Here are three thoughts on Mansfield’s 21-19 victory over the Attleboro Bombardiers at Alumni Field on Friday night. Click here for a full recap of the game.
1. Malique Clark is a beast
Coach Redding described Clark as the league’s “Offensive MVP,” which is high praise considering the amount of talent, particularly running back talent, the Hockomock League contains. Clark is that deadly combination of speed and power and if he gets an opening he is far too fast to be caught. He also has the ability to get out in passing routes and cause damage as he did on the 63-yard connection with Tim Walsh in the 2nd quarter on Friday night.
Clark also needs to keep his cool, especially when facing powerhouse programs like the Hockomock’s big three of North Attleboro, Mansfield, and King Philip. His two personal foul calls in the fourth quarter almost single-handedly cost the Bombardiers the chance to win the game just as much as his ability gave them the opportunity to pull off the upset. It’s a delicate balance, but Clark needs to stay focused because, with Jared Harris and Brandon Arrone hurt, Clark is the Attleboro offense.
2. Attleboro had the attitude tonight
This is the best game that Attleboro has played against the big three. They had every reason to think that they could win this game after Mansfield’s loss to Stoughton last week and the Bombardiers strong 4-0 start to the season. Of course, each of Attleboro’s seasons in the Hockomock has had a disappointing pattern of beating everyone – except for the teams that are blocking its path to the playoffs.
Last year, following the 14-7 loss to North on Thanksgiving Day, I wrote this about the Bombardiers. Talent has not been the issue, but confidence has. Attleboro has never approached its games with the Kelley-Rex teams with the utter belief that they were going to win. Standing on the Attleboro sideline there was far more belief in the players in white. They approached the game from a standpoint that they were just as good as the Hornets and, in the end, they just about were.
3. Hornets passing game needs one more piece
Mansfield quarterback Kyle Wisnieski is very accurate in the intermediate game and has two solid possession receivers in fellow junior Michael Hershman and sophomore giant Brendan Hill. The Hornets just seem to be missing the receiver that can stretch the field. Mansfield can control the clock with their power running game (the Hornets used five running backs to replace star Robbie Rapoza after he went down with injury) and short passes, but occasionally it helps to be able to go long downfield.
It is a great achievement to move the ball on long drives that take up a lot of the clock, but against big defensive fronts such as last week against Stoughton, the Hornets offense can get bogged down. With a deep threat, the secondary has to be a little more on edge to prevent a receiver getting behind them, which can open up the underneath passes that Wisnieski, Hershman, and Hill thrive on.