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Chieftains Ready for Final Challenge

November 30, 2018

Nashoba Regional defensive lineman Eli Bachtell hits Clinton quarterback Will Jent as he releases a pass on Thanksgiving Day. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / ED NISER

BOLTON -- They’ve been here before.

For the third time in the last four years, Nashoba Regional’s footballteam, champions of Central Mass., will make the 45-minute drive to Route 1 and Gillette Stadium; in short, it’s another crack at a state title for the Chieftains.

Their Division 4 opponents, Dighton-Rehoboth Regional, haven’t been to a Super Bowl in 19 years.

Don’t think for a second, though, that the Falcons’ absence gives the Chieftains an advantage when the two teams collide in Foxboro this afternoon at 5 p.m.

“It’s nice that we’ve been there before, and I think it’s a good thing, but once you start playing, it’s a football game,” Nashoba head coach Jamie Tucker said earlier this week. “And (Dighton-Rehoboth) area good football program; they’ve been competing every year: they’ve been in the South final or the South semifinal and have lost to the team that wins that, so they’ve been a really steady, consistent, strong program for years. They do a good job. Once you kick off, it’s high school football at that point.

“It is exciting when you get there. You’re in the Patriots’ stadium, and all that stuff is cool. It’s a cool experience for the kids -- and for anyone involved; the communities, the schools, for the teams. Kids can get excited, but once you start playing, it’s just like any other game.”

Dighton-Rehoboth is the South Division 4 champion and is 9-2 headed into Friday night’s contest; with no Western Mass. Division 4, the Falcons were idle while Nashoba took on North champion Gloucester in Woburn two weeks ago.

The Falcons are coming off a 33-0 win over Seekonk on Thanksgiving Eve.

Meanwhile, Nashoba comes off a 21-0 win over neighborhood rival Clinton last Thursday morning.

Dighton-Rehoboth is also a classic Wing T team, something the Chieftains have seen plenty of this fall: Gloucester is a Wing T team, and so too is Clinton.

The Falcons, though, run mainly a Wing T out of the shotgun.

“They’re good. They have some good athletes, big up front,” Tucker said. “They are a really good Wing T team: they are orderly, skilled, do a very good job with their blocking assignments. Wing T teams are tough because they are so drilled and so organized, and they have three or four guys they can give it to and a few guys they can throw it to.

“It’s nice that we’ve played some Wing T teams, but they’re different styles.”

Those offensive options include wingback Reis Foley, who is shifty in space and fullback Chase Carroll, a big, bruising young man who is difficult to take down.

″(Carroll) does a good job: that Wing T fullback has to hit the hole, make one cut to get in behind the trap or the down block, and make a move. That’s exactly what he does. And he brings that mentality to middle linebacker,” Tucker said.

Quarterback Harrison Pray is also a rather mobile quarterback with a strong arm; Pray is not your standard drop-back quarterback, as he’ll generally take a few steps off to the side and spin before he unleashes a powerful strike to favorite target Owen Arden.

Defensively, Nashoba has its hands full on Friday night.

Tucker notes that in order to slow the Falcons down, the Chieftain defensive corps have to be aware of Pray’s misdirection.

“With the Wing T, you have to stay home, you have to read your keys, you have to do all the things you teach on defense, but even more so, you have to be aware of what’s going on,” he said. “Their quarterback does a good job with his fakes and a good job with his maneuvering in the Wing T. He’s a really good athlete, and he throws on the run.”

Dighton-Rehoboth also utilizes a three-man defensive front. Nashoba has seen that from Marlboro, Algonquin, and Fitchburg.

“They can bring guys from many angles, you have to be ready for blitzes,” Tucker said.

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