Friday, November 3, 2017

Postgame Blog: Shrewsbury Rolls Past Shepherd Hill in D2 Central Semis

By Connor Evans (@RonnocEvans)

Shrewsbury, Mass. - CMass playoff football has ARRIVED.

Friday night's match-up featured two strong teams in the Shepherd Hill Rams and the Shrewsbury Colonials, but the result would be lopsided, and the defending champs would prove why they deserve to be back in the championship.

Colonials take it, 33-7.

Let's break it down.
First Quarter
A long opening drive would get Shrewsbury on the board with a short field goal. A stalled Rams' drive would send the ball back to the Colonials who would end the quarter with possession. 3-0 Shrewsbury.

Second Quarter

Cam Schafer would be the first player to find the end zone, extending the lead to 10 early in the quarter. 4 changes of possession later, and Shrewsbury would put together a superb 2-minute-drill, highlighted by TE Nate Hautala catching a check down pass from QB Drew Campanale and running over a pair of defenders to get the Colonials in FG range. With 2 seconds remaining in the half, the 30-yd try split the uprights and Shrewsbury would take a 13-0 lead.

Third Quarter

Shepherd Hill opened the third quarter with a spark of offense, courtesy of RB Cody Adams, who ripped off a long run, ultimately setting up the Rams' only scoring play of the night. Nathaniel Cooper would take the ball into the end zone and cut the Shrewsbury lead to 6. From this point forward, however, it was all Colonials.

Jonathan White did a great job setting up his blockers on a 23-yd TD run for the Colonials, and after a great defensive showing and a fumble recovery, Campanale would take the ball in for a 1-yd TD, setting the Colonials up 27-7.

Fourth Quarter 

Shrewsbury did a good job eating up as much clock as they could, while still moving the ball effectively. Chris Campbell would get a fair share of snaps from the wildcat formation and keep the sticks moving. With 6:00 remaining, Jonathan White would find his second TD of the game, putting the final nail in the coffin. We would have our final score of 33-7.

Takeaway for Shepherd Hill

A good season comes to an end. This is team with quite the legacy and a strong amount of talent that should be good again next year. Unfortunately, the double-wing offense that brought them to the playoffs may have been their undoing in the first round. Shrewsbury's front 7 was far too dominant for the run-heavy scheme to get going.

It never feels good to get blown out in any game, let alone playoffs, but this was a bit of a mismatch on the night. I look forward to seeing where this team goes from this defeat as we get into next year.

Takeaway for Shrewsbury

So much for a rebuilding year, huh... I said it last week: The Colonials are the last CMass team I would've wanted to play coming into the playoffs here. They're firing on all cylinders and are playing top-notch football in all facets of the game. I know these guys are pumped for next week, ready to take revenge on the St. John's (Shrewsbury) team that dealt them a tough loss early in the year.

I caught up with QB Drew Campanale after the game and asked him about the big win tonight.

"This was the best week of practice of the year. It led directly into us putting all those points on the board and our defense slamming the brakes on them tonight."

I asked him what the mentality was to face a strong Shepherd Hill team tonight and he replied, "basically we just wanted to be the more physical team. Their offense relies on being more physical than the other team, but our defense really bore down on them. On offense we just took what they gave us."

As for next week, it's all excitement: "We are looking forward to getting back at it this week at practice and playing on Saturday."

Additionally, I caught up with Head Coach John Aloisi regarding tonight's game and the plan for next week.

For the effort tonight, he displayed respect for the opponent as well as pride in his team.

"Shepherd Hill is really strong, well-prepared and so well-drilled. They're tough and don't give you an inch. We're really proud of what we did tonight.

As for how that should carry into next round, Coach simply said, "Everything will be structured the same this week. We just have to give our best, remain focused, practice hard, and watch film."

The Colonials look ready. I expect to see a blue-and-gold team come out on fire next week. "

I'm proud of the guys. I knew we had some talent in this group. We get better each week and we are excited for the next one."

P.S. Is it too early for game picks?

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