Saturday, September 16, 2017

Postgame Blog: Shrewsbury Outlasts Grafton in CMass Slugfest

 By Connor Evans (@RonnocEvans)

GRAFTON - Friday’s matchup between the neighboring Grafton Indians and Shrewsbury Colonials was a hard-fought, physical game. Shrewsbury dominated the first half and despite a strong Indians resurgence in the fourth quarter, the Colonials hung on to win 21-14. 

1st Quarter: Indians offense has a few nice plays but can't find any points. Drew Campanale on the Shrewsbury side of the ball looked sharp, ripping off a few tough runs and firing a touchdown strike to Nate Hautala for the game's first score. 

2nd Quarter: After a monster run by Matt Holbrook, a 4th and goal play from the 3 results in a the Indians' pass being intercepted in the end zone. Shrewsbury's defense robbed the Indians of 6 crucial points. Two drives later, the Colonials blocked an Indians punt and recovered deep in Grafton territory. They would turn this into another 7 points with under a minute to play in the first half (Campanale to Chris Campbell).

3rd Quarter: On the opening drive of the half, Shrewsbury grinded their way to the end zone, chewing up a full 5 minutes of clock on the drive. This was capped off by a really great effort by Tim Rioux, who lunged for the end zone, fully extending the ball to just leak it across the plane. Grafton would retaliate late in the quarter however, as Ryan Jack would find his way in for a touchdown. After a 2-pt conversion, we had a score of 21-8 (Shrewsbury lead).

4th Quarter: Shrewsbury’s Campanale fires deep into the end zone early in the fourth and is picked off by Grafton. This saved the Indians from giving up the dagger touchdown. After several changes in possession, a Colonial snap is mishandled on a punt and recovered by Brady Fontana of Grafton. The Indians would take advantage of superb field position and fight their way into the end zone (Fontana). A failed 2-pt attempt with 1:00 remaining in the game would leave the Indians down 21-14. The ensuing onside-kick would be gobbled up by Rioux of Shrewsbury and Campanale would kneel out the clock.

Takeaway for Grafton

Grafton showed real grit and real endurance in this one. Playing your neighboring town for the first time in 50 years is big-- especially when that neighboring town is as good a football school as Shrewsbury. 

Grafton, certainly the underdog in this fight, showed some true grit for a team a division below their opponent. That being said, though anticipated to be outmatched, Grafton at no point in this game seemed as though they were being dominated. 

Yes, the score reached lopsided points, but the Indians sure made the Colonials fight for each one of those points. The Indians showed toughness that suggests they may be aiming at a deep run this year, despite graduating defensive stalwarts Jack Fontana and Adam Swerling, and offensive dynamo Ifeatu Melifonwu since last season. 

Quarterback Matt Holbrook can throw, the team is loaded with talent at running back and hold on-- ANOTHER Fontana brother? (Seriously, these guys rival only the Melifonwu's for great Grafton Football Legacies). I wouldn't hang my head Grafton. Mend some mistakes and this team will be just fine.

Takeaway for Shrewsbury

"We knew we had to come out against Grafton. We knew they're good contenders in this league. We knew we had to come out and win this game. Our boys were fired up tonight and I think they put it all on the line," said Drew Campanale.

Shrewsbury, much like their opponent tonight, looks like they could be aiming for another deep run. Though tonight's win was not exactly the smoothest football the Colonials have played, once they work out a few kinks, this team is going to be dangerous. Campanale has the arm to engineer a passing attack with the best in the area. 

Combining that with athletic pass catchers, tough running backs, and, as Campanale put it, “The best O-line in central mass," this offense is ready to put up big numbers. The defense came up strong tonight as well, always swarming to tackle a tough, wear-you-down Grafton offense. 

"We have a lot of respect for their program. We know they're really strong," said Shrewsbury Coach Aloisi after the game. "We knew it was going to be a battle." As nice as it is to win, Coach Aloisi remained stoic that his team had a lot to improve on.

"We have so much work to do... Next week we've got to fix a lot of errors and have to move forward." Shrewsbury, of course, would like to visualize themselves back fighting for the State Championship again. But Coach Aloisi echoed the sentiments of many coaches in charge of elite teams: "its cliché, but it's absolutely true: we've got to play each game as it comes." No one is getting ahead of themselves in Shrewsbury. Next game up. I look forward to seeing this fiery Colonials Squad continue as they build strong case for a shot at a title.

No comments :