Eagles overpower Huskies in rivalry showdown

Barrington ends season with 36-7 victory over Mt. Hope

By Josh Bickford
Posted 11/27/23

The Barrington High School football team capped its championship season with a commanding 36-7 win over Mt. Hope in the annual Thanksgiving Day football game.

The Eagles, who won the Division II …

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Eagles overpower Huskies in rivalry showdown

Barrington ends season with 36-7 victory over Mt. Hope


The Barrington High School football team capped its championship season with a commanding 36-7 win over Mt. Hope in the annual Thanksgiving Day football game.

The Eagles, who won the Division II State Championship a week earlier, built a 15-0 first quarter lead against the Huskies and carried a 29-0 advantage into halftime. 

Mt. Hope’s defense forced the Eagles to convert two fourth down plays on the first drive of the game. Barrington Coach Sandy Gorham said he knew the Huskies, who started the regular season 0-8, would give a great effort in the rivalry game. 

“Mt. Hope played hard. They played tough. I told my kids, don’t expect these kids to come in and lay down,” Gorham said. 

Mt. Hope Head Coach Shane Parker said Barrington posed a difficult challenge.

“That’s the… D-II state champion. You’re climbing a big mountain when you show up. And they (Mt. Hope) didn’t just lay down. The first drive… it takes nine minutes and two fourth down conversions to beat us. They (Barrington) had some trick plays. For them to feel like they have to run those trick plays is because of how well our defense was matching up against them,” Parker said. 

The Huskies’ coach said his defense was determined to slow down Barrington running back AJ DiOrio. The Eagles’ senior had played a key role in Barrington’s offensive success all season.

“They’re very good at that option. Sandy’s been running it since I was in high school. I’ve coached against him many times and at many different schools. They’re very good at it. We wanted to take away their dive and make them beat us in different ways. I thought we did great with that. They started to pull and pitch it. And they were more physical with us on the edges,” Parker said.

“I think we took away their bread and butter on that play. They killed Cumberland on it. They killed St. Rays on it, just on the dive. Twenty, DiOrio — he just killed (Cumberland and St. Rays). They were just good enough to beat us in other places.”

Barrington ran its option numerous times on the first drive of the game. DiOrio picked up some key yardage, as did BHS quarterback Alex McClelland and slot receiver Mitchell Ivatts. On two fourth down plays, McClelland called his own number and picked up first downs. On first and goal from inside the 10, McClelland pitched to Ivatts who barreled into the end zone for a touchdown. 

Ben Aree kicked the extra point and the Eagles led 7-0 with 3:31 left to play in the first quarter. 

The ensuing kickoff sailed high in the air and the Huskies’ return man failed to catch it. The ball bounced once and then the Eagles’ Chucky Potter recovered it. A few plays later, McClelland ran a QB keeper into the end zone. A two-point conversion gave Barrington a 15-0 lead with 1:22 to play in the first quarter. 

Meanwhile, the Huskies struggled to move the ball on offense. Barrington took over possession after a punt and marched down the field for another touchdown. 

Initially, Ivatts scored but the play was called back on a penalty. The Eagles regrouped on first and goal from the 16 yard line. McClelland handed the ball to Luca Marino, who pitched it to Ivatts, who then threw a strike to McClelland who had sprinted into the flat. McClelland darted into the end zone, giving Barrington a 22-0 edge. 

With time running down in the second quarter, Barrington’s offense scored its fourth TD of the game. Spencer Proulx followed some blocks round the right side of the line and powered over some Mt. Hope defenders at the goal line. 

Gorham said he was proud of his team’s ability to execute plays.

“The emotion wasn’t there, obviously, but once they got into the game they executed well,” he said. 

“We’re a senior team, and that experience and athleticism showed when we needed it.”

The Eagles stretched the lead to 36-0 in the third quarter when McClelland found Evan Anderson on a 35-yard touchdown pass. That lead allowed Barrington to get many of its back-up players onto the field for the remainder of the game.

The Huskies’ fourth quarter touchdown came on a short pass from Riley Howland to Lucas Andreozzi. 

“Barrington is just a very good team and I think a couple things didn’t go our way, and against a team like that they can make those things hurt,” Parker said. “The first kick off really kind of hurt.”

Derick Case earned the player of the game award for Mt. Hope, while Ivatts earned the MVP for Barrington. 

“It feels amazing,” Ivatts said after the game. “Playing with the boys in our last game. It was a little emotional. But it feels great to get player of the game in the last game. That’s a great way to go out.”

Ivatts, a senior, took a moment to reflect on the championship season and what it meant to the team and this year’s seniors. 

“They’re my brothers. I love all of them. I wouldn’t choose anyone else to do it with. They’re just great people. Not only football players, but great friends. Even the kids who don’t play as much, they’re just awesome. They’re such good people,” he said. 

Gorham said this was a season to remember. 

“The chemistry is there. I know it’s an overused term, but they’re just great kids to be around,” he said.

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