STOUGHTON, Mass. – The Stoughton football team has long prided itself on its performance in the fourth quarter and how they finish games.
Whether it’s with a lead, in a tie game, or trying to come from behind, the Black Knights always look to empty the tank in the final 12 minutes of action.
Locked in a defensive battle with division rival Foxboro, knotted at 7-7 since the opening quarter of the game, Stoughton delivered in the fourth quarter. The Black Knights scored a pair of touchdowns inside the final five minutes of the game, sandwiched around a game-clinching takeaway to earn a 21-7 win over the visiting Warriors.
After the opening drive of the game in which the Black Knights broke free for a 44-yard touchdown, Foxboro’s defense stymied Stoughton’s offense. The Warriors recovered fumbles on back-to-back possessions in the first half, forced Stoughton to punt to start the second half, and had a huge stop in the red zone forcing a turnover on downs in the third quarter.
But when Stoughton’s offense took the field for the first time in the fourth quarter, starting at their own 20-yard line with 11 minutes to play, the Black Knights finally found a rhythm.
Helped along by a pass interference call three plays in on a third down, Stoughton’s ground game got going. Christopher Ais (20 carries, 138 yards) took four straight carries, moving the chains twice, and took the Knights into Foxboro territory. Then it was Christian Ais’ (10 carries, 50 yards) turn, cutting back up the middle for a 21-yard dash to get down to the 10-yard line.
Three plays later, Christian Ais bowled his way over a trio of Foxboro defenders at the goal line, getting an extra push from junior lineman Edward Conrad, for a 2-yard touchdown. Jonah Ly (3-for-3 on extra points) split the upright to put Stoughton up 14-7 with 4:33 to go.
Ais’ score capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive that took off 6:27 of the clock.
“We fumbled all over the place, you don’t do that, you can’t give up the ball,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “They are tough, we knew they’d be good but at least we finished up the way we want to play and we played good defense throughout. But hey, if we give up only one touchdown every week I’ll take it. We have a couple of issues that we still need to iron out but we’ll get there.”
Foxboro started the ensuing drive at its own 15-yard line but Cam Prescott’s deep pass got caught up in the wind and Stoughton senior Andrew Medina was able to adjust and come down with the interception to get the hosts the ball back right away.
Stoughton went right back to its ground game, and aided by a Foxboro unsportsmanlike penalty, moved into the red zone. Christopher Ais broke free for a 15-yard run to get inside the 10-yard line and two plays later, senior quarterback John Burke took the QB option around the corner on the left sideline for a 9-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead with 1:31 to play.
“The fourth quarter comes down to weight training,” Burke said. “We’ve got a brand new weight room here that the kids haven’t been able to use. They put in the time, they found ways in the offseason to lift. We aren’t the biggest team but pound-for-pound I’ll match us against anyone. I felt like if we could hang close for three quarters, we could win in the fourth. We didn’t help ourselves with the fumbles, they had one or two good hits but those fumbles are our fault. We’ll get back to the drawing board but we’re 2-0 and we’ll take any league win we can.”
While Foxboro’s defense slowed Stoughton’s offense throughout the majority of the game, the Black Knights’ defense kept the Warriors’ offense bottled up.
The Warriors’ defense forced a turnover on downs to set up Foxboro’s best drive of the game, a 5-play, 45-yard drive. Starting in Stoughton territory, junior Dylan Gordon had pair of good runs and junior Omarion Otto-Broomstein barreled his way in from 1-yard out. Sam Carpenter’s successful point after attempt tied the game, 7-7, with 1:14 left in the opening quarter.
But beyond that, Stoughton’s defense didn’t allow the Warriors to move the ball much. In fact, Foxboro only ran more than five plays on one drive, punting on five possessions, including four straight between the second and third quarters. The Warriors ran nine plays on their second possession but that came to an end on downs.
“Our defense played great for us,” Burke said. “[Gordon] had a couple of runs, we kept [Chris McNamara] in check, and [Luis Sulham] only caught a couple of passes. They did a good job passing blocking, that’s something we usually get in on but they did a nice job there. But I was very, very happy with the way the defense played and getting the win, it was a tough win. We still have a long way to go.”
Stoughton nearly jumped back in front twice near the end of the second. The Black Knights marched 9 plays to get into the red zone but fumbled on a run to the left and Sulham jumped on the loose ball for the visitors. But Foxboro’s drive was put to a stop on a sack from Davin Swierzewski. Stoughton got the ball back at the Foxboro 31-yard line with 32 seconds left but had four straight incompletions to end the half.
The Black Knights threatened again at the end of the third quarter, set up on a 41-yard pass and catch from Burke to Christian Ais. But Foxboro’s defense tightened up, getting key tackles from Mike Norvish, Dylan Kerrigan, Jon Moses, James Kraus and Trent Rennie. Stoughton tried to run the “Philly Special” on fourth down but Jake Queeney’s pass to Burke was just out of reach in the end zone.
“I thought the kids did a good job but those three backs [the Ais brothers and Christian Georges], you can’t key on one that’s for sure,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “It’s not like stopping one back, and they run what they run offensively very well. Even if you have those kids stopped, they are still going to get positive yardage so give them credit. It was a good game, 21-7 doesn’t look like the game I saw…14-7 yeah. If you don’t tie up those kids before they get going…they are as good as I’ve seen in a while in a league and there are three of them.
“I’m disappointed in how it ended but not disappointed in how the kids played from start to finish. Now we’re onto next week.”
Stoughton (2-0) will host Sharon on Friday night at 5:00 while Foxboro (1-1) has its home opener, hosting Canton at 5:30.
Foxboro, 49 @ Sharon, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (F) Omarion Otto-Broomstein 1-yard rush, Sam Carpenter XP good. (F) Cam Prescott 42-yard pass to Luis Sulham, S. Carpenter XP good. (F) Dylan Gordon 48-yard rush, S. Carpenter XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Chris McNamara 1-yard rush, S. Carpenter XP good. (F) C. Prescott 29-yard pass to James Kraus, S. Carpenter XP good. (F) L. Sulham 65-yard punt return, S. Carpenter XP good.
3rd Quarter: (S) Nico Marrero 3-yard rush, Molly McAlevey XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) Jack Austin 65-yard pass to Joseph Gonzalez, XP good.
Franklin, 7 @ Mansfield, 49 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (M) Nico Holmes 6-yard rush, James Gilleran XP good; (M) Cincere Gill 52-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good; (M) Rocco Scarpellini 25-yard interception return, J. Gilleran XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Jared Arone 19-yard pass to Will Tracey, Parker Cheuvront XP good; (M) Matt Boen 17-yard pass to N. Holmes, J Gilleran XP good; (M) C. Gill 20-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good; (M) C. Gill 5-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good.
3rd Quarter: (M) Jack Colby 35-yard interception return; J. Gilleran XP good.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Taunton, 6 @ King Philip, 21 – Final
Oliver Ames, 7 @ Stoughton, 29 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (S) Safety.
2nd Quarter: (S) Christian Georges 28-yard rush, Jonah Ly XP good; (S) Christopher Ais 51-yard rush, J. Ly XP good; (S) Anthony Girolamo 7-yard rush, J. Ly XP good.
3rd Quarter: (S) Christian Ais 1-yard rush, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (OA) Jake Grimaldi 27-yard pass to Pete Bosader, Drew Nickla XP good.
It’s a new era in Canton as Anthony Fallon takes over for longtime head coach Dave Bohane, who stepped down from his second stint in charge of the Bulldogs at the end of last season.
While it’s a new era, all of the players and coaches are hoping that the success from the past two seasons continues going forward. If that success is going to continue, it’s going to be by a host of new faces. The Bulldogs graduated a historic class that won back-to-back Davenport division titles and reached the D5 South Sectional final in 2019. While competing for the Davenport division title this year, Canton will lean heavily on its few returners while new players take advantage of the new opportunities.
Senior Matt Connolly is a force on both sides of the ball, protecting the quarterback on the offensive line and leading the way for the ground game with his blocking. And defensively, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound senior who is committed to play at Assumption College, is an absolute handful and requires a lot of attention. Cam Sanchez is another experienced player back for the Bulldogs and will be involved in the running game offensively and apart of the secondary defensively. Carson Campbell started all 11 games for Canton last year at right tackle and will add defensive line duties this season. Jack Albert should see an expanded role on both sides of the ball and will be one of the main targets in the receiving game.
“Our team has great speed in our secondary, we are big and strong upfront and our linebackers are tough and fast,” Fallon said. “We have a solid mix on our varsity of juniors and seniors. I am also excited with our numbers on the sub-varsity level with 30-plus players. With a tough-minded defense and a fast offense, I know we will compete in every game.”
There is a lot of optimism in Foxboro for the Fall II season, and with a strong group of returning starters in different spots all over the field, there is good reason for it.
The Warriors seem to be in the mix for the Davenport division title each season, coming in third in 2019 and 2017. With talent back in key spots, Foxboro could be a serious contender for their first crown since 2015. The offense starts with the line and Foxboro has some experience and size to work with. Senior Sean Ferguson is a towering presence at 6’5, 315-pounds and anchors the line from the center position and he will be joined by junior Dylan Kerrigan (6’0, 205) at tackle. Senior Cam Prescott will start under center and will have a bevy of options to work with including playmaker Luis Sulham and junior Rashaad Way. Look for Chris McNamara to pick up where he left off carrying the ball.
Foxboro has an equal amount of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball with the strength of the team coming from the linebackers and the secondary. Seniors Mike Norvish and James Stamatos return with plenty of varsity experience under their belts and will anchor the linebacker position while senior James Kraus will start at safety and will be accompanied in the secondary by Way and Tom Sharkey, both juniors. One player to keep an eye out for is senior Jon Moses, a 6’4 defensive end that really improved over the course of last season and could be a handful for opposing offenses to deal with.
“The heart and soul of team this year is the senior leadership and experience along with a strong and talented junior class,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli.
North Attleboro was ravished by injuries during the 2019 season and the result was the program’s first sub-.500 season in 27 years. It speaks volumes to how consistent the Rocketeers are year in and year out that it had been that long but the Big Red are ready to turn the page and begin a new streak.
The Rocketeers are getting a lot of players back that missed time last year and also have a bunch of players back that were thrown into the fire last year and now have varsity experience. With that combination, North Attleboro is hoping the end result is the Davenport division title. Junior Tyler DeMattio is back under center for his second year as the starter after making a big splash on Thanksgiving his freshman season. DeMattio can get it done with both his arm and his legs (and his foot in the kicking game). He has a lot of weapons at his disposal this year with Jared Penta and Alex McCoy in the slots, Coby Feid and Matt Penta at split end, and 6-foot-5 Endicott-commit Robbie Donovan at tight end. Jacob Silva returns at tailback and will be complemented by senior Tommy Whalen while sophomores Nathan Shultz and Greg Berthiaume could be in the mix as well. Harry Bullock will anchor the offensive line alongside classmates Danny Hayes and Justin Vecchiarelli and juniors Jared Vacher and Keysun Wise.
On top of the eight returning starters on offense, the Rocketeers boast eight returners on the defensive side of the ball as well. North Attleboro has a lot of depth at the linebacker position with Silva, a team captain, being a key part of the group. He’ll be joined by Berthiaume, Vecchiarelli, Whalen, senior Dylan Eberle, and junior Tyler Bannon. Jared and Matt Penta are both very experienced safeties while McCoy and Feid return at corner, so the secondary will certainly be a strength for the Big Red. The Rocketeers don’t have the biggest defensive line but the likes of Donovan, Vacher, and Bullock provide speed from the edge.
“The extended off season has provided extra time for tremendous growth in the weight room,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “The depth at the skill positions on both sides of the ball will be the strength of this team. The key will be how quickly and effectively we can put together our offensive and defensive lines.”
Oliver Ames is back in the Davenport division and is looking to make a splash in its first season back.
The Tigers had a lot of success when the league first split into two divisions, winning the Davenport title in 2011 and 2013 before making the jump up to the Kelley-Rex. With a strong group of players back, OA is looking to take the next step forward during the Fall II 2020 season. Senior captain Gavin Morrison is a two-way lineman and will anchor the offensive group from the center spot. He’ll be joined by senior Dante Cocivera and Max Tower, both returning players from last season. Junior Collin Williamson burst onto the scene last year and should see an expanded role in the backfield during this abbreviated season while sophomore Chad Silva should be in the mix as well.
Speed will be a strength on the defensive side of the ball for the Tigers, who boast a lot of the same faces on the defensive line as their offensive line. Tower anchors the linebackers and will be one to keep an eye on, using his speed and strength to make plays, and he’ll be joined by the sophomore Silva. Senior captain Jaden Ricci is one of the best defensive players on the team, a fast, physical player with a nose for the ball that will start at corner. He’ll be joined by senior Jaden Krowski in the secondary.
2020 (Fall II) Davenport Division Preview
“We are excited about where our program is heading and are really ecstatic and thankful to get an opportunity to play this season,” said head coach Ed DeWitt.
Sharon had a very young squad a season ago and went through plenty of growing pains. The Eagles are hoping to turn some of that experience into success on the field this season.
Not only do the Eagles have their quarterback and top receivers back, but they are also getting a big boost with a return from injury. Senior Kiran Chandrasekaran returns under center and has weapons in PJ McManus, Owen Conway, and Conor McLaughlin in the passing game. Nico Marrero, who showed flashes of great play as a sophomore, had to miss all of last year due to injury but is back this year and will be a key two-way player for the Eagles. Marrero is a powerful runner that will look to find space created by an improved offensive line. The Eagles’ offensive line is anchored by senior center Shea Letendre while junior Jack Murphy and sophomores Miles Clay and Daniel Davis help round out Sharon’s line.
Defensive the Eagles are always a competitive group, the challenge will be doing so for four quarters against some top offenses in the Davenport. Ike Ogbonnanze, who is also a big receiving target on offense, will start at linebacker alongside Marrero and Letendre, giving the Eagles a very experienced group in the heart of the defense. McManus and Conway will play on both sides of the ball, starting in the secondary defensively.
“Our kids know our numbers are not strong but they have a great attitude and are playing like their backs are against the wall,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Stoughton head coach Greg Burke always leans heavily on his senior class and he has a real talented group this year.
The Black Knights have a handful of very talented and experienced seniors that have played a lot of snaps over the past two seasons and that has Stoughton primed for a run a the Davenport division title. Senior John Burke is back under center at quarterback for the Knights and it’s likely we’ll see Brady Conlin take some snaps similar to how Burke split with Clayton Rahaman last season. Both quarterbacks will have plenty of options to work with, especially on the ground. The Knights have a “home run” type offense with any given handoff capable to break off a big run. Senior brothers Christopher and Christian Ais recently committed to the University of New Haven and both bring speed and power when running the ball. Christian Georges is another workhorse out of the backfield while juniors Anthony Girolamo and Jonah Ly could see some carries as well. What makes Stoughton’s run game so dangerous is all of the backs do a great job of blocking when they don’t get carries. Jake Queeney will be the main target in the passing game for the Knights. Sproul Derolus is one of the few returners on the offensive line so Stoughton will need some players to step up there.
Defense is always a staple for the Knights and that looks to be the case again this year. A lot of the same faces that make plays on the offensive side will be the ones making plays on the defensive side. Georges is an absolute monster coming off the edge and uses his speed and strength to cause havoc in the backfield. Christopher Ais will be joined by Ly and Girolamo at linebacker while Christian Ais, Queeney, and Burke are all returners in the secondary for the Knights.
“Hopefully without a ton of injuries we can have a good year,” Burke said. “We have some experience and the kids have worked hard in the clubs for weight training. We need the juniors to step up and contribute fast while still learning varsity speed. The league is always tough and hopefully, we can survive tough crossover games.”
Attleboro, 13 @ North Attleboro, 7 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (A) Michael Strachan 5-yard rush, Colby Briggs XP good; (A) Jason Weir 52-yard rush, XP no good.
2nd Quarter: (NA) Jared Penta 3-yard rush, Tyler DeMattio XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Stoughton, 8 @ Canton, 30 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 35-yard pass to Kyle Fitzgerald, Owen Lehane XP good; (C) K. Fitzgerald 4-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good; (S) Christian Ais 6-yard rush, Clayton Rahaman 2pt pass to Anthony Pizzano.
3rd Quarter: (C) O. Lehane 28-yard field goal; (C) Gersom Rivera 8-yard rush, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (C) J. Hagan 7-yard pass to David Allen, O. Lehane XP good.
Mansfield, 22 @ Foxboro, 12 – Final 1st Quarter: (M) Safety; (M) Nick Marciano 46-yard pass to Danny Rapoza, Michael DeBolt XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Vinnie Holmes 46-yard rush, 2pt failed; (M) M. DeBolt 9-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (F) Shayne Kerrigan 2-yard rush, 2pt failed; (F) Chris McNamara 3-yard rush, 2pt failed.
Franklin, 0 @ King Philip, 14 – Final 1st Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 5-yard rush, XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (KP) R. Halliday 2-yard rush, XP good.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Milford, 12 @ Maynard, 15 – Final 1st Quarter: (Mi) Luke Rosa 13-yard rush, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (Mi) Carter Scudo 22-yard rush, XP failed.
Oliver Ames, 34 @ Sharon, 0 – Final 1st Quarter: (OA) Connor Murphy fumble recovery, Sean Friel XP good; (OA) Nathan Cabral 2-yard rush, S. Friel XP good.
2nd Quarter: (OA) N. Cabral 3-yard rush, S. Friel XP good.
3rd Quarter: (OA) Cam Perron 40-yard pass to Nick Marks, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (OA) Sam Stevens 5-yard rush, S. Friel XP good.
Game of the Week Staff
Attleboro @ North Attleboro
Stoughton @ Canton
Mansfield @ Foxboro
Franklin @ King Philip
Milford @ Maynard
Oliver Ames @ Sharon
Attleboro @ North Attleboro
Ryan Lanigan: North Attleboro
Josh Perry: Attleboro
Matt Bosh: North Attleboro
Jeff Pickette: Attleboro
Stoughton @ Canton
Ryan Lanigan: Canton
Josh Perry: Stoughton
Matt Bosh: Canton
Jeff Pickette: Stoughton
Mansfield @ Foxboro
Ryan Lanigan: Mansfield
Josh Perry: Mansfield
Matt Bosh: Mansfield
Jeff Pickette: Mansfield
Franklin @ King Philip
Ryan Lanigan: Franklin
Josh Perry: King Philip
Matt Bosh: King Philip
Jeff Pickette: King Philip
Milford @ Maynard
Ryan Lanigan: Milford
Josh Perry: Milford
Matt Bosh: Milford
Jeff Pickette: Milford
Oliver Ames @ Sharon
Ryan Lanigan: Sharon
Josh Perry: Oliver Ames
Matt Bosh: Oliver Ames
Jeff Pickette: Oliver Ames
Ryan Lanigan: 58-25
Josh Perry: 65-18
Matt Bosh: 67-16
Jeff Pickette: 66-17
MILFORD, Mass. – Trailing by three points at halftime of a road game that it had to win in order to reach the state tournament, Foxboro came out of the break with the mission of taking control of the game at the line of scrimmage. Mission accomplished.
The Warriors dominated up front on both sides of the ball in the second half on Friday night, putting pressure on quarterback Colby Pires to disrupt the Milford offense and opening holes for senior quarterback Shayne Kerrigan to exploit on his way to 141 second half yards and a pair of scores. Foxboro turned the game on its head and won 21-10.
“As you get as old as I am, you get a little philosophical and I just said there’s not too many chances in life that you can control your own destiny and this is one of them,” said Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli, who earned his 275th career win on Friday. “They took the cue and I couldn’t ask anything more of them.”
He added, “We played better in the second half. The kids came to play and I’m so proud of them. I’m pretty sure that puts us in. I don’t really care where, just as long as we’re in.”
Foxboro came out of the break and marched right down field. Kerrigan (22 carries, 169 yards) called his own number eight times, helping the Warriors get all the way down to the Milford 26, but on third down he tried to go to the end zone and was picked off by Grant Scudo. On second down, the Hawks gave the ball right back when Luke Rosa (14 carries, 65 yards) lost the ball when fighting for extra yards and it was scooped up by Rashaad Way.
With the ball back in their hands, the Warriors went back to the ground game. Kerrigan, Brian Derba, and Luis Sulham all got touches to get inside the 10-yard-line. Chris McNamara pushed the ball to the goal line and on the next play Kerrigan broke the plane on a QB sneak for a 14-10 lead with just 1:24 left in the third quarter.
“Up front I think they physically beat us in the second half,” said Milford coach Anthony Vizakis. “They wanted it and they physically pushed us around. Our kids fought, I thought they did well, but it just wasn’t good enough.”
After a Milford punt, Foxboro’s offense went back to work and got the ball to the Milford 18 after a 45-yard run by Kerrigan, but on third and eight his pass to the end zone was picked off by Carter Scudo.
The visitors’ defense was equally strong up front. Nick Cherry was dominating up the middle with Anton George controlling the edge. Cherry tipped a pass at the line that was nearly intercepted and Jon Moses got pressure on Pires (14-of-33, 106 yards) and batted a pass down.
Despite there being six minutes left, Vizakis decided to go for it on fourth and 10 from his own 29. The pass fell incomplete and Foxboro had the short field only for a bad snap and a 20-yard loss derail the chance to put the game away. Again, the Foxboro defense shut things down. George tipped a first down pass and, following an 18-yard completion to Maxwell Martin, Pires was forced into four straight incompletions, Mike Sheehan’s pressure forcing another turnover on downs.
“They put us in position,” Vizakis said of his defense. “They gave us two shots to win it, but we just didn’t execute, we didn’t capitalize on those opportunities, and we’ve just got a lot of correcting to do.”
This time the Warriors took advantage, as Kerrigan burst through a hole on the right side of the line and raced 44 yards to pay dirt to seal the win.
“He was better than advertised,” Martinelli said about Kerrigan. “He just has that knack, he’s not that big, he’s not overly fast, but he has great vision and a quiet confidence in his abilities and you can’t coach any of those things. We’re lucky to have him.”
Foxboro drew first blood on its second possession of the game. Kerrigan pump-faked towards a receiver screen, caught the Milford defense jumping forward, and then hit Elijah Lewis in stride for a 55-yard touchdown to grab a 7-0 lead.
Milford went three-and-out on its first possession but the Hawks, who had only scored one touchdown in two games coming into Friday night, put together an eight-play, 65-yard drive to answer immediately. Rosa got the ball on the first five plays and, with the help of a face mask call, got the Hawks to the Foxboro 13. After a penalty and then a 17-yard completion to Danny Farrelll to round out the first quarter, Rosa punched it in from two yards out on the opening play of the second.
“It was two teams that were 3-3, each beat the same two teams, and each lost to the same two teams [in the league], so I knew it was going to be a game like that, back-and-forth,” Martinelli said.
The Hawks have had trouble finishing drives in recent weeks and that was no different on Friday. Pires finally got some rhythm in the passing game on the next possession, connecting with Scudo, Farrell, and Matt Varteresian to get down to the Foxboro 11, but a delay of game forced third and long and CJ Cerrella’s 30-yard kick slipped wide of the left upright.
Cerrella put an end to Foxboro’s next drive with a sack of Kerrigan and Milford once again got into the red zone, but a drop and then pressure by Sheehan forced another field goal attempt. This time, Cerrella was on target from 37 yards on the final play of the half to send the Hawks into the locker room up 10-7.
Milford (3-4) had already sealed its spot in the tournament and could still end up with a home game in Div. 3 South, but they will have to find renewed momentum after suffering a third straight defeat.
Vizakis explained, “It’s almost like a brand-new season. I just asked them, which Milford team is going to show up for this new season. We’re in the playoffs, we’re most likely going to be on the road, and the goal we set at the beginning of the year is still there, but we need to execute and tackle and make plays.”
Foxboro (4-3) got the win it needed to seal a playoff spot and now awaits its seed to see who it will face in Div. 5.
CANTON, Mass. – The Canton roster is filled with holdovers from last year’s Davenport division champions. These are players who have taken part in big games, title-deciding games, and have found ways to come out on top. The Bulldogs needed every ounce of that experience on Friday night against Foxboro at WWII Veterans Memorial Field.
Three times the Warriors had the ball down by just six points in the fourth quarter, twice getting into the red zone, but all three times the Canton defense found another gear to make a crucial stand and preserve the unbeaten start.
“Our defense is one of the best in the Hock for sure,” senior linebacker OOwen Lehane explained. “They were kind of rolling on us for almost three quarters just about, but I think we pieced it together at the end, started picking each other up and I think we just knew deep down that we were better than we were playing.”
Thanks to its defensive effort in the fourth, Canton was able to overcome a rash of penalties and two turnovers in the final quarter to pull out a 26-20 win and stay unbeaten through two weeks of the league campaign.
“They were jacked up, we had some success, and then bam we’re in a football game,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “Our kids stayed poised and made key plays.”
Foxboro quarterback Shayne Kerrigan got the Warriors within a score when he found a seam and burst into the end zone from six yards out with 10:46 remaining in the game. Gersom Rivera blocked the extra point to keep it a six-point margin, but the momentum was with the visitors.
Canton tried to put the game away on its next possession by going for it on fourth and one from the Foxboro 48. Kyle Fitzgerald (20 carries, 132 yards) pushed up the middle for first down distance but as he stretched for a couple extra feet the ball popped loose and was recovered by Elijah Lewis.
Kerrigan (12 carries, 75 yards) got to work with 13 yards on two keepers and then Chris McNamara broke a 22-yard run to the Canton 25. A penalty against the Canton coaches (for encroaching on the field) handed Foxboro a first down at the 12. A loss of one on first down was followed by an incomplete pass and then James Murphy managed to get a fingertip to another pass on third down. On fourth and 11, Kerrigan was held to just a yard to end the drive.
Two plays later, the Warriors were in business again. Canton quarterback Johnny Hagan (13 carries, 55 yards), who had been limited by an injury, couldn’t lost the ball going up the middle and Michael Norvish jumped on the loose ball.
The Foxboro drive lasted three plays before Lehane stepped in and picked off a pass, returning it out near midfield. Lehane also kicked a pair of field goals and had an onside kick recovered in the first half.
“He just never lets you down,” Bohane said of Lehane. “You guys are bringing up things from the game and I’m thinking wow he hit a key field goal, touchbacks, the onside kick, and then to step in and get the interception. An outstanding night for Owen and I’m glad because he’s a super kid.”
After a Canton punt, Foxboro had one last chance with 1:27 remaining. Jace Emma had good coverage on the first pass from Kerrigan (6-of-21, 121 yards) and the second was tipped by Jack Connolly. The third and fourth passes also fell incomplete and Canton was able to kneel down to secure the victory.
“We spotted them a couple points, not that they didn’t earn them, they made great plays, and we could never close that gap,” Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli said. “We had a couple chances down here to tie it up, but two good teams and neither team quit when they were ahead or behind.”
Canton opened the scoring on its second drive of the night. After Fitzgerald broke free for 19 yards, Hagan (7-of-12, 99 yards) tossed a perfect pass into the arms of Rivera down the near sideline for a 33-yard touchdown.
The lead was short-lived, as Foxboro answered right back. Kerrigan hit Ryan Hughes on the near sideline and he made a cut to the inside, shaking off the corner, and then raced 46 yards to the corner for the tying score.
It was the passing game that helped Canton regain the lead on its next possession. Again Hagan was able to find the target deep down the sideline, this time connecting with Emma for 33 yards to the Foxboro five. Hagan would call his own number on the next play for his second score of the night.
A penalty on the touchdown moved the kickoff up 15 yards so the Canton coaches called for an onside kick, which Lehane laid right down the middle and Jahmi Aldin tracked down to immediately give the Bulldogs back the ball. The Foxboro defense managed to keep Canton out of the end zone, but Lehane tacked on a 24-yard field goal to make it 17-7.
Kerrigan and the Foxboro offense, despite missing junior playmaker Luis Sulham, managed to again find big plays against a Canton defense that had not allowed a point since the opening week of the season. The Warriors were helped by two of Canton’s four first half personal foul penalties, but marched down the field to get back within three. Kerrigan capped it off with an 11-yard run.
“We had it last week too,” Martinelli replied, when it was noted how far the offense has come since the season opener against Norton. “Canton is a good football team, we knew that, and we were hoping that we wouldn’t give up the big plays, which we did a couple times tonight.”
Canton added to its lead right before the break. Penalties stalled a drive that had gotten as close as the Foxboro 12, but Lehane was on target with a 32-yard kick. After stuffing Foxboro on the opening drive of the second half, Canton took advantage of the short field, Hagan punching it in from a yard out for his third score to make it 26-14.
It proved to be just about enough to get the win.
“Our coach always says it’s the best league in the state,” said Lehane about the challenge of playing in the Davenport division. “Definitely the seniors, we’ve all been there and we know how tough it is. We’ve got a tough crew too.”
Bohane added, “No weeks off in the Hockomock League. They’re so well-coached and the kids play so hard and there’s so much football tradition. It’s a great league to be in but much better when you have a good team like I do right now that’s physical and tough. It was a lot of fun tonight, as stressful as it was.”
Canton (4-0, 2-0) will be back home next Friday night to take on another potential league title contender in Milford. Foxboro (2-2, 1-1) will look to bounce back with a tough home game against Stoughton.