Friday, October 27, 2017

Shrewsbury Lights Up Nashoba's Renowned Defense in Win

 By Connor Evans (@RonnocEvans)

Final game before the playoffs and two of the toughest teams in CMass to meet? I'm in. On a perfect October football night, the Shrewsbury Colonials came out and dominated at home, securing a win over the Nashoba Chieftans, 35-7. Let's break it down.

1st Quarter: Both defenses would play tough but Shrewsbury would strike first, as QB Drew Campanale stood tough in the pocket against heavy pressure, delivering a perfect ball to Jonathan White who fought his way to the end zone.

2nd Quarter: Halfway through the quarter, Shrewsbury's Cam Schaefer would find the sidelines and take the ball 55-yards for a score to extend the lead to 14. However, the Chieftans would come back and answer, thanks to QB Sam Bolinsky who made some magic happen on the drive. He would evade pressure and a few sacks on the drive and would find Breese Hill for a beautiful touchdown connection with 30 seconds left in the half. Great throw, great catch. The quarter ended 14-7

3rd Quarter: Shrewsbury came out of the locker room on a mission. To start the half, the Colonials put together an impressive drive resulting in a second Jonathan White touchdown! (Another great effort, fully extending the ball to sneak it just inside the left-side pylon). On the ensuing drive Nashoba drive, Shrewsbury DB Tim Rioux would put in an incredible effort on a 50/50 ball, colliding with a receiver for a very impressive interception. The quarter would end 21-7. 

4th Quarter: Signal-caller Campanale would score on a nice touchdown run, making sure to make two men miss on his way to the end zone to open up the quarter, and after more impressive defense by the Colonials, Tim Rioux would find his way into the end zone on a 1-yard LEAP over the pile for a score. Final: Shrewsbury 35, Nashoba 7.

Takeaway for Nashoba
The season's first loss may be a blessing in disguise. A lot of people are superstitious about so-called "perfect seasons," especially when it comes to playoff time. Losing big right before heading into the post-season can sometimes be the wake-up call a team needs to make a serious run. Clearly, the Cheiftans were outplayed tonight but don't expect the same going forward. Nashoba allowed 4 TDs all season. They allowed 5 against Shrewsbury this evening. This is a very strong team that was exposed on Friday night. I'd anticipate a serious turnaround come next week.

Takeaway for Shrewsbury
Tremendous team win. Both sides of the ball played clean, hard-fought football. The guys never let off the gas pedal. In fact, it seemed they played better and better as the game went on. To score so many points on such a stingy defense is no small feat. I also want to give a lot of credit to the Colonials' front 7. They were in the backfield so often tonight that Nashoba didn't really have an opportunity to get an offense going. (The Chieftans' one scoring drive benefited from a big Pass-Interference call). The offensive line did an excellent job as well, both moving the pile and protecting Campanale, giving him time to go through his downfield progressions. 

After the game I caught up with Head Coach John Aloisi. "We try to take each week the same and play as hard as we can, regardless of the circumstances. Our kids came to play tonight," he said about tonight's game. I asked if he felt momentum would carry into round one of playoffs against Shepherd Hill and he replied, "It's entirely new week with a new set of challenges with a strong Shepherd Hill team who we played a close game with earlier in the season. We've just got to keep getting better ever day." 

The funny thing is, this is supposed to be something of a "rebuilding year" for the Colonials. Not many teams have a 7-1 record after "rebuilding" all season. Coach Aloisi said "We have the most depth we've had here in a few years... The depth has really helped us down the stretch." 

It's true. Shrewsbury had a plethora of different players touch the ball tonight. What's even scarier: that had a bunch that didn't get to either. With the play-makers on both sides of the ball, with what they did tonight, with the attitude I saw from the players and coaches after the game, with the spirit of this team... I mean it when I say this is THE LAST CMass team I would want to play in the playoffs this year.

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