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Mespelli Leads Nipmuc Attack

Nipmuc football has been known for its passing attack over the past several years. Head coach Phil Shiloski always likes to have a 1500 yard passer, and will likely have just that in quarterback Mike Smith. The last two weeks, however, it has been a different kind of offense for the Warriors in their wins over St. Bernard's and Northbridge. "It's been the Joe Mespelli show," said Shiloski.
The senior running back churned out more than 300 yards on the ground over the past two games. He ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns in Nipmuc's 47-26 win over St. Bernard's and added 158 yards on 27 carries and two more touchdowns against the Rams last weekend. Shiloski indicated prior to the St. B's game that he wanted to establish the run.
"We have kind of benched our passing game over the past couple of weeks to run the ball," he said. "We knew St. Bernard's and Northbridge had strong offenses and we felt we needed to run the ball to keep their offense off the field."
Nipmuc ran the ball 41 times against St. Bernard's, with Mespelli picking up 25 of those touches. The passing game was not abandoned completely, however. Smith completed eight of 12 passes for 164 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Derek Moore. Mespelli contributed in that realm as well, with four catches for 100 yards. "His off season work was tremendous," said Shiloski of Mespelli. "He was in the weight room all off-season, lifts three times a week during the season and works very hard."
Shiloski also credited the play of his veteran offensive line. "They are all seniors and all big guys and the running game is really clicking right now," he said.
Most importantly the Warriors still have their talented quarterback and his favorite receiver. Once the run was established and Northbridge packed nine players in the box, Smith was able to hit Moore for three touchdowns and 150 yards through the air. "When we establish the run, we open up a lot of windows," said Shiloski.
Nipmuc brings a 4-2 record into this weekend's match-up with Worcester Burncoat. Shiloski feels that his ground game was able to catch the last two opponents by surprise, but that will not be the case this weekend.
"The word is out, there is no doubt about it," he said, referring to the newfound ground attack. "The good thing is, we can mix it up and go back to the spread on any given play. We want to continue to pound the ball, but we are showing teams that we are not one-dimensional. That is going to help us tremendously."




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