SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. – And then, there were three.
Ken LaChapelle of Northbridge joined the Massachusetts high school football’s 300-win club today as he became the third coach to achieve this great feat with a one-sided 42-12 win over Southbridge.
With the win, LaChapelle joins Armond Colombo (Archbishop Williams, Brockton, 1960-2002, 316-100-5) and Bill Broderick (Rindge Tech, Haverhill, Salem, 1908-42, 49, 303-68-42) among the elite club of MIAA coaches with 300 career wins. LaChapelle has been the head coach at Northbridge continuously since 1976, and it's the only head coaching job he's ever held in his career. His overall record now stands at 300-94-6.
The game was supposed to be played Friday, but due to weather conditions was moved to Sunday, which was a little disappointing to LaChapelle -- but not for the reason you might think.
“What you lose is that nice atmosphere, that Friday night lights atmosphere that we in Northbridge have," said LaChapelle. “And the waiting...not because it’s the 300th win, it’s just waiting as a coach, as a staff, as a team. Waiting until Sunday to play the game, we’re not used to that. We’re used to a nice Friday night, play the game and enjoy the weekend.”
The Rams, as a team, did not lose a beat or shuffle once the ball was in play. On the first Southbridge possession, the Pioneers went 19 yards then punted the ball to Northbridge. After Dan Clasby failed to catch Matt Phelan’s first pass, Phelan kept the ball on the next possession and took it 70 yards down the left sideline to light up the scoreboard with 6:58 left in the first quarter. After a Southbridge four and out, Phelan again ran in the touchdown, the second from five out making the game 14-0 at the 4:38 mark in the first quarter. Phelan would go to punch in two more touchdowns in the first quarter – 5 and 79 yards respectively.
Family Affair: In the second quarter, Daiton LaChapelle, Ken’s grandson, caught a 20 yard pass from Phelan, making the game 28-0. Daiton’s dad, Trevor LaChapelle, is also said to have made a great play in coach LaChapelle’s 100th win.
In the third quarter, Clasby rumbled in from 11 out but the final touchdown was a crowning achievement –- Koby Schofer, coach LaChapelle’s other grandson, on the team, scored on a 64-yard run.
“I have three boys, and they played for me. That was easy compared to having your grandsons play for you,” LaChapelle said. “As we were approaching this time, I always said it was special that they’re part of this celebration. It wasn’t until Koby was in the end zone, that I realized and said to my AD, ‘Hey, this is pretty special. Two grandsons scoring a touchdown in this 300th win.’ That really puts a little icing on the cake.”
Schofer’s score came in between Southbridge’s only scores on the day –- a 22 yard run by Emilio Torres and a two yard rush by Ariel De La Cruz with 47 seconds left in the game. The Rams took a knee after the ensuing kickoff to finish the game.
Bobby Boucher: Matt Phelan is an awesome quarterback and a great runner, but before he donned a jersey for coach LaChapelle, he served up some H2O for the Rams as a water boy, always hoping one day for an afternoon like this.
“Growing up, wanting to be a Ram, wanting to play for Coach Lach [LaChappelle], it’s been everything I wanted it to be playing under Coach Lach. He’s a great coach and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”