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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Following their eliminations from the 2016 MIAA South Sectional playoffs, the Dover-Sherborn and Medfield High football teams are slated to take to the gridiron one more time to face one another in their annual rivalry matchup on Thanksgiving at Dover-Sherborn High School on Thursday morning.
The Raiders (4-5) are coming off of a 26-7 victory over Fairhaven following their 34-0 loss to Archbishop Williams (Braintree) that ended their run to a Super Bowl. The Warriors (7-3), meanwhile, are coming in riding a two-game win streak with victories coming over Norwood (22-7) and Bellingham (42-0) following their 28-7 loss to Milton in the first round of the South Sectionals.
With both teams entering Turkey Day on a winning note, it is safe to say that both squads are going to want to end their season on a streak of consecutive wins, whether it be a potential three for Medfield or two for Dover-Sherborn.
Key offensive impact players for Medfield in this game will be junior quarterback Ryan Eamer, junior running back Mason Giunta, and wideouts James Voss (senior) and Mitchell Gonser (sophomore). Throughout the 2016 season, the Warrior trio of Eamer, Voss, and Gonser have caused havoc for opposing defenses, as both Voss and Gonser have proven to be extremely explosive in the open field after receiving dimes from Eamer. Gonser and Voss are also major factors on Medfield’s special teams, with both having returned either a kickoff or a punt for a touchdown during the 2016 season. Expect Eamer to air the ball out to his top-two targets early and often against the Raiders on Thanksgiving. With the large number of targets the two stud wideouts should be receiving, expect Gonser and Voss to make a lot of noise on offense.
On the offensive side of the ball, the story of the 2016 Dover-Sherborn Raiders has been the duel-threat ability of junior tight end Jack Mahoney as both a blocker and as a pass-catcher. Along with Mahoney’s stellar blocking and incredible ability to go up and get balls over opposing linebackers/corners, the Raiders have also seen great production from their committee of running backs in sophomore Tylan Mendes and junior Holden Ferrari. That’s in addition to the legs of dual-threat quarterback Eric Levine. The key to any victory at any level of football is to get the ball to your biggest offensive weapons, so expect to see a lot of targets heading Mahoney’s way on Thanksgiving while Ferrari and Mendes keep the Warrior defense honest on the ground.
Defensively, Jack Mahoney is arguably the biggest impact player on either side, having been a turnover and tackle machine all throughout the 2016 season for the Raiders. In order for the Warriors to gain success on the Raider defense, they have to find a way to stop Mahoney from penetrating the backfield on blitzes and find a way to contain him on outside runs, which is much easier said than done.
In a game that features two teams full of offensive firepower and defensive studs, it will be interesting to see how both the Warriors and Raiders attack one another via the ground and through the air. The storylines and the talent are all there - now it is time for some Thanksgiving football between two teams who have no mutual love for one another in DS and Medfield.