Even though his football team has the opportunity to avenge a playoff loss from last year, St. John’s Prep coach Brian St. Pierre doesn’t consider Saturday’s clash against Everett a revenge game.
“Last year is last year. They’re a different team and we’re a different team,” said St. Pierre, whose top-seeded Eagles are 6-1 heading into Saturday’s Division 1 North quarterfinal game in Danvers. “I don’t think it’s the fact that we lost that has us motivated. I think the fact that it’s actually the playoffs is what has our guys up for the game.”
The eighth-seeded Crimson Tide won the North title last season, handing St. John’s Prep a 31-24 loss. This season has been different. Everett (3-4) has struggled, and its loss to Malden last Friday snapped a streak of 20 Greater Boston League titles won by the school. Everett has played the Prep five times in the postseason and won each meeting.
The Prep is coming off a tough game of its own, as Bridgewater-Raynham handed the Eagles their first loss of the season in an overtime thriller. The Prep was uncharacteristically sloppy in defeat.
“We were very unhappy with our performance last week because we hurt ourselves, and we don’t usually do that,” said St. Pierre. “It certainly wasn’t a good way to end the regular season, so I think we’re motivated to play better.”
Despite Everett’s season-long struggles, St. Pierre is wary of his opponent.
“We have a lot of respect for them,” said St. Pierre. “Any time these two teams get together, there’s usually a lot at stake and it’s a big game.”
The teams met during the regular season, with the Eagles dominating, 35-13. Senior quarterback Oliver Eberth led the way, accounting for 273 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.
“They’re as athletic as any team in the state. There’s a lot of talent on that team,” said St. Pierre of the Crimson Tide. “You have to play a mistake-free game to have a chance to beat them, and I think we did that the first time we played them.”
The Eagles will rely on Eberth, junior receiver Hayden Rockett and his freshman brother Wes, along with senior running back Dillon Preston to repeat their strong performances for an offense that averages 27 points per game.
The Crimson Tide will look to spread the St. John’s Prep defense thin, as they have seven players who have scored at least two touchdowns this season. Because of injuries, the quarterback could be a game-time decision for Everett.
“They have a bunch of athletes that they sub in and out all the time, so it’s hard to keep track of everyone you need to focus on,” said St. Pierre.
The winner of Saturday night’s game will advance to take on the winner of Friday night’s matchup between fourth-ranked Peabody and fifth-ranked Malden.
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There are 46 quarterfinal playoff games in EMass Friday, with just nine slated for Halloween day. And some of the games include two holidays. The Wakefield at Melrose (D3 Northwest), Catholic Memorial at BC High (D1 South), Plymouth South at Plymouth North (D3 Southeast), and Archbishop Williams at Cardinal Spellman (D5 South) games will all be repeated on Thanksgiving.