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    Darren Watson seizes opportunity for North Andover

    Foxborough MA 11/30/18 North Andover Darren Watson recovers a fumble against King Philip during first half action of the MIAA Division 1 State Championship at Gillette Stadium. (photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic: 01schbowl reporter: Nathaniel Weitzer
    Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff
    North Andover’s Darren Watson (2) recovers a game-changing fumble in Friday’s D4 Super Bowl win over King Philip.

    FOXBOROUGH — In its first 11 wins, North Andover averaged 38.5 points per game.

    But in Friday’s Division 2 Super Bowl, it was defense that delivered a perfect finish for the Scarlet Knights in a 6-0 victory over two-time defending champion King Philip.

    And no player seized the moment more than senior captain Darren Watson.

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    Consistent runs from senior Ryan Halliday allowed King Philip to sustain long drives all fall, pushing opposing defenses to the breaking point.

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    Friday night, though, almost like clockwork, Watson came up from his position at defensive back to deliver a big blow to Halliday — stopping the tailback’s momentum.

    Then, following an interception in the end zone that Watson believed he should have caught for a touchdown — the biggest play of the night came early in the second quarter. And it was produced by Watson.

    Senior Mark Federico blew up a King Philip pitch to Halliday, and Watson recovered the fumble on the Warriors’ 7, leading to the game’s only touchdown.

    “[Federico] hit the man and the ball was just there so I just grabbed it,” said Watson.

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    “I should have scored, though.”

    “This game meant so much to [Watson],” said North Andover coach John Dubzinski. “He has been focused all week and he has had a great career.”

    “For him to make the play down there to cause the fumble and us scoring was huge because we weren’t really doing much on offense.”

    Watson entered the season as a returning all-Merrimack Valley Conference pick after rushing for 1,000-plus yards from scrimmage in 2017.

    But after dealing with nagging injuries early on — coupled with the emergence of junior Freddy Gabin — the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Watson willingly shifted to receiver to help the team.

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    Watson had one catch— a 29-yard gain late in the fourth to keep the Scarlet Knight’s drive moving and help halt any chance of a King Philip comeback.

    But it was his presence on defense that was the difference.

    “We knew our defense was great but I don’t know if anyone else did,” said Watson holding the Division 2 hardware close to his side.

    “We just had to come out in the biggest game of the season and show them.”

    Karl Capen can be reached at karl.capen@globe.com.