Foxborough, Mass. – With a 6-0 victory over King Philip in the Division 2 State Championship, the North Andover Scarlet Knights ended their season a perfect 12-0 under the leadership of head coach John Dubzinski, who has been named the 2018 New England Patriots Coach of the Year.
To secure the title, North Andover bested a King Philip team that had won the state crown each of the past two seasons. The championship continues a winning tradition for the Dubzinski family, as Dubzinski's grandfather, Walt, coached Gardner High School to a dynasty run from the 1950s-60s and his uncle, Walter Jr., also led Gardner and Lunenburg to Super Bowl appearances. Additionally, Dubzinski's father, John Sr., coached in a combined 10 Super Bowls at Leominster and Fitchburg, with his cousin, Mike, rounding out the family tree with four Super Bowl victories at Wachusett. Overall, North Andover's Super Bowl appearance marked the 20th time a team coached by a Dubzinski has qualified for a state title game.
The Scarlet Knights took home the title with a stout defensive effort fueled by a key turnover. Midway through the second quarter, North Andover senior quarterback Jake McElroy threw an interception in the end zone. However, just two plays later, Darren Watson recovered a fumble off a toss play to take the ball back for the Scarlet Knights on the King Philip 7-yard line. After being stuffed on the goal line, Dubzinski decided to go for it from the 1-yard line on fourth down and was rewarded with a McElroy rushing touchdown. After King Philip blocked Gabe DeSouza's extra point, North Andover took a 6-0 lead into the half. The Scarlet Knights stopped the Warriors on all three of their second-half drives, sealing the game with a sack from linebacker Mike Roche. McElroy finished his day with an efficient 10 of 16 passing for 117 yards to go with his rushing score, and DeSouza led the way with five receptions for 64 yards.
As the New England Patriots High School Coach of the Year, Coach Dubzinski has also been nominated for the NFL Don Shula High School Coach of the Year Award. As part of the selection process, all 32 nominees from around the country will be invited to Orlando for the USA Football National Conference and Pro Bowl week in January 2019.
Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett, now the team's executive director of community affairs, met with the North Andover players and coaching staff Tuesday afternoon to present the football program with a $2,000 donation on behalf of the New England Patriots Foundation, in honor of Coach Dubzinski. The visit and check presentation will be featured on the Patriots weekly television show, "Patriots All Access," which airs on Friday night at 7 p.m. on WBZ-TV in Boston and will be available immediately after on Patriots.com.
This is the 23rd year in which the Patriots have joined the National Football League in conducting the High School Coach of the Week program, which recognizes outstanding high school coaches and promotes youth football throughout New England. The 2018 season marks the eighth year that Tippett has taken the award on the road to visit the schools that benefit from the program.
"What a historical season by Coach Dubzinski and the North Andover football program," Tippett said. "Congratulations to the Scarlet Knights on a tough Super Bowl win over King Philip to finish their perfect season and win a state title."
The New England Patriots Foundation is the non-profit through which the Patriots support charitable and philanthropic organizations throughout New England. This support comes in the form of direct grants, in-kind donations and player appearances. The foundation assists a variety of charitable organizations and programs throughout New England by supporting their educational, family and health initiatives.