After six games, it’s only tonight’s game against Stoughton that matters to the Foxboro High School football team. With a record of 4-2, tonight’s game will likely decide if the Warriors will qualify for the MIAA Division 4 tournament, or if they will be relegated to exhibition games for the remainder of the year.
According to unofficial rankings tabulated by the Boston Herald, the Warriors are very much on the bubble when it comes to qualifying for the postseason. With the top eight teams in each section making the tournament, Foxboro sits in ninth place behind 3-3 Hanover.
A win will send Foxboro into second place in the Davenport Division and increases the team’s chances for postseason play. While divisions of five teams or more were suppose to have two automatic qualifiers, the MIAA recently announced that second place teams may not get an automatic spot. A loss makes things a lot more difficult if not impossible.
So what do the Warriors have to do to win?
Foxboro is going to have to trust Nolan Rogers and his ability to pass the ball. Over the season, the junior quarterback has shown improvement every week which has allowed the Warriors to run more complicated passing schemes.
Running those routes will be Jess Todd, Derek Gilreath, and Tim O’Halloran who have been nothing short of great over the past few weeks. O’Halloran specifically has come up big on both sides off the ball, picking up an interception and two touchdowns last week against Canton.
On the ground Keeyon Neal is going to need to have one of his best game of the season. With Luc Valenza’s role on offense being deemphasized over the last couple of weeks, Neal has become the main back with Ronnie Martin filling in as a useful weapon during the game.
Defensively the game may go as linebackers Valenza and Salman Alam go. If they can shut town Stoughton's power running game, Foxboro’s chances of winning greatly increase. It won’t be easy though as Stoughton is known to attack on the ground with power up the middle and speed on the outside.
They will also need the secondary core of Austin Gutierrez, Gerard Darcy, and O'Halloran to step up.
A big question mark tonight will be if the Black Knights play Malachi Baugh who has been out with an injury for two weeks. The senior back has been a star for Stoughton, scoring 10 touchdowns this season. If Baugh is not ready to play, the Black Knights will have to go with Joey Girolamo, Lennox Green, and Jovani Pires.
The Warriors have to find a way around a Stoughton defense that is giving up only 15 points a game on average including only three against Sharon last week. They have frustrated opponents this year with their run defense all season, making the passing game that much more important for the Warriors.
Kickoff for tonight’s game is at 7 p.m. at the Ahern Middle School.