FOXBOROUGH – For most of Saturday night, Central Catholic senior Cody Demers showcased his defensive skills, deflecting passes away from Xaverian wide receivers.
He delivered a crushing block on offense, too, allowing his quarterback the time to deliver a touchdown pass.
But with 2:23 remaining in the game, the Raiders captain and wide receiver showcased his true skill set when he made a juggling catch on a 22-yard touchdown pass as Central Catholic defeated Xaverian, 34-17, to win the Division 1 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
On the wings of Demers’s victory-sealing catch — and 119 yards and three TD from senior running back D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie, Central Catholic captured its first title since winning back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998.
“I knew they were going to want me to play a little defense, which I wasn’t too comfortable about,” said Demers, who played defensive back. “But I’m going to do whatever it takes to get my team to win.”
Xaverian nearly came back from a 27-10 deficit in the fourth quarter, but its offense ran out of gas. D’Aundre Holmes intercepted Central Catholic quarterback Mike Milano’s first throw of the quarter, and on the next play, Jake Farrell threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to AJ King to make it 27-17.
Xaverian (10-2) forced the Raiders (11-1) to go three and out on the next drive, but Central Catholic responded with a three-and-out stand of its own to get the ball back with 5:45 to play, which set up Demers’s touchdown.
“I would’ve liked to have a better offensive turnaround right there,” Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson said. “The time was against us, we maybe tried to force the clock a little bit.”
Demers was happy with his touchdown catch, but couldn’t hide a smile when asked about his block earlier in the game.
On first and 10, Milano was nearly sacked, but the 156-pound Demers delivered a clean, hard block to 6-foot-3-inch, 215-pound defensive end Nick Colantuoni.
“They’re letting that end go through the line, and I needed to come back and deliver a key block,” Demers said.
With extra time in the pocket, Milano hit Cam Manning in the end zone to give Central Catholic a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
“That block was huge,” Central Catholic coach Chuck Adamopoulos said. “And he loves that play because he gets to line guys up and make a great block.”
On the next possession, Central Catholic forced Xaverian to go three and out and Blades Shields blocked Joe Gaziano’s punt, setting the Raiders up at Xaverian’s 24.
Two plays later, Drummond-Mayrie scored on an 8-yard run to put the Raiders ahead, 13-0.
“At that point, it was a huge factor in getting that two-touchdown lead,” Adamopoulos said.
Xaverian answered on the next drive with a 10-yard run from Noah Sorrento, but Drummond-Mayrie followed with a 52-yard TD run, boosting Central Catholic to a 20-7 lead with 4:27 to play in the half.
On his way to the end zone, Drummond-Mayrie steamrolled a Xaverian defender.
“If I put a move, I probably would have got tackled,” Drummond-Mayrie said. “I got yelled at earlier in the season for putting a move on, so I just ran him over.”
Xaverian made one last bid for the end zone before the half, but Demers broke up Farrell’s pass to Damion Wood, and Gaziano kicked a 30-yard field goal to make it 20-10 at the break.
On the first drive of the third quarter, the Hawks made a key three-and-out stand, but as Central Catholic’s punt was rolling to a stop, Xaverian touched the ball and the Raiders recovered.
Drummond-Mayrie broke for a 23-yard gain, then capped the short drive with a 1-yard score to give the Raiders a 27-10 lead.
“They outplayed us,” Stevenson said. “We had a hard time matching up with them.”