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Sweet 16: Mansfield, North Attleboro stage a classic

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Sweet 16: Mansfield, North Attleboro stage a classic

Mansfield and North Attleboro compete in the Hockomock League, but since they are in different divisions, they haven’t locked horns for seven years.

The two met Friday night in a game for the ages.

Mansfield rallied to force overtime then found a way to prevail in double-overtime, 31-29, to extend its current winning streak to a state-best 18 games. Hornets coach Mike Redding, himself a former North Attleboro standout (class of 1979), was thrilled the sides were able to work out an agreement.

“We had three opens that we needed to fill and we were able to get Stoughton and St. John’s of Shrewsbury,” Redding said. “Both of us were still looking around and we just decided to hook up. Next game, this could be a league game as we might be in their division.”

An ambitious nonleague schedule was something Redding was admittedly concerned about, given the relative lack of experience on his roster. If ever there was a need to display patience, this is the one for the Hall of Fame coach.

“With the youth we expected a lot of inconsistency. There are moments when we haven’t been very good, then our young skill kids show flashes of brilliance which shows that they are capable,” Redding said. “The challenge are facing is getting them to do it for a full 48 minutes. Against North Attleboro, we really did nothing in the second and third quarter, but we did enough to keep us alive.”

Trailing 15-7, the Hornets tied the score when Conner Zukowski marched his team 80 yards in 10 plays, capping off the drive by throwing a 4-yard TD pass to Trevor Foley. The duo hooked up on the ensuing two-point conversion pass to force overtime.

In the first extra session, Zukowski connected with Foley on a 10-yard TD pass, then hit Aidan Sacco for the two. North Attleboro responded when Tyler DeMattio scored from the 1, then Chase Frisoli extended the game into a second overtime by hitting Gavin Wells to deadlock the score at 23.

“When we got into overtime, we were hoping to go on defense first,” Redding said. “But when we started on offense, we just decided to throw the ball right away and that gave the kids confidence. Our defense then played well, but DeMattio just made an unbelievable run.”

North Attleboro scored in the second overtime, but failed to get the ensuing two points. That would prove costly when Zukowski threw his fourth TD pass, a 10-yarder to Rocco Scarpellini, followed by the game-winning conversion pass to Foley.

“Before the season, we were thinking realistically, if we won two out of three, that would be good, but now we have a shot at all three,” Redding said. “That would be nice for us heading into league play.”

Sweet 16

1. CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (2-0) – Not bad when the old ballcoach can find plenty of flaws after a 42-point effort.

2. EVERETT (2-0) – Crimson Tide opened league play with a predictable outcome against overmatched Somerville.

3. ST. JOHN’S PREP (2-0) – Imagine how upset the Eagles’ coaches and players would have been if we actually picked against them last Saturday.

4. XAVERIAN (1-1) – Hawks rebound nicely with a win over Bridgewater-Raynham.

5. CENTRAL CATHOLIC (1-1) – Back to the drawing board for the Raiders, who were manhandled against St. John’s Prep.

6. LINCOLN-SUDBURY (2-0) – Warriors controlled the Melrose game from the get-go.

7. ANDOVER (2-0) – Little bit of late-game trickery saved the Golden Warriors against upstart Acton-Boxboro.

8. MANSFIELD (2-0) – Good to see Mansfield and North Attleboro putting together a game for the ages.

9. DUXBURY (2-0) – The names change but the Dragons always seem to find a way to beat Patriot League competition.

10. READING (2-0) – Huge statement win against Barnstable stamps the Rockets as a contender in Div. 2.

11. MARBLEHEAD (2-0) – Magicians lighting up the scoreboard.

12. BARNSTABLE (1-1) – Redhawks hung tough on the road against a very good Reading team.

13. NATICK (2-0) – Shades of yesteryear when Natick and Walpole was an annual must-see event.

14. SCITUATE (1-1) – Sailors gave Duxbury all it could handle Friday.

15. KING PHILIP (2-0) – Warriors clamped down on Needham to remain unbeaten.

16. MARSHFIELD (1-1) – Contributor Eddie Asaley told us Methuen-Marshfield should have been listed as a game to watch; he was right.

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