DANVERS, Mass. -– The stage is now set for yet another Thanksgiving Day game between St. John’s Prep and Xaverian to see who will represent the Catholic Conference in the Division 1 playoffs.
Prep (9-1, 3-0) took care of business on Saturday afternoon’s Senior Day as they defeated a motivated and resilient BC High team 21-16. They will face their archrivals Xaverian (4-6, 3-0) for the outright Catholic Conference title.
“We knew that they were back and they were healthy and that they are one of the best teams in the state,” St. John’s Prep head coach Jim O’Leary said of BC High.
BC High struck first in the opening quarter as senior kicker Jackson Bockhorst knocked home a 37-yard field goal with 6:14 on the clock.
With the BC High defense not giving an inch and the St. John’s Prep defense playing just as stingy, early yards and first downs were tough to come by.
The play of the game occurred in the second quarter and would shift the momentum in St. John’s Prep’s favor as they held BC High on a Fourth-and-One attempt at the Prep 28 yard line.
“We came out slow and but that play certainly changed things for us,” O’Leary said.
After the hold, Prep fed star junior running back Johnny Thomas six times in a row for 72 yards, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown run.
After a three and out by BC High on the following series, Thomas carried the ball five more times in a row en route to his second touchdown run of the game from three yards out.
“Our defense really motivates are offense,” Thomas said. “We just feed off them.”
Thomas ran for a game high 172 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns. He also added two catches for 31 yards.
After a scoreless third quarter, BC High got the big play that they needed to get them back in the game. Senior quarterback Dan Collins would find wide receiver Tim Johnson for a 52-yard touchdown strike with 6:41 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 14-9 after a failed conversion pass.
On the ensuing drive, Prep used a steady dose of Thomas and Moore as they drove 74 yards in five minutes with Moore finishing off the drive by scoring from four yards out to give St. John’s Prep a 21-9 lead with 1:21 reaming.
“We looked at each other in the huddle and we knew we had to dig deep,” Moore said. “We did not want to leave it on the table so we focused and executed”
BC High would not give in after Moore’s score as Collins would lead them down field and find Skelly Enabuele from 17 yards out with 2.1 seconds remaining before the horn sounded on the following kickoff to end the game.
In the Prep Trenches: The St. John’s Prep offensive line has done it game in and game out this season, led by senior captain and center James Fagan.
The remainder of the Prep line is made up of underclassmen. They include junior left tackle Sean Hoey, junior left guard Kent Blaeser, junior right guard Dominic Hooven, and sophomore right tackle Jacob Palmer.
On the defensive side of the ball the Eagles front seven played well led by junior middle linebacker Sean Smerczynski (12 tackles), senior defensive end Tucker Mathers (eight Tackles, sack), and senior defensive end Chris Newton (two Sacks).
Turkey Day: Xaverian has now won three games in a row and will host this year’s annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game.
Xaverian has struggled out of league play this season but after defeating Catholic Memorial on Friday 17-7 and BC High last week, 21-17, the match-up should provide a competitive and dramatic ending to the 2012 Catholic Conference season.
“I do not think people understand enough the strength of schedule that we play, BC High plays and Xaverian plays,” O’Leary said. “It is a dog fight. Records do not matter right now. We are 3-0, Xaverian is 3-0 and whoever wins on Thanksgiving goes to the playoffs.”