Franklin pulls out the shock and awe
When Greg Dellorco hauled in a 2-point conversion pass from Nick Colson with 1:45 to go, putting the finishing touch on Franklin High’s amazing 16-points-in-90-seconds fourth-quarter comeback against Mansfield last Friday, the reaction, understandably, was shock.
And when a fourth-down Mansfield pass was batted down and the 29-28 score was final, the Panthers had registered their first win over Mansfield in nearly a decade, beating a Hornets squad that has earned at least a share of six of the last eight Hockomock League titles.
Franklin coach Brad Sidwell counted at least 30 text messages on Saturday. Senior running back Matt Carini received congratulatory salutes during his afternoon shift at Dunkin’ Donuts. Other players and coaches shared high fives and handshakes. And more than a few folks regretted departing with 7 minutes remaining in the game, and Franklin trailing 28-13.
“It’s pretty crazy, everyone’s been talking about it,’’ Dellorco said.
Said Carini, “I got thanks from people I’d never talked to before. Everyone’s so happy about it.’’
There was similar buzz two seasons ago, when the Panthers dropped two straight midseason games to Mansfield and Foxborough in an otherwise terrific 9-2 campaign. But this time around, with the Hockomock looking as strong top to bottom as it has been in years, the feeling is different.
Players feel they can compete with anyone right now, with a wave of momentum from last week helping foster those feelings.
“The league is tough this year, but we want it more than anyone else in the league,’’ Carini said. “It’s all about want.’’
This senior class has been considered special for a few years. As freshmen, Carini was a varsity call-up and Colson warmed up with the junior varsity.
A year ago, Franklin showed signs of excellence in a 7-4 season. This fall, with the team in its third year running Sidwell’s spread offense, the Panthers are averaging more than 31 points a game behind the arm strength of Colson (6 TD passes), and the speed of Brian Garvey, Carini (7.9 yards per carry) and Dellorco.
“It’s been a fun offense to study, fun to coach,’’ Sidwell said. “Our kids enjoy playing in it. We really feel like we can score in it at any time.’’
The defense still needs work (the Panthers have allowed 61 points in three games). And upstart Canton (2-0), long a doormat, awaits tomorrow night.
So excuse the players when their faces turn blank at the prospect of overconfidence.
“We can’t be thinking about blowing teams out,’’ Colson said.
“Our goal is to win the Hockomock, not beat Mansfield,’’ Carini emphasized.
Just a year ago, Wellesley stumbled to a 2-9 finish with six straight losses. This fall, the Raiders are off to their first 3-0 start since 2005, when Globe All-Scholastic Thomas Claiborne, now a starting guard at Boston College, was manning the trenches.
Strong senior leadership has helped pave the way for the unbeaten start. But coach Bill Tracey has also opened up the playbook, implementing a spread-option attack while pushing aside the wing-T that the program had run for decades. Running the new scheme, Wellesley has scored at least 25 points in all three games.
The offense has allowed senior wide receiver and captain Casey Tanner to showcase his elusive open-field skills in scoring five touchdowns. Last Friday, he racked up 111 yards of offense and two touchdowns in a 25-7 win over Framingham.
“He demands a lot of himself, which I think gains a lot of respect from the players on the team,’’ Tracey said. “He’s one of the harder workers we have. He’s never satisfied with himself.’’
Brito piled up 210 all-purpose yards in a 48-6 Independent School League win over Milton Academy, hauling in a 38-yard touchdown pass from Mike Orloff as well as returning a punt and a kickoff for scores.
Coach Mike Taylor was happy with his team’s impressive debut. “We’ve had a very rigorous preseason, so frankly I’m not surprised. They looked fluid, they were in late-season form.’’
Notice a little more bounce in the step of Marlborough High back A.C. Carter this season? Credit his brother, Josh, now running the wishbone with precision as a sophomore quarterback at Springfield College.
In the off-season, the 6-foot, 190-pound Marlborough senior incorporated many of the lifting and agility drills that his brother uses in his workouts with the Pride.
“I feel like I have an upper hand on some people,’’ said Carter, who has piloted Marlborough to a 3-0 start.
Carter’s list of suitors includes Northeastern, Holy Cross, and a few Ivies - but his lone offer in hand is from the University of San Diego.
Brendan Hall can be reached at email@example.com