Sharon Comeback Spoils Canton Title Hopes

Matt Cancian
Matt Cancian (27) rushed for a pair of second half touchdowns and had one of Sharon’s four interceptions in a 30-14 victory on Saturday. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

SHARON, Mass. – Coming into Saturday afternoon’s regular season finale, the conversation between fans from Canton and Sharon centered on seedings, rankings, and coefficients. The uncertainty of the playoff system loomed over the proceedings, even overwhelming the fact that a win would give the Bulldogs their first league title since 1990.

Canton stormed out of the gates and led by two scores in the first half, but the Eagles were intent on spoiling the moment and rattled off 30 straight points, while intercepting four passes and allowing only one Bulldogs first down in the second half of a 30-14 victory.

Sharon coach Dave Morse insisted it was the best half of football that his team had played all season and he believed that it was enough to get the Eagles into the tournament.

“That’s about it man,” he said. “You come out and shut out a team that’s feeling it, they’re rolling, it was an unbelievable half of football for us. When you come out and prepare correctly, we can execute correctly.”

Canton knew that it needed a win to share the Davenport crown with Foxboro, which had won on Friday night, and the Bulldogs were fired up at the start.

An interception by Jude Alpert near the end of the first quarter gave Canton possession at the Sharon 37. Eight plays later, Jake Ragusa (15 carries, 83 yards) punched it in from five yards out and Thomas Monagle added the kick to make it 7-0.

On Sharon’s next possession, the Bulldogs forced a three and out. Woanyen Mahn burst through the line and blocked the punt, which was recovered by Kymauny Roland and returned to the Sharon 32. Two plays later, Dennis Ross (3-11, 71 yards) looked for Michael Harris at the front corner of the end zone. Harris out-jumped two defenders to haul in the pass and make it 14-0.

“I thought there was blood in the water for us at 14-0,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “We knew they were good so 21-0, if we could get it would be the type of thing that you can make a good team question themselves, but we didn’t and they came back.”

Sharon needed a response and got it on its next drive. Juvan Elisma had two carries to get it to midfield followed by a Rob Bayha pass to Joey Dowler down to the Canton 33. Elisma (15 carries, 81 yards) did the rest, bursting through the line and sprinting to the far sideline for a 33-yard touchdown that cut the lead in half and gave the Eagles momentum heading into the break.

“It’s almost like in hockey when you go down 3-0 you’re screwed but you go down 2-1 then you’re okay,” explained Morse. “In OA we went down and came back, against Sandwich we went down and came back…mentally we are pretty tough and our guys keep fighting.”

Canton got the ball first and was forced to punt. On its possession, Sharon moved the ball to the Bulldogs 10, with the help of a horse collar and a late hit penalty, but was forced to settle for a 27-yard Josh Rotman field goal that made it 14-10.

Sensing that the Eagles had the upper hand, Morse called for an onside kick. The Eagles were quickest to the loose ball and recovered at their own 47. Canton’s defense held and forced a punt, but the energy was clearly on the home sideline in the third quarter.

Sharon stopped Ragusa for two short gains and then Bryce Smith intercepted Ross’ pass to give the Eagles ball at the Canton 11. Three plays later and Matt Cancian pushed it across from seven yards out to give Sharon its first lead at 17-14.

After another Canton punt, Bayha (7-17, 112) hit Tyler Smith for a 26-yard completion and the Eagles offense was in business again. Following a pass interference call against Canton, Cancian got the corner and went 15 yards for his second touchdown of the half.

“I thought we made the right adjustments at halftime,” said Bohane, “but just never got field position. I thought there were a couple times in the game that we looked a little bit slow but we can attribute that to they had some quick kids.”

With five minutes remaining in the game, Bryce Smith picked off Ross for the second time in the game and would have returned it for a score only to be denied by an illegal block call. Cancian nearly had his third touchdown only to have the ball pop out at the one, which Canton recovered for a touchback.

Rather than be dismayed by the turnover, the Sharon senior captain immediately got the ball back for his team when he picked off Ross’ pass on Canton’s first play. Bayha made sure that the turnover counted when he found Bryce Smith down the sideline for a 30-yard touchdown with just 2:40 on the clock.

“We’re more comfortable moving the ball on the ground,” admitted Bohane. “We thought that we had some mismatches in there and the kids played well for Sharon and it is hard when you’re not getting those plus yards on first down, second down.”

Morse said, “The secondary was exceptional. Four picks is four picks; that’s tough to do.”

He added, “We did on any individual player even though [Ragusa] is great. Scheme-wise we put something together that we liked and our guys executed.”

Not to be outdone by his brother, Tyler Smith picked off the final pass to seal the Eagles victory and give Sharon a chance to look ahead to a possible playoff opponent.

Morse said, “I’m pumped up. We won against a good team to put us in. It’s a great win; it’s a great feeling. I bet our kids will have a real pep in their step this week at practice.”

Bohane was left deflated, as the Bulldogs were left without the league title and possibly left out of the playoffs on the final day for the second straight season.

When asked if he though that the postseason was still a possibility, Bohane responded, “I hope so. We’d love to get in the playoffs and represent the Hockomock League.”

Playoff brackets will be released by the MIAA on Sunday.

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

Defense Sparks Sharon in Win Over Sandwich

Juvan Elisma
Juvan Elisma (20) ran for a pair of touchdowns to lead Sharon to a 20-14 victory over Sandwich. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Click HERE for photo gallery from the game.
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
SHARON, Mass. – Sharon’s offense moved the ball each of their first three drives but a turnover on downs and a pair of turnovers halted the momentum each team.
But the Eagles’ defense stood tall and got that momentum back. Sandwich got the ball back via an interception shortly after taking a 7-0 lead Facing a 4th and 1 situation, the Blue Knights elected to go for it but quarterback Tyler Cairns lost the ball in the push forward and Sharon senior Joey Dowler scooped up the loose ball and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.
Sharon was in control from there on out and pick up its first win of the season, 20-14, over Sandwich.
Sandwich took the lead on its third drive of the game after taking over at Sharon’s 11 yard following their first interception of the game. The Blue Knights used two plays to punch it in to go up 7-0 less than two minutes into the second quarter.
Dowler’s fumble return tied the game and kept spirits high for the Eagles. Sharon allowed only 17 yards on Sandwich’s ensuing drive and forced a punt. The offense wasted little time to move up the field as Juvan Elisma took the first play 44 yards up the right sideline and then quarterback Rob Bayha hit Bryce Smith for a 23 yard completion. Back to back hand offs to Elisma result in the Eagles’ first lead of the game as he punched it in from six yards out to make it 14-7.
Sandwich’s offense came back out shortly before the halftime break looking to try and level things but Sharon’s defense was stout and the Eagles took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
“They scored seven points when they had a pick and put them in the short field so I don’t put that one on the defense,” Sharon head coach Dave Morse said. “So we really didn’t give up a defensively touchdown until the second half late on a botch play by us. I was very confident in our defense. They knew their assignments and they were executing very well so I was very happy with them.”
Click HERE for photo gallery from the game.
Sharon started the second half with the ball and used 10 plays to go 65 yards to extend their lead, helped along by a couple of Sandwich penalties. After gaining just four yards on the first three downs, Sharon punted but punter Craig Titus was practically tackled after his kick and the Blue Knights were flagged for roughing the punter. A 15-yard completion from Bayha to Bryce Smith helped move the ball up field. Facing 4th and 8 at the Sandwich 29, the Eagles were able to use a hard count to draw the Blue Knights offside. On 4th and 3, Bayha hooked up with Titus for a 5 yard completion and a first down.
Elisma then took the next two plays, the first for 14 yards and the second for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 20-14.
“[Juvan] did a good job, he always seems to be falling forward,” Morse said. “He apologized for the late fumble but that’s an inexperienced kid and that stuff is going to get eliminated. All the good things he did, he’ll just keep improving on.”
Sandwich’s offense couldn’t get anything going on their ensuing drive while Sharon tried to chew up some clock on their next drive but had to punt it back to the Blue Knights. Both teams traded punts one more time as clock continued to tick away in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Knights once again fumbled away possession and it was Sharon’s Tyler Smith that pounced on the loose ball. Sharon was able to get a first down but then had to punt three plays later.
Facing a 3rd and six just over halfway through the final quarter, Sandwich was able to pull within a touchdown. A broken play allowed Cairns to evade a pair of Sharon defenders and then launch a pass to Jake Carter. Carter found himself open after the Eagles’ defender tripped up and he went all the way for a 66 yard touchdown.
Sandwich tried an onside kick with 5:33 left but Sharon’s Mitchell Liberman fell onto the ball after it was kicked directly at him.
Sharon moved all the way into the red zone and on 4th and 2 tried to convert but Elisma had the ball knocked out as he tried to push for the first down. The Blue Knights were able to into Sharon’s half to the 41 but constant pressure from the Eagles front line forced Cairns into numerous situations where he either was sacked or had to throw it away (twice flagged for intentional grounding). Bryce Smith had a big pass break up while Peter Banks had a sack on the second to last play.
“We showed up physically up front on both sides of the ball and that was a big difference,” Morse said about the difference from last week to this week. “We had a couple of lapses but we’re going to improve on those. But football is pretty simple, it doesn’t matter how many receivers you have on the field, if you can’t win up front you’re not going to win.”
Sharon (1-1) will open its Davenport Division schedule on Friday night when they take a trip to Ahern Middle School to take on Foxboro (2-0).
Click HERE for photo gallery from the game.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Football: 2015 Davenport Division Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Canton

2014 Record: 6-5
2014 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Bohane
Key/Returning Players: Jake Ragusa, Sr., HB/LB; Mac Brown, Sr., OL/DL; Joe Bires, Sr., FB/LB; Nick MacGregor, Sr., OL/DL; Kenny Dulcio, Sr., OL/DL; Michael Harris, Sr., SE/DB; Woanyen Mahn, Sr., HB/DB; Mike McMahon, Sr., HB/FS; Dennis Ross, Jr., QB/LB.
Outlook: The Bulldogs graduated a handful of big names this past Spring but Canton has a lot of talent coming back in key positions. Anchored by a handful of returning starters, including some who will start for the third straight year, Canton could be a tough opponent every single week.
Offensively, junior Dennis Ross will take over under center after Brian Hagan graduated. There are some similarities between Ross and Hagan (21 total TDs in 2014) so the transition will be a bit easier than others experience. Ross has some speed with his legs and has good throwing strength. One target Ross will look for is Michael Harris, who is a big threat option and will get a lot of looks this season. The offensive line is strong and there is a good amount of experience.
On defense, head coach Dave Bohane has a solid amount of experienced talent that will be key this season. Senior Jake Ragusa is back and has been one of the Bulldogs leading tacklers in both his sophomore and junior years. Joe Bires’ athleticism is key but his football IQ is something that will help the Bulldogs. Nick MacGregor will be an anchor on the defensive line while Bohane had high praise for Mike McMahon, who will be the defensive quarterback from his safety position.

Foxboro

2014 Record: 7-4
2014 Finish: Reached D4 South Semifinal
Coach: Jack Martinelli
Key/Returning Players: Ronnie Martin, Sr., RB/LB; Connor Downs, Sr., RB/LB; Trevor Fishman, Sr., OT/DE; James Blake, Jr., OT/DE; Austin Ryan, Sr., WR/CB; Connor McNamara, Sr., WR/CB; Pat McCarthy, Sr., P/WR/SS.
Outlook: While the spotlight is on Stoughton as the favorite of the Davenport, Foxboro has a strong core of players and should be right in the thick of things. There are some big shoes to fill left by the Class of 2015 but to no one’s surprise, Jack Martinelli looks to have his team primed for another playoff push.
Junior Mark Clagg looks to be the one that will gets the reps at quarterback this season. Clagg already has a career touchdown pass under his belt when he tossed one against Walpole last year. Despite minimal varsity experience, Clagg will have a good amount of weapons to work with. Hockomock League All Star Ronnie Martin is back and should get the majority of the carries this year. Austin Ryan had a great summer in passing league and could carry that momentum into the season. With a couple of key pieces back on the line, Foxboro’s offense could be among the best in the league.
Defensively, there will be some holes that the Warriors need to plug. Connor Downs will be one of the top linebackers this season while Pat McCarthy, Austin Ryan and Connor McNamara will all see time in the secondary. The key could be getting a push up front for the Warriors.

Milford

2014 Record: 7-4
2014 Finish: Reached D3 Southwest Semifinal
Coach: Joe Todd
Key/Returning Players: Jack Desantis, Sr., RB/DB; Leo Moronta, Sr., TE/DE; Ryan Nesta, Sr., WR/LB; Zach Lanzetta, Sr., QB; John Niro, Sr., OL/DL; Blake Hill, Jr., WR/RB/LB; Ryan Gray, Jr., OL/DL; Asong Aminmentse, Jr., RB/DB; Riley Burns, Jr., OL/DL; Harrison Bliss, Jr., OL/LB; Tony Mobilia, Jr., WR.
Outlook: Milford was one of the biggest surprises in all of Division 3 last year with the run they made. With the talent they had, it’s no surprise. Although the Scarlet Hawks graduated a good amount of contributors from 2014, expect Milford to give opponents a tough time all season.
One big positive for Joe Todd and Milford will be having Zach Lanzetta under center. Now a senior, Lanzetta has been getting some reps since his sophomore year. After sharing QB duties over the past two years, it looks like Lanzetta will be full time this year. Jack Desantis will get a good amount of carries out of the backfield while Blake Hill, Leo Moronta and Tony Mobilia are all receiving threats that have experience.
There is a good amount of experience returning on defense for the Scarlet Hawks. Desantis and Aminmentse will patrol the secondary, while Ryan Nesta, Harrison Bliss and Blake Hill will form one of the more formidable linebacking corps in the Davenport. On the line, Ryan Gray and Riley Burns are two players with experience. Expect Milford to sneak up on some teams this season.

Oliver Ames

2014 Record: 3-8
2014 Finish: Reached D3 Southwest Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Holland
Key/Returning Players: Connor Moroney, Sr., FB/LB; Andrew Callachan, Sr., RB/LB; Shawn Cardoza, Sr., TE/DE; Chris Hanegan, Sr., LB; Charlie Ryan, Sr., QB; Pat Mills, Sr., OL/DL; Kevin Geary, Sr., OL/DL.
Outlook: There is a lot that changes with a new coach but the Tigers have more than just a new face to deal with. With graduation and a couple of transfers, Oliver Ames has a lot gaps to fill this season. Luckily, new coach Mike Holland has been in the program for years which makes the transition smoother.
Charlie Ryan is back for his second year under center and his first full season as starter. Ryan tossed for nine touchdowns last season, which is second among quarterbacks returning this year. The biggest question will be finding new targets to catch those passes. Andrew Callachan has moved into the backfield this season and should get a good amount of carries. Connor Moroney will be an option on offense as will Shawn Cardoza but the Tigers will need some other faces to step up on offense.
On defense, Moroney could be one of the biggest surprises at linebacker while Shawn Cardoza could be one of the best lineman on defense this season. Kevin Geary has seen varsity time and could be poised for a breakout senior season. After giving up over 23 points on average last season, the Tigers will look to get back to 2013 form, where they gave up less than 10 points a game.

Sharon

2014 Record: 2-9
2014 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Morse
Key/Returning Players: Nate Hirsh, Jr., OT; Joey Dowler, Sr., TE; Josh Rotman, Jr., WR/CB; Kenny Marrero, Sr., OG; Bryce Smith, Sr., WR/CB; Tyler Smith, Sr., RB/WR/CB; Matt Cancian, Sr., RB/LB; Carlos Grullon, Sr., RB; Juvan Elisma, Jr., RB; Xavier Hackett, Jr., Safety; Keson John, Sr., WR; Ian Longol-Leonard, Jr., OT/DT; Peter Banks, Jr., OC.
Outlook: The Eagles were forced to change things up last season and although the offense struggled for consistency at time, the defense was a big bright spot. Sharon was one of the top defenses in the league last year with just a hair over 20 PPG allowed.
The good news for Sharon this year is the amount of players they have back at the skill positions. When the quarterback is settled on, expect players like Matt Cancian, Carlos Grullon, Juvan Elisma and Tyler Smith to all get looks coming out of the backfield. With Josh Rotman and Bryce Smith — two players that saw a lot of varsity time last season — back in the fold, Sharon will have plenty of options on offense. The key will be establishing a consistent offensive line.
Defensively, the Eagles will have a strong secondary and linebackers. With both Tyler and Bryce Smith, Josh Rotman and Xavier Hackett back, the secondary has plenty of experience. Kevin Jones also has a good amount of varsity experience and will be paired with Matt Cancian at linebacker. John Dentino and Ian Langol-Leonard will be two players counted on to bolster up the Eagles defensive line. With the talent that Sharon has back, a playoff appearance might be in the picture.

Stoughton

2014 Record: 9-2
2014 Finish: Reached D3 Southwest Semifinal
Coach: Greg Burke
Key/Returning Players: Jake Gibb, Sr., QB; Guy Eddy, Sr., RB/LB; Jordan Taylor, Sr., RB; Ryan Sullivan, Jr., RB/DB; Xzavian Marrero, Sr., RB/DB; Izon Swain-Price, Jr., SE/DB; Nick Hardy, Jr., RB/DB; Steven Elice, Sr., SE/DB; Jack Connolly, Jr., TE; Matt Medina, Sr., OL/DL; Matt Soto, Sr., OL/DL; Antoyne Sellman, Sr., DB; Donny Foley, Sr., LB; Devlin Carroll, Sr., LB.
Outlook: If you want to know what the Stoughton football team values, look no further than the roster they hand out at games. The Black Knights are the lone team to put defense positions first. It may be reading into it a little bit, but Stoughton has been become one of the defensive power houses in the entire state.
Obviously last year was a great year for Stoughton but expect the Black Knights to reload for 2015. With their athleticism, speed and strength, there is a lot of reasons to expect another hard-nosed defense. Linebackers Guy Eddy, Donnie Foley and Devlin Carroll are all experienced players with speed and leadership qualities. IN the secondary, Ryan Sullivan, Steven Elice, Antoyne Selman and Izon Swain-Price are all individuals capable of making a big play. Stoughton will be looking to get a push on the line similar to what they had last year.
Similar to the defense, Stoughton’s offense will first need to establish a solid offensive line. With Greg Burke in charge of developing the line, expect Stoughton to produce another strong one. That will be key as the Black Knights will have Jake Gibb back for his third year at quarterback and could be one of the top players in the league. Ryan Sullivan and Xzavian Marrero will be dangerous coming out of the backfield while Christian Hill, Nick Hardy, Guy Eddy and Jordan Taylor could see time carrying the ball. Steven Elice and Jack Connolly could emerge as go-to guys for Gibbs this year.