Everett shows off the latest link in its chain of command
LOWELL - It is never about just one football game at Everett. There have been too many years of excellence to possibly isolate just one play, one game, one season. When you have won 88 games and lost just four in the 21st century, it's no wonder your players feel an obligation to keep on winning.
"We take it very seriously," explained linebacker Brian Nuzzo. "My brothers played here. My father played here. My grandfather played here. I understand what this is about."
Last night at Cawley Stadium, it was about the same thing it has been for 11 of the past 12 seasons: getting to the Division 1 Super Bowl. Everett punched its ticket by trouncing BC High, 26-6.
It was a thorough beating, administered by an offense that seemingly scored at will in the first half and a defense that simply would not give BC High's offense any chance to establish itself.
Everett coach John DiBiaso Jr. said the goal from the beginning of training camp was to earn a trip to Gillette Stadium, where his team will play Dartmouth Saturday in hopes of snagging a seventh Super Bowl crown in 12 years.
Yet the Crimson Tide will be playing without one of their most loyal fans in attendance. Everett alumnus Arnie Boardman, who according to DiBiaso rarely if ever misses a game, was not present at Cawley Stadium in Lowell last night, either. Boardman, who is 80, is battling some serious health issues and will undergo surgery tomorrow.
His condition has weighed heavily on the coach, who has committed the history of his program to memory. DiBiaso will rattle off that Boardman was a member of the 1945 Everett state championship team whose exploits earned it a cameo appearance in Look magazine. He will point out Boardman is the author of a book on the history of Everett football.
And his players will identify Boardman as the kindly gentleman who faithfully drove down from his home in New Hampshire to each and every game.
In an emotional pregame talk with his team, DiBiaso mentioned Boardman's illness, and asked his players to keep him in their prayers. Then he asked them to go out and play for all of the Everett football players, as far back as Boardman and as current as the players on this roster.
"It's the first time I've ever mentioned something like that," DiBiaso confessed. "I normally try not to dwell on those things. But Arnie has been such a huge part of our program. I want him to know we're thinking of him. I want him to know we're pulling for him."
Had Arnie made the trip to Lowell, he would have barely settled in before Boston College-bound running back Isaac Johnson broke free for a 47-yard scamper that gave Everett a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. Johnson struck again when the Crimson Tide regained possession at midfield, this time scampering in from 2 yards.
By halftime, Johnson had rushed for three touchdowns, and his team had vaulted in front, 26-0. Johnson now has 26 touchdowns on the season, and well over 2,300 yards rushing.
"He's one of the best ones we've had," lauded DiBiaso. "We've had many, many kids come up big in Super Bowls over the years, and now it's Isaac's turn. That way, 15 or 20 years from now, when we come back and watch a kid put in a great performance, we can compare him to Isaac."
The only thing more impressive than the Crimson Tide's offense was their dominating defense, which repeatedly thwarted any momentum BC High tried to muster. At halftime, the Eagles had amassed just 23 total yards against a defense anchored by, among others, Nuzzo, senior Patrick McGrath, and Mike LaRochelle.
They repeatedly hit the BC backs behind the line of scrimmage and prevented them from establishing any momentum. BC High quarterback Billy Kiley was under pressure throughout, and was picked off by Justin Spinelli early in the game to set up a Johnson score.
"It was almost like we knew every single play out there before it happened," Nuzzo said. "Our coaches prepare us so well. There are never any surprises."
BC High ventured into Everett territory only once - during a 72-yard drive that ate up 10:52 of the clock and finally enabled the Eagles to get on the board with a 5-yard pass from Kiley to Tom Conley. By then, there was less than seven minutes to play, and the Crimson Tide simply controlled the line of scrimmage and ran out of the clock.
Asked which side of the ball Everett dominated more, Johnson replied, "Both."
"We've worked really hard to get to this point," he said. "And we outworked them today."
The Crimson Tide, who have won 24 consecutive games, are still not done. They will not rest until they win another Super Bowl, for Arnie Boardman and every other Everett alumnus who has established a legacy of excellence, to be shared by each and every generation.
Jackie MacMullan can be reached at email@example.com
Everett perfectly efficient
By Rob Greenfield, Globe Correspondent
LOWELL - Everett didn't punt and BC High didn't have a play from scrimmage on Everett's side of the field until the third quarter.
Add BC High to Everett's hit list, as the Crimson Tide continued their perfect season by stomping the Eagles (the only other undefeated team in Division 1 before last night), 26-6, in the EMass semifinals at Cawley Stadium.
"The kids played well," Everett coach John DiBiaso said. "They worked hard to prepare for the game."
Everett's star running back, Isaac Johnson, had 11 carries for 94 yards and three touchdowns, boosting his season total to 26.
The Crimson Tide, who scored all their points in the first half, will face Dartmouth in the Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
DiBiaso and his plethora of talent were slated to meet their match when the Eagles, who romped through their 11-game regular-season schedule, faced their Greater Boston League counterparts for just the second time in 31 years.
But it was Everett's game from the opening drive, when Johnson scored on the third play from scrimmage on a third and 3 from BC High's 47. Igor Garcia added the extra point for the 7-0 lead, and the Crimson Tide dealt plenty more damage before the half.
The Eagles nearly had Everett (12-0) stopped on its second drive when the Crimson Tide faced a third and 13 at their 47. But quarterback Joe Conti made an across-the-body throw to tight end Joe Baldacchino on a play-action rollout for an 18-yard gain, and Johnson scored from the 3 after Conti completed a 31-yard pass to Jesus Crawford on fourth and 10 from the 35.
Leading, 14-0, Everett continued the onslaught when Justin Spinelli picked off Billy Kiley on second and 10 from the BC High 38 and returned the ball to the 28. Johnson punched it in from the 1 at the 8:08 mark of the second quarter, and after a botched extra point, the Crimson Tide held a 20-0 lead with no signs of slowing.
Quarterback J.W. Forte put the exclamation point on Everett's first half when he took a punt return up the gut for a 64-yard touchdown with 4:33 left. And after another failed extra point, the Crimson Tide led, 26-0, at the half.
For BC High, which relies on the run, deficits of that magnitude are especially problematic because the clock becomes the enemy. The Eagles finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, but the 16-play, 72-yard drive - capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kiley to Tom Conley - ate up 8:07 when the Eagles were tight on time.
DiBiaso emphasized the importance of taking an early lead against a run-oriented team.
"It was very important to come out quick," DiBiaso said. "We wanted to score the first touchdown and sit on it. Thank God we won the toss. It was very important to get the first score."
The Crimson Tide's formidable defense stifled the Eagles' multifaceted running attack - led by Kyle Ewanouski, Brian Sullivan, and Mitch McClune - by getting into the backfield and putting early hits on the Eagles' tailbacks. BC High managed just 23 total yards in the first half.
Sylvia leads Indians
By Matt Foster, Globe Correspondent
BROCKTON - On a brisk fall night, Dartmouth quarterback Sean Sylvia and the Indians avenged last year's 15-14 loss with a 40-7 win over Brockton at Rocky Marciano Stadium.
The Indians will play Everett in the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium Saturday.
Sylvia threw for 143 yards and three touchdowns and had 10 carries for 61 yards and another touchdown to single-handedly take down the Boxers. Jordan Todman also scored for Dartmouth.
"I ran well and everyone did what they were supposed to do," Sylvia said. "We minimized mistakes and capitalized."
The Boxers made it easy for Dartmouth, compiling five fumbles and an interception, resulting in 20 points.
"Both of us made mistakes," said Dartmouth coach Lee Detera, "but we made fewer.
"We talked all week about shutting them down for 40 minutes and putting 40 on the scoreboard."
Todman started out slow, gaining just 47 yards on 10 carries in the first half. He rebounded and finished the game with 98 yards on 19 carries.
"It was a little rough in that first half," Todman said. "They keyed on me, but we threw some fakes and that allowed us to open the pass game."
Dartmouth took a 7-0 lead in the opening quarter after Sylvia hit Justin Mello on a post-route for the 15-yard score. Sylvia added the extra kick to finish the seven-play, 2-minute-7- second drive that started on the Brockton 34-yard line.
"We've been waiting to open Mello up all season," Detera said.
The Boxers capitalized on a Todman turnover at the start of the second quarter. Josh Marsh took the handoff to the left at the Dartmouth 28 and ran the distance for the touchdown. Bradley LaLanne added the extra point.
Dartmouth responded on the next possession, with Sylvia and Mello connecting again, this time a 32-yard catch to take the lead with 5:32 left in the first half.
Mello was pesky on defense, too, intercepting a Vaughn Askew pass and returning it to the Boxers' 20. Three plays later, Arthur Fontaine scored on a 15-yard pass from Sylvia, his 11th touchdown pass of the season, giving Dartmouth a 21-7 halftime lead.
After a Brockton three and out to start the second half, Dartmouth drove 73 yards on four plays to take a 28-7 lead on a 33-yard touchdown run by Sylvia.
After forcing Askew to fumble on the Brockton 21-yard line, Todman scored on a 5-yard run two plays later. Sylvia's extra-point attempt was blocked, and the Indians led, 34-7.
Owen Higham added the icing on the cake, intercepting Askew with 2:26 left and returning it 51 yards for the touchdown, sending Dartmouth to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1984.
"This is the biggest win in our history," Detera said. "I couldn't be more proud."
Poiriers do it all for Marshfield
By Monique Walker, Globe Staff
BROCKTON - The day Marshfield twins Brad and Luke Poirier were born, Ginny Silva happened to be in the delivery room as they were welcomed into the world.
Marshfield football coach Lou Silva remembers the night his wife, then a labor and delivery nurse, came home with a report about the twins.
"Lou, we just had a delivery, twin boys from Marshfield. Their dad is a former [Boston College] football player, and he says he can't wait for them to get to the high school," Silva recalled.
The baby boys are now seniors, and yesterday the brothers combined for 259 rushing yards as Marshfield defeated Weymouth, 21-0, in the Division 1A EMass semifinal at Brockton.
Brad Poirier scored all three touchdowns in the second half as the Rams earned a berth in the Super Bowl for the second year in a row (they lost last season to Wayland).
Marshfield will play Chelmsford Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
Last season, Marshfield handed Weymouth a 15-0 loss in the semifinal. The 2007 version of this rematch figured to be another low-scoring matchup as both teams struggled to create opportunities in the first half.
It took a Weymouth penalty in the third quarter to spark Marshfield, as it scored on three consecutive possessions.
A late hit against Weymouth in the third resulted in a 15-yard penalty that pushed Marshfield to the Weymouth 35-yard line with a new set of downs.
Brad Poirier broke free on the first play from scrimmage and sprinted 35 yards for the touchdown with 2:53 left in the quarter. Phil Whittaker's extra point gave the Rams a 7-0 lead.
"When you're given an inch, you want to take a mile," Silva said. "So that's what we were trying to do. We were given 15 yards, so let's see if we can take advantage of that and put it in the end zone."
Weymouth was faced with fourth and 1 from its 49-yard line on its next possession. The Wildcats went for it, but quarterback Jake Harrison was stopped by the Marshfield defense a yard short.
Marshfield took over and four plays later Brad Poirier crossed the goal line again from 10 yards out.
The Rams' defense returned to the field and after seven plays forced Weymouth to punt from its 17. Marshfield again benefited from good field position as it took over on its 39.
Two plays later, Luke Poirier broke away with a 43-yard run that was stopped 3 yards short of the end zone. A penalty forced the Rams to the Weymouth 10, but Brad Poirier needed one carry to get the ball in the end zone for his third TD of the night.
Weymouth was unable to mount much of a comeback. Its leading scorer, tailback Royce Terrell, second in Division 1A with 18 touchdowns, was hampered by an ankle injury. He had five carries for 15 yards. Senior Michael Waithe led the Wildcats with 51 yards rushing on 11 carries.
When Weymouth was unable to run, it attempted to throw, but when Harrison dropped back he was sent scrambling as the defense chased him down.
"Our defense stepped it up," Brad Poirier said.
Now Marshfield gets another shot in the Super Bowl, and the players are eager for their opportunity to play on a professional field.
"Being able to go to Gillette, that's amazing," Luke Poirier said. "That's a chance of a lifetime"
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelmsford plays it Smart
By Ricky Popolizio, Globe Correspondent
WAYLAND - No way was Chris Smart going to miss this time.
Smart, who had just sent the potential game-winning extra point wide one minute before, lined up a 36-yard field goal attempt with a little more than three seconds left.
Then, before a huge crowd, the co-MVP of the Merrimack Valley League sent the ball through the uprights, sending Chelmsford to a 23-20 victory over Wayland in the Division 1A EMass playoffs and a Super Bowl showdown with Marshfield at Gillette Stadium.
The kick left Wayland and its home crowd stunned; Wayland had the lead for almost the entire game. The Lions trailed since Wayland's opening possession and were down, 17-0, at halftime.
Smart helped complete what his teammate and co-MVP started. Quarterback Tim Rich threw three touchdown passes in the second half, including two in the fourth quarter, setting up Smart's last-second opportunity.
From Wayland's first offensive possession, the Warriors looked like the preeminent Division 1A power that had two convincing playoff victories to win the Super Bowl a season ago.
After the Lions' opening drive stalled, Wayland's leading scorer, senior captain Brian Flynn, broke off a 44-yard run to the Chelmsford 27. Flynn took the ball to the 1-yard line on second down. The Lions made a brief stand, stopping Flynn and sophomore quarterback Jeff Brewington. On third down, senior Mike Mitchell bounced in from 2 yards for his first touchdown of the game.
Chelmsford went three-and-out on its second go-around but was bailed out by senior Mike Murphy, who punted the ball away from the dangerous Mitchell down to the 12-yard line.
But on the next play, Mitchell broke loose down the left sideline 88 yards to the end zone. Brian Harvey added his first of two field goals right before halftime, giving the Warriors a seemingly insurmountable 17-0 lead at the break.
Improv act lifts Bp. Feehan
By Danny Picard, Globe Correspondent
ACTON-BOXBORO - It's not often a botched snap actually helps your cause. But in Bishop Feehan's case, it led to a 2-point conversion that turned out to be the difference in a 23-21 win over Mansfield in the Division 2 EMass semifinals yesterday.
Bishop Feehan (9-2-1) jumped on the back of senior running back Nicholas Schwieger and scored 23 consecutive points after falling behind, 14-0, in the first half. Mansfield (10-2) used a 12-play, two-minute drive to cut it to 23-21 with just 29 seconds left in the game. But Mark Gilson's 8-yard touchdown pass to David Westhaver, combined with the extra point, wasn't quite enough.
Bishop Feehan recovered the onside kick, clinching a berth in Saturday's Division 2 Super Bowl.
"Nobody thought we could do it," said Schwieger.
Schwieger's third rushing touchdown gave Bishop Feehan a 21-14 lead with 2:49 remaining in the fourth quarter. He was the holder on the extra-point attempt, but a bad snap made for a broken play.
"It was kind of a high snap," he said. "I just didn't think I'd be able to get the ball down, so my first instinct was to run. I spun behind me and I made a 'Green' call, which is a broken play, and I saw one of my wingbacks had broken free.
"I had a guy right in my face, so I just heaved it up there, and my boy came down with it."
His boy, as Schwieger called him, was junior Daniel Effler, who came down with the cross-field prayer after it was tipped by Mansfield defender Kristen Rogers.
Schwieger ran for 96 yards on 27 carries. His 76 yards and two touchdowns in the second half were instrumental in the win.
"Without horses, you can't run the race," said Bishop Feehan coach Tony Wood. "Nick is a phenomenal competitor. He doesn't go down with the first tackler, and he just makes plays.
"There were a couple of times I turned around and thought he was tackled, but he was still running. That's just Nick being Nick."
"We believed, and our line believed," said Schwieger. "All the credit goes to them. They helped me find some holes, and it just went from there."
The turning point came when Mansfield running back Powell Simpson fumbled inside his 30 on his team's second play of the second half. Eight plays later, Schwieger pounded it into the end zone on third and goal, and the extra point gave Bishop Feehan a 15-14 lead.
Junior Mathew Boulter intercepted a Gilson pass on the next possession, leading to Bishop Feehan's decisive score.
"[Turnovers] are the biggest stat in football at any level," said Wood. "They were just at opportune times."
Mansfield jumped to a 14-0 lead by scoring on its first two possessions. All three of Gilson's first-half completions were to Simpson, for a combined 71 yards. But it was senior running back Michael Morrill who finished the first two drives with spectacular touchdown runs.
Morrill capped an eight-play, four-minute opening drive with a 14-yard run that included a vicious cutback to the inside. His second touchdown came on a 26-yard run just 1:40 into the second quarter. Mansfield went for it on fourth and 1, and Morrill cut it up the middle for the score. He finished the game with 73 yards on eight carries.
Bishop Feehan went into the half trailing, 14-8, after Mansfield's Curtis Graham missed on a 42-yard field goal attempt with 1:08 to play.
Schwieger scored his first touchdown with 3:47 remaining in the second quarter, a 2-yard run on fourth and goal. He also took a direct snap and ran into the end zone untouched for the 2-point conversion.
"At halftime, we just said, 'Let's D up,' because they were doing whatever they wanted," said Schwieger. "This was our game. We believed that we could do this."
Walpole's Hickey picks a fine time to make plays
By Julian Benbow, Globe Staff
ACTON - Walpole cornerback Billy Hickey was just watching the feet, waiting for the receiver and the momentum to turn.
He was waiting for Melrose's Michael Fimiani to hitch. The ball, he figured, would be there.
When it came, courtesy of Melrose quarterback Dale Parsons, Hickey let his chest gobble it up, and then he ran 23 yards to the end zone.
"It's one of those things you dream about," said Hickey, the Rebels' senior cornerback and captain.
It was one of two interceptions by Hickey, the first and biggest play in what went from 3-point lead to 16-point rout.
Walpole's 30-14 win over Melrose in the EMass Division 2 semifinals last night sent it to the Super Bowl Saturday. The Rebels will meet Bishop Feehan at Gillette Stadium, and they can thank Hickey for setting up the date.
"He's got the biggest heart in the world," said coach Danny Villa. "I've had the kid for three years, and each year he just keeps getting better. His leadership this year was absolutely phenomenal."
Hickey's first interception was a rally killer, and then he hawked a ball on the next possession that sustained the Rebels' momentum.
A play after the second pick, Walpole running back Ryan Izzo slipped through the defense for 37 yards down to the 16, then ate the rest of the yards for his second touchdown of the game.
Izzo, just a sophomore, ran for 205 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
"He's a stud," said Hickey, one of Walpole's few seniors.
Before the season, Hickey was charged with taking the sophomores under his wing. Looking at Izzo's performance, he said they made it easy.
"Some of the stuff he does I can't even believe," Hickey said. "He's 15 years old."
As big as Izzo's touchdown runs were, his field goal at the end of the first half was critical, with Melrose having cut into a 14-0 lead with a 3-yard scoring run by Jack Pizzotti. Izzo's kick made it 17-7 at the half.
"It's points," said Villa. "It's better getting 3 than [none]. It still gave us the confidence that we were able to keep plugging away and know that if we keep playing we know we're going to be all right."
Melrose made it 17-14 on a 32-yard run by Ryan Webster, but momentum, of course, is fickle.
After Walpole went three-and-out the next possession, Parsons dropped back. "The kid made a hell of a break on the ball," said Red Raiders coach Tim Morris of Hickey's INT.
"You play to win," said Morris. "It's not the result you want. These are great high school kids that come out and play hard every day. We're all going to get up tomorrow. I said we're Middlesex [League] champions. Nobody thought you'd be in this game back in August. You've accomplished a lot."
Still, every so often, his eyes wandered. He would glance briefly but intently at the other end of the field, where Walpole's huddle was large and loud, where Villa raved about the cornerback he'd coached for years, where that cornerback clutched the game ball like the interceptions and held it tightly all the way to the team bus.
Fishermen not caught
By Matt Porter, Globe Correspondent
LOWELL - They spent summer mornings pounding the sand at Good Harbor Beach. They spent fall afternoons grinding up the sod at Newell Stadium. And they spent last week tuning up on the turf at Endicott College.
All the training paid off, because last night, the Gloucester Fishermen ran up and down the turf at Cawley Stadium.
From the moment Andrew Fulford took the opening kickoff all the way to the 9-yard line, Gloucester dominated. Fulford and his running mates breezed through mile-wide gaps, defensive linemen Anthony Enderle and Adam Quinn terrorized the opposition's backfield, and after three quarters, the Gloucester starters celebrated on the sideline.
The Fishermen advanced to their first Super Bowl since 2000, destroying Masconomet, 39-0, in a Division 2A EMass semifinal.
It would be easy to name Fulford the star. After all, the senior scored five touchdowns, carrying 12 times for 119 yards. But the reason for all that running room was the offensive line, which helped the Fishermen gain 247 yards in the first half alone.
"One of the linemen could have been running through those holes," said Fulford. "It was unreal. They don't get enough credit, but without those holes I wouldn't be running anywhere."
"We were just determined," said senior captain Mario Peritore, part of the Fishermen's offensive wall along with Adam Quinn, Sal Taormina, Rob Lowe, and Dylan Morrissey. "They were bigger than us, but we played so hard. There was no way they'd be able to stop us today."
After Fulford's 76-yard return got things started, the senior scored his 30th touchdown of the season at 8:13 of the first.
On third and 4 from the Masco 36, Enderle and Quinn sacked Chris Splinter for a 3-yard loss, forcing the Chieftains to punt. But the snap went over Kevin Anderson's head, and when he recovered for a loss of 11 yards it set Gloucester up at the Masco 22.
The Fishermen were called for a 15-yard personal foul, and Rich Gallant, trying to make a play on first and 25, was sacked by Eli Vollmer. But on third and 23 from the Masco 35, Gallant found tight end Cam Marston for a gain of 29. Fulford punched it in to put Gloucester ahead, 12-0.
Masco's Evan Bunker returned John Celata's kick 51 yards to the Gloucester 31, but dropped passes on third and fourth downs put the ball back in the Fishermen's hands. The Chieftains forced a fumble to grab it back, but on third and 18, Marston and Enderle blew past their blockers and planted Splinter to the turf.
After the punt, the Fishermen went 87 yards in three minutes. Fulford and Brian Harnish (6 carries, 100 yards) ripped off gains of 15 and 26 yards, then Fulford hit paydirt from 6 yards out.
Masco again punted again, and it took the Fishermen just over two minutes to go 45 yards. Fulford put his team ahead, 24-0, with a 5-yard run.
Splinter's first completion of the day was a 30-yard gain to Dom Bavaro, but when he tried to hit Bavaro again, Taylor Burbine picked off the pass.
Splinter came back to intercept a pass intended for Burbine. But Gloucester's defense dominated again, as Quinn cut through the Chieftains to drop Splinter in the backfield. Masco then tried a reverse but fumbled, and Gloucester recovered to end the half.
The Fishermen put it away quickly in the second half. Fulford put home his fifth score, and Burbine ran for 43 yards and the score on the next drive.
"A complete football game," said Gloucester coach Paul Ingram. "We put a lot of pressure on them, and we're quick. We're quick and physical."
Hingham gets past Seekonk - by a foot
By Chris Estrada, Globe Correspondent
NEW BEDFORD - Hingham senior kicker Mike Egen had been waiting a long time for this moment - two years, by his count.
With 38 seconds left and a trip to the Division 2A Super Bowl on the line, Egen made his time in the spotlight count. Though his 26-yard field goal attempt was tipped by a Seekonk defender, the ball still went through the uprights, as the Harbormen pulled out a 10-7 victory in last night's division semifinal.
Hingham (11-1) will face Gloucester in the Division 2A Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
The Warriors had one last chance, but defensive end Matt Cawley's game-ending sack made sure Egen's field goal would stand up.
"I was ready for it," said Egen. "My coaches said it would eventually come down to a field goal. I just did what I was taught to do."
It was a night of great defensive performances by both sides. Hingham star running back Chris Constantine (13 carries, 24 yards) was swarmed by the top-ranked Warrior defense, and the Harbormen returned the favor against Seekonk's Chris Hanoian (14 carries, 68 yards).
But Constantine would play a role in Hingham's victory, catching a shovel pass for 9 yards to keep the winning drive alive with less than four minutes to play.
Hingham coach Paul Killinger said his opponent's defense played as advertised.
"They have an outstanding defense," he said. "They're quick as cats. They are a great defensive team and they swarmed to the ball quickly.
"We ended up changing some of our basic blocking schemes and they still did pretty well."
"As the game went on, it became apparent it was a defensive battle," said Seekonk coach Dave Morgado. "It came down to a lot of little things, and they did more of the little things than we did.
"I thought it was a great game between two teams that didn't make any mistakes. A call here or a block there and it could have gone the other way.
Seekonk took a 7-0 lead with 43 seconds left in the half when Hanoian rumbled in for a 4-yard touchdown.
But Hingham marched back down the field, and with the help of a 27-yard pass from quarterback Pat McAulay to receiver Mike Murphy, they found themselves at the Seekonk 4.
On second and goal from the 2, Constantine scored as the half expired.
Despite the loss, Morgado was happy with his team's effort and season, which he deemed "magical."
"It was just a great season, and I had a great group of kids," he said.
"They finally believe they can win football games."
A return ticket for Medfield
By Pat Ouellette, Globe Correspondent
EASTON - Medfield's Drew Donnelly was at the Patriots game Sunday night at Gillette Stadium with teammate Peter Gumas, and they talked about the possibility of coming back Saturday to play for their second straight Division 3 Super Bowl title.
Thanks in part to Donnelly's 80 yards rushing and a pair of interceptions, he will be making that return trip to Foxborough after the Warriors topped Abington in the EMass playoff semifinals for the second consecutive year, 12-8.
Medfield coach Mike Slason said Donnelly was the difference-maker for his team.
"Drew was phenomenal," Slason said. "He did everything for us in making an impact on both sides of the ball."
As expected, it was a defensive battle and yards were hard to come by. Medfield's longest drive (13 plays) was stopped on the Abington 34-yard line in the first quarter and the tone of the game was set.
"I thought coming in both our defenses were comparable and early on realized it would be a low-scoring contest," Slason said.
The Warriors took a 6-0 lead with 0:55 before halftime when Donnelly, after rumbling down the sideline for a 19-yard completion, ran the ball in from 7 yards.
Donnelly kept the chains moving for Medfield on its first drive of the second half when he blew past the Abington linebackers on a sweep for a 30-yard score with 5:31 remaining in the third.
The Abington offense, which was stagnant in the first half, came alive in the second half when sophomore Kristian LaPointe (86 rushing yards total) gashed the Warrior defense for 62 yards rushing and three catches for 39 yards.
LaPointe led the Green Wave to their only score when he rushed 5 yards to cut the Medfield lead to 12-8 after Mel DeYulus ran in the 2-point conversion.
"Every time Kristian touched the ball tonight, their defense had to be concerned," Abington coach Jim Kelliher said. "He was awesome tonight."
Donnelly took almost three minutes off the clock for the Warriors by gaining 26 yards on the ground during a drive that took the clock down to the four-minute mark. Abington's defense gave its offense a chance when it stopped Medfield quarterback Luke Swain on consecutive keepers inches short of a first down.
The resulting Abington possession produced the only blemish on LaPointe's day when he fumbled on the Medfield 46 with just over three minutes remaining.
Defensive back Patrick McClay recovered the miscue and Medfield used a 45-yard punt to pin the Green Wave on their 8-yard line. Donnelly ended the Green Wave's final scoring threat when he picked off quarterback Steve Perakslis on the Medfield 25.
"That was a real opportunistic play by Pat," Slason said. "They were driving and we were able to force a turnover in a key situation."
Slason took particular pleasure in heading back to consecutive championship games.
"Obviously we needed a few breaks to fall our way to get here but I'm thrilled for these kids and how well they played tonight," he said.
Despite the tight loss, Kelliher was proud of the way his young team played.
"We made some mistakes but we made up for them with some solid play and almost pulled this one out," he said. "It came down to who had the ball last and we came up just short."
By Sarina Mathai, Globe Correspondent
ARLINGTON - Swampscott came in boasting a high-octane offense known for its relentless aerial assault, led by senior quarterback Peter Kinchley. However, it was its defense and a tough running game that helped it defeat Arlington Catholic, 33-7, in a Division 3 EMass playoff semifinal last night.
Swampscott will face Medfield Saturday in the Super Bowl.
Initially, both defenses were causing problems as neither team could score in the first quarter. Swampscott forced an Arlington Catholic fumble - which AC recovered - in the opening minutes. In turn, the AC defense would not allow Kinchley to get into any sort of rhythm, as he did not complete a pass in his first eight attempts. In fact, his first completion - for a 1-yard loss - came late in the second quarter.
Kinchley's numbers at the half were a far cry from what the Big Blue usually expects from him: three completions in 11 attempts, 45 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Still, Kinchley scored the first touchdown of the game with a 9-yard rush in the second quarter to make it 6-0 (Matt Barbuzzi's PAT attempt was blocked).
Swampscott coach Steve Dembowski was not alarmed by Kinchley's play. "Peter audibled a lot of plays at the line and put us in the right place to impact the defense," he said. "He's just so smart. He's such a winner."
With neither team shining, Justin Mitchell finally stepped up and jumped over several Arlington Catholic defenders to make an improbable TD catch on a 33-yard pass from Kinchley. Barbuzzi's kick made it 13-0 at the half and Swampscott never looked back.
"It was a huge play because we were going to get the ball again [at the start of the second half]," said Dembowski. "We went 90 yards and scored and then we get the ball back in the second half again - we get the momentum there."
Dembowski utilized his running game in the second half, led by junior Ilya Levin and sophomore Kyle Shonio.
"The [offensive] line did a great job and opened up holes and made it really easy," said Shonio.
"Our backs this year are all underclassmen and their development has been the key," said Dembowski. "You've got to credit the wide receivers, too. They blocked, and if you give our backs the open field on this surface, they're going to make the plays."
The Big Blue defense was stingy in the red zone, four times stopping the Cougars in Swampscott territory.
It became the Levin and Shonio show in the fourth quarter as Levin rushed for two touchdowns to increase the margin to 27-0. Levin ended up with 142 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns.
After AC scored on a Derek Harmon 18-yard pass from Spencer to make it 27-7, the Cougars went for the onside kick, which was recovered by Swampscott. Shonio ran in from 49 yards for the final touchdown.
Reggies carry the day
By Dan Hickling, Globe Correspondent
ARLINGTON - It was an exhausting night's work by anyone's standard, but after rushing for 227 yards and three touchdowns yesterday, Nate Adames didn't look fatigued in the least.
Didn't feel it, either. Not after leading Greater Lawrence to a 19-16 triumph over Amesbury in the EMass semifinals and a berth in Saturday's Division 3A Super Bowl.
"I feel good," said the Reggies' slim, slick senior tailback, who looked no worse for the wear for having lugged the ball 35 times. "I feel like I could play two more quarters."
Make that four more, in the big-time environs of Gillette Stadium, no less.
Such are the rewards for hauling the Reggies on his slender shoulders past a plucky Amesbury squad.
"It means a lot, because we've been working hard since our freshman year," said Adames. "We went from undefeated to 1-10 to 5-6. Now we're 11-1 and going to the Super Bowl."
Senior guard Rogers Benconsme, who helped blast open big holes for Adames, shared his joy.
"We're a family," Benconsme said. "We stuck together, through and through. No matter how far down we were, we always came back."
Still, getting past Amesbury, which finished 5-6, was no easy trick.
It wasn't until a last-ditch 32-yard field goal attempt by Jameson Wheeler slid wide that the Reggies allowed themselves to breathe easily.
"Absolutely," said Greater Lawrence coach Tony Sarkis. "Every one of [our] guys did something to make that kick go to the left, a little. Thank God."
The upset-minded Indians surprised Greater Lawrence by jumping out to a 7-0 lead, which they increased to 16-7 by halftime.
Amesbury took the opening kickoff and marched 67 yards on 10 plays behind quarterback Jared Flannigan.
On the drive, Flannigan picked up a crucial first down with a 6-yard scamper on fourth and 5 at the 23. Two plays later, Flannigan capped the drive with a 17-yard burst up the middle.
Greater Lawrence answered with a tying touchdown on its first possession. Adames carried the ball on nine straight plays, then finished the drive from the 1 by hurtling over the goal line.
"If we [offensive line] can do our job, then he can do his," said Benconsme.
Amesbury promptly regained the lead on a 1-yard plunge by Marion Wilder. Wilder had set up the score a play earlier with a 40-yard sprint down the right sideline.
Wheeler's extra point try was blocked, but with 3:42 left in the half, he booted a 31-yard field goal to increase the lead to 9.
But for Amesbury, that was as good as it would get . . . Adames saw to that personally.
After the Reggies took the second-half kickoff, Adames churned out 68 more yards on eight carries, and scored from the 7 to cut the lead to 16-13.
"We were going to give it to Nate every play," said Sarkis. "We were going to jam it down [their] throat."
Said Adames, "We just ran our regular offense. I ran the ball."
With momentum already firmly on its side, Greater Lawrence finally grabbed the lead on the second play of the final quarter, with Adames scoring again from the 7.
"I knew they were going to score again," said Amesbury coach Thom Connors. "I figured they'd score and we'd have to come back and score."
The Indians nearly did just that in the waning minutes, as Flannigan led them to the Reggies' 14 with 2:31 to play.
Their hopes died with 1:57 remaining, when Wheeler's kick curled outside the left upright.
"It's the greatest feeling of my life," said Benconsme. "It's the one thing we've always wanted, and we finally got it."
Brown's last-second tackle saves Eastie
By Corey Allen, Globe Correspondent
EASTON -- East Boston coach John Sousa always tells his team defense wins championships, and Frank Brown buys it.
Having scored two touchdowns and rushed for 219 yards, Brown made his biggest contribution on the other side of the ball. His tackle with no time left sealed East Boston's 38-34 Division 3A semifinal win over Blue Hills last night at Stonehill College.
"Defense wins championships," exclaimed senior quarterback Chris Dos Santos. "This wasn't going to be our last game of playing together, so we had to win."
East Boston (12-0) scored 20 points in the last quarter to advance to the Super Bowl Saturday against Greater Lawrence at Gillette Stadium.
Down, 34-32, and having just scored 12 straight points, East Boston was facing third and 2 from the Blue Hills 31 with just over a minute remaining. A botched snap to Dos Santos and a strong rush and batted pass by defensive tackle Mike Cavanagh put Eastie back at the 39 facing fourth and 10.
According to Sousa, the ensuing screen pass up the right sideline that netted the Jets a touchdown was supposed to have gone to the fullback, Ricky Rickerson, but in crunch time, the best plays aren't necessarily the ones drawn up on blackboards.
"We have been practicing it with Rickerson, but Tyrone Figueroa [23 carries, 216 yards] found the open spot," said Sousa. "He caught it, broke a few tackles . . . I don't even know how he scored, but he did."
A Figueroa rush failed on the conversion, leaving Eastie ahead, 38-34, with 30 seconds left.
But Blue Hills is not called the Warriors for no reason.
Mike Mora returned a Carlos Martinez kick 3 yards before he was stopped at the Blue Hills 37. Coach Vin Hickey went right to his bread-and-butter back, captain Jerry Nelson (210 rushing yards), who broke right and broke tackles, running for 22 yards to the East Boston 41. Although the Jets, and everyone else at W.B. Mason Stadium, probably guessed that Nelson would get the next call, he still managed to run left and find some open turf for a 25-yard gain to the Eastie 16.
With 10 seconds remaining, junior quarterback Brian Monahan threw to backup running back Ryan Mello, but didn't connect. With time for one more play, Monahan found Nelson open to his left and dumped the ball to him. Nelson avoided a tackle and made it to the 8, looking like he might go the distance. But safety Brown came up with his biggest stop of the year, igniting the Jets fans in the stands and deflating the Warriors' faithful.
"We tried to match them score for score," said Hickey, who is now retired from the classroom and the sideline. "And it was close. I'm sure it was a great game for the spectators and everyone else to watch, but it was hard [for us]. We ended up somewhere inside the 10 in under 30 seconds."
West Bridgewater defense is zeroed in
By David Carty, Globe Correspondent
NEW BEDFORD - West Bridgewater (10-1) moved another step closer to its second straight Division 4 championship with a 24-0 shutout of Pope John yesterday in an EMass semifinal.
Pope John (8-3) was averaging 40.3 points per game - thanks in large part to Brian Alessandro's division-best 24 touchdowns - but left with a zero on the board for the first time this season.
Early on, Pope John looked stronger and faster than the smaller Wildcats, winning many of the battles up front. The Tigers marched to the West Bridgewater 19-yard line before Frank Poste fumbled the ball away.
After a quick three-and-out by West Bridgewater, Pope John got right back to work, marching to the 26 in seven plays. The Wildcats managed a fourth-down stand, but it only seemed to delay an inevitable Pope John offensive attack.
After a 46-yard run by senior tailback Brian Flaherty, West Bridgewater turned the ball over on an interception by Pope John's Charles Aponte. Senior quarterback Matt Nunes's first pass attempt didn't go as planned.
"I was just getting a little nervous out there," said Nunes. "It happens."
To combat Pope John's potent offense, the Wildcats switched from a four- to a five-man front. Senior quarterback Brett Mayo responded by finding talented wideout Rey Torres for a 10-yard strike.
Pope John's balanced offense was working, but West Bridgewater coach Bill Panos had faith in his secondary.
"We put our best defender on [Torres] and he was on him like a mirror all day long," Panos said.
That best defender was senior Greg Pigeon, who picked off Mayo on his second pass attempt of the drive. No small accomplishment, given Torres's reputation.
"He kind of reminds me of a miniature Randy Moss," Panos said.
If Torres was Moss, Nunes was Peyton Manning, often reading the defense and changing the call at the line of scrimmage.
Nunes saw something that he liked.
"The outside was wide open," Nunes said. "They didn't have a corner. They didn't have anything out there to stop us."
West Bridgewater finished off a 12-play drive with a Nunes pass to Pigeon seconds before the end of the half. Flaherty (168 rushing yards) punched in the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
In the second half, West Bridgewater needed only seven plays to march downfield, and Pope John burned two timeouts during the drive. Nunes ran for two consecutive first-down runs on the drive and Flaherty finished it with a 8-yard touchdown run. Nunes connected with Ryan Webby for the conversion.
A deflated Pope John squad squandered its next chance by fumbling, and Nunes found fellow senior cocaptain Matt Harris in the corner of the end zone from 11 yards for the Wildcats' third touchdown. Nunes threw to Ryan Tartaglia to wrap up the scoring.
The Wildcats impressed even their coach with their defensive performance.
"I didn't think we would shut them out," Panos said. "I didn't even know we had as much speed as we have."
The journey may be even more exciting the second time around for West Bridgewater.
"You can't explain the feeling," Nunes said.
Lashley spearheads Brighton surge
By James Schneider, Globe Correspondent
WAYLAND - With the sun setting on the field and perhaps his senior season, Brighton quarterback Kameel Lashley came alive.
Rallying his team from a 7-6 halftime deficit, the 225-pound signal-caller took the game into his own hands, rushing for 133 yards and passing for 36 in the second half as the Bengals outscored the Hornets, 22-0, for a 28-7 victory in the EMass Division 4 semifinals yesterday at Wayland High School.
"Coach [James Philip] told me he wanted the ball in my hands," Lashley said. "He told me to make big plays."
Lashley's biggest play came with 44 seconds left in the third quarter at the Hornet 43. He rolled right to pass, but could find no open receiver. He tucked the ball away and, sprung by a blindside block, took off down the left sideline, running through arm tackles and into the end zone to give Brighton its first lead.
"He's tough to take down when he gets out in the open field, being such a big kid," Manchester Essex coach Mike Athanas said. "We just had a couple defensive breakdowns and paid for them."
Lashley increased the lead to 22-7 in the fourth quarter. Facing third and 11 on the Hornet 14, he took a quick drop and hit tight end Kariym Azeez with a pass up the middle for a touchdown with 5:05 left. The Bengals added a 2-yard touchdown run by Kevin DePina with 35 seconds left after recovering a fumble.
Brighton looked like a much different team after struggling to move the ball in the first half.
"We did [make some halftime adjustments]," said offensive coordinator Randolph Abraham. "They were loading 10 in the box on us, so we tried to slide Kariym Azeez out into the flats. We put them out in space, and Kameel has the option to run."
Lashley took full advantage of the extra room while following the lead blocks of his offensive line.
"I love my line, man," he said. "They're the heart and soul of our offense."
The Hornets, led by junior quarterback Pat Orlando, jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the first possession of the game. Orlando found Ben Kekeisen wide open on the left side of the end zone on third and 10 from the Brighton 17. Orlando threw for 66 yards on the drive.
But that would be his only successful series, as he was repeatedly pressured by an aggressive Brighton defense. The junior threw for just 39 yards the rest of the game, going 1 for 5 for no yards in the second half.
"We were having trouble blocking up; they were coming pretty good," Athanas said. "We tried some different ways to block those guys coming, but they're pretty fast defensively."
"We just spoke harshly to the men and asked them to give us a little more effort [on defense]," Philip said.
Lashley put the Bengals on the board 1:46 before halftime when he sneaked in from 1 yard out. He finished the game with 188 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Brighton will play West Bridgewater Saturday in the Super Bowl, a rematch of last year's 34-14 West Bridgewater victory.
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