Milford Walks Off With Overtime Win Over Mansfield

Milford football Damien Carter
Milford sophomore Damien Carter hauls in the game-winning touchdown in overtime against Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Kelley-Rex division of the Hockomock League is always competitive and one of the best in the state.

This year, it might be the deepest it’s ever been.

There isn’t much separation among all six teams, but even less between the top three or four teams vying for the Kelley-Rex crown.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

On Friday night, it turned out the difference between Milford and Mansfield was only a matter of inches.

Sophomore Damien Carter went up and hauled in a 9-yard touchdown over a pair of defenders and landed just inches inside the touchline for the walk-off winning score, giving the Hawks a 27-24 win over the Hornets in overtime at Alumni Field.

After early fireworks that saw Milford score on its first two drives and Mansfield orchestrate a pair of good drives, scoring on the latter, the teams settled down in the second half. Mansfield took an early lead on its second drive of the half but Milford responded in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

Both defenses buckled down in the final quarter as the teams combined to punt five straight times and the game went into overtime.

Mansfield went on offense first but a pair of incomplete passes sandwiched for a loss of yards on second down meant the Hornets had to settle for a 30-yard field goal off the right foot of James Gilleran.










Milford went next, gaining just a yard on first down. The Hornets nearly ended the game on an interception on second down but instead, it was Milford putting the game to bed when Evan Cornelius (11-for-20, 156 yards, two TD) floated one just past the pylon on the right side and Carter came down with it; the sideline ref ruling his foot landed in-bounds before his body did out of bounds.

“I hope people believe now that Milford is for real,” said Milford head coach Dale Olson. “We knew coming into this year that we had some young kids but some talented kids. If we’re not a top 6-8 team in this state, I don’t know who is.

“I had actually called for the play before to go over there and [Cornelius] decided to go to the other side. After that, we wanted the 1-on-1 on that side. [Mansfield] did a great job on Isaiah. We went up 14-0 and they started to double on him. I thought early on we ran the football at-will on them. But that’s a great program, they did a great job tonight. But in the end, our kids buckled down and played great defense.”

It was a dream start for the visitors, who were making their first trip to Alumni Field since joining the Hockomock League nearly a decade ago. The Hawks needed less than five minutes to march 75 yards on 12 plays to get into the end zone. A 21-yard scamper from Tyler Lane (18 carries, 90 yards) helped move Milford into the red zone and Cornelius kept it himself to convert 4th and less than a yard for a 7-0 lead.

Mansfield looked poised to respond right away as the Hornets started to move the sticks. But the drive came to a sudden halt on its 10th play when Mansfield lost the ball on a run up the middle and the Hawks recovered the ball for their first red zone takeaway.

The Hawks’ offense picked up right where it left off, this time orchestrating an 88-yard drive in just seven plays. On the final play of the first quarter, Cornelius hit Isaiah Pantalone (eight catches, 94 yards) on a slant that went for a 67-yard gain. Three plays later, Lane plunged into the end zone on third down from a yard out to give Milford a 14-0 lead with 10:47 left in the second.

The turnover didn’t seem to bother the Hornets’ offense and they came up with a much-needed response. On third down, junior Conner Zukowski (12-for-21, 146 yards) connected with sophomore Trevor Foley for a big 40-yard completion. Three plays later, Drew Sacco took the handoff and sprinted in for a 5-yard touchdown that cut the deficit on the scoreboard in half.

Mansfield’s defense gained some momentum with back-to-back stops. The Hornets forced the Hawks into back-to-back three-and-out series to get the ball back. The offense rewarded them with a 6-play, 54-yard drive that resulted in the tying score just before the half. Zukowski hit Foley for a first down and then dropped one to CJ Bell for 31 yards and a visit to the red zone. Milford’s defense came up with some stops to make it tough but Zukowski got low and kept it himself to convert a fourth down with a 1-yard touchdown keeper.




The Hornets looked to pull a double, scoring on both sides of the half, and it looked like there was a good chance they’d complete it. Mansfield marched 44 yards on 7 plays but Milford’s Jaden Agnew made a terrific read and a diving interception inside the red zone to put the Hornet drive to a halt.

Mansfield’s defense had an answer of its own and on third down, defensive lineman Pedro Cruz got his paws up to bat down a pass and force a punt. Given a second chance to take the lead, Mansfield took care of business. Bell made a great move to evade a defender and get a first down on a 16-yard reception and a holding call in the secondary moved the sticks again for the hosts. On fourth and one from the 3-yard line, Zukowski tossed it to James Fichera on a sweep to the right and the senior captain rushed it in for a score and Mansfield’s first lead, 21-14, with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

“We finally get the lead and had a big score in the second and one in the third and then we just couldn’t get a first down,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “We tried to run it but they were doing a good job defending that. They were doubling our receivers. That was the key…we needed to get some first downs. We didn’t need to score but at least punt from midfield and give them a long field but we gave them way too many chances in the second half and sooner than later they capitalized.

“We’ve got to start better. it’d be nice to be up a touchdown instead of down one. We have to find a way to get a lead and play ahead. The last three weeks we’ve been playing from behind. We play hard and we catch up but these teams, it’s too much to overcome early.”

Milford’s offense couldn’t find its rhythm as it had to punt again on its next drive after a fumble on second down set them back. But the Hawks’ defense did its job and forced Mansfield into a three-and-out. That was a big swing and the Hawks found their footing on offense again. A penalty on third and short gave Milford life, and a holding call in the secondary moved the sticks again on the next play. Cornelius connected with Carter twice on the drive, the first for 13 yards and a first down and, three plays later, on a slant on the right side that turned into a 40-yard touchdown. Nick Araujo’s third successful point after attempt made it 21-21 with 7:56 left.

“In past, I think this program would have [panicked], they didn’t know how to win big games like that,” Olson said of Mansfield scoring 21 straight points to take the lead. “Tonight, we had that 14-0 lead and it felt like the Natick game all over again. I was hoping for one more stop and I thought, if we can go up three scores against a Mike Redding team, we’re going to force them into throwing the football more than they want to. But our defense stepped up in the end.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield had two drives in the final minutes of the fourth but only totaled 19 yards on its eight plays. Milford also had a shot at the go-ahead score but their five plays had a total of 7 net yards and they had to punt both teams as well, sending it to overtime.

“Every drive is important, every third down conversion is critical,” Redding said of the tight competition in the Kelley-Rex this year. “We’re learning as we go with young kids and they are playing hard but they need to realize how every series is critical in terms of momentum. You have to move the chains when you have the ball. And we just have to find a way to start better. We almost overcame it again but just not enough.”

Milford (2-0 Kelley-Rex, 5-0 overall) hits the road for the third straight week with a trip to Wrentham to take on King Philip. Mansfield (0-2, 3-2) will look to snap a rare two-game skid when it hits the road to take on Attleboro.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 10/08/21

Today’s games are listed below.

Football
Attleboro, 22 @ King Philip, 30 – Final
1st Quarter: (KP) Rudy Gately, 2-yard rush, Matthew Kelley XP good.
2nd Quarter: (KP) Charlie Grant 7-yard pass to Will Astorino, M. Kelley XP good; (KP) Crawford Cantave 1-yard rush, XP failed.
3rd Quarter: (A) Kaiden Murray 3-yard rush, Anthony Salviati XP good; (KP) M. Kelley 23-yard field goal; (A) Logan Briggs 82-yard rush; Matt Harvie 2pt pass to L. Briggs.
4th Quarter: (KP) C. Grant 35-yard pass to Tom Brewster, M. Kelley XP good; (A) K. Murray 4-yard rush, A. Salviati XP good.

Oliver Ames, 12 @ Canton, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (OA) Jake Grimaldi 2-yard rush, XP failed.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (OA) Collin Williamson 62-yard rush, 2pt failed; (C) Vincent O’Brien rush, Hayden Rose XP good.

Stoughton, 13 @ Foxboro, 49 – Final
1st Quarter: (F) Dylan Gordon 8-yard rush, Sam Carpenter XP good; (F) Tom Marcucella 42-yard pass to Rashaad Way, S. Carpenter XP good; (S) Anthony Girolamo 5-yard rush, Jonah Ly XP good; (F) D. Gordon 2-yard rush, S. Carpenter XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) D. Gordon 36-yard rush, S. Carpenter XP good; (F) D. Gordon 23-yard rush, S. Carpenter XP good; (F) T. Marcucella 5-yard pass to Nick Medeiros, S. Carpenter XP good.
3rd Quarter: (F) D. Gordon 90-yard rush, S. Carpenter XP good.
4th Quarter: (S) B. Clark 1-yard rush, XP failed.

Taunton, 0 @ Franklin, 35 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
1st Quarter: (F) Jared Arone 69-yard pass to Mack Gulla, Garrett Portesi XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) J. Arone 15-yard pass to Shane Kindred, G. Portesi XP good.
3rd Quarter: (F) M. Gulla 56-yard rush, G. Portesi XP good; (F) M. Gulla 73-yard rush, G. Portesi XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) Jase Lyons 24-yard interception return, G. Portesi XP good.

Milford, 27 @ Mansfield, 24 – Final (OT)
1st Quarter: (Mil) Evan Cornelius 1-yard rush, Nick Araujo XP good.
2nd Quarter: (Mil) Tyler Lane 1-yard rush, N. Araujo XP good; (Mans) Drew Sacco 5-yard rush, James Gilleran XP good; (Mans) Conner Zukowski 1-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good.
3rd Quarter: (Mans) James Fichera 3-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good.
4th Quarter: (Mil) E. Cornelius 40-yard pass to Damien Carter, N. Araujo XP good.
Overtime: (Mans) J. Gilleran 30-yard field goal; (Mil) E. Cornelius 9-yard pass to D. Carter.

Sharon, 15 @ Martha’s Vineyard, 7 – Final (OT)
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (MV) Touchdown, XP good.
4th Quarter: (S) Gabe Korn 5-yard rush, Jace McCarron XP good.
Overtime: (S) G. Korn 3-yard rush, G. Korn 2pt rush good.










Boys Soccer
Franklin, 1 @ Attleboro, 2 – FinalEsvin Morales set up the tying goal and scored the game-winner just minutes later as the Bombardiers rallied to take a win over Franklin. With the win, Attleboro moves into a first place tie in the Kelley-Rex division with Mansfield. Franklin opened the scoring just before the half hour mark. Tyler Powderly used his speed to get down the right wing and play in a cross. The initial ball was cleared but only as far as junior Max Tobin, who one-timed it into the top corner to put the visitors ahead. Attleboro’s best chance of the first half came in the 17th minute when senior Yianni Skordas forced a turnover and pushed forward, centering to Morales. Morales cut back to evade a defender and the keeper but his shot on goal was denied by Franklin senior midfielder Terry O’Neill. In the second half, Cashel Stuger played the ball to Morales, who turned and played a ball over the top of the defense and sophomore Alex Vecchioli finished the half volley from a step inside the area to bring the hosts level. Four minutes later, after Franklin was whistled for a handball, Morales stepped over the ball and placed a shot on frame while the Panthers were setting up the wall and it just beat the diving keeper for the game-winner.

Milford, 2 vs. Hopedale, 0 – FinalMilford scored a pair of second half goals to earn a win over local rival Hopedale. John Borges had two assists for the Scarlet Hawks, setting up both goals. First, Borges found Eduardo Santana to put the hosts in front and then Borges assisted on a goal from Chris Tocci.

Girls Soccer
Attleboro, 1 @ Franklin, 3 – FinalSenior Riley Fitzpatrick scored a pair of goals to lead the Panthers to a win at home over the visiting Bombardiers. Fitzpatrick had a beautiful header off a free kick from Norah Anderson and scored her other goal off a pass from Anya Zub. Zub had two assists in the win, setting up senior Stella Regan for the other Franklin goal.

Foxboro, 1 vs. Bishop Feehan, 1 – Final

Sharon, 4 @ Milford, 5 – FinalDani Atherton had a hat trick and an assist to lead Milford to a wild win over Sharon. It was Milford’s second win in the past three days. Paige Caldon added her second goal in as many games and Cailyn Paccico had one for the Hawks. The Eagles got two goals apiece from Wendy Wooden and Carly Pinnix. Olivia Soby had two assists and Sofia Goclowski had one for Sharon and Amber Marcus-Blank played well defensively.




Field Hockey
Attleboro, 5 @ Mansfield, 1 – FinalMadison Ellis scored a hat trick to pace the Bombardiers to a big win on the road over Mansfield. Attleboro recevied a great defensive effort from Trinity Harrison and the Bombardiers transitioned from defense to offense smoothly due to the strong play of Jordan Croteau. Olivia Hillman had a strong game on the right side for the visitors and scored once.

Foxboro, 0 @ Canton, 1 – FinalCanton’s Ellie Bohane scored late in the fourth quarter to give the Bulldogs a win over Foxboro, stretching their unbeaten streak to eight. Bohane converted a pass from Sierra Abbott for the lone goal of the game while Carolyn Durand made key saves down the stretch to preserve the shutout.

Franklin, 2 @ King Philip, 0 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

North Attleboro, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 2 – FinalFour different players found the back of the net, two from each team, and Oliver Ames and North Attleboro split the two points in a 2-2 draw. Tyla Delamere and Georgia Costello each scored for the Tigers while Julia Maclaine and Costello each had an assists. Caroline Rolan (from Emily Burnham) and Zoe McKeon scored for the Rocketeers.

Sharon, 0 @ Stoughton, 1 – FinalZofia Bangs scored the lone goal of the game as Stoughton picked up a win on Senior Night.

Volleyball
Attleboro, 0 @ Mansfield, 3 – FinalMansfield earned a key division win in the form of a 3-0 sweep (25-15, 25-5, 25-15) over the visiting Bombardiers of Attleboro. Julia Kelly had a big game with 11 kills, five aces, and a pair of digs, Nicole Santos added seven aces and four kills, Lexie Scibilia chipped in with three kills, three blocks, and a pair of aces, and Christina Lydon and Izzy Flint combined for 21 assists. For Attleboro, Julia Leonardo recorded eight kills while Brianna Frissora had a great game at the net.

Foxboro, 0 @ Canton, 3 – Final Canton bounced back from a tough five-set loss to Westwood with a clean 3-0 sweep (25-8, 25-17, 25-22) over visiting Foxboro. Jess Wright continued to lead the offense for the Bulldogs with 12 kills and added eight digs. Taylor Reynold dished out 22 assists to go with six aces, Syd Gallery added five kills and two aces, and Anna Verille continued to shine defensively with 15 digs and two kills.

Franklin, 2 @ King Philip, 3 – FinalClick here for a Photo Gallery from this match.The battle between the top two teams in the Hockomock League lived up to the hype as King Philip rallied from a two-game deficit to stun Franklin, 3-2 (23-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-23, 15-12). Sami Shore, Ahunna James, and Emily Sawyer all played well at the net for KP in the comeback win while Samantha Asprelli and Gianna DeLorenzo anchored the back row in the win. Sofia Riedel had a big day at the service line for KP with 11 service points and three aces. For Franklin, Brigid Earley (two blocks) and Taylor Lacerda (22 digs) each had 14 kills while Lindsey Tarantola added nine kills and eight blocks.

Milford, 3 @ Taunton, 2 – FinalIn an incredibly close match, Milford prevailed with a 3-2 win (27-25, 25-22, 18-25, 22-25, 15-11). For Taunton, Hayley Krockta and Mikayla Cleary each had 11 kills while Anna Abouzeid dished out 28 assists.

Oliver Ames, 0 @ North Attleboro, 3 – FinalIn a match tighter than the final score shows, North Attleboro secured an important 3-0 win (25-22, 26-24, 25-20) win over Oliver Ames. For the Tigers, junior Maddie Homer recorded 25 digs, senior Hadley Rhodes dished out 26 assists to go along with five kills, sophomore Sarah Hilliard added 14 kills and 10 digs, and sophomore Claire O’Rourke chipped in with eight kills and three aces.

Golf
Attleboro vs. Dighton-Rehoboth, 2:30

Foxboro, 157 @ Oliver Ames, 152 – FinalOliver Ames earned its 10th win of the season by taking down Foxboro in a close match at Pine Oaks. Senior captain Jake Kaplan shot a medalist round of 35 to lead the way for the Tigers. Junior Michael McGinnis and sophomore Aden Ashley each shot a 39 to count for the scoring for the first time in their careers. Sophomore Lucas Riley and junior Daniel Paul both added a 40 in the win.

Sharon, 171 @ Canton, 147 – FinalSophomore Mekhala Costello capped a tremendous week with another medalist round, this time a one-over par round of 35 to lead the Bulldogs to a big win at home over Sharon. The win clinches at least a share of the Davenport division title for Canton. Mike Loenetti added a 36 in the win, Conor Hunter chipped in with a 37, and Will Gefteas finished with a 39 for Canton. Eric Carter led the way for Sharon with a round of 41, Owen Kevorkian added a 42, and Nathan Daley, Noah Glassman, and James Spoto all shot a 44 for the Eagles.

Football: 2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview
King Philip could be the favorite to challenge Mansfield for the Kelley-Rex division title this season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2021 Kelley-Rex Football Preview

2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Attleboro

2020 Record: 1-5
Coach: Mike Strachan

Key/Returning Players: Ryan Betts, Sr., RB/LB; Keigan Conley, Sr., RB/LB; Christian Dame, Sr., TE/LB; Alvin Harrison, Sr., OL; Hayden Hegarty, Sr., TE/LB; Aiden Hochwarter, Jr., QB; Ethan Lako, Jr., RB/DB; Chris Leonardo, Sr., OL/DL; Isaiah Miranda, Jr., C; Kaiden Murray, Sr., RB/DB; Isaac Pereira, Sr., OL/DL; Anthony Salviati, Jr., WR/DB; Jacob Struminski, Sr., OL/DL; Freddy Wheaton, Sr., RB/LB;

Outlook:
Attleboro struggled on the offensive side of the ball last year, scoring only 44 points in six games and not scoring a touchdown until the fifth game of the season. The Bombardiers will need to improve on that side of the ball to try and move up the standings and challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex. With eight returning starters on both sides of the ball, Attleboro can rely on an experienced roster to try and turn things around this fall.

It will be obvious where Attleboro’s strength lies. The Bombardiers run 6’3 285, 6’3 255, 6’2 285, and 6’3 305 at the guard and tackle positions. They are going to try and overpower teams. The leader of that group is senior Chris Leonardo, who is a force on both sides of the ball. Seniors Alvin Harrison, Jacob Struminski, and Isaac Pereira are a formidable front and junior Isaiah Miranda will be back at center. Experience and size are important, but the Bombardiers will need its array of running backs to take advantage. Seniors Ryan Betts, Freddy Wheaton, Keigan Conley, and Kaiden Murray will all get the chance to carry the ball. Junior Aiden Hochwarter returns under center after taking over midway through last year and he will have classmate Anthony Salviati to throw to out wide and senior tight end Christian Dame.

The Attleboro defense will also rely on its strength up front with Leonardo and Harrison controlling the middle. The linebackers have plenty of experience, with Dame, Wheaton, Betts, Conley, and senior Hayden Hegarty all coming back after seeing significant time last year. The secondary has a lot of athleticism. Junior Ethan Lako, Salviati, and Murray are all capable of making big plays and forcing turnovers.
 
“It is great to have some normalcy back this fall,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have eight returning starters on each side of the ball this season and we have great senior leadership. We are looking to a great fall season.”










2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Franklin

2020 Record: 3-4
Coach: Eian Bain

2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Key/Returning Players: Jared Arone, Sr., QB; Shane Kindred, Sr., WR; Will Tracey, Sr., WR; Mack Gulla, Sr., RB; Ethan Aeillo, Sr., OL; Jack Porkorny, Sr., OL; Jonathan Martins, Sr., DL; Cullen Pek, Sr., LB; Joe Tirrell, Sr., DB; Luke Davis, Jr., DB.

Outlook:
All eyes are on Mansfield and King Philip as the favorites in the Kelley-Rex and that’s how coach Eian Bain likes it. The Panthers are certainly flying under the radar a bit but that might not last very long, especially after their success during the preseason has turned some heads.

Having a lot of familiar faces in key positions will be an early advantage for the Panthers, who have a strong non-league schedule that starts with Wachusett and features perennial state powerhouse Duxbury. Senior Jared Arone gained a lot of experience at quarterback during the Fall 2 season and could be poised for a big year with a full schedule on tap. Part of the reason why is because of all the weapons around him. Both Shane Kindred and Will Tracey developed a lot of chemistry with the QB in the abbreviated season and will be his main two targets this year.

And while the Panthers have developed a reputation for a pass-heavy offense, we saw a much more balanced approach during the spring and with senior running back Mack Gulla ready for a breakout season, it’s likely that balance continues. Gulla is a tough runner that will keep defenses honest; he isn’t just going to help set up the passing game, he’s a true threat to run all over defenses. It will all start up front and the Panthers have center Ethan Aeillo and tackle Jack Porkorny back in starting roles.

Senior Joe Tirrell and junior Luke Davis give the Panthers a veteran presence in the secondary. Franklin allowed over 20 points per game last season but will be looking to bring that number down some this year as they try and establish themselves as a contender in the division. Senior Jonathan Martins impressed last season and will be a key piece on the defensive line while the linebackers will be anchored by senior Cullen Pek.

“The Panthers return many familiar faces but face a tough task of replacing some key positions,” Bain said. “Many players have stepped up but there is still a lot to be answered before the home opener against Wachusett.”




2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

King Philip

2020 Record: 4-3
Coach: Brian Lee

Key/Returning Players: Charlie Grant, Sr., QB/DB; Crawford Cantave, Sr., RB/DB; Nick Viscusi, Sr., WR/DB; Jonathan Joseph, Sr., WR/DB; Hunter Hastings, Sr., OL/DL; Chris Sesay, Jr., OL/DL; Rudy Gately, Jr., RB/LB; Danny Clancy, Sr., WR/DL; Matthew Kelley, Jr., K.

Outlook:
King Philip has a strong core of returning players set to compete for the Kelley-Rex crown this Fall season but the Warriors are hoping to develop some depth along the way as they navigate through one of the state’s toughest schedules.

KP is still hurting from the Fall 2 season, when they lost six players to season-ending surgery, four of which were starters. With a quick turnaround to this season, the Warriors will still be without those players but there is still lots of excitement around those who will be on the field this year. Senior Charlie Grant returns as the starter at quarterback and has some weapons to utilize around them, starting with receivers Danny Clancy, Nick Viscusi, and Jonathan Joseph. All three have varsity experience and are seniors. Junior Rudy Gately and senior Crawford Cantave give the Warriors a thunder and lightning running back combination. Senior Drew Danson was set to be one of the top tight ends in the league but is out due to injury. Sophomore Thomas McLeish will also be in the mix to play at quarterback and Grant could see time at receiver.

Hunter Hastings and Chris Sesay are the returners on the offensive line and will start at the tackle positions while Dan Nineve will be the center and Amro Ismail and Sean King man the guard positions. It will be a lot of the same names on the other side of the ball with Hastings, King, and Sesay all playing both ways. Junior Nate Kearney will also be in the mix as a pass rusher.

The veteran group on defense will be the KP secondary, which features a lot of familiar faces. Both Cantave (safety) and Viscusi (corner) had really strong junior seasons and will lead the way alongside junior Thomas Brewster, senior Eli Reed, and Joseph, who has really impressed so far this preseason. There will be a little inexperience at linebacker but the Warriors have Gately back in the fold alongside senior Jake Sullivan and junior Will Astorino. Matt Kelley is back as the starting kicker.

“I love my team, great kids,” said KP head coach Brian Lee. “We just have to make sure ready to go every single week. It’s been kind of a burn, playing in the Spring. It feels like we’ve been going, going, going, but now we have to focus on staying healthy and getting through Thanksgiving. It’s been fun to be around them, they are good kids that work hard. Hopefully, we can turn that into being successful.”




2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Mansfield

2020 Record: 6-0 (Kelley-Rex division champions)
Coach: Mike Redding

Key/Returning Players: Mark DeGirolamo, Sr., OL/DL; Ryan DeGirolamo, Jr., TE/DE; James Fichera, Sr., WR/LB; Joe Forte, Sr., OL/DL; James Gilleran, Sr., OL/DE; Zander Holmes, Sr., RB/LB; Jephte Jean, Jr., OL/DE; Dana Johnson, Sr., WR/DB; Drew Sacco, Jr., RB/DB; Rocco Scarpellini, Jr., RB/LB; Braeden Veno, Sr., OL/DL; Conner Zukowski, Jr., QB/DB

Outlook:
Mansfield won the 2019 state title, is riding a 16-game win streak, hasn’t lost a game in league play since September 2017, and hasn’t lost an in-state game since a triple-OT thriller against Foxboro at Fenway to close out 2018, so the Hornets have earned the target that is on their backs this fall. Everyone will be aiming to be the first Hock team to hand the Hornets a loss and try to end a three-year run as the top team in the Kelley-Rex. Although there are some guys in new spots, especially at the skill positions, Mansfield returns 10 starters and several players who saw significant action off the bench last year.

The offense will be powered by an experienced line. Four of five starters return from last year with only junior center Colton Johnson added. Seniors Mark DeGirolamo, Joe Forte, and James Gilleran, and junior Jephte Jean are all back and should give the Hornets an edge up front. Junior Conner Zukowski will be the new starting quarterback and he will have several new weapons to call on. Juniors Drew Sacco and Rocco Scarpellini are new starters in the backfield, but both were called on plenty last season. Senior Dana Johnson and sophomore Trevor Foley will get the start out wide.

Defense has been Mansfield’s calling card during its run, as the Hornets allowed only 23 points in six games last year. DeGirolamo and classmate Braeden Veno are back on the defensive line along with Jean and senior Pedro Cruz. All three starting linebackers returned, as seniors Zander Holmes and James Fichera are paired with Scarpellini. Junior safety Ryan DeGirolamo is the only starter back in the secondary and will need to provide leadership for sophomores Foley and CJ Bell. Senior Jared Fraone will start at the other corner spot.

Mansfield coach Mike Redding is counting on a tough preseason, against state powers Everett and Central Catholic, to help the Hornets prepare. He is also excited about the new statewide playoff system that could pair Mansfield with a new set of tournament opponents as they seek to make it a three-peat in Div. 2.




2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Milford

2020 Record: 5-2
Coach: Dale Olson

Key/Returning Players: Key/Returning Players: Evan Cornelius, Jr., QB/DE; Tyler Lane, Sr., RB/LB; Alex McColl, Sr., DE/OT; Marco Monteiro, Sr., DT/OT; Angelo Romero, Sr., RB/LB; Grant Scudo, Sr., RB/SS

Outlook:
Milford made a successful move into the Kelley-Rex last season. Under first-year coach Dale Olson, the Hawks earned a first-ever win over perennial league power King Philip and finished second in the division. This year, the Hawks will try to make another title challenge despite having several new faces stepping into important roles.

On offense, the Hawks will be transitioning from the pass-first offense that Brady Olson ran last year. Junior Evan Cornelius is a very different quarterback, who will bring a lot of size and strength to the position (which makes sense, since he also plays defensive end). Graduation took away a lot of dynamic playmakers from last year’s offense but seniors Tyler Lane, Angelo Romero, and Grant Scudo will give Milford a deep backfield and last year senior Jaden Agnew emerged as a major threat in the passing game.

The Hawks will be tough up front again this year on both sides of the ball. Seniors Alex McColl and Marco Monteiro are big and tough and will open holes on offense while clogging running lanes on the other side. Cornelius will add a threat on the edge defensively and the linebacking corps continues to be a factor, led by Lane and Romero. Scudo seeks out the ball at safety and is always a threat to force a turnover.

Olson admits that his team lacks experience at the skill positions, but he added, “Having three scrimmages will help prepare the first-year varsity kids to play week one.”

2021 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Photos

Taunton

2020 Record: 2-4
Coach: Brad Sidwell

Key/Returning Players: Trent Santos, Sr., WR/DB; Nate Keenan, Sr., WR/RB/FS/K; Nick Lima, Sr., WR/TE/OLB; Nate Laplante, Jr., OL/DL; Ryan MacDougall, Jr., OL/LB; William Guachiculca-Torres, Jr., OL/DL; Faisal Mass, Sr., TE/WR/DL; Tyler Wynn, Jr., WR/DB/P; Evan Perrota, Sr., RB/LB; Jake Leonard, Jr., QB; Isaiah Williams, Jr., WR/DB; Logan Frank, Jr., OL/LB; Bryan Batista, Sr., RB; Jon Castillo, Sr., WR/SS; Jack Moitoso, Sr., OL/DL; McKyen Gonsalves, Jr., WR/DB;

Outlook:
Taunton didn’t have the best record during the Fall 2 season but the opportunity to just get on the field and play was incredibly valuable for the Tigers. There are less than a dozen seniors (eight) on the roster for the Tigers this season so head coach Brad Sidwell will be looking for a strong class of juniors, as well as some sophomores, to make up the majority of the lineup this Fall.

A good chunk of those juniors were inserted into the starting lineup or played a large number of snaps just five months ago when the Tigers played six games. That allowed the Tigers to build some depth for the upcoming season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Junior Jake Leonard got a jump start to his career when he took over for an injured Danny MacDougall. That experience will be key as he begins his first full season as the starter under center. Leonard will have three veteran options to work with in senior captains Trent Santos and Nate Keenan — two receivers — and tight end Nick Lima. Senior Faisal Mass will be a big target as a tight end, also providing key blocking on the line, while seniors Jon Castillo (receiver), Jack Moitiso (offensive line) and Evan Perrota (running back) will be in the mix as well.

Junior Ryan MacDougall started on the offensive line last season and will be joined by classmates Nate Laplante, William Guachiculca-Torres, and Logan Frank while sophomore Bryan Joanis will also be in the mix so some playing time. Keenan could also get some carries out of the backfield while junior Bryan Batista could emerge as a go-to option carrying the ball. Juniors Tyler Wynn, Isaiah Williams, and McKyen Gonsalves are three names to watch as receiving options for Leonard.

Taunton has a lot of experience in its secondary with both Santos and Keenan playing on both sides of the ball, and that experience will be a big strength for the Tigers. There is also a lot of depth in the linebackers, starting with Lima, who uses his speed to attack the ball. He can also step out and play in coverage or drop back into a safety role if needed. Lima will be joined by Frank, MacDougall, and Perrota as linebackers. On the line, Laplante had a strong sophomore season and could be poised for a breakout year.

Taunton will prepare for the ever-challenging division slate with non-league games against New Bedford, Durfee, and Middleboro in its first three weeks. It also marks the first year of its new Thanksgiving rivalry with Milford.

“We’re excited to begin the season with this group after productive preseason practices and scrimmages,” said head coach Brad Sidwell. “Although we only have eight seniors, many of our players gained experience in the spring season. We need to improve through the non-league start of the season as the Hockomock Kelley-Rex is always a challenge for any of the teams involved.”

Mansfield Dominates on Defense to Beat Marshfield

Mansfield football
Mansfield continued its defensive dominance, allowing no points and only four first downs against Div. 2 South rival Marshfield. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Although it has been an obviously unusual season, there was a familiar, playoff-like feel to the final game of the regular season at Alumni Field. Mansfield (6-0) hosted fellow unbeaten Marshfield, a team that the Hornets have faced in the playoffs in five of the last six seasons.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

There was also a familiar feel to the game, as the Mansfield defense stood tall once again, allowing only four first downs in a 12-9 win. All of Marshfield’s points were scored by its defense, meaning the Hornets did not allow an opposition offense to score a single point over the final 19 quarters of the season (going back to the first quarter against Milford in week two).

“I thought we did a really good job handling their run game and couple of short passes but nothing big,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding about the defensive effort. “They play hard and aggressive and they didn’t give much tonight.”

He added, “I told the guys, look you’re undefeated. It doesn’t matter how many games you won, you got a zero for losses and that’s special. They made the best of this opportunity and this season.”

It was an awkward start for the home team. A couple of penalties ended the first possession and James Gilleran’s punt was blocked by Josh Pires. Gilleran recovered to prevent a Marshfield touchdown by knocking the loose ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

The Rams caused a lot of problems on special teams, blocking two punts and an extra point.

Mansfield’s defense was holding up well to the high-paced, spread formation offense that Marshfield likes to run. James Fichera broke up a pass play and then Rocco Scarpellini made the tackle on third and long forcing a Marshfield punt from its own 11.

Anthony Comer returned the punt to the Rams 25 and Mansfield’s offense took advantage of the short field. Comer (20 carries, 55 yards) set up the touchdown with a 16-yard burst around the left side of the line and then punched it in from two yards out on the next play to put the Hornets in front 6-2.

The coverage continued to be excellent from the Mansfield secondary, as Nick Bertolino threw a big hit to break up a pass, TJ Guy set the edge to stop a sweep, and Jake Goldman made a good break on the third down pass to force an incompletion. Again, Marshfield was forced to punt from deep in its own territory and gave the hosts great starting field position.

This time, it took Mansfield only one play to turn that position into points. Nico Holmes (10 carries, 88 yards) took a counter straight up the gut and raced 49 yards for the touchdown. He was untouched until he got into the end zone. The conversion pass fell incomplete and Mansfield led 12-2 with 3:22 left in the half.

Marshfield moved the chains for the first time on a 14-yard pass from Owen Masterson to Pat Yesinko and, after an offsides call, converted a fourth and two at midfield for their second first down of the night. Everett Knowlton closed out the half with one of Mansfield’s three sacks.

Holmes said there weren’t a lot of adjustments on defense facing the hurry-up offense. He said, “We stuck to what we knew in our base stuff and it worked out. We played Mansfield football, hard-nosed, violent football and we got it done.”

Scarpellini opened the half by recovering a Masterson fumble, but the Mansfield drive ended when Matt Boen was picked off by Sam Sullivan in the end zone. After a 30-yard pass from Ean Scholz to Yesinko got the Rams into Mansfield territory for just the second time, Holmes and Scarpellini stuffed a play for a big loss and then Scarpellini added a tackle on the fourth down keeper to get the ball back.

While the Mansfield defense was dominating, the offense was struggling to find a rhythm, especially without running back Cincere Gill. Boen followed the block of Jake McCoy to convert a fourth and two, but a holding call on the next play negated any momentum.

“We just couldn’t sustain anything,” Redding admitted. “It was hard work for either team to get first downs tonight. I’m glad we were able to get enough there in the second quarter to get some breathing room. This was playoff football for sure.”

Marshfield’s Tim Bunker blocked the ensuing punt, but the Rams couldn’t make the good starting field position count. Ryan DeGirolamo broke up a pass and then Holmes sniffed out an attempted fourth down shovel pass for no gain.

Facing third and 14, Boen (7-of-11, 88 yards) looked down the sideline to Knowlton. The pass was tipped by the Marshfield corner but Knowlton stayed with it for a 24-yard grab. The excitement from that play was fleeting as a holding call and then a fumble ended the drive.

Mansfield got the ball back and looked like it was just going to run the clock out. Boen broke an 18-yard gain on a keeper and then Holmes was close to a first down on the next play, but as he was fighting for extra yards Sullivan ripped the ball loose and took it up the far sideline for a 77-yard touchdown that stunned the home bench.

With 1:42 to play, Mansfield looked like it was going for it on fourth and two from its own 43, but instead Boen quick kicked it and the ball rolled down to the 10.

“We were just trying to hang on, trying to stay calm, do what we do, not get over excited,” said Holmes about the mindset for that final defensive possession.

Marshfield managed one first down on the final drive, just its fourth of the night, but the Hornets were flying to the ball. The Hornets only allowed Marshfield to complete 12-of-29 passes on the night. Bertolino, Jared Fraone, and Holmes all made big plays to stop the final drive and secure the win.

“It’s the story of the year,” said Redding about his defense. “They have played lights out and they won it tonight. Just unbelievable effort.”

When asked about what it was like to have Marshfield rather than traditional Thanksgiving Day rival Foxboro to close out the season, Redding explained, “We miss playing Foxboro with all the tradition, but we’re not too disappointed that when we do play Foxboro it will be next Thanksgiving hopefully in front of 5,000 instead of 300.

“I think it was fun to play a great team like this, who was undefeated. It was a damn good replacement to play kind of a Div. 2 South championship to wrap this thing up.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.