HOLLISTON, Mass. -- With the Tri-Valley League title on the line, No. 24 Holliston defeated Medway 33-14 on Saturday night at home, using motivation from a matchup earlier in the season when Medway came out the victor.
The two familiar foes battled it out again in the inaugural Tri-Valley League championship game, but Holliston willed its way to victory and used the results of the teams’ previous meeting to keep its focus.
“Revenge is sweet, like they say,” Holliston’s Kevin Curry said after the win. “It’s perfect.”
“The coaches didn’t want to say revenge, but it was definitely building up inside of us,” Holliston quarterback Sean Mayo said. “We wanted another crack at Medway and we got it and took advantage.”
In the teams’ first game, Holliston fought hard to stay even with Medway, but the Mustangs took over in the second half and ended up winning 28-16. However Holliston seized the opportunity of the rematch in the TVL playoffs.
“You play that team ten times and it’s a dogfight all ten times and it can go either way,” Holliston head coach Todd Kiley said. “We just got them this time around, but they outplayed us last time.”
Medway’s offense staggered throughout the game because the team never broke out the big play. The Mustangs’ running attack managed to heat up, but the team did not connect on play-action passes, and couldn’t convert in key situations.
Tailback Michael Ozzella ran the ball 25 times for 158 yards -- including a 28-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter -- but Medway couldn’t catch up because the run game used up too much time.
Kiley said that the Panthers looked at the film from the teams’ Oct. 1 matchup, and took a different approach coming into Saturday night’s game. Holliston did not change its scheme completely, but just altered what they were doing in certain formations.
“They are a sound defensive football team…” Kiley said about Medway. “We thought with different formations we could out-leverage them with some things and the kids did a great job executing it.”
Those changes helped get Holliston’s offense in gear. Curry racked up 143 yards on 20 carries and also had two touchdowns in the game.
“The keys in the run game were getting up to the linebackers,” Curry said. “They have some of the best ‘backers in the league -- the same with their [defensive line], they’re so strong -- so all we had to do was get up to them, and make our blocks.”
The senior running back was elated after the game, as fans came onto the field as Holliston was handed the TVL trophy.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling…it’s absolutely amazing,” Curry added about the setting.
The Panthers set the tone with a good first drive, but more importantly scored on their first three offensive possessions and only gave up seven points in the first half.
The inaugural TVL playoff system got mixed reviews among coaches and players, but Medway has now repeated as league champions.
“I don’t like it.” Medway head coach Dave McSweeney said about the new playoff system. “To not have those non-league games -- I don’t like that -- you have to jump into a tough Tri-Valley schedule right from the beginning -- I like the old system. I’m a traditional guy, I just like the old system.”
“I know there were a lot of coaches who were not in favor of it, but [we said] ‘Let’s embrace this thing, have fun with it, and go out and win it’,” Kiley said about his impressions of the playoffs. “Our kids took that approach and it obviously worked out for us.”
M 0 7 7 0 -- 14
H 6 6 7 7 6 -- 33
H - Mayo 1 run (kick blocked)
H - Curry 10 run (conversion failed)
M - Kevin Moreau 8 run (Joe Davenport kick)
H - Christian Baker 57 catch from Adam Camilli (Camilli kick)
H - Mayo 4 run (conversion good)
M - Ozzella 28 run (Davenport kick)
H - Curry 18 run (conversion failed)