win over #3 King Philip.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I was just trying to make the most of my opportunities,” said Moussette, who completed 12-of-17 passes for 230 yards. “We run the ball the majority of the time but Coach Redding told me ‘I trust you, go out there and do your thing tonight.’ I just tried to do the best I could. We had a great game on the ground and in the air, it was overall a great team win, I’m really proud of the guys. The offensive line stepped up big when we needed them too.”

While the Hornets have won the past two regular season meetings (28-27 in 2018, 15-13 this season), the Warriors have been the ones with the last laugh. KP knocked off Mansfield 13-11 in the semifinals in 2017 and celebrated with the D2 South trophy on Alumni Field last season after a 10-7 triumph.

“We’ve won the last two regular season games to win the league title but back-to-back losses, when you’re this close to Gillette…the guys have been waiting a year for another chance,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “We got the monkey off the back in the league, the playoff thing was like a gorilla on our back. It would have been another long year if we blew this one. But being home, being healthy for a change in the playoffs has made a difference. We’re doing it in all three phases right now and with confidence.

“Every year we play them we seem to get seven and get stuck. Last year in the playoffs, we got seven early and didn’t score. This year we got seven and didn’t score until the end. We harped on that, get to 14, get the 14-point lead, build off that. Tonight we got more than that which is great but extending the lead was critical.”

Mansfield made it clear early on that repeating that feat would be a tough task. After a punt and a red zone turnover, the Hornets got on the board on their third series.

Moussette hit Danny Rapoza (three catches, 58 yards) for 32 yards on first down, and four plays later, used play action before connecting with Gill (five catches, 107 yards, three touchdowns) out in the flat and the junior used his speed to race inside the pylon for a 7-0 lead with 11:54 left in the second quarter.

The Hornets’ defense helped set up the next score. Nico Holmes and Chris Graham combined for a tackle for loss, and the front seven helped pressure King Philip quarterback Robert Jarest (8-for-23, 107 yards, touchdown) into a throwaway that was flagged for intentional grounding.

Stuck at their own 11, KP chose a quick kick from Jarest on third down trying to flip the field. Mansfield took over at the KP 46-yard line and quickly cashed in. Gill faked outside to shake his defender and Moussette delivered a pass on the mark for a 46-yard touchdown with 9:19 left in the second quarter.

“It’s a lot of people to cover and I think their quarterback has come along,” said King Philip coach Brian Lee. “He’s the one piece that’s the difference for them right now. He’s getting better and better, it was tough. It’s a lot to defend, and on a short field, you’re asking for trouble.”

Makhi Baskin broke up a third down pass on KP’s next drive and the Hornets took over at their own 32-yard line with 7:12 left to play in the half. Vinnie Holmes (12 carries, 70 yards) broke off a 17-yard run and Gill hauled in a 27-yard pass but Mansfield was faced with a third down when they entered the red zone.

Moussette faked to his right before dropping off a pass to the left on a screen to Everett Knowlton. Junior TJ Guy came up with a big block to spring Knowlton for an 18-yard touchdown, and Michael DeBolt’s third of four successful extra point attempts gave the hosts a 21-0 lead with 3:41 left in the quarter.

“We had a great night throwing, and I think that was the difference,” Redding said. “Jack was on, we had some good matchups with Cincere [Gill] out as a receiver, Danny [Rapoza] did a good job. I think that was the difference was our ability to throw the ball. We ran pretty well but we had to throw it.

“And our defense was lights out, and the field position was a pretty big factor with the kicking game. We fed off the field position, defense got stops. Now you can take chances on offense because you have four downs. Things went our way from the beginning.”

Mansfield nearly added more points before the break with runs from DeBolt and Nick Marciano helping get the Hornets inside the red zone. But a pass fell through a receiver’s hands in the end zone and KP sophomore Crawford Cantave snatched the interception with under a minute to play.

King Philip looked to have a bright start to the second half when Jarest connected with Alex Behling for almost 30 yards down the sideline but a holding call erased the completion and two plays later, Marciano came up with an interception to give Mansfield the ball back with good field position at the KP 23-yard line.

Four plays later, Gill took the handoff, cut up field and found the end zone with an 11-yard touchdown, and a 28-0 advantage with 7:59 left in the third quarter.

“One thing that was a little disappointing was that we got beat up, we got out-physicaled, out-played,” Lee said. “I’m not sure what was so different this time than last time but it definitely was a big difference. When they are out in front, they get on you. You have to keep it close with them. They are loaded, they have a lot of guys. They are coached well and they believe.”

The Warriors put together their best drive of the game in response. Jarest had a first down pass to Behling and Ryan Halliday (13 carries, 47 yards) barreled his way for a first down. Jarest linked up with Behling again for a 42-yard gain to get inside the red zone.

On the next play, Mansfield’s Joe Plath broke up a pass intended for KP’s Drew Danson, but the loose ball was hauled in by Andrew McKinney along the back of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.

Sophomore Mark DeGirolamo recovered an onside kick attempt from the Warriors, and the Hornets needed just three plays to strike. DeBolt hauled in a 19-yard pass, Holmes grinded out nine yards, and Moussette connected with an open Gill for a 24-yard touchdown, and a 34-6 lead with 3:14 left in the third quarter.

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“We have great receivers,” Moussette said. “Cincere is unbelievable, I worked all summer with Danny Rapoza, I think he’s one of the most underrated players in the league. We have guys on the sidelines like [Joe] Cappelletti that can come in and make plays. We’re loaded with weapons and coach is doing his best to get everyone involved.

“This means the world to me. We got up in the summer every day at 5 in the morning to work out. Our main goal is to win a state title and we wanted to beat KP. We were lucky enough to do it twice this year, I couldn’t be prouder of the team. We really battled and put it all together to show everyone what we’re all about.”

Mansfield football (8-1) will play at top-seeded Natick in the D2 South Final, but the date and time have yet to be posted by the MIAA. King Philip (7-2) will enter the non-playoff pool for one week.

Hornets Hang On To Knock Off King Philip

Mansfield football Vinnie Holmes
Mansfield’s Vinnie Holmes carries the ball in the second half against King Philip at Macktaz Field. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
WRENTHAM, Mass. – With four of the last five meetings between King Philip and Mansfield football being decided by three or less points, it’s no surprise the teams were locked in another tight battle on Friday night.

And in games so tightly contested, it’s often a small play here or there that can make the biggest difference.

Mansfield senior Nick Marciano blocked an extra point attempt and later converted a two-point conversion rush to help the Hornets secure a 15-13 win on Macktaz Field over the host Warriors.

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“It’s a great win, but its Mansfield-KP, it’s gotta go to the wire,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “Both teams are going to find a way to get points and it’s always great defensively. It’s business as usual between these two.

“They really battled, this is just such a great rivalry, there’s so much pride on both sides.”

The Hornets held a 15-6 advantage and took over on offense after Mahki Baskin hauled in an interception in the end zone with just 5:30 left. But Mansfield was unable to kill much of the clock, and in true fashion this rivalry, King Philip made a game of it.

Just two minutes after turning it over, the Warriors were in the end zone. Senior quarterback Robert Jarest (14/26, 194 yards) orchestrated a four-play, 64-yard drive that took little time off the clock. Jarest hit Alex Behling for a 16-yard touchdown, and suddenly the Warriors were down just 15-13 with 3:18 to go after Dylan Conti‘s extra point.

But KP’s onside kick attempt failed to travel 10 yards, and the Hornets took over in Warrior territory. Senior Vinnie Holmes (13 carries, 106 yards) did the rest, sealing the deal with a 23-yard first down rush that allowed Mansfield to kill the rest of the clock.

“It was circled on our calendar from the beginning of the season,” Holmes said. “We knew this was going to be our biggest game so far that counts. La Salle didn’t really count. This one counts for us and it was great to get this win.

“We always know that they can always inch back. They did it last year versus us, almost got that two-point conversion to win. We knew they could do it. We knew we had to put the pedal to the metal. Stop them. Get that first down at the end that was big and then eventually run out the clock.”

Mansfield got off to a perfect start, needing just four plays to cover 52 yards in 2:22 to take the lead. After three run plays, the Hornets went play action and senior quarterback Jack Moussette (6/10, 72 yards) found Danny Rapoza open down the right sideline. Michael DeBolt split the uprights for the extra point to make it 7-0.

That would be all of the scoring in the opening half. King Philip’s first drive went for 12 plays but only 35 yards, stalling around midfield. The Warriors’ two other possessions were three-and-outs with a total of four yards.

Mansfield had solid field position throughout but couldn’t solve the KP defense. The Hornets had to punt on their second and third drives of the game and failed to convert a fourth down as time expired in the first half.

King Philip lost star running back and linebacker Ryan Halliday (eight carries, 25 yards) to an injury early in the second quarter but the Warriors’ offense was able to overcome, putting together its best series out of the break. The Warriors marched 80 yards on 14 plays, converting four third downs on the drive. Jarest hit Brian Wassersug for 24 yards on one third down to move into Hornet territory, and two plays later, the senior quarterback connected with Drew Danson for 38 yards to get down to the one-yard line.

It took four tries from there, but sophomore Crawford Cantave was able to punch it across to get the Warriors on the board.

But Marciano came up with one of the biggest plays of the game, flying across to get just enough on the ball to block it and keep it low.

Mansfield failed to convert on fourth down on back-to-back possessions but the Hornet defense held the Warriors to a combined -11 yards on its next two series. DeBolt and TJ Guy (sack) had key stops to help Mansfield get the ball back.

This time the Hornets did cash in on the good field position. After converting a first down, Cincere Gill took the handoff to the left before cutting back to the right, getting around the defense and sprinting his way to a 20-yard touchdown.

After an injury timeout, the Warriors were whistled for too many men on the conversion attempt. Mansfield pulled its kicking unit off the field, and after a timeout, went with the wildcat offense. Marciano took the snap himself, ran forward and jumped over the pile and into the end zone to make it 15-6 with 7:18 left.

“We thought about it from the three [yard line] but they are so good defensively,” Redding said. “When they got the penalty, we felt we had to go for it then from the one-yard line. That was obviously big because it became a two-score game, that makes a big difference.

Andrew McKinney (five catches, 55 yards) grabbed a 19-yard catch, and Wassersug made a terrific catch on the ensuing drive, hauling in a 36-yard completion to set the Warriors up in the red zone before Baskin came away with an interception in the end zone.

“We’ve been more impressed with Robert with what he’s been able to do,” said KP coach Brian Lee. “He’s a senior, he’s been around. He brought us down there at the end.”

“I’ll tell ya, Jarest was unbelievable in the second half,” Redding said. “They lose Halliday and they just found a way to make completions, he can run and throw. They did a great job of getting the offense going without one for the best running backs in the state in the lineup. They made a game of it, their defense played tough.

“We blew some opportunities to extend the lead, and this is what [KP] does, they hang around and manufacture a drive. All of a sudden you’re an onside kick away from them having the ball again with the chance to win.”

This was Mansfield’s second win in the rivalry since 2013, earning their second straight regular season contest. The two teams have also played in the playoffs in two straight seasons.

“Our defense really battled in there,” Lee said. “Ryan is as good of a player and means just as much on defense as he does on offense. So everyone was stepping up for us. The overall takeaway…we made a ton of mistakes, a lot of new guys out there but we hung in there and battled as hard as we could. I think going forward if we can play well, and we’re fortunate enough to see them again, we know we’re not out-classed by them.”

Both teams are likely to make the playoffs again this year and could be on a collision course for a third straight postseason meeting.

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“It’s great football, great defense, and I’m sure part two is coming in November,” Redding said.

“We have the utmost respect for KP, they are a great football team,” Holmes said. “They produce great players like Halliday, and we’ll probably see them again.”

Mansfield football (2-0 Hockomock, 3-1 overall) is on the road again next week at Pisani Field to visit Franklin for another key division showdown. King Philip (1-1, 3-1) will host Attleboro on Friday.

King Philip Uses Ground Game, Defense To Beat Franklin

King Philip football Ryan Halliday
King Philip’s Ryan Halliday breaks a tackle during a run against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The King Philip offense has had some success from the new wrinkles it’s added this season, but when it mattered most, the Warriors turned to their signature ground and pound running attack.

Senior Ryan Halliday rushed for 150 yards on 33 carries, including 17 in the fourth quarter, and scored a pair of touchdowns to pace the Warriors to a 26-14 win over rival Franklin, KP’s 16th straight win over the Panthers.

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After getting just one touch on each of King Philip’s first two drives of the second half — both quickly ended in punts — and Franklin playing with the momentum after cutting the deficit to six at 20-14, the Warriors turned to Halliday.

The senior back was the focal point in the game-clinching drive that spanned 75 yards over 13 plays, taking over eight minutes off the clock. Halliday ran behind an offensive line featuring senior Nolan Gunning, senior Wyatt Manzi, senior center Sean Piller, junior Pat Zarba, and senior Dan Mullen.

The senior back took 10 consecutive handoffs, picking up four first downs that included a fourth down conversion on 4th and 1 on the Panthers’ 28-yard line after an offside call on the defense.

After sophomore Crawford Cantave burst up the middle for nine years, the Warriors went back to Halliday for back-to-back carries, the latter an 11-yard dart up the middle that put the visitors ahead 26-14 with just 5:23 left. The drive started with 1:34 left in the third quarter.

“We’ve switched up the offense a bit this year and we’ve been passing a lot,” Halliday said. “But in the end, we kind of just played old KP football, played some nice defense and ran the ball.

“I’m gassed but I’m sure my hoggies are gassed too, I give a lot of the credit to them.”

Franklin ran just seven offensive plays after that King Philip drive and was limited to a total of 16 offensive snaps total in the second half.

“It worked for us last year,” said KP head coach Brian Lee of going back to the ground game. “[Franklin] is so explosive on offense, they have so many playmakers that you feel like if keep giving them chances…our defense was hanging in there but we just wanted to slow it down a little bit.”

King Philip’s defense did its part as well, holding the Panthers to 175 yards of total offense, 0-for-5 on third down, forcing three turnovers, and limited Franklin’s high-powered offense to just three plays over 20 yards.

“It’s hard to get pressure on them, the ball is out quick and they have a lot of playmakers,” Lee said. “Overall I’m very pleased with how the defense played.”

The Panthers didn’t help themselves much in the first half, fumbling on the opening possession after a completed pass. A quick three-and-out was followed by another fumble, giving KP great starting position at the Franklin 25-yard line.

It took KP just three plays to take advantage of the good field position as senior quarterback Robbie Jarest (11-for-17, 93 yards passing; 8 carries, 75 yards rushing) hit Brian Wassersug, who broke a tackle and sprinted up the sideline for a 25-yard touchdown. Dylan Conti’s point after attempt was good to put KP up 7-0.

Franklin had a quick response as senior quarterback Thomas Gasbarro (16-for-22,193 yards) scrambled to buy some time before finding a wide-open Cole Lakatos on the sideline, and the senior took it the rest of the way, getting a big block from Jake Davis, for a 51-yard touchdown. Parker Cheuvront connected on his first of two extra points to tie it 7-7.

Jarest got it done with his legs on KP’s ensuing drive, taking a QB option for 48 yards to get the Warriors’ offense going. A pass to Alex Behling got the Warriors into the red zone, and six plays later, Halliday followed Gunning into the end zone for a 1-yard score, converting a 4th and goal situation.

“He’s come a long way, he’s really bought in,” Lee said of Jarest. “For us to be throwing the ball as much, it’s different. But we have a new offensive coordinator [Cory Bailey] and he’s really stretching me to try and do some other things and take more risks. Robert’s making those plays with his arm and his legs, and in the end, I think that makes us more balanced.”

Franklin’s defense came up big two series later, stopping the Warriors on 4th and 1 from the Panthers’ 30-yard line with under a minute to go in the half.

But the momentum didn’t last long as KP’s Shawn Conniff applied pressure, forcing a fumble and sophomore Nick Viscusi came out of the pile with the ball.

Franklin nearly stopped the series when they grabbed an interception, but the Panthers were flagged for roughing the passer and KP kept possession. On the ensuing play, with just eight seconds left on the clock, Jarest delivered, finding an open Andrew McKinney for an 11-yard touchdown with only two seconds left on the clock, giving KP a 20-7 lead at halftime.

“We had the recipe of how to never play American football never again,” said Franklin head coach Eian Bain of the first half. “I’m at a loss for words for how to describe that first half really. You can’t beat great teams like KP when you have that many self-inflicted errors. Credit to a good opponent, sometimes they make you do that. We felt comfortable with our game plan but you can’t win putting the ball on the turf.”

Momentum swung in favor of the hosts as Franklin forced a three-and-out on King Philip’s opening drive of the second half. The Panthers’ offense capitalized, driving 77 yards on nine plays to make it a one-score game.

Highlighted by a pass and catch from Gasbarro to Jack Nally, and a fourth down completion between the same pair, Franklin marched down the field to the KP 1-yard line. Sophomore Mack Gulla punched it in from there, making it 20-14 with 4:27 left in the third quarter.

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Franklin only ran seven more offensive plays the rest of the game.

“They took the fourth quarter,” Bain said. “That’s what they do well, and that’s what we don’t do well. And by that point, they made us one dimensional but we continued to make mistakes. I’m disappointed because I think we can play better and execute better.”

King Philip football (1-0 Hockomock, 3-0 overall) now turns its attention to Mansfield, as the two rivals will do battle on Macktaz Field on Friday night. Franklin (0-1, 2-1) will try to get back into the win column when it travels to Oliver Ames on Saturday.

Defensive Adjustments Effective for KP at Foxboro

King Philip Football
KP quarterback Robert Jarest (6) celebrates after scoring the first of his two touchdowns in a 20-10 victory at Foxboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – For the second week in a row, King Philip reacted to the offensive game plan of its opponents, made changes to its defensive approach, and clamped down to secure a victory.

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Last week, KP held North Attleboro to only two first downs following the Rocketeers’ opening drive. On Friday night at Jack Martinelli Field, KP gave up 94 passing yards in the opening half against Foxboro but then after the break held the hosts to just 20 yards of offense (11 of those with seconds remaining) and intercepted three passes.

One of those interceptions came on the first possession of the second half and led to a KP touchdown that opened a two-score lead and was decisive in a 20-10 victory.

“We gave up some things and they had some wrinkles that we weren’t ready for and we had to make some adjustments,” said KP coach Brian Lee. “It got to the point that we thought, if we don’t make any more mistakes on ‘O’ and give them the short field then I think we’re going to be okay.”

KP’s offense scored three touchdowns in the second half of the opener against North and that momentum appeared to carry over to week two. The Warriors marched 68 yards on 10 plays on their opening drive to grab the lead. Senior Robert Jarest (4-10, 64 yards) hit Alex Behling on a 37-yard completion to get down to the Foxboro 20-yard-line. Jarest capped the drive with a four-yard keeper for a 6-0 advantage.

Jack Norberg ended the first Foxboro drive with a big sack of Shayne Kerrigan, but TJ Perry got the ball right back for the hosts when he read Jarest’s eyes as the QB rolled out and picked off the pass. Perry returned it to the KP two. Two plays later, Kerrigan punched it in from a yard out and Foxboro grabbed a 7-6 lead.

Foxboro struggled offensively last week against Norton, but things were clicking for the Warriors early on Friday night. Kerrigan (7-18, 94 yards) was causing problems with his ability to make throws on the run. He found Luis Sulham for a 17-yard completion and Ryan Hughes for 23 yards. On third down from the KP eight, Sam Callanan pressured Kerrigan and forced an incompletion.

Despite a low snap, Tyler James managed to split the arms of several KP players and split the uprights on a 25-yard field goal.

Needing a response, KP’s offense put together an eight-play, 58-yard drive that gave it a lead that the Warriors wouldn’t relinquish. Ryan Halliday (23 carries, 87 yards) got the ball four times on the drive, for 25 yards, and then Jarest hit Drew Danson for 15 yards down to the Foxboro five. Jarest (12 carries, 57 yards) kept it himself for his second touchdown of the night.

The hosts didn’t go quietly. Tommy Sharkey returned the ensuing kick out to the 35. On third down, Kerrigan connected with Sulham for 14 yards into KP territory. Two more completions got the ball down to the KP 35. Halliday and Callanan sacked Kerrigan and a spike gave Foxboro fourth and eight from the KP 38 with only eight seconds left in the half.

Kerrigan looked underneath the deep coverage to find Brian Derba down the far sideline. The play went for 23 yards and Derba went out of bounds with one second on the clock. James had a chance to tie the game heading into the break, but KP blocked the kick.

“We had a shot to tie it before the half and it shouldn’t have made an emotional difference but maybe it did,” said Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli. “We improved on a few things offensively in the first half but they dominated the second half.”

Foxboro got the ball to start the second half, but on third and 13 Kerrigan was picked off by Nick Viscusi. After completing 6-of-10 passes in the first half, Kerrigan would complete only 1-of-8 after the break for zero yards. Two plays after the interception, Halliday burst through the line and ran over a couple of defensive backs to score a 15-yard TD.

Lee said, “I think when happened we all felt, okay we’ve got the short field and we can execute. There’s plenty of good things there, but as I said to the guys we have a long way to go.”

KP started to control the line of scrimmage. Pat Zarba stuffed Bobby Yerardi as Foxboro was forced to punt. The visitors would put together a 12-play drive, including a pair of fourth down conversions, and marched to the Foxboro seven, but KP was unable to add to its lead. Sean Ferguson made a big stop on third down to keep KP out of the end zone.

“That was a good football game, a lot of good hitting in there, good plays either way,” said Martinelli. “We just couldn’t muster enough in the second half, gave them the short field, and that kind of spelled the difference.”

Three snaps later, Jack Collentro ended any momentum from that defensive stand when he picked off a deflected pass over the middle. Charlie Grant would add the third interception of the half with seconds remaining, as KP clamped down and Foxboro never got past its own 30-yard-line in the second half.

“We’re still working the kinks out with some of our offensive stuff but I think the upside is still there,” said Lee. “We just need to get better at executing and of course their kids had something to do with that.”

King Philip (2-0) will have a week off before opening league play at Franklin. Foxboro (1-1) will also have next week off and opens Davenport play the week later at North Attleboro.

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