Chieftains Reign over Gaels, 28-7

Published in the September 19, 2007 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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All the extra hours in the weight room logged over the summer by the Nashoba football team were on display Friday night in Clinton, as the Chieftains manhandled the Gaels for a 28-7 victory that was even more lopsided than the score suggests.

“We were really able to capitalize on our size advantage,” said Nashoba head coach Ken Tucker, who earned his first victory since returning to the helm late this summer.

In the 23rd meeting between the two archrivals, Nashoba dominated at the line of scrimmage and ran the ball seemingly at will throughout the game, starting with a 43-yard drive on its first possession that ended with Stow's Alex Warila taking it into the end zone. Minutes later, a Colin LeBaron interception led to a 32-yard score by lead rusher Travis Patterson, and Dustin Greene of Stow added two more touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.

Meanwhile, Nashoba's defense shut down Clinton's offense and very nearly pitched a shutout, as the Gaels' only score came with just seconds left in the game. The Chieftains allowed their opponents into the red zone just once before the final drive of the night, by which time most of Nashoba's starters were watching from the sideline.

“Overall it was a great team win,” Tucker said.

The victory evened the Chieftains' record at 1-1 and suggested that the team has recovered from the first half of its season opener against Westboro, in which Nashoba found itself on the wrong end of a 28-0 score.

“That first game was kind of like a wake up call,” said Greene, whose two touchdowns against Clinton were his first and second as a varsity player. “We had some mistakes in that game, but got them fixed in practice. It's not about how hard you get knocked down, but how fast you get back up.”

One lesson learned against Westboro, Greene said, was the advantage of scoring first. And after establishing the early lead against Clinton, it was the Chieftains' turn to take advantage of an opponent's mistakes, as the Gaels' two scoring threats in the second quarter were stymied by an interception by Warila and a sack and fumble recovery by Greene.

“In the third quarter, all of us came out with same intensity, but Clinton was still hanging their heads,” Warila said. “At that point I didn't think they would be able to bounce back, and they weren't.”

The game also showcased Nashoba's physical play, which Tucker has cited as one of the team's strengths, thanks to extra work put in by players in the spring and over the summer. The school's implementation of the national “Bigger Faster Stronger” weight training program, supplemented by individual conditioning regimens, appear to be paying dividends.

“No one really slacked off just because it was summer,” Warila said. “My speed definitely improved, and I noticed a lot of kids improving their strength.”

That strength was particularly apparent in the offensive line, which consistently was able to create opportunities for the Chieftain ball carriers despite missing starter Rodney Leach, who suffered a concussion in the Westboro game. Running back Matt Murray of Stow, not exactly diminutive at 6'2” and 220 lbs, filled in admirably at left tackle.

“Our line did a good job getting to their assignments, opening up some pretty big holes which made it easier for me and other running backs,” Greene said. “And Matt Murray especially deserves credit for stepping it up on the line.”

The Chieftains will play their first league game in Friday's home opener against the Gardner Wildcats, who are also 1-1 on the season following a 14-7 loss to Marlboro last Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239