MILFORD, Mass. – With all things considered, down just three points heading into the fourth quarter certainly wasn’t the worst situation for the Milford boys basketball team.
The Hawks were on the verge of erasing a forgettable first quarter in which Hopkinton dominated, draining shot after shot to build a 23-4 lead — a 19-point advantage less than seven minutes into the game.
But Milford was never quite able to get over the hump down the stretch, going ice cold from deep in the final frame as the eighth-seeded Hillers earned a 66-59 upset of the fourth-seeded Scarlet Hawks.
“We were down 23-4, they were shooting lights out, and the hole was too big to dig out of,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “We kind of weathered the storm, we got it down to five or six [at halftime], we just couldn’t get over the hump. Give [Hopkinton] credit, they are a good team, they had a good game plan. They took away Colby and Ben with their box-and-one and their triangle-and-two. We needed other shots to fall. And [Hopkinton] shot the lights out.”
Milford trimmed the large first quarter deficit down to 13 by the end of the period, and the upward trajectory continued as the Hawks dropped 21 points in the second to trail by just six, 37-31, at the halftime break.
Hopkinton threatened to run away with it as its lead ballooned to 12 points (46-34) two minutes into the third but Milford continued to battle back, holding the Hillers to two points over the final four minutes and scoring nine points themselves to head into the fourth down 51-48.
The shot Milford needed never came, misfiring on their first nine three-point attempts from the field. Hopkinton opened a 58-51 lead just before the midway point of the final quarter before junior Ralph Franklin Jr. (15 points, six rebounds), who gave the Hawks a big boost off the bench all game, hit two from the line after hauling in an offensive rebound.
The score stayed frozen at 59-53 for over two minutes as both Tyler Wetherbee and Max Martin stepped in to take charges to give Milford a chance. Junior Jordan Darling (14 points, 11 rebounds) converted his own miss and Hopkinton missed seven straight free throws to keep the Hawks in the game.
Darling sank a free throw with 1:15 to go to make it 60-56, and senior Colby Pires tipped a pass free to give the Hawks the ball back, but Milford couldn’t convert on a shot in the paint. Hopkinton sank two at the line and then forced the Hawks into a turnover, sinking two more for a 64-56 lead.
Matty Varteresian sank his second triple of the game, and Milford’s first of the fourth, with 11 seconds to go but the Hillers had a large enough lead to hold on.
“We had open shots, they dared other players to beat them,” Seaver said. “We had some guys hit some shots but we just couldn’t get enough to go down, especially in the fourth quarter. And the defense wasn’t good enough for us. It was a sign of a team with three seniors on the roster. [Hopkinton] has seven or eight seniors on their roster and they made plays. When it comes to the tournament, seniors do weird things and can find a way sometimes.”
It was a dream start for the Hillers, who knocked off top-seeded Grafton in the opener round and now will take on Wayland in the D2 Central Final. Hopkinton went 9-for-17 from the floor in the opening eight minutes, including 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.
And it wasn’t just one Hiller either, as six different players joined the scoring column in the opening minutes. And each of the four three-pointers came from a different player with Steven Maffiore, Thomas Ambrosone, Brian Keefe, and Travis Finfrock all connected from long range. And Hopkinton big man Elan Rosen had his way down low, going 3-for-3.
Wetherbee hit a three, Sean Murray came off the bench for a free throw, and Darling had a strong take to help Milford finish with a 6-0 surge to qualm the storm some.
After hitting a three to start the quarter, Darling was whistled for a foul, sending him to the bench alongside fellow starter Dom Schofield, both with two fouls. Franklin Jr. kept the Hawks afloat though, hitting a three and then a free throw. Wetherbee added three the traditional way and Ben Blanchard got free for his first triple of the game.
Murray hit another free throw and Franklin Jr. had four straight points as Milford closed with a 5-0 burst to get within 37-31 at the break.
After going down a dozen in the third, Milford’s bench sparked the comeback to get the Hawks back in the game. Franklin Jr. fought for an offensive board and putback and Varteresian splashed in a three.
Martin added a three of his own on one end and came up with a steal on the other, leading to a fast break that resulted in two free throws from Pires. Darling closed with four straight points as Milford trialed 51-48 after three.
“Guys came off the bench like they have all season, we are a deep team and versatility has been a positive,” Seaver said. “It gave us a spark but we just couldn’t get over it, which goes back to the hole we dug early in the game which is frustrating.”
Milford boys basketball finishes the season at 14-8.
Milford, 57 @ Attleboro, 61 – Final (OT) – Attleboro went 8-for-12 from the free throw line in the overtime period to outlast Milford, who used a furious fourth quarter rally to get back into the game. The Bombardiers got all of their overtime points from the line with senior Nick McMahon going 6-for-8, finishing with 13 points in the game, and senior Qualeem Charles hitting 2-of-4, recording a team-high 20 points in the win. The Bombardiers got off to a terrific start with seven players scoring in the opening quarter, including three-pointers from Justin Daniels, Tim Callahan, and McMahon to seize a 17-5 lead. Attleboro kept its distance, holding a 28-18 lead at halftime and senior Bryant Ciccio scored eight of his 13 points in the third to push the lead to 42-29 with just eight minutes to play. But Milford rallied in the final frame as Ben Blanchard (11 points) connected on three three-pointers, Tyler Wetherbee added one, and Colby Pires (11 points), Jordan Darling (eight points), Max Martin, and Ralph Franklin Jr. (eight points) each converted to force the overtime period. The Hawks connected on seven threes in the game but did not attempt a free throw.
Canton, 61 @ Oliver Ames, 74 – Final – Oliver Ames junior Amari Brown scored 15 of his team-high 24 points in the first half and senior Jay Spillane connected on three three-pointers in the opening 16 minutes as the Tigers built a double-digit lead by half and never looked back. The Tigers scored 17 points in each of the first three quarters and added 23 more in the fourth to get the win. Holding a 17-9 lead through one quarter of play, Brown had nine points in the second and Spillane hit two threes to help the Tigers extended the lead. Ryan Burkett scored nine of his 11 points in the second half, Adam Cann and Owen Friel each hit a three in the third, and Evan Craig finished with 12 points for OA. Junior Eric Mischler hit five three-pointers in the second half and scored a career-high 36 points for Canton.
Foxboro, 68 @ King Philip, 72 – Final (OT) – Foxboro erased a six-point deficit to start the fourth quarter but King Philip’s Owen Conlin hit a pair of three-pointers in the overtime period, punctuating a terrific shooting second half for the Warriors in an important win. KP built a 16-11 lead through one quarter before Foxboro closed it to a one-point game, 30-29, at halftime. KP senior Alex Fritz scored 10 of his team-high 23 points in the third as the Warriors pushed the advantage to 47-41 but Foxboro senior Brandon Borde netted 10 of his team-high 21 points in the fourth to bring the visitors level. Conlin (11 points) hit a three a minute into the extra period and added another a minute later, pushing it to a six-point lead that KP held onto for the rest of the way. The Warriors connected on seven three-pointers after the halftime break while Foxboro totaled just two makes from downtown. Tommy Donahue scored seven of his 13 points between the fourth and overtime and had some key blocks for KP while Robert Jarest added 15 points, connecting on three trifectas. Donald Rogers added 16 point and Ryan Hughes chipped in with 12 points for Foxboro.
Sharon, 50 @ Franklin, 64 – Final – Franklin got off to a strong start in the opening quarter and built on that lead throughout the game to knock off visiting Sharon. Seniors Brayden Sullivan (21 points), Jack Rudolph, and Steven Karayan each hit a three in the opening frame to help the Panthers race out to a 17-9 lead. Sullivan added eight more in the second and senior Chris Edgehill (15 points) connected from three as the Panthers pushed the lead to double-digits, 33-22, at half. Sharon kept pace in the third, down 46-35, but Franklin put the game away with an 18-point fourth quarter. Declan Walmsey added 10 points for Franklin. Andrew Burton led Sharon with 14 points while Aidan Kane added 10 points.
North Attleboro, 60 @ Mansfield, 65 – Final – Mansfield nearly doubled up on North Attleboro in the first half but had to convert key free throws in the final seconds to hold off a second half comeback from the Rocketeers. The Hornets built 33-17 lead at halftime behind a 20-point second quarter but North Attleboro made it interesting with a 20-point third and then a 23-point fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to just one in the final minute of play. Sophomore Brody Rosenberg (17 points, all in the second half) drained a three and hit a pair of free throws to make it a four point game and North’s full court press paid off as junior George Ladd (27 points) got a steal and a layup to make it 59-57. Mansfield junior Matt Boen (17 points) made a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left to make it 61-57 but Rosenberg answered with a three to make it 61-60. Sam Stevens (23 points) hit a pair from the free throw line to push the lead back to three and North was just off the mark on the tying three and Boen hit two more from the line in the final seconds to get the win 65-60.
Attleboro, 67 @ Milford, 43 – Final – Four players scored in double figures for a balanced Attleboro attack. Nyah Thomas was the top scorer for the visitor with 18 points, but Liv McCall also had 15 and Emma Reilly and Meghan Gordon both put in 11. Emma Lawrence led the Hawks with 18 points and Jillian Michelson chipped in with 14.
Oliver Ames, 50 @ Canton, 67 – Final – Canton trailed by two points at the half, but turned things around with a dominant second half, outscoring the Tigers 40-21 after the break. The Bulldogs held OA to just three points in the fourth quarter and shot 10-of-17 from three-point range to pull the upset. Kiara Cerruti was the game’s top scorer with 20 points for Canton. Sydney Gallery had 14 and Fay Gallery added 13, while Samya DaSilva scored 11 and Kayla Albert finished with nine. Caroline Peper led a shorthanded OA squad with 19 and Kelsey Yelle had 10 points.
King Philip, 48 @ Foxboro, 69 – Final – Foxboro won for the second straight game, as Katelyn Mollica scored a game-high 25. Yara Fawaz added 12 points and Shakirah Ketant had 10 in the win. Abby Hassman continued to be a force on the glass, pulling down 13 rebounds.
Franklin, 53 @ Sharon, 20 – Final – Franklin put in another full-team effort to get the win on the road. Ten Panthers scored in the game, led by Ali Brigham’s 12. Nicole Teven and Trinity Payne each scored five to lead the Eagles.
Mansfield, 58 @ North Attleboro, 71 – Final – Amanda Kaiser and North Attleboro roared out to a huge first quarter and rode that big lead to victory. North led 30-12 after eight minutes, as Kaiser knocked down five threes and scored 17 of her 20 points in the first. Mansfield was able to cut the lead to 11 at the half by scoring 21 points in the second and switching to a box-and-one to try and slow Kaiser down, but North kept the lead at double digits after the third and won the fourth to seal the victory. Summer Doherty, Regan Fein, and Eliza Dion all scored a dozen points for North. “We came out aggressive from the jump and Amanda was hitting everything,” said North coach Nikki Correia. “I am so proud of how hard they battled and played for four quarters tonight on both ends!”
Attleboro, 126.10 @ Canton, 116.40 – Final
Attleboro, 126.10 @ Sharon, 100.35 – Final
Canton, 116.40 @ Sharon, 100.35 – Final
Vault: 1. Stella Krawiec, Att – 8.6 | 2. Aly Legere, Att – 8.0 | 3. Ali Dennehy/Amanda Burns, Att – 7.9
Bars: 1. A. Legere, Att – 7.4 | 2. S. Krawiec, Att – 7.3 | 3. A. Dennehy, Att – 7.2
Beam: 1. Talia Aidlin-Perlman, Sha – 8.2 | 2. S. Krawiec/Parker Sweeney, Att – 8.0 | 3. Lauren Raffa, Att – 7.8
Floor: 1. Erin Glearson, Att – 8.8 | 2. A. Burns, Att – 8.7 | 3. T. Aidlin-Perlman, Sha – 8.6
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.
Game of the Week – Football
Attleboro, 13 @ Milford, 20 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (A) Michael Strachan 1-yard rush, XP no good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Luke Rosa 5-yard rush, CJ Cerrella XP good; (M) Max Martin 1-yard rush, XP no good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (A) Jason Weir 87-yard pass to Ethan Cameron, Colby Briggs XP good; (M) Colby Pires 21-yard pass to Carter Scudo, C. Cerrella XP good.
Franklin, 28 @ Andover, 25 – Final 1st Quarter: (A) Josh Ramos 1-yard rush, XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Thomas Gasbarro 8-yard pass to Jake Davis, Parker Cheuvront XP good. (F) T. Gasbarro 15-yard pass to J. Davis, P. Cheuvront XP good; (A) Shamus Florio 31-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: (F) T. Gasbarro 20-yard pass to J. Davis, P. Cheuvront XP good; (A) J. Ramos 16-yard rush, J. Ramos 2pt rush.
4th Quarter: (A) J. Ramos rush, XP good; (F) T. Gasbarro 38-yard pass to Jack Nally, P. Cheuvront XP good.
Oliver Ames, 20 vs. Concord Carlisle, 21 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. 1st Quarter: (OA) Nathan Cabral 5-yard rush, 2pt rush failed; (CC) Christian Gemelli 49-yard rush, C. Gemelli XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (CC) C. Gemelli 5-yard rush, C. Gemelli XP good; (OA) N. Cabral 8-yard rush, 2pt rush failed.
4th Quarter: (CC) Cam Ladd 3-yard rush, C. Gemelli XP good; (OA) Cam Perron 18-yardpass to Adam Cann, N. Cabral 2pt rush good.
Oliver Ames, 2 @ West Bridgewater, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames turned 17 penalty corners into 25 shots on net, mustering two first half goals to beat West Bridgewater. Haley Gilman put the Tigers ahead 1-0 on an assist from Maggie Woods less than two minutes into the game. Cassie Gennis scored on a penalty corner from Ellie Waters just before the midway point of the first half to make it 2-0.
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.”