Saturday, December 1, 2018

Stoneham Grinds out D6 Title Win against Old Rochester

Photo by Brendan C. Hall
By Andrew Bowman (@andrew_bowman5)

Foxboro, Mass. - It was a night of celebration for the Stoneham Spartans, who took home their first State Championship in school history, beating the Old Rochester Bulldogs 26-20.

Down two points late in the fourth quarter, Stoneham was driving down the field after a 20-yard rush by Christos Argyropoulos and a 16-yard catch by Thomas Pizzi. On the next play, however, quarterback Argyropoulos mishandled the lateral and the Bulldogs recovered. Just a few seconds later, Old Rochester turned the ball over and Stoneham had another chance to take the lead.

And they did just that. Argyropoulos, who was determined to make up for his earlier fumble, took the ball 42 yards to the house, and the Spartans took a six point lead with three minutes to go.

“Coach always says if something bad happens, just forget about it,” Argyropoulos said about his game-winning play. “I did the best I could do on the next play, he trusted me with the ball, and I ended up getting to the endzone.”

“That was an absolutely heroic performance and a heroic run by him to close out the game,” Stoneham coach Bob Almeida said of his senior running back. “He was really hurting, and to come through with that run was special. Someone’s going to get a really good college player with him.”

Old Rochester had a chance to get down the field, but Desmond Dias fumbled, and Stoneham ran out the clock for its first ever state title.

“It was an incredible game, either team could have won,” coach Almeida said after the win. “I’m so proud of our kids. They came through when they needed to.

The Spartans came out of the gates with their ground and pound run game, running the ball down the field and taking an early 6-0 lead off an 11-yard run from Seth Russell. Tyler Noe responded with a 58-yard touchdown catch from Cole McIntyre. Noe finished with 100 total yards and the score.

The only second quarter score came off a 1-yard run from Stoneham quarterback Deshawn Chase. The junior finished with just 24 passing yards, but added 42 yards on the ground. Both teams had a couple chances to score, but turnovers left Stoneham with a 12-7 lead at the half.

Late in the third, Old Rochester started to make their comeback. With 3:05 to go, Desmond Dias scored on an 8-yard run, which was set up by a 25-yard catch by Bryce Afonso. The Bulldogs then went for an onside kick, and recovered. Just 30 seconds later, McIntyre launched a 47-yard touchdown pass to Adam Breault, and Old Rochester held a 20-12 lead. To end the quarter, Stoneham’s Chris Dragone punched one in from two yards out to make it a two-point game.

“We didn’t love the fact that we had a situation of our own on that,” coach Almeida said. “They were very aggressive on special teams, that play worked for them, but we got a couple other breaks of our own. We were fortunate to prevail in the end.”

Then Christos Argyropoulos did what he’s been doing all season for the Spartans, and brought the state championship trophy home to Stoneham.

“This means the world to me, I’ve always wanted to be here and play in this game.” Argyropoulos said after the win. “Finally, my senior year we were able to do it, and there’s no better feeling.”

“This is the greatest feeling in the world,” Almeida said after the win. “I’ve never experienced anything like this in sports. I couldn’t be happier and I couldn’t be prouder.”

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