Boston High School: Nick Sestito

Recap: Oliver Ames 17, Foxborough 9

October, 15, 2011

EASTON, Mass. -- Field position can win an awful lot of football games and Oliver Ames exhibited that in its 17-9 victory over Hockomock Davenport rival Foxborough Friday night at Muscato Stadium.

After the Tigers’ opening drive stalled on Foxborough’s 6-yard line on a fourth-and-goal try, the Warriors promptly returned the ball, fumbling on their first play from scrimmage. OA (4-1) needed just four yards to take an early 7-0 lead.

The Tigers again set up shop inside the red zone on their next possession, after forcing the Warriors (3-3) three-and-out. Dean Soucie’s block and recovery of a Foxborough punt had the Tigers at 14-yard line. Although OA couldn’t make it a two-touchdown lead, Ryan McGrath’s field goal provided an instant 10-0 lead.

“Last week [against King Philip], we didn’t represent ourselves properly,” Tigers head coach Jim Artz said, “and I think, this week, we came out with a little bit more vinegar and a little more nastiness to play the way we’re capable of playing.”

After a Foxborough field goal, OA extended its lead on quarterback Jared Schneider’s second rushing touchdown of the game just before the half. That drive, too, started with the benefit of excellent field position near midfield.

“We came out first drive and didn’t get in, but our defense played great the whole game,” Schneider said. “We knew once we got down there, we’ve got to score every time.”

With the luxury of field position, OA was also able to carry the tempo of the contest. The Tigers pounded the Warriors banged-up line (with two starters lost to injury this week) in the running game with senior running back Sam Langston’s 22 carries for 168 yards.

“Sam [Langston] is amazing,” Schneider said. “I think he’s the best running back in the league, I don’t care what anybody says. He’s run the ball so well all season and he’s carried us down the field.”

Foxborough had chances to come back in the second half, thanks to a couple of interceptions by senior corner Tony Gutierrez, one of which set up the Warriors’ lone touchdown in the fourth.

Warriors quarterback Nick Sestito also exhibited a good touch on the ball, breaking off several big plays while exploiting OA’s Cover-2 defense. Sestito found receivers open on the seam several times, with a couple of those balls directed toward physical 6-foot-4 split end Noah Cronin. The Warriors also have a nice complement to Cronin with shifty receiver Greg Stamatov (the Villanova-bound lacrosse goaltender) working underneath.

“He’s our Wes Welker,” Foxborough head coach Jack Martinelli said of Stamatov. “He’s just able to get open.”

However, the opportunities the Warriors had to gash the Tigers up the middle eventually ebbed away.

“We were being too aggressive with our pressure up front, too,” Artz said. “We changed up our looks and that helped.”

Artz made several mentions to the team’s dissatisfaction with their effort in a 28-13 loss to King Philip last week. It should have been a statement game for the Tigers (Stoughton over Mansfield, anybody?), but OA got behind the 8-ball early and wasn’t able to get into their game plan.

“We felt we weren’t able to utilize our ground game last week because of the way the game developed because we fell behind so quickly,” Artz said.

The Tigers were able to assert their will on the patchwork Warriors line behind hulking 6-foot-9, 300-pound right tackle Keith Sullivan.

In addition, OA found different ways to integrate Langston into the offense, throwing in a healthy dose of direct snaps to back and some Wildcat formations.

“[Langston] has been a workhorse all week,” Artz said. “He’s unbelievable. He doesn’t go down on the first hit. You stop him for a second and he’s still going to be churning, pop off and be four yards down the field.”

It’s neither here nor there, but Tigers place kicker Ryan McGrath can flat out boom the ball. His 34-yard field goal in the first quarter would’ve been good from 50, a testament to one observer’s estimate that McGrath was hitting from 55 yards in the pregame warm-ups in inclement weather. McGrath also showed off his leg powering a touchback through the end zone in the second quarter.

In so many words: Wow.

Foxborough (3-3) 0 3 0 6 -- 9
Oliver Ames (4-1) 10 7 0 0 -- 17

1st quarter
OA – Jared Schneider 2-yard run (Ryan McGrath kick)
OA – McGrath 34-yard field goal

2nd quarter
F – Jake Soccorso 29-yard field goal
OA – Schneider 2-yard run (McGrath kick)

4th quarter
F – Kiivone Howard 1-yard run (Kick failed)
MANSFIELD, Mass. -- It’s a play that Mansfield coach Mike Redding has pocketed for eight weeks while waiting for the perfect time to unleash it.

After a fumble recovery by the Hornets defense in Thursday’s contest against Hockomock League rival Foxborough, that opportunity finally surfaced.

Redding called for a flea flicker, and juniors George Busharis and Blayne Taylor executed the play to perfection, giving No. 3 Mansfield a three-score lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The Hornets completed an undefeated run through the Hockomock League with a 32-12 defeat of Foxborough at Alumni Field on Thanksgiving Day.

“We wanted to get the lead early, and we felt confident with George running the play,” says Redding. “We hadn’t done it since the second game.”

Mansfield got out to a quick start going 76 yards in six plays culminating with a 55-yard strike to Taylor to go up 6-0 in the first. Strong running by senior captain Jamel Marshall softened up the Warriors’ secondary as Taylor slipped by the safety on a deep post.

Two possessions later, Busharis found junior Dylan Finerty on a screen pass that went for 49 yards. Marshal scored his 18th rushing touchdown of the season from a yard out to put Mansfield up 12-0.

Foxborough appeared heading for a score to pull within 12-6 as Nick Sestito found Greg Stamatov for a 34-yard pass then hit Ed Lincoln for a 20-yard screen to the Mansfield 20. But a high snap led to a fumble and an opportunity for Mansfield to deliver a knockout blow. Marshal rushed for 14 yards and Jeff Hill added a 17-yard pass to set up the kill shot. Busharis handed off to Marshall, who pivoted and returned to Busharis. He made an easy pass to Taylor for a 19-0 advantage.

“We work on it a lot in practice,” says Taylor. “I was nervous. [The safety] had to bite on the fake, and he did.”

Hill punctuated the scoring for the first unit, running a perfect corner route and hauling in a 16-yard strike just before the half.

While the defense was racking up yardage, the Mansfield defense was stingy in shutting out their annual Thanksgiving Day rivals until the fourth quarter. Senior linebacker Justin Pennellatore and lineman Kyle McGuire made life miserable for the Foxborough offense.

“It just came down to us swarming,” says Pennellatore. “We just had to get after it early and have them be one dimensional. It’s definitely easier to play defense when you’re expecting the pass.”

Foxborough struggled to move the ball consistently against the Hornets defense but got a solid day from Sestito and bruising senior captain Billy Roberts.

With the win, Mansfield locks up the Davenport Division title at 10-1 and moves on to face Walpole Tuesday in the first round of the Division 2A playoffs. The game time and location is still to be determined.

“It will be a great one,” says Redding. “We got them in 2004 and they got us in ’08. It will be a great game between two great teams.”

F 0-0-0-12 -- 12
M 6-20-0-6 -- 32

M George Busharis to Blayne Taylor for 56 yd (kick failed)
M Jamel Marshal 1 yd run (conv failed)
M Busharis to Taylor 36 yards (kick good by Drew McGeary)
M Busharis to Jeff Hill for 17 yards (kick good by McGeary)
M Robby Rapoza 32 yards (kick no good)
F Sestito to Ed Lincoln 27 yards (kick blocked)
F J.P. Bernabe 30 yard run (kick failed)