Sunday, December 7, 2014

MIAA State Championship Wrap: A Historic Day for Running Backs at Gillette

Xaverian running back Noah Sorrento celebrating one of his four touchdowns with teammate Joe Gaziano. The Hawks held on to defeat Everett 38-29 and win the Division 1 state championship at Gillette Stadium Saturday.  
Photo Credit: Brendan C. Hall/ESPN Boston
 By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

It was a day of domination at Gillette Stadium Saturday, as only two of the six Massachusetts state championship games were ever in question after halftime.

Cohasset started the day of lopsided scores, avenging a loss to Littleton last season by defeating the Tigers 35-22, in a game they led 35-8 in the second half. Marshfield then upped the ante on blowouts in the second game, routing Longmeadow 45-6 in the D2 final.

Things turned slightly more competitive in the afternoon game, as Xaverian knocked off Everett for the D1 title 38-29 in a heavyweight bout, then took a championship selfie. D4 brought a return to blowouts as Holliston ran past Wahconah 43-0 in the day's fourth game, but Gillette's most competitive game would follow.

A late interception sealed a 14-7 victory for Dartmouth over Melrose, giving the Indians the Division 3 state championship. The day would end with Abington blowing out Northbridge 36-6 for the D5 crown, marking the second consecutive disappointing trip to Gillette for the Rams.

Another constant theme for the day was the outstanding play of several stellar running backs. As rain poured down in Foxborough, teams turned to their bell cow backs to deliver a championship, and nearly all of them delivered, making any attempt at picking an MVP for the day quite a challenge.

Here are your contenders for Gillette's Player of the Day.

D1: Noah Sorrento, Sr. RB, Xaverian: 25 carries, 187 yards, 4 TDs.
D2: Jack Masterson, Sr. QB, Marshfield: 10 carries, 103 yards, 2 TDs.
D3: Chris Martin, Jr. RB, Dartmouth: 31 carries, 215 yards, 1 TD.
D4: Zach Elkinson, Sr. WR/RB, Holliston: 9 carries, 212 yards, 5 TDs.
D5: Shawn Donovan, Jr. RB, Abington: 13 carries, 139 yards, 3 TDs.
D6: Cole Kissick, Sr. RB, Cohasset- 19 carries, 187 yards, 1 TD.

While all of these guys had amazing games, I'm inclined to lean toward Sorrento and Elkinson, but for very different reasons. Sorrento carried a massive load against an immensely talented defense, and his 26-yard score to put the Hawks back up by two scores in the fourth quarter was probably the biggest play of the day.

He gets a ton of credit for being a work horse and toughing it out in a close game.

On the other hand, Elkinson had the most efficient and dominant day we've seen in a while. His absurd 23.5 yards per carry is one thing, but when you score a touchdown once every 1.8 times you touch the ball, that's just out of this world good. Unlike Sorrento, he didn't need a bunch of touches to make an impact, and the game wasn't close because he scored every time he found an inch of daylight.

You're splitting hairs between those two, so I'm going to cop out and call it a tie on my end, with Kissick coming in as a close third for his story of redemption back from injury, and for turning the tables on Littleton.

Donovan was great running, and also had an interception on defense, so it's hard to leave him out, but Northbridge seemed to beat itself at times. Martin was another work horse, but his late fumble put the game back in jeopardy, so he definitely lost some style points there.

Masterson is another player that benefited from his team simply blowing somebody out, but Marshfield spread the ball around too well for any one player to put up mind-blowing numbers.

On the whole, it was an interesting day at Gillette Stadium. The weather was dreary, the games not always competitive, and the running games high-powered. While you could have asked for some closer games, you'd be hard pressed to find more top-notch performances crammed into a single day of football.

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