STOUGHTON, Mass. – With small snowflakes swirling in the wind, the temperature hovering in the mid-30’s, and Canton Bulldogs and Stoughton facing off on the gridiron on a Thursday morning, it sure felt like Thanksgiving.
The holiday rivalry continued between the Bulldogs and the Black Knights, only this time it was on Earth Day and in the middle of April vacation for the final game of the Fall II season due to COVID-19.
It marked Stoughton’s first home game for the holiday meeting since 2016 and the Black Knights celebrated in grand style. The hosts put a bow on an impressive season with a 41-7 win at the new Veteran’s Memorial Stadium on the campus of Stoughton High.
Stoughton wasted little time to take the lead and found the end zone early and often. In fact, the Black Knights made four trips to the end zone — all in the first quarter — within its first 14 plays on offense. Three of the four drives started in Canton territory and the other just one yard into their own half.
“That was a good start,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “We’ve played hard the last three weeks, we’ve hung in and had some guys down. Every game has been tough. We might not be the most talented, but we work hard and the kids play tough.
“It’s been a tough year for Canton a little bit, they have some good kids over there. But they weren’t able to do much against our defense. I’m so happy for the seniors, it’s a great way to finish it up. It’s a weird time, been a weird year but overall I think we had a pretty good year, I’m very happy. I’m going to miss these guys.”
The Black Knights also put on a shutdown performance on the defensive side of the ball, shutting out the Bulldogs until the final play from scrimmage when senior Jack Albert, who was selected to wear #27 in honor of former Canton star Ricky Shannon, bullied his way in for a 1-yard touchdown.
Senior Jake Queeney set the tone right away for the hosts with a 58-yard return on the kickoff, only denied a touchdown on a tackle from kicker Will Keefe. From there, Stoughton needed just five plays as senior quarterback Brady Conlin dropped a pass to Christian Ais for a 12-yard score. Jonah Ly’s first of five successful point after attempts put Stoughton ahead 7-0.
The Black Knights got the ball back after a punt at their own 49-yard line. Four plays in, facing 3rd and 9, Conlin dropped back and dumped a screen pass off to junior Emmett Pearl, who got to the sideline and turned on the jets, racing the rest of the way for a 40-yard score with 4:07 left in the first.
Ais had a big return on Canton’s next punt and on the first play of the ensuing drive, Stoughton was back in the end zone again. Senior John Burke took over under center and kept it himself, first racing to the left before cutting back through a big gap and going in for a 19-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 2:30 left in the first quarter.
It continued to go Stoughton’s way as the Bulldogs coughed up the football on the kickoff with Ly coming up with the loose ball. After a 17-year end-around rush from Queeney, Burke handed it off to senior Nivon Domoulin for a 7-yard touchdown and a 28-0 advantage with 0:48 left in the opening quarter.
Domoulin was starting in place of star senior running back Christopher Ais, who missed the game after being poked in the eye the week before. For Stoughton, it was another player on a long list of starters that missed time this season.
“The kids that stepped up for us were great,” Burke said. “We had seniors that came in and got to play and it just shows how they are tough kids. Nivouin was the one today [for Christopher Ais]. We just got Christian Georges back, who at full throttle he’s the best player in the league. But that’s the way it is, that’s high school football. You’re only as good as your backup. These days, you have to practice them almost harder than your starters because, at any time, they’ll be in.”
Canton’s final drive of the first half was its best of the first two quarters, marching 34 yards into Stoughton territory on seven plays but the Black Knights stuffed the Bulldogs on 4th and 2 to end the half with a 28-0 lead.
It was more of the same on the offensive side of the ball for Stoughton in the second half. The Black Knights used eight plays to cover 64 yards, highlighted by a 33-yard pass from Burke to Ais. Christian Georges, back from injury, capped the drive with a 2-yard plunge and a 35-0 advantage.
Stoughton forced a turnover on downs and its offense went to work, needing just three plays to find the end zone. After Ais went for 25-yards, Domoulin found the end zone for the second time in the game with an 8-yard rush.
“I’m really happy with the year,” Burke said. “[John] Burke had a busted finger from last week so Conlin came in, another great senior, and threw two touchdowns. We got Colby [Andrews] in there as well, he’s another senior. You try to play everyone when you can, it’s not easy but they are great kids. I’ll take these kids over anyone. We don’t have any problems, they play together as one and we’re very proud of that.”
Canton took advantage of a Stoughton fumble late in the fourth quarter to get on the board with junior Andrew Butler coming up with the fumble recovery. Butler got the drive going with an 11-yard carry and two plays later, Albert burst up the middle for a score from a yard out.
Stoughton football finishes the season at 5-2 while Canton wraps up the Fall II campaign at 2-5.
STOUGHTON, Mass. – The Stoughton football team has long prided itself on its performance in the fourth quarter and how they finish games.
Whether it’s with a lead, in a tie game, or trying to come from behind, the Black Knights always look to empty the tank in the final 12 minutes of action.
Locked in a defensive battle with division rival Foxboro, knotted at 7-7 since the opening quarter of the game, Stoughton delivered in the fourth quarter. The Black Knights scored a pair of touchdowns inside the final five minutes of the game, sandwiched around a game-clinching takeaway to earn a 21-7 win over the visiting Warriors.
After the opening drive of the game in which the Black Knights broke free for a 44-yard touchdown, Foxboro’s defense stymied Stoughton’s offense. The Warriors recovered fumbles on back-to-back possessions in the first half, forced Stoughton to punt to start the second half, and had a huge stop in the red zone forcing a turnover on downs in the third quarter.
But when Stoughton’s offense took the field for the first time in the fourth quarter, starting at their own 20-yard line with 11 minutes to play, the Black Knights finally found a rhythm.
Helped along by a pass interference call three plays in on a third down, Stoughton’s ground game got going. Christopher Ais (20 carries, 138 yards) took four straight carries, moving the chains twice, and took the Knights into Foxboro territory. Then it was Christian Ais’ (10 carries, 50 yards) turn, cutting back up the middle for a 21-yard dash to get down to the 10-yard line.
Three plays later, Christian Ais bowled his way over a trio of Foxboro defenders at the goal line, getting an extra push from junior lineman Edward Conrad, for a 2-yard touchdown. Jonah Ly (3-for-3 on extra points) split the upright to put Stoughton up 14-7 with 4:33 to go.
Ais’ score capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive that took off 6:27 of the clock.
“We fumbled all over the place, you don’t do that, you can’t give up the ball,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “They are tough, we knew they’d be good but at least we finished up the way we want to play and we played good defense throughout. But hey, if we give up only one touchdown every week I’ll take it. We have a couple of issues that we still need to iron out but we’ll get there.”
Foxboro started the ensuing drive at its own 15-yard line but Cam Prescott’s deep pass got caught up in the wind and Stoughton senior Andrew Medina was able to adjust and come down with the interception to get the hosts the ball back right away.
Stoughton went right back to its ground game, and aided by a Foxboro unsportsmanlike penalty, moved into the red zone. Christopher Ais broke free for a 15-yard run to get inside the 10-yard line and two plays later, senior quarterback John Burke took the QB option around the corner on the left sideline for a 9-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead with 1:31 to play.
“The fourth quarter comes down to weight training,” Burke said. “We’ve got a brand new weight room here that the kids haven’t been able to use. They put in the time, they found ways in the offseason to lift. We aren’t the biggest team but pound-for-pound I’ll match us against anyone. I felt like if we could hang close for three quarters, we could win in the fourth. We didn’t help ourselves with the fumbles, they had one or two good hits but those fumbles are our fault. We’ll get back to the drawing board but we’re 2-0 and we’ll take any league win we can.”
While Foxboro’s defense slowed Stoughton’s offense throughout the majority of the game, the Black Knights’ defense kept the Warriors’ offense bottled up.
The Warriors’ defense forced a turnover on downs to set up Foxboro’s best drive of the game, a 5-play, 45-yard drive. Starting in Stoughton territory, junior Dylan Gordon had pair of good runs and junior Omarion Otto-Broomstein barreled his way in from 1-yard out. Sam Carpenter’s successful point after attempt tied the game, 7-7, with 1:14 left in the opening quarter.
But beyond that, Stoughton’s defense didn’t allow the Warriors to move the ball much. In fact, Foxboro only ran more than five plays on one drive, punting on five possessions, including four straight between the second and third quarters. The Warriors ran nine plays on their second possession but that came to an end on downs.
“Our defense played great for us,” Burke said. “[Gordon] had a couple of runs, we kept [Chris McNamara] in check, and [Luis Sulham] only caught a couple of passes. They did a good job passing blocking, that’s something we usually get in on but they did a nice job there. But I was very, very happy with the way the defense played and getting the win, it was a tough win. We still have a long way to go.”
Stoughton nearly jumped back in front twice near the end of the second. The Black Knights marched 9 plays to get into the red zone but fumbled on a run to the left and Sulham jumped on the loose ball for the visitors. But Foxboro’s drive was put to a stop on a sack from Davin Swierzewski. Stoughton got the ball back at the Foxboro 31-yard line with 32 seconds left but had four straight incompletions to end the half.
The Black Knights threatened again at the end of the third quarter, set up on a 41-yard pass and catch from Burke to Christian Ais. But Foxboro’s defense tightened up, getting key tackles from Mike Norvish, Dylan Kerrigan, Jon Moses, James Kraus and Trent Rennie. Stoughton tried to run the “Philly Special” on fourth down but Jake Queeney’s pass to Burke was just out of reach in the end zone.
“I thought the kids did a good job but those three backs [the Ais brothers and Christian Georges], you can’t key on one that’s for sure,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “It’s not like stopping one back, and they run what they run offensively very well. Even if you have those kids stopped, they are still going to get positive yardage so give them credit. It was a good game, 21-7 doesn’t look like the game I saw…14-7 yeah. If you don’t tie up those kids before they get going…they are as good as I’ve seen in a while in a league and there are three of them.
“I’m disappointed in how it ended but not disappointed in how the kids played from start to finish. Now we’re onto next week.”
Stoughton (2-0) will host Sharon on Friday night at 5:00 while Foxboro (1-1) has its home opener, hosting Canton at 5:30.
Stoughton had four players rush for a touchdown and its defense put together a stellar performance as raw Black Knights christened their new home turf field with a 29-7 win over neighboring Oliver Ames.
“Four years…four long years…finally. It’s incredible,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke, who has been at the helm since 1990. “We were nervous early, that’s just the nature of the beast but we finally got it going and our defense played tough. We battled, we have some new kids upfront and they were working hard and then we got things going. There’s still room for improvement, had a couple of screw ups but first game, I’ll take it. We got everyone out, no one got hurt.”
It was a slow start for both offenses with the Black Knights stifling the Tigers on their rushing attempts, shutting the visitors out on third down conversions for the entire game (0-for-10). On the flip slide, the Tigers were up for the challenge while Stoughton certainly didn’t help itself with a handful of first quarter penalties.
The first score of the game came on the first drive of the game but it wasn’t in favor of Oliver Ames, who received the opening kickoff. A false start put the visitors in third and long and Stoughton senior Christian Georges (four sacks) came flying in for a sack. On fourth down, the snap to the punter was high and the ball went through the back of the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead.
Stoughton carried that 2-0 lead into the second quarter but quickly added onto its lead with its first touchdown on its new turf. Georges had another third-down sack and OA’s punt didn’t travel far, setting the Black Knights up with first down at the Tigers’ 28-yard line.
On the first offensive play, Georges bulldozed his way through traffic and raced away for a touchdown. Jonah Ly hit his first of three extra points on the night and the Black Knights took a 9-0 with 11:01 left in the first half.
Oliver Ames went three-and-out on the ensuing possession as Anthony Girolamo and Sproul Derolus limited the Tigers to one yard on third down. Stoughton had an incomplete pass on first but senior Christopher Ais broke through a handful of would-be tacklers and sprinted the distance for a 51-yard touchdown and a 16-0 advantage with 8:11 left in the first half.
“We know we can rely on our defense, and we know the Wing-T as well as anybody because we run it, so we know the goods and bads,” Burke said of the defense playing well as the offense got going. “They caught us on a couple but not many. We don’t have a ton of size defensively but we have a lot of speed so even if we make a mistake then we can rally. And it felt like we got a bunch of sacks too.”
Stoughton football Oliver Ames football
The Tigers earned their first first down on the next drive when quarterback Jake Grimaldi kept it on fourth and short, getting a friendly push from sophomore Chad Silva. But the drive didn’t last much longer and Georges added yet another third down sack with just under three minutes left to get Stoughton the ball back.
Stoughton brought a lot of pressure on OA’s punt and it didn’t travel far. The Black Knights took advantage of the short field and on the third play of the drive, Girolamo forced his way past a pair of defenders and into the end zone for a 7-yard score, extending the lead to 23-0 just before halftime.
“They run hard, their guys are tough and physical, super athletic and well-coached…they’ve got the whole thing going on over there,” said OA head coach Ed DeWitt on the Black Knights. “We’re not quite there yet but we’re working towards it. There’s a lot of talk about the switch to the Davenport, but there’s no let up in the league. It’s not a step down, I’ve seen most of these teams and they are good, it’s just different opponents [than the Kelley-Rex]. But we have to focus on our improvement each week.”
It was more of the same in the second half. Senior quarterback John Burke opened the first drive with a 20 yard run of his own the Knights picked up right where they left off. Christian Ais ripped off runs of 11-yards and 30-yards, Christopher Ais took back-to-back carries for 17 yards, and two plays later, Christian Ais plunged in untouched from 1-yard out to make it 29-0.
Stoughton football Oliver Ames football
Christopher Ais led the way with 104 yards on nine carries, Christian Ais had 63 yards on five carries, and Georges had 43 yards on four carries.
“We have three or four guys that can get it done, and that’s why our offense works well,” Burke said. “You give them all the ball and then they are involved with blocking and fakes. With Chris Ais and Christian Ais and we have Georges too…we have different guys to give it to or to use for blocking.”
The Black Knights got the ball back after forcing another three-and-out but OA came up with a big stop on a third down sack from senior Dante Cocivera.
Stoughton turned to Girolamo and Ly for their fourth quarter offense, marching down the field on a lengthy drive but couldn’t add any points after missing on a 39-yard field goal attempt.
Oliver Ames orchestrated its best drive of the game to end the contest. The Tigers marched 80 yards on 13 plays, finding the end zone with under a minute to go.
Stoughton football Oliver Ames football
Silva (14 carries, 58 yards) ripped off a 19-yard rush on second down and the Tigers got their first of two fourth down conversions on the drive on another keeper from Grimaldi. Senior Jadon Ricci carried for seven yards and 14 yards to put the Tigers in a position to score but a sack from Stoughton’s Shawn Fargher put OA into a fourth and 18 situation.
Grimaldi floated a pass to the corner end zone and senior Pete Bosader was able to reach out in front of the defender while falling backwards, hauling in a 27-yard touchdown. Drew Nickla split the uprights for the extra point.
“Our guys are fighting and we preach playing four quarters,” DeWitt said. “It was nice to get guys fighting at the end, making a play, that’s exciting to see, that shows the mentality we’re looking for but obviously we want to do it sooner. We thought we were physical enough early but we have to keep that going for four quarters and not just find it at the end.”
Stoughton football (1-0) will stick around Veteran’s Memorial Stadium for another home game next week, hosting Foxboro on Friday at 5:00. Oliver Ames (0-1) will have its home opener on the same night against Canton at 5:00.
It’s a new era in Canton as Anthony Fallon takes over for longtime head coach Dave Bohane, who stepped down from his second stint in charge of the Bulldogs at the end of last season.
While it’s a new era, all of the players and coaches are hoping that the success from the past two seasons continues going forward. If that success is going to continue, it’s going to be by a host of new faces. The Bulldogs graduated a historic class that won back-to-back Davenport division titles and reached the D5 South Sectional final in 2019. While competing for the Davenport division title this year, Canton will lean heavily on its few returners while new players take advantage of the new opportunities.
Senior Matt Connolly is a force on both sides of the ball, protecting the quarterback on the offensive line and leading the way for the ground game with his blocking. And defensively, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound senior who is committed to play at Assumption College, is an absolute handful and requires a lot of attention. Cam Sanchez is another experienced player back for the Bulldogs and will be involved in the running game offensively and apart of the secondary defensively. Carson Campbell started all 11 games for Canton last year at right tackle and will add defensive line duties this season. Jack Albert should see an expanded role on both sides of the ball and will be one of the main targets in the receiving game.
“Our team has great speed in our secondary, we are big and strong upfront and our linebackers are tough and fast,” Fallon said. “We have a solid mix on our varsity of juniors and seniors. I am also excited with our numbers on the sub-varsity level with 30-plus players. With a tough-minded defense and a fast offense, I know we will compete in every game.”
There is a lot of optimism in Foxboro for the Fall II season, and with a strong group of returning starters in different spots all over the field, there is good reason for it.
The Warriors seem to be in the mix for the Davenport division title each season, coming in third in 2019 and 2017. With talent back in key spots, Foxboro could be a serious contender for their first crown since 2015. The offense starts with the line and Foxboro has some experience and size to work with. Senior Sean Ferguson is a towering presence at 6’5, 315-pounds and anchors the line from the center position and he will be joined by junior Dylan Kerrigan (6’0, 205) at tackle. Senior Cam Prescott will start under center and will have a bevy of options to work with including playmaker Luis Sulham and junior Rashaad Way. Look for Chris McNamara to pick up where he left off carrying the ball.
Foxboro has an equal amount of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball with the strength of the team coming from the linebackers and the secondary. Seniors Mike Norvish and James Stamatos return with plenty of varsity experience under their belts and will anchor the linebacker position while senior James Kraus will start at safety and will be accompanied in the secondary by Way and Tom Sharkey, both juniors. One player to keep an eye out for is senior Jon Moses, a 6’4 defensive end that really improved over the course of last season and could be a handful for opposing offenses to deal with.
“The heart and soul of team this year is the senior leadership and experience along with a strong and talented junior class,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli.
North Attleboro was ravished by injuries during the 2019 season and the result was the program’s first sub-.500 season in 27 years. It speaks volumes to how consistent the Rocketeers are year in and year out that it had been that long but the Big Red are ready to turn the page and begin a new streak.
The Rocketeers are getting a lot of players back that missed time last year and also have a bunch of players back that were thrown into the fire last year and now have varsity experience. With that combination, North Attleboro is hoping the end result is the Davenport division title. Junior Tyler DeMattio is back under center for his second year as the starter after making a big splash on Thanksgiving his freshman season. DeMattio can get it done with both his arm and his legs (and his foot in the kicking game). He has a lot of weapons at his disposal this year with Jared Penta and Alex McCoy in the slots, Coby Feid and Matt Penta at split end, and 6-foot-5 Endicott-commit Robbie Donovan at tight end. Jacob Silva returns at tailback and will be complemented by senior Tommy Whalen while sophomores Nathan Shultz and Greg Berthiaume could be in the mix as well. Harry Bullock will anchor the offensive line alongside classmates Danny Hayes and Justin Vecchiarelli and juniors Jared Vacher and Keysun Wise.
On top of the eight returning starters on offense, the Rocketeers boast eight returners on the defensive side of the ball as well. North Attleboro has a lot of depth at the linebacker position with Silva, a team captain, being a key part of the group. He’ll be joined by Berthiaume, Vecchiarelli, Whalen, senior Dylan Eberle, and junior Tyler Bannon. Jared and Matt Penta are both very experienced safeties while McCoy and Feid return at corner, so the secondary will certainly be a strength for the Big Red. The Rocketeers don’t have the biggest defensive line but the likes of Donovan, Vacher, and Bullock provide speed from the edge.
“The extended off season has provided extra time for tremendous growth in the weight room,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “The depth at the skill positions on both sides of the ball will be the strength of this team. The key will be how quickly and effectively we can put together our offensive and defensive lines.”
Oliver Ames is back in the Davenport division and is looking to make a splash in its first season back.
The Tigers had a lot of success when the league first split into two divisions, winning the Davenport title in 2011 and 2013 before making the jump up to the Kelley-Rex. With a strong group of players back, OA is looking to take the next step forward during the Fall II 2020 season. Senior captain Gavin Morrison is a two-way lineman and will anchor the offensive group from the center spot. He’ll be joined by senior Dante Cocivera and Max Tower, both returning players from last season. Junior Collin Williamson burst onto the scene last year and should see an expanded role in the backfield during this abbreviated season while sophomore Chad Silva should be in the mix as well.
Speed will be a strength on the defensive side of the ball for the Tigers, who boast a lot of the same faces on the defensive line as their offensive line. Tower anchors the linebackers and will be one to keep an eye on, using his speed and strength to make plays, and he’ll be joined by the sophomore Silva. Senior captain Jaden Ricci is one of the best defensive players on the team, a fast, physical player with a nose for the ball that will start at corner. He’ll be joined by senior Jaden Krowski in the secondary.
2020 (Fall II) Davenport Division Preview
“We are excited about where our program is heading and are really ecstatic and thankful to get an opportunity to play this season,” said head coach Ed DeWitt.
Sharon had a very young squad a season ago and went through plenty of growing pains. The Eagles are hoping to turn some of that experience into success on the field this season.
Not only do the Eagles have their quarterback and top receivers back, but they are also getting a big boost with a return from injury. Senior Kiran Chandrasekaran returns under center and has weapons in PJ McManus, Owen Conway, and Conor McLaughlin in the passing game. Nico Marrero, who showed flashes of great play as a sophomore, had to miss all of last year due to injury but is back this year and will be a key two-way player for the Eagles. Marrero is a powerful runner that will look to find space created by an improved offensive line. The Eagles’ offensive line is anchored by senior center Shea Letendre while junior Jack Murphy and sophomores Miles Clay and Daniel Davis help round out Sharon’s line.
Defensive the Eagles are always a competitive group, the challenge will be doing so for four quarters against some top offenses in the Davenport. Ike Ogbonnanze, who is also a big receiving target on offense, will start at linebacker alongside Marrero and Letendre, giving the Eagles a very experienced group in the heart of the defense. McManus and Conway will play on both sides of the ball, starting in the secondary defensively.
“Our kids know our numbers are not strong but they have a great attitude and are playing like their backs are against the wall,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Stoughton head coach Greg Burke always leans heavily on his senior class and he has a real talented group this year.
The Black Knights have a handful of very talented and experienced seniors that have played a lot of snaps over the past two seasons and that has Stoughton primed for a run a the Davenport division title. Senior John Burke is back under center at quarterback for the Knights and it’s likely we’ll see Brady Conlin take some snaps similar to how Burke split with Clayton Rahaman last season. Both quarterbacks will have plenty of options to work with, especially on the ground. The Knights have a “home run” type offense with any given handoff capable to break off a big run. Senior brothers Christopher and Christian Ais recently committed to the University of New Haven and both bring speed and power when running the ball. Christian Georges is another workhorse out of the backfield while juniors Anthony Girolamo and Jonah Ly could see some carries as well. What makes Stoughton’s run game so dangerous is all of the backs do a great job of blocking when they don’t get carries. Jake Queeney will be the main target in the passing game for the Knights. Sproul Derolus is one of the few returners on the offensive line so Stoughton will need some players to step up there.
Defense is always a staple for the Knights and that looks to be the case again this year. A lot of the same faces that make plays on the offensive side will be the ones making plays on the defensive side. Georges is an absolute monster coming off the edge and uses his speed and strength to cause havoc in the backfield. Christopher Ais will be joined by Ly and Girolamo at linebacker while Christian Ais, Queeney, and Burke are all returners in the secondary for the Knights.
“Hopefully without a ton of injuries we can have a good year,” Burke said. “We have some experience and the kids have worked hard in the clubs for weight training. We need the juniors to step up and contribute fast while still learning varsity speed. The league is always tough and hopefully, we can survive tough crossover games.”
CANTON, Mass. – Throughout the 48 minutes of a high school football game, there is usually one or two momentum swings that can change the direction of the contest.
The Stoughton football team was on the right side of the two biggest momentum swings on Friday night on its way to a 35-0 win over visiting North Attleboro. It marks the Black Knights’ first shutout of the Rocketeers since 1992.
Late in the second quarter, Stoughton haunted a North Attleboro drive with a goal line interception and scored two plays later. And with a chance to get back in the game on the opening kickoff of the second half, the Black Knights forced another turnover and returned it for another touchdown.
“The momentum in high school is huge,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “Those are two big plays. We work on pulling the ball away every day, and sometimes it happens, it was huge.”
Using Canton High’s field as their home turf for the night, the Black Knights made themselves right at home with an opening drive touchdown. Stoughton used 13 plays to cover 73 yards, using 7:31 of the clock before finding the end zone for an early lead.
The drive included a 23-yard pass and catch from Clayton Rahaman to Christian Ais to move the sticks into North Attleboro territory. The Black Knights got down to the Rocketeers’ 2-yard line before a holding penalty, an incomplete pass, and rush that lost yards forced Stoughton into third and goal from the 20-yard line.
Rahaman linked up with a wide-open Christian Ais up the middle, and Anthony Girolamo’s first of five success point after attempts gave the hosts a 7-0 lead.
It looked as though North Attleboro was primed for an answer on its first drive before the first big momentum swing hit.
The Rocketeers marched 77 yards on 19 plays, advancing all the way to the Stoughton 5-yard line in a drive that lasted 13 minutes. Facing a fourth and goal, sophomore quarterback Tyler DeMattio (20 carries, 121 yards) rolled out to his right, racing away from a pair of Stoughton defenders before firing a pass into the end zone. Stoughton junior safety John Burke read it perfectly, jumping in front to intercept the pass at the goal line and give the Black Knights the ball back with just under four minutes to play in the first half.
“We bend a little bit,” Burke said. “The problem in high school, you have to make adjustments quickly and fast. On offense, you have the ball and you can do whatever you want. Defensively we were trying to switch some things around, it just happens fast so you don’t have time to talk to every individual player, you can’t call each one over. We bend a little bit, but our speed and strength are coming through pretty good.
“[North Attleboro] is a good team, and unfortunately we’ll have to see that quarterback [DeMattio] for a couple of more years, he’s a tough kid, he’s a real good one. We were trying to blitz him but then we stopped and just kept the linebackers on him.”
The Black Knights wasted little time moving up the field. Christian Ais (six carries, 110 yards) broke off down the left side, making a move past a defender in a one-on-one situation for a 71-yard rush. On the next play, Christopher Ais (seven carries, 75 yards) broke a tackle and muscled his way to a 22-yard touchdown for a 14-0 lead with 2:19 left in the half.
North Attleboro had some more success on its second drive, moving the sticks twice before time ran out in the first half. DeMattio picked up 83 yards on the ground in the first half and the Rocketeers were a play or two away from a tie game instead of a two-score deficit.
The Rocketeers didn’t have a chance to try and grab some momentum back as junior Mohamed Al-Halawahi knocked the ball free from a Rocketeer on the second half kick off. Christian Ais scooped the loose ball up and took off for a 48-yard fumble return, giving Stoughton a 21-0 advantage just 16 seconds into the second half.
“You just can’t make those kind of mistakes like we did against a good team like that,” said North Attleboro coach Don Johnson. “That’s exactly what can happen, they can bust it out in a second. You can’t give a team with talented guys like that extra opportunities to make plays because they can break one at any time.”
North Attleboro gained 46 yards on its first two plays of its ensuring drive with DeMattio rushing for 21 himself and Jacob Silva taking a handoff for 25 yards. But after a short gain on first down, Christian Georges and Carlvin LaGuerre came crashing in for a sack that pushed the Big Red back 11 yards, and North was forced to punt two plays later.
Stoughton’s showed its explosiveness on the next series as Christopher Ais broke off a 26-yard rush up the middle on a 3rd and two, and two plays later, Christian Ais used his speed to get to the outside and raced away for a 27-yard touchdown, his third score of the night.
“He’s something else, him and Christopher,” Burke said of Ais brothers Christian and Christopher. “They both got some long [runs] tonight. Christian, you give him a hole and he’ll dance through it. He’s big too, it’s hard to get a good hit on him, I haven’t seen anybody get one on him. Plus he can catch too, he’s got tremendous hands. Those guys are as good as you get athletically. I’ve seen a lot of great ones and they are right up there, and they are great kids too.”
North moved the ball to midfield on its next drive, including a fourth down conversion. On second and 11, Georges tracked down the ball carries, ripped the ball free, picked it up on one bounce and took it to the house for a 48-yard fumble return and a 35-0 lead with 9:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Playoff seeds won’t be officially released by the MIAA until Sunday. Based on the ratings from Jim Clark, formerly of the Boston Herald, the Black Knights are likely to have a home game in the first round, sitting in the third spot. North Attleboro is currently tied with Bishop Feehan for the eighth and final spot in the D3 South bracket as of Friday night. With games still to be played on Saturday, those rankings could change.
MILFORD, Mass. – A matchup featuring two of the most prolific offenses in the Hockomock League turned into a defensive struggle.
Both Stoughton and Milford entered Saturday’s Davenport division dual averaging over 25 points per game and known for their big play ability. The Hawks have tormented teams through the air while the Black Knights have a plethora of backs capable of breaking a big run on any play.
With that in mind, it became a defensive chess match between the two sides.
The Black Knights loaded the secondary and didn’t allow Milford quarterback Colby Pires (29/42, 207 yards) to complete a pass for more than 30 yards. On the flip side, the Hawks limited Stoughton’s longest run of the day to just 21 yards.
In the end, Stoughton’s bend-don’t-break defense proved enough and the Black Knights got a big boost from its passing game to prevail 14-10 on the road.
“We just didn’t want them to hit any home runs,” said Stoughton coach Greg Burke. “You have to try and get pressure, and we got some. I’m mostly a zone [defense] guy, and I’m not saying that’s the only way to play defense. But I know at this level, as long as no one beats you over the top you can live for another play. I’m not saying it’s the best, and then you have to tackle. Their quarterback is tough, [Luke Rosa] is tough, they hurt us but we adjusted to it better in the second half.”
The biggest play of the game came in the form of a third down conversion that helped the Black Knights kill the rest of the clock to hold onto the win.
Savion Scott had a 61-yard touchdown erased on a holding call — the second straight flag on the Black Knights — and Stoughton was forced into a 1st and 35 from its own 28-yard line with 4:39 left in the game.
Junior quarterback John Burke (5/11, 109 yards passing; seven carries, 33 yards) scampered for 11 yards, and junior Christian Ais (eight carries, 33 yards) picked up three yards on second down putting Stoughton in 3rd and 21 from its own 42-yard line.
Burke lofted a pass down the right sideline that got caught up in the wind. Milford’s safety floated over to try and make a play on the ball but Stoughton junior Jake Queeney cut in, jumped up to grab the ball before the defender, took a hit that spun him to the ground, and held on for a 31 yard gain and a first down with 3:38 to go.
Queeney also hauled in a second quarter touchdown over terrific defense to put the Black Knights on the board.
“He’s a great player, he made two big catches for us today,” Burke said. “We had two penalties in a row but it was a huge catch for us. It was a quality opponent to get a win over. I think we’re in good shape, we just want to get a home game wherever that will be.”
Two plays later, Burke scrambled for a first down that forced Milford to take its last timeout with 1:43 left and the Black Knights were able to run the clock out with its final three plays.
“They are tough, they are physical, and this was a game with where the team with the least amount of mistakes, the team that makes one more play comes out on top,” said Milford coach Anthony Vizakis said. “That’s a great team, we tip our hats to them and hopefully we’ll see them in the playoffs.”
Milford’s opening drive was a sign of things to come throughout the game. The Hawks ran 14 plays but covered just 45 yards. The longest play of the drive came when Pires hit Rosa (eight catches, 87 yards) for 15 yards out of the backfield, and the Hawks even converted a fourth down on the drive.
But when they got close to the red zone, Stoughton’s defense clamped down. A two-yard pass from Pires to Matt Varteresian preceded back-to-back runs from Rosa for six yards. On fourth and two, Pires hit Carter Scudo (eight catches, 34 yards) but Christian Ais made a tackle for a two-yard loss and a turnover on downs.
Stoughton’s offense didn’t fare any better as they lost 10 yards in a quick three-and-out.
Milford orchestrated another lengthy drive, moving 44 yards on nine plays. But the drive stalled again as it approached the red zone. This time the Hawks settled for a 37-yard field goal from CJ Cerrella to take a 3-0 lead with 11:10 left in the second quarter.
The Black Knights finally got their offense going on their third drive of the game. Stoughton marched 80 yards on six plays to find the end zone. Christopher Ais (15 carries, 72 yards) had the longest run of the day for Stoughton with a 21-yard run on first down. Four plays later, Burke kept it himself to convert a fourth and one with a 16-yard rush.
On the next play, Burke delivered a pass down the middle that Queeney was able to haul in with a defender in his face. After catching the pass, Queeney fought his way for extra yards and stretched the ball into the end zone. Anthony Girolamo’s extra point put Stoughton up 7-3 with 3:10 left in the second quarter.
Milford opened the second half with its most complete drive of the game, covering 55 yards in seven plays to find the end zone for the first time. The Hawks opened with a halfback pass as Scudo hit Rosa for 32 yards, which was the longest play of the day for the hosts.
Pires hit Xavier Hilton three plays later to convert a third down and get inside the 10-yard line. On third and goal from the two, Pires connected with Rosa in the flat and he went in for a touchdown and a 10-7 lead with 7:40 left in the third quarter.
Stoughton wasted little time responding, using nine plays to go 51 yards to get the lead back. Christopher Ais started the drive with a 14-yard run and converted a third down with a two-yard plunge up the middle three plays later.
Senior quarterback Clayton Rahaman took over under center for the drive and connected with Christian Ais for a nine-yard gain to convert another third down and move inside the red zone. Christian Ais picked up seven on the ground on the next play and Christopher Ais followed his blocking to the left following that, just reaching the ball across the goal line for a five-yard touchdown.
After Girolamo’s extra point, the Black Knights held a 14-10 lead with 3:43 left in the third quarter.
Milford’s first drive of the fourth quarter ended with a turnover on downs after an incompletion on fourth and one from the Stoughton 21-yard line. The Hawks’ second drive of the final quarter yielded just five yards and ended in a three and out.
“Their defense is solid, they are very well-coached and have a ton of athletes over there,” Vizakis said. “They didn’t want to get beat deep, so we knew we’d have to sustain drives with shorter yardage gains and more plays. After long drives like that, you have to put it in for points. We just didn’t capitalize enough today.
“We just couldn’t execute when we got down towards the red zone. That’s a big difference in the game, you have to be able to get points out of those drives.”
Stoughton football (3-1 Hockomock, 5-1 overall) closes its Hockomock schedule on Friday when it hosts North Attleboro at Canton High School. Milford (2-2, 3-3) will try to secure its spot in the tournament and push for a home game when it hosts Foxboro on the same night.
CANTON, Mass. – The teams were so similar that it was destined to be a close game. Canton and Stoughton both have speed in the backfield, strong offensive and defensive lines, and athletes all over the field. It was like looking in the mirror. So, it came down to turnovers and one drive that decided the game.
Having managed only five first downs to that point, including one drive stuffed inside the Stoughton 10, the Bulldogs took over possession with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. The drive started at their own 35 and nine plays later resulted in the game’s lone touchdown.
Senior quarterback Johnny Hagan (17 carries, 125 yards on the ground and 9-of-18 for 80 yards passing) had the big play on what turned out to be the game-winning drive, breaking free of the Stoughton defense for a 31-yard gain down to the one. Two plays later he got the last yard to give the Bulldogs the lead with just 14.4 seconds to go before halftime of their 10-0 victory in the 100th meeting between the Thanksgiving Day rivals.
“It was definitely a long two weeks,” said Hagan about having a bye last week. “We were itching to play last week, but just to get out here with the crowd and everyone was very fun.”
“I thought they’d be good,” Canton coach Dave Bohane said about his defense, which has now allowed only seven total points in three games. “To beat these guys 10-0, to play well against a very quality team, they maybe exceeded my expectations but we have good speed and some experienced guys. Experience really showed up tonight.”
The Canton defense allowed only three first downs and no points to a Stoughton offense that came into the night averaging 41 points per game. The Bulldogs held talented running backs Christopher and Christian Aiss to a combined 46 yards, while recovering three fumbles. Linebackers Owen Lehane, Lucas Ragusa, Robbie Gallery, and James Murphy were all over the field, making plays from sideline to sideline.
“We play five of them and that’s the strength of our team,” Bohane explained. “There was one play where Ais had the ball and Murphy came out of nowhere. Sometimes James finds another gear on big plays and he was really impressive on that. A lot of kids have had those guys tackled this year and it takes two or three people to bring them down so really credit to our kids tonight getting those guys on the ground.”
On its second possession, Canton came close to making the breakthrough. Hagan had the big play, a 47-yard keeper down the far sideline that got the Bulldogs to the Stoughton 24. They got as close as the two, but Carlvin LaGuerre stuffed Kyle Fitzgerald (21 carries, 64 yards) on third down for a one-yard loss and then Jerry Brisson and Oluwole Fabikun stuffed him again on fourth down.
“We battled,” said Stoughton coach Greg Burke. “They did a good job. Their big player is the quarterback, no doubt. He’s the key and we practiced all week trying to get him but it’s hard to duplicate him.”
It took until its fourth possession for Stoughton to manage a first down. Christian Ais finally got a seam and he broke a 33-yard run down to the Canton 15, but two plays later quarterback Clayton Rahaman couldn’t get a clean hand-off away and Matt Connolly pounced on the loose ball to end the drive.
Burke said, “I thought we hung in there but we fumbled down here and then fumbled down there. Without having the ball, you can’t score. We got the ball back a bunch of times but we didn’t do anything, so back to the drawing board.”
The game seemed destined to be scoreless at the break until the Bulldogs finally succeeded in finishing a drive. It was a huge momentum swing coming in the final seconds before halftime.
“It was huge because it wasn’t really materializing there and then all of a sudden we hit a couple plays and I was like we may put one in here,” said Bohane. “Obviously, we’ve got to work on our short-yardage stuff because that was frustrating to not put them in but Johnny kind of stepped up there.”
He added, “But, we were up 7-0 on Thanksgiving, so that came up a lot in the locker room.”
Canton got the ball to start the second half and marched into Stoughton territory, but stalled at the 36. Bohane elected to punt and David Allen’s effort was dropped at the 10. Murphy dove on top of the fumble to give the Bulldogs new life. A holding penalty denied Hagan his second touchdown, but Canton came away with points on a 27-yard field goal by Lehane.
Hagan said, “That was huge going into half and then coming out third quarter we needed to have a big third quarter. Making it a two-score game was definitely huge for momentum.”
It wasn’t what the hosts were hoping for, but a two-score lead felt insurmountable with the defense continuing to shut the Black Knights down.
The biggest play of the second half for Stoughton was a screen pass from John Burke to Christopher Ais for 15 yards but the ball was pried loose and Lehane recovered. Ais would answer by recovering a Gersom Rivera fumble eight plays later, but by then the clock was winding down and there was no chance for Stoughton to come back.
Canton (3-0, 1-0) will continue its league title defense next Friday night against Foxboro, while Stoughton (2-1, 0-1) will try to bounce back on Thursday night in Sharon.
BRAINTREE, Mass. – A strong mix of ball carriers and timely defensive stops was the perfect recipe for Stoughton in its season-opener against Framingham.
The Black Knights flipped the game with a late first half stop and a key sequence of plays at the end of the third quarter to score a 35-16 win over the Flyers at Braintree High, the one-night home field for Stoughton.
Stoughton had 10 players combine for 372 yards on the ground with five or more accumulating 20 yards or more.
“[Framingham] is a great team, they are a pretty good club, they will do better,” said longtime Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “We struggled to slow down their running back but we hung in there and luckily we were able to move the ball ourselves. Had a couple of penalties that hurt us, but it’s the first game and there’s going to be a lot of mistakes across the entire state.
“I’m glad we won, and I think every week we’ll get a little better. Knock on wood, I don’t think anyone got hurt. The kids are in great shape, and I’m just real happy with this first win.”
Stoughton built a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but Framingham cut that lead in half midway through the second quarter and was threatening to take the lead just before halftime. After getting the ball in Stoughton territory on a fourth down stop, the Flyers moved all the way into the red zone with just a couple of minutes left in the half.
The Black Knights’ defense got its third big red zone stop of the half when Flyers’ quarterback Jack Beverly (11/24, 96 yards) hit Sam Stubbs on the right side but Stoughton’s Kamari Grant made the stick and the tackle short of the first down marker at the six yard line to prevent a score.
Stoughton made sure to capitalize on the stop, manufacturing its most methodical drive of the game (9 plays, 82 yards) capped with a fourth down conversion for a touchdown. Junior quarterback John Burke rolled out to his right and found Christopher Ais for an 8 yard touchdown. Anthony Girlamo’s extra point gave the Knights a 21-8 lead.
The defense got a stop right at midfield, turning Framingham over on downs. After a healthy dose of Christian Ais (9 carries, 80 yards) and Christopher Ais (20 carries, 108 yards), the Knights moved into the red zone. On a broken play, senior quarterback Clayton Rahaman scrambled up the left side for a 19-yard touchdown, putting Stoughton up 28-8.
With just seconds left in the third quarter, Stoughton put the proverbial nail in the coffin. After the special teams unit made a nice play to pin the Flyers deep, Burke — who also plays at safety — came through and knocked the ball free on Framingham’s first play. Savion Scott (five carries, 46 yards) wrestled for the loose ball to give the Knights possession back.
Three plays into the fourth quarter, Burke followed the push of his offensive line into the end zone for a 2-yard keeper and a 35-8 lead.
Framingham added a second touchdown against Stoughton’s second defensive unit late in the game.
While it was smooth sailing in the second half, the beginning of the game was a bit of a rocky start for Stoughton. Framingham’s offense was moving before Stoughton brought some pressure and Grant came away with an interception on a jump ball at the six yard line.
Stoughton’s offense stalled and a bad snap on the punt gave Framingham the ball at the Black Knights’ 12-yard line. The bend-don’t-break Stoughton defense came through, limiting the Flyers to two yards through three downs and then blocked a 27-yard field goal to keep Framingham off the board.
The offense looked much better on its second series as Christopher Ais made a great cut on the right side and darted for a 92-yard touchdown but the Knights were whistled for holding. Despite the penalty, Stoughton struck with another home run type play as Christian Georges (four carries, 99 yards) broke free for an 84-yard touchdown two plays later, putting Stoughton up 6-0.
The Black Knights’ defense forced a quick three and out, taking over at their own 40-yard line after a punt. Christopher Ais broke off a 43-yard rush for a touchdown but the refs flagged Stoughton for an illegal block downfield. But once again, two plays later the Knights were in the end zone as Georges took his second carry for 11 yards and a score. Christopher Ais punched in the two-point conversion.
Both Rahaman and Burke saw time at quarterback for the Knights, and head coach Greg Burke says that will be what you see all season from Stoughton. Rahaman rushed for a touchdown and had two completions (one to Burke) while Burke tossed one touchdown and rushed for another.
“That’s how it’s going to be all year, we’re going to play both of them,” Greg Burke said. “They push each other, they are working hard. They both have their strengths. Johnny plays on defense too and Clayton did a nice job tonight. The same with the running backs, they all have to play defense too.”
Stoughton football (1-0) is back in action next week when it hits the road to play at Medford.
Canton had its best season in recent memory a year ago, but the 2019 squad is aiming to take it one step further.
With starters back at almost every position, Canton is aiming to defend its Davenport division title and get back to the sectional final for the second straight season. Johnny Hagan is back under center this season and has all of his weapons back. The Bulldogs ran a mix of Wing-T and spread offense a year ago so Hagan is comfortable running whatever is needed this year. Kyle Fitzgerald, Gersom Rivera, and Cam Sanchez are all talented backs that can help grind down opposing defenses while Hagan makes a lot of plays with his feet as well. Jace Emma was one of Hagan’s favorite targets last year and he will be joined by David Allen as options in the passing game. The offensive line will be anchored by senior Jack Connolly, who missed a good amount of last season with an injury. Matt Connolly, Derrell Brown, and Lucas Bryant return to the line as well while Carson Campbell and Brandon Baran are in the mix for the final spot.
A lot of the same names will make plays on the defensive end as well with Jack Connolly and Matt Connolly teaming up with Nnamdi Onyemelukwe to provide size on the line. The strength of the defense will once again be with the linebackers as the Bulldogs have James Murphy back in the middle alongside junior Lucas Ragusa. Owen Lehane and Robbie Gallery both had strong seasons coming from the outside. The entire secondary is back for the Bulldogs with Rivera and Sanchez handle the corners and Fitzgerald and Allen provide physicality from the safety spots. And for special teams, Lehane handles kicking duties, Allen returns as the punter, and Rivera and Fitzgerald handle return duties. The Bulldogs will look to build some depth with so many two-way players in the lineup.
“We have a lot of experience with a lot of guys that have played at this level, and we had the playoff run so that should definitely help us down the road,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “We are focused on Dighton-Rehoboth, focusing on one game at a time. We have a lot of competitors that don’t quit.”
Foxboro’s biggest win of the season came in its final game, a thrilling overtime win over rival Mansfield at Fenway Park two days before Thanksgiving. If the Warriors are able to carry any of that momentum into the 2019 season, Foxboro will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport division title.
The Warriors return a good amount of talent from last year but will need to find a replacement for Liam Foley, who came on strong at the end of last season. Senior Shayne Kerrigan and junior Cam Prescott have both taken reps this preseason so longtime coach Jack Martinelli and his staff will have two good options to work with under center. Last year’s leading rusher Mike Luong also graduated so there will be an opportunity for someone to take on carries out of the backfield. The Warriors have good skill options in Brian Derba (three touchdown catches last year) and split ends Elijah Lewis and Ryan Hughes. Foxboro has some experience on the line as well as Zach Jenkins and Aidan Dow are both returning starters at the guard position.
Foxboro’s defense has returning players at all three levels so the Warriors will likely rely on that side of the ball, especially early on against two strong non-league foes. Anton George, a HockomockSports Hock 5 selection for defensive line, is back and will be a force to deal with for opponents. Austin Read will be key in Foxboro’s run defense from the defensive tackle spot. Mike Sheehan returns to anchor the linebackers group after a standout junior season. The secondary should be one of the top units in the league with a lot of experienced playmakers. Derba and Kerrigan made a lot of plays defensively last year and Michael Devlin could be poised for a big year for the Warriors.
“With a challenging scrimmage schedule and formidable non-league opponents, we should be prepared for the Hock grind,” Martinelli said “We have several key components returning to make this possible, but it’s one game at a time.”
Milford just missed out on the playoffs last season but the 2019 Scarlet Hawks are determined to get back to postseason play.
There is a lot of experience on both sides of the ball, and maybe most importantly, at key positions both offensively and defensively. The Hawks have Colby Pires back at quarterback after a big junior season that saw him toss 22 touchdowns, second most in the Hockomock League. But the challenge will be developing chemistry with a brand new set of receivers. Brendan White (12), Sean Lehane (5), and Shapel Feaster (5) all graduated so Milford is looking for new names to step up and make plays offensively. Junior Carter Scudo is a terrific athlete and will be one of the top options while Max Martin, Matt Varteresian, Herrick Louis, Kevin O’Connor, and Xavier Hilton are all battling to get reps on the field. Milford does bring back its leading rusher in Luke Rosa (seven rushing touchdowns), a very powerful back that will help the Hawks pound the ball. Juniors Nick Yohn, Dom Schofield, Mario Lee, and Dom Stallbaum provide a physical yet athletic offensive line.
The linebackers will be the heart of the Hawks’ defense this season. CJ Cerrella had a breakout junior year and will be on the top linebackers in the Hockomock League this season. He will be joined by Rosa, Louis, and O’Connor. A lot of the offensive line will see action on the defensive side of the ball as well while Scudo returns as a top defensive back at the safety position. Look for Martin, Varteresian, and Hilton to factor into the secondary as well for Milford this season.
“We have a very focused, determined, and excited team this season,” said head coach Anthony Vizakis. “They are a hard working group of guys with their eyes on one goal, one mission, and they are determined to do it together.”
The Rocketeers have won four straight league titles, the last three in the Davenport division, and will be looking to make it five straight this year.
If North Attleboro does make it five straight, they will need some new players to step up into new roles to do so. The Big Red graduated a lot of talent in almost every position but the Rocketeers are a program that doesn’t rebuild, they reload. The strength of the offensive will start with the offensive line as there are three returning starters. Ethan Mottinger (6’6, 294), who committed to UMass over the offseason, and John Kummer (5’11, 256) man the tackle positions while Ethan Friberg (6’5, 252) adds additional protection from the tight end position. Senior Casey Poirier, junior Matt Penta, and sophomore Tyler DeMattio are locked in a healthy battle at quarterback with each bringing a unique skill set to the offense. North lost almost all of its skill position players but there are a variety of versatile junior backs battling for time. Friberg, Russell Dunlap, and Robbie Donovan will be options in the passing game.
The strong suit of the Rocketeers’ defense will be in the front seven with several returning lineman and senior captain Tom O’Neill anchoring the linebackers. Friberg will be on one end while Montrel Jackson will see time at the other defensive end position. Kummer is joined by Trevor Hewett at defensive tackle to give North a strong, experienced defensive line. Owen Harding and Jacob Silva are in the mix to join O’Neill at linebacker while North will look for some new names to step up in its secondary alongside Jared and Matt Penta. DeMattio returns as the kicker after a standout freshmen campaign (32-for-35 PAT, 3-for-4 field goals).
“We will need to find a way to stay healthy and quickly develop some depth,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “With the inexperience in the skill positions, we expect there to be some early growing pains, but we are hopeful that the great attitude and work ethic that has been displayed in the preseason will help us overcome the lack of experience.”
Sharon might not have as many players as some of the other programs in the league and might not match up in terms of size, but the Eagles have plenty of fight and are looking to showcase that this year.
The Eagles are going to look to capitalize on their team speed this year. Junior Nic Morrero was strong on both sides of the ball last season and will likely feature in the backfield this season for the Eagles. John Saab is another returning play that should pick up carries for the Eagles this year. Junior Kiran Chadrasekaran looks set to take over under center for the Eagles and will have a couple of experienced players to work with in senior receiver Alec Filipkowski and junior tight end Ike Ogbonnanze while junior receiver Owen Conway will likely see an expanded role this season.
Senior Jaden Williams-Thomas returns to anchor both the offensive and defensive lines and will be joined by junior Shea Letendre. Williams-Thomas will handle defensive tackle duties and should be a big part of the Eagles’ defense this year. Marrero anchors the linebackers alongside Saab and Ogbonnanze while Filipkowski and Conway will see time in the secondary.
“We have a great group of relentless players that have the right attitude and understand that they have a ton to prove,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Stoughton didn’t have the season it wanted in terms of record, but the Black Knights were competitive in just about every game last year and are hoping to get back in the hunt for the Davenport crown this year.
Despite finishing 4-7, Stoughton beat both Davenport champions in North Attleboro (21-10) and Canton (28-7 on Thanksgiving) during the year. If the Black Knights are able to string together those type of performances throughout the year, they will definitely be competing for their first division crown since 2015. Offensively, Stoughton has a good battle at quarterback with junior John Burke and senior Clayton Rahaman. Both saw time last year so head coach Greg Burke has two experienced options to start under center. The offensive line should be a strength for Stoughton with a good group of seniors that includes Oluwole Fabikun, Jaden McCall, Carlvin LaGuerre, and Jerry Brisson. Having a strong and experienced line will set things up nicely for the Black Knights strong run game, which will feature Savion Scott, Christopher Ais, and Christian Ais. Tight end Anthony Pizzano, junior Jake Queeney, and track star David Peters will provide options in the pass game.
Stoughton is often known for its defense and will be looking for that to continue during the 2019 season. Kelven Rodrigues will be a big part of the defensive line for the Black Knights, joined by Brisson, LaGuerre, and Fabikun. Georges had a very strong season on the end last season but will mostly line up as a linebacker this year, alongside Scott and Christopher Ais. Stoughton will have a hard hitting secondary once again this season with Burke, Pizzano, Christian Ais and Kamari Grant all likely to see time.
“We hope to stay healthy and be competitive in the league, all of our athletes improved their strength and conditioning,” Burke said. “We have many juniors also playing and will be a big part of the team. We will need help from all players and try to improve depth.”
CANTON, Mass. – Stoughton senior Jeff Grier was mostly a spectator during last year’s Thanksgiving game against rival Canton, a game the Bulldogs ran away with.
After not getting a carry on the holiday as a junior, Grier wanted to make the most of his opportunity this time around.
The senior delivered, and in a big way. Grier had 15 carries for 211 yards and scored three touchdowns to pace the Black Knights to a 28-7 win over the Bulldogs in the 93rd annual meeting on Thanksgiving.
“This felt great,” Grier said. “I didn’t play last year so this is my first real Thanksgiving game. Senior year, my last game, I just went out there and did my best, did what I could to help the team. Coming into today, we really wanted to bring [the trophy] back home and that’s what we did.”
Grier entered his final season as the top home run threat type running back in the Hockomock, capable of breaking off a big play on any carry. But injuries hampered his season, and Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said Thursday morning was the first time his starting running back was fully healthy all season.
“We played hard today, Grier got going – this is the first week he’s been healthy, and he’s a great kid,” Burke said. “The line played well, we don’t have the biggest line but they are tough, we have some tough kids.
“The kids wanted that trophy back so bad after we lost it last year.”
The teams were tied 7-7 at halftime before Grier went off in the second half with three unanswered scores to lead the way.
It took the Stoughton offense very little time to take its first lead of the game. After receiving the kick off to begin the second half, the Black Knights needed just two plays. On 2nd and 13, Grier came across the formation on a counter, found a small hole, burst through it and raced his way to a 66-yard touchdown. Josh Cocchi made all four of his extra points on the day, this one putting Stoughton up 14-7 with 10:02 left in the third quarter.
Canton’s offense took the field and looked primed to respond with a strong drive of their own. Highlighted by a 20-yard run from Kyle Fitzgerald (10 carries, 49 yards), the Bulldogs moved to the Stoughton 25-yard line.
But Stoughton’s defense clamped down, holding Canton to a short gain on first down, getting an incomplete pass on second down, and Savion Scott coming up with a big sack on third down. The Black Knights forced a turnover on downs with an incomplete pass on fourth.
The Black Knights offense went back to work, using a strong ground game to move up the field. Christian Ais (65 all purpose yards) had a 19 yard run and Alex Iverson followed with 15 more yards to get to the Canton 33-yard line.
On second down, sophomore quarterback John Burke (3-for-3, 68 yards) connected with Christopher Ais for 16 yards. On the next play, Grier fought his way through a tackle and found the end zone on an 18-yard carry. Stoughton led 21-7 with 1:45 left in the third quarter.
“We’ve played hard the last couple of weeks, we’ve just turned the ball over too many times,” Burke said. “We’ve played some tough teams this year, we’ve been up and down. I’m just happy for these guys that we finished strong today, it’s really rewarding for all they’ve been through this year.
“That’s a good Canton team, I don’t want to see them next year but I know we will. I love Dave [Bohane] and all of his guys, they are great coaches. It’s just phenomenal for the town of Stoughton and all of they’ve gone through.”
Stoughton’s defense forced a three and out but Canton’s defense answered with the same, with Brendan Albert coming up with a big nine-yard tackle for loss on third down to force a Stoughton punt.
The Black Knights’ defense didn’t allow Canton’s offense to get going at all, with Evan Jackman and Jacob Brisson combining to stop a runner for no gain on second down, and Christian Georges batting down a third-down pass at the line of scrimmage to force a punt.
Stoughton’s next offensive possession was short lived as Albert came from behind to knock the ball free and the Bulldogs recovered. But on the first play of the ensuing drive, Canton junior quarterback Johnny Hagan was picked off on a deep pass by Stoughton junior Anthony Pizzano with 6:00 left in the game.
“We kept those guys in check, they’ve been running all over people,” Burke said. “We did well today [on defense]. We kept it simple, used our simplest defense. We had to make sure that [Hagan] doesn’t kill you. We had a couple of spies on him every play, you have to. He’s a guy where nothing is happening on a play and all of a sudden he’s in the end zone.
Facing a 3rd and 14 at its own 28, Stoughton elected to keep the ball on the ground to kill more clock but Grier was able to turn the corner and get up field and no one was able to catch him as he sprinted for a 72-yard score and a 28-7 lead with 4:34 to play.
Canton scored the first touchdown of the day. After punting on the opening drive, the Bulldogs got the ball back after stopping Stoughton’s offense and fake punt attempt. Canton took advantage of the short field and on fourth down, Hagan hit Fitzgerald for a 30-yard touchdown. Owen Lehane’s extra point made it 7-0 with 9:20 left in the first quarter.
Stoughton tied the game late in the first half. After stalling on its first two drives, the Black Knights went to the air to get things going offensively. Burke hit Christian Ais out of the backfield for a 48-yard pass, down to the 1-yard line. From there, Burke pushed it in himself and tied the game 7-7 with 1:45 left in the second quarter.
“I’m just really happy for the kids,” Burke said. “They sucked it up and it was a great way to finish the year.”
Stoughton football finishes the season 4-7 while Canton closes out 2018 with an 8-3 record.