The Bedford High School Buccaneers have shared their success during the first 10 games of their 2023 seasons. The junior quarterback Ryan McGrath spreads the ball around to several receivers, and four ball-carriers have divided the running attack pretty evenly.
But Friday night belonged to the senior tailback, Ricky LaBoy, as he led the team to a 33-19 triumph over long-time rival Concord-Carlisle at Sabourin Field.
LaBoy rushed 19 times for 141 yards and three touchdowns, caught four passes for 50, and intercepted a Patriots pass in the fourth quarter that locked up the win.
The victory was Bedford’s sixth and guarantees the Bucs a winning record for 2023 with the only remaining game on Thanksgiving morning at Burlington. Since 2020, Bedford’s record in football is 29-10.
“It was very satisfying the way we played,” said Head Coach Tom Tone. “We were more in control of the game than the score showed. We were really good up front again and we were able to run on them all night.” The Bucs also forced C-C to play one-dimensional offense, holding the Patriots to 57 rushing yards.
Concord-Carlisle was the Thanksgiving rival for 47 years; the tradition ended after 2019 as the Patriots dominated for more than a decade. In the post-rivalry era, the Bucs are now 2-0 against their neighbors to the west.
Bedford grabbed a 14-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game, but the Patriots and their potent passing game stayed within range until LaBoy’s pick with less than six minutes remaining.
The Bucs earned that early lead with their intensity. On the second play of the game, the Patriots’ Ryan DeMayo took a pitch to his left. Bucs defensive lineman Shamus Miller not only broke up the play but also dislodged the football, and Sam DeAngelis recovered.
Bedford cashed in on the turnover, marching 35 yards in six plays, with Ryan McGrath completing three passes. The third was to senior Xavier Ruiz, who made a leaping grab and then kicked the extra point. The scoring play was “a route we had been working on all week,” Tone said.
Then the Bucs recovered Ruiz’s pooched kickoff, this time at the C-C. The Patriot receiver mishandled the ball. LaBoy made first contact and then CJ Chung and Chase Brazee swarmed the loose ball. Tone lauded Ruiz’s kickoffs as well-placed and difficult to field.
On this possession, Bedford kept it on the ground with Drew Siwik’s 10-yard blast setting up a 17-yard dash by LaBoy to the end zone.
But almost 90 percent of the game remained, and the Patriots have run up some big scores this season. They broke through with 2:11 remaining in the quarter on Ryan Fivek’s 33-yard pass to Will Hoover, ahead of the defense on the left sideline. The Bucs were flagged for encroachment on the extra point so C-C opted to go for two points from the one-yard line. The pass was incomplete.
The Bucs responded with a 64-yard scoring drive, LaBoy finishing it off. And he had another touchdown called back on a penalty during the closing seconds of the half. “Ricky ran the ball really, really well, inside and outside,” Tone said. “And Ryan made some good plays avoiding pressure.”
C-C’s last opportunity to tie began two minutes into the third quarter, taking over at its nine-yard line following a Bedford punt. Fivek quickly moved the Patriots to Bedford territory, but a false start on first down turned out to be a drive killer. After three plays, the Patriots took a time-out and kept their offense on the field, facing fourth-and-11. Pressure by Siwik forced Fivek into a heave that fell incomplete.
Then LaBoy took over the game, carrying four consecutive times, the fourth on a sweep to the left. He accelerated into the endzone. The kick failed, but the lead was 27-12 with 100 seconds to play in the third quarter.
C-C stayed within range, thanks especially to Matthew Carleton’s kickoff return to the Bedford 30 – the only time in the game the Bucs kicked deep. C-C scored a minute into the fourth and trailed by only eight after the PAT.
There were still 11 minutes remaining when the Patriots tried an onside kick. Bedford handled it near midfield, then after two penalties and a couple of short gains faced third down and 17.
McGrath took the snap and faked left to LaBoy swinging out of the backfield. Then he pivoted to the right and connected with Mehki Volcy on a screen pass. Nelson Crawford and Brazee threw the blocks that cleared a seam and Volcy was on his way to a 59-yard TD.
After LaBoy’s interception, “one real nice thing was killing the last five minutes,” Tone observed. “It is really satisfying when you are able to run, even when they know you are going to run, and milk the clock.”
Now the team can direct its full attention to Burlington. “There’s extra time to prepare,” Tone said. It’s all about how you use that time.”
After a hiatus of almost 50 years, the rivalry resumed in 2021, and the Bucs won the first two games convincingly. This one “should be fairly evenly matched,” Tone said. Burlington advanced to the second round of the Division 2 playoffs, and took Tewksbury to the two-yard line before losing 28-21 in the state quarterfinals.