Kingswood Oxford Wins 1st-Ever New England Championship
The Varsity Football team made school history on Nov. 21, beating Berkshire School, 49-29, to win the NEPSAC Mike Atkins New England Championship Bowl -- KO's first Bowl win ever. Click here for photos, and click here for a profile of the Wyverns' worst-to-first story, which aired on Fox Sports.
"No matter what else ever happens, we're always going to be talking about this moment in time," said an exuberant Head Coach Jason Martinez. "We're New England Champs! We're the best the state has to offer!"
The game began at 1pm on a bright and sunny Hoffman Field packed with red-and-black-clad students, parents, and alums. The prior evening, after the final practice of the season, two KO football veterans -- Greg Hickey '47 and Bo Brown '06 -- had offered the team words of inspiration as the squad prepared to achieve a goal no other KO team had ever achieved before.
The scoring started quickly, when Rutgers verbal-commit wide receiver Isaiah Wright ’16 caught a screen from quarterback Jacob Hallenbeck ’16 for a 25-yard touchdown early in the first quarter. Berkshire tied the score with a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Pitcher to Sam Langan.
In the second quarter, KO scored three more times: the first on a 3-yard touchdown run by Duke commit Koby Quansah ’16; the second on a 25-yard pass from Hallenbeck to Jared Bolden ’16; and the third on a 15-yard pass from Hallenbeck to Wright. Berkshire scored on a well-executed 74-yard touchdown pass, once again from Pitcher to Langan, making the halftime score 28-14.
KO opened the second-half scoring with a 19-yard touchdown run by Wright. After a key interception, the Wyverns were pinned deep in their own territory, and a strong Berkshire pass rush yielded a safety, making the score 35-16. Berkshire turned the good field position into a 1-yard touchdown run by Charlie Erdmann.
By the end of the third quarter, the score was 42-22, after Quansah ran 57 yards for a TD. The Wyverns and Bears traded scores in the fourth quarter: Hallenbeck threw a beautiful 27-yard touchdown to Andrew Lemkuil ’16, and Pitcher threw an 18-yard touchdown to Caleb Cilumba to finish the Bears' scoring.
The victory marked the culmination of a five-year turnaround for Wyvern football. When Martinez took the helm in the fall of 2011, the team went 0-8. Since then, the records improved to 2-6, 6-2, 7-2, and 7-1 this year. This was the second year in a row that KO earned a Bowl bid and the third year in a row that the team was co-champs of the Fairchester Athletic Association.
"These kids love and respect each other so much," Martinez said. "It's evident in the way they fight for each other, the way they represent themselves in the classroom, the way they conduct themselves on and off the field. From the very beginning, the guys said they wanted to win a championship, and I said: let's hold our horses a little bit. Let's come together as a family first, and the winning will come. And that's what these kids are, what this program is -- it's a real family."
Click here to view a video of Head of School Dennis Bisgaard Celebrating the win.