Knights deflate Bulldogs
Northeast clinches Comm. Small
MIDDLETON — The Northeast Regional Knights play with swagger and purpose, deflating opponents with a stellar defense, spearheaded by a monstrous line.
The defending Division 4A champion Knights (9-2,4-0) clinched the Commonwealth Small crown for the second consecutive year, running over the host North Shore Bulldogs, 36-0, yesterday. The win gave the Knights a playoff berth and the chance to defend their title against the Catholic Central Small champion Nov. 30.
North Shore back Jesse Wilkins came into the game averaging 189 rushing yards per contest, and was closing in on 2,000 this season. But the Knights’ defensive line put an end to any thought of a milestone celebration, stifling Wilkins and holding him to 33 yards on the ground.
“We hit the sleds every day,’’ said Northeast coach Don Heres, after his defense manhandled one of the more powerful offensive attacks in Division 4A. “We try to be as physical as we can, and that’s the only brand of football we know. That’s all we know how to do.’’
The Knights also had a pretty good day on offense, moving the ball methodically on a nine-play opening drive, spanning nearly 80 yards. Once quarterback Donato Dipietrantonio marched the Knights to the 2-yard line, he finished the job, bursting into the end zone for a touchdown. Bobby Novello rushed in the 2-point conversion for an early 8-0 lead.
North Shore appeared to be in position to answer on the ensuing kickoff when Jazmanny Sanchez bolted 70 yards on the return, but a holding penalty canceled that score, and it was all downhill for the Bulldogs after that as they were forced to punt on their first drive.
Taking over from the 9, after a Bulldogs’ punt, the Knights’ offense continued to execute and dominate. Traveling 91 yards on 16 plays, Dipietrantonio capped the drive with a 16-yard scramble into the end zone off a fake handoff quarterback keeper. Dipietrantonio added the 2-point rush for a 16-0 Northeast lead early in the second quarter. Novello punched in a 6-yard TD rush on the ensuing drive after the Knights gambled with an onside kick and recovered it, increasing the lead to 22-0 at the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, Northeast continued to pile it on. The Knights received touchdown runs from Dipietrantonio, his third, and Jonathan Hughes late in the fourth to seal the win.
“Northeast played great,’’ said North Shore coach Paul Worth, after being denied the opportunity to join the playoff club. “They’re whole team was super. They beat us at the line of scrimmage, bottom line.’’