SHARON, Mass. – Before Sunday’s matinee meeting between Sharon boys basketball and Norwood, the Eagles honored former longtime coach Basil Cronin, who passed away last year.
Cronin coached basketball at Sharon High for 37 years, including a 17-year stint as varsity head coach from 1983 to 1999. The Eagles won four league titles in the span and climbed to the top of the mountain in 1991 with a Division 2 State Championship.
While this year’s Sharon squad continues to grow, it honored Basil the best it could, orchestrating a gritty come-from-behind 70-66 win over the visiting Mustangs.
“That was the goal, we wanted to get a win after recognizing Coach Cronin,” said current Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “Our freshmen coach Larry Yaffe, who played here for Basil, did such a great job setting everything up. We had a lot of alumni here, Mrs. Cronin was here, so getting a win was really a cherry on top of a great afternoon.”
The Eagles trailed after both the first and third quarters, faced a seven-point deficit early in the fourth, and were behind with under 30 seconds left. Sharon outscored the Mustangs 13-3 over the final three minutes, and 6-1 the final minute, to secure the victory.
Norwood led for the majority of the fourth quarter, answering anytime the Eagles made a bucket to try and get back in the game. With Sharon trailing 63-57, junior Andrew Burton (13 points, eight rebounds) sliced through the defense for a layup. The Eagles got a key stop and Andrew Strong (13 points) converted a pair of free throws to get Sharon within two.
The Mustangs had two chances to extend the lead but couldn’t convert against Sharon’s defense, and Burton hauled in a big defensive rebound and converted on the other end with another strong take to tie it at 63-63 with 1:23 to go.
Sharon briefly took the lead when Burton sank a free throw, but Norwood cashed in on a foul away from the basket, hitting both free throws to retake a 65-64 lead with a minute to go. The Eagles missed on the ensuing possession and even sent Norwood to the line, but the Mustangs only hit one of two free throws.
Ferguson put in a lineup of shooters for the ensuing possession, and the spread offense worked out. The Eagles moved the ball around the court with a lot of off ball movement, the rock ending up in the hands of Ben Kaplan (11 points) in the corner. The senior didn’t hesitate and drained a three to put Sharon up 67-66 with just 22 seconds left.
“It was a three or we’d get someone going downhill for a layup,” Ferguson said. “With the guys we had one the court, we’re able to spread the floor and didn’t have a post presence. We wanted to spread them out and a senior made a big play on a big shot. Aidan is our best shooter but we have enough trust in all the guys on the floor to make that shot.”
Sharon forced a travel on Norwood’s ensuing possession and Aidan Kane (10 points) pushed the lead to two with a free throw. The Mustangs were whistled for an illegal screen on their next possession and Burton iced the game with a pair of free throws in the final seconds.
Norwood had five offensive rebounds in the first quarter and capitalized on the second chances to put together an 11-4 run. Sharon sophomore Kiran Chandrasekaran drained a three in the final seconds to pull the Eagles within four, down 16-12 at the end of one.
Sharon kicked it into gear in the second quarter, opening the frame with a 13-0 run to take the lead. Strong set the tone with a steal and traditional three-point play on the first play of the quarter. Alec Filipkowski added a three pointer, sophomore Hank Ward (eight points, four rebounds) converted a putback, Kaplan got a kind bounce on a corner three and then converted after a Norwood turnover for a 25-16 advantage.
In the third, the Mustangs opened with an 8-2 run to take the lead before Burton scored to take it right back. A Norwood three was answered by a bucket from Chandrasekaran off a feed from freshman John LaraBaez. Senior Alex Kaufmann put the Eagles ahead 42-41 with a traditional three-point play, but the Mustangs closed the quarter with an 8-4 run to seize a 50-45 advantage after three.
“It felt similar to the Walpole game but this time we had to fight back,” Ferguson said. “It shows a lot about these guys, especially the younger guys on the floor for some of those runs. It shows they’re going to be able to step into this spot down the road. And we had a couple of seniors made some big plays for us. It’s a good mix of kids and our younger kids are learning from our seniors. Now we have to take that next step.”
Sharon boys basketball (2-15 overall) will try to make it two in a row when it hosts Foxboro on Tuesday at 6:30.
Canton, 46 @ Foxboro, 54 – Final – After a back-and-forth first half, Foxboro was able to gradually pull away and iced the game with clutch free throws down the stretch. After an even (10-10) first quarter, Foxboro opened with an 11-3 run to gain the lead but Canton responded with a 14-2 run to go ahead 27-23 late in the second quarter. A brief 5-0 run, capped by sophomore Kevin Gallagher’s (16 points) three-pointer at the buzzer, gave Foxboro a 28-27 lead at half. Foxboro led 40-34 heading into the fourth quarter, and although Canton cut it to one possession late in the game, Warrior senior Anthony Mollica hit four free throws to seal it. Junior Brandon Borde added 15 points for Foxboro while Canton senior Devin Foster had a game-high 17 points.
Franklin, 76 @ King Philip, 60 – Final – Franklin junior Chris Edgehill poured in a career-high 35 points to pace the Panthers to a season sweep of the Warriors. The Panthers led by 13 at halftime (42-29) and entering the fourth quarter (56-43). Edgehill scored 15 of Franklin’s 20 points in the final frame to seal the win. Jalen Samuels added 17 points for the Panthers, who connected on 10 three-pointers. Tim Nault hit half of KP’s 10 three-pointers and finished with a team-high 16 points.
Milford, 56 @ Sharon, 45 – Final – Milford overcame a slow start and gradually pulled away from Sharon. The Hawks trailed 11-9 at the end of one quarter but took a three-point (20-17) lead into the halftime break. The Hawks extended their lead to 34-27 at the end of three and then put the game to bed with a 22-point fourth quarter. Brendan White paced Milford with 24 points (17 in second half) and 18 rebounds and senior Brendon Sailer added 16 points. Kiran Chandrasekaran led Sharon with a team-high 11 points.
North Attleboro, 70 @ Stoughton, 65 – Final – North Attleboro erased an 18-point deficit with a monster second half to earn a win on the road. After being limited to 19 points in the first half (include a buzzer-beating three), the Rocketeers exploded for 51 second half points to earn the come-from-behind win. Trailing 32-19 at half, North Attleboro buried a barrage of three-pointers to begin the third, hitting four of their eight triples in the frame. North extended its advantage to a nine-point lead early in the fourth before Stoughton clawed its way back, getting with one at 66-65 with 11.6 seconds left but North secured the win with free throws and a steal. Junior Ethan Friberg had a career-high 18 points while senior Josh Montague added 17 points, and seniors Matt Seavey and Nate Gonsalves each chipped in with 12 points. Ajahn Rue led Stoughton with a career-high 23 points and Obinna Ugwuakazi added 14 points.
Oliver Ames, 37 @ Taunton, 39 – Final – A low-scoring tone was set early as the teams combined for just seven points (6-1 Taunton) in the opening quarter. Taunton extended its lead to 19-12 at half but Oliver Ames had a 16-point third quarter to take a 28-26 lead going into the fourth quarter. Lou Vendrell paced Taunton with a game-high 17 points while John Martins scored all of his seven points in the second half. Ethan Eckstrom led OA with 12 points while Michael Greene added 10 points, all in the second half.
Mansfield, 47 @ Attleboro, 36 – Final – The game was tied 20-20 at halftime but the Hornets broke the game open in the second half to remain just two games back of league-leading Franklin heading into Tuesday’s showdown. Maggie Danehy scored 15 points and Sydney Mulkern added 12 for Mansfield. Liv McCall paced the Bombardiers with 13.
Foxboro, 55 @ Canton, 37 – Final – Katelyn Mollica scored 22 points for the second time this week, helping the Warriors get back on track and move within one win of clinching a third straight league title. Chelsea Gibbons scored 13 in the win.
King Philip, 45 @ Franklin, 68 – Final – Ali Brigham scored 27 points and Megan O’Connell added 10 for the Panthers, who remain unbeaten in league play this season and can clinch at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title with a win against Mansfield on Tuesday. Shannon O’Connor was the top scorer for the Warriors with nine points.
Sharon, 53 @ Milford, 25 – Final – Telishya Herbert led all scorers with 10 points for the Eagles and Sara Fandel added nine. Ally Brown and Trinity Payne each scored eight points in the win. Sharon needs three more wins to book a spot in the state tournament.
Stoughton, 48 @ North Attleboro, 47 – Final – Stoughton kept its postseason hopes alive with a big road win. Shyanne Trinh paced the Black Knights with 21 points and added four blocks. Lindsay McDonald added 12 points and nine boards in the win.
Taunton, 34 @ Oliver Ames, 71 – Final – OA moved one win closer to sealing a spot in the state tournament with a big home win. Freshman Caroline Peper led the way with 20 points and Jess Erlich added 10 and five rebounds for the tigers, who held a 32-20 advantage at halftime.
Sharon, 40 @ Attleboro, 68 – Final – Attleboro scored 19 points in the second quarter to create a double-digit advantage and then outscored the Eagles 20-5 in the third to run away with the victory. The Bombardiers had four players in double figures, led by junior Qualeem Charles’ 15 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Bryant Ciccio added 13 points, Tim Callahan had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Kevin Velazquez finished with 10 points. Andrew Burton had eight points and Kiran Chandrasekaran added seven points for the Eagles.
Canton, 58 @ Taunton, 63 – Final – The Tigers and Bulldogs were tied 38-38 after three quarters but Taunton was able to outscore the visitors 25-20 in the final frame to get the win. Taunton senior John Martins scored 25 of his career-high 30 points in the second half, including 12 in the fourth quarter, to pace the shorthanded Tigers. Michael Quinn tied a career-high with 17 points and sophomore Danny MacDougall scored six points in his varsity debut. Canton’s Devin Foster had a game-high 25 points, including surpassing the 1,000 point plateau for his career. Kyle Fitzgerald added 10 points for the Bulldogs.
Foxboro, 37 @ Franklin, 61 – Final – Franklin raced out to a 13-0 start but Foxboro battled back to make it a six-point game (29-23) at half. But the Panthers dominated the third quarter, outscoring the visitors 23-5 in the frame and allowed a total of 14 points in the second half to earn the win. Franklin senior Will Harvey had a career-high 15 points while Jalen Samuels and Thomas Gasbarro each added eight points. Foxboro sophomore Kevin Gallagher scored a team-high eight points.
Stoughton, 52 @ Mansfield, 72 – Final – Stoughton kept it close for three quarters but Mansfield finished strong to earn the win at home. The Hornets led by six (21-15) after one and eight (32-24) at halftime. The Black Knights kept pace with Mansfield in the third but couldn’t overcome a nine-point deficit heading into the final quarter. Mansfield won the fourth 18-7 to secure the win. Junior Sam Stevens had a team-high 14 points, sophomore TJ Guy added 13 points, senior Tommy Dooling hit four three pointers for 12 points, and junior Owen Mullahy netted a career-high 10 points. Junior center Tahkwan Gates Brown led the Black Knights with 12 points.
Attleboro, 44 @ Sharon, 52 – Final – Emma Eberhardt scored 22 points to pace the Eagles to an important home win. Telishya Herbert also got into double digits for Sharon, scoring 10 points.
Taunton, 43 @ Canton, 54 – Final – Sydney Gallery scored a game-high 15 points to get the Bulldogs back in the win column. Erin Devine also came off the bench to add eight points and a strong presence on the boards for Canton. The Tigers were led by Lily Patneaude’s 13 points.
Mansfield, 61 @ Stoughton, 32 – Final – Sydney Mulkern continued her string of strong performances with 12 points for the Hornets, who broke open the game by holding Stoughton to just 12 points in the second half. Mady Bendanillo added nine and Emily Vigeant had eight in the win. Stoughton junior Aliyah Wright had a team-high 11 points.
Oliver Ames, 90 @ Milford, 29 – Final
Foxboro, 57 @ Milford, 87 – Final – Foxboro’s Dimitri Davis and Thomas Perry Jr. each had individual wins and the Warriors’ 400 relay team took first but Milford earned the win in the pool. Davis won the 100 backstroke (1:20), Perry Jr. took first in the 100 breaststroke (1:24), and the team of Jared Roke, Kris Andersen, Josh Sitte, and Spencer SanBento (5:37) won the 400 relay for Foxboro.
Foxboro, 78 @ Milford, 83 – Final – Foxboro’s 400 relay team took first while Pam Nelson and Lindsey Nelson each had individual wins but Milford edged the Warriors for the win. The team of Gina Ouellette, Jenna Stamatov, Kendall Milender, and Shannon Egan touched in 4:48 to win the 400 relay. Pam Nelson was the winner in the 200IM (2:31) and Linsey Nelson was first in the 100 breaststroke (1:24).
Attleboro, 63 @ Taunton, 60 – Final – Tied at 53 apiece late in the game, Attleboro closed . the game with a 10-7 run to edge the Tigers. The Bombardiers jumped ahead 60-53 with a 7-0 run, bookended with free throws from Bryant Ciccio (18 points) along with a layup from Mason Houle. Taunton responded with a three from John Martins and a steal and layup from Mike Quinn (12 points) to get within two. With 10.8 seconds left, Taunton had the ball down 62-60 but Tim Callahan helped force a turnover, Ciccio hit one of two free throws and Qualeem Charles (21 points, 11 rebounds) grabbed the offensive board and Attleboro kept possession as time expired. Dante Law led Taunton with 20 points while Wesner Charles added 10 points.
Sharon, 49 @ Foxboro, 69 – Final – Foxboro built a nine-point advantage over three quarter and then turned it on during the fourth, pouring in 30 points in the final quarter to pull away from the visiting Eagles. The Warriors led by two (10-8) after one, and six (25-19) by halftime. Foxboro increased its lead to nine (39-30) entering the fourth. Junior Will Morrison scored 10 of his 12 points in the final quarter, one of four Warriors to score double-digits. Anthony Mollica had a team-high 17 points, sophomore Kevin Gallagher added 15 points and senior Ryan Hughes finished with 11 points, all in the first three quarters. Sharon’s Kiran Chandrasekaran led the Eagles with 10 points and Caleb Gayle added eight points and 10 rebounds.
Franklin, 61 @ Oliver Ames, 40 – Final – Franklin limited Oliver Ames to just 16 points in the second half, turning a six-point halftime advantage in a double-digit win. The Panthers led 16-12 after one and 30-24 at half but didn’t allow the Tigers to score double digits in either the third (14-9) or the fourth (17-7). Senior Jalen Samuels led the Panthers with 15 points, including eight in the fourth quarter while classmate Jake Macchi added a career-high 14 points (five in the fourth), connecting on four three pointers. Senior Ethan Eckstrom and sophomore Amari Brown each had eight points for the Tigers.
King Philip, 69 @ Mansfield, 65 – Final – King Philip hit five three-pointers and exploded for 28 points in the fourth quarter to earn a score a big come-from-behind upset on the road at Mansfield. It marks the Warriors’ first win against the Hornets since February 2012, snapping a 12-game skid. KP trailed by nine with just over five minutes to go before outscoring the Hornets 25-12 over that period. Junior Alex Fritz scored 10 of his career-high 20 points in the final quarter while Tim Nault poured in three triples in the final frame to finish with 17 points. Bruce Saintilus added 16 points and Sam Sesay added for KP. Mansfield senior Damani Scott had a team-high 15 points and sophomore TJ Guy added 13 points for the Hornets.
Milford, 74 @ Stoughton, 54 – Final – Milford senior Brendan White poured in a career-high 40 points and hauled in 18 rebounds to lead the Scarlet Hawks to a big win on the road. White scored 13 points in the opening quarter, helping the Hawks jump out ahead 18-9, and then added 10 in the second as Milford built a 37-21 lead by halftime. White had 15 made field goals, including three three-pointers, and connected on four free throws. Brendon Sailer added 11 points and Jordan Darling finished with 10 points for Milford. Sophomore Brett Pendenza had a team-high 10 points for the Black Knights.
Taunton, 46 @ Attleboro, 60 – Final – Attleboro used a balanced offensive attack to pull out the division win at home. Liv McCall paced the Bombardiers with 12, but she got a lot of help from Kenzie Roberts and Emma Reilly, who each scored 11. Ryan Johnson and Gabby Bosh also played well off the Attleboro bench, according to coach Marty Crowley. Sonya Fernandez led the Tigers with 14 and Tori DeRosa chipped in with 10.
Canton, 59 @ North Attleboro, 69 – Final – North Attleboro continued its surge up the standings with a strong performance against Canton. Amanda Kaiser scored 22 points and Julia Feid added 19 for the Rocketeers, who scored a season-high 69 points as a team. Olivia Forbes added eight in the win. Sydney Gallery scored 15 points and her sister Fay added 14 for the Bulldogs. North has won five of its last six games, with the only loss being at Franklin.
Foxboro, 54 @ Sharon, 44 – Final – The defending Div. 2 state champs have booked a place in the state tournament with their 10th straight win to start the season, but it was not easy. Foxboro needed a 14-4 run in the final four-plus minutes to keep the win streak alive. Lizzy Davis was the top scorer for Foxboro with 16, while Katelyn Mollica added 15 and Chelsea Gibbons had 14 in the win. Telishya Herbert matched Davis, scoring 16 points to lead the Eagles. Emma Eberhardt had 11 points and Kaitlyn Wallace had eight to help Sharon put a scare into the Davenport leaders.
Oliver Ames, 36 @ Franklin, 62 – Final – OA led by three after one quarter, but Franklin rallied to grab the lead by halftime. In the third quarter, the Panthers broke the game wide open, going on a 24-6 run that put them in front for good. Megan O’Connell had a big game for the hosts, scoring 18 points, to help Franklin stay unbeaten in the league and remain two games ahead of Mansfield in the title race. Bea Bondhus had 15 points, on five three-pointers, and Ali Brigham had 13 in the win. Hailey Bourne was the top scorer for OA with nine points.
Stoughton, 67 @ Milford, 32 – Final – Hailey Egan helped Stoughton get back on track, scoring 13 points to lead the Black Knights. Lindsay McDonald had 11 points and eight rebounds, while Sydnee Hyacinthe had 10 points, four assists, and five steals.
Silver Lake Quad (Oliver Ames) – Oliver Ames went 3-0 on the day, picking up wins over South Shore Tech (62-12), Quincy (63-12), and host Silver Lake (57-12).
North Attleboro @ Canton, 6:30
Foxboro @ Sharon, 4:00
Franklin, 86 @ Westwood, 57 – Final
Mansfield, 46 @ Taunton, 45 – Final
North Attleboro @ Canton, 6:30
Foxboro @ Sharon, 4:00
Franklin, 89.5 @ Westwood, 80.5 – Final
Mansfield, 44 @ Taunton, 60 – Final
Attleboro @ King Philip, 8:00
Canton @ North Attleboro, 7:30
WRENTHAM, Mass. – First year King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano made it clear that defense was a priority when he took over the reins of the Warriors’ program.
So it’s no surprise that at halftime, trailing 32-21 to Sharon, that DeStefano challenged his team to make a big commitment to the defensive end of the floor for the final 16 minutes.
His team delivered.
The Warriors held the Eagles to just four points in the third quarter, creating a double-digit lead that it used to come away with a 73-53 decision over Sharon.
“It was all about the defensive effort,” DeStefano said of the big third quarter. “The guys really committed to the defensive end, they boxed out well and didn’t give up a lot of rebounds. I challenged them at halftime to be better on the defensive end and they responded.”
King Philip’s defense was strong from the get-go of the second half, forcing a turnover on Sharon’s first possession, resulting in a putback from Sam Sesay (10 points, seven rebounds).
While Sharon took the lead back on a bucket from Andrew Burton (six points, six rebounds), King Philip outscored the Eagles 16-2 over the final 6:24 of the period.
After a turnover, Tim Nault (seven points, seven assists) converted a layup to re-take the lead, Sesay converted another putback on KP’s third shot of the possession, and Sesay scored again on a feed from Chris Roy (13 points) after another Eagle turnover.
Holding a 39-34 lead, the Warriors forced back-to-back turnovers, the first resulting in a bucket from Tyler Nault, the second two points from Sesay off a feed from Tim Nault.
Bruce Saintilus (six points) set up Andrew McKinney (five points, five rebounds) for a bucket and then took advantage of another Sharon turnover for two points while being fouled. Although he missed the free throws, the Warriors grabbed two offensive boards, the second resulting in two more from Saintilus and a 49-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
After hitting six triples in the first half, the Warriors adjusted and attacked the basket more in the third quarter. KP went 9-for-17 from two-point range in the frame and didn’t hit a three.
“I told the guys at half that we can’t rely on the three all game and we’d have to take it to the hole more,” DeStefano said. “We’re not going to be able to sustain the shooting, we needed to attack. We still took too many threes in the second half, and they weren’t all bad but we needed to attack more.”
A big reason for the success from in close was Sesay, who scored eight of his 10 points and grabbed six of his seven rebounds in the third quarter alone.
“He’s a physical specimen. He gives us toughness down there. He knows his role on the team, he doesn’t try and do anything out of his comfort zone. He’s there to bang down low, get boards, a lot of little things and he’s accepted that role, and he played well tonight. And he’s been huge in practice with challenging guys, he’s really become a leader for this team.”
Sharon made it interesting by opening the fourth quarter with a 7-1 run to make it a seven point game, down 50-43 with 6:38 to play in the game. Aidan Kane (career-high 22 points) scored on a feed from Ben Kaplan (10 points), Burton hit a pair of free throws, and Kane sank a triple on a pass from Alex Filipkowski to get close.
The Eagles had two chances to get closer after forcing a KP turnover and getting a stop on defense, but a missed triple and then a steal and layup from Warrior junior Alex f (career-high 18 points) swung the momentum back with the hosts.
A triple from Fritz extended the advantage to 12 for the Warriors but Sharon kept it close, and a putback from Kiran Chandrasekaran (nine points) made it a single-digit deficit but KP answered right away when Tyler Nault buried a three.
“We stopped attacking the basket,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson of what changed in the third quarter. “We’ve been preaching going downhill on offense and we kept going side to side. It was a little reminiscent of the first quarter against Mansfield, we looked a little intimidated and they ramped up their defensive pressure. Unfortunately a couple of shots didn’t fall, a couple of loose balls they beat us to, and we have to get better at those things but I think we will.”
King Philip had a strong shooting night overall, hitting 42% of its shots from the field. But the Warriors were particularly successful from three-point range early on.
The Warriors hit four of their first five attempts from deep in the opening quarter with Roy leading the way. The teams traded early threes, with Sharon holding an 8-7 advantage after a bucket from Aaron Strong. Roy put KP ahead with a layup, extended KP’s lead with a jumper and hit his second three of the frame with a minute to go to help KP lead 17-14 after one.
The Eagles battled back in the second quarter, limiting KP to just two triples in the frame. The Warriors led 25-16 with 5:28 to go, but Sharon closed the with a 16-6 surge to take the lead at the break. Kane had back-to-back triples to get within two and Kaplan drained a triple later in the quarter to take the lead. Sharon led 32-21 at the half.
“We had come in with a plan to switch up defenses with them and they really shot us out of our zone early,” Ferguson said. “We went to the man, and did a really good job with it at the end of the first quarter and the entire second quarter. But third quarter, we seemed to get a little tired and had some foul trouble. We lost Aaron Strong to injury, and it just wore on us a bit. They killed us on the offensive glass, getting second and third opportunities. And on top of that, they shot really, really well tonight and we couldn’t keep up.”
King Philip boys basketball (1-2 Hockomock, 1-2 overall) is back in action on Thursday when it takes on New Mission at Auburn High. Sharon (0-3, 0-3) will try to bounce back when it takes on Hingham at Westwood High on Friday evening.
Outlook: After playing plenty of sophomores last season, the Bulldogs will be looking to boast a balanced, experienced team aiming to compete for the Davenport division title in 2018.
Canton brings back six starters on offense and seven starters back on the defensive side of the ball. The Dogs are one of the few teams with their starting quarterback returning as junior Johnny Hagan continues under center after a solid sophomore season. He showed the ability to pass and run with the ball, and he has almost all of his running back options back to work with. Gersom Rivera had a terrific sophomore year and will be counted on to be a big piece of the offense during 2018. Rivera’s athleticism and speed will be complemented by the hard nose running and blocking of junior Kyle Fitzgerald and senior Brendan Albert.
Junior Jack Connolly will anchor the offensive line and will be joined by senior Brian Campagna and junior Lucas Bryant at the center position. Ryan Lentol, who came on strong at the end of last year, picked up right where he left off and will be a top option at split end.
The strength of Canton’s defense is its linebacker group, which is full of experience and talent. Albert is back at one of the outside spots after earning Hock All Star last year while senior Ben Seaman is back on the other side. Junior James Murphy will fill in the middle after impressing last season and junior Robbie Gallery has impressed early on as the other inside option. Canton will also rely on a seasoned secondary with Fitzgerald and David Allen returning as starters. Ryan Colby should see time in the secondary and Owen Lehane is in the mix for the defensive line.
“We’re very excited for the season,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “The kids have put the work in, we think we can play with anyone in the league but its a very good league so you have to be on your ‘A’ game every night. Every team is well coached and competitive so any time you can win in the Hock, its a success. We have to take it game by game, do the best we can, and keep plugging.
Outlook: The Warriors are aiming to make it two straight years in the postseason and will use a mix of returning players and new faces to try and get it done.
Foxboro graduated 35 seniors last year so there are some spots that need to be filled, but the Warriors are off to a good start with Liam Foley back in the fold at quarterback. The senior saw time under center last season along with Devin Hassett. And Foley will be in good shape as the Warriors have a lot of experience on the offensive line. Senior Tom Cullen is back in the middle of the line as the center, senior Andrew Longa and sophomore Sean Ferguson take on the tackle positions, and senior Hunter Williams and junior Aidan Dow will fill out the interior of the line.
Mike Luong got touches as a junior out of the backfield last season and will be a main part of the offense this season. Pat Stapleton is a returning split end, classmate Rob Fay will step into the same role, and junior Shayne Kerrigan will a top target for Foley.
The Warriors have experience and good size up front on defense, led by returning starting tackles Shawn Teixeira (6’4, 260) and Bill McNeil (6’0, 265). Senior William Ogbebor and Anton George will be called upon to fill out the defensive line on the ends while Williams and Martin McElroy will be joined by Mike Sheehan at linebacker. Russell Neale is back as the place kicker after a strong junior season.
Outlook: After reaching the quarterfinals last season, the 2018 version of the Scarlet Hawks are aiming for a deeper run into the postseason. And not just that, the Hawks are looking to be serious contenders for the Davenport crown.
Milford has a strong core of returning players back, a group of eager new faces looking to make an impression, and big new piece on the line. Kevin Pyne (6’8, 280) transferred to his hometown high school and will anchor what looks to be a big, physical line. Pyne is rated as the top recruit for his class and holds D1 offers from over a dozen schools including Notre Dame and Michigan. Senior Josh Ligor returns as a starter on the line while sophomore Nick Yohn will also be a two-way lineman.
The Hawks bring back both their quarterbacks: senior Ryan Pearl handled the team’s ‘WAR’ package while junior Colby Pires stepped in when Milford spread it out. Junior Luke Rosa will step in as an option at halfback along with sophomore Dominic Schofield. Brendan White (WR/S) brings toughness to both sides of the ball for the Hawks.
Shapel Feaster is one of the most experienced defensive backs in the Hockomock League and should be an important piece of the 2018 Hawks’ defense. Junior CJ Cerella will step in to anchor the linebacking group. On special teams, Sean Lehane is one of the strongest kickers in the area and will try to give Milford a spark at wide receiver this season.
“The goal of the 2018 football season for the Milford Scarlet Hawks is simple: start fast, play physical, and be the toughest team on the field on Friday nights,” said Milford head coach Anthony Vizakis.
Outlook: The target on North Attleboro’s back continues to grow. Coming off their third straight league title, including two straight Davenport titles, the Rocketeers made it all the way to the D3 State Final before falling, 35-33, to St. John’s Shrewsbury.
Big Red is hopeful it can continue its string of success but knows it will be tested with a difficult schedule, including a non-league game with two-time defending state champion King Philip. The biggest challenge will be finding a replacement for three-year starter Chad Peterson, who graduated with a handful of program records and three Hock titles as the starter. Seniors Nick Raneri and Luke LaBonte are both in the mix, and both saw time last year throughout the season. Raneri started all 13 games at tailback but also filled in at QB at times.
Whoever ends up getting the nod at quarterback will have one of the best offensive linemen in the entire state with senior Ryan Clemente anchoring the protection unit. Clemente is joined by senior Jack Puccio as returning starters on the line while seniors Joe Larkin and John Nally, and juniors John Kummer, Ethan Friberg, Trevor Hewitt, Montrel Jackson, and Ethan Mottinger are all competing for time. The Rocketeers also have solid skill options back with senior Brendan McHugh (14 total touchdowns) back at the starting slot back. Omar Jasseh offers size and speed at split end while Ryan Gaumond’s quickness gives the Rocketeers another option down field.
North Attleboro returns six starters on the defensive end, including McHugh, Gaumond, and Jasseh in the secondary. Clemente will be a big piece of the defensive line while Raneri and captain Jonathan James, who will also see time at tight end, will lead the linebacker unit. Russell Dunlap, Puccio, Mike Carty, Friberg and Jackson are all in the mix for defensive end spots while Ryan Boyle, Tom O’Neill, Duane Bryant, and Owen Harding are competing for time at linebacker.
“We expect a very challenging schedule, opening with KP on our new turf field and then an improved Bishop Feehan team in Week 2,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “The Davenport division will be extremely competitive this year, with several teams able to beat anyone on any given night. We have a nice core, but if we are going to compete at a championship level, then we are going to need several new faces to mature very quickly. There’s a lot of work still to be done, and not a lot of time to do it.”
Outlook: For the first time in Sharon, there will be football on Friday nights.
With the installation of lights at the high school field, the Eagles will be hosting teams on Friday nights instead of Saturday afternoons. And the 2018 Eagles are hoping to put a show under those lights. Sharon brings back a handful of key returning starters on both sides of the ball, and with one more year experience under their belts, will be looking to compete in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive seasons top to bottom in the Davenport.
Sharon averaged nearly 20 points per game in its six non-league games last year and is hoping to carry that over into Davenport play this season. Senior quarterback Jeremy Ruskin (six total touchdowns) is back under center to lead the offense and last year’s starting running back Aaron Strong (three touchdowns) also returns to give the Eagles a solid 1-2 punch on offense right away. Coleman Loftus’ size and strength will be a vital part of the line on both sides of the ball while Chris Gong and Alec Filipkowski return as Ruskin’s main two targets.
Not only goes Gong give Sharon options on offense because of his speed, he is one of the most dangerous kick returners in the state. He had an 80-yard punt return touchdown and a 99-yard kickoff return last season so opposing special team units will have to pay a lot of attention.
Despite the numbers, the Eagles had a strong defense last season. This season, Sharon boasts a lot of speed (on both sides of the ball) and is looking to use that to be more aggressive. Juniors Kiran Chandrasekaran will step in to be a big part of the secondary while classmate Nic Marrero will be relied on to anchor the linebackers.
“With a lot of returning starters and a sprinkle of new talent, I am expecting this team to take a huge step forward from last year’s inexperienced team,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Outlook: It feels like a fresh start for the Black Knights after graduating a bunch of players that had multiple seasons of experience under their belts.
But the focus remains the same for the Black Knights, who are aiming to be in contention for the Davenport title and make another appearance in the state tournament. Similar to previous seasons, Stoughton will have talent in the backfield and that will be the focal point of the offense. Jeff Grier is one of the fastest players in the league and will make defenses pay when there is space. Alex Iverson is a shifty option out of the backfield, Malachi Green-Hightower brings power to the run game, and sophomore Chris Ais could emerge as a playmaker for the Black Knights.
Junior George Currier and sophomore John Burke will battle it out for the starting quarterback position while Matt Piana, Ali Awad, and Evan Jackman have solidified spots on the offensive line. Frank Derbes will factor into the offense as a tight end and junior Ajahn Rue is back as a receiver.
Defensively, Iverson and Green-Hightower will be right in the heart of the lineup as linebackers while Grier will help as a member of the secondary. Cian Swierzewski has impressed throughout the offseason and the preseason and will be a key piece of the defense from the safety spot. Stoughton is looking for other names to step up and help anchor its hard nose defense.