WEST ROXBURY, Mass. -- Two weeks ago, No. 6 Xaverian’s record was stained after two consecutive losses to out-of-conference opponents Everett and Bridgewater-Raynham.
At halftime on Friday, the Hawks trailed 7-6 to Catholic Memorial, and looked as if they were going to give up a chance to play for the Catholic Conference title on Thanksgiving. But the Hawks were determined to stick to its balance to pull off the victory.
“I thought it was just a great team effort on our kids part, I’m really happy about it,” Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said. “Hopefully, now we will have our best game of the year on Thanksgiving Day.”
Now the Hawks have managed to diminish their seasons earlier imperfections, as they moved closer to an undefeated Catholic Conference record, with a 34-18 win over No. 25 CM on the road on Friday.
Hawks running back Joe Colton was the key to the win as he piled up 194 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.
“We did a lot of running in practice and just tried to stay balanced,” Colton said. “We have to run when it is called for.”
While some people wrote off the defending Division I Super Bowl Champions because of the blemishes earlier in the season, the Hawks did not let up on their dreams to make it out of a tough conference schedule.
Xaverian improved to 8-2 overall and 3-0 in the Catholic Conference, and handed CM -- a team that was once ranked as high as No. 7 in the ESPNBoston.com polls -- its fourth loss of the season.
The first half was a low-scoring affair and Xaverian got two field goals from kicker Jules Murphy.
“The first half we had two really great drives but just stalled out in the red zone, we didn’t -- for some reason -- click on our chances down there,” Stevenson said. “Fortunately for us, we have a good field goal guy and Jules [Murphy] got us six points out of that.”
“Everyone was really relaxed [at halftime], no one was screaming and yelling in the locker room,” Colton said. “We just knew what we had to do. It was quiet and we listened to the adjustments, came out, and just executed.”
While CM was still able to rack up 18 points on the Hawks, Xaverian was able to limit the effect of quarterback A.J. Doyle and his offensive weapons. Doyle completed 11 of 18 passes for 118 yards with one interception.
Armani Reeves, one of the premiere athletes in the state, caught five catches for 57 passes, but his effort was not enough for CM to squeeze out the upset. Knights’ running back William Earl also added to the offensive effort with 11 carries for 63 yards, but was slowed by Xaverian’s second-half adjustments.
“Second half I thought we came out and really dominated play,” Stevenson said. “…I just thought we made plays. Mike Muir had a big catch, and Joe [Colton] had a pick for us.”
The Hawks have now gathered steady momentum after three consecutive wins, and roll into Thanksgiving with the Catholic Conference title on the line. Last year Xaverian avoided a loss to St. John’s Prep by a touchdown, and this year figures to be more of the same.
“For us in the Catholic Conference, our Thanksgiving Day game is many times a winner takes all prize,” said Stevenson. “We’re prepared to play that game like we have before…so the two of us know what we need to do.
“We have all the respect in the world for the Prep, but we are prepared to play our best game of the year on Thanksgiving.”
X 3 3 15 13 -- 34
CM 0 7 3 8 -- 18
X - Jules Murphy 30 kick
X - Murphy 25 kick
C - Doyle 2 run (Tom Byrne kick)
X - Colton 15 run (conversion good)
C - Byrne 37 kick
X - Colton 62 run (Murphy kick)
X - Mike Muir 60 catch from Chris Calvanese (kick blocked)
X - Colton 4 run (Murphy kick)
C - Donovan Henry 5 run (conversion good)