Charles, Attleboro Get Past Franklin In Overtime

Qualeem Charles
Attleboro’s Qualeem Charles (right) goes up for a shot against Franklin’s Sean Leonard in the second quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Having to try and match up with Attleboro’s 6-foot-5, 295-pound center Qualeem Charles for 32 minutes is one of the toughest covers in the entire Hockomock League.

Having to try and stop him for four more minutes in overtime just might be impossible.

Franklin stormed back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game in the final seconds and send the game to overtime but Charles scored half of Attleboro’s points in the overtime period to help the Bombardiers secure a 51-46 decision in overtime.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Charles scored 13 of his game-high 18 points after halftime and hauled of his 17 rebounds after the break as well.

“We always want to go inside, they did a nice job of challenging him early,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “He’s very unselfish so a lot of the times he got the ball he was kicking it out and we were getting great looks and we weren’t knocking them down. We told him in the second half when you touch the ball, you shoot the ball and he did that more consistently. If he didn’t score the field goal, he went to the line and he hit his foul shots which was key for us.”

After Mason Houle (nine points) and Will Harvey traded three-pointers to open the extra stanza, the Bombardiers got Charles going inside. Kevin Velazquez (six points, nine rebounds) found the big man in the post and Charles used a nice post move to go up two.

The teams traded misses before Attleboro came up short on a Tim Callahan three. But Callahan was quick to hustle back on defense and drew a charge to get the ball back with 1:32 to play and a 46-44 lead.

Attleboro went back inside and Charles was fouled, hitting one of two attempts to extend the lead to 47-44. Franklin missed a three and Charles came down with a big rebound. On the offensive end, the Panthers’ collapsed to try and cover Charles, allowing Velazquez to take it strong to the basket for two.

Franklin once again came up short on a layup attempt and Charles hauled in the rebound while being fouled. He hit two free throws to give Attleboro 51-46 lead with 28 seconds and that’s how the game finished.

After putting up just five shots in the first half total, Charles attempted five field goals in the third quarter and then went 2-for-2 in the fourth.

“I was definitely overlooking at times, I wanted to find teammates,” Charles said. “I know my teammates can make those big shots but they weren’t falling tonight so I had to try and close it out. Eventually my shot started falling. Their bigger players started getting in foul trouble, so I was getting more of a mismatch so I was able to convert.”

There wasn’t much happening for either side in the first half. The teams combined for just six made field goals in the opening eight minutes with Franklin senior Jalen Samuels (eight points, 10 rebounds, five assists) finding Thomas Gasbarro for a layup right before the buzzer to give Franklin a 9-7 edge.

But that would be the last field goal Franklin would make for the half. The Panthers were held scoreless for nearly the entire second quarter. Sean Leonard hit a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left to get Franklin on the board.

Meanwhile while Attleboro’s offense didn’t exactly catch fire, it was able to use an 8-0 run over the first seven minutes. Bryant Ciccio and Nick McMahon made shots while Callahan and Houle sank two free throws apiece. A late bucket from Charles gave Attleboro a 17-11 lead at half.

“It’s a problem, he’s a big kid, and there’s not a lot of guys that can move him when he gets position where he wants to be,” Neely said of matching up with Charles. “We had a plan that was working early but late in the game, I think guys were a bit tired. I stuck with the same lineup for a long time. They get worn down banging around with him for a whole game and he was able to get some baskets, he’s a tough cover.”

The offenses for both sides came alive to start the second half. The Panthers matched their first half production in just over five minutes in the third quarter. Buckets from Chris Edgehill (12 points, eight rebounds), Jake Macchi, and Leonard brought the Panthers within two, 24-22, with 3:46 left in the third.

Attleboro answered with a 10-0 run to close the third quarter. Ciccio, Charles, and Houle hit back-to-back-to-back layups, and McMahon converted down low after a nice offensive rebound and pass from Velazquez to give the Bombardiers a 32-22 advantage heading into the final quarter.

“Coming into the game we talked about defensive stops and consecutive defensive stops and Franklin is terrific at it,” Houle said. “The last three games they’ve given up 40 points or less and they lead the league in defensive scoring average. So we knew we were going to have to execute. We wanted to take care of the ball, be strong with the ball, and attacking them when we can on ball reversals. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but neither did they, and I think that’s a credit to both defenses.”

It appeared the Bombardiers had the game in hand when they pushed the lead to 37-22 on a Callahan triple, a 15-point advantage with six minutes left.

But Attleboro’s offense stalled as the Panthers continued their pressure defensively. And over those six minutes, shots began to fall for the visitors. Steve Karayan drained a three after a steal from Will Harvey then Edgehill drained a transition three after an Attleboro turnover to make it 37-31 with three minutes to go.

Samuels hit a free throw and Harvey came up with another steal that led to two made free throws, cutting the deficit to 37-34 with two minutes left. After a five-second call on the inbounds, Harvey sank another free throw to make it 37-35.

Attleboro finally got some points on the board when Callahan hit Charles down low and the junior converted with a nice spin move. But Karayan drained another triple to make it a one-point game with just over a minute to go.

Velazquez missed but was fouled as he hustled for the offensive rebound and he sank two free throws with 42.6 to play.

Franklin came up short on the tying three, but the offensive rebound was batted out and corralled. Attleboro chose to foul with a three-point lead with 8.4 to go. The strategy worked as Franklin missed both free throws but the rebound was batted out to Edgehill, who alertly made an extra mass to Karayan for a straightaway three-pointer with 2.4 left, sending the game into overtime tied 41-41.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We found something that was working down the stretch,” Neely said.”But in the end, we weren’t ourselves in the first half. We weren’t playing the way we needed to play if we wanted to win. You can get away with that sometimes but not on the road at Attleboro in a big game tonight. We played good defense in the first half but they opened it up in the second half. I’m proud of them, they stuck with it. They shared the ball and got back into the game. Free throws hurt us, and that’s cost us basically in every loss this year. It’s frustrating to have a good offensive possession and get to the line and come away with nothing.

“We had a 15 point lead and they whittled it down to go to overtime, that’s Franklin,” Houle said. “They are a very good, gritty team. We knew coming in it wouldn’t be an easy game. As they were coming back, it felt like we weren’t playing to win anymore, we were just trying to hold on. After one of the timeouts, we talked about playing to win. We started to play with a bit more energy and were able to make some plays.”

Attleboro boys basketball (9-1 Hockomock, 12-2 overall) is back in action on Tuesday on the road at Milford. Franklin (7-3, 9-4) is also on the road with a trip to Sharon on tap.

Tuesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/22/19

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
Sharon, 40 @ Attleboro, 68 – FinalAttleboro scored 19 points in the second quarter to create a double-digit advantage and then outscored the Eagles 20-5 in the third to run away with the victory. The Bombardiers had four players in double figures, led by junior Qualeem Charles’ 15 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Bryant Ciccio added 13 points, Tim Callahan had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Kevin Velazquez finished with 10 points. Andrew Burton had eight points and Kiran Chandrasekaran added seven points for the Eagles.

Canton, 58 @ Taunton, 63 – FinalThe Tigers and Bulldogs were tied 38-38 after three quarters but Taunton was able to outscore the visitors 25-20 in the final frame to get the win. Taunton senior John Martins scored 25 of his career-high 30 points in the second half, including 12 in the fourth quarter, to pace the shorthanded Tigers. Michael Quinn tied a career-high with 17 points and sophomore Danny MacDougall scored six points in his varsity debut. Canton’s Devin Foster had a game-high 25 points, including surpassing the 1,000 point plateau for his career. Kyle Fitzgerald added 10 points for the Bulldogs.

Foxboro, 37 @ Franklin, 61 – FinalFranklin raced out to a 13-0 start but Foxboro battled back to make it a six-point game (29-23) at half. But the Panthers dominated the third quarter, outscoring the visitors 23-5 in the frame and allowed a total of 14 points in the second half to earn the win. Franklin senior Will Harvey had a career-high 15 points while Jalen Samuels and Thomas Gasbarro each added eight points. Foxboro sophomore Kevin Gallagher scored a team-high eight points.

Stoughton, 52 @ Mansfield, 72 – FinalStoughton kept it close for three quarters but Mansfield finished strong to earn the win at home. The Hornets led by six (21-15) after one and eight (32-24) at halftime. The Black Knights kept pace with Mansfield in the third but couldn’t overcome a nine-point deficit heading into the final quarter. Mansfield won the fourth 18-7 to secure the win. Junior Sam Stevens had a team-high 14 points, sophomore TJ Guy added 13 points, senior Tommy Dooling hit four three pointers for 12 points, and junior Owen Mullahy netted a career-high 10 points. Junior center Tahkwan Gates Brown led the Black Knights with 12 points.

Milford, 47 @ Oliver Ames, 56 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Girls Basketball
Attleboro, 44 @ Sharon, 52 – FinalEmma Eberhardt scored 22 points to pace the Eagles to an important home win. Telishya Herbert also got into double digits for Sharon, scoring 10 points.

Taunton, 43 @ Canton, 54 – FinalSydney Gallery scored a game-high 15 points to get the Bulldogs back in the win column. Erin Devine also came off the bench to add eight points and a strong presence on the boards for Canton. The Tigers were led by Lily Patneaude’s 13 points.

Franklin, 52 @ Foxboro, 40 – FinalClick here for a Recap and a Photo Gallery from this game.

Mansfield, 61 @ Stoughton, 32 – FinalSydney Mulkern continued her string of strong performances with 12 points for the Hornets, who broke open the game by holding Stoughton to just 12 points in the second half. Mady Bendanillo added nine and Emily Vigeant had eight in the win. Stoughton junior Aliyah Wright had a team-high 11 points.

Oliver Ames, 90 @ Milford, 29 – Final

Boys Swimming
Foxboro, 57 @ Milford, 87 – FinalFoxboro’s Dimitri Davis and Thomas Perry Jr. each had individual wins and the Warriors’ 400 relay team took first but Milford earned the win in the pool. Davis won the 100 backstroke (1:20), Perry Jr. took first in the 100 breaststroke (1:24), and the team of Jared Roke, Kris Andersen, Josh Sitte, and Spencer SanBento (5:37) won the 400 relay for Foxboro.

Girls Swimming
Foxboro, 78 @ Milford, 83 – FinalFoxboro’s 400 relay team took first while Pam Nelson and Lindsey Nelson each had individual wins but Milford edged the Warriors for the win. The team of Gina Ouellette, Jenna Stamatov, Kendall Milender, and Shannon Egan touched in 4:48 to win the 400 relay. Pam Nelson was the winner in the 200IM (2:31) and Linsey Nelson was first in the 100 breaststroke (1:24).

Franklin Grinds Out Close Win Over Taunton

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Will Harvey (33) defends a shot from Taunton’s Michael Quinn (2) in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – After seeing a large first half lead disappear, the Franklin boys basketball team was on the verge of letting a second half lead evaporate as well.

Holding a five-point lead with 1:30 to, Franklin’s advantage quickly shrunk to just one after a putback from Taunton senior Michel Quinn and a strong take from Lou Vendrell with 39.8 to go.

The Panthers, after scoring 20 points in the first quarter, had been limited to just 30 over the next 23 minutes and were in need of a spark. After a timeout, Franklin got the ball into the hands of junior Chris Edgehill (13 points, five assists), and he took advantage of a Taunton miscommunication after a double screen to get enough separation for a three with 20 seconds left, helping secure a 50-45 win over Taunton.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“It was absolutely a grind,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Getting off to a great start helps a lot especially when you aren’t playing your best in the middle quarters. The second and third quarters we got really stagnant on offense. We stopped doing everything we did in the first quarter that was working. We weren’t running the floor as hard, we weren’t cutting or screening as hard, we weren’t reacting off screens really well. The motion got stymied, we weren’t moving the ball.”

Franklin was nearly flawless in the opening quarter, racing out to an 18-2 lead over the first six and a half minutes finishing with a 20-6 advantage after one. The Panthers shot 54% from the field and forced seven turnovers to build a big lead.

What looked like a potential blowout slowly turned into a dogfight as the Tigers scratched and clawed their way back in the game. Taunton’s defense stepped up to limit Franklin to just nine points in the second quarter while its offense found a grove, scoring 17.

Quinn (13 points) and John Martins (11 points, eight rebounds, five assists) each hit a three, preceded by a bucket by Vendrell. Two free throws from Dante Law (who missed the majority of the game with foul trouble and fouled out with 5:36 left on a questionable call) cut the deficit to four, 22-18, before Franklin answered with three straight points. Law, Edgehill, Vendrell, Jalen Samuels, and Naz Kenion all missed minutes on the second due to foul trouble.

Taunton’s bench was able to provide a spark with Tyler Stewart (six points, five rebounds), Josh Lopes, Fabio Goncalves, and Krishon Nairne (two rebounds, block) coming to to give the Tigers some valuable minutes. A late three-point play from Jack Rudolph extended Franklin’s lead to eight but Martins responded with a triple. Franklin led 29-23 at half.

“That first quarter was one of the best quarters we’ve had all season,” Neely said.”I think what happens is you get that lead early, you start feeling like you don’t have to work as hard. You start taking some bad shots and then they hit a couple and make a couple of hustle plays, and all of a sudden it’s a close game. Those guys play hard, they are a good team, they have a lot of pride. I give them a lot of credit, they battled back and took a lead on us after going down big. Taunton did a good job, I was impressed with their fight.”

Quinn sandwiched two buckets around one from Martin to knot the game early in the third, and a bucket in low from Stewart gave Taunton its first lead at 31-29.

“In the second and third quarters, we did a nice job defensively,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “But with our offense, we have to maximize our opportunities and I felt like we had too many quick shots tonight. We have to be more patient and run our stuff.”

That’s when the Panthers turned to Samuels (12 points, eight rebounds), a senior captain, to weather the Tigers’ push. Samuels answered with a nice take to tie the game, and then used a two-handed flush to put Franklin back ahead. Samuels made a heads up play on defense, intercepting a pass and going the length of the court for a bucket while being fouled. His free throw completed the three-point play and put Franklin up 36-35.

“That’s a classic Jalen game, when we need him most he shows up,” Neely said. “Those takes to the rim late were huge for us. Defensively, he just finds a way, I know his back is killing him but he had some nice rebounds. I thought he made all the big plays for us down the stretch for us besides Chris’ three.”

Taunton closed the third with a mini 4-0 run – a free throw from Kenion, a layup from Stewart, and a technical free throw from Martins – to make it 36-35 heading into the final frame.

Will Harvey (12 points, seven rebounds) scored early and then capitalized on a Taunton turnover by adding a free throw to put Franklin up 39-37. Thomas Gasbarro and Kenion traded buckets before Samuels extended Franklin’s lead to four with 3:38 to play.

Taunton had three looks but couldn’t convert but Quinn pickpocketed Edgehill at half court and went in for two to make it 43-41. Harvey hit a free throw after being fouled on an offensive rebound and Gasbarro drove to the basket for two after a Taunton turnover to make it 46-41 with 1:30 to go.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We just talked about what’s made us great over the years and that’s defense and that’s what we have to rely on now,” Neely said. “So down the stretch I went with more of a defensive lineup so we could get some stops. Putting Tom and [Jake] Macchi in there, they really grinded it out. Tom made some big plays for us, got some turnovers and gave us a huge lift defensively.

Quinn scored on a putback after a missed three Franklin got a stop and Vendrell drove to the basket for two with 39.8 left but Edgehill’s triple sealed the win.

Franklin boys basketball (4-2 Hockomock, 6-3 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to North Attleboro. Taunton (4-2, 7-3) will try to bounce back when it travels to Milford on the same day.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 12/14/18

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
Mansfield, 62 @ Attleboro, 63 – Final (OT)Attleboro junior Bryant Ciccio (24 points) hit a couple of clutch free throws between the end of regulation and the overtime period to help the Bombardiers earn the win. Mansfield senior Tommy Dooling (16 points) converted a putback with eight seconds left to give the Hornets a 58-57 lead but Ciccio hit a free throw with 0.6 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The Hornets held a 62-59 lead with under a minute to go in the extra period but a steal and layup from Mason Houle (10 points) made it a one-point game with 32 seconds to play. After getting a stop, Ciccio hit two free throws to put Attleboro up 63-62. The Bombardiers forced a backcourt violation, got the clock down to 2.4 seconds, missed a pair of free throws but prevented Mansfield from getting a shot off at the final buzzer. “I’m proud of our effort, we stayed together and made big plays tonight in crucial situations on both ends of the court,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We made it a priority to make the next play and didn’t panic.” Qualeem Charles added 15 points for Attleboro while Tim Callahan had 10 points. Damani Scott added 16 points and Matt Boen finished with 11 points for the Hornets.

Foxboro, 60 @ Canton, 65 – FinalCanton outscored Foxboro 43-31 between the two middle quarters, helping the Bulldogs turn an early deficit into a lead it never relinquished. Junior Kyle Fitzgerald scored 14 of his 16 points in those two periods while senior Devin Foster spread his 16 points out among all four corners. Ryan Lentol connected on four three-pointers for a career-high 14 points while Robbie Gallery added nine for Canton. Foxboro sophomore Kevin Gallagher scored a team-high 14 points, senior Anthony Mollica added 13 points, and junior Brandon Borde finished with 12 points.

King Philip, 39 @ Franklin, 62 – FinalAfter scoring 21 points in the first half, Franklin exploded for 21 points in the third quarter along to pull away from the Warriors. The Panthers led 21-13 at half but held a 42-29 advantage through three quarters. The Panthers added 20 more points in the final frame. Junior Chris Edgehill netted a team-high 16 points while Jack Rudolph added 14 points and Thomas Gasbarro finished with 13 points. Alex Fritz had a team-high 13 points for King Philip.

Sharon, 51 @ Milford, 66 – FinalHolding a three-point lead at halftime, up 28-25, Milford opened the second half with a 12-0 run and never looked back in a win over Sharon. Milford senior Brendan White poured in a career-high 29 points while hauling in 14 rebounds to pace the Scarlet Hawks. Brendon Sailer scored nine of his 13 points in the third quarter to help the Hawks create separation. Colby Pires and Jordan Darling pitched in with eight points apiece. Aidan Kane scored a team-high 12 points for Sharon with Ben Kaplan and Caleb Gayle each chipping in with eight points each.

Stoughton, 45 @ North Attleboro, 44 – FinalStoughton junior Ajahn Rue hit the game-winning three pointer with 1.8 seconds left to lift the Black Knights to the win on the road. Stoughton led 42-41 late in the game before North Attleboro junior George Ladd drained a three to put the Rocketeers ahead 44-42. On the ensuing inbounds, Rue (12 points) brought the ball up and pulled up for the three to put the Black Knights back ahead. Stoughton junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the second half, helping the Black Knights rally from a 26-19 deficit at half. Evan Rosenberg led North Attleboro with 12 points and Nate Gonsalves chipped in with 10 points.

Taunton, 53 @ Oliver Ames, 50 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.

Girls Basketball
Attleboro, 51 @ Mansfield, 63 – FinalMaggie Danehy had a career-high 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Hornets, helping Mansfield earn its first league win of the season. The Hornets trailed after the first quarter but an 18-10 second pushed Mansfield ahead for good. Sophomore Ashley Santos also had a career-high with 11 points in the win and Becca Hottleman had eight points and four assists. Attleboro was led for the second game in a row by Mackenzie Roberts, who scored eight, while Jordyn Lako and Liv McCall each had seven points.

Canton, 61 @ Foxboro, 86 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Franklin, 62 @ King Philip, 34 – FinalAli Brigham continued her strong start to the season, scoring 28 points to lead the Panthers to a second straight win. Franklin jumped in front 46-14 after three quarters with Megan O’Connell adding 19 points and Bea Bondhus scoring six. KP was led by Faye Veilleux with 14 points.

Milford, 41 @ Sharon, 54 – FinalTelishya Herbert scored a game-high and career-high 30 points, sparking the Eagles to their first win of the season. Emma Eberhardt added eight points in the win. Emma Lawrence scored 22 of Milford’s 41 points in the loss, which was a career-high for her, and Katie Maietta had eight in the loss.

North Attleboro, 51 @ Stoughton, 62 – FinalSophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe bounced back from a tough opener against OA with 19 points, seven assists, and four steals, while junior Aliyah Wright had 18 points and eight rebounds to get the Black Knights their first win of the season. Senior Lindsay McDonald double-digit rebounds for the second straight game, pulling down 18 boards in the win.

Oliver Ames, 63 @ Taunton, 51 – FinalOA pulled away late in a close game that featured a lot of runs from both sides and moved to 2-0 on the season. Senior All Scolnick paced OA with 22 points and classmate Sadie Homer ran the game at the point for the Tigers. Taunton was led by Jaelyn Fernandez with 17 points and Sonya Fernandez with 12.

Boys Swimming
Foxboro, 36 @ Taunton, 49 – FinalA sophomore, a freshman, and an eighth grader all won a pair of events to lead the Tigers to a win in their first meet of the season. Sophomore Garrett Rainey won both the 200 free and the 500 free, freshman Tim Luc won the 200 IM (2:20.92) and the 100 fly (59.12), and eighth grader Gerald Grealish touched first in the 100 free (59.21) and 100 breaststroke (1:12.13). Taunton’s 200 medley relay of Brady Callahan, Peter Ye, Tim Luc, and Martin Dafov and 400 free relay of Callahan, Grealish, Ye, and Luc both took first. The Warriors took first and second in the 200 relay with Ben Dorman, Thomas Perry, Dimitrios Davis, and Thomas VanDell taking first in 1:57 and the team of Jared Roke, Kris Andersen, Spencer SanBento, and Joseph St. Pierre coming in second. VanDell added a second place finish in the 50 free for Foxboro.

Franklin, 36 @ Stoughton, 7 – Final

Girls Swimming
Foxboro, 53 @ Taunton, 41 – FinalFoxboro took first place in six individual races and one relay race to earn a victory over Taunton. Pam Nelson and Lindsey Nelson earned a pair of wins, with Pam touching first in the 200 IM (2:31) and the 100 free (1:02) and Lindsey winning the 500 free (6:21) and 100 breaststroke (1:24), Sarah Egan won the 200 free (2:29) and Gina Ouellette earned first in the 100 fly (1:14). Foxboro’s 200 relay team of Nelson, Nelson, Ooullette and Egan earned first in 2:01. For Taunton, freshman Angelina Lynch won the 50 free (27.12) and eighth grader Tiffany Ye won the 100 backstroke (1:09.42). Taunton’s 200 medley relay of Jacalin Gallagher, Ye, Marisa Gay, and Lynch and the 400 free relay of Gallagher, Macey Jorge, Gay, and Ye both took first place.

Franklin, 73 @ Stoughton, 31 – FinalFranklin’s 200 free relay team of Heather McCarthy, Alyssa LaPuma, Katie Chew, and Katie Cashin qualified for sectionals with a time of 1:53.97.

Hornets Ride Defense, Ground Game to Beat Franklin

Mansfield football
Mansfield junior Vinnie Holmes accounted for 104 yards of offense and a touchdown, as well as double-digit tackles, as Mansfield beat Franklin at Alumni Field. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield started Friday night’s league-opener at Alumni Field with back-up quarterback Jack Mousette under center. He lasted two series before an injury, following a 38-yard run, sent him to the sidelines for the rest of the night. With starter Damani Scott unavailable and Mousette on the bench with his arm wrapped in ice, the Hornets turned to senior Aidan Sacco to be the emergency QB.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sacco only threw five times in the game, but he completed three of those passes for 42 yards and the Mansfield defense clamped down, forcing three turnovers in the second half and shutting Franklin out until the final two minutes of a 24-6 victory.

“It’s a gutsy win,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “Jack comes in and did a nice job running the ball but the danger doing that is your QB is going to run and get hit and he just landed funny. Aidan Sacco came in…he’s never played quarterback in his life and he leads us to a win against a good football team, so we’ll take it.”

Franklin started the season 2-0 for the first time since 2012 and was looking for its first win against Mansfield since its unbeaten 2009 season. The Panthers moved the ball well, but failed to finish drives, twice reaching the red zone but both times coming away with no points.

“It was one of those night where try as we may, we did everything wrong that we could’ve from bad special teams snap, we dropped two touchdowns, every time they put the ball on the ground they got it back” Franklin coach Eian Bain said. “I even think we executed, we just didn’t finish the big plays.”

The Panthers drove all the way to the Mansfield 15-yard-line on their opening possession. Junior Thomas Gasbarro completed two of his three passes, both to Sean Leonard (six catches, 82 yards), but a draw play at the 19 lost six yards and eventually his keeper on fourth and 15 only gained nine to end the drive.

Mansfield made quick work of an 85-yard drive, needing only four plays, to take the lead, but in the process lost its starting quarterback. After Nick Marciano broke free on the right side for a 28-yard gain out to the 43, Mousette raced for 38 yards down to the Franklin 19 but was forced to leave the game with a shoulder injury. Two plays later, Sacco went up the middle for a 14-yard score.

Sacco also fielded punts and his 29-yard return gave the Hornets the ball back at the Franklin 41. Junior Vinnie Holmes (11 carries, 65 yards) gained 27 yards on two carries to get the ball all the way to the Panthers 12, but a fumble on the next hand-off forced Sacco to retreat 18 yards. Two plays later, Michael DeBolt, who was also 3-for-3 on extra points, booted a 35-yard kick for a 10-0 lead.

Franklin’s offense went right back to work on its next possession. Senior Nick Gordon (10-23, 174 yards) was the new quarterback and he found Leonard twice in a row for 43 yards down to the Mansfield 17. On third and seven from the 14, Gordon scrambled and his pass to Ryan Driscoll in the back of the end zone was inches over the receiver’s head. The Panthers settled for a field goal attempt but Parker Chevrant’s kick was wide right from 30 yards.

Gasbarro intercepted a Sacco pass to end the next Hornets drive, but he slipped on the return and couldn’t gain extra yards after the turnover. Franklin was forced to punt from its own 32, but a high snap rushed the play and it was sliced out of bounds just six yards downfield.

Mansfield made the great starting field position count to add a score before the break. After an incomplete pass, Sacco hit Holmes in the flat for a 28-yard gain. Sacco was unable to handle the next shotgun snap but Holmes was able to scoop the loose ball and gain eight yards. On the next play, he bulldozed for two more and a three-score lead.

Redding said of the late touchdown to end the first half, “That was big. You outplay them but it’s only 10 and you give them the ball to start the half and they score and it’s a whole different game. Then we thought, if we can win the third quarter, which it ended up 0-0, as long as we didn’t let them get back to two scores.”

The third quarter was marred by turnovers by both teams. Gordon was intercepted by Cincere Gill and then sacked by Chris Copponi and Daenin Walker to end a possession. Austin Jordan recovered a Mansfield fumble to get it back for the Panthers but only three plays later the Panthers put the ball on the ground and Jack Barry recovered.

“We do a pretty good regrouping, but I think we pressed a little on the first drive coming out,” said Bain. “Then we moved the ball again and we moved the ball again, but we all took turns tonight, coaches included, making the little mistakes. When you play the best, you can’t play anything but your best and we weren’t at our best tonight.”

Late in the fourth quarter, Walker forced another fumble that was recovered by Copponi at midfield. Gill (eight carries, 95 yards) gained four yards on first down and then burst through the right side of the line and raced 46 yards for the touchdown that sealed the win.

The Panthers didn’t give up and responded in just four plays. Gordon hit Driscoll on a go route down the near sideline that made sure there wouldn’t be a shutout. The two-point conversion attempt fell incomplete.

Mansfield came away with a win, but the Hornets will now head into a showdown with two-time defending league champion King Philip with a third-string quarterback at the helm. According to Redding, the Hornets will be relying even more on their defense to come through.

“We had to get this one,” Redding admitted. “We lose this with a quarterback going down, now we’re fighting a losing battle. Now, Aidan’s got some confidence playing in a game. Our guys will be ready for next Friday. They’ve had our number the last few years and we’ll be ready to play.”

Mansfield (2-1, 1-0) will host King Philip at Alumni Field on Friday night, while Franklin (2-1, 0-1) will try to bounce back right away when Oliver Ames visits Pisini Field.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin Scores Shutout Win at Rival Milford

Franklin football
Evan Wertz (25) celebrates a fumble on Milford’s opening possession of the game. Franklin scored either side of halftime and held the Hawks scoreless to win 21-0. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MILFORD, Mass. – On its opening three possessions of the game, Franklin managed about 30 yards of offense and turned the ball over twice. But the Panthers got one more chance to break the scoreless deadlock before halftime and made it count, scoring on the final play of the second quarter.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The momentum carried over into the second half, as Franklin would score on both of its possessions in the third quarter to break Friday night’s rivalry game with Milford wide open and pull away for a 21-0 victory that sends the Panthers into league play with a 2-0 record.

“It’s a big win for us,” said Franklin coach Eian Bain. “This is a tough place to play. To get out of here 2-0, and more importantly 1-0 this week and focused on this task, we’re going to enjoy it for 24 hours.”

The game did not get off to a start that either team would have hoped for, with turnovers on the opening two plays. Shapel Feaster fumbled on the first play from scrimmage for the Hawks, but he made up for it on defense by forcing a Jack Nally fumble at the one-yard-line on Franklin’s first play.

Both defenses were in control for most of the opening half.

A Brendan White sack of Franklin starting quarterback Thomas Gasbarro ended one drive and Ryan Pearl picked off a pass by Nick Gordon, Franklin’s second quarterback, to end another. Milford was trying to mix things up, spreading out the Panthers on one play and bunching up on a power set on another, but the Panthers defense stood tall.

With under two minutes remaining in the half, Franklin took possession at its own 42. Gordon (6-11, 147 yards) hit Nally down the sideline for 21 yards and then found Ryan Driscoll (four catches, 115 yards) for nine yards to the Milford 28.

After an incomplete pass, Franklin had eight seconds left in the quarter. Gordon dropped back and again looked down the far sideline where Driscoll had gotten open in between two defensive backs for the game’s opening score.

Milford coach Anthony Vizakis admitted that it was a deflating moment for his team. He said, “It was because they knew we were close to going in with a 0-0 ballgame and that’s a totally different mentality. It’s a totally different feeling. I thought we came out [for the second half] with a little energy but it just wasn’t enough for tonight.”

The Panthers took control with the opening possession of the second half, marching 75 yards on seven plays to make it a two-score game. Gordon again hit Driscoll on a go-route down the sideline for 38 yards into Milford territory and then found Will Davis for another 11 yards. Three plays, including two Gordon keepers, later, Gordon was able to scramble and keep a play alive before finding a seam for a seven-yard score.

The Milford offense had to try and speed up, focusing on the spread formation and the passing game to try and cut into the lead, but that also played right into the strength of the Franklin defense – its secondary.

“With a two touchdown lead, you sort of take war off the table,” said Bain about Milford’s run-first set. “Our strength of the defense is our speed…whereas the war is what they do best and they can dictate to an opponent. To get them out of that was a big step in the second half.”

Milford’s junior quarterback Colby Pires completed three of his four passes in the first half, but with the Panthers dropping back into coverage then he was only able to complete two of 14 passes in the second half. Driscoll and Nally both broke up passes in coverage and Nolan McLaney was able to bat a pass down at the line of scrimmage.

“We had the clock against us and sometimes when you’re down two scores you try to speed things up a little bit,” Vizakis explained. “It was frustrating because we just couldn’t hit anything over the top.”

Franklin’s success defending the pass was largely done without getting much pressure on Pires. Adam McMorrow had the only sack of the game for the Panthers and it came on Milford’s possession.

Franklin made it three straight possessions with a touchdown and sealed the win before the end of the third quarter. The Panthers went 57 yards on 11 plays, including a 40-yard pass from Gordon to Driscoll. On third and goal from the six, Gordon took a keeper to the left side and snuck inside the pylon with a leap over the goal line.

Parker Chevrant made it three for three on extra points for a 21-0 lead.

Bain said, “We do spend some time talking about scramble drill and Nick’s able to that. It was a great night for the boys.”

“They run the spread very well,” Vizakis said. “Their quarterback runs the ball very well and we’ve just got to stay in our assignments, stay disciplined.”

Franklin (2-0) will open Kelley-Rex division play next Friday night at Alumni Field against Mansfield. Milford (0-2) will look for its first win when it starts Davenport division play with a visit from Canton.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Football: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2018 Kelley-Rex Football Preview
Mansfield quarterback Damani Scott (6) will try to help the Hornets challenge for the Kelley-Rex title this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Football Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Strachan

Key/Returning Players: Justin Cote, Sr., RB/OLB; Nick Evans, Sr., OT/DE; Eddie Porreca, Sr., DT; Alex Rodriguez, Sr., RB; Josh Therrien, Sr., WR/FS; Desmond Woodson, Sr., OLB; Qualeem Charles, Jr., OT/DT; Isaac Gudiel, Jr., OG/LB; Nolan Jaeger, Jr., WR/CB; Jason Weir, Jr., QB/DE; Michael Strachan, So., LB/TE

Outlook:
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.”

Franklin

2017 Record: 3-8
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Eian Bain

Key/Returning Players: Ryan Driscoll, Sr., WR/DB; Sean Leonard, Sr., TE; Evan Wertz, Jr., LB; Sean Hofferty, Sr., RB; Liam Arsenault, Sr., OL/DL; Nick Gordon, Sr., QB/DB; Riley Downing, Sr., OL/DL; Will Davis, Sr., WR; Jack Jarosz, Sr., OL/DL; Jack Nally, Jr., WR; Jake Davis, Jr., WR/DB; Dom Natale, Jr., OL/DL; Thomas Gasbarro, Jr., QB/DB; Nolan McLaney, Sr., DB;

Outlook:
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.”

King Philip

2017 Record: 12-0
2017 Finish: MIAA D1A State Champions
Coach: Brian Lee

Key/Returning Players: Jack Webster, Sr., FB/LB; Aidan Bender, Sr., RB/DB; Max Armour, Sr., LB; Luke D’Amico, Sr., DB; Terrell Jacobs Baston, Sr., OL/DL; Ryan Halliday, Jr., RB; Josh Fice, Sr., OL/DL; Nolan Gunning, Jr., OL/DL; David Morganelli, Sr., WR;

Outlook:
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

2017 Record: 8-3
2017 Finish: Reached D1A South Quarterfinal
Coach: Michael Redding

Key/Returning Players: Key/Returning Players: Damani Scott, Sr., QB/FS; Michael DeBolt, Jr., WR/DB/K; Vinnie Holmes, Jr., RB/LB; Makhi Baskin, Jr., RB/DB; Nick Marciano, Jr., RB/DB; Aidan Sacco, Sr., RB/DB; Philip Dinov, Sr., RB/LB; Chris Copponi, Sr., RB/LB; Chris Graham, Jr., OL/DL; Jason Comeau, Jr., OL/DE; Khristian Conner, Sr., WR/DB; Daenin Walker, Sr., OL/DL

Outlook:
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.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 6-5
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mike Holland

Key/Returning Players: Cam Perron, Jr., QB; Dean Pacini, Sr., OL/LB; Darnele Ryan, Sr., LB; Sam Stevens, Jr., DB; Shane Kilkelly, Jr., WR; Nathan Cabral, Jr., RB; Shane Murphy, Sr., OL/LB; Billy Tat, Sr., OL/DL; Luke Thibeault, Sr., OL/DL; Garrett Wood, Sr., OL/DL;

Outlook:
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

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Brad Sidwell

Key/Returning Players: Noah Leonard, Sr., QB; Brayden Merrill, Sr., WR/DB; Tryton Zavala, Sr., WR/DB; Wesner Charles, Sr., WR/DB; Christian Tourinho, Sr., OL/DL; Cam Correiro, Sr., OL/DL; Corey Pintabone, Sr., TE/DL; Ryan Williams, Sr., OL/LB; Jared Rockwood, Sr., TE/DE; Max Moitoso, Sr., RB/LB; Prince Brown, Sr., WR/DB; Mason Frank, Jr., OL/DL

Outlook:
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.”