Boen Boosts Mansfield To Close Win Over Rival Franklin

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield sophomore Matty Boen (career-high 19 points) drives to the basket in the second half against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield sophomore Matty Boen has witnessed dozens of Mansfield and Franklin clashes from the stands, watching older brothers Michael and Max dawn the Hornet uniform against the rival Panthers.

Boen got a little closer to the action last season, watching all three meetings between the teams from the bench as a reserve.

Friday night was finally his turn to become part of the rivalry.

Boen came out on fire, scoring 11 of his career-high 19 points in the opening quarter, and then coming away with the game-sealing steal in the final seconds of the game to help the Hornets secure a 59-57 win over the Panthers.

“It’s crazy,” Boen said. “I kept saying to the guys in the locker room, ‘It’s so much better being out there and taking it all in.’ It’s great. I can’t be more happy than I am now.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Boen (seven rebounds) sank a pair of free throws with 1:11 left to put the Hornets up 57-54, but Franklin junior Chris Edgehill (20 points, eight rebounds, four assists) answered with a strong take to cut the deficit to one.

Mansfield sophomore TJ Guy (15 points) went 2-for-2 at the line with 22.8 left to extend the Hornets’ advantage to 59-56. Franklin called timeout with 12 seconds to go but missed a three out of the break. Edgehill grabbed the offensive board but was immediately fouled with 6.7 to go.

Edgehill hit the first one but was just off on the second, but senior Jalen Samuels (eight points, night rebounds) soared in for the offensive rebound. The Panthers moved the ball and tried to it out to Edgehill at the three-point line, but Boen read the play and tipped the pass free to secure the victory.

“Talk about an all-star performance for a sophomore,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “He comes out in the first quarter, hits big shots, gets a couple of rebounds, blocks a shot…and then the steal at the end of the game capped off his performance of what he did tonight. When I saw the loose ball, and the reversal and I saw Edgehill standing out there, I thought ‘Oh boy, we could be in trouble.’ And sure enough, Matty comes out of nowhere and gets the deflection. I’m glad he’s on my team for another three years and hats off to him for his performance.”

If had it not been for Boen’s tip, the Panthers were looking at a possible three-pointer from Edgehill, one of the top shooters in the league.

“I thought it was a great offensive rebound by Jaylen,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “We had a couple of timeouts in our pocket, but with two seconds left, if that pass goes through, it’s going to Edgehill for an open three, and we’ll take that. If we call the timeout, they can set up their defense. If that pass gets through, I’ll take that look.”

The Hornets were without the services leading scorer Damani Scott (20.4 points per game), but the offense came out on fire in the first quarter, spearheaded by Boen. Guy, Khristian Conner, and Boen hit consecutive triples to help Mansfield jump out to an early 9-4 lead. Boen had a traditional three-point play followed by a putback and then a three-pointer to push Mansfield’s advantage to 17-12 with 3:23 left in the first. Boen’s 11 points in the opening quarter matched his career-high from earlier this season against Sharon.

“In warmups, I was kind of feeling it, so I wanted to get more shots in the game,” Boen said. “I haven’t been shooting that much so far this year. With Damani out, I knew I needed to step up. We all usually feed off of Damani, so we all had to step up tonight.”

Franklin kept pace throughout the first quarter with Steve Karayan (nine points) coming off the bench to score five straight points, but a late bucket from Guy had the hosts up 25-22 at the end of one.

“I thought their offensive output in the first quarter is what really did us in,” Neely said. “We were matching them, we were playing some of our best offense of the season, but allowing 25 points in a quarter isn’t going to get it done against a team like that. We played really well defensively for three quarters, letting up 10, 14, and 10, I’ll take that here every time. It just seemed like we couldn’t hit those big shots we’ve made. We had a couple of looks that just didn’t drop. Obviously, our free throws down the stretch weren’t great. We shot well from the line overall, but we didn’t hit the key ones down the stretch. “

An early triple from Boen in the second quarter pushed Mansfield’s lead to 28-22, but both defenses seemed to settle down over the final seven minutes of the half. The Panthers limited the hosts to just seven points the rest of the way.

Jack Rudolph’s three off a nice feed from Edgehill got the Panthers on the board in the quarter at the halfway mark. Edgehill scored five straight himself to cut the deficit to one, 31-30. Mansfield responded with a 5-0 run to take a 35-30 lead into the locker room.

“I didn’t think we were tough enough in the first half,” Neely said. “I thought they were beating us to loose balls. I thought we did a much better job of that in the second half that led to transition baskets. They wanted it more, especially in the first quarter. Sometimes when you’re down a guy, other guys really step up their performance, and they did that.”

The Panthers needed just two minutes in the third quarter to orchestrate a 9-0 run to take the lead. Samuels (who was limited because of foul trouble), Edgehill, and Will Harvey (nine points) each scored two and Jake Macchi drained a corner three to put the visitors ahead 39-35. Mansfield hit back with an 8-0 run, a three from Boen and five straight from Tommy Dooling (10 points, six assists).

“Talk about a huge performance by other guys that stepped up. I don’t know how many points Tommy had but he probably logged 28-29 minutes,” Vaughan said. “He had to handle the ball, play defense, getting kids in the right position and being a good leader. Hats off to him for the way he played, he may not be the headline story stat wise but deserves mention.”

After the teams traded baskets twice, Guy and Makhi Baskin (eight points) scored in the final minute for the Hornets to give Mansfield a 49-45 edge after three.

“We try to practice at this level so some of this energy comes from that, we put our kids in tough situations in practice so this hopefully seems easy.” Vaughan said. “But you put 800 people in the stands, I can’t imagine that it’s easy. But we have guys come in, ready to perform, and they are excited for the game. They stuck to the game plan, weathered their first punch, weathered a second punch, and then maintained the lead in the fourth quarter.”

Franklin had opportunities in the final frame but the Hornets did not surrender the lead. A free throw from Harvey closed the deficit to two with 5:21 to go but Dooling answered on the other to push the lead back to five.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Defense and free throws from Karayan and Edgehill cut the Mansfield to just one, 55-54, with 1:28 to go. The Panthers got a key steal but couldn’t convert from the free throw line to take the lead. Seconds later, Boen hit his free throws to extend Mansfield’s advantage heading into the final minute.

“Win or lose, we were going to fight, they were going to fight,” Vaughan said. “The atmosphere was great, the gym was packed, it was 150 degrees in here, you can’t beat it. The emotion of how much goes into this game, starting when these kids are little, it’s such a high energy. All the practices, all the two-minute drills, you do it for nights like tonight. To get this energy from both teams this early in the season is tremendous. And we know good and well, we’re going to go over to Franklin and be in the same situation, and we might end up in the same boat or the opposite boat. But it’s such a fun atmosphere.

“Kids stepped up and made plays for both teams and we were fortunate to make one more [play].”

Mansfield boys basketball (3-1 Hockomock, 5-1 overall) is back in action Tuesday night when it hosts Milford. Franklin (2-2, 4-3) will try and bounce back when it hosts Stoughton on the same night.

Hornets Show Fight In Comeback Win Over B-R

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield’s Makhi Baskin drives to the basket for a layup in the second half against Bridgewater-Raynham. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan couldn’t recall exactly what he said throughout his self described “eight-minute rant” during halftime of the Hornets’ matchup with Bridgewater-Raynham.

But whatever he was selling, his kids bought it.

The Hornets turned a 13-point deficit at halftime into an 11-point win with a dominant second half performance spearheaded by an active and energetic defensive effort. Mansfield limited the hosts to just 16 points in the second half to earn a 66-55 decision to conclude the 2018 calendar year.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I don’t know what I said exactly but something along the lines of ‘It was unacceptable, it’s not how we do things around here, and it’s not a level I want to play at,’” Vaughan said.

“I’ll lose but we have to go down fighting. We didn’t fight in the first half.”

With Mansfield struggling to find consistency on both ends of the court, a good Bridgewater-Raynham team took full advantage. The Trojans shot 7-for-12 from the field in the opening quarter to jump out to a 17-12 lead.

And then Bridgewater-Raynham cashed in on a handful of open looks, taking of advantage of some switches and went a perfect 6-for-6 from three-point range in the frame. The Trojans scored 22 points in the quarter and opened up a double-digit lead, 39-26, after 16 minutes of play.

“The whole halftime…it wasn’t about winning or losing, it’s about looking like we know what we’re doing,” Vaughan said. “I told the kids I was a little embarrassed by the way we played in the first half, just from a technique standpoint. I thought the kids responded well and I thought our technique and attention to detail in the second half was significantly better. We have to get better in a lot of areas on the defensive end and sometimes just playing a little harder helps.”

The Hornets went to a full-court man-to-man press, using traps and double teams to get the energy going. The result was exactly what Vaughan was looking for and Mansfield worked its way back into the contest.

After making just one three in the first half (on 1-for-8 shooting), the Hornets came out right away and ran a set play for Tommy Dooling (12 points), and he sank a three. Mansfield forced a turnover on B-R’s first possession, and although it didn’t turn into points, the tone was set.

Mansfield forced seven turnovers in the third quarter, limiting B-R to just nine points. A strong take from sophomore TJ Guy (13 points) on a feed from Damani Scott (game-high 23 points, 10 rebounds) brought the Hornets within seven (39-32) but a 7-2 spurt from the hosts stretched the lead to 12 with two minutes left to play in the third.

The Hornets had a strong response over the final moments of the quarter, going on an 8-2 run. Scott sandwiched a three-pointer between single free throw makes. Dooling drained a three from straight away with less than 10 seconds left to pull within six, 48-42, heading into the fourth quarter.

“I think at the end of the day, we were either going to lay over and continue to get our butts kicked or we were going to start to play hard,” Vaughan said. “I think we started to play hard and the full court pressured allowed us to do that, to hold them accountable for longer parts of the possession. It just boiled down to us having to play harder, play with an identity. It’s been a while since we allowed that many uncontested shots, and B-R is a good team, they are going to make those shots. They didn’t have many bad shots in the first.

“For us, we had to do something. We had to figure out our identity…were we going to let them do what they want? Or were we going to take some things away.”

Mansfield forced five more turnovers in the final quarter and held the Trojans to just one made field goal. While the defense did its part, Mansfield’s offense finally got in gear and poured in 24 points in the quarter.

The Hornets opened on a 7-1 run to take the lead with 5:21 to go in the game. Makhi Baskin started things off with a steal and easy layup and Guy used a nice spin move in the post to give the Hornets the advantage, 50-49.

Scott finished off his own miss and the Hornets defense got a stop with Matty Boen being fouled while rebounding the ball. Boen drained two free throws to go extend the lead to 54-49 with 4:24 left.

B-R countered with two free throws from Conor Rubenskas (21 points) and drew an offensive foul to get possession back. Both teams had empty trips before Rubenskas hit a tough baseline shot to make it a one-point game, 54-53, with 3:25 to play.

Mansfield quickly answered as Dooling found Guy for two and the Hornets press paid off, forcing a turnover. Scott hit one of two from the line to make it 57-53. Mansfield’s defense got a stop and got the ball in the hands of Scott. Scott, who had his way getting to the basket for the majority of the game, garnered a lot of attention and alertly handed a ball off to Boen for a left-handed take.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After the teams traded turnovers, the Trojans missed a triple on one end and on the other end, Boen penetrated the defense, forcing B-R to collapse. Boen alertly kicked the ball out and Guy drained a wide open three to make it 62-53 with a minute to go, securing the win. Guy had 10 of his 13 points in the final quarter.

“The fight in the second half was significantly better, the kids really tried,” Vaughan said. “I don’t want to say they didn’t try in the first but they sat back and waited for everything to happen. In the second half, we took things away…we challenged them, we made things difficult.”

Mansfield boys basketball (4-1) returns to action Friday night for a key Kelley-Rex division battle against rival Franklin in a rematch of last season’s D1 State Final.

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2017-2018 Record: 13-10
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Mark Houle

Expectations are high for the Attleboro Bombardiers, who return all but one player from last year’s squad that won 13 games and qualified for the D1 South tournament. While the majority of the roster is made up of juniors (eight), the Bombardiers have a wealth of experience with almost all players having played at least one year, with a handful with two.

With experience comes options for veteran head coach Mark Houle. The Bombardiers expect to be able to play fast in transition but also slow down and execute in the half court. Attleboro boasts some of the top big men in the league and will look to use that to its advantage. Junior Qualeem Charles (6’5) was selected as a Hock All Star last year and will be a key piece on both sides of the ball with fellow big men Jason Weir, Lorenzo Wilson and Nolan Jaeger looking to factor in.

Junior Bryant Ciccio, also a Hockomock All Star last season, will be the quarterback of the offense from the point guard position. With two years of varsity experience already, Ciccio could be poised for a big season. Seniors Mason Houle and Kevin Velazquez both made big splashes last year and will be key pieces in the frontcourt this year. Velazquez provides high energy and can be a big threat from deep while Houle is a strong two-way player that will make plays on both ends of the court.

“We have several returning players with one or two years of varsity experience and will rely on them to be consistently working hard on both ends of the court,” said Mark Houle. “Our strength will be a strong inside game on offense…[and] our guard play will have multiple players able to handle pressure, score and contribute.”

Canton

2017-2018 Record: 16-5
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Ryan Gordy

The Bulldogs are coming off one of their best seasons in recent memory. This season, the Bulldogs will be looking to improve each day and adjust to a new style of play that fits the personnel best.

While three starters are gone, one starter that is back is Devin Foster, a Hockomock League All Star and HockomockSports.com First Team selection a year ago. Foster is a dynamic player that can be a nightmare for opposing defenses trying to stop him. He can shoot the three and really improved on his ability to finish around the rim last year.

Senior Paul Corcoran and junior Kyle Fitzgerald both had starts last season and head coach Ryan Gordy is looking for both players, along with versatile guard Ryan Lentol, to take a big step on the court this season. Corcoran is a strong defender, Fitzgerald will handle the point, and Lentol will do a little bit of everything for the Dogs. All three have a good amount of varsity experience and will be relied upon to be leaders on the court.

“Our culture in our foundation, and our veteran leadership sets the tone for the program,” Gordy said. “If we stay growth oriented this could be a fun season, players are committed to continuous improvement and that’s a pleasure to coach.”

Foxboro

2017-2018 Record: 19-5
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Jon Gibbs

Foxboro had a memorable 2018 season, earning 19 wins and sharing the Davenport division title with Canton. But with four of the five starters from that team gone, the 2019 Warriors will try to create their own identity while trying to replicate the success.

The one starter back is junior Brandon Borde (11.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.7 apg) and his two years of experience on varsity will be vital as role players switch to starters and new role players emerge. Borde is a talented guard that can hurt teams in a variety of ways but his strength allows him to finish around the rim in tough situations.

Senior Anthony Mollica had a bit of a coming out party during the end of last season, emerging as an offensive threat for the Warriors. Head coach Jon Gibbs expects more of that throughout this season and will be looking for the likes of Will Morrison, Liam Devlin, Ryan Hughes, and Kevin Gallagher — all players with varsity experience, to step up this year. While Foxboro will likely rely on its defense again this year, three-point shooting should be a strength on the offensive side.

“Right now the focus is on getting better each day,” Gibbs said. “Practices have been competitive. Guys are fighting hard to carve out a role for themselves by earning the trust of their teammates and coaches. If we can continue to defend and rebound at a high level, we have a chance to be very successful.”

Franklin

2017-2018 Record: 23-4
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 State Final
Coach: CJ Neely

The Panthers have reached the D1 State Final each of the past two seasons and it looks like they have the tools to try and make a third straight appearance. Franklin brings back two of the top players in the Hockomock League in senior Jalen Samuels and junior Chris Edgehill.

Both Samuels (13.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Edgehill (17.1 ppg, 3.5 apg) have a wealth of varsity experience that the Panthers will rely on as others battle for minutes in the rotation. Edgehill is one of the most dangerous guards offensively and can score in a variety of ways while Samuels can present a matchup problem for most teams. Will Harvey also has varsity experience and will likely see an increased role in the 2018-2019 season.

The rest of the rotation is up for grabs but there is a lot of choices for head coach CJ Neely, who noted there is a strong amount of depth and balance on this year’s squad. Unsurprisingly, Franklin will be focused on causing problems on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers have been known as a gritty defensive squad and they are looking to continue that tradition this year. Offensively, Neely is hoping unselfishness and outside shooting will help replicate the success of previous seasons.

“It will be a season long battle for minutes and guys will have to earn our trust through defensive intensity and unselfish play on offense,” Neely said. “Our goal is to focus on the process of competing hard and improving each day and the results will reflect our daily effort and attitude.”

King Philip

2017-2018 Record: 4-16
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave DeStefano

First-year head coach Dave DeStefano is hoping hard work in the offseason will translate into success on the court this year for the King Philip Warriors. DeStefano is the Warriors fifth head coach in the last eight seasons but his familiarity with the Hockomock League (former JV coach at Foxboro) should give him a boost right away.

While the Warriors had only four wins last year, half of their 16 losses came by six points or less, including to D2 State Champions Tech Boston (74-71) and division foes Attleboro and Taunton. King Philip is hoping it can be on the right side of those contests this season. Bruce Santillus and Timmy Nault are the two returning starters from last year, and both showed they are capable of taking over games on the offensive end. Santillus is a versatile player that can score in many ways and is tough in one-on-one matchups. Nault provides a lot of energy on both ends and can give the team a spark when needed.

DeStefano is looking for seniors Tyler Nault, Ian Khung, and Michael O’Brien to build on their minutes from last year and have increased roles for 2018-2019. Junior Andrew McKinney showed a lot of promise last year and could be a big contributor for the Warriors this year. Senior Terry Jacobs-Baston gives KP a nice post presence along with junior Tommy Donahue (6’5) and senior Sam Sesay (6’2). Juniors Alex Fritz, Chris Roy, and Adam Nicastro will all be in the mix for minutes as well.

“The boys have really worked hard this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The practices have been really competitive and physical. For us to be successful we will need to make a big commit on the defensive end of the floor. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops.”

Mansfield

2017-2018 Record: 27-2
2017-2018 Finish: D1 State Champions
Coach: Mike Vaughan

While the D1 State Championship is in the rearview mirror, expectations are still sky high for Mansfield, who has won six straight Hock Kelley-Rex titles, tying a streak from OA in the 1980s for the longest title run. With a handful of players back and a strong mix of new faces Mansfield will be aiming for its seventh straight.

The Hornets will rely on their most experienced players early on with Damani Scott, Tommy Dooling, and Khristian Conner back. All three have starting experience, and beyond that, a wealth of varsity minutes in the regular season and postseason. Scott had a terrific playoff run last year and could be one of the top players in the Hock this year. Dooling is a talented guard that can hurt teams from deep while Conner can score from all over the floor.

Beyond that trio, there are a handful of new faces trying to establish time in the lineup and rotation. Junior Sam Stevens and sophomores Matt Boen and TJ Guy are top candidates to find time in the rotation. Stevens and Guy both have good size and will give the Hornets a presence in the post while Boen is a crafty guard that will likely contribute offensively right away. Expect Makhi Baskin, Jack Mousette, and Drew Rooney to be in the mix as well.

“We’re looking forward to getting the season started with new faces,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “We’ll have our early challenges getting the new faces up to speed with the varsity level of play, but it’s a talented group, they are working hard, and they are getting better each day. It should be an exciting year as the league looks to be super competitive as always.”

Milford

2017-2018 Record: 13-10
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 Central Semifinal
Coach: Paul Seaver

While the Hawks have some experience back this year, it will be key for the new faces to get up to speed as Milford looks to compete for a Davenport division title. Seniors Brendan White, Brendon Sailer, and Steve Sutherland are all back after either starting or playing a lot of minutes last season and will be relied upon, especially early, to guide the Hawks through a difficult schedule.

White was Milford’s leading scorer last season with 14 points per game in the regular season so he will be a key piece for the Hawks again this year. Sailer is a good ball handler and will handle point guard duties. He’s a strong defender and can distribute the ball well, but he is also able to get to the rim or shoot from deep. Sutherland provides the Hawks with an experienced presence in the post but can step out and hit shots as well.

Junior Colby Pires is coming off a successful season on the gridiron and will see a lot of minutes on the court and senior Danny Corsini can provide a spark on the offensive end with his shooting. Sophomore Dom Schofield stands at 6’5 so he can be a matchup problem for some teams in the league while classmate Jordan Darling can do a little bit of everything and could have a breakout year for the Scarlet Hawks.

“Our goal is to simply get better with each passing day,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “We have a lot of newcomers this season and are facing one of our toughest schedules in years. Our goal is to build chemistry and work towards qualifying for the state tournament for a fourth consecutive season.”

North Attleboro

2017-2018 Record: 9-11
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Sean Mulkerrins

After just missing out on the postseason a year ago, North Attleboro is hoping a strong senior class can help the Rocketeers return to the postseason and compete for a Davenport division title. Big Red boasts nine seniors, including three starters and a handful of guys that played plenty of minutes a year ago.

Leading scoring Josh Montague (13.7 points per game) is back and will be one of the top guards in the Hock. He plays well on both ends of the court but really came into his own as a scorer as the season progressed last year. Senior Jacob Petersen, standing at 6’6, will be one of the toughest matchups in the league and his ability to play as a true post player gives North an advantage over other teams. He is also a force on defense that can prevent easy buckets in the paint. Senior Nate Gonsalves improved throughout last year and could be poised for a breakout season for Big Red.

Senior Evan Rosenberg will likely be tasked with guarding some of the top players in the league because of his strong defensive play. Seniors Adam Falcone, Jonathan James, Joe Milosh and Matt Seavey all played last year and that experience will be key as they factor into the rotation again this year. Junior Ethan Friberg got valuable minutes last year and can score in a variety of ways while also giving Big Red size at 6’4. Sophomore George Ladd will be making his varsity debut but is expected to provide North with a spark on offense.

“We are extremely excited about the 2018-2019 season,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “Led by our nine seniors, we hope we can build off of last year’s momentum. We have an extremely intelligent group of players that is coachable, hardworking, and determined. We believe our cohesiveness and depth will allow us to be successful.”

Oliver Ames

2017-2018 Record: 8-13
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Don Byron

The Tigers found themselves in an unfamiliar place at the end of last year – on the outside looking in for the postseason. This year, Oliver Ames is hoping to blend a mix of returners, role players, and new faces — both from JV and transfers — into a competitive group that will look to begin a new postseason streak.

A major challenge will be replacing Hockomock League All Star and HockomockSports.com First Team selection Jack Spillane, who led the Hock in scoring during the regular season with 22.3 points per game. The Tigers will aim to have a much more balanced approach this season players that can contribute at each position. It will begin with returning starters Ethan Eckstrom and Jake Erlich, both seniors. Both Eckstrom and Erlich will spend the majority of their time in or around the paint and will be key defensive pieces as well. Sean O’Brien, who mostly came off the bench but was one of the team leaders in minutes, is a high-energy player that contributes on both ends of the court.

Senior Harry DeChellis was slated to be a big contributor for the Tigers last year before suffering a season ending injury so OA is hoping he will step right in and be a leader. Jay Spillane and Ryan Burkett both had successful seasons on JV a year ago and will factor in the rotation while transfers Amari Brown, a sophomore guard, and Evan Craig, a junior forward, both will be impact players right away.

“We should be a lot more balanced on offense, it should spread around,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “It’s one of those teams where we have the ability to score at all positions, as well as the guys off the bench. It might change each night but we have a lot of guys that are capable of contributing.”

Sharon

2017-2018 Record: 4-16
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrew Ferguson

The Eagles are aiming to improve on both ends of the court this year and are looking to compete for the Davenport title and a trip to the state tournament. After missing out on the playoffs each of the last two seasons, the Eagles are looking to ride a mix of experienced players to try and get back to the postseason.

Sharon will rely heavily on its three senior captains: Aaron Strong, Ben Kaplan, and Alex Kaufmann. Strong is a versatile guard that can be a pest on the defensive end of the court; Kaplan makes a lot of things happen on both ends and was having a strong season as a junior before seeing it cut short to injury; and Kaufmann is in his third year on varsity and is capable of having big scoring games any given night.

Athleticism will be something the Eagles rely on this year on both sides of the ball. Beyond the three senior captains, juniors Andrew Burton, Aidan Kane, and Alec Filipkowski all saw varsity minutes and should be factors as their roles increase this season. Juniors Cameron Baker and Caleb Gayle will also factor into the rotation in the frontcourt.

“This is a very tight knit, energized group and they are continually pushing each other to get better every day,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We have a good mix of experience and youth to provide depth at multiple positions. We are replacing a lot of offense from last year and have a lot of players vying for those opportunities.”

Stoughton

2017-2018 Record: 6-14
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: John Gallivan

The Black Knights are hoping a balanced attack on offense and a commitment to defense will result in 10 wins and a trip to the state tournament. Stoughton has five players back with varsity experience so the Knights will lean on those players early as head coach John Gallivan tries to fit a handful of new faces from JV and outside the program into the rotation.

Senior captains Zak Paquette, Josh Cocchi, and Kevin Dixon will be key not only for their contributions on the court but for their leadership as well. They are all experienced players that Gallivan will lean on as he figures out what the best rotations will be.

Senior Ajahn Rue is another returnee and brings a lot of talent to the point guard position while junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell got his feet wet on varsity a year ago and could see an increased role in the 2018-2019 season. After those five, Gallivan is looking for some new faces to step up and establish themselves as go-to options for the Black Knights.

“We are hoping to have more of a balanced attack on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor than we have had in the past,” Gallivan said.

taunton

2017-2018 Record: 12-11
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Charlie Dacey

This year’s version of the Taunton Tigers will be relying on tempo to try and run past the competition in the Hockomock League. Taunton boasts speed throughout the lineup and is hoping that it can use that — offensively and defensively — to its advantage this year. But if necessary, the Tigers can also slow it down and execute in the half court.

Senior guard John Martins and junior forward Dante Law are returning seniors from a season ago and both are quick players that bring experience to a team that is looking to use its speed to emphasize its open court skills. Martins is a steady player that can do a lot of things on both ends of the court and Law is looking to take the next step forward after some strong outings as a sophomore.

Senior Lou Vendrell is back and had a lot of offensive skill that the Tigers will need, especially his outside shot. Similar to Law, junior Naz Kenion had some breakout moments a year ago and Taunton will be looking for more production out of him this season. Prince Brown brings a year of varsity experience back and can provide an offensive spark with his shooting. Senior Mike Quinn rounds out the backcourt while Wesner Charles and Tyler Stewart provide the Tigers with size down low.

“Tempo will be the key this year,” said longtime Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “The roster has some depth and there is speed at every position.”

Takeaways Help Mansfield Pull Away From Barnstable

Mansfield football
Mansfield senior quarterback Aidan Sacco leaps over a Barnstable player in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Holding a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Mansfield football team was in search of a stop that could potentially change the game.

The Hornets might not have gotten the stop in terms of yardage, but they got something even better.

Going for it on fourth and one from its own 34-yard line, Barnstable quarterback Matt Petercuskie (12/38, 116 yards) lined up under center, snapped the ball and appeared to get enough of a push for a first down. While fighting for extra yards, the QB extended the ball out.

Mansfield senior linebacker Philip Dinov alertly punched the ball free and it popped right into the arms of junior Michael DeBolt (eight carries, 48 yards), who took off for a 35-yard fumble return for a touchdown and a 21-10 Hornet advantage with under nine minutes to go.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

It turned out to be the biggest play of the game and the Hornet defense didn’t break the rest of the way as top-seeded Mansfield earned a 28-10 victory over the fifth-seeded Red Raiders.

“I thought the defense played lights off,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “The fake punt was foolish on my part but we only gave up the three which helped. In the second half, the defense was lights out. Makhi [Baskin], obviously the picks were gigantic momentum changers. The offense played well enough to score enough points. That’s a good football team that we just beat. We were a little shorthanded tonight so it was a gutsy win. I think tonight it was the defense stepping up against a really good offensive team that had 35 points last week, this was a defensive win tonight.”

DeBolt finished with three touchdowns with his two others coming on the ground. The junior missed the first three games after suffering an injury in preseason. He’s played on the defensive side of the ball since Week 4 but didn’t start on offense until the final game of the regular season.

“It feels great to be back out there,” DeBolt said “I was really down after I got hurt in preseason but I’ve worked my way back here. On that fourth down, there was a big pile and Phil Dinov just punched the ball free. It popped up right to me so I just took off, I didn’t hear a whistle so I kept going.”

While Mansfield extended the lead with the fumble recovery, the Hornets put the game to rest with its next defensive series.

Facing another fourth down, this one from its own 41-yard line with six yards to gain, Petercuskie dropped back to pass but Mansfield junior Makhi Baskin read it perfect, jumping the route and picking off the pass. Baskin took the return 40 yard down to the Barnstable 14-yard line.

Two straight runs from DeBolt resulted in a score, the second one from 3-yards out and the Hornets suddenly had a 28-10 lead with 5:40 to play.

“Turnovers turned the game,” Redding said. “Our defense came up big and forced those turnovers and our first unit didn’t turn it over. “We were expecting a sneak [on the previous drive], we were blitzing in and they still got a push, it looked like he was fighting for extra yards and coughed it up. That’s a huge turnaround right there. And then we got the interception on the next series.”

The last 5:40 took 30 minutes to play but the Hornet defense didn’t break at all and kept the Red Raiders out of the end zone despite a pair of trips inside the red zone.

Though Mansfield’s defense had a terrific game, it had a slow start as the Red Raiders came out firing. The visitors marched 75 yards on 16 plays, converting a fourth down inside the red zone on a questionable catch call. Barnstable’s hurry up offense and quick screens gave Mansfield some issues, and Petercuskie used a QB option keeper to score from five yards out to make it 7-0 just 5:03 into the game.

Mansfield’s offense had an important response right away, scoring on its opening drive to tie the game. After DeBolt had a nice return, the Hornets used their ground game to move the ball. After quarterback Aidan Sacco (14 rushes, 110 yards) had a couple of nice gains, DeBolt punched it in on third down from two yards out to make it 7-7 with 2:05 left in the first quarter.

After the opening drive, Mansfield’s defense did a nice job adjusting to the Barnstable offense, which Redding credited to defensive coordinator Mark DeGirolamo. The Raiders’ next two possessions ended in three-and-outs and negative yardage.

“Coach DeGirolamo talked to the secondary about how to line up against the quads. We didn’t practice it all week and he did a good adjustment to handle their quick little screen game. We were able to double Conner Baldasaro, took their best receiver out of the game and the key was we covered the other guys one-on-one and did a great job there. Coach DeGirolamo gave them a lot of different coverages, their QB is so smart so we tried to throw a lot of looks at him and we might have thrown him off a little bit.

Mansfield’s offense didn’t fair much better as they saw a 33-yard field goal attempt go wide right on their second drive. And on their third drive, facing fourth and 5 from its own 44, the Hornets elected for a fake punt call and came up a half yard short with 1:15 to go in the half.

That was just enough time for Barnstable to get down field and Jonathan Silva hit a 25-yard field goal as time expired to give the visitors a 10-7 advantage at half.

Similar to its first drive of the first half, Mansfield’s offense had a key opening drive to the second half. The Hornets orchestrated a 10-play, 59 yard drive to take the lead for the first time in the contest.

After yet another good return from DeBolt on the kickoff, the Hornets converted a first down n a carry from Vinnie Holmes at midfield, only for an unsportsmanlike penalty to knock them back 15 yards. Although Sacco ran for 11-yards, the Hornets were called for holding on the next play and faced 1st and 20 from their own 39 yard line.

Sacco ran for four yards, hit Danny Rapoza for a key 10-yard gain and then jolted seven yards past the marker for a first down.

DeBolt followed with a 19-yard run and then Holmes took one up the middle, breaking a tackle and looked like he was about to fall into the end zone for a touchdown. But the ball was poked free and rolled into the end zone. A handful of players jumped on it but it was Holmes that somehow got up and jumped on the ball for a touchdown.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

With Mansfield leading 14-10, the teams traded punts to finish out the third quarter, setting up the next drive where DeBolt had the fumble return.

Now Mansfield football turns its attention to the D2 South Final, where it will host rival King Philip. The third-seeded Warriors took down Natick, 17-7, to advance to its third straight sectional final. The teams met back in September at Alumni Field with Mansfield prevailing, 28-27, after KP’s two-point conversion attempt in the final minute came up empty.

“I asked them what could be better than beating KP twice in one season?” Reading said of his brief postgame comments to his team. “They did it to use last year and now we have a chance to do it to them. I think it’s great for our league that the two best teams can make it to the final and have an all-Hockomock League final with the winner going to Gillette, it just shows how good the league is.”

The D2 South Final between the Hornets and Warriors is scheduled for a 7:00PM kickoff at Alumni Field on Friday.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 10/26/18

Today’s games are listed below.

Football – Playoffs
D1 South
#4 Franklin, 26 vs. #5 Brockton, 3 – Final
1st Quarter: (B) Carlens Jean 27-yard field goal; (F) Nick Gordon 32-yard pass to Jack Nally, Parker Chevrant XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) P. Chevrant 23-yard field goal; (F) N. Gordon 10-yard pass to Sean Leonard, P. Chevrant XP good; (F) Safety.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (F) N. Gordon 1-yard rush, P. Chevrant XP good.

#6 Attleboro, 19 @ #3 Catholic Memorial, 42 – Final
1st Quarter: (CM) Barrett Pratt 16-yard pass to Hunter Tully, Thomas Leonard XP good; (CM) Darius Leclair 2-yard rush, XP blocked.
2nd Quarter: (CM) B. Pratt 30-yard pass to Brian Stubbs, Owen McGowen 2pt rush; (CM) Zach Mitchel 53-yard rush, Matt Sokol XP good.
3rd Quarter: (CM) B. Pratt 21-yard rush, M. Sokol XP good; (A) Jason Weir 1-yard rush, Colby Briggs XP good.
4th Quarter: (CM) B. Pratt 20-yard pass to B. Stubbs, M. Sokol XP good; (A) Justin Cote 94-yard kickoff return, XP failed; (A) Kevin Velazquez 44-yard fumble recovery, XP failed.

D2 South
#1 Mansfield, 21 vs. #8 Bridgewater-Raynham, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: (M) Aidan Sacco 38-yard pass to Makhi Baskin, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (BR) Anthony Morrison 56-yard rush, XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) Vinnie Holmes 12-yard rush, A. Sacco 2pt rush good; (M) Michael DeBolt 8-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.

#3 King Philip, 21 vs. #6 Braintree, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 4-yard rush, Cole Baker XP good.
2nd Quarter: (B) Michael Tellier 1-yard rush, XP good; (KP) R. Halliday 1-yard rush, C. Baker XP good; (KP) Robbie Jarest 38-yard pass to David Morganelli, C. Baker XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: No scoring.

D3 South
#4 North Attleboro, 21 vs. #5 Whitman-Hanson, 13 – Final
1st Quarter: (NA) Brendan McHugh 18-yard rush, Tyler DeMattio XP good.
2nd Quarter: (WH) Rian Schwede 5-yard pass to Nate Beath, Jake O’Brien XP good; (NA) Nick Raneri 2-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good; (WH) Ethan Phelps 7-yard rush, XP blocked.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (NA) B. McHugh 5-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.

#8 Stoughton, 14 @ #1 Duxbury, 35 – Final
1st Quarter: (D) John Roberts 11-yard pass to Will Prouty, XP good.
2nd Quarter: (D) J. Roberts 15-yard pass to W. Prouty, XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (D) Tim Landolfi 12-yard rush, XP good; (S) Jeff Grier 18-yard rush, Jeff Cocchi XP good; (D) Jack Jacobson 42-yard rush, XP good; (S) John Burke 64-yard pass to Christian Ais, J. Cocchi XP good; (D) J. Roberts 15-yard pass to Ryan Prudente, XP good.

D5 South
#4 Canton, 27 vs. #5 Hanover, 13 – Final
1st Quarter: (C) Brendan Albert 2-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good; (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 5-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (H) Andrew Carroll 60-yard pass to Drew Berard, Robbie Barrett XP good.
4th Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 13-yard pass to Jace Emma, XP missed; (H) Ethan Ritchie 66-yard rush, XP missed; (C) K. Fitzgerald 1-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.

#8 Foxboro, 14 @ #1 Falmouth, 22 – Final
1st Quarter: (Fal) Jake Murphy 10-yard rush, J. Murphy 2pt rush; (Fox) Mike Luong 2-yard rush, Liam Foley 2pt pass to Brian Derba.
2nd Quarter: (Fal) J. Murphy 5-yard rush, Kyle Connolly 2pt rush; (Fox) L. Foley 15-yard pass to Shayne Kerrigan, 2pt pass failed.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (Fal) J. Connolly 9-yard rush, 2pt failed.

Football – Non-Playoffs
Milford, 42 vs. Dartmouth, 6 – Final

Oliver Ames, 16 @ Medfield, 34 – Final
1st Quarter: (M) James Wilder 80-yard kick off return, Cameron Lund XP good; (M) Colby Gonser 3-yard rush, C. Lund XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Jimmy Cosolito 10-yard pass to Luke Slavick, C. Lund XP good.
3rd Quarter: (OA) Nathan Cabral 5-yard rush, Jake Erlich 2pt rush; (M) C. Gonser 5-yard rush, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (OA) N. Cabral 3-yard rush, Cam Perron 2pt pass to Ethan Eckstrom; (M) Luke Eilberto 3-yard rush, C. Lund XP good.

Sharon, 6 vs. Brookline, 24 – Final

Taunton, 47 vs. Weymouth, 20 – Final

Boys Soccer
Mansfield, 0 vs. Brockton, 1 – Final

Milford, 2 vs. Hopedale, 0 – FinalMilford scored once in each half to pick up a win at home over non-league rival Hopedale. Jordan Borges picked up where he left off from his game-winner against Canton, putting the Hawks up 1-0 in the first half on an assist from Leo Coelho. In the second half, junior Walisson de Oliveira doubled the lead on an assist from Joao Vitor Neiva. Lucas Caetano had a strong game defensively and Cam Doherty recorded the shutout in net.

Girls Soccer
North Attleboro, 3 @ Attleboro, 0 – FinalNorth Attleboro won the Blue-Red Cup behind two goals and an assist from Ashlyn Gaulin. Alex Moulson was also on the board for the Rocketeers, who got a team-record 10th shutout from goalie Emma Noreck. Morgan Silver, Bri Westcott, Sam Hawkins, Lydia Hershey, Liz Smahi and Olivia Bishop all had strong games defensively in front of Noreck.

Stoughton, 0 @ Sharon, 1 – FinalSharon scored with 11 minutes to play to earn a win over Stoughton. The Black Knights thought they had the equalizer in the final minute but the goal was waved off for offside. Stoughton coach Tara Daniels said Nicole Weir had an outstanding game defensively for the Black Knights.

Field Hockey
Mansfield, 1 @ Foxboro, 5 – Final

Milford @ Bellingham, 3:30

Stoughton, 1 @ North Attleboro, 3 – FinalGrace Cole, Jessica Stratham, and Hannah Alarie each scored once as North Attleboro earned a win at home over visiting Stoughton. Alanna McCormick scored for the Black Knights.

King Philip, 5 @ Algonquin, 0 – FinalKing Philip built a 2-0 lead by halftime and finished strong with three goals in the second half. Meghan MacDonald (from Dana Truini) opened the scoring just over a minute into the game and then set up Abby Nixon five minutes later to go up 2-0. In the second half, Nicole Connor and Alli Meehan set each other up three minutes apart to increase the lead to 4-0. Claire Lawlor capped the scoring with 10 minutes to play on a feed from MacDonald.

Volleyball
Attleboro, 0 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final

Canton, 3 vs. Quincy, 1 – FinalCanton fended off a comeback attempt from the Presidents of Quincy High, earning a 3-1 win at home (25-18, 25-18, 24-26, 25-18). Erin Devine had nine kills and six blocks to pace the Bulldogs at the net while Taylor Harris and Liz Bickett combined for 18 kills. Megan McDonough was amazing on defense with 22 digs and Nicole Brown continued her strong season with 25 assists and 10 digs.

King Philip, 0 @ North Quincy, 3 – FinalKing Philip went on the road and suffered a 3-0 setback (21-25, 22-25, 13-25). For the Warriors, Catherine Waldeck had 11 kills and two blocks and Lily Carlow finished with five digs.

Oliver Ames, 1 @ Brockton, 3 – FinalOliver Ames won the second set to knot the score at 1-1 but Brockton prevailed in the next two sets to get the win (17-25, 25-12, 12-25, 12-25). Jordan Bosse paced OA with 12 digs, eight kills, and a pair of aces. Sadie Homer added 37 digs, Allie Kemp finished with 22 assists, and Jackie Raymond chipped in with six blocks.

Sharon, 3 vs. Dedham, 0 – Final

Stoughton, 3 @ Cardinal Spellman, 0 – FinalStoughton wrapped up the regular season with a sweep of Spellman. Molly Turner and Delaney Nagel combined for 23 kills and Amaya Morris (six blocks) and Mia Bennett (22 digs) provided strong defense for the Black Knights. Hanna Holden had 10 assists in the win.

Taunton vs. New Bedford, 5:30

Mansfield Secures Title in Shootout with Attleboro

Mansfield Football
Mansfield sophomore Cincere Gill (2) rushed for three touchdowns to help the Hornets outscore Attleboro and clinch at least a share of their first league title since 2013. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


MANSFIELD, Mass. – All the build-up to Friday night’s Kelley-Rex division title showdown at Alumni Field presumed that Mansfield and Attleboro were going to slug it out in a defensive battle with points difficult to come by. It turned out to be the exact opposite.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Senior Khristian Conner scored with 32 seconds remaining in the game to give Mansfield the edge over the Bombardiers 42-35 and clinch the Hornets at least a share of the league title. It is Mansfield’s first division championship since 2013.

“It means everything,” said Conner about getting back on top in the league. “We worked hard over the summer for it. We just kept with it, didn’t let anything stop us and we just got the win. It feels amazing. It feels awesome.

Mansfield coach Mike Redding added, “This was an unbelievable high school football game. They came to play, they answered every time we had the momentum. Thank god we answered when they did.” Redding joked, “So many plays on both sides…it will be a fun one to watch; it was a tough one to coach.”

Attleboro took its only lead of the game with 1:39 remaining in the fourth quarter. Justin Cote (seven carries, 50 yards), who had also caught a 20-yard pass on the go-ahead drive, raced up the middle for a 12-yard score that tied the game at 34-34. Two false starts pushed the extra point attempt back 10 yards but sophomore Colby Briggs was unfazed and split the uprights to put the visitors in front.

The Bombardiers had forced Mansfield to punt just twice on the night, but after Nick Evans sacked Hornets quarterback Aidan Sacco for no gain the hosts faced fourth and 10 from their own 26. Sacco (5-of-8, 111 yards) bought time and hit Cincere Gill for 28 yards over the middle. The sophomore, who rushed for three touchdowns on the night, was covered but managed to pull in the pass to keep the game alive.

Sacco (nine carries, 79 yards) rushed for nine yards and then broke free on a keeper to the left sideline for 26 yards and got out of bounds at the Attleboro 11. On the next play, Conner completed the comeback by finding a seam right up the gut for the score.

“They’re a really good team – good defensive team, good on offense – and they have great players but we just had to fight through it to be the better team,” Conner said.

Attleboro’s offense had found ways to come back all game long, but with only 32 seconds, there just wasn’t enough time to get up the field and a pass to Cote for four yards on fourth and 10 ended the game.

“Our offense played really, really well,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “Weir played awesome, it was just back-and-forth. We could definitely win the game, we just didn’t give him enough time at the end.”

Both offenses were able to move the ball from the opening kick-off. Mansfield took its opening possession 56 yards on seven plays to get a quick lead. Gill finished off the drive with a seven-yard sweep.

The Bombardiers returned the favor with a 12-play, 75-yard drive on its first possession. Attleboro surprised the Hornets by going to the air with greater frequency than usual and junior Jason Weir (18-29, 251 yards) had a big night, hitting nine different receivers. After catching a halfback pass from Ethan Cameron (five catches, 69 yards), Weir capped the drive with a three-yard toss to Jacob Weatherford.

Mansfield got the lead back late in the second quarter when Sacco threw a 26-yard strike to Conner, who had gotten wide open in the front corner of the end zone. Attleboro answered right back, as Weir connected with sophomore Justin Daniels to make it 14-14 with 2:28 left in the half.

That was plenty of time for Mansfield to add another touchdown. Sacco got the Hornets to the Attleboro 31 and then Gill broke free for his second score of the night. He cut back on a sweep, finding a hole in the middle of the line and exploding through it.

“He’s special and I think we have a very good running back,” Redding said of Gill. “Vinnie [Holmes] had some decent runs, but they were bottling us up inside and Khristian ran hard, Cincere ran hard, Aidan had some nice runs and throws and just doing enough to overcome some injuries.”

Even with just a minute on the clock, Attleboro was able to get the ball into the red zone again and had a touchdown called back when the officials ruled Weir had cross the line of scrimmage before he threw. Makhi Baskin picked off the final throw of the half. Coming out of the break, the Bombardiers got the ball again, but on the first play Weir was stripped of the ball and Holmes recovered for the Hornets at the Attleboro 23.

Mansfield took advantage of the short field and Sacco got on the board with an 11-yard keeper to make it 28-14. It felt like the Hornets were about to break the game wide open. Instead, Attleboro came right back down field and cut the lead to one score. A 13-play, 75 yard drive ended on a one-yard sneak by Weir to make it 28-21.

The track meet continued on Mansfield’s next possession. Sacco hit Conner for a 26-yard completion to get into Attleboro territory. Four plays later, on fourth and two from the 21, Gill took another sweep around the end and broke free, adding his third touchdown of the night. Attleboro would give itself a lifeline by blocking Michael DeBolt’s extra point attempt, but it was a 13-point Mansfield lead.

Attleboro made it a quick response. Weir got the ball out to the sideline to Kevin Velazquez-Rivera, who then turned up field and showed off his speed for a 45-yard touchdown. Evans made a huge stop on third and five, stuffing Sacco for a four-yard loss and forcing a rare Mansfield punt.

The Bombardiers came right back, with Weir connecting with Cameron on a fourth down pass to the near sideline that kept the drive going. After a 20-yard completion to Cote, the senior running back took it himself, going straight up the middle for the 12-yard TD. Briggs held his nerve to put Attleboro in front and on the verge of arguably the program’s biggest win since its move to the Hock.

But, Mansfield showed that it has some grit as well. The Hornets found a way to pull out the victory and will go into the final week of the regular season with a chance to clinch the title outright.

“These games just always seem to go back-and-forth,” Strachan said. “We’ve just got to bounce back against Franklin and play well. I thought we did a good job; they’ve got athletes everywhere, you’ve got to defend everything.”

Redding noted that the Hornets lost a pair of seniors, Chris Copponi and Daenin Walker, to injuries. He said, “We’ve had adversity every week but still find a way to beat an awfully good football team.”

Mansfield (5-1, 4-0) will travel to Oliver Ames next week to try and close out a perfect league campaign and potentially take the top spot in Div. 2 South. Attleboro (4-2, 2-2) will try to bounce back and possibly secure a first round home game in the Div. 1 South tournament with a trip to Franklin.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Football: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2018 Kelley-Rex Football Preview
Mansfield quarterback Damani Scott (6) will try to help the Hornets challenge for the Kelley-Rex title this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Football Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Strachan

Key/Returning Players: Justin Cote, Sr., RB/OLB; Nick Evans, Sr., OT/DE; Eddie Porreca, Sr., DT; Alex Rodriguez, Sr., RB; Josh Therrien, Sr., WR/FS; Desmond Woodson, Sr., OLB; Qualeem Charles, Jr., OT/DT; Isaac Gudiel, Jr., OG/LB; Nolan Jaeger, Jr., WR/CB; Jason Weir, Jr., QB/DE; Michael Strachan, So., LB/TE

Outlook:
Injuries hampered Attleboro right from the start of the 2017 season, but the 2018 Bombardiers are healthy and hoping for a big turnaround this fall to compete with the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division and make a return to the postseason.

The graduation of quarterback Cam Furtado is a significant loss on offense, but the Bombardiers will hand the ball to junior Jason Weir, who has a big arm and a lot of potential at the QB position. Size and strength won’t be a problem for Weir, who played defensive end as a sophomore. Seniors Justin Cote and Alex Rodriguez will be the primary backs for Attleboro this year and give the Bombardiers dynamic weapons out of the backfield. The offensive line is bolstered by 6-foot-6, 290-pound junior Qualeem Charles and 6-foot-3, 265-pound senior Nick Evans. At 6-foot-3, junior Nolan Jaeger will be a weapon at receiver along with senior Josh Therrien and sophomore tight end Michael Strachan.

Evans battled injuries at the start of last season, but he is one of the top defensive linemen in the league and is drawing Div. I college offers. Attleboro will be a tough team to run against this season with Evans on the end and Charles (who is also getting DI looks) and 6-foot-3, 365-pound senior Eddie Porreca on the inside. Strachan and junior Isaac Gudiel will be starting at inside linebacker, while senior Desmond Woodson will be starting on the outside. Therrien is capable of making plays downfield at his free safety position and will be the leader of the secondary.

“I am looking forward to the 2018 season,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have a strong senior class and we have strong leadership on our football team. Our team worked out hard in the off-season and I am looking forward to that hard work paying off this season.”

Franklin

2017 Record: 3-8
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Eian Bain

Key/Returning Players: Ryan Driscoll, Sr., WR/DB; Sean Leonard, Sr., TE; Evan Wertz, Jr., LB; Sean Hofferty, Sr., RB; Liam Arsenault, Sr., OL/DL; Nick Gordon, Sr., QB/DB; Riley Downing, Sr., OL/DL; Will Davis, Sr., WR; Jack Jarosz, Sr., OL/DL; Jack Nally, Jr., WR; Jake Davis, Jr., WR/DB; Dom Natale, Jr., OL/DL; Thomas Gasbarro, Jr., QB/DB; Nolan McLaney, Sr., DB;

Outlook:
Third-year head coach Eian Bain is optimistic about the 2018 season, and the long list of players returning with plenty of experience is a big reason why. The Panthers have over a dozen players back that started or saw significant time on offense and the same goes for the defense, include a very seasoned secondary.

Franklin must replace three-year starter Jake Noviello at quarterback but Bain is confident that a healthy competition between senior Nick Gordon and junior Thomas Gasbarro will result in a strong option starting under center for the opening week. While Franklin has to replace its quarterback, they return a ton of skill players on offense including senior tight end Sean Leonard, who hauled in a league-best eight touchdown passes last season. Ryan Driscoll (five touchdowns), Jack Nally, Will Davis, and Jake Davis will fill out the receiving corps while Sean Hofferty and Owen Palmieri man the backfield. Seniors Riley Downing and Liam Arsenault are experienced and will anchor the offensive line.

Junior Evan Wertz will be a key piece in the middle of the Panthers’ defense after having a breakout campaign last year with nearly 100 tackles from his linebacker spot. Senior Spencer Briggs and sophomore Alex Honor will also see time at linebacker while Downing is joined by Jack Jarosz, Dom Natale, and Keenan Bassma on the defensive line. The Panthers boast a seasoned secondary with Nolan McLaney and Driscoll both back, along with Palmieri, Jake Davis, and both Gasbarro and Gordon.

“We have experience on both sides of the ball,” Bain said. “It is a cohesive group that has been working hard together for our first two years and they are eager to the turn the corner with our program.”

King Philip

2017 Record: 12-0
2017 Finish: MIAA D1A State Champions
Coach: Brian Lee

Key/Returning Players: Jack Webster, Sr., FB/LB; Aidan Bender, Sr., RB/DB; Max Armour, Sr., LB; Luke D’Amico, Sr., DB; Terrell Jacobs Baston, Sr., OL/DL; Ryan Halliday, Jr., RB; Josh Fice, Sr., OL/DL; Nolan Gunning, Jr., OL/DL; David Morganelli, Sr., WR;

Outlook:
The target on King Philip’s back is bigger than ever as the Warriors pulled off a second straight undefeated season and another state championship.

So how will head coach Brian Lee get this year’s team to focus on 2018 and not the past two seasons?

“The work and preparation have been the same but now it’s up to this season class to leave their legacy,” Lee said. “The previous two classes had their moments, now it’s up to these seniors to make their own moment. This team will go as far as these seniors lead them.”

The seniors will have plenty of opportunities to make their mark because King Philip doesn’t have a returning starter on offense. The Warriors need to replace quarterback Brendan Lydon, who didn’t lose a game as a starter. Junior Robbie Jarest looks poised to take over under center this season. While it isn’t a lot of experience, Jarest took over in the second half of the state final after Lydon got hurt and helped the Warriors finish off Lincoln-Sudbury. The toughest shoes to fill will be those of Shane Frommer, who will go down as one of the best players in KP history.

Junior Ryan Halliday will be the feature back while Aidan Bender and Sam Callanan will be in the mix as well. Jack Webster and Jack Collentro will be keys to the offense from the fullback position. Senior Terrell Jacobs Bastons has some experience on both sides of the ball and will likely start at guard while classmate Josh Fice will fill in the other guard spot. Junior Nolan Gunning is likely to get a starting spot as well, either at center or tackle.

Defense has been a staple for the Warriors throughout their successful run over the last couple of years, and that’s what KP will count on again this season. The strength will come from the linebackers with Webster back in an outside spot and Max Armour returning in the middle. Jacobs Bastons will be a big presence in the middle of the defensive line while the secondary will have familiar faces back in Aidan Bender, Timmy Nault, and safety Luke D’Amico.

And as we saw in the state final, having a reliable kicker is priceless. Cole Baker, who booted the winning field goal in the final, is back for his third year. Not only will he be a big help on offense, his kickoffs will be a weapon for the defense.

Mansfield

2017 Record: 8-3
2017 Finish: Reached D1A South Quarterfinal
Coach: Michael Redding

Key/Returning Players: Key/Returning Players: Damani Scott, Sr., QB/FS; Michael DeBolt, Jr., WR/DB/K; Vinnie Holmes, Jr., RB/LB; Makhi Baskin, Jr., RB/DB; Nick Marciano, Jr., RB/DB; Aidan Sacco, Sr., RB/DB; Philip Dinov, Sr., RB/LB; Chris Copponi, Sr., RB/LB; Chris Graham, Jr., OL/DL; Jason Comeau, Jr., OL/DE; Khristian Conner, Sr., WR/DB; Daenin Walker, Sr., OL/DL

Outlook:
Mansfield has finished second in the Kelley-Rex in each of the past three seasons and the Hornets will be counting on experience under center and depth at the skill positions to end King Philip’s two-year reign atop the division and return to the top of the league standings for the first time since 2013.

Senior Damani Scott will be the starter at quarterback for the second straight season and he will be backed up by the capable Jack Mousette, giving the Hornets plenty of experience and reliability from their signal caller. Scott will also have a ton of weapons to call on this year with a skill position group that head coach Mike Redding calls one of the best that Mansfield has had in a while. Khristian Conner and Aidan Sacco will be weapons in the passing game while junior Vinnie Holmes is back in the backfield. Juniors Makhi Baskin, Michael DeBolt (who was also an outstanding kicker last year), and Nick Marciano will provide depth in the slot/running back positions. Senior Daenin Walker and junior Jason Comeau will add experience to the offensive line.

Defensively, Holmes will return to the linebacking corps after setting a program record for tackles in a season as a sophomore. Seniors Chris Copponi and Philip Dinov also return and can play as linebackers or as defensive ends depending on matchups. The secondary will be strong for the Hornets this year with Conner and Sacco at the corners and Marciano and Baskin at the safety positions. The only new additions on the defense are Anthony Capece at noseguard and junior Joe Plath at linebacker.

Redding said, “We have an experienced, athletic, aggressive defense that should be tough to score on and we’re young on offense, but have a ton of depth and talent at skill positions. Just need to gain some experience up front with our new guys on OL and DL.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 6-5
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mike Holland

Key/Returning Players: Cam Perron, Jr., QB; Dean Pacini, Sr., OL/LB; Darnele Ryan, Sr., LB; Sam Stevens, Jr., DB; Shane Kilkelly, Jr., WR; Nathan Cabral, Jr., RB; Shane Murphy, Sr., OL/LB; Billy Tat, Sr., OL/DL; Luke Thibeault, Sr., OL/DL; Garrett Wood, Sr., OL/DL;

Outlook:
The 2018 version of the Oliver Ames Tigers have already had to make an audible after star running back Anthony Berksza suffered a season-ending injury over summer. Berksza had a breakout year last season, rushing for over 1,100 yards and finished with 16 total touchdowns, 15 of those rushing.

With Berksza out, Oliver Ames will rely heavily on the rest of its returning starters to carry the load. Junior Cam Perron returns under center after taking over the starting job during the regular season last year. While Perron looks to find some of his options, he has an offensive line protecting him that has some experience but will be looking to form cohesiveness throughout the year. Dean Pacini, Shane Murphy, Billy Tat, Luke Thibeault, and Garrett Wood all return with experience playing on the line. One challenge will be finding someone to step up and be a leader of that group after the graduation of two-time all star Jack Mills.

Nathan Cabral takes over as the feature tailback and OA head coach Mike Holland is confident the junior can get the job done. Holland says Cabral runs hard and is a tough player. Perron will also have the likes of Shane Kilkelly, Jake Erlich, and Evan Craig to work with as targets.

The heart of the defense will be at the linebacker position. Both Pacini, Murphy, and Darnele Ryan return after starting there last year and Holland will count on both senior captains to lead the way for the Tigers. Sam Stevens is back in the secondary at the safety position but OA will need some new faces to emerge alongside him.

“We’re looking forward to the start of the season,” Holland said. “We have a great group across the board. We have some experienced players back and some talented players competing for jobs.”

Taunton

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Brad Sidwell

Key/Returning Players: Noah Leonard, Sr., QB; Brayden Merrill, Sr., WR/DB; Tryton Zavala, Sr., WR/DB; Wesner Charles, Sr., WR/DB; Christian Tourinho, Sr., OL/DL; Cam Correiro, Sr., OL/DL; Corey Pintabone, Sr., TE/DL; Ryan Williams, Sr., OL/LB; Jared Rockwood, Sr., TE/DE; Max Moitoso, Sr., RB/LB; Prince Brown, Sr., WR/DB; Mason Frank, Jr., OL/DL

Outlook:
Taunton started last season with a 3-0 record, one of the program’s best starts in years, but then lost five straight games, including a playoff game against BC High, the top seed in Div. 1 South. The Tigers turned it on again from that point, winning the final three games of the season, including an impressive win against Brockton, to finish with a winning record under second-year head coach Brad Sidwell.

Experience will be a key for the Tigers this season, as Taunton tries to build on that playoff appearance and the momentum from a strong closing stretch. Senior Noah Leonard will be the starting quarterback for the third straight year and is now fluent in Sidwell’s offensive system. Leonard will have familiar targets in senior wideouts Brayden Merrill, Tryton Zavala, and Wesner Charles, while junior Cam Carroca looks to step in as a feature running back and junior Javon Franklin is a new target in the passing game. On the line, Taunton returns plenty of size in 6-foot-3, 337-pound tackle Christian Tourinho and his fellow senior Cam Correiro. Senior Ryan Williams will be the center, while junior Mason Frank, listed at 6-foot-2 and 274 pounds, will be back to battle at the line of scrimmage.

Size and athleticism will be strengths for Taunton on the defensive side of the ball as well. Tourinho, Correiro, and Frank can bottle up opposing running games and will be joined on the line by seniors Corey Pintabone and John Rockwood. Williams will lead the linebacking corps along with classmates Max Moitoso and Kyle Cuoto. Senior Prince Brown will be back at corner and senior Sebastien Celestin looks to step into the safety position.

“Taunton football is progressing forward,” said Sidwell. “Like all teams, we’d like to gain some confidence early in the season and carry it on. The Kelley-Rex division is challenging with great programs, coaching staffs, and communities. We are happy to be a part of it and want to represent Taunton High well by competing at the high standard set by the other league members.”

Mansfield Beats Rival Franklin For First State Title

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield boys basketball players celebrate after winning the D1 State Championship. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Just when it looked like Mansfield would run away the state championship, Franklin stormed back with a big run and had a chance to make it a two-possession game.

And no one was surprised because that’s the never-give-up type of team that Franklin is.

But when Mansfield was able to weather the storm, keep its lead, and break the pressure to pull away in the final minutes, it didn’t come as a big surprise either, because that’s the team the Hornets have been this season.

And with that, Mansfield earned a hard-fought 67-54 win over Franklin to earn the D1 State Championship, the first in program history.

“We’d knew they would press and do whatever they needed to do to get back into the game, that’s who they are,” said Mansfield senior Sam Hyland (17 points, five rebounds, four assists). “We turned it over more than we should have and we didn’t take the best shots. But from there it was just about winning the final three minutes, then winning the final two minutes, and so on. It was just about focusing at the time at hand and outworking them. They hit some deep shots, I have to commend them for those, sometimes you have to live with it. But we did enough at the end.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield led by as much as 18 points, up 59-41 with five minutes to play in the game after Ryan Otto (four points, four rebounds) hit a deep two just before the shot clock expired.

But true to form, Franklin turned things around. Jalen Samuels (seven points, seven rebounds, four assists) hit a free throw and then took a charge to get some momentum back. Sophomore Chris Edgehill (18 points) hit in the lane and Paul Mahon (14 points) splashed in a three to get the game back to ten, 59-49 with four minutes to play.

Out of a timeout he Panthers’ Matt Elias (eight points) picked off a pass at midcourt, leading to another three from Edgehill and suddenly the Panthers trailed 59-52 with three minutes to go.

Franklin had three chances to close the gap further but Mansfield’s defense wouldn’t allow it. Mansfield forced three straight empty trips, and then in transition, Mansfield junior Damani Scottt (19 points, four rebounds) drew the defense in and dropped a pass off right under the hoop for an easy two from Otto.

The Panthers came up short on the other end again, and Mansfield went on to sink six free throws over the final 90 seconds to secure the win the D1 State Championship.

“I can’t really put it into words,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I know the last time we were [in the state championship], the stage might have been too big. From the moment we got on the bus on Thursday, the kids were locked in. They’ve been locked in all season long. It’s been a great ride. We did great things in D1 South, we did great things in the EMass game, and we did great things tonight.”

While it looked like it may turn into a blowout in the fourth quarter, Vaughan knew that Franklin would go down swinging to the very end.

“That’s a very good team we just played,” Vaughan said of the Panthers. “We made some shots, we did some things we had to do but [Franklin] wasn’t underprepared, this wasn’t a lack of effort by Franklin. If we play this game 10 times, five go one way and five go the other. It comes down to the fact at some point in the second and third quarters, we made a few extra baskets.

“They weren’t going to go away, they weren’t going to roll over. They play hard, they compete, they do all the little things well. They were going to give us every last breath they have. Paul Mahon is one of the best players our league has seen in terms of his ability to change the game on both ends of the floor, especially defensively. He held Tyler [Boulter] (four points, seven rebounds) in check tonight plus scored points of his own. Edgehill is a special player, we still have to deal with him for two more years as a top player in the league. And Samuels is great too, and then they have great role players who step in a do a lot of things for them.”

Franklin coach CJ Neely had a similar outlook, noting that in the end, the Panthers knew it would come down to the small things. The Panthers finished 10-for-22 from the free throw line compared to 23-for-30 from the Hornets.

“As much as the hype went on all week, we talked about how at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to a couple of loose balls, rebounding and taking care of the ball, and making our free throws,” Neely said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to and they [made their free throws]. When you play in this rivalry, if you’re not making your free throws and they are, and they can go from four to an eight-point lead instead of keeping it close.

“When it starts to expand, you have to come out of what you want to do a little bit. And both teams have had to do that in all three games, we’ve gotten out of what we wanted to do because the lead extended. Then you’re doing something that you practice but it’s not your go-to or your identity. You’re trying to get back into it and you’re taking a lot of risks. Mansfield did a good job of extending their lead making their free throws, and we didn’t. At the end of the day, we didn’t do what we needed to do.”

While Mansfield had the key runs throughout the second and third quarters, they needed another one in the first quarter just to keep pace with the red-hot Panthers.

Holding a 10-9 advantage late in the first quarter behind a free throw from Samuels, the Panthers got hot from deep. Mahon took a feed from Edgehill and made a deep three, and then repeated the same sequence two plays later for a 16-9 lead with just over a minute to play.

Mansfield was able to answer over the final minute though. Hyland drove hard for two, Scott completed a traditional three-point play on a possession the Hornets had because of a steal from Khristian Conner, and then Scott came up with a late steal and went in alone for a thunderous one-handed slam to tie the game after eight minutes.

Franklin’s offense picked up where it left off as Elias drained a three to open the second quarter and junior Will Harvey joined in on the three-party with a corner trifecta for a 22-16 lead just over a minute into the second.

Hyland hit a three but Edgehill answered with a traditional three-point play to keep the Panther advantage at four. A free throw from Scott cut it to three, and two more from Justin Vine (five points) made it one after he went to the line after hauling in a defensive rebound because Mansfield was in the bonus.

With both Scott and Hockomock League MVP John McCoy (18 points, 11 rebounds) in foul trouble for the Hornets — and Samuels for the Panthers — Mansfield’s Hyland stepped up into the spotlight.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Hyland hit another trifecta, this one putting the Hornets up 27-25 with just under three minutes left in the half. Elias hit one free throw to make it a one-point game but Hyland got his layup to fall while fighting through a foul, completing the three-point play at the line. Two possessions later, Hyland once again attacked the basket, draw the foul, and got a kind bounce off the rim for another three-point play, plus a 33-26 lead.

Hyland finished with 12 of Mansfield’s 19 points in the second quarter and tied a career-high with 17 points overall on top of five rebounds and four assists.

“There wasn’t a specific game plan to get me going but we got into some foul trouble early so someone else had to step up and score points, it’s the Mansfield way,” Hyland said. “I had a couple open opportunities early that sometimes I’d pass up and wouldn’t take but fortunately I knocked them down. That gave me the confidence and then I started to get to the rim. I got a couple of bounces to go my way, a couple of calls and had a strong first half that kind of got the momentum back on our side. It ended up working out pretty nice.”

Franklin’s defense came out strong in the second half, holding Mansfield scoreless for nearly the first three minutes of the third. However, Mansfield’s defense was equal to the task and the Panthers only scored once, a layup from Mahon, during that stretch.

McCoy drained a three to give Franklin some life, pushing the lead to 38-28. Mansfield went up as much as 14 points in the frame (44-30) on a traditional three-point play from Scott. But Franklin closed with an 8-4 run with Samuels scoring the first four and Elias and Edgehill each contributing two.

Franklin nearly had a big stop to keep the deficit in single digits at the end of the quarter, but Hyland came flying in to steal an offensive board for an easy putback.

Mansfield opened the fourth with a set play to get two for McCoy, and then ran a set that resulted in a corner three for Vine. McCoy knocked down a pair of technical free throws to stretch it to 55-38.

Mahon answered for Franklin with a triple but two more from McCoy at the line, and a deep two from Otto gave Mansfield a commanding 59-41 lead, only for Franklin to charge back with its 11-0 run to make it a seven-point game.

“The resilience of this team….we’re never going to go away,” Neely said. “We’re not going to be the team that plays for the newspaper and loses by 10 or 11, we’re going to go out there and try and cut back into it as much and possible, and we’ll lose by 50 but we’ll do it trying to get back into it.

“We just couldn’t make a couple of those baskets there to get back into it. When Mansfield builds a lead like that, they do a great job of moving the ball and making you work, getting to the line and making their free throws.”

Vaughan agreed, stressing the importance of getting a big lead because he knew Franklin would continue to push back.

“This was a game we were fortunate to be up 18 so we could weather the storm and let the clock tick away,” Vaughan said. “But it comes down to what we’ve done all year. Otto steps up and has a huge basket, Vine hits the three in the corner. Different guys doing different things makes a huge difference for our team.”

While the Hornets secured their first state title win with a victory over rival Franklin, Vaughan noted his squad focused more on themselves and getting a win than about the rivalry.

“It wasn’t really about the opponent, it was just about winning this game,” Vaughan said. “If anything, there’s a part of me that knows how hard it is to get here, and I know what Franklin basketball is all about, and what CJ is all about and most of those kids I’ve coached at some point. They are great kids, great young men.

“There’s a part of me that has some sympathy. I wish there were times we weren’t in the same division and we didn’t face each other at some point. But we’ve also lost to Franklin back when they were in the South. It wasn’t about who we were playing, but it was about playing in this game and doing everything we can to win it.”

Franklin finishes the season 23-4 and had a second straight appearance in the D1 State Finals.

“The guys should be very proud of themselves,” Neely said of his team. “They are working hard year round, they are sacrificing a lot to put Franklin on the map and be one of the powers in the state. We’ve beaten a lot of good teams this season, we didn’t shy away from challenges. They should be very proud of themselves.

“These guys have brought Franklin to a place they had never been before and did it twice in a row. They have a lot to be proud of. Obviously, both teams wanted to win tonight, it’s two great teams that know a lot about each other. [Mansfield] was the better team tonight.”

Mansfield boys basketball picks up its 27th win of the season, finishing with just two losses.

“This win means a lot, I know a lot of players on [Franklin] and I’m pretty close friends with some of them,” McCoy said. “It’s definitely just amazing to beat Franklin in my last high school game.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

KP Wins Rematch With Mansfield, Advances to Final

King Philip football
King Philip senior Shane Frommer (25) scored a pair of touchdowns to lead the Warriors to a narrow victory over rival Mansfield and into the Warriors third sectional final in the past four seasons. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


WRENTHAM, Mass. – Over the course of its 21-game win streak, King Philip has found a number of ways to come out on top, particularly in close games. Whether it is a big passing play, breaking a long run, or forcing an important turnover, the Warriors know how to grind out results week after week.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

There was a lot of turnover from last season’s state title-winning roster and head coach Brian Lee has admitted that he was not sure how good the Warriors could be this fall, but the new faces have stepped right in where the previous team left off and continued to win.

On Friday night at Macktaz Field, KP extended its winning streak by another game, pulling out a 13-11 win against rival Mansfield, beating the Hornets for a second time this season and advancing to the Div. 2 South final. This is the third sectional final in the past four years for the Warriors.

Lee explained, “The kids just battle. They’re tough. They’re not much to look at but they battle and compete. I didn’t know if we’d be any good this year and somehow we’re here again.”

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are just laid back and chill and they know when to perform,” said junior linebacker Jack Webster. “They perform at the right times. We’ve got good confidence on the team. We’re just calm, cool, and collected and we just play team ball.”

After pulling away with a strong fourth quarter in the first meeting between the two teams, KP carried the momentum into this game.

The Warriors called for a reverse on the opening kick-off and Shane Frommer took it up the sidelines for 42 yards to start near midfield. Brendan Lydon (5-14, 69 yards) hit David Morganelli for 16 yards and then Frommer for 21 to get the ball into Mansfield territory. Three plays later, Frommer (24 carries, 110 yards) bounced a run to the outside for six-yard score.

“We score the first drive, everyone’s smiling, and I was like, ‘Remember, it’s going to be a long game,’ “ said Lee. He added, “I told them before the game, ‘I don’t know how it’s going to play. I don’t know what they’re going to do different this time. All I know is that it’s going to take the entire game.’”

After a three-and-out by the Hornets, Aidan Bender’s return gave the Warriors great starting field position at midfield. The Mansfield coaches were imploring the defense to come through with a big stop and that is exactly what the Hornets got, forcing three-and-outs on back-to-back KP possessions to settle the game down.

The first meeting changed on a first half interception and it looked like Friday’s game might too. Lydon was flushed out of the pocket by Nick Marciano and his pass was picked off by Hunter Ferreira, who returned the ball down to the Warriors eight and gave the visitors momentum. Three plays later, Damani Scott (5-15, 55 yards) punched it in from the half-yard-line.

The Hornets surprised KP by running a trick play rather than an extra point with Ferreira pitching it to Mike DeBolt for the conversion and an 8-7 lead.

The excitement on the Mansfield sideline was short-lived, as the Warriors returned the ensuing kick out to the 45 for another great starting spot. As usual, KP turned to Frommer and the Yale University-commit carried the ball five times for 42 yards on the drive, including his second touchdown of the game, this time from 10 yards out.

The Hornets had gone practically nowhere on offense to this point, but with 3:25 left in the half and starting at their own 23 Mansfield put together its best drive of the game. Scott hit Danny DeGirolamo for a 14-yard completion and Khristian Conner for eight yards, while sophomore Vinnie Holmes (17 carries, 89 yards) gave the Hornets a threat up the middle. Mansfield got the ball to the KP 16 and DeBolt nailed a 33-yard field goal with 8.4 on the clock to cut the lead to two.

Deric Casado had an interception to start the second half for KP, but the Warriors were held to one first down, Chris Graham making a big stop on Frommer on second down. Mansfield’s next drive got on the edge of field goal range but Evan Rice had a big third down sack that forced a Hornets punt. It was one of three second half sacks for the Warriors, who ratcheted up the pass rush in the second half.

“The coaches just made up a great defensive plan this week,” said Webster. “We knew what we’re doing and we attacked it.”

Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “We played tough on Frommer, they did a great job on our run game, and we just needed to complete a few more passes. They’re as good a team as we play defensively every year, they make you work.”

The punt pinned KP down inside its own 10, but Webster managed three yards on third and three for a big first down then Lydon hit Morganelli for another third down conversion and Frommer picked up another with a nine-yard dive up the middle. The Warriors managed to get as far as midfield to switch the field position advantage.

“They got a lot of big first downs,” said Redding. “The Lydon kid hit a couple of outs, great throws on time. Field position was a killer. We always started in our end and gave them the ball at midfield way too much.”

The game seemed to be over when Makhi Baskin muffed a punt with about four minutes remaining, but again the Hornets held firm defensively with Conner making a big stop on Frommer on the sideline and Baskin redeeming himself with an interception at the goal line on fourth down.

Mansfield had one more shot. After a sack by Webster pushed the Hornets back five yards to their own 24, Scott hit Ferreira for his only catch of the game and the senior appeared to be out to the 40 for a first down. After some confusion, the officials marked him down at the 38, one yard short of the marker.

“I thought we completed the pass for 20 yards on [third down], someone’s got to explain that to me, but even with that I don’t know if we’ve got the time to get the field goal,” said Redding. “You just hate to see that in a big game, that kind of mismanaging of the stakes.”

On fourth down, Holmes tried to fight his way to the sticks but Webster was on the spot, as he had been all game, to make the stop that sealed the win.

“Fourth and one, I was daggering off the outside,” Webster explained, “and Jack Piller made a great play and everyone just collapsed on him and pushed him back. It was a great team effort.”

When asked what has made this KP roster continue to find ways to win, Webster said, “Shane Frommer and Andrew Dittrich, our two captains, have just made us play together, play great team ball, everyone’s made plays when we’ve had to…it’s just been a good team game.”

The respect for the Mansfield program and all that it has achieved is evident on the KP sidelines and Lee said that the strength of the Warriors’ rivals has pushed them to be even better.

“You know why I love Mansfield so much,” he said, “because they have made this program work so hard to compete against that and that’s how we’ve gotten better. You’re either getting crushed by them or you learn how to fight and our guys have responded.”

King Philip (9-0, 5-0), the top seed in Div. 2 South, advances to the sectional final and will host No. 3 Bridgewater-Raynham next Friday night. Mansfield (7-2, 4-1) has not set an opponent for next week.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.