The Bedford High School Buccaneers will entertain the Warriors of Foxborough High School Friday at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Division 4 state football tournament.
The third-seeded, 8-1 Buccaneers bulldozed their way into the round of eight last Friday, vanquishing South High Community School of Worcester, 36-6.
Foxborough, 5-4 and sixth in the power rankings, had a tougher time at home, coming from behind to defeat Pembroke, 24-21. Pembroke, 3-6, was the only team in the field of 16 with a losing record.
Bedford Head Coach Tom Tone is expecting a challenge. “Ultimately, you’re going to have to play well,” he stated. “I’m expecting them to be very well-coached. And I certainly am expecting these guys to be good – but it’s always nice not to have to travel for a game like this.”
A year ago, the Bucs were seeded 12th and beat Tewksbury on its home field. A week later, Bedford traveled to Grafton and was eliminated in the second round. Last weekend, Tewksbury again was the only team in the top eight to lose in the first round.
For the Buccaneers, the numbers tell part of last Friday’s story: 365 yards of total offense, and all but 30 of those in the first three quarters, as for the fifth time this season the clock did not stop in the fourth quarter because the point differential was at least 30.
BHS senior quarterback Eric Miles carried 22 times for 213 yards and completed 12 of 15 passes for 94. On defense, Bedford held the Colonels of Worcester to 97 offensive yards, and that is for the entire game. South scored on the last play of the game; there was no point-after-touchdown attempt.
Angelo LaRose scored for the Colonels – he totaled 14 carries for 21 yards. LaRose is “one of the best backs in Central Mass,” Tone said. “The play by our front seven was outstanding.”
Then there are situations that can’t be explained with numbers.
Leading 14-0 late in the second period, the Bucs began a series at their 20 after a punt. There were 41 seconds remaining on the scoreboard, and Bedford would be receiving to begin the second half. So, take a knee, right? Or maybe hand off once and then run out the clock?
Not this team – especially with three timeouts, and none in the bank for South. “You don’t want to risk having to give the ball back, but I figured we could run at least some plays.”
Miles passed to Ricky LaBoy for seven yards. After a timeout and a five-yard penalty, he scrambled for 11. Bedford timeout. Miles was stopped after two yards on the next play, but the tackler was flagged for grasping the facemask, and suddenly the ball was at midfield with time for three more plays.
A completion to Jayvon Williams covered 16 yards. After a timeout, Miles fired toward the end zone but the ball was underthrown. With four seconds left, time for one play from the 34, there aren’t many options. Maybe a long pass to the end zone? A 51-yard field goal try?
Miles stood at the 398-yard line and took the shotgun snap. He took a two-step drop and searched for a receiver deep, but there were two onrushing Colonels. Miles eluded a direct hit; the pass-rushers converged into each other. Now Miles had a wide-open 25 yards. He broke a solo tackle at the 15, another at the 13, and a defender jumped him inside the 10. More defenders arrived inside the five, and Miles, enveloped by white jerseys, just kept driving to the goal line, where an official was waiting, and signaled touchdown. Then Miles followed his linemen into the end zone for the two extra points.
“I couldn’t believe that – it was just incredible,” Tone testified. “He willed himself into the endzone.”
Talk about a dagger. And to make sure, the Bucs ran a 13-play scoring drive that consumed eight minutes, 40 seconds. Miles plowed across the one-yard line behind his surging offensive line for his fourth touchdown of the night and 34th of the season.
“That drive was really what we were trying to do,” Tone said. “Fast tempo benefits us but at that point in the game you are playing the clock as much as playing them.”
Miles scored the first two TDs on runs of 41 and six yards, and sophomore running back Drew Siwik made it 35-0 early in the fourth quarter with a 22-yard blast. Nick Tatarczuk kicked for points after touchdown.
“We had to earn it, especially in the first half,” Tone said. “But we wore them down. We’ve got some depth; the other squad didn’t have nearly as much.”
Coach Tone is concerned about the Bucs’ propensity for penalties – nine on Friday, seven of those on offense. “Most of our drives were stalled with self-inflicted penalties,” he said. “It’s going to be really hard winning a close game doing stuff like that.”