Boston High School: Dan Gilmore

The View from No. 10 Mansfield

November, 10, 2011
MANSFIELD, Mass. -- In last year's edition of Mansfield-North Attleborough, the Hornets put down the Red Rocketeers at Community Field.

In this year's matchup, to be played Friday (6:30) at Mansfield High, North will be looking to repay the favor against the No. 10 Hornets. No matter what the year, no matter what their records, the matchup is one of the highlights to the Massachusetts high school football season and typically has postseason implications within the Hockomock League. This year is no different.

We caught up with Mansfield's six senior captains on Thursday to take at both sides of the ball in our game of the week:

"The Offense" - Blayne Kelley, George Busharis and Greg Donahue

"The Defense" - Zach Schafer, Dan Gilmore and Nick Leonard

Recap: No. 11 Mansfield 34, Barnstable 33 (OT)

October, 29, 2011

MANSFIELD, Mass. – For a time, Mansfield’s second-stringers lined up against Barnstable’s first-teamers in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game.

Then, what Hornets head coach Mike Redding aptly called “a playoff game with no implications” turned into exactly that after the Red Raiders put up 17 unanswered fourth-quarter points to tie the game 27-27.

In the end, No. 11 Mansfield survived with a 34-33 victory in overtime, running their record to 7-1. It was more of the usual from perhaps the state’s most entertaining team.

“Well, we hadn’t done overtime yet this season,” Redding commented on the Hornets’ rash of close shaves this year. “It’s always something.”

The Hornets held a three-score lead as late as the three minute mark of the fourth quarter.

But Barnstable junior quarterback Nick Peabody engineered two quick touchdown drives, both culminating in passing scores to Tedaro France. After Terrence Mudie’s recovery of an on-side kick, the Red Raiders (4-4) moved the ball down the field once more, setting up Tom Mullen’s 26-yard field goal, tying the game with 31 seconds remaining.

Peabody kept the momentum rolling into overtime, punching in a 10-yard touchdown on the first play of the extra session. Playing for the win, Peabody rolled right on a bootleg on the ensuing 2-point try, but Mansfield defensive back Matt Barsomian batted down the pass.

“In our minds, they had missed the two PATs early, so we thought they were going for two anyway,” Barnstable head coach Chris Whidden said of the decision to go for two. “We thought our best chance to win was to go for two, but they made a play.”

Greg Donahue scored on a 5-yard run to tie the score once again and Matt Bukuras chipped in the point-after try for the win.

“The good thing is that we found a way to hang in there and win in the end,” Redding said. “The bad is all those little things that let them hang around and come back and haunt you.”

No doubt both sides played their hardest, but both sides realized there’s more to the season than the non-league matchup. So Friday’s battle could serve well for both teams chances as they face critical league challenges in the coming weeks.

Barnstable, for one, has a penultimate Old Colony League contest with No. 3 Bridgewater-Raynham next week. And Mansfield hopes to close out a Hockomock large division title with two more victories.

“We wanted to get our kids out and gear up for Franklin and North [Attleborough],” Redding said, “but that backfired.”

Nonetheless, Barnstable can take with it the confidence of hanging with one of the state’s premiere programs year after year while building confidence in Peabody, who’s filled in admirably in D.J. Crook’s absence. After a slow start in the first half, when Barnstable had just 18 offensive snaps, Peabody was able to move the chains when it counted most.

“He’s proved that he’s a high quality quarterback,” Whidden said of Peabody. “That’s one position that we knew, coming into the year, that we had a lot of depth. But we just weren’t aware how good he could be and we didn’t realize we were going to have to use him.”

Whether its Theo France in the running game or Tedaro France streaking down field to snatch a pass, the Red Raider brothers pose matchup problems for opposing defenses.

On Friday night, it was the younger France stealing the show.

“Tedaro’s a playmaker and he wants the ball in his hands,” Whidden said. “He’s proven that he’s a kid that we have to find a way to get the ball into his hands. Nick [Peabody] was a receiver before he became our quarterback, so he developed the rapport before he played that position and know it’s paid off.”

Although they had problems containing the Hornets rushing duo of Donahue and Blayne Taylor at times, the Red Raider defense made some significant plays down the stretch that shouldn’t be ignored.

Defensive lineman Jason Freih (2 sacks) was a disruptive force throughout and recovered a fumble that set up Barnstable’s second touchdown of the fourth quarter.

Barnstable (4-4) 0 3 7 17 6 -- 33
Mansfield (7-1) 6 6 8 7 7 -- 34

1st quarter
M - Greg Donahue 2-yard run (kick failed)

2nd quarter
B - Tom Mullen 25-yard field goal
M - Mike Blackman 11-yard pass from George Busharis (kick failed)

3rd quarter
M - Zach Schafer 22-yard pass from Busharis (Dan Gilmore pass from George Busharis)
B - Hayden Murphy 23-yard run (Mullen kick)

4th quarter
M - Mike Farrell 6-yard run (Matt Bukuras kick)
B - Tedaro France 49-yard pass from Nick Peabody (Mullen kick)
B - Tedaro France 28-yard pass from Peabody (Mullen kick)
B - Mullen 26-yard field goal

B - Peabody 10-yard run (pass failed)
M - Donahue 5-yard run (Matt Bukuras kick)

One memorable comeback for Mansfield

December, 4, 2010

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Jamel Marshall threw one and ran for two touchdowns, the last with 1:07 left in the game, after their third attempt in five minutes, leading Mansfield to a second half, 22-point come from behind win, 29- 26, to seize the Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

“Maybe somebody someone’s looking down on us,” Mansfield head coach Mike Redding said. “Or we’re doing the right things, but we got a third chance, and finally, we were able to get it in.”

With 1:32 left in the game, Reading’s (12-1) Sean Gildea picked off Mansfield quarterback George Busharis at the Reading 1. Leading 26-20, Reading had the opportunity to run out the clock. Seems simple enough, but Reading coach John Fiore is not a fearful man. He gambles.

He felt fine having quarterback Brian Bourque throw up a shot on second and 10, but junior defensive back Dan Gilmore was buzzing and snagged the bullet at the 22, then shot the sideline back to the Reading two, giving Mansfield (13-0) an unprecedented third shot at the end zone in the last five minutes with 1:10 left in the game.

“That was an amazing catch,” Busharis said. “Amazing grab. Probably the play of the game.”

“We were probably a little too aggressive on our own goal line,” Fiore said. “We were thinking about putting the game away late.”

After the helter skelter pace, Marshall law was ordered. He dove into the end zone behind the left side of his line for the go ahead score with 1:07 left on the clock.

“I knew we were down,” Marshall said. “And I knew we had to score."

For the extra point, Marshall (18 carries, 91 yards) continued his sworn duty to Mansfield, taking the pitch left, and decided that he’d bring a few Reading players in the end zone with him for the point after, making the game 28-26.

““I am always going to give the extra effort,” added Marshall. “That’s just what I do. I don’t really want to go down after the first person hits me. That’s probably why [coach] gave it to me.”

The onside kick by Dave Eberhart (3 PATs) was kicked directly at a first line Reading player, but it hit him and bounced back towards the Hornets. Mansfield’s Ken Barsomian recovered the ball at the Reading 43, but unable to complete the first down, Mansfield gave up the ball with three seconds to go. Reading tried a last minute reverse pass, but the ball fell dead, sealing the honey-flavored win for the Hornets.

“It’s a dream come true,” Eberhart said. “We’ve been waiting ever since Pop Warner; sixth grade, eighth grade, working hard in the off season…the running…all of it makes it worthwhile now.”

For those of you who left at halftime…

If all you saw was the first half of the game, you may think that the final score was a product of the "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", but this was the manifestation of a 13-0 team that has the resolve to win. No matter what.

Down 26-7 at the half, with Reading getting the ball back to begin the second, Mansfield was facing a double uphill battle, having no momentum after giving up two touchdowns in the last 1:01 of the second quarter. According to Redding, the seniors set the tone for the second half.

“’Hey, we got twenty minutes,’” Redding said of his seniors’ halftime speech. “’We’re at Gillette, we’re a good football team, we’ve just got to get stops.’ They did more of the talking than we did.”

Beginning the second half from their 25, Reading ran four straight plays for positive yardage and the first down from the 35. Then something happened. Senior Joseph Oram sounded the horn and the Hornets swarmed.

“We’ve been there before,” said Oram, referring to his freshman year when the team was losing to North Attleborough in the first half, since this today’s game was the only time this year Mansfield fought from behind. “That’s all I could think about.”

Oram (five tackles) smacked Reading quarterback Brian Bourque for a 3-yard loss on first down. Then Bourque passed to Gildea for no yardage. On third and 11, Mansfield defensive lineman Mike Mallon Jr. (three tackles, sack) rocked Bourque for a three-yard loss, bringing up fourth and 15 from the 30. Brian Bourque’s 48-yard punt was downed at the Mansfield 32.

Then, the Hornets went to the air.

Hill (5 receptions, 191 yards) pulled in the 68-yard play action pass from George Busharis (8-14, 231 yards, TD) to put Mansfield on the board with 5:49 left in the third quarter and Dave Eberhart’s extra point made the game 26-14.

“Hill didn’t practice well,” Redding said. “[He] was the key when we got the first stop.”

“Jamel’s one of the best backs in the state,” Hill said of Reading biting the fake that left him open. “If they see him get the ball, they’re coming up for the run.”

On the following drive, Reading made one play for positive yardage, an Anthony DeSimone (10-58) 12 yard run on third and 18.The stop on DeSimone by Oram left Reading with their first three and out series on the day, as the last two Reading four down series had led to six points.

Hill, who also caught a 47-yard touchdown pass in the first half, reeled in another long ball for 54 yards, setting up on the Reading five yard line. Then the Marshall laid down the law, running left and meeting two defenders at the three, but muscled his arm and the ball past the plane to put Mansfield within five, and Eberhart’s steady boot put the game within 5 at 26-21.

On the ensuing kickoff, a Mansfield off sides penalty put the ball on the Reading 46, and DeSimone, always looking for a seam to rip, found one and rumbled into Mansfield territory.

After another first down and two runs by DeSimone, Reading faced third and nine from the 15, but Eberhart was on the hunt and got a pick at the 17.

“He lobbed it,” said Eberhart, “and I snagged it.”

Mansfield marched down to the Reading 9, but faced fourth and goal from the two; Busharis had time in the pocket but could not find an open receiver, turning over the ball with 5:08 left in the game.

Reading was then charged with holding onto the ball and maintaining the lead, but a third down right screen pass from Bourque to Zack Bates was deflected by Mansfield’s Zack Schafer (four tackles), forcing a punt. Mansfield again put together a drive, this a five play, thirty yarder, but Busharis threw another pick, this one intercepted by Reading’s Gildea, to no avail for the Rockets.

“We knew we had it the whole way,” said senior Kyle McGuire, donning a bloody nose bridge. “It’s all about being a team. You can’t give up, that’s what this shows you.”

R 6 20 0 0 -- 26
M 7 0 14 8 -- 29

1st Qtr

R - Nick Scali 11 run (kick failed)
M -Jeff Hill 47 pass from Jamel Marshall (Dave Eberhart kick)

2nd Qtr

R - Brian Bourque 2 run (pass failed)
R - Scali 32 pass from Bourque (Scali pass from Bourque)
R - Bourque 18 run (PAT failed)

3rd Qtr
M - Hill 68 pass from Busharis (Eberhart kick)
M - Marshall 5 run (Eberhart kick)

4th Qtr
M - Marshal 2 run (Marshall rush)

Halftime Inspiration Re-Fuels Mansfield

December, 4, 2010

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Mansfield High School's three turnovers in the first half resulted in three Reading High School scores, and Reading led 26-7 at halftime. It looked as though all hope was lost for the Mansfield Hornets.

Yet Mansfield coach Michael Redding came in at halftime and delivered an emotional speech, urging the Hornets to believe -- and they did. Redding's Hollywood-style motivational speech inspired Mansfield to a captivating 29-26 comeback in the fourth quarter.

Redding told his team to "never give up, and never surrender", creating a storybook ending in the Division 2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

Early in the second half the Hornets' defense stepped up first. Defensive linemen Kyle McGuire and Mike Mallon Jr. forced consistent pressure on Reading's Brian Bourque -- something that was missing in the first half.

Reading went three and out on the second drive of the second half, and punted away to the Hornets. Then it was the offense's turn to take the reigns.

Mansfield's offensive unit took the momentum and struck on a 68-yard touchdown pass from quarterback George Busharis to Jeff Hill, and made the score 26-14.

"Once we got to 14, we all said 'hey we have a ball game'," Redding said about the score. "The kids started believing and we just started playing great defense."

In the second half alone, Mansfield had 241 yards to Reading's 54. While running back Jamel Marshall was a key to the comeback, Busharis put up bigger numbers. In the game Busharis completed 8 of 14 passes for 231 yards (205 in the second half alone) with one touchdown and one interception.

"The first half we just had to forget about -- that wasn't Mansfield football," Busharis said about the first half.

Although clichés usually are looked at as -- well, cliché -- apparently in this comeback they worked.

"We just kept saying it was 20 minutes for the rest of our lives," Mansfield co-captain Sean Otto said, breaking through tears after the win. "I couldn't think of a better way to end my senior year."

And to think it almost didn't happen.

Reading stopped Mansfield on a goal line-stand with 5 minutes, 5 seconds to go in the game. Then the Hornets got the ball back with 3:06 left in the game, and it looked as though it would be their last chance to score. However Busharis through an interception while trying to create the winning score.

Reading was then pinned at the 1-yard line, and couldn't get out of its own end zone. On third down, it looked as thought they would run to get a yard or two and try and run down the clock before a punt. Instead, Bourque was intercepted by Mansfield's Dan Gilmore, and Gilmore took the ball down close to the end zone.

"In practice that play actually beat me," Gilmore said about the interception. "But, I knew I wasn't going to get beat in the game."

Marshal then had a 2-yard touchdown, capping off the exciting comeback.

The 19-point deficit was erased, as Mansfield took a 3-point victory and the Division 2 Championship.

"Just never give up, and never surrender," Gilmore said about the theme of the comeback.