Chieftains End Season on a High Note
By Jordana Bieze Foster
The Nashoba Regional football team’s 2013 season ended the same way it began – on a winning streak. The Chieftains’ 35-0 Thanksgiving Day victory over traditional rival North Middlesex was Nashoba’s third consecutive win and brought the team’s final record to 7-4.
That record is a testament to the way the Chieftains remained committed to salvaging their season after losing their only playoff game back on November 1, said first-year head coach Jamie Tucker.
“We put ourselves in a tough situation after losing in the playoffs, and I told these guys our new goal was to be 7-4. And it really shows a lot of character that they were able to come back and win three more games,” said Tucker, who, despite the frigid temperatures, enjoyed a celebratory soaking by the Chieftain players after the game.
Under the new MIAA playoff system, the Super Bowl is now the only game played after Thanksgiving Day, and for the first time in three years, the Chieftains will not be going to the Super Bowl. St. John’s of Shrewsbury, including Stow wide receiver Mike McGillicuddy, will play Mansfield in the Division 2 Super Bowl game at Gillette Stadium on December 7.
Many people will remember this season as the one in which Nashoba’s 29-game winning streak came to an end. But Stow lineman and co-captain Mike d’Entremont would prefer to think of it as the year he and his fellow seniors played the last game of their careers on Thanksgiving Day.
“This is the first time in a while that the last game of the season has been on Thanksgiving. To play my last high school football game on Thanksgiving Day, with all of the tradition that involves, is pretty cool,” d’Entremont said. “We were playing for ourselves, but also for everyone who wore our numbers before us.”
The Nashoba seniors came up big against the Patriots (2-9) on Thursday. Four seniors – running back Eli Williams, co-captain and fullback Frankie Chiodo, Stow running back Matt Sabourin, and quarterback Matt Mudgett – all found the end zone for the Chieftains.
Williams got things started midway through the first quarter with a 62-yard touchdown run. Stow junior Casey Elkins converted the extra-point attempt, and the Chieftains led 7-0. Three minutes later, a 14-yard run by junior Drew Schartner added another six points. Elkins’ kick was foiled by the wind, but Nashoba led 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.
An interception by Schartner set the stage for the most impressive play of the game with nine minutes left in the half. On second and 10 from the Chieftain 44 yard line, Sabourin had gained about 20 yards with the ball before a Patriot defender popped it out of his grasp and up into the air. But Stow senior linebacker Nick Tavis was in the perfect position to snatch the ball and advance it to the Patriot 10-yard line. Sabourin found the end zone on the next play, and Williams added a two-point conversion to extend the lead to 21-0.
“Linebackers don’t usually get to run the ball very much, but that was something Nick wanted,” d’Entremont said. “Now he’s got a 30-yard run in the record books.”
After a scoreless third quarter, the Chieftains got on the board again with a five-yard run by Chiodo with nine minutes left in the game. A successful kick by Elkins made it 28-0. The final score came on a one-yard run by Mudgett with 2:24 left, and Elkins tacked on the extra point to bring the score to its final margin.
The Chieftain defense was stifling for all four quarters, holding the Patriot offense to just two first downs that did not involve penalties.
Williams, who finished with 159 yards on 10 carries, was named Nashoba’s offensive MVP. Chiodo took home the defensive MVP award for the Chieftains. For the Patriots, junior quarterback John Boutwell was the offensive MVP and junior linebacker Jesse Cronin the defensive MVP.