Clocker’s return stuns warriors in OT
James Wilder (3) avoids an Ashland tackle and cuts the middle on one of his 26 runs, the top of his team.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Medfield High School varsity football went to Ashland on shorthanded Friday afternoon as three key members (TJ Casey, Jared Hirschfeld, Sam Patry) of the Warriors (1-4) were sent off due to protocols COVID. Medfield looked to respond following a difficult 35-7 loss to Holliston on April 9, while the Clockers (4-1) looked to snag a share of TVL Large with a win.
With Casey sidelined for the second week in a row, all-star James Wilder has been brought back to the starting running back. Despite the lack of depth behind Wilder, as well as Hirschfeld’s lack of up front to block, the move to Wilder as Medfield’s main running back supercharged Medfield’s attack.
Medfield’s defense forced Ashland to make three consecutive strikeouts to open the game. With the game still scoreless near the end of the first quarter, Ryan Murray led the Warriors on a 64-yard drive with several starting points on goaltenders. Murray capped practice with a one-yard touchdown with 10:57 left in the second quarter to give Medfield a 7-0 lead.
A sack by senior linebacker Phil Parker and a tackle for a third down loss by senior defensive end Demetrios Tassiopoulos forced Ashland’s offense to another three and one out. In the second possession play that followed, Wilder (26 carries, 205 yards, two touchdowns) transferred to the middle, cut to his left and threw 77 yards intact for a touchdown to double Medfield’s lead at 14-0 with 8: There are 55 left in the half of the field.
Following Wilder’s long scoreline, Medfield’s defense again forced Ashland to clear, setting up Murray and the attacking midfield. A 12-yard run by Murray on a read option moved the ball to the 31-yard line. In fourth and third, Medfield returned to Wilder, who gave the Warriors a first down and more, smashing a series of tackles before making their way into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown. Wilder’s second score of the day gave Medfield a 21-0 lead with 3:14 left in the half.
Ashland changed the pattern of his attack on the Clockers’ final possession in the first half. Instead of operating their widely divided base receiver set, the Clockers have converged on an option-type attack called “Diesel,” where the 11 men line up in a power group below center. The new look seemed to disrupt Medfield’s defense, as the Clockers were able to walk slowly through Medfield territory with less than 30 seconds to go before half-time. The Warriors managed to force Ashland to a fourth down and seven with 22 seconds left. In the fourth down play, Ashland returned to his basic offense. Senior quarterback Luke Herter fell back into the pocket and found Nick Fish, a senior fumble, in a curl lane. Fish broke a tackle and sprinted 19 yards for a touchdown to put Ashland on the shelf. Despite relinquishing the scoring late, Medfield still led a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Neither team was able to generate much offense in the third quarter. However, a big catch-and-run from Fish at the back end of the frame allowed Ashland to move the ball inside the red zone. In the first game of the fourth quarter, Fish landed a one-yard touchdown to reach the Clockers with a score of 21-13 with 11:52 remaining (PAT not good).
A punt on Medfield’s next possession gave Ashland the ball back at 30 with about seven minutes left. The Clockers rolled to the one-yard line before quarterback Luke Herter left the game with an injury. Alternate quarterback Ethan Antoniuk stepped in and landed a one-yard kick to get Ashland in a two-point conversion with 3:05 to go. On the two-point try, Antoniuk opted to his left and dove into a pile of bodies on the goal line. Antoniuk’s knee seemed shot down with the ball below the goal line. However, after the conference, officials judged the two-point trial to be a success. The conversion tied the game at 21 and forced him into extra time.
Ashland picked up the ball to start overtime and scored in the first scrimmage play, a 10-yard touchdown by Nick Fish. Luke Herter came back for the two-point conversion attempt and hit a two-yard quarterback goaltender to give Ashland a 29-27 lead. In Medfield’s first possession play, Ryan Murray faked a transfer to Wilder on an action play before rushing to his left and hitting Matt McTavish for a 10-yard touchdown into the flat, bringing the Warriors under two points. conversion of a second additional hour. On the two-point try, Murray took the slam and attempted a quarterback keeper to the right. Murray was hit behind the line of scrimmage by a gang of Ashland tackles as the try went unsuccessfully. Ashland completed the comeback and won by a 29-27 final.
Medfield will end his season on April 22 against his big rival Dover-Sherborn.
For fun and incisive sports analysis and video game clips, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @ flano0.