By Steev Riccardo
fall short in Super Bowl bid 20-6 to Nashoba
Foxboro – The Shepherd Hill Rams’ outstanding season ended with a 20-6 loss to the undefeated 13-0 Nashoba Chieftains in the Central Mass Division 2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium on Saturday morning.
After the two teams battled through a hard fought scoreless first quarter, the Chieftains took a 7-0 lead on an 18-yard run by Andrew Cross.
The Rams nearly scored in the final seconds of the first half when senior co-captain Drew Ravenelle connected with sophomore Drew Jean-Guiilaume on a brilliant 42-yard pass play. putting the ball on the three-yard line, but time expired before they could run another play.
Following a Chieftains punt on their first possession of the second half, the Rams had one of their biggest plays of the season.
On a second down play from their own 28-yard line, Ravenelle hit Chris Dutting with a pass in the middle of the field between two Chieftain defenders and Dutting did the rest, galloping 72 yards for a touchdown. The conversion failed but the Rams were on the board, trailing by a mere point, 7-6.
Not to be denied, the Chieftains came back and scored on their next possession and took a 13-6 lead into the final quarter.
Kyle Amico made a huge play with 4:20 left, giving the Rams plenty of time to get down the field and have a chance to tie the game.
Moments later, a great play by the Chieftains Brady Shartner, who picked off Ravenelle and motored into the end zone proved to be the costly blow that would end the Rams bid for a title.
“I thought we played great,” said Rams coach Chris Lindstrom. “We were in it right until the end. We did what we wanted to do, we stopped them and they made a nice play. But you could see we moved the ball, we left some points on the board and we have to make the plays in a big game like this. The effort was outstanding by both teams but I thought my team really brought it.”
Even in defeat, the Rams made two of the biggest and longest plays of the game, both on pass plays, which isn’t something they did much of all year. “We can throw the ball but don’t want to do that, that is not our game, our game is to come at folks and keep coming. When we keep coming, we are hard to stop,” said Lindstrom.
Ravenelle joked about the play to Dutting afterwards. “The only touchdown of the game being a passing touchdown, that’s Shepherd Hill football. We just surprised them by going over the top, the throw to Dutting was in the perfect position and he made the play.”
“I saw the ball in the air and I knew the two safeties were near me and when I caught the ball they didn’t hit me as hard as I thought they would,” said Dutting. “I was looking up at the jumbotron the whole time I was running to see if they were behind me.”
When asked about the team’s season overall, Lindstrom said, “Unbelievable, this is totally unexpected from when we went into training camp, what these guys have done, bringing their team to Gillette Stadium, this is just really phenomenal. It’s always better to win but being here and putting our hat in the ring, it’s a great journey for them as they are learning how to be men.”
Ravenelle also knows what this season meant to him and his teammates. “It was a journey and more fun that you can ever imagine.”
“It was an awesome experience,” said Dutting. “I can’t even put it in words, our team has the most heart. We are a family; no one can separate us.”
The Rams set up their Super Bowl appearance by beating Doherty 34-8 earlier in the week at Foley Stadium. The win avenged an earlier loss (32-28) to the Highlanders in one of the best games of the season.
Brad Picard and Dutting scored a pair of touchdowns, while Ravenelle added a two-yard run in the huge win.
Despite losing in the title game, it was a great season for the Rams, who finished with an excellent 10-3 record.