Canton’s defense continued to shine, posting its second shutout in league play. The Bulldogs limited Milford to 53 yards of total offense and six first downs, with the majority of those yards and conversions coming on the final drive of the game with a running clock.
“We were looking at the weather all week and we were thinking it might work in our favor,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “[Milford] has such a good passing attack, they can throw the ball so well, so dynamic. Their slot [receivers] really got our attention. Sometimes our defense, we have to play the physical aspect against good running teams like Stoughton, and tonight we were challenged in the passing game. I’m very proud of the defense.”
The Bulldogs made life difficult for the Hawks, limiting the visitors’ potent passing game to just three completions in its first seven drives. But four of those drives ended in punts, another in an interception, a turnover on downs, and the end of the first half. The final drive, which spanned 66 yards on eight plays, was denied at the goal line to end the game.
“The conditions were advantageous with how we play defense,” Bohane said. “The defense has played any style we’ve asked them to play. I thought the coaches did a good job preparing, mimicking Milford’s offense and how they go about it — and they are very good, very explosive. We have some pretty big guys up front so we thought we’d be able to hold up against the run. It’s tough to get to their quarterback because he gets rid of it so fast, so we felt we had to have a body on a body, just accounted for everyone.”
Milford’s defense was equal to the task to start the game, forcing a turnover on downs on the opening series and then a three-and-out on Canton’s second offensive possession.
But Canton senior Jace Emma read a hitch route perfectly on Milford’s first play of their second series, jumping in front for an interception and giving the Bulldogs terrific field possession.
From there on out, Canton’s offense was unstoppable, scoring on its final five possessions of the game.
Following Emma’s pick, Canton needed just six plays to go 35 yards to take a first quarter lead. Highlighted by a 31-yard dash from senior Kyle Fitzgerald (19 carries, 109 yards), the Dogs punched it on fourth down when senior quarterback Johnny Hagan (11 carries, 56 yards, three touchdowns) kept it himself for a three-yard score and a 7-0 lead with 2:14 left in the opening quarter.
“Jace has been so good for us for so long,” Bohane said. “We lost one of our corners to injury and Jace stepped in. I was telling him that he belongs out there, I think he was up for the challenge. He stepped up and made that pick, and it was all him, he read it right in man coverage.”
After getting the ball back after a quick three-and-out, Canton marched 58 yards on 11 plays to double its advantage. An offside call shortened a fourth down and the Dogs gave the direct snap to Robbie Gallery on a fake punt to move the chains.
Fitzgerald converted another fourth down on the drive, and two plays later Hagan kept it himself and got around the edge to find the end zone for a 21-yard score.
Canton wasn’t done in the half though, with its defense once again forcing a three-and-out while pushing the Milford defense backward.
This time it took just seven plays to go 44 yards for the Bulldogs, After a healthy mix of Fitzgerald, Hagan, and Gersom Rivera (nine carries, 39 yards) on the ground, Canton caught the Hawks’ defense with a pass play as Hagan delivered a perfect pass to Emma on a slant for 22 yards.
On the next play, Hagan kept it himself for another three-yard touchdown, giving Canton a 21-0 lead heading into halftime.
Bohane and his staff were well aware the game was far from over, and with the firepower that Milford possesses, the Bulldogs’ put a big emphasis on the opening drive of the second half.
With its defense on the field, everything continued to go the Dogs’ way. An incomplete pass was followed by a second down sack from junior Matt Connolly, and a tackle from Jahmi Aldin for no gain on third down.
“We felt like the first series in the third quarter was going to be very important,” Bohane said. “The kids came out and played hard. I can’t remember how exactly it went down but we continued to play well on both sides of the ball. Everyone stepped up and contributed, it was overall a good night for us.”
The first offensive possession of the second half didn’t go exactly as the Bulldogs had planned but still ended up in points nonetheless. Hagan dumped a screen pass off for Fitzgerald, and he took it 45 yards to the end zone but the Bulldogs were whistled for a hold.
That meant Canton had to punt for the first time all night, but the Milford returner couldn’t field it cleanly and the Dogs pounced on the muffed ball.
Again, Fitzgerald found the end zone on a rushing play but again, a holding call negated it. Canton took advantage of a personal foul on the Hawks’ defense, as Rivera took it up the middle from three yards out to make it 28-0 with 5:12 to go in the third quarter.
But a couple plays later, Jack Connolly, Lucas Ragusa, and Gallery combined for a big sack on first down. And Ben Guerini delivered a third down sack two plays later, and the Bulldogs forced an incompletion on fourth down to get the ball back.
It took eight plays to cover the 35 yards, the longest play of the drive coming on Rivera’s 13-yard run up the middle as he bounced between defenders for a score and a 35-0 lead with seven minutes left in the game.
Canton football (5-0 overall, 3-0 Hockomock) visits North Attleboro next week while Milford (3-2, 2-1) hosts Stoughton in a potential playoff preview.
CANTON, Mass. – The teams were so similar that it was destined to be a close game. Canton and Stoughton both have speed in the backfield, strong offensive and defensive lines, and athletes all over the field. It was like looking in the mirror. So, it came down to turnovers and one drive that decided the game.
Having managed only five first downs to that point, including one drive stuffed inside the Stoughton 10, the Bulldogs took over possession with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. The drive started at their own 35 and nine plays later resulted in the game’s lone touchdown.
Senior quarterback Johnny Hagan (17 carries, 125 yards on the ground and 9-of-18 for 80 yards passing) had the big play on what turned out to be the game-winning drive, breaking free of the Stoughton defense for a 31-yard gain down to the one. Two plays later he got the last yard to give the Bulldogs the lead with just 14.4 seconds to go before halftime of their 10-0 victory in the 100th meeting between the Thanksgiving Day rivals.
“It was definitely a long two weeks,” said Hagan about having a bye last week. “We were itching to play last week, but just to get out here with the crowd and everyone was very fun.”
“I thought they’d be good,” Canton coach Dave Bohane said about his defense, which has now allowed only seven total points in three games. “To beat these guys 10-0, to play well against a very quality team, they maybe exceeded my expectations but we have good speed and some experienced guys. Experience really showed up tonight.”
The Canton defense allowed only three first downs and no points to a Stoughton offense that came into the night averaging 41 points per game. The Bulldogs held talented running backs Christopher and Christian Aiss to a combined 46 yards, while recovering three fumbles. Linebackers Owen Lehane, Lucas Ragusa, Robbie Gallery, and James Murphy were all over the field, making plays from sideline to sideline.
“We play five of them and that’s the strength of our team,” Bohane explained. “There was one play where Ais had the ball and Murphy came out of nowhere. Sometimes James finds another gear on big plays and he was really impressive on that. A lot of kids have had those guys tackled this year and it takes two or three people to bring them down so really credit to our kids tonight getting those guys on the ground.”
On its second possession, Canton came close to making the breakthrough. Hagan had the big play, a 47-yard keeper down the far sideline that got the Bulldogs to the Stoughton 24. They got as close as the two, but Carlvin LaGuerre stuffed Kyle Fitzgerald (21 carries, 64 yards) on third down for a one-yard loss and then Jerry Brisson and Oluwole Fabikun stuffed him again on fourth down.
“We battled,” said Stoughton coach Greg Burke. “They did a good job. Their big player is the quarterback, no doubt. He’s the key and we practiced all week trying to get him but it’s hard to duplicate him.”
It took until its fourth possession for Stoughton to manage a first down. Christian Ais finally got a seam and he broke a 33-yard run down to the Canton 15, but two plays later quarterback Clayton Rahaman couldn’t get a clean hand-off away and Matt Connolly pounced on the loose ball to end the drive.
Burke said, “I thought we hung in there but we fumbled down here and then fumbled down there. Without having the ball, you can’t score. We got the ball back a bunch of times but we didn’t do anything, so back to the drawing board.”
The game seemed destined to be scoreless at the break until the Bulldogs finally succeeded in finishing a drive. It was a huge momentum swing coming in the final seconds before halftime.
“It was huge because it wasn’t really materializing there and then all of a sudden we hit a couple plays and I was like we may put one in here,” said Bohane. “Obviously, we’ve got to work on our short-yardage stuff because that was frustrating to not put them in but Johnny kind of stepped up there.”
He added, “But, we were up 7-0 on Thanksgiving, so that came up a lot in the locker room.”
Canton got the ball to start the second half and marched into Stoughton territory, but stalled at the 36. Bohane elected to punt and David Allen’s effort was dropped at the 10. Murphy dove on top of the fumble to give the Bulldogs new life. A holding penalty denied Hagan his second touchdown, but Canton came away with points on a 27-yard field goal by Lehane.
Hagan said, “That was huge going into half and then coming out third quarter we needed to have a big third quarter. Making it a two-score game was definitely huge for momentum.”
It wasn’t what the hosts were hoping for, but a two-score lead felt insurmountable with the defense continuing to shut the Black Knights down.
The biggest play of the second half for Stoughton was a screen pass from John Burke to Christopher Ais for 15 yards but the ball was pried loose and Lehane recovered. Ais would answer by recovering a Gersom Rivera fumble eight plays later, but by then the clock was winding down and there was no chance for Stoughton to come back.
Canton (3-0, 1-0) will continue its league title defense next Friday night against Foxboro, while Stoughton (2-1, 0-1) will try to bounce back on Thursday night in Sharon.
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.”
Milford, 46 @ Canton, 52 – Final – Canton senior Devin Foster poured in a game-high 28 points, including a three-pointer in the first quarter that made him the all-time leading scorer in Bulldog basketball history, passing Brian Pendergast (1,179 points in 2000). Foster (12 rebounds) scored 12 points in the opening quarter, and then 14 in the second half to help Canton turn a halftime deficit into a win. Milford led 23-20 at the break but the Bulldogs scored 18 points in the third to seize the lead (38-31) with both Ryan Lentol (10 points) and Robbie Gallery scoring five in the frame. Milford’s Brendan White scored 17 of his team-high 20 points in the second half and Danny Corsini added 14 points for the Hawks.
North Attleboro, 47 @ Foxboro, 48 – Final – Foxboro senior Anthony Mollica sank both ends of a one-and-one situation from the foul line with 2.9 seconds to lift the Warriors to a win and a spot in the state tournament. The Rocketeers led by one after a 9-0 run and had the ball with 31 seconds left in the game, and 24 seconds left on the shot clock, but couldn’t extend the lead. Mollica drove to the basket as time ticked away and was able to draw a foul on the floor, with the Rocketeers in the bonus. North Attleboro led 26-20 at half and 36-33 going into the final quarter. An early run from the Warriors put the hosts ahead, leading 46-38. North responded with a 9-0 run, Josh Montague hitting back-to-back baskets to put the Rocketeers up 47-46. Foxboro junior Brandon Borde had a game-high 17 points while Mollica finished with 10, seven coming in the final quarter. Josh Porter, Ethan Friberg, and Jake Petersen each had eight points for North.
Oliver Ames, 66 @ King Philip, 71 – Final (OT) – King Philip overcame a 22-point second half deficit to force overtime and shock Oliver Ames. The Tigers jumped ahead 34-21 by halftime, and extended the lead to as much as 22 before taking a 55-37 lead into the final eight minutes. King Philip held OA to just three points in the final quarter, dropping 21 points of their own to tie the game and force overtime. In the extra period, with KP up by two, senior Bruce Saintilus (27 points) hauled in an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and sank two free throws of his own to extend the lead to four with 10 seconds left to secure the win. Saintilus scored nine points in the fourth quarter comeback and was 6-for-6 from the line in overtime. Juniors Alex Fritz and Andrew McKinney each added 15 points for KP, who scored 34 points over the final 12 minutes after netting just 36 over the course of the first three quarters. Sean O’Brien had a team-high 14 points, Owen Friel added 12 points and Jake Erlich finished with 11 points for OA.
Taunton, 56 @ Mansfield, 65 – Final – Mansfield pulled away late to secure the Kelley-Rex division title, a record seventh straight for the Hornets, surpassing Oliver Ames’ six straight from 1981-1986. Mansfield held a 16-13 lead after a quarter of play, and took a 30-27 advantage into halftime. Taunton continued to battle, taking a brief 41-40 lead late in the third and went into the fourth quarter tied 44-44. Mansfield made a 8-3 run over a three minute span in the fourth quarter to create enough separation for the win. Damani Scott had a team-high 15 points along with 11 rebounds, Sam Stevens added 13 points, and TJ Guy finished with 11 points. Taunton junior Dante Law had a team-high 21 points.
Sharon, 36 @ Stoughton, 80 – Final – Stoughton combined to score 45 points between the second and third periods, running away with a big win over Sharon to qualify for the state tournament for the first time since 2012. The Black Knights connected on an impressive 31 two-point field goals, with 10 players getting on the scoresheet and six of them scoring nine points or more. Junior Obinna Ugwuakazi scored a team-high 13 points, sophomore Brett Pendenza added 11 points, senior Zak Paquette and junior Ahmad Jahed each scored 10 points, and senior Kevin Dixon and junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell each finished nine points. Aidan Kane had a team-high 12 points for Sharon.
Franklin 54 @ Attleboro, 63 – Final – Liv McCall and Mackenzie Roberts both scored career-highs and Attleboro head coach Marty Crowley called the game a “phenomenal effort” by the Bombardiers to hand the Panthers their first league loss of the season. McCall scored 18 points and Roberts added 17 to lead Attleboro to the upset. Bea Bondhus had 13 points and Megan O’Connell had 12 for the Panthers.
Canton, 58 @ Milford, 32 – Final – Canton matched its highest win total since 1995 with its 13th win of the season. Maggie Connolly led the way with 13 points, Sydney Gallery added 12 and Kiara Cerruti scored 11 for the Bulldogs.
King Philip, 60 @ Oliver Ames, 69 – Final – A pair of underclassman each scored over 20 points for the Tigers, helping Oliver Ames fend off visiting King Philip. Sophomore Caroline Flynn had a career-high 25 points and hauled in 11 rebounds while freshman Caroline Peper scored a career-high 26 points for OA. Shannon O’Connor led three Warriors in double digits with 23 points, but KP couldn’t find a way back after falling behind early, trailing 32-23 at half. Brianna James scored 13 points and Faye Veilleux added 11 for KP.
Mansfield, 47 @ Taunton, 36 – Final – Mansfield took control of the game in the third quarter, breaking open a 20-20 halftime tie by scoring 19 points in the third. Maggie Danehy scored 16 points and pulled down 12 rebounds and Sydney Mulkern added nine for the Hornets. Sonya Fernandez was the top scorer for the Tigers with 15 points and Lily Patneaude added eight.
Stoughton, 46 @ Sharon, 55 – Final – Emma Eberhardt closed out the season with 15 points to help the Eagles sweep the season series with the Black Knights and finish with nine wins. Kaitlyn Wallace added 13 and Telishya Herbert had 10 in the win. Sophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe scored 18 points for Stoughton.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Locked in a defensive battle, the North Attleboro and Canton boys basketball teams spent the majority of the fourth quarter in a one-possession game.
For the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter, only one minute of it was spent with Canton holding more than a one-possession lead. And for a three and a half minute stretch, neither side could make a move to either pull away or erase the deficit.
North Attleboro senior Josh Montague converted a tough layup to bring the Rocketeers within three at 41-38 with just over four minutes left in the game. Canton had plenty of chances to pull away, but the Rocketeers wouldn’t allow it.
Over the next three and a half minutes, Canton went 0-for-5 from the field, leaving the lead at just three points and the door open for the Rocketeers.
But while Canton’s offense sputtered, its defense continued to force the Rocketeers into tough shots. North Attleboro didn’t fare any better in the stretch, going 0-for-3 from the field, missed the front end of a one-and-one, and had three turnovers.
Despite the lack of success for North, it’s defense also kept them in the game, and the Rocketeers trailed by three the under a minute to go.
It wasn’t until Canton forced a turnover off an inbounds play and with just under 20 seconds to go in the game, the Bulldogs turned to the man who had carried them virtually the entire game: senior Devin Foster.
Foster made a cut through the lane and took a feed from Kyle Fitzgerald and laid it in for a five-point lead. And to seal the deal, Foster stepped in to take a charge on North’s next possession to get the ball back.
With the 43-38 victory, Canton clinches sole possession of the Davenport division title. It marks the second straight year the Bulldogs have won the division.
“It was a strange game because of the flow of it, or lack of flow to it,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “It was kind of a unique game. We had a really bad first quarter, giving up 18 points but then we held them to 20 points the rest of the way. And they are a good team, they have bigs, they have shooters. For us to be able to hold a good team like that through the final three quarters is big for us. It was a defensive battle, a classic Davenport division game.”
Foster’s last bucket was just the cherry on top of a terrific performance. The senior guard scored all of Canton’s eight points in the final quarter, and accounted for 19 of the team’s 22 points in the second half. Foster finished with 29 points and five rebounds.
“They were switching, and we knew that coming in, so we drew some plays up to try and get him some easier baskets and put him in different matchups that we felt we could take advantage of,” Gordy said. “So the gameplan kind of just went that way. And the other thing is our road woes. Over the last three years, we’re much better at home than on the road. Devin has been great both at home and on the road but we have to get everybody else playing like they do at home.”
North Attleboro’s offense came out strong, scoring 18 points in the opening quarter. But it fizzled from there as the Rocketeers managed just 20 points over the final three quarters, going just 2-for-18 from three point range for the game. The Rocketeers opened by hitting eight of their first 11 shots from the field but managed just six field goals on 31 attempts over the final 24 minutes.
“I’m proud of the effort, but, defensively obviously Foster is a handful,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “We tried a couple of different things and he found ways to make plays and make shots. Ultimately we just didn’t down enough good looks, some great looks. I’m proud that we got those looks, we’ve knocked them down the last couple of games but tonight, for whatever reason, we just didn’t knock enough down shots. Holding them to 43 is good but scoring 38 isn’t enough.”
The teams combined for just 14 points in the second quarter. Sophomore George Ladd (10 points, nine rebounds) scored the first three points for the Rocketeers while Nate Gonsalves hit a pair of free throws. For Canton, Fitzgerald drained a three, Robbie Gallery added a free throw, and Foster scored four straight to get the Bulldogs within two, 23-21, at halftime.
The Bulldogs seemed to make a concerted effort to get Foster the ball in the third quarter, and the senior delivered. After Fitzgerald hit a three to open the frame for the Bulldogs, Foster scored the next 11 for Canton.
He followed Fitzgeralds three with a triple of his own and drove to the basket for two more for a 29-25 lead. Foster and North’s Jake Petersen traded two points apiece before Foster hit back-to-back shots for a 35-28 advantage, the largest lead of the night for Canton.
“They made some more significant changes defensively at halftime,” Mulkerrins said. “They defended our sets pretty well, they did a better job of closing down our driving lanes. In the third quarter, we didn’t get as many looks. In the second and fourth quarter, we got the looks but if you don’t capitalize on them you won’t win the game.”
Josh Porter and Montague connected on back-to-back chances to bring North Attleboro within three heading into the final quarter.
Nate Gonsalves got North within two early and a pair of free throws from Joe MiloshCanton boys basketball (9-6 Hockomock, 11-8 overall) concludes its league schedule when it hosts Milford on Friday night. North Attleboro (6-9, 8-9) hits the road to take on Foxboro on the same night.
Mansfield, 62 @ Attleboro, 63 – Final (OT) – Attleboro junior Bryant Ciccio (24 points) hit a couple of clutch free throws between the end of regulation and the overtime period to help the Bombardiers earn the win. Mansfield senior Tommy Dooling (16 points) converted a putback with eight seconds left to give the Hornets a 58-57 lead but Ciccio hit a free throw with 0.6 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The Hornets held a 62-59 lead with under a minute to go in the extra period but a steal and layup from Mason Houle (10 points) made it a one-point game with 32 seconds to play. After getting a stop, Ciccio hit two free throws to put Attleboro up 63-62. The Bombardiers forced a backcourt violation, got the clock down to 2.4 seconds, missed a pair of free throws but prevented Mansfield from getting a shot off at the final buzzer. “I’m proud of our effort, we stayed together and made big plays tonight in crucial situations on both ends of the court,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We made it a priority to make the next play and didn’t panic.” Qualeem Charles added 15 points for Attleboro while Tim Callahan had 10 points. Damani Scott added 16 points and Matt Boen finished with 11 points for the Hornets.
Foxboro, 60 @ Canton, 65 – Final – Canton outscored Foxboro 43-31 between the two middle quarters, helping the Bulldogs turn an early deficit into a lead it never relinquished. Junior Kyle Fitzgerald scored 14 of his 16 points in those two periods while senior Devin Foster spread his 16 points out among all four corners. Ryan Lentol connected on four three-pointers for a career-high 14 points while Robbie Gallery added nine for Canton. Foxboro sophomore Kevin Gallagher scored a team-high 14 points, senior Anthony Mollica added 13 points, and junior Brandon Borde finished with 12 points.
King Philip, 39 @ Franklin, 62 – Final – After scoring 21 points in the first half, Franklin exploded for 21 points in the third quarter along to pull away from the Warriors. The Panthers led 21-13 at half but held a 42-29 advantage through three quarters. The Panthers added 20 more points in the final frame. Junior Chris Edgehill netted a team-high 16 points while Jack Rudolph added 14 points and Thomas Gasbarro finished with 13 points. Alex Fritz had a team-high 13 points for King Philip.
Sharon, 51 @ Milford, 66 – Final – Holding a three-point lead at halftime, up 28-25, Milford opened the second half with a 12-0 run and never looked back in a win over Sharon. Milford senior Brendan White poured in a career-high 29 points while hauling in 14 rebounds to pace the Scarlet Hawks. Brendon Sailer scored nine of his 13 points in the third quarter to help the Hawks create separation. Colby Pires and Jordan Darling pitched in with eight points apiece. Aidan Kane scored a team-high 12 points for Sharon with Ben Kaplan and Caleb Gayle each chipping in with eight points each.
Stoughton, 45 @ North Attleboro, 44 – Final – Stoughton junior Ajahn Rue hit the game-winning three pointer with 1.8 seconds left to lift the Black Knights to the win on the road. Stoughton led 42-41 late in the game before North Attleboro junior George Ladd drained a three to put the Rocketeers ahead 44-42. On the ensuing inbounds, Rue (12 points) brought the ball up and pulled up for the three to put the Black Knights back ahead. Stoughton junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the second half, helping the Black Knights rally from a 26-19 deficit at half. Evan Rosenberg led North Attleboro with 12 points and Nate Gonsalves chipped in with 10 points.
Attleboro, 51 @ Mansfield, 63 – Final – Maggie Danehy had a career-high 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Hornets, helping Mansfield earn its first league win of the season. The Hornets trailed after the first quarter but an 18-10 second pushed Mansfield ahead for good. Sophomore Ashley Santos also had a career-high with 11 points in the win and Becca Hottleman had eight points and four assists. Attleboro was led for the second game in a row by Mackenzie Roberts, who scored eight, while Jordyn Lako and Liv McCall each had seven points.
Franklin, 62 @ King Philip, 34 – Final – Ali Brigham continued her strong start to the season, scoring 28 points to lead the Panthers to a second straight win. Franklin jumped in front 46-14 after three quarters with Megan O’Connell adding 19 points and Bea Bondhus scoring six. KP was led by Faye Veilleux with 14 points.
Milford, 41 @ Sharon, 54 – Final – Telishya Herbert scored a game-high and career-high 30 points, sparking the Eagles to their first win of the season. Emma Eberhardt added eight points in the win. Emma Lawrence scored 22 of Milford’s 41 points in the loss, which was a career-high for her, and Katie Maietta had eight in the loss.
North Attleboro, 51 @ Stoughton, 62 – Final – Sophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe bounced back from a tough opener against OA with 19 points, seven assists, and four steals, while junior Aliyah Wright had 18 points and eight rebounds to get the Black Knights their first win of the season. Senior Lindsay McDonald double-digit rebounds for the second straight game, pulling down 18 boards in the win.
Oliver Ames, 63 @ Taunton, 51 – Final – OA pulled away late in a close game that featured a lot of runs from both sides and moved to 2-0 on the season. Senior All Scolnick paced OA with 22 points and classmate Sadie Homer ran the game at the point for the Tigers. Taunton was led by Jaelyn Fernandez with 17 points and Sonya Fernandez with 12.
Foxboro, 36 @ Taunton, 49 – Final – A sophomore, a freshman, and an eighth grader all won a pair of events to lead the Tigers to a win in their first meet of the season. Sophomore Garrett Rainey won both the 200 free and the 500 free, freshman Tim Luc won the 200 IM (2:20.92) and the 100 fly (59.12), and eighth grader Gerald Grealish touched first in the 100 free (59.21) and 100 breaststroke (1:12.13). Taunton’s 200 medley relay of Brady Callahan, Peter Ye, Tim Luc, and Martin Dafov and 400 free relay of Callahan, Grealish, Ye, and Luc both took first. The Warriors took first and second in the 200 relay with Ben Dorman, Thomas Perry, Dimitrios Davis, and Thomas VanDell taking first in 1:57 and the team of Jared Roke, Kris Andersen, Spencer SanBento, and Joseph St. Pierre coming in second. VanDell added a second place finish in the 50 free for Foxboro.
Franklin, 36 @ Stoughton, 7 – Final
Foxboro, 53 @ Taunton, 41 – Final – Foxboro took first place in six individual races and one relay race to earn a victory over Taunton. Pam Nelson and Lindsey Nelson earned a pair of wins, with Pam touching first in the 200 IM (2:31) and the 100 free (1:02) and Lindsey winning the 500 free (6:21) and 100 breaststroke (1:24), Sarah Egan won the 200 free (2:29) and Gina Ouellette earned first in the 100 fly (1:14). Foxboro’s 200 relay team of Nelson, Nelson, Ooullette and Egan earned first in 2:01. For Taunton, freshman Angelina Lynch won the 50 free (27.12) and eighth grader Tiffany Ye won the 100 backstroke (1:09.42). Taunton’s 200 medley relay of Jacalin Gallagher, Ye, Marisa Gay, and Lynch and the 400 free relay of Gallagher, Macey Jorge, Gay, and Ye both took first place.
Franklin, 73 @ Stoughton, 31 – Final – Franklin’s 200 free relay team of Heather McCarthy, Alyssa LaPuma, Katie Chew, and Katie Cashin qualified for sectionals with a time of 1:53.97.
Canton, 55 @ Attleboro, 59 – Final – Attleboro built a 12-point lead by halftime but Canton chipped away in the second half, making it a one-point game late in the fourth quarter. Bombardiers junior Bryant Cicco (17 points) answered with a layup with less than a minute to play to extend the lead to 58-55 and junior Qualeem Charles (13 points) hit a free throw in the final moments to ice the win for Attleboro. Mason Houle added 13 points and Tim Callahan chipped in with 11 points with three three-pointers for Attleboro. Canton senior Devin Foster scored a game-high 27 points, including 16 in the second half, to help the Bulldogs get back in the game. Robbie Gallery added 11 points for Canton.
Milford, 29 @ Franklin, 64 – Final – After a slow first quarter for both teams (8-4 Panthers), Franklin built a 25-12 lead at halftime and kept that lead the rest of the way in a win over Milford. Franklin junior Chris Edgehill scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half to keep the Panthers ahead while Jalen Samuels chipped in with 12 points. Franklin had five players score in a 17-point second quarter that helped create the separation. Senior Brendan White led the Hawks with 15 points.
North Attleboro, 48 @ Taunton, 73 – Final – Taunton had a strong start to both the first and third quarters to earn a win over visiting North Attleboro. The Tigers put up 26 points in the opening quarter with six players scoring a field goal, and took a 43-29 lead at halftime. Taunton opened the second half with an 11-2 run and never looked back. Tigers junior Dante Law scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the third quarter to help Taunton pull away. Naz Kenion (12 points), Lou Vendrell (11 points), and John Martins (10 points) all scored in double-figures for Taunton. North Attleboro’s Josh Montague had a team-high 15 points, Nate Gonsalves added 13 points and sophomore George Ladd recorded 10 points in his varsity debut.
Stoughton, 39 @ Oliver Ames, 57 – Final – Holding a three-point lead at the break (25-22), Oliver Ames had a big third quarter to pull away from visiting Stoughton. The Tigers limited the Black Knights to just two points in the third quarter while scoring 15 points to take a 40-24 lead into the final quarter. Oliver Ames senior Ethan Eckstrom scored half of his career-high 16 points in the third quarter while Sean O’Brien and Jake Erlich each added 10 points in the win. Stoughton junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell scored a team-high 11 points for the Black Knights.
Attleboro, 39 @ Canton, 53 – Final – Freshman Kiara Cerruti scored 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and had five assists on her varsity debut and classmate Fay Gallery had 16 points on four three-pointers in her first varsity action to lead the Bulldogs to a season opening win.
Mansfield, 50 @ Foxboro, 59 – Final – Katelyn Mollica led the way for the Warriors with 21 points, including four three-pointers and 9-of-10 shooting at the free throw line. Yara Fawaz and Abby Hassman each scored eight points and Chelsea Gibbons pulled down 12 rebounds in the win. Maggie Danehy scored 11 points and Mady Bendanillo had 10 for the Hornets in the loss.
Franklin, 61 @ Milford, 20 – Final – Franklin jumped out in front early, leading 41-12 at halftime, and never looked back in both teams’ season opener. Ali Brigham scored 29 for the Panthers, who also got 10 points from Bea Bondhus and eight points from freshman Olivia Quinn in her varsity debut. Jillian Michelson scored seven points and Emma Lawrence had six for the Hawks.
King Philip, 49 @ Sharon, 39 – Final – Shannon O’Connor scored 15 points for the Warriors in the season opener, despite sitting for a portion of the second half. Faith Roy added 13 points in the win and KP coach Amy Siggens praised Emma Glaser for her effort on the glass (nine rebounds) and on the defensive end.
North Attleboro, 41 @ Taunton, 44 – Final – Taunton got balanced scoring to earn the win in the leaguer opener for both teams. Lily Patneaude scored 13 points and grabbed six boards for the Tigers, while Kelsey White added 12 points and snatched eight steals. Sonya Fernandez had nine points and 10 boards, Jaelyn Fernandez had three points and 15 boards, and Alex White had seven points and five assists for Taunton. Julia Feid was the top scorer for the Rocketeers with 19 points.
Sharon, 58 @ Attleboro, 96 – Final – Attleboro’s Colton Parkinson qualified for states in both the 200 and 500 freestyle as the Bombardiers opened the season with a win. Attleboro’s 200 medley relay qualified for sectionals as well.
Foxboro, 69 @ Norton, 68 – Final –
Sharon, 80 @ Attleboro, 89 – Final – Attleboro’s Liz Salts qualified for states in a pair of events to help the Bombarders open the season with a victory. Salts qualified for states in both the 100 free and 200 free while Jackie Lynch-Bartek qualified for sectionals in the 100 breaststroke. The Bombardiers’ 200 free relay also qualified for states.
CANTON, Mass. – For three and a half quarters, the Canton defense was having its way against the Stoughton offense.
The Bulldogs forced the Black Knights to punt on each of their first seven drives, holding the visitors to negative yards on three of those drives. Stoughton had just one first down early on in the fourth quarter.
But with just under six minutes to go, Stoughton’s offense finally clicked. The Knights cut a 14-point deficit in half with 5:34 to go, and got the ball back down just one score with 1:56 to play.
A big pass play set the Black Knights up in striking distance, but the Bulldogs defense, as it had for the majority of the game, came up with a stop with under 30 seconds to play.
On fourth down, Canton junior Robbie Gallery tracked down Stoughton quarterback John Burke for a sack, preserving a 14-7 win for the Bulldogs.
“I didn’t feel comfortable until Robbie made that play at the end,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “It reminded me of that 2014 game when [Stoughton] drove down the field and won it at the end. Robbie made the play, and he played great. This year, it seems like another kid steps up each game and it was Robbie’s week.”
Canton’s defense did a nice job bottling up Stoughton’s rushing attack. The furthest the Black Knights for prior to its final two drives was 10 yards over midfield — its lone time into Canton territory through three quarters.
A sack from Owen Lehane on first down forced Stoughton starting quarterback George Currier to the sideline. Burke, a sophomore, took over under center and the Knights had one of their biggest plays of the night — a 22-yard reverse from Ajahn Rue — to spark the offense.
After Rue’s run, sophomore Christopher Ais took a sweep and went for 19 yards to get into the red zone. After Canton’s defense stuffed a rush attempt, Burke floated one to the near pylon on the right side and senior Alex Iverson did a nice job fighting through contact and getting a foot down to get the Knights on the board, down 14-7.
Canton’s offense did its best to run time off the block with quarterback Johnny Hagan (5/9, 44 yards; 21 carries 121 yards) converting a third down with his legs. But a sack on the next play from Stoughton’s Jerry Brisson put the Dogs in a long distance scenario. Canton gained eight yards on the next to plays but had to punt with two minutes to go.
Stoughton’s final drive got off to a rocky start when Canton senior Ben Seaman (two sacks) came on a blitz from the blind side, taking Burke down for a loss of 7 yards.
But the Black Knights made things interesting on the next play as Burke lofted one down the left sideline and Rue used his speed to get under it for a 45-yard catch, down to the Canton 30-yard line with 1:09 to play.
But that’s when Canton’s defense came through again. A pass and catch from Burke to Ais was stopped at the line of scrimmage on first down, Burke was forced to throw it away on second down, and a pass over the middle was short on third down.
On fourth down, Burke was able to buy some time by getting out of the pocket but Gallery came flying in to make the tackle.
It was an impressive showing for the Bulldogs defense, which allowed a total of 122 yards while holding the Knights to 0-for-8 on third down. And they did almost all of it without junior linebacker James Murphy, who Bohane called the quarterback of the defense.
“Defense was the story for us,” Bohane said. “Murphy is our linchpin on defense so for our kids to play the bulk of the game without him, they were impressive. All the other key guys really stepped up like Brian Campagna, Brendan Albert, Ben Seaman, and of course Robbie Gallery, who kind of filled into Murphy’s shoes. I’m proud of them to keep plugging away, they are a resilient group.”
Stoughton’s defense also had a strong showing, forcing the Bulldogs to punt on six times and holding off another drive as the first half came to a close.
However, Canton’s offense was able to find the end zone twice — both on eight play, 65-yard drives.
After punting on its first drives, the Dogs moved the sticks when Hagan connected with Jace Emma for 11 yards. Hagan followed that with a 20-yard scramble on a broken play, and Gersom Rivera had runs of 10 and 23-yards, the latter converting a third down and getting the Dogs down to the 1-yard line.
Hagan took it in from there, following his line in for a 1-yard sneak and a 7-0 lead with 7:23 left in the first quarter.
Stoughton’s best drive of the opening half went for 41 yards, all on a run from Iverson. But an incomplete pass and two runs that netted no yards stopped the Black Knights from advancing.
Canton’s defense picked up where it left off, forcing Stoughton backward on its opening drive of the second half. After a three-and-out, Canton took over at its own 35-yard line and orchestrated what turned out to be the winning drive.
Hagan moved the sticks with a run of his own, connected with Ryan Lentol on second down, got a first down on a Stoughton penalty, and then finished the drive with three straight runs from different players: Rivera for 8, Hagan for 12, and Kyle Fitzgerald with a 9-yard touchdown run.
“We’ve been able to shift gears on offense,” Bohane said. “Some teams have been able to take away something we’ve been doing, and no one is better at that than [Stoughton] Coach [Greg] Burke. He’s going to take away what you do well. It was a game of just constantly finding a way.”
Canton football (5-0 overall, 3-0 Hockomock) is back in action on Friday when it hosts Sharon. Stoughton (2-3, 1-2) hits the road to take on North Attleboro at Beaupre Field.
FOXBORO, Mass. – After losing on a last second field goal and twice in overtime over the last three years, Canton was finally able to end its nearly three-decade-long jinx against Davenport division rival Foxboro and the Bulldogs did it in dominating fashion.
Junior quarterback Johnny Hagan accounted for 285 yards of offense and three touchdowns and Canton pulled away with a pair of fourth quarter scores to record a 43-20 victory over the Warriors on Friday night at Jack Martinelli Field. It was Canton’s first win against Foxboro since 1990 and ended a 25-game losing streak in the series.
Canton also improved to 4-0 on the season, despite not yet having play a home game this fall.
Hagan was a menace throughout the game, tossing a pair of touchdown passes in the first half and rushing for 175 yards on 15 carries. Martinelli admitted that his defense had no answer for Canton’s signal caller.
“We had no answers for stopping No. 5 (Hagan) either on the ground or through the air,” Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli said. “We couldn’t stop him. He’s a good player.”
“He’s just a special player,” added Canton coach Dave Bohane about Hagan. “Sometimes he’s so amped up that he calls the wrong formation and then he throws a touchdown. His receiver was on the wrong side of the formation, I’m thinking about calling timeout, instead he runs around a little, throws it, and it’s a touchdown.”
“I thought we had an advantage on the perimeter and some of the skill spots, but I think their line, a lot of them, were back from last year,” Bohane remarked. “I thought maybe getting outside and getting away from those guys, but our line played well. They’ve really worked hard.”
The Bulldogs jumped in front on their first possession. On third and eight, Hagan looked deep down the sideline to Jace Emma. The junior wideout leapt above the Foxboro defensive back and ripped the ball away. He then turned and sped upfield for a 75-yard touchdown that gave the visitors early momentum.
Foxboro answered right back just four plays later. Mike Luong (12 carries, 70 yards) broke a 30-yard run, bouncing out to the right and getting into space on the sideline. Two plays later, Liam Foley looked for Rob Fay in the front corner of the end zone and the senior pulled in a one-hand catch to tie the game.
This time it was Canton that responded. Hagan somehow got to the edge on another third and eight and raced 50 yards up the Foxboro sideline before being brought down at the Warriors 18. After another 12-yard Hagan keeper, Rivera punched it in from six yards out.
David Allen picked off a Foley pass to end Foxboro’s next drive and then returned it 40 yards down to the Warriors 33. Fitzgerald needed only one carry to get the Bulldogs a two-score lead, taking a pitch to the left and finding a seam to the end zone.
It looked like the game may get out of hand, but a special teams mistake by Canton, attempting to field a bouncing punt inside its own 20 only to fumble and have Zachary Jenkins recover, led to Foxboro having a short field. Keyshawn Sanders bullied his way through a bevy of tacklers for a 10-yard score that cut the lead to 21-14.
Canton had one last chance with the ball before halftime. After an intentional grounding call, the Bulldogs faced third and 18 from the Foxboro 36. Emma ran a go-route down the near sideline and Hagan dropped a perfect pass to him in stride for a score with only 36 seconds left until halftime.
Leading 27-14, the Bulldogs came out of the half with an impressive 15-play drive that ate up more than nine minutes off the clock. The Foxboro defense stiffened inside the red zone, but Owen Lehane booted a 27-yard field goal to make it 30-14.
The Warriors didn’t quit and answered with a 75-yard drive. Foley rolled out and threw a dart to Brian Derbafor 27 yards and then a couple plays later ran a perfectly-executed backside screen to Luong for another 24 yards down to the Canton eight. On third and goal, another screen to Luong turned into a touchdown, but the two-point conversion pass was batted down by Allen to keep the lead at two scores with 9:09 remaining.
“When we had to make big plays, we couldn’t, which has kind of been our M.O. all year,” Martinelli explained. “We hung in there, made it a game on the scoreboard…but they were in charge from start to finish.”
After the Bulldogs went three and out, the Canton defense made the play that essentially ended any hopes of a Foxboro comeback. Brendan Albert crushed Foley as he was throwing and Robbie Gallery was on hand to secure the interception. He returned the ball to the one-yard-line where Hagan was able to get six points with a sneak.
“At that moment, offensively, we were sputtering a little bit,” said Bohane. “Robbie Gallery’s pick was when we breathed and thought okay we’re going to beat these guys.” About Albert, Bohane added, “He’s one of the top defensive players in the league and the best thing is he’s playing like it every single week.”
Fitzgerald added a nine-yard touchdown inside the closing two minutes to make the score even more comfortable for the Bulldogs.
Martinelli admitted, “I think they wanted it maybe a little more than we did. We hung in there, but not enough. We couldn’t make enough good plays and they made all of them.”
Canton (4-0, 2-0) will finally head home next week when rival Stoughton pays a visit to WWII Veterans Memorial Field. Foxboro (1-3, 1-1) will try to bounce back at home against two-time defending division champ North Attleboro.
Outlook: After playing plenty of sophomores last season, the Bulldogs will be looking to boast a balanced, experienced team aiming to compete for the Davenport division title in 2018.
Canton brings back six starters on offense and seven starters back on the defensive side of the ball. The Dogs are one of the few teams with their starting quarterback returning as junior Johnny Hagan continues under center after a solid sophomore season. He showed the ability to pass and run with the ball, and he has almost all of his running back options back to work with. Gersom Rivera had a terrific sophomore year and will be counted on to be a big piece of the offense during 2018. Rivera’s athleticism and speed will be complemented by the hard nose running and blocking of junior Kyle Fitzgerald and senior Brendan Albert.
Junior Jack Connolly will anchor the offensive line and will be joined by senior Brian Campagna and junior Lucas Bryant at the center position. Ryan Lentol, who came on strong at the end of last year, picked up right where he left off and will be a top option at split end.
The strength of Canton’s defense is its linebacker group, which is full of experience and talent. Albert is back at one of the outside spots after earning Hock All Star last year while senior Ben Seaman is back on the other side. Junior James Murphy will fill in the middle after impressing last season and junior Robbie Gallery has impressed early on as the other inside option. Canton will also rely on a seasoned secondary with Fitzgerald and David Allen returning as starters. Ryan Colby should see time in the secondary and Owen Lehane is in the mix for the defensive line.
“We’re very excited for the season,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “The kids have put the work in, we think we can play with anyone in the league but its a very good league so you have to be on your ‘A’ game every night. Every team is well coached and competitive so any time you can win in the Hock, its a success. We have to take it game by game, do the best we can, and keep plugging.
Outlook: The Warriors are aiming to make it two straight years in the postseason and will use a mix of returning players and new faces to try and get it done.
Foxboro graduated 35 seniors last year so there are some spots that need to be filled, but the Warriors are off to a good start with Liam Foley back in the fold at quarterback. The senior saw time under center last season along with Devin Hassett. And Foley will be in good shape as the Warriors have a lot of experience on the offensive line. Senior Tom Cullen is back in the middle of the line as the center, senior Andrew Longa and sophomore Sean Ferguson take on the tackle positions, and senior Hunter Williams and junior Aidan Dow will fill out the interior of the line.
Mike Luong got touches as a junior out of the backfield last season and will be a main part of the offense this season. Pat Stapleton is a returning split end, classmate Rob Fay will step into the same role, and junior Shayne Kerrigan will a top target for Foley.
The Warriors have experience and good size up front on defense, led by returning starting tackles Shawn Teixeira (6’4, 260) and Bill McNeil (6’0, 265). Senior William Ogbebor and Anton George will be called upon to fill out the defensive line on the ends while Williams and Martin McElroy will be joined by Mike Sheehan at linebacker. Russell Neale is back as the place kicker after a strong junior season.
Outlook: After reaching the quarterfinals last season, the 2018 version of the Scarlet Hawks are aiming for a deeper run into the postseason. And not just that, the Hawks are looking to be serious contenders for the Davenport crown.
Milford has a strong core of returning players back, a group of eager new faces looking to make an impression, and big new piece on the line. Kevin Pyne (6’8, 280) transferred to his hometown high school and will anchor what looks to be a big, physical line. Pyne is rated as the top recruit for his class and holds D1 offers from over a dozen schools including Notre Dame and Michigan. Senior Josh Ligor returns as a starter on the line while sophomore Nick Yohn will also be a two-way lineman.
The Hawks bring back both their quarterbacks: senior Ryan Pearl handled the team’s ‘WAR’ package while junior Colby Pires stepped in when Milford spread it out. Junior Luke Rosa will step in as an option at halfback along with sophomore Dominic Schofield. Brendan White (WR/S) brings toughness to both sides of the ball for the Hawks.
Shapel Feaster is one of the most experienced defensive backs in the Hockomock League and should be an important piece of the 2018 Hawks’ defense. Junior CJ Cerella will step in to anchor the linebacking group. On special teams, Sean Lehane is one of the strongest kickers in the area and will try to give Milford a spark at wide receiver this season.
“The goal of the 2018 football season for the Milford Scarlet Hawks is simple: start fast, play physical, and be the toughest team on the field on Friday nights,” said Milford head coach Anthony Vizakis.
Outlook: The target on North Attleboro’s back continues to grow. Coming off their third straight league title, including two straight Davenport titles, the Rocketeers made it all the way to the D3 State Final before falling, 35-33, to St. John’s Shrewsbury.
Big Red is hopeful it can continue its string of success but knows it will be tested with a difficult schedule, including a non-league game with two-time defending state champion King Philip. The biggest challenge will be finding a replacement for three-year starter Chad Peterson, who graduated with a handful of program records and three Hock titles as the starter. Seniors Nick Raneri and Luke LaBonte are both in the mix, and both saw time last year throughout the season. Raneri started all 13 games at tailback but also filled in at QB at times.
Whoever ends up getting the nod at quarterback will have one of the best offensive linemen in the entire state with senior Ryan Clemente anchoring the protection unit. Clemente is joined by senior Jack Puccio as returning starters on the line while seniors Joe Larkin and John Nally, and juniors John Kummer, Ethan Friberg, Trevor Hewitt, Montrel Jackson, and Ethan Mottinger are all competing for time. The Rocketeers also have solid skill options back with senior Brendan McHugh (14 total touchdowns) back at the starting slot back. Omar Jasseh offers size and speed at split end while Ryan Gaumond’s quickness gives the Rocketeers another option down field.
North Attleboro returns six starters on the defensive end, including McHugh, Gaumond, and Jasseh in the secondary. Clemente will be a big piece of the defensive line while Raneri and captain Jonathan James, who will also see time at tight end, will lead the linebacker unit. Russell Dunlap, Puccio, Mike Carty, Friberg and Jackson are all in the mix for defensive end spots while Ryan Boyle, Tom O’Neill, Duane Bryant, and Owen Harding are competing for time at linebacker.
“We expect a very challenging schedule, opening with KP on our new turf field and then an improved Bishop Feehan team in Week 2,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “The Davenport division will be extremely competitive this year, with several teams able to beat anyone on any given night. We have a nice core, but if we are going to compete at a championship level, then we are going to need several new faces to mature very quickly. There’s a lot of work still to be done, and not a lot of time to do it.”
Outlook: For the first time in Sharon, there will be football on Friday nights.
With the installation of lights at the high school field, the Eagles will be hosting teams on Friday nights instead of Saturday afternoons. And the 2018 Eagles are hoping to put a show under those lights. Sharon brings back a handful of key returning starters on both sides of the ball, and with one more year experience under their belts, will be looking to compete in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive seasons top to bottom in the Davenport.
Sharon averaged nearly 20 points per game in its six non-league games last year and is hoping to carry that over into Davenport play this season. Senior quarterback Jeremy Ruskin (six total touchdowns) is back under center to lead the offense and last year’s starting running back Aaron Strong (three touchdowns) also returns to give the Eagles a solid 1-2 punch on offense right away. Coleman Loftus’ size and strength will be a vital part of the line on both sides of the ball while Chris Gong and Alec Filipkowski return as Ruskin’s main two targets.
Not only goes Gong give Sharon options on offense because of his speed, he is one of the most dangerous kick returners in the state. He had an 80-yard punt return touchdown and a 99-yard kickoff return last season so opposing special team units will have to pay a lot of attention.
Despite the numbers, the Eagles had a strong defense last season. This season, Sharon boasts a lot of speed (on both sides of the ball) and is looking to use that to be more aggressive. Juniors Kiran Chandrasekaran will step in to be a big part of the secondary while classmate Nic Marrero will be relied on to anchor the linebackers.
“With a lot of returning starters and a sprinkle of new talent, I am expecting this team to take a huge step forward from last year’s inexperienced team,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Outlook: It feels like a fresh start for the Black Knights after graduating a bunch of players that had multiple seasons of experience under their belts.
But the focus remains the same for the Black Knights, who are aiming to be in contention for the Davenport title and make another appearance in the state tournament. Similar to previous seasons, Stoughton will have talent in the backfield and that will be the focal point of the offense. Jeff Grier is one of the fastest players in the league and will make defenses pay when there is space. Alex Iverson is a shifty option out of the backfield, Malachi Green-Hightower brings power to the run game, and sophomore Chris Ais could emerge as a playmaker for the Black Knights.
Junior George Currier and sophomore John Burke will battle it out for the starting quarterback position while Matt Piana, Ali Awad, and Evan Jackman have solidified spots on the offensive line. Frank Derbes will factor into the offense as a tight end and junior Ajahn Rue is back as a receiver.
Defensively, Iverson and Green-Hightower will be right in the heart of the lineup as linebackers while Grier will help as a member of the secondary. Cian Swierzewski has impressed throughout the offseason and the preseason and will be a key piece of the defense from the safety spot. Stoughton is looking for other names to step up and help anchor its hard nose defense.