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.

Warriors Clamp Down on D to Beat Black Knights

Foxboro football
Devin Hassett (10), Louis Piccolo (7), and Sam Erving (51) celebrate after Foxboro’s narrow win over Stoughton; the Warriors’ first win in the series since 2009. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


FOXBORO, Mass. – In a game dominated by defenses and special teams, it was Foxboro senior quarterback Devin Hassett that pulled off arguably the play of the game on a soaked, muddy, and windswept Jack Martinelli Field in Friday’s Davenport division opener.

Facing third and 17 from his own 34 and with the Warriors clinging to a one-point lead over rival Stoughton, Hassett (11 carries, 90 yards) rolled out to the far sideline and followed a caravan of blockers, including classmate Mike Henri, before bursting through the opening for a 43-yard gain deep into Stoughton territory.

Although the Warriors did not score on the drive, the Black Knights were forced to start their final possession backed up inside their own five-yard-line with three minutes remaining. Stoughton drove about 70 yards but Alex Sjoquist was stopped at the Warriors 30 as the clock ran out on Foxboro’s 13-12 victory.

“If we had lost this one they would have taken the sign down probably,” Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli joked after picking up his first win at the field that was renamed for him in the preseason.

“It was a great game,” he added. “It was two hard-hitting teams of kids. I’m so proud of them; they took a tough loss last week in a game where we didn’t make a lot of big plays but we did tonight.”

Foxboro earned its first win over Stoughton since 2009, taking advantage of mistakes by the Black Knights to get its offense going. Stoughton fumbled three times in the opening half and the Warriors scored twice off of those turnovers.

“We haven’t done that in a long, long time,” said Stoughton coach Greg Burke. “That’s our fault. You can’t fumble the ball once you have it; it’s like gold and you better protect it no matter. I’m a little disappointed in that, but we battled.”

Stoughton spent almost the entire first half in its end of the field. Foxboro’s first possession ended in a three-and-out, but Liam Foley’s punt bounced off the leg of a Stoughton player and was recovered by Phil Dure at the Stoughton 35. The Black Knights defense, led by Sjoquist, John Jolley, Jason Joseph, and Anthony Burke, stuffed the Warriors and forced a turnover on downs but Foxboro had the territorial advantage.

“A big factor in the game was Liam Foley’s punting,” Martinelli explained. “It got us out of a hole where we continually went three-and-out, but he flipped the field for us and allowed us to play some good defense.”

In the second quarter, Justin Ly was stripped of the ball near the Stoughton bench and the Warriors recovered the loose ball at the Black Knights’ nine. After a penalty and an incomplete pass, Hassett (3-8, 26 yards) found Dure in the back corner of the end zone from 15 yards out to make it 6-0.

“Their first touchdown was a pattern that we went over all week,” said Burke, “but we just didn’t cover it. Hats off to them. We knew the quarterback was going to roll, get out of the pocket; he did a hell of a job. We got him a few times, but they got us more than we got them.”

The momentum was short-lived, as Ruben Gonzalez snared the ensuring kick-off at his own 11 and raced down the right sideline for a touchdown. Dure blocked the extra point and the score was tied 6-6.

On its next possession, Ly (11 carries, 51 yards) was stripped again and Shawn Teixeira recovered the loose ball for Foxboro at the Stoughton 35. Henri (11 carries, 40 yards) got the call for the Warriors and he burst through the middle for 12 yards on third and four to keep the drive alive and he finished the possession with another bruising 14-yard carry up the middle to give Foxboro the lead.

“I’ll take them anyway we can get them,” said Martinelli about using turnovers to score. “Points have been hard to come by this year, so 13 was a lucky number for us tonight. It was the first time that we’ve gone into halftime with a lead.”

Stoughton had the perfect start to the second half. Facing third and four on the opening possession, Alex Iverson (six carries, 93 yards) took a sweep to the left 26 yards to get near midfield. On the next snap, Iverson took an identical hand-off and this time broke it for a 52-yard score that cut the lead to one.

Dure again blocked the extra point, but an offsides penalty gave Stoughton another chance from a yard closer. Burke decided to go for two and the lead, but Iverson was stuffed on the conversion attempt. That point turned out to be the difference.

“It might have been the winning score,” said Burke of the decision to go for two. “I don’t mind going for that, thought we’d get it in, but it didn’t happen. It’s a big decision, of course it is.”

Foxboro’s defense was equally stout in dealing with the three-back look of the Black Knights and Sam Blake, Matt Pond, and AAlec Brodeur stymied several Stoughton drives.

After Hassett’s big play pushed Stoughton back to its own goal line, the visitors tried to put together one last drive. Iverson gained eight yards on third down and junior quarterback Evan Gibb (9-13, 54 yards) hit Iverson for 15 yards on fourth and 10 to get to the Foxboro 40. On fourth and 15, Gibb hit Colin Sanda for 15 yards on the Foxboro sideline to keep the drive going, but he could not get out of bounds and the clock ran down.

“I thought our guy was out of bounds and we weren’t really sure,” said Burke, “but they wound [the clock] and we should’ve spiked it, stopped it, and maybe had at least one pass. We went 70 yards, but that ain’t enough. If we get to the 20, we have a shot at kicking a field goal.”

Although 13 points was a high for the Foxboro offense this season, the Warriors have won twice and Martinelli said, “We’ve played pretty solid so far. We’ve got to continue; we’ve got to get better at a few things.”

Foxboro (2-1, 1-0) will try to continue its strong start to the league campaign when it travels to Canton. Stoughton (2-1, 0-1) will look to bounce back on Thursday with a trip to Sharon.