DANVERS — Because it’s been nearly two years since St. John’s Prep repeated in the Division 1 state final, the seventh-ranked Eagles believed it was necessary to deliver a resounding reminder that they’re still the champions.
Prep demolished top-ranked Central Catholic team, 49-14, in a nonleague bout Saturday afternoon at Glatz Field that got out of hand shortly into the second quarter.
“[Central Catholic] comes in with a ton of hype. There’s a lot of talk about them, Springfield Central, and Xaverian, and not about us,” Prep coach Brian St. Pierre said.
“We love it. [The players] relish it. Our program, I don’t know that we’re the flashiest or anything, but our kids work really, really hard and they buy into showing up every day with a blue-collar mentality and going to work.”
The Prep defense set the tone early by limiting Central to just 17 net yards on the Raiders’ first three drives. Kolten Williams provided a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown, but the Central offense didn’t score until the closing minutes after the Ayden Pereira-directed attack produced 67 points in a shootout win at Springfield Central last Friday.
“We have to get better in some areas,” Central coach Chuck Adamapoulos said. “We got away with stuff last week, and we didn’t get away with it today. We have to get better if we want to be a factor. My hat is off to St. John’s Prep.”
Prep senior quarterback Jack Perry executed the offensive game plan flawlessly, finding Jesse Ofurie, Stephon Patrick, and Jackson Delaney for touchdowns in the first quarter to open a 21-7 lead.
Perry (15-for-23 passing, 261 yards, 6 TDs) continued his tear in the second quarter, when he found Delaney (5 receptions, 133 yards, 3 TDs) for two more scores and hit Ofurie (5 receptions, 53 yards, 2 TD) for a 14-yard score on fourth down, as Prep (2-0) took a 42-7 lead into halftime.
After the Eagles yielded 42 points in a shootout win at Marshfield last week, St. Pierre said his defense brought extra motivation into the challenge of containing Pereira and the Raiders.
“Last week, we played very poorly on defense and we challenged the kids this week,” St. Pierre said. “They watched the film. They were embarrassed by what happened [at Marshfield], and they were a very, very motivated group. And they were outstanding.”
Prep has now defeated Central in three consecutive matchups, including wins in the D1 North final en route to state titles in 2018 and 2019.
For Delaney, who has been on varsity since his freshman year and played a role on both state title teams, a key regular-season win over a rival is only one step toward the ultimate goal.
“Every year, we always beat [Central]. We knew we were going to win coming into this game,” said Delaney, who is committed to attend Brown University.
“Now we know what our goal is, which is to win the Super Bowl. We’re here to show that we’re the best team in the state and I think we showed that today.”