NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH — Coach Don Johnson and the Red Rocketeers had been in this position before. In fact, they were in the same spot just last year, against the same team.
North Attleborough had come up short in the past, including against Duxbury in the South final in 2016, but this year the Rocketeers finished what they started.
Top-seeded North Attleborough (9-1) pummeled second-seeded Duxbury, 35-0, in the Division 3 South final Friday, earning its first sectional title under the new playoff format.
Now, after taking a major step against the defending state champion Dragons, the Rocketeers are two wins away from their first state championship since 2002. North Attleborough will meet the winner of Saturday’s game between Lynn English and Tewksbury in next week’s semifinal.
“We’ve had a lot of good teams over the years, and they’ve run up against great teams,” Johnson said. “This team kind of represents all those guys who maybe couldn’t make it.”
The Red Rocketeers took a commanding 14-0 lead after one quarter, as Brendan McHugh scored from 4 yards out and quarterback Chad Peterson hit Jonathan James for a 12-yard TD.
The margin stayed the same through halftime, but in the third, North Attleborough took total command. McHugh plunged in from 1 yard out, then senior Zach DeMattio picked off a John Roberts pass and ran it back 21 yards to the end zone.
The Dragons (8-2) had their chances early, but they committed costly mistakes in the red zone.
Peterson, who finished 6 for 7 with 101 yards and a TD pass, is thrilled to still be playing competitive football this time of year.
“We’re finally there,” the senior QB said. “We’ve got a big one coming up this week.”Trevor Hass can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.