NORTH ATTLEBORO — Playing in a rainy deluge, the North Attleboro High football team poured it on as well Friday night at soggy Community Field, storming past Billerica High, 34-6, to punch its ticket to the MIAA Division 3 state semifinals.
The scene was like something out of ‘Friday Night Lights’ as the No. 2 seed Rocketeers stormed ahead early and took advantage of several miscues by No. 7 seed Billerica. The environment of Community Field, already unique in its own nature, proved to be a challenge for the visiting Indians. Fumbled snaps, a missed extra point and missed blocks led to the visitors struggling to slow down the North Attleboro attack as the field progressively became more muddy and wet.
“We talked about the weather all week,” North Attleboro head coach Mike Strachan said. “I think we were anticipating something like this and our kids stepped up to the challenge.”
With Billerica’s spread offense and talented quarterback TJ Green unable to move the ball with any success, the Rocketeers held Billerica to under 100 yards from the line of scrimmage.
“Defensively, I think we did some things to frustrate them early,” Strachan said. “The big thing was, don’t give up the big play against them. When you can stop that, you can be successful, and I thought our kids did that.”
On the other side of the ball, North Attleboro’s running back stable was busy all game. Nate Shultz’ 30-yard touchdown run, following a gain of roughly 40 yards, put the Rocketeers up 14-0 midway through the first half.
It was Shultz’ second TD of the game after returning the opening kickoff for a score. Billerica squib-kicked the ball right to Shultz, who took it 60 yards into the end zone just 14 seconds into the game.
Following a questionable completed pass to put Billerica on the 1-yard line, the Indians’ Scottie Einarson punched it home to cut the deficiit with 5:43 to go in the first quarter.
A missed extra point by the Indians was the last chance they had to put points on the board. From then on it was all Rocketeers.
North Attleboro added its own touchdown from short yardage as Greg Berthiaume scored from the 1-yard line to end the first quarter. Another Berthiaume score, this time from 25 yards out, gave North a 27-6 lead at 1:17 before halftime.
The next and final score was the proverbial dagger as Shultz punched the ball over the goal line on short yardage to make it 34-6 with under two minutes to go.
“We did a lot of work this week. They’re a very good football team,” Strachan said. “They’ve got skill kids all over the place, they’re very well-coached. I felt it was going to come down to what happened up front and our kids were up to the challenge. I felt our kids dominated the line of scrimmage.”
Next for North Attleboro is No. 6 Wakefield next weekend with another trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Game time and date will be announced at a later date.
“Wakefield is a good football team,” Strachan said. “They’re good, physical and beat Plymouth South (on Thursday.) They’re going to be ready to play. We’re going to have to be ready.”