Dream Season Ends for Barnstable Red Raiders
In a match-up whose script seemed written by Hollywood, the top two teams in the state - Barnstable (11-1) and Everett (11-1) - pounded each other to the very end in the MIAA Div. 1A Super Bowl championship at Gillette Stadium this afternoon in Foxboro.
One loss by one point.
For the 75 young souls who stood dumbfounded at the end of this afternoon's MIAA Div. 1A Super Bowl championship at Gillette Stadium - the 75 players of the top-ranked Barnstable High School Red Raiders - it seemed too much to swallow. It was a bitter pill to have realized it had just fallen to a team it had beaten earlier in the season, and the loss came when all the marbles were laid bare on the table, a 20-19 defeat that invoked tears and collective looks of disbelief.
Number two-ranked Everett High simply outlasted the Red & White on this snowy, biting December afternoon, even in spite of one of the most punishing defensive efforts seen on a Barnstable football field in, perhaps, decades.
Barnstable's defense caused not one less than three fumbles and two interceptions and by many accounts, two additional fumbles that were ruled not so, including a last-minute, bone-jarring hit by free safety Kevin Hardy on Everett running back extraordinaire, Ken Calaj and an earlier one picked up by Derek Estes that was ruled down.
The Barnstable defense, in fact, was the story of the game, even with Tedaro France's 104 yards receiving on just three catches and his three touchdown scores.
Yes, it was the fierce determination and heart of Ryan Litchman, Jason Frieh, Jonny Eldredge, Andrew Ellis, Bryan Hardy, Derek Estes, Dereck Pacheco, D.J. Gonsalves, Manny Dulak, Kevin Hardy, Hayden Murphy, Tedaro France, Tom Grimmer and Marcus Cunningham that kept an at times sputtering Red Raider team in the game.
Estes and France had interceptions and Pacheco and Cunningham had fumble recoveries, with Cunningham, starting over an injured Rob Stuart, collecting two loose balls. Frieh, the team's sack leader this season from his slot at defensive end, had Barnstable's sole QB sack of the day.
In spite of Barnstable's defensive effort - a Herculean one to be blunt - it may have had to shoulder too much of the day's workload to render effective any offensive effort the team had hoped to put up.
Barnstable quarterabck Nick Peabody - under intense pressure throughout the affair - went just 8-29 on the day for 197 yards and threw two interceptions. His first interception, on Barnstable's third offensive play of the game, was picked off and run into the end zone for Everett's first score, just 2:30 into the first quarter. His second interception was Barnstable's last offensive play of the season. Everett's Calaj picked it off along the sideline on 3rd and 15 with the Red Raiders knocking on Everett's door and just over a minute left.
Down 20-19 to the Crimson Tide, Calaj's pick-off erased any real hope Barnstable had left even though the defense never relented to the very last second of play.
Barnstable's Hayden Murphy - who rushed for 78 yards on 14 carries - put forth a phenomenal, gutsy effort, just as he has the entire season and in the four 100-yard games he notched prior to this stellar affair.
His effort pushed him past the 1,000-yards rushing mark for the season (1,049 yards rushing) and made him just the 9th Barnstable Red Raider running back since the program's inception in 1893 to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Murphy, a junior, had 119 all-purpose yards on offense to lead the Red & White.
France's three touchdowns and 104 yards receiving topped the vaunted Red Raider receiving corps, including a 76-yard touchdown reception on the last play of the third quarter that breathed new life into a Barnstable team that prior to that moment was down 20-6.
Barnstable, in actuality, never had the lead in this game.
Everett scored on Josh Palmer's 33-yard interception for a touchdown at the 7:32 mark in the first quarter, followed by Gilly DeSouza's PAT kick to make it 7-0.
With just 2:42 left in the first half, Barnstable returned the favor when Peabody found France open along the Red Raiders' sideline for a nine-yard touchdown to make it 7-6. But Barnstable's PAT kick attempt to tie it failed when the snap went awry and kicker Dereck Pacheco was forced to pick it up and scramble to no avail.
Everett and Barnstable then traded offensive sets before the Tide's Jakarrie Washington broke free at midfield and juanted 53 yards to paydirt to make it 13-6. Pacheco blocked DeSouza's PAT kick attempt, but Everett still had a one-score lead.
The Red Raiders could not capitalize on a fumble recovery by Cunningham - his first of two - or Estes' interception at the Barnstable 11-yard line, one which he ran back 40 yards before being brought down.
Backed by intense and productive runs by Murphy and a nifty sideline catch from James Burke, Barnstable inched and scrapped its way to the Everett 12-yard line just before the half ended. Barnstable seemed hurried along, though, by the ticking clock and on a 4th and 3 was stuffed by the Tide.
After going three and out to start the second half, Cunningham reinvigorated the Red & White with a fumble recovery at the 43-yard line but once again the Red & White could not capitalize.
Instead, it was Everett's Washington who sped into the end zone to make it 19-6 and DeSouza who blasted the PAT through the uprights to make it 20-6.
But Tedaro France - who just three minutes earlier intercepted an Everett pass in the end zone - took a Peabody pass from the 24-yard line and raced downfield 76 yards for a touchdown that made it 20-12. Pacheco's PAT boot was good and the score was now a surmountable 20-13.
It breathed so much hope and fire into the Red & White, that the Red Raider defense - paced by Estes, Kevin Hardy and Litchman on this series - stuffed Everett and forced it to punt. Following an incompletion on first and 10, Peabody found Murphy and drilled him for a 40-yard gain to the Everett 30-yard line, followed by France and Peabody's piece-de-resistance.
Under heavy pressure by the attacking Tide, Peabody rolled left and appeared to be running toward daylight when he put on the brakes at the line of scrimmage and found a wide open France in the end zone to make it 20-19.
WIth just 7:26 left in the game, the time was now.
But on Pacheco's PAT kick attempt, the Tide would have none of it and tipped the young kicker's offering. The score remained 20-19, Everett, and it would remain a lead that the Everett team simply would not relinquish.
Barnstable finishes at 11-1, the second best season ever put forth by the Red & White, just behind the 11-0 1995 Super Bowl champions.
This is Everett's 10th State Championship title. Barnstable has won two (1995 and 1999).