MANSFIELD, Mass. – Although it has been an obviously unusual season, there was a familiar, playoff-like feel to the final game of the regular season at Alumni Field. Mansfield (6-0) hosted fellow unbeaten Marshfield, a team that the Hornets have faced in the playoffs in five of the last six seasons.
There was also a familiar feel to the game, as the Mansfield defense stood tall once again, allowing only four first downs in a 12-9 win. All of Marshfield’s points were scored by its defense, meaning the Hornets did not allow an opposition offense to score a single point over the final 19 quarters of the season (going back to the first quarter against Milford in week two).
“I thought we did a really good job handling their run game and couple of short passes but nothing big,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding about the defensive effort. “They play hard and aggressive and they didn’t give much tonight.”
He added, “I told the guys, look you’re undefeated. It doesn’t matter how many games you won, you got a zero for losses and that’s special. They made the best of this opportunity and this season.”
It was an awkward start for the home team. A couple of penalties ended the first possession and James Gilleran’s punt was blocked by Josh Pires. Gilleran recovered to prevent a Marshfield touchdown by knocking the loose ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
The Rams caused a lot of problems on special teams, blocking two punts and an extra point.
Mansfield’s defense was holding up well to the high-paced, spread formation offense that Marshfield likes to run. James Fichera broke up a pass play and then Rocco Scarpellini made the tackle on third and long forcing a Marshfield punt from its own 11.
Anthony Comer returned the punt to the Rams 25 and Mansfield’s offense took advantage of the short field. Comer (20 carries, 55 yards) set up the touchdown with a 16-yard burst around the left side of the line and then punched it in from two yards out on the next play to put the Hornets in front 6-2.
The coverage continued to be excellent from the Mansfield secondary, as Nick Bertolino threw a big hit to break up a pass, TJ Guy set the edge to stop a sweep, and Jake Goldman made a good break on the third down pass to force an incompletion. Again, Marshfield was forced to punt from deep in its own territory and gave the hosts great starting field position.
This time, it took Mansfield only one play to turn that position into points. Nico Holmes (10 carries, 88 yards) took a counter straight up the gut and raced 49 yards for the touchdown. He was untouched until he got into the end zone. The conversion pass fell incomplete and Mansfield led 12-2 with 3:22 left in the half.
Marshfield moved the chains for the first time on a 14-yard pass from Owen Masterson to Pat Yesinko and, after an offsides call, converted a fourth and two at midfield for their second first down of the night. Everett Knowlton closed out the half with one of Mansfield’s three sacks.
Holmes said there weren’t a lot of adjustments on defense facing the hurry-up offense. He said, “We stuck to what we knew in our base stuff and it worked out. We played Mansfield football, hard-nosed, violent football and we got it done.”
Scarpellini opened the half by recovering a Masterson fumble, but the Mansfield drive ended when Matt Boen was picked off by Sam Sullivan in the end zone. After a 30-yard pass from Ean Scholz to Yesinko got the Rams into Mansfield territory for just the second time, Holmes and Scarpellini stuffed a play for a big loss and then Scarpellini added a tackle on the fourth down keeper to get the ball back.
While the Mansfield defense was dominating, the offense was struggling to find a rhythm, especially without running back Cincere Gill. Boen followed the block of Jake McCoy to convert a fourth and two, but a holding call on the next play negated any momentum.
“We just couldn’t sustain anything,” Redding admitted. “It was hard work for either team to get first downs tonight. I’m glad we were able to get enough there in the second quarter to get some breathing room. This was playoff football for sure.”
Marshfield’s Tim Bunker blocked the ensuing punt, but the Rams couldn’t make the good starting field position count. Ryan DeGirolamo broke up a pass and then Holmes sniffed out an attempted fourth down shovel pass for no gain.
Facing third and 14, Boen (7-of-11, 88 yards) looked down the sideline to Knowlton. The pass was tipped by the Marshfield corner but Knowlton stayed with it for a 24-yard grab. The excitement from that play was fleeting as a holding call and then a fumble ended the drive.
Mansfield got the ball back and looked like it was just going to run the clock out. Boen broke an 18-yard gain on a keeper and then Holmes was close to a first down on the next play, but as he was fighting for extra yards Sullivan ripped the ball loose and took it up the far sideline for a 77-yard touchdown that stunned the home bench.
With 1:42 to play, Mansfield looked like it was going for it on fourth and two from its own 43, but instead Boen quick kicked it and the ball rolled down to the 10.
“We were just trying to hang on, trying to stay calm, do what we do, not get over excited,” said Holmes about the mindset for that final defensive possession.
Marshfield managed one first down on the final drive, just its fourth of the night, but the Hornets were flying to the ball. The Hornets only allowed Marshfield to complete 12-of-29 passes on the night. Bertolino, Jared Fraone, and Holmes all made big plays to stop the final drive and secure the win.
“It’s the story of the year,” said Redding about his defense. “They have played lights out and they won it tonight. Just unbelievable effort.”
When asked about what it was like to have Marshfield rather than traditional Thanksgiving Day rival Foxboro to close out the season, Redding explained, “We miss playing Foxboro with all the tradition, but we’re not too disappointed that when we do play Foxboro it will be next Thanksgiving hopefully in front of 5,000 instead of 300.
“I think it was fun to play a great team like this, who was undefeated. It was a damn good replacement to play kind of a Div. 2 South championship to wrap this thing up.”
MANSFIELD, Mass. – It had been 15 months since Mansfield last walked off the field, at Gillette Stadium, holding the 2019 Div. 2 state championship trophy. When the lights came on for Friday night’s Fall II season opener at Alumni Field, the Hornets showed no rust after such a long layoff and, in fact, it looked like they hadn’t missed a beat.
Mansfield scored after just three plays, had six first half touchdowns, half of them by senior running back Cincere Gill, scored twice on defense, and rolled to a 49-7 victory against Franklin.
“It’s been a long, long wait,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “All fall everybody just held their breath that we maybe would get a chance to play and it was almost surreal you walk out here and it’s 60 degrees on a Friday night and it felt like September.
“Lights go on, it’s Friday night, we don’t care what month it is, it felt like Friday night lights.”
It took no time for the Hornets to show how dynamic they can be on offense. Gill (167 total yards) proved to be unstoppable, going for 21 yards on the first play and 34 on the second to get the Hornets down to the Franklin six. On the next play, Nico Holmes (81 total yards) bullied his way into the end zone and James Gilleran added one of his seven extra points for an early 7-0 lead.
On its next possession, Mansfield showed different facets of its offense. Matt Boen, who Redding said was playing quarterback for the first time since seventh grade, hit Gill for 19 yards and Anthony Comer (81 total yards) took a draw for 17. After Gill missed Boen on a deep pass, he took the next snap right up the middle and raced for a 52-yard score.
“Everybody thinks they run a 4.3…and when you get out there and see a real 4.3, 4.4 kid, you know it,” said Franklin coach Eian Bain about Gill. “Super talented and you combine that with the beef that they have, you know, a lot of times we sort of pride ourselves on having speed and that’s maybe our neutralizer and tonight it wasn’t. They had the best of both worlds.”
Not to be outdone, the Mansfield defense got into the act. On a second and 11 play, the Hornets blew up and attempted screen pass and Sean Weber got a hand on Jared Arone’s attempted pass. The ball fell to Rocco Scarpellini, who took the interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
Despite trailing 21-0, Franklin’s offense was finding some success in the passing game. Arone (21-of-32, 193 yards), a first-year starter, connected with Shane Kindred nine times and with Jake O’Brien six times. On their third possession, the Panthers were able to finish a drive.
Arone hit O’Brien for 20 yards out near midfield. After getting into Mansfield territory, Franklin faced a fourth and one. A well-executed roll-out screen pass to Kindred gained eight yards and kept the drive going. A screen pass to Mack Gulla put the Panthers in the red zone and on the next play Will Tracey went up and got a pass at the front pylon for a 19-yard touchdown.
The momentum was short-lived because the Hornets just had too much on offense. CJ Bell’s return gave Mansfield good starting field position and Boen fired a pass to Comer for 33 yards down to the Franklin 14. After a low snap pushed the Hornets back a few yards, Boen threw a perfect pass to hit Holmes on the wheel route for a 17-yard score and a 28-7 lead.
A fumble recovery handed Mansfield back the ball at its own 45 and the Hornets made quick work of the short field. Boen hit tight end Everett Knowlton on the run for 34 yards and, after a holding call, followed it with an 11-yard keeper. Gill got the hand off, went straight up the middle, and made a quick cut to the right, walking in untouched with a 20-yard TD.
Mansfield forced a three-and-out and got the ball back at its 33. Jake Wall took a jet sweep to the left and rushed for 20 yards into Franklin territory. Comer had a pair of carries to get the ball to the five. Gill got the call. He started left towards the Mansfield sideline but was blocked off, turned back and reversed around to the far side, found a tiny seam, and cut it upfield to find pay dirt for a third time.
“I think everyone was worried about such a long layoff that we’d be sloppy but we’ve got a lot of experience back,” Redding explained. “We executed and then when we didn’t execute you give the ball to Cincere and he runs to daylight. He makes a lot of bad plays look good.”
Jack Colby tacked on a second defensive touchdown when he picked off a pass right in front of his bench and ran it back 35 yards. Caden Colby added Mansfield’s third interception in the fourth quarter.
After reaching the Div. 1 South final last year, Franklin graduated all of its starting skill position players. Many of the Panthers were seeing their first significant varsity minutes and getting that experience against the league’s top team.
“It was a learning curve, but we knew what we were getting,” Bain admitted. “Yes, they are really, really good. I told my guys, TJ Guy is going to play on Sunday, there’s not a doubt in my mind…but a lot of it was just little details in our assignments, our techniques, in our eyes, and little things I think we can correct. A lot of things we had to work out of our system tonight.”
Redding acknowledged the advantage Mansfield has in terms of offensive firepower. He said, “Cincere and Anthony are just so explosive. We didn’t get the ball to Jake Wall but he can fly. Everett is a good tight end, Nico can get tough yards up inside. We’re not a typical high school football team in terms of skill and then the front five up front blocking are very, very good.”
Mansfield (1-0) will be on the road next week to face Milford for the first time. Franklin (0-1) will be on the road again when it travels to Taunton.
Foxboro, 49 @ Sharon, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (F) Omarion Otto-Broomstein 1-yard rush, Sam Carpenter XP good. (F) Cam Prescott 42-yard pass to Luis Sulham, S. Carpenter XP good. (F) Dylan Gordon 48-yard rush, S. Carpenter XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Chris McNamara 1-yard rush, S. Carpenter XP good. (F) C. Prescott 29-yard pass to James Kraus, S. Carpenter XP good. (F) L. Sulham 65-yard punt return, S. Carpenter XP good.
3rd Quarter: (S) Nico Marrero 3-yard rush, Molly McAlevey XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) Jack Austin 65-yard pass to Joseph Gonzalez, XP good.
Franklin, 7 @ Mansfield, 49 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (M) Nico Holmes 6-yard rush, James Gilleran XP good; (M) Cincere Gill 52-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good; (M) Rocco Scarpellini 25-yard interception return, J. Gilleran XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Jared Arone 19-yard pass to Will Tracey, Parker Cheuvront XP good; (M) Matt Boen 17-yard pass to N. Holmes, J Gilleran XP good; (M) C. Gill 20-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good; (M) C. Gill 5-yard rush, J. Gilleran XP good.
3rd Quarter: (M) Jack Colby 35-yard interception return; J. Gilleran XP good.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Taunton, 6 @ King Philip, 21 – Final
Oliver Ames, 7 @ Stoughton, 29 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (S) Safety.
2nd Quarter: (S) Christian Georges 28-yard rush, Jonah Ly XP good; (S) Christopher Ais 51-yard rush, J. Ly XP good; (S) Anthony Girolamo 7-yard rush, J. Ly XP good.
3rd Quarter: (S) Christian Ais 1-yard rush, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (OA) Jake Grimaldi 27-yard pass to Pete Bosader, Drew Nickla XP good.
Attleboro was able to incorporate a number of underclassmen last season and will be hoping that experience pays off with the junior class being asked to step up all across the field this season, as the Bombardiers look to challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
Size won’t be an issue for Attleboro and the offensive line should be a strength this season led by junior tackles Chris Leonardo (6’3, 275 pounds) and Alvin Harrison (6’3, 255) along with seniors Trainor Sherck and Ryan Grover and junior Adam Struminski. The Bombardiers are going to use that line a lot this season with new quarterback Blake Garzaro, who saw some action as a sophomore, handing the ball off frequently to junior Kaiden Murray, who looks poised for a breakout season, and bruising fullback Michael Strachan. Junior Freddy Wheaton is another physical back who will get touches this year. In the passing game, Garzaro can look for 6’4 tight end Christian Dame, who leads a largely new cast of receivers.
The strengths on offense should mirror the strengths for Attleboro’s defense as well. Leonardo, Dame, and Harrison will be the core of the defensive line with junior Isaac Pereira another big body that will be tough for opposing teams to run against. Strachan leads the linebacking corps. The URI-commit is the program’s all-time leading tackler and he’s a four-year varsity player. Wheaton will join Strachan at inside linebacker and Sherck and Ryan Betts will be on the outside. The secondary will have several new faces, but Murray is a tough tackler at free safety and William Runey will be one of the more experienced cornerbacks on the roster.
Franklin is coming off an impressive run to the Div. 1 South final but the Panthers also graduated a host of important pieces from last year’s team, particularly at the skill positions, and will need some younger players to step in to stay competitive in the Kelley-Rex this season.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
Junior Jared Arone will step in at quarterback this season, hoping to have the same level of success running Franklin’s up-tempo style as Thomas Gasbarro did last year. Junior running back Mack Gulla got some time in the backfield last season but will be getting the bulk of the touches this year. A new receiving corps will also have to learn on the job, including senior Jake O’Brien and junior Shane Kindred, and junior tight end Jonathan Martins, but there is potential for this to be an explosive group. Seniors Brady Duncan and Vincent Lackey will be counted on to provide leadership on the offensive line. The consistency of senior kicker Parker Cheuvront will be a huge boost to a Franklin offense that may have some growing pains early in the season.
Defensively, the Panthers return several players and will rely on that experience to combat the top offenses in the league and to allow time for the younger players to get up to speed. Seniors Xander Honor and Dan Cormier will spearhead the defense from their linebacker positions, while seniors Anthony Quintina and Lackey are stout in the middle of the line. Martins will be a force at defensive end and Griffin is a playmaker at safety.
“We need to focus on getting better every day,” said Franklin coach Eain Bain. “Appreciate, and focus on, the here and now. Don’t look ahead or behind, but stay in tuned to the task at hand. And always, Row the Boat.”
This is an atypical season in so many ways, not least of all because King Philip, one of the perennial powers in the Kelley-Rex, is going through a transition. The Warriors will have a lot of new faces this year, using a number of underclassmen who will have to quickly learn the KP style of play through a tough slate of divisional games.
KP returns only two starters on offense from last year’s team that reached the D2 South semifinal. Senior guard Pat Zarba and junior tight end Drew Danson will be the lone holdovers, although several other players did see action at times. Junior Crawford Cantave filled in for an injured Ryan Halliday at running back last year and has the potential to be next in a long line of standout backs at KP. Mike Malatesta will also be in the backfield at fullback and sophomore Ryan Gately is a newcomer to keep an eye on. Junior Charlie Grant is set to be the new quarterback and will have Danson, senior Michael Zagrodney, and junior Nick Viscusi as targets in the passing game. Senior Kevin Pierro will be the center to add some experience to what is otherwise a largely new group on the line.
Defense has always been a priority for KP and this year’s group has a lot of players who will be learning on the job. Zarba and Danson will be on the defensive line, along with junior Hunter Hastings and senior Harry Brown. Malatesta and Gately will be joined by junior Jake Sullivan at linebacker. The secondary is young but has some experience, as Cantave and Viscusi both are coming off strong sophomore seasons at safety.
“I am hoping that our weakness (inexperience and lack of seniors) will be a strength in the fall as we are forced to play a lot of juniors and sophomores now,” said KP coach Brian Lee. “I’m also worried about injuries, as we have not been in our weight room in a year.”
It has been 15 months since Mansfield rolled to a D2 state title at Gillette Stadium and the Hornets are excited to get back on the field, searching for a third straight league title and looking forward to a 90th anniversary game against Foxboro at Alumni Field to close out the season.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
While Mansfield graduated a number of key players from last year’s state championship-winning team, the Hornets return plenty of offensive firepower, especially in the backfield. Senior Cincere Gill will be the focus after racking up nearly 1,000 rushing yards last season, but he will get plenty of help from classmates Anthony Comer and Nico Holmes and newcomer sophomore Rocco Scarpellini. In addition, the Hornets will have Matt Boen and Nick Bertolino back at receiver and Everett Knowlton returns at tight end. Juniors Jake Wall and Dana Johnson will add to the depth in the passing game. The offensive line should be a strength for Mansfield this season with three returning starters, seniors TJ Guy and Jake McCoy and junior Joe Forte. Juniors Jimmy Gilleran and Braedon Veno will fill out the rest of the line.
The Hornets were dominant on defense last season and they remain solid on that side of the ball, particularly in the front seven. With Guy on the end and junior Mark DeGirolamo and McCoy in the interior of the defensive line, Mansfield will be stout up front. Holmes is a standout at linebacker and senior Sean Weber will be a player to watch in his outside linebacker position. The secondary has depth with a handful of players fighting for three defensive back spots.
“Toughest part is mentally, everything’s backward with the weather – feels like November and the end of a typical season, but it’s pre-season,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “Just hoping Friday nights under the lights feel the same once games get going and it feels like we’re starting to finally get into a groove with execution. We’re all thankful to be playing and trying to enjoy every day we can go out and be a team.”
There are a lot of changes at Milford this season, with a new coaching staff taking over and the Hawks making the switch to the Kelley-Rex for the first time, but there is a lot of experience on the field to make that transition with nine starters returning on both sides of the ball.
One of the biggest changes for Milford will be under center, as Brady Olson takes over following his transfer from Bishop Feehan. The UMass-commit will have plenty of targets to aim for, as Milford returns arguably the deepest group of receivers in the league led by seniors Carter Scudo, Max Martin, and Matt Varteresian. They combine deep threat potential with the willingness to make the tough catches in traffic. Up front, Sean Murray and Nick Yohn will lead the protection for Olson and try to open up lanes for a new crop of running backs.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
Experience will be a strength on the defensive side of the ball as well. Dom Schofield highlights a tough defensive line. Another of the team’s UMass commits, Schofield will be a force at the defensive end position, while Mario Lee and Josh Kravets return in the heart of the line. Milford lost a couple of standout linebackers from last year’s squad, Luke Rosa and CJ Cerrella, but Kevin O’Connor and Angelo Romero are playmakers who should be ready for breakout seasons. Grant Scudo and Evan Hazard are back in what should be a strong secondary for the Hawks.
“I have a strong senior class that has played a ton of football and we’ll lean on them to help us compete in the Hock large this year,” said new Milford coach Dale Olson.
With 10 returning starters and 18 returning lettermen, Taunton will be relying on its senior leadership to stay competitive against what has the potential to be a daunting Kelley-Rex division schedule.
The Tigers have plenty of athleticism on both sides of the ball and also versatile players who can line up in multiple positions, making it difficult for opponents to match up. Senior Danny MacDougall moves under center this season, although he has also lined up at receiver in the past. Seniors Josh Lopes and Bretton Heggs give Taunton a pair of dangerous backs, while Trent Santos, Kedrick Santos, Nigel Choate, and Nolan Tomaszycki are weapons in the passing game. Senior Nathan Arieta, at 6-foot-5, is a big target at tight end. Seniors Tommy Ambrose and Jorden Manning are two returning starters on the offensive line. The depth on the line will be tested, as Taunton has several underclassmen with the size to step in but not a lot of experience.
Defensively, Taunton relies on its quickness and athleticism, but also has plenty of size up front. Ambrose, Manning, and Arieta will all play on the defensive line, along with classmate Deandre McPhail and junior Faisal Mass. Lopes, Kedrick Santos, Caleb Nicholson, and Evan Perrotta have experience in the linebacking corps. The secondary is filled with playmakers, including Trent Santos, MacDougall, Heggs, Tomaszycki, and Choate.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview