WALPOLE — Over the last decade, the rivalry between Bay State Conference foes Natick and Walpole has become a rite of autumn, with some unforgettable back-and-forth finishes. But in the 2017 installment, the turf at Turco Field tilted in just one direction.
Turning in arguably its best defensive performance of the young season, anchored with two first-half interceptions returned for touchdowns, the Redhawks dominated from the opening kick, rolling, 33-8, to improve to 5-0 for the fourth time since 2012.
“We have a lot of guys with a lot of experience here, and we had a great week of practice,” Natick coach Mark Mortarelli said. “We felt good coming in, and we played well. We did a good job of keeping it simple and tackling.”
The Redhawks turned the ball over on downs on their game-opening drive, but flipped the tables just two plays into Walpole’s ensuing drive with a pick-6 from linebacker Tim Ramstrom, the senior linebacker breaking to the flat at a perfect downhill angle for a 26-yard scamper and 6-0 lead.
Natick turned in a second pick-6 in the second quarter just three plays after Christian D’Antonio’s 1-yard sneak completed a 13-play, 59-yard scoring drive that made it 13-0. It was a defensive lineman, nose guard Josh Atwood, with the tipped interception, running it in from 33 yards out to put the Redhawks up three scores.
Malik Williams completed another clock-chewing Natick scoring drive, this one for 12 plays and 66 yards, with a 10-yard scamper up the left side to put the finishing touches on what was a dominant first 22 minutes. Walpole had just one three and out in the first half yet only managed to run 14 plays, totaling 33 yards.
Amir Wells nailed down the win early in the third with a 1-yard plunge to make it 33-0, completing a six-play drive that started with a 31-yard back-shoulder catch-and-run from tight end David Carey.
The Rebels didn’t cross the 50-yard line until nine minutes remained, when Matt Lavanchy took a fake punt 44 yards up the right sideline for first and 10 at the Natick 33.