FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin entered the postseason with just two losses (both in double overtime) and with its highest-ever seed (No. 2). The Panthers rolled through a perfect league campaign, going 10-0 in the Hockomock, while compiling both the league’s best attack and its stingiest defense.
So, all the pressure was definitely on the Panthers when they opened up the state tournament at Pisini Stadium on Tuesday night against division rival Mansfield. The Hornets were playing with house money, having won the final three games of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs and having lost to Franklin by 20 goals a month ago.
When Jake DiSangro scored with just under six minutes left to go in the opening quarter, cutting the Franklin lead to 2-1, the Hornets bench exploded and there was a fleeting moment where an upset seemed possible.
But, the Panthers responded with two goals in 29 seconds and rattled off seven straight goals to close out the quarter with a 9-1 lead. Franklin never looked back, going up by 14 at halftime, and, despite Mansfield scoring the game’s final five goals, comfortably advancing to the second round with a 19-8 victory.
The combination of junior attackers Jake Davis and Ben Greco and sophomore Matt Lazzaro proved especially potent again for the Panthers on Tuesday. Greco and Lazzaro are cousins and Verrochi said they refer to Davis as “the third cousin.” That familiarity was on display as they combined for 16 of the team’s 19 goals and added 11 assists as well.
“They’ve been playing together since they were young kids,” Verrochi said of his attacking trio. “They just really respect one another and they just do a real nice job moving the ball. It’s just fun to watch when they’re on.”
Davis got things going just about a minute into the game with a rip from the left side under the bar. Ninety seconds later, Greco found Lazzaro cutting through the middle and he went behind-the-back to double the early lead. DiSangro answered four minutes later with Mansfield’s first, managing to beat Franklin goalie Will Davis with a shot while being knocked to the ground.
That goal seemed to spring Franklin to life.
Jacob Alexander, the newly-selected league MVP, won the ensuing face-off and quickly got the ball to Greco, who fed Lazzaro for a goal. Mansfield’s momentum lasted all of eight seconds. Twenty-one seconds after that Greco to Lazzaro made it 4-1.
Lazzaro (seven goals and three assists) hit a cutting Davis (seven goals and two assists) not once, but twice to add to the advantage. Greco (two goals and six assists) took one himself, squeezing past the Mansfield defense and beating goalie Joe Plath (11 saves) from a tight angle. Owen Kielty took a hit but still got a lot on a shot from distance to make it 8-1 and then Nitin Chaudhury wound up in traffic for a ninth just before the end of the quarter.
“We tried to slow them down,” said Mansfield coach Tim Frias. “We implemented a zone a little bit to slow down the high-powered offense but they’re good. They’re No. 2 for a reason.”
Despite Mansfield’s switch to a zone defense, Franklin figured out ways to manufacture space and the ball movement continued to open up scoring chances.
“The kids solved the zone pretty well,” said Verrochi. “They were ball watching and we were fortunate to get some good, open looks. Ben Greco, he’s been doing it all year, our fast breaks, our unsettled situations, the kids just move the ball. This is probably the best ball movement from any team we’ve had.”
The Hornets started the second man-down, but managed to end the Panthers scoring run. Connor Quirk beat two Panthers on the far side trying to clear after a timeout and then he raced all the way on goal before tucking it away.
Chaudhury found Davis with his hands free for a rocket into the corner to get the hosts going again. Davis added a side-arm effort off a turnover and then assisted on Lazzaro’s fourth. With just under five minutes left in the half, Patrick Morrison scooped a ground ball in his defensive third and raced forward on the break to find Greco alone in front for his second. Eleven seconds later, Greco to Lazzaro worked again to make it 14-2.
Lazzaro scored his sixth and Tim Kolb got his first to put the Panthers up by 14 heading into the break. Nico Holmes won the face-off to start the third and powered towards goal, flicking a pass to Brady Kessler for the goal to make it 16-3. Davis added two more and Lazzaro one to push the lead to 19-3, Franklin’s largest of the game.
The Hornets didn’t stop at that point and they pushed to win the final 16 minutes of the game. Aidan Sacco got it started with a goal with 3:57 left in the third and, after a Holmes face-off win, Mansfield got a goal from Brian Rockwell.
Mansfield (8-9) would shut out Franklin in the fourth. Holmes got a goal straight from the face-off to start the quarter, Sacco assisted on a goal by Thomas Norton, and Holmes (two goals and two assists) completed his four-point night with a rocket from long-range.
“That’s all you can ask out of a team is play with pride,” said Frias. “In the second half it was the little things that you hope you take away and can build on that. Hopefully we will.”
Franklin (17-2) advances to take on No. 7 seed Natick on Thursday night.
King Philip, 2 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final (12 Inn.) – In a game continued from Tuesday, Attleboro earned a walk off win on a sacrifice fly in 12 innings to beat King Philip. In the bottom of the 12th, Robbie Furtado walked, stole second, moved to third on a single from Sam Larkin and scored the winning run on Troy Van Vliet’s sacrifice fly. Eoin Kelleher pitched three scoreless innings in relief on Wednesday, which started in the top of the 10th inning after the game was called through nine innings due to darkness on Tuesday. Ryan Morry had a strong outing, going 6.2 innings while Max Amaral tossed 2.2 scoreless innings in relief.
Sharon, 6 @ Canton, 21 – Final – Canton senior Matt Pigeon went 5-for-5 with an RBI and five runs scored to pace the Bulldogs to a big win over visiting Sharon. Matt Connolly added three hits, three RBI and two runs scored for Canton, which totaled 19 hits as a team. Paul Corcoran knocked in a team-high four runs on two hits and three runs scored.
Stoughton, 8 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Stoughton pounded out 12 hits and scored at least once in each of the first five innings, including three runs in the fifth to jump out to an 8-1 lead over Foxboro. Junior George Currier led the way with three hits, an RBI, and a run scored while Robbie Seaman (RBI, two runs) and Michael Nazzaro (two doubles, RBI, run scored) each had two hits for the Black Knights, who had seven stolen bases on the day. Anthony Mollica and Joe Cavaleri each had two hits for Foxboro. Stoughton’s Evan Jackman earned the win on the mound, allowing two runs (one earned) in five innings of work with five hits, five walks, and three strikeouts.
Mansfield, 7 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – Mansfield uses a five-run fourth inning to create the necessary separation in a win on the road at Frothingham. The Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third and added another single run in the fifth inning. Chris Jenkins had a team-high three hits out of the nine hole, adding an RBI and two runs scored for the Hornets. Dan Saraceno (RBI), John Carney, and Nick Dumouchel (two runs, RB) each had two hits for the Hornets. Carney got the win, allowing just four hits and two walks in six shutout innings, striking out eight. Nick Boudreau had a strong relief performance for the Tigers, allowing one unearned run on six hits, three strikeouts and no walks in 3.1 innings of work.
North Attleboro, 5 @ Milford, 3 – Final – North Attleboro broke a tie game with a run in the top of the fifth and added an insurance run in the seventh to get a win on the road at Fino Field. The Hawks scored in the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead but North Attleboro plated three runs in the top of the third to jump ahead. Jared Penta reached on an infield error, stole second, got to third on a ground out and scored on a Todd Robinson fielder’s choice. Brendan McHugh drew a two-out walk, stole second, scored on a Nick Raneri single to right. Raneri advanced to third on a Dennis Colleran double and scored on an infield single from Jake Palmer to make it 3-2. Milford tied the game in the bottom of the fourth but the Rocketeers jumped back ahead a half inning later. After North loaded the bases with no outs, Milford sophomore Mario Lee came in and limited the Rocketeers to just one run on an infield error. Milford nearly had the tying run in the bottom of the sixth but a terrific relay throw from Shawn Watters was in time for the out at home. Matt Seavey came on in relief for North Attleboro, getting two outs with the tying run at third.
Attleboro, 3 @ King Philip, 6 – Final – King Philip erased a 3-0 deficit, plating three runs in each the fifth and sixth innings to secure a win over the Bombardiers. Paige Berdos and Ryan Stagg had singles to start the fifth and both scored on a single from Meg Gorman. Gorman stole home to tie the game 3-3. Gorman came up big in the sixth, knocking in Grace Kelley and Stagg, who had both singled. Faith Turinese pitched a solid game, striking out 6 with six hits allowed and one walk.
Taunton, 1 @ Franklin, 2 – Final – Franklin junior Sarah Jackson hit her second home run in as many games, this one a solo shot that broke a 1-1 tie to give the Panthers an upset win over Taunton, snapped the Tigers’ 28-game win streak dating back to last April. The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth when Hanna Aldrich drove in Jaime Brown (two hits, two walks). Ally Shea led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and moved to second on an infield error. Courtesy runner Molly Collins scored on a two-out single from Maddy White to make it 1-1. Jackson broke the tie with a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth. Jackie Cherry earned the win, allowing five hits while strikeout out four. Kelsey White was solid in the circle for Taunton, striking out six.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Mansfield, 12 – Final (5 inn.) – Sarah Cahill tossed a five-inning shutout and Ella Verheggen paced the Mansfield offense with three hits and five RBI to help the Hornets extend their win streak to four games. Cahill allowed only three hits and struck out six. Kara Bendanillo also had a pair of hits for Mansfield. Katie Abreu hit a double and Emma Varella added a single for the Tigers.
Milford, 0 @ North Attleboro, 16 – Final (5 inn.) – North Attleboro junior Bella Erti struck out 14, recording her 300th career strikeout, to lead the Rocketeers to a win over visiting Milford. Erti, Mandi Hanewich, Katie Daby, and Annebelle Hebard each had two hits to pace the North Attleboro offense. Abby Gallagher scored three runs and Alivia Byrne scored twice for North.
Stoughton, 2 @ Canton, 13 – Final – Canton scored less than a minute in, raced out to a 6-0 lead after a quarter, and never looked back in a win over Stoughton. Tommy Vaughan led the way with six goals and one assist for the Bulldogs. Griffin Roach, Andrew Canto, and Brendan Clifford each scored two goals and Dan Cohen added one as well.
Attleboro, 5 @ Mansfield, 14 – Final – Mansfield built a 7-2 lead at halftime and carried that momentum in the second half to earn a win over Attleboro. Brady Kessler paced the offense with a team-high seven goals while Connor Quirk had four goals and Jake Quirk finished with eight assists. Aidan Sacco and Brian Grant each scored once and had one helper and Jake DiSangro scored once for the Hornets. Joe Plath made seven saves in three quarters of play.
Sharon, 2 @ Franklin, 25 – Final
King Philip, 11 @ Oliver Ames, 7 – Final – Oliver Ames opened with a pair of leads (1-0, 2-1) but King Philip answered to take a 3-2 lead at the end of one quarter and never surrendered the advantage after that. The Tigers got within one, down 5-4, in the second but KP rattled off three straight goals, including a final tally from Robbie Tartaglia (two goals) with under a minute to go that was set up by a tremendous defensive play by Sean Cullugh. Colin DeVellis led the way with three goals, Andrew Sajdak added two goals and an assist, and Brian McCarthy scored one and had one helper. Tyler Bartlett, Matt Minkwitz, and Kevin Riggs each scored once for KP. Shane Kilkelly led Oliver Ames with three goals while Nick Gillis had a strong game in net for the Tigers.
North Attleboro, 9 @ Milford, 1 – Final
Mansfield, 21 @ Attleboro, 9 – Final – Katy Garvin scored seven times and also recorded seven assists to power Mansfield to a road win and its second straight game with 20-plus goals. Lauren Whitman added six goals and Olivia Murray had a hat trick for the Hornets. Kerry McCabe, Grace Fernandez, Annemarie McCoy, Maggie Danehy, and Paige Peterson all scored once for Mansfield.
Taunton, 7 @ Foxboro, 18 – Final
Franklin, 19 @ Sharon, 6 – Final – Annie Walsh had nine points, five goals and four assists, to lead Franklin to the win. It was the third straight game that the Panthers had held an opponent to six goals or fewer. Kelsey MacCallum added four goals and Jackie O’Neil had a goal and three assists in the win. Franklin goalie Gianna Cameron made six saves. Sharon was led by Emma Eberhardt, who scored four of the team’s six goals. Jenna Goldstein and Bridget McManus each scored for the Eagles and McManus also had a pair of assists. Rose Wald came up with 12 saves against the Franklin attack.
Oliver Ames, 6 @ King Philip, 19 – Final – KP continued its strong start to league play with a convincing win on home turf. Olivia Tormey was the top scorer for the Warriors with five goals and a pair of assists. Mackenzie Mazur and Caroline Klim each had hat tricks and Jess Sullivan added a two goals and an assist for KP. Victoria Tormey (two goals) and Shayla Weitzman (goal and an assist) each scored two points and Haley Izydorczak, Dana Truini, and Lily Brown each had a goal. Weitzman also scooped five ground balls and Ava Tormey had a strong defensive game for the Warriors, according to KP coach Kourtnie Wilder. Caroline Watson had four saves in the win. Oliver Ames’ Olivia Piazza had two goals and three assists while Maddie Kullen made 15 saves in net for the Tigers.
Milford @ North Attleboro, 3:45
Canton, 0 @ King Philip, 5 – Final – King Philip won all five matches in straight sets, earning a win over visiting Canton. Nick Putney won 6-1, 6-2 at first singles, Jack Cannon earned a 6-0, 6-0 win at second singles, and Zak Ryan prevailed 7-5, 6-2 at third singles. The team of Nate Ihley and Tyler Dowd picked up a 6-1, 6-2 win at first doubles while Jake Mager and Max Goreham secured a 6-1, 6-1 win at second doubles.
Foxboro, 5 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final
Stoughton, 0 @ Franklin, 5 – Final – Franklin’s Liam Marr prevailed in a battle with Stoughton’s Waseem Sablon in a battle of two of the top sophomores in the league, securing a 6-4, -5 win to complete the Panthers’ sweep. Rohan Herur won 6-3, 6-2 at second singles, and Vayshnav Malhotra didn’t drop a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at third singles. Saketh Saripalli and Lucas Gulick won 6-1, 6-0 at first doubles while Saket Gandham and Shoumik Sompally didn’t lose a game at second doubles.
Sharon, 5 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Sharon won all five matches in straight sets to sweep the Tigers on the road. Danujan Thirumavalavan won 6-2, 6-4 at first singles. Alberto Olivei earned a 6-1, 6-0 win at second singles, and Rueman Bhattacharyya won 6-0, 6-1 at third singles. The team of Max Brody and Max Chen secured a 6-2, 6-1 win at first doubles while Alex Aspel and Jake Ross teamed up for a 6-4, 6-3 win at second doubles.
North Attleboro, 5 @ Milford, 0 – Final – North Attleboro earned a win over Milford, winning all five matches in straight sets. Jonah Manso prevailed 7-5, 6-1 at first singles, Alex Pfeffer earned a 6-1, 6-0 win at second singles, and Sam Gallagher won 6-1, 6-1 at third singles. Vikram Senthilakumaran teamed up with Tomas Bentley for a 6-1, 6-1 win at first doubles while Will Redding and Isa Siddiq secured a 6-1, 6-3 win at second doubles.
King Philip, 1 @ Canton, 4 – Final – Canton won a pair of matches in both singles and doubles action to secure a win over visiting King Philip. Rachel Kupferman picked up a 6-2, 6-2 win at first singles while Natalie Keppler won 6-4, 6-4 at second singles. The team of Stelina Michaelidis and Rose Hazam notched a 6-4, 6-4 win at first doubles while Kiara Cerruti teamed up with Lily Hazam to win 6-3, 6-2 at second doubles. King Philip’s Mia Valencia won 6-2, 3-0 (injury) at third singles.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Foxboro swept doubles action and won two more matches in singles action to take down visiting Oliver Ames. Pam Nelson didn’t drop a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at first singles while Julia Muise secured a 6-1, 6-1 win at third singles. The team of Kendall Milender and Paige Krockta prevailed 6-4, 7-5 at first doubles while Maggie McAuliffe and Neha Jammula won 6-0, 6-2 at second doubles. Oliver Ames’ Maura Kiernan recorded a 6-0, 6-4 win at second singles.
Franklin, 2 @ Stoughton, 3 – Final
Taunton, 1 @ Sharon, 4 – Final – Sharon swept singles action and earned one more win in doubles play to get a win over visiting Taunton. Nupur Shukla was impressive in her match, winning 6-0, 6-0 at first singles. Charlie Martinez added a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) win at second singles and Sophia Fein picked up a 6-2, 6-4 win at third singles. The team of Lauren Glass and Maikala Cheung secured a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win at first doubles. Taunton’s Ogechi Ariguzo and Kayla Parrett earned a hard fought 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) win at second doubles.
Milford, 2 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final – The Rocketeers took two wins in singles action and one more in doubles play to defend home court against Milford. Tara Nair won 6-3, 6-2 at first singles and Olivia Wills earned a 6-3, 6-2 win at at third singles for North, while the team of Sam Martino and Hayley Strom picked up a 7-6 (7-1), 6-0 win at first doubles. Juliana France (second singles, 6-1, 6-4) and the team of Cristielly Prado and Ketny Sousa (second doubles, 3-6, 7-6 [7-5], 10-6) won for Milford.
King Philip, 3 vs. Keefe Tech, 0 – Final – King Philip defended home court on Wednesday evening, earning a 3-0 sweep (25-17, 25-19, 25-15) over visiting Keefe Tech. Kyle Desrochers had a strong day serving with 13 service points and anchored the defense with a team-high eight digs. Max Armour added seven digs and Cam Corey (24 assists) added six digs. Eric Altobello (nine kills) and Jimmy Peterson (eight kills, five blocks) anchored net play for KP.
Taunton, 3 vs. Dighton-Rehoboth, 0 – Final – Taunton’s Alex Tavares (eight kills), Damir Santiago (seven kills), Tyler Stewart (six kills), and Gage Kingman (five kills) combined for 26 kills in a well-balanced attack, leading the Tigers to a 3-0 sweep (25-15, 25-21, 25-19) of Dighton-Rehoboth. Tavares also had a block and three aces, Santiago chipped in with a block, Stewart was strong with four blocks, and Kingman finished with 10 digs and two aces for the Tigers.
Foxboro @ Norton – Postponed to a date and time to be announced.
Taunton vs. Coyle & Cassidy – Postponed to Thursday, 5/16 at 3:45.
Canton vs. Boston Latin – Postponed to a date and time to be announced.
Foxboro @ Medway – Postponed to Tuesday, 5/14 at 4:00.
Oliver Ames @ North Attleboro – Postponed to Friday, 4/26 at 3:45.
Foxboro, 18 @ Wayland, 11 – Final – Foxboro senior Brendan Tully netted his 100th career goal as the Warriors picked up a big win on the road over Wayland. Tully had five goals and two assists while Pete Conley had four goals and three assists, each finishing with seven points for Foxboro. Charlie Baughan added three goals, Aidan Stapleton and Bobby Yerardi each found the back of the net twice, and Shayne Kerrigan scored once and had two helpers. Foxboro coach Matt Noone said Nick Penders was excellent at the faceoff X.
King Philip, 11 @ Bishop Feehan, 8 – Final – King Philip senior Colin DeVellis factored into seven goals, helping the Warriors take down Bishop Feehan. DeVellis scored five goals and recorded two assists, Kevin Riggs netted a pair of goals, and Andrew Sajdak had one goal and one assist. Sam Mattson (goal, assist) David Lawler (goal), Robbie Tartaglia (goal), and Tyler Bartlett (assist) all contributed to the score.
Mansfield, 14 @ Framingham, 6 – Final – Mansfield got back into the win column with a victory on the road at Framingham. Connor Quirk and Brady Kessler paced the offense, each scoring four goals apiece. Jake Quirk netted three goals, Aidan Sacco added two tallies, and Jake DiSangro chipped in with one goal. Joe Plath made 12 saves in net for the Hornets.
Attleboro @ Milford – Postponed to Friday, 4/26 at 4:00.
Oliver Ames @ Ashland – Postponed to a date and time to be announced.
Canton, 8 @ Mansfield, 22 – Final – Katy Garvin had five goals and four assists and Lauren Whitman had seven goals and an assist to lead the Hornets to a comprehensive non-league win against the Bulldogs. Whitman was also a force on the draws, pulling down 15 to keep Mansfield in possession. Maggie Danehy had a hat trick, while Olivia Murray, Grace Fernandez, and Annemarie McCory all scored twice in the win. Grace Danehy recorded her first career goal as well. Katie McCarthy had a big game in goal, recording a career-high 13 saves.
Franklin, 15 @ Medfield, 6 – Final – Franklin raced out to a 10-3 lead at halftime and never looked back for a victory on the road at Medfield. Senior Annie Walsh had a team-high nine points, scoring five goals and adding four assists while junior Erin Walsh also scored five goals with two helpers. Annie Walsh and Stella Regan dominated draws for the Panthers, combining for 15 wins. Hailey Toolin and Sydney Hawkins played well defensively in front of Gianna Cameron (10 saves).
North Attleboro, 7 vs. Medway, 17 – Final
King Philip, 17 vs. Bishop Feehan, 7 – Final – Six different players scored for the Warriors, as KP rolled to a non-league win. Jess Sullivan led the way with six goals, while Caroline Klim added six points (five goals and an assist) of her own. Olivia Tormey had a hat trick, while Victoria Tormey chipped in with a goal and two assists. Mackenzie Mazur and Ali Wilson also scored for the Warriors, while Wilson added an assist as well. Caroline Watson made nine saves in the win.
Sharon, 6 @ Foxboro, 16 – Final – Foxboro senior Sophia DiCenso recorded her 200th career goal as the Warriors rolled to a win in the rain. Emma Eberhardt and Jenna Goldstein each scored twice for the Eagles and Mia Lappen added one. Maeve Barbera, Bridget McManus, and Molly McAlevey each had assists in the loss.
Milford @ Attleboro – Postponed to Tuesday, 4/25 at 3:45.
Oliver Ames vs. Ursuline Academy – Postponed to Thursday, 5/9 at 4:00.
North Attleboro @ Attleboro – Postponed to Wednesday, 5/22 at 3:45.
Canton @ King Philip – Postponed to Wednesday, 4/24 at 3:45.
Foxboro @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to Wednesday, 4/24 at 3:45.
Stoughton @ Franklin – Postponed to a date and time to be announced.
Sharon @ Taunton – Postponed to Wednesday, 4/24 at 3:45.
Milford @ Mansfield – Postponed to Wednesday, 4/24 at 3:45.
Attleboro @ North Attleboro – Postponed to Wednesday, 5/22 at 3:45.
King Philip @ Canton – Postponed to Wednesday, 4/24 at 3:45.
Oliver Ames @ Foxboro – Postponed to Wednesday, 4/24 at 3:45.
Franklin @ Stoughton – Postponed to a date and time to be announced.
Taunton @ Sharon – Postponed to Wednesday, 4/24 at 3:45.
Mansfield @ Milford – Postponed to Wednesday, 4/24 at 3:45.
King Philip, 3 vs. Norton, 0 – Final – King Philip defended home court by sweeping visiting Norton 3-0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-18). Eric Altobello paced the offense with 14 kills while Jimmy Peterson added eight kills. Shea Duffy was strong at the net with three blocks while Max Armour and Mike O’Brien played well defensively with seven digs apiece.
2018 Record: 5-13 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Kevin Patton
The Bombardiers will boast a relatively young group in 2019 but are still ready to compete in a difficult Hockomock League.
With a total of 14 underclassmen – eight sophomores and six freshmen – there will certainly be learning curves and some ups and downs throughout the year, but those new faces are hungry to improve throughout the season.
Attleboro’s strong suit will be in net as Hockomock League All-Star Trevor Koppy, a captain for this year’s team, returns to the cage. Koppy is one of the most experienced netminders in the league and the Bombardiers will be relying on him for his play plus his leadership as a captain. Attleboro will also rely on the leadership on and off the field by junior captain Tom Shipman, who will be a key piece in the midfield.
Shipman will be joined by senior Zach Thomas and sophomores Michael Strachan and Aidan Diggin in the midfield. All four have plenty of varsity experience so Attleboro will certainly rely on them to guide the way as the younger players are incorporated into the lineup. Sophomore Matthew Perry returns up front while junior Jack Handy is back defensively.
The Bombardiers are hoping junior Bryson Friess and freshman Fred Wheaton will make an impact defensively while freshmen Keigan Conley and Jack Lamothe will bolster the attack. Freshman Ryan Betts will also be apart of the midfield unit this season.
We are a young team…but they’re all ready to contribute quality minutes,” said Attleboro coach Kevin Patton, who switched from the girl’s team to the boys this Spring. “With Trevor Koppy and Tommy Shipman, our captains, they are prepared to lead the team to the next level. I’m looking forward to the future of the program!”
2018 Record: 10-8 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinals Coach: Bill Bendell
After missing out on the playoffs in 2017, Canton put together a memorable 2018 campaign that ended in the D2 South Sectional Semifinals. The Bulldogs are looking to replicate that success and make another deep tournament run again this year.
And with a good amount of players back from last year’s squad, there is a lot of optimism that tournament run can happen. Senior Griffin Roach, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection, will pace the offense again this year. Roach had 30 goals and 17 assists last year and his competitiveness is contagious to those around him. Roach will be joined by classmate Dan Cohen, a Hockomock League honorable mention selection. Cohen is a dangerous player, scoring 24 goals in the regular season last year.
David Allen, Chris Lavoie, Brendan Clifford, and Matt Martin are great athletes and capable scorers as well, while Tommy Vaughan will look to make an impact with his playmaking ability. On defense, the Bulldogs will turn to Brendan Albert and Nick Mackay, who head coach Bill Bendell called two of the most underrated players in the Hockomock League. Both possess a boatload of experience at the varsity level and will anchor the Bulldog defensive group. George Kent and James Murphy will also be apart of Canton’s defense while Shane Marshall, Sam Walsh, Jack Albert, and Carson Campbell will all see time and make key contributions this seasons, Bendell said.
Sophomore Dylan Coyne will take over in net for the Bulldogs and has had a strong preseason so far. Bendell believes Coyne is poised for a breakout year. Jeff Fitzgerald, Tommy Ghostlaw, and Mackay will all be in the running to handle faceoff duties.
“We are very excited about our offensive and defensive potential,” Bendell said. “Our varsity depth is not what we would like it to be at this point, but a few players have shown flashes of potential that make us think we will be much deeper come Memorial Day.”
Foxboro will have a young squad with just five seniors this year but that doesn’t mean there will be a lack of experience from the defending Davenport division champions.
Senior Brendan Tully sets the example with his work ethic but is also one of the most dangerous players in the Hockomock League. A Providence College commit, Tully has tormented defenses for the past two seasons. He had 44 goals and 22 assists last year and will be one of Foxboro’s main weapons. Tully will be joined by Bobby Yerardi, who had over 40 points as a sophomore and has improved his game in the offseason. His ability to finish right or left makes life difficult for opponents.
The Warriors bring back junior Shayne Kerrigan for faceoffs. Kerrigan is one of the best in the area on the draw and puts Foxboro in good positions time after time; he will be a key piece in the midfield for the Warriors. Junior Pete Conley, Aiden Stapleton, and Charlie Baughan will make the up the attacking group for Foxboro this year.
Pat Stapleton is one of the most experienced players in the league as well as one of the top defensive players. He will anchor a defensive unit that has been one of the best in the region over the past couple of seasons. He will be joined by juniors Ronnie MacLellan and Will Morrison. All three players have the ability to move up to LSM when needed.
One question mark for the Warriors could be goalie, as Foxboro graduated Hockomock League MVP Jake Addeche. Head coach Matt Noone is confident in his options this season, with four players competing for the time in the cage. Freshman Matt Tully is beginning the season as the starter.
“I am really looking forward to this season as we are young but dangerous,” Noone said. “The best thing about this team is our depth, there is competition for every spot and they love to compete! What more can you ask for?”
Franklin has had a lot of success in recent years, and that trend looks like it will continue in 2019.
“The outlook for this season is very good,” said Franklin head coach Lou Verrochi. “It could be one of the best teams we’ve had at FHS.”
The reason for the high expectations is the amount of talent returning from last year’s Kelley-Rex team that reached the D1 South Quarterfinals. Although the Panthers graduated two-time All-American and two-time HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Eric Civetti and starting goalie Connor O’Rourke, Franklin has experience and talent back at each position.
It all will start with senior Jacob Alexander, who has been arguably the best faceoff man in the entire state over the past couple of seasons. Alexander’s ability to consistently win draws gives Franklin a huge advantage and sets the offense in motion. Patrick Morrison, a second-team All-American selection last season, will anchor the defensive unit for the Panthers this year along with Will Harvey, who was one of the most underrated players last year. Will Davis, who saw time in net some last year, is set to take over in the cage and could be one of the top netminders in the league.
The Franklin midfield will consist of Nitin Chaudhury – one of the hardest working athletes in any sport – along with Owen Palmieri and Ben Kolb, who has really impressed in scrimmages during the preseason. Franklin’s attack could be among the most dangerous in the league this year with three legitimate options. Jake Davis (32 goals, 23 assists), Matt Lazzaro (30 points), and Ben Greco are all unselfish but can also finish.
2018 Record: 9-10 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals Coach: Hal Bean
King Philip is hoping that a good amount of returning experience from last year’s team will result in a successful season and possibly a run through the D1 South bracket.
The Warriors have one of the most experienced attackmen in the league in Colin DeVellis, who has been one of the best finishers in each of the last two years. He finished fourth overall in points his sophomore year (22 goals, 36 assists) and again his junior year (45 goals, 29 assists) and is the top returning scorer back from last year. His ability to finish in close makes life tough for opponents but he’s also able to find teammates when the defense focuses on him. Andrew Sajdak and Sam Mattson will also be key pieces on the attack and the three showed good chemistry in their first game this year.
Wes Bishop, who is committed to play at UMass Boston, is a great leader that will anchor the defensive unit. He has a lot of varsity experience and is the type of player that leads by example. Luke D’Amico is another experienced defender that will stand out for KP this year. Tyler Bartlett, Aiden Bender, Chris Longobardi, and Garrett Maxwell give coach Hal Bean a large group of experienced players.
Junior Andrew McKinney is back in goal after splitting time in the cage last season.
2018 Record: 9-9 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tim Frias
Mansfield has made the state tournament in each of the last four seasons and will be looking to make it five straight in 2019.
It all starts in the midfield with senior Aidan Sacco. Sacco, who played quarterback this past fall for the Hornet football team, is like the quarterback for the Hornet boys lacrosse team. A lot of the offense will run through Sacco because of his vision and ability to share the ball. He is also a key part of the Hornet defense. His ability to get back and track opponents while also causing turnovers and transitioning defense into offense will be key for Mansfield.
On offense, the Hornets have an experienced stick in the hands of Mike Reed, who will be relied on to lead the Hornets into the playoffs down the stretch. Connor Quirk will also be a key cog for Mansfield this year while Joe Plath, Sean Weber, and Will Nelson are going to be important pieces in the defensive unit.
The Hornets have a strong piece in Nico Holmes at the face-off X. Holmes picked up varsity experience at the position last year and he will look to give Mansfield extra possessions this year in their push for the state tournament.
Coleman O’Brien and Brian Rockwell are battling for the starting spot in the cage.
2018 Record: 6-11 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jacob Scordato
After increasing their win total from 2017 to 2018, the Scarlet Hawks will be looking to continue that trend in 2019.
With returning starters back in a lot of positions, second-year head coach Jacob Scordato is hopeful that Milford can make a run at a state tournament berth.
“Our Goal as a team is to make the playoffs, this program hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2012,” Scordato said. “But this group of extraordinary young men are highly motivated on achieving that goal.”
The Scarlet Hawks bring back their leading scorer in Brendan White, who had 45 points last season (31 goals, 14 assists). White is a strong, physical forward with a strong shot. His ability to finish through contact makes him one of the top attackmen in the league. In the midfield, junior captain Danny Farrell is back after a standout sophomore year. Farrell, an LSM, led the team last season with 64 ground balls.
Senior Ryan Pearl will anchor a defensive unit that is looking to improve on last season. Sophomore Evan Hazard had a standout freshman campaign between the pipes last year. He will be relied upon this season to help keep Milford in games as they make a push for the postseason.
2018 Record: 15-5 2018 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals Coach: Kevin Young
After coming close to the Davenport title a year ago, the Rocketeers are ready to make another run at the division title and as well as a deep playoff run.
While the Rocketeers graduated some top talent in the league such as midfielders Jason McNeany and Max Fontes, defenseman Tommy Lockavitch, and attack Tommy Lindstrom, North Attleboro has talent and experience in every position. Juniors Nate D’Amico and Jake McNeany are back after splitting time last season and will be competing for minutes again this season.
Defensively, the Rocketeers bring back three starters from a unit that allowed a league-low 95 goals last year. Junior Brett Labonte had a terrific season and will be joined by classmate Will Yeomans and sophomore Tyler Sarro. Head coach Kevin Young said the trio is tough, vocal, active, and play very well together. In the midfield, senior captains Nick Ward and Ryan Boyle will be key pieces. Ward will also see time at attack while Boyle will be a defensive minded midfielder.
“Nick is a very smart, sneaky threat with great IQ and stick skills,” said North Attleboro coach Kevin Young. “Ryan is just a grinder that all coaches appreciate.”
Junior Dan Conroy takes over as the main faceoff guy and will be joined by Ryan Rajotte, Damien Curtis, Nick Morse, Jack Puccio, Cam Cornetta, and Joe Milosh in the midfield.
The attack will be spearheaded by junior Andy DeMattio, last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. DeMattio had a tremendous season, scoring 52 goals and adding 22 assists for a team-high 74 points. “He should be fun to watch as he’s picked up some size and speed,” Young said. DeMattio will be joined by junior Jack Connolly and freshman Matt Antonetti.
2018 Record: 14-7 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinals Coach: Ben Devlin
Coming off the best season in program history, Oliver Ames is aiming to have another successful year and hoping to replicate last year’s playoff push.
The Tigers reached the D2 South Sectional Semifinals last season and bring back five of the top seven scorers from a year ago. While the top two scorers — Eric LeBlanc and Owen Gallagher — and their 146 points graduated, there is a lot of optimism in the program because they have reloaded for this year.
Oliver Ames will be young on the attack with junior Sandro Masciarelli and sophomore Remi Creighton, but there is still experience in the position. Masciarelli had 25 goals last year while Creighton will see more minutes this year. The strength of the program will be in the midfield with the likes of senior captain Colin Bourne (30 goals), junior Shane Kilkelly (32 goals), junior Sam Stevens (23 goals), and junior Frankie Ireland (29 goals). That group was a big reason for OA’s memorable season last year and now have a year of experience playing together under their belts.
Defensively the Tigers are looking for senior captains Shane Murphy and Matt Saba to lead the way. Both players were apart of the defensive unit last year and have been a big reason for the program’s improvement over the past couple of seasons. Senior LSM Cullen Gallagher will be a key defensive midfielder while junior Tyler Campbell will likely factor into the Tiger defense this year. Junior Nick Gillis returns as the starting goalie while senior Steve Heino is an experienced backup.
“Our goal is to keep improving each day and keep building on last year’s success,” said OA head coach Ben Devlin. “The kids have bought into the program and are excited and enthusiastic about the season. We don’t expect anyone or two players to replace the production we graduated, but if all our returners can progress like they did last year, we should be in the mix for a tourney berth.”
2018 Record: 12-7 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Jon Shocket
Sharon has a strong mix of returners and new faces and is hoping that combination will result in a return trip to the state tournament.
The Eagles will have an experienced defensive group with all three starting defensemen back this year, and all three are seniors. Sam Spencer, Coleman Loftus, and Ronin McCabe are back to give the Eagles a formidable defensive group. Having an experienced defensive in front of new goalie, sophomore Adam Rabb, will help as the season gets underway.
Sophomore Drew Litner is back after a terrific freshman year. Litner can score but he is one of the most unselfish players in the league and does a terrific job finding teammates on the move. He was among the league leaders in assists last year, dishing out 28 helpers. Litner will be joined by senior Brandon Buckman and freshman Zack Waxman in the attacking group.
The midfield will also have a good amount of experience with seniors Daniel Lillenfeld and Mitchell Director leading the way. Nick Stamm and Rowan Barnes have impressed this preseason and should be apart of the group as well. Junior Max Posner could be poised for a breakout year while sophomore Cobe Jacobson and freshmen Brady Daylor and Jace Nestler will be in the mix too.
Returning LSM Tyler Freedman is back after a terrific rookie campaign and could be a top player for the Eagles while there are high hopes for freshman faceoff specialist Ben Shocket, who could be an X-factor for the Eagles.
2018 Record: 1-15 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Pat Healey
The Black Knights enter their third season as a varsity program and are looking to continue to grow as a program in a difficult league.
After being inexperienced last year, the Black Knights are hoping the lessons learned from last year will pay off this year. It starts with the four captains: Sean Doherty, Luke Bainton, Alex Wilson, and Nate Wilson. Doherty and Bainton will do a little bit of everything for the Black Knights and will be two of the top options offensively. Alex Wilson and Nate Wilson will anchor the defensive unit, bringing plenty of lacrosse experience to that group.
Stoughton is also looking for a big season out of junior Foster McLeod. McLeod has shown in the past the ability to beat defenders and create opportunities for others. Sophomores Max Huminik and Mike McLaughlin will also see increased roles after impressing during their rookie seasons in 2018.
Sophomore Thomas Ratcliffe, a Hockomock League honorable mention last year, returns in the cage and gives the Black Knights a steady presence between the pipes. Sophomore Marty Barrett returns as a long pole and will be a key piece of the Knights’ defense.
BOSTON, Mass. – A lot has happened over the last 80-plus years in the annual clash between Mansfield and Foxboro football.
But the storied rivalry between the Hornets and Warriors has never had a game like Tuesday night’s contest at Fenway Park.
Foxboro outlasted Mansfield, 35-33, in triple overtime on the historic field inside Fenway Park — the first overtime game in series history.
“It doesn’t get much better than this,” said longtime Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “Our kids going in as the underdog, they played harder than I’ve ever seen them play and I’m proud of them all.
“There were a lot of things at stake for us. We struggled a bit in the first half of the year, and I saw a vast improvement the second half of the year. The kids won four of their last five games so I’m pretty pleased for the kids. Two great teams, a great rivalry, we have the utmost respect for Coach Redding and his kids. It was a battle of wills I guess and we outlasted so I’m pretty happy.”
After being limited to six points through the first three quarters, Foxboro scored four times between the fourth quarter and three overtime periods.
On the flip side, Mansfield orchestrated a game-tying drive over the final 2:32, driving 63 yards before tying the game with just two seconds left.
“[Foxboro] played hard, it was a great game,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “We told the Fenway people we have a great rivalry, we play great football, we’re going to bring a great crowd and we did all of it. We had two very good teams battle to the end, it was like a three hour game, and we had a great crowd in the cold, They made one more play. It was a classic and a great effort by both teams.”
After the teams remained tied through two overtime periods, Foxboro was able to make one final stop to secure the win. The Warriors started on offense in the third overtime and found the end zone on second down. Senior quarterback Liam Foley (10-for-17, 165 yards, three touchdowns) hit classmate Mike Luong in the flat for a 9-yard touchdown. Foley rolled right then threw back across his body to an open Rob Fay for the two point conversion and a 35-27 lead.
Mansfield punched it in on third down on a carry from sophomore Cincere Gill (12 carries, 104 yards) from three yards out to make it 35-33. Gill dove into the pylon on the two-point attempt but Mansfield was called for holding and had to attempt the two-point conversion from the 13-yard line.
Junior quarterback Jack Mousette (11-for-20, 82 yards, one touchdown) nearly connected with a receiver but a nice tackle forced the pass incomplete and Foxboro held on for the win.
In the first overtime, Foley dodged some pressure to connect with Brian Derba for a 10-yard touchdown on third down but the two-point rush failed. Mansfield tied the game on its first play with Aidan Sacco (10 carries, 86 yards) using a QB option to keep it himself for a 10-yard score. After a delay of game, Mansfield’s two-point attempt from the 8-yard line was shut down.
Foxboro had a chance to win it in the second overtime, but similar to Mansfield in the opening extra period, the defense came up big. Mansfield elected to pass on a 23-yard field goal (with starting kicker Michael DeBolt out hurt) and went for it on 4th and goal from the 6. Mousette hit Danny Rapoza right at the 1-yard line but Foxboro’s Shayne Kerrigan made a terrific leaping tackle to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line.
Foxboro ran it twice before trotting its field goal unit out on third down for a 23-yard attempt. But Russell Neale’s attempt at a walk-off win at Fenway was denied by sophomore TJ Guy, who jumped high into the air and blocked the kick, leading to the third OT where Foxboro ended up winning.
“I couldn’t have written a script any better for the seniors,” Martinelli said. “They were resilient, they hung tough. Even when it looked like momentum had swung a little bit, they came up and made some plays for us. I couldn’t be prouder of a bunch of kids than what I saw tonight.
“Couldn’t be happier for the kids to go out this way.”
Before the teams got to overtime, Foxboro nearly had the game won in regulation. The Warriors stopped Mansfield inside the red zone (with the Hornet drive hampered by a bad snap and Pat Stapleton coming up with a big hit on fourth down) and had the chance to kill the block. Facing a 4th and inches from their own 40 yard line, Foley went back and tried to hand the ball off to each of his backs but instead pulled it back in for a bootleg run to the let side and converted.
Three plays later, on a third and 9 play from the 43 yard line, Kerrigan came in motion and Foley faked the handoff on the jet sweep. The senior quarterback looked back to his right to get the defense to move in that direction and turned back to his left and lofted a pass to Kerrigan out on the sideline on a wheel route. Kerrigan did the rest, racing to a 57-yard score and a 21-13 lead with 2:32 to play.
“I never could have imagined a game like that,” Foley said after being named MVP for the game. “We knew coming in we were playing a really good team in Mansfield so this is unbelievable. We knew we had to play the best we could and I think everybody gave everything they could tonight.”
With just one timeout, Mansfield responded and marched 63 yards to tie the game. Joe Plath, who took over tailback duties with Vinnie Holmes, Michael DeBolt, and Nick Marciano sidelined and was named Hornet MVP, had an eight yard run to convert an early 4th and two from the Mansfield 45-yard line, and four plays later, with the Hornets staring at 4th and 7, Mousette used his legs to get 16 yards and a first.
Another run from Plath on third down (3rd and 1 from the 19) got Mansfield inside the red zone with under 30 seconds to play. On third and goal from the 5 yard line, Mousette lofted one to Khristian Conner on the right side and Conner made a terrific catch while going to the ground for the touchdown.
Mansfield went back to the ground for the two-point conversion with Gill taking the sweep left and cutting up the middle to tie the game 21-21 with just two seconds left.
The Hornets took a 6-0 lead in the first half on a five-yard plunge from Plath, but had two turnovers in the opening frame to stop them from padding the lead. Hunter Williams forced an errant throw that Martin McIlroy hauled in for an interception and Anton George fell on a loose ball after a bad handoff exchange. Mike Sheehan had a fumble recovery in the second half for Foxboro.
“Way too many turnovers for us,” Redding said. “It probably should have been 21-0 at half but it’s only 6-0 and [Foxboro] has a game, which is what they wanted. They started believing a little bit and we couldn’t shake them. We kept answering but we just let them hang around. And when a call doesn’t go your way, it changes the game and we had a lot them not go our away.”
Foxboro tied the contest 6-6 on its opening drive of the second half. Foley orchestrated a nine-play, 78 yard drive that included a 40-yard pass and (terrific leaping) catch from Fay. Luong capped it with a 1-yard score.
The game was tied for just 21 seconds though. On the first play of Mansfield’s ensuing drive, Sacco used a QB option to keep the ball and darted up the middle for a 68-yard score and a 13-6 lead after Gill hit the extra point.
The Warriors pulled ahead early in the fourth quarter. Foxboro’s pass was incomplete on 4th and 4 from the six but Mansfield was whistled for offside, and then two straight unsportsmanlike conduct calls after that. Foxboro capitalized with Luong plunging in from 2 yards out. Luong also got the two-point conversion, albeit a little help from the offensive line with a big push after the Hornets had the original stop, to give Foxboro a 14-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Foxboro football finishes the season 5-6 while Mansfield closes out the 2018 campaign with a 8-3 record.
Foxboro, 35 @ Mansfield, 33 (@ Fenway Park) – Final (3 OT) 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (M) Joe Plath 5-yard run, XP no good.
3rd Quarter: (F) Mike Luong 1-yard run, XP no good; (M) Aidan Sacco 68-yard run, Cincere Gill XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) M. Luong 2-yard run, M. Luong 2-point conversion; (F) Liam Foley 57-yard pass to Shayne Kerrigan, Russ Neale XP good; (M) Jack Mousette 5-yard pass to Khristian Conner, C. Gill two-point conversion.
First OT: (F) L. Foley 10-yard pass to Brian Derba, 2-point conversion failed; (M) A. Sacco 10-yard run, 2-point conversion failed.
Second OT: No scoring.
Third OT: (F) L. Foley 9-yard pass to M. Luong, L. Foley pass to Rob Fay 2-point conversion; (M) C. Gill 3-yard run, 2-point conversion failed.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The first game back in September was a surprising shootout, but the rematch in the pouring rain on Friday night at Alumni Field was more of what has come to be expected from battles between Mansfield and King Philip.
Defense was the story of the Div. 2 South final. The Hornets scored a touchdown on their opening possession but were held off the board for the remainder of the game, while the Warriors were held without a touchdown until midway through the fourth quarter.
King Philip came away with a hard-hitting 10-7 victory over its division rival, securing its third straight trip to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
“There’s playing teams and then there’s playing Mansfield,” King Philip coach Brian Lee remarked. “You know what you’re going to get and it’s just how are you going to move the ball when they’re big and mean and tough and we’re just trying to find a way.”
Mansfield took the lead midway through the first quarter, taking advantage of a short punt to score its only touchdown of the game.
After a three-yard punt, the Hornets got the ball at the KP 37 but then backed up 10 yards on a pair of false starts. On third and 15, Aidan Sacco was able to pull the ball down and scramble for 16 and a first down. Two plays later, Sacco again found space to run and rumbled in untouched for a 16-yard score.
The ensuing kick was fielded at the one by Aidan Bender, but he returned it 47 yards out to midfield. The Warriors were unable to make it count, but the defense got the ball right back.
KP forced a Mansfield three-and-out and regained possession inside Hornets territory. Ryan Halliday (27 carries, 96 yards), with help from a defensive holding call, got the ball down to the 21, but Mansfield held firm and forced a 38-yard field goal from Cole Baker that cut the lead to 7-3.
Mansfield had a chance to add to its lead before halftime when it go the ball back at midfield. The drive started poorly, as Sacco was sacked by Halliday and Max Armour, but a personal foul following an incomplete pass gifted the Hornets 15 yards and a first down. Sacco then hit Cincere Gill for 20 yards down to the KP 18, but two plays later Gill fumbled and Bender recovered for the Warriors.
“When they didn’t score before the half, I thought we were okay,” said Lee. “We couldn’t have played any worse offensively and made some mistakes on defense, but if we could get into the half and make our adjustments and only be down four I thought alright that’s KP football, we’re fine.”
The third quarter continued the trend where defenses were in control of the game. Even without Vinnie Holmes at linebacker, Mansfield was getting big plays from Chris Copponi and T.J. Guy. KP was getting typically strong performances from Armour and fellow linebacker Jack Webster to stymie the Mansfield offense.
The score stayed the same heading to the fourth before KP finally got something going on the offensive side of the ball. The Warriors ate up six minutes with an 11-play, 51-yard drive to take the lead.
“We started just grinding it out, pounding it,” said junior quarterback Robbie Jarest about the go-ahead drive. “The line was doing really well, we were just grinding it out.”
Halliday continued to be the workhorse back, grinding out yards, including a two-yard burst to convert a fourth and one. On second and six, KP called for a bootleg from Jarest and he bounced it to the outside for 11 yards. On third and six, Jarest scrambled and managed to dive ahead for nine and another first down to the Mansfield 12.
On the next play, he hit David Morganelli just outside the goal line for a first and goal from about a foot, which Jarest finished off with a sneak.
The Hornets had 5:38 on the clock to try and get back the lead. Back-to-back nine-yard gains by Gill and Joe Plath got the ball out to the 43. After an eight-yard gain by Khristian Conner pushed the ball into KP territory, Mansfield took a chance downfield. Sacco tried to squeeze a pass in down the middle but it was picked off by Deric Casado at the 16.
On third and eight, again KP turned to its quarterback on a bootleg and Jarest weaved his way through the Mansfield defense for nine yards and a dagger first down that sealed the win.
“Robert gave us a little wrinkle at the end that was just enough,” said Lee. “That’s kind of what we do at KP, just enough. He’s really done a great job stepping up, taking the coaching, and I’m really proud of his efforts.”
No one was quite sure what to make of this KP team at the start of the season. With no returning starters on offense, this didn’t seem like a Warriors team that could make it back to the state title game, but here they are again booking a trip back to Gillette Stadium with eyes on a three-peat.
“It’s a very different team and it’s presented challenges along the way but they still have the same theme, which is keep believing, keep working,” Lee explained. “The one thing that stayed from the last two years is their work ethic and their belief that they can pull it off.”
He added, “We have heart, we have guts, we have teamwork, and we use it on this team better than anybody. Anybody can be a hero on a different play.”
King Philip (8-2) will face Franklin on Thanksgiving Day and then take on North champion North Andover in the Div. 2 title game. Mansfield also finished the season at 8-2 and will finish its season with its Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Foxboro at Fenway Park.
Injuries hampered Attleboro right from the start of the 2017 season, but the 2018 Bombardiers are healthy and hoping for a big turnaround this fall to compete with the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division and make a return to the postseason.
The graduation of quarterback Cam Furtado is a significant loss on offense, but the Bombardiers will hand the ball to junior Jason Weir, who has a big arm and a lot of potential at the QB position. Size and strength won’t be a problem for Weir, who played defensive end as a sophomore. Seniors Justin Cote and Alex Rodriguez will be the primary backs for Attleboro this year and give the Bombardiers dynamic weapons out of the backfield. The offensive line is bolstered by 6-foot-6, 290-pound junior Qualeem Charles and 6-foot-3, 265-pound senior Nick Evans. At 6-foot-3, junior Nolan Jaeger will be a weapon at receiver along with senior Josh Therrien and sophomore tight end Michael Strachan.
Evans battled injuries at the start of last season, but he is one of the top defensive linemen in the league and is drawing Div. I college offers. Attleboro will be a tough team to run against this season with Evans on the end and Charles (who is also getting DI looks) and 6-foot-3, 365-pound senior Eddie Porreca on the inside. Strachan and junior Isaac Gudiel will be starting at inside linebacker, while senior Desmond Woodson will be starting on the outside. Therrien is capable of making plays downfield at his free safety position and will be the leader of the secondary.
“I am looking forward to the 2018 season,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have a strong senior class and we have strong leadership on our football team. Our team worked out hard in the off-season and I am looking forward to that hard work paying off this season.”
Third-year head coach Eian Bain is optimistic about the 2018 season, and the long list of players returning with plenty of experience is a big reason why. The Panthers have over a dozen players back that started or saw significant time on offense and the same goes for the defense, include a very seasoned secondary.
Franklin must replace three-year starter Jake Noviello at quarterback but Bain is confident that a healthy competition between senior Nick Gordon and junior Thomas Gasbarro will result in a strong option starting under center for the opening week. While Franklin has to replace its quarterback, they return a ton of skill players on offense including senior tight end Sean Leonard, who hauled in a league-best eight touchdown passes last season. Ryan Driscoll (five touchdowns), Jack Nally, Will Davis, and Jake Davis will fill out the receiving corps while Sean Hofferty and Owen Palmieri man the backfield. Seniors Riley Downing and Liam Arsenault are experienced and will anchor the offensive line.
Junior Evan Wertz will be a key piece in the middle of the Panthers’ defense after having a breakout campaign last year with nearly 100 tackles from his linebacker spot. Senior Spencer Briggs and sophomore Alex Honor will also see time at linebacker while Downing is joined by Jack Jarosz, Dom Natale, and Keenan Bassma on the defensive line. The Panthers boast a seasoned secondary with Nolan McLaney and Driscoll both back, along with Palmieri, Jake Davis, and both Gasbarro and Gordon.
“We have experience on both sides of the ball,” Bain said. “It is a cohesive group that has been working hard together for our first two years and they are eager to the turn the corner with our program.”
The target on King Philip’s back is bigger than ever as the Warriors pulled off a second straight undefeated season and another state championship.
So how will head coach Brian Lee get this year’s team to focus on 2018 and not the past two seasons?
“The work and preparation have been the same but now it’s up to this season class to leave their legacy,” Lee said. “The previous two classes had their moments, now it’s up to these seniors to make their own moment. This team will go as far as these seniors lead them.”
The seniors will have plenty of opportunities to make their mark because King Philip doesn’t have a returning starter on offense. The Warriors need to replace quarterback Brendan Lydon, who didn’t lose a game as a starter. Junior Robbie Jarest looks poised to take over under center this season. While it isn’t a lot of experience, Jarest took over in the second half of the state final after Lydon got hurt and helped the Warriors finish off Lincoln-Sudbury. The toughest shoes to fill will be those of Shane Frommer, who will go down as one of the best players in KP history.
Junior Ryan Halliday will be the feature back while Aidan Bender and Sam Callanan will be in the mix as well. Jack Webster and Jack Collentro will be keys to the offense from the fullback position. Senior Terrell Jacobs Bastons has some experience on both sides of the ball and will likely start at guard while classmate Josh Fice will fill in the other guard spot. Junior Nolan Gunning is likely to get a starting spot as well, either at center or tackle.
Defense has been a staple for the Warriors throughout their successful run over the last couple of years, and that’s what KP will count on again this season. The strength will come from the linebackers with Webster back in an outside spot and Max Armour returning in the middle. Jacobs Bastons will be a big presence in the middle of the defensive line while the secondary will have familiar faces back in Aidan Bender, Timmy Nault, and safety Luke D’Amico.
And as we saw in the state final, having a reliable kicker is priceless. Cole Baker, who booted the winning field goal in the final, is back for his third year. Not only will he be a big help on offense, his kickoffs will be a weapon for the defense.
Mansfield has finished second in the Kelley-Rex in each of the past three seasons and the Hornets will be counting on experience under center and depth at the skill positions to end King Philip’s two-year reign atop the division and return to the top of the league standings for the first time since 2013.
Senior Damani Scott will be the starter at quarterback for the second straight season and he will be backed up by the capable Jack Mousette, giving the Hornets plenty of experience and reliability from their signal caller. Scott will also have a ton of weapons to call on this year with a skill position group that head coach Mike Redding calls one of the best that Mansfield has had in a while. Khristian Conner and Aidan Sacco will be weapons in the passing game while junior Vinnie Holmes is back in the backfield. Juniors Makhi Baskin, Michael DeBolt (who was also an outstanding kicker last year), and Nick Marciano will provide depth in the slot/running back positions. Senior Daenin Walker and junior Jason Comeau will add experience to the offensive line.
Defensively, Holmes will return to the linebacking corps after setting a program record for tackles in a season as a sophomore. Seniors Chris Copponi and Philip Dinov also return and can play as linebackers or as defensive ends depending on matchups. The secondary will be strong for the Hornets this year with Conner and Sacco at the corners and Marciano and Baskin at the safety positions. The only new additions on the defense are Anthony Capece at noseguard and junior Joe Plath at linebacker.
Redding said, “We have an experienced, athletic, aggressive defense that should be tough to score on and we’re young on offense, but have a ton of depth and talent at skill positions. Just need to gain some experience up front with our new guys on OL and DL.”
The 2018 version of the Oliver Ames Tigers have already had to make an audible after star running back Anthony Berksza suffered a season-ending injury over summer. Berksza had a breakout year last season, rushing for over 1,100 yards and finished with 16 total touchdowns, 15 of those rushing.
With Berksza out, Oliver Ames will rely heavily on the rest of its returning starters to carry the load. Junior Cam Perron returns under center after taking over the starting job during the regular season last year. While Perron looks to find some of his options, he has an offensive line protecting him that has some experience but will be looking to form cohesiveness throughout the year. Dean Pacini, Shane Murphy, Billy Tat, Luke Thibeault, and Garrett Wood all return with experience playing on the line. One challenge will be finding someone to step up and be a leader of that group after the graduation of two-time all star Jack Mills.
Nathan Cabral takes over as the feature tailback and OA head coach Mike Holland is confident the junior can get the job done. Holland says Cabral runs hard and is a tough player. Perron will also have the likes of Shane Kilkelly, Jake Erlich, and Evan Craig to work with as targets.
The heart of the defense will be at the linebacker position. Both Pacini, Murphy, and Darnele Ryan return after starting there last year and Holland will count on both senior captains to lead the way for the Tigers. Sam Stevens is back in the secondary at the safety position but OA will need some new faces to emerge alongside him.
“We’re looking forward to the start of the season,” Holland said. “We have a great group across the board. We have some experienced players back and some talented players competing for jobs.”
Taunton started last season with a 3-0 record, one of the program’s best starts in years, but then lost five straight games, including a playoff game against BC High, the top seed in Div. 1 South. The Tigers turned it on again from that point, winning the final three games of the season, including an impressive win against Brockton, to finish with a winning record under second-year head coach Brad Sidwell.
Experience will be a key for the Tigers this season, as Taunton tries to build on that playoff appearance and the momentum from a strong closing stretch. Senior Noah Leonard will be the starting quarterback for the third straight year and is now fluent in Sidwell’s offensive system. Leonard will have familiar targets in senior wideouts Brayden Merrill, Tryton Zavala, and Wesner Charles, while junior Cam Carroca looks to step in as a feature running back and junior Javon Franklin is a new target in the passing game. On the line, Taunton returns plenty of size in 6-foot-3, 337-pound tackle Christian Tourinho and his fellow senior Cam Correiro. Senior Ryan Williams will be the center, while junior Mason Frank, listed at 6-foot-2 and 274 pounds, will be back to battle at the line of scrimmage.
Size and athleticism will be strengths for Taunton on the defensive side of the ball as well. Tourinho, Correiro, and Frank can bottle up opposing running games and will be joined on the line by seniors Corey Pintabone and John Rockwood. Williams will lead the linebacking corps along with classmates Max Moitoso and Kyle Cuoto. Senior Prince Brown will be back at corner and senior Sebastien Celestin looks to step into the safety position.
“Taunton football is progressing forward,” said Sidwell. “Like all teams, we’d like to gain some confidence early in the season and carry it on. The Kelley-Rex division is challenging with great programs, coaching staffs, and communities. We are happy to be a part of it and want to represent Taunton High well by competing at the high standard set by the other league members.”