Adding to the intensity and excitement, the game was played at Fenway Park, the home of the reigning World Champion Red Sox, for the second time in matchup history. The stakes were high as the two teams battled for the Catholic Conference Championship title, with the Hawks hungry for the win after falling to Catholic Memorial in the Division 1 South Championship. St. John’s Prep, with their Super Bowl berth secured, was eager to take back possession of the Drinan Trophy, which has been in Xaverian’s hands for five of the last six years.
This year’s edition of the game was filled with energy and exciting moments, as the Hawks prevailed to win by the final score of 14-12.
The momentum first turned Xaverian’s way when JoJo Marinella ’19 recovered an Eagles fumble in the first quarter. The Hawks offense quickly capitalized on this turnover by driving down the field on some big runs by Luke Thorbahn ’21, capping it off with a 10 yard touchdown run from quarterback Michael Berluti ’21. The Hawks stayed strong into the second quarter with some major defensive plays, including two sacks from star lineman Lucas Ferraro ’19. The Hawks got the ball back after a punt, and before long, they were on the Eagles’ 7-yard line, where Mike Masse ’19 powered it into the end zone on a trap play. St. John’s fought back with a touchdown on a punt return, but failed the 2-point conversion attempt, giving the Hawks a 14-6 Hawks lead at the end of the half.
In the second half, the Hawks returned with a vengeance, holding down the Eagles’ offense to the tune of 12 points. At the start of the third quarter, the Eagles threatened to score, getting the ball to the Xaverian 20-yard line and eyeing a touchdown. However, the St. John’s offense was no match for Nazio Defreitas ’19, who made an impressive grab in the end zone for an interception. On their next drive, the Eagles grabbed a touchdown to bring the score to 14-12, but once again failed to complete a 2-point conversion. They were silent for the remainder of the game. With 2:46 left in the fourth quarter, the airtight Hawks defense stopped St. John’s on fourth down to all but close out the game. After a subsequent 6-yard Masse run that brought the clock under two minutes and allowed Berluti to get into victory formation, the Hawks were officially Catholic Conference Champions.
“We wanted to bounce back. Losing to CM was tough. We knew we could win a Catholic Conference championship. It’s not a state championship, but it’s a great way to go out as a senior,” said wide receiver Cooper DeVeau ’19.
The game was a tight physical battle throughout, but the Hawks prevailed thanks to their hard work and determination. “When push came to shove, we were able to shove a little bit more than they could push,” said Coach Al Fornaro ’78.
Although this marked the end of the Hawks’ football season, the team has a lot to be thankful for. Mike Saliba ’19, Justin Wenstrom ’20, Connor Garland ’21, Thomas Garland ’21, Cooper DeVeau ’19, Grant Laws ’19, Lucas Ferraro ’19, Mike Masse ’19, and Trevor Carroll ’19 were all named Catholic Conference All Stars. In addition, DeVeau was named the Offensive MVP of the Catholic Conference, while Ferraro took home the Offensive Lineman of the Year award.
For the seniors on the team, this was a wonderful way to close out their high school football careers. “This meant a lot to us…Being Catholic Conference champions is the greatest feeling in the world...and Fenway Park is one of the greatest venues to play at, in any sport,” Ferraro said.