With the Stoughton High football team's 16-14 loss at Sharon last Saturday on the road, Stoughton Patch will look at some key factors contributing to the loss and look ahead to this Friday's road contest at Hockomock League rival Oliver Ames at 7 p.m. Stoughton is 6-1 heading into this game (1-1 in the Davenport Division) and OA is 5-2 (0-1 in the Davenport).
1. Playoffs and Destiny - Being a division game this tilt against Oliver Ames is even more crucial than a normal game between rivals. There are only four division games a year and the champion of the Davenport Division (consisting of Stoughton, Sharon, Oliver Ames, Canton and Foxborough) is based on division record and not overall record. Because of Stoughton's loss to Sharon, Sharon (2-0 in the division) needs to lose one to two more division games depending on how Stoughton fares down the stretch against Oliver Ames and Canton, if Stoughton is to make the postseason. Although this scenario is very possible, Sharon controls its destiny in the Davenport and it is out of Stoughton's direct control.
2. Must Win Game - Stoughton got a huge helping hand from division foe Foxborough Saturday afternoon, as the Warriors defeated Oliver Ames, 27-6, keeping OA behind Stoughton in the Division standings. This week's tilt against Oliver Ames is a must win game for both teams, with the loser unlikely to make the postseason. The loser of this game will have two division losses and it is highly unlikely a 2-2 division record will be good enough to win the Davenport and advance to the Division 3 playoffs. Last year these two teams met with a playoff trip for Stoughton on the line and with OA needing a win to keep its playoff chances alive and Oliver Ames came out on top in a slug fest, 24-14.
3. Stoughton's Offense - Throughout the first five games of the season the Knights scored 20+ points a game and scored at least three touchdowns in each game. Throughout that span Stoughton was able to move the ball down the field with ease. During the last two games the Knights have been held to 12 and 14 points respectively, as well as being held under 200 yards in each game. The rushing attack being held in check for the past two games is vital to this decline in offensive productivity. Stoughton will need a solid offensive showing against OA, and going forward, resembling the output from weeks 1-5.
4. Stoughton's Defense - For the first time this season we saw Stoughton's bend but don't break defense finally break. The Knights, who throughout the season have always made the big defensive play to change the game, fell just short Saturday afternoon. Stoughton needs to regain their stingy defense if they look to defeat a tough Oliver Ames squad on Friday.
5. Players To Watch - Running backs Aaron Mack and Malachi Baugh could be huge for Stoughton in this game. Against Sharon they combined for just five carries, something that may have contributed to the decline in offense. The Tigers will look to utilize running back St. Clair Ryan who has five touchdowns on the season as well as leading receiver Greg Cummings who has four receiving touchdowns thus far. He is a favorite target of Nick Cidado, a solid quarterback for OA.
Click here for a recap of the Stoughton/Sharon game (click here for a photo gallery)
Click here for a recap of the Oliver Ames/Foxborough game
Can't make it to Friday's game vs. Attleboro? You can follow all the action right on Stoughton Patch with our live blog.
Stoughton Patch editor Jeffrey Pickette contributed reporting.