MANSFIELD — While his players danced around the field showing off their new hardware, Mansfield coach Mike Redding had a simple explanation for his team’s success.
“There’s just too many weapons,” Redding said after the third-ranked Hornets throttled No. 5 Barnstable, 41-16, in the Division 2 South final Friday night.
Mansfield advances to the state semifinals against Waltham next weekend.
Senior quarterback Kyle Wisnieski (20 of 27, 288 yards, 4 TDs) found six receivers, and four rushers thrashed the Barnstable defense.
“As good as anybody is on defense, you can’t handle four receivers, three backs, a good line. It’s tough to stop all the things that we can do with our guys,” said Redding.
The standout was senior receiver Michael Hershman, who hauled in seven catches for 130 yards and two scores, despite a hernia that will require surgery.
“The last two weeks he looked like the Mike Hershman of old before the hernias,” said Redding. “I kind of felt like he was ready for a breakout night. It’s nice to see him back. He still needs surgery, but he’s coming into his own and elevated his game to another level.”
Hershman’s first touchdown came with Mansfield ahead, 7-3, in the first quarter. Dhruv Patel picked off Barnstable quarterback Kristian Lucashensky to set up the Hornets at the Red Raiders’ 28. On the first play, Wisnieski sent a pass over the middle to a wide open Hershman for the score.
Miguel Villar-Perez gave the Hornets a 21-3 advantage on their next drive when he rumbled in from 7 yards. Lucashensky made it 21-10 when he ran one in from 2 yards.
But Hershman and Wisnieski quickly thwarted any thoughts Barnstable had of gaining momentum before the half. The Hornets went on a 13-play, 71-yard drive that ended with Wisnieski finding Hershman again for an 8-yard score with 14 seconds remaining.
“He stepped up big,” said Wisnieski of Hershman. “He’s got the injuries and all, but he’s a competitive kid. He comes out here and he competes and came through tonight. He pushed through the pain he was in and he had a big game for us.”
Senior Alex Ruddy pushed the Hornets lead to 34-10 with a 10-yard run late in the third. Michael Barresi then picked off Lucashensky three plays later to set up Mansfield’s final score.
On fourth and 2, Wisnieski threw one up to 6-foot-5-inch receiver Brendan Hill, who juggled the pass but reeled it in for a 21-yard TD and a 41-10 lead.
Barnstable added a score as time expired, when backup quarterback Griffin Burke found Derek Estes for a 22-yard touchdown.
The Red Raiders opened the scoring when Dereck Pacheco nailed a 27-yard field goal. Wisnieski gave the Hornets a 7-3 lead on the next drive with a 46-yard TD strike to Kyle Hurley.