By Steev Riccardo
By the time you are reading this column, we will know the outcomes of last night’s high school football division playoff games.
At press time the Bartlett Indians were preparing to take on conference rivals Leicester Wolverines in a Division 5 battle, the Shepherd Hill Rams were ready to do battle with unbeaten Nashoba Regional in a Division 2 tilt, and the Bay Path Minutemen were about to take on Valley Tech in a Division 6 battle. All three match-ups looked like beauties on paper.
The Indians didn’t have much time to recover from a difficult Thanksgiving morning loss to the Southbridge Pioneers, while the Wolverines from Leicester found themselves in a similar position after being upset by the David Prouty Panthers 20-12. Both teams had identical 7-4 records, and despite the Indians’ convincing win over the Wolverines earlier in the year, were evenly matched and at this point in time know each other very well.
In their previous match-up, the Indians dominated the Wolverines 34-7. Rocco DiStefano scored three times and DJ Kirby-Thomas had a monster game with 134 yards rushing and a huge 57-yard interception. It’s unlikely last night’s game would be the same, although it is hard to speculate on the outcome between the two well-coached teams
The Shepherd Hill Rams are one of the better teams in Central Mass, but still would have needed a huge performance from Cody Peck and company to upset undefeated Nashoba Tech, who rolled over all their opposition this season.
No matter what happens with the Rams, their season has been a huge success and they have nothing to be ashamed of. Their running game, led by Peck, Anthony Wilga, and company behind that huge offensive line, has been brutal on opponents all season.
Bay Path seems the most likely of the locals to be in the hunt for a Super Bowl win on Saturday assuming they beat Valley Tech last night.
The Minutemen have been paced all year by a great overall balanced attack featuring Kyle Pearson (16 passing TD’s) Tyler Phillips (568 yards, 8 TD’s), and Anthony Baez (10 receiving TD’s). They know how to score in many ways and their defense has been solid.
It would be nice if all three teams were still playing on Saturday, but regardless, each of the programs should be pleased. All three had winning records and solid performances across the board and have a lot to be proud of
Don Cushing Sighting
It was a pleasure running into former Bartlett High School and Nichols College Basketball coach Don Cushing on the sidelines in Southbridge on Thanksgiving morning. Coach Cushing was more than happy to share his thoughts on the Sports scene both new and old, and also referenced a couple of past columns.
The legendary coach reminisced about the great 85-83 double overtime basketball game between Bartlett and Oxford during the 75-76 season, which we had talked about in this very column a little over a month ago.
It was uncanny that he recalled the key play in the game by Pirates point guard Ricky Polis. The feisty point guard made a brilliant play, saving a loose ball that was headed out of bounds, insuring the Pirates that unforgettable win. He also joked and said the Indians played a box and one against Billy Herrion and four guys guarded him and he still threw in 47 points, which wasn’t too far from the truth. Herrion was spectacular.
Cushing also was happy to read the story about yours truly having lunch at Oxford High School with Principal Kevin Wells, who not only played for the Pirates and was best friends with Herrion, but also served as an Assistant Coach to Cushing at Nichols College.
Herrion, who played at Assumption College, has had a stellar career as an NCAA Division I coach. He coached Drexel to three NCAA tournaments and is currently head basketball coach at the University Of New Hampshire.
One of the real thrills for me being back in the area and covering local sports is being able to reminisce about some of the great sporting events from the past. Central Mass is rich in high school sports memories and guys like Don Cushing are a big part of that.
- Saturday, 26 November 2011
- Posted in Categories: : View from the Sidelines