Bulldogs Answer the Call in First Home Playoff Game

Canton football
Canton junior running back Kyle Fitzgerald had a big game, including a pair of touchdowns, as the Bulldogs beat Hanover in the program’s first home playoff game. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – At the final whistle, there wasn’t the type of celebration you would expect from a team that just played its first playoff game in decades, not to mention its first ever playoff game in front of its home fans. There was a quiet, subdued feeling as the Canton players surrounded their coaches to talk about a 27-13 win against no. 5 seed Hanover on Friday night at WWII Veterans Memorial Field.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think it was a learning experience,” said Canton coach Dave Bohane. “They are very excited about next week and believe me they are very happy but what you’re seeing there is more relief that the penalties and turnovers didn’t cost them.”

Junior running back Kyle Fitzgerald remarked, “Obviously, it was awesome. We came out here looking to win and we were confident. We had to overcome adversity, we had a whole lot of penalties and stuff, but we got it done. It feels good.”

While penalties slowed the game down, and cut short a couple of potential scoring drives for the hosts, Canton showed its resiliency in the second half. Hanover, which had struggled to sustain anything on offense, twice scored on big plays to cut the lead down to just a touchdown, but both times the Bulldogs answered with long possessions to extend the lead.

“It’s been the same thing all year, since the first game against D-R (Dighton-Rehoboth) when we were down at halftime, we came back,” Fitzgerald explained. “I know my team will come back after any adversity.”

Canton doesn’t have a lot of experience with the football playoffs, but the Bulldogs came out flying in the first quarter to jump in front by a couple scores.

After stuffing the Indians on the opening kickoff, the Canton defense forced a three-and-out and took over at its own 48. The offense went right to work with junior quarterback Johnny Hagan showing off his ability to make plays with his feet (15 carries, 87 yards) and his arm (7-of-17, 80 yards). He hit Gersom Rivera for a 23-yard completion on third down to get inside the five and then two plays later Brendan Albert punched it in from two yards out.

The Bulldogs were trying to send a message and they forced another three-and-out from the Hanover offense. On fourth down, punter Jack Delahunt rolled out to the far sideline and tried to make it to the sticks only to be cut down a yard short. Canton got the ball at the Indians 24.

Bohane said, “They wanted a finesse game and we wanted a power game and I thought we needed at the very beginning of the game we needed play on our terms. I thought for the most part we did, maybe to the point that we were a little over-aggressive and dealt with a lot of penalties.”

Hagan got 16 yards on second and 17 and then Rivera gained nine over a pair of carries. Fitzgerald (19 carries, 143 yards) took it from there, finding a seam from five yards out for a 14-0 lead at the end of the first 11 minutes.

“It kind of got the jitters out of our stomachs and gave us some breathing room,” said Fitzgerald about the quick start. “Obviously, they came back so if we didn’t have that lead early on then it could’ve been a different game.”

The game really could have been over by halftime. The defense continued to put pressure on Hanover quarterback Andrew Carroll, including a big pass rush from junior Jack Connolly and then a sack from Albert to get the ball back.

Canton marched right back into Hanover territory, with Hagan converting a fourth down play with a four-yard keeper. Fitzgerald then had the highlight of the night on a sweep to the left for 32 yards in which he hurdled a Hanover defensive back before being brought down at the Indians six. On the next play, the Bulldogs fumbled a handoff and lost possession.

After another defensive stand, the Bulldogs offense went on the move again. Fitzgerald had another big gain, this time for 35 yards, and Canton got as far as the Hanover 15 but then a holding call and a sack forced them back. A last-second pass to Rivera was tipped away and it was 14-0 at the break.

“I was very concerned that we didn’t put it away in the first half,” Bohane admitted. “We don’t commit a lot of turnovers but that was a turnover at the wrong time and it gave them a chance and we were fighting for the game into the fourth quarter.”

On its first possession of the second half, Hanover stunned the Canton crowd (and sideline) by finally finding a big play on offense. Despite Albert getting into the backfield and hitting Carroll as he threw, the Indians signal caller was able to get the ball downfield to Drew Berard, who beat his coverage for a 60-yard score.

The Bulldogs answered with a 17-play, 70-yard drive to regain the two-score advantage and eat up the final 8:44 of the third quarter. Hagan found Ryan Lentol on an eight-yard completion to convert a big third down and then Fitzgerald on a comeback route for nine yards on a fourth and eight. On third down, Hagan then connected with Jace Emma for a 13-yard score and a 20-7 lead.

“There were times that we didn’t move the chains when we needed it, like North Attleboro in the third quarter when we needed a big drive,” Bohane said, “So here we are a week later and we needed it and we got it. We had to make some adjustments but it was enough to win.”

Hanover came right back with a even more shocking play. On fourth and one, the Bulldogs had Evan Ritchie caught in the backfield, but he slipped out of the grasp of a would-be tackler and bolted up the Hanover sideline for a 66-yard score.

Rather than getting down, Canton just went back to work on offense, grinding out a 12-play, 72-yard, six-minute drive that sealed the win. Hagan gained 29 yards on a pair of keepers and had an 18-yard pass to Fitzgerald to get to the Hanover 20. After Fitzgerald got the Bulldogs got the ball to the two, Hagan was denied on a pair of sneaks, so the Bulldogs went back to Fitzgerald for the one-yard score to seal the win with three minutes to play.

Next Friday, Canton (7-1) will travel to Falmouth to face the top seeded Clippers. Fitzgerald was already looking forward to the trip. He said, “Foxboro almost did it tonight. (The Warriors lost 22-14 to Falmouth.) We know we can play with these guys. We were four points away from a potential one-seed, so we’re confident.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Late Stop Lifts North Attleboro To Share Of Davenport

North Attleboro football
North Attleboro’s Nick Raneri dives forward as Canton’s Kyle Fitzgerald (left) and Gersom Rivera attempt to bring him down. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – The North Attleboro football team has waited all season for its defense to come up with a game-changing play.

In the final regular season game, with their backs against the wall and a chance to share the Davenport division on the line, the defense finally delivered.

With just over a minute to go, Canton found itself inside the red zone down by four. On second and eight from the 18, the Bulldogs went for the go-ahead score. Junior quarterback Johnny Hagan was forced to throw under pressure, and junior Gersom Rivera waited in the end zone with open arms, but North Attleboro senior Omar Jasseh made a terrific leaping interception to rob Canton of a touchdown, securing a 14-10 win for the Rocketeers.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We’ve been all waiting all year [for that],” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “We really haven’t gotten a big play on defense all year. We’ve been hanging in and hanging in, and relying on our offense to chew up the clock. Tonight we needed our defense to step up and we finally got that big play.

“I was thinking it should have happened on three different plays, it felt like we could have picked it off. I think our kids were playing a little tentative and didn’t want to get burned deep when they probably could have made a play on the ball.”

Canton started its drive at the own 48 with 3:28 left in the game. After an incompletion and a three-yard rush, the Bulldogs quickly faced a third and seven scenario.

Hagan hit Ryan Lentol on a hitch route for eight yards to move the sticks, Rivera (seven carries, 35 yards) picked up six yards on the ground, and two plays later Hagan linked up with Jace Emma for 15-yards to get to the North 20-yard line. Two plays later, Jasseh made the play in the end zone to deny the Bulldogs the Davenport title outright.

“Credit to North, the pass rush started to get to us a bit,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “Johnny is a competitor, he tried to win the game, and he took a shot. North has good coaches, and they brought some kids, and I think they made Johnny get rid of the ball differently than he normally would. But I’m proud of my guys, they battled right to the wire as usual.

“We’ve come a long way. To be in a game of this magnitude, and still have some meaningful games to look forward to, that’s good for the program. I think we have a little rivalry with North Attleboro now. To win the Hockomock League is an accomplishment, and this was a pretty good game tonight. So I think this puts us in a good position heading into the playoffs.”

It was an exciting end to a second half that was dominated by both defenses. Before its final drive of the game, Canton’s first three chances of the second half all resulted in punts. The Bulldogs moved the ball 37 yards on their second drive, advancing into North territory but back-to-back negative plays forced a punt.

North Attleboro’s offense didn’t fare much better, but it was enough. The Rocketeers had a little success on their first drive of the second half, but a sack from Brendan Albert put North in a hole, and Canton forced a turnover on downs at midfield.

After getting the ball back, the Rocketeers hit the home run play they were looking for, but only after converting a fourth down. On 3rd and 16th, the Rocketeers spread things out but went with a QB draw and Nick Raneri (15 carries, 74 yards) sprinted up the middle for 15 yards. At their own 44, North went for it, and Raneri pounded his way for two yards and a first down.

On the next play, senior Brendan McHugh (12 carries, 106 yards) came across from the right side for a sweep but instead of going all the way across, the senior cut back up a gap on the right side and sprinted for a 54-yard touchdown to put North Attleboro up 14-10 with 54 seconds to go in the third quarter.

It was the only scoring play of the second half.

“We decided to try and spread them out a bit with our formation,” Johnson said of changes in the second half. “We were running a lot of double tight early, and we had success on the first drive of the game, but they have a hell of a defense and shut us down. At halftime, we thought we could loosen them up with the formation, and I think that helped free up McHugh a little.”

The Rocketeers had an ideal start to the contest. Canton’s first drive picked up 33 yards but stalled and was forced to punt. North’s offense went right to work, starting at its own 10-yard line.

North needed just five plays to go almost the entire length of the field. Raneri ran for 10 yards, McHugh went off for 14 yards, Raneri scrambled to find Ryan Gaumond for 42 yards and then went back to the ground for 20 more yards himself.

On first and goal, Raneri kept it himself and went in from four yards out for a 7-0 lead with 5:55 to go in the first.

“McHugh really has it all, he’s fast and he probably doesn’t get enough credit for his toughness,” Bohane said. “He runs hard and he’s a hard kid to bring down, especially with his speed. One of our coaches said he’s the best back in the league and at times he certainly looked like it. He’s good and Raneri is a handful, and they made some really nice play calls with him at the right time.”

The Bulldogs finally got things going offensively right at the end of the first quarter. Hagan ran for seven yards and hit Emma for a third down conversion. On the final play of the opening quarter, Hagan hit Kyle Fitzgerald (96 all purpose yards) up the seam for a 39-yard pass.

On the first play of the second quarter, Hagan pitched it to Rivera on the right side and the junior scampered in to make it 7-7.

Canton’s defense got a stop to get the ball back and used eight plays to move into North territory, gaining 43 yards. But a holding play hurt the drive and the Bulldogs settled for a 34-yard field goal from junior Owen Lehane, taking a 10-7 lead into halftime.

The win gives North Attleboro a share of the 2018 Davenport division title, marking the fourth straight year that the Rocketeers have won a league title. It’s the first time in program history that North has won four straight.

“It was big for us to still have a chance at the title,” Johnson said after losing to Stoughton last week. “This is our fourth consecutive title for us, no North Attleboro team has ever won four in a row. The loss last week was also our first loss in the league since 2014, so the kids were feeling down about that too. But they still had an opportunity in front of them to do what no other senior group has done, so that was a real motivator.

“[Canton] is a hell of a football team. We’re sharing the title with them, and they deserve that share of it. They have a great football team over there, and the scary thing is they are all juniors, but I’ll worry about that next year.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“As high as we were for this game, we can kind of breath a little bit and focus on the playoffs,” Bohane said. “We’re really excited to be in the playoffs and I honestly can’t wait to find out who we’re playing and get to work. We wanted to win this game badly but we wanted to play competitive and come out healthy. And I think we’re in a good position moving forward.”

North Attleboro football (4-1 Hockomock, 5-2 overall) likely earns a home game in the D3 South playoffs with the victory, though final seeds aren’t announced until late in the weekend. The Rocketeers will also likely return to Community Field for the first round playoff game. Canton (4-1, 6-1) will also likely host a game in Division 5 South.

Canton Rides Defensive Performance Past Stoughton

Canton football
Canton’s Brendan Albert (35) and Brian Campagna (51) sack Stoughton’s George Currier. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – For three and a half quarters, the Canton defense was having its way against the Stoughton offense.

The Bulldogs forced the Black Knights to punt on each of their first seven drives, holding the visitors to negative yards on three of those drives. Stoughton had just one first down early on in the fourth quarter.

But with just under six minutes to go, Stoughton’s offense finally clicked. The Knights cut a 14-point deficit in half with 5:34 to go, and got the ball back down just one score with 1:56 to play.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

A big pass play set the Black Knights up in striking distance, but the Bulldogs defense, as it had for the majority of the game, came up with a stop with under 30 seconds to play.

On fourth down, Canton junior Robbie Gallery tracked down Stoughton quarterback John Burke for a sack, preserving a 14-7 win for the Bulldogs.

“I didn’t feel comfortable until Robbie made that play at the end,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “It reminded me of that 2014 game when [Stoughton] drove down the field and won it at the end. Robbie made the play, and he played great. This year, it seems like another kid steps up each game and it was Robbie’s week.”

Canton’s defense did a nice job bottling up Stoughton’s rushing attack. The furthest the Black Knights for prior to its final two drives was 10 yards over midfield — its lone time into Canton territory through three quarters.

A sack from Owen Lehane on first down forced Stoughton starting quarterback George Currier to the sideline. Burke, a sophomore, took over under center and the Knights had one of their biggest plays of the night — a 22-yard reverse from Ajahn Rue — to spark the offense.

After Rue’s run, sophomore Christopher Ais took a sweep and went for 19 yards to get into the red zone. After Canton’s defense stuffed a rush attempt, Burke floated one to the near pylon on the right side and senior Alex Iverson did a nice job fighting through contact and getting a foot down to get the Knights on the board, down 14-7.

Canton’s offense did its best to run time off the block with quarterback Johnny Hagan (5/9, 44 yards; 21 carries 121 yards) converting a third down with his legs. But a sack on the next play from Stoughton’s Jerry Brisson put the Dogs in a long distance scenario. Canton gained eight yards on the next to plays but had to punt with two minutes to go.

Stoughton’s final drive got off to a rocky start when Canton senior Ben Seaman (two sacks) came on a blitz from the blind side, taking Burke down for a loss of 7 yards.

But the Black Knights made things interesting on the next play as Burke lofted one down the left sideline and Rue used his speed to get under it for a 45-yard catch, down to the Canton 30-yard line with 1:09 to play.

But that’s when Canton’s defense came through again. A pass and catch from Burke to Ais was stopped at the line of scrimmage on first down, Burke was forced to throw it away on second down, and a pass over the middle was short on third down.

On fourth down, Burke was able to buy some time by getting out of the pocket but Gallery came flying in to make the tackle.

It was an impressive showing for the Bulldogs defense, which allowed a total of 122 yards while holding the Knights to 0-for-8 on third down. And they did almost all of it without junior linebacker James Murphy, who Bohane called the quarterback of the defense.

“Defense was the story for us,” Bohane said. “Murphy is our linchpin on defense so for our kids to play the bulk of the game without him, they were impressive. All the other key guys really stepped up like Brian Campagna, Brendan Albert, Ben Seaman, and of course Robbie Gallery, who kind of filled into Murphy’s shoes. I’m proud of them to keep plugging away, they are a resilient group.”

Stoughton’s defense also had a strong showing, forcing the Bulldogs to punt on six times and holding off another drive as the first half came to a close.

However, Canton’s offense was able to find the end zone twice — both on eight play, 65-yard drives.

After punting on its first drives, the Dogs moved the sticks when Hagan connected with Jace Emma for 11 yards. Hagan followed that with a 20-yard scramble on a broken play, and Gersom Rivera had runs of 10 and 23-yards, the latter converting a third down and getting the Dogs down to the 1-yard line.

Hagan took it in from there, following his line in for a 1-yard sneak and a 7-0 lead with 7:23 left in the first quarter.

Stoughton’s best drive of the opening half went for 41 yards, all on a run from Iverson. But an incomplete pass and two runs that netted no yards stopped the Black Knights from advancing.

Canton’s defense picked up where it left off, forcing Stoughton backward on its opening drive of the second half. After a three-and-out, Canton took over at its own 35-yard line and orchestrated what turned out to be the winning drive.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Hagan moved the sticks with a run of his own, connected with Ryan Lentol on second down, got a first down on a Stoughton penalty, and then finished the drive with three straight runs from different players: Rivera for 8, Hagan for 12, and Kyle Fitzgerald with a 9-yard touchdown run.

“We’ve been able to shift gears on offense,” Bohane said. “Some teams have been able to take away something we’ve been doing, and no one is better at that than [Stoughton] Coach [Greg] Burke. He’s going to take away what you do well. It was a game of just constantly finding a way.”

Canton football (5-0 overall, 3-0 Hockomock) is back in action on Friday when it hosts Sharon. Stoughton (2-3, 1-2) hits the road to take on North Attleboro at Beaupre Field.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 09/21/18


Today’s games are listed below.

Game of the Week – FootballClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.
Oliver Ames, 6 @ Taunton, 30 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (T) Noah Leonard 8-yard pass to Wesner Charles, Coby Adams XP good; (T) N. Leonard 14-yard pass to Sean Quinlan, XP failed; (OA) Nathan Cabral 9-yard rush, XP failed.
3rd Quarter: (T) N. Leonard 26-yard pass to W. Charles, C. Adams XP good; (T) Josh Lopes 10-yard rush, C. Adams XP good.
4th Quarter: (T) C. Adams 21-yard field goal.

Football
King Philip, 12 @ Attleboro, 2 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 16-yard rush, XP blocked; (A) Justin Cote XP block, Kevin Kevin Velazquez fumble return for 2pt conversion; (KP) Cole Baker 36-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: (KP) C. Baker 27-yard field goal.
4th Quarter: No scoring.

Canton, 14 @ Milford, 12 – FinalCanton’s Brendan Albert blocked a field goal attempt as time expired to lift the Bulldogs to a win on the road. It was Albert’s second block of the game after he got his hands on an extra point attempt in the second quarter.
1st Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 29-yard pass to Kyle Fitzgerald, Owen Lehane XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Colby Pires 22-yard pass to Shapel Feaster, XP blocked.
3rd Quarter: (C) J. Hagan 41-yard pass to Ryan Lentol, O. Lehane XP good; (M) C. Pires 18-yard pass to S. Feaster , 2pt failed.
4th Quarter: No scoring.

Foxboro, 16 @ Stoughton, 13 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (F) Russell Neale 21-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: (S) Jeff Grier 55-yard rush, Josh Cocchi XP good; (F) Mike Luong 2-yard rush, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (S) J. Grier 92-yard rush, 2pt failed; (F) Liam Foley 25-yard pass to Rob Fay, R. Neale XP good.

Franklin, 6 @ Mansfield, 24 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
1st Quarter: (M) Aidan Sacco 14-yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) M. DeBolt 35-yard field goal; (M) Vinnie Holmes 2-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (M) Cincere Gill 46-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; (F) Nick Gordon 56-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, 2-point conversion failed.

Boys Soccer
Canton, 2 @ King Philip, 1 – FinalKing Philip took the lead just over the midway point of the first half but Canton leveled before the break and scored a late winner to grab two points. Good pressure from Owen Teixeira led to chance for Nilaish Sen at the top of the box and he put the Warriors up 1-0. Canton’s Paolo Ruggeri leveled the score with just over five minutes left in the first half and senior Griffin Roach buried a free kick with just two minutes to play for the game-winner.

Foxboro, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 2 – FinalOliver Ames scored twice in the final 10 minutes to grab two points at home. Sophomore Colin Milliken scored the game-winner in the 72nd minute, finishing off a cross from classmate Jimmy Keane. Minutes later, sophomore Kevin Louhis converted a feed from senior Sean Flaherty. OA coach John Barata credited Matt Nikiciuk, Haendal Louhis, and Adam Freeman for strong play in the midfield and Harry Ahearn, Niko Byron, Aaron MacDonald and Matt Nosalek for their efforts defensively. Jacob Lerman, the OA senior goalie, earned his fourth shutout of the season.

Stoughton, 2 @ Franklin, 3 – FinalFranklin built a 3-0 lead but had to hold off a furious Stoughton rally to beat the Knights. Stoughton used an own goal and a tally from John Neves (from Fabi Ponce de Leon) to get within a goal. The visitors nearly found the equalizer but Franklin’s defense was able to fend the Knights to get the win.

Milford, 0 @ Mansfield, 1 – FinalMansfield’s Luke Savoie converted a penalty kick in the 73rd minute to lead the Hornets to a win. In a very even game, both defensive units played very well. For Milford, Joey Madden, Zach Browne, Joao Boaventura, and Lucas Caetano kept the Hornets’ attack at bay. Mansfield’s Derek Meuth, Ethan Brill-Cass, Sam Nugent, and Cam Eddy were massive in earning the shutout.

North Attleboro, 0 vs. Hingham, 0 – FinalA Hingham defender cleared the ball off the line, robbing North Attleboro of the best chance of the game as the Rocketeers and Harbormen finished level. Kyle Brier notched his fifth shutout of the season for the Big Red.


Girls Soccer
King Philip, 8 @ Canton, 1 – FinalCanton took a lead inside the opening three minutes of the game, but the KP offense exploded for four goals before halftime and added four more after the break for a convincing win. Chloe Layne recorded a hat trick and Avery Snead had a brace and an assist to lead the Warriors. Jenny Cullen and Makayla Griffin each had a pair of assists, Ally Stanton scored a pair of goals, and Jaida Caruso scored once for KP.

Oliver Ames, 1 @ Foxboro, 2 – FinalFoxboro scored in the final moments of the first half to tie the game, and found the winner halfway through the second half to beat Oliver Ames. “We battled the entire 80 minutes, I’m so proud of this team,” said Foxboro head coach Katie Stalcup. OA seized the lead in the 26th minute when Maeve Hogan scored off a corner kick from Brianna Gibson. Foxboro freshman Kaitryn Franchino leveled the match with three minutes left in the first half. Warrior sophomore Jordyn Collins scored the game-winner in the 23rd minute, finishing off a feed from Katelyn Mollica. OA head coach Britt Sellmayer added that Abby Hodges, Abby Evin, and Erin Holmberg played well for OA.

Franklin, 9 @ Stoughton, 0 – FinalEmily Landry had two goals and an assist to lead the Panthers in a big win. Sydney St. Marie and Carly Alston each had a brace, Stella Regan added a goal and two assists, Anna Balkus had a goal and an assist, and Erin Quaile had a goal for Franklin. Sam Powderly, Kaylee DeSimone, and Calen Frongillo all had assists in the win. Nicole Weir had a strong game for the Black Knights.

Mansfield, 2 @ Milford, 0 – FinalSteph Kemp and Katy Garvin scored second half goals to keep Mansfield unbeaten in the league. Kemp also had an assist, as did Maria Sevastos.

Field Hockey
Attleboro, 6 vs. Bishop Feehan, 2 – FinalAttleboro junior Anna Beck scored a hat trick to lead the Bombardiers over visiting Bishop Feehan. Alex Compton added a pair of goals and Eliza Sabilla scored once for Attleboro.

Franklin, 1 vs. Needham, 7 – FinalFranklin’s Victoria Quinn scored in the first half on an assist from Cassi Ronan but the Panthers fell at home to Needham. Quinn’s goal had Franklin tied 1-1 at half with the Rockets but Needham’s offense exploded in the second half. Anna Jardine made four saves while Neilee Hess had one stop.

Volleyball
Mansfield, 0 @ Bishop Feehan, 3 – FinalThe Hornets pushed the Shamrocks to the brink but ultimately fell on the road 3-0 (17-25, 22-25, 29-31). “It was a great team effort and they worked really hard and played tough from beginning to end. I am really proud of their effort,” said Mansfield head coach Melissa Heeden. Greenly Kelly had 10 kills, Katie Dardinski had 13 service points and eight digs, and Sam Sternberg had 18 digs and eight service points for Mansfield.

North Attleboro, 1 @ Taunton, 3 – FinalTaunton rallied after dropping the first set to the win the next three and get a win over the visiting Rocketeers, 3-1 (19-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-16). Jaime Brown had a standout game, dishing out 32 assists along with four aces. Michaela Felici had a team-high 11 kills, Kamila Cuevas added nine kills, seven blocks, and three aces, and Sam Silviera chipped in with seven kills and four blocks. “It was a great team effort all around,” said THS head coach Toby Chaperon. For North Attleboro, Hayley Gaskin had 20 assists and Lauren Antonetti put down 10 kills.

Oliver Ames, 3 vs. Brockton, 1 – FinalOliver Ames defended its home court against the Boxers, taking the final two sets to earn a 3-1 win (25-23, 21-25, 25-22, 25-12). Junior Allison Barth had a strong game for the Tigers, finishing with seven kills. Sadie Homer added 30 digs and three aces, Jordan Bosse notched 13 kills and four assists, Caitlin Cavanaugh added 12 kills, and Allie Kemp (27) and Sarah Litwack (23) combined for 50 assists.

Golf
Canton, 270 @ Foxboro, 273 – Final (6 cards)Tied after four cards, and again after five, Canton prevailed on the sixth card to edge out Foxboro. Tommy Dimock earned match medalist honors, shooting a low round of 40. Thomas Singleton carded a 45 while Mike Gobbi, Mike Leonetti, and Andrew Middleton all shot 46. Conor Hunter’s 47 ended up being the difference for the Bulldogs. Charlie Baughan had the top score for Foxboro, shooting a 43. Matt Lathrop and Jon Dowling each shot 44 for the Warriors.

Franklin, 249 @ Medway, 291 – FinalFranklin earned a win over Medway, who uses six cards for final scoring. Quinten Fero was the medalist, leading the way with a low-round of 38 for the Panthers. Jake Blaney, Matt D’Errico, and Jack Paterson each shot a 40 for Franklin.

Mansfield, 161 @ North Attleboro, 155 – FinalNorth Attleboro’ Matt Wanless shot an even par round of 35 to pace the Rocketeers to an impressive win over Mansfield. Nathan Morreale had a two-over par round of 37 on the middle course at Heather Hill to lead Mansfield.

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.

Canton Pulls Away From Foxboro In Fourth Quarter

Canton boys basketball
Canton’s Devin Foster drives to the basket in the first half against Foxboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – In a game when points are at a premium, even the smallest of runs can make the biggest difference.

After six lead changes in the third quarter alone, Canton rattled off an 8-0 burst over a two-minute span to give the Bulldogs their largest lead of the game. The hosts never looked back from there, earning a key 61-48 win over Foxboro to give the Bulldogs sole possession of first place in the Davenport.

“That was just a great basketball game,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “The score says it was a 13 point game but it really wasn’t, free throws extended it at the end, it really could have gone either way. Two teams that play really hard-nosed basketball, I thought the stars were stars…[Devin] Foster and [Tony] Harris for us, [Brandon] Borde and [Joe] Morrison for them. Both teams have really solid role players…just a really awesome high school basketball game. And my hat’s off to Foxboro, they do a really good job with their guys, they’re always well coached and well prepared.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton junior Devin Foster (24 points, five rebounds) banked in a step-back three-pointer at the buzzer of the third quarter to give the Bulldogs a 44-43 lead, and arguably, more importantly, the momentum heading into the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs led by one (10-9) at the end of the first and a late three from Foxboro senior Teddy Maher sent the teams into the locker rooms tied 26-26. Neither side led by more than six points through three-quarters of play.

After Foxboro scored the first basket of the fourth to retake the lead, 45-44, the Warriors’ offense went quiet. Canton’s Tony Harris (23 points, six rebounds) started the run with a pair of free throws, Foster drained a deep three from straight away, and after a steal from Ryan Lentol, Harris hit a trey of his own to give the Dogs its largest lead at 52-45 with 3:32 to play.

The Warriors couldn’t answer as they had a turnover on the ensuing possession and then three straight misses. With just over a minute left and the shot clock winding down, Foster took his man baseline and finished at the rim for a 54-45 lead.

Foxboro finally broke its scoreless streak (spanning 6:20) when sophomore Brandon Borde (17 points, seven rebounds) hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to seven, but Canton hit seven of nine free throw attempts in the final minute while the Warriors went without a field goal.

Canton outscored Foxboro 17-5 in the final frame.

“Foster’s three at the end of the third quarter I think really changed the momentum of the game,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “I think it gave Canton a big boost and kind of sucked away some of our energy, unfortunately. Canton was obviously very well prepared and they were prepared to take away some of the things we like to do offensively and they were able to make things really difficult on us. Give Canton credit for their defense. I think it had to do with their defense more than anything else.

“Foster and Harris were tremendous, it seemed every time we started to build momentum, one of those two hit a big shot. They hit huge shots time and again, and they were really clutch. They did what big-time players do and really carried Canton. We’ll have to figure out how to do a better job next time around.”

Canton built a 10-4 lead through the first seven minutes of the first quarter, holding the Warriors to just 1-for-11 shooting. But after hauling in an offensive rebound, Joe Morrison (17 points, seven rebounds) drained a three and Borde scored on a layup on the next possession to bring Foxboro within one after eight minutes.

The Bulldogs never trailed in the second period either, but couldn’t pull away thanks to Foxboro’s work on the offensive glass. Harris had a three erased when Borde answered off of Morrison’s offensive rebound.

Jake Verille gave Canton its largest lead of the first half with a layup (19-13) but Borde converted at the rim, later hit a free throw and Morrison hit a pair of free throws to get Foxboro within one. Harris finished a traditional three-point play only for Borde to keep Foxboro close with a triple. Foster and Bobby Harrison traded baskets, Austin Maffie then put Canton up three, but Maher’s triple tied the game.

“A game that tight, every possession is so valuable that they really stick out…an offensive rebound really sticks out cause its an extra possession,” Gordy said. “That game came down to who was able to execute and grind out stops. Any offensive board or tip we got or they got, it just seemed huge.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

In the third quarter, Morrison hit a three to put Foxboro up 29-28, only for Foster to convert to give Canton the lead back. Morrison drained another triple but four straight from Foster put Canton ahead again. Matt Rongione went on a personal 5-0 run and two free throws from Borde gave Foxboro its biggest lead (40-35) with 2:30 in the third.

“Devin was just feeling it in that quarter,” Gordy said. “He had 11 in the quarter and it felt like he got hot at the right time, he put us on his back for a quarter and we were able to come out and play better team basketball in the fourth to put it away.”

Kyle Fitzgerald and Lentol scored back-to-back but a three from Anthony Mollica kept Foxboro up four. Harris brought Canton within two before Fitzgerald’s offensive rebound set Foster up for his buzzer beater.

“Kyle Fitzgerald, all that kid does it make toughness plays,” Gordy said. “He’s undersized but he plays big. He’s our catalyst, he does so much for us. He’s a spark plug off the bench and his contributions tonight should absolutely be noted.”

“I thought in the second half they started to get more of those 50-50 balls, more of the loose balls, more of the rebounds in the paint on both ends,” Gibbs said. “Those plays add up and can make a huge difference over the course of a game. Especially these grind-it-out Davenport games, every possession matters. If you can get your team an extra shot or extra possession, it’s huge. I thought Canton was really hungry in the second half…that huge three by Foster at the end of the third was off an offensive rebound. And we weren’t able to get enough of those for us in the second half.”

Canton boys basketball (6-1 Hockomock, 8-1 overall) moves into sole possession of first place of the Davenport and will be in action again on Friday at Stoughton. Foxboro (5-2, 9-2) will look to bounce back the same night when it travels to North Attleboro.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 13-10
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Mark Houle

Attleboro will be looking to its youth to try and get back to the state tournament this season. With just two seniors and four juniors, half of the Bombardiers’ roster is made up of underclassman.

But just because the Bombardiers are young, doesn’t mean they aren’t experienced. Senior Nate Douglas, a returning starter, has been getting minutes on varsity since his freshman year, and classmate Elvin Sam emerged as a reliable shooter off the bench last season. Sophomores Qualeem Charles and Bryant Ciccio made big impacts during their rookie campaigns last season. Charles (6’5) will be a big presence in the post while Ciccio will be one of the primary ball handlers.

Charles will be joined by sophomore Jason Weir (6’2) in the post while junior forward Dom Victor will be a game-changer on both ends of the floor. At 6’4, his athleticism will cause a lot of matchup problems for opposing defenses. Douglas and Ciccio will be joined by Mason Houle, Kevin Velazquez and Tim Callahan in the backcourt.

“We will need to have our younger players step up this year,” said AHS head coach Mark Houle. “We expect to be a well-rounded team who can play a fast pace game or well in a half court set.”

Canton

2016-2017 Record: 9-11
2016-2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ryan Gordy

The goal is pretty clear for Canton this season. Not only do the Bulldogs want to reach the postseason for the first time since 2014, they want to compete for the Davenport division title.

With two of the top players back in the lineup, both goals are reasonable. Senior Tony Harris and junior Devin Foster, both HockomockSports.com Third Team selections a year ago, return to anchor a Bulldogs’ team that just missed out on the playoffs last year. They’ll be joined by Austin Maffie and Jake Verille, both returning starters, as well as Paul Corcoran, Kyle Fitzgerald and Ryan Lentol, who all have varsity experience.

Harris and Foster give Canton an immediate edge on offense with two talented scorers, but it will be important for others to step up and make plays all season long. On defense, the Bulldogs will rely on their quickness to try and bother teams.

“This is a fun group who have played a lot of basketball together, they like each other which helps with team chemistry,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “Hopefully that will translate into a good product on the court.”

Foxboro

2016-2017 Record: 12-10
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Jon Gibbs

The mantra “Defense Wins Championships” has been proven in many different sports, at many different levels. The 2017-2018 Foxboro Warriors are hoping that will be the case this season.

Head coach Jon Gibbs says that this team has the potential to be the best defensive team that he’s coached. “We have a lot of quick, tough, physical guards that move their feet well on the perimeter and are committed to the defensive end of the court,” he said. “I think this should be a major strength of our team.”

It helps that Foxboro returns the reigning HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year in senior Joe Morrison. As a junior, Morrison routinely limited opponents’ best offensive player, and was a big reason why the Warriors allowed just 55.9 points per game.

Sophomore Brandon Borde returns to the starting lineup alongside Morrison. Borde had a strong freshman season and will likely see his role increase this year, especially on the offensive end of the court. Seniors Teddy Maher and Matt Rognione, both with plenty of varsity experience will both see plenty of time this year and will be relied upon to make plays.

“We have a very good mix of experience and youth,” Gibbs said. “Our seniors have shown excellent leadership thus far, practices have been competitive, and everyone is working hard to earn their spot and get better. We hope to keep building and improving each day so that we are peaking and playing our best basketball at the end of the season.”

Franklin

2016-2017 Record: 22-5
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 State Final
Coach: CJ Neely

After making it to the Division 1 State Final a year ago, the Panthers are hoping to be just as competitive this season. With three starters back, and a handful of experienced and talented bench players, the expectations for Franklin are certainly high.

Losing Josh Macchi to graduation will hurt, but the Panthers return their best player in senior Paul Mahon, along with two terrific young talents in junior Jalen Samuels and sophomore Chris Edgehill. When playing at his best, Samuels’ athleticism and offensive skills make him one of the toughest marks in the league. Edgehill really turned it on in the tournament and if he can sustain that level of play throughout the regular season, the Panthers will be a favorite for the league title.

Seniors Alex Klowan, Matt Elias, Jack Rodgers and Gavin Farnan all picked up valuable minutes a season ago and will be key pieces for the Panthers, whether its apart of the starting line up for coming off the bench. Having so many experienced players ready to come off the bench should give Franklin the upper hand on a lot of teams.

“Our strength on the offensive end will be in our balance and willingness to share the ball and create great scoring opportunities for the team,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “On defense, we hope to make our opponents uncomfortable at all times and really focus on getting stops as a unit.”

King Philip

2016-2017 Record: 8-13
2016-2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mark Champagne

After losing just three seniors that played valuable minutes last season, and a full season complete under head coach Mark Champagne, King Philip is looking to take the next step this year and get back to the postseason.

The biggest shoes to fill are those left by Seth Sullivan and Will Weir, but the Warriors have five players back that either started or saw significant varsity minutes a season ago for a team that was just a couple games away from making the playoffs. Not only were they just a couple of games off, they were competitive in almost every game, including a three-point loss to Attleboro, a one-point loss to Taunton, and a three-point loss to Mansfield in a four-game span.

Seniors Tom Madden, Pharoah Davis, and Nolan Bradley are all back this season, along with juniors Kyle Layman and Bruce Santillus. Layman and Madden (both 6’4) will give the Warriors size in the frontcourt while Davis, one of the most experienced players in the league, will be the premier ball handler. Bradley provides King Philip with a threat from beyond the three-point line and Santillus showed this offseason the ability to fill the scoresheet up.

“With more familiarity comes trust, and a more comfortable time spent in the gym this season,” Champagne said. “Guys have worked hard in the offseason and we expect it to pay dividends as we get into our schedule. We have good depth and good leadership.”

Mansfield

2016-2017 Record: 23-3
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Final
Coach: Mike Vaughan

This might be the most turnover we’ve seen the Hornets have in quite some time, but just because there will be a lot of new faces doesn’t meet much will change for the Hornets.

Expectations are still sky high, as Mansfield will be looking to compete for another Kelley-Rex title (Mansfield has won five straight division titles). And when it comes to the postseason, the Hornets are aiming to get back to at least the spot they got to last year – the D1 South Final – with aspirations to go further.

All six seniors that graduated all played important roles over the past couple of years for the Hornets, including last year’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Sam Goldberg. However, Mansfield does bring back experience in Tyler Boulter, John McCoy, Ryan Otto and Sam Hyland. Senior Nick Ferraz will give Mansfield some depth in the frontcourt after missing last year to injury, and senior transfer Justin Vine gives the Hornets another shooting option.

Junior Damani Scott showed glimpses at the end of last when he was called up while Khristian Conner and Tommy Dooling should see increased roles this season.

“I think our strength will be controlling the tempo on offense and having a bend don’t break defensive mindset,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I think we have lots of options with going small ball, playing with a taller lineup, or a good shooting line up. That creates lots of tough matchups over the course of the game.”

Milford

2016-2017 Record: 11-12
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D2 Central Quarterfinal
Coach: Paul Seaver

Although the Hawks graduated three of their top scorers from last year, expectations are still high in Milford. It will be tough to replace the offensive output of Zack Tamagni, Anthony Arcudi, and Nate Davila, but the Hawks will be relying on their size this season to get the offense going.

Senior Kayden Kelley is back for his third year starting on varsity and will be an important piece on both ends for Milford. Standing at 6’4, Kelley is a tough matchup and is one of the best rebounders in the league. He averaged 14.3 boards per game a year ago and led the league in double-doubles. Senior Shane Cosquete will start at point guard again this year, and will be relied upon on to set the offense in motion. He will likely be relied upon for more scoring this season.

Junior Brendan White will join the starting lineup after coming off the bench in 23 years ago. A physical presence, White brings energy and defensive toughness to the lineup. Transfers Andew Fraioli (6’5) and Joey Everett (6’3) give the Hawks depth in the frontcourt.

“We’ve improved statistically offensively and defensively over each of the past three seasons and that’s a trend that we will be hoping to continue here in 2017-2018,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver.

North Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 15-8
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Sean Mulkerrins

It’s no surprise that after graduating four starters, and the team’s sixth man that it will be a youth revolution in Big Red Country. Starters Brent Doherty, Johnny Friberg, Kyle McCarthy and Tommy Reynolds are gone, as well as Moni Cuevas, who played plenty of minutes off the bench.

The one returning starter is senior Chad Peterson, a familiar face in the Rocketeers’ lineup since his freshman year. And all four of the other returning players – senior Derek Shanks and juniors Matt Seavey, Josh Montague and Nate Gonsalves – all saw plenty of minutes last season.

While Peterson will likely take on a leadership role and see increased point production, expect Montague to emerge as a leading scorer for the Rocketeers. Shanks can stretch the floor some and hit mid-range jumpers, Seavey is a solid option in the post, and Gonsalves is a capable ball handler.

Offensive, North will rely on its size. On top of Seavey and Shanks, the Rocketeers have a pair of 6’6 forwards in Jacob Petersen and Owen Nassaney to add depth and size to the frontcourt. Junior Jonathan James, recovering from a football injury, will likely factor in as well.

“We are really looking forward to seeing how this new group gels,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “With a lot of new faces, its really been a preseason spent trying to find our identity. We know we need to grow up really fast as the Hock won’t give us any nights off. We’re really pleased with how this group has responded to the coaching and is accepting the challenges that lay ahead. We are excited to see what this team can accomplish together.”

Oliver Ames

2016-2017 Record: 13-11
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Don Byron

Oliver Ames surpassed most expectations in its first year in the Kelley-Rex division, coming in third and opening the playoffs with a road win at Milton.

But the toughest part about the Kelley-Rex is that the challenge gets harder and harder every year. And with Oliver Ames losing three starters – Carter Evin, Nick Welch, and Dylan Mahoney – to graduation, the Tigers will be facing an uphill battle. The good news is that the Tigers have seniors Jack Spillane and Matt Muir back this year. Both were starters a year ago, and Spillane showed the ability to really fill up the stat sheet, scoring 25 points or more on three occasions.

Junior Ethan Eckstrom, a center, will see more minutes this season and his size will be key to helping defend opposing teams. Senior Noah Fitzgerald showed last year how much of a pest he can be on the defensive side of the ball, and the Tigers will rely on him to do so again this year.

Junior Jake Erlich earned his way into the lineup and picked up valuable experience last season. He will likely see an increased role this season and his strength help the Tigers in the post.

Sharon

2016-2017 Record: 7-13
2016-2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrew Ferguson

It will be tough to replace Ricardo Ripley at point guard, but the good news for Sharon is that the majority of the Eagles that played valuable minutes last year as returning this season.

Senior Malik Lorquet broke out of his shell last year and showed that he can take over a game. Now a senior, Lorquet will be a focal point on both sides of the court for the Eagles. Senior Jimmy Fitzhenry can catch fire at any moment, and when he does, he is one of the most dangerous shooters in the league.

Alex Kaufmann also showed glimpses last year as a sophomore, both as a ball handler and a scorer. Between him, Lorquet and Fitzhenry, the Eagles have a solid offensive core to rely on. Jayvon Monteiro is one of the most passionate players in the league and will see an increased role at guard and be key to Sharon’s defense. Aidan Kane, Ben Kaplan, and Aaron Strong will all be important players off the bench for Sharon.

“Our goal is to improve upon last year, the end of the year was a confidence boost for our returning players and we’re hoping to carry over that momentum to this year,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We have an experienced group of starters, but will be looking for our less experienced players to make a jump and help us at the varsity level.”

Stoughton

2016-2017 Record: 5-15
2016-2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: John Gallivan

Stoughton will be looking to improve on last year’s season, and the best way to do that will be to improve on the defensive end of the court.

The Black Knights haven’t had too much trouble on the offensive end, and with leading scoring Cam Andrews back for his senior year, it likely won’t be a big issue this year either. But the Knights have allowed a league-high in points each of the last two seasons.

Andrews led the Hockomock League in scoring last year with 17.8 points per game and will demand the attention of opposing defenses. Senior Colin Sanda can also hit from the outside and will be a solid second option for the Black Knights, who graduated eight players including reliable scoring options Cam Gomes and Matthew Valle.

In the frontcourt, junior David Bell (6’2) showed some potential at the end of last year and should factor in more in 2017-2018.

“Offensively we may create problems for some teams but our defense has to be better than it has been in the recent past,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan.

taunton

2016-2017 Record: 13-9
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Charlie Dacey

When it comes to pace, Taunton is hoping to be among the fastest teams in the league this season. The Tigers will still be young this year, but not as much as last year with plenty of young players returning after gaining experience last season.

Seniors Lens Esquil and Malik Charles both played last year and have shown improvement in their skills; they’ll be relied upon to be team leaders this season. Sophomore Dante Law had a tremendous freshman season, and hurt a lot of teams in a lot of ways. Whether it was from deep, like his six three pointers against Foxboro, or his ability to attack the basket, he’s one of the most dangerous young players in the league. Junior Lou Vendrell also emerged as a top scorer last season and could be one of the top shooters in the league this year.

Junior John Martins is another experienced player that is capable of scoring while Diamond Blakely and Prince Brown will share point guard duties. Naz Kenian, Tyler Medeiros, and Wesner Charles are all going to be options for head coach Charlie Dacey as well.

“We have much depth with tremendous team speed,” Dacey said. “If we can learn to harness this speed and use it productively we could be interesting.”