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schools: football preview

Austin Prep hopes to slow down Fenwick’s Rufus Rushins

Austin Prep coach Bill Maradei heard all about the drive.

Bishop Fenwick handed to junior Rufus Rushins six straight times late in the fourth quarter last Saturday, chewing up 48 yards and more than five minutes off the clock as the Crusaders tried to run out the clock in their 42-20 win over Cardinal Spellman.

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Rushins finished with 24 carries for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

Maradei and his Cougars are tasked with slowing down Rushins when they travel to Bishop Fenwick Friday at 7 p.m.

So how does Maradei hope to stop the powerful running back?

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“We’re saying a lot of prayers,” Maradei joked.

Maradei has seen Rushins tear it up before, two years ago in a 42-29 loss when Rushins was a freshman.

As a junior, Rushins has 11 touchdowns through four games.

“We havge to try to get him before he gets going,” Maradei said. “If he gets going, then we’ll be in serious trouble.

“If he gets to the second level, it’s going to be a long night for us.”

Maradei also admired how powerful the 230-pound Rushins is.

“He’s a beast,” Maradei said. “That’s a pure compliment. What a good football player.”

Both sides enter Friday night’s clash unbeaten at 4-0 and tied atop the Catholic Central Large standings with 2-0 marks through league play.

The Crusaders are lighting up the scoreboard with 45.8 points per game, the third highest in Eastern Mass., which Maradei says is “not by mistake.”

Along with Rushins, senior quarterback Nick Bona poses a threat when he breaks the pocket. Bona has four rushing touchdowns and three touchdown passes.

“Offensively, they’re just a powerhouse,” Maradei said of Bishop Fenwick.

But Maradei said his team is excited for the challenge.

The Cougar defense has surrendered just 8.5 points per contest this season.

They’re coming off a 36-6 win over Arlington Catholic last weekend to grab their fourth win, which matches their total from a year ago.

“We’re pretty ecstatic that we’re doing so well right now,” Maradei said.

One of the biggest differences in the turnaround is the maturation of the team’s core.

Austin Prep has five seniors who have started since they were sophomores: running backs Jonny Saurman, Nick Mulcahy, and Damian Dell’Anno, and guards Dan Catalano and Peter Diorio.

“Those five guys right there, that’s half your offense,” Maradei said.

Maradei said the Cougars boast a bigger and more physical team than a year ago, especially on the offensive line, which has made a big difference in 2013.

And with first place up for grabs, Austin Prep could put itself in great position to get into the postseason.

“We’re just happy to be in this situation, to tell you the truth,” Maradei said.

.   .   .

Two top-10 teams meet Friday when No. 8 Central Catholic (3-1) hosts No. 7 Lowell (3-1) at 7 p.m. Both teams are a half-game behind Chelmsford in Merrimack Valley Division 1. Lowell is led by quarterback Brian Dolan (10 touchdown passes) and receiver Jack Galvin (seven TD receptions). Central counters with D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie (six rushing TDs) . . . No. 4 Xaverian tries to make it two wins in a row when it hosts No. 10 Brockton, which tries to rebound from a tough, 6-0 loss at BC High last week. Kickoff is Saturday at 1 p.m. . . . South Coast Large teams meet Friday when Old Rochester (4-0) visits Dighton-Rehoboth (4-1) at 7 p.m. . . . Lincoln-Sudbury (3-1) travels to Waltham (2-1) Saturday at 1 p.m.

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