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Knights are Kings ... Division 2 state champs!

FOXBORO — Gabe DeSouza just stood speechless at the 30-yard-line.
North Andover teammates jumped and celebrated all around him. In the Gillette Stadium stands, fans donning scarlet and black yelled and hugged each other in pure joy.
But, despite all of the chaos around him, DeSouza just couldn’t find any words.
Mere moments prior, North Andover had just completed a perfect season by winning the Division 2 Super Bowl in front of approximately 9,000 fans, beating two-time defending champ King Philip, 6-0. The Knights (12-0) stood as tall, proud champions on the field Tom Brady calls home every Sunday.
Finally, torn between wanting to celebrate with his team or going to hug his mother in the stands, DeSouza finally found some words.
“This is crazy,” said DeSouza, head spinning before letting out a cry of joy. “I don’t even have words to describe this.
“You couldn’t have pictured a better story, like at all. You take out the two-time defending champs, you go 12-0, like what more could you ask for. Like, c’mon man!”
Fittingly, it was a Mike Roche sack which ended the game.
South champion King Philip (9-3) had one last gasp at the North Andover 36-yard-line with 6 seconds remaining and no timeouts. As QB Robert Jarest completed his drop, Roche was there to meet him and caught his ankle as the 6-foot signal-caller tried to spin away.
As Roche got up and let out a roar, he was met by his teammates who swarmed the field from the sideline.
“It’s the best feeling ever,” said Roche, a Maryland lacrosse recruit. “The last play, I saw him rolling out and I just knew I had to get him. So that’s what I did.”
A senior, the hard-hitting, 5-foot-9 Roche spearheaded a defense that surprised everyone by keeping the champs off the scoreboard. He got help from Darren Watson and DeSouza in the passing game, and big Matthew Samenuk up the middle.
Interestingly enough, the game played out exactly how King Philip wanted.
The Warriors were pounding the rock with junior back Ryan Halliday (29 carries, 97 yards), chewing up clock and keeping North Andover’s explosive offense off the field. 
Took it personal
If you would have told anyone that North Andover — a team that had scored at least 35 points 10 times this season — would score just six points Friday night, you would probably say that King Philip completed the three-peat. Probably in a blowout.
But no one could have expected how well the Knights were going to play on defense.
Well, almost no one.
“Our kids took it personal all week,” said North Andover coach John Dubzinski. “All they heard was how good (King Philip’s) defense was — and rightfully so, they’re a good defense. But our kids knew that they were a good defense and that we didn’t hear a lick about our defense. 
“They took it personal, said that we’re not going to allow them to move the ball ... but we never broke. We made the big play when we had to.”
When they talk about this North Andover team 50 years from now — which they will — that fact won’t be overlooked.
The Knights could beat you with their pure skill, 49-0, but they could also out-hit and out-tough any opponent and win with stellar defense.
“We can say that we can win a slugfest,” laughed Dubzinski. “A lot of people said that we couldn’t.”
McElroy scores
The lone score of the game came with 2:25 left in the first half, when on a 4th-and-goal from the half-inch line QB Jake McElroy barrelled his way in.
As it turned out, that was all the Knights needed.
“I feel amazing,” said senior Darren Watson. “I can’t even, I don’t even know how to explain this. It’s a blessing to win a championship with my family, for all of the fans, my teammates and my coaches. We just did it for the North Andover community.”
Watson capped the historic night (Knight?) with probably the best line — a line that summed up the thoughts of his teammates as well.
At the beginning of the season, did you ever think or dream you guys would be celebrating winning a state championship at Gillette Stadium?
“Of course, nothing less.”

North Andover 6, King Philip 0
Division 2 State Championship
King Philip (9-3): 0 0 0 0 — 0
North Andover (12-0): 0 6 0 0 — 6
Second Quarter
Jake McElroy 1 run (kick blocked) 2:25

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
RUSHING: NORTH ANDOVER (14-15) — Darren Watson 4-9, Jake McElroy 8-9, Freddy Gabin 2-(-3); KING PHILIP (36-121) — Ryan Halliday 29-97, Robert Jarest 3-14, Shawn Conniff 2-10, Sam Callanan 2-0
PASSING: NORTH ANDOVER — Jake McElroy 10-16-1, 117 yards; KING PHILIP — Jarest 5-7-0, 55, Cole Baker 0-1
RECEIVING: NORTH ANDOVER — Gabe DeSouza 5-64, Matt Chicko 2-25, Darren Watson 1-29, Jack Walsh 1-6, Freddy Gabin 1-(-7); KING PHILIP — Tom Nault 2-27, David Morganelli 2-22, Sam Sesay 1-6
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Football, 11/30/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Sachems roll past winless Triton

HAVERHILL — Ice covered the bleachers as approximately 300 fans waddled into Haverhill’s Trinity Stadium bundled from head to toe from the brutal cold.

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Football, 11/25/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Reggies rally late, blank Whittier

ANDOVER — With a sluggish offense needing a spark, the Greater Lawrence defense provided just that.

In a scoreless battle with Commonwealth Conference rival Whitter, the Reggies appeared ready for a look at the end zone early in the fourth quarter. A lost fumble at the Wildcat 1 on a first-down run, however, ended that hope.

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Football, 11/21/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

North Andover, Andover

ANDOVER — Cold, wind and ice all presented late November obstacles here at Lovely Field on Wednesday night.
North Andover High’s speed and explosiveness negated them all.
The unbeaten Scarlet Knights rolled up a 28-0 halftime lead, sent the starters to the bench in the second half and finished off rival Andover High, 41-27. 
North Andover moves to 11-0 on the year, evens the Turkey Day series with the Golden Warriors at 2-2 and now, after a day to feast with the family, can set its sights on King Philip Regional and the Nov. 30 Division 2 state championship at Gillette Stadium.
“Come out, put points on the board, get out healthy and get ready for the next game. That was the plan,” said Darren Watson, following his three-touchdown night.
For the most part, North Andover did just that, although some gritty play from Andover, plus some creative onside kick work by Shamus Florio forced the Knights’ starters back on the field after thinking their night was complete.
The outcome in this one was clear early.
“Their speed was very evident, and you can see why they’re so good,” said Andover coach E.J. Perry, whose club finished at 3-7. “We gave up three big plays on special teams to them, and that was the difference. You just can’t do that against a team like that.”
Fourth down simply was not Andover’s friend.
On the Knights’ opening drive, facing a 4th-and-4, Jake McElroy got things started with a 25-yard TD pass to Watson.
Andover went three-and-out, then on fourth, Gabe DeSouza hauled in a punt and dashed 82 yards on the return. In a blink, it was 14-0.
Another Warrior punt, and this time it was Watson, speeding 88 yards to paydirt.
“We haven’t had any kind of returns for touchdowns this year,” laughed Watson. “Gabe was calling for me to reverse but I thought I saw something.”
What Watson saw was a patch of green and ultimately the end zone.
The final fateful fourth down wasn’t a score, but it set up the fourth TD of the first half, just before the intermission.
On fourth-and-10 on his own 41, DeSouza, from punt formation, chose to tuck it and run, racing 31 yards down the left sideline.
Four plays later, Freddy Gabin got into the act, with a 13-yard TD.
The dominance continued into the third when McElroy hit Ryan Slattery for 4 yards and a 34-0 lead.
That sent the regulars to the bench.
Andover wasn’t done, though.
Freshman QB Victor Harrington (13-34, 266 yards, 4 TDs) and the Warriors got on the board late in the third with a 65-yard strike to senior Nick Zalanskas.
Harrington would add a 9-yarder to Zalanskas and a 30-yard hookup with Brendon Moody, slicing the margin to 34-21 and forcing the Knight regulars back into action.
A Watson 12-yard interception return for touchdown finally put it away, although Zalanskas did catch his third score with a minute to play, allowing for the final margin.
The senior ended his career in style with seven catches for 126 yards.
“Zalanskas was excellent, and I was impressed with Harrington again,” said Perry. “Under the pressure and stress in a game like this, the freshman handled himself well He’s the real deal. Now, we need him to keep working harder and improving his game.”
Watson caught seven passes for 117 yards on the night, and McElroy finished his performance at 10 of 18 for 141 yards. Defensively, the Knights made big plays when they had to with Steven Ferullo and Mike Roche splitting three sacks evenly. Thomas Vance had an interception.

North Andover 41, Andover 27
No Andover (11-0) 21-7-6-7 — 41
Andover (3-7) 0-0-7-20 — 27

First Quarter
NA — Darren Watson 25 pass from Jake McElroy (Gabe DeSouza kick) 7:56
NA — DeSouza 82 punt return (Gabe DeSouza kick) 4:45
NA — Watson 88 punt return (Gabe DeSouza kick) 2:46
Second Quarter
NA — Freddy Gabin 13 run (Gabe DeSouza kick) 1:10
Third Quarter
NA — Ryan Slattery 4 pass from Jake McElroy (kick blocked) 2:02
AND — Nick Zalanskas 65 pass from Victor Harrington (Shamus Florio kick) 1:06
Fourth Quarter
AND — Nick Zalanskas 9 pass from Victor Harrington (Shamus Florio kick) 8:46
AND — Brendon Moody 30 pass from Victor Harrington (Shamus Florio kick) 3:56
NA — Darren Watson 12 interception return (Gabe DeSouza kick) 2:29
AND — Nick Zalanskas 3 pass from Victor Harrington (Shamus Florio kick) 1:19


Statistical Leaders
Rushing
NORTH ANDOVER: Darren Watson 2-6, Freddy Gabin 9-32, Jake McElroy 4-60, Gabe DeSouza 1-31
ANDOVER: Tommy Duncan 7-34

Passing
NORTH ANDOVER: Jake McElroy 10-18-2, 141
ANDOVER: Victor Harrington 13-34-2, 266

Receiving
NORTH ANDOVER: Watson 7-117, Slattery 1-4, Matt Chicko 1-7, DeSouza 1-13
ANDOVER: Zalanskas 7-126, Moody 3-95, John Gemmell 2-41, Duncan 1-4
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Football, 11/21/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Central seniors come through in Thanksgiving win over Lawrence

LAWRENCE - No one would blame you if you thought Anthony Caggianelli was already looking ahead to winter track.

After all, he showed great form when he hurdled a Lawrence defender during the first quarter of Wednesday night's Thanksgiving rivalry game, and the Central Catholic senior did finish seventh in the area with a 15.34 in the 100-meter hurdle last spring.

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Football, 11/21/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Methuen, Dracut

 

METHUEN — As the wind chill dipped under 20 degrees Wednesday night, the Methuen High fans were bundled and cold at Nicholson Stadium, and many of his teammates were shivering on the sideline.

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Football, 11/21/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Pinkerton falls to Bedford in Division 1 title game

DURHAM, N.H. — For most of the second half, it seemed Pinkerton was on the verge of striking.
 
The Astros caused a pair of turnovers in the third quarter, turned them both into touchdowns and were trailing by just one score heading into the forth quarter.
 
But Pinkerton turned the ball over twice inside the Bedford 30 yard line in the final 10 minutes, and fell to the top-seeded Bulldogs 28-14 in the Division 1 state championship game on Saturday at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Field.
 
“Our kids played hard,” said Astros coach Brian O’Reilly. “But, in a championship game, you can’t waste opportunities. We missed a few and that really hurt us. And you can’t do that against a team as good as Bedford.”
 
It was the second straight season Pinkerton fell short in the title game. The Astros lost to Winnacunnet last fall on the same UNH field.
“Our kids did everything we asked them to do,” said O’Reilly, whose Astros beat Bedford for their last state title in 2014. “There are no regrets. You just have to tip your hat to Bedford. They played a very good game, and they are the state champion.” 
The Bulldogs started quick. They held Pinkerton to a three-and-out to start the game, then marched 75 yards on 15 plays to take a 7-0 lead.
The Astros responded with a drive to the Bedford 19, before a pass was intercepted on fourth down. After another Bedford touchdown, Pinkerton drove to the Bulldog 20, but turned the ball over on downs.
“Those two blown opportunities in the first half hurt a lot,” said O’Reilly. “You just don’t want to miss chances. Then they kept the ball away from us.”
The Astros, however, came out in the second half and began to turn the tide.
On the opening kickoff of the third, an Astro knocked the ball loose and Evan Wilson pounced on it for a turnover. Four plays later — on fourth and goal — Gannon Fast plunged in for a 1-yard touchdown to make it 14-7.
Bedford responded with a score, but on the Bulldogs’ next possession Pinkerton’s Robbie Fahey knocked the ball out of the QB’s hands and Fast recovered the fumble. Two plays after that, Fast scored his second 1-yard touchdown and the score was 21-14.
Unbeaten Bedford, however, was able to respond with a touchdown early in the fourth.
“That drive really gave us the boost we needed to finish the game,” said Bedford running back Harrison LeGoullon (2 TDs). “Pinkerton is a really good team with a very deceptive offense and a lot of good athletes. They also have a very good defense, but this was our game.”
Pinkerton then drove the ball to the Bedford 30 again, but the drive ended with an interception.
After a defensive stop, the Astros drove to the Bulldog 18-yard line with 1:24 to play, but turned the ball over on downs again. Bedford then ran the clock out.
“We did what we could,” said O’Reilly. “They ran the ball so well. They have power runners. We have a very good defense, but we could not get them off the field.”
Astros linebacker Jackson Clark — the transfer from Central Catholic — was all over the field with 16 tackles. Fellow linebacker Jake MacInnis added 11 tackles and a forced fumble and Brady Day had 10 stops. 
Leading the Pinkerton offense was running back Gennaro Marra, who ran for 103 yards on 12 carries. Fast ran for the two touchdowns.
“We only moved the ball sporadically,” said O’Reilly. “They really moved the ball. We had a few big plays, then would get nothing. We went through every aspect of our playbook, but they were able to hold us to minimum gains.
“I tell our kids all the time that, when the game is over and you can say, ‘I did everything I could, I didn’t take a play off and I left everything on the field,’ then you just have to tip your hard to the other team. They were the better team today.”

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Football, 11/17/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Polanco, Reggies punch ticket to vocational title game

WEST ANDOVER — Greater Lawrence flexed its muscles on defense en route to a 19-7 win over league rival Greater Lowell in the State Vocational Large School semifinals.
The Reggies (8-3) controlled the game on both sides of the ball in the second half, with their stifling defense forcing two interceptions and zero points allowed, while their quarterback — senior Jose Caceres — led them to two scores. 
The senior signal-caller rumbled in from 17-yards out midway through the third quarter, before adding a backbreaking score on a 62-yard strike to classmate Donnie Croteau nearly two minutes later.
“Jose is just dangerous, he’s a triple [threat], he can just do a little bit of everything, which keeps the defense on its heels,” said Greater Lawrence head coach Tony Sarkis, whose club didn’t play Greater Lowell in the regular season. 
“When we get that throwing, running on the inside and Jose — we’re dangerous. We did that in the second half.”
Caceres rushed for 116 yards on 24 attempts. Fellow senior Ader Mezidor (87 rushing yards) also made his presence known with a 15-yard touchdown run two minutes into the contest.

But it was the Greater Lawrence defense which delivered the victory. After a first half where that defense conceded a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jeremy Gray to Jeremy Sar, the Reggies dominated the second half.

On the four drives that the Gryphons (7-4) began in the second half, two of them ended with three-and-outs. The other two ended with interceptions from Croteau and Steven Polanco.

“If you think about it, that first half they scored on three big penalties, we gave them about 30 yards of offense right there,” said Sarkis.
“We talked to the seniors (at halftime) about them stepping it up and making sure they’re doing what they need to do on their end, cleaning up the mess with penalties, and putting the ball on the carpet. They responded well and I’m proud of them.”

Polanco also had an interception in the first half as the Reggies’ defense held Gray to 81 total passing yards.
In the postgame huddle, Sarkis told his players of the two previous Greater Lawrence squads to reach the State Vocational Bowl. Both fell in the title game, he said.
“Northeast and Assabet are playing Saturday, so we’ll find out Saturday what’s going on. We’ve just got to come to play, eliminate mistakes, get better as a team and stay together as a team,” Sarkis said.
“Hopefully the third time is the charm here. These guys deserve it, they’ve been working hard since April, so we’re very proud of these guys.”
Next up, though, for the Reggies is a Wednesday night matchup with Whittier back here at Luis Gleason Field.
 

Score: Greater Lawrence 19, Greater Lowell 7

Greater Lawrence (8-3):  7 0 12 0

Greater Lowell (7-4):      7  0 0  0

 

First Quarter:
Gr. Lawrence — Ader Mezidor 15-yard run (Kevin Matul Kick GOOD), 9:11
Gr. Lowell — Jeremy Gray 12-yard pass to Jeremy Sar (Devin Farrell Kick GOOD), 1:09

Third Quarter:
Gr. Lawrence — Jose Caceres 17-yard run (2-point conversion NO GOOD), 5:27
Gr. Lawrence — Jose Caceres 62-yard pass to Donnie Croteau (2-point conversion NO GOOD), 3:39

Individual Leaders:
RUSHING
Greater Lawrence: 48-239 2 TDs, 2 FUMs
Jose Caceres: 24-116, TD; Ader Mezidor: 15-87, TD, 2 FUMsl Shamil Diaz: 5-15; Steven Polanco: 1-7; Omar Medina: 1-7; Donnie Croteau: 1-6, Maleek Dejesus: 1-1

Greater Lowell: 17-22
Devon Prak 8-12, Matthew Gaudette 6-7, Jeremy Gray 3-3

PASSING
Greater Lawrence: Jose Caceres: 6/14, 102 yds. TD
Greater Lowell: Jeremy Gray: 6/22, 81 yds. TD, 3 INTs

RECEIVING
Greater Lawrence: 6-102, TD
Donnie Croteau: 1-62, TD; Maleek Dejesus: 1-17; Shamil Diaz: 2-16; Steven Polanco: 1-8; Ader Mezidor: 1-(-1)             
Greater Lowell: 6-81, TD
Devon Prak: 1-61, Jeremy Sar: 1-12, TD; Dylan Bishop: 1-8, Matthew Gaudette: 1-3, Isaiah Carrasquillo: 2-(-3)

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Football, 11/15/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Brooks drops finale

Brooks dropped its season-finale to BB&N 42-14.
The Green-and-White trailed 35-0 before getting on the scoreboard in the fourth on a 64-yard touchdown pass from Connor Silva to John Fritz. Brooks capped the scoring when John Manzi ran for a 4-yard score. 
Silva finished with 88 passing yards, 84 of those to Silva. Manzi led Brooks with 48 rushing yards on six carries. 

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Football, 11/10/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Phillips sends Modeste out a winner

Andover's Mike Thompson threw two touchdowns and Phillips Academy send retiring coach Leon Modeste out a winner after 32 years with a 14-0 victory over archrival Phillips Exeter. 
 
"This was a great way to end a wonderful ride at Phillips Academy," said Modeste. "I am a happy man right now. It was a perfect way to end it."
 
Thompson opened the scoring in the first with a 26-yard TD pass to Will Litton. He then connected with Jake Bedell on a 9-yard score in the second. 
 
"Thompson has really grown up this season," said Modeste. "And he is only a junior. We will see big things from him."

 From there it was up to the defense, which delivered a shutout. Sal Lipoli — who rushed for 143 yards on 25 carries — made a team-high 10 tackles and intercepted a pass. Ben Carbo added eight stops. 

 "We had some struggles this season, but the kids really stepped up," said Modeste. "And I am fortunate to have my successor, Trey Brown, here to experience it all with me."
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Football, 11/10/18 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars
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