QUINCY — The goal from the start of the season was to win a Division 3 state title. An 0-2 start did not change that objective for the North Attleborough football team.
The third-seeded Red Rocketeers and senior captain Tyler DeMattio (4 total TDs) were determined to achieve that goal in their 28-10 semifinal win over No. 2 Billerica Saturday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
North Attleborough (7-3) will play unbeaten Marblehead for the Division 3 title.
“After our Week 2 [double-overtime] loss to Mansfield we figured out the team we were and that was a hard-nosed football team that wanted to win,” said DeMattio. “We started off the year losing to our biggest rival and that kind of gave us the juice all year to fight even harder.”
A power run game — spearheaded by DeMattio and his 157 yards — with timely second-half passes from freshman Chase Frisoli (6 of 10 passing, 119 yards) sprinkled in, allowed North Attleborough to march up and down the field Saturday.
“We haven’t had to ask our freshman quarterback to do a whole lot because our guys have been running the ball well but this was the week so we worked on it and I thought he stepped up and delivered when we needed him,” North Attleborough coach Don Johnson said.
On the game’s first drive, DeMattio took a toss to the left 34 yards for a score. A 40-yard field goal from Shaan Rama and a 4-yard touchdown run from Joseph Green put the Indians (9-2) up 10-7 in the second but North Attleboro didn’t blink.
A seven-play drive capped off by a 5-yard DeMattio touchdown put the Red Rocketeers back on top and they didn’t look back.
A 17-yard TD toss from Frisoli to DeMattio, followed by a 70-yard scamper from the latter in the fourth quarter put the game of out reach.
“He’s just so tough and he’s so competitive and you couple that with his compact body that he has there and he’s just an ultimate football player,” said Johnson of his 5-foot-10-inch, 197-pound tailback.
Marblehead 40, Westfield 7 — All Josh Robertson had to do was get the ball to his playmakers and watch.
And what a show the Magicians (10-0) put on at Shrewsbury High — steamrolling Westfield to punch a ticket to the Division 3 Super Bowl against North Attleborough.
It was the Marblehead defense that got the scoring started after a blocked punt by Craig Michalowski rolled into the end zone, resulting in a safety.
Then the magic show began.
On the ensuing drive, Robertson connected with James Doody, who rumbled for 27 yards along the sideline after hauling in the screen for a 9-0 lead just four minutes in.
Robertson (15-of-24 passing) threw for 259 yards — with a lot of those yards coming after the catch. Connor Cronin (236 total yards) was the top target, hauling in eight passes for 158 yards with touchdown receptions of 1, 30 and 56 yards.
“It’s so much fun,” Robertson said of running the offense. “We have so many weapons all over the field. Everybody can either run through someone or run around someone. I just have to get them the ball.”
Said Cronin: “It’s not about where you catch it, it’s about where you get tackled. We always push for those extra yards, always fall forward.”
Westfield (8-2) showed life after a scoreless first half when it charged 63 yards and got on the board with a 6-yard run from quarterback Matt Adamites (15 of 25, 151 yards, INT). Adamites was making his first start after breaking his collarbone earlier in the season.
Robertson then led Marblehead 59 yards in 1:53, with Cronin’s second touchdown catch making it 26-7 to cool Westfield’s comeback hopes. George Percy iced it with a 3-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter to make it 33-7.
“We knew what we had to do,” Cronin said. “Offense clicked, defense stopped them, and that creates wins. It’s an unreal feeling, but it’s not over. We have to win Gillette”
But first, the Magicians will face a familiar foe — Swampscott — in what is now a very unique Thanksgiving showdown between two undefeated Super Bowl-bound teams.
Correspondent Michael McMahon reported from Shrewsbury High.