WRENTHAM — The dogged determination by the King Philip Regional High football team was on triumphant display at Macktaz Field Friday night.
As has been the script for success through the seasons, it began with head coach Brian Lee and defensive coordinator Matt Wassel.
The resiliency by the Warriors was such that they limited Attleboro High to merely one first down through three quarters in their Hockomock League game and yielded just 56 net yards overall to the Bombardiers in securing a 14-0 victory.
King Philip senior quarterback Robbie Jarest guided the Warriors on a 56-yard scoring drive late in the second quarter, with Sam Callanan scoring from a yard out with 30 seconds left before halftime.
Jarest then engineered a weather-defying 60-yard, 16-play drive that consumed the initial 8:55 of the second half, capping it by completing a 12-yard scoring strike to Brian Wassersug.
“Somehow we play really good defense,” KP coach Brian Lee said. “The kids take pride in what they’re doing. Those are KP kids, you put them in the right spots and Coach Wassel is excellent. We’ve been together 15 years.”
Even without the presence of 387-yard rusher Ryan Halliday (injured thumb) and 260-pound two-way tackle Nolan Gunning (leg), KP made plays on both sides of the ball.
The Warriors’ defensive front with Pat Zarba, Shawn Conniff, Owen Doherty and Jack Collentro limited AHS to gains of three yards or less on 12 of its 19 rushing plays. And when KP needed a pass rush to prevent AHS QB Jason Weir of mounting a fourth quarter rally, Nick Viscusi knocked down a first down pass and Conniff made a big fourth down rush to force the Bombardiers to surrender possession of the ball on downs.
“They battle, I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Lee said. “We knew it would be tough. AHS is big and physical.”
The Bombardiers (3-2) lost senior two-way tackle Qualeen Charles (season-ending broken wrist) late in the second quarter, but lost out on opportunities to control their own destiny throughout the first half.
“They’re a good football team, they’re well-coached, but we shot ourselves in the foot early,” AHS coach Mike Strachan said. “We had field position, we had the game at hand.”
The Bombardiers began their second (at the KP 43) and third (at the KP 36) series of the first half not just across the midfield stripe, but with the wind at their backs.
KP foiled AHS’ first series, on the second play no less when Viscusi, a sophomore, intercepted a Bombardier pass along the right sideline.
On AHS’ second series, Conniff dropped a Bombardier for no gain on third down to force a punt.
On AHS’ third series, the Bombardiers were whistled for four consecutive offensive line infractions, then Callanan sacked Weir for a five-yard loss on the next play.
The Bombardiers never dented the KP 30-yard line during the first half. And in the second half, AHS netted just eight yards rushing and completed just two passes. Starting drives at its own 40, 25 and 30 yard lines, the Bombardiers never crossed midfield in the second half.
During KP’s second scoring drive, Jarest completed four of six passes for 46 yards — converting a third down pass to Andrew McKinney (for 10 yards); rushing for two yards on fourth down to notch a first down; and completing a 20-yard pass to Alex Behling, advancing the ball to the AHS 1-yard line.
Jarest was just as dazzling during KP’s first TD drive, completing a 24-yard pass to sophomore tight end Drew Danson, advancing the ball to the AHS 14-yard line and then bolting for seven yards behind Dan Mullen and Wyatt Manzi, the left side of the Warriors’ offensive line for a first down.
“We had a hard time getting the run game going,” Lee said of the Warriors netting just 20 ground yards in the first half before sophomore Crawford Cantave picked up 56 yards during the second half. “The wind, the weather was tough.”
We’ll be back at practice Saturday morning at 8, we just have to out-work everybody.”