WRENTHAM, Mass. – With four of the last five meetings between King Philip and Mansfield football being decided by three or less points, it’s no surprise the teams were locked in another tight battle on Friday night.
And in games so tightly contested, it’s often a small play here or there that can make the biggest difference.
Mansfield senior Nick Marciano blocked an extra point attempt and later converted a two-point conversion rush to help the Hornets secure a 15-13 win on Macktaz Field over the host Warriors.
“It’s a great win, but its Mansfield-KP, it’s gotta go to the wire,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “Both teams are going to find a way to get points and it’s always great defensively. It’s business as usual between these two.
“They really battled, this is just such a great rivalry, there’s so much pride on both sides.”
The Hornets held a 15-6 advantage and took over on offense after Mahki Baskin hauled in an interception in the end zone with just 5:30 left. But Mansfield was unable to kill much of the clock, and in true fashion this rivalry, King Philip made a game of it.
Just two minutes after turning it over, the Warriors were in the end zone. Senior quarterback Robert Jarest (14/26, 194 yards) orchestrated a four-play, 64-yard drive that took little time off the clock. Jarest hit Alex Behling for a 16-yard touchdown, and suddenly the Warriors were down just 15-13 with 3:18 to go after Dylan Conti‘s extra point.
But KP’s onside kick attempt failed to travel 10 yards, and the Hornets took over in Warrior territory. Senior Vinnie Holmes (13 carries, 106 yards) did the rest, sealing the deal with a 23-yard first down rush that allowed Mansfield to kill the rest of the clock.
“It was circled on our calendar from the beginning of the season,” Holmes said. “We knew this was going to be our biggest game so far that counts. La Salle didn’t really count. This one counts for us and it was great to get this win.
“We always know that they can always inch back. They did it last year versus us, almost got that two-point conversion to win. We knew they could do it. We knew we had to put the pedal to the metal. Stop them. Get that first down at the end that was big and then eventually run out the clock.”
Mansfield got off to a perfect start, needing just four plays to cover 52 yards in 2:22 to take the lead. After three run plays, the Hornets went play action and senior quarterback Jack Moussette (6/10, 72 yards) found Danny Rapoza open down the right sideline. Michael DeBolt split the uprights for the extra point to make it 7-0.
That would be all of the scoring in the opening half. King Philip’s first drive went for 12 plays but only 35 yards, stalling around midfield. The Warriors’ two other possessions were three-and-outs with a total of four yards.
Mansfield had solid field position throughout but couldn’t solve the KP defense. The Hornets had to punt on their second and third drives of the game and failed to convert a fourth down as time expired in the first half.
King Philip lost star running back and linebacker Ryan Halliday (eight carries, 25 yards) to an injury early in the second quarter but the Warriors’ offense was able to overcome, putting together its best series out of the break. The Warriors marched 80 yards on 14 plays, converting four third downs on the drive. Jarest hit Brian Wassersug for 24 yards on one third down to move into Hornet territory, and two plays later, the senior quarterback connected with Drew Danson for 38 yards to get down to the one-yard line.
It took four tries from there, but sophomore Crawford Cantave was able to punch it across to get the Warriors on the board.
But Marciano came up with one of the biggest plays of the game, flying across to get just enough on the ball to block it and keep it low.
Mansfield failed to convert on fourth down on back-to-back possessions but the Hornet defense held the Warriors to a combined -11 yards on its next two series. DeBolt and TJ Guy (sack) had key stops to help Mansfield get the ball back.
This time the Hornets did cash in on the good field position. After converting a first down, Cincere Gill took the handoff to the left before cutting back to the right, getting around the defense and sprinting his way to a 20-yard touchdown.
After an injury timeout, the Warriors were whistled for too many men on the conversion attempt. Mansfield pulled its kicking unit off the field, and after a timeout, went with the wildcat offense. Marciano took the snap himself, ran forward and jumped over the pile and into the end zone to make it 15-6 with 7:18 left.
“We thought about it from the three [yard line] but they are so good defensively,” Redding said. “When they got the penalty, we felt we had to go for it then from the one-yard line. That was obviously big because it became a two-score game, that makes a big difference.
Andrew McKinney (five catches, 55 yards) grabbed a 19-yard catch, and Wassersug made a terrific catch on the ensuing drive, hauling in a 36-yard completion to set the Warriors up in the red zone before Baskin came away with an interception in the end zone.
“We’ve been more impressed with Robert with what he’s been able to do,” said KP coach Brian Lee. “He’s a senior, he’s been around. He brought us down there at the end.”
“I’ll tell ya, Jarest was unbelievable in the second half,” Redding said. “They lose Halliday and they just found a way to make completions, he can run and throw. They did a great job of getting the offense going without one for the best running backs in the state in the lineup. They made a game of it, their defense played tough.
“We blew some opportunities to extend the lead, and this is what [KP] does, they hang around and manufacture a drive. All of a sudden you’re an onside kick away from them having the ball again with the chance to win.”
This was Mansfield’s second win in the rivalry since 2013, earning their second straight regular season contest. The two teams have also played in the playoffs in two straight seasons.
“Our defense really battled in there,” Lee said. “Ryan is as good of a player and means just as much on defense as he does on offense. So everyone was stepping up for us. The overall takeaway…we made a ton of mistakes, a lot of new guys out there but we hung in there and battled as hard as we could. I think going forward if we can play well, and we’re fortunate enough to see them again, we know we’re not out-classed by them.”
Both teams are likely to make the playoffs again this year and could be on a collision course for a third straight postseason meeting.
“It’s great football, great defense, and I’m sure part two is coming in November,” Redding said.
“We have the utmost respect for KP, they are a great football team,” Holmes said. “They produce great players like Halliday, and we’ll probably see them again.”
Mansfield football (2-0 Hockomock, 3-1 overall) is on the road again next week at Pisani Field to visit Franklin for another key division showdown. King Philip (1-1, 3-1) will host Attleboro on Friday.
King Philip, 26 @ Franklin, 14 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery of this game. 1st Quarter: (KP) Robbie Jarest 25-yard pass to Brian Wassersug, Dylan Conti XP good; (F) Thomas Gasbarro 53-yard pass to Cole Lakatos, Parker Cheuvront XP good.
2nd Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 1-yard rush, D. Conti XP good; (KP) R. Jarest 11-yard pass to Andrew McKinney, XP blocked.
3rd Quarter: (F) Mack Gulla 1-yard rush, P. Cheuvront XP good.
4th Quarter: (KP) R. Halliday 11-yard rush, 2pt pass failed.
Taunton, 6 @ Mansfield, 31 – Final 1st Quarter: (M) Michael DeBolt 3-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; (M) Nick Marciano 58-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; M. DeBolt 9-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) M. DeBolt 35-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (M) Nico Holmes 7-yard rush; M. DeBolt XP good; (T) Josh Lopes 1-yard rush, XP no good.
Milford, 41 @ Sharon, 7 – Final
Foxboro, 1 @ Attleboro, 7 – Final – Attleboro erupted for three goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half, and added on three more in the second half to earn a big win. The Bombardiers and Warriors were knotted at 1-1 entering the final 10 before Attleboro scored in quick succession. Michael Russo scored four goals in the win.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Franklin, 0 – Final
Stoughton, 0 @ King Philip, 6 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game – Six different Warriors found the back of the net as KP picked up two points at home on Friday afternoon. Ajae Olsen opened the scoring in the 18th minute, finishing off a shot from distance into the bottom corner. Owen Teixeira and Evan McEvoy added first half strikes for KP, who led 3-0 at half. Colin Wesley (penalty kick), Connor O’Neill, and Caleb Casseta-Waxman each scored in the second half.
Milford, 4 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Milford scored twice in each half to earn two points on the road over the Tigers. Jordan Borges banged in a shot from distance off the bottom of the crossbar to make it 1-0 in 27th minute, and Dan Santos put the Hawks ahead 2-0 just five minutes later off an assist from Pedro Araujo. Araujo converted a penalty kick in the second half to make it 3-0, and Joao Pedro Da Silva capped the scoring for Milford off an assist from freshman Gabriel Godoy. Leo Oliveira and Kevin Gomes combined for the shutout in net while Carlos Terrinha and Leo Coelho had strong games defensively for Milford.
Attleboro, 0 @ Foxboro, 8 – Final
Mansfield, 1 @ Canton, 2 – Final – Canton scored a pair of goals in a three-minute span in the second half to earn a win at home over Mansfield. Freshman Emily McCabe knotted the score before junior Olivia Rodman bagged the game-winning goal to give the Bulldogs two points.
Franklin, 2 @ North Attleboro, 0 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. The Panthers scored twice on first half set pieces to secure the victory. Sabrina Addi’s long free kick was flicked on from the edge of the box by Erin Quaile midway through the half, catching the keeper off her line for the opening goal. Addi scored the second on a corner kick that bounced around in the North box. She finally latched onto the loose ball and lifted it into the back of the net. Lydia Hershey, Colette Petit, and Taylor Ward played well defensively for the Rocketeers, while Alex Moulson played a solid all-around game in midfield.
King Philip, 5 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – King Philip scored four goals in the final 25 minutes of the game, turning a one-goal game into a big win on the road, earning head coach Gary Pichel the 200th victory of his career. Ally Stanton put KP ahead in the 27th minute on an assist from Chloe Layne, and the duo linked up again in the 57th minute to make it 2-0. Layne added a goal of her own seven minutes later (assist by Ava Tormey), Makayla Griffin blasted a shot from 30 yards out with six minutes left, and Maeve Lawlor (from Brianna Quirke) made it 5-0 in the 75th minute. Taylor Butler recorded her seventh shutout of the season.
Taunton, 0 @ Milford, 3 – Final – Milford freshman Dani Atherton factored into all three goals as the Hawks defended home field with a win over visiting Taunton. Atherton scored a pair of goals and assisted on the other, setting up Jillian Michelson for a goal.
Franklin @ Walpole – Postponed to Saturday 9/28 at 10:00.
King Philip, 1 vs. Algonquin, 2 – Final – The Warriors pushed the unbeaten T’Hawks to the limit, the visitors scoring the game-winning goal with just 64 seconds left to steal two points from KP. Makenzie Manning shined in net with 23 saves for KP, who earned a penalty corner with no time left and registered two shots on could before Algonquin (8-0-1) got the clear to end the game. Senior Sammy Robison, junior Grace Crocker, and senior Char Colella all played well for KP.
King Philip, 3 vs. Walpole, 0 – Final – King Philip defended home court with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-20) sweep over the visiting Rebels of Walpole High. The Warriors’ dynamic duo of Nicole Coughlan (13 kills, one ace) and Catherine Waldeck (11 kills, two blocks) continued to shine while Emma Brooks added four aces and three digs in the win.
Mansfield, 2 vs. Brockton, 3 – Final – Mansfield jumped out to a 2-0 lead but Brockton rallied to win three straight as the Hornets dropped a 2-3 (25-16, 25-19, 23-25, 16-25, 10-15) decision at home. It was the third time in the week that Mansfield played five sets. Sam Sternburg shined defensively with 19 digs while Steph Walker had nine assists and 10 service points.
Milford @ Hopedale, 5:00
Attleboro, 162 @ North Attleboro, 153 – Final – North Attleboro’s Jillian Barend sank a birdie on the sixth hole and finished with a medalist round of one-over 36 at the middle course of Heather Hill to lead the Rocketeers past rival Attleboro. Jake Gaskin was right behind Barend with a 37 while Sam Gallagher (39) and Brett Dusel (41) also scored for North. Brendan Raymond had a team-low 37 for Attleboro, Brian Houle added a 39, Jack Handy finished with a 42, and Ben Wood chipped in with a 44.
Game of the Week – Football
North Attleboro, 7 @ King Philip, 25 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (NA) Tyler DeMattio 9-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.
2nd Quarter: (KP) Robbie Jarest 54-yard pass to Alex Behling, XP no good.
3rd Quarter: (KP) R. Jarest 20-yard pass to A. Behling, Conversion no good.
4th Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 3-yard rush, Conversion no good; (KP) R. Halliday 27-yard rush, Dylan Conti XP good.
Canton, 28 vs. Dighton-Rehoboth, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 7 yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good; (C) Johnny Hagan 37 yard pass to David Allen, O. Lehane XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (C) K. Fitzgerald 20 yard rush, O. Lehane XP good.
4th Quarter: (C) Gersom Rivera 4 yard rush, O. Lehane XP good; (DR) Jared Ramos 1 yard rush, Adam Peirera XP good.
Mansfield, 31 vs. BC High, 10 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (M) Cincere Gill 29 yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good; (BCH) Cormac Kennelly 25 yard field goal good.
2nd Quarter: (M) M. DeBolt 26 yard field goal good.
3rd Quarter: (M) C. Gill 64 yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) Jack Moussette 48 yard pass to M. DeBolt, M. DeBolt XP good; (BCH) Bobby Wiesenhahn 34 yard pass to Louis Timmins, C. Kennelly XP good; (M) M. DeBolt 79 yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
Sharon, 14 vs. Nauset, 33 – Final
Taunton, 13 vs. New Bedford, 24 – Final
Mansfield, 0 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – Foxboro senior Dylan Barreira converted a penalty kick in the first half for the goal of the game.
Taunton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – North Attleboro’s James Sales scored on a penalty kick in the 5th minute to give the Rocketeers two points in their season opener. Taunton’s Colton Madeira, Riley Rebello, and Shane Froio played well defensively in front of Nolan Melo (seven saves).
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Junior Colin Milliken picked up where he left off last season, scoring twice and adding one assist to lead the Tigers to a win on the road. Senior Nick Farley netted his first career goal and assist in the win for the Tigers, who also got goals from Jimmy Keane and freshman Hector Bucio. Ben Cohen and Dillon Cupples each had assists.
Canton, 2 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – Briley Harnois scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner with nine minutes left to play, helping Attleboro start the season with a victory. Kat Dennehy scored the first goal for the Bombardiers. Ashley Macia played well in goal, according to head coach Steve Santos, who called the win a “great team effort.”
Foxboro, 2 @ Mansfield, 0 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Jordyn Collins scored a second half brace to lift the Warriors to a win in the battle of last season’s league champions. Foxboro dominated the ball throughout the game, holding the Hornets without a shot on goal. Collins hit the post in the first half, but opened the scoring 12 minutes after the break when she was played through by sophomore Jordan Carman. In the final minutes, Collins wrapped up the points when Lizzy Davis hit a free kick from inside her own half that was allowed to bounce just outside the Mansfield penalty area. Collins outran two defenders and slipped a shot inside the post.
Milford, 1 @ Franklin, 2 – Final – Despite Milford controlling large portions of the game and pressured the Panthers, goals by Sydney St. Marie and Stella Regan (assisted by Carly Alston) lifted the hosts to a win in the season opener.
Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 9 – Final
North Attleboro, 4 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Alex Moulson scored twice and assisted on the other two goals to lead the Rocketeers to a division win. Moulson opened the scoring in the 12th minute on a free kick and then she doubled the lead on an assist by Ari Rice. Abi Slaney scored a second half goal off a Moulson corner and the Olivia Wills followed suit minutes later. Regan Fein held a clean sheet for 70 minutes and Caitlin Echeverri finished the final 10 minutes. North coach Bill Wallace said that Lily Cameron, Steph McKenna, and Alex Hardy were strong in North’s transition game and Lydia Hershey and Collette Petit were strong in the back line.
Stoughton, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 6 – Final – Stoughton scored first but Oliver Ames knotted the score before halftime and scored six straight to get the win. Freshman Jenna Gilman scored four goals for the Tigers while Erin Holmberg (assist) scored twice. Allison Evin, Katie Gibson, Catie Wilson, and Cam O’Connor each had an assist for OA. Stoughton freshman Shayla Ford put the Black Knights ahead before OA cashed in with a flurry of goals before half. Freshman Emma Tremblay had a strong game defensively for Stoughton, Mackenzie Manning was strong in center mid, and senior Briana Buckley played well in net.
Canton, 1 @ Norwood, 2 – Final
North Attleboro, 171 @ Foxboro, 169 – Final – Foxboro’s Dylan Quinn carded six pars, finishing with a team-low round of 41 to lead the Warriors to a close win over North. Matt Fosella (four pars) added a 42 while Noah Hicks (two pars) and Matt Lathrop (three pars) both shot 43. North Attleboro’s Jillian Barend was the match medalist, shooting a low round of 40.
Attleboro got off to a strong start to the 2018 season, jumping out to a 4-1 record with its only loss coming against eventual D2 South champ King Philip, and allowing only five points per game. But a last-minute loss in a shootout against Mansfield and a fourth quarter comeback by Franklin the following week sparked a six-game losing streak to close out the season. The Bombardiers come into 2019 looking to turn that around and use its experience to make a run at the Kelley-Rex title.
Offensively, the Bombardiers will be led by senior quarterback Jason Weir. At a bruising 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Weir is a punishing runner and has a big arm to make plays downfield in the passing game. Junior Justin Daniels will be the starting tailback with senior Isaac Guidel and a big offensive line trying to open holes for the running game, led by senior Qualeem Charles (6-foot-5 and 325 pounds), who has a host of colleges recruiting him. Senior Ethan Cameron will provide a weapon on the outside, while junior Michael Strachan offers another threat over the middle from his tight end position.
Charles will dominate the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball as well, but the strength of the Attleboro defense will be its experienced linebacker corps. Strachan, a three-year starter who is getting looks from some Div. I colleges, will be joined by Guidel and senior Nolan Jaeger. Weir will play strong safety, after two seasons at defensive end, and will be counted on to step in to help stop the run. Cameron will be at free safety and giving the cornerbacks help over the middle. Attleboro has a large contingent of sophomores who could step in to contribute right away, including Alvin Harrison, Chris Leonardo, Adam Pearlstein, and Freddy Wheaton.
Attleboro coach Mike Strachan said, “We are looking forward to the season getting underway and with the leadership of our four captains we are looking to be explosive on offense and very physical defensively. The Hockomock League is one of the best leagues in the state with some great teams. We will have to play our very best each week if we are going to compete at a high level.”
Franklin nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the 2018 season when the Panthers forced perennial power Xaverian to double overtime in the Div. 1 South semifinal. It was a big step forward for the program and head coach Eian Bain hopes it will be a building block for even more success in 2019.
Offensively, the graduation of quarterback Nick Gordon will be a big loss for the Panthers but senior Thomas Gasbarro saw a lot of time under center last year and he will step in and take the starting job. Gasbarro will have plenty of weapons to choose from, as the Panthers have plenty of speedy, athletic players in the skill positions. Senior Jack Nally is a threat out of the backfield or split out wide and his classmate Jake Davis is a solid receiver over the middle or downfield. Senior Matt Lazarek is a potential target from the tight end position and Owen Palmieri is another dangerous ball carrier. Junior Parker Cheuvront emerged last season as one of the top kickers in the Hock and is another weapon that the Panthers can count on if a drive does stall.
The defense is an experienced group. Senior Evan Wertz has been one of the league’s tackle leaders for the past two seasons and he is the team’s top playmaker from his linebacker position. Nally, Davis, Palmieri, and senior Ben Greco give Franklin a tough secondary to throw against and all are capable of coming up with the big turnover to get the ball back in the hands of the offense. Luke Cunningham and Dom Natale will give the Panthers strength at the line of scrimmage.
“The challenge for this group is to continue to improve and build the program,” said Bain. “They need to add their own chapter and their own stamp on the program. We have the right people in the room. We need to play with the swagger and confidence of a contender, but be humble in our preparation. If we stay true to the process, we have great potential.”
Despite not winning the league title last year, the target on King Philip’s back continues to grow.
The Warriors might have missed out on the Kelley-Rex crown, but they won their third straight sectional title and made their this straight appearance in the state final, this time falling to North Andover (6-0). While this year’s senior class knows other than Super Bowl appearances, head coach Brian Lee says this group is focused on taking it one game, starting with the opener against North Attleboro. KP has a strong core of players back on the offensive side of the ball, including quarterback Robbie Jarest and running back Ryan Halliday. Both players had really strong junior seasons and should be the leaders of the group this year. The offensive line includes returners Nolan Gunning (left tackle), Sean Piller (center), and Pat Zarba (right guard) while Wyatt Manzi, Jack Collentro, and Griffin MacKay are in the mix to fill the remaining spots. Having an experienced line bodes well for the KP run game that will heavily feature Ryan Halliday plus fullback Shawn Conniff and halfbacks Sam Callanan and Crawford Cantave.
The Warriors’ defense has been one of the best units in the state in recent years, and while the expectations remain high for the group, there will be a lot of new faces. KP graduated its entire secondary so the Warriors are turning to senior Brian Wasserug and Cantave, a sophomore, to take on starting spots. Halliday and Callanan, both captains, will handle outside linebacker duties with Mike Malatesta in the mix for the middle spot. Gunning and Manzi will also see action on the defensive line alongside Conniff. Dillon Conti takes over kicking duties for the departed Cole Baker.
“These kids know how much work, how much effort it takes to get where we want to be,” Lee said. “But it’s all about going game by game, starting this week with a team [North Attleboro] that we have a ton of respect for.”
Looking at the long list of returning players, it is no surprise that expectations around Alumni Field are sky high this fall. Mansfield enters the season with experience at just about every position and with the bitter taste of last year’s South final loss to rival King Philip still stinging. Despite a rash of injuries that forced running back Aidan Sacco to play as an emergency quarterback for most of the season, Mansfield still won a league title and this year’s team may be even more talented, which has ramped up the hype and put the target squarely on the Hornets’ backs.
The line of scrimmage will be a strength for the Hornets on the offensive side of the ball, as they return four of five starters from last year’s unit that allowed the team to rush for more than 2,600 yards. Senior Jason Comeau and reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year TJ Guy will be two key cogs in the line, while senior Noah Jellenik and junior Jake McCoy are also back. Senior Andrew Cowles will step into the fifth spot. They will seek to protect senior quarterback Jack Moussette, who had a cameo under center last year before an injury forced him to miss the bulk of the season. The skill positions will be loaded with athletes. Cincere Gill had a breakout sophomore season at running back and senior Nick Marciano is back after an injury cut short his junior season. Senior Michael DeBolt was one of the top kickers in the league but also gives Mansfield another weapon on the edges, while senior Vinnie Holmes adds a bruising presence coming out of the backfield.
Holmes is the headliner on the defensive side of the ball. Along with fellow linebackers Marciano, DeBolt, and senior Joe Plath, Holmes will be expected to make big plays all over the field. The defensive line will be strong with three returning players: senior Chris Graham, McCoy, and Guy. Junior Nico Holmes will step in as the fourth man on the line. Much like on offense, speed will be a strength and the secondary is loaded with playmakers, including Gill, junior Matt Boen, and senior Makhi Baskin.
“We have a bunch of experience all over the field, but we really have to develop depth with the second team to handle a tough schedule and challenges every week,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “This is one of the fastest group of skill guys we’ve ever had and we could be explosive on offense. We lack a little size up front on defense, but we should be able to overcome that by flying around with pursuit to the ball with our speed.”
There was no question that 2018 was a tough season for the Tigers. Oliver Ames lost by a point in the season opener to Concord-Carlisle and didn’t earn its only win until the penultimate game against Durfee. The Tigers will hope to turn things around quickly with an infusion of young talent under new head coach Ed DeWitt.
On offense, the players will be learning a new system, but there is experience in the backfield to try and implement different schemes. Senior running back Nathan Cabral figures to see plenty of the ball again this year after his breakout junior season in which he ran for more than 1,100 yards. He will be joined by senior quarterback Cam Perron and senior running back Sam Stevens to give the Tigers a strong core. Seniors Harrison Webster and Adam Cann (who is coming off an injury) will give Perron weapons to utilize on the outside.
There will be a lot of new faces on the defensive side, as DeWitt can call on three or four returning starters and will need a number of players to provide contributions on both sides of the ball. The linebacking corps was particularly hit by graduations, although senior Tyler Campbell can provide some experience and leadership in that position and Cabral brings athleticism to the role. Max Anderson and Anthony DeCosta will be important at the line of scrimmage, while Stevens will step into the secondary along with senior corner Nick Gillis and junior corner Jadon Ricci.
“The competition in camp has been great,” DeWitt said. “The players have committed to the program and bought into the day to day work that we need to do. We are focusing on making sure we treat every day as an opportunity to improve and string together some positive momentum.”
The Tigers started last season with three straight wins and then finished with three wins in their final four games to end 2018 with a winning record. Taunton enters this fall with a relatively inexperienced roster, but one that is looking to continue the momentum in the program and try to push forward so it can challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division.
One of the biggest changes for the Tigers will be under center. Noah Leonard was the starter for three seasons, but junior Danny MacDougall will take over this year. MacDougall will also see time at receiver to try and take advantage of his athleticism. He will be joined in the backfield by classmates Bretton Heggs and Josh Lopes, who both got time at running back as sophomores. Juniors Kedrick Santos and Devante McPhail will be the primary weapons at receiver. Up front, the Tigers have decent size. Senior Mike Murray will be at center, senior Hussein Kassab at one tackle, junior Marquis Dalomba at the other tackle, and junior Jordan Manning at guard.
Similar to the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers lack experience on defense and are still learning the schemes, but physical scrimmages have helped prepare them for the season. Senior Woudanly Danger is a force at the line of scrimmage and will require attention from opponents and senior Jackson Wellman has been one of the team’s top tacklers from linebacker. Junior defensive end Deandre McPhail adds to the strength of the line. Senior Curt Marshall and MacDougall will be the safeties and senior Cam Carroca will be at corner.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and trying to get better and to be competitive in the league,” said Taunton coach Brad Sidwell. “We’re definitely inexperienced, but physically we have guys who can do it and we need to coach them up so they’ll be ready to go once the season gets started.”
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Entering Monday’s showdown with King Philip, the Oliver Ames baseball team needed a win to keep its postseason hopes alive.
The Tigers had senior ace Reid Latham on the mound but the weather didn’t cooperate, forcing the cancellation of the game and the teams had to restart on Tuesday. While it would have been a wasted start for most starters, it wasn’t for Latham.
Despite pitching three innings on Monday, the senior right-hander was back on the mound on Tuesday and delivered a stellar performance. Latham held the visiting Warriors to just one hit through six scoreless innings, helping Oliver Ames pull out a 4-0 win in a must-win game.
Latham held the Warriors without a hit into the sixth inning before KP junior Chris Sawyer got a single to fall in shallow left field with two outs. But two pitches later, Latham got a ground ball and completed a strong six inning performance.
“He’s been pretty bionic for us,” said Oliver Ames head coach Joe Abarr. “He had a no-hitter going for us into the sixth inning. It was exactly what we needed. He was getting ahead of guys, he only had a couple of walks. He told me he wasn’t tired. We know these games are high stakes, we had a lot of adrenaline yesterday and then came out today and pitched even better so I have to give him a lot of credit.”
After Latham worked around a one-out walk in the top of the first, the Tigers struck for a pair of two unearned runs in the bottom half to put the home team ahead early.
With out one, junior Kyle O’Connor singled up the middle and senior Jake Erlcih followed with a single through the left side. KP starter Robbie Jarest (6IP, 3H, 0BB 2HBO, 4R, 2ER, 4K) got a ground ball that could have turned into a double play but the original throw was off the mark, allowing O’Connor to score.
Junior Jacob Levine followed up with a grounder to short, scoring Erlich from third to make it 2-0.
“That’s something, as a team, we’ve been fighting all year,” Abarr said. “We’ve been coming from behind for the most part. We have some wins to show for it but it’s nice to just jump out there and put a couple runs up early. Even yesterday, we were chasing. We put the ball in play, they made a couple of mistakes, and we were in the right spot at the right time.”
Latham retired the side in order in both the second and third innings before running into some trouble in the fourth. Tim Crowley and Sawyer drew back-to-back walks with one out, and a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners. A stolen base from Tom Weir put two in scoring position but Latham got a grounder to first for the final out.
Jarest also settled in for the Warriors, setting the Tigers down in order in the second and third innings, and canceling out the leadoff hitter that was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning.
Oliver Ames added two more runs in the fifth inning to give Latham even more breathing room. Sophomore pinch hitter Jadon Ricci was hit by a pitch to lead off and moved to second on a single from Matt McCormack. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, and Ricci came racing home and slid under the tag on a fielder’s choice up the first base line.
Oliver Ames baseball (6-9 Hockomock, 7-11 overall) can qualify for the state tournament if it wins its next three games against Dighton-Rehoboth, Foxboro, and New Bedford. Both games against Brockton this season are exclusion games. King Philip (5-9, 5-11) hosts Bishop Feehan on Tuesday.
Mansfield, 10 vs. Foxboro, 3 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Mansfield held a 2-1 lead through four innings of play but scored eight runs in the final three innings to pull away from Foxboro. The Warriors scored in the first inning as Anthony Mollica walked, advanced to second on a passed ball, took third on a ground out, and scored on an RBI triple by Joe Cavaleri. Mansfield answered back with two runs in the top of the second. Kyle Moran led off with a double and Eric Longley reached on an error. Both advanced on a wild pitch and Moran scored on a groundout from Nick Dumouchel. Longley scored on a double from Connor Smith.
In the fifth, Sam Nugent reached on an error, stole second and third, and scored on a sac fly from Dan Saraceno. Jake Gerraughty, who walked and stole second, scored on an RBI single from Moran to make it 4-1. Tim Rockett (John Carney single), Doumouchel, Chris Jenkins (3 RBI), and Nugent scored in the sixth inning while Will Giffen and Brandon Kemp came around for runs in the seventh inning.
Moran got the win for the Hornets, allowing three hits and one walk over five innings of work, striking out eight eight one earned run allowed. Foxboro sophomore Cam Prescott had a solid outing, allowing five hits and one walk in five innings of work, striking out three with five runs allowed but just one of them earned.
King Philip, 3 vs. Sharon, 2 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Sharon loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but could only push across one run as the Warriors escaped the new Taunton turf field with a win. Junior Alec Filipkowski brought in a run with a sacrifice fly but KP starter Terry Murray (CG, 5H, 1BB, 2R, 0ER, 5K) got his fifth strikeout to end the game. KP sophomore Jake Silveria singled and took third on an error and scored on a double from Zach Zarba to make it 1-0 in the second inning.
KP added two more runs in the top of the fifth. Tom Weir reached on an error, stole second and third, and scored on an RBI single from Robbie Jarest. Jarest stole second and took third on a pop up, then came home when a throw from the catcher back to the pitcher got away. Sharon got on the board in the sixth as Filipkowski got to second on a two-base error and then came in to score on an infield error on a hit by Jared Reef.
Sharon junior Max LeBlanc pitched a complete game, striking out six while allowing four hits and two walks. He allowed a total of three runs but just on earned.
North Attleboro, 4 @ Taunton, 6 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – In a back and forth contest, Taunton scored three runs in the top bottom of the fifth and added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth to get the win. North jumped out to a 2-0 lead, scoring in the first inning (Evan Melo walk, stolen base, to third on Danny MacDougall fly ball, scored on Josh Lajoie’s RBI groundout) and in the third inning (Lucas Martins walk, to second on Gavin Leahy grounder, and scored on an infield error).
North cut the deficit in half with a run int he top of the fifth (Russell Dunlap walked, took second on a wild pitch, to third on Shawn Watters sac bunt, scored on two-out single from Jake Palmer). Taunton had an immediate answer, plating three runs in the bottom of the inning. Martins walked and stole second. Leahy reached on an error and Melo hit an infield single to load the bases. Lajoie was hit by a pitch to bring a run in and Logan Lawrence drove in a pair with a single.
North Attleboro made it a one-run game with three run in the top of the sixth. Kyle Briere walked and came around to score on a single from Dennis Colleran, and Watters drove in two with a two-out single to make it 5-4. Taunton added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when pinch runner Curt Marshall (running for Colby Lariviere after a double) came home after a throw from home sailed into the outfield when Martins stole second. Lajoie got the win, striking out nine in six innings of work, scattering five hits and two walks with four runs allowed. Justin Rollo earned the save with a perfect seventh inning. Colleran (5.2 IP, 5H, 3BB, 6K, 6R, 2ER) was solid in his season debut.
Mansfield @ Holliston – Postponed to TBD.
2018 Record: 9-11 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Dunlea
After missing out on the playoffs by just one game last season, the Bombardiers are hoping to their experience will help them reach the state tournament this year.
Attleboro has experience in its pitching staff, behind the plate, and both in the infield as well the outfield. The Bombardiers pitching was a strength last season and should be again this year. Eoin Kelleher, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, returns for his senior season and will be the anchor on the staff. Junior Ryan Morry impressed during his outings last season and lefty Camden Fitzpatrick will be in the mix as well.
The Bombardiers will be very strong on the left side of the infield. Senior captain Mason Houle will man third base while junior Tim Callahan, a starter last season, takes over at shortstop. Junior Lorenzo Wilson is slated to take the job at first base while Morry and junior Nick McMahon will split time at second base. While it’s a strong group defensively, all four will be relied upon to step up offensively. Attleboro had just 80 runs total last year, least in the Kelley-Rex division.
Another big part of the offense will be center fielder Alvaro Espinal. Espinal is arguably the best fielding outfielder in the league and will also bring a spark to the Bombardiers lineup at the plate. Senior captain Robbie Furtado will fill in at left field while Sam Larkin and Troy Gamache will both see time in right as well as designated hitter. Behind the plate, Troy Van Vliet gives the Bombardiers some experience while sophomore Bailey Camacho gives first-year head coach Steve Dunlea some flexibility at the position.
“The strength of this team is its senior class leadership and team chemistry,” Dunlea said. “We really have a well-balanced team that is strong in all phases of the game. It’s going to be a fun group to watch this year.”
2018 Record: 5-15 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Ben Shuffain
A strong core of returning players along with some young talent should make for a fun season for the Bulldogs in 2019.
After losing a few key pieces from 2018, there is a good mix of experienced players and talented youth for first-year head coach Ben Shuffain to work with. The Bulldogs will look to three senior captains to the lead the way: Matt Pigeon, Paul Corcoran and Robert Sullivan. Pigeon is a three-year starter behind the plate who batted .368 last season. Corcoran and Sullivan will anchor a deep pitching staff that has looked solid in the preseason.
The pitching staff will also include seniors Kevin McGonigle, Nick Murray, and Joe Bates. Along with them Shuffain will also lean on junior Chris Rota and sophomores Nate Hewitt and Matt Connolly on the mound.
The infield has a double play duo that has shown to work well together featuring senior Mike Konzal and returning second baseman Nathan Quan. Offensively Canton will look to senior Max Macort along with juniors Owen Lahane and Lucas Bryant, and sophomore Steven Burbank.
“We have been very fortunate to have a lot of work outside so far this spring and I think it is going to help us start off on a positive,” Shuffain said. “The team is coming together and we have a great group of kids who really want to turn this program around.”
2018 Record: 5-16 2018 Finish: Reached D3 South First Round Coach: Derek Suess
Foxboro graduated 10 seniors from last year’s squad but there are 12 Warriors returning with varsity experience looking to make another trip to the state tournament.
The Warriors will be relying on their pitching staff this year to lead the way. There is a lot of optimism surrounding the rotation with senior Anthony Mollica and sophomore Sean Yoest each possessing plenty of varsity experience. Those two will be the top guys in the rotation while sophomore Cam Prescott has impressed during the preseason and could fit into the third starting spot. Seniors Guy Quartarone, Brian Duncan, and Philip Thomas as well as juniors Michael Devlin and Joe Cavaleri will be in the mix as well.
When he isn’t on the mound, Mollica will be the anchor of the defense from the shortstop position. He will be joined by sophomore Michael O’Toole at first base, Cavaleri will man third, and Thomas will take over at second base. Senior Adam Lanctot will also see time at second base this season for the Warriors.
In the outfield, Duncan — a senior captain that missed all of last season — will be the anchor, with Devlin handling center field duties and junior James Kaeser rounding out the Warrior outfield. Junior Zach Jenkins will also be in the mix for time in the outfield while junior Kyle McGinnis takes over behind the plate and will be relied upon as a key piece of Foxboro’s offense.
“Mentally, we have to have the same focus, energy, and intensity every single game,” said Foxboro coach Derek Suess. “There are no easy games in the Hockomock League. We must be consistent in our everyday approach in order to have a chance to compete for a league title.”
2018 Record: 21-5 2018 Finish: Division 1A (Super 8) State Champions Coach: Zach Brown
Coming off the program’s first-ever Super 8 state championship, Franklin is going to have a big target on its back — and the Panthers know it.
Franklin lost its top three pitchers in Jake Noviello, Bryan Woelfel, and Jason Ulrickson. Those were the only three pitchers to play during the Panthers’ Super 8 run. This season, the Panthers will turn to the experience of Ben Guzman, Brennan Rivera, and Will Pacheco. All three made appearances a year ago with Guzman and Pacheco registering wins. Guzman is currently recovering from an injury suffered in the preseason but the Panthers are excited for his contributions when he returns. Juniors Liam Dailey and Cody Trotin will also be in the mix after starting for JV last season.
While the pitching staff gets settled in, the Panthers will rely on its defense and offense. After an up-and-down regular season last year offensively, Franklin will be trying to carry over the success it had in the state tournament. Senior Alex Haba is back at shortstop and is one of the best two-way players in the Hockomock. Jake Macchi had a terrific postseason and will be looking to carry that over into his final year starting at catcher for Franklin. Scott Elliott will be the veteran in the outfield for the Panthers as well as a top offensive weapon. All three players — Haba, Macchi, and Elliott — are committed to playing baseball at Merrimack.
Cooper Ross is coming off a strong postseason and will start at third base while junior Jack Nally had a standout sophomore campaign in center field and will move up to the top of the order to set the table for the Panther offense. JB Floris will move from the designated hitter spot to first base and brings an experienced bat with him. Senior Joe Lizotte should see time in the outfield while senior Shane O’Neil’s versatility gives Franklin a lot of options defensively.
“We know this isn’t last year, this is a totally different team with different dynamics,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “We like the makeup of our team, with guys working hard and the seniors being good leaders. I think we could be pretty good defensively, and we’ve shown at times in the preseason to be pretty versatile on offense.”
King Philip is returning a lot of experienced players from last year’s squad and is hoping that will turn into an improved season and berth in the state tournament.
One big reason for optimism is a seasoned pitching staff, which features seniors David Morganelli and Terry Murray. Morganelli posted a 1.99 ERA last season along with 43 strikeouts in 38.2 innings pitched. Murray will be the second starter for the Warriors while juniors Chris Sawyer and Robbie Jarest are expected to factor into the rotation as the season progresses.
“David’s size, strength, and velocity make him a formidable pitcher,” said KP’s second-year head coach Greg Kessler. “His slider and ability to locate his fastball are one of the best in the league. David has an opportunity to be one of the best pitchers in the Hock. He is competitive and has improved a lot in terms of accuracy.”
Sawyer and Jarest will handle the left side of the infield again this year, with Jarest returning as the starting shortstop and Sawyer back manning third base. Both players will be key pieces at the top of KP’s batting order. Senior Ian Zimmerman returns at second base while senior Jake Anderson and sophomore Conor Cooke will both see time behind the plate.
Timmy Nault (.311 last year) will lead the way in the outfield while Zachary Zarba will figure in as well. There is a lot of competition for some open spots in the KP lineup as well.
“We have a lot of work to do this season, we need to improve on our hitting and driving the ball,” Kessler said. “We have a great group of seniors who are dedicated and excited to compete for a Hock Title. This senior group is a collection of great student-athletes and really represent KP well. They are leaders on and off the field”
2018 Record: 19-5 2018 Finish: Super 8 First Round Coach: Joe Breen
Mansfield had a very successful 2018 season that saw the Hornets win the Kelley-Rex division and earned a berth into the Super 8 tournament. But the Hornets enter the 2019 campaign hungrier than ever.
After seeing an early exit from the Super 8, Mansfield is aiming to get back and make some noise in the tournament this year. There will certainly be holes to fill after graduating two top pitchers in Tyler Dalton and Kevin Dow, as well as the steady bat of Justin Pena and the terrific defense of catcher Cullin Anastasia. However, there are 11 players due back from last year’s team and a handful of new faces ready to make an impact of their own.
Junior John Carney and senior Kevin Moran will anchor the rotation; the Hornets unfortunately lost ace Connor Sheehan for the season to an injury. Both Carney and Moran have experience though, and Mansfield is looking to seniors Jake Gerraughty, Matt Scibilia, Aidan Angland, Connor Smith, and sophomore Greg Coyle to fill the relief and spot start roles.
Mansfield brings back two of its three outfielders from last year with centerfielder Sam Nugent and right field Dan Saraceno both returning. Speedy shortstop Mike Hargadon is also back so the Hornets have three key pieces from the top half of the lineup back to pace the offense this year. Look for Eric Longley, Jenkins, Smith, Gerraughty, and Scibilia to also factor into to the Hornet lineup this year.
“It’s been a wild offseason here between losing some of our top guys and coming down with the injury bug but we have a great group of self-motivated returning players that we will look to keep our program going in the right direction,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “There are a lot of positional battles and innings on the mound to be sorted out, but the staff is excited to see the boys compete over the first couple weeks of the pre-season to get ourselves ready for [the first game]. While we had some great success last season, the boys know that we are 0-0 and they are ready to carve their own path.”
2018 Record: 5-15 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Alex Dion
After having a relatively young, inexperienced group in 2018, the Scarlet Hawks have flipped the script, bringing back six starters and eight total players and will be looking to ride that experience to an improved 2019 campaign.
Half of the returning starters are the three starting pitchers from last year, including senior Danny Corsini and juniors Colby Pires and Luke Rosa. Despite a 1-3 record last year, Rosa had a solid 2.97 ERA in 30.2 innings of work with 19 strikeouts. Corsini logged over 35 innings while Pires had over 24, so there is plenty of experience in the Hawk’s rotation.
Senior captain Matt Shaver returns to his shortstop position and will anchor the infield. Corsini and Pires will both see time at third base when they aren’t pitching, Justin Applebee is back for another season at second base, and Tyler Almeida continues his duties as the starting catcher for the Hawks. Senior captain Nick Marcolini gives the Hawks a left-handed option on the mound. Sophomores Carter Scudo (outfield) and Mario Lee (first, pitcher) will also factor in this year.
“I’m looking forward to the 2019 baseball season and am excited about the players that are on our team,” said Milford head coach Alex Dion. “This is a tough league with a lot of good teams and good coaches. I think we have an opportunity to be very competitive this year. I will lead on our returning seniors and captains to push this team in the right direction and I am excited about the young players we have in our program.”
2018 Record: 22-2 2018 Finish: Division 2 State Champions Coach: Mike Hart
North Attleboro is looking to replicate its success from last season, the best year in program history that resulted in the D2 State Championship. And with a solid group of returning players, there is optimism but the Rocketeers know it certainly won’t come easy.
“We are a team with a decent amount of returning players, but we will need everybody contributing to be successful,” said North Attleboro coach Mike Hart. “We are looking for guys to be more consistent, especially on the offensive side of the game.”
The Rocketeers have three returning starters in the infield, so that will certainly be relied upon as the season gets underway. Senior Nick Raneri started at third last season but will move over to first this year while seniors Shawn Watters and Ryan Warren will take care of business up the middle. Hart says there is a lot of competition for the final spot in the infield with a handful of players possibly seeing time. Brendan McHugh returns as the starting left fielder while Kyle Bolger, Russell Dunlap, and Kyle Briere are all in the mix.
Behind the plate, senior Todd Robinson and junior Owen Harding are battling for the starting spot.
While the Rocketeers look to get the offense going, they will rely on their pitching staff early on. Matt Wanless had a very strong junior year and will be counted on heavily this season while seniors Matt Seavey, Jake Palmer, Jake Carroll, as well as Dunlap and Briere, should be in the mix for innings. Sophomore Dennis Colleran will see an increased role this season and could emerge as a top option for the Big Red.
“We will rely heavily on our pitching staff to lead us, and with smart, mistake-free defense, we will be able to win some games,” Hart said. “I really like the competitiveness our team brings every day. If we can learn from our failures and grind through the tough parts of the season that are sure to come, I believe we can win some ball games.”
2018 Record: 16-8 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Final Coach: Joe Abarr
Oliver Ames is coming off one of its most successful seasons, reaching the D2 South Final last year. The Tigers graduated some key pieces but there is a lot of players back that gives OA hopes at replicating last year’s success.
Senior Chris Pearsons will be a leader on and off the field for the Tigers, moving over from third base to take over the starting shortstop spot. Pearsons is one of the top players in the league, earning HockomockSports.com First Team honors last year after belting out 30 hits for an impressive .448 average. Not only is he a dangerous offensive player, he’s one of the top defensive players in the league as well.
Another key returner for the Tigers is catcher Jake Erlich, who will begin his third year starting behind the plate. Erlich is one of the top defensive catchers in the region and OA is looking for him to have a breakout season at the plate. Junior Jacob Levine showed flashes last season with some timely hits as a pinch hitter. This year, Levine takes over at first and the Tigers will be looking for him to bring a consistent bat to the lineup.
Reid Latham, who went 2-1 last season with a 2.85 ERA, focused heavily on pitching this offseason and will take over as the top starter in the Tigers’ rotation.
“We have an established lineup of varsity hitters with a handful of underclassmen that will be filling in gaps for us,” said Oliver Ames coach Joe Abarr. “Our pitching rotation should be solid as long as everyone stays healthy. Last year, the Hock proved to be one of the best leagues in the state. We need to show up and compete every day if we want to be successful.”
After a couple of seasons of being on the outside looking in, the 2019 Sharon Eagles are looking to make strides towards a state tournament berth.
Although it will be a relatively young group, there is strong senior leadership. Head coach Kee Arguimbau is hoping that a nice mix of veterans and new faces will result in a successful season.
Tarlin was also the ace of the staff for the past couple of seasons but senior Noah Kamens should be ready to step into the top spot after some real strong outings last year. A lefty, Kamens does a nice job mixing up his pitches and will be a key part of Sharon’s defense. Kamens will be complemented by 6’6 righty Max LeBlanc, who burst onto the scene a year and had some impressive outings. Jared Reef returns behind the dish and the Eagles are looking for him to have a breakout year offensively.
Junior Alec Filipkowski is moving in from the outfield to second base while sophomore Justin Brown returns to shortstop after picking up valuable experience last season as a freshman. Noah Martinez, who recently returned to Sharon after living in Florida, could be a key piece of the offense while playing the hot corner defensively.
Seniors Dairell Martinez and Matty Jacobsen will be doing their part for the Eagles in the outfield while = senior Ben Reinbold looks to have an impact for Sharon on the mound.
“This year’s team is young. Luckily, what we lack in experience, we make up for in solid leadership,” Arguimbau said. “The seniors have done a phenomenal job in establishing the culture for the team this season. The young guys in the program have followed their lead and have been working hard in the offseason and are ready to continue to put the work in every day.
2018 Record: 10-9 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Mike Armour
Stoughton had a solid season a year ago, but an early exit from the state tournament has left the Black Knights hungry for more in 2019.
It starts with the two co-captains for the Black Knights: senior Zak Paquette and senior Robert Seaman. Paquette emerged as Stoughton’s top option on the mound last season and will be counted on to take on a lot of innings again this season. Paquette isn’t the most flashy pitcher but he helps put Stoughton in position to win games. Seaman will start at shortstop and the Black Knights are looking to him for a big bat in the middle of the lineup.
Last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year George Currier is looking to pick up where he left off last season, giving the Black Knights flexibility with his ability to play anywhere on the field defensively. Seniors Cian Swierzewski, Kevin Dixon, and Kyle Gagnon are all experienced outfielders, James Genest III gives Stoughton a nice presence at the plate offensively, and Mike Nazzaro will handle catching duties.
Newcomers Clayton Rahaman and Jacob Kaplan should log some innings in the outfield, along with Cam Dirosa in the infield and Brady Conlin in the infield and on the mound. Senior pitcher Evan Jackman has impressed so far this preseason and will be a key piece of Stoughton’s starting rotation.
“The goal this season will be to compete every time we set foot on the field, playing sound fundamental baseball and doing the little things to put us in a position to win some ballgames,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. “The boys have been working hard and I expect us to have some fun this year and play the game the right way.”
2018 Record: 1 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Blair Bourque
There is a lot of excitement in Taunton with its new turf field, but the Tigers are hoping it’s their performance on that field that will have people talking by the end of the year.
It all starts with pitching for Taunton this year. With two DI commits in Jack Moynihan (Siena) and Josh Lajoie (St. John’s), the Tigers will certainly be boasting one of the top pitching groups for another season. Moynihan posted a 1.44 ERA with 43 strikeouts while Lajoie fanned 36 batters and had a 1.52 ERA.
Both Moynihan and Lajoie provide a lot of offense as well, but the Tigers will need others to step up to fill some voids from graduation. Tyler Medeiros (.375) and Trevor Pietrzyk (.373) both graduated some Taunton’s offense so head coach Blair Bourque will be looking for some new faces to step up.
The Tigers will be looking to senior Evan Melo to give the offense a spark. Melo will patrol center field and set the table to the offensively from the leadoff spot. Junior Logan Lawrence impressed last year batting .336; Taunton will need his bat to provide pop in the middle of the lineup in 2019.
“We’re certainly excited about having the opportunity to showcase our new turf field,” said Taunton head coach Blair Bourque. “It’s really a dream come true. There’s something special about this year’s team, the senior leadership and camaraderie are substantial.”
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.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The first game back in September was a surprising shootout, but the rematch in the pouring rain on Friday night at Alumni Field was more of what has come to be expected from battles between Mansfield and King Philip.
Defense was the story of the Div. 2 South final. The Hornets scored a touchdown on their opening possession but were held off the board for the remainder of the game, while the Warriors were held without a touchdown until midway through the fourth quarter.
King Philip came away with a hard-hitting 10-7 victory over its division rival, securing its third straight trip to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
“There’s playing teams and then there’s playing Mansfield,” King Philip coach Brian Lee remarked. “You know what you’re going to get and it’s just how are you going to move the ball when they’re big and mean and tough and we’re just trying to find a way.”
Mansfield took the lead midway through the first quarter, taking advantage of a short punt to score its only touchdown of the game.
After a three-yard punt, the Hornets got the ball at the KP 37 but then backed up 10 yards on a pair of false starts. On third and 15, Aidan Sacco was able to pull the ball down and scramble for 16 and a first down. Two plays later, Sacco again found space to run and rumbled in untouched for a 16-yard score.
The ensuing kick was fielded at the one by Aidan Bender, but he returned it 47 yards out to midfield. The Warriors were unable to make it count, but the defense got the ball right back.
KP forced a Mansfield three-and-out and regained possession inside Hornets territory. Ryan Halliday (27 carries, 96 yards), with help from a defensive holding call, got the ball down to the 21, but Mansfield held firm and forced a 38-yard field goal from Cole Baker that cut the lead to 7-3.
Mansfield had a chance to add to its lead before halftime when it go the ball back at midfield. The drive started poorly, as Sacco was sacked by Halliday and Max Armour, but a personal foul following an incomplete pass gifted the Hornets 15 yards and a first down. Sacco then hit Cincere Gill for 20 yards down to the KP 18, but two plays later Gill fumbled and Bender recovered for the Warriors.
“When they didn’t score before the half, I thought we were okay,” said Lee. “We couldn’t have played any worse offensively and made some mistakes on defense, but if we could get into the half and make our adjustments and only be down four I thought alright that’s KP football, we’re fine.”
The third quarter continued the trend where defenses were in control of the game. Even without Vinnie Holmes at linebacker, Mansfield was getting big plays from Chris Copponi and T.J. Guy. KP was getting typically strong performances from Armour and fellow linebacker Jack Webster to stymie the Mansfield offense.
The score stayed the same heading to the fourth before KP finally got something going on the offensive side of the ball. The Warriors ate up six minutes with an 11-play, 51-yard drive to take the lead.
“We started just grinding it out, pounding it,” said junior quarterback Robbie Jarest about the go-ahead drive. “The line was doing really well, we were just grinding it out.”
Halliday continued to be the workhorse back, grinding out yards, including a two-yard burst to convert a fourth and one. On second and six, KP called for a bootleg from Jarest and he bounced it to the outside for 11 yards. On third and six, Jarest scrambled and managed to dive ahead for nine and another first down to the Mansfield 12.
On the next play, he hit David Morganelli just outside the goal line for a first and goal from about a foot, which Jarest finished off with a sneak.
The Hornets had 5:38 on the clock to try and get back the lead. Back-to-back nine-yard gains by Gill and Joe Plath got the ball out to the 43. After an eight-yard gain by Khristian Conner pushed the ball into KP territory, Mansfield took a chance downfield. Sacco tried to squeeze a pass in down the middle but it was picked off by Deric Casado at the 16.
On third and eight, again KP turned to its quarterback on a bootleg and Jarest weaved his way through the Mansfield defense for nine yards and a dagger first down that sealed the win.
“Robert gave us a little wrinkle at the end that was just enough,” said Lee. “That’s kind of what we do at KP, just enough. He’s really done a great job stepping up, taking the coaching, and I’m really proud of his efforts.”
No one was quite sure what to make of this KP team at the start of the season. With no returning starters on offense, this didn’t seem like a Warriors team that could make it back to the state title game, but here they are again booking a trip back to Gillette Stadium with eyes on a three-peat.
“It’s a very different team and it’s presented challenges along the way but they still have the same theme, which is keep believing, keep working,” Lee explained. “The one thing that stayed from the last two years is their work ethic and their belief that they can pull it off.”
He added, “We have heart, we have guts, we have teamwork, and we use it on this team better than anybody. Anybody can be a hero on a different play.”
King Philip (8-2) will face Franklin on Thanksgiving Day and then take on North champion North Andover in the Div. 2 title game. Mansfield also finished the season at 8-2 and will finish its season with its Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Foxboro at Fenway Park.