High School: The League wraps up regular season, playoffs & championship set for Sunday

It’s only been a few weeks, but teams participating in the The League have shown how quickly team sports – football in particular – can bring a bunch of guys together.

As Harrison Bloom (Timberlane HS, NH) watched his game-winning field goal split the uprights with seven seconds left on a hot May Sunday afternoon, it looked and felt like he just kicked a state championship winner based on the reaction of his teammates on the field and on the sideline, something he already experienced last season.

Bloom’s kick gave the Northern Knights a 23-20 victory over the Boston Junkyard Dogs in the second game of the day. Earlier on, the Southwest Cobras blew out the MetroWest Maulers 36-6. The Cobras’ win wrapped up a 3-0 record in the month-long season as well as the No. 1 seed. The Cobras will face the Southeast Dragons (1-2) for a half next Sunday at Malden Catholic. The winner of that will face the winner of another half of football between the Knights (2-1) and Junkyard Dogs (2-2) for one final half of football to determine the second champion in The League history. Everything begins at 5 P.M..

It may just be spring ball, but It didn’t feel like it for Bloom or anyone else involved in the pulse-pounding finish.

“I’ve kicked game winners before, I kicked the championship game winner last season for my team and that situation was just as much pressure,” Bloom said. “You’ve just got to keep doing the same thing. In the championship game (in NH) I didn’t even have that many people yelling my number or anything like that, just, being in those situations helps so much. This is definitely one of the cooler moments I’ve had in football.”

Right from the start it was a back-and-forth affair between the Junkyard Dogs and Knights on Sunday. BB&N’s Bo MacCormack broke off a long touchdown run early in the first quarter with teammate Vince Snoonian booting the PAT to put the JYD up 7-0. Billerica’s Jacob Metiever hauled in a 20-yard touchdown from Arlington Catholic’s Isaiah Osgood to cut it to 7-6, but the kick was no good.

A 26-yard touchdown catch from Isaiah Kacyvenski (BB&N) from Barnstable’s Henry Machnik in the second put the JYD back up 14-7, but Osgood hit Westford Academy’s Matt Haggan with a dime in the back right corner of the end zone and an ensuing two=point conversion knotted things up at 14-14. An impressive two-minute drive late in the half from Kaden Silton ended with a a 12-yard TD pass to Snoonian to make it 20-14 after another missed kick.

The only points of the third quarter came on a five-yard touchdown run for Tiger An (Windham, NH), but Bloom missed the PAT to leave the Knights and Junkyard Dogs deadlocked at 20-20 heading to the fourth.

In the final minutes, the Knights were knocking on the door for a go ahead TD, but the JYD came up with a goal line stand inside its own two. The only problem was, it backed up the Dogs’ and they quickly had to punt the ball back to the Knights who still got great field position at the 36 and 43 seconds on the clock. A huge catch from Meteiver moved the ball down inside the 10, setting up Bloom’s kick. After it went through with seven ticks remaining, the JYD had one last miracle opportunity, but Haggan had an interception to end it.

“They want to win and they want to compete,” Knights’ head coach Tim Freiermuth said. “This team has become so close in a short amount of time. No one is selfish and no one is playing for themselves. This is just a great team win.”

The first game of the day was a big one for St. John’s Shrewsbury’s Logan Mercer and Gavin Hatfield from Lawrence Academy.

On the first drive of the game Mansfield’s Dana Johnson had a one-handed interception for the Cobras, setting them up at the MetroWest Maulers’ 35. A few plays later, Mercer ripped off an impressive 20-yard TD run, but a missed two-point attempt kept it at 6-0. Early in the second, Hatfield had a six-yard TD run and a two-point catch for a 14-0 lead. Another Metro turnover soon led to a fantastic leaping touchdown catcher Hatfield from 16-yards out on a ball from Nathan Hynes (Waterford HS). Robert Torres (Notre Dame West Haven HS) added a two-point catch for a 22-0 halftime lead.

“The camaraderie at practice, we all get along,” Mercer said when asked what’s worked so well for the Cobras’ offense despite not having much time together. “No one’s like, ‘oh, why are you getting more playing time than me,’ or why is this happening, why is that happening, everyone’s together and I think it’s a big reason why we’ve been successful.”

Mercer added a 65 yard touchdown run and QB Liam Barry (Westhill) had a two-point run to make it 30-0 in the third. Barry also had a long jump ball touchdown throw to Westford Academy’s Tucker Welcom late in the frame to make it 36-0. Waltham’s Jack Renaud hit teammate Josh Registre for a pretty touchdown to the back left pylon late in the game to get on the board. The MetroWest team is done, but there is a dispersion draft this week so those guys will be able to participate in the postseason and championship next Sunday.

“What I like about the group is these kids really love football,” added Cobras head coach Neil McGrath. “They’re very attentive, they’ve been great with their communication and they love football and it’s starting to show. When you’ve got kids that buy in like this, even for such a short amount of time, it makes it a lot of fun and it makes our jobs really is.”