Boston High School: James Fagan

Prep's Moore: 'My time here was a grind'

February, 6, 2013
DANVERS, Mass. -– St. John’s Prep’s National Letter of Intent ceremony this afternoon was a time for special celebration, complete with rounds of photo-op's. But for the Eagles' emotional leader, Alex Moore, it was also bittersweet.

Moore gathered with fellow seniors Lucas Bavaro (Dartmouth), Conor Powers (Hamilton), Tucker Mathers (Tufts), Anthony Bongiorno (Amherst), FJ Murphy (Endicott) and James Fagan (Bates) in a Xavier Hall boardroom for pictures.

For the pictures, each player had one last opportunity to put on their Prep jersey. Afterwards, Moore couldn’t help but hide his feelings.

“Taking off that jersey in there just now was kind of sad, that will be the last time I take off that blue jersey,” he said. “Even just the smell of them, and all the memories that go along with them. For the duration of my time here it was a grind, and it’s another big step for me by going to college -— I have to be prepared for that."

Moore, the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year and ESPN Boston Mr. Football Award winner, led Prep to an 11-1 record and an Eastern Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl championship. He is one of the most decorated athletes to come out of St. John’s Prep, going out with a bang by averaging just under eight yards per carry at running back and totaling 67 tackles at safety this season. He recently committed to play football at the University of Pennsylvania, a member of the Ivy League.

An outstanding student, Moore has been sure to listen to advice that past Prep football players have given him and his teammates about enjoying the school and coach Jim O’Leary while they can.

“The seniors came back and told us that you don’t really appreciate the Prep until you go until college and you actually see how much farther along you are than other people in college,” Moore said.

“But the thing is, I’m going to University of Pennsylvania, so a lot of people there are going to have the education that I have. I still have to work hard with everything I do. I’m just looking forward to going out, competing and doing my best.”

The talented two-way player showed his humbleness, having little to say about his awards and accolades and how they may build up his hype going into college.

“I don’t really think about it, it’s a great honor being the state’s player of the year," he said. "But I don’t think I have anything to prove, I think if I did have something to prove I would go in there and just do my best to prove it. But I’m not going into it trying to prove anything. I know what I can do as a player.”

The Prep seniors are a tight-knit group, as seen with the amount of congratulatory handshakes and good-hearted ribbing that they gave each other during the ceremony. O’Leary even got in on the act too, moving each of his eight committed seniors around until they were perfectly in place for a picture. It’s a moment that Moore hinted he will miss.

“Today means a lot, we’ve come a long way, and for it to end like this—with all these commitments to these great schools. The hard work that we all put in all paid off, I’m just glad we’re all able to go to a college that we all love.”

Recap: No. 3 St. John's Prep 21, BC High 16

November, 10, 2012

DANVERS, Mass. -– The stage is now set for yet another Thanksgiving Day game between St. John’s Prep and Xaverian to see who will represent the Catholic Conference in the Division 1 playoffs.

Prep (9-1, 3-0) took care of business on Saturday afternoon’s Senior Day as they defeated a motivated and resilient BC High team 21-16. They will face their archrivals Xaverian (4-6, 3-0) for the outright Catholic Conference title.

“We knew that they were back and they were healthy and that they are one of the best teams in the state,” St. John’s Prep head coach Jim O’Leary said of BC High.

BC High struck first in the opening quarter as senior kicker Jackson Bockhorst knocked home a 37-yard field goal with 6:14 on the clock.

With the BC High defense not giving an inch and the St. John’s Prep defense playing just as stingy, early yards and first downs were tough to come by.

The play of the game occurred in the second quarter and would shift the momentum in St. John’s Prep’s favor as they held BC High on a Fourth-and-One attempt at the Prep 28 yard line.

“We came out slow and but that play certainly changed things for us,” O’Leary said.

After the hold, Prep fed star junior running back Johnny Thomas six times in a row for 72 yards, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown run.

After a three and out by BC High on the following series, Thomas carried the ball five more times in a row en route to his second touchdown run of the game from three yards out.

“Our defense really motivates are offense,” Thomas said. “We just feed off them.”

Thomas ran for a game high 172 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns. He also added two catches for 31 yards.

After a scoreless third quarter, BC High got the big play that they needed to get them back in the game. Senior quarterback Dan Collins would find wide receiver Tim Johnson for a 52-yard touchdown strike with 6:41 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 14-9 after a failed conversion pass.

On the ensuing drive, Prep used a steady dose of Thomas and Moore as they drove 74 yards in five minutes with Moore finishing off the drive by scoring from four yards out to give St. John’s Prep a 21-9 lead with 1:21 reaming.

“We looked at each other in the huddle and we knew we had to dig deep,” Moore said. “We did not want to leave it on the table so we focused and executed”

BC High would not give in after Moore’s score as Collins would lead them down field and find Skelly Enabuele from 17 yards out with 2.1 seconds remaining before the horn sounded on the following kickoff to end the game.

In the Prep Trenches: The St. John’s Prep offensive line has done it game in and game out this season, led by senior captain and center James Fagan.

The remainder of the Prep line is made up of underclassmen. They include junior left tackle Sean Hoey, junior left guard Kent Blaeser, junior right guard Dominic Hooven, and sophomore right tackle Jacob Palmer.

On the defensive side of the ball the Eagles front seven played well led by junior middle linebacker Sean Smerczynski (12 tackles), senior defensive end Tucker Mathers (eight Tackles, sack), and senior defensive end Chris Newton (two Sacks).

Turkey Day: Xaverian has now won three games in a row and will host this year’s annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game.

Xaverian has struggled out of league play this season but after defeating Catholic Memorial on Friday 17-7 and BC High last week, 21-17, the match-up should provide a competitive and dramatic ending to the 2012 Catholic Conference season.

“I do not think people understand enough the strength of schedule that we play, BC High plays and Xaverian plays,” O’Leary said. “It is a dog fight. Records do not matter right now. We are 3-0, Xaverian is 3-0 and whoever wins on Thanksgiving goes to the playoffs.”

Scrimmage slants: Prep vs. Haverhill

August, 30, 2012
DANVERS, Mass. – A master and his disciple squared off Wednesday at St. John’s Prep as the Eagles and Haverhill got together for an afternoon scrimmage.

Here are a couple of parting thoughts from the day’s action:

The Hillies, led by former Prep standout Tim O’Connor who played under Prep head coach Jim O’Leary, although unranked in the preseason, will be a team to watch in the Merrimack Valley Small this year. They presented some matchup problems for Prep on defense, working out of a pistol spread formation.

Once a program on the verge of oblivion, O’Connor’s helped turn it around in a hurry, with good numbers and a crop of athletes. The Hillies are led by Tommy Morgan, a long and lanky quarterback who showcased a good throwing motion while set in the pocket Wednesday, along with fine footwork. Running back Chance Brady is a downhill runner who provides an unexpected punch out of the spread look.

One worth watching closely this season will be sophomore wide receiver Jordan Javier. The Lynn English transfer will provide matchup problems to many this season with a 6-foot-2 frame and speed to boot. Javier made several high degree of difficulty catches over Prep defenders and will be a force throughout the season.

O’Leary admitted Haverhill was a good tune-up for the Eagles’ impending game with Dracut, a similar squad out of the Merrimack Valley Small. While Prep was game for the challenge, there was still room for improvement in O’Leary’s mind.

“We’re ahead of where we were last year. We were coming off a Super Bowl season, with an experienced, veteran team, and then we had to rebuild a little bit. We certainly had the pieces with three-year starters like Lucas [Bavaro], Alex [Moore] and Johnny [Thomas] and Gerry [Kahari], those guys have been here through that, but we took our lumps along the way.”

The Eagles got several big plays in the scrimmage from some of their veterans.

Bavaro started strong, picking off a Hillies pass on the first set. The physical safety read the quarterback’s eye, undercutting an out route and rumbling the other way for a pick-six. The Eagles also got a consistent pass rush from Tucker Mather, who disrupted several plays from his defensive end position.

Another thing to watch at Prep for the upcoming season will be the work of the offensive line. While young, the line is big and has accrued some playing time during last year. Working in front of talented backs like Moore and Thomas, the Eagles’ O-line will be the fulcrum to a successful season in the Catholic Conference.

“James Fagan is the only senior we have on the line,” O’Leary said. “Now, a lot of those guys played last year as sophomores or even freshmen last year, but they’re coming along. They have good size, they have good athleticism, they run well.”