Rocketeers Rally But Can’t Catch Top Seed Duxbury

North Attleboro Football
Nick Rajotte (34) and the Rocketeers rallied with two touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the Div. 2 South title game but it was not enough to catch top seed Duxbury. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


DUXBURY, Mass. – With 8:34 remaining in the Friday night’s Div. 2 South final, Duxbury senior wideout Ryan Reagan made one of the plays that demonstrated why he will be playing at Harvard next fall. Mario Bresko had perfect position right in front of the 6-foot-4 receiver and seemed to have both hands on the pass until Reagan leapt and stretched out to pull the ball away from the corner and come down inbounds.

“We did good on defense, held them there and then you get the back shoulder fade to the big kid who’s going to Harvard and we had him covered pretty well,” said North Attleboro coach Don Johnson. “It’s just one kid making a better play.”

The touchdown put the Dragons, who some outlets have ranked as the top team in the state this season, ahead by three scores, but North refused to lay down for the final minutes. Instead, the Rocketeers sped up the offense and rallied with touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to close the gap.

The comeback eventually fell short, as Duxbury converted a third down that allowed the Dragons to kneel down to finish off a 26-19 victory at Raymond Chandler Field and keep their unbeaten season alive.

“It’s a great group of kids,” said Johnson of his team, which had its eight-game win streak snapped by Duxbury. “There’s a whole lot of character there. Certainly not disappointed with the effort by anyone.”

The North came out firing right from the start of the game, trying to put pressure on Duxbury’s senior quarterback Bobby Maimaron. Thomas Reynolds dropped Maimaron for a seven-yard sack on the second play setting up third and long, but the Achille’s heel all game would be the Rocketeers’ struggle to get the defense off the field.

On third and 16, Maimaron (16 carries, 85 yards) took a draw 46 yards down to the North 26. After the Dragons got the ball to the one, Maimaron capped the opening drive with a one-yard keeper to make it 6-0 (the extra point was blocked).

North did make a play on third down on Duxbury’s next possession with Nick Dean breaking up a pass to force fourth and 10 at the Rocketeers 49, but the Dragons faked the punt and Maimaron (17-34, 217 yards) hit Nick Gearin for 26 yards.

“Looking at all the films and they do that all the time,” Johnson explained. “Teams hold them on first and second down and all of sudden they’ve got some kid making a play somewhere. I think it all starts with the quarterback; he’s the key to the whole thing.”

Another third down conversion put the Dragons inside the 10, but North made a defensive stand. Nick Rajotte broke up a pass and Jay Loring pressured Maimaron into an errant pass on fourth down. The Rocketeers would not be able to do the same on Duxbury’s next possession.

Bobby Mylod and Hacmoni Cuevas combined on a 14-yard sack to set up third and 24, but Maimaron connected with Reagan (seven catches, 88 yards) for a 27-yard gain. The drive ended with Maimaron hitting James Miele for a three-yard score and in the process making history with his 113th career touchdown pass breaking the statewide record set by Natick’s Troy Flutie.

The Rocketeers’ offense was stalling, particularly on the ground where Rajotte (eight carries, 23 yards) was struggling to get room. “The run has been our bread and butter and that’s been setting up the pass really.” said Johnson. “It’s been the run controlling the clock and keeping the defense off the field and that’s what we weren’t able to do today.”

Duxbury tried to put the game away before halftime, electing to go for it on fourth and six from the North 48 with fewer than 20 seconds remaining. The move backfired as Cuevas stepped up with an interception and returned it to the Dragons’ 30 with eight seconds on the clock. North quarterback Chad Peterson (19-34, 269 yards) fired a perfect strike to Kyle McCarthy (five catches, 107 yards) to get North on the board at the break.

The Rocketeers had momentum going into halftime and the ball coming out of it with a chance to try and take the lead. After moving down to the Duxbury 29, Peterson was sacked by Brad Backlund for a 13-yard loss and then intercepted by Joe Gooley.

“That was big,” Johnson admitted. “I really thought that if we were really going to make a run for it then we had to get something out of that drive and we just didn’t.”

The Dragons capitalized on the turnover with a 10-play drive that pushed the lead to 12 points. Maimaron hit Reagan on a back shoulder throw in the front corner of the end zone for a three-yard score to make it 19-7.

The teams traded punts but then Peterson was picked off for the second time, this one by Maimaron, to set Duxbury up with a short field. Maimaron converted another fourth down with a three-yard keeper and then Reagan made his highlight-reel grab and it looked like the game was over.

North came right back on its next drive to go 72 yards in seven plays and used up only three minutes off the clock. Peterson hit David Engler on the far sideline, putting just enough on it to beat the safety, and Engler ran in for a 36-yard score.

Duxbury recovered the onside kick but decided to stick with its passing game rather than try to run clock with only five minutes remaining. Reynolds’ pressure forced one incompletion and Dean broke up another pass as North forced a three and out to get the ball right back. This time it was 80 yards in nine plays capped by Peterson finding Bresko for a 25-yard score, Peterson’s third of the night, to cut the lead to 26-19.

“He’s been tough all year,” said Johnson of Peterson. “He’s been in a difficult situation sometimes. We ask a lot of him. A lot was on his shoulders tonight and he stood tall like he usually does.”

The top seed was able to convert another third down to seal the win and lift the Div. 2 South trophy; Duxbury’s second sectional title in as many years.

Football: 2016 Davenport Division Preview

2016 Davenport Football Preview
North Attleboro, the defending Kelley-Rex champions, will look to make a splash in its first season in the Davenport. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016 Davenport Football Preview

Canton

2015 Record: 6-5
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Bohane

Key/Returning Players: Dan Alice, Sr., HB/DB; Dennis Ross, Sr., QB; Alec Ragusa, Jr., FB/LB; Brian Smith, Sr., OL/DL; Mark Whalen, Sr., OL/DL; Joe Mulkay, Sr., HB/DB; Thomas Monagle, Sr., K/FB/LB; Dan Pierre, Sr., TE/DE; Tony Harris, Jr., WR/DB; Ben Paolillo, Sr., OL/DL; Mike Marino, Sr., HB/LB.

Outlook: After falling victim to the playoff system’s alignment and just missing out on a postseason berth, Canton will be relying on a mix of experience and youth to try and get back to the state tournament under the new alignment.

Davenport division MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jake Ragusa is off playing at Merrimack so that will be a major void for Canton to fill. However, the Bulldogs do return some players in key spots that will help them out of the gates. Senior Anthony Ross is back under center and could see an expanded role in 2016. Dan Alice is back after suffering an injury last season and should lead a stable of running backs, led by fullback Alec Ragusa. Joe Mulkay, Dan Pierre, Tony Harris and Mike Marino should all factor into the offense as well for Canton.

Defensively, Canton has some experience on the line in Brian Smith, who also plays as a tackle on offense, as well as Mark Whalen, who saw valuable minutes last year, and Ben Paolillo. Alec Ragusa will be the anchor in the linebacking corps alongside Thomas Monagle (also the team’s kicker) and Marino. Harris, Alice and Mulkay figure to be important pieces in the Bulldogs’ secondary this year.

“The kids have a strong work ethic and had a good offseason and now a good preseason,” head coach Dave Bohane said. “I think we’ll be strong up front on both sides and we have kids in key spots with experience.”

Foxboro

2015 Record: 8-3 (Davenport Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D4 South Semifinal
Coach: Jack Martinelli

Key/Returning Players: Jamaine Few, Sr., WR; Mark Clagg, Sr., QB; Joe Bartucca, Sr., OL/DL; Trey Guerrini, Sr., WR/DB; Alex Parillo, Sr., OL/DL; John Cronin, Sr., K; Matt Mullally, Sr., LB; Brandon Corey, Sr., LB; Paul Darcy, Sr., DB; Matt Pond, Jr., LB.

Outlook: Coming off the program’s first league title since 2010, the Foxboro Warriors are hoping to stay near the top of the Davenport division again this year. And with one of the top returning quarterbacks in Mark Clagg under center for another year, the Warriors will likely be in the thick of the division race.

Clagg threw for nine touchdowns last season, third most among returning quarterbacks. After splitting some time with Darren Kelly last year, it looks like it was be Clagg’s spot full time in 2016. Another positive for having Clagg back is the experienced wide receivers he will have to work with. Jamaine Few is a big, experienced target at 6’3 and will be a tough one on one matchup for defensive backs. Trey Guerrini also has experience with Clagg while Phil Dure and John Whitehouse could be viable options as well. Foxboro will have to fill the void at running back, after the stability of Ronnie Martin and Keeyon Neal in previous years. Eseosa Omuemu, Matt Mullally and Anthony Capachietti are all possible choices to start in the backfield.

Defensively, the Warriors will rely upon experience in the linebacking and defensive back corps. Junior Matt Pond and senior Brandon Corey will be key cogs among the linebackers while Paul Darcy and Guerrini will be key pieces in the Warriors’ secondary. Foxboro will look to develop solid options on both the offensive and defensive lines.

“As always, the senior leadership plays a key role in the success of the 2016 campaign,” head coach Jack Martinelli said.

Milford

2015 Record: 7-4
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Joe Todd

Key/Returning Players: Blake Hill, Sr., RB/LB; Ryan Gray, Sr., OL/DL; Asong Aminmentse, Sr., RB/LB; Riley Burns, Sr., OL/DL; Harrison Bliss, Sr., RB/LB; Tony Mobilia, Sr., WR/DB; Jack Cappelletti, Sr., WR/DB; Alec Salamone, Sr., RB/DB; Pat Brogioli, Jr., OL/DL; Tyler Joyce, Jr., TE/LB; Shapel Feaster, Soph., RB/DB, Matt Curran, Jr., QB.

Outlook: The Scarlet Hawks have posted back-to-back 7-4 seasons and are hoping to continue their winning ways in 2016. With 11 starters returning, Milford is on the right track to do so.

It all starts with Yale-commit Blake Hill, who will be a top player on both offense and defense this season. Offensively he can hurt you in many ways, including running with the ball or catching passes. Hill will have some space to run thanks to an experienced offensive line that includes Riley Burns, Ryan Gray and Pat Brogioli. Junior Matt Curran will take over under center for the Scarlet Hawks and will have Jack Cappelletti, Tony Mobilia and Tyler Joyce as pass catching options to work with.

Defensively, Hill is one of the top linebackers in the league. He’ll be flanked by Harrison Bliss, Asong Aminmentse and Joyce. Burns, Gray and Brogioli will all be two-way linemen for the Scarlet Hawks. Shapel Feaster, who will also see touches on offense, will be in the secondary along with Alec Salamone, Mobilia and Cappelletti.

North Attleboro

2015 Record: 9-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D3 Southwest Semifinal
Coach: Don Johnson

Key/Returning Players: Thomas Reynolds, Sr., OL/DL; Bobby Mylod, Sr., RB/LB; Nick Rajotte, Sr. RB/DB; Kyle McCarthy, Sr. QB/DB; Chad Peterson, Jr., QB; Thomas Kummer, Sr., OL/DL.

Outlook: As with any defending league champion, the North Attleboro Rocketeers will have some holes they’ll have to fill this year. But Big Red also has a slew of talented, experienced players back as North Attleboro looks to make a splash in its first season in the Davenport division.

Junior Chad Peterson is back under center after a breakout sophomore season in which he tossed 13 touchdowns, second most in the Hockomock League. While Kelley-Rex MVP Nick Morrison has graduated, North Attleboro returns Bobby Mylod and Nick Rajotte, who will give the Rocketeers a variety of attacking options. Thomas Reynolds will anchor the offensive line from the center position while Peterson will look for Hacmoni Cuevas, David Engler, Mario Bresko and Nick Dean to emerge as receiving threats.

It will be a lot of the same faces making plays on the defensive side of the ball. Reynolds and senior Tom Kummer are two major pieces and will take up the center of the defensive line. Mylod emerged as one of the top linebackers in the Hockomock and in the state last season and will be complemented at the position by Ryan Kingston, Zach DeMattio and Cuevas. Rajotte and Kyle McCarthy both had solid years in the secondary last season and will be big pieces to the defensive puzzle again this season.

“It’s going to be an interesting year switching to the Davenport division,” head coach Don Johnson said. “It certainly isn’t going to be any easier.”

Sharon

2015 Record: 4-7
2015 Finish: Reached D3 Southeast Quarterfinal
Coach: Dave Morse

Key/Returning Players: Juvan Elisma, Sr., RB; Josh Rotman, Sr., WR/CB; Nate Hirsh, Sr., OL/DL; Ian Langol-Leonard, Sr., OL/DL; Wilhelm Bolt, Sr., OL/DL; Xavier Hackett, Sr., OLB; Drew Naisuler, Jr., QB; Austin Dodes, Jr., WR; Sam Spencer, Jr., RB.

Outlook: A lot of the players listed as key and returning players for Sharon this season were also on last year’s list, and that’s a good thing for the Eagles, who are looking to take the next step forward in 2016.

Junior Drew Naisuler will step into the starting role at quarterback and will have some weapons at his disposal right away. Running back Juvan Elisma had a stellar 2015 campaign as a junior, rushing for eight touchdowns – tied for fourth most in the Hockomock League and tied for second in the Davenport. Now Elisma will look to cap a strong football career at Sharon by leading an Eagles’ rushing attack that will likely include junior Sam Spencer as well. Naisuler will have an experienced receiver as Josh Rotman is back for another year while junior Austin Dodes figures to be another target this season.

“Our season will be decided by how physical we can be and if our new varsity players can step up and make an impact,” head coach Dave Morse said.

The Eagles will also bring back some experience on both sides of the line. Nate Hirsh has been a key cog of the line on both sides of the ball for the Eagles. Ian Langol-Leonard and Wilhelm Bolt also will likely be key experience pieces up front for Sharon. Defensively, Rotman also is back as a talented defensive back. Xavier Hackett is another name to keep an eye on, as the senior has been able to make plays for Sharon in the past and looks to do more of the same in 2016.

Stoughton

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

Key/Returning Players: Ryan Sullivan, Sr., RB/DB; Izon Swain-Price, Sr., RB/WR/DB; Dave Cellucci, Sr., QB; Nick Hardy, Sr., RB/DB; Jack Connelly, Sr., TE/LB; Harry Kimball, Sr., OL/DL; Lino Azul, Sr., OL/DL; Andrew Iverson, Sr., OL/DL; Ryan Pierre, Sr., OL/DL; Justin Ly, Jr., FB/LB; Brendan Walsh, Sr., OL/DL.

Outlook: No matter what team, it’s always going to be difficult to replace a three year starter at quarterback. But with the talented offensive line Stoughton has back this season and senior Dave Cellucci taking over under center, the Black Knights’ offense is in good shape.

The offensive line returns starters Lino Azul, Ryan Pierre and Andrew Iverson while Harry Kimball and Brendan Walsh – who both started on the defensive line – will play on both sides of the ball now. That experience will help give Cellucci a little more time in the pocket when he’s called upon to throw. Meanwhile, Ryan Sullivan, Izon Swain-Price and Justin Ly all figure to be key pieces in the backfield. Sullivan and Swain-Price caused havoc for defenses last season with a combined 10 rushing touchdowns. Swain-Price will also be a receiving option while Jack Connelly is back for another year at tight end.

Stoughton will look to continue its tradition of having a staunch defense. The Black Knights have depth on the defensive line with Pierre, Azul and Kimball all seeing time there along with junior Jason Joseph. Iverson, Ly and Connelly will all see reps at linebacker and Sullivan and Izon Swain-Price will likely be two of the top defensive backs in the entire league.

“We hope to stay healthy and get into the playoffs,” head coach Greg Burke said. “This has been a great group in the weight room and conditioning, that will have to carry us in the league. We know it will be a tough league this year.”

North Beats Mansfield, Stands Alone Atop Division

Kyle Gaumond
Kyle Gaumond (28) knocks the pass away from Hunter Ferreira (3) on fourth down to preserve a 14-13 win for North Attleboro and clinch the outright Kelley-Rex Division title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield coach Mike Redding has North Attleboro roots. Although he has been in charge of the Hornets for over 25 years and bleeds green, he took a moment after Friday night’s installment of this fierce rivalry to go to the Rocketeers celebrating at Alumni Field and congratulate them on the league title and urge them to bring home the Div. 3 state title.

It was a classy move by the Mansfield coach at the end of another emotional matchup between longtime rivals and perennial title challengers that North Attleboro won 14-13 to clinch the Kelley-Rex title outright and potentially the No. 1 seed in Div. 3 Southwest.

“This is great high school football,” said Redding. “It was a slugfest, two great teams, two great defenses, yards were hard to come by but both teams did enough to put themselves in position to win.”

The win gives North Attleboro its first league title since 2011 and its first outright Hockomock title since 2008. Once again, as has been the case all season, it was the Rocketeers defense that came up with the plays to win the game.

Leading by just a point with time winding down in the fourth quarter, North punted. Mansfield took over at its own 37 with less than five minutes remaining.

The Hornets got to the Rocketeers 33 and threw incomplete on first down. On second and 10, North dialed up a blitz and Bobby Mylod shot the gap to stuff Brian Lynch for a six-yard loss. On third down, the Rocketeers came again and sacked Anthony DeGirolamo for a seven-yard loss back to the 46. On fourth down, Kyle Gaumond leapt and swiped the ball out of the hands of Hunter Ferreira to end the drive.

North Attleboro ran out the clock and celebrated the victory.

“What we were trying to do is just get pressure on the quarterback,” said North coach Don Johnson. “I thought they had guys that they could throw to in the passing game…We were worried about it the whole game.”

“Defense has been doing it for us all year,” he added with a smile. “I’d just like the offense to score a couple more and make it a little easier for us.”

The Rocketeers offense looked great at the start of the game. Against a Mansfield defense that has been solid all season, North took the opening kickoff and marched 67 yards on 14 plays to take the lead.

Nick Morrison (12 carries, 68 yards) was big on the drive with six rushes, including a crucial fourth down and one gain of seven yards near midfield. Sophomore quarterback Chad Peterson showed off his arm hitting Davon Andrade for 18 yards and then snuck a shovel pass to Mylod on fourth and one from the four for the go-ahead score.

North Attleboro would not get another first down until its second possession of the third quarter.

Johnson said, “I think they frustrated us a little on offense. We had some blown assignments that we haven’t had in a few weeks, but I think that had a lot to do with their scheme over there.”

Mansfield was not able to get much going offensively but got a little spark right before the half. Ben Budwey’s punt return set the Hornets up at the North 37. DeGirolamo (7-11, 165 yards) hit Ferreira for 18 yards and then, following a four-yard loss, hit him again for another 10.

The Hornets had to settle for a 23-yard Diogo DeSousa field goal but were on the board and went into the break down 7-3.

To start the third quarter, DeGirolamo was strip sacked by Thomas Reynolds and Thomas Kummer jumped on the loose ball at the Hornets 37. But the Mansfield defense forced a turnover on downs, helped in part by Joe Bukuras’ tackle in the flat on Nick Dean for a four-yard loss on third and one.

The Hornets offense took advantage of the momentum swing and drove 71 yards on eight plays to take Mansfield’s first lead. DeGirolamo and Ferreira (six catches, 164 yards) hooked up for a 32-yard completion into North territory and then combined again on a 12-yard touchdown pass to the front pylon that put Mansfield ahead 10-7.

“He made some great passes,” said Redding of DeGirolamo. “Hunter is a great athlete and we tried to get him the ball tonight.”

“The offense is coming together. We just need to find a way to get to 21-24 and with our defense we’re going to win games.”

The lead was short-lived, as North Attleboro showed its resiliency to bounce right back. Peterson hit Ridge Olsen on the far side of the field for 14 yards and Nick Rajotte got 11, before Morrison broke free down the North sideline sprinting past his cheering teammates and the Hornets defense for a 39-yard score.

“We had the momentum,” said Redding, “and if we get one stop there and get the ball back with the lead, I think we win it. But, they’re a championship team, they answered, and they scored.”

Mansfield was not done. After a Connor Flynn sack pushed the Hornets back to third and 21 from their own 27, DeGirolamo and Ferreira connected on a 64-yard pass (taking advantage of a slip by the defensive back) down to the North nine. Again, the Hornets had to settle for a field goal and trailed 14-13 with 7:58 left.

Redding explained, “We thought we outplayed them in the second half and probably needed to score on the drive before, but we didn’t want to come up empty and thought that if we got a field goal and got the ball back that we felt good about driving.”

“Tonight we were just one drive away.”

Mylod, Gaumond, and the North defense did enough to stymie the Hornets on their final drive. When a personal foul flag was thrown for a late hit out of bounds on Mansfield with 1:30 left, the game was won and so was the title.

“I felt this team got over the hump and gained that confidence,” said Johnson. “This week in practice I had that feeling that everyone knew what they were doing for the first time. They entered the game with a lot of confidence.”

Even in defeat, Redding felt that this game had plenty of positives for the Hornets with the Div. 2 playoffs looming. He said, “We get a second life next week; this isn’t the end of the season. If we play like we did tonight, then we can make a run.”

He shook hands with the media and walked over to the North Attleboro players. As Mansfield made its way to the locker room, turning its back on the loss and focusing on next week, the Rocketeers stayed on the field taking a couple of moments to savor the win for a few more moments before moving forward.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.