High schools
    Next Score View the next score


    Communication, athleticism have led Millis to the Division 8 Super Bowl

    Millis football player Jake McKee runs a drill during practice in preparation of their Division 8 game Superbowl game against Hoosac Valley in Millis, Mass., Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe.
    Gretchen Ertl for The Globe
    Millis players stay sharp at practice Monday ahead of their Division 8 Super Bowl appearance.

    Senior quarterback Bryce Latosek pilots a prolific Millis attack that is putting up 30.3 points per game. His 32 touchdown passes pace Division 8.

    But a stingy Mohawk defense also warrants equal billing in the program’s march to its second straight Super Bowl appearance.

    Yielding 12.4 points per game, Millis (11-1) has forced 35 turnovers, including 24 interceptions, in 12 games. The Mohawks have also registered 21 sacks.


    All impressive numbers.

    Get Varsity News in your inbox:
    Your weekly look at the top high school sports stories.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    Millis will need stout play at all three levels Saturday afternoon (Gillette Stadium, 1:30 p.m.) against Western Mass. juggernaut Hoosac Valley (11-0), which blasted Nashoba Valley Tech, 76-34, in a Division 8 state semifinal, and is averaging 46 points per game.

    The key component all season, according to Millis senior safety P.J. Adams, has been communication.

    “The connection we have together has really made it easier on us out there. We just want to play for each other. It doesn’t matter who makes the play, just as long as it gets done,” Adams said.

    And the Mohawks get it done by being all-in on the weekly game plan, along with high-end athleticism.


    “We know our back-end speed is elite,” said Millis coach Dana Olson.

    “We’ve got four kids that run in the sub-4.7 range, which is unusual for high school football, especially in Massachusetts, so if you throw the ball on our secondary there’s a good possibility that it’s probably going to get picked.”

    The 5-foot-11-inch, 165-pound Adams, one of four senior defensive backs, is joined by Dom Zonfrelli (5-7, 170), Andrew Brooks (5-7, 150), and Raymond Hilaire (5-7, 150).

    “It’s a group has played a ton of football,” Olson said. “We’ve faced some really good quarterbacks over the last couple of years and some really good spread offenses in Holliston and Westwood. We’ve been challenged, but they’re seasoned veterans back there. They’ve played a ton of big games.”

    The Mohawks don’t rely on a base package. They change their scheme week to week depending on the opponent.


    Olson says that detail allows the coaches to put the players in the best position to be successful. Adams says the routine allows the players to just play, rather than overthink.

    “We love [not having a set defense] because they always come up with the perfect defense for us and we just go crazy every week,” Adams said.

    “We just love the different looks because it makes it easy on us with our coaches putting us in the right positions.”

    Added Olson, “A lot of people defensively say, ‘Hey, we’re just a 3-4 or a 40 front or we’re a base 4-3 or 4-4.’ We’ve run it all this year and it all depends on what we’re facing and what we think will put our kids into a position to be successful. So schematically it all depends week to week and I think that’s what makes us such a great defense because we’ve morphed into what we needed in a particular situation.”

    The key to success, Olson added, is having players who can multiple positions.

    And on a roster that lists just 28 varsity players, that is essential.

    Adams, Zonfrelli, and Brooks are all productive receivers. Outside linebacker and senior captain Kurt Hopkins (5-9, 175) is a force in the backfield.

    “I’m on every set, so I don’t come out at all, I play the whole game,” Adams said.

    “Our athletic trainer, Jimmy Perkins, he’s always got new things for us that keeps us in shape and we’re always running because we know how important it is, especially in late-game situations when you need to be able to contribute the most.”

    On Saturday, that will require matching Hoosac Valley’s physicality.

    “They pride themselves on being a strong football team, which they are,” said Olson. “They’ve got some big kids up front, they’re well-coached up front and they get after it.

    “If we match their physical play I think it’s going to be one hell of a game.”

    Brandan Blom can be reached at brandan.blom@globe.com.