By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FOXBORO, Mass. – It nearly had the makings of a terrific comeback.
North Attleboro had just cut the deficit to nine, closing the gap to 35-26 behind junior Brendan McHugh‘s third touchdown of the day. Now the defense was tasked with somehow forcing a turnover against a red-hot St. John’s Shrewsbury offense.
With 5:32 left in the game, on 3rd and 12, St. John’s Shrewsbury quarterback Steve Bucciaglia hit his receiver over the middle for what looked to be a first down, and possibly the play that would end North’s comeback attempt. Instead of a first down though, Thomas Lockavitch ripped the ball free for a fumble, recovering it himself and North Attleboro took over at the SJS 48-yard line with a chance to get back in the game.
After an incomplete pass on first down, Chad Peterson (23-30, 218 yards, two touchdowns) hit Marion Bresko for an 18-yard completion to get down to the St. John’s 29-yard line. On the next play, St John’s pressure resulted in an intentional grounding call and on 2nd and 22, Ian Schade brought pressure and picked up St. John’s first sack of the day, a five-yard loss, which pushed North back to the St. John’s 46.
Then, a false start on the Red Rocketeers pushed them back even further. On 3rd and 32 from their own 49, Peterson found Ryan Gaumond for a nine-yard gain, but North’s fourth down attempt was incomplete and St. John’s took back possession with a nine-point lead and just three minutes to play.
North hung tough and got their first stop on downs of the night against St. John’s explosive offense. Back on offense, they found the end zone on a Peterson 14 yard strike to Nate Pearce, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Pioneers, securing a 35-33 decision over the Rocketeers in the D3 State Final.
The turning point in the game came with 1:39 left in the third quarter, with North Attleboro trailing 28-20. St John’s was facing a 3rd and 12 from its own 26 yard line after back to back negative plays, and North sent a blitz but the offensive line picked it up just long enough for Bucciaglia (17-22, 224 yards, three TD) to deliver a perfect strike down the middle to an open John Brunelle on a post route for a 74-yard touchdown and a 35-20 lead.
“I felt like the momentum had started to swing on those first couple of downs and we had them back on their heels a little bit, and that’s what great teams can do, they come up with big plays in those crucial situations,” North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson said about the play.
“They were in zero coverage, man to man, sent the blitz, and our receivers are just so knowledgeable, they know what to run, and John [Brunelle] just got wide open and made it easy for me, that was all him,” Bucciaglia said about the game-breaking play.
St. John’s no-huddle offense got to work immediately, as their opening drive lasted just 2:32 and was capped off with a ten-yard Bucciaglia touchdown pass to Coleman Drugotch.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve seen an offense with that kind of tempo, ironically I think the last time was the last Super Bowl we were in, against Swampscott, and we came out on top of that one 44-40, but this one I think was even faster in their tempo,” Johnson added about the St. John’s offense.
Despite the prowess of North Attleboro’s defense, the plethora of weapons and up-tempo style that St. John’s ran proved hard to stop. Still, the Red Rocketeers made plays on offense to stay in the game and never let it get out of hand.
North responded immediately, marching down the field before Peterson hit senior Zach DeMattio out in the flat for a three-yard touchdown.
In the see-saw affair, SJS struck again before the end of the first quarter behind a four-yard rush from Colin Deso. But once again, North’s offense was there with an answer as McHugh took the jet sweep to the right for a nine-yard score and a 14-14 score just before the midway point of the second quarter.
“We came in and were fairly confident we could move the ball against them, and I thought the key to the game was going to be could we get a couple of stops on defense, and we just didn’t get enough,” Johnson added.
SJS took a 20-14 lead on its next drive, and North Attleboro ran out of time at half before it could respond. Big Red was unable to get things going on the first drive of the second half, resulting in the game’s first punt. The Pioneers made North pay, taking it down before Eamonn Dennis found the end zone from 15-yards out and a 28-14 lead.
McHugh got his second touchdown of the game, a three yard-rush, late in the third quarter to make it 28-20. Just over a minute later, Bucciaglia had his 74-yard touchdown.
“The defensive game plan going in, we knew they could run the ball, they have a couple 300 pounders up front so we were worried about that, but there’s only so much you can do to commit to that run game because those guys can throw all over the place,” Johnson said.
North cut it to nine with 6:38 left int he game when Peterson threw a pass to Nick Raneri behind the line of scrimmage, and the junior running back and backup quarterback floated a pass to McHugh right on the goal line for the touchdown.
For St. John’s Shrewsbury, the win caps off an undefeated 13-0 season that saw Bucciaglia have a record-setting season at quarterback. The Pioneers beat Doherty Memorial, Shrewsbury, and Springfield Central on their path to the state title game. It marks their first state title since 2010, when they were in Division 1.
North Attleboro finishes its season at 11-2.
Today’s games are listed below.
D2 State Final
#1 King Philip, 10 vs. #1 Lincoln-Sudbury, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: (LS) Braden O’Connell 18-yard pass to Matt Cunningham, XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (KP) Shane Frommer 13-yard rush, Cole Baker XP good.
4th Quarter: (KP) C. Baker 31-yard field goal.
D3 State Final
#1 North Attleboro, 33 vs. #1 St. John’s Shrewsbury, 35 – Final
1st Quarter: (SJ) Steven Bucciaglia 10-yard pass to Coleman Drugotch, Noah Moselhy XP good; (NA) Chad Peterson 3-yard pass to Zach DeMattio, Geoff Wilson XP good; (SJ) Colin Deso 2-yard rush, N. Moselhy XP good.
2nd Quarter: (NA) Brendan McHugh 8-yard rush, G. Wilson XP good; (SJ) Peter Oliver 2-yard rush, XP no good.
3rd Quarter: (SJ) S. Bucciaglia 15-yard pass to Eamonn Dennis, 2-point conversion good; (NA) B. McHugh 3-yard rush, XP no good; (SJ) S. Bucciaglia 74-yard pass to John Brunelle, N. Moselhy XP good.
4th Quarter: (NA) Nicholas Raneri 18-yard pass to B. McHugh, 2-point conversion no good; (NA) C. Peterson 14-yard pass to Nathan Pearce, Devin Slaney XP good.
You can add Duxbury to both lists.
The top-seeded red hot Rocketeers cruised to a D3 Sectional title, routing the second-seeded Dragons, 35-0, under the lights at Community Field.
It was the third straight year the programs met in the postseason, with Duxbury prevailing in the previous two contests including last year’s sectional final.
“We had a better feel for them this year I think, and the kids worked hard to get here,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “This senior class, they’ve lived through it. They’ve lost to [Duxbury] the last two years, they put an end to our season. So our guys were determined to have a different ending this year.”
North Attleboro advances to the D3 State Semifinal and will play the D3 North sectional champion, which will be decided on Saturday afternoon between Lynn English and Tewksbury.
Big Red wasted little time imposing its will on the offensive side of the ball, taking the opening kickoff and marching 55 yards on 12 plays — all rushing plays — to take an early lead. Brendan McHugh (10 carries, 47 yards, two touchdowns) took his fifth carry of the drive in from three yards out and Geoff Wilson’s extra point put North up 7-0 with 4:04 left in the first quarter.
“I think the offense did a great job,” Johnson said. “We’ve thrown the ball a lot this year, Chad Peterson is a great quarterback. But we felt like we could move the ball against them [on the ground] and to beat them we felt like we had to have good balance. I think establishing that run game early made the difference.”
Duxbury’s offense — which averaged 30 points per game coming into the contest — looked like it was primed to respond, possibly setting up a shootout between the two sides. But after moving into North territory, the Dragons saw what could have been a touchdown dropped over the middle, and then a fourth down passing attempt ruled incomplete on the sidelines.
After focusing on the run on its first drive, North shifted to its pass game as Chad Peterson (6-for-7, 98 yards, touchdown) hit Mario Bresko deep for a 46-yard gain on the second play of the drive. Two plays later, Peterson hit Jonathan James in the flat and the junior charged his way in for an 11-yard score and a 14-0 lead with 13 seconds left in the first quarter.
“I thought we came out on offense and executed well, our defense played great too,” Peterson said. “I thought we executed in all facets of the game tonight.”
Once again, Duxbury’s offense moved the ball, this time with a 53-yard drive to get into the red zone. But on the 15th play of the drive, Dragons quarterback John Roberts attempted to throw into the end zone, but Bresko stepped in front of the receiver for the interception and touchback.
Between lengthy drives, North’s third drive of the game stalled in enemy territory and had to punt just as time expired in the first half.
North’s defense had one of its biggest stops of the game to open the second half, forcing the Dragons to go three and out and get the ball back.
The offense didn’t skip a beat though, rattling off its second-longest drive of the game to begin the second half. Peterson completed passes to Bresko and Devin Slaney on the drive and converted a third down with his legs. McHugh converted a fourth and short down, and three plays later, got into the end zone on a second effort to make it 21-0.
“That’s all we talked about at halftime,” Johnson said, “We knew we had to kick to them so we needed our kickoff team to do a good job and then we needed our defense to get the ball back in the hands of our offense, and they did it.”
“We had excellent field position all night, the kickoff team did a good job pinning them deep,” Peterson said. “When you know you have a defense like ours, it takes a lot of pressure off of the offense.”
As if that sequence – a quick three and out from Duxbury and lengthy touchdown drive from North – didn’t put North in complete control, the next sequence did.
On the first play of Duxbury’s ensuing drive, Roberts dropped back to pass in shotgun and fired a quick pass to his left, but North Attleboro senior linebacker Zach DeMattio stepped right in front and galloped his way for an 18-yard interception return.
“Coach Johnson has been talking all week about how us linebackers have been struggling against the past the last couple of weeks so we really had to insert ourselves into the pass coverage,” DeMattio said. “We knew that play was coming so I just turned open and he threw it and I took it.
“We’ve had the last two years in our memories, them beating us at our place two years ago, and then beating as at their place last year. We had our game plan coming in, we knew what we had to do and we just executed on both sides of the ball.”
Duxbury picked a first down on its next drive, but then went four straight plays without positive yardage and turned it over on downs.
“When you get to this point, you better be good on both sides of the ball,” Johnson said. “I was happy to see our defense step up there a couple of times.”
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Nick Raneri took over at quarterback, used an option play and raced his way up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown and a 35-0 lead.
Duxbury once again turned it over on downs and North Attleboro’s reserves, led by Luke Labonte (five carries, 33 yards), ran the rest of the clock off.
“I’m happy for them,” Johnson said. “We’ve had so many teams over the years that have been so close. Sometimes its just a matter of matchups. You run up against a really good team, it might not work out for you that year. So I’m really happy for these kids.”
North Attleboro football (9-1) will find out its opponent for the D3 State Semifinal on Saturday. Lynn English and Tewksbury kickoff at 2:00PM.
Today’s games are listed below.
Football – Playoffs
D2 South Final
#1 King Philip, 29 vs. #3 Bridgewater-Raynham, 19 – Final
1st Quarter: (BR) Corey Sullivan 12-yard pass to Jeff Ciccio, XP good; (KP) Jack Webster 2-yard rush, Cole Baker XP good.
2nd Quarter: (BR) Devante Greaves 2-yard rush, XP failed; (KP) Shane Frommer 65-yard rush, C. Baker XP good; (BR) C. Sullivan 1-yard rush, 2pt pass failed.
3rd Quarter: (KP) S. Frommer 2-yard rush, S. Frommer 2pt rush.
4th Quarter: (KP) S. Frommer 8-yard rush, C. Baker XP good.
D3 South Final
#1 North Attleboro, 35 vs. #2 Duxbury, 0 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.
1st Quarter: (NA) Brendan McHugh 3-yard rush, Geoff Wilson XP good; (NA) Chad Peterson 11-yard pass to Jonathan James, G. Wilson XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (NA) B. McHugh 1-yard rush, G. Wilson XP good; (NA) Zach DeMattio 18-yard interception return, G. Wilson XP good.
4th Quarter: (NA) Nick Raneri 18-yard rush, G. Wilson XP good.
Football – Non Playoffs
Attleboro, 34 vs. Weymouth, 7 – Final
1st Quarter: (A) Cam Furtado 5-yard rush, Joseph Llanos 2pt rush; (A) Alex Rodriguez 44-yard rush, 2pt rush failed; (A) J. Llanos 12-yard rush, Tyler Evans XP good.
2nd Quarter: (A) J. Llanos 4-yard rush, T. Evans XP good.
3rd Quarter: (A) Justin Cote 17-yard rush, T. Evans XP good.
4th Quarter: (W) Seth Mullen 3-yard rush, S. Mullen XP good.
Canton, 28 vs. Norwood, 8 – Final
1st Quarter: (C) James Murphy 9-yard rush, XP failed; (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 76-yard rush, J. Murphy 2pt rush.
2nd Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 45-yard pass to Tony Harris, XP failed.
3rd Quarter: (C) Gersom Rivera 8-yard rush, K. Fitzgerald 2pt rush.
4th Quarter: (N) Norwood 4-yard rush, Norwood 2pt pass conversion.
Foxboro, 6 vs. Medfield, 15 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (M) Medfield 1-yard rush, XP failed.
3rd Quarter: (F) Devin Hassett 3-yard rush, XP failed; (M) Medfield 19-yard rush, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (M) Medfield field goal.
Franklin, 0 vs. Wellesley, 21 – Final
Oliver Ames, 6 vs. North Quincy, 0 – Final
1st Quarter: (OA) Cam Perron 4-yard pass to Anthony Berksza, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: No scoring.
Sharon, 20 @ Norton, 31 – Final
Stoughton, 10 @ Hingham, 13 – Final
1st Quarter: (H) Will Thomas 2-yard rush, XP good.
2nd Quarter: (S) Ruben Gonzalez 9-yard rush, Justin Ly 2pt rush.
3rd Quarter: No scoring
4th Quarter: (H) Mike Hannon 5-yard rush 2pt failed; (S) Safety.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – After a slow start to the game, North Attleboro put the ball in the hands of senior quarterback Chad Peterson and the Amherst College-commit came through with four touchdowns, two through the air in the first half and two more on the ground in the second, to lead the Rocketeers to a 28-14 first round win against Walpole.
North was able to survive and advance, despite the defense allowing more than 200 passing yards against Walpole’s spread formation, including 163 receiving yards (on 11 receptions) by wideout Chase Conrad.
“We knew they could throw the ball, so defensively we wanted to put pressure on the quarterback, which I thought we did a decent job of earlier but then they did a good job picking the pressure and we didn’t do a particularly good job covering the guys behind it,” said North Attleboro coach Don Johnson. “So, that kept them in the game.”
The North defense showed its ability to get pressure straight up the middle on the first Walpole series when Ryan Clemente dislodged the ball from Rebels running back Drew Van klock, hitting him just as he received the ball.
North returned the favor with a fumble five plays later but again the defense kept the pressure up on Walpole senior quarterback Brett Lavanchy (17-32, 223 yards). Geoff Wilson, Sam Bullock, and Zach DeMattio all forced Lavanchy into rushed throws and Wilson’s sack led to a Rebels punt.
North took over on its own 15-yard-line and proceeded to put together a 12-play, 85-yard drive to open the scoring. Nathan Pearce (11 carries, 96 yards) got the drive going with a 28-yard jet sweep to the far sideline and North kept advancing into the red zone until Peterson was sacked to force a third and 18. Peterson hit Pearce on an eight-yard screen and, on fourth and 10, found Ryan Gaumond on the near sideline for 16 and a first down.
Two plays later, Peterson bought time and found Nolan Buckley open in the back of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown.
Walpole responded quickly. Conrad returned the kick to the Walpole 45 and it took the Rebels only six plays to get on the board. DeMattio and Adam Eberle combined on a sack to force third and 13 from the North 47, but Walpole caught the Rocketeers in an all-out blitz. Lavanchy’s screen pass found Conrad in space and he took it the distance.
A missed extra point kept North in the lead, but the Rocketeers failed to take advantage on the next drive, turning it over on downs at the Walpole 16.
“Walpole played tough,” said Johnson. “I thought they did a great job on defense and worked hard to make us earn it.”
He added, “We thought we’d be able to move the ball on the ground, but I thought they played really well on defense in the first half. They did some different things that we hadn’t seen on the film. They jumped into a 50 double eagle look there and we hadn’t seen them do that all year long.”
Jonathan James and Bullock combined on a sack to end Walpole’s drive and get the ball back for North with just 51 seconds remaining in the half. The Rocketeers took over at the 50 and Peterson proceeded to march the hosts down field, needing just five plays to add a big score before the break. All three completions on the drive went to Devin Slaney, including the 26-yard touchdown.
The Rocketeers got the ball back to start the third quarter and promptly extended the lead. Pearce broke a 31-yard run to get the ball into Walpole territory. Peterson would take it the final 16 yards on a pair of carries to make it 21-6.
“I thought that was key, coming out get that first drive and score in the second half,” said Johnson. “I thought that was a big momentum swing there.”
He continued, “I never felt like we were out of control, but I just never felt like we could finish things. It just took a while for us tonight.”
Walpole’s ability to move the ball through the air meant that the game was far from over and the Rebels immediately responded to cut the lead back to one score. Conrad had another big return to get the ball near midfield. A 26-yard catch moved the drive inside the North 30 and then it was finished with a 16-yard catch in the back corner. Lavanchy and Conrad connected on the conversion as well.
“At halftime, they definitely went in there to pick up the middle blitz,” said DeMattio, “so we tried coming off the edge to try and stop the sprint out.”
After a North punt, the Rebels were on the move again, getting the ball inside the Rocketeers’ 10. Lavanchy was forced to throw a pass away on first and goal then was stuffed for a four-yard loss on a keeper by Jason McNeany and Marc Burns. On third and goal, Clemente got loose in the backfield for North’s fifth sack of the game. With Gaumond in coverage, the fourth down pass went out the back of the end zone.
North took over on its own 17. The Rocketeers put together a 13-play, 83-yard drive that put the game away. While the bulk of the drive consisted of runs by Peterson (13 carries, 88 yards), Pearce, and Nick Raneri (13 carries, 54 yards), there were also two big completions from Peterson to Gaumond on the far sideline. Peterson capped the possession with a seven-yard keeper to seal the win.
“It was a tough first game, but it was fun,” said DeMattio. “You can definitely see a lot more people coming out, bigger crowds, lot more intense.”
When asked about the prospect of hosting league rival Stoughton next week, DeMattio added, “They’re definitely a run-heavy team, so it will be good for them to come back to Community Field and get a good game for everyone.”
Johnson said of what was at the time only a potential rematch with Stoughton, “I don’t like playing anybody a second time. They get to know all your secrets.”
North Attleboro ended up on the fortunate side of the final big play, holding on for a close 14-13 win over visiting Foxboro to take sole place of the Davenport division with two games to play.
It looked as though the Rocketeers had a chance to finish the game when Mario Bresko came up with an interception with 2:57 to play and a seven point lead. But Foxboro’s no-quit attitude helped the Warriors force a quick three and out and get the ball back with 2:20 to play.
Starting at the North Attleboro 35-yard line, Foxboro quickly moved into the red zone. A pass from Devin Hassett (9/17, 88 yards, two touchdowns) to Jack O’Donnell and a QB keeper moved the chains. Hassett found O’Donnell for 10-yards and then Anthony Capachietti (14 carries, 65 yards) moved the chains again with a seven-yard burst.
Facing third and goal from the five, the snap was bobbled and North Attleboro’s Sam Bullock and Geoff Wilson swarmed for an eight-yard sack. The Warriors had just one play left – 4th and goal from the 13-yard line – with 18 seconds to play.
Hassett fired over the middle, connecting with O’Donnell on the slant. It looked as though North had him stopped just before the goal line, but the senior dove forward, stretching out the ball across the goal line for a touchdown to make it 14-13 with 0:10 to play.
However, Foxboro’s connection between snap and hold was just off, forcing the extra point kick to be low and into the line, giving the Rocketeers a one-point win.
“I’m really proud of the effort of the kids,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “We hung tough and made some plays. But I’m not sure if I’m ready to call us good yet, that was your word. Foxboro was a good team though, I know that.
“I think on both sides of the ball we just had a lot of kids who hung tough and didn’t crumble under the pressure. They worked their asses off, some of those guys playing both ways, especially inside. They hung tough and didn’t give it an inch.”
North Attleboro took the lead on the possession prior to Bresko’s interception. It was the second time that the Rocketeers ran 10-plays in a series (the other time was in the second quarter that also resulted in a touchdown). This series was the longest drive of the game for Big Red, spanning 73-yards.
It looked as though the drive was going to stall early when Foxboro’s Martin McElroy blew up a second down run. Facing 3rd and 13 from their own 24-yard line, North quarterback Chad Peterson (9/11, 110 yards, two touchdowns) was flanked out to the right and hit Brendan McHugh (16 carries, 54 yards, four receptions, 76 yards) right at the first down marker to move the chains.
McHugh then rattled off runs of seven, four and nine yards before Nick Raneri (11 carries, 36 yards) moved the chains with a three-yard burst up the middle. Three plays later, North was faced with 3rd and six at the 36-yard line.
Peterson dropped back to pass, firing to his left as McHugh came towards him. Nolan Buckley, who was lined up in the slot, turned out wide to start and then came up with a perfectly timed block when McHugh hauled in the pass. The junior was able to break a tackle up field and scampered his way for a 36-yard score. Wilson’s extra point made it 14-7 with 4:43 to play.
Foxboro had a strong start to the game. They forced a turnover on downs when North Attleboro’s fake punt from its own 40-yard line fell incomplete. Seven plays later, the Warriors were in the end zone when Hassett hit Jake Addeche (four receptions, 35 yards) on a seam route up the middle for a 14-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
North Attleboro tied the game on its first drive of the second quarter. The drive spanned 61 yards on 10 plays, with the Rocketeers getting into the end zone with less than a minute to play in the first half. On second and goal from the seven, Peterson hit Raneri out of the backfield and he muscled his way into the end zone to make it 7-7.
Big Red’s defense was at its best in the second and third quarters, forcing Foxboro to punt on all four of its drives in those two quarters. Foxboro had moved towards the red zone but on second down, Zach DeMattio and Jason McNeany forced a 10-yard loss on a sack and the Warriors had to punt two downs later.
In an early drive in the fourth quarter, Foxboro had a second down at the North 30-yard line, but Bullock’s sack dropped the Warriors back 15-yards. Pressure from Adam Eberle and Wilson on third down forced an incompletion and Foxboro once again had to punt.
“I think the defense really stepped up and did a good job,” Johnson said. “But even when you think you have them buried on that third or fourth down, they stepped up to make a play, they have some good players.”
North also had an early third quarter drive stalled when Addeche and Louis Piccolo forced a fumble after a completion. Big Red had to punt on its next drive as well after getting just two yards in three plays.
“We had a hard time handling Foxboro up front,” Johnson said. “We had a lot of negative yards or negative plays in the run game. They really crowded the line scrimmage, they were flying to the football and just matching up man-to-man with everybody else. That’s a situation where you have to get a body on a body and block everybody and we were losing some one-on-one battles.”
North Attleboro football (4-1 overall, 3-0 Davenport) now moves into a position to clinch a league share with a win next week when it travels to Stonehill College to take on Stoughton. The Rocketeers have a chance to clinch a share of their third straight league title. The last time North Attleboro did that was 1997-1999.
“We made a reference that a win tonight would put us in the position to be playing for a share of a championship.
“[A three-peat] hasn’t happened too many times so there is a lot of incentive there. The problem is that the other team is pretty good too. I think Stoughton is going to be just like Foxboro, it’s going to be a battle.”
Foxboro (3-2, 2-1) will look to bounce back when it hits the road to take on Milford next Friday.
The Rocketeers delivered in a big way.
Big Red scored on both of its first two drives, combining to run 19 plays in the first quarter compared to just four for the hosts, and seized a 13-0 advantage after 11 minutes of play.
North’s strong start paved the way for a 27-6 win over the Scarlet Hawks.
“That was the plan going in because [Milford] runs that double-wing offense,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “They can take control of the football and clock and really put you behind the eight ball. So we really thought it was important to get ahead and make [Milford] play from behind.
“It was really good to see, I felt good after seeing our offense bring the ball down the field like that.”
After Milford deferred, North Attleboro marched 68 yards on 11 plays on the game’s opening drive. A 23-year gain from Brendan McHugh (13 carries, 79 yards, two touchdowns) and 10-yard rush on fourth down from Nick Raneri (12 carries, 91 yards) helped Big Red move into the red zone.
McHugh took a sweep to the left and walked his way in for a two-yard touchdown. North’s attempt at a two-point conversion was caught but out of bounds.
Big Red’s defense was ready to go to start the game, allowing Milford’s offense to gain just two yards on its first three plays and forced a punt.
Nathan Pearce (63 total yards) started the next drive with a quick 15-yard first down run and two plays later Raneri rumbled his way for 30 yards. Facing a 3rd and 10 from the Milford 22-yard line, senior quarterback Chad Peterson (7/15, 96 yards, rush touchdown) hit junior Ryan Gaumond for a 12-yard gain and a first down.
Three plays later, Peterson kept it himself and took off to the right, sprinting inside the pylon for a four-yard touchdown. Geoff Wilson’s extra point made it 13-0 with 34 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Milford’s offense couldn’t move the ball forward on its next drive and had to punt, but the Scarlet Hawks’ defense came up with a big stop. Patrick Brogioli forced a six-yard loss on a second down play, and after a hold on third down, the Rocketeers were forced to punt.
But once again, North’s defense held Milford to negative yards and the Hawks had to punt.
Peterson connected with Pearce for 25-yards to help the drive get started and then kept it on a QB option, galloping all the way to the one-yard line with a 43-yard rush. McHugh plunged up the middle for the touchdown on the next play and a 20-0 lead with 4:11 left in the first half.
“I think we might have gotten over the hump tonight, I really do,” Johnson said. “Especially the way we performed offensively in the beginning of the game. I think we left some opportunities out there, a couple of guys that were open that didn’t get the ball. But I think we’re pretty close to where we need to be on offense, but there’s still room for improvement on both sides.”
Milford elected to switch its offense, moving from the double-wing to its spread formation, bringing in sophomore quarterback Colby Pires (7/19, 84 yards).
Although the Hawks’ drive stalled before the half, Pires completed a pass to junior Shapel Feaster (five catches, 65 yards) for the team’s first first down.
The home side seemed to feed off the bit of momentum it gained before the halftime break and used it to open the second half with a touchdown. Ryan O’Toole opened the half with a 13-yard run and a first down.
Two plays later, Pires floated one into the end zone and Joyce was able to leap up and make the catch for a 14-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to 20-6.
“We made an adjustment to get out of our war set and go spread and I think that worked a little bit for us,” said MHS head coach Anthony Vizakis. “We have to do better and learn from this and regroup from this.
“It was good experience for our sophomore quarterback who I thought stood in there and played very well. When we watch the film tomorrow, we’ll get better from this. It’s there in spurts and the kids battled. We had a couple of negative plays that really hurt us but I think those are correctable.”
Milford’s defense delivered on North’s first drive of the second half, forcing the Rocketeers to punt after gaining two first downs on its first two plays.
Pires hit Feaster for a first down to begin the drive, but North Attleboro’s Zach DeMattio come up with a 12-yard sack on first down, and a host of Rocketeers forced an 11-yard loss on Milford’s next run. Milford had to punt two plays later.
“The same thing happened last week,” Johnson said. “Sharon had the long kickoff return and the defense came out and held them to a field goal, and we blocked that field goal. I think the defense is maturing pretty well and coming up with some big stops.
“We hadn’t seen them in that spread formation very much on film. We really didn’t have a scouting report to go on for that offense. We just wanted to get some pressure on him as best he can. But he’s a good athlete and made some plays.”
North put an exclamation point on the game with its next drive. Taking the rest of the time in the third quarter, and over a minute of the fourth quarter, Big Red marched 68 yards on 10 plays and scored its fourth touchdown.
Peterson hit McHugh for 15-yards and a first down, Raneri had a two-yard run for a first down and then Peterson hit a wide-open Nolan Buckley up the middle for a 20-yard score and a 27-6 lead with 9:59 to play.
North Attleboro (3-1 overall, 2-0 Hockomock) will have its first big test of division play when it hosts Foxboro in a battle of Davenport unbeatens. Milford (1-3, 1-1) will travel to Sharon on Saturday for a 3:30 kickoff.
“The schedule has worked in our favor so far,” Johnson said. “We really challenged ourselves with our scrimmage schedule, then opened up with King Philip. It’s worked out pretty good because we’ve been a team that’s slow to develop. And I think we have developed and gotten better every week. Now the question is ‘are we good enough now to beat a good Foxboro team?’”
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Hockomock Football Players to Watch on Defense
Jude Albert, Senior – Canton
The Bulldogs will have a young squad this year, but one spot they have some experience is at linebacker, with senior Jude Albert leading the way. Starting at outside linebacker last season, Albert was a big time playmaker for Canton. Whether it was using his speed to get around the edge or through the gap up the middle to pressure the quarterback or stuff a runner, or it was reading the play and dropping back in coverage to matchup with a back, Albert is able to do it. Often times, it will take more than one blocker to take Albert out of the play and he showed last year that he won’t give up on a play either. If the defense fails to put someone in the way, opposing quarterbacks need to be on the lookout for Albert coming their way.
Mario Bresko, Senior – North Attleboro
Standing at 6’4, its no surprise that Mario Bresko will be one of the top receiving options in the league this year, especially with Chad Peterson at quarterback. But Bresko will also be one of the top corner backs in the league as well. After starting last season and playing in some high pressure games, Bresko will bring experience to a secondary that might have some new faces this season. The speed that he shows on the offensive side of the ball is also a reason he can cover opponents defensively. And when it comes to a jump ball, you’re going to want to pick Bresko, who stars for Big Red’s track and field team in the high jump, placing first in the event at Hock Championships in both winter and spring.
Mansfield has plenty of experience returning in its front seven and that group will be led by Cox, a tenacious linebacker who should be involved in plenty of action for the Hornets defense this fall. Cox is coming off an all-star season on the lacrosse field and his speed and ability to read the game translates to football as well, where he can make plays from his outside position against both the ground game and in the pass rush. His quickness also allows him to drop into coverage when needed to cover tight ends or running backs downfield. The Hornets have high expectations for this season and Cox’s leadership on defense will be a big key to achieving their goals.
Zach DeMattio, Senior – North Attleboro
North Attleboro graduated a handful of all-league players on the defensive side of the ball from last season, but one of the key returning pieces is senior Zach DeMattio at the inside linebacker spot. While DeMattio will also see time on the offensive side of the ball in the backfield, he will be one of the anchors for the front seven on defense. Strength is certainly not a question for DeMattio, who is committed to play baseball at Wheaton College and is one of the top power hitters in the league. On top of his strength, he’s shown the ability to read the play and attack. His ability to make the tackle in one-on-one situations makes him one of the best linebackers in the Hock.
Andrew Dittrich, Senior – King Philip
On a team blessed with depth and talent on the defensive side of the ball, Dittrich stood out for last year’s Div. 1A Super Bowl and Kelley-Rex champions. A ball-hawking defensive back, he seemed to always come through in the clutch for the Warriors. Three times – twice in the playoffs – he sealed a KP victory with an interception, including the D1A South sectional final. While the Warriors are known as a team that can bottle up a running game, Dittrich also gave them a playmaker in the secondary. In addition to his coverage skills, he can also help out in the running game and rush the passer from the edge.
Ryan Driscoll, Junior – Franklin
Driscoll stepped into the lineup as a sophomore and started all 11 games at cornerback for the Panthers in 2016. He demonstrated the natural speed and instincts to be a top cover corner and second-year head coach Eian Bain said this his improvement from day one means that Driscoll will be one of the focal points of the Franklin defense this fall. With Driscoll and junior safety Nolan McLaney, the Panthers secondary should be a strength of the team for the next couple of seasons, as they try to shut down high-powered passing attacks like Mansfield, Taunton, and Attleboro.
Nick Evans, Junior – Attleboro
Consistency was an issue at times for the Bombardiers defense last season, but they also showed flashes of versatility and talent. One of the players that emerged as a force for Attleboro was Evans, who played linebacker as a sophomore and was a constant presence around the ball. This year, he is listed as a defensive end, where he can use his speed to get around the edge on the pass rush, but he is also big enough to set the edge on running plays that head his way. There is a lot of optimism about Attleboro this preseason and Evans is a player who opponents will have to plan for in order to have success against a deep Bombardiers squad.
When it comes to the top two-way players in the league, Stoughton senior Justin Ly has to be near the top of the list. He showed off his speed and power running game last year and will certainly be one of the top backs again this season. But more importantly, Ly will relied upon to anchor Stoughton’s front seven after the Black Knights graduated so many starters. The combination of speed and strength that makes him a successful back are also the reasons he’s one of the top linebackers. Whether it’s in pass coverage, or in pursuit of a quarterback or running back, Ly shows great instincts to make the right play.
Jack Mills, Senior – Oliver Ames
Mills is entering his third fall as a starter for the Tigers and has been an anchor for both the offensive and defensive lines. Last season, he was named a league all-star for OA and was named a HockomockSports.com Hock 5 Defensive Lineman. He made 30 tackles and used his imposing size and quickness off the ball to disrupt the opposition. Even when he did not make the play himself, Mills regularly draws double teams and holds up blocker to open lanes for teammates. It has been a difficult stretch for OA over the past two years, but Mills has earned his place as one of the top linemen in the league.
Anytime you have a player that lines up at both linebacker and fullback you know one thing is for sure: they like to hit. Matt Pond will see time at both positions this year but his main role will be as Foxboro’s starting inside linebacker. And because of his combination of football IQ and speed, expect Pond to be among the leaders of tackles in each game. The Warriors didn’t have a ton of experience on defense a year ago, but Pond stepped up to be a leader. Not only is Pond strong in the pass game, but when a blitz is called, he’s one of most dangerous linebackers in league because of his speed and ability to tackle in the open field.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017 Davenport Football Preview
2016 Record: 3-8
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Bohane
Key/Returning Players: Brendan Albert, Jr., LB; Alec Ragusa, Sr., FB/LB; Jude Albert, Sr., OL/LB; Kearvens Theodore, Sr., OL/DL; Chris Benjamin, Sr., OL/DL; Tony Harris, Sr., SE/DB; Johnny Hagan, Soph., QB; Kyle Fitzgerald, Soph., FS; Ben Seaman, Jr., LB; Gersom Rivera, Soph., RB; Jack Connolly, Soph., OL/DL; Christian Walker, Sr., TE;
Outlook: The Bulldogs have a solid handful of experienced players back this season and will be looking to mix in a good amount of youth during the 2017 season.
While Canton will have plenty of seniors on the field, head coach Dave Bohane expects a good mix of juniors and even sophomores to get plenty of playing time. The youth starts under center as sophomore Johnny Hagan takes over as the team’s starting quarterback. He’ll have two big targets to work with in Tony Harris and Christian Walker as well as a versatile backfield that features Alec Ragusa and Gersom Rivera.
On the defensive side of the ball, a group of experienced linebackers, including Ragusa, Jude Albert, Brendan Albert and Ben Seamen will anchor the Bulldogs. Kearvens Theodore will be a big piece on the defensive line, alongside Chris Benjamin and Jack Connolly. Sophomore Kyle Fitzgerald will take on the responsibility of being a starting safety but will have plenty of experience in the secondary with seniors Cordell Smith and Marquise Montes manning the corners.
“Getting off to a good start is always important, and equally important is those later weeks,” Bohane said. “We have to keep bodies fresh and keep ourselves in a position to make playoffs. It’s a tough league, everyone we play will be a really good football team. We’re young but athletic and competitive, and I think that will make a difference.”
2016 Record: 5-6
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jack Martinelli
Key/Returning Players: Teddy Maher, Sr., SS/WR; Phil Dure, Sr., CB/WR; Louis Piccolo, Sr., FS; Devin Hassett, Sr., QB/SE/FS; Jake Addeche, Sr., WR/CB; Patrick Kaveny, Sr., DE; Mike Henri, Sr., RB/SS; Matt Pond, Sr., LB; Mike Luong, Jr., RB; Matt Suess, Sr., OL/DL; Anthony Capachietti, Sr., RB; Hunter Williams, Jr., OL; Andrew Longa, Jr., OL; Kade Treannie, Sr., OL.
Outlook: Foxboro is looking to ride the strength of a deep senior class to get back to the playoffs after missing out a season ago and also get back into the Davenport division title hunt after winning it two years ago.
The Warriors boast 35 seniors and have a handful of experienced juniors that are back after winning five games last season. Under center, senior Devin Hassett and junior Liam Foley are both in the running to take snaps. Hassett is also an option to catch the ball, giving the Warriors some flexibility on the offensive end. A strength that Foxboro will rely on on the offensive side of the ball is their playmaking ability at the skill positions. The Warriors boast multiple capable ball carriers (Mike Henri, Mike Luong, Anthony Capachietti) and pass catchers (Teddy Maher, Phil Dure, Jake Addeche) that can make things happen. Seniors Matt Suess and Kade Treannie and juniors Hunter Williams and Andrew Longa will see time on the offensive line.
Defensively, Foxboro will be looking to improve after giving up just over 29 points per game against division opponents a year ago. The Warriors will be relying on quickness and an aggressive demeanor to make plays on the defense end. Louis Piccolo, Maher, Hassett, Addeche and Henri are all likely candidates to see time in the secondary while Pat Kaveny (defensive end) and Matt Pond (linebacker) will lead the front seven.
“Chemistry amongst 35 seniors and a return to ‘old school Foxboro football’ will personify the 2017 season,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli.
2016 Record: 6-5
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Anthony Vizakis
Key/Returning Players: Ryan O’Toole, Sr., RB; Matt Curran, Sr., QB; Patrick Brogioli, Sr., OL/DL; Tyler Joyce, Sr., TE/DE; Cullen Burns, Sr., OL/DL; Kayden Kelley, Sr., WR/CB; Will Pointer, Sr., RB/LB; Shapel Feaster, Jr., RB/CB; Matt Annantuonio, Sr., RB/CB; David Abbatinozzi, Sr., OL/DL; Brendan White, Jr., TE/S; Josh Ligor, Jr., OL/DL; Chris Rivera, Sr., RB/LB; Jacob Eosco, Sr., OL/DL.
Outlook: First year head coach Anthony Vizakis is looking to the past as he begins his first season with the Scarlet Hawks. Vizakis is hoping the 2017 Hawks will pull from the tradition of the program as they look to get back to the playoffs once again this year.
It will certainly be a challenge as Milford graduated some of the most talented players in the league, from all different parts of the field. One constant is that the Hawks return quarterback Matt Curran for his senior year. Another familiarity for Curran will be running back Ryan O’Toole, who saw a lot of time last year alongside Blake Hill in the backfield. Receiver Kayden Kelley and tight end Tyler Joyce are also back after getting plenty of reps on the offensive end as well. Seniors Patrick Brogioli and Cullen Burns are two returning starters from the Hawks’ offensive line.
Defensively, the Scarlet Hawks will be looking to continue what they did in 2016, allowing just a shade over 17 points per game. While it was impressive that Milford allowed just 28 points total against Sharon, Canton and Foxboro, the Hawks will need to make a leap to try and halt the offensive firepower of North Attleboro and Stoughton. It will start up front with a tough line and then an athletic group of linebackers. Will Pointer and Chris Rivera will be two of those linebackers while Shapel Feaster and Matt Annantuonio will join Brendan White as members of the secondary.
“Milford football prides itself on the tradition of having physically, and mentally tough football players,” Vizakis said. “That tradition is alive and well, and the energy and intensity coming out of our locker room and onto the practice field thus far has been infectious.”
2016 Record: 9-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Final
Coach: Don Johnson
Outlook: With two straight league titles under its belt, North Attleboro isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon. With record-breaking quarterback Chad Peterson back under center for his senior season, the Rocketeers look to be the early favorite for another Davenport title.
After two straight impressive season, Peterson will look to lead this year’s Rocketeers to their second straight Davenport title and another deep run in the playoffs. While playmakers Bobby Mylod and Nick Rajotte are gone, Peterson will have running backs Zach DeMattio and Adam Eberle to work with and receivers Mario Bresko, Omar Jasseh and Ryan Gaumond when he drops back to throw. Junior Ryan Clemente already has a year’s experience under his belt and could be one of the most dominant lineman in the league this season. Sam Bullock, Brad White, John Bradley, Geoff Wilson, Jack Puccio, Aidan Harding and Joe Larkin will all be options alongside Clemente on the offensive line.
One of the biggest reasons for North’s success a year ago was its very impressive defense, which allowed just under 12 points per game (Hockomock League best). Big Red will have to replace some big names and might have to overcome some inexperience early on, but head coach Don Johnson notes there is good competition among the front seven and secondary. Bresko is one player that has experience in the secondary while DeMattio (linebacker) and Bullock (defensive tackle) will anchor the front seven.
“The team has worked hard in the offseason,” Johnson said. “We are confident that our strong scrimmage schedule (Marshfield, Braintree and Bridgewater-Raynham), and a Week 1 non-league game versus defending D2 Super Bowl champion King Philip, will help us prepare for the ultra-competitive Hockomock League schedule.”
2016 Record: 6-5
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Morse
Key/Returning Players: Austin Dodes, Sr., WR/DB; Drew Naisuler, Sr., TE/DE; Coleman Loftus, Jr., OL/DL; Chris Gong, Jr., WR/DB; Sam Spencer, Jr., TE/LB; Aaron Strong, Jr., RB/LB; Jeremy Ruskin, Jr., QB.
Outlook: The 2017 version of the Sharon Eagles might be on the young side, but head coach Dave Morse is hoping that youth injects some energy into his squad.
The Eagles started and finished the 2016 season strongly, going 3-0 to begin and then closing with a win over Hopkinton and then a Thanksgiving Day win over rival Oliver Ames to finish over .500. Now, the Eagles will be trying to repeat that success while improving their league record. Junior Jeremy Ruskin is back under center after taking over late in the season last fall and will have senior Austin Dodes and tight end Drew Naisuler available as pass catching options. Junior Aaron Strong saw some carries last year and will likely be a feature back this season.
Defensively, the Eagles were one of the stingiest units in the entire league (just over 18 PPG). The Eagles held six of their 11 opponents under 14 points per game. Junior Coleman Loftus is a returning starter and a two-way lineman for the Eagles while junior linebacker Sam Spencer will look to make an impact this season. Chris Gong joins Dodes and Strong in the secondary while Naisuler will be a part of the Eagles’ front seven.
“It has been a pleasure coaching this group and seeing them make progress,” Morse said. “Despite being the youngest team I have coached, their commitment is refreshing and they motivate me to help them succeed.”
2016 Record: 8-3
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal
Coach: Greg Burke
Key/Returning Players: Evan Gibb, Jr., QB; Jason Joseph, Sr., DE/TE; Justin Ly, Sr., FB/LB; Colin Sanda, Sr., WR/DB; Ruben Gonzalez, Sr., WR/RB/DB; Alex Sjoquist, Sr., RB/DB; Paul Feeney, Sr., OL/DL; Anthony Burke, Sr., OL/DL.
Outlook: The Black Knights have had a strong stretch of success over the past couple of seasons and will try to continue that in 2017, despite graduating a very memorable senior class last season.
Gone are playmakers Ryan Sullivan and Izon Swain-Price, as well as linemen Lino Azul and Andrew Iverson and a handful of terrific role players. But, one key returning piece is junior quarterback Evan Gibb. Gibb took over early on during his sophomore season and looked very comfortable in his role. Now he will have to be a leader of the offensive unit. Justin Ly was the third member of Stoughton’s three-headed rushing attack a year ago and will likely be one of the team’s feature backs. Ly is a tough runner that can get yards up the middle but also has speed to get to the outside. Alex Sjoquist will likely also get carries while experienced receivers Colin Sanda and Ruben Gonzalez should see increased roles in 2017.
The Knights are well known for their defense during the successful stretch. While there will be a lot of new faces in new places, the Knights are relying on improved speed to go along with their strength. Jason Joseph is back after a solid junior campaign to lead the defensive line along with Paul Feeney, while Ly is joined by Anthony Burke as linebackers. Sanda, Gonzalez and Sjoquist will all see time in the secondary for Stoughton.
“We’re replacing so many kids from last year,” Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. “We hope to be ready without a lot of experience. We hope to compete and be healthy.”