Nashoba Football Opens with 23-0 Win

Published in the September 17, 2008 issue of The Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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What a difference a year makes.

At Friday night's soggy home football opener, Nashoba Regional steamrolled over visiting Westboro 23-0 behind 186 yards and two touchdowns from senior running back Travis Patterson. It was payback time for the Rangers, who had unceremoniously dispatched the Chieftains 27-14 in the first game of 2007.

Back then, the Chieftains were still adjusting to an eleventh-hour coaching change and the aftermath of a motorcycle accident that cost them the services of leading rusher Bobby Lombardo for most of the season. Now, the “interim” tag has been removed from head coach Ken Tucker's title, Patterson is coming off a 1400-yard season, and the Chieftains are focused.

The 2007 Chieftains finished with a 7-4 record and a share of the Division 1 West title. This year, they'd like to have that title all to themselves, along with a shot at the Super Bowl. And although it's only one game, Friday night's performance was certainly a step in that direction.

“You can't start much better than that,” said Tucker, now in his 21st season as head coach of the Chieftains. “We had a good game plan and executed it very well in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams.”

As expected, Patterson was Nashoba's go-to guy on offense, making it look easy with a 51-yard touchdown run on the game's opening drive. He came close to a second score in the second quarter, but saw the wet ball slip out of his hands as he reached to extend it across the goal line; opportunistic senior Steve Ek recovered the fumble and scored for the Chieftains. A 29-yard scoring scamper in the third quarter earned Patterson his second touchdown of the night.

But what the Rangers may not have expected were the solid offensive contributions from a number of other Chieftains. Sophomore Will Hurley of Stow started at quarterback and managed the game effectively for three quarters, behind an experienced offensive line featuring senior captains Matt Murray and Ryan Williams, junior Peter Hagermoser, and Stow senior Dan Trefry. Stow's Murray also had several successful carries out of the backfield, as did Ek, Stow junior Billy Lombardo, and Stow sophomores Luke Cressman and Tom Oliver.

“We're pretty versatile offensively,” Tucker said. “We're pounding at people, and that takes a toll after a while.”

And then there's the kicking game, which in high school football is often something of an afterthought. Not so for the Chieftains, who, facing 4th and 8 at the Westboro 16 yard line midway through the second quarter, had the luxury of calling on junior kicker Jim Garvey. Despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions, Garvey, who was also 2-2 on extra point attempts, nailed the field goal to put Nashoba up 10-0.

“The field goal is really a weapon for us,” Tucker said. “In our pregame warmup, he was making them from 40 yards with a wet ball.”

On the other side of the ball, the Nashoba defense was stellar, holding the Rangers to just 157 yards for the game and continually harrassing Westboro quarterback Brian Gove. Gove completed just 5 of 15 passes and only one big play, a 41-yard bomb to Nick Mastrogiacomo at the end of the third quarter that brought the Rangers to the Chieftains' 32 yard line. Westboro would get no further than the 27 on that drive, however, which was as close as the Rangers came to scoring all night. Senior defensive back Paul Murray of Stow was involved in negating at least two long passes, and Lombardo had a near-interception on another.

“Any time you shut a team out, that's some pretty good defense,” Tucker said.

This Friday, Nashoba will face longtime rival Clinton at home. The Gaels, who were winless in 2007, were shut out 34-0 by St. Bernard's in their home opener and will be hoping to turn things around against the Chieftains. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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