MANSFIELD — St. John’s Prep counted on returning quarterback Ollie Eberth to provide a steady hand, despite the team breaking in nine new starters on offense.
However, Eberth also had to find a new go-to target with All-Scholastic wide receiver Owen Rockett lost to graduation.
The Eagles didn’t have to look far. Owen’s brother, Hayden, had seven receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns to help the fourth-ranked Eagles cruise to a 42-14 victory over No. 13 Mansfield on Friday night.
Rockett hauled in a 22-yard strike in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7. The junior receiver then provided a jolt of momentum in the second half, taking a screen pass 52 yards for a score on just the third play after halftime for a 21-7 lead
“Everybody was just flying at me, I was trying to make a move,” said Rockett. “I stepped back, stepped back, and stepped back and found some green grass in front of me.”
His quarterback was happy to watch a routine play go for a score.
“I threw it 1 yard and he took it 50,” said Eberth. “We were all saying “DaDaDa, DaDaDa SportsCenter” on the sideline. That was phenomenal . . . Maybe I’ll buy him something, he helped me out a ton this week.”
Eberth finished 11 for 12 with 207 yards and four touchdowns through the air. He also broke off a 60-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to put the Eagles up, 14-7.
At the start, it seemed like Mansfield would be able to move the ball against St. John’s Prep.
Brian Lynch powered in from 5 yards on the first possession of the game to give the Hornets a 7-0 advantage.
Lynch piled up 37 yards rushing on the drive, but finished the game with just 45.
“We’re a strong physical football team,” said Eagles coach Brian St. Pierre. “After the first drive we calmed down and settled into the game.”
Leading, 14-7, with the first half winding down, St. John’s Prep missed an opportunity to take a bigger lead into the half after a block from behind negated a 31-yard touchdown run by Dillon Preston.
“We should have had more of a lead going into the half than we did, and it was because of us [that we didn’t],” said St. Pierre. “We stuck with our stuff, we felt good about the plan, it was about executing a little better.”
Outside of Lynch’s second touchdown run of the game in the third quarter, the second half belonged to the Eagles. St. John’s Prep scored 21 unanswered points after Lynch pulled the Hornets within 21-14.
Eberth tossed his fourth touchdown of the night to junior tight end Declan Burt in the fourth quarter. Junior running back Alex Rodolosi capped the scoring with a 13-yard run late in the game.
St. Pierre and Eberth both gave credit to a young offensive line for performing well in the opener, paving the way for a rushing attack that compiled 239 yards. Senior Jay Carnevale is the sole returner on the Eagles’ line.
“The guys did a great job at giving me time to throw the ball and making huge holes for the backs to run through,” said Eberth.
“We’re still learning about guys,” added St. Pierre. “But this is a really good step.”