HAVERHILL, Mass. –- Central Catholic left no doubt of who the better team was on Saturday afternoon at Trinity Stadium. Behind a stellar performance on the defensive side of the ball, the Red Raiders (2-0) dominated Haverhill (1-1) from start to finish, winning 40-0.
Central Catholic had a well-balanced offensive attack; each of their six touchdowns came from a different offensive player. Star senior D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie ran in a 17-yard touchdown early in the first quarter, Markus Edmunds tacked on another only minutes later when he broke loose for the 43-yard score.
“We have three guys who carry the ball, D’Andre ran well early when he had a great run for that touchdown, Mike Balsamo—who we also put at receiver is a good runner, and Markus Edmunds has become a good runner,” Central coach Chuck Adamapolous said. “We’ve got three guys who we can throw in there, so we try to give them breaks on offense because we really can’t rest them on defense.”
Quarterback Mike Milano (9-of-17, 84 yards, 2 TD) took over from there, tossing two touchdown passes in the second quarter to Ryan Etter and Cody Demers, respectively. Milano noticed a weakness in the Haverhill secondary, and on his first touchdown pass made a play-call accordingly from the line of scrimmage.
“I knew the receiver had height on the corner. I called it, I threw it up to him, he got up for it and made a tremendous catch,” Milano said.
After a Haverhill fumble on the imposing kickoff that was recovered by Central, Milano looked to the end zone once again.
“The receiver ran a nice route, caught it, and then the other receiver came up with a nice block, so he cut it back in and ran in,” Milano said.
Haverhill made a threat late in the second quarter thanks to a 30-yard run by sophomore running back Ian Kessell and a 27-yard pass from Shane Finn to receiver John Ramsdell—getting the Hillies all the way to Central’s three yardline. Then the Red Raiders’ defense came up huge with a goal line stand to preserve the shutout before halftime. The display of defense appeared demoralizing for a Haverhill squad who was trying to scrap to put points on the board.
“I’m happy obviously, they’re a good team coming off a win. I thought our run defense was outstanding and our secondary was good too,” Adamopolous said.
Central held Haverhill to a three-and-out to start the second half, and the Hillies’ fatigue on defense started to show thereafter as Milano kept the ball from 32 yards out and ran in a score to make it 34-0.
“Michael paid his dues last year starting as a sophomore. He’s a playmaker, he throws the ball, he runs the ball, and he has put in the time. He did spring track and winter track to get himself better for this. It’s paying off for him,” Adamopolous said.
On a pull read where Milano kept it himself, he broke out on the right side and broke a couple of tackle attempts before jumping into the endzone.
“It was just good blocking overall. Everybody looked at the running back and it was just good blocking. I was debating whether I should go for the pylon or just cut back in, and then I saw him upfield more so I made a read and just ran in,” said Milano.
Looking forward to Prep: Adamopolous had no problem motivating his squad for this MVC showdown. Despite the fact that they take on fifth-ranked St. John’s Prep next Friday night, there wasn’t a whole lot of fear that Central might overlook the Hillies.
“This was a big one, the kids were very up for this because we come here for a 7-on-7 league in the summer," he said. "We know how good they are, we know how hard they work. We have a lot of respect for their program, and they’re coming off an eight-win season. They’ve got some guys back on defense and we knew we couldn’t look over this game before next week. We got another big game next week.”
The Raiders’ confidence will be flying high going into next week following an outstanding performance against the Hillies. Milano, as he did on the field on Saturday afternoon, exuded confidence when the game with the Eagles next week was mentioned.
“Going up against the Prep, they’re a great team, but I think we have a good chance,” he said.
Areas of improvement: Milano ran the no-huddle offense with almost no trouble at all, and calling the plays at the line did a number in tiring Haverhill’s defense.
While Adomopolous was very pleased with his team’s effort in the blowout victory, he also explained that his squad still has some improvements to make in practice next week in leading up to a game with one of the most talented teams in the state.
“I think we could block better on offense, our guys up front," Adamopoulos said. "I think they’re getting better, but I still think we can improve there. I thought our wideouts did a good job blocking today when we ran some of our outside stuff, but our run blocking’s getting a little bit better. I’m sure there will be other things we have to improve on too.
“It’s a good win, I’m sure there will be things we’ll have to improve on for next week, but for where we are in the season it was good, it was a step forward for us.”