DANVERS — In the first football playoff game in Lowell High history, the Red Raiders could not have made a more profound statement.
Lowell pummeled host St. John’s Prep on Saturday, knocking off the reigning Division 1 Super Bowl champions, 41-0.
Keagan Latta was a thorn in the Eagles’ wing, returning a fumble and an interception to pay dirt in the second quarter.
The pick-6 was his second of three interceptions on the afternoon.
“I ate my Wheaties this morning,” joked Latta.
“All week we knew [Owen Rockett] and [Jake Burt] were their main receivers, so I just kind of shadowed them all game and found my way to the ball.”
Latta, whose older brother Cam was a Globe All-Scholastic quarterback for the Red Raiders last fall, also hauled in a 26-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Brian Dolan in the first quarter.
Dolan, a transfer from Lawrence Academy, showed his usual poise, helping Lowell put the game away in the first half, in which he went 9 for 13 for 176 yards and a touchdown.
His usual prime target, Jack Galvin was not much of a factor, but Tom Smith stepped up for four first-half catches for 105 yards.
And the Red Raiders (6-2) also got 86 yards and three rushing touchdowns from 5-foot-5-inch senior running back Ngaiiva Mason.
The Eagles (4-4), who usually dominate the ground game, couldn’t get untracked, especially given the absence of injured back, Johnathan Thomas.
Lowell’s defensive line was impenetrable, only allowing the run-heavy Eagles to accumulate 57 yards on 29 attempts, as it blitzed throughout the game.
“We definitely focused on that all week long; to shut down [their running game] and force them to try to throw the ball on us,” said Red Raiders coach John Florence.
But when Prep turned to the passing game, it didn’t fare any better. On the afternoon, Prep’s quarterbacks threw four interceptions.
“Hopefully everybody knows Lowell’s not someone you mess with anymore,” Latta said. “Hopefully we’re making our mark on the state football tournament.”
The next challenge for Lowell will be its biggest of the season, as the Red Raiders face the No. 1 Crimson Tide in Everett on Friday night.
“We know they’re a come-right-at-you, smashmouth type of team, so we’ve got to be ready and get prepared for that,” said Florence.
“I’m definitely happy with the kids and the way they played today, but at this point we don’t want to settle on one . . . we want to keep going.”Taylor C. Snow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @taylorcsnow.