MILTON — Abington, a team that usually relies on its multitude of running backs, turned to its defense to ensure a Super Bowl victory.
The Green Wave are the Division 4 champions, defeating St. Mary’s of Lynn, 14-8, after a red-zone stand thwarted the Spartans’ final drive.
“I tell my kids defensively to keep on hanging in there,” said Abington coach Jim Kelliher. “Something positive will happen.”
Something positive sure did happen after St. Mary’s drove to the red zone. With the Green Wave defensive front stifling St. Mary’s ground game, the Spartans turned to the air for much of the second half.
“We were a little surprised at that,” said Kelliher. “They run the ball effectively, and didn’t throw one pass on Tuesday.”
Sophomore quarterback Jake Cassidy, who was 4 for 7 for 41 yards in the second half, guided the Spartans within the 10-yard line.
Cassidy felt the rush on third down and threw a desperation pass into the end zone, and it came down in the hands of Abington defensive back Joe Brady.
“It’s hard to explain,” said Brady when asked about the interception. “Being mobbed by my teammates, everyone just exploded. We really came up big on that drive.”
Two plays prior to Brady’s interception, Cassidy threw off play-action, but a Green Wave defender dislodged the ball from Jordan Manthorne’s grasp.
“You don’t expect that kind of stuff to happen,” said Kelliher. “To be at the 5-yard line, don’t back down, which is kind of our motto, and we came through.”
Abington then ran out the clock, turning to its three-headed rushing attack led by Matt Kilmain, who carried 14 times for 165 yards and a touchdown.
“He has truly done a yeoman’s job for us,” Kelliher said of Kilmain, who totaled 417 yards in two postseason games. “With the help of his teammates he has been able to perform at a high level, particularly in the second half of the season.”
Although defense ended up being the name of the game, defense was nowhere to be found the first two possessions of the game.
St. Mary’s received the opening kick and promptly marched down the field. Jordan Collier capped the drive, with a 1-yard plunge. John Gaeta’s 52-yard run was the key play.
The Green Wave answered with a methodical, nine-play, 58-yard drive to knot the game at 8. Fullback Jack Malafronte, who stands in at 5 feet 5 inches, bounced off two defenders for a 14-yard scoring run.
From that moment, both defenses settled in, allowing 6 points over the final three quarters.
Those points belonged to Kilmain. On a stretch play, the junior halfback took a handoff and bounced it up the left sideline 80 yards for the score.
“In terms of running the ball, it has been a complete effort from all of us,” said Babila Fonkem, who finished with 57 yards on seven carries and is the third member of the backfield. “With a result like this, it’s great.”
This isn’t the last you’ll hear of St. Mary’s, which should make another title run next season. The Spartans return four primary offensive weapons, including Collier.
After a 6-5 campaign a year ago, the Green Wave will relish in their 13-0 season.
“It has been an emotional season, it really has,” said Kelliher. “Of course, I think about calling it a career, but I feel like I still have something to give. This is a great town, with great support and everyone has helped this year. It’s just great to say 13-0. Thirteen is a good number to me.”