MILFORD, Mass. – Milford graduated almost all of its starters from last year’s prolific offense. There were concerns that it may take the Hawks a few weeks to integrate new faces in new positions and start producing close to what they were able to during the Fall II season. It turns out, the new players didn’t need long at all to find their footing.
Junior Isaiah Pantalone (four receptions, 296 yards) touched the ball six times in the game and accounted for three touchdowns and more than 350 total yards. Junior Evan Cornelius stepped into the quarterback position, replacing UMass quarterback Brady Olson, and threw for two scores and rushed for two other. Senior Tyler Lane took over as the primary back from Carter Scudo (also playing at UMass) and rushed for 116 yards and a pair of scores.
It all amounted to a 49-28 season-opening win for the Hawks against Foxboro, one of the favorites in the Davenport division. The Milford sideline clearly felt that they were underrated coming into the year and they believed this was an emphatic statement to the rest of the league that they shouldn’t be overlooked.
“Losing nine kids on offense from last year’s team, but I knew we had a good core group of kids coming up,” said second-year Milford coach Dale Olson. “Our sub-varsity went undefeated and we had some talented kids. You saw that kid tonight, Isaiah Pantalone, he’s a special kid.
“They struggled to stop our run off tackle and made them put everybody in the box and then you get one-on-one matchups and Evan Cornelius delivered the ball a few times.”
Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli admitted that his team struggled to contain Milford’s balanced attack and was undone by allowing too many big plays. “They were a lot more physical than we were and they deserved to win the game. We didn’t quit, we kept coming back, but just didn’t have the ability to stop them in any way or fashion.”
It took only 13 seconds to show how explosive the new faces on offense could be. Milford turned to a little trickery on the first play from scrimmage, as Matt Girard looked upfield on a halfback pass and saw Pantalone all by himself. It was an 80-yard strike that set the tone for how the Hawks would attack.
Foxboro’s offense answered right back on its first possession. The Warriors marched 64 yards on 10 plays, twice converting third downs thanks to offsides calls against Milford, to tie the game. Tom Marcucella rolled out and threw a strike to Tre Stith for a 10-yard score to bring Foxboro level. Marcucella was impressive throughout, completing 26-of-45 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns.
“Offensively, we did what we had to do,” Martinelli said. “It was the other end, the defensive end, we had no answers for them. We’d put seven in the box to stop the run and they were good enough to throw the ball.”
On Foxboro’s second possession, Sam Carpenter (4-for-4 on extra points) attempted a 52-yard kick that was short to the left. By rule, Milford took over at the 20. On third and four, Cornelius fired the ball across the middle to Pantalone, who eluded a pair of Warriors and was off to the races again. This time it was a 74-yard touchdown and a 13-7 lead.
The Warriors had a chance to try and tie or take the lead after Cornelius’ fumble was recovered by Dylan Kerrigan at midfield. Milford’s defense came up with a three-and-out to get the ball back. Carpenter did his job in the punting game, pinning the Hawks at their own two.
Milford proved that it also had the ability to put together a long drive. Lane took the first carry for 22 yards to get out from the shadow of his own end zone and the Hawks never looked back, producing a 10-play, 98-yard drive (six carries for Lane and four for Grant Scudo) to extend the lead. Lane finished it with a one-yard plunge and Cornelius ran in the conversion to make it 21-7.
Foxboro answered right back. Three plays later, Marcucella swung the ball to Dylan Gordon (158 total yards), who proceeded to break three tackles on the sideline, somehow staying inbounds, and broke free for a 76-yard touchdown. Pantalone made sure the momentum was short-lived, returning the ensuing kick 61 yards to the Foxboro 37. Lane got the ball to the one and Cornelius punched it in, restoring the two-score lead.
After nearly hitting a Hail Mary pass to end the half, Foxboro came out and put together another strong drive to start the third quarter. Marcucella was 5-for-5 and found four different receivers on the possession. He picked out Tommy Sharkey on an out-route to the front pylon for an 18-yard touchdown that got the Warriors back within seven.
Lane came up less than a yard short on fourth down at midfield, giving Foxboro the chance to pull even, but again the Hawks were able to make a key defensive stand and force a punt. With Foxboro trying to step up and stop the run, Cornelius hit Pantalone on another slant route. This time it was for 76 yards but Sharkey hustled to delay the touchdown. Two plays later, Lane got his second of the day, barreling over the goal line from four yards out.
Jaden Agnew then came up with a huge play, reading the bounce off the receiver to pick off Marcucella and return it down to the Foxboro 12. Pantalone went 11 yards to the one and then, after Foxboro’s line stuffed two attempts from inside the one, Cornelius started the fourth quarter by getting just into the end zone for a 42-21 lead.
“They’ve got skill all over the place, the quarterback puts the ball on the money, and them coming down and making it a one-score game, but then we answered and then we answered again,” Olson said about going up by more than two scores. “I knew we were going to be alright because they couldn’t stop us off-tackle. It was just over and over, it was no secret we were running over (senior lineman) Marco [Monteiro].”
Following a Foxboro punt, helped by a couple of solid coverage plays by Scudo, Milford effectively sealed the win. No surprise, it was Pantalone again. The Warriors had bunched up at the line expecting the run and the receiver was able to beat his coverage at the line and caught a 66-yard pass from Cornelius for his third score of the night.
To their credit, the Warriors kept fighting despite the big deficit. Marcucella went 6-of-10 on the next drive, including a highlight-reel sidearm toss to Rashaad Way ( nine catches, 121 yards) and a 10-yard touchdown to Gordon. After Agnew was ruled to have fumbled out of the end zone as he dove for the pylon, Foxboro mounted one more drive to try and make it a game, getting all the way to the Milford six with five minutes to play, but the drive stalled.
“They’re a good program, they’re well-coached, but we kind of thought we’d be able to enforce our will,” Olson explained. “We did graduate a lot but we’re good up front, we’ve got some good kids, and I couldn’t be prouder.
“People were writing us off, saying they’re one-and-done, they’re rebuilding, but I think we’ve got one of the better teams in the Hock. We want to keep rising this program.”
Milford (1-0) will travel to Wellesley next Saturday. Foxboro (0-1) will try to bounce back with a trip to Whitman-Hanson on Friday.
Attleboro, 10 vs. Durfee, 7 – Final 1st Quarter: (A) Blake Garzaro 10-yard pass to Chris Mota, Anthony Salviati XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (D) Durfee 9-yard rush, XP good; (A) A. Salviati 30-yard field goal.
Canton, 7 @ Dighton-Rehoboth, 15 – Final (OT) 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (C) Bahsor Mahn 7-yard rush, Hayden Rose XP good.
4th Quarter: (DR) Hendrix Pray 40-yard rush, Adam Pereira XP good.
Overtime: (DR) H. Pray 10-yard rush, Jacob Suprenard 2pt rush.
Foxboro, 28 @ Milford, 49 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (M) Matt Girard 80-yard pass to Isaiah Pantalone, Nicholas Araujo XP good; (F) Tom Marcucella 10-yard pass to Tre Stith, Sam Carpenter XP good; (M) Evan Cornelius 74-yard pass to I. Pantalone, XP no good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Tyler Lane 1-yard rush, E. Cornelius 2-point conversion rush; (F) T. Marcucella 76-yard pass to Dylan Gordon, S. Carpenter XP good; (M) E. Cornelius 1-yard rush, N. Araujo XP good.
3rd Quarter: (F) T. Marcucella 18-yard pass to Tommy Sharkey, S. Carpenter XP good; (M) T. Lane 4-yard rush, N. Araujo XP good.
4th Quarter: (M) E. Cornelius 1-yard rush, N. Araujo XP good; (M) E. Cornelius 66-yard pass to I. Pantalone, N. Araujo XP good; (F) T. Marcucella 10-yard pass to D. Gordon, S. Carpenter XP good.
Franklin, 37 vs. Wachusett, 21 – Final
Mansfield, 28 @ St. John’s Shrewsbury, 20 – Final 1st Quarter: (SJ) Ryan Miller 54-yard pass to Ryan Coonan, XP blocked.
2nd Quarter: (M) Rocco Scarpellini 6-yard rush, XP good; (M) Drew Sacco 9-yard rush, XP good.
3rd Quarter: (SJ) Bobby Rodolakis 34-yard rush, XP failed; (SJ) B. Rodolakis 5-yard rush, R. Miller 2pt pass to R. Coonan.
4th Quarter: (M) Conner Zukowski 10-yard pass to Trevor Foley, XP good; (M) C. Zukowski 5-yard pass to T. Foley, XP good.
North Attleboro, 10 vs. Bishop Feehan, 24 – Final
Oliver Ames, 18 vs. Brookline, 8 – Final 1st Quarter: (OA) Chad Silva 6-yard rush, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (OA) C. Silva 4-yard rush, XP failed; (OA) Collin Williamson 11-yard rush, XP failed.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: Brookline touchdown, 2pt conversion good.
Stoughton, 14 vs. Norwood, 21 – Final
Taunton, 21 vs. New Bedford, 0 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (T) Jacob Leonard 22-yard pass to Trent Santos, Nathan Keenan XP good; (T) Bryan Batista 21-yard rush, N. Keenan XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (T) B. Batista 12-yard rush, N. Keenan XP good.
Sharon, 0 @ Norton, 15 – First Quarter – Due to a power outage of the lights, the game will continue on Saturday morning at 10:00AM.
Franklin, 0 @ Canton, 2 – Final – Canton’s Jake McCabe scored for the second straight game and Jacob Crugnale also found the back of the net as the Bulldogs opened their Hockomock schedule with a win over visiting Franklin.
Foxboro, 0 @ Milton, 2 – Final
Milford, 0 @ Sharon, 1 – Final
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Attleboro, 1 – Final – OA rallied from a goal down with five straight scores to open its season with a road win. Jamie Davies had put Attleboro ahead in the ninth minute, off a Kacey Parker assist, but not two minutes later the Tigers equalized on a long-range strike by freshman Emma Gavin. Camryn O’Connor put OA ahead for good and then Kyla Melton scored either side of halftime to put the game out of reach. Alex Lane added the fifth with 15 minutes left to play. Attleboro coach Steve Santos praised his central defenders Olivia Calderone and Emma Stromfors but admitted that the Tigers just had too much on Friday.
Foxboro, 5 vs. Walpole, 2 – Final – After being shut out on Thursday, the Warriors found their offense on Friday to earn a non-league win. Kailee McCabe was the star, as the All-New England selection scored three times and assisted on another. Erin Foley and freshman Neve Taylor also got on the board for Foxboro. Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup also praised the Warriors defense for fighting hard the whole game to keep out the Timberwolves.
Sharon @ Milford – Postponed to TBD.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – Attleboro defended its home turf with a win over the defending Davenport division champions Oliver Ames. Sarah McMahon and Madison Ellis each had a goal and an assist to pace the Bombardier offense. Alyvia Bessette opened the scoring for Attleboro followed by Ellis (unassisted) and McMahon (from Ellis and Olivia Hillman).
Canton, 1 @ Franklin, 5 – Final – Franklin opened the second in style, pumping in a pair of goals in both the second and third quarters, to knock off visiting Canton. Kendall Jones (from Kaitlyn Carney) opened the scoring but Canton’s Erin Lane tied the game just two minutes later. Franklin pulled ahead in the second and never looked back; Carney (unassisted) and Jones (from Shaw Downing) scored three minutes apart to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead at the half. In the third, Downing (unassisted) scored less than a minute in and Payton Crandall (from Carney) notched her first career goal to cap the scoring. Megan Sullivan made six saves to earn the win in net.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – North Attleboro sophomore goalie Gracie Leary made two huge saves inside the final three minutes to help preserve a point for the Rocketeers on the road at Mansfield. Leary totaled nine saves, including her final one with just over a minute to go to get the point. Junior Julia Puccio scored on a corner in the first quarter on a pass from Zoe McKeon. Mansfield got goals from Rose Maher and Dani Cuzzi to take the lead but North’s Caroline Folan scored on a corner with 3:25 to play to level the scoring.
Sharon, 0 @ Milford, 1 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. McKenna Smith was able to squeeze the ball through a scrum in front of goal and across the line midway through the fourth quarter for the game’s lone goal.
Stoughton, 0 @ Taunton, 3 – Final – Taunton opened the new season at home with a shutout win over the visiting Black Knights. Emily Gannon turned away six shots to get the shutout win in net. Ashley Amaro and Kaysie DeMoura both grabbed a goal and an assist in the win while Caelen O’Leary had the first goal of the game. Thalia Nogueria, Kylie Thorpe, and Braeley MacDonald also played well for the Tigers.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – Attleboro won a close first set and went on to take a 3-1 (25-22, 25-19, 21-25, 25-16) win over visiting Oliver Ames. For OA, senior Hadley Rhodes had 15 assists and six kills, Maddie Homer had 24 digs and 22 serve receptions and sophomore Sarah Hilliard tallied 10 kills.
Foxboro, 0 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip opened its season in style with a 3-0 sweep (25-9, 25-12, 25-3) over visiting Foxboro. Ahunna James paced the offense with seven kills, Sami Shore added six kills and four aces, Sofia Reidel had was strong at the service line with seven aces and Emily Sawyer put down five kills in her debut.
Canton, 0 @ Franklin, 3 – Final – Franklin fended off a big challenge from Canton in the final set to secure a 3-0 sweep (25-14, 25-16, 25-23) over the Bulldogs. Cailyn Mackintosh had 20 assists, Lindsey Tarantola recorded seven kills and Cate Roberge had a big game for the Panthers with seven aces and five kills. Sophomore Jess Wright notched 11 kills in her varsity debut for the Bulldogs while freshman Zoe Scibelli played well defensively at libero in her first match. Senior Anna Verille had a great game defensively with 16 digs to go along with four kills and an ace while Taylor Reynolds dished out 21 assists.
North Attleboro @ Mansfield, 5:15
Sharon, 0 @ Milford, 3 – Final
Stoughton, 0 @ Taunton, 3 – Final – Taunton grabbed its second win on the young season, this time with a 3-0 sweep (25-8, 25-20, 25-23) win over Stoughton. Mikayla Cleary led the charge with 11 kills, seven aces, and three blocks, Hayley Krockta had five kills, and Angie Lynch had a strong game at the net with three kills and two aces. Danielle Lofgren (six digs), Mia Fernandes, and Jess Foley all set the tone for the Tigers with a strong serve receive.
Canton, 145 @ North Attleboro, 160 – Final – For the second straight match, all of Canton’s scorers broke the 40 mark, this time to get a key division win at Heather Hills. Canton’s Conor Hunter and Mike Leonetti as well as North Attleboro’s Jake Gaskin all shared medalist honors at 35. Will Gefteas added a 36 for the Dogs while Mekhala Costello and Nate MacDonald each came in with a round of 39 for Canton. Tyson Laviano added a round of 36 for the Big Red.
Sharon, 158 @ Oliver Ames, 155 – Final – Oliver Ames made it three straight wins to start the season, knocking off visiting Sharon at Pine Oaks by three strokes. Jo Jo Gaultier had the low-round for the Tigers at 36 while David Rodgers added a 37 and both Braden Shapiro and Daniel Paul shot a 41. Sharon’s Nate Daly was the match medalist at 35 while Eric Carter chipped in with a 37.
King Philip, 166 @ Franklin, 171 – Final – King Philip emerged from a key division showdown with Franklin with a close win at Franklin Country Club. Pat Reardon was the match medalist, firing a three-over round of 38 while Mike Matheson chipped in with a 42 for the Warriors. For Franklin, Corey Steel shot a 39 while Tyler O’Brien sank a birdie on the seventh hole to help finish with a round of 42.
Attleboro struggled on the offensive side of the ball last year, scoring only 44 points in six games and not scoring a touchdown until the fifth game of the season. The Bombardiers will need to improve on that side of the ball to try and move up the standings and challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex. With eight returning starters on both sides of the ball, Attleboro can rely on an experienced roster to try and turn things around this fall.
It will be obvious where Attleboro’s strength lies. The Bombardiers run 6’3 285, 6’3 255, 6’2 285, and 6’3 305 at the guard and tackle positions. They are going to try and overpower teams. The leader of that group is senior Chris Leonardo, who is a force on both sides of the ball. Seniors Alvin Harrison, Jacob Struminski, and Isaac Pereira are a formidable front and junior Isaiah Miranda will be back at center. Experience and size are important, but the Bombardiers will need its array of running backs to take advantage. Seniors Ryan Betts, Freddy Wheaton, Keigan Conley, and Kaiden Murray will all get the chance to carry the ball. Junior Aiden Hochwarter returns under center after taking over midway through last year and he will have classmate Anthony Salviati to throw to out wide and senior tight end Christian Dame.
The Attleboro defense will also rely on its strength up front with Leonardo and Harrison controlling the middle. The linebackers have plenty of experience, with Dame, Wheaton, Betts, Conley, and senior Hayden Hegarty all coming back after seeing significant time last year. The secondary has a lot of athleticism. Junior Ethan Lako, Salviati, and Murray are all capable of making big plays and forcing turnovers.
“It is great to have some normalcy back this fall,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have eight returning starters on each side of the ball this season and we have great senior leadership. We are looking to a great fall season.”
All eyes are on Mansfield and King Philip as the favorites in the Kelley-Rex and that’s how coach Eian Bain likes it. The Panthers are certainly flying under the radar a bit but that might not last very long, especially after their success during the preseason has turned some heads.
Having a lot of familiar faces in key positions will be an early advantage for the Panthers, who have a strong non-league schedule that starts with Wachusett and features perennial state powerhouse Duxbury. Senior Jared Arone gained a lot of experience at quarterback during the Fall 2 season and could be poised for a big year with a full schedule on tap. Part of the reason why is because of all the weapons around him. Both Shane Kindred and Will Tracey developed a lot of chemistry with the QB in the abbreviated season and will be his main two targets this year.
And while the Panthers have developed a reputation for a pass-heavy offense, we saw a much more balanced approach during the spring and with senior running back Mack Gulla ready for a breakout season, it’s likely that balance continues. Gulla is a tough runner that will keep defenses honest; he isn’t just going to help set up the passing game, he’s a true threat to run all over defenses. It will all start up front and the Panthers have center Ethan Aeillo and tackle Jack Porkorny back in starting roles.
Senior Joe Tirrell and junior Luke Davis give the Panthers a veteran presence in the secondary. Franklin allowed over 20 points per game last season but will be looking to bring that number down some this year as they try and establish themselves as a contender in the division. Senior Jonathan Martins impressed last season and will be a key piece on the defensive line while the linebackers will be anchored by senior Cullen Pek.
“The Panthers return many familiar faces but face a tough task of replacing some key positions,” Bain said. “Many players have stepped up but there is still a lot to be answered before the home opener against Wachusett.”
King Philip has a strong core of returning players set to compete for the Kelley-Rex crown this Fall season but the Warriors are hoping to develop some depth along the way as they navigate through one of the state’s toughest schedules.
KP is still hurting from the Fall 2 season, when they lost six players to season-ending surgery, four of which were starters. With a quick turnaround to this season, the Warriors will still be without those players but there is still lots of excitement around those who will be on the field this year. Senior Charlie Grant returns as the starter at quarterback and has some weapons to utilize around them, starting with receivers Danny Clancy, Nick Viscusi, and Jonathan Joseph. All three have varsity experience and are seniors. Junior Rudy Gately and senior Crawford Cantave give the Warriors a thunder and lightning running back combination. Senior Drew Danson was set to be one of the top tight ends in the league but is out due to injury. Sophomore Thomas McLeish will also be in the mix to play at quarterback and Grant could see time at receiver.
Hunter Hastings and Chris Sesay are the returners on the offensive line and will start at the tackle positions while Dan Nineve will be the center and Amro Ismail and Sean King man the guard positions. It will be a lot of the same names on the other side of the ball with Hastings, King, and Sesay all playing both ways. Junior Nate Kearney will also be in the mix as a pass rusher.
The veteran group on defense will be the KP secondary, which features a lot of familiar faces. Both Cantave (safety) and Viscusi (corner) had really strong junior seasons and will lead the way alongside junior Thomas Brewster, senior Eli Reed, and Joseph, who has really impressed so far this preseason. There will be a little inexperience at linebacker but the Warriors have Gately back in the fold alongside senior Jake Sullivan and junior Will Astorino. Matt Kelley is back as the starting kicker.
“I love my team, great kids,” said KP head coach Brian Lee. “We just have to make sure ready to go every single week. It’s been kind of a burn, playing in the Spring. It feels like we’ve been going, going, going, but now we have to focus on staying healthy and getting through Thanksgiving. It’s been fun to be around them, they are good kids that work hard. Hopefully, we can turn that into being successful.”
Mansfield won the 2019 state title, is riding a 16-game win streak, hasn’t lost a game in league play since September 2017, and hasn’t lost an in-state game since a triple-OT thriller against Foxboro at Fenway to close out 2018, so the Hornets have earned the target that is on their backs this fall. Everyone will be aiming to be the first Hock team to hand the Hornets a loss and try to end a three-year run as the top team in the Kelley-Rex. Although there are some guys in new spots, especially at the skill positions, Mansfield returns 10 starters and several players who saw significant action off the bench last year.
The offense will be powered by an experienced line. Four of five starters return from last year with only junior center Colton Johnson added. Seniors Mark DeGirolamo, Joe Forte, and James Gilleran, and junior Jephte Jean are all back and should give the Hornets an edge up front. Junior Conner Zukowski will be the new starting quarterback and he will have several new weapons to call on. Juniors Drew Sacco and Rocco Scarpellini are new starters in the backfield, but both were called on plenty last season. Senior Dana Johnson and sophomore Trevor Foley will get the start out wide.
Defense has been Mansfield’s calling card during its run, as the Hornets allowed only 23 points in six games last year. DeGirolamo and classmate Braeden Veno are back on the defensive line along with Jean and senior Pedro Cruz. All three starting linebackers returned, as seniors Zander Holmes and James Fichera are paired with Scarpellini. Junior safety Ryan DeGirolamo is the only starter back in the secondary and will need to provide leadership for sophomores Foley and CJ Bell. Senior Jared Fraone will start at the other corner spot.
Mansfield coach Mike Redding is counting on a tough preseason, against state powers Everett and Central Catholic, to help the Hornets prepare. He is also excited about the new statewide playoff system that could pair Mansfield with a new set of tournament opponents as they seek to make it a three-peat in Div. 2.
Milford made a successful move into the Kelley-Rex last season. Under first-year coach Dale Olson, the Hawks earned a first-ever win over perennial league power King Philip and finished second in the division. This year, the Hawks will try to make another title challenge despite having several new faces stepping into important roles.
On offense, the Hawks will be transitioning from the pass-first offense that Brady Olson ran last year. Junior Evan Cornelius is a very different quarterback, who will bring a lot of size and strength to the position (which makes sense, since he also plays defensive end). Graduation took away a lot of dynamic playmakers from last year’s offense but seniors Tyler Lane, Angelo Romero, and Grant Scudo will give Milford a deep backfield and last year senior Jaden Agnew emerged as a major threat in the passing game.
The Hawks will be tough up front again this year on both sides of the ball. Seniors Alex McColl and Marco Monteiro are big and tough and will open holes on offense while clogging running lanes on the other side. Cornelius will add a threat on the edge defensively and the linebacking corps continues to be a factor, led by Lane and Romero. Scudo seeks out the ball at safety and is always a threat to force a turnover.
Olson admits that his team lacks experience at the skill positions, but he added, “Having three scrimmages will help prepare the first-year varsity kids to play week one.”
Taunton didn’t have the best record during the Fall 2 season but the opportunity to just get on the field and play was incredibly valuable for the Tigers. There are less than a dozen seniors (eight) on the roster for the Tigers this season so head coach Brad Sidwell will be looking for a strong class of juniors, as well as some sophomores, to make up the majority of the lineup this Fall.
A good chunk of those juniors were inserted into the starting lineup or played a large number of snaps just five months ago when the Tigers played six games. That allowed the Tigers to build some depth for the upcoming season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Junior Jake Leonard got a jump start to his career when he took over for an injured Danny MacDougall. That experience will be key as he begins his first full season as the starter under center. Leonard will have three veteran options to work with in senior captains Trent Santos and Nate Keenan — two receivers — and tight end Nick Lima. Senior Faisal Mass will be a big target as a tight end, also providing key blocking on the line, while seniors Jon Castillo (receiver), Jack Moitiso (offensive line) and Evan Perrota (running back) will be in the mix as well.
Junior Ryan MacDougall started on the offensive line last season and will be joined by classmates Nate Laplante, William Guachiculca-Torres, and Logan Frank while sophomore Bryan Joanis will also be in the mix so some playing time. Keenan could also get some carries out of the backfield while junior Bryan Batista could emerge as a go-to option carrying the ball. Juniors Tyler Wynn, Isaiah Williams, and McKyen Gonsalves are three names to watch as receiving options for Leonard.
Taunton has a lot of experience in its secondary with both Santos and Keenan playing on both sides of the ball, and that experience will be a big strength for the Tigers. There is also a lot of depth in the linebackers, starting with Lima, who uses his speed to attack the ball. He can also step out and play in coverage or drop back into a safety role if needed. Lima will be joined by Frank, MacDougall, and Perrota as linebackers. On the line, Laplante had a strong sophomore season and could be poised for a breakout year.
Taunton will prepare for the ever-challenging division slate with non-league games against New Bedford, Durfee, and Middleboro in its first three weeks. It also marks the first year of its new Thanksgiving rivalry with Milford.
“We’re excited to begin the season with this group after productive preseason practices and scrimmages,” said head coach Brad Sidwell. “Although we only have eight seniors, many of our players gained experience in the spring season. We need to improve through the non-league start of the season as the Hockomock Kelley-Rex is always a challenge for any of the teams involved.”
Canton graduated some key pieces on defense so the Bulldogs will be relying on experience in both the linebacking and defensive backs corps. Colin Albert is one of the more experienced linebackers for Canton and will be an important leader for the Warriors’ defense. The Davenport Division is as competitive as ever and there won’t be any easy games. Albert will provide stability on defense, making plays against the passing game and also playing a role helping against the run on the outside. The Bulldogs are aiming to make a push for the postseason and if they are to get there, Albert’s leadership on both sides of the ball, and both on and off the field, will likely be a reason why.
North’s explosive offense gets a lot of attention, but the Rocketeers were also a strong team on the other side of the ball last season. They allowed only 55 points over six games and only twice did teams reach double digits (the most allowed was 12 against Oliver Ames). Bannon was one of the biggest playmakers on the defensive unit. The senior outside linebacker was a terror on the pass rush and could also set the edge whether lined up at the line of scrimmage or dropped back a few yards. Bannon uses his good size and strength to take on blockers, but his speed and quickness off the ball allowed him to get a step and into the backfield almost at will. With North incorporating several new faces into the mix this season, his leadership will be critical for the Rocketeers to maintain the same level as last year. Whether standing up a runner or chasing someone down from behind, Bannon was able to cover a lot of ground and make plays all over the field. Expectations are for North to be the team to beat in the Davenport again this fall and it can’t rely only on the offense to win the title. Bannon and the defense will need to be at the same high level of play they showed last season.
King Philip senior Crawford Cantave is one of the best two-way players in the league and has made a lot of plays in all three aspects of the game for the Warriors over the past two seasons. The Warriors have a lot of talent on this year’s roster and they’ll be aiming to try and knock off Mansfield to get back atop of the Kelley-Rex division. KP hung its hat on defense during its run to three straight state finals appearances and if they want to make a deep run again this year, the defense will need to be a top priority. Crawford will play mostly in a safety role but can also play in a corner role if needed. He does a great job of reading the play and uses his speed to react quickly and make the play. When all is said and done this season, expect Cantave to have some highlight-reel plays under his belt.
The first two words that come to mind when thinking of Mansfield senior Mark DeGirolamo are experience and versatility. This is someone that has been making plays for multiple seasons for the three-time defending Kelley-Rex division champion Hornets. Although he’s primarily been a defensively end for most of his career because of the combination of speed and strength he has, he also has the size to slide inside and clog up the middle. Mansfield will primarily line up in a 4-3 but will give teams different looks with 4-4 and 3-4 packages, and DeGirolamo can play in all of them. He will also start at tackle on the offensive end, his speed allows him to protect the quarterback against rushes off the edge. He was second in the team with 33 tackles during the Fall 2 season and led the Hornets in tackles for a loss.
Mack Gulla made an immediate impact when he joined the varsity program his sophomore year, scoring in the first game of the season back in 2019. He hasn’t stopped making plays for the Panthers since. Gulla has improved greatly in each of the past two seasons and now has a chance at a breakout senior campaign as the Panthers make a push to compete for the Kelley-Rex division crown and a spot in the postseason. He’s a downhill type player on both sides of the ball; he isn’t afraid to run through the defense when carrying the ball and is tough to tackle when he gets going. And from his middle linebacker spot, he attacks the ball carrier and is tough to get away from when he gets his hands on you.
There were a lot of eyes on Milford last season because of the weapons they had on the offensive side of the ball, but once you saw the Hawks play it was tough not to talk about how well they played on the defensive side of the ball. One name that always seemed to be in on the play was linebacker Tyler Lane, who will enter his second year as a starter this Fall. Lane has really good speed (something that people will also see when he carries the ball on the offensive side) and does a really good job at reading the play, which allows him to find a way to the ball. Whether it’s coming on a blitz, coming up to stop a run, or dropping off into pass coverage, Lane is a reliable option. Lane has the speed to get around the edge and the strength to make the tackle. If the play is coming up the middle, Lane is no stranger to big hits and can make a play there too. He’s solid in pass coverage and quick to make a play if the pass is completed.
Whether he lines up at linebacker or drops deeper to play as a safety, Taunton senior Nick Lima is a playmaker for the Tiger’s defense. He can quickly read a play and see where it is headed but has the speed and quickness to hang back for an extra beat before closing on a ball carrier. Lima can also provide the Tigers with an extra rusher when they choose to blitz and on the next play drop deep into coverage downfield. Lima’s versatility and leadership will be key as Taunton tries to figure out the best combination on the defensive side of the ball. The Tigers have a lot of skill and depth on the offensive side but one challenge has been establishing the same on the defensive side of the ball. Having Lima in the mix gives Taunton a good start to solving that problem.
Stoughton senior Emmett Pearl got his feet wet during the Fall 2 season and now could be poised for a breakout year with an expanded role on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Stoughton has solid returning experience with its three-down lineman, it will be about the ends and linebackers around them to make plays on the ball. The defense is usually a calling card for Stoughton and the Knights will be going up against some tough competition both in the division (Foxboro, North) and in the non-league games (Mansfield, Milford) so they will certainly need some new players to step up. Against the run, Pearl does a terrific job of clogging up any holes up the middle and can also come from the outside and get into the backfield. Pearl isn’t just all power either, he has great instincts and impressive speed for his size.
Fans of Foxboro football are going to be hearing the name Rashaad Way a lot this season. After a breakout junior campaign, Way is in line for what could be a monster year for the Warriors, especially because he impacts all three parts of the game. Offensively, Way will be one of the go-to options in the passing game and can help take the top off the defense with his speed on deep routes. When it comes to special teams, Way might be the best returner — both on kickoffs and punts — in the league right now. It seemed like almost every time he got the ball, he was close to breaking one for a score. But the focus for here is on Way’s defensive performance at cornerback. He does a nice job reading the play, has the speed to keep with receivers, and has good instincts and timing. With a year already under his belt, Way will be one of the top players in the secondary in the entire league.
Attleboro struggled to score points last year, but for the most part, the Bombardiers were consistently tough on the defensive side of the ball. Although all-time leading tackler Michael Strachan graduated, Attleboro’s experience in the linebacking corps should be a strength again this fall. Wheaton is a dynamic presence in the front seven. His high motor and the energy he brings to each play is contagious and he seems to be able to cover ground from sideline to sideline. A player who seems to relish contact, Wheaton is a solid tackler and will need to step up behind Attleboro’s large defensive line to help stop the opponent’s ground game. The Bombardiers are a veteran, athletic group and Wheaton’s presence in the middle of the field will be critical if they are going to build on last season and start to challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex.
Attleboro, 0 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Canton junior Andrew Middleton tossed a perfect game, recording 16 strikeouts along the way to lead the Bulldogs to a season-opening win.
Taunton, 11 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Taunton broke open a two-run game with a big sixth inning and never looked back to start the season with a win, running the program’s current win streak to 10 games dating back to the 2019 season. The Tigers scored once in the top of each the first and second innings before exploding for seven runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning. Senior Danny MacDougall got it done both offensively and on the mound for the visitors, knocking in a pair of runs and scoring twice while tossing five scoreless innings. He struck out six with just one hit allowed and no walks to earn the win. Matthew Ferrara pitched two scoreless innings in relief with two strikeouts. Sophomore Ryan MacDougall had a strong debut for Taunton, going 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI, Jack Gobin added two hits, and senior Bretton Heggs started his final season in style by going 2-for-3 with three RBI and two walks.
Sharon, 6 @ Milford, 3 – Final (9 Inn.) – Sharon’s Elliot Pototsky knocked in a pair of runs with a base-hit in the top of the ninth inning to break a tie game and help the Eagles open the season with a win. JD Rittenberg, who had two hits including a double, came on in relief and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, striking out seven to get the win. Justin Brown also had two hits for the Eagles, including a triple, while Dylan Labbe was solid on the mound, striking out seven with one earned run allowed in five innings of work. For Milford, Mario Lee (double, two walks), Tyler Lane (triple, run scored), and Sean McGee (RBI) each had two hits.
Franklin @ Foxboro – Postponed to Friday, 5/7 at 4:00
Mansfield @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to Friday, 5/7 at 3:45
King Philip @ North Attleboro – Postponed to Friday, 5/7 at 3:45 at Community Field.
Canton, 2 @ Attleboro, 14 – Final (5 inn.) – Attleboro’s offense was in midseason form, belting out 17 hits in a season-opening win over visiting Canton in the first game played on the new turf field on Drummond Street. Haley Perry set the tone from the leadoff spot, going 4-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Lindsey Perry, who had two hits including a two-run homer, earned her first win in the circle after giving up two unearned runs in five innings of work. Lora Woyton belted a three-run homer for the Bombardiers while freshman Riley Camacho (3-for-4, two-run home run) and Kayla Goldrick (2-for-3, two doubles) played well in their debut games.
Foxboro, 5 @ Franklin, 0 – Final – Eighth grader Emma Callahan tossed a complete game shutout in her varsity debut, striking out one to help the Warriors win on the road. Senior Morgan Sylvestre paced the Foxboro offense (10 hits as a team), going 4-for-4 with two RBI while Peyton Feldman added two hits in the win. Senior Nicole Theriault came through with a big sacrifice in the third to set the Warriors up for runs.
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Mansfield, 11 – Final – Mansfield rallied from an early deficit, using a big fourth inning to grab control and start the season with a home win. OA jumped in front with three runs in the top of the first. The Hornets got one back in the home half, but Mansfield took the lead with an eight-run fourth inning. Five straight singles, a hit-by-pitch, a walk, and then back-to-back singles turned things around for Mansfield in a big rally. Freshmen Callie Lake (3-for-4), Jill Koppy (2-for-5), Olivia Madeira (2-for-4) and Molly Kucharski (1-for-3) each had hits in their debuts. Alanna Conley, Ashlyn Conley, and Nicole Kabosa had two hits apiece and Ashlyn Conley struck out six Tigers to pick up the win. The Hornets outhit OA 16-10. For OA, Maddie Homer went 4-for-4 with three stolen bases and two runs scored while both Grace Simone and Lexi Galsband had two hits and a run scored.
North Attleboro, 9 @ King Philip, 11 – Final – KP opened the season with a win in a shootout against defending Davenport champ North Attleboro. It was an ideal start for the Warriors, who plated five runs in the first and went on to score in the second, third, and fifth innings. Senior Paige Berdos had three hits, including an RBI and a run scored, as KP totaled 13 hits as a team. Sophomore Libby Walsh (two RBI) and freshmen Jordan Bennett (run) and Maddie Paschke (two RBI) each had two hits for KP while junior Mia Bennett launched a three-run home run. For North, Kelly Colleran led the Rocketeers with four hits and drove in two. Zoey McDonough had a pair of hits, including a three-run homer, and Shaelyn Burns smashed a grand slam for North. Emily Nardelli and Ally Levine each had two hits and Mandi Hanewich scored a pair of runs in the loss.
Stoughton @ Taunton, 3:45
Sharon, 5 @ Milford, 3 – Final – Sharon grabbed a 3-2 lead after the first inning and never relinquished its advantage the rest of the way. For Milford, Camille Bonina (two RBI) and Grace Bonina each had two hits while Olivia Morelli struck out five with just one earned rune allowed in six innings of work.
Canton, 19 @ Attleboro, 9 – Final
Foxboro, 6 @ Franklin, 18 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. – Sophomores Luke Davis and Jayden Consigli combined for 10 goals in their Franklin debuts and senior Matt Lazzaro had five points, as the Panthers opened the season with a dominating home win. Davis got the Panthers off to a great start with a first quarter hat trick. Tim Walsh, Owen Kielty, and Consigli each added one as well for the Panthers and freshman Lincoln Moore got his first varsity goal for the Warriors who trailed 6-1 after one. Tommy Sharkey scored a man-up goal to start the second, but Franklin answered with seven straight goals to open a double-digit lead. Consigli had a hat trick in the second, two of them assisted by Davis, who added two goals of his own in the quarter. Mike Griffin and Lazzaro also scored in the run, before Foxboro got one back to make it 13-3 at the half. Lazzaro and Davis traded assists on each other’s goals to start the third, but freshman Connor Noone got his first career goal and Moore added his second. Conor O’Neil scored back-to-back goals to push the lead up to 12 in the fourth. Noone got his second of the day, but Ravin Chaudhury capped the scoring with his first with two minutes to go.
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Mansfield, 15 – Final – Mansfield opened the season in impressive fashion with a 15-5 win over visiting Oliver Ames. Senior Nico Holmes set the tone with a great game at the faceoff X and scored five goals. Thomas Norton added two goals and five assists, Jake Quirk scored a hat trick and added one helper, and Ryan DeGirolamo was terrific in goal for the Hornets, allowing just two even strength goals. OA junior Wyatt Fritchman led the offense for the Tigers with three goals and two assists while senior Ross Carroll added two goals and an assist.
North Attleboro @ King Philip, 3:45
Sharon, 16 @ Milford, 3 – Final
Canton, 11 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final
Foxboro, 10 @ Franklin, 19 – Final
Oliver Ames, 7 @ Mansfield, 12 – Final – Mansfield broke open a tied game with a strong second half to pull out the win, the first for the Hornets under new coach Brittany Sherry. Ava Adams made an instant impact with four goals in her first varsity game. AnnMarie McCoy pulled down seven draw controls and Caitlyn Zajac made 11 saves for the Hornets, who outscored OA 8-3 after halftime.
North Attleboro, 4 @ King Philip, 16 – Final
Sharon, 12 @ Milford, 7 – Final – Sharon opened the season with a road win. Jenna Goldstein led the way for the Eagles with four goals. Cass Barbera added a hat trick and Tess Letendre made nine saves to preserve the win. Molly McAlevey had a strong game in midfield for the Eagles.
Canton, 5 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – Canton went on the road and grabbed a win in its first match of the season, taking down the host Bombardiers. Junior Suraj Ramanathan and freshman Max Kupferman each won in straight sets in singles while senior Minh Duong picked up a 6-2, 6-1 win at third singles. The team of Ethan Nguyen and Jalen Townsend earned a 6-1, 6-0 win at first doubles while Elias Jabbour and Charlie Doody teamed up for a 6-0, 6-2 win at second doubles for the Bulldogs.
Foxboro, 1 @ Franklin, 4 – Final – Franklin swept both doubles matches in straight sets and added two more wins in singles action to open the season with a win over Foxboro. Senior Liam Marr won 6-2, 6-0 at first singles while junior Vayshnav Malhotra secured a 6-0, 6-2 decision at second singles. The team of Anish Gundimeda and Sameen Shaik earned a 6-0, 6-1 win at first doubles for the Panthers while Thomas Broyles and Jay Gorgas picked up a 6-0, 6-1 win at second doubles. Foxboro’s Jason Kandula won 6-2, 6-2 at third singles.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Mansfield, 5 – Final – The Hornets won all three singles matches in straight sets and didn’t lose a game in doubles action to beat the visiting Tigers of Oliver Ames. Freshman Kailash Elumelai picked up a 6-3, 6-0 win at first singles, senior Dheeraj Valluru notched a 6-0, 6-1 win at second singles, and senior Kai Schirmacher registered a 6-2, 6-2 decision at third singles. The team of senior Nikhil Lankipalle and sophomore Benson Delaney won 6-0, 6-0 at first doubles while senior Adam Elsner and junior Jonah Fine won by the same score at second doubles.
North Attleboro, 5 @ King Philip, 0 – Final – North Attleboro went on the road and opened the season in style, sweeping all five matches against King Philip. Seniors Jonah Manso (6-0, 6-2) and Sam Gallagher (6-1, 6-1) each won in straight sets at first and second singles, respectively, while junior Will Folan rallied for a 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 10-6 win at third singles. Seniors Connor Willis and Sayf Siddiq earned a 6-4, 6-4 win at first doubles while senior Niteesh Saravanan teamed up with sophomore Brody Carter for a 6-4, 6-3 win at second doubles.
Stoughton, 4 @ Taunton, 1 – Final – Brothers Waseem and Rayan Sablon each won in straight sets without dropping a game to lead Stoughton to a season-opening win on the road at Taunton. Waseem notched a 6-0, 6-0 win at first singles while Rayan won by the same score at second singles.
Sharon, 5 @ Milford, 0 – Final – Sharon picked up right where it left off in league action, grabbing a 5-0 win on the road over Milford. Ruemon Bhattacharyya earned a 6-0, 6-1 win at first singles for the Eagles while both Mehul Bhattacharyya (second singles) and Max Chen (third singles) took 6-0, 6-0 decisions. Sharon’s first doubles team of Matt Lally and Rithvik Neti claimed a 6-1, 6-0 win while the team of Mitch Weiss and Deyan Kassev prevailed 6-1, 6-2 at second doubles for the Eagles.
Attleboro, 1 @ Canton, 4 – Final – Canton was on the winning end of a pair of marathon singles matches, defending home court with a 4-1 win over Attleboro. Rachel Kupferman (first singles, 6-0, 6-1) and the team of Lily Hazam and Olivia Durham (first doubles, 6-1, 6-2) both won in straight sets for the Bulldogs. Laura Correal prevailed 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2 at second singles and Grace Powers came through with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 win at third to help secure the win. Attleboro’s Kyra Johnson and Maddie Fulsado picked up a 6-4, 6-1 win at second doubles.
Franklin, 1 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Foxboro didn’t drop a game in singles action, sweeping all three matches and adding another win in doubles play to beat visiting Franklin. Athena Li (first singles), Pam Nelson (second singles), and Sarah Prag (third singles) all won 6-0, 6-0 while the team of Maggie McAuliffe and Abby Costa secured a 6-3, 6-2 win at first doubles. Franklin’s Amulya Jayam and Shriya Rajesh earned a 6-1, 6-0 win at second doubles.
Mansfield, 3 @ Oliver Ames, 2 – Final – Mansfield’s Alex Burnham prevailed in three sets at first singles, winning the match-clinching point as the Hornets won on the road at OA. Mansfield had wins from Aryanna Khosravani (6-3, 6-2) and Kate Martin 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 at second and third singles, respectively, while OA swept doubles action. Burham’s 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win at first singles clinched the third point for the win. OA’s Kate McLaughlin and Grace Houser won 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 at first doubles while Morgan Vailiou and Caroline Peper didn’t drop a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at second doubles.
King Philip, 4 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – King Philip won all three singles matches in straight sets and added another win in doubles action to take a win on the road at North Attleboro. The team of Ahunna James and Shea Mellman dropped just two games in a 6-0, 6-2 win at first doubles for the Warriors. In sweeping singles action, Katarina Schneider won first singles 6-0, 6-0, Mia Valencia record a 6-2, 6-0 win at second singles, and Sammie Taylor secured a 6-2, 6-1 win at third singles. North Attleboro’s Ashlyn Cziria and Teresa Fan won 6-3, 6-3 at second doubles.
Taunton @ Stoughton, 3:45
Milford @ Sharon, 3:45
Boys Outdoor Track
Foxboro, 73 @ Canton, 59 – Final – For Canton, Kyle Downing was a triple-winner and Deyontai Dennis won a pair of events and took second in another. Downing was first in the 1 Mile, the 2 Mile, and the high jump while Dennis won the triple jump and the 400M hurdles, adding a second place finish in the long jump.
Sharon, 40 @ Oliver Ames, 90 – Final
Girls Outdoor Track
Foxboro, 60 @ Canton, 76 – Final – Canton’s Maddie Rousseau broke her own school record in the 100M hurdles, taking first place with a time of 15.1 to lead the Bulldogs to a win over Foxboro. Rousseau also was first in the high jump (4’10) and took second in the 200M (26.4) and the long jump (15′ 6.5″). Kiara Cerruti was a double-winner for the Bulldogs, crossing first in both the 1 Mile (6:02.8) and the 800M (2:41.1).
STOUGHTON, Mass. – One of the characteristics that first-year Milford coach Dale Olson has talked about with his team is resiliency. On Friday night at Stoughton’s new Veterans Memorial Stadium, the Hawks showed that they have been listening to the coach’s message.
Milford overcame two first half turnovers and three first half drives that ended inside the Stoughton 10, and twice in the fourth quarter the Hawks answered Stoughton touchdowns with scoring drives of their own. All of that allowed Milford to pull out a hard-fought, 28-21 road win against their former division rival.
“We always talk about adversity and we faced it again tonight,” said Olson. “The kids handled it. We didn’t score two times inside the five and that’s a great football team and you can’t do that, but I’m proud of our kids tonight. They fought and good teams find a way to win.”
The visitors were able to move the ball almost all night. Milford finished with more than 300 yards passing and nearly 200 yards on the ground, but the Hawks missed several opportunities to break the game open early.
On the opening drive of the game, the Hawks put together a 10-play drive and marched all the way down to the Stoughton three. Milford was finding success with the short passing game, as senior Brady Olson (25-of-42, 312 yards) completed seven passes to three different receivers on the first possession. But, on first and goal, his pass into the end zone was intercepted by Emmett Pearl.
“We were trying to get as much pass rush as we could and they just nickel-dimed it,” said Stoughton coach Greg Burke. “They had a couple simple patterns and we were trying to cover, but we didn’t stop them right there.”
Stoughton got the ball at it own three and just four plays later was in the lead. A 19-yard carry by Christopher Ais (17 carries, 68 yards) gave the Black Knights some breathing room. On third and five, John Burke (11-of-24, 187 yards) fooled the Milford defense with play action and hit Christian Ais (five catches, 108 yards) in stride for a 73-yard score.
Not to be outdone, the Hawks hit back with a big play of their own. Facing third and 13, Olson fired a strike to Max Martin (seven catches, 121 yards), who hauled it in, took a big hit, spun free, and got a good block from Jayden Agnew to race 75 yards. Both extra points were blocked, so it was tied 6-6.
Following and Evan Hazard interception and return, Milford started its next drive at the Stoughton 25. The Black Knights managed to stop the Hawks on three plays inside the 10 and blocked Nicholas Araujo’s 21-yard field goal attempt.
A short punt again gave Milford great starting field position, this time at the Stoughton 34. On second down, Jake Queeney picked off a pass in the end zone to again deny Milford a go-ahead score.
With a 53-yard punt, Christopher Ais pinned Milford down to start its next drive at its own two, but with horrible starting field position the Hawks finally got back into the end zone. Olson started working down the left sideline to Matt Varteresian (seven catches, 74 yards) out to almost midfield.
As Stoughton’s defense prepared for the pass, Carter Scudo took a draw play up the middle for 52 yards and the visitors’ first lead. Olson hit Agnew on the conversion to make it 14-6.
Milford had one more possession to try and extend its lead before halftime. The Hawks used 15 plays and got all the way to the Stoughton three but were denied again by the Black Knights defense. Andrew Medina made a good play on the ball to breakup one pass and Olson saw his fourth down try get batted down at the line.
It definitely looked like the story of the game would be missed chances, as Stoughton put together a 14-play, 76-yard scoring drive that ate up nearly 7-1/2 minutes of the third quarter. The big play was a play action pass from Burke to Pearl for 31 yards into Milford territory.
Burke capped the drive on third and goal from the five, as he rolled out to his left and went full extension to hit the front pylon. His two-point pass to Pearl in the back of the end zone tied the game at 14-14.
“He had some good throws,” Burke said of his quarterback. “We just missed a couple of home runs. We worked hard and we had some good runs.”
After an intentional grounding call stalled Stoughton’s next drive inside Milford territory, the Hawks answered to get back in front. On third and six, Olson went deep to Keithley Sutton, who just got his hands under the ball and pulled in the 37-yard reception. On third and three from the 26, Olson showed off his legs, scrambling for 25 yards down to the goal line. Scudo (11 carries, 68 yards) punched it in for his second touchdown of the night.
“We knew that we could take the short stuff,” Olson explained. “Take what they give you and [Brady] did it tonight. At times, it didn’t look good and we struggled to run the football and in the end we rushed for 173 yards. In the end, we needed to be able to run the football to win this game and we did.”
For the second time in the game, Ais pinned Milford deep, this time with a 60-yard boot that rolled down to the two. On first down, the Black Knights nearly caught Scudo in the end zone, but he was able to dive to the one and avoid the safety. Stoughton took advantage of a short punt to even the game up. Christian Ais cut upfield on a sweep to the left and raced for a 22-yard score, his second touchdown of the night, and it was 21-21 with 4:38 to play.
Momentum seemed to be with the home team, but Milford’s offense continued to be hard to stop. An eight-yard pass to Sutton converted a third and four and kept the drive alive. With the ball at the Stoughton 22 and the Black Knights expecting a pass, Tyler Lane (seven carries, 58 yards) burst up the gut on a draw play, cut to the far sideline, and flung himself at the front corner of the end zone for what turned out to be the game-winning score.
“I was trying to blitz there at the end, thinking they were going to throw, and that kid just went over us,” said Burke. “Their QB is just tough. He had a pretty good day. Second half I thought we did better.”
Stoughton had two minutes to try and answer. Burke started it with a 15-yard keeper and was able to recover from an intentional grounding call with an 11-yard pass to Queeney on fourth and eight. In the end, the Milford defense forced three straight incompletions and a turnover on downs to seal the win.
“It was a rock fight,” said Olson. “Burke has a done a great job and Stoughton kids are tough kids. We’re 4-1 and almost every game we’ve been in a rock fight, it’s just a slugfest.”
Milford (4-1) will travel to Lowell for a non-league game next Friday night. Stoughton (3-2) will look to avoid a three-game losing streak when it travels to King Philip.
MILFORD, Mass. – In last week’s season-opening win, Mansfield’s explosive offense was on full display with five touchdowns.
In week two, it was all about the Hornets’ defense.
Going up a powerful Milford offense that put up 34 points in their first game of the season, Mansfield’s defensive group was near perfect. The Hornets forced four turnovers, limited the Hawks to under 200 yards of offense, and pitched a shutout for the final three quarters to earn a 20-7 win on the road.
It marked the first meeting between the two squads since Milford joined the Hockomock League for football in 2013 with the Hawks making the switch to the Kelley-Rex division at the start of the 2020 school year.
“Story of the day, the defense played lights out,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “Scoring a touchdown for us, which in this game, was huge. Instead of just a six-point lead, it’s 13. The defense did a great job against a very good collection of receivers and [Brady] Olson can throw the ball. We gave them a few but nothing big, they popped the one run but after that, we were lights out, and thank goodness because this was really one of our sloppiest offensive performances in a long time.”
Mansfield football Milford football Anthony Comer Cincere Gill Brady Olson
Mansfield forced a turnover on Milford’s first possession of the game, Anthony Comer grabbed back-to-back interceptions with the first returned for a touchdown, and Hornets added another pick in the early moments of the fourth quarter.
The Hornets opened the game in style with freshman CJ Bel giving the visitors good field position at midfield after a good return. From there, Mansfield needed just six plays to find the end zone. Cincere Gill (20 carries, 117 yards) broke free for a 16-yard run on third down (his longest carry of the game), and three plays later, Gill — out of the wildcat — handed it off to Comer on a sweep to the left for an 18-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than four minutes in.
Milford completed a third down pass on its opening drive but Mansfield corner Nick Bertolino punched the ball free and recovered the fumble, giving the Hornets the ball back at the Hawks’ 20-yard line. But as good as Mansfield’s defense was throughout, the Milford defense had a strong outing as well.
Hampered by a fumble and a holding call (Mansfield was flagged 10 times in the game), the Hornets offense stalled and Milford forced an incompletion on fourth to get the ball back. The momentum carried over to the offensive side of the ball and the Hawks cashed in just two plays later. With the offense spread out with four receivers, Milford handed it off to senior Dom Schofield up the middle and he found a hole and went the distance for a 69-yard touchdown, tying the game 7-7 with 3:45 left in the first quarter.
From that point, there weren’t many offensive highlights for either squad.
Mansfield had to punt on its next two possessions, but the second one off the foot of Gill took a favorable bounce for the Hornets and was downed at the Milford 5-yard line. On second down, Mansfield’s Caden Colby and Mark DeGirolamo came flying in at Milford quarterback Brady Olson (9/28, 91 yards), who fired a short pass to the right side. Comer read the play, stepped in front and intercepted the pass, and sprinted into the end zone for a 14-yard return.
“It was a hard game, it was hard with our penalties, and they have a very good offense but we just executed on defense,” Comer said. “We held our guys to short-yardage and covered our guys. On the pick-six, I saw green. I was just running for the hills, I wanted the touchdown. We watched a lot of film, watching how they execute so we were ready.”
Mansfield football Milford football Anthony Comer Cincere Gill Brady Olson
Milford started to orchestrate a response as Olson hit Max Martin for 13 yards on first down, and then a late hit on the Hornets moved the ball 15 more yards to the Mansfield 39-yard line. TJ Guy stopped the Hawks for a loss in the backfield but a holding call in the secondary once again moved the chains for the hosts, getting to the Mansfield 24-yard line.
Guy helped stuff another Milford run on first down, and on second down Olson’s pass hit off a receiver’s hands and Comer was able to come down with the deflection for his second straight interception, putting an end to another Milford drive.
Mansfield football Milford football Anthony Comer Cincere Gill Brady Olson
“Anthony played a great two-way game for us,” Redding said. “We felt we really needed him on defense today to cover, he’s one of our quicker guys and made some big plays for us. We’ve played two good spread teams and held them each to 7. We still have to get sharper on offense but the next couple of weeks it will be more about defending the running game. Taunton and KP are big, they’re going to try and bang, run the ball.”
Mansfield capitalized on the interception with its best drive of the game. The Hornets traveled 82 yards on 10 plays, taking off five minutes of game clock, and cashed in with another touchdown with under a minute to play in the half.
Gill had three straight runs that combined for over 20 yards early in the drive, and when the Hornets were backed up by a delay of game call, Gill hauled in a 21-yard pass from quarterback Matt Boen, just eluding the Milford defender along the sideline.
Comer turned a broken play into 18 yards, Nico Holmes burst up the middle for 7 yards, and on second and goal from the three, Boen sold the option and kept it himself, leaping across the goal line for a touchdown, giving Mansfield a 20-7 lead with 0:49 left in the first half.
Mansfield football Milford football Anthony Comer Cincere Gill Brady Olson
“That was big, I thought we wasted [an opportunity] before that…we came down and scored, got the ball back but we didn’t convert and they come down and tie the game,” Redding said. “We fortunately got a couple of more before half, and I thought the one right before halftime was a big turning point.
“When we do things right, we’re good but we didn’t do things right very often today. We’re getting way too many penalties and we just really have to work hard on offense getting sharper and executing because we’re too good not to score in a half no matter who we’re playing.”
Carter Scudo had a big return to the Mansfield 33-yard line to give the hosts a final shot before the break, but the Hornets forced four straight incompletions.
“All we ask for today is for them to give us 48 minutes and I thought they did that,” said first-year Milford head coach Dale Olson. “A couple of plays didn’t go our way today, that should have been 7-7 game in the fourth quarter and anybody’s game. But you live and you learn. But this is what Milford football is going to be from here on out, we’re going to contend. We have to get back on the horse because we have to play a very good KP team next week.”
Olson connected with Keithly Sutton on a bubble screen to move the chains on Milford’s first drive of the second half but the Hawks couldn’t capitalize as the Hornets shut the hosts down on the next three plays, including a perfectly-timed pass breakup by Bertolino.
“We feel Milford is as talented as anybody in the Kelley-Rex so if we didn’t beat them here today, they were going to run the table so, for us, it was basically a must-win game,” Redding said. “We want to be in the league race when we’re playing KP and Attleboro so you have to win today. I don’t Milford loses again moving forward, they have good linemen, I think the best QB in the league, great receivers. We’ve won [the Kelley-Rex division] a couple of times in a row but we felt pressure that it was a must-win for us against them on their field.”
Milford’s defense continued to do its part as Mansfield managed just two total yards on its first two drives, both resulting in punts including a third down kick to try and flip field position. The Hawks did a good job bottling up the Mansfield rushing attack, getting key tackles and pushes up front from the likes of Schofield, Scudo, Evan Cornelius, Grant Scudo, Alex McColl, Evan Hazard, Nick Yohn, Mario Lee, and Tyler Lane.
“I think we struggled a little bit today getting off jams at the wide receiver spot, I thought [Brady] pressed a little bit today,” Olson said. “Instead of standing in there a few times, he got out of the pocket when he didn’t need to. But listen, that’s a great football team we just played. I couldn’t be prouder of how our kids handled themselves today.
Mansfield football Milford football Anthony Comer Cincere Gill Brady Olson
“Realistically, I look up at the scoreboard and it should have been 7-7. We had our opportunities, could have had 1st and goal but instead, it was an interception. They ball-controlled us but our defense was outstanding today. All of the film I’ve watched, I haven’t seen a team hold Gill like that. They didn’t really hurt us today with their offense, I thought it was more a matter of our offense couldn’t get going.”
However, the Hawks’ offense just could never get going, punting twice to start the second half and then had its third drive of the second half come to a sudden stop when Gill intercepted a pass at his own 30-yard line.
Mansfield was able to move the ball enough to kill a lot of clock in the fourth quarter and Milford’s final drive ended on downs.
Mansfield football (2-0) is on the road for the second straight week when it travels to Taunton for a 4:30 kickoff on Friday. Milford (1-1) will face another stiff test next week when it hosts King Philip (2-0) on Saturday at 1:00.
Mansfield football Milford football Anthony Comer Cincere Gill Brady Olson
MILFORD, Mass. – Milford didn’t get the chance to scrimmage in the abbreviated preseason, so the Hawks needed to work out some of the kinks early in Saturday afternoon’s season opener against Attleboro. Luckily for Milford, its defense was in mid-season form right from the opening kick, giving its offense time to get settled in.
Once things clicked into gear, Milford proved unstoppable, overcoming three first half turnovers by scoring on four straight possessions between the second and third quarters to beat Attleboro 34-0 in the program’s first Kelley-Rex division game.
Attleboro couldn’t have asked for a better start. Alexander Bakowski recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff to give the visitors the ball at the Milford 32, but the Bombardiers went backwards and three plays later punted.
The ball rolled down to the Milford two-yard-line and Attleboro’s defense forced a three-and-out. Milford’s punt hung up in the wind, so Attleboro regained possession at the 23-yard-line. Again Attleboro went nowhere, as Michael Strachan was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on fourth and three.
“The offense didn’t help us out there,” said first-year Milford coach Dale Olson, “and put the defense behind some tough situations but I think the defensive game plan that my brother (Dana Olson) and Coach (Eric) Riley put together, I’d be hard-pressed to think they had over 100 yards of offense today. Defense was lights out today for sure.”
Two more times in the first half Attleboro would get the ball deep in Milford territory, after Milford fumbles recovered by Strachan and Ryan Betts. They started possessions at the Hawks’ 36 and 26, but ran four plays combined after the turnovers and gained no yards.
Attleboro had only two first downs in the game and one came in the final minute of regulation. Dom Schofield, Mario Lee, Tyler Lane, and Angelo Romero, among others were winning every battle at the point of attack and the Bombardiers struggled to find a way through.
“You can’t make the mistakes,” Attleboro coach Mike Strachan said. “I just thought they were more physical than us up front. [Being physical] is our game but they’re good up front. They’re a good football team.”
Milford’s offense was hardly lighting up the scoreboard early, but at the end of the first quarter the Hawks started to move the ball. Brady Olson, who transferred from Bishop Feehan, was able to connect with his talented crop of receivers. He hit Carter Scudo, Schofield, Max Martin, and Keithley Sutton to move into the red zone.
Two plays into the second quarter, he swung a pass to the near sideline for Scudo (six catches, 38 yards), who cut upfield and dove for the goal line. The ball came loose as he landed and Attleboro was sure that he had come up short, but the officials ruled it a touchdown and Milford took a 7-0 lead.
The score stayed the same until late in the half. After Attleboro lost the handle on a snap to give the Hawks back the ball just one play after Milford had themselves turned it over, the Hawks put together a 14-play, 73-yard drive to grab control of the game.
Olson (18-of-33, 296 yards) found Martin sliding across the middle for a 14-yard gain on third and eight inside Attleboro territory. The duo connected again on an out route to the sideline for another 14 yards on fourth and eight down to the Attleboro 25. A personal foul call moved the ball to the 10 and Olson showed off his poise in the pocket, biding time until Jaden Agnew came open in the back of the end zone and then he fired a strike for a 14-0 lead just before halftime.
“They’re big up front, they can sling it, they’ve got good athletes, and you can’t get caught not capitalizing on the turnovers early in the first half,” Strachan said. “That was our chance to really do something. I think defensively we played pretty well…just spent too much time on the field.”
Momentum carried over in the third quarter. Nick Yohn sacked Attleboro quarterback Blake Garzaro (5-of-19, 17 yards) on the first play of the second half and the Bombardiers were forced to punt. Milford struck just two plays later. Olson fired a deep ball to Agnew, who went up between a pair of defenders to pull down a 48-yard completion to the seven and Schofield punched it on the next play.
After completing only 12-of-25 passes in the first half, Olson would complete 6-of-8 in the second. He completed passes to six different receivers in the game. A 15-yard screen to Schofield converted a third and five. Matt Varteresian was next with a 23-yard grab down to the Attleboro 15. After a two-yard run by Kevin O’Connor, Sutton got open on the far sideline for a 13-yard touchdown.
Olson explained, “Both [Attleboro’s] inside linebackers are good football players, the down-four are good football players, and we knew they were young, inexperienced in the secondary so we knew we’d have some opportunities in the pass game. Early, Brady was just off and obviously he got on. That makes us dangerous offensively if we can keep spreading the wealth.”
Attleboro ran nine plays on its first three possessions of the second half. Milford only ran 11 on its first three possessions but scored all three times it had the ball. The third was the highlight, as Sutton beat his man down the seam and Olson hit him in stride for a 62-yard score and a 34-0 lead with 1:15 left in the third.
After earning its first win in the Kelley-Rex division, Milford (1-0) will now get its biggest test. The Hawks will host defending league (and state) champion Mansfield next Saturday. It will be the first-ever meeting between the teams. The Hawks are aware of the challenge ahead and relishing this opportunity.
“We get to see what we’re all about,” said Olson. “That’s it, it’s the opportunity to play a top team in the state, the defending Div. 2 Super Bowl team. To tell you the truth, these kids were ready to play Attleboro but they’re excited to play week two, week three, week four too, and they’re just excited for the opportunity.”
Attleboro (0-1) will host King Philip in its home opener at Tozier-Cassidy Field next Saturday.