WAKEFIELD –– Northeast Metro Tech used the phrase ‘embrace the chaos’ as a rallying cry this season.
Steve Donnelly creates chaos for opposing defenses.
The senior captain from Reading rushed 18 times for 80 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Knights to a 30-7 win over Greater New Bedford in the State Vocational Large School Championship, the first bowl win for Northeast Metro since 2016.
Donnelly has been tremendous for the Knights, accumulating 1,895 yards and 27 touchdowns this season and finishing with 200 points.
“He’s quite a character, but he’s also quite a football player,” said Northeast Metro coach Don Heres, who won his second championship at Northeast Metro. “He’s a great kid, he has a great attitude. His athleticism, his speed, and his heart separate him.”
Donnelly found the end zone for the first time in the first quarter, taking an end-around from 6 yards out and scampering inside the pylon on the right side of the end zone to put the Knights ahead. In the second quarter, the senior captain weaved his way past several defenders and plunged across the end line for a 9-yard touchdown. His third score was a 2-yard score, powering through a linebacker to hit paydirt for his 27th touchdown of the season.
“It’s the guys up front who make everything possible,” said Donnelly. “Those big boys clear everything up and I just find the holes.”
Senior Anthony Tinkham of Wakefield rushed six times for 125 yards and a score, highlighted by a 30-yard touchdown trot in which he sped to the end zone untouched.
The Knights defense rose to the occasion, forcing four turnovers. The defensive line combined to pop the ball loose from Rylan Rose, as the Bears senior tailback attempted to cross the goal line to even the score in the first quarter. The Knights combined to force a fumble as the Bears were driving in the second quarter, with senior John McDonough, a resident of Woburn, falling on the loose ball. Tinkham added an interception as time expired in the second half and several Knights linebackers combined to force a third fumble in the fourth quarter.
“I’m so proud of them,” said Heres. “I think the world of these kids. They never quit, ever. We had some potholes that we had to overcome, but we believed in each other.”
Northeast Metro 30, Greater New Bedford 7
Greater New Bedford (7-5) 0 0 0 7 — 7
Northeast (10-3) 6 8 8 8 — 30
— Steve Donnelly 6 run (rush failed)
— Steve Donnelly 9 run (Steve Donnelly run)
— Steve Donnelly 2 run (Angel Maldonado run)
— Anthony Tinkham 30 run (Chris Zullo run)
— Rylan Rose 59 run (Connor McManus kick)
Blue Hills 52, Nashoba Valley Tech 51 — In matchups between high-powered offenses, the deciding factor often comes down to who can convert crucial plays late in games.
Blue Hills did enough in crunch time to escape with the MVADA-Small School Title, beating Nashoba Valley Tech in Canton.
Senior Anthony Graziano rumbled in for a 1-yard score with 2:34 left in the fourth quarter to bring Blue Hills (11-2) within 1 of Nashoba Valley. On the 2-point try Eric Mann rumbled in with his third conversion of the game.
“We knew we had to score there and we were aware they could score on any play, we could have gone tempo but one of our mottos here at Blue Hills is to use the play clock,” said first year Blue Hills coach Ed Madden.
While Graziano and Mann provided the late game heroics, there were big moments littered throughout the contest, including a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore Caiden Montas to tie the game.
“This team believes in Blue Hills as a program. It means a lot to see underclassmen pull through with such stellar performances,” said Madden, who took over for longtime Blue Hills coach Ed Catabia after the Fall II season.
The Warriors (11-2) had an up and down campaign, at one point owning a 13-game winning streak before losing back-to-back games to Canton and Mashpee in the middle of the year.
Since then, Blue Hills has scored 202 points over its final four games of the year, culminating in Friday’s 52-point effort.
“They just believe in the system, “said Madden, “They wanted to step up to the challenge. A coach’s dream is for them to buy in and they believed.”
The Blue Hills attack was powered by the running skill of junior Jake Reissfelder, who scored four touchdowns and Mann, who scored an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter and converted a trio of 2-point conversions in the second half.
Blue Hills 32, Nashoba Valley Tech
at Canton High
Nashoba Valley Tech (8-4) 14 14 15 8 — 51
Blue Hills (11-2) 6 14 16 16 — 52
BH — Jake Reissfelder 46 run (rush failed)
NVT — Elijah Murphy 16 run ( kick)
NVT — Murphy Senecal 14 run ( kick)
BH — Eric Mann 8 run (Caiden Montas run)
NVT — Randy Leblanc 7 pass from Murphy Senecal ( kick)
BH — Jake Reissfelder 30 run (rush failed)
NVT — Randy Leblanc 75 kickoff return ( kick)
BH — Caiden Montas 96 interception return (Eric Mann run)
NVT — Murphy Senecal 1 run ( kick)
BH — Jake Reissfelder 20 run (Jake Reissfelder run)
NVT — Murphy Senecal 22 run (Randy Leblanc run)
BH — Jake Reissfelder 4 run (Eric Mann run)
NVT — Elijah Murphy 4 run (Randy Leblanc run)
BH — Anthony Graziano 1 run (Eric Mann run)