Homecoming Win for Chieftains

Published in the October 17, 2007 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster


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Talk about a happy homecoming. After losing two close games on the road, the Nashoba Regional football team returned to its own field and its winning ways with a dominating 27-6 homecoming victory over St. Bernard's.

The Chieftains scored on their opening drive, and the Bernardians never came closer than 7-6. And for the first time in a month, head coach Ken Tucker was able to rest some of his starters in the game's waning minutes, the victory safely in hand.

“It's nice not to have it come down to the final play of the game for a change,” said a relieved Tucker, whose team is now 3-3 on the year and 2-0 in Division 1 West play. St. Bernard's fell to 0-2 in the league and 2-3 overall.

In the team's last three games, the outcomes turned on last-ditch defensive stands by either the Chieftains (in the 25-22 win over Gardner) or their opponents (in the 41-35 loss to Leominster and the 12-7 loss to Doherty). Against St. Bernard's, however, an all-out effort by the Chieftains' defense for all four quarters made certain that there would be no need for 11th hour heroics by either team.

“The whole team made a decision this week that we were sick of getting into close games and losing them,” said fullback/linebacker Dustin Greene of Stow. “So our main goal was to not do that this time.”

Greene got the Chieftains on the board first with a 2-yard touchdown run, the exclamation point on a nine-play, 53-yard opening drive by Nashoba. The Bernardians answered with a 75-yard scoring drive of their own, ending with a 26-yard third-down touchdown pass from quarterback Taylor Lively to Max Marek. But Greene blocked the ensuing extra point attempt to preserve Nashoba's lead at 7-6, and the Chieftains never looked back; the Bernardians wouldn't come within 20 yards of the red zone for the rest of the evening.

“Defensively we made some adjustments after that first drive, and overall I thought we had a good defensive effort,” Tucker said. “Up to now, we haven't played our best defense. We've been giving up big plays, and you just can't win that way in this league.”

That defensive effort included two interceptions, one by running back/linebacker Steve Ek and another by Greene, who said the pick—a career first for him—was particularly gratifying.

“All the kids on the team last year gave me a hard time, because I had something like seven tipped passes but couldn't bring one in,” he said. “So after this game I told the coach that the curse was broken.”

Offensively, the Chieftains capitalized on the return of leading rusher Travis Patterson, who missed last week's game with a shoulder injury. Patterson ran for a game-high 99 yards on 24 carries and turned a Tom Quinn pass into a two-point conversion following the last score of the game, a 1 yard run by Quinn early in the fourth quarter.

With the return of Patterson and the emergence of Quinn (40 yards rushing) as a running threat in addition to Greene and Alex Warila of Stow (35 yards, two touchdowns), Nashoba's running game is firing on all cylinders. The Chieftains demonstrated improvement on special teams as well, pinning the Bernardians inside their own 10 following a kickoff in the second quarter and recovering a fumble during a St. Bernard's punt return late in the game.

The Chieftains will likely need all of their weapons for their upcoming home matchup against Wachusett, which like Leominster is a Division 1 North team. The Mountaineers (2-4 overall) will be looking to bounce back from a 35-14 loss to the Blue Devils in their league debut. Friday's game is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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