Catholic Memorial didn’t waste any time. The Knights needed only 12 total plays in their four scoring drives to get past Hartford, the defending Vermont state champions, 28-12, on Friday night in West Roxbury.
Led by senior captain and quarterback Kevin Claflin, Catholic Memorial put the game to rest in the second half when it outscored the Hurricanes, 14-0.
“We were a little shaky to start, but we regrouped and made some plays,” said CM coach Alex Campea after the Knights opened the season with a win. “Overall, we executed better in the second half.”
After Mike McNally started at quarterback and played the first half, Claflin started the second under center and on his second series struck quickly.
Sophomore Darren Wagner’s 25-yard run put the Knights in Hartford territory, and two plays later, Claflin found Gavin Ajuko for a 43-yard touchdown.
“We’re going to go with the hot hand,” Campea said of the QB situation. “Kevin is a terrific athlete and he made some plays for us in the second half.”
Meanwhile, the CM defense kept the Hurricanes off balance all night. Hartford never got into the red zone in the second half after scoring two first-half touchdowns.
“When you start excited, your focus isn’t where it needs to be,” Campea said of the defense. “Once we got focused, we were better.”
The Knights’ final touchdown was set up by a long punt return from senior Zack O’Brien. Three plays later, Claflin scampered into the end zone on a keeper from 5 yards out.
“I just wanted to go out there and perform to the best of my ability,” Claflin said. “I did as much as I could and we won the game.”
McNally had started off hot for the Knights, going 5 for 5 for 103 yards to start the game. That included a 75-yard catch-and-run by Pat Ferzoco for a touchdown in the first quarter. Ferzoco caught the pass near the 50-yard line and after breaking a tackle, juked his way past the last two defenders for a clear path to the end zone.
After the defense forced a three-and-out by Hartford, it took just two plays for the Knights to score again. Wagner broke through a tackle at the line of scrimmage and found space on the outside for a 72-yard touchdown run.
“Wagner had some big runs,” Campea said. “He’s a tough kid, he runs hard all the time. The offensive line made some hole for him.”
Campea knows there are plenty of things to correct in practice next week, but for now, the Knights are 1-0.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but the bottom line was we made some nice plays and some guys stepped up,” Campea said. “It was nice to win the first game of the season.”