H.S. Football: Quarterbacks shine as D-R wins Thanksgiving rivalry vs. Seekonk
Dighton-Rehoboth 27, Seekonk 20
SEEKONK - If Thanksgiving morning was any indication, the rest of the South Coast Conference better be on alert for the Falcons and Warriors next year.
Junior quarterbacks John Marcille and JT Moran combined for almost 500 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns Thursday morning, but in this matchup of 2020 contenders, it was the D-R defense that made the biggest plays at the biggest moments.
The Warriors had two drives late in the fourth quarter down one score and with momentum on their side and failed to score both times. Moran was strip-sacked with 5:21 left with D-R senior linebacker Aidan Botelho recovering the fumble, and the Warriors’ final drive stalled a few minutes later as the Falcons held on for a 27-20 rivalry victory in front of a large, loud crowd at Connolly Field.
“It was nerve-wracking at the end,” D-R coach Dave Moura said. “That strip-sack was huge. We were on our heels and they smelled blood. We’re a young team, they’re a young team, but we made a play when we had to.”
The D-R defensive effort thwarted a stellar second half for the Warriors. Down 21-6 at halftime, Seekonk opened the second half with senior Robert Sheahan intercepting Marcille on the first play. The Warriors then marched 79 yards on 13 plays with Moran scoring from 3 yards out on an option keeper.
Moran directed another scoring drive early in the fourth quarter, running for 23 yards and throwing for 50 on the 12-play, 82-yard scoring drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown to an open Nathan Clarke up the middle of the field.
Seekonk had two more possessions but came up empty as the Falcons hoisted the trophy in victory.
“Our guys battled. It was a hard-fought game,” Seekonk coach Vernon Crawford said. “I’m just so proud of the kids and the coaches who got them ready to play today. We made a lot of mental mistakes and just couldn’t come out with the win today.”
REPORTERTODAY.COM MVP: Marcille had a hand in every D-R score, finishing 9-16 for 166 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Falcons. He hit Ishmael Christmas for a 2-yard score early in the second quarter, and added two more TD passes to Jaren Ramos before the end of the half. His best throw of the day may have been the 55-yard score to Botelho in the third quarter, a laser down the middle of the field where Botelho had split the Seekonk safeties for a score. “He played great. He’s young and still has a lot of learning to do,” Moura said of his junior quarterback. “He’s going to have a big basketball season and we’ll get back at it in the spring.”
SEEKONK’S STELLAR SIGNAL-CALLER: It’s evident the trust Crawford has in his quarterback as Moran attempted 41 passes and ran the ball 19 times. He completed 21 of those attempts for 229 yards and two touchdowns, while gaining 76 yards on the ground, including the 3-yard score on the option keeper. He finished the 2019 season with almost 2,600 passing yards and 22 touchdowns while also rushing for almost 600 yards and nine scores. He’s the main reason coach Crawford said after the game: “The future looks bright for the Seekonk Warriors.”
D-R SENIORS GOT OUT ON TOP: Thursday morning was the final game for seven Falcons: Marcus Moss, Christmas, Botelho, Ashton Boyle, Miguel Garcia, Evan Gleason and Zach Larrimore. It was an extra-special ending for Moss, Gleason and Botelho as the three are the only Falcons to play all four years. “It’s been a long season with its ups and downs but this team has stayed together. We’re a family and we stick together, and (the victory) is the result,” Gleason said after the game. His words were echoed by Moss and Botelho. “Everyone stepped up,” said Moss, who injured his knee earlier in the season and couldn’t suit up for the finale. “I’m so proud of these boys right here. They played hard the whole game.” “We busted our butts everyday since freshman year,” Botelho said. “So we feel like we deserve this. It feels amazing.” Moura said the group has been through a lot. “Those three guys, Botelho, Moss and Gleason, who have been here since freshman year, they’re persevered through everything. They were here two years ago when we lost on Thanksgiving, got embarrassed. Then they were here last year at Gillette Stadium (in the MIAA Super Bowl), and then they were able to win their last football game. They’ve seen the ups and downs. And the other four guys, they’re all contributed significantly throughout the year. It’s a great group, I’m really happy for them.”
SEEKONK SENIORS KEEP THEIR HEADS UP: Thanksgiving morning was the final game for nine Warriors: Robert Sheahan, Julian Mendes, Miguel Jorge, Jack Murphy, David Pedro, Brendan Morales, Casey Brown, Austin Blanco and Jacob McKitchen. “They’re my brothers,” Murphy said of his fellow seniors. Crawford added that the seniors brought a lot of leadership to the Seekonk sideline. “They’re a great group,” Crawford said. “Our seniors showed the rest of the kids how to be a Warrior and do things our way. I’m so happy for them. I hope they stick around and come back around and keep supporting us.”
NEW VENUE IN THE FUTURE: The 2020 Thanksgiving matchup will rotate back to Dighton-Rehoboth, but when the game shifts back to Seekonk in 2021, the Warriors may have a new artificial turf playing surface. At a recent town meeting, Seekonk voters appropriated $200,000 as the first step to installing a new turf field at Seekonk High School. “This will be huge for not only Seekonk High School, but for the town too,” Seekonk Athletic Director John Moran said before Thursday’s game, saying the new surface will be used by the football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey teams, as well as town youth leagues. “We’re hoping that the next Thanksgiving game here (in 2021) will be on the new turf.” Before Thursday’s game, the natural grass on Connolly Field was obviously worn down with most of the middle of the field being dirt instead of mud, a common sight on any grass surface at the end of the fall season.
QUICK SLANTS: Nathan Clarke was on the receiving end of both of Moran’s touchdowns, the first being a 35-yarder in which he broke open in the middle of the field, and the second a 20-yarder. The junior finished with nine catches for 95 yards and two scores and ends the 2019 season with 64 receptions for 1,085 yards. … Ramos totalled almost 100 yards of total offense with 51 yards receiving on two catches, both of which were touchdowns, and 43 yards on the ground on nine carries. He and sophomore Brady Walsh (11 carries for 69 yards on Thursday) will join Marcille as returners to the D-R offense next season. … The marching bands from both schools performed during the 30-minute halftime period, and both absolutely crushed it out of the park. The D-R show has an Aladdin theme while Seekonk goes with James Bond. … Seekonk won the opening coin toss and elected to receive. … Clarke also tallied an interception from his defensive position in the secondary. … Seekonk started three freshmen on the offensive line: Josh Troiano, Stephen Prew and Ryan Doherty. … The student sections in the stands for both schools were loud throughout. … Moura’s staff includes Kevin Gousie, Frank Garcia, Mike MacDonald and John Gendron. Matt Brown, Ryan Eaton, Andrew Brown, John Johnson, Henry Lanciaux and Jim Lamoureux are on Crawford’s staff. … Both teams qualified for the MIAA playoffs; Seekonk in Div. 7 and Dighton-Rehoboth in Div. 4. … Murphy had a nice game in his finale, catching four balls for 43 yards, picking up 23 yards on the ground on five carries, and adding a sack and a few tackles for loss on defense. … The Falcons finished season 4-7 and the Warriors at 6-6. … The Reporter wanted to thank coaches Crawford and Moura for their time after games this season. Win or lose, both coaches always answered all our questions thoughtfully and politely. They have a lot to be proud of with how their players carry themselves on and off the field, but the communities of Dighton-Rehoboth and Seekonk also have a lot to be proud of with the coaches leading the hometown teams.
DIGHTON-REHOBOTH 27, SEEKONK 20
Dighton-Rehoboth 0 21 6 0-27
Seekonk 0 6 6 8-20
DR: Ishmael Christmas 2 pass from John Marcille (Adam Pereira kick), 5:52
DR: Jaren Ramos 23 pass from John Marcille (Adam Pereira kick), 1:22
S: Nathan Clarke 35 pass from JT Moran (kick failed), 28.6
DR: Jaren Ramos 28 pass from John Marcille (Adam Pereira kick), 7.9
S: JT Moran 3 run (pass failed), 6:19
DR: Aidan Botelho 55 pass from John Marcille, 4:47
S: Nathan Clarke 20 pass from JT Moran (JT Moran run), 7:36
DR: Brady Walsh 11-69, Jaren Ramos 9-43, John Marcille 3-2, Aidan Botelho 3-12.
S: JT Moran 19-76, Jack Murphy 5-23, Robbie Lebeau 7-27, Nathan Clarke 1-7, William Smith 1-(-5).
DR: John Marcille 9-16-166-4-2
S: JT Moran 21-41-229-2-0
DR: Ishmael Christmas 4-55, Brady Walsh 1-4, Jaren Ramos 2-51, Aidan Botelho 1-45, Wes McQuillan 1-11.
S: Nathan Clarke 9-95, Robbie Lebeau 3-14, Robert Sheahan 4-47, Jack Murphy 4-43, William Smith 1-30.