Rocketeers Edge King Philip in Season-Opening Thriller

North Attleboro football
North senior Brendan McHugh (29) scored a pair of touchdowns, including one with 1:33 left in the game to lift the Rocketeers to a 14-7 win.

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – One team came into the game having won three straight league titles, making a Super Bowl appearance, and was inaugurating a new turf field, while the other team came in after back-to-back league and state titles and was riding a 25-game win streak. These were the two most successful programs in the Hockomock League over the last two seasons.

It was a game that was destined to come down to one play; to be decided by inches. That was exactly what happened.

Brendan McHugh broke a few tackles and tiptoed down the sideline to put North Attleboro in front for good with 1:33 remaining in the fourth quarter but King Philip drove inside the Rocketeers red zone and had two shots at the end zone before a last second pass was broken up at the goal line. North held on for the 14-7 victory to christen the newly-upgraded Raymond E. Beaupre Field and hand KP its first defeat since the penultimate game of 2015.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I have no idea what happened,” McHugh admitted when asked about the game-winning touchdown. “I was staring at the ground and I thought I was going to fall, but I just stayed on my feet and just got to the end zone. I was close but I wasn’t out of bounds.”

When asked what this win meant for the team, he replied, “My senior year, we wanted to get them and we got them. So much confidence, that’s a hell of a team, that defense is legit and we grinded out a win.”

It was a battle of attrition, which both coaches had expected coming into the game. Both defenses were in control and both offense were finding their feet with a number of new faces. In the end, both coaches saw the positive from facing tough competition to kick off a new season.

“They came to play today against a very, very good team,” said KP coach Brian Lee. He joked, “I don’t know why we thought of playing them instead of scheduling someone easy a long time ago, but the truth is we learned so much about our team tonight. Playing a team like that in these conditions, they grew up fast tonight.”

North coach Don Johnson added, “We had to earn it. We had to work hard and earn it on both sides of the football. I think it’s a good confidence booster for those guys who are playing in their first game tonight.”

North took the lead just before the end of the first quarter with an eight-play, 67-yard drive. Senior quarterback Nick Raneri got the Rocketeers going with a 34-yard keeper that moved the ball down to the KP 29. Three plays later, Raneri barely eked out two yards on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Two plays after that, McHugh took a jet sweep to the right side of the line and was untouched for a 16-yard score.

The Rocketeers scored with 19 seconds left in the first. The Warriors scored 19 seconds later. Junior tailback Ryan Halliday (22 carries, 181 yards) bounced back from a fumble on his first carry of the game, bursting through the left side of the line, keeping his feet despite a diving attempt at a tackle by Luke LaBonte, and racing 80 yards for the tying score.

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KP tried to keep the momentum going when senior corner Deric Casado made a highlight-reel, one-handed interception right in front of his bench, but the North defense was just as strong, forcing a three and out.

The game stayed tied coming out of halftime. KP started the half by continuing to put the ball into the hands of its new workhorse back, running Halliday into the North defensive line that was led by senior Ryan Clemente and junior Trevor Hewett.

North finally managed a long drive against the KP defense at the end of the third quarter with Raneri narrowly missing Ethan Friberg in the end zone after the junior got free down the seam.

“We felt pretty confident on that one and I think Raneri saw him so wide open that he just didn’t get enough on the football,” Johnson said of the missed opportunity. “He lofted it instead of just putting it on his hands and it seemed to take forever to come down.”

On the first play of the fourth quarter, freshman kicker Tyler DeMattio missed a 32-yard kick wide left and the game remained even.

KP’s next drive stalled at its own 46 after a holding call on third down. Cole Baker’s punt drove Ryan Gaumond back to his own 10, but the North senior scrapped for 24 yards on the return to give North at least a little cushion with which to start the drive.

After working a first down near midfield, North turned to McHugh (16 carries, 95 yards) again. The senior went for six yards to the right and then broke a sweep to the left for 14 yards down to the KP 33. After a timeout, McHugh took the ball around the left side in front of his own bench and the Warriors appeared to have him wrapped up only to stop thinking he had gone out of bounds. McHugh kept going, inches from the sideline for the go-ahead score.

“He’s that kind of guy,” Johnson said of McHugh. “He doesn’t even know he’s doing it half the time but he’s a threat to break anything at any time so there are times we say just give it to McHugh because he can create so much on his own.”

The Warriors took advantage of a new rule on the ensuing kickoff, calling a fair catch inside the 10 and automatically getting the ball at the 25. Junior Robbie Jarest rolled out to the far side and hit David Morganelli for 12 yards. Andy DeMattio nearly had a game-ending interception but could not hold on and the drive extended on a pass interference call on third down.

A 10-yard screen pass to Casado was followed by a 21-yard pass to Morganelli and suddenly KP was down to the North 17-yard-line with and the clock was stopped with eight seconds remaining. A false start backed KP up five yards, but Jarest just missed Morganelli in the back of the end zone on second down.

As the final horn sounded, the last gasp pass was picked off by Matt Penta at the goal line to seal the North win.

“I told them the second series is going to be better for you than the first and the third series will be better and the fourth and you settle down and confidence grows,” Lee said about what his team learned from that final drive regardless of whether or not it ended in a score. “They definitely believed they were going to win it at the end.”

North Attleboro (1-0) will be back on the Beaupre Field turf next week when it hosts rival Bishop Feehan. King Philip (0-1) will play another Davenport division team next Friday in its home opener, as Foxboro travels to Macktaz Field.

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Football: 2018 Davenport Division Preview

Davenport
Canton’s Gersom Rivera and the Bulldogs will try to compete for the Davenport title this season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Davenport Football Preview

Canton

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Bohane

Key/Returning Players: Brendan Albert, Sr., HB/LB; Johnny Hagan, Jr., QB; Kyle Fitzgerald, Jr., HB/FS; Ben Seaman, Sr., OL/DL; Gersom Rivera, Jr., RB/HB; Jack Connolly, Jr., OL/DL; James Murphy, Jr., LB; Brian Campagna, Sr., OL/DL; David Allen, Jr.,SE/DB;

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.

Foxboro

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D5 South Semifinal
Coach: Jack Martinelli

Key/Returning Players: Tom Cullen, Sr., OC; Andrew Longa, Sr., OT; Liam Foley, Sr., QB; Hunter Williams, Sr., OG/LB; Mike Luong, Sr., RB; Aidan Dow, Jr., OG; Shawn Teixeira, Sr., DT; Bill McNeil, Sr., DT; Martin McElroy, Sr., LB; Russell Neale, Sr., K; Pat Stapleton, Sr., SE;

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.

Milford

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D3 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Anthony Vizakis

Key/Returning Players: Brendan White, Sr., WR/S; Ryan Pearl, Sr., QB; Josh Ligor, Sr., OL/DL; Kevin Pyne, Sr., OL/DL; Hugo Lopes, Sr., RB/S; Shapel Feaster, Sr., WR/CB; Sean Lehane, Sr., WR/K; Colby Pires, Jr., QB; Luke Rosa, Jr., RB/LB; CJ Cerella, Jr., OL/LB;

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.

North Attleboro

2017 Record: 11-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D3 State Final
Coach: Don Johnson

Key/Returning Players: Ryan Clemente, Sr., OL/DL; Nicholas Raneri, Sr., QB/RB/LB; Jonathan James, Jr., OL/DL; Jack Puccio, Sr., OL/DL; Brendan McHugh, Sr., RB/DB; Omar Jasseh, Sr., SE/DB; Ryan Gaumond, Sr., SE/DB; Ryan Boyle, Sr., RB/DB;

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.”

Sharon

2017 Record: 6-5
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Morse

Key/Returning Players: Chris Gong, Sr., WR/DB/KOR; Coleman Loftus, Sr., OL/DL; Aaron Strong, Sr., RB/DB; Jeremy Ruskin, Sr., QB; Alec Filipkowski, Jr., WR/DB/KOR; PJ McManus, Jr., WR; Kiran Chandrasekaran, Jr., DB; Nic Marrero, Jr., LB;

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.

Stoughton

2017 Record: 6-5
2015 Finish: Reached D3 South Semifinal
Coach: Greg Burke

Key/Returning Players: Jeff Grier, Sr., RB/DB; Cian Swierzewski, Sr., WR/SS; Alex Iverson, Sr., RB/LB; George Currier, Jr., QB; Matt Piana, Sr., OL/DL; Ajahn Rue, Jr., WR/DB; Josh Cocchi, Sr., CB/K; Ali Awad, Sr., OL/DL; Evan Jackman, Sr., OL/DL; Frank Derbes, Sr., TE/DL; Malachi Green-Hightower, Sr., RB/LB; John Burke, Soph., QB;

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.

Rocketeers Roll In Rematch With Black Knights

North Attleboro football
North Attleboro’s Nathan Pearce (25) and Geoff Wilson (53) sack Stoughton’s Evan Gibb in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Playing a team for a second time in the season presents plenty of obstacles, and more often than not its a tighter game than the first time around.

That makes North Attleboro’s dominant 35-12 win over Stoughton in the D3 South Semifinals that much more impressive.

Big Red’s defense limited Stoughton’s starting unit to under 100 yards of total offense, and its offensive unit took advantage of strong field position to advance to the sectional final for the second straight year.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Four of North Attleboro’s five touchdown drives required five plays or less, all four of them under 50 yards. Only one drive – the third scoring drive of the game at the end of the first half – was a lengthy possession (seven plays, 65 yards).

“I think this team has really matured as the year has gone on and really developed that business-like attitude,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “You get to this point in the year, and you know what you’re supposed to do…you just have to go out and do it. It’s a sign of maturity.”

It wasn’t an ideal start for the Rocketeers, who were forced into an early punt that was blocked by Stoughton’s Jason Joseph and recovered by David Bell. That set Stoughton up at the North Attleboro 20-yard line.

But North Attleboro’s defense stood tall with senior Geoff Wilson sacking Stoughton quarterback Johnny Medina on third down. Medina’s throw into the end zone on fourth fell incomplete and North escaped unscathed.

Stoughton’s defense did its part again, forcing another punt from North but this time the Rocketeers had a big break. Devin Slaney’s long kick got a kind roll and Stoughton’s returner wasn’t able to cleanly field it, allowing North junior Cam Cornetta to pounce and give the Rocketeers the ball at Stoughton’s 10-yard line.

Big Red took advantage of their opportunity and senior quarterback Chad Peterson (5/9, 68 yards – seven carries, 33 yards, three touchdowns) used an option play to keep it himself and run it in from five yards out. North led 7-0 after Wilson’s extra point with 3:05 left in the quarter.

“Sometimes it takes a bad play to kind of spark the team, offense or defense either one,” Johnson said of the blocked punt. “And I think that’s exactly what happened there.

“It felt like on that turnover [muffed punt], the game started over at the point.”

Slaney’s deep kickoff forced Stoughton to start inside its own 20-yard line. And North’s defense did its part, forcing losses on both first and second down. After a punt, North started at the Stoughton 45-yard line.

Peterson hit Nick Raneri for 11 yards then ran for eight yards with a late hit tacked on. Two plays later, North faked the jet sweep and Peterson kept it himself, going in from three yards out and a 14-0 lead with 10:20 to play in the second.

Ryan Gaumond put a halt to Stoughton’s next drive with an interception but the Black Knights’ defense allowed just one yard on North’s ensuing drive and got the ball back with a punt.

Junior Evan Gibb, who was hurt in the first meeting between the two teams and missed the past two weeks, took over under center to start the second quarter. On Stoughton’s next drive, he rushed for eight yards, then hit Alex Iverson for a 19-yard gain and a first down.

Two plays later, Gibb hit Ruben Gonzalez on a hitch route and the senior slipped through a tackle and attempt and raced 41-yards for a touchdown, bringing Stoughton within 14-6 with 3:47 left in the first half.

But that was enough time for North to orchestrate its longest drive of the game. Back-to-back passes from Peterson toMario Bresko moved the chains, and two plays later Peterson hit Raneri out in the flat and he raced 29-yards.

Two plays later, Nathan Pearce (eight carries, 53 yards) followed a great block up the middle and burst his way through two Stoughton defenders at the goal line for a 16-yard touchdown and a 21-6 lead with 90 seconds left in the first half.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Pearce led the Warriors in carries and rushing yards. With Stoughton’s defense bottling Raneri up, and Brendan McHugh without a carry, Pearce provided a spark for the Rocketeers.

“Pearce is kind of a combination of those others [Raneri and McHugh],” Johnson said. “You get to this time of year and guys are getting banged up. Pearce has come along – he was banged up early of the year – so he’s really given us that extra depth we were lacking at the beginning of the year.”

Stoughton got the ball to start the second half but another nice kick from Slaney, plus a block in the back, forced the Black Knights to start from their own six-yard line. After gains on first and second down, Wilson and Pearce combined for the sack on third down and the Black Knights had to punt from their own end zone.

“When you prepare for [Stoughton], you really have to prepare for two offenses,” Johnson said. They run the Wing-T offense so well, and then [Jeff Grier] was in there who didn’t play last time, and he’s a legitimate threat because of his speed. So you have to prepare for that and then they go with the spread offense and throw the ball. And Gibb’s a tough kid when he’s in there. So there’s a lot of things you have to prepare for so I was pretty happy with the defensive effort.”

That meant good field position for Big Red once again, starting at the Stoughton 28-yard line. Pearce had three carries for a total of 26 yards, and Peterson capped the drive with a two-yard plunge on fourth down with 6:10 to play.

North’s defense again held court and even though Stoughton got off a strong punt, Gaumond had a 33-yard return and North started at the Black Knights’ 17-yard line.

With Raneri at quarterback, he ran for 10 yards on first down, and then McHugh burst around the edge for a seven-yard touchdown on his first carry. North led 35-6 with 3:10 left, spelling the end of playing time for its starters on both sides.

“We couldn’t get the field position, we couldn’t move the ball…and they sort of stuck it to us,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “We have to be able to keep it close so we can run the ball. We got plenty of yards the last time, this time they did a couple of different things.

“Hats off to [North Attleboro], that’s a good team. I think they can win this sectional.”

Stoughton’s Justin Ly scored on an 11-yard run with 8:56 to play to cap the scoring.

With the win, the Rocketeers get a rematch with Duxbury in the sectional finals. It’s the third straight year that Big Red has faced off with the Dragons, with the latter coming away with wins both times.

“It’s always great to get an opportunity to go back and play someone you lost to,” Johnson said. “We’ve lost to them in the playoffs the past two years so it’s an opportunity to get another shot at them. They’ve sent us packing so its time to do something about that.”

The game is scheduled for Friday night, November 10th at Community Field at 7:00.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Peterson Helps Rocketeers Advance Past Walpole

North Attleboro football
Senior quarterback Chad Peterson (7) accounted for four touchdowns, two rushing and two passing, to lead North Attleboro to a first round win over Walpole at Community Field. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – After a slow start to the game, North Attleboro put the ball in the hands of senior quarterback Chad Peterson and the Amherst College-commit came through with four touchdowns, two through the air in the first half and two more on the ground in the second, to lead the Rocketeers to a 28-14 first round win against Walpole.

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North was able to survive and advance, despite the defense allowing more than 200 passing yards against Walpole’s spread formation, including 163 receiving yards (on 11 receptions) by wideout Chase Conrad.

“We knew they could throw the ball, so defensively we wanted to put pressure on the quarterback, which I thought we did a decent job of earlier but then they did a good job picking the pressure and we didn’t do a particularly good job covering the guys behind it,” said North Attleboro coach Don Johnson. “So, that kept them in the game.”

The North defense showed its ability to get pressure straight up the middle on the first Walpole series when Ryan Clemente dislodged the ball from Rebels running back Drew Van klock, hitting him just as he received the ball.

North returned the favor with a fumble five plays later but again the defense kept the pressure up on Walpole senior quarterback Brett Lavanchy (17-32, 223 yards). Geoff Wilson, Sam Bullock, and Zach DeMattio all forced Lavanchy into rushed throws and Wilson’s sack led to a Rebels punt.

North took over on its own 15-yard-line and proceeded to put together a 12-play, 85-yard drive to open the scoring. Nathan Pearce (11 carries, 96 yards) got the drive going with a 28-yard jet sweep to the far sideline and North kept advancing into the red zone until Peterson was sacked to force a third and 18. Peterson hit Pearce on an eight-yard screen and, on fourth and 10, found Ryan Gaumond on the near sideline for 16 and a first down.

Two plays later, Peterson bought time and found Nolan Buckley open in the back of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown.

Walpole responded quickly. Conrad returned the kick to the Walpole 45 and it took the Rebels only six plays to get on the board. DeMattio and Adam Eberle combined on a sack to force third and 13 from the North 47, but Walpole caught the Rocketeers in an all-out blitz. Lavanchy’s screen pass found Conrad in space and he took it the distance.

A missed extra point kept North in the lead, but the Rocketeers failed to take advantage on the next drive, turning it over on downs at the Walpole 16.

“Walpole played tough,” said Johnson. “I thought they did a great job on defense and worked hard to make us earn it.”

He added, “We thought we’d be able to move the ball on the ground, but I thought they played really well on defense in the first half. They did some different things that we hadn’t seen on the film. They jumped into a 50 double eagle look there and we hadn’t seen them do that all year long.”

Jonathan James and Bullock combined on a sack to end Walpole’s drive and get the ball back for North with just 51 seconds remaining in the half. The Rocketeers took over at the 50 and Peterson proceeded to march the hosts down field, needing just five plays to add a big score before the break. All three completions on the drive went to Devin Slaney, including the 26-yard touchdown.

The Rocketeers got the ball back to start the third quarter and promptly extended the lead. Pearce broke a 31-yard run to get the ball into Walpole territory. Peterson would take it the final 16 yards on a pair of carries to make it 21-6.

“I thought that was key, coming out get that first drive and score in the second half,” said Johnson. “I thought that was a big momentum swing there.”

He continued, “I never felt like we were out of control, but I just never felt like we could finish things. It just took a while for us tonight.”

Walpole’s ability to move the ball through the air meant that the game was far from over and the Rebels immediately responded to cut the lead back to one score. Conrad had another big return to get the ball near midfield. A 26-yard catch moved the drive inside the North 30 and then it was finished with a 16-yard catch in the back corner. Lavanchy and Conrad connected on the conversion as well.

“At halftime, they definitely went in there to pick up the middle blitz,” said DeMattio, “so we tried coming off the edge to try and stop the sprint out.”

After a North punt, the Rebels were on the move again, getting the ball inside the Rocketeers’ 10. Lavanchy was forced to throw a pass away on first and goal then was stuffed for a four-yard loss on a keeper by Jason McNeany and Marc Burns. On third and goal, Clemente got loose in the backfield for North’s fifth sack of the game. With Gaumond in coverage, the fourth down pass went out the back of the end zone.

North took over on its own 17. The Rocketeers put together a 13-play, 83-yard drive that put the game away. While the bulk of the drive consisted of runs by Peterson (13 carries, 88 yards), Pearce, and Nick Raneri (13 carries, 54 yards), there were also two big completions from Peterson to Gaumond on the far sideline. Peterson capped the possession with a seven-yard keeper to seal the win.

“It was a tough first game, but it was fun,” said DeMattio. “You can definitely see a lot more people coming out, bigger crowds, lot more intense.”

When asked about the prospect of hosting league rival Stoughton next week, DeMattio added, “They’re definitely a run-heavy team, so it will be good for them to come back to Community Field and get a good game for everyone.”

North Attleboro (7-1), the top seed in Div. 3 South, will host the Black Knights (6-2) on Friday night at Community Field.

Johnson said of what was at the time only a potential rematch with Stoughton, “I don’t like playing anybody a second time. They get to know all your secrets.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 10/20/17

Today’s games are listed below.

Game of the Week – Football
Franklin, 18 @ Attleboro, 37 – Final
1st Quarter: (F) Jake Noviello 4-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, XP blocked.
2nd Quarter: (A) Cam Furtado 11-yard pass to Justin Cote, C. Furtado 2pt rush.
3rd Quarter: (A) J. Cote 7-yard rush, C. Furtado 2pt rush; (A) C. Furtado 73-yard rush, Tyler Evans XP good; (A) Joseph Llanos 3-yard rush, T. Evans XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) J. Noviello 1-yard sneak, 2pt failed; (F) J. Noviello 22-yard pass to Evan Wendell, XP blocked; (A) J. Cote 30-yard rush, T. Evans XP good.

Football
Canton, 13 @ North Attleboro, 42 – Final
1st Quarter: (NA) Chad Peterson 4-yard pass to Jonathan James, Geoff Wilson XP good.
2nd Quarter: (NA) C. Peterson 31-yard pass to Mario Bresko, G. Wilson XP good; (NA) Nick Raneri 11-yard rush, G. Wilson XP good; (NA) C. Peterson 15-yard pass to Ryan Gaumond, G. Wilson XP good.
3rd Quarter: (NA) N. Raneri 1-yard rush, G. Wilson XP good; (C) Gersom Rivera 2-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good.
4th Quarter: (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 2-yard rush, XP missed; (NA) Luke LaBonte 79-yard rush, G. Wilson XP good.

Sharon, 0 @ Foxboro, 31 – Final
1st Quarter: (F) Mike Henri 5-yard rush, Russell Neale XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) R. Neale 29-yard field goal good; (F) Devin Hassett 1-yard rush, R. Neale XP good.
3rd Quarter: (F) Phil Dure 9 yard rush, R. Neale XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) Keyshawn Sanders 1-yard rush, R. Neale XP good.

King Philip, 35 @ Taunton, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: (KP) Andrew Dittrich 44-yard interception return, Cole Baker XP good; (KP) Shane Frommer 10-yard rush, C. Baker XP good; (KP) Brendan Lydon 15-yard pass to Jack Piller, C. Baker XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (KP) B. Lydon 25-yard pass to Dylan Leonard, C. Baker XP good.
4th Quarter: (KP) A. Dittrich 103-yard interception return, C. Baker; (T) Noah Leonard 20-yard pass to Wesner Charles, John Teixeira XP good.

Oliver Ames, 6 @ Mansfield, 42 – Final
1st Quarter: (M) Vinnie Holmes 4-yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good; (M) Danny DeGirolamo 80-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; (M) Damani Scott 3-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) D. DeGirolamo 31-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; (OA) Anthony Berksza 1-yard rush, XP blocked; (M) D. Scott 39-yard pass to D. DeGirolamo, M. DeBolt XP good.
3rd Quarter: (M) Jordan Thevenot 2-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
4th Quarter: No scoring.

Stoughton, 14 @ Milford, 3 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: Justin Ly 25-yard rush, Josh Cocchi XP good.
3rd Quarter: Sean Lehane 46-yard field goal.
4th Quarter: Alex Sjoquist 3-yard rush, J. Cocchi XP good.

Field Hockey
Attleboro, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – FinalAbigail Boudreau and Grace Mayer teamed up to create a pair of goals, helping the Bombardiers earn an upset on the road at OA. Boudreau scored on an assist from Mayer, and then the two combined to set up Kyra Lyons to make it 2-0. Shealyn Harrison earned her first career shutout in the win.

Sharon, 0 @ Canton, 8 – Final

Foxboro, 7 @ Milford, 0 – Final

Franklin, 7 @ Mansfield, 2 – FinalJunior Cassi Ronan registered four points to help the Panthers roll to a big win on the road. Ronan scored a pair of goals and set up two more in a win that qualified Franklin for the state tournament. Freshman Victoria Quinn netted a pair of goals while sophomores Erin Walsh and Olivia Mazukina and freshman Amanda Lewandowski each scored once.

Taunton, 0 @ King Philip, 4 – FinalKing Philip got off to a strong start, scoring a pair of goals inside the first five and a half minutes to take down Taunton. Dana Truini, Raegan Simeone (assisted by Caroline Klim) and Liz Furfari (assisted by Christina Hathaway) scored in the first half to help the Warriors build a 3-0 lead at the break. Nicole Connor scored with just over 12 minutes left to ice the game.

Stoughton, 1 @ North Attleboro, 4 – Final

Volleyball
Attleboro, 1 @ Mansfield, 3 – FinalMansfield moved one step closer to an MIAA tournament berth with a win over visiting Attleboro (25-13, 25-16, 25-27, 25-20). The Hornets need to win two of their last three games to qualify. Meg Hill (16 kills) and Julia Harrison (15 kills, 12 service points) paced the offense while Greenly Kelly chipped in with seven kills for Mansfield.

King Philip, 2 vs. Needham, 3 – FinalIn a battle of two top teams, and in what could be a playoff preview, KP fell just short (25-21, 24-26, 25-21, 24-26, 15-17) to visiting Needham. Sydney Phillips had a standout performance, notching 29 kills and nine digs while Michaela Palumbo added 10 kills, nine service points, and three aces. Grace Ely chipped in with six kills, Julianne Rando had 11 digs and five service points and Kat Kmetz added 14 service points, five digs, two kills and two aces.

Oliver Ames, 3 vs. Brockton, 2 – FinalOliver Ames survived a marathon five-game thriller with visiting Brockton, prevailing 25-23, 24-26, 25-13, 19-25, 15-8. OAHS head coach Chelsea Cunningham said senior Emma Petrillo (12 kills, three aces, two blocks) was the player of the game. “She dominated the game offensively and executed at crucial moments in the game,” Cunningham said. Sophomore Allie Kemp added 22 assists and five aces, senior Kayla Raymond had 12 kills and three blocks, and junior Sadie Homer finished with 15 digs and a pair of aces.

Sharon, 1 vs. Norwood, 3 – Final

Taunton @ Coyle & Cassidy, 5:30

North Attleboro Rides Strong Start Past Scarlet Hawks

North Attleboro football
North Attleboro’s Nick Raneri carries the ball in the first half against Milford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MILFORD, Mass. – After turning the ball over on each of its first two drives a week ago, North Attleboro had a high priority on getting off to a better start this week in Milford.

The Rocketeers delivered in a big way.

Big Red scored on both of its first two drives, combining to run 19 plays in the first quarter compared to just four for the hosts, and seized a 13-0 advantage after 11 minutes of play.

North’s strong start paved the way for a 27-6 win over the Scarlet Hawks.

“That was the plan going in because [Milford] runs that double-wing offense,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “They can take control of the football and clock and really put you behind the eight ball. So we really thought it was important to get ahead and make [Milford] play from behind.

“It was really good to see, I felt good after seeing our offense bring the ball down the field like that.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After Milford deferred, North Attleboro marched 68 yards on 11 plays on the game’s opening drive. A 23-year gain from Brendan McHugh (13 carries, 79 yards, two touchdowns) and 10-yard rush on fourth down from Nick Raneri (12 carries, 91 yards) helped Big Red move into the red zone.

McHugh took a sweep to the left and walked his way in for a two-yard touchdown. North’s attempt at a two-point conversion was caught but out of bounds.

Big Red’s defense was ready to go to start the game, allowing Milford’s offense to gain just two yards on its first three plays and forced a punt.

Nathan Pearce (63 total yards) started the next drive with a quick 15-yard first down run and two plays later Raneri rumbled his way for 30 yards. Facing a 3rd and 10 from the Milford 22-yard line, senior quarterback Chad Peterson (7/15, 96 yards, rush touchdown) hit junior Ryan Gaumond for a 12-yard gain and a first down.

Three plays later, Peterson kept it himself and took off to the right, sprinting inside the pylon for a four-yard touchdown. Geoff Wilson’s extra point made it 13-0 with 34 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Milford’s offense couldn’t move the ball forward on its next drive and had to punt, but the Scarlet Hawks’ defense came up with a big stop. Patrick Brogioli forced a six-yard loss on a second down play, and after a hold on third down, the Rocketeers were forced to punt.

But once again, North’s defense held Milford to negative yards and the Hawks had to punt.

Peterson connected with Pearce for 25-yards to help the drive get started and then kept it on a QB option, galloping all the way to the one-yard line with a 43-yard rush. McHugh plunged up the middle for the touchdown on the next play and a 20-0 lead with 4:11 left in the first half.

“I think we might have gotten over the hump tonight, I really do,” Johnson said. “Especially the way we performed offensively in the beginning of the game. I think we left some opportunities out there, a couple of guys that were open that didn’t get the ball. But I think we’re pretty close to where we need to be on offense, but there’s still room for improvement on both sides.”

Milford elected to switch its offense, moving from the double-wing to its spread formation, bringing in sophomore quarterback Colby Pires (7/19, 84 yards).

Although the Hawks’ drive stalled before the half, Pires completed a pass to junior Shapel Feaster (five catches, 65 yards) for the team’s first first down.

The home side seemed to feed off the bit of momentum it gained before the halftime break and used it to open the second half with a touchdown. Ryan O’Toole opened the half with a 13-yard run and a first down.

Then the Scarlet Hawks used a little trickery, having running back Will Pointer take the toss but instead of running, he heaved a pass that senior Tyler Joyce hauled in for a 46-yard completion.

Two plays later, Pires floated one into the end zone and Joyce was able to leap up and make the catch for a 14-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to 20-6.

“We made an adjustment to get out of our war set and go spread and I think that worked a little bit for us,” said MHS head coach Anthony Vizakis. “We have to do better and learn from this and regroup from this.

“It was good experience for our sophomore quarterback who I thought stood in there and played very well. When we watch the film tomorrow, we’ll get better from this. It’s there in spurts and the kids battled. We had a couple of negative plays that really hurt us but I think those are correctable.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Milford’s defense delivered on North’s first drive of the second half, forcing the Rocketeers to punt after gaining two first downs on its first two plays.

Pires hit Feaster for a first down to begin the drive, but North Attleboro’s Zach DeMattio come up with a 12-yard sack on first down, and a host of Rocketeers forced an 11-yard loss on Milford’s next run. Milford had to punt two plays later.

“The same thing happened last week,” Johnson said. “Sharon had the long kickoff return and the defense came out and held them to a field goal, and we blocked that field goal. I think the defense is maturing pretty well and coming up with some big stops.

“We hadn’t seen them in that spread formation very much on film. We really didn’t have a scouting report to go on for that offense. We just wanted to get some pressure on him as best he can. But he’s a good athlete and made some plays.”

North put an exclamation point on the game with its next drive. Taking the rest of the time in the third quarter, and over a minute of the fourth quarter, Big Red marched 68 yards on 10 plays and scored its fourth touchdown.

Peterson hit McHugh for 15-yards and a first down, Raneri had a two-yard run for a first down and then Peterson hit a wide-open Nolan Buckley up the middle for a 20-yard score and a 27-6 lead with 9:59 to play.

North Attleboro (3-1 overall, 2-0 Hockomock) will have its first big test of division play when it hosts Foxboro in a battle of Davenport unbeatens. Milford (1-3, 1-1) will travel to Sharon on Saturday for a 3:30 kickoff.

“The schedule has worked in our favor so far,” Johnson said. “We really challenged ourselves with our scrimmage schedule, then opened up with King Philip. It’s worked out pretty good because we’ve been a team that’s slow to develop. And I think we have developed and gotten better every week. Now the question is ‘are we good enough now to beat a good Foxboro team?’”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Football: 2017 Davenport Division Preview

2017 Davenport Football Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Davenport Football Preview

Canton

2016 Record: 3-8
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Bohane

Key/Returning Players: Brendan Albert, Jr., LB; Alec Ragusa, Sr., FB/LB; Jude Albert, Sr., OL/LB; Kearvens Theodore, Sr., OL/DL; Chris Benjamin, Sr., OL/DL; Tony Harris, Sr., SE/DB; Johnny Hagan, Soph., QB; Kyle Fitzgerald, Soph., FS; Ben Seaman, Jr., LB; Gersom Rivera, Soph., RB; Jack Connolly, Soph., OL/DL; Christian Walker, Sr., TE;

Outlook: The Bulldogs have a solid handful of experienced players back this season and will be looking to mix in a good amount of youth during the 2017 season.

While Canton will have plenty of seniors on the field, head coach Dave Bohane expects a good mix of juniors and even sophomores to get plenty of playing time. The youth starts under center as sophomore Johnny Hagan takes over as the team’s starting quarterback. He’ll have two big targets to work with in Tony Harris and Christian Walker as well as a versatile backfield that features Alec Ragusa and Gersom Rivera.

On the defensive side of the ball, a group of experienced linebackers, including Ragusa, Jude Albert, Brendan Albert and Ben Seamen will anchor the Bulldogs. Kearvens Theodore will be a big piece on the defensive line, alongside Chris Benjamin and Jack Connolly. Sophomore Kyle Fitzgerald will take on the responsibility of being a starting safety but will have plenty of experience in the secondary with seniors Cordell Smith and Marquise Montes manning the corners.

“Getting off to a good start is always important, and equally important is those later weeks,” Bohane said. “We have to keep bodies fresh and keep ourselves in a position to make playoffs. It’s a tough league, everyone we play will be a really good football team. We’re young but athletic and competitive, and I think that will make a difference.”

Foxboro

2016 Record: 5-6
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jack Martinelli

Key/Returning Players: Teddy Maher, Sr., SS/WR; Phil Dure, Sr., CB/WR; Louis Piccolo, Sr., FS; Devin Hassett, Sr., QB/SE/FS; Jake Addeche, Sr., WR/CB; Patrick Kaveny, Sr., DE; Mike Henri, Sr., RB/SS; Matt Pond, Sr., LB; Mike Luong, Jr., RB; Matt Suess, Sr., OL/DL; Anthony Capachietti, Sr., RB; Hunter Williams, Jr., OL; Andrew Longa, Jr., OL; Kade Treannie, Sr., OL.

Outlook: Foxboro is looking to ride the strength of a deep senior class to get back to the playoffs after missing out a season ago and also get back into the Davenport division title hunt after winning it two years ago.

The Warriors boast 35 seniors and have a handful of experienced juniors that are back after winning five games last season. Under center, senior Devin Hassett and junior Liam Foley are both in the running to take snaps. Hassett is also an option to catch the ball, giving the Warriors some flexibility on the offensive end. A strength that Foxboro will rely on on the offensive side of the ball is their playmaking ability at the skill positions. The Warriors boast multiple capable ball carriers (Mike Henri, Mike Luong, Anthony Capachietti) and pass catchers (Teddy Maher, Phil Dure, Jake Addeche) that can make things happen. Seniors Matt Suess and Kade Treannie and juniors Hunter Williams and Andrew Longa will see time on the offensive line.

Defensively, Foxboro will be looking to improve after giving up just over 29 points per game against division opponents a year ago. The Warriors will be relying on quickness and an aggressive demeanor to make plays on the defense end. Louis Piccolo, Maher, Hassett, Addeche and Henri are all likely candidates to see time in the secondary while Pat Kaveny (defensive end) and Matt Pond (linebacker) will lead the front seven.

“Chemistry amongst 35 seniors and a return to ‘old school Foxboro football’ will personify the 2017 season,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli.

Milford

2016 Record: 6-5
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Anthony Vizakis

Key/Returning Players: Ryan O’Toole, Sr., RB; Matt Curran, Sr., QB; Patrick Brogioli, Sr., OL/DL; Tyler Joyce, Sr., TE/DE; Cullen Burns, Sr., OL/DL; Kayden Kelley, Sr., WR/CB; Will Pointer, Sr., RB/LB; Shapel Feaster, Jr., RB/CB; Matt Annantuonio, Sr., RB/CB; David Abbatinozzi, Sr., OL/DL; Brendan White, Jr., TE/S; Josh Ligor, Jr., OL/DL; Chris Rivera, Sr., RB/LB; Jacob Eosco, Sr., OL/DL.

Outlook: First year head coach Anthony Vizakis is looking to the past as he begins his first season with the Scarlet Hawks. Vizakis is hoping the 2017 Hawks will pull from the tradition of the program as they look to get back to the playoffs once again this year.

It will certainly be a challenge as Milford graduated some of the most talented players in the league, from all different parts of the field. One constant is that the Hawks return quarterback Matt Curran for his senior year. Another familiarity for Curran will be running back Ryan O’Toole, who saw a lot of time last year alongside Blake Hill in the backfield. Receiver Kayden Kelley and tight end Tyler Joyce are also back after getting plenty of reps on the offensive end as well. Seniors Patrick Brogioli and Cullen Burns are two returning starters from the Hawks’ offensive line.

Defensively, the Scarlet Hawks will be looking to continue what they did in 2016, allowing just a shade over 17 points per game. While it was impressive that Milford allowed just 28 points total against Sharon, Canton and Foxboro, the Hawks will need to make a leap to try and halt the offensive firepower of North Attleboro and Stoughton. It will start up front with a tough line and then an athletic group of linebackers. Will Pointer and Chris Rivera will be two of those linebackers while Shapel Feaster and Matt Annantuonio will join Brendan White as members of the secondary.

“Milford football prides itself on the tradition of having ​​physically, and mentally tough football players,” Vizakis said. “That tradition is alive and well, and the energy and intensity coming out of our locker room and onto the practice field thus far has been infectious.”

North Attleboro

2016 Record: 9-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Final
Coach: Don Johnson

Key/Returning Players: Chad Peterson, Sr., QB/P; Zach DeMattio, Sr., RB/LB; Sam Bullock, Sr. OL/DL; Brad White, Sr. OL/DL; Mario Bresko, Sr., SE/DB; Ryan Clemente, Jr., OL/DL.

Outlook: With two straight league titles under its belt, North Attleboro isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon. With record-breaking quarterback Chad Peterson back under center for his senior season, the Rocketeers look to be the early favorite for another Davenport title.

After two straight impressive season, Peterson will look to lead this year’s Rocketeers to their second straight Davenport title and another deep run in the playoffs. While playmakers Bobby Mylod and Nick Rajotte are gone, Peterson will have running backs Zach DeMattio and Adam Eberle to work with and receivers Mario Bresko, Omar Jasseh and Ryan Gaumond when he drops back to throw. Junior Ryan Clemente already has a year’s experience under his belt and could be one of the most dominant lineman in the league this season. Sam Bullock, Brad White, John Bradley, Geoff Wilson, Jack Puccio, Aidan Harding and Joe Larkin will all be options alongside Clemente on the offensive line.

One of the biggest reasons for North’s success a year ago was its very impressive defense, which allowed just under 12 points per game (Hockomock League best). Big Red will have to replace some big names and might have to overcome some inexperience early on, but head coach Don Johnson notes there is good competition among the front seven and secondary. Bresko is one player that has experience in the secondary while DeMattio (linebacker) and Bullock (defensive tackle) will anchor the front seven.

“The team has worked hard in the offseason,” Johnson said. “We are confident that our strong scrimmage schedule (Marshfield, Braintree and Bridgewater-Raynham), and a Week 1 non-league game versus defending D2 Super Bowl champion King Philip, will help us prepare for the ultra-competitive Hockomock League schedule.”

Sharon

2016 Record: 6-5
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Morse

Key/Returning Players: Austin Dodes, Sr., WR/DB; Drew Naisuler, Sr., TE/DE; Coleman Loftus, Jr., OL/DL; Chris Gong, Jr., WR/DB; Sam Spencer, Jr., TE/LB; Aaron Strong, Jr., RB/LB; Jeremy Ruskin, Jr., QB.

Outlook: The 2017 version of the Sharon Eagles might be on the young side, but head coach Dave Morse is hoping that youth injects some energy into his squad.

The Eagles started and finished the 2016 season strongly, going 3-0 to begin and then closing with a win over Hopkinton and then a Thanksgiving Day win over rival Oliver Ames to finish over .500. Now, the Eagles will be trying to repeat that success while improving their league record. Junior Jeremy Ruskin is back under center after taking over late in the season last fall and will have senior Austin Dodes and tight end Drew Naisuler available as pass catching options. Junior Aaron Strong saw some carries last year and will likely be a feature back this season.

Defensively, the Eagles were one of the stingiest units in the entire league (just over 18 PPG). The Eagles held six of their 11 opponents under 14 points per game. Junior Coleman Loftus is a returning starter and a two-way lineman for the Eagles while junior linebacker Sam Spencer will look to make an impact this season. Chris Gong joins Dodes and Strong in the secondary while Naisuler will be a part of the Eagles’ front seven.

“It has been a pleasure coaching this group and seeing them make progress,” Morse said. “Despite being the youngest team I have coached, their commitment is refreshing and they motivate me to help them succeed.”

Stoughton

2016 Record: 8-3
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal
Coach: Greg Burke

Key/Returning Players: Evan Gibb, Jr., QB; Jason Joseph, Sr., DE/TE; Justin Ly, Sr., FB/LB; Colin Sanda, Sr., WR/DB; Ruben Gonzalez, Sr., WR/RB/DB; Alex Sjoquist, Sr., RB/DB; Paul Feeney, Sr., OL/DL; Anthony Burke, Sr., OL/DL.

Outlook: The Black Knights have had a strong stretch of success over the past couple of seasons and will try to continue that in 2017, despite graduating a very memorable senior class last season.

Gone are playmakers Ryan Sullivan and Izon Swain-Price, as well as linemen Lino Azul and Andrew Iverson and a handful of terrific role players. But, one key returning piece is junior quarterback Evan Gibb. Gibb took over early on during his sophomore season and looked very comfortable in his role. Now he will have to be a leader of the offensive unit. Justin Ly was the third member of Stoughton’s three-headed rushing attack a year ago and will likely be one of the team’s feature backs. Ly is a tough runner that can get yards up the middle but also has speed to get to the outside. Alex Sjoquist will likely also get carries while experienced receivers Colin Sanda and Ruben Gonzalez should see increased roles in 2017.

The Knights are well known for their defense during the successful stretch. While there will be a lot of new faces in new places, the Knights are relying on improved speed to go along with their strength. Jason Joseph is back after a solid junior campaign to lead the defensive line along with Paul Feeney, while Ly is joined by Anthony Burke as linebackers. Sanda, Gonzalez and Sjoquist will all see time in the secondary for Stoughton.

“We’re replacing so many kids from last year,” Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. “We hope to be ready without a lot of experience. We hope to compete and be healthy.”