NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. – No. 7 strode on the field, cool and composed. He’d missed a point-after try earlier in the game, but it didn’t seem to deter his confidence.
He was about to attempt a 19-yard field goal that could give his team a two-point lead with only seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“He said, ‘Coach, I can make that.’ So I said, ‘OK,’” King Philip head coach Brian Lee said.
You couldn’t find his name anywhere on King Philip football’s gameday roster on Saturday, the mysterious No. 7, the place kicker for the Warriors. He’s a freshman at KP who’s played football most his life but only started place kicking about a year ago. He only began kicking with the varsity squad a few weeks back in the Mansfield game because injuries sidelined the Warriors’ other place kickers ahead of him on the depth chart.
It’s a thing straight out of myth.
Although hardly anyone present at Community Field yesterday for the Warriors’ Hockomock League battle with North Attleborough knew his name, few will soon forget No. 7.
His name is Derek Roschlein.
“Coach told me to stay down, look at the ball and pretend like no one was here,” said No. 7, moments before he was tackled on the field by a swarm of pint-sized high school freshmen.
It was just Roschlein and a couple hundred of his closest friends. And when his kick went sailing through the uprights and out onto the front lawn of a home on the opposite side of Barrows Street, Roschlein and his friends “went nuts.”
“I just cleared my mind and knew I could do it.”
Although the Warriors (9-1, 3-1 Kelley-Rex) held on for a 16-14 win, moments later, Mansfield finished off a victory of its own over Franklin, giving the division title, and a playoff berth, to the Hornets. In essence, KP’s victory allowed Mansfield, which had beaten the Warriors two weeks prior, to take the crown.
But KP wasn’t in a position to give up. The Warriors fell behind North, 14-13, on the final play of the third quarter as quarterback Ryan Perron (8 of 16, 191 yards, 2 TD) hit a wide-open Jake Dallaire on a seam route for a 63-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing Warriors’ drive, KP saw a promising march stall in the red zone, as North cornerback Dan Cummings intercepted a pass in the end zone.
The Red Rocketeers (6-4, 2-2) thought they’d notched an insurance score on a Dwayne Hunter run following the interception, but for the second time in the second half, a touchdown was scrubbed off the board due to a penalty (KP also had a score called back in the third quarter).
After a North punt, the Warriors took over with 3:13 on the clock, needing a score.
With about a minute to play, it appeared as though KP’s comeback attempt would sputter out, faced with a third-and-10 from the North 18-yard line. But, as he’d done for much of the game, Lee put the game in the hands of junior running back Joe Johnston (24 carries, 157 yards, 2 TD). He promptly bounced a run to the left side, going for 12 yards and extending the drive.
North’s defense was able to bottle up Johnston on three straight goal-to-go carries, however, posing Lee with the quandary of whether to put the ball in Johnston’s hands yet again, or call upon his untested freshman kicker to win the game.
That’s when No. 7 made his name known.
KP -- 7 6 0 3 -- 16
North -- 7 0 7 0 -- 14
North - Alex Jette 21-yard pass from Ryan Perron (Dwayne Hunter kick)
KP - Joe Johnston 5-yard run (Derek Roschlein kick)
KP - Joe Johnston 1-yard run (kick failed)
North - Jake Dallaire 67-yard pass from Perron (Hunter kick)
KP - Derek Roschlein 22-yard field goal