MILLIS — In each of the past two years, the Shawsheen Tech High School Football team was defeated in their season opener, losing both ends of a home-and-home series with neighbor Wilmington.
This year's schedule didn't include the Wildcats, instead the Rams picked up a non-league game with Millis, who two years ago won the Division 8 Super Bowl Championship title, but have been in rebuilding mode ever since, including having just three seniors on this year's team.
The two teams met on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, and the young and pesky Mohawks gave the Rams a fierce battle in the first half before Shawsheen completely wore them down in the second half, scoring all three of their touchdowns and coming away with three defensive turnovers for the convincing 21-0 victory.
The win doesn't actually count in the standings, as this is an 'Endowment Game', but for head coach Al Costabile, he was thrilled with the way his team performed after getting out to such a slow start in the first two quarters.
"It took us a little while to get going but I thought in the second half, our physicality was the difference, plus we're in pretty good shape. That was pretty evident. We didn't get many calls our way, but we still overcame everything and still played a great second half," said Costabile.
Millis actually ran 37 offensive plays in the first half compared to 13 for the Rams, and couldn't find the end zone despite being in Shawsheen's territory on four different occasions.
Their final drive of the first half took up 3:31 and moved from the Mohawks' 26 all the way to the Rams' 9 yard line. On third-and-seven, Millis QB Ryan Flynn sent a pass over the middle and the ball got tipped before Shawsheen's Connor Rich came up with the interception in the back of the end zone for the touchback, and after Shawsheen took a knee, the half closed scoreless.
Then it was all Shawsheen in the second half. On the first drive of the third quarter, the Rams went 50 yards on nine plays, which included three penalties combining for 25 yards. On third-and-eight from the 20, QB Chris Disciscio hooked up with Jake Bonanno for a TD strike, which proved to be the game winning score. Xavier Santiago booted his first of three successful PAT kicks on the day.
After Dylan Timmons recovered a fumble at the Shawsheen 27 yard, Disciscio sent a quick pass over to his right to Josiah Martinez, who turned around and in open space, went untouched the rest of the way for a 77-yard score making it 14-0.
"Chris throws a nice ball and we have some nice receivers," said Costabile. "There were a couple of plays in particular where the offensive line gave Chris some great protection and that's when we were able to push the ball down further down the field, instead of just dinking and danking it."
Again Millis turned the ball over on downs, and Shawsheen's offense came back on the field at its own 8 with 8:47 left in the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Timmons went off right tackle and cruised to the end zone for a 62-yard TD to close out the game's scoring.
Millis did manage to move the ball to the Shawsheen 14, but a fumble on fourth-and-one was recovered by Aiden Leffler, which allowed the Rams' defense to celebrate with the doughnut.
"Our defense had a little bit of a bend but we didn't break," said Costabile. "I thought our defensive ends did a nice job of pressuring their quarterback in the second half. I thought our linebackers were real active in the second half and our defensive line started to really take over the line of scrimmage. Their tackles were gassed."
All in all, Shawsheen finished with 382 total yards of offense with 273 coming in the second half. Disciscio was on fire for most of the second half and finished the game completing 9-of-14 passes for 192 yards. Martinez had three catches for 95 yards and on the ground, Diondre Turner had 113 yards on 13 carries.
"(Turner) did a lot out there today and he does a lot on his own. He has a great feel for running," said Costabile. "He feels the opposition, he has a great knack for finding that open area and getting his body into space when he's in traffic and not taking the big hit and he also lays some hits out. He's a physical runner and a real tough kid."
Shawsheen will now officially open the season on Friday when they host Chelsea at 5 pm. The game time was moved up two hours because of EEE Threat.
"They didn't play this weekend so it'll be their first game, but they are fast and athletic. They always have great team speed," said Costabile.