Defense leads the way in Crusaders’ Div. 6 North opener win against Ipswich

Bishop Fenwick's Joe Rivers celebrates after recovering a fumble. (Spenser R. Hasak)

PEABODY — Defense shined for the No. 3 Fenwick football team in Friday’s 35-0 Division 6 North first-round win over No. 6 Ipswich at Steven E. Donaldson Stadium.

Discipline was the name of the game for the Crusaders. The Tigers’ offense had plenty of options in the run game, but Fenwick’s defense didn’t disappoint.

“I thought our defense was phenomenal,” Fenwick coach Dave Woods said. “We had a great defensive gameplan. We tried to clog up the middle and force them outside where our athletes could make plays.

“That’s not an easy offense to stop. It’s the true split veer offense, they don’t do as much triple option but they do some. You have to be real disciplined, read your keys, play your position and make sure you don’t get out of position.”

After a quick defensive stop the Crusaders marched right down the field on their opening drive. Chrys Wilson ran in a 1-yard quarterback sneak to put Fenwick ahead 6-0. 

The defense took over from there. Matt Juneau forced a fumble and Fenwick recovered to set up the offense with a short field. Wilson connected with Stefano Fabiano on a 21-yard touchdown pass and ran in a 2-point try to stretch Fenwick’s lead to 14-0. 

With time winding down in the first half, Jake Connolly intercepted an Ipswich pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown to give the Crusaders a 21-0 lead before the break (David Cifuentes PAT). 

Fenwick turned to the passing game to start the second half and Jason Romans led the way with three catches, including a sprawling grab on a tipped pass for a 16-yard touchdown, to give Fenwick a commanding 28-0 lead. 

“When we split our four receivers out, even two guys on the bench, all six of those guys are great athletes,” Woods said. “We hit Stefano on a hitch earlier and he went 21 yards. When you have kids like that it’s just about getting it in their hands.”

Cifuentes capped off the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run. 

Fenwick will travel to No. 2 Greater Lowell next Saturday (7) in the semifinal round. 

“You have to turn up the intensity a little bit more every week,” Woods said. “You need your leaders and big playmakers to step up. They did that (Friday) for sure.”

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