CANTON, Mass. – For three and a half quarters, the Canton defense was having its way against the Stoughton offense.
The Bulldogs forced the Black Knights to punt on each of their first seven drives, holding the visitors to negative yards on three of those drives. Stoughton had just one first down early on in the fourth quarter.
But with just under six minutes to go, Stoughton’s offense finally clicked. The Knights cut a 14-point deficit in half with 5:34 to go, and got the ball back down just one score with 1:56 to play.
A big pass play set the Black Knights up in striking distance, but the Bulldogs defense, as it had for the majority of the game, came up with a stop with under 30 seconds to play.
On fourth down, Canton junior Robbie Gallery tracked down Stoughton quarterback John Burke for a sack, preserving a 14-7 win for the Bulldogs.
“I didn’t feel comfortable until Robbie made that play at the end,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “It reminded me of that 2014 game when [Stoughton] drove down the field and won it at the end. Robbie made the play, and he played great. This year, it seems like another kid steps up each game and it was Robbie’s week.”
Canton’s defense did a nice job bottling up Stoughton’s rushing attack. The furthest the Black Knights for prior to its final two drives was 10 yards over midfield — its lone time into Canton territory through three quarters.
A sack from Owen Lehane on first down forced Stoughton starting quarterback George Currier to the sideline. Burke, a sophomore, took over under center and the Knights had one of their biggest plays of the night — a 22-yard reverse from Ajahn Rue — to spark the offense.
After Rue’s run, sophomore Christopher Ais took a sweep and went for 19 yards to get into the red zone. After Canton’s defense stuffed a rush attempt, Burke floated one to the near pylon on the right side and senior Alex Iverson did a nice job fighting through contact and getting a foot down to get the Knights on the board, down 14-7.
Canton’s offense did its best to run time off the block with quarterback Johnny Hagan (5/9, 44 yards; 21 carries 121 yards) converting a third down with his legs. But a sack on the next play from Stoughton’s Jerry Brisson put the Dogs in a long distance scenario. Canton gained eight yards on the next to plays but had to punt with two minutes to go.
Stoughton’s final drive got off to a rocky start when Canton senior Ben Seaman (two sacks) came on a blitz from the blind side, taking Burke down for a loss of 7 yards.
But the Black Knights made things interesting on the next play as Burke lofted one down the left sideline and Rue used his speed to get under it for a 45-yard catch, down to the Canton 30-yard line with 1:09 to play.
But that’s when Canton’s defense came through again. A pass and catch from Burke to Ais was stopped at the line of scrimmage on first down, Burke was forced to throw it away on second down, and a pass over the middle was short on third down.
On fourth down, Burke was able to buy some time by getting out of the pocket but Gallery came flying in to make the tackle.
It was an impressive showing for the Bulldogs defense, which allowed a total of 122 yards while holding the Knights to 0-for-8 on third down. And they did almost all of it without junior linebacker James Murphy, who Bohane called the quarterback of the defense.
“Defense was the story for us,” Bohane said. “Murphy is our linchpin on defense so for our kids to play the bulk of the game without him, they were impressive. All the other key guys really stepped up like Brian Campagna, Brendan Albert, Ben Seaman, and of course Robbie Gallery, who kind of filled into Murphy’s shoes. I’m proud of them to keep plugging away, they are a resilient group.”
Stoughton’s defense also had a strong showing, forcing the Bulldogs to punt on six times and holding off another drive as the first half came to a close.
However, Canton’s offense was able to find the end zone twice — both on eight play, 65-yard drives.
After punting on its first drives, the Dogs moved the sticks when Hagan connected with Jace Emma for 11 yards. Hagan followed that with a 20-yard scramble on a broken play, and Gersom Rivera had runs of 10 and 23-yards, the latter converting a third down and getting the Dogs down to the 1-yard line.
Hagan took it in from there, following his line in for a 1-yard sneak and a 7-0 lead with 7:23 left in the first quarter.
Stoughton’s best drive of the opening half went for 41 yards, all on a run from Iverson. But an incomplete pass and two runs that netted no yards stopped the Black Knights from advancing.
Canton’s defense picked up where it left off, forcing Stoughton backward on its opening drive of the second half. After a three-and-out, Canton took over at its own 35-yard line and orchestrated what turned out to be the winning drive.
Hagan moved the sticks with a run of his own, connected with Ryan Lentol on second down, got a first down on a Stoughton penalty, and then finished the drive with three straight runs from different players: Rivera for 8, Hagan for 12, and Kyle Fitzgerald with a 9-yard touchdown run.
“We’ve been able to shift gears on offense,” Bohane said. “Some teams have been able to take away something we’ve been doing, and no one is better at that than [Stoughton] Coach [Greg] Burke. He’s going to take away what you do well. It was a game of just constantly finding a way.”
Canton football (5-0 overall, 3-0 Hockomock) is back in action on Friday when it hosts Sharon. Stoughton (2-3, 1-2) hits the road to take on North Attleboro at Beaupre Field.
Milford, 7 @ Attleboro, 21 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery of this game. 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (A) Jason Weir 16-yard pass to Ethan Cameron, Colby Briggs XP good.
3rd Quarter: (A) J. Weir 1-yard rush, C. Briggs XP good.
4th Quarter: (A) Justin Cote 33-yard rush, C. Briggs XP good. (M) Lucas Rosa 1-yard rush, Sean Lehane XP good.
Canton, 25 @ Dighton-Rehoboth, 20 – Final 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (DR) 2-yard rush, XP good; (DR) 10-yard rush, XP good.
3rd Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 24-yard pass to Jace Emma, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (C) J. Hagan 30-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed; (C) Gersom Rivera 3-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed; (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 5-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good. (DR) 5-yard rush, XP failed.
Foxboro, 6 vs. Hingham, 22 – Final 1st Quarter: (H) Charlie Egan 8-yard rush, Jonathan Bearden 2pt rush.
2nd Quarter: (H) Jack Johnson 11-yard pass to Kevin Shea, C. Egan 2pt rush; (F) Liam Foley 32-yard pass to Rob Fay, 2pt conversion failed.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (H) J. Bearden 9-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed.
Franklin, 34 vs. Andover, 10 – Final 1st Quarter: (A) Field goal good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Sean Hofferty 1-yard rush, Parker Chevront XP good; (F) Nick Gordon 1-yard rush, P. Chevront XP good; (F) Austin Jordan 44-yard interception return, P. Chevront XP good.
3rd Quarter: (A) 1-yard rush, XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) N. Gordon 66-yard rush, P. Chevront XP good; (F) Jack Nally 4-yard rush, P. Chevront XP good.
Mansfield, 21 @ BC High, 7 – Final – Click here for a recap of this game. 1st Quarter: (M) Damani Scott 18-yard pass to Nick Marciano, Nico Holmes XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (BCH) Jacob Perez 12-yard rush, XP good; (M) Cincere Gill 18-yard rush, N. Holmes XP good; (M) C. Gill 4-yard rush, N. Holmes XP good.
Oliver Ames, 19 @ Concord-Carlisle, 20 – Final 1st Quarter: (OA) Cam Perron 20-yard pass to Nathan Cabral, C. Perron XP good; (OA) N. Cabral 12-yard rush, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (CC) Christian Gemeli 17-yard rush, XP failed; (CC) C. Gemeli 27-yard pass to Cam Ladd, XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (CC) C. Ladd 20-yard rush, XP failed; (OA) C. Perron pass to Shane Kilkelly, 2pt conversion failed.
Sharon, 7 @ Nauset, 6 – Final 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (S) Aaron Strong 25-yard rush, Mitchell Director XP good.
4th Quarter: (N) 50-yard pass, XP failed.
Stoughton, 43 @ Framingham, 22 – Final 1st Quarter: (S) Jeff Grier 86-yard rush, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (S) Chris Ais 10-yard rush, Malachi Green-Hightower 2pt rush; (F) Jack Beverly 41-yard pass to RJ Viele, J. Beverly 2pt pass to Dante Marino.
3rd Quarter: (S) J. Grier 5-yard rush, M. Green-Higtower 2pt rush; (S) Anthony Burke 20-yard pass to J. Grier, Josh Cocchi XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) J. Beverly 29-yard to Gabe Paixao, J. Beverly 2pt pass to R. Viele; (S) M. Green-Higtower 1-yard rush, J. Cocchi XP good; (S) J. Cocchi 25-yard interception return, J. Cocchi XP good. (F) Reece LaChance 5-yard rush, 2pt failed.
Taunton, 7 @ New Bedford, 6 – Final 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (NB) Latrell Canto 10-yard rush, XP failed.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (T) Noah Leonard 65-yard pass to Brayden Merrill, Coby Adams XP good.
Milford, 2 @ Franklin, 1 – Final – Milford junior Walisson de Oliveira scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner with under 10 minutes to go, to lift the Hawks to a win on the road. de Oliveira opened the scoring off an assist from Anthony Salvador but Franklin freshman Terry O’Neill tied the game just before halftime. de Oliveira scored the unassisted game-winner with seven minutes to play.
Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 2 – Final – King Philip sophomore Camron Lawrence bagged a brace to lead the Warriors to their first win of the season. After Zac White drew a foul at the top of the box, Lawrence placed his shot back post to put KP up 1-0. With Sharon pushing numbers late to tie it, KP intercepted a pass and Lawrence was able to place a shot into the empty net to seal the deal in the 78th minute.
Mansfield, 4 vs. Dartmouth, 1 – Final – Mansfield senior Luke Savoie scored a hat trick for the second straight game as the Hornets dispatched of visiting Dartmouth. Junior Owen Mullahy opened the scoring for the Hornets just two minutes into the game, finishing off a free kick from Derek Meuth. The Hornets doubled their lead when Savoie scored off a long throw from Cam Eddy. Dartmouth cut the deficit to one at half but Mansfield added two more in the second half. Savoie headed in a feed from Ethan Brill-Cass and completed the hat trick with seven minutes to go, scoring off Tommy Lanzillo’s free kick. Anthony Salisbury made 11 saves in net for Mansfield.
North Attleboro, 1 @ Taunton, 1 – Final – North Attleboro jumped ahead just before the midway point of the first half but Taunton found the equalizer in the 66th minute to earn a point. Gerson Bonilla cleaned up a rebound in the 18th minute to put the Rocketeers up. Joe Hilf’s header was denied on a terrific save by Taunton goalie Nolan Melo but Bonilla buried his chance. In the 66th minute, Taunton’s Colby Fernandes took advantage of a turnover and used a volley to bring the Tigers level. Kyle Briere made three saves for North Attleboro.
Franklin, 4 @ Milford, 0 – Final – Erin Quaile, Calen Frongillo, Carly Alston, and Sydney St. Marie each scored in the first half to put Franklin in control of its season opener. Grace Gallo and Halle Atkinson each had assists in the win.
King Philip, 6 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – Chloe Layne opened her account for the season and finished with a hat trick, while Avery Snead scored two and assisted on two others, as KP got its first win of the season. Makayla Griffin added a goal and two assists and Lauren Anderson had a pair of assists in the win. Sophia McLaughlin earned the clean sheet in net. KP finished with 17 shots in the game.
Foxboro, 3 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final
Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 12 – Final – King Philip opened its season with a big win at home over visiting Sharon. Senior Alli Meehan had four goals and three assists, freshman Meghan MacDonald netted a hat trick and added two assists and Olivia Kulesza scored three goals for the Warriors.
Foxboro, 1 @ Tri-County, 3 – Final
Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip began its 2018 season with a 3-0 sweep of Sharon (25-17, 25-12, 25-14). Catherine Waldeck had 10 kills for the Warriors while Nicole Coughlan added four kills and three aces. Kat Kmetz finished with three kills, three aces, and 18 service points and Grace Ely added three aces, three kills, and six service points.
Oliver Ames, 3 vs. Bridgewater-Raynham, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames bounced back from its season-opening loss to earn a win over visiting Bridgewater-Raynham (25-17, 25-15, 25-16). Senior defensive specialist Grace McCallum had a strong game for the Tigers with six digs, five aces and two kills. Senior Sadie Homer added 18 digs, junior Allie Kemp finished with 21 assists and three aces, and junior Jordan Bosse put down 11 kills with two aces.
North Attleboro, 172 @ Foxboro, 177 – Final – North Attleboro’s Jillian Barend earned medalist honors for the Rocketeers, carding a team-low round of 40.
Attleboro, 174 @ King Philip, 163 – Final
Taunton, 92 @ New Bedford, 77 – Final (Stableford) – Taunton’s Kyle Robinson had a team-best round of 43 to pace the Tigers to a win at the Whaling City Golf Club. Spencer Andrews and Sean Bunker each shot 45 to help Taunton.
Outlook: After playing plenty of sophomores last season, the Bulldogs will be looking to boast a balanced, experienced team aiming to compete for the Davenport division title in 2018.
Canton brings back six starters on offense and seven starters back on the defensive side of the ball. The Dogs are one of the few teams with their starting quarterback returning as junior Johnny Hagan continues under center after a solid sophomore season. He showed the ability to pass and run with the ball, and he has almost all of his running back options back to work with. Gersom Rivera had a terrific sophomore year and will be counted on to be a big piece of the offense during 2018. Rivera’s athleticism and speed will be complemented by the hard nose running and blocking of junior Kyle Fitzgerald and senior Brendan Albert.
Junior Jack Connolly will anchor the offensive line and will be joined by senior Brian Campagna and junior Lucas Bryant at the center position. Ryan Lentol, who came on strong at the end of last year, picked up right where he left off and will be a top option at split end.
The strength of Canton’s defense is its linebacker group, which is full of experience and talent. Albert is back at one of the outside spots after earning Hock All Star last year while senior Ben Seaman is back on the other side. Junior James Murphy will fill in the middle after impressing last season and junior Robbie Gallery has impressed early on as the other inside option. Canton will also rely on a seasoned secondary with Fitzgerald and David Allen returning as starters. Ryan Colby should see time in the secondary and Owen Lehane is in the mix for the defensive line.
“We’re very excited for the season,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “The kids have put the work in, we think we can play with anyone in the league but its a very good league so you have to be on your ‘A’ game every night. Every team is well coached and competitive so any time you can win in the Hock, its a success. We have to take it game by game, do the best we can, and keep plugging.
Outlook: The Warriors are aiming to make it two straight years in the postseason and will use a mix of returning players and new faces to try and get it done.
Foxboro graduated 35 seniors last year so there are some spots that need to be filled, but the Warriors are off to a good start with Liam Foley back in the fold at quarterback. The senior saw time under center last season along with Devin Hassett. And Foley will be in good shape as the Warriors have a lot of experience on the offensive line. Senior Tom Cullen is back in the middle of the line as the center, senior Andrew Longa and sophomore Sean Ferguson take on the tackle positions, and senior Hunter Williams and junior Aidan Dow will fill out the interior of the line.
Mike Luong got touches as a junior out of the backfield last season and will be a main part of the offense this season. Pat Stapleton is a returning split end, classmate Rob Fay will step into the same role, and junior Shayne Kerrigan will a top target for Foley.
The Warriors have experience and good size up front on defense, led by returning starting tackles Shawn Teixeira (6’4, 260) and Bill McNeil (6’0, 265). Senior William Ogbebor and Anton George will be called upon to fill out the defensive line on the ends while Williams and Martin McElroy will be joined by Mike Sheehan at linebacker. Russell Neale is back as the place kicker after a strong junior season.
Outlook: After reaching the quarterfinals last season, the 2018 version of the Scarlet Hawks are aiming for a deeper run into the postseason. And not just that, the Hawks are looking to be serious contenders for the Davenport crown.
Milford has a strong core of returning players back, a group of eager new faces looking to make an impression, and big new piece on the line. Kevin Pyne (6’8, 280) transferred to his hometown high school and will anchor what looks to be a big, physical line. Pyne is rated as the top recruit for his class and holds D1 offers from over a dozen schools including Notre Dame and Michigan. Senior Josh Ligor returns as a starter on the line while sophomore Nick Yohn will also be a two-way lineman.
The Hawks bring back both their quarterbacks: senior Ryan Pearl handled the team’s ‘WAR’ package while junior Colby Pires stepped in when Milford spread it out. Junior Luke Rosa will step in as an option at halfback along with sophomore Dominic Schofield. Brendan White (WR/S) brings toughness to both sides of the ball for the Hawks.
Shapel Feaster is one of the most experienced defensive backs in the Hockomock League and should be an important piece of the 2018 Hawks’ defense. Junior CJ Cerella will step in to anchor the linebacking group. On special teams, Sean Lehane is one of the strongest kickers in the area and will try to give Milford a spark at wide receiver this season.
“The goal of the 2018 football season for the Milford Scarlet Hawks is simple: start fast, play physical, and be the toughest team on the field on Friday nights,” said Milford head coach Anthony Vizakis.
Outlook: The target on North Attleboro’s back continues to grow. Coming off their third straight league title, including two straight Davenport titles, the Rocketeers made it all the way to the D3 State Final before falling, 35-33, to St. John’s Shrewsbury.
Big Red is hopeful it can continue its string of success but knows it will be tested with a difficult schedule, including a non-league game with two-time defending state champion King Philip. The biggest challenge will be finding a replacement for three-year starter Chad Peterson, who graduated with a handful of program records and three Hock titles as the starter. Seniors Nick Raneri and Luke LaBonte are both in the mix, and both saw time last year throughout the season. Raneri started all 13 games at tailback but also filled in at QB at times.
Whoever ends up getting the nod at quarterback will have one of the best offensive linemen in the entire state with senior Ryan Clemente anchoring the protection unit. Clemente is joined by senior Jack Puccio as returning starters on the line while seniors Joe Larkin and John Nally, and juniors John Kummer, Ethan Friberg, Trevor Hewitt, Montrel Jackson, and Ethan Mottinger are all competing for time. The Rocketeers also have solid skill options back with senior Brendan McHugh (14 total touchdowns) back at the starting slot back. Omar Jasseh offers size and speed at split end while Ryan Gaumond’s quickness gives the Rocketeers another option down field.
North Attleboro returns six starters on the defensive end, including McHugh, Gaumond, and Jasseh in the secondary. Clemente will be a big piece of the defensive line while Raneri and captain Jonathan James, who will also see time at tight end, will lead the linebacker unit. Russell Dunlap, Puccio, Mike Carty, Friberg and Jackson are all in the mix for defensive end spots while Ryan Boyle, Tom O’Neill, Duane Bryant, and Owen Harding are competing for time at linebacker.
“We expect a very challenging schedule, opening with KP on our new turf field and then an improved Bishop Feehan team in Week 2,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “The Davenport division will be extremely competitive this year, with several teams able to beat anyone on any given night. We have a nice core, but if we are going to compete at a championship level, then we are going to need several new faces to mature very quickly. There’s a lot of work still to be done, and not a lot of time to do it.”
Outlook: For the first time in Sharon, there will be football on Friday nights.
With the installation of lights at the high school field, the Eagles will be hosting teams on Friday nights instead of Saturday afternoons. And the 2018 Eagles are hoping to put a show under those lights. Sharon brings back a handful of key returning starters on both sides of the ball, and with one more year experience under their belts, will be looking to compete in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive seasons top to bottom in the Davenport.
Sharon averaged nearly 20 points per game in its six non-league games last year and is hoping to carry that over into Davenport play this season. Senior quarterback Jeremy Ruskin (six total touchdowns) is back under center to lead the offense and last year’s starting running back Aaron Strong (three touchdowns) also returns to give the Eagles a solid 1-2 punch on offense right away. Coleman Loftus’ size and strength will be a vital part of the line on both sides of the ball while Chris Gong and Alec Filipkowski return as Ruskin’s main two targets.
Not only goes Gong give Sharon options on offense because of his speed, he is one of the most dangerous kick returners in the state. He had an 80-yard punt return touchdown and a 99-yard kickoff return last season so opposing special team units will have to pay a lot of attention.
Despite the numbers, the Eagles had a strong defense last season. This season, Sharon boasts a lot of speed (on both sides of the ball) and is looking to use that to be more aggressive. Juniors Kiran Chandrasekaran will step in to be a big part of the secondary while classmate Nic Marrero will be relied on to anchor the linebackers.
“With a lot of returning starters and a sprinkle of new talent, I am expecting this team to take a huge step forward from last year’s inexperienced team,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Outlook: It feels like a fresh start for the Black Knights after graduating a bunch of players that had multiple seasons of experience under their belts.
But the focus remains the same for the Black Knights, who are aiming to be in contention for the Davenport title and make another appearance in the state tournament. Similar to previous seasons, Stoughton will have talent in the backfield and that will be the focal point of the offense. Jeff Grier is one of the fastest players in the league and will make defenses pay when there is space. Alex Iverson is a shifty option out of the backfield, Malachi Green-Hightower brings power to the run game, and sophomore Chris Ais could emerge as a playmaker for the Black Knights.
Junior George Currier and sophomore John Burke will battle it out for the starting quarterback position while Matt Piana, Ali Awad, and Evan Jackman have solidified spots on the offensive line. Frank Derbes will factor into the offense as a tight end and junior Ajahn Rue is back as a receiver.
Defensively, Iverson and Green-Hightower will be right in the heart of the lineup as linebackers while Grier will help as a member of the secondary. Cian Swierzewski has impressed throughout the offseason and the preseason and will be a key piece of the defense from the safety spot. Stoughton is looking for other names to step up and help anchor its hard nose defense.