CANTON, Mass. – With leading rusher Cam Sanchez sidelined with an injury and facing a short week ahead of Thursday night’s visit from Sharon at WWII Veterans Memorial Field, Canton was searching for different ways of getting into the end zone.
For the first time this season, the Bulldogs found success in the passing game. Canton threw a pair of first half touchdowns, including one on a halfback pass by Jack Albert, and leaned on its defense during a scoreless second half to pull out a 17-6 win over the Eagles that moves the Bulldogs back to .500 on the season.
“We’re trying to find ways to replace Cam Sanchez, and it’s a difficult thing to do when you have someone that dynamic,” admitted Canton coach Anthony Fallon. “The guys are finding their way into different positions. Sometimes you give up some yards and then you can buckle down when you figure it out.”
Canton had good field position to start its opening drive and took advantage, going 59 yards in 10 plays to jump in front. The Bulldogs had good balance, with Colin Albert (15 carries, 59 yards), Jack Albert (nine carries, 65 yards), and quarterback Robert Botelho all getting positive yards on the ground.
After a false start on fourth and two back the Bulldogs up to the Sharon 33, Botelho (7-for-13, 77 yards) rolled out to his left and hit Vincent O’Brien in stride down the near sideline for the touchdown. It was Botelho’s first career touchdown pass.
The Bulldogs would started their third possession from their own 42 and again made the good field position count for points. Botelho found Jack Albert for a 23-yard gain down to the Eagles 26. Bahsor Mahn gained six on third and five down to the 15-yard-line, but the drive stalled there. Will Keefe made sure Canton didn’t leave empty-handed, kicking a 33-yard field goal.
Sharon needed a spark and found some life offensively on the ensuing possession. Kiran Chandrasekaran (11-for-20, 174 yards and 14 carries for 55 yards) rushed for 29 yards on a keeper to get the ball into Canton territory. On first down from the 20, Chandrasekaran fired a strike on the far sideline to PJ McManus. The extra point was blocked, but the Eagles cut the lead to 10-6.
It was Canton’s turn to answer and the Bulldogs needed only three plays to get back in front by double digits. Andrew Butler’s kickoff return out to the 44-yard-line set up the drive. Jack Albert took a toss for 11 yards to the left. Butler went around the right side for 13. Fallon called for a little trickery, as Albert took the toss to the left, pulled up, and lofted a perfect pass to Butler for a 32-yard score.
“A little jet pass from Mr. Albert,” said Fallon. “We ran that in practice and this afternoon I think he was all geared up and wanted to run it and we thought it was good time to do it. Senior night, you want the win but you also want them smiling and having fun and that was part of the fun tonight.”
The visitors had more than two minutes left in the half and tried for an instant response. A 40-yard pass to Owen Conway got them into Canton territory and a personal foul call added 15 more yards down to the 19. Carson Campbell made a big play to drop Ike Ogbannanze for a five-yard loss, on third down Ryan Richards sacked Chandrasekaran, and the Bulldogs forced a turnover on downs.
“Kiran had a great game,” said Sharon coach Dave Morse. “He helps us with both the run and the pass. The receivers did a great job with a couple of big catches. We’re moving it but then we’ve got to finish it off. It’s been the story of the last couple of years and the next three weeks we’ve got to figure out how to finish.”
Late in the third quarter, Canton went for it on fourth and three at the Sharon 41, but Albert was stripped of the ball and Jack Murphy jumped on the fumble for the Eagles. Nico Marrero picked up nine yards to convert a third and five and Chandrasekaran hit Ogbannanze for 13 on a fourth and six.
Sharon got as far as the Canton 24 but a Campbell sack on fourth down put an end to the drive.
“We really killed ourselves with penalties and field position, so that was the difficult part of moving the ball in the second half,” Fallon explained. “They had couple of sustained rives where we didn’t lock it down until they got deep into our territory.”
After a three-and-out by the Bulldogs, Sharon was on the move again. Chandrasekaran and McManus (four catches, 53 yards) combined for 24 to the Bulldogs 40 and then Conway made a grab down to the 27. A holding call backed the Eagles up but gains of seven, six, and eight yards brought up fourth and one from the 18. Chandrasekaran’s keeper was stuffed for a loss of one.
Penalties were an issue for the Bulldogs throughout the second half and a holding call pushed Canton back to its own eight. On third and 17, Butler came up with a huge play that effectively sealed the win, He took a sweep to the right, cut inside and broke a 22-yard run for a critical first down.
“He did a great job there,” Fallon said of Butler’s run. “He hit the seam really nice and covered up the ball when he had contact too.”
Morse added, “We had some guys up front, all did a great job and the linebackers were getting more aggressive. Defensively, I think we saw the progression we wanted. A couple mistakes and they bit us for it but I was very, very happy with the effort to the football.”
Canton (2-2) will host King Philip in a divisional crossover game next Friday afternoon. Sharon (0-4) will step outside the Hock and travel to Blue Hills.
It’s a new era in Canton as Anthony Fallon takes over for longtime head coach Dave Bohane, who stepped down from his second stint in charge of the Bulldogs at the end of last season.
While it’s a new era, all of the players and coaches are hoping that the success from the past two seasons continues going forward. If that success is going to continue, it’s going to be by a host of new faces. The Bulldogs graduated a historic class that won back-to-back Davenport division titles and reached the D5 South Sectional final in 2019. While competing for the Davenport division title this year, Canton will lean heavily on its few returners while new players take advantage of the new opportunities.
Senior Matt Connolly is a force on both sides of the ball, protecting the quarterback on the offensive line and leading the way for the ground game with his blocking. And defensively, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound senior who is committed to play at Assumption College, is an absolute handful and requires a lot of attention. Cam Sanchez is another experienced player back for the Bulldogs and will be involved in the running game offensively and apart of the secondary defensively. Carson Campbell started all 11 games for Canton last year at right tackle and will add defensive line duties this season. Jack Albert should see an expanded role on both sides of the ball and will be one of the main targets in the receiving game.
“Our team has great speed in our secondary, we are big and strong upfront and our linebackers are tough and fast,” Fallon said. “We have a solid mix on our varsity of juniors and seniors. I am also excited with our numbers on the sub-varsity level with 30-plus players. With a tough-minded defense and a fast offense, I know we will compete in every game.”
There is a lot of optimism in Foxboro for the Fall II season, and with a strong group of returning starters in different spots all over the field, there is good reason for it.
The Warriors seem to be in the mix for the Davenport division title each season, coming in third in 2019 and 2017. With talent back in key spots, Foxboro could be a serious contender for their first crown since 2015. The offense starts with the line and Foxboro has some experience and size to work with. Senior Sean Ferguson is a towering presence at 6’5, 315-pounds and anchors the line from the center position and he will be joined by junior Dylan Kerrigan (6’0, 205) at tackle. Senior Cam Prescott will start under center and will have a bevy of options to work with including playmaker Luis Sulham and junior Rashaad Way. Look for Chris McNamara to pick up where he left off carrying the ball.
Foxboro has an equal amount of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball with the strength of the team coming from the linebackers and the secondary. Seniors Mike Norvish and James Stamatos return with plenty of varsity experience under their belts and will anchor the linebacker position while senior James Kraus will start at safety and will be accompanied in the secondary by Way and Tom Sharkey, both juniors. One player to keep an eye out for is senior Jon Moses, a 6’4 defensive end that really improved over the course of last season and could be a handful for opposing offenses to deal with.
“The heart and soul of team this year is the senior leadership and experience along with a strong and talented junior class,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli.
North Attleboro was ravished by injuries during the 2019 season and the result was the program’s first sub-.500 season in 27 years. It speaks volumes to how consistent the Rocketeers are year in and year out that it had been that long but the Big Red are ready to turn the page and begin a new streak.
The Rocketeers are getting a lot of players back that missed time last year and also have a bunch of players back that were thrown into the fire last year and now have varsity experience. With that combination, North Attleboro is hoping the end result is the Davenport division title. Junior Tyler DeMattio is back under center for his second year as the starter after making a big splash on Thanksgiving his freshman season. DeMattio can get it done with both his arm and his legs (and his foot in the kicking game). He has a lot of weapons at his disposal this year with Jared Penta and Alex McCoy in the slots, Coby Feid and Matt Penta at split end, and 6-foot-5 Endicott-commit Robbie Donovan at tight end. Jacob Silva returns at tailback and will be complemented by senior Tommy Whalen while sophomores Nathan Shultz and Greg Berthiaume could be in the mix as well. Harry Bullock will anchor the offensive line alongside classmates Danny Hayes and Justin Vecchiarelli and juniors Jared Vacher and Keysun Wise.
On top of the eight returning starters on offense, the Rocketeers boast eight returners on the defensive side of the ball as well. North Attleboro has a lot of depth at the linebacker position with Silva, a team captain, being a key part of the group. He’ll be joined by Berthiaume, Vecchiarelli, Whalen, senior Dylan Eberle, and junior Tyler Bannon. Jared and Matt Penta are both very experienced safeties while McCoy and Feid return at corner, so the secondary will certainly be a strength for the Big Red. The Rocketeers don’t have the biggest defensive line but the likes of Donovan, Vacher, and Bullock provide speed from the edge.
“The extended off season has provided extra time for tremendous growth in the weight room,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “The depth at the skill positions on both sides of the ball will be the strength of this team. The key will be how quickly and effectively we can put together our offensive and defensive lines.”
Oliver Ames is back in the Davenport division and is looking to make a splash in its first season back.
The Tigers had a lot of success when the league first split into two divisions, winning the Davenport title in 2011 and 2013 before making the jump up to the Kelley-Rex. With a strong group of players back, OA is looking to take the next step forward during the Fall II 2020 season. Senior captain Gavin Morrison is a two-way lineman and will anchor the offensive group from the center spot. He’ll be joined by senior Dante Cocivera and Max Tower, both returning players from last season. Junior Collin Williamson burst onto the scene last year and should see an expanded role in the backfield during this abbreviated season while sophomore Chad Silva should be in the mix as well.
Speed will be a strength on the defensive side of the ball for the Tigers, who boast a lot of the same faces on the defensive line as their offensive line. Tower anchors the linebackers and will be one to keep an eye on, using his speed and strength to make plays, and he’ll be joined by the sophomore Silva. Senior captain Jaden Ricci is one of the best defensive players on the team, a fast, physical player with a nose for the ball that will start at corner. He’ll be joined by senior Jaden Krowski in the secondary.
2020 (Fall II) Davenport Division Preview
“We are excited about where our program is heading and are really ecstatic and thankful to get an opportunity to play this season,” said head coach Ed DeWitt.
Sharon had a very young squad a season ago and went through plenty of growing pains. The Eagles are hoping to turn some of that experience into success on the field this season.
Not only do the Eagles have their quarterback and top receivers back, but they are also getting a big boost with a return from injury. Senior Kiran Chandrasekaran returns under center and has weapons in PJ McManus, Owen Conway, and Conor McLaughlin in the passing game. Nico Marrero, who showed flashes of great play as a sophomore, had to miss all of last year due to injury but is back this year and will be a key two-way player for the Eagles. Marrero is a powerful runner that will look to find space created by an improved offensive line. The Eagles’ offensive line is anchored by senior center Shea Letendre while junior Jack Murphy and sophomores Miles Clay and Daniel Davis help round out Sharon’s line.
Defensive the Eagles are always a competitive group, the challenge will be doing so for four quarters against some top offenses in the Davenport. Ike Ogbonnanze, who is also a big receiving target on offense, will start at linebacker alongside Marrero and Letendre, giving the Eagles a very experienced group in the heart of the defense. McManus and Conway will play on both sides of the ball, starting in the secondary defensively.
“Our kids know our numbers are not strong but they have a great attitude and are playing like their backs are against the wall,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Stoughton head coach Greg Burke always leans heavily on his senior class and he has a real talented group this year.
The Black Knights have a handful of very talented and experienced seniors that have played a lot of snaps over the past two seasons and that has Stoughton primed for a run a the Davenport division title. Senior John Burke is back under center at quarterback for the Knights and it’s likely we’ll see Brady Conlin take some snaps similar to how Burke split with Clayton Rahaman last season. Both quarterbacks will have plenty of options to work with, especially on the ground. The Knights have a “home run” type offense with any given handoff capable to break off a big run. Senior brothers Christopher and Christian Ais recently committed to the University of New Haven and both bring speed and power when running the ball. Christian Georges is another workhorse out of the backfield while juniors Anthony Girolamo and Jonah Ly could see some carries as well. What makes Stoughton’s run game so dangerous is all of the backs do a great job of blocking when they don’t get carries. Jake Queeney will be the main target in the passing game for the Knights. Sproul Derolus is one of the few returners on the offensive line so Stoughton will need some players to step up there.
Defense is always a staple for the Knights and that looks to be the case again this year. A lot of the same faces that make plays on the offensive side will be the ones making plays on the defensive side. Georges is an absolute monster coming off the edge and uses his speed and strength to cause havoc in the backfield. Christopher Ais will be joined by Ly and Girolamo at linebacker while Christian Ais, Queeney, and Burke are all returners in the secondary for the Knights.
“Hopefully without a ton of injuries we can have a good year,” Burke said. “We have some experience and the kids have worked hard in the clubs for weight training. We need the juniors to step up and contribute fast while still learning varsity speed. The league is always tough and hopefully, we can survive tough crossover games.”
STOUGHTON, Mass. – On Monday evening, the Stoughton boys basketball team went into Sharon, controlled the tempo, and put up its best offensive performance of the season in a comfortable win over the Eagles.
On Tuesday night, the Black Knights did it again.
Stoughton boys basketball
From senior Colby Andrews’ first basket just 10 seconds into the contest up until sophomore Rayan Sablon’s three-pointer in the final minute, Stoughton had its foot on the gas from start to finish to earn a 74-56 win over the visiting Eagles.
It marked Stoughton’s best offensive output of the season and the most points scored by any Davenport division team so far this season.
“That’s the pace we want, we want to pick it up and we want to get shots up,” said first-year Stoughton head coach Evan Taylor. “I think it’s just been about getting more comfortable with the offense, just being together more as a team. We’re playing together as a team more, everyone is touching the ball and getting more involved.
“We’ve really started to pick up the pace a lot more, which is the tempo we want to play at. Obviously, it helps when shots start falling that weren’t following to start the season. We’ve always had the confidence in the shots, now we’re starting to see them fall.”
The Black Knights were coming off a 72-point performance just 24 hours earlier on the road at Sharon. They followed a similar blueprint on their home court. Stoughton’s offense was off and running from the beginning, laughing up 23 field goal attempts — with seven makes — over the first eight minutes with just one turnover.
That resulted in a 16-13 lead for the hosts, which could have been more if not for a terrific individual effort from Sharon sophomore Matt Baur (18 points, five rebounds), who hit five of the Eagles’ six shots from the floor and had 11 points to keep the visitors close.
Christian Georges converted a putback attempt to push Stoughton’s lead to eight just over two minutes into the second but the Eagles continued to keep up with the Black Knights’ torrid pace. Sam Cohen hit a jumper, Owen Conway drove to the basket for two, and Baur drained a triple. Kiran Chandrasekaran sank a pair of free throws to get the visitors within four, 28-24, with three minutes to go in the first half.
That’s when Stoughton showed just how quickly and deadly its offense can be when it gets going. Junior Connor Andrews drained a three after an offensive rebound and pass from junior KC Ugwuakazi (17 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks). Andrews came up with a turnover on the ensuing inbounds and found senior Jake Queeney (15 points) for a triple, and after two straight Eagles’ turnovers, Ugwuakazi cleaned up his own miss.
Stoughton continued to crash the offensive glass (23 offensive rebounds), this time Cashmere Mathurin grabbed a board and put it back up for two to complete a 10-0 run in less than two minutes.
Even though Sharon broke the run out of a timeout when Ryan Zunenshine converted an offensive rebound into two points, the Black Knights added seven more points over the final minute. Brett Pendenza made a pair of free throws, Sablon drained a three, and Mathurin beat the buzzer with a hard banked-in shot to give Stoughton a 45-28 halftime lead.
Stoughton boys basketball
“That’s not the pace we want to play at,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson, his side committing 10 of its 14 turnovers in the opening half. “The same thing happened last night. They sped us up, they played at the pace they wanted to and that’s a credit to them. We stressed trying to play slower, execute our offense, run our screens, slips, back doors, and we didn’t do it. It was too much one on one, too much first pass shot. It’s disappointing because we had been playing well. We needed to slow it down in this game but we couldn’t play at the pace we wanted.
“We let our bad defensive possessions affect our offense, and we let our bad offensive possessions affect our defensive possessions, it’s a snowball. We weren’t communicating enough defensively, we were helping off the wrong spots, and then we were just selfish on offense.”
A switch to a zone defense by the Eagles helped some but was merely a speed bump for the Black Knights. Brady Conlin knocked down a three against the zone early, and after Stoughton’s longest scoreless stretch of the game of nearly three minutes, Pendenza and Queeney delivered back-to-back triples to help Stoughton push its lead to 54-35 just past the midway point of the third.
Queeney’s isolation step-back triple extended Stoughton’s advantage to 59-37 with two minutes to go in the third but Sharon made a final push to get back into it. Matt Baskin (nine points, 10 rebounds) went coast-to-coast for two and then sank a triple after a Stoughton turnover. Zunenshine used a crafty finish for two and Ryan Baker’s contested heave from deep three-point territory beat the buzzer as the Eagles got back into the game, down 59-47 going into the fourth.
Zunenshine opened with two more to make it a 10-point game but that would be the closest the Eagles would get the rest of the way. Ugwuakazi scored four straight points, had a big block on the defensive end, and Queeney converted another offensive rebound into points as Stoughton restored a comfortable lead at 65-49.
“In the beginning of the season, they’re probably going the other way,” Taylor said of the close game situations in the second and fourth quarters. “There’s been some mental growth. It’s been a growing season for all of them, and with just two returners back from last year, we knew it would be. Everybody is getting experience now, and everyone is learning together. We’ve been watching film, just trying to get better as a team each day.”
Stoughton (4-5 Davenport, 4-5 overall) travels to Mansfield on Thursday for its first of three straight games against Kelley-Rex opponents. Sharon (3-4, 3-5) returns home on Friday night against rival Oliver Ames.
With a 58-55 advantage with 9.7 seconds to go, the Bulldogs fouled as Sharon crossed half court, “well before the Eagles had a chance to think about launching a tying three-pointer.
It worked as the Eagles came up empty on the first shot and had a violation on the second. Canton couldn’t quite put the game away, missing their chances at the free throw line but immediately fouled on the defensive rebound.
Again, the Eagles came up empty from the line and a defensive rebound and free throw from Dillon Nguyen pushed Canton’s lead to 59-55 with 2.1 seconds left, a scoreline that held through the final buzzer.
“We have rules about when to follow under a certain amount of seconds,” Gordy said. “We were up three and we figured if we fouled, they can’t make a three and they can’t tie the game. As long as we know to get the foul at the right time, then fundamental box outs on the free throws, I feel like it’s the right decision every time.
“We had to do it twice because we didn’t get our free throws but finally on the third time, we got it to four and then we don’t foul.”
The Bulldogs had to hold on at the end because of a second half comeback from the hosts. Canton pushed its lead to 14 early in the second half but the Eagles got a boost from an unexpected source.
After Sharon managed just one free throw total in the second quarter, the Bulldogs outscoring the hosts 10-1, head coach Andrew Ferguson went deep into his bench, putting junior Owen Conway and sophomores Ryan Zunenshine and Sam Cohen — who had each played three quarters of the JV came — into the lineup to start the second half.
On Sharon’s very first offensive possession of the second, Cohen splashed an open three and on the next trip down, drained a contested look from downtown, as the Eagle faithful exploded in the stands, an atmosphere usually reserved for the postseason.
Conway took a feed from sophomore John Baez (five points, six rebounds) and converted through the foul. Despite missing the free throw, Zunenshine battled for the offensive board and putback, swinging momentum in favor of the hosts.
Cohen sank another triple and Baez sliced through the Canton zone for two, getting the Eagles within five at 39-34.
“Execution aside, our effort wasn’t good [in the second quarter],” Ferguson said. “I thought waking up the rest of the roster by playing the swing guys there in the third. Sam Cohen did what he’s been doing at the JV level, what he did the year before at the freshman level…he can shoot the basketball. It was good to see that and it woke the rest of the guys up.
“It woke them up and the first unit played their butts off. I told them if they played with that kind of effort in the first and second quarter, we win that game.”
Canton senior Robbie Gallery (16 points, eight rebounds) used a nice move in the post to convert at the time and then found junior Matt Giglio (nine points, seven rebounds) in the same spot for another two in the final moments of the third quarter to stem the momentum some, giving the Bulldogs a 43-34 lead heading into the fourth.
Sharon’s first unit responded to the wake-up call as Matt Baskin (10 points) hit an early three and Baez added one of his own to get the Eagles within one possession.
Gallery came up with a clutch offensive rebound and putback for a traditional three-point play only for Baskin to answer with a similar play. Kiran Chandrasekaran tied the game with a pair of free throws with 3:41 to play but Giglio knocked down a three on the other end to keep Canton ahead, 51-48, with 3:17 to play.
“Hats off to Sharon on senior night, that crowd brought it tonight,” Gordy said. “I think the most impressive part was [Eric] Mischler’s foul trouble and being able to play that game without our best player. He’s been our best player all year, he’s in the top 15 in scoring [in the Hockomock], and I think he played a total of six minutes, if he played that much. To be able to get a win without him was an awesome experience for our guys, guys that have been practicing and working really hard and tonight they got opportunities, and a lot of guys capitalized.”
Mischler, who averaged a team-high 13.8 points per game entering the game and had a career-high 36 point performance three games prior, finished with three points in those limited minutes.
Gallery again scored for Canton and sophomore Lanse Dorcelus (nine points, three rebounds) sank a free throw for a 54-50 lead but Caleb Gayle hit his second straight shot to halve the deficit and Baskin came up with a strong take for a three-point play and a 55-54 lead with 40.1 to go.
On Canton’s next possession, it appeared Andrew Burton (19 points, 10 rebounds) read a handoff but was called for a foul instead of a jump ball. Gallery hit both for a 56-55 lead and the Eagles lost the handle on the other end, leading to two free throws from Dorcelus to push the lead to 58-55, setting up the fouls at the end.
“We didn’t show up for the first half,” Ferguson said. “Mentally and physically, we just didn’t play well. We didn’t share the basketball, we didn’t set screens and that bled into our defense and we started losing guys, stopped communicating like we had talked about. I was glad to see the sophomores get a run there in the third quarter and kind of wake up that first group that needed it.
“In this league, you can’t play for 16 minutes, you have to play for 32 minutes. Against any team in this league, doesn’t matter what their record is, if you don’t play for 32 minutes, you’re going to get beat and that’s what happened to us.”
The Bulldogs had a strong start to the game, shooting 9-for-13 over the first eight minutes of the game. While Mischler and Gallery dealt with early foul trouble, senior Nick Cushman (14 points, six rebounds) gave the Bulldogs a boost with six points in the opening quarter. Six players scored in the first for Canton.
”Cushman has been our unsung hero this year,” Gordy said. “He was slated behind Kyle Fitzgerald and when Kyle got hurt, he went into a starting role and he ran with it. He’s been one of our top guys this year, and he did some good things tonight before he fouled out. Robbie did some good things for us too, he did what a senior captain should do.”
Canton put up 23 points in the first quarter and would have had a big lead if not for a brilliant start for Burton. He scored 15 of Sharon’s 17 points in the opening quarter to keep the Eagles close before Sharon went cold in the second.
Canton boys basketball (2-12 Hockomock, 5-14 overall) is back home on Tuesday against North Attleboro. Sharon (1-13, 1-15) travels to Foxboro on the same day.
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.”