The Bedford High School football post-season begins Friday at 7 p.m. at Sabourin Field against the Colonels of South High Community School, Worcester.
The Bucs finished third in the MIAA Division 4 power rankings, which means South was ranked 14th out of the 16 qualifiers.
Both teams have 7-1 records, but the power rankings are also based on the records of opponents. Three of the Bucs’ wins were against teams that qualified for the post-season. South, which has scored more than 300 points in eight games, beat only one qualifier, Auburn. South’s only loss was vs. Grafton, the number two seed, back in September. Grafton led 25-0 before South scored in the fourth quarter.
The Bucs have played well at home, and that’s an understatement. Over four games, they outscored the opposition 184-53 and five of the 16 quarters were played by rule with a running clock because of point differential.
But Bedford has played well away from home as well. The games have been closer because the opposition has been at a higher level – the three teams Bedford beat on the road all will be playing in the MIAA first round. And Shawsheen Tech, the sole blemish on the Bedford 7-1 record, is undefeated.
A year ago, the Bucs were also 7-1, but were seeded 12th. The difference is strength of schedule and how that factors into the power rankings. In 2021, the Bucs went into fifth seeded Tewksbury Memorial and came home with a victory. That should be a reminder to the Bucs, said Head Coach Tone: “The teams that we are going to play are likely to be very good.”
Bedford enters this first-round match with a seven-game win streak. The latest was last Friday’s 49-13 triumph over Newton South.
Hey, it was Senior Night – what did you expect?
In his final regular-season home game Friday, Bedford High School senior quarterback Eric Miles threw for 165 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 148 yards and three more TDs. His classmate Richie Fedele caught four passes for 133 yards and three scores. Senior Nick Tatarczuk kicked five extra points.
And all that unfolded in just the first half of the Buccaneers’ win over Newton South. Bedford amassed 345 offensive yards in just 21 plays over 24 minutes.
On Friday, the Buccaneers changed the script – they went to the air to start the game. Miles fired to Fedele for 15 yards on the first play, then after a false start, connected with Stu Livingston for 11. The touchdown four plays later came on a 15-yard pass to Fedele.
And after a three-and-out from Newton, Miles opened the next series with a strike down the middle to Fedele, who shrugged off tacklers on his way to the end zone 58 yards away. Miles rushed the two points after the touchdown.
Film indicated that the Lions defended the run well, Tone said, and “we really thought we needed to get better with the pass. We’ve been making strides, but it was certainly something we needed to emphasize.”
Yet, this game was still within reach for the Lions at the end of the first quarter. They drove to the end zone from their 35 over seven-and-a-half minutes, and the point-after-touchdown made the score 15-7 Bucs.
Less than five minutes later, it was time to warm up the bus. Bedford scored three touchdowns in a span of four minutes, 41 seconds.
Miles was stopped after a one-yard gain on the last play of the first quarter. The teams returned and switched directions at the Bedford 45, from where Miles executed a dazzling run through the middle of the Newton defense to the endzone.
Twelve seconds later, the Bucs were back in the end zone. Senior Ryan Cohen stripped the ball from the Lions’ kick returner, and sophomore Drew Siwik recovered the fumble and took the ball over the goal line.
“Ryan has a real knack for creating turnovers… he has been doing that his whole career,” Tone said.
On their next possession, the visitors chose to try to convert a fourth-and-five near midfield. The pass was incomplete and Bedford executed a routine two-minute scoring drive, featuring carries by Siwik for 18 yards, Ricky Laboy for 11, and Miles, who took the snap at the 20 and raced to his right, cutting through a massive seam – courtesy of the offensive line. Tatarczuk’s point made the score 35-7 with 7:49 to play – in the second quarter.
The Bucs added two more touchdowns before the half – six yards from Miles and a 45-yard rumble down the right sideline by Fedele after a screen pass from the quarterback. Fedele, the coach observed, “accelerates well. He gets off the line and is good at pulling away from guys.” He had words of praise for Miles, the first-year senior quarterback: “the strides he has made over last eight weeks have been phenomenal.”
During the second half, against the varsity defense, Tone said he felt quarterback Ryan McGrath and running back Aaron Kreiter both moved the ball well.