WRENTHAM, Mass. – Coming off a difficult, emotional, last minute loss to Mansfield in last week’s title showdown, there was concern that King Philip may have a letdown against Thanksgiving Day rival Franklin. Both teams came into week five with one league loss and a setback on Friday night at Macktaz Field would effectively end that team’s chances of a league title this season.
The Warriors set aside any worries about the impact of last week’s loss by jumping out to an early lead and then put the Panthers away in the second half with 21 unanswered points.
KP beat Franklin 35-14 behind three touchdown passes from junior quarterback Robbie Jarest to earn its 13th straight victory in this series dating back to Thanksgiving 2009 and to stay just one game back of Mansfield in the division standings.
“I was definitely a little nervous about that,” KP coach Brian Lee said. “Our guys were talking about our maturity level and our compete level and [the Mansfield loss] was disappointing…but you’ve got to keep looking forward. You’ve got to think about playoffs and keep your eyes on a new direction.”
For Panthers coach Eian Bain, this was a missed opportunity for his team to earn that elusive marquee win against one of the league’s perennial powers.
“Our guys work hard,” Bain said. “But, it’s three years of working hard and not quitting and, eventually, we need to take the next step as a program and when that happens it’s going to be up to our team. King Philip isn’t getting off the pyramid and Mansfield’s not stepping off to give it to us, we need to go get it.”
The Warriors wasted no time in setting aside the disappointment of last week, driving 65 yards on eight plays on the opening possession of the game to take the lead.
Helped by a personal foul call against the Panthers and 26 yards on the ground from Ryan Halliday (25 carries, 134 yards), KP got the ball inside the red zone. Jarest (6-13, 94 yards) finished the drive by hitting Timmy Nault, who ran an angled route across the middle of the Panthers’ secondary, for an 18-yard score.
The KP defense was typically aggressive and allowed only one first down on Franklin’s first two possessions. Jack Webster’s sack pushed the Panthers back inside their own 10 and KP took advantage of solid starting field position to double the lead.
Halliday went up the middle for 21 yards on a draw that put the ball at the Franklin 28. Two plays later, on third and 10, Jarest again found the open receiver, connecting with Deric Casado for a 28-yard strike and a 14-0 lead.
“Every week he gets a little better,” said Lee about Jarest. “He gets a little crazy at times, but you saw it tonight, we’re feeling a little more comfortable with him, having more trust in him, and that’s only going to make our offense better. Our receivers are coming along too.”
Franklin got a much-needed response on its next drive. After an 11-yard run by Owen Palmieri, a 15-yard pass interference call moved the ball down to the KP 32-yard-line. A pair of Webster tackles at the line of scrimmage and an incomplete pass left Franklin facing fourth and nine, but Nick Gordon was able to hit Sean Leonard for 28 yards down to the three. Three plays later Gordon punched it in from a yard out.
KP got the ball back with 5:38 left in the half at its own 19. The Warriors proceeded to use up all but seven seconds of the quarter and got as far as the Franklin 21, but were forced to settle for a 42-yard field goal attempt from Cole Baker. The kick was on line but fell just a yard short and the score remained 14-7 at the break.
The Panthers went into halftime with the momentum, but KP turned that around quickly in the third quarter. The Warriors forced a three-and-out, scored a touchdown, forced a fumble and added another score to break the contest wide open in a little more than six minutes of game time.
“I felt like they had all the mojo,” said Lee. “They held us down there and I felt like, okay we’re in a game here. Now you’ve got to withstand that burst and they did that. They had a good response, so I was pleased.”
Jack Norgren returned the Franklin punt to the Panthers’ 47. From there, Halliday carried the ball five times for 22 yards. On first down from the 25, Jarest tossed his third score of the night, finding David Morganelli on a go-route down the left sideline to extend the lead back to two scores.
The Warriors pinned Franklin back at its own 13 on the ensuing kick-off and then two plays later Max Armour and Halliday forced a fumble when Gordon tried a keeper up the middle. Morganelli recovered the loose ball at the 12. On the next play Halliday, with a giant push from his offensive line, carried a pile of players into the end zone to make it 28-7.
Casado’s solid coverage on Leonard forced a turnover on downs inside the KP 30 on Franklin’s next possession and the Warriors turned it into another score. Sam Callanan (five carries, 46 yards) gave Halliday a rest and took the bulk of the plays on the drive. He found a seam on a toss to the left and was able to scamper home with a 12-yard rush that made it 35-7 with eight minutes remaining.
Gordon (5-13, 138 yards) did get the Panthers a consolation score just a minute later on an 84-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, who showed off his speed in out-running the KP secondary from one sideline to the opposite corner. But, Nault intercepted a Gordon pass on the next possession to cap off an impressive second half display from the Warriors.
“It was Mansfield all over again,” Bain reflected. “There were moments where we could’ve made a play or two and maybe we don’t win but it’s a different game. We’ve got to turn it around because we’ve got two more left and if we want a shot at hosting a playoff game, then we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
King Philip (3-2, 2-1) will travel to Muscato Stadium to take on Oliver Ames next week, while Franklin (3-2, 1-2) will try to bounce back at Aleixo Tiger Stadium against Taunton.
Attleboro, 32 @ Oliver Ames, 6 – Final 1st Quarter: (A) Justin Cote 5-yard rush, 2pt rush failed.
2nd Quarter: (A) J. Cote 1-yard rush, 2pt rush failed; (A) Jason Weir 24-yard rush, J. Weir 2pt rush good.
3rd Quarter: (OA) Cam Perron 1-yard rush, XP blocked; (A) J. Cote 11-yard rush, 2pt pass failed.
4th Quarter: (A) J. Weir 29-yard pass to Jacob Weatherford, XP failed.
North Attleboro, 34 @ Foxboro, 0 – Final 1st Quarter: (NA) Nick Raneri 3-yard rush, XP no good; (NA) Brendan McHugh 2-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (NA) B. McHugh 11-yard rush, N. Raneri 2pt rush.
4th Quarter: (NA) N. Raneri 13-yard pass to Ryan Gaumond, Tyler DeMattio XP good; (NA) Jacob Silva 3-yard rush, T. DeMattio XP good.
Franklin, 14 @ King Philip, 35 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (KP) Robbie Jarest 18-yard pass to Timmy Nault, Cole Baker XP good.
2nd Quarter: (KP) R. Jarest 28-yard pass to Deric Casado, C. Baker XP good; (F) Nick Gordon 1-yard rush, Parker Chevrant XP good.
3rd Quarter: (KP) R. Jarest 25-yard pass to David Morganelli, C. Baker XP good; (KP) Ryan Halliday 12-yard rush, C. Baker XP good.
4th Quarter: (KP) Sam Callanan 12-yard rush, C. Baker XP good; (F) N. Gordon 84-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, P. Chevrant XP good.
Mansfield, 34 @ Taunton, 14 – Final 1st Quarter: (M) Cincere Gill 70-yard rush, 2pt failed; (T) Noah Leonard 1-yard rush, Coby Adams XP good; (M) Aidan Sacco 6-yard rush, C. Gill 2pt rush.
2nd Quarter: (M) Vinnie Holmes 21-yard rush, Michael DeBolt XP good. (T) N. Leonard 14-yard rush, C. Adams XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (M) C. Gill 17-yard rush, 2pt failed; (M) V. Holmes 34-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
Sharon, 7 @ Milford, 42 – Final
Stoughton, 1 @ Norwood, 3 – Final – Stoughton’s Ted Lucas scored his first career goal to cut the deficit to just one late in the game but the Mustangs tacked on an insurance goal to seal the win.
Foxboro, 5 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – Foxboro came out firing on all cylinders, scoring five goals in the first half to earn two points on the road. Jordyn Collins set the tone inside the opening minute, taking a pass from Lizzy Davis and scoring to put the visitors ahead. Kenzi Fraser, Kailee McCabe, Katie Hunter, and Katelyn Mollica (from Kaitryn Franchino) all scored once for the Warriors.
North Attleboro, 1 @ Braintree, 0 – Final – North Attleboro bounced back from a loss to Foxboro with a solid non-league road win. Ashlyn Gaulin scored the game’s only goal when she followed up her own shot that had caromed off the crossbar and she tapped in the rebound. North coach William Wallace praised the play of Kayla Pasquel, Haley Ferrin, Lydia Santos, and Bri Westcott in the middle of the field. Emma Noreck earned the clean sheet in goal.
Stoughton, 0 vs. Norwood, 3 – Final
Franklin, 4 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – Cassi Ronan set up a pair of goals in the first half and the Panthers scored two more in the second half to beat Attleboro. Ronan assisted on Regan Paterson’s goal that put the Panthers up 1-0, and then set up Victoria Quinn as Franklin took a 2-0 lead into half. Sara Carney and Stephanie Bell each scored unassisted goals in the second half and Anna Jardine made four saves in goal for the shutout.
Canton, 3 @ Milford, 0 – Final
Foxboro, 4 @ North Attleboro, 0 – Final
King Philip, 6 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – Meghan MacDonald, Alli Meehan, and Nicole Connor all scored in the first half, helping the Warriors build a 3-0 lead that it never relinquished in a win over Oliver Ames. Abby Nixon had an assist on MacDonald’s opening goal with 12:49 left in the first half. Meehan set Connor up with 4:41 left in the half, and then switched roles for a 4-0 lead less than three minutes into the second. Meehan finished with three goals and an assist and sophomore Olivia Kulesza added a late goal for KP. Oliver Ames sophomore Brynna Courneen scored her first goal of the season off a penalty corner in the second half.
Mansfield, 0 @ Taunton 0 – Final – Taunton goalie Emma Sheehan made 10 saves to help keep the contest equal.
Stoughton, 2 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – Allie Howe and Haley Nelson each scored once in the second half to lead the Black Knights to a win on the road at Sharon.
Canton, 3 @ Milford, 1 – Final – After splitting the first two sets, Canton won a close third game and went on to finish the match with a 3-1 victory (25-15, 18-25, 25-23, 25-16). Erin Devine has a great night for the Bulldogs, finishing with 12 kills and six blocks. Taylor Harris added nine kills, two blocks and 12 digs, Nicole Brown continued to impress with 22 assists, five kills, three aces and 11 digs, and Emily Morrison and Megan McDonough (five aces) combined for 19 digs.
Foxboro, 1 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final
King Philip, 3 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – King Philip went on the road and recorded a 3-0 sweep (25-7, 25-21, 25-20) against Oliver Ames. KP middles Catherine Waldeck (12 kills, two blocks) and Nicole Coughlan (seven kills, five blocks, two aces) both had strong games for the Warriors while, Kat Kmetz added 12 digs, two kills, and a pair of aces, and Shayla Weitzman finished with 14 digs, four aces, and 13 service points. For Oliver Ames, senior Jackie Raymond had eight aces, senior Sadie Homer finished with 36 digs, and junior Allie Kemp had 16 assists.
Mansfield, 3 @ Taunton, 2 – Final – Mansfield fell behind 2-1 but battled back to win the fourth set, and went on to win the decisive fifth set for a win over Taunton (16-25, 25-23, 24-26, 25-17, 15-7). For Mansfield, Greenly Kelly had nine kills, four blocks and 14 service points, Sam Sternberg added 15 digs and 10 service points, Olivia McGrath had a nice game with 13 kills and 10 service points, and Katie Dardinski chipped in with nine digs and 13 service points.
Stoughton, 3 @ Sharon, 1 – Final
King Philip, 158 @ Attleboro, 173 – Final
Foxboro, 173 @ Taunton, 174 – Final
Foxboro, 173 @ Oliver Ames, 153 – Final – Oliver Ames picked a pair of wins, including a divisional victory, by beating Foxboro and Taunton in a tri-match at Pine Oaks. Nolan Donze paced Oliver Ames with a 36, Liam Barry shot 38, Ryan Bock carded a round of 39, and Justin Shapiro finished with a 40.
Taunton, 174 @ Oliver Ames, 153 – Final
Franklin, 163 vs. Medway, 178 – Final – Franklin defended its home course against non-league foe Medway on Friday afternoon. Quinten Faro paced the Panthers with a team-low round of 40 while Matt D’Errico and Jack Paterson each shot a 41.
North Attleboro, 191 @ Sharon, 160 – Final – Ethan Skelly shot a 37 and Corey Carter shot a 38 to Sharon to a win at the Cape Club of Sharon. Max Brody carded a 41 and Andrew Glaser shot 44 to contribute to the win.
Injuries hampered Attleboro right from the start of the 2017 season, but the 2018 Bombardiers are healthy and hoping for a big turnaround this fall to compete with the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division and make a return to the postseason.
The graduation of quarterback Cam Furtado is a significant loss on offense, but the Bombardiers will hand the ball to junior Jason Weir, who has a big arm and a lot of potential at the QB position. Size and strength won’t be a problem for Weir, who played defensive end as a sophomore. Seniors Justin Cote and Alex Rodriguez will be the primary backs for Attleboro this year and give the Bombardiers dynamic weapons out of the backfield. The offensive line is bolstered by 6-foot-6, 290-pound junior Qualeem Charles and 6-foot-3, 265-pound senior Nick Evans. At 6-foot-3, junior Nolan Jaeger will be a weapon at receiver along with senior Josh Therrien and sophomore tight end Michael Strachan.
Evans battled injuries at the start of last season, but he is one of the top defensive linemen in the league and is drawing Div. I college offers. Attleboro will be a tough team to run against this season with Evans on the end and Charles (who is also getting DI looks) and 6-foot-3, 365-pound senior Eddie Porreca on the inside. Strachan and junior Isaac Gudiel will be starting at inside linebacker, while senior Desmond Woodson will be starting on the outside. Therrien is capable of making plays downfield at his free safety position and will be the leader of the secondary.
“I am looking forward to the 2018 season,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have a strong senior class and we have strong leadership on our football team. Our team worked out hard in the off-season and I am looking forward to that hard work paying off this season.”
Third-year head coach Eian Bain is optimistic about the 2018 season, and the long list of players returning with plenty of experience is a big reason why. The Panthers have over a dozen players back that started or saw significant time on offense and the same goes for the defense, include a very seasoned secondary.
Franklin must replace three-year starter Jake Noviello at quarterback but Bain is confident that a healthy competition between senior Nick Gordon and junior Thomas Gasbarro will result in a strong option starting under center for the opening week. While Franklin has to replace its quarterback, they return a ton of skill players on offense including senior tight end Sean Leonard, who hauled in a league-best eight touchdown passes last season. Ryan Driscoll (five touchdowns), Jack Nally, Will Davis, and Jake Davis will fill out the receiving corps while Sean Hofferty and Owen Palmieri man the backfield. Seniors Riley Downing and Liam Arsenault are experienced and will anchor the offensive line.
Junior Evan Wertz will be a key piece in the middle of the Panthers’ defense after having a breakout campaign last year with nearly 100 tackles from his linebacker spot. Senior Spencer Briggs and sophomore Alex Honor will also see time at linebacker while Downing is joined by Jack Jarosz, Dom Natale, and Keenan Bassma on the defensive line. The Panthers boast a seasoned secondary with Nolan McLaney and Driscoll both back, along with Palmieri, Jake Davis, and both Gasbarro and Gordon.
“We have experience on both sides of the ball,” Bain said. “It is a cohesive group that has been working hard together for our first two years and they are eager to the turn the corner with our program.”
The target on King Philip’s back is bigger than ever as the Warriors pulled off a second straight undefeated season and another state championship.
So how will head coach Brian Lee get this year’s team to focus on 2018 and not the past two seasons?
“The work and preparation have been the same but now it’s up to this season class to leave their legacy,” Lee said. “The previous two classes had their moments, now it’s up to these seniors to make their own moment. This team will go as far as these seniors lead them.”
The seniors will have plenty of opportunities to make their mark because King Philip doesn’t have a returning starter on offense. The Warriors need to replace quarterback Brendan Lydon, who didn’t lose a game as a starter. Junior Robbie Jarest looks poised to take over under center this season. While it isn’t a lot of experience, Jarest took over in the second half of the state final after Lydon got hurt and helped the Warriors finish off Lincoln-Sudbury. The toughest shoes to fill will be those of Shane Frommer, who will go down as one of the best players in KP history.
Junior Ryan Halliday will be the feature back while Aidan Bender and Sam Callanan will be in the mix as well. Jack Webster and Jack Collentro will be keys to the offense from the fullback position. Senior Terrell Jacobs Bastons has some experience on both sides of the ball and will likely start at guard while classmate Josh Fice will fill in the other guard spot. Junior Nolan Gunning is likely to get a starting spot as well, either at center or tackle.
Defense has been a staple for the Warriors throughout their successful run over the last couple of years, and that’s what KP will count on again this season. The strength will come from the linebackers with Webster back in an outside spot and Max Armour returning in the middle. Jacobs Bastons will be a big presence in the middle of the defensive line while the secondary will have familiar faces back in Aidan Bender, Timmy Nault, and safety Luke D’Amico.
And as we saw in the state final, having a reliable kicker is priceless. Cole Baker, who booted the winning field goal in the final, is back for his third year. Not only will he be a big help on offense, his kickoffs will be a weapon for the defense.
Mansfield has finished second in the Kelley-Rex in each of the past three seasons and the Hornets will be counting on experience under center and depth at the skill positions to end King Philip’s two-year reign atop the division and return to the top of the league standings for the first time since 2013.
Senior Damani Scott will be the starter at quarterback for the second straight season and he will be backed up by the capable Jack Mousette, giving the Hornets plenty of experience and reliability from their signal caller. Scott will also have a ton of weapons to call on this year with a skill position group that head coach Mike Redding calls one of the best that Mansfield has had in a while. Khristian Conner and Aidan Sacco will be weapons in the passing game while junior Vinnie Holmes is back in the backfield. Juniors Makhi Baskin, Michael DeBolt (who was also an outstanding kicker last year), and Nick Marciano will provide depth in the slot/running back positions. Senior Daenin Walker and junior Jason Comeau will add experience to the offensive line.
Defensively, Holmes will return to the linebacking corps after setting a program record for tackles in a season as a sophomore. Seniors Chris Copponi and Philip Dinov also return and can play as linebackers or as defensive ends depending on matchups. The secondary will be strong for the Hornets this year with Conner and Sacco at the corners and Marciano and Baskin at the safety positions. The only new additions on the defense are Anthony Capece at noseguard and junior Joe Plath at linebacker.
Redding said, “We have an experienced, athletic, aggressive defense that should be tough to score on and we’re young on offense, but have a ton of depth and talent at skill positions. Just need to gain some experience up front with our new guys on OL and DL.”
The 2018 version of the Oliver Ames Tigers have already had to make an audible after star running back Anthony Berksza suffered a season-ending injury over summer. Berksza had a breakout year last season, rushing for over 1,100 yards and finished with 16 total touchdowns, 15 of those rushing.
With Berksza out, Oliver Ames will rely heavily on the rest of its returning starters to carry the load. Junior Cam Perron returns under center after taking over the starting job during the regular season last year. While Perron looks to find some of his options, he has an offensive line protecting him that has some experience but will be looking to form cohesiveness throughout the year. Dean Pacini, Shane Murphy, Billy Tat, Luke Thibeault, and Garrett Wood all return with experience playing on the line. One challenge will be finding someone to step up and be a leader of that group after the graduation of two-time all star Jack Mills.
Nathan Cabral takes over as the feature tailback and OA head coach Mike Holland is confident the junior can get the job done. Holland says Cabral runs hard and is a tough player. Perron will also have the likes of Shane Kilkelly, Jake Erlich, and Evan Craig to work with as targets.
The heart of the defense will be at the linebacker position. Both Pacini, Murphy, and Darnele Ryan return after starting there last year and Holland will count on both senior captains to lead the way for the Tigers. Sam Stevens is back in the secondary at the safety position but OA will need some new faces to emerge alongside him.
“We’re looking forward to the start of the season,” Holland said. “We have a great group across the board. We have some experienced players back and some talented players competing for jobs.”
Taunton started last season with a 3-0 record, one of the program’s best starts in years, but then lost five straight games, including a playoff game against BC High, the top seed in Div. 1 South. The Tigers turned it on again from that point, winning the final three games of the season, including an impressive win against Brockton, to finish with a winning record under second-year head coach Brad Sidwell.
Experience will be a key for the Tigers this season, as Taunton tries to build on that playoff appearance and the momentum from a strong closing stretch. Senior Noah Leonard will be the starting quarterback for the third straight year and is now fluent in Sidwell’s offensive system. Leonard will have familiar targets in senior wideouts Brayden Merrill, Tryton Zavala, and Wesner Charles, while junior Cam Carroca looks to step in as a feature running back and junior Javon Franklin is a new target in the passing game. On the line, Taunton returns plenty of size in 6-foot-3, 337-pound tackle Christian Tourinho and his fellow senior Cam Correiro. Senior Ryan Williams will be the center, while junior Mason Frank, listed at 6-foot-2 and 274 pounds, will be back to battle at the line of scrimmage.
Size and athleticism will be strengths for Taunton on the defensive side of the ball as well. Tourinho, Correiro, and Frank can bottle up opposing running games and will be joined on the line by seniors Corey Pintabone and John Rockwood. Williams will lead the linebacking corps along with classmates Max Moitoso and Kyle Cuoto. Senior Prince Brown will be back at corner and senior Sebastien Celestin looks to step into the safety position.
“Taunton football is progressing forward,” said Sidwell. “Like all teams, we’d like to gain some confidence early in the season and carry it on. The Kelley-Rex division is challenging with great programs, coaching staffs, and communities. We are happy to be a part of it and want to represent Taunton High well by competing at the high standard set by the other league members.”