Strong Second Half Propels Franklin to Win at Milford

Franklin football
Franklin senior Jake Noviello threw three touchdown passes, as the Panthers outscored Milford 21-0 in the second half to pull out their first win of the season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MILFORD, Mass. – Heading into halftime, Franklin was frustrated. The Panthers had made a series of mistakes from turnovers to missed blocks to dropped passes to using up timeouts early in the half and Milford had taken advantage, playing the game at its pace and grinding out a three-point lead.

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After the break, Franklin turned the game around, scoring 21 straight points and forcing Milford to abandon the power running game that it prefers. Behind three touchdown passes from senior Jake Noviello, Franklin pulled out a 28-10 victory in Friday night’s Game of the Week and evened its record at 1-1.

“They’re tough and we knew that. They compete and those kids don’t quit,” Franklin coach Eian Bain said about Milford. “We gave them the ball in great field position, we allowed them to execute their game plan, and we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”

He added, “Once we got out of our own way, that’s all it took. Milford is a very good, competitive, and tough team. You can’t do that kind of stuff and expect to beat them.”

Things started perfectly for the Panthers, who marched down the field on the opening possession of the game. Franklin went 78 yards in 11 plays and no-huddle offense was clicking in perfect rhythm. Noviello (15-26, 180 yards) was 5-for-8 on the drive and capped it with an eight-yard strike to Jack Nally (who caught four of the five completions on the drive) for the game’s first score.

Special teams got Milford right back into the game. Junior Shapel Feaster returned the ensuing kick-off 66 yards to start the Hawks at the Franklin 20. The Hawks made it count with junior Brendan White (11 carries, 26 yards) tying the game with a four-yard run that was aided by a big push from his teammates that carried him and several would-be tacklers across the goal line.

Ryan Driscoll coughed up the ball on the kick return and again Milford started well into Franklin territory; this time at the Panthers 16. A holding call denied Ryan Pearl a touchdown on a keeper and a Jackson Gilbert tackle on third down and goal forced Milford to settle for a 20-yard Sean Lehane field goal to take the lead.

Milford continued to grind out yards on the ground, running out the clock with a balanced attack that featured Will Pointer (13 carries, 65 yards), Ryan O’Toole (eight carries, 32 yards) and White.

The Hawks got the ball out of halftime and there was a lot of energy on the sidelines, but Franklin forced a punt on the first possession and then its offense got back into gear. The Panthers put together a 12-play, 75-yard drive and took the lead for good. Noviello was 4-for-6 on the drive and threw a perfect pass to hit Evan Wendell in the far corner of the end zone for a 14-10 lead.

“Once we got rolling in the second half, the kids settled down,” said Bain. “They knew they were in a fight, but we also knew what we were doing wrong. It’s not hard to fix mistakes that are self-inflicted and we were able to correct them and get back on track.”

On Milford’s next possession, Evan Wertz ripped the ball away from White and returned it inside the 20, with a penalty getting Franklin down to the six. Two plays later, Noviello hit Driscoll for the six-yard score and a crucial two-possession lead.

“We’ve got a really young quarterback and anytime, with our offense, when we get behind it’s tough,” admitted Milford coach Anthony Vizakis. “We like to ground and pound, but that can only go so far.”

With the Hawks needing to up the tempo, Vizakis turned to sophomore quarterback Colby Pires and a spread formation, but Franklin picked off a pair of passes, including a sliding interception on the far sideline by Nolan Mclaney that gave the Panthers a chance to put the game away.

“We see a bright future with Colby Pires and we’re definitely working towards that,” Vizakis explained. “Nothing against (last year’s starter) Matt Curran, he’s a good kid and we’re using him in other spots, but we see Colby being a starter here for a few years, so he’s getting some good experience.”

Facing fourth and one on the next drive, Noviello used a hard count to draw Milford offsides and, although his pass was intercepted by Feaster, Franklin got the first down. Sean Hofferty(15 carries, 39 yards) finished the drive with a two-yard dive to wrap up the scoring.

Bain said, “As soon as we could get them out of their comfort zone, that’s what you want to do is make your opponent play left-handed. Once we tipped the scales, we were able to switch the match-ups into more of our favor.”

Despite the loss, Vizakis, who is in his first year in charge of the program, saw plenty to build on going forward. He said, “We started six sophomores tonight, offense and defense, so young kids getting good experience. We’re definitely going to be teaching every day.”

When asked about the importance of picking up a win before league play kicks off next week, Bain joked, “My car would be on blocks right now if we were 0-2.”

He continued, “The kids have worked so hard for this. It hasn’t been like that around here in a while where we go in and expect to win and I feel like we’re there now. To start 0-2, it’s hard to keep preaching that mantra.”

Franklin (1-1) will try to keep the momentum going next week against unbeaten Mansfield in what the Panthers are expecting will be the first game on the new turf at Pisini Field. Milford (0-2) will open Davenport division play against Canton at World War II Veterans Memorial Field.

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Daly and DiCenso Power Foxboro Against Franklin

Foxboro Field Hockey
Juniors Lily Daly and Sophia DiCenso (10) combined for three goals and two assists, as Foxboro held on to beat Franklin at Sam Berns Field. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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Foxboro, Mass. – After struggling to get going on offense in the season opener against King Philip, defending Davenport division and Div. 2 South champion Foxboro clicked into gear and found its scoring touch against Franklin on Monday evening at Sam Berns Community Field.

Junior Lily Daly scored a pair of goals and classmate Sophia DiCenso had a goal and two assists, as Foxboro pulled out a 3-1 victory over the defending Kelley-Rex division champions.

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“It’s a great win,” said Foxboro coach Melissa Bordieri. “We needed that after our showing against KP. Honestly, it was back-and-forth in the middle of the field, which makes for a really exciting game, but I’m really happy with how they played.”

She added, “We came out on fire, which was key. Everyone worked as a team. The way we placed the ball, we were looking for give-and-go opportunities, we were looking for combinations where the other day we weren’t.”

The game started evenly with both teams racing through the midfield and trading attacks, although there were few clear chances in the opening 20 minutes. Annie Walsh had a one-timer hit the outside of the goal and then a minute later Julia Carangelo had a shot from distance kicked aside by Franklin goalie Christina Luccini.

In the 20th minute, Foxboro found a breakthrough with a quick break. DiCenso sent a pass in front and Daly slipped the ball past a few Franklin defenders and just past the line to make it 1-0.

Just a minute later, the Warriors doubled the lead. Daly created the opportunity with a run down the left wing and she hustled to keep the ball in play before cutting it back to Catherine Luciano. The senior crossed the ball into the middle for DiCenso, who finished with a first-time shot on the turn.

“Scoring totally gives a team confidence and I felt like once you play with confidence then you do more things,” said Bordieri. “There were so many things they started to do well once we played with confidence.”

Walsh had the first chance for Franklin in the second half but her shot was kicked aside by Foxboro goalie Kelli McCarthy, last year’s league MVP, which was only one of two shots on goal by the Panthers. Four minutes later and Foxboro added a third.

This time it was a run down the right wing that opened up the Franklin defense, which was missing senior center back Kate Morse to an injury. Junior Molly Murphy, who last week verbally committed to play lacrosse at Davidson, found space on the right to center to DiCenso. The ball bounced in the crease and Daly popped up at the back post to knock it home for her second of the day.

“They’re fast, they’re experienced, and they can finish,” said Franklin coach Lisa Cropper about the Foxboro attack. “I thought we played fairly well for most of the game, held our own other than in our defensive circle. We made three mistakes and they capitalized on all three.”

With seven minutes to go, Franklin got on the board. Walsh again beat her defender to open space and was able to pull the pass back to Cassi Ronan. The junior midfielder then flicked a pass into the middle and freshman Victoria Quinn batted the shot into the back of the net for her second goal of the season.

Cropper said, “Cassi had a lot of pressure on her because we didn’t have Kate behind her. Regan [Paterson] stepped in and did a decent job at center back, so we were a little undermanned but held our own.”

It was the rare chance that Franklin was able to create against the Foxboro defense, thanks in large part to the play of senior midfielder Jackie Brion, who seemed to be in the way of every Panthers attack.

“As a center-mid, she controls a lot of the play,” said Bordieri of Brion. “Defensively, she breaks up anything in the midfield, making it really hard for teams to crossover. She was awesome today; really, really strong.”

Despite the final result, Cropper was pleased with the effort and believed that her team put in a good performance. She said, “I told the kids that you learn from your mistakes and hopefully we can learn from this and build on it.”

Cropper joked, “To play these guys this early, we knew it was going to be tough. We had them this way last year, then they went on to win the sectional title. So, we’ll just do it our way this time.”

Bordieri is hopeful that this will spark the offense and get the Warriors on track for the season. She explained, “Our offense has totally stepped up. I think they’re all really starting to gel. It’s really starting to come together.”

Foxboro (1-1) will face Sharon on Thursday and Hopkinton a day later. Franklin will try to bounce back against Oliver Ames on Wednesday.

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Black Knights Fend Off Franklin In Season Opener

Stoughton football
Stoughton’s Evan Gibb (right) tries to avoid a tackle in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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RANDOLPH, Mass. – There might be a lot of new faces on the field dawning Stoughton’s black and orange – and at times it certainly showed. But when it mattered most, those new faces made vintage Stoughton plays to help the Black Knights open the season with a 28-14 win over Franklin.

Playing at Randolph High School because of the construction of the new Stoughton High building, as well as a delay in construction in Franklin’s track, the Black Knights looked completely different from last year’s squad.

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But a goal line stand in the third quarter that resulted in a blocked field goal, and a clock blending scoring drive in the fourth quarter to ice the game looked like true Stoughton football.

“We just did a hell of a job just to stop them a couple of times,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke, now in his 25th season. “We had some screw ups but there wasn’t a lack of effort. And that’s how it usually is with new kids and I’ll take it for the opening game. We had a couple big plays.”

A much improved Franklin squad came out on its first series and made a splash, going 59 yards on 12 plays to take the lead. Facing a fourth and three in the red zone, the Panthers went for and it and were rewarded. Senior quarterback Jake Noviello (15/31, 169 yards,) rifled a pass to junior Sean Leonard on a quick slant for an 8-yard touchdown. Matt Zucco’s extra point made it 7-0 just under five minutes into the game.

Stoughton’s new look offense didn’t have any trouble coming up with a response on its first drive of the season. Ruben Gonzalez (133 all purpose yards) ripped off a 45-yard run on the Black Knights’ first play from scrimmage. On third and goal, junior Evan Gibb (9/15, 154 yards, 4 total touchdowns) fired a bullet over the middle to sophomore Ajahn Rue for a 15-yard touchdown. Josh Cocchi’s extra point tied the game with 1:11 left in the first quarter.

The Black Knights defense came up with a red zone on Franklin’s ensuing drive, forcing an incomplete to end the Panthers’ nine-play drive. After Stoughton punted, its defense once again came up with a red zone stop. Once Franklin reached the Stoughton 18-yard line, the Black Knights forced another stop.

With time ticking away in the second quarter, Stoughton senior Alex Sjoquist (nine carries, 75 yards), ripped off a 28 yard carry to get the drive going. Gibb connected with Gonzalez and Colin Sanda on back-to-back third downs to keep the drive alive. And then on first down, Gibb took a shot to the end zone where Gonzalez was able to leap up between a pair of defenders and haul in a 35-yard touchdown to go up 14-7 with 0:37 left in the first half.

Stoughton wasn’t done in the first half though, forcing a quick three and out with just three seconds left. The Black Knights took another shot at the end zone, with Rue leaping over a defender and hauling in the pass but landed at the two-yard line.

“[Gibb] did a great job,” Burke said. “He had a couple of nice runs himself, which is going to be part of the offense. He’s a tough kid. He made some great throws. I don’t think he got sacked which is good. It’s good to have him back, and [Justin] Ly and [Alex] Sjoquist and Ruben [Gonzalez] and [Jason] Joseph. You can see the guys who have played before, they are just a step ahead.

Franklin’s defense forced Stoughton to punt to start the second half and the offense quickly made its way back into the red zone. A sack from Malachi Hightower-Green preceded a pair of incompletions. Franklin went for it on fourth down and it resulted in a pass interference, giving the Panthers the ball at the two-yard line and a new set of downs.

But Stoughton’s defense looked like its vintage self. Franklin was dropped for a one-yard loss on first down, a two-yard loss on second down and an incompletion on third down. The Panthers’ 22-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Stoughton’s Jason Joseph, keeping the Black Knights up 14-7.

“It was an incredible series for us. And then we get the block,” Burke said. “That’s hard to do. We toughened up there. We still have some problems, and we have to get more guys playing. But every week we’ll get better, this will be our worst game of the year I guarantee that. It was a good way to start, that’s a division 1 team which is good for us.

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Stoughton used that momentum to add onto its lead. The offense marched 82 yards on just eight plays to extend its lead. Highlighted by a 30-yard gain from Alex Iverson (six carries, 60 yards), the Black Knights moved into Franklin territory. On third and 15, Gibb hit Gonzalez on a bubble screen and the senior turned on the jets, racing for a 35-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead with just 0:19 left in the third quarter.

The Panthers didn’t quit though, responding with a nine-play, 54-yard drive to get within one score. Noviello hit Jack Nally (8 catches, 88 yards) to convert the first third down Franklin faced. Franklin found itself facing another fourth down in the red zone, and this time they went to its bag of tricks to execute. Senior wide receiver Evan Wendell took the toss in the backfield but instead of a run, he lofted a pass to a wide open Nally in the end zone for a 13-yard score.

But in vintage Stoughton fashion, the Black Knights went back to the ground game to bleed the block and restore its two score lead. It took 10 plays to cover 67 yards, capped with a 1 yard sneak from Gibb to make it 28-14. The drive took 5:39 off the clock in the fourth quarter.

“When it comes down to it at the end, you have to be able to run the ball,” Burke said. Stoughton finished with 227 rushing yards. “[Noviello] is probably the best thrower we’ll see all year. He was tough, [Leonard] was tough, [Ryan Driscoll] was tough. Those were some tough guys.”

Franklin’s last push reached the red zone again but Stoughton’s Justin Ly came up with a pass breakup to end the drive.

“The scoreboard is the scoreboard, you are what your record is but however this game turned out, I know that we’re tremendously better than we were a year ago,” said FHS coach Eian Bain “We brought a lot back but there’s a special buy in with these kids. Not that last year didn’t, but we’ve had this group for two years and they’ve just kept moving forward every day. They are a competitive group. This game could have easily gone a different way, we have a lot to learn.

“Our kids are getting that sense that they can play with anybody. If we just clean up some things, you know. It’s hard to simulate a Stoughton team in practice. Their team speed was overall better than ours and they made some great adjustments in the red zone.”

Stoughton football (1-0) hits the road to take on Catholic Memorial next Saturday while Franklin (0-1) will visit Milford for a non-league showdown with the Scarlet Hawks.

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Franklin Opens With Shutout Win Over North Attleboro

Franklin girls soccer
North Attleboro’s Ashlyn Gaulin and Franklin’s Molly O’Rielly battle for possession in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

 
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin head coach Tom Geysen admitted he had concerns about his defense coming into the season, especially after graduating two Hockomock all stars.

But in its first test of the season, and a tough one at that, the Panthers passed with flying colors, earning a 3-0 shutout over visiting North Attleboro.

Junior Grace Gallo anchored the center of the defense with senior Molly O’Reilly and junior Madison Stewart on the outside. While North was able to register 10 shots, only two were true tests for keeper Cat Robbins.

“It was a good win, we’re young as far as experience goes and I thought we would be a be a little thin in certain areas but some kids stepped up a bit today that I wasn’t really anticipating,” Geysen said.

“Defense was one of my concerns coming in. We graduated two all-league starters we had to replace. We changed our formation a little bit, and I was a little concerned about it during the preseason. But you have to let it ride and get used to it. The back line bent but they didn’t break.”

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It didn’t take long for Franklin to try and use its speed to get in behind North Attleboro’s back line. Just five minutes in, after a long ball was spilled by North’s keeper, Miranda Smith jumped on the loose ball in the area but had her bid slide wide at the far post.

North registered its first chance in the 16th minute when a ball put into the area fell to Big Red senior Aine Mendonca, but her low shot was saved comfortably by Robbins at the near post.

The Panthers broke open the scoring less than five minutes later. Senior Molly Duncan gained possession in the midfield, turned forward and played a perfect diagonal through ball to Smith. Smith faked with her right, cutting past a defender, carried to goal alone and tucked her shot in at the near post to make it 1-0.

North Attleboro nearly had an immediate response, forcing Robbins into one of her two big saves in the 21st minute. The Rocketeers quickly moved the ball up field before junior Ashlyn Gaulin unleashed a wicked shot from 25 yards out, but Robbins made a leaping save and tipped the ball over the bar.

“That’s what you expect from Cat,” Geysen said. “She might not be the greatest athlete in the world but nobody is tougher than her, nobody works harder than her and she anticipates really well.

North had one more serious chance just before the halftime break when Mendonca laid a pass off for senior Felicity Monfils but her strike from just outside the area went just over the bar.

The Rocketeers carried that momentum into the second half and looked like they found the equalizer less than a minute in. Mendonca served a ball to the far post and Haley Guertin calmly finished her shot from close range, but the ref disallowed the goal, whistling for a foul off the ball.

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“I’ll be the last person to use an excuse, but to have that goal called back changed things,” said North Attleboro head coach Bill Wallace. “I felt like we came out and were playing really well to start the second half. And then they scored five minutes later so it hurt.

“We’re working through some kinks right now. I thought we’d be further along offensively than we are. But Franklin always throws one of those defenses at you where you have to work your butt off to get anything. It’s that one extra pass or one shot instead of a pass. The good news is that we have a great group of seniors and they’ll pick each other up. It proves how tough this league is.”

But seven minutes after North’s goal was waved off, Franklin doubled its lead. The Panthers took advantage of a quick throw with Smith springing Duncan in behind the defense. North’s goalie came charging out but Duncan calmly carried around her and finished into the back of the net to make it 2-0.

“We have some speed,” Geysen said. “We have to work on our touch, and that’s one of the reasons we don’t have the possession yet because our first touch isn’t where it needs to be. But with the speed and the two kids in the middle, [Molly] Duncan and Carly Alston, they can really thread the ball. Carly looked good the last couple of days.”

The Panthers put the finishing touches on the win in the 69th minute. Junior Hailey Toolin laid a perfectly weighted pass in the area to sophomore Anna Balkus and she placed her shot just inside the post to make it 3-0.

North Attleboro had one final chance with just over three minutes remaining when Gaulin turned and ripped a left footed strike from inside the area but Robbins made the diving stop at the near post to preserve the shutout.

ranklin (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) hosts Algonquin on Saturday in a non-league showdown while North Attleboro (0-1, 0-1) will welcome Taunton (1-0, 2-0) to town on Monday afternoon.

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Field Hockey: 2017 Hockomock League Preview

2017 Hockomock Field Hockey Preview
Foxboro will look to defend its 2016 Davenport division and Div. 2 South titles this fall. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Hockomock Field Hockey Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 4-13-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Lindsay Antunes

After registering just four wins a season ago, Big Blue is hoping for a big bounce back year in 2017. The toughest task will be finding replacements for the large amount of seniors that have graduated over the past two seasons. A big reason for hope to get back towards state tournament competition is four-year varsity player Grace Mayer. Mayer has been one of the top players in the Hock over the past couple of the seasons and led the Bombardiers with six goals and three assists for nine points. She will be joined on the forward line by junior Alexis Compton and junior transfer Takara Keele. Head coach Lindsay Antunes said her midfield has been strengthened “immensely” by sophomore Anna Beck, who was pulled up mid-season last year.

“There is an immense amount of unity on this team, and an outpouring of teamwork,” Antunes said. “Under the leadership of our current captains, many girls have assumed these roles [left by graduation] and are taking over the field. Some girls have been forced to transition into roles that are similar to ones they played in in the past, but not quite exact.”

Canton

2016 Record: 13-5-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Chrissy O’Connor

Canton is returning a strong core of players from a 13-win team a year ago and will be in the hunt for the Davenport title. Key returning players include senior forward Andrea McNeil and junior forward Maggie Malloy, who will be back to pace the Bulldogs’ offense, as well as senior midfielders Emily Campbell and Maggie Wade. With experience back in the mid, the Bulldogs expect to have a strong passing game and strong ball control. Senior Riley Brown will step in as the starting goalie and freshman Maria Femia could make an impact as a rookie.

“Coming into our second season we look to strengthen our passing game and game sense,” said Canton head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “We look forward to another competitive season in the Hockomock League!”

Foxboro

2016 Record: 19-3-1 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D2 State Semifinal
Coach: Melissa Bordieri

Coming off its best season in program history, Foxboro is now focused on 2017 and trying to write its owm chapter in the history books. While the Warriors graduated over a half a dozen seniors, they return last year’s Hockomock League MVP in goalie Kelli McCarthy as well as 2016 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Lily Daly. With experience on both ends of the field, Foxboro is set up nicely for 2017. Daly has led the Warriors in scoring in each of the past two seasons.

The middle of the field will look most familiar from last season with seniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano, and juniors Meghan Curran and Sophia DiCenso all returning after playing valuable minutes last season. The biggest challenge for the Warriors could be replacing starting defenders Kelly Fisher and Angela VandenBoom, who both graduated.

Franklin

2016 Record: 12-4-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Lisa Cropper

The defending Kelley-Rex division champions are in a good spot with so many returning players from last year’s squad. Leading the way is HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Annie Walsh, who led the Hockomock League with 25 points a season ago. Cassi Ronan (16 points) and Erin Walsh (10 points) are also back as Franklin returns its top three scorers. Another positive is that Franklin has some experience back on the defensive end as well. Kate Morse is back to anchor the unit after an impressive junior season and will be joined by Meri Gendreau and Emily Valentino in front of goalie Christina Luccini. Head coach Lisa Cropper expects senior Maddie Hinckley and freshman Victoria Quinn to also play big roles for the Panthers.

“Our biggest asset this season is depth,” Cropper said. “We are hoping to wear down our opponents and utilize our speed late in games.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 14-3-4
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Liz Hathaway

After coming just a point shy of splitting the league title with Franklin a season ago, King Philip returns a strong core that will look to make another push for the Kelley-Rex crown. One big reason that the Warriors will be in the mix is because senior goalie Abby Campbell is back in the cage this season. And in front of Campbell, KP returns senior Christina Hathaway – two big reasons why the Warriors allowed only 13 goals all season in 2016. The offense will look very familiar with senior Liz Furfari (13 points) and junior Alli Meehan (25 points) back in the fold. Juniors Kate Lindmark and Caroline Klim will help bolster the defense while Nicole Connor and Dana Truini will be important players in the midfield.

“We have speed and can create a quick transition game with our passing game and formation,” said KP head coach Liz Hathaway. “We also have a couple of big hitters which should help us generate getting the ball inside the offensive 25 and to execute on corners.”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 13-5-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Theresa Nyhan

Mansfield is relying on seven returning seniors and a mix of young players as they look to get back to the state tournament yet again this season. The Hornets have senior leadership all over the field, which will be important in a very deep and talented league. Up top, Mansfield had Heather D’Amdra and Kristina O’Connell, while seniors Emily Ierardo and Ann Maher will lead the way from the midfield. On the defensive end, seniors Nicole Berluti, Julia Burhman and Brittany Lam will anchor the back line.

“As a unit we are looking to move the ball at pace,” said Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan. “We have speed at all levels and look to transition quickly.”

Milford

2016 Record: 3-15-2
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kim Danish

Although the Hawks graduated 11 seniors from last year’s squad, they return some key pieces that head coach Kim Danish is hoping will help Milford take a step forward. The Hawks will lean on tri-captains Shannon Cormier (the team’s leading scorer last season), Danielle Fokas (who will start on the wing) and Emily Condon (a returning member of the Hawks’ defense) to pave the way this season. Kate Wimette, Colby Bowers and Megan Larouco will see time in the midfield while Julie Rabinowitz would see time all over the field, depending on need. Milford is looking to rely on speed on offense to try and get the offense going.

“We have a strong mix of seven returning seniors who are fantastic leaders and a great core group from last year’s JV team who will step up and make an immediate impact on the field,” Danish said. “Overall, the motivation and work ethic among this group has been top notch! We are looking forward to a great season.”

North Attleboro

2016 Record: 6-8-4
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Karen Folan

After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back years, Big Red field hockey is hoping to make a run at the Davenport crown and get back to the MIAA playoffs. One tough task will be replacing 14 seniors, including all-league goalie Liz Morehouse, all-star Mary Kummer and all-league honorable mention Teresa Bagarella. But head coach Karen Folan is confident she has the pieces to compete in a deep Hockomock League this year. Senior captains Emilie Pothier, Olivia Gedgaudus and Camille Pizarro return to make up the majority of the midfield. Senior Katherine Munley is also back on the wing, giving Big Red some speed on the outside. Sophomore Emma Strachan takes over in net this season, with Folan describing her as “quick and aggressive.”

“The returning members of the varsity team have shown they are ready to fill in any gaps our line up may have after graduating 14 seniors,” Folan said. “And our new team members are eager to step onto the varsity playing field.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 11-6-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Abby Tepper

Oliver Ames will be relying on a mix of experience and youth as they try to stay competitive in a deep Kelley-Rex division. It starts with senior captain Sarah Stevens in the midfield, who will be the “quarterback” of the midfield according to head coach Abby Tepper. Senior Cristina Boudreau and junior Kayla Lozzi will bolster that midfield while senior Liz Nuss will provide speed to the attacking group. OA’s defense will be anchored by senior captain Sarah Tetrault while senior Caitlin Grant will be the starting goalie. Freshman Brynna Courneen has impressed defensively early on.

“This year our offense will be quick and have speed,” Tepper said. “We have some young players filling the wing spots and we are working on being hungry inside the circle. We want to be a scrappy team and get the ball in the bucket no matter what it takes. Our defense does a solid job recovering for one another in the circle and stepping to ball without hesitation. As a team we want to build a positive culture and work hard day in and day out.”

Sharon

2016 Record: 1-17-0
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrea Vandette

Now in her third year at the helm of the Sharon Eagles, head coach Andrea Vandette is confident that her squad is ready to take the next step and find some more success. The Eagles are led by three captains: Elyse Korn, Abbi Solomon and Grace Leavitt. Leavitt started to come on strong at the end of the year last season and will be the anchor for the Eagles’ defensive unit this season. Senior Lindsay Moses will be be in the cage and has a good amount of varsity experience under her belt. In the midfield, Leora Leavitt will be in the center of the field and one of the Eagles’ most reliable players. Vandette is also expecting juniors Veronica Wallace and Stephanie Edwards to continue their growth after picking up the sport a season ago.

“My main goal for the girls this season is to compete,” Vendette said. “Being that this is my third year with the program, I believe they know my expectations and the seniors have a good understanding of how to move the ball on the field and how to be successful. We certainly have enough talent to put a few more wins on the board this season!”

Stoughton

2016 Record: 8-9-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Dan Mark

Despite graduating a handful of talented players, including 2015 Hockomock League MVP Angela Connolly, Stoughton head coach Dan Mark is bringing back several key players for the 2017 version of the Black Knights. The Black Knights’ offense will look the most similar to last season’s team that qualified for the state tournament. Julia Russell, Kamryn Oliveira and Jackie Evangelista are returning forwards who played regularly last year. Lisa Ramanauskas is a returning midfielder, and Haley Bushlow is back to anchor the back line. Gianna Barbosa will be the starting goalie again this season.

“We have several returning players who played many minutes last year and are expected to step in as starters this year,” Mark said.

Taunton

2016 Record: 2-15-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Elizabeth Hathaway

With a strong core of experienced players back, and a couple of young talents looking to make an impression, the Tigers are hoping to improve on last year’s season. Senior Kya Enos has been a steady presence for the Tigers for the past four seasons and will be relied upon to lead the attack long with senior Liana Duarte. Juniors Jillian Pagliuca and Lauren Torres will be tasked with controlling the midfield along with freshman Alana Tavares. Sophomore Kathryn Robinson will be a key piece of Taunton’s defensive unit this season

“Our strength will be the ability of the forwards and mids to move the ball up the field,” said Taunton head coach Liz Hathaway. “Speed is also a factor that will help our offensive attacks.”

Players to Watch

Players are listed alphabetically

Abby Campbell, King Philip – Campbell has been one of the top goalies in the league for the past two seasons and helped KP come within a point of sharing the league title with Franklin last season and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. She had 11 shutouts in 2016 and saved 130-of-143 shots that she faced, finishing with a goals against average of 0.619.

Emily Campbell, Canton – Campbell was a versatile weapon for the Bulldogs, helping out both in midfield and defense to help Canton win 13 games and achieve a plus-40 goal differential for the season. With Campbell playing a critical role, Canton allowed only 14 goals on the year, which was second best in the league. She also chipped in with three goals and seven assists.

Lily Daly, Foxboro – Daly has been the leading scorer for the Warriors in each of her two varsity seasons, helping Foxboro win its first league title in 11 years and its first ever Div. 2 South title. Daly is a force near the net and was chosen as the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year after scoring 16 goals and recording 11 assists.

Emily Ierardo, Mansfield – Ierardo emerged last season as one of the top offensive weapons for the Hornets, helping Mansfield make another run at the league title and reach the second round of the state tournament. She played five different positions in the forward and midfield areas and she scored nine goals and recorded six assists last fall.

Maggie Malloy, Canton – Malloy made quite the impact in her first season playing field hockey. She jumped onto the Canton varsity squad early in the season and finished as the league’s top goal scorer with 16 tallies for the year. She was a big reason for Canton’s improvement offensively and this year, with a season of experience, Malloy could have even bigger numbers.

Kelli McCarthy, Foxboro – Voted Hockomock MVP by the league’s coaches, McCarthy was the backstop for a Warriors defense that was one of the best in the league and helped Foxboro claim a Davenport division title and its first ever Div. 2 South title. She finished with 115 saves on the season and recorded 15 shutouts in 23 games, allowing only 13 goals total.

Alli Meehan, King Philip – Meehan was integral to KP making a run at the league title last season, holding a lead into the final week of the regular season, and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. Meehan scored 14 goals and recorded 11 assists to tie for the league-high in points. She also assisted on the goal that forced overtime against Somerset-Berkeley in a state tournament win.

Cassi Ronan, Franklin – Ronan was a versatile cog in Franklin’s league championship season in 2016, playing both midfield and forward for the Panthers. She finished with 10 goals and seven assists, while being named to the HockomockSports.com First Team, but also did a lot of the defensive work that didn’t show up in the box score.

Sarah Stevens, Oliver Ames – Stevens had a strong season for Oliver Ames in 2016 and the senior will be counted on to create scoring opportunities for the Tigers again this fall. She scored six goals and recorded nine assists for OA last season, helping the Tigers get to 11 wins on the season, beat Durfee in the first round of the playoffs, and push perennial power Walpole to overtime.

Annie Walsh, Franklin – Walsh is the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year (she was also Player of the Year in girls’ lacrosse) after leading the Panthers to a Kelley-Rex division title. A year after being named Underclassman of the Year, Walsh took her game to another level with 14 goals and 11 assists for a league-high 25 points.

Girls Soccer: 2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Mansfield and Oliver Ames shared the Kelley-Rex division title last season and both expect to be in the mix again this fall. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 2-15-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

Goal scoring has been the biggest issue for the Bombardiers in the past few seasons, including a league-low eight in 2016, but head coach Steve Santos is confident that this year’s squad has the speed and experience to take advantage of counter attacks and he expects Attleboro to create a lot more scoring chances this fall.

While goal scoring is a focus of the preseason work, it is at the back that Attleboro boasts the most experience with the entire back line returning. Senior Jordyn Forte is the leader at the back, using her “good soccer IQ,” according to Santos, to keep things calm and making the right plays. She is joined in the defense by fellow seniors Morgan Laplume and Graycen Cassidy. In goal, Madison Brown returns to give Attleboro a solid presence to control the penalty box.

Turning that defense into attack will be the responsibility of senior midfielder Julia Hayes, who will be a key player in the center of the pitch. Junior Ashley Lauzier and senior Kara Thornton will be hoping to take advantage of the opportunities that are created. Santos is also excited about the youth coming into the program with three freshman on the varsity roster to start, including Riley Harnois, who will help out in the attack.

“We have a little more speed this year,” said Santos, “and we’ve been generating a little more in the transition. This year I can rest [the starters], bring people off the bench and the pace doesn’t drop off. They’re great kids, they work hard, and they fight for the team every day.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 10-3-5
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tom Geysen

After six straight league titles, Franklin had an atypical season in 2016. The Panthers only lost three times all season, but drew five times, struggling to find consistent goal scoring that would turn a tie into a win. Franklin only allowed nine goals, but only scored 36, which was 20 goals fewer than league champ Mansfield. This year, head coach Tom Geysen is working on a new formation to get the best out of his attacking options with the goal of returning to the top of the league standings.

The Panthers return leading scorer Miranda Smith and the senior takes advantage of her size to create scoring opportunities in the box. Junior Halle Atkinson is back for her third year on the varsity and gives Franklin speed on the wings and is an accurate crosser of the ball to give Smith plenty of chances. Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira are also back and will give the Panthers a consistent presence in the center of midfield, while Emily Mastaj is another option on the wing.

The key to Franklin’s defense this season will be senior goalie Cat Robbins. Stepping in between the posts last year, Robbins turned in an impressive year and quickly became one of the top goalies in the league. This year, there will be several new faces and younger players that will be counted on to step up on the defensive side of the ball, including senior Molly O’Reilly and juniors Grace Gallo and Madison Stewart.

Geysen noted that there are several underclassmen that could step in during the season to add to the Panthers’ depth. He added, “We need to find the right mix. If we can patch things together and they can gain experience over the course of the season I’m confident that we will get better.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 12-8-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Gary Pichel

It was a great turnaround for King Philip from 2015 to 2016. The Warriors were snakebitten by injuries the year before, losing almost an entire starting 11 many of them to long-term injuries, but last year a large and talented freshman class stepped in to supplement the players who were back healthy helping the program jump from just two wins to 12 last fall.

Expectations are even higher for the Warriors this year, as that freshman group gained a year of experience playing in the Hock. The sophomores are led by Avery Snead, last year’s Underclassman of the Year, who excelled up front or in the midfield and sealed the team’s playoff victory over Mansfield with an overtime headed winner. Chloe Layne showed off silky skills and finishing ability in the box and Olivia Berry stepped right into the heart of the defense and showed that she belonged.

It is not all about the underclassmen. Senior Emma Corcoran is back for another year at the heart of the defense and as the primary dead ball specialist, being named an Eastern Mass. All-Star in 2016. Senior Emma Durant has grown into the role of starting keeper and was a solid and steady presence between the posts last season. Senior Julian Massarone is a three-year varsity player and will be one of the primary playmakers in the center of the pitch.

“Overall, we made great strides in improving our game last year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “We want to continue to become more advanced in all three phases of our game. Last year, we turned a corner. This year, we want to move full speed ahead and compete hard against all of our opponents in the Hock!”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 14-1-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Kevin Smith

Mansfield is coming off the program’s best ever season. The Hornets set records for wins, points, goals scored and claimed their first ever league title, finishing the regular season unbeaten. An overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs to league rival KP was a tough finish to 2016 and trying to replace the production of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Hannah Reiter will be a challenge, but the Hornets return a ton of talent to make a run at another title.

Juniors Melissa Reef (an Eastern Mass. All-Star last season) and Bryn Anderson will be back in the midfield this fall, breaking up opponents’ attacks and pushing Mansfield into the attack. Their ability to cover a lot of ground in the center of the pitch and pick out the right pass to start the transition will be key. Classmate Stephanie Kemp will be back at the top of the attack, after scoring nine goals as a sophomore. Junior Emily Vigeant will lead an experienced defensive unit and also gives the Hornets a dangerous weapon from set pieces.

Mansfield coach Kevin Smith likes has a lot of players that he can call on this season. In the attack, Kemp will be joined by Sydney Mulkern, Allee Bezeau, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy MacMahon, and Emma Oldow. Defensively, the Hornets will turn to Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, Erin Daniel and goalkeeper Lauren Whitman.

Smith said, “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers and relying on the experience of 13 juniors and three seniors who were on varsity last year to fill the roles of the five starters who graduated.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 14-3-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

Last fall, Oliver Ames made the switch from the Davenport to the Kelley-Rex division, but it had little effect on the success of the program. The Tigers shared the league title with Mansfield, the fourth title in a row for OA and seventh since 2007. That run of success may be tough to keep going this year, as the Tigers graduated 10 seniors and are battling injuries to start 2017.

Losing players like Francesca Calabraro (who was injured midway through last season) and Kiana Lozzi is tough enough, but the Tigers lost almost an entire starting 11. To make matters worse, the strong central defensive pairing of Emily Freeman (knee) and Zoe Chazan (academy) are both missing to start the season. Senior goalie Regan Benton is back and will give the Tigers one of the best goalies in the league and in Eastern Mass. to backstop the rebuilt defense.

Offensively, the Tigers have been known for pace and strength, particularly on set pieces, and this year will count on three senior to try and provide consistent scoring opportunities. The pacy group of Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, Annabella Walsh will be the primary focus of the attack. There will be a lot of new faces on the pitch this season, trying to keep the legacy of OA success going for another fall.

“We have quite a few players who had limited minutes last year,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer, “but they practiced against some good players every day. If we can stay healthy I feel confident.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 3-14-2
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Edith Dixon

It has been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers over the past few seasons under head coach Edith Dixon. In 2015, Taunton reached the postseason for the first time in program history and made it count by beating Wellesley on the road in the opening round and gave top seed Bishop Feehan a tough game in the second round. But, after losing a number of players to graduation, Taunton won only three games last season and are looking to bounce back behind a young roster in 2017.

The key for the Tigers is senior Samantha Tichelaar, who is coming off a league all-star and HockomockSports.com Best XI season, and gives Taunton speed, control, and leadership either as a forward or dropping deep into the midfield. Her versatility opens opportunities for her teammates. Classmate Kayla Felix will be the leader at the back for the Tigers, adding aggressiveness to the defense from her sweeper position.

Numbers are good for the program overall and Dixon expects that the younger players, including a strong crop of freshman and even eighth graders could make an impact on the varsity as the season goes along. She said that many of the younger players are “ahead of their age performance-wise.”

Dixon added, “Some of our younger players are going to step up and change how we play, but our upperclassman and seniors will remain the core of our team. I believe that their leadership and team-first mentality will push us to do well this year and set the program up for long-term success as the underclassmen mature.”

Football: 2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2017 Kelley-Rex Football Preview
Attleboro senior Cam Furtado (14) will be one of the key contributors for the Bombardiers this fall as they look to challenge for the Kelley-Rex title. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Kelley-Rex Football Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 4-7
2016 Finish: Reached D1A South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Strachan

Key/Returning Players: Cam Furtado, Sr., QB/CB; Elvin Sam, Sr., WR/CB; Justin Cote, Jr., RB/OLB; Matthew Corrado, Sr., OL/DL; Matthew Jimenez, Sr., OL/DL; Dan Perry, Sr., OL/DE; James Weir, Sr., LB/TE; Nate Barboza, Sr., LB/FB; Nick Evans, Jr., TE/DE; Kyle Walsh, Jr., OL/DL; Jacob Weatherford, Jr., LB/FB; Josh Therrien, Jr., FS/WR

Outlook:
The Bombardiers started the season 3-2, but closed with only one win in the final six games, including a pair of losses to league rival and eventual Super Bowl champion King Philip. Injuries piled up for Attleboro in 2016, but it gave a number of players the chance to gain valuable varsity experience and the Bombardiers have high hopes for improvement this fall.

Experience at the skill positions is one of the reasons for optimism at Attleboro. Senior Cam Furtado is slated to start the season at quarterback and has proven to be a dynamic playmaker. Classmate Elvin Sam emerged as a big play weapon last fall, whether in the backfield or split out wide, and tight end James Weir gives Attleboro an option in the middle of the field. Wideout Josh Therrien and running back Justin Cote could also play bigger roles with running back Marcus Blaise adding depth.

Attleboro also has a strong returning core on defense with Furtado, Sam, and Therrien in the secondary and Weir joining senior Nate Barboza and junior Jacob Weatherford at linebacker. Matt Corrado, Matt Jimenez, and Kyle Walsh will give the Bombardiers strength on both sides of the line and junior Nick Evans could be poised for a breakout year after moving from linebacker to defensive end. Sophomore Qualeem Charles is also a player to watch on the line.

“I am extremely excited about our senior group of players,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have some dynamic players in Cam Furtado and Elvin Sam and hopefully they can maximize their athletic talents. We have many returning starters from last season so we hope to build on that experience.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 2-9
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Eian Bain

Key/Returning Players: Jake Noviello, Sr., QB; Sean Leonard, Jr., WR/TE; Brian Kosicki, Sr., OT; Nolan McLaney, Jr., S; Jackson Gilbert, Sr., DE; Ryan Driscoll, Jr., CB; Riley Downing, Jr., OL/DL

Outlook:
The first season for the Panthers under new head coach Eian Bain was a struggle at times for a young roster that was adapting to new systems on both sides of the ball, but there is hope that the experience gained last fall will pay dividends in 2017. Franklin will have a number of returning players to count on this season.

Offensively, Franklin will have to find ways to make up for the production of graduated running back Jacob Wolowacki, who was a go-to weapon in the ground and passing games. Senior quarterback Jake Noviello will be counted on to lead the offensive unit after more than 1,700 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall. Junior wideout Sean Leonard started all 11 games last year and will be a tough matchup for defenses along with fellow receivers Jack Nally, Will Davis, and Evan Wendell and running back Sean Hofferty. Three-year starter Brian Kosicki will be the leader of the offensive line and tight end Patrick Morrison will be a weapon in the passing game.

On defense, the Panthers have depth in the secondary, including junior safety Nolan McLaney, who was second on the team in tackles last year. Junior Ryan Driscoll has speed on the corner and Bain called him the “focal point” of the defense. Nick Gordon will hold down the other corner spot. Senior defensive end Jackson Gilbert is coming back from injury that cut short his junior season and will add strength on the edge. Junior Riley Downing gives Franklin size and speed in the middle of the line.

“We are in year two of our process,” said Bain. “We are in a different place than we were a year ago…Fans should expect to see a better team in 2017. We have a roster full of experience and had great participation through the Franklin speed and conditioning program. In a league this good we have to bring our best every week.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 12-0
2016 Finish: MIAA D1A State Champions
Coach: Brian Lee

Key/Returning Players: Brendan Lydon, Sr., QB; Evan Rice, Sr., RB/LB; Shane Frommer, Sr., RB/DB; Dylan Leonard, Sr., RB/LB; Cole Baker, Soph., K; Andrew Dittrich, Sr., WR/DB; David Morganelli, Jr. WR/DB; Anthony Vahue, Sr., OL/DL; Jack Webster, Jr., LB.

Outlook:
What will the Warriors do for an encore? King Philip won its third league title in the past five years, second outright Kelley-Rex title in the past three seasons, and completed an unbeaten season with a win over Reading in the Div. 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

Despite losing a large and influential senior class, the Warriors are being picked by some to repeat at champs this fall. One reason for continued belief is the return of senior quarterback Brendan Lydon, who showed poise in the pocket and the ability to make accurate passes downfield in his first year under center in 2016. Yale-commit Shane Frommer is also back for his senior season and will be the feature back for the Warriors in a system that prides itself on pushing teams around on the ground. Beyond that, it will be up to a group of rookies to make an impact. KP will boast an entire new offensive line, anchored by senior Anthony Vahue, and all new receivers. Junior David Morganelli will be one of the options for Lydon.

The Warriors boast a bit more experience on the defensive side of the ball. Even though a good chunk of starters are gone, KP’s rotation last year allowed for players like Evan Rice (defensive end), Jack Webster (linebacker) and Dylan Leonard (safety) to see action. Frommer will be back opposite Webster while Vahue will also play on the defensive line. Andrew Dittrich returns as a starting corner back to anchor the secondary.

Although there are a lot of new faces on this year’s roster and a lot of leadership missing from last season’s championship squad, head coach Brian Lee has instilled a toughness that permeates the program and expectations are that KP will have a decent chance at lifting a trophy again this fall.

“We don’t get any points for last year, we don’t get spotted a touchdown because we went undefeated last year,” Lee said. “When it comes to high school football, it’s about taking those rookies and getting them ready for varsity speed, they have to be able to handle the bright lights on Friday nights. If we can get them up to speed, we should be okay.”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 8-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1A South Quarterfinal
Coach: Michael Redding

Key/Returning Players: Will Shield, Sr., OL/DL; Colbey Eason, Jr., OL/DL; Jareme DiLorenzo, Sr., DE/TE; Hunter Ferreira, Sr., WR/OLB; Danny DeGirolamo, Sr., RB/DB; Joe Cox, Sr., RB/OLB; Khristian Conner, Jr., RB/DB; Chris Copponi, Jr., FB/LB; Aidan Sacco, Jr., RB/DB; Mike Shannon, Sr., TE/DE

Outlook:
The Hornets finished second in the Kelley-Rex division last year, with the only Hock loss coming by three points to league champ King Philip. Mansfield was stunned in a playoff thriller against Marshfield, but then bounced back to beat Div. 1 playoff teams Needham and Newton North and will enter 2017 with typically high expectations, as the Hornets look to win their first league title since 2013.

A strength for Mansfield this fall will be the experience it returns at the skill positions led by senior wideout Hunter Ferreira, who has emerged as one of the area’s top receivers. The backfield will once again be loaded for the Hornets, who will count on seniors Danny DeGirolamo and Joe Cox and juniors Khristian Conner and Aidan Sacco. New quarterback Damani Scott will try to make use of that talent and the 6-foot-3 junior has a big arm to make plays downfield.

Cox and Ferreira will add strength and speed to the linebacking corps, while seniors Mike Shannon and Jareme DiLorenzo will provide a pass rush at the defensive end positions. Conner, Sacco, and DeGirolamo will all return in the secondary. If there are questions for the Hornets, it will be at the line of scrimmage; senior Will Shield and junior Colbey Eason have returned and will be the players to build around on the offensive and defensive lines.

“After one week, we are happy with work ethic and development of linemen,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding, who is in his 30th season with the Hornets. “If we can get pieces of the puzzle sorted out up front on OL and DL, we’ll be a tough out. We have a very good collection of playmakers that can run and catch and we should score some points this year.”

Oliver Ames

2015 Record: 2-9
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mike Holland

Key/Returning Players: Jack Mills, Sr., OL/DL; Curtis Cann, Sr., QB; Jay Fruci, Sr., FB/LB; Michael Mulrean, Sr., DB/WR; John-Michael Cole, Sr., OL/DL; Noah Fitzgerald, Sr., WR/DB

Outlook:
The Tigers got off to a promising start to 2016, winning two of the opening three games including a dramatic one-point win over Franklin, but Oliver Ames struggled down the stretch against a difficult schedule. Now entering his third year, head coach Mike Holland is confident the program is heading in the right direction this fall.

According to Holland, the Tigers’ strength on the offensive side of the ball is the experience of playing in the system for several seasons and a greater understanding of the concepts. Senior Curtis Cann will lead the attack after taking over as the starting quarterback last season and he has several talented weapons on the outside in seniors Michael Mulrean and Noah Fitzgerald. Jay Fruci will be one of the returning players in the backfield, lining up behind a big offensive line.

Jack Mills will be a mainstay in the middle on both sides of the ball and is one of the top lineman in the league. He will be paired with fellow senior John-Michael Cole on the line, giving the Tigers depth in the trenches. Fitzgerald and Mulrean will also be important contributors in the secondary, while Fruci will bring athleticism to the linebacking corps. Holland wants his defensive scheme to take advantage of the team’s speed.

“Looking forward to the start of a new season. Our guys’ preparation and approach leading up to the season has been excellent,” Holland said. “We have guys with experience that need to play big, as well as some new guys that are in the mix to compete for spots.”

Taunton

2016 Record: 5-6
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Sidwell

Key/Returning Players: Noah Leonard, Jr., QB; Brayden Merrill, Jr., WR/DB; Collin Hunter, Sr., WR/DB; Paul Corrao, Sr., T/DT; Cam Correiro, Jr., G/DT; Antonio Mendes, Sr., RB; Zakim Harrow, Sr., DT/NG; Nuno Camara, Sr., LB/FB

Outlook:
The Tigers narrowly missed out on a winning record in their first season under head coach Brad Sidwell and showed signs of improvement, including a narrow, three-point loss to Mansfield. In year two, Sidwell is hoping for even more and Taunton has potential on the roster to be a tough out in the league.

Losing wide receiver Adam McLaughlin to graduation will certainly impact the offensive attack, but junior quarterback Noah Leonard returns for his second season under center and will look to build on the experience he gained last fall. With a number of athletes at the skill positions, including senior Collin Hunter and junior Brayden Merrill at wideout and T.J. Mendes in the backfield, Taunton will use a number of formations and styles to cause matchup problems. Sidwell expects the passing game to be a major strength for the Tigers.

Defensively, Taunton will have a number of new faces, but has size and experience at the line of scrimmage. Seniors Paul Corrao and Zakim Harrow and junior Cam Correiro will all make a significant impact on the battle in the trenches. Senior Nuno Camara provides experience to the linebacking corps, while Merrill and Hunter will be important in the secondary.

“Moving into the second year, the players, coaches and fans are excited for the season but there is lots of work to be done,” Sidwell said. “Hopefully we can get off to a good start and provide some confidence to gain momentum into the difficult Hockomock League season.”