It was quite the showcase: eight MIAA Super Bowls in a 30-hour span on the turf at Gillette Stadium, a 320-minute display of riveting plays, crunching tackles, game-breaking runs, crisp passes, a go-ahead 30-yard field, emotionally-charged victories, and yes, tears of joys and disapointment.
There were no shortage of highlight reel plays. Here were eight that earned our attention.
■ Everett 35, Xaverian 10 — Following a pivotal fourth-down red zone stop in the third quarter, Everett senior back Kevin Brown went for the run of his life.
“Coach tolds us, he said, ‘Hey, you have to get us out of the end zone,” Brown recounted. “I said, ‘Hey Coach, I got you.’”
Brown received the handoff from quarterback Jake Willcox and went to work, bounding towards the right sideline, then turning upfield after a bone-crunching block by Anthony Norcia created all the daylight Brown needed. Yet another of the Crimson’s burly, bruising backs, Brown proved he had speed to boot, going 98 yards to give Everett a 28-10 lead midway through the third quarter. The Crimson went on to defeat Xaverian, 35-10, for the D1 crown.
“It’s probably the best feeling in the world,” Brown said.
■King Philip 10, Lincoln-Sudbury 7 — On the opening drive of the second half in the Division 2 state title game, King Philip was staring at the teeth of a 7-0 deficit – and the offense had been non-existent up until this point against a tough Lincoln-Sudbury defense. A simple quarterback keeper by KP’s Brendan Lydon saw the experienced senior leave the game with a leg injury. In stepped JV sophomore quarterback Robert Jarest. Not having played a snap at the varsity level before and not even bringing his play band, none of this seemed to affect him. Seven plays later, Jarest threw it deep to a wide-open Thomas Madden to set up Shane Frommer’s game-tying 13-yard touchdown en route to King Philip’s 25th straight victory, 10-7, and second-consecutive Super Bowl.
■ St. John’s Shrewsbury 35, North Attleborough 33 — St. John’s of Shrewsbury was torching the North Attleborough D with short passes out of a no-huddle offense.
Leading 28-20 in the third quarter, the Pioneers faced third-and-12 from their own 26 and set up in another spread formation, but senior quarterback Steven Bucciaglia saw something in the coverage.
“[The Red Rocketeers] were in zero coverage, playing man-to-man, and they were sending the house,” Buccliaga explained.
St. John’s appeared to send two receivers out on slants, but sophomore John Brunelle planted his foot and went deep, fooling North’s coverage and setting up a 74-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the most pivotal play in a 35-33 win for St. John’s.
“John [Brunelle] did a great job getting open and that made the throw easy for me,” said Buccliaga.
■ Melrose 21, Nashoba Regional 0 — Melrose was in control of a 14-0 lead in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 4 Super Bowl, but Nashoba was threatening to cut the Red Raiders’ lead in half.
Facing a fourth-and-5 at the Melrose 25, Nashoba called for quarterback Breese Hill to roll out to his left with three receivers out on patterns to that side.
Melrose sophomore cornerback Chris Cusolito abandoned the Nashoba receiver going deep, broke on the intermediate route and intercepted Hill’s pass, returning it 55 yards to the Nashoba 30 and setting up an eventual 1-yard TD run by Melrose quarterback Charlie Stanton for the final score of a 21-0 victory.
“We went over that play with the crossing routes in practice all week,” said Cusolito of his third quarter interception. “I saw the slant, and there was no one running behind me, so I just cut in front of it.”
■ Dennis-Yarmouth 37, West Springfield 7 — D-Y opened up a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. With West Springfield pinned behind their own 20-yard line following the ensuing kickoff, the Dolphins’ defense came up with a crushing takeaway.
On West Springfield’s first play of the drive, D-Y senior captain Rob Evans picked off a pass over the middle by Terriers’ quarterback Tylor Rochefort. Evans returned the pick 29 yards for a touchdown, giving the Dolphins’ their second touchdown in 13 seconds.
“We made some mistakes early and that was the difference,”said West Springfield coach Chad Labonte. “We made some mistakes this year, but when you play against a team as good as D-Y, they’re glaring.”
■ Middleborough 43, Littleton 20 — Down 6-0 at the start of the second quarter, Middleborough faced a fourth-and-4 at the Littleton 15-yard line. From the shotgun with four men split out wide, Gwozdz took the snap and faked the run, but was quickly flushed out of the pocket. He was clearly in trouble, scrambling away from defenders by running backwards and then rolling out toward the sideline. Just before the blitz got to him, the senior quarterback made a great throw off his back foot to Colin O’Brien, who made a tough tip-toe catch on the sideline at the Littleton 4 to extend the drive. The two connected for a 4-yard touchdown on the very next play, scoring the first six of an eventual 43 total points for the Sachems.
■ Mashpee 22, Blackstone Valley Tech 16 — With less than a minute remaining in the Division 7 Super Bowl, Blackstone Valley Tech trailed Mashpee, 22-16, and with no timeouts had one final shot to get into the end zone. Following a few first downs and gaining momentum, Beavers’ quarterback Reece Hendriks threw a pass over the middle of the field. Little-known Mashpee sophomore Kendall Rose jumped right in front of the route to intercept the pass and seal the Falcons’ third consecutive state championship. “I have no words,” said Rose. “My team, we just fought hard through the whole thing, and luckily I was the person to make that great play at the end of the game.”
■ Millis 37, Hoosac Valley 0 — With less thana minute left in the first half of the Division 8 Super Bowl, Millis led Hoosac Valley, 17-0, and had the ball at the Hoosac 50. Against a Hoosac Valley squad that averaged 47 points per game and hung 76 points on Nashoba Tech in the state semifinals, no lead was safe. Instead of taking a passive conservative approach, Millis went on the attack and looked to score another touchdown when quarterback Bryce Latosek found Andrew Brooks streaking down the seam for a 50-yard TD that gave the Mohawks a 24-0 halftime lead that proved insurmountable for Hoosac.Compiled by Brandan Blom, Henry Brechter, Karl Capen, Owen Pence, Lenny Rowe, Dan Shulman, and Nate Weitzer.