Bishop Feehan_Reading D1 Football

Bishop Feehan High senior quarterback Aidan Crump looks to lead the Shamrocks to a Catholic Central League title in his final game when they take on Bishop Stang High Thursday morning in Dartmouth.

ATTLEBORO — Bryan Pinabell definitely wants his Bishop Feehan High football team to put on its game face before Thursday morning’s bus ride into Dartmouth.

A victory over Bishop Stang High not only would give the Shamrocks victory No. 8 of the season, but would also gain Feehan no less than a share of the Catholic Central League championship.

If St. Mary’s of Lynn loses its Thanksgiving Day game to Austin Prep, then the Shamrocks would own sole possession of the CCL crown. Both Bishop Feehan and St. Mary’s own 5-1 CCL records.

“It’ll be interesting to see how that works out, but the bottom line is that we have to take care of our own business and win at least a share of the title, which would be great for us,” Pinabell said. “The guys are excited to play for an opportunity to win a title.”

The Shamrocks won six of their first seven games, including a victory over MIAA Division 3 playoff semifinalist North Attleboro.

The Shamrocks could very well be unbeaten if not for missed tackles and turnovers resulting in a 14-point loss to St. Mary’s of Lynn, then sluggish first halves in losing a 25-23 Division 2 playoff game to Reading and losing a 28-20 consolation round game to Wellesley.

Truth be told, the Shamrocks could very well have been unbeaten were it not for junior running back Nick Yanchuk suffered a non-surgical MCL injury on the second weekend of the season. Yanchuck, similar to North Attleboro’s Tyler DeMattio, Foxboro’s Dylan Gordon and King Philip’s Ryan Gately was one of the most dynamic players in the area.

“I’m proud of the leadership of this team,” Pinabell said.

The Shamrocks will be just the second foe for the Spartans on Bishop Stang’s new artificial playoff surface. Bishop Stang christened the new field by beating seven-win West Bridgewater in double overtime behind a 300-yard rushing attack spurred on by running back Mike Golden and QB Noah Grigson.

St. Mary’s was in the semifinal round of the Division 6 playoffs against Abington and may not be at full strength for the holiday game.

“We’re definitely re-focused on beating Bishop Stang and getting at least a share of the title,” Pinabell said. “Stang runs that old-time split back formation, their running has kept them in every game. Their (2-9) record is deceiving.”

In the absence of Yanchuk, opportunities arose for junior running back-receiver Connor McHale and junior running back Cam Burns to become prime time contributors — the former being a 1,000-yard multi-purpose performer, the latter becoming a 1,000-yard rusher.

“Losing Nick was tough,” Pinabell said. “We kind of slept-walked through the first half of our game last Friday (against Wellesley), but we got our mo-jo back on the second half and we’ve had good practices.”

Add in the development of senior quarterback Aidan Crump and senior wide receiver-defensive back Aaron Canuel and Bishop Feehan has weapons.

The loss of junior center Sean Finucane to injury earlier in the season did not prevent the development of the offensive and defensive lines with juniors Tristen Upon, Case Mankins, Eddie Cinelli and Jake Gosselin.

“You take away three bad halves and we might be unbeaten, but that’s high school sports,” Pinabell said. “We do have a couple of questions marks going into the off-season, but the entire line will be back. I don’t see this team not being back in a similar position next year.”

Peter Gobis may be reached at 508-236-0375

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