FOXBORO — No football team in the Hockomock League has scored more this season than the North Attleboro High Rocketeers, who have lit up the scoreboard with 144 points.
Meanwhile, no team has been able to score more than a touchdown through three-plus quarters of play against the Foxboro High Warriors.
The Rocketeers posted three straight 40-point performances and are coming off of an eight-point victory over Stoughton High to establish themselves as the lone unbeaten (4-0) team in the Davenport Division of the Hockomock League.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have allowed just one opponent to visit the end zone over the past eight quarters, having won three of four outings this season. Foxboro also put up 77 points in their last two outings against Oliver Ames and Canton.
The two collide Friday in a 5:30 p.m. kickoff at Sam Berns Field where the Davenport Division title will be at stake.
A victory by coach Jack Martinelli and his Warriors would likely create a three-way share of the championship between Foxboro, North Attleboro and Stoughton — all of whom would have one divisional setback.
Other than surrendering a pair of TDs to Stoughton in the final five minutes of its game, the Foxboro defense has not budged, allowing the third-fewest points (34) in the Hockomock League.
“Foxboro is the whole package,” North Attleboro High coach Don Johnson said. “They are balanced on offense with the ability to run-throw 50-50. They are big up front and very physical on defense. They are also great in the kicking game.”
The Rocketeers feature the running and play-making skills of junior quarterback Tyler DeMattio.
“He’s certainly not the only weapon, but he’s the most important one,” Martinelli said of DeMattio. “Seeing that he has the ball on every play, he’s been terrific for two years.”
North Attleboro will have to contend with not only the explosive running of Warrior backs Rashaad Way and Luis Sulham, but Foxboro’s play-making skills in the kickoff and punt return games. Add to that the north-south running of seniors Mike Norvish and Chris McNamara, the run-pass threat of junior Dylan Gordon and the passing of senior QB Cam Prescott to receivers Tom Sharkey and James Stamatos.
“One of the disadvantages of not being able to scout live games is the inability to judge team speed, but on film they seem to have it on both sides of the ball,” Johnson said of the Warriors.
North Attleboro has allowed the fourth-fewest points (38) in the Hockomock League.
DeMattio may be the spoon that stirs the Big Red pot, but he has been aided by a good arsenal of offensive weapons around him in the Penta brothers — Matt and Jared; Jacob Silva, Tom Whalen, Colby Feid, Alex McCoy and Dan Curran.
Foxboro’s defensive front with 6-foot-4 Hockomock League All-Star end Jon Moses and 265-pound Aidan Hughes along with a most active linebacking cast in seniors Trent Rennie and Norvish are all game-changers.
“Our defense has played great, giving up about eight points a game,” Martinelli said. “All 11 of them are pretty physical kids. That’s a natural by-product.
“The return game has been very good for us because of those two kids (Way, Suljam),” Martinelli added of providing good field position for the offense and then forcing foes to a long field in the drive stalls. “They’ve given us good field position
“Our mistakes have to be limited, but that goes for both teams..”
Johnson noted that competing against a physical team such as Foxboro will be challenging because “we are banged up from the physical battle with Stoughton last week. So we are going to need contributions from lots of guys this week.
“Foxboro went toe to toe with Stoughton, so we expect it to be a good ol’ fashion North vs. Foxboro battle.”
No one anticipates anything less.
“I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t one of those old-time North Atlteboro-Foxboro games,” Martinelli. “Whether this game were played in the fall (of 2020) or COVID-19 April, once the whistle blows, it’s old-school Foxboro-North Attleboro.”
Attleboro at Mansfield
For three consecutive weekends, Attleboro has been unable to find its way into the end zone. The Bombardiers hope to end that (7 p.m.) at Mansfield High in a Hockomock League Kelley-Rex Division game.
When AHS coach Mike Strachan and his staff were preparing a Hornets’ game plan, it becomes a question, or questions, of who they have to stop — Cincere Gill? T.J. Guy? Anthony Comer? Matt Boen? Everett Knowlton?, Nico Holmes?
“It’s across the board and everything in between,” Strachan said of the Hornets’ offense, defense and specialty teams. “It’s not just those guys, they have players everywhere.
“We’ve played pretty consistently defensively, but what I want to see us do is continue to try to finish drives,” Strachan added. “We have to be physical.”
Like in their latest outing against Franklin, “we couldn’t capitalize on drives,” Strachan said of the Bombardiers being unable to convert pass interceptions by Alex Bakowski (at the Franklin 28-yard line), a blocked by Anthony Salviati and a Chris Leonardo fumble recovery (at the Franklin 18-yard line).
The Taunton-Attleboro game was scheduled for April 2, postponed due to COVID-19 protocol to April 6 and again postponed. In the meantime, the Bombardiers have added an April 17 date at home against Canton.
Mike Redding and the Hornets hope not to see the flags fly (13 against KP) and execute a bit better, after all the Warriors were shut out Mansfield through the second half.
“Attleboro is playing great defense, but with their offensive struggles they are just giving people too many opportunities to score,” Redding said. “Strachan and (Fred) Wheaton are a great tandem at linebacker and (Chris) Leonardo and (Jake) Struminski are impressive on the line. They have some good young players with good futures.”
Attleboro will likely be minus three starters due to COVID 19 protocol and injuries and Strachan will likely have five sophomores as starters.
“There will be a lot of inexperience on the field and Mansfield is not the team to do that with, but we will suit up 11 players,” Strachan added.
“We haven’t been able to finish, we just can’t put it all together,” Strachan said of finding forward motion between the running backs Kaiden Murray, Mike Strachan, Jr. and Bakowski.
“Other than the fourth quarter at Milford, we’ve been pretty good defensively,” Strachan said. “We are playing good enough, especially on defense to win games.
“We’re very similar to KP, we both struggle with the youngness of our team and our offense.”
The Bombardiers totaled 160 rushing yards against Franklin, while Strachan (14 tackles at linebacker), Ryan Betts (10 tackles at linebacker) and Leonardo (eight tackles at defensive tackle) anchored the defense with Attleboro allowing two TDs to both King Philip and Franklin in their latest two outings.
“We need to finish drives,” Strachan said. “We’ve had opportunities to score, we’ve put ourselves in the right spots, in position. Then something goes wrong – we’ll get a holding penalty on a long run, we block a punt and don’t come away with any points.
“We’re a young football team and we’re getting better. We’re right there,” facing just one TD halftime deficits. Our defense has been strong, it’s been able to keep us in games. We have to get to work on our offense. The effort has been there, the kids are willing to learn. We’re having growing pains. And as I’ve said before there are no easy games in the Hockomock League.”
King Philip at Canton
Brian Lee and his Warriors are much akin to Attleboro in trying to generate some offense and find the end zone.
“I can’t remember when we’ve scored, it’s been so long (a 17-3 win over Attleboro),” Lee said.
The Warriors who have been shut out by both Milford and Mansfield in their last two outings, owned possession of the ball for eight series against Mansfield, but netted just 66 yards (without completing a pass), merely 11 yards during the second half.
Add in eight penalties, a pass interception, a sack, a blocked punt and a bad snap.
“It’s kind of like, we can’t get out of our own way,” Lee said. “We have a lot of young kids, but it’s taking us a while to figure this all out.”
Junior Crawford Cantave had four kickoff returns for 50 yards and junior Jonathan Joseph had an 18-yard punt return against the Hornets. Traveling to Canton for a 4:30 p.m. kickoff Friday might be a remedy as the Bulldogs have yielded the fourth-most points (90) in the Hockomock League.