The Tigers have finally got over the hump.
O’Bryant found its way back on the championship stage and into the postseason for the first time since 2008, clinching the Boston South league and remaining undefeated after dispatching Latin Academy, 21-8, on Friday at White Stadium.
“It was a lot of hard work,” said Kevin Gadson, the longtime Tigers coach who has not seen the postseason since losing to Manchester-Essex in the first round of the 2008 MIAA playoffs. “We’ve been just missing and just missing, and this year with the help of the Lord, and some good coaching, and a lot of support, and the kids’ hard work we’ve been able to overcome today against a very good team,” he said.
Leading the charge for O’Bryant (7-0, 5-0) was senior and four-year player Mehki Williams, who rushed for a game-high 153 yards, including a 78-yard TD burst in the first quarter.
“I couldn’t even believe it. I had to fall to the floor in shock, I thought I was dreaming,” said Williams on winning his first league championship. “It’s been four years we’ve all been working our butts off . . . and I’m just proud of all of us.”
The other Tiger scores came from Kevin Nash, who scored on a 5-yard dash in the second, and senior quarterback Ajani Alfred-McFall, who scored on a 1-yard plunge to seal the game in the fourth.
It was a see-saw contest between two of Boston’s best teams that included 12 combined turnovers. It was the Tigers who did a better job of handling the pressure.
Latin Academy (6-1, 4-1), guilty of a season-high seven turnovers, including three costly fumbles, never got its offense going as it posted its lowest scoring output of the season. Constant pressure kept stud quarterback Kyle Dance off balance all game long. He scored Latin Academy’s only touchdown on a 5-yard rush in the second quarter, but Dance’s usually efficient game fell off to just 7 of 19 for 49 yards. He had thrown 13 touchdown passes this season.
Down, 13-8, and on the O’Bryant 31 with 1.8 seconds left in the first half, Dance found a streaking Moise Rainford wide open in the end zone. Dance threw a perfect pass, and Rainford ran a perfect route, but he couldn’t haul in the go-ahead catch.
“With stuff like that it should’ve been a blowout,” said Latin Academy coach Rocco Zizza.
“We had opportunities. We had two dropped balls in the end zone. We didn’t play well,” he said. “We we’re outplayed and they were the better team today. We’ve had consistent efforts all year and for some reason it just wasn’t there today.”
The loss, according to Zizza, doesn’t mean the Dragons have canceled their postseason plans, though.
“The second season begins Monday, we’re looking forward to it. We’re definitely in the playoffs, we made the top eight,” said Zizza, referring to the eight teams to be selected by the MIAA from Division 6 North.