Boston High School: Zack Schafer

MHSFCA unveils 'Super 26' All-State Team

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
1:38
PM ET
The Massachusetts High School Football Coaches' Association unveiled its annual "Super 26" All-State Team today. Those honored will be presented this spring at Lantana's Restaurant, in Randolph.

Below are the selections. Italicized names indicate they were also a selection to ESPN Boston's MIAA All-State Team.

OFFENSE

Quarterback
Jonathan DiBiaso, Everett
Cam McLevedge, Weymouth
Matt Montalto, Dennis-Yarmouth

Receivers
Armani Reeves, Catholic Memorial
Don Webber, Duxbury

Offensive Line
Brendan Melanson, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Dan McCourt, Pembroke
Jameson McShea, BC High
Andrew VanderWilden, Concord-Carlisle
Chad Woodfine, Chicopee

Running Back
Sacoy Malone, Springfield Central
Quinton Perkins, Fitchburg
Melquawn Pickney, Springfield Putnam

DEFENSE

Defensive Line/Linebacker
Henry Bumpus, Concord-Carlisle
Nick DiChiara, BB&N
Tim Joy, Chelmsford
Vondell Langston, Everett
Max Randall, Duxbury
Zack Schafer, Mansfield
Nick Schlatz, Bridgewater-Raynham
Will Twyman, Lincoln-Sudbury
Camren Williams, Catholic Memorial

Secondary
Todd Collier, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Jack Connolly, St. Sebastian’s
Joe Epps, Bourne
Charles Ruffin, King Philip

ESPN Boston MIAA football All-State team

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
7:40
PM ET
OFFENSE
QB – Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr., Everett
Statistically the state’s best all-time quarterback, the ESPN Boston Mr. Football recipient finishes his storied career in Everett as the state’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (103) and passing yards (7,052). This season he broke his own state single-season record for TD passes (44), and threw for over 2,800 yards. In the last two seasons alone, both perfect Super Bowl-winning campaigns, he threw for 87 touchdown passes to better the previous state all-time mark of 85. DiBiaso is undecided on college plans.

QB – Matt O’Keefe, Sr., Duxbury
In his first season as the full-time starter under center, the Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit was a finalist for ESPN Boston’s Mr. Football award. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder totaled nearly 3,000 yards from scrimmage, throwing for 2,321 yards, rushing for another 670, and totaling 39 scores. O’Keefe, a defender for the defending Division 1 state champion Dragons, is currently ranked as the No. 32 overall lacrosse player in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU.

QB – Matt Montalto, Sr., Dennis-Yarmouth
The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder led the Dolphins to their best season in school history, finishing a perfect 13-0 campaign by winning the Division 2A Super Bowl title – their first championship of any kind in the Super Bowl era. For the season he completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,065 yards and 25 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also carried 134 times for 1,219 yards and 16 more scores. Montalto is fielding various college interest, including, New Hampshire, Albany, Colgate, Brown, Sacred Heart and Bentley.

QB – Michael Walsh, Sr., Swampscott
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was a force on both sides of the ball for the 9-2 Big Blue, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,129 yards and 25 touchdowns to go along with 930 rushing yards and 13 more scores. Defensively, he totaled 47 tackles from the free safety position, forcing three fumbles and making two interceptions. Walsh will continue his career next fall at Brown as a safety.

RB – Melquawn Pinkney, Sr., Springfield Putnam
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Mr. Football finalist ended his career with the Beavers in record-breaking fashion. With 341 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 48-6 win over Commerce for the Division 2 Super Bowl title, Pinkney broek Cedric Washington’s 15-year-old state all-time record for single-season yardage (2,889), and set the new state single-season mark for rushing touchdowns (43). Earlier in the season, Pinkney set a Western Mass single-game record with 421 rushing yards in a win over Agawam. For the season, he averaged 8.4 yards a carry. Pinkney is currently undecided on college plans.

RB – Sacoy Malone, Sr., Springfield Central
Both Malone and his cross-town foil Pinkney eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark on the season, as the Eagles returned to the Western Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl for the second straight year. On the season, Malone had 257 carries for 2,001 yards and 22 touchdowns; since the start of the 2010 season, he’s accumulated over 3,200 yards and 35 touchdowns. The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Malone is currently fielding interest from several Division 1 FCS schools.

RB – George Craan, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
Craan, the reigning Dual County League MVP, was the catalyst for the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl-winning season. He followed up a 1,900-yard junior season with just as explosive numbers in 2011, carrying 220 times for 1,761 yards and 24 touchdowns, as the Patriots went 13-0. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Craan is currently undecided on college plans.

RB – Charles Ruffin, Sr., King Philip
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder is the second Warrior in four seasons to capture Hockomock League Offensive Player of the Year honors. On the season he amassed over 1,300 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and led the Warriors to their first postseason berth of the Super Bowl era. Ruffin, who also stars in lacrosse and track and field, is currently fielding interest from several Division 1 schools.

TE – Mark Riley, Sr., Needham
One of several All-Staters previously known most for their lacrosse exploits, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was a force to be reckoned with for the 9-4 Rockets. Utilized as both a receiver and tight end, Riley caught 72 balls for 1,266 yards and a school record 15 touchdowns. He is currently undecided on college plans, but fielding Division 1 interest in lacrosse.

TE – Jameson McShea, Sr., BC High
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Temple commit didn’t put up eye-opening numbers in the passing game, but his support in the running game was without peer as he helped paved the way for both Preston Cooper and Deontae Ramey-Doe. As a defensive end, he recorded 68 tackles (12 for loss) and was named the Catholic Conference’s Lineman of the Year.

WR – Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr., Weymouth
One of the state’s best deep-ball threats, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder tallied 936 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns for the 9-2 Wildcats this fall. Since the start of his junior season, Bailey-Smith has caught over 2,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. He is also a state champion in track and field, having cleared 6-foot-10 in the high jump. Bailey-Smith is fielding interest from Division 1 schools.

WR – Gordon McLeod, Sr., BC High
One of the most versatile threats on the Eagles’ Division 1 Super Bowl champion squad, McLeod was one of the leading receivers in Eastern Mass., with 755 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns as they captured their second title in four seasons.


WR – Don Webber, Sr., Duxbury
Considered one of the state’s best route-runners, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was the 13-0 Dragons’ most dangerous weapon in space. Webber led the team with 52 receptions for 776 yards and 11 touchdowns, as the Dragons won a second consecutive Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium and extended the state’s longest winning streak to 26 games. Webber is leaning towards the Ivy League for college plans.

WR – Malcolm Brown, Sr., Pope John XXIII
Statistically, the 6-foot-1 Brown graduates from the Everett campus as one of the state’s most decorated receivers of all-time. This fall he caught 71 passes to set school records of 1,306 yards and 20 touchdowns, both tops in the state. He also racked up 918 return yards and three touchdowns, ran for 328 yards, and threw for another 267. Defensively, he recorded 65 tackles (10 for loss) and three interceptions, including a pick-six. For his career, he has 192 receptions for 3,447 yards and 44 touchdowns, and 56 total scores. Brown currently has interest from schools in the Northeast-10 and MEAC conferences.

OL – Andrew VanderWilden, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
At 6-foot and 245 pounds, VanderWilden was arguably one of the most efficient pound-for-pound centers in the state. He led a Patriots rushing attack that racked up 53 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards the ground, part of one of the state’s highest scoring averages (35.4). VanderWilden, a two-time Dual County League Lineman of the Year, will continue his career at Brown next fall.

OL – Keith Sullivan, Sr., Oliver Ames
The 6-foot-9, 300-pounder was arguably the most crucial two-way player for the Tigers’ historic run, winning their first Hockomock title since 1964 and qualifying for their first championship game of the Super Bowl era. Sullivan is currently undecided on college plans, but fielding Division 1 interest.


OL – John Montelus, Jr., Everett
DiBiaso’s blind side is quickly rising as one of New England’s top Class of 2013 prospects. The last two seasons the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has allowed DiBiaso to throw 87 touchdown passes and keep his jersey clean. Montelus received four offers before his 16th birthday this fall, and counts UConn, Syracuse, NC State, Virginia and Boston College.

OL – Gordon Acha, Sr., Duxbury
Acha, the Dragons’ left tackle, was named ESPN Boston’s inaugural Lineman of the Year this week after helping pave the way to a second straight 13-0 season. The Dragons averaged 302 yards of offense and had 36 touchdown passes. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Acha is currently fielding interest from Division 1 schools, including Boston College and Maryland.

OL – Rob Kosharek, Jr., Duxbury
Together with Acha, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Kosharek created one of the state’s best tandems on the left side of the 13-0 Dragons’ line. Behind Kosharek at left guard, the Dragons won their second straight Division 2 Super Bowl title and rang their winning streak up to a state-best 26 games.


ATH – Geeavontie Griffith, Sr., Boston Cathedral
The 12-1 Panthers experienced one of the state’s most dramatic turnarounds under first-year head coach Duane Sigsbury, and leading the charges was Griffith. The 5-foot-7, 175-pound Randolph native carried 152 times for 2,244 yards and 29 touchdowns, as the Panthers advanced to the Division 4A Super Bowl. He is currently undecided on college plans.

ATH – Armani Reeves, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Don’t let the Mr. Football finalist’s limited touches fool you. Reeves, a Penn State commit and the state’s No. 1 overall prospect, was electric practically every time he touched the ball. He ran for 1,001 yards on just 46 touches, caught another 205, and returned a punt for a touchdown to total 15 scores for the 7-2 Knights. That averages out to almost a touchdown every three touches.

K – Jules Murphy, Sr., Xaverian
Murphy has been known to regularly hit from 40 yards and further, and while he didn’t have many opportunities this season, he was a near-perfect 27-of-28 on extra points. Murphy is undecided on college plans.


DEFENSE
DL – Ralph Jonathas, Sr., Everett

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was a mainstay of the Crimson Tide's back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams and a defense that allowed just over 12 points per game this season. Jonathas has received interest from multiple Division 1 programs, but is undecided on college plans.


DL – Brendan Battles, Sr., Nauset
At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, the UConn commit was one of the most feared defensive presences in the state. But the bruising lineman also did double time, serving as the play-caller in Nauset's single wing offense, paving the way as the lead blocker out of the backfield. Battles also won the Division 1 and All-State wrestling crowns in the 215-pound divsion, advancing to the New England finals.

DL – Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr., Xaverian
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle was a physical presence in the middle of the Hawks defense. Hurst finished the season with 61 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Hurst also showed off his athleticism in one of the more improbable performances of the season, rushing for over 200 yards in the Hawks' win over St. John's of Shrewsbury, including an awe-inspiring 75-yard touchdown run.

DL – Henry Bumpus, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
The 6-foot-6, 218-pound defensive end was one of the more imposing physical presences in the state, as well as an important part of C-C's rushing attack at tight end. The senior captain helped to guide the Patriots to a Division 3 Super Bowl championship. A feared rusher off the edge, Bumpus finished with 9.5 sacks and 66 tackles. He also nabbed four interceptions on the season. Bumpus will attend Brown University next year.

LB – Tim Joy, Sr., Chelmsford
The Boston College-bound 'backer was the heart and soul of the Lions defense, leading the team with 155 tackles, including eight for a loss and three sacks. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder also had an interception in addition to three passes defensed. Joy was also a steady contributor to Chelmsford's offense, as a punishing lead blocker at full back in front of running back Eddie Sheridan.

LB – Luke Catarius, Jr., BC High
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder lead the Eagles in tackles, despite playing 10 regular season games with 129 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss. Catarius was also a mainstay of BC High's offense, providing lead blocks at fullback in front of Preston Cooper and Deontae Ramey-Doe for the Division 1 Super Bowl champions.

LB – Vondell Langston, Sr., Everett
The Crimson Tide senior captain was an integral part of Everett's offensive and defensive units in each of their back-to-back Super Bowl championship seasons. As a linebacker, Langston was tough against the ran and a threat to drop back in coverage, coming away with three interceptions on the season. Langston tallied 15 touchdowns on the season at running back. He is undecided on his college choice.

LB – Cam Williams, Sr., Catholic Memorial
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker was named one of 50 national finalists for the high school Butkus Award, honoring the nation's top linebacker. The Penn State commit totaled 119 tackles (81 solo), including 18 tackles for loss. Wiliams was also effective in pass defense with an interception and seven passes defensed.

LB – Nick Schlatz, Sr., Bridgewater-Raynham
The Trojans' senior captain was part of a dynamic 1-2 punch at running back along with Brandon Morin, totaling nine touchdowns. Schlatz was the fulcrum of Bridgewater-Raynham's defense, which allowed just under 14 points per game this season.


LB – Dan Flink, Sr., Auburn
Flink was the heart of the Rockets' defense, which surrendered just over 10 points per game this season. He totaled 141 tackles, including 27 tackles for loss, along with seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and eight sacks. Flink played running back with the same mentality he brought to his play at linebacker with 1,393 yards and 27 touchdowns in his senior season. The three-year starter was part of four Super Bowl championship teams at Auburn and is looking to study at Mass Maritime Academy next year.

DB – James Burke, Sr., Duxbury
The senior captain was a stalwart in the Dragons' defense in their back-to-back Super Bowl titles. The 6-foot, 165-pounder formed a vicious safety duo along with Reilly Naton and led the secondary with 76 total tackles (50 solo) and had three interceptions with nine passes defensed. Also a standout on Duxbury's state-title winning lacrosse team, Burke has signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Penn State.

DB – Quinton Perkins, Sr., Fitchburg
The 6-foot, 170-pound wideout and safety was one of the most dynamic talents in the state, nevermind Central Mass. Perkins, who holds offers from UConn and UMass-Amherst, tallied 35 tackles and two interceptions on defense. He racked up 20 total touchdowns with 10 rushing, nine passing and a kickoff return. Perkins also racked up over 1,300 all-purpose offensive yards. He also racked up 200 all-purpose offensive yards and three touchdowns in the Red Raiders' playoff loss to Leominster.

DB – Casey DeAndrade, Sr., East Bridgewater
The University of New Hampshire commit was one of the most electrifying offensive talents in the state this year, but also played lock-down corner for the Vikings. DeAndrade tallied one interception in his senior season to push his career total to 11, a testament to opponents' weariness in throwing in his direction. The multi-talented athlete tallied 22 touchdowns with nearly 1,400 all-purpose offensive yards.

DB – Obi Melifonwu, Sr., Grafton
The UConn commit was a big-play threat on both sides of the football for Grafton, leading the Indians with three interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder also ran for nearly 1,400 yards in a shortened season along with 17 touchdowns.


RET – Chucky Ortiz, Sr. Woburn
Ortiz was a jack of all trades while taking MVP honors of the Middlesex League Large division. In racking up 24 touchdowns, Ortiz tallied two pick-sixes, and a pair punt returns and kick returns for scores. Ortiz had six interceptions on defense while finishing a shade under 1,200 rushing yards. He also handled place kicking duties for the Tanners, connecting on 15 PATs and one field goal.

Best of the Rest
A.J. Baker, Sr. WR, Swampscott
Dan Barone, Sr. QB, Holliston
Vincent Burton, Sr. RB, Blue Hills
Kenny Calaj, Jr. WR, Everett
Andrew Coke, Sr. RB, Andover
Preston Cooper, Sr. RB, BC High
A.J. Doyle, Sr. QB, Catholic Memorial
Brian Dunlap, Fr. WR, Natick
Aaron Dyke, Jr. OL, Auburn
Andrew Ellis, Jr. LB, Barnstable
Joe Epps, Sr. RB, Bourne
Theo France, Sr. RB, Barnstable
Brett Harrington, Sr. DL, Chelmsford
Jack Harris, Sr. TE, Lincoln-Sudbury
Greg Heineman, Sr. QB, Minnechaug
Damion Johnson, Sr. WR, Dennis-Yarmouth
Jordan Keli'inui, Sr. RB, Mashpee
Thomas Kleyn, Sr. LB, Concord-Carlisle
Zack Hume, Jr. LB, Nashoba
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica
Cam McLevedge, Sr. QB, Weymouth
Reilly Naton, Sr. S, Duxbury
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow
Mike Prendeville, Sr. OG, BC High
Will Quigley, Sr. RB, Marblehead
Deontae Ramey-Doe, Sr. RB, BC High
Max Randall, Sr. LB, Duxbury
Zack Schafer, Sr. LB, Mansfield
Eddie Sheridan, Sr. RB, Chelmsford
Jarod Taylor, Jr. RB, Mashpee
Shawn Whouley, Sr. WR, Weymouth

Scrimmage Slants: Mansfield vs. BC High

August, 30, 2011
8/30/11
10:41
PM ET
MANSFIELD, Mass. -- Last year, Mansfield rag-dolled BC High in a scrimmage in Dorchester, as Jamel Marshall, George Busharis and Jeff Hill put on an offensive clinic against the Eagles at Viola Stadium.

On Tuesday, the Eagles returned the favor, but it was not as one-sided. Still, BC High looked pretty impressive, as starting running back Preston Cooper and both starting junior tackles -- returning starter Jack McDonald and Pat Connolly -- were in attendance but not suited up, nursing minor injuries.

It was fairly obvious, though, that BC High didn’t have any depth issues.

“They are big, strong, physical,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding of the Eagles. “I think the difference is this year, they’re big and physical and they just seem better at all the skill positions. Their quarterback’s a little better; Cooper’s a little better; their wideouts are taller, a little faster...”

He was then interrupted and told that the player who housed a 55-yard toss to the left sideline was actually backup Deontae Ramey-Doe.

“Oh, (Cooper) didn’t play?" he said. "I thought it was him. OK. They just got nice skill kids everywhere. The height that we kind of wish we had -- they all seem like they’re 6-1, 6-2, they can run and they’ve got the big horses up front. They’ll be tough to defend the way pound you and then play-action. The quarterback’s very poised. They’re getting a lot of hype, and rightfully so. They’ve got a nice package.

“But I think we held our own against a good football team. We’re making strides. It’s just building that depth a little bit. Unfortunately we can’t make the kids bigger when we go to practices. We just make them tougher, make them smarter and do the best we can with what we got.”

Cooper was a de facto coach on the field for the Eagles, and spoke about the importance of developing the depth that BC High is going to need for the schedule it plays.

“I mean, everyone gave it their all," Cooper said. "Of course we have backups come in and do the job. So even if I’m hurt or I’m out or whatever like that, no one should worry. Everyone should play 100 percent and everyone did that.”

Some other thoughts...

-- Usually, BC High looks big up front, but not athletic. That is not the case this year. The linemen are leaner and quicker. It looks as if the Eagles spent as much time running in the off-season as they did lifting - which is not always how it’s been at that program.

“Offseason conditioning was a huge thing for us -- weight room, speed development, particularly for our linemen,” said BC High coach Jon Bartlett. “We need quicker, faster, stronger linemen. Hopefully that will continue as the season goes along.”

One player in particular who has slimmed down and increased his speed is senior tight end and Temple commit Jameson McShea. Although the coaches have slid him down to defensive tackle, he’s lighter on his feet and more nimble. The defensive line as a whole is still a strength despite the graduation of ESPNBoston All-State Obum Obukwelu (Harvard).

-- Speaking of the former Eagle defensive tackle, don’t be surprised to see senior Oderah Obukwelu sneak into the lineup at some point in the season. A basketball player who didn’t come out for football until this year, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder made a number of plays in the backfield at defensive end. The BC High staff wishes it could have had him sooner. But there’s another one in the pipeline. Eighth-grader “Mookie” Obukwelu is built more in the mold of Nnamdi, also at Harvard and the oldest of the brothers, who led the 2008 team to a Division 1 Super Bowl.

-- Redding wasn’t kidding about the speed and size at the skill positions for BC High. Seniors Gordon McLeod, Tom Lomenzo, junior Lincoln Collins are all tall, fast players with good hands that make nice plays after the catch. The Eagles are three-deep at quarterback with returning starter Bartley Regan, junior Brendan Craven and running threat Richard Roach.

-- As for Mansfield, the Hornets are trying to build some depth as well. They just don’t have as much of it as BC High.

“We’ve got three or four guys going both ways and what we’re trying to do is get answers for getting everybody going one way,” Redding said. “We’d like to get to the (Carrier) Dome (in the opener against Syracuse’s Christian Brothers Academy) with 22 starters because it’s 12-minute quarters up there. And they’re going to do some no-huddle, we’re going to do some no-huddle. The more one-way we go, the better. So we’re trying to build some depth here in the preseason.”

-- Still, Mansfield has some nice pieces to work with offensively. Quarterback George Busharis has another year of experience under his belt and tossed a nice middle screen over the trees to senior Blayne Taylor, who motored downfield for a long touchdown on the first series.

“I think the idea with Greg (Donahue) and Blayne is to get the ball in the open field,” Redding said. “We’re not going to line up and run iso and pound people but I think our fullbacks can keep people honest inside. And I think with Blayne, it’s whether it’s toss or screen or passes, he’s going to make something happen like Greg. We just want to get the ball to those guys in space.”

-- Mansfield didn’t give up too much in between the tackles. Defensive ends Nick Chiocco and Brent Doherty and junior defensive tackles James Comer and Ryan Galanti combined with linebackers Dylan Finerty, Derrion Walker, Nick Leonard and Zack Schafer to form a stout group in the 4-4 scheme.

One memorable comeback for Mansfield

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
9:48
PM ET


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)

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