NORTH ATTLEBORO — The North Attleboro High football team opened quick and never let up against Bishop Feehan High on Friday night, earning a 29-19 season-opening win over their rivals.
Reflecting on the win at North Attleboro High’s turf field, Rocketeers head coach Mike Strachan credited the Shamrocks for presenting a strong challenge.
“They’re a well-coached football team and a good team. They’ve got a lot of talent,” Strachan said. “They’ve got a quarterback that can run, some dynamic athletes. Coming off of last year getting to the final four I hope it’s our expectation to do that (again.) There’s no rest for the weary. We’re on to Foxboro now, which won’t be an easy game.”
The Rocketeers wasted no time getting on the board after forcing a punt on Feehan’s opening drive with a 46-yard passing score from veteran quarterback Chase Frisoli to Chris Hanewich at the 10:02 mark. A two-point conversion made it an 8-0 game as Feehan got the ball back.
Frisoli ran plenty of draw plays for chunk yardage, with his first play on offense setting the tone for the night and putting him in the discussion for being one of the top quarterbacks in Massachusetts.
“That was something we had been working on for a couple of weeks and they executed it perfectly,” Strachan said. “He’s one of the best in the state. He’s a great leader and people don’t really know he does a lot of stuff on the field. He’s super smart.”
The Shamrocks responded with a 70-yard scoring drive that ended in an Owen Mordas’ pitch-and-catch to Devin Ferreira, making it 8-7 with 5:34 left in the first quarter.
From there, though, Feehan was unable to get it going until the second half as the Rocketeers added two scores and a two-point conversion to make it 23-7 at the break.
Hanewich scored his second touchdown of the game to open the second quarter on a run up the middle from 3 yards out, then added another from six yards with under two minutes to halftime.
Having to plan against the strong arm of Frisoli, along with Hanewich’s legs, was a tricky task for Bishop Feehan head coach Bryan Pinabell. The two Rocketeers spread out the Shamrocks’ interior defense, while also thinning the secondary.
“One thing that happened, and I give them credit, they spread us out to be able to run the football,” Pinabell said. “At halftime, we made the adjustments to bring the linebacker in, and that’s what made the secondary weak because we had one less defensive back out there. It wasn’t that our defensive backs weren’t good. It was a scheme game. With Frisoli killing us inside, we had to take a linebacker into the box.”
“That’s where you’re in a bind,” Pinabell added. “You got Bannon in front of him, they spread you out, you take the linebacker out of the box and they run it. You put him in, they throw it. It’s a numbers game.”
Feehan was able to formulate a response on offense to close the deficit late in the third quarter on a Mordas pass to Finn McHale to make it a 23-13 contest at 3:13 followed by a failed two-point attempt.
Needing to be aggressive with the ball, Feehan looked downfield numerous times with Mordas at quarterback. Looking for a receiver on a crossing route, Mordas committed the first and only turnover of the game with 9 1/2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, throwing a pick into the arms of North Attleboro linebacker Ryan Bannon.
“Great timing for that,” Strachan said. “He undercut the route. He’s been a huge player for us and he’s dominant. The linebacking crew, trying to (Greg) Berthiaume, Ryan has done a great job. We’re super young, and the kids just came and played.”
The interception proved to be a killer for the Shamrocks, giving the ball in Feehan territory on the 31-yard line. The Rocketeers capitalized later in the fourth quarter on a roll-out pass from Frisoli to Hanewich for an 8-yard touchdown to make it 29-13 with 4:28 to go int the game.
Feehan scored a little over a minute later on a 1-yard keeper from Mordas that was set up by a 43-yard catch by Jack Higgins, but the Shamrocks ran out of time.
North Attleboro hosts Foxboro next Friday night while the Shamrocks will entertain the Bombardiers.