Davenport Thanksgiving drama
Sharon, Stoughton, OA fight for playoffs
On the first day of conditioning drills this summer, the Oliver Ames football squad took a bus ride to Gillette Stadium, the site of six high school Super Bowls on the first Saturday in December, including Division 3. The Tigers ran up and down the bleachers.
With a win over Hockomock League Davenport rival Sharon (4-5 overall, 2-1) on Thanksgiving Day, the Tigers (5-4, 2-1) can clinch a Division 3 playoff berth, the first step to securing a return trip to Gillette.
“The trip was motivational,’’ said OA senior captain Brian Rezendes.
“We knew that it was our goal to play at Gillette, more specifically the seniors’ goal. But bringing everyone, including the underclassmen, was a great idea. Now we all have the same goal.’’
With OA (24-14, over Stoughton) and Sharon (21-7, over Foxborough) each posting wins last weekend, the playoff picture tightened up in the Davenport Division. Stoughton (5-5, 2-1) advances with a win over Canton, coupled with an Oliver Ames loss. OA is in with a win. If both OA and Stoughton lose, Sharon is in.
Full of energy, the determined Tigers rallied from a 7-3 halftime deficit for their win over Stoughton.
“We’re one of the better-conditioned teams. We don’t usually get that tired in the fourth quarter,’’ said Rezendes, a 6-foot, 215-pound linebacker.
In the offseason, a number of the players spent most days in the gym, as well as participating in a passing league, and 7-on-7 tournaments.
“We wouldn’t get away with anything if the kids didn’t put in the work in the offseason,’’ said Oliver Ames coach Jim Artz. “The senior group has been fantastic doing the extra stuff.’’
The Tigers put their conditioning on display against Stoughton, scoring touchdowns on three consecutive possessions at the start of the second half.
Quarterback Jared Schneider scampered 30 yards for the first touchdown. Then defensive back Ryan St. Clair picked off a pass and returned the interception to the 14, setting up a 4-yard scoring run for Schneider and a 17-7 lead.
“That’s football. Fortunately for us, we made a point of winning the turnover battle and put pressure on them,’’ said Artz.
In the fourth quarter, OA ate up nine minutes on the clock, with Schneider connecting with Nick Hutchinson for a 4-yard scoring pass.
“It feels amazing to win,’’ said the 5-11, 175-pound Schneider. “It’s a big rivalry.
“It was important to win that game. We had to for our hopes to stay alive. It was do or die and we stepped up to the challenge. It feels great to get that win.’’
The loss was stunning for Stoughton.
“I thought we played OK but not good enough,’’ said coach Greg Burke. “We didn’t move the ball. We didn’t stop them. We made some mess-ups on defense that you can’t mess up.’’
The Black Knights won three of their first four games, including an 8-0 win over defending Division 2 champion Mansfield in Week 3, but have lost three of their last four.
Burke said the loss to OA was hard to swallow. “Its tough,’’ he said. “It’s the one we really wanted. It would’ve put us in, but we played hard. We got one left. They have to win it, and we have to win it. Hopefully, good things happen on that.’’
Rezendes likes that fact that the Thanksgiving Day game is do-or-die.
“It makes it much more intense and makes the win way better, but the loss harder,’’ he said. “We work hard so it feels good finally having a winning season and having a chance to play in December.
“Our team has played better with our backs against the wall. We play better when we have to win.’’
Artz said he is focused solely on his team’s preparation.
“Sharon’s a good team, we’re going to prepare for them,’’ he said. “Our only concern is ourselves and what we do best. We have to play our best football and not turn the ball over and whatever happens, happens.’’
Pass puts Pembroke on path to first crown
Pembroke (9-0, 4-0) sailed by Scituate, 32-23, to claim its first Patriot Fisher title. Senior QB Luke Nagel threw a pair of touchdown passes, including a 98-yarder to Cullan Fitzgerald at the start of the fourth quarter.
“Luke’s long pass was a game changer. It helped us win the championship,’’ said coach Bob Bancroft. “It’s the kids’ first championship. They are very excited. It was pretty electric there Friday night.’’
The Titans have the opportunity to go undefeated for the first time if they take down Silver Lake on Thanksgiving
‘Go-to’ guy Hanley leads Walpole to Herget title
Walpole secured the Bay State Herget crown with a 16-13 win over Natick.
Senior Craig Hanley was stellar, never leaving the field.
Coach Barry Greener said Hanley has been his “go-to man’’ this season along with Shane Blass.
“We’ve had issues this year. We’ve lost a couple of great kids. But when one guy went down, another stepped up.’’
Walpole lost star running back Mike Rando to a knee injury in the first game of the season and defensive back CamHanley at midseason. “Losing those guys took a big punch out of us but we’ve had the depth,’’ said Rando.
The Rebels (9-1) face Weymouth on Thanksgiving Day.
Colleen Casey can be reached at email@example.com.