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FOXBORO In a stadium that routinely seats well over 68,000 ravenous football fans, it was a dozen high school football teams in the spotlight Tuesday morning.

Captains and coaches from all 12 teams that will participate in Saturday’s Super Bowl contests were all smiles while wandering the turf of Gillette Stadium following the MIAA’s Champions Breakfast. Among those taking in the sights and sounds in the home of the New England Patriots were representatives from the undefeated squads from St. Bernard’s and Nashoba Regional, Central Mass. champions in Division 6 and Division 2, respectively.

“What a great day. You get to come in and meet everyone and kind of see the facility,” St. Bernard’s head coach Tom Bingham said. “The anticipation is starting to set in now.”

Captains from the competing teams were treated to breakfast at the stadium and had a chance to listen to Patriots great and Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett speak. The legendary linebacker implored the players and coaches to “enjoy the moment,” while also wishing them well.

“Its a great thing for any program to be down here and have this experience,” Nashoba head coach Jamie Tucker said. “I think the kids are enjoying it and the team is very excited for Saturday.”

On Tuesday morning, it was hard to find a player not grinning about being on the field at such a massive venue. You grow up watching the Patriots and Tom Brady throwing touchdowns on this field,” Nashoba senior captain Mike Curtin said.

Curtin’s classmate and fellow captain Jake Benjamin echoed the sentiment before noting that the Chieftains would be ready to play once game time rolls around.

“I grew up watching the Patriots, so it’s a little surreal being on the field,” Benjamin said. “I’m looking forward to Saturday. It’s going to be an amazing experience and we’ll be ready.”

“We know it’s going to be a great experience to come out and play in a place like this,” added St. Bernard’s quarterback Cooper Bigelow. “It’s going to be a great experience. We’re going to go out and have fun and hopefully come away with a win.”

The 11 0 Bernardians will square off with Mashpee the Southern Mass.

Home and away teams were determined at the end of the breakfast, with St. Bernard’s winning a coin toss to be the home team in its game, while Nashoba will play as the visitor in the evening.

And while in the coming days the focus will again return to game planning and executing, Tuesday morning was for celebrating reaching the state title game no small feat in itself.

“Today has been great. This is really breathtaking,” Bernardian senior Sean Laflamme said while standing on the turf of Gillette Stadium. “It’s the stuff you dream of.”

Curtin, who has been a key part of a Chieftain defense that has won on defensive stands at the end of both the Central Mass. semifinal and final, knows his team is in for a tough game against a high powered, 11 1 Reading Rockets team,
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but playing as a unit helps Nashoba on the defensive side of the ball.

“I know them on film. They’ve got great weapons and a great offensive line,” he said. “On defense, we preach team defense. We want to get all 11 hats on the football.”

Tucker believes that his team will be ready once the game kicks off. Having won all 12 games they’ve played this season, he says the Chieftains are aware of what they’re playing for, but won’t be rattled.

“We’ve gone out to Western Mass. and played and had other big games, but this is going to be a little bit different experience,” the coach said. “I think our kids do a good job of understanding the moment and playing the game at hand.

“It’s going to be different, but I think it’s going to be a really cool experience for our kids. But once you get out there and start playing, it’s just like any other game.”

For the Bernardians, the challenge will be slowing down Mashpee running back DeShaun Dias, who has rushed for more than 2,000 yards for the Falcons.

“They’re good up front, they’re big and physical,” Bingham said. “(DeShaun) Dias has over 2,000 yards and you don’t have to say much more than that. It’s a good football team.”

“The offense does its thing, but we go out and do our thing on the defensive side of the ball, too,” Laflamme said.

All games will be broadcast on television on Comcast SportsNet New England and on the radio on 98.5 FM, the Sports Hub. Tickets to the contests cost $17 for adults and $14 for students, with the price including parking and tickets being good for all six games on Saturday.
the north face womens jackets All smiles at Gillette for Nashoba