Dominant Defensive Effort Boosts Rocketeers Again


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North Attleboro’s Nick Rajotte rushes in the second half against rival Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

Click here for a photo gallery from the game.
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – There’s really no other way to put it — North Attleboro’s defense is very good.
Just ask Stoughton, Bishop Feehan King Philip, Franklin and now, Attleboro.
The Rocketeers walked into Tozier-Cassidy Field at Attleboro High undefeated and walked out with a 14-0 shutout win over the rival Bombardiers.
Through five games this season, the Rocketeers have yet to allow more than one touchdown in any given game and only Feehan was able to put up two scores. The defense has allowed a measly 5.6 points per game now.
Unsurprisingly, it was the Rocketeers defense that got things started on both sides of the ball.
After the teams traded punts, Attleboro took over in North Attleboro territory. Facing a 1st and 16 from the 43 yard line, junior quarterback Tyler McGovern dropped back and fired a pass but North Attleboro senior Patrick Johnson read the play the entire way. Johnson stepped in front of the pass and intercepted it in stride and raced 65 yards untouched for a touchdown. Connor Flynn’s extra point was good giving North Attleboro a 7-0 lead with 6:32 left in the first quarter.
It was the fourth pick six for the Rocketeers through five games this year and Johnson was the third different player to do so.
“I think our guys up front have to get some credit,” North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson said of the secondary’s success thus far. “I think we’ve done a good job of pressuring quarterbacks all year and forcing some quick throws. We’ve got a pretty smart group out there in our secondary so that helps.”
North Attleboro’s defense didn’t rest there and came right back out with a big stand. Attleboro gained three yards on first down on the ensuing drive but couldn’t move the ball on the next two and were forced to punt for the second time of the game.
Click here for a photo gallery from the game.
The Rocketeers offense then went to work with its most efficient drive of the game. On first down, junior Bobby Mylod (seven carries, 54 yards) raced up the left side for 24 yards and a first down. Sophomore quarterback Chad Peterson (8/12, 66 yards) kept it on the next play for four more and on second down, Nick Rajotte (three carries, 38 yards) came across to the right side and scampered for a 30 yard touchdown. Flynn’s extra point was good, giving the Rocketeers a 14-0 lead with 4:17 left in the first quarter.
Although it looked like the floodgates might open for the Rocketeers, neither North Attleboro or Attleboro was able to tack anymore points onto the scoreboard.
Attleboro senior Kyle Murphy put a stop to North’s next drive, dropping Mylod for a four yard loss on third and short but the Bombardiers went four and out. The Rocketeers moved the ball but couldn’t covert a 3rd and six and gave the ball back to Attleboro.
McGovern hit sophomore Cam Furtado for 15 yards on first down to get the drive going but a rush for no gain and then a false start put Attleboro in a hole. On 3rd and 15, North Attleboro’s Brodey Barr broke up a pass to set up a punt. Instead of a long punt, North Attleboro’s Davon Andrade broke through and blocked the punt. Junior Tom Reynolds was able to haul in the ball in the air and North took over at the Attleboro 32 yard line.
North converted a 4th and 2 when Peterson connected with Barr over the middle for 20 yards, setting up 1st and goal from the 5 yard line but there was only five seconds left in the half. The Rocketeers elected to run a play but a low pass fell incomplete and the final seconds of the first half ticked off.
“We’re struggling a little bit to finish drives so we’re making things a little more difficult on ourselves,” Johnson said. “We’re getting better. I think we moved the ball on the ground as well as we have all year tonight, I think it was the most yardage all year. We just have to be better at finishing. We took a chance at the end of the half, we thought we had enough time for the play and the field goal. Maybe if there wasn’t some indecision on if it was a catch maybe there’s a second. We’re getting there. Thankfully the defense is playing well and keeping us in these close games.”
Click here for a photo gallery from the game.
Attleboro came up with a big stop to open the second half as North Attleboro attempted to go for it on 4th and 1 but Matt Mahoney jumped in and stopped the play in the backfield. The Bombardiers came out and went with Furtado as the quarterback of the second half and moved the ball the most efficiently all night.
Furtado used quarterback runs on the first three downs to get a first down and then floated one that senior Alex Silva went up and grabbed for a 25 yard gain inside the red zone. But the momentum would stop there.
Furtado rushed for three yards but Reynolds and Nicholas Thorpe stopped Furtado for no gain on second down. An incomplete pass set up 4th and 7 from the 16 and Furtado tossed one to the end zone but it was over the head of Brendan Nunes and the Bombardiers turned it over on downs.
The Rocketeers were able to kill a lot of clock on the next drive, moving the ball 65 yards on 13 plays. Peterson’s (four rushes, 25 yards) eight yard gain was followed by backup quarterback Kyle McCarthy (six rushes, 21 yards) coming in for a rush of nine yards. Peterson hit Ridge Olsen on back to back plays for 11 yards each time and, after a six yard rush from Nick Morrison (16 carries, 86 yards), Peterson hit Olsen for six more yards and a first down. Rushes from Rajotte and McCarthy combined for 17 yards but after an incompletion and a short gain, North faced 3rd and 7.
Thats when Owen McKenna came crashing in, sacking Peterson for a 5 yard loss. Flynn attempted a 36 yard field goal but it came up short.
Attleboro had to punt once again after going four and out but the defense held and got the ball back four plays later. On 3rd and 10, Attleboro moved forward via a hands to the face call. Nick Morrison came in for a sack on the next play but two plays later, McGovern hit Silva down the right side for 36 yards to the 10 yard line.
But once again, it was North Attleboro’s defense that came up big. Two incompletions were followed by a sack from Andrade, and on fourth and goal from the 27 yard line, the pass fell incomplete. North Attleboro was able to run the clock out the rest of the way.
Attleboro’s quarterbacks combined for just five completions on 21 attempts, which is a combination of a strong secondary and the players up front for North Attleboro.
“It allows us to man up and then we can bring more people if you’re matched up man to man,” Johnson said of having a strong secondary. “Sometimes you don’t have that luxury because you have some mismatches out there. Brodey gives us some length out there too.”
North Attleboro finished with nearly triple the yards in the game (282-100) and just under triple the first downs (15-6).
“We just couldn’t get into a rhythm,” Attleboro head coach Mike Strachan said. “We fought though, this was a tough game up front, it was really a battle up front all day long. We just couldn’t get anything going. Offensively we have to look at the film and see what we can improve on. Next week becomes a huge game for us, really the playoffs start for us next week.
“We have to learn from these games.”
North Attleboro is now 5-0 overall and have the lead in the Kelley-Rex division at 3-0. The Rocketeers will look to continue its strong start next week when they host Taunton. Attleboro (2-3, 1-2) will look to bounce back when they take a trip to King Philip (2-1, 2-3) next Friday night.
Click here for a photo gallery from the game.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Football: 2015 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Attleboro

2014 Record: 4-7
2014 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Strachan
Key/Returning Players: Kyle Murphy, Sr., OT/DT, 6-4, 275 lbs.; Brendan Nunes, Sr., WR/CB, 6-0, 175 lbs.; Tyler McGovern, Jr., QB, 6-3, 190 lbs.; John Burns, Sr., FB/OLB, 5-9, 165 lbs.; Alex Silva, Sr., TE/DE, 5-11, 185 lbs.
Outlook: The Bombardiers come into this season hoping to regain some of the magic of their 2013 run to the Div. 1 South final and doing it while replacing last year’s starting backfield and leading receiver. The reason for optimism in Attleboro is the return of senior lineman Kyle Murphy, who has emerged as a legit FBS prospect and one of the top players on the line in the state. Head coach Mike Strachan told ESPNBoston.com, “He’s got very good feet for a kid that big. We’re looking for some great things from him this season.”
In addition, junior quarterback Tyler McGovern is back under center for his second season, after splitting time with Ross Killion in 2014. McGovern has the size at 6-foot-3 and also has the arm to be a major weapon in the offense and try to make up for some of the lost production from the graduating running backs. McGovern’s growth at QB will be crucial for Attleboro. Strachan said, “He’s got a very quick release, and he’s worked on his feet all offseason. We need him to help get us back to that level we were at two years ago.”
Brendan Nunes is one of the receivers that Attleboro is hoping can turn into a primary target along with senior tight end Alex Silva, although there are question marks about who can become the No. 1 back to take pressure off McGovern and the passing game.
Defense should be a strength for the Bombardiers, who bring back almost all of last year’s starters. Murphy can dominate the line of scrimmage and forces double teams and game plans that can open space for his teammates. John Burns and the linebacking corps will be hoping to take advantage of that extra room to make plays.

Franklin

2014 Record: 5-6
2014 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Sidwell
Key/Returning Players: Ben Riggs SR. 6-3, 300,OL/DL; Joe Giacolone SR 6-2, 270, OL/DL; Nick Yelle SR. 5-9, 180, LB/RB; Luke Gordon SR. 6-1, 175, WR/DB; Sam Harrell SR. 6-0, 180, WR/DB; Jake Lyons JR. 5-10, 190, RB/DB; Tyler Gomes JR. 6-1, 210, FB/DE; Brad Jarosz JR QB; Will O’Reilly SR. WR/DB; Eddie Scannapieco WR/DB
Outlook: The Panthers come into 2015 lacking varsity experience in a lot of places, but with more depth at the skill positions and improved play at the line of scrimmage that has head coach Brad Sidwell entering his 20th season with hopes of getting Franklin into the tournament after back-to-back 5-6 seasons. He said, “Not a lot of experience, but many have been progressing through the sub varsity programs.[We] will play physical football.”
The Panthers will be starting a new quarterback this season with junior Brad Jarosz expected to take over under center and he will have plenty of weapons to use in Franklin’s typically up-tempo offense. Nick Yelle will be in the backfield along with Jake Lyons, while Sam Harrell, Will O’Reilly, Luke Gordon and Eddie Scannapieco are all back on the outside. The offensive line is improved, according to Sidwell, although it may lack depth in case of injuries. Ben Riggs and Joe Giacolone are two-way linemen that can be dominant on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, Franklin will hope that the skill position players continue to develop into strong players in the secondary, while counting on junior defensive end Tyler Gomes to continue his emergence as a strong presence in the pass rush. Franklin will be counting on the opening games against Arlington and Milford to prepare it for the battles to come in the Kelley-Rex Division.
Sidwell said, “Looking forward to working with this group, hard working and great attitude. Getting off to a good start and gaining confidence will be important.”

King Philip

2014 Record: 10-1
2014 Finish: Reached D2 South final
Coach: Brian Lee
Key/Returning Players: John DeLuca, Jr. QB; Bill Dittrich, Sr. OL/DL; James Cooke, Sr. OL/DL; Cory Lombardo, Sr. LB; Nick Bernier Garzon, Sr. DL; Steven Eaton, Sr. RB; R.J. McCarthy, Sr. WR/DB, Giovanni Fernandez, Jr. RB
Outlook: King Philip is coming off its first outright league title and a trip to the Div. 2 South final where it gave eventual state champion Marshfield one of its toughest games of the season. The Warriors are a team based on ball control offense and hard-nosed defense and despite losing a strong core from last year’s squad, head coach Brian Lee will ensure that KP remains a tough team to play against even with a host of young players.
Quarterback John Deluca returns for his junior season, but without some of the weapons that were so prolific from last year including HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Mark Glebus and wideout Kyle Loewen. Senior running back Steven Eaton will take most of the carries and is hoping to develop some of the explosiveness that made Glebus such a weapon last year. Junior Gio Fernandez also saw some carries last year and is a load at running back, especially in short-yardage situations. Senior R.J. McCarthy is a player to watch at receiver.
The offensive and defensive lines remain a strength for KP with Bill Dittrich and James Cooke returning. Nick Bernier Garzon will also help out on the line, but the key to the defense is senior middle linebacker Cory Lombardo who will be the leader and continues the pattern of strong linebackers at KP.
If the offense can find a groove and the young players develop quickly, KP will have its sights set on a second straight Hockomock title. But, as Lee said, there are “a lot of rookies out there.”

Mansfield

2014 Record: 6-5
2014 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Redding
Key/Returning Players: Diogo Desousa, Jr. K/DE, 5-11, 182 lbs.; Connor Finerty, Sr. RB/LB, 5-11, 200 lbs.; Anthony DeGirolamo, Jr. QB/DB, 5-11, 165 lbs.; Ben Wisnieski, Sr. RB/DB, 5-10, 160 lbs.; Hunter Ferreira, Jr. WR/DB, 6-1, 185 lbs.; Brian Lynch, Jr. RB/DB, 5-8, 170 lbs.; Nick Krouskos, Jr. FB/LB, 5-9, 175 lbs.; Mike Arnold, Sr. TE/DE, 6-1, 205 lbs.; Josh Schafer, Jr. OL/DL, 6-2, 230 lbs.; Matt Kashtan, Sr. OG/NG, 5-8 195 lbs.; Joe Bukuras, Jr. RB/DB, 5-9, 160 lbs.; A.J. Gibbs, Jr. OL/DL, 5-11, 270 lbs.
Outlook: Mansfield enters the season with plenty of depth on both sides of the ball, as the Hornets try to regain the Kelley-Rex Division crown they lost to King Philip in an injury-plagued 2014 season. Head coach Mike Redding, entering his 28th year in charge, is expecting to learn quite a bit about his team with St. John’s Prep, Haverhill, KP, and Attleboro to start the season. Redding noted, “We will need to be hitting on all cylinders for those key games early.”
“Overall, we’re on the young side and a little undersized, but very talented at skill positions and we have very good overall team strength and good team chemistry and leadership,” said Redding.
Mansfield will be making a change under center with junior Anthony Girolamo taking over and his task will be made a little easier by the talented backfield of senior Connor Finerty and junior Brian Lynch, who is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign that saw him rush for eight touchdowns and more than 800 yards. In addition, the Hornets have talent on the edges with receivers Ben Budwey and Hunter Ferreira and athletic tight end Mike Arnold. Junior Josh Schafer will be a player to watch on the line.
Finerty headlines the defensive unit as the outside linebacker and leader on that side of the ball. He will be joined by Ferreira and Anthony Keefe on the outside with Nick Krouskos, Travis Sjoberg, and Nick Martin in the middle. The real strength of the defense could lie in the secondary with all four starters returning and plenty of depth behind them. Joe Bukuras and Connor Driscoll are the corners with Ben Budwey and Ben Wisnieski at safety. Special teams will also be strong with returning kicker Diogo DeSousa, who Redding calls “one of the best kickers” he has had in his time with the Hornets.

North Attleboro

2014 Record: 8-3
2014 Finish: Reached D3 Southwest Quarterfinal
Coach: Don Johnson
Key/Returning Players: Connor Flynn, Sr. K/RB/LB; Nick Morrison, Sr. RB/LB; Bobby Mylod, Jr. RB/LB; Nick Rajotte, Jr. RB/DB; Brodey Barr, Sr. QB/DB; Kyle McCarthy, Jr. QB/DB; Ridge Olsen, Sr. WR/DB; Kyle Gaumond, Sr. WR/DB; Patrick Johnson, Sr. RB/WR/DB; Andy Katch, Sr. OL/DL; Joe Flaherty, Sr. OL; Brendan Nally, Jr. OL; Alex Dion, Sr. OL; Josh Morrison, Sr. OL/DL; Sam Morrison, Sr. OL/DL; Tom Reynolds, Jr. OL/DL; Davon Andrade, Sr. TE/DL
Outlook: After a stunning home loss to Medfield in the opening round of the Div. 3 Southwest playoffs last fall, North Attleboro returns a number of skill position players with hopes of making a run at the Kelley-Rex Division title.
The backfield is loaded with seniors Connor Flynn, who averaged 12.1 yards per carry until a wrist injury kept him out, and Nick Morrison providing steady hands and downhill running while being pushed by the explosive duo of juniors Nick Rajotte and Bobby Mylod, who combined for 13 touchdowns last season. Head coach Don Johnson said of his running backs, “All four backs are versatile and can play multiple positions.” On the outside, North boasts plenty of size at wideout with 6-foot-5 senior Ridge Olsen on one side and Kyle Gaumond on the other.
The biggest question mark is who will be getting the ball to those skill position players? There has been a three-way battle at quarterback during the preseason between senior Brodey Barr, who saw some time under center last year and was primarily a runner, athletic junior Kyle McCarthy, and sophomore Chad Peterson. Johnson explained, “We could use them all, but it might depend more upon how things shake out at other positions, particularly on defense. All three are competitive athletes that can help us in other spots.”
Defensively, North has loads of depth on the line if not loads of experience. Senior twins Josh and Sam Morrison will split time along with senior Davon Andrade and senior defensive tackle Andy Katch, The linebacking corps features Mylod in the middle with Flynn and Nick Morrison on the outside. In the secondary, Gaumond, Barr, Rajotte, Olsen, McCarthy, and Patrick Johnson will all be in the mix depending on match-ups.

Taunton

2014 Record: 2-9
2014 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chris Greding
Key/Returning Players: Brian Cherenfant, RB/DB; Jake Norberto, OL; Santiago Lopez, OL; Jason DaRosa, RB; Damion Theodule, DB; Matt Grey, LB; Jared Williams, DL; Tanner Costa, RB/DB; Lazare Joseph, RB; Adam McLaughlin, WR; Connor Briggs, OL; Nick Brown, DL; Sylvester English, DL; Zakeem Harrow, DL; John Chretien, LB; Breven Walker, DB; Amir Rehim, LB

Outlook: The Tigers are coming off a 2-9 season and will have a new quarterback under center, but head coach Chris Greding is counting on his depth on the line and at the skill positions and overall team speed to get Taunton in the mix in the division.
Senior Brain Cherenfant is one of the fastest players in the league and gives the Tigers a weapon both on offense and in special teams. He will be joined in the backfield by Jason DeRosa, Lazare Joseph and Coyle transfer Tanner Costa, giving Taunton a number of weapons. Adam McLaughlin will be a player to watch at wideout.
The line has also been strengthened with Jake Norberto and Santiago Lopez coming back on the offensive side of the ball and Jared Williams on defense. Connor Briggs will be another player to keep an eye on opening holes for the backs, while the defensive line is bolstered by Florida transfer Sylvester English, Texas transfer Nick Brown, and Boston transfer Zakeem Harrow. The linebacking corps includes Matt Grey and John Chretien, while Breven Walker, Cherenfant and Costa will all play bog roles in the secondary.