By: Andrew Wilkins
Last year, when opposing teams saw the AHS football team on their schedule, they may have been grinning from ear to ear.
The Bombardiers had a strong 4-0 start to the 2012 football season under head coach Kevin Deschenes, but it went downhill from there, as they went on to lose seven straight games and finished the year with a 4-7 record. Following the collapse, Deschenes announced his retirement as head football coach at AHS after 11 seasons.
So the Bombardiers went on a search for a new coach. Michael Strachan, a 1986 North Attleboro High School graduate, where he played quarterback, was hired as the new AHS football coach. Previous coaching experiences included head coaching positions with the Swedish National American Football Team and Framingham State University, as well as an internship with the New England Patriots.
With Strachan at the helm, the next task was choosing his coaching staff. Strachan took on the position of defensive coordinator as well, and hired long time friend and former coaching partner, Anthony Jodice of Mansfield, for his offensive coordinator.
He then hired 11 year NFL veteran and former Patriots running back/special teams player Sammy Morris as his special teams coach. Next, he added to AHS faculty members, House III Dean Mr. Matt Bosh as the Defensive Line Coach and special education teacher Mr. Chris Burns as the Offensive Line Coach. The freshman team also received a whole new staff including former AHS quarterback Michael Barry, Sean Cryan, and AHS English teacher Mr. Michael Saltzman.
“I was very excited to meet the new coaching staff,” said captain and linebacker/running back Tommy Burns (12).
Along with a new coaching staff, the Bombardiers went into a new season with new uniforms and a newly renovated stadium. The team would usually attend Dan Duquette’s sports camp in Hinsdale, Mass. for their week long, two-practices-a-day camp in Aug., but this year Strachan decided to conduct the camp at AHS. Following camp, the team played two scrimmage games, against Dighton-Rehoboth and Braintee, both of which they won.
The season kicked off as it did every year, with a game against cross-town rival Bishop Feehan, which the Bombardiers won in a 35-3 blowout. Then came the long-awaited home opener for AHS at the newly renovated Tozier-Cassidy Field. They took on Dartmouth, and the Bombardiers gave their fans quite the show with a 41-12 rout of the Indians.
Their next opponent was Franklin, who beat the Bombardiers by three in 2012. It was a hard fought game by both sides and once again the Bombardiers prevailed with a 37-20 win. The following week, they played host to the number one ranked team in Mass., the Mansfield Hornets. Going into the game, along with being undefeated, both teams had high powered offenses, and were also strong on the defensive side of the ball.
“It was possibly the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” said captain and quarterback Tim Walsh (12).
“It was a dog fight from start to finish,” said linebacker Ryan Bowen. “I felt sore for an entire week after that game.”
Both teams fought hard through the full 44 minutes. There was no giving up on either side and the action was relentless throughout the entire game. At the end of four quarters, the Bombardiers ended up falling to the Hornets 49-42, but didn’t let a slim seven point loss bring them down.
The next week, they bounced back with a 14-0 shutout of their arch-rivals, the North Attleboro Red Rocketeers, only the second time they faced off on a day other than Thanksgiving and the first time since 1969 that the Bombardiers shutout the Rocketeers. After that, the Bombardiers hit the road to face the Taunton Tigers, where they won by an astounding score of 45-0.
Then came the regular season finale at King Philip, with the winner taking second place in the Hockomock League’s Kelley-Rex Division. With back to back shutout wins, the Bombardier defense was feeling confident as they prepared to take on the Warriors, despite their high-powered running game. The Bombardiers came out victorious, winning 19-12 to give them a first round playoff game at home.
The Bombardiers went into the MIAA Division 1 South playoffs ranked as the number two seed, and played host to the number seven seeded New Bedford Whalers. The Whalers didn’t stand much of a chance because the Bombardiers went on to win 42-7. In the next round, they were matched up with the number three seeded Bridgewater-Raynham Trojans, and once again, the Bombardiers out powered their opponent as they went on to win the game 40-14.
Next was the Division 1 South Finals, with the winner moving on to the MIAA Division 1 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. The Bombardiers traveled to Westwood, Mass. to take on the number one seeded Xaverian Brothers Hawks.
“The games versus the Hawks was a great one,” said spectator Connor Silva (12).
The Bombardiers had a 21-7 lead going into half time and were carrying the momentum, but in the second half the Hawks burst to life and went on to beat the Bombardiers 35-28 in a back and forth exhilarating game.
“It was a great season for the team seeing how they were 4-7 last year and made it to the [Division 1 South Finals] this year,” said Kyle Sullivan (11).
Strachan started “the new era” for AHS football and hopes to continue it for years to come.
“He was a great coach and really knew what he was talking about on the field,” said kicker Michael Cannata (12).
The Bombardiers finished their season with a 34-19 win against North Attleboro in the annual Thanksgiving Day game, which was held at North Attleboro’s Community Field.
“We went down with a seven game losing streak last year, so we just had [a strong] work ethic going into this season,” said Walsh. “I really feel like the ‘Blue Pride’ in this town is back.”