A week after putting up 62 points against East Boston, Madison Park realized it was in the fight of its season right off the bat during what many dubbed the “unofficial city championship” against Dorchester Friday night.
“I realized the first hit, the first hit is always the hit that shows how real the game is going to be,” Madison Park junior running back Dawhensky Frederic said after the 16-14 loss at White Stadium. “And I realized everything is on the line now.”
The Cardinals (7-3) scored six rushing touchdowns against East Boston and averaged a city-high 23 points per game before meeting the undefeated Bears (10-0).
But Dorchester, whose defense only allowed a city-best 5.8 points per game going into Friday, held the Cardinals to just one rushing touchdown and just 9 yards rushing in the first half.
“They played good, they came hard, they came tough, they really played hard,” Madison Park coach and Dorchester alum Roosevelt Robinson said of the Bears' defense. “It was the city championship for sure. And they came to play.”
The winners of the Boston City League North and South divisions don’t meet for an official city championship game.
But even though the top team in the North (Madison Park) and the top team in the South (Dorchester) were meeting in the final regular season game before Thanksgiving, Dorchester coach Rich Moran downplayed the city championship billing because Madison Park plays in a higher division.
“We went to the [Madison Park-East Boston] game on Friday night and we saw them,” Moran said after the Madison Park victory. “Of course you get nervous when you see their size and you see their speed. But again I called [defensive] coach [Joe] Cain and I said ‘They are big and they are fast’ and he goes ‘We can beat them.’
“He’s just such a confident guy, very analytical, very on the ball and prepared. And he said ‘We can beat them’ and we did.”
In a night full of big hits and big stuffs in the backfield by the Bears, perhaps no defensive play was bigger than when Dorchester junior linebacker Trevaughn McCoy recovered Madison Park's fumble on its 9-yard line with 1:18 left to play. The play came just after Dorchester punted the ball away to the Cardinals.
“Before they snapped the ball coach told me ‘Trevaughn, blitz, blitz,’ so I shot the B gap,” McCoy said. “Once I saw the two running backs collide into each other I started to see the ball pop out and go out back toward the goal line and I ran over there and got it. When I got up I felt like nobody touched me so I turned around and kept running. I thought it was a touchdown but it wasn’t.
“Once I realized we had the game I wanted to get emotional or cry like I always want to do but I didn’t.”
McCoy, who also plays running back, also had a key third-down conversion with four minutes left in the game. Needing only five yards for the first down, McCoy looked as if he was going to be tackled for a loss before he exploded for a 7-yard gain.
“Usually I play fullback. I don’t usually play at the running back position but I felt like it was a big important thing to get the first down,” he said. “So when I got the ball I ran as hard as I could. I kept my head down and kept chugging.”
Those were the kinds of plays that Madison Park lacked all day as they finished the game with just 104 yards on the ground.
“We couldn’t get started today, we just didn’t get started,” Robinson said. “We had a slow start. We wanted to throw the ball. We had some opportunities but it didn’t work. Dorchester played really good. They played a tough game. We kind of knew what they were doing and they came through with it, so it was a grinding game.”
And Frederic, who only had 11 rushing yards, said he felt the force of the Bears' defense well beyond the first hit of the game.
“Shooting the gaps and shooting the gaps and shooting the gaps,” he said when asked to describe what Dorchester did to stop their run game. “It’s hard for the line to point out who they had when they are shooting the gaps and stuff.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Zolan Kanno-Youngs -- A former captain of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School football team and a current second-year Ujima Scholar at Northeastern University, Kanno-Youngs is the color commentator of the mens basketball team and a writer for Northeastern's campus newspaper, the Huntington News. He joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at KannoYoungs.Globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @KannoYoungs.