BOSTON -- It sure wasn’t the cleanest of games, but BC High Coach Joe Gaff expressed how happy he was with his team nonetheless.
“We might have something special going here,” Gaff said to his team in the huddle following their 6-0 victory over seventh-ranked Brockton, a victory where his Eagles (2-2) held Brockton (2-2) to 112 yards from scrimmage and got several fourth-down stands.
The Eagles were the beneficiary of a dropped Brockton pass in the endzone in the first quarter, a play that would have given the Boxers the early lead they may very well have lasted the rest of the game. A scoreless game at halftime, the Eagles were in desperate need for a big play when Ismail Asongwed came up with a fumble recovery on a dropped fair catch by Brockton in the third quarter.
“Any time you have a close game, special teams plays a big part of the game," Gaff said. "We work very hard at our special teams around here, that’s a huge part of it, and today it really helped us. The kickoff team deserves a lot of credit."
Brockton's Aaron LeClair was back to return the punt, called for a fair catch, but the ball bobbled out of his hands and rolled backwards towards the Brockton end zone. Asongwed swooped in and picked up the fumble, returning it to the Boxers’ 15 yard line.
“I think [Asongwed] is an underrated player. His speed, his physicalness, he’s smart and studies the game -- he’s fast, and he plays the game pretty physical," Gaff said. "He’s really stepped up for us on coverage, we’ve put him on guys one-on-one tonight. But that punt coverage was huge tonight."
A delay of game call on BC High almost ruined their redzone opportunity before it really got started, but the Eagles were on the right end of a pass interference call in the end zone on third and 12. After getting the ball on the Brockton 2, senior captain Steve DiCienzo punched it in for the only touchdown of the game. After a bobbled snap, the score was 6-0 Eagles late in the third quarter.
Brockton, as they almost always do in close games, made a drive to the redzone to attempt a fourth quarter comeback. The Boxers got the ball all the way to the BC High 11, but the Eagles’ defensive line came up with a huge stop on 4th and 1 to put themselves back in the driver’s seat.
BC High had to punt only moments later, but the Boxers were unable to move the ball after another dropped punt return held them to their own eight yardline with under a minute to go.
It was two great programs tonight. We’re still young, we’re trying to find some things to work. It was just a great defensive battle back and forth. We made a couple mental mistakes that almost killed us, almost hurt us real bad, but you have to love the kids at BC High, they work hard all day in the classroom and then they come here and give us everything they have,” Gaff said following his heartfelt postgame speech to his players.
The Eagles are playing good football, and are finally at full strength, at just the right time—they’ll start their conference slate next week against Malden Catholic.
As shown tonight, the comeback of previously injured players like lineman Chris Solis, defensive end Connor Walsh, and linebacker Shane Libby gave the Eagles just the boost they needed to stop a tough Brockton rushing attack. A team who returned just two starters on each side of the ball, according to Gaff, continue to show they’re getting better every week -- which is all the motivation Gaff and his young Eagles will need going into conference play.
“I don’t think there’s ever been an ugly win in my life, they’re always hard to come by…these kids at BC High are unbelievable—wins are great, losses are tough, but we’re here to help these kids and they reward us every day by giving everything they have.”