The roar of the crowd vibrated throughout the bleachers, on both sides of the gridiron, at Canton High, but the salute was not for the host Bulldogs.
In its unbeaten start, the Sharon High football team is developing an audience, and those fans watched the Eagles rally for the tying touchdown with 53 seconds left Friday night to force overtime.
In OT, Adam Banks hauled in a 10-yard pass from junior quarterback Sean O’Neill and Eric Lesser booted the extra point for a 21-14 victory as Sharon secured its first 5-0 start since 1998. The program has not had a winning season since 1988.
The Eagles have won nine of their last 13 games dating back to last season, when Dave Morse made his debut as head coach.
It’s undeniable that he has changed the program for the better.
Morse, though, refuses to take the credit, instead choosing to praise his players and their positive attitudes.
“They’re hard-working kids, and they’ve got great attitudes. They do what they need to do to win games,” said Morse, who worked as an assistant at Sharon in 2010 after two seasons at Norwood. He is in his second year as an aide in the special education department at the high school.
Knowing the perseverance of his players, Morse expected Friday night’s matchup to be a battle.
The Eagles are not lacking in confidence, and that was apparent in their comeback from a 14-0 deficit on Friday night, when O’Neill connected with Brad Kaufman on scoring passes of 20 and 27 yards.
Senior linebacker Brad Schiff has noticed a change in the team’s morale this season.
“I think it’s the team attitude definitely,” said Schiff. “The work ethic definitely changed and everyone hopped on board. It’s a whole unit. It’s coaches and the team. It’s not just one person that makes the whole difference.”
The players worked hard this past summer after Morse encouraged offseason training.
“We lift three times a week,” said senior running back Sean Asnes . “We went to summer passing leagues. We went to a couple of camps. We just got better over the summer.”
The Eagles’ resilience is unquestionable: they ripped off 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter of a 34-22 win over North Quincy, with Asnes rushing for 201 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
“We don’t give up,” said O’Neill. “We play the full game. We play overtime. That’s how we’re coached and that’s how we play every game.”
And they truly appreciate the support from the stands.
“I don’t know if it was a coincidence, but once all the fans started to get here, that’s when we started to play, so it means a lot to us,” said Asnes.
The Eagles have celebrated their victories, but have quickly turned their attention ahead, focusing on their next opponent. On Friday, Sharon takes on fellow unbeaten King Philip in the Hockomock League opener for both squads.
In 1998, Sharon also started 5-0, but did not win another game. The Eagles are determined not to repeat history.
“We go into every game thinking we’re going to win, so we’re confident,” said Asnes.
“King Philip is one of the best-coached teams in the conference,” said Morse. “They have a bunch of good kids. They’re coming off a playoff appearance. We’ll try to prepare as best we can. We plan on hopefully putting a better game plan together for them, and we’ll see what happens. . . . King Philip will be a huge test.”
Walpole shows big D
In the last eight quarters, unbeaten Walpole has allowed just three points, including a 44-0 Bay State Conference shutout of longtime rival Norwood on Saturday.
The Rebels, who have not lost to Norwood in over a decade, held the Mustangs to minus 1 yard in total offense.
“It went better than expected,” said Walpole coach Barry Greener. The Rebels scored on six of their first seven possessions, with Cam Hanley scoring three touchdowns and Mike Rando adding two more.
The 5-0 Rebels will host Wellesley (2-3) Friday night.
“We always want to play better than the game before,” said Greener.
Here and there
Duxbury extended its state-best winning streak to 31 games with a 20-16 win over Xaverian. The Dragons (5-0) play at Pembroke Friday.
Pembroke knocked off Whitman-Hanson, 19-3, before falling to Oliver Ames, 28-6, on Saturday.
W-H (4-1) responded with a 28-7 win over Hanover. The Panthers host Quincy (2-3) Friday.
Unbeaten Abington registered five sacks in its 29-0 win over Norwell. The Green Wave has allowed just 10.4 points per game.