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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

KP’s 2023 Super Bowl Champs Are in An Elite Category

A BANNER DAY: The King Philip football team celebrates its 42-14 victory over Marshfield that gave the Warriors their third Super Bowl championship in the program’s history. Photo courtesy of Joe Gianni.

13-0 Warriors Compiled Dynamic Statistics

By Ken Hamwey
Staff Sports Writer

As the years pass by and comparisons are made, one argument will invariably surface in Wrentham, Norfolk and Plainville, and it will focus on whether the 2023 King Philip football squad is the best in the program’s history. 

ON THE MOVE: Tallan King ran for 92 yards and three touchdowns in King Philip’s rout of Marshfield in the Division 2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. Photo courtesy of Jack McCreedy.


After the Warriors 42-14 triumph over Marshfield in the Division 2 Super Bowl, few, if any, would dispute that the 2023 edition had all the ingredients to be labeled “a team for the ages.’’

The top-seeded Warriors, who finished their season unbeaten at 13-0, dismantled the third-seeded Rams in every category imaginable. And, they dominated in all three phases of the game, thanks to experience, depth, a high football IQ and precision-like technique.

“They’re really, really good on offense, defense and special teams,’’ said Marshfield coach Chris Arouca. “When they had chances to make plays, they made them and we didn’t. That’s what it came down to. You can’t leave plays on the field in a state-final game.” 

That’s high praise from a classy coach whose squad faced KP on the big stage at Gillette Stadium last November. 

But, how about Franklin High’s Ian Bain, whose Panthers square off every Thanksgiving against the Warriors. His assessment after KP’s lopsided victory in the Super Bowl is telling.

Very telling.

“That KP team is the bestin the state,’’ said Bain, who’s coached at Franklin for the last eight years and saw his forces bow to KP, 35-0, last Thanksgiving. “It’s by far the best KP team I’ve seen. They relied on a balanced attack, their football IQ is high, and they’re deep. There are no glaring weaknesses anywhere.’’

Bain is also impressed with the way KP’s coach, Brian Lee, has built the program. 

“He’s got a clear vision and understanding of what he wants,’’ Bain emphasized. “He lives in the community (Norfolk) and his son goes to school at KP. Also, there’s little turnover with his assistants. It’s a staff that’s been consistent. And, the players and the communities buy into football. The towns know what KP football stands for and the kids are excited to be KP Warriors.’’

Lee, who’s been guiding the varsity for 19 years, was effusive in his praise of the Warriors, calling his 2023 contingent “my most talented team.’’ Lee also added that the current squad, which gave the program its third Super Bowl crown, is “special.’’ 

But, calling himself ‘the team dad,’ Lee said: “People love comparing teams but for me it’s difficult to choose a favorite child. They all hold a special place in my heart.’’

The 51-year-old Lee points to his 2017 squad that beat Lincoln-Sudbury, 10-7, for the school’s second Super Bowl championship. “They were special, too, because they had to grind out two wins over a great Mansfield team to get to Gillette,’’ he emphasized. “That’s a different type of ‘special.’ That group showed how special it was by digging deep to find a way to win it all.’’ 

Numbers, however, are revealing and usually tell a story. The stats that the 2023 team compiled are of epic proportions.

KP accumulated 447 yards of total offense (281 rushing and 166 passing) to only 203 for Marshfield. The Warriors’ high-powered attack led to 23 first downs to four for Marshfield.

KP trailed only once, 7-0, in the first quarter before taking a 21-14 lead at halftime. The second half was like a bloody knockout in boxing. Pro basketball fans would call it ‘garbage time,’ as KP dominated the final 24 minutes, outscoring Marshfield, 21-0. 

KP’s 13-game season ended with the Warriors averaging 33.9 points per game and its defense allowed a meager 6.6 points a game. They went unbeaten, won the Hockomock League title and became state champs.

“Before the game, I told the players they had a chance to be talked about forever,’’ Lee noted. “The victory should ensure they’ll be talked about for a long time. Our team had no areas that opponents could exploit.’’

The outcome was iced at the 9:45 mark of the third quarter on a 23-yard scoring run by sophomore running back Tallan King. Lee’s forces then proceeded to build an insurmountable advantage as quarterback Tommy McLeish hit Daniel Silveria for his second touchdown of the game to make it 35-14 at the 5:19 mark. King added his third touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter to make it 42-14 with less than eight minutes left. 

Another reason to put the 2023 Warriors in an elite category is their margin of victory — 28 points. When KP downed Reading and Lincoln-Sudbury for its two other Bowl championships, the margin was the same in both victories — three points.

The Warriors’ six touchdowns against Marshfield — three rushing and three passing — featured King’s running and McLeish’s passing. 

King finished with 92 yards and three TDs, running in sync with leading rusher Drew Laplante, who gained 134 yards on 23 attempts. 

Lee lauded King, who boosted his stock for the next two seasons. “I love that kid,’’ Lee said. “He’s old-school tough. It’s nice to have a future with him. Laplante had been leading us most of the year.’’ 

McLeish attempted 15 passes and completed 11 for 166 yards and three touchdowns. “I wish I could take credit for what Tommy McLeish adds to our program,” Lee said. “That’s all him. He’s an athlete, a winner and such a good leader. I felt that if he played well, we’d be fine.” 

McLeish lauded his line and his receivers for providing the spark on offense. “The line was moving people all night,” McLeish said. “They were making holes and that opened the passing game. Mason Campbell, Danny Silveria, David Holland and everyone else in there were making big-time catches.”

Junior Charlie Carroll caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Tor Maas on Marshfield’s opening drive and added another TD on a two-yard rush in the second stanza. But that was all the Rams’ offense — which had scored at least 50 points in its three playoff games — could generate. 

“I spent some sleepless nights thinking about Marshfield’s offense,’’ Lee admitted. “They beat Catholic Memorial by scoring 52 points in the semifinal game. And, they scored first against us on their opening drive and battled back to tie the game at 14 apiece. I had some anxious moments.’’

Lee praised two of his senior captains — linemen Sean King and Luke Danson — who suffered through KP’s two Super bowl losses to Catholic Memorial. “They weren’t afraid of subjecting themselves to another loss,’’ Lee said. “They were hungry for a win. They worked hard and were eager to end that losing streak. The 2023 team should be remembered for its resilience.’’

KP advanced to the Super Bowl by defeating Diman Vocational, 41-10; Winchester, 31-3; and Barnstable, 41-21. “Some might say we were lucky with the matchups but I believe we were better than I thought we were,’’ Lee said. 

KP’s triumph gave the football program a 3-3 record in Super Bowls. The three losses came twice against Catholic Memorial and to North Andover.

What’s important to consider about last November’s Super Bowl is that great teams are defined in various ways. Some are credited for their relentless defense, others for a prolific offense. In KP’s case, it’s defined by its all-around talent, its team-first approach, its leadership, its resilience and its trust in teammates and coaches.

There’ll be a time in the years ahead when a football team draws accolades for winning championships or for building a dynasty. And, that team will be praised — again and again and again.

But someone, perhaps an older fan, will remind those lavishing praise that: “Yeah, they’re a great squad but you should have seen the 2023 King Philip football team.’’