MASHPEE — Massive in stature, they rarely are in the spotlight.
But the players who make up the offensive front for the unbeaten Mashpee football team (12-0) has paved the way for a third straight Super Bowl appearance, and their work will once again will be pivotal in Saturday’s Division 7 matchup against Blackstone Valley Tech at Gillette Stadium.
At the pivot is senior captain John McNamara, a 6-foot-6-inch, 275-pound center, flanked by guards Roo Garcia (6 feet, 280 pounds) and Ben Bohnenberger (6-4, 285), and tackles Ian Ahearn (6-1, 230) and Toren Burton (6-1, 205). On the edge is junior Xavier Gonsalves, a game-changing, 6-3, 230-pound tight end.
“These guys come to work every day,” said coach Matt Triveri. “They’re the ones that don’t show up in the box score, but they’re working hard every play.”
The Falcons have a dynamic offense that keeps opponents guessing. The Falcons have scored an average of 35.4 points per game while holding opponents to just 12.1 points.
“We have a lot of guys who are willing to step up and do what it takes. If something’s not working, we can resort to other things,” said Garcia. “We rely on the next guy up and all work together to move the ball.”
Operating behind the O-line, junior Devaun Ford has churned out 1,067 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns this season. Senior Jake Johnston, a first-year starter, has thrown for 1,110 yards and 16 touchdowns.
“I’ve been playing with these guys since middle school,” said McNamara. “We all have pretty good chemistry, we all work together pretty well.”
Johnston took over at quarterback after the graduation of Nick Carpenter, a Globe All-Scholastic.
“I’m definitely very comfortable back in the pocket when I’m throwing, I’ve barely been touched all year,” said Johnston.
“When we’re running the ball, I can only imagine being the running back behind that line.”
Gonsalves can change a game dramatically on both sides of the ball. Off the edge at defensive end, he has racked up 17 sacks. He also has four touchdown receptions, a TD pass, and a field goal.
No matter how teams plan for him, he finds a way to cause havoc.
“The great thing with him is, he can shut down a side of the field,” said Triveri. “He can do it against the run, he can do it against the pass.”
Despite being a smaller program, the Falcons have found ways to remain a power thanks to their front six.
“They put great effort in. They earned getting here. Expectations were high coming in,” said Triveri. “There’s always pitfalls along the way. The key is to stay healthy and fight through. Our guys have done a good job of that.”
Blackstone Valley (11-1), which was dealt it first loss Thanksgiving while resting several starters against Nipmuc Regional, also features stellar play at the point of attack.
But the Falcons are ready.
“For a lot of us, it’s our last game,” said Ahearn. “We have to give everything we have, no holding back.”Lenny Rowe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.