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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Despite not playing in the same conference,competing on any athletic surface seems to always hold big-time implications and see thrilling performances by both sides.
The last time two varsity teams from Walpole and Medfield High School squared off was the 2017 Division II Central/East boys lacrosse finals in June, which turned out to be an all-time classic (13-12 win for Medfield in overtime). A week prior to that, the Walpole girls lacrosse team took down Medfield in the quarterfinals en route to a sectional title.
It’s safe to say that these two towns have become extremely familiar with one another.
Given the competitive histories these two towns share, especially as of late, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that the Walpole vs. Medfield football game on Friday saw multiple lead changes, that both sides came back from being down multiple scores, or that the game came down to literally the final snap.
The Warriors (6-1) scored the first 14 points on Friday. Senior running back Mason Giunta dashed eight yards to the right corner of the end zone less than three minutes in to put Medfield up 7-0. A 40-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Mitchell Gonser following a Walpole turnover deep in their own territory gave the Warriors a 14-0 lead with a little over seven minutes to play in the opening quarter.
Senior quarterback Brett Lavanchy calmed things down for Walpole on their next possession, leading the Rebels (2-5) on a 12-play, eight-minute drive. Lavanchy capped it off with a nine-yard touchdown scramble on the first play of the second quarter, trimming the deficit to seven. The Rebel defense then forced Medfield to punt and Lavanchy again led the Rebels on another touchdown drive, this time taking just five plays and a little over two minutes off the clock before finding a wide open Andrew White for a 27-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14.
On Medfield’s next possession, Chase Conrad picked off a Mitchell Gonser pass and ran it down inside the ten-yard line, setting up a first and goal for Lavanchy and the Rebel offense. Lavanchy hit sophomore wideout Drew Von Klock on a flat route on the first play of the drive, and Von Klock bulled his way into the end zone to give the Rebels their first lead of the contest at 21-14. The Walpole defense stood tall and got the ball back to their offense with a little over two minutes to play. Lavanchy led the Rebels into field goal range with first-down completions to Von Klock and White. Lavanchy booted home a field goal with just seconds to play in the half to give the Rebels a 10-point lead at the break at 24-14.
Gonser led the Warriors on a long touchdown drive during Medfield’s opening possession of the second half, punching the ball in himself from 11 yards out to cut the deficit to three at 24-21.
Walpole came right back down and scored a touchdown on their ensuing possession, but the PAT by Lavanchy was blocked and the Rebel lead was held to nine at 30-21.
With 2:36 to play in the third quarter, Gonser hooked up with tight end Liam O’Toole for a 22-yard touchdown. Mason Giunta added a successful two-point conversion to trim the Rebel lead to 30-28. From there, it was the Mason Giunta show, as the Warriors kept feeding the rock to their workhorse. Giunta delivered powerful runs to set the Warriors up with a first and goal. He then punched in his second touchdown of the night with 6:25 to play, as well as a successful two-point try out of the wildcat formation to reclaim the lead for Medfield at 36-30.
Following the go-ahead score by Giunta, both teams exchanged punts, and the Rebels got the ball near mid-field with a little over a minute to play and the chance to tie or take the lead. With just seven seconds to play and the ball at the Medfield 40-yard line, Lavanchy dropped back and launched a Hail Mary to the end zone, but the ball was batted away and Medfield hung on for the 36-30 victory.
With the regular season over outside of their annual Thanksgiving contests, both teams will now gear up for the postseason. Walpole received the No. 8 seed in Division III South and will travel to No. 1 seed North Attleboro on Friday. Meanwhile, Medfield received the No. 2 seed in Division V South and will host Falmouth.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.