The Sharon High football team looks to capitalize on the promising signs shown in a 28-0 defeat to Davenport Division rival Oliver Ames on Saturday in its aim to continue progressing as a squad.
“We had a good effort - made some plays, especially early,” said Head Coach Dave Morse. “All three phases – offense, defense, special teams – were a little bit away in every single situation from doing something really special.”
Senior captain and quarterback Sean O’Neill said, “It was a step forward. The first half, I think we played pretty well. We’re just one block away, an inch away here and there – that was the difference in the game. I don’t think the score reflected our effort.”
The prior game, Sharon had suffered a 37-0 loss at the hands of the Foxboro Warriors on Oct. 4. In Easton on Saturday, Sharon trailed at halftime, 7-0, in a much-improved performance.
“Our intensity early on in the game was much better, and our execution was better early,” Morse said. “We played better fundamentally as a unit on both sides of the ball.”
Senior captain Frank Sullivan said, “I think we played an incredible first half defensively.”
“I thought there were a lot of positives to be taken away from this game, and the game was much closer from the 28-0 score,” said senior captain Erik Kushner, who was sidelined with a labrum injury. “The defense played great but just couldn’t get a break. We were one play away the whole game.”
Kushner said that among the Eagles’ defenders, senior outside linebacker London Chandler (two forced fumbles, team-high tackles) and junior defensive end Andrius Bernotas (one-handed interception) stood out.
Oliver Ames, the top team in the Hockomock League’s Davenport Division, added two touchdowns in the third quarter and another in the fourth. Sharon was unable to muster a significant offensive threat, falling on the season to 1-4 overall (1-2 Davenport).
Morse said of Oliver Ames, “The film doesn’t lie; they were exactly what we thought they were going to be - physical up front, got off the ball, good skill guys, great quarterback.
“[Sharon made a] couple mistakes here and there, and they seemed to expose our mistakes. We’ve just got to clean those up. I’m proud of the effort,” Morse added.
Kushner, a tight end on offense when healthy, said that the Eagles’ attack needs to progress as they prepare to face Stoughton, another Davenport foe, on Friday night. “Offense needs to make fewer mistakes. They move the ball well but make mistakes and become stagnant,” he said.
“We need to fix a couple of things, and we will,” said Sullivan. “I'm sure Coach Morse will put us in the best possible situation to succeed against Stoughton.”
Saturday’s game was the first game back for a handful of Sharon football alumni, who returned from their respective college campuses for Columbus Day Weekend.
Many (including myself) watched all of the team’s games to date on the computer and had been looking forward to seeing the 2013 edition of the squad in person.
UMass-Amherst freshman Brad Schiff, a captain on Sharon’s Div. III Super Bowl Championship team, who was named Hockomock League Defensive MVP and an All-State linebacker last year, says that he has seen strides in the current Eagles from the beginning of this season.
“I could definitely tell that younger players are picking up the footwork and their fundamentals. Although we are struggling as a unit to make plays, we are doing our jobs, and players seem to be comfortable on the field,” said Schiff, who coached this year’s defense during summer passing league.
Jordan Owen, a 2011 Sharon captain and a sophomore at UMass-Dartmouth, says that he was pleased with the effort of the squad. “It was a good fight. They’re really young, and they’ve just got to keep playing hard,” Owen said.
2012 captain Calvin Joseph, a Merrimack College freshman, says that it was a strange feeling to not be coming to the field and taking the gridiron.
“It’s a completely different experience seeing the team I played with for four years [and] me not playing with them. It was a good experience; I got to see what everybody else saw, from the sidelines. I wish I could be out there suiting up, but I can’t,” Joseph added.
Schiff said that seeing the Sharon game live brought a rush. “It felt great just to be in the high school football environment, and you could sense the urgency in the air.”
Personally speaking, the Oliver Ames game was the first Eagles game that I was at, and wrote a story about, since being a part of the football, basketball, and baseball teams and authoring nearly 100 articles about Sharon athletics last school year.
As a freshman at UMass-Amherst, it is a certainly different feeling not contributing to the goings-on in the program.
Even more alumni will be feeling the mixed emotions of seeing their old team play when they return for the Thanksgiving Day game, which, for the first time ever, will be an in-season rematch with OA.
Sharon will look to beat their archnemesis for the first
time since 2003 when they take the Eagle Stadium gridiron on Nov. 28 at 10 a.m.