TAUNTON, Mass. -- In last night’s Division 3A semifinal Dighton-Rehoboth senior Michael Mello electrified the Falcons’ faithful with a 70-yard gallop through the snow to jump up early over Bishop Feehan.
Then the Shamrocks shut off the Falcons’ power and destroyed the transformer.
The Feehan rushing attack, led by junior Matth Allen, piled 341 yards in the first half en route to a 49-7 thrashing at Taunton High to advance to Saturday’s title game against Lynnfield.
“They’ve been waiting for this and they let it rip,” Bishop Feehan coach Curt Smith said. “The ironic thing is that we talked about that very play [the big early run] with that very player yesterday in practice. The little guy, behind that heap of humanity, if you go nowhere he’s going to wiggle out. We talked about squeezing those piles in and staying square. I told the kids don’t worry about it, it’s early in the football game, there’s a lot of time; we’ll get the ball back.”
Once the Shamrocks got the rock, it was all over. On their second snap Allen scampered for 41 of his 194 yards (189 in the first half) down the D-R sideline to set up a red zone situation which senior quarterback Nick Romero would finish five plays later with a one-yard touchdown plunge. Romero finished the game with 32 yards rushing.
Sophomore Matt Glebus rushed for 46 yards, and senior co-captain Matthew Pisano rushed for 28 yards and a pair for touchdowns.
The next Feehan drive Allen scored from eight yards out to give the Shamrocks the lead.
“It was awesome,” Allen said. “My line was awesome today; the holes I ran through were huge. They were massive. You never expect a blowout in the playoffs and I did not expect this at all.”
Allen turned on the spectacular midway through the second quarter with touchdown runs of 39 and 53 yards on consecutive touches to balloon the lead to 28-7. Allen also converted all seven extra points for the Shamrocks to make his total points haul 25.
“We had way too many missed tackles,” Dighton-Rehoboth coach Dave Driscoll said. “Football is a game of blocking and tackling and they blocked better than we did and they tackled better than we did.”
Defensively the Shamrocks made life a nightmare for Falcons sophomore quarterback Nathan Kowalski. Kowalski, who threw for over 1,300 yards during the regular season, was held to a paltry eight yards on 1-15 passing and took numerous hits.
Driscoll credited Feehan’s speed and athleticism for causing headaches for his offense.
“Our O-line had a hard time creating holes, and they’re so athletic at the linebacker position and the secondary position that even when guys were open they had the closing speed to deflect passes,” Driscoll said. “The secondary made nice plays. We tried everything; they had their way. I congratulate them and wish them luck in the next round.”
DOMINANCE IN THE TRENCHES
There are no exceptionally large players on Bishop Feehan’s lines. No one is over 6-foot-1 and there are no 300-pounders, but it is an exceptionally intelligent and physical bunch that asserted its dominance over the Falcons’ line, including 6-foot-7, 315-pound Chuddy Nwachukwu, early.
“You’ve got to stay strong and drive them off the ball,” sophomore Chris Barthe said. "There’s nothing else to it. You’ve got to stay physical and more tough, mentally and physically.”
Defensively the Shamrocks were able to beat D-R to the point of attack, get into the backfield, and cause chaos. Smith credits that to simple, yet effective coaching and execution.
“We keep it very, very simple; we find we can be much more successful in a one-gap technique,” Smith said. “We play one gap, you hold gap, and everyone fits together in our scheme. Everyone has a responsibility and they take that very seriously and buy in. You’d be surprised how easy that is.”
For Barthe, the payoff is seeing his teammates in the backfield hit the holes he, and the line, create and get to the end zone.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Barthe said. “I got to give all the respect to the running backs holding onto the ball in this weather. We’ve been doing this all year.”
FEEHAN’S JACK OF ALL TRADES
Isaiah Douglas is a football player. The Feehan junior isn’t classified by one position and he played like it last night.
Douglas ran for 97 yards, including a smooth 50-yard touchdown run, and locked down Dighton-Rehoboth’s top receiver, Paul Costa.
“It feels good,” Douglas said. “. I’ve been trying every day and working hard. All week we’ve been preparing for D-R and coach had me lock out [Costa]; focus on him, lockout on him, study his moves and everything.”
Kowalski’s 1-15 passing line was due in large part to Douglas who was able to close quickly on Costa and bat a handful of balls away at the last minute.
Offensively, Douglas benefited from being part of the tailback committee that the Shamrocks were able to rotate in throughout the game and stay fresh.
“Just ran hard,” Douglas said. “Coach told me to run hard and lower my shoulder and it’ll come.”
Smith was quick to praise Douglas for his skill, leadership, and love of the game.
“He’s an extraordinary player,” Smith said. “He’s our only junior on defense. He loves football; he eat, sleeps, and drinks football. We challenged him. We said it was going to be quite a challenge; we told him how they liked to throw the ball and if they had a big play you’d have to have a short memory and you’ve got to get over it. He rose to the occasion.”