ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The puck was dug out on the near boards and angled towards Canton defenseman Owen Lehane, who was hanging at the blue line. The junior lined up a slap shot that deflected almost immediately off a North Attleboro stick and knuckled, weaving its way through traffic, past North goalie Ryan Warren and somehow under the bar.
For the second straight game, the Bulldogs had pulled out a win in the closing minutes. Lehane’s goal with just 2:08 remaining in Sunday afternoon’s matinee at the New England Sports Village handed Canton a 3-2 victory and clinched the program’s ninth league title in a row.
“It’s a long season and especially this time of year when you get into the middle of January and guys are sick, guys are hurt, so if you can pull out a win when it’s not your best day it says a lot about a team and it says a lot about our guys,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman, who gave a lot of credit to the Rocketeers for making it tough all game.
He added, “I think they dominated most of the game. They had more puck possession than we did, they had certainly more zone time than us, they had more shot attempts, and they really did outplay us. Even the first period didn’t feel right. We had two goals but they were making it very difficult for us and I didn’t think the score reflected the game.”
North Attleboro coach Ben McManama could only shrug at the way the game ended, as the Rocketeers had gone toe-to-toe with (and at times outplayed) not only one of the Hockomock League’s perennial powers but a team that was just added to the initial watch list for the Super 8.
“We realized something about ourselves today, which is great,” McManama explained. “We wanted the win or even the tie, but we realize that when we move our feet and work hard, then we can hang with anybody. I think it’s a good lesson that we learned today but we just have to keep on going.”
Digging the puck out on the boards to set up the Lehane winner was senior forward Ryan Nolte. It was his second assist of the day, to go along with the one goal he scored, and with his three-point haul on Sunday he reached the 100-point milestone for his career.
“He’s someone that always seems to show up and make big plays in a game like this,” Shuman said of Nolte. “He made little plays that he normally wouldn’t do like throw a big hit in the neutral zone in the middle of the game when we needed that. He was important in all areas of the ice tonight.”
The Rocketeers came out of the gates trying to set a physical tone and looked faster and sharper, but it was the Bulldogs that got the goals. Nolte set up the opener five minutes into the game when he fired a pass from behind the goal line out to Matt Pigeon at the point. The defenseman’s shot was tipped in front by Chris Lavoie, giving Warren (22 saves) no chance.
North almost leveled the score just a minute later when Justin Moccia found himself alone on the edge of the crease. Canton goalie Mike Staffiere (20 saves) managed to scramble and get a piece of the shot and then got a piece of luck when the rebound looped up and landed on the bar before bouncing behind the goal.
Only a minute later and Canton had doubled its lead. Nolte cut across the slot and initially lost control and whiffed on his first attempt, but he stayed with the puck and whipped a backhand on goal. The puck caught Warren trying to slide across and it slipped through the five-hole to make it 2–0.
“Our group’s very good in that they’re very resilient,” said McManama. “Some teams would’ve gone in the tank after the two goals, I mean it’s Canton, but we just kept battling back. Since day one when I got here that’s the team I was trying to bring out. I’m happy with what we did today.”
The game changed in a span of 23 seconds. First a slip on the blue line allowed Dennis Morehouse to steal the puck and find space to rifle a shot from the right circle inside the far post to cut the lead in half. Nine seconds after the goal, North went on the game’s first power play. Fourteen seconds after that, the game was tied.
Brendan McHugh started the offensive set by making a grab at the blue line to keep the puck in the zone. North got a shot on goal and Staffiere made the first stop. The rebound was initially played into the side of the net but Anthony Zammiello kept following the puck and knocked it in.
Lavoie nearly nabbed his second of the game but Warren flashed a quick glove to deny his shot from the left circle. Shane Marshall had a good chance for the Bulldogs as well when he flicked a quick shot from the slot but Warren was just as quick with his pad. Zammiello had a pair of chances, one set up in front by Jack Connolly and the second on a breakaway, but both times Staffiere had the answer.
“We were dumping the puck in and that’s what happens when you play a team physical, stay up in the neutral zone, and close your gaps,” said Shuman about Canton’s struggles to develop consistent attacks. “We had so many opportunities to make that one pass for an odd-man rush and we would just dump the puck in and that’s all credit to their play that got us a little antsy with the puck.”
The first half of the third period was all Rocketeers. North came flying out of the locker room and had the first six shots of the period. Canton didn’t get a puck on net until the 7:40 mark of the third. The best chance fell to Matt McSweeney, who was picked out in front by freshman Nik Kojoian, but Staffiere made a big pad stop to keep the scores level.
Despite all the North pressure, Canton held onto the tie and then got the one moment it needed to keep its perfect start to the season alive.
“I’ve been around hockey for a long time,” McManama said. “It’s no secret that good teams get those good breaks. We also did very well defensively, we worked really hard, they made some big saves, and I thought it was all-around a great hockey game.”
It is the ninth straight league title, and 11th in 12 seasons. No other team has won a Davenport crown in the nine years since the league split into different divisions. It speaks to the level of consistency as a program that the Bulldogs have displayed down the years.
Shuman said, “We talked about how fortunate we are to be competing every year for league championships. It’s a testament to the guys before and to our guys now that they are able to rise to that level every year. We don’t take it for granted.”
Canton (13-0, 9-0) will try to complete a perfect league campaign when it hosts Taunton on Wednesday. North Attleboro (7-6-1, 5-2-1) will try to make history on Wednesday when it travels to Pirelli Veterans Arena to face Kelley-Rex division leader Franklin, which the Rocketeers have never beaten.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – After Canton stormed back from two goals down in the opening two minutes of the third period and with both teams create chance after chance in a fast-paced, end-to-end finish, both teams could have been forgiven for feeling content with going home from Wednesday night’s game at the Pirelli Veterans Arena with a hard-fought point apiece.
But there was one more twist in this rivalry tale, as a Franklin defensive clearance ricocheted off the skate of the ref and fell right to Canton junior Johnny Hagan. The forward stepped in and ripped a one-timer over the blocker side of Franklin goalie Ryan Cameron to seal a dramatic 3-2 win for the unbeaten Bulldogs.
“The kid’s got a 101-degree temperature but he wasn’t missing this one,” Canton coach Brian Shuman said of Hagan. “He just grinded it out, he didn’t want to come off the ice, and that’s just typical Johnny Hagan. He’s the fiercest competitor I’ve ever coached.”
Franklin coach Chris Spillane was understandably frustrated to watch his team let a two-goal lead slip only two minutes after the second intermission.
“We had some jump in our legs but in the third period we just made poor defensive zone decisions,” he explained. “Turning pucks over, guys unattended in front of the net, and their offensive zone face-off where they drop the puck off to the winger killed us all night. We knew they were going to do it…and we had a play to defend it, but our kids just couldn’t execute.”
The Panthers tried to set a physical tone from the opening face-off and were flying around, chasing pucks into the corners, and creating scoring chances. It took seven minutes for the hosts to grab an advantage. Zac Falvey raced into the zone and when he got to the edge of the right face-off circle fired a shot through the legs of the retreating defenseman that beat Canton goalie Mike Staffiere (26 saves).
Falvey nearly added a second goal in the final minute of the first when he got a shorthanded breakaway, but he put his shot just wide of the post.
Canton had several great chances to even the score in the second period. Colby Ciffolillo had time and space in the slot, but his shot was smothered by Cameron (30 saves). Ciffolillo then set up Declan Pfeffer right in front but his deflection was knocked down by Cameron and covered. The Bulldogs got a power play chance and Ryan Nolte had a good look off the first face-off but his backhand shot was saved.
After nearly scoring on a shorthanded break in the first period, Franklin doubled its lead by finishing one in the second. Scott Elliott collected a loose puck at the blue line and raced past the Canton defense before firing an unstoppable shot past Staffiere to make it 2-0.
The chances kept coming for the Bulldogs with Owen Lehane flicking a shot through traffic that beat Cameron but not the crossbar and then the Franklin goalie again came up with a big save to deny a wide open Matt Martin, who was set up by a cross-ice pass from Chris Lavoie.
Coming out of the break, Canton jumped all over the Panthers. Timmy Kelleher struck the bar just seconds after the period started and then Tommy Ghostlaw had his rebound effort saved by a sprawling Cameron.
Nolte skated the ensuing face-off down to the red line before picking out Jack Connolly all alone at the point. The defenseman lined up a shot that went through a mass of bodies in front and found the back of the net just 36 seconds into the third.
Less than two minutes later, the game was tied. Ghostlaw didn’t miss this chance on the rebound, lifting his close-range shot over the shoulder of Cameron to make it 2-2.
“We just had to keep going,” Shuman said about the conversation after the second period. “We talked about we had chances and we just need to bury one. As it turned out we buried two…In the second period I felt they were trying to score two goals with one shot and I just said lets get one and see what happens.”
After the Bulldogs had the first seven shots of the period, Franklin got back into the game and had chances of its own. Dan Magazu had a one-timer kicked aside by Staffiere, who was also forced into good stops on Kyle Hedvig from the left dot and Declan Lovett from the point. The Panthers had another breakaway midway through the period but Staffiere read Shane McCaffery’s move and got his right pad to the post.
“We had plenty of chances,” Spillane said. “We had a breakaway, we had some rebounds that were sitting there with open nets but we just couldn’t fight through their stick checks. It’s a tough loss but we played hard for a good portion.”
Canton nearly got a winner when Kelleher got behind the Franklin defense, but the combination of Cam Cassella and a diving poke from Cameron kept the puck out. The Bulldogs did get a power play from the chance and on the ensuing face-off Hagan got free in the slot and struck the post.
Hagan didn’t miss on his next chance, putting the Bulldogs ahead for the first time with a rocket into the corner. The Panthers managed one last chance in the final seconds, but Tom Tasker’s shot went over the bar and Canton skated away with two more points and a grip on a potential ninth straight league title.
Despite the perfect start through a dozen games, Shuman is taking nothing for granted. He said, “It hasn’t been easy. It’s not like we’ve been blowing anybody out. We just have to keep grinding, taking them one game at a time because there’s plenty of games left and I’ve been around long enough to know you never win anything in January.”
Canton (12-0, 7-0) can wrap up another Davenport title on Sunday afternoon when it travels to second place North Attleboro. A point will be enough to clinch the title outright. Franklin (5-5-4, 4-1-2) has slipped a point behind Mansfield in the league standings heading into a trip to King Philip on Saturday.
CANTON, Mass. – There’s 15 minutes in each period, and the Canton boys hockey team made sure to use every second of each one.
The Bulldogs scored with less than five seconds left in each the first and second periods, both on the power play, to pick up a 3-1 win over Franklin in a non-league clash between Hockomock hockey powers.
“It was wide open at times with a lot of chances and it was very tight at times, it was a typical Canton-Franklin game,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “The first goal, that puck went off a skate, the shot was going to be wide but went off a skate and in. We lost one of our better players for 10 minutes but our guys responded. Colby Ciffolillo, first-year player, was asked to play on like three lines and three different positions and played great. It was a good response for us after a tough start.”
Franklin took the lead less than a minute into the contest but Canton equalized less than four minutes later. Panther senior defenseman Matt D’Ericco had a puck pop out to him in the attacking zone and fired a low shot that deflected off a skate and into the net just 54 seconds in to the game.
Canton senior Ryan Nolte answered less than four minutes later to bring the hosts level. Nolte made a nice move to get around a defenseman and released a shot right in front that was partially saved by Franklin goalie Ryan Cameron (25 saves), but the puck trickled over the line to make it 1-1.
The teams traded chances over the final 10 minutes, with Franklin junior Colin Hedvig forcing Canton senior goalie Michael Staffiere (18 saves) into a tough save. Two minutes later Canton junior Tommy Ghostlaw came flying down the left wing, drew the defense, and centered a pass for Ciffolillo but his one-timer went off the post and stayed out.
Just when it looked like the teams would head to the locker room level, Nolte drew a tripping call in the attacking zone with 33.9 to play.
After an attacking face off, the puck squirted free to Owen Lehane at the blue line. Lehane quickly passed to his left to junior Jack Connolly, who quickly one-timed a shot in front of goal. Junior Chris Lavoie was positioned all alone in front, made one move and stuffed his bid in with 2.7 left in the period.
“Both power play goals were because of Jack Connolly,” Shuman said. “Both times, knowing the clock, knowing how much time was left, jumped into the play to create a four man attack. The first one, the one-timer to the net and the second one, jumping into the play and getting it down low and we had some guys down there.”
Despite the late goal in the first, Franklin came out reenergized in the second and controlled the majority of the period. Franklin senior Joey Lizotte forced a nice save from Staffiere and the rebound bid from CJ Spillanee hit off the post and stayed out.
Tom Tasker drew a tripping call with eight minutes to go, and the Panthers even had 5-on-3 for 14 seconds after a cross check, but Franklin was unable to solve Staffiere again during the two-man advantage opportunities.
“We filled a lot of boxes [of things we don’t want to do] tonight,” said Franklin head coach Chris Spillane. “We were soft on the puck, not strong with our sticks, they had more speed than we had and that’s going to kill you every time. They wanted to play harder than us. I thought we had a good second period minus 0.2 seconds, that was a killer. We allowed two power play goals, both at the end of a period and that takes a lot of air out. I thought we had a good second but the third was just soft all around. I expected them to show me something and we didn’t have any effort out there.”
The best chance came on the stick of Lizotte, who beat a defenseman with speed and rifled a shot on net but Staffiere turned the bid aside to keep the lead.
Despite controlling the period and having the majority of possession, Franklin wasn’t able to cash in and took a penalty with 1:38 to go.
Canton once again took advantage of a late man-up chance. As the final seconds ticked away, Ghostlaw blocked a clearance attempt, Connolly jumped on the loose puck and dumped it in front of net, and junior Shane Marshall settled the puck and fired a backhand attempt with Lavoie screening in front.
The shot hit the back of the net with under a second to play, just a moment before the buzzer sounded for the end of the second period.
“I thought we carried the play in the second, we outshot them, we had more opportunities,” Spillane said. “We actually forechecked and turned pucks over, we did what we needed to do. But that’s a backbreaker with 0.2 seconds left, it was a legit goal no question about it. We had two guys fan on it, that puck shouldn’t have been anywhere near the net. A lot of little mistakes turned into a very lopsided game, 3-1 doesn’t even indicate what that game was like.
Franklin had a pair of early chances to get back into the game but Canton’s penalty kill wouldn’t allow it. The Panthers had 38 seconds of 5-on-3 but didn’t register any significant chances. Hedvig fired a pair of shots on the man advantage, but both were stopped by Staffiere.
“You can’t get better defensively unless you’re pushed and challenged,” Shuman said. “Franklin was all over us [in the second period], and we have to learn from that. Franklin played well in the third period too. We have a lot of experience but a lot of youth too and these guys need to be challenged to get better and I thought Franklin really controlled the play in the second period. We were able to hold them at bay for the most part, and credit to Mike Staffiere too, he played great.”
Canton had two chances at the midway point as Matt Martin had a shot deflected just wide by Ryan Colby, and just a minute later, Nolte had his chance denied and Lavoie nearly snuck the rebound in by Cameron made the stop.
Canton boys hockey (3-0) doesn’t hit the ice for another game for over a week, hosting Westwood on December 29th. Franklin (1-1) is back in action on Saturday when it goes on the road to take on Newburyport.
2017-2018 Record: 9-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Homer
After a two year drought of postseason hockey, the Bombardiers made it to the playoffs last year and are aiming to make it two years in a row. The Bombardiers only had three seniors on the roster last season, so the majority of the squad is back, plus a familiar face is back in the fold this season.
One of the three seniors that graduated was Jake Parker, who led the Bombardiers in scoring last season with 26 goals and eight assists. But Attleboro is slated to return its next three scorers in senior Cam Littig (12 goals, 14 assists for 26 points), junior Ryan Morry (11 goals, 15 assists for 26 points) and senior Kyle McCabe (three goals, 10 assists for 13 points).
Another positive is that the Bombardiers have some experience in goal. Both senior Evan Andrews (13.66 games played) and junior Derrik Rivet (6.33 games) are set to return. Having an experienced goalie is a huge positive but having a strong backup helps even more. Andrews had 270 saves last season with a 0.882 save percentage while Rivet turned away 144 shots and had a 0.842 save percentage. In front of goal, McCabe, Sam Flynn, and Matt Viveiros will be joined by Liam McDonough, Kyle Miniati, and Zach Pierce as members of the defensive unit.
While Littig and Morry will try to replicate their success from a season ago, one name that could help bolster the offense is senior Sam Larkin. Larkin played his freshman year and had seven goals and seven assists before switching over to juniors. His experience should give Attleboro a boost during the season.
“We have had some additions to our team this year that has created a little more depth that had been absent in previous years,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “We are working on maintaining a better consistency in our play. We are still in our tryout mode and hoping to find the right mix to make us more competitive this season, especially in our league games.”
2017-2018 Record: 17-3-4 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Brian Shuman
Canton comes into every year with high expectations and the Bulldogs will be favorites to bring home a ninth straight Davenport division title and 11th Hockomock League title in the past 12 seasons. While the league campaign is a priority, the Bulldogs will also be comparing themselves to the top teams in Div. 2 and hoping this will be the year to break through in the South sectional and get back to the TD Garden for the first time since 2010.
After a dominant winter, the top scoring line is back in full for Canton. Senior Ryan Nolte, the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, and junior Johnny Hagan, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, will draw most of the plaudits but junior Timmy Kelleher gives the Bulldogs strong play on the other wing as well. That line combined for 69 points last season (27 apiece for Hagan and Nolte) and will be one of the league’s best going into this year. Canton also has juniors Tommy Ghostlaw and Chris Lavoie back to add scoring punch to the second line.
At the blue line, juniors Owen Lehane and Jack Connolly will both be expected to eat up a lot of minutes after strong sophomore seasons, and the Bulldogs will be looking for other players to step up and fill in defensively. After consistently strong goaltending from Quinn Gibbs over the past few seasons, Canton will turn to senior Mike Staffiere, who has been a backup the past two years and is drawing great reviews for his play during the preseason.
“Overall, we have a lot of experience returning up front at the forward position, but that’s true for a lot of teams in our league and in our division,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “The real question will be how much these players improved from last year, which we won’t know for sure until the games get going.”
2017-2018 Record: 10-9-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro is coming off the best season in program history, as the Warriors won 10 games and qualified for the state tournament without relying on the Sullivan Rule. Now, the Warriors come back this season hoping to build on that season and make another run at the state tournament behind an offense that, according to coach Mark Cedorchuk, is as deep as it has ever been.
Junior Ronnie MacLellan and sophomore Kirk Leach are two of the forwards to keep an eye on this season for the Warriors after the duo combined for 15 goals and 32 points last season. Also up front will be senior Tanner Kennedy and juniors Sebastian Ricketts and Josh Bertumen, who combined for 10 goals last year and are looking to continue their development to add depth to the attack.
Senior Brendan Tully will lead the defensive effort but is also the team’s leading scorer. The blue line standout scored 18 goals and had 19 assists and is going to be a major factor in all three zones as well as a leader on the penalty kill and power play. He will be joined on the blue line by junior Kyle McGinnis, while junior Espen Reager will be between the pipes this year.
“Even though we had a successful season last year, best in team history,” Cedorchuk said, “our players are not satisfied, they are hungry to improve on that.”
2017-2018 Record: 12-6-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Chris Spillane
Franklin started well last winter, reaching the final of the prestigious Mount St. Charles tournament and taking a point off Malden Catholic for the first time, but the Panthers couldn’t carry the momentum throughout the season and were knocked out in the first round of the tournament. As usual, Franklin graduated a lot of players, but also return a strong corps of experienced players to take on arguably the program’s toughest regular season schedule, which is loaded with some of the state’s top teams.
The Panthers return 11 seniors for this season, including eight forwards, but also have a group of eight sophomores that are jumping up from the JV to contribute on varsity this season. The forward line has plenty of experience and should be able to fire in the goals this year. Seniors Joey Lizotte, Zac Falvey, Scott Elliott, Dan Magazu, and C.J. Spillane will all be able to jump into the top scoring lines after playing major roles last year.
Defensively, the top five defensemen will be juniors Tom Tasker (who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last year) and Colin Hedvig and seniors Cam Casella, Matt D’Errico, and Evan Forbes. Three sophomores will also see time on the blue line for the Panthers this season. After graduating three senior goaltenders, the job is open to senior Ryan Cameron and junior Ray Ivers, who are both making the jump from JV.
“Our hope is that team speed will drive the offense and that our returning defense will have the experience to make sound decisions in our end,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The boys are looking forward to the upcoming season. I see the Hockomock as an extremely competitive league this year. We will also challenge our boys with a high-end non-league schedule.”
2017-2018 Record: 8-12-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip brings 11 players back from last year’s squad and is hoping a tough schedule will result in a battle-tested team ready for the D1 South Tournament at the end of February. It starts with the seniors for the Warriors with four of them back, plus a transfer.
There will be a lot of experience in the top line for KP, as well as its first defensive pair and between the pipes. Captain Ryan Fitzpatrick (10 points) had a strong season last year and will be trying to replicate that this year. Fitzpatrick is joined by assistant captain Luke D’Amico (13 points) as wingers while senior transfer Brendan Shandley steps in at center to give the Warriors a formidable line to work with. Juniors Chris Daniels (13 points), Joe Boselli (11 points), and Jack Coulter (10 points) are all back after successful sophomore seasons and should provide KP with good depth.
On the blueline, veteran Garrett Maxwell is the lone senior back from last year so he will be relied on for leadership. He is one of the strongest players in the league and plays in all situations for KP, including the power play plus the penalty kill. There will be some other familiar faces on defense for KP with junior Kyle Gray (seven points) and sophomore Rocco Bianculli (eight points) both back with varsity experience.
Senior James Lewis takes over in the crease as the starting netminder for the Warriors. Lewis saw action in three games last season, including a pair of wins and shutouts. While new to the starting position, Lewis has plenty of experience and that bodes well for the Warriors. Jesper Makudera and Nate Ihley will be pushing for minutes in net as well.
“I expect the team to have some good chemistry and get off to a good start,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “Practice has been good, and we have good leadership this year with a strong core. The Hockomock League is always competitive, the Kelley-Rex is a strong division, and we have a tough non-league schedule too, so we want to challenge ourselves.”
2017-2018 Record: 9-7-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Mike Balzarini
The Hornets have a strong core of players back this season, along with the addition of a couple of new faces, and head coach Mike Balzarini is hoping that combination will result in success this season.
Experience will be a strong suit for Mansfield as five of its top six forwards played significant minutes last year. Chris Copponi (12 points) and Matt Copponi (16 points) will be on the wings around center Coleman O’Brien for one line while Jake Lund (eight points) and Kevin Bellanger are returners on another line. The sixth forward will be center Jack Garland, who played juniors last year but is back in the fold for the Hornets this year. Ben Ierardo, Cam Page, and Braedon Copparini will be in the mix for minutes as well.
Defensively, while there are certainly some holes to fill, Balzarini has some talent to rely on the blue line. Two-time HockomockSports.com selections Mike Arnold and Tyler Oakley graduated so there is a little bit of a void, but Austin Ricker has stepped on early on to anchor the Hornet defensive unit. Ricker is joined by Brad Grant, who played for the Hornets previously before switching to juniors. Nick Levine and Joe Troiano gained valuable experience last year, and Jack Gormley and Brian Grant should be in the mix as well.
Mansfield also has experience in the goalie position with junior Sean McCafferty back between the pipes after having a breakout sophomore campaign. McCafferty was one of the top goalies in the league last year, earning HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman honors. He had 377 saves and a 92 save percentage, which bodes well for the Hornets this year.
“We obviously want to pick up where we left off after making the playoffs the last two years,” Balzarini said. “With the returning players plus new additions, I think we’re a little bit deeper and we know what we need to do to be competitive and make sure we’re playing well at the end of the season.”
2017-2018 Record: 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Ben McManama
Defense will be key for the Rocketeers during the 2018-2019 season. With a handful of returners back on the blue line as well as veteran goalie Ryan Warren, North Attleboro boasts a talented defensive unit.
Senior captain Brendan McHugh will anchor the defensive group alongside juniors Jeff Baker and Will Yeomans. All three are very experienced players that put defense first. They can all get involved in the offense as well. Warren has shined between the pipes each of the last three seasons, earning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a freshman and was a HockomockSports Third Team selection last season. Warren is pushed in practice each day as Chris Ulrich and Nick Digiacomo push for time.
Offensively, North Attleboro only lost two forwards from last year’s group, but those two players (Drew Wissler, Jason McNeany) combined for nearly half of the Rocketeers’ 76 goals a season ago. So this year, Big Red will need forwards to step up and contribute. Captain Anthony Zammiello scored 13 goals last year and will look to continue his success this season. Todd Robinson, Justin Moccia, Dennis Morehouse, Jake Ebert, and Jack Connolly are all candidates to have big years for the Rocketeers.
“We are a very big and physical team that works hard,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama. “We will need to stay out of the box to have success this year. Defense and depth will be the strength of our team. We will also need three lines that can score. I am very optimistic on the season because it is obvious that all our players put a ton of work in during the offseason.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Sean Bertoni
Speed has been the strength of the Tigers since Sean Bertoni took over the team and Oliver Ames will be relying on that speed and aggressiveness to try and challenge Franklin at the top of the Kelley-Rex division and to make a run in the state tournament. With a few players coming back from juniors to join with an experienced group, OA has high hopes of pushing the Panthers for the league title.
Senior forward Brett Williams will be the key player in the attack, coming off a season in which he scored 21 goals and recorded 15 assists and was named to the HockomockSports.com First Team. Williams will have plenty of help up front from senior Colin Bourne, who is one of the fastest skaters in the league and had 13 points last season. Senior forward Cullen Gallagher will also give the offense a boost, as he comes back to the program after a year in juniors.
Senior Matt McCormack was one of the league’s top defensemen last year and his steadying presence on the blue line will be critical to OA improving on that end of the ice, after giving up 54 goals as a team last year. Senior James Beatty is back after a year in juniors and should be a big boost to the blue line. Junior Owen Connor is back in net and looking to build off last season’s efforts.
“We are a team that will rely heavily on our team speed,” Bertoni said. “Our aggressive style of defense will lead to a successful offense. We will have to establish our forecheck to be effective. Our transition game will be a strength for us this year, creating turnovers and getting on the attack.”
2017-2018 Record: 1-20-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Dan Mark
Overall, the Stoughton Black Knights will be on the young side but they have a veteran first line that will lead the way.
The Knights will be looking to improve on last year’s record, while possibly trying to surprise some teams along the way. Leading the way offensively will be senior Sean Doherty. Doherty was Stoughton’s second-leading scorer last year behind Brendan Campbell (graduated). Doherty was second on the Black Knights with 12 goals and added 11 assists and will be relied upon to be a key piece of the offense this season. Joining Doherty on the first line will be senior Luke Bainton, who brings a lot of varsity experience to the table. Bainton will look to improve on last year after recording seven points (four goals, three assists).
Senior Josh Hough will anchor the blue line for the Black Knights. In his fourth year on varsity, Hough has logged a lot of minutes on the ice over the past couple of seasons and will be one of the most experienced defensemen in the league. Hough is able to create on the offensive end as well, scoring a pair of goals last year along with seven assists. Senior Thomas McCoy is set to return in goal after getting experience between the pipes a season ago.
2017-2018 Record: 12-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has been a program on the rise for the past few seasons and last year the Tigers took another big step forward by making a push to the Div. 2 South semifinal. That unexpected tournament run as the No. 13 seed, which included wins over No. 4 Old Rochester and No. 5 Nauset, has boosted the team’s confidence heading into a new year in which all but four players are back.
Scoring has not been a problem for the Tigers in recent seasons. Last year, Taunton scored a league-best 98 goals, five more than Davenport champ Canton, and senior forward Cam Sneyd (30 points) and junior Mike Albert (32 points) both eclipsed the 30-point mark. Senior Jack Patneaude added 15 points last year and he is poised for a big year along with classmates Jaden Weyant, Owen Ross, and Nick Vandermeel.
The defense is almost completely returned from last year, led by senior Andrew Carter, who was solid in the defensive zone but also chipped in with 20 points. Senior Brady Nichols and sophomore Dylan Nichols are also back for the Tigers. Junior Sean Bunker returns in net after a solid performance in the tournament run and he will be backed up by classmate Andrew Gomes, who has shown that he is a capable replacement when needed.
“The players have embraced the enjoyment of the journey, the process, and working hard to get better every day,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “They have the potential to continue their accomplishment of new heights. They will be fun to coach, and watch grow throughout the season.”
CANTON, Mass. – Stoughton senior Jeff Grier was mostly a spectator during last year’s Thanksgiving game against rival Canton, a game the Bulldogs ran away with.
After not getting a carry on the holiday as a junior, Grier wanted to make the most of his opportunity this time around.
The senior delivered, and in a big way. Grier had 15 carries for 211 yards and scored three touchdowns to pace the Black Knights to a 28-7 win over the Bulldogs in the 93rd annual meeting on Thanksgiving.
“This felt great,” Grier said. “I didn’t play last year so this is my first real Thanksgiving game. Senior year, my last game, I just went out there and did my best, did what I could to help the team. Coming into today, we really wanted to bring [the trophy] back home and that’s what we did.”
Grier entered his final season as the top home run threat type running back in the Hockomock, capable of breaking off a big play on any carry. But injuries hampered his season, and Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said Thursday morning was the first time his starting running back was fully healthy all season.
“We played hard today, Grier got going – this is the first week he’s been healthy, and he’s a great kid,” Burke said. “The line played well, we don’t have the biggest line but they are tough, we have some tough kids.
“The kids wanted that trophy back so bad after we lost it last year.”
The teams were tied 7-7 at halftime before Grier went off in the second half with three unanswered scores to lead the way.
It took the Stoughton offense very little time to take its first lead of the game. After receiving the kick off to begin the second half, the Black Knights needed just two plays. On 2nd and 13, Grier came across the formation on a counter, found a small hole, burst through it and raced his way to a 66-yard touchdown. Josh Cocchi made all four of his extra points on the day, this one putting Stoughton up 14-7 with 10:02 left in the third quarter.
Canton’s offense took the field and looked primed to respond with a strong drive of their own. Highlighted by a 20-yard run from Kyle Fitzgerald (10 carries, 49 yards), the Bulldogs moved to the Stoughton 25-yard line.
But Stoughton’s defense clamped down, holding Canton to a short gain on first down, getting an incomplete pass on second down, and Savion Scott coming up with a big sack on third down. The Black Knights forced a turnover on downs with an incomplete pass on fourth.
The Black Knights offense went back to work, using a strong ground game to move up the field. Christian Ais (65 all purpose yards) had a 19 yard run and Alex Iverson followed with 15 more yards to get to the Canton 33-yard line.
On second down, sophomore quarterback John Burke (3-for-3, 68 yards) connected with Christopher Ais for 16 yards. On the next play, Grier fought his way through a tackle and found the end zone on an 18-yard carry. Stoughton led 21-7 with 1:45 left in the third quarter.
“We’ve played hard the last couple of weeks, we’ve just turned the ball over too many times,” Burke said. “We’ve played some tough teams this year, we’ve been up and down. I’m just happy for these guys that we finished strong today, it’s really rewarding for all they’ve been through this year.
“That’s a good Canton team, I don’t want to see them next year but I know we will. I love Dave [Bohane] and all of his guys, they are great coaches. It’s just phenomenal for the town of Stoughton and all of they’ve gone through.”
Stoughton’s defense forced a three and out but Canton’s defense answered with the same, with Brendan Albert coming up with a big nine-yard tackle for loss on third down to force a Stoughton punt.
The Black Knights’ defense didn’t allow Canton’s offense to get going at all, with Evan Jackman and Jacob Brisson combining to stop a runner for no gain on second down, and Christian Georges batting down a third-down pass at the line of scrimmage to force a punt.
Stoughton’s next offensive possession was short lived as Albert came from behind to knock the ball free and the Bulldogs recovered. But on the first play of the ensuing drive, Canton junior quarterback Johnny Hagan was picked off on a deep pass by Stoughton junior Anthony Pizzano with 6:00 left in the game.
“We kept those guys in check, they’ve been running all over people,” Burke said. “We did well today [on defense]. We kept it simple, used our simplest defense. We had to make sure that [Hagan] doesn’t kill you. We had a couple of spies on him every play, you have to. He’s a guy where nothing is happening on a play and all of a sudden he’s in the end zone.
Facing a 3rd and 14 at its own 28, Stoughton elected to keep the ball on the ground to kill more clock but Grier was able to turn the corner and get up field and no one was able to catch him as he sprinted for a 72-yard score and a 28-7 lead with 4:34 to play.
Canton scored the first touchdown of the day. After punting on the opening drive, the Bulldogs got the ball back after stopping Stoughton’s offense and fake punt attempt. Canton took advantage of the short field and on fourth down, Hagan hit Fitzgerald for a 30-yard touchdown. Owen Lehane’s extra point made it 7-0 with 9:20 left in the first quarter.
Stoughton tied the game late in the first half. After stalling on its first two drives, the Black Knights went to the air to get things going offensively. Burke hit Christian Ais out of the backfield for a 48-yard pass, down to the 1-yard line. From there, Burke pushed it in himself and tied the game 7-7 with 1:45 left in the second quarter.
“I’m just really happy for the kids,” Burke said. “They sucked it up and it was a great way to finish the year.”
Stoughton football finishes the season 4-7 while Canton closes out 2018 with an 8-3 record.
North Attleboro, 20 @ Attleboro, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (A) Justin Cote 2-yard run, Colby Briggs XP good.
3rd Quarter: (NA) Tyler DeMattio 85-yard pass to Ryan Gaumond, T. DeMattio XP good.
4th Quarter: (NA) T. DeMattio 7-yard run, T. DeMattio XP good; T. DeMattio 90-yard run, XP no good.
Stoughton, 28 @ Canton, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 30-yard pass to Kyle Fitzgerald, Owen Lehane XP good; (S) John Burke 1-yard rush, Josh Cocchi XP good.
3rd Quarter: (S) Jeff Grier 66-yard rush, J. Cocchi XP good; (S) J. Grier 18-yard rush, J. Cocchi XP good.
4th Quarter: (S) J. Grier 72-yard rush, J. Cocchi XP good.
King Philip, 23 @ Franklin, 16 – Final 1st Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 20-yard rush, Cole Baker 2pt pass to Sam Sesay; (F) Parker Chevrant 26-yard field goal;
2nd Quarter: (KP) Robbie Jarest 1-yard rush, R. Jarest 2pt rush.
3rd Quarter: (F) Nick Gordon 11-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (KP) R. Halliday 14-yard rush, C. Baker XP good; (F) N. Gordon 75-yard pass to Owen Pamieri, P. Chevrant XP good.
Sharon, 21 @ Oliver Ames, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (S) Aaron Strong 3-yard rush, Mitchell Director XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (S) A. Strong 5-yard rush, M. Director XP good.
4th Quarter: (OA) Billy Tat 2-yard rush, Cam Perron XP good; (S) A. Strong 1-yard rush, M. Director XP good.
Taunton, 34 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 0 – Final 1st Quarter: (T) Noah Leonard 14-yard rush, 2pt rush failed; (T) N. Leonard 17-yard pass to Cory Pintabone, Danny MacDougall 2pt rush.
2nd Quarter: (T) N. Leonard 29-yard pass to Everett Ferreira, Coby Adams XP good.
3rd Quarter: (T) Tryton Zavala 6-yard rush, XP failed; (T) Damien Manning 5-yard rush, Ethan Tavares XP good.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Football – Playoffs D1 South
#4 Franklin, 29 @ #1 Xaverian, 37 – Final (2 OT)
#1 Mansfield, 28 vs. #5 Barnstable, 10 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery of this game. 1st Quarter: (B) Matt Petercuskie 5-yard rush, Jonathan Silva XP good; (M) Michael DeBolt 2-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
2nd Quarter: (B) J. Silva 25-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: (M) Vinnie Holmes 21-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) M. DeBolt 35-yard fumble return, M. DeBolt XP good; (M) M. DeBolt 3-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
#3 King Philip, 17 @ #2 Natick, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 5-yard rush, XP blocked.
2nd Quarter: (KP) R. Halliday 1-yard rush, R. Halliday 2-point conversion rush; (N) Will Lederman 21-yard pass to Max Ferrucci, XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (KP) Cole Baker 31-yard field goal.
#4 North Attleboro, 14 @ #1 Duxbury, 17 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (NA) Brendan McHugh 5-yard rush, Tyler DeMattio XP good.
2nd Quarter: (D) John Roberts 6-yard rush, Brett Souza XP good; (D) B. Souza 26-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (D) J. Roberts 20-yard pass to Will Prouty, B. Souza XP godd; (NA) Matt Penta 26-yard pass to Ethan Friberg, T. DeMattio XP good.
#4 Canton, 35 @ #1 Falmouth, 6 – Final 1st Quarter: (F) Kyle Connolly 3-yard rush, 2-point conversion failed; (C) Johnny Hagan 27-yard pass to Kyle Fitzgerald, Owen Lehane XP good.
2nd Quarter: (C) K. Fitzgerald 2-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good; (C) J. Hagan 39-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good; (C) K. Fitzgerald 39-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (C) K. Fitzgerald 27-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
Football – Non-Playoffs
Milford, 18 @ New Bedford, 32 – Final
Sharon, 0 @ Middleboro, 19 – Final
Girls Soccer D2 South
#17 Canton, 3 @ #16 Silver Lake, 5 – Final
Football – Playoffs D1 South
#4 Franklin, 26 vs. #5 Brockton, 3 – Final 1st Quarter: (B) Carlens Jean 27-yard field goal; (F) Nick Gordon 32-yard pass to Jack Nally, Parker Chevrant XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) P. Chevrant 23-yard field goal; (F) N. Gordon 10-yard pass to Sean Leonard, P. Chevrant XP good; (F) Safety.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (F) N. Gordon 1-yard rush, P. Chevrant XP good.
#6 Attleboro, 19 @ #3 Catholic Memorial, 42 – Final 1st Quarter: (CM) Barrett Pratt 16-yard pass to Hunter Tully, Thomas Leonard XP good; (CM) Darius Leclair 2-yard rush, XP blocked.
2nd Quarter: (CM) B. Pratt 30-yard pass to Brian Stubbs, Owen McGowen 2pt rush; (CM) Zach Mitchel 53-yard rush, Matt Sokol XP good.
3rd Quarter: (CM) B. Pratt 21-yard rush, M. Sokol XP good; (A) Jason Weir 1-yard rush, Colby Briggs XP good.
4th Quarter: (CM) B. Pratt 20-yard pass to B. Stubbs, M. Sokol XP good; (A) Justin Cote 94-yard kickoff return, XP failed; (A) Kevin Velazquez 44-yard fumble recovery, XP failed.
#1 Mansfield, 21 vs. #8 Bridgewater-Raynham, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (M) Aidan Sacco 38-yard pass to Makhi Baskin, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (BR) Anthony Morrison 56-yard rush, XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) Vinnie Holmes 12-yard rush, A. Sacco 2pt rush good; (M) Michael DeBolt 8-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
#3 King Philip, 21 vs. #6 Braintree, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 4-yard rush, Cole Baker XP good.
2nd Quarter: (B) Michael Tellier 1-yard rush, XP good; (KP) R. Halliday 1-yard rush, C. Baker XP good; (KP) Robbie Jarest 38-yard pass to David Morganelli, C. Baker XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
#4 North Attleboro, 21 vs. #5 Whitman-Hanson, 13 – Final 1st Quarter: (NA) Brendan McHugh 18-yard rush, Tyler DeMattio XP good.
2nd Quarter: (WH) Rian Schwede 5-yard pass to Nate Beath, Jake O’Brien XP good; (NA) Nick Raneri 2-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good; (WH) Ethan Phelps 7-yard rush, XP blocked.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (NA) B. McHugh 5-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.
#8 Stoughton, 14 @ #1 Duxbury, 35 – Final 1st Quarter: (D) John Roberts 11-yard pass to Will Prouty, XP good.
2nd Quarter: (D) J. Roberts 15-yard pass to W. Prouty, XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (D) Tim Landolfi 12-yard rush, XP good; (S) Jeff Grier 18-yard rush, Jeff Cocchi XP good; (D) Jack Jacobson 42-yard rush, XP good; (S) John Burke 64-yard pass to Christian Ais, J. Cocchi XP good; (D) J. Roberts 15-yard pass to Ryan Prudente, XP good.
#4 Canton, 27 vs. #5 Hanover, 13 – Final 1st Quarter: (C) Brendan Albert 2-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good; (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 5-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (H) Andrew Carroll 60-yard pass to Drew Berard, Robbie Barrett XP good.
4th Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 13-yard pass to Jace Emma, XP missed; (H) Ethan Ritchie 66-yard rush, XP missed; (C) K. Fitzgerald 1-yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
#8 Foxboro, 14 @ #1 Falmouth, 22 – Final 1st Quarter: (Fal) Jake Murphy 10-yard rush, J. Murphy 2pt rush; (Fox) Mike Luong 2-yard rush, Liam Foley 2pt pass to Brian Derba.
2nd Quarter: (Fal) J. Murphy 5-yard rush, Kyle Connolly 2pt rush; (Fox) L. Foley 15-yard pass to Shayne Kerrigan, 2pt pass failed.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (Fal) J. Connolly 9-yard rush, 2pt failed.
Football – Non-Playoffs
Milford, 42 vs. Dartmouth, 6 – Final
Oliver Ames, 16 @ Medfield, 34 – Final 1st Quarter: (M) James Wilder 80-yard kick off return, Cameron Lund XP good; (M) Colby Gonser 3-yard rush, C. Lund XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Jimmy Cosolito 10-yard pass to Luke Slavick, C. Lund XP good.
3rd Quarter: (OA) Nathan Cabral 5-yard rush, Jake Erlich 2pt rush; (M) C. Gonser 5-yard rush, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (OA) N. Cabral 3-yard rush, Cam Perron 2pt pass to Ethan Eckstrom; (M) Luke Eilberto 3-yard rush, C. Lund XP good.
Sharon, 6 vs. Brookline, 24 – Final
Taunton, 47 vs. Weymouth, 20 – Final
Mansfield, 0 vs. Brockton, 1 – Final
Milford, 2 vs. Hopedale, 0 – Final – Milford scored once in each half to pick up a win at home over non-league rival Hopedale. Jordan Borges picked up where he left off from his game-winner against Canton, putting the Hawks up 1-0 in the first half on an assist from Leo Coelho. In the second half, junior Walisson de Oliveira doubled the lead on an assist from Joao Vitor Neiva. Lucas Caetano had a strong game defensively and Cam Doherty recorded the shutout in net.
North Attleboro, 3 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – North Attleboro won the Blue-Red Cup behind two goals and an assist from Ashlyn Gaulin. Alex Moulson was also on the board for the Rocketeers, who got a team-record 10th shutout from goalie Emma Noreck. Morgan Silver, Bri Westcott, Sam Hawkins, Lydia Hershey, Liz Smahi and Olivia Bishop all had strong games defensively in front of Noreck.
Stoughton, 0 @ Sharon, 1 – Final – Sharon scored with 11 minutes to play to earn a win over Stoughton. The Black Knights thought they had the equalizer in the final minute but the goal was waved off for offside. Stoughton coach Tara Daniels said Nicole Weir had an outstanding game defensively for the Black Knights.
Mansfield, 1 @ Foxboro, 5 – Final
Milford @ Bellingham, 3:30
Stoughton, 1 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final – Grace Cole, Jessica Stratham, and Hannah Alarie each scored once as North Attleboro earned a win at home over visiting Stoughton. Alanna McCormick scored for the Black Knights.
King Philip, 5 @ Algonquin, 0 – Final – King Philip built a 2-0 lead by halftime and finished strong with three goals in the second half. Meghan MacDonald (from Dana Truini) opened the scoring just over a minute into the game and then set up Abby Nixon five minutes later to go up 2-0. In the second half, Nicole Connor and Alli Meehan set each other up three minutes apart to increase the lead to 4-0. Claire Lawlor capped the scoring with 10 minutes to play on a feed from MacDonald.
Attleboro, 0 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final
Canton, 3 vs. Quincy, 1 – Final – Canton fended off a comeback attempt from the Presidents of Quincy High, earning a 3-1 win at home (25-18, 25-18, 24-26, 25-18). Erin Devine had nine kills and six blocks to pace the Bulldogs at the net while Taylor Harris and Liz Bickett combined for 18 kills. Megan McDonough was amazing on defense with 22 digs and Nicole Brown continued her strong season with 25 assists and 10 digs.
King Philip, 0 @ North Quincy, 3 – Final – King Philip went on the road and suffered a 3-0 setback (21-25, 22-25, 13-25). For the Warriors, Catherine Waldeck had 11 kills and two blocks and Lily Carlow finished with five digs.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Brockton, 3 – Final – Oliver Ames won the second set to knot the score at 1-1 but Brockton prevailed in the next two sets to get the win (17-25, 25-12, 12-25, 12-25). Jordan Bosse paced OA with 12 digs, eight kills, and a pair of aces. Sadie Homer added 37 digs, Allie Kemp finished with 22 assists, and Jackie Raymond chipped in with six blocks.
Sharon, 3 vs. Dedham, 0 – Final
Stoughton, 3 @ Cardinal Spellman, 0 – Final – Stoughton wrapped up the regular season with a sweep of Spellman. Molly Turner and Delaney Nagel combined for 23 kills and Amaya Morris (six blocks) and Mia Bennett (22 digs) provided strong defense for the Black Knights. Hanna Holden had 10 assists in the win.
CANTON, Mass. – The North Attleboro football team has waited all season for its defense to come up with a game-changing play.
In the final regular season game, with their backs against the wall and a chance to share the Davenport division on the line, the defense finally delivered.
With just over a minute to go, Canton found itself inside the red zone down by four. On second and eight from the 18, the Bulldogs went for the go-ahead score. Junior quarterback Johnny Hagan was forced to throw under pressure, and junior Gersom Rivera waited in the end zone with open arms, but North Attleboro senior Omar Jasseh made a terrific leaping interception to rob Canton of a touchdown, securing a 14-10 win for the Rocketeers.
“We’ve been all waiting all year [for that],” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “We really haven’t gotten a big play on defense all year. We’ve been hanging in and hanging in, and relying on our offense to chew up the clock. Tonight we needed our defense to step up and we finally got that big play.
“I was thinking it should have happened on three different plays, it felt like we could have picked it off. I think our kids were playing a little tentative and didn’t want to get burned deep when they probably could have made a play on the ball.”
Canton started its drive at the own 48 with 3:28 left in the game. After an incompletion and a three-yard rush, the Bulldogs quickly faced a third and seven scenario.
Hagan hit Ryan Lentol on a hitch route for eight yards to move the sticks, Rivera (seven carries, 35 yards) picked up six yards on the ground, and two plays later Hagan linked up with Jace Emma for 15-yards to get to the North 20-yard line. Two plays later, Jasseh made the play in the end zone to deny the Bulldogs the Davenport title outright.
“Credit to North, the pass rush started to get to us a bit,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “Johnny is a competitor, he tried to win the game, and he took a shot. North has good coaches, and they brought some kids, and I think they made Johnny get rid of the ball differently than he normally would. But I’m proud of my guys, they battled right to the wire as usual.
“We’ve come a long way. To be in a game of this magnitude, and still have some meaningful games to look forward to, that’s good for the program. I think we have a little rivalry with North Attleboro now. To win the Hockomock League is an accomplishment, and this was a pretty good game tonight. So I think this puts us in a good position heading into the playoffs.”
It was an exciting end to a second half that was dominated by both defenses. Before its final drive of the game, Canton’s first three chances of the second half all resulted in punts. The Bulldogs moved the ball 37 yards on their second drive, advancing into North territory but back-to-back negative plays forced a punt.
North Attleboro’s offense didn’t fare much better, but it was enough. The Rocketeers had a little success on their first drive of the second half, but a sack from Brendan Albert put North in a hole, and Canton forced a turnover on downs at midfield.
After getting the ball back, the Rocketeers hit the home run play they were looking for, but only after converting a fourth down. On 3rd and 16th, the Rocketeers spread things out but went with a QB draw and Nick Raneri (15 carries, 74 yards) sprinted up the middle for 15 yards. At their own 44, North went for it, and Raneri pounded his way for two yards and a first down.
On the next play, senior Brendan McHugh (12 carries, 106 yards) came across from the right side for a sweep but instead of going all the way across, the senior cut back up a gap on the right side and sprinted for a 54-yard touchdown to put North Attleboro up 14-10 with 54 seconds to go in the third quarter.
It was the only scoring play of the second half.
“We decided to try and spread them out a bit with our formation,” Johnson said of changes in the second half. “We were running a lot of double tight early, and we had success on the first drive of the game, but they have a hell of a defense and shut us down. At halftime, we thought we could loosen them up with the formation, and I think that helped free up McHugh a little.”
The Rocketeers had an ideal start to the contest. Canton’s first drive picked up 33 yards but stalled and was forced to punt. North’s offense went right to work, starting at its own 10-yard line.
North needed just five plays to go almost the entire length of the field. Raneri ran for 10 yards, McHugh went off for 14 yards, Raneri scrambled to find Ryan Gaumond for 42 yards and then went back to the ground for 20 more yards himself.
On first and goal, Raneri kept it himself and went in from four yards out for a 7-0 lead with 5:55 to go in the first.
“McHugh really has it all, he’s fast and he probably doesn’t get enough credit for his toughness,” Bohane said. “He runs hard and he’s a hard kid to bring down, especially with his speed. One of our coaches said he’s the best back in the league and at times he certainly looked like it. He’s good and Raneri is a handful, and they made some really nice play calls with him at the right time.”
The Bulldogs finally got things going offensively right at the end of the first quarter. Hagan ran for seven yards and hit Emma for a third down conversion. On the final play of the opening quarter, Hagan hit Kyle Fitzgerald (96 all purpose yards) up the seam for a 39-yard pass.
On the first play of the second quarter, Hagan pitched it to Rivera on the right side and the junior scampered in to make it 7-7.
Canton’s defense got a stop to get the ball back and used eight plays to move into North territory, gaining 43 yards. But a holding play hurt the drive and the Bulldogs settled for a 34-yard field goal from junior Owen Lehane, taking a 10-7 lead into halftime.
The win gives North Attleboro a share of the 2018 Davenport division title, marking the fourth straight year that the Rocketeers have won a league title. It’s the first time in program history that North has won four straight.
“It was big for us to still have a chance at the title,” Johnson said after losing to Stoughton last week. “This is our fourth consecutive title for us, no North Attleboro team has ever won four in a row. The loss last week was also our first loss in the league since 2014, so the kids were feeling down about that too. But they still had an opportunity in front of them to do what no other senior group has done, so that was a real motivator.
“[Canton] is a hell of a football team. We’re sharing the title with them, and they deserve that share of it. They have a great football team over there, and the scary thing is they are all juniors, but I’ll worry about that next year.”
“As high as we were for this game, we can kind of breath a little bit and focus on the playoffs,” Bohane said. “We’re really excited to be in the playoffs and I honestly can’t wait to find out who we’re playing and get to work. We wanted to win this game badly but we wanted to play competitive and come out healthy. And I think we’re in a good position moving forward.”
North Attleboro football (4-1 Hockomock, 5-2 overall) likely earns a home game in the D3 South playoffs with the victory, though final seeds aren’t announced until late in the weekend. The Rocketeers will also likely return to Community Field for the first round playoff game. Canton (4-1, 6-1) will also likely host a game in Division 5 South.
Attleboro, 24 @ Franklin, 31 – Final 1st Quarter: (F) Nick Gordon 2-yard rush, Parker Chevront XP good; (A) Justin Cote 83-yard kick return, Colby Briggs XP good.
2nd Quarter: (A) Jason Weir 1-yard rush, C. Briggs XP good; (F) P. Chevront 31-yard field goal; (A) C. Briggs 35-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: (A) J. Weir 10-yard pass to Ethan Cameron, C. Briggs XP good; (F) N. Gordon 55-yard pass to Marcus Quintina, P. Chevront XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) N. Gordon 11-yard pass to Jack Nally, P. Chevront XP good; (F) N. Gordon 52-yard pass to J. Nally, P. Chevront XP good.
Foxboro, 17 @ Sharon, 8 – Final
Taunton, 7 @ King Philip, 24 – Final
Mansfield, 36 @ Oliver Ames, 8- Final 1st Quarter: (M) Michael DeBolt 5-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) V. Holmes 7-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; (M) Aidan Sacco 12-yard pass to Khristian Conner, M. DeBolt XP good; (M) V. Holmes 6-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
3rd Quarter: (OA) Nathan Cabral 5-yard rush, Cam Perron conversion pass to Darnele Ryan.
4th Quarter: (M) Conner Smith 23-yard pass to Shane Downey, Aridan Archambault 2-point rush good.
Milford, 18 @ Stoughton, 15 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (S) John Burke 26-yard pass to Alex Iverson, Josh Cocchi XP good; (M) Colby Pires 1-yard pass to Shapel Feaster, XP blocked.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (M) C. Pires 16-yard pass to Brendan White, 2-pt conversion no good; (S) Christopher Ais 12-yard rush, J. Burke conversion pass to Malachi Green-Hightower; (M) Ryan Pearl 1-yard rush, XP no good.
King Philip, 0 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final
Stoughton, 2 @ Foxboro, 6 – Final – Stoughton scored a pair of first half goals but Foxboro had four straight unanswered goals to pick up a win on the road. The Black Knights opened the scoring in the 16th minute but headed into halftime down 3-2, after being tied 2-2 late in the half. Foxboro added three more goals in the second half. Joe Cusack had four assists and Shane VandenBoom added a pair of goals and an assist to pace the Warriors. Dylan Barreira, Ronnie MacLellan, and Max Beigel all scored once while Nic Beigel had an assists. Stoughton freshman Dante Eschleman scored on a free kick to put the Knights up 1-0. Senior Carter Gerome also scored his first career goal for the Black Knights, assisted by Ryan Reis.
Franklin, 3 @ Taunton, 1 – Final – Franklin built a 1-0 lead at half, doubled that advantage in the second half, and walked away with a 3-1 decision to qualify for the state tournament. Nick Barry opened the scoring on an assist from Donny Tappin to give the Panthers a lead by halftime. Tim Duval and Lucas Moura scored second half goals for Franklin.
Mansfield, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Mansfield senior Ethan Brill-Cass scored game-winner in the 78th minute to give the Hornets a win and at least a share of the Kelley-Rex division title. After a long throw from Dylan Buchanan, Oliver Ames’ clearance was knocked down by a partial block from a Mansfield player. Brill-Cass latched onto the loose ball and placed it into the far corner for the winner.
Milford, 0 @ North Attleboro, 0 – Final – Both teams had chances to find the back of the net but didn’t convert as North, Milford settled for their second draw of the season. Kyle Briere made three saves for the Rocketeers while Tiago Carvalho and Lucas Da Silva had strong games for the Hawks.
Attleboro, 6 @ King Philip, 0 – Final – KP broke the game open with five goals in the second half. Avery Snead scored a hat trick and had an assist for the Warriors. Snead opened the scoring off an assist by Chloe Layne in the first half. Snead doubled the lead with a penalty kick in the second half and then assisted on a Layne goal. Ally Stanton made it 4-0 from Layne and then Layne assisted on Snead’s third. Layne wrapped up the scoring with her second goal (and fourth point) off an assist by Molly MacDonald.
Foxboro, 8 @ Stoughton, 1 – Final – Jordyn Collins had two goals and two assists for the unbeaten Warriors, who maintain their lead at the top of the Davenport division. Mackenzi Fraser had two goals and an assist, Kailee McCabe had a pair of goals, Aislinn Serveas scored her first goal of the season (assisted by Katie Huether), and Lizzy Davis chipped in with a goal as well.
Taunton, 0 @ Franklin, 4 – Final – Anna Balkus scored twice and Calen Frongillo had a pair of assists to lift Franklin to a big win to keep pace with league-leading Mansfield. Sydney St. Marie and Bridgette Ginley also scored goals for the Panthers. Hailey Toolin and Kaylee DeSimone each had assists. Franklin goalie Breanna Atwood made three saves for the clean sheet.
North Attleboro, 3 @ Milford, 1 – Final – Juliana France opened the scoring for Milford, but Kayla Pasquel answered with a 20-yard strike to tie the game at 1-1. In the second half, Alex Moulson scored off a pass from Lydia Santos for what turned out to be the game-winner and Ashlyn Gaulin, who assisted on North’s first goal, scored off a Pasquel assist to seal the two points. With a goal and assist on Friday, Gaulin moved into third on North’s career scoring list with 82 points.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Mansfield, 4 – Final – Bryn Anderson scored a pair of goals to keep Mansfield in first place in the division. Maria Sevastos and Kerina Geminiani also scored goals for the Hornets, while Katie Garvin, Steph Kemp, and Kaylee Smith all recorded assists in the win. Allison Evin scored for Oliver Ames.
Attleboro, 4 @ Bishop Feehan, 0 – Final – Alex Compton and Anna Beck each scored twice for the Bombardiers against their cross-town rivals, while Shea Harrison made 14 stops to earn the shutout.
Sharon, 0 vs. Norwell, 3 – Final
Stoughton, 3 vs. Brockton, 2 – Final – Stoughton broke a tie game inside the final five minutes of the game to earn a win over the Boxers. Alanna McCormick scored the game winner with 4:40 left, while Haley Nelson scored Stoughton’s first two goals.
Taunton, 3 vs. New Bedford, 0 – Final – Taunton took a 1-0 lead into halftime and then scored two late goals to secure the win over visiting New Bedford. Cierra Bartel, Caitlin Connors, and Kennedy Thielker each scored once for the Tigers.
King Philip, 0 @ Needham, 3 – Final – King Philip suffered a 3-0 (18-25, 15-25, 16-25) setback on the road at Needham. Kristen Masse led the offense with eight kills while Nicole Coughlan had seven kills for the Warriors. Shayla Weitzman finished with 10 digs.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Mansfield, 3 – Final – Mansfield overcame a 2-1 deficit, winning the final two sets to prevail 3-2 (3-25, 25-19, 25-27, 25-21, 15-12) in a non-league win over North Attleboro. “It was a great team effort by the whole team,” said Mansfield head coach Melissa Heeden. Abby Sullivan has 18 service points with half of those coming in the fifth set to help the Hornets each the win. Greenly Kelly added 12 kills and four blocks, Olivia McGrath had 11 kills, had Katie Dardinski finished with 15 service points and five digs for Mansfield. For North Attleboro, Brooke Street had a great defensive game while Grace Munley had a strong game at the net with four blocks.
Milford, 3 @ Nipmuc, 0 – Final
Stoughton, 3 @ Brockton, 2 – Final – In one of the tightest matches of the season, Stoughton avenged a five-set loss to the Boxers from earlier in the season with a 3-2 (26-24, 27-25, 23-25, 17-25, 16-14) win on the road. Molly Turner led the Stoughton offense with 18 kills while Delaney Nagel added 14. Amaya Morris recorded nine blocks and Mia Bennett was strong on defense with 38 digs.
Taunton, 3 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 2 – Final
Franklin, 160 @ Oliver Ames, 150 – Final – In the final dual match of the season, Oliver Ames knocked off Franklin to earn a share of the Kelley-Rex title with the Panthers. Nolan Donze led the way with a 35, both Liam Barry and Justin Shapiro fired rounds of 38, and Thomas Walsh chipped in with a 39.