By Connor Evans (@RonnocEvans)
What a game from two very talented teams out of the CMass D2 bracket. Both teams definitely earned their chances to play here in the regional final. After four quarters of tough battling, Shrewsbury prevailed over Algonquin by a final of 21-14.
Toe to Toe
It’s hard to pinpoint the most critical matchups in this one. Both teams were very evenly distributed in terms of their talent. The game was won on the few plays in which one team found a way to exploit the weaknesses of their opponents. Algonquin was able to run the ball with some success throughout most of the game, while three of Shrewsbury’s touchdowns come through the air. Both teams played good defense all day, but again, it was Shrewsbury who found the cracks in Algonquin's armor more often.
All Colonials. A pair of beautiful touchdown passes from quarterback Drew Campanale to Brian Moura would put his team up 14-0 before the half. Algonquin had some decent success moving the ball down the field, but the Tomahawks' drives would stall before they could draw any blood.
Algonquin seemed to turn it on here. The opening possession of the third quarter would take nearly eight minutes off the clock before culminating in a Max Cerasoli touchdown. Shrewsbury would drive down a short field on the ensuing possession and Captain AJ Laramee would find the end zone on a 20-yard strike from Campanale on the first play of the fourth quarter. This would ultimately serve as the game-winning score for the Colonials.
Algonquin’s next drive fizzled out deep in enemy territory. The Colonials would do their best to run out the clock, even daring to go for it on 4th-and-1 on their own side of the 50. They would ultimately punt the ball back to the Tomahawks, providing them with about 3:00 to go 70 yards to tie it up. After one of the most impressive two-minute-drills you'll ever see at this level, courtesy of Ryan Barry, Shrewsbury's Laramee came up with a pick in his own end zone with just under a minute to play, icing the game.
Takeaway for Algonquin
An impressive season comes to an end. This team showed a lot of heart and a lot of resiliency this season. They showed plenty of fight right to the end today. It definitely hurts to lose, especially in a championship— trust me, I know a thing or two about that— but this Algonquin team has a lot to be proud of. They were a blast to watch. They fought off some of the best teams in the state, and they had a great attitude all year. Best of luck to the seniors moving on, and I look forward to the further development of some of their young talent in years to come.
Takeaway for Shrewsbury
The Colonials can now enjoy their district championship. Only for a day though. Next week it’s on to the state semifinals, where they will play a Westfield team that without a doubt is going to give their all. After the game, Head Coach John Alosi was highly complementary of both his squad and his opponents.
“I’m so proud. To beat a talented team like that… to hang on… I’m just so proud of everybody,” Alosi said.
A senior captain and one of the stars of the game, AJ Laramee spoke on the performance of his team: “This was a team effort. We worked all week for this. We focused on what we had to go and executed.” He also touched on the leadership, adding, “We have four captains on this team, but really, every senior is a captain. We teammates each other and the younger guys to do stuff that we may not be comfortable with at the time. We, the players and the Coaches are always up on each other. We look forward to next week.”