Mansfield, 23 @ Attleboro, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (M) CJ Bell 6-yard rush, James Gilleran XP good.
2nd Quarter: (A) Kaiden Murray 1-yard rush, Anthony Salviati XP good; (M) Rocco Scarpellini 5-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good.
3rd Quarter: (M) Safety.
4th Quarter: (M) Connor Curtis 19-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good.
Foxboro, 21 @ North Attleboro, 14 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery of this game. 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (NA) Tyler Bannon blocked punt, safety.
3rd Quarter: (NA) Chase Frisoli 24-yard pass to Gavin Wells, XP no good; (F) Tom Marcucella 40-yard pass to Rashaad Way, T. Marcucella conversion pass to R. Way.
4th Quarter: (NA) Tyler DeMattio 1-yard rush, Conversion no good; (F) Dylan Gordon 72-yard rush, Sam Carpenter XP good; (F) T. Marcucella 68-yard pass to R. Way, XP blocked.
Milford, 14 @ King Philip, 17 – Final
Stoughton, 31 vs. Brockton, 13 – Final 1st Quarter: (S) Anthony Girolamo 24-yard rush, Conversion no good.
2nd Quarter: (S) Jonah Ly 1-yard rush, Conversion no good; (B) Mauricio Powell 20-yard rush, John Dumas XP good.
3rd Quarter: (S) A. Girolamo 19-yard rush, J. Ly XP good; (S) Jarred Daughtry 5-yard rush, XP no good.
4th Quarter: (B) Jason Wonodi 24-yard rush, XP no good; (S) J. Daughtry 8-yard rush, XP no good.
Sharon, 7 @ Norwell, 32 – Final
Canton, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames hit the post and hit the crossbar but couldn’t find the back of the net and the Tigers and Bulldogs of Canton took a point each. Mathias Taylor, Michael Haikal, Hector Bucio and Diego Rivera had great games for the Tigers while Sasha Priajinski earned his eighth shutout of the season in net.
Foxboro, 4 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Foxboro scored twice in each half to pick up two points on the road over Stoughton. The Warriors scored in quick succession in the first half as AJ Carvalho opened the scoring in the 26th minute and then an own goal (credited to John Hollis) doubled the advantage just two minutes later. In the second half, Cam Barreira set up Alex Penders in the 60th minute for the 3-0 lead and then Barreira capped the scoring with a goal of his own off a feed from Jacob Tessier. Derek Axon notched the shutout in net for Foxboro.
Taunton, 1 @ King Philip, 1 – Final – King Philip and Taunton traded goals, one coming in each half, and the Warriors and Tigers split the two points. Andrew Seropian gave the hosts the lead in the 12th minute, finishing off a pass from Stephen Griffin to make it 1-0. Taunton’s Riley Rebello equalized in the 49th minute, finishing a free kick to the back post to bring the Tigers level.
Milford, 2 @ Mansfield, 0 – Final – Milford used a pair of first half goals to earn two points on the road, splitting the season series with Mansfield. Artur Tome opened the scoring with an assist to Bill Silva. Just minutes later, Eduardo Santana doubled the lead with the assist going to Tome.
Sharon, 0 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final – The Rocketeers registered a pair of goals before the half hour mark and then put the game away with a third with just 10 minutes to go for a win over Sharon. Quinn Conley earned a penalty for the Rocketeers early in the match and Connor Ward buried the chance from the spot, putting the hosts ahead in the 10th minute. Junior Griffin Rodden doubled the lead in the 28th minute, taking a pass from Givany Carney and finishing. Jaad Ismail’s goal in the 70th minute secured the points for North as the senior finished a corner kick from Ward for a 3-0 lead.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Canton, 0 – Final – Junior Mary Cross scored the lone goal of the game as Oliver Ames claimed a key two points on the road over Davenport for Canton. Cross finished off a pass from Allison Evin in the first half for the lone goal of the game. Emily Meyers earned the shutout in goal for the Tigers.
Stoughton, 0 @ Foxboro, 7 – Final – Foxboro scored four times in the second half to break the game open and keep itself in a first-place tie with OA. Kailee McCabe and Jordan Carman each recorded four points for the Warriors. McCabe scored three times and added an assist, while Carman found the back of the net once and had a hat trick of assists. Lauren Miley scored a brace and DeAnna Hardiman got one. Shayla Ford had a solid game in defense for the Black Knights and Sivannah Marcy was a good outlet up front.
King Philip, 5 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – A day after she tallied a hat trick and five points, Ella Pisani added two more goals and another assist to lift KP to another road win. The Warriors pulled even on points with Franklin for the league lead, having played one more game. Pisani, Brooke Mullins, and Dani Lomuscio all scored in the first half to put KP comfortably ahead. Morgan Norrman, Eilish McGowen, and Pisani each had assist in the opening half. After the break, Pisani completed her brace and Kylie Menendez added the fifth. Paulina Baczkowski and McGowen assisted on the second half goals.
Mansfield, 2 @ Milford, 0 – Final – Tarynn Smith’s brace lifted the Hornets to a road win at Milford, getting Mansfield back on track and keeping it alive in the league title race. Olivia Salisbury made one stop to earn the clean sheet.
North Attleboro, 3 @ Sharon, 1 – Final – Emma Pratt and Abbie Pratt each scored in the first half to put the Rocketeers in front. Autumn Simon scored early in the second half off a Sofia Goclowski assist to cut the North lead in half, but Emma Pratt added her second of the game to seal the two points. Haley Sinacola assisted on each of Emma Pratt’s goals and Caroline Ferrin had the assist on Abbie Pratt’s. North came close several times in the second half, with Steph McKenna, Autumn Hewitt, and Casey Butanowicz narrowly missing. Brayden Rice played well for the Rocketeers in midfield, while Meaghan Dowd, Summer Doherty, and Charlotte Moynihan had good games at the back. Leah Steinberg and Carmen Leonardi played well defensively for the Eagles.
North Attleboro, 3 @ Attleboro, 1 – Final
Canton, 3 @ Fontbonne Academy, 1 – Final – Canton overcame an error-prone opening set to settle in, using a complete team effort to rally for a 3-1 win (23-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-15) on the road at Fontbonne. Talya DeGraw had an all-around good match for the Bulldogs with six kills and 27 digs, Katie Dever played well in the middle with four kills and two blocks, and Kelly MacDonald played strong in the backcourt and served well.
King Philip, 3 @ Walpole, 0 – Final – KP swept Walpole for the second time this season, winning 25-12, 25-15, 25-10 to stay unbeaten. Sami Shore led the way with 11 kills and four aces, while Ahunna James had eight kills and seven digs, and Emily Sawyer finished with seven kills and three blocks. Sofia Reidel had a strong service game with seven aces and Stella Bailey chipped in with four aces and five digs. Samantha Asprelli had another strong defensive match with eight digs.
Taunton, 3 vs. Durfee, 1 – Final – Taunton jumped out to a two-set advantage and took care of business in the fourth to win the match 3-1 (25-15, 25-15, 23-25, 25-14) after dropping a close third set. Angie Lynch had a great all-around game for the Tigers with eight kills, seven digs, four aces, and a block to lead the way. Mikayla Cleary added five kills, four aces, and four blocks while Anna Abouzeid dished out 18 assists and added three kills and a pair of aces. Dani Lofgren (14 digs and excellent serve receive) and Jess Foley (eight digs, three aces) both played well defensively for Taunton.
On Friday night, it turned out the difference between Milford and Mansfield was only a matter of inches.
Sophomore Damien Carter went up and hauled in a 9-yard touchdown over a pair of defenders and landed just inches inside the touchline for the walk-off winning score, giving the Hawks a 27-24 win over the Hornets in overtime at Alumni Field.
After early fireworks that saw Milford score on its first two drives and Mansfield orchestrate a pair of good drives, scoring on the latter, the teams settled down in the second half. Mansfield took an early lead on its second drive of the half but Milford responded in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
Both defenses buckled down in the final quarter as the teams combined to punt five straight times and the game went into overtime.
Mansfield went on offense first but a pair of incomplete passes sandwiched for a loss of yards on second down meant the Hornets had to settle for a 30-yard field goal off the right foot of James Gilleran.
Milford went next, gaining just a yard on first down. The Hornets nearly ended the game on an interception on second down but instead, it was Milford putting the game to bed when Evan Cornelius (11-for-20, 156 yards, two TD) floated one just past the pylon on the right side and Carter came down with it; the sideline ref ruling his foot landed in-bounds before his body did out of bounds.
“I hope people believe now that Milford is for real,” said Milford head coach Dale Olson. “We knew coming into this year that we had some young kids but some talented kids. If we’re not a top 6-8 team in this state, I don’t know who is.
“I had actually called for the play before to go over there and [Cornelius] decided to go to the other side. After that, we wanted the 1-on-1 on that side. [Mansfield] did a great job on Isaiah. We went up 14-0 and they started to double on him. I thought early on we ran the football at-will on them. But that’s a great program, they did a great job tonight. But in the end, our kids buckled down and played great defense.”
It was a dream start for the visitors, who were making their first trip to Alumni Field since joining the Hockomock League nearly a decade ago. The Hawks needed less than five minutes to march 75 yards on 12 plays to get into the end zone. A 21-yard scamper from Tyler Lane (18 carries, 90 yards) helped move Milford into the red zone and Cornelius kept it himself to convert 4th and less than a yard for a 7-0 lead.
Mansfield looked poised to respond right away as the Hornets started to move the sticks. But the drive came to a sudden halt on its 10th play when Mansfield lost the ball on a run up the middle and the Hawks recovered the ball for their first red zone takeaway.
The Hawks’ offense picked up right where it left off, this time orchestrating an 88-yard drive in just seven plays. On the final play of the first quarter, Cornelius hit Isaiah Pantalone (eight catches, 94 yards) on a slant that went for a 67-yard gain. Three plays later, Lane plunged into the end zone on third down from a yard out to give Milford a 14-0 lead with 10:47 left in the second.
The turnover didn’t seem to bother the Hornets’ offense and they came up with a much-needed response. On third down, junior Conner Zukowski (12-for-21, 146 yards) connected with sophomore Trevor Foley for a big 40-yard completion. Three plays later, Drew Sacco took the handoff and sprinted in for a 5-yard touchdown that cut the deficit on the scoreboard in half.
Mansfield’s defense gained some momentum with back-to-back stops. The Hornets forced the Hawks into back-to-back three-and-out series to get the ball back. The offense rewarded them with a 6-play, 54-yard drive that resulted in the tying score just before the half. Zukowski hit Foley for a first down and then dropped one to CJ Bell for 31 yards and a visit to the red zone. Milford’s defense came up with some stops to make it tough but Zukowski got low and kept it himself to convert a fourth down with a 1-yard touchdown keeper.
The Hornets looked to pull a double, scoring on both sides of the half, and it looked like there was a good chance they’d complete it. Mansfield marched 44 yards on 7 plays but Milford’s Jaden Agnew made a terrific read and a diving interception inside the red zone to put the Hornet drive to a halt.
Mansfield’s defense had an answer of its own and on third down, defensive lineman Pedro Cruz got his paws up to bat down a pass and force a punt. Given a second chance to take the lead, Mansfield took care of business. Bell made a great move to evade a defender and get a first down on a 16-yard reception and a holding call in the secondary moved the sticks again for the hosts. On fourth and one from the 3-yard line, Zukowski tossed it to James Fichera on a sweep to the right and the senior captain rushed it in for a score and Mansfield’s first lead, 21-14, with 1:53 left in the third quarter.
“We finally get the lead and had a big score in the second and one in the third and then we just couldn’t get a first down,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “We tried to run it but they were doing a good job defending that. They were doubling our receivers. That was the key…we needed to get some first downs. We didn’t need to score but at least punt from midfield and give them a long field but we gave them way too many chances in the second half and sooner than later they capitalized.
“We’ve got to start better. it’d be nice to be up a touchdown instead of down one. We have to find a way to get a lead and play ahead. The last three weeks we’ve been playing from behind. We play hard and we catch up but these teams, it’s too much to overcome early.”
Milford’s offense couldn’t find its rhythm as it had to punt again on its next drive after a fumble on second down set them back. But the Hawks’ defense did its job and forced Mansfield into a three-and-out. That was a big swing and the Hawks found their footing on offense again. A penalty on third and short gave Milford life, and a holding call in the secondary moved the sticks again on the next play. Cornelius connected with Carter twice on the drive, the first for 13 yards and a first down and, three plays later, on a slant on the right side that turned into a 40-yard touchdown. Nick Araujo’s third successful point after attempt made it 21-21 with 7:56 left.
“In past, I think this program would have [panicked], they didn’t know how to win big games like that,” Olson said of Mansfield scoring 21 straight points to take the lead. “Tonight, we had that 14-0 lead and it felt like the Natick game all over again. I was hoping for one more stop and I thought, if we can go up three scores against a Mike Redding team, we’re going to force them into throwing the football more than they want to. But our defense stepped up in the end.
Mansfield had two drives in the final minutes of the fourth but only totaled 19 yards on its eight plays. Milford also had a shot at the go-ahead score but their five plays had a total of 7 net yards and they had to punt both teams as well, sending it to overtime.
“Every drive is important, every third down conversion is critical,” Redding said of the tight competition in the Kelley-Rex this year. “We’re learning as we go with young kids and they are playing hard but they need to realize how every series is critical in terms of momentum. You have to move the chains when you have the ball. And we just have to find a way to start better. We almost overcame it again but just not enough.”
Milford (2-0 Kelley-Rex, 5-0 overall) hits the road for the third straight week with a trip to Wrentham to take on King Philip. Mansfield (0-2, 3-2) will look to snap a rare two-game skid when it hits the road to take on Attleboro.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – It was only seven months ago that Franklin traveled to Alumni Field to open the Fall II season. The Panthers were a young team learning the ropes against a senior-laden, highly-experienced Mansfield squad filled with Super Bowl-winning talent.
When the two teams met on Friday night at Pisini Stadium, the roles were reversed. Now it was the Panthers that had the experience and they took advantage at every opportunity. Jared Arone (9-for-13, 206 yards) tossed four touchdown passes and the Panthers beat Mansfield 28-10. in front of a packed house.
It was Franklin’s first win against the Hornets since going undefeated in the 2009 regular season. It also ended Mansfield’s 19-game win streak, which had been the longest active streak in the state.
“We had a normal summer, a normal weight program, a normal training camp where we could meet and walk through and do all the things that you’re supposed to do and we let our kids just be kids this year finally,” said Franklin coach Eian Bain about the growth of his team over the past few months. “I think they’ve grown a lot as people, as men, as students, as players.”
Despite being 3-0, Mansfield has struggled early in games and had to come from behind in each of the past two weeks. The pattern repeated itself on Friday, as the Hornets hurt themselves with penalties, regularly finding themselves in long-yardage situations, missed a field goal, and were unable to finish drives.
Mansfield coach Mike Redding admitted that was too much to overcome against a team as good as Franklin. He said, “So sloppy and I think tonight was the first time that we played young almost the whole night. Tonight it was like we could never be consistent. We just kind of took a step back in terms of execution on both sides of the ball.”
After forcing a three-and-out, thanks to pass breakups by Jase Lyons and Devine Johnson, Franklin took over for its second possession at its own 32. Two plays and a first down later, Arone went deep right down the middle of the field, hitting Shane Kindred (five catches, 106 yards) in stride for a 54-yard touchdown. Garrett Portesi’s extra point made it 7-0.
“You want to always play with a lead,” said Bain. “It gives you a little flexibility, allows you now to panic, and we hit those big plays early. It also put some pressure on them to get out of their comfort zone.”
Another Mansfield three-and-out gave Franklin a chance to double its lead, but Trevor Foley intercepted Arone at the Hornets 39. Mansfield’s offense finally started to get things going.
Conner Zukowski (13-of-27, 141 yards) hit CJ Bell for 27 yards down the sideline to get into the red zone. A sack by Nick Quintina (one of five Franklin sacks in the game) pushed the Hornets back eight yards and Luke Davis made a nice play on the ball to deny a touchdown pass to Foley. The Hornets were forced to try a 32-yard field goal by James Gilleran, but it slid wide right.
Franklin fed off the defensive stand, putting together a 14-play, 84-yard scoring drive. Three times Arone found Kindred for first downs and Mack Gulla (32 carries, 164 yards) had nine rushes on the drive. On third and goal from the eight, Arone was able to buy time in the pocket, eventually rolling out to his right and spying Grayson Hunter open in the back corner of the end zone.
The visitors needed a spark to try and get something going before halftime. On third and seven, Foley made a nice sliding grab to get a first down. A pass interference call helped get Mansfield to the 24 and then Zukowski hit Bell for 21 more to get inside the five. Drew Sacco would get Mansfield on the board, taking a big hit at the goal line but squeezing across to make it 14-7.
Mansfield got the ball coming out of the break with a chance to tie the game, but once again the Hornets struggled to finish off a drive. Sacco broke an 18-yard run around the left side and a screen pass to Rocco Scarpellini went for 23 down to the Franklin 11. That’s where things stalled. Sacco dove on errant toss for a loss of a couple and on third down Jonathan Martins pressured Zukowski into an incompletion. Gilleran nailed a 30-yarder and the lead was down to four.
A mistake on the ensuing kick pinned Franklin back at its own four. It looked like a turning point in the game where, in the past, Mansfield would suddenly turn things around and find a way to win. Instead, the Panthers went 96 yards and extended the lead.
The drive started with an offsides penalty and then eight straight carries by Gulla. The Panthers were controlling the line of scrimmage, winning the battle in the trenches and marching downfield. After converting on third down into Mansfield territory, Franklin went for the home run. Arone threw a strike to Will Tracey on the far sideline and he hauled in the 41-yard score.
Redding said, “Gulla was as advertised. He’s a solid kid, but I think he was faster than we expected. We handled him okay but they did enough to set up the pass game and, when they did throw, they got some huge pass plays out of it. They had a good little combination going.”
A Gulla fumble would give Mansfield one last chance to try and get back into the game with 8:24 to play, but the Franklin defense continued to cover well and to pressure Zukowski. A sack by Jack Marino and another pass breakup by Davis helped the Panthers get the ball back at the Hornets 39.
“We’ve got a lot of really good athletes playing on defense,” said Bain. “They run well and they’re aggressive and they’re smart and we’re able to get in and out of a lot of looks and packages and keep the offense off-balance.”
Three plays later, on fourth and four, Franklin caught Mansfield in a blitz. Martins was free down the seam and Arone picked out his wide open tight end for a back-breaking 34-yard score.
“This a huge moment, Mansfield is a great program, but wins are not our goals,” Bain said when asked about staying focused on the schedule ahead. “It’s an elite result but we can’t forget that reaching our goals every day got us this result, so tomorrow and then Sunday and Monday we’ve got to keep achieving greatness every day.”
For Redding and the Hornets, they face undefeated Milford next, knowing that a second loss would effectively end their chances at claiming another league title. He explained, “I don’t know if anyone can run the table. So, next week is do or die. If we bring our ‘A’ game then we have a shot to win. If we stay sloppy, then we’re going to struggle. But I like our kids’ character and I think we’ll be back next Friday.”
Franklin (4-0) will try to keep its perfect season going next week with a visit from Taunton. Mansfield (3-1) will host Milford at Alumni Field.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield might be a young team with a lot of inexperience on both sides of the ball, but through three games the Hornets have looked like veterans.
For the third straight game,
Mansfield rallied from a deficit to earn a win, this time in impressive fashion in the form of a 42-14 win over Stoughton, the first meeting between the longtime Hockomock rivals since 2012.
The Hornets had to score a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to take home a win against St. John’s Shrewsbury after seeing a halftime lead disappear. Last week, it took a last-minute drive the length of the field to force overtime against North Attleboro, a game in which they won in double overtime.
On Friday night, Stoughton stunned the home side by scoring the first two touchdowns of the game. The Black Knights scored on their second drive of the game and on the first play of the second quarter, and were just five minutes away from taking a 14-0 lead into halftime.
“When the first quarter ended, this was not what I expected to be on the scoreboard at the end,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “I thought we were going to be in a dog fight and the way it was going, I thought we’d be lucky to pull it out. We were making mistakes, they were capitalizing and they were aggressive on both sides of the ball.”
Stoughton had to punt after going three-and-out on its first possession of the game, but on Mansfield’s second play of their first drive, the ball came loose on the handoff, and Anthony Girolamo, making his season debut after suffering an injury during the Fall 2 season, pounced on it to give the visitors possession.
The Black Knights got the first down on a gift when the Hornets jumped offside on fourth down but the visitors earned the next one when Girolamo rumbled for 12 yards on a fourth and two situation. On the next play, Jonah Ly bounced to the left side and Girolamo delivered a big block to a member of the secondary, springing Ly for a 14-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
Stoughton’s defense held when Emmett Pearl came up with a big tackle for no gain on fourth down at the Black Knight 40-yard line, forcing a turnover on downs. A sack from Mark DeGirolamo set Stoughton back but on third and 10, the Knights ran a screen play and sophomore quarterback Jarred Daughtry found Ly on the left side and he took off down the sideline. Junior Tyler Noel came up with the final block and Ly went in for a 50-yard score and a 14-0 lead just moments into the second quarter.
But from there, Mansfield showed how quickly it can change a game.
The Hornets overcame self-inflicted penalties to complete their largest drive of the game: 15 plays for 73 yards, capped by a two-yard plunge from Rocco Scarpellini. Stoughton looked to have a huge stop on third down in the red zone but were flagged for pass interference.
Mansfield converted the short third down and Scarpellini scored on the next play to halve the deficit with 4:04 left until halftime.
Momentum completely swung in favor of the Hornets when senior Braeden Veno came up with a strip sack on Stoughton’s next drive and Jephte Jean recovered for the home team.
Five plays later, the Hornets found the end zone. Junior Conner Zukowski (15-for-18, 174 yards, three touchdowns) floated a screen pass to sophomore Brian Butler, who won the jump ball just over a Stoughton defender and went in for a 6-yard touchdown. Mansfield knotted the score, 14-14, on James Gilleran’s point after with 21 seconds left in the first half.
“The big drive was the first touchdown, we had all those penalties and still overcame it and got it to 14-7, and just a little bit of change in momentum and kind of took some pressure off,” Redding said. “Then we get the fumble and another one before halftime and that just changed the whole game, kind of flipped it on its head. If we don’t convert there and it’s 14-0 at halftime, this is a whole different game.”
Mansfield received the kickoff to start the second half and the offense continued to roll. The Hornets scored on four straight possessions in the second half, the only drive that didn’t end in points was the final one when the clock ran out.
“The second touchdown really hurt,’ said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “We should have just run the ball, punted if we had to, and go into half at 14-7. Next thing you know, they’re ahead. They had one or two big runs and they hurt us on a couple of passes. If you don’t move the ball and you give them the ball, you’re in trouble.
“I wish we had a better result but the kids tried. We’re down in numbers overall, we had three starters out. I’m not saying it changes everything but it would have helped for sure. It was great to get Girolamo back, once he gets going he’ll be fine. We had some chances to play better but we just didn’t get it done. But we’ll keep working hard at it.”
It took just four plays for the hosts to find the end zone in the second half. Faced with third and 12 near midfield, Zukowski found sophomore CJ Bell wide open downfield and dropped a pass into his hands. Bell spun free from a tackle and dove across the goal line for a score.
“We knew coming in after looking at their lineup, they have eight or nine kids that play every snap,” Redding said. “I thought that meant we could win the fourth quarter, which turned into maybe we had to score to win in the fourth, but I thought we wore them down a little running the ball.”
Sophomore Trevor Foley came away with an interception on the next Stoughton series and took it all the way to the house for a 50-yard interception return but a block in the back nullified the score. Instead, on the first play of the ensuing series, Zukowski threaded the needle up the seam to Foley for a 24-yard touchdown.
After a Stoughton punt, the Hornets were looking at 3rd and one from midfield. Stoughton sent a lot of pressure up the middle and Scarpellini got free after he bounced out wide, scampering the rest of the way for a 50-yard touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Curtis took over midway through the next series and had back-to-back option keepers, the latter going for an 11-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.
“It’s good to know with all the youth that we’ve got some character,” Redding said of the ability to come back in each week so far. “No one has really panicked, I think the kids realized at the end of the [first] quarter we had got get it going in a hurry. But for a bunch of young kids, especially at the skill positions, they don’t seem to get rattled and just move onto the next possession. In all three games, we’ve had a really good 36 minutes but we’ve had a 12-minute span where one quarter we just don’t play well but fortunately, we had enough time to overcome it.
“But we have our hands full the next two weeks with Franklin and Milford back-to-back, whoever did the schedule didn’t do us any favors. We’ve gotta bring our ‘A’ game for 48 minutes for the league schedule, there are some heavy hitters in the Kelley-Rex division. The next two weeks should be fun in the Hockomock.”
Mansfield football (3-0) opens Kelley-Rex division play next week when they hit the road to take on Franklin (3-0), who took down Duxbury on Friday night. Stoughton (1-2) is also back on the road, taking a trip down Route 138 to take on Oliver Ames (1-2).
Attleboro struggled on the offensive side of the ball last year, scoring only 44 points in six games and not scoring a touchdown until the fifth game of the season. The Bombardiers will need to improve on that side of the ball to try and move up the standings and challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex. With eight returning starters on both sides of the ball, Attleboro can rely on an experienced roster to try and turn things around this fall.
It will be obvious where Attleboro’s strength lies. The Bombardiers run 6’3 285, 6’3 255, 6’2 285, and 6’3 305 at the guard and tackle positions. They are going to try and overpower teams. The leader of that group is senior Chris Leonardo, who is a force on both sides of the ball. Seniors Alvin Harrison, Jacob Struminski, and Isaac Pereira are a formidable front and junior Isaiah Miranda will be back at center. Experience and size are important, but the Bombardiers will need its array of running backs to take advantage. Seniors Ryan Betts, Freddy Wheaton, Keigan Conley, and Kaiden Murray will all get the chance to carry the ball. Junior Aiden Hochwarter returns under center after taking over midway through last year and he will have classmate Anthony Salviati to throw to out wide and senior tight end Christian Dame.
The Attleboro defense will also rely on its strength up front with Leonardo and Harrison controlling the middle. The linebackers have plenty of experience, with Dame, Wheaton, Betts, Conley, and senior Hayden Hegarty all coming back after seeing significant time last year. The secondary has a lot of athleticism. Junior Ethan Lako, Salviati, and Murray are all capable of making big plays and forcing turnovers.
“It is great to have some normalcy back this fall,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have eight returning starters on each side of the ball this season and we have great senior leadership. We are looking to a great fall season.”
All eyes are on Mansfield and King Philip as the favorites in the Kelley-Rex and that’s how coach Eian Bain likes it. The Panthers are certainly flying under the radar a bit but that might not last very long, especially after their success during the preseason has turned some heads.
Having a lot of familiar faces in key positions will be an early advantage for the Panthers, who have a strong non-league schedule that starts with Wachusett and features perennial state powerhouse Duxbury. Senior Jared Arone gained a lot of experience at quarterback during the Fall 2 season and could be poised for a big year with a full schedule on tap. Part of the reason why is because of all the weapons around him. Both Shane Kindred and Will Tracey developed a lot of chemistry with the QB in the abbreviated season and will be his main two targets this year.
And while the Panthers have developed a reputation for a pass-heavy offense, we saw a much more balanced approach during the spring and with senior running back Mack Gulla ready for a breakout season, it’s likely that balance continues. Gulla is a tough runner that will keep defenses honest; he isn’t just going to help set up the passing game, he’s a true threat to run all over defenses. It will all start up front and the Panthers have center Ethan Aeillo and tackle Jack Porkorny back in starting roles.
Senior Joe Tirrell and junior Luke Davis give the Panthers a veteran presence in the secondary. Franklin allowed over 20 points per game last season but will be looking to bring that number down some this year as they try and establish themselves as a contender in the division. Senior Jonathan Martins impressed last season and will be a key piece on the defensive line while the linebackers will be anchored by senior Cullen Pek.
“The Panthers return many familiar faces but face a tough task of replacing some key positions,” Bain said. “Many players have stepped up but there is still a lot to be answered before the home opener against Wachusett.”
King Philip has a strong core of returning players set to compete for the Kelley-Rex crown this Fall season but the Warriors are hoping to develop some depth along the way as they navigate through one of the state’s toughest schedules.
KP is still hurting from the Fall 2 season, when they lost six players to season-ending surgery, four of which were starters. With a quick turnaround to this season, the Warriors will still be without those players but there is still lots of excitement around those who will be on the field this year. Senior Charlie Grant returns as the starter at quarterback and has some weapons to utilize around them, starting with receivers Danny Clancy, Nick Viscusi, and Jonathan Joseph. All three have varsity experience and are seniors. Junior Rudy Gately and senior Crawford Cantave give the Warriors a thunder and lightning running back combination. Senior Drew Danson was set to be one of the top tight ends in the league but is out due to injury. Sophomore Thomas McLeish will also be in the mix to play at quarterback and Grant could see time at receiver.
Hunter Hastings and Chris Sesay are the returners on the offensive line and will start at the tackle positions while Dan Nineve will be the center and Amro Ismail and Sean King man the guard positions. It will be a lot of the same names on the other side of the ball with Hastings, King, and Sesay all playing both ways. Junior Nate Kearney will also be in the mix as a pass rusher.
The veteran group on defense will be the KP secondary, which features a lot of familiar faces. Both Cantave (safety) and Viscusi (corner) had really strong junior seasons and will lead the way alongside junior Thomas Brewster, senior Eli Reed, and Joseph, who has really impressed so far this preseason. There will be a little inexperience at linebacker but the Warriors have Gately back in the fold alongside senior Jake Sullivan and junior Will Astorino. Matt Kelley is back as the starting kicker.
“I love my team, great kids,” said KP head coach Brian Lee. “We just have to make sure ready to go every single week. It’s been kind of a burn, playing in the Spring. It feels like we’ve been going, going, going, but now we have to focus on staying healthy and getting through Thanksgiving. It’s been fun to be around them, they are good kids that work hard. Hopefully, we can turn that into being successful.”
Mansfield won the 2019 state title, is riding a 16-game win streak, hasn’t lost a game in league play since September 2017, and hasn’t lost an in-state game since a triple-OT thriller against Foxboro at Fenway to close out 2018, so the Hornets have earned the target that is on their backs this fall. Everyone will be aiming to be the first Hock team to hand the Hornets a loss and try to end a three-year run as the top team in the Kelley-Rex. Although there are some guys in new spots, especially at the skill positions, Mansfield returns 10 starters and several players who saw significant action off the bench last year.
The offense will be powered by an experienced line. Four of five starters return from last year with only junior center Colton Johnson added. Seniors Mark DeGirolamo, Joe Forte, and James Gilleran, and junior Jephte Jean are all back and should give the Hornets an edge up front. Junior Conner Zukowski will be the new starting quarterback and he will have several new weapons to call on. Juniors Drew Sacco and Rocco Scarpellini are new starters in the backfield, but both were called on plenty last season. Senior Dana Johnson and sophomore Trevor Foley will get the start out wide.
Defense has been Mansfield’s calling card during its run, as the Hornets allowed only 23 points in six games last year. DeGirolamo and classmate Braeden Veno are back on the defensive line along with Jean and senior Pedro Cruz. All three starting linebackers returned, as seniors Zander Holmes and James Fichera are paired with Scarpellini. Junior safety Ryan DeGirolamo is the only starter back in the secondary and will need to provide leadership for sophomores Foley and CJ Bell. Senior Jared Fraone will start at the other corner spot.
Mansfield coach Mike Redding is counting on a tough preseason, against state powers Everett and Central Catholic, to help the Hornets prepare. He is also excited about the new statewide playoff system that could pair Mansfield with a new set of tournament opponents as they seek to make it a three-peat in Div. 2.
Milford made a successful move into the Kelley-Rex last season. Under first-year coach Dale Olson, the Hawks earned a first-ever win over perennial league power King Philip and finished second in the division. This year, the Hawks will try to make another title challenge despite having several new faces stepping into important roles.
On offense, the Hawks will be transitioning from the pass-first offense that Brady Olson ran last year. Junior Evan Cornelius is a very different quarterback, who will bring a lot of size and strength to the position (which makes sense, since he also plays defensive end). Graduation took away a lot of dynamic playmakers from last year’s offense but seniors Tyler Lane, Angelo Romero, and Grant Scudo will give Milford a deep backfield and last year senior Jaden Agnew emerged as a major threat in the passing game.
The Hawks will be tough up front again this year on both sides of the ball. Seniors Alex McColl and Marco Monteiro are big and tough and will open holes on offense while clogging running lanes on the other side. Cornelius will add a threat on the edge defensively and the linebacking corps continues to be a factor, led by Lane and Romero. Scudo seeks out the ball at safety and is always a threat to force a turnover.
Olson admits that his team lacks experience at the skill positions, but he added, “Having three scrimmages will help prepare the first-year varsity kids to play week one.”
Taunton didn’t have the best record during the Fall 2 season but the opportunity to just get on the field and play was incredibly valuable for the Tigers. There are less than a dozen seniors (eight) on the roster for the Tigers this season so head coach Brad Sidwell will be looking for a strong class of juniors, as well as some sophomores, to make up the majority of the lineup this Fall.
A good chunk of those juniors were inserted into the starting lineup or played a large number of snaps just five months ago when the Tigers played six games. That allowed the Tigers to build some depth for the upcoming season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Junior Jake Leonard got a jump start to his career when he took over for an injured Danny MacDougall. That experience will be key as he begins his first full season as the starter under center. Leonard will have three veteran options to work with in senior captains Trent Santos and Nate Keenan — two receivers — and tight end Nick Lima. Senior Faisal Mass will be a big target as a tight end, also providing key blocking on the line, while seniors Jon Castillo (receiver), Jack Moitiso (offensive line) and Evan Perrota (running back) will be in the mix as well.
Junior Ryan MacDougall started on the offensive line last season and will be joined by classmates Nate Laplante, William Guachiculca-Torres, and Logan Frank while sophomore Bryan Joanis will also be in the mix so some playing time. Keenan could also get some carries out of the backfield while junior Bryan Batista could emerge as a go-to option carrying the ball. Juniors Tyler Wynn, Isaiah Williams, and McKyen Gonsalves are three names to watch as receiving options for Leonard.
Taunton has a lot of experience in its secondary with both Santos and Keenan playing on both sides of the ball, and that experience will be a big strength for the Tigers. There is also a lot of depth in the linebackers, starting with Lima, who uses his speed to attack the ball. He can also step out and play in coverage or drop back into a safety role if needed. Lima will be joined by Frank, MacDougall, and Perrota as linebackers. On the line, Laplante had a strong sophomore season and could be poised for a breakout year.
Taunton will prepare for the ever-challenging division slate with non-league games against New Bedford, Durfee, and Middleboro in its first three weeks. It also marks the first year of its new Thanksgiving rivalry with Milford.
“We’re excited to begin the season with this group after productive preseason practices and scrimmages,” said head coach Brad Sidwell. “Although we only have eight seniors, many of our players gained experience in the spring season. We need to improve through the non-league start of the season as the Hockomock Kelley-Rex is always a challenge for any of the teams involved.”
MILFORD, Mass. – In last week’s season-opening win, Mansfield’s explosive offense was on full display with five touchdowns.
In week two, it was all about the Hornets’ defense.
Going up a powerful Milford offense that put up 34 points in their first game of the season, Mansfield’s defensive group was near perfect. The Hornets forced four turnovers, limited the Hawks to under 200 yards of offense, and pitched a shutout for the final three quarters to earn a 20-7 win on the road.
It marked the first meeting between the two squads since Milford joined the Hockomock League for football in 2013 with the Hawks making the switch to the Kelley-Rex division at the start of the 2020 school year.
“Story of the day, the defense played lights out,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “Scoring a touchdown for us, which in this game, was huge. Instead of just a six-point lead, it’s 13. The defense did a great job against a very good collection of receivers and [Brady] Olson can throw the ball. We gave them a few but nothing big, they popped the one run but after that, we were lights out, and thank goodness because this was really one of our sloppiest offensive performances in a long time.”
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Mansfield forced a turnover on Milford’s first possession of the game, Anthony Comer grabbed back-to-back interceptions with the first returned for a touchdown, and Hornets added another pick in the early moments of the fourth quarter.
The Hornets opened the game in style with freshman CJ Bel giving the visitors good field position at midfield after a good return. From there, Mansfield needed just six plays to find the end zone. Cincere Gill (20 carries, 117 yards) broke free for a 16-yard run on third down (his longest carry of the game), and three plays later, Gill — out of the wildcat — handed it off to Comer on a sweep to the left for an 18-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than four minutes in.
Milford completed a third down pass on its opening drive but Mansfield corner Nick Bertolino punched the ball free and recovered the fumble, giving the Hornets the ball back at the Hawks’ 20-yard line. But as good as Mansfield’s defense was throughout, the Milford defense had a strong outing as well.
Hampered by a fumble and a holding call (Mansfield was flagged 10 times in the game), the Hornets offense stalled and Milford forced an incompletion on fourth to get the ball back. The momentum carried over to the offensive side of the ball and the Hawks cashed in just two plays later. With the offense spread out with four receivers, Milford handed it off to senior Dom Schofield up the middle and he found a hole and went the distance for a 69-yard touchdown, tying the game 7-7 with 3:45 left in the first quarter.
From that point, there weren’t many offensive highlights for either squad.
Mansfield had to punt on its next two possessions, but the second one off the foot of Gill took a favorable bounce for the Hornets and was downed at the Milford 5-yard line. On second down, Mansfield’s Caden Colby and Mark DeGirolamo came flying in at Milford quarterback Brady Olson (9/28, 91 yards), who fired a short pass to the right side. Comer read the play, stepped in front and intercepted the pass, and sprinted into the end zone for a 14-yard return.
“It was a hard game, it was hard with our penalties, and they have a very good offense but we just executed on defense,” Comer said. “We held our guys to short-yardage and covered our guys. On the pick-six, I saw green. I was just running for the hills, I wanted the touchdown. We watched a lot of film, watching how they execute so we were ready.”
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Milford started to orchestrate a response as Olson hit Max Martin for 13 yards on first down, and then a late hit on the Hornets moved the ball 15 more yards to the Mansfield 39-yard line. TJ Guy stopped the Hawks for a loss in the backfield but a holding call in the secondary once again moved the chains for the hosts, getting to the Mansfield 24-yard line.
Guy helped stuff another Milford run on first down, and on second down Olson’s pass hit off a receiver’s hands and Comer was able to come down with the deflection for his second straight interception, putting an end to another Milford drive.
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“Anthony played a great two-way game for us,” Redding said. “We felt we really needed him on defense today to cover, he’s one of our quicker guys and made some big plays for us. We’ve played two good spread teams and held them each to 7. We still have to get sharper on offense but the next couple of weeks it will be more about defending the running game. Taunton and KP are big, they’re going to try and bang, run the ball.”
Mansfield capitalized on the interception with its best drive of the game. The Hornets traveled 82 yards on 10 plays, taking off five minutes of game clock, and cashed in with another touchdown with under a minute to play in the half.
Gill had three straight runs that combined for over 20 yards early in the drive, and when the Hornets were backed up by a delay of game call, Gill hauled in a 21-yard pass from quarterback Matt Boen, just eluding the Milford defender along the sideline.
Comer turned a broken play into 18 yards, Nico Holmes burst up the middle for 7 yards, and on second and goal from the three, Boen sold the option and kept it himself, leaping across the goal line for a touchdown, giving Mansfield a 20-7 lead with 0:49 left in the first half.
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“That was big, I thought we wasted [an opportunity] before that…we came down and scored, got the ball back but we didn’t convert and they come down and tie the game,” Redding said. “We fortunately got a couple of more before half, and I thought the one right before halftime was a big turning point.
“When we do things right, we’re good but we didn’t do things right very often today. We’re getting way too many penalties and we just really have to work hard on offense getting sharper and executing because we’re too good not to score in a half no matter who we’re playing.”
Carter Scudo had a big return to the Mansfield 33-yard line to give the hosts a final shot before the break, but the Hornets forced four straight incompletions.
“All we ask for today is for them to give us 48 minutes and I thought they did that,” said first-year Milford head coach Dale Olson. “A couple of plays didn’t go our way today, that should have been 7-7 game in the fourth quarter and anybody’s game. But you live and you learn. But this is what Milford football is going to be from here on out, we’re going to contend. We have to get back on the horse because we have to play a very good KP team next week.”
Olson connected with Keithly Sutton on a bubble screen to move the chains on Milford’s first drive of the second half but the Hawks couldn’t capitalize as the Hornets shut the hosts down on the next three plays, including a perfectly-timed pass breakup by Bertolino.
“We feel Milford is as talented as anybody in the Kelley-Rex so if we didn’t beat them here today, they were going to run the table so, for us, it was basically a must-win game,” Redding said. “We want to be in the league race when we’re playing KP and Attleboro so you have to win today. I don’t Milford loses again moving forward, they have good linemen, I think the best QB in the league, great receivers. We’ve won [the Kelley-Rex division] a couple of times in a row but we felt pressure that it was a must-win for us against them on their field.”
Milford’s defense continued to do its part as Mansfield managed just two total yards on its first two drives, both resulting in punts including a third down kick to try and flip field position. The Hawks did a good job bottling up the Mansfield rushing attack, getting key tackles and pushes up front from the likes of Schofield, Scudo, Evan Cornelius, Grant Scudo, Alex McColl, Evan Hazard, Nick Yohn, Mario Lee, and Tyler Lane.
“I think we struggled a little bit today getting off jams at the wide receiver spot, I thought [Brady] pressed a little bit today,” Olson said. “Instead of standing in there a few times, he got out of the pocket when he didn’t need to. But listen, that’s a great football team we just played. I couldn’t be prouder of how our kids handled themselves today.
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“Realistically, I look up at the scoreboard and it should have been 7-7. We had our opportunities, could have had 1st and goal but instead, it was an interception. They ball-controlled us but our defense was outstanding today. All of the film I’ve watched, I haven’t seen a team hold Gill like that. They didn’t really hurt us today with their offense, I thought it was more a matter of our offense couldn’t get going.”
However, the Hawks’ offense just could never get going, punting twice to start the second half and then had its third drive of the second half come to a sudden stop when Gill intercepted a pass at his own 30-yard line.
Mansfield was able to move the ball enough to kill a lot of clock in the fourth quarter and Milford’s final drive ended on downs.
Mansfield football (2-0) is on the road for the second straight week when it travels to Taunton for a 4:30 kickoff on Friday. Milford (1-1) will face another stiff test next week when it hosts King Philip (2-0) on Saturday at 1:00.
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MANSFIELD, Mass. – It had been 15 months since Mansfield last walked off the field, at Gillette Stadium, holding the 2019 Div. 2 state championship trophy. When the lights came on for Friday night’s Fall II season opener at Alumni Field, the Hornets showed no rust after such a long layoff and, in fact, it looked like they hadn’t missed a beat.
Mansfield scored after just three plays, had six first half touchdowns, half of them by senior running back Cincere Gill, scored twice on defense, and rolled to a 49-7 victory against Franklin.
“It’s been a long, long wait,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “All fall everybody just held their breath that we maybe would get a chance to play and it was almost surreal you walk out here and it’s 60 degrees on a Friday night and it felt like September.
“Lights go on, it’s Friday night, we don’t care what month it is, it felt like Friday night lights.”
It took no time for the Hornets to show how dynamic they can be on offense. Gill (167 total yards) proved to be unstoppable, going for 21 yards on the first play and 34 on the second to get the Hornets down to the Franklin six. On the next play, Nico Holmes (81 total yards) bullied his way into the end zone and James Gilleran added one of his seven extra points for an early 7-0 lead.
On its next possession, Mansfield showed different facets of its offense. Matt Boen, who Redding said was playing quarterback for the first time since seventh grade, hit Gill for 19 yards and Anthony Comer (81 total yards) took a draw for 17. After Gill missed Boen on a deep pass, he took the next snap right up the middle and raced for a 52-yard score.
“Everybody thinks they run a 4.3…and when you get out there and see a real 4.3, 4.4 kid, you know it,” said Franklin coach Eian Bain about Gill. “Super talented and you combine that with the beef that they have, you know, a lot of times we sort of pride ourselves on having speed and that’s maybe our neutralizer and tonight it wasn’t. They had the best of both worlds.”
Not to be outdone, the Mansfield defense got into the act. On a second and 11 play, the Hornets blew up and attempted screen pass and Sean Weber got a hand on Jared Arone’s attempted pass. The ball fell to Rocco Scarpellini, who took the interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
Despite trailing 21-0, Franklin’s offense was finding some success in the passing game. Arone (21-of-32, 193 yards), a first-year starter, connected with Shane Kindred nine times and with Jake O’Brien six times. On their third possession, the Panthers were able to finish a drive.
Arone hit O’Brien for 20 yards out near midfield. After getting into Mansfield territory, Franklin faced a fourth and one. A well-executed roll-out screen pass to Kindred gained eight yards and kept the drive going. A screen pass to Mack Gulla put the Panthers in the red zone and on the next play Will Tracey went up and got a pass at the front pylon for a 19-yard touchdown.
The momentum was short-lived because the Hornets just had too much on offense. CJ Bell’s return gave Mansfield good starting field position and Boen fired a pass to Comer for 33 yards down to the Franklin 14. After a low snap pushed the Hornets back a few yards, Boen threw a perfect pass to hit Holmes on the wheel route for a 17-yard score and a 28-7 lead.
A fumble recovery handed Mansfield back the ball at its own 45 and the Hornets made quick work of the short field. Boen hit tight end Everett Knowlton on the run for 34 yards and, after a holding call, followed it with an 11-yard keeper. Gill got the hand off, went straight up the middle, and made a quick cut to the right, walking in untouched with a 20-yard TD.
Mansfield forced a three-and-out and got the ball back at its 33. Jake Wall took a jet sweep to the left and rushed for 20 yards into Franklin territory. Comer had a pair of carries to get the ball to the five. Gill got the call. He started left towards the Mansfield sideline but was blocked off, turned back and reversed around to the far side, found a tiny seam, and cut it upfield to find pay dirt for a third time.
“I think everyone was worried about such a long layoff that we’d be sloppy but we’ve got a lot of experience back,” Redding explained. “We executed and then when we didn’t execute you give the ball to Cincere and he runs to daylight. He makes a lot of bad plays look good.”
Jack Colby tacked on a second defensive touchdown when he picked off a pass right in front of his bench and ran it back 35 yards. Caden Colby added Mansfield’s third interception in the fourth quarter.
After reaching the Div. 1 South final last year, Franklin graduated all of its starting skill position players. Many of the Panthers were seeing their first significant varsity minutes and getting that experience against the league’s top team.
“It was a learning curve, but we knew what we were getting,” Bain admitted. “Yes, they are really, really good. I told my guys, TJ Guy is going to play on Sunday, there’s not a doubt in my mind…but a lot of it was just little details in our assignments, our techniques, in our eyes, and little things I think we can correct. A lot of things we had to work out of our system tonight.”
Redding acknowledged the advantage Mansfield has in terms of offensive firepower. He said, “Cincere and Anthony are just so explosive. We didn’t get the ball to Jake Wall but he can fly. Everett is a good tight end, Nico can get tough yards up inside. We’re not a typical high school football team in terms of skill and then the front five up front blocking are very, very good.”
Mansfield (1-0) will be on the road next week to face Milford for the first time. Franklin (0-1) will be on the road again when it travels to Taunton.