ANDOVER, Mass. -– Even though his team had just posted a playoff victory, Cardinal Spellman coach Ron St. George was not a happy man following Tuesday night's 31-7 triumph over Shawsheen Valley.
The reason? Senior running back/linebacker Pat Hinkley, one of four team captains, suffered a shoulder injury while making a tackle late in the game and might not be available for Saturday's Super Bowl.
“There's a lot of concern because one of our best all-around football players right now ... his status for the game is in question,” St. George said. “If there's any way a kid can be back Pat Hinkley will be the kid who can do it. He's worked so hard.
“I feel terrible about it. I feel bad for the team and I feel bad for Pat mostly. We gotta regroup in a short amount of time.”
All Hinkley did Tuesday night was run for two touchdowns, catch a touchdown pass and lead Cardinal Spellman in solo tackes (five). He scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter, on a 15-yard run in the second quarter and on a 15-yard reception early in the fourth. He entered the game with 18 touchdowns this season.
“He doesn't go down easy,” St. George said.
Spellman's other touchdown came on a 29-yard run by Scott O'Brien with 1:01 left in the first half.
The victory raised Cardinal Spellman's record to 12-0. The Cardinals will face Mashpee (12-0) in the Eastern Mass. Division 4 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. Saturday's opening kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Shawsheen's only score came on a 9-yard touchdown run by Brian Ward with 2:06 to play. The Rams completed their season with a 6-5 record.
“I thought our effort was great,” Shawsheen coach Al Costabile said. “They made the most out of their opportunities [early]. It gave them the lead and allowed them to dictate play the way they wanted to.”
Shawsheen put the ball in the air 31 times. Starting quarterback Mike O'Hearn completed 10 of 29 passes for 76 yards.
The Rams turned the ball over four times (three interceptions). Spellman allowed an average of 5.6 points per game through its first 11 contests.
“We don't usually throw the ball that much, but they're a real tough team to run on,” Costabile said. “That was the game plan.”
Spellman had a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter, but didn't have to work very hard for its points.
A bad snap from punt formation gave Spellman the ball on Shawsheen's 6-yard line and set up Spellman's first touchdown. Three plays later Hinkley scored the game's first touchdown on a 1-yard run.
Then Dan Kustka intercepted an O'Hearn pass late in the quarter. Spellman took over on the Shawsheen 11-yard line and added to its lead when Ben Cowan made a 22-yard field goal.
“We were fortunate early,” St. George said. “We didn't create those points. They turned the ball over and we turned it into points. At any level of football you can't turn the ball over, especially when the other team cashes it in for points.”
Shawsheen was held to three first downs in the first half, and one of those came on a pass interference penalty.
The Rams generated 30 yards of offense on 28 plays in the half. Shawsheen failed to gain any yards on four of its seven possessions, and turned the ball over twice (both interceptions).
Spellman had a 24-0 lead entering the fourth quarter.
CARDINAL SPELLMAN 31, SHAWSHEEN 7
Shawsheen (6-5 ) 0 0 0 7 – 7
Cardinal Spellman (12-0) 7 17 0 7 – 31
CS – Pat Hinkley 1 run (Ben Cowan kick), 3:19.
CS – FG Cowan 22, 8:26.
CS – Hinkley 15 run (Cowan kick), 5:53.
CS – Scott O'Brien 29 run (Cowan kick), 1:01.
CS – Hinkley 15 pass from Tim Burke (Cowan kick), 9:22.
Sha – Brian Ward 49 run (DeVonn Pratt kick), 2:06.