NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coming off a big loss to division rival Stoughton, North Attleboro boys basketball head coach Sean Mulkerrins was encouraged with how his young squad bounced back on the road at Oliver Ames.
But the Rocketeers, filled with a roster still getting its feet wet at the varsity level, let a double-digit lead and a win slip through their fingers on this past Friday night against the Tigers.
Fast forward to Monday night and the Rocketeers were deadlocked with visiting Framingham, tied at halftime and again after three quarters of action inside Kenneth Pickering Gymnasium.
The growth of the young Rocketeers, even just one game later, was on display as North Attleboro dominated the final eight minutes of the contest to earn a 51-38 win over the Flyers.
“We talked a lot after the last game about playing for 32 minutes,” Mulkerrins said. “I’m proud of the guys for coming out in those final eight minutes and lock it in mentally. We’re a young group, and that’s not an excuse, but experience does count for something.
“I thought our guys made a concerted effort on the defensive end and I thought we rebounded pretty well all night. In that fourth quarter, we got the ball inside to George [Ladd] a lot, and defensively I think we did just enough.”
Junior George Ladd poured in a career-high 26 points to go along with 14 rebounds and four assists while sophomore Casey Poirier chipped in with a career-high 15 points to pace the Rocketeers. Ladd (10) and Poirier (seven) combined to score all of North Attleboro’s fourth quarter points, a frame it won 17-4.
Poirier opened the fourth by taking a pass from senior Ethan Friberg and draining his third triple of the game, having hit two in the opening quarter. A steal from junior Edan Kelley led to another three attempt from Poirier, and even though it was off the mark, Ladd battled for one of his six offensive boards for an easy putback.
Poirier used a nice take to the basket for two and Ladd followed with a two of his own off a nice post move, turning to his left to finish. Framingham sophomore Dante Kikuba snapped the Rocketeers 9-0 run with a nice finish in traffic but Ladd came right back down and scored off a feed from Kelley for a 45-36 lead.
North’s defense got another stop, forcing a turnover and turned it into points on the other end. Poirier got around his man then used a nice behind-the-back dribble and hesitation move before sinking a floater. Kelley came up with another steal on the other end, senior Josh Porter hauled in an offensive rebound and then found Ladd in the post for another bucket and a 49-36 lead with two minutes to play.
“We made an effort to get [Ladd] the ball more [in the fourth],” Mulkerrins said. “Framingham does a good job of crowding the paint and I thought early on, guys were forcing it a little and they were almost surprised there were four guys there to defend. We ran a set that we had run against them last year, we did it a little in the first half and I knew I wanted to go back to it. I was expecting a counter in the third quarter so I waited until the fourth. And we ran a lot of our offense through him.”
The Rocketeers had a lead after eight minutes of play thanks in part to three-point shooting. Despite finishing 4-for-16 from downtown in the game, North Attleboro his three of those in the opening quarter. Poirier sank his first off a feed from Ladd with 4:37 left and then his second off another pass from Ladd with 1:06 to go.
“Casey is a sophomore but he has varsity speed,” Mulkerrins said. “What’s exciting tonight is that we played against a team that is extremely disciplined at being inside the paint and I thought he made a lot of good decisions in the second half. He made plays in tight windows and knocked down some shots.”
Friberg gave the hosts a little bit of a cushion, 13-9, at the end fo the first when he sank a triple with Ladd assisting once again.
Framingham came to life in the second quarter with senior Jack Murphy draining a corner three early, and senior James Allen hitting two from deep after coming off the bench for the Flyers. Senior Sam Whiting completed a traditional three-point play and scored four straight points to push Framingham’s lead to 25-17.
Kelley had a nice up-and-under finish to keep North close. Ladd then sparked an 8-0 run to close the quarter with a layup plus the harm, Poirier sank to free throws, and Friberg converted late to make it 25-25 at the break.
In the second half, the Rocketeers’ extended their defense to a three quarter press. While it only resulted in a pair of turnovers, North was able to slow Framingham down and limited the visitors to nine points in the third and four in the fourth.
“I thought our press did a pretty good job of just taking them out of their rhythm, giving them less time,” Mulkerrins said. “[Dante Kikuba] is a sophomore, I really like his game but I thought we were able to slow him down with that press. But it was really about triggering us defensively, trying to get us more involved.”
North Attleboro boys basketball (1-2 Hockomock, 2-2 overall) is back in action on Monday when it travels to Lincoln-Sudbury for a 6:30 tip.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Attleboro scored twice in its first five plays from scrimmage but with less than a minute remaining on the clock North Attleboro (4-7) was driving with a chance to steal the 99th annual Thanksgiving Day meeting between the two neighboring rivals on the soaked grass at Community Field.
Rocketeers backup quarterback Casey Poirier, who took over from sophomore Tyler DeMattio (17 carries, 83 yards) in the fourth quarter, engineered a 15-play drive from his own 20 all the way down to the Attleboro five-yard-line.
Fellow quarterback Jason Weir pushed North back when he grabbed hold of Poirier and swung him down for a nine-yard sack back to the 14 and on third and goal junior linebacker Michael Strachan came through with a game-ending interception in the end zone, sealing a dramatic 13-7 victory for the Bombardiers.
“I think we prepared really hard for this game and I think it just goes to show, this rivalry, what it means,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan after his third win in this holiday series. “[North] played great, they’re always prepared, but this is what it’s all about.”
While Attleboro (6-5) made the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in D1 South, neither team had big postseason plans this year, so both had weeks to prepare for Thursday’s game and it took on added importance, as Weir, who won the Balfour Trophy for Offensive MVP, succinctly explained.
“It means so much,” he said. “This is our Super Bowl. It’s phenomenal.”
North was able to move the ball on its opening drives, but couldn’t finish. The Rocketeers got to the Attleboro 39 on its opening possession but a bad snap on fourth and one ended the drive, while the second possession reached the Attleboro 35 but another turnover on downs meant no points.
Attleboro had none of those problems at the start of the game. The Bombardiers went 52 yards in three plays on the their first possession and then 65 yards on two plays on their second to build a solid lead.
On the first play from scrimmage, Weir (7-of-10, 104 yards) hit Ethan Cameron (five catches, 88 yards) in stride for a 43-yard completion to the North five. Two plays later, Strachan burst through the left side for a five-yard score. After completing a 13-yard pass to Cameron to start the second drive, Weir took it himself, breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage and breaking free for a 52-yard touchdown to make it 13-0.
“That was the whole game plan, come out and throw the first punch,” said Weir. “That works against any high school team, they’re going to back down right away and that’s what we did today. Our line stepped up huge today.”
Coach Strachan said of Weir, “I think we finally put him in a situation where he could make some plays for us, make him comfortable, roll him out a little bit more, and that was good.”
The visiting Bombardiers felt like they might break the game wide open and put things away, but the North defense started to stiffen, with Tom O’Neil, Ethan Friberg, and Jacob Silva all making plays that kept Attleboro from gaining more traction offensively.
Also, the North offense finally found a way to complete a drive. The Rocketeers marched 77 yards on 11 plays to cut into the lead. DeMattio led the way, with help from Tommy Whalen and a 27-yard run up the gut by Silva. Attleboro forced fourth an 10 after pressure by Trainor Sherck and a breakup by Adam Pearlstein, but then Demattio scrambled for 12 yards to keep the possession alive.
DeMattio added 16 more on a quarterback draw to get to the Attleboro four and two plays later Jared Penta took a jet sweep over the left side for a three-yard score to make it 13-7 with a minute left before the break.
“We gave up two touchdowns in the first five plays of the game and that’s been the story of our season,” said North coach Don Johnson. “We give up too many easy ones like that and all of a sudden we have to dig out of a hole.
Johnson was asked if he changed anything defensively after Attleboro’s two quick strikes and he answered, “We played a little bit of a different front, but I don’t think that was the difference. I think we just started playing a little bit better.”
The third quarter was largely a stalemate. Weir had a sack to effectively end North’s first possession of the half and Attleboro just missed out on extending the lead when Cameron was ruled to be out of bounds on a catch in the end zone on fourth and 11.
After just missing out on the touchdown, Attleboro had a chance to break the game open two plays later. Justin Daniels tipped a DeMattio pass that was picked off by Pearlstein, setting the visitors up at the North 20. The Bombardiers managed six yards on three plays and a low snap led to a missed 31-yard field goal by Colby Briggs with 9:43 to play.
Attleboro wouldn’t see the ball again for more than nine minutes.
Starting at its own 20, North took over going into the wind and put together a drive that gave it a shot at the win. Defensive MVP Isaac Gudiel stuffed Silva (nine carries, 53 yards) for a two-yard loss to force a third and 10, but then a pass interference call gave the Rocketeers a much-needed first down.
Poirier picked out Ethan Friberg for 10 yards to the 33. After a penalty backed North up five yards, Silva gained 13 on a draw. Gudiel stuffed Silva for a loss to bring up third and 11, but Poirier again had the answer with a 12-yard pass to Whalen for another first down to the nine.
Coming out of a timeout with 1:14 to play, North drew an illegal substitution penalty that backed it up to the 14, but Penta gained nine on first and goal to get the Rocketeers up to the five. Weir came flying through on second down, dropping Poirier for a nine-yard loss and forcing North into its final timeout with 27 seconds on the clock.
On third and goal, Strachan made amends for allowing an earlier completion by jumping the route and picking off a pass two yards deep in the end zone to end the game and bring Hilda back to Attleboro.
“I was on him because he missed the play before,” joked Coach Strachan about his son’s game-clinching play, “so they ran the same route and he undercut it and it was good.”
When asked about how much winning on Thanksgiving means, Strachan added, “It’s huge. We battled injuries just like everyone else has, but this was a big game for the program. Like I said to the kids, these games mean something and these kids responded.”
Stoughton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 5 – Final – North Attleboro scored a trio of first half goals and never looked back in a big win over visiting Stoughton. Matt Mordini opened the scoring just beyond the half hour mark, putting the hosts ahead in the 31st minute off of an assist from Jeremy Folan. James Sales grabbed his first of two goals with an unassisted tally in the 39th minute and the Rocketeers deposited another tally just a minute later when Alex Pfeffer scored on a feed from Matt Conley. North added to its lead in the 48th minute when Sales finished a cross from Pfeffer. Eddy Mendoza scored his first career goal in the 74th minute, burying a free kick from 30 yards out.
Attleboro, 0 @ Mansfield, 0 – Final
Canton, 1 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Foxboro scored late in the first half to level the game and then tallied three unanswered goals in the second half to earn two points. Canton took a 1-0 lead midway through the first but sophomore Kailee McCabe found the equalizer for the Warriors with five minutes left in the first half. Lizzy Davis (from Katelyn Mollica) and Kendra Wentling each found the back of the net while McCabe bagged her second of the game with 11 minutes to go to secure the win.
Milford, 3 @ Sharon, 1 – Final
North Attleboro, 7 @ Stoughton, 1 – Final – North scored six unanswered goals to earn a big road win. Lily Cameron scored the first two goals for the Rocketeers, one assisted by Lydia Hershey and the second by Alex Moulson. Caroline Ferrin got her first career goal just before halftime to make it 3-1. After Moulson scored from the penalty spot, following a foul on Steph McKenna, Ferrin got her second career goal off a Moulson assist. Moulson got her brace before Olivia Wills rounded out the scoring off a Cameron helper. Nikki Anderson scored for Stoughton.
Oliver Ames, 3 @ Taunton, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames converted a penalty kick in the first half to take the lead and found the back of the net twice in the second half to earn a win on the road at Taunton. Abby Hodges scored from the spot to put OA up by the break. Erin Holmberg orchestrated a pair of second half goals, assisting on goals from Leah Johnson and Camryn O’Connor as OA improved to 11-2-2.
King Philip, 0 @ Franklin, 2 – Final – Franklin took the lead just past the 20-minute mark of the first half and doubled its lead early in the second half to pick up a win over visiting King Philip. With the win, the Panthers move within one point of clinching a share and two points from clinching the division crown. Amanda Lewandowski scored in the 21st minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. Freshman Kaitlyn Carney finished off a feed from Maeve Ledwith just under four minutes into the second half to make it 2-0. Neilee Hess made three saves in the win. King Philip goalie Makenzie Manning kept the Warriors in the game with 18 saves. Senior Charlotte Colella, junior Alli Beltramini, and sophomore Molly Piller all played well defensively for the Warriors.
Stoughton, 1 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final
Taunton, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 4 – Final
Sharon, 1 @ Milford, 1 – Final
Mansfield, 3 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – Mansfield went on the road and earned a 3-0 sweep (35-22, 25-19, 25-20) over Attleboro. Sam Sternburg had a strong showing for the Hornets with 12 service points and nine digs while Ashley Santos added 14 service points and six kills for Mansfield.
Foxboro, 0 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this match. – Canton defended home court in a key division battle, earning a 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-17) victory over Foxboro. Taylor Harris led the way for the Bulldogs with 16 kills and nine digs while Liz Bickett played well with seven kills and 11 digs. Both Talya DeGraw and Kiara Cerruti had strong games at the net for Canton. Despite the loss, Foxboro didn’t had a single service error. Pam Nelson (11 digs, seven service points) and Sara Addeche (two aces, five service points) led the way at the service line for Foxboro. Grace Boudreau had 12 digs, six kills, and two blocks, Shakirah Ketant added two kills and two blocks, and Kelsey Treweek finished with eight digs for the Warriors.
Stoughton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final – North Attleboro had a strong showing on Tuesday afternoon, notching a 3-0 sweep (25-6, 25-8, 25-13) win over visiting Stoughton. Hayley Gaskin dished out 22 assists in the win with Kylie Melanson (eight kills, seven aces) and Eliza Dion (seven kills) pacing the attack.
Taunton, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – Oliver Ames earned an important win at home, beating Taunton 3-0 (25-13, 25-8, 25-13) to stay just a game back of first place in the division. Sarah Morley impressed at the service line with 23 service points, including 10 aces, while adding 12 digs to pace the host Tigers. Allie Kemp handed out 22 assists, Ryley McNeeley added 10 kills, and Caroline Flynn finished with eight kills for OA.
Boys Cross Country
Attleboro, 32 @ Franklin, 19 – Final – Franklin had four of the first five runners to earn a win over Attleboro and finish 5-0 in league action, clinching the Kelley-Rex division title for the third straight season. Senior Tyler Brogan earned another win, clocking in at 16:45. Nicholas Calitri was second overall, finishing one second later at 16:46.
Results: 1. Tyler Brogan, Fra (16:45) 2. Nicholas Calitri, Fra (16:46) 3. Nathan Seybert, Att (17:04) 4. Camden Harrington, Fra (17:20) 5. Declan Walmsley, Fra (17:28) 6. Francis Wenner, Att (17:40) 7. Griffin Sieczkiewicz, Fra (17:56) 8. Ethan Sylvia, Att (17:58) 9. Neil Bowie, Att (18:06) 10. Jack Clifford, Fra (18:13)
North Attleboro, 20 @ Foxboro, 42 – Final – Foxboro’s Ryan Proulx (17:19) finished the division dual meets undefeated but North Attleboro had the next six runners cross the finish to grab a win on the road. Senior Daniel Nobrega was the top finisher for the Rocketeers in 18:00.
Results: 1. Ryan Proulx, Fox (17:19) 2. Daniel Nobrega, NA (18:00) 3. Christopher Galligan, NA (18:21) 4. Griffin Gouck, NA (18:52) 5. Casey Poirier, NA (19:00) 6. Jack MacLaughlin, NA (19:09) 7. Mark Carlson, NA (19:13) 8. Jake Parkman, Fox (19:27) 9. William Bradley, NA (19:39) 10. Nicolas Olson, Fox (19:44)
Oliver Ames, 28 @ King Philip, 31 – Final
Taunton @ Mansfield, 3:45
Sharon, 15 @ Stoughton, 50 – Final – It was a clean sweep for Sharon as its top six runners took the top six spots to secure the win and clinch the Davenport division crown. It marks the second straight year that the Eagles have won the division title. Jacob Dubin won the race for Sharon in 18:13.
Results: 1. Jacob Dubin, Sha (18:13) 2. Mark Starovoytov, Sha (18:17) 3. James Kong, Sha (18:19) 4. Bradley Weiss, Sha (18:33) 5. Jordan Saks, Sha (18:34) 6. Siddharth Reddy, Sha (18:35) 7. Balint Mihajlovits, Sha (18:53) 8. Bob Currier, Sto (18:54) 9. Alex Tao, Sha (18:55) 10. Sebastian Malek, Sto (19:28)
Girls Cross Country
Attleboro, 37 @ Franklin, 24 – Final – Attleboro earned first and third place but Franklin used its depth to claim 10 of the top 12 spots to earn the win and clinch a share of the Kelley-Rex title with a 4-1 mark. Attleboro junior Kelly Neuendorf won the race in 21:02 while Franklin senior Sarah Giuliano took second, crossing the finish line two seconds later.
Results: 1. Kelly Neuendorf, Att (21:02) 2. Sarah Giuliano, Fra (21:04) 3. Kimberley Esteban, Att (21:07) 4. Caitlin Casey, Fra (21:34) 5. Sydney Hawkins, Fra (21:40) 6. Audria Hawkins, Fra (21:40) 7. Liliana Duffy, Fra (21:53) 8. Emma Nelson, Fra (22:24) 9. Ruth Ann Mulvey, Fra (22:25) 10. Angelina Perez, Fra (22:27)
North Attleboro, 25 @ Foxboro, 34 – Final – Foxboro took first and second overall but North Attleboro had six straight cross the finish line to pick up the win. Abby Hassman won again, this time finishing in 18:50 for Foxboro. North Attleboro junior Melissa Sapini took third in 21:52.
Results: 1. Abby Hassman, Fox (18:50) 2. Jenn Yeomans, Fox (21:07) 3. Melissa Sapini, NA (21:52) 4. Shruti Srinivasan, NA (22:01) 5. Emily Manning, NA (22:04) 6. Marta Botelho, NA (22:18) 7. Olivia Forbes, NA (22:22) 8. Catherine Hanewich, NA (22:29) 9. Emily Steele, Fox (22:36) 10. Anya Doherty, Fox (23:04)
Oliver Ames, 27 @ King Philip, 28 – Final
Taunton, 32 @ Mansfield, 23 – Final – Mansfield finished the division dual meet schedule with a win over Taunton. Tessa Lancaster won the race for the Hornets with teammates Jess Alestock and Emma Lamson taking second and third, respectively.
Results: 1. Tessa Lancaster, Mans (20:30) 2. Jess Alestock, Mans (21:22) 3. Emma Lamson, Mans (21:23) 4. Lily Valcovic, Tau (21:41) 5. Livy Weber, Tau (21:51) 6. Kailey Melito-Santos, Tau (22:08) 7. Anne Riley, Mans (22:34) 8. Olivia Diaz, Tau (22:35) 9. Tatyana Mainer-Smith, Tau () 10. Devin Anderson, Mans ()
Sharon, 17 @ Stoughton, 43 – Final – Sharon had the top three runners cross the finish line and six of the top seven to beat Stoughton and clinch the Davenport division title for the first time since 2015. The trio of Daphne Theiler, Eliana Boxerman, and Juliana Dudziak led the way for Sharon once again, finishing within three seconds of each other.
Results: 1. Daphne Theiler, Sha (20:27) 2. Eliana Boxerman, Sha (20:48) 3. Juliana Dudziak, Sha (20:50) 4. Rebecca Lally, Sto (22:26) 5. Margaret Li, Sha (24:30) 6. Sierra Robinson, Sha (24:36) 7. Berta Faktorovich, Sha (24:38) 8. Elaine McCarthy, Sto (25:06) 9. Jess Maddaliena, Sto (25:12) 10. Julia Franey, Sto (25:20)
Sharon, 162 @ Canton, 145 – Final – Canton’s Mike Leonetti fired a career-best 35 to earn match medalist honors and lead the Bulldogs to a pair of wins over Sharon and King Philip. The win over Sharon gives the Bulldogs the Davenport title outright. Chris Lavoie added a 36 for Canton while Will Gefteas and Conor Hunter each fired a 37 for Canton. Sharon’s Ethan Skelly had a strong showing with a team-low 36. Eric Carter (41), Nathan Daly (42), and Will Frier (43) also scored for the Eagles.
King Philip, 161 @ Canton, 145 – Final – King Philip senior Kayla Schuberth fired a team-low 39 but the Warriors fell to Canton. Jack Hastry added a round of 40 for the Warriors while Patrick Reardon and Jared Curran each shot 41.
Taunton, 183 @ Foxboro, 170 – Final – Foxboro notched its ninth win of the season, taking down Taunton in a crossover match at Foxboro Country Club. Dylan Quinn shot a team-low 40, carding five pars in the win. Matt Fossella and Luke Davies had three pars apiece and both finished at 43 while Noah Hicks shot a 44. Taunton’s Spencer Andrews was the match medalist with a 39.
Taunton, 21 @ Oliver Ames, 6 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery of this game. 1st Quarter: (T) Trent Santos 1-yard rush, Collin Knorr XP good; (T) Kedrick Santos 25-yard interception return, C. Knorr XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (T) T. Santos 1-yard rush, C. Knorr XP good.
4th Quarter: (OA) Cam Perron 1-yard rush, XP failed.
Sharon, 0 @ North Attleboro, 35 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (NA) Tyler DeMattio 79-yard pass to Alex McCoy, Evan Vigorito XP good; (NA) A. McCoy 12-yard rush, E. Vigorito XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (NA) T. DeMattio 64-yard pass to A. McCoy, E. Vigorito XP good; (NA) Harry Bullock fumble recovery, E. Vigorito XP good.
4th Quarter: (NA) Casey Poirier 12-yard rush, E. Vigorito XP good.
Oliver Ames, 4 vs. Brockton, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames senior Erin Holmberg scored a pair of goals as the Tigers picked up their 10th win this season. Caroline Peper and Camryn O’Connor also scored for OA while Allison Evin added an assist. Emma O’Donnell posted the shutout in net for the Tigers.
Canton had its best season in recent memory a year ago, but the 2019 squad is aiming to take it one step further.
With starters back at almost every position, Canton is aiming to defend its Davenport division title and get back to the sectional final for the second straight season. Johnny Hagan is back under center this season and has all of his weapons back. The Bulldogs ran a mix of Wing-T and spread offense a year ago so Hagan is comfortable running whatever is needed this year. Kyle Fitzgerald, Gersom Rivera, and Cam Sanchez are all talented backs that can help grind down opposing defenses while Hagan makes a lot of plays with his feet as well. Jace Emma was one of Hagan’s favorite targets last year and he will be joined by David Allen as options in the passing game. The offensive line will be anchored by senior Jack Connolly, who missed a good amount of last season with an injury. Matt Connolly, Derrell Brown, and Lucas Bryant return to the line as well while Carson Campbell and Brandon Baran are in the mix for the final spot.
A lot of the same names will make plays on the defensive end as well with Jack Connolly and Matt Connolly teaming up with Nnamdi Onyemelukwe to provide size on the line. The strength of the defense will once again be with the linebackers as the Bulldogs have James Murphy back in the middle alongside junior Lucas Ragusa. Owen Lehane and Robbie Gallery both had strong seasons coming from the outside. The entire secondary is back for the Bulldogs with Rivera and Sanchez handle the corners and Fitzgerald and Allen provide physicality from the safety spots. And for special teams, Lehane handles kicking duties, Allen returns as the punter, and Rivera and Fitzgerald handle return duties. The Bulldogs will look to build some depth with so many two-way players in the lineup.
“We have a lot of experience with a lot of guys that have played at this level, and we had the playoff run so that should definitely help us down the road,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “We are focused on Dighton-Rehoboth, focusing on one game at a time. We have a lot of competitors that don’t quit.”
Foxboro’s biggest win of the season came in its final game, a thrilling overtime win over rival Mansfield at Fenway Park two days before Thanksgiving. If the Warriors are able to carry any of that momentum into the 2019 season, Foxboro will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport division title.
The Warriors return a good amount of talent from last year but will need to find a replacement for Liam Foley, who came on strong at the end of last season. Senior Shayne Kerrigan and junior Cam Prescott have both taken reps this preseason so longtime coach Jack Martinelli and his staff will have two good options to work with under center. Last year’s leading rusher Mike Luong also graduated so there will be an opportunity for someone to take on carries out of the backfield. The Warriors have good skill options in Brian Derba (three touchdown catches last year) and split ends Elijah Lewis and Ryan Hughes. Foxboro has some experience on the line as well as Zach Jenkins and Aidan Dow are both returning starters at the guard position.
Foxboro’s defense has returning players at all three levels so the Warriors will likely rely on that side of the ball, especially early on against two strong non-league foes. Anton George, a HockomockSports Hock 5 selection for defensive line, is back and will be a force to deal with for opponents. Austin Read will be key in Foxboro’s run defense from the defensive tackle spot. Mike Sheehan returns to anchor the linebackers group after a standout junior season. The secondary should be one of the top units in the league with a lot of experienced playmakers. Derba and Kerrigan made a lot of plays defensively last year and Michael Devlin could be poised for a big year for the Warriors.
“With a challenging scrimmage schedule and formidable non-league opponents, we should be prepared for the Hock grind,” Martinelli said “We have several key components returning to make this possible, but it’s one game at a time.”
Milford just missed out on the playoffs last season but the 2019 Scarlet Hawks are determined to get back to postseason play.
There is a lot of experience on both sides of the ball, and maybe most importantly, at key positions both offensively and defensively. The Hawks have Colby Pires back at quarterback after a big junior season that saw him toss 22 touchdowns, second most in the Hockomock League. But the challenge will be developing chemistry with a brand new set of receivers. Brendan White (12), Sean Lehane (5), and Shapel Feaster (5) all graduated so Milford is looking for new names to step up and make plays offensively. Junior Carter Scudo is a terrific athlete and will be one of the top options while Max Martin, Matt Varteresian, Herrick Louis, Kevin O’Connor, and Xavier Hilton are all battling to get reps on the field. Milford does bring back its leading rusher in Luke Rosa (seven rushing touchdowns), a very powerful back that will help the Hawks pound the ball. Juniors Nick Yohn, Dom Schofield, Mario Lee, and Dom Stallbaum provide a physical yet athletic offensive line.
The linebackers will be the heart of the Hawks’ defense this season. CJ Cerrella had a breakout junior year and will be on the top linebackers in the Hockomock League this season. He will be joined by Rosa, Louis, and O’Connor. A lot of the offensive line will see action on the defensive side of the ball as well while Scudo returns as a top defensive back at the safety position. Look for Martin, Varteresian, and Hilton to factor into the secondary as well for Milford this season.
“We have a very focused, determined, and excited team this season,” said head coach Anthony Vizakis. “They are a hard working group of guys with their eyes on one goal, one mission, and they are determined to do it together.”
The Rocketeers have won four straight league titles, the last three in the Davenport division, and will be looking to make it five straight this year.
If North Attleboro does make it five straight, they will need some new players to step up into new roles to do so. The Big Red graduated a lot of talent in almost every position but the Rocketeers are a program that doesn’t rebuild, they reload. The strength of the offensive will start with the offensive line as there are three returning starters. Ethan Mottinger (6’6, 294), who committed to UMass over the offseason, and John Kummer (5’11, 256) man the tackle positions while Ethan Friberg (6’5, 252) adds additional protection from the tight end position. Senior Casey Poirier, junior Matt Penta, and sophomore Tyler DeMattio are locked in a healthy battle at quarterback with each bringing a unique skill set to the offense. North lost almost all of its skill position players but there are a variety of versatile junior backs battling for time. Friberg, Russell Dunlap, and Robbie Donovan will be options in the passing game.
The strong suit of the Rocketeers’ defense will be in the front seven with several returning lineman and senior captain Tom O’Neill anchoring the linebackers. Friberg will be on one end while Montrel Jackson will see time at the other defensive end position. Kummer is joined by Trevor Hewett at defensive tackle to give North a strong, experienced defensive line. Owen Harding and Jacob Silva are in the mix to join O’Neill at linebacker while North will look for some new names to step up in its secondary alongside Jared and Matt Penta. DeMattio returns as the kicker after a standout freshmen campaign (32-for-35 PAT, 3-for-4 field goals).
“We will need to find a way to stay healthy and quickly develop some depth,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “With the inexperience in the skill positions, we expect there to be some early growing pains, but we are hopeful that the great attitude and work ethic that has been displayed in the preseason will help us overcome the lack of experience.”
Sharon might not have as many players as some of the other programs in the league and might not match up in terms of size, but the Eagles have plenty of fight and are looking to showcase that this year.
The Eagles are going to look to capitalize on their team speed this year. Junior Nic Morrero was strong on both sides of the ball last season and will likely feature in the backfield this season for the Eagles. John Saab is another returning play that should pick up carries for the Eagles this year. Junior Kiran Chadrasekaran looks set to take over under center for the Eagles and will have a couple of experienced players to work with in senior receiver Alec Filipkowski and junior tight end Ike Ogbonnanze while junior receiver Owen Conway will likely see an expanded role this season.
Senior Jaden Williams-Thomas returns to anchor both the offensive and defensive lines and will be joined by junior Shea Letendre. Williams-Thomas will handle defensive tackle duties and should be a big part of the Eagles’ defense this year. Marrero anchors the linebackers alongside Saab and Ogbonnanze while Filipkowski and Conway will see time in the secondary.
“We have a great group of relentless players that have the right attitude and understand that they have a ton to prove,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Stoughton didn’t have the season it wanted in terms of record, but the Black Knights were competitive in just about every game last year and are hoping to get back in the hunt for the Davenport crown this year.
Despite finishing 4-7, Stoughton beat both Davenport champions in North Attleboro (21-10) and Canton (28-7 on Thanksgiving) during the year. If the Black Knights are able to string together those type of performances throughout the year, they will definitely be competing for their first division crown since 2015. Offensively, Stoughton has a good battle at quarterback with junior John Burke and senior Clayton Rahaman. Both saw time last year so head coach Greg Burke has two experienced options to start under center. The offensive line should be a strength for Stoughton with a good group of seniors that includes Oluwole Fabikun, Jaden McCall, Carlvin LaGuerre, and Jerry Brisson. Having a strong and experienced line will set things up nicely for the Black Knights strong run game, which will feature Savion Scott, Christopher Ais, and Christian Ais. Tight end Anthony Pizzano, junior Jake Queeney, and track star David Peters will provide options in the pass game.
Stoughton is often known for its defense and will be looking for that to continue during the 2019 season. Kelven Rodrigues will be a big part of the defensive line for the Black Knights, joined by Brisson, LaGuerre, and Fabikun. Georges had a very strong season on the end last season but will mostly line up as a linebacker this year, alongside Scott and Christopher Ais. Stoughton will have a hard hitting secondary once again this season with Burke, Pizzano, Christian Ais and Kamari Grant all likely to see time.
“We hope to stay healthy and be competitive in the league, all of our athletes improved their strength and conditioning,” Burke said. “We have many juniors also playing and will be a big part of the team. We will need help from all players and try to improve depth.”