NORTON — The immediate goal is to beat the Mustangs in Medway Saturday morning.
The second goal is to win the Tri-Valley League’s Small School Division championship.
The third is to qualify for the MIAA playoffs.
All are within grasp for the Norton High football team.
“There are still a lot of games to be played, but you have two teams that don’t have a loss in the division, so the winner has the ability to control its own destiny,” Norton High coach Jim Artz said before putting the Lancers through a soggy practice session Wednesday.
The Lancers are 2-2 overall (2-0 in the TVL Small School Division), having earned a dramatic victory in overtime against previously unbeaten Dover-Sherborn last weekend. Medway is 1-2 overall (1-0 in the TVL), coming off of a 28-0 shellacking of Millis.
“Last week we played sloppy, had a lot of penalties, we missed assignments, we missed tackles,” Artz recounted from a review of game film. “Sometimes you play badly and you win — it’s a blessing and we’ll take it. It’s definitely a confidence boost for the kids going into a game like this.”
Lancer senior running back Dolan Wilkie saw appreciable playing time and responded with three TDs and the game-winning conversion rush, while senior linebacker Matt O’Keefe created two of the Lancers’ four takeaways with a pair of interceptions.
“Medway is a good football team and they have a good quarterback (senior Drew Plunkett),” Artz added. “He’s skilled enough to throw the ball and he’s also very adept with his legs.”
Kickoff at Medway is at 11 a.m., which poses its own special considerations for wake-up times and an early bus departure. “This game means a lot, so our kids don’t need a wake-up call from me,” Artz explained. “And having the extra day of practice always helps.”
Artz is looking for a balanced running attack, with Jack Patalano, Jahvon Morson and Wilkie to complement some throws by senior QB Colin Cochrane. “Last week we depended on the run too much, and we still have a lot of guys who go both ways. We need to be more balanced this week.”
New Bedford at Bishop Feehan
The good news is that the Shamrocks are coming off of a win, it’s Homecoming 2019, and senior two-way end Caleb Fauria will be in the lineup at McGrath Stadium. The bad news is that the Shamrocks will be hosting an explosive, unbeaten (4-0) New Bedford High team Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
The Whalers are off to their first 4-0 start since 1995, and senior running back Nygel Palmer has scored nine touchdowns thus far. “There’s no letup, it’s a battle every week no matter who you play and he’s the best back we’ve faced,” coach Bryan Pinabell said of the Shamrocks’ challenge. “They’re huge up front, they have some studs.”
The task for the Shamrocks will be to sustain drives and keep the Whalers offense off the field. “They’re a spread offense, which is a lot different from the team (Malden Catholic wing-T) that we faced last week,” Pinabell said. “We have to find ways (to move the ball on offense), we can’t run right at them. We’ll have to play our best and hope that they put the ball on the ground.”
Dighton-Rehoboth at Apponequet
It’s been a one-possession season for the winless Falcons: being within a TD of Canton, Somerset Berkley and Plymouth South at halftime, then losing a one-point game in OT against Old Rochester, after being unable to convert a potential game-winning conversion rush.
“We’ve played hard until the very end in every game, the kids have been giving us their best,” D-R coach Dave Moura said. It’s come down to a missed block or tackle here and there, a one-yard gain instead of a four-yard gain, a dropped pass, being unable to convert a third-down situation.
Unbeaten (4-0) Apponequet has posted 112 points (68 more than D-R in four games) and has, perhaps, the premier running back in the SCC in junior Kevin Hughes (six TDs, averaging 160 ground yards per game). “He’s one of the best,” Moura said. “They beat a good Old Rochester team, they beat Middleboro, they’re very well-balanced and they’re all two- or three-year starters.”
Case at Seekonk
The Cardinals may be unbeaten (4-0), but Seekonk coach Vernon Crawford surmises that is deceptive in consideration of their competition. “I’m not sure if some of the teams they’ve played have been challenging.” The Warriors (3-1) routed Wareham (with three takeaways) last weekend, while Case topped winless Fairhaven by 36 points.
Seekonk has scored 176 points thus far, and Crawford figures that his passing attack, with T.J. Morgan and Nathan Clarke and the running by Jack Murphy (66 yards last week), will be a tough package for Case to defend. “Playing the game at home, we’ll be ready, we’ll be fine,” Crawford said in exuding confidence in his team.
Seekonk bolted out to a 14-0 lead last year against Case, and Crawford envisions another quick start. “We’re just trying to get to 1-0 this week; wins count at this time of the season,” Crawford said of potentially winning an SCC title and qualifying for the MIAA playoffs. “Every game is important, every win is important, — our kids will be pumped up to play at home.”
Bristol-Plymouth at Tri-County
An afternoon up on the home hill with playoff implications — “You look at this game and what’s down the road, and the kids are really focused into it,” Kahn Chase, the Tri-County coach said of his Cougars (2-2), who will be meeting the Craftsmen (1-3) in a Mayflower League game with a 1 p.m. kickoff.
“Two of the teams that we’ve played, Cardinal Spellman and Case, are a combined 8-0, so it’s pretty clear that if we win these next three games, that would be our first league championship in three years. That’s been our goal, and then to get into the playoffs,” Chace added.
The Cougars surrendered just two points in two games, against South Shore Voke and Cape Cod Tech, “and we held Spellman to their least amount of yards this season,” Chace said. “Our defense is getting better. And with some of our big guys on the line, and if the weather is what it is, in the mud on our field, we should be able to hold our own.”