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MIAA D1 SUPER BOWL | ST. JOHN’S PREP 40, CATHOLIC MEMORIAL 22

Wes Rockett sparks St. John’s Prep to Div. 1 Super Bowl crown

St. John's Prep’s Wes Rockett hauls in a third-quarter TD pass despite the defense of CM’s Khari Johnson.
St. John's Prep’s Wes Rockett hauls in a third-quarter TD pass despite the defense of CM’s Khari Johnson.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

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FOXBOROUGH — All Wes Rockett needed was an opportunity.

An opportunity to play on high school football’s biggest stage, to wrest the momentum away from rival Catholic Memorial in a back-and-forth Division 1 Super Bowl, and immortalize his family name with a performance for the ages.

Late on Saturday night, St John’s Prep’s senior captain seized that opportunity, snaring a 21-yard touchdown reception with a defender draped all over him to put his team ahead for good in a 40-22 victory at Gillette Stadium.

It is the first state championship for St. John’s Prep (10-2) since the MIAA moved to the new playoff format in 2013. It also marks the end of a long road back for Rockett, who missed his entire junior season with a torn meniscus.

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“My main goal was just to play again. It was a long road back,” said Rockett. “I’m not going to lie and say [playing at Gillette] didn’t cross my mind. Of course it did. I’ve dreamt of this my entire life.”

Prep fifth-year coach Brian St. Pierre also coached Rockett’s older brothers, star receivers Owen and Hayden. The accomplished former quarterback had high praise for Wes, who finished with a game-high 189 yards and three touchdowns on nine receptions.

“Wes is as good a receiver as we’ve had,” said St. Pierre. “His brother Owen was a great receiver, Hayden as well, and [Wes] just cemented his legacy here. He was the best player on the field tonight.”

Wes Rockett shows the ball after coming down with a TD catch despite the coverage of CM’s Khari Johnson.
Wes Rockett shows the ball after coming down with a TD catch despite the coverage of CM’s Khari Johnson.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

The Prep defense dominated early, forcing the Knights (9-3) into four punts on their first four possessions.

Senior captain Aise Pream (21 carries, 155 yards) punched in a 6-yard touchdown, Sean Majeski hit a 35-yard field goal, and Rockett caught a 52-yard strike from Matt Crowley (11-of-27 passing, 218 yards, three touchdowns) to make it 16-0 Prep early in the second quarter.

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However, the CM defense turned the game around in a flash.

Related: Photos: Scenes from the 2018 high school Super Bowls

Lucas Folan stripped Crowley and Will Stockwell recovered, setting up a 23-yard touchdown pass from Barrett Pratt to Daniel Lopes.

Then Stockwell forced a fumble and senior Devon Williams returned it 47 yards for a touchdown to trim the deficit to 16-14 with just 1:05 coming off the clock.

Despite outgaining CM, 233-26, in the first half, Prep only held a 19-14 advantage at the break.

The Knights took a 22-19 lead on their first possession of the second half, as Pratt hit Owen McGowan for a 14-yard score and found Jamall Griffin for a successful 2-point conversion.

CM’s Khari Johnson (left) celebrates with Owen McGowan after McGowan caught a third-quarter TD pass.
CM’s Khari Johnson (left) celebrates with Owen McGowan after McGowan caught a third-quarter TD pass.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

But Prep showed no panic, rallying to stop CM on fourth and short before Rockett’s incredible catch in the back corner of the south end zone turned the tide.

“Owen [Rockett] was faster, but Wes is an unbelievable route runner,” said St. Pierre. “He understands coverages and the nuances of defenses and he has a special gift at catching the ball. I’ve never seen a guy at this level catch the ball so smoothly.”

Late in the fourth quarter, an Antael Rosa interception gave Prep good field position, and Pream made it a two-score game with a 4-yard touchdown run. Rockett added an interception at safety and put a bow on his night with a 26-yard touchdown on a blown coverage.

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“We were firing on all cylinders early and then we had a few turnovers,” Rockett said. “The general consensus on the sidelines was, that’s not us. Let’s play our game, bounce back, and finish this game and that’s exactly what we did.”

After leading his alma mater to glory, St. Pierre joins a select list of those to win a Massachusetts state championship as a player (1997) and coach with the same program.

“This encapsulates us,” St. Pierre said of the tumultuous victory. “We’re far from perfect. We’re a flawed group in a lot of ways, but it’s a beautiful group. They’re acutely aware of their strengths and weaknesses as a team and their resiliency will be their hallmark.”

St. John's Prep players whoop it up after securing the Division 1 Super Bowl win.
St. John's Prep players whoop it up after securing the Division 1 Super Bowl win.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

PIVOTAL PLAY: After the Prep defense stopped Catholic Memorial on fourth and inches, Eagles quarterback Matt Crowley looked to capitalize late in the third quarter. The junior lofted a perfect ball to the back pylon for Wes Rockett, who caught the ball over CM sophomore Zach Mitchell and landed with his back just barely in bounds to give the Eagles a lead they would never relinquish.

St. John’s Prep 40, Catholic Memorial 22

at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough

Catholic Memorial (9-3)

0 14  8  0 — 22

St. John’s Prep (10-2)

9 10  7 14 — 40

SJP — Aise Pream 6 run (rush failed)

SJP — Sean Majeski 35 field goal

SJP — Wes Rockett 52 pass from Matt Crowley ( kick)

CM — Daniel Lopes 23 run (Jamall Griffin run)

CM — Devon Williams 47 fumble return (pass failed)

SJP — Sean Majeski 27 field goal

CM — Owen McGowan 14 pass from Barrett Pratt (Jamall Griffin pass from Barrett Pratt)

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SJP — Wes Rockett 21 pass from Matt Crowley ( kick)

SJP — Aise Pream 4 run ( kick)

SJP — Wes Rockett 26 pass from Matt Crowley ( kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — CM, Zach Mitchell 5-42, Jamall Griffin 3-10, Darius LeClair 3-6, Owen McGowan 1-0, Barrett Pratt 2-(-11); SJP, Aise Pream 21-155, Trent Tully 6-16, Harry Trout 3-4, Pat Nistl 1-(-1), Matt Crowley 4-(-3)

PASSING — CM, Barrett Pratt 8-26-3-100; SJP, Matt Crowley 11-27--218

RECEIVING — CM, Brian Stubbs Jr. 3-40, Daniel Lopes 1-23, Owen McGowan 1-14, Hunter Tully 1-13, Khari Johnson 1-9, Jamall Griffin 1-1; SJP, Wes Rockett 9-189, Max Freedman 1-16, Aise Pream 1-13

More photos of the Division 1 Super Bowl:

St. John's Prep Aise Pream picks off a pass intended for CM’s Hunter Tully in the second quarter.
St. John's Prep Aise Pream picks off a pass intended for CM’s Hunter Tully in the second quarter.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
Coach Brian St. Pierre, who won a Super Bowl as a Prep player, celebrates after winning his first as a coach.
Coach Brian St. Pierre, who won a Super Bowl as a Prep player, celebrates after winning his first as a coach.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
Catholic Memorial's Devon Williams returns a recovered fumble 47 yards for a TD in the second quarter.
Catholic Memorial's Devon Williams returns a recovered fumble 47 yards for a TD in the second quarter.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
CM’s Daniel Lopes soared over St. John's Prep’s Aise Pream for a 23-yard TD catch in the second quarter.
CM’s Daniel Lopes soared over St. John's Prep’s Aise Pream for a 23-yard TD catch in the second quarter.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
St. John's Prep fans had plenty to cheer about during their win over Catholic Memorial.
St. John's Prep fans had plenty to cheer about during their win over Catholic Memorial.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

Nate Weitzer can be reached at nweitzer7@gmail.com.