Coach Brandon Mendez and the Old Colony football team have a good thing going, and there’s only one thing better than a good thing.
More of a good thing.
Six straight wins, including a 29-8 win over Cape Cod Tech last weekend, left the Cougars with their first Mayflower Small championship since 1997 – yep, 20 years.
While there was excitement over the feat, it was tempered by the fact that there are bigger goals afoot. The Cougars play in the Division 8 South playoffs on Saturday against Sacred Heart, so it was right back to work on Monday in Rochester.
“It was certainly something that we had looked at from the start of the season,” Mendez, in his third year at the OC helm. “It’s always a goal to win our conference. That’s where we start. But there’s also the playoffs tournament, there’s the vocational tournament, and we have our Thanksgiving Day game as well.”
But the win over CCT last Saturday was sweet.
Led as usual by the senior tandem of Brad Plissey and Jarred Gagne, who combined for four touchdowns in the win, there was plenty of time for the Cougars to savor their championship.
While the two seniors are both known for their offensive reliability and leadership (and touchdowns), they may be more important on the defense.
With most teams on the schedule running some version of run-first, pass-almost-never offenses, Plissey and Gagne are at the two most valuable spots on the field – outside linebacker.
“Their jobs are to set the edge, contain the run, so everything else comes back inside,” Mendez said. Waiting there are inside linebacker Lucas Ferreira and defensive tackle Robby Frates, who have been fundamentally sound and effective.
The Cougars have allowed just 12.6 points a game over the six-game streak, which Mendez credits to his four seniors up front.
Their next opponent was also their first opponent of the season – Sacred Heart, which capitalized on late mistakes for a 20-0 win over OC on opening day.
With a league title earned, a playoff run in the picture, and a shot at in-season revenge over a rival, you’d think things would be pretty hyped up in Rochester.
Mendez hopes not.
“I think the key for us, it’s kind of business as usual,” he said. “Maybe with a little more focus and intensity, because everything gets tuned up a little bit for a playoffs. But we always have a certain flow to the week, looking at last week, looking at this week, and we’re going to prepare the same way.”
To reverse the outcome of the opener and advance in the playoffs, the formula is simple.
“The mistakes can’t happen,” Mendez said. “We know that. We talked about focusing on the task at hand. I was pretty clear and adamant about that Monday when we got together after the break, and I think the message got across.”
Old Colony hosts Sacred Heart at 1:00 pm on Saturday on school campus.
Meanwhile, at Old Rochester Regional, the Bulldogs will be under the Friday night lights, hosting Dedham in the Division 6 South playoffs at 7:00 pm.
The Bulldogs are one of the most successful running teams of the decade on SouthCoast, led by the tandem of Harry Smith and Will Garcia. Old Rochester has yet to be held under 30 points in any of their seven games, with six of them wins.
ORR faces Dedham as the No. 2 seed and looks to avoid last year’s opening-round upset loss to Dighton-Rehoboth.
If the Bulldogs – all fired up with new logos and a whole lot of pep in their Mattapoisett home – are going to make a run, they’ll need the defense to step up. In ORR’s two games against opponents who also made the playoffs, they allowed 40 points (to Wareham) and 36 (to Somerset Berkley).
Another team expecting a deep playoff run is the ORR girls’ soccer team, whose undefeated season came to an end with a 4-2 loss to Apponequet on Monday. But at 15-1-1, ORR is likely to earn a No. 1 seed in the postseason and will look to test its young stars against more experienced tourney opponents.
There’s some big news at Tabor Academy, where Tabor alum and standout hockey goalie Jeramie Forget committed to play for Princeton University. Forget, who is from Quebec, graduated from Tabor in 2017 and has been playing for Carleton Place of the CCHL.
While some of the fall Tabor squads have been toward the bottom of the standings in the newly joined Independent School League, girls’ soccer was 5-2-3 and at .500 in the conference. Cat Barry leads the league with 18 goals and 11 assists, while freshman teammate Jaydah Bedoya is fourth in the league in scoring.
By Jonathan Comey