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Previewing and predicting the Division 3 Super Bowl: Milton vs. Walpole

“[The matchup] a really good thing for the Bay State Conference. The con is that it’s always hard to beat somebody twice . . . We can’t think ‘we won Week 6, we’re going to win Week 13.’” CHRIS SULLIVAN, Walpole coach on the Division 3 Super Bowl matchup against Milton.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The MIAA Division 3 Super Bowl will be played Thursday at Gillette Stadium.

Read on for a preview and prediction of the game.

MILTON (8-4) vs. WALPOLE (9-3)

When: Thursday, 8 p.m.

Where: Gillette Stadium

How to stream: Patriots.com; YouTube.com/@Patriots


Coaches: Steve Dembowski, Milton (25th season overall, 190-88; 9th season with Wildcats, 76-21); Chris Sullivan, Walpole (6th season, 38-22)

Scoring: Milton — 28.4 ppg; Walpole — 32.1.

Defense: Milton — 16.0 ppg; Walpole — 18.8 ppg.

The heavies up front: Milton — Anderson Perez-Ruiz (5 feet, 11 inches, 300 pounds); Walpole — Calvin McCabe (6 feet, 1 inch, 320 pounds)

Stat check: Patrick Miller, who started at cornerback last season, is two touchdown passes away from matching the program record for a single season (31) set last season by Owen McHugh. Miller (168-of-298 passing) has thrown for 2,416 yards. His favorite target has been sophomore Ronan Sammon (66 receptions, 983 yards). Nathan Ehui (879 yards) is averaging 6.2 yards per rush, complemented by Luke Hartford (412 yards, 6.7 yards per rush. Mudia Odion-Ukpebor has four sacks and Ferris Collins and Harrison Hinkle have reeled in three interceptions apiece.

For the fourth-seeded Timberwolves, junior Noah Mackenzie has 28 touchdown passes — second in Division 3, behind only Miller — for 2,400 yards against only five interceptions. Jamal Abdul-Khallaq (51 catches, 1,110 yards) has 16 total touchdowns — 13 receiving, two kick returns and one interception return. Senior Logan Keyes has 600-plus yards rushing, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Anthony Chamoun, Brendan Kearns and Aiden Abate each have three sacks for Walpole.


The captains: Milton — LB Ben Caledonia (Sr.), LB/RB AJ Cicerone (Sr.), WR/S Ferris Collins (Sr.), QB Patrick Miller (Sr.), LG Josh Ricciardi (Sr.), OL/DE Griffin White (Sr.); Walpole — OL/DL Mike Frederick (Sr.), OL/DL Brendan Kearns (Sr.), S Kevin Needham (Sr.), OL/LB Matt Reynard (Sr.)


Seniors on roster: Milton — 26; Walpole — 23.

Last Super Bowl appearance: Milton — 2022; Walpole — 2008


Bay State Conference / Herget Division foes for decades, the Wildcats and Timberwolves will be meeting for the second time this season. Walpole won the league meeting, 42-23, at home on Oct. 13, its first win over Milton in seven tries dating to 2014. “[The matchup] a really good thing for the Bay State Conference,” Walpole coach Chris Sullivan said. “The con is that it’s always hard to beat somebody twice . . . We can’t think ‘We won Week 6, we’re going to win Week 13.’” Milton is making its second straight Super Bowl trip, but with a new QB. Including two-way starters, Milton will have eight of 22 players from last year’s 34-28 loss vs. Wakefield projected to start again Thursday. Dembowski pointed to a return to health for the Wildcats as the postseason began as a major reason for their turnaround. “We’re always going to be quarterback-dependent because of what we do on offense, but we’ve had a lot of receivers and running backs make plays for us,” Dembowski said. “We’ve found different ways to win.”


Between a 1-3 start for Walpole and a three-game losing streak at the end of the regular season for Milton, each team has overcome its share of adversity. The Wildcats were at Gillette in 2022, but has so many new faces at so many critical positions. It’s always unique to have league rivals meet in a state championship, with few if any secrets between the sides; the prolific passing attacks aren’t going to sneak up on anyone at this juncture. Expect a back-and-forth contest well into the fourth quarter, with whoever has the ball last in position to win.


Milton 31, Walpole 30