Sunday, November 11, 2018

MIAA Football: Top Performances From Sectional Final Weekend

Tewksbury overcame an early deficit to win the Div. 3 North crown on Saturday afternoon.

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

For the first time since the inception of the new playoff format back in 2013, there is a new Div. 1 South champion.

On Friday night, Catholic Memorial went into Westwood and defeated five-time defending sectional champion Xaverian, 25-14, to clinch their first Super Bowl appearance since 1978. In just his first year as head coach John DiBiasio has already instantly turned the Knights into a state-wide contender. As became typical of his teams at Everett, DiBiaso's Knights have played their best football late in the season. Catholic Memorial is now winners of their last five games.

In the Div. 1 Super Bowl, the Knights will take on St. John's Prep who also claimed its first sectional crown with a 21-0 shutout win over Central Catholic. Trent Tully continued his big postseason rushing for a pair of touchdowns while Matt Crowley became the single-season record holder for passing yards in program history. The Eagles defense finished with six sacks.

Elsewhere, King Philip proved even when facing a fourth quarter deficit on the road in the amidst of miserable November conditions they still have the capability of putting it all together. Trailing Mansfield 7-3 to begin the final frame, the Warriors went on an 11-play, 51-yard drive capped off by a Robert Jarest one-yard keeper to earn their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance.

Tewksbury overcame an early 14-0 deficit to Danvers thanks to three touchdowns by Jay Connolly to win the Div. 3 North title. North Andover had arguably the surprise of the weekend not in terms of victory, but magnitude as they handled defending Div. 2 North champion Lincoln-Sudbury with ease, 42-0.

For the second time this season St. John's took down its crosstown rival in Shrewsbury, this time by a score of 42-13 to claim the Div. 3 Central crown. The Pioneers are now set for a rematch with Springfield Central, the Div. 3 West champion, in the state semi-finals.

On Thursday, Cohasset completed its road run through Div. 7 South as they dominated the second half to defeat Abington, 33-16.

In Div. 8, West Bridgewater and Pope John proved they are the class of Eastern Mass while Hoosac Valley showed that experience pays dividends as they knocked off top-seeded Lee in overtime to win their second straight district title.

Now, here are our top performers from sectional final weekend.

Robert Jarest, Sr., QB, King Philip

Jarest was clutch down the stretch for King Philip, rushing twice for 19 yards, firing a 12-yard completion, and coming through with a game-winning one yard sneak as the Warriors clinched their third consecutive Super Bowl berth with a 10-7 win over Mansfield.

Jay Connolly, Sr., QB, Tewksbury

Trailing 14-0, Connolly brought Tewksbury back. Connolly threw for 142 passing yards and a touchdown to go with two more scores on the ground including a back-breaking 61-yard touchdown run as the Redmen defeated Danvers, 28-21, to claim the Div. 3 North title.

Christian Keeling, Sr., RB/DB, West Bridgewater

Keeling did it all for West Bridgewater carrying the ball 31 times for 281 yards and three touchdowns while also forcing a pair of turnovers as the Wildcats defeated Coyle & Cassidy, 47-28, to win the Div. 8 South title.

Jan Pena-Ortiz, Sr., RB, Gloucester

It was pick-your-poison with the Gloucester backfield on Friday with Pena-Ortiz leading a rushing attack that accounted for 453 yards on the ground. The junior back finished with 16 carries for 185 yards and two touchdowns as Gloucester cruised past Wayland, 35-6, to win the Div. 5 North title.

Gabe DeSouza, Sr., ATH, North Andover

DeSouza was the catalyst in North Andover's romp over Lincoln-Sudbury in the Div. 2 North Final. The senior had a pair of interceptions, including one he returned for a 35-yard score, to help lead the Scarlet Knights to a 42-0 victory and an appearance in the Div. 2 Super Bowl.

Richie Broni, Jr., RB/DB, Nipmuc

Broni rushed 30 times for 172 yards while also adding a red zone interception as Nipmuc defeated Northbridge, 14-6, to win its third straight Div. 5 Central title.

Zach Mitchell, So., RB, Catholic Memorial

Mitchell sparked Catholic Memorial's offense on Friday night, rushing for 167 yrds and a touchdown on just eight carries as the Knights dethroned Xaverian, 25-14, to take home Div. 1 South crown.

Will Prouty, Jr., WR/DB, Duxbury

Prouty contributed on both sides of the ball for Duxbury in its sectional final win over Hingham. The junior hauled in a fourth quarter touchdown reception while also intercepting a pass at the goal-line with two minutes remaining as Duxbury defeated the Harbormen, 21-6, to claim the Div. 3 South crown.

Will Sheskey, Jr., RB, Scituate

Scituate's top offensive skill threat did a little bit of everything on Friday night in helping to lift the Sailors to a sectional title. Sheskey finished with 236 total yards and a pair of touchdowns as Scituate defeated Canton, 21-0, in the Div. 5 South Final.

Eamonn Dennis, Jr., RB, St. John's Shrewsbury

After missing time due to an ankle injury, Dennis returned to form on Saturday afternoon rushing for 108 yards on eight carries and three touchdowns as St. John's Shrewsbury took down rival Shrewsbury, 41-23, to win its second straight Div. 3 Central title.

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