O’Bryant won a must-have league game over visiting Dorchester, 8-6, Friday, but earning its fifth straight victory doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done.
“We have to get a lot better,” said Tigers coach Kevin Gadson, who, while pleased with tying Latin Academy for first place in the Boston South league and inching closer to a playoff berth, insists there’s room for improvement.
“We have to practice better, hit harder, we have to block better and we have to tackle better,” he said. “We won the game, but we weren’t sharp at all. We got to get more disciplined and take advantage of some of the opportunities we let get by. Last year we lost, 6-0, to them and this year we won, 8-6, so it was still a slug-match, but we can and have to be much better.”
The usually offensively adept Tigers got the win, but it wasn’t pretty. Save for the 20-yard TD pass from quarterback Ajani Alfred-McFall to Brian Donna on their first drive (and the 2-point conversion run by Mehki Williams), the game was filled with stop-and-go possessions that resulted in punts and two turnovers on downs.
By the end of the first half, O’Bryant had 53 total yards, most of which came on the TD pass. The Bears (3-2, 2-2), who had 142 first-half yards, got their only score from a surprise contributor in linebacker Leon Sealy, who channeled his inner Mike Vrabel to haul in a 43-yard pass from Demetrius Leary in the second.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game came late in the fourth quarter. The Bears, needing a score, assumed control at their 27-yard line after forcing a turnover on downs. Two plays later, Leary threw a pass that was intercepted by Alfred-McFall, sealing the win for the Tigers.
“It felt great to get that game-winning interception because it secured our lead and guaranteed us a win,” said Alfred-McFall, who helped lead a second-half defensive performance that yielded just 12 total yards to Dorchester.
Said Gadson, “Our defense is always bailing us out. Once we learn how to finish games, we’re really going to be something.”
With the win, O’Bryant (5-0, 4-0) is tied with Latin Academy (6-0, 4-0).
The two teams will square off at White Stadium for the Boston South title in two weeks. O’Bryant travels to face winless South Boston next week in a nonleague game. Latin Academy has a bye.
“All I know is we have South Boston next, and until then, we’re not worrying about Latin Academy,” said Gadson. “I’m happy for the guys, and they’re glad we won, but we’re not done yet.”