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Schofer bruised, not beaten in Northbridge title win

Brendan C. Hall/ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Limping through most of Saturday's Division 5 state title game against East Bridgewater at Gillette Stadium, Northbridge quarterback Koby Schofer gutted out an impressive performance in leading the Rams to their first crown since 2011.

Normally a dual-threat running and passing quarterback, as well as a play-making safety on defense, the injuries limited the athletic Schofer on both sides of the ball.

Limited or not, Schofer proved to be a game-changer all over the field in the 36-34 win.

“I’m not surprised at the way Coby played at all,” said East Bridgewater coach Shawn Tarpey. “He’s a heck of a player. He showed a lot of heart playing through the injury. He’s their guy, he’s been there for three or four years for them, so I’m not surprised at anything he did.”

Even with an effective showing in the passing game, Schofer’s biggest contribution of the day came from his safety position in the game’s final minute.

“He’s a good athlete. We know that,” said Northbridge coach, and Schofer’s grandfather, Ken LaChappelle. “He hasn’t been at his best heath wise, but he’s still very productive. Koby out there at that time on one leg is still someone we wanted.”

On the final drive, Graham uncorked a deep pass to Jake Peterson, who already had three touchdown catches on the day, and Schofer responded by racing –uninhibited by his injuries – from his safety position to intercept the pass and seal the Rams’ win.

“When it was the air, I had a feeling I had a chance for it and knew I just had to get to the spot,” said Schofer. “I wasn’t feeling (my leg) on that. Just knowing this was our last game and that we’ve worked so hard to get to this point and try to finally win it. Knowing that, and everyone having my back and being supportive just helped me fight through.”

While his play on defense sealed the win for the Rams, Schofer reinventing himself without the ability to run from his quarterback spot helped enable Northbridge to outlast East Bridgewater in the shootout battle.

The signal caller spent the entire contest in the pocket, never once attempting to rush the ball. He finished 16-for-23 passing for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“We asked our guys to step up,” said LaChappelle. “I challenged him and said I need the Koby of old. And he delivered.”

Added Schofer: “I knew I was going to have to throw the ball more, and be more effective with that. Jake (Wood) and Mike (Quinn) really picked up the run game. They did a heck of a job.”

The title, LaChappelle’s 11th at the helm of Northbridge, marked the program’s first championship since 2011, and the first state title since the MIAA switched to the state wide championship format.

“We won a number of Super Bowls, but this is special,” said LaChapelle. “25 years from now, it will be even more special. I’ve been here long enough to remember games from 25 years ago, and I’ve got a feeling people are going to remember this game because East Bridgewater was a great opponent.”