Nunes, Furtado Power Attleboro to Win at North

Brian Letourneau Brendan Nunes
Brian Letourneau (34) and Brendan Nunes (18) were named the game’s MVPs and won the Balfour Trophies for Attleboro’s win over North on Thanksgiving. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For the second time in three years, Hilda will be heading back to Attleboro High.

Brendan Nunes rushed for 205 yards and two scores and caught a third touchdown from sophomore Cam Furtado, who also added two rushing scores of his own, as Attleboro (7-4) rolled to a 34-21 victory to win its second straight Thanksgiving Day game against North Attleboro at Community Field.

Attleboro head coach Mike Strachan said, “North Attleboro is one of the best programs in the state and we had to play one of our best games to win this afternoon and I think we did. We executed offensively and defensively and in special teams we did.”

Nunes started his season with four touchdowns in the opening win against Bishop Feehan, but late in that game picked up a high ankle sprain. He missed 2-1/2 games due to the injury and was limited when he did take the field. With a healthy Nunes in the backfield, the Attleboro offense clicked into gear on Thursday.

“We did a great job up front,” said Nunes. “My guys did a great job and couldn’t have done it without them. They set it all up for me.”

Senior lineman Kyle Murphy added, “Nobody can stop that kid. I really think he should’ve won Hock MVP because he’s the best running back in the league.”

North Attleboro (9-2) took the early lead on its first possession with an impressive seven-play, 80-yard drive. Sophomore quarterback Chad Peterson hit Kyle Gaumond down the seam on North’s first play from scrimmage for a 44-yard gain into Attleboro territory. Peterson (12-23, 194 yards) capped the drive with the first of his two touchdown passes, hitting Ridge Olsen (five catches, 77 yards) over the middle for 18 yards.

The Rocketeers gifted Attleboro a chance to get back into the game with a short punt that allowed the Bombardiers to start at the North 27. Nunes broke free for a 16 yard sweep and three plays later punched it in from five yards to tie the game.

Another struggle in the punting game gave Attleboro the ball at the North 39 on its next possession. Nunes broke another 16-yard run through the middle and then on the next play Furtado pump faked short and threw the ball to the front corner of the end zone where Nunes made the grab for a 23-yard score. The extra point was wide left and it was 13-7.

“He’s a special athlete,” said Strachan about Nunes. “He’s just gifted. To do what he did – 1,000-yard rusher, Balfour Trophy, bringing Hilda back to Attleboro – I think for me it says everything about the kid. He’s a true leader.”

The mistakes continued for North Attleboro on its next possession. Bobby Mylod fumbled at the Attleboro 44 and Sam Iampierto jumped on it for the Bombardiers.

Attleboro marched down to the North 20 where it faced third and 10 with fewer than 20 seconds remaining. Running behind Kyle Murphy, Furtado (14 carries, 59 yards) took off down the near sideline and broke a tackle at the goal line for a touchdown with five seconds left in the half. The Bombardiers went for a trick play on the conversion with the holder flipping it to Furtado and he found Alex Silva for two.

“I thought in the first half in particular we really hurt ourselves,” said North Attleboro coach Don Johnson. “We weren’t good in the kicking game, so we didn’t have good field position the whole first half and then we made some mistakes.”

The Bombardiers tacked on another touchdown with 3:36 left in the third quarter. Davon Andrade sacked Furtado to force third and 18, but Nunes broke free for a 31-yard gain down to the North two-yard line. On the next play, Furtado faked a sweep to Nunes and walked in untouched for the score.

“He really stepped up,” said Murphy about Furtado, who took over midway through the season. “He has a lot of confidence; he’s a tough kid; and he’s going to make a big difference the next two years.”

North cut the lead to two scores on its next possession, when Peterson hit Gaumond on a fly pattern down the sideline. The 30-yard score made it 28-14, but the momentum only lasted four plays. Furtado and John Burns each gained 19 yards and then Nunes got the edge and broke away for 31 yards and another TD.

“We got a little momentum going but then we throw an interception,” said Johnson, “It seemed like it was one of those days that everything we tried we couldn’t really get going.”

Kyle McCarthy took over under center for North in the fourth quarter. He was 5-5 for 45 yards on his one drive and found Olsen for a 16-yard touchdown. The North receiver pulled in the pass against double coverage.

“I think overall we just got worn down at the end of the season,” said Johnson. “I think we got the most that we could get out of this team and i think we got a little worn down down the stretch.”

After snapping a 20-year drought against its arch-rival in 2008, Attleboro has now won two of the last three Thanksgiving Day match-ups and added a league win against North in 2013.

Strachan played at North Attleboro and has coached the Bombardiers since 2013. He understand the rivalry from both sides and he explained that it has always been about more than just the results on the field.

“This is the community,” he said. “We’re rivals, but at the end of the day we have a tremendous amount of respect for each other and for me that’s the most important thing.”

When asked how it felt to beat North, Nunes, who received the Balfour Trophy as the game’s offensive MVP, responded, “It’s the greatest feeling of my life. I’ll never forget it.”

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

North Beats Mansfield, Stands Alone Atop Division

Kyle Gaumond
Kyle Gaumond (28) knocks the pass away from Hunter Ferreira (3) on fourth down to preserve a 14-13 win for North Attleboro and clinch the outright Kelley-Rex Division title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield coach Mike Redding has North Attleboro roots. Although he has been in charge of the Hornets for over 25 years and bleeds green, he took a moment after Friday night’s installment of this fierce rivalry to go to the Rocketeers celebrating at Alumni Field and congratulate them on the league title and urge them to bring home the Div. 3 state title.

It was a classy move by the Mansfield coach at the end of another emotional matchup between longtime rivals and perennial title challengers that North Attleboro won 14-13 to clinch the Kelley-Rex title outright and potentially the No. 1 seed in Div. 3 Southwest.

“This is great high school football,” said Redding. “It was a slugfest, two great teams, two great defenses, yards were hard to come by but both teams did enough to put themselves in position to win.”

The win gives North Attleboro its first league title since 2011 and its first outright Hockomock title since 2008. Once again, as has been the case all season, it was the Rocketeers defense that came up with the plays to win the game.

Leading by just a point with time winding down in the fourth quarter, North punted. Mansfield took over at its own 37 with less than five minutes remaining.

The Hornets got to the Rocketeers 33 and threw incomplete on first down. On second and 10, North dialed up a blitz and Bobby Mylod shot the gap to stuff Brian Lynch for a six-yard loss. On third down, the Rocketeers came again and sacked Anthony DeGirolamo for a seven-yard loss back to the 46. On fourth down, Kyle Gaumond leapt and swiped the ball out of the hands of Hunter Ferreira to end the drive.

North Attleboro ran out the clock and celebrated the victory.

“What we were trying to do is just get pressure on the quarterback,” said North coach Don Johnson. “I thought they had guys that they could throw to in the passing game…We were worried about it the whole game.”

“Defense has been doing it for us all year,” he added with a smile. “I’d just like the offense to score a couple more and make it a little easier for us.”

The Rocketeers offense looked great at the start of the game. Against a Mansfield defense that has been solid all season, North took the opening kickoff and marched 67 yards on 14 plays to take the lead.

Nick Morrison (12 carries, 68 yards) was big on the drive with six rushes, including a crucial fourth down and one gain of seven yards near midfield. Sophomore quarterback Chad Peterson showed off his arm hitting Davon Andrade for 18 yards and then snuck a shovel pass to Mylod on fourth and one from the four for the go-ahead score.

North Attleboro would not get another first down until its second possession of the third quarter.

Johnson said, “I think they frustrated us a little on offense. We had some blown assignments that we haven’t had in a few weeks, but I think that had a lot to do with their scheme over there.”

Mansfield was not able to get much going offensively but got a little spark right before the half. Ben Budwey’s punt return set the Hornets up at the North 37. DeGirolamo (7-11, 165 yards) hit Ferreira for 18 yards and then, following a four-yard loss, hit him again for another 10.

The Hornets had to settle for a 23-yard Diogo DeSousa field goal but were on the board and went into the break down 7-3.

To start the third quarter, DeGirolamo was strip sacked by Thomas Reynolds and Thomas Kummer jumped on the loose ball at the Hornets 37. But the Mansfield defense forced a turnover on downs, helped in part by Joe Bukuras’ tackle in the flat on Nick Dean for a four-yard loss on third and one.

The Hornets offense took advantage of the momentum swing and drove 71 yards on eight plays to take Mansfield’s first lead. DeGirolamo and Ferreira (six catches, 164 yards) hooked up for a 32-yard completion into North territory and then combined again on a 12-yard touchdown pass to the front pylon that put Mansfield ahead 10-7.

“He made some great passes,” said Redding of DeGirolamo. “Hunter is a great athlete and we tried to get him the ball tonight.”

“The offense is coming together. We just need to find a way to get to 21-24 and with our defense we’re going to win games.”

The lead was short-lived, as North Attleboro showed its resiliency to bounce right back. Peterson hit Ridge Olsen on the far side of the field for 14 yards and Nick Rajotte got 11, before Morrison broke free down the North sideline sprinting past his cheering teammates and the Hornets defense for a 39-yard score.

“We had the momentum,” said Redding, “and if we get one stop there and get the ball back with the lead, I think we win it. But, they’re a championship team, they answered, and they scored.”

Mansfield was not done. After a Connor Flynn sack pushed the Hornets back to third and 21 from their own 27, DeGirolamo and Ferreira connected on a 64-yard pass (taking advantage of a slip by the defensive back) down to the North nine. Again, the Hornets had to settle for a field goal and trailed 14-13 with 7:58 left.

Redding explained, “We thought we outplayed them in the second half and probably needed to score on the drive before, but we didn’t want to come up empty and thought that if we got a field goal and got the ball back that we felt good about driving.”

“Tonight we were just one drive away.”

Mylod, Gaumond, and the North defense did enough to stymie the Hornets on their final drive. When a personal foul flag was thrown for a late hit out of bounds on Mansfield with 1:30 left, the game was won and so was the title.

“I felt this team got over the hump and gained that confidence,” said Johnson. “This week in practice I had that feeling that everyone knew what they were doing for the first time. They entered the game with a lot of confidence.”

Even in defeat, Redding felt that this game had plenty of positives for the Hornets with the Div. 2 playoffs looming. He said, “We get a second life next week; this isn’t the end of the season. If we play like we did tonight, then we can make a run.”

He shook hands with the media and walked over to the North Attleboro players. As Mansfield made its way to the locker room, turning its back on the loss and focusing on next week, the Rocketeers stayed on the field taking a couple of moments to savor the win for a few more moments before moving forward.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Dominant Defensive Effort Boosts Rocketeers Again


IMG_1875_2
North Attleboro’s Nick Rajotte rushes in the second half against rival Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

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

Peterson, Defense Stand Out in North Attleboro's Win

North Attleboro's Nick Gaumond intercepts a pass in the second half that he eventually returned 49 yards for a touchdown. (Jeffrey Pickette/Stoughton Media Access)
North Attleboro’s Nick Gaumond intercepts a pass in the second half that he eventually returned 49 yards for a touchdown. (Jeffrey Pickette/Stoughton Media Access)

Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
STOUGHTON, Mass. – It’s not often teams can throw a sophomore under center and get the results North Attleboro did on Friday night.
Chad Peterson earned the starting job at quarterback and in his fist career game, delivered a memorable performance as North Attleboro took down Stoughton, 14-6, in the HockomockSports.com Game of the Week.
It was a battle of two stout defenses but it was Peterson who ended up making the difference for the Rocketeers.
“I think he did a great job especially considering the fact he’s a sophomore and its first varsity game,” North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson said. “We think he’s going to be pretty good. He’s pretty mature for a sophomore.”
After North Attleboro’s defense forced Stoughton into a three and out to start the game, Peterson orchestrated an 11-play drive that went 63 yards for the lone offensive touchdown of the game for North.
Peterson started with comfortable throws to Ridge Olsen for nine yards and Nick Rajotte for 17 yards. Another nine yard completion to Olsen and a six yard carry from Nick Morrison gave the Rocketeers a first down at the Stoughton 26. The next three plays resulted in just two yards and North faced a 4th and 8 from the 24.
Johnson showed his confidence in the sophomore by not only electing to go for it, but letting Peterson throw it. Peterson looked calm in the pocket and delivered a perfect strike between two defenders to Olsen for 10 yards and a first. Two plays later, Peterson hit Morrison on the left side and he raced in for a 12 yard score. Connor Flynn’s extra point was good to make it 7-0 with 4:09 left in the first quarter.
The defenses for both sides continued to put in good work. North Attleboro’s next four drives in the first half ended in a punt, a fumble, another punt and on downs. Stoughton’s second drive ended in a punt again but the third drive was when the offense clicked.
On 2nd and 4 at their own 28, Stoughton went with running back Christian Hill (4 carries, 40 yards) for a gain of 26 yards. Ryan Sullivan rushed for three more and an incompletion had Stoughton facing a 3rd and 7. Gibb took the snap and fired a strike over the middle to Steven Elice who then did the rest of the work, racing past defenders on his way to a 43 yard touchdown. The extra point failed but the Black Knights cut the deficit to 7-6 with 10:28 in the second quarter.
Stoughton nearly took the lead late in the half but were unable to convert. Taking over on North Attleboro’s 48 yard line after Stoughton’s Izon Swain-Price sniffed out a Rocketeer fake punt, Stoughton’s offense started to move.
A run from Hill went for 16 yards and then one from Sullivan went for nine more Sullivan was able to get two more for a first down and Hill pushed the pile for three more. A penalty on North Attleboro gave Stoughton a first down at the 14 yard line but Tom Reynolds, Josh Morrison and Davon Andrade got to Gibb for a sack and an 11 yard loss. On the next play, Nick Morrison sacked Gibb again for a loss of five.
Gibb hit Connelly for 12 yards to set up a field goal chance, but the kick was just wide to send the teams into halftime separated by just one point.
Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
Things got worse for the Black Knights at the break as Gibb, who has started since his sophomore year, was out for the second half with an upper body injury.
Stoughton’s defense again came up big on the first drive of the second half as Sullivan intercepted Peterson. The Black Knights went three and out but got the ball back when Connelly forced a fumble on the punt return and Nick Hardy recovered it. But just a few plays later, North Attleboro got the ball back when Kyle Gaumond intercepted a pass from Dave Cellucci in the end zone.
“They stepped up and made some big plays when we needed them,” Johnson said of the defense. “Especially when we were sputtering a bit there on offense then they defense stepped up so it was nice to see.”
The Rocketeers produced their longest drive of the game, going 78 plays on 16 plays but Stoughton’s defense stood tall to stuff Peterson on a fourth down rush by a couple of inches. As Stoughton looked to try and take the lead, Gaumond came up big again. Gaumond elevated for an interception right around midfield and returned it the entire way for a 49 yard score. Connor MacIver’s extra point split the uprights to make it 14-6 with 1:38 left.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hill took the ball all the way back in North Attleboro territory to the 38 yard line. Xzavian Marrero rushed for 15 yards and three from Sullivan put the Black Knights at the 20 yard line. The teams traded penalties before North Attleboro’s stepped in front to intercept a Stoughton pass to ice the game.
“You hold your breath on just about every play with these guys,” Johnson said of Stoughton. “They have so many guys that have the ability to break a big one. You just have to be able to contain them and I think we were successful at it tonight.”
Peterson finished 12/18 for 95 yards and a touchdown and 45 yards rushing on 13 carries. Ridge Olsen had five receptions for 39 yards and Nick Rajotte had three catches for 32 yards. Defensively, Gaumond had two interceptions, McCarthy had one pick and Bobby Mylod, Nick Morrison, Tom Reynolds, Josh Morrison and Davon Andrade all had their hand in at least one sack.
For Stoughton, it will be a wait and see with Gibb.
“I don’t know Gibbs scenario but it’s probably not good,” Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. “But we just have to hang in there.
“It was a hard fought battle, no doubt about it. We’re a different team with Jake [Gibb]. But that’s the way it is, you’re only as good as your backups. We worked hard and got the ball back and had some opportunities but it’s would of, could of, should of now. For the first game, they are a good team. We bent a little bit but he missed on some opportunities. I think the kids played hard.”
Burke was happy with his defense, which allowed just one touchdown to North’s offense and kept the Rocketeers under 200 yards.
“That’s a great thing for defense,” Burke said. “I’ll take seven anytime. We have a lot of new guys playing defense. We’ve got to correct our mistakes this week. We gave a good effort, if we didn’t get the effort I wouldn’t be talking right now but the kids played hard.”
The win marked North Attleboro’s first win over Stoughton since 2011 when the Rocketeers won in overtime.
Both teams are in the D3 Southwest division for the playoffs so a rematch down the road could be in the cards.
“Maybe we’ll see them later on this year,” Burke said.
North Attleboro (1-0) will host Bishop Feehan (0-1) next Friday at Community Field. Stoughton will try to get back on track against the state’s top team Marshfield (1-0) on the road on Friday night.
Click here for a photo gallery of the game.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Football: 2015 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Attleboro

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

Franklin

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

King Philip

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

Mansfield

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

North Attleboro

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

Taunton

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

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