St. John's Eagles Football '07

Masco to take on St. John's Prep in football this fall

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Thursday, January, 31 By Phil Stacey
Sports editor

A clash of North Shore high school football powers will take place on the opening weekend of the high school football season this fall when the two-time defending Cape Ann League champions from Masconomet Regional travel to St. John's Prep to face the area's only Division 1 program.

"We'll take it easy on them," joked Masconomet coach Jim Pugh.

"Seriously, our kids are really excited about this opportunity. To have the chance to play a team with the reputation, tradition and history that St. John's Prep has is tough to beat."

The contest will be played at Cronin Field in Danvers on the Prep campus on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 1:30 p.m. It will be the season opener for both clubs.

"We're excited for this one, too," said Prep head coach and athletic director Jim O'Leary. "It's a great local game with a team from practically right up the street from us. It should draw a lot of interest from both schools and their communities."

The game works out well for both the Chieftains and the Eagles, each of whom were looking to fill open dates in their schedule.

St. John's Prep needed an opponent to fill the void left by Billerica, which cannot play the Eagles this fall because of the Merrimack Valley League's rotating schedule. Masconomet needed four non-league opponents, since the Cape Ann League voted there doesn't have to be any mandated "crossover" games between the Large and Small divisions.

"I called Jimmy about playing us, and he was very open to the idea," said O'Leary, whose team has played local clubs such as Danvers and Bishop Fenwick in the past and currently also plays Peabody High.

Masconomet isn't looking to go to St. John's and be simply fodder for the home team, either. With all-stars such as quarterback Chris Splinter and tailback Evan Bunker back for the Chieftains next fall, they're prepared to fight the Eagles for four full quarters.

"The bottom line is that we're going there to win," said Pugh.

Following this game, Masconomet will play at Oliver Ames before hosting another non-league newcomer to their schedule, powerful Lincoln-Sudbury, on Sept. 26. The Chieftains will host Bishop Fenwick and Lawrence the following two weeks, have a bye week, then round out their season with Triton, Wilmington, Pentucket, Ipswich (in a non-league game) and finally North Andover on Thanksgiving. They are looking to fill one more open slot for a game the weekend of Sept. 18-19.

This game will be the first time that St. John's Prep has played a Cape Ann League opponent during the regular season. The Eagles played Amesbury from 1957-61, but the Indians were a member of the Northeastern Conference at that time. Also, the Prep used to regularly scrimmage Ipswich during Jack Welch's long tenure with the Tigers, but never played them during the regular season.

The 2008 Prep schedule has them playing Peabody and Central Catholic at home following their opener with Masconomet. Road games at Brockton, Everett and Dracut follow, then a home game with St. John's of Shrewsbury. Following a bye week, they'll open their Catholic Conference schedule at home against Catholic Memorial before finishing the year with road games at Malden Catholic, B.C. High and Xaverian.

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