Boston High School: John Warner

No. 7 Xaverian playing role of...underdog?

September, 2, 2011
Xaverian went into Thanksgiving last year with a chance to win the Catholic Conference for the second straight season to defend their Division 1 EMass Super Bowl crown.

Then St. John’s Prep came to the Hawk Bowl and pushed Xaverian around up and down the field, throwing just one pass on a spiked ball, to the tune of a 21-12 victory that sent the hosts home to watch their heated rival go to Gillette Stadium instead of them.

This year, the target is not placed squarely on the back of the Hawks, who check in behind fellow Catholic Conference members BC High and Catholic Memorial as the No. 7 team in the state. With the depth and talent in the Catholic Conference this year though, the Hawks could finish anywhere from first to fourth.

“The Catholic Conference is as strong as it’s been in 10 years,” said one rival assistant coach during the off-season.

That same coach said, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ‘X’ shock people (and win the Division 1 Super Bowl).”

Given Xaverian’s history, with four Super Bowl titles in the 1990s under coach Charlie Stevenson and another in 2009, that would hardly be a shock. But for the first time in at least 25 years, the top two favorites heading into the preseason for Catholic Conference play include neither Xaverian or St. John’s Prep.

That is something that Stevenson is smiling about as his team is up at camp in New Hampshire preparing to “shock people.”

The Hawks may not be coming into this season as the favorites, but that doesn’t mean the target on their backs have gone anywhere.

This year, that target will be in the crosshairs of non-league teams like preseason No. 5 Brockton in Week 3, a 23-20 double-overtime loser to the Hawks at Clapboardtree Street a year ago; No. 2 Duxbury, a Division 2 juggernaut capable of playing with anyone and in the state; Bridgewater-Raynham, the No. 8 team in the state and owners of a victory over Xaverian last year; and No. 9 St. John’s of Shrewsbury, a Central Massachusetts powerhouse that has beaten Xaverian just once in the modern era but come closer and closer in the last several years to the point where it is more of a rivalry.

Then, of course, the final three games of the season bring out the same quote by every coach in that league: “every game is a championship game.”

For Xaverian, the Hawks travel to BC High, host Catholic Memorial, then visit the Prep with a chance to earn a little payback in Danvers.

Stevenson knows that stretch isn’t going to be easy to win. But, deep down, everyone knows if the Hawks do, it’s not going to come as a “shock” to anyone.

Coach: Charlie Stevenson (18th season, 151-47-3)
Last Year: 8-3
Key returnees: Chris Calvanese, QB, Sr. (14 passing touchdowns, 3 rushing); Ryan Farrell, WR/S, Sr.; Kevin Painten, OL/DT, Sr.; Colby Enegren, FB/DE, Sr.; John Warner, TE, Sr.; Andrew Malin, OL, Sr.; Hunter Taute, MLB/FB, Jr.; Matt Stapleton, DE, Jr.; Maurice Hurst Jr., DT/FB, Jr.; Ray Gobbi, OL, Jr.
Strengths: Quarterback, Offensive line, Defensive line, Fullback
Weaknesses: Inexperience at wide receiver, tailback, secondary and linebacker.
Outlook: Calvanese comes back for his second year as a starter and Stevenson will find ways to take advantage of both his considerable running and throwing talents. This is one of the better and more experienced offensive and defensive fronts that Xaverian has had, although the former doesn’t compare to the 2009 edition that powered the Hawks to the Division 1 Super Bowl. The defensive line though will be stout with the likes of Stapleton and Enegren at end and Painten and Hurst at tackle. Farrell has been injured and is out indefinitely, which is a huge loss on both sides of the ball. Without him, the Hawks have zero returning starters in the secondary, made worse by the fact that they lost two of the best cornerbacks in the state to graduation in Joe Colton (Avon Old Farms) and Nick McDaniels (Merrimack). Taute is a potential Division I prospect at either fullback or inside linebacker and will need to hold down the fort in a depleted linebacking corps. Colton’s loss at tailback is huge, as well, as Stevenson has nice young talent there but not at the level where Colton was a year ago. Whether or not this team can fill those holes will determine how well the Hawks do in the always-rugged Catholic Conference.

No. 13 Xaverian throws Pioneers for first loss

October, 30, 2010
SHREWSBURY, Mass. -– No. 2 St. John’s of Shrewsbury came into yesterday’s non-league game with No. 13 Xaverian averaging 41 points per game.

In the second half against the Hawks, though, the Pioneers didn’t manage a single point.

Spurred by that terrific defensive effort, Xaverian ended a two-game losing streak with a 20-16 win over the previously unbeaten Pioneers. The Hawks (6-2) now enter next week’s pivotal showdown with BC High with a little momentum.

"They've been scoring a lot of points, and I wasn't sure we'd be able to contain them as well as we did," Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said.

"They’re a good football team," St. John’s (7-1) coach John Andreoli said. "We want to play these kind of games. They’re going to go down to the wire and they’re going to be the type of game where the littlest thing can have a huge impact."

St. John’s led, 16-13, at the half, before a Nick McDaniels interception set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Xaverian’s Joe Colton (111 yards rushing). Jules Murphy’s extra point completed the scoring, but not before the Hawks twice turned the Pioneers over on downs in Xaverian territory, once in the third and once in the fourth. The second came when Ryan Farrell and Chris Tamasi tackled Cal verbal commit Richard Rodgers (101 yards receiving, but just 17 in the second half) two yards shy of the first. The Pioneers never seriously threatened again.

Chris Calvanese threw for 148 yards and two scores for the Hawks, as he looked in the direction of receiver Mike Muir (96 yards on eight catches) early and often. John Warner and Muir caught first-half touchdowns from Calvanese.

Rodgers kicked a 37-yard field goal and caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dan Light (141 yards passing, 103 rushing). Light’s 1-yard sneak with four minutes left in the first half helped give the Pioneers a 16-7 lead before Calavanese’s toss to Muir made it 16-13 going into the break.

Here are a few quick thoughts from what was a terrific high school football game between two of the best in the state:
  • Stevenson has a lot of confidence in Calvanese, and the junior signal-caller rewarded him with a solid all-around effort on a windy day. Calvanese completed 13-of-21 passes with one interception on a ball that was overthrown. That set up the Rodgers 27-yard touchdown reception, but other than that, Calvanese made smart decisions with the ball and put it in tight spaces when need be. You can’t really coach poise, but Calvanese has it, as the St. John’s defense hurried him into some sticky situations and he didn’t blink.
  • Xaverian just might have the best secondary in the state. The Hawks made two interceptions and allowed just one touchdown through the air to an offense that has been putting up video-game numbers against everyone else on its schedule. The combination of Colton and McDaniels at the corners is superb, and safeties like Farrell, a junior, and Muir, make it so difficult to go over the top against this team. There were several times that Light had all day to throw, and he eventually just escaped the pocket and tried to pick up yards because there was no one open. Against a team with a set of receivers like St. John’s has, that’s quite an accomplishment.
  • Is there a more underrated player in Central Massachusetts than Pioneers’ senior John Vassar? Probably not. Vassar only carried the ball four times for 37 yards, but that’s not where his biggest impact on the game was. Vassar was everywhere on defense, just everywhere. He made two sacks and several other key tackles that prevented what would have been first downs. Listed at 5-feet, 10-inches tall and 200 pounds, Vassar is a thickly-built player who packs a wallop when he arrives at the ballcarrier. He may not be the most highly-recruited player, but wherever he plays at the next level, expect him to be a productive one. He’s just a pure, instinctive athlete who can do a lot of things well on a football field.
Xaverian (6-2) 7 6 7 0 -- 20
St. John's (S) (7-1) 9 7 0 0 -- 16

X - John Warner 9 pass from Chris Calvanese (Jules Murphy kick)

S - Richard Rodgers 27 FG

S - Rodgers 27 pass from Dan Light (kick failed)

S - Light 1 run (Rodgers kick)

X - Mike Muir 2 pass from Calvanese (kick failed)

X - Joe Colton 5 run (Murphy kick)