The Xaverian football team entered the year as a major contender to win the Catholic Conference, as well as the state championship. Motivated to improve from last season, the Hawks burst onto the scene in 2023, going 6-2 during the regular season with some commanding wins along the way. A stellar offense led by quarterback Henry Hasselbeck ’24, running backs Denzil Pierre ’24 and Michael O’Connor ’24, and wide receiver Jonathan Monteiro ’24 consistently put up points against some of the best defenses in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Xaverian’s own defense challenged opponents behind defensive linemen Andrew Dufault ’24, Nicholas Angelini ’24, and Micah Amedee ’25, linebackers Hunter Molway ’24 and Vincent Busa ’25, and safeties O’Connor and David Chiavegato ’26.
With their strong regular season performance, the Hawks secured the #2 seed in the MIAA Division I playoffs, earning home field advantage through the Elite 8. In round one, Xaverian dismantled visiting team St. John’s High School 49-7, setting the stage for a critical matchup against Springfield Central High School. This was the team that knocked the Hawks out in 2022 and had escaped 800 Clapboardtree Street with a win back in September. In a fierce battle with the two teams playing a close game down the stretch, Xaverian got their revenge on the Golden Eagles with a 21-20 victory, advancing them to the Final Four against Needham High School. At a neutral site in Brockton, the two teams clashed for the right to play for a championship. Despite suffering early injuries, it was another win for the Hawks (20-17), sending them to the biggest stage in Massachusetts: Gillette Stadium.
Before the championship game, Xaverian played its annual Thanksgiving Day matchup against the very opponent they would see six days later: St. John’s Prep. The two sides played a tight game down to the final whistle, but it was the Hawks who edged out their archrivals on a walkoff field goal from kicker Luke Bell ’25. This secured them a piece of the Catholic Conference title. With one win under their belts, the team looked forward to their final test of the season.
On Wednesday, November 29, under the bright lights of Gillette Stadium, the Hawks stood ready to compete for the Division 1 title. From kickoff, it was clear that another nail biter was in store for the Hawks, with the two teams exchanging scores all game. Throughout the game, Hasselbeck was able to make plays with both his arm and his legs, while O’Connor was able to find holes in the Eagles’ defense on the ground. With key players out for Xaverian, it was Caleb Brown ’24 who stepped up on the biggest stage, recording three touchdown receptions to give the Hawks a late boost. Leading by six as St John’s Prep began its last drive, the Xaverian defense made its presence felt, recording a pair of sacks on consecutive plays in the last minute. The final pass fell incomplete short of the endzone, making the Hawks Division I State Champions. Congratulations, Hawks!
Celebrating Coach Al Fornaro ’78
For his efforts in leading the Hawks to the Catholic Conference championship with their thrilling Thanksgiving Day win over St. John’s Prep, Head Coach Al Fornaro ’78 received the honor of being named the New England Patriots Thanksgiving Coach of the Week. Additionally, following the team’s victory in the State Championship Game, Coach Fornaro was given further recognition for his work on the sidelines with the distinguished title of Coach of the Year! Andre Tippett, P ’16, former Patriots linebacker, came to campus to present Coach Fornaro with the awards. The first came with a $1,000 donation to Xaverian, and the second with a $2,000 donation. Well deserved, Coach!