FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In preparing for Saturday’s EMass 2A championship game, Duxbury’s seniors -- how many few there are on a youthful roster of nearly 80 -- spoke of one thing.
“Let’s be perfect,” senior Kane Haffey said, "let’s be perfect.”
The Green Dragons are. It’s because Haffey and fellow quarterback Matt O’Keefe nearly were.
Following its strong-armed duo to big play after big play, Duxbury buried Concord-Carlisle in the second half of a 35-13 victory, throwing to all corners of Gillette Stadium for their third Super Bowl title and 13-0 season in six years.
Following their usual formula under center, Haffey and O’Keefe alternated turns slicing up a vaunted Patriots defense that entered allowing fewer than 13 points per game. Haffey completed 7-of-11 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns, and O’Keefe, a junior, also threw for two scores on 5-of-8 passing for 124 yards.
At one point, they combined to complete 8-of-9 passes between the second and third quarters, throwing seven straight times and connecting on three scores in that span. The two biggest ones came in the third after Concord-Carlisle’s Max Barrett pulled in a six-yard touchdown pass with 4:55 left to slice Duxbury’s lead to 14-13.
On the ensuing drive, Haffey completed three straight passes of 13, 33 and 14 yards, respectively, the last going for a touchdown 39 seconds after Concord-Carlisle had scored. After the Patriots (10-3) turned it over on downs, O’Keefe then completed two of three passes himself, including a 40-yard run-and-catch touchdown to Don Webber with 2:07 left in the quarter.
A two-point conversion to Seamus Connelly pushed Duxbury’s lead to 16 and all but deflated Concord-Carlisle in what felt like only moments.
“I was talking in our locker room at halftime with our running back Harry Buonagurio, (and) he was saying, ‘You’ve got 20 minutes left as a high school football player. Take this team on your back, take it down next drive we get the ball and put it in the end zone,’” Haffey said. “I was just having fun. I wanted to have fun in my last high school football game.”
Duxbury made it look fun. Webber finished with 124 receiving yards on four caches, Reilly Naton recovered the Dragons’ first touchdown on a blocked punt by Denis Maguire and Duxbury’s quarterbacks did the rest.
“They’re both great leaders and they understand the offense, they understand what we’re trying to accomplish when we’re out there, and they execute,” Duxbury coach David Maimaron said. “ It speaks to the character of the kid because most places, you couldn’t alternate kids at that position without egos getting in the way, and those two kids are just perfect gentleman and support each other the entire season. That’s why it works.”
The final score doesn’t show how close Concord-Carlisle came to making it a game. The Patriots gained 326 yards to Duxbury’s 373, converted more third downs (7-3) and actually finished with more first downs (15-13).
But despite George Craan’s 149 rushing yards on 32 carries, Concord-Carlisle couldn’t solve Duxbury’s defense late in drives, four times stalling inside the Dragons’ 35-yard line. Four Concord-Carlisle drives also ended on downs.
“It’s a credit to Duxbury,” Patriots coach Mike Robichaud. “What we haven’t seen really all year was kind of the overall speed. … Against many teams, this year -- not that they weren’t good teams --- but they didn’t have the overall quickness of the football (of Duxbury). They were obviously really well prepared.”
Still, Concord-Carlisle often responded.
After Denis Maguire burst through the line untouched to block the punt that Naton jumped on in the end zone with 8:39 left in the second, Peter George connected with Evan Boynton on a 37-yard strike. Craan carried the load from there, rushing the ball five straight times and capping it with a 14-yard sweep to the left pylon.
O’Keefe connected with Andrew Buron on a 9-yard pass to put Duxbury back up. The Patriots responded, setting up an excellent chance to tie it before halftime after Tim Badgley’s 60-yard run put them on the Duxbury 30-yard line. But Henry Bumpus couldn’t handle a 11-yard throw inside the end zone, and the junior nearly hauled in a touchdown on the next play but was hit as he caught it, forcing the ball loose as the quarter expired.
Concord-Carlisle got that score on their first drive of the third, but only before Duxbury scored 21 unanswered points to end it.
Even scarier, just 13 Green Dragons graduate from this team.
“We’re going to have some great leadership again,” Haffey said. “I think being here this year for them is going to be great learning experience for them next year. I think they’re going to want it just as much.”
DUXBURY 35, CONCORD-CARLISLE 13
Duxbury 0 14 15 6 -- 35
Concord-Car. 0 7 6 0 -- 13
D -- Reilly Naton recovered blocked punt (Tucker Hannon kick).
CC -- George Craan 14-yard run (Evan Boynton kick).
D -- Andrew Buron 17-yard pass from Matt O’Keefe (Hannon kick).
CC -- Max Barrett 6-yard pass from Peter George (pass fail).
D -- Matt Hallisey 14-yard pass from Kane Haffey (Hannon kick).
D -- Don Webber 40-yard pass from O’Keefe (Seamus Connelly pass from Hannon).
D -- Webber 39-yard pas from Haffey (kick blocked).
Records: D 13-0; CC 10-3.