Friday, September 8, 2017

Nashoba Outmuscles Groton-Dunstable on Opening Night

By John McGuirk (@patsfan1313)

BOLTON - The unexpected second half fireworks show wasn't the only thing lighting up the Nashoba Regional skyline Friday night. The Chieftains offense and defense combined to put on a pretty good light show of their own. Racking up 310 yards of offense, Nashoba opened its season with a flurry, blanking Mid-Wach B Divisional counterpart Groton-Dunstable, 34-0.

Two years removed from winning the Division 2 Super Bowl, the Chieftains, at least early on, appear primed to make another run on Gillette Stadium come December. Although one game is hardly a defining example, nonetheless, this team has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball but, like most clubs, the Chieftains are taking the one game at a time approach.

But starting the season 1-0 can certainly set a precedent of greater things to come.

Nashoba took control of this one early and never let up. All of the Chieftains scores came via the run as the Crusaders had their share of issues defensively in trying to slow the Chieftains down. On Nashoba's first possession, it marched 60 yards with ease before senior back Kyle Hume busted through the G-D defensive front 30 yards for a 6-0 lead. A short time later, with the ball back in the Chieftains' hands, they drove to the Crusader 27. A Sam Bolinsky to Bennett MacGregor 22 yard pitch and catch resulted in a MacGregor fumble that was recovered by G-D's Jacob Booth at the 5 yard line.

But as was their plight all evening long, the Crusaders offense failed to generate any kind of consistency thus failing to capitalize and giving the ball back to Nashoba. For the game, G-D mustered just 140 yards with 66 of it coming in the opening half.

With time ticking away in the second quarter, Nashoba was determined to make it a two score game before heading into the locker room. A key 68 yard reception from Bolinsky (5 of 13 for 120 yards) to wide out Breese Hill, who got behind the Crusaders secondary, would lead to a 9 yard Bolinsky run up the gut with 46 seconds remaining. Matt Parrow's ensuing conversion catch sent the Chieftains into the half up by 14.

"We started out a little slow and made some mental mistakes early," said Hume, who finished with 68 yards on the ground. "We did well coming out in the second half and everything started to roll at that point. Our line had an excellent game tonight. They were creating giant holes for me and our other running backs. It's a great start to the season and I think it's going to be a great season."

Things didn't change much in the second half. While G-D's offense continued to sputter, Nashoba's ground attack kept its foot on the pedal. Midway through the third quarter, a short Crusader punt gave the Chieftains excellent field position on the G-D 40. Needing just six plays _ all runs _ Bolinsky capped it off with a 1 yard dive over the goal line to extend Nashoba's advantage to 21-0.

"We kind of took what was available to us and took advantage of it," said Chieftains head coach Jamie Tucker. "Groton was moving the ball some and we were able to halt them a couple of times so anytime you can do that is good. Groton is a tough team and are well-organized. We know they are a good team so this was a nice win for us."

The Crusaders finally started to see its offense gain some traction following the Chieftains score as they were now moving the ball forward. But a delay in their momentum came once fireworks were set off near the field which lasted a couple of minutes. Game officials waited for the fireworks to end before resuming play. According to Nashoba athletic director Tania Rich, the fireworks, which entertained the large crowd on hand, were set off of school grounds in a cemetery located adjacent to the school. The light show had nothing to do with Nashoba.  

Once play was resumed, the Crusaders' momentum had vanished as they once again stubbed their toe after quarterback Bradley teDuits' pass was intercepted by Hill, who returned it 26 yards to the G-D 28 yard line.

A few moments later, junior Alex Childs took a hand-off, cut to his left and never stopped before reaching the end zone, padding the lead to 27-0 with 2:45 still left in the third. teDuits, a sophomore, completed 6 passes for 37 yards but was picked off three times.

"Nashoba is a great program who comes into every game expecting to win," said Crusader third-year head coach Tom Sousa. "We are a team that comes out hoping to win. That is a huge difference. We need to get to a level where we expect to win too. I don't think we are that far away. We just cannot afford to make the same mistakes over and over again. We need to clean some things up. We know it's a process that will take some time but we will get there."

The Chieftains, now playing their reserves, added a final score late in the fourth courtesy of a 2 yard scoring run by Brian Sabourin.

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