Romans gave Fenwick a much-needed boost in Div. 6 North final

Bishop Fenwick's Jason Romans started the season at quarterback before shifting over to receiver. (Spenser R. Hasak)

PEABODY — Throughout the season, the Bishop Fenwick football team has relied on its athletes to make game-changing plays in crucial moments. 

Look no further to see that playmaking ability than the Crusaders’ game-winning touchdown drive late in the third quarter of last Friday’s Division 6 North final against Stoneham at Steven E. Donaldson Stadium.

After trailing for over 25 minutes, coach Dave Woods and the Crusaders had to dig deep into their playbook, moving down the field with a pair of trick plays.

A punt set the Crusaders up at their own 33 and things started with a hook-and-ladder call. Quarterback Chrys Wilson hit Jason Romans on a curl route and Romans tossed the ball over to running back David Cifuentes who ran 29 yards to put Fenwick in great field position.

After another Crusaders first down, the tricky play call continued with Romans once again playing a key role. This time, the sophomore caught a screen pass and dropped back to pass, throwing a perfect strike to Angel Martinez for a 20-yard touchdown. The score put the Crusaders ahead 25-20, a lead they wouldn’t surrender on their way to a Division 6 North championship.

Just like it would any player, the double-pass play call for the game-winning touchdown gave Romans jitters, but the former quarterback-turned-wide receiver was ready to deliver in the crucial moment.

“It’s nerve racking,” Romans said. “We practice those plays to use in all the games. I moved to wide receiver a couple weeks ago and didn’t really play quarterback much of the time this season. But when I can throw the ball and if it helps us move the ball down field I’m all for it. Coach Woods relied on me to throw the ball down field and we made two big plays.

“It’s still second nature to throw the ball. It was just a normal pass, like if I did it in a game at quarterback. It felt normal.”

The Crusaders had to make a few adjustments on the fly for their game-winning drive. 

“It’s funny, a couple of them were set up for Joe Rivers, but Joe went down with an injury so we had to make some alterations,” Woods said. “It worked because we have a lot of athletes that can do a lot of things.”

Those athletes, and the chemistry they have built on and off the field, were key in running not only the double pass but the hook-and-ladder from Romans to Cifuentes.

“I don’t think we’ve run that in a game,” Woods said of the hook-and-ladder. “We’ve run it a few times with David (Cifuentes) when he was a sophomore (now a senior) but not in a game yet this year.” 

“Good chemistry always makes a good football team,” Romans said. “Me and David practiced that pitch about three times after practices. We just work on it so we can get the timing down. And you can tell that made it work.”

Earlier in the game, Stoneham actually broke out its own share of trick plays with a fake-toss-pass that gave the Spartans a 14-7 lead. It was an early indication that neither team was going to hold anything back with a ticket to Gillette Stadium on the line. But in the end, the Crusaders were one step ahead.

“(Stoneham) ran some too,” Woods said. “They had a toss pass for a touchdown. In a game like this there’s no reason to hold anything back. 

“I didn’t have one more trick play left. We’ve been practicing (those plays) for about six weeks. We were just waiting for the right time to use some of those things.”

The Crusaders have a bye in the state semifinal round and advance to the Division 6 state championship on Dec. 7 at Gillette Stadium. Fenwick will play the winner of South champ Ashland/Central champ Millbury.

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