Central Massachusetts Sends Four Teams To Gillette
Thursday, December 05, 2013
This Saturday is Super Bowl Saturday for high school teams. The biggest draw each year for teams is the chance not only to play for a state title, but also the chance to clinch that title on the field at Gillette Stadium. Four teams from Central Massachusetts will get their chance to play at Gillette this year: St. John’s (Shrewsbury) in Division 2, Doherty in Division 4, Northbridge in Division 5 and Littleton in Division 6.
As these four teams prepare for their biggest game on the grandest stage in Massachusetts, the tales of each team’s history is looked at. For Northbridge and St. John’s a Super Bowl appearance is nothing new. The two teams have combined to play in 31 Super Bowl games with St. John’s playing in its fifth consecutive Super Bowl game and Northbridge’s legendary coach Ken LaChapelle will be making his 17th appearance as the coach of the Rams.
Doherty and Littleton, on the other hand, are a bit less seasoned in Super Bowl games. Doherty will be playing in its first Super Bowl since 1980 while Littleton will be returning for the first time since losing back-to-back Super Bowls in 2008-09. A win would mark the first Super Bowl victory for Littleton.
With all the games set for Saturday, we look back at the season that was and the matchup that will be for each team.
St. John's (9-3) vs. Mansfield (12-0)
The Pioneers season started with a bang back in September as they opened the season by squaring-off with Leominster in a huge matchup. Although they dropped that game 33-22, it did not derail their season. Following the loss, St. John’s won nine of its next 10 games, including a stunning revenge win over Leominster in the Division 2 Central Mass. Championship game. The Leominster win carried over into another huge win, this time 37-32 over Springfield Central in the Division 2 State Semifinal. The Pioneers did suffer an upset on Thanksgiving Day, losing 19-7 to St. Peter Marian. Although the loss could be chalked up to the classic “trap-game”, it is something to keep an eye on going into the Super Bowl game with Mansfield.
Throughout the season, quarterback Drew Smiley led the Pioneers with his rare combination of athletic ability and football IQ. Smiley proved to be one of the best quarterbacks in the state, using his strong arm and amazing athletic ability running the ball. Smiley was also a defensive standout for the Pioneers.
For the third time in four games, the Pioneers will be facing an uphill battle as they face the undefeated Mansfield Hornets. Although the Hornets are facing injuries, they are considered by many to be the top team in the state.
Doherty (11-1) vs. Dennis-Yarmouth (10-2)
Doherty has been one of the most exciting offenses to watch in the entire state this season. They averaged 30 points per game through their 12 games while going 11-1 with their only loss being to Leominster mid-season.
Their offense was led by quarterback Luke Brennan, who used his powerful arm to find a trio of standout receivers/tight ends: Isaac Yiadom, Mitch Celaj and Alfred Adarkwah. Yiadom, Celaj and Adarkwah combined to grab 19 touchdowns on the year. Although the Highlanders love to spread teams out and beat them through the air, they also have one of the best running games in the state. When Doherty keeps the ball on the ground with Jahkari Carpenter, it often ends well. Carpenter has run for 1,287 yards and is ridiculously elusive in the open field, and once he gets going not many defenders have the speed to catch him.
The Highlanders will face one of the few offenses that is able to matchup in talent, speed and points. The Dolphins have an array of offensive weapons, meaning this game could be an entertaining shootout.
Northbridge (10-2) vs. Bishop Fenwick (12-0)
The path that Northbridge took to a Super Bowl game was a very fun ride to watch. After dropping two of their first three games, the Rams made a philosophy change and rattled off nine straight wins heading into Saturday.
The Rams are known for their legendary coach Ken LaChapelle and his affinity for running an up-tempo offense through the air. However this season has seen a slight change in LaChapelle’s offense as quarterback Koby Schofer has proved to be a dual-threat quarterback with too much athletic ability to confine him to the pocket. Schofer has run for 1,511 yards and passed for 1,300 more while becoming one of the more talked about players in Massachusetts high school football this year. He totaled 2,811 yards and 33 touchdowns (22 rushing, 11 passing).
The Rams do face a big challenge in Bishop Fenwick though. The Crusaders have an extremely physical front seven and speed at linebacker, which could contain Schofer.
Littleton (12-0) vs. Cohasset (11-1)
Fans of high scoring offenses should arrive at Gillette Stadium early to ensure they see Littleton. The Tigers averaged 40.9 points per game this year as they ran the table in Division 6.
The Tigers are led by a duo of 1,000-yard rushing speedsters, running back Travis Bassett and quarterback Alex McLaughlin. Bassett piled up impressive numbers all year, but none more impressive than 29 total touchdowns and counting. When Bassett and McLaughlin are able to get the edge, defenses better watch out. Both players have breakaway speed and are extremely elusive in the open field.
They will take on a talented Cohasset team that has speed on the outside. The speed that the Skippers will have to be on hyper-drive to stop Littleton though