For the last four years the turkey around the table at Thanksgiving dinner has tasted excellent for the Falmouth High School football players. After getting dominated the better part of 15 years the Clippers have gotten the best of the Barnstable Red Raiders each of the last four Thanksgivings.
Barnstable is dead set on putting an end to that on Thursday, November 28.
BHS Head Coach Ross Jotkola has led BHS to its second-straight winning season under his tutelage, and took the Raiders to the state playoffs this year. He can swipe two more Xs off his to-do list on Turkey Day by leading BHS to its first win over the Clippers since 2014, and wrapping up the first-ever Cape and Islands League championship. BHS has already earned a share of the title, but a victory would give them the outright title. If Falmouth were to win the Raiders would share the C&I title with the winner of D-Y and Nauset.
The Clippers are looking to make it five straight years with a win on Turkey Day. Over the last four years they've scored no fewer than 36 points in any of their wins and have outscored the Red Raiders 180-87.
BHS would have to be considered the favorites this year as the two rivals meet. The Raiders went 5-2 in the regular season before a loss to King Philip in the first round of the tournament. They enter the game at 6-4.
Falmouth (3-7) has struggled this year at times. After starting the campaign off with two straight wins they went into a slide, losing six in a row before taking down Middleboro in a shootout. While the team's results have not been what they've desired, the Clippers have been competitive in each of the last five games. Despite going just 1-4 over that stretch, the team had a chance to win each game.
FHS will have its hands full with the Red Raiders, who have a strong defensive line and a capable running game. Colin Marczely and Harry Lanman are both weapons in the running game for the Raiders and quarterback Andrew Landry can fling the ball around.
“My biggest concern is their power running game, with their size up front. They run a traditional Wing-T offense and do a really nice job of executing and blocking at the point of attack,” FHS Coach Derek Almeida said. “The ball handling and faking out of the backfield is very deceptive. If we want to play well on defense we need to have our eyes in the right place and read our keys, but then also commit to a read and take on blocks aggressively, with good angles.”
For the Clippers, health might be the biggest concern heading into the game. Quarterback Kyle Connolly has been hobbled by an ankle injury he suffered in the memorable four overtime loss on the road at Medway a few weeks back. He sat out the following week against Middleboro and appeared to reinjure the same foot in a loss at Plymouth North in the season's penultimate contest.
Connolly has owned the Red Raiders the last two years, rushing for over 250 yards in each of the last two Thanksgiving Day games. He introduced himself to BHS as a sophomore by running for 259-yards and three touchdowns. Last year, as a junior, he accumulated 303-yards and three more touchdowns. While Connolly's health is certainly a concern, one teammate said “he'd probably go out there and play with a boot on if he had to.”
Cam Rowell has been the team's second-biggest offensive producer, playing a variety of positions. Rowell has chipped in at fullback and receiver, and played quarterback when Connolly was out. Marvell Nicholson, Sam Cavossa, Cam Govoni and Dre Cain Williams have all had impacts as well.
Coach Almeida said that whoever has the ball needs to take care of it.
“We need to be able to establish our inside run game and also keep them honest with the pass and outside run. Our kids are excited and have had really good practices. Ball security on offense has been an issue and has cost us momentum and field position in big moments this year,” he said. “We need to always be cautious of protecting the ball and finishing our runs with good pad level and keeping the ball tight and covered.”