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October 27, 2013

Sanchez, Whittier cruise into playoffs

BILLERICA — Thanks to a dominating regular-season finale, Whittier heads into the upcoming Division 5 playoffs exactly how a contender wants to advance — on a roll.

Winning for the fifth time in their last six games, the Wildcats breezed past Shawsheen 27-7 in yesterday’s final Commonwealth Conference regular season game.

“We’re still peaking,” said Whittier coach Kevin Bradley, who will find out his squad’s first-round opponent this afternoon. “We’re playing good football, but we’re not there yet. I feel we’re as good as anyone in the playoffs. When you go into the playoffs, everybody’s good, we just have to make sure we’re better. And if we play as well as we’re playing, I feel very good about it.”

With Jesus Sanchez providing a big chunk of the offense, Whittier (5-2 overall, 3-1 conference) scored on three of their four first-half possessions to take control early. All four of those drives began in Shawsheen territory.

Whittier’s control was so dominant it ran off nearly 7 1/2 minutes and 15 plays on a drive that went only 45 yards and culminated with Jaylin Deveau’s leaping 1-yard touchdown plunge. But before Deveau’s payoff, the Wildcats were successful on two fourth-down conversions in which they needed 5 and 3 yards.

“We just know on those (fourth-down plays) we have to execute,” said Sanchez, who finished with 138 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. “The line has to execute and guys have to run their holes right. Executing is all it really is.”

For the game, Whittier was successful on five of its six fourth-down attempts, including a 26-yard touchdown by Sanchez.

“When you go for it on fourth down as many times as we do and get it, it speaks so much about the character of the offense,” Bradley said. “They know we’re not going to punt. They don’t like it when we punt. I mean I hate punting. But holding onto the ball kept (Shawsheen) off the field.”

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