It all comes down to this.
Saturday morning at Gillette Stadium, Concord-Carlisle (12-0 overall) and Oliver Ames (7-4) will battle it out for Division 3 football supremacy at the Eastern Massachusetts Superbowl.
The 9 a.m. kickoff will be televised live by Comcast Sportsnet New England, and will be broadcast on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and CCHS Radio WIQH 88.3FM. Patch will also be providing a live blog during the game.
Concord-Carlisle, champions of the Dual-County League (small division), is making its second straight trip to the Eastern Mass. Superbowl after . The Patriots lost to Duxbury in the Division 2A championship game last year.
Advancing to the state playoffs for the first time, OA, the Davenport Division champs of the Hockomock League, came through in the clutch against in its semifinal matchup Tuesday night.
Coming in ranked sixth in the state by The Boston Globe and ESPN Boston, the Patriots provide one of the best offensive and defensive linemen in the state. Henry Bumpus, Thomas Kleyn and Andrew VanderWilden have been key blockers up front for the C-C offense. They have also contributed to a defense that has only given up 120 points all year (an average of 10 per game)
Offensively, senior running back George Craan (200-plus yards, 4 touchdowns against Holliston) and quarterback Ryan Hoey lead the Patriot attack that averages nearly 35 points per game.
OA’s defense, meanwhile, has been taken advantage of opportunities in the team’s three-game winning streak.
In Tuesday’s win, the Tigers, giving up an average of 16.1 points per contest, held a potent Pembroke offense (averaging over 25 points per game going in) to just 12 points. Pembroke running back Jon Hooper, who led all Division 3 running backs with 18 touchdowns, only found the end zone once as the OA defense forced quarterback Luke Nagle to throw the ball 45 times. Junior defensive back Brandon Gagliardi sealed the Tiger victory with an 88-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Offensively, OA has seen improvement from senior quarterback Jared Schneider in recent weeks, and senior running back Sam Langston topped 100 yards rushing in 10 of the team’s 11 contests.
Concord-Carlisle comes in as the favorites looking to cap off a perfect season. But can OA pull off the upset?
Here are a few storylines to keep an eye on:
- In recent weeks, kicking off to OA running back Carlton Williamson proved costly for the opposition. The senior has had three kickoff returns for a touchdown and he put his team ahead for good Tuesday night with a 90-yard runback. While OA might get good field possession, look for Concord-Carlisle to squib the ball on kickoffs to set up its defense.
- It’s no secret that Concord-Carlisle’s Craan is one of the better runners in the state. While his performance against Holliston was second to none, the Patriots have many weapons offensively that can burn the opposition. Hoyer is more than a game manager behind center and receiver Henry Boynton has been clutch.
- Last week the Tigers tried a flea-flicker and nearly connected on a long-gain, but an off-sides penalty called the play back. Coming in as the underdogs, look for head coach Jim Artz to call a trick play or two on Saturday.
Follow Patch’s live blog from Saturday’s contest at Gillette Stadium beginning (approximately) 15 minutes before kickoff.