DANVERS — When you’re an offensive lineman, you play a position that doesn’t often get the recognition it deserves. But that hasn’t stopped St. John’s tackle and Peabody native Mason Davis from keeping opposing defenses out of the Eagles’ backfield all season long.
“Linemen don’t get much recognition,” Davis, a second-year varsity player, said. “When we mess up, it’s a blame thing. The line is a focal point. In order for us to throw the ball or run the ball the line has to block. It’s kind of an honor to block for the skill positions but it comes with big responsibilities.”
Davis and his fellow linemates haven’t shied away from those responsibilities.
“I love our offensive line,” Davis said. “All our guys are great people and great players. Kevin Dewing’s a great leader. Cooper Smith’s a veteran. Will Moulton’s a really physical, tough player. Jack Murphy’s a great kid and he really knows how to play tackle. All these guys play really hard. We’re a great unit.”
The offensive line has emerged as a key piece to the puzzle that has led St. John’s to Saturday night’s (8) Division 1 state championship game at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s just crazy to me to think that we’re going to compete for a state championship,” Davis said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet for me. I think Friday it’ll sink in that I’m going to Gillette to play for a state championship with all my brothers. It’ll be a great opportunity and a great experience.”
Standing in St. John’s way is a Catholic Memorial team that fell to the Eagles back in Week 5. The Knights will be hungry to avenge that loss this time around, meaning execution will be important for the Eagles Saturday.
“We really have to execute,” said Davis. “That’s really what it comes down to. We have to play as a unit. When we play like a unit, we show what we can do, especially our defense. I think our offense and defense are both some of the best in the state. We know we have to make sacrifices for our teammates to play our best. We’re at our best when we play as a unit.”
A first-year varsity starter, Davis came into the season as a solid candidate to take over as the team’s starting left tackle. Davis won the job and has exceeded the coaching staff’s expectations since then.
“Mason’s a guy that played a bit as a sophomore,” Eagles coach Brian St. Pierre said. “We penciled him in at left tackle hoping he’d be solid and do the job. He’s been so much more than that. He’s played at a high level. He was nominated as a Catholic Conference all-star. He’s very reliable. He plays basketball and brings that level of athleticism, which is unique.”
As the season has takes its course, St. Pierre has watched Davis develop the characteristics of a “throwback player.” St. Pierre said Davis, along with his fellow linemates, welcome their roles in the trenches with open arms.
“They’re united by their bond as playing in the trenches and being the guys that do the dirty work,” St. Pierre said. “Mason’s a perfect example. He’s a throwback player. He’s reliable, quiet and coachable. He’s universally liked by both his teammates and coaches. As a junior, we get to have him back next year which we’re excited about.”
Saturday’s game at Gillette makes it two contests in a row for St. John’s at professional sports venues. The Eagles played Thanksgiving rival Xaverian last Wednesday at Fenway Park. Although St. John’s fell short in a 14-12 loss to the Hawks, Davis said he was grateful for the experience.
“We’re very blessed at St. John’s,” Davis said. “It’s a great school to go to. I’m very thankful for my parents. They’ve done a lot to allow me to come to St. John’s. School’s very important in my family.”
Things have gone well this week in practice as the Eagles aim to end their season on a memorable note. Davis and his teammates view Saturday’s game as a chance to showcase the work they’ve dedicated this year and they’re eager to make the most of it.
“Practice has been very competitive,” Davis said. “The line’s getting ready for all the stunts and everything Catholic Memorial does. That says a lot about the coaches and how much they dedicate to having us play to the best of our abilities.
“The first day of camp we talked about playing as a unit. We wanted to reach our goal which is a state championship. All the hard work we’ve had this season, all the 7 a.m. lifts, show how much we care. We’re hoping to send these seniors out and show how much pride we take in the game of football.”