Shawsheen Valley Technical, undefeated until losing the divisional championship game in 2022, rolled into Sabourin Field Friday night with essentially the same team. Bedford High School, looking back on an 8-2 season, has “tons of new faces in a ton of positions,” said Head Coach Tom Tone.
That made Friday’s 21-7 defeat especially disappointing, Tone said. “It was encouraging to be competitive but frustrating to lose a game that could have been won.”
The Buccaneers travel to Malden Catholic this Friday for a non-league, interdivisional match against what one said is another high-quality opponent.
Two second-quarter special-team mistakes led to two touchdowns by the Rams. A blocked punt gave the Rams possession at the four-yard line. And about three minutes later a Shawsheen punt from the nine-yard line grazed a Buccaneer, and Tech recovered at its 40, driving from there to the endzone in eight plays.
“We got a key stop and were going to get the ball in their territory,” Tone lamented. “Those things make it harder when you’re playing a good team.”
Junior quarterback Ryan McGrath was on target in his first varsity start, connecting for 70 percent of his throws: 14 completions to six different receivers for 172 yards and no interceptions. “We’ve got some kids who can catch the ball,” Tone said.
The most memorable pass came a minute and a half into the second quarter. McGrath took a deep drop and found fellow junior Sam DeAngelis behind the linebackers. DeAngelis put on a burst, breaking one tackle as he charged into the endzone for a 65-yard play. Andrew Litvin, a sophomore, booted his first extra point.
“I was really encouraged by Ryan’s performance. He was essentially getting pressured every snap. They send five, six, seven every play,” the coach commented. “He got hit a lot and he hung in there.”
The Shawsheen defensive strategy “made it difficult to consistently run,” Tone said. Bedford executed 23 pass plays and only 15 rushes. The numbers are a little skewed, because late in the second quarter the Bucs were at the Tech 10-yard line with no timeouts, a situation requiring passes into the endzone. That sequence followed a 35-minute suspension of play after lightning was spotted in the area.
Still, other than two bursts by sophomore Gil Galman – 10 yards to open the game and 35 down the right sideline near the end of the half – and a 13-yard carry by McGrath, Bedford’s ground game totaled two net yards.
And one result was a couple of promising drives that fell short in the second half. A 35-yard catch-and-run from McGrath to Xavier Ruiz brought the ball to the 10-yard line. Ricky LaBoy gained four yards on first down, but then McGrath was stopped for a two-yard loss. On third-and-eight his pass was incomplete, and the drive ended with a sack.
The Bucs’ most sustained drive came in the fourth quarter, 11 plays covering 59 yards. But McGrath was stuffed on a third-down-and-one at the Shawsheen 11, and he went to the air on fourth down, connecting with DeAngelis but short of the first down.
“There were opportunities for big plays. We knew that; we just didn’t hit enough,” Tone commented. “Overall, we played well enough defensively. But you’re not going to win many games scoring just seven points.”
Bedford had one interception, by sophomore linebacker Lucas Puglielli on a fourth-down pass play from the Bedford 39-yard line. Tone said it was a great play and he was pleased to see the defenders recognize the unfolding screen pass.