Nashoba 8th Grade Chiefs to Playoffs…Oct. 21, 2015
By Jess Thomas
The Nashoba Youth Football eighth grade team defeated Groton Sunday afternoon on the road by a final score of 34-6 to secure its spot in the playoffs.
Nashoba concluded the season with a 6-2 record and will occupy one of the top three seeds in the playoffs.
Head coach Dave Reirden said that the two losses came against Worcester, who is the number one seed in eighth grade, and Shrewsbury, who is the three-time defending state champion.
Nashoba took Shrewsbury to double overtime before falling.
“We’ve been competitive all year,” Reirden said. “We have one of the best defenses in the league and I couldn’t be prouder of these kids.”
The defense came to play on a cold, windy day where even a swirling light snow made an appearance in mid-October.
Reirden said, “We were hoping it would stay a little warmer out here, but it’s nice to get out in the cold and play in that playoff kind of atmosphere.”
Nashoba’s defense held Groton scoreless until late in the third quarter, once the contest was all but over. Groton connected on a 56-yard touchdown pass for its only score in the rout.
Other than the touchdown, Groton could only muster 12 yards of total offense against an intimidating Nashoba D. Groton fumbled a punt attempt, and also had a punt blocked.
On offense, Nashoba got on the board just 2:19 into the game with an 8-yard touchdown run by Bolton’s Cole Jefts. Jefts had 17 yards rushing on the drive.
Jake Bonazzoli kicked for two to make it 8-0 Nashoba.
On the next drive, Andrew DiBattista extended the lead with a 7-yard touchdown dash of his own. Bonazzoli connected on his second straight kick to put Nashoba up 16-0 with 3:13 left in the first.
The team was far from done in the opening period, as Nashoba took over at Groton’s 18 yard-line after the blocked punt.
Stow’s Aidan Lee needed only one play to put his squad up 22-0, running 18 yards to paydirt courtesy of numerous shifty jukes on the way.
Cameron Rierden put a cherry on top of the huge first quarter with a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown on the last play of the quarter, Nashoba up 28-0.
Nashoba put its final tally on the board a few minutes before halftime on one of its few passing attempts.
Jefts was back at it, hooking up with Lucas Halbrook for an 8-yard touchdown after a rollout to the right side.
Coach Reirden was aware that Groton has had some trouble scoring this year, but he used the opportunity to get his entire squad some action in the final regular season game.
“It gives us a chance to let other guys do something and that’s always fun too,” Reirden said. “As long as we get out of here healthy, that’s the most important thing.”
Captains for Nashoba change every game, but on this day, Lee, Stow’s Tom Keough and Bolton’s Nick Romasco had the honor of being captain.
Reirden has had a blast in his first year coaching this team and is looking forward to how they perform in the playoffs.
“We just have a great group of kids,” Reirden said proudly. “These guys do everything we ask of them.”