Black Knights dominate Bulldogs on Thanksgiving
Stoughton High football team top dog once again in annual holiday showdown with Canton High.
For the 14th time in the past 16 years, Stoughton had a very happy Thanksgiving. The Black Knights took their sixth consecutive Turkey Day victory, with a 26-6 home victory over Canton.
Stoughton now holds a 42-39-4 advantage, dating back to 1926, in one of the oldest high school rivalries in Massachusetts. The Black Knights have now outscored Canton 202-28 over the last six games.
There was no Hockomock League title or divisional title or post-season berth on the line. No winning seasons or records to be set. Instead, the only thing at stake, and the most important, was the pride for both the Stoughton and Canton High School football teams to win their 85th annual Thanksgiving Day football game and salvage some success and bragging rights.
Stoughton finished the season at 4-7 overall, 3-1 in the Davenport (small schools) division and 3-6 in Hockomock League play while Canton ended up 0-10-1 overall, 0-3-1 in the Davenport Division and 0-8-1 in the Hockomock League. Stoughton wound up tied for first place in the Davenport Division.
The Black Knights entered the contest without a home win, while Canton was winless on the road. Stoughton's wins, this season were at Winchester, Sharon and Foxboro, and the Bulldogs' tied Sharon, at home. Stoughton entered the contest being outscored by its opponents 229-133 while Canton could only score 93 points while giving up 337.
Canton, despite its record, possessed dangerous weapons and attempted to combat Stoughton's size advantage with team speed. Senior captains Anthony Larose (10 carries for 32 yards and one touchdown) and Ryan Conrad tried to spark the Canton offense. Elias Camacho, a sophomore wide receiver, had three receptions for 72 yards. A pleasant surprise was junior Dexter Green. Green had been injured throughout the season, but returned for his first varsity game and had 38 rushing yards to go with 77 passing yards)
Stoughton was without the services of starting quarterback senior captain Sean O'Malley who had suffered a broken collarbone midway through the season. O'Malley combined a strong throwing arm with solid running abilty. Stoughton also was without junior wide receiver, running back and kicker Alex Fernandes.
Aaron Calixte (2 of 6 for 69 yards, one touchdown and one interception) a strong-armed sophomore took over the signal-calling for the Black Knights.
"Our sophomores came through and everyone else came up big for us," Stoughton Coach Greg Burke said. "Canton played us very tough in the first half, but we made some adjustments and began to wear them down with our running game (36 carries for 211 yards.) Our defense was very strong against Canton and helped us until our offense got going."
The first quarter was scoreless and featured Canton outgaining Stoughton, 61-15, in total yardage, but losing all three possessions on fumbles. Canton lost five fumbles in the game, two converted by Stoughton for touchdowns.
"We played as well as we could, but when you fumble the ball five times and hurt yourself, you can't win many games," said Canton Coach Jim Goff.
Stoughton's offense had trouble moving the ball as well with two turnovers. The Canton defense played a strong first half. The lone score was by Stoughton, in the opening minute of the first half, when Alves picked up a loose fumble and scampered ten yards for a touchdown. Shawn Connolly added the first of his two extra points to give the Black Knights a 7-0 advantage entering halftime.
Stoughton still had plenty of weapons at the skilled positions. Travis Demko, (22 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns), a senior, ended up with eight touchdowns on the season. Felipe (Fouad) Njeim, a senior, (five carries 39 yards) also helped to power the running game. Two other sophomores Aaron Mack (five carries for 21 yards) and Marcus Middleton (40-yard touchdown reception) had five receiving touchdowns on the season were among the many Stoughton stars on Thanksgiving.
Anchoring the lines was All-Star senior captain Francis Ike, standing over 6'5" and 275 pounds. On defense, Stoughton was led by junior Brandon Alves who had two sacks and picked up a fumble for a touchdown. Seniors James Brauneis, Kevin Linehan and Drew Madoff made it very tough on the Canton offense.
In the second half, Stoughton took over the game. The Black Knights best quarter all season has been the third, outscoring its opposition 43-8, including 13-0, against Canton. The sophomore combination came through for the Black Knights. Middleton, on the receiving end of a 40-yard touchdown pass from Calixte, produced a touchdown for Stoughton. On the ensuing possession, Demko added a five-yard touchdown run, set up after Linehan recoverd a Canton fumble.
Demko added another touchdown, in the fourth quarter, from one-yard out, after setting it up with a 43-yard run on the previous play.
Canton averted the shutout, with 1:51 left, when Larose rushed for a four-yard touchdown run. The ensuing extra point failed, accounting for the final score.
"Our offensive line played a strong game and we were more relaxed as the game went on and it made a big difference," said Demko. "I wanted to end my high school football career with a win and we did and I'm very happy with the outcome and being a part of this team."
Canton 0 0 0 6 - 6
Stoughton 0 7 13 6 - 26
S-Brandon Alves 10-yard fumble return; Shawn Connolly extra point.
S-Marcus Middleton 40-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Calixte; Connolly extra point.
S-Travis Demko 5-yard touchdown run; extra point failed.
S-Demko one-yard touchdown run; extra point failed.
C-Anthony Larose four-yard touchdown run; extra point failed.