After making a run through the regular season without a loss, followed by a South Sectional Finals-winning playoff run, Old Rochester Regional Bulldogs came up just shy against North Sectional champion Stoneham in the Division 6 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, losing 26-20.
The Bulldogs were able to put on a defensive performance consistent with those throughout the season. The biggest problem on the defensive side for ORR was Spartans running back Christos Argyorpoulos who ran for 113 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
However, the Bulldogs’ defense proved its worth, holding the highest scoring team in all of Massachusetts well below its average 42 points per game mark.
“Our defense played great,” ORR coach Justin Kogler said. “You look at their scores all year, they’re the highest scoring team in the state, and if we don’t give them the ball at the end there, we could have held them to under 20 points. I’m very proud of our defense.”
Although the offense only posted 20 points in the loss, that wasn’t exactly the problem either, though it wasn’t exactly where the Bulldogs wanted it to be. Fullback Desmond Diasrushed for 72 yards and a score on 14 carries. Quarterback Cole McIntyrethrew for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 6 of 11 passing. Wide receiver Tyler Noereeled in four of McIntyre’s, accumulating 94 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Adam Breaultcaught a 45-yard touchdown pass from his quarterback, and Bryce Afonso’s25-yard reception helped set up Dias’s touchdown.
“Our resiliency and our toughness [is what made this team special],” McIntyre said. “We lost some players who got hurt and bounced back, grinding and fighting. Even in the Super Bowl we were down, we were up, we were down, and we were up. We just kept fighting. We didn’t get the win, but we’re still a tough team.”
The offense built a 20-12 lead with 2:28 left in the third quarter, but a costly turnover quickly turned into a Stoneham score, making it 20-18, the Bulldogs still holding a lead. But the inability to execute late and turnovers cost the Bulldogs, leading to a fourth quarter touchdown from Stoneham.
Still, it wasn’t just the late turnovers that cost the Bulldogs. Stoneham recovered an onside kick attempt and a squib kick that ORR bobbled. Combine that with three fumbles and it was almost stunning to see the Bulldogs still holding a lead as late as they did.
“What cost us the game was all the turnovers we had on the kickoffs and all the fumbles,” Noe said. “Coach told us before the game that turnovers are going to be a big difference and he was right.”
“That was the difference in the game,” Kogler said about ORR’s turnovers. “We knew we couldn’t turn the ball over, and they recovered two onside kicks.
“It was difficult,” continued Kogler. “One of our strengths of our team this year has been our offense. We didn’t get a chance to get our offense rolling because we were on defense the whole time.”
The Bulldogs finish the year 11-1 and graduate 22 seniors: Tyler Noe,Desmond Dias,Cole McIntyre,Bryce Afonso,Adam Breault,Will Garcia,Drew Johnson,Isaiah Ostiguy,Jonny Hamilton,Nikolas Ketchie,Robbie Pedro,Anthony Childs,Liam Lynch,Noah McIntyre, Nicholas Thayer, Nathan Tripanier, Braden MacGregor, Max Urion-Nelson, Krispher Merlo,Nickolas Borsari,Nathanial King, and William Kirby.
“I’m going to miss them,” Kogler said. “Every year we’ve been going a little further and a little further and we got to Gillette. Ultimately, we fell a little short, but I’m proud of these guys and I’m going to miss them.”
High School Sports Update
By Nick Friar