Thanksgiving Previews: Fenwick hopes to claim CCL title

David Cifuentes has emerged as the lead running back for Fenwick this season. (Item File Photo)

UPDATE: The St. Mary’s-Fenwick game has been rescheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m. This story has been updated to reflect the new time.

After being the Thanksgiving football version of “A Man Without a Country” for more than a decade, seeing St. Mary’s from across the 50-yard line Wednesday will do coach Dave Woods’ heart a lot of good.

The fact that the game will be for a Catholic Central League championship makes it even better.

“Anytime we play St. Mary’s in anything, it adds a little extra,” said Woods, on the eve ofWednesday’s game  at Donaldson Field against the Spartans. “But with a league title on the line, it adds extra implications.”

The fact that the value of winning a league title has been de-emphasized in terms of qualifying for the Super Bowl is of no consequence when it comes to playing the game.

“It’s two good programs, and whoever wins is going to be (Catholic Central League) champion,” Woods said. “It’s going to be fun.”

Fenwick has run the table in the CCL up to now, but that’s a bit deceiving. Austin Prep dropped out of the CCL Large and right now there are only five teams in the division. The Crusaders have beaten the three they’ve played — Williams, Spellman and Arlington Catholic — with St. Mary’s left. The Spartans lost to Williams. A St. Mary’s win would leave each team at 3-1 in the league, with the Spartans having the tiebreaker in head-to-head.

In the world of the CCL, the lord giveth and taketh away for Fenwick. The Crusaders celebrated the return in Week 4 of quarterback Cory Bright, who, in the half-season since, has thrown for 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns.

“That’s a season for most kids,” Woods said. “He’s been phenomenal.”

However, all-everything-else Keegan O’Connor broke his arm last Friday night against Ipswich, and that’ll be a tough loss for the Crusaders to absorb.

“He wants to (play),” said Woods, “but I don’t know. It might be too soon to talk about doing that. It’s a tough break. He’s a senior.”

Also playing their last games are Derek DelVecchio, George Fiskatoris, Ian Connor and Tommy McDonald. All six have been invaluable, Woods said.

Underclassmen who have emerged as key contributors are David Cifuentes and Joe Rivers.

“They’re our 1-2 punch at tailback,” said Woods. “David gets the ball more, but Joe scores about 20 percent of the time he touches the ball. We have to get him the ball more.”

The Crusaders went into the Division 6 playoffs at 6-1 with the fourth seed, and defeated Greater Lowell in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 1 Stoneham in the semis.

“Stoneham is a great team,” said Woods. “I think they could play with anyone from Division 3 on down. Maybe not a team like St. John’s Prep, but from 3 down, they can play.”

Fenwick tuned up for St. Mary’s with a win over Ipswich to enter Thanksgiving at 8-2. St. Mary’s, not counting its state semifinal game with Cohasset, is 7-3.

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