DANVERS — In each of the previous four seasons, longtime Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson played his starters in the annual Thanksgiving clash against St. John’s Prep, despite having clinched a berth in the Division 1 Super Bowl.
On Thursday, first-year coach Al Fornaro emulated his predecessor and the Hawks’ top unit rolled to a 30-0 victory at Glatz Field.
Xaverian (7-4), which will play top-ranked Everett Dec. 2 at Gillette Stadium for the Division 1 state title, has beaten St. John’s Prep (5-6) five straight times.
“The state of Massachusetts says you can play 11 football games and our take is you allow us 11 games, we’re playing 11 games,” Fornaro said. “If you ask any of my seniors if they want to sit down they’d say no way. You only get to play St. John’s Prep as a senior once in your career. It’s a big game.”
The Hawks forced four turnovers, including three first-half interceptions. Three of those turnovers led to scores on the ensuing drives.
Quarterback Davin Sweeney rushed for a touchdown and senior running back Ikechukwu Irabor added two scores on the ground.
“It’s great considering it’s Thanksgiving and we get to play another game at St. John’s Prep,” Irabor said. “I took it to heart.”
Xaverian struck first late in the opening quarter when Sweeney kept a drive going with a key third-down completion. After a penalty, Sweeney sneaked in from 2 yards to put the Hawks on the board.
On the ensuing Prep drive, Justin Wenstrom had an 8-yard interception return and Xaverian took a 14-0 lead.
Turnovers plagued the Eagles. Three plays later, Michael Saliba had an interception, and Irabor capitalized with an 11-yard touchdown run.
After Prep turned it over on downs on its second possession of the second half, Irabor ripped off a 50-yard touchdown run on the next play to give Xaverian a commanding 27-0 lead.