Canton’s defense continued to shine, posting its second shutout in league play. The Bulldogs limited Milford to 53 yards of total offense and six first downs, with the majority of those yards and conversions coming on the final drive of the game with a running clock.
“We were looking at the weather all week and we were thinking it might work in our favor,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “[Milford] has such a good passing attack, they can throw the ball so well, so dynamic. Their slot [receivers] really got our attention. Sometimes our defense, we have to play the physical aspect against good running teams like Stoughton, and tonight we were challenged in the passing game. I’m very proud of the defense.”
The Bulldogs made life difficult for the Hawks, limiting the visitors’ potent passing game to just three completions in its first seven drives. But four of those drives ended in punts, another in an interception, a turnover on downs, and the end of the first half. The final drive, which spanned 66 yards on eight plays, was denied at the goal line to end the game.
“The conditions were advantageous with how we play defense,” Bohane said. “The defense has played any style we’ve asked them to play. I thought the coaches did a good job preparing, mimicking Milford’s offense and how they go about it — and they are very good, very explosive. We have some pretty big guys up front so we thought we’d be able to hold up against the run. It’s tough to get to their quarterback because he gets rid of it so fast, so we felt we had to have a body on a body, just accounted for everyone.”
Milford’s defense was equal to the task to start the game, forcing a turnover on downs on the opening series and then a three-and-out on Canton’s second offensive possession.
But Canton senior Jace Emma read a hitch route perfectly on Milford’s first play of their second series, jumping in front for an interception and giving the Bulldogs terrific field possession.
From there on out, Canton’s offense was unstoppable, scoring on its final five possessions of the game.
Following Emma’s pick, Canton needed just six plays to go 35 yards to take a first quarter lead. Highlighted by a 31-yard dash from senior Kyle Fitzgerald (19 carries, 109 yards), the Dogs punched it on fourth down when senior quarterback Johnny Hagan (11 carries, 56 yards, three touchdowns) kept it himself for a three-yard score and a 7-0 lead with 2:14 left in the opening quarter.
“Jace has been so good for us for so long,” Bohane said. “We lost one of our corners to injury and Jace stepped in. I was telling him that he belongs out there, I think he was up for the challenge. He stepped up and made that pick, and it was all him, he read it right in man coverage.”
After getting the ball back after a quick three-and-out, Canton marched 58 yards on 11 plays to double its advantage. An offside call shortened a fourth down and the Dogs gave the direct snap to Robbie Gallery on a fake punt to move the chains.
Fitzgerald converted another fourth down on the drive, and two plays later Hagan kept it himself and got around the edge to find the end zone for a 21-yard score.
Canton wasn’t done in the half though, with its defense once again forcing a three-and-out while pushing the Milford defense backward.
This time it took just seven plays to go 44 yards for the Bulldogs, After a healthy mix of Fitzgerald, Hagan, and Gersom Rivera (nine carries, 39 yards) on the ground, Canton caught the Hawks’ defense with a pass play as Hagan delivered a perfect pass to Emma on a slant for 22 yards.
On the next play, Hagan kept it himself for another three-yard touchdown, giving Canton a 21-0 lead heading into halftime.
Bohane and his staff were well aware the game was far from over, and with the firepower that Milford possesses, the Bulldogs’ put a big emphasis on the opening drive of the second half.
With its defense on the field, everything continued to go the Dogs’ way. An incomplete pass was followed by a second down sack from junior Matt Connolly, and a tackle from Jahmi Aldin for no gain on third down.
“We felt like the first series in the third quarter was going to be very important,” Bohane said. “The kids came out and played hard. I can’t remember how exactly it went down but we continued to play well on both sides of the ball. Everyone stepped up and contributed, it was overall a good night for us.”
The first offensive possession of the second half didn’t go exactly as the Bulldogs had planned but still ended up in points nonetheless. Hagan dumped a screen pass off for Fitzgerald, and he took it 45 yards to the end zone but the Bulldogs were whistled for a hold.
That meant Canton had to punt for the first time all night, but the Milford returner couldn’t field it cleanly and the Dogs pounced on the muffed ball.
Again, Fitzgerald found the end zone on a rushing play but again, a holding call negated it. Canton took advantage of a personal foul on the Hawks’ defense, as Rivera took it up the middle from three yards out to make it 28-0 with 5:12 to go in the third quarter.
But a couple plays later, Jack Connolly, Lucas Ragusa, and Gallery combined for a big sack on first down. And Ben Guerini delivered a third down sack two plays later, and the Bulldogs forced an incompletion on fourth down to get the ball back.
It took eight plays to cover the 35 yards, the longest play of the drive coming on Rivera’s 13-yard run up the middle as he bounced between defenders for a score and a 35-0 lead with seven minutes left in the game.
Canton football (5-0 overall, 3-0 Hockomock) visits North Attleboro next week while Milford (3-2, 2-1) hosts Stoughton in a potential playoff preview.
MILFORD, Mass. – Milford went for a home run on its first play of the game and had an open receiver, but the receiver got turned around and the pass fell incomplete.
It was one of the very few misses the Hawks had all game.
Four plays later, Milford ran the same play, this time connecting for a long touchdown. The Scarlet Hawks went on to score on four of its five first possessions, including three straight, as well as a defensive score and rolled to a 45-19 win over North Attleboro, the program’s first victory over the Rocketeers since joining the Hockomock League.
“We couldn’t have scripted it any better, it was almost a perfect start,” said Milford associate head coach and defensive coordinator Robb McCoy. “The kids executed really well. Our job as coaches is to have the game plan but its ultimately up to the kids and they executed the game plan very well. We trimmed [the game plan] down this week, we had a great week of preparation and practice, they were mentally ready and focused for this game. It’s all about the kids, they did a tremendous job.”
Senior quarterback Colby Pires (17/28, 296 yards, three touchdowns) connected with Max Martin up the middle for a 62-yard touchdown just 2:35 into the game. It was a sign of things to come for the Hawks’ offense.
On the second offensive series, Milford again needed just five plays, this time to cover 48 yards with Pires hitting Martin (six catches, 136 yards) on a slant route on third down for a 14-0 lead with just over three minutes left in the opening quarter.
And when the Hawks got the ball back once again, they ran seven offensive plays to cover 44 yards, capped off with Carter Scudo (five catches, 92 yards) taking the direct snap in the wildcat, using a block from Pires at receiver, and sneaking inside the pylon for a two-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead following an extra point from CJ Cerrella (6-for-6).
Meanwhile, Milford’s defense wasn’t giving the Rocketeers much offensively. The Rocketeers went three-and-out on their first two series with a total of 16 yards, and despite running nine plays on their third series, a fourth down pass fell incomplete after pressure from Hawks linebacker Luke Rosa.
Milford’s offense stalled for the first time on the fourth series and had to punt. But the defense came up with the big play as junior Dom Schofield came flying in on a blitz, sacking North quarterback Tyler DeMattio (10/23, 167 yards, two touchdowns) and forcing the ball free. Herrick Louis scooped the loose ball up and raced in from 28 yards out for a touchdown, the Hawks assuming a 28-0 lead with 4:29 left in the second quarter.
North Attleboro was able to get on the board with under three minutes left in the half. Aided by back-to-back unsportsmanlike penalties on the Milford bench that resulted in the disqualification of Hawks head coach Anthony Vizakis, and then a 15-yard late hit call, the Rocketeers moved 72 yards on five plays.
After DeMattio connected with Ethan Friberg for 14 yards, the sophomore quarterback took up the middle himself, plunging in from a yard out to make it 28-76 with 2:39 left in the half.
The Hawks’ offense wasn’t content with its lead and responded just 19 seconds later. On the first play of the next series, Pires aired one out to Scudo, who made a man miss and raced his way for a 64-yard touchdown and a 35-7 lead at halftime.
“I think we’re good enough on the perimeter with our athletes, and Colby is good enough, that we can be a take what they give you offense, and that’s what we did,” McCoy said. “At times, [North Attleboro] loaded up the box, sometimes they bring pressure, and they are very good up front. It was a matter of us executing what we can do. Colby is very smart, he’s like a coach on the field…and the receivers like Max [Martin], Matty [Varteresian], Carter Scudo…it’s kind of like your poison.”
It looked like the Rocketeers were going to punt for the second straight possession to open the second half but kept DeMattio in the game in the punter’s spot. Instead of a kick, the sophomore connected with Russell Dunlap on a seam route, the senior sprinting away for a 44-yard touchdown.
It looked like Milford was ready to respond as Pires hit Martin for 41 yards to get into North territory but on the next play, senior Owen Harding came up with a blind side sack to force the ball loose and junior Dan Hayes pounced on it to give the Rocketeers the ball back.
The offense cashed in, needing just two plays before DeMattio hit junior Alex McCoy. Milford gambled for the interception and McCoy raced the distance for a 59-yard touchdown to bring the visitors within two scores, down 35-19.
The momentum began to swing as North forced the Hawks into a three-and-out but the Milford defense came back and forced three straight takeaways. Xavier Hilton had the first interception that led to a 25-yard field goal from Cerrella.
“The second half, it was about tabling the emotions and just playing football,” McCoy said. “We think this team is athletic enough, good enough, and tough enough to play with anybody. North Attleboro is kind of like the Patriots, they’ll take advantage of any mistake you make.”
Max Martin intercepted the first pass of the next North series and Rosa broke through a pair of tackles on the first play for a 10-yard touchdown. Scudo came up with an interception on North’s next series.
“We had some bulletin board material that we saw on Friday so our defense used that, and I think they played well,” McCoy said. “[DeMattio] is such a great runner, we wanted to try and take that away. He did a good job at times but we were able to change our coverage and get some turnovers. [DeMattio] is a really good player, he’s going to be a great player so we wanted to be aggressive with him.
Milford football (2-0 Hockomock, 3-1 overall) returns to action on Friday at Canton in a huge clash of the top two teams in the division. North Attleboro (0-2, 1-3) will try to bounce back on Saturday when it hosts Sharon.
MILFORD, Mass. – There are different ways that a team can show resiliency. Last week, Milford kept fighting its way back on the road, not allowing Franklin to feel comfortable with its lead until the final whistle. On Saturday afternoon in its home opener against Attleboro, Milford was on the brink of putting the game away in the fourth quarter only to see Attleboro snatch momentum and tie the game.
Rather than allowing the game to slip out of their grasp, the Hawks overcame turnovers and penalties and pulled out a victory. Senior Colby Pires hit junior Carter Scudo for a 21-yard touchdown with only 1:34 remaining and Milford escaped with a 20-13 victory.
“Like I told you last week, these kids don’t quit,” said Milford coach Anthony Vizakis. “They play 48 minutes of football. We practice that way, we train them that way, and the results are speaking for themselves. Our kids battle. They don’t quit.”
The Bombardiers were playing their first game of the season and struggled throughout the second half with cramps. Junior Michael Strachan (10 carries, 53 yards) was forced to leave the game due to dehydration, while senior Isaac Gudiel and junior Justin Daniels missed portions of the game on both sides of the ball.
“This was our first real test,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “You don’t get this type of action [in scrimmages] and unfortunately we need to get in better condition. We had too many cramps and that definitely hurt us.”
Trailing 13-6 in the fourth quarter and with its bench struggling to maintain any energy, Attleboro came up with a huge momentum-shifting play. Milford got the ball down to the Bombardiers’ 13 but the defense managed to pry the ball loose from running back Luke Rosa (19 carries, 106 yards). One play later, senior Ethan Cameron (four catches, 136 yards) beat man coverage on the outside and his classmate Jason Weir hit him in stride for a 67-yard touchdown.
Out of seemingly nowhere, just when it looked like Milford was about to put the game out of reach, the game was tied 13-13 and the visitors were filled with confidence.
After partially blocking a punt, Attleboro got the ball at the Hawks 45-yard-line, but a CJ Cerrella sack (one of five sacks by the Hawks) stalled the Attleboro possession and Xavier Hilton returned the ensuing punt 31 yards out to midfield.
“They played man the whole game and they locked up and felt like they were going to bring it and they did,” said Strachan about the Milford pass rush. “I thought we had some success running the ball early and that was our intent but then we got banged up.”
Pires (25-of-41, 266 yards) swung a pass to Max Martin, who hurdled a Bombardier and drew a personal foul penalty for it. Then a 15-yard completion to Matt Varteresian was wiped away by a holding penalty. The third play was a catch by Hilton over the middle but he couldn’t hold on to the ball and Cameron recovered the fumble.
“Fumbles and penalties are going to be our biggest corrections,” said Vizakis. “Those are mistakes that can cost you games. They took advantage of it, but we’ll get those mistakes corrected.”
Again the Milford defense held and recovered possession. A short punt gave the Hawks the ball at the 37. Pires hit Scudo (seven catches, 81 yards) for nine yards, then for six, and then he again found the junior receiver open in the heart of the Attleboro secondary and he took it in for the game-winning score.
Attleboro had one last chance and converted a fourth and 18 (caused by a Herrick Louis sack) as Weir (8-of-21, 188 yards) found Cameron open in the seam for 24 yards. But, after yet another sack (this one by Rosa), Evan “Beav” Hazard picked off Weir’s final pass to seal the win.
Strachan said, “We’re young and we have to build off it. We’re really disappointed. We thought this was a game that we had a legitimate shot to win and I think we did a lot of good things and we need to build off that.”
The visitors grabbed the lead on their first drive. Weir connected with Daniels on a 30-yard pass down the sideline to get into Milford territory and from there Strachan took over. The bruising junior running back broke runs of 13 and 16 yards to get inside the five. He punched it in from one-yard out to make it 6-0.
Following a Scudo interception at their own 11, the Hawks marched 89 yards on 12 plays, including a crucial fourth down pass interference call, to grab their first lead. Gudiel stuffed Rosa for a four-yard loss on a swing pass, but then Rosa came right back with a 16-yard gain and a five-yard touchdown up the gut.
On its next possession, Milford extended the lead. Pires hooked up with Martin for a 22-yard pass to start the drive, but then back-to-back holding calls created a first and 38. On third and 18, Pires found Martin again for 20 yards and the first down to the Attleboro 13. Martin (seven catches, 105 yards) was drilled by Nolan Jaeger on the play, the second time that happened in as many drives, and Vizakis rewarded Martin by giving him the ball at the one and he scored on a jet sweep.
“A testament to his toughness,” Vazakis explained. “We knew when we were down there that there’s one guy that needed to finish the drive and it was Max. I’m so proud of him, offensively and defensively. Just a tough, selfless individual.”
Milford (1-1) will get a week off before opening its league campaign at Sharon. Attleboro (0-1) will have its home opener next Saturday afternoon against Dartmouth.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Graduation hit both teams’ offense hard. One team lost its all-star, dual-threat quarterback, and the other lost the bulk of its starting receivers, but on Thursday night at Pisini Field both Franklin and Milford showed that they have plenty of firepower remaining.
The two teams combined for 61 points, including 40 in the second half alone, and more than 600 yards through the air. In the end, the Panthers had just enough to hold off the Hawks and pull out a 34-27 victory in the season opener for both programs.
Franklin quarterback Thomas Gasbarro completed 70 percent of his passes (21-of-30) and threw for 293 yard and three touchdowns, while Milford senior Colby Pires completed 57 percent of his throws (12-of-21) for 325 yards and three scores of his own.
It didn’t take the hosts long to get into sync. On its first possession, starting at the Milford 46, Gasbarro hit Jack Nally for an eight-yard completion and then on the second play from scrimmage hit Jake Davis in stride down the far sideline. The senior receiver dove from several yards out and just snuck inside the pylon for a 7-0 lead.
“They’ve got a great connection,” Franklin coach Eian Bain said of Gasbarro and Davis. “Jake is such a terrific athlete and I think that shows in lacrosse and football. Tommy is just a grinder. I don’t think I’ve seen a tougher performance out of a QB. Milford was real creative with their pressures and their scheme defensively. Tommy stood in and he was getting hit on some of those throws.”
Milford’s defense came through with a big stand on Franklin’s next possession. Luke Rosa sacked Gasbarro on fourth and one from the Hawks 29. Milford got the ball and took only five plays to go downfield and tie it. Pires connected with Carter Scudo (four catches for 151 yards) on a 39-yard completion to get to the Franklin 15 and Rosa (16 carries, 87 yards) punched it from there.
On its first drive of the second quarter, Franklin regained the advantage. Gasbarro spread the ball around on the possession, hitting Ben Greco, Owen Palmieri, and Davis. It was Nally that got into the end zone, as Gasbarro threaded the needle on a pass to the front stick, getting the ball just over the corner to make it 14-7.
The Franklin defense held onto the lead with a pair of red zone stops. First, the Panthers were able to cut Pires a yard short on fourth and 11 from the 21 and then, following a punt that gave Milford the ball back in great field position, the Hawks got as close as the six only for Austin Jordan to end the half with a sack of Pires.
Franklin nearly extended its lead on the first drive of the third quarter, but Maxwell Martin made a great play to rip the ball out of the hands of Matt Lazarek for an interception in the end zone. Milford moved the ball out to midfield but there was controversy as the ball came loose on a jet sweep and Franklin recovered. The Hawks claimed it was a pass, not a hand-off, but the officials ruled it a fumble and the Panthers took over.
It became a bigger decision eight plays later when the Panthers punched it in for a two-score lead. Again, it was Gasbarro to Davis (eight catches, 166 yards), matching the receiver’s jersey number with a 23-yard strike. Although the extra point was no good after a low snap, the Panthers led 20-7.
That margin lasted about two minutes. On third and eight from his own 16, Pires found Scudo, who broke free of a tackle and got 28 yards. Then Pires slipped a pass to Dan Farrell over the middle and he found a seam for a 56-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
Fourteen seconds later, the stunned home crowd was right back on its feet.
On the ensuing kick, senior Cole Lakatos, a transfer from Maryland, stepped up to grab the bouncing ball at the 27, found a hole on the left side, and raced 73 yards for his first Franklin touchdown. “Lakatos is brand new, but he’s a football dude and football dudes can play,” said Bain.
While a special teams score could’ve been a beak breaker, the Hawks refused to go away quietly. A 10-play, 78-yard drive got them back within one score. Rosa set up the eventual score with a 22-yard burst down to the Franklin 15. Three plays and one penalty later, on third and 21, Pires threw one up for Scudo on the near sideline and the junior managed to come down with it just in bounds to make it 27-20.
“He’s electric,” Milford coach Anthony Vizakis said of Scudo. “He’s got the speed, he’s got the hands, and we’re really excited to see what he’s going to do.”
When asked if he was surprised at how quickly Pires has gelled with a new set of receivers, Vizakis replied, “They’ve been working all summer. He’s got those guys in the morning working and they’re doing extra stuff after practice, so it didn’t really surprise me. I think we’re only going to get better from here.”
The game settled down for a couple minutes as the teams managed to go just about eight minutes without getting into the end zone. Franklin appeared to put the game away with a 11-play, 71-yard drive that chewed up several minutes off the clock. Sophomore Mack Gulla opened his account for the Panthers when he burst through the line for a four-yard score.
Gasbarro showed off his ability to make plays on the run, keeping a couple of plays alive, taking hits, and managing to find open receivers to keep the drive alive.
“We try to work the scramble drill when we can, but a lot of that is just natural,” said Bain. “He did one that he found Jake Davis near the end there and I’m thinking we’re getting the sack and maybe we’re calling something safe on the next call and punting the ball.”
It seemed like the game was finally out of reach, but appearances can be deceiving. Milford came right back down the field, going 80 yards in only two plays, to make it a one-score game again and give themselves a shot at an onside kick. Pires connected with Scudo for 58 yards to get things started and then with Matt Varteresian for 22 and the score.
“Our kids don’t quit,” said Vizakis. “They play right to the end. We’re training them to play 48 minutes of football now and they played every single play. I’m really proud of the way that they played.”
Franklin managed to collect the onside kick with two minutes left, run out the clock, and finally take a breath.
The Panthers (1-0) will travel to Andover next Saturday, while Milford (0-1) will host Attleboro.
Milford, 27 @ Franklin, 34 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (F) Thomas Gasbarro 38 yard pass to Jake Davis, Parker Cheuvront XP good; (M) Luke Rosa 15 yard rush, CJ Cerrella XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) T. Gasbarro 23 yard pass to Jack Nally, P. Cheuvront XP good.
3rd Quarter: (F) T. Gasbarro 23 yard pass to J. Davis, XP failed; (M) Colby Pires 56 yard pass to Dan Farrell, XP failed; (F) Cole Lakatos 73 yard kick return, P. Cheuvront XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) C. Pires 26 yard pass to Carter Scudo, C. Carrella XP good; (F) Mack Gulla 4 yard rush, P. Cheuvront XP good; (M) C. Pires 22 yard pass to Matt Varteresian, C. Cerrella XP good.
Stoughton, 35 vs. Framingham, 16 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (S) Christian Georges 84 yard rush, XP failed; (S) C. Georges 11 yard rush, Christopher Ais 2pt rush good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Akye Boston 2 yard rush, Jack Beverly 2pt pass to Sam Stubbs good.
3rd Quarter: (S) John Burke 8 yard pass to Christopher Ais, Anthony Girolamo XP good; (S) Clayton Rahaman 19 yard rush, A. Girolamo XP good.
4th Quarter: (S) J. Burke 2 yard rush, A. Girolamo XP good; (F) A. Boston 53 yard rush; J. Beverly 2pt pass to Antonio Rivera good.
Canton, 0 @ Marshfield, 0 – Final – Canton senior goalie Alejandro Correal made 11 saves to help the Bulldogs earn a point on the road in the season opener for both squads.
King Philip, 4 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – King Philip scored twice in the final five minutes of the first half and then twice more in the final 10 minutes of the game to earn a win on the road over Sharon. Wes Orzell scored the game-winner, putting KP ahead 1-0 with an unassisted strike in the 39th minute. Three minutes later, Orzell set up senior Brian McCarthy to make it 2-0 just before half. In the 71st, Cam Lawrence deposited a free kick (earned by Evan McEvoy) into the net for a 3-0 advantage. Stephen Griffin added a fourth (assisted by McEvoy) in the final minute. Aidan Lindmark and Grant Orzell combined for the shutout in net for KP.
Attleboro, 0 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Locked in a one-goal game, Canton freshman Ellie Bohane scored her first two varsity goals inside the final five minutes to secure the win for the Bulldogs. Meg Aldrich put Canton up 1-0 off a corner with 10 minutes left in the first half but the Bulldogs couldn’t solve Attleboro goalie Ava Haggerty (22 saves) until Bohane’s tally with four minutes to go.
Mansfield, 1 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Foxboro sophomore Kate Collins scored with five seconds left in the game to salvage a point for the Warriors in their season opener against Mansfield. Collins scored off a corner with Molly McElhinney and Ella Waryas factoring in before Collins got the final touch. Stori Rounds put Mansfield up with just under five minutes to play in the first half while Kayla Hunter made six saves for the Hornets.
Franklin, 13 @ Milford, 0 – Final – Amanda Lewandowski and Leila Frankina each scored twice in the first half as Franklin rolled to a win to start the season. Lewandowski finished with three points, including an assist on Elizabeth Clark’s first varsity goal. Neilee Hess earned the shutout for Franklin. Paige Reisman had 20 saves in net for the Hawks.
King Philip, 3 @ Sharon, 1 – Final
Oliver Ames, 6 @ Stoughton, 1 – Final – After a scoreless first half, Oliver Ames scored five minutes into the second half and tacked on five more to record a win on the road at Stoughton. Cassie Gennis and Georgia Costello (assist) each scored twice for the Tigers while Sofia Anestam and Hannah Stryke (assist) each found the back of the net once for the Tigers. Haley Nelson scored for Stoughton while Kayla Laboy had an outstanding game in net, making 10 saves.
Taunton, 3 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – Taunton went on the road and picked up a win in the season opener at North Attleboro. Kennedy Thielker scored twice for the Tigers, both assisted by Kat Robinson, while Alana Tavares added an unassisted tally. Emily Gannon made five saves in net for the win. Jocelyn Pagliuca and Kathryn Baptiste also had strong games for Taunton.
Attleboro, 0 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Canton opened the season with a 3-0 sweep (25-16, 25-19, 25-16) to give head coach Pat Cawley her 200th victory with the Bulldogs. Senior Taylor Harris led the offense with 15 kills while adding 12 digs and three aces in the win. Angie Elias also had a strong day with seven digs, six kills, and a pair of aces, Liz Bickett added four kills and 11 digs and Nikki Desjardins had a solid defensive showing. Attleboro junior Ana Leonardo dished out 11 assists and sophomore Delia Barthel had three kills and two blocks.
Mansfield, 3 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – Mansfield started the 2019 campaign with a 3-1 (25-11, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21) win on the road over Foxboro. Sam Sternburg paced the Hornets’ defense with 20 digs and added 12 service points while Olivia McGrath had 11 kills and Emily Dardinski added seven kills. Foxboro had a strong defensive game to keep the match close, with Pam Nelson (10 digs), Grace Fortune (nine digs), Sara Addeche (nine digs) and Kelsey Treweek (six digs) leading the way.
Franklin, 1 @ Milford, 3 – Final – Milford bounced back from dropping the first set to secure a 3-1 (24-26, 26-24, 25-20, 25-21) win at home against Franklin. Julia Riordan paced the Hawks offense, dishing out 28 assists. Lauren Corsini had a strong game in the middle with 11 kills and six blocks, Alyssa Williamson added six kills, and Sarah Brogioli anchored the defense with 15 digs.
King Philip, 3 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – King Philip went on the road and picked up a win in its first game of the season, 3-0 (25-13, 25-12, 25-13) over Sharon. Middles Catherine Waldeck (nine kills, three blocks) and Nicole Coughlan (nine kills, two aces) both had strong games for the Warriors, Kristen Masse added four kills, four digs, and three aces, and Emma Brooks chipped in with six digs and four aces.
Taunton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final – North Attleboro defended home court with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-18) win over visiting Taunton. Haley Gaskin dished out 22 assists to pace the Rocketeers with Kylie Melanson (six kills) and Joanna Collins-Bilyeu (five kills) leading the offense. Alyssa Turcotte had five kills and a block for the Tigers while Sonya Fernandez added four kills and a pair of aces.
Oliver Ames, 3 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames senior Allie Kemp dished out 27 assists to lead the Tigers to a 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-16) win over Stoughton. Kemp moved within two assists of the 1,000 mark. Junior Caroline Flynn added 10 kills while senior Ryley McNeeley added eight kills and five aces. OA senior Alison Barth had a strong game defensively with 21 digs, 23 serve receptions, and a pair of aces.
Oliver Ames, 151 @ Attleboro, 164 – Final – Oliver Ames bounced back with a win on the road over Attleboro at Stone-E-Lea. Sam Becker paced the Tigers with a medalist round of 35 while Brad Powers (38), Justin Shapiro (39), and Jo Jo Gaultier (39) all shot under 40 for Oliver Ames.
Stoughton, 194 @ North Attleboro, 156 – Final – North Attleboro’s Jillian Barend shot a one-under round of 34 at the middle course at Heather Hill to pace the Rocketeers to a win. Jake Gaskin added a round of 39, Aidan Weir carded a 40, and Brett Dusel and Sam Gallagher each finished at 43. Max Huminik led Stoughton with a round of 46.
Franklin, 158 vs. Nipmuc, 173 – Final – Jack Paterson led the way for the Panthers with a team-low round of 38 while Quinten Faro was right behind him with a round of 39.
Canton had its best season in recent memory a year ago, but the 2019 squad is aiming to take it one step further.
With starters back at almost every position, Canton is aiming to defend its Davenport division title and get back to the sectional final for the second straight season. Johnny Hagan is back under center this season and has all of his weapons back. The Bulldogs ran a mix of Wing-T and spread offense a year ago so Hagan is comfortable running whatever is needed this year. Kyle Fitzgerald, Gersom Rivera, and Cam Sanchez are all talented backs that can help grind down opposing defenses while Hagan makes a lot of plays with his feet as well. Jace Emma was one of Hagan’s favorite targets last year and he will be joined by David Allen as options in the passing game. The offensive line will be anchored by senior Jack Connolly, who missed a good amount of last season with an injury. Matt Connolly, Derrell Brown, and Lucas Bryant return to the line as well while Carson Campbell and Brandon Baran are in the mix for the final spot.
A lot of the same names will make plays on the defensive end as well with Jack Connolly and Matt Connolly teaming up with Nnamdi Onyemelukwe to provide size on the line. The strength of the defense will once again be with the linebackers as the Bulldogs have James Murphy back in the middle alongside junior Lucas Ragusa. Owen Lehane and Robbie Gallery both had strong seasons coming from the outside. The entire secondary is back for the Bulldogs with Rivera and Sanchez handle the corners and Fitzgerald and Allen provide physicality from the safety spots. And for special teams, Lehane handles kicking duties, Allen returns as the punter, and Rivera and Fitzgerald handle return duties. The Bulldogs will look to build some depth with so many two-way players in the lineup.
“We have a lot of experience with a lot of guys that have played at this level, and we had the playoff run so that should definitely help us down the road,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “We are focused on Dighton-Rehoboth, focusing on one game at a time. We have a lot of competitors that don’t quit.”
Foxboro’s biggest win of the season came in its final game, a thrilling overtime win over rival Mansfield at Fenway Park two days before Thanksgiving. If the Warriors are able to carry any of that momentum into the 2019 season, Foxboro will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport division title.
The Warriors return a good amount of talent from last year but will need to find a replacement for Liam Foley, who came on strong at the end of last season. Senior Shayne Kerrigan and junior Cam Prescott have both taken reps this preseason so longtime coach Jack Martinelli and his staff will have two good options to work with under center. Last year’s leading rusher Mike Luong also graduated so there will be an opportunity for someone to take on carries out of the backfield. The Warriors have good skill options in Brian Derba (three touchdown catches last year) and split ends Elijah Lewis and Ryan Hughes. Foxboro has some experience on the line as well as Zach Jenkins and Aidan Dow are both returning starters at the guard position.
Foxboro’s defense has returning players at all three levels so the Warriors will likely rely on that side of the ball, especially early on against two strong non-league foes. Anton George, a HockomockSports Hock 5 selection for defensive line, is back and will be a force to deal with for opponents. Austin Read will be key in Foxboro’s run defense from the defensive tackle spot. Mike Sheehan returns to anchor the linebackers group after a standout junior season. The secondary should be one of the top units in the league with a lot of experienced playmakers. Derba and Kerrigan made a lot of plays defensively last year and Michael Devlin could be poised for a big year for the Warriors.
“With a challenging scrimmage schedule and formidable non-league opponents, we should be prepared for the Hock grind,” Martinelli said “We have several key components returning to make this possible, but it’s one game at a time.”
Milford just missed out on the playoffs last season but the 2019 Scarlet Hawks are determined to get back to postseason play.
There is a lot of experience on both sides of the ball, and maybe most importantly, at key positions both offensively and defensively. The Hawks have Colby Pires back at quarterback after a big junior season that saw him toss 22 touchdowns, second most in the Hockomock League. But the challenge will be developing chemistry with a brand new set of receivers. Brendan White (12), Sean Lehane (5), and Shapel Feaster (5) all graduated so Milford is looking for new names to step up and make plays offensively. Junior Carter Scudo is a terrific athlete and will be one of the top options while Max Martin, Matt Varteresian, Herrick Louis, Kevin O’Connor, and Xavier Hilton are all battling to get reps on the field. Milford does bring back its leading rusher in Luke Rosa (seven rushing touchdowns), a very powerful back that will help the Hawks pound the ball. Juniors Nick Yohn, Dom Schofield, Mario Lee, and Dom Stallbaum provide a physical yet athletic offensive line.
The linebackers will be the heart of the Hawks’ defense this season. CJ Cerrella had a breakout junior year and will be on the top linebackers in the Hockomock League this season. He will be joined by Rosa, Louis, and O’Connor. A lot of the offensive line will see action on the defensive side of the ball as well while Scudo returns as a top defensive back at the safety position. Look for Martin, Varteresian, and Hilton to factor into the secondary as well for Milford this season.
“We have a very focused, determined, and excited team this season,” said head coach Anthony Vizakis. “They are a hard working group of guys with their eyes on one goal, one mission, and they are determined to do it together.”
The Rocketeers have won four straight league titles, the last three in the Davenport division, and will be looking to make it five straight this year.
If North Attleboro does make it five straight, they will need some new players to step up into new roles to do so. The Big Red graduated a lot of talent in almost every position but the Rocketeers are a program that doesn’t rebuild, they reload. The strength of the offensive will start with the offensive line as there are three returning starters. Ethan Mottinger (6’6, 294), who committed to UMass over the offseason, and John Kummer (5’11, 256) man the tackle positions while Ethan Friberg (6’5, 252) adds additional protection from the tight end position. Senior Casey Poirier, junior Matt Penta, and sophomore Tyler DeMattio are locked in a healthy battle at quarterback with each bringing a unique skill set to the offense. North lost almost all of its skill position players but there are a variety of versatile junior backs battling for time. Friberg, Russell Dunlap, and Robbie Donovan will be options in the passing game.
The strong suit of the Rocketeers’ defense will be in the front seven with several returning lineman and senior captain Tom O’Neill anchoring the linebackers. Friberg will be on one end while Montrel Jackson will see time at the other defensive end position. Kummer is joined by Trevor Hewett at defensive tackle to give North a strong, experienced defensive line. Owen Harding and Jacob Silva are in the mix to join O’Neill at linebacker while North will look for some new names to step up in its secondary alongside Jared and Matt Penta. DeMattio returns as the kicker after a standout freshmen campaign (32-for-35 PAT, 3-for-4 field goals).
“We will need to find a way to stay healthy and quickly develop some depth,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “With the inexperience in the skill positions, we expect there to be some early growing pains, but we are hopeful that the great attitude and work ethic that has been displayed in the preseason will help us overcome the lack of experience.”
Sharon might not have as many players as some of the other programs in the league and might not match up in terms of size, but the Eagles have plenty of fight and are looking to showcase that this year.
The Eagles are going to look to capitalize on their team speed this year. Junior Nic Morrero was strong on both sides of the ball last season and will likely feature in the backfield this season for the Eagles. John Saab is another returning play that should pick up carries for the Eagles this year. Junior Kiran Chadrasekaran looks set to take over under center for the Eagles and will have a couple of experienced players to work with in senior receiver Alec Filipkowski and junior tight end Ike Ogbonnanze while junior receiver Owen Conway will likely see an expanded role this season.
Senior Jaden Williams-Thomas returns to anchor both the offensive and defensive lines and will be joined by junior Shea Letendre. Williams-Thomas will handle defensive tackle duties and should be a big part of the Eagles’ defense this year. Marrero anchors the linebackers alongside Saab and Ogbonnanze while Filipkowski and Conway will see time in the secondary.
“We have a great group of relentless players that have the right attitude and understand that they have a ton to prove,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Stoughton didn’t have the season it wanted in terms of record, but the Black Knights were competitive in just about every game last year and are hoping to get back in the hunt for the Davenport crown this year.
Despite finishing 4-7, Stoughton beat both Davenport champions in North Attleboro (21-10) and Canton (28-7 on Thanksgiving) during the year. If the Black Knights are able to string together those type of performances throughout the year, they will definitely be competing for their first division crown since 2015. Offensively, Stoughton has a good battle at quarterback with junior John Burke and senior Clayton Rahaman. Both saw time last year so head coach Greg Burke has two experienced options to start under center. The offensive line should be a strength for Stoughton with a good group of seniors that includes Oluwole Fabikun, Jaden McCall, Carlvin LaGuerre, and Jerry Brisson. Having a strong and experienced line will set things up nicely for the Black Knights strong run game, which will feature Savion Scott, Christopher Ais, and Christian Ais. Tight end Anthony Pizzano, junior Jake Queeney, and track star David Peters will provide options in the pass game.
Stoughton is often known for its defense and will be looking for that to continue during the 2019 season. Kelven Rodrigues will be a big part of the defensive line for the Black Knights, joined by Brisson, LaGuerre, and Fabikun. Georges had a very strong season on the end last season but will mostly line up as a linebacker this year, alongside Scott and Christopher Ais. Stoughton will have a hard hitting secondary once again this season with Burke, Pizzano, Christian Ais and Kamari Grant all likely to see time.
“We hope to stay healthy and be competitive in the league, all of our athletes improved their strength and conditioning,” Burke said. “We have many juniors also playing and will be a big part of the team. We will need help from all players and try to improve depth.”