Hockomock Football: Players to Watch on Defense

Hockomock Football Players to Watch on Defense
Canton’s Jude Albert is one of the top linebackers returning this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Players are listed in alphabetical order.

Hockomock Football Players to Watch on Defense

Jude Albert, Senior – Canton

The Bulldogs will have a young squad this year, but one spot they have some experience is at linebacker, with senior Jude Albert leading the way. Starting at outside linebacker last season, Albert was a big time playmaker for Canton. Whether it was using his speed to get around the edge or through the gap up the middle to pressure the quarterback or stuff a runner, or it was reading the play and dropping back in coverage to matchup with a back, Albert is able to do it. Often times, it will take more than one blocker to take Albert out of the play and he showed last year that he won’t give up on a play either. If the defense fails to put someone in the way, opposing quarterbacks need to be on the lookout for Albert coming their way.

Mario Bresko, Senior – North Attleboro

Standing at 6’4, its no surprise that Mario Bresko will be one of the top receiving options in the league this year, especially with Chad Peterson at quarterback. But Bresko will also be one of the top corner backs in the league as well. After starting last season and playing in some high pressure games, Bresko will bring experience to a secondary that might have some new faces this season. The speed that he shows on the offensive side of the ball is also a reason he can cover opponents defensively. And when it comes to a jump ball, you’re going to want to pick Bresko, who stars for Big Red’s track and field team in the high jump, placing first in the event at Hock Championships in both winter and spring.

Joe Cox, Senior – Mansfield

Mansfield has plenty of experience returning in its front seven and that group will be led by Cox, a tenacious linebacker who should be involved in plenty of action for the Hornets defense this fall. Cox is coming off an all-star season on the lacrosse field and his speed and ability to read the game translates to football as well, where he can make plays from his outside position against both the ground game and in the pass rush. His quickness also allows him to drop into coverage when needed to cover tight ends or running backs downfield. The Hornets have high expectations for this season and Cox’s leadership on defense will be a big key to achieving their goals.

Zach DeMattio, Senior – North Attleboro

North Attleboro graduated a handful of all-league players on the defensive side of the ball from last season, but one of the key returning pieces is senior Zach DeMattio at the inside linebacker spot. While DeMattio will also see time on the offensive side of the ball in the backfield, he will be one of the anchors for the front seven on defense. Strength is certainly not a question for DeMattio, who is committed to play baseball at Wheaton College and is one of the top power hitters in the league. On top of his strength, he’s shown the ability to read the play and attack. His ability to make the tackle in one-on-one situations makes him one of the best linebackers in the Hock.

Andrew Dittrich, Senior – King Philip

On a team blessed with depth and talent on the defensive side of the ball, Dittrich stood out for last year’s Div. 1A Super Bowl and Kelley-Rex champions. A ball-hawking defensive back, he seemed to always come through in the clutch for the Warriors. Three times – twice in the playoffs – he sealed a KP victory with an interception, including the D1A South sectional final. While the Warriors are known as a team that can bottle up a running game, Dittrich also gave them a playmaker in the secondary. In addition to his coverage skills, he can also help out in the running game and rush the passer from the edge.

Ryan Driscoll, Junior – Franklin

Driscoll stepped into the lineup as a sophomore and started all 11 games at cornerback for the Panthers in 2016. He demonstrated the natural speed and instincts to be a top cover corner and second-year head coach Eian Bain said this his improvement from day one means that Driscoll will be one of the focal points of the Franklin defense this fall. With Driscoll and junior safety Nolan McLaney, the Panthers secondary should be a strength of the team for the next couple of seasons, as they try to shut down high-powered passing attacks like Mansfield, Taunton, and Attleboro.

Nick Evans, Junior – Attleboro

Consistency was an issue at times for the Bombardiers defense last season, but they also showed flashes of versatility and talent. One of the players that emerged as a force for Attleboro was Evans, who played linebacker as a sophomore and was a constant presence around the ball. This year, he is listed as a defensive end, where he can use his speed to get around the edge on the pass rush, but he is also big enough to set the edge on running plays that head his way. There is a lot of optimism about Attleboro this preseason and Evans is a player who opponents will have to plan for in order to have success against a deep Bombardiers squad.

Justin Ly, Senior – Stoughton

When it comes to the top two-way players in the league, Stoughton senior Justin Ly has to be near the top of the list. He showed off his speed and power running game last year and will certainly be one of the top backs again this season. But more importantly, Ly will relied upon to anchor Stoughton’s front seven after the Black Knights graduated so many starters. The combination of speed and strength that makes him a successful back are also the reasons he’s one of the top linebackers. Whether it’s in pass coverage, or in pursuit of a quarterback or running back, Ly shows great instincts to make the right play.

Jack Mills, Senior – Oliver Ames

Mills is entering his third fall as a starter for the Tigers and has been an anchor for both the offensive and defensive lines. Last season, he was named a league all-star for OA and was named a HockomockSports.com Hock 5 Defensive Lineman. He made 30 tackles and used his imposing size and quickness off the ball to disrupt the opposition. Even when he did not make the play himself, Mills regularly draws double teams and holds up blocker to open lanes for teammates. It has been a difficult stretch for OA over the past two years, but Mills has earned his place as one of the top linemen in the league.

Matt Pond, Senior – Foxboro

Anytime you have a player that lines up at both linebacker and fullback you know one thing is for sure: they like to hit. Matt Pond will see time at both positions this year but his main role will be as Foxboro’s starting inside linebacker. And because of his combination of football IQ and speed, expect Pond to be among the leaders of tackles in each game. The Warriors didn’t have a ton of experience on defense a year ago, but Pond stepped up to be a leader. Not only is Pond strong in the pass game, but when a blitz is called, he’s one of most dangerous linebackers in league because of his speed and ability to tackle in the open field.

Football: 2017 Davenport Division Preview

2017 Davenport Football Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Davenport Football Preview

Canton

2016 Record: 3-8
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Bohane

Key/Returning Players: Brendan Albert, Jr., LB; Alec Ragusa, Sr., FB/LB; Jude Albert, Sr., OL/LB; Kearvens Theodore, Sr., OL/DL; Chris Benjamin, Sr., OL/DL; Tony Harris, Sr., SE/DB; Johnny Hagan, Soph., QB; Kyle Fitzgerald, Soph., FS; Ben Seaman, Jr., LB; Gersom Rivera, Soph., RB; Jack Connolly, Soph., OL/DL; Christian Walker, Sr., TE;

Outlook: The Bulldogs have a solid handful of experienced players back this season and will be looking to mix in a good amount of youth during the 2017 season.

While Canton will have plenty of seniors on the field, head coach Dave Bohane expects a good mix of juniors and even sophomores to get plenty of playing time. The youth starts under center as sophomore Johnny Hagan takes over as the team’s starting quarterback. He’ll have two big targets to work with in Tony Harris and Christian Walker as well as a versatile backfield that features Alec Ragusa and Gersom Rivera.

On the defensive side of the ball, a group of experienced linebackers, including Ragusa, Jude Albert, Brendan Albert and Ben Seamen will anchor the Bulldogs. Kearvens Theodore will be a big piece on the defensive line, alongside Chris Benjamin and Jack Connolly. Sophomore Kyle Fitzgerald will take on the responsibility of being a starting safety but will have plenty of experience in the secondary with seniors Cordell Smith and Marquise Montes manning the corners.

“Getting off to a good start is always important, and equally important is those later weeks,” Bohane said. “We have to keep bodies fresh and keep ourselves in a position to make playoffs. It’s a tough league, everyone we play will be a really good football team. We’re young but athletic and competitive, and I think that will make a difference.”

Foxboro

2016 Record: 5-6
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jack Martinelli

Key/Returning Players: Teddy Maher, Sr., SS/WR; Phil Dure, Sr., CB/WR; Louis Piccolo, Sr., FS; Devin Hassett, Sr., QB/SE/FS; Jake Addeche, Sr., WR/CB; Patrick Kaveny, Sr., DE; Mike Henri, Sr., RB/SS; Matt Pond, Sr., LB; Mike Luong, Jr., RB; Matt Suess, Sr., OL/DL; Anthony Capachietti, Sr., RB; Hunter Williams, Jr., OL; Andrew Longa, Jr., OL; Kade Treannie, Sr., OL.

Outlook: Foxboro is looking to ride the strength of a deep senior class to get back to the playoffs after missing out a season ago and also get back into the Davenport division title hunt after winning it two years ago.

The Warriors boast 35 seniors and have a handful of experienced juniors that are back after winning five games last season. Under center, senior Devin Hassett and junior Liam Foley are both in the running to take snaps. Hassett is also an option to catch the ball, giving the Warriors some flexibility on the offensive end. A strength that Foxboro will rely on on the offensive side of the ball is their playmaking ability at the skill positions. The Warriors boast multiple capable ball carriers (Mike Henri, Mike Luong, Anthony Capachietti) and pass catchers (Teddy Maher, Phil Dure, Jake Addeche) that can make things happen. Seniors Matt Suess and Kade Treannie and juniors Hunter Williams and Andrew Longa will see time on the offensive line.

Defensively, Foxboro will be looking to improve after giving up just over 29 points per game against division opponents a year ago. The Warriors will be relying on quickness and an aggressive demeanor to make plays on the defense end. Louis Piccolo, Maher, Hassett, Addeche and Henri are all likely candidates to see time in the secondary while Pat Kaveny (defensive end) and Matt Pond (linebacker) will lead the front seven.

“Chemistry amongst 35 seniors and a return to ‘old school Foxboro football’ will personify the 2017 season,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli.

Milford

2016 Record: 6-5
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Anthony Vizakis

Key/Returning Players: Ryan O’Toole, Sr., RB; Matt Curran, Sr., QB; Patrick Brogioli, Sr., OL/DL; Tyler Joyce, Sr., TE/DE; Cullen Burns, Sr., OL/DL; Kayden Kelley, Sr., WR/CB; Will Pointer, Sr., RB/LB; Shapel Feaster, Jr., RB/CB; Matt Annantuonio, Sr., RB/CB; David Abbatinozzi, Sr., OL/DL; Brendan White, Jr., TE/S; Josh Ligor, Jr., OL/DL; Chris Rivera, Sr., RB/LB; Jacob Eosco, Sr., OL/DL.

Outlook: First year head coach Anthony Vizakis is looking to the past as he begins his first season with the Scarlet Hawks. Vizakis is hoping the 2017 Hawks will pull from the tradition of the program as they look to get back to the playoffs once again this year.

It will certainly be a challenge as Milford graduated some of the most talented players in the league, from all different parts of the field. One constant is that the Hawks return quarterback Matt Curran for his senior year. Another familiarity for Curran will be running back Ryan O’Toole, who saw a lot of time last year alongside Blake Hill in the backfield. Receiver Kayden Kelley and tight end Tyler Joyce are also back after getting plenty of reps on the offensive end as well. Seniors Patrick Brogioli and Cullen Burns are two returning starters from the Hawks’ offensive line.

Defensively, the Scarlet Hawks will be looking to continue what they did in 2016, allowing just a shade over 17 points per game. While it was impressive that Milford allowed just 28 points total against Sharon, Canton and Foxboro, the Hawks will need to make a leap to try and halt the offensive firepower of North Attleboro and Stoughton. It will start up front with a tough line and then an athletic group of linebackers. Will Pointer and Chris Rivera will be two of those linebackers while Shapel Feaster and Matt Annantuonio will join Brendan White as members of the secondary.

“Milford football prides itself on the tradition of having ​​physically, and mentally tough football players,” Vizakis said. “That tradition is alive and well, and the energy and intensity coming out of our locker room and onto the practice field thus far has been infectious.”

North Attleboro

2016 Record: 9-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Final
Coach: Don Johnson

Key/Returning Players: Chad Peterson, Sr., QB/P; Zach DeMattio, Sr., RB/LB; Sam Bullock, Sr. OL/DL; Brad White, Sr. OL/DL; Mario Bresko, Sr., SE/DB; Ryan Clemente, Jr., OL/DL.

Outlook: With two straight league titles under its belt, North Attleboro isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon. With record-breaking quarterback Chad Peterson back under center for his senior season, the Rocketeers look to be the early favorite for another Davenport title.

After two straight impressive season, Peterson will look to lead this year’s Rocketeers to their second straight Davenport title and another deep run in the playoffs. While playmakers Bobby Mylod and Nick Rajotte are gone, Peterson will have running backs Zach DeMattio and Adam Eberle to work with and receivers Mario Bresko, Omar Jasseh and Ryan Gaumond when he drops back to throw. Junior Ryan Clemente already has a year’s experience under his belt and could be one of the most dominant lineman in the league this season. Sam Bullock, Brad White, John Bradley, Geoff Wilson, Jack Puccio, Aidan Harding and Joe Larkin will all be options alongside Clemente on the offensive line.

One of the biggest reasons for North’s success a year ago was its very impressive defense, which allowed just under 12 points per game (Hockomock League best). Big Red will have to replace some big names and might have to overcome some inexperience early on, but head coach Don Johnson notes there is good competition among the front seven and secondary. Bresko is one player that has experience in the secondary while DeMattio (linebacker) and Bullock (defensive tackle) will anchor the front seven.

“The team has worked hard in the offseason,” Johnson said. “We are confident that our strong scrimmage schedule (Marshfield, Braintree and Bridgewater-Raynham), and a Week 1 non-league game versus defending D2 Super Bowl champion King Philip, will help us prepare for the ultra-competitive Hockomock League schedule.”

Sharon

2016 Record: 6-5
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Morse

Key/Returning Players: Austin Dodes, Sr., WR/DB; Drew Naisuler, Sr., TE/DE; Coleman Loftus, Jr., OL/DL; Chris Gong, Jr., WR/DB; Sam Spencer, Jr., TE/LB; Aaron Strong, Jr., RB/LB; Jeremy Ruskin, Jr., QB.

Outlook: The 2017 version of the Sharon Eagles might be on the young side, but head coach Dave Morse is hoping that youth injects some energy into his squad.

The Eagles started and finished the 2016 season strongly, going 3-0 to begin and then closing with a win over Hopkinton and then a Thanksgiving Day win over rival Oliver Ames to finish over .500. Now, the Eagles will be trying to repeat that success while improving their league record. Junior Jeremy Ruskin is back under center after taking over late in the season last fall and will have senior Austin Dodes and tight end Drew Naisuler available as pass catching options. Junior Aaron Strong saw some carries last year and will likely be a feature back this season.

Defensively, the Eagles were one of the stingiest units in the entire league (just over 18 PPG). The Eagles held six of their 11 opponents under 14 points per game. Junior Coleman Loftus is a returning starter and a two-way lineman for the Eagles while junior linebacker Sam Spencer will look to make an impact this season. Chris Gong joins Dodes and Strong in the secondary while Naisuler will be a part of the Eagles’ front seven.

“It has been a pleasure coaching this group and seeing them make progress,” Morse said. “Despite being the youngest team I have coached, their commitment is refreshing and they motivate me to help them succeed.”

Stoughton

2016 Record: 8-3
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal
Coach: Greg Burke

Key/Returning Players: Evan Gibb, Jr., QB; Jason Joseph, Sr., DE/TE; Justin Ly, Sr., FB/LB; Colin Sanda, Sr., WR/DB; Ruben Gonzalez, Sr., WR/RB/DB; Alex Sjoquist, Sr., RB/DB; Paul Feeney, Sr., OL/DL; Anthony Burke, Sr., OL/DL.

Outlook: The Black Knights have had a strong stretch of success over the past couple of seasons and will try to continue that in 2017, despite graduating a very memorable senior class last season.

Gone are playmakers Ryan Sullivan and Izon Swain-Price, as well as linemen Lino Azul and Andrew Iverson and a handful of terrific role players. But, one key returning piece is junior quarterback Evan Gibb. Gibb took over early on during his sophomore season and looked very comfortable in his role. Now he will have to be a leader of the offensive unit. Justin Ly was the third member of Stoughton’s three-headed rushing attack a year ago and will likely be one of the team’s feature backs. Ly is a tough runner that can get yards up the middle but also has speed to get to the outside. Alex Sjoquist will likely also get carries while experienced receivers Colin Sanda and Ruben Gonzalez should see increased roles in 2017.

The Knights are well known for their defense during the successful stretch. While there will be a lot of new faces in new places, the Knights are relying on improved speed to go along with their strength. Jason Joseph is back after a solid junior campaign to lead the defensive line along with Paul Feeney, while Ly is joined by Anthony Burke as linebackers. Sanda, Gonzalez and Sjoquist will all see time in the secondary for Stoughton.

“We’re replacing so many kids from last year,” Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. “We hope to be ready without a lot of experience. We hope to compete and be healthy.”

Big Plays Lead to Big Win for Stoughton at Canton

Stoughton football
Ryan Sullivan (20) scored a pair of touchdowns, including an 86-yard punt return that broke a first quarter tie, in Stoughton’s win at Canton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


CANTON, Mass. – Stoughton coach Greg Burke said that his team liked to play “ugly and tough,” but on Friday night at World War II Veterans Memorial Field, against rival Canton, the Black Knights showed flashes of pretty football too, scoring 42 points and totaling four touchdowns of more than 60 yards apiece.

Canton scored a couple of touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, but Stoughton rolled to a 42-22 victory that keeps it just a half-game back of North Attleboro in the Davenport division title race with two more league games to play (North plays Saturday at Sharon).

“That’s Black Knight football right there,” said Burke after the game. “It isn’t pretty, but I like it. I don’t care, I like the way we’re playing. That’s how we play. Our team wants to be ugly and tough.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The opening kick-off bounced a couple times before the Black Knights covered it at their own 13-yard-line, but it took only one play to get on the board. An inside trap to fullback Justin Ly broke for 87 yards down the Stoughton sideline to make it 7-0. Canton answered back on one play of its own. Tony Harris took an end around and raced 65 yards down the Bulldogs sideline to tie the game.

Two plays from scrimmage, two touchdowns, and only 44 seconds had elapsed.

Canton was forced to punt on its second possession and Thomas Monagle drove Ryan Sullivan all the way back to his own 14, but the senior running back made the catch and then broke up field, splitting the coverage and putting Stoughton back on top with an 86-yard return.

“Personnel-wise we’re not very deep,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane about the punt coverage, “and we try to get guys off the field but even with guys like [Brian] Smith and Jude Albert we’ve had trouble the last two weeks on punt return. We’ll continue to work at it but it’s disappointing and disturbing to see two weeks in a row.”

Burke praised Sullivan for his ability to break open a game. He said, “He’s just phenomenal. He’s not only the nicest kid in America, he makes plays. He was sort of a skinny, little kid before and now he’s getting to be a grown man. His best days are ahead of him.”

Early in the second quarter, Stoughton struck again, this time through the air. On third and 14, sophomore quarterback Evan Gibb (3-5, 84 yards) saw busted coverage on the right side and hit a wide open Izon Swain-Price for a 60-yard touchdown.

“They put a lot of guys up at the line to take away the run and they did,” said Burke, “but you can hit a couple of passes and Izon had a couple long ones, but that’s Izon for you. You’ve got to be able to throw a couple play action and we did.”

Bohane admitted, “We just couldn’t give them easy ones and we did. Usually against Stoughton we make them earn everything. Tonight was a number of big plays…but they’re very good.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

With two minutes left until halftime, the Black Knights extended the lead. A nine-play, 52-yard drive, which included a five-yard scramble and dump off pass from Gibb to Sullivan to convert a fourth down, was finished off by Sullivan from three yards out for his second TD of the game.

While the Stoughton offense was making big plays, the defense was also controlling the game, particularly at the line of scrimmage with Andrew Iverson, Jason Joseph, and David Cellucci in on seemingly every play.

On the third play of the second half, Iverson hit Canton quarterback Dan Dillon to force a fumble that was recovered by Ryan Pierre at the Bulldogs 24. After an offsides call against Canton, Gibb threw his second touchdown of the game, hitting Jack Connelly for a 19-yard score. Cellucci, the holder on extra points, fielded a high snap and ran in the two-point conversion.

“He’s playing good, “ said Burke of Gibb. “He’s a young kid and we just have to protect him; he’s a sophomore, you can’t let him run around. Eventually he’ll be the fourth running back.”

Swain-Price (three carries, 112 yards) put an exclamation point on the game when it looked as though the Black Knights were buried deep in their own end. He cut inside on a sweep to the left and broke free for a 94-yard touchdown that made it 42-7.

Dillon had stepped in for Canton to replace Dennis Ross, who was unavailable for the game, and he was able to get the offense moving late in the fourth quarter. Despite the deficit, the Bulldogs kept fighting and put together a 12-play, 75-yard drive that featured carries from Dillon, Dan Alice, Mike Marino, and Joe Mulkay, who finished it with an eight-yard option pitch for the score.

Alice broke the plane of the goal line for the conversion and Harris leapt above the Black Knights hands team to recover the onside kick. This drive was capped by Dillon, who punched it in from a yard out.

“I’m very proud of Dan,” said Bohane. “He comes down to practice every day and probably knew coming into his senior year that he didn’t expect to play much. It didn’t faze him, plays special teams, takes a lot of snaps, and he’s gotten his opportunity here.”

The win keeps Stoughton right behind current league leader North Attleboro, hoping that the Rocketeers could slip up in the final two weeks of league play. Burke explained, “Who knows what North’s doing, but we’re taking it one at a time and hopefully good things happen.”

Stoughton (3-2, 2-1) will host Foxboro next Friday night, while Canton (1-4, 0-3) could do the Black Knights a favor when it hosts North Attleboro.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Overtime Heroics Carry Canton to Win At Stoughton

Jake Ragusa
Jake Ragusa (20) rushes for his second touchdown of the game to give Canton a lead in overtime at Stoughton on Friday night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

STOUGHTON, Mass. – The Bulldogs are becoming used to dramatic finishes and overtime battles, but there was something special about Friday night’s 22-21 victory over rival Stoughton at Anthony L. Sarno Field.

When Jake Ragusa stopped Guy Eddy at the two-yard line on the final play of overtime, preventing the Black Knights from getting the two-point conversion that would have won the game, the Bulldogs stormed onto the field, cheering a win that keeps them in the Davenport title race, possibly clinches a spot in the postseason, and avenges last year’s heartbreaking defeat. 

Still, this felt like more than all of that.

Even 20 minutes after they had cleared the field, with the players piled into two buses for the short ride back to Canton, the cheering had not abated. It felt like the Bulldogs had officially arrived and earned the marquee win to prove that this is a program to watch.

“We’re just on top of the world,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “To have those moments like that, you cherish them.”

“I told them before the game that I think our program is heading in the right direction,” he explained. “I think we’re going to be pretty good down the road, but I think tonight is going to be a night you remember as the night that it turned.”

As has been the case all season and as would be expected against a rival and a team that has been in the running for the Davenport title each year since the league split, the victory was not easy.

The first half was ugly for the Bulldogs with the offense sputtering in the rain. Penalties and a pair of turnovers gave Stoughton the ball in Canton territory on its first three possessions. The Black Knights opened the scoring with 5:27 left in the first when Christian Hill’s 19-yard run set up a 1-yard Guy Eddy touchdown.

But that was all Stoughton would get in the first half. Ragusa sacked Stoughton quarterback Jake Gibb twice, sophomore Jude Albert showed the ability to stick with receivers downfield and the aggressive Bulldogs defense bottled up the ground game at the line of scrimmage.

“Our defense kept us in the game,” said Bohane. “Our defense gave us a chance to win that, no doubt.”

Canton finally got something going on its final possession of the half. Ragusa was the main man with nine carries for 59 yards on the drive and finished it with a two-yard dive that gave Canton the lead with 16 seconds before the break.

The lead barely lasted to halftime. Steven Elice took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to paydirt only to have his celebration cut short by a holding call at midfield.

After the break, it was more of the same. The rain may have cleared but the field was still slick and the defenses were in control. Donnie Foley, Devlin Carroll, and Josh Czuba on the Stoughton side and Woanyen Mahn, Joe Bires, and Djimon Harding for Canton were all dominating play and neither side could find any rhythm offensively.

The Black Knights finally got a spark when Elice recovered a Bires fumble at the Canton 35 with the clock winding under five minutes to play. Gibb hit Ryan Sullivan for 11 yards and a first down and then four plays later he hit Eddy in the flat and the running back took it 18 yards for the go-ahead score. The two-point conversion was no good and the lead was 12-7 with 2:41 left to play.

Canton answered right back. The drive started at the Bulldogs’ 43 and was kept alive by junior quarterback Dennis Ross, who kept a fourth down play alive long enough to find Ragusa on the sideline for the first down. Three plays later, Ross looked downfield and found Michael Harris for a 35-yard touchdown pass into double coverage.

Mahn added the two-point conversion and it was 15-12 Bulldogs with just 1:18 left.

“He didn’t get a lot of reps last year,” said Bohane of his starting QB, Ross. “We just need to get better throwing the ball so we spent a lot of time doing it this week and we did it.”

“I don’t know how pretty that play was but I’ve been on the other end of that so many times, I’ll take it.”

Stoughton coach Greg Burke was still wondering how it was that Harris got open on the play. He said, “I thought we should’ve batted it down at least. Two guys were on him, but, you know, what can I tell you.”

The Black Knights were not done. Similar to the game against Milford two weeks ago, the Canton defense let up for just a second and Gibb was able to hit Elice on a slant that went for 43 yards down to the Bulldogs seven with :32 seconds left. Gibb (8-17, 105) threw incomplete on first down, gained two yards on second and missed Eddy in the flat on third.

Facing a fourth down decision, Stoughton received a delay of game penalty that backed the Knights up to the 10. From there, Burke made the choice to go with the field goal.

“It was 10 yards and we didn’t have any timeouts left,” he said. “You just go with the percentage there. I’m going to take the chance that we kick it through. We screwed it up on the pass before that…but we had to go for that.”

Stoughton went for it and Gibb’s kick was hit by at least one Canton player (possibly two) but went through the uprights with 11 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

On its first possession, Canton faced fourth down from the two and rather than go for a Thomas Monagle field goal, Bohane went to Ragusa (24 carries, 116 yards) and the senior plowed into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night.

Gibb scored for Stoughton with a two-yard run of his own. Burke decided to go for two rather than try an extra point and the Knights gave the ball to Eddy on a sweep right but Ragusa read it all the way and made the stop that gave Canton the win.

“We’re going for the win,” said Burke. “I called a timeout and the [ref] didn’t listen to me. I called a timeout; we were going to change and pass the ball. We just wanted to see how they lined up.”

“I thought we did a good job defensively…I just figured we could win it.”

About his senior captain, who made plays on both sides of the ball in overtime, Bohane remarked, “He’s like the straw that stirs the drink. Him and Joe (Bires), they’re the guys that we rally around. Hopefully we keep winning and those guys will be in discussion for MVP of the league.”

Bohane took a moment to reflect on where he was and the emotions of the evening. The Bulldogs have won four times this season and three of those were in OT, but Bohane admitted that this one felt a little different.

“Last year’s game was an absolute kick in the stomach to us, coaching staff and players, so to have this happen just…it’s just a great feeling and I’m so proud of my guys.”

Canton will go on the road to face Oliver Ames next Friday, while Stoughton will travel to Davenport leader Foxboro.

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