|East Bridgewater taking the field at Gillette Stadium last year. The Vikings will hope for a better result this time around against old nemesis St. Mary's.|
This one seems familiar… Probably because the two sides faced off in the Division 5 Eastern Mass finals last season.
This year, however, the East Bridgewater Vikings (10-2) and St. Mary’s Spartans (12-0) will face one another in the Div. 3A State Finals at Gillette Stadium. Last year, the Vikings edged their foe, 28-26, but it might be tough to base this one off last year’s results.
With a handful of dominant teams in the state this season, the Spartans are often overlooked. Their defense has allowed under 10 points per game this season, while their high-powered offense averaged nearly 40.
High school football tends to be a run-first game, and that is exactly what the Spartans have been doing all year. The Spartans trio of running backs -- Calvin Johnson, Abraham Toe and James Brumfield -- have been instrumental to the team’s success.
Interestingly enough, their quarterback, Marcus Atkins, was a wide receiver last season, and freshman wide receiver Matt Cross, who played varsity basketball last season, is already 6-foot-7. Liam Reddy has been a leader on both sides of the line and Joey Silvestri has made his presence known as a run-stopping middle linebacker.
South Shore football aficionados not convinced the Spartans played a tough schedule on the North Shore? They shut out Archbishop Williams, 44-0 back on October 8, a team who took a tight 8-6 loss to Norwell in the second round of the playoffs. That’s the same Norwell team the Vikings edged, 22-20, in the Div. 3A South final.
On the other side, it might be worth noting the Vikings starters have not lost to a Div. 3A team this season. They took a 21-0 loss to Rockland while resting their starters, and their other loss came against Hanover, who will play for the Div. 3 title on Saturday.
Thus far, the Viking offensive line, anchored by senior captains Nick Khoury and Brian Damon has been sharp, giving sophomore dual-threat quarterback Liam LeVangie ample time to survey his options.
As a sophomore, LeVangie has taken command of the offense, running effective read options with running back Pat Snow. LeVangie, whose father Dana is the Red Sox bullpen coach, also boasts a dependable throwing arm, and wide receivers Greg Plunkett and Kevin Aylward have been his favorite targets this season.
Being a smaller school, the Vikings have excelled using two-way players and, as such, Damon has stood out at defensive end, Khoury and Snow have stood strong as linebackers, and Plunkett oppresses his opponent’s passing game at safety.
The Viking defense has allowed one touchdown or less on seven occasions this season.
Last year, the Vikings came up short in the Div. 5 title game, falling 36-34 to Northbridge. After graduating a strong senior class, they have defied expectations, making it back to Gillette this year.
The Spartans and Vikings have the early game this year at Gillette with kickoff set for 9 a.m. Saturday.
It would be the Spartans' first championship since 2005, and the Vikings' first title since 1990.