Shane Hanafin was in unchartered territory against Lawrence Academy on Saturday afternoon in Cambridge.
With senior Ryan Eamer sidelined, the freshman from Burlington was tasked with making his first start at quarterback in Buckingham Browne & Nichols’s season opener.
Staring at a third and long just before the half, Hanafin dropped back and found senior receiver Andrew Elkins open on the sideline. His throw gave Elkins enough space to sprint into the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown and a 21-0 cushion, the decisive blow in a 34-8 Independent School League victory.
Not bad for Hanafin’s first varsity start, or pass attempt, for that matter.
“All the coaches and [Ryan Eamer] in particular did a great job of preparing me to go in,” said Hanafin. “I saw the [cornerback] on the left backing off and just knew I could hit it. I gave it to [Elkins], let him do his thing, and he scored.”
From the get-go, BB&N moved the ball downfield at will.
Senior back Zachary Cyr (117 total yards from scrimmage) returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown on the Knights’ first return.
Shortly after, junior back Salvatore Malignaggi made amends for a lost fumble when he punctuated a 45-yard, four-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown run at the end of the first quarter.
The Spartans’ offensive line struggled. Four holding penalties in the first half and consistent pressure on the edge prevented Lawrence Academy, the defending league champions, from entering BB&N territory until the second half.
Following Hanafin’s touchdown pass, the Knights continued pounding the ball on the ground. Cyr and Malignaggi (230 combined all-purpose yards) kept the chains moving and took the pressure off Hanafin (100 yards passing) for the rest of the afternoon.
“It’s not a serious injury, [Ryan Eamer] wasn’t ready to go this week so we just held him out,” said BB&N coach Mike Willey, who expressed confidence in Hanafin after awarding him the game ball.
“Obviously Eamer is our No. 1 guy, but Shane stepped right in and we’ll have to take it day-by-day.
Mike Kotsopoulos can be reached at email@example.com.