Canton’s defense continued to shine, posting its second shutout in league play. The Bulldogs limited Milford to 53 yards of total offense and six first downs, with the majority of those yards and conversions coming on the final drive of the game with a running clock.
“We were looking at the weather all week and we were thinking it might work in our favor,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “[Milford] has such a good passing attack, they can throw the ball so well, so dynamic. Their slot [receivers] really got our attention. Sometimes our defense, we have to play the physical aspect against good running teams like Stoughton, and tonight we were challenged in the passing game. I’m very proud of the defense.”
The Bulldogs made life difficult for the Hawks, limiting the visitors’ potent passing game to just three completions in its first seven drives. But four of those drives ended in punts, another in an interception, a turnover on downs, and the end of the first half. The final drive, which spanned 66 yards on eight plays, was denied at the goal line to end the game.
“The conditions were advantageous with how we play defense,” Bohane said. “The defense has played any style we’ve asked them to play. I thought the coaches did a good job preparing, mimicking Milford’s offense and how they go about it — and they are very good, very explosive. We have some pretty big guys up front so we thought we’d be able to hold up against the run. It’s tough to get to their quarterback because he gets rid of it so fast, so we felt we had to have a body on a body, just accounted for everyone.”
Milford’s defense was equal to the task to start the game, forcing a turnover on downs on the opening series and then a three-and-out on Canton’s second offensive possession.
But Canton senior Jace Emma read a hitch route perfectly on Milford’s first play of their second series, jumping in front for an interception and giving the Bulldogs terrific field possession.
From there on out, Canton’s offense was unstoppable, scoring on its final five possessions of the game.
Following Emma’s pick, Canton needed just six plays to go 35 yards to take a first quarter lead. Highlighted by a 31-yard dash from senior Kyle Fitzgerald (19 carries, 109 yards), the Dogs punched it on fourth down when senior quarterback Johnny Hagan (11 carries, 56 yards, three touchdowns) kept it himself for a three-yard score and a 7-0 lead with 2:14 left in the opening quarter.
“Jace has been so good for us for so long,” Bohane said. “We lost one of our corners to injury and Jace stepped in. I was telling him that he belongs out there, I think he was up for the challenge. He stepped up and made that pick, and it was all him, he read it right in man coverage.”
After getting the ball back after a quick three-and-out, Canton marched 58 yards on 11 plays to double its advantage. An offside call shortened a fourth down and the Dogs gave the direct snap to Robbie Gallery on a fake punt to move the chains.
Fitzgerald converted another fourth down on the drive, and two plays later Hagan kept it himself and got around the edge to find the end zone for a 21-yard score.
Canton wasn’t done in the half though, with its defense once again forcing a three-and-out while pushing the Milford defense backward.
This time it took just seven plays to go 44 yards for the Bulldogs, After a healthy mix of Fitzgerald, Hagan, and Gersom Rivera (nine carries, 39 yards) on the ground, Canton caught the Hawks’ defense with a pass play as Hagan delivered a perfect pass to Emma on a slant for 22 yards.
On the next play, Hagan kept it himself for another three-yard touchdown, giving Canton a 21-0 lead heading into halftime.
Bohane and his staff were well aware the game was far from over, and with the firepower that Milford possesses, the Bulldogs’ put a big emphasis on the opening drive of the second half.
With its defense on the field, everything continued to go the Dogs’ way. An incomplete pass was followed by a second down sack from junior Matt Connolly, and a tackle from Jahmi Aldin for no gain on third down.
“We felt like the first series in the third quarter was going to be very important,” Bohane said. “The kids came out and played hard. I can’t remember how exactly it went down but we continued to play well on both sides of the ball. Everyone stepped up and contributed, it was overall a good night for us.”
The first offensive possession of the second half didn’t go exactly as the Bulldogs had planned but still ended up in points nonetheless. Hagan dumped a screen pass off for Fitzgerald, and he took it 45 yards to the end zone but the Bulldogs were whistled for a hold.
That meant Canton had to punt for the first time all night, but the Milford returner couldn’t field it cleanly and the Dogs pounced on the muffed ball.
Again, Fitzgerald found the end zone on a rushing play but again, a holding call negated it. Canton took advantage of a personal foul on the Hawks’ defense, as Rivera took it up the middle from three yards out to make it 28-0 with 5:12 to go in the third quarter.
But a couple plays later, Jack Connolly, Lucas Ragusa, and Gallery combined for a big sack on first down. And Ben Guerini delivered a third down sack two plays later, and the Bulldogs forced an incompletion on fourth down to get the ball back.
It took eight plays to cover the 35 yards, the longest play of the drive coming on Rivera’s 13-yard run up the middle as he bounced between defenders for a score and a 35-0 lead with seven minutes left in the game.
Canton football (5-0 overall, 3-0 Hockomock) visits North Attleboro next week while Milford (3-2, 2-1) hosts Stoughton in a potential playoff preview.
CANTON, Mass. – The Canton roster is filled with holdovers from last year’s Davenport division champions. These are players who have taken part in big games, title-deciding games, and have found ways to come out on top. The Bulldogs needed every ounce of that experience on Friday night against Foxboro at WWII Veterans Memorial Field.
Three times the Warriors had the ball down by just six points in the fourth quarter, twice getting into the red zone, but all three times the Canton defense found another gear to make a crucial stand and preserve the unbeaten start.
“Our defense is one of the best in the Hock for sure,” senior linebacker OOwen Lehane explained. “They were kind of rolling on us for almost three quarters just about, but I think we pieced it together at the end, started picking each other up and I think we just knew deep down that we were better than we were playing.”
Thanks to its defensive effort in the fourth, Canton was able to overcome a rash of penalties and two turnovers in the final quarter to pull out a 26-20 win and stay unbeaten through two weeks of the league campaign.
“They were jacked up, we had some success, and then bam we’re in a football game,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “Our kids stayed poised and made key plays.”
Foxboro quarterback Shayne Kerrigan got the Warriors within a score when he found a seam and burst into the end zone from six yards out with 10:46 remaining in the game. Gersom Rivera blocked the extra point to keep it a six-point margin, but the momentum was with the visitors.
Canton tried to put the game away on its next possession by going for it on fourth and one from the Foxboro 48. Kyle Fitzgerald (20 carries, 132 yards) pushed up the middle for first down distance but as he stretched for a couple extra feet the ball popped loose and was recovered by Elijah Lewis.
Kerrigan (12 carries, 75 yards) got to work with 13 yards on two keepers and then Chris McNamara broke a 22-yard run to the Canton 25. A penalty against the Canton coaches (for encroaching on the field) handed Foxboro a first down at the 12. A loss of one on first down was followed by an incomplete pass and then James Murphy managed to get a fingertip to another pass on third down. On fourth and 11, Kerrigan was held to just a yard to end the drive.
Two plays later, the Warriors were in business again. Canton quarterback Johnny Hagan (13 carries, 55 yards), who had been limited by an injury, couldn’t lost the ball going up the middle and Michael Norvish jumped on the loose ball.
The Foxboro drive lasted three plays before Lehane stepped in and picked off a pass, returning it out near midfield. Lehane also kicked a pair of field goals and had an onside kick recovered in the first half.
“He just never lets you down,” Bohane said of Lehane. “You guys are bringing up things from the game and I’m thinking wow he hit a key field goal, touchbacks, the onside kick, and then to step in and get the interception. An outstanding night for Owen and I’m glad because he’s a super kid.”
After a Canton punt, Foxboro had one last chance with 1:27 remaining. Jace Emma had good coverage on the first pass from Kerrigan (6-of-21, 121 yards) and the second was tipped by Jack Connolly. The third and fourth passes also fell incomplete and Canton was able to kneel down to secure the victory.
“We spotted them a couple points, not that they didn’t earn them, they made great plays, and we could never close that gap,” Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli said. “We had a couple chances down here to tie it up, but two good teams and neither team quit when they were ahead or behind.”
Canton opened the scoring on its second drive of the night. After Fitzgerald broke free for 19 yards, Hagan (7-of-12, 99 yards) tossed a perfect pass into the arms of Rivera down the near sideline for a 33-yard touchdown.
The lead was short-lived, as Foxboro answered right back. Kerrigan hit Ryan Hughes on the near sideline and he made a cut to the inside, shaking off the corner, and then raced 46 yards to the corner for the tying score.
It was the passing game that helped Canton regain the lead on its next possession. Again Hagan was able to find the target deep down the sideline, this time connecting with Emma for 33 yards to the Foxboro five. Hagan would call his own number on the next play for his second score of the night.
A penalty on the touchdown moved the kickoff up 15 yards so the Canton coaches called for an onside kick, which Lehane laid right down the middle and Jahmi Aldin tracked down to immediately give the Bulldogs back the ball. The Foxboro defense managed to keep Canton out of the end zone, but Lehane tacked on a 24-yard field goal to make it 17-7.
Kerrigan and the Foxboro offense, despite missing junior playmaker Luis Sulham, managed to again find big plays against a Canton defense that had not allowed a point since the opening week of the season. The Warriors were helped by two of Canton’s four first half personal foul penalties, but marched down the field to get back within three. Kerrigan capped it off with an 11-yard run.
“We had it last week too,” Martinelli replied, when it was noted how far the offense has come since the season opener against Norton. “Canton is a good football team, we knew that, and we were hoping that we wouldn’t give up the big plays, which we did a couple times tonight.”
Canton added to its lead right before the break. Penalties stalled a drive that had gotten as close as the Foxboro 12, but Lehane was on target with a 32-yard kick. After stuffing Foxboro on the opening drive of the second half, Canton took advantage of the short field, Hagan punching it in from a yard out for his third score to make it 26-14.
It proved to be just about enough to get the win.
“Our coach always says it’s the best league in the state,” said Lehane about the challenge of playing in the Davenport division. “Definitely the seniors, we’ve all been there and we know how tough it is. We’ve got a tough crew too.”
Bohane added, “No weeks off in the Hockomock League. They’re so well-coached and the kids play so hard and there’s so much football tradition. It’s a great league to be in but much better when you have a good team like I do right now that’s physical and tough. It was a lot of fun tonight, as stressful as it was.”
Canton (4-0, 2-0) will be back home next Friday night to take on another potential league title contender in Milford. Foxboro (2-2, 1-1) will look to bounce back with a tough home game against Stoughton.
CANTON, Mass. – The teams were so similar that it was destined to be a close game. Canton and Stoughton both have speed in the backfield, strong offensive and defensive lines, and athletes all over the field. It was like looking in the mirror. So, it came down to turnovers and one drive that decided the game.
Having managed only five first downs to that point, including one drive stuffed inside the Stoughton 10, the Bulldogs took over possession with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. The drive started at their own 35 and nine plays later resulted in the game’s lone touchdown.
Senior quarterback Johnny Hagan (17 carries, 125 yards on the ground and 9-of-18 for 80 yards passing) had the big play on what turned out to be the game-winning drive, breaking free of the Stoughton defense for a 31-yard gain down to the one. Two plays later he got the last yard to give the Bulldogs the lead with just 14.4 seconds to go before halftime of their 10-0 victory in the 100th meeting between the Thanksgiving Day rivals.
“It was definitely a long two weeks,” said Hagan about having a bye last week. “We were itching to play last week, but just to get out here with the crowd and everyone was very fun.”
“I thought they’d be good,” Canton coach Dave Bohane said about his defense, which has now allowed only seven total points in three games. “To beat these guys 10-0, to play well against a very quality team, they maybe exceeded my expectations but we have good speed and some experienced guys. Experience really showed up tonight.”
The Canton defense allowed only three first downs and no points to a Stoughton offense that came into the night averaging 41 points per game. The Bulldogs held talented running backs Christopher and Christian Aiss to a combined 46 yards, while recovering three fumbles. Linebackers Owen Lehane, Lucas Ragusa, Robbie Gallery, and James Murphy were all over the field, making plays from sideline to sideline.
“We play five of them and that’s the strength of our team,” Bohane explained. “There was one play where Ais had the ball and Murphy came out of nowhere. Sometimes James finds another gear on big plays and he was really impressive on that. A lot of kids have had those guys tackled this year and it takes two or three people to bring them down so really credit to our kids tonight getting those guys on the ground.”
On its second possession, Canton came close to making the breakthrough. Hagan had the big play, a 47-yard keeper down the far sideline that got the Bulldogs to the Stoughton 24. They got as close as the two, but Carlvin LaGuerre stuffed Kyle Fitzgerald (21 carries, 64 yards) on third down for a one-yard loss and then Jerry Brisson and Oluwole Fabikun stuffed him again on fourth down.
“We battled,” said Stoughton coach Greg Burke. “They did a good job. Their big player is the quarterback, no doubt. He’s the key and we practiced all week trying to get him but it’s hard to duplicate him.”
It took until its fourth possession for Stoughton to manage a first down. Christian Ais finally got a seam and he broke a 33-yard run down to the Canton 15, but two plays later quarterback Clayton Rahaman couldn’t get a clean hand-off away and Matt Connolly pounced on the loose ball to end the drive.
Burke said, “I thought we hung in there but we fumbled down here and then fumbled down there. Without having the ball, you can’t score. We got the ball back a bunch of times but we didn’t do anything, so back to the drawing board.”
The game seemed destined to be scoreless at the break until the Bulldogs finally succeeded in finishing a drive. It was a huge momentum swing coming in the final seconds before halftime.
“It was huge because it wasn’t really materializing there and then all of a sudden we hit a couple plays and I was like we may put one in here,” said Bohane. “Obviously, we’ve got to work on our short-yardage stuff because that was frustrating to not put them in but Johnny kind of stepped up there.”
He added, “But, we were up 7-0 on Thanksgiving, so that came up a lot in the locker room.”
Canton got the ball to start the second half and marched into Stoughton territory, but stalled at the 36. Bohane elected to punt and David Allen’s effort was dropped at the 10. Murphy dove on top of the fumble to give the Bulldogs new life. A holding penalty denied Hagan his second touchdown, but Canton came away with points on a 27-yard field goal by Lehane.
Hagan said, “That was huge going into half and then coming out third quarter we needed to have a big third quarter. Making it a two-score game was definitely huge for momentum.”
It wasn’t what the hosts were hoping for, but a two-score lead felt insurmountable with the defense continuing to shut the Black Knights down.
The biggest play of the second half for Stoughton was a screen pass from John Burke to Christopher Ais for 15 yards but the ball was pried loose and Lehane recovered. Ais would answer by recovering a Gersom Rivera fumble eight plays later, but by then the clock was winding down and there was no chance for Stoughton to come back.
Canton (3-0, 1-0) will continue its league title defense next Friday night against Foxboro, while Stoughton (2-1, 0-1) will try to bounce back on Thursday night in Sharon.
Canton, 35 vs. Bellingham, 0 – Final 1st Quarter: (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 60-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good; (C) Johnny Hagan 31-yard pass to David Allen, O. Lehane XP good; (C) K. Fitzgerald 8-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good; (C) Gersom Rivera 48-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
2nd Quarter: (C) Ben Guerini 12-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
King Philip, 20 @ Foxboro, 10 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (KP) Robert Jarest 4-yard rush, XP no good; (F) Shayne Kerrigan 1-yard rush, Tyler James XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) T. James 25-yard field goal; R. Jarest 5-yard rush, Dylan Conti XP good.
3rd Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 15-yard rush, D. Conti XP good.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Mansfield, 16 @ LaSalle HS (OH), 38 – Final 1st Quarter: (LS) Zach Branam 38-yard pass to Jake Seibert, J. Seibert XP good; (M) Cincere Gill 87-yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good; (LS) Gi’Bran Payne 50-yard rush, J. Seibert XP good.
2nd Quarter: (LS) Z. Branam 7-yard pass to J. Seibert, J. Seibert XP good; (LS) J. Seibert 35-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: (LS) Z. Branam 30-yard pass to J. Seibert, J. Seibert XP good; (M) Matt Boen 32-yard pass to Danny Rapoza, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (LS) Cameron Porter 2-yard rush, J. Seibert XP good; (M) M. DeBolt 25-yard field goal.
Sharon, 0 vs. Ashland, 21 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. 1st Quarter: (A) Dominic Cavanagh 5-yard pass to Kevin Russell, XP good.
2nd Quarter: (A) D. Cavanagh 4-yard pass to K. Russell, XP good; (A) D. Cavanagh 8-yard rush, XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Stoughton, 47 @ Medford, 6 – Final 1st Quarter: (S) Clayton Rahaman 32-yard pass to Christian Ais, Anthony Girolamo XP good; (S) Christopher Ais 41-yard rush, A. Girolamo XP good; (S) Savion Scott 1-yard rush, XP failed; (S) Christopher Ais 7-yard rush, A. Girolamo XP good.
2nd Quarter: (S) Christian Georges 5-yard rush, A. Girolamo XP good.
3rd Quarter: (S) Gerrard Theodore 31-yard rush, A. Girolamo XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) Medford 30-yard pass, XP blocked; (S) Jonah Ly 65-yard interception return, no XP attempt.
Taunton, 24 @ Durfee, 21 – Final
Stoughton, 0 @ Attleboro, 6 – Final– Attleboro’s Joey Soucy netted a first half hat trick to lead the Bombardiers to a big win at home. Michael Russo had a goal and an assist in the win while freshman Esvin Morales netted his first career goal.
Canton, 0 @ Franklin, 3 – Final – Franklin opened the scoring less than 10 minutes into the contest and added two goals in a 10-minute span in the second half to knock off visiting Canton. Lucas Moura put the Panthers ahead on an assist from Ben Moccia in the 7th minute. Trevor O’Neill doubled the lead for the hosts in the 54th minute on an assist from Jacob Cummings. Junior Ethan Cain capped the scoring five minutes later with a goal in the 59th minute.
Foxboro, 0 @ Taunton, 0 – Final
Milford, 2 @ King Philip, 1 – Final – Milford scored once in each half to earn two points on the road at King Philip. Lucas Da Silva played Leo Coelho in behind the defense, and Coelho used a curling left foot shot from atop the 18-yard box, knocking his shot off the far post and in. KP tied the game in the 51st minute as Colin Wesley connected with Caleb Casseta-Waxman. Casseta-Waxman’s deflected service fell in behind the defense and junior Tadhg Keller nodded the loose ball over the keeper to tie the game. The Hawks found the winner in the 70th minute when Pedro Araujo tracked down a ball from Jordan Borges. Araujo cut inside onto his left foot and sent a dipping shot off the far post and in for the game-winner.
North Attleboro, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames junior Colin Milliken converted a penalty kick in the first half to help the Tigers secure a shutout win over the visiting Rocketeers. Drew Nickla made four saves to record his third shutout of the season. Matt Nikiciuk had a strong game in the midfield for OA while Matt Nosalek, Jon Freeman, Harry Ahearn, and Brady deVos anchored the defense.
Attleboro, 7 @ Stoughton, 3 – Final – Briley Harnois scored three goals and added an assist and Isabella Salviati had a goal and two assists, as the Bombardiers scored five goals in the second half to pull out the win. Harnois opened the scoring in the third minute, but the Black Knights responded with three straight goals to grab the lead. Katherine Dennehy brought Attleboro back within one before the break. The Bombardiers grabbed the lead for good with three goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Harnois scored from Salviati and then the combo switched places to make it 4-3 before Harnois completed her hat trick in the 49th minute. Ashley Macia and Cassondra Stuger each scored to put the game away for the visitors. Attleboro coach Steve Santos said, “Totally different second half. We settled the ball down, had some good combinations and made some great runs.” Stoughton’s Shayla Ford, Mackenzie Manning, and Ashley Camilo each scored once for Stoughton.
Taunton, 0 @ Foxboro, 9 – Final – Four different Foxboro players scored in the opening half to build a 4-0 lead by the break, and the Warriors added five more in the second half for the win. Sophomore Kailee McCabe had a hat trick to lead the offense while Jordyn Collins had two goals and an assist. Olivia Nicholson, Caroline Rongione, Reagan Buckley, and Katelyn Mollica all scored once for Foxboro while Alyssa VandenBoom had an assist.
King Philip, 5 @ Milford, 1 – Final – The Warriors and Hawks traded early goals but King Philip scored four unanswered to get the win. Avery Snead (on a cross from Chloe Layne) put KP up under two minutes in before Milford’s Ashleigh Starks scored off a corner kick from Maddie Boyle to make it 1-1. Jenny Montville scored twice in a four-minute span, one set up by Layne and the other by Snead, to give KP a 3-1 lead at halftime. Layne scored her first of the contest on a through ball from Ally Stanton, and Stanton scored in the final 10 minutes off a corner from Makayla Griffin. KP’s defensive core of Olivia Berry, Paige Varvarigos, Taryn Greenberg, Grace Lawler, and Griffin had a strong showing.
Oliver Ames, 4 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. The Tigers scored three goals in the first half to take control of the game and stayed unbeaten on the season. Erin Holmberg scored from Camryn O’Connor to put OA ahead inside the opening 10 minutes and then Lauren Sellmayer scored twice off of Holmberg corners to put the Tigers well ahead before halftime. North starting goalie Regan Fein made a pair of diving saves to keep North within three goals. O’Connor scored OA’s fourth goal on a rebound after North back-up keeper Caitlin Echeverri made a stop on Holmberg. The Rocketeers got on the board with a nice move in the closing minutes. Alex Moulson found space on the right and her low cross was side-footed in by Olivia Wills. Summer Doherty and Lydia Hershey played well in the back for North while Lily Adams and Caroline Ferrin had strong showings in the midfield.
Foxboro, 2 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Stoughton goalie Kayla Laboy made an incredible 30 saves but Foxboro was able to earn the win on the road. Jenny Gallagher scored her first goal and Jaime Notarangelo added another for the Warriors.
Sharon, 0 @ Canton, 7 – Final
North Attleboro, 0 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip earned a 3-0 (25-12, 25-20, 25-20) sweep of North Attleboro in a non-league contest. The Warriors had a strong day at the service line as Emma Brooks (nine digs) notches seven aces, Lily Carlow (six digs, two kills) added six aces, and Ali McNamara had four aces. Nicole Coughlan slammed down a team-high 11 kills while Catherine Waldeck added 10 kills.
Oliver Ames, 3 @ Bridgewater-Raynham, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames took care of business at home with a 3-0 (25-8, 25-19, 25-16) sweep of visiting Bridgewater-Raynham. Junior Jordan Bennett had a strong all-around game with five kills and two blocks. Allie Kemp finished with 35 assists and eight aces, and Jordan Bossed added 15 kills and four aces.
Taunton, 3 vs. Durfee, 0 – Final – Taunton’s defense had a strong day to help the Tigers break into the win column with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-21) win over visiting Durfee. Fabiana Pereira had 16 digs, Kailara Andrade added 10 digs, and Shea Pimental finished with eight digs in the win. Hailey Sullivan, Mikayla Cleary, Alyssa Turcotte, and Ella Dunderdale each had seven kills to pace the offense.
Attleboro, 177 @ King Philip, 153 – Final
North Attleboro, 180 @ Franklin, 154 – Final – Franklin junior Jack Paterson concluded the week with his fourth medalist round, this time shooting a team-low 36 to capture co-medalist honors. Quinten Faro also fired a 36 for the Panthers, who got a 39 out of Pat Dolan and a 43 from Brian Sandham. Jillian Barend shot a team-low 43 for the Rocketeers while Jake Gaskin carded a round of 44.
Game of the Week – Football
North Attleboro, 7 @ King Philip, 25 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (NA) Tyler DeMattio 9-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.
2nd Quarter: (KP) Robbie Jarest 54-yard pass to Alex Behling, XP no good.
3rd Quarter: (KP) R. Jarest 20-yard pass to A. Behling, Conversion no good.
4th Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 3-yard rush, Conversion no good; (KP) R. Halliday 27-yard rush, Dylan Conti XP good.
Canton, 28 vs. Dighton-Rehoboth, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 7 yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good; (C) Johnny Hagan 37 yard pass to David Allen, O. Lehane XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (C) K. Fitzgerald 20 yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
4th Quarter: (C) Gersom Rivera 4 yard rush, O. Lehane XP good; (DR) Jared Ramos 1 yard rush, Adam Peirera XP good.
Mansfield, 31 vs. BC High, 10 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (M) Cincere Gill 29 yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good; (BCH) Cormac Kennelly 25 yard field goal good.
2nd Quarter: (M) M. DeBolt 26 yard field goal good.
3rd Quarter: (M) C. Gill 64 yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) Jack Moussette 48 yard pass to M. DeBolt, M. DeBolt XP good; (BCH) Bobby Wiesenhahn 34 yard pass to Louis Timmins, C. Kennelly XP good; (M) M. DeBolt 79 yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
Sharon, 14 vs. Nauset, 33 – Final
Taunton, 13 vs. New Bedford, 24 – Final
Mansfield, 0 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – Foxboro senior Dylan Barreira converted a penalty kick in the first half for the goal of the game.
Taunton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – North Attleboro’s James Sales scored on a penalty kick in the 5th minute to give the Rocketeers two points in their season opener. Taunton’s Colton Madeira, Riley Rebello, and Shane Froio played well defensively in front of Nolan Melo (seven saves).
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Junior Colin Milliken picked up where he left off last season, scoring twice and adding one assist to lead the Tigers to a win on the road. Senior Nick Farley netted his first career goal and assist in the win for the Tigers, who also got goals from Jimmy Keane and freshman Hector Bucio. Ben Cohen and Dillon Cupples each had assists.
Canton, 2 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – Briley Harnois scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner with nine minutes left to play, helping Attleboro start the season with a victory. Kat Dennehy scored the first goal for the Bombardiers. Ashley Macia played well in goal, according to head coach Steve Santos, who called the win a “great team effort.”
Foxboro, 2 @ Mansfield, 0 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Jordyn Collins scored a second half brace to lift the Warriors to a win in the battle of last season’s league champions. Foxboro dominated the ball throughout the game, holding the Hornets without a shot on goal. Collins hit the post in the first half, but opened the scoring 12 minutes after the break when she was played through by sophomore Jordan Carman. In the final minutes, Collins wrapped up the points when Lizzy Davis hit a free kick from inside her own half that was allowed to bounce just outside the Mansfield penalty area. Collins outran two defenders and slipped a shot inside the post.
Milford, 1 @ Franklin, 2 – Final – Despite Milford controlling large portions of the game and pressured the Panthers, goals by Sydney St. Marie and Stella Regan (assisted by Carly Alston) lifted the hosts to a win in the season opener.
Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 9 – Final
North Attleboro, 4 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Alex Moulson scored twice and assisted on the other two goals to lead the Rocketeers to a division win. Moulson opened the scoring in the 12th minute on a free kick and then she doubled the lead on an assist by Ari Rice. Abi Slaney scored a second half goal off a Moulson corner and the Olivia Wills followed suit minutes later. Regan Fein held a clean sheet for 70 minutes and Caitlin Echeverri finished the final 10 minutes. North coach Bill Wallace said that Lily Cameron, Steph McKenna, and Alex Hardy were strong in North’s transition game and Lydia Hershey and Collette Petit were strong in the back line.
Stoughton, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 6 – Final – Stoughton scored first but Oliver Ames knotted the score before halftime and scored six straight to get the win. Freshman Jenna Gilman scored four goals for the Tigers while Erin Holmberg (assist) scored twice. Allison Evin, Katie Gibson, Catie Wilson, and Cam O’Connor each had an assist for OA. Stoughton freshman Shayla Ford put the Black Knights ahead before OA cashed in with a flurry of goals before half. Freshman Emma Tremblay had a strong game defensively for Stoughton, Mackenzie Manning was strong in center mid, and senior Briana Buckley played well in net.
Canton, 1 @ Norwood, 2 – Final
North Attleboro, 171 @ Foxboro, 169 – Final – Foxboro’s Dylan Quinn carded six pars, finishing with a team-low round of 41 to lead the Warriors to a close win over North. Matt Fosella (four pars) added a 42 while Noah Hicks (two pars) and Matt Lathrop (three pars) both shot 43. North Attleboro’s Jillian Barend was the match medalist, shooting a low round of 40.
Canton had its best season in recent memory a year ago, but the 2019 squad is aiming to take it one step further.
With starters back at almost every position, Canton is aiming to defend its Davenport division title and get back to the sectional final for the second straight season. Johnny Hagan is back under center this season and has all of his weapons back. The Bulldogs ran a mix of Wing-T and spread offense a year ago so Hagan is comfortable running whatever is needed this year. Kyle Fitzgerald, Gersom Rivera, and Cam Sanchez are all talented backs that can help grind down opposing defenses while Hagan makes a lot of plays with his feet as well. Jace Emma was one of Hagan’s favorite targets last year and he will be joined by David Allen as options in the passing game. The offensive line will be anchored by senior Jack Connolly, who missed a good amount of last season with an injury. Matt Connolly, Derrell Brown, and Lucas Bryant return to the line as well while Carson Campbell and Brandon Baran are in the mix for the final spot.
A lot of the same names will make plays on the defensive end as well with Jack Connolly and Matt Connolly teaming up with Nnamdi Onyemelukwe to provide size on the line. The strength of the defense will once again be with the linebackers as the Bulldogs have James Murphy back in the middle alongside junior Lucas Ragusa. Owen Lehane and Robbie Gallery both had strong seasons coming from the outside. The entire secondary is back for the Bulldogs with Rivera and Sanchez handle the corners and Fitzgerald and Allen provide physicality from the safety spots. And for special teams, Lehane handles kicking duties, Allen returns as the punter, and Rivera and Fitzgerald handle return duties. The Bulldogs will look to build some depth with so many two-way players in the lineup.
“We have a lot of experience with a lot of guys that have played at this level, and we had the playoff run so that should definitely help us down the road,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “We are focused on Dighton-Rehoboth, focusing on one game at a time. We have a lot of competitors that don’t quit.”
Foxboro’s biggest win of the season came in its final game, a thrilling overtime win over rival Mansfield at Fenway Park two days before Thanksgiving. If the Warriors are able to carry any of that momentum into the 2019 season, Foxboro will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport division title.
The Warriors return a good amount of talent from last year but will need to find a replacement for Liam Foley, who came on strong at the end of last season. Senior Shayne Kerrigan and junior Cam Prescott have both taken reps this preseason so longtime coach Jack Martinelli and his staff will have two good options to work with under center. Last year’s leading rusher Mike Luong also graduated so there will be an opportunity for someone to take on carries out of the backfield. The Warriors have good skill options in Brian Derba (three touchdown catches last year) and split ends Elijah Lewis and Ryan Hughes. Foxboro has some experience on the line as well as Zach Jenkins and Aidan Dow are both returning starters at the guard position.
Foxboro’s defense has returning players at all three levels so the Warriors will likely rely on that side of the ball, especially early on against two strong non-league foes. Anton George, a HockomockSports Hock 5 selection for defensive line, is back and will be a force to deal with for opponents. Austin Read will be key in Foxboro’s run defense from the defensive tackle spot. Mike Sheehan returns to anchor the linebackers group after a standout junior season. The secondary should be one of the top units in the league with a lot of experienced playmakers. Derba and Kerrigan made a lot of plays defensively last year and Michael Devlin could be poised for a big year for the Warriors.
“With a challenging scrimmage schedule and formidable non-league opponents, we should be prepared for the Hock grind,” Martinelli said “We have several key components returning to make this possible, but it’s one game at a time.”
Milford just missed out on the playoffs last season but the 2019 Scarlet Hawks are determined to get back to postseason play.
There is a lot of experience on both sides of the ball, and maybe most importantly, at key positions both offensively and defensively. The Hawks have Colby Pires back at quarterback after a big junior season that saw him toss 22 touchdowns, second most in the Hockomock League. But the challenge will be developing chemistry with a brand new set of receivers. Brendan White (12), Sean Lehane (5), and Shapel Feaster (5) all graduated so Milford is looking for new names to step up and make plays offensively. Junior Carter Scudo is a terrific athlete and will be one of the top options while Max Martin, Matt Varteresian, Herrick Louis, Kevin O’Connor, and Xavier Hilton are all battling to get reps on the field. Milford does bring back its leading rusher in Luke Rosa (seven rushing touchdowns), a very powerful back that will help the Hawks pound the ball. Juniors Nick Yohn, Dom Schofield, Mario Lee, and Dom Stallbaum provide a physical yet athletic offensive line.
The linebackers will be the heart of the Hawks’ defense this season. CJ Cerrella had a breakout junior year and will be on the top linebackers in the Hockomock League this season. He will be joined by Rosa, Louis, and O’Connor. A lot of the offensive line will see action on the defensive side of the ball as well while Scudo returns as a top defensive back at the safety position. Look for Martin, Varteresian, and Hilton to factor into the secondary as well for Milford this season.
“We have a very focused, determined, and excited team this season,” said head coach Anthony Vizakis. “They are a hard working group of guys with their eyes on one goal, one mission, and they are determined to do it together.”
The Rocketeers have won four straight league titles, the last three in the Davenport division, and will be looking to make it five straight this year.
If North Attleboro does make it five straight, they will need some new players to step up into new roles to do so. The Big Red graduated a lot of talent in almost every position but the Rocketeers are a program that doesn’t rebuild, they reload. The strength of the offensive will start with the offensive line as there are three returning starters. Ethan Mottinger (6’6, 294), who committed to UMass over the offseason, and John Kummer (5’11, 256) man the tackle positions while Ethan Friberg (6’5, 252) adds additional protection from the tight end position. Senior Casey Poirier, junior Matt Penta, and sophomore Tyler DeMattio are locked in a healthy battle at quarterback with each bringing a unique skill set to the offense. North lost almost all of its skill position players but there are a variety of versatile junior backs battling for time. Friberg, Russell Dunlap, and Robbie Donovan will be options in the passing game.
The strong suit of the Rocketeers’ defense will be in the front seven with several returning lineman and senior captain Tom O’Neill anchoring the linebackers. Friberg will be on one end while Montrel Jackson will see time at the other defensive end position. Kummer is joined by Trevor Hewett at defensive tackle to give North a strong, experienced defensive line. Owen Harding and Jacob Silva are in the mix to join O’Neill at linebacker while North will look for some new names to step up in its secondary alongside Jared and Matt Penta. DeMattio returns as the kicker after a standout freshmen campaign (32-for-35 PAT, 3-for-4 field goals).
“We will need to find a way to stay healthy and quickly develop some depth,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “With the inexperience in the skill positions, we expect there to be some early growing pains, but we are hopeful that the great attitude and work ethic that has been displayed in the preseason will help us overcome the lack of experience.”
Sharon might not have as many players as some of the other programs in the league and might not match up in terms of size, but the Eagles have plenty of fight and are looking to showcase that this year.
The Eagles are going to look to capitalize on their team speed this year. Junior Nic Morrero was strong on both sides of the ball last season and will likely feature in the backfield this season for the Eagles. John Saab is another returning play that should pick up carries for the Eagles this year. Junior Kiran Chadrasekaran looks set to take over under center for the Eagles and will have a couple of experienced players to work with in senior receiver Alec Filipkowski and junior tight end Ike Ogbonnanze while junior receiver Owen Conway will likely see an expanded role this season.
Senior Jaden Williams-Thomas returns to anchor both the offensive and defensive lines and will be joined by junior Shea Letendre. Williams-Thomas will handle defensive tackle duties and should be a big part of the Eagles’ defense this year. Marrero anchors the linebackers alongside Saab and Ogbonnanze while Filipkowski and Conway will see time in the secondary.
“We have a great group of relentless players that have the right attitude and understand that they have a ton to prove,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Stoughton didn’t have the season it wanted in terms of record, but the Black Knights were competitive in just about every game last year and are hoping to get back in the hunt for the Davenport crown this year.
Despite finishing 4-7, Stoughton beat both Davenport champions in North Attleboro (21-10) and Canton (28-7 on Thanksgiving) during the year. If the Black Knights are able to string together those type of performances throughout the year, they will definitely be competing for their first division crown since 2015. Offensively, Stoughton has a good battle at quarterback with junior John Burke and senior Clayton Rahaman. Both saw time last year so head coach Greg Burke has two experienced options to start under center. The offensive line should be a strength for Stoughton with a good group of seniors that includes Oluwole Fabikun, Jaden McCall, Carlvin LaGuerre, and Jerry Brisson. Having a strong and experienced line will set things up nicely for the Black Knights strong run game, which will feature Savion Scott, Christopher Ais, and Christian Ais. Tight end Anthony Pizzano, junior Jake Queeney, and track star David Peters will provide options in the pass game.
Stoughton is often known for its defense and will be looking for that to continue during the 2019 season. Kelven Rodrigues will be a big part of the defensive line for the Black Knights, joined by Brisson, LaGuerre, and Fabikun. Georges had a very strong season on the end last season but will mostly line up as a linebacker this year, alongside Scott and Christopher Ais. Stoughton will have a hard hitting secondary once again this season with Burke, Pizzano, Christian Ais and Kamari Grant all likely to see time.
“We hope to stay healthy and be competitive in the league, all of our athletes improved their strength and conditioning,” Burke said. “We have many juniors also playing and will be a big part of the team. We will need help from all players and try to improve depth.”
King Philip senior Sam Callanan could be poised for a breakout season as a vital piece of the Warriors’ defense. The bar has been set for the three-time defending South Sectional champs but King Philip did graduate a good amount of its top players from last year’s defensive unit. Callanan will bring experience to the King Philip defensive group and, as a captain, will be relied upon for his leadership both on and off the field. Last year, Callanan had a lot of success coming off the edge, using his speed to get past the offensive line and be disruptive in the backfield. He does a nice job of reading the play and using his speed to track down the play. He’s a versatile player that does a nice job in coverage as well, giving the Warriors some flexibility on defense.
Taunton senior defensive lineman Woudanly Danger lives up to his name, giving the Tigers a force at the line of scrimmage that opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers need to watch out for on every play. Danger had 30 tackles and three sacks from his tackle position, despite regularly facing double teams and blocking schemes designed to try and contain him. He also had 9-1/2 tackles for loss, helping the Tigers finish 2018 with a winning record and build momentum for a run at a playoff spot this fall. Strong and quick, Danger brings his wrestling background to the gridiron, finding ways to gain leverage, clog holes, and get into the backfield. With Danger back in the middle of the line, Taunton’s defense has a solid foundation and could be the strength of the team this season.
Canton senior Kyle Fitzgerald could easily have been on the Players to Watch list for offense as well because the running back and defensive back had a breakout season on both sides of the ball to help the Bulldogs secure a share of the league title for the first time in nearly three decades. Fitzgerald’s speed and his versatility made him a weapon on offense (16 touchdowns), but also made him a tenacious member of the Canton secondary. He recorded 41 tackles, had two interceptions, and recovered a pair of fumbles. A ballhawk, who gives the Bulldogs a solid cover guy on the corner but who can also step up and stop the run, Fitzgerald will be a key to Canton’s defense this season and one of the reasons that the Bulldogs have confidence that they can win back-to-back titles for the first time since winning a fifth straight in 1981.
Foxboro’s Anton George seemed to play better and better throughout the 2018 campaign and will be looking to carry that into 2019 for the Warriors. A HockomockSports.com Hock 5 selection for defensive line, George is a disrupter and we mean that in a good way. He had 62 tackles last season, including five sacks and 11 quarterback hurries — simply put, he was a handful to deal with. He forced a pair of fumbles and deflected a pair of passes as well. A captain this year, George will be looking to anchor Foxboro back to the playoffs. The combination of speed and size helps set him apart from others and makes him a tough matchup for opposing tackles.
The term playmaker is often used when talking about players on the offensive side of the ball, but Stoughton junior Christian Georges does it on the defensive end. Georges made a big splash as a sophomore, playing mostly as a defensive end but also a little time at outside linebacker. He has the strength to power his way past opponents but is also a very quick player and can use his speed to get around. That combination made him a tough match-up last season as he recorded 58 tackles (including 20 for a loss), six sacks, eight pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. He will likely line up at linebacker this season so the Black Knights will rely on him heavily to continue to make plays. He does a great job of tracking the play and then coming up to make the play. Stoughton is typically known for its defense and Georges could be one of the top players in that group.
Mansfield junior lineman TJ Guy, the 2018 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, returns on the edge of the Hornets defensive line after a dominant first season on varsity. Guy, who was also in the running for Underclassman of the Year in basketball, had 30 tackles, including 10 solo stops, and was second on the team with seven tackles for loss. His quickness and athleticism at defensive end allowed him to set the edge, take up blockers, and open spaces for Mansfield’s talented linebacking corps. He was also part of an offensive line that opened up holes for the Mansfield ground game, which amassed more than 2,600 yards last season. With expectations sky-high at Alumni Field this fall, Guy is one of the main reasons that this Hornets defensive unit is drawing rave reviews.
One of the premier linebackers in the state, Mansfield senior Vinnie Holmes will close out his record-breaking career with the Hornets as one of the leading candidates for MVP in the Kelley-Rex division this season. Holmes has already eclipsed the 200-tackle mark for his two-year varsity career, was named the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, and has developed into a sideline-to-sideline presence for the Hornets defense. He is one of those players who seems to be in the middle of every play, no matter where on the field it ends up. Holmes had 92 tackles as a junior, including 41 solo, and led Mansfield with 10 tackles for loss. He added three sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries, not to mention eight touchdowns as a running back. Opposing offenses know that they have to account for Holmes, one of the top defensive playmakers in the league, on every single play, and his tenacity drives one of the league’s most complete defensive units.
If you go to a Milford football game this year, one name you’re probably going to hear a lot from the announcer is Luke Rosa. A two-way starter, Rosa was one of the Hawks’ top players last season and earned captain this year. On the defensive side, Rosa lines up at linebacker and is at his best when he’s attacking the ball carrier. He reads the offense really well and does a nice job of finding the gap and is among the top tacklers in the league. Even if it looks like there’s someone to block for the back, Rosa has shown the ability to fight through the first line and get to either the back or quarterback. Offensively, he’s one of the more versatile backs in the league and does everything well. He has great vision with the ball in his hands and can also sneak out and catch a pass in the screen game. Look for Rosa to have a big year on both sides of the ball this year.
Attleboro junior linebacker Michael Strachan is the rare football player who has been on varsity since his freshman season. He enters his second year as a starter in the Bombardiers defense as a highly-recruited prospect and as the team’s leading tackler from 2018. Strachan led Attleboro with more than 80 stops last season and is poised for an even bigger year in the middle of an experienced corps of linebackers. He is also a dangerous weapon at tight end for the Attleboro offense, taking advantage of his size and athleticism to create matchup challenges for opponents. The Bombardiers didn’t finish 2018 the way that they would have hoped, but with Strachan back in the middle behind a big defensive line, Attleboro will be hoping to replicate the 4-1 start they had last year and the meager five points per game that they allowed during that dominant stretch.
Franklin senior linebacker Evan Wertz has been a dominant presence in the heart of the Panthers defense, having already set program records by racking up huge tackle totals every week. Wertz had 122 tackles in 11 games last season (a remarkable 11 per game), including 45 solo stops and 10 tackles for loss. He can also drop into coverage, recording three pass breakups and an interception. Just like Mansfield’s Vinnie Holmes, wherever the ball goes Wertz is there, ranging from sideline to sideline and covering as much ground as any linebacker in the Hock. The Panthers nearly stunned powerhouse Xaverian in the playoffs last season and that has ramped up the momentum and expectations coming into this year. With Wertz leading the defense, Franklin will hope that they can push for the Kelley-Rex title and another long tournament run.
Canton, 65 vs. Bishop Feehan, 59 – Final – Canton scored 20 points in each the second and third quarters, the latter helping the Bulldogs build a double-digit lead heading into the final quarter. Bishop Feehan made a late push but the Bulldogs were able to hold the lead they built. The Shamrocks led 16-13 after one but Canton led 34-30 at half, and 54-38 going into the fourth. Senior Devin Foster scored a game-high 27 points and junior Kyle Fitzgerald added 10 of his 17 points in the third quarter.
Foxboro, 50 vs. Boston Latin, 48 – Final – For the second straight game, Foxboro hit a buzzer-beating three to get a win. This time, it was senior Anthony Mollica (10 points) hitting a triple off a feed from Brandon Borde (eight points) to give the Warriors a win. Boston Latin led 42-39 heading into the fourth, and extended that lead to 46-39 with five minutes to go. Foxboro was able to hold Boston Latin to just six points in the final quarter, finishing the game with a 11-2 run. Sophomore Kevin Gallagher had a team-high 15 points while junior Ryan Hughes added 11 points.
King Philip, 79 @ Dartmouth, 59 – Final – King Philip scored 23 points in each the first and second quarters, building a 46-32 lead by halftime, and never looked back to grab the win. Senior Bruce Saintilus had a team-high 22 points, junior Alex Fritz netted 21 points, and senior Tyler Nault dropped a career-high 15 points for the Warriors.
Oliver Ames, 69 @ Walpole, 41 – Final – Oliver Ames outscored Walpole 22-8 in the second quarter to create a large lead at halftime that it never relinquished. The Tigers led 15-11 after eight minutes but then exploded for 22 points to go up 37-18 at the break. Eight different players scored in the second for OA, with Sean O’Brien, Owen Friel, and Michael Greene each connecting on a three. Ethan Eckstrom had a team-high 17 points for the Tigers, which had 13 players score. Ryan Burkett added eight points and Amari Brown finished with seven points.
Foxboro, 61 vs. Hoosac Valley, 48 – Final – Chelsea Gibbons scored a career-high 26 points to help Foxboro retain the title at the Warrior Classic and put the defending state champs in position to be the top seed in Div. 2 South again this season. Katelyn Mollica added 18 points for the Warriors and Lizzy Davis shut down Hoosac Valley’s top scorer, holding her to only five points.
Stoughton, 56 vs. Brockton, 49 – Final – Stoughton closed out its old gym with a non-league victory. Aliyah Wright scored 13 points and Sydnee Hyacinthe added 12 as the Black Knights ended the season on a high note. Lexi Baptista also chipped in with nine points off the bench.
Taunton, 65 @ Durfee, 51 – Final – Taunton trailed by 11 at half but exploded for 44 second half points to stun Durfee. The Hilltoppers led 33-21 after 16 minutes of play before the Tigers rallied to grab the win. Sonya Fernandez scored a team-high 18 points, Alexa White added 13 points, Jaelyn Fernandez had 12 points, Kyanna Barros chipped in with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Abby Souza scored nine for the Tigers.
Canton, 3 vs. Boston Latin, 2 – Final (OT) – Canton junior Johnny Hagan netted the tying goal and then scored the game-winner in overtime for the Bulldogs. Hagan scored with 1:16 left in the game to help the Bulldogs salvage a tie for MIAA purposes, staying unbeaten on season. For Joe Quinn Memorial Tournament purposes, the game went into 4-on-4 overtime and Hagan tipped in a shot from Jack Connolly to get the win and advance to the finals on Thursday at 7:30.
Stoughton, 1 vs. Nauset, 5 – Final – Stoughton goalie Thomas McCoy had an outstanding goal in net but the Black Knights lost to visiting Nauset. McCoy turned away 32 shots for Stoughton while Sean Doherty scored the goal on an assist from Luke Bainton.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Locked in a defensive battle, the North Attleboro and Canton boys basketball teams spent the majority of the fourth quarter in a one-possession game.
For the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter, only one minute of it was spent with Canton holding more than a one-possession lead. And for a three and a half minute stretch, neither side could make a move to either pull away or erase the deficit.
North Attleboro senior Josh Montague converted a tough layup to bring the Rocketeers within three at 41-38 with just over four minutes left in the game. Canton had plenty of chances to pull away, but the Rocketeers wouldn’t allow it.
Over the next three and a half minutes, Canton went 0-for-5 from the field, leaving the lead at just three points and the door open for the Rocketeers.
But while Canton’s offense sputtered, its defense continued to force the Rocketeers into tough shots. North Attleboro didn’t fare any better in the stretch, going 0-for-3 from the field, missed the front end of a one-and-one, and had three turnovers.
Despite the lack of success for North, it’s defense also kept them in the game, and the Rocketeers trailed by three the under a minute to go.
It wasn’t until Canton forced a turnover off an inbounds play and with just under 20 seconds to go in the game, the Bulldogs turned to the man who had carried them virtually the entire game: senior Devin Foster.
Foster made a cut through the lane and took a feed from Kyle Fitzgerald and laid it in for a five-point lead. And to seal the deal, Foster stepped in to take a charge on North’s next possession to get the ball back.
With the 43-38 victory, Canton clinches sole possession of the Davenport division title. It marks the second straight year the Bulldogs have won the division.
“It was a strange game because of the flow of it, or lack of flow to it,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “It was kind of a unique game. We had a really bad first quarter, giving up 18 points but then we held them to 20 points the rest of the way. And they are a good team, they have bigs, they have shooters. For us to be able to hold a good team like that through the final three quarters is big for us. It was a defensive battle, a classic Davenport division game.”
Foster’s last bucket was just the cherry on top of a terrific performance. The senior guard scored all of Canton’s eight points in the final quarter, and accounted for 19 of the team’s 22 points in the second half. Foster finished with 29 points and five rebounds.
“They were switching, and we knew that coming in, so we drew some plays up to try and get him some easier baskets and put him in different matchups that we felt we could take advantage of,” Gordy said. “So the gameplan kind of just went that way. And the other thing is our road woes. Over the last three years, we’re much better at home than on the road. Devin has been great both at home and on the road but we have to get everybody else playing like they do at home.”
North Attleboro’s offense came out strong, scoring 18 points in the opening quarter. But it fizzled from there as the Rocketeers managed just 20 points over the final three quarters, going just 2-for-18 from three point range for the game. The Rocketeers opened by hitting eight of their first 11 shots from the field but managed just six field goals on 31 attempts over the final 24 minutes.
“I’m proud of the effort, but, defensively obviously Foster is a handful,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “We tried a couple of different things and he found ways to make plays and make shots. Ultimately we just didn’t down enough good looks, some great looks. I’m proud that we got those looks, we’ve knocked them down the last couple of games but tonight, for whatever reason, we just didn’t knock enough down shots. Holding them to 43 is good but scoring 38 isn’t enough.”
The teams combined for just 14 points in the second quarter. Sophomore George Ladd (10 points, nine rebounds) scored the first three points for the Rocketeers while Nate Gonsalves hit a pair of free throws. For Canton, Fitzgerald drained a three, Robbie Gallery added a free throw, and Foster scored four straight to get the Bulldogs within two, 23-21, at halftime.
The Bulldogs seemed to make a concerted effort to get Foster the ball in the third quarter, and the senior delivered. After Fitzgerald hit a three to open the frame for the Bulldogs, Foster scored the next 11 for Canton.
He followed Fitzgeralds three with a triple of his own and drove to the basket for two more for a 29-25 lead. Foster and North’s Jake Petersen traded two points apiece before Foster hit back-to-back shots for a 35-28 advantage, the largest lead of the night for Canton.
“They made some more significant changes defensively at halftime,” Mulkerrins said. “They defended our sets pretty well, they did a better job of closing down our driving lanes. In the third quarter, we didn’t get as many looks. In the second and fourth quarter, we got the looks but if you don’t capitalize on them you won’t win the game.”
Josh Porter and Montague connected on back-to-back chances to bring North Attleboro within three heading into the final quarter.
Nate Gonsalves got North within two early and a pair of free throws from Joe MiloshCanton boys basketball (9-6 Hockomock, 11-8 overall) concludes its league schedule when it hosts Milford on Friday night. North Attleboro (6-9, 8-9) hits the road to take on Foxboro on the same night.