Medfield's Jack Sullivan (11) and Dover-Sherborn's Emilio Cabey (83) fight for positioning on punt coverage. Photo by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Since 1966, Dover-Sherborn Regional and Medfield High School varsity football have settled their differences in front of a packed house on Thanksgiving.
The last time these two teams met was in 2019 at Medfield. Then-junior quarterback Ryan Murray rushed for three touchdowns to help lead the Warriors to a 34-14 victory. Due to COVID, these two bitter rivals were forced to wait five extra months to write the next chapter of their storied history.
On Thursday night, Medfield hosted DS for the second year in a row. The Raiders came to town looking to exact some revenge for the 2019 defeat and cap off whats been an extremely impressive season with a victory, while Medfield looked to snap a three-game losing streak.
The return of junior running back/linebacker TJ Casey (COVID protocols) could not have come at a better time for Medfield, which was without star wideout/running back James Wilder due to a knee injury. Casey slotted right back into the starting running back spot and served as Medfield's workhorse against the Raiders.
A big tackle for loss by Casey on an end-around to Johnny Bennett stalled out Dover-Sherborn's opening possession. A sack of Murray by sophomore defensive back Michael Polk allowed Dover-Sherborn's defense to force a three-and-out on Medfield's opening possession. The game would remain scoreless until 7:30 left to play in the second quarter. With DS pinned back inside their own 20, junior quarterback Grady Russo flipped the field by hitting Polk for a 51-yard completion on a seam route inside the Medfield 20. On second-and-11, Russo took a shotgun snap, scrambled out to his left and found Bennett in the back right corner of the end zone to put the Raiders ahead, 7-0.
A 22-yard completion from Murray to senior tight end Matt McTavish brought the Warriors into DS territory. However, a fumbled snap recovered for a loss by Murray, followed by consecutive incompletions, killed the drive and forced Medfield to punt. A sack of Russo by Demetrios Tassiopoulos forced Dover-Sherborn to punt on their next series, and the game remained 7-0 DS at the half.
Senior defensive lineman George Connors made a huge turning-point play for DS on the third play of the second half. On third-and-long, Murray dropped back in the pocket and was strip-sacked by Connors. Freshman Emilio Cabey recovered the fumble to give the Raiders possession at the Medfield 49-yard line. A quick-hitter out in the flat from Russo to senior running back Nick Rinaldi for 19 yards, followed by an 11-yard completion from Russo to Bennett set up the Raiders inside the red zone. A 14-yard run by Rinaldi, followed by a five-yard keeper by Russo, brought the ball down inside the one. Rinaldi capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run on a toss play out to the right, giving DS a 13-0 lead with 5:27 to play in the third.
Dover-Sherborn's defense forced a three-and-out on Medfield's next possession. A highlight-reel 68-yard return by Bennett on the punt set up DS with an immediate first-and-goal, giving the Raiders the chance to hammer the nail in the coffin. On second and goal from the two, Russo moved threw a ball intended for Polk out into the flat. Leonard jumped the route and intercepted the ball at the goal line before running out of bounds for a touchback, stealing back possession and giving Medfield life. A 32-yard run on a keeper by Murray on the first play of the ensuing series brought Medfield into DS territory. A completion on a play-action bootleg to McTavish on fourth down kept the drive alive. A quick-hitter to Casey out of the backfield gave Medfield a first-and-goal from the DS 9. However, following consecutive negative plays, Murray was sacked on fourth down by senior defensive lineman Oliver Ferrari to give back possession to DS.
The Raiders were able to chew up significant clock before punting back to Medfield with about four minutes to play. Murray drove deep into Dover-Sherborn territory looking to pull within one score. However, an interception to sophomore defensive back Daniel Sullivan with 1:03 to play sealed the shutout victory for DS. The Raiders prevailed by the 13-0 final to finish the season 5-1. The all-time rivalry record is now 28-22-4 in favor of Medfield.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.