DANVERS — The St. John’s Prep football team grinded out a 28-0 win in it’s opener against Bridgewater-Raynham at Glatz Field Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles held on to a small 7-0 lead most of the day but found their footing with three fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“It’s a largely-new team and we looked like it early,” Eagles coach Brian St. Pierre said. “That’s a tough opener, (Bridgewater-Raynham) does such a good job. They just grinded, Dan Buron (head coach) does such a good job with that program. We worked our way through the first half. We got things squared away at halftime and I thought we played a great second half.”
Quarterback Matt Crowley (9-of-16 for 128 yards and two passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown) struggled at times but overall looked sharp to start the season. The running back duo of James Guy Jr. (17 carries, 85 yards) and Pat Nistl (eight carries, 62 yards, one touchdown) helped pace the offense while sophomore wide receiver Jackson Delaney (four catches, 74 yards and one touchdown) had a nice day.
“At one point we had two sophomores and a freshman at receiver,” St. Pierre said. “We’re super new, but there’s some talent there. Matt is really talented. He didn’t have his best day with the wind, all that stuff and new receivers. But he did a really good job working with our offense and running things. The offensive line got better as we went.”
But the St. John’s defense was the difference Saturday, highlighted by a great game from defensive end Collin Taylor and an interception from Joenel Aguero.
“If people don’t know who (Collin Taylor) is by now they’re going to find out,” St. Pierre said. “He’s a very difficult person to block. He’s special. We played really good defense, had some young people out there. There’s stuff to clean up like every year but I was really happy.
“I hope they’re ahead of the offense,” St. Pierre said of his defense. “That would be fine with me. Our defense keeps posting shutouts like (Saturday) that’s fine. We’ll figure it out on offense. I love what the defense did (Saturday).”
Both offenses moved the ball, but struggled to finish drives in the first quarter. In the second quarter a 46-yard pass from Crowley to Aguero helped get the Eagles started. Crowley finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Matt Duchemin and the Eagles went ahead 7-0 after an extra point from Nolan Philpott.
The Trojans put together a nice drive next but had to settle for a field goal attempt that was blocked to keep the Eagles’ shutout in tact.
Both offenses came out of the break slow before St. John’s turned Aguero’s interception into a touchdown drive. Crowley ran in a 1-yard quarterback sneak and Philpott tacked on the extra point to put the Eagles ahead 14-0.
A Trojans three-and-out on the next drive set the Eagles up with a short field and they didn’t take long to find the endzone. Crowley connected with Delaney for a 36-yard touchdown to stretch the St. John’s lead to 21-0.
Later in the fourth quarter Nistl helped ice the game with a 6-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a commanding 28-0 lead.
“I think we started to wear on them physically a little bit,” St. Pierre said. “(Buron) prides his program on being so tough and they were. They’re as tough a team as we play physically. Our guys know that and we pride ourselves on being the same. It’s a grind when we play them.”
The Eagles (1-0) travel to Haverhill Saturday (3).