Saturday, November 1, 2014

Postgame Blog: Northbridge's LaChapelle Sets MA Wins Record in Ram Rout

Jake Wood (32) and Koby Schofer (12) give Northbridge one of the most talented and versatile backfields in the state.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Behind big days from his grandson Koby Schofer and classmate Jake Wood, long time Northbridge head coach Ken LaChapelle became the winningest high school football coach in Massachusetts history.

A quick reminder that this is only a blog of my rambling thoughts on the game. If you'd like to see my complete video report of LaChapelle's historic night, click here to view it on ESPN Boston. Now, let's move onto win No. 324 in Whitinsville.

History Made

The result of the game was never in question, and Northbridge was playing its JV when things finally went final, but that didn't take away from the post game celebration. Much of the town came out, even on Halloween, to celebrate a man that has impacted the community as a coach and mentor for 39 years.

From the reception he received, and stories being told along the sidelines and in the crowd, it was apparent that LaChapelle is far more than a football coach in the Northbridge community. Not to mention the fact that Clinton's coaches and players looked every bit as happy for LaChapelle as those in the Northbridge crowd, and the outpouring of support for the long time head coach on Twitter and other social media.

The night served as a bit of a "lifetime achievement award" for the leader and mentor, something the town and Central Mass football community seemed more than happy to provide.

Rams Ready

But make no mistake about it, this team is focused on winning a state title. Both LaChapelle and Schofer made it very clear that they would celebrate the win, but get back to business as usual quickly. Northbridge welcomes a feisty Tyngsborough team next week, and Division 5 is paved with land mines, including reigning state champion Bishop Fenwick, the team that beat the Rams in the state championship game last December, and one the Rams will likely see again, should they make it back to Gillette.

Even with a deceptively tough bracket the rest of the way (D5 Central alone still features Tyngsborough, along with rising powers Uxbridge and Bartlett), Northbridge has to be considered one of the favorites state-wide.

The Rams are the best screen team I've seen all year, a compliment to the athletic Northbridge line, savvy backs and receivers, and the timing of Schofer. They also run the zone read like it's nobody's business, with junior fullback Jake Wood providing the thunder inside to complement Schofer and classmate Michael Quinn's lightning on the outside.

It's crazy to think that Northbridge is STILL a young team, but the Rams are junior-heavy, and with Schofer, Wood, Quinn and stud receiver Chandler Brooks all coming back for next season, the Rams have the potential to string together a three-year run (counting last season's state runner-up finish) that any small school would dream of.


It's tough to form proper opinions after a blowout of an over-matched opponent, but I've maintained that Schofer and many of his Ram teammates are underrated, almost comically so, at the state level. I can only compare Schofer to the other quarterbacks I've seen this year, but I've seen some good ones and, based off his release, accuracy and mobility, he's up there with Oliver Eberth of St. John's Prep, Aaron Williams of Brockton and James Lam of Quincy.

In fact, I would say he's a combination of those three, mixing Eberth's touch, leadership and savvy with Williams' quickness, decisiveness in the option game and toughness, plus Lam's elusiveness in the open field and ability to finish runs. Now, does he have the complete strengths of all those guys? Of course not, but he has elements of each of their games, and all of it put together make him one heck of a player.

Barring anything unforeseen, this kid should be in the running for Mr. Football next season, and he's got to be in the discussion for All-State this year.

As for the rest of the Rams, they almost won too easily for me to pass much judgment, but you have to be impressed with the all-around game of Jake Wood. As a running back, fullback and linebacker, the guy has a combination of size, strength, speed and smarts that you just don't see at the Division 5 level often.

We'll see what the next few weeks bring, but Northbridge has the talent to play with anybody across the state in D5.

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