Thursday, October 6, 2016

SuiteSports Game of the Week: Northbridge at Grafton

Northbridge capture a state title last year, and this year's young Ram squad is coming together nicely.
By Connor Evans (@RonnocEvans)

This week’s SuiteSports Game of the Week features unbeaten Grafton playing host to 3-1 Northbridge.


These teams know each other pretty well. It was just 4 years ago that Grafton topped the Rams in the Central Mass Super Bowl, before all the subsequent realignments, and switch to a state-wide playoff system.

Since then, Northbridge has had the Indians' number. Last time these teams met, the Indians would allow 40 points and fail to tally even once on the scoreboard themselves. A lot has changed since last season’s landslide however, and I expect to see a fun one come Friday.


Both teams come into this game with strong records. Obviously, Grafton would love to remain unbeaten, especially picking up a win against a tough opponent like Northbridge. On the flip side, The Rams have a chance to make a huge statement, as the Indians are one of the higher ranked teams in the state.

Aside from one stinging loss to Leicester, Northbridge has shown the ability to jump on teams and run with a lead, but also to finish off close games strong. The Indians haven’t faced any close games yet this season. In fact, no team has kept it within 20 points of them, nor has a team scored more than 8 on Grafton this season.

The Matchup

As lethal as Grafton’s offense has been this season with young quarterback Matt Holbrook and RB/WR Ifeatu Melifonwu, it is their defense that has gone and quietly done their job about as well as you could ask for. Senior captains Adam Swerling and Jack Fontana have anchored a front seven that has dominated each one of their opponents so far this season. Though they aren’t the biggest team, Grafton’s defense has always prided itself on outworking opponents— something they’ve certainly delivered on so far this year.

Northbridge lost some of their key players from last season, including some of the best players in program history, like QB/S Koby Schofer and WR/DB/P Chandler Brooks, but there’s no shortage of talent on this team.

Senior Quarterback Jack Marzec has done a great job so far, finding the end zone both with his legs and through the air. He likes to spread the ball around. He’s found five different receivers for touchdowns this year. Kicker Geoffrey Reichert also has some range on him. He’s the sort of weapon who can sneak his way into close games and be a big difference maker. On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams have been solid, not allowing an opponent to hit the 20 point mark yet. Grafton will be a big test for them.

What to Watch For

Grafton’s cornerbacks will have more work to do than usual, as Northbridge has a legitimate passing attack that can definitely open up the field more than many of the Indians prior opponents. Look for the Rams to throw a series of different looks at the Indians to keep themselves from becoming predictable. They aren’t going to want to let Grafton’s front seven wear the down, so expect to see a good mix of runs and throws.

On the flip side, The Rams will have to do everything they can to stop Grafton’s prolific point scoring attack. Ifeatu Mellifonwu is averaging over 13 yards per carry on the season behind one stout offensive line.

The scariest part of this is he’s not the only weapon. Running back John Harrington has seen an increased workload, and the Indians aren’t afraid to take a shot once in a while with rising star Matt Holbrook under center.


When two teams that have a tough history like these two meet during the season, you can usually expect high emotion and some fireworks. Expect nothing different come Friday night.

This year, I give the edge to the Indians. They’re playing red-hot right now, and would love to get a big win on their homecoming night in front of a crowd. Northbridge won’t make it easy on them though. I don’t anticipate a lopsided final score, like we’ve seen so far this season from the Indians.

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