Wednesday, November 30, 2016

State Championship Preview: Duxbury vs Shrewsbury in Division 2

Duxbury quarterback Bobby Maimaron has re-written the Massachusetts passing records throughout his career, but surprising Shrewsbury stands between the star signal-caller and a storybook ending.
By Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports)

Dave Maimaron only has four quarters left coaching the class he is most familiar with.

The Duxbury Dragons (11-1) head coach has been coaching the class of 2017 for the majority of their lives. But Saturday, it all comes to an end as they face Central Mass. champion Shrewsbury (9-3) in the Division 2 Championship at 6 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.

“It would be really special to come out on top,” coach Maimaron said. “The vast majority of this group I’ve coached year round since the second grade all through youth sports and in high school now. I’m really close with this senior class and their families. It’s definitely extra special to even be here with them.”

When their starters play, the Dragons have averaged nearly 45 points per game. In contrast, their  defense has allowed about 17 points in those contests. Quarterback Bobby Maimaron has thrown more touchdowns than any quarterback in the state ever (118). He is complemented by Harvard-bound wide receiver Ryan Reagan and running back Devin DeMeritt on offense, all of whom have been on varsity since they were freshmen.

DeMeritt (shoulder) is questionable to play at Gillette and Reagan, who missed much of the season with a broken foot, is expected to play. With such injuries though, it makes sense why the Dragons rested their starters on Thanksgiving -- even if they were forced to take a painful 53-0 loss to Marshfield.

“It was a tough decision and an unfortunate one,” coach Maimaron said. “But we thought it was the best decision for this team for the situation we’re in.”

Junior wideout James Miele leads the Dragons with 10 touchdown receptions.

The Dragons strong defensive unit hardly receives the recognition it deserves. Well, except from opposing coaching staffs. Linebackers Joe Gooley and Nick Gearin crush the opposition’s ground effort while defensive end Charlie Gans puts immense pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Mike Barry and Connor Hunt suppress their foe’s passing effort in the secondary, and Maimaron also takes snaps on defense when needed. The star senior has three interceptions on the year.

“We’re really excited to have this chance. We’re just really trying to focus this week on playing our best football Saturday. It’s going to take that to play with these guys. I think we’ve got a major challenge against an excellent team,” coach Maimaron added.

Unlike the Dragons, the Shrewsbury Colonials have not blown out the majority of their opponents, but they have been improving throughout the season.

Their +95 points differential on the year might not impress, but after starting the year 3-3, they have won six straight. And despite losing to St. John’s (Shrewsbury) and Algonquin earlier in the year, the Colonials knocked both of them out of the playoffs. Six of their nine wins thus far have been by a touchdown or less. And head coach John Aloisi said winning those games is a credit to his team’s intangibles, rather than talent alone.

“I really think our character is very strong,” he said. “We’ve persevered through a lot of tight games. I just think the senior leadership has been outstanding.”

Sophomore quarterback Drew Campanale, who started the last four games in 2015 as a freshman, leads a dual-threat attack.

“He’s just so talented he adjusted to the speed of varsity football so fast,” Aloisi said of Campanale. “I think it didn’t take him long this year to figure it out. He’s done a nice job for us.”

The Colonials team is filled with quality athletes including Campanale’s go-to targets, senior captains Jared Godek (tight end) and Connor McAulay (wide receiver). Running back/senior captain A.J. Laramee -- who also excels as an outside linebacker -- has been another quality target for Campanale. Junior Chris Campbell has been lethal catching short routes and turning them into big gains, and the Colonial line is one of the most underrated in Central Mass.

Defensively, the Colonials are led by middle linebacker Mike Mulvena, another senior captain.  Defensive backs Aidan Brown and Ryan Trocki have shined for the Colonials, but meet their toughest challenge yet this season against the state’s top air attack.

Outside linebacker Justice Lane and lineman Nicolas DiGirolamo have also excelled for the Colonials.

Shrewsbury’s last championship win (a Central-Western Div. 1A Super Bowl) came in 2007. Duxbury won their last title (a Div. 2 EMass Super Bowl) in 2011.

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