Rocketeers Edge King Philip in Season-Opening Thriller

North Attleboro football
North senior Brendan McHugh (29) scored a pair of touchdowns, including one with 1:33 left in the game to lift the Rocketeers to a 14-7 win.

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – One team came into the game having won three straight league titles, making a Super Bowl appearance, and was inaugurating a new turf field, while the other team came in after back-to-back league and state titles and was riding a 25-game win streak. These were the two most successful programs in the Hockomock League over the last two seasons.

It was a game that was destined to come down to one play; to be decided by inches. That was exactly what happened.

Brendan McHugh broke a few tackles and tiptoed down the sideline to put North Attleboro in front for good with 1:33 remaining in the fourth quarter but King Philip drove inside the Rocketeers red zone and had two shots at the end zone before a last second pass was broken up at the goal line. North held on for the 14-7 victory to christen the newly-upgraded Raymond E. Beaupre Field and hand KP its first defeat since the penultimate game of 2015.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I have no idea what happened,” McHugh admitted when asked about the game-winning touchdown. “I was staring at the ground and I thought I was going to fall, but I just stayed on my feet and just got to the end zone. I was close but I wasn’t out of bounds.”

When asked what this win meant for the team, he replied, “My senior year, we wanted to get them and we got them. So much confidence, that’s a hell of a team, that defense is legit and we grinded out a win.”

It was a battle of attrition, which both coaches had expected coming into the game. Both defenses were in control and both offense were finding their feet with a number of new faces. In the end, both coaches saw the positive from facing tough competition to kick off a new season.

“They came to play today against a very, very good team,” said KP coach Brian Lee. He joked, “I don’t know why we thought of playing them instead of scheduling someone easy a long time ago, but the truth is we learned so much about our team tonight. Playing a team like that in these conditions, they grew up fast tonight.”

North coach Don Johnson added, “We had to earn it. We had to work hard and earn it on both sides of the football. I think it’s a good confidence booster for those guys who are playing in their first game tonight.”

North took the lead just before the end of the first quarter with an eight-play, 67-yard drive. Senior quarterback Nick Raneri got the Rocketeers going with a 34-yard keeper that moved the ball down to the KP 29. Three plays later, Raneri barely eked out two yards on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Two plays after that, McHugh took a jet sweep to the right side of the line and was untouched for a 16-yard score.

The Rocketeers scored with 19 seconds left in the first. The Warriors scored 19 seconds later. Junior tailback Ryan Halliday (22 carries, 181 yards) bounced back from a fumble on his first carry of the game, bursting through the left side of the line, keeping his feet despite a diving attempt at a tackle by Luke LaBonte, and racing 80 yards for the tying score.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

KP tried to keep the momentum going when senior corner Deric Casado made a highlight-reel, one-handed interception right in front of his bench, but the North defense was just as strong, forcing a three and out.

The game stayed tied coming out of halftime. KP started the half by continuing to put the ball into the hands of its new workhorse back, running Halliday into the North defensive line that was led by senior Ryan Clemente and junior Trevor Hewett.

North finally managed a long drive against the KP defense at the end of the third quarter with Raneri narrowly missing Ethan Friberg in the end zone after the junior got free down the seam.

“We felt pretty confident on that one and I think Raneri saw him so wide open that he just didn’t get enough on the football,” Johnson said of the missed opportunity. “He lofted it instead of just putting it on his hands and it seemed to take forever to come down.”

On the first play of the fourth quarter, freshman kicker Tyler DeMattio missed a 32-yard kick wide left and the game remained even.

KP’s next drive stalled at its own 46 after a holding call on third down. Cole Baker’s punt drove Ryan Gaumond back to his own 10, but the North senior scrapped for 24 yards on the return to give North at least a little cushion with which to start the drive.

After working a first down near midfield, North turned to McHugh (16 carries, 95 yards) again. The senior went for six yards to the right and then broke a sweep to the left for 14 yards down to the KP 33. After a timeout, McHugh took the ball around the left side in front of his own bench and the Warriors appeared to have him wrapped up only to stop thinking he had gone out of bounds. McHugh kept going, inches from the sideline for the go-ahead score.

“He’s that kind of guy,” Johnson said of McHugh. “He doesn’t even know he’s doing it half the time but he’s a threat to break anything at any time so there are times we say just give it to McHugh because he can create so much on his own.”

The Warriors took advantage of a new rule on the ensuing kickoff, calling a fair catch inside the 10 and automatically getting the ball at the 25. Junior Robbie Jarest rolled out to the far side and hit David Morganelli for 12 yards. Andy DeMattio nearly had a game-ending interception but could not hold on and the drive extended on a pass interference call on third down.

A 10-yard screen pass to Casado was followed by a 21-yard pass to Morganelli and suddenly KP was down to the North 17-yard-line with and the clock was stopped with eight seconds remaining. A false start backed KP up five yards, but Jarest just missed Morganelli in the back of the end zone on second down.

As the final horn sounded, the last gasp pass was picked off by Matt Penta at the goal line to seal the North win.

“I told them the second series is going to be better for you than the first and the third series will be better and the fourth and you settle down and confidence grows,” Lee said about what his team learned from that final drive regardless of whether or not it ended in a score. “They definitely believed they were going to win it at the end.”

North Attleboro (1-0) will be back on the Beaupre Field turf next week when it hosts rival Bishop Feehan. King Philip (0-1) will play another Davenport division team next Friday in its home opener, as Foxboro travels to Macktaz Field.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Football: 2018 Davenport Division Preview

Davenport
Canton’s Gersom Rivera and the Bulldogs will try to compete for the Davenport title this season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Davenport Football Preview

Canton

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Bohane

Key/Returning Players: Brendan Albert, Sr., HB/LB; Johnny Hagan, Jr., QB; Kyle Fitzgerald, Jr., HB/FS; Ben Seaman, Sr., OL/DL; Gersom Rivera, Jr., RB/HB; Jack Connolly, Jr., OL/DL; James Murphy, Jr., LB; Brian Campagna, Sr., OL/DL; David Allen, Jr.,SE/DB;

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.

Foxboro

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D5 South Semifinal
Coach: Jack Martinelli

Key/Returning Players: Tom Cullen, Sr., OC; Andrew Longa, Sr., OT; Liam Foley, Sr., QB; Hunter Williams, Sr., OG/LB; Mike Luong, Sr., RB; Aidan Dow, Jr., OG; Shawn Teixeira, Sr., DT; Bill McNeil, Sr., DT; Martin McElroy, Sr., LB; Russell Neale, Sr., K; Pat Stapleton, Sr., SE;

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.

Milford

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D3 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Anthony Vizakis

Key/Returning Players: Brendan White, Sr., WR/S; Ryan Pearl, Sr., QB; Josh Ligor, Sr., OL/DL; Kevin Pyne, Sr., OL/DL; Hugo Lopes, Sr., RB/S; Shapel Feaster, Sr., WR/CB; Sean Lehane, Sr., WR/K; Colby Pires, Jr., QB; Luke Rosa, Jr., RB/LB; CJ Cerella, Jr., OL/LB;

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.

North Attleboro

2017 Record: 11-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D3 State Final
Coach: Don Johnson

Key/Returning Players: Ryan Clemente, Sr., OL/DL; Nicholas Raneri, Sr., QB/RB/LB; Jonathan James, Jr., OL/DL; Jack Puccio, Sr., OL/DL; Brendan McHugh, Sr., RB/DB; Omar Jasseh, Sr., SE/DB; Ryan Gaumond, Sr., SE/DB; Ryan Boyle, Sr., RB/DB;

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.”

Sharon

2017 Record: 6-5
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Morse

Key/Returning Players: Chris Gong, Sr., WR/DB/KOR; Coleman Loftus, Sr., OL/DL; Aaron Strong, Sr., RB/DB; Jeremy Ruskin, Sr., QB; Alec Filipkowski, Jr., WR/DB/KOR; PJ McManus, Jr., WR; Kiran Chandrasekaran, Jr., DB; Nic Marrero, Jr., LB;

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.

Stoughton

2017 Record: 6-5
2015 Finish: Reached D3 South Semifinal
Coach: Greg Burke

Key/Returning Players: Jeff Grier, Sr., RB/DB; Cian Swierzewski, Sr., WR/SS; Alex Iverson, Sr., RB/LB; George Currier, Jr., QB; Matt Piana, Sr., OL/DL; Ajahn Rue, Jr., WR/DB; Josh Cocchi, Sr., CB/K; Ali Awad, Sr., OL/DL; Evan Jackman, Sr., OL/DL; Frank Derbes, Sr., TE/DL; Malachi Green-Hightower, Sr., RB/LB; John Burke, Soph., QB;

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.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 10/20/17

Today’s games are listed below.

Game of the Week – Football
Franklin, 18 @ Attleboro, 37 – Final
1st Quarter: (F) Jake Noviello 4-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, XP blocked.
2nd Quarter: (A) Cam Furtado 11-yard pass to Justin Cote, C. Furtado 2pt rush.
3rd Quarter: (A) J. Cote 7-yard rush, C. Furtado 2pt rush; (A) C. Furtado 73-yard rush, Tyler Evans XP good; (A) Joseph Llanos 3-yard rush, T. Evans XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) J. Noviello 1-yard sneak, 2pt failed; (F) J. Noviello 22-yard pass to Evan Wendell, XP blocked; (A) J. Cote 30-yard rush, T. Evans XP good.

Football
Canton, 13 @ North Attleboro, 42 – Final
1st Quarter: (NA) Chad Peterson 4-yard pass to Jonathan James, Geoff Wilson XP good.
2nd Quarter: (NA) C. Peterson 31-yard pass to Mario Bresko, G. Wilson XP good; (NA) Nick Raneri 11-yard rush, G. Wilson XP good; (NA) C. Peterson 15-yard pass to Ryan Gaumond, G. Wilson XP good.
3rd Quarter: (NA) N. Raneri 1-yard rush, G. Wilson XP good; (C) Gersom Rivera 2-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good.
4th Quarter: (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 2-yard rush, XP missed; (NA) Luke LaBonte 79-yard rush, G. Wilson XP good.

Sharon, 0 @ Foxboro, 31 – Final
1st Quarter: (F) Mike Henri 5-yard rush, Russell Neale XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) R. Neale 29-yard field goal good; (F) Devin Hassett 1-yard rush, R. Neale XP good.
3rd Quarter: (F) Phil Dure 9 yard rush, R. Neale XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) Keyshawn Sanders 1-yard rush, R. Neale XP good.

King Philip, 35 @ Taunton, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: (KP) Andrew Dittrich 44-yard interception return, Cole Baker XP good; (KP) Shane Frommer 10-yard rush, C. Baker XP good; (KP) Brendan Lydon 15-yard pass to Jack Piller, C. Baker XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (KP) B. Lydon 25-yard pass to Dylan Leonard, C. Baker XP good.
4th Quarter: (KP) A. Dittrich 103-yard interception return, C. Baker; (T) Noah Leonard 20-yard pass to Wesner Charles, John Teixeira XP good.

Oliver Ames, 6 @ Mansfield, 42 – Final
1st Quarter: (M) Vinnie Holmes 4-yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good; (M) Danny DeGirolamo 80-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; (M) Damani Scott 3-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) D. DeGirolamo 31-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; (OA) Anthony Berksza 1-yard rush, XP blocked; (M) D. Scott 39-yard pass to D. DeGirolamo, M. DeBolt XP good.
3rd Quarter: (M) Jordan Thevenot 2-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
4th Quarter: No scoring.

Stoughton, 14 @ Milford, 3 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: Justin Ly 25-yard rush, Josh Cocchi XP good.
3rd Quarter: Sean Lehane 46-yard field goal.
4th Quarter: Alex Sjoquist 3-yard rush, J. Cocchi XP good.

Field Hockey
Attleboro, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – FinalAbigail Boudreau and Grace Mayer teamed up to create a pair of goals, helping the Bombardiers earn an upset on the road at OA. Boudreau scored on an assist from Mayer, and then the two combined to set up Kyra Lyons to make it 2-0. Shealyn Harrison earned her first career shutout in the win.

Sharon, 0 @ Canton, 8 – Final

Foxboro, 7 @ Milford, 0 – Final

Franklin, 7 @ Mansfield, 2 – FinalJunior Cassi Ronan registered four points to help the Panthers roll to a big win on the road. Ronan scored a pair of goals and set up two more in a win that qualified Franklin for the state tournament. Freshman Victoria Quinn netted a pair of goals while sophomores Erin Walsh and Olivia Mazukina and freshman Amanda Lewandowski each scored once.

Taunton, 0 @ King Philip, 4 – FinalKing Philip got off to a strong start, scoring a pair of goals inside the first five and a half minutes to take down Taunton. Dana Truini, Raegan Simeone (assisted by Caroline Klim) and Liz Furfari (assisted by Christina Hathaway) scored in the first half to help the Warriors build a 3-0 lead at the break. Nicole Connor scored with just over 12 minutes left to ice the game.

Stoughton, 1 @ North Attleboro, 4 – Final

Volleyball
Attleboro, 1 @ Mansfield, 3 – FinalMansfield moved one step closer to an MIAA tournament berth with a win over visiting Attleboro (25-13, 25-16, 25-27, 25-20). The Hornets need to win two of their last three games to qualify. Meg Hill (16 kills) and Julia Harrison (15 kills, 12 service points) paced the offense while Greenly Kelly chipped in with seven kills for Mansfield.

King Philip, 2 vs. Needham, 3 – FinalIn a battle of two top teams, and in what could be a playoff preview, KP fell just short (25-21, 24-26, 25-21, 24-26, 15-17) to visiting Needham. Sydney Phillips had a standout performance, notching 29 kills and nine digs while Michaela Palumbo added 10 kills, nine service points, and three aces. Grace Ely chipped in with six kills, Julianne Rando had 11 digs and five service points and Kat Kmetz added 14 service points, five digs, two kills and two aces.

Oliver Ames, 3 vs. Brockton, 2 – FinalOliver Ames survived a marathon five-game thriller with visiting Brockton, prevailing 25-23, 24-26, 25-13, 19-25, 15-8. OAHS head coach Chelsea Cunningham said senior Emma Petrillo (12 kills, three aces, two blocks) was the player of the game. “She dominated the game offensively and executed at crucial moments in the game,” Cunningham said. Sophomore Allie Kemp added 22 assists and five aces, senior Kayla Raymond had 12 kills and three blocks, and junior Sadie Homer finished with 15 digs and a pair of aces.

Sharon, 1 vs. Norwood, 3 – Final

Taunton @ Coyle & Cassidy, 5:30