Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Previewing the MIAA State Football Championships: Divisions 4 & 7

Will it be three state championships in a row for Mashpee, or can underdog Blackstone Valley Tech shock the state?
By Jake Levin (@JakeLevin09)

Our Matt Feld kicked MIAA football championship week off with a preview of both Friday night games at Gillette. You can check out that preview of the Division 2 and Division 3 title games here, and continue below for Jake Levin's breakdown of the D4 and D7 championships.

Division 4 Super Bowl

Nashoba (10-1) vs Melrose (12-0), 11 am

The second game to kickoff in Foxboro Saturday pits the Nashoba Chieftains out of the D4 Central bracket against the Melrose Red Raiders, who will be representing the North.

With no Division 4 West region, one sectional champion from the Division 4 ranks receives a bye each year. This season, it was the Central’s turn, and Nashoba likely needed all the rest it could get after a thrilling 21-19 overtime victory over Marlboro in the regional final.

The Chieftains are back at Gillette following a one-year absence, making their return to a stadium where they won the old Division 2 Super Bowl in 2015. With 16 seniors on the roster, several players have experienced being on the hallowed turf in Foxboro.

The same can be said of the Red Raiders, who are also returning to Gillette after a one-year hiatus. Melrose has 24 seniors, but unlike Nashoba, does not have a championship victory with anyone from this group. The Red Raiders lost back-to-back Super Bowls at Gillette in 2014 and ’15 to the Dartmouth Indians.

With a new opponent this time around, Melrose head coach Tim Morris will lean on tailback Isaac Seide, a junior who’s coming off of a 161-yard performance on 28 carries against Hopkinton in the state semifinals. The Red Raiders overcame an 8-7 halftime deficit to run away from the Hillers, 22-8.

Jamie Tucker, head coach of Nashoba, will counter with a workhorse back of his own in Alex Childs, who carried the ball 22 times for 84 yards in the Chieftains’ thriller over Marlboro. Childs had two touchdowns in the game, as well as the game-clinching two-point conversion in OT.

Melrose won each of its first seven games in the regular season by at least two scores in capturing a Middlesex League Small crown, but has had to scratch and claw its way through much of the postseason. In addition to coming back on Hopkinton, the Red Raiders snuck by Dracut, 14-10, inched past North Reading, 28-27, and got by Marblehead, 28-20, to capture the Division 4 North title.

Even with the tight postseason contests, Melrose has a healthy plus-205 point-differential on the season.

Nashoba was tripped up against Shrewsbury in its regular season finale, but still won the MidWach B championship. The Chieftains have a not-too-shabby plus-151 point-differential on the year.

Look for a battle between two brutally efficient ground games, and two physical defenses. The toughest team will likely come out on top.

Division 7 Super Bowl

Mashpee (12-0) vs Blackstone Valley Tech (11-1), 6 pm

In the fifth game of the day from Foxboro, the two-time defending state champion Mashpee Falcons will represent the South, and battle the Blackstone Valley Tech Beavers out of the Central.

Mashpee brings an eye-opening big game résumé to Gillette as it aims to bring a third consecutive State Championship back to Cape Cod.

The Falcons have won 19 straight games overall, including 14 straight in the postseason, en route to state titles in 2015 (Division 6) and 2016 (Division 4). Mashpee has also won back-to-back South Shore League titles, but its pedigree goes back to even earlier in the decade.

While several players on the Falcons roster will be going for their third Super Bowl title, head coach Matt Trvieri will be going for his fourth, following Mashpee’s win in the 2011 Eastern Mass title game

Defensive end/tight end Xavier Gonsalves was named the South Shore League’s Player of the Year, and was joined on the SSL All-Star team by Colgate University-bound lineman Ben Bohnenberger, Jake Johnston, John McNamara, Ian Ahearn and Cam Kergo.. and that’s before we get to star junior tailback/defensive back Devaun Ford.

Ford has run for over 1,000 yards in just nine games – roughly a quarter of which came in the Division 7 semifinal win over St. Mary’s (Lynn), in which Ford carried the ball 36 times for 253 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 28-20 win for the Falcons.

Mashpee was hardly tested during the regular season, outscoring its opponents 270-77, and prior to the win over St. Mary’s, wasn’t having much trouble in the postseason either. The Falcons soared out of the Division 7 South bracket with a 30-point win over Diman Voke, a 16-point win over Archbishop Williams, and a 20-point knockout of Abington in the final.

Like Mashpee, Blackstone Valley encountered very little resistance along its path to Gillette, especially in the regular season. The Beavers, who are based in Upton, boast one of the more impressive defenses in the state. Excluding a Thanksgiving loss to neighboring rival Nipmuc, Blackstone Valley didn’t give up double digits in points once during its first eight games, and shutout three of its opponents.

Virtually untested and unscathed in Colonial Athletic League play, the Beavers have continued to put up respectable defensive numbers in the postseason, although not quite in line with the microscopic totals they were giving up in the regular season. Blackstone Valley handled Assabet Valley, 35-14, before edging Leicester, 21-14, and surviving Wahconah, 21-18, in the Division 7 semifinal.

Conner Polymeros (16 carries, 83 yards) and Joseph Antaya (eight carries, 72 yards) provided stability in the backfield for Blackstone Valley against Wahconah, which rallied from a 21-3 deficit to close within a field goal before time ran out.

While the Beavers aren’t in the midst of a dynasty along the lines of the Falcons, Blackstone Valley does have a pair of championships this millennium: A Division 6 Central Mass title in 2012 prior to the statewide realignment, and a Division 3A Central/Western Mass title in 2007.

Head coach Jim Archibald, now in his eighth season in charge of the Beavers, was around for the second title in ’12.

While Mashpee comes in as a heavy favorite against BVT, don't expect the Beavers to mind. They've been counted out all year, and yet here they are, headed to the House That Brady Built to play for a championship.

1 comment :

Unknown said...

hope for good games ..and i am a central mass guy.. but gotta go with melrose in d4 and mashpee in d7. good luck to all !