FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It was a trade that Deshaun Dias would make a million times again. He gave up the shirt off of his back, but left Gillette Stadium with the game ball and trophy for the Mashpee High School football team.
Mashpee’s best player had one of his best performances on the largest stage to lead the Falcons to their second-ever MIAA Super Bowl championship, as the Falcons (10-3) dominated the fourth quarter to knock off St. Bernard’s (12-1) in the Division 6 title game, 28-8.
His shirt was collected for the Patriots Hall of Fame after the game, to be displayed for the next season as one of the six MIAA Super Bowl champs.
In the fourth quarter, Dias did what his coaches told him he was going to have to do. He put the Falcons on his back and carried them to a state championship, with a big time assist from an underrated, but feisty, offensive line.
Dias, who ran for 1,208 yards in the state playoffs alone and scored 15 touchdowns during that run, had scoring runs of 58, 20, and 29 yards in the final period. That propelled the Falcons to victory against a scrappy Bernardian group, that entered the final stanza deadlocked at 8-8.
“The last words out of my mouth when we left at halftime was ‘we’re putting this on your shoulders, and you’re going to carry us home, you and the offensive line.’ That’s exactly what they did,” MHS Head Coach Matt Triveri said.
The coach said he hoped that some college scouts took notice of what the all-time leading rusher at Mashpee High during the postseason.
“He’s a great football player. I think he’s the most underrated player in this state, it’s good that people got to see him on this stage…I think this is probably the greatest playoff run in the history of this state. You’re talking about a kid that ran for 1,200 yards, in five games, that’s an unbelievable performance.”
With time running out in the fourth quarter, and his team’s win secured, Dias walked off with the game ball under his hands, and a promise that he made to his coaching staff four years ago fulfilled. As a freshman, he told the MHS coaching staff that he was going to win a Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
Heading to the sidelines, with a smile on his face deserving of the moment, Dias was embraced by Coach Triveri.
“He said, ‘How’s it feel to have your Super Bowl ring?,” Dias said, fighting back tears. “It was the biggest game of my life, to be able to run and play where champions play, it’s just like wow, ‘I just scored four touchdowns.’”
For three quarters the Bernardians did a good job of limiting Dias’s impact on the game. He entered the fourth quarter with 96-yards on the ground, and one touchdown, but the bulk of that had come on the first Mashpee drive of the game. The formerly undefeated squad’s defense did a nice job of getting Dias to the ground near the line of scrimmage in the second and third quarters, but he finally broke loose in the fourth.
In the final quarter, Dias ran for 145-yards, and was able to get to the second level. “My offensive line did a great job blocking all game long. It’s a line of all seniors, and I can’t thank them enough for what they did today…I kept telling them just keep punching and punching, I’ll break one, keep going. That’s a big thing for us, we have to have a high motor and keep pushing.”
It wasn’t just the offensive line that had its motor going. The defensive line for the Falcons did a great job of shutting down St. Bernard’s and, their Doug Flutie-like quarterback, Cooper Bigelow. Despite their offense running just three offensive plays in the third quarter, the Mashpee defense held the Bernardians to just 71 yards in the second half, and intercepted two passes. They finished with four takeaways overall in the game.
Big Defensive Stand: St. Bernard’s had a great chance to break the 8-8 halftime deadlock on their first drive of the second half. The Bernardians marched from their own 49 all the way to the Mashpee one. Mashpee’s defense stiffened. On second and goal, from the one, Geno Fellini blitzed the gap to drop Aaron Robichaud for a loss of five-yards. Then, on the next play, Caleb Gonsalves blew up another jet sweep with an ankle tackle to stop James Xarras.
St. Bernard’s Head Coach Tom Bingham said that series was the defining moment.
“Scoring there would have changed the scope of the game very much, I think,” he said. “High school football, 10 minute quarters, it’s all about momentum and not punching it in there certainly didn’t help us.”
Triveri saw it the same way.
“That was the turning point, and then after that we’re going to feed it to No. 5 the rest of the way.”
St. Bernard’s lined up for a 25-yard field goal try to take the lead, but the kick was off the mark and MHS took over with 3:21 left in the quarter. They had to punt it away after three offensive plays, but forced St. Bernard’s to do the same thing early in the fourth quarter.
Taking over at their own 22, it took the Falcons just three plays to go 78-yards and grab the lead for good. Dias was stacked up by Sean Laflamme for a gain of just one on first down, but then got to the edge for 19 on the next play before his run of the game, a 58-yard TD scamper on a toss left. He cut back against the grain and turned on the jet to put MHS on top.
The Falcons then forced a turnover on the Bernadians’ next possession, and it was Dias that secured the takeaway. The linebacker jumped undercut a throw by Bigelow to give his team the ball back at the Mashpee 47 with 6:06 to play. Six plays later the team’s MVP was in the end zone again, this time on a 20-yard scoring run on a toss to the right.
Mashpee then took the ball away on the kickoff to set up another touchdown. Backup defensive back Jake Johnton knocked the ball loose and recovered it to set his team up with the ball at the 38. Three more runs by Dias allowed them to ice the game away, as Dias’s 29-yard yard scoring run, his fourth of the day, made it 28-8.
In the first half, the Falcons made it look easy on their first drive of the game. They marched 55-yards in seven plays, all runs by Dias, to take an 8-0 lead. Dias ran it in from the nine and then Nick Carpenter hit Billy McNamara on the conversion.
St. Bernard’s Fights Back: St. Bernard’s tied the score at 8-8 with a long 16-play scoring drive that started late in the first quarter and finished midway through the second. Robichaud capped the long drive, which was aided by a facemask against the Falcons on a fourth-and-10, with a lunge from the one-yard line. He added the two-point conversion on a jet sweep to the left.
The Bernardians did not find the end zone again after that. Mashpee started to attack their jet sweep plays aggressively, and took it away for the most part. They also contained Bigelow, and kept him from turning anything that broke down into something electric.
“I’m proud of the kids. What an absolutely fantastic year. This senior class is something special for St. Bernard’s football. Not only did they have a great season, but they turned our program around and got us going in the right direction…it will never be forgotten.”