WEST ROXBURY, Mass. -- Following last week's season-opening loss to Milton Academy, St. Sebastian's knew one slipped through its fingers — due, in part, to some costly turnovers which led to their demise.
On Saturday, the Arrows saw things from a different perspective — bearing witness to advantages one can have when they are on the receiving end of turnovers. Roxbury Latin was the gracious gift giver, coughing up the ball on its first three possessions. That led to three touchdowns for the Arrows as they went on to roll, 37-7, in an ISL contest held at Schoolhouse Field.
Still stinging from Milton Academy defeat, St. Sebastian's, who finished 9-0 a year ago and took home the Arthur Valicenti Bowl trophy, set a precedent all week that its season begins now.
Such attitude appeared to work. The Arrows (1-1) proved highly-effective on both sides of the ball against the Foxes. They limited Roxbury Latin's offense to 153 yards, just 49 in the opening half. Offensively, they finished with 290 yards — much of that coming from its strong ground attack consisting of Connor Strachan, Blake Gallagher and Edosa Onaiwu.
"Last week, we made three big mistakes and it costs us," Arrows longtime coach Bob Souza said. "This time, Roxbury Latin made the mistakes. We did a lot of good things against Milton and our kids knew it. I told the kids this league is still up for grabs and we still have our destiny under our control. I think we'll be in the hunt for a title throughout the year."
After shutting out St. Paul's last week, the Foxes (1-1) were feeling good about their chances entering this one. But confidence suddenly turned to panic after a pair of miscues in the opening minutes gave the Arrows a short field to work with.
The first mistake came after punter John Baron couldn't handle the snap, losing control of the ball that was recovered by Miles Hunter, allowing St. Sebastian's to set up shop on the Roxbury Latin 20. Four plays later, Strachan (52 yards on 8 carries) scored from a yard out giving the Arrows a 7-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Foxes returner Parker Kent failed to field the ball cleanly, allowing an alert John McNamara to pounce on it.
Standing the at the Foxes' 15-yard line, St. Sebastian's needed only one play to go up by two scores as Strachan busted through for the score with 4:11 still left in the initial quarter.
"We knew coming off our loss last week that we needed to be firing for this game," said Strachan, a Boston College commit. "We have a bunch of kids on this team playing both ways so we need to go heavy in the first half like we did today and set the pace for ourselves."
The two turnovers left Roxbury Latin deflated, as it could never get anything going thereafter. The Foxes’ run game was held in check throughout and quarterback Peter Cahill (8-of-16, 91 yards, 1 TD) was under constant pressure throughout by the Arrows' massive front line.
Things didn't get much better for Roxbury Latin to start the second quarter. Cahill was picked off by Strachan, which led to a 74-yard, 11-play drive culminated in Matt Daniel hauling in a 27-yard scoring pass from quarterback Geoff Wade and go up by 20.
"We told the kids all week leading up to this game that we needed to start fast," said Souza, who was inducted into the Massachusetts High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010. "We can't let up and not give Roxbury Latin any kind of an opportunity to gain momentum. Now we just need to build on this win and continue to get better."
With under two minutes remaining before the half, St. Sebastian's offense was back at it. Following a Foxes punt, the Arrows drove 65 yards behind Gallagher (9 carries, 86 yards) and Onaiwu (64 yards on 10 rushes) before Strachan was given the ball from the 1-yard line and dove across for his third touchdown to send St. Sebastian's into the break well in-command at 27-0.
"Anytime the defense can come out and do what they did and put the offense in good positions to score that's huge," said Wade. "We aren't looking to gain 500 yards a game, we just want to put the ball into the end zone."
With this contest in his control, Souza began substituting other players in. But the Arrows never lost a beat. Running back James Fiore scored on a 3-yard run to begin St. Sebastian's first drive of the second half, pushing the margin to 34 points.
The Arrows added three more early in the fourth on Kevin Ginns' 27 yard field goal.
Roxbury Latin avoided the shutout in the closing minutes as Cahill connected with receiver Sean Lowrie in the back corner of the end zone.
"That's a tough team to come back against," Foxes coach Pat Ross said. "I dreaded all week in hoping we wouldn't give up something quick to them but after our first one things began to snowball. But our guys never quit and fought the entire game. We know we aren't as big as St. Sebastian's and we knew we needed to play near-perfect football against them and unfortunately it didn't work out."