The Sharon High football team looks to resume their early-season success when they host Davenport Division rival Stoughton on Saturday.
Head Coach Dave Morse says that the game against the 6-0 Black Knights, the centerpiece of Sharon’s Homecoming weekend, will be intense.
“Very hard-fought game. Division battle. Two good teams, a lot of good players on the field. I’m looking forward to it,” Morse said.
After starting the season 5-0, the last two being consecutive Hockomock League wins for the first time in many years, the Eagles were shut out 43-0 by Kelly-Rex opponent King Philip last Friday night.
“We got exposed [Friday], and that’s my fault,” Morse said. “They’re a really good Hockomock team. Potentially we could be that, but we’ve got to work harder, out-coach people, and prepare better.”
“That loss definitely brought us down to earth,” said Gray. “We’re no longer undefeated, and teams see that we are vulnerable.
“We didn’t execute on anything – special teams, offense, or defense. If we tighten those three areas and come out there with that fighting mentality, I don’t see any reason why we can’t come out there with a win,” Gray added.
“Each week, we try to improve in all three phases of the game,” said Morse. “Got to throw the ball a little bit better, run the ball, tackle better, cover better, kick better. It’s things we do [practice] every week.”
In their first (of four) Davenport Division game of the season, two weeks ago, Sharon defeated Canton, 21-14. Senior running back Eric Lesser says that the magnitude of Friday’s matchup is immense.
“It’s really important. It’s an in-league, Davenport game. Every win is huge. This one is just going to make us one step closer to winning a championship,” said Lesser.
“It’s a deciding game at this point, late in the season,” said Morse. “Only one team goes [to the playoffs] from the division, so every in-division game is of huge importance.”
The Black Knights defeated the Eagles last fall in Stoughton. Gray says the Eagles defense needs to limit explosive plays.
“Last year was a lot closer than the score [indicated]. There were a few big plays; we’ve just got to cut down on those big plays, and fight them up front,” said Gray.
The Black Knights, who come in after a tough 12-7 victory over Kelly-Rex foe North Attleboro, are ranked among the Top 20 teams by The Boston Globe.
“They run the ball very well,” said Morse. “They have a good pass game. They can extend the field. They play very stout defense, a lot of athletes. Good players over there.
“They’re well-coached. It will be very similar to the Canton game with the physicality. I’m looking forward to it. We’ve just got to make plays, be prepared, and execute when called upon,” Morse added.
“It starts with the defense,” Lesser said. “Hopefully, we’ll get a couple of stops. The offensive line needs to play the best game they’ve had. We have some good running backs, but they just need to get some holes. If we stop them on defense, then we’ll be all set.”
Gray says that the Eagles have had spring in their collective step this week. “You can definitely tell, there’s been a lot of spirit going on. It’s been a high-tempo practice. Practice has been going a lot better than last week. Hopefully, that leads to some results,” he said.
“Practice has been good,” said Morse. “Kids are upbeat. They’re looking forward to it. They seem to be well-prepared.”
“We’ve had a really good week of practice,” Lesser said. “Finally, we get a longer practice with the game on Saturday. We’ve had full-pads, full-speed. Everyone is getting healthy. It’s going to be a good week.”
“We’ve got to go out and show that we don’t have the flaws we had last week,” said Gray. “Those are gone. We’ve got to execute better. We’ve been working on the basics a little more this week.”
After Sharon has not played their best in the first halves of their first two home games, wins vs. North Quincy and Taunton, Lesser says that the Eagles need to come out strong.
“A fast start is going to be very important, especially after a team this good,” said Lesser. “We’re not going to be able to come back like we did versus some of the other teams, because they’re goo good for that. We need to start off strong right away.”
“Fast start, no matter who you play, is very important,” said Morse. “You don’t want to give a team points early. You don’t want to start slowly. You don’t want to play catch-up. So it’s very important.”
Gray said, “When we don’t start out fast, we end up having to make up for it at the end. Three of the last four games, we have.
“KP was a darn good team, we didn’t come out fast, and they crushed us. We’ve got to come out fast - not let ourselves get behind and have to make up ground in the second half,” Gray added.
Morse says the Eagles need put together four consecutive quarters of top play, which they have not done in any game this year.
“We need to play a complete game of football. We have the potential to do that, but we still haven’t played a complete game yet,” Morse said.
Lesser says that the Eagles do not need to prove anything to the Hockomock League, despite last week’s loss.
“Everyone knows how good we are; we know how good everyone is. Especially in the Little Hock, every team, every game is going to be competitive. They’re going to come out there thinking that we’re just as good as anyone,” Lesser said.
“I’m sure they have a great coaching staff, great captains who are going to let them know that this is important,” Gray said. “We still have five wins. Just because of [despite] last week – everyone knows we’re still a good team.”
A pep rally was held at Sharon High on Friday afternoon to promote spirit in the game by other students. Lesser expects strong fan support at the Eagles’ Nest on Saturday.
“It’s going to be great,” said Lesser. “2:00. Homecoming. Nice Saturday afternoon. Big game. Hopefully it’s just the same [atmosphere], if not better, than Canton.”
“I expect a close game,” Lesser added. “Big crowd. Just go out there, do our best. I expect us to do good things and play a lot better than last week.”
“It’s going to be a battle – no other way to describe it,” said Gray. “We’ve got to go out there, punch them in the mouth, get that sixth win, and get in the driver’s seat in the Davenport Division.”