St. John's Eagles Football '19

Sat, Nov 16, 2019 12:00 PM @ Central Catholic
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
St. John's 0 7 0 7 14
Central Catholic 0 0 0 0 0

Injury-depleted Central falls to St. John’s in North title game

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Saturday, November, 16 By David Willis
Staff writer

LAWRENCE — For the second straight season, Central Catholic could not find an answer for St. John’s Prep with a trip to the state title game on the line.
The top-seeded Raiders, forced to play the second half without injured star QB Ayden Pereira, were limited to just 66 yards of total offense, falling to the No. 2 seed Eagles 14-0 in the Division 1 North championship game.
“It was a tough one,” said Central head coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “That’s a very good Prep team. I’m proud of my team. The defense played well, and it hurt not having our QB. It’s tough to lose a game at this point in the season.”
Both losses for Central Catholic (8-2) this fall came against St. John’s (9-1). The Prep also beat the Raiders 21-0 last fall in the North title game, on the way to winning the Division 1 state championship.
Central’s potent offense — which entered Saturday averaging 38.6 points per game  — was dealt a massive blow with the loss of their budding superstar sophomore quarterback.
Pereira attempted to play Saturday with a separated right, throwing shoulder suffered in last week’s win over Everett. 

The Eagle-Tribune area’s leader in passing yards (1,587) and passing TDs (20) started for Central, but was clearly slowed by the injury,
which forced him to leave the game in the second half.
“Our QB played with a really rough injury,” said Adamopoulos. “He gave it a whirl and played very tough.”
Central opened fast, marching to the Prep 14-yard line on its first possession of the game, before the drive stalled. The Raiders drove to the Eagles’ 32-yard line two possessions later, but turned the ball over on downs.
A drive after that, Central’s Dom Tritto intercepted a pass and moved it into Prep territory. But Central was again stopped.
“We had some good field position early, because our defense was playing their butts off,” said Adamopoulos. “But we couldn’t take advantage.”
Central’s defense dominated early, limiting the Prep to just two first downs and 53 total yards, including no pass completions, on its first six possessions of the game.

But the Eagles grabbed the lead with 1:34 left until halftime, on a 5-yard touchdown by Pat Nistl. Central responded quickly when Tritto returned the following kickoff to the Prep 30, but the Raiders could not take advantage.
In need of a spark, Central seemed to find it when Nick Donatio intercepted a pass in the end zone to squash the Prep’s first drive of the second half. But the Raiders again turned the ball over on downs.
The Eagles then turned the game over to its rushing attack to close out the victory.
“We couldn’t throw the ball, so we turned to our run game to grind it out,” said Prep head coach Brian St. Pierre. “It just became a slug fest, and we were bigger and tougher. We wanted to hold the ball and tire them out. We called the same play (halfback dive) 30-plus times, and they couldn’t stop it.”
St. John’s delivered a 15-play drive that ate approximately eight minutes off the clock and ended with a Matt Crowley QB sneak touchdown. The Eagles then forced Central to punt, and needed eight run plays to finish off the clock and earn a second straight state title game berth.
Leading the Central defense were Dom Pedi (10 tackles), Brendan Cesati (10 tackles) and Michael Finneran (8 tackles), who also played quarterback in the second half.
Haverhill’s Matt Duchemin had three pass breakups for St. John’s.
Central Catholic will now turn its attention to Thanksgiving, when it takes on Lawrence High (2-8).
“We have one game left to play, and we’ll get after that one,” said Adamopoulos. “We will take a few days, regroup, and focus on Lawrence.”

Game Statistics:


Second Quarter

SJP — Pat Nistl 5 run (Liam Fabbri kick), 1:34

Fourth Quarter

SJP — Matt Crowley 3 run (Fabbri kick), 8:30



RUSHING: Central Catholic (23-46) — Mark Kassis 11-50, Ayden Pereira 1-(-6), Michael Brown 2-0, Matthias Latham 1-2, Michael Finneran 8-0; St. John's Prep (47-) —James Guy 33-127, Matt Crowley 4-7, Nick Masterson 1-3, Pat Nistl 9-46

PASSING: Central Catholic — Pereira 2-18-1, 7, Finneran 1-3-0, 13; St. John's — Crowley 2-12-2, 15

RECEIVING: Central Catholic — Connor Finneran 1-13, Nate Hebert 1-5, Latham 1-3; St. John's — Jackson Delaney 1-12, Masterson 1-3 

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