Thirteen teams, ranging from the South Coast to the Lower Cape, gathered along the forearm of Cape Cod to compete in the third annual Cape Cod Passing League Tournament on Wednesday, July 31.
Of all the teams, however, it was the biggest school that came out on top to raise the hardware this year—the Barnstable Red Raiders.
Although Barnstable boasts two teams, one wearing red and the other sporting white uniforms, it was the red team—made up of mostly varsity players—that defeated Dennis-Yarmouth in the final, 26-20, at Monomoy Regional High School.
The Red Raiders got there by defeating Mashpee, last year’s tournament champions, 26-20, in the semifinal and breezed past host Monomoy, 32-12, in the second round after knocking off Upper Cape Tech, 30-6, in the opening round matchup.
Teams begin on the 40-yard line and have four downs to gain 20 yards in the 7-on-7, two-hand touch game. Upon scoring, teams had the option of going for two points from the 10-yard line or one point from the five-yard line while the clock ran continuously in the 40-minute game.
All year long, teams gathered across the Cape to partake in the weekly passing leagues, although no scores were kept until this particular tournament. Other teams that participated were Bourne, St. John Paul II, Old Rochester Regional, Falmouth, Cape Cod Tech, Nauset and Sandwich. Aside from Monomoy, other first-round games were held at Cape Cod Tech and Nauset Regional High School.
Below is a recap of how the five local teams fared in the annual tournament.
Bourne & Upper Cape Tech
The passing leagues may not favor these two small-school teams, especially considering their offensive success this season should primarily hinge on the running game more than airing the ball out.
Facing Nauset in the first round in North Eastham, the Canalmen were routed by the Warriors to make the long trek back to the bridge on Route 6 just a little bit longer. While both teams reached the playoffs in their respective divisions last fall, Nauset competes in the Division 4 South tournament while Bourne is in the Division 7 South field.
The same could be said for the Rams. Although assumed by many to be a legitimate Division 8 South contender this season, they simply did not have the bodies to combat the sheer roster size of Barnstable, a Division 2 South playoff team from a year ago.
Sandwich Blue Knights
It was a shaky start for the Blue Knights and quarterback Nick Brown, but both responded to push Dennis-Yarmouth on the field in a second-round matchup of old Atlantic Coast League rivals.
Though the Dolphins won, 36-18, there was plenty to look forward to this fall for the Blue Knights. After the first two drives were stalled out by interceptions, the second of which on a tipped ball, Brown settled in to put together three scoring drives and connected on a few third-down passes to keep drives alive.
Brown’s favorite and most reliable target on the afternoon was senior CJ Wiper, who made his passing league debut in the tournament. The lengthy wideout caught Sandwich’s first touchdown of the afternoon after being on the receiving end of a 22-yard throw and 15-yard catch-and-run play.
The two other touchdowns came via Wyatt Mayhugh, who made a nice catch in the back of the endzone on a throw from Brown that was lofted over the defense—on a third down, no less.
Eddie Archer set up Sandwich’s third and final touchdown with a 32-yard catch-and-run.
The run-option team fared pretty well in the tournament, knocking off Old Rochester, 25-21, in the second round before getting upended by D-Y, 34-20 in the semifinals.
Starting quarterback Kyle Connolly lined up at receiver all afternoon, giving the snaps to backup Dougie Rose, who looked strong against the Bulldogs, particularly late in the game. He completed four-straight passes before getting down around the goal line, thanks to a pass interference call and connected with a receiver for a touchdown one play later.
On the the Clippers’ next drive, Rose hooked up with receiver Cam Rowell on a 40-yard bomb along the right sideline for a touchdown. The pass was tipped in the endzone by a D-Y defender and bobbled by Rowell before securing the score.
Falmouth picked off ORR on the Bulldogs’ final possession with 20 seconds left to preserve the win.
The reigning passing league champs came within one play of defending their title before Barnstable scored the go-ahead touchdown with two seconds left 26-20 to eliminate the Falcons.
But it was a strong showing for the Division 7 South powerhouse. Backup quarterback Ryan Hendricks made nearly every throw—showing an affinity toward the shifty and reliable Devon Hughes in particular. He also regularly looked to running back Kendall Rose and tight end Matt Bowen over the middle.
While the offense typically shines in these situations, it was the Mashpee defense that dominated the early portion of the game. Sampson Brooks picked off two passes on back-to-back defensive stands while Cyrus Hendricks picked off the Barnstable quarterback as well. In total Mashpee intercepted four passes against the Red Raiders.