WRENTHAM — A year ago, the Mansfield High Hornet team beat King Philip Regional High during the regular season, but in the rematch at Alumni Field, the Warriors took a 10-7 victory to earn a berth in the MIAA Div. 2 Super Bowl.
This season, the Hornets escaped from Macktaz Field with a 15-13 victory over a Ryan Halliday-less Warriors’ squad. Friday night’s rematch at the Hornets’ Alumni Field assures that the Hockomock League and Eastern Mass. Division 2 super powers will again have a Super Bowl invite on their minds as they meet in the semifinal round of the MIAA playoffs.
Both teams are 7-1, with the Hornets riding a six-game win streak and having allowed just 47 points over that stretch.
The Warriors are on a four-game victory skein since losing to Mansfield, yielding merely 19 points over the past 16 quarters.
“It certainly makes the game a greater challenge, but we’re glad to see Ryan Halliday back on the field,” Mansfield coach Mike Redding said of the Warriors’ senior running back, who left the game in the first quarter of the teams’ first meeting with a broken finger.
Halliday returned last week and his impact was undeniable as he totaled 108 rushing yards and 34 points for KP, and while stationed at linebacker, the Warriors limited Barnstable to six points and just over 100 net yards of offense.
“Containing him will be a key to the game,” Redding said, “but (QB Robbie) Jarest is also a handful running and throwing the ball, so they’re a lot more balanced now.”
According to Kng Philip coach Brian Lee, having Halliday in uniform does not alter the strategy or game plan much on offense or defense.
“It’s just having a little bit more experience there in the backfield (to go along with sophomore Crawford Cantave and senior Sam Callanan),” Lee said. “He’ll be able to help us. He’s our leader too.”
The Warriors miss senior two-way tackle Nolan Gunning (broken leg). They moved 235-pound senior Dan Mullen from right tackle to Gunning’s spot at left tackle and inserted senior Akram Jaber into the right tackle role.
KP feeds off of its defense and the Warriors’ concerns will be to limit any potential damage on the ground by the Hornets’ stable of running backs Mike DeBolt, Nick Marciano, Cincere Gill and Vinnie Holmes.
“They got dudes back there,” Lee said of the Hornets’ weapons. “To have guys like that is unbelievable, it seems unfair.
“They’re very strong (up front on the offensive line) and they can make big plays, they’re all fast and strong and can break tackles. They can turn something into a huge play, from anywhere on the field.
“Our defense is starting to play better and better. A lot of the sophomores have gotten game confidence and their confidence is up which helps. Having a lot of guys go both ways too is definitely going to be a factor for us — it would be nice to have more depth. We just got to survive in there.”
Redding and the Hornets echo Lee’s sentiments.
“We played hard the first time, but did not execute very well on offense and left some points off the scoreboard that could have put the game away earlier,” Redding said. “We have momentum, confidence and we’re relatively healthy for mid-November, now we just need to show up with our “A” game and get after it.”
Foxboro at Canton
No team this season has scored more points (20) against Canton in a single game than the Foxboro.
“I just think with where we’re at and what’s at stake is motivation enough,” Foxboro coach Jack Martinelli said of his squad’s MIAA Division 5 semifinal playoff game at Canton.
Canton (8-0) is the third-highest scoring offense in the Hockomock League, averaging 27 points per game, and having edged Foxboro 26-20 in their first meeting this season.
“I don’t think it makes it any easier or any more difficult to prepare,” Martinelli said. “They’re not going to see anything different from us and were probably not going to see anything different from them.”
What makes Foxboro formidable is an aggressive defense, with Anton George and Jon Moses on the outside along the line with Caleb Mitchell, Mike Sheehan and Nick Cherry inside. The Warriors limited Norton to under 100 net yards of offense and four pass completions last week in a 21-0 win.
“They have multiple weapons and for as good as they are size and skill wise, I think it’s really their defense that’s propelled them to where they are right now,” Martinelli said. “We have to play our best football, which I think we are at this point,” Martinelli added. “Let the chips fall as they may.”
North Quincy at North Attleboro
At Beaupre Field Saturday afternoon (1 p.m.), the Rocketeers will be bidding for their third victory of the season.
“We had some energy, we could have been ahead at halftime,” North coach Don Johnson said of the Rocketeers’ loss at Dennis-Yarmouth last week.
North Attleboro drove the length of the field on its opening drive, but fumbled at the Dolphins’ 5-yard line. Minus QB Tyler DeMattio (concussion protocol) and the season-long absence of running backs Matt and Jared Penta, the Rocketeers big-play intentions have been reduced.
“It’s a slow process,” Johnson said of DeMattio’s recovery. “North Quincy (0-3 on the road) is a lot like us, average size.”
The Rocketeers have allowing the second-most points (210) in the Hockomock League this season.
“What I liked from last week was that we showed signs of improvement and, hopefully, playing at home will be a bit of an advantage,” Johnson said. “We’ll take any win, any how and anywhere we can get it.”
Attleboro at Norwood
If the Bombardiers (3-5) can get healthy and generate some offense, they might finally realize the potential that coach Mike Strachan had for his team this season.
“I think that we can build off the Franklin game (a 14-0 Division 1 playoff game),” Strachan said. “How we bounced back from the first time that we played them (in a 30-point loss).”
Norwood (3-5) yielded 42 points to Ashland and 35 to Silver Lake in recent games, so the Bombardiers are entertaining the thought of snapping a four-game losing skid, where they have been shut out twice and scored only 14 points through 16 quarters.
“Norwood has some physical kids,” Strachan said, “but once again the key is we have to be able to control our own destiny. We have to be able to move the ball and protect the ball.We’ve been playing a lot of young kids and they’re getting better and playing better. That’s something that we can build off of.
“We’ve had some guys banged up and they’re getting healthier. We still have a lot to play for.”