By Russ Waterman
Six teams were crowned 2008 MIAA Eastern Massachusetts Super Bowl champion at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Saturday. And at Bentley University, Amesbury captured the Division 3A title for the seventh Eastern Mass. champion title.
Division 1: BC High 13, Brockton 7
BC High running back Tyler Horan had 188 all-purpose yards and scored the Eagles' final touchdown in a gripping 13-7 victory over Brockton (9-4) for the Division 1 title.
Both squads passed the ball just six times each, but the Catholic Conference champs (11-1) decisively outgained the Boxers on the ground (186-82) and held them to just 116 yards of total offense with star running back Khalil James-Offley carrying 13 times for 55 yards and one touchdown. Horan ran 27 times for 139 yards.
The Eagles scored on a 48-yard screen pass from quarterback Bill Kiley to Horan and swallowed up over nine minutes – mostly in the second quarter – on an 18-play, 72-yard drive finally capped by a Horan 2-yard touchdown run.
The Boxers had one last comeback chance after a blocked field goal but were finally stopped by the Eagles swarming defense with 1:21 left on a fourth-down play.
"That's been our trademark all year, just pounding it. We knew we had to do that to win the game," Eagles first-year head coach Jon Bartlett said. "We just challenged the kids to do that."
Division 1A: Dracut 27, Marshfield 0
Dracut quarterback Matt Grimard passed for two touchdowns and ran for another in leading the Middies (11-2) to a 27-0 victory over Marshfield (10-3). Under first-year head coach Jeff Moore, the Merrimack Valley Conference champs won their first Super Bowl title since 1988, their only other championship appearance.
Grimard, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year, gained 87 yards on 15 carries and completed 12 of 18 passes for 182 yards.
Division 2: Walpole 41, Mansfield 21
Ryan Izzo of Walpole demonstrated why he's one of the state's premier backs by scoring three touchdowns and rushing for 193 yards in a 41-20 victory over Mansfield.
The junior running back, who finished with 277 points, ran for all three of his scores in the Raiders 27-point second quarter.
Besides running in from 9 and 49 yards, Izzo was part of a hook-and-ladder play when quarterback Sonny Mastromatteo (134 yards, three touchdowns) threw to Leo Ajemian for a six-yard reception on the sideline who then handed off to Izzo for a 24-yard blast into the end zone.
For the Raiders, it was their seventh Super Bowl title overall.
"I just credit the kids,” Walpole head coach and former New England Patriot Danny Villa said of his undefeated (13-0) squad. “We have been working at this for eight years.”
As for the formation featuring Izzo, Villa added: "The Wildcat offense we run is a perfect fit for his talents."
Division 2A: Duxbury 46, Gloucester 26
Duxbury quarterback Sean Cross had a career-best performance by throwing for four touchdowns and completing 14 of 25 passes for 334 yards as the Green Dragons defeated Gloucester, 46-26, for the Division 2A crown.
The scoring assault for Duxbury began on their first play from scrimmage when Cross connected with Ian Whitney for a 69-yard touchdown. Cross also linked up on scoring receptions to Hakeem Lecky for 61 yards, Quinn Cully for 33 yards and to Shane DiBona for 13 yards.
DiBona, who is headed to play for Iowa next year, rushed for 79 yards on 14 carries and caught a 13-yard pass from Cross and later added a one-yard touchdown run.
"He put the ball on the money," Green Dragons head coach Dave Maimaron said of his senior quarterback. "It was just a phenomenal performance by Sean."
Division 3: Arlington Catholic 32, Norton 12
Corey Spencer completed 14-of-27 passes for 203 yards and connected twice with Ricky Douglas for scoring strikes as Arlington Catholic (10-3) rallied from an early deficit to overtake Norton, 32-20, for the program's first Super Bowl title since 1993.
Sean Ryan, the game's leading rusher (20 carries, 162 yards), staked Norton to an early 12-6 lead on scoring runs of 28 and 34 yards. He finished the season with 2,055 yards and 36 touchdowns.
The game turned dramatically in the final two minutes of the first half when linebacker Steve Pagliocca pounced on a fumble in the end zone for a score. Douglas snared a 24-yard pass from Spencer deep in the end zone with 13 seconds left to put the Cougars ahead, 18-12 at intermission.
Division 4: Manchester-Essex 36, Tri-County 6
Manchester-Essex (13-0) brought along its entire offensive arsenal to the Division 4 finals and completed a whirlwind perfect season, 36-6, over Tri-County Regional Vocational (9-3), 36-6.
The Hornets (37.4 points per game) had 400 yards of total offense with quarterback Pat Orlando doing much of the damage by throwing three touchdown passes on 9-of-13 passing for 172 yards and rushing for 52 yards. Ben Kekeisen bowled his way to an 11-yard touchdown and scored on scoring receptions of 33 and 16 yards.
"We executed from the beginning," Hornets head coach Mike Athanas said. "We were ready to go.”
Division 3A: Amesbury 40, Martha's Vineyard 19
Amesbury rolled over Martha's Vineyard, 40-19, to win the Division 3A championship game held at Bentley University in Waltham. It was the first Super Bowl win ever for the Indians (12-1).
Quarterback Jared Flannigan rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns and also passed for two touchdowns- one on a 15-yard connection to Jesse Burrell (105 yards on 10 carries) and the other a 26-yard pass to Ryan Dragon. Kevin Johnston also rushed for 70 yards and scored twice.
Eastern Massachusetts Super Bowl Notes
* This was the second year of a generous three-year agreement between the New England Patriots and the MIAA to hold the Super Bowls at Gillette Stadium, thus offsetting many expenses needed to sponsor such a large event. The announced total attendance for the six games was 27,513.
* The New England Patriots Alumni Club launched its first-ever grant initiative to offset the cost of football operations for high school across the state with a total of 83 football programs across the state being approved for grants totaling $41,500. Among the schools who received funding were the following 2008 Super Bowl participants: Amesbury, Auburn, Brockton, Fitchburg, Mansfield, Westfield and Walpole.
"We are pleased to have helped all 83 schools who applied for the grants and were prepared to help even more," NEPAC President and former Patriots center Pete Brock said. "Hopefully we will see increased submissions (deadline in August) next fall."