In what is sure to be a high-scoring affair, the Div. 5 Super Bowl matchup between No. 2 North Reading and No. 4 Shawsheen is a must-watch contest Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.
North Reading (10-2) rested their starters on Thanksgiving Day, but was averaging 44 points per game during its three postseason matchups against Dedham (50-18), Apponequet (40-0) and Bishop Fenwick (32-29) to earn their second straight Div. 5 Super Bowl appearance.
The attack is led by senior QB Alex Carucci with 1,860 yards and 25 touchdowns to just one interception while adding 227 yards and six scores on the ground. Will Batten ran for 718 yards and 13 touchdowns (with 381 receiving yards, five reception TDs) while senior Craig Rubino (970 total yards, 13 total touchdowns) and Ryan McGuire (327 yards, four TDs) aid the air attack.
“It all starts with our quarterback,” said Hornets coach Ed Blum. “From there, a combination of our offensive line and the fact that we can be very multiple with our skill guys. We are very fortunate to rely on a few different receivers and a really good running back. It allows us to be multi-dimensional.”
The Hornets’ defense has not been too shabby either with just over 15 points allowed per game in the postseason – a little more than the 13 allowed in the regular season.
“It allows everyone to play with a certain level of confidence,” Blum said about his defense. “Both sides of the ball and special teams play off of each other. We have a lot of confidence in our defense.”
The defense will surely have their hands full with the Shawsheen (12-0) spread attack.
“(Shawsheen) is a really good football team,” said Blum. “A spread team with some good athletes. A solid quarterback with receivers that he really trusts. … A lot of good things on their side that they do well and that is why they are at this point.”
With close victories over Worcester Tech (20-6), Old Rochester (27-20) and Dover-Sherborn (21-14), the Rams have plenty of close wins to help them in a win-it-all contest, including a 42-19 win over Arlington Catholic on Thanksgiving that was a 14-13 game in the second quarter.
“It gives a great opportunity to teach the kids about hanging in there when you are in (close) games,” said Rams coach Al Costabile. “It provides a great value and a great reward with what can come out the other end if they do. You can’t slight that whatsoever.”
The Rams’ offensive focus has been through the air for much of the season as sophomore Sid Tildsley has thrown for 23 scores and eight picks while carrying the ball 103 times for 633 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has returned two of his four interceptions on defense for scores.
Senior captain Mavrick Bourdeau and junior Ryan Copson lead the receiving core with 75 catches, 1,200 yards and 16 combined scores. Copson also threw a pair as well.
Junior Caleb Caceres adds an extra run element to the offense with 106 carries for 663 yards and nine touchdowns. Caceres also has caught three scores.
On defense, Caceres and Copson each have four interceptions. Freshman James Tildsley (84 tackles), sophomore Cullen Walsh (80 tackles) and junior Damian Ortiz (71 tackles) also come up big on defense and Costabile will have his hands full stopping the Hornets.
“You really have to do so many things well,” Costabile said about how to handle North Reading on the defensive side of the ball. “You have to really pay attention to detail and tackle really well. They really get after it offensively.”
“We are really excited to go to Gillette,” said Costabile. “We have the utmost respect for North Reading. They are one formidable opponent.”
Costabile is also ready to make a return to the Super Bowl since Shawsheen defeated Blue Hills 20-6 in the Div. 4 Super Bowl in 2010.
“It feels great,” said Costabile about being back in the state title. “I would be lying that we weren’t really excited about going to Gillette.”
DIV. 5 STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Friday, December 2, 5:30 p.m. at Gillette
North Reading vs. Shawsheen
NORTH READING HORNETS (10-2)
Head coach: Ed Blum
NORTH READING 35, Northeast 20
North Reading 44, GREATER LAWRENCE 17
NORTH READING 48, Pentucket 0
PENTUCKET 48, Ipswich 6
NORTH READING 47, Triton 8
Amesbury 30, NORTH READING 27
North Reading 46, NEWBURYPORT 7
North Reading 54, HAMILTON-WENHAM 16
NORTH READING 50, Dedham 18
NORTH READING 40, Apponequet 9
North Reading 32, Bishop Fenwick 29
Lynnfield 32, NORTH READING 6
HOME TEAM IN CAPS
Head coach: Al Costabile
SHAWSHEEN 30, Bedford 26
SHAWSHEEN 27, Triton 20
Shawsheen 27, ESSEX TECH 13
Shawsheen 20, GREATER LAWRENCE 14
SHAWSHEEN 36, Greater Lowell 0
SHAWSHEEN 44, Manchester-Essex 14
Shawsheen 42, NORTHEAST 14
SHAWSHEEN 41, Whittier 16
SHAWSHEEN 20, Worcester Tech 6
SHAWSHEEN 27, Old Rochester 20
Shawsheen 21, Dover-Sherborn 14
SHAWSHEEN 42, Arlington Catholic 19
HOME TEAM IN CAPS
SUPER BOWL HISTORY
North Reading is appearing in its third state championship game and is seeking its first title. The Hornets played in last year’s final, losing to Swampscott 14-7 despite a 14-catch, 154-yard effort from Ryan McCullough.
Shawsheen is also competing in its third final. The Rams defeated Blue Hills 20-6 to capture the Div. 4 Super Bowl in 2010 as Steven Reynolds broke a 6-6 tie on a 25-yard touchdown run with five minutes left, then Matt Costello wrapped it up with a 35-yard interception return for a score.