MANSFIELD, Mass. – It had been 15 months since Mansfield last walked off the field, at Gillette Stadium, holding the 2019 Div. 2 state championship trophy. When the lights came on for Friday night’s Fall II season opener at Alumni Field, the Hornets showed no rust after such a long layoff and, in fact, it looked like they hadn’t missed a beat.
Mansfield scored after just three plays, had six first half touchdowns, half of them by senior running back Cincere Gill, scored twice on defense, and rolled to a 49-7 victory against Franklin.
“It’s been a long, long wait,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “All fall everybody just held their breath that we maybe would get a chance to play and it was almost surreal you walk out here and it’s 60 degrees on a Friday night and it felt like September.
“Lights go on, it’s Friday night, we don’t care what month it is, it felt like Friday night lights.”
It took no time for the Hornets to show how dynamic they can be on offense. Gill (167 total yards) proved to be unstoppable, going for 21 yards on the first play and 34 on the second to get the Hornets down to the Franklin six. On the next play, Nico Holmes (81 total yards) bullied his way into the end zone and James Gilleran added one of his seven extra points for an early 7-0 lead.
On its next possession, Mansfield showed different facets of its offense. Matt Boen, who Redding said was playing quarterback for the first time since seventh grade, hit Gill for 19 yards and Anthony Comer (81 total yards) took a draw for 17. After Gill missed Boen on a deep pass, he took the next snap right up the middle and raced for a 52-yard score.
“Everybody thinks they run a 4.3…and when you get out there and see a real 4.3, 4.4 kid, you know it,” said Franklin coach Eian Bain about Gill. “Super talented and you combine that with the beef that they have, you know, a lot of times we sort of pride ourselves on having speed and that’s maybe our neutralizer and tonight it wasn’t. They had the best of both worlds.”
Not to be outdone, the Mansfield defense got into the act. On a second and 11 play, the Hornets blew up and attempted screen pass and Sean Weber got a hand on Jared Arone’s attempted pass. The ball fell to Rocco Scarpellini, who took the interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
Despite trailing 21-0, Franklin’s offense was finding some success in the passing game. Arone (21-of-32, 193 yards), a first-year starter, connected with Shane Kindred nine times and with Jake O’Brien six times. On their third possession, the Panthers were able to finish a drive.
Arone hit O’Brien for 20 yards out near midfield. After getting into Mansfield territory, Franklin faced a fourth and one. A well-executed roll-out screen pass to Kindred gained eight yards and kept the drive going. A screen pass to Mack Gulla put the Panthers in the red zone and on the next play Will Tracey went up and got a pass at the front pylon for a 19-yard touchdown.
The momentum was short-lived because the Hornets just had too much on offense. CJ Bell’s return gave Mansfield good starting field position and Boen fired a pass to Comer for 33 yards down to the Franklin 14. After a low snap pushed the Hornets back a few yards, Boen threw a perfect pass to hit Holmes on the wheel route for a 17-yard score and a 28-7 lead.
A fumble recovery handed Mansfield back the ball at its own 45 and the Hornets made quick work of the short field. Boen hit tight end Everett Knowlton on the run for 34 yards and, after a holding call, followed it with an 11-yard keeper. Gill got the hand off, went straight up the middle, and made a quick cut to the right, walking in untouched with a 20-yard TD.
Mansfield forced a three-and-out and got the ball back at its 33. Jake Wall took a jet sweep to the left and rushed for 20 yards into Franklin territory. Comer had a pair of carries to get the ball to the five. Gill got the call. He started left towards the Mansfield sideline but was blocked off, turned back and reversed around to the far side, found a tiny seam, and cut it upfield to find pay dirt for a third time.
“I think everyone was worried about such a long layoff that we’d be sloppy but we’ve got a lot of experience back,” Redding explained. “We executed and then when we didn’t execute you give the ball to Cincere and he runs to daylight. He makes a lot of bad plays look good.”
Jack Colby tacked on a second defensive touchdown when he picked off a pass right in front of his bench and ran it back 35 yards. Caden Colby added Mansfield’s third interception in the fourth quarter.
After reaching the Div. 1 South final last year, Franklin graduated all of its starting skill position players. Many of the Panthers were seeing their first significant varsity minutes and getting that experience against the league’s top team.
“It was a learning curve, but we knew what we were getting,” Bain admitted. “Yes, they are really, really good. I told my guys, TJ Guy is going to play on Sunday, there’s not a doubt in my mind…but a lot of it was just little details in our assignments, our techniques, in our eyes, and little things I think we can correct. A lot of things we had to work out of our system tonight.”
Redding acknowledged the advantage Mansfield has in terms of offensive firepower. He said, “Cincere and Anthony are just so explosive. We didn’t get the ball to Jake Wall but he can fly. Everett is a good tight end, Nico can get tough yards up inside. We’re not a typical high school football team in terms of skill and then the front five up front blocking are very, very good.”
Mansfield (1-0) will be on the road next week to face Milford for the first time. Franklin (0-1) will be on the road again when it travels to Taunton.
Attleboro was able to incorporate a number of underclassmen last season and will be hoping that experience pays off with the junior class being asked to step up all across the field this season, as the Bombardiers look to challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
Size won’t be an issue for Attleboro and the offensive line should be a strength this season led by junior tackles Chris Leonardo (6’3, 275 pounds) and Alvin Harrison (6’3, 255) along with seniors Trainor Sherck and Ryan Grover and junior Adam Struminski. The Bombardiers are going to use that line a lot this season with new quarterback Blake Garzaro, who saw some action as a sophomore, handing the ball off frequently to junior Kaiden Murray, who looks poised for a breakout season, and bruising fullback Michael Strachan. Junior Freddy Wheaton is another physical back who will get touches this year. In the passing game, Garzaro can look for 6’4 tight end Christian Dame, who leads a largely new cast of receivers.
The strengths on offense should mirror the strengths for Attleboro’s defense as well. Leonardo, Dame, and Harrison will be the core of the defensive line with junior Isaac Pereira another big body that will be tough for opposing teams to run against. Strachan leads the linebacking corps. The URI-commit is the program’s all-time leading tackler and he’s a four-year varsity player. Wheaton will join Strachan at inside linebacker and Sherck and Ryan Betts will be on the outside. The secondary will have several new faces, but Murray is a tough tackler at free safety and William Runey will be one of the more experienced cornerbacks on the roster.
Franklin is coming off an impressive run to the Div. 1 South final but the Panthers also graduated a host of important pieces from last year’s team, particularly at the skill positions, and will need some younger players to step in to stay competitive in the Kelley-Rex this season.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
Junior Jared Arone will step in at quarterback this season, hoping to have the same level of success running Franklin’s up-tempo style as Thomas Gasbarro did last year. Junior running back Mack Gulla got some time in the backfield last season but will be getting the bulk of the touches this year. A new receiving corps will also have to learn on the job, including senior Jake O’Brien and junior Shane Kindred, and junior tight end Jonathan Martins, but there is potential for this to be an explosive group. Seniors Brady Duncan and Vincent Lackey will be counted on to provide leadership on the offensive line. The consistency of senior kicker Parker Cheuvront will be a huge boost to a Franklin offense that may have some growing pains early in the season.
Defensively, the Panthers return several players and will rely on that experience to combat the top offenses in the league and to allow time for the younger players to get up to speed. Seniors Xander Honor and Dan Cormier will spearhead the defense from their linebacker positions, while seniors Anthony Quintina and Lackey are stout in the middle of the line. Martins will be a force at defensive end and Griffin is a playmaker at safety.
“We need to focus on getting better every day,” said Franklin coach Eain Bain. “Appreciate, and focus on, the here and now. Don’t look ahead or behind, but stay in tuned to the task at hand. And always, Row the Boat.”
This is an atypical season in so many ways, not least of all because King Philip, one of the perennial powers in the Kelley-Rex, is going through a transition. The Warriors will have a lot of new faces this year, using a number of underclassmen who will have to quickly learn the KP style of play through a tough slate of divisional games.
KP returns only two starters on offense from last year’s team that reached the D2 South semifinal. Senior guard Pat Zarba and junior tight end Drew Danson will be the lone holdovers, although several other players did see action at times. Junior Crawford Cantave filled in for an injured Ryan Halliday at running back last year and has the potential to be next in a long line of standout backs at KP. Mike Malatesta will also be in the backfield at fullback and sophomore Ryan Gately is a newcomer to keep an eye on. Junior Charlie Grant is set to be the new quarterback and will have Danson, senior Michael Zagrodney, and junior Nick Viscusi as targets in the passing game. Senior Kevin Pierro will be the center to add some experience to what is otherwise a largely new group on the line.
Defense has always been a priority for KP and this year’s group has a lot of players who will be learning on the job. Zarba and Danson will be on the defensive line, along with junior Hunter Hastings and senior Harry Brown. Malatesta and Gately will be joined by junior Jake Sullivan at linebacker. The secondary is young but has some experience, as Cantave and Viscusi both are coming off strong sophomore seasons at safety.
“I am hoping that our weakness (inexperience and lack of seniors) will be a strength in the fall as we are forced to play a lot of juniors and sophomores now,” said KP coach Brian Lee. “I’m also worried about injuries, as we have not been in our weight room in a year.”
It has been 15 months since Mansfield rolled to a D2 state title at Gillette Stadium and the Hornets are excited to get back on the field, searching for a third straight league title and looking forward to a 90th anniversary game against Foxboro at Alumni Field to close out the season.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
While Mansfield graduated a number of key players from last year’s state championship-winning team, the Hornets return plenty of offensive firepower, especially in the backfield. Senior Cincere Gill will be the focus after racking up nearly 1,000 rushing yards last season, but he will get plenty of help from classmates Anthony Comer and Nico Holmes and newcomer sophomore Rocco Scarpellini. In addition, the Hornets will have Matt Boen and Nick Bertolino back at receiver and Everett Knowlton returns at tight end. Juniors Jake Wall and Dana Johnson will add to the depth in the passing game. The offensive line should be a strength for Mansfield this season with three returning starters, seniors TJ Guy and Jake McCoy and junior Joe Forte. Juniors Jimmy Gilleran and Braedon Veno will fill out the rest of the line.
The Hornets were dominant on defense last season and they remain solid on that side of the ball, particularly in the front seven. With Guy on the end and junior Mark DeGirolamo and McCoy in the interior of the defensive line, Mansfield will be stout up front. Holmes is a standout at linebacker and senior Sean Weber will be a player to watch in his outside linebacker position. The secondary has depth with a handful of players fighting for three defensive back spots.
“Toughest part is mentally, everything’s backward with the weather – feels like November and the end of a typical season, but it’s pre-season,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “Just hoping Friday nights under the lights feel the same once games get going and it feels like we’re starting to finally get into a groove with execution. We’re all thankful to be playing and trying to enjoy every day we can go out and be a team.”
There are a lot of changes at Milford this season, with a new coaching staff taking over and the Hawks making the switch to the Kelley-Rex for the first time, but there is a lot of experience on the field to make that transition with nine starters returning on both sides of the ball.
One of the biggest changes for Milford will be under center, as Brady Olson takes over following his transfer from Bishop Feehan. The UMass-commit will have plenty of targets to aim for, as Milford returns arguably the deepest group of receivers in the league led by seniors Carter Scudo, Max Martin, and Matt Varteresian. They combine deep threat potential with the willingness to make the tough catches in traffic. Up front, Sean Murray and Nick Yohn will lead the protection for Olson and try to open up lanes for a new crop of running backs.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
Experience will be a strength on the defensive side of the ball as well. Dom Schofield highlights a tough defensive line. Another of the team’s UMass commits, Schofield will be a force at the defensive end position, while Mario Lee and Josh Kravets return in the heart of the line. Milford lost a couple of standout linebackers from last year’s squad, Luke Rosa and CJ Cerrella, but Kevin O’Connor and Angelo Romero are playmakers who should be ready for breakout seasons. Grant Scudo and Evan Hazard are back in what should be a strong secondary for the Hawks.
“I have a strong senior class that has played a ton of football and we’ll lean on them to help us compete in the Hock large this year,” said new Milford coach Dale Olson.
With 10 returning starters and 18 returning lettermen, Taunton will be relying on its senior leadership to stay competitive against what has the potential to be a daunting Kelley-Rex division schedule.
The Tigers have plenty of athleticism on both sides of the ball and also versatile players who can line up in multiple positions, making it difficult for opponents to match up. Senior Danny MacDougall moves under center this season, although he has also lined up at receiver in the past. Seniors Josh Lopes and Bretton Heggs give Taunton a pair of dangerous backs, while Trent Santos, Kedrick Santos, Nigel Choate, and Nolan Tomaszycki are weapons in the passing game. Senior Nathan Arieta, at 6-foot-5, is a big target at tight end. Seniors Tommy Ambrose and Jorden Manning are two returning starters on the offensive line. The depth on the line will be tested, as Taunton has several underclassmen with the size to step in but not a lot of experience.
Defensively, Taunton relies on its quickness and athleticism, but also has plenty of size up front. Ambrose, Manning, and Arieta will all play on the defensive line, along with classmate Deandre McPhail and junior Faisal Mass. Lopes, Kedrick Santos, Caleb Nicholson, and Evan Perrotta have experience in the linebacking corps. The secondary is filled with playmakers, including Trent Santos, MacDougall, Heggs, Tomaszycki, and Choate.
2020 (Fall II) Kelley-Rex Division Football Preview
2018 Record: 5-13 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Kevin Patton
The Bombardiers will boast a relatively young group in 2019 but are still ready to compete in a difficult Hockomock League.
With a total of 14 underclassmen – eight sophomores and six freshmen – there will certainly be learning curves and some ups and downs throughout the year, but those new faces are hungry to improve throughout the season.
Attleboro’s strong suit will be in net as Hockomock League All-Star Trevor Koppy, a captain for this year’s team, returns to the cage. Koppy is one of the most experienced netminders in the league and the Bombardiers will be relying on him for his play plus his leadership as a captain. Attleboro will also rely on the leadership on and off the field by junior captain Tom Shipman, who will be a key piece in the midfield.
Shipman will be joined by senior Zach Thomas and sophomores Michael Strachan and Aidan Diggin in the midfield. All four have plenty of varsity experience so Attleboro will certainly rely on them to guide the way as the younger players are incorporated into the lineup. Sophomore Matthew Perry returns up front while junior Jack Handy is back defensively.
The Bombardiers are hoping junior Bryson Friess and freshman Fred Wheaton will make an impact defensively while freshmen Keigan Conley and Jack Lamothe will bolster the attack. Freshman Ryan Betts will also be apart of the midfield unit this season.
We are a young team…but they’re all ready to contribute quality minutes,” said Attleboro coach Kevin Patton, who switched from the girl’s team to the boys this Spring. “With Trevor Koppy and Tommy Shipman, our captains, they are prepared to lead the team to the next level. I’m looking forward to the future of the program!”
2018 Record: 10-8 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinals Coach: Bill Bendell
After missing out on the playoffs in 2017, Canton put together a memorable 2018 campaign that ended in the D2 South Sectional Semifinals. The Bulldogs are looking to replicate that success and make another deep tournament run again this year.
And with a good amount of players back from last year’s squad, there is a lot of optimism that tournament run can happen. Senior Griffin Roach, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection, will pace the offense again this year. Roach had 30 goals and 17 assists last year and his competitiveness is contagious to those around him. Roach will be joined by classmate Dan Cohen, a Hockomock League honorable mention selection. Cohen is a dangerous player, scoring 24 goals in the regular season last year.
David Allen, Chris Lavoie, Brendan Clifford, and Matt Martin are great athletes and capable scorers as well, while Tommy Vaughan will look to make an impact with his playmaking ability. On defense, the Bulldogs will turn to Brendan Albert and Nick Mackay, who head coach Bill Bendell called two of the most underrated players in the Hockomock League. Both possess a boatload of experience at the varsity level and will anchor the Bulldog defensive group. George Kent and James Murphy will also be apart of Canton’s defense while Shane Marshall, Sam Walsh, Jack Albert, and Carson Campbell will all see time and make key contributions this seasons, Bendell said.
Sophomore Dylan Coyne will take over in net for the Bulldogs and has had a strong preseason so far. Bendell believes Coyne is poised for a breakout year. Jeff Fitzgerald, Tommy Ghostlaw, and Mackay will all be in the running to handle faceoff duties.
“We are very excited about our offensive and defensive potential,” Bendell said. “Our varsity depth is not what we would like it to be at this point, but a few players have shown flashes of potential that make us think we will be much deeper come Memorial Day.”
Foxboro will have a young squad with just five seniors this year but that doesn’t mean there will be a lack of experience from the defending Davenport division champions.
Senior Brendan Tully sets the example with his work ethic but is also one of the most dangerous players in the Hockomock League. A Providence College commit, Tully has tormented defenses for the past two seasons. He had 44 goals and 22 assists last year and will be one of Foxboro’s main weapons. Tully will be joined by Bobby Yerardi, who had over 40 points as a sophomore and has improved his game in the offseason. His ability to finish right or left makes life difficult for opponents.
The Warriors bring back junior Shayne Kerrigan for faceoffs. Kerrigan is one of the best in the area on the draw and puts Foxboro in good positions time after time; he will be a key piece in the midfield for the Warriors. Junior Pete Conley, Aiden Stapleton, and Charlie Baughan will make the up the attacking group for Foxboro this year.
Pat Stapleton is one of the most experienced players in the league as well as one of the top defensive players. He will anchor a defensive unit that has been one of the best in the region over the past couple of seasons. He will be joined by juniors Ronnie MacLellan and Will Morrison. All three players have the ability to move up to LSM when needed.
One question mark for the Warriors could be goalie, as Foxboro graduated Hockomock League MVP Jake Addeche. Head coach Matt Noone is confident in his options this season, with four players competing for the time in the cage. Freshman Matt Tully is beginning the season as the starter.
“I am really looking forward to this season as we are young but dangerous,” Noone said. “The best thing about this team is our depth, there is competition for every spot and they love to compete! What more can you ask for?”
Franklin has had a lot of success in recent years, and that trend looks like it will continue in 2019.
“The outlook for this season is very good,” said Franklin head coach Lou Verrochi. “It could be one of the best teams we’ve had at FHS.”
The reason for the high expectations is the amount of talent returning from last year’s Kelley-Rex team that reached the D1 South Quarterfinals. Although the Panthers graduated two-time All-American and two-time HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Eric Civetti and starting goalie Connor O’Rourke, Franklin has experience and talent back at each position.
It all will start with senior Jacob Alexander, who has been arguably the best faceoff man in the entire state over the past couple of seasons. Alexander’s ability to consistently win draws gives Franklin a huge advantage and sets the offense in motion. Patrick Morrison, a second-team All-American selection last season, will anchor the defensive unit for the Panthers this year along with Will Harvey, who was one of the most underrated players last year. Will Davis, who saw time in net some last year, is set to take over in the cage and could be one of the top netminders in the league.
The Franklin midfield will consist of Nitin Chaudhury – one of the hardest working athletes in any sport – along with Owen Palmieri and Ben Kolb, who has really impressed in scrimmages during the preseason. Franklin’s attack could be among the most dangerous in the league this year with three legitimate options. Jake Davis (32 goals, 23 assists), Matt Lazzaro (30 points), and Ben Greco are all unselfish but can also finish.
2018 Record: 9-10 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals Coach: Hal Bean
King Philip is hoping that a good amount of returning experience from last year’s team will result in a successful season and possibly a run through the D1 South bracket.
The Warriors have one of the most experienced attackmen in the league in Colin DeVellis, who has been one of the best finishers in each of the last two years. He finished fourth overall in points his sophomore year (22 goals, 36 assists) and again his junior year (45 goals, 29 assists) and is the top returning scorer back from last year. His ability to finish in close makes life tough for opponents but he’s also able to find teammates when the defense focuses on him. Andrew Sajdak and Sam Mattson will also be key pieces on the attack and the three showed good chemistry in their first game this year.
Wes Bishop, who is committed to play at UMass Boston, is a great leader that will anchor the defensive unit. He has a lot of varsity experience and is the type of player that leads by example. Luke D’Amico is another experienced defender that will stand out for KP this year. Tyler Bartlett, Aiden Bender, Chris Longobardi, and Garrett Maxwell give coach Hal Bean a large group of experienced players.
Junior Andrew McKinney is back in goal after splitting time in the cage last season.
2018 Record: 9-9 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tim Frias
Mansfield has made the state tournament in each of the last four seasons and will be looking to make it five straight in 2019.
It all starts in the midfield with senior Aidan Sacco. Sacco, who played quarterback this past fall for the Hornet football team, is like the quarterback for the Hornet boys lacrosse team. A lot of the offense will run through Sacco because of his vision and ability to share the ball. He is also a key part of the Hornet defense. His ability to get back and track opponents while also causing turnovers and transitioning defense into offense will be key for Mansfield.
On offense, the Hornets have an experienced stick in the hands of Mike Reed, who will be relied on to lead the Hornets into the playoffs down the stretch. Connor Quirk will also be a key cog for Mansfield this year while Joe Plath, Sean Weber, and Will Nelson are going to be important pieces in the defensive unit.
The Hornets have a strong piece in Nico Holmes at the face-off X. Holmes picked up varsity experience at the position last year and he will look to give Mansfield extra possessions this year in their push for the state tournament.
Coleman O’Brien and Brian Rockwell are battling for the starting spot in the cage.
2018 Record: 6-11 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jacob Scordato
After increasing their win total from 2017 to 2018, the Scarlet Hawks will be looking to continue that trend in 2019.
With returning starters back in a lot of positions, second-year head coach Jacob Scordato is hopeful that Milford can make a run at a state tournament berth.
“Our Goal as a team is to make the playoffs, this program hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2012,” Scordato said. “But this group of extraordinary young men are highly motivated on achieving that goal.”
The Scarlet Hawks bring back their leading scorer in Brendan White, who had 45 points last season (31 goals, 14 assists). White is a strong, physical forward with a strong shot. His ability to finish through contact makes him one of the top attackmen in the league. In the midfield, junior captain Danny Farrell is back after a standout sophomore year. Farrell, an LSM, led the team last season with 64 ground balls.
Senior Ryan Pearl will anchor a defensive unit that is looking to improve on last season. Sophomore Evan Hazard had a standout freshman campaign between the pipes last year. He will be relied upon this season to help keep Milford in games as they make a push for the postseason.
2018 Record: 15-5 2018 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals Coach: Kevin Young
After coming close to the Davenport title a year ago, the Rocketeers are ready to make another run at the division title and as well as a deep playoff run.
While the Rocketeers graduated some top talent in the league such as midfielders Jason McNeany and Max Fontes, defenseman Tommy Lockavitch, and attack Tommy Lindstrom, North Attleboro has talent and experience in every position. Juniors Nate D’Amico and Jake McNeany are back after splitting time last season and will be competing for minutes again this season.
Defensively, the Rocketeers bring back three starters from a unit that allowed a league-low 95 goals last year. Junior Brett Labonte had a terrific season and will be joined by classmate Will Yeomans and sophomore Tyler Sarro. Head coach Kevin Young said the trio is tough, vocal, active, and play very well together. In the midfield, senior captains Nick Ward and Ryan Boyle will be key pieces. Ward will also see time at attack while Boyle will be a defensive minded midfielder.
“Nick is a very smart, sneaky threat with great IQ and stick skills,” said North Attleboro coach Kevin Young. “Ryan is just a grinder that all coaches appreciate.”
Junior Dan Conroy takes over as the main faceoff guy and will be joined by Ryan Rajotte, Damien Curtis, Nick Morse, Jack Puccio, Cam Cornetta, and Joe Milosh in the midfield.
The attack will be spearheaded by junior Andy DeMattio, last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. DeMattio had a tremendous season, scoring 52 goals and adding 22 assists for a team-high 74 points. “He should be fun to watch as he’s picked up some size and speed,” Young said. DeMattio will be joined by junior Jack Connolly and freshman Matt Antonetti.
2018 Record: 14-7 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinals Coach: Ben Devlin
Coming off the best season in program history, Oliver Ames is aiming to have another successful year and hoping to replicate last year’s playoff push.
The Tigers reached the D2 South Sectional Semifinals last season and bring back five of the top seven scorers from a year ago. While the top two scorers — Eric LeBlanc and Owen Gallagher — and their 146 points graduated, there is a lot of optimism in the program because they have reloaded for this year.
Oliver Ames will be young on the attack with junior Sandro Masciarelli and sophomore Remi Creighton, but there is still experience in the position. Masciarelli had 25 goals last year while Creighton will see more minutes this year. The strength of the program will be in the midfield with the likes of senior captain Colin Bourne (30 goals), junior Shane Kilkelly (32 goals), junior Sam Stevens (23 goals), and junior Frankie Ireland (29 goals). That group was a big reason for OA’s memorable season last year and now have a year of experience playing together under their belts.
Defensively the Tigers are looking for senior captains Shane Murphy and Matt Saba to lead the way. Both players were apart of the defensive unit last year and have been a big reason for the program’s improvement over the past couple of seasons. Senior LSM Cullen Gallagher will be a key defensive midfielder while junior Tyler Campbell will likely factor into the Tiger defense this year. Junior Nick Gillis returns as the starting goalie while senior Steve Heino is an experienced backup.
“Our goal is to keep improving each day and keep building on last year’s success,” said OA head coach Ben Devlin. “The kids have bought into the program and are excited and enthusiastic about the season. We don’t expect anyone or two players to replace the production we graduated, but if all our returners can progress like they did last year, we should be in the mix for a tourney berth.”
2018 Record: 12-7 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Jon Shocket
Sharon has a strong mix of returners and new faces and is hoping that combination will result in a return trip to the state tournament.
The Eagles will have an experienced defensive group with all three starting defensemen back this year, and all three are seniors. Sam Spencer, Coleman Loftus, and Ronin McCabe are back to give the Eagles a formidable defensive group. Having an experienced defensive in front of new goalie, sophomore Adam Rabb, will help as the season gets underway.
Sophomore Drew Litner is back after a terrific freshman year. Litner can score but he is one of the most unselfish players in the league and does a terrific job finding teammates on the move. He was among the league leaders in assists last year, dishing out 28 helpers. Litner will be joined by senior Brandon Buckman and freshman Zack Waxman in the attacking group.
The midfield will also have a good amount of experience with seniors Daniel Lillenfeld and Mitchell Director leading the way. Nick Stamm and Rowan Barnes have impressed this preseason and should be apart of the group as well. Junior Max Posner could be poised for a breakout year while sophomore Cobe Jacobson and freshmen Brady Daylor and Jace Nestler will be in the mix too.
Returning LSM Tyler Freedman is back after a terrific rookie campaign and could be a top player for the Eagles while there are high hopes for freshman faceoff specialist Ben Shocket, who could be an X-factor for the Eagles.
2018 Record: 1-15 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Pat Healey
The Black Knights enter their third season as a varsity program and are looking to continue to grow as a program in a difficult league.
After being inexperienced last year, the Black Knights are hoping the lessons learned from last year will pay off this year. It starts with the four captains: Sean Doherty, Luke Bainton, Alex Wilson, and Nate Wilson. Doherty and Bainton will do a little bit of everything for the Black Knights and will be two of the top options offensively. Alex Wilson and Nate Wilson will anchor the defensive unit, bringing plenty of lacrosse experience to that group.
Stoughton is also looking for a big season out of junior Foster McLeod. McLeod has shown in the past the ability to beat defenders and create opportunities for others. Sophomores Max Huminik and Mike McLaughlin will also see increased roles after impressing during their rookie seasons in 2018.
Sophomore Thomas Ratcliffe, a Hockomock League honorable mention last year, returns in the cage and gives the Black Knights a steady presence between the pipes. Sophomore Marty Barrett returns as a long pole and will be a key piece of the Knights’ defense.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – After a spectacular second half that featured a combined five touchdowns from Mansfield football and King Philip, it all came down to one final play.
King Philip quarterback Robbie Jarest (12/20, 206 yards, 3 touchdowns) found Tim Nault (four receptions, 58 yards, three touchdowns) for an 18-yard touchdown with just 39 seconds to go in the game, bringing the visiting Warriors to within just one point.
The Warriors elected to go for the win, keeping the offense on the field for a two-point attempt. But pressure from a leaping TJ Guy off the left side forced Jarest to loft a throw off his back foot, and the pass fell short, sealing a 28-27 win for the host Hornets in the HockomockSports.com Game of the Week.
“That was about as good as it gets,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “You go into overtime, you just never know. I think they had a good play call, and on the road, you go for the win. We’re lucky we survived it. They made so many plays in the last five minutes, I’m glad we survived the last one and got the win out of it. This was a great game with two great teams battling literally until the last play. This was as good as it gets in high school.”
King Philip had a 14-7 advantage to begin the second half, but Mansfield scored three times during a span of 2:17, scoring two touchdowns late in the third and one on the first play of the fourth to seize a 28-14 advantage.
Things were looking good for the Hornets, as they carried that lead over five minutes into the fourth. But the Warrior refused to quit. After starting at midfield, Jarest found Nault on the fifth play of the drive – again on fourth down – for an 11-yard score, getting with one touchdown, down 28-21 with 4:08 to play.
KP’s defense did its part, forcing a three and out and Nault put the Warriors in good position, taking the punt return to the Mansfield 49-yard line with just 2:06 left. After three straight incompletions, Jarest hit Deric Casado for 19 yards and a first down with 1:38 to go. Two plays later, Jarest connecting with Casado again and used a sneak to get a first down at the 18-yard line with 57 seconds left.
Jarest hit Nault for a touchdown on the next play, setting up the two-point conversion attempt.
“On the road, I just wanted to go,” said KP head coach Brian Lee of the decision to go for two and the win. “I would have liked to have a timeout, get the right play call that we wanted there but in the end, we wanted to go for it, I’m just not sure we had what we wanted. We had to burn a lot of timeouts in the third quarter and that kind of put us in a bind down the stretch.”
While King Philip’s comeback attempt was impressive, Mansfield’s stretch to end the third quarter and begin the fourth was a complete game changer.
The Warriors opened the second half with a 14-7 lead and the ball. In typical fashion, KP marched down the field on 11-plays, moving into Mansfield territory and eating up over five minutes of clock.
But the Hornets got the stop they needed and forced a turnover on downs. Two plays into Mansfield’s ensuing drive, quarterback Aidan Sacco (seven rushes, 66 yards), kept the option play himself and scampered 42 yards. Two plays later, Cincere Gill took the jet sweep to the left side for a 7-yard touchdown, tying the game 14-14 after Michael DeBolt’s extra point (4/4 PAT).
“We felt like if we could score and tie it at home, we could get some momentum. We just had that run there where everything went right. Give [King Philip] credit, it looked like they were on the ropes and they battled back and found a way to get it to one play to win the game, and we made a good defensive play. These are two good football teams, I guarantee we’ll play again. I just hope its in the South final and not the first or second round.
King Philip tried to pass for a first down on its next series, but Mansfield’s Vinnie Holmes leaped into the air to snag an interception, giving the Hornets terrific field position. On Mansfield’s first place, Nick Marciano bounced off a tackle up the middle, cut out to the right, and then cut back past two defenders to give Mansfield a 21-14 on a 31-yard touchdown rush.
On the ensuing kickoff, Mansfield’s Sean Weber was able to knock the ball free, and junior Jack Cappelletti pounced. Two plays later, Sacco kept it himself and went for a 23-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“We talked about what we needed to fix at halftime, and we just came out in the second half and made plays,” Sacco said. “The defense stepped up and made plays, the offense had some big runs, and I think that helped us.
“We like to establish the run game early on, and we have the three backs. With those three, when the third and fourth quarters come around, they aren’t expecting me to pull it and run. We used it a couple of times and got a couple of breaks and capitalized on it.”
With 10:51 left in the game, Mansfield led 28-14.
“I think that stop [early in the second half] and then Aidan popped a big one,” Redding said of what turned things around. “Just getting it tied up, we were able to feed off that. We got another stop and got the momentum and the crowd behind us, and I think they had a turnover, and we were able to take advantage of.
“Just having that fourth running option makes a big difference. It’s hard to defend three good backs, but when you add the QB as the fourth, it can really complicate things defensively.”
For as entertaining as the second half was, neither team really settled in during the first half. Both teams opened with a punt, and then the Warriors capitalized on a bad snap on the second Hornet drive for great field position. Mansfield’s defense held strong, and KP settled for a 23-yard field goal from Cole Baker with 3:31 left in the opening quarter.
Mansfield didn’t wait long to respond. On the first play of the next drive, Marciano found some space up the middle, cut back and turned on the jets, racing for an 80-yard touchdown and a 7-3 advantage.
KP’s offense marched 66 yards on its third drive, using 10 plays – mostly on the back of junior running back Ryan Halliday (27 carries, 90 yards) – to get close to the Mansfield red zone. But a big tackle for loss from Philip Dinov, and a tipped pass from linebacker Chris Copponi forced the Warriors to settle for a 33-yard boot from Baker.
The Hornet offense sputtered for the rest of the first half, and a punt-turned-run fell well short of the sticks. KP made the Hornets pay as Jarest connected with a wide-open Nault for a 24-yard touchdown. KP converted the two-point conversion, but it was called back for a hold. The Warriors went for two again anyways, and the pass was incomplete.
Mansfield ended up going backward 10 yards on its next drive, pinned deep in its own territory. On fourth down, Sacco killed some clock out of the punt formation before taking an intentional safety, giving KP a 14-7 lead with 1:56 left in the half.
“I will say, the one thing that we’re doing decent right now, is that when we’re on the field, we compete,” Lee said. “We still make a lot of mistakes which is on me. I don’t think we’re overly talented but they compete, and they put themselves in a position to steal that game at the end. I think we can build on that because that was a tough team we played today.”
Redding said he felt giving up the two points on the safety was a better option than a Baker field goal, or a KP touchdown.
“We felt like they had a lot of momentum and we felt like if we punted out of our end zone, they were going to get the ball at the 30 or 35-yard line, and at minimum, they bang a field goal,” Redding said. “If they score, now we’re in trouble. We felt like if we went down seven, it was still in reach. Thank god the defense stopped them after the kick, or you really look like an idiot there. But we got it to seven and then got the stop and survived it. It just felt like we couldn’t get out of that end of the field.”
Mansfield football (3-1 overall, 2-0 Kelley-Rex) takes sole possession of first place in the Kelley-Rex with the win. The Hornets are back in action when they travel to Taunton (3-1, 1-1). King Philip (2-2, 1-1) will try to bounce back when it welcome Thanksgiving Day rival Franklin (3-1, 1-1) to Macktaz Field.