WESTON – On three separate occasions Saturday, the top-seeded Stoneham football team found itself trailing against No. 13 Cardinal Spellman, the Cinderella of the Division 6 bracket, in a Division 6 semifinal.
Each time, the Spartans pulled ahead, none with more flair than on Colin Farren’s 54-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Thanks to Matthew Tran’s interception just outside the end zone with a minute remaining in regulation, Farren’s burst stood as the winner for Stoneham, which is headed back to Gillette Stadium for the first time since 2018 after holding off the Cardinals, 24-17, at Proctor Field.
“We’ve got a tradition going. It seems like every year we’re in the run,” said Farren, who was playing youth football in Stoneham the last time the Spartans advanced to Gillette.
Farren, who returned to football for Stoneham (10-1) last fall after taking a two-year hiatus to focus solely on basketball, was the sparkplug for the Spartans’ signature double-wing offense all afternoon long, racking up more than 150 rushing yards.
But thanks to Jack Duffy, Spellman’s unique dual-threat quarterback — “He was like Superman out there,” Stoneham coach Bob Almeida said — the Cardinals (5-6) didn’t just linger, they had the Spartans on the ropes for much of the game.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” Almeida said. “We’re not a team that can come back from penalties that well. It was a series of things preventing us from putting this one away, which I thought we could have.”
Duffy scored on a 59-yard keeper to break scoring open in the first quarter and added another rushing score from 4 yards out in the second quarter after James Landers helped Stoneham to its first lead with a 1-yard score and Farren rush on the conversion.
The Spartans went back ahead on Farren’s first touchdown run, a 12-yard score in the third quarter which made it 16-14 after a James Nutting rush.
But Duffy, the jack of all trades, drilled a 24-yard field goal to put the Cardinals back in control in the fourth and on the precipice of a trip to Foxboro.
Farren’s second score, followed by a Nutting rush for two, would lead to the end of Spellman’s surprising postseason run, however. The Cardinals, who saw their coach, Kahn Chace, resign five games into the season, had been looking for their first appearance in a final since 2010.