O’Bryant won a must-have, 8-6, league game over visiting Dorchester Friday, but clinching their fifth straight victory and standing atop Boston South doesn’t mean there still isn’t work to be done.
“We have to get a lot better,” said Tigers’ coach Kevin Gadson, who was pleased with tying Latin Academy for first-place in the league and inching closer to a playoff berth, but insists there’s room for improvement. “We have to practice better, hit harder, we have to block better and we have to tackle better.
“We won the game, but we weren’t sharp at all. We got to get more disciplined and take advantage of some of the opportunities we let get by. Last year we lost, 6-0, to them and this year we won, 8-6, so it was still a slug match, but we can and have to be much better.”
The usually offensively adept Tiger’s got the win, but it wasn’t in the prettiest fashion. Save for the 20-yard TD pass from quarterback Ajani Alfred-McFall to Brian Donna on their first drive, the game was filled with stop-and-go possessions that resulted in punts and two turnovers on downs. At the end of the first half, O’Bryant had accumulated just 53 total yards, most of which came on the touchdown pass.
Dorchester, who out gained the Tigers with 142 first-half yards, got their only score from a surprising contributor in middle linebacker Leon Sealy, who channeled his inner Mike Vrabel to haul in a 43-yard pass in the second quarter.
The win over the Bears left O’Bryant (5-0, 4-0) tied with Latin Academy (6-0, 4-0). The two teams will square off for the league title in two weeks. O’Bryant will faceoff with winless South Boston next week in a nonleague game. Latin Academy has a bye next week.
“All I know is we have South Boston next, and until then, we’re not worrying about Latin Academy,” said Gadson. “I’m happy for the guys, and they’re glad we won, but we’re not done yet.”
And although the game with Latin Academy is being pegged as a must-win for both O’Bryant and LA, a loss by either side does not mean missing out on the playoffs. The loser could still get into the MIAA postseason as the South’s second-place finisher. With eight teams out of 19 total from Division 6 North being picked up for the postseason, the loser has a playoff shot.
As for Dorchester (3-2, 2-2 in league), last year’s South champ, the Bears are out of contention after suffering their second league loss of the season (the first was to Latin Academy).
“[The league championship] will fall between LA and O’Bryant. We didn’t deserve it,” said Bears coach Rich Moran, who was visibly disappointed. “I told my guys before the game whoever makes the most mistakes will lose the game and we made the most mistakes.”
The most costly of all: an interception thrown by Demetrius Leary that was snagged by Ajani Alfred-McFall late in the fourth quarter as the Bears, who assumed control on their own 27 yard line two plays earlier after forcing a turnover on downs, were attempting to score the go-ahead touchdown.
“It felt great to get that game-winning interception because it secured our lead and guaranteed us a win,” said Alfred-McFall of the key defensive play, part of a second-half defensive performance that allowed just 12 total yards by Dorchester.
“Our defense is always bailing us out,” said Gadson. “Once we learn how to finish games, we’re really going to be something.”
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