Somehow, Old Colony football is heading into uncharted, yet strangely familiar territory.
While the idea might seem a bit convoluted, it’s rather simple.
For the first time in program history, the Cougars will play for the State Vocational Championship on Thursday. The farthest they’ve made it in the State Vocational tournament was in 2016, when they made it to the semi-finals.
The familiar part about Thursday’s contest is Old Colony’s opponent. This will be game 13 for Old Colony this season, yet they’ll have only played nine teams in 2019. Furthermore, over their last seven games, including the State Vocational Championship, the Cougars will have only played three teams.
“We’ve never played multiple teams twice in the same season,” Old Colony head coach Brandon Mendez said. “Never one team three times [either].”
Old Colony has faced Upper Cape and Tri-County two times each, knocking off the Rams in the regular season and the opening round of the MIAA Division 6 South Sectional tournament, and the Tri-County Cougars in the semi-finals of the State Vocational tournament.
Tri-County also beat Old Colony in overtime on Thanksgiving Eve.
Old Colony’s prior two losses came at the hands of the same team, the same one they’re slated to face in the State Vocational Championship: South Shore.
“The one nut we haven’t cracked yet is South Shore,” Mendez said. “[This is] obviously a nice chance to get at them.”
In addition to a title and finally beating a South Shore team that’s beaten Old Colony twice, the Cougars would also get a chance to log the first double-digit win season in program history. Both the win total and State Vocational title are only made more impressive by the fact that the Mayflower Small Vocational Division had four of its five teams make the playoffs.
“It’s good for our league,” Mendez said. “It’s been a tough league. For us, being competitive through that was great. It’s kind of what we’ve done. We still got out eyes on one more though.
“Our kids’ attitude is that they’re proud of what they’ve done so far,” Mendez continued, “but they’re so hungry to get the Vocational title that I don’t think that it’s even set in yet that they are where they are.”
The old sports cliché, “It’s hard to beat the same team three times,” plays into the Cougars’ advantage this time. But that’s not something Mendez or his players will read into. They’ve reassessed everything and understand what they need to do to finally get the better of the Vikings.
“I think we got to execute better. The first two times we played them we had some costly mistakes that really – one game was [decided] by a point, second game was by a touchdown,” Mendez said. “In each game, we had the ball late in the game with the chance to go ahead and we didn’t succeed. To me, it’s prepare for another dogfight and we have to execute better.
“We got a few ideas of ways we can be a little bit better,” he continued. “And I think a lot of it came down to being a little bit tougher upfront. [South Shore has] been the toughest team in the interior we’ve played all year. I think that’s been the difference. We’ve rested on our laurels a few times with our lineman being very, very good. Now that we’re up against a line that’s just as good, we got to execute a little bit better upfront to get over the hump.”
The Cougars will be put to the test this week on Thursday at 6:00 pm at Norwell.
High School Sports Update
By Nick Friar